Retiring H&F Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh has been appointed Deputy Mayor for Policing by the newly re-elected Boris Johnson in news coming out of the Evening Standard. This is another step up for Mr Greenhalgh who long ago outgrew the H&F pond and leaves a few struggling to fill his shoes in the ensuing leadership contest in which Cllr Nick Botterill is a leading contender.
The policing post is one of the most high profuile and important in the whole Mayoral system fro London, and not only because of the riots of last August. Knife crime and other elements of anti social behaviour continue to dominate the news as does the ongoing debate about numbers of police. They have either reduced or gone up depending on which starting point you use and unsurprisingly politicians use the one that suits their argument.
Boris famously declared that the News International phone hacking scandal was all a load of cobblers and shouldn't be bothered with. His then Deputy Mayor for Policing (and our own Assembly member) Kit Malthouse tried to tell the Police to stop investigating. While Mr Greenhalgh fills Mr Malthouse's shoes Boris' own spin doctor has moved on the roundabout to go and work for, er, News International. It's tight at the top.
What this may also mean locally is that Mr Greenhalgh's mooted taking on of the White City regeneration project is now off - I just cannot see how you could possibly do both jobs, as both seem to be very large in scale and profile. If he carries on he'll be accused of odd-jobbing on two critical projects and he is far too clever for that.
It may also mean that he stands down as a Councillor in H&F provoking a by-election. One Tory that lost his previously rock-solid Barnet & Camden seat was Brian Coleman, who held at least three positions - Councillor, Cabinet Member in Barnet and Fire Authority Chairman. He patently couldn't do them all properly and yet took the paycheques - and paid the price.
The comparison stops there because Mr Coleman was also a very rude man with the social skills of a demented rhino whereas Mr Greenhalgh is quite affable - but he'll want to avoid the pitfall, surely.
So ... interesting times ahead both for him and for H&F as ever!
WEDNESDAY UPDATE - Well, there's more than a little confusion about this now. The Evening Standard, for a long time Boris' cheerleaders, were very quick to announce Greenhalgh's appointment but it seems City Hall wasn't quite so sure. I have been told that the BBC cannot get Boris' office to confirm the appointment and that they have been told that it is, as yet, unconfirmed.
This is perhaps why H&F Council's press office have decided to quietly ignore some questions I put to them about what all of this means for us here, in particular Mr Greenhalgh's role in the White City redevelopment scheme. Probably because they don't know and were caught on the hop themselves.
The BBC have reported it as "chaos" as it appears that to take on such a role Mr Greenhalgh would already have needed to relinquish his role as Leader of H&F. He doesn't do that until the end of this month. So the law says he can't.
So it seems that in their desire to reward the Standard for their loyalty during the election they briefed the paper perhaps a bit too early, which the paper in its desire for a scoop then turned into a fully fledged story before City Hall had gotten all its ducks in a row. Embarrassing for all concerned.
1300 WEDNESDAY UPDATE - The Standard are in full row-back mode, paddling furiously and declaring the whole charade to be a "complete shambles", conveniently ignoring their own role in making it so. I have been told by moles both within Hammersmith political circles and at City Hall that the basic argument is that Mr Greenhalgh doesn't want to stand down as a councillor and didn't realise that he would have to. He was also not expecting the announcement to be brought forward. And these are the people being entrusted with our Police Service?
THURSDAY UPDATE - Greenhalgh has now announced he will be standing down as a councillor in H&F in order to take on the job offered to him by Boris. This will mean a by-election in Fulham which the Conservatives will win comfortably, but which which will provide the local political classes with much to talk about in the days and weeks ahead!