23 December 2008

H&F's twelve days of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas our Tory council sent to us:

Twelve pounds 40p an hour for home care
Eleven per cent increase in spending on spin
Ten polo players
Nine homeless hostels axed
Eight months without a tube station
Seven estates under threat
Six hundred higher charges
Five thousand pounds pay rise for the leader
Four thousand two hundred redundancy notices
Three French schools
Two schools closed and
A call centre in Rochdale.

17 December 2008

What a choice

Tory H&F council is consulting residents on the future of the long-standing garden waste recycling scheme in the borough.

The choices are:

a) stop the service (and stop garden waste recycling)
b) pay for each collection as happens for large household goods eg wardrobes, sofas etc
c) pay a minimum of £23 a year for the service which was free until the Tories introduced charges

Another Tory con, another Tory cut - what a choice!

From 'super sewer' to health scare

The Tories are using H&F council's PR and spin operation to scaremonger again.

Not long after residents saw through the Tories' 'super sewer' threats, the council has issued unwarranted warnings about the future of Charing Cross hospital in the latest H&F News.

The Tories have 'form' on the hospital, having claimed it was going to close in the 2005 general election. In 2008 it is of course alive and kicking as 'the largest and busiest hospital in west London'.

That last bit by the way is a recent quote from Tory H&F leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh (whose dad works at Charing Cross hospital as he reminds everyone whenever he can). Clearly Cllr Greenhlagh is busy trying to distract residents from the Tory cuts in local council services.

What will be next? Answers please to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

15 December 2008

Christmas treats

It's that time of the year again and hfconwatch is preparing its end of year specials.

So please send any ideas for Christmas treats for H&F council plus suggestions for new year resolutions 2009 to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

Biting the hand that feeds

H&F council press releases often quote the so-called Taxpayers Alliance to justify the latest spending cuts by the Tory regime.

Now the Taxpayers Alliance has spotted that H&F council's spending on PR and spin rose by more than 11% last year.

So maybe we'll see fewer press releases, posters and sewer stunts in 2009?

Missing in action

Having devoted himself 100% to winning in Middlesbrough, Tory H&F cabinet member and councillor for Fulham Reach Paul Bristow has disappeared from the world stage.

We are sad to report that the much maligned Bristow Blog (www.thebristowblog.typepad.com) has been removed from public consumption.

Perhaps it is being sanitised by Conservative central office now Paul is standing for Parliament, so that the voters of Middlesbrough don't get a chance to see the real Bristow.

12 December 2008

Putting developers first

H&F Tory council's relationships with developers is causing chaos across the borough.

Plans to develop a special school in West Kensington have been put on hold because the council wants to completely redevelop the Gibbs Green estate for a conference and exhibition centre, never mind the thousands of residents who live there.

Elsewhere a huge battle is raging between Tesco and Waitrose and their developers over the town hall development in King Street - again regardless of the local residents, many of whom are blind and have lived in the area for years.

Yet more examples of Tory H&F council putting residents last.

09 December 2008

From the horse's mouth

According to the Evening Standard (so it must be true), Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, is learning to ride - apparently so he can play polo and go hunting.

No doubt Bailey is preparing himself for the international polo tournament in Hurlingham Park next year or his next appearance in Tatler. Rather than canvassing in Shepherds Bush.

06 December 2008

In the footsteps of Cyril Smith

Better known as the birthplace of Gracie Fields, Rochdale is soon to host the H&F council call centre following a decision by the Tory cabinet.

This may seem strange to most H&F residents who are fed up with talking to their banks' call centres in remote locations. But the decision to re-locate is driven by one reason only - the fact that H&F council's IT supplier has a large operation based at Rochdale council.

That may be fine for Rochdale residents but it's hardly putting H&F residents first. Never mind refuse collection or school holidays or street litter or parking problems, will the new call centre be able to answer enquiries about the forthcoming polo tournament in the borough?

30 November 2008

Congestion champion of west London

Tory H&F leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh welcomes the axeing of the extended congestion charge zone by telling the Evening Standard he has one word for it and then proceeds to use one hundred words.

All from the man who has done more to create congestion in H&F and failed to tackle the influx of cars to Westfield.

The biggest con of them all

Another week of Tories in H&F crowing about the 3% cut in council tax.

Well, 50p a week isn't worth very much if your streets are filthy, your homes aren't repaired or refurbished, you have lost your home help service or your youth club, and the list goes on and on.

And 50p a week isn't worth very much if you're faced with the 578 new and higher charges introduced by the Tory council in the last two years. From parking, garden waste recycling and childcare to meals on wheels and home care, H&F residents are paying more for local services.

So, don't fall for the con in Conservative.

Mirror mirror on the wall...

who is the blobbiest of them all?

H&F Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh went head to head with Tory bigwig Eric Pickles this week in their latest photocall.

24 November 2008

We are going to give this 100%!

So said Cllr Paul Bristow when he was selected as Conservative candidate for Middlesbrough (see story below).

That will mean a big fat zero per cent for H&F then. So much for putting residents first!

23 November 2008

Another Tory councillor does a runner

Polo-loving Tory H&F cabinet member Paul Bristow is the latest Conservative councillor to do a runner. Paul has been chosen as the Tory candidate for the Parliamentary constituency of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

Unfortunately for H&F residents this north east constituency is a safe Labour seat, so it's probably not the last we will see of Cllr Bristow. But it will mean that he is distracted from defending his marginal council ward of Fulham Reach.

Never backwards in coming forward, Paul strangely doesn't mention his affection for Middlesbrough on the Bristow Blog. No doubt he has told Middlesbrough residents of his love for polo, which is a huge sport in that part of the world.

22 November 2008

Tory scaremongering in overdrive

Not content with having peddled the worst lies about the future of Charing Cross hospital, H&F Tories are now creating all sorts of fiction to distract attention from their own cuts in local services.

As local people can observe, Charing Cross hospital is alive and vibrant and expanding - three years after Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands warned that it would be closed.

Now the Tory council has spent thousands of pounds of council taxpayers' money to misinform residents about Thames Water's plans to develop a 'super sewer'. The council said Ravenscourt Park was under threat despite clear statements to the contrary.

Local residents can see through the Tories' latest attempts to mislead. Their 'super sewer' stories really stink.

Home sweet home?

Tens of thousands of council tenants in H&F face an uncertain future this winter as the Tory council plans to demolish housing and redevelop estates across the borough.

First to feel the impact are tenants of Watermeadow estate in Sands End where 80 homes are being bulldozed. Tenants will have no choice but to move elsewhere.

And much more is on the cards as the Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh issued 'a cast iron pledge' to redevelop other local estates.

H&F Tories lead Cameron up cul de sac

The bizarre statement by Conservative leader David Cameron earlier this week pledging to cut public spending in the economic crisis shows he has been paying too much attention to H&F Tories.

Cuts in local services are causing misery for thousands of people in H&F. Meanwhile every household in the borough faces hundreds of new and increased charges for services.

Same old Tories...

15 November 2008

Brook Green bungle

In a shameless political move, local Conservative activist Susannah Frieze has been given a column in the council newspaper, H&F News.

Frieze and her husband Anthony, who lost out to Shaun Bailey in the contest to be Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith, are both potential Tory candidates in the 2010 council elections.

The Tories' abuse of council publicity continues...

Tories fail another schools test

H&F council has not been given a share of national funding for rebuilding primary schools - because of incompetence and poor planning.

The council has been told to get its act together before it will be allowed to receive its share of the funding so that government inspectors are assured it will be spent properly.

Following the controversy over H&F Tories' plans for secondary education, when attempts to close Hurlingham and Chelsea School and merge Henry Compton and Fulham Cross Schools met opposition from parents, teachers and pupils alike, this latest failure shows that the Tories simply cannot be trusted with education at any level.

Nine to five

For Rupert Bear's latest video about Tory H&F council sending redundancy notices to all council staff, have a laugh at:


Only fools and horses

Polo update: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/olympics/2008/11/i_lived_and_worked_in.html

Apparently Cllr Paul Bristow wants to bring polo back to the inner cities. More like 'Only Fools and Horses'!

06 November 2008

Anyone for, er, polo?

Having backed down last year over his plans for boxing and wrestling in H&F parks, Tory cabinet member Paul Bristow has now opened up Hurlingham Park for an international polo competition.

Apart from the minority nature of this sport - not many local residents even in Fulham own the appropriate equipment! - polo requires a huge playing area, the size of approximately nine American football pitches.

Surely local residents could do better things with our parks.

What is going on in H&F?

Just a few days away and, coming back, H&F seems to be going through an intense period of Tory madness.

Reeling from the backlash by local residents against the chaos caused by the Westfield development, the Tory council is rushing through measures to deal with parking problems.

This comes just days after the council rather bizarrely described Westfield as a 'cathedral of consumer capitalism'. So in awe of the developers, the council clearly failed to anticipate the practical implications of Westfield for life in Shepherds Bush.

Elsewhere residents are up in arms about lapdancing and hotel developments and plans to sell off council estates, let alone a local park being hired out for polo matches and the council's call centre being relocated to Rochdale. What is going on?!

PS And just as his leader tries to don Obama's mantle, apparently Tory MP for Fulham Greg Hands cast his vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin! Was that a 'vote for change'?

31 October 2008

But what about the cars?

Westfield is open on time. It looks great. Let's not forget where credit lies for the vision to make it happen.

Meanwhile Tory H&F council has been caught short by failing to plan for the influx of cars to Shepherds Bush causing chaos for local residents. Not only is there gridlock, there is also nowhere to park on local streets.

Perhaps this is the end of the Tories' love affair with the car?

26 October 2008

Council apologises in advance for gridlock

Just a few days before the opening of the Westfield shopping centre, the H&F Tory council leader has written to Shepherds Bush residents in anticipation of traffic chaos in the north of the borough.

Ironically Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh's letter bemoans local congestion at the same time as he and his fellow Conservatives do everything they can to campaign against congestion charging.

20 October 2008

'Family friendly' policies given the boot at H&F council

Tory H&F council (David Cameron's 'favourite council') has just issued 90-day redundancy notices to all 4200 staff. This is so they can substantially cut staff terms and conditions including halving maternity leave, imposing seven day working, cutting leave and it goes on.

Why is such an attack on staff necessary? What are the 'service-critical savings' to be gained by preventing staff flexing out sometimes at 3pm to pick up kids from schools that generally (including in H&F) end the day at 3.30 pm? Or cutting maternity leave in half (or more)? Or reducing carers' leave to 15 hours a year?

Welcome to 'family friendly' H&F council - giving us another taster of what a Conservative government would do.

19 October 2008

Council staff face worsening conditions

In a sign of things to come, Tory H&F council has given its staff notice that their terms and conditions of employment are to be drastically worsened.

A whole package of measures - covering hours, leave, sickness and flexible working - is to to be introduced next year.

Watch out for more Tory cuts and secret budgets as we approach the 2010 council elections.

11 October 2008

Short back and sides?

The pavement on the Uxbridge Road between Boscombe Road and Percy Road was nicely re-laid only a few months ago, with railings removed to create more space.

But for the last two months part of it has been damaged, surrounded by cones and tape, and left untouched - outside No.179 (John's the barbers).

It's an eyesore and raises questions about why it hasn't been repaired. It's also not good for the small businesses along this part of the Uxbridge Road.

Who will fix it?

09 October 2008

Now you see him, now you don't

Tory candidate for Hammersmith Shaun Bailey spent plenty of time on stage at the Conservative conference in Birmingham last week.

But today he seems to have gone missing. Bailey was billed to be on tonight's BBC Question Time but appears to have been pulled in favour of a Tory heavyweight Ken Clarke.

08 October 2008

Costly, confused, crazy - and that's just the Tory councillors

It must have seemed like a good publicity stunt at the time but the photo on the front of the latest H&F News has several Tory councillors holding self-descriptive banners:

Cllr Nicholas Botterill - COSTLY
Cllr Paul Bristow - CONFUSED
Cllr Frances Stainton - CRAZY

Unfortunately Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh isn't holding the banner marked ILL-CONCEIVED.

07 October 2008

New station, no lifts or bike stands

The long-awaited re-opening of Shepherds Bush central line station - did it really take eight months to build a greenhouse over the old station? - is causing a few rows already.

Not only have no lifts been installed inside the station, but outside there are no bike stands anywhere to be seen.

What has Tory H&F council been doing for the last eight months? Bike stands now, please.

05 October 2008

Cameron backs Fulham & Chelsea candidate


Check out the above link - the funniest blog/pic for some time.

At the Conservative conference in Birmingham this week, David Cameron posed for photos with the parliamentary candidate for Fulham & Chelsea - except Cameron must have forgotten that the Tory candidate is Greg Hands, not Alex Hilton who is standing for Labour!

02 October 2008

Tories panic over gridlocked borough

With just four weeks to go until the Westfield shopping development opens its doors for business, panic is spreading about looming traffic chaos.

In today's Evening Standard H&F council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh rather belatedly warns that local roads won't be able to cope with the extra cars heading into the borough to visit Westfield.

Three new stations are opening this month to serve the development but it's the road traffic which worries the car-loving Tories.

And having supported the closure of Shepherds Bush central line station for over eight months, the Tory council still hasn't managed to get a lift installed in the brand new station.

No wonder H&F Tories are expecting a backlash in the north of the borough come 30 October. A grim halloween is in prospect.

01 October 2008

Lies, damned lies and the 'good council' leader

Tory H&F council leader Stephen Greenhalgh has been trumpeting his achievements in the Sunday Telegraph. Cllr Greenhalgh has also published a booklet on 'good councils' for the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies.

In his Telegraph article, Cllr Greenhalgh repeats untruths about residents' savings in council tax and fails to mention the impact of increased charges and huge cuts in local services.

For a full demolition of Cllr Greenhalgh's spurious claims, see: http://thecowanreport.blogspot.com/

26 September 2008

Rochdale calling...

Hammersmith & Fulham residents phoning the town hall will soon get their calls answered by a call centre in Rochdale!

It's the latest cut to local services by the Tory council, and another blow to employment in the borough.

So whatever your query, let's hope that Rochdale knows the answer - or knows someone in the town hall who does...

09 September 2008

Tatler reveals the true face of new Tories

Without a hint of irony, Tory candidate for Hammersmith and self-proclaimed man of the people, Shaun Bailey, appears in the October issue of Tatler. Dressed in a designer suit, Bailey is tipped by Tatler to become Home Secretary.

As even the Evening Standard says, "the sense of presumption is monstrous".

08 September 2008

Whose ecole is it?

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham trumpets the opening of a new French school on the site of Peterborough primary school which was closed earlier this year after more than a century of education in the south of the borough.

But it's not clear who the French school is for, who pays to go there, and why the council is using its PR machine to promote this new private school.

27 August 2008

Disney characters set to exit stage right

Donald duck and Minnie mouse have only been at the town hall since May 2006.

But already it appears that the Tory councillors have both had enough and won't be standing again in Palace Riverside.

Will their disappearing act make this a marginal ward again?

Laugh? It makes you want to cry

Heard the one about concreting the toilet? It's the Tories' latest joke on H&F.

Like the Empire and the Bush theatre, Ginglik is a venue which gives Shepherds Bush its edge. Promoting new comedy and music talent, it has a loyal following of over 25,000 members from across London – all from a converted toilet under Shepherds Bush Green.

Now the Tory council plans to spend £50,000 filling Ginglik with concrete – and not even as a piece of performance art.

As part of the almost £4 million of Westfield’s money the council is spending on Shepherds Bush Green, it intends to take away the railings surrounding Ginglik and has decided the roof of its premises is not strong enough. As freeholder the council will not undertake the repairs (it only has £4 million to play with after all), so it wants Ginglik to close next February.

Why do the Tories want to axe this successful venue? But all is not lost as Ginglik owners Colin and Tammi fight to stay open. Since at least 5,000 members are also local voters, they may be in luck. Let's hope the last laugh is for Ginglik.

Legal challenge to care charging

Disabled people using community care services in Hammersmith & Fulham are taking the council to court over its introduction of charging.

Having withdrawn services from nearly 550 people in July 2007, the council recently agreed to introduce charges for hundreds of older and disabled residents for care services. This was despite a Conservative promise not to introduce charges for essential home care services when the Tories were elected in 2006. The council voted in June 2008 to introduce a charging policy in breach of its earlier commitment.

Solicitors have advised that the decision to introduce charges appears to have been unlawful. A claim for judicial review has been lodged at the High Court arguing that the decision was unlawful because the council was not legally entitled to ignore its promise not to introduce charging and because it should have considered the impact on disabled people before it took the decision.

Under the new policy, due to be implemented on 1st January 2009, older and disabled people will be charged for these essential services at the rate of £10 per hour, with no maximum limit, plus the option to increase the rate to £12.40 per hour. The savings that the council will make through charges are a very small part of the overall budget.

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. They aim to challenge cuts in services and jobs, which will negatively impact on the quality of life of many local residents.

For more information contact:
Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts
PO Box 57168, London, SW6 7UW
Email hafcac@hotmail.co.uk

24 August 2008

Where the Tory cabinet went on their holidays

After the revelations that David Cameron's real holiday was on a luxury yacht in Turkey (not modelling for Boden in Cornwall), hfconwatch can reveal where the H&F Tory cabinet spent this summer:

Instead of visiting his second home in France, council leader Stephen Greenhalgh went to Beijing as part of his forensic audit of the Mayor of London. He was accompanied by Greg Smith, keen to learn new policing techniques for Hammersmith & Fulham.

Two Cabinet members did make it to France. Mark Loveday returned to Cannes to seek out property developers to take over large swathes of H&F. Meanwhile Antony Lillis brushed up on his French to market more local schools for purchase by the French government.

Elsewhere Lucy Ivimy was invited to India to examine rubbish collection, Frances Stainton stayed in Fulham again, while Nick Botterill took a flight from Heathrow to a secret destination.

Finally Paul Bristow visited most parts of this country in his desperate search for a parliamentary seat.

PS none of them bought the Rough Guide...

New look to mark double century

Time for a change. After two hundred blogs inspired by the Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham, hfconwatch has got a new look.

Sponsored by Westfield, this blog is now also counting down to the opening of the new Shepherds Bush shopping development. 66 days to go to 30 October 2008......

Please share any stories: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

17 August 2008

Foot in mouth pt 1094

Rent-a-quote Tory MP Greg Hands thought Labour MPs without pics of the Prime Minister on their website were a sitting target for some of his biting criticism.

But thanks to the Sunday Times diary for spotting Hands' hypocrisy on this matter - for some reason, the Tory MP for Fulham doesn't have a photo of his beloved leader, David Cameron, on his own website!

12 August 2008

Greg doesn't like it 'Rough'

Of all the August silly season stories, this must be the worst. Tory Fulham MP Greg Hands has blasted well known travel books like Rough Guide and Lonely Planet for being 'left-wing'.

Perhaps Greg should stick to Michelin, Sawday, Mr & Mrs Smith etc if he can't stand a bit of Rough.

11 August 2008

Rubbish rubbish everywhere

The streets of Hammersmith & Fulham are strewn with litter and bin bags following the privatisation of the refuse collection and street cleaning services.

The Tories did not promise to create a 'dirtier borough' when elected in 2006...

100 days to scrap affordable housing

As Boris Johnson marks his first 100 days as Mayor, his true colours are showing.

In a decision which they say marks a major shift away from building affordable homes in London, Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council has persuaded Mayor Boris Johnson to trash his own planning policies only a couple of weeks after GLA officers tried to uphold them.

A £50 million development in the White City area of Shepherds Bush was designed to bring the first 'polyclinic' in the UK and 170 homes to one of the most deprived areas of London. But when the local council changed hands two years ago, the new Tory administration objected to the affordable element of the scheme – in particular the 25% marked for family rented housing.

As a result the scheme has been delayed for two years before going to the council’s planning committee on 15 July 2008. The size of the scheme means that the Mayor has a veto and Ken Livingstone had made it clear that the rented housing must be part of the mix.

At the planning committee a report from the GLA was laid round objecting to the scheme. It said: ‘The location of the development on Wormholt Park with new collaborative health care centre with social services would provide further community facilities making these units ideally positioned for new family accommodation. The circumstances are such that the benefits arising from the proposal and its location are clearly suited to provide some provision of new social rented accommodation…a zero social rented development in this case would be a disproportionate approach.’

The council agreed the application despite the GLA objections on the grounds that they could negotiate directly with the Mayor to get rid of the rented homes. This week the GLA issued a further report which stated ‘the zero social rent approach remains unresolved’ but withdrawing its objection without reason.

Boris Johnson’s rejection of his own professional officers' advice shows that party politics rather than the planning or housing policy are determining decisions at City Hall. Hammersmith & Fulham has very high housing need, with over 8,000 on the waiting list and thousands of families overcrowded or in temporary accommodation. 50% of households in the borough have an income below £20,000 and social rented housing is the only opportunity they have to find decent homes.

The Tory council says there is too much social rented housing in the borough, although as a percentage of the whole housing stock it is below the inner London average. They aim to reduce the amount of affordable rented homes by a combination of demolition, sales and setting a zero target on new developments. This will mean thousands more families will suffer the misery of overcrowded, inadequate or unfit homes.

There is also a political agenda here. Like Lady Porter in Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham council believe social tenants are more inclined to support parties other than the Tories. The spectre of gerrymandering is returning to west London 20 years on.


Rupert Bear on the council pay gap

Rupert Bear's latest video on YouTube focuses on the growing pay gap at Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council.

Enjoy at:


Hands' fingerprints all over it

The Mail on Sunday had Greg Hands' fingerprints all over it recently. The Fulham MP was protesting that he is stigmatised because the police have held his details on the national DNA database since his uncle's murder.

Hands claims to be an innocent victim but, as one of the people commenting about the Mail's story asks, why does he deserve special treatment just because he's an MP.

Have a look yourself at:


21 July 2008

Money does grow on trees in H&F

Not content with introducing more than 500 new and higher charges for local services, Tory H&F council is now charging residents £250 to plant a tree in their street.

Even the council's own press release trumpeting the new charge admits that over 2,000 trees have been planted in streets across the borough in the last eight years. So why start charging now?

This madcap scheme has been dreamt up by Cllr Harry Phibbs, whose diary stories for the Evening Standard are responsible for several forests being destroyed every year. He says that planting a tree will help local property prices, so expect to see a few new trees in 'desirable' streets in Fulham shortly.

Tory councillors clearly cannot see the wood for the trees. This TORY TREE TAX is another step too far for local residents - they expect their council tax to pay for this and other services.

Shops, lifts and donations

Questions are increasingly being asked about the relationship between Westfield, developers of the new White City shopping centre, and Tory H&F council and the Tory candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey.

First it's clear that Shepherds Bush central line station didn't need to close. What's not clear is why H&F council supported the closure which has disrupted the lives of thousands and thousands of local residents.

Why did H&F council fall over backwards to accommodate Westfield's demands which have meant 24/7 working around the site, causing misery to residents in streets north of Shepherds Bush Green.

And why has the work gone ahead without installing a lift in the new station? The Tory council announced in April that it had secured the lift - then last week condemned LU's failure to install one. The truth is LU has been backing off much of the below ground improvements on grounds of cost but this was revealed by local MP Andy Slaughter who has doggedly pursued both the council and LU over their failures.

Why did the council propose closing Wood Lane to northbound traffic, cutting one of the major arteries in the north of the borough and causing daily disruption in Shepherds Bush? Again it was to accommodate Westfield. Thames Water who are responsible for the works only wished to do it section by section - meaning traffic light controls but continued two-way traffic.

Westfield also seems to be in bed with Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for Hammersmith. Bailey's company has been given money to train security staff and for him to lecture in local schools. Glossy leaflets promoting him and paid for by Westfield have been circulated in Shepherd Bush. In response Bailey promotes Westfield - he has made Westfield his website of the week in his latest Tory email. How on earth does he think he can represent local residents if he is already on the side of big business?

20 July 2008

Schools out for summer

The July H&F council cabinet meeting saw the final humiliating climb down in the Tories’ desperate and botched attempts to use Fulham secondary schools as a means to generate money.

As parents, teachers and pupils will remember, the disastrous series of events started with the shock proposal to sell off Hurlingham and Chelsea school, one of the most improved secondary schools in the country, in order to cash in the value of the land the school sits on. A grassroots campaign by local parents and schools resulted in the Tories having to reverse this decision.

Still in search of land for luxury housing developments, in an attempt to shore-up their electoral support that would make Shirley Porter proud, the Tories then turned their attention to Fulham Cross and Henry Compton schools. They proposed that the two single-sex schools should remain single sex but merge into a single site, so that one of the valuable sites should be sold off. This bonkers idea was quietly assigned to the Tories’ bulging dustbin of failed schemes at the cabinet meeting last week.

One of the real tragedies of this sorry saga is that the council has been too distracted by the games being played by their Tory political masters to focus on raising standards in our schools. Results have plummeted at Burlington Danes School, leaving what was once an impressively improving school, teetering on the brink of failure. Moreover, where is the grammar school the Tories promised in their election campaign?

Surely it's time for cabinet member Cllr Anthony Lillis to step aside in favour of a more sober and coherent approach to schools, that puts the education of our children before a land grab? But while local parents, struggling to get by in the credit crunch, worry about their children’s future, the Tory councillors have had huge pay raises (voted for by themselves) to cover most of their children’s private school fees.

12 July 2008

Cheap deal adds insult to injury

Peterborough primary school in Sands End shuts its doors to pupils this month following Tory H&F council's decision to close the school after more than 100 years of education for local families.

Now to add insult to injury, the council is doing a deal with the French government to use the site for a private French school at a knock-down price.

The Tory cabinet is due to vote on a report on Monday 14 July which recommends leasing the site to the French at way below market value - £200,000 a year rather than the valuation of £283,000. The report says the council will lose at least £700,000 on the deal.

How can the Tories justify giving away public assets so cheaply with no benefit to local people? What is the special relationship between the French government and H&F Tory councillors?

05 July 2008

Will Bailey be the new Ray Lewis?

Rumours abound that the Mayor of London is looking to appoint Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for Hammersmith, as his new deputy mayor to replace the disgraced Ray Lewis.

No doubt the Mayor will scrutinise potential replacements much more closely than when Lewis was appointed.

Bailey has made appearances in the media talking about youth crime, based on his work for a charity called MyGeneration and a pamphlet for the Centre for Policy Studies.

How will Hands mark NHS anniversary?

Today we can look back on 60 years of the NHS and thank the legions of doctors, nurses, porters and other staff who over the years have made the service so successful. Their dedication is inspired by the fundamental principles on which the NHS was established - universal, free at the point of need and funded from general taxation.

How will H&F MP Greg 'helping' Hands mark the 60th birthday of the NHS? Will he continue his scaremongering about the future of Charing Cross hospital?

Of all Hands' campaigns, his warning in 2004-5 that Charing Cross hospital was about to close is the most scandalous. Anyone visiting the hospital today will see that it is in flourishing health, with lots of new investment and superb facilities.

Now, Hands and his Tory colleagues on H&F council are being at best ambiguous and at worst downright disgraceful in their lack of support for three new 'polyclinics' in the borough. These super-surgeries will bring quality healthcare a lot closer to patients. They are part of building a 21st Century NHS - clinically driven, patient centred, responsive to local communities and delivering the highest quality of care to everyone.

Happy 60th birthday to the NHS!

28 June 2008

Tories back huge property developers

As residents of Shepherds Bush have seen in the last six months, H&F Tories are very much on the side of the massive property developers moving into the borough.

Shepherds Bush has been closed down by the Tory council to help their friends at Westfield develop White City. Forget the fact that local residents need to use the tube, local roads and the buses - the Tories don't care.

But more is in store for the rest of the borough. Which is why Tory cabinet member Cllr Mark Loveday went on a jolly to Cannes recently to meet some new developers.

Already the Tories are planning upheaval at Hammersmith Grove and in King Street. Now they are looking at redeveloping the sites of some of the biggest council estates in H&F. West Ken estate has been earmarked according to the Chronicle newspaper.

The Tories really do put local residents last.

Tories' cuts in services hit residents hard

With more than £36 million cuts by the Tory council in local services, it's not surprising that Hammersmith & Fulham is showing the strain.

Wherever you walk in the borough, piles of rubbish and uncollected bin bags litter the pavements. Cuts in the funding of refuse collection and street cleaning and the privatisation of the service have left their mark.

Money earmarked for investing in local homes is threatened by the incompetence of the Tory council. Already the council's decent homes improvement programme is way behind schedule.

More and more older people are left lonely and isolated in their home as care services are cut and charges increased for meals on wheels and homecare.

Or they are frightened about going out on the streets because of rising crime in the borough.

And cuts in local youth services and closure of facilities have left young people with nothing to do.

Tory council costs you more

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham is cutting lots of local services and CHARGING local residents more.

Parking in the borough now costs up to £2.40 an hour. Rumours are rife that annual parking permit charges are set to go through the £100 mark.

Charges for homecare services for older and disabled people were recently agreed - up to £12.40 an hour. And meals on wheels now cost more than £200 a year extra.

And if you want to recycle garden waste, it costs £7.20 just to buy the right kind of bag!

Where is all this money going? Certainly not to improve services. What a con!

Whose side is Shaun Bailey on?

Does Conservative candidate for Hammersmith - Shaun Bailey - support Tory H&F council's cuts in local services and its councillors?

What does he think about the council cuts to care and support services for older people, given his charity helps the elderly? And what about all the new charges for people needing homecare support?

And does Bailey support the Tory cuts to children's and youth services and the closure of local facilities?

What does Bailey think about Tory cabinet member Cllr Lucy Ivimy's recent comments (see blogs below)? Everyone would like to know.

In fact whose side is Bailey on? Will he tell the electorate in Hammersmith?

23 June 2008

Another Tory example for Ivimy

The resignation today of Boris Johnson's political adviser in the latest Tory race row begs the question why Cllr Lucy Ivimy has not resigned - or been sacked - following her recent remarks attacking 'foreign born residents' (see previous blogs).

Speculation also continues as to whether Cllr Ivimy will attend the full council meeting this Wednesday when her comments are condemned by a special motion. The poor performance under the Tory council of H&F Homes - currently Cllr Ivimy's responsibility - is also condemned.

17 June 2008

Ivimy goes AWOL

Disgraced H&F Tory councillor Lucy Ivimy (see blogs galore below) missed her first Cabinet meeting as lead member for housing last night.

She also missed last week's Hammersmith North Housing Forum where residents were eager to ask her questions about her recent remarks insulting local residents.

If Cllr Ivimy had attended the Cabinet meeting, she would have seen disabled residents protesting against the introduction of homecare charges. Even though the Tory leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, admitted the move was a breach of the Tory manifesto, he refused to allow any resident to address the Cabinet.

The question on everyone's lips is: "Where is Cllr Ivimy?" Has she resigned without telling anyone? Will she be giving back her allowance for failing to undertake her public duties?

One week on, Cllr Ivimy's position remains untenable.

15 June 2008

Tories scrap manifesto pledge on care

On Monday the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham will vote to introduce charges of up to £12.40 an hour for home care services for older and disabled residents.

The move goes against the Conservatives' manifesto commitment and personal pledges by several leading councillors before the 2006 H&F council elections not to introduce home care charging.

The Tories have already made big cuts in the number of older and disabled people who get support from the council.

What will make Ivimy go?

News that a Tory member of the Welsh assembly has stood down from two posts and been suspended as a parliamentary candidate following remarks he made about Italians raises questions as to why no decisive action has been taken following H&F Conservative councillor Lucy Ivimy's offensive comments about immigrants and Indians in particular (see previous blogs).

Cllr Ivimy's comments have attracted anger and criticism from local residents, national and international media. The local newspaper front page headline was 'SACK HER!'. But Lucy Ivimy has not resigned nor been sacked for her unacceptable behaviour.

What are we waiting for?

PS watch Rupert Bear's latest video - Poison Ivy - at: http://www.youtube.com/user/rupertbear21

14 June 2008

Greenhalgh fails leadership test

The failure by H&F council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh to sack housing cabinet member Lucy Ivimy (see blog below) is an indictment of his leadership.

How can the views expressed by Cllr Ivimy be acceptable for anyone in public office, let alone in charge of housing? Cllr Greenhalgh has in effect condoned her racist comments. By describing her comments as 'idiotic', the Tory leader has suggested that she should have been more discreet in expressing her views.

Local residents are outraged by Cllr Lucy Ivimy's comments. They have brought H&F council into disrepute not just locally but across the world.

At the same time H&F Homes is reeling from the Audit Commission's assessment of its poor performance. How can Cllr Ivimy turn this round when her credibility has been completely undermined by her own actions?

11 June 2008

Will Greenhalgh sack Ivimy?

Less than two weeks after being appointed as cabinet member for housing in H&F, Tory councillor Lucy Ivimy faces calls to resign or be sacked for racism.

Today's Daily Mail and Evening Standard report that Cllr Ivimy blamed immigrants from India for littering an estate:


Local residents are appalled by Cllr Ivimy's comments and called for her to be kicked out of office. Pressure is on H&F Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh to take decisive action.

This latest incident follows exposure of Hammersmith & Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands' researcher in the media last October.

10 June 2008

Greg Hands descends into self-parody

If you have ever wondered what the Tory candidate for Chelsea and Fulham does in his spare time, check this out:


Not sure what Greg Hands was doing ten years ago checking out the family of the then 16 year old Siena (sic) Miller?

PS perhaps it's also time for Greg to confess that his scare tactics back in 2004-5 about Charing Cross hospital closing were not true - in 2008 the hospital is flourishing with new investment and developments galore.

09 June 2008

Tories shut down Shepherds Bush - again

Not content with supporting the closure of Shepherds Bush station earlier this year, the Tory council has consented to closing Wood Lane to northbound traffic.

This severing of a major artery in the north of H&F has caused gridlock in Shepherds Bush for the last week. Ironically this also makes the replacement buses for the station closure worse than useless.

All this to keep the Tories' friends happy at the Westfield development.

PS bets are now off for an October opening of the new development - it will take a miracle for Shepherds Bush to be open again before Christmas.

Boxing and wrestling in the park, seconds away...round two

Having lost on points in round one at the licensing panel last year (see previous blogs), Tory cabinet member Paul Bristow is back in the ring next week to see if he can persuade local residents that boxing, wrestling and other activities in Ravenscourt Park are a good idea.

At least that would seem to be why Cllr Bristow is holding a public meeting on 19 June to consider future events in H&F parks. Let's hope residents deliver a knockout blow.

26 May 2008

Rupert Bear dresses it up

YouTube fans will love Rupert Bear's latest videos on H&F council's antics. To the tune of The Kinks' Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Mr Bear reveals all at:


PS: Is it true that council staff are banned from accessing YouTube - despite the council claiming to be at the forefront of modern communication?

Cuts protest at annual council meeting

Residents get the chance to protest about Tory cuts in local services on Wednesday 28 May when H&F council has its annual meeting.

Hammersmith & Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts is organising the protest against the £36 million cuts in local services. The protest starts at 6.15 pm at Hammersmith Town Hall.

HAFCAC's focus is on cuts in support to older and disabled people, along with the Tories' planned introduction of home care charging despite their manifesto pledge not to do so.

Who leads on housing in H&F?

Further to the recent blog about the sacking of the cabinet member for housing, several new paid posts for Tory councillors are being created at this week's council meeting to tackle the borough's housing crisis.

Cllr Lucy Ivimy becomes cabinet member for housing following the sacking of Cllr Adronie Alford after the poor performance of H&F Homes.

But Cllr Alford is given several new paid roles to compensate - including chair of housing scrutiny and lead member for scrutiny of the H&F Homes ALMO.

In addition Cllr Gavin Donovan is made lead member for liaison with tenants and residents associations to compensate for being sacked as housing scrutiny chair.

So why are three Tory councillors needed to do a job previously done by Cllr Alford? Shouldn't Cllr Ivimy lead on liaison with tenants and residents and the effectiveness of the ALMO?

This promises to create chaos in accountability for improving housing at a critical time following the recent poor inspection which jeopardised substantial investment in decent homes.

PS a footnote for history - council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has decided to delete the role of 'lead member for recruitment' he awarded himself recently along with a £5k pay rise. Again, a job he should have been doing anyway.

Council propaganda under attack

Hundreds of horrible green H&F council banners hung on lamposts in town centres have been given a 'wooden spoon' by local conservation groups, the Hammersmith Society and H&F Historical Buildings Group.

The Tory propaganda is described by the groups as 'unnecessary, obtrusive and a real visual intrusion' and 'cluttering the streets'.

They have called for the banners to be banned - but the Tory council says it's planning more signs in the future as its publicity spirals out of control.

19 May 2008

Cllr Awful replaced by Cllr Informe

As predicted by hfconwatch in March, Cllr Adronie Alford has been sacked as Tory cabinet member for housing after a dreadful performance by the H&F housing almo.

Cllr Alford will be replaced at the annual council meeting by Cllr Lucy Ivimy - it's not clear what she knows about housing either.

Cllr Alford has been given a new scrutiny role (with payment) to make up for her sacking.

15 May 2008

Who saved our post offices?

Five out of the eight local post offices facing closure have been saved.

This remarkable and unprecedented success story follows a major targeted campaign by Shepherds Bush MP Andy Slaughter working with local residents.

Strangely, several other people claim credit for the victories - including Greg Hands MP who has already disappeared to Chelsea, Cllr Paul Bristow whose best mate Cllr Harry Phibbs spins Tory stories for the Evening Standard, and someone called Shaun Bailey.

Why anyone believes them is a mystery.

Tories get the Blues (again)

Hammersmith & Fulham council has fallen out with Chelsea Football Club - again.

A week before the European Champions League final, the Tory council has already put a dampener on the match by insisting that Chelsea can't hold a victory parade on Thursday 22 May if they win the previous evening.

This is the second time that the Tories have got the Blues.

05 May 2008

Normal service resumed

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham is back to its old tricks again.

A day before the London elections, the council issued a release headlined 'Round the clock cops halve crime'. Unfortunately the reality is different with the fall for most types of crime much lower than the headline claims while the figures for drugs crimes have doubled! Let's hope Boris doesn't have the same statistical problems.

And the Tory council continues to cost residents more. Parking fees have been increased by several times the rate of inflation. And the prospect of substantial charges being introduced for homecare for older and disabled residents draws ever closer.

Finally the whole future of secondary education in Hammersmith & Fulham continues to be up in the air with the latest council proposals for merging schools.

27 April 2008

Rupert Bear makes H&F videos

If you haven't done so yet, check out Rupert Bear's videos on YouTube (see link in previous blog below).

Mr Bear has excellent musical taste, some vintage footage and is obviously very well informed about the shenanigans at Tory H&F council. All done with a sense of humour.

Keep it up, Mr Bear!

21 April 2008

Tories in buy-election shock

Regular hfconwatch readers will be used to the horrors of the Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham. But the latest news from the council takes some beating.

With a by-election in Sands End ward due on 1 May, you would expect the council to steer clear of local issues.

But no, today the council has issued a press release about a multi-million pound funding package for Imperial Wharf station in the ward.

This decision has not yet been taken by the council but is due to be discussed by the Tory cabinet on 28 April, just three days before the by-election.

But in case local residents missed it, the council's press office has alerted them, even though the cabinet paper about the proposal is not available on the web.

This disgraceful use of public funds for a buy-election will be of interest to the Electoral Commission, Audit Commission and other relevant authorities.

PS another paper has appeared at the last minute on the cabinet agenda about extra care housing being developed in Imperial Wharf! The Tories must be worried that all Sands End residents are talking about are the cuts to local services, for children and older people alike.

16 April 2008

Embarrassment in Sands End

The corridors of Hammersmith town hall and other council offices are echoing to the sound of Embarrassment, the classic hit from the 1980s.

Find out why at:


It's Madness!

13 April 2008

French lessons in Sands End

The Du-by-election in Sands End has put the Tory council's cuts into sharp focus.

The ward has seen some of the biggest cuts in the borough, not least the closure of Peterborough primary school after more than a hundred years.

The council has been negotiating with the French government about the Peterborough site being sold off as a school for French citizens.

Sands End is the southern-most ward in Hammersmith et Fromage.

Arctic monkey

Hammersmith & Fulham MP Greg Hands has been unusually quiet this week, especially about his latest exploits.

He has just returned from three nights in the Arctic as a guest of the Norwegian government. Apparently he was extending his carbon footprint in the pursuit of climate change.

Greg looks particularly fetching in a photo with two husky dogs.

03 April 2008

The Du-by-election

Dubai is a long way to go to escape local Tory politics in Hammersmith & Fulham.

But that's where the Conservative councillor for Sands End, Jeanette Bentley, has gone - for a job apparently, according to the Bristow blog. She hasn't been seen in the borough for months so had to resign.

The by-election in Sands End takes place on 1 May, at the same time as the London mayoral election, thereby guaranteeing a higher than normal turnout in a ward which has faced huge Tory cuts in local services and facilities.

Which Conservative councillor will be the next to stand down?

22 March 2008

Tories cost H&F residents more

Residents in Hammersmith & Fulham have been hit by a succession of big increases in fees and charges for council services - from parking and recycling to adult education.

The largest hikes have been imposed by the Tories on the young, the old and the disabled. The cost of children's play services has gone up 121%. Meals on wheels prices have gone up 50%.

But the biggest scandal is the Tory plan to charge elderly, sick and disabled residents for home care services - despite a pledge at the 2006 council elections not to introduce home care charges.

Now the Tories will charge £12.40 an hour for home care. While Tory council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has just awarded himself a £5,000 pay rise.

No wonder he is known as the Fat Controller.

19 March 2008

How much longer for Cllr Alford?

Word has reached hfconwatch that Cllr Adronie Alford, Tory cabinet member for housing in H&F, is to be sacked shortly.

This follows the debacle in H&F Homes, an appalling one star inspection, and resignations of the chair and chief executive. Tenants are appalled at the Tory attacks on caretakers and sheltered housing wardens.

Cllr Awful is set to become H&F's next mayor as a sop. What a chain of events.

Issues for Sands End voters to consider

Sands End has borne the brunt of many Tory cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham - Peterborough primary school is being closed and sold to the French, Hurlingham & Chelsea secondary school was under threat for over a year, the Castle Club for children has been sold off and now Sands End laundry is being axed.

In total the Tories are making more than £36 million cuts in local services. These include:

Cuts to care services for elderly, sick and disabled residents £2,804,000
Cuts to environment, highways maintenance budget £1,633,000
Cuts to street cleaning and refuse collection budgets £980,000
Cuts to environmental public protection & safety budget £687,000
Cuts to the planning department £562,000
Cuts to the play and youth service £500,000
Cuts to the foster care service £180,000
Cuts to high maintenance care for elderly, sick and disabled residents £100,000
Growth in parking income £550,000
Cuts to library services £200,000
Cuts to mental health day care facilities £100,000
Cuts to children’s discretionary educational grants £90,000

18 March 2008

One down, 32 to go

Jeanette Bentley is the first Tory councillor to resign since the 2006 council elections in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The announcement means that a by-election is likely on 1 May in Sands End ward, scene of many of the Conservative cuts in education and community services.

13 March 2008

Bristow falls into leader's trough

Tory H&F cabinet member Paul Bristow has written a lengthy blog defending his leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, for getting paid £5,000 extra for doing something he should have been doing already (see Fat Controller blog below).

Cllr Bristow still doesn't explain why an additional payment is being made to the leader of the council. Ironically he suggests that the payment to the 'lead member for recruitment' is deserved because the council is getting rid of lots of jobs!

What Cllr Bristow also fails to declare is that not only is Cllr Greenhalgh his leader but he is also his employer. Obviously a key worker.

12 March 2008

Boris goes missing

Further to the blog below about H&F council's crime summit on 8 March, a council news release about the event was issued on 10 March.

Strangely the release fails to mention that Boris Johnson was present at the crime summit or that he gave a speech which he himself admitted amounted to electioneering.

An interesting case of re-writing history, which may not stand up to much scrutiny.

10 March 2008

H&F cabinet member goes AWOL

The Tory cabinet member for residents services in Hammersmith & Fulham has gone missing again. Or more to the point Paul Bristow seems more interested in residents in other parts of the country.

He has just missed out on becoming the Tory Parliamentary candidate for York Central. This disappointment follows several other attempts to get selected elsewhere.

You can always tell when Paul is away on the campaign trail because his blog goes mysteriously quiet. So desperate was he to fill the blank spaces that he even got Cllr Greg Smith to write a most boring diatribe about crime recently.

Still, I'm sure it won't stop Paul having a go at others for having a life beyond H&F. Touche Bristow!

08 March 2008

Council gives platform to Boris campaign

Hammersmith & Fulham council's annual crime summit today was turned into an election rally for Tory mayoral candidate Boris Johnson.

This latest abuse of council resources follows months and months of propaganda from the council attacking the Mayor of London and the government.

How can the council justify giving Boris a platform at today's event?

Fat controller jumps into trough

Why has Tory H&F council leader Stephen Greenhalgh been awarded a £5000 pay increase for doing something he should already be doing?

The last full council meeting agreed a new £5000 payment to the 'lead member for recruitment' - who happens to be the council leader. Nice work etc.

In the meantime the council also agreed £36 million cuts in local services.

28 February 2008

Biggest con trick in Britain

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham is claiming the 'biggest council tax cut in Britain'.

But what does £27 a year off your council tax bill really mean?

First, there are £36 million cuts in local services, particularly hitting the most vulnerable residents. Secondly, there are closures of local facilities and sales of community assets.

And thirdly most people are now paying more than the council tax cut in higher fees and charges for local services. That's why it's the 'biggest con trick in Britain'.

21 February 2008

When does 3 equal 4?

You won't have spotted this on the council website, but the recent Audit Commission corporate assessment score for Hammersmith & Fulham council is three.

Not exactly what you hear from the Tories themselves who trumpet the council as a four star authority. That rating is very much a hangover from the performance assessment of the previous administration.

18 February 2008

Half full or half empty, Harry?

Tory councillor Harry Phibbs has been using his job on the Evening Standard diary to promote hfconwatch, in particular the last blog below.

Poor old Harry obviously didn't appreciate the irony of Tory councillors having to drink tap water.

And he missed the real point of the blog - the Tories' £36 million cuts in local services.

Hurry up Harry. And stop drinking the funny water!

15 February 2008


The Tories in H&F are crowing about their latest cut - ending the use of bottled water across the council.

Now councillors, officers and members of the public attending local meetings will have to rely on mains water. Are taps being installed in the leader's office?

The council says this move saves £36,000 or just 0.1% of the £36 million cuts they are making in local services. Obviously the Tories hope this will distract attention from 99.9% of the cuts!

14 February 2008

What is going on in H&F? part 3

Shepherds Bush central line station closed almost two weeks ago as the Tory council colluded with the Westfield developers and London Underground.

But fearing a backlash from local residents angry about the closure, the council has since claimed credit for the extra alternative transport services provided.

The problem is that is not true. Extra buses were only put on because of pressure from Shepherds Bush MP Andy Slaughter.

The Tory council's PR machine seems to be operating with no checks as it spews forth more lies, distortions and political propaganda.

What is going on in H&F? part 2

The Tories have been mounting a strange local campaign in Hammersmith.

Fly-posters and leaflets about a referendum on the European treaty have appeared all over the north of the borough. They carry no imprint which is illegal and fly-posting is also illegal.

So why has the Tory council taken no action against the perpetrators? Surely not because they might be Tory councillors?

What is going on in H&F? part 1

Hammersmith & Fulham residents are getting used to the Tory council selling off community assets.

But now the Tories have gone a step further - they have given away part of the borough to Kensington & Chelsea!

The councillors for the area affected - Little Wormwood Scrubs - only found about the 'transfer' when they read the local paper.

And the mastermind behind the move appears to be Cllr Paul Bristow, the Tory cabinet member supposedly for residents services.

05 February 2008

Down Down plumbs new depths

What next for Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council?

Having sunk to doing Status Quo covers on YouTube, what should Harry Hammersmith & The Flyovers play next?

Please email your suggestions to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk or add your comments to this blog.

For starters, how about Rod Stewart's The First Cuts (sic) are the Deepest?

And why weren't the band called Frankie Fulham and the West Kens? No need to reply to that...

03 February 2008

£36 million cuts cuts cuts

More than £36 million of cuts in local services are due to be agreed by the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham on 4 February, with over £15 million being cut from spending in 2008-9 alone.

There are new cuts to services for older people (home care, nursing homes, meals on wheels) and children (play and childcare, school meals) and libraries. Perhaps the meanest cut of all is the help to families on low incomes with grants for clothing, music and dance.

While the Tories boast about small cuts to council tax (just £27 less than 2004), the cabinet will also vote to increase fees and charges for a wide range of services by an average 5% with some facing much higher increases. Strangely the cabinet papers on the revamped (how much did that cost? It's not very user friendly) council website do not include appendix G with details of the fee increases.

The cabinet is also due to agree two other highly controversial reports:

* the privatisation of waste collection, recycling and street cleaning with the contract awarded for at least seven years to Serco. More than £900k has been cut from these services in the last year, but the tenders all came in higher than budgeted. So the Tory council reduced the specification for street cleaning and still it has failed to meet its cuts target through the contract award

* the appointment of development partners for the town hall site to create new council offices. This will mean the demolition of 54 flats for blind people and the Quakers Friends meeting house as well as the end of the cinema in King Street.

02 February 2008

Pull the other one

Having colluded in the closure of Shepherds Bush central line station, the Tory council has issued a press release with its leader Stephen Greenhalgh claiming credit for TfL concessions the day before the station closed on 2 February.

The Tories clearly failed to understand how upset local residents are about the station closure and even published a leaflet supporting the closure.

Desperately trying to backtrack, the Tories are now trying to claim credit for the campaign waged by Andrew Slaughter, MP for Shepherds Bush, which has exposed the truth about why the station has been closed and led to TfL making major improvements to alternative services during the closure.

Pull the other one, Cllr Greenhalgh. Readers can write to the Tory leader of the council at stephen.greenhalgh@lbhf.gov.uk and ask why the council colluded with the developers and supported the station closure and how the council will compensate businesses and others affected.

You can be sure that if a station in Fulham was threatened with long-term closure that the Tories would oppose it vigorously.

27 January 2008

Housing chaos sparks resignation call

The resignation of both the chair and chief executive of H&F Homes, a damning assessment of its performance and plans to slash caretakers' pay have led to demands that the cabinet member responsible, Cllr Adronie Alford, should also resign.

The Tories claim that their housing proposals are a key part of creating a 'borough of opportunity'.

The only opportunities are for property speculators with more council-owned homes due to be sold off in addition to the recently announced sale of hostels for homeless people. And the Tory plans to help people buy a flat have failed miserably.

Now the failings in H&F Homes could mean the loss of the huge investment for renovating thousands of properties in the borough.

All in all, Cllr Alford needs to move out and find a new home.

Tory propaganda knows no boundaries

Huge posters about H&F council tax and performance have appeared in several local tube stations recently.

Strangely these posters have even been put up at Turnham Green station which is well out of the borough (and at Shepherds Bush central line station which the Tories are so keen to see closed this week).

The posters proclaim the 2006 four star performance rating awarded for the last year of the previous council adminstration. The 2007 ratings are due to be published shortly.

And there is no word of all the cuts in local services and closures to pay for the small (50p a week) cut in council tax or the higher fees and charges residents are now expected to pay.

22 January 2008

You couldn't make it up

It's astonishing to read Tory councillor Paul Bristow's recent scribblings on Fulham schools. The erstwhile boxing promoter appears to be attempting to take credit for the achievements of Hurlingham and Chelsea school which this year made it onto the list of most improved schools in the country.

Perhaps Cllr Bristow has forgotten that it was his party that attempted to close Hurlingham and Chelsea school last year claiming it was unpopular and underperforming.

While one should respect Cllr Bristow's rapid U-turn on the subject, a little more humility might be justified. Perhaps even an apology?

Moreover, further strain will be placed on our secondary schools in the coming years as cuts that are currently decimating the local authority begin to bite. Senior subject inspectors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their subject specialisms are being eased out and not replaced. The ICT and Technology inspector has retired and will not be replaced while the Arts and Music Inspector was replaced by a less experienced advisor.

More short term cost savings at the expense of education in Hammersmith & Fulham.

21 January 2008

'De-residentialisation' - new word for cuts

Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council has embarked on 'de-residentialisation ' of sheltered housing. That means removing resident wardens from sheltered housing, which is not why older people moved into sheltered accommodation in the first place.

This cut saves £300k in 2008-9 and a further £300k the following year. But residents have already complained about this because it seems the council is not waiting for the budget to be agreed or the new financial year to start. De-residentialisation is already being implemented!

Yet another example of the Tories picking on the elderly in the borough.

20 January 2008

Which cut is the deepest?

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham has just announced £36 million spending cuts in local services over the next three years, including £15 million in 2008-9.

The budget plans are subject to scrutiny this month. hfconwatch will be exposing the worst cuts in the coming weeks.

Please email any cuts stories to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

16 January 2008

A normal day in Hammersmith & Fulham?

A correspondent writes:

Yesterday I went to Hammersmith Town Hall to buy my annual Parking Permit.

The price is up marginally. (I'm not sure how many other piecemeal rises of our local council charges there are across the board, but they may well mean that much of the much trumpeted rate cut is nullified).

There was a queue and only two members of staff serving (further cuts perhaps?).

I'd shuffled to the front of a queue that was by now about 15 or so people, when a very elderly man arrived, went straight to one of the windows and loudly asked to be served. He explained that he was 84, blind, wanted to pay his rent, and had been told previously that he wouldn't have to wait.

The teller was condescending to say the least, and it annoyed me that most of the staff at the back were tittering. He told the man to go to the back of the queue. But our intrepid visitor wasn't having it, and stood his ground. The teller continued to hold his and there was a stand-off.

I stepped forward and offered him my place. He refused, on the grounds that he had been told he wouldn't have to wait, so they should serve him. Another man in the queue, along with a couple of others shouted to the staff that the man should be served. I tried to insist that he took my place but he wasn't having any of it.

Other staff stepped in, and eventually, a woman came out from the back to take his money. While she was doing the paperwork behind, he spoke to us. he said something along the lines of, "I am a war veteran, I am blind, I'm 84, yet I'm treated like dirt." We were empathising with him.

He took out a piece of paper from his bag. In large jagged letters, was printed STRESS. "I want you to write HARRASSMENT under it," he said to a queuer. The man hesitated. No one wanted to get involved.

The staff member re-emerged with his receipt. "Thank you very much dear," he said rather softer than before. " But now I want you to write HARRASSMENT on this piece of paper for me". He handed her a thick black pen. She wrote it down.

"And NOW," he said triumphantly, "I want six photocopies of it!"

15 January 2008

Hands off Shepherds Bush

Tory MP Greg Hands isn't the Member of Parliament for Shepherds Bush but it hasn't stopped him supporting the closure of Shepherds Bush Central Line station.

The closure for at least eight months from February will affect tens of thousands of local residents and scores of businesses. Thousands of people have signed petitions against the closure. But still Greg Hands and the Tory council are happy to support it.

You can be certain that Hands would have opposed any station closing in his own constituency. So why do the dirty on Shepherds Bush residents?

Hands also accuses those campaigning to keep the station open of 'political opportunism'. Which of course Hands knows nothing about - after all, his election campaign in 2005 was based on scaremongering about the so-called closure of Charing Cross Hospital which, surprise, surprise, three years later is not just open but is flourishing.

13 January 2008

£36 million cuts in local services unveiled

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham has unveiled £36 million of cuts in local services over the next three years with more than £15 million in the coming year (2008-9). The cuts are to pay for a small reduction - 50p a week - in council tax.

The cuts include the privatisation of swathes of services from street cleaning and refuse collection to home helps and meals on wheels. There are also cuts in services for children (from childcare to school meals) and for older people (from home care to sheltered housing wardens).

These cuts are on top of the closures and sale of community assets previously reported.

10 January 2008

January closing down sales

Closed: Hammersmith & Fulham's Tory Cabinet has agreed to close Peterborough primary school which has served south Fulham for over a hundred years. The site is to be sold, probably to the French government (see previous blogs).

Closed: Also to be closed and sold off to the highest bidder is Sands End laundry.

Closed: Nine hostels for homeless families are to be closed and sold off in this huge disposal of community assets.

06 January 2008

Protest at school closures decision

Hammersmith Town Hall is the scene of the latest protest against schoool closures in the borough on Monday 7 January.
There will be a lobby of the Cabinet from 6.30pm followed by deputations opposing the proposed closures of Peterborough Primary School and Gibbs Green Special School.

The council published its response to the consultation over the closure of these two schools just before Christmas. Now they intend to rubber stamp the closure at the Cabinet meeting on Monday – just as the schools are returning.
Not surprisingly nine months of consultation has made no difference to the Tory councillors. They just want to close and cut. The Tories' message seems to be “Happy Christmas – you’re stuffed” and “Happy New Year – you’re closed!”
Stop the Tories wrecking schools in Hammersmith & Fulham - join the protest on Monday 7 January.

Tories spin out of control

Hammersmith & Fulham Tories claim that council tax cuts are saving local residents £350.

Except it isn't true. Because the Tories' figures are compared to a theoretical annual increase of 7.7% even though the previous council had announced a real terms cut in council tax for three years from 2006!

And of course the Tories don't mention their £34 million cuts in local services, the closures of schools and community buildings, and the higher fees and charges faced by residents.

Let's hope the council doesn't repeat these Tory lies.

04 January 2008

Tories put Shepherds Bush residents last

You may have heard that Shepherds Bush central line station will close for at least eight months from the beginning of February.

You would have thought that Hammersmith & Fulham council would have opposed the closure vigorously given how many residents use the station and will be affected. But no, they are happy to see it close according to Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Conservative council leader, in the local newspaper.

Never mind the inconvenience for the huge number of local people who use the station every day. Never mind the number of local businesses that will suffer as a result.

Join the campaign to stop this unnecessary closure at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=19664727640

And don't forget how the Tories put Shepherds Bush residents last. Just imagine how agitated the Tories would have been if this had been Fulham Broadway, Parsons Green or Ravenscourt Park stations.

03 January 2008

New year, same old Tories

Normal service is resumed after the Christmas break when the Tory Cabinet meets on 7 January to close local schools, cut services and spending in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The Tories are pushing through new cuts, closing local facilities, reducing housing options, and raising fees and charges for local services to pay for a small council tax reduction. They claim that this will save residents money but many local people are now faced with higher fees and having to pay for services that have been axed.

£34 million cuts in local services are the high price local residents are paying for a Tory council.

01 January 2008

Happy new year in H&F?

Happy new year to all hfconwatch readers.

We have exclusive access to the new year resolutions made by the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham. Their resolutions for 2008 include:

* we won't make any more cuts in local services
* we won't raise any more fees and charges for local services
* we won't close any more schools
* we won't sell off any more community buildings
* we won't cut any more voluntary organisations

Unfortunately, it looks like these resolutions will be broken within the first week of the new year when the Tory cabinet meets on 7 January.

hfconwatch resolves to continue to keep you posted about Tory cuts, charges and closures in 2008.