Thursday, 27 June 2013

Brackenbury Street Party

I've been asked to let you know the Andover Arms is Hosting The Brackenbury Village Coronation Street party this Saturday 29th June 2013. Noon to 8pm on Aldensley Road W6 0DL. Road closures will be in place.

There will be "tons of street food" and loads of Street Stalls including...Artists, Jewellery Makers, Henna Art. Face Painting. Charity Tent.Kids Disco. 3 Live Bands and more.

More info here

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

West Ken: Boris ambushed, chased into City Hall

Tally Ho
Boris Johnson is a thoroughbred Tory, which is why he is so popular with the rank and file. He recently argued for the introduction of fox hunting into London, saying he "did not care" what the animal rights lobby would think about it. Grr, you go get 'em Bozza!

But today he was pursued across the green, rather like a terrified mammal, by some very angry people. No top hats and tails in evidence here, but they were waving letters and postcards urging the Mayor to think again over the fate of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates.They were accompanied by Andy Slaughter MP, who has supported their campaign.

Cornered: cameras roll as answers demanded
Fresh from evidence surfacing of some shady lobbying having taken place, and an "investigation" into former H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh that didn't interview any witnesses, the people fighting to save their communities against the joint goliaths of our Council and their colleagues CapCo came face to face with the man the Evening Standard likes to fawn over as the next Prime Minister in waiting.

Despite not facing the grizzly end of a fox about to be dispatched by hounds, the Mayor seemed very unhappy at having to meet the hoi polloi and, after accepting the petitions and letters being offered to him by the residents, ran into City Hall as fast as his legs would carry him.

If in doubt, use a Prime Ministerial hand gesture
The residents, who really weren't all that fearsome, simply wanted to make their point known. Here's what they said in their letter:
Dear Mr Johnson

Earl’s Court redevelopment

Further to the previous representations made by the residents of the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates, we are writing to request that you refuse consent for the Earl’s Court redevelopment scheme on the following grounds:

Over the past four years, West Kensington & Gibbs Green residents have consistently said no to demolition and yes to community control: in 2009, 80% of households signed a petition against demolition and for residents to determine their own future; in 2011, two thirds of residents joined West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes, the company established to use the law to transfer the estates into community ownership; in 2012, by a majority of 4:1, residents said no to demolition – responses to the consultation from over 500 residents, aged 4 to 92, are available here:; in 2013, 60% of households signed a petition asking the Government to refuse consent for the disposal of the estates to the developer and to make the regulations that would enable us to transfer ownership to the people (Appendix 1).

The High Court will be hearing the judicial review of the Earl’s Court SPD for three days starting 17 July. We think it would be premature for you to determine the Earl’s Court scheme Stage II referral in advance of the Judge’s decision.

We are concerned that the vast majority of the homes planned for development will likely be sold at premium prices to off-shore investors who will hold them for investment rather than occupy them or let them to others, and that only 10% of the new homes will be ‘affordable’ for Londoners, albeit at near market rents and prices.

We are heartened by your support for Community Land Trusts; our ambition is for our community to own our estates so we can make the improvements we need, take greater charge for the welfare of our neighbours, develop more housing and facilities, and preserve and create employment to contribute to wider need.

Our previous invitation for you to visit our estates and meet with residents remains open.

Yours sincerely

Sally Taylor, Chair West Kensington estate Tenants & Residents Association
Diana Belshaw, Chair Gibbs Green Tenants & Residents Associations
Keith Drew, Chair West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes

Monday, 24 June 2013

West Ken: Lobbying scandal hits

Our Council routinely dismisses opponents of the West Ken estate demolition plan as "leftists" or stooges of the former Mayor Ken Livingstone. As if to prove them right the Mail on Sunday, that well known lefty rag, reports that the lobbyists behind the scheme which has been so bitterly opposed by residents who want to save their community, but which stands to make our Council millions, have been actively trying to remove any obligation to provide affordable homes as part of the scheme.

The Mail on Sunday claims that secret documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Capco, the developers, persuaded Sir Edward Lister, Boris Johnson's deputy, to get councils to drop a periodic review of affordability if the scheme proved more profitable than expected.

Our Council dutifully concluded such a review of affordability would "not be appropriate".

When those dyed in the wool socialists at the Mail on Sunday last did a bit of digging on this murky deal Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, claimed that there would be 20% provision of affordable homes, which he argued was plenty. He said: ‘
Twenty per cent of new homes in the development will be affordable for local people, the highest figure that can reasonably be reached without any taxpayer subsidy while keeping the scheme commercially viable".
So that's OK then.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Road chaos from next week

The busy left turn from Shepherd's Bush Green onto Uxbridge Road will be closed for six weeks from Monday. Drivers will instead be diverted down Wood Lane to follow South Africa Road around back onto Uxbridge Road.

The roadworks are needed to fix a collapsed underground chamber belonging to BT, which sits underneath the junction. The engineers will need to destroy the chamber and rebuild it using concrete, which means it takes aaaaages for the concrete to dry.

Further details about the stages of the work can be found on the Council's website here.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Hospitals: H&F Council "dangerously confused" says MP

The author Franz Kafka used to write books that challenged your sense of reality - and the debate about our borough's future of healthcare is increasingly surreal. One of the versions simply can't be right.

Our Council, it's fair to say, is unhappy with the line I generally take on their position. They take issue with the idea that they are happy with the closure of our A&E departments and argue that they simply negotiated for the best they could get. Here's what a spokesperson told me yesterday:
"We are not backing A&E closures - what we have been doing is negotiating the best possible deal for residents on future of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals. We are absolutely delighted that the campaign has forced a major u-turn in that new proposals now protect the future of CX where as the original proposals did not. We have said all along that we have not got everything that we wanted but we are continuing to talk to the NHS/health providers to ensure that our hospitals offer the best possible services to our residents".
And yesterday a "good news" press release was sent out, entitled "securing a brighter future for healthcare", again from the Council, which announced the creation of a new Health & Wellbeing Board which will oversee the changes they have agreed with NHS bosses. Cllr Marcus Ginn said:
"The community campaigned achieved a huge amount," he said. "We effectively safeguarded the future of hospital itself. While we recognise that, we are not taking our eye off the ball. We are continuing to negotiate for more."
Cllr Ginn said he supports the plan to provide a world-class specialist emergency centres for the most complex cases, but wants to improve the level of everyday emergency care available at the new Charing Cross.
"Whether it is in the home or in the hospital, we will do everything we can to ensure our residents receive the very best standard of care.I have said all along that this is best done by sitting down and working with our healthcare partners. That is exactly what we are doing."
All sounds like a bright new world, but as the vid above shows, the community campaign is far, far from convinced. And, frankly, they are angry. Here's Andy Slaughter MP, responding to Cllr Ginn this morning:
"Cllr Ginn appears dangerously confused and I would advise he seeks emergency medical treatment (though this will not be available at the borough’s A&Es under the plans the Conservatives are promoting as they will both close). 
Once again the Tory councillors are treating residents with contempt. Their claim to have ‘effectively safeguarded’ Charing Cross is a cobbled together proposal to close only 87% of services on the site rather than the 97% which the current NHS decision demands. In both schemes the main hospital would be demolished, at least 90% of beds go, all acute services including A&E would close and the majority of the land be sold for luxury high rise flats. 
Instead of insulting our intelligence perhaps Cllr Ginn would like to join the Save our Hospitals campaign every Saturday in King Street, where we rally support for our NHS and counter the Council’s lies".
Two very different versions. For me it's quite straightforward - the Council did a deal which wasn't anywhere near good enough. It's interesting that they have started to hint that they are "negotiating for more" without specifying what that "more" may be, if only because it illustrates how even they must know how poor the deal is.

In the meantime the legal challenges brought by Ealing Council now appear the last best hope to make the Government think again, and to save at least some of our A&E services.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Hospitals: Demo outside Town Hall meeting this week

Wednesday will see a demonstration taking place outside Hammersmith Town Hall as campaigners continue to register their anger at our Council's decision to switch sides and back the closure of all A&E Departments in the borough.

The Health Scrutiny Committee will be meeting that evening and campaigners plan to gather from 6.30pm outside the Town Hall, before attending the meeting itself, which will therefore be a fairly classic rowdy exchange.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Have your say on crime

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday this week at 7pm at Shepherds Bush Village Hall, Bulwer Street, W12 8AR. Council officers will be joined by the local police safer neighbourhood team to hear your views on crime and anti social behaviour. There may be a lot to discuss...

Thursday, 13 June 2013

H&F Council fines: reader competition

Yesterday evening's Panorama programme was reputation-shredding for this Council. From motorists being forced into committing other motoring offences for fear of Bagley Junction, known as the "money box" in reference to our Council's profiteering, through to officials demanding a "rap on the knuckles" for their colleagues who were outrageously determined to comply with Freedom of Information requests, a host of independent experts concluded H&F was more about extracting cash to enable them to claim they were a "low cost borough" than anything to do with traffic management.

In my article yesterday I highlighted the "no right turn" rule for the turning from Bloemfontein Road into Bryony Road as an example. The Council, in correspondance I have seen, admits that the signage is inadequate and for that reason from 2008-2010 did not enforce the rule. But in 2010 they had a change of heart and since then have made nearly £200,000 from it.

A reader has sent me a pic of the junction and I share it as an example of what our Council seem to be up to. Have a look and see if you can spot the "no right turn" sign. And bear that in mind when you hear our Council suggest it's all about easing congestion.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Traffic fines: H&F exposed

Panorama will tonight expose our Council to bucket loads of shame. Excruciatingly embarrassing documents, obtained by a local campaigner under the Freedom of Information Act, blow our Council's claims to be on the side of the motorist clear out of the water.

"Another record month, guys. Well done" is but one of the exchanges between officials who our Council have confirmed are chasing performance bonuses based on the amount of cash they can extract from drivers caught in notoriously bad junctions. Even a bus company threatened to divert a route away from the Bagleys Lane junction in Fulham, which prompted our Council to demand that they pay for the junction to be changed. So much for public transport.

CCTV, which our Council claims to be all about reducing congestion, is revealed by these documents to have another motivation altogether. Referring to a new CCTV scheme one is simply entitled: "Aim of project: to increase parking revenue (target: additional £5m)". I look forward to seeing how the Council intends to spin that one.

Since I started this blog I have received a steady stream of other examples from readers. This includes, for example, Simon, a local businessman, who was fined £80 for parking his car for five minutes on a Sunday evening in a "loading bay only" space on Gayford Road W12 so he could get something in the shop. 

Contrast that with our Council's behaviour when caught out by its own car-traps. The Telegraph reports that the Mayor, Francis Stainton, has even had a yellow line outside her house suspended so that she can stop her Mayoral car there when getting in and out. Nick Botterill, Leader of the Council, claims that this is "discretion", and that the Mayor is elderly.

Well, Nick, I remember myself witnessing a woman on Davisville Road W12 with a young child fined as she assisted her elderly mother into her house because she could not walk up the steps unaided, having just had a hip operation. All of this took place in full view of the traffic warden, who issued her a ticket anyway as they struggled up the steps. When both she and I asked him why he felt he had to, he just smirked and walked off. 

That seems to be the face of our Council's approach to car owners in this borough. One rule for us, for the rest of you ... just hand over the cash. They fully deserve their forthcoming shower of shame courtesy of the BBC this evening.

1430 UPDATE - Well. the fur is flying. Our Council have called this evening's programme a "hatchet job", with this furious post from Cllr Harry Phibbs implying it is all part of the BBC's questionable impartiality, which is a favourite subject among Conservatives. Not sure how the Daily Mail piece is a lefty conspiracy though.

On the other hand I spoke to Andy Slaughter earlier today, who highlighted a case faced by one of his Bush constituents. She was caught out by a "no right turn" sign from Bloemfontein Road into Bryony Road. Having raised it with the Council it turns out that even they accepted the signage was dodgy so they didn't enforce it for several years. But then they changed their mind and issued almost 3,000, raising around £200,000 by relying on a camera based on signage they have admitted in correspondence which I have seen are inadequate.

West Ken: Greenhalgh to be formally cleared

A meeting at the Greater London Authority (GLA) will tomorrow rubber stamp the clean bill of health given to former H&F Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, over allegations of a criminal conspiracy to skew the results of residents' surveys in favour of the controversial Earl's Court demolition plans, effectively by bribing them with promises of new homes if they agreed to support the Council.

The allegation, which was classified as a serious criminal charge, was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in light of Mr Greenhalgh's new role as Deputy Mayor for Policing. The IPCC found that there was no case to answer and referred the issue back to the GLA's Police & Crime Committee which, as the report above indicates, is left with no other option than to "resolve" the complaint "informally". Crucially, however, the IPCC did not investigate the matter itself, for example by taking the time to actually talk to the residents, but instead relied on evidence produced by Deloittes - which the Council had appointed and paid to investigate itself.

So what are we to make of this? Local Tories have responded angrily accusing Jonathan Rosenberg, the community organiser supporting the residents campaign to save their homes, of making malicious complaints in order to delay a legitimate planning process. Mr Rosenberg hits back with allegations about the nature of the IPCC inquiry itself.

Here's Mr Greenhalgh, who makes it clear the allegations were about politics, in his mind:

"The IPCC has finally concluded that there is no basis to these defamatory allegations which were entirely politically motivated. I am extremely proud of my record as Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader and I remain focused on serving London in my important role as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime."
Yet speaking last night, Jonathan Rosenberg was scathing:
"It is common knowledge on the estates that preferential treatment was offered to some tenants in return for supporting demolition: there are witness statements from those present at meetings where the Council admitted what it had done and from those who were made offers in return for backing the redevelopment.

The IPCC decided not to investigate the allegation of misconduct without obtaining evidence directly from the tenants. Instead it relied on the Deloitte investigation that was commissioned by the Council. This investigation was flawed because it excluded from any consideration and examination the two most critical sources of evidence ie direct accounts from the residents who alleged they had received preferential offers of Council accommodation and the contemporaneous paper and electronic records of the relevant Council officers.

It cannot be right that the Council seeks by subterfuge to contrive that no proper investigation of these allegations of serious and criminal wrongdoing takes place and that evidence is not taken from the key witnesses.

We have, again, asked the Council and the Police to investigate this matter properly by interviewing the tenants concerned".
I find it extraordinary that the IPPC was content to rely on evidence obtained by a company with a potential conflict of interest in doing so. Deloitte conducts consultancy work for local authorities, yet was asked to investigate the conduct of a potential customer. For the IPCC to think that that was fine to my mind brings their purpose as a robust and fearless investigator into question. They are clearly not, and this case adds to the long list of IPCC "investigations" that have been found wanting.

However looking at the report there are some fairly damning holes in the case presented by those alleging that the secret list of residents promised properties, including one person (on page seven) who admits that he made it up for effect. If that's true then natural justice surely does put Greenhalgh in the clear.

Either way we will never really know because it has never been properly, thoroughly or independently investigated - and I don't think that is fair either on the part of the residents making the allegations nor, actually, on Mr Greenhalgh who will always now have this question mark hanging over him.

A murky world. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hammersmith & Fulham: Genital wart central

Goody bags, condoms & chlamydia screening
Our borough has been awarded the dubious honour of having the highest level of genital wart infection in the capital, while the borough is near top of the list for all sexually transmitted infections, according to a disturbing report in the Evening Standard.

I remember attending this event in 2009 during a staycation in White City once and being dumbfounded by the promotional material which seemed to place chlamydia alongside music and food as being among the things teenagers were most keenly interested in. It seems these grim numbers confirm what the event organisers knew all along.

What the report in the Standard doesnt really address is what the NHS and other services intend to actually do about it. I would think that the new health centre currently being constructed next to Wormholt Park is going to be something of a centre of excellence on the subject from a medical point of view, but that's only ever going to be picking up the pieces.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

£60 million sticking plaster for Hammersmith Flyover

Costain the road people have been awarded a massive contract by Transport for London of £60million to extend the lifetime of the crumbling Hammersmith flyover which threatened to disrupt last years Olympics. The road, which bears the weight of 90,000 vehicles daily, is in dire shape. According to the Evening Standard the contract is the first in a series with Transport for London worth £200 million. Work on the flyover, which will include reinforcing, waterproofing and resurfacing, is expected to begin in October.

Our Council is not best pleased. Here's Leader Nick Botterill:
“We know that vital repairs are necessary to the flyover but this needs to be the last time TfL spends a huge amount of taxpayers’ money on maintaining this monstrosity. Any other cash set aside for future work to the flyover needs instead to be pumped into making the flyunder a reality".

“A new tunnel solution would dramatically improve the quality of life for thousands of west Londoners and link the riverfront with Hammersmith town centre for the first time since the 60s.”
Difficult to disagree.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bush Hall Dining Rooms - OPENS TODAY

Bush Blog Editor Nathalie Bristow gives us the lowdown on the latest addition to the Bush's eateries:

If you have lived in the Bush for more than 5 years you have lived through the Uxbridge Road culinary revolution. Cast your mind back to W12 pre-Princess Victoria, Hummingbird Café, the Adelaide revamp and the Bush Theatre’s new Café Bar in the old Library. It was slim pickins’ unless you fancied a kebab (albeit the best kebab cuisine has to offer with King Solomans, Naama and Mr Falafal). Abu-Zahd, Esarn Kheaw, Patio and the Albertine will always have a special place in our hearts as the steadfast old-timers – the restaurants who invested in W12 long before all these new comers but there is something very exciting about what is happening for good food and drink lovers – new places are opening all over the place…

TONIGHT Bush Hall Dining rooms opens! Listen. I so wanted this new eating and drinking place to be great. Not just because Bush Hall is great and the owners Charlie and Emma are local heroes but because I like to eat and drink well. Having blogged here about it a while back I have been stopped in the street with people demanding answers, ”It does look great but… what’s the menu like? Is it expensive?” But I had no reply until yesterday I went with the Bush Theatre team to find out.

Listen. I’m no real food critic or nuffink so is it ok for me just to say that is really, really good. Really good. It’s really good.

Mel, who raises all the money for the wonderful Bush, nodded in satisfaction as she wolfed it down in a lady-like manner. The really good Burger signed her up as a Bush Hall Dining supporter. General Manager Deborah issued a statement that the steak was really good- exactly what a steak should be and the chip were… more than really good. Excellent fat chips. The fact that the Bush Hall Dining Rooms can satisfy Deborahs checklist is a really good sign in my book.

Sophie is famously fussy about food and I was anxious for her Tuna and puy lentils verdict. I needn’t have been. “It’s really, really good”, came her considered reply. She may just have been in a hurry as she’s the one who markets all the shows and she has quite a lot on her hands at the moment (she also insists that I remind you all to book tickets for Josephine & I to avoid the stress of not getting a ticket. Disgraced completely sold out so fast people were upset to miss it).

We were out for lunch not only to check out the Bush Hall Dining Rooms but to say goodbye to the lovely Meg and we toasted her new job with the house white (yes, really good). Now she is an emotional sort so all I got out of her about her cheeseburger was, “It’s all really, really good but I can’t believe it’s opened just as am leaving!”

And my lunch? Well, dear readers, I am terribly fussy about menus. The layout, spelling mistakes, nonsense descriptions, pretentious ingredients, I love to criticise it all. But I had nothing to say bad about this one. The menu is simple, and the talented Nina’s funny parlour games on the back are a great touch. I, for once, was happy to have anything so Head Chef Tim read my mind and sent me out a peach and mozzarella salad which was exactly what I wanted to eat. He’s really, really, really good.

Handsome Nick, the restaurant manager, acts like it’s been opened for years and looks like he is going to relish opening the latest W12 eating hub. They are even doing a pre-gig (“And theatre!” pipes in George) menu with last orders at 10pm which is going to be really good.

I could go on but I won’t. I’ve said it’s really, really, really good, several times. I’ve had the Bush Theatre team verdict and you don’t have time to read any more. It opens tonight. Quick book a table at .

And is it expensive? Not really. It’s priced just right.

And the W12 culinary revolution continues with…

COMING UP NEXT - The Oak opens on that funny roundabout by Ravenscourt Park… will that be really good too? I’ll let you know soon.


If you have any other W12 new business or foodie news email me at

Monday, 3 June 2013

Wormholt Park Spring Clean

Bush Blog Editor Bart Govaert took part in a community clean up of what has, for a long time, been a forgotten corner of the Bush on Sunday.

Recently brought back to life by the Friends of Wormholt Park, who marked the park's centenary in spectacular fashion in 2011, the spring clean was another step towards the regeneration of this part of our area:

The Friends of Wormholt Road joined forces with Hammersmith and Fulham Council to organize a spring clean.

Here are a few pictures of the event.

Volunteers with the council van

Logistics support - Tea and biscuits are always a must!

Some of the volunteers with (part of) their haul

Wormholt park is less well know than the bigger Ravenscourt Park, but it is a nice little park nevertheless. It used to have a dubious reputation, and there are still the occasional hoodies with dogs and small dealers, but in the last few years it has noticeably improved and it became (again) a much more pleasant and well used green space. Clearly, we have the Friends of Wormholt to thank for this!

There are plans to upgrade the park, as part of the development of the White City Collaborative Health Centre at the Bloemfontein Road side of the park. This development also includes 170 flats, and my understanding is that the developer will pay for the park works.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

BBC TVC planning application submitted

Developers Stanhope and the BBC this week submitted their planning application to open up and transform Television Centre into a mixed use development, which will include office and studio space for the BBC, complementary entertainment and leisure facilities, public open space, offices, housing and a hotel. This follows a second public exhibition in April where the detailed plans were shown.

Television Centre will be opened up to the public for the first time, and the famous forecourt remodeled and, we're promised, enlivened by new retail, leisure and entertainment uses together with access through the site providing connectivity with the local area, including Hammersmith Park.

The BBC will continue to have a significant presence at Television Centre: BBC Studios and Post Production will return in 2015 to operate three state-of-the-art studios to serve television production in the South East in addition to the BBC’s studios at Elstree, and provide new and enhanced facilities for BBC audiences, talent and production staff; and from 2014, BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial operation, will move into a public-facing corporate headquarters fronting Wood Lane, following refurbishment of Stage 6.

The remaining office space will be aimed at occupiers in the creative sector providing new employment opportunities and there will be a variety of public uses, including a cinema, health club, restaurants and cafes, which will benefit the local community. The much-loved listed buildings at Television Centre will be retained. As part of opening up the site, the audience experience will be greatly enhanced with new facilities including a media experience planned at the heart of Television Centre.

David Camp, chief executive of Stanhope Plc, said:
“Since we acquired TV Centre in July 2012 there has been a tremendous team effort between our Project Team, the BBC and the Planning Authorities to pull together the planning application for this iconic site. A good deal of public consultation has also taken place and, we believe that this application will enable TV Centre to be rejuvenated to be the key hub within the White City area. Most importantly, for the first time in 50 years, the site will be opened up creating routes through the site and bringing new public life and spaces with a vibrant and exciting mix of retail, leisure, office and residential use. With the BBC’s on-going presence on the site including key operation BBC studios, we believe that Television Centre will be a great place to live, work and visit” 
Dominic Coles, BBC Director of Operations, said:
“We are very excited to be working in this unique partnership with Stanhope to redevelop Television Centre into a truly public space that builds on its history, protects its place in the local community and greatly improves the audience and visitor experience, with better facilities and attractions for those coming to see shows recorded in its iconic studios from 2015. This development will not only deliver a legacy befitting a site of such historical significance but also is part of a BBC property strategy which is maximising value for money for the licence fee payer and releasing fresh funding for programming making.”