Monday, 15 August 2011

Three Months Go West

Other than a post for the sake of a post towards the end of June it occurs to me that I've not updated this blog now for over three months.

One or two of those few who noticed have asked me why this is. The simple answer is that I have just been too busy - busy trying to earn a living, busy with the kids, busy being busy.

During this short period I have been away once again to my beloved Isle of Wight, staying at the Park Resorts site Thorness Bay with the family. It was the first time in a couple of years that we'd been based at Thorness Bay despite having visited the site once or twice since. More recent trips to the Island have involved stays at Landguard, Rookley Country Park and Gurnard Pines. Whilst I like all of these sites there was a certain "coming home" feeling about spending four nights at Thorness after such a long absence.

I have also undertaken to do a 95-mile sponsored walk between Isleworth and Abingdon along the Thames Path early next month to raise some funds for the sports department at Joe's school, St. James School for Senior Boys in Ashford. St. James has been really kind to Joe, and to us his parents, and I wanted to do something to repay that kindness. For more details of the proposed walk please see my new sponsor site at

If you would like to sponsor me by making a donation, no matter how small, so much the better and many thanks. Please just follow the instructions on the site.

Oh, and on Friday the doctor confirmed to me that I have Type 2 Diabetes. Whether it was knocking 80% of the alcohol on the head, losing nearly two and a half stone, improving my exercise routine or adopting a low-fat vegetarian diet that brought it on I guess I will never know.

On the community front things are relatively quiet. The ICG has circulated a newsletter throughout Syon and Isleworth wards to leave our calling card but the libraries are still open and residents continue to organise over issues of concern such as a proposal to open a Sainsbury's store in South Street, which would be devastating for many local businesses.

More on this, and other things, anon.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Phil and a couple of observations from your closing remarks to welcome you back.

You clearly sympathise with the traders of South Street regarding the 'threat' of Sainsburys moving in, yet on the TW8 forum back on 30th June (Windmill Road Development thread), the chairman of the ICG opined that converting the disused Kings Arms pub into a Sainsburys Local store was "Quite a good development".
Moreover, he seemed somewhat scathing of those opposing the plan.
What is the official ICG stance on this issue - have you got one ?

Similarly regarding our libraries, an announcement was made way back in April that a more detailed consultation would take place during "The Summer" but LBH were unable/reluctant to provide an exact date.
It would now appear that this has completely disappeared from the radar and not likely to be re-visited this YEAR, never mind this Summer !
Can't help thinking something fishy's going on at LBH headquarters, would any of our new local councillors be prepared to spill the beans I wonder ?

Finally, congratulations on losing two and a half stone - almost an entire bum cheek !
(Gratuitously unkind comment spawned by the inability to differentiate between an excuse and an explanation)

Phil Andrews said...

I obviously missed Ian's comment on the Windmill Road thread but I know he is personally sympathetic to the proposed Sainsbury's development and he is entitled to his view.

My own opposition to it is rooted largely in my commitment to local traders, a great many of whom have been on the frontline of community activity in Isleworth.

South Street is a small, unique but perpetually threatened business community which would probably not survive the imposition of a store of this nature.

As one who believes in conserving village and small town communities and in resisting the relentless drive to transform them into just another faceless "Anytown" shopping zone I consider my duty as a community activist to be to stand by our local traders.

As for the libraries, as far as we are concerned they stay open. Or as we say on the West Middlesex - "it isn't a problem, the answer is no".

Anonymous said...

A similar situation exists just across the border in Whitton.
A somewhat past its prime high street, few regular patrons and most traders struggling.
However, the prospect of a 'metro-sized' Sainsburys AND Lidl store moving in is being welcomed with open arms.
Rather than instantly bemoaning unfair competition, doom & gloom etc etc, the traders realise that their new neighbours will bring more people to the area and they could exploit this to revitalise their businesses.
A win-win scenario surely ?

How exactly are the traders of South Street going to attract much needed custom back into their fold ?

Phil Andrews said...

I think Whitton is different to Old Isleworth. It already has many chain stores and household name retail outlets.

Old Isleworth is a small, more traditional area. It has a disproportionate number of grocery shops which are the ones that will be the hardest hit.

There is also a feeling that the council is likely to see the standardisation of the shopping area as a way of breaking down or softening the unique community spirit that it has. Remember the logisitical contribution many of these shops made on the day of the libraries march.

At the end of the day I think my own approach would be to be guided by the traders. They are likely to have a better handle on whether the introduction of a Sainsbury's is likely to be a benefit or a disbenefit to their parade than any council officer, planner or politician.

As you know I have spent the best part of two decades fighting "we know what's best for you" politics. As such my support is for the traders.

As for any "official" ICG stance I guess you will have to ask the Committee, which I am no longer on.

Anonymous said...

South Street 2011 is certainly 'unique' - hardly anyone shops there and it has long ceased to satisfy the traditional idyll which you so fondly allude to.

So few retail units, yet four cafes, three grocery stores, two chemists and two dentists (not to mention three public houses).
With such a lack of diversity compared with South Street of yesteryear, you really have to question how well the local community is being served by the current configuration.

South Street of say 1971, had a much better balanced blend of businesses which actually complemented each other instead of competing against each other.
It was a viable retail village, where you could get most things you needed without having to trek into Hounslow.

Sadly the range of goods and services on offer now is so limited, most people simply go to Hounslow.
Accordingly, I can't see how a small Sainsburys store will make the situation any worse.
It'll at least bring more people to the area and other traders don't HAVE to try and compete with them - they can choose to sell things THEY don't !

South Street's been in terminal decline for years, this could be just the tonic it needs.

As for your departure from the ICG committee - you can't, you musn't, you're historical !

Anonymous said...

I see development of the new Sainsbury's is now under way, with such inevitability afoot, do you know when the expected opening date will be?

Sunny luthra said...

I really missed Ian's comment on the Windmill Road thread