Kardashians on the brain

Kim Kardashian-West popped into my newsfeed. Much as I try not to get sucked in to the Kardashians’ antics, you have to admit, the woman is eye-catchingly beautiful. 

It was bothering me where I’d seen her before – locally. Then it came to me. The Co-Op! Every time I scan my baked beans, I am distracted by the improbably pneumatic figure of the simulated till girl.

I wonder if the software designer was a bloke, and what was on his mind while he was creating a tedious instruction video about how to use the scanner?

Cos there ain’t nobody who looks like that in the local Co-Op, that’s for damn sure! 

Support your local independent butcher

Hammonds Butcher & Delicatessen does not have the easiest of tasks in attracting passing trade. They’re tucked away down a slip road, beneath the apartment block on Kew Bridge Rd. 

You have to know they’re there in order to go and shop there, as they are hidden from view from the main road by the high stone parapets of Kew Bridge. But once people find them they go back, as their food is so good (and they offer 10% off to Club Card holders).

The slip road has until now been one of the few roads in the area where you can park without paying, but all that is about to change. The minimum charge in the proposed Controlled Parking Zone will be £1.20 for half an hour, which makes for a very expensive piece of cheese, if that’s all you’re nipping in there for.

Hammonds would like free 30 minute parking for customers, so they can do business on the same terms as businesses on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd. Otherwise they fear the impact on their business will be disastrous. 

If you would like to support that idea, email Traffic@hounslow.gov.uk by 2nd August – ie. this Friday. Reference: Kewroadaccessroadstat

The Chiswick Calendar Freebie

We have a couple of free tickets to give away for the Pub in the Park event in the gardens of Chiswick House on 6 – 8 September. 

The Uk’s finest chefs and food writers convene for a weekend of wine, food and song, the weekend before our own Cookbook festival. Our cups runneth over. Rick Stein will be among the chefs appearing to talk about food. Razorlight, Gabrielle, and Texas among the artists on the main stage. 

Local celebs Jo Pratt and Sophie Ellis-Bextor join Rick Stein, James Martin, Angela Hartnett and Jay Rayner amongst other household names.

Tom Kerridge (middle)

The first person to email us with the correct answer to the following question wins a pair of tickets to one of five sessions during the three days. 

What is the name of Tom Kerridge’s pub in Marlow? The only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. 

info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk 

The winner’s name will be published on The Chiswick Calendar website.

How West London Rocked the World

Ealing’s claim to fame is that many musicians spent formative years at the Ealing Club, London’s first rhythm and blues venue. The many music pioneers who lived, worked and played here include members of the Rolling Stones, the Who, Queen, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Dusty Springfield, Fleetwood Mac and many more.

This fact will be celebrated at a special session of the Chiswick Book Festival, held for the first time at Gunnersbury Park. The session, called ‘How West London Rocked the World’, highlighting The A-Z of Ealing Rock Music, will feature Robert Hokum, founder of Ealing Blues Festival, talking to Caroline Frost, author and former entertainment editor of Huffington Post.

Tickets are now on sale for the Chiswick Book Festival on the book festival website

Be part of the Cookbook festival team

The Cookbook festival is looking for volunteers. They want people to help out from Wednesday 12 through to Sunday 16 September.

They need people to help supervise cookery demonstrations and events in the marquees and at the street party in Turnham Green Tarrace on the Sunday, when the road will be closed to traffic.

Expect to be lifting, carrying, washing up and helping out in the kitchen preparing tasters for the demonstrations. Not exactly glamorous work, but Lucy Cufflin, co-organiser, promises the atmosphere will be “jolly” and promises excellent snacks to keep you going.

Ride together into London

If you might enjoy a leisurely ride into and around central London on Saturday, there is a group leaving Brentford Market Place at 9:30am, passing Chiswick Town Hall and Turnham Green Underground station on the way to Central London.

To join them, organisers Hounslow Cycling Campaign ask that you register here. Under 18s must be accompanied by a responsible adult and if you’re joining en route, make yourself known to the ride leader.

Waste Not Want Not: Free cookery classes 

Kitchen Joy in Chiswick will be holding two free pop-up cookery classes this month – on Wednesday 7 and Wednesday 28 August. The workshops are aimed at reducing food waste.

Households in the UK throw away an estimated £13bn worth of food each year. The Small Change, Big Difference campaign offers classes which ‘will inspire participants with delicious, quick and easy recipes to make the most of items loitering in fridges and store cupboards and ensure nothing goes to waste.’

For more information and to book a place on a cookery workshop, visit mallchangebigdifference.london

Places are free, and are booked via Eventbrite with a £10 returnable deposit. The £10 deposit will not be refunded in the event of a no-show at the specified workshop, and the money will be donated to charity.  Book tickets on Eventbrite here.

Prepare for a weekend of cycling

This might mean – check out your bike, grease whatever bits might need greasing and do whatever cyclists do when preparing for a long ride. Or it might mean remembering to avoid Chiswick Bridge next weekend.

More than 100,000 riders are expected to participate in seven separate events over the weekend, ranging from families pootling around central London, enjoying being able to cycle round Trafalgar Square in peace on Saturday, to the some of the top cyclists in the world flashing past west London in record time on Sunday. Either way, do not let it come to you as a horrible surprise that Hammersmith flyover, Great West Rd and Hogarth roundabout westbound, and  Burlington Lane / Great Chertsey Rd and Chiswick Bridge will be closed from 05.00am on Sunday morning until about 12.15pm.

The A4 eastbound will remain open, but the organisers’ advice is: ‘Avoid driving in the affected areas unless absolutely necessary’. The route for the races on Sunday takes participants through west London from Hyde Park to Surrey, over Chiswick Bridge on the way out and Putney Bridge on the way back. Hammersmith Bridge is already closed as we know, so I’m guessing Kew Bridge is going to be busy. See Ride London’s leaflet about road closures here.

Charities lose contacts since introduction of GDPR

Guest blog by Matthew Hunt

Since the General Data Protection Regulation was introduced in May last year, small not-for-profits and charities have reported a severe loss of contacts. Many of them had to delete their databases and start from scratch, asking the public to agree to their information being kept in their contacts files by opting in. According to a survey of charities by trade publication Third Sector, 18% said they’d lost half of their emailable contacts. Those affected include major charities. One big national charity is reported to have lost 40% of their contacts due to lack of GDPR compliant permissions.

Win back your clients

Club Card business 11 London is a strategic and creative communications company. Managing Director Matthew Hunt explains how they help organisations grow their contact database, or win them back, using social media.

Ah, GDPR. The tedious courses. The complex consent procedures. And the  sad shrivelling of your once-proud database. If you run a business in West London, you may well be finding it more difficult to attract potential customers in these challenging times. However, all is not lost. Social media offers a real opportunity to generate leads, but it’s under-used because most businesses still don’t grasp the potential of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to provide business platforms. Yet once you understand these platforms, you unlock tremendous reach and targeting power. Social media ads enable you to swiftly test multiple creative propositions and products, and instantly find the message that really works for your business – all for a comparatively low media spend.

If we sound evangelical, it’s because here at 11 London we have seen great results creating social media campaigns for a range of clients in the health and humanity sectors – in which we specialise. They include a West London based commercial health brand, for whom we developed a Facebook campaign that ran for several years in university cities across the UK, successfully encouraging new students to visit their GPs for contraception. Then there’s the UK health and accommodation charity YMCA, for whom a £12 a month sponsorship product, tested on Facebook, is now their main donor recruitment mechanism – with Twitter and Instagram the best performing platforms.

The potential for use by dentists, restaurants, health spas and private clinics alike to drive business is immense, and is a very different kettle of fish from simply writing a post or even boosting it. We’ve distilled all our learnings into our own product, which we call Social Media Labs, and have used it to help over a dozen clients to generate and convert leads.  Digital networking is the future, so get in touch with us if you’d like to make it work for you.

11 London offers Club Card holders 20% off their agency fees.

11-london.com

Matthew Hunt is the Managing Director of communications agency 11 London

11 London is part of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two wheels v four

An interesting development in the Mayor of London’s attempts to create cycleways across London. The Mayor’s office is seeking to take major roads away from the control of local councils if they oppose cycle routes through their boroughs. The Evening Standard reported yesterday that councils which attempted ‘to block attempts to cut road deaths and injuries’ could have key roads taken out of their control.

London has seen a 14% increase in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the past year. There were 12 cycle deaths and 771 serious injuries last year, compared with 10 fatalities and 675 serious injuries in 2017. The number of cycle trips has also increased, by about eight per cent in central London over the same period.

Now Heidi Alexander, the Deputy Mayor for Transport, has asked Transport for London to investigate whether control of Holland Park Avenue and Notting Hill Gate can be taken from Kensington and Chelsea borough council and added to TfL’s “Red Routes” network.  Sadiq Khan had to abandon plans for cycle routes through Holland Park Avenue and Swiss Cottage when the council opposed them and is looking at ways to stop councils “holding the city to ransom”.

The network of cycleways (rebranded from the scary sounding ‘Cycle Superhighways’) makes cycling safer by segregating cyclists from the main traffic on the road by a raised kerb.

August Books

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses three good reads for August.

If You Were Here

Alice Peterson is best known for her novel A Song For Tomorrow, a book that stayed with its readers for a long time. Now she is back with a novel that will break your heart and put it back together again. If You Were Here is an emotional, inspiring and uplifting novel about living life to the fullest. Peggy’s daughter Beth suddenly dies and she is left to take care of her granddaughter, Flo.

When Peggy goes through her daughter’s things she discovers a secret; Beth had the same genetic condition that took her father’s life. Peggy has to either keep their secret or reveal to Flo that her life might be at risk. If a test could decide your future, would you take it? If You Were Here is out on Thursday 22 August.

Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames

It is the tides that make mudlarking in London unique, says Lara Maiklem, when she talks about her new book Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames. For 15 years mudlark Lara Maiklem has been walking the Thames foreshore at all times of the day and in all seasons, finding items discarded by generations of Londoners. Roman hair pins, Medieval shoe buckles, Tudor buttons and Georgian clay pipes are some of many treasures she has rescued from the river.

The book is part memoir, as she threads her own story through the history of the Thames. “It is often the tiniest of objects that tell the greatest stories”, she writes. The Bookseller reviews it as “An enthralling and evocative history of London and its people.” It’s also their Book of the Month. Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames is out on Thursday 22 August.

The Girl Before You is said to be the new Girl on The Train. Nicola Rayner has written a clever, psychological crime thriller, told in two different time frames. The main character Alice is haunted by the women from her husband’s past. And there is one ex in particular that she can’t get out of her head; the beautiful Ruth, who went missing. Alice thinks she sees Ruth on a train.

Is she alive? Or dead? Will she just turn up one day? The Observer reviewed it as “Note-perfect prose and an ending that will leave you gasping. So addictive, it should come with a health warning”. The Girl Before You is published on Thursday 22 August.

Anna Klerfalk

Anna is a literary agent based in Chiswick who is keen to hear from authors trying to get their books published. Contact her on anna@intersaga.co.uk. She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here

intersaga.co.uk

See more of Anna’s book choices here

Read about the annual Chiswick Book Festival here

Chiswick In Pictures September exhibition

I am pleased to say this is becoming a tradition. This year’s Chiswick In Pictures exhibition at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick is the third show bringing together images inspired by the area, painted by artists who live locally. Chiswick has a wealth of excellent artists – award winning, sought after by galleries, selected by the Royal Academy for its summer exhibitions – who paint, or create, in a variety of styles. I’ve gone for representational art rather than abstract, the main criteria being that the subject is somewhere in Chiswick or the surrounding area. (I make one notable exception to that rule – Jill Meager’s beady eyed little birds, which have hopped into every exhibition so far. They are just so winsome – and besides, I know a Chiswick bird when I see one!)

Twenty artists are sharing their interpretations of our little bit of west London: images of Chiswick House and Gardens, the parks and green spaces and of course the river; delicate watercolours by Hugh Bredin, large oil paintings by Arabella Harcourt- Cooze and Humphrey Bangham, prints by Rachel Busch and Sally Grumbridge. I’d like to say I’d curated the exhibition, but I’m not sure saying ‘Ooh that’s lovely, can I show that one?’ really counts as ‘curating’!

Pictures below by Sally Grumbridge and Rachel Busch

The work will be on sale. Come and have a look and see if anything takes your fancy. The exhibition is hung in the large atrium of the hotel, so you can come in at any time, have a coffee at the bar and wander round at your leisure. Among the artists taking part: Anna Kunst, Arabella Harcourt-Cooze, Christine Berrington, Francis Bowyer, George Christie, Hugh Bredin, Humphrey Bangham, Jane Price, Jill Meager, Joanna Brendon, Jon Perry, Rachel Busch, Rennie Pilgrem, Sally Grumbridge and Sarah Granville.

Chiswick in Pictures is on at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick from Monday 2nd September – Saturday 9th November. 626 Chiswick High Rd, London W4 5RY. Nearest tube station – Gunnersbury.

Pictures below by Jane Price and Jill Meager

 

Chiswick Auctions Summer spectacular

Would you like to go and have a look at the lots coming up for sale at the Affordable Luxury and Design & Interiors auction at Chiswick Auctions? Can’t because you have to look after the children? Chiswick Auctions have come up with a cunning plan to involve children in a Summer Festival, so they can have some fun and you can have a sneaky look at what’s on sale without feeling you are depriving them. The auction, on Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th August, will be the auction rooms’ biggest sale this year and will feature a private collection of items from internationally renowned Interior Designer Broosk Saib. Among the items on sale will be fashion, jewellery, antiques, furniture, paintings, books and carpets. Over the weekend you can see the lots for sale and have a free and confidential valuation on any item you may wish to sell at auction yourself.

Fancy painting like Picasso?

Your children can have a go at being an auctioneer with Auctioneer Matt Caddick.  You (and they) may enjoy joining John Rogers, Head of Silver & Objects of Vertu, for tips on how to become the perfect host at your next Afternoon Tea Party. (Apparently putting the milk carton on the table is not acceptable – who knew?) Is your child the next Picasso? Bring them along to Mini Picassos children’s art workshop. Or maybe they’d just like to play with Lego. Be inspired to build the ultimate creation at a drop-in Lego session and have your favourite Toy or Lego valued by specialists Winnie McGee and Peter Winnicott. Tips on keeping jewellery looking its best, how to style a room, how best to display your most prized possessions and wine tasting sessions will also keep the adults amused.

Saturday 10th August: 10.00am – 6.00pm.  Sunday 11th: 10.00am – 5.00pm Auction Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th August from 10.00am.

TfL publish amendments to Cycleway 9

Hounslow Council has published a press release outlining the latest version of Cycleway 9, as proposed by Transport for London

The press release in full is as follows:

Transport for London (TfL) has set out the next steps for walking and cycling improvements in West London, which include a new 7km cycle route and new pedestrian crossings. These changes will transform safety for people walking and cycling and enable thousands more people to make every day journeys on foot and by bike.

The plans, which would connect neighbourhoods between Kensington Olympia and Brentford Town Centre, were supported by a majority of people responding to the consultation.

In response to issues raised during this consultation, in January 2019 TfL invited people to have their say on improvements to the design at two locations along the route. This feedback has been used to make further changes to the design at the Duke Road and Duke’s Avenue junctions with Chiswick High Road, including:

  • Keeping the eastbound approach to the junction of Duke’s Avenue at two lanes, rather than reducing this to one
  • Reducing the cycle track width from 3m to 2.5m outside Our Lady of Grace and St Edward’s church to provide space for two traffic lanes on the eastbound approach to the junction of Duke’s Avenue. This would improve traffic capacity at this junction, whilst maintaining pavement space outside the Church
  • Introducing weight restrictions on the exit movement from Duke’s Avenue to Chiswick High Road, rather than making the road entry only, and introducing weight restrictions on the access to Duke’s Avenue from the A4. This is in response to concerns raised during consultation about rat running through local roads. Space constraints on the exit of Duke’s Avenue mean that large vehicles will not be able to make the turn onto Chiswick High Road safely

TfL will be moving forward with the designs for Kew Bridge and Kew Bridge Road to Wellesley Road as proposed during consultation.

Construction work is proposed to begin later in 2019. TfL is also working with Hammersmith and Fulham Council on their proposals for a new cycle route along part of the A4.

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said:
“Getting more people walking and cycling as part of their everyday routine has huge benefits for our health and wellbeing, and we know there is a high demand for more cycling in this part of west London.

“It was absolutely right that TfL took the time to work with the councils to ensure everyone’s response to the consultation were looked at properly, ensuring the proposed scheme is the very best it can be. I’m delighted that we are on course for work to begin on the route later this year.”

Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Lead for Transport at Hounslow Council, said:
“The council is supportive of improvements to cycle facilities between our town centres and central London. This specific proposal is to be considered at the meeting of the council’s Cabinet on 3 September.”

Recent TfL research has highlighted the economic benefits of walking and cycling to town centres, with infrastructure improvements such as new cycle routes leading to increased retail spending of up to 30 per cent. The new route would also enable more people across west London to choose walking, cycling and public transport for their journeys, as TfL and the Mayor work to tackle the health problems caused by the capital’s toxic air.

TfL and the Mayor are committed to expanding the capital’s cycle network at pace and increasing the proportion of Londoners who live within 400 metres of the cycling network to 28 per cent by 2024, up from nine per cent. TfL has doubled the amount of protected space for cyclists since 2016 and is on course to triple this by 2020.

One year on from the launch of the Vision Zero Action Plan victims of road collisions are speaking out about the devastation they have experienced, to coincide with Vision Zero Week which runs until the 28 July.

Vision Zero Week is also highlighting the work underway by TfL, the Met and City of London Police to achieve Vision Zero, as well as the commitment of many other delivery partners, including London’s boroughs, campaign groups, bus operators and industry groups.

The expansion of London’s walking and cycling network continues to enable millions more journeys to be cycled or made on foot every week. New 2018 data shows that cycling in London is at record levels with the average daily total distance cycled exceeding four million kilometres for the first time. Construction on major new routes between Tower Bridge Road and Greenwich and Acton and Wood Lane is underway and TfL is also currently inviting people to have their say on another route between Dalston and Clapton.

Bring on the Summer Holidays

The Party on the Pier always marks the start of the summer holidays. There’s a huge variety of things on offer for children to do – everything from tennis and football to weaving with the William Morris Society. Some of it is even free.

If you’d like some ideas of what to do, see our Summer Holidays guide here.

Vine v Biddolph war of words

The increasingly acrimonious spats in social media over Cycleway 9 have tipped over into the personal. 

Cllr Joanna Biddolph tweeted:

‘Another case of ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’. Others on Twitter today incl one saying I was “stand-offish” meeting a #Chiswick resident (we shook hands) and shouted at him – after he passed me, he told me I was wrong on CS9; I responded that he was’.

The TV and radio personality and star of Strictly Come Dancing replied thus:

‘I thought you called something at me — not ‘shouted’ in aggressive sense — I honestly didn’t hear what it was. But in truth, Joanna, I think you should have smiled at least. Whatever our disagreements, we are neighbours. I was impressed by how pleasant @Barr2018 was when we met’.

Then Cllr Gabriella Giles waded in (from somewhere in Russia):

‘Right, cos a man telling a woman to smile is not seen as a form of harassment’

To which Vine replied: 

‘Wow. Just wow.

‘And it’s fine to be standoffish of course. You are fighting to ensure a cycle path isn’t built and that’s is a very serious matter, Gabriella, because you are taking responsibility for the state of the High Road and the safety of people who cycle down it’.

Is anyone else beginning to wish they’d never heard of CS9?

Chiswick councillors plan to make their mark at tonight’s council meeting

Tonight’s council meeting at Hounslow sounds like it might be fun. Councillor John Todd plans to raise a question about the accounts. He’s noticed a large sum of money sitting in an account unspent, and wants to know why that is, at a time when the council is known to be under pressure financially. Councillor Joanna Biddolph will presenting her arguments against the cycleway formerly known as Cycle Superhighway 9. It is also the meeting at which Hounslow council will decide on the number of councillors it thinks it should have at the next local elections. Chiswick’s Homefields ward looks set to lose a councillor.

The Local Government Boundary Commission is trying to ensure fair representation by giving each councillor roughly the same number of electors to represent. The magic number is 3,636 – that’s how many each councillor in Hounslow should represent to reflect the anticipated population in 2024.

Currently there are 60 councillors. The council don’t want too many more, as it becomes too expensive, but too few and they aren’t able to cope with their burgeoning workload. The last time this exercise took place was in the 1990s and over the intervening period Chiswick Homefields ward (the Hammersmith end of Chiswick) has ended up with a smaller population than some of the other wards in the borough.

What to do about it? Both Hounslow council and the Boundary Commission see the obvious answer as reducing the number of councillors representing the ward from three to two. Hounslow’s Conservatives disagree.

The Conservatives think the anticipated 2,991 people who will soon be living in the Capital Interchange Way in east Brentford (near Chiswick roundabout) will naturally gravitate towards Chiswick to do their shopping, rather than Brentford, and so should be included in Chiswick wards. They also believe that people who live near Gunnersbury Park on Pope’s Lane and by the new football stadium at Lionel Rd North are more natural Chiswickites than Brentfordites. If they joined Turnham Green ward, and Chiswick Riverside gives Homefields ward a few roads then all nine councillors can reach the magic number of 3,636 constituents.

The Boundary Commission aren’t keen to cross the line between Brentford and Chiswick, no matter where people do their shopping, and the Conservatives will be arguing this from the position of a 51 – 9 minority.

Even if the Labour majority accepts their proposals, they would have to persuade the Boundary Commission of their argument. Otherwise come the next election, one of the councillors in Homefields ward (John Todd, Patrick Barr and Gerald McGregor) will have to start thinking very seriously about spending more time with their family.

Members of the public have until 12 August to make representations to the Local Government Boundary Commission about the subject.

The Party on the Pier

I spent a happy Sunday in the sunshine at party on the Pier, meeting some lovely people who have now joined the ranks of The Chiswick Calendar newsletter readers. Welcome. Chiswick Pier, at the end of the E3 bus route, is a hidden gem and the Chiswick Pier Trust, aka manager Anne Gill, events manager Gill Exton and marketing manager Kate Vick, do a fabulous job of putting on events throughout the year – talks, cruises, parties. Their stated mission is to bring people to the river to enjoy it and find out more about it.

Pier House, home to the Chiswick Pier Trust, the RNLI, the Thames Explorer Trust, the Sea Cadets and Chiswick Pier Canoe Club, is owned by Hounslow Council and leased to the Trust. It was built in 1996 when the Corney Reach estate was built, on what had been the old Thorneycroft boatyard before it became a council depot. The council decided the estate needed a community hall, a focus in what could otherwise have been quite a soulless housing project.

Photographs above: Gill Exton, Kate Vick and Anne Gill

Chiswick Pier was built at the same time and the historic houseboats, which had previously been moored at the wharf, were offered moorings, giving continuity to the area’s traditional working relationship with the river. Now, as well as providing a home to the people who live on the boats and a picturesque platform from which to view a lovely part of the river, the pier is a hub of activity, of purposeful engagement with the river.

Chiswick Pier Trust, a charity whose income is derived from the moorings and the rents from Pier House, has responsibility for maintaining the building, the pontoon and the pier. Its raison d’etre is to bring people to the river and facilitate our enjoyment of it. Judging from the thousand or so people who turned up on Sunday, mission accomplished. Seven hundred people enjoyed the free boat trips, laid on throughout the afternoon. Others were happy to browse the stalls selling everything from socks to scented candles.

Events manager Gill Exton has hit on a winning formula which she repeats every year – a barbecue selling good quality meat sausages and burgers, a band, Shenanigans, who turn out the old rock and R&B standards with accomplished ease, and a Fuller’s bar. Amanda of Amanda’s Action Club keeps  little kids entertained, quite unselfconsciously leading them in walking like a dinosaur and leaping about to her own brand of techno toddler party music. She, like the band and I suspect the burger vendors, has been doing what she does for more than 25 years, and she’s good at it. The kids were entranced, their parents grateful and the rest of us relaxed enough to hum along as the entertainment switched from Ba Ba Black Sheep with Amanda to Mustang Sally from the band. The children were quite happy to bob about gleefully to either; a new generation introduced to Wilson Pickett and the Beatles.

Gill puts on two parties a year, one in the summer and one for the Boat Race, and several cruises, leaving the pier and heading to Westminster and back for Mother’s Day, the summer Jazz Cruise and the Lord Mayor’s Fireworks show in November.

Kate Vick puts on a programme of talks about the river. Coming up in September, Talks by the Thames kicks off with Chris Everett from the Docklands History Group talking about the Port of London and the Thames in the First World War. ‘No Longer an Island’ will be on Tuesday 24 September at 7.30pm. In October Matthew Morgan from the Royal Collection will be speaking on James Abbot McNeil Whistler and the Thames: ‘An American in London’ on October 29th at 7.30pm.  Kate’s talks are always on the final Tuesday of the month. A £10 membership will get you into the whole programme of talks for no additional payment.

Anne Gill is the manager who holds it all together. She told me they are expecting to hear in the next few weeks about the fate of Pissarro’s – the restaurant much loved by the community, but sold to a developer who just wants to put in more housing, against stiff opposition from the local residents. There have been two planning applications so far and two appeals – this second one is pending.

National Park City

We now live in a national park. As of yesterday, London has joined the ranks of Dartmoor and the Lake District by becoming the first National Park City. The way in which London’s national park is organised is not the same as the governance of rolling moorlands and craggy mountains, but the idea behind it, of protecting nature and nurturing wildlife habitats, is. Like the established parks, the ethos of National Park City is to persuade those of us who live in it to take joint responsibility for the care of our environment.

Daniel Raven-Ellison, who describes himself as a ‘guerrilla geographer and creative explorer’, started the campaign to make London a national park six years ago, and is seeing his ambition realised with the launch this week, supported by of the Mayor of London, grassroots activists, big businesses and local councils. The National Park City Foundation is a charity, it doesn’t have offices or paid staff; everyone involved is a volunteer and the idea is to act as an umbrella group to promote active outdoor pursuits and engagement with nature.

The National City Park Festival, on all this week, 20 – 28 July, pulls together a list of events which are loosely outdoors and healthy, from pond dipping and bat walks to Military Fit training sessions in Richmond Park. There are over 300 free events across the capital. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the National Park City Foundation is publicising existing events and programmes all being run by a myriad of little independent organisations – hence the Party on the Pier on Sunday at Corney Reach, which is an annual event, appears in their festival programme – as well as encouraging people to take part in ongoing projects such as the Big Garden Bird Watch, being organised by the RSPB, and the Big Butterfly Count, organised by Butterfly Conservation.

The festival kicked off with events produced in collaboration with the National Theatre on the South Bank at the weekend and continues across the capital for the rest of the week. While the Party on the Pier seems to be the only event specifically in Chiswick, there are other free things happening, including walks and bird watching in Ealing and Acton. You can see the events in west London here.

The Foundation invites us all to ‘Make a Difference’ by becoming a National Park City Champion. You can become a ‘champion’ by as small an action as planting some wild flowers, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, by being an ambassador for the cause with organisations and companies. Read how to Make a Difference here. One big company which has just signed up to support it is Timberland, which is providing the funds to employ rangers to lead walks.

Chiswick Curve turned down

The plan to build a 32 storey tower of mixed use, offices and residential flats, on Chiswick roundabout has been turned by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Planning permission for the skyscraper was initially turned down by Hounslow Council and went to a public inquiry last summer when developers Starbones appealed the council’s decision. Planning inspector Paul Griffiths recommended the tower should be built, but Secretary of State James Brokenshire has overruled his recommendation. He has also rejected the application for three huge digital advertising billboards beside the M4, which were intended to be part of the development.

West London’s special heritage

The Secretary of State said he was persuaded by the arguments put forward by Kew Gardens, Historic England and others that the building would just be too large and would dominate the skyline, ruining views of Kew Gardens and Kew Green and Strand on the Green. ‘The Secretary of State has paid special regard to the desirability of preserving those listed buildings potentially affected by the proposals, or their settings or any features of special architectural or historic interest which they may possess’.

The Inspector considered the development would bring a ‘massive uplift’ to the area. James Brokenshire disagreed. He accepted the argument of local residents groups, outlined at the Inquiry by Marie Rabouhans of the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury residents association, that there was not enough public amenity space for 327 residential and office units, but the most telling argument for him was the harm to ‘heritage assets’. Kew Gardens, Historic England and residents groups at Strand on the Green and Kew Green argued that the views from the World Heritage site and the River Thames would be spoilt and that the huge building, which would have been the tallest in West London, higher than Trellick Tower in Paddington, would have dominated the landscape for miles around.

Marie Rabouhans, Chairman of the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury residents association told me: “Obviously we’re delighted by his decision , but aware that there’s another appeal stage. I don’t know if he will appeal, but knowing his (Kim Gottlieb’s) track record he probably will’. The developers have six weeks in which to appeal the decision.

The Chairman of the Strand on the Green Association also expressed the group’s pleasure at the Secretary of State’s decision: “SoGA with its members other local groups and residents had mounted a spirited campaign to oppose the latest unattractive and overwhelming development and now hopes that any similar application submitted in the future will also attract the same close scrutiny that enabled The Curve to be rejected.”

What next for the Chiswick roundabout site?

This is a significant decision in terms of the impact of tall buildings, especially on potential future developments which will affect Chiswick. The capital has a housing shortage and Draft Replacement London Plan is looking to optimize the density of housing, with the possible provision of 7,500 new homes and 14,000 new jobs in the Great West Corridor ‘Opportunity Area’. But our area of west London has a number of sites of historical and architectural value: the Royal Botanic Gardens World Heritage Site, Kew Green Conservation area, Strand on the Green Conservation Area and Gunnersbury Park Conservation Area. All have a number of listed buildings. This decision sends a message to developers that, while recognising the need for more housing, and especially more affordable housing, it cannot be at the expense of our cherished heritage.

The Secretary of State has turned down this proposal on the grounds of its scale and mass but says ‘it could be possible for an alternative scheme with lesser impacts on designated heritage assets’. It’s not ideal to have a scruffy looking, derelict site welcoming people coming into Chiswick from the M4. In its closing submission to the Public Inquiry last summer, Hounslow Council suggested the developer’s earlier proposal the ‘Citadel’ building would have been preferable. The 13 storey office block, was approved by the council in 2002 but when the developers resubmitted their application, wanting more parking spaces, it was then turned down. Since then we’ve also had the ‘Octopus’, a ten storey office block covered in LED advertising, which was also dropped. Developer Kim Gottlieb, has been at the centre of all three proposals – The Citadel, the Octopus and the Curve, his plans becoming more ambitious as the residential market became more attractive.

The Secretary of State stated: ‘the Citadel scheme, should it proceed, would offer benefits in terms of job provision, and would comply with the Council’s emerging policy for this area’. It remains to be seen whether the developer will appeal, or whether he will be prepared to return to an office only development on fewer floors.

LB Hounslow responds to Mazars’ concerns about their finances

The London Borough of Hounslow has responded to The Chiswick Calendar’s exclusive story that the accountancy firm which is currently auditing their accounts has concerns about their finances.

Hounslow’s draft accounts have been published by the council already and are available to look at online, but as we reported on Tuesday 16 July, Mazars say the audited accounts will not be ready for publication by 31 July, the date on which they are supposed to be published, because they have identified ‘potentially material issues’ which they need longer to look at.

The accountancy firm told me: ‘As a result of identifying potentially material issues with the Council’s draft accounts, it has been determined that we will not be able to give our opinion on the Council’s accounts or our conclusion on the Council’s arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources (Value For Money arrangements conclusion), by 31 July’.

Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance, Hounslow Council, told us: “The council is in the first year of its contract with its new auditors, Mazars, and although we have spent time getting used to each other’s working methods, it should come as no surprise that this has inevitably brought some delays to the process.

“The council has agreed jointly with the Auditor that it would be appropriate to delay the publishing of the final audited accounts from the July to the September meeting of the Audit & Governance Committee. This will allow the auditor and in-house team to complete their work to provide assurance over the council’s accounts to both the Auditor and the council’s own Chief Financial Officer.

“Since the audit is not yet complete, both Mazars and the council agree that it is not possible to conclude that there are “material concerns” and this statement is not accurate.”

The statement from Mazars flagged up that there were ‘potentially material issues’ with the Council’s draft accounts. Whether they will continue to express concern once they’ve done more work remains to be seen.

Photograph above: Interior of Hounslow House, where LB Hounslow is based

Auditors concerned about LB Hounslow’s finances

The auditors who have been appointed to audit the London Borough of Hounslow’s accounts, Mazars, have expressed concern about the council’s accounts. The draft accounts have been published by the council already and are available to look at online here, but Mazars say the audited accounts will not be ready for publication by 31st July, the date on which they are supposed to be published, because they have identified ‘potentially material issues’ which they need longer to look at.

The accountancy firm told me: ‘As a result of identifying potentially material issues with the Council’s draft accounts, it has been determined that we will not be able to give our opinion on the Council’s accounts or our conclusion on the Council’s arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources (VFM arrangements conclusion), by 31 July’.

What are the ‘potentially material issues’ they are concerned about?

Which ‘potentially material issues’ they’re talking about, I have yet to find out, but have asked Mazars to elaborate and have asked the council to respond, so watch this space.

Mazars were appointed by the Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) to look at the financial years 2018/19 to 2022/23. Part of their job is to look at whether a council is providing Value For Money (VFM). Under the heading ‘Value for Money’ the auditors look at corporate governance issues, financial sustainability concerns and procurement and contract management issues.

At the council’s Cabinet meeting on 11 June, Cllr John Todd, Conservative councillor for Homefields ward in Chiswick, raised the subject of Lampton 360 – three limited companies which are wholly owned by the council which look after recycling, property development and green spaces, set up in 2016 and yet to make a profit. As he reported in his guest blog for W4, the Conservative Group of councillors wanted to place on record ‘the material corporate governance and transparency irregularities and omissions in the overall oversight and control of the financial activities of the Lampton group of companies’ identified in several reports prepared for that meeting. He noted a failure to provide sufficient financial data and information on  performance. ‘Furthermore, the business plan for Lampton recycle 360 presents operating costs in excess of the council budget by £0.9m’ he said. The Lampton 360 companies aren’t required by Companies House to file their accounts until the end of December.

Local authorities are expected to publish their audited financial statements for 2018/19 by 31 July 2019. Last year 64 authorities out of 495 missed the deadline for publication of their 2017-18 accounts, but the publication of Hounslow’s accounts (audited last year by KPMG) was on time. Mazars say: ‘We anticipate completing the work necessary to give our opinion on the Council’s accounts and VFM arrangements conclusion in September 2019, although work is ongoing’. Cllr Ranjit Gill, a councillor for Turnham Green ward, is on the Audit and Governance Committee and is himself an auditor by profession. He tells me he is looking forward to scrutinising the audited accounts at the next committee meeting in September.

 

 

 

Hounslow Auditors Criticised

The firm of auditors which is currently carrying out the annual audit of the London Borough of Hounslow has been criticized by the industry’s regulator. Mazars, who were appointed last year, is currently in the middle of carrying out an external audit of the council’s financial systems. It is a legal requirement that councils are independently audited, and that firms carrying out financial audits are themselves regularly inspected.

The industry’s governing body, the FRC – Financial Reporting Council – says that in the last review cycle only 60% of Mazars audits were assessed as ‘good’. Overall the FRC’s found that 75% of all audits carried out by accountancy firms were assessed as being ‘good’ or requiring limited improvement.  In Mazars’ case the FRC inspected five audits and found three (60%) were good or required limited improvements, one (20%) audit required improvements, and one (20%) audit required significant improvements.

The period of assessment covers the weeks around the end of year 2017; the FRC noted as a particular concern that Mazars had not improved in areas they highlighted in previous reports. The previous assessment of Mazars considered 80% of their work to be good, so this represents a considerable drop in standards from one year to the next.

According to trade magazine Accountancy Daily, Mazars blames high turnover of staff in its specialist team and the time it took new staff to get their heads round the firm’s audit methodology. The company has now hired an experienced IT audit partner to address one of the specific criticisms.

They were appointed to carry out the Hounslow audit when their rating was 80% and a source on the council has told me that Hounslow officers are concerned about the audit firm’s drop in performance.

Mazars told me:

“The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) rightly applies intense scrutiny to the audit files it reviews, and has identified audit processes which fall below the uncompromising standards which should be expected. We support the efforts of the FRC in demanding improvements in the quality of the audit work performed on Public Interest Entities, and we know that confidence in audit can only be achieved through measurable improvements in quality.

“Our root cause analysis on the findings noted has generated clear and practical changes to our processes, which run hand in hand with our proactive work to continuously improve training, culture and systems, supported by significant additional investment now and in the future”.

 

Nell Gifford has ‘a year to live’

Nell Gifford, the founder, producer and artistic director of the much-loved Gifford’s Circus, has announced that doctors have told her she has a year to live. The inspirational leader of the circus, which recently completed its second stint in the gardens of Chiswick House, has spent the last four years fighting breast cancer. Last year, when the circus first performed in Chiswick, she was in remission, but she has recently been told that the disease has now spread to her bones and lymph nodes.

She told Evening Standard reporter Susannah Butter: “I have a poor outlook. I’ve been diagnosed with a year to live … I can hardly remember the feeling of being without cancer. But I’m having loads of treatment under an incredible oncologist, ducking and diving through the NHS and private system”.

Nell, who is still performing an equestrian act in the circus, has been dividing her time between hospital and the circus. She has started a video diary because she says: “It’s not the end of the world when you have chemotherapy, you can still enjoy yourself and still live your most creative life.” Nell has twins Red, who joined her mother for the first time this year in the circus ring, and Cecil, who are ten. They live at Fennell’s Farm in Stroud, in Gloucestershire, which is also the base for the circus. She ‘ran away with the circus’ when she was eighteen ‘and fell instantly in love with this forgotten art form’. Nell read English at New College, Oxford and then ‘joined the first circus that came to town’. She set up Gifford’s Circus with her then fiance Toti, a farmer’s son from Cheltenham.

 

Lovebox ‘settled into its new home’

The Lovebox festival at Gunnersbury Park has once again received rave reviews, with the Guardian reporting headliner Solange ‘intoxicates the smiley revellers’ and that: ‘The relocated event settled into its new home with strong sets from Lizzo, 2 Chainz, J Hus and the blessed Chance the Rapper’.

That won’t please the 140 people who complained to the organisers by phone and email over the weekend, about a range of issues ranging from the ‘noise’ to traffic jams to people bringing drugs into the area.

The Event Umbrella for the management company which runs Gunnersbury Park had organised a team of four people to deal with any problems highlighted by local residents. Jackie Sears and her team were on duty from 8.00am till after midnight all three days. Jackie told me there were traffic problems in two areas in particular – Elderberry Rd and Almond Avenue at the junction with Elderberry Rd in Ealing. There was a programme of road closures and double the number of security staff from last year in the attempt to stop festival goers from parking in the residential streets around the park. Neither road had been included in the plan, she said, but they will be next year.

There were tailbacks on the North Circular as people streamed towards the park on Friday at the same time locals were picking up children from school and the normal Friday night rush hour was taking place. Traffic problems were compounded by Acton Carnival taking place on Saturday, so forced to turn right out of Bollo Lane at Acton Town tube station, because Gunnersbury Lane was closed for the festival, motorists were plunged straight in to the traffic jam caused by the carnival.

Some residents hadn’t got the passes issued to them so stewards would make sure they were able to access their homes by car, so in a few cases there were disputes where security weren’t letting them in to their roads, Jackie told me. Each household in every street which was closed to non-residents had been offered two car passes each, more if they said they needed them,  but some hadn’t realised, hadn’t read the leaflet or whatever, and it was difficult then for stewards to decide whether they were genuine residents or festival goers looking for free parking and just trying it on. But in the main the system worked much better than last year, she said.

Mamaco, the event organisers, had 29 noise complaints, including some from Strand on the Green. The volume was monitored every fifteen minutes on the site and each time there was a complaint Jackie’s team dispatched a monitor to do a test. There were no breaches of the agreed sound limit of 72 decibels, she says, and mostly the call outs found the volume was about ten decibels less than that.

There were very few arrests for quite minor offences considering that 25,000 people attended Lovebox on Friday, 34,000 on Saturday and 24,000 attended Citadel on Sunday. Police professed themselves happy with the way it had gone. They had put in place a ‘dispersal’ notice so if there were complaints about revellers hanging about after the events ‘loitering’ they moved them on.

There’s been quite a bit of chatter on social media about people bringing drugs into the area, but there’s easily as much on social media from festival goers saying how hard the security is a Lovebox and Citadel and how difficult it is to get drugs in, (even if you sellotape your stash under your armpits apparently – that doesn’t work because they pat you down!)

‘After clearing intense levels of security, a largely Gen Z crowd mainlined Carlsberg and donned festival must-haves including Stormzy-esque utility vests and face jewels’ reported the Guardian. ‘They were a smiley and lightly engaged bunch’.  But according to the Evening Standard, poor planning killed the vibe. What was the problem?  ‘Security emptying people’s prescription pills into a bin and sneaking into mosh pits looking to catch teenagers up to no good certainly didn’t help. Poor acoustics on the main stage also flattened the atmosphere’.

The organisers can win really, can they?! But Jackie Sears will write up her analysis of the data for next year and is interested to hear from anyone who’d like to contribute their comments, ‘good or bad’ at jacqueline.sear@mamaco.com

 

Bloody technology

I went to to see Garbage at Kew the Music on Saturday. They were great. So I was quite happy on Sunday to sit in front of the telly, until disaster struck.

At two sets all, five games all and 40 – 30 in the longest and one of the most exciting Wimbledon men’s singles finals ever, the TV, designed for Millennials with the concentration span of a mayfly, decided it was going to switch itself off because we hadn’t changed channel or paused it for more than three hours.

‘Press Back Up to continue watching’ it said. Never has a group of people hunted so frantically, with so much cursing, for the remote!

Simon Reilly to leave Tabard theatre

Simon Reilly, the Manager of the Tabard theatre, is leaving the job after eleven years. ‘After 11 happy years at the helm of the Tabard Theatre, the time is right to move on’ he says. ‘I’ll be pursuing other projects… I would like to thank all of the staff, volunteers and audiences who have supported the Tabard Theatre over the years and I wish the theatre every success in the future’.

Simon has built the studio theatre up from a run down, poorly attended space to one which attracts good audiences to see an eclectic mix of interesting productions, in newly refurbished premises. Thank you Simon for eleven years of great theatre, within staggering distance of home.

You can see a profile of him and of the theatre here, celebrating ten years last year.

Former Ofcom director advises Chinese State TV company which Ofcom is investigating 

Nick Pollard, former Head of News at Sky, who went on to become a member of the Board of broadcasting standards regulator Ofcom, is now advising CGTN, the Chinese state broadcaster based at Chiswick Business Park. The Chinese company established its European headquarters at the Business Park last December to broadcast services in English and several other European languages. It is currently under investigation by Ofcom for human rights abuses, and could lose its licence to broadcast. How handy to have a  former Chairman of Ofcom’s Content Board in your corner.

CGTN – agent of the Chinese state

CGTN Europe, the European branch of China’s state TV company, the China Global Television Network, is expanding its coverage, enlarging its global presence online and on air, and over the past eighteen months has been employing staff to work at its west London base at Chiswick Business Park. According to its Linkedin profile, CGTN’s aim is ‘to provide objective, balanced, and impartial news and current affairs content. It seeks to cover the world, reporting the news from a Chinese perspective. CGTN aims to differentiate itself from leading Western media organizations by pursuing a larger international vision and focus on nations, regions, and stories often ignored by the Western media’.

This description is rather different from that given by Chinese leaders themselves, who have previously described CGTN and other state media outlets as the “eyes, ears, tongue and throat of the Communist Party.” Reporters Without Borders, whose London Director Rebecca Vincent came to speak to The Chiswick Calendar’s Media Club in January about the way in which journalists are continuously under attack from undemocratic regimes  around the world, confirms that in China, both state and privately-owned media are required to follow the Communist Party’s instructions.

Photograph above: Peter Humphry’s ‘confession’ on CCTV; Chiswick Business Park

Investigation by Ofcom

Former Reuters journalist Peter Humphrey complained to the British broadcasting standards body Ofcom that they should not be allowed to broadcast in or from this country as their actions contravene our regulations governing fairness and privacy. He has given them his testimony that he was drugged, strapped to an iron chair, and locked in a cage and forced to confess to crimes, while being filmed. His ‘confession’ was later shown on Chinese state TV. He says CGTN Europe’s parent company was ‘working in active collusion with the police and the Chinese state.’ Peter Humphrey says he was interviewed once by a police inspector and the second time by a CCTV interviewer in circumstances tantamount to torture and that the public airing of the interviews prejudiced his ‘sham’ trial. ‘Neither of these instances qualify as journalism or true media activity’. In total, he was jailed in China for two years, along with his American wife.

Members of the National Union of Journalists working for the BBC World Service supported his complaint to Ofcom, saying the Chinese Communist party is seeking to deepen its control of news by such methods and that forced confessions, filmed and broadcast by CCTV, are now commonplace in China.

The Swedish Supreme Court has also just expressed its concern at the use of this tactic contributing to unfair trials in China. Last Tuesday it decided against the extradition of Qiao Jianjun, a Chinese state functionary currently fugitive in Sweden and wanted in China on corruption charges. After listening to testimonies from Eva Pils, Professor of Law at London’s Kings College and Peter Humphrey amongst others, the court decided that with China’s record of forced TV confessions, torture, political disappearances and appalling treatment of prisoners, it would be against not only Swedish law but the European Convention on Human Rights for him to be extradited.

After Peter Humphrey complained to Ofcom, several other people brought similar complaints against the company, which are now being investigated by the broadcasting authority. There have been five complaints against CGTN in all, made by individuals between November 2018 and April 2019, and coordinated by Swedish human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders. If their complaints are upheld the broadcaster could lose its licence to broadcast here. The Iranian state broadcaster PressTV had its licence to broadcast taken away in 2012. It too was accused of airing forced confessions.

Chiswick Business Park ‘a hub for global media companies affiliated to some of the world’s most repressive regimes’.

Matthew Moore, Media Correspondent for the Times, wrote in March that: ‘The landscaped gardens and ornamental waterfalls of a glistening suburban business park are an unlikely front line in the global information wars. Yet Chiswick Park in southwest London has quietly become a hub for global media companies affiliated to some of the world’s most repressive regimes’.

He noted that the offices for the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) are just one storey up from CGTN in Building 7 and In Building 11 there are journalists working for the TV station Iran International which, as Matthew reported, has been accused of being funded by Saudis, apparently as part of the Gulf state’s efforts to destabilise its regional rival Iran. ‘Confusingly’, he wrote, ‘Chiswick is also home to a production company that does do work for the Tehran regime. Aparat Media, which makes online programmes for Press TV’.

He went on: ‘the build-up of media outlets tied to authoritarian states in a quiet corner of the capital has raised eyebrows in the local press’ (by which I think he meant us!) He couldn’t get CGTN to respond to his overtures for a comment.

Let’s see if Nick Pollard, who says quite openly in his own Linkedin profile that he is advising CGTN, gets them off the hook.

 

Councillors re-launch campaign against cycle way

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have re-launched their campaign against the dual lane cycle track which is planned to connect Hammersmith with Brentford via Chiswick High Rd. Their objections range from fears that the cycle route will damage businesses in the High Rd to the loss of the area’s character, with less pavement in some places and fewer mature trees.

The councillors have campaigned against the cycleway (originally called the Cycle Superhighway 9 or CS9 for short, renamed by TfL as it conjoured up a vision of cyclists whizzing past and stopping for nothing and proved a PR disaster) since the autumn of 2017 when the initial plans were published. Here are their arguments against it, as set out in their press release of 10 July 2019.

Press release from Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, 10 July 2019

‘The results of the consultation showed that residents who live, work, run a business or commute through areas that will be affected are actively against CS9 as proposed. When TfL carried out its consultation, it declared that respondents were 60:40 in favour. However, looking at the responses by postcode and W4, W6 and W14 in particular (the areas that will be most affected by the new cycle track) residents were 60:40 opposed.

‘It is widely reported that cycleways will reduce congestion by encouraging a change from cars to bicycles on a mass scale. However, TfL’s own statistics show a decrease of 15 per cent in cycling in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow, down from its peak from 2006 to 2017. Furthermore, CS9 as proposed, will impact on walking, by taking away pavement space, actively conflicting with TfL’s policy of encouraging walking.  TfL officials recorded the number of cyclists on the High Road over two days in June 2015 to be 2,130. Residents then conducted a cycle count in the same month at the same times over the equivalent days in June 2018 and recorded that there has been a very modest 1.2% increase in the number of cycle trips since 2015. This represents a 0.4% increase in each of the three intervening years. In the context of a concerted effort in recent years by the Mayor and TfL to encourage cycling, this increase is negligible.

‘The Embankment cycle highway CS3 cost over £47m yet its daily use has only increased by 754 since it was built. “This is not just a shocking waste of public money, but it also demonstrates that the rationale is fatally flawed because substantial numbers of people are not getting on their bike once the cycle highways are open”, Cllr Barr commented.

‘The current proposal will make Chiswick High Road, which currently carries two lanes of traffic each way, single file in places which will lead to crawling speeds and gridlock. Even TfL’s own predictions are of congestion and increased journey times. Judging by other parts of London where there are similar schemes, traffic is jammed whilst the cycleways are empty and unusable by anyone else.

‘CS9 is a scheme that TfL wants to push through with no regard for local residents particularly older people, visually impaired people, adults with small children, anyone walking. If it goes ahead, rammed along pavement, it will significantly decrease walking space along the south side the High Road. Many of our independent shops are on the south side. Our small independents must not be forced to fail because of the wishes of a tiny minority of people, many of whom don’t live or work in Chiswick but who are passing through. The pavement is no place for a cycle superhighway. The pavement is the place for pedestrians.

“We want safe cycling in Chiswick so residents and visitors can reach the High Road safely and travel along it safely.  We don’t want TfL’s madcap linear scheme in a town that is far from linear.  It will destroy our retail and leisure economy which is a significant factor in Chiswick’s desirability as a destination for visitors and as a place to live, work and spend leisure time. Chiswick High road is a destination and not a thoroughfare. As for congestion, loss of trees, loss of parking, loss of loading bays, failure to address air quality, numerous junctions and the very important safety risks posed by having to cross a confusing single-track two-way channel, it’s a triumph of fanatical dogma over common sense,” Cllr Joanna Biddolph said.

‘TfL has yet to publish the outcome of its second consultation, changes to Duke Road/Dukes Avenue and Kew Bridge. It is expected to do so soon and to publish its final proposals which will then go to Hounslow’s cabinet for decision, perhaps on 3rd September or in October.  Hounslow council has the final say.

“This is our last chance to stop CS9/CW9,” Councillor Patrick Barr stressed.  “Many residents signed our first petition, last year, and we were grateful for their support. As shadow spokesperson for adult health and social care I understand how important exercise is.  Obesity is a national, London and local problem. Thirty minutes of exercise to reach a raised heart rate five times a week is recommended. Yes, cycling is a mode of transport that gives us exercise and we need to promote cycling. Safe cycling infrastructure is needed in Chiswick but not in the form of a cycle superhighway down our High Road pavements,” Cllr Patrick Barr said.

“We remain resolutely opposed to this scheme in Chiswick.  TfL’s attempt to soften its impact by changing its name from Cycle Superhighway 9 (CS9) to Cycleway 9 (CW9) is laughable. It is the same scheme – a one-sided, two-way, fast-track for cyclists travelling through Chiswick.  It is not what Chiswick needs – safe local cycling within Chiswick, rather than an insensitive commuter-cycling box-ticking scheme,” Cllr Joanna Biddolph said.  “If you feel the same, please sign our petition.”

Petition

‘The petition reads: “We deplore the way that TfL has ignored the clearly expressed views of the residents of Chiswick and urge Hounslow Council to reject TfL’s proposal to build a segregated two-way Cycle Superhighway (CS9) along Chiswick High Road”.  CS9 if implemented will:

  • Seriously damage the viability of Chiswick’s shops and businesses
  • Remove the street’s highly prized wide pavements
  • Significantly increase traffic congestion and journey times
  • Reduce this busy road to a single carriageway at key points
  • Destroy much loved mature trees
  • Fail to address air quality on one of London’s most polluted roads
  • Force pedestrians to cross a high speed two way cycle route
  • Drive more traffic on to Chiswick High Road because of road closures
  • Remove essential parking spaces used by shoppers and residents
  • Create a frustrating stop/start route for commuter cyclists
  • Cause traffic gridlock for up to two years during construction

‘You can sign the petition online. You can also contact us for the paper version.  Please call 020 8994 1406 and we will send the petition to you or drop them off at your address. Or you can visit us on Chiswick High Road from 10.30am every Saturday over the next two months.  Look for the tall banner!’

Photograph of Chiswick High Rd by Anna Kunst

 

Hounslow Cycling campaign response to Chiswick’s Conservative councillors’ petition against the cycle lane

For cyclists, the main issue is safety. Cyclists are knocked off their bikes and hurt all the time, usually by people opening their car door without looking, or turning left without checking properly in the mirror. They say cycling isn’t just the preserve of a few fanatics. Far more people would cycle if it were safe to do it, and the raised kerb segregating the cycle lane would protect them.

Though not all cyclists want the proposed cycle way as it is currently proposed, there are many who live locally who also enjoy wandering along the High Rd pottering and shopping. They’re not the ‘lycra louts’  who flash past, head down, commuting in to town and they don’t want to see High Rd businesses ruined either.

Hounslow Cycling Campaign, the main group in the area which represents cyclists, gives their response to the points raised on their website – Myths, mistakes and misleading people: the last chance of the Chiswick councillors

Here also they give a fuller point by point rebuttal – Myths, mistakes and misleading people part 2 (the press release)

Hounslow Cycling Campaign’s main points from their press release

They say a cycle lane hardly amounts to ‘devastating plans’. What TfL started out calling the Cycle Superhighway and the councillors persist in calling it, is in fact just ‘A bike lane with a kerb to protect people from motor vehicles’. They argue that although the councillors profess to want safer cycling: ‘The councillors have failed to provide any proposals to enable safer cycling along Chiswick High Road’ and moreover They provided no input on a “local cycling scheme” for the Borough Transport Strategy. They did not support a Liveable Neighbourhoods bid (which has subsequently received funding) which would stop residential streets being used as rat runs.

Far from TfL ignoring residents’s comments during the consultaion, they published a Response document which runs to 139 pages, They deny that the bike lane will be bad for business and have collected evidence to support this view. They say that to claim the pavements will be ‘removed’ is misleading and point to TfL traffic modelling which predicts a reduction in most journey times.

They point out that Chiswick High Rd is already a single carriage-way at some points and that while three mature trees will be lost in the construction of the cycle lane, there are also plans to plant six trees – a net gain of six. One tree has already been removed because its roots fractured a water main.

‘The councillors previously claimed that TfL figures showed pollution would increase. This was factually incorrect. The councillors now claim that CW9 “fails to address” air quality. This claim is based upon data in a TfL air pollution report showing no significant change in pollution. This analysis assumes no change in how people will travel in order to establish a baseline for comparison with today. Anyone cycling instead of taking a polluting mode of transport will be helping to address air pollution’.

Hounslow Cycling Campaign rejects the idea that cycle lanes are dangerous for pedestrians and criticises the councillors for failing to point out that the proposed cycle way 9 would reduce rat-running through residential streets. They also point out that to say the cycle way will be both “stop/start” and “high speed” is contradictory.

What the councillors don’t say

‘The councillors don’t say if they are concerned about the current high level of cyclists casualties along Chiswick High Road and they haven’t produced any proposals to address this.

‘The councillors don’t say if they are concerned about climate change and the future of the planet and what their proposals are to enable more zero carbon transport.

‘The councillors don’t say why Chiswick shops have already been closing at a rate of over one per month. It isn’t because of a bike lane that hasn’t been built yet.

‘The councillors don’t say what their proposals are to enable healthier choices for people travelling.

‘The councillors don’t say that pollution has decreased along existing cycle routes.

‘The councillors don’t say anything positive about the benefits of enabling more people to travel safely on bikes.

‘Nothing about taking kids to school, getting more people shopping locally, getting fitter while commuting to work or other benefits.

‘Considering all the issues they could address, it is highly disappointing that the Chiswick councillors are spending so much time and effort just to try and stop a bike lane’.