Tube drivers call off April and May strikes

Strikes on London Underground called off

Planned strikes by Tube drivers in April and May have been called off. Tube drivers were are members of the Aslef union were due to walk out on Monday 8 April and Saturday 4 May over the proposed changes to working practices which they say would have had detrimental effects.

The union announced this afternoon (Thursday 4 April) that after a series of meetings involving the conciliation service Acas, its negotiating team has received a proposal that resolves the key issues in the dispute.

An official said: “Management have confirmed that they have disbanded their ‘Trains Modernisation’ team and will not be implementing their plans to change drivers’ working arrangements without agreement.

“They have also agreed to reinstate annual refresher training stopped during the pandemic.”

Prior to the Acas talks, members of Aslef working for London Underground had voted by more than 98 per cent in favour of strike action on a turnout of over 70 per cent.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s London district organiser for London Underground, said: “I’m very pleased. It’s always better to deal with issues through talking and discussion.”

Image above: South Western train at Chiswick Station

Strikes on National Rail lines to go ahead

Strikes planned by Aslef drivers on National Rail services will still go ahead. South Western Railway has warned commuters in west London to plan accordingly.

The strikes, part of a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, will take place on 4 April – 6 April and 8 – 9 April and will mean service changes across the entire SWR network.

There will be no service at all on the Hounslow Loop line on Monday 8 April, meaning that stations including Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth will be closed.

READ ALSO: South Western Railway issues warning ahead of rail strikes

The industrial action affecting South Western Railway also affects other rail companies on different days:

For updates see the National Rail website: Travel information

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Brentford 0, Brighton & Hove Albion 0

One for the camera: Yarmoluik attempts to squeeze through the Brighton ranks

Third Season: Clean sheets times two

At the end of a gruelling match, when neither side managed to establish superiority, Thomas Frank was to observe, wisely, ‘If you can’t win, don’t lose.’ Those fans travelling from the Sussex coast in the hope of a positive result for their favourites appeared not to agree with the home chief coach’s sanguine view. Excitement was high on their menu and go hang the cost, which was not exactly dish of the day for the Bees.

‘Boring, Brentford’ chanted the visiting fans, and in case anyone missed the subsequent message, they continued to broadcast their mantra: ‘Boring Brentford’.

Those more interested in obtaining a point or several in order to obtain Premier League points and a more respectable position in the League table took no notice.

The travelling Brightonians – known also as Seagulls to their loyal following – were especially keen on obtaining a three-point victory, especially as the six-match absence of their star striker, João Pedro, had had been responsible for goals being rarer than picking the winner on the Derby.

Sad for them, but Brazilian Pedro failed to deliver on the goal-glut promise the supporters hoped for. Neither did Ivan Toney or any of his team-mates come to that. But ‘boring’? What the two needy sides delivered was some cerebral football, often thoughtful but never snooze-worthy humdrum unfit for the prime competitive standard expected across the football rainbow.

25-year-old Janelt closely marks 34-year-old Lallana

These adversaries were both in need of points, Brighton having lost five away games in a row in all areas of the game and Brentford failing to win since early February when beating Wolverhampton Wanderers, a revenge result of sorts following a draw and two defeats in a recent close cluster of games.

Early exchanges suggested that goal famines were not to be the order of the day and when Yoane Wissa despatched a fierce shot that whizzed into Bart Verbruggen’s net – on the wrong side, it transpired – and, later, the prodigal Pedro was denied only by Mark Flekken’s remarkable save, the famine was tottering.

And tottering it remained, although Brighton’s enthusiasm in demanding a penalty when Wissa appeared to shove Seagull’s captain Lewis Dunk to the ground seemed to be conclusive to the VAR. However, referee Andrew Madley earned points – well, someone had to! – by establishing Wissa had himself been fouled and no further action was necessary. Good call, Mr Madley.

Brighton’s game of attrition, always creeping, but sometimes breaking, towards goal

The second half was one of missed chances, with Verbruggen and Flekken mopping up anything that didn’t find its way into the stand behinds the goals or taking off towards for the stars. Even Toney was somewhat out of sorts, failing to capitalise on being reunited with his partner in the old firm, Bryan Mbeumo, when he replaced Wissa towards the end (no criticism, Yoane, you played well).

To suggest the most interesting event of the the latter stages of the game was Toney deciding to change his boots on the side of the pitch would be flippant, so I won’t do so. Perfectly legit, certainly, and it was in that it didn’t change his luck.

Toney readies a back kick

Six matches left of the season, with several first-team absentees still on the injury list, means the going might be tough – dangerously so unless the Bees can get back to winning ways.

One point from a game isn’t enough, I observed to my mate Charlie as we trooped from the Gtech Stadium. Still, let’s remember Thomas’s view.

‘I have one of my own,’ said a dour Charlie. ‘When we can’t win, don’t play!’

Fresh legs, Regulión and Onyeka arrive to back up Toney

Brentford: Flekken; Zanka, Ajer, Collins; Roerslev (substitute Maupay 96m), Janelt, Jensen (sub Onyeka 86), Yarmoliuk (sub Damsgaard 64); Lewis-Potter (sub Reguilón 73), Wissa (sub Mbeumo 73), Toney.

Brighton and Home Albion: Verbruggen; Veltman (substitute Moderat 86 minutes), van Hecke, Dunk, does Santos de Paulo; Groß, Baleba; Buonanotte (sub Welbeck 73), Lallana (sub Enciso 64), Adingra (sub Enciso 64); João Pedro.

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

South Western Railway issues warning ahead of rail strikes

Image above: A SWR train at Chiswick Station; photograph George Westwood

Strikes 4-6 April and 8-9 April

South Western Railway has warned commuters to plan ahead as train drivers belonging to the Aslef union are about to implement another round of strike action.

The strikes, part of a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, will take place on 4 April – 6 April and 8 – 9 April and will mean service changes across the entire SWR network.

There will be no service at all on the Hounslow Loop line on Monday 8 April, meaning that stations including Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth will be closed.

A significantly reduced service from Feltham will call at Putney and Wandsworth Town. Wimbledon will be served by trains out of Woking.

On Thursday 4, Friday 5, Saturday 6 and Tuesday 9 April there will be a revised timetable will be in place due to a ban on overtime working, subject to short-notice alterations and cancellations.

Trains will only run between:

Basingstoke and Salisbury – London Waterloo and Basingstoke – London Waterloo and Feltham – London Waterloo and Guildford via Woking – London Waterloo and Woking.

Trains that are running will only do so between 7am and 7pm. There will be no services outside of these times.

There are no strikes planned for Sunday 7 April but there will be engineering work taking place.

Image above: Aslef General Secretary Mick Whelan

No sign of end to dispute

Aslef’s General Secretary Mick Whelan said:

“Our members voted overwhelmingly – yet again – for strike action.

“Those votes show – yet again – a clear rejection by train drivers of the ridiculous offer put to us in April last year by the Rail Delivery Group which knew that offer would be rejected because a land grab for all the terms & conditions we have negotiated over the years would never be accepted by our members.”

Steve Tyler, South Western Railway’s Performance and Planning Director, said:

“Industrial action by the ASLEF union will mean only a significantly reduced service will run on Monday 8 April, so we are asking our customers to only travel if their journeys are absolutely necessary. For essential journeys, customers should check journey planners before setting off.

“The overtime ban on Thursday 4, Friday 5, Saturday 6 and Tuesday 9 April will mean that timetables will be revised. We are asking our customers to check before they travel, right up until they set off, as alterations on the day are possible.

“We are very sorry for the disruption that this industrial action will cause our customers and are very thankful for their continued patience.”

Brentford 1, Manchester United 1

Image: Brentford FC

Third Season: New dawn?

A new dawn has broken, has it not? Okay, Tony Blair said it first after the Labour Party’s general election victory of 1997, but it can be argued that Brentford’s magnificent performance against Man United was equally for the record books, and that despite only one goal being scored by the home side and one point – precious that it was – rewarded for their evening’s work, those who were present will never forget the occasion.

The Bees quite simply dismantled a famous side whose last game had been a 4-3 Cup win over Liverpool. Statistics in this game, collated by the BBC, revealed such as 31 shots for Brentford against 11 for MU. And 84 touches in the opposition box to a mere 15 for United?

What about corners, do I hear you ask? Fourteen racked up by the Bees, four by the visitors – if this had been a stats contest in a boxing ring, the referee would have stopped the fight.

The Gtech Stadium, scene of bitter disappointment all too frequently of late following a collection of first-team injuries, saw hundreds of supporters linger post-match to applaud the players on their lap of honour.

Every one of the starting side and substitutes deserved the accolade, but it would be wrong not to mention one who was – pardon me, if this is fanciful – more equal than others. Ivan Toney, of course, captain in the continued absence of regular skipper Christian Nørgaard, was a commanding presence in every way other than scoring a goal, a patent lapse that irritated him towards the end.

Following the new lightshow for evening games – very nice, thank you – United started as they presumably planned to continue, with a shot that went, wide, although probably not as wide as those in the Bees’ technical area would have wished.

Then Toney returned the favour before forcing a cluster of consecutive Brentford corners, six when last counted, and Yoane Wissa provided a gem of a pass that Toney failed to convert. Like a frisky dog, causing the visiting defence no end of problems, Wissa was less successful when trying to replicate his athletic goal of recent memory, sending the ball to somewhere in the crowd.

Image: Brentford FC

In the meantime, United were trying to knit together enough passes to penetrate the Bees’ defence and then despatched a free kick from only just inside their own half that Mark Flekken dealt with capably. But as the first half drew to a close, it was extraordinary that Brentford had not managed to find the net, rather than the surrounding area and four times the woodwork that unkindly did not allow the ball to rebound in the right direction.

United perked up somewhat in the second period, but not a lot. Certainly nothing to worry Flekken unduly, other than several opportunities that came to nothing when a well-placed striker sent the ball in the direction of Wissa’s earlier effort.

Wissa was not deterred, although really should have been when charging into the penalty area and seeking that elusive goal when Toney, as solitary as Greta (‘I want to be alone’) Garbo, was better placed and as ravenous as a pack of wolves.

No slight on Wissa, but the Brentford supporters welcomed Bryan Mbeumo, substituted in place of Wissa to resume his double act with Toney (one of those bullets that hit the crossbar was Bryan’s. And there was momentary joy in the crowd when Toney did score, but the polite expectation of the captain and his team as they awaited the VAR verdict signified, correctly, that he had strayed offside.

The last frantic nine added minutes contained stuff movies are made of. First, Mason Mount, returning from a period of injury, showed his team-mates how it should be done by scoring a fine goal about which Flekken could do nothing. Dismay all round, but then, three minutes later, Toney ‘s pinpoint cross into the box found Christian Ajer, who seized a gap in front of him to snatch the equaliser.

What’s the way forward? I asked my mate Charlie. Surely Thomas Frank will have a plan for everything to work out?

‘Heads up and keep going? suggested Charlie. ‘Is it not?’

Brentford: Flekken; Zanka, Ajer, Collins; Roerslev (substitute Maupay 96m), Jensen, Janelt, Yarmoliuk (sub Damsgaard 71), Lewis-Potter (sub Ghoddos 87); Toney, Wissa (sub Mbeumo 71).

Manchester United: Onana; Dalot, Lindelöf (sub Martinez 69), Varane (Maguire 45), Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Mainoo (sub Casemiro 59); Garnacho (sub Anthony 59), Bruno Fernandes, Rashford (sub Mount 80); Hoøjlund.

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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Arts & Crafts at the Chiswick Flower Market, Sunday 7 April

Image above: Suzette Llewellyn at the flower market in Chiswick; photograph Anna Kunst

Art, pottery, jewellery, hats, scarves and accessories … and of course, flowers

Suzette Llewellyn, pictured above at the February flower market, is holding an Arts & Craft market as an extension of the Chiswick Flower Market this Sunday (7 April).

The actress, who lives in Chiswick, has her hands full, as she is currently also rehearsing for a new play. She has been talking to makers of all sorts – jewellery, ceramics, furniture, art, and hopes that the market will become a regular fixture.

The Chiswick Flower Market’s licence allows them more space for stallholders than they use for flower and plant stalls. They would like to use it to promote other community ventures in Chiswick, director Ollie Saunders told The Chiswick Calendar.

While the flower market takes up the space in Old Market Place, outside the row of shops from Linden Gardens to Devonshire Rd, the Art and Crafts market will continue eastwards along the south side of Chiswick High Rd.

Images above: Max Rademacher hats

Max the hatter

I spoke to Suzette while she was still putting her list of stallholders together, but one she can be sure of is her husband Max Rademacher, who makes hats. Based at the artists community on Johnsons Island in Brentford, he makes fabulous concoctions to be worn on the head. Does that make him a hatter or a milliner? I asked him.

“I’m a hatter. I make hats by steaming and blocking felt. I might embellish it by adding bits to it, like a bit of gold leaf, but I am a hatter. Millinery – think Ascot.”

It is more difficult than you might think to become a hatter, he told me.

“I looked at all the fashion schools. None of them could teach me how to prepare the felt. Someone who used to work at Stetson gave me eight hours’ tuition. The actual felting and blocking isn’t rocket science, but nobody will tell you how to stiffen the fabric.”

He has ruined quite a lot of fabric trying to learn, he told me.

Images above: Max Rademacher; Steaming in the studio – photograph Douglas Kurn

Max discovered hats by trying to stand out as a performer. He is the musician Maxim Rad, with several albums to his name.

“I wore a massive black Russian fur hat for an album cover. I liked the drama of it and realised it really worked, people noticed you.”

He quickly found that by April or May his statement headwear was too hot to wear, so he switched to wearing Hasidic hats decorated with African fabrics, though sitting at Heathrow as a planeload of Hasidic Jews disembarked, he quietly slipped off his hat in case it caused offence.

Images above: Max in his studio at Johnsons Island; A piece of his wearable art

“People asked me where I got them. I decided the only way to service demand was to learn how to make them.”

Since Brexit and Covid has made touring with a band so difficult, he has recently concentrated more on hat making than music making. He will be bringing some hats on Sunday, and some “wearable art – too arty to be saleable!”

Sarah Dickinson – paintings

Another of Suzette’s stallholders will be Sarah Dickison, an artist based in Barnes, who paints flowers and landscapes in vibrant colours. A graduate of Camberwell College of the arts, she says her regular walks in Rishmond Park with her dog give her inspiration.

The place to browse and buy anything from cards to vegan beauty products

Other traders will include Bespoke Diva, who make unique greeting cards, illustrations and giftware; Flamingo Arts Emporium providing tropical, colourful themes from Johanne Narayan; Albertha’s Garden with natural beauty products; Vicki Cooke art; Joel Sydenham art; Michelle Hawes art; Alice Brookes art; Sophia Bloxham art; Lori Shaul ceramics; Sarah Lelli jewellery; Lelia Sylvester vegan balms; Sarah McBain shawls scarves, accessories and cotton dresses.

The Chiswick Flower Market will be bursting into life with spring plants and flowers from 9am on Sunday 7 April.

Images above: Cards by Bespoke Diva

Images above: Flamingo Arts Emporium; Albertha’s Garden; Vicki Cooke art

Images above: Artists Joel Sydenham; Michelle Hawes; Alice Brookes 

Images above: Sophia Bloxham art; Lori Shaul ceramics; Sarah Lelli jewellery; Lelia Sylvester vegan balms

Images above: Sarah McBain bag, dress and shawl

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Sculpture at the Brewery – 12 April – 10 May

A collection of work by ceramic artists and sculptors

The Chiswick Calendar is pleased to present the work of nine local 3D artists, ceramicists and sculptors, at the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery from Friday 12 April – Friday 10 May.

The Brewery has a room in their shop – the ‘Tun room’, built to look like the inside of a huge barrel or mash, which is just the job for a small art exhibition of ceramics and sculpture. Asahi, which owns the brewery, sponsors The Chiswick Calendar.

Here are the artists taking part:

Images above: Dancer jumping (bronze resin); Macquette for a fountain; Bronze figure of Poppy; Antonia Young

Antonia Young

Antonia specialises in figurative sculptures. Many of her figures are originally made in clay or wax, and then cast in bronze or bronze resin, although some terracotta figures are fired in the kiln. Her pots are “mainly designed to be useful as well as satisfying to look at and handle”.

She will be showing one of her fountains at the exhibition at the brewery – she particularly enjoys designing and making figures suitable to be made into fountains, bird baths “or just to be situated near water.”

She will also be showing one of her friend Henrietta Parsons’ paintings alongside her work.

Images above: Work by Cristina Lorenzet

Cristina Lorenzet

Cristina has come to sculpture relatively late in life, having started it as a hobby in 2010 and then studied it at City Lit adult education college in Holborn. She works in ceramics to make sculpture inspired by architecture and the landscape.

Having grown up in Italy, in countryside not far from Venice, she finds the industrial landscape of London endlessly fascinating. Her work is defined by the use of discarded objects used to texture the clay and to inform her choices of colour and surface decoration.

Images above: Danillo Cooper working on a portrait bust

Danillo Cooper

Danillo is only just getting used to the idea of describing himself as an ‘artist’, as he has only recently taken up sculpture. He has made the two sculptures he will be showing, having never worked on portraits before.

Danillo first stuck one handful of clay to another just last June under the tutelage of Paul Wuensche. After working with artists for over 30 years he is aiming to make something  that can be shared, shown and appreciated by his friends and family.

Images above: Swan (ceramic); Contemplation (bronze resin); Resilience (bronze resin); Gillian Brett

Gillian Brett

Gillian Brett creates extraordinary, expressive sculptures, working from life.

“I’m on a mission to encourage people to enjoy sculpture in their own environments,” she says. “To be challenged, through sculpture, to notice and see life in a different light, in particular body language and emotions, celebrating diversity, ultimately to connect with a sense of shared humanity.”

Choosing to retrain as a sculptor in 2014 at the Art Academy London, Gillian’s distinctively textured work aims to be a celebration of what it is to be human.

Images above: Porcelain cylindrical vessels; Fruit bowl; Spun porcelain bowl; Gioilla Zordan

Gioilla Zordan

Gioilla graduated in Ceramic Design at Central St.Martins, and specialises in slip-casting, hand building and throwing using porcelain.

“I design and make ornamental and functional objects for modern interiors, glazed, decorated or buffed and fired to 1240C.”

She is one of a group of artists based at Redlees studios in Isleworth, who lives in Chiswick and sells her pieces during Open Studios and Ceramic Fairs. She organises an annual ceramics fair in Chiswick, with Sylvie Joly.

Images above: Spring Circuit 2 , Birch plywood & enamel paint; Transit – Plywood & enamel paint; Magenta Peg; Kit Line

Kit Line

Kit is interested in “the transformative process involved in sculpting, exploring the shift between one thing and another while trying to pay attention to the material’s inherent qualities or form.

“I often use found or discarded material as a starting point. For many of my steel sculptures I’ve collected parts from the foreshore in Hammersmith. Recent wall pieces are made using derelict plywood the more useless it appears for its original purpose the more it promotes the desire for its reclamation.”

Images above: Crab with London Pride bottle cap; Mad blue and white flower necklace; Marsh Wader; all made from materials mudlarked from the shore of the River Thames; Madeleinve Marsh

Madeleine Marsh

Madeleine is a maker of unique jewellery and sculpture made from the things she finds mudlarking on the shore of the River Thames at Hammersmith and Chiswick, which she describes as “Madlarking”.

She was educated at the Lycee Francais de Londres and at Trinity College Cambridge, ‘where she prepared for her future career by dressing up in vintage clothes and shopping for antiques in Cambridge market’.

She then took a diploma in the fine and decorative arts and set up her own company Provenance, researching paintings and antiques for an international clientele of dealers, collectors and auction houses.

Her particular interests include vintage fashion and women’s history, and she has written several books on the subject and taken part in numerous television programmes about it.

Roz Wallis

Roz set up Chiswickpots in 2014.

“Chiswickpots has grown organically from a hobby to a business and is now a working artists studio / pottery school in the beautiful leafy riverside location of Dukes Meadows in Chiswick.”

She makes her trademark moon jars at the Pavilion studios there and teaches ceramics for Chiswick Art School. She uses Raku firing to get some of the spectacular effects on her pots.

Images above: Ruku fired pots and beer cups; Sylvie Joly

Sylvie Joly

Sylvie also uses Raku firing to get the crackled effects on her pots. For the exhibition at the brewery she will be bringing her set of beer cups.

Sylvie Joly is interested in the relationship between form and surface and uses the properties of various glazes and clay bodies for decorative effect. She is influenced by traditional Japanese and Korean ceramics. She wants her pots to bring joy to the eye and hand of the user and very much hopes that her pots get used, rather than sleep on a safe shelf.

Exhibition dates

What: Exhibition of ceramics and sculptures, most of which will be for sale

Where: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery, 160 Chiswick Lane South, Chiswick, London W4 2QB

When: Friday 12 April – Friday 10 May

Come to the launch event on Sunday 14 April, between 1 and 4pm.

Many of these artists are also members of Artists At Home and will be showing their work at the Open Studios over the weekend of 14-16 June.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Watermans closure “the only viable option” for Hounslow Arts Trust, says Ruth Cadbury

Image above: Watermans arts centre, Brentford; graphic design John Angerson

Decision made to stop pouring money into a black hole

The announcement in March that Watermans arts centre in Brentford was to close this month has shocked local residents, some of whom had been going there for forty years.

READ ALSO: Watermans arts centre in Brentford closes

The riverside venue in Brentford has served the population of west London for decades with live theatre, dance and music, a cinema and restaurant, and a gallery for contemporary art shows, but a combination of rising running costs and falling revenue have meant it has recently been running at a substantial loss.

Hounslow Arts Trust, which runs Watermans, has opted to carry on providing community arts events at several locations in the borough, including outdoor events at Bell Square in Hounslow town centre, rather than pouring money into the bottomless black hole of the riverside building, while they wait to hear what is happening with the redevelopment plans which were meant to deliver a transfer to a new arts centre.

Image above: Adam Shailes, President of the Chamber of Commerce in Brentford, who runs the Red Routemaster company

Anger at meeting about lack of consultation

At a meeting on Thursday (28 March) on Watermans organised by Brentford Friends Facebook page, there were angry criticisms of LB Hounslow and the trust which runs Watermans for not consulting the public about it.

Adam Shailes, the President of the Chamber of Commerce in Brentford, who runs the Red Routemaster company, said:

“We will fight hard against the closure now. We will relaunch Watermans as a Brentford community asset and we will hold those at local council level and officer level accountable for their actions to damage our town if they do not help us to achieve this and reverse this very ill-thought-out decision.”

He asked why the public should trust the council when they say the opening of the new planned arts centre is still going ahead.

“We can’t wait eight or ten years for a new facility and even then the spirit of Watermans will have been totally and utterly lost,” he said.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP

“It is very sad. I’ve been going there since I used to take my children when they were small, 20 years ago” – Ruth Cadbury MP

Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury was at the meeting. Ruth has been the MP for the area for three terms and before that was a Hounslow councillor for nearly 30 years, representing wards in Brentford where she lives for 17 years.

She was for a period a member of the Hounslow Arts Trust, and she has spoken to the director of Watermans Jan Lennox and other current trustees about the decision.

She spoke to The Chiswick Calendar about her thoughts and feelings on the closure of Watermans.

“It is very sad” she told us. “I’ve been going there since I used to take my children when they were small, 20 years ago.”

Explaining the background to the decision, she said that as part of the development of Brentford town centre there is supposed to be a mixed development on two sites – the current Watermans site and the old police station site – by developer London Green.

Image above: Albany Riverside development CGI; London Green

The Watermans site is set to become a residential only development, ‘Albany Riverside’, with 193 flats in five blocks with views over the river and towards Kew Gardens.

The old police station site is due to be redeveloped as a mix of affordable housing and a new arts centre with a larger theatre, two cinemas with a gallery for film festivals, and space for a café/restaurant.

Image above: Old police station redevelopment CHI; London Green

It is not a case of a sharp developer getting one over on the Council, she said, going ahead with the more lucrative project while ditching the less profitable one. The riverside development is very much contingent on the building of the new arts centre:

“The riverside part of the development can’t go ahead until the Hounslow arts centre has reopened in its new site. But planning permission was granted before construction costs went through the roof.”

The project was discussed at last November’s Cabinet meeting, where concerns about inflation, increased material costs, supply chain and labour shortages were discussed, and it was red flagged as a project whose future was in doubt.

READ ALSO: Future of Watermans arts centre uncertain

“The economic situation has changed drastically” – Cllr Tom Bruce

Cllr Tom Bruce

Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, told The Chiswick Calendar then:

“The economic situation has changed drastically: increases in material and labour costs, and rises in inflation, interest rates and land values have made delivery much harder…

“The council and the trust have been working very hard with the owner of the old police station to bring forward a viable scheme, and while I cannot give a time frame, our aim is still to have a new arts centre building delivered in conjunction with new homes.

“I remain optimistic that this will happen.”

Image above: Watermans

New arts centre now on hold indefinitely

Because of the change in the property market, which no one foresaw, says Ruth, the project is now on hold indefinitely.

“Nobody’s said the development won’t go ahead” she says, but the question is, how long will it be before it does?

Too long, the Hounslow Arts Trust decided, for them to carry on haemorrhaging money while they wait.

“If you look at the Companies House records for Hounslow Arts Trust, they were operating at something like a £400,000 loss in 2022-23. Their big bills went from something like £49,000 to £125,000.

“Going into Covid they were financially vibrant. Ticket sales provided over 75% their income. Grants from Hounslow and national grants were less than 25%. Since then, grants have flatlined, bills have shot up and ticket sales have decreased, so the costs outweigh their income.”

Keeping the building open “unsustainable” but possible ‘Meanwhile’ use on the cards

Hounslow Arts Trust has provided live music, theatre, dance, films and art exhibitions at Watermans, but it also provides community arts events in the more deprived areas of the borough where there is low engagement with the arts otherwise.

They have opted to carry on providing those events, saving money by not paying for the building, until such time as they can open in new premises.

“If they can stay solvent, they can keep that community stuff going” said Ruth. “It’s the only way to keep Hounslow Arts Trust solvent and delivering arts to the community.

“What’s deeply sad is that Watermans has to close.”

At the public meeting organised by the Brentford Friends Facebook group, people were discussing the idea of exploring a ‘Meanwhile’ use for the arts.

“I believe the Council is not averse to that idea”, said Ruth. “It’s a possibility.”

But anyone who tries to use it meanwhile will soon discover the enormous costs associated with keeping it heated and lit, a building whose roof leaks and which is gently crumbling into the river.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Jeremy Vine wins April Fool crown with very convincing bird attack video

Image above: Jeremy Vine

Fans and detractors taken in

I was all set to report this as a news story until I thought, ‘hang on a minute, what date is it?’

Broadcaster and journalist Jeremy Vine regularly posts videos of his daily early morning commute from Chiswick into central London, documenting near misses as careless drivers fail to give cyclists adequate space. He uses an Insta360 camera to get good 360 degree footage around his bike. On Monday 1 April he posted this on X (Twitter):

‘This is incredible footage’

It took a while for social media users to catch on as his detractors weighed in with unflattering comments praising the bird, and wildlife enthusiasts tried to identify what kind of hawk it was.

Fellow presenter and political commentator Matthew Stadlen, who is also the author of How To See Birds, wrote:

‘This is incredible footage. It’s definitely not a Red Kite and doesn’t look like a Sparrowhawk. Too big for a Kestrel and wrong colouring. Looks like a Buzzard to me. Didn’t know we had them in Hyde Park’ before he too realised the date and cottoned on.

When his gullibility was pointed out, he remarked:

‘Ah. An April Fool. This is the greatest blow Twitter has ever delivered to me.’

Toeprints required to enter EU countries

Jeremy Vine was not the only broadcaster and journalist to hoodwink their followers successfully. Simon Calder, the travel expert who shares his travel advice on Instagram and TikTok, got people going with his claim that European Union countries would require toeprints as well as facial biomentrics from October 2024.

We fell for the bendy bananas and Turkey joining the EU, so why not toe prints as a border crossing requirement?

‘BREAKING Best foot forward: Brits urged to wear flip-flops or sandals for Euro passport checks from Oct 2024. When the Entry Exit System begins, UK travellers to the EU will have to give toe prints + facial biometrics. Aim is to swerve legal cases over right to take fingerprints,’ wrote Simon.

‘So what happens in winter when women are often wearing tights?? And who will wear flip-flops in freezing temperatures?? Such nonsense,’ wrote Fiona Mann.

‘Note to self, book pedicure!’ wrote Rachelle

‘Almost believable it’s so so Brexit’ – Simon Edmonds

‘Will it help the British who have a pied-à-terre in France?’ asked John Hughes

‘More EU toetalitarianism’ – @woodgnomology

Good to see a bit of harmless fun on X for a change, in amongst all the racism and porn adverts.

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Mary West – one of Chiswick’s up and coming artists

Image above: Mary West at her studio in Grove Park

Painting furiously to meet a constant stream of commissions for galleries and online clients

“For the past couple of years things have been going really well” says Mary West, with an endearing hint of surprise in her voice.

She is a classically trained artist, who grew up in Chiswick, went to Chiswick School and went on to study art at the Slade school of art in London. For those who remember them, she was inspired by art teachers David Kereszteny-Lewis and Gaye Deveney and photography teacher John Miller.

After four years at the Slade, Mary painted while teaching at Orchard School House, not really making a living out of her art until she teamed up with another artist, Clara Wilkinson, to make murals.

Living Wall Murals provide ‘bespoke interiors and exteriors’, such as this one they painted for the Green Man Lane estate in Ealing:

Image above: Living Wall Murals creation for the Green Man Lane estate in Ealing

Instagram success

There are quite a few houses in Chiswick which boast Living Wall Murals. Clara now runs the business on her own as Mary has found she has become too busy with her own studio work to do both.

When we spoke, she was involved in a new show at the Saatchi Gallery – The Way of All Flesh – and was about to take part in a show at Cromwell Place in South Kensington curated by Devina Barber and Laura Lopes – Elsewhere.

Image above: ‘The Light Between’; Mary West

She credits her success to Instagram.

“Instagram has totally changed the art world”, she says. “It’s less cliquey, and it enables artists to swap ideas.

“I had an artist from Nova Scotia contact me to say they were interested in my practice. I have a lot of artists who follow me, and I find it a warm, generous and supportive place to share ideas. You find your people.

“I am not a natural salesperson and I find it has allowed me to get my work out.”

Mary has recently had work in a gallery in Miami, the Rosenbaum Contemporary gallery, who contacted her through Instagram.

“I put up pieces a couple of times a week”

Her studio, off the kitchen of her flat in Grove Park, is evidence of how prolific she is, with the latest paintings stacked around the walls ready to go off to the next gallery. She has a partnership with the Online Gallery, which gives her a regular stream of commissions. She is also preparing for the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead in May.

 

Image above: Paintings in Mary’s studio in Grove Park

“I do love a drip”

Mary paints every day and finds the river a great inspiration. Her paintings are mainly abstract landscapes.

“I use a wash of oil on the canvas.”

The colours change with the seasons.

“I use Prussian Blue and Burnt Umber for the wintry ones. I paint quickly and intuitively. I just start to put marks on the canvas and the images start to paint themselves.”

She quotes Frank Auerbach, still painting in his 90s.

“His paintings always surprise him, he says. That’s exactly how I feel.”

Images above: Promotion for Mary’s recent shows

The question I always have is how artists know when a painting is finished.

“I have to be careful about stopping” she says, otherwise it just turns into a muddy mess! I’ve got better at knowing when to stop. I know when it’s finished because I’ve stopped fixating on one particular area and see it as a whole.”

Many of her paintings have drips in them. “I do love a drip” she says, laughing. “I think it’s exciting that the paint goes where it wants to. I enjoyed teaching little children at Orchard House because they were so uninhibited.”

She has had a client recently who commissioned a painting, but asked rather hesitantly if there could be no drips.

“I totally get that people think it could have been done by a five-year-old when there are drips,” she says, totally unconcerned.

People in Chiswick will be able to see Mary’s work on display this summer in the neighbourhood, as part of Artists At Home open studios, 14 – 16 June.

Mary shares a studio with Celia Martine Pickering, whose work is currently on show at the Clayton hotel Chiswick as part of The Chiswick Calendar’s own art exhibition.

READ ALSO: The Chiswick Calendar’s Spring art exhibition

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Oxford rower blames toxic river for defeat in Boat Race

Image above: The Oxford men’s rowers during Saturday’s race; theboatrace.org

E Coli outbreak among Oxford team left several rowers “throwing up”

A rower on the Oxford team which lost the Boat Race on Saturday (30 March) has complained about “poo in the water” and claimed sickness caused by an outbreak of E Coli played a part in their defeat.

Research carried out a week before the race began found potentially lethal levels of E coli bacteria along the course on the River Thames.

Guidance was issued to racers to not enter the water, cover bruises and open wounds and to thoroughly wash themselves down at the end of the race.

Despite health warnings the historic race went ahead, and both the men’s and women’s races were won by the University of Cambridge on Saturday afternoon (30 March).

Afterwards, the University of Oxford’s Leonard Jenkins told the BBC his team:

“had a few guys go down pretty badly with E. coli, this morning, I was throwing up, I was not sure there would be a chance for me to be in the boat”.

He added: “But I kept that quiet and that is on my shoulders. I’m not sure if it was the right choice because I don’t feel I had much to give.

“It would be a lot nicer if there wasn’t as much poo in the water.

“It’s not to take away from Cambridge, as we may not have beaten them even if we were all on top form.”

Images above: New York Times covered sewage in the Thames this weekend, Sewage spotted in the Thames near Strand-on-the-Green in Chiswick

News of River Thames pollution reaches international audiences

The Boat Race has focused international attention on the pollution of the River Thames. Outlets such as Fox News, CNN and the New York Times covered the build up to the race, highlighting the problem of sewage. Thursday’s New York Times read:

“The warning is stern: Do not enter the water. Not because of the tide. Not because of sharks. Because of the sewage.”

CBS talked about London’s “sewage-infused” Thames.

Oxford’s coach Sean Bowden called pollution in the river a “national disgrace”.

Campaigning group River Action said its testing suggested the source of pollution is from Thames Water discharging sewage directly into the river and its tributaries.

READ ALSO: Potentially lethal levels of E coli found in River Thames ahead of Boat Race

It said this was based on publicly available data which showed that the water company had discharged sewage into the Greater London area of the River Thames for 1,914 hours from the start of 2024 up to 26 March.

Images above: Women’s Boat Race crew on a sludge brown river on Saturday

Team-mates reluctant to blame Oxford loss on E Coli

Mr Jenkins’ team-mate Will Denegri was more reluctant to blame team illnesses and water conditions for their loss.

He said: “This week we’ve had three people who have had to miss sessions because they’ve had stomach bugs, essentially.

“Whether that’s related to E. coli in the river I don’t know, but it’s certainly not helped our campaign, and it’s a poor excuse.

“It’s not an excuse, but it definitely hasn’t helped our preparation.”

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Colours of Siena review – debut novel by Chiswick author Judith May Evans

Images above: Judith May Evans; Colours of Siena

A tale of love and adventure set in the medieval landscape of Tuscany

I’m having a bit of a run of medieval history novels at the moment, as I am going to Carcassonne at the end of this month and am just getting in the right frame of mind by reading Kate Mosse’s books The Burning Chambers and The City of Tears, set against the backdrop of the religious wars in the Languedoc region of France.

Like Kate Mosse’s award-winning best-sellers, Judith May Evans’s book Colours of Siena brings to life the atmosphere of medieval Europe. Her focus is Tuscany and the vibrant artistic life of Siena. Her story is also a family saga, told through the narrative of a young woman seeking to break out of the conventional constraints of the time, and I think it deserves to be as successful.

Clara desperately wants to be a painter, at a time when women were not allowed to paint. As a servant in the household of a merchant rich enough to commission paintings for the family chapel, she comes into contact with artists, who were Tuscany’s medieval equivalent of rock stars.

But medieval Siena was a dangerous place, with the rivalries of the noble households spilling over into fighting in the streets, the ever present threat of war with Florence and the indiscriminating pestilence which devastated medieval Europe, the Black Death, and Clara’s life follows a succession of twists and turns as she is banished from the city she grew up in to the country village of Monteciano, not knowing if her path will ever again cross that of Ambrogio, the artist with whom she has fallen in love.

Image above: Siena at sunset; photograph by Antonio Cinotti

Colours of Siena is a really good read – a page-turner as you follow Clara’s fortunes, but also evocative of the time. Well researched enough to reference the sights and smells of Siena, the notable figures and the main events, but wearing its scholarship lightly.

So many books about the period get bogged down in descriptions of the gruesome methods of torture used in those days, which I find a bit hard going. Judith avoids all that, providing a gentler read.

Judith lived in Chiswick for thirty years, working at a high level in the corporate world, before she left that world and took herself off to Tuscany to learn Italian and write books. She was member of a Chiswick NCT group whose children attended Strand on the Green and Chiswick Schools and she was a church warden of St Michael’s Elmwood Road.

When the company she worked for was sold, she saw an advert for a writing course in Tuscany, based in the village of Monticiano and the historic city of Siena. It was love at first sight. She learned Italian, made the village her writing home for the next sixteen years and still visits regularly.

Images above: The Tuscan village of Monteciano 

“I bought a house in Italy in 2003,” she says, “and thought to write a book to bring visitors to ‘my’ village in the same way Frances Mayes drew visitors to Cortona with her book Under the Tuscan Sun.

“A fragment of stained glass at my local church had recently been identified as the work of renowned medieval artist, Pietro Lorenzetti. I already knew his younger brother, Ambrogio, painted frescos at the nearby Abbey of San Galgano, and that both had studied under Duccio, the father of Sienese painting.

“As I delved further, I was astonished to learn of the huge festival put on by the Siena state in 1311, parading Duccio’s painting of the Maestà – the Virgin in Majesty – around the Campo before its installation in the city cathedral.

“The crowds, the colours – I wanted that spectacle in my book. And I wanted a female protagonist, who could connect with the artists. From that was born my heroine, Clara, with a visceral love of colour, which conventions of the period made it difficult for her to express.”

Judith (known as Judith Evans when she lived in Chiswick, but clearly there’s another Judith Evans in the publishing world, as she is known now as Judith May Evans for her books) is currently working on the second of a trilogy set in Siena and the surrounding area.

Colours of Siena, published by the Conrad Press, is available to buy in Waterstones.

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Four people arrested at Pro-Palestinian protest at the Boat Race

Image ablve: Pro-Palestinian protesters at the finishing line of the Boat Race at Chiswick Bridge on Saturday; photograph Matthew Chattle, Alamy

“Swift and decisive action by officers also ensured that the annual Boat Race was not disrupted” say police

Four people were arrested at a Pro-Palestinian protest at Chiswick Bridge, the finish point of the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race on Saturday (30 March).

Two men were arrested under section 1 of the Public Order Act 2023, for gluing themselves to Chiswick Bridge. Another two people were arrested near the Boat Race, under section 2 of the Public Order Act 2023, for ‘being equipped to lock on’, according to the Metropolitan Police.

The Police say they became aware in the run up to the Boat Race that protestors ‘may have been seeking to take action to disrupt the annual men’s and women’s Boat Race’ and they ‘took action to prevent what could have resulted in serious disruption to the Boat Race.’

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine, who was in charge of overseeing policing across London for the Easter weekend, said:

“Swift and decisive action by officers also ensured that the annual Boat Race was not disrupted for spectators at home and abroad.”

As it turned out, sewage in the river was more of an issue than the protesters.

READ ALSO: Oxford rower blames toxic river for defeat in Boat Race

READ ALSO: Potentially lethal levels of E coli found in River Thames ahead of Boat Race

In a statement published on Saturday, the Met say ‘police dispersal powers were used to ensure that the race concluded without any interruption.’

Image above: Still from YouTube video footage from The Independent from Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march (30 March 2024)

Mass protest in central London

The protest at the Boat Race was one of around 100 pro-Palestinian rallies which took place across the UK in a day of national action.

Thousand of people marched in central London to oppose the scale of destruction in Gaza by Israeli forces, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Protesters marched from Russel Square to Trafalgar Square during the 11th National March for Palestine.

There was also a counter demonstration by pro-Israel demonstrators at the Strand.

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Sadiq Khan pledges Erasmus-style scheme for London students

Image above: Sadiq Khan campaigning in LB Hounslow with Ruth Cadbury on Saturday (30 March)

London’s Mayor promises new foreign student exchange scheme if elected

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged to introduce a new student exchange scheme for young Londoners, aiming to fill the void left by the UK’s departure from the EU’s Erasmus programme. Mr. Khan, the Labour incumbent, says that the loss of Erasmus was a “casualty” of Brexit

The UK government established the Turing Scheme as an Erasmus alternative, but Mayor Khan criticised it as ineffective, citing insufficient funding and saying the scheme primarily benefitted  wealthier students.

In response, he plans to include his proposed scheme in his upcoming 2024 mayoral election manifesto, with discussions already underway between his office and representatives from major cities worldwide.

The scheme, as outlined in Khan’s manifesto, would facilitate international study and work experience opportunities for London students, leveraging existing visa regulations permitting up to six months for studying abroad.

Leading universities are likely to play a role in administering the scheme, which aims to include students from various London institutions.

Mr. Khan’s initiative seeks to provide grants and support for students to study and gain work experience not only in EU countries but also in major global cities elsewhere in the world.

While not advocating for rejoining the EU, Mr. Khan’s campaign contrasts sharply with the pro-Brexit stance of his Tory opponent, Susan Hall.

Britain’s withdrawal from the Erasmus programme has been criticised by academics and business people alike for the failure to safeguard the financial stability of UK universities and to provide greater opportunities for young people.

The Government’s Turing Scheme, intended as a replacement for Erasmus, has faced challenges, including a complex application process and inadequate funding. Participation in the scheme’s first year fell short of Government targets, partly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Khan said:

“It’s been devastating to me that the current generation of students haven’t had the same opportunities to live, work and study abroad that young people had only a few years ago. If re-elected as mayor, I will work with major cities across the world to set up a new scheme which will help students at London institutions to travel and study abroad once again.

“I’m delighted that these conversations are already underway.”

Iran International journalist stabbed outside London home

Image above: Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati in hospital

Counter-terrorism police launch investigation after stabbing

A journalist working for Iran International TV has been stabbed outside his home in south-west London. The attack is being investigated by Counter Terrorism police.

Pouria Zeraati was attacked outside his home in Wimbledon Friday afternoon, (29 March) reportedly by several men, who fled in a car after knifing him.

The Metropolitan Police said they were called at 2.49pm and that the victim, in his 30s, suffered an injury to his leg.

A neighbour told the Evening Standard the attackers were “laughing” as they fled the scene.

Journalists working for Iran International were targeted when the TV company was based in Chiswick Business Park. They report independently what is happening inside Iran and for that they have been labelled as enemies of the Iranian state.

Chiswick Business Park had to be guarded by armed police and extra security, including road blocks, were added to the site until Iran International moved elsewhere, as they were subject to the  continuous threat of terrorist attacks.

No one has been arrested yet for the attack on Pouria Zeraati.

“Thankfully his condition is not believed to be life-threatening and he is in a stable condition,” the Met Police said.

“However, due to the victim’s occupation…coupled with the fact that there has been a number of threats directed towards this group of journalists in recent times, the incident is being investigated by specialist officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.”

Above: Post on X by Pouria in Hospital

Met stress attackers’ motive not known

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

“While we are keeping an open mind, given the occupation of the victim and our publicised concerns about the threat to employees of that organisation, the investigation is being led by the Counter Terrorism Command.

“I must stress that, at this early stage of our investigation, we do not know the reason why this victim was attacked and there could be a number of explanations for this.

“While we continue to assess the circumstances of this incident, detectives are following a number of lines of enquiry and our priority at this time is to try and identify whoever was behind this attack and to arrest them.”

Former BBC journalist Sima Sabet advised by Met Police not to stay at her home

Another Iranian journalist, Sima Sabet, who used to work for the BBC’s World Service, posted on X (Twitter) that she had been advised by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Unit to leave her home following the attack on Pouria Zeraati.

‘The Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Unit @metpoliceuk last night urged me to immediately leave my residence following a knife attack on @pouriazeraati , and stay elsewhere until further notice’ she wrote.

‘Last year, the Revolutionary Guards attempted to assassinate me and my former colleague @FardadFarahzad. They had detailed information about our residences and movements.

‘A Western security service provided @itvnews with audio and video files in which a Quds Force commander ordered an individual to kill me and Farahzad with knife. Their plan to assassinate us was exposed and failed. Nonetheless, yesterday Pouria Zeraati was attacked with a knife in London.’

Sima wrote that the Counter Terrorism Police had been in constant contact with her over the past few months, for which she was grateful, but she criticised the British Government for not taking ‘sufficient, meaningful, decisive, and effective political action against the terrorism of the Iranian government.

‘London is our home. Britain must be a safe place for journalists across all media, and unsafe for extremists and terrorists receiving orders from Tehran. Our voice will not be silenced by threat and terrorism. Journalism is not a crime; state terrorism is. Stop it.’

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15-year-old boy stabbed in Chiswick

Image above: Edensor Road at its junction with Great Chertsey Road (A316); Google Maps

Boy stabbed at Great Chertsey/Edensor Road junction

A 15-year-old boy was stabbed in Chiswick on Friday (29 March), by the A316 Great Chertsey Road.

The attack took place near the junction with Edensor Road at around 8.24pm. The teenager was taken to hospital after officers found him injured. His injuries have been assessed as not life changing or life threatening.

The road was closed in both directions after the attack, requiring the diversion of bus routes 190 and 533 buses.

No arrests have been made at this stage in the investigation and police are asking anyone with any information to call 101 quoting 6368/29MAR.

Development of Grove Park ‘Piazza’ taking shape

Image above: Planning image of how the Grove Park Piazza will look once completed

 

The ‘piazza’ outside Grove Park shops near Chiswick station is taking shape, having spent years in the planning, and having faced a succession of obstacles in the process.

Initially proposed by The Grove Park Group (GPG) and largely supported by the local community, the project was put on hold due to budget cuts from Transport for London (TfL) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Construction work is now under way. A road crew is extending the paved area outside the shops, with temporary traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic over Grove Park Bridge.

The new piazza will have brand new widened pavements,seating areas, greenery and more spaces for people to park their bikes.

Hounslow Council revisited the plans last year and made minor adjustments to the original design before appointing a contractor earlier this year.

Despite rumblings from some residents, who have expressed surprise that a project they’ve largely forgotten about has finally begun to take shape, LB Hounslow’s projects team say they have been actively engaging with residents and shopkeepers to address concerns and ensure transparency throughout the process.

Image above: Grove Park Road before construction work began; image Good Street View

Piazza welcomed by residents but parking issues still remain

The redevelopment aims to rejuvenate the area, offering ‘improved public space accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists’. Despite progress, parking issues persist, with a net reduction in spaces and limited free parking time for residents.

Grove Park Group’s Chairman, Rob King, said:

“The ‘piazza’ will benefit from a renewed and refreshed public space, encouraging residents and visitors to stay in the area, using the shops and facilities, and will be accessible whether they arrive on foot, by bike, by car etc.

“The area has been somewhat underinvested and overlooked in the past.We focused on several areas in the project: added a local community notice board to help keep residents informed – we’d like to do similar elsewhere in Grove Park, and several practical matters such as requesting seating areas, locations of bike racks etc – we have a couple of other ideas for the piazza which we are progressing.

“There have been some challenges around parking, with a net reduction in a few spaces which was driven by London Borough of Hounslow (LBH), and a controlled parking scheme (via app) which currently allows only 30 minutes of free parking – customers of the hairdresser or pharmacy really need a longer period which we have flagged to LBH.

“We also hope that the revised road layout will slow traffic, as is intended by London Borough of Hounslow. Speed on our local roads has been a continuing issue in the wider Grove Park area, and has persisted – and even worsened on some roads – following the various Low Traffic Neighbourhood measures from LBH.

“The Grove Park Group continues to lobby London Borough of Hounslow to take some action on road speed and safety as LBH’s Traffic team promised and committed to LBH Cabinet but are yet to fully deliver.”

“This would be traffic monitoring, calming and speed controls for the benefit of all road users including pedestrians and cyclists etc – we encourage further engagement here from LBH with GPG and the wider community on road speed.”

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Chiswick Book Festival donates £20,000 to charities

Image above: (L to R) Catherine Jaquiss, Ealing Team Leader, Read Easy UK; Helen West, Trustee, Read for Good; Fr Kevin Morris, Vicar, St Michael & All Angels; Fiona Curran, Chief Executive, Koestler Arts

Chiswick Book Festival donates £20,000 to reading charities and St Michael & All Angels Church

The Chiswick Book Festival has awarded £20,000 to charities, following record ticket sales at last year’s Festival which featured Clive Myrie, Jacqueline Wilson, Alan Titchmarsh, Michael Frayn and others.

At a presentation ceremony at St Michael & All Angels Church, it handed cheques for £5,000 to each of its 2023 charities:

  • Read for Good, which helps children to read for pleasure through programmes in schools and hospitals
  • Koestler Arts, the leading prison arts charity, based in W12, which promotes writing, reading and literacy in the criminal justice system
  • Read Easy Ealing, which provides one-to-one reading tuition for local adults who want to learn to read or improve their reading skills
  • St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosts and runs the festival and is itself a charity

Since the Festival started in 2009, it has raised more than £140,000 for reading and community charities, including St Michael & All Angels Church. Torin Douglas, director of the Chiswick Book Festival, said:

“We’re delighted that last year’s record ticket sales and sponsorship have allowed us to make these payments to such worthwhile causes. We’re very grateful to our many authors, venues, volunteers, partners and those who bought tickets, who helped make it possible.”.

Fiona Curran, Chief Executive, Koestler Arts, said:

“Thank you so much. This is really appreciated and will make a huge difference to us. I really enjoyed meeting the other charity members, and we look forward to this year’s festival.”

Catherine Jacquiss, Ealing Team Leader, Read Easy UK, said:

“What lovely news – thanks again for everything, your continued support is much appreciated.”

Barbara Williams, head of fundraising, Read for Good, said:

“This is incredible news; what a fantastic amount to have raised for your charities. Thank you so much for your support, and for inviting us to be a part of this special event.”

‘Pinter On Screen’ season at The Chiswick Cinema

Plans for this year’s Chiswick Book Festival in September 2024 are well underway, says Torin. It will be launched, in partnership with The Chiswick Cinema, with a monthly season of films written by Harold Pinter, who wrote The Caretaker while living in Chiswick. The season will be curated by Pinter’s biographer, Michael Billington, who also lives in Chiswick.

Torin Douglas said:

“Michael and I are delighted to be fulfilling a promise we made to Lady Antonia Fraser, who was married to the playwright for 28 years. At the 2020 Festival, reported by The Observer, Lady Antonia said Harold’s screen work deserved great recognition and she held out hope that it might be celebrated in a season of films for the general public.

“We said we’d try to make it happen and we’re very grateful to Chris Parker, the marketing manager of The Chiswick Cinema, for his support.”

Image above: Chris Parker, Torin Douglas and Michael Billington, Harold Pinter’s biographer

Harold Pinter is one of Chiswick’s two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and is featured on the Festival’s Writers Trail and Chiswick Timeline of Writers & Books.

The season will begin on Saturday April 27 with a launch screening of the Joseph Losey-Harold Pinter thriller Accident, including a Q&A with Michael Billington and a drinks reception.

Tickets will go on sale on The Chiswick Cinema website. Further films will be screened monthly on Sunday evenings. During the Chiswick Book Festival on Sunday September 15, the film will be The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

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Potentially lethal levels of E coli found in River Thames ahead of Boat Race

Image above: Boat Racers told to avoid entering the water and cover any open wounds

Tests near Hammersmith Bridge found nearly ten times ‘safe’ levels of the sewage-related bacteria

Boat Race organisers have issued new safety guidance for those participating in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on Saturday (30 March), after potentially lethal levels of E coli bacteria were found along the course on the River Thames.

Racers are advised not to enter the water and to cover any open wounds, lest they run the risk of coming into contact with the contaminated water flowing along the race’s route.

E Coli, which is found in faeces, can cause a range of conditions including urinary tract infection, cystitis, intestinal infection and vomiting, with the worst cases leading to life-threatening blood poisoning.

Traditionally, the winners of the race often celebrate by jumping into the river. Last year Cambridge men’s cox Jasper Parish jumped into the Thames at Mortlake. But this winner’s tradition could become a thing of the past due to the deteriorating water quality in the river.

Instead, the Oxford and Cambridge crews will be encouraged to wash themselves down at a dedicated cleansing station once the race is over.

Between 28 February and 26 March, environmentalist group River Action conducted 16 tests on the Thames near Fulham Reach Boat Club around Hammersmith Bridge, which the crews will pass as they row between Putney and Chiswick.

The tests found an average of 2,863 E.coli bacteria colony forming units (CFU) per 100ml of water. To meet the Environment Agency’s bathing water quality standards, the level should be below 1,000 CFU per 100ml. The highest recorded measurement reached 9,801 CFU, nearly ten times the acceptable limit.

Image above: A sample of the E coli infested water taken along the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge

‘Thames Water and the Conservative government’s inaction to blame’

River Action said the testing locations suggested the source of pollution is from Thames Water discharging sewage directly into the river and its tributaries.

It said this was based on publicly available data which showed that the water company had discharged sewage into the Greater London area of the River Thames for 1,914 hours from the start of 2024 up to 26 March.

The Boat Race said it supported the research carried out by River Action and confirmed that it would be implementing similar safety measures for the race on Saturday.

“Water quality is an ongoing concern for the Boat Race,” it said.

“We have put in place a series of precautionary measures this year to protect the health of our athletes, which includes guidance regarding the covering up of open wounds, regular handwashing, a cleansing station at the finish area and highlighting the risks of entering the water.

“We will also be taking on board British Rowing’s recent Poor Water Quality Guidance, issued in partnership with River Action, as we look forward to the Gemini Boat Race 2024.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ruth Cadbury MP angrily Tweeted:

“So now everyone involved with @theboatrace know what so many who use the Thames and our other rivers [know already] – the river is full of s***after it rains. All thanks to the Conservative Govt failure to address the sewage treatment crisis”

Image above: Sewage along Strand-on-the-Green in November 2023

London Waterkeeper charity calls for legal limits on sewage dumping 

London Waterkeeper, which is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance which campaigns for safer, cleaner rivers, called on members of the public to email the Government with a legally-binding request to limit sewage spills.

The letter requests Defra (The Department for Environment & Rural Affairs), under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, to strengthen storm overflow permits by adding a threshold of 40 discharges per year. The letter requests that if Defra do not do this, to explain why and how this will align with the Government’s aim of “tightening” permits.

In a post on X, London Waterkeeper said:

“We want a threshold of 40 spills a year. More than that & the overflow is then classed as ‘unsatisfactory’. Currently there are no limits…

“We need the worst sewers highlighted to increase the pressure on water companies. The public would also know where they are. The fact that so many now have monitors needs to be reflected in the permits. The Government said it wants to ‘”tighten” permits, now is the time!”

According to publicly available data, by 26 March Thames Water had discharged sewage into the Greater London area of the River Thames for 1,914 hours since the start of 2024, equivalent to 79 days. The data comes from 40 storm overflow sites between Kingston and the mouth of the river in the east.

Above: Post from London Waterkeeper on X

River Action describes situation as “tragic”, Thames Water blames high rainfall, 

CEO of River Action James Wallace said,:

“We are in a tragic situation when elite athletes are issued with health guidance ahead of a historic race on the capital’s river. Our water quality results show what happens after decades of neglect by an unregulated water company, Thames Water.

“However, thanks to the vigilance of competition organisers, supported by British Rowing, River Action and The Rivers Trust, we are pleased they are showing their duty of care to the competing teams this weekend, and working with us to address the source of the problem: ending river pollution.

“For the safety of river users everywhere, rowers, communities and conservationists are uniting to ask the Government to enforce the law and to prosecute polluters. River Action wants water companies to honour their commitments to the regulators and bill payers by investing in their infrastructure and stop dumping sewage. Everyone should be able to enjoy our rivers and seas without risking their health.”

A Thames Water spokesperson said:

“Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and we want to lead the way with our transparent approach to data. We remain the only company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this ‘near real-time’ data is available to customers as a map on our website and is also available through an open data platform for third parties, such as swimming and environmental groups to use.

“We have experienced higher than average long-term rainfall across London and the Thames Valley with groundwater levels exceptionally high for the time of the year. The overflows are designed to operate automatically when the sewer network is about to be overwhelmed which then releases diluted wastewater into rivers, rather than letting it back up into people’s homes.

“We are working hard to make these discharges unnecessary and have published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sites, including a £100 million upgrade of our Mogden sewage treatment works in South West London to treat the high volumes of incoming sewage and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather.”

The Appraisal review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: Tim Marriott and Angela Bull in The Appraisal

A delightfully uncomfortable watch

The Appraisal is absolutely brilliant. It’s only an hour long – a dialogue between two people: he the senior manager, she a direct report who manages a team of people under him.

At the start of the play he has clearly forgotten he is supposed to be sitting down with her to discuss her annual appraisal, as he is practising his golf swing when there is a knock on the door.

He has a passing acquaintance with employment law, certainly talks the HR talk – referring to the HSA (the Health and Safety Appendix to the staff handbook) and VAT (Value Added Targets), company watchwords such as Transparency and Integrity and measuring her achievements by the Robust Performance Data.

But he doesn’t seem to grasp that there are supposed to be set paramaters to their relationship – boundaries that he should not cross; protocols to be followed which mean he can’t just do as he pleases without getting himself and the company into trouble.

Image above: Tim Marriott as Jo

She is wary and defensive – not, as it transpires, without good reason – and she is clearly brighter than he is. In the battle of wits that ensues there is not a wasted word or expression as each one of them attempts to get the upper hand in the conversation.

He tells her she is excellent at doing her job and her department is efficient and easily achieving its goals. But there’s a ‘but’. There is always a ‘but’. As the appraisal continues, they become locked in a struggle of wills as to whether his rather pathetically personal agenda or her rights as an employee will come out on top.

I wasn’t the only one to come out of the theatre feeling the writer must have recorded one of my own appraisals. It was excruciating!

Image above: Angela Bull as Nicky

At one point, trying to answer the standard ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’ question, she gives the answer I suspect most people would like to give:

“What’s the point? It’s not something over which I have much control.”

Charged with being “lacking in ambition” she gives the heartfelt answer I suspect will also strike a chord with many:

“Is it so bad just to want to do your job well and carry on doing it? And to be left alone to get on with it?”

Tim Marriott as the appraiser and Angela Bull as the appraisee are absolutely brilliant, doing justice to Tim’s excellent script. It will make you squirm, but it will make you laugh out loud.

Image above: The Appraisal; Theatre at the Tabard

Photographs by Charles Flint.

The Appraisal runs until Saturday 13 April.

Tickets – The Appraisal

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ruth Cadbury writes to Chancellor over local bank closures

Images above: Ruth Cadbury MP, Natwest – the latest bank to close in Chiswick

MP renews talk of introducing a ‘banking hub’ in LB Hounslow

Ruth Cadbury MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt calling for urgent action from the government over the scale of local bank closures across the borough of Hounslow.

In her letter, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth pointed out seven banks had closed in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow over the last four years.

She warned this was having a huge impact on both local residents and small local businesses who rely on cash, and who need in-person services. Ruth asked the Chancellor what further steps the Financial Conduct Authority would be taking and raised the role of banking hubs to make up for the loss in banking services.

Ruth said:

‘‘High Street banks are a vital part of our local community. Whether you need to set up a new direct debit, get some advice about your account, withdraw cash or simply speak with bank staff it’s clear that there is still a huge role for high street banks.

“That’s why I have been fighting against the closure of banks locally and have been working with residents to stand up against the huge scale of closures.  Isleworth and Brentford have become banking deserts which forces people to travel to either Hounslow or Chiswick if they can.

“With over seven banks closing it’s vital that the government set out what steps they’re taking both to protect local branches, but also to ensure that alternatives such as banking hubs can be set up easily. High Street banks are also a life-line for older customers, or those who don’t feel confident using telephone, online or mobile banking.

“We need urgent action to ensure that the banks that remain stay open and to ensure that residents and local businesses can continue to access crucial services.’’

Image above: Rupa Huq MP at the opening of Acton’s (and the UK’s first) banking hub

What is a banking hub?

In December last year, following the announcement that two banks, Lloyds and Nat West, would be closing in quick succession, The Chiswick Calendar asked whether it was time Chiswick had a banking hub.

READ ALSO: Does Chiswick need a ‘banking hub’?

Over the past few years Chiswick has lost banking services at Santander (2021), Barclays (2022), Halifax (2023), Lloyds as well as the most recent closures this year, leaving just the Nationwide Building Society and Metrobank offering banking services, and HSBC offering a digital service only (no counter service).

Banking Hubs are buildings where several banks share space so communities can access everyday personal and business banking services, such as withdrawing and depositing cash easily, or paying in cheques, over the counter. They are also somewhere customers can make an appointment to speak in person with a local community representative from their bank.

Representatives are on site for a specific day each week to help with more complicated transactions, such as mortgages, loans and pensions. Your local ‘community banker’ can offer debt advice and help with fraud prevention on their dedicated day of the week.

Owned by Cash Access UK, funded by the banks, and run by the Post Office, they’re billed as a way of ‘bringing back banking to the people and areas that need it’.

Labour have promised to roll out hundreds more banking hubs across the UK if they win the next general election.

Both the Conservative Government and local Tories support expanding banking hubs, though the Government claim Labour’s pledge to build hundreds more isn’t affordable.

Chiswick police officer accused of strangling woman appears in court

Image above: PC Mahad Abdalla

PC Mahad Abdalla appears at Westminster Magistrates court to deny attacking woman 

A police officer from Chiswick appeared in court on Monday (25 March), facing charges of assaulting and strangling a woman while he was off-duty.

He was arrested on Saturday and suspended from duty.

PC Mahad Abdalla, 26, denied attacking the woman at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was released on bail ahead of another hearing at Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday 24 April.

His bail conditions dictate that he live and sleep at his home in Chiswick, and must not make contact with the complainant or visit Finchley. He will also have to wear an electronic ankle tag and is subject to a curfew.

PC Abdalla officer currently serves with the Territorial Support Group in the North West Basic Command Unit which covers Brent and Harrow.

He became a full-time officer in 2017 having previously worked in retail while he served as a Special Constable.

As well as the court proceedings, inquiries by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards are also ongoing.

Tragedy as footballer dies during a football match in Chiswick

Image above: Seb Chadwick. Image: Civil Service FC

Seb Chadwick, 38, dies after collapsing during Civil Service FC match against Old Carthusians

A footballer has died after collapsing during a match in Chiswick. Seb Chadwick was playing for Civil Service FC on Saturday (23 March). In a statement Civil Service have said:

‘The Civil Service Football Club is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Seb Chadwick, aged 38.

‘Seb collapsed during a CSFC game on Saturday. Seb had a brain aneurysm which burst during the game. Seb didn’t know he had the condition. CPR was performed on the pitch, the paramedics were there immediately and he was taken to intensive care by ambulance. He could not have received better care.

‘Seb’s family, girlfriend and friends, including from the football club, were all with him while he was in intensive care. He was not in any pain.’

Seb had played for Civil Service for over ten years and had played for every team from the fourth team to the first team. He won numerous pieces of silverware, including league titles, cups and promotions.

Civil Service have described him as a “great centre back, an amazing competitor who you always wanted on your side when going into battle.”

“There is a huge Seb shaped hole in our lives”

The club’s statement continued:

‘He was a very popular member of the club, we always knew when Seb was in the room. Although many tears have been shed over the last two days there have also been many smiles as we have remembered the laughter we shared.

‘Our deepest condolences go out to his family, his girlfriend and his very many friends. There is a huge Seb shaped hole in our lives.’

Saturday’s match was supposed to celebrate the second edition of Euskal Non-League day, an event designed by top tier Spanish club Athletic, with whom Civil Service FC has historic links.

READ MORE: Athletic Club team up with Civil Service FC for Non-League Day

Chiswick GPs scrap Saturday appointments after funding cut

Image above: Grove Park Surgery

Almost every GP surgery in Chiswick to scrap Saturday appointments 

GP practices in Chiswick will no longer be taking appointments on Saturdays, after a funding cut from the NHS body which governs them.

Appointments on Saturdays have been scrapped at almost every GP surgery in Chiswick which provided them. Most have already had their final Saturday of appointments last weekend (23 March).

In a mass text to patients on Monday (25 March), Grove Park Surgery said they would no longer be open on Saturdays. The text adds:

‘This is due to a funding cut from the ICB, we are sorry for any inconvenience’.

The ICB (Integrated Care Board) for North West London, is responsible for arranging the provision of health services locally. The body is the statutory NHS organisation responsible for developing a plan for meeting the health needs of the population and managing the NHS budget.

It covers the boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster – a population of 2.1 million people.

Chiswick Health Practice, Glebe Street Surgery, Grove Park Surgery, Grove Park Terrace Surgery and West4GPs Surgery all said they will not open on Saturdays in the future. Chiswick Family Doctors Practice said they have never opened on Saturdays.

Holly Road Surgery is the only practice which will continue taking appointments on Saturday.

Practices ‘disappointed’ at cut but ICB says they should have been aware

The Chiswick Calendar understands the funding cut affects practice across Hounslow. Surgeries outside Chiswick, such as Brentford Group Practice, said on Monday they will also stop taking appointments on Saturdays, starting from Saturday 6 April.

One practice employee in Chiswick, who did not give their name, said the ICB were hoping GP surgeries would continue to offer Saturday appointments despite funding being revoked, and just absorb the costs, which they described as “craziness”.

The practice manager of Chiswick Medical Practice, Amanda Meehan, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“As a practice we were disappointed at the ICB decision to cut funding for Saturday clinics as this is a valued service for our patients.”

A spokesperson for NHS North West London said:

“GPs in Hounslow were provided with additional local funding to provide services on Saturdays as part of an agreement that was only available until March 2024. All practices providing this service from this funding were aware of this position.

“Services in Chiswick will continue to be provided on a Saturday from Holly Road Surgery as part of enhanced access funding in line with the agreement in place with the Chiswick Primary Care Network.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Episode 41: Prime Ministers in election mode – from the pipe-smoking Harold Wilson to the dishwasher-stacking Rishi Sunak

The Three Old Hacks have long memories. Former BBC Sports News editor Mihir Bose, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political analyst Nigel Dudley have been covering the nation’s major events for decades and are well placed to compare and contrast the pre-election antics of politicians.

Harold Wilson smoked a pipe in public, in an attempt to appear a ‘man of the people’, but smoked cigars in private, recalls Nigel. There was that excruciating video of Ed Milliband attempting to eat a bacon sandwich in public, and the video with Tony Blair eating cereal with his kids in his kitchen which put the ‘corn’ in ‘cornflakes. So a prime minister attempting to cosy up to the public by telling us how he loads the dishwasher and turn down the bed (“all a bit clumsy” – David) is nothing new to them.

Other subjects on the agenda in this week’s podcast are whether or not we can expect another Budget before the next election and how much the Government can expect to influence our votes with it (12:20), the absence of specific promises from Labour (17:32) and the Princess of Wales (28:07) – whether the papers were right to go big on the dodgy Mother’s Day photograph in the light of what we now know, that she has cancer.

The discussion of the royal family photographs prompted a discussion of their own family photographs.

Pictured above; a young Nigel Dudley

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


More Platforms

Mihir’s Memoir

Mihir is publishing his memoir. From growing up in India to making a name for himself as a journalist in Britain, he recounts how he is ever grateful to Mr Crombie, the official who gave him ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

Come and see Mihir talking about his memoir on Wednesday 29 May at George IV pub in Chiswick.

Tickets: Eventbrite

Listen to more episodes here.

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

Tax-free savings: too good to be true?

The award winning wealth management and investment experts Killik & Co have opened a new space on Devonshire Road – House of Killik Chiswick. The Chiswick Calendar is pleased to share their guest blogs on how best to plan and save to acquire the wealth to achieve your goals.

Killik & Co won “Best Discretionary / Advisory Wealth Manager’ in the 2023 FT Investors Chronicle Awards.”


Tax-free savings: too good to be true?

As we approach the end of the tax year, many of our clients are asking how to make the most of tax-free savings, and with rising living costs chipping away at family budgets, and a general election looming, these conversations have never been more important.

In this article Phil Sole, Relationship Manager at House of Killik Chiswick, shares various options for tax-efficiency that savers should consider before 5 April 2024.

Make the most of this year’s allowances for investments

As we approach the end of the tax year, we’re encouraging all our clients to make use of the allowances they have available to them, particularly any that are “use it or lose it”. Over the last few years, we’ve seen increasing pressure on taxable allowances, some of which are decreasing year on year.

For example, the Capital Gains Tax allowance was previously £12,000, then came down to £6,000 this year, and will drop to £3,000 next year. Reductions have also been made to the dividend tax allowance on income produced from investments, which was previously £2,000, is now down to £1,000 and will drop to £500 on 6th April 2024.

With this in mind, it is important to consider getting investments held in a taxable wrapper into something more tax efficient, so the long-term tax drag on your investments isn’t too significant.

Wrap your investments in ISAs and save for your children with JISAs

A key tax wrapper we talk about at Killik & Co is the Individual Savings Account (ISA). The current allowance is £20,000 per person per year, and this means you can put £20,000 of savings or investments into the wrapper, which will grow free from any further Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax.

This is a powerful investment vehicle, particularly for families where parents will have a £20,000 allowance each. Further to this, each child is entitled to hold a Junior ISA (JISA) with an allowance of £9,000 per child per year.

It is worth noting that these allowances are at historically high levels, so use your ISA or JISA allowance before the 5 April, or it will be gone.

Contribute to pensions and Junior SIPPs

Pensions probably offer the most tax-efficient allowances available, and are subject to the Annual Allowance, which is the maximum you can save into a pension. Over the course of this year, the Annual Allowance has increased quite generously from £40,000 to £60,000.

The benefit of pension contributions is the tax relief you receive on making that contribution. For example, a basic rate taxpayer making a pension contribution can claim 20% tax relief, which works out to up to £12,000 tax relief on £60,000 of pension contributions.

The benefit then increases to £24,000 for higher rate taxpayers, which means the net contribution would only need to be £36,000 to have the benefit of £60,000 inside the pension wrapper. Similar to the ISA, the pension can grow free of Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax whilst it’s invested, making pensions a great way of saving for retirement.

It’s also worth considering the wider family, as you can contribute up to £3,600 per year into a Junior SIPP (under 18 YOA) for someone who isn’t earning. So, a contribution of £3,600 would only require a net contribution of £2,880, providing the benefit of £720 tax relief per individual.

Check your pension carry forward allowance

Many Chiswick locals have enquired about whether they have any unused pension allowance in the current tax year. To help with these queries, it is important to know your total employee and employer pension contributions in the current tax year (which can usually be found on your payslip).

‘Carry forward annual allowance’ enables you to make use of unused annual allowances from the three previous tax years and, if affordable, is a tax-efficient way to save for your retirement.

Don’t miss out on tax-efficient savings

While tax-free savings allowances can seem too good to be true, there are some complexities to consider.  Please do pop into House of Killik Chiswick if you wish to better understand what the options are for you and your family.

For more information visit House of Killik Chiswick at 13 Devonshire Road, or email, chiswick@killik.com.

Please be aware that as with all investments, your capital is at risk, you may not receive back the same amount that you invest, and past performance is not an indication of future performance. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may be subject to change.


If you have any questions about this article, or wish to discuss your financial circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact Relationship Manager, Phil Sole and House & Community Coordinator, Emma Walker.

We welcome all Chiswick residents to House of Killik, no appointment necessary.  Pop in for a chat and a coffee at 13 Devonshire Road – we look forward to meeting you soon.


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Former Mayor of Hounslow joins George Galloway’s party

Image above: Cllr Amritpral Mann

Former Mayor and suspended Labour councillor defects to Worker’s Party of Britain

The former Mayor of LB Hounslow has defected from Labour to George Galloway’s Worker’s Party of Britain.

Amritpal Mann, a councillor for Heston East since 1994, is a qualified solicitor and has lived in the ward since 1985. He served as Mayor of Hounslow in 2011/12.

The defection comes after Cllr Mann was suspended by Labour for a Gaza-related social media post, and for allegedly leaking information to local journalists. He has announced he will not be standing again for his seat in Heston East following his suspension

He says he will continue to serve his residents until the next local elections in 2026, by which time he will have been a councillor for 32 years.

Cllr Mann was involved with a number of major infrastructure projects in Hounslow, such as the building of Heston Infants, Juniors, secondary schools, Lampton Sports Hall and Heston Leisure Complex.

George Galloway touted the move as ‘seismic’, claiming that the political plates ‘are now shifting’.

Mr. Galloway, a deeply controversial figure in British politics, returned to Parliament as an MP earlier this month, following his dramatic victory in the Rochdale by-election standing on a ticket which was largely centred on opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Above: Post on X by George Galloway MP

International Padel Tournament comes to Chiswick

Images above: A Padel Tennis court at Rocks Lane sports centre, poster for the upcoming padel tournament

Rocks Lane sports centre to host international padel tennis tournament

Top international padel tennis players are preparing to make their way to Chiswick from all over the world to compete in an international padel tournament.

The tournament, set to begin on Wednesday 27 March and end on Easter Sunday, will take place on the Rocks Lane Padel courts, where competitors will battle it out for recognition from the International Padel Federation, generous prize money and ‘fabulous’ gifts from local Chiswick sponsors and supporters.

Organisers at Rocks Lane said spectators are in for “a real action packed exciting spectacle”.

A Rocks Lane spokesperson said:

“Looking forward to seeing lots of Chiswick locals at Rocks Lane! Look out for the international players as they visit our local shops, cafes and restaurants over the Easter weekend! International Padel Rocks!”

Tickets and invites are available via this link.

Spectator tickets include a burger from the BBQ and there is free entry for Rocks Lane Padel Members and Rocks Lane Padel Academy Juniors.

Images above: Room2 hotel, wine merchants Lea & Sanderman

Local businesses offer their support

Rocks Lane have partnered with Room2 Chiswick, who are providing customers and players dedicated rates and are donating generous prizes for the winners.

Chiswick’s Clinic4Sport is providing vital physio services available to all players and non players from Thursday – Sunday.

The local Savills estate agent, just steps away from Rocks Lane sports centre on the common beside Turnham Green, is sponsoring the event, as is Chiswick Barbell Club, the strength and conditioning coaches for Chiswick Celtic, who train at Rocks Lane.

Prizes for the winners have been donated by the wine shop Lea & Sandeman on Chiswick High Road.

Other businesses sponsoring the event include Chiswick Cinema, Tarantella, D Grande and Flame & Fire, who have donated gifts for all 200 players’ goody bags.

FIP Rise Rocks Lane said they were fortunate to have lots of friends who are supporting and sponsoring the event including Playtomic, Drop Shot, Go Mate, VIBEPADEL, Travel Padel Club and PADELSHACK.

Rocks Lane Padel juniors will also be volunteering at the event, eager to watch the experts.

The Crown on Chiswick High Rd closes

Image above: The Crown pub at 210 Chiswick High Road

The Crown closes unexpectedly after six years

The Crown pub on Chiswick High Road has closed unexpectedly, six years after it was opened by the current owners.

No announcement of the closure was made but the pub did not open over the weekend and customers who tried to make reservations were met with the following message:

‘Due to the current nature of the business the decision to close with immediate effect has been made by the owners’.

In an automated reply to emails, the owners said all staff have been made redundant and “are exempt of any responsibility in relation to the Company.”

The building used to be Chiswick’s police station before a bigger station was built across the road. Parts of the site date back to the 17th century. It was for a long time home to Carvossos, a popular pub and restaurant, and was bought by Harcourt Inns in 2017 and expensively refitted.

The freehold pub has seating for around 39 people in the bar area with the restaurant able to accommodate 72, as well as tables on the pavement at the front of the building and a terrace at the rear. There is a private dining room in which eight people can be served and four hotel bedrooms.

It is one of three pubs owned by Harcourt Inns, founded in 2014 by James McCulloch. He brought in Henry Harris, formerly of Racine in Chelsea and the Soho House Group, to oversee the group’s food offering. The group was badly hit by the pandemic and Mr Harris left the company in 2020.

In November 2022, Harcourt Inns put all its properties on the market including The Crown, which was listed as a going concern, at a price of £3,750,000 but it appears there were no takers and the company was dissolved in October 2023 with James McCulloch as the sole remaining director.

The building is thought to have been in the hands of administrators since October, who decided to cease trading as there was no evidence that the business could be run profitably.

Interview with Rebecca Frayn about her new book Lost in Ibiza

Images above: Rebecca Frayn; Lost in Ibiza

Rebecca Frayn’s new book Lost in Ibiza puts its finger on the divide between the generations

Funnily enough, I had just finished reading Michael Frayn’s novel Spies, bought after a Q&A with him at the Chiswick Book Festival, when a copy of Rebecca Frayn’s new novel Lost in Ibiza plopped through the letterbox.

In both books, father and daughter manage to put their finger on a moment in time when the world is in crisis – in his case the Second World War, in hers the climate crisis – and capture the atmosphere of their own era, exploring how two generations deal with the catastrophe they face, and each other, as the world around them changes.

Rebecca is every bit as much the polymath as her father – he the novelist and playwright, she the novelist, documentary maker, screenwriter and climate activist.

READ ALSO: Interview with Rebecca Frayn about her film Misbehaviour (2020) with Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley

Lost in Ibiza follows the journey of 21-year-old environmental activist Alice, to the Balearic island of hippies and hedonists to find William, a successful 50 year old capitalist, who she has only just discovered is her biological father.

She pitches up on the eve of his big birthday bash, much to the irritation of his wife, mother of his two small, legitimate children, as she is in the throes of organising truck-loads of Moroccan tents, rugs and assorted paraphernalia, including a camel and copious quantities of food and booze being laid out by the pool to amuse the hundreds of guests about the descend on their idyllic mountain villa.

The personal story is interesting, as is that of the Filipino couple who run the place, but she also manages to crystallise the dynamic between the Baby Boomer generation and Millennials – those who trashed the planet and those who are left to pick up the pieces – in a book that is both thought-provoking and at the same time a light and enjoyable read.

You have a feeling it will end badly, but she keeps you guessing how until the end.

Image above: Rebecca Frayn and family at their farmhouse in Ibiza

“I saw a Mediterranean pop of colour”

If it feels as if the author knows Ibiza well, describing with the ease of familiarity the hinterland with its flora and fauna and its distinct groups of inhabitants – the Ibicencos, the new age hippies and the rich incomers, it’s because she does.

Rebecca bought a 500 year old farmhouse in the north of the island a few years ago, which she has restored with her architect son Finn and now runs as an ecological farm, selling produce at the farm shop. She talked to The Chiswick Calendar about it when she was back at their family home in Chiswick.

“I was walking along Chiswick High Rd 23 years ago, heavily pregnant with my daughter. I had put my back out, so I was walking very slowly, and I saw a Mediterranean pop of colour in an estate agent’s window.”

The pop of colour was a picture of a little house in the north of Ibiza. The price was £140,000.

“Even 23 years ago that wouldn’t have bought a garage in Chiswick. It was a very sweet little house with a 180-degree view of the sea and a 180-degree view of the valley. A couple from Chiswick owned it, and it was considered too far from the airport for anyone to want it. They couldn’t sell it in Ibiza, so they decided to try and sell it here.”

Image above: Countryside of northern Ibiza

“We fell deeply in love with the island”

Rebecca and her husband did their sums and thought they could manage it. Only just about able to fly, because she was so pregnant, she went out to see it with him and they fell in love with the place.

“I think all the stress of it led me to go into labour three weeks early.”

Ever since, they have spent part of the year in Ibiza.

“With a newborn baby and twin seven-year-old boys you can’t move about very much, but we ventured a bit farther each day and gradually we got to know it, and we fell deeply in love with the island. My son Finn now lives there.”

Image above: Can Pep

Regenerative farming – a “hope-filled way of campaigning for the environment”

Finn is now a qualified architect, and having sold the original house, together they have renovated a 500-year-old farmhouse, ‘Can Pep’, which they are running as a regenerative farm project. Rebecca had done a lot of environmental campaigning “of the old fashioned placard outside Parliament sort. This feels like a much more hope-filled way of campaigning for the environment.”

She draws in the book on the islanders’ experience of a major fire. “In 2011 they had the worst fire in Ibiza’s history.”

The threat of fire is a very real concern, especially as the island is running out of water, yet the farmhouse is in the fire zone. When they bought it, the house was derelict, abandoned with the wicker chairs and gourds still in the kitchen and the old gas mantels. The house had no power or running water.

Image above: Eco pond at Can Pep

“The issues Ibiza is facing are a microcosm of the issues people are facing the world over”

The renovation of the house is spectacular, but the 300,000 square metres of land around it, even more so. Where there used to be a monoculture of pine trees they have introduced apricots, cherries and orange trees, recreating it as an ‘edible forest’.

“All the surface water on the island dried up 60 years ago when tourism took off,” says Rebecca, so instead of a swimming pool cleansed with bleach they have reintroduced a pond, cleaned by reeds.

“I wrote the book because I realised that the issues Ibiza is facing are a microcosm of the issues people are facing the world over. It took me 14 years to marry the personal story of this family with environmentalism.”

She now has money from the BFI to turn it into a screen play, so watch this space …

Image above: Can Pep

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

‘Drift’ director Anthony Chen talks about his film at Chiswick Cinema

Image above: Cynthia Erivo in Drift

Anthony Chen talks to Sarah Cook

It is ten minutes into the film before she speaks, but her walk along the beach, her lack of interaction, her lack of possessions, her evident loneliness and quiet desperation speaks volumes.

By the time she does speak, you have filled the gap with your own narrative and you kind of expect to find she’s from some impoverished West African village, trafficked via Libya, a refugee who is the sole survivor of a sinking boat, or something.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise when she does speak, to find that she has a middle class English accent. Flashbacks to her with immaculate braids, make-up and nails, with her blonde best friend, enjoying life in London, make you quickly revise your expectations, and deepens your curiosity as to who Jacqueline is and what has happened to her.

Image above: Jacqueline trying to reach her friend in London on the phone

“I wasn’t sure about it at first”

The explanation is a long time coming, but director Anthony Chen keeps up the suspense and actress Cynthia Erivo’s superlative performance keeps you hooked, despite the story’s painfully slow unfolding.

This is Anthony Chen’s third film. He spoke about it to Sarah Cook at Chiswick Cinema and took questions from the audience.

“I wasn’t sure about it at first” he told the audience. “The novel is very internalised, and culturally it is very removed from all my previous work.

“Jacqueline isn’t your everyday refugee. She came from the establishment, a place of privilege, a girls’ boarding school.”

When finally she does meet someone she trusts enough to speak to about what has happened to her, (played sympathetically by Alia Shawcat), and manages to scrape together enough cash to buy a restaurant meal by giving foot massages on the beach, she insists she pays for the meal to repay the woman’s kindness. She is not used to being on the receiving end of charity, or being at a social disadvantage.

Image above: Drift director Anthony Chen talking to Sarah Cook at Chiswick Cinema

“I feel like Jacqueline found me and also found Cynthia”

“This hasn’t been an easy film to make. I’ve never cried so much making a film,” said Chen; “never cried so much developing a film, cried so much shooting a film or cried so much cutting a film.”

Chen is a Singaporean film director, screenwriter and film producer. He is known for directing the feature films Ilo Ilo and Wet Season. His debut feature film, Ilo Ilo, won the Camera d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, making him the first and only Singaporean to have been awarded at Cannes.

Cynthia Erivo, an English actress, gained recognition for starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple from 2015 to 2017, for which she won the 2016 Tony Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ and the Grammy Award for ‘Best Musical Theater Album’. She sings the haunting song which is the theme tune of Drift.

She was then cast as Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet and Belle in Widows, about four women with ‘nothing in common except the debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities’.

The script of Drift was developed during the pandemic, when “everyone felt lonely and displaced,” said Chen.

“I’m Asian and I believe in fate. I feel like Jacqueline found me and also found Cynthia.”

Chen is a master of the ‘less is more’ school of directing. There are long periods where the audience is just watching Jacquline moving around the island, trying to keep a low profile and not be noticed, just washing her underwear in the sea or cleaning her teeth. It doesn’t sound very exciting, yet somehow it builds tension.

“I tend to find complexity and tension in the silences” he said. “I really feel that less is more.”

So if you like that moody, atmospheric kind of film, you will probably like Drift, which I found profoundly moving. It is very dramatic, but I can’t explain why, or it will ruin the story.

Drift is on at Chiswick Cinema from Friday 29 March, with daily screenings next week from Sunday 31 March – Thursday 4 April.

Book tickets: Chiswick Cinema