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: