Ealing Council proposes removing Conservation Area status from Beaconsfield Estate

Public Consultation on Ealing’s Conservation Areas

Ealing Council is conducting a public consultation on possible changes to Conservation Areas across the borough. Two of these areas are in Chiswick: Bedford Park and Acton Green.

In the Council’s newly published reports they recommend the removal of the Beaconsfield Estate Conservation Area, which is between Acton Lane and South Parade (opposite Acton Green).

Acton Green / Beaconsfield Estate

On Acton Green they say:

‘The Common with its mature trees and railway embankment behind it, are the dominant features of the area. St Albans Church is the major landmark and focal point of the area.

‘The Conservation Area has a diverse architectural heritage but mainly from the 19th and 20th century, with Victorian terraces, turn of the century mansion flats and the Victorian Church of St Albans and the late Victorian/Edwardian pub of the Duke of Sussex.”

The Council’s reasoning for removing the Beaconsfield Estate Conversation Area is:

‘This modern estate (1970s) is very different in character from the rest of the Conservation Area which are Victorian or Edwardian in nature. It is considered that the inclusion of this estate on the basis of its architectural and historical association is no longer justified.”

The properties affected by the proposed change are:

-1-29 (consecutive) Disraeli Close

-1-25 (consecutive) Winston Walk

-1-36 (consecutive) Clement Close

-1-31 (consecutive) Gladstone Road

-129-139 (odds) Acton Lane

Bedford Park

For Bedford Park the Council is proposing to include more of Fielding and Blandford Road into the Conservation Areas, as their research shows the houses in these roads were built around the same time (1880/1881).

Their report says:

‘Research indicates that the houses in these sections of the roads are the same period and architectural style as the eastern sections and were built at around the same period (1880 or 1881).

‘Whilst Ormbury Lodge is a later development, the original plot and houses on this site have historical and architectural significance and links to the development of the estate and its architecture’.

The report argues its inclusion would tidy up the outline of the Conservation Area, providing a straighter and better-defined boundary edge to the Conservation Area along The Avenue, thereby encompassing the entire block at western end of Fielding and Blandford Roads up to The Avenue.

‘The Inclusion of these properties within the Conservation Area will also help ensure that their fabric can be preserved and enhanced in the future.’

The properties affected:

-38-68 (evens); 35-55 (odds) Fielding Road

-38-50 (evens) Blandford Road

-33-43 (odds) and 40-56 (evens) The Avenue

-Flats 1-57 (consecutive) Ormsbury Lodge, The Avenue

The consultation deadline is 31 January 2024 and written responses should be sent to localplan@ealing.gov.uk.

Ruth Cadbury slams Home Secretary for undermining Police

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP

Suella Braverman’s comments in The Times “fuelling divisions among communities”

Ruth Cadbury has slammed Home Secretary Suella Braverman for an article she has written describing the Metropolitan Police as “playing favourties” when it comes to the force handling protests.

In the article, which she wrote for The Times, the Home Secretary wrote that officers were guilty of “double standards” and “played favourites when it comes to demonstrators.”

There has been a widespread backlash to Suella Braverman’s comments and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak under increasing pressure to sack her.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) the MP for Brentford & Isleworth described the Home Secretary as:

“undermining our police chiefs, attacking their operational independence & fuelling divisions among communities.”

There is a large Pro-Palestinian march planned for Saturday (11 November) and there have been fears expressed that the Armistice Day remembrance ceremony could be disrupted.

Suella Braverman said:

“I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza.

“They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists – of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland.

“Also, disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”

Image above: Suella Braverman; photograph UK Government

Home Secretary “using her position as Home Secretary to audition to be the next Conservative leader”

Earlier in Parliament, Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary accused the Home Secretary of: “picking fights with the police for headlines” and “running an endless Tory leadership campaign.”

Ruth Cadbury echoed Yvette Cooper’s comments on her ‘X’ post, saying:

“She is using her position as Home Secretary to audition to be the next Conservative leader. Yet Rishi Sunak is too weak to sack her.”

On Sunday, the Football Lads against Extremism group has promised to “protect the Cenotaph” and has urged fans to stand “shoulder to shoulder.” They have asked football fans not to come “tooled up” as “we’re better than that.”

Other football fan groups have said they have coaches of people coming to London this Sunday for the proceedings that take place in Whitehall.

In a statement the Football Lads Alliance group (thought to be directly linked to Football Lads against Extremism) has said that:

“Suella Braverman has a chance to show the country and the taxpayers that the police are still answerable to her, and not merely a private army at the beck and call, of a a man deemed to be a threat to National Security, to use for his own political gain.”

This is thought to be aimed at Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan who said the comments made by Suella Braverman were: “irresponsible, stokes divisions, in danger of dividing communities, reinforces stereotypes and makes sweeping generalisations.

“There are some amongst us who are trying to sow the seeds of division. The far-Right are now organising on Armistice Day. They do encourage violence. They are anti-Islamic. We have seen a massive increase in anti-Semitism but also an increase in Islamophobia.

“The job of politicians like the Home Secretary, myself and the Prime Minister is to support the police in doing their job but also address people’s fears rather than play on them. I am afraid the Home Secretary is playing on the fears of the Jewish community rather than addressing them.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Bus strikes planned for west London in November and December

Image above: Buses in Chiswick High Road; photograph Ian Wylie

Bus drivers to strike for six days over the next two months

Unite has announced planned strike actions set to affect several bus routes in London on two days in November and four days in December. The strikes will primarily impact west London, with some routes expected to see little or no service during these disruptions.

Strikes will take place on 10 and 13 November and 1, 4, 22 and 23 December. Unite said the industrial action will escalate if the dispute is not resolved.

There will be a limited or no bus service on the affected routes from approximately 5.00am on strike days until 6.00am the day after each strike. Additionally, other local bus, Tube, and rail services in the west London area may experience higher demand than usual.

The workers are based at the Westbourne Park Garage and constitute approximately 1.5% of London’s overall bus services. The strikes will impact the 13, 23, 28, 218, 295, 414, 452 and N28 routes.

The majority of London’s bus network will operate as usual during the strike days. Many of the roads will still be served by buses on alternative routes. Transport for London (TfL) say they are making every effort to minimise the disruption caused by the strike.

TfL advises customers to plan ahead, allocate extra time for their journeys, and check for updates before travelling.

Image above: Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham

Disruption is inevitable, says Unite

TfL say have appealed to both Unite and RATP in order to seek a resolution to the dispute.

Louise Cheeseman, TfL’s Director of Buses, offered this statement:

“If this action goes ahead, there will still be travel options for people in west London and other parts of the capital. Other routes may be busier than normal, and we’re encouraging everyone who might be affected to plan ahead, allow extra time for their journeys, and check before they travel using our website or the TfL Go app.

“We encourage both parties to find a solution to this dispute to avoid disruption to Londoners. We’re sorry for any disruption to people’s journeys.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

“RATP is a massive multinational company. It can absolutely afford to table an acceptable pay increase and does not to need to attack workers’ terms and conditions.

“Unite is totally focused on defending and improving our members’ jobs, pay and conditions. The workers at RATP have their union’s total backing during these strikes.”

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said:

“Strike action will inevitably cause disruption to passengers but this is entirely the fault of London Transit and RATP’s management. They have had every opportunity to resolve this dispute but have failed to do so.”

For further information on the strike and tools to assist in planning journeys see: TfL Strike Information.

Government propose legislation to ensure 40% service levels during train strikes

Image above: A shuttered Tube station during a strike

Train, ambulance and Border Force services to be covered by new legislation

Train operators in the UK will soon be compelled to ensure that at least 40% of a standard timetable remains operational on strike days. The proposed law, introduced to Parliament on Tuesday (7 November), aims to mitigate the disruptions caused by strikes across the transport sector.

The minimum service level regulations have been designed to safeguard “certain priority routes” and maintain essential transportation services, but it remains unclear which specific journeys will be covered.

The Government has announced similar rules will be extended to Border Force, requiring them to maintain staffing levels that ensure their effectiveness remains consistent during strikes. Ambulance services in England will be also subject to minimum service regulations.

The UK has witnessed a series of strikes in various sectors, including rail, education, and healthcare, driven by discontent over the failure of wages to keep pace with rising inflation and changes to  working conditions. These strikes have resulted in significant disruptions across England and Wales.

The Government says implementing minimum service levels is a necessary step to ensure that essential public services continue to function during strikes. They describe these measures as “effective and proportionate”. Critics describe the move as cracking down on dissent and an attack on the fundamental democratic right to protest.

The move comes after the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act earlier this year, which faced strong opposition from trade unions. Unions argue that such regulations are unworkable and threaten the right to strike.

Image above: Trains at Northfields Train Depot

Unions decry plans as “undemocratic”

Maryam Eslamdoust, head of the TSSA transport union, said the legislation would not work and would only “inflame industrial tensions”. She added:

“Moreover, it’s undemocratic and a direct attack on the right to strike which is at the heart of British democracy.”

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT union, said:

“We believe employers have the discretion not to issue minimum service work notices and, as such, we are calling on them not to issue them.

“Any employer that seeks to issue a work notice will find themselves in a further dispute with my union.”

GMB, Unison and Unite also criticised the measures, arguing they would not solve the problems in the NHS.

Labour, which has said it would repeal the legislation, said the Government was “getting their excuses in early for Christmas”.

Ruth Cadbury writes to Foreign Secretary over Gaza aid

Image above: Ruth Cadbury speaking in the House of Commons

Innocent Palestinian civilians are not to blame for the actions of Hamas”

Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury has written to the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urging him to ensure vital aid can reach the civilian population in Gaza.

Ruth wrote it was important to ensure that aid such as fuel, food and medical supplies can reach the civilian population. In her letter she specifically called for the Government to increase the amount of aid reaching Gaza, to appoint a UK wide coordinator for aid and to deploy UK medical and support teams to Gaza.

She also wrote about the impact of the war on the civilian population, especially on the 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza and the large number of children trapped in the region.

The MP, who is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Prisons, Parole and Probation, is a Quaker for whom pacifism is a core belief, but in line with the Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer’s stance on the war between Israel and Hamas she stopped short of calling for a ceasefire:

‘‘It has been heart-breaking to watch the awful scenes from Gaza and the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in front of our eyes every hour, with many injured and killed. Hospitals are running out of fuel, vulnerable patients are unable to get medicine and we are seeing hundreds of thousands of people being displaced from their homes.

“We need to see humanitarian corridors open up so that more aid can enter Gaza and so that people are able to safely access much needed support. While it is welcome that some trucks have been able to enter Gaza and a few civilians have been able to cross the border into Egypt, it is clear that much more access through the Raffa crossing is needed as a matter of urgency.

“Innocent Palestinian civilians are not to blame for the actions of Hamas . There is no justification for attacks on civilians and they should not be targeted by military action. Israel must follow international law in full and Hamas must release all the hostages as a matter of urgency, and must be condemned for their attacks on Israeli civilians.

“I know from the hundreds of messages I have received from people across our borough just how worried and concerned people are about the attacks on civilians. It will be a particularly hard time for those who have friends and family who are trapped in Gaza.

“I want to reassure people locally that I will continue to urge the Government to do more to ensure that aid can reach civilians in Gaza.’’

Houses in Grove Park evacuated after grenade scare

Image above: Found in a bungalow in Grove Park; picture from Lexie Carducci 

“With a bit of Googling we found out it was from circa 1963 from the French/Vietnam war”

Houses in Grove Park were evacuated and a road closed after what was believed to be an unexploded hand grenade was found on Monday morning (6 November).

The discovery was made by Lexie Carducci in the loft of a bungalow beside Grove Park Bridge. Police arrived and closed off Grove Park Gardens after being called at 11.42am.

Ms Carducci posted on social media:

“So, the most mad thing has happened on our Monday morning.

“A grenade was found in the bungalow which we’ve lived in for five years, which has been in the bungalow since we’ve been living there, so we had to call the police, they’re sending out a bomb squad, they have to do a controlled explosion on it …

“I just can’t believe we’ve lived there for five years with a live grenade in the loft.”

A police car and van arrived at the scene and officers knocked on the doors of neighbouring properties to inform residents of the situation, asking those closest to the scene to leave while an assessment was made.

Images above: Police at Grove Park on Monday; via Instagram

“What you really don’t want to find on a building site”

The good news was that police identified the ‘hand grenade’ as a dummy. Ms Carducci posted updates on Instagram, including: “What you really don’t want to find on a building site.

“We bought this bungalow off someone who had lived in it since 1980 and it’s about to be demolished so actually the grenade could have done my job for me. With a bit of Googling we found out it was from circa 1963 from the French/Vietnam war.”

Chiswick School in UK top 10% for developing their students’ potential

Image above: Chiswick School

Chiswick School in top 2.6% for science subjects

School performance tables recently published have placed Chiswick School in the top 10% nationally for developing their students’ potential.

Schools were assessed on the basis of the ‘Progress 8’ score, which measures the improvement in child’s performance from leaving primary school to taking their GCSEs, essentially showing the ‘value-added’ to a child’s development provided by the school.

Chiswick School achieved GCSE results significantly above the national average, with a particular strength in science subjects, according to data from the Department for Education. For science subjects, Chiswick School was in the top 2.6% of the country with many students staying on at the sixth form to study Physics and Mathematics.

More than 500 visitors went to Chiswick School’s open evening earlier this month, with many current students interested in staying on at the school’s sixth form.

Images above: Students at Chiswick School

Mr Williams, the Director of Sixth Form said:

“I was delighted to meet so many students from all over London who had travelled to hear about Chiswick School. We are becoming known not only for academic excellence but also for the many opportunities we offer students, excellent facilities and the friendly nature of students and staff”.

The school’s drama department was recently informed it had been shortlisted for the third year in a row for ‘Outstanding Drama Department of the Year’ in the Music and Drama Awards. Mr Robinson, who leads this area, has to wait until February to see if the school wins.

Mr Moxon, the Head of Music, will be attending the prestigious Pearson Teacher Awards later this month. His silver award was presented to him by Gillian Keegan, the Secretary of State for Education, which then qualifies him to move to the next round with the possibility of a gold award- the highest award available.

Karen Emmet, a member of the senior faculty at Chiswick School, said:

“We are so proud of Tommy and Zach and all the teachers at the school, they go above and beyond to ensure that the students at Chiswick School have access to the most amazing activities as well as teaching them brilliantly.”

The Long Goodbye (1973) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

The Long Goodbye (50th anniversary)  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Private investigator Philip Marlowe helps a friend out of a jam, but in doing so becomes implicated in his wife’s murder. There will be a screening of The Long Goodbye to mark the film’s 50th anniversary at Andrea’s Film Club at Chiswick Cinema on Tuesday 14 November 2023 at 8pm, followed by a talk by Andrea and a discussion.

Crime stories are often the subject of modern re-imaginings and remakes. The allure of crime, the intricate plots, the twists and reveals, the complex characters and detective narratives, combined with the timeless appeal of iconic characters such as Hercule Poirot or Philip Marlowe, has always given filmmakers a rich source of storytelling material that is hard to resist.

Recently for example there has been a resurgence of Poirot stories, thanks to Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded film adaptations.

The world of Marlowe however, does not seem to have been graced by the same level of attention. The most recent cinematic offering (unoriginally called Marlowe), released last year, directed by Neil Jordan and starring Liam Neeson in the titular role, tried to recapture the magic, but ended up being a real snoozefest. Dull, even-paced, with an over-complicated plot, laden with red herrings, genre clichés and gratuitous explicit violence in which paid disservice to the otherwise very interesting main character.

Philip Marlowe represents the quintessential hard-boiled detective, navigating the gritty and morally murky world of crime in mid-20th century Los Angeles. With his sharp wit, determination and his sense of justice, Marlowe captivated audiences for decades.

Of course, the most iconic portrayal was by Humphrey Bogart in the 1946 film The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks. Bogart managed to bring Marlowe to life with a unique mix of cynicism, wit and charm and in the process, he made him one of the most iconic and timeless detectives of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Which probably explain why Robert Altman’s attempt to modernise Marlowe and transport him to the gritty Los Angeles of the 70s in The Long Goodbye didn’t quite connect with the people at the time and resulted in massive flop, both commercially and critically.

Today, 50 years later, the film is not just seen as a daring reinvention of the character and the film noir genre in general, but a thought-provoking and a subtle critique to the cultural values and shifts of 1970s. Altman utilises the detective genre as a vehicle to reflect on this changing society.

The film’s bleak and subversive tone invokes the sense of disillusionment for the era. (The film feels clearly like a response to the mood created by the Vietnam war, Watergate, Nixon, even though there is hardly a reference to any of them). It was probably all too much for contemporary audiences back then.

Altman’s signature style characterised by constant moving shots makes the audience feel like they are voyeurs in the action. It’s as if we are all spying through the lens of the cameraman.

His collaboration with master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (who would later win an Oscar for Spielberg’s Close Encounters) brings an extraordinary visual quality to the narrative, creating an almost mesmerizing atmosphere.

The film’s lighting, the camera movements, and sound design, the overlapping dialogue all contribute to the overall immersive experience, drawing viewers into Marlowe’s world with captivating detail.

As for the main character himself, Altman’s bold reimagining of Marlowe defied the traditional detective archetypes up to that time in the most unexpected ways.

Here he is portrayed almost as a loser by an extraordinary Elliott Gould. He is both absurd and strangely compelling. Today, his classic “it’s fine by me” line, the way he lights his cigarettes and his whole demeaner in general, are just as iconic as Bogart’s take on the character.

The Long Goodbye is a cinematic gem as well as an enigma that continues to captivate, intrigue and even shock audiences even 50 years later. A subversive and thought-provoking film that demands rediscovery and reappraisal. The Chiswick Cinema will hold a special screening of the film on Tuesday 14 November at 8pm introduced by me and with a discussion afterwards.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Remembrance Sunday 2023 in Chiswick

Images above: David Beresford (R) with the film director Dr Gareth Jones, whose great-uncle Cdr Walter Sterndale-Bennett DSO is remembered on the panel behind them; last year’s Remembrance service at St Michael & All Angels Church; the war memorial on Turnham Green

Remembering David Beresford, who worked hard so that those who lost their lives in the two World Wars would be remembered

Guest blog by Torin Douglas

St Michael & All Angels Church, Bedford Park, is marking Remembrance weekend this year with an exhibition in memory of David Beresford, its former archivist and churchwarden who led the St Michael & All Angels Church World War 1 Project, tracking the lives of the 128 people named on its war memorials. David died on the last day of 2022 at the age of 82.

The church’s Choral Requiem Mass service on Remembrance Sunday, November 12th 2023, will begin at 9.45am to be followed by the procession to the Bedford Park Memorial Seat. All are welcome to attend.

Image above: The memorial seat outside St Michael & All Angels Church 

Chiswick Women in War

The exhibition ‘Chiswick Women In War’ will focus on three women named on the memorials and other Chiswick women with remarkable war stories

  • Violet Long OBE, the only woman from WW1 on the St Michael’s war memorials
  • Violet Long’s sister, Florence Leach – Controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
  • Mabel Harmer, the only woman from WW2 on the St Michael’s war memorials
  • Lotte Moore, who died in July this year, and wrote the play Lotte’s War. See obituary by Nicholas Bromley:
  • Anthea Craigmyle and her mother Molly Rich, whose WW1 letters form the basis of A Vicarage in War, illustrated by Anthea and published ten years ago in 2013.
  • Pat Davies, who was 100 this year and won the Legion d’Honneur for her ‘listening’ work linked to Bletchley Park.

From 2014 till 2018, to mark the centenary of WW1, David Beresford created illustrated panels which were displayed in the church, commemorating those who had died in each of the years 1914-1918. The stories of all 128 are told in detail on the St Michael’s WW1 website, with maps and details of the roads where they lived.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Charities warn of spike in homelessness expected in the run up to Christmas

Image above: A homeless person asks for help; library image

An additional 50,000 people may be made homeless by the end of the year 

As the Christmas season approaches, there is growing concern about a significant surge in homelessness in London. New data reveals a shocking increase in rough sleeping, painting a bleak picture for the capital’s most vulnerable people.

We have been looking at the latest figures provided by local councils and talking to local charities which support homeless people, and the situation appears dire.

A national homelessness study by charity Crisis and Heriot-Watt University, shared with ITV News, reveals that nearly a quarter of a million households in England, including London, are experiencing some form of homelessness: rough sleeping, sofa-surfing, or staying in unsuitable temporary accommodations.

The most recent figures from the information network CHAIN indicate that during the period between July and September 2023 a staggering 4,068 people were counted sleeping rough on the streets of London. This marks a worrying 12% increase compared to the same period in 2022, representing the highest quarterly rough sleeping count since records began.

London Councils, through the Local Government Association, are sounding the alarm, warning that the homelessness crisis is spiralling out of control. Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, expressed deep concern about the situation. He said:

“This spike in rough sleeping numbers is the latest evidence of London’s worsening homelessness crisis. After several years of solid progress in reducing rough sleeping, it is devastating to see rough sleeping skyrocket to a record high. Local support services are under immense pressure and the situation is spiralling out of control.”

Some key factors driving the surge in rough sleeping are the cost of living, the housing crisis, specifically the lack of temporary accommodation being provided by local authorities, and an increasing number of people leaving Home Office accommodation, such as hotels, after receiving decisions on their asylum applications as the Home Office seeks to clear its backlog of undecided cases.

Joanne MacInnes, Director of the refugee charity West London Welcome told us the Home Office is “rushing through” decisions to meet their target of clearing the backlog by the end of the year. Her charity, as a result, are now more than ever in desperate need of landords with a flat or spare room who can rent at the housing benefit rate.

The repercussions of this, she says, are that many people are being evicted from their accommodation before they have had a chance to organise work or benefits, or to find a place to live in the private market. It could see an estimated 50,000 extra people being made homeless by the end of the year

Image above: A homeless man in London; library image

The reality of homelessness in London

London faces some of the most severe homelessness challenges in the country. Rough sleeping is the most visible form, but an estimated 170,000 homeless people in the city live in temporary accommodation provided by their local boroughs. This equates to one in 50 residents of the capital, and shockingly, one in every 23 children.

London Councils say they cannot cope with the demand. They are calling for comprehensive policy action to address these homelessness pressures. This includes an uplift in Local Housing Allowance housing benefit for low-income private renters and increased Homelessness Prevention Grant funding for local support services.

The Local Government Association is also urging the government to extend the 28-day ‘move on’ period to 56 days to help prevent refugees and asylum-seekers from becoming homeless.

Iain Cooper, CEO of The Upper Room charity, described some of the challenges the charity is facing during the Christmas season. The demand for The Upper Room’s services has been steadily increasing. They are now providing more than twice the number of meals they were in January 2022.

“We are a symptom of a growing problem here,” Iain told The Chiswick Calendar, “and what we do at The Upper Room is a downstream service for things that happened, like the rise in no-fault evictions and the challenges in the private rental market.”

Iain noted a large portion of the charity’s service users were in insecure employment, unemployed, or have low or no earned income.

“If they’re not in accommodation that’s housing association, local authority, or secure in some shape or form, their landlord can decide to evict them if they want to charge more rent,” Iain added.

“On an immediate level, there needs to be much more support in the provision of emergency overnight accommodation. In the longer term, there needs to be a fix around the availability of social housing and affordable rents.”

Image above: Iain Cooper The Upper Room’s CEO, Home Secretary Suella Braverman

Home secretary’s comments on criminalising homeless people in tents “totally immoral”

The recent proposal by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to restrict the use of tents by homeless individuals has sparked a furious response from homeless charities and many from the general public.

Advocates for homeless people, including Iain Cooper, have voiced their disgust about criminalising those seeking shelter, especially during the winter months. Iain said:

“I wouldn’t say this is a political point because I think it’s a point more about common decency in humanity. Whatever flavour of government might be in, trying to criminalise providing somebody with shelter when they’ve got no where indoors to sleep, any time of year but a winter particularly, is potentially hugely harmful.

“If we have another cold snap… December last year we had all those snows, so if you’re saying to a charity like ours… ‘I’m sorry it’s now illegal for you to give somebody a tent’… that is dehumanising, a huge issue for me… on just a totally immoral scale.

“Nobody chooses to sleep in the rain, or to sleep or the frost, or the snow.”

Iain suggested various ways the public can make a positive impact in the lead-up to Christmas.

Donations of warm clothing, one-man tents, sleeping bags, and cash contributions are highly valuable. Cash donations are of course useful too, so charities can allocate funds where they are needed most, including purchasing essential items.

“Please don’t get sidetracked by the dehumanising commentary that we’re seeing in the last couple of days, there’s there’s still good that you can do. I’m sure on a human level, you wouldn’t want one of your relatives or family, friends to be to be homeless and sleeping rough – so just bear a thought for that person and what would you do if it was your relative.”

To make a donation, of cash or winter clothing, especially coats, or for information on volunteering with The Upper Room or if you are a landlord with a flat or spare room available to rent at the housing benefit rate West London Welcome, go to their respective websites at theupperroom.org.uk and westlondonwelcome.com. For landlord-specific queries email West London Welcome at hello@westlondonwelcome.com.

Robberies in Barnes passageway by Chiswick Station a frequent occurrence

Image above: Barnes passageway; photograph Anna Kunst

Police say there have been a number of arrests resulting in charges

There have been a number of robberies in Barnes passageway, which leads from near Chiswick Station on Burlington Lane to Barnes Bridge.

Following a spate of robberies in July three people have either been charged or their case is with the Crown Prosecution Service. There have been other robberies there as recently as a few weeks ago. Police have charged two more suspects with a further nine robberies and they are looking for two other suspects captured on CCTV.

Sergeant Jim Cope

There is “proactive work going on in the background to reduce crime in Chiswick and that though not always ‘visible’ officers are working hard to investigate offences and bring offenders to justice” says Sergeant Jim Cope, who runs Chiswick’s Safer Neighbourhood team.

“The group of individuals who were responsible for these [later] robberies were captured on nearby CCTV however were not known to police. Police tracked their routes before and after the robbery and knew that they were not from the local area.

“From these in-depth CCTV trawls we managed to get facials which we otherwise would not have got as they were heavily masked near the offence location. We put this out to colleagues in all policing areas and no one knew who they were.

“A proactive covert patrol was established under Operation Asil, an operation set up specifically to target robberies in the area.”

Plain clothes officers were then able to make two arrests and charge the suspects with nine robberies. They are still looking for the other two people in the CCTV footage.

“This is clear message to the offenders that this will not be tolerated” says Jim. “Please be assured that our linked series team, based out of Acton, are working hard in order to reduce crime in the area, specifically robberies and aggravated burglaries.

Image above: (L to R) PC Sam Allo; Cllr jack Emsley; Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council

Residents from Staveley Rd Gardens told the Police and Council are considering ways of making the passageway safer longterm

Since the capture of the individuals responsible for the recent spate of robberies, there has been a drastic reduction in robberies occurring along this passageway, but residents at a meeting at Chiswick Cricket Club on Friday night organised by Cllr Jack Emsley were not convinced this reprieve was not just a temporary fix. They want both the Police and Hounslow Council to do more to make the passageway safer.

The meeting came about after Alex Oliviera, a teenager who had been robbed in the passageway, spoke out at last month’s Town Hall meeting on crime in Chiswick. His mother Ania spoke to Cllr Emsley after the meeting and requested an update on what was being done to make the passage safer.

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

Ania and about 30 other residents of Staveley Gardens met PC Sam Allo and Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council. Jane Mills, Deputy Head of Chiswick School, whose students have been targeted, was at the meeting, as were representatives of Chiswick Hockey Club who use the passageway to get to their ground in Dukes Meadows.

The Police said they had given several recommendations to LB Hounslow to improve safety along the passage, including trimming the hedge, reducing access to the passageway via gates along the route and introducing CCTV. They have also suggested a designated enforcement officer, either from the Police or the Council to patrol the alleyway after school has finished.

Matt Duncan reported to the meeting that Hounslow Highways could not cut overgrown shrubbery from the railway as it belonged to Network Rail, but said they had requested Network Rail to do it.

There are currently seven ‘permeable routes’ out of the passageway (gates, alleys etc). Reducing these to one designated route, clearly signposted, is under consideration, as is CCTV. Matt Duncan confirmed he had commissioned a ‘full audit’ of the passageway to assess whether CCTV would be effective and where it could be deployed

PC Sam Allo told the meeting the Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team had also requested a ‘Nomad camera’ to be placed down the passage (a rapid deployment CCTV camera). He also said Police had stepped up patrols along the passageway.

Matt Duncan explained that “LBH Enforcement Team do not cover non housing estate footpaths. Highways Enforcement Officers have only authority to enforce against Fly Tipping on the Highway.”

We reported in August that Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat was “open to discussion” about a borough-wide enforcement team to help protect shopkeepers and the public from theft and antisocial behaviour, following our piece about the Local Enforcement Team run by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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

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

Cllr Emsley has told The Chiswick Calendar he is intending to keep tabs on developments and follow up the actions the Council and the Police have promised to take.

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“The Police are more interested in raising money for the Government than they are in protecting the public”

Guest blog by Ann Crighton

I am a criminal barrister with thirty years’ experience of both prosecuting and defending, who now specialises in motoring offences.

Regrettably I have come to the conclusion that the police are spending the majority of their time prosecuting people for what most of us would consider minor offences and ignoring crimes we care more about, such as street robberies, burglaries and shoplifting.

The job of the police has become one of revenue collection – taking money from hard working members of our community who very often are unaware they have committed an offence, because they are easy to prosecute, rather than going after criminals who in the legal jargon leave their house with ‘mens rea’, the intention to be dishonest or to do harm.

Let me give you some examples. Yosef Garusi is a hard-working computer technician who lives in Chiswick. You may have seen him zipping about on his unicycle, which for the past eight years he has been using to visit clients. He finds it an efficient, economical and environmentally friendly way of getting about.

During the past eight years he has been seen by local police officers using his unicycle and has even stopped and chatted to them and to community support officers, who have shown no sign of disapproval.

A few weeks ago he was using it in Hyde Park when an officer stopped him and confiscated it. PC Windheuser (shoulder number 24RO or 24PO) also decided to prosecute him for riding it without insurance.

No-one from the police had ever mentioned insurance to him before. Not only was he unaware he needed it, but it is not possible to get insurance for a unicycle because it is impossible to fix a registration plate on it and impossible to tax it. It is not recognised as a mechanically propelled vehicle by the DVLA.

The situation regarding electric bicycles and scooters is confusing. When people go into a shop and buy one they very often unaware that it is unlawful to use them on a public road without insurance, but the Catch 22 is that it is impossible to get insurance.

Over the past few years I have seen many people prosecuted for riding a privately owned electric bicycle or scooter without insurance but I have never yet seen anyone prosecuted for riding a unicycle without it.

Yosef’s unicycle has been seized and he was told it would be destroyed within 14 days (long before the case came to court). It cost him £1,000. The Police have told him he will be prosecuted for driving without insurance, in which case, if he is found guilty he will be looking at a fine (usually about £800) and six points on his licence.

The Police spend endless hours prosecuting cases like this. I think most people would prefer them to spend their time on what I think most of us would regard as more serious crimes: robberies, burglaries and shoplifting.

Compare Yosef using his Unicycle to go to work to the case of Lynne Gothard – another Chiswick resident and a defence solicitor (i.e. someone who knows the law). Burglars entered her house in the night and even entered her bedroom when her and her husband were in bed.

Her son was also robbed in the streets of Chiswick; one of the robbers had a skeleton mask on his face and put a knife to his throat. What was the Police reaction on both occasions? “We were treated as complete time wasters” says Lynne.

Generally the Police will not spend time on thieves, burglars or robbers but I can assure you they will spend time on YOU if you make the slightest error. I wonder if they have been tasked specifically with prosecuting cases which will raise revenue.

I can give numerous examples of clients being prosecuted for having no insurance when they have fully comprehensive insurance. How, you may ask? People buy insurance without realising that their journey to work may not be covered.

I have had clients who have spent hundreds (or thousands) of pounds on insurance, who have been stopped by the Police and asked where they were going and they have given the honest answer: “to work”. The officer then said: “your insurance does not include commuting” and they have been prosecuted for driving without insurance.

If they had known they were committing an offence they are likely to have answered “to Tesco”, or something equally innocuous, not “to work”, so evidently they were unaware they were breaking the law, yet instead of receiving a warning they have been prosecuted.

The Police will prosecute a person that is say 50 years old with NO convictions, NO cautions and a clean driving record, but that law-abiding, hard-working person may end up with a speeding ticket on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and those speeding tickets will all say driving at 24 mph.

He has driven down that road for decades and it has always been a 30 mph speed limit. It changes, he fails to notice, and five speeding tickets arrive at once, meaning he will have totted up 12 points and liable for a six-month disqualification.

That disqualification may mean he loses his job, but as lots of people lose their jobs when they are disqualified from driving, he would not be able to make a successful case for Exceptional Hardship.

Whilst those with ‘mens rea’ – a ‘guilty mind’, who go out with the intention of being dishonest and causing harm – the burglars, the thieves, the robbers, go free, we can all rest assured that we are safe from a man who set out with no intention of breaking the law, who is going about his business on a unicycle!

Ann Crighton is a criminal barrister with her own chambers – Crighton Chambers – who specialises in motoring law.


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The Chiswick Calendar freebie – a Collectors Pack of Vintage Ale

Images above: Fullers Vintage Ale Collection Pack

Strong beers with complex characters

We have a Collectors Pack of Vintage Ale from the Fullers Griffin brewery to give away this week. Three bottles of their much sought after Vintage Ale – this year’s limited edition plus a bottle of the 2022 and a bottle of the 2021.

The Vintage ales are designed as strong beers with complex characters, using the best ingredients available at the time.

This year’s brew ‘combines the best of traditional tastes with new hop varieties to deliver this year’s own distinct character. Pale Ale malt is at the heart for delicate sweetness, combined with DRC®, a Double Roasted Crystal malt, to provide deeper toffee and raisin tones’.

It highlights modern English hops, using Opus, Archer, and CF185 ‘to provide peach accents and a pronounced citrus note, underpinned by the zesty marmalade character of our famous Fuller’s yeast’.

To be in with a chance of winning the collection, which retails at £32, just answer this question:

The Griffin brewery has been creating a new Vintage Ale recipe every year for a number of years now. In which year did they start producing their annual Vintage Ale?

Send us your answer to info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk with ‘Vintage ale competition’ in the subject box. We will select a random winner from the correct answers to reach us by midnight on Wednesday 8 November. The winner will need to go and pick up their prize from the Griffin brewery shop at 160 Chiswick Ln S, W4 2QB.


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Brentford 3, West Ham United 2

Players and fans salute the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal’s Last Post

Hammers’ bubbles burst

Three matches, three victories, nine points – that’s all it took to see the Bees emerge from the doldrums into Premier League sunshine.

Following a three-nil limbering up against Burnley – even the presence of celebrity Alastair Campbell couldn’t disguise the Lancashire club’s deficiencies – followed by the courageous 2-0 turnaround against Chelsea, the Bees resumed their pattern of invariably getting the better of the pride of East London.

On this occasion they managed it with a much-needed goal by Neal Maupay, who hadn’t scored a PL goal since last September (for Everton) and must have been thinking he’d lost the knack. He has played well in his few appearances for Brentford this time around so here’s hoping ending the famine will make him even more potent in future.

Thomas Frank’s problems with an injury list as long as Matthias Jensen’s best throw, from close to the corner flag into the goalmouth, is by no means over, so it was especially welcome after 11 minutes when Maupay – lurking in the visiting penalty area like good centre-forwards do – nodded a deflected effort by Frank Onyeka past keeper Lukasz Famianski.

Jensen, Mbeumo and Wissa poised as West Ham’s Emerson takes a throw-in

As Bees’ keeper Mark Fekken had tripped and fallen when clearing the ball a few minutes earlier, only to extend a leg to push it towards safety, the mass exhalation of relief at Maupay’s goal was almost audible.

But the home crowd’s contentment was dampened within a few minutes with what was to be the goal of the game. Michail Antonio supplied the accurate cross for Mohammed Kudus to unleash an acrobatic volley that gave Flekken no chance of interfering. And when Jarrod Bowen, another centre-forward of the old school, put West Ham 2-1 ahead after 26 minutes, heads were not especially high when, after seven minutes added, the teams repaired for their cocoa or lemonade.

There had already been signs of Brentford’s irritation at having fallen behind – Mbeumo contributing two fizzers of shots that sadly fizzed wide – and after the break it was good to see the Bees continue where they had left off, but more so for all concerned other than Flekken, whose earlier bruising and fall when slapping the ball away must have had lingering effects.

Thomas Strakosha departed the bench to cope satisfactorily with everything that came his way, although this was not very much. Brentford, with their dander up, began to make inroads on a defence that seemed to grow shakier by the minute. After ten minutes of the second period a bout of ping-pong in the visitors’ goalmouth ended with defender Konstantinos Mavropanos getting into a muddle that ended with him heading into his own goal.

Ours! : West Ham’s former Bee Said Benrahma faces Ajer and Collins

The smart money was now going Brentford’s way, or would have been if the smart money had any sense. After 69 minutes Nathan Collins arrived at speed in the opposing penalty area and got his head behind Jensen’s grade-A cross in the manner of Ethan Pinnock at Chelsea the previous week. Collins’ first PL goal for the club was celebrated in the manner of Maupay’s earlier score, although perhaps not quite so gleefully as Neal.

Unsettled West Ham manager David Moyes patrolled the technical area like a caged tiger until referee Thomas Bramall trotted over to issue a yellow card. Admonishments were handed out here and there by Mr Bramall, the spirited singing of We’re Forever Blowing Bubbles faded and died in the visitors’ stand and Thomas Frank made a few substitutes, including that of Jensen to the accompaniment of prolonged applause from the cheerful home fans.

Wait for it: Janelt calculates just the right moment to release the ball

Former Bee, Said Benrahma, was among those of his players removed by David Moyes, somewhat surprisingly considering his efforts. The home crowd would probably have applauded him had they noticed.

And Ben Mee also reappeared following his injury, spending no more than a couple of minutes on the pitch and prompting the familiar ‘Meeee’ roar.

‘I love this club,’ Maupay was to say to Sky TV. ‘Meeee too.’ said my mate Charlie.

Bet your shirt on it: Bee returner Neal Maupay celebrates the end to his goal drought 

Brentford: Flekken (substitute Strakocha 45m); Ajer (sub Roerslev 79), Collins, Pinnock, Janelt (sub Yarmolyuk 79)’); Onyeka, Jensen, Nørgaard; Mbeumo, Maupay, Wissa (sub Ghoddos 89).

West Ham United: Areola; Coufal, Mavropanos, Aquerd, Emerson; Kudus, Ward-Prowse, Soucek; Benrahma (sub Fornals 64); Bowen, Antonio (sub Ings 64).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

Bill, who lives in Chiswick and is a former Fleet Street editor, has been named Journalist Laureate 2023 the London Press Club awards:

READ ALSO: Former Fleet Street editor, Chiswick resident Bill Hagerty, is named Journalist Laureate 2023

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Former Fleet Street editor, Chiswick resident Bill Hagerty, is named Journalist Laureate 2023 

Bill Hagerty receiving his award from the London Press Club – L to R children Adam and Will, wife and fellow journalist Liz Vercoe, Bill and daughter Faith

Guest blog by Julia Langdon

Chiswick journalist Bill Hagerty has just pulled off the scoop of his life and that’s not a bad claim for a man who started in newspapers as a boy “sixty-something” years ago.

Hagerty is himself the star of this story because what he has scooped is the most prestigious award in British journalism – that of Journalist Laureate 2023. It is a prize so honoured that it has only been presented to four previous recipients and it went to Bill Hagerty not only because of his lifetime of significant achievement and his editorship of three national newspapers but because of all that he has done for the trade of journalism.

This is a man who has spent his career promoting honesty and truth in journalism, protecting the interests of his colleagues in the business and defending the freedom of the press. And he is, besides, someone who has always been known throughout the industry for his uncompromising professionalism.

Image above: Bill Hagerty

In his Fleet Street years he was editor of The People in the 1990s, of Sunday Today before that and he was also acting editor of the Daily Mirror– thus comprehensively disproving the doubts of his head teacher at school who dismissed the boy Bill’s early ambitions.

He was born in Ilford and worked on local newspapers in the East End before joining the “Street of Adventure” in EC4. He was at Reynolds News in 1962 and the Daily Sketch before finding his home berth at the Mirror Group. He did everything there in the course of 23 years and knew the newspapers of the group so well that he wrote its history: Read All About It – 100 Sensational Years of the Daily Mirror.

The man who started out reporting amateur football in the East End and who now covers Brentford for The Chiswick Calendar has had a glamorous few years in between. He was show business editor of the Daily Mirror and among stars he has interviewed (if he wasn’t so modest) he could name John Wayne, Michael Caine, Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr, Neil Diamond and Joan Collins.

Image above: In the Daily Mirror’s ‘Golden Age’ there was no expense spared. Correspondents reporting on the US had the option of travelling to New York as first class passengers on the Queen Elizabeth. This was the ‘staff car’, shipped to London in the seventies. Bill Hagerty is far left. Image from Bill’s book ‘Read All About It! 100 sensational years of the Daily Mirror’

He was wrongly arrested in Hollywood once when he kindly volunteered to leave a party and buy some cigarette papers for Robert Mitchum. When he used his one telephone call, reverse charge, to ring the editor (he’d seen the movies) the managing editor (who keeps the moneybags) was, unfortunately, also in the room. “Do you have any idea what this call is costing?” he shouted.

Hagerty has also been a theatre and film critic for a number of publications, reflecting his love of drama in all forms. He is also a serious jazz enthusiast and, in the nicest possible way, a great know-all. For many years he edited the British Journalism Review, a quarterly magazine devoted to the business he loves so much, and he remains chairman emeritus of the publication’s editorial board.

Bill Hagerty’s by-line picture on the Daily Mirror, from Bill’s book ‘Read All About It! 100 sensational years of the Daily Mirror’

He has chaired the Journalists’ Charity, an organisation started with the help of Charles Dickens, which helps journalists in need. He remains a trustee of the body and is a director of the London Press Club.

Among his many accomplishments he has edited eight volumes of Alastair Campbell’s Diaries for publication and told his own story for the British Library’s Oral History of the British Press. He did keep his own diary once – but it only lasted for a year. That was better than one of his colleagues, who called his diaries “My Life of Januarys”.

Bill lives in Grove Park with his wife, the journalist Liz Vercoe. He has three children and five grandchildren. He was presented with his award before an audience of distinguished colleagues and contemporaries at the recent London Press Club ball.

He donated his £5,000 prize money to the Journalists’ Charity and the British Journalism Review, while the sponsors, the St James’s House Group, contributed a further £20,000 to charity. Oh and Bill got a pen, too – well, all journalists still need a pen because they are always losing them. I bet he doesn’t lose this one.

Julia Langdon was the political editor of the Daily Mirror, appointed in 1984 as the first woman to hold the position on a national newspaper in the UK. Later she was political editor of The Sunday Telegraph. Since 1992 she has worked as a freelance, writing books and articles and appearing as a political analyst on TV and radio. Julia also lives in Chiswick.

You can read Bill Hagerty’s match reports on The Chiswick Calendar here: Brentford FC, a league apart

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Bulb planting on Turnham Green

Image above: Spring bulbs on Turnham Green; photograph Friends of Turnham Green

With 8,000 bulbs to plant, your help would be appreciated

It is that time of year when your help would be greatly appreciated planting bulbs on Turnham Green. The Friends of Turnham Green have organised a bulb planting session on Saturday 11 November.

The Friends supplement the work of the Parks department at Hounslow Council by volunteering their time and labour to make the Green look more attractive. They describe their mission as ‘to rescue Turnham Green from municipal shabbiness’. As a result, the park has received the Green Flag award from the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy for at least the past five years.

Leading British landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith drew up a landscaping proposal for Turnham Green last year, the results of which were seen in the spring. The idea was to improve the bio-diversity of the Green and ‘visually unite the different elements of the Green using naturalistic planting’.

READ ALSO: Friends of Turnham Green share plans for new proposals for more ‘naturalistic’ planting on Turnham Green

Images above: Spring bulbs on Turnham Green; photographs Friends of Turnham Green

Planting scheme by the leading landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith

Nick Pusterla, an associate landscape architect with Tom Stuart-Smith, will be on hand on Saturday to give advice.

“Nick has advised us on the bulb selection and was the driving force behind our spectacular spring bulb display on the west green earlier this year” says the Friends committee.

These are the bulbs he has suggested for the planting scheme this year – 8,000 are ready to be planted, at a cost of £1,800, which has been covered by a grant from the London Borough of Hounslow, and donations from Chiswick Flower Market and Abundance London.

Images above: L to R Galanthus nivalis (flowers January); Crocus tommasianus (February); Narcissus peudonarcissus var lobularis (March); Chionodoxa forbesii (March- early April); Narcissus ‘Elka’ (April); Narcisssus ‘Sunlight Sensation’ (April); Narcissus ‘Sailboat’ (April)

Volunteers are asked to turn up any time between 10am and 1pm, for as long or as little as you like. ‘Bring a trowel or bulb planter if you have one and gloves. Everyone welcome.’

The Friends will be planting on the east green along Chiswick High Road – between the entrance at the war memorial and the entrance opposite Café Nero. So they have an idea of how many people to expect, they ask that you sign up here: Turnham Green Bulb Planting, to let them know you are coming.

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Ballet4Life nominated for One Dance UK award

Image above: ABallet4Life class at ArtsEd in Chiswick

Nominated for the People’s Choice award

Ballet4Life has been nominated for an award in the One Dance UK awards.

The awards are ‘an annual celebration for people from across the dance sector to unite, celebrate, acknowledge and reward the people who have made an impact on the vibrant UK dance landscape’.

Ballet4Life offers all sorts of dance classes, not for children but for adults. Whether you are a beginner or coming back to something you used to enjoy but haven’t done for a while Donna Schoenherr and her team of dance professionals offer an attractive programme of classes to get you dancing.

Images above: Donna Schoenherr, founder-owner of Ballet4Life

Twenty years of living in Chiswick and inspiring people to take up dancing

Donna set up Ballet4Life in Chiswick nearly 20 years ago, in 2014, having been a professional ballet dancer in New York. Donna has toured the world, working with companies such as the Cleveland Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Michael Mao Dance Co.

The following year she launched Move into Wellbeing®, a dance programme for people living with Parkinson’s disease and other mobility restrictions. Move into Wellbeing® was inspired by Donna’s father who lived with Parkinson’s for thirty years and who she saw benefit hugely from music and movement based therapy.

She now employs fellow professionals to teach dance across a range of disciplines: pointe, masterclasses, contemporary dance, beginner courses, barre and the very popular 50+ ballet classes. Her classes have made a positive difference to many people living in Chiswick.

READ ALSO: Donna Schoenherr, founder & director Ballet4Life – Profile

Images above: A Move Into Wellbeing class

‘Their commitment to fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment is remarkable’

The One Dance UK awards champions the excellent work of dance artists, teachers, practitioners, educators, schools, choreographers, companies, venues, scientists, and writers, with a glittering evening of celebrations, all for those who contribute to the dance sector throughout the UK.

‘The shortlisted nominees and recipients truly reflected the commitment and innovation that exists across the many parts of the dance sector.’

There are eleven award categories in all. Ballet4Life is one of 14 companies who have been nominated in the ‘People’s Choice’ category. The nomination states:

‘All the teachers are exceptional, offering not only clear teaching, but also embodying compassion and understanding for the variety of human experiences within broad communities. They have made ballet part of many community members’ lives again, bringing wholeness, health, wellbeing, and joy.

Image above: Ballet4Life class at St Peter’s Church Hall in Southfield Rd

‘I couldn’t have asked for better ballet training’

Here are some of the other glowing comments in the People’s Choice nomination:

‘Ballet4life has given me a real chance to continue my love for ballet as an adult, and what’s more important, to discover a community of friends.’

‘The work Donna does is amazing, her heart and soul is poured into Ballet4Life, she takes such great care of all those involved, whether you’re new or have been coming for years. Her classes enable you to meet some fantastic. I don’t know what I’d do without Ballet4Life!’

‘Their dedication to teaching adult amateur ballet has left a lasting impression on me last 10 years. With a profound understanding of the art and unwavering patience, they have transformed my ballet journey. Their commitment to fostering a nurturing and inclusive environment is remarkable.

‘Each class is a delightful blend of technique, grace, and personal growth. Their ability to make ballet accessible to adults of all levels is truly commendable. I couldn’t have asked for better ballet training.’

Images above: Cuban ballet dancer Yosvani Ramos, who gave a masterclass for Ballet4Life dancers this summer

Money in the bank

Being nominated for an award such as this is a big feather in their caps, not only for the recognition, but for the added value it gives them when they are applying for grants.

You are the People and if you think they demonstrate excellence in teaching dance and would like to support them, you can vote for them here: People’s Choice Awards 2023

We are delighted to say Ballet4Life are members of our Club Card scheme, offering discounts for classes to holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card.

See their current offer here: Ballet4Life Club Card offer

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The Interview review – Park Theatre

Image above: Yolanda Kettle as Princess Diana and Tibu Fortes as Martin Bashir in The Interview; Pamela Raith Photography

A new play by Jonathan Maitland ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s the point of doing a play about a TV interview? Wouldn’t you just watch the TV interview?

That’s kind of the point of The Interview, the new play by Chiswick resident Jonathan Maitland which opened at The Park theatre in Finsbury Park on 27 October and runs until 25 November.

The interview between Martin Bashir and Princess Diana in which she famously declared ‘there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded’ is no longer available to watch. What is arguably the most important interview the BBC has ever done, and the most significant TV interview of the 20th century is not being shown any more by the broadcaster because the interviewer was discredited.

Two years ago an inquiry concluded Martin Bashir had tricked her into doing it, using falsified bank statements to worm his way into her brother Earl Spencer’s confidence. Prince William said it should never be aired again, expressing his sadness that ‘the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to [Diana’s] fear, paranoia and isolation’.

The BBC’s Director General Tim Davie issued an apology to Diana, Charles, and their children and agreed that the interview would never be broadcast or licensed again.

READ ALSO: Interview with Jonathan Maitland about The Interview

Image above: Yolanda Kettle as Princess Diana, Tibu Fortes as Martin Bashir and Matthew Flynn as Diana’s butler Paul Burrell in The Interview; Pamela Raith Photography

A TV interview from nearly 30 years ago with something important to say about today’s cancel culture

William’s argument was that ‘the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said’ but The Interview challenges that assertion. Martin Bashir, played very convincingly by Tibu Fortes (who you can also see in the latest series of Shetland) argues she was going to say what she said anyway, it was just a matter of the timing.

It is worth revisiting. It goes to the heart of cancel culture and whether it is right that when someone is ostracised because of their behaviour their whole body of work becomes invalidated. It reminds us of the truth of the situation between Charles and Diana and Camilla, which the royal family wanted so desperately to be swept under the carpet and tidily forgotten in time for the coronation.

It is an interesting and thought-provoking play, stylishly directed by Olivier Award nominated Michael Fentiman (Amelie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Loot). Yolanda Kettle (Persuasion, Howards End) looks and sounds uncannily like Diana, though I think she employs the doe-eyed anxious head tilt a few too many times. I’m sure Diana had other expressions as well. Matthew Flynn (Finding Alice, Pride) is also very well cast as Diana’s butler Paul Burrell, who acts as the narrator.

Image above: Ciarán Owens, Naomi Frederick, Matthew Flynn in The Interview; Pamela Raith Photography

Freedom of speech is under attack from all quarters – what can and cannot be said about Israel and the Palestinians, what can and cannot be said about womanhood, to name two obvious current examples.

The Interview is a timely reminder that freedom of speech is precious and not to be given up lightly, pointing out the irony that the son of a woman who stood up for herself and spoke out, breaking the taboo on talking about mental health and revealing the way the powerful institution of the monarchy operated, has been able to shut her down and silence her now that she is no longer able to speak for herself.

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Episode 37: Three Men in a Boat navigating British Journalism

Our podcast with The Three Old Hacks, aka former BBC Sports News editor Mihir Bose, Economics editor of the Sunday Times David Smith, and political analyst Nigel Dudley, has been described as ‘the modern equivalent of Jerome K Jerome’s book Three Men in a Boat‘ by broadcaster and journalist Lucy Beresford.

Like George, Harris and Jerome they are old friends who consider themselves overworked and in need of a holiday (always). Like the River Thames, they have a tendency to meander. Theirs is not so much a travel guide as a commentary on the state of British journalism based on their experiences over the past 40 years, delivered with warmth and humour and that slight edge of competitiveness that journalists never lose.

Image above: Nigel’s dog Alfie, stunt double for Montmorency from Three Men in a Boat

This week it is the rich hinterland of Nigel’s knowledge which they rely on to discuss the situation in Israel, as he has spent many years reporting from the Middle East. They disagree on whether the BBC was right not to label Hamas as ‘terrorists’ and lament the vogue for ‘showbiz personality’ foreign reporting, while praising some of the outstanding reporting from those on the ground in Gaza.

Listen to the podcast on all the usual podcast platforms or on The Chiswick Calendar website.

More Platforms

Listen to more episodes here.

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing threeoldhacks@outlook.com, we’d love to hear from you!

West London teenager admits manslaughter after tripping up a man and causing his death

Image above: Hanwell Broadway, near where the crime took place

Victim suffered heart attack after being tripped

A 16-year-old boy has confessed to manslaughter after tripping a 62-year-old man in Hanwell, resulting in a fatal heart attack on 19 March.

At the Old Bailey heard the teenager approached Jerald Netto, placing his foot between his legs and sweeping him off his feet. The fall led to Mr. Netto suffering a heart attack, triggered by the trauma of hitting the pavement.

Initially charged with murder, the teenage defendant is now set to be sentenced for manslaughter on 12 January, following his admission of guilt. Judge Rebecca Trowler KC has ordered a pre-sentence report but has cautioned the defendant and his family to prepare for a custodial sentence. The teenager has been remanded back into local authority accommodation under stringent conditions.

The identity of the accused remains undisclosed due to legal reasons. He was arrested immediately after the incident occurred on Boston Road at approximately 12.50am.

Prosecutor Louise Oakley informed the court that the victim’s relatives wanted time to reflect on the teenager’s plea and intend to prepare an ‘impact statement’ describing the affect of Mr. Netto’s death on their family and their broader community.

Ms. Oakley argued Mr. Netto died “as a result of an unlawful act which involved an intention to cause harm or recklessness as to whether harm was caused.”

Judge Trowler said:

“I am aware that the defendant has admitted responsibility for the physical act from the outset, and so the only factor that has changed today in legal terms is causation has been accepted on his behalf, and therefore a plea has been entered.”

Met suspend working relationship with London Muslim communities chair after Palestine chant

Image above: Attiq Malik; via Twitter

Metropolitan Police say they are “immediately ceasing” working relationship with Mr. Malik

The Metropolitan Police have announced their plan to stop working with the Chair of the London Muslim Communities Forum, Attiq Malik, after a video emerged of him at a pro-Palestine march in 2021.

In a video posted by The Telegraph, Mr. Malik can be heard instigating the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, a phrase which has been mired with controversy after the Home Secretary described it as anti-Semitic.

Many who use the chant disagree, instead claiming the phrase reflects a desire for an end to Palestinian civilians being killed and a wider call for peace in the region, but the chant can also be interpreted as a call for the Jewish population of Israel to be annihilated.

The London Muslim Communities Forum is a ‘strategic advisory body’ for the Metropolitan Police; it brings together representatives from London’s diverse Muslim communities and senior police officers with the aim of addressing issues raised by the Muslim community and working together to provide a strategic response.

There have been a number of pro-Palestine demonstrations in the last few weeks since Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October, which saw Hamas fighters kill over 1,400 Israelis and abduct at least 240 hostages back into Gaza, and Israel’s response.

Since 7 October, over 10,000 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed by Israeli military action in Gaza. According to new figures released by the Hamas-controlled health authority in the territory the total number of deaths within the Palestinian territory now stands at 10,022, including 4,104 children.

Image above: a pro-Palestine protest in October; Photograph Matt Smith

Met says Mr. Malik’s past language and views “appear anti-Semitic”

In a statement posted on Sunday (5 November), the Met said:

“The video shared by the Telegraph today has brought to our attention that the chair of the London Muslim Communities Forum has expressed views in a way which does not align to the Met’s values.

“We regularly engage with a whole range of community groups, many of which hold strongly opposing views. It is important that we continue to listen to opposing views. This is how we put community voices at the heart of policing London.

“This instance has highlighted past language and views expressed by Attiq Malik that appear anti-Semitic and contrary with our values. As a result we will be immediately ceasing our relationship with Mr Malik whilst we investigate.

“We will continue to engage with the LMCF and the full range of faith and community advisers. The insights, feedback and reach into communities across London continues to play an important role in our response.

“We are already working on a new advisory group ‘charter’ that will include a shared commitment to engage through mutual respect and inclusivity.”

Mr. Malik has yet to respond to the Met’s statement.

Number of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London recently

Man found guilty of setting fire to two men outside mosques

Image above: Mohammed Abbkr

Attacker responsible for attack on man in Ealing earlier this year

A 29-year-old man, Mohammed Abbkr, has been found guilty of two counts of attempted murder at Birmingham Crown Court for a shocking and horrifying series of attacks on elderly worshippers outside mosques in London and Birmingham.

Jurors reached their verdict by a majority of 11-1 after more than seven hours of deliberation over two days. Abbkr’s set fire to elderly worshippers who had just left mosques in Ealing and Edgbaston in February and March this year.

The court heard that Abbkr had initially prayed with the congregation before waiting for his victims, Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70. He then callously followed both men, spraying them with petrol from a water bottle and using a lighter to set them ablaze.

The first attack occurred on 27 February, when Abbkr set fire to Mr. Odowa as he was on his way to a neighbour’s car outside the West Ealing Islamic Centre. Fortunately, Mr. Odowa suffered only minor burn injuries to his ear and hand.

In the second attack, Abbkr attended evening prayers at Dudley Road Mosque and sat near Mr. Rayaz. After the prayers, he followed his victim along the streets, asking him whether he spoke Arabic. When Mr. Rayaz responded in Urdu and Punjabi, Abbkr sprayed him with a liquid from a bottle, resulting in Mr. Rayaz being engulfed in flames.

Image above: CCTV outside the Birmingham mosque during one of the attacks

Attacker suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, court hears

Abbkr arrived in the UK from Sudan in 2017 seeking asylum and was granted leave to remain two years later. He denied two counts of attempted murder and two alternative counts of maliciously administering a destructive substance to endanger life. Jurors had the challenging task of determining whether he intended to kill his victims and whether he knew what he was doing was wrong.

The court heard evidence from psychiatrists who testified that Abbkr was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attacks. Abbkr claimed that he believed those he set on fire were among several people “controlling him through magic” and insisted that he did not expect them to be harmed.

The prosecution urged the jury to reject the insanity defence, arguing that Abbkr knew what he was doing was wrong and that he intended to kill his victims.

Chief Inspector Haroon Chughtai from West Midlands Police revealed that both victims suffered “long-lasting physical injuries and significant mental trauma” as a result of the attacks.

Although counter-terrorism officers were involved in the investigation leading up to Ramadan, no motive has been identified. The officer stated:

“This was not treated as a terrorist incident. To date, there is no evidence of an ideology. These were horrific unprovoked attacks on two men in their 70s and 80s who were leaving their local mosques and going home after their prayers.”

Man dies in Acton fire

Second man escapes

A man has died after a fire in Acton. London Fire Brigade were called to Old Oak Common Lane at 11.28pm on Friday 3 November and four fire engines and 25 firefighters were sent to the scene.

In a statement the LFB say:

“Part of a maisonette flat on the second and third floors of a mixed-use building was damaged by fire. One man was led to safety from the flat before firefighters arrived. He was given immediate emergency care by firefighters before being taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews.

“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued another man from the flat. He was given immediate emergency care before being taken to hospital, where he sadly later died.”

The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers received six calls about the fire. The fire was extinguished by 01.00am. Firefighters from Acton, Hammersmith and Park Royal fire stations attended the scene.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brigade and Metropolitan Police Service.

Dozens of Just Stop Oil protestors arrested on Cromwell Road

Images above: Just Stop Oil activists are arrested by Met Police officers

Dozens of Cromwell Road protestors arrested 

In the latest demonstration by Just Stop Oil, dozens of protestors were arrested after a slow march in Earl’s Court, Cromwell Road on Wednesday 1 November. Just Stop Oil said around 40 were arrested after their slow march along West Cromwell Road, a major thoroughfare connecting several west London Tube stations, including Barons Court and West Kensington.

The Metropolitan Police responded swiftly to reports of the disruption, arriving at the scene within four minutes.

According to the Met Police, arrests were made under the authority of Section Seven of the Public Order Act (2023). The force issued a statement shortly before 9.30am, saying:

“Officers are arresting some of the activists for breaching Section Seven of the Public Order Act (2023). Other activists are leaving the road of their own accord.”

While the precise number of arrests has not yet been confirmed, officers indicated it exceeded 30.

Rachel White, a participant in the demonstration and a mental health worker from Rochford, expressed her frustration at the climate crisis and the lack of action. She said:

“I have tried standing as a candidate for the Green Party, I have tried signing petitions, writing to MPs, attending COP 26, but nothing’s changed. In fact, it’s gotten worse, and so I can no longer be a bystander.”

This incident follows a previous protest in Parliament Square on Monday (30 October), during which 62 Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested after dozens of demonstrators lay down in the road near Parliament Square in Westminster around 10.00am. Officers arrived within four minutes of receiving reports of the disruption and took action under section seven of the Public Order Act.

In a separate legal development, 12 Just Stop Oil supporters were spared jail on Monday for Contempt of Court. They had breached an injunction related to protest actions on the M25. Theresa Norton and Mair Bain received suspended sentences, as they admitted prior knowledge of the National Highways Injunction when they climbed gantries on the busy motorway. Ten other activists did not receive a penalty.

Mr Justice Soole, presiding over the case, found that these ten activists had not been made aware of an injunction by a Just Stop Oil mentor prior to the protest. He described this omission as a “significant failure and breach of trust.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Flood warning issued for Chiswick

Images above: Flooding at Strand on the Green; photograph Effie Webb

Weather warning issued for much of London and south-east England

The Met Office has issued a flood warning for parts of Chiswick today (Thursday 2 November). A yellow rain and wind warning was issued from 6pm on Wednesday and runs until 11.59pm, today. British Airways has already cancelled over 30 flights out of Heathrow today due to high winds.

There are expected to be wind gusts of up to 50 mph as well as between 20 and 30 mm of rain forecast.

The flood warning is in place along the Thames from Teddington to Putney Bridge. Earlier this week the Chiswick Calendar reported that flooding in Chiswick Mall was higher than usual. As well as the extremely high tide there were pictures of the Bull’s Head in Strand on the Green that went viral, with water up to the windows of the pub.

READ ALSO: Flooding in Chiswick Mall higher than usual

An RNLI spokesperson told the Chiswick Calendar: “There is currently a very high tide and this is due to the amount of water from the Thames Basin.

“At the moment the wind seems to be calm.

“The RNLI have issued warnings to people by the coast to not watch the waves.”

The Thames Basin is drained by the Thames, reaching from the Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire and flows approximately 235km to its tidal limit at Teddington Lock in London. The Met Office has recorded a new November record for the lowest mean sea level atmospheric pressure in England and Wales.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Backstairs Billy review – Duke of York’s theatre

Image above: Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans in ‘Backstairs Billy’; Photograph MGC

Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans in a new comedy by Marcelo Dos Santos

Backstairs Billy is the new comedy at the Duke of York’s theatre in the West End, with Penelope Wilton in the role as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Luke Evans as ‘Backstairs Billy’.

It is a fictional confection based loosely on the true story of the Queen Mother and her relationship with William Tallon, her ‘Page of the Back Stairs’. He started work with the royal family as a junior assistant at the age of 15, trained as a footman, went to work at Clarence House and remained her servant for over forty years until her death in 2002.

They are an odd couple to say the least, although in Marcelo Dos Santos’ play they share the same ‘show must go on’ campness as they gear themselves up to face a succession of visitors from Mr and Mrs Boring from Buckinghamshire to a barking mad debutante who ‘came out’ at the same time as her highness.

That is one of many such puns about old queens, which are perfectly delivered and none the less amusing for their obviousness.

It also seems a strange time to focus on the Queen Mother, with all the drama of the Queen’s death, the King’s coronation and the banishment / self-detachment of Prince Harry and Meghan as potential material. But it is a delightful production, all the more interesting for being a tale that is not widely known. The real William Tallon always refused media interviews and never wrote a memoir, though there was a biography written about him.

Image above: Penelope Wilton as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; Photograph MGC

Penelope Wilton is a joy to watch. She often gets to play up the old lady, apparently a bit dotty but actually sharp as a tack, a touch eccentric but surprisingly down to earth. That is the impression you get of the Queen Mother from all that has been written about her.

Here she is rather lonely, suddenly finding herself without a partner and without a purpose after her husband King George VI had died and her own role as Queen had come to an end after 16 years of ruling what was still an empire.

She has been both literally and figuratively sidelined, as her daughter has taken over as Queen and she is shunted off to Clarence House to create a new role for herself. Billy is characterised as a breath of fresh air – confident, entertaining, a companion who was at her side from early morning until when she went to bed, anticipating her every need, knowing what she liked and generally cheering her up.

Image above: Luke Evans  as Backstairs Billy; Photograph MGC

He was in his element. The real William Tallon had written to the royal family wanting to work for them for five years, since the age of ten, before he got his opportunity to join the royal household at 15. He seems genuinely to have loved the life of a servant, in which everything had its place and there was an order and a right way of doing things.

In the play, his personal life as a gay man in 1970s London was riotous, and as it spills over into his work life, where there are powerful enemies who do not approve of him or his lifestyle, jealous of his sway over the Queen Mother, his pre-eminent position in the household is threatened and the idyllic relationship between Queen and servant unravels.

I have just seen Noises Off – the current production with Felicity Kendal. Backstairs Billy has a similar kind of feel to it – it’s a vehicle for a Grande Dame of English theatre, which is fast paced and funny, not too taxing on the brain cells; not too deep or thought provoking, but with enough meat to make it interesting; a farce with props disappearing and reappearing when they are least welcome; just a delicious bit of fun.

Directed by the Olivier award-winning Michael Grandage, Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s theatre runs until Saturday 27 January 2024.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Hammersmith and Fulham bans e-scooters and motorbikes from Thames Path

Image above: A H&F Law Enforcement Officer explaining the new rules to an e-scooter user

Motorcycles, e-scooters, segways, quadbikes and hoverboards banned

Hammersmith and Fulham Council have banned motorised vehicles from from being used on Thames Path. A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) has been implemented, affecting the stretch between Miller’s Court on Chiswick Mall to Chelsea Harbour in Sands End.

The PSPO prohibits the use of motorbikes, e-scooters, segways, quad bikes, and hoverboards within the specified riverside footway. Pedal bikes and electrically assisted pedal bikes are exempt from the restrictions, in line with the Council’s commitment to promoting active travel.

The decision to implement these measures came after a thorough public consultation, which received an overwhelming response with over 1,200 participants. An impressive 70% of respondents expressed their support for restrictions on motorised transport in this area.

Interestingly, 31.8% of those surveyed supported a complete ban on cycling, but the council opted not to include pedal bikes in the restrictions, emphasising their stance on encouraging active travel.

The PSPO officially came into effect on 18 October and is slated to remain in force for a duration of three years. While the new regulations are stringent, there are exemptions for individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions who rely on motorised vehicles as mobility aids. Furthermore, parents or caregivers using motorised bikes to transport children are also granted exceptions.

Cllr Rebecca Harvey, Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Social Inclusion, said:

“The new regulations will help prevent inconsiderate behaviours and prioritise pedestrian safety along this beautiful riverside pathway.” This move aims to strike a balance between ensuring access for all while preserving the tranquillity and safety of this popular riverside route.

Plans to close railway ticket offices scrapped

Image above: Chiswick ticket office

Government scraps plans to close ticket offices nationwide

Plans to close hundreds of rail ticket offices in England have been scrapped by Transport Secretary Mark Harper. The Government decided to ask train operators to withdraw their proposals because of the huge response they received from the public opposing them.

Ticket offices at Chiswick and Brentford would have been scrapped by South Western Railway.

The proposals, initially approved by the Department for Transport, have met strong opposition from various quarters, including unions, disability groups, and passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London Travelwatch. The public consultation on the matter received a staggering 750,000 responses, 99% of which were objections.

One of the primary concerns that led to the abandonment of the closure plans was the potential for excessive queues at ticket machines, coupled with a lack of evidence regarding value for money from the rail companies. Additionally, there were no proper alternative arrangements for people with accessibility issues, a key point of contention.

Mark Harper said:

“The proposals that have resulted from this process do not meet the high thresholds set by Ministers, and so the Government has asked train operators to withdraw their proposals.”

The sudden reversal came as a surprise, especially considering the Government’s earlier push for rail companies to reduce costs, given the decrease in passenger numbers due to the pandemic.

The closures were originally seen as a way to support the financial struggles of a rail network grappling with the post-pandemic challenges, and it is unlikely the proposals will resurface before the next general election.

Nine train operators, including South Western Railway, which services Chiswick, had announced plans to shut ticket offices, with a total of 269 offices slated for closure nationwide. For Chiswick and Brentford stations, this would have meant reduced staffing and operational hours, potentially impacting commuters.

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of London TravelWatch, emphasised the importance of addressing the concerns raised by the public during the consultation. He said:

“Despite improving on their original proposals, we don’t think the train companies have gone far enough to meet our concerns and those of the public. We cannot say with confidence that these proposals would improve things for passengers.”

The Rail Delivery Group, representing the rail companies, expressed its intent to continue exploring other ways to “improve passenger experience while delivering value for the taxpayer.”

The decision to withdraw support for the closure plans has reportedly left rail bosses “furious”.

Local politicians praise decision

Both Labour-run Hounslow Council and the leader of Hounslow Conservatives praised the decision to scrap proposals to close ticket offices.

Hounslow Council published a formal objection to the plans in August. In a strongly-worded letter addressed to SWR, Mr. Nwokeoma said:

“We recognise that technology and the pandemic have changed the way we travel in many ways but there are still residents for whom in-person support is a necessary part of their journey and which could be the difference between them making a trip or not.”

READ ALSO: Hounslow Council objects to ticket office closures

In reaction to news of the U-turn, Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport and Deputy Leader of the Council, said:

“I am very pleased to see the Government deciding against disproportionately affecting those residents for whom in-person support is an integral part of their journey and which could be the difference between them making a trip or not.

“It is especially important for this announcement to come at this time of year, reducing the need for vulnerable members of society to wait around in uncertainty and increasingly cold temperatures. Ensuring that public transport is fully accessible and as easy as possible for all is vital for the borough, as it is across the country.”

Leader of Hounslow Conservatives, Cllr Peter Thompson said:

“I’m pleased the Government has instructed train operators to withdraw their completely misjudged closure plans.

“We know that the ticket office in Chiswick is only open for a few hours Monday to Friday, but it will be reassuring for residents when travelling around the country that they will have someone to talk to if they have problems or questions.”

Acton Lane reopens after days of traffic chaos

Image above: Acton Lane opened on Monday evening

Contractor issued with fixed penalty notice by LB Hounslow

After days of traffic chaos, Acton Lane between Chiswick Park station and the High Road has finally reopened. The contractor in charge of the works has been fined.

The project to lay electricity cables to new buildings on Essex Place faced a minor delay, with work being partially completed on Monday evening (30 October), a day behind schedule, as heavy rain that plagued the construction efforts.

The good news is that the road closure will no longer be a concern. Work will continue on the footpath near the zebra crossing on Bollo Lane until Wednesday with no further road or lane closures required.

Hounslow Council, responsible for overseeing the project has issued a fixed penalty notice to OCU Group, the contractor working for utility company SSE, for failing to erect adequate advance warning signs.

The works started on Saturday 21 October with planned one-way closures. Problems arose as drivers consistently ignored directional closures, leading to altercations with construction workers. In response to these issues, a Hounslow Highways’ Street Works Manager assessed the situation on-site last Wednesday and Thursday.

As a result, in agreement with the contractor, a decision was made on Thursday afternoon to close the road, primarily for the safety of road users, construction workers, shoppers accessing the nearby Sainsbury’s, and local residents.

The closure coincided with the suspension of District Line services by TfL for planned engineering works, compounding traffic congestion throughout Chiswick for the next five days.

Even after the road closure, some drivers appeared to be bewildered by the signage, with many attempting to access Acton Lane from Chiswick High Road. Some resorted to making U-turns, while others continued through the Sainsbury’s car park, which had recently removed its barriers due to the introduction of a new ANPR enforced parking regime.