Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shaun Bailey: top of British politics!

David Cameron is making a speech at the moment in Brighton, at the Conservative spring party conference.

Making the point that the Conservatives have more ethnic minority candidates this time around he quoted our very own Shaun Bailey as evidence of that .. saying that a young black British boy could look at Shaun " the top of British politics" and think that he could get on.

So there you are!

Seven Stars roadworks: A resident writes

Jonathan Prynn, Consumer Affairs Editor of the Evening Standard, is a local resident affected by the roadworks which are still causing almighty snarl ups in W12. I should know, coming back in a taxi from Hammersmith the other day I spent at least £2.50 more waiting for those lights to change. Mr Prynn however has the greater misfortune of living on one of the rat runs the roadworks have caused.

He says this:

"..yesterday afternoon, I sat in my front room with the proverbial clipboard and recorded the number of unwelcome internal combustion engines invading my space. In the 60 minutes from 4.30 to 5.30pm I was astonished to count 219 cars, 40 vans, 19 taxis or minicabs, 22 motorbikes and three heavy lorries. A total of more than 300 vehicles all told. In a single hour, in a narrow short street that Usain Bolt could run the length of in less than ten seconds. I should think in normal conditions we get about one tenth of that, perhaps a car every two minutes.

I would estimate that around half the wheeled intruders were exceeding the 20 mph speed limit, several drivers were illegally using mobile phones, three or four more sounded their horns when the traffic flow got snarled up and there were a number of audible uses of that driver's default salutation "get out of the f*****g way" or equivalent. Earlier in the day I was appalled by the speed at which cars were moving while kids were flooding the street on their way to three nearby primary schools.

Given that this traffic tide starts before 7am and does not let up until gone 11pm, that's around 5000 cars, vans and lorries a day, seven days a week. Over the 60 plus days of the works ( assuming it finishes on times on 13 March) we will have had around 300,000 vehicles down our street, perhaps a quarter of a million more than we could have expected."

Now read on

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Tax cut for fourth year in row











You'll probably be aware that our Council has announced that tax is to be cut for the fourth year in a row. How could you not be aware of this fact, they've been spending so much of our money hoisting banners all over the Borough to tell us about it! (Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh is pictured here in a fetching pose with two of the said banners)

There has been a lot of sound and fury about this, with accusations that services to the most vulnerable are being cut and made too expensive so that the rest of us can save a few extra quid. That's a fair point, but you also have to give the Council some credit for this as well. In a recession its not an easy thing to do, and however irritating their constant propagandising is, fair play to the Council for achieving it, it will make a difference to a lot of people in the Borough.

Council Leader Greenhalgh says this:

Some people make the mistake of believing that cutting council tax bills must result in cutting services. It does not. Our savings come from removing waste and bureaucracy. We are slashing our historic debt, introducing competition to services and selling underused assets that we no longer need.”

We are spending £1.8 million a year to put more police on the streets. We are making our streets cleaner – with 93 per cent meeting Tidy Britain standards. We have improved refuse and recycling collections and parks. We have also opened the first new library in the borough for 40 years at virtually no cost to the taxpayer.”

I would bring you a quote from Opposition Leader Stephen Cowan but he hasn't updated his blog - you would think that this would merit even a quick article but apparently not!

UPDATE 2nd March - the Liberal Democrats have been in touch to share their own analysis of this Council's budget, and the tax cuts. As far as they're concerned its a "short term bribe". You can read it here.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Back in town

Well, we're back in business. I've just arrived back in the Bush after a touch-and-go flight that almost didn't leave NYC last night after snow fall the like of which I have never thought possible. As I was leaving the snow was so heavy it was causing trees to topple under its weight, tragically killing one man in central park. The snow ploughs were out on all - yes all - the roads though and traffic didn't stop that I could see in the city at all. Think we could manage that?

There's a lot to catch up on so sorry for my lack of attention to the blog over the last week - sometimes other things have to come first.

We've had the Council promising us another tax cut, the Foreign Secretary in town and much much more. Some serious tapping of my keyboard awaits you lucky lucky people..

Police appeal: girl robbed on 260 bus

Hammersmith & Fulham Police are appealing for witnesses in relation to an allegation of robbery on a route 260 bus in Shepherds Bush.

Date: 28.1.2010
Time: 1445hrs
Location: Route 260 bus Uxbridge Road,W12 between Askew Road & Becklow Gardens

On the above date a 14 -year old female was robbed of her mobile phone on the upper deck of a route 260 bus (location shown above) that would have eventually terminated at Golders Green. When the victim asked for help from fellow passengers, a female passenger retrieved the phone from the suspect's pocket and handed it back to the victim. Police are appealing for this passenger and any other potential witnesses to contact police with a view to identifying the suspect concerned. If anyone can assist they are asked to contact Detective Constable Bronwyn Meyer at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2504 or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 55111.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Vote for me: Andy Slaughter MP

In the last of our series of interviews with the main candidates for our consituency at the General Election, we come to our sitting Member of Parliament Andy Slaughter. 

Andy’s family moved to the borough in the 1880s.  He was born in Fulham in 1960 and attended Peterborough Primary School in Clancarty Road.  At 11, he went to Latymer Upper School in King Street, and then to Exeter University, 1979-82. 

For the next eight years Andy lived in Fulham and had a series of jobs, working in libraries around the borough and at Fulham Town Hall.  He worked for the British Safety Council, a charity based in Hammersmith Broadway, and for the BBC at the old Lime Grove studios.  He also worked for some commercial PR firms and in Parliament for two years as a researcher for Michael Meacher MP, when he was in the Shadow Cabinet.

Andy saved up to go to law school and after three years training became a barrister in 1993, practising from Bridewell Chambers in Blackfriars.  From general criminal and civil law he moved on to specialise in personal injury and housing law.  Andy stopped practising when he was elected MP for Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush in 2005.

In 1983 he joined the Fulham Labour Party and in 1986 was elected a councillor for Gibbs Green Ward (later North End) in West Kensington, a seat he held for the next 20 years.  Andy was elected deputy leader of our council in 1991 and leader in 1996, stepping down in 2005.

For almost 20 years Andy was a director of Broadway, the charity for the single homeless, and on the board of Hammersmith & Fulham Community Law Centre and he remains a governor of William Morris Sixth Form in Baron’s Court, which he helped set up in 1993.

In 1998, Andy moved to live off the Askew Road in Shepherds Bush.

The interview follows:

Why do you want to be re-elected MP for Shepherd’s Bush?

An MP’s primary job is to stand up for their constituents, individually and collectively.  That means helping with housing or employment problems on the one hand and challenging developers or councils when they won’t listen on the other.  And in Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush, the work never stops.

I love this area and the people here and I know it backwards.  I also like work: I rarely take a holiday or a day off.  So the job and I fit.  I hope I have learnt from the five years I have been an MP and can continue  to make a difference to this community in the years to come.

What background knowledge and experience can you use on behalf of the Bush?

I have a road by road, estate by estate knowledge of Shepherds Bush, the product of 25 years activity here, especially when running the council.  Two examples.  I was able to tell Wendell Park school last Christmas that there was about half a million pounds owing to them from the developer who built Factory Quarter in Larden Road.  The Council had the money but had ‘forgotten’ to tell the governors of the school. 

Public transport used to be lousy here. I helped negotiate the new stations and bus stations as part of the Westfield package, but I also negotiated to stop the tram, provide extra buses when Westfield was being built and to re-route the 228 away from narrow residential streets (a topic dear to this blog).  Now for the 266.  

What do you see as the key issues facing Shepherd’s Bush in the next 5 years and what will you do about them?

People live in Shepherds Bush because they like the shops and restaurants on the Uxbridge Road, the Market, Ginglik, the mazy pattern of streets, the local pubs, the mixture of every tenure and style of housing, plus shops and light industry in a single street.

I believe all this is threatened by town planners who combine lack of imagination with a political agenda that would sweep away every thing that makes us quirky and distinctive and replace it with what is uniform and makes money.  The whole of White City and the Green is now one giant ‘Opportunity Area’ and the Tory council has declared it open season for developers.  I think we – the people who live here - should decide on the future of Shepherds Bush, not Tory councillors and candidates who do not.   

There have been a number of very controversial planning decisions in Shepherd’s Bush and the local area recently, such as 282 Goldhawk Road and the ‘Goldhawk Block’. What are your views on those decisions and what do you think could be done differently to avoid a lot of unhappy local people?

With residents and local Labour councillors, I applied successfully to have the Goldhawk Industrial Estate called into a public inquiry. We have made the same request for 282-288 Goldhawk Road and are awaiting the Secretary of State’s decision.  Normally schemes of this size would go nowhere near the government, but the utter failure to consult residents and the outrageous nature of the applications – both density and design – mean the government has had to intervene. 

Planning is a quasi–judicial process, but that has been perverted in Hammersmith & Fulham to secure the political and financial aims of the council.  These are only two of at least a dozen equally inappropriate schemes in the pipeline or already approved.  The only solution is a change of administration at the town hall in May.

What are your views on the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Council’s campaign against locating the entry to the tunnel within the Borough?

The council has promoted the rumours that the Tunnel is unnecessary, would automatically lead to building works in parks and that it would destroy housing.  All are false.  The other 12 riparian boroughs, the Mayor and the government are cooperating with Thames Water to find an acceptable route for the Tunnel, which might well avoid Hammersmith all together.  If it transpires that Thames Water do wish to intrude on open space in Hammersmith (which will simply be to save money or make their job easier) I will be the first to lie in front of the bulldozer, but we are very far from any such proposal and the council’s stupid PR stunts on this issue are not worthy of a public body which we fund; nor is their lack of interest in the ruinous pollution of the Thames.

A number of local businesses have closed in the Bush recently, including a local pub on Askew Road this week. What would you do as a local and national figure to regenerate the local economy?

As the Chronicle illustrated last week it is not just one business that has gone under in Askew Road.  As it is my local shopping street I am painfully aware of the half-dozen businesses that have closed in the past year.  The finger is pointed at Westfield, and they should certainly do more to be a good neighbour and support local small businesses.  But secondary shopping areas like Askew Road have been in trouble for some time.  They don’t have the pull of bigger centres like King Street and they have the greedy council which takes money from parking charges and traffic cameras and thereby discourages shoppers .

When I ran the council we had a proposal to use some of the surplus from parking income (now running to tens of millions)  to regenerate eight local shopping areas, including Askew Road.  The Tories scrapped this: they should revive it before we become a ghost town.

Do you think there is enough affordable housing in Shepherd’s Bush at the moment, and what would you do on this issue if you were re-elected?


The council controls the housing mix in Shepherds Bush.  It can bid for government grant to build council homes or to fund housing associations – it has asked for none.  It can give permission to social landlords for affordable homes – it allows none.  It can improve and maintain its own stock, using the £290 million of government funds through decent homes - it plans the demolition of 2,500 of these newly-renovated homes in Shepherds Bush alone to make way for private residential and commercial development.


This is a shocking record unequalled anywhere else in the UK – and cynically the Tory party uses its mouthpiece H&FNews and its own substantial funds to pretend this is not happening.  This policy alone is reason enough to vote them out.


I would seek a return to the position under the last Labour council when in its final three years 40% of new homes were for low cost rent, 40% for affordable part-rent part-sale and 20% market sale.


Do you want to say anything else to readers?

Many people in Shepherds Bush will make their choice in the General Election  by reference to the local candidates as well as national policies.  As the only one of the three main candidates who has a background in the constituency and who chooses to live here, I am quite happy about that.  It is important to show your commitment to your constituency and to share the experience of living here every day. 

But both candidates and parties will be judged firstly by their policies.  I am grateful to Chris Underwood for giving us all this opportunity to set out our local priorities, though I am aware that national issues will dominate the General Election campaign. 

Last weekend the Prime Minister launched Labour’s promise of a future fair for all.   He contrasted:

  • the work the government has done to support families and businesses in the recession with the Tory plans for immediate cuts

  • the Labour promise of a one-week cancer diagnosis with a Tory promise to scrap targets which have eliminated long waits for NHS treatment

  • our 3,500 Sure Start centres, Child Tax Credits and Child Trust Fund with their promise to cut them all to cut inheritance tax for the richest 3,000 people in the UK

  • the one third fall in crime since 1997 with a Tory promise to cut police numbers by 3,500 immediately if they win the election.

Labour’s values of fairness and inclusion appeal to people in Shepherds Bush of all backgrounds.  I hope I can go on representing them and you.


For information about Andy’s work and interests as an MP, visit the ‘About Andy’ section of his website where you can also subscribe to his eNewsletter. 

Andy Slaughter Labour MP for Shepherds Bush  

Tel: 020 7610 1950.  Email:  Visit my website   

QPR: time for hope?

Watching the US sporting channels over here you realise what a superior offering we get in Europe. A particular favourite of our colonial cousins over here is ice hockey. This seems to consist of very large men (but large only because they are covered in complete body armour and a helmet) charging into each other with wooden clubs. Its not a skilled activity.

Which is what got me thinking about the clumsy, ice-hockey style approach of Fabio Briatore during his time at QPR. Now that he is gone, and the Mittals have increased their share, I already get the sense that people are looking to QPR to mount the real push for promotion that we all expected this season to be.

Here we go again folks..

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Local criminal caught - and slapped on wrist

Some news reaches me about a local criminal, who committed offences on Scrubs Lane, being picked up after spending a break in Jamaica.

On 18th February officers from Hammersmith & Fulham Wanted Persons Unit boarded a flight at Gatwick Airport to arrest an unsuspecting passenger who had committed offences on Scrubs Lane.

Reon Whyte was returning from a break in Jamaica with a group of friends. He was positively identified on board by officers and arrested for drug related offences. After spending the night at Gatwick Police Station he was transported to West London Magistrates Court. Whyte aged 27-years from Janson Close, NW10 was given a 2-year conditional discharge for Possession of Cannabis.

Detective Inspector Sarah Gray who heads the unit said, "This sends out a stark message to those who fail to appear at court or on Police bail that we will use all resources at our disposal to bring offenders before the courts. It is the responsibility of each individual to surrender to bail"

I wouldn't call a conditional discharge a "stark message", more a gentle tap on the wrist, but well done anyway.

Mayor quizzed on Hammersmith Homes

Hello from New York fellow Bushers! News reaches me that the Mayor of London was pressed repeatedly on H&F Council's treatment of its local residents today. Leading the charge was Labour's Nicky Gavron who wanted to know what Boris thought of things like this.

I'm told that there were many local residents in the audience watching what was apparently a heated session, so that probably includes some readers of this blog. Anything to add, anyone?

I'm back in the Bush on friday - and very much looking forward to it!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Wot, no Chronicle?!

A couple of readers have been in touch to say that those bored looking students that deliver the Fulham Chronicle haven't made it as far as their letterboxes in the last couple of weeks. I've had the same experience.

How many others have had the same?

Saturday, 20 February 2010

An Englishman in New York

As you read this I will be attending a sad service over here in the US of A. A very old friend of mine died of cancer recently and I am here for a celebration of his life, although its hard to celebrate things at this point. This comes on top of a family member passing away from the same terrible disease just weeks ago. Two very good reasons why I am running the Brighton Marathon in support of Cancer Research UK this April 18th.

Since January I have been running, quite literally in some cases, through ice wind and snow between the Bush and Hyde Park usually before most of you have even woken up! If anyone would like to sponsor this masochism you can do so here. And many thanks indeed to the readers who already have - at times like this it is very much appreciated indeed. I'm planning to run Central Park at least once during my time here.

Oh - and please bear with me, blogging is likely to slow down for a couple of days ..

Goldhawk Road: What about the trees?

The Ashchurch Residents’ Association (ARA) has been having a great deal of trouble getting a straight answer from the Council to a simple question: what is the status on Tree Protection Orders on 282 Goldhawk Road? Their concern is that those trees not cut down as a result of this development will not themselves be protected from being cut down as well, thus completing the conversion from green space to grey housing block. Here's their story, which they sent to me, of trying to get a 'yes' or 'no' out of H&F Council (motto: putting residents first)

Finally at the end of January, Adam O'Neill, Planning Officer at the Borough’s Urban Design and Conservation Team sent this reply [to ARA]:

“It is anticipated that the Tree Preservation Order would be served prior to the land being sold, since until that point the Council remains in control of any works to trees on the site.”

Later that day, Mr O’Neill recalled his earlier email and sent out a new one with this amendment:

“It is anticipated that the Tree Preservation Order would not (MY UNDERLINING) be served prior to the land being sold, since until that point the Council remains in control of any works to trees on the site.”

So which is it Mr. O’Neill? Will the trees be protected or not?

These trees appear to be causing a lot of confusion at the Town Hall.  In a Tree Report carried out in the first half of 2008, the Council’s environment department incorrectly identified two maples as sycamores, a robina as a walnut and an Alaskan cedar as a Monkey Puzzle. More alarmingly, the report suggests several trees are low quality and value and so fit to be felled to make way for the development. A tree expert consulted by ARA said she considered the trees were all healthy and should be retained.

Given the murkiness surrounding the tree issue at 282 Goldhawk Road, the ARA decided to do some more investigation. On the 16th October 2009, under the Freedom of Information Act, a member of the ARA asked the Council to provide documentation referring to the history of Tree Protection Orders on the land.  On the 11th November Catherine Smyth, of the borough’s Planning Division replied:

“The Council has considered your request and considers that no obligation arises to disclose the information because of the exemptions within the legislation, including sections 41 (Information provided in confidence) and 43.”

This reply was contested and a review was requested. The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, LBHF, has since written to say that it would be delaying its reply to our complaint and has failed to meet its own extended deadline of the 15th January 2010.

Unhappy with the Council’s lack of transparency, a complaint has now been lodged with the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Council have responded saying that they have been given a new deadline of the 26 February by the ICO.

What does the Council have to hide and why the stonewalling on such reasonable requests? If straightforward issues like these are handled in this manner, what hope is there for the Council coming good on their promise of ‘Putting Residents First’. What is the big secret about our trees?


Friday, 19 February 2010

Scrub up the Thames!

Ever wanted to get yerself knee deep in Thames mud cleaning litter? I'll bet you have. Actually, like most Londoners I bet you have wondered what its like down there - we're always kept back by great big embankments and other barriers, but most Londoners throughout history had much more contact with the river.

Well now's your chance. The excellent Thames21 organisation is organising two local clean up events on the shores of the great river in our Borough - on Tuesday 2nd March at Fulham Bishops Park and on 3rd March Hammersmith Thames Path (south side of the Bridge). The teams operates as "flash mobs" - anyone and everyone from a very wide range of society descending on the river - just for the fun of cleaning it up! Many come out of historical curiosity, as the Chief Exec of Thames21 explains in this video there are thousands of years worth of artefacts to discover...I might see you there! Where's me wellies.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Tideway Tunnel "homeless" claim disowned by Council

The Fulham Chronicle is now reporting two stories that first broke on this blog, in one case nearly two weeks before they appeared in print.

They report that our Council has disowned a claim by Raj Bhatia, the chairman of the Stamford Brook Residents Associaton, that the Tideway Tunnel would make people homeless. As I said here that's a pretty weasely excuse since the Council had full editorial control of the video and chose to release it to the public with that scaremongering claim included - which they now seek to disown. I hope lessons have been learned by the Council's press office.

The Chronicle story also covers this report on H&F's attempt to whip up support among fellow Councils against the project. Sadly for them most Conservative councils have declined to support their campaign, the latest being Westminster.

Remember where you read it first...

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

QPR insult fans (again)

Like most QPR followers I received both of the emails the club sent out about last nights game with Watford, only for the game to be postponed with less than an hour to go before kick off. Well, they can't help the rain and probably they didn't cancel till the last minute because they wanted the game to go ahead. But you'd think some kind of apology might be in order for those that had already started out on the journey? Both from QPR land (which seems to extend well into commuter land along the M4 corridor) and also the Watford fans coming down from the north.

Not a bit of it. This was the pathetic one liner from the club. And as excellent QPR Report fan site put it:

I thought that last night's "confusion" re game on and game off and the brief statements made would be followed up by a profuse apology from the Club leadership accompanied by a full explanation about what actually occurred and why. Even though Watford last night was able to post a fairly lengthy statement from their manger, Malky Mackay. while nothing further was forthcoming from QPR (except for the accompanying photo of the pitch).

Obviously for myself, attending the game was never an option. And in in terms of I feared another loss, I was actually glad that the game was cancelled. But many, many QPR fans (and many Watford fans) were already en route, and laid out time and money, to get to Loftus Road.

Games get cancelled. Fields get waterlogged. Sh** happens. And one has to accept that, even if one moans. But there is absolutely no reason that the club has not come out with that apology and explanation both for the game being cancelled and for their earlier misleading "Game On" Statement .Sorry and thanks would go a long way. And not just an anonymous posting on the Official Site: But from our Chairman.
I genuinely expected that QPR would come out with some sort of statement.

But thus far nothing, no apology, no explanation. Just "business as usual"posts. Maybe as I write, so do they. (Maybe after reading this, they'll post something!)

They didn't.

Vote for me: Shaun Bailey

In the second of our three interviews with the candidates of the main political parties who want to be the Bush's next MP we come to the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey. One of the most high profile candidates in the UK he is a co-founder of My Generation, a charity set up to address the social problems that affect young people and their families, including anti-social behaviour, drug use, crime, teen pregnancy, educational underachievement and unemployment.

Shaun graduated in computer aided technology from South Bank University. Previously, he worked as a security guard at Wembley and the Trocadero to put himself through university. He grew up in the north Kensington area with his mother, brother, and granddad.

A dedicated gymnast with the Childs Hill Gymnastic Club for over twenty years, he won many competitions both nationally and internationally. He was also a member of the army cadet force for ten years, where he met one of the major influences in his life, Captain (now Colonel) Connolly—the man who always challenged him to do better and believed in him.

In 2007 he was selected to fight the new Hammersmith Parliamentary Constituency, which includes Shepherd's Bush, for the Conservatives. The interview follows:

Why do you want to be the MP for Shepherd’s Bush?

I grew up in Shepherd’s Bush, the community has always been a part of me. A big part of why I want to represent Shepherd's Bush in Parliament is because I want to give something back to the community that has given me so much. As a borough, we have a lot to offer our city and our country, but I believe a lot could be done to improve the lives of people here.

I want Shepherd's Bush to be a place known for great job opportunities with attractive pay, mixed housing where residents are given a realistic chance to own their own homes and not just rent and a place where we can send our children outside without worrying about their safety or exploitation. It is time to break the cycles of state dependency that keep people poor, so that hard working people can thrive here.

I know these are big goals and ideas, but I think that's what politics should be about. We should be able to aspire to great things and work towards them. But this isn't a solo project. Any truly lasting positive changes that happen in Shepherds Bush will be done by the people of Shepherds Bush, not by any one person. I don't want to stand on the sidelines and complain about what's wrong. I want to get in the game and help fix the system.

What background knowledge and experience can you use on behalf of the Bush?

I've been a youth and community worker for over 20 years. The charity I co-founded and am still with, MyGeneration, serves youth and families from all over West London.  I've also been active with a number of local residents’ associations. I believe I have an understanding of how people in a community interact with each other. I also understand how they interact with the different levels of government.
My experiences working on policing issues and as a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies have also played a key role in shaping my political outlook. I've seen people can be betrayed by an overbearing and ultra intrusive government.  The Times recently reported that 80% of people agree that Britain is broken. I agree, and much of this brokenness is a direct result of Labour forcing people into a position where they need to accept hand outs rather than providing them with the opportunity to provide for themselves.   

What do you see as the key issues facing Shepherd’s Bush in the next 5 years and what will you do about them?  

There's no doubt that housing is a major issue, but it's not quite as straight forward of an issue as some have suggested. My Labour opponent has said that I want to kick people who live in social housing out of their homes. In fact, Labour has been trying to sell this message for years, yet it’s never come true! These lies have been crafted in a desperate attempt to scare people into voting for him.

The Labour party has tried to present themselves as working class heros, working for the benefit of those who live on estates. What's interesting is that even though they have been in power for the past 13 years, Labour has failed to improve the living conditions of those on estates. How can they be the heros when they have failed to deliver on the promises they pledged in 1997?

I grew up in social housing and I still live in social housing. I don't need to be lectured to about the type of situations many of our social housing residents are finding themselves in - I've lived it, my opponent hasn't. I've seen the damage that substandard housing causes families and particularly young people.

Let me be clear that not every Shepherds Bush estate is run down. There are some that are great examples of what social housing should be, but we can't deny that some of them need urgent attention. Building's don't last forever, and to suggest that they can or that they should is simply denying the truth.

A small percentage of people living in social housing in the borough are living in conditions that a responsible government simply cannot allow. It is the role of responsible leaders to look at these homes and say, yes, we need to do something about this. Of course this is going to be complicated, we are talking about people's homes! But if it means that these people and their children will be provided with better places to live, then I'm willing to put up with my Labour opponents trying to use this issue to score cheap political points.

I often ask people who are opposed to my views on this what they would do if they were a MP. Would they, knowing that there are people who are trying to raise children in homes that are overcrowded or literally falling apart, choose to cowardly dodge or exploit the issue because they knew it would be very controversial? Or would they risk the political fallout if they knew it would raise the level of debate around the quality of our social housing and, at the same time, provided many people with better homes for their families? Our choices are action or inaction, there is no third option. I've chosen to act and I'm not going to apologise for it. I reject the idea that things always need to stay the same.

Another massive challenge we are facing is unemployment. 30% of children here are growing up in families on benefits and we must act fast to avoid dooming the next generation to despair and welfare dependency. Jobs, not welfare, will restore the local and national economy, combat crime and create stable households. We also need retraining schemes available for those who want to pursue a different career path.

Our schools in Shepherds Bush, like in the rest of the country, need to prepare young people for real life situations, not just the passing of exams. The next generation will need to be very enterprising to survive. Encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit will help break the cycle of dependency that currently has many people receiving more money from benefits than they would from working for a wage.

Our Conservative council's spending on 24/7 policing has greatly reduced local crime figures, but there's still more to be done. We need to address the causes of crime, not just treat the symptoms. I want to see the next Parliament reform the criminal justice system into what it was intended to be. The law needs to protect those who keep it, not those who break it.

There have been a number of very controversial planning decisions in Shepherd’s Bush and the local area recently, such as 282 Goldhawk Road and the ‘Goldhawk Block’. What are your views on those decisions and what do you think could be done differently to avoid a lot of unhappy local people?

Although the area desperately needs new housing, I'll agree that there has been a lack of dialogue between the council and local residents over this development. I have spoken with resident’s associations and raised their concerns with the council. I've been assured that the council will approach people in the area to discuss what concessions may be made as a result of this development. I'm keeping my eye on this and I'm more than happy to talk to anyone with concerns.

What are your views on the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Council’s campaign against locating the entry to the tunnel within the Borough?

Let me make one thing clear. No one, including me, wants raw sewage running into the Thames. On an issue as important as this, we need to know all of the available options.

When the Channel Tunnel was built, engineers looked at a number of routes with a number of entry and exit points. In the end, they went with the one that made the most sense after all of the options have been thoroughly explored. What makes me uncomfortable about the Tideway Tunnel is that Thames Water seems to have had their mind made up about which option they wanted before they even looked at the other options. We need clarity on why they feel having the entry to the tunnel in Shepherds Bush is the right way forward. So far they have failed to convince. Also, the current scheme doesn't even address the problem of flood protection - a very real problem in our borough.

Here's what really gets me. Thames Water, a company posting huge annual profits, has not supplied any funding for their scheme and have failed to donate their own land to the tunnel.  Instead they are calling for a public park to be used. Taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the entire bill in addition to giving up their own green space. No matter where the tunnel is build, we need to know that Thames Water are committed to helping pay for it and to using land they own.

This is way to big and expensive of a project to be rushed into. All viable options need to be thoroughly explored and I want to see proper, private flood protection addressed through this project, which is exactly what the current scheme fails to offer.

So again, I'm not convinced all of the options have been thoroughly considered. It's understandable that our community should have to carry our share of the inconvenience that would come with this type of project, it seems as though we are being asked to carry the entire load.

A number of local businesses have closed in the Bush recently, including a local pub on Askew Road this week. What would you do as a local and national figure to regenerate the local economy?

Labour has tried to convince us that we have been the victims of a worldwide recession, but the truth is that Labour failed to take steps to protect us in case things took a turn for the worse. When they did, Labour's decisions meant that Britain was among the worst placed for recovery out of the G20 countries. We were the first country into the recession and the last out, and we still aren't out risk of having a double-dip recession.

I sometimes wonder whether, as a nation, we truly understand the level of debt we are dealing with here. Today, with each child born with the equivalent of £30,000 of government debt hanging over them, we are talking about a debt level that could fundamentally impact the standard of living of millions of people in Britain. For the sake of the future of our nation, we absolutely must tackle our national debt.

Nationwide reform is needed to bring our economy out of stagnation, but locally, we must play to our strengths. Shepherds Bush has shown incredible levels of entrepreneurial spirit in the past and I firmly believe that it is this spirit that will help us lead the way in the recovery. With an average age of just 32 years old, our local workforce is growing rapidly, so I see brilliant opportunities for small local businesses to grow and provide more jobs. Supporting local businesses is vital to helping the growing number of underemployed and I am committed to doing just that.

We must provide training programs to people of all ages and ensure that people on benefits won’t think that working will mean losing money. A stronger civil society based around markets, community centers and religious organisations will make this constituency an even more attractive place for young people, old people and families to settle. We believe in rewarding hard work. A Conservative government will work locally to reward the innovative creation of businesses and fight unemployment.

Do you think there is enough affordable housing in Shepherd’s Bush at the moment, and what would you do on this issue if you were elected?

I've already given my take on social housing in the answer above, but I'll stress again that this is an extremely important issue for me.

No, there isn't enough affordable housing in Shepherds Bush. I want to see more of our residents being given an opportunity to own their own homes. We need an economy that can provide fair mortgages to first time buyers and a job sector that pays fair wages that help ensure home owners can meet their financial commitments. It should be said that not everyone wants or needs to own their own home. Still, for those who do want it, home ownership needs to be a realistic option.

Ask anyone living in social housing what the biggest challenge was before they moved in and they will tell you that it was the waiting list. If Labour was really serious about helping improve the housing situation here in Shepherds Bush and in other areas around the country, they would have worked to reduce or eliminate the waiting list. Unfortunately they haven't. There are simply not enough homes available and waiting lists are still a major road block for those wanting to own their own homes. We need to address this. Home ownership needs to be accessible for those who want it. I fully plan to fight for reduced waiting lists and more affordable housing so more Shepherds Bush residents can own their own homes.

Do you want to say anything else to readers?

This election comes down to our nation having five more years of the same, or a fresh start. In trying to distance himself from his disgraces colleagues, my Labour opponent would like you to think he is a different breed of politician. Unfortunately for him the evidence suggests otherwise:

He claims to have some of the cleanest expenses in Parliament, but he claimed £90 for a pen nib and tried to justify it by saying it was 'office equipment.' If you want to see the evidence for yourself, click here and scroll to page 85. You can also click here to see how at least one newspaper took him to task for it.

On one evening in March 2008, he voted in the House of Commons at 7:15pm to close local post offices and then took a taxi to Hammersmith Town Hall a few minutes later and spoke at a meeting saying he opposed the local post office closures! Understandably, the gathered crowd responded with booing. Click here to read more.

On 28 October last year, he appeared on LBC radio and complained about 'old Etonians' in the Conservative party, failing to mention that he had a private school upbringing at Latymer. You can listen to the show here. He knows that many Labour voters will be turned off by voting for a Labour politician who had a private school upbringing, so he chooses to hide it. His website makes no mention of Latymer and only says he was 'educated in local schools.'

My opponents class war tactics, along with similar attempts by others in his party, have been completely divisive. They do nothing to bring our country together. Like my opponent, a number of Labour's own cabinet attended private schools, yet they insist on trying to use the private school education of some in the Tory party as a point to attack them on. But here's the important thing - it doesn't even matter where someone went to school. What matters is what they can offer our country moving forward, not looking behind. So let me be clear that I am not and will not criticise my opponent because he went to Latymer. I am critical because of his hypocrisy in choosing not to admit his own private school upbringing while attacking others for theirs.

If there has been any message from the taxpayers to our members of Parliament over the past year it has been this - we deserve better. We need MPs who are admired for their leadership, not despised for the hypocrisy. How can we expect our MPs to fix our broken society when so many of them can't even be trusted with smaller responsibilities?

Even with so much disappointment and frustration with Labour, my campaign team and I are not taking anything for granted. The race in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush is going to be very tight. We are putting in long hours speaking with people in their homes and on the street, canvassing, handing out information, making phone calls,  sending emails, recording videos, Facebooking, Tweeting and doing everything possible to show that we want change. I hope you do too. Your vote can help bring it.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me by telephone on 020 7385 1002 or email at You can also visit our campaign website at

Shaun Bailey

Conservative Candidate for Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush

Monday, 15 February 2010

Boris hits the Bush

Now we know why Boris hasn't had time to answer formal questions in the London Assembly about trifling issues like disabled people's access to the new tube station, he was too busy actually visiting the Bush himself! This time he visited an employment centre on the Goldhawk Road along with Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh and Conservative candidate for our constituency at the General Election Shaun Bailey.

The Mayor answered a variety of questions from the great and the good, including his views on what measures the London Development Agency could take to alleviate the impact which this area is feeling of the recession.

Good on Boris for coming down here and taking a look around, and credit to Stephen Greenhalgh for having the pulling power to get him here. The two men are at loggerheads on other issues so its good to see them putting those to one side for an issue of such importance to the Bush. It was clearly an election thing for Shaun Bailey but I think that's fair enough, they're politicians after all.

What I am a bit mystified about is why the otherwise excellent Fulham Chronicle website didn't have time to report that Andy Slaughter MP actually had a Work and Pensions Minister down here during the same week, looking at the same issues. Perhaps they ran out of space.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

David Miliband joins Battle of the Bush

In the latest of a series of high profile visits from both sides of the Labour and Conservative High Command, the Foreign Secretary will be taking a break from trifling things like, oh, er, the Afghanistan conflict and Middle East peace process among others, to attend a public meeting at St Paul's Church Hammersmith this coming Friday.

Mr Miliband will be here to back Andy Slaughter, our Labour MP battling to keep the seat from the strong challenge being put up by Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.

Andy Slaughter has extended an invitation to all who are interested to attend, and says:

"This is an opportunity for Hammersmith residents to put questions on any subject to one of the most senior members of the Cabinet.  This is the first of a number of public meetings David Miliband is holding across the country to answer questions on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to foreign affairs."

And it's further evidence of just how crucial this seat is seen by all parties in the General Election - now how can we use all of this attention to get the best possible deal for the Bush.. ?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Tube strike off as RMT retreat

Communist Bob's latest attempt to hold Londoners to ransom failed last week and in its wake he has staged a retreat, calling off the RMT strike that was scheduled for today and coming weeks. In a line that would make Comical Ali blush our Bob has hailed a "massive breakthrough". Yes, they're being slain like dogs at the gates of TfL HQ Bob. 

Don't count your chickens just yet though, he'll be back.

Paladini to be QPR sacrificial lamb

Gianni Paladini, the man who once alleged that he'd had a gun pointed at him in the QPR Boardroom, is poised to resign as the club's Chairman this week. He is going to go, aparently, after being subjected to barracking by fans at the last game which Rangers lost 2-1 to Ipswich. That result leaves the club once talked of as a good bet for premiership promotion two points off the drop zone into League One.

No mention has been made of Strange Man of Sport Flavio Briatore going. And getting my haircut at John's Barbers on the Uxbridge Road (top barbers who've been family barbers in the Bush for several generations who I really don't mind plugging as you can tell) I heard from one guy who was at the game that Briatore stormed off at half time instead of taking any more punishment from the fans and their, er, inventive chants about his personal hobbies.

So with Paladini gone, the Strange One will have bought himself some more time. But he's rapidly running out of other people to blame.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Ashchurch Residents launch election campaign

Planning decisions are coming home to roost this election, with the launch of this campaign by the Ashchurch Residents Association. These were the local people who were overruled by H&F's infamous planning committee, who voted in favour of  a 'meditterenean village' (or high density housing block in plain English) that would make both the Council and the developers a lot of money.

Although Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate at the general election, attacked the Council over their similar treatment of the 'Goldhawk Block' residents, he did not directly attack the Council on this one.

So the candidate likely to suffer most from this sort of activity you would imagine is him. Andy Slaughter and Merlene Emerson have yet to issue public comment, but its clear some Shepherd's Bush residents intend to make the Council's treatment of them over how their neighbourhoods develop a very important local election issue that will decide who represents us at the Town Hall and in Parliament in the years ahead.

The residents themselves say this on their facebook site:
There will probably be a knock on your door soon from canvassers seeking your vote in the parliamentary and local elections. Ashchurch Residents' Association has decided to send out a message using the ARA leaflet shown above. While ARA is a non political organisation, anyone who was at the planning meeting in December will remember the sense of outrage they felt as the 282 Goldhawk Road development was voted through on a political majority in the face of residents' loud and clear opposition. They were neither heard nor listened to.

It's not just ironic but insulting that on almost the first working day after that meeting, Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh issued a letter to residents' associations promising a more "democratic and  transparent" planning process, with "more meaningful participation in the formative stages of the process". That is what residents had been asking for all along, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. So if you think the  council's actions speak louder than words, please use this leaflet and give it to your friends. It can be downloaded in various forms at


Thursday, 11 February 2010

Heathrow: row over secrecy

A row has erupted over apparently deleted email conversations that were held between senior officials at the Department for Transport, DfT, and the British Airports Authority, BAA. Both of whom want to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport in spite of near-universal opposition to the scheme from local authorities under the new flightpaths. This includes Hammersmith & Fulham, with one of the new flightpaths being directly over the Bush.

To their credit both the Council and our MP have campaigned against this, with Andy Slaughter actually resigning from the Government over it, and David Cameron assuring local voters here during his recent visit that the runway would definately not be built if his party win the next election.

Justine Greening, Tory MP for Putney in south-west London just over the river from us, placed a Freedom of Information request to see the relevant correspondance leading up to the Government's announcement that it supported the new runway. She noticed that large sections of the emails were mysteriously missing. The DfT are claiming they were 'deleted'.


The Information Commissioners Office, an independent authority set up to guard against practices like this, is now formally investigating the Department for Transport.

Surely this is the last bit of evidence, if we ever needed any, of how much the DfT have really cared about anything local people have had to say on this issue. That a Government department of state is prepared to ride roughshod over the views of local people and then attempt some kind of cover-up is beneath contempt.

In the afternoons during summer you can already hear the almost constant loud drone of aircraft as they stack up just to the west of Shepherd's Bush, which carries on 'till gone 9. Enough already. And why can't we look at alternatives?

Because of a death in the family I have had to go to the North East at short notice twice in the last two weeks. The cheapest train ticket (and this is on the now publicly owned East Coast Mainline) was nearly 200 pounds. So I drove, which cost about 45 pounds return. Could we not invest in rail instead?  And at the very least actually listen to what local people have to say.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Police Appeal: violent robbery on Scrubs Lane/Harrow Rd

Police are appealing for witnesses and information following a Robbery along Harrow Road junction with Scrubs Lane, NW10 on Monday 25th January.

At approximately 21:20hrs the victim was on his motorcycle at the traffic lights along Harrow Road junction with Scrubs Lane in the turn left only lane when a dark blue/black Astra style vehicle pulled up behind the victim.  Two males got out of the vehicle and ran towards the victim demanding he get off his bike.  One of the suspects grabbed the victim by his rucksack and pulled the victim and motorcycle to the ground whilst the other male repeatedly punched the victim in his body and head. The suspects continued to punch and kick the victim whilst demanding he let go of the bike.  Suspect 2 pulled the bike and tried to start it however failed whilst Suspect 1 then made off into a waiting car being driven by an unknown person.  As Suspect 2 was unable to start the bike he then also ran off to the waiting vehicle in Wood Lane.  

The suspects made off in a dark blue/black Astra style hatch back with blacked out windows.

The 52-year-old male victim has cut and bruising to his left eye.

  • Suspect 1 is described as a white male aged between 16 - 22yrs F600 tall short fair hair and of heavy build.

  • Suspect 2 is described as a white male aged between 16 - 22yrs F507.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Wesley Hawkins based in the Robbery Squad at Hammersmith Police Station on 020 8246 2678 or call crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Anti Social Behaviour Order closes Bush house

On Friday 5th February 2010, Wormholt and White City Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) (in partnership with Peabody housing association and LBHF) successfully closed a property on the Cleverly Estate, Wormholt Road, Shepherds Bush W12.

The team had been approached by Peabody’s Community Safety Team after they had received numerous complaints of disorder and anti-social behaviour originating from the property. Officers interrogated police records and compiled a full case file for an application to be made under Part 1A Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003. This is a relatively new piece of legislation that has evolved from the original ‘crack house’ closures. The legislation gives the Police and their partners the power to close properties on the grounds of anti-social behaviour alone.

This is the first time the legislation has been used in the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and the case file is regarded as a benchmark for future applications.

It was not just the actions of the tenant that brought this action about, but those of the visitors to the address. The power relates to the property, not the occupant, and will result in a property being closed for an initial 3 month period, with a possible extension of up to another 3 months. The use of this power is regarded by the courts as something of a last resort, and a proven record of attempts to engage with the tenant and the use of less disruptive action needs to be evidenced for such an order to be granted.

From the original issue being brought to the attention of the Police by Peabody, it took just three weeks to compile evidence, consult with LBHF, attend court and close the property.

PC Gareth Davies from the Wormholt & White City Safer Neighbourhoods Team said: “We are very proud to lead the way in the use of this legislation. It requires people to take responsibility not only for their own behaviour, but for others living at or visiting their home. This latest power further enables the Police and our partners to take the fight to the doorstep, and beyond, of those who live their lives with no regard or respect for others. We will not tolerate it.”

Peabody Community Safety Officer Laura England said: “Anti-social behaviour is unacceptable in our communities and we will move swiftly to help put an end to it. Working jointly with the Police and Hammersmith and Fulham council, we’re thrilled to have achieved this closure order. Those in the local community will now be able to enjoy their homes in peace and feel safe again.” 

Tideway Tunnel: Thames Water hit back

You might remember Cllr Paul Bristow recently wrote to all other London Councils, trying to enlist their support in H&F's campaign against the Tideway Tunnel - a sewer project designed to prevent millions of litres of sewage being pumped into the Thames.

Thames Water have hit back with their own letter,here , which has also been sent to the same Councils. Although H&F have managed apparently to gain the support of neighbouring Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster Council have decided that they do not support H&F's campaign.

That may explain the ratcheting up of their campaign, which now includes warning that people may actually lose their homes if the sewer is built - which Thames categorically deny.

This one is clearly going to rumble on and on...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Boris stalls on disabled access for Bushers

You may remember this post when I reported two searching questions that have been asked of the Mayor at the London Assembly.

He is obliged to answer them, and in doing so explain why Shepherd's Bush tube does not have disabled access. He will need to explain why Transport for London says that the installation of a simple lift would cost in excess of 100 million pounds, and why the work has been put off "indefinately".

But Boris is stalling. The Assembly Member who asked these questions, Caroline Pidgeon, which Bushers have also been asking ever since the new tube was openned, should have received a reply over a week ago. She hasn't. Boris clearly thinks that he can ignore us. He can't.

What's the answer Boris? And why have you kept us waiting?

Recession Bush: The Sun pub closes down

Another Askew Road casualty, this time The Sun pub which is now boarded up and for sale. Thanks to the several of you who alerted me to it. I have to be honest though and say that it was a dive. Sorry to be blunt, but it was! That said, I hope the staff find something new soon.

Meanwhile, although we thought there was good news with the former 'Wine Rack' I have to say its not looking good there either. Next to no rennovation has taken place and the sign about opening again is gone.

We're now in February so that looks ominous. Not good news.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Vote for me: Merlene Emerson

Merlene Emerson is the Liberal Democrat candidate hoping to win your vote to represent Shepherd's Bush in Parliament. 

Merlene was born in Singapore and came to London in 1979 as a law student. Both her parents are overseas born Chinese, therefore she has inherited a strong sense of colonial history and identity. To that extent she describes feeling a kindred bond with immigrants from other ex-colonies now in the Commonwealth. After graduation from King's College London she obtained a Master of Laws degree at Cambridge University. She qualified as a Solicitor and worked at a leading City law firm in the high adrenalin-fueled world of corporate finance and banking. She returned briefly to work in Singapore and was made partner at a medium sized firm specialising in the areas of joint ventures and cross-border finance. In 1990 she became a CEDR accredited commercial mediator in the UK .

Merlene is the mother of three boys aged 12-18. As she believes passionately that children are our future, she regularly fund-raises for the charity Save the Children. She is currently a Director of the Chinese Welfare Trust and the registered social landlord, Richmond Housing Partnership. Her interview follows:

Why do you want to be the MP for Shepherd’s Bush?

After years in legal practice in the corporate and banking area, I have come to understand the importance of politics, lawmaking and the need to forge a better society. To take the next step of becoming a Parliamentarian is but a natural progression from political activism. It is also the toughest decision that I have had to make in my career!

As for why Shepherd’s Bush (or rather Hammersmith under redrawn boundaries), it is a locality which I have grown to know and love having worked here in the last 10 years. Whilst I enjoy its diversity and dynamism, I am also aware of the problems it has as an inner London borough, ranging from demands for cheaper housing and sustainable development to creating real jobs and opportunities for the next generation.

It would be a huge privilege for me to be able to represent and improve the lives of the people of Hammersmith.

What background knowledge and experience can you use on behalf of the Bush?

Since leaving full time legal practice, I retrained as a commercial mediator (CEDR accredited) and also worked on the management boards of a number of charities including a registered social landlord (Richmond Housing Partnership), an immigration advisory body (Chinese Immigration and Advice Centre) and for community mediation service provider (C.A.L.M , which was based in the borough). More recently I received training in Restorative Justice and will bring with me a restorative approach to problem solving.

I have raised a family of 3 boys now aged 13, 17 and 19. I believe the skills involved in raising a family are not to be taken for granted. We know that young people are our future and that we should be working to provide each and everyone with a good education so that they will be able to reach their full potential.

I have on occasions been asked the relevance of my ethnicity. There are currently 646 MPs of which only 2 are ethnic minority women. Should I be elected, I hope to inspire others from under-represented groups of which there are many in the Bush who may feel disengaged and disempowered. I will also be able to bring to the table a fresh perspective and different world view.

What do you see as the key issues facing Shepherd’s Bush in the next 5 years and what will you do about them?
Recent crime figures released have shown an increase in knife and violent crime in Hammersmith (as opposed to Fulham) as well as increase in homophobic crime and domestic violence. It is not simplistic to say that the wider the disparities between the rich and the poor in society, the more we are likely to witness social ills such as increased crime, delinquency and social unrest.

High on the list are issues relating to growth in the local economy, job opportunities, social cohesion and the need to ensure that new developments will have a positive impact on the local population.

Walking around Shepherds Bush, one may see a bustling community, full of retail shops and restaurants ranging from the high-end such as in the £1.6 billion development that is Westfield, to more modest stall-holders in the Shepherds Bush market. However, the UK economy has been in recession and we will need investment both from the public and private sector to stimulate the local economy.

The good news is there are a number of developments in the pipeline: there is the proposed expansion of Hammersmith Hospital with added GP facilities in White City. More developments are also anticipated on and around the Green and all these should create more jobs opportunities. The important thing is to ensure that training will be available for local residents so that they will be able to compete for these openings.

The Liberal Democrat approach to these issues is to correct the imbalance in the economy through fairer taxes, such as taking the lowest paid out of the tax bracket altogether, prioritise funding for social projects, build more affordable housing and improve public transport and amenities to improve the quality of life for all residents.

There have been a number of very controversial planning decisions in Shepherd’s Bush and the local area recently, such as 282 Goldhawk Road and the ‘Goldhawk Block’. What are your views on those decisions and what do you think could be done differently to avoid a lot of unhappy local people?

Last year I joined the residents in the Brackenbury area in protesting against the redevelopment of the site at Goldhawk Industrial Estate. It was generally felt that the borough should value our commercial tenants and businesses as they bring employment and diversity to the borough. What the borough didn’t need were more luxury apartments especially in the present climate. The planning approval has since been called in by the Secretary of State and we await their decision.

The objections to the development at 282 Goldhawk Road were slightly different. They related more to whether the designs for new housing were sufficiently sympathetic to, and in keeping with, the character of the surrounding area, preservation of the trees and foliage. Also at issue here is the heavy handed way in which the planning meeting was brought forward in time before expiry of the consultation period.

What residents look for in Planners that they stick to their own planning rules, conduct the process in a transparent and honest fashion and respect the views and interests of residents. I wouldn’t think that those were too much to ask for.

What are your views on the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Council’s campaign against locating the entry to the tunnel within the Borough?

I certainly have grave concerns over the concerted efforts made by the local Council to campaign against the Thames Tideway Tunnel (dubbed the ‘super sewer’) including preventing Thames Water drilling investigatory bore holes in Furnival Gardens (since overturned by the Court at added expense to the tax payers). Mayor Boris Johnson has reiterated his support for the Thames Tideway Tunnel in his Water Strategy but the Council have continued to scaremonger, suggesting that it is not only a threat to our green spaces (including Ravenscourt Park), but may even lead to loss of homes.

There is without doubt a huge cost to all Londoners (not just residents of this borough) as the Tideway tunnel will be as long as the Channel tunnel and is estimated to cost £2.2 billion with no obvious return on capital investment. However the old Victorian sewers are regularly spewing out raw sewage into our beloved Thames and we are in breach of environmental laws.

Instead of a Nimby approach to the problem, the Council needs to work more co-operatively with the Environment Agency and Thames Water to find a viable solution. There could also be more innovative ways of financing the work such as used in other countries (such as the City of Atlanta whose ex-Mayor Shirley Franklin financed the renewal of their sewers through issue of bonds) rather than purely through increases in water rates.

A number of local businesses have closed in the Bush recently, including a local pub on Askew Road this week. What would you do as a local and national figure to regenerate the local economy? 

Pubs in UK have suffered from increased excise duties on alcohol, restrictions on smoking and further red tape on pubs and small businesses. Whilst I agree that the smoking ban and disincentives for alcohol consumption are necessary for health reasons I am equally concerned to hear of small businesses folding.

I support the Save the Pub campaign and am in favour of promoting a policy environment that encourages consumers to choose low alcohol drinks and recognise the traditional role of pubs as the place for responsible, social drinking. A more balanced strategy for tackling alcohol abuse would be to work in partnership with the brewing and pub sector to promote social responsibility through support for initiatives like Pubwatch, Crime and Disorder Partnerships, Campaign for Smarter Drinking etc.

Aside from pubs, I would fight for reduced red tape for small shops and businesses, ensure that the Council employs local retail champions to look after the interests and concerns of local shop owners and contribute towards joint marketing efforts. Having spoken to some local shop owners, initiatives by the Council to improve the streetscape, provide clear signages and improved transportation and parking for shoppers could go a long way towards helping their businesses thrive or at least survive.

Do you think there is enough affordable housing in Shepherd’s Bush at the moment, and what would you do on this issue if you were elected?

In a word, ‘no’. According to figures obtained from colleagues in City Hall there were more than 8 492 people on the Council’s waiting list in 2009 and this does not even include householders currently living in over-crowded accommodation. The Tory controlled Council have made clear their vision in the Local Development Framework not to increase affordable housing capacity over the next 15 years. Cllr Greenhalgh claims that they have plans to build more intermediate housing but this is very much a question of definition. Most residents who seek social housing will not qualify for intermediate housing and I believe the Council strategy is to encourage the homeless to relocate out of the borough instead. The redevelopment of old estates and break up of communities combined with residents being priced out the borough may be viewed as a positive step to some. To others, it smacks of gerrymandering.

The Liberal Democrats launched our new housing manifesto this year to bring a quarter of a million empty homes back into use, making homes available for people who need them and creating 65,000 jobs. Locally there are over 3000 vacant homes in the borough that could be brought back into use, which would be a good start.

Do you want to say anything else to readers?
The voter registration and turn out rate is low in this borough. I would urge readers who are eligible to vote to register with the local Council and to vote on polling day. I would also like to remind them that a vote is not a bet on a winner but an expression of support for the candidate and party whose policies and views they agree with. There is a choice in the coming elections beyond the 2 major parties and I hope that men and women of all ages and ethnicities will come out to support me. Please feel free to contact me directly at or check out my website at