Sunday, 31 January 2010

Robbery: who is this man?

Hammersmith & Fulham Police are appealing for witnesses and information following a robbery in Fulham.

Police were called at approx. 09:15hrs on Saturday 5th December to reports of a robbery at an amusements arcade in North End Road, SW6.

A male suspect entered the premises, banged several times on cash office door armed with a knife. Pointing the knife at the member of staff the suspect demanded the safe be opened and cash given to him. The suspect then left the premises with a quantity of cash.

The suspect is described as a black male, slim build with an London accent wearing a blue woolly hat, black scarf, blue coat, blue jeans, and dark gloves.

Anyone with any information about the crime should contact Detective Constable Max Watson based at Hammersmith & Fulham Police’s Robbery Squad on 0208 246 2678 or call crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

January stats: 40,000 readers?!

This month there were well over 40,000 visits to this blog, another (huge) increase on the month before. Before you (and I) get too excited however there is an explanation for the skyrocketing figures that I should own up to. And that is the runaway popularity of this blog post about the woman who was maimed by Bush rapist Daniel Lynch. 25,232 views of this article alone would account for over half of these views in January, leaving an actual total of about 15,000 views of the blog not counting that 25,000.

That would make much more sense since my total views in December were 11,809 - and readership has been growing month on month by about 2 or 3 thousand per month on average. So that's an actual readership increase of about 3,000 since December. So less dramatic but still good solid growth - and for that I thank all of you.

Most of all though this month for me has been made better by the quality of some of the stories you have been sending through. The Fulham Chronicle featured this police cadet story in this weeks edition - you could have read that on this blog nearly two weeks earlier. The number of stories that appear here and get picked up elsewhere keep growing - as well as those that get studiously ignored by Pravda. If they weren't here (or now in the excellent Fulham Chronicle) you wouldn't get to read them at all. And on the subject of our free Fulham Chronicle I think we compliment each other quite well - I plan on using video a bit more in the coming weeks which obviously a paper can't do - but they can feature them as they did this recent review of a certain Green Party campaign video. This blog also gets featured on The Guardian and Time Out for various reasons too nowadays, which also shows how local sites like this make a real contribution.

Watch out in the coming weeks for a series of more in depth Q&A with the three main parliamentary candidates on their plans for the Bush and also another insight into this story which seems to be hotting up again. I've been talking to Thames Water and others.

So keep the stories coming - and keep coming back. Thanks all.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Prison Guard jailed over affair with Bush rapist

Prison Officer Lisa Harris, 28, was jailed herself on thursday this week for having a sexual affair with Daniel Lynch - the Shepherd's Bush rapist from Becklow Gardens who arranged for acid to be thrown in the face of one of his victims. Harris was sentenced to 21 months, which means she'll be out in a few months. But her time in jail is unlikely to be easy, as this other former prison guard from Wormwood Scrubs will no doubt testify.

The questions about this woman's state of mind are very obvious - how do you end up having sex with a man who you knew was both a rapist and capable of trying to destroy another woman with acid - and that is what the media has understandably enough focussed on. But I'd like to know how on earth its possible for a prison officer to get away with this even once in the prison system. Apart from the affair she smuggled mobile phones in to Lynch, who doubtless used them to affect how things were going on the streets of the Bush.

Thanks for looking out for us there, Her Majesty's Prison Service.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Green to get new hotel

As expected this planning application was duly approved and the pavillion on the Green will now become a large hotel with several hundred rooms. The best bit is that the facade is apparently to be retained with the hotel building work itself incorporating the existing look and taking place largely behind the building that you see from the Green.

In recent years this building has acted as a huge home for the rats of the Green, some kind of religious venue and other assorted uses - but mostly just stood derelict. I think its great news that we're getting something that will actually contribute to the area.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Uxbridge Road stabbings: bad reporting of bad news

Most of you I think will be aware of the stabbings that took place seemingly up and down the Uxbridge Road over the christmas period. Nobody died thankfully, and it is thought that the incidents were not gang related.

At the time, like most of you, I was concentrating on family things and didn't really have the time to look properly in to what had actually happened and what the consequences might be. Although I did see a great deal of reporting and comment from breathless local journalists and politicians keen to get their comment in on the matter, even before the dust had settled and the actual facts were clear.

For me, just like this incident last summer when local residents effectively used this blog as a means of finding out what had actually happened in the absence of any media reporting or police statements, this latest violence to scar the Bush asked some pretty important questions about what sort of area the Bush is going to be like in a few years time. We don't sit that far from affluent areas like Holland Park - but we're also not that far from areas like Harlesden.

So we are not helped when one local online advertiser-led news site gave their report, as dramatically as they could possibly have written it, complete with only a statement from one of the candidates vying to be our MP at the next general election. The whole report made the Bush seem more like Harlesden than Holland Park, and actually I don't think that's a fair reflection at all.

Other more professional local media, such as the Fulham Chronicle, didn't seem to experience a problem with reporting these incidents in a balanced and fair way. So there really is no excuse.

But we do clearly have a growing problem, in common with the rest of London, of kids carrying knives. Every now and again I get comments sent to this blog by one or other gang threatening each other with violence. It reads as pretty scary stuff but the reality is that its probably some teenager sat on their own in some internet cafe.

For the sake of clarity I have reproduced the actual facts of what happened in December, which I have received from Shepherd's Bush Police, below. What I would ask those who seek to serve our area with news is for more accuracy, more responsibility and less drama. It doesn't help to make the Bush appear worse than it actually is.

For the record here are the facts:

Police were called to reports of one incident on the Uxbridge Road, W12 on the 25th December and three incidents on the 27th December during which the victims received superficial stab wounds.

The three incidents on Sunday 27th December are being treated as linked.  They are not considered to be gang related.

Superintendent William Lyle said:  "We are working in partnership with the local authority, local residents, business community and community leaders to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to prevent any further offences and to reassure our local community. We are providing continued reassurance patrols and our officers continue to speak to the community on a daily basis".

Details of incidents

  • At 23.40 on Friday 25th December police were called to reports of a man suffering with cuts to his head and two possible stab wounds to his back on the Uxbridge Road, junction with Warbeck Road .  The victim, a black man aged 24, attended hospital for treatment and was subsequently discharged.  It is believed he was attacked by six men.  The victim has not substantiated the allegation.

  • At 00.45 on Sunday 27th December police were called to reports of a man suffering from a stab wound in the buttocks on the Uxbridge Road, W12.  The victim, a black man aged 21, is believed to have been stabbed as a result of an altercation with two black men.  The victim has not substantiated the allegation.

  • At 00.55 on Sunday 27th December police were called to a man suffering with a stab wound to the abdomen in Uxbridge Road opposite the junction with Askhan Road.  The victim, a black man aged 19, is believed to have received the wound as a result of an altercation with one man.  The victim has not substantiated the allegation.

  • At 01.05 on Sunday 27th December police were called to Ealing hospital regarding two men who had attended for treatment to stab wounds.  The first man, aged 20, had a stab wound in the back.  The second man, aged 18, had stab wounds to the leg and buttocks.  It is believed these were the result of an altercation on the Uxbridge Road, W12.  The victims refused to substantiate the allegation.  

Council shamed by beaten woman case

A heavily pregnant woman who reported to H&F Council having been savagely beaten by her own husband was told she was not a priority for emergency housing and was advised to seek a private landlord somewhere instead. 

I cannot even imagine the utter dejection of the scene as this woman, who'd just had her only hope of safety denied her by some jumped up jobs-worth, must have slowly shuffled awkwardly and dejectedly out of the building, presumably in great pain and discomfort from her wounds and the fact she was just weeks away from giving birth. Did the officials, surveying this scene of misery, have a change of heart and call her back? No.

This is despite the fact that the police, themselves concerned for her safety, had referred her to the council for help.

She spent four nights on a park bench courtesy of our Council, washing in a fast food restaurant toilet.

In fairness to the Council they have held their hands up, paid compensation to the woman who amazingly still lives in the borough and admitted that they deserved to be found guilty of 'maladministration' by the local government ombudsman as they have been. They even put this in the most recent edition of Pravda, which must be the first negative story about the Council that has ever made it in there.

A fairly predictable row has broken out among local politicians about who is to blame. Labour point out that this is the same Conservative council that have cut homeless services in their quest to deliver council tax cuts. The Tories for their part accuse Labour of being "shameless" in trying to politicise the matter and argue that the last time the Council was found guilty of 'maladministration' was under Labour in 2005.

Personally I just feel sick even thinking about it. I notice that not one official responsible appears to have been sacked as a result of this. If that's not a sacking offence could someone please tell me what is?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Andy Slaughter on LBC

For those of you anorak-ish enough to have nothing better to do (like me) our MP Andy Slaughter will be on LBC radio between 8 and 9pm, on a programme called the Political Hour this evening.

I understand he's appearing alongside the LibDem GLA Member Mike Tuffrey and there will be a Conservative representative too.

Of course, you may wish to watch the Manchester Derby instead..!

Recession Bush: Pub closes

After the good news of December I saw this sad sight yesterday morning on the Askew Road.

I'd never been inside but it looked like the preserve of older people who would sit in there and gaze out of the windows watching the world go by most days.

I'm assuming another casualty of the recession and hope the staff find something new soon.

UPDATE 1400 - The Shepherds Bush & Fulham Chronicle has emailed to ask what the name of the pub was, which you might have thought they'd know or be able to find out being full time journalists .. but in the spirit of co-operation it was the Old Bull & Bush. Just so you know where the press get many of their Bush stories from people ...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Fitness First shock fatties

Those sensitive souls at Fitness First Shepherd's Bush have a new display on their reception table, aimed at those feeling sensitive about their weight. I think you'll agree with me that they may need a course in 'how to win friends and influence people'!

If they put as much effort as was evidently put in to getting this little delight together as finding and putting the weights back every morning they'd have many more happy customers than they do now.

"Super Sewer": Councils join forces

Ah yes, the subject of poo again. The subject of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, or "Super Sewer Crater" to use its Hollywood-style name used by our Council in their campaign against it. This, of course, is the large scale sewer that Thames Water are proposing to build, supported by both the Government and Mayor of London, to raise the capacity of the sewer network that flows under H&F and other boroughs which border the Thames, ultimately to stop so much raw poo being flushed into the river. This happens very frequently as these figures showed last year and is also the reason why the UK is about to be fined by the EU for polluting the river so much.

Our Victorian pipes, you see, are just that - Victorian. Unlike modern pipes which are seperate they carry nearly all of NW London's rainwater and sewage together at the same time so when you have lots of rain plus poo - out it goes into the Thames - or in the worst case scenarios into people's houses in Hammersmith too.

Our Council has long fought a very public campaign against the Tunnel, raising the spectre of our green spaces being decimated by "super craters" - but as Thames Water told this blog, much of what the Council claimed was actually a load of old, well, poo - and they knew it at the same time as saying as spending our money continuing these scare stories.

Now it appears H&F has recruited next door Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in their fight against the sewer. Deputy Leader Daniel Moylan has joined H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh in warning that the decision may be taken over their heads anyway as an issue of London-wide importance. Daniel Moylan said:

“It is outrageous that DEFRA, Thames Water and the government are attempting to bypass and overrule the planning powers of local authorities. “We believe that this proposal must be challenged because if Londoners are expected to pay for the scheme then the planning decisions should be made by London authorities.”

H&F's own Paul Bristow, writing in Pravda under the headline of "Your views on Super Sewer flushed away", said: The council is appalled at the proposed use of the IPC (Infrastructure Planning Commission) as all along we have been told that this is a London project that should be paid for by Thames Water customers. However, it now appears that when it comes to gaining the necessary planning permissions the views of Londoners can simply be ignored.”

If you've read this far, well done. Why is this important? Well, who exactly is Daniel Moylan? Among other things he is Deputy Chairman of Transport for London, and is very well connected in London Tory circles. So this could be something of a turn around. Having been overruled by a Tory Mayor H&F appear to be finding some other very powerful friends with the means of stopping this project. Watch this space.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Green Party "remove" campaign video

Could this be blogpower striking again?

After this review of Rollo Miles' video, it appears the offending item has now actually been removed by the Green Party altogether!

We await its replacement with baited breath. Watch this space.

Bush thugs sentenced for total of 22 years

In March 2009 officers from Hammersmith & Fulham Proactive Robbery Squad detained a man in Goldhawk Road, W12 after being concerned in a drugs transaction. The man who had clear learning difficulties stated that he was being forced to sell drugs by several males who were at his home address.

Officers obtained the necessary authority to enter and search the home address. The three men they found inside put up a fight and struggled violently with police with one suspect jumping through a closed window into the garden to evade capture. He was pursued by officers and detained after a foot chase.

A total of four people were arrested at or near to the premises for Possession with Intent to Supply Drugs and Money Laundering Offences. Officers seized approximately £12,000 worth of Heroin in individual wraps and seized several thousand pounds in cash.

A further investigation was carried out by the Hammersmith & Fulham Financial Investigation Unit whereby several thousand pounds was seized from the bank accounts of the men they’d arrested.

The level of evidence against the four men was overwhelming and two of the males pleaded guilty whilst the other two elected for crown court trial. They were subsequently found guilty and sentenced on the 20th November.

  • Mohamed SALEH who pleaded guilty at the trial received 4 years imprisonment

  • Danial LOUIS-OPIO-GIRA who pleaded guilty at the trial received 4 years imprisonment

  • Andre CAMPBELL who pleaded not guilty at the trial received 7 years imprisonment

  • Mamuyowie UBIRIBO who pleaded not guilty at the trial received 7 years imprisonment

This case involved an exceptional level of teamwork with many of the officers working a 23-hour shift after the initial arrests with a further four section 18 searches being completed.

PC Garry Salmon from Hammersmith & Fulham Robbery Squad said, “We have removed a large quantity of drugs from the streets and made a substantial seizure of cash from the premises and the suspects bank accounts. We will continue to take a tough stance against any person who sells drugs and have powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize cash”

I find this case sickening – a vulnerable man with learning difficulties taken advantage of by a group of four thugs who then forced him to sell drugs. Well done again to the Police.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Goldhawk roadworks: An update from H&F


Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Nick Botterill has been in touch, as promised, to share the results of this crisis meeting which the Council held last week over the water works road closures affecting Askew/Paddenswick roads, Seven Stars corner and the knock-on traffic for much of the Goldhawk Road. He says this:  

The situation has eased following the improved signage plus the fact that drivers who come to the area regularly are now aware of the problem. However a significant number are still ignoring the diversion signs and trying to cut south around the obstruction or forcing themselves (obviously potentially dangerous) through the closed westbound section. H&F are therefore looking to get additional signs put up advising that left turns off Goldhawk Road beyond Hammersmith Grove are closed except for local access and also advising of “enforcement” of the westbound closure of Goldhawk Road. While unlikely to be perfect solutions, it will help to continue to reduce the traffic in the area.

Late Friday an issue came up with access to properties on Goldhawk Road being blocked by diggings (planned next week) and the Council is seeking to ensure that Thames maintain access by plating over trenches when not being worked on“.

I’m interested to know what the “enforcement” measures will be, having seen drivers doing basically whatever they want to get around them. That has been the subject of many of your comments too.

But we’re grateful for the update, and I’ll judge the results for myself as no doubt will you, tomorrow!

Dawn over Hyde Park: please sponsor me

I had an amazing and magical experience this morning. Setting out at 0630 I ran 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) as part of my training for the Brighton Marathon which I am running for Cancer Research in April. One week ago today yet another person, a guy I used to work with and was close to called Ray, became yet another reason to do this. He was not yet 40.

Running from the Bush, down Uxbridge Road and then up to Holland Park, Lancaster Gate and into Hyde Park my route took me right into Green Park and to the gates of Buckingham Palace, and looping back past the Albert Hall and around again a few times before running back to the Bush. Among other things I saw the police excercising their fleet of horses on Hyde Park, more horses but this time with carts in and around the Palace and dawn breaking over the dome of the Albert Hall and gleaming off the Albert memorial gold.

A marathon is 41K so I'm still a way off but getting there slowly - and you can support me here. Many thanks for anything you are able to donate.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

It's war: Slaughter called "liar" by Bailey

It's been simmering for a while but on friday Tory candidate for our Hammersmith constituency at the General Election responded to an attack from Andy Slaughter MP, where he referred to Shaun Bailey as having "no links to Hammersmith" and a "blank CV", by blasting Mr Slaughter as a "liar" and a "serial professional politician".

In an email to supporters on January 15th Andy Slaughter MP says this:

"At home. By which I mean Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.  I say that for the avoidance of doubt, having lived here for all my 49 years, and to prevent confusion with the Tory candidate.  Someone gave me a letter from him this week which contained the following homily:

‘Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush are great places to live and work.  I know because I grew up here and many of my family and friends are still here’

The first sentence is true.  The second is not.  Please don’t blame him, send your complaints to his PR people, Mr Bailey doesn’t have time to read all his stuff.  Of course, were the claim true, you might ask, “If it’s so great here why did he leave?”

In response Shaun doesn't hold back. He has this to say about Andy in an email sent to supporters yesterday:

"Last week a Shepherds Bush resident forwarded me an email sent by my Labour opponent in which, among other baseless claims, he states I have 'no links to Hammersmith' and 'an almost blank CV.' Of course he didn't back this with any evidence, and for good reason. My opponent knew he was lying.

I grew up in and around Hammersmith and Fulham borough from the age of four. I went to Henry Compton School. My mum still lives in Shepherds Bush. The charity I co-founded regularly works with many young people and their families from the Shepherds Bush and White City area. I have been and still am involved in many organisations and events all over the borough. If all of these examples don't qualify as links to Hammersmith then I'm not sure what would. All of these things are well documented, quoted in the press and on my own website. Still, my opponent lied to his own supporters in an effort to make himself appear better".

And it doesn't end there. He then goes on to raise parliamentary expenses for good measure:

"To say I have an 'almost blank CV' is an astonishing statement from a man who is a serial professional politician. Whilst he was building up £160 million in debt in Hammersmith that the residents of the borough will have to pay back, he also managed to pay himself more than any other council leader in the country. As Ealing Acton's MP, he then moved on to charging £90 pen nibs to taxpayers. Last July, in a letter to residents, he promised to post his expenses on his website but has failed to do so. In the same letter he said, 'I believe the expenses system needs complete reform to ensure no MP can profit from it,' yet expense records show he claimed between £100 and £250 of petty cash each month - cash given without the need for a receipt. Still, he claims to have some of the cleanest expenses in parliament!"

Ouch. In both cases. While I can understand why Shaun has decided to answer with both barrels by doing so he's probably generated much greater exposure to Andy's original comments that they would otherwise have had. On the question of who is right I will leave you to decide - but get ready for more of this stuff, the gloves appear to have come off, and they've been put in the drawer till May 2nd this year at the earliest.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Green Party candidate releases campaign video

"If you're worried about your children's future you must vote for me!" - is the fetching slogan used in this, possibly the worst example of a campaign video I have ever seen, from our Green Party candidate Rollo Miles at the next General Election.

Filmed in his front room Rollo mentions not one thing about the local area, doesn't even mention Shepherd's Bush at all, and instead says that "one more Labour, Tory or LibDem MP won't make a difference..but a Green MP will." Um, right that's me sold.

He has not one thing to say about the major local issues of housing, the economy, transport or even the big local environmental issue of the Thames Tideway Tunnel - either the impact on one of our local green spaces or the ongoing problem of sewer flooding.

No, none of this is worth a mention to Rollo, whose main selling point instead is this scary statement: - "if you are worried about your children's future, or even your own, you must vote for me"!  Thanks for that Rollo.

One thing Rollo does get right however is that the Hammersmith constituency is a new one and keenly fought over - that's why we've seen Cameron dropping by, and slick videos from Shaun Bailey among others. Andy Slaughter is also fighting hard. All of which means you can expect to be courted at every opportunity - even at the Tube - but lets hope the Greens based on this evidence either just give up and go away or try a little bit harder in the coming weeks and months. 2 out of 10.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Bush Police Cadet volunteers launch speedboat

The Met's Volunteer Police Cadets recently launched a new Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) at the London International Boat Show, with assistance from H.R.H Princess Anne, the President of the Royal Yachting Association. Helping this launch were local Bush Cadets Giorgi Makharashvili, a cadet who lives in Shepherds Bush and local Hammersmith and Fulham cadet George Jolley - both pictured.

The Princess Royal joined DAC Rod Jarman to officially name the boat "London Cadet" during her visit to the show at the Excel Centre on 13 January.

VPC purchased the RIB in order to give cadets access to something incredibly fun and unique, while also learning about team work and discipline required onboard a boat.

All 1,500 cadets across London can earn the right to use the boat after completing an agreed number of volunteering hours. They will also have the opportunity to study for Royal Yachting Association level two qualifications in power boating and radio communications.

Through YOU London (Youth Organisation in Uniform), VPC has also built links with Royal National Lifeboat Institute. This partnership is developing plans for VPC to deliver water safety advice to young people across London. It is hoped that VPC will take part as safety crew at major events such as the Varsity Boat Race and the Olympics in 2012.

Sergeant Philip Ross Martyn, who is in charge of the cadets on Hammersmith & Fulham Borough said:

We at Hammersmith and Fulham Police Cadets are extremely excited about the opportunities that the speed boat offers. We hope to be amongst the first to use it and look forward to offering level 2 power boat courses to deserving cadets. The speed boat is one of the many exciting experiences  that we can offer to young people on the borough aged 14 - 19.

Our Cadets give up their evenings and weekends to work with Police on local and London Wide projects all aimed at increasing Police presence and effectiveness whilst at the same time reducing crime and the fear of crime.

Being a Police Cadet is great fun and an opportunity to meet friends whilst taking part in ongoing training and learning that will be of great benefit to the individual

I welcome applications to join our unit that unlike some in London currently has vacancies.  We meet at Burlington Danes School 1645 - 1900 hours every Wednesday.

Check out the below website or Call Sergeant Ross Martyn on 0208 246 2522 for more information.

Crisis meetings on water works road jam

Anyone who has tried to drive in the Askew, Paddenswick or Seven Stars area in the last few days will have been put off from ever doing so again for as long as the water works are there.

It seems the Council is now prepared to take action way ahead of the deadline for the water works to be completed. Cllr Lucy Ivimy, she of some notoriety, is a local resident. And she's livid. She angrily declares to the Brackenbury Resident's Association:

'It is now apparent to all that the traffic arrangements ... have gone horribly wrong. We shall be having crisis meetings on Monday to try and sort the problem ... we shall take immediate action ... this is not going to continue for nine weeks.'

Tough words, and not likely to be welcomed by Thames Water. The problem she is most angry about is that the roadworks are driving people to use other smaller roads as rat-runs. Including those with people like her living on them. So we'll shortly either be seeing the roadworks packing up and going away ... or a quiet retreat and nothing more from the Council on the matter! Just like the last time Cllr Ivimy spoke in anger.

UPDATE 21 JANUARY - Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Nick Botterill has been in touch, and feels that this article is unfair in that it fails to tell you about the other activities that the Council have been carrying out in trying to manage the impact of these works. So I'm more than happy to oblige, and to quote from Cllr Botterill, you should also be aware that:

"..knowing that massive disruption would result from these works (we actually got the timing shifted till now to try to reduce the cumulative impact with other major works in the area) a lot of work at H&F went into the planning for this. However I concede that the actual signage erected was not great (I believe this was down to the contractor). H&F officers have been on site regularly to assess the impact and have held several meetings to discuss what can be done. My understanding from talking to officers and Cllr Ivimy is that there have been improvements as a result of the changes to signage but that more needs to be done. We are due to discuss further today."

He goes on to say:

"Even though every effort is made to plan for these events and to mitigate the impact something of this scale can’t be carried out without a huge amount of unavoidable disruption"

All sounds fair enough to me and fair play that they've done what they could - but its still the case that the present situation needs sorting. So we wait with baited breath to see what the Council decides at this evening's meeting .. watch this space.

As an aside, Cllr Botterill is the same local politician who responded to another post on this blog last year about the state of Shepherd's Bush Green - and within about 24 hours he'd knocked heads together and got things sorted out. So credit to him again for that and best of luck for this.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

RMT strike to hit Bush

Communist Bob is back in the New Year the same way he finished the old one with yet more threats of strike action to get his members, most of whom are on some of the cushiest numbers in all of London, yet more of our money. This year's excuse is a roster system they are debating with London Underground who, not unreasonably, would like people available to carry out engineering work 24/7. Anyone that has enjoyed "late engineering works" as an excuse will understand why.

But not our Bob. Not without lots more money please. And lets just remind ourselves of what Bob's members are actually like.

Bob says this:

This overwhelming vote for action has shown LUL management that if they think that they can ride roughshod over our terms and conditions then they need to think again. It’s their bully-boy management style which has forced us into this dispute and our members have sent out the clearest possible message that they are not prepared to be beaten into submission.”

LU's chief maintenance officer Phil Hufton says this: 

"We are planning to introduce a roster covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure planned engineering staff are always available. That agreement already exists, but the RMT is trying to tear it up.

"They should stop threatening industrial action at every opportunity."

If you want to get around from the Bush on strike days a really good way I've found is via the Overground - you can get down to Clapham Junction in about 10 mins and from there trains can either take you to Victoria or London Bridge. Or if you get it Northbound it will take you up to Willesden Junction and then on across an arc in North London, near to Camden and through Hackney. It doesnt cut the walking out but it does get you there eventually. Don't bother trying to get a bus on the Green - you won't get on.

New Hotel for the Bush approved

If you go here you'll see a new application which replaces this existing one to replace the Listed Cinema site on the Green next to the Walkabout bar. It has been recommended for approval by officials of the infamous planning committee at their  meeting tonight with a reference of 2009/02635/FUL.

This new application replaces this existing one I reported on last year and would be built on the  Listed Cinema site (next to the Walkabout. As I said at the time it would be replacing a rat infested embarassment that sits mournfully on the Green making the place look untidy. But it is saying goodbye to another piece of Historic Bush, which is a shame.

As we've seen anything that is recommended for approval at the planning committee is now a formality so the only question remains .. when will building start?

Goldhawk Road facelift

The Goldhawk Road is to get the full works. This consultation, which formally opens today, will result in far reaching changes to this part of W12. In fact I get the impression that our Council just can't bear to leave this part of the Bush alone! After recent planning decisions, which united residents in opposition only for them to be overuled in favour of developers, the Council now wants to radically improve both walking and cycling down this big busy road.

Having taken a quick squizz at this information leaflet it looks pretty good to me so much credit to the Council for that. Widened pavements and more pelican crossings can only be a good thing, and if it results in some of the grottier parts of the road being revamped then all the better too. There are some really good restaurants and bars down that Road which would stand to benefit from these improvements - and if we can have more BlaBlaBlas or Rajputs it would make the place even better.

Every time I credit the Council for anything like this I always seem to attract criticism, usually based on unforeseen impacts that residents are worried about, and after all that's the point of blogging - its your space as much as mine. But surely there can't be any down side to this little package of measures can there?!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Drugs arrests in Becklow Gardens‏

On Wednesday 13th January Askew Safer Neighbourhoods Team, Hammersmith & Fulham Drug Squad, officers from the Territorial Support Group and dog section executed a warrant at an address in Uxbridge Road, W12 near to the junction with Becklow Gardens.

Intelligence was gathered on the address and as a result of this a warrant to enter and search the premises/occupants was granted by a local court.

A total of five arrests were made at the venue including:

  • 21 year-old male for Possession with Intent to supply drugs and money laundering offences

  • 22 year-old male for suspected Possession of a Class B Drug, cash was also seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act

  • 24 year-old male for suspected Possession of both Class A & Class B Drugs

  • 30 year-old male for Immigration Offences

A further 50 wraps of suspected Class A Drugs were found hidden in a communal area, total street value of the seizure believed to be in the region of £2,000. Enquiries are still ongoing.

PC Gethin Jones from the Askew Safer Neighbourhoods Team said, " This is a substantial find amongst a group of local males, which has caused misery to the local residents and businesses.  Our actions will hopefully prevent further drug dealing taking place on the streets of Shepherds Bush as well as reducing Anti-Social Behaviour."

I think I speak for all of us when I say this is fantastic work - and huge credit to the police for this excellent result.

Roadwork danger on Uxbridge Rd

The by-now ubiquitous roadworks which either paralyse or just get in the way of everything all around W12 have claimed another victim.

This time a child's pram which I saw at the bottom of a trench on Uxbridge Road the other day. I hope no-one was actually hurt, but a timely warning nonetheless.

Quite often when I walk past these things the barriers are either blown over or not there at all, while yesterday they had parked a mini digger over a big hole in the road instead of having any barriers at all!


Monday, 18 January 2010

Briatore attacks QPR fans

Strange man of sport Briatore has attacked QPR fans for criticising his reign, claiming that those who only "pay twenty pounds" have no right to raise questions about the twists and turns the club has taken under his leadership.

I'm a little bit lost for words to be honest - it seems to be two fingers time from the man in purple shades. I would imagine this gesture is likely to be returned from the stands come the weekend.

The end for Bush propaganda?

You will all have had yer first edition of the new free Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle through the door over the week-end, and what a refreshing change it was to see some actual news journalism on the pages, as compared to the Council propaganda sheet which you pay for "H&F News" and even other Conservatives criticise as blatant propaganda which shouldn't be allowed.

Writing in the virgin pages of this new venture into local independent media Council Leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh says this:

IT’S great news the Chronicle is going free and now available to as wide an audience possible.

We have a fantastically vibrant place in Hammersmith & Fulham, a borough which the vast majority of people are enormously proud to live in.

As a council, we are working tirelessly to make what we have  already got even better. That is why we have more town centre police, our streets are cleaner, our parks are among the best in London and we have maintained weekly refuse collections.

Our schools have seen incredible improvements thanks to the hard work of pupils, teachers, headteachers and governors.

We have also been proud recently to open the fantastic new Shepherd’s Bush library which is one of London’s finest.

All this has been achieved while planning to cut council tax for the fourth year in a row by a further three per cent. A vibrant, dynamic borough such as H&F deserves a vibrant, dynamic local media and that is why the fact the Chronicle is now available to more readers is such good news.

Hang on, is this the same Cllr Greenhalgh that slapped me down at this Borough Summit for daring to ask that the Council stops funding a propaganda sheet and supports the local media?! It is certainly the same Cllr Greenhalgh who could stop hoovering up all the local advertising revenue that nearly forced the Chronicle into bankruptcy just a year or so ago.

And it will certainly be the same Cllr Greenhalgh who now faces the prospect of being referred to the Office for Fair Trading by the Government, following this debate in parliament last week during which politicans from all political parties condemned the practice of making political propaganda appear as if it is a genuine newspaper - and charging residents for the priviledge.

Could this be the end for H&F News, or Pravda as it is better known? We wait and see.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

QPR: Paul Hart gone, hope extinguished

Remember this? That's how I felt at the start of the season, full of hope, mixed with anticipation. Even after this, the first game of the season, I wasn't completely despondent.

I long stopped making deposits into the Bank of Briatore after, among other things, they kept sacking managers, spending in poundsavers for players and admiring the activities of one Adolf Hitler. But even so yesterday's news that they have lost yet another manager after only a few games sums it up. What is the point of the Strange Twins and will we do any better than not get relegated?

Friday, 15 January 2010

Tenants lobby Government for right to own estates

Eighty residents of several estates who feel threatened by our Council's plans to redevelop them came together in Parliament this week, together with two Government ministers and our MP Andy Slaughter.  At a highly-charged meeting at the House of Commons, social housing residents from across Hammersmith & Fulham declared their intention to stand shoulder to shoulder together against the council's plans.

The meeting was addressed by Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham, Housing Minister John Healey and Minister for London Tessa Jowell. John Denham told the eighty residents' representatives present that they were in the vanguard of the battle for decent affordable homes in the UK, and that a Tory government would spread Hammersmith & Fulham's policies across the country.

Last year plans by the Council to, in their words 'redevelop' housing but in many residents' view to 'demolish' their homes were revealed by Andy Slaughter MP who obtained details under the Freedom of Information Act.

Residents responded by declaring they would stay in their homes and in the case of West Kensington and Gibbs Green are using new Government legislation to take ownership of their estates, having recently served the Council with a "Notice to Quit" as a rogue landlord. Housing Minister Healey said this is the first time that tenants have come together to use the legislation.

The meeting also  heard speeches from Hammersmith & Fulham Opposition Leader, Stephen Cowan, GLA member Nicky Gavron, housing consultant Jonathan Rosenberg who is advising the tenants, Les Jackson of White City Estate, Maureen Way of West Kensington Estate and Desiree Briscoe-Mcleary of Queen Caroline Estate.

Andy Slaughter said: 'Today Boris Johnson is falsely claiming to have increased the number of affordable homes in London. But, as in Hammersmith & Fulham, any new affordable homes were approved by the previous Labour administration.  The Tories' true attitude to low-cost homes is shown by their demolition and disposals policy in councils like Hammersmith, Kensington and Westminster. If a Cameron Government follows the advice of his town hall proteges by ending security of tenure and raising rents to market levels, the future of four million families across the UK is at risk.'
It was perfectly clear at Cameron's recent meeting here that housing was going to be a dominant theme at the election and this sort of action by those who feel their homes are in the firing line is only going to make it even more so. The fact that Labour wheeled out so many Ministers to address the meeting shows they feel this is a strong card in their favour, and the turnout of eighty residents would indicate that there are an awful lot of angry residents who feel the same.

Shaun Bailey interviewed

Shaun Bailey, our Tory candidate for the Hammersmith constituency which includes the Bush, has been profiled here in Total Politics magazine.

As the election draws closer I will try to feature any interviews or profiles of either Andy Slaughter, Shaun Bailey or Merlene Emerson. And watch this space for some interviews of my own.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bush Tories picket Tube

..OK good workout, now got to get to the Tube .. crap it's raining hard ..  maybe I won't be as late as I think..will there still be a Metro left for the ride .. COUNCIL TAX DOWN! VOTE CONSERVATIVE! .. eh what?!

An everyday morning in the Bush now there's an election coming and the Tories are targeting us with the air war plus ground troops hard. The latest copy of propaganda-dressed-as-news dropped through your letterbox yesterday packed with at least three articles I spotted last night as being either misleading or one-sided (I'll be fisking them next week for your delectation). That's the air war you see - mass delivery of propaganda at our expense, disguised as a newspaper which even their fellow Tories describe as propaganda. And let's not forget those North Korea style posters hung all over the borough either, which proclaim the Utopia we all now inhabit.

Then, having been softened up by the air campaign, we are hit with the crack ground troops handing out the pictured leaflet for us to read on the tube. The tube workers must have been thanking their lucky stars as lots of discarded leaflets started to litter the platforms downstairs, posing a potential health & safety issue near the edge of the platform.

But what about their message? It's all about the dosh. 1,200 pounds of it to be precise. That's the saving made to residents, on average, by the four years since we elected a Conservative council in H&F. And to be fair they have a point - that has been an achievement which they quite rightly now use to illustrate their record. Labour accuse them of having cut vital services to achieve this, the latest example being the gritting service which has seemed to be non-existent locally throughout the ice.

But more of this you can surely expect - or are you tired of it already?!

Askew library turns mail provider

The library on Askew Road will be providing a Royal Mail collection service from March 15th this year, following a complete refurb of the entire library taking place over February. The news is a joint project between our Council and Royal Mail, who are closing this complete joke of a mail collection office, which I had the misfortune to have to use in December.

The library itself is having nearly £90K spent on its flooring, counters and general upkeep in the process - but having used it before, I do wonder whether any of that money will contribute to any new books, many of which are quite shabby.

But good news, and coming after some recent other good news for the Askew Road, things are looking up for this often overlooked part of the Bush.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Hole in Shepherd's Bush!

No, it's not the state of our roads, its the rock band led by former wife of Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain (before he shot himself).

Her notorious band will be playing, for the first time live for 11 years, at the Empire on February 17th and there are apparently tickets left. Don't take your granny.

More details here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Car destroyed by water pipe!

Quite funny unless you're the car owner ... coming back from Hammersmith last night I noticed that there was loads of water streaming across Wormholt Road, thought nothing more of it. Yet this morning walking back down the same road I noticed a mini fountain erupting underneath a parked silver car and the same floods of water still streaming down the drain!

It was dark so I didnt take a picture but the poor owner of this car has had a fountain under his car, pressing on the bottom of his chassis, for about 12 hours! Thames Water litigation department should prepare for a bill...

UPDATE - 13th December - Car gone. Fountain not. Our new water feature on Wormholt Road has now been pumping out drinking water at prodigious rates for a full 48 hours. It has fully ruptured the road surface which will now need to be relaid at our expense. Will Thames Water be referring to this in their next letter to residents urging them to fit water meters? We wait and see.

Jason McPherson: Police cleared of death

Police have been cleared of killing a Shepherd's Bush man.The Independent Police Complaints Commission, IPCC, have exonerated Shepherd's Bush Police for the death of Jason McPherson, 25 and of East Acton, who died in police custody after having been arrested for suspected drugs offences along with two other men in a car on the Edward Woods Estate, W11. He was indeed carrying drugs and when the police saw that he had a wrap of cocaine in his mouth they tried to force it open using blows to the head and chest. He died soon afterwards at Notting Hill Police Station.

His distraught mother, Sandra, gave this interview to the Voice newspaper at the time and there were numerous accusations of violence against the police. It is after all not the first time someone has died in custody under such circumstances.

The IPCC basically came to the view that although the Police should have tried to talk Jason into giving up the drugs package in his mouth before using force, their subsequent actions were in line with both their training and what was considered reasonable force in the circumstances. You can read their full judgement here.

I've lived in this area for years and I've only ever seen one incident when someone appeared to be dealing drugs. I do however always remember once walking down Uxbridge Road last year, in full daylight but at about 6am, only to see about 15 riot police come storming out of Shepherd's Bush police station and into a road on the opposite side off Uxbridge Road. Two or three loud explosions later I got to that road and asked an officer what was going on - it was a drugs raid on a house. And the explosions had been stun grenades, "..cause we dunno what we're gonna find on the other side of that door" he explained

It's a side of the Bush that most of us don't see very often but often lurks in dark corners, which is presumably why the police regularly raid Shepherd's Bush Market for the same reason. And on balance I think the IPCC have probably got it right - he was carrying drugs and could have swallowed it instead which would also likely have killed him if the bag had split. But before we just dismiss Jason as just another drug dealer have a look at this site - his memorial which was set up by friends and family. At the end of the day he was a victim as well. There are no winners.

Monday, 11 January 2010

New Health Centre for White City

Canberra Centre for Health has opened its doors, on South Africa Road at long last and after a great deal of controversy. Built on what used to be a school playground the centre now offers specialist interventions for local conditions that particularly affect the population, such as diabetes. You might think that running around in a playground was quite a good way of avoiding diabetes among children but not Geoff Alltimes, NHS Hammersmith and Fulham Chief Executive, who said:

“Canberra Centre for Health represents a significant investment in the health, wellbeing and future of the entire White City community.

“The centre has a unique relationship with the local community in that it has been designed with the help of residents to make sure it gives them what they want from their local NHS.  

“For example, there will specific sessions in languages which are widely spoken in White City, longer consultation times for every appointment, services tailored to conditions which are more prevalent in the area like diabetes. 

“We are proud of this new development and I am confident we will see real improvement in the health of the whole community as a result.”

I was particularly struck by this advert (pictured) that the same local health authority placed this summer aimed squarely at W12 yoof who seem to have some really quite serious health issues of their own if the advert is anything to go by. So I wish them luck. And await with interest what is going to be built on this old health site as well.

In additon to a Health Centre a new dental centre has been opened on the same site too. More information here.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Dangerous vehicles ply Shepherd's Bush Fair

The last great diesel belching lorries and caravans were trundling off the Green this week-end, churning even the permafrosted ground as they went, having been a nice little earner for the Council but not exciting much interest from the hard-to-please locals of the Bush. In my several posts on this fair, this year and last, I've asked questions about the clear-up operation that never seems to follow - just look here.

But what now of the state of the lorries they use?

You can clearly see from this lorry that his MOT date is now well over a year overdue. He cares so little about this that he's even prepared to display it on the back of his cab.

Does our Council carry out any checks on these people - or do they just focus on their cheques?


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Woman robbed in W12 centre

Coming down the escalators from the gym at about 1120 this morning I saw one of our finest local morons running out of the doors with a shrieking woman running after him. Cue the local crowd of oglers with precious few offering to help, perhaps with this in mind, save for one other person who flagged down two passing police cars. But to be honest by the time they'd done that the moron was well on his way towards the Uxbridge Road. Hope they catch him, but I doubt it. Depressing. If any of you were also there and know any more do pass it on.

Friday, 8 January 2010

New freesheet for the Bush

Is this the end for propaganda-dressed-as-news, the tax-payer funded propaganda sheet produced by H&F Council?

Trinity Mirror, which publishes the long-struggling Hammersmith & Fulham Chronicle, has followed the lead of many other papers in London and will be a freesheet distributed door to door throughout our Borough from Friday 15th January.

Regular readers will recall my frequent commentary on the dire state of local independent media in this Borough and the frankly shameless attempts by the Council to present one-sided and biased reports that show them in a good light but have little to do with the facts. My questioning of Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of the Council, about whether he would support genuinely independent media in the Borough received the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face with a wet fish. Now he faces a much bigger challenge - a paper that actually reports the news - and not his views.

Good luck Hammersmith & Fulham Chronicle! Just in time for the elections...

Bushers call Boris' fare rises 'cold turkey'

Nice little video from a bus worker and member of the Unite trade union filmed in and around the Bush with local people voicing their opinions - happy snowy weekend!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Recession Bush: fantastic news on Askew Road

As I struggled down the Askew Road with a young whippersnapper today on the way to school, trying to avoid what felt like the inevitable slip on the ice, I saw a fantastic sight which I wanted to share with you all. Regular readers will remember this post when I reported the closure of Wine Rack on Askew Road, with the chain having been driven over the edge and administrators having taken over. All jobs were lost. At the time many of you voiced your concern for Mallek who ran the branch.

Well look who'se just bought the shop from the administrators and will now be running it as an independent shop! No doubt bringing just a bit of employment back to the road and the community - seriously well done to him. Huge credit due. And I shall be popping in for a bottle of yer finest spirits some time soon, as I hope will you.

Cameron mocked by Brown for Hammersmith comments

In all the sound and fury of yesterday's events one thing got overlooked about the day's procedings in Westminster, which was a comment that David Cameron made at the Hammersmith meeting I blogged on here was brought up at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. A young man asked Cameron towards the end of the event what his stance was on Educational Maintenance Allowance and whether he would support its continuation. Cameron basically said he didn't know, saying that they were lokking at it but were, in his words, "in a state of flux" on the issue.

He was of course giving a straight and probably a bit too much of an honest answer but it was thrown back at him by Gordon Brown in the House of Commons yesterday as evidence of a lack of policy on an important area. So there we are folks, we made the news!

H&F Council up for "Council of the Year"

Our esteemed Council has been nominated for the "Council of the Year" award by the Local Government Chronicle, which is a publication that is the local government equivalent of a computer geek magazine! Our Council have proudly announced their nomination, with Council Leader Cllr Stephen Greenhlagh adding:

"Being nominated for LGC Council of the Year is a fantastic accolade and a result of the hard work of everyone at H&F Council in delivering exceptionally high quality services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.

"The mistake some people make is believing that higher tax equals better services and that lower tax means cutting services - it does not. Our aim is to continue proving that councils can deliver more for less."

There are two things I find interesting about this. Firstly, the announcement of the winner is due on March 24th 2010 - just one month before next May's elections when the Conservatives will be trying to keep control of H&F Council. They would obviously (and quite rightly) trumpet this as part of their election campaign if they are awarded top prize. The second thing is the contrast between the way Stephen Greenhalgh is delighted to welcome this external ranking of H&F's services but chose to speak out against the Audit Commission for having the cheek to carry out it's own ranking of H&F's services - which is what it is there to do!

Speaking about the tiresome Audit Commission's inquiries into the way H&F delivers services to residents the same Stephen Greenhalgh said:

“Who cares what some Audit Commission bureaucrat sat in their ivory tower thinks of services in Hammersmith & Fulham? In all my years as council Leader I can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked what rating the Audit Commission gives the council."

Well yes, Cllr Greenhalgh, but how many fingers on that same hand would count the number of times you have been asked about the Local Government Chronicle's assessment of local authorities and where Hammersmith & Fulham stands in that assessment? Not a burning issue on the doorstep I would have thought.

The difference is that the Local Government Chronicle is a geek's magazine read by geeks while the Audit Commission is a statutory body that safeguards taxpayers money and assesses real-life service delivery. I know which one as a tax payer I care more about. Good luck with the awards though.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Barbecue summer? Snow drift winter?

Well it was something of a no-snow-show this morning on the walk down Uxbridge Road, dusted as it was with a light covering of the white stuff and just a few patches of ice. Those boys at the Met Office really are good aren't they?!

H&F Council have released this update on the snow situation as it is affecting our borough, but the headline seems to be 'not much'. One primary school is closed but everything else running as normal. Check back for updates here but I think we can just put this down to some over-excitable Met Office bods once again.

Shepherd's Bush Market: have your say

The new plans I reported on here for our Market are available to view at - you can leave comments there too.

I still think that it's an excellent idea to grow the market, it's proposed to expand eastwards, but several of you have been in touch to warn of the potential impact on housing and knock-on planning implications for residents. To be perfectly honest I don't have a handle on what those implications might be, but it already looks like its shaping up to be another planning battle.

I understand that many of the existing Market traders fear that the Council have plans to hike the rents as part of the redevelopment - the Council's opponents say this is part of an agenda to drive them out and perhaps installing what they might view as a 'higher class' of trader. I can see the logic but I don't see any evidence to support that at this stage so on balance I give the Council the benefit of the doubt.

The fact that there is doubt however is a mark of the level of distrust that the Council has created with recent planning decisions that have been directly against residents express wishes, most notably the Goldhawk Block and 282 Goldhawk Road.

You can also find out more and have your say at events taking place at the old Shepherds Bush Library today (Wednesday) 4.30-8pm; Friday, 8 January, 1-4.30pm; Saturday, 9 January, 9.30am-1pm, Monday, 11 January, 4.30-8pm; and Wednesday, 13 January, 1-4.30pm.  I'll probably be along on the 9th in the morning and report back after then.

The closing date for consultation is Monday, 18 January. Whatever happens it looks set to change the face of one of the most well known parts of the Bush.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cameron "proud" of H&F Council - and watching polls

Over 200 people packed into a church hall this evening to hear the Conservative Party Leader David Cameron answer questions directly from an audience of local people, from which Tory party members were actually excluded. Overall the event has to go down as a success, if only for getting 200 folk out of their houses on a freezing cold night to sit in a church. A feat most churches can only dream of! It should also be noted that there were  people from various housing associations protesting outside as the first snows of the night came down. Now there's dedication. Highlights for me were:

  • Cameron said he was here because this was a seat they needed to win - he was only doing these events he said in target seats and that the people in the hall and in halls in parliamentary seats like it, had the power not only to return a Conservative MP but a Conservative Government. He made no apology for that, he said.

  • A reference to Stephen Greenhalgh's claim that his Cabinet could not, in our esteemed Council Leader's opinion, "run a piss up in a brewery", quipping that he'd done several of these 'Cameron Direct' events in breweries, but this hadn't been considered apt for Hammersmith! The venerable Cllr Greenhalgh was nowhere to be seen.

  • Cameron said he supported residents of local estates who, so angered by the Council's proposed redevelopment of their homes, have launched a bid to oust the council as a 'rogue landlord'! He said he supported the legislation that allowed them to do so but that he thought the Council had been doing the right thing in trying to improve housing stock

  • In fact Cameron, in response to some persistent questioning from a number of residents about various planning decisions made and yet to be made, said that he was "proud" of the Council and highlighted that they had delivered consistent tax cuts in a recession, had achieved successive improvements in residents satisfaction surveys and had been upgraded from a three to a four star council by the Audit Commission. (The same Audit Commission of which Stephen Greenhalgh recently said "“Who cares what some Audit Commission bureaucrat sat in their ivory tower thinks of services in Hammersmith & Fulham? In all my years as council Leader I can count on one hand the number of times I have been asked what rating the Audit Commission gives the council.")

  • He went on to state that if anything he wanted stronger local authorities doing more and had plans to introduce more City Mayors

  • Cameron also won warm applause for coming down hard on the Heathrow third runway, which he vowed "will not happen under a Conservative government"

Opened by local candidate Shaun Bailey, the event was chaired by Cameron himself, supported only by a glass of water and a couple of backdrops. And in fairness to him he received and dealt with the hard time that he must have been briefed to expect from the various housing association residents that had turned up to challenge the leader over decisions like this. Faced with persistent questioning from the likes of Maxine Bayliss from the 'Hands Off Our Queen Caroline Homes' campaign, who contrasted what she said were the plans to drive people out of their homes with Cameron's talk of 'compassionate conservatism', Cameron went on the attack. He mounted a strong defence of the Council and accused Labour of putting out "black propaganda" (yes he did say that) which had no basis in fact. He said that not only had the Conservatives built twice as many social houses as the previous Labour administration, but he stated repeatedly that he was 'proud' of their record. Then he went further and issued a challenge. Democracy was a wonderful thing he said, we're in an election year - why don't you stand yourselves? Stand against those councillors with whom you disagree!

Challenged by one questioner on what she thought had been a 'wobble' in the Conservative's opposition to the third runway at Heathrow, Cameron cut the end of her question off with a blunt declaration of "Not happening. No. No third runway under a Conservative government. No wobble, not even a wibble." Cue more applause, goodness this man's good, he quite obviously knows it and no prizes for guessing who he would like you to contrast that with.

And just to rub that last point in there were frequent references to, yes you guessed it, Blair! From taking his suit jacket off "excuse me if I do a Tony Blair", through to "I thought Blair was just getting the hang of it before he went". Mr Cameron was on form.

Back into defending the Council again Mr Cameron was challenged by one elderly gentleman who charged Hammersmith Tories with having broken their election promise not to introduce charges to vital services for the most vulnerable. This he said had indeed happened, to the extent that some of the poorest in society were being charged upwards of £12 for services like Meals on Wheels while over a thousand other people had been arbitrarily disqualified from receiving the services altogether. The angry man said that this meant the poorest were paying more for less in Hammersmith and subsidising the much-trumpeted tax cuts that had benefited the more well-off. Cameron was having none of this and flatly disagreed with the man, repeating his pride in the Council and challenging critics to not only criticise but stand in the forthcoming elections.

By now in his stride, punctuating his words with sweeping statesmanlike gestures, Mr Cameron got a little carried away as he emphatically declared: "politicians who say they don't look at the polls..bullshit! of course they do! we all do!" Cue some nervous giggling and glances from the Conservative Head Office wonks standing at the back. But they needn't have worried, the audience loved it, he's certainly looking at the polls in Hammersmith.

Finally, for me at least, I found Cameron's declaration that he wanted more City Mayors quite interesting. In fact my reading of his defence of Hammersmith & Fulham Council's controversial approach to planning decisions was basically "look, at least they're getting things done, and you shouldn't believe everything Labour say. And if you really don't like it why don't you get involved yourself?"

Some people standing outside in the freezing cold did just that, with the event taking place against a backdrop of whistles and a (light) police presence. Those affected by the Council's plans to redevelop housing and those that fear they are next joined forces with disability campaigners to make their criticisms heard. That they did, and they'll no doubt be heard again, but tonight has to be said to have been a success for Cameron, and of course he will hope Shaun Bailey.

I spoke to Shaun just after the meeting and will be posting on that later, together with a fuller interview with both him, Andy Slaughter MP and the Liberal Democrat candidate Merlene Emerson in the coming weeks and months as election day draws nearer, the result of which will shape the future of Shepherd's Bush. Watch this space.

But for now it's late and the snow's coming down. Night night.


Tube and bus fare rises: what of route 266?

Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced in October and brought into force this week inflation busting fare increases. It will now cost you a whopping 12.7% more to travel on buses and nearly 4% on the tube. Bad as this is, in fact in my humble opinion given the recession its unforgiveable, what will this mean for our favourite bus route, the never-to-be-seen 266?

In fairness to our Council they too routinely slam the service, but they don't seem to have anything to say about these latest rises on their website.

Having had to swerve to avoid one on the Askew Road just the other day (they seem to be driven by complete maniacs) I was less amazed at the apalling driving and more shocked that I'd actually seen one at all. Will the money that will now not be paying mortgages and keeping families afloat and instead flooding into TfL coffers be going anywhere near this disgrace of a service? I think we can guess.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Goldhawk Road residents warn of protest on Cameron visit

The residents affected by this planning decision which was rushed through before Christmas are clearly in a mood to fight back. They have set up a local campaigning site on facebook, curiously called the 'Hammersmith Grapevine'. On that site the residents accuse our Council, which of course is conservative, of rushing the decision through against their wishes in order to facillitate this forthcoming visit of David Cameron to launch Shaun Bailey's election campaign. Ominously, they say:
Ah...... now it all becomes clear! David Cameron is to kick off his general election campaign with an open meeting in Hammersmith to persuade residents of the progressive, green credentials of the Conservative Party - and to help get Shaun Bailey elected.

Of course they couldn't risk the strong local opposition to this very obviously anti-green and un-progressive development spoiling this key event. So they pushed it through in December presumably hoping it might all have blown over by the time of his visit.

Think again..........

It will be interesting to see what happens at Cameron's visit - cameras at the ready!

A resident's petition, numbering nearly 400, was handed to local councillors in opposition to the proposed redevelopment of green land right next to their homes into what the Council are calling in marketing speak a 'Mediterrenean Village' - or if you prefer plain English a 'high density housing block' which will make developers and therefore the Council lots of money.

Andy Slaughter MP has vowed to respond to any resident's request for help in getting the decision 'called in' (i.e. halted) by central government. But given the time we have left before the election I can't see this happenning.

More likely to happen, and I am absolutely not telling anyone how to vote, is that Shaun Bailey will find it ever harder to pick up the votes of people like these who he needs in order to win the newly created Hammersmith constituency.  Shaun Bailey has not attacked this decision by the Council as he did their decision on the Goldhawk Block here. And yet  David Cameron needs to win this seat in order to form the next UK government. So its high stakes to local residents - and to big time politicians - and actually all of us who live in the Bush, because you can be sure a similar planning decision may be coming to your part of the Bush some time this space!