Lesley Nicol talks about the success of Mr Bates vs The Post Office

Image above: Toby Jones and Julie Hesmondhalgh as Alan Bates and his wife Suzanne Sercombe in Mr Bates vs. The Post Office

Public outcry after decades of revelations about a huge miscarriage of justice

It is rare that a TV drama has such an impact as Mr Bates vs. The Post Office. Emotional impact, yes, but for a drama production to harness the outrage of the country and make politicians sit up and listen is something that very seldom happens.

The details of this scandal have been known for years. Computer Weekly magazine first reported the story in 2009; local papers began highlighting some of the more controversial cases; Private Eye has been reporting on it since 2011.

But not until today (Monday 8 January) have Government ministers sat down to discuss what they might do about the Post Office scandal, which has seen sub-postmasters spending thousands of pounds of their own money, bankrupted, sacked and imprisoned, falsely accused of theft and fraud because of a software error, which the company knew about and deliberately covered up.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the government is “looking at” the option of exonerating the Post Office branch managers involved. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and postal minister Kevin Hollinrake are now charged with doing something about it. A petition calling for the former head of the Post Office Paula Vennells to be stripped of her CBE has topped a million signatures.

Image above: Lesley Nicol as Pam Stubbs

“It’s epic what’s happening” says Lesley Nicol, one of the cast of Mr Bates vs. The Post Office

“It’s epic what’s happening” Chiswick based actor Lesley Nicol told The Chiswick Calendar. “It seems to have engaged the whole country.”

Lesley (best known for the character Mrs Patmore, the cook in Downton Abbey), plays Pam Stubbs in the four-part series, a subpostmistress at the Barkham Post Office in Berkshire who was falsely accused of stealing money.

This is the first time Lesley has played a real person, she told us.

“Usually you have a script and you imagination and whatever the director brings to the production, but it was brilliant to have the opportunity to spend some time with Pam and find out what it had really been like for her.”

Images above: Toby Jones and Julie Hesmondhalgh

Apart from the two ‘villains’ of the piece, who declined to meet the actors portraying them, all the cast were able to meet the sub-postmasters and mistresses whose lives they were recreating on TV.

Pam was married to a former banker; they had decided to set up a post office in Surrey together as a retirement project, thinking it would be nice to work together. She would run the shop and he would look after the post office side. Sadly he died, and Pam decided to carry on by herself. Then the Horizon software was installed.

“She is very thorough and organised, and suddenly her sums weren’t adding up” says Lesley.

“Most chilling of all, when she and others called the helpline, every single one was told they were the only one. The nature of the job is that it’s isolated and she was very upset and very frightened.”

In Pam’s case, she spent some of her own money on making up the apparent shortfall, before she said she would not pay any more, and stopped. The Post Office sacked her, and she was left with a building for which she had no use.

“Pam is a strong, intelligent, robust woman” says Lesley, “but it was absolutely terrifying, it was a nightmare for her; she was frightened about what would happen for a long time. Four people killed themselves because of this.”

Images above: Paula Vennells; T shirt promoting the change.org Post Office petition

“It doesn’t get any better than this”

Lesley is no stranger to the razzmatazz that comes with being part of a successful drama series; the Downton Abbey cast routinely meet fans from all round the world who love the shows, but being part of Mr Bates vs. The Post Office represents success of s different order.

“I am so thrilled that this drama has done what we wanted it to. I hoped, because it’s a fantastic script and it’s a joy in itself working with such a great cast, that it would engage people’s emotions, but it’s done far more than that.

“What needed to happen was that people needed to get upset and angry about it. The petition calling for Paula Vennells to be stripped of her CBE has over a million signatures, but there is another petition calling for accountability and compensation.

“It’s wonderful. It’s been on the TV every day. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Images above: Monica Dolan as Jo Hamilton, a subpostmistress from South Warnborough, Hampshire; Will Mellor as Lee Castleton, a subpostmaster from Bridlington, Yorkshire; Amit Shan as Jasgun Singh, husband of subpostmistress Saman Kaur, who joins the campaign for justice with his wife

Other members of the cast include Toby Jones as the main protagonist Alan Bates (Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Captain America, Detectorists); Julie Hesmondhalgh as Alan Bates’ wife Suzanne Sercombe (Coronation Street, Broadchurch); Monica Dolan (Alan Partridge, Black Mirror, A Very English Scandal); Will Mellor (Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Hollyoaks, Casualty, Coronation Street); Amit Shah (Happy Valley);

Images above: Lia Williams as Paula Vennells; Katherine Kelly as Angela Van den Bogerd

Lia Williams, who plays Chief Executive Officer of Post Office Limited, Paula Vennells (The Crown, His Dark Materials, The Capture, Doc Martin); Katherine Kelly, who plays Angela Van den Bogerd, The Post Office director, who works closely with CEO Paula Vennells (Coronation Street, Innocent, The Long Shadow and Mr Selfridge, Criminal); John Hollingworth (Poldark) and Adam James (The Suspect, I May Destroy You, Doctor Foster, Belgravia, Vigil) who play lawyers; and Alex Jennings, who plays MP James Arbuthnot (The Crown, The Lady in the Van, Unforgotten, A Very English Scandal).

Images above: Alex Jennings as James Arbuthnot MP; John Hollingworth as James Hartley; Adam James as Patrick Green QC

Mr Bates vs The Post Office is available to watch here: ITVX

Images from ITV Studios.

Vue Cinema HQ to leave Chiswick Business Park

Image above: Vue Entertainment at 10 Chiswick Business Park

Cinema company to leave after over 20 years at Chiswick Business Park

Vue Entertainment has confirmed it is leaving Chiswick Business Park and moving to offices adjacent to the Westfield Shopping Centre.

The cinema company is currently operating its UK & Ireland business and international operations from Building 10 in Chiswick Business Park. The company’s shift marks a significant transition and will mean considerably fewer workers in Chiswick Business Park.

Vue made Chiswick its operational hub in 2003, following the acquisition of Warner Village Cinemas by SBC International Cinemas, which was rebranded. With over 90 cinemas in the UK & Ireland and an additional 212 across ten countries, Vue’s move from its long-standing Chiswick premises is a blow to the business park.

The new headquarters, occupying 14,000 sq ft on the third floor of One Ariel Way near the Westfield Shopping Centre in Shepherd’s Bush, will provide office space and access to a roof terrace.

This strategic move positions Vue in close proximity to its flagship 20 screen cinema in the centre, along with another 12-screen cinema in the West 12 shopping centre, situated on either side of Shepherd’s Bush Green.

Tim Richards, Vue’s founder, and CEO said:

“As we enter our third decade, and look ahead to next year and beyond, our new and exciting HQ will ensure the team is perfectly positioned to build on recent momentum and deliver the very best in big screen entertainment.”

Kate Orwin, leasing director UK at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said:

“We’re excited to be strengthening our longstanding relationship with Vue, which has been a valued entertainment anchor at both Westfield London and Stratford City for many years. We’re seeing demand for office space growing across both of our sites and with more people moving to White City to live, study and work, this represents a massive opportunity for companies to be part of the thriving communities in and around our destinations.”

Image above: One Ariel Way near Westfield Shopping Centre

Plans to install communications mast upset residents who have planted thousands of bulbs

Image above: Thousands of bulbs have been planted in ‘Beaconsfield Gardens’

Ealing Council’s plans being kept from residents, or just an ‘over-zealous surveyor’?

Plans to install a communications mast have upset residents who live near Beaconsfield Rd, the main road which connects Chiswick with Acton.

Alongside the road, on the other side from the Duke of Sussex pub, is a stretch of grass which has become known unofficially as ‘Beaconsfield Gardens’ because residents have taken it over and planted thousands of bulbs there.

Jen Thorneycraft is one of those who, working with Abundance London, has spent many hours with other volunteers picking up litter and planting bulbs there. She told The Chiswick Calendar she had been working there one day before Christmas when a surveyor turned up and started marking out the ground.

He told her, quite unequivocally, that there would be a communications mast installed there.

“There was no doubt in his mind” she told us. “He said: ‘this is the size of the cabinet’ and ‘this is the site of the mast’. I asked whether any of the trees would be felled and he said they wouldn’t, because he could show me exactly on the plans where it was going to go.”

This was the first local residents had heard about firm plans, because there had been no mention of it from Ealing Council, no planning application or consultation at all.

“The rules seemd to be quite complicated” said Jen, “but apparently up to 25 metres is considered as ‘permitted development’. There were two similar proposals in 2015 and 2016 which were turned down because they were in contravention of the Council’s guidelines, but apparently the planning regulations have changed since then at Government level.”

When local councillor Andrew Steed followed up with the Council, he was told this was merely a case of an “over-zealous” surveyor, and there were no such firm plans, but alarm bells had started to ring when the Council recently announced plans to remove the Beaconsfield estate from the local Conservation Area:

READ ALSO: Concerns raised about Ealing conservation area proposed changes

“Dozens and dozens of volunteers have been working on this space” said Jen, “painting fences, creating bug hotels. We should be looking after our green spaces in collaboration with Ealing Council.”

She was told the mast would be 18.6 metres high. We all complain about poor mobile phone reception and the masts have to go somewhere, Wouldit really be so bad if it was there? I asked her.

“It might not take up a huge amount of space, but we have taken a piece of previously unused space and tranformed it, putting in hundreds of hours of work. We’ve made it so much nicer and lots of people now use it. Who’s going to want to walk here when there’s a huge mast here?”

Local residents have now formed a residents association, the first meeting of which will be later this week.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

LB Hounslow receives flood of emails in support of FoodSt Market

Image above: FoodSt Market at Christmas

Over 90 emails in support of market sent to Hounslow licensing panel

LB Hounslow has received more than 90 emails voicing support for the extension of a licence for the Food Street Market in Chiswick. Scheduled to convene on 17 January, the Licensing Panel will deliberate on whether the monthly outdoor street food markets should continue on the fourth Sunday of the month in Chiswick High Rd, following a three-month trial period.

Initially limited to 20 stalls at the western end of the car park, the market has so far seen only 15 stalls each month. The proposed extension could expand the market to accommodate up to 62 stalls, stretching down the High Road towards Metro Bank, potentially quadrupling its current size.

Support for the market primarily stems from individuals who have enjoyed attending the events, citing its ‘significant benefit’ to the High Road. Notably, some local businesses have reported a boost in trade on market days, with one cafe owner claiming a marked increase in foot traffic on market days.

Nevertheless, approximately 20 objections have been raised against the new application. Among the objections, William Hogarth Trust expressed concerns about potential damage to the nearby statue of Hogarth from cooking fats. The Dukes Meadows Trust sought clarity to prevent conflicts with their existing weekly food market on Sundays.

A local residents’ association and several businesses have expressed concerns about the market’s impact on the High Road, litter accumulation, parking issues, and potential negative effects on brick-and-mortar establishments.

Images above: FoodSt Market; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

“Chiswick is not a market town”

Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillor Joanna Biddolph, who was intensely critical of the initial street food market proposal, provides eight pages of representations to the Panel. Her representations have their own appendix on the agenda page for the licensing panel meeting.

The Chiswick Gunnersbury councillor said permitting an expansion of the FoodSt market would be “catastrophic” and “devastating”. Bricks and mortar businesses on the High Road, she says, have already seen a drop in business, but she says objectors fear boycotts and reprisals on social media if they object to the application.

Despite the presence of the flower, cheese and vintage/antiques markets, the pavements of Chiswick are no longer “thronging with people” as before the pandemic, Cllr Biddolph says. She claims  local residents are forced to leave Chiswick to shop elsewhere. Chiswick is “not a market town” and attempts to make it so have “upset residents”.

Parking also features heavily in Cllr Biddolph’s representations:

“Traders at all the markets come from outside Chiswick in their vans and park in parking spaces where shoppers would otherwise be able to park. The discrimination against people who live here is extraordinary.”

Objections from the sublime to the ridiculous

One of the objections to the market is religious:

“Sunday is a Christian Church Day … A bigger market will stop attendance at church … the religious needs [of] Catholic worshippers need to be taken into account”, to which (Catholic) Chiswick councillor Jack Emsley responded that on the contrary, it would just make him go to church earlier so he could get out in time for a tasty breakfast.

Towards the end of her representations, Cllr Biddolph attacks the competency of the market’s founder, entrepreneur Richard Johnson, for “borrowing a knife from a trader with which to cut down notices”. While many would see this as a perfectly ordinary thing for colleagues to do, she draws the conculsion from her close observation of his actions, that it demonstrates a lack of foresight, writing:

“While he held this responsibly (close to his body, shielding it with his hand) when standing still, it showed that he did not plan ahead for what he would need to manage the area.”

Her comment has been pilloried on social media, as ludicrous and ‘bizarre’, undermining her case.

Image above: FoodSt Market by Andrea Carnevali

Survey shows overwhelming support for market by attendees 

Despite objections, a comprehensive survey commissioned by Mr Johnson, carried out by freelance market researcher Susie Mullen, who is a member of the Market Research Society, tracked the views of the market’s attendees in October and November. The respondents had an overwhelmingly positive view and there wasn’t a single negative overall response out of the 151 people who completed the seven-question survey.

The survey revealed more information of the demographics of people attending the market showing the average age was 41, with 56% of respondents female and 68% from outside the W4 postcode area.

39% of people from beyond Chiswick’s borders drove to the market; 35% said they walked and 20% used public transport.

89% of attendees from Chiswick walked and 4% of all people attending came by bike.

91% of respondents said they were likely to visit a shop while in Chiswick in November compared to 58% in October. This may be a result of the weather or people already having started their Christmas shopping.

The licence, if granted at the meeting later this month, would run for a period of six months. It could then be renewed on reapplication through officers’ delegated authority unless there were further objections received, in which case the application would resubmitted to members of the licensing panel for determination.

New community artwork for Chiswick to be unveiled

Image above: Cristina Schek’s “The Ceiling in the Sky currently on display 

New artwork for Turnham Green Piazza to be unveiled on Saturday

A new artwork will soon replace Cristina Schek’s The Ceiling in the Sky on the railway embankment at Turnham Green piazza.

The unveiling ceremony, open to the public, is set for 11am on Saturday 13 January. A new work is introduced every six months or so. The latest work, chosen by a popular vote last year, will be introduced by Cristina Schek, handing on the baton to Giovanna Iorio.

Giovanna Iorio

Giovanna is an Italian poet and artist who moved from Rome to London in 2017. She creates ‘Voice Portraits’ by transforming voices and sounds into visual art using spectrograms. Each voice portrait captures the essence of a voice, revealing its vibrant hues and allowing us to ‘listen with our eyes’.

Blending photography, sound, poetry and prose in her creations, she draws inspiration from diverse cultural landscapes.

The initiative, known as ‘W4th Plinth’, in a nod the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, where sculptures are shown on rotation, aims to blend art into the urban landscape and make the piazza a hub for community life, art, and planting. Run by Abundance London and local artists, this project has now been brightening up Chiswick for five years.

Since its inception in 2019, the W4th Plinth has displayed various artworks, from established creators to emerging talents, for at least six months each.

Karen Liebreich, the coordinator at Abundance, told us:

“The W4th Plinth represents a bold step towards transforming our city into a vibrant, open-air gallery, celebrating creativity and fostering a deeper connection between art and our daily lives. We envision this as a space where art transcends boundaries, sparking imagination, and enriching our collective experience.”

When the organisers asked artists to submit their work last year there were 469 submissions, which the jury narrowed down to 15 options for the public to vote on. As there were so many submissions of such high quality it was decided to show the top choices in rotation over the following two years.

Image above: Bird box of the type Abundance London will be making at their workshop

Bird Box workshop

Abundance London is chiefly known for its environmental work, creating flower beds in unloved spaces and harvesting unwanted fruit from gardens. They are taking the opportunity of the unveiling to provide an open session for everyone (young and old).

At 11.30 at the piazza in Turnham Green Terrace, after the unveiling of the new artwork, you are invited to create bird and bat boxes to install all around the area. Build and decorate your ideal nature wildlife home. These can either be taken home to install in your gardens, or Abundance will install them in local pocket gardens and other suitable locations.

Consultation launched for restoration of Promenade Approach in Dukes Meadows

Image above: Artist’s impression of the proposed plans

Restoration of promenade final piece in ‘masterplan’ for area

The Dukes Meadows Trust has set its sights on restoring the iconic Promenade Approach as part of its ongoing dedication to enhancing the riverside area. The Trust, which hopes to revive the historic walkway, has invited local residents to take part in a consultation on the proposed rejuvenation.

Originally established in the 1920s to facilitate access for the burgeoning workforce employed in the nearby Thames-based light industries, the Promenade Approach, starting from Edensor Road, has weathered over time. Falling into neglect through the 1980s, recent efforts have seen the Trust successfully raise over £1 million for area improvements. The grand iron gates at the Approach Road’s entrance were recently restored using money raised by the Trust.

Chairman of the Trust, Paul Davis, heralds the proposed plans for Promenade Approach as the final piece completing a masterplan initiated back in 2003. The comprehensive masterplan has witnessed the planting of an orchard in 2003, the construction of the paddling pool and playground in 2007 and 2010, as well as the introduction of hedgerows, coppices of trees, and a newly planted avenue of lime trees across the years.

Image above: Artist’s impression of the proposed plans

The Trust has secured an initial stage pass for a Thriving Communities Grant amounting to £200,000. Although, there are no guarantees, and further fundraising may be needed.

Paul Davis said:

“The restoration of the park is a terrific achievement by the community. Strong community leadership and involvement, through input into designs and regular volunteering has been a key feature of the project and made the improvements sustainable. We are delighted to see continued involvement from people who have supported the trust in its work since the initial stages of the masterplan.

“Tibor Babic, who was involved in creating the initial design brief while in primary school, produced the visualisations for the latest project plans. Tibor now works as a landscape architect at Dar Al-Handasah and will be supporting the consultation events.”

The plans and an online consultation survey are on the Trust’s website. See Promenade Approach Consultation.

The plans will also be on display outside Chiswick Pier House on Saturday 13 January and at the Trust’s Farmers Market on Sunday 14 January. Both events will take place from 11am to 1pm. The Trust welcomes feedback on the plans.

Kew Gardens announce plans for ‘carbon garden’ and Orangery extension

Images above: A pavilion will be built using sustainable materials; the orangery at Kew is currently used as a restaurant and events venue

New pavilion unveiled

Plans have been revealed by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, unveiling the creation of a “carbon garden” and an extension to the Orangery terrace.

This proposed development comes as a replacement for the current secluded garden, which Kew authorities have flagged as unsafe due to its deteriorated state. A detailed report presented by Kew to Richmond Council outlines the ambitious plans, which they say focuses on enhancing the visitor experience and tackling climate change challenges.

The decision on these proposals rests with the Council. No date has been given as yet for a meeting to discuss it.

Among the proposed changes is the addition of a gravelled seating area extending the Grade-I listed orangery. The project’s implementation requires consent, as it is a listed building.

Justification for the location of the carbon garden is offered in the report, citing the deterioration and safety concerns surrounding the existing secluded garden, originally crafted over three decades ago.

Kew’s vision for the new garden encompasses ‘diverse and aesthetically pleasing flora, emphasising biodiversity in natural habitats’. More than 25 climate-resilient trees will be part of this initiative, educating visitors on the role of carbon in nature and methods to reduce emissions while improving storage.

‘The carbon garden aims to optimise this space, introducing an engaging and educational garden for our visitors to cherish and learn from’,  said the botanical gardens’ submission.

The proposed garden will feature a structured circular path, guiding visitors through four distinct zones highlighting the carbon cycle, climate change impacts, adaptation strategies, and nature-centred solutions. Central to this design is the construction of a pavilion using sustainable materials, providing a focal point for reflection and relaxation.

Each zone within the garden will showcase specific plant species, from drought-resistant varieties to native wildflowers and vibrant meadows, illustrating the diverse themes embedded in this eco-conscious initiative.

Tube strike called off

More money on the table

The RMT has suspended its strike action, planned for this week from tonight (Sunday 7 January) until the morning of Friday 12 January.

Transport for London has published a statement saying:

“Today, we were made aware that the Mayor was able to provide additional funds to enable discussions with the unions to continue.”

The pay offer they made to three unions last week was rejected and TfL had said there was no more money available. Now, it seems, there is. There will now be more talks with the unions to see if the money on the table is enough to end the dispute.

Last week when talks broke down, the RMT urged TfL and the Mayor to engage in unconditional talks mediated by ACAS. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union had previously voted to take industrial action over a below-inflation pay increase of 5%.

The statement from TfL says:

“Last week we discussed our pay offer extensively with the three Trade Unions that had rejected it, making clear that TfL cannot afford any more. This remains the case.

“Today, we were made aware that the Mayor was able to provide additional funds to enable discussions with the unions to continue. We have all consistently made clear that strike action is bad for everyone and would have a negative impact on the city as it recovers from the pandemic.

“This intervention from the Mayor has been discussed with the unions, and the RMT union has now suspended the planned strike action. However, as the action has been suspended at this late stage, Londoners will still face disruption tomorrow and we advise all customers to check the TfL website or the TfL Go app for the latest travel information.

“We will now meet with representatives of all the unions to agree on the best way for this funding to be used to resolve the current dispute. We will also seek to meet as soon as possible with the unions representing TfL staff.

The RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch described it as a “significantly improved funding position” which meant scheduled strike action would be suspended “with immediate effect”.

Brentford 1, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

The always agile Lewis Potter

Third Season: The Cup underfloweth

Question: which is the most painful – losing 1-4, or hanging on for a 1-1 draw? Clue: the draw was achieved, if that’s the word, after the opposition had a player sent off after just nine minutes.

Answer: Don’t ask! Or simply seek the opinion of any of the Brentford faithful who turned out in the hope that their team would take revenge on a Wolves side that delivered a drubbing at the Gtech Stadium in the last home game of the season. Surely early-season promise could not evaporate at the determined hands of the Molineux men?  Or the Crystal Palace squad, which won 3-1 the week after? Is this the second of the rapid hat-trick against Brentford by Wolves (put February 10 in your diary if a glutton for punishment)?

We know the reason or reasons for the slump, of course. Such was the length of Thomas Franks’ injury list, he could have laid those on it head-to-toe to receive medical attention the length of the pitch. And it seemed that whenever one of the stricken began to reach match fitness, one or two new ones would join the queue at the far end.

So the message has had to be that the survival of the fittest determines the starting line-ups. At least, it would have been solely so had not the Africa Cup of Nations hove into view, demanding the presence of all those qualifying from one of the 54 countries from that continent alone.

Wolves’ Matt Doherty changes the direction of play

And so to the FA Cup third round game itself, which more or less began with a punt of a clearance into the east stand by Zanka, which suggested that (a) the Bees’ defence was functioning okay, or (b) Wolves were able to penetrate deep into the home side’s territory without too much trouble.

There was not much time to ponder this before Wolves’ midfielder João Gomes made a tackle from the rear on Christian Nørgaard that had the touchline medics out of their traps almost before the Bees’ skipper had hit the ground. Gomes looked rueful, acknowledging his error, but rueful doesn’t wash in such circumstances and referee Tony Harrington had no hesitation in producing a red card.

Nørgaard having hopped from the field supported by two human crutches, and replaced by Vitaly Janelt, Brentford set about exploiting the advantages of an extra player. Nathan Collins thumped a shot only inches over the crossbar and Josh Dasilva – welcome back, Josh – manoeuvred himself into a shooting position but lacked the power to beat excellent keeper José Sá at full stretch.

Then a cross from Matthias Jensen penetrated the goal area to the extent that the ball pinged and ponged its way for a moment before Neal Maupay carefully chose a vacant route for it to take without bothering Sá’s undoubted skills.

Damsgaard drives through the pack

But post-break the game changed. Brentford seemed to allow the visitors to take charge and the home defence was required to work overtime. All five subs were deployed, and tempers became frayed as Wolves launched waves of attacks like an advancing tide. Maupay was shoved by Sá in one of his rare appearances in the penalty area and it looked as if only an equaliser would do for the visitors’ marauding front-runners.

Never think such thoughts! On 64 minutes Tommy Doyle found himself in a vacant space way out of reach of the defence and his thunderbolt of a shot was in the net before Thomas Strakosha could even think of responding.

Jensen departed from the fray after stopping a ball with his kisser and then there was no more, other than for Wolves’ head coach Gary O’Neil to complain that, what with Gomes having been punished for a bad foul, Mikkel Damsgaard should have been dismissed for stamping on Doyle in a tussle for the ball.

‘Could have been worse’, I told my mate Charlie. ‘We could have lost.’

‘There’s always the replay,’ said Charlie

Brentford; Strakosha; Zanka (substitute Yarmoliuk 73m), Pinnock, Collins; Roerslev (sub Peart-Harris 45), Damsgaard, Nørgaard , Jensen (sub Baptiste 73), Lewis-Potter; Dasilva (sub Olakigbe 63), Maupay.

Wolves: Sá; Kilman, Bueno, Gomes; Nélson Semedo. João Gomes, Doyle, Doherty; Sarabia sub Neto 55), Matthias Cunha; Bellegarde (sub Chirewa 90+1).

All in all, a draw was better than a kick in the backside

Bill Hagerty is a consulting editorr for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

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

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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

David Tennant to host BAFTA film awards 2024

Image above: David Tennant

Tennant will make the BAFTA awards “a must-watch show”

Actor David Tennant is to host the 2024 BAFTA Film Awards at the Royal Festival Hall in February. The Dr Who star, who lives in Chiswick, said he was “delighted” to “help celebrate the very best of this year’s films and the many brilliant people who bring them to life.”

BAFTA chief executive, Jane Millichip, said Tennant will make the awards ceremony “a must-watch show” with his “warmth, charm and mischievous wit”.

She said: “We are over the moon that David Tennant will be our host. He is deservedly beloved by British and international audiences alike.”

The winners are chosen in three rounds. BAFTA members vote on titles in a longlist, and the winners are then chosen from their nominations.

BAFTA today announced the longlists of films and talent that have gone through to Round Two of voting for awards in 24 categories, including: Best Film, Outstanding British Film, Director, Original Screenplay, Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

There are ten films submitted for consideration in the ‘Best Film’ category. The members of BAFTA who are eligible to vote will now make their choices to whittle the list down to five nominations, to be announced on Thursday 18 January:

  • All of Us Strangers
  • Anatomy of a Fall
  • Barbie
  • The Holdovers
  • Killers of The Flower Moon
  • Maestro
  • Oppenheimer
  • Past Lives
  • Poor Things
  • The Zone of Interest

Image above: Tom Melia and Nathan Bryon, co-writers of Rye Lane

Rye Lane in the running for nominations in five categories

Among the films put forward on the longlist of titles for ‘Outstanding British Film’ is Rye Lane, which we featured in the 2023 Chiswick In Film festival. The romantic comedy set in Peckham,  premiered at the Sundance Festival last year and won universal acclaim as a fresh take on the romcom genre.

One of the film’s two young co-writers Nathan Bryon, used to live in Chiswick. He spoke to actor Suzette Llewellyn about it at a Q&A session with the audience.

READ ALSO: Rye Lane – Q&A with Nathan Bryon and Suzette Llewellyn

Nathan and his co-writer Tom Melia have also been put forward for nomination in the ‘Outstanding debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer’ category and ‘Original Screenplay’ categories, and the film’s first-time director Raine Allen-Miller has been put forward for nomination as ‘Director’. Vivian Oparah also goes forward on the longlist for ‘Leading Actress’.

Image above: George MacKay in Femme

George MacKay under consideration for Leading Actor for his role in Femme

George MacKay, the actor who grew up in Hammersmith, (known for his roles in Private Peaceful, The Best of Men, How I Live Now, Pride and Munich – The Edge of War, amongst others), is on the long list of ten actors in the Leading Actor category for his role in Femme, against actors such as Barry Keoghan for Saltburn and Cillian Murphy for Oppenheimer.

Femme is a revenge thriller about a homophobic attack. The target, Jules, finds his life and career destroyed by the attack. Some time after the event he encounters Preston, one of his attackers, in a gay sauna and decides to take revenge. George MacKay plays Preston.

The award ceremony will take place on Sunday 18 February. David Tennant, (who has starred in Broadchurch, Good Omens and Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire), is currently playing Macbeth in the critically acclaimed production at the Donmar Warehouse.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Storm Henk leaves trail of destruction

Image above: A Yew tree in Chiswick House & Gardens left partially uprooted by strong winds; photograph Rosie Fyles

“Significant” tree uprooted in Chiswick House Gardens

As Storm Henk batters the country it is leaving a trail of destruction, and Chiswick has not been exempt.

The storm has caused travel chaos across southern England due to flooding and strong winds, and uprooted several trees in Chiswick and elsewhere in the borough of Hounslow, leaving Council workers to pick up the pieces.

Rosie Fyles, the Head Gardener of Chiswick House and Gardens, told The Chiswick Calendar a “significant” Yew tree had been uprooted by the strong winds. The partially uprooted tree has forced the closure of the path running along the picnic area and the ionic temple until further notice.

“We have lost a Yew tree, basically it’s roots have come right up,” Rosie told The Chiswick Calendar.

“We’ll be dealing with that tree as soon as we can. It’s not a significant tree in terms of it being unusual or particularly old, but it is quite a significant tree in terms of its size, character and the landscape. It’s certainly a tricky one”.

Rosie added that the “very wet conditions” had had a “bizarre” result, but luckily there was no structural damage to any of the park’s buildings.

Images above: Council workers dealing with fallen trees elsewhere in the borough; photographs LB Hounslow

Car destroyed in Isleworth by falling tree

LB Hounslow said that Hounslow Highways had been called to 40 individual incidents across the borough, including a house which had been struck by a tree in Chiswick and a car which had been destroyed by a falling tree on Teesdale Road in Isleworth.

About a third of the incidents Hounslow Highways attended were private trees, many of which had fallen or had large broken limbs. Some were blocking roads, while others had caused damage to property. Trees were uprooted, a telephone line had been brought down in Hanworth; walls, fences and street furniture blown down.

Image above: Damaged tree overhanging the passageway at Gunnersbury tube station; photograph Nick Raikes

All the reported incidents had been made safe by the end of Tuesday night, the Council told us, and final clear up operations were taking place on Wednesday. Smaller branches still littered still Chiswick High Road today,  though most of the larger pieces had been gathered in piles and put to one side.

Image above: Fisher’s Lane flooded right up to the doors of the houses, after 13 hours of rain; photograph Sally Craig

Images above: Branches scattered along Chiswick High Road on Wednesday; photographs Matt Smith

Fresh Tube strike set to cause six days of disruption in January

Image above: A shuttered Tube station during a previous strike; library image

Disruption will begin on Sunday 7 January until Friday 12 January

The ongoing dispute between London Underground and the RMT union is set to cause significant disruption to services this month, with strikes starting on Sunday evening (7 January) until the morning of Friday 12 January. If the strike goes ahead, commuters can expect minimal to no service across the tube network during these dates.

The strike action, called because of disagreements over pay and conditions, is scheduled to be staggered. RMT members operating in the tube’s network control functions will initiate the strike on January 7 and 8. Following this, those involved in the signalling and service control functions will be off duty on January 9 and 11. Members in  engineering, fleet maintenance, stations, and train operators will join the strike on January 8 and 10.

To accommodate the anticipated disruption, Tube services will finish running earlier than usual on Sunday. Passengers are recommended to complete their journeys by 5.30pm. Services to lines serving the Emirates stadium, where Arsenal is scheduled to play Liverpool, will continue until 7.30pm.

Commuters should expect severe disruption from Monday, 8 January, through Thursday, January 11, with minimal to no Tube service. Normal Tube services are expected to resume by noon on Friday, 12 January, but with a delayed start.

While the Elizabeth line, London Overground, DLR, London Trams, and London buses are planned to operate as usual, there might be last-minute alterations, and they are expected to be significantly busier than normal. Some train services may also bypass stations shared with the London Underground.

Images above: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (left), RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch (right); library images

RMT urge TfL and Mayor of London to join unconditional talks

Transport for London has been in constructive discussions with the RMT and other trade unions regarding a pay increase for London Underground staff. TfL has proposed a five per cent increase, a proposition already accepted by ASLEF members.

RMT members voted overwhelmingly, with a 90% majority, to reject an offer that falls below the inflation rate. The union is also advocating for the reinstatement of full staff travel facilities to prevent what they deem as the creation of a two-tier workforce.

In response, the RMT has urged TfL and the Mayor to engage in unconditional talks mediated by ACAS in a bid to resolve the dispute.

Glynn Barton, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We are disappointed that RMT is planning strike action in response to our offer of a five per cent pay increase. We have been clear throughout our productive discussions with our trade unions that this offer is the most we can afford while ensuring that we can operate safely, reliably and sustainably.

“We encourage the RMT to engage with us to avoid disruption for Londoners. We would like to advise anyone travelling during the strike days to check before they travel.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“Our members have made it clear that they are prepared to take action and we urge TfL to enter into meaningful conciliatory talks to avert disruption in the capital.”

Almost 340,000 appointments and operations cancelled in London as junior doctors strike begins

Image above: Junior doctors striking in October 2023 outside Charing Cross Hospital; library image

“We are expecting a challenging few days”, says Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Junior doctors on Wednesday began the longest strike in NHS history as figures revealed that more than 337,000 appointments and operations had been cancelled in London due to industrial action.

NHS leaders warned that the health service was facing its “toughest challenge yet” as thousands of medics in the British Medical Association began a six-day walkout over pay at 7am.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross Hospital, said in a statement that the junior doctor’s strike will have “significant impact” on the hospitals it runs.

“The junior doctors’ strike will have a significant impact on our hospitals. Our priority, as with all industrial action, will be to ensure everyone’s safety. We will continue to run urgent and emergency services throughout the strike, including our A&E departments and maternity units.

“But we will need to reschedule most of the planned operations and outpatient appointments that are currently booked for this period. If we need to reschedule your appointment, including if we need to change it to a virtual appointment, we will contact you directly as soon as possible to tell you. We will arrange a new appointment as soon as we can.

“We are expecting a challenging few days, with increased pressure on our emergency departments. We encourage anyone who needs non-emergency medical help or advice to go to NHS 111 online. If you need emergency care (for instance if someone is seriously ill, injured or their life is at risk), you should continue to call 999.”

The strike will affect almost all routine services as the NHS shifts its focus to urgent and emergency care. Hospitals are also grappling with a surge in flu, norovirus and Covid cases.

The strike will end at 7am on Tuesday 9 January.

Image above: Charing Cross Hospital

Talks break down between Government and BMA 

The strike comes after talks between Health Secretary Victoria Atkins and the British Medical Association broke down last month, with the Government insisting that negotiations could not resume unless the union called off strike action.

Analysis by The Evening Standard found that more than 337,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments had been rescheduled in London across a year of industrial action in the NHS.

It is by far the highest figure of any region in England and accounts for more than a quarter (27.8%) of the 1.2 million operations and procedures cancelled nationally.

An NHS source said that the high rate of cancellations in London could reflect that a higher proportion of doctors in the capital were on strike compared with other regions.

The BMA is seeking a 35% pay rise to correct a real-terms fall in income since 2008, but ministers have branded the demand “unaffordable”.

In summer 2023, the Government gave junior doctors in England an average rise of 8.8%, but medics said the increase was not enough and ramped up strike efforts. Calculations by the British Medical Association show that pay awards for junior doctors in England from 2008/09 to 2021/22 have delivered a real terms pay cut of 26.1%, even accounting for total investment secured through the multi-year pay deal agreed in 2019.

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairmen of the BMA junior doctors committee, said:

“This strike marks another unhappy record for the NHS – the longest single walkout in its history – but there is no need for any records to fall: we can call off this strike now if we get an offer from Government that we can put to members.”

Ms Atkins said the strikes would have a “serious impact” on patients and urged the BMA to call off the strikes and return to negotiations.

Hounslow Council approve proposals for cycle route along Thames Path

Image above: Thames Path

‘No extensive construction planned’ for new cycle route

Hounslow Council has given the green light for the development of a new cycle route along Thames Path in Chiswick. The proposed Priority Cycle Network Route 15 (PCN15) aims to link Richmond and Chiswick seamlessly, providing cyclists with a safer and more scenic alternative to navigating through congested areas.

The project, estimated at a cost of £12,000, primarily allocates funds towards the installation of new way-finding signage, with no extensive construction planned other than alterations to a traffic island on Chiswick Mall.

PCN15’s trajectory will start at the entrance to Dan Mason Drive, adjacent to the A316, winding its way beneath the railway bridge by the Riverside Health Club. From there, it meanders back toward the river via The Promenade. Upon reaching the Thames Crescent estate, the route veers away from the river onto private roads at the estate’s rear, traversing Pumping Station Road before rejoining the Thames Path near Chiswick Mall.

Provisions for an alternative route during potential flooding along Chiswick Mall, which is common during high ride, have been incorporated.

To alleviate concerns surrounding cyclists using the Thames Path section by Thames Crescent, the Council plans to introduce signage guiding cyclists away from the “No Cycling” areas, in the hopes of reducing congestion along this stretch.

Image above: Map of proposed route

Objections by Old Chiswick Protection Society alleviated during meeting with Council

Critical modifications include a reduction in the size of the existing traffic island at the junction of Chiswick Mall and Chiswick Lane South. This alteration will accommodate a new contraflow cycle lane at the current “No Entry” westbound restriction. Additionally, the deteriorated cycle track near Chiswick Mall, prone to tidal flooding and deterioration, will be relocated further from the river wall.

In the review process, alternate routes, such as encouraging usage of the pathway alongside the A316, were considered, but were deemed inadequate in meeting the core objective of helping cyclists to avoid high-density traffic areas.

The proposal met some objections from members of the Old Chiswick Protection Society. Addressing concerns about the proposal’s scale, a Council report highlighted a degree of misunderstanding regarding PCN 15’s intent, clarifying that it is not envisioned to match the magnitude of Cycleway 9.

The Council determined that suggestions for additional enhancements fell beyond the project’s intended scope. Following a subsequent meeting, the Council and the Old Chiswick Protection Society were able to reach a concensus.

A timeframe for work has yet to be released.

Councillors set to decide on alcohol licence for Bedford Corner café In The Park House

Image above: In The Park House on Bedford Corner

Alcohol could be served until 12.00am on Fridays and Saturdays

LB Hounslow’s Licencing Panel are set to make a decision on whether to grant In The Park House (formerly Trinity Café) an alcohol licence.

Councillors have been given the option by planners to reject or grant the licence application, with or without attached conditions. The Council’s planners did not recommend a specific course of action.

Brackenbury Brews Limited, a Hammersmith-based hospitality management company, is behind the application. The company already manages two venues in Euston Station: The Square Tavern and Faim.

The café currently seats 38 people indoors across two floors and offers hot food for eating in or takeaway. According to the application, it is in the Bedford Park Conservation Area, about 64 meters away from the nearest residential accommodation on Bath Road.

Supply of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises, if approved, would be from 10.00am to 11.00pm Monday to Thursday, 10.00am to 12.00am Friday to Saturday 10.00am to 10.30pm on Sunday.

Petar Ivanisevic, the director and owner of Brackenbury Brews Limited, has 18 years of management experience, including time with the Metropolitan Pub Company. He previously ran a coffee brand called Pitch.coffee with his wife, which closed during lockdown.

Ivanisevic’s plan for The Park House includes turning an unused function room into a co-working space.

‘Fears of anti-social behaviour’ raised by local residents

Some local residents have objected to the application on the basis that granting the licence might cause a spike in anti-social behaviour, which is “already a problem”.

One resident, Charlotte Kasner, wrote into the Panel saying:

“I wish to oppose this application on the grounds of the likelihood of anti-social behaviour which is already a problem in the immediate vicinity with late-opening premises.

“It is particularly frightening when this occurs at the exit to the tube station as one is frequently accosted by beggars, drunks and drug addicts. This is much more intimidating after dark and late night opening attracts more such people.”

Councillors will deliberate on whether to grant the application at the Licensing Panel scheduled for Monday 8 January.