Chiswick Conservative councillors elect new leader

Images above: Cllr Joanna Biddolph; Cllr Gerald McGregor

Cllr Gerald McGregor elected leader

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have elected Cllr Gerald McGregor as their leader, replacing Cllr Joanna Biddolph as the leader of the Conservative group on Hounslow Council.

The Chiswick Calendar learned of the unexpected decision after the election was held at the group’s Annual General Meeting on the evening of Wednesday 29 July.

Cllr Biddolph has made some unpopular decisions in the past few months, first cancelling the planting of cherry trees on Turnham Green (dubbed ‘Cherrygate‘) by calling in the decision made by council officers who were then forced to cancel the planting with less than 24 hours’ notice, and then by encouraging people to go out shopping and declaring Chiswick ‘open for business‘ just as the Government was urging everyone to stay home at the beginning of the lockdown, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

She has recently championed the cause of traders in Devonshire Rd who are unhappy with the traffic restrictions introduced by the council. One of them told The Chiswick Calendar “she works hard and is on our side”, but she has alienated many Chiswick residents by engaging in bitter exchanges with cyclists on social media over the introduction of Cycleway 9. She also set up a High Rd Task Force in July 2018, to look at ways to improve the economy of Chiswick High Rd, but took two years to published their first report, in July 2020.

The Chiswick Calendar understands that within the local party her leadership style had been considered at times to be dictatorial and she has been outspoken but not necessarily represented the views of other councillors in the group. The election of the leader is carried out only by elected councillors.

Cllr Biddolph was elected councillor for Turnham Green ward for the first time in the last local elections in May 2018 and became leader of the group at their Annual General Meeting in May 2019. Her election then was something of a coup, taking the incumbent leader Cllr Sam Hearn by surprise. He had been expecting to continue as leader until the next elections.

The Conservative group were due to have their AGM in April. LB Hounslow was also due to reconfirm its Cabinet members, but both votes were put off because of the pandemic. It was widely expected that the election would be postponed until next year, but the Conservative local party constitution allowed the group to hold its AGM separate from Council business.

Gerald McGregor, who represents Chiswick Homefields ward, has been a Chiswick councillor since 2004. A chartered accountant by profession, he has specialised in Budget and Finance matters and is the author of many a colourful quote. In September 2019 he dubbed LB Hounslow ‘Venezuela-on-Thames’, writing:

‘More bad news on the financial record of the current tired bunch of has-beens and never got theres who make up the Labour administration in their new £65m headquarters in Hounslow is provoking real concern. Budget targets missed, and only the few positive budget messages being highlighted in the current reporting with deficits at the end of the last financial year carried forward despite promises in 2017 and 2018 and 2019 to get things sorted’.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Life is just a bowl of cherries – not

See also: New leader of the Conservative group – May 2019


Chiswick Flower Market opening Sunday 6 September

Chiswick School Duke of Edinburgh success

Bread Ahead opens in Chiswick High Rd

Independent bread shop Bread Ahead has opened on Chiswick High Rd. The bread shop, owned by baker Matthew Jones, is at  316 Chiswick High Rd, where Clifton News used to be.

Matthew has built a strong reputation as a traditional baker, opening up in Borough Market in 1998 and building up a wholesale bakery, with two retail outlets in Sloane Square and in Beak St, Soho. He also teaches bread making courses.

He told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We’ve had to make some radical adjustments. We were supplying lots of cafes and hotels in central London but the wholesale business has stopped, the teaching has stopped, though our courses have gone online and we’re doing a lot of online deliveries”.

He, like other businesses which have supplied central London, have turned to the outskirts of London for their salvation and central London’s loss is our gain. Bread Ahead makes traditional bread, “simple” bread, he says, made with British flour ground in Chelmsford.

Matthew, who left school at 15 to become a chef, and cooked for Michelin starred restaurants before starting out on his own, says for him “it’s all about the flavour”.

Images above: Matthew Jones, owner of Bread Ahead

Chiswick a “good food” area

He chose Chiswick, he says, because he’s “always known Chiswick as a good food area” and at the moment the Chancellor’s holiday on business rates combined with the competitive market in rents makes opening a shop on a short lease an attractive proposition. He is “testing the water” with a three month lease. “There are some very keen landlords at the moment” he says. He has opened the shop just ten days after signing the lease.

Passing on the savings

Matthew says he has been able to pass on the savings by putting his prices down. A coffee is £2.50 and croissants £1.50.

“We’ve had amazing support” he says. “People have come in the first day and come back every day”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Green shoots appearing in the High Rd

See also: Face masks mandatory in shops from 24 July

Man in the Middle – Chapter 46: Walking boots and sweaty socks

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.46: Walking boots and sweaty socks

I take off my walking boots and sweaty socks in the porch of the cottage and hobble bare foot to the kitchen mantel piece, where my mobile phone is charging, below a map of the Brecon Beacons.

The family and I have been out walking along the River Usk for over four hours and we deliberately left our phones behind to see if we have the willpower to detach ourselves from the mobile phone network, if only for a few hours.

‘Why bother?’ asked my son, when my wife first proposed a dose of phoneless rambling.

‘It’s a chance for you to understand what life was like living in the 1980s before the internet,’ replied my wife. ‘And it’s good to get away from social media.’

‘You’re not going to try to make us talk to each other, are you?’ asked my son.

‘No. It’s just a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery without being annoyed by the latest idiocies of Kayne West or Donald Trump,’ said my wife.

‘I’ll come, but only if Dad promises not to tell the story of his geography field trip again. The one where he got stuck on the mountainside with the other obese boy and had to be rescued by helicopter,’ said my daughter, condemning one of my favourite school stories to the archives forever.

As it turns out, I am the only one who has suffered from being unplugged from the phone grid because I haven’t kept up with the second Test Match. The game was turning into a chiller thriller when we left the cottage. I am desperate to know what cricket magic has been performed since without me, which is why I’m hobbling as fast as I can towards my phone, even though my calves are as taut as violin strings after the walk and could snap any moment.

I pick up my phone and see I have five voicemails: three from Mother’s doctor and two from my brother, who is house sitting my mother while we are away. Each of the messages has been delivered in the last three hours. They say: Please call when you get this. Why would my Mother’s doctor call me three times the same afternoon? She’s not asking me to a barn dance, that’s for sure.

Immediately, my anxiety to know the cricket score is replaced by another anxiety: to know what has happened to Mother. I call the doctor. Engaged. I call my brother. Engaged. I call Mother’s landline but her phone just rings and rings, which could mean nothing because her hearing is so poor, but it could also mean so much.

I wait a few moments before calling again in order to run through the potential scenarios. She’s fallen down the stairs. She’s burnt herself filling up a hot water bottle.

She’s dead.

The thought she may have died is irrepressible. It’s a neurosis everyone with a parent her age has to learn to live with. People say they remember where they were when JFK died. I think everyone has a similar JFK moment with their own parents, remembering forever where they were the moment comes. Is this my JFK moment?

My phone rings. It’s my brother.

‘All right, pal?’ he booms down the phone.

‘What’s happening?’

‘Nothing much,’ he shouts.

‘Why has the doctor called me three times then?’ I ask my nervousness rising.

‘Oh, that. Her ankles have swollen up. Thick as an elephant’s trunk, actually. Nothing to worry about, though. I booked her an appointment with the doc. They’re just confirming it.’

Elephant ankles seems sounds pretty good compared to what I was imagining a few moments ago. I relax. Anything else I should know, I ask.

‘Yeah. All she’s eaten all week is boiled eggs and cake. And chocolate biscuits. Is that normal?’

‘It’s not unusual, if you get my drift.’ I can’t ask for better evidence that Mother is still very much alive and kicking than her insatiable appetite for cakes and biscuits.

My daughter’s boyfriend appears in the kitchen and mouths: ‘we won the test’. I look at my watch. It’s coming up seven o’clock – time for test match highlights.

‘I’ve got to go, now,’ I say rudely closing my brother down. ‘Test Match highlights on any moment now. Let me know how it goes with the doctor.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 47: The salt cellar

Read the previous one – Chapter 45: Mother and Jean Paul Sartre

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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

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Chiswick Unbound – Tribute to Peter Green

Mind Matters – How are you doing with the new face covering rules?

Psychotherapist Nicholas Rose asks: Is a mask ever just a mask? How are you doing with the new face covering rules?

Making it mandatory to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs on Friday was a communication to us all, but how it affects us individually is uniquely personal. In this article I will write about this as a change “event”, and ponder the experience of having to wear a face covering and the issues that come with other people wearing (or not wearing) one.

To help with my thinking I wanted to seek out someone else’s experience and Stephen at Foster Books in Chiswick kindly agreed to speak to me about this on Saturday. I asked him about how he and his team were finding the new mask wearing rules. Even though we agreed to have a quick chat it soon became clear that this was actually a really big and complex topic. But I noticed that as we talked it had the power to make a connection between us rather than divide us.

Stephen told me that overall most people were coming into the shop with face coverings and that when people were not wearing them it could be because of the exemptions. For Stephen, when thinking of the change as a business owner, he said:

“I think that the uncertainty around face coverings has been unhelpful and so I hope that people will now feel more confident about going back into shops”.

I came away from our conversation with a sense that the new rules were changing people’s behaviour and that is what I could write about.

So I’m wondering about how you experienced yourself in the moment you learnt about this latest development? What feelings came up for you, what were your initial thoughts and did you have any physical experience? It is likely that your initial reaction will depend upon just how much you have been affected so far by the pandemic and/or what this will mean to you as it comes into effect. If you did not register any response to the news then that in itself is interesting, given it seems to mean so much to others? If you did notice a response then it might be useful to spend a bit of time to reflect on that? I would suggest that whether you had a positive, negative or no response then it can contain important information.

A powerful response shows that we have a significant investment in the event and one of the first things that occurs to me with this is around self-care. How are you in yourself? Any changes in how you are feeling generally, changes in life balance, feedback from others? You may have been directly and terribly affected by the pandemic in which case I hope you are looking after yourself and getting support where you need it.

Even if you don’t think you have been too affected it’s worth thinking about just how much time, change, thinking, extra work, interruption has been connected to the pandemic for you and then notice how you feel in answering this question. In this context I think about how we can often know ourselves better through our relationships with others but at the current time if you are exhausted like everyone else is exhausted, it is important to remember that doesn’t make it alright?

The next important moment is likely to be when you first need to go shopping. Maybe you have already been wearing face coverings, or wearing surgical masks instead, made your own or purchased one.

Maybe you are exempt from wearing a face covering or not entirely sure if you are, maybe you have been in the shielding category and so this will be the first experience of going out at all or maybe you have been out every day anyway and already had experience of wearing face coverings for travel of work?

Maybe you feel confident and certain about the new rules or maybe you are unclear about them? I suggest that the size of the change for you is the most important thing to look out for. Knowing that this is significant for you, in other words bringing its importance to you into your awareness, is the best possible way to ensure you are both prepared and you manage stress.

During my infrequent visits to Chiswick High Road I’ve thought about how it’s almost as though nothing has changed and that there are moments when maybe it is possible to forget about what is happening; face coverings and masks have been few and far between. The experience of seeing someone in a face covering and a mask firstly shaking me from those moments of “escape” whilst also leading me to pay extra attention to the presence of the people with the coverings and masks both with a jolt whereby the pandemic comes back into my awareness and then questions about the wearers enter my thoughts. Not being able to see their faces feels alien and there’s a sense of disconnect and the possibility for connotations around being hidden or hiding so do you make eye contact or not and even if you do how can you know whether or interaction is friendly, the previously apparently simple, now rendered awkward?

The prominence of masks and coverings will now be significant and our attention is likely to be drawn more to people without, than those with. The change is likely to bring heightened senses that serves initially to reduce those moments of “escape” and involve us changing focus on face coverings and masks, the alien nature of this new experience likely to again trigger defences, revealed by thoughts containing questions about why someone isn’t wearing a mask? Are they exempt, are they a protester, do they not care about others, do they know something valuable, maybe you find yourself paying closer attention to their body language and their face to see if they are relaxed and friendly? And then as there will be the increased number of people in masks, will eye contact be more likely or less? Will we sense civility and even find ways to embody a smile when the mouth cannot show one? Or will we become more insular and avoid attempts at eye contact?

Whatever your experience, face coverings are another significant change for everyone and I return to the suggestion that reflecting on it can be really valuable. Please stay safe and well.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach
UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next in the series – Mind Matters: Back to school with a difference

Read the previous one – Mind Matters: Coming out of Lockdown

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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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.

Face masks mandatory in shops from 24 July

Hounslow to “get tough” on motorists

Image above: squashed planter on Turnham Green Terrace

Keith Richards wrote last week about the ‘mess’ that is Turnham Green Terrace, where confusion reigns over unclear signage, tin planters and ugly plastic bollards scattered about.

Supposedly they demarcate the areas where pedestrians can walk in a safely socially distanced fashion and where drivers can no longer park, but the trouble is, drivers have just been moving them out the way, leaving them all over the road and in this case, squashed.

I wondered if the ruined planter was an expression of contempt for the council’s plans, but apparently not, just a lorry driver who didn’t see it because it was too low down.

Hounslow Council is becoming irritated with the lack of compliance by Chiswickians and councillors are getting frustrated with the lack of enforcement.

“I’m quite surprised a the way people are behaving by moving the small planters” Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport, told The Chiswick Calendar.

“If people keep moving them, we’ll have to put in something else. We will have to come down much, much harder. It’s alarming that people have moved the plant blocks to park”.

He is planning to introduce fines – penalty charge notices policed by mobile cameras mounted on top of enforcement cars.

“People will know when it’s in force because they will get a ticket” he said.

Better signs needed

He admits the signage could be improved and promises that existing signs will be replaced by something more obvious and clear in its instruction. At the moment the sign is a red circle around a picture of a car and a motorbike with the wording ‘Except for (disabled icon) and for access’.

It doesn’t explain what ‘access’ (stopping for 20 minutes to load and unload) might entail and many motorists don’t realise Turnham Green Terrace is no longer supposed to be a through route.

“We’re working round the clock to implement 40 measures” he told us (throughout the borough of Hounslow).

“Our aspirations for the borough is to implement what Grant Shapps has been asking us to do. I think it’s a really good way forward”.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Unbound – What’s Going On?

See also: LB Hounslow plans to suspend parking on Turnham Green Terrace

Green shoots appearing in the High Rd

Image above: Bread Ahead, opened in Chiswick High Rd 24 July 2020

Have you noticed how new businesses are popping up on the High Rd?

“We’re really busy” says commercial agent Jojo Finn at MJ Finn Commercial. “Everyone’s come back to shopping in Chiswick, which is fantastic to see.”

The lockdown has driven people back to their local shops, both out of practicality and from a heightened sense of community.

Businesses which have been successful in central London are picking up on this and taking advantage of the holiday in business rates and the competitive rent market to move out of the centre and test the consumer market further out.

Some of the gaps in the High Rd are being filled, the empty shop fronts and To Let signs being replaced by trendy new retails outlets: Fortitude Bakehouse on Turnham Green Terrace and Beleaf, which have both opened in the past couple of weeks and joined The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, and now Bread Ahead which has just opened on the High Rd. The shop between Beleaf and Gail’s has also been rented and is about to open soon on a short term let.

Images above: Fortitude Bakehouse in Turnham Green Terrace; Beleaf, opened July 2020 in Chiswick High Rd

Chancellor’s radical plans for high streets

What’s noticeable also is how temporary are these arrangements. All three new shops look very professional, as if they’re here to stay, but all are pop-up shops. Their owners have signed short term leases to try us out for a few months before committing to settling here.

Amongst other things, they’re waiting to see what the Chancellor will do.

Rishi Sunak announced a “fundamental” review of the business rates system in February.  In May the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that they were putting off the resetting of the property-based tax for another year. Due to take place next year in England, it will instead be put back to 2022.

Now the Treasury has said it’s considering radical plans to abolish business rates and replace them with a “Capital Values Tax” based on the value of land and the buildings on it. They’re also looking at overhauling Capital Gains Tax.

It’s also been widely reported that the Chancellor is looking at the introduction of a new tax on goods sold online, to level the playing field for those bricks and mortar businesses which have always complained online businesses get away scot-free.

We spoke to some west London business experts, among them Lin Leung, co-owner of homeware store Decorexi, Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive of West London Business, commercial Chartered Surveyor Jeremy Day and Dave Wetzel, former leader of Hounslow Council, close colleague of Ken Livingstone at the GLC and former President of the Labour Land Campaign.

Andrew Dakers – Chief Executive of West London Business

As Chief Executive of West London Business, Andrew deals with a large variety of different businesses. He described the idea of introducing a land value tax as ‘stunning’ but was unclear quite what the fallout would be for high streets.

“My gut feel is that the introduction of land value tax would be such a radical shift, the dice could land anywhere”.

West London Business doesn’t have a position on this as yet, the idea is too new, but his own personal view is:

“It’s an interesting direction of travel. It could be more equitable if broadly the land which carried more value bore the greater share of the burden”.

“In an economy as dynamic as this is, with constant changes and rapid shifts in value surrounding a particular site, there is a high level of unpredictability”, he said, “so if the Government is gong to design something new, they need to make it more responsive than the existing system”.

Dave Wetzel – Land Value Tax campaigner

There was a time when Dave Wetzel was always in the news, both as a former leader of Hounslow Council and as a close colleague of Ken Livingstone at the GLC. He has an impeccable Labour background: after working as bus conductor and official in the 1960s, he became political organiser of the London Co-operative Society between 1974 and 1981. He was elected as Labour member for Hammersmith and Fulham on the Greater London Council in 1981 and served as the Chair of the Transport Committee until 1986. He served on Hounslow Borough Council between 1964-1968 and 1986-1994, serving as the leader of the Council between 1987 and 1991. He was also Vice Chair of Transport for London between 2000 and 2008, and Chair of London Buses from 2000-2001.

All his life he has campaigned for a land value tax. He told The Chiswick Calendar he remembered making a speech at the age of 14 supporting it and he has supported it ever since, becoming President of the Labour Land Campaign in 1982.

“This is good news” he said. “It is good for businesses because the landowner will pay, not the tenant”.

When I suggested landlords would just pass the tax on to the tenant through rent, he disagreed:

“It will make rents cheaper and more competitive”.

“It’s important that you call it a land value tax” he told me, “not just a land tax. Sinn Fein wanted a land tax and it would have been wrong because if you go by just the area, you’re charging the same for land which is expensive as you are for land which has marginal value.

“What makes land valuable is the services which support it: the police, fire brigade, schools, transport infrastructure which surrounds it, which is paid for by the public”.

Business rates are paid only on the buildings, and in factories on the value also of the equipment inside.

“It will put the Tories in power for 30 years”

Dave Wetzel has campaigned all his life for the introduction of a land value tax and thinks if the Conservatives “do this properly” it will be a hugely popular move.

“It will be good for the country and the economy. It will be brilliant, whoever brings it in” he told The Chiswick Calendar.

“If they make it high enough, the Tories will be rewarded. They’ll be re-elected for the next 30 years”.

Dave Wetzel was a member of the Labour Party for many years but he left the party in 2014 and has subsequently joined the Green Party.

Uncertainty over business rates

The commercial property firm Shaftesbury published a statement on Friday 24 July saying:

‘The Government’s decision to delay the urgently needed review of business rates is a frustrating blow to the recovery of retail and hospitality businesses across the West End. The decision to delay may further threaten the survival of some businesses as they try to recover, and leave many more struggling for the next three years on pre-pandemic business rates, set in a very different economic environment… this delay by the Government on business rates will only serve to put more jobs and livelihoods in our shops, bars and restaurants at risk’.

Jeremy Day – Director of Whitman Commercial

As someone who has to try and convince potential tenants that they’d like to rent commercial properties in Chiswick, Jeremy Day’s main concern is the lack of certainty.

“How how are we meant to negotiate rents when we have no idea what the rate liability will be?”

“We are in the hands of a government who may or may not be doing a long term review of business rates. Businesses need to know what will happen next April, when the business rates holiday runs out”.

The FT, quoting leading consultancy Gerald Eve, reports that the deferment of the review of business rates would mean hard-hit industries face another year of high bills.

Online tax – Lin Leung, Co-owner of Decorexi

Decorexi at 58 Chiswick High Rd is a treasure trove of interesting homeware. In business since 2003, Lin Leung and Tricia Joyce have a bricks and mortar shop and they also sell online.

A tax of online businesses is “long overdue” says Lin. The introduction of a tax on online retailers, who currently pay no business tax “would definitely boost the High Rd” she says.

Lin and Tricia have had an online business for 15 years. They started it at a time when there were far fewer websites and people didn’t have the confidence in online shopping they do now. They sell about 20% to people online, with no contact, Lin tells me. Most people look at their website and then speak to them on the phone or come into the shop and meet them personally.

“People have woken up”

“This lockdown has been brilliant in terms of shifting people’s consciousness” she says. “They’ve realised that if they didn’t wake up and support their local shops now, they wouldn’t be there at the end of it. We’ve had fantastic support from the local community, who have chosen to shop with us rather than online”.

“The problem is that bricks and mortar businesses have been constantly undercut by people who set up a website, which costs very little, and operate from home, with no overheads and no business rates”.

People would come and look at their products at shows such as the Ideal Home Show or Grand Designs and then see where they could buy the same online, cheaper.

“Around 2010 there was a huge influx of online providers. The homeware industry became devalued and the margins were squeezed so much they couldn’t compete.

“E-commerce companies should be paying some sort of business rates equivalent”.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fortitude Bakehouse opens in Chiswick

See also: New shop opens in Chiswick selling products containing cannabis extract


Episode 17: Talking with Lord Jeffrey Archer

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.

An ebullient Jeffrey Archer shares his lifelong passion for cricket as the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on their regular cricket-themed podcast.

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He describes his earliest memories of watching his beloved English county Somerset at the Clarence Park ground in Weston-super-Mare (sadly no longer used for first-class matches). As a boy, he demonstrated entrepreneurial flair selling scorecards and especially teas: this inspired resistance from trade unions and helped to shape his political outlook as an opponent of the British Labour party.

He gives vivid portraits of a host of cricketers he has befriended on and off the field, including:
-Derek Underwood (he took revenge on him through a charity auction for two consecutive dismissals in a match)
-Viv Richards (he sacrificed his wicket for him in a match at Taunton)
-Clive Lloyd (brilliantly catching his other friend Sunil Gavaskar in delayed amends for dropping him during the latter’s first great series in the West Indies). He also praises Clive Lloyd’s dedication to the cause of young people in Britain and the West Indies

He assesses Ian Botham, “a friend for over 50 years… the bravest swashbuckler I’ve ever encountered. Had he been born 20 years earlier, he would have won the VC in the war”. Having earned the CBE on retirement as a cricketer and a knighthood for his dedicated charity work, Botham now has a peerage for political reasons, but he will have a chance now to follow another friend and cricketing peer, Colin Cowdrey, as a frequent contributor to the House of Lords on sport and young people. (It leads him to a splendid story about Colin Cowdrey and Len Hutton.)

Jeffrey Archer highlights his strong relationship with India (23 visits) and his friendships with cricketers including Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman (“their long partnership at Kolkata was the greatest day in Test history”) – friendships which began when they became readers of his during their long stays overseas. He would be glad to make a first visit to Pakistan and to do what he can to promote the restoration of bilateral cricket links between it and India.

He explains why he has never put cricket into his novels (“200 million of my 300 million readers do not understand it”) but looks forward eagerly to the cricket match in the televised version of his friend Vikram Seth’s great novel A Suitable Boy, which has just opened on BBC.

Turning to art, he reveals his expert knowledge of how to pack a Caravaggio. Sadly, it is not one of his own, but he reveals his latest acquisition for his lavatory and how to get to it (“turn right at the Picasso.”)

Cricket plays an important part in his three diaries of prison life. He describes encounters with murderers and serious villains who behaved very ethically on the cricket field.

At last he gives his account of the terrible events following his run-out for the House of Lords against the House of Commons – when he had to placate a crowd of 60,000 at the Oval, baying their disappointment at being deprived of the chance to see him score a fifty.

Finally, he reveals his programme if offered the post of Prime Minister in a government of national salvation (he is still available for this, and as captain of England’s cricket team). No one would be allowed to build anything on land used for cricket or any other sport. Above all, “every child will get a chance to have a chance” to fulfil their dreams and become the best they can be.

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 18: Talking with Sports Writer and Radio Broadcaster Pat Murphy

Previous Episode – Episode 16: Talking with Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani

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

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Mayor’s plans to move City Hall criticised

Black Lives Matter protest on Ealing Common 26 July

EFL Statement: Outcome of Extraordinary General Meeting

At an Extraordinary General Meeting held earlier today, Tuesday 9 June, EFL clubs voted on proposals in respect of changes to EFL Regulations in the event season 2019/20 is curtailed. Proposals were submitted by Barnsley and Tranmere Rovers alongside amendments to an EFL Board proposal which were put forward by Lincoln City, Stevenage and Ipswich Town.

Following a vote on each by all 71 Clubs, it was overwhelmingly agreed (by a majority of all Clubs and a majority in the Championship) to adopt the EFL Board’s proposal into EFL Regulations, which now means the following applies in the event a division curtails its 2019/20 season or it is ended by any other means:

  1. Final divisional placings will be determined on unweighted points per game (if required).
  2. Promotion and relegation should be retained.
  3. Play-Offs will be played in all circumstances but will not be extended (beyond four teams).

Clubs in Leagues One and Two will now meet by division later today to formally determine whether to resume playing the 2019/20 season or opt for curtailment. The Championship  clubs restart their season on 20 June.

Rick Parry, EFL Chair, said: “Whilst it has always remained the Board’s position to play the remainder of the season where possible. The decision reached at today’s meeting follows a full and considered consultation period with our member clubs. The Board has endeavoured to listen to all views and alternative approaches but understands that the decisions taken will not be met with universal satisfaction from all clubs.

“Today’s outcome ensures that the League and its clubs remains as faithful as possible to the previously agreed Regulations and that there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions if required. It is clear that the challenges facing the League from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic are unprecedented and I thank the contribution of EFL clubs in making this important determination.”

Joy of Moving Home School festival success

The Joy of Moving Home School festival reached over 1,300 schools and engaged with thousands of families across England and Wales. Recognising that children would miss out on their school sports day this year, the Joy of Moving Home School Festival aimed to fill that void and give children and families great activities to do at home. Thousands took part late last month in the festival.

The Home School Festival is part of the Joy of Moving programme which is an unbranded CSR project by Ferrero designed to help children develop valuable life skills and get moving. Over the last six years, it has been developed and delivered in the UK in partnership with the English Football League Trust, through a combination of unbranded play-based games and classroom learning. Following the launch of the new online Resource Hub, the network of 73 club community organisations delivered the Joy of Moving Home School Festival, using the power of football to engage with children, families and schools.

The digital festival was born in lockdown, repurposing the traditional delivery of the Joy of Moving programme during which community club organisations, such as Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, deliver a festival in schools engaging all ages in games and activities throughout a single day. The current circumstances meant this was not possible and so the Joy of Moving Home School Festival was created so that families and children could have an afternoon of games and activities to get them moving and have fun in the safety of their homes.

Mike Evans, Chief Executive at EFL Trust, said: “The response to the Home School Festivals have been incredible. The EFL Trust team and our partners at Ferrero were determined to offer an alternative sports day and range of activities. The campaign engaged over 250,000 children across over 1,300 schools and also reached over 8 million people through social media.

“Home-schooling is a huge challenge for families across the country. The Joy of Moving Home School Festival was there to offer respite and fun for families in the safety of their own homes. I want to thank all the families for getting involved in the festival, and we encourage them to keep playing these games and activities.”

Charlie Cayton, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Ferrero UK, added: “Playing is an important element in children’s growth and development – and we know that children are more like to be active if they are enjoying themselves. Following the nation’s lockdown, we wanted to support parents at home to help them get children moving through play and having fun. Our Joy of Moving Festivals brings a smile to over 20,000 children in schools every year and we wanted to support families remotely by delivering this fun day of activity at home through our resource hub and partners at the English Football League Trust.“

Take a look at the festival hashtag #JOMHomeFestival to see what happened. The Joy of Moving programme, a Ferrero CSR project, has been supporting Year Five children across EFL Communities in the UK for the past six years. The Joy of Moving programme has consisted of two elements; the Move and Learn programme and Joy of Moving Festivals. More than 310,000 children have been introduced to moving and learning new skills, all while having fun and playing. To get involved with the Joy of Moving Games visit

Join “Road to Wembley” project and get active

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has launched a new project as part of their #BeeWell programme. The Road to Wembley project is a six-week exercise challenge, starting at Griffin Park and ending at Wembley Stadium. Fans can keep fit and tick off the miles as they make their way between the two historic stadiums.

Each week you will be expected to walk/jog/run a certain number of miles in your local area, which will be the equivalent to travelling between a select number of football stadiums in and around London. The Trust have a virtual leader board each week and a virtual badge for each weekly winner. The overall winner of the project will win a signed Brentford shirt with their family name printed on the back!

In partnership with the Premier League’s Primary Stars initiative, this project aims to get whole families active while many of us still remain at home. It is part of the #BeeWell initiative, which was launched last month.To sign up, click here.

For more information about the initiative, please email

“Sport means he is learning without him realising it”

With countless “lockdown experiences” emerging across the country, nine-year-old Bodhi has a bucket list of things to do in a jar when all restrictions are lifted.

His mum Caren explained that the lockdown has not been without challenges. She said: “Although we home educate, and have lots of resources, we still found it a bit difficult to establish a routine and ensure a balance between education and fun. It is also difficult for us parents to constantly look after the house and kids – I honestly don’t sit down!”

Bodhi, who has with global developmental delay and autism, has been managing the lockdown by taking part in Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s online Short Breaks activities for children with disabilities. Under normal circumstances, these sessions are delivered on a weekly basis in Osterley and during the school holidays.

Yet the government lockdown has meant that Chris Tribe, Disabilities Manager at our Trust, has had to be creative in how he delivers physical activity for children while at home.

Chris said: “We’ve had to find new and innovative ways to engage with our participants and encourage them to stay active at home. Since the lockdown began, we have been creating and sending out weekly sports challenge videos for families to try at home, which have proved to be really popular. The next phase of the project will focus on delivering weekly online activity sessions for small groups, which will provide opportunities for the children to continue to stay active and also to socialise with other families from the project, who they may not have seen or spoken to for several weeks.”

And Caren has pointed out that physical activity for Bodhi is now needed more than ever. She said: “Bodhi has not had occupational therapy for over a year and this is not the first time we have had such big break sadly. Doing sport activities, which incorporate both gross and fine motor skills, is hugely beneficial. Because of his age, he now wants to do ‘regular’ activities, so sports can mean he is learning without him realising it!”

The Short Breaks project, commissioned by Hounslow Council, supports children with a disability with their confidence and development through a range of free sporting activities. Over the past year, the project has engaged with more than 150 children in Hounslow. For more information, email

Round-up of Community Sports Trust activities

Launch of #BeeatHome video

The Trust launched their #BeeatHome video – highlighting the impact in our local communities over the past two months. You can watch the video here.

ITV London News and BBC Radio London highlight the impact of Trust activity packs

ITV London News covered the impact of the activity packs at Brentford Towers estate and one lucky participant received a Zoom call from Brentford player Ollie Watkins. You can watch the coverage here. Luke Skelhorn, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust Operations Director, was also interviewed on BBC Radio London about the initiative, you can listen to the interview here.

The Trust launch a new #BeeWell campaign with Brentford FC’s stadium builders EcoWorld

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust have launched its #BeeWell campaign, which aims to support children and adults with their physical and mental wellbeing. With a recent survey highlighting how young people’s mental health has worsened since the Covid-19 crisis, the campaign aims to offer an array of online activities to support adults and young people during the crisis. The campaign is being supported by EcoWorld London, the Principal Partner of Brentford FC.

Read more here.

Brentford players offer much-needed respite to young people during the lockdown

Whether it was Ollie Watkins chatting to Brentford fan Callum about his activity pack, or Ethan Pinnock offering his pearls of wisdom to budding young footballers on our post-16 education programme, our Brentford players have helped enhance our online activities.

Read more here about what they have been up to. You can also watch the videos here.

Hundreds of school pupils took part in the virtual Joy of Moving festival

School pupils across west London took part in the virtual Joy of Moving festival with the English Football League Trust. The Home School Festival involved 72 other EFL Trust community organisations offered children and families an afternoon of movement and fun with different games and activities to choose from. Read more here.

Provisional Restart date agreed for Sky Bet Championship

Following Saturday’s announcement by the Government to allow elite sporting events to return behind closed doors, the EFL has this weekend agreed to a provisional restart date of the weekend of 20 June 2020 for matches in the Sky Bet Championship. The date is subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and Government guidance is met; and that Clubs receive clearance from their local authorities in order to stage matches at their home grounds.

After discussing various approaches, and, the importance of completing the season in a similar timeline to that of the Premier League to avoid any potential issues with promoted and relegated Clubs, the Sky Bet Championship season is set to conclude with the Championship Play-Off Final on or around 30 July 2020. Final details are still to be confirmed following further discussions with the League’s Broadcast partner, Sky Sports.

During the weekend’s discussions it was further agreed to consider changing Regulations to permit the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and, also increasing the matchday squad from 18 to 20 players. Discussions will continue with Championship Clubs in this respect.

The fixture schedule, broadcast selections and details on iFollow/streaming services will follow in due course.

EFL Chair Rick Parry said: “With Sky Bet Championship Clubs set to return to full contact training later this week and following Saturday’s Government announcement, we are edging closer towards resuming the 2019/20 EFL season. We have therefore today consulted with the Board’s Championship Directors and agreed to fixtures restarting behind closed doors on 20 June.

“Whilst matches will unfortunately have to take place without supporters, we are working with our broadcast partners, EFL Championship Clubs and all relevant stakeholders to broadcast the remaining 108 games plus Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs either live on Sky Sports, iFollow or a Club’s equivalent streaming service.

“We must stress that at this stage the date is only provisional and will only be confirmed once we have met all the requirements, as the health, safety and well-being of all participants, staff and supporters remains our top priority.

“Clearly completing the season in a safe manner is going to require a significant effort by all concerned and, whilst not unprecedented, it will need Clubs to play a significant number of matches over a relatively short period of time.”

Ollie catches up with Callum on #BeeatHome packs

Ollie Watkins spoke to one of his biggest fans earlier this month about a special community project. Brentford FC Community Sports Trust launched a new community initiative in early May which saw dozens of children receive free activity packs to keep them active and healthy within their homes. The initiative, developed in partnership with Hounslow Council, saw 600 activity packs delivered across eight housing estates in Hounslow.

With the Trust’s involvement in the borough spanning more than three decades, the activity packs were created to replace the free sports and youth activity sessions it usually runs every week in partnership with Hounslow Council. Prior to the government lockdown, the Trust was delivering weekly sports sessions to more than 500 children and young people across seven estates in Hounslow. With many local families struggling with the impact of the lockdown, the activity packs, which include a foam football and physical activity resources, were designed to provide much-needed respite to children across the borough.

Brentford striker Ollie Watkins is also lending a hand. Ollie has worked with the Trust at Brentford Towers in the past and recorded a message to encourage families to make the most of the pack drop. Ollie also spoke to ITV News as part of the promotion of the initiative and had a chat with Callum, a massive fans of The Bees and the striker, who received a pack.

The video can also be seen on the Trust’s YouTube channel.

Brentford players offer support for young people in community

“Who is your favourite Disney princess?” is not the typical question a professional footballer gets asked. Yet 11-year-old Hadija asked just that to Brentford’s goalkeeper Luke Daniels a couple of weeks ago. Luke, a 32-year-old goalkeeper with hundreds of league games and England youth international caps to his name, was taking part in Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s Short Breaks project.

Short Breaks, which supports children with special educational needs, has gone online while the government has imposed restrictions on movement. Luke was lending a hand at a session while he could not train with the rest of his team mates. Along with questions regarding Disney princesses, he was quizzed on his favourite cereal and book before turning quizmaster himself.

Ghausia Amin, Deputy Education Manager of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “Hadia was animated in the session with Luke, giving her the opportunity to develop her social and communication skills, speaking and engaging confidently. She is particularly missing school and her friends; therefore, with Luke joining in the session there was an opportunity for a new and fun experience – while in lockdown.”

Yet Luke isn’t the only Brentford player who has supported children and young people during this difficult period. Ethan Pinnock offered pearls of wisdom to budding young footballers on the Trust’s post-16 football education programme through an online Q and A and Ollie Watkins spoke to ardent Brentford fan Callum about the benefits of activity packs delivered in to estates by the Trust. Josh Dasilva showcased his skills by challenging Trust participants to beat his total of 239 keepie-uppies in two minutes and six seconds.

All the activities are part of the Trust’s #BeeatHome campaign that was launched at the end of March in response to the Covid-19 crisis. With the government restricting all but essential across the UK, Brentford FC’s award-winning charity began to migrate all its front-line community activity online. And as a football club that prides itself on its community spirit, is it no surprise that Brentford players took up the challenge of supporting children and young people during the government lockdown.

Lee Doyle, Chief Executive of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “The interaction between the players, our participants and coaches has added a brilliant dimension to the sessions. The candid comments have provided our post-16 education students with an insight into the commitment required to succeed. In turn, some of the feedback from our participants show the high esteem in which the players are held and may help to add something extra to their performance when the campaign resumes.”

Newly-signed Tariqe Fosu helped run a football session for children from the Trust’s Football Development Centre and joined Sergi Canós, Dominic Thompson and Dasilva to record messages to promote community projects online. Shandon Baptiste helped Hounslow Council with some Stay at Home messaging by taking part in an Instagram takeover while Watkins, Pinnock, Canós, Fosu and Christian Nørgaard have spoken directly to or recorded messages for fans over the past two months. Others, including Team Captain Pontus Jansson and defender Rico Henry have helped out with special birthday messages.

Brentford FC prides itself on its players’ involvement in the local community. Recent recognition includes that, in 2019, its player ambassador project was shortlisted at the London Football Awards for “Community Project of the Year”.

May 29 update from the EFL on Covid-19

At its meeting on Wednesday, 27 May, having carefully considered submissions from clubs, the EFL Board agreed to progress with the proposed framework it outlined on Thursday 21 May in respect of changes to EFL Regulations in the event season 2019/20 is curtailed in any EFL division. At the same time as advising on its proposed approach last week, the EFL Board had asked clubs to give it appropriate consideration and provide any feedback. Communications were submitted from clubs across all divisions and those proposals, some of which have been made available publicly, suggested how the framework in the event the season is ended prematurely could alternatively work.

The EFL Board has to date been consistent in its approach that playing out the remainder of season 2019/20 when it is safe to do so, is the preferred position. Whilst the Championship have advised of their intentions to resume fixtures, League Two clubs have indicated their preference to curtail the season. At present clubs in League One are still undecided.

A decision on whether or not to curtail the season is a matter to be considered by clubs in any affected division, but only once a framework for resolving open issues in such circumstances has been agreed by all members across all divisions through a regulation change. After a full and comprehensive review of the club submissions, alongside consideration of views stated at the club meetings of 13 and 15 May 2020, the EFL Board unanimously agreed to continue with the original approach and is now proposing to call a meeting of clubs on Monday 8 June to consider and, if thought fit, approve the proposals to introduce the regulation change.

The EFL Articles allow clubs the opportunity to propose amendments to regulations and should any club wish to propose an alternative, it must do so by submitting such a proposal by no later than 2pm on Tuesday, 2 June. The EFL will issue any notice of meeting later that day.  Any such club proposals will be considered at the same meeting as the EFL Board’s proposal.

In addition to the statement, the EFL issued the following Tweet:

Round up of the #BeeatHome activities

When the government restricted all but essential movement across the UK in March, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust launched a #BeeatHome campaign that encouraged children and adults to stay active within their homes. The Trust delivered educational and physical activity content to children and young people in the local area while simultaneously urging people to stay at home to help save lives. The two month campaign saw people getting involved in a range of ways, as can be seen below.

You can read more about the #BeeatHome campaign here and the Trust has now launched a #BeeWell campaign as restrictions around movement have changed. #BeeWell aims to support children and adults with their physical and mental wellbeing. With a recent survey highlighting how young people’s mental health has worsened since the Covid-19 crisis, the campaign aims to offer an array of online activities to support adults and young people during the crisis.

The #BeeWell campaign follows on from the Trust’s successful #BeeatHome campaign, which saw 1,000 children and young people take part in online activities. The campaign is being supported by EcoWorld London, the Principal Partner of Brentford FC. Read more on #BeeWell here.

Brentford FC Polo shirts donated to hospital

Brentford Football Club has made a donation of kit to West Middlesex University Hospital. The hospital, in Isleworth, is the closest to Brentford FC and is regularly visited by players and staff. A group visited to provide Christmas gifts to patients at the end of 2019.

The hospital is part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and provides a range of specialist clinical services as well as general hospital services for people living locally, which include A&E and maternity. The Trust runs two main hospitals, Chelsea and Westminster and West Middlesex, and also offers a range of community-based services. It has 6,000 staff caring for nearly one million people in the area.

The Club donated polo shirts for staff to wear around the hospital while they are using more clothing than usual due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Around 150 items in a range of sizes were given to staff to use as makeshift uniform during this unprecedented time. They are already in use.

CW+ is the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and they have launched a dedicated Rapid Response Fund to support staff and patients. The charity is appealing for support for the Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund and ensuring staff across the organisation are best equipped and prepared to provide vital care to our patients and all those in our community affected by the virus. Click here to donateClick here to find out more.

#BeeWell launched by Community Sports Trust

As Mental Health Awareness Week drew to a close, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust launched its #BeeWell campaign, which aims to support children and adults with their physical and mental wellbeing. With a recent survey highlighting how young people’s mental health has worsened since the Covid-19 crisis, the campaign aims to offer an array of online activities to support adults and young people during the crisis. The campaign is being supported by EcoWorld London, the Principal Partner of Brentford FC.

The #BeeWell campaign will include:

  • An intergenerational project with the Premier League that sees children write letters of support to older Brentford fans who are self-isolating.
  • More live online football sessions.
  • Online Talk Club for Brentford fans and local residents
  • Expansion of our welfare calls to our most vulnerable participants.
  • Gradual resumption of school and community activities in line with government recommendations

The #BeeWell campaign follows on from the Trust’s successful #BeeatHome campaign, which saw a staggering 1,000 children and young people take part in our online activities during the government lockdown.

Lee Doyle, Chief Executive of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, said: “The support of EcoWorld and our Trust partners has enabled us to be responsive, flexible and creative during a time of increased need. We will continue to develop and refine ways to stay connected with our local communities, building towards a brighter future.”

Heng Leong Cheong, CEO of EcoWorld London, said: “We could not be more excited and prouder to support this very important campaign. Our business is committed to creating healthy communities, with mental health being a crucial part of that. This will provide much needed resources for those who need it the most in this challenging time, and we hope this will be the first of many initiatives in the UK.”

EcoWorld London are Brentford FC’s Principal Partner for their ongoing Farewell Griffin Park season. They are also the Club’s development partner for their new home, a 17-250 seat state-of-the-art stadium. The development also includes a new purpose-built location for Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, a public square with shops, cafes and restaurants as well as more than 900 new homes for sale and rent.