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.