22 December 2007

What Tory Cabinet wants for Christmas

One of Father Christmas's elves has leaked the Tories' secret santa stocking wishlist. Now hfconwatch can reveal what the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham wants for Christmas:

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh: a borough of opportunity with free mince pies for all those earning over £250k a year

Cllr Nick Botterill: lots of higher fees and charges and a new train set

Cllr Mark Loveday: an airfix model of Hammersmith town centre complete with squashed strawberry and removable extensions

Cllr Frances Stainton: a pair of ice skates and a map of Shepherds Bush

Cllr Adronie Alford: old Mother Hubbard's shoes for a Crisis

Cllr Antony Lillis: more savings in the January sales

Cllr Greg Smith: DVDs of Z Cars, The Sweeney and The Bill

Cllr Paul Bristow: a pair of boxing gloves to use in the park and a shuttle bus to get there

And for Santa's helper, Cllr Harry Phibbs: a new pen to write more letters to the local press

Heartless Tories fail Christmas challenge

As reported by the Evening Standard, H&F Tories have refused to even talk with Crisis about a setting up a refuge for homeless people over Christmas at the BBC.

For the full story, go to:


Let's hope the Tories don't have to spend too many nights out on the streets in the freezing weather this Christmas.

17 December 2007

Going nowhere

H&F Tories suddenly want a transport summit to deal with impending gridlock in Shepherds Bush. Which is all a bit rich after they opposed every measure in recent years to improve public transport in west London.

And now they are surprised that Shepherds Bush central line station will be closed for eight months from February so it can be upgraded for the Westfield development.

Where have the Tories been? The last year has already seen traffic go-slow around Shepherds Bush Green with mysterious lane closures with no 'men at work'.

Council kills mobile library service

For the full story read: http://www.ourfulham.co.uk/OurFulham/Home/Entries/2007/12/16_Council_Kills_Mobile_Library_Service.html

As Our Fulham website says, why would anyone using the mobile library service want to use a replacement shuttle bus?

Another Tory con.

16 December 2007

Seasonal requests please

What does the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham want for Christmas? And what should their new year's resolutions be for 2008?

Please send your suggestions to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

15 December 2007

hfconwatch review of the year

Rather than write another blog about how awful Hammersmith & Fulham Tories are, here are the top five stories of the year on hfconwatch (as based on reader visits):

20 January: Tory junk mail recycles council propaganda

18 March: Correction: pay rise was 'an administrative error'

23 April: Council in chaos as Tories back down on school closure

21 September: Secret leader's speech leaked

21 October: Psssst: voulez vous acheter une ecole?

There was also a very popular story about Greg Hands' research assistant.

* Send your favourites to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

07 December 2007

Tory cons on council tax

H&F Tories are blagging about a small cut in the council tax. What they fail to tell the media is that local residents are also having to pay higher fees and charges for local services - from meals on wheels to recycling with plans to introduce charges for home helps.

And the Tories say they are cutting waste. Which is not how most people would describe the schools that are being closed, the home care services that have been chopped, the street cleaners that face the sack, the charities that have been cut, the mobile library service that has been scrapped and the community buildings that are being sold off. The list goes on - see previous blogs for the real story.

Finally the Tories say their performance is improving despite the cuts. Well, the 4 star rating in 2006 covered the last year of the previous administration - this year's verdict is awaited with interested.

These may be inconvenient truths for the Conservatives but they are the reality of 18 months of Tory rule in Hammersmith & Fulham. Beware Tory cons about the £34 million cuts in local services.

02 December 2007

Scrooge makes an early appearance

Scrooge makes his first appearance this Christmas in Hammersmith & Fulham when the Tory cabinet meets on Monday 3 December.

Hundreds of council jobs will be privatised by the cabinet as they try to make short term savings. And hundreds of other council workers will have a very unmerry Christmas waiting to hear what will happen to their jobs when the waste services contract is awarded.

Surprisingly the Tories haven't scrapped the annual Christmas Day lunch for older people. That would have been a step too far, even for H&F Tories.

Town hall plans put blind residents last

Tory plans to demolish Hammersmith Town Hall extension and redevelop the surrounding area have angered blind residents who facing losing their homes as a result.

The tenants of charity Thomas Pocklington Trust in Cromwell Avenue are disgusted by the Tories' plans which could include more supermarkets and the loss of the King Street cinema.

But they are also disgusted that again the Tory council puts residents last.

25 November 2007

What a waste

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are to be spent by the Tory council to monitor contracts for newly privatised services in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The Tory cabinet is due to agree the privatisation of the grounds maintenance service at its meeting on 3 December.

That meeting was also due to agree privatisation of waste management and street cleaning in the borough but the decision has been delayed because the bids were all higher than expected. So the council will now try and cut the costs further by reducing the service to be provided.

And H&F will become the even dirtier borough.

21 November 2007

Conservatives hit planning problems

The Planning Applications Committee of Tory Hammersmith & Fulham Council this week considered an application from the South Fulham Constitutional Club (SFCC) to build four town houses on an underused part of its site. Similar houses in adjacent streets sell for up to £2 million each.

Last November the SFCC, which is similar to a Conservative Club, donated £4,999 to the local Conservative Association.

At the start of the meeting the vice-chair of the Committee declared a preducial interest and said he would leave the room for this item (he, the chair and five other members are Conservative, three are Labour Councillors).

The Labour members said all Conservative members should declare prejudicial interests and should also defer the item to the following meeting. The Conservative members (save the vice-chair) adjourned the Committee for a few minutes to discuss this. They returned to say they could proceed. The application was then approved. The five Conservative members voted for, the three Labour against.

This matter is being reported to the Standards Board for England.

PS: Last year – against officer advice – the Tory members of the same Committee gave consent for an extra flat in a property being converted by a former Tory council candidate. Last month the Tories gave retrospective consent (at almost 1am in the morning) to a developer who had built an extra 40 flats in at Imperial Wharf, a luxury riverside development, for which they did not have consent.

Is Phil cross with Greenhalgh?

The Guardian's education diary has reported that the Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham announced proposals to merge Hurlingham & Chelsea secondary school with a French school - without telling the school's head or governors.

For full story see: http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,,2213563,00.html

18 November 2007

Parking chaos predicted for Fulham games

New parking restrictions introduced by the Tory council around Fulham Football Club come into effect on 17 December.

Already there are predictions of chaos at Fulham's home matches. Check out the new OurFulham website for the full story:


17 November 2007

Brace yourself for more cuts and closures

Just as babies cry, cats meow and dogs bark, Tories cut public services.

The first signs of more cuts, closures and higher charges in Hammersmith & Fulham were signalled this week by Tory councillors promising tax cuts.

Already the Tory council has announced £34 million cuts in services from 2007-10 and more will be announced in the coming weeks to pay for a small tax cut. Services and community organisations are being destroyed to pay for a 50p a week reduction in council tax.

At the same time key local services like street cleaning and refuse collection are threatened with privatisation. And the council's star rating could plunge as the cuts hit delivery of services and the borough gets dirtier.

Academy plans under public scrutiny

Cathnor Park Area Action Group is holding a public meeting this week to examine Tory council plans for a £20 million-plus academy for 780 11-18 year olds on the former Stamford House site (see previous blog).

Large numbers of local residents are expected to attend the meeting on Thursday 22 November at 7pm at Greenside School, Westville Road.

11 November 2007

New school 'at £20 million plus'!

While Hammersmith & Fulham's Tory council is making £34 million cuts in local services, it has announced plans for a new secondary school costing over £20 million.

The proposed school will take 780 pupils on the former Stamford House secure unit site north of the Goldhawk Road.

Local residents are already concerned about the impact on the surrounding area and existing facilities. Other schools will be worried about the drain on resources.

Sands End bears the brunt

Sands End ward might have been won by the Conservatives at the 2006 council elections, but the southernmost ward in Hammersmith & Fulham seems to be a major victim of Tory cuts and closures.

Education was first. Peterborough primary school is being closed. And the future of Hurlingham & Chelsea secondary school is still in doubt, with priority shifting from local pupils to serving French families.

Now other local facilities are going. The Castle Club which hosted services for children and young people is being closed and sold off. Next the Sands End laundry is threatened with closure.

In the meantime Tory councillors have let off the developers at Imperial Wharf for building more flats than planning permission allowed. And still the local infrastructure is sadly lacking to deal with the influx of new residents.

'Borough of opportunity' falls flat

Tory plans in Hammersmith & Fulham to get council tenants to move out and buy properties are failing because no one wants to take up the 'social homebuy' scheme.

This lack of interest led to the Tory cabinet considering a report at its last meeting to increase the financial incentives available to tenants. Never before has so much housing money been devoted to so few people.

But Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the leader of the council who has been championing the policy as part of his so-called 'borough of opportunity' programme, pulled the report at the cabinet meeting. Time for a rethink!

31 October 2007

Has anyone seen Greg Hands?

H&F Conservative MP Greg Hands seems to have gone missing - just when local residents need him to stand up for their concerns.

Where was he last night at the council's planning applications committee when it considered some of the most controversial developments in the borough? Did he support the hundreds of Hammersmith residents concerned about the over-development of their residential area to oppose the Armadillo office and entertainment complex (for full report see http://thecowanreport.blogspot.com/)?

Where was Greg Hands when parents and children needed his support to fight plans to close local schools?

Where was the Tory MP when hundreds of older and disabled people lost their home help service thanks to council cuts?

Perhaps he has been playing hide and seek?

Please report any sightings of Greg Hands MP to hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

Tory council backs down again

H&F Tories have backed down in the face of huge public opposition to their plans to turn the borough's main parks into regular havens of music, drinking and ancient sports.

Just 48 hours after receiving the hfconwatch Giant Haystacks award, the Cabinet member for Residents Services, Cllr Paul Bristow has conceded that it was not a good idea for the council to apply to host boxing and wrestling in Ravenscourt and Bishop's Parks.

Cllr Bristow made numerous other concessions to what must have been the most misguided licensing application in recent years (see previous blogs). But local residents are still concerned that alcohol will be available at events in the parks.

28 October 2007

hfconwatch awards mark blogging century

Thanks to the inspiration of the Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham and its many cuts, blunders and misdemeanours, hfconwatch is celebrating its first anniversary and 100 blogs with its inaugural annual awards.

These are awarded to the Tory councillors (and their friends) who have created the biggest impressions in the last year:

The Giant Haystacks award: this is not to the council's esteemed leader but to Cllr Paul Bristow for his efforts to host wrestling contests in the borough's parks

George W Bush Statesman of the Year award: to Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh for his powerpoint state of the borough address

The Less for More award: to Cllr Nick 'secret budget' Botterill for introducing new and higher fees and charges for council services

The Prime Cuts award: to Cllr Antony Lillis for selflessly putting cuts in local services before his career

The Half Cut award: to Cllr Antony Lillis for not introducing charges for home care yet...

Services to the Voluntary Sector award: surprisingly not to Cllr Antony Lillis, but to Shaun Bailey for creating new charities

The New Tory award: also goes to Shaun Bailey

The Secret Policeman's Bill award: to Cllr Greg Smith for his plans to pay for 24/7 policing

The Anything Goes award: to Cllr Mark Loveday for his approach to new developments in Hammersmith

French Lessons award: to Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh for making H&F known as Hammersmith et Fromage

The Headteachers' award: to the Fulham Schools Commission for the proposal to create 'a merged single sex school' on one site

Salesman of the Year award: to Cllr Mark Loveday for shamelessly flogging off many of the borough's historic assets

The Nasty Niche PR award: to Cllr Paul Bristow for drawing residents' attention to grotspots

The Best Excuse award: to Greg Hands MP for taking a fortnight to come up with hide and seek in the French countryside. Runners up to the Tory group for 'it was an administrative error'

The I Have a Good Lawyer award: to Greg Hands MP

Le Gateau Chocolat award: to all Tory councillors for not only having their cake but eating it by awarding themselves an 18% pay rise while cutting local services by £34 million.

Many thanks to readers of this blog for their contributions. Many more blogs to follow...

27 October 2007

Halloween horrors a day early in H&F

Tuesday 30 October sees major meetings at Hammersmith Town Hall about two of the most controversial local issues of recent times.

First, the council's licensing panel will hear a wide-ranging application from the Conservative council itself for Ravenscourt Park and Bishop's Park to host events from boxing and wrestling to concerts and parties. Local residents have expressed outrage at the prospect of thousands of drunken people regularly invading their parks. This just three days before the annual fireworks displays in the parks.

Then on Tuesday evening the council's planning applications committee will consider a proposal for a huge office and entertainment building on the NCP site at the southern end of Hammersmith Grove. Again local residents are outraged by the planned 'Armadillo' development in this area.

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham faces its own Halloween horrors early. Remember, remember the 30th of October....

22 October 2007

Nominations please for hfconwatch awards

To mark the first anniversary of hfconwatch's blogging on Tory cuts, blunders and misdemeanours in Hammersmith & Fulham, hfconwatch will soon be announcing its inaugural awards.

To make nominations, please email: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

Please use your imagination!

21 October 2007

Psssst: Voulez vous acheter une ecole?

For many months, long before the rugby world cup kicked off in France, Tory councillors in Hammersmith & Fulham have been in talks with the French government about selling off local schools.

While the decision to close Peterborough Primary School in Fulham was only taken by the Tory Cabinet on 10 September, it is clear that discussions have been going on with the French embassy much longer to develop a private French school on the site.

Hammersmith & Fulham Tory MP, Greg Hands, has just published figures showing a growing number of local parents are choosing to use private schools. He says he wants more parents to use the state system.

So why is the council closing a state primary so another private school can be opened? And why is it doing a deal with the French government? Not that the finances have been disclosed to date, of course.

Now Hurlingham & Chelsea secondary school - recently reprieved from the axe - is being forced to go into 'partnership' with the French to save its future. C'est la vie?

* If you're interested in seeing documents revealing discussions between Hammersmith & Fulham council and the French government about creating French schools in the borough, please email hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

18 October 2007

Black History Month arrives late in H&F

October is Black History Month and has always been celebrated in Hammersmith & Fulham. Following recent local controversies, it arrived late in the borough this year. The Tory council eventually issued a press release about what's happening to mark the month - on 11 October!

06 October 2007

When's a grotspot a nasty niche?

The streets of Hammersmith & Fulham are becoming filthier which is not surprising given the huge cuts in street cleaning and refuse collection.

It's got so bad that the Tory council has issued a press release about 100 grotsposts in just one ward, naming the worst places for rubbish in North End: http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/News_and_Media/Press_office/Press_releases/86879_Grot_spot_blitz.asp

Chief grotspotter Cllr Paul Bristow has also coined a new phrase for places where rubbish is dumped: 'nasty niches'! Is this a Fulham expression?

Now you see it, now you don't

30 September 2007

Beached whale spotted in Blackpool

Parks put council on back foot again

New H&F council cabinet member Paul Bristow has learnt the hard way not to mess with the borough's parks.

Applications to hold a wide range of events (including boxing and wrestling - see previous blogs) in Ravenscourt Park and Bishop's Park have stirred up huge public opposition.

Let's hope the Tories don't cock up the fireworks next month!

£2.1 million or not £2.1 million for charities?

Crowing about H&F council's victory in the high court over cuts to Law Centre funding, a council press release claims that the judgement enables £2.1 million to be spent on voluntary sector grants from October 2007-March 2008.

Wrong again!

The truth is:
* overall voluntary sector funding for 2007-8 is £4.276 million but that hides a big cut within the year: from April-September funding is £2.345 million; from October-March it drops to £1.930 million with the new grants regime
* then in 2008-9 funding is slashed from £4.276 million to £3.182 million - a cut of 26% in one year.

Please can the council publish the truth.

21 September 2007

Secret leader's speech leaked

hfconwatch can reveal an advance copy of the 'state of the borough' address to be given by H&F council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh at a secret location on Wednesday 26 September.

Cllr Greenhalgh will say: "I want to create a borough of opportunity. Opportunity for those who are fluent in French, for those who can buy a house outright without a mortgage and for those who are under 65.

"To achieve this new vision for our borough, we will be building on the progress we have already made in the last 16 months. We will:

* require all primary school children to pass French GCSE before they can enter local secondary schools
* introduce compulsory cycling north of Goldhawk Road
* close all eating establishments near council facilities
* review primary and secondary schools for the third time in less than a year
* cut voluntary organisations that challenge any council decision
* enable property developers to build wherever they want
* move all police officers into the two most marginal wards
* introduce charging for home helps as we promised
* sell off any remaining community assets
* hold all cabinet meetings in secret to reduce noisy protests
* require all people over 65 to give up their rights to local services
* allow our parks to host dog fights, bear baiting, hunting and lap dancing
* award ourselves another 18% pay increase

"Our biggest success has been the secret budget which we didn't reveal before the 2006 council elections. We are now busy preparing our secret cuts for 2010.

"Finally I recommend that all residents read hfconwatch and http://thecowanreport.blogspot.com/ on a daily basis."

How long does it take?

For longer than most people can remember, travelling round Shepherds Bush Green has become tortuous.

The mysterious closure of a lane on the north side of the green is causing gridlock for most of the day. From 7am to late evening, cars and buses and even cyclists are brought to a standstill by a closed lane where nothing seems to be happening.

When will this be sorted out? Or is it the Tories' new environmental policy, because it's certainly a lot quicker to walk than get the bus to the green?

Crucial fortnight in Hammersmith & Fulham

The next two weeks see some key dates for the borough as the Tories' cuts crusade rolls on in Hammersmith & Fulham.

On Wednesday 26 September the High Court will rule on the judicial review of the council's 60% cut in grant to the local law centre. Tory scaremongerer in chief, Cllr Antony Lillis, has threatened other voluntary organisations that this legal action could jeopardise their grant too.

On the same day, council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh is to give a 'state of the borough' address to an invitation only audience at a secret location. No doubt he will herald more cuts.

On 1 October many of the cuts already announced will kick in. These include closure of the mobile library service along with cuts to local voluntary organisations, many of which will close as a result.

11 September 2007

Boxing and wrestling in Bishop's Park?

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham is making a licensing application for Bishop's Park for activities including: ‘plays, films, indoor sporting events, boxing or wrestling, entertainment, live and recorded music, dance or other entertainments of a similar nature, occasional supply or sale of alcohol in connection with the above events: Mon to Sat 08.00 to 24.00. Sun 11.00 to 22.00’.

This follows a major battle in 2005 over astroturfing part of Bishop's Park in Fulham. This latest application raises yet again the issue of what is the proper use for this beautiful riverside Victorian park. There are major issues about parking, noise pollution, anti social behaviour, litter, and damage to the park.

The Bishop's Park Stakeholders Group which is assisting the council in submitting a bid for lottery funding to cover the redevelopment of the park and its buildings has not been made aware of this application.

If you feel strongly about the park and this licensing application, write to: Licensing Section, 5th Floor, Town Hall Extension, King Street, Hammersmith W6 9JU by 2 October.

From bad to worse for H&F schools

Parents and teachers in the borough are reeling from last night's Cabinet decision to close two local schools - Peterborough Primary and Gibbs Green Special School (see previous blogs).

When they have had a chance to read the review of Fulham secondary schools published last Friday, their worst fears for the future of local education will be confirmed.

The secondary school review - run by the Tory Baroness also responsible for the Conservatives' national policy review - proposes more asset stripping and privatisation.

Fulham Cross and Henry Compton Schools will 'merge' on one site creating a 'mixed-single sex school'! In doing so, one school will be closed creating another opportunity to sell off lucrative real estate in Fulham. Hurlingham & Chelsea School will survive provided it goes into private partnership with the French government - again.

William Morris Academy - an outstanding sixth form college - will be compromised by setting up small sixth forms in the remaining schools.

The report also recommends a further review of all the borough's schools, creating more uncertainty for every parent, pupil and teacher.

The Tory Cabinet will discuss its response to the review proposals at its next meeting on 8 October. The proposals will also be debated at the council meeting on 19 September.

Campaigning against community care cuts

As Conservative Hammersmith & Fulham Council continues its crusade against disabled and older people who need support (see below), the local Coalition against Community Care Cuts is upping its campaign.

The council voted in July to withdraw nearly 550 people’s services, often the very limited support that maintains people's general wellbeing and a minimal quality of life (see previous blogs). Now the council has started yet another consultation process with a proposal to introduce charging older and disabled people for essential home care services. This goes against the Tories' election manifesto pledge. The council had to abandon a decision on charging earlier this year having carried out what many local residents viewed as a poor consultation exercise.

Kevin Caulfield, Chair of the Coalition said: “Local residents had to demand proper consultation, and also discovered that the charging proposal appeared to be open to a legal challenge for being potentially unlawful. The council which says that its mandate is to stop waste and cut inefficiency but not cut services, has already wasted local residents’ council tax contributions on one ill thought out consultation process.

"The council is also cutting disabled people and older people’s essential support services which has nothing to do with reducing general inefficiencies but everything to do with poor decision making and a could not care less attitude towards some local residents."

Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts (HAFCAC) represents a growing number of disabled and older residents, supported by many non-disabled residents and local organisations. The coalition aims to challenge these cuts in services and jobs which will negatively impact on the quality of life of many local residents.

HAFCAC has launched a campaign pack to let local residents know what is happening.
The campaign pack is available free by contacting the coalition. It explains the issues, tells you how to contact your locally elected representatives and how to let them know what you think.

For more information contact:

Kevin Caulfield, Chair of Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts
HAFCAC, PO Box 57168, London, SW6 7UW. Telephone 0208 743 6573 Typetalk 18001 07899752877. Email hafcac@hotmail.co.uk

Don't get old and sick in H&F

If you want to know what life's like for older people in Hammersmith & Fulham following the latest Tory cuts, you must read this blog: http://theagepage.typepad.com/

In particular check out entries for 5 September and 18 July.

09 September 2007

Cabinet protest over school closures

A major protest is expected at Hammersmith Town Hall on the evening of Monday 10 September when the Tory cabinet votes to close Peterborough Primary School and Gibbs Green Special School (see previous blogs).

The plans for primary schools are just a taste of what is to come for secondary schools following publication on Friday of the report by a so-called independent commission. Their recommendations threaten more uncertainty for all the borough's secondary schools with closures and privatisation on the cards.

06 September 2007

Council leader's secret address

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Tory leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, is to give a 'state of the borough' address on Wednesday 26 September. This should be of interest to all local residents but only a select group has been invited by the council to the event (with no invites for opposition councillors) and the venue is secret. This abuse of the public purse and democratic local government must be stopped.

hfconwatch invites you to suggest what Cllr Greenhalgh should include in his speech - please email: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

Anyone for French lessons?

The Conservative cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham is due to vote on proposals to close Peterborough Primary School on Monday 10 September. A major protest is expected at the meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall.

Peterborough's 106 year history in south Fulham (let alone the future of local children) seems to count for nothing now that the council is intent on doing a deal with the French government to create a fee-paying private school on the site.

Scaremongering or running scared?

In an extraordinary move, Tory H&F cabinet member Cllr Antony Lillis has written to 58 voluntary organisations in the borough saying that their council grant from this October (ie next month) is under threat.

Cllr Lillis blames a judicial review due in the high court on 26 September brought by three individuals concerned by the council's 60% cut in funding to Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre.

By issuing threats to 58 organisations, Cllr Lillis is either trying to 'divide and rule' voluntary organisations - or he is seriously worried that the council will lose in the high court. In that case he should resign rather than threaten the future of many local organisations.

Cllr Lillis is also adamant there are no cuts in funding for the sector overall - just 'reprioritisation'. The truth is:
* overall funding for 2007-8 is £4.276 million but that hides a big cut within the year: from April-September funding is £2.345 million; from October-March it drops to £1.930 million with the new grants regime
* then in 2008-9 funding is slashed from £4.276 million to £3.182 million - a cut of 26% in one year!

03 September 2007

Back Boris, get Greenhalgh?

Is Boris Johnson really Tory leader of H&F council, Stephen Greenhalgh, in disguise? At the launch of his bid to be the Conservatives' candidate for Mayor of London, Boris unveiled policies which sounded like a catalogue of failed political experiments from Hammersmith & Fulham. From the congestion charge to housing and policing, Boris has clearly been watching H&F Tories. So when will he announce his plans for huge cuts in London's public services?

01 September 2007

Credit where credit's due?

Below is an email just received from a local resident:

In searching the H+F council website for remarks congratulating students on their successes in the recent GCSEs and A levels and thanking teachers and staff for their hard work in helping achieve these results, the only thing I could find were press releases announcing the closure of schools. Presumably the Conservative administration views schools simply as property assets to be sold off and are not aware that anything else goes on in them.

Yours, a concerned resident

Dear concerned resident

You may wish to attend the lobby about school closures at the town hall on Monday 3 September at 6.30pm. Ask the councillors why they have ignored the responses to their consultation on primary and special schools and plan to go ahead with school closures (see blogs below).

Later this week we will also hear what the Tories plan to do to secondary schools in the borough. hfconwatch this space...


29 August 2007

H&F gains notoriety as 'rotten borough'

Readers of this blog will be familiar with tales of Tory councillors awarding themselves 18% pay increases while cutting local services by £34 million. And with the Tories' chief backbench mouthpiece, Cllr Harry Phibbs.

Now they have all hit the national stage (again) in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column: 'World’s most unpleasant Young Conservative' put in charge of adoption in Hammersmith and Fulham (Private Eye, 28 August 2007 - not exactly news but it's well worth buying for the full story which is not available on the Private Eye website).

Will Cllr Phibber write one of his famous letters 'correcting' this august publication?

Watch this space - autumn cuts bonanza

It's business as usual at Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council. Not content with wrecking local schools (see previous blogs), many more cuts in local services have been lined up this autumn.

The voluntary sector will see the full brunt of recent cuts in grants from this October and more cuts are due shortly. A campaign meeting takes place on Thursday 6 September at 6.30pm at Shepherds Bush Village Hall, 58 Bulwer Street, W12. Further news is expected in the High Court on 26 September about the judicial review of the council's 60% cut in funding to the Law Centre.

Also coming soon from the council and in no particular order are:
- hikes in charges for vulnerable adults using social care following the council's backdown earlier this year and contrary to the Tories' manifesto
- cuts in adult education as a new year starts and the closure of the Munster Centre for budding cooks
- more cuts in local library services and higher fees already in place, for example if you want to use the computers in libraries
- privatisation of all the services for what was once a smarter borougher - refuse collection, street cleaning, grounds maintenance and so on - as the streets get dirtier and dirtier
- more cuts in services for older people and warden support in sheltered housing schemes
- new controversy over plans for changed use of Bishops Park

Not everything is getting cut. The Tory cabinet is soon to agree an increase in the fees for the consultants working on 'the civic accommodation project'. Now there's a surprise!

Tories promise schools more of the same

Any hopes that Hammersmith & Fulham's Conservative council will turn over at least one new leaf this autumn have been swiftly dashed.

Already the Tories have sneaked out plans in the summer holidays to close more schools. Despite huge opposition during the consultation earlier this summer, the Tories are to go ahead with the closure of Peterborough Primary School in south Fulham.

The Tory cabinet can expect a barrage of protest from Peterborough parents and the local community when the decision is discussed on 10 September. To rub salt into parents' wounds, the council is talking to the French government no less about opening a new private school on the site following the closure of Peterborough in 2008.

A huge shake-up in special schools is also on the cards, with Gibbs Green school set to close.

All this sets the scene for the forthcoming report from the council's much vaunted Secondary Schools Commission. Due out shortly, the report is expected to recommend more cuts in local education in the south of the borough.

26 July 2007

Wanted: more news about Tory cuts

If you have any news, stories or evidence about cuts being made by the Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham, please email: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

The next blog will be a bumper cuts edition in late August. As Elvis Costello used to sing, we are watching the Conservatives.

24 July 2007

Tories' disgraceful end of term report

As Hammersmith & Fulham Tory councillors head off for their summer holidays, the Class of 2006's end of term reports make dismal reading. There are still almost three years to their exams when they will finally leave school but cuts in school funds have made it a difficult year for this unpopular class. They gave themselves extra pocket money, but were caught out before they could leave the school gates. The school became notorious in the national media when members of the class flogged off the family silver in the playground. Their lessons have become increasingly noisy and disruptive, and local neighbours have made regular complaints about the class not listening.

Stephen Greenhalgh: Head boy. Still hankers after his old school but should have spent more time worrying about all the schools in his area. Must stop having seconds at lunchtime and do more PE.

Nicholas Botterill: Class swot. Can't keep a secret and is too keen to make others pay for their mistakes.

Antony Lillis: Always getting into trouble. Wants to be liked but can't help making big mistakes. Perhaps he is being bullied by his classmates.

Frances Stainton: History is her best subject. She knows which assets to sell in the school tuck shop.

Greg Smith: Not tolerant of other children. Puts all his eggs in one basket and surprised when things go wrong elsewhere.

Adronie Alford: Poor at home economics. Can't even get her own foot on the ladder in the gym.

Mark Loveday: Thinks he's the cleverest boy in class. Often claims credit for achievements of Class of 2002.

Paul Bristow: New boy. Should spend less time blogging. Typical bully - happy to dish it out but doesn't like it back.

16 July 2007


Amid farcical scenes Hammersmith & Fulham's Tory cabinet tonight agreed to evict all the vulnerable tenants of Elizabeth Finn House on Goldhawk Road so the site can be sold for redevelopment.

Questions Tories can't answer on home helps

In a dismal performance at Hammersmith Town Hall this evening, the Tory cabinet agreed to end home help services for more than 500 older and disabled people. Many more vulnerable people face losing their home help service later this year in the latest Tory cuts.

The disgraceful decision was matched by the Tory councillors' ignorance about the impact of the home help cuts on older and disabled people, who will be affected, how they can appeal against the removal of their service and what alternative support they might be able to use.

Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh kept repeating that the Conservatives were making the cuts "with great regret". He and his fellow Tory cabinet members showed no signs of regret for the hundreds of people who will be left isolated and at risk without a home help service. Just to pay for a small council tax cut.

15 July 2007

Questions Tories can't duck on home helps

The Tory Cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham is due to scrap home helps for hundreds of older and disabled people as part of its £34 million cuts package on Monday 16 July (see previous blogs).

More than 500 people will lose their home help service with almost 900 others facing the same prospect later this year, if the Cabinet goes ahead with the cuts.

Questions the Tory Cabinet must answer include:

* how many people will lose their home care and other services and why?
* how many more people will lose their home care service later this year?
* in the future how many people will never get the service they need because of the cuts?
* how will the council decide who will lose their service and how can people appeal about the decision?
* what support and services will be provided instead to people whose home help is scrapped?
* how much will these cuts cost the council in the long run as people's needs increase because they can't get the support they need now?

And finally why are the Tories making some of the most vulnerable people in the borough pay for the cut in the council tax?

JOIN the protest on Monday evening from 6.30pm outside Hammersmith Town Hall - the Cabinet meeting starts at 7pm.

Council faces legal action on Law Centre cut

Three people who live or work in Hammersmith and Fulham have issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court to stop the Tory council cutting the Law Centre’s grant. The three are challenging the proposed 60% grant cut, and applying for a ‘fast track’ order for the case to be heard urgently. The three individuals are:

* a long leaseholder represented by the Law Centre at Leasehold Valuation Tribunal: ‘the centre provides such an important service, without the help of the Law Centre in King Street, I know I would have lost not only my home but also my sanity’;

* a Fulham mother, a British citizen, whose children were refused British citizenship and won her High Court battle with help from the Law Centre;

* a shop assistant and former volunteer from a refugee community group being represented by the Law Centre at Employment Tribunal in an equal pay claim.

The three argue that the council's decision to cut the Law Centre's grant was unlawful because they failed to carry out any proper consultation and also that the Council's decision-making process in reducing the priority given to immigration advice was in breach of its duties under the Race Relations Act 1976.

Hammersmith and Fulham Community Law Centre has been funded by the council for 28 years. The decision to reduce the Law Centre's annual funding from £261,000 to £102,000 was made with less than two weeks notice and with no opportunity for representations to be made. No reasons were given, despite the fact that council officers recently rated the service ‘best value’ and assessed the current grant application as a 95% fit with the Council’s own funding criteria.

Sue Willman, solicitor for the claimants, said: "This cut will reduce access to justice for local residents, especially those who are disadavantaged and most in need of legal advice at a time when legal aid is already in short supply. The Law Centre's clients are calling on the High Court to intervene because the decision is unlawful and discriminatory."

08 July 2007

Care users pay the price for council tax cut

Hundreds of vulnerable older people and disabled people will lose their home help service because of Conservative Hammersmith & Fulham council's recent council tax cut.

To fund the cut, almost 1500 home help users will be 're-assessed' to see who will lose their service. A report to the Tory Cabinet warns that more cuts in home care will follow later this year so this is just the thin end of the wedge.

PROTEST at the Tory Cabinet meeting considering this disgraceful decision on Monday 16 July at Hammersmith Town from 6.30pm - the meeting starts at 7pm.

The same Cabinet meeting is also due to agree spending more money on IT systems while cutting vital local services!

05 July 2007

Tell them what you really think

If you're angry, upset or disgusted about the Tory councillors' cuts to home helps, the police, the voluntary sector or other local services in Hammersmith & Fulham, tell them what you think at their surgery.

The best surgery to go to is on the first Saturday of every month (ie Saturday 7 July) from 11am-12noon at Fulham Library (if it hasn't been closed down by then), 598 Fulham Road.

There you should find either Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh (Tory council leader), or Cllr Antony Lillis (chief cutter) or Cllr Greg Smith (partner in crime).

Who's watching neighbourhood watch?

Local neighbourhood watch schemes have always been politically impartial, working with the police to help prevent crime.

That was until the Conservatives took control of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

First the boroughwide Neighbourhood Watch Association appointed former Tory government minister Douglas Hurd as its president.

Now the council is issuing press releases about local Tories running neighbourhood watch schemes. Anthony Frieze, who chairs Avonmore & Brook Green Conservatives and was runner up in the Tories' selection for their Hammersmith parliamentary candidate, is singled out in the following release:


Strangely these neighbourhood watch meetings seem to be attended only by Conservative Party members. And the council again is publishing party political propaganda paid for by council tax.

04 July 2007

Greg Hands for Mayor of London?

Rumours are circulating that Hammersmith & Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands will throw his hat into the ring to challenge Boris Johnson as the Conservative candidate for next May's Mayoral election.

Hundreds set to lose home help and support

Hundreds of home help users in Hammersmith & Fulham will lose this vital service if the Tory cabinet agrees a major cut at its next meeting on 16 July.

In a desperate bid to slash social services spending, the Tories propose to re-assess the needs of almost 1500 older and disabled people to see whether they will continue to receive home care and other practical support with meals, equipment and daycare.

It is expected that well over 500 people will have their service withdrawn, with the prospect of many more ruled out of services in the future.

The Tory cabinet paper anticipates a legal challenge to this huge cut in services to some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. And the report calls on the cabinet to consider further cuts in the coming months.

Protest against this disgraceful move at the Cabinet meeting on Monday 16 July at 7pm at Hammersmith Town Hall.

27 June 2007

Who aren't happy bunnies?

Mothers and toddlers at College Park Community Centre are furious about Hammersmith & Fulham council's decision to sell off the centre where their Happy Bunnies playgroup is based.

Generations of community activity sacrificed for profit

The complete contempt of Tory councillors for residents in the north of Hammersmith & Fulham was exposed at a council meeting this evening - alongside the incompetence of the administration.

Having voted in secret at a Cabinet meeting to sell off a dozen community buildings and kick out the community and voluntary organisations housed there, the Tory council tonight tried to cover their tracks with a sham consultation.

Cllr Antony Lillis, the only cabinet member to attempt to defend the decision at the meeting, did not offer an apology to local residents packed in the public galleries. But he did admit his guilt by offering to extend the lease of the Wormholt Tenants and Residents Association for a further six months.

Residents from College Park, Wormholt, Askew and elsewhere are furious that the decision to sell their community centres was taken in secret - without any consultation. Councillors said residents had been told in advance but then withdrew this accusation when the truth was revealed.

Despite growing public protests, the Tories have so far refused to go back on their decision to close centres that have housed community activities for more than a century and to sell off public buildings which have special merit in conservation areas.

This act of vandalism and the failure to consult local residents, Cllr Colin Aherne told the meeting, mean that the council should change its slogan to 'putting profit before residents'.

24 June 2007

Schools debate is alive and kicking

'Speaking up for comprehensives' promises to be a lively seminar this week on the future of education in Hammersmith & Fulham. It takes place on Tuesday 26 June from 7pm at the Lilla Huset Centre, 191 Talgarth Road.

With the debate raging about the Tories' plans for school closures and strategies for primary, special and secondary schools in the borough, now is the time for anyone concerned about local education to get involved.

Tuesday's panel includes:

* Francis Becket, writer, journalist and author of The Great City Academy Fraud,
* Alasdair Smith, education lecturer at the Institute of Education and founder member of the Anti Academies Alliance, who organised the recent Committee of Enquiry into Academies in the House of Commons,
* Ken Muller, the Islington Green teacher and NUT representative who exposed the OFSTED fraud at his school,
* Phil Cross, Headteacher at Hurlingham & Chelsea School, speaking on education leadership and school improvement,
* Janet Theakston, heads the Privatisation of Education Unit in the National Union of Teachers.
* The seminar will be chaired by Christine Blower, Deputy General Secretary of the NUT, who previously taught in Hammersmith & Fulham primary, secondary and special schools.

To attend, e-mail HFTAnut@aol.com

21 June 2007

Another council meeting, another protest

Wednesday 27 June will see the next big protest about Tory council cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Protestors will gather outside Hammersmith town hall from 6pm before the council meeting at 7pm when councillors will debate motions about community centres being sold off, voluntary sector funding cuts, reductions in local policing, and school closures.

The opposition to the Tory council is growing as the cuts hit local communities across the borough.

Cllr Phibbs gets the humps

After his abject performance defending council cuts to the voluntary sector (see previous blog), Cllr Harry Phibbs has returned to normal duty.

Phibbs uses all his skills as an Evening Standard diary columnist in his role as the Tory letter-writer-in-chief to the local papers in Hammersmith & Fulham.

This week in The Chronicle his target is road humps. He wants them removed. He says 'they are an irritant to motorists'. Sounds like a case of 'Hurry up Harry'.

The Tories want to get rid of traffic calming in the borough. Do they ever get out of their Chelsea tractors?

PS why were extra security staff employed at the Irish Centre for Monday's night voluntary sector meeting (see previous blog)? Were they there to protect Cllr Phibbs?

18 June 2007

There's hope if you're out of the home

The bad news is huge Tory cuts in local voluntary sector funding. But the good news, John Fitzpatrick, chair of the Law Centres Federation, told a packed public meeting at the Irish Centre this evening, is the re-birth of civic action in Hammersmith & Fulham.

He described the Conservative council's 60% cut in funding to the Law Centre (see previous blogs) as a "spectacular act of municipal vandalism".

Guest speakers at the special meeting on voluntary sector funding, including columnist Polly Toynbee, expressed their strong support for the Law Centre.

It was left to Conservative councillor Harry Phibbs to justify why the Law Centre's grant was being cut. He tried several times in several different ways to explain why the Law Centre was being targeted but failed miserably despite repeated challenges. He even wished those solicitors facing redundancy well.

To be fair to Cllr Phibbs, at least he turned up to try and defend the actions of the council. Unlike the Cabinet members responsible, whose decision to cut the Law Centre is unashamedly politically motivated.

But Cllr Phibbs hadn't done his homework. He continued to deny that the council is cutting funding to the voluntary sector despite the evidence (see previous blogs) of 18% cuts within this financial year in grants and more cuts next year along with hikes in rents and reductions in rate relief. Several community and voluntary organisations are also being kicked out of their premises so they can be sold off.

The next protest about the Tory cuts, local MP Andrew Slaughter told the audience, will be at the council meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday 27 June. He added: "We mustn't give up hope. They will have to give up because they are wrong."

14 June 2007

Grotspots and missing police officers

Have you noticed how Hammersmith & Fulham is now the 'dirtier borough'?

The cuts in street cleaning and refuse collection are literally leaving their mark - with grotspots appearing all over the borough.

If you've got a particular fave hate, please report it here.

Just to get things going, on the Uxbridge Road near the junction with Willow Vale there is a piece of disused land which used to be boarded off. The hoarding has been knocked down and it's now used as a dumping ground.

So please report grotspots. And while you're at it, when did you last see a police officer patrolling your local neighbourhood?

When 24/7 policing was introduced in two areas in the borough, police officers were diverted from other neighbourhood teams.

So if your police officers have gone missing, please report them too.

07 June 2007

What future for civil society in H&F?

Funding for the voluntary sector will be debated by key national commentators at a public meeting in Hammersmith & Fulham. The event follows huge cuts in grants to voluntary and community organisations in the borough (see previous blogs).

Chaired by BBC Radio's Clive Coleman, the debate will feature Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee; Nick Seddon of Civitas and author of Who Cares?; Andrew Slaughter MP; John Fitzpatrick, chair of the Law Centres Federation; and local Tory councillor Harry Phibbs.

The debate will take place at the Irish Centre, Blacks Road, Hammersmith on Monday 18 June at 7.30pm.

Voluntary organisations in Hammersmith & Fulham are angry about the Conservative council's cuts in their funding.

Grants to local charities are being cut by 18% in total in the second half of this financial year (2007-8) compared to the first six months. Some organisations have had their funding cut completely while others have suffered huge cuts, making their future uncertain.

Further cuts will be made in 2008-9 and many organisations still don't know what funding they will get next year.

On top of these cuts in grants, Hammersmith & Fulham council is cutting rate relief to local charities and hiking rents for some organisations. Recently the Tory Cabinet voted in secret to sell off public buildings which house local charities and community groups (see previous blogs).

Nationally David Cameron says the Conservatives support the voluntary sector; in Hammersmith & Fulham the Tories are intent on wrecking local voluntary organisations and destroying civil society.

Join the debate on 18 June.

05 June 2007

£15 for the privilege

Fulham Reach residents were last night invited to meet Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith.

There was one catch. Residents were charged £15 for the dubious pleasure of meeting Mr Bailey. That will have helped to control numbers.

We've all heard of alleged payments to access Parliamentarians but to meet someone who has just been selected as a candidate? Perhaps it's all gone to a good cause, like the Shaun Bailey Youth Fund?

04 June 2007

Believe it or not

Tonight's Evening Standard has a diary story (probably written by Cllr Phibbs) claiming that Hammersmith & Fulham MP Greg Hands was approached to be a Russian spy in a Fulham pub! After a pint, Greg apparently turned down the offer and reported the matter to the authorities.

Why has Greg has chosen this moment to come out? As the story relates, Greg's wife hails from eastern Europe and he too spent many years living behind the Iron Curtain. He also retains a keen interest in central Asian matters asking regular Parliamentary questions about Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan et al.

As relations with Russia deteriorate, Greg obviously wants us to know where his loyalties really lie. It's the stuff of 'espionage folklore', he quips. His name's Hands, Greg Hands. Shaken, not stirred.

01 June 2007

Is Councillor Greenhalgh losing it? Part two

Tory leader of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, admitted at the annual council meeting this week that he enjoys reading this blog.

His annual report touches on several of this blog's favourite subjects. Produced at the last minute under legal pressure, more than half the report is devoted to a personal attack on the previous administration. So much for forward thinking.

At the meeting itself Cllr Greenhalgh conceded that attempting to close Hurlingham & Chelsea secondary school was an error of judgement. We wait for his judgement on the equally disastrous primary schools strategy. Perhaps that's why he abolished the cabinet post for education.

Cllr Greenhalgh continued to assert that awarding Tory councillors an 18% pay rise (while making £34 million cuts in local services) was simply 'a clerical error' - despite the fact that he personally must have cleared the report at least three times before voting for it at February's budget meeting. He is obviously beginning to believe his own spin doctors.

At least he is consistent. Cllr Greenhalgh can be relied upon - in every speech he makes - to talk about his two other favourite subjects: his dad who works at Charing Cross hospital and his school which he left almost 25 years ago.

Under all the pressure Cllr Greenhalgh looks distinctly wobbly - he is clearly carrying a lot.

PS Hiding somewhere behind Cllr Greenhalgh at the meeting was Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for Hammersmith. We are still waiting for news about his mysterious charity, My Generation.

31 May 2007

The Blues get the Blues

Hammersmith & Fulham Tories' love affair with Chelsea Football Club hasn't lasted long.

After milking Chelsea's Premiership title in May 2006 shortly after their council election victory, it's a different story in 2007.

Despite winning two cups, Chelsea fans have been denied a victory parade through the streets of Fulham this year.

What had become almost an annual event has been scrapped as another victim of local cuts.

Is Councillor Greenhalgh losing it? Part one

As previously reported by this blog, the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham recently agreed in secret to sell off local buildings housing community and voluntary organisations.

Now according to the Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle newspaper, council leader Cllr Greenhalgh said the decision to agree the sell-off in secret was made by council officers, not by elected members!

Was this another clerical error? Or have the Tories handed over power?

His fellow cabinet member Cllr Lillis also claims that the community groups affected by the sell-off were consulted. So why were they all shocked to hear the news via the local press?

22 May 2007

One 'clerical error' corrected, another one pops up

Three months after voting themselves an 18% pay rise while making £34 million cuts in local services, Tory councillors are set to correct what they claim was 'a clerical error' at next week's council meeting.

Clearly embarrassed by the backlash about their massive pay rise, the Conservatives are backtracking again.

Bizarrely, the council agenda also announces a new cabinet post for 'Residents' Services'. How this differs from all the other cabinet posts responsible for services for residents is not clear. Perhaps as the new cabinet member, Cllr Bristow will be responsible for preventing more clerical errors.

Tory cabinet agrees 'sale of the century'

Some of the most historic public buildings in Hammersmith & Fulham, including many that house voluntary and community groups, are to be sold off by the Conservative Council.

The cabinet last week agreed to sell the following community assets:

South Lodge, Magravine Cemetery
Castle Club, Broomhouse Lane
6 Wolverton Gardens
Lee Lane, Maidenhead
2a Askew Crescent
59 Godolphin Road (The Hut Association)
College Park Community Hall
Southcombe Street car park
145 Hammersmith Road (Council young persons service)
153 Hammersmith Road (MIND)
182 Hammersmith Road (Carers Centre and Black British Heritage)
Wormholt Community Centre

Selling these properties may help the Tories make a one-off council tax cut, but once sold, these valuable buildings and community facilities will be lost to the borough forever.

20 May 2007

Tory council celebrates blogging half-century

This blog began last October when it was becoming clear what the Tory council planned to do in Hammersmith & Fulham. Just over six months later, things are going from bad to worse.

The last week has seen cuts in library services despite a public consultation opposing many of the proposals, the sale of many publicly owned assets in the borough, together with an attempt to distract attention from the £34 million cuts programme by blaming immigrants.

But there have been some famous victories for the campaigners - not least the council backdown on closing Hurlingham & Chelsea school and the re-think on home care charging. And opposition to the Conservative council is growing across the borough as local residents, unions, community groups and voluntary organisations fight back.

To mark this 50th hfconwatch blog, there is a new look. It cost nothing unlike the recent h&f council makeover.

19 May 2007

Tories sell off the 'community silver' in secret

You would have thought that selling off community buildings used and owned by local residents would be a matter for public debate.

But not at Tory-run Hammersmith & Fulham council.

When last week's Cabinet meeting discussed a council report on the 'property disposals programme', the public and the press were excluded.

Residents will soon be up in arms when they discover which buildings are to be sold off and how local facilities and charity offices are to be scrapped.

Once sold, these buildings, many of significant historic value, will be lost to local people forever.

14 May 2007

A year out of time

The Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham have been smugly proclaiming how the Audit Commission has just changed the council's CPA rating and awarded the council 4 stars (rather than 3 stars - see previous blog).

What the Conservative council fails to mention in its press release is that the ratings were based on the 2005-6 performance of the council ie under a different administration. And a long time before the Tories' savage programme of cuts took effect from this April.

We will see what the Audit Commission makes of the council during its current assessment of the chaos and mess in schools, home helps and meals on wheels, policing, street cleaning, libraries, affordable housing etc etc etc caused by the £34 million cuts in local services.

Conservative hypocrisy on migration

Recently well known moderate Tory MP Greg Hands called for limits on immigration from Bulgaria and Romania to be scrapped. Today Conservative Hammersmith & Fulham council joined three other right wing local authorities in an unsubtle attack on migrant workers, claiming that the numbers don't stack up.

What is particularly galling is the fact that London's economy is being positively propelled by workers from Eastern Europe who pay income tax, national insurance and - guess what - council tax.

And closer to home, there can't be a Tory councillor who hasn't used a Polish nanny or builder or decorator or car washer or cleaner. Or maybe one from somewhere else in Eastern Europe. Or whose business hasn't employed a migrant worker.

13 May 2007

More bad news for charities in Hammersmith & Fulham

Having already made big cuts in grants to voluntary organisations in Hammersmith & Fulham (see previous blogs), the Tory council is now planning to cut non-domestic rate relief to charities in the borough.

The decision by Cllr Lillis is contained in a report to this week's Cabinet meeting.

Reducing rate relief from 2008-9 is expected to save the council £350,000 a year but the report says only part of this will be used towards voluntary sector funding in the future.

The continued squeeze of the voluntary sector in Hammersmith & Fulham runs counter to the support being given by David Cameron to the sector in the Conservatives' policies nationally.

10 May 2007

Peterborough school 'not for sale'

The Tories' latest target for selling off the borough's assets is Peterborough primary school in Fulham. This magnificent Victorian building overlooking South Park is a prime site for fat cat developers - regardless of the school's track record and achievements.

This proposal will be discussed at a public meeting at Peterborough school in Clancarty Road on Thursday 17 May at 7pm. Tell the Conservative council what you think of their so-called primary strategy.

Visit www.dontclosemyschool.com for more details.

09 May 2007

Councillor Lillis backs down again

Once you get past the fabulous example of double-talk in May's Conservative council propaganda sheet, h&f news, it appears that Cllr Lillis has backtracked again, this time on 'homecare changes'.

Strangely the article doesn't explain what the proposed changes are, simply that they have been delayed for revision. Perhaps that's because the Tories were planning to introduce home help charges less than a year after their election manifesto promised not to do so!

Another victory for the campaigners in Hammersmith & Fulham. Not so good for Cllr Lillis, who has now had three strikes in a fortnight and must be on his way out.

03 May 2007

Fulham secondary schools all under threat

All secondary schools in Fulham are under threat, following a statement by H&F cabinet member Cllr Antony Lillis.

Last week (see previous blogs), the closure proposal for Hurlingham & Chelsea school was withdrawn by Hammersmith & Fulham council. Instead the council set up a commission to review secondary schools in Fulham.

It emerged today in an interview with the Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle that, according to Cllr Lillis, the commission could recommend that Hurlingham & Chelsea, Fulham Cross and Henry Compton schools all close.

Having thoroughly demoralised children, parents and teachers at one school, clearly the Tories now want to wreck secondary schooling throughout Fulham.

Mr Bailey attracts a lot of attention

Tory candidate for Hammersmith Shaun Bailey has certainly been getting a lot of press these last few weeks. All spinning the same stories but none probing his activities. Until now that is - check out this blog and let us know what you know:


01 May 2007

New warning about Tory rightwingers in H&F

The notoriety of the Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham is spreading. See the latest warning from today's Guardian:


27 April 2007

Exposed: huge cuts in voluntary sector funding

When the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham presented their proposed funding for the voluntary sector at a packed meeting last week (see previous blog), they were adamant there were no cuts in funding for the sector overall - just 'reprioritisation'.

Now the truth can be revealed:

* overall funding for 2007-8 is £4.276 million but that hides a big cut within the year: from April-September funding is £2.345 million; from October-March it drops to £1.930 million with the new grants regime

* then in 2008-9 funding is slashed from £4.276 million to £3.182 million - a cut of 26% in one year!

It's been a bad week for Cllr Antony Lillis. He is responsible for the embarrassing climbdown on closing Hurlingham & Chelsea school which has left the Tories' schools strategy in disarray (see previous blog).

Now he has been exposed on voluntary sector funding - no cuts indeed!

It is time for Cllr Lillis to resign.

23 April 2007

Council in chaos as Tories back down on school closure

The Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham has backed down from closing Hurlingham and Chelsea secondary school to prevent an embarrassing rejection of the closure plan by the schools adjudicator.

In an attempt to save face, the Tories have set up a so-called independent commission to review the future of secondary schools in Fulham - thereby putting them all under threat. The Commission will be chaired by a Tory peer, Baroness Perry!

For some reason the secondary schools in the north of the borough are not included in the review even though their catchment areas for pupils overlap with the Fulham schools.

In trying to save themselves huge embarrassment, the Tories have demonstrated with this kneejerk reaction that their policies for the borough's secondary schools are in complete chaos. Now watch out for the Tories' primary schools strategy and see how quickly that unravels (see previous blogs).

This back down will give great heart to campaigners fighting Tory cuts in services and funding for the voluntary sector in Hammersmith & Fulham.

21 April 2007

April showers another blow for local democracy

Conservatives on Hammersmith & Fulham council are celebrating their election victory a year ago by making April their anti-democracy month.

As reported below, this week the Tory cabinet walked out of a meeting in the face of opposition to their cuts in funding to voluntary organisations. That's despite refusing several organisations the chance to make representations at the meeting. Instead the Tories fled to vote behind closed doors for savage cuts to some of Hammersmith & Fulham's longest standing community bodies.

Earlier in April parents and children from Peterborough primary school which is threatened with closure were not allowed to question councillors about the plans at the education scrutiny committee. What decision could be more important to local families?

With the Tories seemingly making new cuts to public services in Hammersmith & Fulham every week, it's crucial that decisions to close services and make budget cuts are properly scrutinised. Let's not forget that the Tories won the election boasting of a 'secret budget' which they refused to reveal for reasons that are now obvious.

The true face of Cameron's Conservative party is clear to see in Hammersmith & Fulham - cutting services and ignoring local residents. We still wait to hear what the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, thinks about his new friends.

19 April 2007

Tories' attacks on public services get more exposure

Now the New Statesman has caught up with the Tories' wrecking of Hammersmith & Fulham:


Please send details of any other sightings.

16 April 2007


Three hundred brave volunteers stood in opposition to the Tory rulers at Hammersmith Town Hall tonight. Together they fought the Tories' venomous attacks on community and voluntary organisations working for black people, Irish people, older people, disabled people and those without any rights.

The Tories denied they were making cuts to the voluntary sector until Cllr Lillis let slip that some organisations are indeed being cut. They weren't being targeted or 'blacklisted', just 'reprioritised'. Without any consultation or published reason.

Speaker after speaker from the Law Centre, Caring for Carers, Community Transport, Irish Support and Advice Service, Third Age Foundation all put their points. Others weren't allowed to have their say.

As the opposition mounted, Tory leader Cllr Greenhalgh retreated, withdrawing his cabinet to the safety of a private room to vote through the cuts in secret. Another battle over but a long war ahead.

12 April 2007

Hammering it home

With local elections on 3 May outside of London, there's another warning about what Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives have done in the last 12 months:


10 April 2007

Five nightmares come back to haunt Tory leader

The Conservative leader of Hammersmith & Fulham is so beside himself with local newspaper coverage of the council that he has written to complain about not one, not two but five separate stories in the previous week's paper.

Many of those stories will be familiar to readers of this blog:
* closure of local schools with sites being sold off to fill council coffers
* slashing of grants to local voluntary organisations
* charging residents £6.50 to have their garden waste recycled

Clearly Cllr Greenhalgh doesn't like it up him. Having attacked the vulnerable and defenceless with a £34 million cuts programme, he can't stand it when the local newspaper reports what is really happening in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The Tory leader should spend more time stopping party political attacks by the council and less time on writing pointless letters to the local press. Or perhaps Cllr Greenhalgh does us all a service by reminding everyone of the previous week's horrors.

03 April 2007

Now it's the voluntary sector's turn for huge cuts

David Cameron's new Conservatives make a big deal about the role of the voluntary sector in supporting strong communities.

But clearly the Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham don't agree. They have just launched a savage programme of cuts in funding to local voluntary organisations.

The council's cabinet is due to vote on the proposals on 16 April and they are bound to face huge protests against these latest cuts. One major area of cuts is in legal advice.

The council proposes a cut of nearly £160,000 in the Law Centre’s funding, a cut of over 60%. Threshold is to be cut by 23% and FLAC by 7%. These cuts will make it even harder for vulnerable local residents to obtain legal advice and ensure their rights and entitlements.

The biggest cut has been reserved for the Law Centre. This could mean an end to vital local legal services the Law Centre has provided for over 27 years including:

· specialist advice on private sector tenants, licensees and leaseholder issues
· emergency specialist legal advice on homelessness, possession, bailiff’s warrants, detention and immigration removals with immediate referral for emergency legal action
· specialist advice and casework in employment, helping people who have been sacked, discriminated against and harassed at work.
· immigration and nationality open-door advice session and telephone advice
· second tier advice to local advice agencies and council housing, social services and benefits officers on behalf of local residents needing statutory services
· legal support for local community organisations aiming to ensure no resident needing vital services remains isolated, and new legal needs are rapidly identified and catered for.

The council has given no reason at all for these cuts which will mean a severe reduction in Law Centre services to local people. The Tories can't justify their proposals so they haven't even tried to - which provides grounds for a legal challenge unless the Tories see reason and the cabinet rejects the proposals.

How many primary schools to go?

Having been stalled in their efforts to close a secondary school, Conservatives in Hammersmith & Fulham are now planning to shut local primary schools.

The Tories' primary schools strategy was delayed until the end of the spring term to try and avoid a backlash from schools and parents. But it has already caused huge concern among local families, not least at Peterborough school in Fulham which is earmarked for closure and sale of its site.

One of the other proposals is to merge Canberra primary school with Randolph Beresford early years centre - again so that the centre's site could be sold off to subsidise council tax cuts. Governors at Randolph Beresford have already voted against the proposal but the Tories went ahead and published it anyway.

Local residents are beginning to realise that the Conservatives in Hammersmith & Fulham don't care about local services and community facilities. All they are concerned about is cuts.

Has anyone seen Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund?

Websites linked to the Tories' candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, solicit donations to Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund. Apparently his fund is based at the Centre for Policy Studies.

Strangely there don't seem to be any details on the CPS website or elsewhere about Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund and what it's used for.

Suggestions gratefully received.

01 April 2007

Shaun of the dead party

So the Conservatives in Hammersmith have selected their candidate for the next general election.

Right winger Shaun Bailey plans to bring 'his principles' to Hammersmith. The question is what exactly has he been doing over the last few years apart from writing a pamphlet for the Tory thinktank Centre for Policy Studies. His fame seems to be based on doing media interviews based on that polemic and his work for MyGeneration charity.

But his so-called charity was only registered last year and has not filed any accounts or annual report. Its registered office is in north London not north Kensington where Bailey is meant to be hard at work.

Like all the other Tory candidates, Bailey shows no understanding of the scale of the Tory council cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham. Despite his 'charity roots', he clearly doesn't understand that making £34 million of cuts in local services is having a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable and elderly residents in the borough.

24 March 2007

Q: When is a children's centre not a children's centre?

A: When it's proposed in Hammersmith & Fulham by the Tory council!

The Government is creating 3,500 children's centres across the country by 2010 with one in every neighbourhood offering a range of 'core services'. Funding for these centres was confirmed in the Chancellor's recent Budget.

The first five children's centres in Hammersmith & Fulham were set up by the previous Labour council, with seven further centres planned.

So what has the new Tory Council gone and done? They have decided that the seven new centres should instead be 'satellite children's centres' with a much reduced range of services. So children and families living near these seven 'centres' won't be able to access a range of support in their local community. They'll be expected to travel further to one of the five original centres!

The Tories have instead decided to use about half of the children's centres funding to pay for a central team of social workers - completely contrary to the original spirit and intention of the children's centres programme of providing services a 'pram push' away from where families live.

Fortunately the Tories' plans still have to be approved by the Department for Education and Skills...

Have your say (part two)

The local Conservatives have issued an invitation to anyone registered to vote in the new Hammersmith parliamentary constituency to help select their candidate at the next general election.

The event is an "open primary" meeting to be held at 7pm on Thursday 29 March at the Polish Centre, 238-246 King Street, London W6.

There is a shortlist of four candidates. Will they select someone with local connections, a right winger or someone more in tune with David Cameron's new Conservatives?

To participate, you need to register with the Conservative association beforehand by sending an email to:


You don't have to be a Conservative supporter to attend. The selection process is sure to be at the very least an interesting evening, to quote a local Conservative source.

22 March 2007

Better council services, you must be joking

It's that time of year when council tax bills land on doormats. H&F Council, as it now seems to be known, has sent gaudy green and blue leaflets with the bill.

Proclaiming better services, Hammersmith & Fulham council leader Stephen Greenhalgh omits to mention the £34 million cuts in local services he is presiding over. Or the 18% pay rise Tory councillors voted for themselves. And worse still, Cllr Greenhalgh boasts of providing free homecare just as his council is about to start charging for home helps!

The Tories' hypocrisy, arrogance and shame knows no bounds.

20 March 2007

and it's not just the Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham...

Tory councils are showing the true face of David Cameron's new Conservative Party. It's not just Hammersmith & Fulham where the Tories are making huge cuts in local services. For details read Polly Toynbee's article in today's Guardian:


18 March 2007

Have your say (part one)

The council's newspaper h&f news (yes, the one with that hideous photo of Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh complete with blue rosette so you can spot the Tory) has been re-designed (presumably at no extra cost to the council tax payer?).

Apart from the usual articles attacking the Mayor of London, a surprising amount of space has been given to what look like emails on the council leader's favourite subjects such as council tax and congestion charge.

Strangely these emails are all signed by people with names like John, James, Alison, Deborah or even 'anonymous', but no other identifying details like surname or address. Of course one hopes these letters haven't been made up.

So why not send h&f news your thoughts on council cuts and other burning issues, by emailing handfnews@lbhf.gov.uk

Teenage pregnancies don't fall overnight

Unless Cllr Antony Lillis has been personally handing out condoms since May 2006, perhaps he shouldn't be so quick to take credit for the fall in teenage pregnancies in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The latest figures (for the last year when Labour ran the council) show a significant reduction in teenage pregnancies, after concerted action by the council and other local agencies over a period of years.

Now that Cllr Lillis and his Conservative colleagues have cut many of the support services, we will see what impact these cuts have on a wide range of social indicators.

Cuts in policing hit Hammersmith Broadway

The Tory council's much trumpeted policy of 24/7 policing in two parts of the borough has come with a big price.

Inevitably it has meant cuts in the number of police officers elsewhere, not least the Hammersmith Broadway ward which includes Hammersmith Grove and Hammersmith bus station.

Clearly the round-the-clock policing pilots at Fulham and Shepherds Bush are going to take resources away from other parts of the borough which will now attract more crime.

Why should the majority of local residents suffer as a result of this experiment?

Home help hypocrisy as Tories break manifesto promise

In the midst of all the cuts to local services in Hammersmith & Fulham, the Tories proudly claimed that they would not introduce charging for home help services. Now it seems even that manifesto promise has been ditched.

The Tories are planning to introduce charges for a wide range of practical support for elderly and disabled people, from help with cleaning and laundry to shopping. Many residents rely on these basic home help services to lead lives which most people take for granted.

The Tories' commitment to not charging for personal care simply doesn't wash. Their attempt to sneak through another cut in local services is just the latest example of redistributing money and services away from the most vulnerable to wealthier residents to pay for a derisory council tax reduction.

CORRECTION: pay rise was an 'administrative error'

Oops - see blog below. Apparently the Conservatives in Hammersmith & Fulham didn't mean to award themselves an 18% pay increase.

After being caught out, the Tory leader Stephen Greenhalgh says the decision was an 'administrative error'!

Presumably all the £34 million cuts in local services were errors too?

11 March 2007

Tory councillors vote themselves 18% pay rise...

...while Hammersmith & Fulham residents get £34 million cuts in local services.

Residents are angry that Conservative councillors voted through an 18% pay rise for themselves at the same time as slashing key services used by children and families, the elderly, the homeless and local residents.

At the annual budget meeting of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Conservative councillors voted for a £34 million cuts programme. The cuts include slashing £1.4 million from funding for home helps for the elderly and sick, taking £540,000 from children's play and youth services, and axing £915,000 from the street cleaning service.

Tory councillors then voted for an 18% pay rise, adding more than £68,000 to the council budget. Meanwhile, the £200.75 increase in meals-on-wheels charges will save the council £50,000 this year.

If residents were in any doubts about the new Conservative council's priorities, they surely can't be now. The cuts package is redistributing money from the poorest and most vulnerable to wealthier residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. Now the Conservatives are making sure 'savings' also go straight from poorer residents into Tory councillors' pockets.

08 March 2007

Tory fix fails as school closure gets SOCked

The proposed closure of Hurlingham and Chelsea school by the Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham got knocked back this week despite Tories' efforts to fix the latest stage of the process.

The closure was debated by the School Organisation Committee on Tuesday. Last month Tory Cabinet member Antony Lillis personally interviewed potential members of the committee to weed out opposition to the closure. Several local residents with decades of education experience in the borough were excluded.

But despite this, the SOC voted to refer the closure proposal to the independent Schools Adjudicator. This means that the battle to save the rapidly improving school will continue.

Strangely (again) this decision is not featured on the council's website. But it is another clear indication that the Tory council can't just ride roughshod over local people and wreck local services.

05 March 2007

Major life events take longer in Hammersmith & Fulham

One cut sneaked out by the Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham is the closure of Hammersmith Registry Office. That much loved office in the town hall car park by the Great West Road has been shut forever with barely a whisper.

Now if you have a birth, death or marriage to register in the borough, you have to trek all the way to Fulham Broadway to the registry office at Fulham Town Hall. That's particularly hard on the residents north of Hammersmith Broadway - at what is often a very difficult time for families.

26 February 2007

Tories 'clear off' warning

Not wanted in Hammersmith & Fulham. Cabinet member Cllr Greg Smith says he aims to “clear out the riff-raff”. That's an interesting way of describing the Tories' new social policies. It used to be called gerrymandering.

23 February 2007

Stars in their eyes

Hammersmith & Fulham Tories have been seething this week. The Audit Commission only gave the council three stars and the council's cultural services were rated as failing. If they're bad now, wait until the libraries cuts hit home.

Strangely this news doesn't merit a mention on the council website. Instead the site is full of protests about the congestion charge. That particular storm will soon be forgotten.

A chip off the old block

Sebastian Greenhalgh may still be a toddler but he's obviously following in his dad's shoes. Out on the streets protesting about the congestion charge last Saturday, Seb's photo then appeared in the Standard on Monday. Unfortunately it was used to illustrate a story about the supposed impact of the c charge on poorer families - shurely shome mishtake! Seb then adorned the front page of this week's Chronicle. Admittedly he is a bit more photogenic than his dad. But shouldn't he be at boarding school rather than protesting on the streets of Kensington? Perhaps he'll be smoking pot next.

18 February 2007

The Conservative cut that broke the borough's back

Since January details of Conservative cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham council services have been unveiled. It's been a non-stop attack on the most vulnerable people in the borough (see previous blogs) - all to pay for a council tax cut of 50p a week.

Now the cuts are to be agreed by the Conservative cabinet on Monday 19 February before going before the full Council meeting on 28 February.

What has emerged from all the detail has been a proposal to scrap the mobile library service used by elderly residents and families with children.

This highly visible cut may prove to be the Tories' biggest mistake so far. Clearly the Tories have no concern for services they don't use. Clearly they are happy to leave elderly people isolated in their homes, having also cut meals on wheels and home help services.

The library bus is a sign of a civilised community. The Tories will come to regret this cut which may seem to them to be a small saving but is a big error of judgement.

It's also another example of how the Tories' cuts mean worse services in Hammersmith & Fulham. The cuts are going to cost a lot of local residents much more than the 50p saved on council tax.

All in a week when some of the Tories' biggest supporters got huge bonuses of millions of pounds for pushing money around in the city. What a strange world we live in.

Another attack on the Mayor of London

The Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham has a one track mind - when all else fails, attack the Mayor of London.

Over recent months a substantial amount of council taxpayers' money has been used to fund party political attacks on the Mayor - from the congestion charge and tram to affordable housing and council tax.

Most recently Tory MP for Hammersmith & Fulham Greg Hands has been pictured on the front of the council website (http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/) holding a placard opposing the extension of the congestion charge.

This abuse of council tax must be stopped now.

From smarter borough to dirtier borough

Have you noticed how the streets of Hammersmith & Fulham have been getting really dirty in recent months? Litter and leaves, rubbish and dog poo everywhere. It certainly seems to be getting worse in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

So why are the Tories are cutting a massive £915,000 from the street cleaning budget this year? Having boasted that the borough has the fourth cleanest streets out of the 33 London boroughs (measured when the previous Labour council was in office!), the Tories are determined to plummet down the league. Their election pledge of better services seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

The council's 'smarter borough' slogan should be replaced with 'dirtier borough'.

28 January 2007

Tories don't care that they don't care

Pick on someone your own size might be an appropriate appeal to the leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council. As the true scale of the council cuts is revealed, it's the elderly, disabled and mentally ill who are being hit hardest.
In addition to cutting spending on home care by over half a million pounds through privatisation, the Tories are planning to restrict who gets home help services to save £1.25 million. This means that hundreds of vulnerable people will not get a service. Together with the privatisation of home helps, fewer people will now get a worse service. And delays in the privatisation will not even generate the 'savings' originally predicted.
The Tories are also 'reconfiguring' mental health day services by closing the Tamworth centre which was only opened ten years ago. The site in Farm Lane is worth a fortune and the local nimbies will love to get rid of the service! The Tories also talk about savings of £250,000 by 'introducing service user contributions' - what they really mean is charging! Only 12 of the 65 people using the Tamworth centre will be offered services in Shepherds Bush (very convenient for users in Fulham!). What can be predicted is that this cost saving will in the long run have higher costs for both social services and the NHS.
Finally, meals on wheels are to go up 35p in price from April. But the true increase is 55p, as there has just been a first stage increase of 20p. A 24% rise in total!
These cuts will have a devastating effect on people using these social services. And they will cost all local residents more in the longer term, picking up the pieces of this neglect.
The Tories don't care that they don't care. They will just go out and buy what they need for their families, and never mind other local people.

22 January 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

Someone at Hammersmith & Fulham Council is clearly worried. The picture on the home page of the council website has been changed following widespread concerns that local Tories have used the same photo on the front of their latest leaflet (see previous blog re picture of unappealing fat man).

Why it's thought that simply cutting out the anti-GLA placard from the council website photo will make things OK is bizarre.

It doesn't answer the charge of misuse of council resources for party political purposes by the Conservatives. The Tories have used this council PR stunt for their own ends but are now caught red-handed such is their arrogance.

And it doesn't stop there. Rookie Cllr Paul Bristow who fancies himself as the Tory parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith has got his hands on the same council placards and is pictured holding them inside the town hall on his new blog. Not very clever Paul. Wonder what the district auditor will think of that?

20 January 2007

Tory junk mail recycles council propaganda

You may have been unlucky enough to get a leaflet recently from Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives. Of course you might have binned it immediately because it looks like a dodgy leaflet from a bank offering a rather shabby financial product with a picture of an unappealing fat man.

But for anyone who has seen Hammersmith & Fulham Council's website and other PR material, the photo on the front of the Tories' new leaflet has a familiar look to it. That's because the Tories have used council publicity for their own political purposes. This disgraceful and illegal use of council taxpayers' funds should be investigated now.

What the leaflet fails to mention is:

* the cuts being made by the council over the next three years amount to £14 million, £26 million and £34 million in successive years between 2007-8 and 2009-10
* the cuts will hit some of the most vulnerable people locally: the elderly and disabled, children and young people who rely on council services from home helps to libraries

It also fails to mention how cutting street cleaning by almost £1 million this year will deal with litter, graffiti and flytipping.

Amazingly, the leaflet repeats the Tories' ambition to cut council tax to Wandsworth levels but fails to say how they will do it. Cutting the council tax by less than 9% by 2010 is hardly going to deliver that election pledge - while Hammersmith & Fulham residents will have seen long valued services go to the wall.

14 January 2007

Tories fail budget scrutiny in Hammersmith & Fulham

After much fanfare by Hammersmith & Fulham Tories of a 3% cut in council tax, the reality is beginning to sink in.

Despite raiding the council's reserves and getting more cash from central government than expected, the Tories are promising to cut their share of the council tax by less than 9% by 2010 - which will hardly help them meet their election promise of Wandsworth council tax levels.

The cost of the council tax cut is being borne by all local residents but particularly the most vulnerable. In total the Tories' first budget features £14.5 million cuts in 2007-8, £26 million cuts in 2008-9, and £34 million cuts in 2009-10 - so worse is to come.

Cuts in local services already announced include:

* over £900,000 cut in spending on cleaning local streets which will mean more litter, flytipping and graffiti
* privatising many council services including the home help service for elderly and disabled people and cutting the numbers getting home helps
* hiking charges for meals on wheels and reducing the service
* higher fees and charges for most council services
* cutting support for local theatres and arts and for libraries

The Tories have failed their first test. This budget hurts local people and offers a pathetic cut in council tax which no one will notice when they get their bills with the GLA share included. Only the wealthy who don't use local services stand to benefit.

09 January 2007

January sales: 3% off ain't much of a bargain

Watch out. Mr Blobby is waving a placard. Not to save the whale. But to announce the council's plans to cut council tax by 3%.

Hammersmith & Fulham residents are not exactly going crazy with excitement. Having been promised cuts in council tax to Wandsworth levels at the local elections last May, they are now underwhelmed by the offer of a mere 3% cut. Even the previous Labour council was planning a real cut in council tax in the coming years!

But on top of a pathetic 3%, the Tories are axeing public services to pay for their derisory cut. If you're elderly or disabled and need home helps or meals on wheels, then watch out. If you need decent schools or childcare in Hammersmith & Fulham, then watch out. And if you want more police, then make sure local businesses cough up the money.

And guess what, Conservative councillors are yet again attacking the Mayor of London as they try to disguise their own failures. Rather than spending council tax on party political propaganda, they should get their own house in order.

Or perhaps it's all part of a secret campaign to elect Greg Hands as the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. But if 3% is all they can manage while wrecking local services and doing hundreds of local people out of jobs, Greg and his gang will soon get their come uppance.