1) Hounslow Covid 19 Mutual Aid volunteering – following on from LBH’s call for volunteers BV offered to support our community during lockdown. This included finding suitable accommodation for making scrubs for carers, room offer, fiscal hosting offers, helping to form local neighbourhood support groups offering and advice whenever asked.
2) Support for the Hounslow Community FoodBox. As the pandemic deepened this had a huge impact on many of our resident’s lives through loss of income and jobs. BV campaigned hard through social media to raise funds directly and we transferred over £280 to them via our PayPal collections. This was further supported by a plant sale, book sale, and a Christmas quiz which collectively raised a further £1200.
3) The Covid-19 pandemic threw into light the significance of strong, resilient communities and their ability to respond to a crisis. Within Hounslow, the relationship between the council, the community and the VCSE sector was rapidly redefined, with partnership working at the core of the response to the pandemic. BV participated in several workshops held by LBH’s consultants, most notably through providing detailed comments on LBH’s Climate Change Emergency Action Plan, critique of LBH’s Air Quality Action Plan and through Membership of the Climate and Clean Air Community Reference Group.
4) Planning applications – BV have provided extensive comments to LBH on a number of proposals including the planning applications for St. Lawrence’s Church and surroundings. We also made extensive comments to LBH on the pursuit of planning breaches by Ballymore – Rye by the Water/Brentford Project offices, and the use of The Ham as a primary route for construction vehicles. BV has also worked closely with other local groups including Brentford Community Council and OWGRA. Topics included the Tesco and Homebase proposals, various planning applications, the Town Centre review, and detailed comments to Government on the Planning White Paper. A final note on planning: BV lobbied with lots of environment-related comments on Planning Applications – and contributed to achieving a major success in getting LBH to agree no new gas boilers on any of their proposed developments.
5) As an adjunct to our work on all things planning we do provide a BV “Developments in the Pipeline” – monthly update to TW8 regarding major developments in Brentford, do please look out for it as it’s very comprehensive.
6) In the middle of the year we established a Ballymore Liaison Group made up of resident’s associations, amenity groups, local businesses and key stakeholder groups from across our community. The purpose of the group is to meet with Ballymore’s senior management team with the aim of creating an informative channel of communications to create a harmonious pathway for both Ballymore and the wider community. The group meets every quarter with two meetings already having taken place and these will continue throughout the duration of the project.
7) The BV committee have also opened up a channel of communication with Brentford and Syon Councillors and we have now met twice via Zoom over the past few months. The format is that we provide questions in advance on local issues and they then respond. This works well and clearly forms part of LBH’s desire for better engagement with the community.
8) Because of Covid restrictions on public meetings BV felt it was important to try and gauge our community’s thoughts on several issues. We carried out two surveys, a Community Survey in July and Brentford Identity Survey in November. Both were very informative and interesting not only to us but also with LBH who we’ve shared them with. As LBH come forward with their High Street and Town Centre reviews in the New Year we hope that both these documents will provide insightful and useful information in helping to establish the future of Brentford.
9) BV have very recently compiled a document ‘A Vision for Brentford’ in response to LBH inviting local communities to have their say on the future of the borough’s four main town centres including Brentford. The council initially invited participation through an online survey, however BV thought that it was somewhat limited in its application and needed a more comprehensive response hence our response. We are told that BV will partake in workshops in the New Year and very much look forward to getting involved.
10) Gunnersbury Park Bowls Club – BV have offered our support to the Bowls Club in resisting the current proposals for change of use of a 90 year-old community facility to a crazy golf course and cafe/pizzeria. We have made a Grant application to the Mayor of London’s Active Londoners fund on the club’s behalf should the club be successful in retaining their occupancy.
11) Post Office – we have actively been pursuing the return of a post office directly with the PO to Brentford following its demise with the demolition of the shops south of the High Street.
We did help with a petition to reinforce the argument and at the time of presenting it we were told that Costcutter was to be its new home. This is now not the case but we’re assured by the PO that they are reviewing a new candidate. We see this as an essential requirement for many reasons and will continue to pursue this important issue.
12) We have made a proposal to LBH that a memorial garden should be created to mark those lost from Brentford in the Covid pandemic. This was initially well received as a thought and LBH have promised to come back on this next year.
13) As revealed following an appeal by Watermans Art Centre there’s clearly a requirement for an arts/cultural offering in Brentford. BV have been carrying out a cultural survey and we are actively pursuing a conversation with Watermans to explore how we can retain this offering for the immediate and far future.
14) Finally, the Christmas Tree/Lights and Christmas Market. BV persuaded Ballymore to install a Christmas tree and lights which they gladly did again this year. We also gave our support for the Christmas Market Place event again in liaison with Ballymore who created an extension to the Market on the Blue Rd. As a gesture of seasonal spirit BV subsidised to cover the costs of all stallholders in the Market Place.
And last, but not least, these are the initiatives and events where the pandemic precluded them happening, however we will revisit them in the New Year!
- Restoration and relocation of the Brentford Fountain – initial application to HLF was well received. Stalled by Covid.
- Brentford Heritage Trail – application to Thriving Communities Fund. Stalled by Covid.
- Brentford Canal Festival – Stalled by Covid
- Line dancing event – Stalled by Covid.
With the arrival of vaccines we hope that at some point in 2021 normal, or as near as normal, service will be resumed and we can start to meet again and to make Brentford a better place in which to live, work or visit by – ‘People who do something’.
Thank you for your continued support and very Happy New Year to one and all!
- VCSE: Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise sector
- OWGRA: Osterley & Wyke Green Residents Association
- Brentford TW8: http://www.brentfordtw8.com
- Brentford Voice Website: https://brentfordvoice.co.uk