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The first Routemasters entered service with London Transport in February 1956, with the last ones withdrawn from regular service in December 2005.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’.

Chiswick’s Hothouse Cafe owner has drinks licence revoked for employing illegal workers

Image above: The Hothouse Cafe

Cafe likely to close

Samy Amer, the owner of the Hothouse cafe on Chiswick High Road, has lost his licence to sell alcohol. He told The Chiswick Calendar it is now doubtful he will be able to keep the cafe open.

The Home Office asked Hounslow Council to revoke his licence because they had raided the cafe twice, and on both occasions found people working there illegally. They found he was also paying his staff less than the minimum wage. Mr Amer has paid £55,000 in fines following the two raids.

On the first occasion the cafe was raided, in 2019, immigration officers found four women working there illegally. In the second raid, in June 2023, they found an Algerian chef who did not have permission to work in this country. Several of the workers told immigration officers they were being paid £7 an hour. Officers worked out that another was being paid £4.58 an hour.

READ ALSO: The Home Office wants Chiswick Hothouse Cafe’s license revoked for employing illegal workers

Hounslow Council’s Licensing Panel, chaired by Chiswick Riverside councillor Amy Croft (Labour), made the decision to revoke Mr Amer’s licence, saying there had been a significant breach of the licence conditions, which was quite clear and had been repeated.

Cllr Croft told us:

“Although the panel was sympathetic to the effect this will have on the business, it wasn’t able to condone such significant breaches of the law.”

Cllr Joanna Biddolph defends Hothouse owner

The Panel received more than twenty representations from the public supporting Mr Amer, and one representation from his local councillor, Joanna Biddolph. None of his supporters were at the panel to speak up for him in person except Cllr Biddolph, who supported him in his bid for the licence not to be revoked.

The Home Office put forward three immigration officers to argue for the licence to be revoked. They said not only had Mr Amer employed workers illegally and paid them illegally on two occasions, but he had been “aggressive” when they questioned him and his staff. Senior immigration officer Jamie Foster said:

“The licence holder became very hostile. He was marching around, raising his voice, filming officers on his phone. I would have expected him to act in a professional manner.”

Cllr Biddolph said that while she could not condone Mr Amer’s behaviour as outlined by the Home Office officers:

“I find him honest with me. He is adamant that the report is inaccurate.”

Mr Amer said he had checked documents and denied paying his staff illegally.

Speaking about the difficulties faced by businesses in the hospitality industry post Covid, Cllr Biddolph was sympathetic to Mr Amer’s situation, saying:

“In desperate times people make desperate decisions.”

Mr Foster said:

“There needs to be some remedy for wrongdoing, and a clear message sent to other businesses.

“The ability to work illegally is a key driver of immigration. It encourages people to take risks and negatively impacts on wages in this country.”

“If I had been fined £40,000 and had to mortgage my house to pay the fine, I think I’d have made very sure it didn’t happen again” – Cllr Daanish Saeed

Mr Amer’s lawyer Jon Payne wanted the panel to renew his licence with conditions. The first condition he suggested was that Me Amer should carry out proper checks on whether potential staff had the right to work, which senior Home Office immigration officer Jamie Foster pointed out he should have been doing anyway, by law.

Another suggested condition was that Mr Amer should have a secure place to store copies of paperwork proving his staff’s right to work.

Mr Payne told the panel Mr Amer had checked his staff had the right paperwork but he had not had a sufficient system in place for making checks and record keeping, but after being fined twice, 40,000 for the first offence and £15,000 for the second, he now had.

Cllr Daanish Saeed asked why he had not put a proper system in place after the first fine:

“If I had been fined £40,000 and had to mortgage my house to pay the fine, I think I’d have made very sure it didn’t happen again”, she said.

Mr Amer could not explain why he did not have a copy of the French passport he claimed he was shown by the Algerian chef. He also claimed to be paying a living wage.

Cllr Croft asked why he had not produced any payslips dated earlier than December 2023, ie. after he found out the Home Office had applied to review his licence:

“I’m sure your solicitor would have advised you to produce payslips from the relevant period”, she said.

Again, Mr Amer failed to give the panel a convincing answer.

The three councillors on the panel were Cllr Amy Croft, Chair, (Chiswick Riverside), Cllr Daanish Saeed (Hounslow East) and Cllr Richard Foote (Hanworth Village). The panel met on Tuesday 6 February. MrAmer has the right to appeal the decision within 21 days.

Sam’s Larder in Chiswick to reopen as a Sam’s Kitchen in March

Image above: Sam’s Kitchen in Hammersmith

Not closing, just re-branding

Chiswick is getting a Sam’s Kitchen. Owner Sam Harrison, who has the Sam’s Riverside restaurant in Hammersmith and Sam’s Waterside in Brentford, is expanding his brand with Sam’s Larder deli-groceries and Sam’s Kitchens.

Brentford has a Sam’s Larder to accompany the recently opened Waterside restaurant. Hammersmith has a Kitchen and a Larder, to accompany the highly successful Riverside restaurant.

Chiswick has had a Larder in Turnham Green Terrace for over a year, but it has been closed since Christmas, much to the alarm of local residents. It is being given a makeover and will be reopening as a Kitchen in March.

Images above: Brunch is served

“We served breakfast and brunch for ten years at Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and so it feels right be doing this offering again”

Sam told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I am very excited to be bringing Sam’s Kitchen to Turnham Green Terrace,” Sam told The Chiswick Calendar.

“Our first Sam’s Kitchen opened in Hammersmith last June and has been very well received. I think our regulars like our twist on breakfast/ brunch classics and knowing that we use the same quality of produce as at Sam’s Riverside.

“We served breakfast and brunch for ten years at Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and so it feels right be doing this offering again. Also going out for brunch is my favourite treat of the week!”

The food business in Chiswick is very competitive, with several high-end grocers and many cafes. Several people have commented to The Chiswick Calendar that they didn’t feel he had got the offer right with Sam’s Larder in Chiswick and, clearly, Sam felt the same himself.

Sam’s Larder offered some food to eat on the premises, but with all the shelving and fridges selling produce, there was not much room for tables. Having ditched all the groceries and containers, the space is quite big.

“Hammersmith has 24 seats. This will have twice as many.”

Even though Chiswick has so many cafes, Sam’s will be a cut above, by the sound of it:

“There are so many places you can get coffee and a pastry, but restaurants is what we do”, says Sam.

Looking at the menu in Sam’s Kitchen in Hammersmith we can expect some really tempting and different takes on brunch. The website explains the vision:

‘For the longest time I have wanted to find the perfect little local corner cafe. Somewhere you can pop in with friends and family or just hide away in a little nook with a good book, a fresh cup of coffee and some terrific food.‍ Sam’s Kitchen is just that place.

‘With a variety of hot drinks, freshly squeezed juices, breakfast, brunch and lunch. Taking inspiration from my time working in Australia, we will be serving breakfast dishes carefully developed by our head chef at Sam’s Riverside. Think crab crumpets, bacon & egg muffin, as well as Sam’s Granola with coconut yoghurt & seasonal fruit, and so much more.’

Roll on March.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

ArtsEd graduate Leo Woodall has huge success with new Netflix series One Day

Image above: Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in One Day; photograph Ludovic Robert / Netflix

Leo Woodall (White Lotus) and Ambika Mod (This Is Going to Hurt) play Dexter and Emma

In the world of television and drama all eyes are on One Day, the adaptation of David Nicholls’ best-selling novel, which started streaming in the UK on Thursday (8 February) on Netflix as a 14 episode series.

The book, and then the 2011 film of the book starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, have been huge hits, partly because the format of the romantic drama breaks with the usual format and instead of the cliches, revisits the relationship as snapshots of their lives on the same day – St Swithin’s Day, 15 July – as they grow older.

The Netflix series has Leo Woodall as Dexter Mayhew and Ambika Mod as Emma Morley, the two students who first meet at Edinburgh University, become good friends and eventually fall in love over a decade later.

The character Dexter has a good start in life, coming from a wealthy background, but his path once he leaves university is not easy, and those who have already watched the new series have expressed their shock at the devastating plot twists he has to negotiate.

The actor playing the part, on the other hand, has seen a meteoric rise since he graduated from ArtsEd’s drama school in 2019. Leo Goodall’s breakthrough part was in the season of White Lotus set in Sicily, where he played the part of Jack, a working class British lad who helps his non-biological uncle Quentin (Tom Hollander) plan a murder.

“We are very excited to see Leo Woodall cast as Dexter Mayhew” said Kim Vithana, Director of the School of Acting at ArtsEd.

“His success is reflective of his hard work and how the BA Acting Course prepares our students for a professional career in the performing arts.”

Image above: ArtsEd graduate Stevie Doc; photograph ITV pictures

Musical theatre graduate Stevie Doc wins Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream

The Musical Theatre school has also had some recent successes. Esme Bowdler and Stevie Doc emerged as finalists in the flagship ITV programme, Mamma Mia! I Have A Dream, which Stevie went on to win, with Esme as runner up.

The eight-part series, which aired on ITV in the autumn, sought to find next generation of musical theatre stars to play the roles of Sophie and Sky in the London production of MAMMA MIA! Filming involved ‘boot camp’ on a Greek island, and the competition ended with a live final broadcast from a theatre in the West End.

Stevie won the role of Sophie and Tobias Turley won the role of Sky.

Scarlet Grace (Day school and Sixth form class of 2021) lands role in Disney + short film The Shepherd

Not to be outshone by the graduate schools, the Day school and Sixth form are also celebrating the success of their graduate Scarlet Grace, who landed a part in the Disney+ short film The Shepherd, from the book by Frederick Forsyth. Scarlet plays one of the main characters, Sally.

On Christmas Eve 1957, a young RAF pilot flying home across the North Sea finds himself in peril when his radio and electric power cut out, leaving him stranded and running out of fuel. Just when it appears his luck is about to run out, a mysterious good Samaritan appears through the fog.

The 39 minute film stars John Travolta, with Ben Radcliffe as Freddie Hook.

Images above: Leo Woodall; Scarlet Grace; Stevie Doc

Orchid festival opens at Kew Gardens

Image above: The orchid festival at Kew Gardens, in the Princess of Wales Conservatory

Featuring the orchids of Madagascar

The annual orchid festival has opened at the Princess of Wales Conservatory in Kew Gardens, this year featuring the orchids of Madagascar. The flowers are always gorgeous, that’s a given, but this year the fun creations of lemurs and chameleons out of dried plant matter in amongst the tropical plants and the Malagasy music give it a fun festival atmosphere.

The organisers choose a different country each year to feature, and while the focus is on the island of Madagascar, there are orchids from all over the world on display, divided into temperate and tropical zones.

The association between Madagascar and the botanical gardens at Kew is as old as the gardens themselves. The plants grown mainly in tropical forests, but others can be found in semi-desert regions, near the seashore and in the tundra. Madagascar has both tropical forest and desert areas and as such has many different species.

The models include a particular type of moth which pollinates orchids, which is remarkable for its four foot proboscis. The models were designed by Solene Dequiret, who supervises the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The music accompanying the display is by the Malagasy band the Boriza Brothers.

There is also a mock-up of a botanists’ camp. Madagascar is home to one of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ research site, situated in the country’s capital, Antananarivo. At the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre, a team of 60 Malagasy scientists, students and support staff work with collaborators, local partners, and communities to safeguard rare plant species.

Their work also helps to protect grasslands, to improve livelihoods, and conserve wild yams to increase food security.

‘This crucial outpost plays an important role in enabling us to expand and share our knowledge and build capacity in-country to aid global efforts to protect and restore biodiversity’ say Kew’s scientists.

Display Conservatories Manager Tom Pickering told us orchids grow on every continent except Antarctica and plants range in size from the size of a fingernail to the size of a bus. Most of the orchids they bring in for the display are cultivated in Holland.

The display will be deconstructed on Sunday 3 March and the plants sold to volunteers and staff.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

Image above: Hounslow House, headquarters of Hounslow Council

No cuts ‘despite Tory economic mismanagement over the last 14 years’

Hounslow Council has released proposals for its 2024/25 Budget.

The Labour Council says it has managed to continue to ‘support hard pressed residents and protects front line services, despite Tory economic mismanagement over the last 14 years.’

Promoting this budget as a ‘No cuts budget’, Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat said:

“I’m proud to announce that we will be proposing no cuts to services in our Budget proposals, to ensure we can continue to deliver a real difference to residents’ lives and outcomes.”

This may not sound like much of an achievement, but he is attempting to balance this year’s budget at a time when councils across the political spectrum and of varying levels of financial stability have increasingly been speaking openly about nearing effective bankruptcy. The Labour council of Barking and Dagenham is in debt to the tune of £1bn. Conservative Woking council effectively went bust last summer with debts of £1.2bn.

‘Tory Government managed decline has brought public services to crisis point, with a wave of damage being caused by an absent Government unwilling to reform and invest in key policies such as health, social care, asylum and housing’ say Hounslow.

‘Local Government has been hit the hardest and Councils across the UK are facing challenging financial times as funding goes down and demand for vital services goes up. However, despite these challenges, your Labour-run Hounslow Council has proposed an ambitious and responsible budget which continues to deliver on your aspirations for a better and more prosperous future for all residents and businesses in Hounslow.’

The Council has made housing its priority, and has built hundreds of energy efficient new houses over the past year.

It has a statuary obligation to provide for social care needs and special education needs. The Council says it has supported 4,100 adults with social care needs and 3,000 children and young people with special education needs.

It says it has also planted more than 8,000 trees, recycled the household waste of 103,000 households, set up Community and Family hubs, to deliver services closer to home for residents, and provided £1.2 million in funding for community and voluntary groups.

Council Tax up by 4.99%

In order to continue delivering services, the proposals the Leader is putting forward to Cabinet to sign off include increasing Council Tax by 4.99% – 2% ringfenced for social care:

‘a critical investment to help meet the rising costs and demand for these services whilst supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society’.

Image above: Council Tax breakdown by band

Cllr Rajawat said:

“After 14 years of Tory Government, there is no doubt to us all that our public services have been decimated and it is our local services that have been bearing the brunt.

“Despite these challenges, our Labour administration here in Hounslow have ensured a balanced budget year after year, but also worked hard to protect our residents who rely on public services from the worst of the ravages of Tory decline.

“Whether it be our Council Tax Support Scheme which aims to provide 100% support to those most vulnerable in the borough, our support for the poorest families across Hounslow during the school holidays, our Cost of Living workshops or our Warm Homes initiative, we are a Council which is here for you, thinking outside of the box in order to help you and strengthen our services in the face of Tory mismanagement.

“Raising council tax is never an easy decision, however the sad fact is that Government funding has been reducing over the last 14 years whilst demand and costs have increased. Inflation is still rampant and outpaces any income from Council Tax meaning that we have to continue thinking about how best to offer the services you rely on whilst delivering value for money.

“Due to the funding situation, many Councils are finding themselves unable to offer vital services. Hounslow Labour has very carefully managed your money over the years and as a result is able to protect front line services at a time when they are needed the most.

“This is why I’m proud to announce that we will be proposing no cuts to services in our Budget proposals, to ensure we can continue to deliver a real difference to residents’ lives and outcomes.”

The Budget proposals will go to Hounslow Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 20 February, before being debated by Full Council on Tuesday 27 February when Hounslow Council’s Budget for 2024/25 will be set.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

De La Soul latest band to be announced for Pub in the Park Chiswick

Tickets now on sale – second release

Tickets are now on sale again for Pub in the Park Chiswick, taking place in the gardens of Chiswick House from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 June. It’s a pretty good line-up: De La Soul are playing on Friday night; Scouting for Girls and Busted on Saturday and Jules Holland on Sunday. It may be the festival’s best line-up yet.

De La Soul – Friday night

De La Soul will be bringing their eclectic sampling, eccentric lyrics, and contributions to jazz rap and alternative hip hop to the party on Friday 28 June.

The band packed out Manchester’s Albert Hall last summer and operated ‘at a level of high octane energy and enthusiasm that acts half their age struggle to maintain’, according to the Manchester Evening News’s Kristofer Thomas.

This summer it will be 35 years since their landmark album 3 Feet High and Rising was unleashed. Those of us old enough to remember are already sold, but last year a whole new generation was introduced to the hip hop legends when their whole back catalogue finally appeared on streaming services.

The reviewer from the Manchester paper reckoned the ‘sincere joy and exuberance that the group carries in both its music and its stage presence that brings tonight closer to a bouncing gospel party than a concert’.

I think Chiswick will be up for that.

Scouting for Girls – Saturday afternoon

The West London band Scouting for Girls will be playing on Saturday afternoon. Since they were formed in 2005 the three piece indie pop band, who have known each other since primary school, have notched up eight top 40 singles, sold over four million records in the UK and received over one billion global streams. They have been nominated for four Brit Awards and one Ivor Novello Award.

They became successful when their 2007 self-titled debut went on to become triple platinum and created the generation-bridging anthems of She’s So Lovely,  Elvis Ain’t Dead and Heartbeat. They have never looked back. Scouting For Girls went on to release Everybody Wants To Be On TV (2010), The Light Between Us (2012), Still Thinking About You (2015), The Trouble With Boys (2019) plus the mega number 1 hit single This Ain’t A Love Song.

They are one of those bands where you find you know the words, whether you realised it or not.

Busted – Saturday night

Busted reunited and announced their ’20th Anniversary’ tour last year and released their ‘Greatest Hits 2.0’ album. They are now back touring, having spilt up and come back together,  spent time working as solo artists in between

Busted bounced into the charts with the irrepressible pop-punk energy of their debut single What I Go To School For. It kickstarted a succession of hits for the trio, including the #1 smashes Crashed The Wedding, Who’s David, Thunderbirds Are Go, You Said No and the Top 3 singles Year 3000, Air Hostess and Sleeping With The Light On.

They will be playing Pub in teh Park Chiswick on the Saturday night.

Jules Holland – Lazy Sunday

Jules Holland and his Rythm & Blues Orchestra will outlast them all. He’s played more New Years Eve Hootenannys than the others have had hot breakfasts.

Jools is constantly touring. He was awarded an OBE in 2003 for his services to the British music industry. From playing pubs in the East End docks as a teenage greaser, to leading his rhythm and blues orchestra and selling millions of records this century, it is his passion for music that has made him such a master and so much liked an revered within the British music industry.

The ‘About Jools’ section of his website says: ‘He is married with four children and lives in a world of his own’ !

On the food front …

On the food front we are looking at celebrity chefs Tom Kerridge, Andi Oliver, Simon Rimmer, Big Has, Gennaro Contaldo, Emily Scott, Tom & Robert Aikens, Jeremy Chan, Mursal Saiq and Josh Moroney.

They promise: ‘Our carefully curated line-up of award-winning and Michelin-starred eateries will make your festival feasting dreams come true.’

Book tickets:  pubintheparkuk.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Police focus on the High Rd after spike in robberies and an assault at Boots

Image above: Captured on camera – thieves assault the security guard in Boots on Chiswick High Rd

Boots branch suffers thefts on almost a daily basis

Boots in Chiswick High Rd is receiving extra support from the police, having recently seen a spike in brazen robberies, with thousands of pounds worth of products stolen.

Last Monday (5 February) violent thieves punched a security guard at the high street chemist so hard that his glasses broke, his dentures fell out and his arm was cut open.

READ ALSO: Violent thieves punch and threaten security guard in Chiswick Boots

This theft and assault follows a robbery at the store at the end of January where two young men emptied the contents of shelves into bags, singing as they did so, with one of them looking unconcernedly into the camera as a shopper videoed him on their phone.

Last weekend the shop was robbed on Friday 2, Sunday 5 and Monday 5, with thousands of pounds’ worth of merchandise taken. Now there are two PCSOs – PCSO Randles and PCSO Andrade making frequent visits to the shop whenever they are on duty.

The offender who assaulted the security guard has been identified by a Surrey Police Officer who saw the incident on social media, The Chiswick Calendar has learned, and they have been linked to similar offences in Richmond & Twickenham.

“The Officer investigating has circulated them as being ‘Wanted’, and it will only be a matter of time before they are arrested” Sergeant Jim Cope, responsible for neighbouthood policing in Chiswick, told us.

His team focused on the High Road on Saturday (10 February) and one person was arrested from Tesco’s for a large theft of alcohol. They were charged an remanded to appear at Court on Monday morning.

We also passed on the video which was sent to us of the earlier robber in Boots. Sergeant Cope’s comment on the offender clearly identified in that video was:

“We are fully aware of this offender and working towards identifying them.. hopefully will not take long.”

 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Lifeboat crew join search for Clapham chemical attack suspect

Image above: CCTV image of Abdul Ezedi

Two ‘unexpected’ bodies found in search

Chiswick’s RNLI’s Lifeboat station is taking part in the extensive search for Abdul Ezedi, the 35-year-old Clapham chemical attack suspect believed to have gone into the River Thames at Chelsea Bridge. The lifeboat crew, alongside multiple vessels from the Marine Policing Unit, have been searching the river foreshore downstream from where he is believed to have jumped in.

Ezedi has been subject to a nationwide manhunt after he was seen assaulting a woman and two children with a toxic substance. Investigations revealed that Ezedi was last seen on CCTV footage on 31 January, four hours after the reported attack, as he approached Chelsea Bridge. Despite exhaustive efforts, his whereabouts remain unknown.

Two ‘unexpected’ bodies have been found in separate locations during the search, one near HMS Belfast, adjacent to Tower Bridge, and another in the Limehouse area of east London. Neither of these bodies has been identified as Ezedi.

The emergency services face quite a challenge, as the swift currents at this time of the year raise the possibility that Ezedi’s remains may never be recovered, if they are snagged on the riverbed.

Ezedi, a convicted sex offender who sought asylum in the UK after fleeing Afghanistan and converting to Christianity, had a prior relationship with the woman he allegedly attacked in Clapham the previous month.

While she continues to receive treatment in hospital, there are fears that she may permanently lose vision in one eye, though the children involved are expected to fully recover from their physical injuries.

Last seen footage of Ezedi was on Chelsea Bridge

The Met’s Commander Jon Savell said:

“We have looked at all of the available cameras and angles, and with the assistance of Transport for London and CCTV from buses that were travelling over the bridge at the relevant time, and there is no sighting of him coming off the bridge.”

Detective Superintendent Rick Sewart added:

“When he got to the area of Chelsea Bridge, his behaviour visibly appeared to change in so much as he walked up and down the bridge, he pauses in the mid-point of the bridge, and he walks sort of to and from the side of the bridge and can be seen to lean over the railings before there is a loss of sight.”

Ivan Toney ‘likely’ to leave Brentford in summer

Image above: Ivan Toney

Fee of £75m rumoured for Brentford’s top striker

Brentford FC’s head coach Thomas Frank has confirmed that striker Ivan Toney is likely to leave Brentford in the summer.

Speaking to Danish media outlet Tipsbladet, Frank said Toney’s contract situation has left the club with little choice regarding the top striker’s future.

“He’ll only have a year left on contract with us, so it’s quite obvious”.

Toney has been the subject of interest from London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, though Frank said no bids arrived for the striker in January.

“This winter, we actually had no bids for him”, Frank said of Toney, who has scored two goals in three games since returning from an eight-month ban for gambling offences.

Speaking to Match of the Day, Toney was questioned on whether he would spend the next six months as a time to prove himself useful to Brentford. He said:

“I see that as he [Thomas Frank] doesn’t want me. Nah, the manager’s said what he’s said. Listen, I can’t make clubs come and get me but I just gotta keep doing what I do and that’s score goals, and, like I said, what will be will be.”

A fee for Toney of around £75m has been reported by several media outlets, but as he is open about his desire to leave and just one year left on his contract, Brentford may have to negotiate on their asking price.

Flying Under the Radar – autobiography by Tony Inwood

Images above: Tony Inwood and his biography ‘Flying Under the Radar’

Children need love and affection, and the consequences can be devastating if they don’t receive it

Reading Tony Inwood’s biography Flying Under the Radar brings to mind the Philip Larkin poem This be the verse, which starts with the famous first lines:

‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

‘They may not mean to, but they do.’

An apposite poem, not only because of its sentiments but because Tony also turned to writing poetry to express him feelings, having had rough start in life because of his parents.

Tony and his partner Simon Rodway are well known in Chiswick. They have lived here more than thirty years, have lots of friends and play an important part of the life of Christ Church on Turnham Green. Tony is also known to many people in Chiswick for his gardening and decorating skills, having worked at both for many years.

Those years have been happy and settled, but it was not always so, as he recounts with honesty and clarity. Both parents had mental health problems and both went on to suffer what used to be called  a ‘nervous breakdown,’ his father also attempting suicide.

Life on a small family farm was tough going in the 1950s. They did not have friends, so there was no social life to speak of. During Tony’s first six years there wasn’t much on offer in the way of affection from his parents and the relationship between them was increasingly strained, his childhood overshadowed by tension and rows.

When he was six his mother left, taking Tony and his two brothers with her, but she soon found she could not cope on her own and arranged for them to be taken into care. What followed was a succession of care arrangements – fostering, a period in an assessment centre and eight years in a children’s home, meanwhile changing school eight times.

Craving love, he clearly found it difficult to fit in to foster homes, resenting the love the foster parents gave their own children:

“What I wanted … was an unrealistic kind of inclusion into the family unit, but far more powerfully, I was subconsciously crying out for physical warmth and affection. I now regard the lack of this as the most destructive force in my early life.”

School holidays were always a problem. There was always a negotiation about where the boys would go.

“Each time the end of term drew near I used to dread the upheaval of having to try and sort out with the staff and the children’s department where exactly I was going to stay that particular holiday … I felt like a useless piece of luggage that had to be deposited somewhere for six weeks.”

Both parents vied for their children’s attention, visiting at unscheduled and unhelpful hours, messing up their relationships with their foster families so in the end they were not able to continue fostering the children. In accounts from social workers Tony’s parents come across as seeing the world only from the perspective of how they are affected – not how their behaviour might have an impact on their children.

When he left school, with no sense of purpose or self-worth, he drifted into living in hippy squats and taking drugs. The way in which he was chucked out of local authority care to fend for himself as an adult, with no help or support, was brutal.

Fortunately for Tony, Simon Rodway had been a Child Care Officer who had worked at Caldecott Community Children’s Home. He had known Tony and one of his brothers since they were children. Colin found the transition to the adult world easier and managed to set himself up with work and a social life, while Tony appeared to be spiralling.

The account is very matter of fact, but it is quite clear that Simon rescued Tony. He took him in to his flat in Shepherd’s Bush, giving him a home and over time their relationship has grown into a mutual friendship, and partnership.

That is one relationship which ‘saved’ Tony. The other was his relationship with God, whom he also credits with helping him find happiness and tranquility.

To those who have stability and love growing up, it’s something which is a given, which they take for granted – and should be able to. But Tony’s biography spells out just how devastating the consequences can be for children whose childhood lacks love.

Flying under the Radar: A Story of Hope and Healing is available from Amazon, and from Bookcase at 268 Chiswick High Road.

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Brentford 1 Manchester City 3

De Bruyne lines up an attacking triangle with hat-trick-scoring Foden on the left and newly returned Haarland

Third season: City bounce back

Great, scintillating football for the first 45 minutes, with a splendid goal and every hope that the Bees could pull three much-needed points from what has developed into a troublesome second half of the season. But, as all Brentford faithful supporters know, one shouldn’t count their points before the final whistle, and even then it’s worth double-checking in case the opposition scored once or twice when we aren’t looking.

The opening of the game, once the Bees realised they were not playing the big bad wolf, just one of the best sides in the game, saw the Gtech scratch-eleven responding with gumption and do-or-die energy, preferably that of the ‘do’ variety. It was a pleasure to watch therm.

Facing one of the favourites to win the Premier League championship – Manchester’s most powerful side and Liverpool are currently jostling for leadership at the top of the table – Brentford were too frequently knocked out of their stride. But soon Ivan Toney and Neal Maupay hunting deep in a City defence that gave every impression they were having a stroll in the park spoiled, looked capable of seizing one or two of the chances on offer, while Mark Flekken hit a form we didn’t know he possessed and, indeed, had criticised lack of on various occasions.

It was difficult to count how many times Flekken saved from the raiding parties of Erling Haaland, Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden – more of him later – but around 21 minutes in, Flekken, presumably deciding to take matters into his own hands, thumped a long, well-aimed goal-kick up-field.

Toney saw it coming and so did two City rearguard defenders, but Toney’s muscle won the contest and the ball raced on at the feet of Maupay, who judged perfectly the rush from his goalmouth of Ederson and slotted past him a shot that clipped the inside of a post on its way and into the net.

Celebrating his fifth goal in as many games, Maupay, became engulfed by his team-mates. City look as if there must have been a mistake, but the home supporters’ gleeful chorus of ‘There’s one only one Mark Flekken’ proved it was real.

Maupay attempts to repeat his audacious run at goal

Brentford rode the wave of success until the minutes added by referee Jerrad Gillett, were running out, by which time City had shaken themselves back into shape and Flekken made what retrospectively seems his first error. De Bruyne sent a polished 40-yard ball that was only part cleared by Ethan Pinnock and Foden pounced to equalise for the visitors.

It was that man again – only 23 years old but of special maturity – who made space to guide his header past Flekken and, as it turned out, settle the game. And it was this remarkable player who popped up after seventy minutes to evade the attentions of Pinnock and other defenders before turning what had been a fine first-half for Flekken became very much a so-so one for the second.

Bees attack in added time sees Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ederson race out to clear the ball

Overall, Flekken produced the best performance seen from him since the season’s opener. He can be proud of his afternoon’s work, especially the meticulous assist he supplied with the superkick that allowed Maupay to get among the goals again with a panache that might keep quiet the hyper-critics among his own supporters.

Toney was not quite the force we have seen since remerging from his suspension – two of the chances that came his way also came to nothing, a special shame as the fierce volley that sailed over Ederson’s bar would have given the final score a healthier respectability.

Of the others running themselves into the ground, Mikkel Damsgaard, a substitute sent on with fifteen minutes to go, impressed once again in midfield – long may he continue to do so.

They are still smarting from the injuries that have seen the Bees slip to fifteenth in the table, I observed to my mate Charlie. When will they get a rest?

‘Not next week,’ said Charlie. ‘That’s when we play away to Wolves, who’ve beaten us twice and drawn the other game so far this season.’

And next? ‘Liverpool,’ he said.

Brentford: Flekken; Roerslev, Collins, Pinnock, Mee, Reguilón (substitute Ajer 79); Jensen (Damsgaard 76), Nørgaard, Janelt (Yarmoliuk 76); Maupay (Baptiste 90), Toney.

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodrig\o, Alvarez; Bernardo (Doku 71); Foden; De Bruyne, Haaland (Kovacic 86).

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

Bill, who lives in Chiswick and is a former Fleet Street editor, 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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Mrs Joshi retires after forty years at Strand on the Green Post Office

Image above: Strand on the Green Post Office; image Google streetview

Postmistress has seen off robbers and weathered the pandemic

Strand on the Green postmistress Mrs Daksha Joshi BEM has retired, after forty years running the sub-post office next to the primary school. It is unclear whether the shop will reopen as a Post Office under new management.

The popular postmistress, originally from Gujarat, moved to the UK from India in 1980 with her husband Dilip and son, Milan, who was then aged two. They found Strand on the Green School while looking for a primary school for him, and noticed the post office next to it was up for sale.

Dilip died in 1990, whcn Milan was just 12, and Mrs Joshi was left to run the post office by herself. She is fortunate not to have fallen victim to the faulty accounting software, Horizon, but she was robbed, twice.

On one of those occasions she witnessed a robber put a gun to her customer’s head. She considered giving the post office up, but was persuaded not to by members of the local community, who had also been very supportive also when her husband died.

She kept the post office open as long as she could during Covid, finally closing it in April 2020. Her son Milan published a notice saying:

‘Last week I think her post office was the only post office open in the whole of West London. As a result she was extremely busy and she stayed open long after the official closing time in order to help all customers. Unfortunately this has taken a toll on her health. She needs to be very careful given her underlying condition.’

It is ill health which has finally forced her to retire.

Mrs Joshi was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2013, after being nominated by Robert Colvill, former Chairman of the Strand on the Green Association, and Julia Korner. She was included in the New Years Honours List of 2013 and given her medal by Sir David Brewer, then Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.

The Strand on the Green Association (SoGA) have released the following statement:

“Many of you will already know the sad news that Mrs Joshi has had to retire from the Post Office at the end of January, due to extreme ill health.  Strand on the Green Association has sent some flowers to Mrs Joshi, before the end of January.

“This was on behalf of all our community, as a ‘thank you’ for all the many services and kindnesses she has given to our community over so many years. Several members have expressed the wish to give Mrs Joshi something more permanent as a thank you for the extraordinary service she has given, over such a long time.

Anyone wanting to contribute is asked to contact Julia Korner (julia@juliakorner.com) and John Giles (johngiles746@gmail.com) and make their donations by Sunday 18 February.

Another fundraiser from local residents

Local resident Ruth Gandhi has also organised a collection page with the aim of raising enough money to buy a bench, with a plaque, to go outside the Post Office ‘and perhaps a local picture of Strand on the Green’.

Man charged with attempted murder after two people stabbed in Ealing

Image above: Met Police; library image

Man charged after two people in their 70s found with stab injuries

A man has been charged with attempted murder after two people were injured in a stabbing in Ealing.

The Metropolitan Police were called at 8.14am on Wednesday (7 February) to reports of a man with a knife in Gordon Road.

Officers responded and found a man and a woman in their 70s with stab injuries. They were taken to hospital where their injuries were assessed as not life-threatening.

A 31-year-old man was arrested at the scene.

Following an investigation, Reece McLean, 31 (19.12.92), of Gordon Road, was charged on Friday, 9 February with two counts of attempted murder, one count of wounding with intent and one count of possession of a knife.

He appeared at Ealing Magistrates’ Court on Friday (9 February).

Man wanted for indecent exposure in Chiswick

Image above: Police picture of location of incident

Man wanted for 5 February incident

Police are investigating an incident of indecent exposure in Chiswick. It took place in the alleyway that runs alongside the A4 and the end of Oxford Road South/ beginning of Chiswick Village.

In a police appeal they say:

“We are investigating a male who exposed himself in an alleyway in Chiswick at 08.10hrs on 05/02/2024.

“He’s described as a white male, late 20s, wearing glasses, a black cap, black jacket, blue hoodie and black trousers. If you can help please call 101. CAD 1405/05FEB24 refers.”

Flood alert issued for Chiswick Mall and Strand on the Green

Image above: Previous flooding in Chiswick Mall

Environment Agency warns that flooding is possible in Chiswick Mall and Strand on the Green

An Environment Agency alert has been issued to two areas in Chiswick. Due to torrential rain overnight, Chiswick Mall and Strand on the Green have been highlighted as two areas where flooding is possible.

The Environment Agency statement reads:

“We believe there is a possibility of flooding for Putney Embankment,  Chiswick Mall and Strand on the Green, Thames Bank at Mortlake, Ranelagh Drive, Friars Lane and Water Lane, Riverside and The Embankment at Twickenham, and the Towpath below Teddington Lock.”

Image above: Flood alert for South West London. Image: Environment Agency

Weather is due to improve this weekend and it is predicted to be dry with temperatures to reach 12 degrees celsius.

For more information on flood alerts and what to do in an event of a flood: Environment Agency.