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.