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Having withdrawn services from nearly 550 people in July 2007, the council recently agreed to introduce charges for hundreds of older and disabled residents for care services.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: