26 December 2009

H&F's twelve days of Christmas (reprise)

Apologies for updating a hfconwatch blog from 2008 but it's worth a reprise.

On the twelfth day of Christmas H&F Tory council gave to us:

Twelve pounds 40p an hour for home care
Eleven per cent increase in spending on propaganda
Ten hostels closed to homeless people
Nine days of snow without gritting
Eight controversial planning decisions
Seven estates under threat
Six hundred plus stealth taxes
Five scaremongering stories
Four thousand two hundred redundancy notices
Three closed schools and youth clubs
Two extra days of parking fines and charges and
A library in Shepherds Bush (except that was delivered by the previous council)

PS and happy Christmas from the leader: http://lbhfleader.blog.co.uk/

23 December 2009

Many Hands make big horse

Tory MP for Fulham Greg Hands was in the stables area of the International Horse Show at Olympia with Team GB horse "Go for Gold". The youngest rider was Helena Hands, aged 3. Any relation?

On the 11th day of Christmas...

Start the new year as you mean to go on - Conservative Party leader David Cameron is inviting Hammersmith residents to quiz him face to face in January.

David Cameron will be in Hammersmith on the evening of Tuesday 5 January. This is a chance for the public to find out what a Conservative Government would mean for them and their families - and to quiz him about the cuts in services made by Tory H&F council and its plans to demolish local homes and estates.

To register to attend and for more information email office@hammersmithconservatives.com or call 020 7385 1002.

21 December 2009

Where's the grit?

H&F's roads are in gridlock and pedestrians are sliding all over the place this evening.

Tory H&F council has failed again to salt the borough's roads and pavements. Don't they listen to the weather forecast?

20 December 2009

Another Tory stealth tax

Not content with being in the top six councils in the country for parking fees and fines collected, Tory H&F council will charge people for parking in the borough over Christmas.

Parking charges will be in place on the public holidays of 26 and 28 December, just when many residents will have families visiting and others will be shopping locally.

14 December 2009

Openness and transparency

H&F council website has until recently made it easy to find agendas and reports for council meetings.

Now you have to be a genius to find your way through the new labyrinth to discover what you're looking for, particularly scrutiny committee papers.

With council elections on 6 May, the Tories have opted against openness and transparency. After all, they are still to tell us how they will cut services to pay for the latest council tax con. A secret budget might have worked at the last election but not this time round.

Bridge shutdown

Tory H&F council is shutting Hammersmith Bridge for much of the first quarter of 2010. The bridge will be closed every weekend from 23 January to 15 March and for nine consecutive days in the middle of February.

hfconwatch's first prediction for 2010 is traffic chaos in H&F.

12 December 2009

H&F council served 'notice to quit'

H&F Tory council leader Stephen Greenhalgh thought he could serve notice to quit on the residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green council estates by labelling them a ‘ghetto’ and by planning to demolish their homes.

Now tenants have returned the favour by serving him with formal notice under Section 34A of the Housing Act 1985 proposing the council should dispose of the estates to a resident-controlled association. At the same time they have written to the Secretary of State for Communities, inviting him to make regulations requiring the council to co-operate with their proposal.

Section 34A was introduced by Section 296 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 to give council tenants a defence of last resort against a rogue local authority landlord.

The Tory council said it didn’t want these residents living in the borough and that their neighbourhood was “not decent’”. The feeling is clearly mutual.

By serving this notice the residents intend to take charge of their own homes and estates which they will no doubt manage far more competently and compassionately than their Tory landlords.

LATEST VIDEO shirleymander in H&F: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vut15401E6A

04 December 2009

Shaun Bailey eaten for breakfast

Chris Underwood has posted this blog about Shaun Bailey’s somewhat less than convincing performance on the Politics Show recently about the so-called super sewer:


UPDATE: the excellent Shepherds Bush blog has the latest insight into how Tory H&F council has misled local residents about the 'super sewer': http://shepherdsbush.wordpress.com/

01 December 2009

Planning a disaster

H&F Tory council seems intent on out-doing itself with every new development in the borough.

Not content with having the Goldhawk industrial estate scheme called in by the government for a public inquiry (see previous hfconwatch blogs), the Tories are facing complaints about:
* the plan to let a private French school build in the grounds of Planetree Court sheltered housing in Brook Green
* the release of Westfield from its obligation to fund 100 affordable homes for key workers in Shepherds Bush
* a proposed seven storey block of flats in Glenthorne Road, none of which will be affordable to local residents
* the council's own scheme to evict all the community groups from Palingswick House in King Street and sell it off

And only last week Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for Hammersmith, gave his wholehearted support to H&F council's plans to demolish thousands of local homes to make way for more commercial development.

29 November 2009

And what else does Greenhalgh really think?

After the blast of honesty from the Tory leader of H&F council about David Cameron's shadow cabinet, hfconwatch looks forward to Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh's real views on:

* Shaun Bailey, Conservative candidate for Hammersmith
* Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Tory plans to take over control of the police
* the cabinet in H&F, particularly giants like Cllrs Ivimy, Loveday and Bristow
* the future of Charing Cross hospital, the super sewer and other Tory scaremongering
* the Tories' plans to sell off all H&F council estates for redevelopment - perhaps not, we know Greenhalgh is fully behind this
* H&F councillor Harry Phibbs, columnist on the Daily Mail, which has run the Greenhalgh piss-up story
* and of course more about his boyhood with the shadow chancellor

It's also an opportunity to give another shameless plug for the leader's blog: http://lbhfleader.blog.co.uk/

27 November 2009

Greenhalgh tells the truth shock

Tory leader of H&F council, Stephen Greenhalgh, has been reported tonight as saying: "My mates are all in the Shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university with them, they haven't run a pissup in a brewery. They're going to get a department of state, in one case running the finances of the nation."

The picture Greenhalgh paints of his colleagues is one of a nepotistic, arrogant and incapable group, not ready to lead this country at a time of recession.

25 November 2009

Bailey comes unstuck on housing claims

Has Tory candidate Shaun Bailey been misleading readers of the Gazette or is he just ignorant?

In an interview with the local paper last week, Bailey claims that Tory H&F council - now notorious for demolishing council homes - has built more affordable homes than Labour did.

The council's own figures show that 870 housing association homes for rent have been built in the borough since the Tories won the 2006 council election. But they also show that 750 of these were given funding and planning consent under the previous Labour council, which actually had the best record on providing affordable homes in the whole of London.

And what about the other 120 new homes? They were in two major schemes in Shepherds Bush where the Tories negotiated down the number of rented homes to maximise those for sale at full cost - these flats now stand empty and unsold while thousands of families wait for decent homes. And on every other scheme that has come up in the last three years no new rented housing has been allowed by the Tory council, contrary to planning policy.

So which is it Mr Bailey - out of your depth or telling pork pies?

17 November 2009

Kettles and pots

High fee-charging Ryanair-style H&F council is attacking the Mayor of London for putting up bus and tube fares.

The sight of a Tory council attacking a Tory Mayor for hiking up charges is bizarre.

London's public services need investment, but the Tories are not prepared to put their money where their mouths are.

08 November 2009

A very strange boast

Announcing their plans for the council tax in 2010-11, Tory H&F council boasted that they have axed over one thousand jobs since 2006.

This boast - particularly peculiar during hard economic times - must have stuck in the throats of many local people on lower incomes who used to work for the council.

06 November 2009

Singing the blues

The more people hear about Tory H&F council, the more they are worried about what a Cameron government would do if elected: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-harsh-truth-about-tory-policies-1815642.html

Read all about it

A new blog which hfconwatch readers will enjoy: http://lbhfleader.blog.co.uk/

03 November 2009

H&F propaganda exposed by Tory MP

Philip Davies is a Tory MP. Last week his select committee summoned Tory H&F councillor Mark Loveday to justify the council's publication, H&F News. Here is what happened.

Philip Davies: …we will start off with Hammersmith and Fulham. This is, let us face it, council propaganda masquerading as an independent newspaper. There is nothing here to the casual reader that would indicate that this had anything to do with a council publication. This is masquerading as an independent newspaper. If you are so proud of your publication, let us have it plastered all over it that this is a council publication so that everybody who reads it knows exactly where they stand when they read it. Why are you not upfront about what this is?

Councillor Loveday: I can bowl for Britain on the subject of propaganda, and Sefton Delmer and the radio stations that were set up in this country during the war, and the distinctions between black propaganda and other propaganda, and so on, but in terms of residents knowing that this is a council newspaper, my simple answer is that we do test this, and the latest survey showed that 80% of residents said it was clearly a council newspaper. People are aware of that. I suspect that 80% is a pretty good score by any means.

Philip Davies: I will give you a better score, which is 100%. I guarantee to you that, if you were to put on the front of your paper (and plaster it quite prominently) that this is the newspaper delivered to you by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, you would be able to improve on your 80%, you would probably be able to get to 100%. We would all know where we were and also you would not need to spend any money testing out whether or not people knew; you would be able to know straight away that people knew. I know you are obsessed with saving money at Hammersmith and Fulham Council. I have given you a perfect money saving idea, so can I now expect you to save money on testing it out and plaster over it that this is council propaganda so that your residents know exactly what it is they are reading?

Councillor Loveday: Can I ask you a question?

Philip Davies: No, I am asking you a question.

Councillor Loveday: Will you give us the £400,000 to put it through our paid-for local media, because that is not going to happen.

Philip Davies: I am asking you, on here, to make it abundantly clear to your residents that this is a council publication, right on the front page. You are saying how good it is. Why are you ashamed of it? Surely you should want to be proud of the fact that the local authority is putting out this kind of propaganda. Let everybody know why you are hiding your light under a bushel.

Councillor Loveday: The majority of copies, I think, certainly did have a strapline reference.

Philip Davies: I am just unlucky, am I?

Councillor Loveday: No, I have not followed the details of the straplines on the various editions. The front cover, of course, is a slip advert, or a wrap-around advert.

Philip Davies: Yes, inside is even worse.

Councillor Loveday: Inside this, obviously, the front page---

Philip Davies: Yes, I know exactly what you are doing: you are putting out propaganda and masquerading it as independent news.

Councillor Loveday: Propaganda is a loaded word.

Philip Davies: It is indeed.

02 November 2009

Tory tax con means cuts in services and higher charges

Tory H&F council's latest tax con announced today heralds more cuts in local services and higher fees and charges for local residents.

Hundreds of local jobs have already been axed, local streets are dirtier and services for children, older and disabled people have been decimated while the borough's council tenants fear for the future of their homes.

The Tories have also claimed responsibility for an array of developments which were either down to the previous council or have been funded by the government.

The announcement of the tax con today was made weeks before the Tory council is due to present its budget figures for the coming year, so the bad news is still to come.

Expect an avalanche of Tory leaflets through your letterbox very soon.

PS Last Thursday’s Standard reported some London councils are auctioning off assets to pay off debt – but getting about 20% less than market value. Guess who was in the top four with £16.5m raised in the last three years. Tory H&F council , of course, happy to waste £4m of your money for short-term income to cut tax in the run up to the local elections. These were the sales of voluntary sector premises – leaving their clients more likely to need state support – and homeless hostels, meaning families would be moved to private accommodation at a cost to the taxpayers three times greater.

31 October 2009

Heavyweight chairs the leaders

BBC heavyweight John Humphrys will chair H&F council's ‘Quiz the Leaders’ meeting on Tuesday 10 November when residents will get the chance to grill council, health, police and fire leaders.

John Humphrys, who is a local resident, will lead what is bound to be a lively debate about some of the big issues affecting the borough such as the council's plans to redevelop local estates and their cuts in services.

He will chair a panel which includes Tory H&F council leader Councillor Stephen Greenhalgh, NHS Hammersmith & Fulham chairman Jeff Zitron, Detective Superintendent Steve Cassidy and Borough Fire Commander Steve Lumb.

The event will run from 7-8.30pm on 10 November at Hammersmith Town Hall.

11 October 2009

Bleak house

Hot foot from the Conservative party conference in Manchester is this video about Tory H&F council's plans to redevelop housing estates in the borough.

While local residents speak calmly about the threat to their homes, watch Tory leader Cllr Greenhalgh lose his rag: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/video/2009/oct/09/housing-london-tory-social

08 October 2009

Doomsday moves closer for estates

Tory H&F council this week announced plans to work with other landowners in Earls Court to redevelop the homes of 1,650 residents on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates.

Residents on these and other estates fear that they will be moved out of the area completely and are campaigning against the council's plans.

The council has signed a 'collaboration agreement' to work with the operators of Earls Court, Capital & Counties.

Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh said: "Signing the agreement does not mean we have agreed any future plan or proposal for the area - far from it. Nothing has been decided."

Oh really?

07 October 2009

Opportunity knock - the real cost of council tax cuts

While H&F Tory councillors are on 'champagne watch' in Manchester, The Guardian has been exposing the impact of their cuts in care and support for disabled and older people in the borough:


30 September 2009

Who is not at work today?

Thursday 1 October. H&F council staff will be looking around to see which of their colleagues is not at work today because they refused to tear up their terms and conditions (see previous hfconwatch blogs).

Another fine example of Tory rule in H&F which will no doubt be showcased at the Conservative Party conference next week as an example of things to come for all public service workers.

King Street consultation omits key details

Tory H&F council has announced a three day consultation in October for one of the biggest developments in the borough - the so-called King Street 'facelift' replacing the ugly town hall extension.

However the Tory propaganda announcing the consultation on 15-17 October fails to mention the controversial elements of the development. There is no reference to the demolition of the Thomas Pocklington Trust housing for blind people; there is no mention of the loss of the Virgin Cinema; and there is no mention of the promised Waitrose which may mean that the Tories have done a deal with Tesco.

Have your say next month before it's too late. But make sure H&F council tells you the whole story first.

H&F council on telly again

Notorious H&F council made another appearance on BBC London news last night. This time the Tories were exposed for their plans to redevelop the West Kensington estate with local residents up in arms about the council's shenanigans.

No doubt more coverage of H&F council will follow when the BBC catches up with the planning farce concerning a housing development south of the Goldhawk Road. The Tories granted it permission despite vigorous opposition by local residents and the fact that it will lead to the eviction of internationally renowned local businesses including Innocent Drinks, makers of smoothies.

24 September 2009

Council staff given jobs ultimatum

Hundreds of H&F council staff have been told they have less than one week to accept new terms and conditions or lose their job.

The council claims that 94% of staff have signed an acceptance form - see previous hfconwatch blogs - after much cajoling.

The remainder have been told that if they do not accept by 5pm on Wednesday 30 September, their service with the Tory council will end that day and they should not come to work on 1 October.

20 September 2009

You can fool some of the people some of the time...

As previously reported, George Osborne and other national Tories say that to understand how a Conservative Government might behave you need to look at councils like Tory H&F.

When Channel 4 News reported this recently, H&F Tories gave two examples of why this was the case: the Westfield shopping centre and the new Shepherds Bush library.

All very strange because both of those achievements were negotiated and started by the last Labour council. The Tories obviously couldn't think of anything that they'd actually done themselves.

Unfortunately Channel 4 News was hoodwinked into broadcasting those examples as proof of Tory efficiency and commitment to value. You can fool some of the people...

15 September 2009

H&F out done by Tory rivals

H&F council is in danger of being outshone by other Tory councils in the run-up to the party conference season.

With national Tories saying they want to emulate Conservative councils, we can expect massive spending cuts, asset stripping and hikes in service charges if a Tory government was elected.

All this has happened in H&F. But now other Tory councils are getting high profile recognition for their indiscriminate cuts - not least 'easycouncil' in Barnet.

Perhaps H&F Tories aren't flavour of the month after all.

02 August 2009

27 July 2009

'Tory propaganda on the council tax' exposed

Evening Standard journalist Andrew Gilligan has today exposed H&F News, the council's official newspaper, for the Conservative Party propaganda that it really is. As Andrew reports:

Ten miles to the west, in Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, lies H&F News, circulation 75,000, and perhaps the craftiest operation of all.

H&F News is a brilliant facsimile of a good, meaty local newspaper, complete with a 12-page property pullout, a sudoku and crossword, a What's On supplement, lots of ads from real local businesses and even a five-page gardening section.

The council PR stories ("Residents dish out the love ... Poll reveals that three years of tax cuts give joy") are interspersed with page after page of other news, much of it seemingly straight, and you struggle to remember this is an official publication. But of course it is.

In H&F News, it is the Labour Party that does not exist and the Tory councillors who get all the quotes.

However, the true genius is in some of the apparently straight reporting. In H&F News, unlike all the other official papers, occasional controversy is allowed - but only in the context of the council listening and taking heed.

In H&F News, with few exceptions, the only crimes are committed by people who have been caught and jailed by the borough's ever-vigilant police (regular advertisers in H&F News). In H&F News, crime is nearly always falling, even when it isn't.

The 5 May issue proclaimed that "violent crimes have fallen dramatically across the year" to April and quoted the relevant H&F cabinet member, Cllr Greg Smith, speaking of "impressive falls across the board".

In fact, however you slice it, some, perhaps even most, violent crimes did not fall in Hammersmith and Fulham in the year to April 2009. Rapes, for instance, went up.

Above all, it is Hammersmith that may soon become the first borough in Britain covered only by official media. The local paid-for paper, the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, sells 1,500 and falling.

"They were virtually out of business long before we started H&F News," says a council spokesman. "They are not even based in the borough. There has been in our borough an information vacuum which we are trying to fill."

26 July 2009

H&F today, Cameron's nightmare tomorrow?

Rather than the traditional end of term report, here is a scary look forward.

Anyone in any doubt about what a Tory government under David Cameron would do should take a look at what has happened in H&F under the Tory council since 2006.

Take five examples of the nasty party in action:

1) huge cuts in spending and local services - £61 million already cut from the council's budget with more to come, hitting services for older and disabled people and schools and childcare; all the council's staff served with redundancy notices to cut their terms and conditions

2) a Tory tax con - cuts in council tax (amounting to less than 50p a week) are more than made up for by the huge hikes in fees and charges for local services, all part of a secret budget only revealed after the Tories were elected

3) gerrymandering - secret plans to knock down social housing and sell large estates for redevelopment with local people moved out and priced out of the borough

4) dirtier streets - H&F streets are filthy as flytipping increases following the cuts in street cleaning and refuse services plus new charges for collection of bulk items

5) public assets sold off - valuable community buildings housing local voluntary organisations and facilities for young and old people have been sold off, never to be used again by the local community

H&F council is hailed as an exemplar by David Cameron. Be careful what you wish for.

09 July 2009

What a stink!

What's going on at Hammersmith town hall? As soon as you walk into the foyer, you are hit by the most terrible smell. Work to refurbish the foyer seems to have been going on for months, so goodness knows how much it's costing. But still the smell lingers...

Tories' gerrymandering plans exposed

On the day that H&F Tories are celebrating the council's so-called achievements, the Evening Standard has exposed Conservative plans for 'social cleansing' Hammersmith & Fulham:


H&F council has recently announced plans to demolish 3,500 homes on estates they have declared “not decent neighbourhoods”.

Secret documents obtained through an FoI request reveal that the Conservative leader of the council, Stephen Greenhalgh, told senior Conservative Party officials that council estates are “ghettos”. The people who live there “add to the welfare cost of Government” and “have fallen into a cycle of unemployment and dependency”. “We (the taxpayer)” get “no return”. “What is needed” is “a solution to concentrations of deprivation”.

The documents reveal that the council gathered together a secret group of people to discuss this. Someone asked: “What is a ‘Poor person’?” Someone else said Fulham Court “is not a place, it is a barrack for the poor”. Yet another suggested the 2,000 strong White City estate was “an ideal place to develop and deliver a ‘master plan’”. And someone else said it was “hard to get rid of people”.

Participants acknowledged: "'Porteresque' accusations of gerrymandering or social engineering needed to be faced head on." Hence, “funding needed for political problem of management”, and “regeneration should not be stymied by a very few who object on spurious or ideological grounds”.

The “message” is “ownership empowers”, and “the Sacred Cows need to be shot!”. “We need to create mixed communities in concentrated areas of deprivation.”

Now, the Council has developed its “bulldozer argument” for its planning strategy - branding seven council estates containing 3,500 homes “not decent neighbourhoods”.

Using the language of social cleansing, and with no respect for age, vulnerability or human rights, the Tories propose to destroy communities on estates in Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and Fulham. The sites will be used mainly for commercial development like hotels and conference centres. There would be a reduction of social rented homes by up to a third, and new housing for sale would be unaffordable to local residents.

In the meantime, all but health and safety repairs to the properties would cease and flats would be let on a temporary basis. Whole neighbourhoods are now blighted, with freeholders and leaseholders unable to sell, even though demolition could be years away. For the remaining social tenants in the borough – almost 40% of the population – there would be no prospect of re-housing for 20 years as the displaced residents took the few homes that become available.

But the targeted estates are places that all types of people wish to live – from pensioners and young families to first-time buyers and professionals. Many millions of pounds of public money have been spent on them under the Decent Homes programme. There is no need to destroy these communities. Residents are naturally furious at the proposals and don’t want to be forced into smaller homes at higher rents.

This is social engineering on a grand scale, and it is being recommended to the national Conservative Party hierarchy as the way forward in housing: no security, high rents, no duty to house the homeless, not even right to buy.

The secret council documents suggest H&F council’s policy to destroy communities they brand “not decent” may be unlawful, as well as immoral. Council officers are writing Tory party policy using council taxpayers' money. But, far worse, poor and vulnerable people in H&F are being used as guinea pigs in a dishonest and destructive socio-political experiment.

28 June 2009

Another Tory con

Residents of Lakeside and Netherwood Roads in Addison ward are fed up with Tory H&F council's new parking restrictions.

Residents' only parking on Saturday and Sunday was introduced earlier this year after concerns about the overspill from the Westfield shopping centre.

But now Westfield has introduced free parking, local residents have been left with restricted parking at weekends, when their friends and family want to visit them. Visitors have to fork out huge amounts to H&F council just to come and see people living in these streets.

27 June 2009

Selling off the community silver

A former community centre building has been sold off by Tory H&F Council for almost three quarters of a million pounds. The property, at 59 Godolphin Road and formerly home to The Hut Association, was sold by auction this week for £735,000.

The Hut Association is a registered charity providing social, educational and recreational facilities and services to the local community - activities such as parent and toddler groups, parent support groups, Saturday schools, senior citizens' social and lunch club, outings, family day trips, fun days and festivals.

Two years ago, community groups campaigned to save The Hut and other borough resources such as the South Lodge of Margravine Cemetery in Hammersmith, the Castle Club in Broomhouse Lane, Fulham and Wormholt Community Centre, all of which were slated to be sold off by the council as part of cost-cutting measures.

However, The Hut closed down last year and the building has been boarded up for several months. The Tory council has already reduced its workforce by 18% and sold off several buildings.

24 June 2009

Tories abuse power (again)

He wasn't on the agenda for the AGM of the Cathnor Park Area Action Group on Monday this week, but at the start of the meeting up stood Tory H&F council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh. He proceeded to speak for some 20 minutes on issues like the so-called 'super sewer' and the third runway which also were not on the agenda.

The local ward councillors were only notified of the meeting on Monday afternoon. And they have not been consulted by the council about proposed developments to Cathnor Park which were announced at the meeting.

Perhaps it's not surprising therefore that the secretary of the Cathnor Park Area Action Group will be a local Tory candidate in next year's council elections. Will she now stand down from this residents' group?

Another victory for Avonmore residents

The controversial West Kensington nightclub, The Crescent, – where a man was stabbed to death outside its entrance last week – has been refused a longer license.

Local residents are angry that The Crescent – which was initially intended to be a lap dancing club – has been causing a rise in anti-social behaviour and disturbance in the area.

The club had applied to vary its hours so that it could stay open for an extra three hours until 5am from Thursday to Saturday, until 3am on all other weeknights and until 2am on Sundays. Hundreds of local residents objected to the changes.

Residents who spoke at the council hearing this week said that the club had brought drug dealing back to the area, and that it often broke its licensing conditions by allowing customers into the bar after midnight, when there is a no re-admittance policy. Others said customers frequently fought in the street, and vomited and urinated on their doorsteps and in their gardens.

The council’s environmental health department has received 20 complaints since the opening of the club in November last year, relating to noise coming from the club or patrons leaving the premises.

On Tuesday the council's licensing committee turned down the request for longer opening hours. Another victory for local residents in Avonmore.

18 June 2009

Have you been invited?

In celebration of H&F council’s major achievements, Councillor Stephen Greenhalgh, Tory Leader of the Council, invites you to a reception on 9 July 2009 at (DETAILS BLANKED OUT TO AVOID EMBARRASSMENT!) to thank you for your contribution.

What achievements? What contribution? What a way to spend council taxpayers' money!

15 June 2009

Sign up or else!

H&F council staff have been given until 22 June (yes, next Monday) to accept new terms and conditions of service (see previous hfconwatch reports).

Almost half the Tory council's staff have yet to sign their acceptance and have been warned that the council will serve 'notice of termination' by 30 June to any staff who don't sign by 22 June.

It therefore looks like the council will be sending out redundancy notices to thousands of its staff in the next fortnight.

14 June 2009

Watch Cllr Greenhalgh squirm


Watch this video of Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Tory leader of H&F Council, as he squirms under close questioning from local residents about his secret plans to knock down their homes.

Send hfconwatch news about the Tory plans to redevelop estates in H&F: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

Two big men talking

It looks like H&F Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has made a big impression on the national Conservatives. Such an impression that Tory spokesperson Eric Pickles couldn't even remember his name and calls him Greenhoff in this promotional video.


11 June 2009

More sports news

Shame about the weather for the polo. Still, anyone that wanted to see dumb beasts charging around a field cheered on by posh people should have been at Stamford Bridge recently to see the Tory councillors' football team.

The Tories were playing a team of council staff, and council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh was rumoured to have been playing. No doubt H&F News will carry a North Korean style report about how the Glorious Leader vanquished the team made up of the proles and how he displayed his physical superiority by scoring a hat trick in each half.

Strangely there have been no reports of the final score. But what a vision: the Tory leader in football kit...which Chelsea player's gear did he borrow?

08 June 2009

24/7 policing disappears

One of H&F Tories' flagship policies - 24/7 policing - seems to be disappearing by stealth.

Fulham Broadway and Hammersmith Broadway have been trumpeted as benefiting from round the clock police activity.

Now without any fanfare, the policing in these two areas has been reduced to 18/7 with so-called 'enhanced teams' - not quite such a headline grabber.

No wonder Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh was not so enthusiastic about his flagship policy when asked at a recent public meeting why it was not being extended to other parts of the borough.

06 June 2009

Polo alert No.4

It's chukking it down - not very good weather for polo!

02 June 2009

Chelsea glory, Tory blues

Despite the new Tory Mayor of H&F being a Chelsea supporter, there will be no celebrations in the borough for the FA Cup winners. Chelsea fans want the chance to salute their heros on the streets of Fulham but Tory H&F council has failed to make it happen yet again.

01 June 2009

Britain 2009 celebrates - polo alert No.3

Make sure that you get down to Hurlingham Park for the long-awaited polo open day this Sunday (7 June).

Gates open at 11am for what is bound to be a day of fun and excitement for all of the family.

The open day follows on from two days of world class polo action in Hurlingham Park, the ground on which England won the Olympic polo gold medal in 1938.

On the day, revellers will be able to watch polo exhibition matches involving world stars Jack Kidd and Jamie Morrison, and enjoy a variety of family entertainment.

Entrance to the day is free to all and also on the agenda are two jousting displays, climbing walls, lazer clay pigeon shooting, face paining, bouncy castles and a wide selection of food and drink.

The open day event is open to all the community, but to ensure safety across the site, entrance will be granted to advance ticket holders only and available on a first come first served basis.

A number of advance tickets have been distributed through local schools and FREE tickets can be collected in person from borough libraries, or online via Ticketmaster. Residents will also be able to pick up tickets on the day of the event from a special red bus that will be at the park.

Cllr Paul Bristow, cabinet member for residents’ services, said: “I am sure that the polo open day on Sunday June 7 will be a hugely popular event. The council has negotiated hard with the polo organisers to ensure that borough residents get a good deal. We have secured a £200,000 investment in the park and the competition provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local people to watch a live world-class sporting event on their own doorstep.”

With room for up to 5,000 spectators in the stadium, a five minute walk from Putney Bridge or Parsons Green tube stations, Polo in the Park promises to be one of the highlights of the 2009 summer calendar.

Event Programme (subject to change):
11am Gates Open
12.30am Jousting Display
1.30pm Ladies vs Men Polo Exhibition Match
3pm Equine Exhibition, Display of Skill at Arms
4.15pm Jousting Display
5pm Polo - All Stars vs World Polo Select
5.50pm Presentation
6.15pm Bicycle Polo
7pm Bars Close
7.30pm Park Closes

* Typos and irony courtesy of Tory H&F council

22 May 2009

300 not out

In June hfconwatch will be celebrating its 300th blog with some special look-backs and predictions for the coming year.

To contribute please email: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk with any stories about Tory H&F council.

20 May 2009

The devil is in the detail

Next week's annual H&F council meeting sees more of the same Tory cabinet. But there are some interesting details lurking in the papers.

Avonmore and Brook Green councillor William Bethell only attended two meetings in the whole of last year and managed to avoid attending any full Council meetings.

The Housing scrutiny committee will have its third Chairman in three years, reflecting the Tories' difficulties with their plans to sell off and redevelop council estates throughout the borough.

There are also alterations to Cabinet members portfolios. What exactly does Cllr Paul Bristow, the Cabinet Member for Residents Services, do? His main functions were rubbish collection and street cleaning (since put in the hands of Cllr Greg Smith) and parks. Now Cllr Frances Stainton has added parks to her portfolio. Is Cllr Bristow's boss at work (aka the Leader) not letting him have enough time off to campaign in Middlesbrough?

Finally, Cllr Minnie Scott-Russell, who has taken an independent line on planning and at her last meeting called her Tory colleagues 'traitors' for not supporting All Saints Church in Fulham, is no longer on the planning applications committee. That will teach her.

17 May 2009

Dirty tricks on the doorsteps

A Fulham resident has complained to hfconwatch about Tory dirty tricks, describing their approach as 'improper and designed to deceive'.

Local Tories were canvassing on Saturday at riverside blocks of flats in Fulham. When they rang the intercom, they said: "Can you buzz me in please. We're here from Hammersmith and Fulham council to do a survey."

Then three people entered the building, including one with a large blue rosette and one a local councillor, all Conservative Party workers there to lobby for the European elections!

How not to sack staff and influence people

Further to previous blogs, Tory H&F council has given its staff until the end of May as the latest deadline to agree to a change in their contract.

The council has now given three dates by when employees must agree - 24 April, the end of May and the legal one of 30 September. If someone does not sign by 30 September, how can the council sack them? Any appeal at industrial tribunal will surely argue that the council gave so many deadlines to sign, how did staff know which deadline would result in the sack?

Not only is this Tory council incapable of running its services efficiently, it can't even sack its staff efficiently! If the council do not withdraw this change of contract or tone it right down, it's likely that thousands of staff are going to sign under protest and take it to a tribunal as unfair dismissal from their old contract! How much will that cost the council in cash and bad publicity?

Questions are also being asked about how much has been spent on this pointless exercise so far: H&F council has had many meetings with the unions, staff consultation groups and numerous management meetings; they have hired consultants, sent out letters to all staff, produced a business case etc etc. So what is it all costing?

09 May 2009

Hanging on the telephone

Residents report more and more problems calling the council, with the new call centre in Rochdale not knowing much about H&F.

For another great video on this Tory madness, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvyL1TNufM4

The streets are getting dirtier

Flytipping is proliferating throughout Hammersmith & Fulham. This weekend rubbish bags, unwanted furniture and other items are littering many local streets, following the introduction of charging for collection by the Tory council.

Council staff given 1 July deadline

The Tory council in Hammersmith & Fulham has warned all its staff that notices of dismissal will commence on 1 July 2009 and end on 30 September 2009. See previous hfconwatch blogs below.

The council claims that 40% of staff have signed up to new contracts worsening their conditions of service - which still leaves the majority of the workforce facing dismissal shortly.

There must be an election soon...

European elections are being held on 4 June. And bang on time, the Tory council's newspaper, H&F News runs a front page story attacking the EU and blaming air quality targets for threatening the cut in the western congestion charging zone.

04 May 2009

Old dogs, old tricks

H&F Tories keep trying the same old scaremongering tricks - about Charing Cross hospital and about the so-called super sewer.

As anyone who has been treated there recently will know, Charing Cross hospital is in very good health. Strangely the Tories didn't try and scare off Michelle Obama when she visited the hospital last month.

The Tories' latest efforts about the 'super sewer' on the front page of the most recent edition of H&F News have drawn a stinging response from Thames Water correcting the council's misleading comments. Local residents desperately need better sewage infrastructure to prevent flooding and river pollution but the council is obstructing Thames Water from making the necessary investment.

Same old Tories, same old tricks.

Back to work in anticipation

H&F council staff return to work after the May Day bank holiday expecting another letter about their contracts. Previously hfconwatch (9 April etc) reported that staff had been told they had until 24 April to sign new terms and conditions, otherwise they faced the sack later this year.

The deadline of 24 April has passed and it looks like the council has been using the Tories' tried and not to be trusted practice of scare tactics and misinformation because no one has been sacked yet.

The council is extending its deadline and is due to send another letter to staff on 5 May. One of the unions has written an open letter which asks that the council's letter (5 May) is clearer on the process of change and employees' rights. It also asks for four questions to be answered, including can someone sign the new contract under protest and take the matter to industrial tribunal, and what is the legal deadline for signing the new contact?

Staff want a crystal clear response on what the process is and employees' rights, otherwise there will be further questions about the integrity of the Tory council in dealing with both residents and staff.

30 April 2009

More! Primary school pupils face lunch cuts

Tory H&F council had been hoping to save £250,000 from primary school lunches. But when the tenders for the schools meals contract were evaluated, none were affordable within the budget.

The council has decided to discontinue the tendering process and enter into negotiations with the tenderers "to try and achieve an affordable meal price that still meets national nutritional guidelines and ensures statutory employment and pensions rights are protected for affected catering staff".

That in short means smaller portions for school lunches. And definitely no second helpings.

Please, Cllr Greenhalgh, can we have more!

29 April 2009

Polo alert No.2

Residents of 22 streets in Fulham are being treated to free tickets for the international polo tournament in Hurlingham Park this June. Some residents can also buy cheaper price tickets too.

Polo is full price for the rest of the borough.


A local resident just called H&F council and asked to speak to pest control. She was put through to the youth offending team.

Is this the new Tory approach to children's services? Or perhaps it's a technical hitch in Rochdale?

22 April 2009

Avonmore residents win stripclub battle

The news that there will be no licence for lapdancing at the Crescent Club in North End Crescent has been greeted as a victory by local residents who have fought a nine month battle with the owners.

This week West London Magistrates’ Court confirmed that the Crescent Club have withdrawn their appeal against refusal of a strip club licence.

The residents' well-organised campaign leading up to the licensing panel hearing achieved a unanimous rejection of the licence last November. Close monitoring by residents of the club over the past six months produced a weight of evidence of anti-social behaviour for the appeal hearing.

Now there are suggestions that the Crescent Club may seek to expand as a nightclub, with opening hours extending to 4am. Instead, the Tory council should review its existing licence to open to 2am at weekends and 12 on weekdays, given the disruption currently being caused to local residents.

18 April 2009

Huge childcare cuts hit working parents

H&F Tory council is making huge cuts in childcare just as recession-hit parents need affordable care to help them stay in work or get a job.

Demand for childcare for school-aged children has been rising but the Tories are closing four out of school childcare centres and another six centres in the borough are under review. The buildings will be sold to fill council coffers.

These cuts will particularly hit low income families already facing big hikes by the council in childcare fees. Many parents will now struggle to work and look after their children, at a time when they need the help most.

17 April 2009

Polo alert No.1

Fulham residents are being warned of three weeks of chaos on local roads and in Hurlingham Park before and after the 'polo in the park' tournament on 5-7 June.

More polo alerts will follow.

11 April 2009

Good fly-day

Easter weekend has seen the streets of Hammersmith & Fulham look even dirtier than normal.

The Tories' cuts in refuse collection and street cleaning together with new charges for bulk refuse collection mean that fly-tipping has created more and more grot-spots across the borough. And the streets of H&F are littered with uncollected black and orange rubbish bags.

09 April 2009

You're all sacked - again!

The Tories are bullying H&F council staff again by threatening to change their job contracts again (see previous hfconwatch blogs).

All 4,500 council staff have been sent a letter telling them they have got until 24 April to sign the new terms and conditions, otherwise staff face the sack later this year.

The council has also brought in a new appraisal system to boost staff morale because no one was doing the appraisals. This was immediately discredited when staff were told that the appraisals would be done because it's part of the senior managers' performance related pay to do so.

Still summer's coming, so we've all got the polo to look forward to.

PS how many H&F council employees are paid more than £100k? H&F council refused to tell the Tories' friends, the Taxpayers' Alliance, in a recent survey answered by virtually every other local authority.

03 April 2009

Remember remember the second of February

If you had begun to forget how Tory H&F council failed to deal with the snow on Monday 2 February, have a look at this. It's snow joke for those who can't work at home:


01 April 2009

Not in the deep end

Youngsters in Hammersmith & Fulham won't benefit from the Government's free swimming offer for under 16s because Tory H&F council has decided not to participate in the scheme.

The council has trumpeted its support for free swimming for the over 60s, another Government initiative, with a quote from Tory cabinet member Cllr Paul Bristow. Meanwhile Middlesbrough - where Cllr Bristow harbours ambitions to be the local MP - has opted to provide free swimming for under 16s.

30 March 2009

No smoke without fire

Residents of Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates have been bemused to receive in swift succession letters from the Tory leader of the council and members of the local Conservative party.

This could of course have been coincidence. Or panic by the Tories that local residents are outraged by the council's plans to demolish their homes and redevelop the estates.

The Tory council/Conservative party deny that any specific plans or decisions have been made about the future of the estates. But they go to great lengths to attack so-called scaremongering. Residents will no doubt judge for themselves.

24 March 2009

Where is Rochdale?

Regular hfconwatch readers will know that Tory H&F council recently moved its call centre to Rochdale.

But the council leader Stephen Grenhalgh is clearly only just catching up with this development.

When asked at a recent public meeting why the response to telephone enquiries had deteriorated recently, he explained that the call centre had been relocated to Yorkshire!

But when he was reminded that Rochdale is in Lancashire, Cllr Greenhalgh quipped that it was the home of former MP, Cyril Smith.

13 March 2009

What's in store for the libraries?

Tory cabinet member Cllr Paul Bristow is starting a consultation tour of H&F's six libraries. Which must mean that at least one of them faces closure shortly...

Who went to Cannes?

Which representatives of H&F Tory council went to Cannes this week for the international property development conference? And with whom did they discuss the sale and development of more estates in H&F?

09 March 2009

Which estates will be next?

Speculation is rife about which estates Tory H&F council will choose next for redevelopment.

Already the council has earmarked Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates in north Fulham; and Ashcroft Square and Queen Caroline estates in central Hammersmith were recently identified by Tory councillors as being up for sale.

Every estate in the borough is now a Tory target, leaving thousands of tenants without a home locally.

Putting developers first and tenants last seems to be the new Tory council slogan. Or as the Gazette said: Let the rich inherit the borough.

04 March 2009

Bristow fails Mayor's parks challenge

Despite umpteen photo calls of Tory cabinet member Cllr Paul Bristow in local parks, the Mayor of London has not awarded any refurbishment money to H&F council for South Park and Hammersmith Park.

Clearly Cllr Bristow failed to enthuse local residents about the parks challenge. Questions are now being asked about how much H&F council spent on the pointless publicity exercise.

Ironically the nearest park to the borough to receive funding is Little Wormwood Scrubs, recently transferred from H&F to Kensington & Chelsea.

PS People in Cllr Bristow's newly adopted home, Middlesbrough, are asking where their Tory candidate is after he failed to appear at Boro's recent FA Cup triumph.

Not first choice in H&F

H&F parents were less likely to get their children into their first choice secondary school than parents in most other boroughs in London, according to league tables published this week. And over 10% of H&F pupils have been left without a secondary place for September.

01 March 2009

No one for tennis?

One of the Tories' many hidden increases in council fees and charges has incensed tennis coaches. H&F council is planning to more than double the licence fee for tennis coaches using the borough's courts.

The huge hike in fees was due to be debated at the annual council meeting last week. But the failure to present the figures at the meeting has called into doubt the legality of the proposals.

27 February 2009

Our budget questions answered (not)

Perhaps H&F Tory council leader Stephen Greenhalgh is getting paranoid.

First he mentions hfconwatch in his speech to the council's annual budget meeting this week. And then the council newspaper, H&F News, attempts to rebut everything hfconwatch has said about the Tories' latest budget.

A full page special (page 32 of the latest H&F News) highlights the following:
- the £61 million cuts made by the Tory council since 2007
- the failure to pass on the recent cut in VAT
- the numerous increased fees and charges
- the introduction of charges for home care
- the huge hike in charges for meals on wheels
- and the £1 million cut in schools funding

Thanks to Cllr Greenhalgh for confirming what we knew already. You read it here first.

24 February 2009

Tenants fear for future of Hammersmith estates

Representatives of tenants from Queen Caroline and Ashcroft Square estates in Hammersmith were summoned by recorded delivery letter to attend a meeting with Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lucy Ivimy, last Thursday.

Tory H&F council admitted that St Martins Property Corporation (owned by the ruler of Kuwait) is interested in redeveloping the Ashcroft Square estate on King Street. And they said the developer of Queens Wharf site was interested in the Queen Caroline estate behind the Apollo. Tenants were concerned that they would be moved out of the borough to make way for the developers.

Further 'consultation' with tenants will be held in March - about the same time as council representatives head off to Cannes again for the international property jamboree.

This latest news follows Tory plans to demolish the West Kensington estate and relocate residents.

22 February 2009

Investigation into funding of Tories

The Electoral Commission is investigating funding by Lord Ashcroft of the Conservative Party.

Ashcroft has bankrolled H&F Tories for several years, funding campaigns to get Greg Hands and Shaun Bailey elected to the House of Commons in marginal seats.

21 February 2009

Tories push through budget con

H&F council meets on Wednesday to debate the Tories' budget proposals for 2009-10 onwards.

The Tories are planning £32 million new budget cuts to 2012, making £61 million cuts in local services since 2007.

The budget cuts will pay for a small cut in council tax, which in turn will be offset by big rises in fees and charges, with almost 600 new or increased charges since 2007.

Residents are therefore paying more for less - the biggest budget con of them all.

19 February 2009

Threat to Charing Cross hospital rumbles on

How many times can H&F Tories try and put down Charing Cross hospital?

This extremely tired tactic has been rolled out yet again by H&F leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh (whose dad works at the hospital) - this time in response to a public consultation.

The Tories have cried wolf so many times. The hospital is alive and kicking and doing very well serving the local community.

We all know if the Tories were ever elected nationally that the NHS would be one of the first services to be destroyed.

Tories publish manifesto a year early

Before the 2006 council elections H&F Tories had a secret budget which they refused to publish.

This time they've gone one better by publishing their manifesto for the 2010 council elections over a year in advance.

Hard-nosed Tory Cllr Harry Phibbs has set out his 100 tips to cut council tax on the ConservativeHome website. Not surprisingly it's full of cuts in local services, adding to the £61 million spending cuts already announced by the Tories in H&F since 2007.

One surprise given the Tory council's increased spending on publicity is Phibbs' proposal to cut press officers. Or is that just more spin?

15 February 2009

Tories flout publicity rules again

Just days after Tory H&F council was criticised at the local Standards Commmittee for using council publicity for political gain, H&F Tories have been at it again.

On Friday 13 February, H&F Tories used an official GLA launch with the Mayor of London to promote the Conservative parliamentary candidate Shaun Bailey. Then Bailey was photographed with staff delivering council services in the borough.

Evidence is at: http://hfconservatives.typepad.com/residents_first/2009/02/boris-johnsons-visit-to-hf.html

07 February 2009

Greg Smith takes the rap

Tory H&F cabinet member for street scene, Cllr Greg Smith, has been blamed for the fiasco on the borough's streets this week.

First the council failed to grit the roads properly on Monday when it snowed. Then the much-vaunted newly privatised refuse collection failed to pick up rubbish two days in a row.

The borough is now littered with orange and black sacks, many of which won't be collected until Tuesday next week. Smith has been blamed for these failures which have attracted widespread media attention following a picture on the front page of the Evening Standard on Wednesday.

Greg Smith should start paying attention to his cabinet job and stop writing Shaun Bailey's emails.

05 February 2009

Rubbing rock salt into residents' wounds

Having failed to grit the borough's streets at the beginning of this week, Tory H&F council has already prepared its excuses in case there's another snow storm.

The Tory council has today issued a press release saying it has almost run out of salt and blames the government (again!). Why has H&F council failed to prepare properly (again!)? All the Tories seem concerned about is preventing another embarrassing front page picture in the Evening Standard.

Some people may remember when the previous Labour council was criticised for storing too much salt! Those were the days...

04 February 2009

What a load of rubbish

The picture on the front of today's Evening Standard is hardly the PR coup that Tory H&F council wanted when they launched the newly privatised waste collection service this week:


Growing piles of orange and black sacks throughout the borough reflect the failures of the Tories to grit the streets and collect refuse. So much for cleaner streets and a smarter borough.

PS it now appears that many of these sacks will be left uncollected on the streets until Tuesday next week! That's according to the council's own website, so it must be true.

03 February 2009

Going up (except for polo)

Tory H&F council is putting up its fees and charges for local services by 5% (over twice the rate of inflation).

But some fees are going up much more. If you want to get married in the old Mayor's Parlour at Fulham Town Hall on a Friday or Saturday you face an increase of 92% (and that's after the council has been shamed into passing on the recent cut in VAT). Opt for another room and the increase is a more modest 48%.

Should you prefer to improve your fitness in Hurlingham Park, and you manage to avoid the disruption caused by Cllr Bristow's polo folly, you will have to pay a 60% fee increase to use the training area. If you want to play tennis, the fees are going up 46%. Even local schools get stung - if they want to hire an all weather pitch, they will have to pay a 17% increase.

Amongst the few reductions in fees are those for 'bicycle polo' where the charge goes down 63% to £23.48 per hour. Perhaps this is part of the Tories' drive to bring polo back to the inner city?

02 February 2009

Where's the grit? part 4

No one at H&F council seemed to know the answer to this question today. Perhaps it's all been moved to, er, Rochdale?

Where's the grit? part 3

What a cheek! Having left H&F ungritted today, Tory councillor Harry Phibbs has the nerve to question why London has come to a standstill on the Daily Mail's site:


Surely Harry knows the answer? Apparently his newly privatised street cleansing service (run by Serco) failed to get its one and only gritter out in H&F until it was too late.

Hurry up Harry!

Where's the grit? part 2

The much vaunted new refuse and recycling collection in H&F has been cancelled on its first day (2 February).

Clearly the contract failed to mention snow (or gritting).

Where's the grit?

29 January 2009

Bringing twits back to the borough

What's the link between Thames Water, polo, the borough's parks and H&F Tory council's publicity machine?

For the answer check out Rupert Bear's latest video at:


Oh what a waste!

H&F Tories have once again shown that their so-called 'green' credentials are in fact deepest blue.

At last night's H&F Council meeting, the Tories voted to end garden waste recycling collection in the borough. This was first introduced by Labour in 2003 as a free service. The Tories introduced charges for collection in 2007 and the service has gone downhill ever since as a result.

The move to scrap green waste collection has taken place despite the results of a public consultation supporting the service and ironically it was introduced as an amendment to a Tory motion at the Council meeting opposing bin taxes.

26 January 2009

Welcome to the town hall of cuts

Amidst the latest round of spending cuts by Tory H&F council (£61 million since 2007 and counting), visitors to H&F town hall are greeted by an unpleasant smell as the foyer is refurbished.

It's clear where the Tories priorities lie. Having cut services across the borough, they are now splashing out on the town hall entrance. Exactly how much is it costing?

21 January 2009

Tories hike cost of meals on wheels - again

Tory H&F council is increasing the price for meals on wheels by 15% - from £3.30 per meal to £3.80 - for some of the most vulnerable people in the borough.

This latest increase follows huge rises in the last two years, making the H&F charge for meals one of the highest in London.

14 January 2009

Parking a lot of risks

In addition to making an extra £32 million cuts in local services over the next three years (see blog below), Tory H&F council's budget papers hide millions of pounds more of so-called financial 'risks'.

These include the 'risk' of losing £2.5 million parking income and of losing £700,000 from differential charging from penalty tickets. Yet there is no explanation of what has gone wrong, simply that these massive losses should be treated as a risk.

It was special pleading from Tory H&F council that caused London Councils to agree in H&F to two levels of penalty charge - £80 for less serious infringements and £120 for more serious ones. In H&F almost all penalty tickets are £120. The Tories' greed to soak residents has caused this latest 'risk' to happen.

Down down deeper and down

H&F residents living in basement flats pay their council tax like everyone else.

But from next month their rubbish and recyling won't be collected - unless they take it up to pavement level.

So much for the 'major shake-up in refuse collection' promised by the Tory council.

12 January 2009

£61 million cuts and counting - Tories have more in store

£32 million of new cuts in spending on local services have been unveiled by H&F Tory council over the next three years. That makes £61 million cut since 2007 - one-third of the council's budget.

And more cuts are in prospect as the Tories keep their plans for tax and spending in 2011-12 up their sleeves for another 'secret budget' in advance of the 2010 council elections.

The first spending cuts to be scrutinised this week by councillors will hit education and children's services.

Schools will be badly affected. Over the next three years the Tories are cutting £1 million from schools' funding, which means schools will have to cut teachers. The council is also cutting £1m from out of school childcare. They also expect to cut £250k from privatising school meals - if not schools will have to pay more. Cut again will be music, dance and uniform discretionary grants. And the council wants to pass on to schools £600k of human resources costs.

Other cuts planned include:
* Housing rents go up 6%, heating charges 20%
* Most charges for council services to go up 5% (even though council itself has allowed less than 2% for inflation)
* Lots more jobs to go (parking staff can look forward to moving to Rochdale)
* New charges for household waste collections
* Further charity rate relief withdrawal

* More cuts stories to follow - please send details to hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

11 January 2009

The great VAT swindle

Tory H&F council, which professes to love tax cutting, has failed to pass on the recent cut in VAT to local residents.

People using local sports facilities, libraries and other council services that charge (which have proliferated in the last two years under the Tories) will still have to pay VAT at 17.5% despite the national reduction from 1 December 2008.

This great VAT swindle has even been condemned by the Tories' friends at the Taxpayers Alliance. This is the second time in a week that the Taxpayers Alliance has attacked H&F council - the jolly by Tory cabinet member Cllr Mark Loveday to Cannes has also been exposed (again).

04 January 2009

Charging ahead without care

2009 has got off to a grim start in H&F for older and disabled people as the Tory council introduces charges for home help services.

Already it seems many people needing home care are choosing to cancel or reduce their services rather than face paying the new charges.

Regular hfconwatch readers will recall that the Tories' 2006 election manifesto promised not to introduce charging for home care in H&F.

01 January 2009

Those new year resolutions in full

hfconwatch wishes all readers a very happy 2009.

We can also reveal exclusively the new year resolutions made by Tory cabinet members at H&F council:

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, leader: "I will not make all the council staff redundant again in 2009. I will try and lose a few pounds this year off my pay rise. And I promise not to spend council taxpayers' money on scaremongering about Charing Cross hospital, super sewers or the district line. I am looking for new ideas to distract residents before May 2010."

Cllr Paul Bristow, cabinet member for residents services: "I look forward to riding around our parks in preparation for our international polo tournament in Fulham this summer. Now I have stopped blogging, I have more time to devote to my new constituency in Middlesbrough. Having relocated H&F council's call centre to Rochdale, I will endeavour to transfer other essential council services to boost the economy in the north east."

Cllr Nick Botterill, deputy leader: "We will make recyling of garden waste our number one priority. Recycling is too easy and we will be looking at ways to make it impossible for residents this year. We will continue to attract as many cars as possible to our borough. I will also be concentrating on developing our secret budget for the 2010 council elections, without any cuts of course."

Cllr Lucy Ivimy, cabinet member for housing: "I will try and be nice to all our tenants this year. Sometimes I am misunderstood, so I will attempt to be clearer this year. We will demolish all council housing and redevelop all our estates as soon as possible."

Cllr Mark Loveday, cabinet member for strategy: "With less than 18 months to the council elections, I will be doing everything possible to progress the replacement of H&F townhall with Westfield mark II. Why should Shepherds Bush residents be the only ones lucky enough to have traffic congestion locally? And we do need a Waitrose close to where I live."

Cllr Antony Lillis, cabinet member for lots of things: "I promise not to break any more of our election manifesto commitments. We will continue our reorganisation of schools, opening several new French schools and relocating all secondary schools. The new school in Shepherds Bush will be named the Fulham academy."

Cllr Frances Stainton, chief whip: "None of our 33 Tory councillors will be allowed to visit Dubai this year. Anyone caught in the country will be sent to stand in Shepherds Bush."

Cllr Greg Smith, cabinet member for crime: "We will explore new ways to engineer crime statistics to show that the whole borough is benefiting from my experiments. To pay for extra policing, we will introduce new charges based on the number of crimes in your street."

hfconwatch review of 2008

hfconwatch is delighted to reflect on our top five stories of the year:

* Pull the other one - the long-running saga about the closure of Shepherds Bush central line station when the council put residents last again for the Westfield development

* How much longer for Councillor Alford? Except that councillor awful was replaced by someone even worse, who captured national media attention instantly

* Tories in buy-election shock - sparked by a Tory councillor fleeing to Dubai; every effort was made to spend money to win the Du-by election in Sands End while making £36 million cuts across the borough

* Rochdale calling - several months later it still seems crazy that the council is relocating its call centre to Rochdale of all places.

* Family friendly policies given the boot - who would have believed that all council staff would be given redundancy notices? Not the Tories' best idea.