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?