Cyclists allowed back in Richmond Park

Cyclists are to be allowed back in Richmond Park from Tuesday 2 June.

“We are looking forward to welcoming cyclists back” said a spokesperson for the Royal Parks.

Described as a “managed re-introduction”, cyclists will only be allowed in to Richmond Park on weekdays before 10.00 am and after 4.00 pm. The time in between is reserved for children under 12 only to cycle with a family member. Key workers commuting to work will also be permitted to cycle through the park at any time during park opening hours.

“This will allow us to monitor and measure the impact of the re-introduction and whether any further measures are required” say Royal Parks.

Access to the park roads on the eastern side of the park around Priory Lane and Broomfield Hill will be remain suspended temporarily to adult cyclists at all times, in order to maintain safety and provide a safe area for children and families to play.

Cars are still banned from the park.

Cyclists were banned from the park at the end of March because the Royal Parks decided there were too many, bunched too closely together and not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Parks and Playgrounds

See also: Champagne Superhighway

U turn on funding school meals

A few days ago, Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP, criticising the Departments for Education’s decision not to fund free school meals during half-term. He was one of more than a thousand councillors across England to have written to the government calling for free school meals to be provided over the half-term and summer breaks, after ministers said there were no plans to fund them during the forthcoming holidays.

Ordinarily free school meals are only provided during term time, but the government made an exception last month because of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty facing schools and parents. At Easter, vouchers were made available at the last minute to help support the most disadvantaged families and the councillors warned they would now face “holiday hunger” as the Covid-19 crisis continues.

The Government has now reversed this decision and will retrospectively reimburse schools for the costs. Schools minister Nick Gibb revealed during an education committee hearing on Wednesday, half way through the May half term week, that the government would now fund free meal vouchers for this week.

Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s shadow children’s minister, said:

“Labour has always supported families accessing free school meals over half-term, but announcing this U-turn during the week itself is far too late. Families have been extremely worried that they would not be able to feed their children properly this week as a result of the Government’s initial reluctance.”

Cllr Tom Bruce also had a number of other questions for the Education Secretary, which still need an answer:

  • ‘Are schools expected to remain open for critical workers and vulnerable pupils over the summer break?
  • ‘Are schools expected to remain open for a wider cohort of children?
  • ‘If schools or summer schemes are to be offered during the summer break, will the Department for Education fund free school meals?
  • In light of the Government’s demand that Transport for London withdraw free travel to under 18s, what support will be given to those travelling to and from school?

Cllr Bruce said:

“It was of course welcome that the Government u-turned on its disgraceful decision not to fund free school meals, and has done the decent thing in supporting schools and families during this extremely difficult time.

“However, it’s unacceptable that there is still so much uncertainty around how schools will be expected to operate over the coming months. It is not fair on hard-working teachers and concerned parents.

“Staff have been working non-stop since the beginning of the school closures, often in very unfamiliar and difficult conditions. Many schools in Hounslow have remained open through the Easter period, bank holidays and half term, supporting key workers and vulnerable children. They are now planning to welcome back more children, in an even more challenging environment.

“To enable schools and parents to plan effectively we need to know now what will be expected of them over the coming months. Teachers want to strike the best balance between keeping themselves and their pupils safe, while providing the best education they can. This is impossible when the Government is keeping us in the dark. We need answers.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: When are the schools going back?

Traffic to be restricted on Chiswick shopping streets

Hounslow Council has announced it will be restricting through traffic on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road, limiting vehicle access to buses and essential servicing, in order to allow shops and restaurants to spread onto the pavements and shoppers to move about in the road with safe social distancing.

Parking spaces will be suspended, but required access to premises and some disabled bays for blue badge holders will be retained. Further parking bays will also be suspended outside the police station, to provide more space for pedestrians and cycle parking.

Changes introduced in response to Government guidance and to local consultation, says LB Hounslow

A statement from LB Hounslow said:

‘On 7 May 2020, Hounslow Council announced a whole raft of new traffic measures that it was implementing to improve road safety and help social distancing. These Streetspace projects are being introduced to create more space for people to follow social distancing guidelines in town centres, and to get around the borough safely on foot and by bike.

‘Since then, the government has released statutory guidance strengthening their requirements on councils to undertake these works and for them to be done as ‘swiftly as possible’. The council supports the government’s approach which will help ensure that traffic levels, which have recently increased, are kept as low as possible. Reducing traffic volumes and providing more dedicated space for vulnerable road users will help improve safety on the roads, support people to undertake more physical activity and help sustain recent improvements we have seen in local air quality.

‘Giving more people the option of making their journeys on foot or bike will also help keep the roads clear for those that have less choice in making their trips in a vehicle, limiting the cost of congestion as businesses start to reopen.

‘In response, Hounslow Council is accelerating its plans for a range of measures to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians (including those in wheelchairs or otherwise with mobility impairments) in town centres and to reduce through traffic on residential roads. The proposed measures have been informed by responses to the borough wide consultation that are reviewed weekly, which to date has received hundreds of contributions’.

Image above: Turnham Green Terrace, coned off to allow for social distancing

Local pressure for car ban

By far the largest number of comments the Council received from its transport consultation related to Chiswick Town Centre.

Groups such as Abundance London and the Hounslow Cycling Campaign have long campaigned for these two popular shopping streets to be car free, and for people to become less reliant on cars, favouring walking and cycling instead.

When Turnham Green Terrace was closed for a street party in September, businesses along the street were full of enthusiasm and praise for the event, reporting that it was a huge success from a business perspective. “Fantastic, a lovely atmosphere, great to see everybody out’ said John Fitzgerald, manager of Snappy Snaps, ‘the busiest I’ve seen the Terrace in years”.

Since the Covid-19 emergency, it has become obvious that people are not going to be keen on using public transport again, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged people going back to work to use it as a ‘last resort’. Michael Robinson, a member of the committee of Hounslow Cycling Campaign, argued in a guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar that it would be ‘Carmageddon‘ if residents didn’t take the opportunity to demand an end to rat-running through their streets by commuters.

Chiswick Calendar guest blogger Keith Richards said the council’s response, as set out on 7 May had been ‘pathetic’. Setting out a few traffic cones along one side was nowhere near sufficient.  ‘Turnham Green Terrace is the perfect chance to create a traffic free, pedestrian shopping space’ he argued.

Dr Ed Seaton set out the case for action here, saying it was ‘time for action not words’: ‘The Covid pandemic should fundamentally alter the way we behave, both now and in the future’.

Conservative Councillors recently revised their policy on walking and cycling. Cllr Sam Hearn, who leads for the group on transport issues, said:

“One of the few benefits of the lockdown has been the improvement in air quality. If we want to retain that benefit to our previously heavily polluted area, we need to avoid a return to normality and a surge in car use”.

In his guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar he said:

“It is sensible … that Chiswick, and the rest of the borough of Hounslow, should play its part in enabling what is known as active travel… We have an opportunity to improve our communities’.

Duke Rd  / Dukes Avenue / Strand on the Green

The Council’s statement also made reference to trying out traffic reduction in other parts of Chiswick:

‘The team is also exploring further options to reduce through traffic around the Duke Road/Dukes Avenue area and on Fishers Lane.

‘A range of trial measures in the Grove Park and Strand on the Green areas are being brought forward as part of the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood work’.

Further detail on this to be provided next week.

You can see the Council’s full statement here.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Safer Streets in Chiswick – Time for action not words

See also: Hounslow to publish proposals for south Chiswick in the next couple of weeks


Fire destroys Gunnersbury Park cafe

The cafe at Gunnersbury Park has been completely destroyed and the park will remain closed until at least Sunday.

The fire engulfed the cafe in the early hours of Friday morning (29 May).

“This is very sad news and will be a significant blow to everyone who uses the park and for colleagues at both councils (Ealing and Hounslow, which jointly own the park) and the Gunnersbury CIC who have worked so hard to regenerate the park and the house” said leader of LB Ealing Julian Bell.

Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to the fire at the Gunnersbury Park Café on Popes Lane in Ealing and attended at 1.00 am on Friday. Part of the ground floor and the roof of the café were alight and it took three and a half hours, till 4.30am, to bring the fire under control. There are no reports of any injuries.

The café has a historic display area, containing display items such as horse-drawn carriages, which firefighters safely removed from the building.

“Many thanks for all your help, and for saving the Rothschild Carriages!”

Tweeted a spokesperson for Gunnersbury Park & Museum.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services at Hounslow Council said:

“We were shocked and saddened to hear of the fire that took place at the Gunnersbury Park Café. Thankfully no one was hurt”.

The cause of the fire is now under investigation.

Image below: Gunnersbury Park cafe before the fire

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Two arrests over shootings in East Acton


Chiswick Confined – My Corona blog Week 10

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, living on his own, is writing a diary of his Corona lock down. Beginning on 24 March 2020, he’s documenting the experience from his last pint in a pub onwards.

Day 66 – Friday 29 May 2020

So, who is in a quandary? At the peak of the crisis, when we were all very tucked up and locked in, checking the statistics of new Covid cases everyday and feeling raw at the numbers of deaths, it was all very straightforward. The message “Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.” was very clear. It was less a slogan, more a direct call to action and it felt important.

My daily shopping /exercise trip had the feel of something very much out of the ordinary. I peered into shops to make sure there were not too many people to go in, ensured no one came too close, held my card at extreme arms length when I was paying and sanitized my hands as I came out of every shop or if I touched something. As I walked home along an almost deserted High Road I met no one I knew. The lobby to my block was empty and I used a tissue to open communal doors and to press lift buttons.

Once home, I washed my hands vigorously and then went back to sanitize door handles and key fobs. Even then, on zoom calls or on messages, having read the description of my excursions on my blog, several of my friends thought I was taking too many risks and should not go out. The whole atmosphere was of a shared crisis and everyone I spoke to was clear about, not just protecting themselves but being considerate about others.

Today, the situation is very different. There is a wide disparity of views amongst my friends and neighbours. There are still those that are as particular as they ever were, particularly those with identified vulnerabilities. There are some that have gone completely the other way and believe the lock down rules should be relaxed or even just ignored completely.

Whether it is a conscious decision or just a kind of communal reduction in attention the streets are now full of those that act as if there were few restrictions. There are fewer adherences to distancing, more impatience in queues, more traffic on the roads, more and larger groups on open spaces, more pockets of friends having conversations on the street and shop assistants are noticeably less careful when serving.

I have avoided them but I have heard of several pubs and cafes in the area that serve draft beer to be drunk outside their premises but with the clear expectation that you will not be taking it home and will be hanging out close by and coming back fore another. Many people I know have driven to visit friends and relatives for social reasons and have had barbeques and garden parties. Media photographs of beaches right across the country attest to the rapid change of mindset.

What constitutes ‘British Common Sense’?

So, instead of a clear communal approach we are divided in our interpretation of …….. of what ? Are they rules or just guidelines? I am not going to talk to the Cummings affair because if I start then I am unlikely to avoid a full rant but the papers are full of police reports of people using his actions and the government’s failure to condemn them, as an excuse or a justification for their own lock down breaches.

What constitutes the ‘British Common Sense’ so highly regarded by our Prime Minister? ‘Stay Alert’ is less compelling than ‘Stay Home’ and the subliminal replacement of the originally red arrow/triangles to green says what exactly?

If you are meant to take your children to school you are less likely to return home and more likely to revert to your former coffee mornings with the other ‘Yummy Mummies’ on the High Road. Today ‘Track and Trace’ is being rolled out with instructions that any one who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive must self-isolate for 14 days even if they show symptoms but it will take five days for people to get the results of their tests.

Whatever your political inclination, that ‘self-isolation’ rule has taken a bashing in the public perception and it will be impossible to enforce and we are back to the ‘Great British Common Sense’ that I personally have little confidence in.

So, what are we folks somewhere in the middle who want to get more fresh air, catch up with some of our friends and family, support local businesses and feel slightly more human but still want to be protected and protect others meant to do?

How about someone with vulnerable people in their household, possibly living in a small flat with three generations of family, who now feels under pressure to go back to work but needs to catch a bus and a tube to do so?

How about the owner of a small business that sees that the government’s financial support will soon be reduced if not cease altogether but knows that if he re-opens his staff will have to run the gauntlet of public transport?

How about the grandparents whose daughter cannot return to work unless one of them child-minds? The rules say no but ‘but Mum, everyone else is doing it and I need to get back to work’ is a tough call.

The absolute lock-down created its own mental health issues but I feel potentially that this halfway house will be even more stressful. For many, the previous guidelines made the safe option perfectly clear. Now the onus is on individuals to decipher the less than clear messages on how best to behave. Undoubtedly, this would have happened in any case as transition is always more stressful than absolute and as everyone’s circumstances differ this would always have been the time when behaviour would start to reflect those different circumstances.

I saw one commentator use the analogy of air travel: the take off and the landings being the most dangerous moments of a flight. In a pandemic the most critical moments are as preventative measures are imposed and then as they are relaxed. The family I saw today, strolling down a sunny Turnham Green Terrace with ice creams from Foubert’s, seemed oblivious of the dangers of a second wave. South Korea has just re-imposed many of their lock down restrictions as real signs of a second wave of infections have become apparent. A major second wave in London would severely hamper any economic recovery and put people under a great deal of personal pressure.

So, how have I responded? I have done little to change my behaviour though I have made distanced visits to sit in a friend’s garden via their back gates. On one occasion by bus wearing a facemask and with regular use of sanitizer. I actually found that trip more stressful than I expected and was strangely exhausted by what would have been a routine outing prior to Covid.

I had both my sons to stay, which was technically against the rules but they came in a car from one locked down home to another and we stayed in as they ‘were working at home’ anyway. My shopping and exercising regimes have not changed nor my hand washing on return.

Possibly the one relaxation has been to pop out in the evenings occasionally to order and collect take-away food by person. My sons and I did try the new Tex-Mex Restaurant, D-Grande, that has just re-opened on the High Road. Our experience was a positive one. The food seemed to us to be ‘More Tex than Mex’ i.e. it is American rather than Mexican, as can be told by the style of the Quesos options. We only ordered vegetable dishes though they do have an impressive selection of offerings using beef brisket. We really enjoyed what we had and were also highly impressed that all their take away containers were made from fully biodegradable materials – a major plus in our book!

I am also pleased to see my local wine shop re-opening as I walked past this morning. I am strongly of the view that we need to support any local independent business as it re-opens. If that means having to have an extra glass of wine then it would be churlish not to!

Talking of Anarchy in the UK …

Talking of churlish – there was no doubt that this and any other epithet you can think of have been leveled at today’s Vinyl selection.

If you have read this week’s blogs on my website you will have seen that some of my neighbours have shared their Vinyl collections with me. “Never mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” was actually given to my next door neighbour, Shea, by his Mum, which says something about my age and possibly his Mum’s state of mind. Hugely controversial at the time the album has now gone down as one of the most influential of the modern era and one of the few that genuinely merits the term ‘Iconic’.

I was at the latter end of my student days when it was released in 1977 and was aware of The Pistols’ skirmish on television with Bill Grundy but didn’t take much notice until these weirdly coiffured kids started kicking off everywhere in Brighton. I enjoyed the music that emerged from the footsteps of pure punk like the Stranglers, Ian Dury & the Blockheads or Elvis Costello but wasn’t a fan of the movement itself. It was actually pretty unpleasant when going to gigs and the front was full of pogoing youths who ‘gobbed’ at the stage to the extent that between every act roadies had to come out with buckets and mobs.

Nevertheless, though not a fan I do appreciate that Punk’s anarchic approach opened up the music industry to new music and broke down some of the traditional reticence towards innovation and experiment. In addition, for the purposes of this blog, it should be recognised that several of those associated with it are local lads. Two of the founding members of the Pistols, Steve Jones the guitarist and Paul Cook the drummer, were born in Shepherds Bush and went to what was called ‘Christopher Wren’ back then and is now called ‘Phoenix Academy’.

In fact, there was originally an additional school friend of theirs, Wally Nightingale, in the band that was originally called ‘The Strand’ and then ‘The Swankers’ but when McLaren took over as manager he sacked him for not looking rough enough. The music PR would have it that The Sex Pistols were a product of McLaren and Westwood’s ‘Sex’ clothing shop in The King’s Road but there was an argument that says it all started at the school in White City.

In addition to the band members, the Producer, Chris Thomas, is a local lad, from Brentford. It was only when researching for this blog that I came to be aware of him, which is pretty amazing seeing his catalogue of artists includes The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Procol Haram, Roxy Music, Badfinger, Elton John, Pete Townsend, Pulp and The Pretenders. It turns out that he prefers to avoid the limelight though that list suggests one of British pop and rock music’s greatest producers is ‘one of ours’. I would love to ask him how he coped with working with Paul McCartney (on ‘back To The Egg’ by Wings) and the Sex Pistols at the same time. That’s a challenge for another time.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona blog Week 11

Read the previous one – My Corona blog 9

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

See more of Keith’s work on his website –

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to

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See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Episode 9: Afghan cricket with Dr Sarah Fane OBE

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

In this episode they are joined by Dr Sarah Fane OBE, who founded the charity Afghan Connection, to talk about how cricket has played a huge part in helping her develop education projects in the war torn country. She also talks about her new role as Director of the MCC Foundation.

You can support the MCC Foundation here:

More Platforms

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing, we’d love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Next episode – Episode 10: The First Nets & More Cricketing Novels

Previous Episode – Episode 8: The Impact of T20 with Tim Wigmore

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket


Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast was produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Artists Stay Home – Jill Meager

Artists At Home has been a feature of life in Chiswick for decades now. The annual Open Studios by artists in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush over a long weekend in June is something many of us look forward to.

This year the artists will be ‘Staying Home’ as opposed to ‘At Home’, meaning they will not be welcoming visitors over the threshold, but they will be selling their work online instead. The Chiswick Calendar will be featuring some of the work of the artists taking part this year over the next few weeks.

Today’s featured artist is Jill Meager.

Raised in rural Scotland, Jill works primarily in response to wildlife – its resilience, its design and now increasingly its vulnerability. She exhibits regularly in London and around the UK and has been a finalist in both the National Open Art Competition and the V&A Inspired By series as well as being shortlisted for the RA Summer Exhibition.

She has designed Christmas cards for Farms for City Children and InterAct Stroke Support, and one of her hares has featured in a Michael Morpurgo short story. Her work is held at the Jane Newbery Gallery, Dulwich and The Ashburn Gallery in Ashburton, Devon. She has recently developed a range of prints, cards and gifts based on the images she has created. Jill trained at Cambridge University and Putney School of Art and Design.

“I have long been fascinated by wild creatures and I feel a strong emotional connection to them. In my portraits, I try to capture their beauty, the profound meaning of their existence and the important and often under-estimated role they play in our lives.

“On my journeys, it has been a great privilege to see hares, hedgehogs, puffins, kittiwakes and many other amazing creatures, but it has also been sad to acknowledge that many of them are struggling to cope in a man-made hostile environment.”

” It’s taken me a while to adjust to a Covid world: I thought it might be reasonably straightforward since as an artist I spend so much of my time alone, but I have missed visiting the wild places that inspire my work and I have missed people and chats and the daily interactions with the outside world that I took for granted. But on my walks, I have sketched ducklings, and so many birds, and have even had goldfinches at my bird table.

I also have a toddler in the house so he has had his portrait painted. As an artist, I am very interested in the fragility of the world – how each living thing is so dependent on a fine balance of circumstances and this fragility seems to be even more prominent at the moment. I hope it is a time to reflect on what we need to take care of in our future world.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists Stay Home – Jasna Bell

See also: Bedford Park Festival goes online

Bedford Park Festival goes online

The Bedford Park Festival is going online this year with The Chiswick Calendar as one of several digital platforms hosting events.

Festival will feature performances by a host of local stars. Phyllis Logan, Kevin McNally, Lucy Briers and Jeremy Vine are recording a new radio play for The Chiswick Calendar, and Eddy Marsan is giving a dramatic reading in conjunction with the Italian station LondonONERadio.


Image above: Trio Manouche ‘The Isolation Sessions’ featuring Francesca Confortini

Since our Jazz at George IV nights came to an abrupt halt with the coronavirus also, The Chiswick Calendar and Jazz promoter Larry Pryce are particularly pleased to be able to feature the YouTube Premiere of Gypsy Jazz band Trio Manouche presenting their new album, recorded during Lockdown, as part of the Festival, on Friday 19 June.

Images above: Sandy Burnett; Sophie Ellis Bextor; David Juritz

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is sharing her Friday Kitchen Disco videos with the Festival and top local musicians David Juritz and Sandy Burnett will give an illustrated talk on Bach. There will also be another chance to watch the Festival’s acclaimed poetry evening with Louis de Bernieres, filmed in 2014 by Chiswickbuzz.

The Festival will be opened by Jeremy Vine at 11.00 am on Saturday 13 June, as part of Green Days at Home. The online Craft Fair will have over 25 exhibitors, and the ‘virtual‘ Bandstand will feature performances by Chiswick Theatre Arts, ArtsEd, Stagecoach Chiswick and ‘Alan the Milkman’s band’, The BATS of Ealing – all hosted on the Chiswickbuzz website.

At the same time, the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition and Photographic Exhibition will take place on The Chiswick Calendar website.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Two radio plays – premiered at the Bedford Park Festival

See also: Trio Manouche – The Isolation Sessions

Mortgage payment holiday extended  

Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage due to coronavirus will be able to extend their mortgage payment holiday for a further three months, or start making reduced payments.

The availability of a three month mortgage holiday was first announced in March as part of a package of support for individuals, businesses and the economy. Over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays were taken up, and the first of these will be coming to an end in June.

To give people the certainty they need, they will be contacted by their lender to discuss a way forward. Where consumers can afford to re-start mortgage payments, it is in their best interest to do so. However, if people are still struggling and need help, a full extension of the mortgage holiday for a further three months will be available as one of the options open to them.

The Financial Conduct Authority has published new draft guidance on Wednesday (27 May) for lenders which will set out the expectations for firms and the options available to their customers.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Coronavirus testing locally

Government decision not to fund free school meals a ‘disgrace’

Hounslow Council’s Lead Member for education has labelled as a ‘disgrace’ the Government’s decision not to fund free school meals during half-term.

During the Easter Break in April, free school meals were funded as many vulnerable children or those of key workers were still attending schools, and it was also recognised many low-income families were struggling to afford to pay for meals at home due to the impact of coronavirus. However, the Government has decided that it will not cover the cost over this half-term.

In a letter to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP, Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, said:

“Despite my perhaps naïve assumption, I was dismayed to learn your Department has chosen not to support children receiving a good meal. This is nothing short of a disgrace, particularly at a time when so many families are struggling financially.

“In Hounslow we have more and more families who are not working or have lost their job during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, child poverty is on the increase and for many a free school meal may be the only meal that they receive that day.

“This leaves Hounslow, and councils up and down the county, having to choose between using our own ever reducing funds, asking schools to front the cost from their declining budgets or leaving the most vulnerable young people in our community without a meal.

“I have taken the only morally right decision and the Council will be paying for this from its budget, at a cost of £75,000. Ministerial pledges to do whatever it takes to support councils and communities through this pandemic appear increasingly hollow.”

Cllr Bruce also called for clarity over the qualification criteria for free school meals next month; what schools will be expected to do over the summer break; and support for families impacted by Transport for London’s proposal to remove free travel for children.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: When are the schools going back?

Tentative return to school

The Government’s plan for schools to return is for some primary school classes to return from 1 June ‘at the earliest’. At time of writing (Thursday evening, 28 May) it doesn’t look as if any of Chiswick’s state primary schools will be back on Monday morning and across the borough of Hounslow only a third are planning on going back next week.

“It’s a very mixed picture, which is still changing daily” says Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services. He stresses that it’s down to the individual schools to decide what’s right for them and does not intend to add any pressure.

Department of Education guidelines are that primary schools should begin with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes. In Chiswick, the concensus seems to be that it’s a good idea to start with the older children first, then Year 1 and then Reception, week by week.

Image above: Children from St Mary’s RC Primary School.

Image below: Children from William Hogarth School

Logistical nightmare

Across Hounslow’s 55 primary schools, 18 plan to open in some capacity next week, 20 the following week and three the week after, with 14 still unconfirmed. Strand on the Green Infants, Belmont and Grove Park have let Tom know they’re planning to start on 8 June, while Cavendish School and William Hogarth School are looking to start at some point next week. He had no information as yet about St Mary’s RC Primary School or Strand on the Green Juniors as yet.

Schools have a lot to consider, and the picture is fluid, so parents should get their information from their own head teacher, as this is just a snap shot and tomorrow it could all be wrong, as things are changing day by day.

“I don’t envy the schools this task” says Tom, “especially the heads. Staff and parents are worried and children are worried. You tell children to abide by social distancing and they do it, but three minutes later they forget, as they are chatting to their friends. Is it realistic to expect them to remember?”

DfE guidance suggests that the classrooms are stripped down, all soft furnishings removed and a lot of the stuff which generally inhabits primary schools, making the classes look homely and welcoming, so that they are easier to clean. Children should be taught in a ‘bubble’ of 15, a cohort who stick together, in the classroom and the playground, not mixing with other groups.

A class is generally 30 kids and initially with only one, two or three year groups to deal with, there should be enough space and teachers to go round, but as more age groups return schools will either need to teach the groups for half the time – morning or afternoon only – or they will need to find more space and more teachers to keep the groups separate.

Image above: Children at Belmont School

It’s a logistical nightmare. The advice is only to have fifteen desks and chairs in each classroom so they can be well spaced, to introduce one way systems of walking about the school and staggered break times.

“It is very, very challenging” says Tom, “so schools will have to take it slowly and do it at their own pace”.

Teachers who are shielding do not have to return and he thinks heads will be sympathetic to staff who have family members who need to remain shielded, though this strays into the realm of employment law which is yet to be tested.

“There will be lots of difficult conversations” he says.

At least no one will have to bother with SATs this year. I asked Tom how many parents he thought would send their children in to school at the start. His guess was about 50%. Both Ealing and Hounslow have made it clear that they won’t be trying to make parents send their children to school and there will be no penalties if they don’t.

The Government’s expectation is that all primary school year groups will be back before the end of the summer term.

Read More on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When are the schools going back?

See also: Government decision not to fund free school meals a ‘disgrace’

Coronavirus testing locally

Mobile coronavirus test centres are being set up for Sunday 31 May and Monday 1 June, from 10.30 am-3.30 pm at the Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club, Syon Lane, Osterley, Isleworth, TW7 5PN.

There will be both walk-in and drive-through appointments which will be available to book on Friday 29 May.

Testing for key workers, volunteers and their families:

Anyone who is showing symptoms of Covid 19 who are also key workers, any volunteers working in key worker roles, those who cannot work from home and, people over 65, and members of their households are able to get tested for coronavirus and can book an appointment via the self-referral portal. Tests should be taken within five days of developing symptoms as this is when the test is most accurate.

Testing for members of the public

The Government has now extended its testing programme to include any members of the public aged five and over. Please register via the NHS website.

Once you register and book your appointment via the self-referral portal or NHS website you will receive a 16-digit code text message. At the testing site, you will need to show your 16-digit code text message to staff members as confirmation for the test.

If you have any difficulty or any questions about testing, email

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Champagne Superhighway

Champagne Superhighway

House prices along London’s Cycleway routes are 80% higher than the London average, according to research carried out for letting agents Benham & Reeves. They looked at house prices along the seven cycleway routes and compared them with the average price for London. House prices along all seven cycle superhighways averaged £874,578, which is 80% higher than the current London average of £485,794.

Does that mean that proximity to a cycle lane positively affects the price of property? Do people actually seek out properties beside a cycleway route or is it just that the cycleway routes have been put through London’s most expensive areas, which tend to be bullet proof price-wise? I asked the director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr.

In truth, he said, their research didn’t really prove that cycle lanes cause an increase in the price of property. Their research isn’t that detailed, but what it certainly shows is that cycle lanes don’t cause a depreciation in prices.

“I hate cycle lanes with a passion” he said. “I like driving around London, but what our research shows is that well located properties in expensive areas aren’t negatively affected by the introduction of cycle lanes”.

So that’s good news for people who own properties near the High Rd or in Wellesley Rd. In the most expensive area where there’s a Cycleway – CS9 from Tower Hill to Lancaster Gate – properties are 150% above the London average.

“With the congestion zone and the costs of running a car and parking, I think cycling is one of those alternatives to public transport that people are looking to, and I think if you work in the City there’s increasing interest from people wanting to be able to jump on a nearby cycle lane”.

“One of the questions developers are most often asked (from people buying off plan) is will there be somewhere where I can store my bike?”

This news doesn’t really come as any surprise to Marc, he told me, as he did some research when ‘Boris bikes’ were first introduced.

“Rental properties within 200 yards of a bike stand increased the rental income by 15%” he said.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Conservative councillors publish new policy on walking and cycling

See also: Safer Streets in Chiswick: Time for Action not Words

Two arrests over shootings in East Acton

Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command (Trident) investigating two shootings in the Acton area have made two arrests.

Police were called at approximately 00.35 am on Tuesday 19 May to reports of a shooting in Perryn Road, W3. Officers and London Ambulance Service attended and found an 18 year old man suffering gunshot injuries. He was taken to hospital, where his injuries were not found to be life threatening.

The investigation is being linked to an earlier shooting on Sunday 17 May. At about 21.43 pm a firearm was discharged in East Acton Lane, W3. A 42-year-old woman suffered an injury to her foot and was treated in hospital.

A 31 year old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and firearms offences. A 19 year old man was also arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and firearms offences and was  bailed pending further enquiries in relation to this investigation.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information about either of the offences to contact police.

Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or contact via Twitter @MetCC. Please quote CAD220/19May.

To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at

If you have information about this incident, or information about someone you suspect to be carrying a weapon and you do not want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website It is 100 per cent anonymous. They never ask your name and cannot trace your call or IP address.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: More than 200 arrests made in violent crime operation

See also: Police searching for violent criminals

More than 200 arrests made in violent crime operation

More than 200 people were arrested over a seven day period in May, in continued efforts by the police to tackle violent crime.

The Territorial Support Group and the Dog Support Unit worked in conjunction with local teams on a number of operations across several London boroughs, including Hammersmith & Fulham, making a total of 222 arrests between Monday 11 and Sunday 17 May

Police tactics against violent crime in London include intelligence led stop and search and targeted patrols to disrupt crime in known hot spot areas and locations. This particular operation took place across Enfield, Haringey, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and resulted in:

– 222 arrests made
– 5 firearms recovered
– 26 knives recovered
– 29 other offensive weapons recovered
– 206 drug seizures

Superintendent Emma Richards, from the Met’s Taskforce, said:

“60 offensive weapons are now off London’s streets, as well as a vast amount of drugs, both of which could cause much harm to the public. The Senior Leadership Team for the Taskforce is very proud of the officers on our command, we could not ask for more.

“We will continue to exploit all tactics and powers available to us to suppress violence.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Two arrests over shootings in east Acton

See also: Is Chiswick in the middle of a drug war?

From Cabbie to Chiswick Concierge

Are you confined to barracks for the foreseeable?  Struggling with online supermarket delivery orders, with all their annoying gaps and “substitutions”?

You may have an alternative.

One of the recent shopping innovations to hit Chiswick is the arrival of a new black cab concierge shopping service. Run by tour-guiding cab drivers thrown out of work by the current crisis, it enables you to order goods from a variety of stores, delivered to your door the same day. The cabs are used exclusively for shopping, and drivers adopt strict health and safety measures (details below).

Drivers will go to local supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as smaller shops and delis which obey government regulations on social distancing.  If they can’t find what you want, they’ll try to hunt out an acceptable alternative in the same shop, or same area.

The Club is the brainchild of Ray Winstone (no relation to the actor).  The drivers of his Black Taxi Tour London (BTTL) team usually spend their time showing American tourists around the capital. But when Coronavirus hit, Ray says, “We went from a full order book throughout the summer to zero.”

Ray Winstone

Ray, a taxi driver for 32 years, suddenly found himself unemployed.  He wasn’t alone – with London’s streets deserted, many cabbies simply took their cabs off the road, or temporarily gave them up.  Others are trying to hang onto their taxis, but high running costs mean they’re struggling with large overheads.

“Overall, it costs between about £135 and £200 pounds a week to keep a cab on the road,” says Ray.  “You have to pay licensing, pay for the meter, maintenance.  And newer cabs cost a lot more – about £70,000, including finance.  Some drivers are paying more than £300 a week in finance payments.”

Ray started looking for alternative work.  In March, he offered his services to a Belgravia supermarket, which was struggling to keep up with the sudden surge in delivery requests. That idea didn’t pan out.  But the germ of another idea was born:  a concierge shopping service, run by black cab drivers.

According to Ray, “It quickly became obvious there was a massive demand out there.  I started speaking to customers, speaking to the other guides.  We got some leaflets printed and started working.”

He’s been joined by around 10 of his fellow drivers, who whizz around London on a daily basis, doing everything from basic supermarket shops to hunting down more elusive items for their clients. Many, like Ray, have been cab drivers for decades.

Images above: Shopping Club driver, Moses Gonzalez, at work

The Exclusive Shopping Club, as its name might suggest, does not come cheap.  The subscription currently costs £100 a week.  Perhaps not surprisingly, its clients tend to be in the wealthier areas of London – Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge … and Chiswick. But Ray stresses it’s not a profit making venture.

“It’s community-based,” he says, “a service to help vulnerable people who can’t get out and give us a tick-over, help with our running costs.  The drivers aren’t being paid ‘living standard’ wages.”

In fact, he points out, if a customer chooses to shop five times a week, the driver may only take home about £4 an hour after all his/her time spent queuing and shopping.  That’s a far cry from the £35-£50 an hour cabbies can earn on the London streets in more normal times.

And the idea is that if more people subscribe, subscription costs will come down.

The Shopping Club employs strict safety standards.

  • Drivers only use their cabs for deliveries – they don’t pick up customers in them, or use them privately
  • Cabs are sanitised before and after shops
  • Drivers sanitise their hands before and after each shop and delivery
  • Drivers obey the 2 metre social distancing rule, both in shops and when delivering

And of course, to be a black cab driver you have to pass regular enhanced DBS criminal record checks. If you’re interested in joining the Shopping Club, you can find more details at


Let them eat bread!

By Sara Ward

I run a weekly micro bakery from home in Brentford, where locals can order bread, buns, honey and preserves to collect on a Friday afternoon, so I’m used to buying flour in 25kg sacks, and if I’m stocking a few different varieties, it’s not uncommon for me to have 100kg in the house.

Most people don’t keep flour in that quantity in their kitchen cupboard, but when the lockdown started suddenly everyone wanted to bake.

I’ve been chatting to a miller that I know, the lovely Emily at Wessex Mill in Wantage near Oxford, and she explained why the millers have found it hard to keep up with the demand.

Many of us eat wheat, in some form or another, every day, or even every meal. Toast in the morning, sandwiches for lunch and pizza for supper all rely on millers grinding grain into flour before bakers and chefs can create the convenient food that’s so comforting, and I haven’t even mentioned all the pies, pasta and cake that we love so much.

When you look at the huge volume of shelf space that the supermarkets surrendered to cakes and bakes, biscuits and pasta, then compare it to the small selection of flour they stock, it’s obvious that we would usually much rather pick up something ready to eat than grab an apron and mixing bowl.

So why the shortage of flour? The industry just isn’t geared up to supplying it in small bags. It’s much easier for mills to fill big sacks of flour for customers ordering in bulk, this is where their main sales are, and it’s a system that’s worked well for decades. The small bags for sale via shops are just that, small bags.

Even with increased demand, the mill can only fill so many per hour and as we all hope things will go back to normal, investing in expensive new packaging equipment for a short-term challenge, isn’t cost effective.

We’ve started running our bread courses online using Zoom. If you have got flour, please join us, and if you haven’t got flour and would like to join in, I’m sure I could bag you some up for collecting locally.

All new virtual courses can be found on our website.

Sara Ward runs Hen Corner from her home in Brentford

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Best thing since sliced bread

See also: Flower Market opening 6 September

Police searching for violent criminals

Following on from the witness who contacted The Chiswick Calendar on Monday about a violent altercation on Chiswick Common, and a series of burnt out cars strewn across Chiswick, there have been reports of two shootings in Acton over the past week.

The police have issued stop and search notices covering Acton and the whole of Chiswick.

‘We use this power in exceptional circumstances, to tackle serious violence and/or intelligence-led policing around possession of offensive weapons’ the latest notice says.

The police have not responded to our repeated requests for further information, only saying that there have been ‘incidents of violence’ but it seems Chiswick may be caught up in a turf war between drug gangs. Nor have they contacted the couple who called 999 to report Monday night’s incident for a witness statement.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Is Chiswick in the middle of a drug war?

See also: Car burnt out in Elmwood Rd

80th Anniversary of Dunkirk

Today (Tuesday 26 May) is the eightieth anniversary of Dunkirk, the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk in northern France, as they were hemmed in by German troops.

By rights, Princess Freda (pictured here crossing the English Channel) should have been on a week long trip over to France and back to commemorate the evacuation, as she was there. Every five years the boat, now owned by Collier’s Launches and moored at Kew Bridge, has taken part in the crossing as part in the commemoration.

Although almost 192,000 Allied personnel, 144,000 of them British, were evacuated, the British Expeditionary Force lost 68,000 soldiers (dead, wounded, missing, or captured) during the Battle for France. Winston Churchill described it as a ‘colossal military disaster’, though somehow, perhaps because of the various film and television portrayals, it has entered our collective memory as some kind of victory.

In May 1940, Lord Gort, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, realised that his effort to protect France from German invasion had failed, and ordered some 338,000 British and Commonwealth troops to retreat to the port of Dunkirk, which was surrounded by marshes and old fortifications, and had one of the longest sand beaches in Europe.

A flotilla of  around 400 small boats from all over the south of England went over to help with the evacuation. They were used to ferry soldiers from shore out to the destroyers which were unable to come in close enough to shore to pick them up.

Images above: Collier family, Danny, John and John’s son Alex, an apprentice boatman, in the middle; Princess Freda full of passengers on the Thames, photograph by Tony Lodge

The Princess Freda was built on the Isle of Wight in 1926, and has spent most of her life ferrying passengers up and down the river Thames, operating for many years in the Hampton Court area. She had been built to sail in shallow waters and so was perfect for the job. Princess Freda was commanded by sub-lieutenant ES Foreman. At some point in the mission, Freda’s propeller failed and she had to be tugged back to Ramsgate.

Danny Collier and his brother bought the boat in 2001, and spent 18 months refitting her, stripping her back to her frame and building an oak and mahogany lined saloon, to transform her into a pleasure craft taking trips on the Thames. They run up river from Kew to Hampton Court and down river to Westminster, where they have two more boats moored.

Images above: Princess Freda leaving Ramsgate harbour in 2015; Michael Bentall and Garth Wright with Royal Naval Wren Lauren

In 2015 they sailed the boat to Dunkirk as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations and were joined on board by two Dunkirk veterans, 94-year-old Michael Bentall and 95-year-old Garth Wright.

Bentall, who had served with the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, travelled from Canada for the commemorations, which he described as “quite emotional really”. Wright, from Plymouth, said he thought he would never see the white cliffs of Dover again. “I remember everything as if it were yesterday,” he said.

“What an honour to be in their company” said Danny. The family also treasures the green beret presented to them by ex Royal Marine Corporal Shaun Kent on that trip as a gesture of friendship and thanks.

Two years later the film Dunkirk came out, written and directed by Christopher Nolan which brought home to later generations just how terrifying it must have been, with the rescue boats being continually strafed by the Luftwaffe and the sea ablaze with burning oil. After queuing patiently for hours to be taken off the beach, there was no guarantee you’d make it to the naval ships in deeper water.

This year Colliers launches have lain idle, unable to work becuase of the coronavirus, and the family has had to launch an appeal to crowd fund to survive the season. The company needs to raise a minimum of £25,000 to pay their overheads, such as licenses, tax and mooring rents.

If you would like to make a donation to keep them afloat, you can do so here.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Mayday – River Thames family business sinking

See also: Could this be the last season for Colliers boat trips?

Artists Stay Home – Jasna Bell

Artists At Home has been a feature of life in Chiswick for decades now. The annual Open Studios by artists in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush over a long weekend in June is something many of us look forward to.

This year the artists will be ‘Staying Home’ as opposed to ‘At Home’, meaning they will not be welcoming visitors over the threshold, but they will be selling their work online instead. The Chiswick Calendar will be featuring some of the work of the artists taking part this year over the next few weeks.

Today’s featured artist is Jasna Bell.

“I have been focusing on painting trying to escape the avalanche of bad news” says Jasna. “It is a different time and feeling. Painting and focusing on colours, forms , lines , gesture, simplifying… I try to uplift my sense of existence”.

Jasna explores painting as a process of experience, sourcing memories and the unconscious, in which the paint marks reflect the passing time and movement of thoughts.

She says that the perpetual motion of our thoughts takes us towards a greater complexity of the world. Our experience becomes multi-layered and coloured with ever-changing perception of things. We often turn to art to find and understand our thoughts and emotions, a space to stand still in contrast to our internal chaotic existence.

Paint and brush become a vehicle to bridge the gulf between ourselves and unconscious, the canvas becoming a screen of reflection.

In the process of making, paint lends a body to this introspection and maze of sensation, the canvas being a gate of perception and realisation. In a single lifetime and even in a single day we inhibit different mind worlds and emotions. As we contemplate the rising and passing of various states of mind, we begin to liberate ourselves from reaction to and identification with them.

Contact Jasna at:

To see other work by professional artists who live in the Chiswick area please go to The Chiswick Calendar’s directory of local artists.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival Summer Exhibition 2020 

See also: Bedford Park Festival Photography Competition 2020 

Do we think he got away with it?

So much for a nice quiet bank holiday weekend. Up and down the country people have been incandescent with rage that they have stuck to the rules to ‘protect the NHS’, not been able to see sick and dying family members or go to funerals, while Dominic Cummings has been up to Durham and even popped over to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’ before driving back, meanwhile stopping long enough to appreciate the bluebells.

Did he do enough at yesterday’s press conference to convince us he acted reasonably and legally? If this were a court case and we were the jury, asked to convict him of breaking the rules, I think it’s fair to say he did enough to sow ‘reasonable doubt’.

Two parents of a young child, both ill, would be worried about how their child will be looked after, and if going to see his elderly parents actually meant staying in a spare house on their farm and never actually going near them, then he didn’t endanger them in the way we might have imagined. ‘Staying with my parents’ for most people means just that, as most people don’t have spare houses on their private land.

But how silly we’ve been, not realising the rules, as set out by the Government, allowed for interpretation and meant all along that we could apply personal judgement.

He didn’t apologise. He didn’t think he did anything wrong. The rules apparently made it clear that having small children to look after constituted “exceptional circumstances”.

“The rules are not millions of pages long, setting out what to do in every set of circumstances” he said. “You have to exercise your own judgement”.

The implication is that we’re the mugs for thinking we had to obey the rules.

After a weekend of senior ministers lining up to protect Dom, culminating with the Prime Minister throwing his weight firmly behind him, saying he had “no alternative” but to travel from London to the North East for childcare, the political focus is now shifting to Boris himself and how much it affects his leadership.

Legally the lockdown is in tatters. From the outset different police forces seem to have interpreted the rules differently, with some more heavy handed than others, but thousands of people have received spot fines for breaking lockdown. Those who were arrested and charged must now be thinking they may have good grounds to get their cases overturned (although a review by the CPS two weeks ago already found that all the prosecutions under the new Coronavirus Act have been unlawful).

We had the Attorney General Suella Braverman backing Cummings, saying: ‘Protecting one’s family is what any good parent does’. When has that ever been a defence in law?

Practically speaking, the lockdown has effectively been over since Boris reduced the ‘stay at home’ message to ‘stay alert’ with people interpreting that as they see fit. I’m not a huge fan of Piers Morgan, but I think he spoke for the nation when he said on Saturday:

“I’m not having one rule for these clowns & another for the rest of us.”

That’s also the conclusion that senior scientists have come to, that if people decide the rules don’t matter, the whole Cummings debacle will result in a threat to public health, regardless if he got away with it legally or politically.

But the Prime Minister didn’t bat an eyelid in his press conference.

“I do not believe that anyone in number 10 has done anything to undermine the guidelines”

and apparently saw not a trace of irony in reiterating:

“It’s absolutely vital” that people remain self-isolating “if they have coronavirus symptoms”.

I also spent the whole of Dominic Cummings’ press conference wondering increasingly if I’d been transported to Saudi Arabia. Why couldn’t Mary drive back if they were worried about his eyesight having been affected by the virus?

A question nobody asked, until a couple of hours later when Robert Peston put it to Boris, who batted it away.

Clearly he regards the issue as closed. We’ll see.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When will the pubs reopen – and how?

See also: When working at home turns out ok

A vixen and her cubs – gallery

Lovely photographs of a vixen and her cubs by Mark Lawson @casenoter


New to cycling? Beware the small print when renting out a Santander Cycle

The coronavirus emergency has prompted a surge in second hand bike sales, as people see cycling as an obvious way to get around without getting too near to other people.

The use of ‘Boris bikes’ has also been on the increase. Santander Cycles, as they are properly known, were rented out in record numbers over the last weekend in April. They’re cheap to hire – just £2 for 24 hours. Unless that is, you return them late, as Francis Crighton has found out to his cost. He borrowed a bike and was charged a whopping  £92  for returning it and hour and 22 minutes late.

‘I understand how frustrating it can be to be charged an amount you weren’t expecting to incur’ writes Transport for London Customer Services Adviser Christopher Tosh.

‘I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused’ he continues, but ‘you have been charged the correct amount of £94. This is in accordance of our terms and conditions. The cycle was out for over 24 hours and therefore charged accordingly’.

To add insult to injury, TfL subsequently took a further £98 from Francis’ account, without further explanation. Francis is a student, just turned 18, with no income.

His mother is a barrister, Ann Crighton of Crighton Chambers.

‘I am not satisfied with your response’ she wrote back, ‘because charging £94 for an extra 1 hour and 22 minutes is unlawful under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

‘Basically, the Act says that terms of a contract should be transparent, simple to understand, not take advantage of a consumer’s vulnerability and should take into account a consumer’s legitimate interests’.  In other words, unfair terms and conditions should not be hidden in the small print’.

The charge of £92 for bringing a bike back late is not made clear on the signage beside the bike stand, she says.

Image above: Francis Crighton, standing beside the Santander Cycles sign, which makes no mention of the late return penalty

‘In the case of the charge of £92 for bringing a bike back late – this has not been made clear’ she wrote to TfL.

‘I went back to the sign and it clearly states that the charge for hiring a bike for 24 hours is £2. It also states that the charge for the first 30 minutes is free and an additional charge of £2 would be made after 30 minutes leading a person to believe that if they kept the bike for, say, 25 or 26 hours an additional fee of £2 is payable – not £92.

‘Underneath the large print it states that up to £300 is payable if the bike is not returned or damaged.  As my son returned the bike and the bike was not damaged, that warning of up to £300 being payable can be safely ignored. Nowhere does it state that £92 will be payable if the bike is returned shortly after the 24 hour period.

‘My point is that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 TfL cannot make a charge of £92 for the late return of a bike because that is a term/condition hidden in the small print i.e. a term that was not transparent nor easy to understand.  My son is a student with no income and charging £92 late fee in these circumstances is not taking into account his legitimate interests’.

I feel like writing ‘the case continues’. It hasn’t gone to court, but I can’t see her letting it drop.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When working at home turns out ok – Guest blog by Julia Langdon

See also: When will the pubs reopen and why?

Man in the Middle – Chapter 37: Cummings and goings

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact?

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read
No. 1: The Letter here

No.37: Cummings and goings

Monday. My new yoga regime continues. I’m in Child Pose. My forehead and nose are nestling in the sitting room carpet and my arms are outstretched ahead of me. My yoga teacher is asking me to find some ‘inner peace in the moment’. But I’m getting distracted by the cat fur and microscopic bits of stuff which I can see as my eyes nestle into the purple fibre of the carpet. What is this stuff? Crumbs from one of Mother’s secret cake raves? Flakes of onion bhaji from last night’s takeaway? Flea eggs?

Mother walks into the sitting room and sits down in her TV chair, behind me, which means she’s facing my backside and bald spot. I am dressed only in bamboo underwear and a ragged t-shirt. Both have seen better days. I don’t think even the most self-enlightened yogi would be able to stay focused knowing his mother lurked behind him about to pass comment on his lack of pants.

‘I want to speak to you about something,’ she says. Here we go, I think.

‘What about, mum?’ I reply, rising up from the purple carpet of crumbs.



‘The Durham chap.’ She means Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser.

‘OK,’ I say.

‘I don’t understand.’

‘What don’t you understand?’

‘Why is he allowed to travel 200 miles to Durham, but you don’t want me to go 200 yards to Sainsbury’s?’

I don’t think she means this to sound like an accusation, but it feels like one. Since the lockdown, we’ve done our best to follow what we thought were the rules because we’ve been scared that if one of us accidentally brings the covid-19 virus back home, she will inevitably get it. And at ninety-six years old, we didn’t think the odds on her surviving were good. Nor did she.

In fact, we spent the first weeks of lock down enforcing really strict rules: separate rooms, separate crockery and cutlery, eating apart etc. Our daughter stayed lock down in Cardiff rather than travel home to be with us during the pandemic because we thought we were helping the NHS. Maybe, we were too rigid? Maybe, we should have used reasonable discretion and allowed her and ourselves out more. I start to wonder if it was actually cruel to be so strict, especially to her? A guilt seeps into my gut, like bile.

I start to answer her question by saying that her situation and Cummings are not the same. But aren’t they? I hesitate.

‘Is the lockdown over then?’ she asks.

‘No. It isn’t. It’s more complex than that.’

‘Aren’t the rules, the rules?’ she asks.

I tell her that I need to check what exactly the rules are now, because they are changing, and I don’t want to tell her something that’s wrong. I suggest we talk again once I’ve reviewed the rules.

‘I see. You want to ask your wife what to do?’

It’s only a glancing blow to my ego so I smile and move on.

‘The Sainsbury’s Local has special hours for elderly people if she wants to go shopping,’ says my wife, later.

‘Her philosophy is ‘I shop therefore I am’. So, we should let her go shopping,’ I suggest.

‘She just wants some semblance of independence back in her life,’ says my wife.

‘Should she wear a face mask if she goes out,’ says my son.

‘Good luck with that,’ I say.

‘I’m more worried about her being able to stand up in the queues,’ says my wife.

My son looks confused.

‘Isn’t the rule that if she doesn’t need to go shopping, she shouldn’t? And we can get her everything she needs, can’t we? So, shopping is obviously non-essential and therefore wrong?’

I’m not sure I know what the rules are any longer. But there’s no question she doesn’t need to go shopping. But, after Dominic’s comings and goings, what authority do we have to stop her, if she decides she wants to go?

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 38: The best iron money can buy

Read the previous one – Chapter 36: For Whom the Bell Tolls

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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When working from home turns out ok

Julia Langdon started working from home nearly 30 years ago after being unceremoniously sacked from her job as Political Editor at the Sunday Telegraph: ‘a “personality clash” which had found me out on my ear … I had never been out of a job and I was afraid we were all going to starve’. Looking back, considering her daily commute to the bottom of the garden, she thinks it might have been one of the best things ever to have happened to her. Journalism is probably easier than most jobs to do from home, but if you are considering making the shift a permanent one once lockdown is over, take heart from her article.

Guest blog by Julia Langdon

As many of you have learned by now, the secret of working successfully from home is all about bums on seats. If you don’t sit down and get on with it, then it won’t get done. Some call this discipline, but what makes it work for me, as a journalist, is the deadline.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t procrastinate. I am as adept as anyone else at discovering an urgent need to walk the dogs, post a letter or turn out the bottom of the bathroom cupboard. I emailed a friend this week with the lineage I had researched on Wikipedia of a distinguished political family about whom we had been talking. “Ah,” she replied. “I detect diversionary tactics. You must have a piece to write.” Right, indeed!

Give me a deadline, though, and I’ll meet it. One of my regular occupations involves writing political obituaries and – this sometimes shocks people who haven’t thought it through – that includes writing about distinguished people who haven’t actually died. Yet.

(I have had to “do” David Cameron twice – once when he became prime minister and, again, when he left office, having by then somewhat rewritten his own story. The second time round I found myself thinking that if all goes well for him, his obituary is one that I am unlikely ever to read in print).

The trouble with this line of work, however, is that it is not often I spring from my bed and, having nothing else to do, start researching an obituary of someone who maybe isn’t even showing signs of age, let alone being unwell. Yet give me a deadline and I’ll meet it. Lunchtime Friday? That’s fine – and I’ll happily get up at 6 a.m., if I’ve somehow let Thursday go by.

Researching this piece, I have now discovered, to my complete astonishment, that I have actually been working from home for half of my professional life. I spent 28 years putting on a suit, metaphorically or literally, and going to “the office” and I’ve also spent exactly the same number of years going down my small garden to the shed. I was horrified when I was fired, 28 years ago – I had never been out of a job and I was afraid we were all going to starve – but it didn’t take long to discover the advantages of WFH.

Image above: Julia Langdon by her garden shed / office

Three months after the –er – “personality clash” which had found me out on my ear, I was offered another job, as political editor of another newspaper, and I can remember gazing across the table at the editor’s generous offer with a mixture of gratitude and downright dismay.

My brain said: “He means put on a suit and go to Canary Wharf at least once a week! It means an end to independence!” I had secured a year’s money (and the car) for the insult of my new-found self- employment; I had negotiated a continued lobby “ticket” as a Westminster journalist; and I had plenty of work. I also had a four-year-old, a six-month-old baby, sufficient help to enable me to work when I wanted and I ran my own agenda for the first time in my life. What’s not to like?

I stayed in the shed. That’s where I am today. The shed (and the baby) are both 28.

Until recently, however, I did continue to go out for work purposes. Under normal circumstances I go to parliament and pubs; I go to meet people and attend press conferences. I go to receptions and meetings and events. I go to interviews and broadcasting studios and coffee shops. Well, I did. Now I just go down the garden. Life just got a whole lot easier.

Those among you who have joined these ranks now also know, WFH has some huge advantages over the alternative. Of course, I appreciate and understand that this is not the same at all for those with babies and children at home, with no child care, no help and home schooling to organise as well. All that and maybe no garden either. Such families are run ragged. I am writing here only about my own experience of how working life has changed under lock-down and, despite the horror of the pandemic itself, staying in is certainly simpler.

No trains, no travel, no timetable. No make-up, no hair-cuts, no need to change clothes. No packed itinerary, no inadvertent running late, no cringing apologies. No stress. I miss my family and friends. I like my life but, I now realise, not all of my lifestyle. And yes I know I’m lucky.

But I have reverted to following what were once the two rules of child-rearing: Rule One: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule Two: compared to the world outside the front door, it is all small stuff. As a result I think I might also be a nicer person to be around. If there was anybody there to notice.

Julia Langdon has been a political journalist since 1971 and became a lobby correspondent in 1974. Leaving The Guardian in 1984, she was appointed political editor of the Daily Mirror, the first woman to hold the position on a national newspaper in the UK. She’s been a freelance writer since 1992.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When will the pubs reopen, and how?

See also: Continued lockdown ‘ridiculous’ or sensible?

When will the pubs reopen – and how?

Images above: One Over the Ait, Brentford; The Pilot, Wellesley Rd, Chiswick

When will the pubs reopen is the $64,000 question many of us want to know the answer to, and how? How is it possible to enforce social distancing in a boozer? Who will want to eat a meal served by someone in a plastic visor and gloves, as if they’re delivering toxic waste, albeit with a smile? There hasn’t even been social distancing among the blokes sitting forlornly outside the shuttered riverside pubs, with their bottles and cans lined up on the muddy towpath, never mind inside.

Georgina Wald, Corporate Communications manager for Fuller’s, was in the process of trying to pick her way through this minefield when I spoke to her about how the planning is going. She is one of the very few people working at Fuller’s. All the pub staff have been furloughed. And I mean all of them. I spoke to one who had only been working at a Fuller’s pub for just three weeks when the pubs were shut, who is on the books, being paid along with senior staff who have worked for Fuller’s for years, and is duly grateful for the income.

Images above: George IV, Chiswick High Rd; The Bell & Crown, Strand on the Green

“I haven’t had to let a single one of my staff go” Ben Bullman, General Manger at George IV told me.

“Fuller’s have been fantastic”.

As an experienced pub manager who has only recently come to work for Fuller’s (eighteen months ago) he is in a position to compare and contrast hospitality companies, and he rates our locally based pub chain very highly.

“It’s good to know that they actually follow through on what they promise at interview” he said.

Images above: The Andover Arms in Hammersmith; The George & Devonshire, Chiswick

Tenanted pubs not charged rent

He was particularly impressed that Fuller’s have not been charging their tenant landlords rent. The company has a portfolio of pubs managed in house, which in Chiswick include the Bell & Crown, George IV and the Pilot, and they also have a number of tenanted pubs, such as the Andover Arms in Hammersmith, the Angel & Crown in Richmond and the George & Devonshire in Chsiwick. Where other businesses are negotiating with their landlords to reduce or defer rent payments, Fuller’s have just written them off.

“Tenanted pubs have not been charged rent since March” Georgina confirmed.

Fuller’s boss Simon Emeny posts videos every couple of days keeping staff informed about the company’s thinking. They make staff aware of mental health support from the Licensed Trade charity and the pubs make an effort to keep in touch with their staff.

“It’s important that people don’t feel isolated” says Georgina.

Fiona Sparkes at the Bell & Crown runs pub quizzes on Zoom to keep up her staff’s morale. The Red Lion in Ealing has turned itself into a community shop with an Italian bent, and the Angel & Crown in Richmond produces meals for homeless people.

Staff survey – ‘How do you feel about returning to work’?

Now the staff have all been sent a survey to fill out to ascertain how they feel about coming back to work.

‘Things are changing rapidly, and we don’t have all the answers’

Fuller’s admits, but they are looking to inform their decision making by asking staff (whose opinions they say will be represented anonymously) questions such as:

‘How are you coping with furlough’?

(I am coping very well and will continue to cope even if this goes on a while longer / I am starting to struggle and hope that this will be over soon / I am finding it very difficult and my mental or physical health is suffering)

and ‘How do you feel about returning to work’?

(Extremely uncomfortable, I really don’t want to / Uncertain, but likely to be OK with some reassurance and support / Comfortable / Can’t wait to get back)

Quite what they do if everyone ticks the first box for both those questions, I’m not sure, but at the moment they are looking at reopening the pubs in July / August with a strict system of seating groups at tables socially distanced from others.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When working at home turns out ok – Guest blog by Julia Langdon

See also: Continued lockdown ‘ridiculous’ or sensible?



The Chiswick Calendar’s columnist wins short story prize

James Thellusson, resident of Chiswick aka ‘Man in the Middle’ has won a prize for one of his short stories.

James, who started writing the column last year for The Chiswick Calendar about his elderly mother moving in with his family, won the 2020 Sandstone Press short fiction prize for his story An Epidemic of Kindness [redacted].

Inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on the elderly it envisages a future in which government carers are billeted with the elderly and the vulnerable. The piece takes the form of a letter from the carer to her mother, reminiscent of letters from the first world war trenches.

Sandstone Press judge Dan Brotzel described the piece as ‘dystopian’ and ‘sinister’.

Thellusson said: “I am delighted to have won the Sandstone prize. At my age winning an egg and spoon race is exciting”.

I look forward to reading the story, which will be available on the Sandstone Press website from 1.00pm today (Friday 22 May).

And of course I take full credit for having spotted a talented writer!

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man in the Middle – Episode 1 The Letter

See also: Man in the Middle – Chapter 36: For whom the bell tolls

Help for the cricket-deprived

Images above: Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in action

by Richard Heller

Of course there are more important things to worry about, but the virus left England bereft of cricket just when its devotees could look forward to the new season. To us, this represents not just a physical but a psychic deprivation. No cricket is almost a synonym for no hope. Our condition was made worse by the mocking fine spring weather, which would normally have drawn us in droves to our first outdoor practices and our first matches, where even those of us like me, in the twilight of cricket careers which never really had a dawn, convince themselves that they still have some magic to offer for one more season. Those who have finally retired as players have been deprived of their brief authority as umpires or scorers, or the joys of live spectatorship – companionship, shared memory (and the display of expertise), the mentoring of new generations, the aesthetic pleasures of watching a graceful ritual with moments of sudden drama.

Cricket deprivation is a very hard condition, so when my old friend Peter Oborne invited me to join him in an effort to relieve its victims I was happy to answer the call. Peter and I have shared over forty years of cricket, playing with and against each other for a variety of teams in this country and overseas, especially Pakistan where we worked together on two major books on the history and dramas of Pakistan cricket. He has almost forgiven me for a catch I misjudged on the deep midwicket boundary off his bowling, which, in a mighty effort to reclaim, I tipped over the rope for six.

Peter suggested we do some cricket-themed podcasts, to help those locked away from live cricket. He thought that together we could give them an alternative remedy to watching repeat matches or the video (delightful though it is) of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson giving slip catches to his dog. There are other cricket podcasts, but they tend to be dominated by gossip or “banter” or discussions of such cricket news as remains. We hoped listeners might enjoy something different – two friends talking about anything and everything that has made them love cricket. Our podcasts share the kinds of conversation we used to have on long railway journeys in India and Pakistan, often with the help of fellow passengers.

We have a slight bias towards Amazing Facts or Eccentric People in cricket (including the legendary J E P McMaster, who will be for ever the worst England Test cricket player). At times, we tip into complete fantasy (the tragically lost cricket scene in Gone With the Wind.) But we have also talked seriously about the literature of cricket, and cricket’s relationship with domestic and global politics. The iron discipline of our producer Bridget Osborne keeps us more or less focused, the expert engineering of James Willcocks makes us sound more or less coherent.

We have been lucky with our guests to date. Nathan Leamon gave us unique insight into the nature of top-level cricket (and an amazing fact about Ben Stokes) from his first-hand knowledge as England’s performance manager and his creative imagination as author of the superb cricket novel The Test. Tim Wigmore made us see T20 cricket in a very new light based on his book Cricket 2.0 (he even told us how to pronounce the title) which was rightly chosen as Wisden‘s book of 2019.

We have been constantly enriched by listeners’ suggestions for topics and contributors. Our literary excursion elicited dozens of other cricket novels we should have mentioned – and we’ll read them all and talk about them another time. To my amazement, one was by my idol Garry Sobers, and I really should never have missed that since he was my special subject on Mastermind.

By the time these lines are published, it might be possible to watch a live cricket match on television in an empty stadium. Those who want and need more from their English cricket season are welcome to drop in on us. We hope they will stay.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. Together they wrote ‘White On Green’, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Oborne & Heller on Cricket – Review of Wisden 2020

See also: Oborne & Heller on Cricket – with guest Tim Wigmore on the impact of T20

We all know we need more housing in London

Guest blog by Cllr Andrew Steed

Ealing, like Hounslow, is now holding ‘virtual’ planning meetings. Cllr Andrew Steed took part in his first such meeting this week to speak out against a planning application for 42 flats on land currently used as a car park  in his ward of Ealing Southfields. Here’s his guest blog on the meeting.

I was speaking as Southfield Ward Councillor against the planning application for four blocks of flats: 42 flats in total on land currently used as a car park. The car park is used by over 70 leaseholders many of who work in businesses on Canham Road or Stanley Gardens. Most of the site is used by Factory Quarter residents, which is actually situated in Hammersmith & Fulham. However the impact of the flats will be felt by those Ealing residents living on Greenend Road, Hawkeshead Road and Worcester Drive.

We all know we need more housing in London, but that does not mean all applications have to be supported uncritically, and there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed: lack of amenity space and the flats being out of character. The issue of the car park, the building of a new underground car park, and where the existing cars are accommodated whilst the build takes place make the application less than straight forward.

Finally the big issue for local residents concerned the fact that nearly all windows had a south facing aspect, so Greenend Road residents would be overlooked by ninety windows and 27 balconies. Local opposition was organised by Don Tanswell, (the Chair of the local residents association) and by Nadia Nostrati who spoke against the scheme at the Committee. However, many other residents were involved making Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and by last Tuesday 270 people had made objections on the Ealing Planning Portal.

After presentations and some debate the Planning Committee decided to grant the application. We had hoped that we might get a deferral at the very least, but no. We knew it was not going to be easy, but seemingly it is ever more difficult for residents to put over an alternative view once the local planning authority has decided to recommend an application should be granted. This is partly due to changes in legislation and I suppose the most obvious example is that a developer can appeal a decision whilst an opponent or objector can not.

Money from developers for council projects is not a sufficient excuse for sub standard developments

The option of Judicial Review is far too expensive for most individuals or even group of individuals. But the problems go deeper than that. I mentioned the lack of amenity space. The shortfall was 60%. This was resolved by the developer making a £187,000 contribution as part of the S106 settlement. Another £13,000 payment was made for Carbon Dioxide offsetting.

The S106 settlement is used to mitigate the impact of new housing on the local community. In principle they sound good, and provide much need funding that would not otherwise exist. We do not know where that money will be spent, yet, but the broader point is: should we accept that a development can be left with a lack of amenity space for families and children? Should a developer get a free pass (OK, one costing £187k) to build sub standard developments?

Another area of concern is many of the Planning ‘rules’, are not rules at all, they are guidelines and guidelines can be adjusted and are flexible. In the Greenend Road application, the issue of privacy was a key factor. Most of the houses were a suitable distance from the windows of the new flats. But a number were not on both Greenend and Hawkeshead Roads and Worcester Drive. That is unfortunate for those houses as the average measurement meant that the criteria had been met. Or take the Ealing policy for 50% affordable homes in any new development. Conveniently the London policy is 35% in a fast track application-guess which policy was agreed?

In addition residents had a problem in trying to consult with Ealing officers, especially in trying to obtain information via FOI requests. This process began last year, in December, and was never resolved. Despite interventions by residents and eventually myself with senior legal officers at the Council, information was not forthcoming.

The final insult was the issue of site visits. As Ealing never fails to point out, site visits are not a statutory requirement, but, all councillors agree that they are very useful. They also provide an opportunity for those members of the Planning Committee to learn about an application and for residents to ask questions and make their feelings known. Due to lockdown there are no formal site visits, but councillors can make private visits. This is hopefully a temporary measure. The issue was complicated with this particular application as the car park is usually locked, so access is problematic. I believe that no member of the committee actually visited the car park. No member could experience how close the new build would be to the existing homes.

I have touched on just some of the problems with the application and attempts by residents to successfully challenge it. Does this all matter? I believe it matters very much, it undermines the trust in local government, it results in ‘jokes’ about councillors taking backhanders. The system needs to be as transparent as it can possibly be.

Cllr Andrew Steed is a Lib Dem councillor for Southfields ward in the borough of Ealing

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When are the schools going back?

See also: Safer streets in Chiswick – Time for action, not words

Flower Market planned for 6 September

The Chiswick Flower Market, which initially hoped to open in May, now plans its grand launch for Sunday 6 September.

A survey shows Chiswick residents are looking forward to the market becoming part of Chiswick life. ‘Chiswick needs rejuvenation’ said one who answered the survey; ‘Chiswick and Chiswickians need cheering up’ said another.

The survey was carried out throughout the month of April, by the Community Interest Company behind the idea. Nearly 400 people gave their views on the proposed market, which is to be held on the old Market Place, now the car park outside the Police Station, on Sunday mornings once a month.

Of those who responded, 82% were ‘strongly in favour’, with a further 12% ‘somewhat in favour’, giving an overall approval rating of 94%.

Most respondents (90%) described themselves as local. Many said they hoped it would rejuvenate and revitalise the High Road, and help local traders. Many expressed concern about the current state of the High Road, with many closed shops (this anxiety pre-dated the coronavirus crisis) and felt that the market offered a cheery way to give the area a real shot in the arm.

The fact that it was a community-inspired project was much appreciated, and the idea of selling flowers was almost universally applauded.

‘Let’s change the vibe in Chiswick on a Sunday.’

Respondents were asked to comment on the concept of the market. Here are some representative comments:

‘A flower market on my doorstep is a dream!’

‘Love the idea of creating a community destination event to revitalise the High Road.’

‘Chiswick needs rejuvenation.’

‘Columbia Road has generated a raft of small businesses and shops in the local area. We really need something like this for Chiswick and will needed it even more as a result of the inevitable recession that will occur as a result of the current crisis.’

‘Chiswick and Chiswickians need cheering up.’

‘Much needed addition to the Chiswick scene and a definite community asset… Excellent use of available space.’

‘Great idea to bring more life, atmosphere and colour to the high road.’

‘This proposal has the potential to bring something beautiful and economically vibrant to our area.’

‘It will bring colour, a point of focus, joy and cheeriness to Chiswick.’

‘Let’s change the vibe in Chiswick on a Sunday.’

‘It will create these shared memories and conversations that bond the community. I can’t wait!’

‘Nothing but enthusiasm!’

‘It’s simply a really positive energy-filled idea.’

Photographs above by Mark Lawson

Free home delivery using cargo bikes

Asked how people used the High Rd and how they got there, the overwhelming majority  –  86% (324)  –  of respondents said they walked to the High Road, vastly outnumbering those who cycled (13%), drove (18%) or took public transport (19%).

In response to the surprisingly few comments about loss of parking, the Flower Market intends to offer free home delivery within two miles via cargo bike for market purchases, and the delivery team may be able to carry other shopping for a small charge.

Majority said the market would make them go to the High Rd more

Asked how often they would use the Flower Market, 73% intended to visit the market every time. Only 38% currently visit the High Road every Sunday, showing a clear indication that the market would attract more people to go to Chiswick High Rd on Sundays when the market was being held.

The intention behind the market is to revitalise the High Rd, bringing more people and generating more trade for the existing businesses.

Nine people were strongly against the market. Among the fears they expressed were that there would be stalls on the pavement, disabled parking spaces blocked and the future cycle lane reducing the area or causing danger.

The layout of the market is designed so that there will be no stalls on the pavement. They will all be contained within what is now the car park, and the disabled parking spaces will be relocated nearby.

Five people who live close by said they feared congestion on Linden Gardens.

This is an issue that requires attention and the Council should think about extending parking restrictions to Sundays, something which we understand they are already considering.

A few expressed their concern that existing flower stalls had not been consulted and worried about the effect on their business.

The Flower Market Community Interest Company would like to reassure everyone that all the existing flower traders in Chiswick have all been consulted and have said they will be fully involved in the new market. Prime spots will be reserved for them. The Flower Market CIC hopes to bring additional customers to enjoy the offerings of Chiswick’s regular flower traders, who are an integral and much-appreciated part of the High Road offering.

Photographs above by Mark Lawson

Locally grown flowers

Several respondents worried about sustainability.

The Flower Market CIC is placing a strong emphasis on sustainability. Priority will be given to plastic-free, peat free, grow your own and locally grown products.

Local organisations such as the Chiswick Horticultural and Allotment Society and Chiswick House & Gardens are fully involved in the project, and have been offered stalls. Customers will hopefully be able to buy flowers and seedlings grown within yards of the High Road, as well as exciting and interesting plants from further afield.

Several respondents asked whether food could also be sold.

The team organising the market has decided to focus on flowers, plants and all things horticultural, not least because we are aiming to complement what other traders are already offering on the High Rd, and bring business to them rather than competing with them.

The Flower Market public meeting earlier in the year sparked an array of ideas – street food, a vintage clothing market and art sales, for example, which are being considered by other groups.

Easy like a Sunday morning

There were some queries about clashes with other events or whether Saturday would be preferable. These are issues which the Flower Market CIC have considered.

The survey asked what times the market should be open. 86% wanted either 9.00 or 10.00am. The team’s current thinking is to start at 9:30am, remaining open until 2.00 or 3.00pm.

Overall the survey revealed an astonishingly high level of support for the Flower Market. The team was much encouraged and is currently making use of the lockdown period honing the list of traders who might take part, poring over the licensing documents and building up the Flower market’s social media profile.

Follow us on twitter @ChiswickFlowerMarket or Instagram @chiswickflowermkt, and sign up for our mailing list at

The full results can be seen on the website at

The Chiswick Calendar is one of the group developing the Flower Market. Editor Bridget Osborne is one of the Flower Market CIC directors.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick House needs £1,000 a day

See also: When are the schools going back?