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.