Two thirds of respondents to TfL consultation call for changes to Cycleway 9

Image above: a bus stop island next to Cycleway 9 on Chiswick High Road; library image

Despite the negative feedback, report concludes the cycleway has not led to a measurable deterioration in road safety

In a recent consultation Transport for London (TfL) about Chiswick High Road’s cycle lane, Cycleway 9, a clear message has emerged – two-thirds of respondents believe that the cycleway has had a negative impact overall, and 69% of them are calling for changes to the existing scheme.

The consultation, which ran from October 4, 2022, to April 3, 2023, received substantial participation, with over 5,292 individuals and 18 stakeholder groups offering their input. Of the those who took part, 78% of the respondents described themselves as local residents.

The predominant sentiment expressed in the survey was that changes were needed to address concerns raised by residents. These concerns ranged from safety issues to effects on traffic flow and accessibility.

Residents’ concerns have prompted TfL to release a ‘Monitoring Report’ alongside the consultation results, which assesses the impact of the cycleway on traffic, bus times, and road safety.

The report concludes the cycleway has not led to a measurable deterioration in road safety and has significantly increased the number of ‘cycle kilometres’ on the High Road.

Image above: Overall opinions about the Cycleway; TfL

Marked increase in cycling on Chiswick High Road but concerns raised about safety

One of the key findings from the survey is the shift in transportation habits among respondents. Notably, 31% stated that they cycle more, while 26% cycle less since the cycleway’s introduction.

Walking emerged as the primary mode of transport for 34% of respondents, followed by cycling at 30%. In contrast, only 20% used personal cars for their trips, with only 11% relying on buses for transportation.

Automatic monitoring cameras installed in 2021 indicate a 23% increase in cyclists using the new cycle lane from spring 2019 to spring 2022. Additionally, ‘cycle kilometres’ have seen a remarkable 47% increase between 2021 and 2023, reflecting the growing popularity of cycling in the area.

While the increase in cycling is positive, concerns about safety persist. The survey revealed that 60% of respondents feel less safe when walking or cycling on the High Road than before. Pedestrian safety, especially at bus stop by-passes, and concerns about dangerous cycling behaviours, such as speeding and ignoring traffic lights, are prominent issues.

Age Concern Chiswick voiced concerns about the safety of older people, stating that “cyclists often do not stop for pedestrians”. Those who are visually impaired also face difficulties accessing bus services due to the bus stop by-passes, affecting their ability to cross cycle lanes safely.

Image above: Cycleway 9; library image

Bedford Park Bicycle Club calls for more signage

Bedford Park Bicycle Club praised the cycleway as an “excellent improvement.”. They suggested adding permanent signage to instruct motorists to look both ways at junctions that cross the cycle lane, indicating that some residents are satisfied with the changes.

The TfL Monitoring Report also shed light on the impact on collisions involving cyclists. While it is too early to draw definitive conclusions, the report suggests that the number of such collisions has decreased since safety upgrades to the cycleway were implemented.

The data indicated that most serious collisions occurred on the King Street section, particularly near Weltje Road, which is not covered in the report. TfL remains cautiously optimistic about the positive trend but acknowledges the need for further data collection.

The report continues:

“We’ve looked at whether there have been any collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on Chiswick High Road since the scheme was originally introduced in December 2020. There has only been one collision recorded that involved a pedestrian and a cyclist and this happened while we were building improvements to the scheme, and when the cycle lane (and therefore the bus stop bypass) was closed. There have been no pedestrian collisions recorded since the full improvements were completed.”.

Images above: Average weekday journey times between 2019 and 2023 (click to enlarge); TfL

Complaints about congestion

Congestion emerged as a significant concern for respondents, with 74% stating that it has increased since the cycleway’s introduction. Only 10% felt that traffic was flowing more freely.

Additionally, the Monitoring Report included data on bus times, indicating that performance had deteriorated, particularly in the eastbound direction on the High Road and northbound on Chiswick Lane. In a recent example, signage at Hammersmith bus station has warned commuters travelling through Chiswick on buses of lengthy delays because of the congestion on the High Road. TfL acknowledges the need for further improvements to ensure reliable bus services.

Regarding the bus gate by Acton Lane, the report states that buses gain an average of 10 seconds every time they use it. Traffic volumes on various adjacent roads also showed no significant changes since 2019.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association expressed concerns that many of its members actively avoid Chiswick High Road due to increased difficulty and stress in their work.

In terms of environmental impact, 18% believed that air quality had improved, while half of respondents felt air pollution had worsened. 55% said they believed noise pollution had increased.

For local businesses, 53% believed that the impact of Cycleway 9 was negative, with only 10% reporting a boost in revenues. Businesses also faced challenges with deliveries and parking, with 44% finding deliveries more difficult and 45% hearing from customers about increased parking difficulties.

The decision on the permanent future of Cycleway 9 lies with Hounslow Council, which will consider the consultation feedback and monitoring data supplied by TfL.

TfL has committed to addressing detailed comments from the consultation in a subsequent report.

Ealing Lib Dems secure resurfacing of Church Path

Image above: Cllr Andrew Steed on Church Path recently

Southfield ward councillors claim credit for resurfacing pothole-ridden road

The Liberal Democrats in Southfield ward are claiming credit for the decision by Ealing Council to completely resurface Church Path.

Southfield ward councillors say they have spent a significant amount of its time over the last year reporting potholes and other dangerous issues on Chiswick’s streets.

Church Path is set to be resurfaced with a new layer of what is called ‘microsurfacing’ along its entire length from Kingswood Terrace to Acton Lane. The works are due to start in September.

Cllr Andrew Steed said:

“Liberal Democrats receive lots of complaints from residents, as part of our approach to listen to residents, about the poor state of the streets which are maintained by Ealing Council. We campaign on streets where there are lots of potholes and glad that we have persuaded the Council to repair Church Path in Southfield. Pothole-ridden streets are bad for both cyclists and vehicle drivers. “

Ealing Council reduced the amount it spent on repairing potholes in 2022, deciding to base repairs on risk-based assessments. The depth of a pothole required serious enough to require intervention has also been increased to 40mm.

Residents can report potholes and other hazards using the ‘lovecleanstreet’ app, via the Ealing Council website or by emailing highwayservices@ealing.gov.uk.

Brentford 1, Crystal Palace 1

Image above: Celebrating Kevin Schade’s goal; picture Brentford FC

Third Season: Honours even

There were two outstanding incidents in a match that rarely excited – one of those encounters that linger in the memory for no more than a few minutes. The first surprise was a ferocious cloudburst that sent many supporters of both camps scurrying to the back of the stands. The second was a Brentford goal that may well figure highly next May in TV viewers’ polls to decide the best of the season.

First, the rain, which drenched thousands without any of them realising the irony following the delay in starting the first game if the new season – no water was to be had anywhere in the stadium or the sky. Fortunately, Kevin Schade’s goal was so grand that all memory of the rain, and the thunderclaps that preceded it, will probably have vanished after the 18 minutes before the Bees took the lead.

Christian Nørgaard, deep in his own half, supplied the long cross-field pass that deserved to be polished like a diamond before arriving at Schade’s feet. Whereupon Kevin set off on a dazzling run that took him into the penalty area before leaving the defence floundering and unleashing a shot so unstoppable that it was a wonder keeper Sam Johnstone didn’t applaud.

It was Schade’s first goal for the club and his speed and prowess in the air so unnerved the opposition that one wondered why coach Thomas Frank substituted him ten minutes from time. It was, said my mate Charlie, a performance by the 21-year-old winger that doubled the player’s transfer value in the time it took to score that goal ‘and his new shorter haircut won’t hurt, either.’

Brentford had the best of the first half, which doubtless worried Palace manager Roy Hodgson even more than did the inclement weather. Mind you, he certainly looked immaculate in suit and tie until the rains came, when he swiftly donned a duffle jacket to protect them.

It patently was not his kit that occupied Hodgson during the interval, even if the suit remerged as revitalised as the players when the game continued. Now Mbeumo and Wissa found it hard to penetrate a newly resolute defence and only Mark Flekken prevented Eberrechi Eze and Odsonne Edouard from plundering an equaliser.

Lack of opportunities up front for the Bees was not necessarily due to the continuing absence of Ivan Toney, although rumours persist of the striker’s potential departure when his suspension ends, as do Brentford’s interest in every available front-runner, from Nottingham Forest’s Brennan Johnson to Donald Duck.

Chances were rare at both ends, but the longer the game continued Palace had the edge. One goal-bound effort was finger-tipped over the bar by Flekken; another blocked and then gathered at the goalkeeper’s second effort. It couldn’t last, could it? No, it couldn’t, with an unseemly scrabble in the goalmouth ending with centre-back Joachim Andersen bursting into the fray to score through Flekken’s legs.

A shame was that; but for the error Flekken would have qualified as man of the match, what with the superb quality of his distribution of the ball as well as acrobatics when required.  His demeanour is largely admirable, too, displaying a calmness that may well earn him the nickname of Mr Cool.

Frank’s disappointment at dropping two points was palpable – ‘I can’t figure it out why these games end in draws,’ he told Sky Sports, ‘In the five games [between us], the number of chances they and us created were limited.’

His players looked crestfallen, the crowd too, but – whisper who dares! – a draw was a fair result, just as similar scorelines had been in the past when these two sides met. As for the jovial Roy Hodgson – every fan’s second- favourite coach – he accepted Palace’s inspired second-half revival performance with a smile.

‘Suits him,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Hickey, Collins, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen (Onyeka 71), Nørgaard, Janelt; Mbeumo, Wissa, Schade (Lewis-Potter 80).

Crystal Palace: Johnstone; Ward, Andersen, Guéhi, Mitchell; Doucouré, Schlupp (Ahamadaat 71), Lerma; J Ayew, Eze, Édouard (Matetaat 71).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Bees United supporters’ website.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick writer’s play The Birth of Frankenstein success at Edinburgh Festival

“A Masterclass in Theatre”

Nick Hennegan’s play adaptation The Birth of Frankenstein has received very good reviews at the Edinburgh Festival.

“A dazzling collection of characters… raw energy, solid performances and an engaging story” – The Scotsman

“A Masterclass in Theatre” – Fringe Review

The writer, producer, director of the show, Nick, lives in Chiswick and runs the Maverick Theatre Company which puts on plays and theatre craft courses as well as running the London Literary Pub tours in central London.

“I was delighted with the response” says Nick, who has been putting on shows at the Edinburgh Fringe now for over 30 years. “Finding the money was really difficult this time, a bit of a slog, so I am doubly pleased as we didn’t know we were definitely going until it was too late for us to be in the official brochure.

“It was all very last minute, but we sold out seven performances during the month we were there just by word of mouth. I’m delighted with the cast, they’ve done extremely well and it’s great to get such a positive reaction.”

Based on the true story

The Birth of Frankenstein is by Robert Lloyd George and has been adapted and directed by Nick Hennegan, wth original Music by Robb Williams.

The scenario is that teenager Mary Godwin and her new lover Percy Shelley travel to Geneva to spend the summer with the poet Lord Byron, Byron proposes that they ‘each write a ghost story’. Unable to think of a story, young Mary became anxious: but the events of evenings in Geneva lead to a nightmare that becomes – Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley did in real life start writing Frankenstein when she was 18 and the first edition of her book was published when she was 20. She also married Percy Bysshe Shelley.

She travelled through Europe in 1815, following the River Rhine through Germany and stopping in Gernsheim, 17km from Frankenstein castle, where two centuries earlier there had been an alchemist who had carried out experiments. She then travelled on to Geneva where she and Shelley stayed with Byron and other friends.

The competition with Lord Byron to write a horror story is also true and the resulting classic about a scientist who was horrified by what he had created is credited as being the first true science fiction novel and has had considerable influence on popular culture ever since.

After the play’s success in Edinburgh the company is presenting the show in Birmingham for three nights at a function room in the Billesley pub before heading home.

Nick, who is from Billesley himself, grew up on the council estate where the pub is. He left school with no qualifications but has set up his own theatre company, written a number of plays and has made it his mission to introduce theatre to “people like me”.

“We produce theatre in pubs and invite people along for a pint and a fag to see where TV and film all started.”

READ ALSO: London Literary pub crawl reaches global audience

When he is finished with The Birth of Frankenstein in Birmingham he will be turning his mind to his next big project – taking a show to Broadway.

“It’s a bit surreal. I wrote a version of A Christmas Carol and we open with it on Broadway, in New York, in December. We have also been invited to perform at the Hollywood Fringe.”

The Birth of Frankenstein previewed for one night at The Tabard theatre in Chiswick in July and it is to be hoped that, in amongst all the globe trotting, it comes back to Chiswick so more of us can see it.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Volunteer to save a toad?

Image above: Clare Arnold at work in Chiswick Business Park; photograph by Joanne Gilbert

Toads, newts and more need saving from drains in Chiswick Business Park

The wildlife preservation group Wild Chiswick is calling for volunteers to help rescue amphibians living in Chiswick Park. While it is primarily a place of business with 12 large office blocks housing some of the biggest global companies, it is also beautifully landscaped around a two-tier lake and waterfall, home to a diverse range of urban wildlife including common toads and smooth newts.

The lake provides an ideal breeding ground for these amphibious creatures, but the presence of the other occupants of the park: humans, with their buildings, car parks, and concrete structures, disrupts their natural migratory routes. They get run over by cars and fall into the drains in the park and can’t get out again.

Images above: Toad in the hole, and toads in a bucket; photographs by Clare Arnold

The London Wildlife Trust (LWT) was alerted to this issue when a concerned park worker raised the alarm. Since then, a yearly rescue mission has taken place during spring.

This year the charge of managing the rescue patrol has been taken up by dedicated volunteer Clare Arnold, supported by John Salisbury, Chair of the London Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG), and ecologist Sivi Sivanesan. With a group of volunteers from LARG they scour the park’s drains and car parks, finding and saving the trapped amphibians.

Images above: Newt in a car park, newt rescue; photographs by Sivi Sivanesan

“We need to protect them”

The plight of these creatures continues beyond spring and Clare, John, and Sivi’s operations have extended into the summer months. Their combined efforts have resulted in the successful rescue of an additional 280 animals this year alone, bringing the total rescues for 2023 to an impressive 665, showing how significant their rescue efforts have become.

During a recent operation, to the dismay of volunteers, amphibian remains were found within drains where trapped animals had met an untimely demise. The volunteers have meticulously documented their findings, creating a comprehensive map of the danger zones where animals are most susceptible to entrapment.

Images above: Bones of trapped animals, a newt on some pebbles; photographs by Sivi Sivanesan

Wild Chiswick’s Joanne Gilbert said:

“Amphibians in the UK are in decline, especially the common toad. It is therefore important that we do everything we can to help them survive. One reason for this decline is habitat fragmentation, which is one of the main problems they face at Chiswick business park, along with the hazard of being trapped in drains, run over or trodden on.

“Amphibians are an important part of a healthy ecosystem and we need to protect them. If you can come along and help with rescues at the Business Park, LARG, LWT and WildChiswick would be most grateful.  If you can’t – then consider putting a pond in your garden, along with some rock and log piles, for amphibians to hide from predators and heat, gather insects for food, and use for hibernation”.

By expanding the team, Wild Chiswick hope more drains and car parks can be covered consistently, and result in the saving of a greater number of animals and a deeper understanding of their movements.

Those interested should email Wild Chiswick at hello@wildchiswick.com.

Image above: Sivi Sivanesan and Clare Arnold at work; Photograph Joanne Gilbert

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Book Festival kicks off with Local Authors’ night

Image above: Local author Sara Ward’s book Living the Good Life in the City

Living the Good Life in the City – Sara Ward

The Chiswick Book Festival is now just over a week away, with the Local Authors’ night on Wednesday 6 September in the Boston Room at George IV and the ‘official’ opening on Thursday 7, with TV presenter and gardener Alan Titchmarsh talking to Rosie Fyles, head gardener at Chiswick House.

I’ve been reading Sara Ward’s book Living the Good Life in the City and we have a copy to give away.

Image above: Sara with one of her favourite hens

Sara runs Hen Corner from her end of terrace house in Brentford, and as the name suggests she keeps chickens as well as growing her own fruit and vegetables. She will be one of the local authors delivering their ‘elevator pitch’ at the Local Authors’ night and she will also be hosting a talk, with home cooked samples, at Hen Corner on Sunday 10 September.

She and her husband started researching the provenance of food when they had their first child, now an adult. Living the Good Life in the City is the story of their journey to self-sufficiency. It is full of wit and wisdom, delivered in Sara’s very personal and personable style:

“My favourite part of the day is collecting the eggs from our flock of twenty-seven. When I reach into the nest box, I always thank the girls and comment on the number that they’ve laid that day.

“If it’s a good-sized clutch I congratulate them – and if it’s not, then I reassure them that maybe it’s that time of year when the days are shorter and they’re too busy growing new feathers for winter warmth, so pushing out a daily egg is just too much to ask.”

It is also beautifully produced, with lots of lovely glossy pictures.

Image above: Living the Good Life in the City – A Journey to Self-Sufficiency

Don’t be fooled by the enthusiastic idealism. There is nothing hippy dippy about Hen Corner. The presentation may be homely and informal but Hen Corner is all about practicality.

‘In a good year, we collect over £3,000 worth of food.’

The book is a glorious mix of food information and anecdotes, with recipes and handy hints for growing and making your own food.

The only time I ever made jam it was in a pressure cooker in my student digs. The thing exploded and created an impressive fountain of hot liquid that hit the ceiling and covered the whole room in a fine sticky mist. In the ensuing decades I have never been tempted to try again, but reading Sara’s chapter on marmalade I might give it another go. I like the look of Sara’s honey, lemon and ginger marmalade.

On her first attempt at making marmalade the mixture boiled over, repeatedly, and she ended up using every pan she possessed to decant it as she realised had far too much mixture for one pan.

We have been making marmalade in England since the 17th century she says, based on recipes passed down from Roman times (so I can’t be the only one to have ended up with a sticky ceiling, surely).

As she makes her way through home made breads and pastas, sausages and cheeses you can almost taste and smell the food. As you read about the challenges of growing vegetables in a suburban garden you are seduced by the sustainable / climate arguments of growing your own but she also convinces you that it might be rather fun.

Images above: Three of Sara’s products which won awards at the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards: Cranberry & Pecan Sourdough, Apple & Chilli Jelly and Apricot Couronne

She set herself the goal of creating a family meal entirely from her own produce. That must be immensely satisfying.

“Once you’ve tasted home grown asparagus cooked within minutes of cutting the spears , you won’t be interested in the supermarket bundles wrapped in plastic any more. Humble potatoes scrabbled from the ground, quickly boiled and slathered in butter is a dish fit for royalty.”

She starts small, with sprouting mung beans, working her way through crops for pots and patios and onto full-on can’t-cope-with-the-amount fruit harvests that require urgent pickling and preserving to avoid waste.

“That which stores well – Winter squashes keep for ages in a cool place, rhubarb and runner beans are happy in the freezer, and other foods can be preserved or fermented into your favourite tipple.”

Image aboves: A pasta making course at Hen Corner; Some of the range of food and drink produced at Hen Corner

There is advice on how to protect vegetable plants from slugs, mice, pigeons and foxes, and explanations of all the different methods of preserving food. Chutney, she says, is the answer for all those green tomatoes that just will not ripen.

The book progresses to the more hardcore pursuits of chicken and hen keeping (and even a bit about livestock – pigs and goats) and finishes with celebration. Sara is big on tradition and celebration, saying thank you for what the earth provides, with ideas for Valentines, Easter and Christmas food.

Win a free copy of Living the Good Life in the City

If you would like to win a copy of Sara Ward’s book Living the Good Life in the City, answer this question:

Q: How long have we been making marmalade in England?

Email your answer to: info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk putting Living the Good Life in the Cityin the subject box.

The winner will be randomly selected from the correct answers we have received by midnight on Wednesday 30 August.

Flights delayed at Heathrow after National Air Traffic Services experienced outage

Image above: Children waiting to board a flight at Heathrow; Heathrow Airport

Flights cancelled due to technical difficulties on one of the busiest travel days of the year

Heathrow airport warned on Monday (28 August) that there would be flight delays after the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) experienced an outage. Air traffic restrictions were applied across the UK and more than 500 flights were cancelled.

The August bank holiday Monday is one of the busiest travel days of the year. By the evening they were reporting the technical problem had been fixed but said schedules remained “significantly disrupted”.

“We ask passengers to only travel to the airport if their flight is confirmed as still operating” they said. “We are working as hard as we can to minimize the knock-on impacts and assist those who have been affected.”

Passengers were told to expect delays of up to 12 hours.

“We are now working closely with airlines and airports to manage the flights affected as efficiently as possible” NATS said.

The outage affected their flight planning system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which could not be done at the same volume.

“Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations” NATS said, “we are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing.”

Sky News spoke to travellers frustrated by the delays, including one woman who was frantic to get home to her nine month old baby.

Stan Stawowiak, who was supposed to fly to Spain from Luton airport told them: “It’s been a long and chaotic day”.

British people stranded in France, including the woman trying to get back to her baby, told Sky it had been a “nightmare” trying to find an alternative route back home. One was told all flights for the next two days had been cancelled.

Heathrow Express also reported disruption on their service on Monday night. Putting the cherry on the cake for frazzled travellers, they put out a statement warning passengers:

“Services are delayed by up to 15 minutes or subject to cancellations due to trespassers on the railway.”

The service runs from London Heathrow and London Paddington, and both directions weren affected.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Hounslow Council Leader “open for discussion” about borough-wide enforcement team to tackle theft and antisocial behaviour

A review of how the Council carries out enforcement is already under way

Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat has told The Chiswick Calendar he is “open to discussion” about a borough-wide enforcement team to help protect shopkeepers and the public from theft and antisocial behaviour.

When LB Hammersmith & Fulham set up their Law Enforcement Team of uniformed officers they first of all carried out an enforcement review, looking at what types of enforcement there was already in place in the different council departments, including Parks, Licensing and Planning, before pooling their resources to create a central team.

“We are in the throes of doing that now” he told us. “It’s a massive undertaking, but I started it when I first took over as leader. We are looking at how we carry out enforcement and whether we need a borough-wide team.

“It is a big problem not only in Chiswick and it is very much on our radar” he told us.

Politicians, both national and local, react to the rise in theft

The issue has come to the fore because there are so few police prosecutions for low level crime. The Home Secretary has told the Police she wants them to investigate every theft and to use evidence from smart doorbells and dashcams to solve lower-level crimes. New guidance on investigating such crimes is to be issued to all forces in England and Wales.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday (28 August), Suella Braverman said it was “completely unacceptable” that criminals were often “effectively free to break certain laws”. Home Office figures show that in the past year just 4.4% of all theft offences resulted in someone being charged.

The Chiswick Calendar highlighted the extent of the problem of shoplifting in Chiswick two weeks ago with a special report by Matt Smith based on conversations with many of the High Rd’s shopkeepers. Over and over again they told him they received no help from the police. One said: “theft is effectively legal now in Chiswick”.

READ ALSO: Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

The national media picked up on our story, with follow ups in the Daily Mail and The Times, both in the news pages and in Jenni Russell’s column, and also on James O’Brien’s LBC show.

Chiswick councillors back idea of a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith & Fulham have

After our follow-up piece last week looking at how LB Hammersmith & Fulham support their shopkeepers with a uniformed Law Enforcement Team, suggesting maybe it was time Hounslow did the same, Chiswick’s councillors have backed the idea.

READ ALSO: Does Chiswick need a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith?

READ ALSO: Politicians, both national and local, react to record level of theft

In a statement released by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors on Hounslow Council on Friday (25 August) they said:

“The team could patrol Chiswick High Road, Turnham Green Terrace and other hotspot areas, and officers would have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour, report abandoned bikes for removal, enforce public space protection orders and obtain the name and address of offenders to coordinate with police officers.

“Law Enforcement Officers would also be issued with body-cameras, and would act as a visible deterrent to potential criminals.”

Chiswick’s only Labour councillor, Amy Croft, has also given it her backing “in principle”.

Image above: Officers for Hammersmith & Fulham’s Law Enforcement Team

Hounslow Council examining feasibility of a central enforcement team

Various Council departments have enforcement officers in their team. Some, such as Trading Standards officers, Planning and Environment, whose officers are concerned with issues such as noise and air pollution, have quite specialised areas of expertise. Some have statutory obligations. Others, in areas such as the Parks department, have less complicated roles.

The role of Enforcement officers in the Parks department is to make sure the byelaws are adhered to regarding issues such as litter and the riding of bikes in the parks. Parking is another example of a department which already has enforcement officers, although parking enforcement is contracted out to Serco.

Hounslow already has a ‘community safety’ team. “These are not people who would be recognisable to you in the street, but they work with businesses and talk to the police and pick up trends in the borough. They are internal team picking up data and trends in Hounslow.

‘I wish Chiswick’s councillors had come to me first with this rather than just going straight to the press.  It hasn’t been highlighted to me that the problem of shoplifting in Chiswick is as starkly serious as you have reported. I haven’t had any approach from them directly.

“Even though you may think nothing will be done about it, I would say to shop owners that it is always worth reporting crime because it’s the data that tells us the extent of the problem.”

“I can’t commit to extra budget right now. Money is very tight”

He was aware, he said, that it was a big problem in other parts of the borough. Primark in Hounslow town centre in particular is a frequent target for shoplifters. Hounslow town centre has recently been given additional police resources because that comes from a budget which is earmarked for antisocial behaviour that targets people rather than merchandise.

The review of enforcement is still at the “scoping and discovery phase” Cllr Rajawat told us. “What are the pros and cons of keeping enforcement in separate departments versus a central team. It’s not just a question of saying ‘let’s do it’. It’s complicated.

“If you take people out of their existing teams and put them in a central unit then you have the question of whether you should train them all to do everything.”

He has talked to Hammersmith & Fulham’s Leader Steve Cowan about their scheme. Would he commit extra funding to create a team like theirs?

“I can’t give a financial commitment at the moment. Money is very tight. I am in the process of trying to balance the budget for next year. Whatever we did would need to be a borough-wide solution and we are a much bigger borough than Hammersmith & Fulham with a lot more people.”

“The recent spate of retail crime in Chiswick is extremely worrying” says Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The recent spate of retail crime in Chiswick is extremely worrying, not least for the shop staff who are at risk should they try to challenge thieves and are disappointed at the apparent lack of effective action by the police.”

Ruth recently carried out her own crime survey amongst residents. Two years ago she noticed an increased number of cases into her office about anti-social behaviour. According to ukcrimestats.com there were 7,123 incidents of antisocial behaviour in the Brentford and Isleworth constituency in 2020/21 compared to 3,867 in 2019/20 – an increase of 84%.

It was noticeable during the periods of lockdown that antisocial behaviour shot up locally and this reflected the pattern nationally. The results of her recent study were “more shocking, more worrying” than the previous one she had carried out in 2019, she said.

She had over 300 responses to her crime survey, and 35% of those who had responded had been victims of crime in the previous 12 months. One constituent had said to her:

“We are scared to walk outside alone, we are scared to wear a watch, we are scared for the safety of our children.”

Ruth initiated a debate in Parliament last month about crime in west London. She told the House:

“There is a sense that this is a country where certain forms of crime simply happen without any consequence.”

She agreed with Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter that a lot of this is because there have been big cuts to the police budget in London.

“In the noughties we had five community police for each ward, but they have been cut to less than half that” she said.

READ ALSO: Ruth Cadbury initiates debate in Parliament about crime in west London

She told us: “I am glad that since I raised my concerns about the recent rise in shop crime in Chiswick with senior police officers they have acknowledged the problem.”

On the prospect of a Law Enforcement Team paid for by the Council she said:

“Whilst a dedicated team for the Chiswick High Road area would be nice, I fear that Hounslow Council does not have the resources after 13 years of government cuts to their budgets.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Politicians, both national and local, react to record level of theft

  • Home Secretary instructs police to investigate every theft no matter how small
  • Chiswick councillors back The Chiswick Calendar’s suggestion that LB Hounslow follows Hammersmith & Fulham’s example and pays for Local Enforcement Team to support the police in Chiswick
  • Chiswick Police Tweet about what they are doing to try and catch shoplifters
  • Councillors meet local traders and police to discuss the issue

Image above: Chiswick High Road; photograph Anna Kunst

Home Secretary wants “radical change” in the way the police approach theft, shoplifting and criminal damage

The Home Secretary has told the Police she wants them to investigate every theft and to use evidence from smart doorbells and dashcams to solve lower-level crimes. New guidance on investigating such crimes is to be issued to all forces in England and Wales.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Suella Braverman said it was “completely unacceptable” that criminals were often “effectively free to break certain laws.

“The most serious crimes flourish when lower-level criminality and antisocial behaviour are not tackled” she wrote. “Victims of these awful crimes are failed when police simply don’t take an interest in following reasonable leads – instead just handing out a crime reference number.”

Home Office figures show that in the past year from April 2022 to March 2023 just 4.4% of all theft offences resulted in someone being charged. The proportion closed because no suspect had been identified was 73.7%, the highest rate for any category of crime.

Image above: Mind volunteer Denise Hickey holds an empty clothes rack – a sign that something has been robbed; Sign on door of eyewear shop Maverick & Wolf – which now has a locked door policy

Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

The Chiswick Calendar highlighted the extent of shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick two weeks ago with a special report.

Our reporter Matt Smith talked to more than 70 shopkeepers and shopworkers in Chiswick High Rd, Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace and many of them told him they were targeted repeatedly by shoplifters but the police took no action beyond giving them a crime reference number for the insurance, even though the shop workers recognised repeat offenders.

READ ALSO: Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

Shops of all sorts, from fashion boutiques to convenience stores, are reporting thefts from their premises almost daily. Some are now implementing a ‘locked door’ policy, meaning customers now have to knock on the door to get the attention of a member of staff in order to be let in.

One shop worker told Matt: “theft is effectively legal now in Chiswick”. Another said: “basically, we are the police now”.

Images above: Tweet from Times correspondent Jenni Russell; Chiswick crime story in the news pages

Chiswick example taken up by national media

Our report has been followed up and highlighted by the Daily Mail, The Times, both on the news pages and by columnist Jenni Russell, and on James O’Brien’s LBC programme.

The Daily Mail did interviews with some of the traders we spoke to and others, who told similar tales of staff having to deal constantly with shoplifting, abuse and intimidation, published under the headline ‘Fortress Chiswick: How affluent suburb that is home to rich and famous has fallen victim to terrifying crime wave which has seen Aled Jones threatened with machete, commuters mugged and boutique owners forced to lock their doors.’

The Times did something similar, managing to get a quote from the Metropolitan Police:

‘We understand shoplifting is a ward priority in Chiswick and we are striving to tackle this for businesses and residents.’

Jenni Russell’s piece was more incisive, accusing Braverman and the Conservative politicians who preceded her of ‘acute political hypocrisy’.

‘The policies implemented by every Tory government over the past 13 years have in effect decriminalised most shoplifting, mugging, theft, robbery and minor assault, encouraging exactly the kind of shameless lawbreaking planned this month. [Referring to the mass robbery planned on social media in Oxford Street recently).

‘A quiet undermining of norms and order is unfolding on Britain’s streets and it won’t be reversed by a few theatrical actions and declarations.

‘The police no longer bother to respond to the majority of low-level crimes because after years of cuts, imposed from George Osborne onwards, they don’t have the officers, resources or the premises to do so.’

Read her piece (behind a pay wall) here: A shoplifting epidemic is going unpunished

Images above: Natalie Everett, manager of Jigsaw – “Because nothing is done by the police… they know they can get away with it”; Barbara Kundzicz, manager of Boots – people steal “everything and anything… mainly like expensive items, cosmetics, nappies, baby milk, everything… every day.”

Shoplifting ‘effectively decriminalised’

Shoplifting of goods worth less than £200 was downgraded to a summary offence in the 2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which allows anyone stealing goods costing less than £200 to plead guilty by post as an alternative to appearing at the magistrates’ court.

Former Scotland Yard detective David McKelvey told The Telegraph two years ago this had given a green light to police to abandon prosecutions and investigations into such thefts which could tie up an officer for six to eight hours when they could be tackling more serious crime.

“The Government has effectively decriminalised shoplifting. Provided a thief stays below the £200 threshold, they are not going to be arrested” he said.

Even if they were prosecuted, the fixed penalty for a summary offence is £70, leaving them with a profit of £130 before they risked serious consequences.

The Metropolitan Police have acknowledged publicly that they do not pursue low value thefts from shops. Hounslow Police officers confirmed at a Chiswick Area Forum five years ago that they only investigated if the value of the goods stolen was over £50, as they did not have the resources to investigate every theft.

READ ALSO: Shoplifting under £50 won’t be investigated by police

David McKelvey told The Telegraph courts had been told that they could not award costs for any prosecution of shoplifting of goods worth less than £200 as it was barred under rules for summary offences. When Sir Geoffrey Vos took over as Master of the Rolls in 2021 he issued courts with an updated Guide to the Summary Assessment of Costs, which states:

‘The court will only allow costs which are proportionate to the matters in issue … Costs incurred are proportionate if they bear a reasonable relationship to the sums in issue in the proceedings’.

In other words, not only will they not be pursued by the police, but it is not worth retailers prosecuting the thefts of goods worth less than £200 privately either, as they will not be awarded costs if they win, and the costs of a private prosecution would far outweigh the financial loss of the shoplifting.

Shop theft nationally reaches record high

Nationally, retailers reported a spike in thefts in the few years after 2014, and this year shop theft across the convenience sector has reached a record high. According to the Association of Convenience Stores 35% local shop owners who took part in their survey said shoplifting had increased in the past year. London is the hardest hit. In London 48% of retailers reported an increase.

Image above: Officers for Hammersmith & Fulham’s Law Enforcement Team

Does Chiswick need a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith?

As a follow-up to our special report on shoplifting in Chiswick, we wanted to see how neighbouring areas support shopkeepers. Matt went on patrol with LB Hammersmith & Fulham’s Law Enforcement Team – a group of 72 uniformed officers who act as the council’s eyes and ears and provide information to the police to try and drive down environmental crime and anti-social behaviour.

READ ALSO: Does Chiswick need a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith?

Chiswick’s councillors ask LB Hounslow to follow LB Hammersmith & Fulham’s example

The eight Conservative councillors who represent Chiswick on Hounslow Council have now backed this suggestion and say they are taking it up with the Council. Chiswick’s only Labour councillor, Amy Croft, has also given it her backing.

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors say they would like to see the creation of a new Council Law Enforcement Team to counter the recent spate of crime in Chiswick and that they have arranged urgent meetings with Hounslow Council to discuss the creation of a dedicated Law Enforcement Team:

“The team could patrol Chiswick High Road, Turnham Green Terrace and other hotspot areas, and officers would have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour, report abandoned bikes for removal, enforce public space protection orders and obtain the name and address of offenders to coordinate with police officers.

“Law Enforcement Officers would also be issued with body-cameras, and would act as a visible deterrent to potential criminals.”

Cllr John Todd, who represents Chiswick Homefields ward, which includes part of the High Road, said:

“Both anecdotal conversations with shopkeepers and local crime stats show that the current provisions for enforcing the law in the borough of Hounslow are not effective, so we need to look at additional measures to keep residents and businesses safe.

“Hounslow already has an enforcement team that deals with litter, predominantly in Hounslow town centre – it’s time to replace these officers with a team that emulates the success of Hammersmith’s Law Enforcement Team.”

Amy Croft, Labour councillor for Chiswick Riverside, said she was also supportive of the Council paying for a Law Enforcement Team along the lines of LB Hammersmith and Fulham’s team “in principle” and she had spoken to Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat to see if it was something they could do.

“He’s open for discussion” she told The Chiswick Calendar. “We recognise we need to do something and we need to find a borough-wide solution.”

On our report, Cllr jack Emsley said:

“The Chiswick Calendar has provided a valuable public service by exposing rising crime in the area over the past few weeks. Matt Smith’s important special report underlined both the importance of good local journalism and just how lucky we are in Chiswick to have high quality local media. I’m glad councillors and the local press can come together to call for action to both protect businesses and keep residents safe.”

Images above: Recent Tweets by Chiswick Police

Chiswick Police Tweet about the arrest of a shoplifter in advance of meeting with councillors and traders

Chiswick Police are keen to show that they are doing something about the endemic shoplifting.

Usually they Tweet about ‘community engagement’ – how they are patrolling the area and how residents can help themselves, by giving crime prevention advice and support, but on Thursday (24 August) they posted that the same ‘prolific shoplifter’ they arrested in Boots on 9 August ‘was seen again by PCSO Spilsbury before being chased down and arrested by PC Allo. She’s now safely locked away to attend court.’

Prior to their Tweet on 9 August there had been no specific mention of shoplifting arrests on the account over the previous six years. Chiswick councillors have arranged a meeting on Friday morning with local traders and police to address the issue of shoplifting.

Edinburgh Festival reviews

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder (Udderbelly) ⭐⭐

Making sense of this proved well beyond my investigative abilities. I wasn’t alone. Having scarpered after an hour I chatted to some twenty something escapees who felt the same.

Part of the problem is that the singing diction is poor but drowned out anyway by loud music and poor acoustics. That’s a big problem when singing is 90% of proceedings. The plot – I think – is about two podcasters trying to solve the murder of a famous crime novelist in Hull. I had huge hopes for this as the producers have a great creative track record.

To be fair, some of the audience seemed to enjoy it.

The Brief Life and Mysterious Death of Boris the 3rd, King of Bulgaria (Pleasance)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The remarkable, little known true story of the Bulgarian monarch who appeased the Nazis while secretly trying to save the lives of thousands of Jews.

Brilliantly realised. Catchy, witty songs, the bonus being that the dialogue is in the modern idiom so you know exactly what’s going on all the time even though it’s never on the nose. And it never feels inappropriate: which is some achievement, given the light tone but dark subject matter. A gem. Coming to the Arcola soon. Catch it if you can.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival has been there all week. See his reviews for Dark Noon / Lena / Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / The Grand Old Opera House Hotel  / Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives / No Love Songs / Heaven / Jazz Emu / Gyles Brandreth Can’t Stop Talking here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Edinburgh Festival reviews

Jazz Emu (Pleasance) ⭐⭐⭐

An un-categorisable mash up of musical parody, Terry Gilliam style animation, brilliantly filmed spoof pop video inserts and much more besides. A bit of Tim Minchin here,  a dash of Flight of the Conchords there. Very cult-y, very clever, very slick.

Will appeal greatly if you are a) under 40 and b) out of your box on industrial strength spliff. He’s playing the Clapham Grand later this year. Worth a look if you’re feeling adventurous.

Gyles Brandreth Can’t Stop Talking (Assembly) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Basically, this is an extended version of R4’s Just a Minute – it could be called Just an Hour – which works very well thanks to our immensely likeable host’s amusing non-stop verbiage and (no doubt shamelessly exaggerated ) quality anecdotage.

Good old fashioned mainstream entertainment – although to be fair there were a few risqué jokes about sex. One for the over 40s.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival is there all week. See his reviews for Dark Noon / Lena / Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / The Grand Old Opera House Hotel  / Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives / No Love Songs / Heaven / here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

Edinburgh Festival reviews

No Love Songs (Traverse) ⭐⭐⭐

In which a young couple with no distinguishing features and a newborn child hit a crisis when he goes off on tour with his band. He sings at her,  she sings at him, and sometimes they sing pleasant but anodyne pop stuff together, in rather sweet harmony.

She then gets postnatal depression, a symptom of which is the urge to say nothing memorable or original during the 80 minute running time. One for the Millennials. Corny, predictable, cliched. There’s so much endeavour, sincerity  and heart here, however, I can (almost) forgive it everything.

Heaven (Traverse) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The intelligent nuanced Irish version of No Love Songs in which an unhappily married couple in their 50s attend a wedding at which their true, hidden desires become apparent. Brilliantly written and acted.

The language is deeply real, moving, poetic and occasionally very funny. Peculiarly but wonderfully Irish. This play is what real life, and real marriage, feels like.

Our thanks to ‘Jonny from Chiswick’ aka Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival will be there all week. See his reviews for Dark Noon / Lena / Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / The Grand Old Opera House Hotel  / Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives / here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

Teenager threatened to cut off TV presenter Aled Jones’ arm with machete, court hears

Image above: Aled Jones

Youth, who cannot be identified, pleads guilty

The teenager who is accused of stealing TV presenter Aled Jones’ Rolex watch while he was out walking with his son in Chiswick last month, has appeared at Wimbledon Youth Court.

The 16 year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, threatened to cut off the singer’s arm during a robbery with a machete, the court was told.

He turned up late for court but then pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.

Prosecutor Robert Simpson told the court Mr Jones was walking with his son when he was “approached by a youth in a black tracksuit top and bottoms and wearing black trainers”.

“(The defendant) produced a knife in the form of a machete from his tracksuit bottoms and threatened to cut off his arm and made various other threats in order to obtain the Rolex watch Aled Jones was wearing,” Mr Simpson said.

He added: “Aled Jones immediately handed it over and the defendant made off.”

The police collected CCTV coverage as evidence of the robbery which took place on Chiswick Rd.

Aled Jones, who lives in Chiswick, became famous for singing Walking In The Air, the theme tune to Christmas favourite The Snowman, when he was a child, and now presents Songs of Praise on BBC One has his own show on BBC Radio Two.

The case has been adjourned while reports are prepared. The defendant, who was arrested at his home in west London, has been released on bail and will be told where to sleep and live by the local authority. He is due back in court, at Ealing Youth Court on Tuesday 12 September for sentencing.

Detective Chief Inspector Garth Hall, of the West Area Command Unit, said:

“All the officers involved in this investigation worked quickly and efficiently to find the person responsible. Within days we had identified the suspect, arrested them and charged them with the crime. It was excellent work and the result is today, faced with overwhelming evidence, the person responsible has pleaded guilty to the crime.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Edinburgh Festival reviews

The Grand Old Opera House Hotel (Traverse) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In which two cleaners at a very beige luxury hotel which was once an opera house fall in love without actually meeting. The building is – of course – haunted by the music and characters of its past.

Combines farce, classic 70s sitcom and lots of opera, but delivered in a way even the most opera-sceptic punter will enjoy. Clever, moving, magical. Does what all fabulous theatre should:  it takes you places. Literally and metaphorically.

Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives (Gilded Balloon) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In which the 60 something comedian mixes observational stand up (most of it about sex and drugs) with a coming of age tale about taking  his teenage crush to a 1970s Bowie concert in Edinburgh.

Twenty years later Jack would interview his hero for his eponymous C5 chat show. Warm, funny, relatable and intelligent: the argument as to why we shouldn’t cancel our cultural heroes is the most compelling I’ve heard.

Our thanks to ‘Jonny from Chiswick’ aka Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival will be there all week. See his reviews for Dark Noon / Lena / Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / No Love Songs / Heaven / here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

Street Food Market gets green light – but with reduced scale and on trial basis

Image above: Richard Johnson on Dragon’s Den – where he pitched the biggest Street Food competition in the world

Decision means Chiswick will have a Sunday market every week – for three months.

The proposal for a ‘Street Food Market’ in Chiswick, selling a range of international foods including Italian, French, Indian, Swedish, Australian and barbecue on the fourth Sunday of every month, has been approved by Hounslow Council’s Licensing Panel on a trial basis, but reduced in scale from the organiser’s original proposal.

In a statement to the applicant, Chiswick-based entrepreneur and food writer Richard Johnson, the Panel apologised for the delay in making a decision, which was set to be made on Tuesday 22 August during their scheduled meeting. The extended deliberation period was attributed to the vast amount of responses to the application, with councillors wanting to “ensure that we were comfortable in having come to the correct decision, for everyone’s benefit”.

The Panel granted the Street Food Market to go ahead for a period of three months, with a reduced capacity of 20 pitches (62 were proposed) and with opening hours from 11.00am until 4.00pm. The market will likely start in October, though there is no set date yet. Set up hours have been reduced and must not start any earlier than 8.00am, which the Panel said gives market organisers a chance of gaining residents support and would “hopefully allay some of the feared negative impacts”.

Councillors said they “felt strongly that we wanted the market to have the opportunity to prove that it can be an asset to neighbouring businesses and residents as well as bringing vibrancy and choice to the High Road.”

The Panel added that statements made both in support or opposition were speculative about the impact, and the only way to “truly test” the impacts is by providing the licence at a reduced capacity to minimise the potential negative impact feared by some of the objectors. Granting the application likewise gives supporters chance to showcase the positive impact of the market’s presence and areas of concern such as litter and parking can be properly managed.

When the three month trial period is concluded, Mr. Johnson will be able to apply again for the licence on the same terms as the original application, but with the benefit of evidence of performance.

The committee’s official decision, with full clauses, will be available “within the next few days”, they said.

Mr. Johnson told The Chiswick Calendar the news suited him fine, he said:

“I feel really excited to get the Food St market launched in the run-up to Christmas. I’m seeing chestnuts, barbecued brisket and steaming hot puddings – with food demos and chef interviews for good measure. Can’t wait.”

Edinburgh Festival reviews

Adults (Traverse) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In which a repressed, married teacher of English Literature and father of two finally summons up the courage to visit a male prostitute but it all goes horribly wrong when the lady on the front desk, as it were, turns out to be a former pupil of his.

Very well written three hander about the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones. Alan Ayckbourn-ish (in a good way) but far more bleak and sex-centred with a bright pink dildo playing a starring role. Not one for the in-laws.

Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics (Symposium Hall) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In which an ex BBC political correspondent talks without notes for an hour (apart from a Q n A at the end) in a brilliant display of political intelligence, wit and analysis. The subject on this occasion – it changes every day – was “how likely is Rishi Sunak to repeat John Major’s unexpected election triumph of 1992?” The answer: not very.  The pleasure comes not from the conclusion, but the reasoning.  Virtuoso stuff, not to be missed – see Google for London dates.

Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life (Surgeons Hall) ⭐⭐

In which a middle-aged Canadian accountant and cancer survivor talks at what feels like some length about his banjo collection. If doesn’t sound exciting and believe me it wasn’t. The most interesting thing about the bloke in question was his resemblance to Leonard Nimoy.

Charisma was not his middle name. Mind you he cracked a couple of half decent jokes. Sample: “What’s the difference between a pizza and a banjo player?  A pizza can feed a family of four.”

 

Our thanks to ‘Jonny from Chiswick’ aka Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival will be there all week. See his review for Dark Noon, Lena and Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Lena / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / The Grand Old Opera House Hotel  / Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives / No Love Songs / Heaven / here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

New Community Garden on Acton Green

Image above: Headteachers Henrietta Adams and Kit Thompson at Community Garden

Created by children from two schools, with a little help from their friends

Children from two preparatory schools in Bedford Park, aided by teachers and parents, have planted a community garden on Acton Green.

The two schools – Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School and Orchard House – are merging in 2024 and in preparation they have been working on projects together, allowing their members to come together to socialise, learn and work together towards a common goal.

Their first project has been the community garden, which they have created with the help of the environmental group Abundance London. “Nature”, says Charlotte Hands-Wicks, a teacher at Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School “is close to our hearts”.

“Though young, the pupils are already aware of the world around them, and starting to discover as they grow, how they have the opportunity and power, to shape and protect it.

“As a community, we encourage discussions around nature, sustainability and the environment through different lessons such as science, geography, pshe and art, as well as highlighting and celebrating Awareness Days such as World Ocean Day and Earth Day.”

Images above: New shoots promising an autumn crop

The school groups have created two large, raised flowerbeds full of herbs, fruits, vegetables as well as bee and butterfly friendly plants. The sign for the gardens, a painted wooden tree slice, was handmade by a Year six  pupil from Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School.

The garden, only a few minutes’ walk from both schools, “is blooming in the summer sunshine and is already producing some edible delights” Charlotte tells The Chiswick Calendar. In fact, as most of the work was done at the end of the summer term, the garden has already produced some herbs which have been used in school lunches.

“The Community Garden has already proved to be a great collaborative venture” says Charlotte. “Abundance London and Ealing Council have been vital in establishing the project and with support from Dukes Education, Wheelers Flowers and our Community Garden Team, we have been able to bring the Community Garden to life.”

Their team of volunteers made up of staff and families from both schools will maintain the garden, and the pupils from both school will also use it as an outdoor classroom resource.

“The Community Garden has been a fantastic opportunity for the schools to unite and create a beautiful and bountiful legacy in Chiswick.”

Image above: Garden signs by Abundance London and a Year six  pupil from Chiswick and Bedford Park Preparatory School

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Traveller group depart Dukes Meadows

Image above: The illegal Traveller encampment at Dukes Meadows on Monday 14 August

Hounslow Council to deploy Parks Team to clean up any “residual waste”

A group of Travellers who had been camped on Dukes Meadows since Sunday 13 August have now departed the site.

The group set up an unauthorised settlement with seven caravans and accompanying cars and vans on open land beside Riverside Drive.

Hounslow Council served the group with an eviction notice within 24 hours of the camp being set up, which instructed the group to depart the site but they remained there for well over a week.

Cllr John Todd, Conservative Councillor for Chiswick Riverside, said a lot of residents had complained about the group using the hedgerow as a toilet and leaving rubbish in the nearby allotments.

Asked if any cleanup was required now that the group have moved on, a Hounslow Council spokesperson said:

“Our Parks Team will now work on clearing any residual waste asap. As soon as we are aware a traveller encampment has left a site the team is notified and resources will be allocated to rectify any issues that might require their attention – dependant on what is appropriate for each encampment.”

LB Hounslow has a permanent site in Heston known as Hartlands where Travellers are supposed to camp, but Cllr Ajmer Grewal, Cabinet Member for Safety and Regulatory Services, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We are currently experiencing a large number of incursions in the borough, which is not uncommon for this time of year.”

Edinburgh Festival – Lena review

LENA (Assembly, George Square) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Those of you with children at Chiswick’s Arts Ed should look away now: this excellent play with music about  tragic 70s child star Lena Zavaroni will have you reconsidering their career choices.

Erin Armstrong is superb in the title role as the singing child prodigy who found huge fame on the ITV talent show  Opportunity Knocks before mental illness blighted her life.

Writer Tim Whitnall hits all the right notes in all the right order. A  deeply moving piece of popular entertainment.  If the Riverside Studios survive they’d be mad not to put this on.

Our thanks to ‘Jonny from Chiswick’ aka Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Our Man at the Edinburgh Festival will be there all week. See his review for Dark Noon / Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! / Adults / Steve Richards presents: Rock  ‘n’ Roll Politics / Tomatoes Tried to kill Me but Banjos Saved my Life / The Grand Old Opera House Hotel  / Jack Docherty in David Bowie and Me: Parallel Lives / No Love Songs / Heaven / here: Edinburgh Festival reviews

Children’s festival at Chiswick Book Festival

All sorts of creativity and silliness and the doyen of children’s books – Dame Jaqueline Wilson

Saturday 9 September

There is a fabulous line-up of fun events for children at this year’s Chiswick Book Festival.

Top of the bill is Dame Jacqueline Wilson at 11.30am on Saturday 9 September. The popular author of over 100 books for children and teenagers is an old favourite of the Chiswick Book Festival, a loyal participant since its first year.

Jacqueline will be talking about her book he Best Sleepover in the World, exploring fun and friendship, rivalry, siblings and of course the importance of sleepovers!

Tickets: Ticketsource

Debra Bertulis: Where Do the Wishes Go?

Debra Bertulis opens the programme on Saturday morning at Chiswick Library with some performance poetry.

Debra will show you how NOT to impersonate your mum one telephone, how to hide a bad haircut and make a witches’ brew for all the family. Wish upon a star, solve riddles, take a trip to Space City and discover your own special thinking place.

Suitable for ages 7-11 years.

Tickets: Ticketsource

Really Big Pants theatre company: Wonky

At the same time, 10am, the Realy Big Pants theatre company will be performing Wonky at Orchard House School.

Can you help Olive and Messy Jesse save the day as they encounter top chef Monsieur Nincompoop, cool rapper Rapper Scool Yo, and the enigmatic pop star Solar Pa’nelle – as Olive’s so-called best friend Trixie tries to thwart them?

There will be cooking! There will be dancing! There will be rapping! Not all at the same time. A show about being different. Being wonky. Being YOU.

Suitable for ages 6+.

Tickets: Ticketsource

Archie’s Apple Performance with Hannah Shuckburgh

Next up, at 1pm at Orchard House School,  Hannah Shuckburgh will be performing her new book Archie’s Apple, an enchanting story about a little boy who discovers a new variety of apple and becomes world famous. Based on a true story,

it was described by the FT as ‘sweet, funny and utterly unique’. Stay for an apple-themed art activity.

Suitable for ages 4-9.

Tickets: Ticketsource

Watch Me Bloom with Krina Patel-Sage

At 2.15pm join author and illustrator Krina Patel-Sage at Orchard House School for poetry readings from My Mindful A to Zen, Watch Me Bloom and Caterpillar Cake.

There will be haiku writing and the chance to make your very own blooming flower crowns! The event will end with a calming mindfulness activity, Q&A and book signing.

Suitable for ages 2 – 10.

Tickets: Ticketsource

Dianne Hofmeyr: The Most Famous Rhinoceros

Dianne Hofmeyr introduces Genda, The Most Famous Rhinoceros at 3.45pm at Orchard House School.

When the first ever rhinoceros arrives in Europe, the king’s daughter Beatrix expects a unicorn. But no… this is a very different animal that will inspire artists and become the most famous rhinoceros ever. Make your own rhino that one day might be famous.

An interactive and fun storytelling session, with collage and drawing.

Suitable for ages 5-9

Tickets: Ticketsource

Sunday 10 September

A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop

On Sunday morning CLiPPA Prize poet Kate Wakeling presents A Dinosaur at the Bus Stop – poems to have fun with – at 11.15am at ArtsEd.

Get ready to hear (probably) the fastest poem in the world, solve brain-tickling mini-beast riddles, bob like a robin and hop aboard the friendliest steam train in town.

This playful session encourages children to join in, get creative and feel inspired as Kate performs poems from her beautifully crafted new collection for younger children.

Suitable for ages 5-8

Tickets: Ticketsource

Out of the Blue with Robert Tregoning

In the afternoon local author and West End star Robert Tregoning unveils his debut picture book for children: Out of the Blue.

Anything that isn’t blue is banned by law. In a world where only one colour is allowed, will our hero be brave enough to tell his dad he loves the colour yellow? And will they be able to change the rules and create a world where every colour is welcome?

With activities, art and craft, join Robert for a very special event about finding the bravery to be yourself and living in all the colours of the rainbow.

Suitable for ages 5-8.

Tickets: Ticketsource

Story Alive!

At 2.15pm at ArtsEd a west London story come to life. This performance is inspired by a wonderful story written by the young people at West London’s Hogarth Community Centre.

Working together with students from ArtsEd they have made it into a piece of theatre.

Suitable for ages 8-12

Tickets: Ticketsource

Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House supplies Sam’s Riverside

Image above: Sam Harrison at Sam’s Riverside restaurant

Chiswick House Trust and Sam Harrison announce their local food partnership

We reported last week that Sam Harrison of Sam’s Riverside restaurant would be opening a new restaurant in Brentford and that he was working with Chiswick House, who are supplying his restaurants with fruit, vegetables and herbs.

READ ALSO: Sam Harrison to open a restaurant in Brentford

Chiswick House & Gardens Trust have issued a press release about the partnership, saying they are delighted to be supplying produce harvested from the Grade-I listed 17th century Kitchen Garden to Sam’s west London restaurants including Sam’s Kitchen in Hammersmith and Sam’s Larder sites in Brentford and Chiswick.

‘Building on its 350-year history, the Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House & Gardens is a thriving, productive space within the 65-acre Chiswick Gardens.

‘The small team of gardeners, supported by 40 volunteers, grow a broad range of produce for sale and for donation to local food charities. The walled haven is also a space for visitors and local community groups to find peace and gardening inspiration, experience seasonal produce growing and see gardeners at work. ‘

Image above: Volunteers working in the Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House

Sourcing ingredients that are hard to find elsewhere

Sam told The Chiswick Calendar he was able to buy produce from the Kitchen Garden that he couldn’t find elsewhere.

Sam’s restaurants have already received quantities of Agretti (originally from the Mediterranean), Amaranths (Mexico and Central America), Cucamelons (Mexico), Buck’s Horn Plantain (coastal Europe), ancient/historic vegetables and herbs like red orach, summer savoury and edible flowers from rose petals to cornflowers.

“Our modern British restaurants fully support the ‘farm to fork’ approach and Rosie and the team are growing and harvesting some innovative crops that will inspire our chefs to create exciting new dishes for our menus” he said.

During the months of August and September the Trust is offering half price tickets to ‘Family Fridays’ – half price tickets for families which include entrance to Chiswick House, entry to the Kitchen Garden, a ‘Design in Nature’ trail which encourages you to use all five senses whilst experiencing the natural world found  in the Kitchen Garden and observing its influence on built design, and a free audioguide for kids, narrated by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Find out more about Family Fridays here: Family Fridays at Chiswick House and Gardens

Image above: Head of Gardens, Rosie Fyles in the Kitchen Garden; photograph Gregor Petrikovič 

Sam’s restaurant cash enables the Kitchen Garden to give produce to food charities

Rosie Fyles, Head of Gardens at Chiswick House & Gardens Trust said:

“We’re experimenting with growing a diverse range of crops that are good to eat, interesting to grow and feed our wildlife too. Working with Sam’s now gives us a perfect way of growing an interesting array of locally-grown produce that the chefs will enjoy using and that they may not be able to easily source elsewhere.”

As well as supplying Sam’s Riverside and direct sales to Kitchen Garden visitors, at least half of the produce harvested is donated to local food charities such as the Felix Project and Surplus to Supper.

“We want as many people as possible to benefit from what we grow – we donate at least as much as we sell – and Sam’s paying us a fair, market price enables us to do just that” said Rosie.

The Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House & Gardens is open Thursday-Sunday, 11am–4pm until 29 October.

Produce from Kitchen Garden is available to purchase from the Conservatory Shop from 11am on Thursdays and Saturdays and from the Chiswick House & Gardens Café, from 11am on Tuesdays and Fridays, while stocks last. 10% discount for Members of the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust.

Sam’s Larder and Chiswick House are both members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme.

Chiswick Calendar Club Card

Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe

Top joke of the festival

The TV channel Dave sponsors the Top Ten Best jokes at the Edinburgh Festival. The Dave Funniest Joke of the Festival fringe award this year goes to Lorna Rose Treen for her zookeeper joke:

“I started dating a zookeeper, but it turned out he was a cheetah.”

Since so much of what happens at the Edinburgh Fringe finds its way to London theatres, you may be interested in what Our Man at the Edinburgh Fringe thought of the two productions he saw on Monday: Dark Noon – ‘a brutal reimagining of the history of America is told by seven South African actors’ and That’s Politainment! – Rosie Holt’s satirical show lampooning the likes of Nadine Dorries, Matt Hancock and Jacob Rees Mogg.

Dark Noon (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) ⭐⭐⭐

In which a troupe of mostly black actors from South Africa build 19th century America before your eyes: churches, torture chambers, railroads all included.

Fizzing with ideas and commitment but this told me nothing I didn’t know already about colonial exploitation. An interesting take on cultural appropriation: the black actors dressed up as whites. And Native Indians. And Asians. Discuss.

Gruelling, occasionally baffling, 20 minutes too long, but heartfelt and  honourable. Would go down a treat at The Bush Theatre.

Rosie Holt – That’s Politainment! (Pleasant Courtyard)

⭐⭐⭐

In which character comedian Rosie Holt satirises Brexit voting, GB news presenting, Laurence Fox loving political/media types like Nadine Dorries  and Julia Hartley Brewer.

Deserves credit for attempting something meta and ambitious rather than vanilla and linear. All she needs now is a suitable TV vehicle and a sharp comedy writing team. Oh -and she’d be a brilliant guest on Have I Got News For You. 

Does Chiswick need a Law Enforcement Team like Hammersmith?

Image above: Officers for Hammersmith & Fulham’s Law Enforcement Team

Chiswick’s neighbouring borough has a special unitary team to help tackle anything from shoplifting to littering

Last week The Chiswick Calendar spoke with dozens of traders along Chiswick High Road, Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road and discovered a dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick’s shops.

The Daily Mail followed up with a piece headlined:

‘Fortress Chiswick: How affluent suburb that is home to rich and famous has fallen victim to terrifying crime wave.’

Shop owners, managers and sales assistants told me they felt intimidated and vulnerable by the actions of some of these brazen thieves, many of whom are “regulars” who are known to police and shopkeepers already.

READ ALSO: Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

Traders said they felt totally abandoned by local police and are having to take the defence of their shops into their own hands, looking for ways to tighten their security measures independently.

Shops are now hiding or disguising valuable stock, operating a locked door policy letting only a few people in at a time, or considering hiring private security services to deal with the rising ride of shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.

Chiswick has neighbourhood community police, but traders say they are not available enough to tackle the issue of theft in shops.

How do neighbouring boroughs deal with shoplifting and other forms of criminal anti-social behaviour?

Hammersmith & Fulham set up a dedicated Law Enforcement Team two years ago – a group of uniformed officers paid for by the council, who offer a level of support against shoplifting and tackling antisocial behaviour that Chiswick does not have.

On Monday (21 August) I went out on patrol with the central Law Enforcement Team in Hammersmith to find out how they work.

Images above: LET officer Darran Reece and senior LET officer Junell Rahman, inside Hammersmith and Fulham’s CCTV control room

A new way of working 

In April 2021, H&F Council created the Law Enforcement Team (LET), which is one of the largest such teams anywhere in Britain.

It is a ‘unique’ group of men and women acting as the council’s eyes and ears as they seek to drive down environmental crime and anti-social behaviour. The ‘number one priority’ of the LET is to help keep H&F’s residents and visitors safe.

Junell Rahman, Senior Law Enforcement Officer for LB Hammersmith and Fulham told me:

“It was a combination of all the services, Hammersmith and Fulham council had a load of different departments. We had parks police, neighbourhood wardens and we had environmental street scene people so we combined all of those services into one.

“We found we worked better as a combined service and can deal with more of a variety of issues that’s raised with residents and businesses.”

The service comprises 72 uniformed staff who patrol the borough day and night, seven days a week in three shifts: an early shift which is between 7.00am-3.00pm, a late shift between 1.00pm and 10.00pm and a night team which works from 8.00pm until 7.00am. Usually the officers during the day work alone, and work in pairs in the evenings.

LET officers link in with Hammersmith BID (Business Improvement District) and the borough’s CCTV control room to help track shoplifters, deter crime and address other issues, anti-social or otherwise.

Any offences committed are communicated by security staff via radio to H&F’s CCTV control room and help coordinate police teams to apprehend the offender. Between August 2022-2023, the CCTV team assisted with 90 incidents involving shoplifters in the Hammersmith Broadway and Livat/King Street area.

The officers have a broad range of enforcement powers, though they do not have the power to arrest. Officers can, among other things, obtain the name and address of offenders, deter any drink or drug use, patrol areas where drug dealing is suspected to provide a deterrent, issue fixed penalty notices for littering, tag abandoned bikes for removal, engage with and make referrals for rough sleepers or beggars, enforce by-laws and public space protection orders, support local businesses… and deter anti-social behaviour.

Images above: Graph showing crime distribution in Hammersmith and Fulham – where reported instances of shoplifting increased from 3.84% in 2020 to 3.89% in 2022 (left), contrasting graph showing crime distribution in Hounslow – where reported instances of shoplifting jumped from 2.43% in 2020 to 3.32% in 2022; source Crimerate.co.uk 

Does their presence deter shoplifters?

Junell said “being visible and present” really helps to deter would-be shoplifters and other types of anti-social behaviour. He added their linkups with the CCTV control room in Hammersmith helps them to “diffuse the situation… or stop it from happening” should an issue arise.

But without the power to arrest, how are they able to diffuse the situation?

“So we don’t have powers of arrest and anything to do with criminal activity has to be forwarded to police but we support that. We’re the eyes and ears of the police, things that we record on our body cams as well as what we see – we give statements to the police and that helps take their workload off.

“Smaller issues such as the regular street drinkers, drug users, we sort of engage with them and as they see us out and about they’ve come to know us and what we do and they’ll either disperse from the area or stop the activity that they’re doing.”

Recently in Chiswick, a group of travellers parked on Chiswick Back Common and local traders reported they went on a shoplifting spree in the shops on Turnham Green Terrace. Traders also complained about individuals and groups of shoplifters who regularly stole from traders.

I wondered whether LET officers had assisted in any similar situations.

“Recently we have been contacted from a number of businesses that are having issues, based opposite a hostel. The hostel users are very into begging or stealing from the shops. So we have been sharing intelligence with what the businesses are finding, speaking to the businesses and seeking the images or descriptions of the regular [shoplifters] so they can put names to faces…”

Has that led to any arrests?

“Not that we’re aware, they [the Met] don’t make us aware of that. They just make us aware of anyone that’s been issued public protection notices or warnings not to be in certain areas. We have been successful in working with the police in issuing number of public protection notices that prevents them from coming into this area or into shops…”

What do shops think?

‘They are helpful’

Image above: Ryman on King St in Hammersmith

I spoke with a few shops to see whether they thought LET officers were useful in any meaningful way. Sonia Sangha, Store Manager of Hammersmith Ryman Stationary on King St – which is not inside either of the shopping centres, said:

“They try to chase them, they find them through the CCTV and then obviously report them to the police.”

The shop, Sonia said, has a radio to communicate directly with LET officers.

“They are helpful [in deterring shoplifting]. The volume of the radio, when we radio them, does seem to deter [shoplifters] because they can hear we are telling someone that they’re stealing.”

Image above: Forhad Siddique inside Superdrug Hammersmith Broadway

‘Not remotely’ useful

The shopping centres in Hammersmith have their own security staff.

Forhad Siddique, assistant manager of Superdrug in Hammersmith Broadway shopping centre, told me he usually seeks help from the security guards in the shopping centre. He said LET officers “just come in, pass through and then they leave”.

A security guard working in Boots on King Street was a bit more scathing about the LET officers. He said the officers were “not remotely” useful.

“All they did was catch me smoking once and while I was being fined half of Boots was being stolen. So no, I think they’re a bunch of jobsworths, policing on the cheap doesn’t work… they may as well pack it in and become a landscape gardener.”

The security guard, who clearly had a bone to pick with the officers, added:

“Private security do an amazing job. But these are repeat offenders and there’s a lot of regular drug users who are doing it. I saw a woman taking her trousers down so she could inject her legs with heroin in front of Boots as I was closing… that’s how severe the problem is.”

Other local councils interested in “success” of Hammersmith’s LET

Junell said there have been a lot of other councils who have been taking an interest in what Hammersmith’s Law Enforcement Team is doing.

“Theres been a lot of borough councils visiting interestingly, because now we’re two years into the role and we’re established and we’ve had lots of positive responses.”

He believes on the whole introducing LET officers has been a success.

“It definitely has, we have seen a lot of low-level crime issues resolved and we even deal with a lot of environmental measures like keeping the streets clean”

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We have taken the view that keeping people safe is always our first priority. In recent years, we have invested the largest ever amount into fighting crime and its causes and are spending more each year.

“To support the police, we have added a 72-strong H&F Law Enforcement Team. They patrol our streets, collect vital intelligence, initiate actions when crime hotspots emerge, and crack down on crime.”

Police Superintendent for Hammersmith & Fulham, Craig Knight, said:

“They are a valuable contribution to the local authority, to the local community – as a visible presence in that community. They bring valuable intelligence, they bring valuable local accountability. And certainly, I welcome those.”

Fantastic line-up of A list acting talent assemble to celebrate Richard Attenborough’s centenary at Chiswick Cinema

Richard Attenborough with Ben Kingsley on the set of Gandhi

Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Penelope Wilton, Geraldine James, Kevin McNally and George Fenton share stories of working with Richard Attenborough

The late Richard Attenborough – actor, producer, director and one of Britain’s most prolific and successful film makers, was born 29 August 1923.

Chiswick Cinema has been celebrating his centenary this year with a retrospective programme of his films, co-organised with his son Michael, who lives in Chiswick.

For the big birthday they have assembled the most amazing A-list line up of acting talent to come and talk about his work – actors who worked with him on Gandhi, Cry Freedom and Shadowlands. Tickets have just gone on sale to the general public.

Sir Ben Kingsley  is a renowned actor with a prolific career spanning film, television, and theatre. Kingsley’s breakout hit came in 1982 when he starred in Gandhi, under Attenborough’s direction.

His portrayal was a triumph, earning him an Oscar for Best Actor and catapulting him to international fame. Although he had previous performed in lead roles in the theatre with the RSC, the landmark role presented to a wider audience Kingsley’s remarkable ability to fully immerse himself in a character, and his skill in capturing the essence with authenticity and depth.

Dame Penelope Wilton is a six time SAG award nominee and two time winner, known for her exceptional performances, including in Downton Abbey, Cry Freedom, Doctor Who, Shaun of the Dead and Calendar Girls.

Wilton’s on-screen presence is characterized by her poise, intelligence, and emotional depth. Her work in films such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and Pride (2014) further underscore her versatility and knack for selecting roles that resonate with audiences.

Geraldine James M.B.E.  is a distinguished British actress and four time BAFTA-nominee, who has earned critical acclaim for her complex performances in notable works such as Gandhi, The Jewel in the Crown, Calendar Girls, Sherlock Holmes, and Anne with an E.

Like Ben Kingsley and Penelope Wilton, her dedication to her craft and the depth she brings to her characters have made her a hugely respected figure in her industry.

Kevin McNally is a British actor and writer (and Chiswick resident) who is best known for his brilliant performances in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, in which he portrays the fan-favourite Joshamee Gibbs, the loyal first-mate to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

McNally worked with Attenborough on Cry Freedom and also has appeared in De-Lovely, Downton Abbey, Turn: Washington’s Spies and Spooks.

George Fenton C.B.E. is a composer known for his prolific, skilful and influential compositions; nominated for five Oscars, sixteen BAFTAs and two Grammy’s. His notable works include Gandhi, The Fisher King, Dangerous Liaisons, Groundhog Day, and Anna and the King.

He has also accompanied acclaimed nature documentaries from the BBC, such as Blue Planet and Planet Earth for Sir David Attenborough. Fenton and Lord Attenborough shared a significant collaboration from eight Oscar winner Gandhi, through to  Cry Freedom, Shadowlands and In Love and War.

The Q&A with Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Penelope Wilton, Geraldine James, Kevin McNally, George Fenton and Michael Attenborough will be on Saturday 16 September at 7pm at Chiswick Cinema.

 

Book tickets: Richard Attenborough centenary Q&A

Chef demo line-up announced for Pub in the Park

From baking to barbeque, with a little Michelin starred pzazz along the way

Pub in the Park has revealed their menus & chef line-ups for their festival this 1-3 September at Chiswick House.

Their superb selection of award-winning restaurants have each put together a tasty menu of dishes specially for the weekend.

Each menu will have a ‘Chef’s Special’ dish (a personal take on a dish that inspired Pub in the Park chefs) and a Kid’s Dish, something simple but super tasty to tempt children.

There will be local input from The City Barge, with their Soft Shell Crab Burger, and an Oak-smoked Aubergine Naco and from Time Out’s top rated London restaurant Cue Point. From Tom Kerridge’s gastro pub there is a Curry Dog and a Vegetarian Dog.

Click here to view the full selection of menus for 2023.

An impressive line-up of top chefs, bakers & BBQ experts

If you would like to learn something about the food as well as just enjoying eating it, there is an impressive line-up of top chefs, bakers & BBQ experts coming to the festival.

The Miele Chef Demo Stage will welcome chefs to cook their favourite dishes and share top cooking tips with you. Everything from comfort food cooking with Si King, of Hairy Bikers fame, to culinary tricks from Michelin-starred chefs Tom Kerridge & Atul Kochhar.

Enjoy the aroma of freshly baked goods with star baker, Candice Brown (Great British Bake Off). Plus for the first time ever, McFly‘sDanny Jones will be donning his apron & cooking live with Nisha Parmar, private chef to celebrities.

Over at The Firepit you can enjoy smoky, sizzling BBQ sessions. Learn how to serve melt in the mouth meat with DJ BBQ and T Bone Chops, taste vegan delights at Joy Phillips’ masterclass and enjoy watching Mursal Saiq from Cue Point, cooking up mouth-watering British Afghan food.

Pub in the Park say they can’t wait to see you at Chiswick’s ‘foodie wonderland’.

Click here to view the full chef line-up.

Book tickets here: Pub in the Park Chiswick tickets

Working with Alec Guinness, Ralph Richardson and Elaine Paige – Nick Bromley

Image above: Delinquent Dad, directed by Nick Bromley, 11 October and runs through to 28 October 2023.

Simon Thomsett talks to Nick Bromley about his career as a company stage manager

Theatre at the Tabard will be hosting the premiere of a brand new comedy this autumn: Delinquent Dad: ‘a fast paced knockabout comedy about feeling older in a rapidly changing world, getting caught out and finding redemption’.

Thirty-somethings couple Matt and Cara have enough trouble on their hands with their landlord trying to get them to move out, without Matt’s dad arriving on their doorstep.

‘As Dad’s misdemeanours are revealed, hilarious mishaps ensue as the three of them dig in against the landlord and find common cause against the world.’

The play is the product of a formidable combination of local theatre expertise – directed by Nick Bromley, who has turned his hand to directing relatively recently (The Last Laugh) after a long and successful career in theatre as a company stage manager.

Simon Thomsett saw Nick as he was conducting the auditions for Delinquent Dad and asked him about his career.

Image above: Nick Bromley

Guest blog by Simon Thomsett

I bumped into Nick Bromley recently when I dropped by the Theatre at the Tabard one afternoon.  He had been auditioning actors for his latest project and he agreed to have a chat.  As you will see, he was in a playful mood at the start but he eventually opened up about a new play coming to the theatre this October…

Hello Nick, why are you sitting here in the Theatre at the Tabard on a summer afternoon?

It beats standing which I’ve been doing a lot of today as we’ve been holding auditions. I suppose the next question is why you need to stand to hold them and the answer is you don’t, but it’s always good to measure up to actors. You need to look them in the eye rather the stomach but height is a growing thing in this business.

You’ll be surprised how many tall actors have to go to Istanbul for hair transplants because they’ve scalped themselves walking through short set doors. We must be vigilant for everyone’s safety.

You are well known in the theatre business as a Company Stage Manager; in a sentence, what does that job involve?

Keeping the show afloat, dealing with sudden leaks, collisions and mopping everybody up afterwards.

You will have worked with many well known faces over the years; anyone we might know…?  

How old are you? I don’t want to mention names that will send you running for an encyclopaedia. But I’ve been very lucky to have worked with Richard Briers and Paul Eddington so that’s half the Good Life, Robertson Hare – Oh Calamity for your more mature readers, Alec Guinness, Ralph Richardson, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, Tim Piggot Smith, Simon Russell Beale, Maureen Lipman and Tim Curry. Then there’s Alan Bates, Alan Bennett, Alan a Dale – no that’s too far back . . .

Alec Guinness?  What was he like?

He was extraordinarily generous – everybody in the company would be taken, in small groups, for an after show dinner at Cecconi’s and made to feel special.  He had just finished filming Star Wars but was somewhat uncertain as to what it was about!

Our play The Old Country was about espionage and members of the intelligence service would often come round backstage at the end of the show. Of course, the hot topic was (Kim) Philby and I remember Sir Alec telling me that when he asked one particular officer what he would do if he met him again, the answer shot back: ‘kill him’.

There’s a bit of a misty-eyed view these days about Philby – but that officer believed he was responsible for hundreds of deaths.

Who was the most fun to work with? 

Orson Welles.

Go on…

He had the force of personality that would open any door, no matter what the request.  He was demanding, inspiring and charming.

What was the job?

I was one of his assistants whenever he was in London.  This was during the period that he was filming Ten Days’ Wonder for (director) Claude Chabrol as well as filming the TV adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner in which he played Sheridan Whiteside.

On top of all that, he was also setting up and filming F For Fake, and that was the one thing he wasn’t.

Who were you pleased to see the back of?

That would be telling. The thing is, one forgets most of the bad times and  CSMs are employed for their discretion. A lot of what goes on goes on behind locked doors, but I do remember things weren’t helped by an open dressing room door on one production.

The two stars of the show having got on like a house on fire at rehearsals had unlocked the door connecting their two star dressing rooms to exchange pleasantries. Then we started playing and fire extinguishers were required.  Things soon  got so bad that at one interval both left the stage bellowing at each other.

The quarrel continued to rise in volume until it could be heard on stage so I thought it high time to calm things down for Act 2.

I found them throwing fisticuffs at each other through the open doorway. I got between them rather like one of those hands-on boxing referees but suffered no injury. Neither did they, for, being acutely aware of their profiles, their punches were frankly pathetic.

When the round and the interval came to an end and beginners were called, I persuaded them to get on with the show and locked the communicating door. For the rest of the run they were reduced to shouting at each other through the keyhole but the key was safely in my pocket.

I was pleased to see the back of them of course but if you want a name and because I believe he’s safely dead, that Jerry Lewis could be a bit demanding.

So why the change now to directing? 

It gives me a chance to be demanding.

What was it like to direct The Last Laugh at this theatre last year?

Wonderful. It’s a terrific play for beneath the laughs it tackles the universal problem of creeping totalitarianism. Richard Harris who is one of our great playwrights was kind enough to allow me to direct it and gave me his generous support throughout.

READ ALSO: The Last Laugh – Review

What made you take on Delinquent Dad?  

It was that or reading Alan Titchmarsh’s poems aloud on Turnham Green. But look, we’re all delinquents at heart, aren’t we? It’s relevant, it’s new, it’s a comedy and it gives us all an opportunity to wreck the rehearsal room.

It’ll be alright on the night though, I promise. I have worked before with the producers and I’m looking forward to having  the chance of meeting the writer before too long.

What can we expect from Delinquent Dad when it opens in October?

We have a really talented group of actors on board so you’re going to see an amazing cast, all of a safe height, in an up to the minute, truthful and very funny play about modern family life that we can all identify with. Damn. Have I given too much away?  Either way book your tickets now!

Thanks Nick and all the best for the new show. 

Delinquent Dad opens at the Theatre at the Tabard on 11 October and runs through to 28 October 2023.

Book tickets: Delinquent Dad tickets

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.

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Daily Mail picks up on our shoplifting story and brings crime in Chiswick to national attention

Image above: Security camera footage of shopkeeper tackling a suspected shoplifter; Daily Mail

‘Fortress Chiswick’

After our special report last week on the dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops, the Daily Mail has picked up on the story.

In rather more florid language that we used, and picking up on several crime stories which have happened in the past few weeks, they headlined their piece:

‘ Fortress Chiswick: How affluent suburb that is home to rich and famous has fallen victim to terrifying crime wave which has seen Aled Jones threatened with machete, commuters mugged and boutique owners forced to lock their doors.’

Image above: Close up of the sign on Maverick & Wolf’s shopfront – which now has a locked door policy

Last week our reporter Matt Smith talked to shopkeepers in Chiswick High Rd, Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace and heard shocking accounts of the way they are constantly targeted by shoplifters – many repeat offenders whose faces they know.

The accounts are shocking both for the regularity of the thefts but also the brazenness of the thieves who know there is really nothing to stop them, as shopkeepers report they are getting no help from the police.

READ ALSO: Dramatic rise in shoplifting, theft and pickpocketing in Chiswick shops

Daily Mail journalist Paul Thompson wrote:

‘One of Britain’s most affluent suburbs, where houses sell for well over £1million, and is home to the rich and famous, is in the grip of a terrifying crimewave where people are mugged in broad daylight – and shoplifting is so common, boutiques have locked their doors while customers peruse the shelves.

‘Criminals are striking brazenly in Chiswick, the affluent leafy west London village, that is home to stars like David Tennant, Ant and Dec, Jeremy Vine and Clare Balding – with apparently little fear of being caught.’

Songs of Praise presenter Aled Jones was robbed in the street of his Rolex watch, worth £17,000, by a man with a machete.

READ ALSO: Aled Jones robbed of Rolex watch in Chiswick

Before the end of the school summer term there was also a spate of street robberies targeting school children and commuters:

READ ALSO: Spate of muggings and assaults targeting school students and residents in Chiswick

Image above: Natalie Everett outside of Womenswear shop Jigsaw

Police say “there’s nothing we can do”

Matt spoke to the managers of shops that have been targeted, some of which now operate a locked door policy, only letting a few customers in at a time. Krishna Ramji, general manager of the women’s clothes store Whistles told Matt:

“We had a lot of problems in the last month, especially the last couple of weeks have been quite bad”, Krishna said, “It’s something you can’t avoid. Being on the high street we don’t really have security… It’s increased a lot in the last month… when I say a lot, I would say three times a week.”

Natalie Everett, who manages womenswear shop Jigsaw told him:

“We had a really bad spell between maybe the beginning of the summer to the back end of January. I think worst thing for us is there was a group of thieves, who were clearly working together, who were targeting us loads. So much so that they would walk past the front of the shop, glare in and wave at us. They would come in sometimes and laugh in our faces.”

General Manager of Mint Velvet Sharon Powell told him a few weeks ago she had a whole rack of clothes taken.

“A guy ran in and grabbed a bunch of my dresses off the rail and just ran out of the shop, through the alleyway onto the common and then he’s gone. I reported it to the police and I reported it to my area manager, I put it on a log sheet. I get crime reference numbers but they say there’s nothing they can do.”

Matt spoke to more than 70 people working in the retail trade in Chiswick and they all told the same story.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP; photograph Anna Kunst

Ruth Cadbury MP to raise The Chiswick Calendar’s report with Metropolitan Police commander Sean Wilson

When we discussed our report with MP for Brentford & Isleworth Ruth Cadbury she said she would raised it with Sean Wilson, the tri-borough commander for the Metropolitan Police area which covers Hounslow, Ealing and Hillingdon boroughs.

Reading through Matt’s report she said:

“I am shocked by the level of it and the brazenness of the way they just walk into the shops. Shoplifting appears to be growing, which is unacceptable.

“That comes to the police. They have made commitments in ‘A New Met for London’. In my own crime survey I carried out with residents people said ‘the police should be there for us and follow up on crimes’ and we’re not seeing it at the moment.

“We’re not going to be able to address crime at this level unless we have an adequate police force.”

On the Daily Mail story she said it was “a bit embarrassing that we are deemed by the Mail to be a crime hot spot.”

Ulez scrappage scheme extension begins 

Image above: Sign showing start of Ultra low emission zone

Grants available to all Londoners from 21 August

Anyone who lives in London and has a car which is not compliant with the Ultra Low Emissions Zone is now eligible to apply for a grant of up to £2,000 to replace their car or retrofit their vehicle.

The grant became available to all Londoners on 21 August, not just those who live in the extended zone where Ulez will be enforced from 29 August.

Chiswick is already in the Ulez zone, but this would apply to anyone who has an older car which sits unused because it does not meet the Ulez requirements.

Image above: Map showing existing are of Ulez and the area to which it is being extended

Plenty of money still in the pot

The BBC reported on 9 August that more than half the fund set aside to offer car scrappage grants was still unclaimed. Transport for London (TfL) data showed £71.5m of funds remained unclaimed from an original pot of £110m.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has since added £50m more, promising that Londoners will be able access up to £2,000 to replace non-compliant cars from 21 August.

The scheme is available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can only claim from the scrappage scheme if your vehicle is not Ulez compliant and you can find out whether you have a car which is not compliant by entering the registration number here: TfL Ulez compliance search

The BBC has put together a handy page of Frequently Asked Questions

To apply for the grant go to the Transport for London website: Ulez scrappage scheme

Make yourself aware what to do if someone is in crisis – Suicide prevention free course

A 20 minute online course that might make the difference between someone you know living or dying

Hounslow Council is supporting a major national event that aims to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

In the run-up to ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ on Sunday, 10 September, the Council has joined forces with a range of partners, including North West London NHS, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust and Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham Councils to raise awareness about the issue.

In London, around ten people each week take their own lives. Suicide prevention aims to help us recognise when someone is in crisis, and to know what to do.

Working with the city-wide mental health partnership, Thrive LDN, the Council is promoting the Zero Suicide Alliance’s free online training course.

This helps people to spot the signs that someone might be feeling suicidal. The 20-minute course takes the viewer through a series of scenarios and offers guidance on opening a conversation with someone you are concerned about.

So far, more than 350,000 people across London have taken the training.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Transformation, Councillor Samia Chaudhary, said:

“The suicide awareness training is easy to access and doesn’t take much time to complete. By the end, you will be more aware of the steps you can take to support someone you know or care about who is struggling or feeling overwhelmed.

“Taking this training is an act of compassion that, ultimately could save lives. We all need to talk more about this most sensitive of subjects and make people feel comfortable with opening up, sharing their feelings and admitting they need help.”

Here’s where to take the training: zerosuicidealliance.com

Hounslow provides a Safe Space service for anyone who feels overwhelmed. Hounslow Safe Space is a local hub that offers virtual and telephone support. This free service is available to anyone who lives in Hounslow who is aged 18 or over.

The Hounslow Safe Space helpline is accessible between 11am and 11pm every day of the year at 020 3475 5185.

Unite warns of autumn bus strike

Image above: RATP London buses

Drivers and engineers ballotted on bus strikes in September/ October

Unite, the UK’s leading union, is warning that bus services in much of West and North West London could grind to a halt this autumn as workers are balloted for industrial action, due to a dispute over pay.

The dispute involves workers employed by French state owned company RATP. This includes bus drivers at the Westbourne Park garage as well as engineers at the company’s ten London garages, as well as controllers and supervisors. In total, the union will ballot around 500 workers.

The ballot opened on Monday 14 August and closes on Monday 11 September. If the workers vote for industrial action, then strikes could begin before the end of next month.

Unite’s Regional Officer for London, Michelle Braveboy, said:

“Strike action will inevitably cause severe disruption to bus passengers across West and North London, but this dispute is entirely the own making of RATP’s management. They have had every opportunity to make an offer to meet our members’ expectations but have failed to do so.”

Image above: Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham

“Poor pay offers” rejected

The workers have rejected various pay increases of between five and 6.4 per cent, all of which are below the true inflation rate (RPI) which currently stands at 10.7 per cent.

The involvement of the controllers and engineers in the dispute is significant, as if they take strike action then no buses will be able to operate from any of RATP’s ten garages.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said:

“RATP is a huge multinational company that can fully afford to pay our members a decent pay increase. RATP needs to stop dragging its feet and make our members a fair pay offer.

“Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and it always puts the jobs, pay and conditions of its members first, the workers at RATP will be receiving Unite’s total support.”

RATP have not issued a statement on the strike ballot.