Cyclists allowed back in Richmond Park

Cyclists are to be allowed back in Richmond Park from Tuesday 2 June.

“We are looking forward to welcoming cyclists back” said a spokesperson for the Royal Parks.

Described as a “managed re-introduction”, cyclists will only be allowed in to Richmond Park on weekdays before 10.00 am and after 4.00 pm. The time in between is reserved for children under 12 only to cycle with a family member. Key workers commuting to work will also be permitted to cycle through the park at any time during park opening hours.

“This will allow us to monitor and measure the impact of the re-introduction and whether any further measures are required” say Royal Parks.

Access to the park roads on the eastern side of the park around Priory Lane and Broomfield Hill will be remain suspended temporarily to adult cyclists at all times, in order to maintain safety and provide a safe area for children and families to play.

Cars are still banned from the park.

Cyclists were banned from the park at the end of March because the Royal Parks decided there were too many, bunched too closely together and not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Parks and Playgrounds

See also: Champagne Superhighway

U turn on funding school meals

A few days ago, Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP, criticising the Departments for Education’s decision not to fund free school meals during half-term. He was one of more than a thousand councillors across England to have written to the government calling for free school meals to be provided over the half-term and summer breaks, after ministers said there were no plans to fund them during the forthcoming holidays.

Ordinarily free school meals are only provided during term time, but the government made an exception last month because of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty facing schools and parents. At Easter, vouchers were made available at the last minute to help support the most disadvantaged families and the councillors warned they would now face “holiday hunger” as the Covid-19 crisis continues.

The Government has now reversed this decision and will retrospectively reimburse schools for the costs. Schools minister Nick Gibb revealed during an education committee hearing on Wednesday, half way through the May half term week, that the government would now fund free meal vouchers for this week.

Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s shadow children’s minister, said:

“Labour has always supported families accessing free school meals over half-term, but announcing this U-turn during the week itself is far too late. Families have been extremely worried that they would not be able to feed their children properly this week as a result of the Government’s initial reluctance.”

Cllr Tom Bruce also had a number of other questions for the Education Secretary, which still need an answer:

  • ‘Are schools expected to remain open for critical workers and vulnerable pupils over the summer break?
  • ‘Are schools expected to remain open for a wider cohort of children?
  • ‘If schools or summer schemes are to be offered during the summer break, will the Department for Education fund free school meals?
  • In light of the Government’s demand that Transport for London withdraw free travel to under 18s, what support will be given to those travelling to and from school?

Cllr Bruce said:

“It was of course welcome that the Government u-turned on its disgraceful decision not to fund free school meals, and has done the decent thing in supporting schools and families during this extremely difficult time.

“However, it’s unacceptable that there is still so much uncertainty around how schools will be expected to operate over the coming months. It is not fair on hard-working teachers and concerned parents.

“Staff have been working non-stop since the beginning of the school closures, often in very unfamiliar and difficult conditions. Many schools in Hounslow have remained open through the Easter period, bank holidays and half term, supporting key workers and vulnerable children. They are now planning to welcome back more children, in an even more challenging environment.

“To enable schools and parents to plan effectively we need to know now what will be expected of them over the coming months. Teachers want to strike the best balance between keeping themselves and their pupils safe, while providing the best education they can. This is impossible when the Government is keeping us in the dark. We need answers.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: When are the schools going back?

Traffic to be restricted on Chiswick shopping streets

Hounslow Council has announced it will be restricting through traffic on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road, limiting vehicle access to buses and essential servicing, in order to allow shops and restaurants to spread onto the pavements and shoppers to move about in the road with safe social distancing.

Parking spaces will be suspended, but required access to premises and some disabled bays for blue badge holders will be retained. Further parking bays will also be suspended outside the police station, to provide more space for pedestrians and cycle parking.

Changes introduced in response to Government guidance and to local consultation, says LB Hounslow

A statement from LB Hounslow said:

‘On 7 May 2020, Hounslow Council announced a whole raft of new traffic measures that it was implementing to improve road safety and help social distancing. These Streetspace projects are being introduced to create more space for people to follow social distancing guidelines in town centres, and to get around the borough safely on foot and by bike.

‘Since then, the government has released statutory guidance strengthening their requirements on councils to undertake these works and for them to be done as ‘swiftly as possible’. The council supports the government’s approach which will help ensure that traffic levels, which have recently increased, are kept as low as possible. Reducing traffic volumes and providing more dedicated space for vulnerable road users will help improve safety on the roads, support people to undertake more physical activity and help sustain recent improvements we have seen in local air quality.

‘Giving more people the option of making their journeys on foot or bike will also help keep the roads clear for those that have less choice in making their trips in a vehicle, limiting the cost of congestion as businesses start to reopen.

‘In response, Hounslow Council is accelerating its plans for a range of measures to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians (including those in wheelchairs or otherwise with mobility impairments) in town centres and to reduce through traffic on residential roads. The proposed measures have been informed by responses to the borough wide consultation that are reviewed weekly, which to date has received hundreds of contributions’.

Image above: Turnham Green Terrace, coned off to allow for social distancing

Local pressure for car ban

By far the largest number of comments the Council received from its transport consultation related to Chiswick Town Centre.

Groups such as Abundance London and the Hounslow Cycling Campaign have long campaigned for these two popular shopping streets to be car free, and for people to become less reliant on cars, favouring walking and cycling instead.

When Turnham Green Terrace was closed for a street party in September, businesses along the street were full of enthusiasm and praise for the event, reporting that it was a huge success from a business perspective. “Fantastic, a lovely atmosphere, great to see everybody out’ said John Fitzgerald, manager of Snappy Snaps, ‘the busiest I’ve seen the Terrace in years”.

Since the Covid-19 emergency, it has become obvious that people are not going to be keen on using public transport again, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged people going back to work to use it as a ‘last resort’. Michael Robinson, a member of the committee of Hounslow Cycling Campaign, argued in a guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar that it would be ‘Carmageddon‘ if residents didn’t take the opportunity to demand an end to rat-running through their streets by commuters.

Chiswick Calendar guest blogger Keith Richards said the council’s response, as set out on 7 May had been ‘pathetic’. Setting out a few traffic cones along one side was nowhere near sufficient.  ‘Turnham Green Terrace is the perfect chance to create a traffic free, pedestrian shopping space’ he argued.

Dr Ed Seaton set out the case for action here, saying it was ‘time for action not words’: ‘The Covid pandemic should fundamentally alter the way we behave, both now and in the future’.

Conservative Councillors recently revised their policy on walking and cycling. Cllr Sam Hearn, who leads for the group on transport issues, said:

“One of the few benefits of the lockdown has been the improvement in air quality. If we want to retain that benefit to our previously heavily polluted area, we need to avoid a return to normality and a surge in car use”.

In his guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar he said:

“It is sensible … that Chiswick, and the rest of the borough of Hounslow, should play its part in enabling what is known as active travel… We have an opportunity to improve our communities’.

Duke Rd  / Dukes Avenue / Strand on the Green

The Council’s statement also made reference to trying out traffic reduction in other parts of Chiswick:

‘The team is also exploring further options to reduce through traffic around the Duke Road/Dukes Avenue area and on Fishers Lane.

‘A range of trial measures in the Grove Park and Strand on the Green areas are being brought forward as part of the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood work’.

Further detail on this to be provided next week.

You can see the Council’s full statement here.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Safer Streets in Chiswick – Time for action not words

See also: Hounslow to publish proposals for south Chiswick in the next couple of weeks

 

Fire destroys Gunnersbury Park cafe

The cafe at Gunnersbury Park has been completely destroyed and the park will remain closed until at least Sunday.

The fire engulfed the cafe in the early hours of Friday morning (29 May).

“This is very sad news and will be a significant blow to everyone who uses the park and for colleagues at both councils (Ealing and Hounslow, which jointly own the park) and the Gunnersbury CIC who have worked so hard to regenerate the park and the house” said leader of LB Ealing Julian Bell.

Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to the fire at the Gunnersbury Park Café on Popes Lane in Ealing and attended at 1.00 am on Friday. Part of the ground floor and the roof of the café were alight and it took three and a half hours, till 4.30am, to bring the fire under control. There are no reports of any injuries.

The café has a historic display area, containing display items such as horse-drawn carriages, which firefighters safely removed from the building.

“Many thanks for all your help, and for saving the Rothschild Carriages!”

Tweeted a spokesperson for Gunnersbury Park & Museum.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services at Hounslow Council said:

“We were shocked and saddened to hear of the fire that took place at the Gunnersbury Park Café. Thankfully no one was hurt”.

The cause of the fire is now under investigation.

Image below: Gunnersbury Park cafe before the fire

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Two arrests over shootings in East Acton

 

Artists Stay Home – Jill Meager

Artists At Home has been a feature of life in Chiswick for decades now. The annual Open Studios by artists in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush over a long weekend in June is something many of us look forward to.

This year the artists will be ‘Staying Home’ as opposed to ‘At Home’, meaning they will not be welcoming visitors over the threshold, but they will be selling their work online instead. The Chiswick Calendar will be featuring some of the work of the artists taking part this year over the next few weeks.

Today’s featured artist is Jill Meager.

Raised in rural Scotland, Jill works primarily in response to wildlife – its resilience, its design and now increasingly its vulnerability. She exhibits regularly in London and around the UK and has been a finalist in both the National Open Art Competition and the V&A Inspired By series as well as being shortlisted for the RA Summer Exhibition.

She has designed Christmas cards for Farms for City Children and InterAct Stroke Support, and one of her hares has featured in a Michael Morpurgo short story. Her work is held at the Jane Newbery Gallery, Dulwich and The Ashburn Gallery in Ashburton, Devon. She has recently developed a range of prints, cards and gifts based on the images she has created. Jill trained at Cambridge University and Putney School of Art and Design.

“I have long been fascinated by wild creatures and I feel a strong emotional connection to them. In my portraits, I try to capture their beauty, the profound meaning of their existence and the important and often under-estimated role they play in our lives.

“On my journeys, it has been a great privilege to see hares, hedgehogs, puffins, kittiwakes and many other amazing creatures, but it has also been sad to acknowledge that many of them are struggling to cope in a man-made hostile environment.”

” It’s taken me a while to adjust to a Covid world: I thought it might be reasonably straightforward since as an artist I spend so much of my time alone, but I have missed visiting the wild places that inspire my work and I have missed people and chats and the daily interactions with the outside world that I took for granted. But on my walks, I have sketched ducklings, and so many birds, and have even had goldfinches at my bird table.

I also have a toddler in the house so he has had his portrait painted. As an artist, I am very interested in the fragility of the world – how each living thing is so dependent on a fine balance of circumstances and this fragility seems to be even more prominent at the moment. I hope it is a time to reflect on what we need to take care of in our future world.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists Stay Home – Jasna Bell

See also: Bedford Park Festival goes online

Two radio plays – premiered at the Bedford Park Festival

The XV Theatre Company proudly presents two radio plays, specially written for The Bedford Park Festival.

The Bedford Park Festival is going online this year with The Chiswick Calendar as one of several digital platforms hosting events.

Creature Features by Freya Alderson and Christina Balmer

Creature Features imagines what would happen if a journalist went to interview the pets and wildlife of West London during lockdown. What are their lives like with the humans all at home? Is their habitat disturbed by the constant ‘exercising’?

A play for all the family to listen to together, let’s find out what Gareth the overweight duck and Lula the over-excited Labradoodle have to say.

Featuring: Lucy Briers, Phyllis Logan, Veronica Quilligan, Eric Carte, Adam Leese, Andrew Maud, Kevin McNally,  John Rowe and Jeremy Vine.

Creature Features will be available to listen to on Tuesday 23 June. The link for the play will be added here nearer the time and will go live on Tuesday 16 June. For the time being, just make a note in your diary!

Images above: Jeremy Vine; Kevin McNally; John Rowe

Dusted With Sugar by Christina Balmer

In this short piece we meet two characters you might find at any church fete, anywhere in England. But are they really what they seem? Bittersweet, or sweetbitter? It’s not always what you think.

Featuring: Phyllis Logan and Kevin Morris.

Dusted With Sugar will be available to listen to on Tuesday 16 June. The link for the play will be added here nearer the time and will go live on Tuesday 16 June. For the time being, just make a note in your diary!

Images below: Phyllis Logan; Fr Kevin Morris, Vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival goes online

See also: Trio Manouche – The Isolation Sessions

Trio Manouche – The Isolation Sessions

Since our Jazz at George IV nights came to an abrupt halt with the coronavirus, The Chiswick Calendar and Jazz promoter Larry Pryce are particularly pleased to be able to present the YouTube Premiere of Gypsy Jazz band Trio Manouche presenting their new album, recorded during Lockdown, as part of the Bedford Park Festival, on Friday 19 June.

The Bedford Park Festival is going online this year with The Chiswick Calendar as one of several digital platforms hosting events.

Trio Manouche, the UK’s premier Gypsy Jazz & Swing ensemble have used their Lockdown time well, recording their hot new album The Isolation Sessions. The band is launching the album with a special online concert as part of the Bedford Park Festival in June. The concert features special guests including Italian vocalist Francesca Confortini.

Overcoming the challenges of Lockdown, in a triumph of artistic determination, the band recorded and filmed the tracks in their own home studios, editing the resulting footage into one, continuous performance in a concert style show with band leader Simon Harris debuting two brand new songs including a cheeky take on Lockdown entitled Isolate Yourself as well as numbers already well known to their live audiences.

Recording the album “kept us sane”

“The album includes new arrangements of the repertoire that the band play at various venues” says Simon, “so the album very much feels like a regular gig.

“It really kept us all sane through Lockdown as it gave us all the feeling of being connected as if we were still playing live, despite not being in the same room as each other.”

Trio Manouche play some of the most joyous music you will ever swing your hips to, full of virtuosity and infectious energy. Their sets combine the core repertoire of the great gypsy guitar legend, Django Reinhardt together with the band’s own foot-tapping arrangements of the great trad greats such as Nat King Cole and Simon Harris’s own, highly acclaimed original material.

Celebrities, reviewers and industry press regularly line up to shower the band with praise. “Excellent ……” Sting. “Exquisite ……” Jools Holland. “Class Act ……” Suzy Klein, BBC Radio 3.

This special virtual concert is available to watch, but as all the band’s income is usually from performing live, if you are able to show your appreciation via the donor box, please do. Proceeds will be split between the band, promoters The Chiswick Calendar & Larry Pryce of Live Music To Go and The Bedford Park Festival’s ‘Upper Room’ charity for the homeless.

The link for the concert will be added here nearer the time and will go live on the evening of Friday 19 June. For the time being, just make a note in your diary!

More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival goes online

See also: Two radio plays – premiered at the Bedford Park Festival

Bedford Park Festival goes online

The Bedford Park Festival is going online this year with The Chiswick Calendar as one of several digital platforms hosting events.

Festival will feature performances by a host of local stars. Phyllis Logan, Kevin McNally, Lucy Briers and Jeremy Vine are recording a new radio play for The Chiswick Calendar, and Eddy Marsan is giving a dramatic reading in conjunction with the Italian station LondonONERadio.

 

Image above: Trio Manouche ‘The Isolation Sessions’ featuring Francesca Confortini

Since our Jazz at George IV nights came to an abrupt halt with the coronavirus also, The Chiswick Calendar and Jazz promoter Larry Pryce are particularly pleased to be able to feature the YouTube Premiere of Gypsy Jazz band Trio Manouche presenting their new album, recorded during Lockdown, as part of the Festival, on Friday 19 June.

Images above: Sandy Burnett; Sophie Ellis Bextor; David Juritz

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is sharing her Friday Kitchen Disco videos with the Festival and top local musicians David Juritz and Sandy Burnett will give an illustrated talk on Bach. There will also be another chance to watch the Festival’s acclaimed poetry evening with Louis de Bernieres, filmed in 2014 by Chiswickbuzz.

The Festival will be opened by Jeremy Vine at 11.00 am on Saturday 13 June, as part of Green Days at Home. The online Craft Fair will have over 25 exhibitors, and the ‘virtual‘ Bandstand will feature performances by Chiswick Theatre Arts, ArtsEd, Stagecoach Chiswick and ‘Alan the Milkman’s band’, The BATS of Ealing – all hosted on the Chiswickbuzz website.

At the same time, the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition and Photographic Exhibition will take place on The Chiswick Calendar website.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Two radio plays – premiered at the Bedford Park Festival

See also: Trio Manouche – The Isolation Sessions

Mortgage payment holiday extended  

Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage due to coronavirus will be able to extend their mortgage payment holiday for a further three months, or start making reduced payments.

The availability of a three month mortgage holiday was first announced in March as part of a package of support for individuals, businesses and the economy. Over 1.8 million mortgage payment holidays were taken up, and the first of these will be coming to an end in June.

To give people the certainty they need, they will be contacted by their lender to discuss a way forward. Where consumers can afford to re-start mortgage payments, it is in their best interest to do so. However, if people are still struggling and need help, a full extension of the mortgage holiday for a further three months will be available as one of the options open to them.

The Financial Conduct Authority has published new draft guidance on Wednesday (27 May) for lenders which will set out the expectations for firms and the options available to their customers.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Coronavirus testing locally

Government decision not to fund free school meals a ‘disgrace’

Hounslow Council’s Lead Member for education has labelled as a ‘disgrace’ the Government’s decision not to fund free school meals during half-term.

During the Easter Break in April, free school meals were funded as many vulnerable children or those of key workers were still attending schools, and it was also recognised many low-income families were struggling to afford to pay for meals at home due to the impact of coronavirus. However, the Government has decided that it will not cover the cost over this half-term.

In a letter to the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson MP, Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services, said:

“Despite my perhaps naïve assumption, I was dismayed to learn your Department has chosen not to support children receiving a good meal. This is nothing short of a disgrace, particularly at a time when so many families are struggling financially.

“In Hounslow we have more and more families who are not working or have lost their job during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, child poverty is on the increase and for many a free school meal may be the only meal that they receive that day.

“This leaves Hounslow, and councils up and down the county, having to choose between using our own ever reducing funds, asking schools to front the cost from their declining budgets or leaving the most vulnerable young people in our community without a meal.

“I have taken the only morally right decision and the Council will be paying for this from its budget, at a cost of £75,000. Ministerial pledges to do whatever it takes to support councils and communities through this pandemic appear increasingly hollow.”

Cllr Bruce also called for clarity over the qualification criteria for free school meals next month; what schools will be expected to do over the summer break; and support for families impacted by Transport for London’s proposal to remove free travel for children.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: When are the schools going back?

Tentative return to school

The Government’s plan for schools to return is for some primary school classes to return from 1 June ‘at the earliest’. At time of writing (Thursday evening, 28 May) it doesn’t look as if any of Chiswick’s state primary schools will be back on Monday morning and across the borough of Hounslow only a third are planning on going back next week.

“It’s a very mixed picture, which is still changing daily” says Cllr Tom Bruce, Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services. He stresses that it’s down to the individual schools to decide what’s right for them and does not intend to add any pressure.

Department of Education guidelines are that primary schools should begin with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes. In Chiswick, the concensus seems to be that it’s a good idea to start with the older children first, then Year 1 and then Reception, week by week.

Image above: Children from St Mary’s RC Primary School.

Image below: Children from William Hogarth School

Logistical nightmare

Across Hounslow’s 55 primary schools, 18 plan to open in some capacity next week, 20 the following week and three the week after, with 14 still unconfirmed. Strand on the Green Infants, Belmont and Grove Park have let Tom know they’re planning to start on 8 June, while Cavendish School and William Hogarth School are looking to start at some point next week. He had no information as yet about St Mary’s RC Primary School or Strand on the Green Juniors as yet.

Schools have a lot to consider, and the picture is fluid, so parents should get their information from their own head teacher, as this is just a snap shot and tomorrow it could all be wrong, as things are changing day by day.

“I don’t envy the schools this task” says Tom, “especially the heads. Staff and parents are worried and children are worried. You tell children to abide by social distancing and they do it, but three minutes later they forget, as they are chatting to their friends. Is it realistic to expect them to remember?”

DfE guidance suggests that the classrooms are stripped down, all soft furnishings removed and a lot of the stuff which generally inhabits primary schools, making the classes look homely and welcoming, so that they are easier to clean. Children should be taught in a ‘bubble’ of 15, a cohort who stick together, in the classroom and the playground, not mixing with other groups.

A class is generally 30 kids and initially with only one, two or three year groups to deal with, there should be enough space and teachers to go round, but as more age groups return schools will either need to teach the groups for half the time – morning or afternoon only – or they will need to find more space and more teachers to keep the groups separate.

Image above: Children at Belmont School

It’s a logistical nightmare. The advice is only to have fifteen desks and chairs in each classroom so they can be well spaced, to introduce one way systems of walking about the school and staggered break times.

“It is very, very challenging” says Tom, “so schools will have to take it slowly and do it at their own pace”.

Teachers who are shielding do not have to return and he thinks heads will be sympathetic to staff who have family members who need to remain shielded, though this strays into the realm of employment law which is yet to be tested.

“There will be lots of difficult conversations” he says.

At least no one will have to bother with SATs this year. I asked Tom how many parents he thought would send their children in to school at the start. His guess was about 50%. Both Ealing and Hounslow have made it clear that they won’t be trying to make parents send their children to school and there will be no penalties if they don’t.

The Government’s expectation is that all primary school year groups will be back before the end of the summer term.

Read More on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When are the schools going back?

See also: Government decision not to fund free school meals a ‘disgrace’

Coronavirus testing locally

Mobile coronavirus test centres are being set up for Sunday 31 May and Monday 1 June, from 10.30 am-3.30 pm at the Grasshoppers’ Rugby Club, Syon Lane, Osterley, Isleworth, TW7 5PN.

There will be both walk-in and drive-through appointments which will be available to book on Friday 29 May.

Testing for key workers, volunteers and their families:

Anyone who is showing symptoms of Covid 19 who are also key workers, any volunteers working in key worker roles, those who cannot work from home and, people over 65, and members of their households are able to get tested for coronavirus and can book an appointment via the self-referral portal. Tests should be taken within five days of developing symptoms as this is when the test is most accurate.

Testing for members of the public

The Government has now extended its testing programme to include any members of the public aged five and over. Please register via the NHS website.

Once you register and book your appointment via the self-referral portal or NHS website you will receive a 16-digit code text message. At the testing site, you will need to show your 16-digit code text message to staff members as confirmation for the test.

If you have any difficulty or any questions about testing, email publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Tentative return to school

See also: Champagne Superhighway

Champagne Superhighway

House prices along London’s Cycleway routes are 80% higher than the London average, according to research carried out for letting agents Benham & Reeves. They looked at house prices along the seven cycleway routes and compared them with the average price for London. House prices along all seven cycle superhighways averaged £874,578, which is 80% higher than the current London average of £485,794.

Does that mean that proximity to a cycle lane positively affects the price of property? Do people actually seek out properties beside a cycleway route or is it just that the cycleway routes have been put through London’s most expensive areas, which tend to be bullet proof price-wise? I asked the director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr.

In truth, he said, their research didn’t really prove that cycle lanes cause an increase in the price of property. Their research isn’t that detailed, but what it certainly shows is that cycle lanes don’t cause a depreciation in prices.

“I hate cycle lanes with a passion” he said. “I like driving around London, but what our research shows is that well located properties in expensive areas aren’t negatively affected by the introduction of cycle lanes”.

So that’s good news for people who own properties near the High Rd or in Wellesley Rd. In the most expensive area where there’s a Cycleway – CS9 from Tower Hill to Lancaster Gate – properties are 150% above the London average.

“With the congestion zone and the costs of running a car and parking, I think cycling is one of those alternatives to public transport that people are looking to, and I think if you work in the City there’s increasing interest from people wanting to be able to jump on a nearby cycle lane”.

“One of the questions developers are most often asked (from people buying off plan) is will there be somewhere where I can store my bike?”

This news doesn’t really come as any surprise to Marc, he told me, as he did some research when ‘Boris bikes’ were first introduced.

“Rental properties within 200 yards of a bike stand increased the rental income by 15%” he said.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Conservative councillors publish new policy on walking and cycling

See also: Safer Streets in Chiswick: Time for Action not Words

Two arrests over shootings in East Acton

Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command (Trident) investigating two shootings in the Acton area have made two arrests.

Police were called at approximately 00.35 am on Tuesday 19 May to reports of a shooting in Perryn Road, W3. Officers and London Ambulance Service attended and found an 18 year old man suffering gunshot injuries. He was taken to hospital, where his injuries were not found to be life threatening.

The investigation is being linked to an earlier shooting on Sunday 17 May. At about 21.43 pm a firearm was discharged in East Acton Lane, W3. A 42-year-old woman suffered an injury to her foot and was treated in hospital.

A 31 year old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and firearms offences. A 19 year old man was also arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and firearms offences and was  bailed pending further enquiries in relation to this investigation.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information about either of the offences to contact police.

Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or contact via Twitter @MetCC. Please quote CAD220/19May.

To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

If you have information about this incident, or information about someone you suspect to be carrying a weapon and you do not want to speak to police, please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting their website crimestoppers-uk.org. It is 100 per cent anonymous. They never ask your name and cannot trace your call or IP address.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: More than 200 arrests made in violent crime operation

See also: Police searching for violent criminals

More than 200 arrests made in violent crime operation

More than 200 people were arrested over a seven day period in May, in continued efforts by the police to tackle violent crime.

The Territorial Support Group and the Dog Support Unit worked in conjunction with local teams on a number of operations across several London boroughs, including Hammersmith & Fulham, making a total of 222 arrests between Monday 11 and Sunday 17 May

Police tactics against violent crime in London include intelligence led stop and search and targeted patrols to disrupt crime in known hot spot areas and locations. This particular operation took place across Enfield, Haringey, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and resulted in:

– 222 arrests made
– 5 firearms recovered
– 26 knives recovered
– 29 other offensive weapons recovered
– 206 drug seizures

Superintendent Emma Richards, from the Met’s Taskforce, said:

“60 offensive weapons are now off London’s streets, as well as a vast amount of drugs, both of which could cause much harm to the public. The Senior Leadership Team for the Taskforce is very proud of the officers on our command, we could not ask for more.

“We will continue to exploit all tactics and powers available to us to suppress violence.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Two arrests over shootings in east Acton

See also: Is Chiswick in the middle of a drug war?

From Cabbie to Chiswick Concierge

Are you confined to barracks for the foreseeable?  Struggling with online supermarket delivery orders, with all their annoying gaps and “substitutions”?

You may have an alternative.

One of the recent shopping innovations to hit Chiswick is the arrival of a new black cab concierge shopping service. Run by tour-guiding cab drivers thrown out of work by the current crisis, it enables you to order goods from a variety of stores, delivered to your door the same day. The cabs are used exclusively for shopping, and drivers adopt strict health and safety measures (details below).

Drivers will go to local supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as smaller shops and delis which obey government regulations on social distancing.  If they can’t find what you want, they’ll try to hunt out an acceptable alternative in the same shop, or same area.

The Club is the brainchild of Ray Winstone (no relation to the actor).  The drivers of his Black Taxi Tour London (BTTL) team usually spend their time showing American tourists around the capital. But when Coronavirus hit, Ray says, “We went from a full order book throughout the summer to zero.”

Ray Winstone

Ray, a taxi driver for 32 years, suddenly found himself unemployed.  He wasn’t alone – with London’s streets deserted, many cabbies simply took their cabs off the road, or temporarily gave them up.  Others are trying to hang onto their taxis, but high running costs mean they’re struggling with large overheads.

“Overall, it costs between about £135 and £200 pounds a week to keep a cab on the road,” says Ray.  “You have to pay licensing, pay for the meter, maintenance.  And newer cabs cost a lot more – about £70,000, including finance.  Some drivers are paying more than £300 a week in finance payments.”

Ray started looking for alternative work.  In March, he offered his services to a Belgravia supermarket, which was struggling to keep up with the sudden surge in delivery requests. That idea didn’t pan out.  But the germ of another idea was born:  a concierge shopping service, run by black cab drivers.

According to Ray, “It quickly became obvious there was a massive demand out there.  I started speaking to customers, speaking to the other guides.  We got some leaflets printed and started working.”

He’s been joined by around 10 of his fellow drivers, who whizz around London on a daily basis, doing everything from basic supermarket shops to hunting down more elusive items for their clients. Many, like Ray, have been cab drivers for decades.

Images above: Shopping Club driver, Moses Gonzalez, at work

The Exclusive Shopping Club, as its name might suggest, does not come cheap.  The subscription currently costs £100 a week.  Perhaps not surprisingly, its clients tend to be in the wealthier areas of London – Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge … and Chiswick. But Ray stresses it’s not a profit making venture.

“It’s community-based,” he says, “a service to help vulnerable people who can’t get out and give us a tick-over, help with our running costs.  The drivers aren’t being paid ‘living standard’ wages.”

In fact, he points out, if a customer chooses to shop five times a week, the driver may only take home about £4 an hour after all his/her time spent queuing and shopping.  That’s a far cry from the £35-£50 an hour cabbies can earn on the London streets in more normal times.

And the idea is that if more people subscribe, subscription costs will come down.

The Shopping Club employs strict safety standards.

  • Drivers only use their cabs for deliveries – they don’t pick up customers in them, or use them privately
  • Cabs are sanitised before and after shops
  • Drivers sanitise their hands before and after each shop and delivery
  • Drivers obey the 2 metre social distancing rule, both in shops and when delivering

And of course, to be a black cab driver you have to pass regular enhanced DBS criminal record checks. If you’re interested in joining the Shopping Club, you can find more details at

blacktaxitourlondon.com/exclusive-shopping-club

 

Police searching for violent criminals

Following on from the witness who contacted The Chiswick Calendar on Monday about a violent altercation on Chiswick Common, and a series of burnt out cars strewn across Chiswick, there have been reports of two shootings in Acton over the past week.

The police have issued stop and search notices covering Acton and the whole of Chiswick.

‘We use this power in exceptional circumstances, to tackle serious violence and/or intelligence-led policing around possession of offensive weapons’ the latest notice says.

The police have not responded to our repeated requests for further information, only saying that there have been ‘incidents of violence’ but it seems Chiswick may be caught up in a turf war between drug gangs. Nor have they contacted the couple who called 999 to report Monday night’s incident for a witness statement.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Is Chiswick in the middle of a drug war?

See also: Car burnt out in Elmwood Rd

80th Anniversary of Dunkirk

Today (Tuesday 26 May) is the eightieth anniversary of Dunkirk, the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk in northern France, as they were hemmed in by German troops.

By rights, Princess Freda (pictured here crossing the English Channel) should have been on a week long trip over to France and back to commemorate the evacuation, as she was there. Every five years the boat, now owned by Collier’s Launches and moored at Kew Bridge, has taken part in the crossing as part in the commemoration.

Although almost 192,000 Allied personnel, 144,000 of them British, were evacuated, the British Expeditionary Force lost 68,000 soldiers (dead, wounded, missing, or captured) during the Battle for France. Winston Churchill described it as a ‘colossal military disaster’, though somehow, perhaps because of the various film and television portrayals, it has entered our collective memory as some kind of victory.

In May 1940, Lord Gort, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, realised that his effort to protect France from German invasion had failed, and ordered some 338,000 British and Commonwealth troops to retreat to the port of Dunkirk, which was surrounded by marshes and old fortifications, and had one of the longest sand beaches in Europe.

A flotilla of  around 400 small boats from all over the south of England went over to help with the evacuation. They were used to ferry soldiers from shore out to the destroyers which were unable to come in close enough to shore to pick them up.

Images above: Collier family, Danny, John and John’s son Alex, an apprentice boatman, in the middle; Princess Freda full of passengers on the Thames, photograph by Tony Lodge

The Princess Freda was built on the Isle of Wight in 1926, and has spent most of her life ferrying passengers up and down the river Thames, operating for many years in the Hampton Court area. She had been built to sail in shallow waters and so was perfect for the job. Princess Freda was commanded by sub-lieutenant ES Foreman. At some point in the mission, Freda’s propeller failed and she had to be tugged back to Ramsgate.

Danny Collier and his brother bought the boat in 2001, and spent 18 months refitting her, stripping her back to her frame and building an oak and mahogany lined saloon, to transform her into a pleasure craft taking trips on the Thames. They run up river from Kew to Hampton Court and down river to Westminster, where they have two more boats moored.

Images above: Princess Freda leaving Ramsgate harbour in 2015; Michael Bentall and Garth Wright with Royal Naval Wren Lauren

In 2015 they sailed the boat to Dunkirk as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations and were joined on board by two Dunkirk veterans, 94-year-old Michael Bentall and 95-year-old Garth Wright.

Bentall, who had served with the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, travelled from Canada for the commemorations, which he described as “quite emotional really”. Wright, from Plymouth, said he thought he would never see the white cliffs of Dover again. “I remember everything as if it were yesterday,” he said.

“What an honour to be in their company” said Danny. The family also treasures the green beret presented to them by ex Royal Marine Corporal Shaun Kent on that trip as a gesture of friendship and thanks.

Two years later the film Dunkirk came out, written and directed by Christopher Nolan which brought home to later generations just how terrifying it must have been, with the rescue boats being continually strafed by the Luftwaffe and the sea ablaze with burning oil. After queuing patiently for hours to be taken off the beach, there was no guarantee you’d make it to the naval ships in deeper water.

This year Colliers launches have lain idle, unable to work becuase of the coronavirus, and the family has had to launch an appeal to crowd fund to survive the season. The company needs to raise a minimum of £25,000 to pay their overheads, such as licenses, tax and mooring rents.

If you would like to make a donation to keep them afloat, you can do so here.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Mayday – River Thames family business sinking

See also: Could this be the last season for Colliers boat trips?

Artists Stay Home – Jasna Bell

Artists At Home has been a feature of life in Chiswick for decades now. The annual Open Studios by artists in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush over a long weekend in June is something many of us look forward to.

This year the artists will be ‘Staying Home’ as opposed to ‘At Home’, meaning they will not be welcoming visitors over the threshold, but they will be selling their work online instead. The Chiswick Calendar will be featuring some of the work of the artists taking part this year over the next few weeks.

Today’s featured artist is Jasna Bell.

“I have been focusing on painting trying to escape the avalanche of bad news” says Jasna. “It is a different time and feeling. Painting and focusing on colours, forms , lines , gesture, simplifying… I try to uplift my sense of existence”.

Jasna explores painting as a process of experience, sourcing memories and the unconscious, in which the paint marks reflect the passing time and movement of thoughts.

She says that the perpetual motion of our thoughts takes us towards a greater complexity of the world. Our experience becomes multi-layered and coloured with ever-changing perception of things. We often turn to art to find and understand our thoughts and emotions, a space to stand still in contrast to our internal chaotic existence.

Paint and brush become a vehicle to bridge the gulf between ourselves and unconscious, the canvas becoming a screen of reflection.

In the process of making, paint lends a body to this introspection and maze of sensation, the canvas being a gate of perception and realisation. In a single lifetime and even in a single day we inhibit different mind worlds and emotions. As we contemplate the rising and passing of various states of mind, we begin to liberate ourselves from reaction to and identification with them.

Contact Jasna at:
Email: jasnabell@gmail.com
Website: bellpaintings.com

To see other work by professional artists who live in the Chiswick area please go to The Chiswick Calendar’s directory of local artists.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival Summer Exhibition 2020 

See also: Bedford Park Festival Photography Competition 2020 

Do we think he got away with it?

So much for a nice quiet bank holiday weekend. Up and down the country people have been incandescent with rage that they have stuck to the rules to ‘protect the NHS’, not been able to see sick and dying family members or go to funerals, while Dominic Cummings has been up to Durham and even popped over to Barnard Castle to ‘test his eyesight’ before driving back, meanwhile stopping long enough to appreciate the bluebells.

Did he do enough at yesterday’s press conference to convince us he acted reasonably and legally? If this were a court case and we were the jury, asked to convict him of breaking the rules, I think it’s fair to say he did enough to sow ‘reasonable doubt’.

Two parents of a young child, both ill, would be worried about how their child will be looked after, and if going to see his elderly parents actually meant staying in a spare house on their farm and never actually going near them, then he didn’t endanger them in the way we might have imagined. ‘Staying with my parents’ for most people means just that, as most people don’t have spare houses on their private land.

But how silly we’ve been, not realising the rules, as set out by the Government, allowed for interpretation and meant all along that we could apply personal judgement.

He didn’t apologise. He didn’t think he did anything wrong. The rules apparently made it clear that having small children to look after constituted “exceptional circumstances”.

“The rules are not millions of pages long, setting out what to do in every set of circumstances” he said. “You have to exercise your own judgement”.

The implication is that we’re the mugs for thinking we had to obey the rules.

After a weekend of senior ministers lining up to protect Dom, culminating with the Prime Minister throwing his weight firmly behind him, saying he had “no alternative” but to travel from London to the North East for childcare, the political focus is now shifting to Boris himself and how much it affects his leadership.

Legally the lockdown is in tatters. From the outset different police forces seem to have interpreted the rules differently, with some more heavy handed than others, but thousands of people have received spot fines for breaking lockdown. Those who were arrested and charged must now be thinking they may have good grounds to get their cases overturned (although a review by the CPS two weeks ago already found that all the prosecutions under the new Coronavirus Act have been unlawful).

We had the Attorney General Suella Braverman backing Cummings, saying: ‘Protecting one’s family is what any good parent does’. When has that ever been a defence in law?

Practically speaking, the lockdown has effectively been over since Boris reduced the ‘stay at home’ message to ‘stay alert’ with people interpreting that as they see fit. I’m not a huge fan of Piers Morgan, but I think he spoke for the nation when he said on Saturday:

“I’m not having one rule for these clowns & another for the rest of us.”

That’s also the conclusion that senior scientists have come to, that if people decide the rules don’t matter, the whole Cummings debacle will result in a threat to public health, regardless if he got away with it legally or politically.

But the Prime Minister didn’t bat an eyelid in his press conference.

“I do not believe that anyone in number 10 has done anything to undermine the guidelines”

and apparently saw not a trace of irony in reiterating:

“It’s absolutely vital” that people remain self-isolating “if they have coronavirus symptoms”.

I also spent the whole of Dominic Cummings’ press conference wondering increasingly if I’d been transported to Saudi Arabia. Why couldn’t Mary drive back if they were worried about his eyesight having been affected by the virus?

A question nobody asked, until a couple of hours later when Robert Peston put it to Boris, who batted it away.

Clearly he regards the issue as closed. We’ll see.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When will the pubs reopen – and how?

See also: When working at home turns out ok

A vixen and her cubs – gallery

Lovely photographs of a vixen and her cubs by Mark Lawson @casenoter

 

New to cycling? Beware the small print when renting out a Santander Cycle

The coronavirus emergency has prompted a surge in second hand bike sales, as people see cycling as an obvious way to get around without getting too near to other people.

The use of ‘Boris bikes’ has also been on the increase. Santander Cycles, as they are properly known, were rented out in record numbers over the last weekend in April. They’re cheap to hire – just £2 for 24 hours. Unless that is, you return them late, as Francis Crighton has found out to his cost. He borrowed a bike and was charged a whopping  £92  for returning it and hour and 22 minutes late.

‘I understand how frustrating it can be to be charged an amount you weren’t expecting to incur’ writes Transport for London Customer Services Adviser Christopher Tosh.

‘I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused’ he continues, but ‘you have been charged the correct amount of £94. This is in accordance of our terms and conditions. The cycle was out for over 24 hours and therefore charged accordingly’.

To add insult to injury, TfL subsequently took a further £98 from Francis’ account, without further explanation. Francis is a student, just turned 18, with no income.

His mother is a barrister, Ann Crighton of Crighton Chambers.

‘I am not satisfied with your response’ she wrote back, ‘because charging £94 for an extra 1 hour and 22 minutes is unlawful under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

‘Basically, the Act says that terms of a contract should be transparent, simple to understand, not take advantage of a consumer’s vulnerability and should take into account a consumer’s legitimate interests’.  In other words, unfair terms and conditions should not be hidden in the small print’.

The charge of £92 for bringing a bike back late is not made clear on the signage beside the bike stand, she says.

Image above: Francis Crighton, standing beside the Santander Cycles sign, which makes no mention of the late return penalty

‘In the case of the charge of £92 for bringing a bike back late – this has not been made clear’ she wrote to TfL.

‘I went back to the sign and it clearly states that the charge for hiring a bike for 24 hours is £2. It also states that the charge for the first 30 minutes is free and an additional charge of £2 would be made after 30 minutes leading a person to believe that if they kept the bike for, say, 25 or 26 hours an additional fee of £2 is payable – not £92.

‘Underneath the large print it states that up to £300 is payable if the bike is not returned or damaged.  As my son returned the bike and the bike was not damaged, that warning of up to £300 being payable can be safely ignored. Nowhere does it state that £92 will be payable if the bike is returned shortly after the 24 hour period.

‘My point is that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 TfL cannot make a charge of £92 for the late return of a bike because that is a term/condition hidden in the small print i.e. a term that was not transparent nor easy to understand.  My son is a student with no income and charging £92 late fee in these circumstances is not taking into account his legitimate interests’.

I feel like writing ‘the case continues’. It hasn’t gone to court, but I can’t see her letting it drop.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When working at home turns out ok – Guest blog by Julia Langdon

See also: When will the pubs reopen and why?

When working from home turns out ok

Julia Langdon started working from home nearly 30 years ago after being unceremoniously sacked from her job as Political Editor at the Sunday Telegraph: ‘a “personality clash” which had found me out on my ear … I had never been out of a job and I was afraid we were all going to starve’. Looking back, considering her daily commute to the bottom of the garden, she thinks it might have been one of the best things ever to have happened to her. Journalism is probably easier than most jobs to do from home, but if you are considering making the shift a permanent one once lockdown is over, take heart from her article.

Working From Home

By Julia Langdon

As many of you have learned by now, the secret of working successfully from home is all about bums on seats. If you don’t sit down and get on with it, then it won’t get done. Some call this discipline, but what makes it work for me, as a journalist, is the deadline.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t procrastinate. I am as adept as anyone else at discovering an urgent need to walk the dogs, post a letter or turn out the bottom of the bathroom cupboard. I emailed a friend this week with the lineage I had researched on Wikipedia of a distinguished political family about whom we had been talking. “Ah,” she replied. “I detect diversionary tactics. You must have a piece to write.” Right, indeed!

Give me a deadline, though, and I’ll meet it. One of my regular occupations involves writing political obituaries and – this sometimes shocks people who haven’t thought it through – that includes writing about distinguished people who haven’t actually died. Yet.

(I have had to “do” David Cameron twice – once when he became prime minister and, again, when he left office, having by then somewhat rewritten his own story. The second time round I found myself thinking that if all goes well for him, his obituary is one that I am unlikely ever to read in print).

The trouble with this line of work, however, is that it is not often I spring from my bed and, having nothing else to do, start researching an obituary of someone who maybe isn’t even showing signs of age, let alone being unwell. Yet give me a deadline and I’ll meet it. Lunchtime Friday? That’s fine – and I’ll happily get up at 6 a.m., if I’ve somehow let Thursday go by.

Researching this piece, I have now discovered, to my complete astonishment, that I have actually been working from home for half of my professional life. I spent 28 years putting on a suit, metaphorically or literally, and going to “the office” and I’ve also spent exactly the same number of years going down my small garden to the shed. I was horrified when I was fired, 28 years ago – I had never been out of a job and I was afraid we were all going to starve – but it didn’t take long to discover the advantages of WFH.

Image above: Julia Langdon by her garden shed / office

Three months after the –er – “personality clash” which had found me out on my ear, I was offered another job, as political editor of another newspaper, and I can remember gazing across the table at the editor’s generous offer with a mixture of gratitude and downright dismay.

My brain said: “He means put on a suit and go to Canary Wharf at least once a week! It means an end to independence!” I had secured a year’s money (and the car) for the insult of my new-found self- employment; I had negotiated a continued lobby “ticket” as a Westminster journalist; and I had plenty of work. I also had a four-year-old, a six-month-old baby, sufficient help to enable me to work when I wanted and I ran my own agenda for the first time in my life. What’s not to like?

I stayed in the shed. That’s where I am today. The shed (and the baby) are both 28.

Until recently, however, I did continue to go out for work purposes. Under normal circumstances I go to parliament and pubs; I go to meet people and attend press conferences. I go to receptions and meetings and events. I go to interviews and broadcasting studios and coffee shops. Well, I did. Now I just go down the garden. Life just got a whole lot easier.

Those among you who have joined these ranks now also know, WFH has some huge advantages over the alternative. Of course, I appreciate and understand that this is not the same at all for those with babies and children at home, with no child care, no help and home schooling to organise as well. All that and maybe no garden either. Such families are run ragged. I am writing here only about my own experience of how working life has changed under lock-down and, despite the horror of the pandemic itself, staying in is certainly simpler.

No trains, no travel, no timetable. No make-up, no hair-cuts, no need to change clothes. No packed itinerary, no inadvertent running late, no cringing apologies. No stress. I miss my family and friends. I like my life but, I now realise, not all of my lifestyle. And yes I know I’m lucky.

But I have reverted to following what were once the two rules of child-rearing: Rule One: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule Two: compared to the world outside the front door, it is all small stuff. As a result I think I might also be a nicer person to be around. If there was anybody there to notice.

Julia Langdon has been a political journalist since 1971 and became a lobby correspondent in 1974. Leaving The Guardian in 1984, she was appointed political editor of the Daily Mirror, the first woman to hold the position on a national newspaper in the UK. She’s been a freelance writer since 1992.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When will the pubs reopen, and how?

See also: Continued lockdown ‘ridiculous’ or sensible?

When will the pubs reopen – and how?

Images above: One Over the Ait, Brentford; The Pilot, Wellesley Rd, Chiswick

When will the pubs reopen is the $64,000 question many of us want to know the answer to, and how? How is it possible to enforce social distancing in a boozer? Who will want to eat a meal served by someone in a plastic visor and gloves, as if they’re delivering toxic waste, albeit with a smile? There hasn’t even been social distancing among the blokes sitting forlornly outside the shuttered riverside pubs, with their bottles and cans lined up on the muddy towpath, never mind inside.

Georgina Wald, Corporate Communications manager for Fuller’s, was in the process of trying to pick her way through this minefield when I spoke to her about how the planning is going. She is one of the very few people working at Fuller’s. All the pub staff have been furloughed. And I mean all of them. I spoke to one who had only been working at a Fuller’s pub for just three weeks when the pubs were shut, who is on the books, being paid along with senior staff who have worked for Fuller’s for years, and is duly grateful for the income.

Images above: George IV, Chiswick High Rd; The Bell & Crown, Strand on the Green

“I haven’t had to let a single one of my staff go” Ben Bullman, General Manger at George IV told me.

“Fuller’s have been fantastic”.

As an experienced pub manager who has only recently come to work for Fuller’s (eighteen months ago) he is in a position to compare and contrast hospitality companies, and he rates our locally based pub chain very highly.

“It’s good to know that they actually follow through on what they promise at interview” he said.

Images above: The Andover Arms in Hammersmith; The George & Devonshire, Chiswick

Tenanted pubs not charged rent

He was particularly impressed that Fuller’s have not been charging their tenant landlords rent. The company has a portfolio of pubs managed in house, which in Chiswick include the Bell & Crown, George IV and the Pilot, and they also have a number of tenanted pubs, such as the Andover Arms in Hammersmith, the Angel & Crown in Richmond and the George & Devonshire in Chsiwick. Where other businesses are negotiating with their landlords to reduce or defer rent payments, Fuller’s have just written them off.

“Tenanted pubs have not been charged rent since March” Georgina confirmed.

Fuller’s boss Simon Emeny posts videos every couple of days keeping staff informed about the company’s thinking. They make staff aware of mental health support from the Licensed Trade charity and the pubs make an effort to keep in touch with their staff.

“It’s important that people don’t feel isolated” says Georgina.

Fiona Sparkes at the Bell & Crown runs pub quizzes on Zoom to keep up her staff’s morale. The Red Lion in Ealing has turned itself into a community shop with an Italian bent, and the Angel & Crown in Richmond produces meals for homeless people.

Staff survey – ‘How do you feel about returning to work’?

Now the staff have all been sent a survey to fill out to ascertain how they feel about coming back to work.

‘Things are changing rapidly, and we don’t have all the answers’

Fuller’s admits, but they are looking to inform their decision making by asking staff (whose opinions they say will be represented anonymously) questions such as:

‘How are you coping with furlough’?

(I am coping very well and will continue to cope even if this goes on a while longer / I am starting to struggle and hope that this will be over soon / I am finding it very difficult and my mental or physical health is suffering)

and ‘How do you feel about returning to work’?

(Extremely uncomfortable, I really don’t want to / Uncertain, but likely to be OK with some reassurance and support / Comfortable / Can’t wait to get back)

Quite what they do if everyone ticks the first box for both those questions, I’m not sure, but at the moment they are looking at reopening the pubs in July / August with a strict system of seating groups at tables socially distanced from others.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: When working at home turns out ok – Guest blog by Julia Langdon

See also: Continued lockdown ‘ridiculous’ or sensible?

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The Chiswick Calendar’s columnist wins short story prize

James Thellusson, resident of Chiswick aka ‘Man in the Middle’ has won a prize for one of his short stories.

James, who started writing the column last year for The Chiswick Calendar about his elderly mother moving in with his family, won the 2020 Sandstone Press short fiction prize for his story An Epidemic of Kindness [redacted].

Inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on the elderly it envisages a future in which government carers are billeted with the elderly and the vulnerable. The piece takes the form of a letter from the carer to her mother, reminiscent of letters from the first world war trenches.

Sandstone Press judge Dan Brotzel described the piece as ‘dystopian’ and ‘sinister’.

Thellusson said: “I am delighted to have won the Sandstone prize. At my age winning an egg and spoon race is exciting”.

I look forward to reading the story, which will be available on the Sandstone Press website from 1.00pm today (Friday 22 May).

And of course I take full credit for having spotted a talented writer!

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man in the Middle – Episode 1 The Letter

See also: Man in the Middle – Chapter 36: For whom the bell tolls

Flower Market planned for 6 September

The Chiswick Flower Market, which initially hoped to open in May, now plans its grand launch for Sunday 6 September.

A survey shows Chiswick residents are looking forward to the market becoming part of Chiswick life. ‘Chiswick needs rejuvenation’ said one who answered the survey; ‘Chiswick and Chiswickians need cheering up’ said another.

The survey was carried out throughout the month of April, by the Community Interest Company behind the idea. Nearly 400 people gave their views on the proposed market, which is to be held on the old Market Place, now the car park outside the Police Station, on Sunday mornings once a month.

Of those who responded, 82% were ‘strongly in favour’, with a further 12% ‘somewhat in favour’, giving an overall approval rating of 94%.

Most respondents (90%) described themselves as local. Many said they hoped it would rejuvenate and revitalise the High Road, and help local traders. Many expressed concern about the current state of the High Road, with many closed shops (this anxiety pre-dated the coronavirus crisis) and felt that the market offered a cheery way to give the area a real shot in the arm.

The fact that it was a community-inspired project was much appreciated, and the idea of selling flowers was almost universally applauded.

‘Let’s change the vibe in Chiswick on a Sunday.’

Respondents were asked to comment on the concept of the market. Here are some representative comments:

‘A flower market on my doorstep is a dream!’

‘Love the idea of creating a community destination event to revitalise the High Road.’

‘Chiswick needs rejuvenation.’

‘Columbia Road has generated a raft of small businesses and shops in the local area. We really need something like this for Chiswick and will needed it even more as a result of the inevitable recession that will occur as a result of the current crisis.’

‘Chiswick and Chiswickians need cheering up.’

‘Much needed addition to the Chiswick scene and a definite community asset… Excellent use of available space.’

‘Great idea to bring more life, atmosphere and colour to the high road.’

‘This proposal has the potential to bring something beautiful and economically vibrant to our area.’

‘It will bring colour, a point of focus, joy and cheeriness to Chiswick.’

‘Let’s change the vibe in Chiswick on a Sunday.’

‘It will create these shared memories and conversations that bond the community. I can’t wait!’

‘Nothing but enthusiasm!’

‘It’s simply a really positive energy-filled idea.’

Photographs above by Mark Lawson

Free home delivery using cargo bikes

Asked how people used the High Rd and how they got there, the overwhelming majority  –  86% (324)  –  of respondents said they walked to the High Road, vastly outnumbering those who cycled (13%), drove (18%) or took public transport (19%).

In response to the surprisingly few comments about loss of parking, the Flower Market intends to offer free home delivery within two miles via cargo bike for market purchases, and the delivery team may be able to carry other shopping for a small charge.

Majority said the market would make them go to the High Rd more

Asked how often they would use the Flower Market, 73% intended to visit the market every time. Only 38% currently visit the High Road every Sunday, showing a clear indication that the market would attract more people to go to Chiswick High Rd on Sundays when the market was being held.

The intention behind the market is to revitalise the High Rd, bringing more people and generating more trade for the existing businesses.

Nine people were strongly against the market. Among the fears they expressed were that there would be stalls on the pavement, disabled parking spaces blocked and the future cycle lane reducing the area or causing danger.

The layout of the market is designed so that there will be no stalls on the pavement. They will all be contained within what is now the car park, and the disabled parking spaces will be relocated nearby.

Five people who live close by said they feared congestion on Linden Gardens.

This is an issue that requires attention and the Council should think about extending parking restrictions to Sundays, something which we understand they are already considering.

A few expressed their concern that existing flower stalls had not been consulted and worried about the effect on their business.

The Flower Market Community Interest Company would like to reassure everyone that all the existing flower traders in Chiswick have all been consulted and have said they will be fully involved in the new market. Prime spots will be reserved for them. The Flower Market CIC hopes to bring additional customers to enjoy the offerings of Chiswick’s regular flower traders, who are an integral and much-appreciated part of the High Road offering.

Photographs above by Mark Lawson

Locally grown flowers

Several respondents worried about sustainability.

The Flower Market CIC is placing a strong emphasis on sustainability. Priority will be given to plastic-free, peat free, grow your own and locally grown products.

Local organisations such as the Chiswick Horticultural and Allotment Society and Chiswick House & Gardens are fully involved in the project, and have been offered stalls. Customers will hopefully be able to buy flowers and seedlings grown within yards of the High Road, as well as exciting and interesting plants from further afield.

Several respondents asked whether food could also be sold.

The team organising the market has decided to focus on flowers, plants and all things horticultural, not least because we are aiming to complement what other traders are already offering on the High Rd, and bring business to them rather than competing with them.

The Flower Market public meeting earlier in the year sparked an array of ideas – street food, a vintage clothing market and art sales, for example, which are being considered by other groups.

Easy like a Sunday morning

There were some queries about clashes with other events or whether Saturday would be preferable. These are issues which the Flower Market CIC have considered.

The survey asked what times the market should be open. 86% wanted either 9.00 or 10.00am. The team’s current thinking is to start at 9:30am, remaining open until 2.00 or 3.00pm.

Overall the survey revealed an astonishingly high level of support for the Flower Market. The team was much encouraged and is currently making use of the lockdown period honing the list of traders who might take part, poring over the licensing documents and building up the Flower market’s social media profile.

Follow us on twitter @ChiswickFlowerMarket or Instagram @chiswickflowermkt, and sign up for our mailing list at chiswickflowermarket.com

The full results can be seen on the website at  chiswickflowermarket.com/survey

The Chiswick Calendar is one of the group developing the Flower Market. Editor Bridget Osborne is one of the Flower Market CIC directors.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick House needs £1,000 a day

See also: When are the schools going back?

Live Q&A with the Leader of Hounslow Council

Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, will be hosting a live Q&A on the Council’s response to coronavirus and its impact on the borough. It will take place between 7.00pm to 8.00pm on Tuesday, May 26, via Microsoft Teams.

You can join through this link.

Residents can submit a question beforehand at communications@hounslow.gov.uk or ask it on the night. Viewers won’t be able to speak, but questions can be typed out into the chat feed.

Cllr Curran said:

“The Council’s been working incredibly hard to support our communities during the coronavirus pandemic, with staff going above and beyond every day.

“We’ve tried to keep you informed as best we can, but because of lockdown I’ve not been able to get out and about to speak to people as I’d like and we’re not able to hold public meetings.

“I know there are a lot of questions out there, both about what’s happening now and uncertainties about the future, and I want to hear about your issues or concerns directly.

“I’ll try my best to answer on the night and we’ll reply to others which I might not be able to answer or don’t get round to. So, please join if you can and I look forward to speaking to you on Tuesday.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Guest blog by Dr Edward Seaton – Time for action, not words

See also: Cllr Curran’s response to Dr Edward Seaton’s guest blog

How to serve a flat white

Buy a Lego brick to support Chiswick House

Chiswick House needs £1,000 a day

 

Chiswick House has launched a fundraising campaign to raise £120,000 by the end of September.

The Gardens, which see thousands of people and their dogs exercising daily, are expensive to maintain. The Chiswick House & Gardens Trust receives grants from the London Borough of Hounslow and English Heritage, but this only covers 25% of the everyday running costs of the estate. The rest they raise by renting out the grounds for commercial events such as the Chinese Lantern Festival and weddings.

Lost income due to the coronavirus epidemic has resulted in a shortfall of £500,000, even after many of the team have been furloughed and costs have been cut wherever possible. They need to raise £1,000 a day every day between Friday 22 May and the end of September and they are asking us to support them by

So if you value a beautiful, well kept, free resource available 365 days a year, which has won a shed load of awards and has been voted the People’s Choice of park for the last few years, now would be a good time to put your hand in your pocket!

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Continued lockdown ‘ridiculous’ or sensible?

See also: When are the schools going back?