20 December 2010

'Poor and vulnerable' Toby Young blocks public questions, mucks up his Latin

The would-be West London Free School has been embarrassing itself again. Leading light Toby Young and would-be head teacher Thomas Packer apparently refused to take questions from the public at a (public) meeting on the school on 15 December. What were they afraid of?

It seems they also got their Latin wrong: worrying news, given that teaching Latin is a main selling point for the school. See here for a thought-provoking report by an educated parent at the meeting. 

The well-paid Young also took time out this weekend to show his concern for the poor. In a Telegraph blog condemning campaigners against tax avoidance (yes, against), he sneered, “The organisers purport to be sympathetic to the victims of the cuts whom they describe as ‘the poorest and most vulnerable’ – a category I must fall into because my family’s child benefit has been cut to zero”. The child benefit cuts may be wrong but they will only hit earnings of more than £43,875.

What makes Hammersmith Council think West Londoners want people like this involved in teaching their children?

17 December 2010

4 Jan deadline for objections to Hammersmith council's monstrous plan

The Cathnor Park Action Group (CPAG) is urging all Hammersmith residents to write to the Council about its plans to rip down homes for blind people, an art deco cinema and the Town Hall extension and replace them with two 14-storey monstrosities that lack any social housing.

The deadline for objections is 4 January 2011. Save Our Skyline has useful reminders about the key issues and a ready-made email template and link.

CPAG says, "Many residents feel that this is a defining planning decision for Hammersmith: if it goes through not only will our lovely river views go for ever and we will lose a large part of Furnivall Gardens to the ramp of the footbridge linking the Town Hall to the river, but the floodgates could be open to tall buildings all the way down King Street and it will become a very different place. So please do make time to send an email."

16 December 2010

Who is behind the West London Free School?

We’ve been having a look at the group of thrusting individuals that make up the Steering Committee of the would-be West London Free School. These are the people that think it so important to have a state school which teaches Latin that they are prepared to let over 20 charities be expelled from Palingswick House and services for disadvantaged children and families be forcibly “relocated” from the Askham Family Centre to make way for their school.

Charlie Ben-Nathan is a former independent school teacher.

Caroline Bondy was educated partly in the independent sector. She is married to Toby Young, the public face of the free school.

Edward Hobart went to boarding school. 

Suzie Hobart is married to Edward Hobart. 

John McIntosh was headmaster of the Catholic London Oratory School and is now an adviser to Ampleforth College (Catholic boarding school) and a governor of St Philip's Preparatory School (Catholic private school) and More House School (girls-only private school).

Stefan Bojanowski went to the London Oratory School. He is grateful to have had the opportunity to study Latin”.

Caroline Ffiske is a former Hammersmith Tory councillor and current partner of Harry Phibbs, Hammersmith Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Engagement.

Toby Young is the author of “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” and co-author of “Who's The Daddy?”, a play that pokes fun at Boris Johnson's affair with columnist Petronella Wyatt. He is the the son of Michael Young, who helped establish the Consumers' Association, the National Consumer Council and the Open University and became a Labour peer.

The other Steering Committee members are Jo Alexander, Mita Bhattacharyya, Mustafa Erdem, Simon Hugill, Cosmo Lush, Justin Tooth and Tim Waters.  

If anyone has any more interesting facts about these leading state educationalists, please do share them with us.

15 December 2010

Chronicle lets H&F Council fudge it on Palingswick House and Askham Family Centre

Today’s Fulham Chronicle website quotes a council spokeswoman as saying, “We are having ongoing discussions with the West London Free School about potential sites and we are keen to support them in developing their application for government approval. We haven't yet agreed any specific site but we will happily share any news as soon as we have it” (emphasis added).

Of course, you get the answers to the questions you asked. If it asked these instead, the Chronicle might be quite surprised by what it learnt:
  • Have there been any discussions among councillors and/or council officers about what rent the council might charge the West London Free School for using Palingswick House or the Askham Family Centre? If so, on when did these discussions take place? What options were put forward? Were any of them to charge a market rent? Were any of them to charge a peppercorn rent?
  • Have there been any discussions among council cabinet members and/or council officers about what is expected to happen to the charities in Palingswick House if the council evicts them to make way for the West London Free School? If so, what options were discussed?
  • Have there been any discussions among council cabinet members and/or council officers about what will happen to the services for children and families in the Askham Family Centre if the council evicts them from to make way for the West London Free School? If so, what are the latest options under discussion?

If anyone else fancies asking the council the same questions via a Freedom of Information request, which is surprisingly simple to do, see here for instructions.

And let's not leave out the school itself. A good question for the Steering Committee of the West London Free School might be, “Would you think it decent to evict local charities and services for children and families to make way for your school?

The best collective email  for Jo Alexander, Charlie Ben-Nathan, Mita Bhattacharyya, Stefan Bojanowski, Caroline Bondy, Mustafa Erdem, Caroline Ffiske, Edward Hobart, Suzie Hobart, Simon Hugill, Cosmo Lush, John McIntosh, Justin Tooth, Tim Waters and Toby Young (biogs here) seems to be admissions@westlondonfreeschool.co.uk.

    14 December 2010

    Botterill says Hammersmith Council wasted £250,000 so a few staff could work 24 hours a day

    Just as we hear that Tory minister Eric Pickles is slashing Tory Hammersmith Council’s budget by £26 million, we learn that the same prudent council has wasted £250,000 – or one pound for every hundred that’s being cut – by leaving the town hall lights on at night.

    The councillor nominally in charge of the environment, Nick Botterill, “explained” to the local paper: “Council staff have been working in all areas of the building for 24 hours a day until recently, which is why the lights were on.”

    According to the paper, he was talking about a “handful of noise nuisance and environmental protection staff”. In a seven-storey building.
    With passers-by able to watch these workers through brightly lit windows at all hours, who would have guessed this is what H&F meant when it said it aimed to become Britain’s most transparent local council.

    13 December 2010

    CONFIRMED! Hammersmith Council sacrificing centre for local children to ideological “free” school for children from outside the borough

    You read it here first. Following HFConwatch's exposure of this scandal ten days ago, the Shepherd’s Bush Blog has confirmed that Tory H&F Council intends to plonk Toby Young’s ideologically-driven “free” school in the Askham Family Centre until the Palingswick Centre is ready. The Centre's services will be “relocated”, which may mean lost, and the school will pay a peppercorn rent, if anything.

    The council claims the Askham Centre is “underutilised”. But at least it’s used by local Hammersmith families whereas the new school will take only half its children from H&F.

    The Tories seem to think Hammersmith taxpayers won’t notice that local services are being at best disrupted and at worst sacrificed in favour of an ideological school experiment for kids outside the borough.

    07 December 2010

    Now Shaun Bailey casts doubt on monster development

    Councillor Mark Loveday, H&F Tory council's cabinet member for strategy, was on BBC London again last night defending his plans to rip down homes for the blind along with the Cineworld cinema and build two monstrous 14-storey blocks of luxury flats which, crucially, do not include any social housing.

    What would he think of a statement yesterday by Shaun Bailey, his own failed parliamentary candidate, that "We should stop building sink estates, look at the social mix of housing and incentivise people to live together"? Making shared ownership viable for people on low incomes should also be a priority, says Bailey.

    What with Tory MP Zac Goldsmith attacking the unwanted scheme, soon the Tory council's only remaining friends will be the developers salivating about their profits.

    06 December 2010

    Tories turn on each other in Cineworld fight

    Today’s Evening Standard says, “An award-winning film director and MP Zac Goldsmith have joined campaigners opposing plans to build apartments and a supermarket on the site of a Thirties art-deco cinema.”  

    See full story here  and Tory MP Zac Goldsmith’s letter to Tory H&F council leader Stephen Greenhalgh here.

    It would be easier to say this showed there was still some decency left in the Tory Party if the same Zac Goldsmith was not being investigated by the Electoral Commission over an "impermissible" donation to his own party.

    Toby Young to occupy Askham Centre rent free?

    Since our last posting about the council’s (alleged) plan to let “celebrity” Toby Young grab the Askham Centre for disadvantaged children and families and turn it into his new free school, we now hear that the council (allegedly) intends to charge Mr Young the grand and princely sum of precisely nothing, zilch, not a smackeroo for use of this prime piece of council real estate. 

    This is one of those moments when it would be really great to be proved wrong. Perhaps someone from the council could deny it.

    03 December 2010

    Is Toby Young now getting the Askham Family Centre?

    Rumours reach us that H&F Tory Council wants to delay siting Toby Young’s free school in Palingswick House for a year. Their latest plan is apparently to give him the Askham Family Centre in Askham Road W12 instead.

    The centre’s services include overnight respite for families with severely disabled children and assessments for families with serious behavioural problems. This would be sacrificed for an unwanted ideological free school experiment, half of whose pupils will come from outside the borough.

    Toby Young wants the new school to teach Latin. To which we can only say, ne cede malis*.

    * May you not give way to evil things (Virgil)

    29 November 2010

    Local Tories enjoy millionaires' moolah

    Not everyone in Hammersmith is having it tough. The local Conservative Party has enjoyed nearly a quarter of a million pounds in donations over the past decade, with four in every ten pounds coming from just two multi-millionaires, Lord Ashcroft and John Nash. According to Electoral Commission figures, the ten-year total since January 2001 hit £216,684 at the end of October. 

    Lord Ashcroft’s £42,000 bounty was conveyed by Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of an investment company owned by a Belize-registered company (yes) associated with the straightforward peer.

    John Nash, who owns a huge private healthcare company, chose to channel £50,000 to Hammersmith Tories via his wife Caroline. She also bestowed £21,000 on Andrew Lansley's office, causing the Daily Telegraph to exclaim, Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, is being bankrolled by the head of one of the biggest private health providers to the NHS” and the Daily Mail to warn, Mr Nash runs several other firms that provide services to the NHS and stands to gain hugely from Tory plans to increase private sector involvement. It will be interesting to see how local GP consortia develop.

    Who on earth are S.D. Management of 4th Floor, Centre Heights, 137 Finchley Road, London NW3 6JG, company reg. No. 0624459, who gave the Hammersmith Conservative Party £5,000 on 9 December 2009? Any answers, please, to hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk.

    26 November 2010

    Cathnor Group takes fight to the Tories - visit their stall in Lyric Square

    Good to see this email today from Annabel Clarke (no friend of the Labour Party) taking on the Tory Council’s misguided development plans, which would waste public money, ruin the Hammersmith skyline, boot out residents and damage local firms. Visit the stall tomorrow before or after signing the Save Cineworld petition (see below).

        Cathnor Park Area Action Group Communication
        Dear Members
        Please could you forward this email to all neighbours and friends.
        If you are in Hammersmith tomorrow (27th November 2010), there will be a stall in Lyric Square showing more details of the Town Hall Redevelopment and what you can do to object.
        Kind regards
        Annabel Clarke, Cathnor Park Area Action Group

    25 November 2010

    Sign the "Save Cineworld" petition

    At 2pm this Saturday 27 November, campaigners will be launching a petition outside Cineworld in King Street, Hammersmith to save the popular cinema. This is part of the Save our Skyline campaign.

    Given the 14-storey monstrosity the Tory council wants to build on the cinema site, it is ironic that Cineworld is currently showing an alien horror film called "Skyline", whose poster warns "Don't look up". (Tory councillors take note: the good guys win in the end.)

    23 November 2010

    The Tories' "Bugger Off Society"

    Another tawdry Tory timeline:
    • 13 September - At a Save Our Skyline meeting, H&F Tory Cllr Harry Phibbs says "I'm here to listen" to residents' concerns that replacing the town hall extension with two 14-storey skyscrapers would blight the skyline, force out vulnerable local residents and damage local shops.
    • 29 October - The “listening” Tories submit unchanged plans to the planning committee.
    • 12 November - Private Eye again calls H&F a Rotten Borough: "How the Bigger Society became the Bugger Off Society when it came to consulting over plans to demolish council buildings in favour of luxury flats”. Full piece here (better still, buy the paper).
    Go and watch the Tories ignore local people at the next Save our Skyline meeting, 6 December, 7.15pm, Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street W6 9JT.

    16 November 2010

    Threshold – a timeline of Tory revenge?

    The Threshold Housing Advice charity (THA) has closed its doors after 32 years. Here are some interesting dates.
    •   June 2008: H&F council refuses emergency accommodation to an eight-month-pregnant battered wife, who ends up sleeping rough in a park for four days.
    •   2009: THA complains to the Local Government Ombudsman.
    •   Jan 2010: Ombudsman finds H&F guilty of maladministration causing injustice
    •   June 2010: H&F council stops funding THA.
    •   Nov 2010: THA closes.
    The Ombudsman is still investigating a second THA complaint about H&F, allegedly “a lot, lot worse than the first”.

    Bumptious Greenhalgh irritates K&C and Westminister Tories

    The leaders of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils are apparently still smarting at the crude way H&F leader Stephen Greenhalgh jumped the gun on their carefully planned announcement about merging services. Expect sparks to fly once discussions between the crass H&F Tory slashers and the one-nation Tories in K&C start in earnest.

    15 November 2010

    Are local charities being kicked out to make Palingswick House a free school for kids outside the borough?

    Dogma-driven H&F Tory Council looks set to hammer local charities and sacrifice local residents’ money on educating children from outside the borough. The council originally shamefully said it would kick out 23 charities that help local people from Palingswick House on King Street and sell the building to pay down debt rather than improve services.

    Now rumours are flying that the Tories are about to give up any rental or sale income from the building and hand it over to Toby Young’s new free school. Toby says only “about half” of students will be H&F residents – in other words, half will come from outside H&F (see http://tinyurl.com/2wllgop). Why should local charities and residents pay for this?

    09 November 2010

    H&F council to axe 700 jobs and make £28 million cuts

    Following the government's spending review, Tory H&F council plans to save £28 million in the next financial year. This savings target means losing around 700 posts over the next four years.

    That's before any plans are finalised for the so-called super council of H&F, K&C and Westminster.

    31 October 2010

    More Halloween housing horrors

    A short and simple piece explaining Tory housing policy: http://www.labourlist.org/social-cleansing-gerrymandering---or-both

    As housing benefit is cut, look who's benefiting from housing

    The Mail on Sunday today exposes the pay and pension scandal of the man in charge of housing and regeneration in Tory H&F who has been advising the government on their housing policies: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1325261/Council-chief-quits-203k-job-health-grounds-50k-annual-pension--lands-260k-job--keeps-pension.html

    22 October 2010

    RIP Hammersmith & Fulham

    So who voted to create a Tory fiefdom in central west London? It's goodbye to local democracy in H&F as the Tories merge council services in central west London.

    Plans to create a 'super council' surely only require one 'super leader' as Mr Blobby takes another step towards world domination. So this is the new localism.

    RIP H&F, hello to WKCH&F: Who xxxKxxx Cares about Hammersmith & Fulham!

    PS and this is why: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/10/osborne-poor-labour-london

    19 October 2010

    Why doesn't the big society include social housing?

    As big cuts are threatened in social housing, the question is why can't social housing residents collectively own their homes: http://ukregeneration.org.uk/2010/10/14/why-doesn%E2%80%99t-the-big-society-include-social-housing/

    11 October 2010

    Is this really what you want?

    Tory H&F council is planning to replace Hammersmith Town Hall with a monstrosity development overshadowing the river.

    Save Our Skyline is a new residents' group which has arranged a public meeting about the council’s plans on Wednesday 13th October. The meeting will start at 7.00pm and will take place at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 9JT.

    For more visit: http://www.saveourskyline.co.uk/

    10 October 2010

    In an emergency, call Rochdale...

    H&F Tory council plans to relocate its out of hours service for emergency calls to Rochdale, where the council's call centre was moved three years ago.

    The cabinet report describes the out of hours service as well respected by residents, but says it has to be relocated to Rochdale to save money. So next time you have a housing problem, need a social worker, have an environmental health issue or noisy neighbours, you know where to call.

    Up go parking permits - only 20%!

    Tory H&F council is planning to increase the cost of residents' parking permits by 20%. The decision to increase the annual charge from £99 to £119 will be taken at the next Tory cabinet meeting on 14 October.

    hfconwatch must have missed this plan to put residents first in the Tories' manifesto at the recent council elections.

    The cabinet report also forgets to mention that the council already makes £15 million profit a year from parking and penalty tickets. This profit will be topped up by increases in the cost of parking tickets and visitor permits in the borough. Tell your friends and family to go elsewhere.

    30 September 2010

    Tip-off sparks independent paper row

    Why did H&F council announce on 28 September that it is going to tender the production of H&F News - just 24 hours before the government signalled the end of council-run newspapers (see previous hfconwatch blog)?

    Who tipped off Cllr Greenhalgh that his mate Pickles was calling a halt to his propaganda machine?

    Is the council's wheeze of turning H&F news into a 'partnership arrangement with an independent news provider' a clever move? Or a cynical attempt to get round the government's announcement?

    The H&F council press release states: 'While H&F wants no say in editorial coverage, it wants to use the newspaper to communicate and engage with residents in allocated space clearly set aside for the council.'

    So not very independent then!

    Act before it's too late

    Stop the Tories selling off the local community's buildings in Hammersmith & Fulham.

    Respond to the council consultation ASAP by going to: http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/Council_and_Democracy/Consultation_and_complaints/Consultations/ and access H&F Buildings Consultation questionnaire

    The consultation formally ends at 23.59hrs on Friday, 1st October 2010, according to the covering letter from the council leader.

    29 September 2010

    Pickles signals end of H&F News

    New proposals to stop taxpayers' money being squandered on town hall newspapers or hired lobbyists have been announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. The move signals the end of H&F council's fortnightly propaganda paper, H&F News.

    A consultation published today outlines new proposals to tighten up the publicity rules for councils so they guard against campaigning with public funds.

    The proposals set out specific rules to stop municipal newspapers being published more often than four times a year and to prevent the hiring of lobbyists. Instead, Ministers say councils should redirect resources into protecting front-line services.

    H&F leader Cllr Greenhalgh and his fellow Tories look like they have been squashed by Pickles. So farewell then H&F News...

    22 September 2010

    H£F pawnbroking

    Yet again the latest edition of Tory council propaganda H&F News comes wrapped in an advert for 'cash & cheque express'. Pawnbroking for the 21st century.

    What does this say about the borough and the state of the economy in Tory Britain? H&F now stands for 'Hard-up and F***ed'.

    16 September 2010

    Phibbs writes about...Phibbs

    Not content with getting H&F council to press release his 105 ways for cutting red tape, Tory Cllr Harry Phibbs has gone one step further.

    He has put on his journalist hat and written a diary story for the Evening Standard about his 105 recycled ideas. That's enough Phibbs.

    11 September 2010

    H&F council experiments with children's future

    Tory H&F council is at the forefront of cuts and experiments which will affect our children's future:
    - the council's education department is being merged with Westminster council and also it seems Kensington & Chelsea
    - three so-called free schools are being set up in the borough (out of 16 in total across the country)
    - meanwhile existing schools are being robbed of resources with £200 million of improvements to local schools axed
    - children's services are to be privatised as part of a pathfinder experiment which will affect some of the most vulnerable, looked after children
    - and children's centres staff are all on notice with the council poised to close several of the borough's children's centres next year

    None of the above was in the Conservatives' manifesto before the recent local elections.

    06 September 2010

    H&F council's waste on comics and weather forecasts

    Tonight's Evening Standard highlights profligate spending by Tory H&F council on comics, weather forecasts, 'free running' and meetings at the Old Ship pub.

    Jokes about piss-ups in breweries come to mind. Given free weather forecasts are widely available on the net and the fact that the council failed to grit the roads in advance of last winter's snow storms, perhaps councillors have been reading the comics down the pub. Or is the Old Ship part of the Tories' accommodation strategy?

    For the official response, visit: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23874539-town-halls-defend-spending-on-pet-cats-free-running--and-a-wolfman.do

    01 September 2010

    Sign up to save H&F

    As Tory H&F council plans to close and sell off many local services and facilities, community groups are fighting back.

    You can sign the petition against the closure of Barons Court library here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savebaronscourtlibrary/

    You can also go to Palingswick House - where lots of local voluntary organisations are based - to sign the petition to stop the council selling it off. Just visit Palingswick House to sign the petition form on the table in the entrance at 241 King Street W6 9LP. For an electronic copy of the petition, email: phlmgt@talktalkbusiness.net

    31 August 2010

    Charging ahead

    Tory H&F council is introducing a range of new and higher charges for so-called 'residents services' from 1 October 2010 - unusually half way through the financial year such are the holes in the council's finances.

    All concessionary discounts on library charges are to be removed for older people and other residents; fees for using sports facilities will go up by at least 10%, while charges for collecting bulky waste will be increased by up to 200%.

    So we are likely to see more rubbish on the streets and fewer people using local libraries and playing sport. Another Tory victory.

    21 August 2010

    Hammersmith shows why coalition honeymoon is ending

    Check out this analysis by Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith:


    People are wising up to the fact that what has happened in Tory H&F over the last four years is now happening to the whole country.

    20 August 2010

    H&F's very own Laurel and Hardy

    This blog is another shameless plug for this BBC TV News clip:


    That's another fine mess you got us into. H&F Tory council's leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, and deputy leader, Cllr Nicholas Botterill, really are the Laurel and Hardy of our times and borough.

    Has Cllr Botterill stopped smirking yet? And Cllr Greenhalgh should be ashamed of the comedy stitch-up of the deputy prime minister.

    19 August 2010

    Don't come to Tory Hammersmith & Fulham

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg got a lesson in what Conservatives do yesterday.

    A photocall was arranged to demonstrate his new social mobility policies at the Shepherds Bush Village Hall - only for Clegg to discover when there that Tory H&F council has cut the children's centre's funding and is selling off the building.

    Have a look at:


    You couldn't make it up! Another ConDem cock-up...

    17 August 2010

    Will Hands go back to Charity Commission?

    After his recent experience with the Charity Commission, will Tory MP for Chelsea Greg Hands now turn his attention closer to his constituency and report Shaun Bailey's My Generation (see previous hfconwatch blogs) to the Charity Commission?

    As they say, charity begins at home.

    16 August 2010

    Greenhalgh praises Pickles shock

    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles' decision to scrap the Audit Commission has been applauded by H&F Tory council leader Stephen Greenhalgh.

    Now there will be no independent body to judge whether councils are performing well and delivering good value for money - nor to monitor the impact of all the Tory cuts in local services.

    No wonder Cllr Greenhalgh is delighted. After all, it was the Fat Controller himself who urged the other Fat Controller to get rid of the Audit Commission.

    12 August 2010

    Out for summer, out for ever

    First it was the borough's schools that got hit for six as the Tory government decimated the schools building programme.

    Now the borough's playgrounds are not going get the promised makeover as more cuts hit locally.

    Angry parents in Brook Green attacked the latest Tory cuts on Channel 4 News last night.

    11 August 2010

    Cameron's 'a toff' says Harry Phibbs

    Having described himself yesterday as a sharp-elbowed member of the middle classes, David Cameron has now found himself labelled 'a toff' by one of his Tory councillors in H&F.

    Hard-nosed Harry Phibbs (in his other job on the Daily Mail) has had great fun raking over every class cliche going at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1302125/Sharp-elbowed-middle-class-Cameron-indifferent-rest-us.html

    Another real Pickles

    H&F News - the Tory council newspaper - has already been attacked for the propaganda it is by government minister Eric Pickles.

    Now he has laid into H&F council for using private firms to lobby the government. We wait to see how much has been spent by the Tory council on lobbying and H&F News.

    But Mr Pickles and Tory leader Cllr Greenhalgh must be heading for a super-heavyweight wrestling match in one of our local parks soon.

    27 July 2010

    It's summer, so the Tories consult on closing libraries

    As predicted by hfconwatch before the May elections, Tory H&F council has announced plans to close Baron's Court and Sands End libraries and scrap the mobile library.

    A consultation on changes to the library service has been launched today just as many library users head off for their holidays. This cynical move displays the Tories' contempt for local residents.

    The consultation closes on 15 September...

    16 July 2010

    Harry Phibbs - hypocrite of the night

    Who does H&F Tory Cllr Harry Phibbs think he is? He's meant to be a representative of his local community but he spends more time practising his Daily Mail journalism.

    Last night at the H&F cabinet meeting, Cllr Phibbs should have been asking why his colleagues were making huge cuts in local voluntary organisations that make up the so-called Big Society. Instead he said nothing and simply nodded through cut after cut.

    Rather than his Daily Mail 'hypocrisy' attacks on others, Cllr Phibbs should be asking himself why he missed virtually every single meeting of the H&F Law Centre management committee that he was representing the council on. Shame on you and the rest of the cabinet.

    15 July 2010

    Seven deputations to cabinet on voluntary sector funding

    Seven voluntary organisations have organised deputations to this evening's H&F Tory cabinet meeting on funding of the voluntary sector from October.

    Faced with huge cuts, the seven organisations will be calling for decisions to be reversed. They are: Shepherds Bush Families Project; Under 5's drop in session run by SEAPIA (Sands End); Iranian Association; Grove Neighbourhood Centre; Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre; Threshold Housing Advice; Hammersmith & Fulham Refugee Forum.

    Support them outside Hammersmith town hall from 6.15pm this evening (15 July) and in the cabinet meeting itself at 7pm.

    PS despite six powerful deputations, the Tory leader ran roughshod over his fellow cabinet members and opposition councillors tonight, refusing to allow any questions or debate on the proposals and moving straight to a vote on cutting voluntary sector funding. Clearly the Tories 'cannot afford to care'.

    12 July 2010

    Big Society cuts to H&F voluntary sector services

    David Cameron's favourite Tory council in H&F is living up to its reputation by making huge cuts in funding to local voluntary organisations from this October.

    Now Tory councillors will face a huge demonstration on Thursday 15 July when H&F cabinet meets to agree the cuts. A rally outside the town hall at 6.15pm will be followed inside by deputations to the cabinet meeting at 7pm.

    The cuts will hit all sections of the local community and decimate local services. Organisations that are being hit include the Pre-school Learning Alliance, Hammersmith & Fulham Action on Disability, the Law Centre, Threshold, Shepherds Bush Families Project, Breakthrough and many minority ethnic and refugee groups plus CITAS.

    Whatever happened to the Big Society?

    08 July 2010

    Who ate all the pies?

    Pots and kettles come to mind when you read Tory H&F leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh's latest rant. hfconwatch doesn't normally publicise these but have a look at 'Wine before work' at: http://www.hfconservatives.com/ for a bizarre attack on the MP for Hammersmith.

    Not only does Mr Blobby not know his stuff – part of Andrew Slaughter's new constituency covers the Fulham Society's patch - but isn’t Cllr Greenhalgh simply admitting that he was also hoovering up the free calories, but just travelling in the opposite direction? And we all know who can eat more.

    Clearly Greenhalgh and Hammersmith Tories are still smarting and bitter (that will be 14 pints, please) two months on from losing the Hammersmith parliamentary election. Or perhaps Mr Blobby was tired and emotional when he wrote 'Wine before bed'.

    07 July 2010

    H£F for sale

    Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has announced a bonfire of the community's assets, selling off valuable buildings. For short term gain, the Tory leader is destroying the borough by flogging off the community's silver.

    Up for sale are:
    Fulham Town Hall
    The Sands End Community Centre
    The Askham Centre
    Distillery Lane Centre
    Palingswick House
    The Irish Centre
    58 Bulwer Street
    The Greswell Street Centre
    50 Commonwealth Avenue W12

    Once sold, these facilities will never belong to the community again.

    Carers centre closure clouded by defamation row

    As if the closure of H&F Carers Centre (see previous hfconwatch blogs) by the Tory council was not bad enough, there are now allegations of defamation being made against the Tory cabinet member and director responsible for the decision. Apparently the two wrote to local voluntary organisations explaining their closure decision with accusations of improper relationships at the centre. They have since written another letter withdrawing their remarks but the damage has been done.

    Mirror, mirror...the biggest of them all?

    H&F Tory council leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh was embraced recently by Tory local government minister Eric Pickles as they dwarfed H&F council's debt.

    They were celebrating a further £55 million cuts in local services over the next three years together with a deal to merge H&F's local education authority with Westminster council's. It's not clear who voted for that move or what benefit it will bring the children and students of this borough.

    PS This is what The Guardian has to say about the education merger with Westminster: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/17/public-services-local-councils So much for the new localism.

    05 July 2010

    Tory council undermined by Tory government

    Thirteen (13!) schools building projects in H&F have been stopped by the new Tory government as part of the latest cuts. H&F Tory council's plans for secondary education and school reorganisation have been undermined by the decision. The only project that will continue is the so-called Hammersmith Academy in Askew ward.

    PS a H&F council press release about the vandalism to thirteen school building projects in the borough unusually doesn't include a quote from a Tory councillor about their government's bulldozing of their plans.

    Greenhalgh wastes no time in cuts crusade

    As warned by hfconwatch after the 6 May council elections, H&F Tories have rushed ahead with cuts and closures which make their first term look timid.

    Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has proclaimed a personal mission to reduce the council's debt and thereby the council tax. No one seems to be asking why such big cuts in debt (and thereby local services) are necessary at this time.

    Instead, Cllr Greenhalgh is glorying in selling off community assets, axeing funding to local voluntary organisations and closing the local carers' centre (as per previous blogs). More on all these Tory cuts to follow - £55 million over the next three years, as trumpeted by the Tory leader last week.

    10 June 2010

    Cameron's caring council closes carers' centre

    Without a hint of irony, Tory H&F council has announced - just days before Carers Week (14-20 June) - that its funding for H&F Carers Centre will end this month.

    The decision means the centre will have to close after 12 years. No alternative support or services for carers have been put in place. Families will now have to struggle even more on their own. Happy Carers Week!

    PS One wonders what the Princess Royal makes of H&F council's decision to close one of her centres?
    PPS The protests against the decision by new Tory cabinet member Cllr Joe Carlebach are mounting...

    08 June 2010

    "We cannot afford to care"

    Those words are already coming back to haunt H&F Tory leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, just days after denying he used them at the annual council meeting.

    News has just reached hfconwatch that H&F Carers Centre is to be closed after 12 years supporting carers and their families in the borough.

    Following a lengthy review, the Tory council has decided to close the centre -without putting in place any other services for carers.

    Cllr Greenhalgh has made it clear that reducing the council's debt is a priority compared to supporting carers or running summer projects for disabled children.

    Watch this space for more Tory cuts coming your way soon...

    31 May 2010

    Be afraid - part four

    The new Tory Cabinet in H&F was announced at last week’s council meeting:
    Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh – Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic and Housing Development
    Cllr Nicholas Botterill – Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment and Asset Management
    Cllr Mark Loveday - Cabinet Member for Strategy and Chief Whip
    Cllr Helen Binmore - Cabinet Member for Children’s Services
    Cllr Joe Carlebach - Cabinet Member for Community Care
    Cllr Harry Phibbs - Cabinet Member for Community Engagement
    Cllr Lucy Ivimy - Cabinet Member for Housing
    Cllr Greg Smith - Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services

    The leader of the council has taken on personal responsibility for demolishing estates in the borough with an addition to his portfolio.

    And if Cllr Phibbs is the answer to the council's problems engaging with the community, what was the question? Hard-nosed Harry will go down well telling residents that their homes and local communities are being sold off to developers.

    27 May 2010

    Be afraid - part three

    "We cannot afford to care." So said Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Tory leader of H&F council, at its AGM last night.

    Just days after the elections on 6 May, one local voluntary organisation was told that funding for its long-established summer playscheme for disabled children has been cut - a few weeks before it was due to take place.

    hfconwatch will be monitoring Tory council cuts as they grapple with the £25 million budget risks unveiled before the election. Email any news to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

    CLEARLY the Tories are rather prickly about this post, having issued a denial/rebuttal 48 hours after the annual council meeting. A press release from the council (rather similar to H&F Tories' own website) has given this blog more publicity than it's had for a long time. As Cllr Greenhalgh knows, politics is about priorities. We all know what the Tory council's priorities are for the next four years - just read previous hfconwatch posts over the last four years.

    Cameron 'lies' slur over Bailey defeat

    According to the Daily Telegraph, David Cameron is smarting about Shaun Bailey's defeat in Hammersmith:

    He was still angry over “appalling” Labour lies that he blamed for preventing celebrated candidates such as Shaun Bailey winning in marginal seats. “They were telling people in Hammersmith they were going to have their council house taken away by the Tories.”

    What lies, Prime Minister? H&F Tory leader Cllr Greenhalgh is already ploughing on with his plans to demolish council estates in the borough.

    For the real reasons why Labour won Hammersmith, see: http://www.progressonline.org.uk/articles/article.asp?a=5925

    23 May 2010

    Be afraid - part two

    Chelsea & Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands lost out in the carve up of Ministerial posts in the new coalition government, despite being a shadow minister.

    But Hands has now been appointed as Parliamentary private secretary to George Osborne.

    So watch out for Greg and George creating havoc, with the first Tory cuts announcement due on Monday. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are threatened as services are slashed.

    08 May 2010

    Be afraid - what next in H&F

    Tory leader of H&F council Stephen Greenhalgh has wasted no time warning local residents that the Tories plan to press ahead with redeveloping estates in the borough.

    Speaking at the conclusion of the council count on Friday, Greenhalgh said the pace of change would be quickened (no doubt helped, he hopes, by a Tory government).

    All those people in College Park & Old Oak, Wormholt & White City, Shepherds Bush Green, Askew, Hammersmith Broadway and North End who voted against the Tory plans to wreck their communities will be horrified by Greenhalgh's comments.

    The election is over; the war continues.

    Bailey slaughtered

    After his humiliating defeat in Hammersmith, what will Tory candidate Shaun Bailey do now?

    He faces more humiliation as he returns to his 'day job' as chief executive of the 'charity' MyGeneration which faces a Charity Commission inquiry into its £16k unaccounted for expenses.

    Bailey was outdone by a much better Labour candidate and campaign and he was undone by the Tory H&F council's plans to demolish affordable housing.

    H&F Tories didn't seem too unhappy about Bailey's defeat. 'These things happen' was a typical comment.

    Today's newspapers contain lots about the Tory A-listers like Bailey who failed to win despite huge backing from Cameron and Ashcroft. See the Telegraph for example: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/cristinaodone/100038562/shaun-bailey-and-joanne-cash-were-on-camerons-a-list-and-lost-should-dave-take-it-personally/

    05 May 2010

    H&F Propaganda published on election eve

    Surprise surprise - H&F News arrives through letterboxes throughout the borough the day before the council elections. When will this disgrace stop?

    PS the propaganda was compounded by the Horton and Garton estate agents' advert wrapped around H&F News, with a blue rosette on the back cover and the front suggesting a change of occupant at No.10. Fortunately H&F News is now widely loathed.

    Bailey - the last laugh

    Thanks again to The Independent for this snippet:

    Email of the day
    Manchester United fans are writing to their candidates, asking what they intend to do about the club's financial state. They will be happy to read that Tory candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, thinks "football matters". In fact, he cares so much that he replies: "Here in (name) we are lucky enough to have a great club in (name), whose fortunes I try to follow closely."

    24 HOURS to save our borough

    Be afraid. A Conservative council in H&F has been bad; a Conservative council with a Conservative government would be disastrous for Britain and for H&F.

    The best round-up of all the horrors of the last four years in Tory H&F is published in The Independent today: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/poverty-and-injustice-in-david-cameronrsquos-model-borough-1962318.html

    Pass it on and make sure H&F residents know what's at stake on 6 May.

    What manifesto pledges will go next?

    When H&F Tories reneged on their manifesto pledge in 2006 not to introduce home care charging, there was uproar amongst disabled and older people.

    The H&F Coalition against Community Care Cuts wrote recently to local political parties about their plans for social services after the 2010 elections. Despite asking three times, they got no response from the local Conservative Party.

    So what secrets have the Tories got up their sleeves? We know there are plenty of holes in their budget so expect more cuts in services for older and disabled people if the Tories retain control of H&F council.

    Charity should begin nearer to home

    Chelsea & Fulham Tory candidate Greg Hands has been busy reporting the former Prime Minister's foundation to the Charity Commission.

    But Hands has been silent about what has been going on closer to home. Hammersmith Tory candidate Shaun Bailey has still to explain why My Generation, the charity he runs, had almost £16,000 expenses unaccounted for in its last accounts.

    The Charity Commission are investigating Bailey's charity. Hands up Shaun!

    25 April 2010

    Bailey accused of 'shameful lack of respect'

    Residents of Queen Caroline estate fighting to save their homes from H&F Tory council's redevelopment plans have attacked Hammersmith Tory candidate Shaun Bailey for not supporting their plea for a vote on the issue: http://handsoffqc.blogspot.com/

    Why is Shaun Bailey opposed to giving local people the chance to vote on the future of their homes?

    22 April 2010

    New questions about Bailey's charity accounts

    Further scrutiny of the published accounts of My Generation - the charity run by Hammersmith Tory candidate Shaun Bailey (see blogs below) - has revealed new questions about how its funds have been spent.

    Not only was almost £16,000 unaccounted for in 2008-9, but the charity has spent unusually large amounts on publicity and travel and administration over the last three years. Full details at: http://politicalscrapbook.net/2010/04/shameful-accounts-of-tory-candidates-charity/

    While it's clear that Shaun Bailey has used My Generation as a PR vehicle for himself, what has still not been revealed is who has funded the charity.

    21 April 2010

    Strange timing part two

    Another press release today by Tory H&F council just two weeks before the elections: this time about extra money to expand popular primary schools.

    Making big spending announcements in the immediate lead up to the election surely contravenes council publicity laws. It's made worse by the fact that the Tory council is covering up its tracks, having failed to predict and meet the increase in demand for primary school places. No wonder local parents are cynical about Tory education policies.

    Residents treated to free tickets for polo

    Tory H&F council has just announced a special offer to borough residents of 2,012 free tickets to June's polo tournament in Hurlingham Park. It's strange that such an offer is made a couple of weeks before the council elections...but 2,012 free tickets could please plenty of people in Fulham.

    Bailey's answers raise more £16k questions

    After Shaun Bailey's 'panic' statement to The Times about the £16k unaccounted spending by the My Generation charity where he is chief executive (see blogs below), he has been more careful preparing comments to other media. But these latest responses have raised more questions.

    Bailey told Civil Society: "My Generation is a small charity that has experienced rapid growth. At that time we had a full-time staff of only two people responsible for all of the charity's projects and administration. Like many small charities and voluntary organisations, it took us some time to develop the administrative processes."

    But the accounts in question are for the third full year that the charity has operated - 2008-9. Three years should be more than long enough to sort these things out, particularly for someone who aspires to be an MP. Surely the charity's chief executive should have dealt with this 'bad administration'?

    In a statement to Third Sector, Bailey said the trustees of My Generation believed the discrepancy arose because the charity changed accountants and it appeared that the old accountants did not pass all the invoices on to the new accountants. "As soon as the paper trail is clarified, the complete 2008/9 accounts will be re-submitted so that everything is clear. The charity's accountants are waiting to see what information can be recovered and then will provide an explanation to the Charity Commission."

    The question for Bailey is: why did the independent accountants not highlight this in their comments in the 2008-9 accounts? And why did it take so long to come up with this reason?

    No doubt there will be plenty of other questions from the Charity Commission when they examine the 2008-9 accounts in detail. Such as what was the £16k spent on? And who funds My Generation?

    17 April 2010

    Is Bailey fit to be an MP?

    An extraordinary defence by Shaun Bailey of his charity's unaccounted for expenses (see blog below) in today's Times:

    Mr Bailey told The Times yesterday that the charity had been unprepared to deal with its rapidly growing budget. “We had a little panic, we have the stuff,” he said. “What you are dealing with is a kid from the estate who had a good idea to do this and never had a wider view of accountants and lawyers. We have raised this money, spent it on the kids. We just didn’t know.”

    Where has the £16k gone, Shaun?

    Growing mystery over Bailey charity expenses - £16k unaccounted for

    Just weeks before Shaun Bailey stands as the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith, big questions have been raised about the charity he has been running since 2006, according to The Times today http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7100347.ece.

    The most recently filed accounts for My Generation, where Bailey is chief executive, show that independent examiners qualified My Generation’s accounts for 2008-9 because they failed to meet charity and company accounting laws.

    In particular they highlighted the fact that £15,952 of My Generation's expenses were made without any supporting records or receipts. About 8% of the charity’s total spending was therefore unaccounted for.

    In addition almost half of My Generation’s spending in 2008-9 was on publicity and administration and was not ‘direct charitable expenditure’. Of the £116,000 charitable expenditure, over half was spent on travel and subsistence.

    My Generation was established in early 2006 shortly before Bailey was selected to stand in Hammersmith by the Conservative Party.

    The charity’s accounts for 2006-7 and 2007-8 were filed late with the Charity Commission. Now big questions have been put to the Commission about My Generation’s accounts for 2008-9.

    07 April 2010

    They seek him here...

    Where is Shaun Bailey? Not seen handing out his own leaflets in Shepherds Bush yesterday or today. And tonight he refused to take part in a cross-party debate on Palestine with other Hammersmith parliamentary candidates. What has Shaun got to hide?

    05 April 2010

    For a different take on H&F news...

    Have a look at Rupert Bear's latest productions on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=rupertbear21#g/u

    More questions for Shaun Bailey

    If you see Shaun Bailey, why don't you ask him:

    1. Where were you born?
    2. Where have you lived and where do you live now?
    3. Where did you go to school?
    4. What did you do at college?
    5. What have you done for a living?
    6. What links do you have with the Hammersmith constituency?
    7. Who is funding you?
    8. How much have you spent on your campaign?
    9. Who does your promotion?
    10. Why don’t you speak out on the Tory council's record locally?

    More questions and some answers to follow shortly.

    Bristow set to return to chicken run

    Following the news that Labour has selected an excellent local candidate for the parliamentary seat of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland to fight Tory H&F councillor Paul Bristow, all eyes are on Bristow's return to London.

    Strangely Bristow doesn't mention that he's a H&F councillor on his Middlesbrough website, let alone the facts that he lives in H&F and gets paid for doing two jobs in the borough.

    Bristow has also done the chicken run from his current ward, Fulham Reach, to stand in Ravenscourt Park on 6 May, presumably to protect his position on the council. The question remains about what he does as cabinet member for residents' services in H&F, apart from organising polo tournaments and standing in Middlesbrough.

    28 March 2010

    Election stories wanted

    Please send any info and stories about Tory sightings and activities in H&F to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

    Just over five weeks to go...

    The final word

    The main item on the agenda of the last Tory cabinet meeting in H&F before the council elections on 6 May is a shocking indictment of the last four years.

    The Local Government Ombudsman submitted to the council on 19 January 2010 a report with a finding that the complainant, a homeless pregnant woman who presented to Housing Options Division as homeless in 2008, suffered maladministration and injustice.

    That's how the official report puts it. See how it really was: http://hfconwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/true-face-of-camerons-caring.html

    Best in show?

    Tory H&F council has just received an award for being best at:

    - sacking council employees
    - cutting local services
    - closing and selling off community facilities
    - hiking fees and charges to residents
    - selling off estates to developers
    - not helping homeless people
    - breaking election manifesto promises
    - introducing charges for homecare
    - devising secret budgets
    - scaremongering

    Only the Tories would be proud of these ten 'achievements'.

    21 March 2010

    Secret Budget mark II

    Having won the 2006 council elections with a secret budget, H&F Tories are trying the same trick again.

    But council finances are much worse after four years of Tory control so they have not been able to repeat their promises to emulate Wandsworth council. There are no pledges to cut council tax beyond 2011.

    Instead local residents should be very worried about huge cuts to local services if the Tories get re-elected on 6 May. With budget 'risks' of more than £25 million, cuts are inevitable with higher fees and charges for those who need services most; another 1,000 jobs in danger; and local services and facilities closed down and sold off.

    Just one example. In the north of the borough the Wormholt Tenants and Residents Association has been told to move out of Wormholt library where it has held activities and meetings for decades - to be replaced by a fee-paying prep school. But in the recession parents locally have been taking children out of private education and putting them in local primary schools at the same time as Tory H&F council closed a primary school. The result of course is that local primary schools are now oversubscribed and parents can't get their children educated locally!

    Smart move....

    Where did Shaun Bailey get that coat from?

    The first weekend of real spring weather and Shaun Bailey is pictured on the front of the Guardian Weekend magazine, well wrapped up for a winter afternoon on Portobello Road.

    All that was lacking was the caption: "I've never voted Tory before but I do want to cut Trident." You know it makes sense.

    14 March 2010

    Another Nazi piece of work

    Strangely the day after the blog below on the Young Britons' Foundation, this piece has appeared in today's Sunday Mirror: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2010/03/14/council-boss-who-s-nazi-piece-of-work-115875-22109473/

    PS. The offending officer has now been sacked by the council. Unlike the Tory cabinet member, Lucy Ivimy, who made racist remarks reported all round the world about H&F tenants.

    13 March 2010

    H&F Tory links to controversial right wing foundation

    Tory MP Greg Hands and H&F Tory cabinet member Cllr Greg Smith have been linked to the right wing Young Britons' Foundation.

    The Foundation's leader and former H&F councillor, Donal Blaney, has called the NHS Britain's 'biggest waste of money', claimed global warming is a 'scam' and suggested that the water-boarding of prisoners can be justified.

    Greg Smith, who also coordinates Shaun Bailey's campaign in Hammersmith, co-founded the YBF which trains Conservative politicians and activists.

    Donal Blaney has repeatedly attacked David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party. Local Tory MP Greg Hands is also heavily involved with the Young Britons' Foundation and sits on the organisation's Parliamentary Council.

    12 March 2010

    H&F gridlocked

    Traffic chaos in H&F is getting worse thanks to Tory H&F council.

    Not content with closing off much of the north of the borough around Goldhawk Road, the council has now told residents that the roadworks at Seven Stars will continue for two weeks longer than previously announced. The council blames its favourite whipping boy, Thames Water, but fails to take responsibility itself.

    Add to that the continuing weekend closures of Hammersmith Bridge and never-ending hold-ups on Fulham Palace Road, there is no point trying to drive locally. So on your bike Cllr Greenhalgh.

    02 March 2010

    Questions to ask Shaun Bailey (if you see him)

    1) How much has Lord Ashcroft given your campaign?
    2) And why has Caroline Nash given you so much money?
    3) Where do you live?
    4) Why don't you write your own PR material?
    5) And what do you really think about the 'super sewer'?

    Any answers please to: hfconwatch@hotmail.co.uk

    28 February 2010

    Phibbs plays the race card

    The Tories are getting desperate nationally as their poll lead slides. And locally the Tories running the council are in a financial mess and looking for a scapegoat.

    Hard-nosed Tory Cllr Harry Phibbs has blamed immigration for the Tories having given up their ambitions to emulate Wandsworth levels of council tax. If the Tories hadn't spent the last four years cutting local services, they wouldn't be in such a pickle.

    21 February 2010

    H£F plc up for sale

    It's official – control of the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has been passed to developers.

    Last week CapCo, the owners of Earl's Court and Olympia, began a roadshow around West Ken presenting their plans to build 8,000 homes and a massive commercial centre straddling the border between H&F and Kensington & Chelsea. This is triple the density allowed for in the London plan.

    The scheme was dreamed up by H&F's Tory leader Stephen Greenhalgh as a site for an international convention centre and a way of demolishing the homes of 763 families in council and housing association homes on the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates. Branding the estates ghettoes and the people who lived there too poor, he ordered them out.

    But last week the developer rejected Cllr Greenhalgh's grand plan. They can make more money by putting 30-storey blocks of luxury flats in the middle of the site, offices along the A4 and Kensington-style mansion blocks where the estates now are.

    Tory H&F council no longer pretends they are making decisions on planning and development issues. The elected representatives have handed total control of local neighbourhoods to unaccountable multi-national businesses.

    Since Cllr Greenhalgh declared H&F 'open for business' three years ago, the following has happened:

    Not one but three massive 'Opportunity Areas' have been designated at West Ken, White City and Old Oak. 3,500 affordable homes will go and the scale of development will mean gridlock and inundation of local services. The borough will mimic Westminster as a destination for visitors and workers alike and both its distinctiveness and residential character will be destroyed.

    Medium-sized sites are earmarked for over-development: the Olympia aparthotel, the 'squashed strawberry' in Hammersmith Broadway, the Goldhawk Industrial Estate, 282 Goldhawk Road, Stowe Road Depot, Shepherds Bush Market.

    Community resources are sold off, privatised or left to rot. The latest to be marked up for sale is Palingswick House in King Street, home to 22 community groups. But it follows: 13 homeless hostels, Peterborough School, the Castle youth club, High Master’s House, the Hut Association. And will soon be joined by the old Wormholt library, and, according to leaked budget papers, Sands End and Baron's Court Libraries.

    14 February 2010

    Tory (s)care rip-off airbrushed

    From the creators of mydavidcameron come the latest versions of the Tory gravestone poster: http://mydavidcameron.com/tombstone/

    And the latest 'I've never voted Tory' poster variations start here: http://mydavidcameron.com/tory/

    Hammersmith Bridge closed for half-term!

    H&F Tories have closed Hammersmith Bridge to all traffic for half-term week (from February 13 to 22). Presumably all local Tories are away skiing, in Luxor or in the country so they won't be affected.

    The bridge will also close every weekend until March 15.

    To make matters worse, Mayor Boris Johnson's Transport for London has agreed that Tory Kensington & Chelsea council can close Albert Bridge, linking Chelsea with Battersea, on February 15 for 18 months.

    07 February 2010

    H&F Tories give up on Wandsworth ambitions as budget holes grow

    As previously reported by hfconwatch, Tory H&F council is planning cuts in services of over £13 million next year and more than £35 million in total over the next three years. (http://hfconwatch.blogspot.com/2010/01/tories-budget-gamble-reveals-cuts.html)

    The Tories' budget plans until 2013, to be discussed by their cabinet on Monday this week, show:

    - council tax cuts will stop in 2011, with no cut in the following two years (another broken promise), thwarting H&F Tories' ambitions to emulate Wandsworth

    - more than £25 million has been identifed as budget 'risks' exposing big holes in the plans over the next three years; the Tories are already raiding reserves as they gamble with the risks

    - local residents face increased charges and fees for local services on top of council tax, while the Tories continue to make huge cuts in services

    06 February 2010

    Council fails to plan for baby boom

    Less than two years after Tory H&F council closed popular Peterborough primary school (and sold the site for a private French school), the council is desperately trying to cope with a surge in demand for places in, er, primary schools.

    The much-heralded baby boom has led to local primary schools being asked to expand their intake at short notice.

    Why the Tory council couldn't forecast the increased demand for primary school places is unbelievable.

    31 January 2010

    hammersmith £ fulham airbrushed

    Blank expression? Check out Rupert Bear's latest video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSbTgnen8g

    It's back

    'Polo in the Park' is returning for three days in June (4-6 June 2010) at Hurlingham Park in Fulham.

    You can meet friends at one of the many bars in Hurlingham Park or in the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Garden:
    • Afternoon Tea Package (Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th June, 2010) Tea provided by Harrods of Knightsbridge and Champagne by Veuve Clicquot, served in the private pitch side corporate enclosure. Package includes grandstand tickets and complementary (sic) programmes. From £150.00 plus VAT pp.
    • Picnic Package (Friday 4th, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th June, 2010). Individual picnic boxes served under cover in a shared facility (tables of 10) in the grounds of Hurlingham Club. Package includes grandstand tickets and complementary (sic) programmes. Limited availability. £185.00 plus VAT pp.
    • Club Lunch Package (Friday 4th, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th, 2010) Full hospitality including Veuve Clicquot reception at The Hurlingham Club with canap├ęs, followed by 2 courses plus Harrods Afternoon Tea served in pitch side corporate enclosure in Hurlingham Park. Package includes grandstand tickets and complementary (sic) programmes. On Friday 4th drinks in the pitch side corporate enclosure are complementary (pass the sick bag) and on Saturday and Sunday only in addition to their Afternoon Tea, Harrods will be serving a Continental Breakfast in the pitch side corporate enclosure for those wanting to watch the pre lunch match. Friday £415 plus VAT pp, Saturday £265 plus VAT pp, Sunday £295 plus VAT pp.

    29 January 2010

    Speaker puts Hands in his place

    In a feeble attempt to re-write history, Greg Hands was put firmly in his place by the Speaker of the House of Commons this week. Clearly the Speaker thinks the same as Mr Betts re the Tory leader of H&F council, as recorded in the exchange below:

    Mr. Greg Hands (Hammersmith and Fulham) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have given prior notification to the Member concerned.

    In Communities and Local Government questions yesterday, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Betts) put a question with a wholly erroneous set of comments attributed to the leader of my council, Hammersmith and Fulham, including the statement that

    "one problem with social housing was that it was hard to get rid of these people".- [ Official Report, 26 January 2010; Vol. 504, c. 669.]

    That comment is entirely false. The leader of the council never said any such thing, so I should be grateful for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on how we might set the record straight for what is, after all, one of Britain's best-loved and best-run local authorities.

    Mr. Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his attempted point of order, but as he will know, on the strength of his experience in the House, it was not a point of order but a most interesting point of debate, which has now been placed fairly and squarely upon the record.

    24 January 2010

    The true face of Cameron's caring, compassionate Conservatives

    An eight months pregnant woman was forced to sleep rough in a park for four nights after fleeing domestic violence because Tory H&F council wouldn't accept her as homeless.

    H&F council has just been found guilty of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman in a damning report on how the woman was dealt with.

    This news doesn't appear on H&F council's website (and is unlikely to feature in H&F News). But it is another example of what would happen if the Conservatives won the general election.

    PS some five days after publication of the Ombudsman's verdict, H&F council has issued a press release, 'apology for housing mistake', without a quote from a Tory councillor.

    Who's responsible for licensing?

    Tory candidate for Hammersmith Shaun Bailey is calling for tougher licensing restrictions on late night cafes in Shepherds Bush. Has he forgotten that it's Tory H&F council that is responsible for licensing?

    How much more chaos at Seven Stars?

    Week three of traffic gridlock at Seven Stars is just about to start - with the prospect of chaos throughout February and beyond. And all Tory H&F council is doing is twiddling its thumbs with a few minor tweaks to signage while the north of the borough is paralysed.

    Another blow to residents around Goldhawk Road. If this had been happening near Fulham Road, perhaps it would have been resolved a bit quicker...

    18 January 2010

    Traffic chaos looming this weekend

    After traffic chaos in Shepherds Bush recently, Hammersmith faces congestion for almost three months from Saturday 23 January.

    Hammersmith Bridge will be closed in both directions every weekend until 15 March, and for ten days in mid-February.

    15 January 2010

    Airbrushed for change

    If you haven't seen through the real Cameron yet, have a look at: http://mydavidcameron.com/

    Greenhalgh 'cupboarded'

    The owner of the Cupboard cafe in Shepherds Bush, Nathalie Bristow (no relation), has launched a savage attack on Tory H&F council in today's Hammersmith Gazette.

    When asked 'if you could change one thing about the borough, what would it be', Nathalie says:

    "I would remove [council leader] Stephen Greenhalgh and his Margaret Thatcher policies. I would rather pay the extra three per cent council tax which the council has cut, as charges have been applied to other services, especially for elderly people who have to pay £12.40 for home care. I would also change the Tory council's charges for the meals on wheels policy."

    H&F libraries under threat

    A number of H&F libraries face closure after the May council elections, as the Tories' budget cuts deepen.

    Already library staff are being axed and some libraries have had to reduce opening hours because of staff shortages.

    But the Tory council is planning further cuts, with Baron's Court library and Sands End library first in the firing line for closure. In addition Askew Road library will be offering reduced services to accommodate a Royal Mail collection point.

    10 January 2010

    Return of a free press in H&F

    From Friday 15 January H&F will have a new weekly newspaper delivered to every household in the borough.

    The Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle will provide a much needed source of local news and issues, challenging the council's fortnightly propaganda newpaper, H&F News.

    Let the new Chronicle have stories about Tory H&F council by visiting www.fulhamchronicle.co.uk, calling 020 8572 1816 or emailing one of the reporters.

    09 January 2010

    The final word on the 'super sewer'?

    For Rupert Bear's latest video re Tory H&F council scaremongering, just click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f2wTbag7Wc

    What a waste!

    08 January 2010

    Another victory for Tory H&F council

    Fulham Football Club cancelled its premiership match against Portsmouth tomorrow because it deemed the area around the ground to be unsafe for fans travelling to and from the game.

    In other words, Tory H&F council had failed to grit and clear the streets and pavements around Craven Cottage - just like most of the rest of the borough.

    Well done H&F council.

    07 January 2010

    Get H&F streets and pavements gritted first, Cllr Bristow

    With Tory H&F council cancelling refuse collection and schools being closed because of 'treacherous conditions' on the borough's roads, it's a bit rich for H&F cabinet member Cllr Paul Bristow to call on other councils to 'learn the lessons of the snow'.

    Cllr Bristow - a Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Middlesbrough - has called on each of the Tees Valley councils to hold reviews into their reactions to the snow chaos once the icy spell is over.

    Cllr Bristow commented: "There has been considerable criticism throughout the Tees Valley about the lack of gritting and snow clearance by the local authorities responsible, especially on side streets and pavements. In Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland there has been, at best, minimal gritting on main roads only. Pavements are particularly treacherous with many residents unsure if they are supposed to clear the path outside their home. We have had this icy spell for weeks and it seems our local authorities are still struggling to cope. I understand that they are under acute pressure but we hear the same excuses every year. What is needed is a comprehensive review of practice by each council to learn once and for all the lessons for dealing with bad weather. They should work together and listen to the public. Each local authority has a duty of care to local residents and should look carefully into what has gone wrong.''

    Cllr Bristow clearly hasn't been on the streets of H&F recently, otherwise he would have realised that phrases about 'pots and kettles' would have come to mind. Or perhaps he thought Middlesbrough was far enough away for his hypocritical views to be expressed. In fact we keep hearing the same excuses in Tory H&F - and we are still waiting for most of our streets and pavements to be gritted.

    04 January 2010

    What Greenhalgh will tell Dave tonight

    H&F Tory leader Stephen Greenhalgh will tonight (Tuesday evening) get the chance to tell the leader of the Conservative party what he really thinks:

    "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."

    Tories' budget gamble reveals cuts

    Tory H&F council's budget for 2010-11, published today, shows how they are cutting services to pay for their pre-election tax reduction.

    £13 million new cuts in local services have been announced for the coming year, with £35 million cuts in total over the next three years to 2013. Taking the brunt of the cuts will be children's services, care for older and disabled people, and environmental services.

    But the budget also comes with huge risks - some £9 million in the coming year has been identified as potential extra costs, almost equivalent to the council's total reserves. And over the next three years, the budget risks add up to £25 million.

    The Tories' budget gamble shows how much the tax cut (worth less than 50p a week) is really costing local residents.

    Meanwhile more money has been spent by the council to line the borough's streets with propaganda banners in advance of Dave's visit tomorrow. He is expected to face a barrage of protests from traditional Tory voters concerned by H&F council giving planning permission to controversial developments in Goldhawk Road.

    03 January 2010

    New year, same old scare story

    H&F Tories never change. They have recycled their so-called super sewer scare story for the front pages of the first editions of the local Gazette and Chronicle newspapers in 2010.

    The Tory council's opposition to Thames Water's plans to stop raw sewage being pumped into the Thames puts them in conflict with many including the Tory Mayor of London, other local authorities, the government and green campaigners.

    In the coming months we will no doubt see other Tory scaremongering resurrected - watch out for Charing Cross Hospital, the district line etc etc. All to deflect attention from the fact that the Tory council has done nothing over the last four years except cut local services and open Westfield and the new library which were planned under the previous administration.

    But the Tories have been silent about Boris Johnson's huge hike in fares on London's buses and tubes. There's a really scary story...

    02 January 2010