Chiswick’s first street food market claimed as “massive success” by organiser

Image above: Crowds of people at Sunday’s first street food market in Chiswick; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Crowds of people turn out for Chiswick’s first street food market

Food St, Chiswick’s first street food market, has been claimed as a “massive success” by the organiser Richard Johnson after launching on Sunday (22 October).

The five-hour market in Old Market Place, outside the old police station on Chiswick High Road, showcased some of the best of west London’s street food traders, restaurateurs, retailers, growers and producers, including several who have bricks and mortar premises in Chiswick.

A diverse range of 15 street food traders joined the first market, from Mr Pig Stuff’s famous Dirty Mac to Joe and Chris’ Swedish ‘FIKA’ culture at The Mjolk Float, there was a wide choice of flavours available.

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Photographs below taken by Rosie Leyden, just as the Food St market had just opened

Indian spices, dumplings, tacos, galettes and hot dogs …

Bombayish brought Indian spices, while Hermanos Taco House served ‘timeless classics’. Ugly Dumpling lead the dumpling scene, and Potje Man offered Cape Malay delights. Amani Kitchen wowed with traditional and plant-based Arabic cuisine, and The Whistling Oyster from Devonshire Rd brought seafood and fizz to the mix.

Other Chiswick businesses there were Ma Ma Boutique Bakery, which provided gluten-free baked goods, and Mari Deli & Dining offered Italian specialities and charm.

Avila London had Venezuelan delights, Naakaa Foodiescorner served fusion dishes, Suya Boiz brought Big Naija Flava, and L’Amuse Bouche offered their speciality crepes and galettes with a twist. Oh My Dog Hot Dogs were popular too.

Richard told The Chiswick Calendar Sunday’s market was a “massive success” and that most traders had sold out, with visits from local celebrities like Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jeremy Vine and Krishnan Guru-Murphy.

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Photographs by Andrea Carnivali

Restriction on number of pitches causes overcrowding

The market was quiet at the start but quickly became very busy, so one visitor told The Chiswick Calendar:

“It was too crowded. I don’t understand why it was all bunched up at one end when there was loads of space in the car park. It should have been more spread out, like the flower market. You couldn’t see where queues began and ended, so we just gave up and went and ate in George IV instead.”

Food St was approved in August by a LB Hounslow’s Licensing Panel, but on a reduced scale from what Richard Johnson originally requested because granting the licence was contentious. It was opposed by Cllr Joanna Biddolph because she thought it would take trade away from surrounding businesses and cause smell and mess.

The Panel granted the market to go ahead for a period of three months, with a reduced capacity of 20 pitches (62 were proposed), with opening hours from 11.00am until 4.00pm.

At the time, 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 next two Food St markets will be on Sunday 26 November and Christmas Eve, 24 December.

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Photographs by Jennifer Griffiths

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New head teacher at St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chiswick wants pupils to be able to speak up for themselves

Image above: Elizabeth Keane, Head teacher of St Mary’s RC Primary School, Chiswick, with some of her pupils

New head teacher Liz Keane shares her vision for the school

St Mary’s RC Primary School has a new head teacher. Liz Keane joined the school in Duke Road in September and is already making her mark. She says she has received a very warm welcome, and she is described by parents as “a breath of fresh air.”

The school received an Ofsted inspection during the summer term and is classed as ‘Good’, with an ‘Outstanding’ score for pupils’ personal development. Under the leadership of previous head teacher Joan Harte, Ofsted inspectors concluded:

‘Leaders have high aspirations for all pupils at St Mary’s. It is a friendly and inclusive school. Pupils are proud to come here and feel supported.’

They noted: ‘The school provides exceptional opportunities for pupils’ positive personal development.’

Image above – St Mary’s with the playground in the foreground; photograph Andrea Carnevali

Teaching leadership

Ms Keane told The Chiswick Calendar she regards personal development as just as important as a child’s academic progress. She is keen to instil in St Mary’s children that they can be “the leaders of tomorrow.

“If a child is happy and settled they will achieve their full potential.”

On the table in her office are posters about inspirational leaders for Black history month – women such as Mae Jemison, the first female Black American astronaut, and closer to home, Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock from Camden, “a space scientist who was dyslexic as a child and struggled at school, but is now one of our most eminent space scientists”, and Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London, who grew up living in a Catholic children’s home run by nuns.

Although it is important for children to learn about outstanding historical figures such as Mary Seacole, it is also important for children to realise there are role models in their local community, says Liz. Opportunities to develop leadership skills within the school include being a Year Six monitor or a member of the School Council.

(I remember that at my secondary school. Every meeting we asked for soft loo paper instead of the hard, shiny Izal stuff, which was quite good for use as tracing paper but not fit for purpose in our humble opinion, as it was non-absorbent and actually quite prickly. Every meeting they said ‘no’. I hope for the sake of the children of St Mary’s their School Council is more of a listening and reactive body).

Image above: Liz Keane taking an assembly; photographs Andrea Carnevali

On Liz’s agenda – teaching children how to express themselves with confidence

Liz’s first initiative, which she has already introduced in the first half of the term, is a new focus in the curriculum on oracy.

“I want public speaking to be embedded throughout the curriculum. We have a ‘Big Talk’ assembly, performance poetry, debates, TED talks.”

“Being able to express themselves well verbally also feeds into children’s writing and develops them as critical thinkers”, she says.

Studying Philosophy is important, even for young children, so she sets ‘Big Questions’ for them to think about – the kind of question in which there is no wrong answer, such as: ‘Is it better to be clever or kind?’.

How does she handle issues such as the war between Hamas and Israel?

“We will be praying for peace”.

Being a Roman Catholic school, the curriculum content has a Catholic ethos and is approved by the Westminster diocese.

“There is an emphasis on the dignity and importance of the individual” says Liz.

Part of the Catholic life and mission is promoting charitable giving. The school has just held its harvest Festival and has taken a “huge” collection of food to the local church, Our Lady of Grace and St Edward, for distribution though Hammersmith & Fulham food bank.

“That is something I want to do every half term, not just for Harvest Festival. I recognise that families are under pressure during school holidays.”

She welcomes Sadiq Khan’s introduction of free school meals for all primary age children and would like to be able to introduce a Breakfast Club at the school.

“We don’t do that yet, but it is on my list.”

Also on her list is teaching children to examine their feelings and learn how to regulate them. Rather than just dealing with the consequences when a child kicks off, her aim is for them to “understand their emotions, to talk things through and to learn how to come to resolution themselves.”

Image above: St Mary’s overview; photograph Andrea Carnevali

Opening the school to the local community more

The school is on half term this week (23 – 27 October) and is providing a holiday camp run by Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, whose trainers also provide sports tuition during term time. For £175 (or £38 per day) parents can sign their children up for a range of activities which include football, basketball, gymnastics, rounders and tennis.

This is something Liz is planning to open out to the wider community, making the school’s holiday camps available to other children in future, not just those who go to the school.

She herself has a musical background; she plays the piano, harp, guitar (and flute “very badly”). There are specialist music teachers who provide piano, violin, viola, drums and percussion lessons (paid for by parents) and in the second half of this term she is planning to establish an orchestra.

Not musical or sporty? Children can also benefit from a range of opportunities in the Little Engineers, Street dance and Lego club, or they could learn Italian.

In an area such as Chiswick, where all the schools are rated ‘Good’ (and in Grove Park Primary School’s case, ‘Outstanding’) St Mary’s stands out because it’s a Roman Catholic School, but it also sounds like it might be a fun place to spend your childhood.

Two arrested after woman found dead in Chiswick

Image above: Police outside the house on Magnolia Road

Two arrested released on bail

A man and a woman have been taken into custody following the discovery of a body in Chiswick on Monday (16 October).

Police reports indicate that the 48-year-old woman was discovered unresponsive inside a house on Magnolia Road, near Strand on the Green, at 3.15 pm, where she was declared dead at the scene.

The death is being treated as ‘unexpected’.

The 28-year-old man and the 26-year-old woman were arrested at the house, but their arrests are believed to be related to drug-related offences and not connected to the unexpected death.

Both have been released on bail while further investigations are underway.

Following the discovery of the body, police officers remained at the property throughout the day to gather additional information and ascertain the circumstances surrounding the death.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Repair Café celebrates its first birthday

Image above: Volunteers at the Chiswick Repair Café

2,400 hours of time from 43 volunteers, repairing 433 items, saving 1.2 tonnes from landfill

The team of volunteers who run the Chiswick Repair Café celebrated their first birthday on Saturday. They have hosted nine events and during that time have registered 619 repairs and fixed 70% of them.

They reckon they have saved 1.2 tonnes from landfill, and saved 10.6 tons of Carbon emissions (using the Farnham Repair Café’s carbon calculator), not to mention increasing the happiness quotient of the Chiswick population whose prized possessions have been lovingly restored to them.

To put their achievement into perspective, says Charlotte Bullock, one of the organisers, they are proud to have saved the equivalent of 44,000 miles’ worth of carbon emissions from driving.

I am not sure the happiness quotient is measurable, but I am very happy my favourite handbag has been restored to use, at minimal cost, and another of my household is very glad to have a much loved shirt fit to wear and party in another day.

So satisfying to have a much loved possession restored

There is something very satisfying about getting something mended. Yes there is the environmental benefit of course, but it also has to do with sentimentality, nostalgia, not letting go of an object which has warm and positive associations. There is a definite feelgood factor to it all. (I don’t care if my old handbag is tatty Marie Kondo, it sparks Joy, alright?)

“We are delighted that the Chiswick Repair Café has become such a popular community initiative in just one year” says Charlotte and her team.

“It is inspiring that our event is making the repair of household goods more accessible to so many people, making it easier for people to be part of a more sustainable and less wasteful economy. We have been supported by our generous and talented volunteers.

“We look forward to continuing to provide an engaging community experience as well as a useful service to Chiswick locals.”

The team will tackle more or less anything, and have encountered “196 types of items from jackets and trousers, nutribullets and toasters, picture frames and teddies. We’ve also sharpened 162 knives and tools.”

They estimate they have saved people £29,155 (estimated cost of replacement of repaired goods).

Organisers Charlotte, Jill, Kate and Marie-Claire say they are hugely grateful to their army of volunteers: 43 volunteers have given 2,400 hours of their time to cater for the 675 visitor who have been to the Repair Café, held at Christ Church on Turnham Green once a month on Saturdays from 10.30am – 1pm.

The next session will be on Saturday 16 November.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Set to Stun – Designing & Filming Sci-Fi in West London

Images above: Gunnersbury Park Museum exhibition Set to Stun exhibits from Doctor Who

West London’s rich history of sci-fi TV and film production

If you live in Scunthorpe or Sheffield you might find yourself living next door to a retired steel worker. In Chiswick it could be a retired Doctor Who set designer or model maker.

The creative hub that was BBC Television Centre in White City, combined with the film studios at Shepperton, Pinewood and Ealing attracted a population of artists, actors and writers, but it also gave rise to a whole range of craft specialities – costume, prosthetics, make-up and model making based in west London, some of which continue to thrive here supplying the film and TV industries.

On the 60th anniversary of the BBC’s drama series Doctor Who – the longest-running science-fiction television series in the world, now on its 15th actor in the lead role – Gunnersbury Park Museum has put together ‘Set to Stun‘, an exhibition about the science fiction television and film programmes made in west London and some of the creative talent behind them.

Image above: Star Bug used in Red Dwarf seasons 3 – 7 and season 10. Designed and made by Alan ‘Rocky’ Marshall at the BBC VFX Department (1992)

Starting with the 1936 film ‘Things to Come’

“West London has an incredibly rich history of creating iconic sci-fi TV and film. From Things to Come (1936), one of the first sci-fi movies ever made, to trailblazing digital effects studios we’ve led the way in imagining the future” says curator Tom Crowley.

Things to Come, based on the book The Shape of Things to Come by HG Wells, with a screenplay by him, is considered to be one of the first great sci-fi movies, ending with a futuristic vision of the world in the year 2036.

It was made at the Isleworth Studios, (1913 – 1952), where silent film star Buster Keaton made The Invader and sequences for Cold War thriller The Third Man and Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn’s romance The African Queen were also shot. At the time it was made, Things to Come was the most expensive British film ever shot.

Images above: (L) Jeremy Bear’s original 1972 concept drawing of his design for Jaeger’s Laboratory in Skybase in the story Doctor Who – The Mutants and (R) Jeremy’s photograph of the actual set during rehearsals.

The BBC’s ‘Golden age’

The BBC’s Visual Effect (VFX) Department operated between 1954 and 2005. It was based at a series of West London locations (White City, Windmill Rd, Western Avenue and Kendal Avenue). By the early 1980s it was the largest permanent visual effects unit in the world.

Two of the creative artists who worked for the BBC in those days, whose work is shown in the exhibition, have spoken to The Chiswick Calendar about their careers – set designer Jeremy Bear, whose curator wife Griselda first suggested an exhibition to the museum, and Mike Tucker, who was for many years a visual effects designer at the BBC.

Jeremy told me: “I have lots of my work stored away from those days – drawings, slides, photographs and models.  Set to Stun is a wonderful opportunity to show some in an exhibition as part of a bigger story.”

Images above: (L) Photograph of set of Skybase corridor using NASA inspired panels; (R) Jeremy Bear working at drawing board, BBC Television Centre in 1970s; photographs Jeremy Bear

Doctor Who

Jeremy joined the BBC in 1966 as a trainee design assistant and lived in Chiswick for many years. His first Doctor Who was The Savages, an episode of the third series with the original actor William Hartnell as The Doctor.

As an experienced set designer, he created the set for the six-part story The Mutants, (1972), set on a space station from which earth overlords ran things on the planet of Solos, inhabited by insect-like creatures. Jon Pertwee was by then The Doctor. The exhibition has his original concept drawing for the space station in coloured pencil, alongside a photograph of the actors on the finished set.

He wanted his Doctor Who sets to be light and futuristic, unlike other Sci-fi designs at the time, and researched plans in development for the appearance of NASA’s International Space Station.

“I talked to NASA about the International Space Station. I had access to the mock up for it and found that in reality everything was very light.”

The development of a production like this is a collaborative endeavour.

“As a production designer you start by developing ideas from the script and brain-storming with the director and as your ideas move forward you work closely to expand the overall concept with special effects and costume designers.”

The passionate commitment of Doctor Who fans is legendary. Until very recently he has taken part in events around the country, autographing various bits and pieces of merchandise which fans brought to be signed. Recently Jeremy was invited to take part in an autographing event in Chiswick where hundreds of fans came from far and wide.

Image above: Mike Tucker building a submarine; photograph Mike Tucker

Making models to be destroyed

Visual effects designer Mike Tucker also worked at the BBC in what he describes as its “golden age”. He grew up watching Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker’s incarnations as The Doctor and worked with three Doctors: Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Matt Smith in his last episode ‘The Time of the Doctor‘. He also worked on Red Dwarf.

Mike’s models were always being destroyed, which you would think would be heart-breaking.

“I am always telling students that if you are really a model maker, you may not be suited to special effects because you are very often making models to be destroyed. The model is just a means to an end. What matters is how its destruction looks on film.”

Images above: One of Mike Tucker’s spacecraft, from initial concept sketch to the model being used  for filming; photographs Mike Tucker

Not all Mike’s work was for science fiction dramas; he has worked on docu-dramas about the Krakatoa volcano erupting and the bombing of Hiroshima as well as one on the space shuttle Columbia exploding.

“Very random acts of destruction are something that model making is very good at showing. People have lots of pictures of something before and after it has been destroyed but rarely do they have footage of how it looks as it is being destroyed.”

Images above: (L) Mike Tucker with his quarter size model of the TARDIS for the Doctor Who story ‘The Time of the Doctor’ (2013). The model was designed by Mike, made by Nick Kool. (R) Gaffer Alan Graham and Nick Kool setting up the TARDIS model for filming; photographs Mike Tucker

One of Mike’s jobs on Doctor Who Mike was to make a model of the TARDIS:

“They get knocked about as they are loaded on and off location when they’re being taken to filming locations, so every couple of years there is a new TARDIS created.”

As well as the full-sized versions the production team also needs miniature versions to shoot different scenes.

“The model stage at the BBC was about 60 by 80 feet, so the models are quite often a lot bigger than people imagine they are.”

Images above: Moon Buggy from Star Cops (1987) designed by Mike Kelt and made by Melvyn Friend, BBC VFX Department. Exhibition ‘moonscape’ and photographs by Mike Tucker

Developing new technologies

The exhibition shows how special effects for film making have developed. The BBC’s VFX unit used state of the art digital technology and were always on the lookout for new materials which were lighter and more flexible to help actors express their characters.

The 1984 series The Tripods featured three teenage boys battling alien creatures which had colonised the earth. The producers used Paintbox, then a new digital tool, which enabled them to combine footage of model Tripods with footage of landscapes.

Davros, the creator of the Daleks, is one of Doctor Who’s greatest enemies. The BBC’s VFX team created a mask for Davros from foam latex, which would be responsive to the facial expressions of the actor wearing it.

Images above: Screen grabs from the interactive ‘motion capture’ experience

Interactive motion capture experience

In the digital age animators can now give drawings the features and characteristics of real actors and make them replicate the facial movements of the actor. Digital artist Olly Walton has created an interactive experience for visitors to the exhibition to try out ‘motion capture’.

Using the face recognition tool on an iphone, the interactive experience maps your face, takes the signal from the phone and applies it to a character on screen.

Older people are interested to see the characters they remember from TV programmes they watched as a child, Tom told me, but I am guessing children will enjoy the interactive exhibits more, such as the motion capture experience and a box which you can open to smell what space actually smells like (horrible – like burnt metal, as described by astronauts).

There is also an opportunity for children to design their own sci-fi models.

Image above: Andrew Ainsworth’s shop in Twickenham with Imperial Storm Troopers’ helmets piled out outside; Set to Stun exhibition

How a kayak designer in Twickenham became the supplier of Star Wars Imperial Storm Troopers’ helmets

I was amazed to discover it was a craftsman who made kayaks, Andrew Ainsworth, who supplied the Imperial storm troopers in Star Wars with their armour. George Lucas was filming the first Star Wars film, Star Wars: A New Hope, at Shepperton in 1976.

‘A few miles away at his Twickenham workshop Andrew Ainsworth was trying out vacuum form technology to make kayaks. Soon he was using his vacuum form equipment to supply George Lucas’ storm troopers with their armour’.

Nor was I aware that Jedi Robe, based in Ealing, is the biggest supplier of Star Wars merchandise in the world.

Creature Bionics, set up by Ace Ruele in 2021, is also featured in the exhibition. ‘One of many trail-blazing practical effects companies based in West London’, the company develops creature-shaped rigs, which help performers to become different creature characters by moving in the way they would move, making digitally created creatures in films and video games more realistic.

West London also boasts one of the prestigious schools in the world for teaching makeup and hair design. Delamar Academy of Makeup and Hair, established in Ealing in 1986, ‘is the only Makeup & Hair School in the world with graduates who have won Oscars, BAFTAs, Emmys, Vogue Make-up Artist of The Year, Indian & Italian Academy and Guild Awards’.

Images above: Advanced prosthetics by the Delamar Academy of Makeup and Hair

Monsters in the drawing room

Delamar Academy’s tutors and students’ credits include Stranger Things, The Last of Us, The Witcher, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Chernobyl, and Harry Potter.

Gunnersbury Park Museum used to be the private home of the banking family, the Rothschilds, in the nineteenth century. The work of several of Delamar Academy’s graduates from the specialist course in Advanced Prosthetics is on show in what used to be the Rothschilds’ drawing room.

It is the room where Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s granddaughter Leonora’s marriage to her cousin Alphonse de Rothschild took place in 1857. If they and their guests are looking down, I would love to know their thoughts on the present occupants.

Set to Stun opened on Friday 20 October and will be on show (in various parts of the museum on several floors) until June 2024.

Open Tuesdays – Sundays (closed Mondays) from 10am – 4.30pm, booking not necessary; entrance free.

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Riverside Studios unveils autumn programme

Image above: Promotional artwork for Cages via Riverside Studios

Autumn programme has “huge range” for west Londoners

The full details of the 2023 autumn season at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios has been announced.

The season includes theatre, art, cinema, family entertainment, and events that offer audiences in west London and beyond a huge choice of experiences under one roof, along with all- day dining overlooking the River Thames.

With the genre-busting visual spectacular Cages now running in Studio 2 until January, other theatrical offerings include Trainspotting Live (18 October – 6 November), the world premiere of KT Tunstall’s musical Saving Grace (22 November – 4 December), the UK premiere of Flute Theatre’s brand new version of Pericles (8 – 13 November), a dark new comedy from Brick Fox Theatre Company Holy Sht* (6 – 17 December), and family show Jonny Feathers the Rock and Roll Pigeon (7 December – 8 January).

Image above: Trainspotting Live (18 October – 6 November)

Cinema highlights include films screenings as part of the London Baltic Film Festival (28-30 October) and the Irish Film Festival London (17 – 20 October), the 4K restorations of Oscar-winning classic Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (23-24 October) and Poltergeist (30-31 Oct) and Black History Month screenings of The Woman King (21 – 27 October) and Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes including a creative Q&A and live music to accompany (23 October).

Image above: Flowers for Mrs Harris, which runs at Riverside Studios until 25 November; L to R Charlotte Kennedy, Pippa Winslow, Abigail Williams, Jenna Russell, Harry Singh, Kelly Price, Issy Khogali, Nathaniel Campbell

‘Dive-in’ Membership scheme

Alongside these theatrical and cinematic highlights are a series of events and initiatives aimed west London’s community, including Pay What You Can screenings, Yoga Classes, Over 50s Drama Workshops, Italian Culture Club, and Parent and Toddler Creative Classes – all under the banner of the Dive In Membership scheme, which is available to any resident of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham living in Council Tax Bands A-D, living on Universal Credit or who has a child on Pupil Premium.

Creative Director Rachel Tackley said:

“One of the many things I love about Riverside Studios is the huge range of work that we present, on our stages, in our cinemas, and on the gallery walls.

“We have been so fortunate to work with some fabulous artists and producers over the last 12 months, and it has been a joy to see the venue so full and alive. So we’re thrilled to be announcing the next exciting chapter to take us into the new year and to run alongside Cages which continues to blow the minds of audiences in our main theatre!”

Meanwhile there has been no word on Riverside Studio’s longer term future. The showcase, state-of-the-art centre which opened with great aplomb just as the pandemic started, began the process of entering administration in March, citing “eye-watering” energy bills and the debt incurred by its recent redevelopment. A month later the building was put up for sale.

For Riverside Studios full listings and booking links, click here.

Appeal to identify man following series of sexual offences on buses in west London

Images above: Photographs from bus CCTV of the suspect

At least ten alleged sexual assaults on the bus network by suspect since February 2022

Officers investigating a series of more than ten sexual assaults on the bus network in west London have released images of a man they want to identify and speak with.

The offences occurred from February 2022 to September 2023, predominately in the afternoons and evenings on the bus network around Ealing, Hammersmith, Westminster and Hounslow areas.

For many of the offences, the suspect or the victim has boarded the bus at Westfield Shepherds Bush, Ealing Broadway, or Acton High Street. The suspect sits next to the victim on the bus and touches them. He doesn’t speak to them.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Brown, of the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command, said:

“We are aware of social media posts regarding this individual and appreciate the concern that these incidents will cause. We would like to assure the community that we are doing all that we can to identify and locate the suspect including increasing patrols across the bus network by both uniformed and plain clothed officers.

“While his face is covered in the images, we are hoping that anyone who knows him will recognise him or his clothing and get in touch.

“Similarly, if you believe that you may have been targeted by this man, but have not yet spoken with police, please do get in touch – at the very least so that we can know that you are okay and are being supported.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or post via X @MetCC quoting reference CAD 8412/21Sep.

To remain 100% anonymous call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit

There have been no arrests; enquiries continue.

Police make two arrests in David Ackerley murder case, Brentford

Met are investigating cause of David’s death

Police have made two arrests as they investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man in Brentford.

David Ackerley, 45 , was reported missing at around 9.30am on Sunday, 8 October. A short time later officers attended his address in Cedar Court, Boston Manor Road, where he was found dead.

His next of kin were informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.

A special post-mortem examination determined brain swelling and a bleed on the brain as the primary cause of death.

Detectives from Specialist Crime are investigating.

On Thursday, 19 October a man aged 33 and a woman aged 35 were arrested in the Uxbridge area on suspicion of murder and theft. They are in police custody.

Met appealing for information

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Grogan said:

“David’s grieving family have many questions about what happened to him, and we are now trying to provide them with answers.

“Part of this important work is building a picture of David’s life, the people he associated with and incidents he was involved in.

“We know David was assaulted outside his address in Boston Manor Road around 20:30hrs on Saturday, 30 September, during which he sustained an injury to his face that required hospital treatment. This was under investigation.

“I’m sure many people will know and recognise David from the local area. He had his vulnerabilities and people will have seen him out and about.

“Two people arrested are now in police custody, but we still need the public’s help to know more about David, or about any incidents he might have been involved in. Please contact us without delay.”

Anyone with information or material like pictures and video that could help police can submit it directly to officers via this web link: Alternatively call 101 or post @MetCC ref 0524683/23., or to remain 100% anonymous contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Recycling centre at Stirling Road set to reopen

Image above: A plan of the new recycling area in Stirling Road; image Ealing Council

Centre will host classes and community sessions on sustainability 

Ealing Council, in partnership with the West London Waste Authority, has announced it plans to reopen the recycling centre on Stirling Road, off Bollo Lane in South Acton.

Many local residents complained when it was closed, as it meant a long drive to the west end of the borough to get rid of bulky waste and recycling, but when the site reopens residents will see a very different sort of recycling centre, one which may not accept general waste or garden waste.

In a marked departure from its previous role, the site is described as being transformed into the first ‘circular economy hub’ of its kind in London. Ealing Council envisions this revitalised centre as a space where residents can engage in repairing, reusing, and recycling a diverse range of items, including electronics, bicycles, furniture, and clothing.

The former waste disposal facility will host classes, community sessions and events designed to pass on ‘valuable skills for sustainable living’. It will enable residents to both donate and buy refurbished furniture, electronic goods, and household appliances.

Additionally, the centre will provide an opportunity to rescue surplus food from going to waste. The Council is extending an invitation to local charities specialising in reuse activities within the borough to participate in the centre’s operations.

At this stage, it remains uncertain whether the site will accept general waste or garden waste, a practice previously facilitated at the recycling centre.

The recycling centre was closed by the council in November 2021, and residents were directed to the Greenford waste and recycling centre. The Greenford facility will now operate on a limited schedule, opening five days a week from Friday to Tuesday, inclusive of weekends and bank holidays, from 8.00am to 4.00pm.

Residents at the eastern end of the borough are expected to explore the Acton site for potential reuse and repair solutions.

Image above: Stirling Road Refuse and Reuse Centre

Reopening centre will contribute to making Ealing a net-zero borough

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action, said:

“We are really excited to be able to re-open the old Acton waste depot and to announce that Ealing will be home to the very first circular economy space of its kind in the capital!

“We already have a top-quality waste collection service and we are consistently in the top three in London when it comes to rates of recycling. But we need to go to the next level – we need to avoid waste in the first place and the new Acton site will hugely increase opportunities for residents to re-use, repair and recycle.

“It is our ambition to become a net zero borough by 2030, which we cannot achieve on our own. We can all be part of a circular economy and this new initiative is just the start of the council’s ambitions.”

The Council previously blamed cuts in government funding for the decision to close the Stirling Road Recycling Centre and said that the money raised was needed to cover budget shortfalls.

Hounslow councillor resigns over Labour’s stance on Israel – Hamas war

Image above: Councillor Lara Parizotto

Councillor Lara Parizotto says the Labour Party is no longer aligned with her values

Hounslow councillor Lara Parizotto has resigned from the Labour party because she says it is no longer aligned with her values on racial justice; specifically she says Labour councillors were advised not to take part in the March for Palestine at the weekend, and she no longer feels she can support the Labour Party as a result.

The Brentford West Councillor has been a member of the party since she was 18 years old and is the third youngest councillor in Hounslow. She was elected in May 2022 to represent Brentford West alongside veteran councillor Guy Lambert.

In her resignation letter she says:

‘Today I cannot represent the Labour Party. I find my values and my work on racial justice, migrants rights, allyship with queer and trans people, decolonisation and global liberation movements of oppressed people unaligned with the Party.’ 

Councillor Parizotto attended a protest in Liverpool City Centre on Saturday (14 October), where hundreds of people gathered in a ‘March for Palestine.’

According to the Reuters news agency thousands of people took part in demonstrations in London and Manchester as well as Liverpool, calling for an end to Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip, which was triggered by the killing spree in Israel by Hamas militants the previous weekend.

The marches passed off peacefully with just a handful of arrests. Many on the marches waved Palestinian flags and carried ‘Free Palestine’ placards, in reference to the conditions in which Palestinians have lived for decades, dependent on food aid from the UN and without freedom of movement beyond the Palestinian territories.

Image above: At the Pro Palestine march at the weekend

Many in the Labour Party unhappy with Leader Keir Starmer’s position

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer caused fury within parts of the Labour party when at the party’s annual conference he told  LBC radio that Israel ‘had a right to defend itself’. He appeared to say that Israel had the right to cut off power and water to Gaza.

In the widely shared clip, he was asked what a “proportionate” response would look like, to which Sir Keir replied that responsibility “lies with Hamas” and that Israel “has the right to defend herself”.

Presenter Nick Ferrari interjected: “A siege is appropriate? Cutting off power, cutting off water?”

The Labour leader replied: “I think that Israel does have that right. It is an ongoing situation.”

In this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions he also said:

“Medicines, food, fuel and water must get into Gaza immediately” because “innocent Palestinians need to know that the world is not just simply watching but acting to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe”.

The Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip estimated on Monday (16 October) than the number of people killed in 11 days of Israeli bombardment and air strikes had reached 3,000 while 12,500 people have been injured.

Israel says 1,400 Israelis were killed by Hamas, and at least 199 others, including children, were kidnapped and taken into Gaza.

Cllr Parizotto’s statement in full

Councillor Parizotto’s full statement reads:

‘I have today resigned from the Labour Party.

‘I will continue my role as an independent councillor in Brentford West. I assure residents my work will still remain the same and any ongoing or new casework can and will still be addressed. I’m proud of the results achieved locally through relationships built with residents, councillors, and local groups.

‘I joined the Labour Party in 2015. As an 18 year old, having just arrived from Brazil, working as a cleaner, living in precarious accommodation, I needed a Labour Government. I am proud of the work I did throughout the years with colleagues, friends, and fantastic candidates improving the lives of people from communities like mine and I look forward to more of these achievements.

‘Today, I cannot represent the Labour Party. I find my values and my work on racial justice, migrants rights, allyship with queer and trans people, decolonisation and global liberation movements of oppressed people unaligned with the Party. This is in no way a reflection on individual Party members.

‘Over the weekend I attended a demonstration in solidarity with Palestine, and against apartheid and occupation, which Labour councillors were advised not to attend. I cannot call out the UK Government for restricting our rights to protest without standing up for the same right on this occasion.

‘I stand as an ally to those facing any form of racism and have unequivocally done so in the past, from Black Lives Matter marches to demonstrations calling on the Labour Party to tackle antisemitism. 

‘I grieve for the thousands killed and wounded in Palestine and Israel, and the painful impact it’s had on Muslim and Jewish communities globally. Now more than ever we need to be vigilant and address the spike of Islamophobia and antisemitism we are seeing in the UK and globally. I am available to any resident who might be a victim of hatred and is looking for support.

‘My work and values will remain unapologetically pro-migrant, anti-racist, decolonial, and intersectional. At present, I feel unable to stand by my principles as a member of the Labour Party. ‘ 

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Ealing Council accused of “abandoning” residents in mould and cockroach-infested homes

Image above: Ealing Liberal Democrats with residents of Meath and Marston Courts

Meath and Marston Courts plagued by antisocial behaviour, violent crime, pests and mould

Ealing Council have been accused of “abandoning” their tenants to live in substandard properties in areas plagued by antisocial behaviour.

Residents of Meath and Marston Courts in Ealing will have to wait until 19 December for a meeting with the Council to discuss their concerns, a delay which the Liberal Democrats attribute to the Ealing Labour party kicking the problems into the long grass.

The Liberal Democrat Group called for an Extraordinary General Meeting to address issues related to anti-social behaviour and substandard housing in the area sooner, accusing the Council of prevaricating and emphasising the need for immediate safety measures.

Ealing’s Labour administration, despite its public commitment to supporting the vulnerable, is not giving priority to addressing the issues at Meath and Marston Court, say the Lib Dem councillors.

The Liberal Democrat opposition group called on Labour to provide a clear timeline within the next few weeks to offer some hope for residents. Instead, they say, Labour has scheduled a 30-minute meeting on Tuesday 19 December, just days before the Christmas break.

Image above: Marston Court

Lib Dems shocked that Labour ‘have not been prioritising these residents but leaving them in a terrible situation’

During a site visit on 29 September, Liberal Democrat Councillors Jon Ball, Gary Busuttil, and  Gary Malcolm heard residents’ first hand accounts of their distressing living conditions, which included cockroach infestations, black mould, deteriorating staircases, unauthorised access to the complex, incidents of violence, drug-related activities, and the discovery of live ammunition on the site.

Residents, including families with children, people with mental health conditions, and those experiencing financial hardship, have been left feeling neglected and abandoned, say the Lib Dem councillors. Their future remains uncertain as Christmas approaches, leaving them in limbo.

One of the residents, Paula Aleksandros, staged a protest at Ealing Council offices in June, refusing to leave and spending the entire night there as she was so frustrated with her living conditions. She demanded to speak to someone in charge and remained determined, despite the presence of police and security guards.

Paula, a 31-year-old mother of two, went to the Council’s offices because she said she had been assaulted by drug dealers who trade openly in the street outside where she lives.  She sent her ten-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son to live with their father because she said their living conditions were so unsafe.

READ ALSO: One woman protest at Ealing Council over poor living conditions

Ealing’s Labour administration is now under scrutiny for its approach to housing issues. In January 2015 Labour approved the construction of temporary modular housing at three sites in the borough: Borders Walk Hanwell, Hope Gardens Acton, and Westfields Lodge Acton.

These repurposed shipping containers were placed on disused garages in Hanwell or open spaces in Acton, initially intended to be temporary solutions. Almost a decade later, there is no clear exit strategy in place, raising concerns about a lack of long-term vision in addressing housing issues in the borough.

Critics argue that Labour’s approach, including the allocation of green spaces for tower blocks, has led to concerns about increasing housing density. The Liberal Democrat opposition group on the council suggest will benefit corporate entities while only providing a small proportion of discounted accommodation, falling short of meeting the needs of the council housing register.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition said:

“Liberal Democrats are shocked that Labour have not been prioritising these residents but leaving them in a terrible situation. The families feel ignored and want answers in the short term so they can have some hope for the future. The Liberal Democrats will fight until these families and residents get a proper quality of housing.”

Response from Ealing Council – they’re dealing with it

Ealing Cabinet Member for Safe and Genuinely Affordable Homes, Cllr Bassam Mahfouz, gave The Chiswick Calendar the following statement:

“I have visited and spoken to residents at both Meath and Marston Courts recently. Meath Court residents were happy to hear that they would be moved out in the coming months and understood that in the current housing crisis, that it might take some time.

“I reassured residents that we would do everything to get them moved as soon as was possible and in the meantime, have ensured that anti-social behaviour issues on the site were being tackled.

“Residents also have my telephone number and e-mail and can talk to me at any time. The Lib Dems visited Meath Court afterwards and are seeking simply to spread anxiety and make it all about their own egos, creating an opportunity for them to make speeches at a council meeting; whilst we are focused on standing up for our residents and openly speaking to them.”

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£5,000 reward to find hit-and-run driver in Hounslow

Image above: Still of video showing the BMW hitting Rajdeep Kaur

Victim now unable to walk without aid

A reward of £5,000 has been offered to find the driver of a vehicle responsible for injuring a mother and narrowly avoiding her young daughter while they were crossing a street in west London.

According to the Metropolitan Police, Rajdeep Kaur, aged 37, was thrown into the air by a silver BMW travelling on the wrong side of North Hyde Lane in Hounslow on 3 February. The incident resulted in life-altering injuries for her, while her daughter escaped unharmed.

The BMW involved did not stop at the scene, and the driver has not yet come forward. The Metropolitan Police stated that the BMW X5 was driving on the wrong side of the road to overtake another vehicle.

Although the pram being pushed by Mrs. Kaur was not directly struck, it was left in the road, posing a risk of being hit by oncoming vehicles, say the police.

Mrs. Kaur had to spend several months in the hospital due to injuries to her legs and pelvis. She now has limited mobility and cannot independently care for her daughter, who was 13 months old at the time of the hit-and-run incident.

Witnesses to the accident managed to record the car’s license plates; however, it was discovered that these plates had been duplicated or cloned.

Image above: Rajdeep Kaur

Police believe driver is local to Hounslow

Detective Constable Davina Nash, who has been leading the investigation, said:

“We believe the driver of the BMW is local to the Hounslow area and so someone will know who he or she is.”

The reward is being offered by Crimestoppers, a charity that is independent of the police.

Alexa Loukas, Crimestoppers’ London regional manager, said it was appealing directly to people in Hounslow.

“You may have heard something about the vehicle or driver involved but for whatever reason you haven’t yet shared what you know,” she said.

“If you have any information about this tragedy you can speak up and tell our charity what you know.”

Net zero brewery joins In The Drink to reduce Thames plastic waste

Images above: Volunteers at a river cleanup, Small Beer Brew’s first Stout

East London net zero brewery to help out with removing plastic from River Thames in West London

Small Beer Brew Co, London’s first B Corp certified brewery, known for its innovative lower alcohol beers, is joining forces with In The Drink, a not-for-profit community interest company working to reduce plastic pollution in our waterways caused by riverside bars and events, to combat plastic pollution in the River Thames.

The east London-based brewery, which is looking for local pubs to sell its products, launched its first stout on Monday 2 October and will contribute 5% of the beer’s revenue to support In The Drink’s efforts in reducing plastic pollution from riverside bars and events.

According to Paul Hyman, the founder of In The Drink and co-founder of Active 360 under the arches of Kew Bridge, approximately 65% of the rubbish collected from the Thames consists of food and drink packaging. He views the collaboration with Small Beer as a natural partnership, both sharing a strong focus on sustainability within the drinks industry.

The brewery is taking its commitment a step further by leading a public Thames clean-up event on 21 October at Bermondsey Beach.

James Grundy, co-founder of Small Beer, expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership, saying:

“With every can of Stout, our big-thinking Small Beer drinkers are contributing to a cleaner and healthier Thames, supporting In The Drink with their mission to reduce the amount of single-use plastic that finds its way into this great river at the heart of our city.”

Small Beer’s new Stout is the latest addition to their Small Batch series. ‘Crafted with a modest 2.5% ABV, it boasts subtle roasted barley notes and a hint of chocolate, offering a lighter take on the traditional stout’. The brewery aims to attract environmentally conscious beer lovers and those seeking a smoother drinking experience.

Small Beer Stout has been available exclusively through their website, priced at £15 for a pack of 6x330ml cans. Visitors to the Small Beer taproom will also have the opportunity to enjoy Stout on draught. For trade customers, a limited number of 30-litre kegs will be made available.

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JG Contemporary present “In Bloom”, a joint exhibition by artists Jake Andrew and Tim Fowler

Images above: From the ‘In Bloom’ exhibition opening Friday 20 October

‘In Bloom’

The artists’ gallery JG Contemporary in Churchfield Road, W3, has a new exhibition opening this Friday (20 October), featuring the work of Jake Andrew and Tim Fowler.

‘In Bloom’ is described as ‘a harmonious synthesis of the works of two celebrated artists’. Running from October 20 to November 5, 2023, ‘it unveils a vibrant tapestry of sensory experiences and offers an in-depth exploration of both artists’ use of hyper-saturation and contrast within the vast realm of gestural abstraction’.

The exhibition is a journey through the two artists’ tales, emotions and experiences, woven into an abstracted tapestry of artistic expression. It invites the audience to delve into into the vivid palettes and innovative methods employed in their studio practice by both artists.

Tim Fowler focuses on the colour field and Jake Andrew explores how audio stimuli manifest as colour, texture, and movement.

“While Fowler’s works burst with bright, intense hues, Andrew offers a physical immersion into the junction of sound and colour.” says gallery owner Jewel Goodby.

Jewel has an ongoing programme of exhibitions at her gallery in Acton, each one introduced to art lovers with drinks and nibbles and a chance to meet the artists on the opening night. She invites you to come to the opening of ‘In Bloom’ on Friday 20 October from 5 – 8pm.

Images above: Derrick Santini’s portraits of Dame Judi Dench, Alexander McQueen, Sam Smith and Jasmin Jobson


Coming up in November she has #MadeBritainGreat, an exhibition of the portrait photography of Derrick Santini, the inaugural exhibition celebrating ‘Great British Portraiture’.

#MadeBritainGreat pays homage to influential figures in British arts and humanities. The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 10 November to Sunday 3 December.

Offering a human take on ‘Made in Great Britain’, the exhibition of Derrick Santini’s photographs will showcase portraits spanning over 30 years, capturing inspiring and beautiful people who have made their mark in Britain.

“Rather than a jingoistic expression, the exhibition personifies and celebrates the rich intercultural history and diverse talents that have made Britain truly great” says Jewel.

Derrick was born in Scarborough, in 1965, but now lives in Acton. His works have been acquired by the National Gallery and shown in exhibitions worldwide.

The exhibition at JG Contemporary gallery will serve as an introduction to Derrick Santini’s work before the launch of his book and a national tour in 2024. The opening reception will be on Thursday 9 November from 5-8pm.

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Help Jack Binstead to fund adaptive padel at Rocks Lane

Image above: Jack Binstead at Rocks Lane Sports Centre; Photograph by Matt Smith

TV star Jack Binstead searching for sponsors for adaptive padel at Rocks Lane

Actor and comedian Jack Binstead, best known for playing Rem Dogg in Bad Education, plays adaptive padel at Rocks Lane Sports Centre just off Turnham Green Terrace.

Padel tennis has soared in popularity over recent years, which can be attributed to several factors, including its accessibility, the social aspect of playing doubles, and the fact that it is a fun and easy sport to learn for players of all ages and skill levels.

Jack talked to The Chiswick Calendar about the popular new form of tennis, sharing his inspiring story, his ambitious pursuit of international competition and the critical need for sponsorship to acquire a new sports wheelchair.

Images above: Jack Binstead at Rocks Lane, Jack with his coach Luke Dolphin

“I’m going to be the number one adaptive padel player the world”

Jack’s journey into adaptive padel began with an invitation from his friend and coach, Luke Dolphin, who had embraced the sport. After some initial hesitation, Jack decided to give it a try, and within a month, he was captivated. This newfound passion led him to become a driving force in establishing first adaptive padel team in England.

“One day, I just said, You know what, I’m going to come down, I’m going to have a go. And after one lesson I fell in love with the sport completely.”

Despite his background in various sports, including Team GB’s National Development squad as a teenager and England’s team for pool, Jack found adaptive padel to be the sport which best provided an escape, a sense of clarity, and a profound feeling of well-being.

“This is the one sport I’ve done in my life where I just feel at my best. It cleared my head and has done so many great things for me playing the sport, and I get that same feeling every time I get back on the court.”

Jack’s journey led him to search for a doubles partner, and he found the perfect fit in Mat Johnstone, a seasoned wheelchair tennis player. Their partnership aims to represent the UK as they compete on the international adaptive padel stage.

“The competition level, especially the Spanish players are incredibly high. You know, they’re beating most able-bodied people who can play at a high level. So I mean, these guys are top-notch.”

His hopes for the future?

“I’m going to be the number one adaptive padel player the world!”

Image above: Jack with his padel partner Mat Johnstone

Sponsor Jack to help fund adaptive padel tennis

Rocks Lane, where Jack plays adaptive padel, have recently increased the number of padel courts on site due to how popular the sport has become. As adaptive padel is still in its early stages in the UK, Jack is determined to promote the sport and gain the recognition and support it deserves.

Sponsorship is a crucial aspect of this mission, as it helps cover expenses such as training, equipment, and tournament participation.

“It allows us to go out and compete, it allows us to train and allows us to have the equipment that we need.”

Jack told me the current wheelchairs at Rock’s Lane are basic and heavy, and emphasised the importance of acquiring specialised adaptive padel wheelchairs, which enable greater mobility and better performance on the court.

Jack aspires to become the number one adaptive padel player in the world. His vision extends beyond personal achievement, focusing on the inclusivity and unity that adaptive padel can bring to people with disabilities.

“I think this is such a great sport for people with disabilities. It’s disabilities uniting people together.”

To support Jack and the growth of adaptive padel in the UK, those interested can connect with him through his Instagram account, @jack_padel or on Rocks Lane’s Instagram at @rockslanepadel.

Jack’s message to the public is simple: “Come and see us do it.” Witness their journey, be inspired, and help spread the word about adaptive padel.

Residents vent their anger at police about rising tide of crime in Chiswick

Image above: Monday’s panel with Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson (centre-right) waiting to address the crowd in Chiswick Town Hall

Met’s plan for London crime “achievable” but “might not please everyone all the time” says Hounslow police chief

In response to the increasing concerns about crime in Chiswick, residents and businesses had the chance to ask questions of the Metropolitan Police Borough Commander for West London Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson and local police officers at a public meeting on crime and policing in Chiswick on Monday evening (16 October).

A significant number of residents recounted their horror stories of crime in the area, ranging in severity from serious assaults and muggings, to defecation from suspected drug-users outside of homes and petty public nuisances.

The public meeting was the fourth of its kind, organised by Chiswick’s Conservative Councillors in Chiswick Town Hall. Local Labour Party politicians who attended the meeting included  Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury, Isleworth councillor John Stroud-Turp – who has lived near Turnham Green for over 25 years, and Chiswick’s only Labour councillor Amy Croft, who represents Riverside ward.

The meeting began with a minute’s silence for Israel and Gaza, as Cllr Peter Thompson, leader of the Conservative group and opposition leader on Hounslow Council, acknowledged the conflict affected the streets of London.

Cllr Ranjit Gill introduced the panel, which included Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, the Borough Commander, Jim Cope, the Sergeant who runs the ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’ team in Chiswick, and acting Inspector Michael Binns, the officer in charge of the Safer Neighbourhoods teams across the whole of Hounslow.

Commander Wilson outlined the Met’s London plan for crime and emphasised that it is an achievable strategy, even though “it might not please everyone all the time”.

The plan includes priorities such as strengthening neighbourhood policing, enhancing public protection and proactively addressing ‘volume crimes’, such as shoplifting. Mr. Wilson acknowledged the issues with organised crime and gangs stealing high-value items from shops and assured the audience that plans were in place to tackle these problems.

Image above: A nitrous-oxide canister is handed over to police by a resident

Residents unimpressed with police response to various crimes, a sense of hopelessness from many

During the meeting, various residents were visibly angry and upset about drug users and drug dealing, which many described as occurring openly on residential streets, near schools and in public parks.

The police officers assured the audience that they were actively addressing the issue by targeting drug dealers and making significant cash seizures, particularly focusing on the consumers of drugs, and said some of the main culprits were ‘white-collar’ users, a response echoing the Home Office’s rhetoric in recent years.

One member of the audience said that it was not the white-collar users who were making them feel unsafe in public (and sometimes in their own homes) it was predominately young people gathered in groups on street corners and brazen drug users injecting themselves or defecating outside people’s homes for all to see.

Two residents described finding human faeces in the immediate vicinity of their homes, with one woman saying a man brazenly urinated on her driveway in full view of her young son. Another man said when police see these incidents happen, they often just move the person on rather than arrest them.

Another resident expressed concern about nitrous oxide canisters found in the streets, and one such canister was handed over to the police, along with fingerprints which the resident had gathered herself from the canister. She added children were being exposed to this substance, also known as laughing gas, which is due to become a class C drug by the end of 2023.

Crime has gone up since Chiswick’s police station was closed, Borough Commander admits

One resident asked whether crime in Chiswick had increased since the police station was closed. Commander Wilson admitted it had, but said that was not necessarily because the police station had closed.

His comment was met with guffaws of laughter from the audience. Earlier in the meeting the panel had described the challenges of getting to Chiswick from Feltham, which is now where response officers covering this area are based.

Many said they believed, from local knowledge, that they knew where drug dealers were operating from and said they had passed this information onto police to no avail.

One resident shared his frustration over a delayed police response to a burglary, having to wait almost two hours despite the robbery being active at the time of the report.

A 16-year-old boy said he had been mugged on Friday (13 October) near his house in Staveley Gardens in broad daylight. The police assured the audience that they were actively working to address such incidents and had identified suspects before from that area.

They encouraged residents to continue reporting incidents and called on anyone with specific incidents to report these directly to them after the meeting.

Almost inevitably for a public meeting in Chiswick, the topic moved to cyclists. One resident claimed there had been a significant increase of young people cycling at speed along pavements which was “an accident waiting to happen” and called for the police to take the crime more seriously.

Cycling campaigner Ruth Mayorcas asked for cycle theft to be taken more seriously, as many cyclists did not have a car and this was their only mode of transport. She added many people don’t even bother reporting to the police because they assume nothing will be done.

Image above: Nicki Chapman addresses the panel

Presenter Nicki Chapman and neighbours discussed hiring private security 

Radio presenter and local resident Nicki Chapman, who was in the audience, thanked the police for taking the time to listen to the concerns of residents. She said her and about 50 of her neighbours had discussed hiring private security, because crime has become such a problem.

Ms Chapman asked if there was any way local people, those that can afford it, could give money to the police so they could install cameras or a CCTV system in neighbourhoods or crime hotspots. The panel responded saying they would enquire with their superiors and get back with an answer.

During the evening the discussion also turned to the potential use of facial recognition technology by police to assist in identifying criminals, a practice civil liberties groups consider controversial.

While Mr Wilson acknowledged there were challenges posed in using facial recognition technology, he emphasised the benefits of video and photographic evidence. He stopped short of recommending to the audience that everyone should have a video activated doorbell with the ability to record, but the Met are achieving an increasing number of convictions from this type of footage.

Image above: Metropolitan Police Borough Commander for West London, Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, addresses the crowd in Chiswick Town Hall

Lack of staff and “broken” criminal justice system to blame

Acknowledging various points made by the audience, Inspector Michael Binns discussed the challenges they faced in terms of staffing and capability, citing the severe understaffing the Safer Neighbourhoods team have faced in recent months.

READ ALSO: Police ‘Safer Neighbourhood’ team in Hounslow severely understaffed

The panel said staffing was now almost at 100% across Chiswick’s three wards and in a few months the final vacancy would be filled too. This means there would be two Dedicated Ward Officers and one Police Community Support Officer in each of Hounslow’s 22 wards.

While assuring the audience that increased staffing will mean more police on the beat and a greater presence in communities, the panel emphasised the importance of “data-driven deployment” of officers to address volume crimes, harm, and antisocial behaviour effectively.

Many residents expressed their frustration over the lack of police response to various incidents and appeared unconvinced that a full complement of staff would be enough to tackle crime locally.

The police officers emphasised the need for evidence and urged residents to report incidents to assist in the investigation and prosecution of offenders, while highlighting that the process in gathering evidence, arresting and ultimately convicting suspects is a long one.

READ ALSO: What policing in Chiswick is really like – Sergeant Jim Cope and PC Dur-ee Maknoon Tariq

Cllr Stroud-Turp addressed the audience, and claimed nothing would change until as a nation the “broken criminal justice system” is addressed. He said:

“Today the courts were told not to sentence anyone to a sentence less than six months because there’s no space in prison for them are full. We have a probation service which can’t deal with people, so all these people that the police are arresting, two, three weeks later they’re back committing the exact same crime.”

He added that until the criminal justice system is overhauled, and a “suitable alternative” is found to short prison sentences which he said “do not work” then the yearly meeting on crime organised by Chiswick’s councillors with happen “this year, next year and the year after and not one single thing will change.”

“You’ll still have people shooting up in the phone box across the road and the police will arrest them and charge them and if they’re lucky they might get a small fine and a work community order and that will be it…

“I urge you to not blame the police officers, they are doing the best with the laws at their disposal and the poor resources they have been given. We need more police officers and a fundamental review of the sentencing and prison system.”

Rise in antisemitism in London following Hamas attacks on Israel

Image above: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor 

Metropolitan Police seek guidance from Attorney General on prosecution of hate crimes

The Metropolitan Police has sought guidance from the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service on the charging thresholds for hate crime. There has been a “massive” rise in hate crimes reported to the police in London in the past few weeks, particularly in anti-Semitism.

Between 29 September and 12 October 2023 there have been 105 reports of anti-Semitic incidents and 75 anti-Semitic offences, compared with 14 anti-Semitic incidents and 12 anti-Semitic offences during the same time the previous year.

There has also been a rise in Islamophobia, the police say. During the same time-frame there have been 58 Islamophobic incidents and 54 Islamophobic offences. In the same fortnight the previous year there were 31 Islamophobic incidents and 34 Islamophobic offences.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We have seen behaviours this week that are unacceptable. They are hateful and there is no place for that in London.

“We’ve put ion a significant policing plan across the capital to support communities particularly where they are scared and where they are frightened.”

Image above: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Vital to avoid an “overspill” in London from Hamas attacks on Israel and Israeli retaliation, says Sadiq Khan

He echoed what Sadiq Khan had to say at City Hall on Thursday at Mayor’s Question Time. The Mayor of London said it was vital to avoid an “overspill” in London from the situation in Israel.

He said: “I want to place on record my condemnation of the sickening terrorist attacks committed by Hamas against Israel over the weekend. There is no justification for the murder of innocent people.

“I am acutely aware that these events have left Jewish Londoners feeling shaken and fearful. In fact, I’m yet to meet a single Jewish Londoner who hasn’t been affected.

“As well as Jewish Londoners, there are also many Palestinian, Muslim and Christian Londoners who are deeply worried about the safety of friends, family and loved ones.”

Mr Khan said he had written to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to ask that the UK Government supports calls from the World Health Organisation and United Nations “to establish humanitarian access to and from Gaza to allow the safe passage of essential supplies and humanitarian access”.

City Hall has been lit at night in the colours of the Israeli flag.

Image above: Demonstrators at the pro- Palestinian march; photograph Sky News

Police say: “Our role as an independent and impartial service is to balance the right to lawful protest with potential disruption to Londoners”

The Metropolitan Police has added extra patrols across London since the attacks by Hamas fighters on Israel, visiting schools, synagogues and mosques. More than 1,000 officers were on duty to police Saturday’s March for Palestine in central London.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets across the UK over the weekend, including in London and Manchester. The Police said 15 people were arrested for offences including assaults on emergency workers and setting off fireworks in public places. Of those 15, three have been charged with criminal offences and one has been issued with a penalty notice for disorder. Three others have been referred to Youth Offending Teams.

According to BBC reports, protesters chanted “Rishi Sunak, shame on you” and the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Last week Home Secretary Suella Braverman urged police chiefs to consider whether the slogan should be interpreted as an “expression of a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world”, possibly making it a “racially aggravated” public order offence in some contexts.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Taylor, who was responsible for policing in London this weekend, said:

“Our role as an independent and impartial service is to balance the right to lawful protest with potential disruption to Londoners. People do not have the right to incite violence or hatred. The law is clear that support for proscribed organisations is illegal.

“Anyone with a flag in support of Hamas or any other proscribed terrorist organisation will be arrested. We will not tolerate the celebration of terrorism or death, or tolerate anyone inciting violence.”

An expression of support for the Palestinian people more broadly, including flying the Palestinian flag, does not, alone, constitute a criminal offence, but there are some situations where the presence of a flag or banner or the use of specific words or phrases are seen as intimidation, intending to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He went on to say they had sought clarification from the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service on the charging thresholds for hate crime.

Image above: Israeli vigil in Parliament Square; photograph Jewish Chronicle

Vigil for Israel

Hundreds of people also attended a vigil for the victims of the Hamas attacks on Israel, to express their “deep sadness”.

Noam Sagi, whose mother Ada Sagi is among the 199 hostages including children and elderly people to have been kidnapped by Hamas, was among those to address the vigil. Some at the vigil were draped in Israeli flags with others holding signs with a message to “bring them home”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that six British citizens had been killed and ten were missing after Hamas launched the attack on Israel on Saturday 7 October.

According to Reuters news agency at the weekend, 1,300 people were killed in the attack on Israel and more than 3,000 were wounded, while the death toll in Gaza is now at least 2,215, with more than 8,714 wounded and more than 400,000 people displaced.

The war looks likely now to escalate into Lebanon as Israel evacuates its citizens from communities near the Lebanese border.

Mr Khan said: “London is the most diverse city in the world, and I urge Londoners to look out for each other in the coming days and weeks.

“There are forces that will seek to exploit the situation in the Middle East in an attempt to sow the seeds of division here. We cannot and must not let them.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

What policing in Chiswick is really like – Sergeant Jim Cope and PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq

Image above: PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq and Sergeant Jim Cope

As the Metropolitan Police faces severe difficulties recruiting new officers, The Chiswick Calendar asks two of our local officers what makes them do the job

Sergeant Jim Cope has been a Metropolitan Police Officer for 25 years, while PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq joined the force just two years ago. Jim is in charge of the ‘Safer Neighbourhood’ team that polices Chiswick and Durr-e is one of his officers, based in Riverside ward.

Jim and Durr-e talked to The Chiswick Calendar about why they chose to be police officers, how policing in London has changed and the challenges they face preventing crime in Chiswick. Both say despite all the dangers and frustrations of being a police officer, they love their jobs.

Jim has spent most of his career working with emergency response teams in Kentish Town and Camden. He was the first officer on the scene of the 7/7 bombings at Kings Cross in 2005, when a bomb went off on a Piccadilly line train just after it had left the station, one of four detonated by suicide bombers on London’s transport network, which killed 52 people and injured over 770 others.

He received the Commissioner’s High Commendation for bravery for what he did that day, giving immediate care to people coming up from the train, and entering the Underground to recover victims from the tunnels between Kings Cross and Russell Square.

“We all turned up for the night shift the next night. We didn’t realise how much it does affect you.”

He is now a great advocate for talking things out:  “After all the adrenalin it’s good to talk. I believe in it.”

One of his officers in Chiswick saved a man from suicide when he jumped off Kew Bridge, only to find him dead in his flat a year later, by his own hand, and he was devastated.

“Sergeant is good at recognising when something is wrong” said Durr-e.

Image above: PC Durr-e-Maknoon Tariq and Sergeant Jim Cope

“There is a need for people of my generation to come into policing” – Durr-e

This is Jim’s second stint in Chiswick. He has been solely concentrated on this area since June, which is when Durr-e also started working here.

She has not encountered anything quite so traumatic as yet, but has dealt with violence from drunks and prisoners.

“Your training kicks in and it works” she said.

She has also encountered racism and persecution. Her family came to Britain from Pakistan as refugees.

While Jim did not go to university, Durr-e has a degree in Pharmacology and Molecular Genetics from Kings College and an MSc in Bioarchaeology at Bournemouth University. Why would you choose the Metropolitan Police, when you planned to spend your life studying the organic remains from archaeological sites to address questions about evolution?

“I sort of fell into policing” she said. She planned to study for a doctorate, but she is one of that generation of graduates who has decided they were fed up with being cooped up under Covid and wanted to get out into the world and start doing things rather than locking herself away for further study.

“I wanted to do something that involved being outside the house.”

Durr-e has joined the Metropolitan Police under the ‘Police Now’ scheme for graduates, which is the police equivalent to ‘Teach First’ in education, a fast track scheme which allows for a career break so officers can keep their options open.

Image above: Police Now advertisement

Metropolitan Police under greater pressure and scrutiny than ever before

“I came across the Police Now scheme and spoke to the recruitment officers, who said with my science background I had the right sort of investigative mind to be a detective.”

She has already done a placement with the Home Office policy team for violence against women and girls and she hopes to train as a detective once she has put in her time and earned her chops as a Police Constable, ticking of a set of ‘frontline operational competencies’.

I asked about the Met’s reputation. Did it not put her off that the Met was under intense scrutiny following a series of scandals including the murder of Sarah Everard, the strip-search of Child Q and officers being caught exchanging racist, sexist and homophobic messages?

Her friends were wary, she said, but once she explained her motivation and described her experience with the Met so far, which she said had been positive, they have come to accept it.

“There is a need for people of my generation to come into policing. My parents are fine with it.”

Jim pointed out that the barrage of news stories about Metropolitan Police officers being charged with everything from murder and rape to sexual misconduct and fraud (100 police officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct in the last 12 months) can be seen in one of two ways.

Yes there is a lot of behaviour by police that should not be tolerated, but for those cases to be known about publicly, to have come to court or for the officers to have been sacked means their colleagues have given witness statements against them. Their behaviour has not been tolerated in the force.

Image above: The now closed Chiswick Police Station

Policing much harder without a local police station

I asked Jim what were the biggest changes he had seen in 25 years on the force. Without hesitation he said it was the amalgamation of divisions and the introduction of the Basic Command Units (BCUs).

Chiswick is now part of the West Area BCU, covering the three boroughs of Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing. In the absence of a police station in Chiswick, the response teams which cover this area are based in Feltham. The Safer Neighbourhood team is based in Acton, with one car between them.

The orthodoxy is that this has not affected response times but it is quite clear this has made policing much harder. Emergency response times for Hounslow in 2021 were on average 11.7 minutes for an ‘immediate’ emergency and an hour and 46 minutes for a “significant” emergency.

Other crimes don’t seem to get much of a look in. It is a constant complaint from the public that “the police do nothing”, be it shoplifting, street robbery or drug dealing in plain sight. I put it to Jim that neighbourhood policing seems to be the worst of all worlds at the moment – criminals can easily spot them coming, but members of the public who witness or are victims of a crime can’t get hold of them when they’re needed and the community police are just left wandering aimlessly about.

There is the odd ‘cuppa with a copper’ advertised, but I asked him why they had no base in Chiswick. Why aren’t they at the library, where Hounslow councillors hold their surgeries, or at a café or pub at the same time every day?

It’s complicated, he says. First of all there is all the gear they carry, which they can’t take off or put down anywhere that is not a properly safeguarded building. They always wear heavy body armour, the bullet and stab proof vest and a hat. They carry a radio and body camera, handcuffs, a baton, a torch, medical gloves and a ‘PAVA’.

A PAVA is an incapacitant spray similar to pepper spray. Legally it is counted as a Section 5 firearm and it if isn’t on their person it has to be locked away. You can’t just put it down on the table in a café while you have a cup of coffee.

They need the usual business equipment of mobile phones and laptops with chargers and have to have somewhere to store documents.

Then there is the issue of their personal safety. They are too exposed if the public can find them at the same time at the same place every day, unless they are in a properly safeguarded building. We used to have them. They were called police stations, but in their absence there is nowhere police officers can use as a regular base.

The Safer Neighbourhood team in Chiswick is supposed to be nine strong – two PCs and a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) in each of Chiswick’s three wards. On paper the team is now at full strength, though in practice one PC is not on active duty and two of the PCSOs work part time.

Jim would like to see his team “totally ring-fenced from other distractions.” Because of the difficulty the Met has faced in recruiting new police officers, they have had problems filling the emergency response rotas and have borrowed staff from other teams to cope.

He would also like to see them better able to respond when something happens.

“As a police officer visibility is key. I would like for us to have some kind of base in Chiswick. The community want it. We are able to be more responsive when we’re visible. We need to go back to basics more. I think we are heading in that direction.”

Image above: Chiswick’s former police station

“Now you have to be more mindful about making an arrest” – Jim

When they do carry out an arrest they whole process takes officers much longer than it used to because of the lack of proximity of a police station. The Chiswick Calendar has had emails about the lack of action when drug dealers deal openly in the streets. Apparently arresting them is not as simple as it might look.

“It took us 14 months to get a Possession with Intent to Supply conviction. You have to catch them with the weight and quantity to meet the criteria, and to get a digital download of their transactions.”

Jim and Durr-e took me through the process of arresting shoplifter Kelly Ann Moore recently. After the arrest there is the whole process of transporting and booking someone in, which happened three times in her case, as she did not show up at court on the first two occasions.

“The first time she was arrested at 4.30pm. We waited for a van – an hour or more is standard. We had to go to Wembley to charge her as that was the nearest custody suite available.

“You have to wait in custody. There are technical issues – sometimes you interview them yourself, sometimes you hand it over to another officer. You have to wait for the custody sergeant, get the case file, sometimes you need to find an appropriate adult, a solicitor…”

It was 2am by the time Jim picked her up in the team’s one and only car. (Ubers are not insured to carry firearms. If they get on a night bus they are likely to pick up more work on the way home and end up working all night).

When she failed to appear in court a warrant was issued for her arrest. Another officer, Sam Allo found her again, and by this time she had picked up another eight charges. This time they had to go to Wandsworth police station to book her in.

When it happened a third time she was taken to Polar Park police suite at Heathrow.

“I had to wait for a solicitor and it was 4am by the time we were finished” said Durr-e.

“When I used to be on Camden High Street it would take me about 30 seconds to get them back to the station. Now you have to be more mindful about making an arrest,” said Jim.

I asked if working in the Safer Neighbourhood team was seen as a more cushy option than working on a response team.

“Not a bit of it” said Jim. If anything it’s a rougher route. You are thrown in at the deep end. When I was working a response team there was never any need to ask the sergeant anything as you were surrounded by officers with 20 years experience. Now pretty much everyone on my team has three years experience or less and they are out on patrol either on their own or with a PCSO.

But it’s worth it?

“It’s a vocation” said Jim.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Road crossing outside Gunnersbury tube station to be improved

Image above: Road crossing outside Gunnersbury tube station; image Gooogle Streetview, September 2022

Crossing to be widened and signals upgraded to accommodate crowds

The road crossing outside Gunnersbury tube station is to be improved. This is something the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society has long been campaigning for. The traffic signals are to be upgraded and the crossing will be widened.

Chair of the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society Marie Rabouhans told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Having campaigned for years for improvements to the Gunnersbury Station pedestrian crossing, the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society is delighted that the necessary work is now being undertaken by TfL.

“We have recently received the following information from officers at LB Hounslow:

‘The Chiswick Business Park / Gunnersbury Station / Chiswick High Road traffic signals (25/089) are being upgraded. As part of these works the crossing outside Gunnersbury Station will be widened.

‘Each crossing will benefit from pedestrian countdown and all the signals, push button controllers, and the cabinet and power supply will be replaced as part of the works. New detectors will be added to improve the efficiency of the junction.

‘The junction refit and widening of the crossing is expected to take two to three weeks to complete and some of the works will be carried out during the night to avoid disruption to Chiswick High Road.’.”

By increasing capacity at peak pedestrian flow times, the widening of the crossing should help to deal with the crowds who spill out into the street to and from Chiswick Business Park at peak times.

Now all that remains it to add an extra platform and a lift for access to Gunnersbury tube station and the station will be as the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society would like it to be. But at the moment there is no prospect of that.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Mari Deli & Dining awarded ‘Best Italian Deli in London’

Image above: At the Italian Gusto Quality Awards, Mario and his team collected the award for Best Deli, while super-chef Georgio Locatelli took the top award for Locanda Locatelli in the Fine Dining category

And it’s right here in Chiswick …

Mari Deli & Dining on Chiswick Mall has been awarded the title “Best Deli” at the 2023 Italian Gusto Quality Awards. The announcement was made on Wednesday 11 October, during a gala dinner at The Ecology Pavilion, Mile End Park, East London.

“I was thrilled to collect the award” says Mario, owner of Mari Deli & Dining.

“It recognizes the hard work of Mama Maria and the whole team.  But most of all, I’m proud to have brought the authentic flavours of Italy to west London.”

The Italian Gusto awards celebrate the best of Italian food, wine and hospitality in London’s restaurants, delis and pizzerias as well as its wine bars, patisseries and bakeries. The judging panel included chefs, sommeliers and London food and wine experts.

Image above: Mario with his award at the Italian Gusto Quality Awards dinner

“Apparently, we were visited by an anonymous inspector,” Mario said. We have no idea when that was, but the under-cover reviewer must have enjoyed the experience.”

The honour recognizes the high quality of the cooking, the products and the friendly ambience at the popular Chiswick establishment. Part Deli and part restaurant/cafe, Mari Deli & Dining has been a hub of the Thameside community since December 2017.

The cafe -deli is also a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering a substantial discount to holders of our Chiswick Calendar Club Card.

See the offer here: Mari Deli & Dining Club Card offer

Image above: Mari Deli & Dining ‘Best Deli’ award

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Richmond Council unanimously rejects plan to replace Thames water with wastewater

Images above: Artwork of proposed waste siphon site Thames Water want to build along the River Thames

Richmond Council calls on the Government to push Thames Water to re-examine and publish other schemes

Richmond Council has stood unanimously against Thames Water’s plan to take water from the River Thames at Teddington Weir and divert it to the Lee Valley Reservoirs, replacing it with waste-water from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works.

The Council agreed to call on the Government to require Thames Water to re-examine and publish other schemes. The current proposal could impact Ham Lands and Moormead Park in St. Margarets, having a detrimental impact on local wildlife and ecosystems.

As the local planning authority, Richmond Council could have a say in the project going ahead, but Thames Water have indicated that it would prefer a decision to be made on the proposals via the Nationally Strategic Infrastructure project process, rather than locally.

Current timelines indicate planning proposals will be submitted in 2026.

View full details of Thames Water’s proposals here.

Gareth Roberts

Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council

“Better solutions are viable” says Richmond Council Leader

Speaking at a meeting of the Full Council, Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Council, said:

“We recognise the urgent need to address the water shortages we will face in decades to come, but this Council will robustly resist any plans which we consider damaging to the river and to our own land, where better solutions are viable. We need the Government to force Thames Water to tell us what the other options are and be more transparent with everyone who has an interest in this.”

Councillor Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee, moved the motion at the Council meeting, saying:

“We take our role as community leaders very seriously. And we heard from our community resoundingly.

“Swimmers, rowers, anglers and all of those who value their local parks for recreation, exercise and biodiversity as well as all those who enjoy the river have expressed concerns about the potential impact on water quality, including so-called forever chemicals, and the potential impacts of construction on sensitive locations.

“Others have shared more technical doubts about resilience, and whether this type of scheme can resist silting up at the extraction point. And there are ongoing concerns about Thames Water’s priorities in the context of sewage spills and their failure to fix leaks.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Polish expats queue down the street in Hammersmith to vote in Polish elections

Image above: BBC News journalist Kasia Madera posted this photograph and the comment ‘Long queues at polling stations in west London for Poles in UK to cast their votes in Poland’s parliamentary elections’ in her social media on Sunday.

Ilford in north London one of the places where the largest number of Polish voters registered

POSK, the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, was one of the locations for Polish ex-pat voters to cast their vote in the Polish elections. There were queues down the street in Hammersmith as they waited to vote on Sunday 15 October.

By Monday evening Poland’s liberal, pro-EU opposition on looked set to form the next government after early results and exit polls showed the ruling nationalists had lost their parliamentary majority in what are considered the nation’s most pivotal election in decades.

A smiling Donald Tusk declared victory within minutes of the polls closing on Sunday, based on an exit poll. “It’s the end of the evil times, it’s the end of the PiS rule,” he told supporters.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is a right-wing conservative party which had made attacks on the country’s judiciary, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s right to abortion. It has also been reconsidering its position on Ukraine.

More than half a million Poles registered to vote abroad in Sunday’s elections – a record number almost equal to the population of Poland’s fourth-largest city, Łódź.

Polish commentators warned that polling stations overseas could be overwhelmed by the number of voters, and the foreign ministry also issued warning messages to those registering to vote abroad that there may be long queues.

Ilford in east London had 3520 registered votes, making it the tenth largest location for votes registered after Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań, Sulejówek, areas of Warsaw, and another foreign Polish hub, Stavanger in Norway.

BBC News journalist Kasia Madera posted ‘Long queues at polling stations in west London’ in her social media, with a picture of the queue outside POSK. St Gregory’s school in Ealing and the Polish YMCA on Gunnersbury Avenue in Ealing were other west London venues where Poles living in London were able to vote.

The results are expected to be finalised by midday on Tuesday, though it may be some time before a new government is formed, as the PiS still appear to be the largest party and there is some negotiating to be done to form a coalition.

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central & Acton, has been in Poland as part of the international monitoring team overseeing the election.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Delinquent Dad review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: John Gorick as Robert, the ‘Delinquent Dad’ of the title

Theatre at the Tabard’s latest in-house production

Apparently 42% marriages in the UK end in divorce, mostly citing ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Many couples decide to call it a day once their children have grown up and left home, so the scenario of Delinquent Dad, in which a sixty something man finds himself couch surfing with his son and his girlfriend, having been thrown out by his wife, may strike an uncomfortable chord with some amongst Chiswick audiences.

The play opens with the young couple Matt and Cara preparing for Matt’s parents to come for dinner, where Cara will be meeting them for the first time. As it turns out it’s just Robert, the father, clutching a hold-all.

Image above: John Gorick and Elizabeth Back as Robert and Cara

Cara, played by Elizabeth Back, is not the nervous, unconfident type. While she is eager to please, within the confines of the social niceties of such a situation, she quickly takes charge and though having her boyfriend’s father kipping on the sofa in their small, cramped apartment is inconvenient, she forms an amiable bond with him, finding the range of unreasonable behaviours which has led him into this pickle both fascinating and entertaining, which gives her character a pleasingly unstereotypical depth.

“If you were a lot – a lot younger – I’d go there myself” she offers, a gesture received as it is meant, as a kind thought, as Robert struggles with the issue of whether he has it in him to rekindle a romance with an old flame at his time of life, when “everything aches”. (Not surprising given his height and the size of that sofa).

John Gorick plays Robert as a slightly bewildered victim of circumstance. As far as he is concerned life has conspired to land him in this mess. As he sees it, none of the colourful events which spill out as the play unfolds are of his making, caused by his own selfishness and bad judgement, and he is still half hoping the residue of his charm will see him through.

(As Cara says, you would go there, but you would most definitely throw him out once you got to know him properly and you wouldn’t want to rely on him to feed the cat, let alone look after your family finances).

Image above: Bradley Crees as Matt

Matt (Bradley Crees) is an idealistic and angry young man, who deals with his parents with tolerance and maturity, has a good relationship with his girlfriend but is waging a righteous war against the landlord, which leads us into the other half of what’s happening in this dystopian farce (is that a genre?)

There are bailiffs camped outside trying at every opportunity to gain access and evict them, while social order appears to be breaking down in the badlands of Surrey, with rioting and looting as the police and firemen strike. (It’s set “about six months from now” says producer Simon Thomsett).

Image above: John Gorick and Mark Parsons 

The fourth member of the cast, Mark Parsons, plays a shifty character, a financial adviser who appears to have had a hand in bringing about both Matt and Cara’s siege and Robert’s marital expulsion. He plays it with admirable weasliness and contributes mightily to the increasingly farcical denouement.

Delinquent Dad is great fun, moving at pace, carried along by strong performances from all the cast and a very witty script. It’s a good night out, funny, entertaining and thought provoking. Very skilfully handled by director Nick Bromley and the in-house production team.

The choice of music for the scene changes – the electronic version of Grieg’s In The Hall of the Mountain King as a nod to Peer Gynt is inspired.

Photographs by Matt Collins.

Delinquent Dad runs until 28 Saturday October.

Book tickets here:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten wins major award for her photographs of the Thames

See also: Roadworks by Chiswick Park tube station expected to cause traffic disruption over half term week

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Murder investigation launch in Hounslow

Image above: Parkside Road in Hounslow; via Google Maps

Victim identified as Naython Muir 

A murder investigation has begun after a man was stabbed to death in west London, the Metropolitan Police has said.

Officers were called to a report of a man injured in Parkside Road TW3 at 10.46pm on Friday (13 October).

A man in his 40s was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been informed and, while formal identification awaits, Police say he can be named as 43-year-old Naython Muir from Hounslow.

No arrests have been made. Anyone with information is urged to come forward.

Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, who is leading the investigation said:

“We are the very early stage of our investigation and my team of experienced detectives are working diligently to find out who is responsible and to establish the full circumstances of Naython’s murder and why he was attacked.

“I am appealing to anyone who was in the area and witnessed this incident, or the events leading up to it, to get in contact. I am particularly keen to speak to people who were in the vicinity of Parkside Road, Argyle Road and St Stephen’s Road between 10pm and 11pm – you may have seen or heard something that could assist us.

“I would also ask residents to check CCTV, dash cam and doorbell cameras to see if they have captured anything of interest. We have set up a dedicated web portal where material can be uploaded.

“Someone must know why Nathyon, also known as ‘Nayff’, was attacked – his family are devastated and are desperate for answers. If you can help, then please get in touch.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or ‘X’ @MetCC and quote CAD8926/13Oct. You can upload material including video footage here.

Proposal to build 13-storey apartment block near Hogarth Roundabout

Image above: Developer artwork of the proposed design

Proposals request permission for 170 “build to rent” apartments 

A developer has put forward a proposal for the construction of a 13-storey tower block on Burlington Lane near the Hogarth Roundabout in Chiswick.

The site owner has already secured approval to transform a disused office building, last occupied in 2016, into residential flats. Initially, the plan was for 82 units, but a subsequent application was granted, allowing an additional floor, bringing the total to 91 flats.

The latest proposition involves the demolition of the existing five-storey building to the west of the roundabout, with plans to create 170 ‘build to rent’ apartments, along with additional commercial space.

The architectural design for these new structures has been developed by the Simpson Haugh architectural practice, while the interiors will be crafted by Jaysam.

In preparation for this project, the developer has engaged in preliminary planning discussions with Hounslow Council and started a consultation with local residents.

Images above: Developer artworks of the proposed design

Developer aims to build “affordable” rental apartments

The plans are for 41% one-bedroom, 38% two-bedroom, and 21% three-bedroom units. The developer aims to include some ‘affordable’ rental apartments, maintaining a ‘tenure-blind’ approach where all residents will have equal access to the facilities and external amenities within the development.

On the ground floor, there will be a retail unit and a shared residential lobby. Workspaces will be available for tenants, alongside commercial office space. A basement car park is planned, which will offer 68 standard and 19 blue badge parking spaces.

The developer has also put forward a plan to enhance the subway under Hogarth Roundabout, improving lighting, signage, handrails, and wall tiling. Additionally, there is a suggestion to incorporate a public art and historic timeline on the walls to provide information about the site’s historical significance.

Residents of the area will have the opportunity to participate in two online consultation events. The first is scheduled for 7.00pm on Tuesday, 17 October, and the second for 1.00pm on Thursday, 19 October. Interested individuals can register for these events here.

Some residents have voiced disappointment over the absence of face-to-face presentations. The Chiswick Calendar has asked consultation organizers on behalf of the developer for an explanation but have yet to receive a response.

Following the conclusion of the initial consultation process, it is expected that the developer will submit a formal planning application before the end of the year.

Image above: Current disused building at the site

Stagecoach children from Chiswick at Pride of Britain awards

Meeting and greeting celebrities and nominees

Stagecoach students from Chiswick, Kensington and Acton/Ealing Broadway were chosen to greet celebrities and the nominees at the Pride of Britain awards at Grosvenor House on Sunday 8  October, organised by the Daily Mirror newspaper and televised by ITV on Thursday 12 October.

The awards are given to civilians who have shown inspirational leadership, courage and bravery. They celebrate the extraordinary achievements of people of all ages, from children of courage to lifesaving emergency workers, fundraisers and people who make the world a better place, in local communities and on a national or even global scale.

Images above: Pride of Britain award winners Marie Benton and Jack Rigby; photographs courtesy of Pride of Britain

The public nominate people they think worthy of an award and the winners are chosen by a panel of judges. They receive thousands of nominations. Among the winners this year were ‘the TSB Community Hero’ Marie Benton, who empowered homeless people to find their voice by setting up the ‘Choir With No Name’.

The son of Lee Rigby, the soldier murdered by Islamist terrorists near the Royal Artillery barracks in Woolwich in 2013, also won an award. Jack Rigby won the Good Morning Britain Young Fundraiser Award for raising more than £54,000 for military bereavement in memory of his father.

Images above: Pride of Britain award winners Ravi Adelekan and Freya Harris; photographs courtesy of Pride of Britain

Other winners on the night included Children of Courage Ravi Adelekan and Freya Harris, who both show inspirational bravery in dealing with life-changing illnesses.

The award ceremony was hosted by Carol Vorderman and Ashley Banjo.

Principals of Stagecoach Chiswick Sally Caitlin and Sara told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We couldn’t be more proud of our students for their behaviour welcoming guests. It was a wonderful experience to meet so many incredible people.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Questions over parking enforcement in Hounslow as Serco terminates contract

Image above: Library image of a parking enforcement officer working in LB Hounslow

Council to consider authorising negotiations with a new provider

Serco has decided to terminate its contract with the London Borough of Hounslow for parking enforcement and the Council is now looking for another company to issue parking tickets.

Serco has been responsible for issuing Penalty Charge Notices on streets and off-streets in Chiswick and across the borough of Hounslow since 2013. Although they signed a five year deal in September 2019, Serco informed the council on 6 June this year that it intended to terminate the agreement, saying it was no longer viable.

Traffic wardens went on strike earlier this year for higher wages and Servo agreed to pay them more after sustained strike action by staff.

The company said they would end their service provision in July, but then agreed to continue providing enforcement services until the end of November, pending the appointment of a new service provider. It remains uncertain whether Serco has agreed or is obliged to continue coverage if a new provider is not found.

In December 2022, Ealing Council announced its plan to bring parking enforcement in-house upon the expiration of its current contract with Serco, scheduled for March 31, 2024.

The annual value of the Hounslow contract stood at £3.6 million, yielding an income surplus of over £1 million. Serco managed ‘Civil Enforcement Officers’ and the operation and management of CCTV enforcement services.

A forthcoming meeting of the Hounslow Council Cabinet will consider authorising negotiations with a new service provider, who must assume the enforcement role by 1 December. The cost of the new contract, to be awarded by the Executive Director of Environment, Culture, and Customer Services, must fit within existing budgets.

Image above: Fixed Penalty Notices for parking

Lack of enforcement could have “potentially significant financial implications” for the Council

Typically, securing such a contract would take around 12 months but, given the circumstances, a full-scale procurement exercise is deemed infeasible. Consequently, it has been decided that entering into an agreement with a new service provider without tender is the only realistic option.

Council officers argue that this situation qualifies as an “extreme emergency” under the Regulations and can be exempted from full procurement requirements, especially since the contract termination was not a decision made by the Council.

The Council did explore the option of rejecting Serco’s termination notice and obliging them to fulfil the contract until the end of the next year. It was deemed unwise to force a contractor to provide a “critical” service unwillingly, which could compromise its quality and effectiveness.

Balancing these factors, the Council opted to maintain a collaborative relationship during the transitional period rather than entering an adversarial environment and potentially engaging in litigation with the contractor.

The interruption of parking enforcement services could have “potentially significant financial implications due to the scale of income generated via this contract,” according to the council report.

To minimise disruption and avoid a breakdown of financial controls during the transition period, the new contractor must be fully operational by December 1. Existing bases for enforcement officers in Chiswick Town Hall and Bridge Road will be made available to employees of the new service provider.

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New section of Cycleway 9 from Kew Bridge to Watermans opens

Image above: Will Norman – London’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner – on the new section of Cycleway 9

New section is part of larger extension into Hounslow

A new segment of Cycleway 9 has been officially opened between Kew Bridge and Watermans in Brentford. The latest addition to west London’s growing cycle network is a segregated, bi-directional section that stretches for 300 meters, connecting Kew Bridge and Watermans Park.

Work on this section started on 27 March and is now fully accessible. It effectively links the existing cycle track along the South Circular with a new route through Watermans Park, culminating near the arts centre.

The cycleway’s eastern endpoint, starting at the Kew Bridge junction, allows cyclists to travel in both directions along the south side of Kew Bridge Road. However, as it progresses beyond the Regatta Point Building, it shifts to a one-way track on either side of the road.

Cyclists are granted a separate signalized crossing just east of the Musical Museum. Westbound cyclists have a seamless link to the cycle path through Watermans Park.

Image above: A map of the new section of Cycleway 9; via Hounslow Council

Raised paving has been installed to physically separate cyclists from other road users, and adjustments to the layout of side-roads have been made to enhance cyclist visibility to emerging vehicles.

As part of this project, existing bus stops in the affected section have been relocated to islands, necessitating that passengers cross the cycleway to access public transportation.

Plans have already been drafted for a forthcoming extension of the cycleway that will pass through the heart of Brentford, ultimately reaching Hounslow. This future expansion promises to further enhance the cycling infrastructure in West London.

The completion of this project is expected to alleviate congestion problems in the area, which had been exacerbated by ongoing work on the A4 road.

READ ALSO: Guest blog by Michael Robinson of Hounslow Cycling Campaign on the long gestation of Cycleway 9

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Chiswick photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten wins major award for her photographs of the Thames

Image above: ‘Ophelia’ by Julia Fullerton-Batten

Gold prize in the Association of Photographers Awards project category

Chiswick fine art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten has won a gold prize in the Association of Photographers awards for her photographs of the River Thames.

‘Old Father Thames’ was a series of photographs in which she reimagined scenes from the river’s history, recreating them with elaborate care, sometimes standing waist-deep in water, balancing her camera, laptop and lighting equipment and directing up to a hundred people on her set.

The project includes recreations of Millais’ Ophelia and Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott, as well as the 1928 flooding of the Tate Museum and the stranding of a whale in 2006.

Julia was up against stiff competition in the ‘project’ category. Judge Eliza Williams said:

“the quality of work was extremely strong with a wide variety of subjects; everything from sort of documentary to work that verged into art and conceptual work. It made the judging harder, but it’s always good to have to judge between really strong work.”

Julia talked to The Chiswick Calendar about the Old Father Thames project when she was still working on it in 2018, and showed two of the series in our  exhibition ‘Chiswick Through the Camera Lens’ at the Clayton Hotel.

‘The stories encompass birth, baptism, death, suicide, messages in a bottle, riverside scavenging youngsters, quaint ancient boats, prison ships (‘hulks’), and include other melodramatic episodes of life and death in and along the Thames’ she told us.

Here are some of the pictures and below them the stories as she describes them.

Annette Kellerman – Swam the River Thames

Annette Kellerman was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville star, film actress, writer, and business owner. She arrived in the UK in 1905 aged 19, with the goal to swim the English Channel, she failed three times. However, she became the first woman ever to swim any distance on the Thames.

She swam from Putney to Blackwall, a distance of 27km. On these occasions she wore a one-piece bathing suit that she had self-designed. This was very daring and controversial as, at that time women still wore bloomers and long sleeve dresses.

Her daring apparel was duly noted and became headlines in the UK press. Two years later she was arrested in the USA for indecency as she continued her fight for the right of women to wear a fitted one-piece bathing suit above the knee.

The Thames Whale

In January 2006, a juvenile female northern bottlenose whale was found swimming in the River Thames in central London. Approximately five metres long, she weighed about seven tonnes. Her normal habitat would have been on the coast of the far north of Scotland and Northern Ireland, or in the Arctic Ocean.

It was the first time a whale had ever been seen in the River Thames since records began in 1913. Sadly, the whale died the next day from a seizure as she was being rescued. Her skeleton is now exhibited at the Natural History Museum.

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson gained worldwide recognition and became the heroine of the British population, especially among womenfolk, when, in 1930 aged 27, she became the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia. Her plane was a second-hand de Havilland Gipsy Moth bi-plane. She named it Jason. It now hangs in the Science Museum in London.

She subsequently set records for flights to Moscow, New York and Tokyo, and survived several crash-landings in doing so. As well as gaining her incredible pilot credentials she graduated from Sheffield University with a Bachelor Degree in Economics.

In 1940, at the outbreak of WW II, with 164 other female pilots, she signed up with the newly formed Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Their job was to ferry military aircraft, fighters and bombers, single-handedly to various RAF bases around the country.

‘My image illustrates the tragic death of this remarkable woman. She lost her way flying a plane in bad weather from the North of England to a base near Oxford. She had to bail out of her plane when it ran out of fuel over the Thames Estuary.

‘A minesweeper close by saw her enter the rough sea on her parachute and attempted to rescue her. The boat’s commandant jumped overboard, but was unsuccessful. He died two days later from hypothermia. Amy’s body was never found.’

Swan Upping

Swan Upping became important back in the Middle Ages in Britain. Back then, not only was the mute swan a valuable commodity and regularly traded between noblemen, but swan owners were legally bound by the Crown to mark their swans with nicks in their beaks. This activity took place annually in a ceremony called “swan upping”.

Although now largely symbolic, the event still takes place today on the Monday of the third week in July, and serves to monitoring the condition and number of swans on the Thames. The year’s new cygnets can be marked when they are reasonably well grown but cannot yet fly.

Baptisms along the Thames

Baptism is a very important activity in those faiths immersed in New Testament belief. It is a public affirmation of faith, and is done before a group of people who witness the candidate’s confession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is the rite in the Christian Church by which immersion in water symbolises the washing away of sins and admission into the Church.

For many centuries full immersion baptisms were performed by Baptists in the non-tidal section of the River Thames upstream from London. It was one of the more ancient rituals on the river. Several hundred people would congregate to watch the open-air ceremony.

‘My image was shot in the ancient town of Cricklade in Wiltshire 100 miles distant from London where the ceremony still took place on a space known as Hatchett’s Ford at the beginning of the twentieth century. Even today baptism ceremonies take place along the Thames on personal request.’

Image above: ‘Tower Beach’, where bathers used to paddle, sunbathe and swim, 1934 to 1971

One of the leading fine art photographers in the UK

Becoming a self-employed Fine Art photographer is a fairly high risk strategy but it has paid off, as Julia is now described by prominent art critics as one of the leading fine-art photographers in the UK.

Her long string of prestigious awards includes the prestigious HSBC Fondation pour le Photographie in 2007 and the European Photography, 100th Anniversary, 100 pictures that tell a story, (for ‘Marina’, Feral Children) 2016.

Her work has been exhibited all over the world, in Tokyo, Korea, China, USA and Peru as well as Europe. She has a permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery in London and at the Musee del’Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland. Her images were on the front cover of ‘A Guide to Collecting Contemporary Photography’ (Thames and Hudson, 2012). Her limited edition prints sell for up to £15,000.

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Flowers for Mrs Harris review – Riverside Studios

Image above: Flowers for Mrs Harris, Riverside Studios; L to R Charlotte Kennedy, Pippa Winslow, Abigail Williams, Jenna Russell, Harry Singh, Kelly Price, Issy Khogali, Nathaniel Campbell

Review by Simon Thomsett

If you are able readily to accept that a flawlessly generous and kind widow, struggling to get by as a cleaner in ’50’s London, can find meaning in life in the form of a Christian Dior dress, even to the point of being ready to sell the last tangible memento of her late husband to acquire said item, then Flowers for Mrs Harris, the new show at Riverside Studios may be for you.

Having been dazzled by a client’s dress, Mrs Harris sets out to acquire one of her own, whatever it takes. Reasoning that it would be “something to come home to” now that her beloved husband Albert has passed, she sets about working hard and going without to save up the necessary cash.

When the cost goes up, her determination isn’t thrown off course, she simply revises her plan and keeps going, cleaning and fixing things, “shirt by shirt, shawl by shawl…” and gradually works toward her goal, to travel to Paris and make the longed for purchase.  Along the way there are setbacks and dilemmas, but Ada, with old fashioned grit is resolute (of course she is) and refuses to give in.

Image above: Hal Fowler and Jenna Russell

Jenna Russell’s performance as Ada Harris is a powerful fulcrum, drawing other characters in and out of her quietly controlled world, in which she is pursuing her single-minded obsession. As the ghostly presence of Albert, Hal Fowler matches her and their scenes together are warmly believable.

Her closest friend, Violet is played with gusto by Annie Wensak, even if her part occasionally falls into cliched char lady territory. Indeed, the whole ensemble, all of whom bar Russell, double up convincingly and are in good voice, their sung parts coming across with clarity.

Image above: Annie Wensak (left) and Jenna Russell (right)

Musically, the score is undemonstrative, but delicate and easy on the ear.  The sound design is first class although the decision to hide away the small band seems a little bit of a shame.

Nik Corrall’s set is an impressionistic amalgam of house fronts with a central revolving section, one side of which contains Ada’s kitchen where most of her domestic drama unfolds.

Image above: L to R Abigail Williams, Hal Fowler, Jenna Russell, Harry Singh, Issy Khogali  

It is strangely drab for a wish fulfilment musical, but additional detail in the form of the dresses on show during Ada’s Parisian  trip and the famous flowers themselves add welcome splashes of colour.

Overall, although there are moments that threaten to drift too far into a condescending view of its working class characters, Jenna Russell’s central performance holds it all together as it moves towards a satisfying, if perhaps a rather saccharine conclusion.

Images above: Charlotte Kennedy; Nathaniel Campbell; Charlotte Kennedy

Photographs by Pamela Raith.

Flowers for Mrs Harris, the musical by Richard Taylor and Rachel Wagstaff based on the book by Paul Gallico, is on at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from Tuesday 10 October until Saturday 25 November. Directed by Bronagh Lagan, Musical Director  Jonathan Gill.

Book tickets: Flowers for Mrs Harris

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.