18 December 2011

King Street monster only sleeping, not dead -- loathed Hammersmith Tory scheme may still go ahead if Boris wins next May

The more we think about it, the more concerned we are that Boris Johnson and the Hammersmith & Fulham Tories have essentially pulled a fast one on local residents and that the King Street development may be back next spring with only minor tweaks.

For now, with his eye on the mayoral elections next May, a panicking Boris has persuaded the H&F Tory councillors to withdraw their deeply unpopular plan for King Street. There is good coverage and analysis of this in the Cowan Report, the Shepherd's Bush Blog, the Evening Standard and the H&F Chronicle.

The Hammersmith Tories have egg all over their face. The seven Conservative councillors on the planning committee who argued and voted for the scheme have been giving a slapping, although it is hard to feel sympathy for people who rode roughshod over the wishes of local residents. By the way, these are the guilty men and women: hover over the pictures to see their names and wards:

Bizarrely, this happened in the same week that Stephen Greenhalgh announced he would stand down as the Tory council's leader next May.
Yet the King Street monster is only sleeping, not dead. The Tories' own statement makes that crystal clear: "Hammersmith & Fulham Council has withdrawn the stage II referral until further notice. It means that the Mayor is not required to take a decision at this time. The application is still live and therefore it may be referred back to the Mayor at a future date. This will be at the Council's discretion."
If Boris is re-elected, there is still every chance that the Tory plan will be re-presented with minor tweaks and then approved over the heads of ignored and outraged local residents.

16 December 2011

King Street development deferred but far from dead. Will Boris approve the Hammersmith Tories' monstrous scheme if he wins next May?

Hammersmith Tory council has withdrawn its appalling plans for the King Street area but only for now. It is far from clear that the battle is over for the many hundreds of residents and local and national groups who have fought to prevent the construction of luxury high-rise blocks, the demolition of homes for the blind and of an art deco cinema and the loss of a chunk of the Furnivall Gardens park.

Until today, the council had dismissed all opposition out of hand. Now, however, they have deferred the scheme. The fear has to be that this is only until after the mayoral election next May.

It is worth reading carefully the statement sent by the council to the Save our Skyline campaign today. It says, "Hammersmith & Fulham Council has withdrawn the stage II referral until further notice. It means that the Mayor is not required to take a decision at this time. The application is still live and therefore it may be referred back to the Mayor at a future date. This will be at the Council's discretion." (see Chronicle piece here).

Boris Johnson was required to take a decision today on whether to let the scheme go forward. He knows that the mayoral elections are only five months away. By withdrawing the scheme for now, the Hammersmith Tories are hoping this won't become an election issue for Boris. However, after the election, there is no guarantee that they won't bring the scheme back, slightly tweaked. If re-elected, Boris could pass it then.

It looks as if the way is already being paved for this. As today's statement also said, "Hammersmith & Fulham Council has agreed to work with the Greater London Authority on a further independent rigorous assessment on viability to determine whether there is scope to reduce the height of the buildings again."

By the way, according to the Chronicle, Boris "told council leader Stephen Greenhalgh there was no chance of the project going ahead in its current form". Greenhalgh resigned as leader last Tuesday 12 December. When did he and Boris speak?

11 December 2011

Aidan Burley fails to apologise properly, blames "other" guests at "Nazi" party

The BBC and many newspapers are  reporting an "apology" by ex-Hammersmith Tory councillor Aidan Burley MP, who, as we reported earlier, has been exposed by the Mail on Sunday as taking part in  a Nazi-themed stag party.

Under the heading "MP Aiden Burley sorry for 'Nazi' stag party guest photos", the BBC quotes Mr Burley in a statement "released through the Conservative Central Office" as saying, "There was clearly inappropriate behaviour by some of the other guests [sic] and I deeply regret that this happened. I am extremely sorry for any offence that will undoubtedly have been caused."

Sky News and others are also reporting a later tweet by Mr Burley"Deeply regret inappropriate behaviour by some guests [sic] at stag party I attended and I am extremely sorry for any offence that was caused."

What on earth does Mr Burley mean by "some of the other guests" or "some guests"?

Is he trying to imply that his own behaviour was appropriate? That it was appropriate for him to spend an evening carousing with one friend dressed as an SS officer and another who toasted "the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich"? That it was appropriate for him to stay silent in the face of chants of, according to the Mail, "Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer!", "Himmler! Himmler! Himmler!" and "Eichmann! Eichmann! Eichmann!"? As the Mail says, "Mr Burley, who was standing a few feet away, was not seen to object to [being called the member for Berlin East] or any other behaviour that evening."

Aidan Burley's silent complicity in his friends' shameful antics was wholly inappropriate and he has so far failed to apologise for it. He must do so without delay.

And what it does say about the values of Conservative Central Office that they saw nothing wrong with issuing this piece of sophistry on Mr Burley's behalf?

UPDATE: Burley has been sacked as an aide to Transport Secretary and is being investigated further by the Tory party. Let's hope this is a real investigation and not an attempt to push the scandal into the long grass.

London Tories link with BNP to prevent cyclist safety debate - was Kit Malthouse among them?

The Shepherd's Bush blog has revealed an "unholy alliance" between the Conservative members of the London Assembly and a BNP-elected member to prevent a debate on cyclist safety last week. Full story here.

Was Kit Malthouse, the Tory who represents Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea in the West Central constituency, part of this fiasco, we wonder?

He chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority so you might hope that, for him, preventing accidents would take priority over dodgy politics.

The Evening Standard notes, "It is the second time the Tories have prevented a debate being held on cycle safety, having also walked out of a proposed debate on Blackfriars bridge in June."

As the Shepherd's Bush blog notes, Hammersmith has had its share of tragic cycle deaths - see here and here.

This is the motion the Tories refused to discuss:

“This Assembly deeply regrets the deaths of cyclists on London's road network and wishes to express its condolences for the loss felt by their relatives and friends. We are concerned that some cyclist deaths and injuries could have been avoided if the road network designs for the locations where these deaths and injuries occurred had been safer. We therefore call on the Mayor and Transport for London to: 
produce a list of the ten most dangerous locations for cyclists on the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and all locations in London where a cyclist has died in the last three years; 
report on any proposals that were put forward by cycling and road safety groups as part of official consultation processes for redesigning roads at those locations; and
provide the reasons why any such proposals were rejected.”

Ex-Hammersmith Tory councillor Aidan Burley at "Nazi" stag night at French ski resort

Until May 2010, Aidan Burley was a leading Hammersmith & Fulham Tory councillor. Now he is a Tory MP. On 3 December, he attended a stag party where the groom dressed as an SS officer, friends chanted "Mein Fuhrer" and "the Third Reich" was toasted.

The Mail on Sunday has the full shocking story.  It says, "Mr Burley, 32, a senior aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening, was filmed in a mountain restaurant during a stag do, sitting next to another party goer dressed in a black SS uniform and cap....

"He raised his glass in a toast before another guest, sitting beside the MP at the restaurant in the ski resort of Val Thorens, was caught on film making a speech in which he said: ‘Let’s raise a toast to Tom for organising the stag do,  and if we’re perfectly honest, to the ideology and thought process of the Third Reich.’"

Just before the toast, Mr Burley was filmed apparently paying the bill.

The paper continues, "Later, after moving on to a British-themed pub, some of the group, many of whom adopted thick German accents, chanted: ‘Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer! Mein Fuhrer!’, ‘Himmler! Himmler! Himmler!’ and ‘Eichmann! Eichmann! Eichmann!’"

Aidan Burley was a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham - the council which Eric Pickles calls "the apple of my eye" - from 2006 until his election as MP for Cannock Chase last year.

Aidan Burley fails to apologise properly, blames "other" guests at "Nazi" party - see here.

Stag do: The MP, on right in blue jeans and jumper, looks on as his friend adjusts his Nazi cap
"Aidan Burley MP, on right in blue jeans and jumper, looks on as his friend adjusts his Nazi cap"   (Source: Mail on Sunday)

10 December 2011

Greg Smith admits Eric Pickles addressed Young Britons' Foundation but won't say if he met Bell Pottinger speaker

Following the post below and after an initial Picklesite coyness, Greg Smith has tweeted us that Eric Pickles did address YBF and that he spoke on his own. He still won't say, however, whether Pickles met the Bell Pottinger speaker.

Eric Pickles, Bell Pottinger, Greg Smith, Greg Hands, Mark Loveday and the Young Britons' Foundation

Local government supremo Eric Pickles may call Tory Hammersmith & Fulham council the apple of his eye but he has been surprisingly coy about admitting whether he will be at an ideological training camp this weekend run by, among others, H&F's own potty-mouthed Councillor Greg Smith.

The Young Britons' Foundation (YBF), styled a Tory "madrasah" (aka fundamentalist school) by right-wing commentators, is currently holding its annual Activist Training Conference. Mr Pickles is listed as speaking but for the past 11 days has been refusing to confirm his attendance to the Guardian Diary.

If he doesn't turn up, the Secretary of State will be sacrificing the opportunity to hobnob with fellow speaker Daniel Hamilton, who works for  lobbying firm Bell Pottinger, which has enjoyed such headlines this week as "Bell Pottinger: pressure on David Cameron to curb secret links with lobbyists", "Vicious dictatorship which Bell Pottinger was prepared to do business with","Wikipedia suspends accounts over Bell Pottinger claims" and "Rebekah Brooks? 'We helped choose her police station' says Bell Pottinger".

Hammersmith & Fulham Tories' role in this entertainment should not pass unrecognised. Director of campaigns at the Young Britons' Foundation is the above-mentioned Greg Smith, who is H&F's cabinet member for residents' services. On YBF's advisory board sits Cllr Mark Loveday, H&F's chief whip and cabinet member for strategy, and on its parliamentary council is Greg Hands, Tory MP for Chelsea & Fulham.

30 November 2011

Now Harry Phibbs claims residents' support for Hammersmith Tory council's £7,000 jamboree

As local outrage grows that Hammersmith council wasted £7,184 on a leaving party for its retiring chief executive (see here), Cllr Harry Phibbs, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, has told the local Chronicle that the knees-up was good for morale and "most [residents] would understand it's the right thing to do" (see here).

Cllr Phibbs was backed up by Tory leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who told the newspaper he would continue to fund such shindigs. And Tory boy Peter Graham, assistant to Fulham and Chelsea MP Greg Hands, said he didn't have a problem with the party because the council was making savings elsewhere (see here).

Labour leader Steve Cowan has made clear that such shameful waste will stop if Labour takes control of the council in 2014 (see here).

It is a disgrace that, under the shame-free Tories, it won't stop sooner.

28 November 2011

Andy Slaughter MP: "Decision time for Hammersmith's future"

  • Decision time for Hammersmith's future
  • The Masterplan takes shape
  • Residents vs. developers part 94
  • Asset disposals
  • Unhealthy finances
  • Olympia: end of the line
  • Good news!
  • Angela Dixon

Decision time for Hammersmith's future
The most controversial development in a generation comes before Hammersmith & Fulham’s planning committee on Wednesday.  At an extraordinary meeting to be held at Latymer Upper School, the committee will be asked to approve the redevelopment of the Town Hall site by the Council in partnership with Helical Bar. And there you have the problem. Thirty pages of the committee report are taken up just listing the objectors to the scheme, which include many national and local civic groups as well as thousands of individual residents.

What the scheme will add is universally decried:
  • 290 investment properties in blocks up to 15 storeys.
  • A footbridge across the A4 to give the flats ‘river access’.
  • Luxury officers for councillors and council officers.
  • Another supermarket.

What the scheme will destroy is universally applauded:
  • Hammersmith’s only local cinema.
  • The views and skyline of Hammersmith Mall and riverside.
  • Pocklington Trust’s affordable homes that house and support the visually impaired.
  • The quiet enjoyment of local homes.
  • Around a third of the open space in Furnivall Gardens.
Any sane committee member would tell the developer not to bother.  But the developer here is the planner’s boss.  The Council is the direct beneficiary of the development of its own land.  The co-developer has donated generously to the London Mayor, who has to approve the scheme.  H&F have lobbied the Mayor to exempt the scheme from the need to provide any housing for local people.
In theory the committee acts as an independent barrier to unacceptable development, but even when the Council does not have a pecuniary interest, it has a record of rubber stamping the grossest over-developments, like the Fulham Reach scheme approved two months ago.
It only takes two Conservative councillors to vote with the Labour Opposition to scupper the scheme.  We will see on Wednesday if they will.

The Masterplan takes shape
To us the Town Hall scheme is a travesty.  To the ‘open for business’ Council it is but one more step on the road to redesigning the borough, based around the five ‘opportunity’ areas.  If you have trouble keeping up with what’s happening... I think that’s the idea.  Here’s my 30 second guide to how to ruin one of London’s most popular places to live.

White City:
  • The new Westfield development (north of the current mall) will go to committee in the New Year.  It combines a new retail centre with around 1,650 flats, meaning the latter will be in blocks up to 25 storeys.  The Council asked for a quarter of these to be for families decanted from the White City and surrounding estates, which it also wants to redevelop, but Westfield told me they want no more than 6% of the properties to be for affordable rent
  • Imperial are expected to submit plans for phase two of their development on the former BBC Woodlands site north of the A40 flyover.  Residents already feel they have been conned by phase one, with forbidding 10 storey blocks opposite their two and three storey homes.  Worse is to come:  a 34 floor tower block, a major hotel and other commercial development, all dressed up as an academic campus.
  • Helical Bar (again) are to announce their plans for the missing piece of the White City Opportunity Area, between Westfield and Imperial, on Tuesday at White City Community Centre at 7pm. I’m guessing high-rise luxury investment properties (LIPs), but would love to be proved wrong.
  • Shepherds Bush Market could be at committee as early as December.  That’s if the Council breaks its word to the shopkeepers in Goldhawk Road and the Market Traders, that it would not grant consent for the current high-rise scheme until they were happy with it.  As all the shops will be demolished and the Traders have received none of the assurances about access, future rent or improvements, they are far from being so.

West Ken:
  • The Masterplan for 7,500 flats (mainly LIPs, up to 30 storeys, but I’m sure you guessed that) is subject to a revised application, but the developer (the Council is again co-developer and like Shepherds Bush Market this scheme is being challenged by judicial review) wants it rubber stamped by April.  Explanation: the Mayoral candidates for Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens have all visited the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates that would be demolished to make way for the LIPs and looked unimpressed with the plans. 

Hammersmith Riverside:
  • After the Town Hall and the Hammersmith Embankment schemes comes the missing bit in the middle – a proposal by Arab Investments to demolish Riverside Studios and Queen’s Wharf and build...well in the plans I saw a couple of months ago it was mere 200 LIPs in a nine storey soviet era block of concrete.  Now, that’s just what you need as a background to Hammersmith Bridge.

Old Oak:
  • This actually is an opportunity area.  A genuinely brown field stretch of land that – provided the HS2/Crossrail interchange comes here – could accommodate substantial development.  But then I saw this video the Council has produced. I have shown it to some Old Oak residents, who love their homes on the edge of the Scrubs - built as ‘homes for heroes’ a century ago.  The video portrays them as slums, just as it did with West Ken and White City, and suggests they are gearing up once again to push the existing residents out.

Fulham Riverside:
  • Not my patch but of interest because of the new route for the Thames Tunnel.  As I explained in my last Chronicle column, the Council have shot themselves and Fulham residents in the foot by ending up with the main Tunnel entrance in Carnwath Road.  But their protests about lost jobs and lorry movements from the site ring hollow when their own plans are to demolish the businesses there and build a few hundred more LIPs – which of course will cause more disruption than the Tunnel.

Each of these schemes is an overdevelopment of already densely populated, poorly-accessed inner urban areas.  In combination they are a recipe for chaos both at the development phase (which could last for 20 years) and when occupied.  There is no one at present to put a brake on these schemes or insist that development serves the needs of existing residents rather than foreign or City investors, which is why we need a change of Mayor in May and of Council in 2014.     

Residents vs. developers part 94
  • Nomis Studios.  The plan to squeeze 55 flats into a space big enough for five terraced houses in Sinclair Road is meeting growing opposition, and there is a public meeting this Thursday 1stDecember at 7pm at St Matthews church hall.  This is typical of the medium-sized developments that are getting permission all over the borough.  K&C would not allow something on this scale with the extra traffic and excessive height in a conservation area – why should H&F?
  • Wormholt Library.  The old library has been used as a base for local residents on the Wormholt estate for 20 years.  First they were booted out, and then they were told it would be a school, which meant building on the open space directly in front of their homes.  Then they were told their road would be closed to give the school (which faces directly onto the Westway) more land.  At the planning committee the mainly elderly residents were ignored, now they are asking for a public enquiry to keep the road open.
  • White City Health Centre.  Should have opened in 2008.  This week we are told it may get the go ahead in January and be ready in 2014.  It will be a shadow of what was planned under Labour – no affordable homes, fewer benefits for local residents, fewer services and a poorer design - but still worth having. 

Asset disposals
The last round of public buildings to be put up for sale  - including the Irish Centre, Shepherds Bush Village Hall and Palingswick House - remain in public hands, if only just in some cases. But that does not mean the fire sale has stopped.

  • College Park Community Centre – the only centre in the far north of the borough – is to be sold in the New Year, even though it is busy every day.  Users were given less than two months to get out – after a century of community use.  A protest photo shoot is being held at 10am next Saturday 3 December.
  • Baron’s Court Library is not being sold – apparently because the Council does not have the right to do so.  But it won’t be a library either, or a Sure Start Centre or any of the other uses we were promised.  It will house the CAB, who are being forced off the West Ken development site, and whose volunteers will supervise a self-service book collection.
  • A ‘reorganisation’ of mental health services is a thinly veiled attempt to move several services into a single building in Ellerslie Road to free up other sites for sale.  This has clinical implications for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, but the duty to sell trumps the duty of care every time here.
  • Hammersmith Community Trust look set to lose their community centre in Beadon Road when the NCP Car Park development goes ahead.  Their volunteers also staff the Information Centre in the Broadway Centre, but that is closing too.
  • The former Fulham Cross and Avonmore Youth Clubs are up for sale.  So is Distillery Lane, the former after school centre.  But parks themselves are also at risk.  Around a third of the area of Hammersmith Park will be leased to a commercial company for the next 35 years.
  • But the biggest sell off is of council homes.  One of the 300 homes – that could be let to some of the 10,000 people waiting for affordable accommodation in the borough – was featured on Under the Hammer recently.  It sold for £221,000.  This, said the Council, was a good result as it has only asked for £185,000.  But the programme showed what happened next:  an investment buyer spent £6,000 redecorating and put it back on the market – at £310,000.  You can read my article about it here.

Unhealthy finances
Two months after Imperial College told me they would not close Charing Cross in their bid to save £130 million, I am still waiting for details of the first £45 million they say they have identified.  But Imperial – or rather its new Chief Executive – have been in the news for other financial reasons.  £2,000 a day is apparently the going rate for a health service fixer in these austere times. This came in the same month that H&F retired their Chief Executive from a salary of over £280,000 a year to a pension of over £100,000 a year.  They still employ the former Chief Exec of Bexley Council (from where he retired on an immediate pension of £50,000 a year due to permanent ill health) on £750 a day to arrange their more, er, sensitive development opportunities.  He is still the partner of the Chief Exec of Notting Hill Housing, who makes do with only £200,000 a year. Am I alone in finding the earnings of our local public sector fat cats obscene – especially at a time when thousands of low paid workers are losing their jobs, having their pay frozen and their pensions cut massively?

Olympia: end of the line
London Underground has a new head of strategy, so Brendan McGrath of MyOlympia and I went to see him to argue for a reprieve for the station that is closing to weekday tube passengers next month. But the new head’s strategy is the same as the old one – let’s close the station.  It seems the tube is easier to run without so many trains.  No concession, not even a less regular service or one outside peak hours.  No alternative provision like shuttle buses from Earl’s Court.  And not even a promise to re-open when the new trains and signalling come into operation (and supposedly solve the problems of congestion which justify the closure) in five years time. My suspicious mind still thinks we are the casualties of a sop to Tory MPs in south Fulham, Putney and Wimbledon.

Good news!
Don’t blame me if it’s all bad news so far.  Blame the people who are causing it – and don’t forget to vote them out, starting with Boris, who supports closing Olympia, ruining H&F, cutting police numbers and has put up bus fares by more than 50%.
In fact, most of what I do every day brings me into contact with good people, doing brilliant things for their community.  Here are a few examples from the last few weeks:
  • Food Cycle at Hammersmith & West London College.  They take surplus food from supermarkets and cook meals for homeless and destitute people.
  • Phoenix Canberra Presentation Evening.  A celebration of the outstanding achievement of pupils at Phoenix High School, and Canberra Primary School.
  • Rotary.  Meeting a delegation of inspirational young professionals from Argentina.
  • Remembrance.  A moving service at the Shepherds Bush War Memorial in brilliant autumn sunshine.
  • Macmillan Cancer Care’s world’s biggest coffee morning.  A massive fundraiser hosted by Barclay’s in King Street – who also talked me through their initiatives for lending to small business.
  • World Teachers’ Day.  Organised by the NUT locally to celebrate the role teachers play in the success of all our lives.
  • Shakespeare Schools Festival.  Excellent performances from local schools at Riverside Studios, including Canberra and Sacred Heart.  I remember appearing there as a sixth former in 1977!
  • Memorial services for two much-loved members of the local community, Jimmy Barzey at Askew Road Church and Clive MacSayton at St Michael and St George, White City.
  • Opening the new St. Paul’s community centre – a wonderful building completing almost £10 million of improvements to Hammersmith’s parish church.
  • Guest speaker at the Askew Business Network, which is doing so much to improve the area where I live.
  • Vision Care for Homeless people.  Opening of the new optician’s service at Broadway’s hostel in Shepherds Bush.
  • Awards for Broadway and first prize for the Upper Room at the Andy Ludlow Homelessness Awards, presented by the Speaker.
  • Visiting Lamenier to talk to Year 6 for Parliament week.
  • Hosting meetings in Parliament on conflict resolution for Kurdish and Basque groups.
  • Speaking at Albanian National Day celebrations at Hammersmith Town Hall.
  • The Christmas season beginning on Sunday with the Advent service at my local church St Saviour’s.
  • The wonderful care I received at Charing Cross when I clumsily broke my leg.  And the many messages of sympathy and support I received.  I hope to be pretty much back to normal activity rates in about a week.

Angela Dixon
There are a few people whose contribution to local life defies commendation.  Angela stood down as Chairman of Hammersmith & Fulham Historic Buildings Group last month after 24 years.  She has been tireless and fearless in championing the borough and its heritage.  In Marie-Lou Jennings she has found a fitting replacement, but – particularly in the current climate – I am sure that we have not heard the last...


27 November 2011

Why is the Tories' Peter Graham avoiding a straight answer about £7,000 Hammersmith council knees-up?

Although only elected last year, Tory councillor Peter Graham is increasingly seen as no more than an apologist for whatever the Conservative administration does.

Not only did he go against his constituents' wishes and argue and vote in favour of the atrocious scheme by property developers St George's to throw up a nine-story, riverside tower block of flats in Fulham Reach, where he is a councillor.

Now he is is refusing to condemn the council's appalling decision to spend over £7,000 on an extravagant goodbye party for its former chief executive Geoff Alltimes (see here).

Cllr Graham has spent most of this Sunday trying to avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question posed on Twitter by the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle: "Do you support the use of 7ks worth of public money for CEOs leaving do, yes or no?"

First Cllr Graham spun one way, wrongly claiming "about half the current Labour group were at the event". We gather that only four out of Labour's fifteen councillors were and they had no idea it was costing so much, nor that the council was footing the bill. (Mr Alltimes is getting a final £270,000 tax-free lump sum and a £104,000 pension: paying for the party himself would hardly have bankrupted him.)

Then Cllr Graham spun another way, bizarrely arguing that "the move to a shared CEO is saving money". This makes us wonder on what other inappropriate things the Tories will be spending any savings from the merger with K&C.

Here is a flavour of the Chronicle's persistent but ultimately fruitless questioning of Cllr Graham via Twitter (see here for more):

  • "you haven't answered MY question...It's a yes or no answer, Peter!"
  • "would you please answer my question? And if not, why not?
  • "people will think spending that amount of money makes a mockery of the council's socalled savings drive wont they?"
  • "do u not agree that spending such an amount on a party when the council is ramming home its debt crisis is crass?"
  • "You can't spin the figure. The amount is 7k. I'm asking you whether you think that's acceptable in this climate."

26 November 2011

Andy Slaughter reveals the real impact of the Sure Start cuts in Hammersmith

Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, says:

"Revelations that Hammersmith and Fulham Council were cutting the borough’s Sure Start budget by 45% – the second deepest cuts in the country when compared with other boroughs – were met with boastful claims from the Tory administration that, despite this, they were not only able to prevent any centres from closing but were also able to open a new one.

"However, analysis of the funding arrangements for the sixteen centres in the borough has revealed that ten of the centres will receive less than £25,000 per year as of April 2012. Under the current funding arrangements, the Wendell Park Family Centre received £62,500 in the first quarter of this financial year – the equivalent of £250,000 for the year. The funding earmarked for the 2012-2013 financial year is just 10% of that figure at £25,000.

"There is a similar story at Shepherd’s Bush Families Project and Children’s Centre. Whereas the current funding arrangement allocated £62,500 in the first quarter of this financial year, just £5,000 per quarter is allocated thereafter. The substantial cuts to funding will mean that nine out of the fifteen centres currently open will no longer be able to operate as Sure Start centres as the services they are offering do not fulfil the legal criteria.

"What these figures show is that the Council is quite happy to leave Sure Start centres hanging by a thread as long as they don’t have to face up to the consequences of slashing funding.

"Hammersmith and Fulham Tories need to answer two questions: why are their cuts to Sure Start among the biggest in the country? Furthermore, why are they pretending that centres aren’t closing when their own figures show that nine out of fifteen will cease to operate as Sure Start centres and will only be used for outside events?"

Next Wednesday is last chance to stop Tories' brutal Hammersmith Town Hall scheme

Next Wednesday, Hammersmith Tory councillors intend to nod through their brutal plans to build themselves new council offices and let property developers throw up 290 luxury flats.

In the teeth of opposition from local residents, the Tories intend to ram through the construction of four huge tower blocks that will mean the demolition of a home for the blind, an art deco cinema and part of Furnivall Gardens, the undermining of local shops and, of course, the destruction of much-loved view of Hammersmith from the river. There will also be no social housing in the scheme.

Please come to the meeting to show your opposition. While the audience will not be able to speak at the meeting, having a packed hall will leave the the council, the Greater London Authority and the Secretary of State in no doubt about the strength of local feeling.

Hammersmith council's Planning Application Committee is meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 30 November 2011 at Latymer Upper School, 237 King St, London W6 9LR. The meeting will be held in the main hall, located just behind the entrance gates on King Street. This is a last chance to show the council the real strength of feeling in the community. 

Why not write to the councillors on the Planning Committee to urge them to listen to local people and do the same? They are:
  • Alex Chalk (chair of the committee), Addison ward, alex.chalk@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler (vice-chair of the committee), Fulham Broadway ward, victoria.brocklebank-fowler@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Oliver Craig, Town ward, oliver.craig@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Rachel Ford, Fulham Broadway ward, rachel.ford@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Peter Graham, Fulham Reach ward, p.graham@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Andrew Johnson, Fulham Reach ward, andrew.johnson@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Alex Karmel, Munster ward, alex.karmel@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Colin Aherne, Wormholt and White City ward, colin.aherne@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Michael Cartwright, Hammersmith Broadway, michael.cartwright@lbhf.gov.uk
  • Wesley Harcourt, College Park and Old Oak, wesley.harcourt@lbhf.gov.uk

And please show your opposition by printing out and displaying one of these excellent posters produced by Save our Skyline, which is leading the fight to stop the proposals going through.

Download Save Our Skyline Poster - Sold Down The River - Pink
                               Download Save Our Skyline Poster - Sold Down The River - Green
    Download Save Our Skyline Poster - Sold Down The River - BlueDownload Save Our Skyline Poster - Sold Down The River - White

25 November 2011

Outrage as Hammersmith Tories splurge £7,000 on fat-cat party

When Hammersmith Tory councillors aren't puffing their efficiency, they are praising their own transparency. So how can the Tories justify having spent £7,184 on a slap-up retirement party for the council's departing Chief Executive Geoff Alltimes? And why was it left to Labour to ferret this out?

Geoff Alltimes was already one of the highest-paid council Chief Executives in the country, earning nearly £300,000 a year. He got a £20,000 pay rise in 2009, has a £104,000 pension and is leaving with a tax-free lump sum of £270,000. See here and here for the full story.

We suppose that £7,000 seems like small change to Geoff and his Tory bosses. But not to the Hammersmith and Fulham businesses who are cancelling Christmas parties to save money. Or to the local voters who are facing daily cuts to their services. 

Do we detect a pattern of inefficiency and cover-up here? This the same council that scandalously wasted up to £12 million on sub-standard consultancy contracts and then fought tooth and nail to stop Labour exposing it (see here).

08 November 2011

5% cut in rail, tube, tram, DLR and bus fares with Ken Livingstone's 'Fare Deal'

Ken Livingstone has today issued this message to Londoners.

Fare Deal

Fares are too high in London, and it makes life even harder. That's what people have told me time and time again.

The problem is they are planned to rise every year for years to come.

Today I’m launching my ‘Fare Deal’ for commuters. This January fares are going to rise. But if elected in May I will cut rail, tube, tram, DLR and bus fares by 5% with an emergency fares cut. I will then hold them lower than planned. I will save the average transport user £800 over 4 years. That is my guarantee.

I want you to be involved. I’m not going to sit around and let a Conservative mayor raise transport fares to their highest levels in history whilst slashing the police officers in our communities that are keeping people safe.

If you agree with what we’re saying, join our campaign for a Fare Deal. 


Ken Livingstone
Labour Candidate for Mayor of London

01 November 2011

Knife crime against young people in Hammersmith is up yet the Tories are cutting the youth offending team's budget

The government has today launched a so-called anti-gangs strategy at the same time that anti-gangs funding is being cut across London.

In Hammersmith & Fulham alone, the Tories have cut the Youth Offending Service's budget by 26%, even though knife crimes against young people soared by 17% last year.

The council's own website states "The main purpose of the service is to reduce offending by children and young people". How will cutting its budget by more than a quarter help achieve this?

Boris Johnson said when he was elected that he would never accept "defeat" in the fight against knife crime but it has risen every year of his term in office.

Meanwhile, Tory H&F council - which promised to reduce crime by 60-80% in three years - is also cutting neighbourhood police sergeants and slashing the police budget by more than £600,000 this year and nearly £2 million over three years.

As always, look at what the Tories do, not what they say.

The London borough-by-borough figures - dug out by Ken Livingstone's team - for Youth Offending Team budget cuts are here and for numbers of knife crime victims aged 13 to 24 are here.

15 October 2011

Is potty-mouthed Hammersmith Cllr Greg Smith a coprolalia sufferer?

We've already noted Tory councillor Greg Smith's inability to control his potty mouth (here and here). Now a sharp-eyed twitterer has drawn our attention to a further example of Cllr Smith's uncontrolled self-expression.

We wonder whether Cllr Smith might be a coprolalia suffer, in which case he has our sympathy. If not, surely the day is coming closer when someone will register a complaint about him bringing Hammersmith & Fulham council into disrepute?

14 October 2011

Meet Liam Fox for cash, say Hammersmith Tories

We confess that the first part of this title isn't ours but that of sharp, right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes, who has been passed an invitation to a Hammersmith Conservative Association dinner with Liam Fox on 29 November for only £65. "I am sure he will be a lively and fascinating speaker" says the invitation.

As Guido says, "It  will no longer cost you a £10,000 retainer with a lobbying firm for some face-time with Liam... Cheques made payable to Mr. A. Werritty?" Full details here.

At times like this, disgraced ex-ministers need their friends around them. And given what a sterling apologist for Liam Fox our own Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham Greg Hands has been (see here), the dinner must surely go ahead.

10 October 2011

Greg Hands throws up smokescreen to defend Liam Fox

Greg Hands, Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham, has been touring the TV studios this morning defending his old friend Liam Fox. He made this surprising claim: "Nothing illegal has happened. Dr Fox has made no commercial gain from this. There have been no breaches of national security".

But how can Mr Hands say so categorically that nothing illegal happened or that national security wasn't breached? Has he gained some sort of mystical insight into what the Ministry of Defence's report, due later today, will say? Or is he just indulging in the same sort of speculation (albeit in Fox's interest) that he criticises in others?

And by claiming that Dr Fox made no commercial gain, Hands is using the old politician's Aunt Sally of denying something that no-one has suggested. The allegation is that Fox's laxness (for want of a better word) enabled his close friend Adam Werritty to make commercial gain from their relationship. On that, mystic Hands is silent.

06 October 2011

Tories cut police as gun crime, burglary and motor vehicle crime rise in Hammersmith & Fulham

Gun crimes, burglaries and motor vehicle crimes in Hammersmith & Fulham have all risen sharply since last year, far outstripping London as a whole. The latest figures from the Met reveal that in August compared with the same month in 2010:

  • Crimes in which guns were used rose by 200% in H&F, while in London as a whole they actually fell by 4%.
  • Burglaries in H&F went up by 28% against an also worrying London-wide increase of 14%.
  • Thefts of and from motor vehicles in H&F increased by 41%, but by only 0.085% across London.

 Source: Metropolitan Police

Meanwhile, Tory H&F council is cutting neighbourhood police sergeants and slashing the police budget by more than £600,000 this year and nearly £2 million over three years.

A toxic combination of local Tory ideologues and Boris Johnson in County Hall is making our community less safe.

25 September 2011

Tories railroad through Hammersmith Embankment scheme, try to stop discussion, don't explain £13m "Section 106" payment

Exceptionally shameful goings-on from H&F Tory councillors on Friday as they railroaded through property speculator St. George's massive Hammersmith Embankment scheme. See Labour opposition leader Steve Cowan's blog here for details.

A few points to note:

  • The fearful Tories tried to block Steve from speaking (but he spoke anyway).

  • There are suggestions that the council unlawfully sold the planning approval for a £13 million Section 106 agreement. 

  • Tory councillors and the council officers are not providing information about the many meetings that they have had with St. George.

What a nonsense this makes of the Tories' claim to be "Britain's most transparent council". As Private Eye - which regularly features H&F council in its Rotten Boroughs section (and celebrates its 50th birthday this month: hip, hip, hurray!) - might say, "Pass the sick bag, Alice".

Andy Slaughter's news: sewer politics and riverfront shenanigans

  • Sewer Politics
  • Riverfront ReRun
  • Palestine
  • Access to Justice
  • Phoenix Opens Sixth Form
  • Weekly Roundup

Sewer politics
I spent last Friday afternoon in a sewer under Chancellor’s Road.  Well, why not?  Thames Water wanted London politicians and journalists to see for themselves what happens when it rains heavily in Hammersmith, as it does about 50 times a year.  The answer is the pumps at Hammersmith Pumping Station turn themselves on and pump 24 tonnes of sewage per second into the Thames.  If they didn’t it would all end up in our homes and streets (some already does in Shepherds Bush after particularly heavy storms).
Altogether 39 million tonnes of the brown stuff ends up in the river every year.  Hammersmith & Fulham Council think this is OK. Thames Water want to build the Thames Tunnel to capture it so it can be treated before entering the river.

You can read Standard journalist Andrew Neather’s account of our descent.  You can also read one resident’s experience of living with the stink and what she thinks of the Council leader’s do nothing policy.  Last week I took part in a debate on the issue in the Commons
The Council meanwhile has set up a patsy commission to rubbish the scheme and is promoting an alternative view by a retired Thames water official.  Bizarrely, this would still see the Tunnel built through Hammersmith but would rely on existing sewers to take the effluent through central London.  So we would still have the building works but once complete – because the existing system is at capacity – when the Tunnel filled up the sewage would have nowhere to go.  According to Thames it would sit there for days or weeks with the smell wafting across the borough as the faecal matter decomposed.   A fitting leitmotif for our burghers you may think.

Riverfront re-run tonight

Soon after this eNews hits your inbox, another attempt will be made, tonight, to approve the appalling St George scheme for Hammersmith Embankment when the Planning Committee meets unprecedentedly on a Friday evening.  Last week 150 residents who had come to object to the scheme, that would see 750 luxury high-rise flats built between Distillery Road and the river, waited an hour and a half before the meeting was abandoned for lack of a PA system.  A curious omission in a hall that the Council regularly uses for its own propaganda rallies.

Save Our Riverfront  would be pleased to see you at the Town Hall from 6.30pm to oppose the first of several disastrous schemes the Council has promised developers to pass before the London Mayor elections next May.

Other carbuncle news
Save Our Skyline are gearing up for another major public meeting next Tuesday 27 September at Rivercourt Methodist Church to oppose the ruination of Furnivall Gardens, King Street and surrounding conservation areas.

Consultation closes on Friday 30th September on CapCo’s plans for 7,500 slums-of-the-future in West Ken.

Residents of Sinclair and Hofland Road have put together a good case to oppose the Nomis studio scheme that will put five storeys of flats in a conservation area of two-storey early Victorian cottages.

Wormholt residents met me earlier this week to express opposition to the Free School that will be built on green space overlooking their homes.  Hemlock Road will be permanently closed to provide a play area directly onto the Westway, one of Britain’s most polluted roads.  Phoenix High School kindly gave us somewhere to meet as the residents, mainly pensioners, have already been booted out of their community hall which has been given to the school.

It is now so well known in developer circles that anything goes in Hammersmith & Fulham that both the number and scale of applications grows exponentially.  Planning officers, under instructions from their political masters, are prepared to ignore their own policies drawn up in consultation with residents over many years. 38 Degrees, who organised the Save the Forests campaign have just launched a Save our Countryside campaign .  We need to persuade them to save our cities too.


This week pressure for Palestine to be recognised as a state by the UN, 65 years after they – and Israel – promised just that, gained momentum.  Anyone not persuaded that this is both fair and the best way to get peace talks started again should read Jonathan Freedland’s Guardian article . A hundred MPs of all Parties signed a motion of support last week and I raised the issue with the Foreign Office Minister  This week Douglas Alexander, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, made Labour’s support clear.  On Wednesday, I went to Downing Street with representative of many organisations to hand in a letter to Cameron asking the British Government to give its support  No reply as yet.

Access to justice

The media finally seem to have discovered there is some merit in the warnings my colleagues and I have been giving for the past year about the Government’s plans to axe Legal Aid and ‘no win-no fee’ litigation.

The Independent warned of the risk of miscarriages of justice if free legal advice on arrest is taken away, and reported how a charity for victims of medical negligence was suing the Government because severely injured children and adults would no longer be able to claim the support they need. The Guardian reported that the Minister in charge of the legislation, which will benefit insurance companies by restricting claims, has himself substantial investments in the insurance industry.

Then today they published a letter from the Dowler family to David Cameron explaining that they only got justice after The News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s  ‘phone  by being able to bring a case without risking bankruptcy, which might have meant the whole hacking scandal staying buried.

I spoke to a packed fringe meeting at TUC conference with Mark Lewis, the Dowlers’ solicitor last week.  Amnesty International, trades unions, accident victims, even HMRC (who need the current rules to sue dodgy directors of insolvent companies) are united against this Bill.  Only the Tories and Lib Dems and their friends in big corporations and insurance companies are supporting it.

Who funds Phoenix?

I was asked to speak at the opening of Phoenix High School's amazing new Sixth form building.  I think this was to mark my mad dash round Labour Party conference two years ago to help secure the £10 million needed for the project.   The Labour Government did come up with the money – one of the last six schemes approved.  At that stage Phoenix was also to benefit from £20 million from the national Building Schools for the Future project to rebuild the main school.  When the Tories came in they cancelled this and every other BSF project in the borough, but the sixth form was already underway.

What did our Council think of all this? In 2009 they said ‘the council is looking to spend £9m on developing a brand-new four-storey sixth form centre’ at Phoenix.  This was untrue.  They also claimed credit for the BSF programme and £70 million of spending on primary schools.

But when their Government cut all uncommitted capital funds to schools they quoted Michael Gove approvingly  saying ‘the BSF plans did not represent value for money’.  Phoenix head Sir William Atkinson had a different take on it: It is devastating news’ he told the Standard , adding his pupils would now have to learn in ‘antiquated, inadequate buildings...with concrete that is beginning to crumble, iron pipe-work which has been fractured, with lots of leaks and flat roofs which are constantly leaking’.

Have the Tories learned their lessons?  Of course not.  Three schools have opened in Hammersmith in the past two weeks.  The Hammersmith Academy, a newly built £25 million secondary school funded by the Labour Government and the two Free Schools.  What they all have in common is ‘freedom’ from council control, something the Tories keenly support.  Only one of the schools has had an official opening: ARK Conway’s is next month and the Academy’s next year.  So the council staged openings at these schools in a further pathetic attempt to get publicity for its needy leader.

And in other news

The Government is planning a u-turn on its promise not to raise Air Passenger Duty, which could mean a 25% increase in this tax which particularly hits those travelling to the Caribbean.  British Airways are already considering ending flights to some islands as a result.

I hosted a reception in Parliament for Broadway, the single homeless charity whose board I sat on for 20 years.  They were launching ‘voices of experience’ about how 61 street drinkers have changed their lives mainly through their own efforts.  All Broadway’s Shepherds Bush hostels and flats are being demolished as part of the Council’s Shepherds Bush Market scheme (200 luxury flats up to eight storeys, since you ask), but I’m pleased to say they have found alternative accommodation in the borough.      

The Mayor has raised tube and bus fares above inflation once again LINK

I dropped in for an interview at Hammersmith’s local radio station OnFM, based in Lyric Square.  You can find it at 101.4 or online onfmradio.com.

To contact Andy, e-mail him at andy@andyslaughter.com or call his office on 020 7610 1950

23 September 2011

How you can oppose the destructive and wasteful Hammersmith Town Hall development

The Cathnor Park Area Action Group has written as below  to its members, urging action against Hammersmith council's destructive and wasteful plans - which it calls "degeneration not regeneration" - to redevelop the Town Hall:
"Many of you know that this group - Cathnor Park Area Action Group - has joined forces with 30 local residents' associations and national conservation organisations to object to the original plans.
"Minute changes to the plans (see attached flyer) have been made [see here and below].

"There are two things you can do to assist with the overwhelming opposition to the scheme.
"1. Attend the public meeting about the revised Town Hall scheme - Tuesday, 27 September, 7.00pm at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King St. Come and see exactly what is proposed
"2. Write to the Council by September 30 2011: if you've written before, then write again (referring to a previous letter, if you wish) and itemising the reasons why you are still against the revised scheme. Details and arguments are summarised in the leaflet attached.
"If you haven't written before, please do so now.
"Best wishes, Annabel Clarke, Chairman, Cathnor Park Area Action Group"

13 September 2011

News from Andy Slaughter MP

  • Save our Riverfront
  • Hospital pass
  • 'Green' light for developers
  • Unaffordable Housing
  • Petitions for Police and Puffins
  • Out and about
  • A substantial Bill
  • Boundary Review

Save our Riverfront
If you care about the future of our borough, join the www.saveourriverfront.co.uk residents at 7pm this Wednesday 14 September at Hammersmith Town Hall to oppose the first of the major schemes to build high-rise luxury flats along the length of Hammersmith’s riverside.

Hospital pass

So is Charing Cross really under threat of closure?  Or is St Mary’s? Or both? Or neither?  The Independent seemed sure of their facts a week ago.  But Imperial’s denial was equally firm.  I spoke to the Independent journalist who assured me he had the story from three separate sources.  Later in the week, with Karen Buck, MP for North Westminster, I met the Chairman and Chief Executive of Imperial to hear their version.

We have been here before.  In the 1990s there was a proposal to close Charing Cross floated by the then Tory government.  The overwhelming public campaign to save it succeeded, but somehow the sense of apprehension never evaporated.  So despite Labour reviving the NHS, including new services at all hospitals, a false rumour that Charing Cross was again under threat started in 2005 and was cynically exploited and maintained by local Tories, notably their Parliamentary candidates, Hands and Bailey.  At least it meant I went back every year to the health minister to get a fresh guarantee that CXH was safe.

So, perhaps the most surprising aspect of last week’s story was that St Mary’s, Paddington, had leapfrogged CXH as the leading candidate for closure, because of its higher land values.  Personally, I still believe CXH is more vulnerable than St Mary’s or Hammersmith Hospitals because it has fewer and less influential friends at the top of the medical profession.  And because we all know which council is keener on giving planning permission for luxury housing developments.

For the present I accept the assurances from Imperial, hedged as they are with ‘no plans’ and ‘no decision’ and the usual get out clauses.  In any event, what they did tell me is at least as depressing as the news that a whole site might be disposed of.  The Trust, which has an annual spend of about £800 million has to make 5% cuts for the next five years.  In other words a quarter of its spend or £200 million.  And that at a time of rising health needs.  No health service has ever achieved anything like this.

Some of this may be achieved by better productivity, by pushing more services out into the community or centralising specialisms at one of the three hospitals.  These steps are themselves controversial but they will go nowhere near achieving the savings required.  That will need a general reduction in service levels, major restructuring and, of course, the closure of some facilities.

So CXH may not close or the entire site be sold but that could be an academic distinction if what we are left with is a glorified clinic on the edge of a new ‘development’ by St George.

Imperial are fighting back.  They have an unrivalled record of attracting private and public research funding and of providing the highest quality treatment.  But that will not compensate for a 25% loss of public funding.  Add the Government’s health reforms, a mixture of private profit and chaotic reorganisation, and the future looks bleak.

Amongst many deceptions that eased the Coalition into power, Cameron’s promise not to cut the NHS looks like the biggest whopper of all.

'Green' light for developers

Over 150 residents packed the Save Our Riverfront meeting last Tuesday to object to the cosy deal St George and the council have done to pack blocks of flats onto Hammersmith Embankment like sardines.  In return the council gets £10 million, but none of this will mitigate the effect of 2,000 new residents, their cars, the loss of planned open space or jobs. We hope a larger number will pack the Town Hall on Wednesday when the application comes before the planning committee.

Meanwhile Save Our Skyline has called a public meeting for 27 September, 7pm at Rivercourt Methodist Church to rally opposition to the revised planning application currently under consultation.  Responses must be in by 30th September, the same date as the West Ken scheme (see www.saveourskyline.co.uk for more details).

Are these groups NIMBYS - or selfish nihilists in the Government’s latest damning dismissal.  Quite the opposite.  They are not just doing a fantastic job in protecting historic and functioning parts of the borough from catastrophic overdevelopment, they are advocating sustainable alternatives. In doing so they have taken on the role the government and the council has abdicated.

Jokingly we call this the Big Society, but things got beyond a joke this week when the Telegraph revealed that some of the biggest developers are also the Tories’ biggest donor.  And chief among them is Helical Bar, joint developer of both the Town Hall site and White City.

Unaffordable Housing

Following Notting Hill's infamous landlord Peter Rachman's violent evictions and extortions in the 1960s, there were major changes in housing law, including the growth of the housing association movement. Notting Hill Housing Trust was one immediate result, but 50 years on this once exemplary organisation has completely lost its way.  Nothing could illustrate this more than the plans, approved of course by the council this week, to build 41 new houses and flats in King Street without a single affordable home.  Four of the properties are five-bedroomed houses facing St Peter’s Square, which will sell for at least £2 million each. But still not one of the homes on the site will benefit their own tenants or people in housing need.

Petitions for Police and Puffins

The announcement that four of the most popular neighbourhood police sergeants were getting the boot and not being replaced has caused outcry in wards from Sands End to Addison.  In North End, residents have started a petition to keep Sgt Ian Gordon as head of the Safer Neighbourhood Team.  It is the council which has claimed credit for the SNTs over the past five years, yet when the cuts were announced they blamed the police.

Now, two weeks later they have just paid for space in the local paper and on their Soviet-style street banners to say how much they are spending on extra police officers. So why don’t they pay for the four sergeants instead, or even use their propaganda fund for this purpose?

Meanwhile, parents from Addison Primary are also petitioning, for a new crossing in Shepherds Bush Road.  The old one has been ripped out and the proposed new child-friendly Puffin crossing is nowhere to be seem.  So at present children as young as five are jaywalking on one of the busiest roads  in the borough.  Sign the petition for the new crossing.  In the meantime the SNT sergeant for Addison ward is organising a rota to supervise the kids to and from school.  You guessed it, he’s getting the boot too.

Out and about

  • Wormholt Park was 100 years old this week and celebrated in style.  Bob Still and the Friends of Wormholt Park had laid on an incredible range of attractions which attracted the whole community to what had been the borough’s most neglected park.  But with the promise that at last funds for its redevelopment will be released by the council everyone was in good form, not least Peggy Aslett, also 100 years old and invited to cut the cake for their joint birthday.  Peggy, born in Fulham, now living in Acton, was the guest of Angie Bray MP and myself on the House of Commons terrace last month. Next she’s off to Silverstone for a couple of laps.
  • Saturday was also Brook Green Day, and the Brook Green Association and Friends of Brook Green put on a great range of entertainments and stalls.  Hot topics being discussed included the latest on the proposed closure of Olympia station as well as the quality of Kerbisher and Malt chips.
  • Speaking of Olympia, it was the topping out ceremony for the new West Hall on Friday.  A bit too traditional for my liking as the people who had actually built the Hall didn’t appear to be invited to the party.  Meanwhile My Olympia have come up with a solution to the Olympia stalemate that ought to please everyone.     
  • I was again petitioning against the Government’s NHS cuts at the weekend, this time in Uxbridge Road.  The news from Imperial gave it an extra urgency, but the overwhelming support from the public for the NHS leaves no doubt that it will survive.
  • As the newest member of the Hammersmith Rotary club I helped at their stall at West London College on Friday.
  • In my column for Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle this week I wrote about Charing Cross Hospital

A substantial Bill

I am leading for the Opposition on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill that is going through its line by line consideration in Committee. It is a hefty task but the Government only gave us seven days to do it, so log-jammed is their timetable with controversial Bills, like the Health Bill, also being forced through last week. Given that my Bill proposes the virtual abolition of legal aid for a whole range of subjects from housing to medical negligence, this is hopelessly inadequate. The only way we can even try and scrutinise the Bill properly is to keep going up until Midnight, as we did last Tuesday. No way to make laws, you might think.

Boundary Review

Yesterday, the Boundary Commission published its proposals for redrawing constituency boundaries. The proposed changes announced in west London are bittersweet - while I will be pleased to be re-united with the wards in the London Borough of Ealing that I used to represent before the last general election, I shall be sorry to see Fulham Reach and North End, my old council ward, move out of Hammersmith constituency.

The new constituency will be called Hammersmith and Acton, and a map of it can be found here.

But remember: these proposals - assuming they do come into force - will not take effect for four years. I will continue to represent Hammersmith constituency as I have done since last year's election.

Nothing will change until the next election, which the government assures us is four years away. But if you are in any doubt about how these changes will affect you, please write to me.


To contact Andy, e-mail him at andy@andyslaughter.com or call his office on 020 7610 1950