Chiswick Homefields ward councillor Patrick Barr on his week
Cllr Patrick Barr
Greetings from Aberdovey, Wales. It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog due to an exceptionally busy time in my role as a nurse, working right through the pandemic. I write this on my first time on leave since February, working day (and, on occasion, night). Needless to say, despite the NHS remaining stretched because of socially distanced beds, it is beginning to calm down and we are returning to a new normal of face masks and visors to mitigate an ongoing risk to patients and staff. I have not known of a symptomatic or a positive Covid-19 patient for several weeks now and I hope it stays that way.
As I write, there have been a further 10 deaths in hospitals in England bringing the total number of reported deaths in hospitals in the country to 29,212 (22.7.20). This does not include deaths in care homes, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which, if included in the death count, brings the total number of deaths in the UK to 45,330 (22nd July 2020). Each and every one of these deaths was a person who had a family. We must look beyond the statistics and remember those who have died and the friends and family they have left behind.
The danger has not passed and, if we as a community don't abide by the government guidelines, we could face our very own micro lockdown. From this Friday, if you are aged 11 and above, you will be required to wear a face mask in all shops and supermarkets as well as on public transport (where wearing face masks became compulsory on 15th June). If you are between three and 11 years old you can wear a mask if you want. Face coverings are part of the bigger picture and you need to be fully compliant to stay safe – continue with handwashing and social distancing.
Like my colleagues, I continue to receive and address casework through the pandemic. Normal council meetings were suspended in March and I have found it difficult to attend the video-conference weekly briefings by senior staff as they were all held during the day. But I have been able to attend online evening meetings of the Conservative Group which have kept me in the loop about what is going on.
Cllrs Joanna Biddolph, Gabriella Giles, Anthony Young and I (the Chiswick Shops Task Force councillor team) are delighted that our retail report has been released. It is a great read containing numerous policy recommendations and ideas to revitalise Chiswick's ailing retail economy. It was dipping before Covid-19 and has since taken a bigger hit. I hope this report will go some way to helping Chiswick and other retail economies in Chiswick's two boroughs, big and small, to bounce back. Rather than doing your shopping online, I encourage you to shop at our local independents. It's great fun!
In August, we can all Eat Out to Help Out on Mondays to Wednesdays, taking up the government's discount scheme to help revitalise our retail economy. Spend £10 on food and soft drinks and you will be charged £5; the other £5 will be reimbursed to the café/restaurant by the government. Look for the signs in participating businesses. And, you'd expect me to say this given my role in the Chiswick Shops Task Force, I hope you might shop in our local independents on the way there and back. They have gone to enormous lengths to meet social distancing and hygiene guidelines so we should do that, too.
In recent weeks I have received emails from residents expressing their anger at the new traffic schemes being proposed and introduced, particularly those for Devonshire Road, Turnham Green Terrace and Fishers Lane. There have been mixed messages from Hounslow council as to why this is happening. I saw a post on Cllr Hanif Khan's Twitter page a few weeks ago where he was talking about a self-watering road block on Devonshire Road for the anticipated excessive road users post-lockdown and the need for social distancing measures. Were they using COVID-19 to block off Devonshire Road? Cllr Dunne then said to me, do you not agree that there is a climate emergency? Are the road closures because of COVID-19 or the climate emergency? Which is it?
Turnham Green Terrace is now access only (for loading/unloading) and for buses plus parking for disabled people, to the dismay of the many traders who relied on customers being able to take up the free 30 minute stop and shop parking and of residents who now have to go on long-winded circular journeys to avoid the road, creating more congestion, and its inevitable pollution, on our other roads. Worse still is the bodged introduction of these major changes. A case in point is the left turn from Bath Road onto Turnham Green Terrace – something now prohibited but few could see the sign obstructed by the bus stop. As a result, people will be fined. Hounslow is looking to relocate the sign – but why was it put up in such an invisible spot?
And now there's Fishers Lane. On 29th July Fishers Lane (in a traffic scheme initiated by Ealing Council but which will affect Chiswick's Hounslow residents) will close, causing inevitable gridlock in other roads including Acton Lane and South Parade. How is this going to work? As with the other road closures, there has been no consultation, in defiance of Government guidance.
As a group we will continue to campaign for traffic and parking changes that meet the needs of the community in the light of COVID-19. We will oppose those which impose unnecessary difficulties on local businesses and which disrupt the lives of residents while failing to tackle congestion, pollution and speeding, all of which blight Chiswick.
As always please contact me at any time at email@example.com or on 07976 703263 for anything I can help you with in my role as your councillor.
Cllr Patrick Barr
VIRTUAL DATES FOR YOUR VIRTUAL DIARY
Most council meetings have been cancelled. A few are taking place virtually and residents can attend online. Joining instructions will be on the council website, in the agenda reports pack for each committee, here.
4th August at 3pm: Licensing panel
6th August at 5pm: Planning committee
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLORS
Surgeries have not yet been reinstated. When they resume you will be able to meet a councillor in Chiswick library every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am and on the first Saturday of every month at the Gunnersbury Triangle Club from 10.00am to 11.00am. You can, of course, still contact your local councillors by email or phone; see their contact details below:
Chiswick Homefields ward
Cllr Patrick Barr
Cllr Gerald McGregor
Cllr John Todd
Chiswick Riverside ward
Cllr Michael Denniss
Cllr Gabriella Giles
Cllr Sam Hearn
Turnham Green ward
Cllr Joanna Biddolph
Cllr Ranjit Gill
Cllr Ron Mushiso
July 25, 2020