- Save Olympia's tube service public meeting
- Sergeants to go from local police teams
- Hacking, graft and who knew what
- Imperial lather
- Sure Start - the truth at last
- Dirty tricks as West Ken residents defend their homes
- Ken Eats Pie
- Three Hours - Without Remission
- Summer Activities Round Up
Save Olympia's tube service public meeting
It is absurd to think you can close a tube line that goes into the heart of London’s most densely-populated district and serves one of its main public attractions. But that’s what London Underground are like. Unaccountable, despite being run by an elected Mayor, and strangely oblivious of their duty to provide public transport.
We’ve been here before with the closure of Shepherds Bush Central Line for a year to please Westfield. It doesn’t help when local politicians collude with them – as H&F council did over Shepherds Bush and leading Tories like Greg Hands – the former MP for Olympia – and Greg Smith have on this occasion .
But Tuesday is the day to call them to account. Richard Parry, LU’s top man, will be at the Pillar Hall, Olympia at 7pm to hear residents’ views on his plan to stop all weekday services from Earl’s Court to Olympia from December. Hope to see you there.
The effects of 20% national cuts in policing are beginning to be felt on Hammersmith streets.
A statement from the local police last week said:
“As a result of the MPS review of safer neighbourhoods Hammersmith & Fulham will be reducing from 16 to 12 SNT Sergeants. The following wards will share a Sergeant:
Addison & Avonmore and Brook Green
Parsons Green & Walham and Sands End
Munster & Palace Riverside
Fulham Reach & North End”
This level of cuts is a pure matter of choice by the Government and yet the council commented:
“In these difficult economic times everyone has to do more for less and to be only losing four Safer Neighbourhoods Sergeants at a time when other boroughs are losing more is good news for Hammersmith and Fulham.”
But Sergeants are the heart of the Safer Neighbourhood Team – which the borough commander rightly described as the jewel in the crown of local policing. What this actually means is that there will be one team for two wards in many areas of Hammersmith, including those like Fulham Reach, North End and Addison with a worrying level of anti-social behaviour in the past.
It is pathetic for the council now to wash its hands of the cuts in vital front-line policing. Perhaps if they spent some of the millions wasted on magazines and PR to tell us how much they care about fighting crime actually on fighting crime we could keep our sergeants.
I try to keep to local stories in this bulletin, but the hacking scandal has seeped into almost every area of public life. I had over 300 letters and emails about it last week, easily outstripping the NHS and forests, the year’s previous top issues for Hammersmith constituents. I hope everyone has now had a reply, though it was difficult to keep up with each new revelation.
I gave my opinion on LBC and Radio London and asked Cameron one of the famous 136 questions last Wednesday, but was shut away in the Legal Aid Bill Committee on the day the Murdochs came to town. The reason Cameron was asked the same questions over and over again is that he wouldn’t give straight answers, and that doesn’t bode well for future revelations.
I think there are two separate swamps to drain here. The bigger issue in the long run is the honesty and integrity of the press and the police – and of course politicians. That is what the independent inquiry has to tackle and it is a massive task as the power News International – and other proprietors – have wielded has cowed a generation of political leaders, whether out of fear or hope of advancement for themselves and their parties. For the present the spell is broken, but only because a few backbench MPs and Ed Miliband insisted that Murdoch and Co were brought to book. This is a web that spreads so wide that it is in many powerful people’s interests to return to business as usual.
Which raises the second issue – allegations of criminal behaviour very close to the centre of government. Every day brings fresh revelations and I hope the police team that is now investigating will prove more competent and better motivated to get to the bottom of them than their predecessors.
I don’t buy Cameron employing Coulson to give him a ‘second chance’, but without worrying that he needed security clearance. I think Coulson was attractive because, not in spite, of his risk-taking personality. The other person who comes out badly from this is the favourite to succeed Cameron when he goes – Boris. Onto his third Commissioner, losing half the management team at the Met and now denouncing the same hacking allegations he called ‘codswallop’ last year.
Karen Buck, Mark Field and I – as the MPs for Imperial Health Care’s five hospitals in West London – met their new Chief Executive, Mark Davies, last week. Three months ago Imperial’s outgoing head Steve Smith told us it was impossible for major hospitals faced with increasing demand to make 4% year on year cuts. It still is, but that doesn’t stop the government making them do it. The result: Imperial – including Charing Cross and Hammersmith – must lose £100million from their budget this year, 13% of the total. Of course this is impossible even with doctors and nurses losing their jobs and whole departments closing down. So at the end of the year they will be in debt with an even bigger problem next year.
Remember ‘I’ll cut the deficit not the NHS’? With growth tanking it’s beginning to look like the other way round.
The cat and mouse game the Council has played with the future of local Children’s Centres came to an end with the admission that nine of the existing 15 Centres would close. Finally faced with a rebellion by the Centres themselves, who knew they would fail their Ofsted inspections if made to carry on with 5% or 10% of their previous funding, the Council has conceded they must ‘de-register’, that is, close. Read the full story here.
In a move that even seasoned Hammersmith watchers found shocking, the Council sold several thousand of its residents and their homes to a property developer for £15 million last week. Yes, this really happened: CapCo, the giant property company that wants to build 27 storey blocks of luxury flats on the site of two council estates off North End Road has bought the ‘exclusive’ option to negotiate demolition of 760 newly built or modernised affordable homes.
The story gets better – or worse. When the residents – 80% of whom have signed up to oppose demolition – went to the town hall to protest, they found a handful of ‘counter-demonstrators’ from the ‘steering group’ set up by the council to undermine the legitimate residents’ association. I wrote about it in my Chronicle column, as did Shepherds Bush Blog and the Guardian.
Word of the shenanigans even reached Ken Livingstone who visited the estates last Thursday to meet residents’ representatives.
Sally Taylor and Diana Belshaw, Chairs of West Ken and Gibbs Green TRAs and other local residents opposed to the demolition of their homes showed Ken Livingstone around last week.
Ken Livingstone also found time to visit A A Cooke’s famous pie and mash shop in Goldhawk Road last week. Not just for the eels and liquor but to hear about the council’s attempt to demolish the historic row of shops to make way for – of course – more luxury flats. Earlier in the week I filed my witness statement in support of the Judicial Review the Goldhawk traders have launched to fight the developer/council’s plans.
We finally got onto the meat of the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill on Tuesday- the government’s proposal to effectively end Legal advice and representation for poorer people in areas such as housing and family law. It was my job as Shadow Minister to set out our objections in some detail. Which I did in a three hour speech to the committee, encouraged by helpful interventions from all parties present. Should you wish to read what I said you can find it here.
- I jointly hosted a 100th birthday party on the terrace at the Commons with my neighbour Angie Bray, MP for my old Acton seat. The birthday girl was Peggy Aslett, still as sprightly as when she toured the Commons two years ago and still planning her next adventure.
- I got my first tombola win of the season at Grove Neighbourhood Centre summer fair
- I spoke at the 5th anniversary celebration for Banooda Aid Foundation at Bishop Creighton House.
- With the local councillors and council officers I toured estates in Shepherds Bush to hear residents' concerns
- With the Mayor I visited one of the best renovation schemes in the borough – the Du Cane Road estate opposite Hammersmith Hospital.
- In addition I have a regular programme of surgeries, which will continue after the summer hols. Routine casework is dealt with by my two assiduous caseworkers –email to email@example.com. Complex cases I see at my weekly Monday morning surgery – email or ‘phone for an appointment. And to find out what is happening around the constituency I do a street surgery at weekends. Most recently I have visited Lakeside Road, Willow Vale and Brook Green – if you want me to come to your street or block, let me know.
To contact Andy, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his office on 020 7610 1950