Erin Pizzey awarded CBE in New Years Honours list

Image above: Erin Pizzey

Erin Pizzey set up the first refuge for women in Chiswick in 1971

Erin Pizzey, who set up the first women’s refuge in Chiswick in 1971 has been awarded a CBE for her work as a campaigner and activist for victims of domestic abuse. She said she was “flabbergasted” to have been included.

The initial refuge for women fleeing domestic violence, Chiswick Women’s Aid, later became known as Refuge and became the largest UK charity providing specialist support for women and children. On any given day, Refuge’s services supports thousands of women and children.

The BBC interviewed Erin in November 2021 about the early days of the refuge in Chiswick, the total lack of provision for women trying to escape their abusive husbands then, and the attitudes of the time. She told them she had herself been abused by her parents.

READ ALSO: BBC profile interview with Erin Pizzey

She now describes herself as an ex-feminist, having parting company with the feminist movement in the 1980s because she thought it was anti-men. She attracted controversy when she said women were as likely to commit domestic violence as men, (her own personal experience) which prompted a backlash from feminist organisations and academics.

According to a study cited by Women’s Aid, men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment.

‘Over the three-year period April 2016 to March 2019, a total of 222 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner. The majority of suspects were male (218, 98%). This means that during this time period, an average of three women every fortnight were murdered by their male partner or ex-partner.’

News of CBE left Pizzey “in shock”

Erin Pizzey, now 84, went on to become a novelist, publishing eight books of non-fiction beginning with: Scream quietly or the neighbours will hear, (1974), up to her most recent biography: This way to the revolution: a memoir (2011), and ten novels, including The Wicked World of Women.

In 2013 she joined the editorial and advisory board of the men’s rights organisation A Voice for Men, serving as an Editor and DV Policy Advisor

She said she did not know why she had been made a CBE or have any idea who recommended her for it. She plans to attend the investiture with several female family members, who were as “flabbergasted” at the honour as she was, and said:

“I just think four generations of women [attending the ceremony] is a really powerful message to other women, that you can do it.

“I was in total shock, I never in my years expected it. if you look at my history I was not exactly uncontroversial, was I?

“Most people who know me wouldn’t dream of it. I’m not exactly leading a quiet lifestyle – I drink too much, I eat too much – I’ve still not recovered (from the news of the CBE).”

Many feminists revolted against her when she claimed women were more likely to be domestically violent than men, she said.

She said they were like “hyenas” and added:

“That was enough to piss them off, I used to have pickets that said ‘Pizzey by name, pissy by nature’.

“I was at a luncheon in the Savoy, and there was this huge picket outside with all these banners saying ‘Pizzey condones male violence’. When we went outside they would all march around with their banners.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick sisters could be future Taekwondo Olympic contenders

Image above: Perdy and Darcey Stenzel (L-R), Darcy Stenzel with the medal she won in Sweden

Two sisters both win big in national and international Taekwondo competitions

Two sisters from Chiswick, Darcey Stenzel, 16, and her 10-year-old sibling Perdy, are making waves in the sport of Taekwondo, putting them on the path potentially to winning an Olympic medal.

Both are proud members of the Chiswick-based Ilyeo Taekwondo club, based at the Hogarth Youth Centre on Duke Road.

Darcey, in particular, has already notched up a series of triumphs. She was selected for the British Taekwondo GB Cadet squad in 2020 and recently she clinched Gold at the Sweden Open and secured Bronze at the Spanish Open 2023, elevating her status on the international stage.

Her younger sister Perdy is now following in her footsteps. Despite her age, Perdy’s outstanding performance in national competitions has earned her a spot in the Cadet squad, bypassing the usual qualification age. She’s been excelling in training at the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester, showcasing potential similar to that of her elder sister.

The Ilyeo Taekwondo Club  prides itself on fostering a ‘welcoming and forward-thinking environment’ for martial arts enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Its inclusive approach extends to both adults and children, providing a platform for aspiring athletes like Darcey and Perdy to hone their skills and pursue their dreams in Taekwondo.

Demolition plan submitted for Gunnersbury Avenue office block

Image above: The site at 250 Gunnersbury Avenue

Latest application is one of many either rejected or expired planning applications

A planning application (PALL/2023/3967) has been submitted proposing the demolition of the longstanding vacant office block at 250 Gunnersbury Avenue, near Chiswick Roundabout. The site, accessed from Power Road, has remained unused for a number of years, and the documents submitted with the current planning application show its current state of disrepair.

The application, presented on behalf of Hold Prop Co 1 Ltd, lists Paul Kempe, a director linked to City & Provincial Properties, as part of its leadership. The proposal does not suggest a particular  development beyond levelling the building and leaving the site vacant.

In November 2023 a proposal to build a self-storage unit was discussed, incorporating adaptable office and light industrial spaces on this property. The storage company Shurgard is already set to unveil a sizeable self-storage facility on an adjacent site.

This recent submission comes after a series of unsuccessful attempts to repurpose the area. A plan proposed in December 2021 for the construction of 19 flats was rejected by Hounslow Council, a decision upheld during an appeal in September 2023. Alternative proposals, including adding storeys to the existing structure, have also been met with similar refusals.

The site has been subject to number of other proposals, including an eight-storey office building approval in 2017 which was allowed to lapse, and a seven-storey scheme sanctioned the previous  year, which similarly never materialised. A proposal in 2020 (P/2020/0856), suggesting a mixed-use space with workshops and co-living units in a building rising up to 13 storeys,was also refused in September 2021.

Brentford 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 4

Wolves arrived with fangs bared

Third Season: The Wolves at the door

It never rains but it pours – and it certainly did when a reinvigorated Wolves side dropped by to contest the Bee’s final home game of the year.

Struggling to find eleven players with plenty of first-team experience, Thomas Frank did the best he could, avoiding selecting any passer-by who looked injury-free and up for a kick-about. But even his spirit must have been dampened. Residual damage to nine or ten regulars may have made his job nightmarishly difficult, but then nobody said it would be easy.

Even the much-improved Wolves’ squad could not have dreamed that Brentford would help them out when the going got really rough. Nathan Collins, for example. One of the few first-team regulars restored after his own injury, the roving centre-back with a hunger for goals spoiled his usual immaculate game by sending an inadequate back-pass towards keeper Mark Flekken, leaving Hee-chan Hwang to sprint faster to the ball and despatch it with ease.

Already a goal down – scored by Mario Lemina only seconds before this calamity – Brentford then had time to plunder one of their own, Yoane Wissa seizing on a Neal Maupay chip to diminish the deficit. But hope proved less than eternal with South Korean Hee-chan scoring his second before the break and a further opposition goal coming after it.

Displaying their familiar do-or-die grit, Brentford moved up a gear or two after the break. This was partly due to Mikkel Damsgaard being substituted for Yehor Yarmoliuk and, later, the creative Mathias Jensen replacing Mads Roerslev, which totally transformed the midfield.

At just one goal behind, team captain Norgaard lead the rallying cry

Damsgaard, in particular, darted here, there and everywhere else, providing a non-stop service for the front runners, Maupay and Wissa. Sadly, the finishing was not as good as the preparation – oh, how Bryan Mbeumo is missed – but the fact that Wolves’ first real chance of scoring since half time was restricted to striking an upright some time after Jensen had made his 67-minute welcome reappearance was testimony to the change in fortunes.

Before being substituted by Jean-Ricter Bellegarde, the twice scoring Hee-chan offered a lesson in front-running that Maupay – as busy as any Bee, but often lacking the sting – and Wissa, a fizzer when on form but blowing hot and cold here, could not match. The talented Keane Lewis-Potter worked hard but failed to convert a golden goalmouth chance and began to look jaded before the end.

In defence, Ethan Pinnock worked tirelessly – what a splendid season he is having – but as often happens when backs are to walls, Bellegarde was able to take advantage of Collins’ second blunder to add a fourth goal in the seventy-ninth minute.

‘We made two big mistakes, which doesn’t help us,’ lamented Frank at the final whistle. Guess whose were those particular errors?

Collins normally never puts a foot wrong but…

So the Premier League looked grim come the finish. With Wolves elevated to eleventh – it seems only a blink away that the Bees were up there in the top ten, reaching for the stars – Brentford find themselves in fourteenth and only four points above the relegation zone.

Whisper who dares, Ivan Toney is on the brink of being available following his long suspension. And the Bees’ next opponents, Crystal Palace, are actually a place (and four points) below them in the table.

Watch this space and, as I told my mate Charlie, reflect on this being the first time we’ve conceded four goals since returning to the top flight. What’s more, revenge can be sweet and Wolves will be back to play at the Gtech in a FA Cup-tie almost before we know it.

‘Hardly worth them going home, is it?’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Roerslev (substitute Jensen 67’), Collins, Pinnock, Ghoddos; Yarmoliuk (sub Damsgaard 45) Nørgaard, Janelt; Wissa (sub Olakigbe 86), Maupay; Lewis-Potter (sub Peart-Harris 86).

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Sá; Kilman, Bueno, Gomes; Nélson Semedo (sub Doherty 64), João Gomes, Lemina; Ait-Nouri (sub Bueno 80); Sarabia, (sub Doyle 65), Matheus Cunha; Hwang Hee-chan (sub Bellegarde 45+7).

Facing the Wolves pack:  Jensen probed unsuccesfully for an opening

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to 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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Government funding shortfall pushes back Piccadilly Line upgrades

Image above: New Piccadilly Line trains

New trains by 2027, signalling upgrades delayed until potentially 2033

The recent Government funding allocation for Transport for London (TfL) means that new signalling upgrades on the Piccadilly Line will be significantly delayed, according to the transport provider. The £250 million designated for capital spending was half what they expected.

Despite the shortfall, TfL said they are determined to forge ahead with crucial upgrades, including new trains for the Piccadilly line. Although the funding gap has prompted revised payment terms with the manufacturer, Siemens Mobility, TfL assures that this w ill not impede the train delivery schedule.

The one-year duration of the funding package restricts commitments to major infrastructure enhancements, notably the crucial signalling upgrade vital for optimising the new trains’ performance.

TfL’s plea for a multi-year capital funding agreement, akin to those received by other major transportation entities, has not been met. The Government’s partial funding agreement aims to facilitate the upgrade of rolling stock, primarily at a factory in Goole, Yorkshire, set to generate around 700 direct jobs and potentially 1,700 more in the supply chain. Post-Piccadilly line, this facility will start on work to upgrade the ageing Bakerloo line trains, the oldest in UK passenger services.

The first new trains, due to be delivered in 2024, will undergo testing before potentially being introduced for operational use in 2025. The complete overhaul of the Piccadilly line’s stock is projected for completion by 2027, promising an increased capacity of 23% and a more frequent service.

Achieving the full potential of these upgrades hinges on securing additional funding, particularly for the £1.3 billion signalling enhancement. This upgrade would significantly elevate service levels, potentially accommodating 36 trains per hour during peak times, a 64% capacity boost.

Yet, TfL’s commitment to this ambitious program remains uncertain due to the unpredictability of future government support. The inclusion of the signalling project in capital spending plans from 2025/6 onwards is contingent on meeting 50% of its funding requirements.

With estimations suggesting a complex seven to ten-year timeline for the Piccadilly line’s full signalling upgrade, the earliest completion forecast stands at 2033. Signal failures are a regular occurrence on the Piccadilly Line

Image above: Sadiq Khan

TfL to be financially sustainable “for the first time in its history”, says Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said:

“These past few years have been the most challenging in TfL’s history, but following a programme of work to rebuild ridership, increase income and reduce costs, I’m pleased that TfL is now on track to be financially sustainable for the first time in its history in terms of its day-to-day operations.

“As the Government has only provided half of the capital funding that TfL needs, TfL has had to make difficult decisions about their business plan to ensure they can continue to make vital upgrades to London’s transport network.

“That’s why it is still vitally important that we agree a sustainable long-term funding settlement from the Government that allows us to plan and invest for the infrastructure London will need over the coming decades. Expanding our transport network and supporting jobs and economic growth in London has real and sizeable benefits for the economy of the whole UK.”

Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, warned of ‘difficult decisions’ relating to future business plans adding:

“While we can now deliver our full Business Plan for 2024/25, our shortfall in Government capital investment has only been mitigated in the near term and will reduce the amount of valuable investment we can make in future years, unless further funding is agreed.

“We, alongside London’s business stakeholders and others, will continue to make the case that ongoing Government support for capital investment in transport is needed if we are to be able to continue to deliver vital improvements to London’s transport network, unlock new homes and support growth across London and the UK.”

Declan Donnelly spends over £2 million on ‘eyesore’ house next door in Grove Park

Images above: (L) Declan Donnelly; (R) Ant & Dec presenting I’m A Celebrity; photographs ITV

House will be restored to its former glory

TV presenter and Chiswick resident Declan Donnelly has reportedly splashed out £2.25 million on an ‘eyesore’ house next to his £7million home in Grove Park.

The house has been converted into flats and is reported to be causing concern locally due to its dilapidated state. Dec, alongside his wife Ali Astall, have made a move to remedy this by purchasing the property and outlining plans for its refurbishment.

The couple has now applied to Hounslow Council for planning permission to introduce side and rear extensions to the property, aiming to restore it to its former glory as a single home.  ‘Sources close to the couple’ have told showbiz reporters they are looking to bring it up to the standard of their home next door, which has a swimming pool, steam room and cinema.

The TV personality shares the Chiswick home with his wife Ali and their two children, Isla, aged five, and Jack, who recently celebrated his first birthday. Dec’s TV partner Ant also used to own a house in the same street, until he sold it when his marriage broke up.

Earlier this month a gang of thieves received jail sentences for up to three years for stealing high value cars in west London, including attempting to steal Dec’s Range Rover in April 2021 from his Grove Park home.

READ ALSO: Thieves who targeted high-value cars in Chiswick and west London jailed

The tabloids have had fun reporting the renovation story. The Sun have gone for a DIY pun in their headline: ‘D.I.Why Aye’, while the Mirror reported: ‘The ITV star snapped up the home straight after it hit the market’, and have spoken to ‘an insider close to the Donnelly family who described the street in Grove Park as ‘very swanky’:

“The street Dec lives in is very swanky and lined with large detached houses and his place is one of the most impressive mansions there.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

James May takes veiled swipe at Cycleway 9 in Chiswick

Image above: James May building a bike; YouTube

Cycleway 9 has become “almost unworkable” says former Top Gear star

TV presenter James May, who lives in Hammersmith and is a previous resident of Chiswick, has taken a veiled swipe at the segregated cycle lane Cycleway 9, which connects Kensington Olympia and Brentford, via Chiswick High Road.

The Top Gear and Grand Tour presenter was one of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme guest editors over Christmas and took the opportunity to criticise it. Without naming Chiswick directly, James described a segregated cycle lane in west London on which he was riding for a report on the programme on Wednesday 27 December.

“We are in west London. Where there is a very complicated and expensive cycle lane in place. I’m a car enthusiast… but I also love bicycles and I love cycling around London because it is good for you and it is quite good fun and to be honest it’s now the quickest way to get about.

“So, cycling is good and I like cycling infrastructure, I like cycle lanes, I think a lot of them are excellent. But I think some of them, such as the one here, are overwrought and to be honest, too complicated for their own good.”

He went on to describe seeing a van attempting to drive down the cycle lane, adding “he’s going to find that that doesn’t fit”.

Image above: Cycleway 9

Cyclists, pedestrians and cars ‘should be able to co-exist’

Speaking later on the show, he said Transport for London had designed a cycle lane with the mentality of car-driving:

“They’ve applied traffic lights and give way [signs] when it’s become so complicated. The problem is you have a two-way cycle lane alongside a two-way road and there is no precedent for that. It causes all sorts of problems, which they’ve tried to solve with more traffic lights and more give ways and more controls. It’s become almost unworkable”

He added:

“Despite what everybody says about segregating bicycles and pedestrians and cars, I don’t see why in an idealised world, all those things shouldn’t be able to co-exist in the same space in perfect harmony, because the roads are a shared space, like parks, they’re equally open to anybody.

“And it’s the mark of a stylish cyclist or driver to be able to accommodate everybody else who’s out there, I don’t see why it should be a problem and I don’t see why we have to go to all these enormous efforts to try and circumvent a problem that could be cured by a change of attitude.”

Chiswick Business Park terror scout sentenced to three and a half years in prison

Image above: Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev

Dovtaev attempted to carry out hostile reconnaissance at Chiswick Business Park

A man who attempted to carry out ‘hostile reconnaissance’ at the site of Iran International, the TV company formerly based in Chiswick, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, 31, an Austrian national, visited Chiswick Business Park in February 2023. He was spotted by security guards as he was taking a close interest in a building where media company Iran International was based at that time.

After speaking to Dovtaev a number of times, the guards grew concerned and called police. Officers attended soon after and Dovtaev was quickly arrested.

In the months before, the company had been subjected to serious threats projected from Iran against its staff, in reaction to its reporting of political and social issues in the country.

In response to the growing concerns about these threats, specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police worked closely with Iran International and Chiswick Business Park to strengthen the security at their now-former site.

Following his arrest, Dovtaev’s phone was recovered and analysed by detectives, revealing that he researched the building prior to his arrival in the UK.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey which concluded on Wednesday, 20 December, he was convicted of attempting to collect information likely to be useful for terrorism (contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act).

On Friday, 22 December, Dovtaev was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Image above: Armed police vehicles at Chiswick Business Park in 2022

Dovtaev’s actions were “chilling” says Met police boss

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said

“Dovtaev travelled hundreds of miles with the intention of gathering hostile reconnaissance. It was due to the heightened security, vigilance and decisive actions of security guards that Dovtaev’s activities were quickly spotted, and that led to his arrest.

“Dovtaev never said who he was working for or with and we could find no further evidence of this, but we did find enough evidence to show the jury that he was there to carry out terrorist-related activity.

“His actions were chilling and put into sharp focus our wider concerns about threats emanating from Iran that continue to be directed towards certain individuals and media organisations here in the UK.

“However, the protective security measures we helped to introduce meant his activity was thwarted. We will continue work extremely closely with our intelligence and security partners in the UK and abroad to combat any state threats.”

Iran International are no longer based at the site in Chiswick Business Park and officers continue to provide security advice and support to Iran International as well as other UK-based Persian-language media companies.

The Met continue to ask the public to remain vigilant and report anything that doesn’t look or feel right to police by calling 0800 789 321 or call 999 if it is an emergency.

ArtsEd announces further inquiry into ‘toxic culture’ allegations

Image above: ArtsEd on Bath Road in Chiswick

New investigation into alleged misconduct at ArtsEd

ArtsEd on Bath Road in Chiswick has announced a significant step in addressing persisting concerns over the institution’s governance and culture, following recent press reports highlighting an alleged ‘toxic culture’ within the schools. The Board of Trustees has mandated barrister Ghazaleh Rezaie from 12 Kings Bench Walk Chambers to investigate the allegations.

In a published statement ArtsEd said:

“These are serious allegations and do not reflect our values or the organisation we want to be…

“While it is up to Ms Rezaie to agree and finalise the Terms of Reference, we are keen that this investigation is as broad and inclusive as possible, and that people have the opportunity to make their voice heard. We are determined to establish a clear account of the events and identify lessons to be learned based on the findings.”

This move follows the investigation two years ago, which revealed a ‘sexualised environment’ within the organisation dating back to 2009. This investigation, led by barrister Rebecca Tuck KC, led to the resignation of former principal Chris Tucking. Subsequently, the Board implemented a series of safeguarding measures, including enhanced training and reinforced complaint procedures.

Image above: Julie Spencer was appointed Principal of the ArtsEd in 2021; Photograph ArtsEd

“I witnessed first-hand bullying of students and teachers”, says former staff member

The publication Deadline published an investigation into allegations of bullying at ArtsEd, on 6 November, in which it said:

‘As part of a five-month investigation, Deadline has spoken to more than two dozen people linked to ArtsEd and reviewed internal emails and written testimonies from students and ex-staffers. Some of these sources described a “toxic” culture in which student wellbeing has continued to be put at risk’.

The ArtsEd responded to the article by saying:

“Many of the complaints raised relate to historic matters that occurred prior to the Rebecca Tuck KC review in 2021. While we have been unequivocal in accepting the cultural and leadership failings that were identified in the Tuck review, we have also made considerable progress to put things right in the last two years.”

Deadline‘s report highlighted that most of the fresh complaints hadn’t been presented during the previous inquiry, indicating a new wave of grievances.

Former ArtsEd staff member Steven Kavuma told Deadline:

“I witnessed first-hand bullying towards students and teachers. I tried to challenge it within the school, but the principal would isolate you.

“I don’t think it is a safe environment to train. If students don’t feel comfortable challenging that within that school, if they feel fearful… I just don’t think that’s healthy at all. Some students felt like they had to be watching their backs constantly, they felt intimidated.”

ArtsEd says it has no record of Mr Kavuma making any complaints to HR and it is not known if the additional complaints outlined in the Deadline article are the reason for the latest inquiry being launched or if new issues have been raised.

For contributions or concerns related to the investigation, you can reach out via enquiries@independent-investigation.com.

Gunnersbury residents give local green spaces a pre-Christmas clean up

Image above: Residents raking up the leaves on one of the green spaces; photograph Laurent Widloecher

Good Gym members join in clean up of Triangle Way on the Gunnersbury Estate

A group of volunteers were joined by members of Good Gym on Saturday (16 December) to clean up two local green spaces off Triangle Way on the Gunnersbury Estate. The group or 25 or so neighbours were helped by six members of the group, who take exercise by helping local communities with practical tasks.

The green spaces and pavements were covered in leaves, ivy and weeds, which they raked and put into bags, to be collected by Hounslow Council. Helpers, who also included Chiswick Councillor Ranjit Gill, were treated to complimentary mulled wine made by some of the neighbours, before the group headed to the Gunnersbury Triangle Club once the areas were cleared.

Images above: bags filled with leaves, sticks and ivy; wheelie bins to collect the rubbish; mulled wine stall for the volunteers

Gunnersbury Estate residents are running a campaign to clean up the area ahead of a front garden competition planned for next year. Details are yet to be finalised, but the competition will likely take place in June 2024.

The initiative was organised by local resident Tony Traxler, who said:

“There were over 30 garden wheelie bins of leaves, weeds and sticks at 240L per barrel. It was great to see residents put in some elbow grease to make the neighbourhoods look nicer.”

The group were careful to maintain hedgehog habitats, built by Kelly Lavelle and Andrew Stevens. Mr Stevens is the Chair of the newly formed Bat Corner Association, made up of members who successfully campaigned against Transport for London building a car park on a local nature reserve earlier this year.

READ ALSO: Transport for London staff car park at ‘Bat Corner’ turned down

Images above: hedgehog habitats built by local residents

No help from the Council

The residents decided to take matters into their own hands, having previously tried to contact the local authority about cleaning up the area. The Council’s portal FixMyStreet, where people can report local problems, shows there have been seven reports submitted to Hounslow Council concerning overgrown weeds and tree branches since July.

A second clean-up of the area is in the works for April 2024.

Maximum Council Tax rise highly likely in new year, says Hounslow Council Leader

Image above: Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

Lack of government funding “essentially coerces” local authorities into maximum rises, says Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

The Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, has issued a stark warning about the challenging financial landscape facing local authorities across London, but given the shaky finances of some local authorities, he also sought to reassure residents that LB Hounslow was not on the brink of bankruptcy.

In the aftermath of the latest round of government funding, which saw a 6.1% annual increase, several London local authorities have raised the alarm, saying they are close to  having to resort to drastic measures, such as filing a Section 114 notice and providing only essential services.

Cllr Rajawat ruled out Hounslow taking such extreme measures but acknowledged the likelihood of a maximum 4.99% rise in Council Tax next year. He put the blame squarely on the structure of local government funding that he says “essentially coerces” local authorities into such moves.

In an interview on BBC Radio London, he expressed disappointment with the outcome of Michael Gove’s lobbying for increased funding for local councils. The announcement on 18 December left Cllr Rajawat ‘really disappointed’, stating that each passing year presented greater challenges in balancing the borough’s books.

Despite this, Cllr Rajaway said Hounslow often challenges tough decisions early and head-on, distinguishing it from other councils facing fiscal turmoil.

The financial strains on local governments are multifaceted, stemming from rising costs in adult social care, homelessness, and special needs education. This financial pressure has resulted in a series of ‘bankruptcies’ among councils, irrespective of their political affiliations.

London Councils anticipates a substantial funding shortfall of at least £500 million, a deficit that could significantly impact local services throughout the capital based on the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024-25.

Image above: Hounslow House

“Deeply disappointing”

Cllr Rajawat added:

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Government has failed to recognise the ongoing strain and increasing demand on council services with the 2024/25 settlement.

“Chronic underfunding for the last 10 years has seen our budgets and services stretched and squeezed. Despite urgent calls to address the skyrocketing costs and financial distress every borough is experiencing, they have failed to listen or recognise the damage done by a wave of reckless policies which have caused a crisis in health, social care, the asylum system and temporary accommodation.

“With rising costs pinching households’ every penny, Hounslow, like many local authorities, have been shouldering the responsibility to provide the additional support residents need.

“Sadly, the proposed local government funding settlement is calculated on the assumption that London Boroughs will put up Council Tax by a maximum of 4.99%, which provides more than half of the additional funding in Hounslow’s settlement. If this proposal goes ahead, we will face the stark choice of either putting up Council Tax or having a significant budget shortfall. Once again, the Government is placing further strain on hard-pressed citizens. “

Cllr Claire Holland, Acting Chair of London Councils, said:

“We are deeply concerned 2024 looks set to be another year of massive budget pressures and a continuing squeeze on Londoners’ local services.

“The measures announced by the government fall short of what we need. While the funding deal will bring some relief, it won’t be enough to plug the budget gaps we face and restore stability to town hall finances.”

To hear the full interview with Cllr Rajawat the on BBC Radio London Breakfast show listen here from 10:47.

Viennese New Year’s Day concert in Chiswick

Meet the ‘Tritsch-Tratsch Sinfonia’

On New Year’s Day the violinist David Juritz will be bringing a piece of Vienna to St Michael’s and All Angels Church with a programme of Strauss and Lehar waltzes and polkas.

He will be joined by Chiswick’s star mezzo, Milly Forrest, the bassist Sandy Burnett, the eminent pianist Mark Viner, and an ensemble he’s created especially for the concert, the Tritsch-Tratsch Sinfonia.

Opening with Die Fledermaus Overture, the programme will feature favourites such as Thunder and Lightning Polka, Wiener Blut, Vilja’s song from the Merry Widow and, of course, the Blue Danube.

Putting on a New Year’s Day concert in Chiswick has been a long-held ambition of David’s:

“I spent a few years as director of a Viennese gala which toured the UK and Ireland. It was fantastic fun – the music is so upbeat and positive, but it has real substance too. For me it’s the perfect way to mark the beginning of a New Year.”

The idea of a concert came together after a chance meeting:

“I bumped into Father Kevin Morris in the vegetable section of Sainsbury’s and we took it from there.

“It’s fantastic to have Home Instead as a sponsor and their support means we’ll be able to raise money for The Upper Room and for St Michael and All Angels Church.”

Images above: Violinist David Juritz

The Strauss family became Vienna’s most prominent musical family in the 19th century even though the founder of the dynasty, Johann Strauss the elder, was vehemently opposed to any of his sons becoming musicians.

Against his father’s strict instructions, Johann junior had secret music lessons, and while his first concert in Vienna created a sensation, it marked the beginning of a bitter feud with the older Strauss which was never completely resolved.

As demand for the young Strauss’s music became overwhelming, his brothers Josef and Eduard were drawn into the enterprise. Strauss orchestras were soon touring as far afield as St Petersburg and Boston where Johann conducted an orchestra of 1,000 with a 20,000-strong choir to an audience of 100,000.

With eleven musicians, Juritz’s Tritsch Tratsch Sinfonia is rather more modest in size but more than makes up for it in quality.

“Putting the band together was great – they’re a very classy bunch of players so it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

There will also be a very special guest taking to the stage with them. Not only has Father Morris made the church available, but he has generously offered to join the performers to display his talents as a multi-instrumentalist, something Juritz says he is “quite excited” about.

Image above: Bassist Sandy Burnett; soprano Milly Forrest

A Viennese New Year at St Michael’s

Venue

St Michael & All Angels Church, London, W4 1LW

Date

Monday 1 January 2024 at 4.30pm (concert finishes 6.20pm)

Standard Ticket       £20.00

18 and under           £5.00

Family ticket (two adults and two 18-and-under) £45

Book tickets: ticketsource

Full programme

Johann Strauss II    Overture to Die Fledermaus

Johann Strauss II    Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

Franz Lehár              Vilja from The Merry Widow

Johann Strauss II    Champagne Polka

Johann Strauss II    Im Krapfenwald’l

Johann Strauss II    Wiener Blut

Charles Gounod      Je veux vivre from Romeo et Juliet

Interval

Johann Strauss II    Unter Donner und Blitzen

Émile Waldteufel    Les Patineurs

Francis Poulenc       Les chemins d’amour

Johann Strauss II    Pizzicato Polka

Josef Strauss                        Jokey Polka

Johann Strauss II    Adele’s Song from Die Fledermaus

Johann Strauss II    On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Johann Strauss I      Radetsky March

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Brentford 1, Aston Villa 2

Charades: Janelt and Ghoddos act out “force field”

Last home game before Christmas, Sunday 17 December

So much for Christmas cheer. Those supporters, home and away, who ventured to the Gtech Stadium to watch some classy football from the Bees and their high-flying Midlands visitors must have wondered whether tin hats were required when the game exploded into a bad-tempered display of petulance and scuffling.

What triggered the troubles? Could it have been a foolhardy flying tackle by Ben Mee, which resulted in a yellow – no, hang on a minute – a red card, reducing the Bees to ten men after 71 minutes? Never a red card, was Thomas Frank’s view.

Or perhaps the simmering became an open fire when referee David Coote failed to award a penalty as Neal Maupay rushed into the Villa penalty area and was up-ended. A defining moment in the game and one not helped by VAR, said Frank when he came down from the stratosphere following the final whistle.

Nooo! you could almost hear the mass sigh 

But there was more: Ollie Watkins, an ex-Bee previously made welcome by the Brentford crowd on his visits, lost goodwill when pointing a figure from the back of the net to single out an oaf who he believed had abused him. And then came the carnival of errors, started when keeper Emiliano Martínez chased a ludicrous back-pass drifting just past a post to the considerable mirth of Maupay (and several thousand others, I imagine).

Maupay’s brush as he ran past Martínez – light as a feather compared to the real thing, although the keeper went down as if machine-gunned, the cissy – seemed to get his mad up, enough to try to remove the Bee’s shirt as he sat on the turf. All around, practically every player became involved in some kind of brawl. Several were issued with yellow cards, plus a red one for bad luck to Boubacar Kamara.

Referee Coote was probably too busy dispensing cards – Frank and Villa’s manager, Unai Emery, each received one – to pay attention to the carnage around him. Certainly, recording names in his notebook looked bizarre as chaos reigned.

Earlier there had been a football game, and a rather good one at that. Mikkel Dasmsgaard missed a chance that would have seen Brentford leap into the ascendancy over a Villa side not yet wholly cohesive and Joane Wissa skidded when well placed before the offside flag stopped play. This wasn’t the way one would have forecast the performance of a Bees side so stretched through wholesale injuries that it seemed unlikely they could actually field eleven players all at the same time.

And worse was to come for the visitors when they fell behind in the dying seconds of the first half, Keane Lewis-Potter seizing upon a wayward corner to shoot through a forest of legs to score his first goal for the club.

The first half’s pace was fast, but the second furious

Villa came more into the game after the break, drawing excellent defensive discipline from the Bees until Mee’s rash clattering of substitute Leon Bailey. Mr Coote initially dispensed a yellow card but changed his mind after prompting from video referee Craig Pawson. A game-changer if ever there was one, which an unmarked Alex Moreno proved six minutes later by heading home a meticulous cross from Bailey.

Watkins, having been largely subdued by the attentions of the defence until then, firmly headed Villa in front five minutes from the end of normal time after Kamara’s flick of a kick had found him lurking purposely in the goalmouth. While understandable, the striker’s finger-pointing celebration appeared to be incendiary. Pandemonium swiftly followed.

At the end of the day, Villa were nestling below only Arsenal in the Premier League table, level on points with Liverpool. Brentford are twelfth, which looks reasonable until one sees the cluster of sides gathering below them, equal on points or only just behind.

I reflected later to my mate Charlie that a difficult period is probably ahead. ‘Happy Christmas,’ said Charlie.

Not over yet: the ten minutes of extra time were about to get very messy

Brentford: Flekken; Zanka, Pinnock, Mee; Roerslev (substitute Olakigbe 89’), Damsgaard (sub Onyeka 68’) Nørgaard, Janelt (sub Yarmoliuk 88’), Ghoddos; Lewis-Potter (sub Maupay 68’), Wissa (sub CollIns 76’).

Aston Villa: Martínez; Konsa, Diego Carlos, Torres (sub Zaniolo 81’); Cash (sub Bailey 65’), McGinn, Kamara, J Ramsey (sub Dendoncker 90’), Moreno; Diaby (sub Durán 65’), Watkins.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to 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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Charing Cross Hospital prepares for ‘challenging winter’

Image above: Charing Cross Hospital

Long waits for A&E likely

Charing Cross Hospital is preparing for a tough winter, anticipating increased demand for emergency services and more strikes by junior doctors.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced two strikes by junior doctors, scheduled for this week and the first week of January. The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) also plans a strike during the same period.

Junior doctor will be on strike from 7.00 am on Wednesday 20 December, to 7.00am on Saturday 23 December, and then from 7.00 am on Wednesday 3 January, to 7.00am on Tuesday, 9 January, 2024.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, including Charing Cross Hospital, warns there will be a significant impact on services during the strikes. Emergency services will operate, but most planned operations and outpatient appointments during the strikes will need to be rescheduled. Patients affected will be contacted for new appointments.

The hospital expects longer waits in A&E and advises people with non-emergency medical issues to use NHS 111 online. For emergency care we should still use 999. The hospital is already facing high demand in A&E and tackling the backlog of long waits for planned care from previous strike periods.

Hospital focuses on reducing ‘unnecessary admissions’

The hospital has received £2.7 million extra funding to expand services and increase staff to speed up patient admissions and discharges. Efforts will focus on caring for older patients to prevent unnecessary admissions, as many elderly people are admitted to hospital and stay far longer than they need to medically, because of the time it takes to sort out their social care.

The NHS is trying to implement ‘same day emergency care’ by expanding critical care outreach teams. Services such as Homelink will help discharge medically fit patients needing support.

Remote patient monitoring through ‘virtual wards’ will continue, a system which was used for more than 1,600 patients last year. The discharge lounge at Charing Cross will stay open till 7 pm to reduce turnaround times for patients waiting to go home.

Claire Hook, the chief operating officer, of Charing Cross, said:

“Our teams have put in a huge amount of work to make the most of our capacity this winter and ensure we continue to provide the best possible care”.

Yeats’ biographer Professor Roy Foster delivers inaugural WB Yeats Bedford Park lecture

Image above: Professor Roy Foster; photograph Anne-Marie Fyfe

Marking 100 years since WB Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

Guest blog by Cahal Dallat

A unique occasion on Thursday night, and a fitting conclusion to a year of WB Yeats Nobel Prize Centenary celebrations, when world-leading Yeats expert, Roy Foster delivered the inaugural WB Yeats Bedford Park Lecture.

Unique, as it’s the first occasion on which, as the London-Irish poet’s authorised biographer, Professor Foster has lectured in Yeats’s boyhood London neighbourhood of Bedford Park where the Nobel-Prize-winner lived, firstly, as a schoolboy with his migrant family, and where he later created some of the world’s best-loved poems and wrote his first staged play.

The latter led to the creation of Dublin’s world-famous Abbey Theatre which, together with his status as an internationally recognised poet resulted, as Foster pointed out, in his acclaim by the Swedish Academy where he travelled to accept his award 100 years ago last week.

Image above: Roy Foster begins his lecture on Yeats’s Nobel Prize, at St Michael & All Angels Church

Foster’s lecture not only explored the reasons for the Academy’s award but Yeats’s acceptance speech in which he recognised the Award’s importance for the newly independent Ireland that the cultural revival he began in 1890s Bedford Park had done much to facilitate.

But, with his detailed knowledge of Yeats’s poetry and letters – having recorded the poet’s development and later career in two magisterial volumes – Foster was also able to point out the tension between Yeats’s insistence that the Award was apolitical, and his sense that politics, in a Europe still very much in conflict five years after the end of the Great War, was becoming increasingly divisive and troubling.

Foster’s championing of Yeats as an international figure whose writings had global, rather than local, implications, held the capacity audience spellbound in St Michael and All Angels Church (where the Yeats family worshipped in the 1880s and 1890s) and made for a lively Q&A session afterwards, chaired by WB Yeats Bedford Park Project organiser, Cahal Dallat, who introduced Professor Foster.

Image above: (L to R) Director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Torin Douglas; Cahal Dallat; Mayor of Ealing, Hitesh Tailor; Professor Roy Foster; Leader of Hounslow Council, Shantanu Rajawat; Vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church, Fr Kevin Morris; Cllr Gerald McGregor

Hosted by the Chiswick Book Festival, the event was attended by Mayor of Ealing, Hitesh Tailor, and Council Leader at London Borough of Hounslow, Shantanu Rajawat. Bedford Park is divided between the two boroughs and the two homes in which the Yeats family lived in the 1880s/1890s were in Woodstock Road (now Hounslow) and Blenheim Road (now Ealing).

Both councils have supported the creation of Conrad Shawcross’s dazzling #EnwroughtLight at the entrance to Bedford Park as a permanent tribute to Yeats’s genius and the role the unique artistic and intellectual community here played in his development as well as having helped fund the creation of “Discover Bedford Park with WB Yeats”, the only poetry smartphone trail of its kind in Britain which has continued to attract visitors all through the year since its launch by Jeremy Vine last January.

Cahal Dallat is a poet, the author of Beautiful Lofty Things and the driving force behind the WB Yeats Bedford Park Project

READ ALSO: Cahal Dallat publishes new book of poetry

READ ALSO: Discover Bedford Park with poet WB Yeats

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Episode 39: Piers Morgan, hacking and the unseemly side of journalism

The intrusions into the private lives of celebrities rehashed by the phone hacking case brought by Prince Harry against Mirror Group Newspapers represent a “dreadful low” in the history of British journalism, says Mihir Bose.

The High Court ruled that Harry was a victim of phone hacking on multiple occasions, as were his friends. Former BBC Sports News editor Mihir discusses the “cheap and tawdry” tactics of their fellow hacks with Economics Editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political analyst Nigel Dudley in this week’s Three Old Hacks podcast.

Thank you to Bill Kay for writing in and you can view his full letter by clicking here.

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


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

Street food market ‘Food St’ returns to Chiswick High Rd on Christmas Eve

“More Christmassy than the North Pole”

Guest blog by Richard Johnson

Our Christmas Eve market promises to be something REALLY special. With Esme and Ellie from Chiswick Theatre Arts (Elsa and Anna in the school’s recent production of Frozen) singing a selection of Christmas carols, FIFTEEN of London’s coolest street food traders serving up menus bang full of seasonal specials, mulled wine and mince pies AND our secret recipe reindeer food to take home with you and scatter by your fireplace, Chiswick High Road promises to be more Christmassy than the North Pole.

No-one wants to cook on Christmas Eve. Take it easy. Hang out with the neighbours, and get filled with Christmas cheer. How about the roasted peppercorn duck bao (with onion gravy and cranberry chilli oil) from Malaysian specialists Lime Face? In their signature green van? Or homemade choux buns from Polly Eats London, filled with Christmas custard cream, homemade jams and jellies, topped with whipping cream, mascarpone cream, and decorations? Sure feels like Christmas to me.

Images above: Homemade choux buns from Polly Eats London

“I use only homemade butter in the choux pastry” says Dominika “and no artificial colouring or flavours. My grandmother was a master of choux buns; she indulged us – the children – with delicious homemade buns when we visited her. She taught me basics, and I mastered the flavours of fillings and toppings.” Perfect for Christmas Eve, when everyone’s excited to be out and about – but equally excited to get home and shut the door in readiness for the big day.

How about treating the family to Lucien’s signature Christmas cheese toastie? That combines a seasonal four-cheese blend with tomatoes, slow roasted in garlic and thyme? “The tomatoes are a labour of love, taking about four hours of gentle cooking to extract their sweet, concentrated flavour” says Lucien. “The outcome is a toastie of perfect balance, with the richness of the cheeses beautifully offset by the tangy, aromatic tomatoes”. Modesty never got you anywhere in the street food game.

Images above: Roasted Peppercorn Duck Bao with onion gravy and cranberry chilli oil; traditional mince pies

Have you tried The Mighty Soft Shell Crab from Herefordshire? If not, you should. One of the street food OGs, TMSSC have perfected their soft-shell crab tempura – “plus our homemade sweet chilli sauce, full fat creme fraiche, and seasoned leaves” says Nick. “With a soft tortilla to mop it all up.” The sweet chilli sauce is available as a stocking filler. While Hush Hush Chefs, the West London artisan bakers, will send you home with baskets full of quiches, pies and rolls. And Sprouting Pea, will happily box up THE most delicious vegan minces pie to go.

That’s not all. With the freshest Egyptian falafel, traditional Turkish gozleme, Cape Malay curry, Brazilian ribeye steak sandwich, momos from Nepal, London’s hottest dogs, Nigerian barbecue, French galettes and crepes AND the ugliest ugly dumplings, it’s our best Food St yet. So we’re ending 2023 with a bang! And our three-month trial comes to an end.

The deadline for emails of support (to licensing@hounslow.gov.uk) is January 2, and then the council will convene to decide if we are allowed to return with more space for seating, traders and maybe a place for food demos.

We have litter picked like crazy (in fact, there was very little litter to pick up in the first place, but we wanted to show willing), plus we’ve worked with lots of Chiswick food and drink businesses – and lots more want to get involved in 2024. We are bringing lots of different cuisines, and different ways of eating, to the High Road.

The local cafes and restaurants have been rammed on both Sundays that Food St has parked up. We commissioned an official survey – by a member of the Market Research Society – which shows what a benefit we are to the local economy. In a world where we’re being told to Save Our High Road, fingers crossed we are allowed to continue.

Richard Johnson is the Chiswick-based organiser of the Food St market.

The Christmas Eve market will be open from 11am – 4pm on Sunday 24 December in Old Market Place, outside the old police station on Chiswick High Rd.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Hounslow Council introduces card payments for parking for those who don’t use mobile apps

Image above: A parking metre

Six month trial to begin in the new year

Hounslow Council has announced the introduction of payment for parking by bank card at certain locations, to address concerns about ‘digital exclusion’ expressed by residents, following the transition to cashless parking systems in 2016.

Only about two percent of households in the UK do not have mobile phones. While 98% of all adults aged 16-24 in the UK  now have a smart phone, among the older age groups the percentage is lower. As of 2023, 86% adults aged 55-64 owned a smartphone device. Over the age of 65 the percentage decreases to 80%, which leaves them without any means of paying for parking in areas where cashless parking has been introduced.

The only way to pay for parking in many places in London is by using cashless payment apps such as PayByPhone or RinGo. They account for 35,000 parking sessions per week, but they leave those without smartphones without any other options for paying.

To address this, the Council has decided to introduce card payment terminals across 13 car parks and seven park and shop locations in the borough. Cllr Salman Shaheen, Cabinet Member for Recreation, Public Space and Parking, said:

‘‘Hounslow is a listening council. We know the uptake of the PayByPhone system has been very smooth for the majority of residents. However, there are a small number of residents who’ve written to us concerned about digital inclusion.

“This is something we take very seriously, which is why we are launching a trial cashless parking terminal option using card. We are a borough that stands for inclusion and not exclusion.

‘‘Through the trail we encourage users to provide us with feedback and the data we collect will help us to make a balanced and informed decision, always keeping the residents needs as a priority.’’

The six-month trial, set to start in the new year, will be used to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of introducing card payment options alongside the existing PayByPhone system.

These new terminals will provide a contactless payment service, offering users the flexibility to enter their vehicle registration and select the appropriate tariff, and they will allow for 30 minutes of free parking sessions at specific stop and shop locations, along with emissions-based charging.

The current PayByPhone system, operational across council-owned car parks, will continue alongside the new card payment terminals. Residents can use the PayByPhone app or phone service for payment, with PayPoint’s 200+ retailers across the borough providing an alternative for cash or card payments, eliminating the sole reliance on phones for transactions.

Car parks and streets with the cashless terminal options in Chiswick

Car parks

Bath Road

Chiswick Common Road

On-street

Strand on the Green (Chiswick) – outside 106-108

Turnham Green Terrace (Chiswick) – between Chiswick Common Road and Chiswick High Road, west side

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Sam’s Riverside restaurant voted one of London’s favourites

Image above: Sam’s Riverside restaurant, Hammersmith

“I am hugely proud that the readers of Harden’s Ltd have voted Sam’s Riverside their second favourite restaurant in London”

Readers of Harden’s Restaurant Guide have voted Sam’s Riverside restaurant in Hammersmith their second favourite restaurant in London.

The restaurant critics Richard and Peter Harden publish a guide to London restaurants every December with categories such as ‘Top gastronomic experience’, ‘Best for business’, ‘Best breakfast / brunch’, ‘Best bar / pub food and ‘Favourite’ restaurant.

“I am hugely proud that the readers of Harden’s Ltd have voted Sam’s Riverside their second favourite restaurant in London” owner Sam Harrison told The Chiswick Calendar.

“This is the category that is most important to me. We are a local restaurant based on our amazingly supportive local guests and many relationships go back nearly 20 years, to Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick.

“When you look at some of the incredible names that we are associated with and we are only four years old. 2023 has been one of the toughest I have ever known for restaurants and hospitality and so to get this little “pat of the back” means so much to me personally and to the team.”

River Café and La Trompette also in the top six

West London has three restaurants voted favourites by readers: The River Café in W6 was voted number five and La Trompette in Chiswick voted number six. Number one was Chez Bruce in Wandsworth.

Sam opened Sam’s Riverside in 2019 and has recently opened sister restaurant Sam’s Waterside in Brentford. Having established Sam’s Riverside next to Hammersmith Bridge and opened a small chain of delicatessen – grocers under the ‘Sam’s Larder’ brand, he opened Sam’s Waterside just over a month ago.

READ ALSO: Sam’s Waterside, Brentford review

Images above: Beer and Parmesan Churros at Sam’s Riverside; Frozen by Sam meal sold by Sam’s Larder

The Chiswick branch of Sam’s Larder is a member of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme. See their current Club Card offer here:
Sam’s Larder Club Card offer

If you are looking for ideas for Christmas presents, Sam’s Larder has some suggestions for you:

The Chiswick Calendar Christmas Shopping Guide / Sam’s Larder

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Hounslow Council expresses ‘significant concern’ over future of Treaty Centre

Image above: Treaty Centre in Hounslow

New owners criticised for neglecting the shopping centre, as retailers abandon it

Hounslow Council has expressed ‘significant concern’ over the management and future of the Treaty Centre, the retail and community hub in Hounslow town centre. Hounslow town centre is designated a ‘Mayoral Housing Zone’, with 4,000 new homes being delivered between 2015 and 2025 and redevelopment of the shopping centre is a major part of the plan.

The ‘vision for Hounslow’ includes new leisure, cultural, community spaces and workspaces that ‘will make Hounslow a more desirable place to live and work’, but in an unusually public move, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, Cllr Tom Bruce, has issued a statement criticising BYM Hounslow Limited, the new owners and operators of the Treaty Centre, accusing it of overseeing the decline of the shopping centre.

Originally opened in the 1970s, the shopping centre it has been the economic heart of Hounslow town for decades. Built on several levels, the Centre hosts a variety of retail outlets, including many of the well known high street chains such as Next, H&M, River Island and Wilko.

Complaints from retailers and the public about a lack of security, maintenance and cleanliness have meant that retailers are beginning to leave and seek alternative premises.

“The community is quite rightly concerned about the future of the Treaty Centre. It should be an integral part of a thriving high street and local economy with businesses and community organisations providing goods, services and employment for local people”, says Cllr Bruce.

“Moves to secure vacant possession of the centre by the new owners and operators seem premature and risks harm to the town centre economy. I urge them to speed up their plans to regenerate the Treaty Centre”.

Cllr Tom Bruce

 ‘Little has been done to reassure the Council that the current operation and planned redevelopment of the Treaty Centre supports the businesses and community of Hounslow’

Cllr Bruce’s statement says:

‘We have expressed significant concern with BYM Hounslow Limited, the new owners and operators of the Treaty Centre, over the future of the shopping centre and their redevelopment plans.

‘Despite meeting with representatives of BYM on several occasions throughout the summer and autumn this year, little has been done to reassure the Council that the current operation and planned redevelopment of the Treaty Centre supports the businesses and community of Hounslow.

‘It is deeply concerning that a halt in meaningful pre-application engagement with the Council has coincided with an apparent decline in the operation of the centre with increased complaints about a lack of security, maintenance and cleanliness and retailers beginning to leave and seek alternative premises.

‘The community is quite rightly concerned about the future of the Treaty Centre. It should be an integral part of a thriving high street and local economy with businesses and community organisations providing goods, services and employment for local people.

‘Moves to secure vacant possession of the centre by the new owners and operators seem premature and risks harm to the town centre economy. I urge them to speed up their plans to regenerate the Treaty Centre.

“While regeneration of the centre poses a fantastic opportunity for the town centre and could realise a host of benefits including providing vital new homes for local people; I have always been clear that development in this borough does not happen for the sake of development.

‘It must always be right for the community and unlock the full potential of the area, creating thriving and sustainable neighbourhoods. We are keen to actively work with any developer that shows this commitment.

‘The Council has expressed these specific concerns directly with Directors of BYM Hounslow Limited and urged them to swiftly re-engage in pre-application discussions to deliver a realistic timetable for development.’

Theatre at the Tabard’s Christmas family show The Secret Garden nominated for an award

Image above: Theatre at the Tabard, The Secret Garden 

London Pub Theatres Standing Ovation Awards

Theatre at the Tabard’s Christmas family show The Secret Garden has been nominated for the Standing Ovation Awards, run by London Pub Theatres.

The production, directed by Theatre at the Tabard’s Simon Reilly, is an adaptation of Frances Hodgeson Burnett’s classic story, written over 100 years ago. Set in the closing days of the British Raj, Mary Lennox arrives from India to live in Yorkshire with her uncle, the emotionally unavailable, but essentially kind and well meaning widower Archibald Craven (Richard Lounds), after her parents die in a cholera outbreak.

The traumatised child has never known love, as her parents had been distant and uninterested in her, and she says her ayah, the servant who had brought her up, “hated me”. The book is about loneliness and loss, and overcoming adversity.

READ ALSO: The Secret Garden review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: Daisy Rae as Mary Lennox, Theatre at The Tabard; photographs by Charles Flint

‘Exceptional achievement’

London Pub Theatres’ Standing Ovation Awards celebrate ‘individuals and companies who have shown exceptional achievement in the pub theatre environment.

‘We are keen that this should be encouraging innovation, greater access, sustainability, diversity, under represented voices, taking risks and keeping alive our theatrical history’ says the organisation.

Nominations are made throughout the year. Finalists are announced in September and all finalists are invited to the Awards ceremony held in October.

Other nominations this month include On No It Isn’t at Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley, Spy Movie: The Play! at the Hope Theatre in Islington, Blueberries for the Rainbow at the Bread & Roses theatre in Clapham, A Woman Walks into a Bank at Theatre 503 (formerly the Latchmere Theatre) in Battersea, Splinter at the Jack Studio Theatre in Brockley and The Trials of Galileo at the Old Red Lion in Clerkenwell. There are a similar number of nominations each month, so they are up against stiff competition.

“It’s great to be nominated for London Pub Theatres Standing Ovation nominations” Sarah Reilly of Theatre at the Tabard told The Chiswick Calendar.

“London Pub Theatres Magazine is a respected Theatres website with a unique focus on Pub theatres. There are over 50 such theatres in London so it’s wonderful to be recognised in this way. It feels like a seal of approval for all the hard work that the cast and creatives have undertaken.”

Image above: Next Door’s Baby 

In this year’s London Pub Theatre Awards, announced in October, there were three shows performed at Theatre at the Tabard which won Standing Ovation awards.

Keith Strachan won Best Director for Theatre at the Tabard’s productions of Next Door’s Baby  and About Bill; Mark Farrelly won Best Solo Show (Written By The Performer), for The Silence of Snow, about the tragic life of Chiswick based novelist Patrick Hamilton.

READ ALSO: Three Tabard shows win awards in the London Pub Theatre Awards

The awards help generate publicity and interest in small theatres and raise awareness of them beyond just the local communities they serve.

“This nomination, combined with the awards we won and were nominated for last year, I think shows we are rapidly re-establishing the Tabard as a powerhouse of theatre and finding new talent and shows” Sarah told us.

“We hope that it gives people a sign of the quality of the shows we are producing and encourages them to book some tickets. We hope everyone in Chiswick and beyond gets to see something at the Tabard in 2024.”

Image above: Jordan Rising as Dickon and Daisy Mae as Mary, in the snow

The Secret Garden has been very well reviewed, by The Chiswick Calendar, W4 and others:

‘It is simple magic. And it is simply magic’  Spy in the Stalls ★★★★

‘A festive feel good delight for all the family’  London Pub Theatres Magazine ★★★★

‘Ideal viewing for the whole family’  Broadway World ★★★★

The show runs until 31 December.

Book tickets to see The Secret Garden: Book Tickets

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Richmond MP suggests pedicabs to take people across Hammersmith Bridge

Image above: A pedicab provider previously proposed for Hammersmith Bridge

Vehicles could be “game changer” says Richmond MP

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has approved a proposal to use pedicabs to transport people across Hammersmith Bridge. The Council supports e-mobility solutions once stabilisation works end and subject to weight and loading restrictions.

The bridge closed to motor traffic in 2019 due to structural concerns and is currently only open to cyclists and pedestrians.

Sarah Olney MP

Richmond MP, Sarah Olney, wants authorities to consider running a pilot scheme allowing licensed rickshaws to ferry people across the bridge. In the Commons last month, Ms Olney said:

“I believe that rickshaws could be a real game changer for those in my constituency and elsewhere, who cannot access active travel. This could be a particular benefit as an interim transport solution across Hammersmith Bridge, which has been closed to motor traffic for almost five years.”

Baroness Stowell supported the idea in the House of Lords, emphasising the serious impact of the bridge closure on residents. She proposed designated cab ranks on either side of the bridge to facilitate the use of pedicabs.

This proposal coincides with debates in Parliament about granting Transport for London powers to regulate and license pedicabs in the capital. The unlicensed operation of pedicabs has seen tourists being charged more than £40 a mile in central London.

Speaking in the Lords, Baroness Stowell said:

“I will make a special plea. The problems associated with the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, which have gone on for years, are very serious for local residents. Let us turn a negative into a positive: pedicabs offer an opportunity for local residents to hire one to cross the bridge, which would be really useful.

“The local MP, Sarah Olney, has been running a campaign to encourage the Department for Transport to consider this and to designate cab ranks on either side of the bridge to enable that to happen. My simple request is for the minister to agree to meet me and the local MP to discuss this issue and its appropriateness.”

Ultimately, decisions about Hammersmith Bridge usage and maintenance rest with Hammersmith and Fulham Council as the bridge’s owner.

Ruth Cadbury raises leaseholder woes in House of Commons

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP speaking in the House of Commons

Urgent overhaul needed, says Brentford and Isleworth MP

Ruth Cadbury, the MP for Brentford & Isleworth, has highlighted longstanding issues plaguing leaseholders within her constituency during a House of Commons debate on new legislation governing leasehold. On Monday 11 December, Ms. Cadbury spoke about the many challenges faced by leaseholders in a debate on the Government’s Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, and said an urgent and comprehensive overhaul of the leasehold system was needed.

In a pointed exchange with Secretary of State Michael Gove, Ms. Cadbury condemned the government’s failure to address the “outdated” leasehold structure, branding it as an “antiquated” system.

She cited numerous local examples exposing the inherent flaws, specifically highlighting grievances against building managers whose inadequate service to leaseholders, coupled with failures to rectify issues surrounding service charge bills and building safety measures, were among the key concerns raised.

Ruth described the unique predicaments confronting individuals in shared ownership properties owned by companies such as L&Q and Peabody. Addressing the House, she said:

“For years, leaseholders, campaigners, and groups such as the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership have sounded alarms about the immense harm inflicted by our antiquated and feudal leasehold system.”

The MP stressed that leasehold-related issues rank among the foremost concerns voiced by constituents. She invited the Minister to witness first hand the multifaceted problems afflicting residents in various blocks of flats across her constituency, such as Great West Quarter in Brentford, Grove House in Isleworth, and Wheatstone House in Chiswick, emblematic of the widespread challenges stemming from the leasehold framework.

Householders are able to hold the freehold of their properties, but those who live in flats are constrained to lease ownership. The MP says she sees endless issues to do with service charges, insurance costs, and management problems which hamper the ability of property owners to manage or sell their properties effectively.

Ruth highlighted the ways in which this “rip-off” system inflicted substantial financial burdens on residents, a problem compounded by ongoing concerns about building safety, which made it impossible to sell flats.

MP says she will continue to be “strong voice” for leaseholders locally

She continued:

“The residents of Wheatstone House in Chiswick, which is managed by L&Q, face an example of poor repairs services. Leaseholders and tenants in that block have known their hot water and heating not to work for days on end. That started last winter and is back again this winter.

“Each time, residents get a lacklustre and slow response from L&Q. We saw a repeat of such poor service when Peabody-Catalyst dragged its feet for months in fixing the lift at Aplin Way in Isleworth, trapping some residents upstairs. The developer then tried to leave leaseholders with a huge bill.

“Others have district heating systems that run at 35% efficiency but cost a lot of money. What does the legislation do to address those issues?”

Speaking in full after her speech she said:

‘‘I know from listening to constituents from Chiswick to Hounslow, that they are frankly being ripped off by our outdated, antique and unfair leasehold system.

“I’ve heard about so many different issues from local residents, whether it’s the failure to repair lifts, to tackle anti-social behaviour or crime or the spiralling insurance costs. So many residents locally have seen huge hikes in their service charges, while the ‘services’ provided only ever get worse.

“I know that those living in so-called ‘shared ownership’, who are generally on fixed salary levels, are facing an extremely hard time with their rent, mortgage payments and service charge all increasing, while many are unable to sell their properties when they want to move on.

“This increase in costs during a cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on so many people locally, including many working for the NHS, police and local schools.

“While the Government’s new legislation introduces some much-needed changes it fails to go far enough and fails to end the injustice facing leaseholders in flats. That’s why I’ll continue to be a strong voice in Parliament for leaseholders locally and ensure the Government listen and address their concerns. ’’

Responding to criticism of the bill from Ms Cadbury and other MPs, including Conservatives, Lee Rowley, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety said:

“Our focus in the bill is on being able to make practical progress—to make the bill as practically useful as it can be—and then to have the greatest impact that it can have. Some, including Hon. Members tonight, have said that it does not go far enough; others have said that we should return to first principles and seek to build the whole system again.

“I am sure that those Hon. Members will make their case in Committee if they are part of it, and on Report and in subsequent stages. The Government seek to have a proposition on which can be built; one that is practical, achievable and makes a difference. The art of politics is about being able to make progress, and we think that the bill will make a significant difference to people’s lives.”

Housing Secretary approves plan to build 2,150 homes on Tesco Osterley site

Image above: Proposed plan for current Tesco Osterley site

Michael Gove overrules planning inspector to approve development

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has given the green light for a 2,150-home development on the site of a former Homebase and Tesco in Isleworth. He overruled the decision by a planning inspector, who had recommended refusal for the development on the grounds that some of the buildings were too high.

The planning application was made by St Edward Homes, a joint venture company owned by M&G Investments and Berkeley. They are proposing 16 blocks of up to 17-storeys on the two sites at the Tesco and Homebase sites on Syon Lane.

The plans on the current Tesco site would bring 4,500 new residents to the area over the next fifteen years. The Planning Inspectorate advised buildings of up to 20m high would “result in serious harm to the character and appearance of the area.”

Local councillors have always been against the plans due to a number of concerns, saying:

“Transport and infrastructure are significant concerns at these sites.”

They presented their arguments against the development in 2022 to the planning inspector. In the letter they say:

“As ward councillors, we are not against any development, but are averse to the schemes that are not fit for the area, for the needs of local residents. Representatives should expect the best for their residents and the future occupiers of any homes developed.

“We should not settle for less, and urge support for a development in a location which would be above sufficient in terms of quality and the infrastructure to support it.”

Image above: Proposed new Tesco site

Tesco will be moving from its current site at Osterley to the site on the A4 which is currently occupied by Homebase. There will be a car park for 400 customers at the site and facilities that could house a GP surgery are being built within the new Tesco store.

Across the two sites there are currently 925 retail car parking spaces. When the Tesco Osterley site is redeveloped there will be 525 residential car parking spaces created.

Twickenham MP delivers petition to stop Thames Water’s plans to dump more sewage in Thames

Image above: Munira Wilson MP

Peititon signed by nearly 30,000 people presented in the Commons

MP for Twickenham Munira Wilson presented a petition on Thames Water’s proposals to put treated sewage in the river at Teddington, in the House of Commons on Tuesday (12 December).  The petition has been signed by almost 30,000 people.

She said: “I sincerely hope that Ministers will listen to the more than 700 residents who have signed this petition, the almost 30,000 people who have signed the Change.org petition and the many hundreds who responded to the company’s consultation on the water resources management plan, all of whom are deeply concerned about the significant environmental, social and construction impacts.”

Residents expressed their concern over the water company’s Direct River Abstraction (DRA) plans to extract up to 75 million litres of water from the Thames at Teddington and replace it with treated effluent from Mogden Sewage Treatment work.

After presenting the petition in the Commons, Miss Wilson said via ‘X’:

“It’s bad for residents, the environment & water bill payers & barely scratches the surface of the problem it seeks to resolve.”

Thames Water set out the proposal in their draft regional plan for South East England in August, and say it is needed to secure water supplies for future generations in London.

Image above: Thames Water van; library image

Thames Water admit they cannot pay back £190m debt

On the same day the Twickenham MP presented the petition, Thames Water chairman Sir Adrian Montague was being grilled by MPs over the company’s financial crisis. He admitted Thames Water, which supplies water to London, could not pay back their £190m loan, which is due to be paid off next April.

Appearing before MPs on the Environment Committee in Parliament and said:

“This is a seminal moment for Thames. You know, we were very fragile in July. The chief executive resigned without notice ten days before a change of chairman. The financial markets took fright.

“We have stabilised the business. We need to make a fresh start. I know management always says this, but it’s true in this case, because this is a fresh team.”

READ ALSO: Thames Water ‘cannot pay back £190m debt in time’

West London MPs criticise Thames Water

Ruth CadburyBoth the MP for Brentford and Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, and the MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter, have recently criticised Thames Water for their abysmal lack of service.

Ruth Cadbury said:

‘‘Residents across West London have had to put up with a terrible service from Thames Water for far too long. This has included the smell and mosquitos from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works, the flooding of the Duke of Northumberland river in early 2020 and the continued pumping of dilute sewage into the Thames.

“I know from listening to people locally that they are fed up with the lack of action from Thames Water, which comes alongside a continued rise in water bills. The river Thames is the beating heart of our local area and of London, and provides a space not just for animals but also for water activities such as kayaking, rowing and for riverside walks.

“I also know how concerned and worried people are about the new plans to take water out of the Thames at Teddington and replace it with diluted sewage.”

In an interview with The Chiswick Calendar Andy Slaughter also attacked Thames Water’s “hopelessly inadequate” record. He told us:

“I think people are seriously worried about whether they are going to survive. If they don’t survive, what’s going to happen? Are they going to sell out to new private owners, who will somehow bail them out the debt crisis they’re in?

Is the government going to step in and and take over, either temporarily or permanently? I don’t think anybody knows the answer to those questions”.

Duke of Northumberland loses bid to build on green space in Isleworth

Image above: Park Road Allotments

Victory for local campaigners in long running battle

The Duke of Northumberland’s bid to turn a green space in Isleworth, where currently there are allotments, into a housing development has been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.

‘Save the Park Road Allotments’ campaigners have been fighting a protracted battle to stop the Duke developing the site for several years. The land has been used as allotments for over 100 years after the 7th Duke of Northumberland, owner of Syon Park, leased it to Heston and Isleworth Urban District Council for the local community, including soldiers returning from the First World War, to grow food.

The land is now managed by Northumberland Estates on behalf of the current Duke, who also owns Alnwick Castle and 120,000 acres in Northumberland and the Albury Estate in Surrey. The Duke is one of a handful of aristocrats richer than the King, with a net worth estimated at £370 million.

Plans to build 80 properties on the three acre site were turned down by Hounslow Council’s planning committee in October 2021. The Duke appealed against the decision, but on Tuesday 12 December the Planning Inspectorate rejected the plans on grounds that it would harm protected local open space and heritage assets, and would be detrimental to allotment provision in an area where demand outstripped supply.

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth said via ‘X’:

“A huge victory for local residents in Isleworth in their David v Goliath battle to save the Park Road Allotments.”

Image above: Councillor Salman Shaheen (L) protesting two years ago

Result “could not have been better” – Cllr Salman Shaheen

Councillor Salman Shaheen, a key figure in the fight against the development, told the Chiswick Calendar:

“This result couldn’t have been better. The plans were resoundingly rejected and there were no grey areas in the final decision. The site is now clearly protected.

“The plans were detrimental to the green space and when the Council has already pledged to building 1,000 new council homes in the current administration, the same number we built in our previous administration, these new flats wouldn’t have had any green spaces and that’s not what we want. The Council wants more green spaces, not less.

“I think this now puts to and end any plans for any development and if the Duke was to come back with a new plan I think that would be rejected.”

Image above: Park Rd Allotments

Allotments are key part of community and green future

One of the plot owners previously told the Chiswick Calendar:

“We understand how frustrating this is for the Estates but rather than just close the allotments, which is what they plan to do, we really hope to be able to work together to find a mutually acceptable solution so that we can continue to cultivate and grow.

“The allotments continue to teach me and my family the power of community and give me hope for a better greener future for all.”

Local MP Ruth Cadbury has supported the campaigners throughout. In 2021 she said:

“Allotments play such an underrated role in our society by providing a space to grow cheap food, a space for people without large gardens to enjoy the outdoors as well as being a green lung for our local area.”

She emphasised that the pandemic had underscored the importance of preserving green spaces for public use and questioned the need to sacrifice the allotments.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Costa Coffee on Chiswick High Road closes as two new cafes open

Image above: Costa Coffee 

Costa Coffee to close in February 2024

Costa Coffee is to close their café on Chiswick High Rd in February 2024. The coffee chain currently has over 2,800 branches across the country. It recently announced it would also be closing branches in Ellesmere Port, Wigan, Witney, Bingley, Worcester, Oakham, West Bridgeford and Malvern.

A Costa Coffee Spokesperson told the Chiswick Calendar:

“We can confirm that our Costa Coffee store in Chiswick will close its doors for trade on the 6 February 2024. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. All team members will be re-deployed to nearby stores.”

The nearest Costa Coffee will now be King’s Street in Hammersmith.

Two new cafés in its place

The closure announcement comes in the same week that two new cafés have announced they are opening in Chiswick. Matchado, specialising in traditional Japanese tea, is opening in the premises that was previously Good Boy Café on Elliot Road, facing Chiswick Back Common.

READ ALSO: New Japanese tea cafe to open on Chiswick Back Common

Bronzo bistro is also opening its doors in the premises that used to be Al Saggio, near the Roebuck pub on Chiswick High Rd. The property has been empty for many months but now a new shop front has appeared and Bronzo is advertising for staff, advertising for baristas and servers.

Council backs proposals for regeneration of Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground

Image above: Computer Generated Impression of proposed site development

Historic site where the marathon was held during the 1908 London Olympics

Proposals to restore the historic stadium and make major changes to the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground in Hartington Rd, Grove Park, by Latymer School have received the backing of Hounslow Council planners.

The Latymer Foundation’s ambitious application (P/2023/1844) has been praised for the scope of the new facilities it will create, but criticised for its impact on the local environment.

The Foundation maintains the grounds have been neglected for more than 30 years. They say it is underutilised because of the lack of investment, and has the potential to be transformed.

Historically, the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground held significance as the finish line for the marathon during the first London Olympics in 1908, but over the years, the track was removed to make way for a car park, and the stadium’s pitch fell into disrepair.

The heart of the revitalisation plan centres on restoring the Polytechnic Stadium. The 1936 Grade II Listed modernist grandstand, unused for over two decades, will undergo extensive refurbishment for improved accessibility. Once restored, the grandstand and its changing rooms will be reopened, hosting sports days and major matches.

Latymer proposes big changes to the grounds as well, to introduce versatile multi-sport pitches, all-weather sports areas, cricket nets, artificial wickets, and padel courts, but the development will have a significant environmental cost, say its critics.

READ ALSO: A new sports stadium planned for Chiswick

Objections to the proposals raised concerns about potential traffic congestion, noise, parking issues, the removal of established trees, and scepticism regarding community access to the revamped facilities. They also questioned the wisdom of covering land by the river, liable to flooding, with plastic, rather than leaving it as natural open ground that can soak up water.

Of the 28 comments received on the development by the Council, 22 were objections.

‘A world of plastic, rubber and asphalt’

Abundance London, run by director Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, say while they are aware of all the reasons why sport is good and children should do more of it, they believe residents, the Council, the school and its parents should take into consideration that:

‘Almost the entire area of the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground will be transformed into a world of plastic, rubber and asphalt, with high fences and floodlights.’

The proposal is ‘greedy,’ they say, ‘in its use of every corner of the site, covering much of it in artificial surfacing, and leaving almost nothing for the natural world.

‘It is therefore contrary to good environmental practice, contributes to climate change, and contradicts any claim about stewardship of biodiversity or nature.’

READ ALSO: Plans to develop Quintin Hogg Memorial Grounds would cause ‘substantial damage to the natural environment’

The Council’s planners, while acknowledging the concerns, have lent their support to the proposed scheme, saying in their view the development would not compromise the site’s heritage value or the character of the Grove Park Conservation Area. They highlighted the provision of additional greenery, with 105 new trees planned to counterbalance the loss of established trees.

Addressing worries about flooding, the planners point to the proposal’s compliance with drainage regulations. They think measures to manage parking will be effective, as automated number plate recognition (ANPR) will be introduced for used for registered users.

There are 262 car parking spaces planned, a reduction of three from the existing arrangement. There will be provision for Blue Badge parking, Active Electric Vehicle bays, and coach parking.

Chiswick Tower sale raises hopes for Gunnersbury Station upgrade

Image above: Back entrance to Gunnersbury Station with Chiswick Tower in the background

Chiswick Tower sold to buyer in the Middle East

Hopes have been raised of a much-anticipated upgrade for Gunnersbury Station following the sale of Chiswick Tower.

The site was previously held by Federated Hermes, who were reluctant to allow renovation work to improve station access because they wanted to protect their car park. The American investment company prioritised retaining the building for rental returns rather than exploring redevelopment possibilities.

With a shift in ownership to an undisclosed buyer from the Middle East, the station’s future is once again up for discussion. The new owners have not disclosed their plans for the site but permission has recently been given for taller buildings nearby, so they may intend to follow suit, giving the local council some leverage for making demands about developing the station.

The current tower, a 19-storey structure established in 1966 as the headquarters of the British Standards Institution, was refurbished in 1995. Purchased by Hermes for £56.5 million in March 2013, Chiswick Tower was part of a trio of ‘landmark’ buildings offered for sale earlier this year, including Hammersmith Grove and Wimbledon Bridge House. As yet only Chiswick Tower has changed hands, but specifics about the buyer and sale price have been witheld.

The proposal to utilise the Chiswick Tower site for expanding Gunnersbury Station’s capacity has long been on the table. With growing demand from nearby developments such as Chiswick Business Park and Brentford Community Stadium, the station faces increasing congestion. On match days residents cannon get down to the platform to catch a train because of the incoming flow of supporters.

Recently approved construction projects in Brentford designate Gunnersbury as the closest tube station, which will only add to the urgency for an upgrade.

The redevelopment potential of Chiswick Tower’s site, including its 190-space car park, holds the possibility of an additional station entrance and comprehensive improvements to access, which are likely to be needed for the expected increase in volume of commuters.

Man arrested in Chiswick was part of terror group, court hears

Image above: Armed police at Chiswick Business Park in November 2022

Prosecution alleges Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, arrested in Chiswick Business Park, is part of a wider terrorist network

A man who was arrested in Chiswick Business Park earlier this year on terror offences is part of a wider terror group, a court at the Old Bailey has heard.

The prosecution alleges a 31-year-old Austrian citizen, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, was not acting alone in what the prosecution described as a terror-related incident.

Mr. Dovtaev was apprehended on 11 February this year, moments after arriving in the country, while filming near the premises of Iran International TV. The prosecution asserts his actions were part of a broader scheme orchestrated by a terror group, with the intention of conducting hostile reconnaissance to gather security-related intelligence about the park.

During Monday’s court proceedings, it was suggested that Mr. Dovtaev’s activities were aligned with an unidentified collective, possibly laying groundwork for a terrorist attack on the offices of the Saudi-owned station critical of the Tehran regime.

The prosecution plans to present evidence indicating the involvement of others in preparations for this alleged attack.

Mr. Dovtaev, originally from Chechnya, faces a single count of attempting to collect information for the purpose of terrorism, a charge he denies.

Initially claiming to be meeting his brother in the area for a casual coffee, he was eventually directed by guards to a nearby Starbucks before being apprehended by armed police.

The court heard he was calm when he was arrested. Mr. Dovtaev told police he was meeting a friend from Chechnya listed in his phone as ‘B,’ identified as ‘Othman,’ but when police probed further he gave different explanations, saying he was there to film the area for his children, and alleging he was a victim of fraud perpetrated by a tenant in Building 11.

Although Iran International TV has vacated its space within park, security measures remain stringent.

The trial continues.