Sunday, 25 October 2009
Yesterday I crossed the border into Congo, and am now in Bukavu in the province of South Kivu. There is a lot of fighting here at the moment with UN forces confronting some of the various militias that exist here, some of whom fled Rwanda after taking part in the genocide there.
On our first day we were sat in a cafe after I arrived only for some drunken Congolese policeman to come barelling in to the cafe and demand $100 from me, because he said we hadn't paid enough road tax. After lots of negotiation we sent him away with $10 and a pack of cigarettes. Such is life in Congo. There is little or no security here and what does exist comes from the UN forces. I am sitting just down the road from one of their army camps. Think of that next time people criticise our police.
The war here has claimed over 5 million lives in the last few years alone and yet is one of the least reported in the West.
Anyway unsurprisingly perhaps this means maintaining the blog for the next week is going to have to take a back seat. I am typing from a dark room with no lighting, running water or air conditioning (it is plus 30 degrees here) or other things you might take for granted in England. I am also being attacked by some ferocious mosquitoes! Bizarely it does have an intermittent internet connection though, hence this posting.
I cross back into Rwanda in a week and from there back from this bush to the W12 Bush - and I can't wait. Till then dear reader.. au revoir and take care
Thursday, 22 October 2009
There have been warnings today of the increased likelihood of racially motivated attacks, and where are these more likely to happen than in W12 this evening. Filled as it will be with drunken psyched up skin headed yobs - in one of the most ethnically diverse areas in London.
I hope your evenings are not too ruined. On a personal level I am writing this from under a mango tree in Burundi, central Africa. I am here for two weeks for work and go to Congo on saturday. I wonder how many of the bomber jacketed Neo-Nazis that will be staining the Bush this evening actually realise that they are all descended from African ancestors, who lived very near to where I am sitting right now?
Monday, 19 October 2009
You can read her account, which she gave to the News of the World here. What still amazes and frankly disgusts me about this case, apart from the brutality of what was done to this woman, was the pathetic nature of the sentence handed down to one of the men who carried out the act of hurling acid into a defenceless woman's face. Stefan Sylvestre received just a few years.
When I wrote this article I wondered if I had gone over the top - but if anything I didnt go far enough.
It's something I will be raising when I meet some of those who pass sentence on W12 criminals at this meeting. Will report back.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
1925 Update: the tube worker has now been suspended by TfL and is apparently "being investigated". Predictably over here on the GoingUnderground blog, one of the commenters who is a tube member of staff has already started to make excuses for this behaviour.
Just so a Hitler lover (and this time not Bernie Ecclestone) can have his platform on the telly. Cheers BBC.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Which is long enough given he is only 16 years old at the moment, but then why call it "life"?
This sentencing brings to and end a story which started almost a year ago in a killing that left the Bush, which is sadly no stranger to youths killing each other, stunned.
It was something about the fact that Craig Brown was killed while unloading christmas shopping and also probably that time of year that brought the full horror of it home.
It makes this forthcoming visit to "meet the sentencers" who deal with the local gangsters who run around shooting and stabbing each other and innocent bystanders in the Bush all the more interesting. I will report back after the meeting. Any questions you'd like asked?
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
At least you have now. Here is some more information about it.
Going to places like this makes me appreciate just how lucky I am to live in the Bush. To be brutally honest I am already really looking forward to coming back. Forgive a slow down in updates on this blog while I'm away - I'll do what I can in what are likely to be challenging circumstances.
I got to the station at 0910 and saw that the very delayed 0820something was actually going to arrive at 0912, lucky me I thought and sprinted across the bridge to the platform. I saw the dot matrix sign saying it was actually going to arrive in 3 minutes. 3 minutes counted down to 0. Then it went back to 3 minutes. Counted down to zero. Then it went back to 3 minutes. Counted down to 0. Then it went back to 3 minutes. Get the picture?
Eventually I gave up and got the tube instead. I think what annoys me and other passengers the most is the way they lie to you. If it had said actually no, it will be at least another 15 minutes, I'd have been able to make an informed choice. But that's about putting the fare paying passengers first, and also making them liable for a customer charter refund. So they won't.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
So here is something I've just been sent by a reader - Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh defending his housing policy and taking a few swipes of his own at his critics. You can't say I don't cover both sides .. its just finding the council's side that's quite difficult sometimes!
Monday, 12 October 2009
I've written about the hidden lives of our imprisoned neighbours before, who I used to see going about their business over the walls from the maternity ward at next-door Queen Charlotte's hospital, but I don't think I realised quite how strange life was in there!
Good morning. And welcome to another working week!
Here are some more utterly gratuitous pics of the Bush at dawn, about 0615 to be precise, taken last friday morning when I was gym-bound. If, like me, you leave and return to the Bush in the dark at this time of year you'll know the Bush is really alive already by then so here it is in all its' glory.
My own personal favourite last friday morning was a middle aged woman, clutching a can of fosters, dancing to no music and leering at me from a doorway of the william hill betting shop on Uxbridge Road - "good morning" shrieks she, "..and gawd bless yer dahlin" as I walk past!
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Saturday 2.25pm: Road completely clear now, but a sad little pile of debris swept onto side of the road with quite a lot of sand. Hope everyone got out OK.
He will be sentenced on monday.
Just before this murder I came back from Liberia in west Africa, which is a country that for the last few decades has endured one of the worlds' most vicious and brutal civil wars even by African standards.
This is a place where kids frequently use extreme violence as a way of life.
And as I said at the time, when you consider the fact that so called 'hard' kids here, who by comparison live a life of absolute luxury, use this sort of violence over an issue we now know to be so trivial as a previous fight is depresing beyond belief.
Apparently the council officers "guided" the councillors to the only decision that was open to them - er, wrong. In fact the council officer had to admit that some of the key points in her submission were wrong. This included the statement that Innocent Drinks "wanted" to leave the Goldhawk Road Industrial Estate. This was, she admitted, totally untrue. In fact as the officer ploughed through her report all you could hear were cries of "rubbish" from over a hundred local people who had packed in to watch.
The chair of the committee (who represents Shepherds Bush Green ward) Alex Chalk, is the only person quoted in Pravda's article. In fact he is quoted at such length that it takes up an entire column of text. The "journalist" obviously ran out of time or space to be able to interview a single member of the Residents Association or any other person who disagreed with the council's decision to allow the property developers they have such a high regard for to move in.
This is more a post lamenting the lack of an independent media that can accurately report the news in H&F rather than a comment about the rights and wrongs of the planning decision. What we now have instead is a propaganda rag that by hoovering up all the local advertising revenue has effectively driven any independent newspapers out of the Borough. So all we have left is this council mouthpiece that distorts the truth to fit a political agenda.
There are several changes to the Bush coming up that you might or might not agree with, such as the culling of the trees on Shepherd's Bush Green. Don't expect that freesheet that drops through your door to give you the full picture on that or anything else! I might even write a letter to the "Editor" you know..
Friday, 9 October 2009
As I know from personal experience however, TfL are rarely to be trusted. And sure enough before the new station was opened it was revealed that TfL had "discovered" a major engineering reason why a lift could not be installed without huge expense. I am not an engineer but it strikes me that completely levelling a station and building it from new does leave quite a lot of scope for the installation of a lift.
Hammersmith And Fulham Action on Disability, HAFAD, have been making a noise about this today. Well done to them, and shame on both TfL for being the toe rags that they are and on the council for not forcing either Westfield or TfL to spend what was necessary to ensure that those of us who happen either to be disabled now or who will be in the future can actually use this new station.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
As I type this Thames Water and other authorities are currently trying to deal with a large flow of poo that flowed into the river following the rain on wednesday this week and is currently merrily sitting in the river right next to our Borough. The authorities are trying to use peroxide and other chemicals to disperse it but its still there at the moment.
This rather makes the case for the new sewer that Thames Water wants to build, the Mayor of London has told them to build but that our council has demanded be stopped. I just wonder how our council are going to find a face saving way of climbing down on this one, as they catch the whiff of something smelly from the windows of Hammersmith Town Hall.
This is a current status update from the Environment Agency: (it wouldn't win first prize in a plain English competition but you'll get the drift. As it were)
This event is possibly a combination of Mogden Storm Tanks and CSOs and that is why the sag is quite wide. Rainfall over West London forced Mogden to go to river on Tuesday afternoon, and the storm sewage was dosed with peroxide as it coincided with low water. The central London CSOs also went to river. Both discharged again Wednesday evening as a result of the heavy rainfall, but not at low water.
Estuary temperatures are falling (16 degrees), and that might be why the sag is developing slowly. I had hoped that things would pick up over the course of today given the sunshine, but that has not been the case. The sag is now now below 25% saturation, falling slowly.
Further rain is forecast for Friday afternoon to Saturday evening which might be interesting depending on the state of tide.
FW flows are not fantastic - until the evening of the 7th around 10 cumecs - the rain briefly raised it to >20 but this has now returned to 10.
Now it would seem the EU are going to sue the UK government over the amount of poo being poured into Old Father Thames - and make the new 'super sewer' in our Borough even more likely. You've got to wonder when our council are going to admit defeat on this one. Even the Mayor has ordered them to fall into line! Furnival Gardens in W6 appears doomed.
This from Reuters news agency:
EU COMMISSION TO SUE U.K. OVER SEWER FLOODS Britain faces court action by the European Union environment watchdog after sewers repeatedly flooded into the river Thames during rainstorms, two EU officials said on Tuesday. The European Commission will also take the British government to the European Court of Justice over sewage spills in Whitburn, northeast England. The case could create pressure for increased investment by Thames Water, part-owned by Australia's Macquarie, and Northumbrian Water Group. "This is partly about health, due to the bacteria and viruses in the waste water. But it's also about the environment due to the high levels of nitrogen and phosphates," said one official. Britain is not properly applying Europe's waste water directive, the Commission is expected to argue when it launches the case on Thursday. Combined sewers, which carry both human waste and rainwater, have been put under pressure in northern Europe during a string of rainy summers, particularly in Britain. Britain is not alone. France, Belgium, Ireland and Spain have similar sewage systems and problems during heavy storms, one EU official said.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Debbie Domb should be happy. Her local council is the self-styled "borough of opportunity", where council tax is being slashed, more bobbies are on the beat, three public parks boast Green Flag environmental awards, and a £2m library has just opened at negligible cost to the taxpayer, thanks to private sector partnership.
The Conservative-run council's promise of "putting residents first" has sent public approval ratings soaring. In a poll of 1,260 people last year, 64% said they were satisfied with the council – 10% more than in 2007 – and it holds a maximum four-star rating from the Audit Commission.
This Tory flagship local authority has won praise from the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, for grasping that most elusive of political holy grails – low council tax combined with improving services. And Whitehall Tories are eager to emulate the success of their town hall counterparts in west London who, according to Osborne, have been "rooting out waste and cutting costs or improving services through innovative new policies".
Yet innovation and improving services appear thin on the ground to Domb, a resident of the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
'Disappointed' is quite a mild word but it probably reflects how far Mr Bailey can go in criticising his own local party. I'm not sure it will really be strong enough for the voters of Brackenbury, who the tories really need in their quest to win the new Hammersmith constituency which includes the Bush.
The relevance of this to the Bush is that this is a pretty good example to my mind of the Council making far reaching changes to our environment that affect people's lives, not really listening too much to local people if that planning meeting was anything to go by, and not even being held to account very strongly by someone who aspires to represent the area in parliament. Residents living close to Westfield might even think I am talking about them. Redevelopment of Shepherd's Bush Green anyone?
I am not trying to tell anyone how to vote - I would just say that Shaun Bailey has now demonstrated how timid he would be in sticking up for local people against their local authority if he was elected our new MP. Our current MP Andy Slaughter must be delighted.
Sunday, 4 October 2009
I did meet our MP Andy Slaughter at last week's Labour conference and may see Shaun Bailey his Tory challenger for our constituency this week. Full report on those discussions to follow.
In the meantime have a good week and send some sun my way - the next couple of posts will be from a hotel room in rainy Manchester!
Saturday, 3 October 2009
But the thing that often leaves me speechless are the sometimes pathetic sentences that are handed down, that seem almost to reward the criminal. I'm not a member of the hang 'em flog 'em brigade, and I'm not advocating some draconian new code, but I am interested in knowing more about how our local gang members, for example, get dealt with. Feel free to reply to the advert, the text of which I've pasted below, too.
Thursday 26th November 2009 from 18:00 until 20:30
An evening at
181 Talgarth Road, Hammersmith
An opportunity to learn about the sentencing process and to exchange viewpoints with the sentencers
Free Fish & Chip Supper!
Tour of the Courthouse!
RSVP Lisa Trinder
T: 020 8700 9320
Friday, 2 October 2009
I spotted this one earlier this week which I think was quite new.
Our esteemed council has a fondness for this sort of thing, so now they've started rolling out a new campaign in Hammersmith its only amatter of time before we see them in the Bush.
Surely this has nothing to do with the Tory Party conference being just round the corner? I think you have a right to know. You paid for them after all..
Thursday, 1 October 2009
I can't be everywhere at once and my travel committments make this even less likely, so in the words of some cliched Hollywood Z-lister .. "this achievement is for all of you"!