The Mayor and locals at the Borough Road War Memorial Plaque unveiling 3.3.2023
It records the names of former Borough Road College staff and students who gave up their jobs and education to take part in World War I and World War II, killed and never returned.
The installation features an engraving and faces Lancaster House, the main college building vacated in 2006, nine years after its takeover by Brunel University, and crest of the college.
Borough Road War Memorial unveiled 14 May 1921
I raised the idea for this new plaque in 2018 because the names of those who perished were not visible locally as Brunel University had previously removed an indoor memorial to its Uxbridge campus. During 2015, Brunel had made approaches to Hounslow Council to completely relocate the whole, almost 100 years old stone memorial too but this failed as it was strongly resisted by all Ward councillors at the time.
At Borough Road War Memorial: Restored Heston and Isleworth Borough Council light column
This memorial project also coincides with the installation of a rediscovered and then refurbished lamppost of the former Heston and Isleworth Borough Council, restored and recently installed by Hounslow Highways.
The names of the dead were shared by the Brunel University London Archives whose 2014 research is available via a QR code present on the plaque allowing access of detailed biographies of those named.
I am grateful to Miss Helen Bowman, Conservation Officer at the War Memorials Trust, whose sound advice helped us bat away Brunel’s cheeky claim; Vanessa Bevilacqua and colleagues from the Hounslow Council Transport Team for procuring the plaque; Sabeel Khan of the Hounslow Council Highways PFI Team for overseeing Hounslow Highways’ renewal and connecting of the light column; Hounslow Council Communications Team’s Mr Yagnesh Nakaraja for sharing pictures.
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It is exactly a month since passing on the office of Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow to my colleague, Councillor Bishnu Bahadur Gurung, a member for Hanworth Park Ward. It is also a couple of weeks since I fulfilled an earlier request to speak at the annual general meeting of the Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association, on the subject of, Your Councillor as Mayor. What follows, is pretty much what I said.
It’s a great pleasure to be here albeit online at the Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association, an organisation with which I have spent a fair amount of time with when first a councillor in the 1990s and also these past seven years.
Glad you’re thriving and happy to support this continuing.
I have had an interesting and fulfilling two years as the 55th Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow. The capital city’s widest borough where I had the honour of wearing the current as well as historic chains one of the three different predecessor councils at each of the 340 rendezvous I was privileged to attend, almost totally within our boundary.
Although, being Mayor of this lovely borough, whatever anyone may say about its politics or sometimes less than shiny and occasional pockets of disdain, I have seen great examples of community, enthusiasm and ambition when visiting from west to east and stopping there and in between at those many engagements.
A few times, I have been asked how I became Mayor and, very recently, there have been some assumptions that I would be standing again for that office during the London Mayor and Assembly elections that took place on 6 May 2021. It doesn’t work like that, all up elections for the London Borough of Hounslow are scheduled for 5 May 2022.
Common with other councils who have a mayor, it is mostly the prerogative of the Majority Group, running the council, to choose from among their selves who the first citizen should be.
I did fancy the role, and made it known that I should like to give it a go and received the support of most (although not all) of my Labour administration colleagues.
Formally nominated and seconded by my friends Councillor Guy Lambert and Councillor Unsa Chaudri, I became the 55th Mayor on 21 May 2019, the first to be inaugurated in the new Hounslow House at a ceremony attended by family, friends, councillors, bigwigs and representatives of the two charities I picked to support and raise awareness and funds for.
I have supported the development of Our Barn Community since 2014 when I first encountered organisers and participants tending the allotments at Osterley Park and later supported their acquisition of a building there. At this and other locations, Our Barn deliver activities for people aged 16 and over particularly with autism type diagnoses mainly but not exclusively in sports and other team work which lead to skills for work and life.
As Mayor, I adopted Our Barn Community to help acquire additional equipment for their Buddy Bike project also located in Osterley Park. The aim was to raise money to at least purchase a Velo Plus bike that is built to carry a wheel chair and also a hand trike.
I was also due to reach the tragic age of sixty that year so decided to support another active local charity, the Hounslow Seniors Trust, to help enhance practical and intergenerational arts, sports, dance and cultural events from West to East. This charity, run by its borough resident participants, have been delivering the Older People’s Festival since the summer of 1993 and I wanted the Mayor’s Fund to support additional activities at other times of the year.
Having been around enough, familiar with local government and how it operates, I felt pretty comfortable with what I could and could not do.
Unsurprisingly, there were a handful of detractors. Having taken on the role, I had the odd colleague comrade attempting to compound that they always know better by trying to call the shots. The Mayor is meant to be separate from the leadership.
One or two other councillors who ought to have known or should have learned to be better would often childishly try it on at one or another of the thirteen the full Borough Council meetings chaired by the Mayor.
I was, following the July 2020 planning presentation meeting on the Tesco Homebase proposal, the subject of a formal complaint to the council’s Chief Executive by a Hanworth resident and their out of borough sidekick. A couple of white men were upset that I said that the Berkeley Homes brochure for the proposed developed appeared racist. I felt that the publication was aimed more at overseas investors and said so; its illustrations did not reflect the real diversity of the area (nor, it subsequently worked out, the developer’s true ambitions). Following a time wasting inquiry by an external investigator, I was exonerated.
Having kept to my word of avoiding a chauffer driven limo, I used the cab account on two or three occasions with the furthest journey to a civic service at St Pauls Cathedral with Councillor Mel Collins who tends to get rowdy when using the Central Line.
Other out of borough visits only extended as far as Ealing, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond Upon Thames as the guest of their Mayors. At each, and every other function, I availed myself of the Zipcars located at the council offices, my own 1980 Ford, public transport or on foot.
Due to circumstances, I and some of my counterparts had the unique honour of maintaining the Mayoralty for an additional year, offering the rare experience of insight, knowledge of process and the confidence to deliver this favoured position.
Unfortunately, however, the opportunity to extend was borne of the health disaster affecting so many of our compatriots as victims but also as saviours and supporters of our fellow citizens.
The pomp of office has been nothing compared to the sacrifices made by the borough’s key workers in health, emergency services, refuse collection, road maintenance, public transport, education, carers at home, carers in other settings, parks maintenance, public protection, child and family protection.
The innovation, effort and effectiveness of ordinary citizens, some already retired, others cruelly discarded, many just wanting to do something to help relieve the non health impacts on families, lonely neighbours, those homeless.
Already addressing hunger, poverty and other impacts of austerity, the humbling by food banks, impromptu open kitchens and the establishment of new charitable enterprises by (extra)ordinary people turned what could have otherwise been a disaster into an example of unrealised humanity. I was privileged to meet the good people of the Chiswick 7th Day Adventist Church Foodbank, Feltham Foodbank, St Pauls Hounslow West Foodbank and the Brooks of Life Foodbank as well as those stalwarts running and volunteering for the Open Kitchen on Jersey Parade.
I won’t be there to see it in the same way but I look forward to learning that the good and generous ladies of the Millan Women’s Group, the 55th Mayor’s first event, who meet at Isleworth Public Hall, will reconvene. Theirs was my first community event and unexpected but impromptu cash collection, the almost literal widow’s mite. The Singing for the Brain folk of St Mary’s Osterley will be back in fine voice. The volunteers and supporters of Chiswick Age Concern will be putting on another Christmas dinner for the 80 or so older members there in Oxford Road North. The borough’s firefighters may even deliver another one of their non stop runs to raise money for emergency service charities as they did last summer at Feltham Fire Station, organised by Isleworth’s then station officer, Lucy McLeod-Cook. All events that I had the honour to be invited to and attend.
During the Mayoralty I was honoured to celebrated my birthday on event days, with cake on each occasion. The day of my 60th in 2019, a Saturday and prior to a family celebration, coincided with an official engagement with the Osterley Lions who arranged the carers’ thank you at the Indian Gymkhana. Downhill from there for the 61st with residents and staff at Atfield House, St Johns Road.
I went there to Gift a Geranium, a way to help recognise the importance of care settings not just during Covid but throughout the year.
There is plenty more to follow up with that initiative so that we, as a community, can better appreciate carers wherever they deliver a service.
I was most chuffed to have spent time with schoolchildren in the borough. Highlights included, an in tune performance of Aladdin by the Drama Club at Oak Hill Academy Feltham was particularly impressive. There were great discussions on separate occasions with the School Councils of Grove Park Chiswick and Orchard Road Hounslow at theirs and Ivybridge Primary in the Mayor’s Parlour.
I helped honour the Feltham winners of the London In Bloom Competition as the guest of the Victoria Road School Gardening Club.
Thanking, again, the young artists and staff from both Kingsley Academy and Bolder Academy Schools for offering me choices for the Mayoral Christmas cards for both 2019 and 2020.
I helped support, along with the borough’s Royal British Legion branches and the Greater London Deputy Lieutenant, plan two years of commemorations at the ten local war memorials.
Time, tonight, prevents me from elaborating on the many Centenarian plus birthdays I attended, such as the celebration for 103 years old Vera Ward. Mrs Ward, who in the early 1980s, came out of nursing retirement first to work with refugee Vietnamese Boat people at Campion House and to later care for sufferers of AIDS at West Middlesex Hospital.
Or the Mayor’s numerous community events, connections with the borough attractions such as Kempton and Brentford steam museums, Chiswick House and Gardens (where I remain a trustee)the Musical Museum, Watermans Christmas Light Parade, Jack and the Beanstalk at the Paul Robeson, the classic car show at Hanworth where I chose the worthy 1960 Mini as winner, being very well looked after at the properly choreographed Kids in Care Awards, apple tree planting (a Feltham Beauty) at Gunnersbury, Rotary London Music Concert at the Royal Festival Hall, various Jack Petchey events for young People. Plenty, plenty, plenty more, I’ll produce a list another time.
I had a great comrade and colleague, Councillor for Bedfont Ward, Raghwinder Siddhu who as Deputy Mayor gave unstinting support, filling the voids and standing in when I could not attend events and a lovely Mayoress, Talia Louki.
I feel that I can also say that my residents of Osterley and Spring Grove Ward were not neglected. I maintained my casework and ward walks reporting the various environmental nonsense and trying to keep it at a low level. I still responded to residents’ requests for advice and assistance, attended the Ward Police Safer Neighbourhood Panel, Friends of Jersey Gardens, Friends of Thornbury Park, the OWGRA, Spring Grove and St Johns Residents associations meetings among others.
That’s about it. Happy to take questions and also catch up with more of you in person before too long.
I am still around and will continue to try to represent.
A couple of weeks ago when the Chair of Hounslow Council’s Labour Group released a statement on violence against residents in East Jerusalem, one correspondent on social media asked whether councillors didn’t have any local work to address.
A colleague, Councillor Salman Shaheenresponded with a whole rake of items that he had been working on for his residents. Salman’s retort prompted me to sincerely flatter the comrade from neighbouring Isleworth Ward.
I’m no David Frost, neither can I sing it like Millicent Martin let alone want to like Lance Percival, but here are some highlights from That Was The Week That Was from the currently longest serving councillor for Osterley and Spring Grove Ward. Fresh out of the 55th Mayoralty, allow me to explain.
A more than an occasional issue at the wee Tesco on Spring Grove Road where delivery cages take up pavement space for often beyond the visit of the big trucks. Particularly tiresome this time was the storing of these contraptions right up against one of the newly planted liquidambar styraciflua Worplesdon or Sweetgum trees. This was reported to Hounslow Highways for enforcement via Fix My Street and am assured that this will not happen again … .
The Thornbury, London and Spring Grove Roads Triangle had been a badly regulated domestic and fly tipping hotspot for a long time before 2014. Premises above shops were once accommodation for the family or staff running a business below but for many years the space has been sub divided and often short term tenanted. This creates problems for household waste storage leading to outdoor mess. The council’s recycling and waste team issue purple bags for waste from flats above shops and have placed a number of coffers at close proximity for their containment until twice weekly removal. An improvement but mainly black bags still get dumped on pavements, added to by casual or opportunistic fly tippers; I always report this stuff to Hounslow Highways for removal via Fix My Street. Occasional placement of cctv cameras does help identify perpetrators who are pursued and fined by the council.
Visited Our Barn at Jubilee Lodge in Osterley Park to drop of some items commissioned for them to sell on behalf of the two charities (Our Barn and Hounslow Seniors Trust) chosen to profile and fundraise for when I was the 55th Mayor. Their garden is looking lovely because members of the community have been busy maintaining it throughout and I got given rhubarb that day.
Following an earlier shout, was at Oaklands Avenue, within the Osterley Park Conservation Area. Calling on neighbours either side who are concerned that improvement works next door had dragged for more than two years and not entirely as permitted. The additional impacts of having an empty and unfinished house close by including rodent attraction, disconnected drainage and other fails in the property were getting them down. A member of the council’s planning enforcement team is pursuing the owner to regularise and is already communicating with residents.
On Syon Lane with contractors, Hounslow Council and Hounslow Highways back in December 2020, I noted that a pedestrian crossing included as a traffic condition for the Bolder Academy planning permission was missing and suggesting that it was dropped. No way Joseph! Happy that it was added in April for safe pedestrian access although it seems that the solar powered Belisha beacons require sunshine, reported but with the proviso that no trees are damaged in order to facilitate.
I was the guest speaker at the annual general meeting Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association talking about my time as the rollover Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow. Tales of two years, some of the 340 events attended, 13 Borough Council meetings chaired, two Remembrance Sundays each at 10 war memorials, still making time to do casework and to try to represent my residents. It was also a good reminder of the longevity of OWGRA with which I first developed a relationship during earlier planning events on the then United Biscuits site as well as working together on nonsense ambitions for other land in the Ward.
A flurry of discourse on a social media site that will not be named resulted in a few visits and chats with residents the previous week with copious amounts of pictures taken, reports made to Hounslow Highways via Fix My Street and emails to the Director of Environmental Services. The director, Mr Wayne Stephenson, already familiar with the issues rendezvoused for a whistle stop to locations from the Northumberland to Thornbury Road.
We met at Albury Avenue and on behalf of colleague Councillor Unsa Chaudri, who is currently engaged with residents on the state of pavements there. The footways, a victim of pavement parking but moreso HGVs and skip lorries delivering on this narrow crescent these past 30+ years, will be focussed on as a result.
A drive in my motor via College Road to show Mr Stephenson the loss of integrity of half its 1992 vintage speed tables since a new road coating a couple of years ago; raised by a resident who scientifically measured and compared the differences. On the ones affected by resurfacing, the current and previous speed limits were easily busted, the matter is, therefore, still live.
On to Borough Road where the previous week, more pictures of marked and unmarked road and pavement defects had been submitted after residents had been in touch. I had visited in response to folk writing, some had been fixed but wanted to show the general state before a proper response from council officers managing the Hounslow Highways contract.
Quick visits over at Thornbury Avenue and The Grove to look at other surfaces reported and then to Weston Gardens, a cul de sac with a dozen properties and equal number of defects. I had found with St Mary’s Crescent that the more a road’s potholes are reported and fixed, the further down the list a road goes for complete resurfacing; done now but it took five years since the first promise. I introduced Wayne Stephenson to my resident contact there and agreed that while the space currently appears messy, Weston Gardens is very likely to get the full treatment soon, what little pavement and carriageway it actually has.
Our last stop was at Banksian Walk, part of the former carriageway to Spring Grove House, nicely planted with an avenue of yews but currently suffering ivy creep over neighbouring boundaries and the resident had been in touch. Mr S agreed, more pictures taken and submitted with a service request to Hounslow Highways to manage the landscape plus one other to remove some graffiti on the wall there.
Sidmouth Avenue and Crawford Close, near where Thornbury Park meets the railway and a neighbourhood that has sought council support for their projects and ambitions since 2014; residents, naturally, receive my assistance. Excepting 2020, Saturday’s was the sixth annual neighbourhood tidy up and in seven years we’ve gone from a beyond brim skip to just 15 or so sacks of picked including from beyond these two roads, no longer any long term fly tips.
On the way home via Kilberry Close to check, on Councillor Chaudri’s behalf, the occasionally abused estate based recycling facility there where the council’s Recycling and Enforcement Teams have been making efforts to “educate” and “encourage” residents and managing agents alike. It’s Unsa’s case so I took pictures for her to share with the council teams.
Tuesday 25 May 2021
There. Done for now. Plenty more not to bore readers with but will be back with TW3.02 before too long. I will, naturally, welcome comments from Osterley and Spring Grove residents.
Local Democracy Week runs from 9 to 15 October and gives local people opportunities to be listened to and influence decisions.
Following a well attended Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum at Spring Grove House last Thursday, another will take place on Monday 9 October 2017 at 7.00 pm at Brentford Free Church, Boston Manor Road, TW8 8DW to mark Local Democracy Week.
Special because that evening we plan to focus on the IBAF Action Plan where each councillor has been sponsoring a particular piece of work within our area, an Open Forum devised led by young people from local schools and the input of agencies and council departments delivering in Isleworth and Brentford.
The meeting agenda has just been published and will include updates from
Transport for London
Hounslow Highways and its Hounslow Council Contracts Management counterpart
Hounslow Council Enforcement
Hounslow Council Parks
Hounslow Council Traffic and Transport.
All residents are welcome to attend and contribute alongside the area’s 12 ward councillors.
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Not remotely close to the Camden Town earthquake described by Charles Dickens in Dombey and Son but one way or another, the rumblings caused by the coming of the schools to Osterley continue to be felt.
Midway on Wood Lane, Isleworth looking south
The latest wee spat is the yellow lining debacle of Wood Lane, more on that in a bit but first some reminding context.
The Mary McCleod Memorial Academy on Wood Lane is now up and being clad, due to open in a year’s time.
Digging on another part of the site for the £9 million minority sports complex has, these past days, literally caused a stink and rumours of more gruesome finds to add to the earlier commotion caused by the removal of ancient hedgerow and trees on Syon Lane.
A couple of weeks ago, approval was given to what someone described as a “delightful” looking building but what many would confirm as another bland box to become the Bolder (might as well call it the Bona) Academy. Why not pay homage to its location? Doesn’t Osterley deserve a name check with all that has been foisted?
Very few people have difficulty in accepting the new Osterley Comprehensive locating on the former United Biscuits sports ground on Macfarlane Lane; hardly touching the green stuff. Uniquely, in these parts, it will not select pupils based on religions, will accept from both gender and likely not to live as far away as those attending St Mary’s.
With some major planning applications, plenty expertise is often developed by ordinary people who at some point are likely to be affected by the ultimate decision. One common thread in all these (costly) free school applications is how the pupils will be delivered and despatched either side of the school day. The key theme in scrutiny of recent and upcoming (Green School for Boys) planning were and will be traffic impacts and should another school receive approval, there will be five schools, each with over 1,000 students within a mile and a half radius of each other.
The problem that is most likely to occur before very long is that with a local public transport accessibility level of almost zero, there will be more than a temptation to bring children to the schools by car via the already congested Syon Lane and Gillette Corner.
In planning terms there’s always mitigation, soft in most cases. School travel plans are often cited as a salve but as can be seen from the June 2017 Nishkam School West London Travel Plan, 75% of their scholars are taken by car. Travel plans often look good on paper, not able to foresee the future but appear to tick planning boxes. In reality, there is no substitute for spending money on infrastructure but this has been scant in Osterley despite the recent demands for its open space.
When the Bolder omies punted their building proposals at the Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association’s open meeting in December 2016, attended by the leader of the council and the head of planning, a second route from Harlequin Avenue via Great West Road was included, understood and appreciated. Despite later citing Grant Way, by the time it hit planning, the only access to the school site would be from Macfarlane Lane via the already and soon to be more strained Syon Lane. The scheme’s architect gave a less than convincing and more than half assed reason as to why the much diminished route would be optimal.
So, what about the Wood Lane yellow lines that appeared with no warning on 4 August 2017? It. Was. Not. Hounslow. Council.
The pooch was actually screwed by the government quango, the Education and Skills Funding Agency contractor, BAM and installed without any local arrangement or discussion with the council. After the event, BAM’s Nishkam School project manager wrote, “I’m sorry for the trouble this has caused you and hopefully it can be fully resolved through the consultation” or in other words, “we messed up, you sort it out”.
The council’s traffic team were prepared to consult on yellow lines for Wood Lane largely due to recent haphazard parking on this narrow width and paved road, reported by residents but BAM stole their bluster.
Proper consultation will shortly take place on this proposal and until this is complete [to avoid damage to the road] the lines will not be touched but neither will they be enforceable. Residents are encouraged to respond and alternative suggestions will be considered.
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Hounslow's streets and street services are having a major make-over. If you have problems or questions concerning any aspect of this work then please contact <a href="https://fms.hounslowhighways.org/.