Conservatives announce Parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth

Image above: Laura Blumenthal. Image: Laura Blumenthal via X

Laura Blumenthal to be Conservative candidate

Laura Blumenthal has been announced as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for the Brentford and Isleworth constituency.

The constituency currently covers Chiswick but at the next General Election that part of Chiswick will become part of the new constituency of Hammersmith and Chiswick. Chiswick will have a new MP, while Ruth Cadbury will be attempting to win a fourth election in a row in Brentford and Isleworth.

At the last election in 2019, Ruth saw off C0nservative rival Seena Shah with a commanding 10,514 seat majority.

In a post via ‘X’, formerly Twitter, Laura said:

“Excited to have been chosen as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth!”

Laura is currently a councillor in Wokingham, representing the South Lake ward. She is Jewish; her grandfather escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s and moved to Reading.

Laura has been speaking 0ut about the ongoing conflict in Gaza. In a repost on ‘X’ she wrote:

‘Where are the anti-racists? Who will stand up against the racist murder of babies and the grandmothers for being Jews?’ Oh right…”

In a response to an image of a poster on a pro-Palestinian march asking: ‘How can you inflict the same torture that your own people suffered?’ she wrote:

‘Hitler didn’t defend Germans against the Jews. Jews didn’t murder 1200 Germans and build a terror state. Why do Jews not commit terrorism in Germany in revenge for the Holocaust? Because they know moving forward in peace is better. Israel and Germany being allies gives us hope.’

She has also posted about the renaming of London Overground line, saying:

“The suffragette and lioness line? How patronising . It’s all very ‘Well done girlies. Sorry about the rocketing violence against women in London. We’ll pop another poster up'”

She is also supporting Chiswick councillor Ron Mushiso for election to the Greater London Assembly in May.

The General Election is expected to take place later on this year, and has to take place by January 2025.

Man who attacked work colleagues at Central Middlesex Hospital found guilty of attempted murder

Image above: Matteo Bottarelli. Image: Metropolitan Police

Matteo Bottarelli attacked colleagues with axe in June last year

A maintenance worker who attacked three of his colleagues has been found guilty of two counts of attempted murder and one of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. Matteo Bottarelli was found guilty at Wood Green Crown Court. He worked at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal and on the 21 June last year he attacked Trevor MacGuire, Gideon Tesfay and Mark Quigley.

Bottarelli left Trevor MacGuire with a serious brain injury as well as stabbing Gideon Tesfay in the neck from behind with a scalpel, and attempting to injure a third man, Mark Quigley.

Appearing at the Old Bailey, Bottarelli pleaded guilty to the lesser offences of wounding with intent to cause grevious bodily harm, but they were not accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

He will be sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on 30 April.

A police statement said:

“Shortly after 13.18hrs on 21 June 2023, police were called to Central Middlesex Hospital to reports that two people had been stabbed. Officers attended, and found two men, aged in their 40s, both suffering from significant injuries. Thankfully, although substantial, their injuries were not life threatening.

“Enquiries established that moments before the attack Bottarelli had approached one of his colleagues at the hospital saying 1today is your lucky day’. He then attempted to attack a male member of staff, before attacking two more male staff members with a pickaxe and a scalpel.

“An urgent search was conducted and armed officers found Bottarelli at his home. He was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment to self-inflicted injuries. He was later taken into custody and was charged with multiple offences.”

At Bottarelli’s in Central Way, Brent police recovered the mattock, a number of knives and scalpels.

Image above: Trevor MacGuire

Victim left with serious brain injury

Trevor MacGuire, 61, was one of three victims attacked by Matteo Bottarelli. He has a lifelong brain injury as a result of head injuries caused by the attack.

In a statement he said:

“There are many things that I cannot do as a result of the injuries caused by this attack. So many things have been taken away from me and my family, but I try not to dwell on them too much. To get on with my life, I have to get on with the disabilities, and all I want to do now is try to put this to one side. I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for their support throughout this ordeal.”

 

Image above: Trevor and Dawn MacGuire

“Trauma will effect our family forever”

Trevor’s wife, Dawn MacGuire said:

“This whole experience has been horrific, made worse by Mr Bottarelli’s refusal to plead guilty to attempted murder. The injuries that my husband has to live with and the trauma that this has caused will affect our family forever.”

Trevor and his family were supported by Moore Barlow, personal injury lawyers. One of their lawyers, Matthew Claxson said:

“This is a tragic incident which has affected the entire MacGuire family; the physical and emotional damage caused by Mr Bottarelli is irreparable. But the outcome of today’s hearing is an indication for the family that the end of the criminal process is in sight, and the next Hearing at Wood Green Crown Court will deal with the sentencing of Mr Bottarelli.”

Chiswick’s local MPs vote for “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza after chaotic scenes in Parliament

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP, Andy Slaughter MP

Ruth Cadbury and Andy Slaughter support Labour ceasefire motion which has sparked calls for Speaker to resign

Two MPs local to Chiswick have voted for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in the Israel-Hamas war, after chaotic scenes in the House of Commons when SNP MPs and some Conservatives walked out of the chamber in protest over the Speaker’s handling of the Gaza ceasefire debate.

Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury and Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter backed the Labour motion, which was accepted at the last minute by Sir Lindsay Hoyle. He was later forced to apologise to MPs over that decision and is facing calls to quit.

The row erupted in the Commons on Wednesday (21 February), over an SNP ‘opposition day’ The purpose of an opposition day is for an opposition party to have the opportunity to put forward a motion for debate and vote. On Wednesday it was the turn of the SNP to do that and they chose to table a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, broke with tradition and allowed a Labour amendment on the SNP motion first, prompting fury from both the SNP and the Conservatives, whose members both walked out of the debate. Several MPs have called on the Speaker to step down, and 33 Tory and SNP MPs have declared they have no confidence in him.

Image above: Gaza debate in Parliament, Wednesday 21 February 2024

Sir Lindsay Hoyle was accused of allowing Labour to hijack the debate. He came back to the chamber later, saying:

“I thought I was doing the right thing and the best thing, and I regret it, and I apologise for how it’s ended up.

“I do take responsibility for my actions, and that’s why I want to meet with the key players who have been involved.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn told the PA news agency:

“I think we probably need a wee bit of an investigation into what has happened here.”

He said his party had been treated “with complete and utter contempt”.

Labour’s amendment called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, but did not include mention of the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” which is a technical term amounting to a war crime and which was part of the text of the SNP motion.

The Labour amendment also “condemns the terrorism of Hamas” and notes “that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence”. It called for the release of hostages and international aid to be let through to Gaza.

Keir Starmer faced the largest rebellion since becoming Labour Leader on Wednesday faced with the SNP’s motion, but it is reported that hours before the vote he visited Sir Lindsay’s office in person. During the meeting, the Labour Leader is said to have put pressure the Speaker to accept the motion, claiming that the security of Labour MPs was at risk.

A source close to the Speaker said the suggestion he was pressurised by the Labour Party was “absolutely untrue”.

The MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Dr Rupa Huq, was not present during the vote, as she was travelling abroad as a delegate for OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).

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Unexpected sewage discharge spotted in River Thames at Strand on the Green

Image above: “Brown froth and faeces” spotted in the Thames

Thames Water discharge map says no local discharges for the last 48 hours

Thames Water have said they will investigate after sewage was unexpectedly spotted in the River Thames by Strand-on-the-Green in Chiswick on Tuesday (20 February).

The X account @ChiswickHighRd said: ‘Brown froth & faeces on the Thames at Chiswick today. Thank you @thameswater. @EnvAgency @GabriellaSGG

While sewage discharges in the Thames are not an uncommon sight, Tuesday’s discharge stood out. Thames Water’s own discharge map, which is supposed to show “near real-time” storm discharge activity, says there have been no discharges locally for the last 48 hours.

Storm overflow sites nearby include Kew Transfer, Stamford Brook, Mogden Sewage Treatment Works and Hammersmith Bridge.

Sewage overflows into the Thames and other bodies of water happen more often in wet weather when the drainage system can’t cope with the volume of waste water.

Responding to a picture of the effluent floating on the surface of the river posted on X, Thames Water seemed unaware of the discharge. The company’s official X account asked the witness for the specific location of the discharge, and asked whether it had entered the river from any nearby manholes or drains.

Once the location was confirmed, the water company said it would be “happy to open an investigation” into the discharge, again questioning the potential source.

The Chiswick Calendar has approached Thames Water for comment.

Former Hounslow police officer convicted of multiple rapes, including of a child

Image above: Cliff Mitchell; via Metropolitan Police

Former officer convicted of ten counts of rape, three counts of rape of a child under 13

A former Met officer who worked in LB Hounslow has been convicted of multiple counts of rape, including of a child.

Cliff Mitchell, 24, from Putney, was found guilty of ten counts of rape, three counts of rape of a child under 13, one count of kidnap and breach of a non-molestation order following a trial at Croydon Crown Court on Wednesday (21 February).

He was a serving PC in Hounslow when a number of the offences were committed.

On Tuesday, 5 September 2023, Mitchell arrived at the address of a woman who he raped at knifepoint before blindfolding her with his hooded top, tying her hands with cable ties and forcing her into his car.

In Longfield Avenue in Hackbridge, she managed to escape from the vehicle and approached a member of the public who let her into her car before calling 999.

An alert was put out for Mitchell’s car and he was stopped and arrested around seven miles away in Putney.

Investigation into previous rape allegations reopened

An investigation was immediately launched, led by the Met’s dedicated Domestic Abuse and Sexual Offending (DASO) team. DASO was set up as part of our ongoing efforts to tackle violence against women and girls, with more than 50 experienced investigators targeting any officer or staff member suspected of domestic abuse or sexual offences.

Officers from the team searched Mitchell’s car and recovered the hooded top. A search of an address linked to Mitchell found a bag containing cable ties, similar to those the victim had described as being used around her wrists.

Mitchell was remanded in custody and charged with multiple counts of rape, kidnap and breach of a non-molestation order. He was immediately suspended.

Mitchell had previously been investigated for rape in 2017, which had resulted in no further action. Following his arrest, the case was re-investigated and a file passed to the CPS. This resulted in Mitchell being charged with an additional three counts of rape of a child under 13 and three counts of rape. These six charges relate to a second victim and occurred between 2014 and 2017.

Mitchell applied to join the Met in 2020 and started his training in August 2021. On finishing training school, he worked as a neighbourhoods officer in Hounslow between June 2022 and May 2023, before joining the response team.

Mitchell was dismissed from the Met in December 2023 following an accelerated misconduct hearing for breach of a non-molestation order which had been in place since 20 July 2023.

Image above: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy; via Facebook

Case “will impact the confidence people have in us” says Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said:

“This is a truly shocking case and I am sickened by Mitchell’s abhorrent behaviour and the pain he has caused the victims, who have shown enormous bravery by coming forward and giving evidence in court.

“It is down to their courage that he has been convicted and faces a significant custodial sentence. I would also like to recognise the brave member of the public who came to the aid of one of the victims as she ran from Mitchell’s car.

“Mitchell not only carried out a sustained campaign of abuse against both of his victims, but he told one of them she would never be believed due to the fact he was a police officer. This brazen abuse of power makes Mitchell’s actions all the more deplorable.

“I know this is another case which will impact the confidence people have in us. We are doing more than we have done in decades to rid the Met of those who corrupt our integrity, including investing millions of pounds into our professional standards team and bringing in additional officers and staff with specialist skills and experience to investigate criminality and misconduct.

“Part of that is dismissing officers who should not be here at the earliest opportunity. Mitchell was dismissed from the Met in December 2023 – we did not wait for his conviction today.”

Police release images of men after violent assault on N207 bus

Images above: Two men sought by police in connection with a violent assault on the N207 bus

One woman was dragged down the stairs and off the bus and assaulted

Police have released images of two men sought in connection with a violent assault on a group of women on a bus in west London. At around 2.50am on Saturday, 20 January, a group of women were travelling on a route N207 bus near Holland Park Underground Station travelling from Tottenham Court Road.

They were approached by two males who made advances towards them. When they declined the men became physically and verbally abusive. One of the victims, aged 26, was dragged down the stairs off the bus and assaulted.Another victim, aged 24, sustained facial injuries after being assaulted.

Both victims were enormously distressed by the incident and are affected by it to this today, police say.

Police have released images of two men they would like to speak to. Anyone who can identify the males pictured is asked to call 101 ref 0987/20JAN24.

Alternatively post @MetCC or to remain 100% anonymous call the independent charity Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.

Cigar company applies for shop in Chiswick

Image above: Inside the City of London Cigars store in Holborn, via City of London Cigars

Cigar company hopes to open shop on Chiswick High Road

A cigar company has submitted an application to open a shop on Chiswick High Road, pending approval from Hounslow Council. Chiswick Cigars wants to convert number 129, formally Thai Retreat, into a retail premises selling cigars, cigar accessories as well as wines and spirits.

The company which has made the application is based at the address of City of London Cigars in Grays Inn Road in Holborn. Local commercial estate agent MJ Finn says on its website that it completed the signing of the lease for Chiswick Cigars earlier this month.

Plans for the shop show it will contain a humidifier room. An application has been made to the borough licensing department to sell alcohol for off premises consumption from 9.00am to 11.00pm every day. Comments must be submitted by 14 March.

Council will consider health risks of smoking

In deciding whether to grant a licence, the Council will weight up the benefits to having a shop in Chiswick High Rd which many will find attractive against the public health arguments.

Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, according to data from the NHS.

Every year around 76,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.

Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. Some may be fatal, and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health. Smokers can also affect the health of those around them who breathe in the smoke.

Smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer (70%). It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body, including the mouth, throat, voice box (larynx), oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), bladder and many more.

Clayton Hotel recognised at West London Business Awards

Image above: Food / Drink and Hospitality Business of the Year: The Clayton Hotel Chiswick

Clayton Hotel wins Food/ Drink and Hospitality Business of the Year

Three London Borough of Hounslow winners, Spark!, The Clayton Hotel and Alexanders Group were recognised at the 2024 West London Business Awards.

Hosted by comedienne Jenny Eclair and attended by over 400 business leaders, entrepreneurs, and VIPs, the Awards was held at Twickenham Stadium on Friday 16 February.

Highly commended businesses on the night within Hounslow borough were Brompton Tech, West London Children’s Centre, West Thames College, and Fuller Smith and Turner. Alexanders Group also received a highly commended award in the Community Investment category.

Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive of West London Business, said:

“This was our eleventh West London Business Awards, and the standard of entries remains outstanding. The entrepreneurs and businesses that won at this year’s awards ceremony really earned their recognition, as there was stiff competition. These winners demonstrate that London is still the best place in the UK to run and grow a business or develop a career.”

The Hounslow winners on the night were Education and Training Provider of the Year: Spark!, Food / Drink and Hospitality Business of the Year: The Clayton Hotel Chiswick and Logistics Business of the Year: Alexanders Group.

Image above: Education and Training Provider of the Year: Spark!

Image above: Food / Drink and Hospitality Business of the Year: The Clayton Hotel Chiswick

Image above: Logistics Business of the Year: Alexanders Group

Curious Roo coffee roastery seeks to move from British Grove to Power Road

Image above: Curious Roo’s sign

Australian coffee roastery wants to relocate after complaints from residents at the other end of Chiswick High Rd

Plans to relocate the Curious Roo coffee roastery to Power Road in Chiswick have been recommended by Hounslow Council’s planning officers for approval by the Planning Committee.

The company, established by Australians Edwin and Magda Harrison following a year-long stay in Uganda, has been operating from British Grove at the eastern end of Chiswick High Road since 2016. Alongside their roastery, they also own the Artisan coffee shop chain, with a branch located on the corner of Chiswick High Road and Goldhawk Road.

Curious Roo has applied (00890/11/P3) for a change of use for the building at the rear of number 11 Power Rd, which will require some alterations to the roof and a new steel chimney.

The roastery has had complaints from residents at British Grove. A report by Hounslow planners says no statutory nuisance enforcement action was taken because their equipment was installed following discussions with the Council’s Community Enforcement team, and Curious Roo had taken precautions in designing their operation to mitigate any impact on neighbouring properties.

The Power Rd location should be more suitable, as it is designated as an area for light industrial use. Despite that, nearby residents have raised concerns about potential noise, smell, and safety concerns there too, which the planners have dismissed in their recent report.

Power Rd is next to the Thorney Hedge Road Conservation Area and the road itself has some art deco buildings

The planning department says Curious Roo’s proposed relocation is a suitable use of the site designated as Locally Significant Industrial, and it poses no adverse effects on the area’s aesthetics or the living conditions of nearby residents.

The application has yet to be assigned a date to be discussed by the Planning Committee.

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A bit of a hornet’s nest

Image above: (L) Asian Hornet, clearly showing the dark thorax and abdomen and the yellow tips to the legs; photograph Haim Charbit; (R) photograph by Fablegros; both from Pixabay

Guest blog by Joanne Gilbert

Our main aim as WildChiswick is to help local wildlife thrive and survive.  Sometimes to do this, you need to consider the damage that can be done to our native flora and fauna by invasive species. Earlier this week I had a chat with Mark Pritchard who is an avid nature lover and beekeeper. Mark is very concerned about the rapid growth of Asian Hornet nests across the Southeast of England and is keen to make the public aware of their arrival, and ways in which they can report sightings.

It is believed the first Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004, most likely in a consignment of pottery from China. The species has since spread to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium and Holland arriving in the UK in 2016. It is assumed the insects arrived on UK shores through a consignment of goods such as soil associated with imported plants, cut flowers and garden furnishings. Although the possibility of the hornet being able to fly across the Channel has not been ruled out.

Image above: Asian Hornet nest; photograph Claude Alleva – Pixabay

Why should we care about a new species on our shores?

The Asian Hornet is a ferocious eater with a particular taste for the honeybee as well as our native solitary and bumble bees. One nest can collect 11kg of insects in a year – the same weight as my cocker spaniel!

The Queen can emerge from hibernation as early as February if temperatures reach 13 degrees Centigrade for 3 days on the trot. At this stage she is feeding off nectar to gain energy. She will begin to build her nest and lay her eggs. The worker bees she produces are infertile and will spend their time finding food for the queen and her brood. This is when they will be looking for protein and the honeybee is their key resource. August through to November is their most active period.

They will fly around hives “hawking” for bees which they capture, slice up and take the thorax back to their nest for consumption. They tend to attack more than one hive at a time. Not only does the killing of the bees destroy the nest but the stress placed on the hive and the energy used to protect the inhabitants, often sees a hive collapsing as they no longer go out to forage.

Portugal reported a 35% decrease in their honey production in November 2023. Local conservation groups such as Buglife see the Asian Hornet as a real threat to our native insects and biodiversity due to its ferocious appetite.

Over 45 sighting have been made of Asian Hornet nests in the Southeast since 2016, mostly in Kent. However, August last year saw the first sighting and nest destruction in Thamesmead, London.

Image above: European Hornet, showing brown/orange body with brown legs. More yellow on abdomen than the Asian species. Photograph Ralphs_Fotos – Pixabay

Do not confuse with native species

We do have a native hornet – the European Hornet is a docile insect and goes about its business without upsetting the eco-system or bee hives. It does eat other insects but by and large is a friend to farmers and gardeners alike. We also have the median wasp, hornet mimic hoverfly and the woodwasp who are similar in appearance.

This is one reason Mark does not want anyone to kill the suspected Asian Hornet, just in case it is in fact, a native species. It will be his job to confirm identification. There is also a chance that if the identification is correct, the Hornet can lead experts to the nest and it can be destroyed.

How to identify

The Asian Hornet is smaller than the European Hornet.  It has an almost entirely dark body with the 4th segment on its body being yellow/orange in colour. Our native European Hornet has more of an orange/brown body colour.  The Asian hornet also has yellow tips to its legs, whereas the native hornet has dark legs.

What if we see one?

Mark now has an AH verification with the BBKA – (British Bee Keeping Association) enabling him to go out and confirm any sightings of an Asian Hornet in the local area. I asked him what a person should do if they think they have spotted a single hornet or a nest. The first thing he said was not to try and kill it and certainly do not attempt to remove the nest.

Although reasonably docile, they will protect their nest and with a 6mm sting in the tail, I would certainly not approach! Mark says the thing to do is take a photo if you can. Don’t worry if you miss it first time around as it will probably make another appearance. Then report the sighting via either of the following:

Download Asian Hornet Watch app for android and Iphone Online at: nonnativespecies.org/asianhornet

Email:  alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

To contact Mark directly for a sighting verification tel:  07813 520678.

How to protect your hives

Beekeepers are now looking for ways to protect their hives. Some methods are quite expensive whilst others reasonably simple. I have read that the simplest commercial trap is the Veto Pharma trap sold by Thornes; a cheaper version is a DIY bottle trap. The best commercial attractant seems to be Trappit; the simplest DIY version is blackberry jam, sugar, water, and a splash of beer. Spray some attractant around the entrance to increase the scent profile and make your trap more interesting.

If you do set up a trap for your hives it is VERY important you protect from bycatch of other species. You can enable bycatch to escape by making holes in your traps: 7mm holes will keep queens in. In the summer, when workers are the target, the bycatch escape holes need to be 5.5mm.

Jo Gilbert, Founder WildChiswick

wildchiswick.com

Further information on how to identify can be found at:  nonnativespecies.org

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Bryony Wilman obituary

Bryony Wilman, 1947 – 2024

Obituary by Alastair Dewar of St Michael’s Players

Community Theatre in Chiswick is mourning one of its major figures – Bryony Wilman.  It seems she suffered a fatal accident at home on Friday 2 February.

Bryony appeared on stage with a number of local theatre groups over the years, including TW4 and Barnes Community Players, and acquired an IMDb listing as a producer for two short films: Under the Jericho Sun (2018) and Tricycle (2022).

Bryony’s main theatrical home, however, was the St Michael’s Players which she joined in 2007 and there will have been very few of the group’s many productions since then that Bryony did not touch in some way. She was a committed, talented and enthusiastic actress, director, stage manager, costume and wardrobe manager and committee member.

Images above: Bryony Wilman working on productions for St Michael’s Players

In 2022 her incredible contribution to the Players was recognised when she was made an honorary life member. In 2024 she became Chairman and her energy and passion for that role were already obvious before this tragic event cut it short. Bryony represented the beating heart of the St Michael’s Players, and her passing has left a huge void in so many ways.

Bryony also touched many hearts beyond the theatre through her work with the Citizens Advice Bureau, making hundreds of scrub caps for the NHS, and countless other acts of kindness. She loved animals and children in equal measure – giving home to a multitude of cats and joyfully entertaining any children who came to rehearsals.

To say she will be sadly missed is a huge understatement.

A crematorium service will be held at Mortlake crematorium at 2pm on Friday 1 March followed by a reception at the Bollo House, W4 5LR.

Alastair Dewar was St Michael’s Players chairman for the past ten years, until he handed over to Bryony in January. 

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Food St Market – Sunday 25 February the biggest yet

Image above: Waffle & Co will be at this weekend’s street food market

Guest blog by Richard Johnson

Food St is back – bigger and better – after Hounslow council agreed to triple the number of food trucks allowed to rattle their pots and pans at Old Market Place. On February 25, from 11am-4pm, expect a seven-metre waffle truck, Himalayan dumplings, a KILLER venison burger, gozleme from Turkey and Taiwanese barbecue.

The Food St organisers (who also run the biggest street food competition in the world) are curating a new selection of fresh food stalls, including hand-made pasta, Japanese patisserie, fresh olives, soft and hard Italian cheeses, and small batch, tray-baked granola with no preservatives, additives, refined sugar or salt.

Waffle & Co look as if they are not averse to using sugar and salt

Baba Dhaba are one of the long list of Food St newcomers. The brainchild of two best friends, the catchy name is a tribute to their inspirational fathers (baba) and the iconic food stalls favoured by truckers in Pakistan (dhaba).

“Our dads used to have BBQ-offs every summer testing out recipes on each other and ones that stuck for us were the lamb keema seekh kebabs and chicken tandoori” says Haaris Siddiqui. “So we “borrowed” (haha) their recipes and took on the [street food] scene.” Thank goodness they did.

They will be joined by other Food St first-timers such as Seawise Trading, with their lobster rolls, British Street Food Awards winners Gamekeeper, and Brazilian BBQ specialists the Maracatu Grill truck.

Brazilians know how to barbecue meat, with large racks of sirloins rammed onto spits. It’s delicious, but not for the faint hearted. The sirloins are turned, slowly, by hand, on huge skewers and seasoned simply with rock salt, smoke and a homemade herb-laden chimmichurri sauce for extra zing – but the good quality meat speaks for itself.

Image above: Classic combo, bread and sausage; photograph James White photography

Food St will indeed be a meaty nirvana. With porky goodness from Mr Pig Stuff, Naija lamb chops from Suyaboiz, Korean Fried Chicken from Nimtoh, jerk chicken from Funky Elephant, crispy duck from Fine Street Events and Cape Malay lamb from Potjie Man. Carnivores, we got you. But vegans? We got you too.

There’s Yala Shawarma, with their vegan Middle Eastern menu. There’s the cooked-to-order falafel from Sim Sim. And there’s the Colombian classics from Tina’s Box. This mother and daughter duo are the latest talent to come out of our incubator with Shepherds Bush Market. They started making empanadas for family and friends in 2016. Now they’re serving up everything from patacon nachos to chickpea stew, arepas and mushroom ceviche. Buen provecho ?

Image above: Food St stallholder serving hot food ready to eat; photograph James White photography

But it won’t JUST be about the 27 different food trucks when the Food St parks up in Chiswick’s Old Market Place. Oh no. We’re just as excited to host the renowned busking talent of Scott McMahon AND The Singing Society – West London’s favourite singalong choir. You’d be mad to miss it!

“We’ve been singing together for just under a year” says the Singing Society’s Louise Jones. “It’s a community choir which is open to everyone. No auditions, just loads of fun.  We have a parents’ choir – where we particularly welcome those with young babies and toddlers, and we certainly don’t mind if they make a noise during rehearsals – and a children’s choir for primary school age.“

Set list :

Imagine

Dance the Night Away

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You?

Pompeii

Flowers

Three Little Birds

Richard Johnson is the organiser of the FoodSt market, taking place at Old Market Place, Chiswick High Rd, W4 3DR, on Sunday 25 February from 11am-4pm.

If music be the food of love … Chiswick Schools’s steel band is the jerk seasoning

Image above: Band leader and teacher Samuel Dubois performing with Chiswick School students

Taking every opportunity to get out of school and play at community events

I realise that jerk seasoning is Jamaican and steel pan is Trinidadian, but you think of a better headline that mixes street food and steel pan music.

Chiswick School’s Steel band will be playing at the FoodSt market on Sunday 24 March in Old Market Place on Chiswick High Rd. The cheerful sound of the tinny pans will brighten up the bleakest of days, so it’s a good move on their part, especially as Chiswick Schools’s steel band knows what they’re about.

They are lucky to have Samuel Dubois as their leader. As well as teaching at the school, Samuel is a successful musician in his own right, who has performed and taught around the world (in 70 countries) performing with artists such as Rihanna, Craig Davis and Courtney Pine. He has won a MOBO award and has just released his own album, Bassman.

“I did a couple of shows with Rihanna when she came to London for the Brit awards” he says, when pressed. “I’ve played with Craig David a few times, some live shows for BBC 1 Extra. Courtney Pine was ten years ago, on Jules Holland’s show.”

Images above: Chiswick Schools’ steel pan

He comes from a talented family. One sister is the DJ Tafrina DuBois, another sister Caroline a champion boxer (Youth Olympic champion, World Youth champion and four-times European Youth champion) and his brother Danny a World Champion heavyweight boxer (WBA heavyweight champion 2022-23).

When not teaching, Samuel is touring. Head of the music department Zac Moxon reminds him of the time he turned up slightly late for a lesson one day and a bit out of breath.

“Oh yes”, says Samuel, “I was late to period one. I’d been in Croatia recording over a weekend and the tour company cancelled our flight, so I hitch-hiked back.”

Images above: The band in Croatia; Samuel’s Bassman album, dedicated to ‘The Bassman’ Ashley Bullard

His new album is the product of work recorded during lockdown, when he went to Senegal for three months and played with Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal and percussionist Bakane Seck.

Steel pan is great for a school band because you can take part to some degree no matter how inexperienced or ignorant of music you are, but to have someone like that as your teacher is inspiring.

Samuel is also someone with whom students can identify because he is local, having gone to school at Ark Burlington Danes school in White City. He joined the Ebony steel band; one of Europe’s leading steel bands and one of the first to set up in the UK, which has recently celebrated its 50 year anniversary.

Ebony has won the National Panorama competition at Notting Hill Carnival for a record 22 times and encourages people of all ages to play.

Image above: Chiswick School Chamber orchestra

It is this sort of confidence Samuel and Zac want to give students at Chiswick School by giving them as many opportunities to play in public in as many different settings as possible. Since Zac took over as Head of Music he has established four choirs – Years seven and eight Girls and Boys, Chiswick Voices (selective) and the Performing Arts Choir (inclusive), eight bands (there are eight ‘functioning’ bands and two ‘dormant’) and an orchestra. There are also now two steel bands – a junior and a senior.

READ ALSO: Chiswick School Choral Group sing at King’s College, Cambridge

Image above: Chiswick Voices at Kings College, Cambridge

From King’s College to the City Barge

Under his leadership the students at Chiswick School have had the opportunity to perform in some spectacular venues. In November Chiswick Voices, the senior choir of Chiswick School, sang at a joint service of Choral Evensong with King’s Voices, the mixed choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and last March they sang the whole of Vivaldi’s Gloria with Hounslow Youth Choir, even though the choir had only been formed in January 2022.

The bands play in local pubs. One of the bands formed in January 2022, ‘The Q’ play regularly at the Queen’s Head pub in Chiswick and the other bands play at the City Barge. Students have also performed at Watermans in Brentford.

Zac won the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year award at the 2023 Pearson National Teaching Awards in November, which recognised his ‘inspirational teaching style, remarkable contributions to both the school and the community, and his significant influence among peers and students’.

READ ALSO: Chiswick School teacher wins gold at prestigious National Teaching Awards

READ ALSO: Education Secretary visits Chiswick School, as Head of Music wins prestigious award

Image above: Zac Moxon (second from the right) at the award ceremony with Georgia Knight, Head of Dance (L) Tommy Robinson, Head of Performing Arts at Chiswick School, and Head teacher Laura Ellener (R)

“We had military parades every lunchtime”

Zac’s musical education could not be more different from Samuel’s. Where Samuel had no formal training, Zac studied Music at Cambridge University, and won a bursary to Christ’s Hospital School, a boarding school for ‘talented individuals who experience financial need’

He described the experience as “life-changing”:

“The school had a 100 strong marching band, we had military parades every lunchtime and often played at Twickenham and Lord’s Cricket ground. We played symphonies in Orchestra and sang big works like Faure’s Requiem in choir.”

Alumni are encouraged never to forget the great benefits they have received and to enable others to have the same advantage, a credo which he applies to teaching his students. Zac could have toured as a bassoonist with orchestras, but chose a life of stability and routine so there was some chance he might see his wife now and then.

“The pandemic showed me how uncertain a career as a professional musician could be.”

Touring orchestras’ loss is Chiswick’s gain. Having done a crash course in teaching with Teach First and started as a maths teacher at Chiswick, he was very quickly asked to take over the role of Head of Music when the position became available. The A level course was almost scrapped, but it is now flourishing. One student has received an offer for a choral scholarship to Oxford. Another has a place at Trinity College London.

By encouraging their students to perform in the community, the students gain confidence as perfomers and we get the benefit of live music at a raft of community events.

Image above: The Q ’70s & ’80s music night

Chiswick School gigs

Coming up soon:

The Q live at the Queen’s Head, Thursday 22 February at 7 pm
Dark Riders live at the City Barge, Wednesday 28 February at 6.30pm
Faure Requiem with Chiswick Voices and Chiswick Community Choir at St Mary’s Osterley, Saturday 16 March at 6pm
Chiswick School steel band at FoodSt street food market at Old Market Place, Sunday 24 March at 2pm
Jazz and Blues Night at Chiswick School, in the school hall, Tuesday 26 March at 6.30

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Brentford 1, Liverpool 4

Images above: Pre match nerves: with so much at stake even Buzz look pensive; Roeslev puts the boot in; photographs Liz Vercoe

Third season: No mercy Mersey

Some you win and some you lose and sometimes one or two or three other competitors can, without trying, form a cabal.

Hence Manchester City played Brentford at the Gtech Stadium just a fortnight after Liverpool rolled into town and now will meet Thomas Frank’s team again on Tuesday of next week, at the Etihad Stadium. Meanwhile Arsenal, having edged the Bees out 1-0 at home last November are poised to entertain them at the Emirates three weeks from now, when several key Bees will still be suffering from injuries that have blighted the club’s progress this term.

As you may have notices, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City occupy the top three places in the Premier League and are likely to be there still – shuffle the pack to see in which order – as the season ticks to a close.

No complaints. That’s the way it goes. And one can hardly blame the crème de la crème of the game – their own problems less devastating because of untold wealth – for taking advantage of football’s less glamorous clubs.

Images above: Second half greeting between Mo Salah and Ivan Toney; photograph Liz Vercoe; Toney attempts more flight bending magic; photograph Will Hagerty

Which is why Manchester City scored three times to Brentford’s once at the Gtech and Liverpool went one better in – let’s face it – what was a one-sided encounter on a day when the Bees were frustrated as the visitors showed their class with a faultless, almost, display.

It didn’t help that a series of errors opened the doors of success to the League leaders on the day, with defensive blunders occurring and chances missed from the start – witness Ivan Toney’s uncharacteristic scuffed shot rolling across the face of Caoimhin Kelleher’s goal early on. Brentford competed spiritedly, but soon it became obvious that even without Mo Salah in the starting line-up, this polished performance was the real deal. Rarely did a pass go astray, gaps were opened up almost at will, and after 35 minutes Darwin Núnez latched on to a Diogo Jota header to outwit the defence and float a lob over the advancing Mark Flekken. Perfect in all departments.

Curtis Jones had already received attention from the medics and was then substituted, but the Bees hung on tenaciously until Jota limped off and Salah made his first appearance since returning from the Egyptian squad at the Africa Cup of Nations. It took him the interval and ten minutes or so to settle in before laying on the pass that enabled Alexis Mac Allister to score a second goal. As if if Liverpool needed help from the bench!

Image above: Fast and furious to the finish; photographs Liz Vercoe

From here on it was mostly uphill for the Bees. Salah ghosted into the penalty area, where discomfort was almost visible on the faces of the defence, making his journey simpler than necessary to tuck the ball inside the far post. Then Cody Gakpo added a fourth for City, although not before a rare defensive mistake allowed Ivan Toney to seize a wayward ball and easily beat Kelleher.

It was some consolation to wrap up an unsatisfactory afternoon for Brentford, but not much of one considering the game as a whole.

Nothing to add really, other than a word for referee Michael Oliver, who at time appeared determined to keep the match moving no matter what. His few firm decisions earned Brentford two yellow cards and Liverpool one, but more interesting was – among others – a blatant, illegal and unacknowledged charge in the back that floored Toney. Check out Facebook if in doubt.

Image above: A tale of two managers – Klopp triumphant (right); Frank lost in thought (left); photograph Will Hagerty

The two or three knocks suffered by manager Jürgen Klopp’s talented players were a couple that might mean time out for them to heal and, therefore, matches to be missed. We know the feeling, what with first-teamers Aaron Hickey, Rico Henry, Bryan Mbeumo, Kevin Schade, Josh Dasilva and – the latest – Ethan Pinnock all in treatment and several of them already on the long-term injury list.

It’s a tough old game, observed my mate Charlie. ‘Yes, and at the end of every game, sometimes you’re smiling and sometimes you’re crying,’ I told him.

‘I’m not smiling’, said Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Collins, Ajer, Mee; Roerslev (substitute Lewis-Potter 63), Jensen (sub Damsgaard 74), Nørgaard (sub Onyeka 63), Janelt, Reguilión (sub Ghoddos 85); Toney, Maupay (sub Wissa 63).

Liverpool: Kelleher; Bradley (sub Gomez 83), Konaté, van Dij, Robertson; Mac Allister (sub Elliott 83), Endo, Jones (sub Gravenberch 34); Jota (sub Salah 44), Núnez (sub Gakpo 45), Diaz.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Bees United website.  Bill, who lives in Chiswick and is a former Fleet Street editor, was named Journalist Laureate 2023 the London Press Club awards:

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

Hammersmith Bridge reopens to cyclists

Image above: London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman crosses Hammersmith Bridge on his bike

Cyclists, cargo bikes and e-scooters can now cross Hammersmith Bridge for ten weeks

Cyclists, cargo bike and e-scooter users got together on Sunday (18 February) to celebrate their ability to cross Hammersmith Bridge once more. The bridge was reopened to cyclists on Tuesday 13 February, allowing them to use its new two-way central lane.

Among those enjoying the event was broadcaster Jeremy Vine, who ceremonially cut a red ribbon to declare the lane open.

Image above: Jeremy Vine declaring the cycle lane open

The newly constructed three-meter-wide cycle lane is expected to remain accessible for approximately 10 weeks. This development eliminates the need for cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge, thereby freeing up footways for pedestrians.

While motorbikes and mopeds remain prohibited, marshals will be on duty 24/7 to manage traffic flow.

Image above: The Chiswick contingent setting off from Old Market Place to join in the ceremonial opening 

Hammersmith & Fulham Council said the decision to repair and reopen the carriageway is due to a pause in stabilisation works on the Grade II* listed bridge. Delays in stabilisation arose due to the need for prefabricated steel plates for the pedestals and damage sustained by the bridge’s gantry from a recent boat accident involving football fans.

The incident in December caused significant damage to the bridge, as a boat carrying West Ham United football fans to Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage severed the 130-metre-long steel gantry crucial for maintenance workers’ access to the bridge’s underside.

While repairs are underway, the Council seized the opportunity to establish a temporary central cycle lane on the bridge.

Image above: Lovely day for a cycle

Subsequent phases of the stabilisation project involve lifting the four corner pedestals to replace the bridge’s bearings. Following completion, H&F will explore e-mobility options to assist residents, particularly the elderly or disabled, subject to safety weight limits.

Hammersmith Bridge, an architectural marvel made of wood, wrought iron, and cast iron pedestals, is one of the world’s oldest suspension bridges. Its repair cost of £250 million makes it one of Britain’s most expensive and intricate projects.

“The future”, reaction to bridge’s reopening

Will Norman, London’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said on Twitter:

“Good to see @LBHF reopen Hammersmith Bridge to cycles and cargo bikes. The bridge had to be closed after being hit by a boat of West Ham fans on route to Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage, damaging the steel gantry running under the bridge.”

Other groups and individuals posted their joy at the bridge reopening, some of which are below:

 

Above: Tweets from people crossing the newly opened bridge.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick set to host largest-ever gatheting of Routemaster buses

Image above: A red routemaster bus

Visitors will be able to ride the buses

Chiswick is set to host the largest-ever gathering of the iconic Routemaster buses later this year, organised by The Routemaster Association.

RM70 will take place at Chiswick Business Park over the weekend of 20 and 21 July. Entry will be free, offering visitors the chance to ride on the buses between Chiswick and the London Transport Museum.

Chiswick Business Park was selected as the venue for the event due to its historical significance as the former location of one of London Transport’s main bus maintenance works. It was renowned for its skid pan, where trainee drivers learned how to deal with icy conditions.

A decade ago, The Routemaster Association hosted RM60 in Finsbury Park, drawing thousands of visitors to view over 130 Routemasters.

John Ward, Chairman of the Routemaster Association, said:

“I am delighted to announce that RM70 will now be held on the site of the former Chiswick Works in West London. The historical connection between this site and the development and introduction of the Routemaster bus cannot be overstated… Chiswick has excellent facilities and with easy access for both owners and enthusiasts, we feel this site will offer a new perspective for the event”.

Most Routemaster buses are now privately owned by enthusiasts, and a number of the surviving buses are expected to attend, some making the journey from Europe to join the event.

The first Routemasters entered service with London Transport in February 1956, with the last ones withdrawn from regular service in December 2005. However, two Transport for London heritage routes continued to operate Routemasters in central London until 2019.

Established in 1988, The Routemaster Association aims to support new owners who have bought buses, following large-scale withdrawals from London service, to help them maintain these London icons and keep them looking their best.

Ruth Cadbury MP raises over £2000 for local food bank

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP finishing the run with a friend

MP’s 10k run raises £2,115 for Hounslow FoodBox

Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury has raised £2,115 for Hounslow Community Foodbox, by doing a sponsored run. The MP ran 10k to raise the money last month, after she visited the food bank and heard the team was seeing even greater need for food, toiletries and household items.

Sharing the news on X, formerly Twitter, the MP wrote:

‘‘I’ve been so overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people who’ve raised £2,000 for Hounslow Foodbox- beating my target!‘‘

“In one of the richest countries in the world it’s terrible we need food banks – but they do such an important job.

‘‘My JustGiving page is still open but alternatively you can support foodbox directly- whether that’s volunteering your time as a driver, donating foods (milk, tinned meat & veg always needed!) or setting up a recurring donation.’’

Ms. Cadbury’s JustGiving page is still active, you can donate via justgiving.com/page/ruthfoodboxjan2024

For more information about Hounslow Community Foodbox see hounslowfoodbox.org.uk

The Hounslow FoodBox is at the Rose Community Centre in Hawthorn Rd, Brentford, TW8 8NT.

Visit to Clayponds foodbank

Ruth also visited the foodbank at the Clayponds Community Centre in Brentford North last week, where she met volunteers who support members of the local community by providing free food.

Local residents who turned up were able to take home a bag of fresh food supplied by The Felix Project charity to help them with the cost-of-living. No referral is needed.

The weekly session, which takes place on Tuesdays, has been running since December 2023 and also provides the opportunity for local residents to speak with various support agencies, including the team from Hounslow Community solutions, Hounslow Housing, Community Police and Health Outreach.

Ruth Cadbury MP said:

“Too many local people are struggling at present so it’s good to know that every Tuesday afternoon there’ a friendly place in Brentford go to pick up a bag of food, without needing a referral, and once a month also get financial advice and support from people such as Hounslow’s Community Solutions.”

Julie Brooker and Jeanette Odey are local residents and have served the Clayponds Community Centre for the past 40 years, with food provided by the Felix Project. Julie said:

“The centre has a great community feel and it so important for people to come together at these difficult times. The drop-in provides the opportunity for residents to pick up fresh supplies that they may otherwise go without and speak to experts who are able to provide advise on local issues and the cost-of-living.”

The food distribution session is held every Tuesday from 1.30pm-4.30pm at the Clayponds Community Centre in north Brentford

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick man charged in connection with burglary

Image above: The Sainsbury’s Local on Bell St in Henley-on-Thames

Man from Chiswick among two men charged 

A man from Chiswick has appeared in court charged in connection with a burglary at a Sainsbury’s Local store in Henley-on-Thames.

Scott Webb, 45, of Grove Park Road, was charged alongside Alex Barrow, 38, of Shaftesbury Close, Bracknell.

The Sainsbury’s on Bell Street was broken into at around 2.45am on Tuesday 13 February and alcohol was stolen. Officers later stopped a vehicle containing the stolen alcohol and weapons.

The men were charged with one count each of burglary, going equipped, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a bladed article on the same day.

Barrow and Webb were remanded in custody and appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

They were further remanded in custody and are due to appear at Oxford Crown Court on 15th March.

Five west London men charged with smuggling hundreds of kilos of cannabis into the UK

Image above: Cannabis recovered by Metropolitan Police

Drugs seized have street value of £3.9 million

Police have charged five men with drug offences after cannabis, valued at nearly £4 million. was recovered by Border Force staff at Stansted Airport. The drugs were found on the 6 and 27 January. A previous shipment of 300kg of a substance believed to be cannabis was delivered to an address in Hayes on 11 January and was also linked to the investigation.

In a statement, Police said:

“Met officers executed warrants on 1 February at industrial units in Hayes and Northolt. Three men and one juvenile were arrested in Hayes. One man was arrested in a van which was stopped by police in Northolt.”

Hasin Hulusi, 58 of Shadwell Drive, Northolt; Mohammed Ali, 28 of Hope Gardens, Acton and Deepak Bhatti, 48 of Belvue Road, Northolt were arrested along with Guy Stevens, 33 of Hayes and a 17-year-old male.

All four men appeared at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on 3 February 2024 where they were remanded in custody to appear at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 1 March. The 17-year-old youth also appeared at Willesden Magistrates’ Court charged with importing cannabis and was released on bail.

The Met’s investigation was led by officers from a new proactive policing team based in Hayes. They say:

“The team are focused on tackling the most serious offences and organised crime in west London.”

New football sessions for women in Chiswick

Image above: Chiswick and Kew Swans

Sessions to be held on Monday evenings

Chiswick and Kew Swans are a new football club coming to Chiswick. They are to offer sessions from Monday 26 February to women in the area allowing them the chance to learn or return to football in a “welcoming environment.” The sessions are open to women aged 18 to 81+ with no previous experience necessary.

The sessions are to be held at Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Grounds. Postcode: W4 3TL.

They say their sessions are: “welcoming and inclusive with the emphasis on keeping fit, meeting friends and having fun.”

Swans FC was initially piloted in Twickenham and now regularly attracts close to 50 players over its two weekly sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Swans say these sessions:

“attract a broad spectrum of players including women who have never played before; women who have played before but dropped out of the sport due to changes in lifestyle and life stage; players in third level education who are unable to access the sometimes limited female offer at their various universities and finally parents of youth footballers keen to better understand the game their children play and to help support their knowledge of the game as managers and coaches.”

Image above: Twickenham Swans

Sessions “create better and equal opportunities for all”

Founder, Eamonn Newell said:

“Having created a club for young girls that prides itself on its inclusive philosophy, we felt the natural progression was to extend this to a wider female audience and have been amazed at the level of interest so far. We are excited to open more opportunities to play.”

Laura, a Twickenham Swans player said:

“After years of cheerleading from the sidelines, it’s great to finally make it on to the pitch with a bunch of like-minded mums who want to have fun, stay active and show their daughters that they can play too.”

“The impact the sessions are having on women aged over 30 is undeniable. We congratulate everyone involved in the Swans football programme in creating better and equal opportunities for all”. Kate Wells, Football Development Officer, Middlesex FA.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

London Overground strikes called off

Image above: RMT Picket line

RMT strikes were due to take place on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 February 2024

The planned strikes next week by London Overground train drivers have been called off after they were offered an improved pay settlement. They will now vote on the new offer next week.

The RMT, which has more than 300 members working for Arriva Rail London, announced Monday and Tuesday’s strikes have been cancelled. Staff were due to walk out from from 00:01 on 19 February until 23:59 on 20 February.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“London Overground members working for Arriva Rail London have made progress through their determination to take strike action.

“The dispute is not over but we have made sufficient progress to suspend the action next week in order for our members to assess the new offer fully in a referendum.”

Previous pay offer met with fury by members

The strikes were announced last month when Arriva Rail London announced they had offered workers a new pay offer. RMT boss Mick Lynch said the offer was “below inflation” and that members were “furious.”

Mr Lynch also said:

“London Overground workers do an important job delivering services for Transport for London and supporting passengers on journeys throughout London.

“If this dispute cannot be resolved then RMT is more than prepared for a sustained period of industrial action to get London Overground workers the pay rise they deserve.”

London Overground lines receive new names and new colours

Image above: London Overground Picture: TfL

‘Names that celebrate London’s wonderful and varied cultural heritage’

The London Overground is being revamped, giving the six lines which traverse the capital their own individual name and colour. The line which stops at Chiswick’s Gunnersbury station, enroute from Stratford to Richmond has been renamed the ‘Mildmay Line’ to honour the role of the Mildmay Hospital in London’s East End in the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. The line will be given blue branding.

Geoff Coleman, Chief Executive Officer for Mildmay Mission Hospital, said:

“We are deeply honoured that the Mildmay line was chosen as one of the new London Overground lines names in recognition of the work of the dedicated doctors, nurses and support staff at the Mildmay Hospital.

“From its humble origins in the 1860s – serving the poorest people of the East End – to its pivotal role during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s, Mildmay has evolved into an internationally renowned rehab centre, and our dedicated team continues to serve people from across London.

“More than just tracks and stations, the Mildmay line symbolises a journey of acceptance, love, and belonging – a vibrant thread connecting our collective past, present, and future.”

The rebranding has a practical purpose as well as presenting an opportunity to celebrate the history and culture of London. The Overground currently appears as an orange line on the network but dividing the six routes into different colours is intended to make the map easier to read.

Image above: New London Overground Map. Picture TfL

What’s in a name?

The new line names are:

The Lioness line: Euston to Watford Junction. The Lioness line, which runs through Wembley, honours the historic achievements and lasting legacy created by the England women’s football team that continues to inspire and empower the next generation of women and girls in sport. It will be represented as yellow parallel lines on the map.

The Windrush line: Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction/New Cross/Crystal Palace/West Croydon. The Windrush line runs through areas with strong ties to Caribbean communities today, such as Dalston Junction, Peckham Rye and West Croydon and honours the Windrush generation who continue to shape and enrich London’s cultural and social identity today. It will be represented as red parallel lines on the map.

The Weaver line: Liverpool Street to Cheshunt/Enfield Town/Chingford. The Weaver line runs through Liverpool Street, Spitalfields, Bethnal Green and Hackney – areas of London known for their textile trade, shaped over the centuries by diverse migrant communities and individuals. It will be represented as maroon parallel lines on the map.

The Suffragette line: Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside. The Suffragette line celebrates how the working-class movement in the East End, fought for votes for woman and paved the way for women’s rights. The line runs to Barking, home of the longest surviving Suffragette Annie Huggett, who died at 103. It will be represented as green parallel lines on the map.

The Liberty line: Romford to Upminster. The Liberty line celebrates the freedom that is a defining feature of London and references the historical independence of the people of Havering, through which it runs. It will be grey parallel lines on the map.

The Mildmay line: Stratford to Richmond/Clapham Junction. The Mildmay line, which runs through Dalston, honours the small charitable hospital in Shoreditch that has cared for Londoners over many years, notably its pivotal role in the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, which made it the valued and respected place it is for the LGBTQ+ community today. It will be represented as blue parallel lines on the map.

The renaming of the London Overground lines represenets ‘a unique opportunity to honour and celebrate London’s many historic locations and stories in the public realm’ say Transport for London.

London Mayor calls new change “hugely exciting” moment

Hounslow goes for maximum Council Tax increase – so where is the money going?

Image above: Hounslow Council Leader, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

Council faces “perfect storm” of increased demand for essential services and a “broken care system”

Interview with Hounslow Council Leader, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat

The headline from the announcement of your local council’s budget for the year, the thing most people want to know, is how much more will they have to pay in Council Tax. People tend to be less interested in why, but the Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, gave an interview to local journalists to try and explain where the money goes and why they are having to put Council Tax up again this year by the maximum amount.

It was getting harder and harder to set the budget, he said, as they were in the eye of a “perfect storm” of increased demand and a “broken social care system”.

“The blame lies solely on Government. We try and do our best for residents, but Government choices penalise local government.”

The Council has a budget gap of £23.1m, which they say reflects the continuing impact of raised inflation and increased demand for essential services.

A ‘no cuts’ budget

Cllr Rajawat was adamant that his administration would not be cutting services:

“I am determined to deliver on what matters to residents, according to what we promised in our manifesto,” so the only options open to him after they have made what savings they could, he said, were to raise Council Tax and draw money from the reserve.

READ ALSO: Hounslow Council announces ‘no cuts’ budget for 2024-2025

Raising Council Tax – What do residents get for their money?

The Council is raising Council Tax by 4.99%, the maximum permitted, and taking £10.5m from reserves for core expenditure, with proposals for a further net £14.2m of other planned use of reserves for one-off items.

Last year, the Council balanced its budget in February with no budgeted drawing from the budget support reserve to balance its budget, however planned use of reserves of £6.9m from other reserves.

At the end of 2022/23, the Council’s outturn position was £2.9m over that budgeted and this year’s forecasted position is currently £3.9m, which will need to be met through reserves in 2023/24.

What will residents see for all that money they are handing over? (£2,875.90 on a Band B property, including the GLA precept).

Adult social care and special educational needs

The two areas which cost most, which councils have a statutory duty to provide, are adult social care and special educational needs. They account for more than half the council’s spending.

“People ask what they are getting for their money, but unless they are directly involved with using those services, they would not necessarily see what we are doing,” said Cllr Rajawat.

This year the Council has supported 4,100 adults with social care (including full time care in a care home) and 3,000 children and young people with special education needs. Adult Social Care is expected to cost £4.6m in ASC (£6.5m gross less £1.9m specific grants), while £1.0m will be spent on children in care, and £2.3m on the special educational needs budget.

The more visible elements of the Council’s spending are things like street cleaning, rubbish collection, recycling, highways and culture.

Recycling was on the increase, he said, and an area of expansion, an initiative introduced by his administration, was the Community Solutions team, which visits different parts of the borough in the attempt to pre-empt people going into crisis, getting into debt and potentially becoming homeless, by providing them with the opportunity of talking to advisers face to face about what support there might be for people who are struggling, in terms of hardship funds for example.

Looking for longterm solutions

The Council is also trying to address the huge drain on resources created by the inefficiencies in the social care system. When, for example, an elderly person has a fall in a care home or assisted living, where residents live independently but with support, if it is not a nursing home they have to be sent to A&E to be checked over.

There they can stay for days, sometimes weeks, until they are signed off and the social workers have checked their living conditions are fit to return to, even if they have suffered nothing worse than a bruise. ‘Bed-blocking’ in the NHS is a huge problem.

Hounslow works with Chelsea and Westminster Foundation Trust and West London Trust and Primary Care to try and improve things. Recent projects on falls prevention and supporting people with dementia are examples where the partnership is working together to improve services for Hounslow residents. There are other plans in development to explore much needed longer-term options for health and care integration.

Child poverty at 29%

Hounslow is one of the poorer local authority areas, with a child poverty rate of 29% (which I find shocking). The percentage of residents estimated to be earning less than the Living was last year was 19.5%, which depressingly is around the average for London. The borough is ranked 14 out of 32 on the poverty scale of London boroughs – we are slightly worse off than the median.

Yet the Council has just put up social rents – also by the maximum amount permitted, 7.7%, and while many tenants on Universal Credit will have this paid for them automatically, (74% Council tenants), the residents who will be the most squeezed by this budget are the social housing tenants who are working and will have to find the increase in rent and the increase in Council Tax themselves. There are some means tested discounts available.

Many houseowners are similarly looking a double whammy of steep increases in their mortgage payments this year in addition to the increase in Council Tax.

Increasing Council Tax to the maximum went some way to addressing the gap, but the Council still had to borrow from its reserve to maintain the provision of services.

Borrowing from the reserve – How bad is that?

There have been plenty of rumblings about councils going bust, so I asked whether we should be worried about the fact they were having to borrow from the reserve for the second year running.

“Reserves are for rainy days” Cllr Rajawat replied. He had satisfied the executive they had done everything they could to maximise efficiency, including losing a post from the executive board to slim down the management structure. The budget papers outline further savings in the coming year.

“We are very far off having to declare bankruptcy” he said.

The Council received an extra £18m from the government last week as part of the government’s overall Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024-25, in recognition of the huge amount of social need in the borough.

It represents a boost to the budget of 7.6%, a welcome contribution, said Cllr Rajawat, but not enough to meet the financial pressure the government is under.

The Budget will be discussed in Cabinet on Tuesday 20 February and will be set at a full Council meeting on Tuesday 27 February.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

February 2024 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Butter by Asako Yuzuki Fourteen Days by Margaret Atwood, Celeste NG, John Grisham and more, and Come And Get It by Kiley Reid

Butter – Asako Yuzuki

A cult bestseller from Japan, absolutely destined to become a cult bestseller everywhere else, too. Deeply strange, skewed and on occasion really quite disturbing, Butter is nonetheless undeniably beautiful, thought provoking and completely unique.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Centre convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. The case has captured the nation’s imagination but Kajii refuses to speak with the press, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew and Kajii can’t resist writing back.

Rika, the only woman in her news office, works late each night, rarely cooking more than ramen. As the visits unfold between her and the steely Kajii, they are closer to a masterclass in food than journalistic research.

Rika hopes this gastronomic exchange will soften Kajii but it seems that she might be the one changing. With each meal she eats, something is awakening in her body, might she and Kaji have more in common than she once thought? A vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.

Fourteen Days – Margaret Atwood, Celeste NG, John Grisham and more…

What’s better than reading an awesome book by a brilliant author? Reading an awesome book by lots and lots of brilliant authors! This is a collaborative novel, with each character written – apparently in secret – by a whole roster of top flight authors, from thriller experts to horror and science fiction writers to literary heavyweights and all sorts. Is it a gimmick? Absolutely. Does it work really well and make for a fun and interesting read? Oh yes.

One week into lockdown, the tenants of a run-down apartment building in Manhattan have begun to gather on the rooftop each evening and tell stories. With each passing night, more and more neighbours gather, bringing chairs and milk crates and overturned pails. Gradually the tenants – some of whom have barely spoken to each other before now – become real neighbours. A dazzling, heartwarming and ultimately surprising narrative, Fourteen Days is an ode to the power of storytelling and human connection.

Image above: Fourteen Days front cover, some of the authors Margaret Atwood – Dave Eggers – Celeste Ng

Come And Get It – Kiley Reid

The new book from Kiley Reid, author of the ludicrously bestselling Such A Fun Age, which is also pretty great. Witty and biting stuff, and unexpectedly poignant too.

Agatha is a writer, recovering from a break-up while researching attitudes towards weddings and money for her new book. She strikes gold when interviewing the girls in Millie’s dorm, but her plans take a turn when she realises that the best material is unfolding behind closed doors.

As the two women form an unlikely relationship, they soon become embroiled in a world of roommate theatrics, vengeful pranks and illicit intrigue – and are forced to question just how much of themselves they are willing to trade to get what they want. Sharp, intimate and provocative, Come and Get It takes a lens to our money-obsessed society in a tension-filled story about desire, consumption and bad behaviour.

Images above: Come And Get It front cover, author Kiley Reid 

Maggie & Rose Chiswick confirmed to be closed permanently

Image above: Some of Maggie Bolger’s playroom characters

“Sad moment” says founder Maggie Bolger

Maggie & Rose, the innovative west London private members club for families described as a “Soho House for kids”, has confirmed it has closed permanently.

The upmarket club, on the corner of Essex Place outside the large Sainsbury’s, was co-founded by the wife of one of Prince William’s closest friends, Rose Astor, with creative entrepreneur Maggie Bolger.

Parents loved the adventure themed spaces with attractive decorations and imaginative play schemes offering fun for small children whether they were left there while parents worked, or while their parents sat and drank coffee and watched, or took part. Their clients included some well-known families. David Tennant was among the fathers seen popping in with his kids.

Former CEO and founder Maggie Bolger told The Chiswick Calendar how six years ago, having opened branches in branches in Kensington, Chiswick and Hong Kong, they were about to open their first club in mainland China, before the Covid pandemic put paid to its expansion.

“Every club you go into you will know straight away that it’s a Maggie & Rose.”

READ ALSO: Maggie Bolger, CEO & founder, Maggie & Rose, Profile

READ MORE: Maggie & Rose expands to China

Maggie left the company several years ago, before the pandemic. She told The Chiswick Calendar:

“It is a sad moment, quite a few of the old team have been reaching out – it is the end of an era for sure and such a shame as it was an excellent business.

Image above: A playroom inside Maggie & Rose Chiswick

Parents infuriated at closure

Both branches in Kensington and Chiswick have closed, stunning members last week when it send out an email saying it was shutting its doors “temporarily” due to “staffing and operational challenges.”

The email added: “Our members’ safety and experience is our top most priority. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

According to The Standard newspaper, the decision has infuriated members who pay fees starting from £210 a month in Kensington and £140 a month in Chiswick to be able to relax while their children enjoy creative play.

Facilities at the clubs included a cinema snug, reading corner, soft play and baby space, as well as ‘epic class studios’ in Kensington, and a tree house, cooking school, and a “double decker party bus” in Chiswick.

The Kensington club even had a Jackson Pollock room, where children were allowed to splatter paint for fun.

Image above: A party at Chiswick’s branch of Maggie & Rose

“They took my money and closed”

In one Whatsapp group message a mother wrote:

”They just took my money and closed with no explanation of when or if they may reopen again… I have a newborn and a two year-old. Am left with no other option for classes or spend double the amount on a different club.”

The club, which frequently appeared on lists of the most exclusive in London, was founded in 2007 by New Zealand entrepreneur Maggie Bolger and her business partner Rose Astor, who married Prince William’s friend Hugh van Cutsem. Their daughter Grace, was a bridesmaid at the royal wedding in 2011.

Mark Knopfler to release special recording of ‘Going Home’ for charity

Image above: Artwork released for the ‘unprecedented’ track

Recorded at British Grove Studios in Chiswick

Mark Knopfler, the lead guitarist, singer and songwriter of ’70s rock band Dire Straits, has announced the release of a special recording of his iconic track Going Home (theme From the 1983 film Local Hero), to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust and its American counterpart, Teen Cancer America.

The track, scheduled for release on Friday 15 March 2024, and featuring an impressive lineup of over 60 ‘guitar legends’, has been recorded at British Grove Studios in Chiswick.

The project, titled Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Heroes, boasts an ‘unprecedented’ gathering of some of the greatest guitarists in history. Produced by Knopfler’s longtime collaborator Guy Fletcher, the track will feature contributions from luminaries such as Slash, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and many more.

With artwork by Sir Peter Blake, best known for his album cover  for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the release promises to be a landmark moment in rock music history.

Recorded at British Grove Studios inChiswick, the collaboration saw legendary musicians coming together to support the charitable cause.

Mark Knopfler

“What I really want to do, more than anything else, is just to thank each and every one for this sterling response,” said Mark, “I really had no idea that it was going to be like this. It hit Guy and I quite early on that we had to extend this piece somehow, to take in the number of people who joined in.

“Before I knew where I was, Pete Townshend had come into my studio armed with a guitar and an amp. And that first Pete power chord…man, I tell you. We were in that territory, and it was just fantastic. And it went on from there.

“Eric [Clapton] came in, played great, just one tasty lick after another. Then Jeff Beck’s contribution arrived and that was spellbinding. I think what we’ve had is an embarrassment of riches, really. The whole thing was a high point.”

Since Local Hero became such a success, Dire Straits fans were added to the millions charmed by the sweet tale of an American oil executive who turns up in a sleey Scottish village to do a deal to turn it into an oil refinery, only to fall in love with the place.

Mark Knopfler has often performed an arrangement of Going Home as an encore at concerts.

In addition to the music release, Mark has auctioned off items from his personal collection, including a Gibson Les Paul ‘Gold Top’ Standard signed by project contributors, fetching over £403,000 at Christie’s.

One of the guitars earmarked for Teenage Cancer Trust will be auctioned off at a private donor event in Newcastle, coinciding with a Newcastle United match where a portion of the song will be played for fans.

Neofidelity Recordings sold an Ionic Original Disc of the master recording, making a six-figure donation to the charity. The release will be available in various formats, including CD, vinyl, and digital, with proceeds supporting the vital work of Teenage Cancer Trust.

Brentford FC’s finances show “exceptional period” of growth

Image above: Brentford GTech Stadium

Club in strong financial position, but made less profit that its first season in the Premier League

Brentford FC has published its financial results for the year end June 2023. The results show a footballing success story, as the strength of the club’s financial position stands out in comparison with that of some other Premier League clubs facing scrutiny over their financial losses.

The latest financial reports from the club, ending in June 2023, reveal a robustly profitable club. Cliff Crown, Brentford chair, said:

“The 2022/23 season marked an exceptional period of growth for our club.”

Brentford finished in ninth position at the end of its second season in the Premier League, an improvement of four places from the previous campaign and Brentford’s highest post-war league finish.

In March 2023, Ivan Toney became the first Brentford player to earn a cap for England in 84 years when he appeared against Ukraine at Wembley. Brentford B clinched the Premier League Cup following a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers Under-21s in the final of the competition at Gtech Community Stadium, and the club’s transfer record was broken three times across the 2022/23 season.

READ ALSO: Ivan Toney ‘likely’ to leave Brentford in summer

Image above: Ivan Toney

The accounts show a record turnover for the club of £166.5m (turnover in 2022 was £140.9m), driven by broadcasting income. The financial statements for the year under review show a group operating profit before player trading of £4.4m (2022: profit of £25.1m).

The Club said: ‘Profit on player trading is at a similar level to the prior period as the focus was to retain our players and continue to invest. The profit for the year is a mix of player sales and contingent triggers in contracts on sales that were made in prior periods.’

Costs continued to increase significantly in the current year, with investment in the playing squad driving an increase in salary costs. This resulted in the group producing a profit before tax in the year of £9.2m (compared with 2022: £29.9m).

The Gtech Community Stadium was revalued as at 30 June 2023, three years after it was originally opened, resulting in an increase in the asset value of £27.0m.

Club owner Matthew Benham’s total investment in the group on 30 June 2023, comprised of equity and loans, remained at £104.4m (2022: £104.4m). This sum includes £22.8m (2022: £22.8m) of loans specifically in relation to the stadium project.

Cliff Crown said:

“Our journey has been guided by a commitment to teamwork, continuous development and the dedication and unwavering support of our fans, players, staff, directors and our owner, Matthew Benham. I want to thank them all for the part that they have played and continue to play every day.

“These financial results are pleasing but represent a significant decrease in profitability from the first season in the Premier League. Continued growth of all revenue streams is essential if the club is to continue to invest in the playing squad and in our facilities.”

£80m diagnostic facility for West Middlesex Hospital given final approval

Image above: Impression of the new diagnostic centre; via Aecom

State of the art facility will improve cancer and kidney disease treatment

An £80 million diagnostic centre, due to be constructed within the grounds of the West Middlesex University Hospital, has cleared its final administrative hurdle, and the start of construction is expected soon.

The Ambulatory Diagnostic Centre (ADC), a state-of-the-art facility proposed by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, secured planning permission over a year ago, but has been waiting for the approval of its Final Business Case by the North West London Acute Provider Collaborative Board in Common.

With the necessary green light now obtained, construction is expected to start this spring, with a target date for completion by summer 2026. Positioned on the site currently hosting ant MRI and renal unit with drop-off facilities alongside, the five-storey building will offer crucial diagnostic and treatment services in cancer, renal, and imaging fields.

The Trust hopes the centre will ‘mitigate health disparities, bolster patient outcomes, and decentralise care provision’, alleviating pressure on the main hospital’s inpatient services.

New facility will mean twice the number of patients can be seen

It will house an array of diagnostic equipment including four X-Ray machines, seven ultrasound scanners, three MRI, and two CT scanners, alongside 24 dialysis spaces and 18 chemotherapy bays and it will represent a significant expansion of local healthcare capacity. The Trust anticipates a doubling of service capacity through the centre.

This landmark £80 million initiative, hailed as the Trust’s most extensive capital project to date, incorporates a £16.5 million capital grant from NHS England. Designed to accommodate outpatient care and furnish day services, the centre is expected to operate approximately 12 hours daily, six days a week.

Lesley Watts CBE, Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“I’m delighted that this new diagnostic centre at West Middlesex Hospital will bring care closer to home for hundreds of thousands of local residents. Thanks to this investment, we will speed up diagnosis and treatment helping improve outcomes for patients in our community for years to come.”

Meanwhile, the Trust’s official charity, CW+, has began a fundraising campaign targeting £1.5 million in donations to augment the facility’s amenities.

Environmentalist from Chiswick presented with MBE at Windsor Castle

Image above: David Shreeve (centre right) with his family at Windsor

David Shreeve accepts honour awarded in King’s Birthday Honours List

David Shreeve, the environmentalist who lives in Chiswick, has collected the MBE awarded to him in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

As King Charles was recuperating from his hospital treatment, the Prince of Wales stepped in to present David with the award, for his services to the environment in setting up and running the Conservation Foundation, and for his role of environmental advisor to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England.

David is the Conservation Foundation’s co-founder and Director. He established it in 1982 with the late Professor David Bellamy, TV personality, educator and environmental campaigner.

The Foundation has created and managed a large number of programmes, projects and award schemes covering a wide range of environmental issues in association with businesses, the media, prisons, trade associations and official bodies.

Over the years it collected a unique archive of environmental books and publications which was presented to the University of Kent as part of the Foundation’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

David was one of the first to be awarded an honour by the new King, as he was included in King Charles’ Birthday Honours announced last June. He was joined at the ceremony by his wife Jacqui, his daughter Alice-Louise and son Rupert.

David told the Prince how fitting it was to be given the award at Windsor, as a planting organised by him in 1980 of a disease resistant elm led to the launch of the Foundation two years later. The tree continues to thrive.

‘Great British Elms’, which David has co-written with Mark Seddon, will be published by Kew Publishing this autumn.

At the end of their discussion the Prince said how much he had appreciated David’s good wishes for the health of both the Princess of Wales and the King.

Ealing Councillors agree £150m funds to buy housing stock

Image above: New housing units similar to those built in Acton not enough to meet demand

Rising interests rates have exacerbated the homeless crisis in Ealing

Ealing Council’s Cabinet has unanimously approved a £150 million initiative aimed at addressing escalating homelessness within the borough. The worrying surge in homelessness rates is placing an increasing burden on the Council’s resources as more people, including families, seek help with housing.

Rising interest rates have prompted landlords to either sell their properties or hike rental prices, exacerbating the homelessness crisis. At a recent Cabinet meeting, Councillor Shital Manro emphasised the urgent need for decisive action, warning that the burgeoning numbers threatened to strain the Council’s budget beyond what they could sustain. Explaining the situation facing the Council he said:

“The cost of homelessness is massive, for instance, using hotel rooms costs us £4,000 a month plus, that’s £50,000 a year and we are currently using 169.”

The Council’s use of 389 bed and breakfasts as temporary housing incurs monthly expenses of £1,300 per unit, with potential overspending projected to reach £5 million without intervention.

The Council is proposing to buy £150m worth of housing stock. Presenting the acquisition plan to his colleagues, Cllr Manro said that any purchase made by the Council would have to be ‘financially sound’ with revenue from rent covering the costs over time.

The proposed initiative aims to bolster the Council’s housing stock, providing struggling people with access to quality accommodation. Cllr Manro said he and his colleague Cllr Bassam Mahfouz receive emails from distressed families who are ‘being moved from one hotel to another every week with their children’.

He added, “This is not the life we want our residents to live and we have to send them all over the country as well.”

As part of the comprehensive plan, the Council will establish a housing resettlement team tasked with helping people to secure alternative housing options. Council Leader Peter Mason praised the plan, pointing out that it made financial sense and citing the council’s £7.5m purchase of Aspect House which provided 31 housing units the council can now use for people struggling with accommodation.

He said that the Council was well placed to buy up property as grants and money from bodies like the Greater London Authority and dips in foreign speculation in the London housing market meant that homes could be acquired at a ‘deep, deep discount’.