Monday, 16 January 2012

Hammersmith Flyover - 20 people turn up for meeting

Sit at the end and not at the table - Tories play schoolboy politics
After all the fire & fury generated around a political meeting about the Hammersmith Flyover closure called by the local Conservatives, and featuring not the MP for Hammersmith but a neighbouring Conservative instead, I understand only around 20 non political people actually turned up to spend their Saturday afternoon listening to TfL and the political class give us the benefit of their collective wisdom. 

I reported here how the proposed public meeting, at the West London Free School, had generated a row in Parliament with Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter rightly pointing out that this was a bit of a cheek. But Mr Slaughter turned up anyway, as you can see from the photo above, and was permitted to sit at the end. Playground stuff.

At the meeting David McNeill, director of public affairs and stakeholder engagement for TfL, announced that the flyover would remain partially open for around four months. The politicians generally criticised TfL for having been taken by surprise about the whole thing. And there were some angry questions from the floor, usually followed by Mr McNeill being unable to answer the "technical" questions because he wasn't an engineer.

I bring all of this to you courtesy of the excellent Boris Watch blog, who's intrepid reporter was one of those who attended the meeting, and who snapped the above image. Their description of the meeting in a tweet above kind of sums up the occasion, really. You didn't miss much.

And by the power of modern technology witness the exchange in the Commons below - scroll in to 15.32


  1. After the meeting, Tory MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Mary Macleod, was driven back to Chiswick by Hounslow Tory Councillor, Barbara Reid. Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council, Ruth Cadbury, cycled back to Brentford. Macleod has just complained on Twitter this morning that the Hammersmith traffic is backed up to Hogarth Roundabout - evidently unable to see that she and her ilk are part of the problem.

  2. Ah, good. I told Adam Lake (who was the person responding to the emails about the meeting) that it was a waste of everyone's time and that TfL wouldn't be able to answer any technical questions.

    I also told them that they wouldn't hear anything which went beyond what TfL had said in press releases. I'm glad to see that my expectations were confirmed...

    1. This whole piece made me laugh. The guy who told you that there were only 20 people was a labour councillor. There were over 100 people there, as you could have seen on London Tonight who covered it as well as the Evening Standard and LBC.

    2. No ... there were loads of politicos there (of which you were probably one) who were cheering "their" people

  3. "The guy who told you that there were only 20 people was a labour councillor"

    That'll be me talking to Chris on Twitter (as @BorisWatch), and for the record I'm not even a Labour member (disliked New Labour intensely and generally vote across the slate for anyone without a blue rosette or Nazi tendencies) and have never stood for election anywhere.

    The '20 people' comment was based on my impression that there were only about 20 people there who might be considered 'normal' members of the public turning up to try and find things out rather than politicians*, assistants to politicians (applauding in blocks depending on who was talking), political bloggers (hands up myself and Helen) or journalists (the bloke behind me from the Standard, for one). There were about 60-80 or so actual bodies, I reckon (mostly full 8-10 rows about 8 or so seats wide). A lot of people seemed to know each other by name.

    Having said that, it was a robust but not unfair meeting, contrary to what I was expecting - the partial reopening plus the rebalanced panel took the edge off what could easily have been a Tory rally.

    * Apart from the four politicians on the panel; one Labour AM (Murad Qureshi), at least one Labour Hammersmith councillor (Stephen Cowen), probably more, and two Tory Hounslow councillors (Barbara Reid/Samantha Davies). I'm not by any stretch an expert on west London councillor I-Spy, I might add, Helen's far better than me at that.

  4. Not surprised about low attendance.

    Who would waste their time going to this?

    Only someone who wants to watch a load of politicians with an exaggerated opinion of their own relevance.