Thursday, 30 June 2011

Rape in Shepherd's Bush: the stories you don't see

The Fulham Chronicle has reported the rape of a woman on the Goldhawk Road - I saw the tweets about this as well from residents as well but I'm afraid on this occasion I just didn't have time to follow it up - I do this blog in more than the spare time I have available.

One thing that I would say is this - this woman, based on the rape victims I have talked to as part of my job, will feel like her life has just been utterly destroyed. I cannot imagine what she is experiencing at the moment.

What angers me more than anything though is how the same local paper, the Chronicle, takes money from local brothels and pimps for advertising and in so doing supports local prostitution which, as the Police will tell you, in many cases includes the use of trafficked women. That is also rape. You just don't see police cordons and it's behind closed doors, so it doesn't make a news story. But those women are just as much the victims, and by helping publicise the brothels to punters the Chronicle is making money on the back of it. That is why they have been asked to stop doing so by the Metropolitan Police, but have ignored them. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police, said this in a letter to editors:
"The adverts often purport to be massage parlours, saunas or escort agencies, but are in reality a front for criminal networks to advertise trafficked victims for sexual services. 
"Advertisements that offer multi-national or young women or which are sexually suggestive in tone are often the type found to be linked to the provision of sexual services and / or the presence of trafficked women. 
"It is these types of adverts I am seeking your support in preventing. I would ask that you put in place a system to satisfy yourselves that those seeking to place advertisements are genuine concerns or businesses and not a cover for the criminal activity highlighted above".
Some newspapers in London. such as those owned by Newsquest, have responded to this by deciding not to support prostitution in this way anymore. But the money is more important to the Fulham Chronicle. 

Look at a recent headline of the paper (pictured) - they even promote this practice on the front page these days. 

H&F Council is not happy - Cllr Greg Smith told me he would be "raising the matter" with the Chronicle about what he called this "highly distasteful" activity on their part. But nothing has changed. So either it didn't happen or the Chronicle are set to ignore him as well as the Police. So articles which the Council publishes within the Chronicle, with our money, appear alongside ads for sex. 

But let's leave the last word to Denise Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of Eaves Housing, which looks after women trafficked into the sex trade, she says:
“In London’s local papers, 80 per cent of ads for adult massage parlours or saunas are fronts for brothels, where men can buy sex. Newspaper owners turn a blind eye to this, insisting that they do not advertise anything illegal, while banking their gains from the sex industry.  
“The irony is that local papers are full of articles about the problems caused by or related to prostitution – the blight of kerb-crawling on local neighbourhoods, the increase in drug crime – but they are directly contributing to the problem by advertising brothels."
So let's hear from the Fulham Chronicle - do they personally vet every one of these advertisers to check if there are any trafficked women or those being forced to have sex against their will? Or are they happy to take the money by promoting prostitution in our community, and then only report on rape when it happens in the street, instead? Either way, it's not a contribution to the local community they can be proud of.

QPR: Warnock wobbles

The tensions at the top of QPR are bubbling to the surface again according to David McIntyre, a journalist who has covered the club for longer than most. During my own interview with Mr Warnock he made it clear that much depended on the amount of funds he was given to buy players but now it appears that his own control over these decisions is now also an issue.

McIntyre is confident that Warnock will stay, and I have to say that if he was going he probably would have done so by now, but it is worth pointing out that interference from the Board has already led to more than one manager's departure from Loftus Road in recent years. The man chiefly responsible for that meddling was of course strange man Briatore - who recently with his Adolf Hitler admiring ally Bernie Ecclestone hiked prices so high for the new season that very few of the fans that have supported the club on their way to the Premiership will be able to see them there.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

H&F Council accused of "intimidating" striking teachers

Our Council has been accused by Union leaders participating in Thursdays strike of attempting to "intimidate" local teachers by writing letters to them urging them not to take part. The Council has even suggested that teachers should make up the time that children will be losing from their education as a result of what they pointedly call a "foreseeable closure", according to the Guardian.

Councillor Helen Binmore, last in the public eye when she pushed through major cuts to the Sure Start service in H&F, has written a letter to teachers. Speaking to the Guardian she said: "We have suggested to the schools that, as the strike is a foreseen closure, they should consider offering their pupils an additional day's education where possible."

Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, described Cllr Binmore's letter as a "deliberate move to intimidate" teachers, while her suggestion that teachers should make up the time to their pupils as "completely inaccurate and wrong".

No surprises that a fairly radical Tory council is taking a hard line on Union activity, and that this has prompted an angry response - but it does underline the point that nobody seems to be arguing about the financial impact that this strike is going to have on struggling families.

Askew street party cancellation prompts war of words

A street party planned for Sunday 14th August on Askew Road has been cancelled prompting a blame game that seems to have resulted in the Askew Business Network withdrawing a claim they made on their website blaming the police for not providing enough support.

On their website the Askew Business Network claimed bitterly that the police could not provide enough "support" to the event and that that was the reason it had been cancelled. I was also told this directly. But when I contacted the police to get their side of the story two things happened very rapidly yesterday. Firstly I received an indignant response from the police which I reproduce below, and secondly the Askew Business Network withdrew the claim from its website.

Here's what a police spokesperson told me in response to the Business Network's claims:
"Sergeant Tracy Allison who is in charge of the Askew SNT said that she told the organiser that we fully supported the street party however we would require advance warning to arrange for police resources. He was invited to our ward panel and business watch meetings.

Chris she never at any point said we did not have resources to deal".
So I'm inclined to believe the police - and hope the Askew business networkers have learned a salutary lesson about casting public aspersions, because they don't end up looking very clever at the moment. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Shepherd's Bush Police arrest 27 in two weeks

The Safer Neighbourhood Team looking after Shepherd's Bush has sent me their results from the last two weeks and it's impressive stuff. All the more so since I spent one Saturday night with them and appreciate that in between all of these resutls they would have been putting in a lot more time and effort into things that don't count as statistics but do shape the quality of life for people in W12. Read more about that here.

In the meantime though, here's their impressive looking scorecard from the last fortnight:

A total of 27 arrests have been made;
  • 8 drugs offences
  • 4 theft offences 
  • 6 for violence 
  • 6 for being wanted on warrant 
  • 3 for various other offences
High visibility patrols have also resulted in 112 stop and searches, 7 of these resulting in arrests. Approximately 50 wraps of crack cocaine, 22 bags of cannabis, £5000 worth of counterfeit goods, a cosh and a firearm have been seized by the team.

The team have robustly dealt with street drinkers and anti social behaviour in and around Shepherds Bush Green.

Helicopter chase draws blank over Shepherd's Bush

Last thursday a police helicopter hovered over Shepherd's Bush for a protracted period in the afternoon, at around 1630. Many of you were tweeting and wondering what it was all about - it's taken a wee while to get the answer to this because Shepherd's Bush isn't covered by a full time press office but this morning I have the answer .... this is what a spokeswoman explained to me this morning:

"A possible sighting of a male wanted by police around 16:45hrs Adelaide Rd j/w Uxbridge Rd. N/T of the male".

To translate that into English they thought they saw someone they wanted to arrest on the junction of Adelaide Road and Uxbridge Road, but they couldn't find him.

Askew Business Network barbecue

The Askew Business Network, a superb networking body of local traders in and around the Askew Road driving the recovery of that part of the Bush, will be hosting a summer barbecue as a highlight of their regular monthly evenings which I have reported on before.

From reports I've had on previous evenings, which are all held at the Greyhound pub, it will be well worth the £6.50 ticket price which you can buy via paypal on their website. (£8 on the night)

So if you're a business person yourself or just fancy meeting the movers and shakers of the Askew Road get yersel down there.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Westfield expansion on view: exhibition dates

News reaches me courtesy of the Macfarlane Road Residents Association of exhibitions for residents interested in the controversial regeneration plans for the land to the north of Ariel Way. Working in tandem with our Council the retailers' plans look set to deliver thousands of new homes to the area and in so doing fundamentally change the face of the Bush.

Residents groups are divided over the plans with many throwing doubt on the Council's claims to be creating new social housing which will be affordable to key public sector workers and those aiming for a first foot on the property ladder. Residents point out that many of the homes claimed as "social" will in fact merely be existing social tenants being relocated, while others from the Kensington side have warned that their homes, including that of the Prime Minister, will be overshadowed by enourmous retail buildings. But both agree that this will act as a major stimulus for jobs, which can't be a bad thing.

Either way residents can judge for themselves on the following dates:
  • Friday 8th July - next to Habitat in Westfield 2 - 8pm 
  • Saturday 9th July - next to Habitiat in Westfield 11 - 5pm 
  • Monday 11th July - Village Hall Bulwer Street 12 - 6pm
As one of the residents commented in a message to their group, it does look as if the new "town centre" of the Bush will be shifting northwards, away from the Green. I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing but, together with the departure of the BBC, it will certainly start to change the face of W12.

H&F schools closed - but what about the little guy?

My kids won't be going to school on thursday. Like parents across H&F and indeed the country we'll be incurring the expense, the inconvenience and the expense of the nationwide strike being put on by the National Union of Teachers. Schools across our borough seem to be closing en masse and we received our letter last week informing us that the Head had "no option" but to close.

Did I mention "expense" twice? Yes, I did - because it's well worth a double mention. At the end of the day one extra days worth of childminding is not going to break my bank balance - but it will severely affect some people. Think of the single parent struggling to pay the bills as it is, with two or more part time jobs that barely cover the cost of the weekly shop. They probably served you in a shop today with a smile, or maybe even work inside a school themselves in a kitchen. Now they have to take a day off work and lose that day's pay - or else spend what will probably be even more than that days' pay on a childminder.

Trade Unions are there to fight for the interests of their members, as we see regularly from the RMT. But they don't at the moment appear to have public support with 63% against the strikes, according to this week's Economist. But nobody ever seems to think about the people those strikes hurt most - because those people, who aren't lucky enough to have a life-long secure job with a decent salary - don't have anyone to fight their corner.

Just a thought.

Designer Scrubs: Sir Terry Farell to shape Old Oak Common

Sir Terry Farrell (rt) and Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh
The High Speed Rail service which is set to slash journey times between London and the Midlands with a shiny new train line, stopping at Old Oak Common, is set to fire the regeneration of this neglected part of our borough in style thanks to the appointment of world renowned architects Terry Farrell and Partners by our Council.

The interchange will also connect with the new Crossrail servvice which in turn will connect the Common interchange to the continent and also the Bakerloo and Central tube lines. In short, the plans will take what has for too long been a desolate corner and turning it into a bustling hub with the potential to generate growth and employment. And that's no bad thing at all for the likes of East Acton and Shepherd's Bush.

It is projected that HS2 will bring 10,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs to west London, regenerating an area in the bottom fifth of the most deprived areas in Britain. At the time of the last census just over a half of working age adults living within 1.3miles of the site were in employment, falling to less than half for those living within 0.7 miles. H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh said:
Old Oak Common has the potential to be as significant for west London as the redevelopment of Stratford has been for the east of the city."

H&F Council is determined to demonstrate what the regeneration of the area can achieve and to present a vision for the future of Old Oak.
Sir Terry Farrell said,
"This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to work on a project that will not only reshape west London, but have a huge impact on the country as a whole.

“High Speed Rail is not just a transportation strategy; it’s a nationwide economic catalyst that requires creative placemaking. At Farrells we have previously worked on proposals for Euston and Birmingham stations in relation to HS2 and are helping reshape Ashford and Folkestone thanks to the economic stimulus provided by the arrival of HS1.

“Old Oak Common presents an exceptional opportunity and we look forward to developing a clear vision to maximise the benefits of HS2."
H&F Council is engaging with the Mayor of London, Transport for London and other west London councils before making its submission to the Department for Transport consultation that closes on 29 July. Cllr Greenhalgh will also be giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee on 28 June.

This is a real shot in the arm for the borough and the Council have done well to persuade the Government, as I reported here, to site the station here. It wasn't a foregone conclusion. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Open Doors W12: Pop-up art galleries in Shepherd's Bush homes

Open Doors W12 is a novel concept. They contacted me the other day and describe themselves thus:
"Open Doors is a series of themed exhibitions throughout London that take inspiration from the galleries postcodes. The galleries are very kind people's homes and the artists are talented people excited by the opportunity to make relevant art by using their medium to document the lives of a local community".
And in our case they are currently in W12. The idea seems to be to encourage local artists to exhibit using willing people's homes as unofficial galleries. The first one is currently at Galloway Road W12 for example and they say that "rumbles in the jungle" indicate that a second venue will be found soon.

Art lovers then pop along to these galleries and view the art. Simple idea, but very un-British. So perfect for the Bush, then!

Take a look at their website - I can't actually remember the last time I went to an art gallery so assuming I'm not alone this kind of guerilla artistry might just bring a few phillistines back to the art world and launch one or two locals on to the scene.

Good luck to them.

£5million for police in H&F

Cllr Greg Smith with local Police

Following my night with the Police last Saturday I had some good news today which is that Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is ploughing £1.3million a year into the Met's coffers, with local firms adding an extra £350,000 a year.

The cash is being used to boost the standard Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNT) in the borough's three town centres - which are based on one Sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs and are paid for by the Mayor of London.

I can't think of a better place for this money to go - as I witnessed just last Saturday night, these people go non stop for 12 hour shifts dealing with everything from terminally ill alcoholics with humanity and respect to potentially violent situations involving brawls on estates. All of which goes largely unnoticed - and frequently under-funded. The Council do deserve real credit for this.

The new arrangement will see the council focusing its resources on more warranted officers, although the PCSOs that are funded by the Mayor of London will remain. Their numbers have of course dropped dramatically in Shepherd's Bush from 15 to just 6.

Two more Inspectors, four extra Sergeants and 38 additional PCs, than would otherwise be available under the normal SNT model, will join the battle against crime as the council calls on the Police to 'get tough' on the criminal minority.

Cllr Greg Smith, Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council Cabinet Member for Residents Services, says:
"Beat bobbies beat crime and, despite the nationwide spending squeeze, we have found a way to improve our town centre squads by putting more PCs onto the front-line than ever before. This will give us some of the best Policed town centres in Britain."
In 2007, H&F became one of the first councils in Britain to use its own money to pay for extra beat Police and the new arrangement will see 16 more PCs drafted on to the front-line compared to the old model.

By taking advantage of the Met's 'matched funding' offer, taxpayers are also saving around £232,000 on the cost of buying-in PCs meaning the new contract offers far greater value for money to residents, according to the council. The three-squads will work on tailored shift patterns designed to sharpen the focus on problem times and areas. The three year deal was formally approved yesterday (June 23).

"Residents are getting more cops for their buck than ever before," continues Cllr Smith. "We are giving the Met the tools to cut crime and now we expect results. All inner city boroughs present significant crime challenges but our goal remains to become one of the safest boroughs in the country."

As part of the agreement, Westfield London is also paying around £750,000 over three years to provide a permanent onsite police team with high visibility patrols inside their centre. As well as acting on ward priorities the enhanced Shepherds Bush SNT will deter property crime and anti-social behaviour inside the centre.

HammersmithLondon Business Improvement District, which represents businesses around Hammersmith Broadway, is also ploughing in around £100,000 to help fund additional officers in the ward.

Cllr Smith concluded by saying:
"In an age when Police budgets are tight, because of the need to tackle the nation's massive budget deficit, it is up to councils and businesses to look at innovative ways that deliver what residents and customers want.

"The age of all Police officers being directly paid for by the Home Office or Mayor of London is over. If a business or local authority wants to buy in extra Police they should not just be able to - they should be encouraged to ."
Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi said:
"I am delighted that the council has agreed to continue their spending on enhanced policing within the three town centres. We are currently working with the local authority to finalise the targets and outcomes for these areas which fundamentally will be about reducing crime. A focus on these three areas will undoubtedly help us to reduce crime across the borough and disrupt criminals from moving around the borough. The re-investment in these teams sends out a strong message to those intent on committing crime in these areas that, as a borough, we will identify them and we will bring them to justice."
Shepherds Bush Green is also the focus of an intense police operation to crack down on burglars and violent robbers.Operation Target was launched earlier this month and sees the Flying Squad, traffic and mounted branches and undercover operations set up in a number of areas across the capital.

The operation is one of the most significant initiatives of its kind ever conducted by the Met Police and is a renewed drive to tackle crime against people and property in London leading to significant, long term reductions.

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Smith from Hammersmith & Fulham Police said:
"We want to make Hammersmith & Fulham one of the safest and most crime free Borough's in London. Over the coming months resources will be deployed to tackle crimes of violence, burglary, robbery, car crime and anti-social behaviour by targeting those relatively few people who commit the bulk of crime.

"As always, this task is always easier when the community support us and work with us. I would ask them to always consider basic levels of security."
All of this is great news - but we still have the situation of officers from the Shepherd's Bush SNT having to drive around in an un-funded van that is well past its sell by date and purchasing their own bits of kit. Since my night with them last Saturday I have been lobbying about this and will hopefully have some news next week on that too - you know where you'll read it first...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Fulham Chronicle make Private Eye "Rotten Borough" column again

The Fulham Chronicle's coverage of our Council has made the "Rotten Boroughs" column of Private Eye for what must be approaching a record number of appearances in the space of the last few weeks.

Here they are again ....

1800 UPDATE - A senior Council member and our MP have crossed swords over this today, with one leaving a comment on this article and other giving me a quote. I reproduce them below:

Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Services, said:

"This is simply balls. How can anyone say the Chronicle has become editorially biased in favour of the Council? Last weeks front page wasn't only a massive attack piece, but actually used Andrew S laughter's own words as the headline. They've attacked Earls Court regeneration, they've tried to make out the council isn't democratic, the list goes on... just look at their website!

Let's look at the reality of the situation: Without the advertising contract the Council has with the Chronicle, the STATUTORY planning notices alone would cost £120,000. We get them for £75,000 along with free advertising for things like asking people to come forward as foster carers and the double page spread which we use for events listings, informing people of road closures etc.

The Council has absolutely no say over ANY other content in the paper. If the Chronicle editor wants to edit contributors copy, that's his choice: not anything to do with H&F Council
Let's look at the reality of the situation: Without the advertising contract the Council has with the Chronicle, the STATUTORY planning notices alone would cost £120,000. We get them for £75,000 along with free advertising for things like asking people to come forward as foster carers and the double page spread which we use for events listings, informing people of road closures etc. 
The Council has absolutely no say over ANY other content in the paper. If the Chronicle editor wants to edit contributors copy, that's his choice: not anything to do with H&F Council.
While Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith said:
"Does anyone seriously believe that they negotiated two editorial pages every week in the Chronicle to save money. Smith and co's problem is that having had H&FNews to print their Pravda-style fantasies for four years they can't tell fact from fiction any more. Very 1984".

Row in Parliament over H&F Sure Start cuts

The cuts to Sure Start in our borough were again the subject of heated political debate in Parliament on monday, specifically the attempts that MP Andy Slaughter alleges is being made by our council to circumvent a court challenge to the threatened Cathnor Park Children’s Centre.

It would appear that despite a mother having brought a legal challenge the council is pressing ahead with cuts to staff before the court has had a chance to make a ruling. In response the hearing has been fast-tracked and brought forward to Friday.

Speaking to Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark, of the Department for Communities and Local Government, Mr Slaughter said:

"That is all very interesting, but from next month, nine Sure Start centres in Hammersmith and Fulham will lose more than 90% of their funding, and therefore will close. Parents at one of them—Cathnor Park—have got a judicial review going, but they are having to expedite it, because the council is going ahead with 50 redundancies and closing services, despite the fact that the courts have not yet considered these matters. Will the Minister at least go as far as advising that rogue council not to proceed with those closures until the courts and the parents have had their fair say?"
The Minister was having none of it, he replied:
"That is a superb council, and it certainly does not need any advice from me. In fact, I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman has not taken the opportunity to congratulate his council on saving every library in the borough, by merging the service with neighbouring boroughs, and on saving £1 million. When he was leader of the council, he doubled the council tax and his Labour administration was booted out at the election. The current, Conservative administration was returned with a healthy majority at the last council election"

£1million cocaine haul in Shepherd's Bush

Drugs with an estimated street value in excess of a million pounds have been seized by cops in Shepherd's Bush. 

The intelligence-led operation by officers from the Middle Market Drugs Partnership - in co-operation with the UK Border Agency - led to the recovery of 10 kilogrammes of cocaine and the disruption of an organised criminal network.

On Tuesday afternoon a package from Colombia was delivered by private courier firm to an address in Elm Grove, Cricklewood NW2.

Two men at the address took delivery, and then left the address on pedal cycles with the package.

They cycled to a parked-up vehicle, in which they placed both the package and bicycles and drove away.

They travelled to a unit on a business park in Depot Road, Shepherds Bush W12. A short time later police entered and found the men in the process of decanting the substance from the package into separate plastic tubs. Both were wearing rubber gloves.

Two Colombian men were arrested and are now in custody at a central London police station Nearby a third man was also arrested and he too remains at the central London police station.

DI Steve Miles from the Middle Market Drugs Partnership said: 
"We are determined to disrupt criminal networks on all levels. 
"Through this investigation we have successfully effected the recovery of a significant amount of drugs, no doubt destined for the streets of our cities."

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Thames Water: H&F are "scaremongering"

A BBC London report from yesterday on the latest shenanigans over the "super sewer" can be viewed here. What a pleasant change to see a news report on this issue that gives space for all sides in the debate!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

White City regeneration to "blight" David Cameron's house

How the Prime Minister's street will look - pic from Standard
The controversy over the White City regeneration plans, which involve large scale buildings and major new housing developments, took another turn in last night's Standard when residents of Kensington, who will have the tall buildings hanging over them, quite literally, claimed that the Prime Minister's own house would be blighted by the plans.

So now there are residents on both sides of the development campaigning against the Council's plans. I think on balance we need to see the new housing but question the extent to which there will be affordable housing - the Council claims there will be but residents point out that much of that will simply be them being transferred across.

Either way the Fulham Chronicle, under pressure about it's reporting since the propaganda deal with the Council, has resolutely refused to quote anyone apart from the Council or Boris Johnson on this story thus far. I wonder if they will now respond to the criticism and present a more balanced picture.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Policing Shepherd's Bush: My Saturday night

The china piggy bank was still smashed in pieces across the bed from where the burglar had scrambled through a third floor window to get into the flat and knocked it off the third floor window sill. We were on a follow-up visit to a young woman’s flat just off Uxbridge Road who’d left her place confidently but returned to find dirty trainer prints across the floor and the mess left by a thief. She was visibly shaken and, frankly, very scared. 

This was one of the reassurance visits that every victim of reported crime in Shepherd’s Bush can expect to receive from Police Community Support Officers, PCSOs, within days of the incident. It’s part of the investigation into the crime and we knocked on doors to see if anyone had heard or seen anything too but it is mainly aimed at making sure the victim is being looked after. A letter with a dedicated phone number is handed over along with advice on what’s likely to happen next. 

It was clear that this young woman was very shaken, and as far as she was concerned she wanted out of Shepherd’s Bush. “It’s too much” she said, recounting having been spat at and called various names involving sex that ended in “white girl” by gangs of lads on her way home. And now this. After a few minutes she grew visibly angry and added “but I can’t be living in fear like this, not in London. This sort of thing happens to a lot of people”. 

It was very clear to me that this short visit to the woman’s flat had made a difference, even if it didn’t either catch the thief or repair her sense of fear. She’d been listened to, and wasn’t just a statistic to the local police who spend most of their time quietly making Shepherd’s Bush a safer place to be. They’d be back, they said, and off we went. 

None of that exchange counted against any government performance statistics for the police but for that one victim it had been worthwhile. And that’s the point of the Safer Neighbourhood Team idea, a group of two sergeants, thirteen Constables and six PCSOs. In recent months Constable numbers have gone up from 10 but PCSOs have gone down from fifteen to six. These people spend all of their time, 24/7 on Thursday-Saturday and 18 hours a day the rest of the week, looking after W12. Special mention should also go to the six Special Constables, who work for free for the good of their community, who also work on the ward in support of the SNT and wider operations. Specials support the team daily especially at weekends. 

It was a privilege to spend a few hours with them on one Saturday night in the Bush, and this is just one account of what takes place during each extraordinary shift they put in.

First stop of the night shift - Shepherd's Bush Green
The night started with a stroll across the Green and before long it was clear that the Council’s determination to stamp out street drinking was being enforced rigorously. I saw tins of special brew being confiscated and poured away and men being searched for other substances. Everything was firm but fair, and resolutely polite in the face of some not-so-polite responses from those being searched. 

But we also came across the very human side of these people’s stories. These people mainly just want to sit on those benches and drink themselves into oblivion, mainly to forget. We met one emaciated looking man who explained to me that he was “dying”. He has terminal cancer and spends his time trying to forget. The humanity and respect with which he was dealt by the officers, who know him and most of the other regular drinkers on the green, was just as obvious as their determination to clear the local area of the problems that come with excessive alcohol use. 

Minutes later we were escorting one of the Green’s regulars into a van in handcuffs, for not having turned up in court at an earlier appointment. All of this took place in less than 20 minutes at the beginning of the shift. It was at that point we heard that three coach loads of people were on their way to the Wallkabout pub. The night was young. 

We moved from call to call in the van, which is a dilapidated old vehicle with no blue lights, answering everything from a group of lads seen possibly breaking into a car (they weren’t and it was their car anyway) through to visiting a hostel for young people playing loud music on Hetley Rd. The main point was not just to investigate but to be seen to investigate. These officers are aggressive. Aggressive in the sense that they want to talk to you and know how you see the world, the more they know about the community the more they can do for it. 

I even saw one of the sergeants comparing kebab outlets with the group of young lads who’d been questioned about the car, with both declaring that more research was clearly required on the matter. And they’d been seen by the community doing their jobs as well judging by the twitching net curtains dancing a jig in windows up and down the road. 

Back in the van, which is not either police or council funded and kept going on a wing and a prayer by the Shepherd’s Bush team, we moved from a violent man outside Bar FM to hopping out and talking to a young female beggar, who sometimes gets aggressive, outside Shepherd’s Bush tube who had two tins of aerosols up her sleeves. She too was well known, an addict that was a mother to children she would never see because they had to be taken away from her at birth due to her lifestyle. She has a lot to try and forget too. 

Then it was on to what was one of the last calls of the night and one which summed up, for me, the real value of having local teams that know the area intimately. 

A woman had been assaulted in a bar on the Edward Woods estate by a group of drunken young women. Despite speeding as fast as you can safely go in a van with no blue lights, donated to the police by the last Council administration in 2002 but which had its funding cut off by the same Council 18 months ago, we arrived just after the culprits had left. The bar woman had had vodka thrown in her face and her eyes were still stinging. She was clearly in shock and shaken, and had only worked at the bar for a couple of weeks. 

Edward Woods Estate
Off we went in pursuit into what was, by then, a dark and cold estate. A complete rabbit warren that would have been simply impossible to navigate unless you knew which block linked to which and where all the little alleyways were. The point was, these officers did. We’d located the three women within minutes by following some loud cackling – they were on a first level communal garden, which needed a special key to get through two doors and a fence, drinking vodka and juice and gyrating to music from a mobile phone. 

After much protestations of innocence one of the women was arrested and taken off to sober up and be interviewed in the morning. There followed at least an hour of statement taking back at the pub and it was here that the reality of the paperwork curse really hit home. Sergeant Finbar King explained that after every arrest in a case like this statements need not only to be taken but at almost every stage of the subsequent process the police are required to get involved, frequently performing roles that have little to do with actual policing and more to do with the criminal justice system, such as enforcing conditions given as part of a formal caution. 

When we left the pub the victim was still shaken but she too had been listened to, they’d be back to see her and the person that had allegedly carried out the assault had been caught. There is simply no way they would have been had the officers not known that estate backwards. 

Back at the station the team explained how they’d seen street robberies and other acts of petty crime fall dramatically in the last four years. They were clearly proud of the impact they’d already had and were some of the most dedicated people I think I have ever come across. These same people had only the day before taken part in a chase of a suspect that ended up with the discovery of a handgun. All on our behalf and with their resources shrinking at every turn. Let me give you a taste of what those cuts look like:

Those special keys that got them through the doors on the Edward Woods estate? They had to buy them themselves with their own money. That falling apart van? The door almost came off its hinges when we opened it back at the station. It now receives no Council funding and limited police funding for maintenance because of the unique way in which it was donated by the last Council administration in 2002 – but it is clearly an essential piece of kit. We simply wouldn't not have been able to put that many officers into the Edward Woods estate to deal with the incident we needed without it. 

And we were also accompanied by a Special Constable – in other words a volunteer police officer who works for no pay – who had just spent his entire annual leave allocation on mandatory training at Hendon police college in order to put himself potentially in harms way on our streets, on our behalf. Think of him next time you moan about a pay rise. 

I find this starving of resources for people that are willing to do a job for our streets, dealing with utmost humanity to a terminally ill alcoholic on the Green one minute and then a lippy violent drunk the next, not to mention the paperwork and the potential for knives and other dangers, an absolute scandal. More on that to come, I intend to take it up with the Council. 

But in the meantime ask yourself what you can do, too. In the light of the killing on Lakeside Road just weeks ago many of you were very critical of the police – and so they should be criticised when they get things wrong. But only a very few of those voicing the criticisms actually went to their local neighbourhood watch, which is the best way you can support these local officers doing their best. 

One of the young PCSOs, who had dealt so sensitively with the shaken burglary victim, told me that he’d organised a meeting recently for four roads with some of the most active and vocal residents groups in our Borough, including Pennard and Macfarlane Roads. Only 10 people had turned up. We can do better than that, Shepherd’s Bush. 

Find out more about Neighbourhood Watch here

And say hello to the next police officer you see – they really are busting a gut to make the Bush a better place.  

H&F propaganda on BBC One Politics Show today!

The Politics Show London will be debating our Council's use of tax payers money for propaganda through the Fulham Chronicle following the controversy that erupted over this after I highlighted how it had led the supposedly independent newspaper to censor the local MP.

Labour's Andy Slaughter will be leading the charge against this activity while Conservative Cllr Greg Smith will be batting for the Fulham Chronicle.

It's on today at high noon on BBC1 - you have been warned..

1130 UPDATE - Andy Slaughter has this to say on his website about the Chronicle, or "Pravda Mark II" as he calls it:

"New guidelines on stopping ‘propaganda on the rates’ forced the mutli-milllion pound (of our money) H&FNews to close in April, only to be succeeded by the new paid-for (by us) section of the Chronicle, dedicated to pictures of Tory councillors opening things and other fatuous sycophancy (‘events that we have a duty to share with residents’ according to one of the council’s legion of press officers)".

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Most un-parliamentary language

I fear I may have created a monster. Local Tories have been the butt of my warped humour on several occasions due to the rantings and ravings of one of their four lettered number, who can't seem to keep his explosions of wrath off the internet. Step forward Cllr Greg Smith, who is responsible for tweets like the one above about Eurovision or the one below about Formula 1, that even started to unsettle some of his erstwhile Conservative colleagues.

Now it seems the same scrutiny has been turned on Andy Slaughter's twitter feed, or rather that of his hapless assistant Imran Ahmed, who it would appear has been the author of many or most of Mr Slaughter's tweets to the public.

His mistake was to fall for the oldest temptation for any junior assistant in the book, and not just let his boss take the all the credit for his work. Instead he decided to publish exactly the same observations as he'd sent out in Mr Slaughter's name under his own banner too, just like the ones below:

Even worse for Mr Ahmed is that he clearly hadn't predicted who might be watching some of his more profane personal tweets either, which have been gleefully reproduced on the local Tory blog for H&F. Among the gems of wisdom he has chosen to share with his followers were the remarkable use of the words "shaft", "nerds" and "shite" in one sentence, while another of his musings managed to get a reference to Tony Blair in the same tweet as an observation on what cats do to each others' bottoms.

Mr Ahmed is clearly a communications all-rounder. He is also a local blogger.

But in their enthusiasm to put the boot in the Tories can't resist getting a dig too far in either, describing Mr Ahmed as, shock horror, Andy Slaughter's "taxpayer funded assistant". Yes, he is, just like every other of the 600+ MPs have in their offices too, including Greg Hands who I believe employs local Councillor Peter Graham - so Mr Graham is funded by the tax payer during the day and then again during the evenings for his Council work. P'raps best not to throw too many stones from glass houses, eh?

Red faces all round!

Masbro Centre employment day on thursday

For those of you affected by recessiomn Bush or just between jobs you could do worse than find your way down to one of our best community resources, the Masbro Centre, this coming thursday between 0930 and 1400. The flyer is below.

The Masbro Centre, on Masbro Road W14, is fully funded by H&F Council and describes itself as "your friendly community centre there to help you get the most of out of the facilities and services on offer" which are very wide ranging indeed - see here for details

More power to their elbow.
Preparing Yourself for Employment Day Thurs 23 June

Friday, 17 June 2011

QPR praised in Parliament

Our MP Andy Slaughter yesterday tabled what's called an Early Day Motion (EDM), which is a form of a petition for MPs in the House of Commons, congratulating Queen’s Park Rangers on winning the English Football League Championship and gaining promotion to the Premiership. The text of the EDM reads:

"That this House congratulates Queen's Park Rangers Football Club on winning the Championship and being promoted to the Premier League; acknowledges the skill, dedication and effort of Neil Warnock, his management team and players and the enthusiasm and loyalty of QPR fans worldwide; and looks forward to the return of Premiership football to Shepherds Bush and the continuation of the wonderful contribution the club makes to the local community through the activities of its outreach team, QPR in the Community Trust".

Andy said: 
“I am delighted that the Shepherds Bush has a top-flight team again – QPR have a long and proud history in West London and richly deserve this return to the Premiership, as do their fans, who have supported them loyally through some testing times.”
First among MPs who lined up to sign Andy Slaughter’s EDM yesterday was Alan Johnson, the recent Labour Home Secretary, who was born and bred in West London and has supported the R’s for 60 years.

It's a shame Andy didn't mention the fact that many of those loyal fans he rightly praises can no longer afford to see the club following Bernie Ecclestone's decision to hike ticket prices, prompting a boardroom resignation

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Have your say on District Line changes

Residents have more time to have their say about proposed changes to the District line in the borough, due in no small part to our Council standing up to TfL.

Transport for London (TfL) wants to increase capacity on the Wimbledon branch of the District line, through Fulham, by scaling back services on the “under used” train to Olympia. The plans have provoked reactions ranging from absolute fury to people basically agreeing with it on this blog so it's fair to say opinion is mixed.

One reader called Pete writing on this blog in March said:
"I could be wrong, but is this really a blow? Sounds like common sense to me - the service was so crap /infrequent that I can't believe many "local residents" really used it".
 But another called Jimmie Smith retorted:
"You may not live here and you may not visit but for those that do this is a vital link as there is no other easy way of reaching Olympia from Earls Court and the rest of the district line".
Hammersmith & Fulham Council says it understands the urgent need to improve services on the Wimbledon line but does not want it to be at the expense of the Olympia underground service.

Now residents, local businesses and any other affected groups or individuals have been given more opportunity to let TfL know what they think after the consultation period was extended until June 30.

Councillors met with TfL bosses last week to insist that any reduction in the number of services to Olympia must be balanced with improvements that make-up for the loss.

Councillor Nick Botterill, a local Top Tory who has on several occasions responded quickly to issues affecting the Bush, said:
“While many people support the plan to lay on more trains through Fulham the council does not believe this should be at the expense of people living in Olympia.

“I am glad TfL have extended their consultation period because it is vital that everyone affected by this possible change has the chance to have their say.

“We will continue to work closely with TfL to make sure residents get the best possible deal.”
In the coming months the number of off-peak Overground services to Olympia will increase from three to four an hour. The council has demanded further measures if the underground service is withdrawn including additional buses and new signage to identify alternative transport links.

TfL says it will ensure visitors to major events at Olympia do not miss out after agreeing to continue to serve the exhibition centre at key times to ensure its continued success and prevent major traffic congestion in the area.

If the District line service to Olympia were to be withdrawn it would be re-instated in 2018 when a full upgrade of the line, including signalling upgrades to Earls Court and new air conditioned trains, is complete. Lucky us.

Richard Parry of London Underground said:
“This District line is one of the busiest on the Tube network, used by 700,000 people a day. There are major benefits, especially for customers who use the Wimbledon branch with an additional five trains during the morning peak.”
 To have your say on the District Line proposals call TfL on 0845 330 9880 - and full marks to H&F Council on this, they appear to have been getting at least some movement from TfL.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

"Supersewer" war between Council & Thames Water

Well, now we're in all out war over the Thames Tunnel, or "super sewer" as the Council has christened it, again. This subject, which has dominated local news for years now, has flared up again prompted largely by an act of god as hundreds of thousands of tons of sewage was released into the river as a result of the flash storms we experienced in west London last week.

The Council, through the Fulham Chronicle, is now in full swing warning that Thames Water plans to knock down people's homes. Wait a minute, isn't that the same Council that had to retract exactly the same claim after it was dismissed by the Mayor of London and the Government? I think it was. And that time around as well they used a stooge to make the claim, in that case Raj Bhatia, a supportive residents association chair. This time they are using the Fulham Chronicle who have obligingly started a 'residents against the sewer' column.

Meanwhile, anglers have talked about how the recent release of sewage left thousands of fish dead, describing how they saw them gaspping for air on the surface. And the EU has repeatedly warned that high levels of pollution will result in fines unless plans are put in place to deal with the problem that our sewers simply can't cope anymore and need to be replaced.

I don't blame anyone in Fulham who is worried about losing their home campaigning against it, of course they would. I just wish that the council and their allies at the Chronicle would perhaps give a bit more of a balanced view of the project - after all, with this council's track record on this subject you have to take everything they say on the subject with a large bucket of salt.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

92% rise in homelessness in H&F

The Guardian has revealed that our borough has experienced one of the largest national rises in people applying for help due to being homelesss. And this is before the cuts agreed at this meeting, which includes cuts to services aimed at assisting homeless people, have even had a chance to bite.

Our council doesn't have the best record on homeless services as it is - they were forced to pay compensation after denying assistance to a homelesss pregnant woman who had been the victim of domestic violence after being referred to the Ombudsman by local homeless charity Threshold Housing Advice. The council have since withdrawn all funding from Threshold Housing Advice.The pregnant woman was forced to sleep on a bench and wash in McDonalds.

So it's increasingly being left to voluntary services like the Open Cinema group in Shepherd's Bush to do what they can. I actually started this blog in November 2008 after coming across a homeless man passed out next to the library building on Uxbridge Road.

Sadly victims like him look set to grow in number, it seems. 

Welcome to recession Britain.

1100 WEDNESDAY UPDATE: An H&F Council spokesman has been in touch to say: 
"The figure for this three month period is deeply misleading; the number of homeless decisions taken for the whole year 2010-11 is actually down 9%.

"Homelessness has consistently fallen in the borough over the last four years. The number of applications we received in 2010-11 is down more than 60% since 2007-08. This is due to the council’s highly-regarded intervention work to support people before they fall into homelessness.

"The increase in the final quarter of 2010-11 is the result of an effort by staff to clear all applications before the end of the financial year in April.

"The number of people presenting themselves to the council as homeless is also down by 3.5% year on year. These facts clearly demonstrate there is no major increase in homelessness in the borough."

Fulham Chronicle: MP calls for Government action

In the wake of the furore over the censorship of Andy Slaughter MP by the Fulham Chronicle it has emerged that a formal letter has now been sent to Local Government Minister Grant Shapps alleging that the newspaper's editorial policies are in breach of a government Code of practice on local authority publicity which was recently introduced by the Government aimed at preventing what Secretary of State Eric Pickles has called "propaganda on the rates".

The letter, which was sent to the Minister last week, gives specific examples of the Chronicle's pro-council bias including their apparent decision to support the Council's stance on the Thames Tunnel, or as the council likes to call it, the "super sewer". In his letter Mr Slaughter notes that since being forced by the Government to close it's propaganda paper "H&F News", which the Government themselves referred to as a "Town Hall Pravda", the local authority has has started an electronic newsletter which carries the same content. Mr Slaughter says:
"In particular the newsletter campaigns on political issues, for example a long standing Council campaigns against the Thames Tunnel".
He then adds:
"Simultaneously the Fulham Chronicle has launched a weekly column where opponents of the Thames Tunnel write in support of the council's campaign. This appears to be an example of the Council's large advertising and communications contract impacting editorial independence." 
Mr Slaughter concludes his letter by asking the Minister to take action. He says:
"Given these are clear, substantive and early breaches of the new Code, I believe it is necessary for the Government to take a closer look at this case and address what seems to be an attempt to undermine both the Code's letter and spirit.
It will be very interesting to see what the Government's response to this letter is, as soon as I know anything I will bring it to you.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Charles Bunyasi van death: Fulham man charged

A Fulham man has been charged in connection with the widely reported death of Charles Bunyasi (left) who was killed by thieves stealing his own van who then proceded to run him over with it on Saturday 11 June in Coulsden Surrey.

David Browne, 47,  of Fulham Road, SW6 has been charged with perverting the course of justice.

He appears in custody, by virtual court, (ie by video from prison) at Greenwich Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 14 June along with a man called Terell Thuesday, 28,of Redsan Close, Croydon who has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice and driving whilst disqualified.

A post-mortem examination held today gave cause of death as head injuries.

BBC TV Centre For Sale!

The BBC has put its iconic building up for sale according to reports today ... now that would make a real change to the Bush! Not to mention netting the Corporation a £300 million asking price.

The site is due to be empty by 2015 and of course our own Council's regeneration plan for the large area around Wood Lane looks set to transform the housing situation there too. That is not without its controversy, but what will surely be welcomed are the plans to invest in a new creative quarter in the Bush that may well take the place of the old BBC monolith.

Chris Kane, head of BBC Workplace, said:

"With high investor demand for commercial property in London and a shortage of landmark sites as distinctive as Television Centre, we anticipate strong competition for both conventional and innovative proposals."
Richard Deverell, W12 programme director, said:

"Television Centre has played an extraordinary and central role in the history of the BBC, which will not be forgotten."
Like many families in W12 we are also connected to the various creative industries in this area and I don't regard this sale as a particular threat to those, if anything it will carry on the growth in diversity we've seen here in recent years with a variety of edit houses springing up among others up and down the Goldhawk Road. I know lots of readers here are also involved in various ways with the industry .. .so what do you think?

QPR Tiger Cubs funding boost

QPR in the Community Trust have received a major funding boost with the news that 'Global Relief Initiative' - a registered charity founded by Trustee Amit Bhatia - is committed to supporting, for a three-year period, the R's Tiger Cubs, a fully inclusive Football Club for children with Downs Syndrome (DS).

The financial support given by Bhatia - which was agreed prior to the end of the 2010/11 campaign - is set to benefit the Club by eight times than its current outreach.

Founded in 2008, the Tiger Cubs project has gone from strength to strength and is a scheme that the Community Trust, QPR and its fans are extremely proud of.

Bhatia - who has been an active ambassador of the Community Trust since its formation over two-and-a-half years ago - set up the Global Relief Initiative in 2010 to help improve and enhance the lives of people in need, particularly those who are living in socially or economically disadvantaged communities throughout the world.

The charity is grant-awarding which facilitates the making of financial and other contributions to fellow charities which, in turn, use such contributions to further and enhance their line of social change.

On the subject of his donation to the Tiger Cubs, Bhatia said:
"Myself, as well as the team at Global Relief Initiative, am incredibly proud and excited about the recent association with the QPR Tiger Cubs. 

"The work that they do for children with Downs Syndrome is exceptional and we are very much looking forward to helping them expand their support network and this opportunity to a wider population."
Trust CEO Andy Evans also took time to praise the gift from Bhatia's charity, adding:
"The beauty of working with the Tiger Cubs in partnership with Global Relief Initiative is that QPR in the Community Trust are able to provide much needed support to families and individuals within the QPR community, which is absolutely fantastic.

"Equally the Tiger Cubs are all so passionate about supporting QPR and are as excited about representing a Premier League team next season.

"Only a few years ago Football Clubs were viewed solely as teams that competed on the pitchevery weekend.

"A modern day Premier League Club does far more than that, they now have very dedicated Community Trust staff running an array of community-focused projects that are having an enormous impact in this case for children and families living with Downs Syndrome.

"This is just the beginning of a very exciting partnership and we are delighted to be supported by Global Relief Initiative."

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Incident on Uxbridge Road

A large fight took place on the corner of Uxbridge and Davis Roads at 4am this morning, just over the border in Ealing past Askew Road. A reader, who lives nearby, writes:
"there appears to have been an incident where a young person, possibly a young man, has been injured: worst thoughts are that he's probably been attacked as he's lying in the middle of the road and there's no sign of any vehicles". 

"We were woken by general commotion of voices and a girl screaming but there were no other loud bangs or the like leading up to it. There's now a large number of police officers taking statements and a police corden. About 15mins after the incident happened (I made it roughly 4:20am) there was still no sign of any ambulance."
I have put in a call to Police but if anyone else knows anything, follow the usual drill and use the comments section...

1130 UPDATE - Just back from the scene - Police have told me that there was no fatality involved which is obviously a big plus, while passers by commented that the same group of men who usually fire themselves up at a nearby off-licence are suspected of being involved. We'll know for sure when we get the official line from the Police but it's clear that casual acts of violence seem to be a common problem on this stretch of the road, at least as far as local people are concerned.

What is extraordinary about this incident to me is that the detritus of the fight is actually spread across three sites - Davis Road, Third Avenue and Uxbridge Road itself. It must have been a very ugly scene indeed. Forensics are on at least two of those scenes with a forensic tent on Davis Road itself.

1200 TUESDAY UPDATE - I have received a statement from the police about the incident which suggests the assault was a non-fatal stabbing. Here is what a spokesperson told me:
"Police were called to reports of a man having been stabbed on 12th June 2011 at approx 04:25 in Davis Road, W3. 

Upon arrival, police attended a 23 year old man suffering wounds to his leg. A police cordon was put in place and LAS attended to take the victim to hospital where he was treated for non life threatening injuries.

No arrests and enquiries are ongoing. 

If you have any information relating to this incident please contact police on 0300 123 1212 or anonymously via Crimestoppers 0800 555 111"

Friday, 10 June 2011

Shepherd's Bush Green: yes to trees no to cafe

Shepherd’s Bush Green will lose some trees but will not have a new café following large scale objections from local residents and business owners, in what seems to me to be a reasonable adjudication from the Planning Inspectorate. You can read the adjudication in full below.

H&F Council wanted to completely redevelop the Green involving the felling of several of the larger trees and the construction of a new café, along with landscaping features as well. Following objections from locals an inquiry was called which met over a series of days at HammersmithTown Hall and which heard deputations from both the Council and those opposed to elements of the scheme who feared the rubbish that the café would generate and disputed the need for the trees to be felled. 

One thing both sides did agree on, however, was that this communal space needs to be invested in and I think there is something in this judgement for everyone. The Council will be disappointed that the café is not going to happen while some will feel aggrieved that some of the trees are to go (but be replaced), but it seems to me that a sensible compromise has been reached.

It does mean that there will be two new play areas for children, more trees overall and improved routes across the Green for pedestrians and cyclists - that can only be good news.

Hopefully all sides can work together to make the most of this space.

1350 UPDATE: H&F Council have given me this reaction: Cllr Greg Smith, cabinet member for resident's services, said:
"I am delighted that we can finally move ahead with this scheme which will undoubtedly benefit everyone who lives near, visits or works in and around Shepherds Bush, as well as rejuvenating a green space that needs a boost. It is frustrating that an expensive and lengthy public hearing was deemed necessary but we now look forward to starting on this exciting scheme."
But the local MP Andy Slaughter has a different take on affairs, he says this:
"Yes to trees and no to unwanted building – a victory for the big society over big government, I think. Perhaps they can spend the half a million they were going to waste on the cafe on proper toilets in the area now. Well done to everyone who took part in the Inquiry".
1420 UPDATE - Local resident and chair of the macfarlae Road Residents Assn Viv James has added her welcome to the report, calling it a:
"victory for common sense and I imagine that both residents and the Council are relatively satisfied with the outcome"
Shepherds Bush COM 193.Decision 09-06-11.Final

Cable car ride across the Thames!

A perfect friday one, this - enjoy, and have a good week-end!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Have your say on plans to deal with drunks

Shepherds Bush residents have only till midnight tomorrow to comment on plans that should enable the council to clamp down on the late night scenes of vomit and violence we regularly experience courtesy of some of the dodgier pubs in our midst, such as the Walkabout on the Green

H&F Council wants to know what people think about introducing a "saturation zone" in Shepherds Bush that will give residents more power to stop anti-social behaviour on their doorstep.

The special licensing policy will help the Council put a stop to some of the worst anti-social behaviour by preventing town-centre outlets from opening later, or new venues being granted a licence at all.

Venues such as pubs, bars, off-licences and takeaways will not be able to extend their opening hours or change any of their licensing conditions if residents say it will have a negative impact on an area that already has lots of pubs, clubs and bars.

The Council hopes the zone, which stretches from Uxbridge Road and Goldhawk Road, around Shepherds Bush Green and to Askew Road in the west, will slash the amount of street crime and anti-social behaviour commited by late-night drinkers.

Councillor Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Resident Services, said the policy would put residents back in charge because the onus is on pubs and bars to prove a late license would not harm the area. Currently any person wishing to object to an application would need to prove how a new licence or licence for extended hours would have a detrimental effect on the area.

Cllr Smith said: 
"Residents should not have to put up with aggressive, drunken yobs marauding through our town centre. This policy shows we are determined to do something about late-night anti-social behaviour that has caused enough misery."
The scheme has been in place in Fulham since January 2010 and residents have already seen its powers put into force.

Late night venue Havana's in Fulham Road put in an application to stay open for an extra half an hour each night, until 2.30am, and to sell alcohol until 1.45am rather than its current 1am cut-off. The bar also wanted to remove a condition that no football shirts could be worn in the bar.

But a dozen residents wrote to the licensing sub-committee stating their lives had been made hell by drunken thugs urinating through her letter box, people having sex in the road and fighting in the middle of the street.

If residents or the police tell the licensing sub-committee that they believe a new licence will cause trouble in the area, then the potential licensee would have to explain how they would prevent that problem from happening in the first place.

Existing licences for premises within the zone would not be affected by the policy but applications to vary their licences, for example a pub wanting permission to open later into the night, would have to be made taking into account the new policy.

Full credit to the council for taking these measures, which I know many of you from what you send me from time to time feel are long overdue.

* To have your say on the proposed saturation zone visit or call Adrian Overton at H&F Council on 020 8753 3081.