Thursday, 30 September 2010

Council to "outsource" H&F News

In response to the Government acting against propaganda sheet H&F News our Council has decided not to give in, as it would see it, to the Fulham Chronicle - but to seek a private operator for H&F news instead, to operate at "arms length".

Roy Greenslade, the media commentator at the Grauniad, has the full details. But at first sight it looks like a very clever wheeze indeed. If the protestations of the Council are correct, and the new owners of H&F News really will be editorially independent - unlike now - then this will meet the diktat set down from Secretary of State Eric Pickles, who is determined to stamp out the sort of publicly funded propaganda that H&F News represents.

But if it does go ahead it would also represent a potential death knell for the Chronicle in its current form - the all important life-giving advertising revenue would presumably stay with H&F News and with no realistic prospect of that changing, Chronicle owners Trinity Mirror may have second thoughts about continuing the free-to-door model.

Interesting times ahead.

Guardian: Government crackdown on "H&F News"

The Government has confirmed a crackdown on our Council's use of our taxes to produce a propaganda publication which masquerades as a genuine newspaper. Secretary of State Eric Pickles, who recently described the use of our money to produce H&F News as "propaganda on the rates" says his decision is intended to "protect the viability and voice of independent local newspapers"

In  our case that means the Fulham Chronicle who, despite dubious delivery figures, ran what was a big bang campaign against H&F News before letting the whole thing fizzle out. They will be hoping that the Conservatives in Government can force the Conservatives in Hammersmith to at last stop using our money to tell us all how wonderful they are and, as we saw over the "super sewer" actually tell untruths.

They'll aslo be hoping to recoup the advertising revenue they now don't get because most advertisers use the Council's freesheet.

And I'll be toasting a Government of any colour who ends the obscene situation where our Council cuts services to the most vulnerable in our community on the grounds of not having enough money while spending 6 figure sums on pumping out party political propaganda dressed as genuine news. But dont take my word for it, here's an exchange between a Conservative MP Philip Davies on the Culture and Media Select Committee in the House of Commons and Councillor Loveday, defending H&F News:

Philip Davies: …we will start off with Hammersmith and Fulham. This is, let us face it, council propaganda masquerading as an independent newspaper. There is nothing here to the casual reader that would indicate that this had anything to do with a council publication. This is masquerading as an independent newspaper. If you are so proud of your publication, let us have it plastered all over it that this is a council publication so that everybody who reads it knows exactly where they stand when they read it. Why are you not upfront about what this is?
Councillor Loveday: I can bowl for Britain on the subject of propaganda, and Sefton Delmer and the radio stations that were set up in this country during the war, and the distinctions between black propaganda and other propaganda, and so on, but in terms of residents knowing that this is a council newspaper, my simple answer is that we do test this, and the latest survey showed that 80% of residents said it was clearly a council newspaper. People are aware of that. I suspect that 80% is a pretty good score by any means.
Philip Davies: I will give you a better score, which is 100%. I guarantee to you that, if you were to put on the front of your paper (and plaster it quite prominently) that this is the newspaper delivered to you by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, you would be able to improve on your 80%, you would probably be able to get to 100%. We would all know where we were and also you would not need to spend any money testing out whether or not people knew; you would be able to know straight away that people knew. I know you are obsessed with saving money at Hammersmith and Fulham Council. I have given you a perfect money saving idea, so can I now expect you to save money on testing it out and plaster over it that this is council propaganda so that your residents know exactly what it is they are reading?
Councillor Loveday: Can I ask you a question?
Philip Davies: No, I am asking you a question.
Councillor Loveday: Will you give us the £400,000 to put it through our paid-for local media, because that is not going to happen.
Philip Davies: I am asking you, on here, to make it abundantly clear to your residents that this is a council publication, right on the front page. You are saying how good it is. Why are you ashamed of it? Surely you should want to be proud of the fact that the local authority is putting out this kind of propaganda. Let everybody know why you are hiding your light under a bushel.
Councillor Loveday: The majority of copies, I think, certainly did have a strapline reference.
Philip Davies: I am just unlucky, am I?
Councillor Loveday: No, I have not followed the details of the straplines on the various editions. The front cover, of course, is a slip advert, or a wrap-around advert.
Philip Davies: Yes, inside is even worse.
Councillor Loveday: Inside this, obviously, the front page---
Philip Davies: Yes, I know exactly what you are doing: you are putting out propaganda and masquerading it as independent news.
Councillor Loveday: Propaganda is a loaded word.
Philip Davies: It is indeed.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Labour conference: The Shepherd's Bush view

That was quite a week. A leadership election that actually had a large part of the non political population enthralled, if only because of the personal element, and an outcome that stunned the party and country alike.

Stunned not because Ed Miliband won, but how he won. It is quite likely that a large section of trade union members who voted him over the finishing line are not even members of the Labour Party themselves.

Our MP Andy Slaughter voted against the tide of his local Hammersmith constituency party for Ed Miliband, who themselves collectively cast 26 more votes in favour of David Miliband than Ed. In fact Ed Miliband failed to win a single constituency nomination in any London party. Given the sense of anger which was palpable at the conference among many party members about that Andy may have some explaining to do when he gets back to the Bush. And to his fellow MPs -the majority of whom also wanted David.

But the conference wasn't just about that, although the media coverage talked of little else. I saw our MP at a couple of receptions about diverse issues, but it was at the Labour Friends of Palestine reception I got a real sense of how widely respected he is among pro Palestinian members of the party and is internationally known for speaking out on the Middle East in Parliament.

And former Mayor Charlie Treloggan was cheered by the party faithful as he picked up a lifetime achievement award from the new Leader, in recognition of his local campaigning for the party and community work for local people.

I also met Murad Qureshi, also an Ed Miliband supporter and one of our Assembly Members at the Greater London Authority. Fresh from Ken Livingstone's re-election as Labour's candidate for Mayor in 2010 he anticipates a keen fight for our votes in those elections.

And that's what brings me to the relevance of this post to Shepherd's Bush: away from the sound and fury of national politics, with all the personalities and egos they involve (and there are lots of them believe me) this stuff does actually play a real part in our local neck of the woods. The polls currently report a surge in public support for Labour, in the aftermath of the election.

With the impact of soon-to-come spending cuts and Boris Johnson's party's role in implementing them alongside the widely predicted meltdown of the LibDems that makes it more likely that Labour will end Boris' term as Mayor. Which in turn will directly lead to changes in W12 - the western congestion charge zone being an obvious example. If on the other hand Labour turns in on itself because of the way that the election was managed we're likely not only to see another term of Boris but probably Labour losing seats on the GLA. Which will mean our Council, for example, will be emboldened to do more of their radical Tory things to housing, parks and services.

So, like it or not, and for most people it's not, this stuff does end up making a difference. What was that David Miliband said about soap operas...?!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Thugs on Uxbridge Road

I've just come back from what was in footballing terms an intensley irritating game. A pitch that was too heavily watered meant QPR players, who were for large parts of the game camped around the Millwall goal kept falling over while the referee kept giving decisions that the large replay screen kept helpfully demonstrating were wrong. He must have wished someone would turn that screen off!

But what marked the occasion for me was the experience of first seeing what seemed like a pretty rowdy group of drunk Millwall fans being penned in to a corner of Uxbridge Road before things got out of hand with the police raising their batons as a sign of what was to come if they didn't calm down.

I watched this from just outside the Conningham Arms and was about to walk on to the game when I realised we too had been penned in. Right outside a pub. So what do you think the reaction of the fans was? That's right we were penned in for 40 mins with the increasingly frustrated fans having a ready supply of alcohol with which to lubricate their throats through which some of the more moronic variety started hurling insults and threats at the police.

I even saw one idiot try to crawl underneath the police van that was being used to keep us in!

The police themselves have obviously got a lot of training in non-reaction because some of what was thrown at them was pretty disgusting. That's fine I guess whan its just words but eventually, 10 minutes after kick off had already passed there were various surges at the police lines with attendant throwing of beer bottles and plastic glasses that had thankfully replaced the glass variety. (then why serve bottles too?)

At this point the dreaded TSG (Tactical Support Group - heavies) turned up with big red numbers on their helmets. These are the people that end up in court when they hit people and kill them, as the family of Ian Tomlinson know to their cost. Thankfully they were here to let us out and in fairness as they did they explained that there had been violence outside the ground and that accounted for why we'd been kept inside.

Violence does follow Millwall around and one police officer told me they actually have a unit dedicated to that football club. Good to know our taxes are being used for that. But I was actually more ashamed of our home grown idiot fraternity this evening, who seemed to match the morons of Millwall word for word. Not a pretty sight.

As I type this vans with sirens and lights are speeding down the road toward the ground which was ringed by police, dogs and vans. Shields and batons at the ready. It's like a very unwelcome throwback to the 1970s ..

I'm just glad I could walk home unmolested afterwards!

Residents campaign launched against Hammersmith redevelopment

Save our Skyline is the name of a new campaign launched by residents against our Council's plans to reshape Hammersmith town centre, starting with the redevelopment of the Town Hall but extending to the whole of King Street. A public meeting has been called in opposition to the plans and a leaflet already published and distributed to 5,000 homes

The public meeting has been called for 7pm, 13 October at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street W6 9JT. The campaign has a website which you can find here.

Regular readers of this blog will know that residents have in the past forced even this council to back down in the end, and as Tory general election Shaun Bailey knows to his cost it can cost them political power too.

So they will doubtless be concerned by the new group, who describe themselves as "a concerned group of Hammersmith residents and amenity societies", who yesterday launched a campaign against the Council’s plans to redevelop the Hammersmith Town Hall area. The campaign, which includes the dedicated website has already distributed an information leaflet showing the visual impact of the proposed plans, and the public meeting on 13 October is intended to further raise awareness of these plans and to encourage the Council to think again.

The campaigners say already there has been significant opposition to the Council’s plans. Over 15 local amenity groups have expressed their reservations and objections to LBHF about the current proposals, including the Hammersmith Society, Hammersmith and FulhamHistoric Buildings Group, Hammersmith Mall Residents Association, Ravenscourt Society and Brackenbury Residents Association, among others.

Residents accuse the Council and their development partners of not giving residents a true and fair picture of the nature of the development

They say the size and scale of this development is totally out of character with the area, and will have a negative impact on surrounding conservation areas, overshadow the historic river frontage and deprive the adjacent Marryat Court of natural light

They point out that the Council’s development design brief indicated a maximum height of seven storeys – the same as the current Town Hall Extension - it is now promoting a development over twice as high.

John Jones, spokesperson for Save Our Skyline, said:

We believe that the plans as they stand are seriously flawed. This high-rise, high-density development will have a disastrous impact on this historic area of Hammersmith. The Town Hall is surrounded by no less than six conservation areas; the development is completely out of character and out of proportion with all of these. The views published by the Council and their development partners have been partial and misleading, and consultation with residents has been low-key and minimal. The vast majority of residents have absolutely no idea of the real impact of the proposals.

“We are also concerned that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the Council having the authority to approve these controversial plans. In particular, we would like to ask the Council why - given their original brief that the project should not exceed the height of the existing Town Hall extension – they are now backing tower blocks over twice as high? This will have an irreparable impact on the area and set a dangerous precedent for future high-rise development.

“The forced eviction of the tenants from the Thomas Pocklington Trust building, in particular the nine blind people, will be highly traumatic.

“Hammersmithers already live every day with the legacy of inappropriate and outsize eyesores such as the Broadway, Kings Mall, the Premier Inn, and the current Town Hall extension. We say enough is enough!”

Yet the Council are prepared to fight this one, with a spokesman telling me today that:

"it would be disingenuous to argue that this scheme is unpopular. 78 per cent of respondents, at a three day public exhibition in June, agreed that the overall scheme would have a positive impact on Hammersmith town centre."

"The latest proposals that King Street Developments have been showing to residents and amenity groups are the culmination of years of consultation. Doing nothing is not a good option as King Street will continue to decline - in the face of competition from Westfield, Ealing and other town centres - and it would cost millions to extend the life of the council's ugly town hall extension which is on its last legs".

The developers themselves, King Street Developments added:

"After over two years of engagement with the local community, including many of the members of the group, and local residents and businesses, we are confident that the forthcoming application is the best way to deliver the wholesale regeneration of this part of King Street. This is backed up by the feedback we have had throughout, culminating in our event in June this year: over 1,000 people were able to review the proposals in detail, including two models showing the scheme in context, and 78% of those who responded said that they 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' the plans would have a positive impact on the town centre."

So a Battle Royal we shall have, pitting residents once again against their council. So what's all this got to do with the Bush? Our Council have far reaching plans to redevelop Shepherd's Bush Green including the pulling down of a lot of trees, despite this being contrary to the Mayor of London's pledge to keep trees standing. Like most of Boris' pledges this isn't something he'll fight particularly hard to protect you would think but there are real local concerns. So not only do we all use Hammersmith and have an interest in the outcome there, but it presages what is likely to take place in the Bush too. So watch both spaces.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Tour of Aldwych disused tube

On Friday I visited Aldwych tube station which has been closed to the public since the dim and distant early 1990s. The visit was part of the series of events being marked around the city on the 70th anniversary of the Blitz. Starting on September 7th 1940 London was pounded by the German air force until 1941 intensively and thereafter Londoners also had to deal with rockets and other nasties dropped from planes.

The first thing to say was that the event was really brought to life by the superb actors and actresses laid on by the LT Museum. When I first heard that they would be part of the experience I wasn't that interested, more that I just wanted to see this hidden piece of London under our streets. But they were magnificent. What you forget is that the Blitz was a human story rather than an issue of bricks and mortar.

Split into groups, and moving frm carriage to carriage in a 1930s tube train, we heard from each of the actors representing quintessential characters that you could expect to come across in the shelter as the bombs rained down their hail of death above. There was the cockney wide boy selling nylon tights, all jokes and winks but then angered at being called a “spiv” - noting with an emotional outburst that the “v” in spiv stands for “vagrant” - the man who'd made him a vagrant was Hitler when he bombed the east end he cried.

And of course there was the hardy Women's Volunteer Service woman with the BBC English who bossed us around and told the men to control themselves in the dark so that propriety was observed at all times! Human nature doesn't change.

Mabel the saucy housewife flirted with one of us (not me, sadly) and affected to be full of gossip without a care in the world but when the loud sirens came she was all of a flutter, and actually managed to inject a note of trepidation into all of us as the climax to the visit drew near. Suddenly there were flashes of light coming from down the tunnel with loud explosion noises as the bombs from above came very close indeed. Suddenly the stout and sturdy WVS lady was trying to rouse us into a rendition of roll out the barrel while Mabel cowered under a headscarf and started to shake.

Intense. It made me think of the stories that my own family told me about that time. How one day a bomb hurled my grandmother across a room and on top of her new born girl. Which was just as well because her body blocked a shard of glass from killing her. Or how my other grandmother, living in a church in Blackheath, saw the opposite side of the street taken out by bombs before her eyes. They lived with that every day and we should never forget it. London wasn't beaten. Nor will it ever be.

I have put a whole selection of photos from the visit on flickr here - watch the show. And just try to imagine what it must have been like.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

LibDem column: Merlene Emerson

While I was at Liverpool for the LibDem conference I met up with Merlene Emerson, who stood in our area for the party at the last general election. Here are her thoughts on the conference, what's happpenned since and whether she would have done anything differently. She also appeals for your support in the referendum on voting reform. Here's what she had to say, starting with the conference:

It was certainly bigger and had more of a buzz than previous Lib Dem Conferences . ..tighter security, 40% more delegates and over 60% more media (including our Bush blogger).

The rally on the first night set the mood, impressing on us all the importance of the referendum on electoral reform. What is patently obvious to me is that this would be a fairer system of voting, requiring a candidate to be elected on a majority of the votes.

Besides, it is the system used to elect the new Labour leader so they can hardly deny their support for it. I can only speculate as to how different the results might have been (or will be) with AV in Hammersmith.

Debates on motions like those on Free Schools, Trident and International Development all showed that it is possible for our Party to retain its own set of values and identity despite being in a Coalition Government. I managed to get called to speak at the Consultation on diversity and also organised a couple of fringe events on behalf of EMLD on the Immigration Cap (with Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities) and on Turkey and her developing Foreign Policy (with London MEP Sarah Ludford and the Turkish Ambassador on the panel).

Having come back this summer from the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and the Shanghai World Expo, I was keen to find out where we were with the London Olympics 2012 and joined our GLA team at the Olympic reception. Likewise, I could not miss the chance to quiz the Chinese Ambassador at the China forum on ‘China and UK – partners in a Changing World’ as well as to hear directly from the young people at another fringe event on Knife Crime sponsored by Kids Count.

Of course, Conference was more than debates and fringe events. There were also the subtle (and not so subtle) lobbying and networking that occur outside of the Arena at various watering holes, sometimes into the early hours.

However the highlight for me was actually taking time out of Conference to walk around Liverpool and to meet people from the local communities, visiting Pagoda and other Chinese Associations, Pine Court, a BME housing trust, and MCCDA, a charitable provider of domiciliary care.

After all, politics cannot be about policies in the abstract, it has to relate to real people and to real communities. From my campaigning in the Bush, I have found pockets where the needs of the residents both young and old have not been adequately addressed by the local Council. There is still much that can and must be done to stimulate the local economy and to find different ways of delivering better services in a time of belt tightening.

Finally, I have been asked what I could have done differently in my campaign in the May elections. To be honest that feels like a very long time ago now. I would rather be looking forward, especially as Lib Dems are now in Coalition Government, and are in a position to ensure many of our manifesto policies (such as green taxes and the pupil premium) are implemented.

The next big challenge would be the referendum for fairer votes. So having started with the referendum, may I end with the same. I need your help to work towards a ‘yes’ vote in May – a vote that will ensure the end to tactical voting - and maybe, just maybe, I will be back in 2015 asking for your vote again.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Armed police arrest men in Bush

Adelaide Grove W12 was the scene of an armed arrest yesterday morning. Two men were taken into custody after a stand off that included actual violence between the two men who were leaving a flat at around 0930 an the police that had arrived to arrest them. Although initial reports described shots being fired the police have confirmed that this was a form of gun that is used to disable cars, nobody was actually being shot at.

I first picked up on this on twitter with several of you asking about armed police in Shepherd's Bush yesterday, and although very curious I was frankly too busy to look it into it. The Chronicle, which never gets delivered locally but has its stories on a website here, has a good piece on the whole thing.

Once again the local police press operation was woeful with no information being provided "unless asked" and even then hardly anything. Cheers rozzers. As ever, if you know anything else or have personal experiences to share please use the comments.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Ken Livingstone is Labour candidate

The western congestion charge zone, which has yet to disappear despite its end being promised by Boris might yet stay in place if Ken wins the election in 2012.

Andy Slaughter supported Ken in the selection and he is very popular with the Labour party in H&F, so watch that space to see lots of local Ken-ning to come!

1045 UPDATE: Oona King has just issued this statment to her supporters:

I have been overwhelmed by the support that came my way in these few short months. A huge number of people – over 500 volunteers alone - worked their socks off for me, and I shall always be grateful.
Now we must turn our attention to the real fight; the wasted mayoralty and lack of vision of Boris Johnson. Ken Livingstone is a formidable politician who has never given up the fight. I am sure he will battle for London as he always has and we must give him our support as he does so
The Labour Party should never be afraid of a bit of democracy. We have had a lively summer debating ideas, but this contest is now over. I am proud of the campaign that we have fought together - we have shown that to win in 2012 our Party must have a clear and compelling vision for London’s future – about what happens next in the greatest capital city in the world. We must listen and learn from our defeats and we must re-engage and renew.
A couple of Sundays ago Ken and I turned up at TV studios for a debate, and we both had our kids in tow. Ken’s son and my son played with a computer game together, while Ken’s daughter was happy to read to my daughter. They looked very sweet and taught their parents a lesson about harmony. It’s not about the Political differences of opinion between their parents that matters, it’s the fact that both care passionately and agree that the London they’ll inhabit in the future should be a fairer, safer, more prosperous place.
So, we are united again as Team Labour. All of us must do our best to make sure Ken Livingstone is the next Mayor of London. And no one wants to see Ken defeat Boris Johnson more than I do. He can count on my wholehearted support and I hope he can count on yours too.
Thank you again. The fight to change London for good will go on.

0035 SATURDAY UPDATE - Ken has just released this statement to supporters:

Today’s decision by London Labour members and affiliates signals the start of a campaign to change London for the better and to protect Londoners from the cuts of this government that threaten to wreck lives and push us back into recession.
So, it is now that the real fight begins, to get the Tory Mayor, Boris Johnson out of City Hall and to get Labour back in.
I have said from the start of this campaign that I want to be Mayor for one over-riding reason: to protect Londoners from the effects of the economic uncertainty and government cuts. If elected I will use every lever available to get the most for London. I will put London and Londoners first and campaign with you against these devastating cuts and the effects they will have on all of our lives but particularly the most vulnerable.
The choice between me and Boris Johnson could not be clearer.This Mayor does not stand up Londoners. He knew the impact a Conservative-led government would have in devastating Londoners’ services, pay and jobs but he fought for them to be elected anyway. Now he is trying to pretend that he stands up for London. But the government’s cuts are his cuts. Even before this government was elected this Mayor made cuts: 455 police officers in London axed; breaking his promise on tube ticket office opening hours; putting fares up by a third while protecting the polluter.
I pledge to defend Londoners. I will ensure fares are lower than they would be if Boris Johnson were re-elected. I will campaign against the cuts and privatisations that will worsen our quality of life.
The London election in 2012 will be the chance to send a message to David Cameron and George Osborne that we don’t want devastating cuts to our public services, fewer jobs, and declining living standards. If you want them out, first vote Boris out.

Thick Bush burglar caught on roof

Two contenders for Britain's Thickest Burglar are facing jail terms after being caught on the roof after burgling a house. They had decided to play with the things they'd stolen and were surrounded by police.

Refusing to come down the fire brigade were called and while Aaron Pask, 19, of Shepherd’s Bush, handed himself in the other guy fell off the roof and onto the patio hurting his head. They have both been warned that jail terms are likely.

So as you look forward to the week-end .. think of those less fortunate than yourself!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mayor welcomes H&F bike thief scheme

Boris Johnson, responding to questioning from Lib Dem Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, has welcomed our local police force's innovative new way of catching bike crooks, which involves using bikes as bait, because of its near 100% success rate. The secret to its success seems to be the satellite tracking devices that are fitted to the bikes - they are activated as soon as they're taken and allow police to follow the thieves to their two wheeled lairs.

Shepherd's Bush has seen a spike in bike theft recently and as the Standard reported recently much of the crime is drived by "steal to order" systems, whereby those wanting to purchase bikes on the cheap simply approach the local bike crook and specify what it is they want.

At the time our local Rozzer Inspector Tony Hirst, of the Hammersmith Safer Neighbourhood Team, told the Standard: “Pedal cycle theft appears to have become the crime of choice for many low-end criminals because of the quick reward and low risk of being caught. We hope to put the fear back into the criminal.”

And now in response to the scheme's runaway success the following exchange took place in the Assembly:

Prevention of bicycle theft

Question No: 2936 / 2010
Caroline Pidgeon
Will you join with me in congratulating the Metropolitan Police for their six month pilot bicycle theft prevention scheme, operating in Hammersmith & Fulham, which had a success rate of almost 100%? Are you looking to roll this scheme out in other boroughs and if so which ones?

Answer from the Mayor
The successful operation in Hammersmith and Fulham is just one example of the excellent work being carried out by the Metropolitan Police across London to target cycle thefts.
The new Metropolitan Police Service Cycle Task Force, in partnership with TfL, consisting of 30 officers dedicated to tackling cycle thefts will ensure bike security, education and proactive operations in theft prevention across London boroughs. The task force work closely with borough teams to exchange best practice, reduce cycle thefts and raise awareness of cycle security across London.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Consultation on "new vision" for SB Market

Bushers are being asked by the council to give their views on plans to regenerate the market. I first gave the heads-up on this in January, and broadly welcomed the council's plans to expand and update the market but this was then greeted less than happily by the traders themselves who fear being priced out of the market altogether. They allege, and the council don't deny, that the excercise will result in higher rents leading to a boutique-ing of the market from its rough and ready state at the moment.

H&F Council's Cabinet will now meet, on Thursday, October 14, to discuss whether to give developer Orion an option to buy the council's land on Pennard Road, which is known as the former laundry site. The option could only be taken up if the developer is able to assemble the rest of the land needed to come-up with a viable scheme - based on the final planning brief - that ultimately gets planning consent.
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F Council Leader, said: "Shepherds Bush Market deserves to be the standard-bearer for all London's markets. The Market has been in existence for nearly 100 years and is now in desperate need of new life if it is to maximise its undoubted potential.
"It is encouraging that a developer has finally come forward but there is a long way to go until the market evolves into the exciting and vibrant venue that we all want to see."
Apparently 75 per cent of respondents to the council's initial consultation said the draft planning brief represents a positive step for the market. For more than a decade, traders and customers have been complaining that the market has been allowed to decline because of a lack of investment.
The council consulted with traders, residents and shoppers over six weeks from December 2009 and the vast majority agreed with the council that any redevelopment must complement local architecture. There was also a very favourable response regarding the mix of shops proposed, new leisure and public arts facilities and embracing the former Shepherds Bush Library as a cultural facility.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

H&F Council defrauded of £90,000 - trial

Two pensioners are on trial for allegedly defrauding our council of £90,000, in a case that will have to decide whether or not they are in a relationship! Graham Young, 67 and Oriol Bowden, 70, are accused of carrying out the scam in Hammersmith.

Bowden is alleged to have bought a house in Hammersmith, where Young had already moved in as a lodger after the breakdown of his marriage.
Young was receiving a number of benefits, including housing benefit, council tax and pension credits, which he paid to Bowden as his landlady.
However, Bowden bought the house and started receiving the benefits and the pair are now accused of benefit fraud. More details here.

Blue Badge abusers hunted in the Bush

Blue badge abusers are being hunted in the streets surrounding Westfield at the moment, as the Telegraph reported last weekend. The article describes a plain clothes blue badge enforcer working in tandem with a uniformed police offficer who lie in wait for people who have no right to be using the blue disabled person's badge, which entitles the user to park close to shops and amenities rather than pay to use car parks, in the act. Then they pounce on their prey, and slap a great big fine on them! (and confiscate the badge)

One of the earliest readers of this blog lives on Macfarlane Road next to the Westfield complex and has long complained, and campaigned, against the impact of that centre on their lives. First they had to put up with the construction phase with lorries thundering around the place and dust wafting over, now they have to contend with their formerly quiet residential street being used as an overflow car park for the biggest shopping centre in western Europe.

Its's fair to say they don't entirely go along with the Council's slogan which proclaims they "put residents first". They feel like they've been put last at the end of a very long line for a very long time.

So I hope this sort of guerilla tactic pays off for them and at least slows down the amount of illegal parking that is blighting their road. And from a personal perspective, with a member of my family being disabled and very much in need of those parking spaces that people who abuse the scheme take up, I think those that abuse the scheme deserve everything they get.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Man shot at Goldhawk Road petrol station

A man was shot in the early hours last night at the petrol station on Goldhawk Road near Stamford Brook tube station. He is reported as being in his early twenties and thankfully alive. It's belived at the moment that the man was black and therefore the Met's Operation Trident team which investigates gun crime in the black community are investigating.

The local police press office are being as useless as ever and refusing to give any information out but as soon as I know more I'll let you know. As ever if you know anything please use the comments.

21st Sep UPDATE: The Standard are reporting that 4 men are being sought in relation to the shooting. The victim is "serious" but stable in hospital.

Bush Blog at LibDem conference

Morning Bushers, and on that subject - mornings, that is, how about this for an image I captured on Uxbridge Road at dawn last week? You get to see a totally different Bush at 0530-0600. The bakery is open and crowds of people visit that, the Masjid Mosque and some cafes. Then through the mists of the morning you see on the one hand graffiti removal men with the most powerful water sprays known to mankind, mingle with late night drinkers stumbling their merry way up the road.

Anyway - this week I shall be here in Liverpool from where I write. I'm here for work of course rather than the blog but I suspect I may well come across some old favourites, such as Merlene Emerson and perhaps one or two of the candidates that asked for our votes in the council elections that took place on the same day as the election. I certainly hope to.

Nick Clegg of course had something of a disastrous introduction to Shepherd's Bush only the other week, turning up for a photo call at Shepherd's Bush Village Hall - and not having been told that his Conservative allies were busy flogging it off - here's the vid if you havent seen it before.

Anything you'd like me to put to Merlene or her colleagues?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Dare to dream: prepare for Millwall

QPR moved 5 points clear at the top of the championship this afternoon. Yes, I'll say that again. QPR moved 5 points clear at the top of the championship this afternoon. My word.

After the weirdness of mad dog magilton and sinister era of Hitler fan Bernie Ecclestone and all round strange guy Flavio Briatore, together with the inevitable bad run of form for nearly two years we finally seem to be reaping the benefit of the Mittal connection. And in Warnock as manager stand a real chance this year of achieving a return to the top flight that last saw action in Loftus Road in 1996. John Major was Prime Minister and the Spice Girls had the Xmas number One for goodness sake.

I haven't been at all yet this season but will be there for the visit of Millwall on tuesday 28th. I was certainly there for the last visit of Millwall and remember well seeing the police coming already changed into their riot gear. They were right - within minutes of hurling abuse at their own side the Millwall fans started trying to tear up chairs and throw things and the QPR supporters. They were later marched in squares down the Uxbridge Road.

Hoping that there won't be a repeat of that I also want to see another victory on tuesday night. And even non football fans should start to consider - just consider - what bringing top flight football might mean for the Bush. Good and bad I'd say - but mostly good if you're a business on the Uxbridge Road - and in any case the feel good factor is worth it alone. Things are looking up!

Free schools focus group

Bush Theatre have asked me to publicise a free schools focus group they are holding for local parents on tuesday. With Free Schools likely to be trialled in the Bush ahead of most of the rest of the country this is an apt topic indeed. Here's what Bush Theatre have to say:

As a part of our Autumn season, The Bush will be presenting two new plays, 'The Knowledge' and 'Little Platoons', that explore the education system in Britain -
The second play, 'Little Platoons' by Steve Waters, focuses on schooling in West London and explores the controversial issue of free schools.
Playwright, Steve Waters and Director, Nathan Curry are very interested in speaking to teachers and parents from schools in the local area and will be holding an informal meeting/group discussion on Tuesday 21st September. At this stage we are planning to hold the meeting at around 5pm.
We are keen to hear a range of views about education in West London with a particular focus on the academy and free school programmes and how these may impact your school.
I encourage any teacher/parent who wishes to discuss this proposal further to contact me at the Bush Theatre on 0208 743 3584.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Pope exempted from congestion charge

The BBC is reporting breaking news that the Pontiff has been excused the congestion charge. Outrageous. He could sell ice creams from it and help pay for his visit.

Happy friday!

Leader's Column: Stephen Greenhalgh

My view: the super-sewer

Earlier this week I was invited to attend a London Assembly hearing about Thames Water’s plans for the Tideway Tunnel or super-sewer as it has become known. This is a major infrastructure project for London, comparable to Crossrail or the tube upgrade, and comes with a colossal £3.6 billion price-tag. Thames Water is currently consulting on three options for this huge tunnel that is designed to stop some sewage flowing into the river when it rains heavily and avoid a fine from the EU under their Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Despite the fact that Thames Water’s current proposal is shorter than the previous Government’s preference its estimated cost is an eye-watering £3.6 billion – double the original estimate. Thames Water customers will have to find this money with bills expected to rise by an extra £65 per year. Some residents – especially on modest or fixed-incomes – will be driven into water poverty.

Many people are starting to question whether the benefits of the super sewer are in proportion to the large costs. The public health benefits will be relatively minimal. There is no risk to drinking water from sewage overflow into the Thames. The risks are from digesting river water with a survey of rowers finding 18 people suffering a short illness, that may have been caused by sewage in the Thames, over a 15 month period. Spending nearly £4 billion to prevent a handful of people contracting a minor illness would be a questionable use of public money at anytime but during the tightest public spending round in a generation it is extravagant.

The tunnel will do little to increase the capacity of the local sewerage network where, during storm conditions, basements suffer from sewer flooding. The major public health issue here is the direct discharge of raw sewage into residents’ homes. Thames Water should be focusing their limited resources on the Counters Creek Flood Alleviation scheme which will help to solve this problem. The environmental benefits will also be small. The Thames is ‘one of the cleanest metropolitan rivers in the world’, according to the GLA, and in the last 20 years more than 120 species of fish have been recorded.

The construction of the tunnel will require three main shafts to be dug with 22 construction sites needed across the capital in total – including four in or around our borough. In H&F, Hammersmith Embankment was originally earmarked for new houses and offices on a prime riverside site and two-years ago the council spent £2 million revitalising Frank Banfield Park across the road – which it is now one of the borough’s elite Green Flag parks. Hammersmith Embankment is now likely to become a noisy building site for eight years potentially adding to traffic problems on local roads especially Fulham Palace Road.

In 2006 the Government-appointed engineering consultants, Jacobs Babtie, recommended a shorter tunnel that could be built for around £900 million and be far less disruptive. The Babtie option is more cost effective with a shorter delivery time and without the need for so many construction sites. A range of other alternatives were also discarded too quickly without thorough investigation of their overall benefits in terms of cost, delivery time, disruption, as well as the social and environmental impacts. Other options include rainfall and storm water harvesting; selective separation of rain and foul water and covered treatment works to deal with storm water locally without the need for a long distance transfer. Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s preferred option is a hybrid scheme which would combine the diversion of run-off rain water, a shorter tunnel and clean up operations after storm flows have entered the river.

Thames Water’s current proposal is not flexible. The limited benefits are not proportionate to the large and escalating costs, especially during an age of austerity. There are alternatives that can make the Thames even cleaner with less disruption to Londoners and without the huge environmental, social and economic costs.

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh

H&F Council Leader
Thames Water’s 14-week public consultation lasts until 22 December 2010 with a series of exhibitions being held over the autumn. Have your say at or view the plans yourself on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 October at Linden House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA between 10.30am–8:00pm.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Leaders' Column: Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh

..will be appearing tomorrow. The interviews I carried with each of the three main parliamentary candidates during the general election earlier this year proved very popular and some of you expressed a desire to see more, so a couple of days ago Andy Slaughter MP appeared in his own column here.

A couple of you responded to the launch of the MP column to say it would also be nice to have a range of other views so I contacted the Council and am delighted that the leader Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh has agreed to supply a Leader's Column as well. So you'll be hearing from them both on here from now on.

Both Andy Slaughter and Stephen Greenhalgh are people who will be intimately involved in shaping the Bush in the coming months and years, so I hope you agree that these are positive moves in the development of the blog.

Finally, a reminder of the address to use for sending through gossip/stories/ideas:

Missing girl last seen in Shepherd's Bush

Right this is simple - look at the picture and if you know where she is call the police or crimestoppers.

She is a 13 year old called Ciara Richards who disappeared from her parents house 2 weeks ago, last seen in the Bush opposite Natwest bank.

When she was seen in Shepherds Bush, on Wednesday, September 8, at about 1.30pm, she had on black leggings and a green baseball cap. She was with a black man who was wearing a green American football jacket.

Ciara has been urged to call Missing People's confidential Runaway Helpline on 0808 800 7070.

Anyone with information about her disappearance has been asked to call Missing People on 0500 700 700 or the non-emergency police number 0300 123 1212.

More details here.

Major milestone in Hammersmith Hospital building marked

Imperial College celebrated a major milestone in the building work on the Hammersmith Hospital site in East Acton on tuesday. The new development will be a flagship building for the Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), the College’s partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

What does all this mean for patients? It means that the centre will expand its award winning research programme and that local patients will benefit from the early translation of the fruits of that work into actual patient care.

I have reason to be personally grateful for living close to this superb hospital in the past as we became users of their first class maternity services. I don't think we really appreciate just how lucky we are to have this on our doorstep - and this new development promises many more years of cutting edge medical care for local residents.  Have a look at the ceremony below - love the pagan yew tree in concrete motif!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Spartan game launched at Westfield

Shepherd's Bush has seen some odd sights recently, and it's set to stay that way. From the men in purple morph suits (who are apparently advertising chocolate) to what took place earlier this week - where sci-fi soldier charecters complete with improbably large guns strutted around Westfield to launch a computer game.

Well, it certainly makes for more interesting trips home from the tube!

MPs column: Andy Slaughter

In a new feature Andy Slaughter, our MP, gives his thoughts on the latest in the Bush and surrounding area:

Last week the Conservative environment minister gave the Government’s full support to Thames water’s plans for a massive sewer relief tunnel under the Thames. In doing so she acknowledged the need to stop increasing amounts of raw sewage overflowing into the river, and that the Thames Tunnel was the most cost-effective way to resolve this.

This week Thames Water announced the tunnel’s route. It will start from Hammersmith and take the overflows from the three outlets on our river frontage. But it will not require even temporary works on public open space. All the works will be undertaken at the pumping station on Chancellor’s Road and adjoining private land. The main tunnel portal where the drilling machine will enter and spoil will leave will be at Barn Elms.

Of course there are many issues to be resolved during the consultation period and before work starts in 2013. There will be some spoil removed from the Hammersmith side as a smaller tunnel is being dug to the Acton pumping station to enable the sewage tanks on the border with Acton to be decommissioned – a relief to residents of Emlyn Gardens and Factory Quarter. But we need to ensure the river is used to remove waste rather than Chancellor’s and Fulham Palace Road.

Then there is the issue of cost – now estimated at £3.6 billion. This could add £60 a year to water bills in London. I think we need a rigorous independent analysis before we start paying to boost their assets.

Finally, there must be a inquiry into the misleading campaign Hammersmith & Fulham Council have run for the past three years, claiming on the one hand that the tunnel is unnecessary and on the other that three local parks would be dug up as part of the works. They knowingly used large sums of public money to asset facts they knew had no basis in truth. Indeed the only threat to Furnival Gardens, comes from the council’s own plans to land a footbridge in the middle of it as part of their £35 million refurbishment of their own town hall offices.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Super Sewer debate at City Hall

Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh debated the merits of the “super sewer” at the London Assembly today with, among others, Richard Aylard of Thames Water, and Andrew Whetnall of the Consumer Council for Water.

Coming after the announcement of the route of the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the likely construction sites involved, the speakers were grilled by Assembly Members of the health and public services committee. Sewage being released into the Thames being a rather obvious health threat.

In the sometimes argumentative but on the whole civilised session, highlights for me were:
  • Richard Aylard pointing out that since our sewers can no longer cope, raw sewage is pumped into the river once a week. Resulting in 39 tons of the brown stuff per year. That's a rate of one Olympic swimming pool full of it every 2 minutes. Eek.
  • Stephen Greenhalgh attacking the scheme as “gold plated” and resulting in “gargantuan” disruption and cost.
  • Stephen Greenhlagh alleging scenes of extreme violence between the genteel Secretary of State Caroline Spelman and Chief Executive of Thames Water. Hard to picture, but more on that below.
  • Thames Water revealing that, far from being influenced by our Council's campaign against the sewer, they weren't even aware of it
  • Cries of “nonsense!” from the otherwise reserved Richard Aylard at some of the scary sums being quoted by Assembly Members of the likely cost of the scheme
Richard Aylard, External Affairs Director of Thames Water (and not Chief Exec as I wrongly claimed in this post), started by outlining the way in which London's sewers have struggled and now fail to cope with London's ever growing population, noting that since the 1850s the population has roughly trebled yet the pipes to convey our waste have remained the same.

This was quite a clever move because it then gave him a platform with which to pepper the Assembly Members with some scary stats about tonnage of poo going into the river along with setting the scheme in the context of being a project of historic, not just practical, proportions. There's nothing a politician likes better than being associated with something historic. And all of the AMs duly declared their support.

On West London specifically, he noted that not only do we have more basement flats in Hammersmith than almost anywhere else but also that in the last 30 years alone roughly 20% of previously un-built on land has now been concreted over. In other words the rainfall that would have gone into the ground now takes up even more room in the sewers making flooding of people's houses and release of sewage into the river more likely.

Cllr Greenhalgh returned the serve with, in fairness, a pretty well argued case that acknowledged the fact he wasn't an expert on the figures “I'm just a local politician!” but nevertheless outlined the huge proportions of the scheme. Essentially he argued that doing nothing wasn't an option but that there must be a better way – he called for a “hybrid solution” which was basically a combination of measures to deal with the symptoms, not the cause of the problem. These include 'skimming' the detritus from the water – condoms for example, using a form of soap, and pumping oxygen into the river to keep the fish alive, using 'bubbler boats'.

Responding to Richard Aylard's pointed use of Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State's statement that the scheme proposed by Thames Water was the “cheapest option by far”, Cllr Greenhlagh then said that the same Secretary of State had described to him pinning the Chief Exec of Thames Water to the wall, by the lapels and demanding to be assured that the costs wouldn't escalate! I can only hope that this was a metaphore.

He then went on to boisterously exchange figures with fellow Tory Tony Arbour AM, both of whom thought the scheme would inevitably escalate in cost. Presumably having peered into his crystal ball in Hammersmith Town Hall Cllr Greenhalgh confidently claimed that he could “guarantee” the cost would be millions of pounds more than Thames Water claimed.

Amongst all this sound and fury one thing did emerge on which all sides could agree, which is that we as customers are going to be paying between £60-65 extra every year for this scheme. And Cllr Greenhalgh did at least have a good point that this was occuring against a backdrop of cuts everywhere else.

Lastly, Tory AM Tony Arbour and Labour AM Murad Qureshi both picked up on the fact that the Sunday Telegraph had claimed that H&F Council's much trumpeted petiton of 2,000 people against building in Furnival Gardens had swayed Thames Water. Pravda has been trumpeting this as a glorious victory and therefore worth all of our taxes the Council spent warning people that they would be made homeless by the scheme among other things. To this Thames Water had a withering reposte – they hadn't even been aware of the petition. I suspect Pravda may run out of space before being able to report that.

You'll be able to watch the whole thing yourself here, if you're so minded. I have to say from a personal perspective, although I was studiously avoided by Mssrs Greenhlagh and Botterill at the event, presumably angry at my not toeing their line on this issue, I was quite impressed by the measured tone Cllr Greenhalgh adopted. He actually raises very valid points about the expenditure issue – just look at the Olympic budget or the Jubilee line extension for examples of public expenditure projects gone wrong. He also has a very effective style of setting his arguments out – so if he just sticks to the issues from now on and avoids any more scare tactics, he'll be doing us all a great service. Time will tell.

Comics, weather forecasts and trips t'pub

H&F Council spent nearly £5k of our taxes on these items last year. The Evening Standard records that a total of £1,388 on comics, £1,375 on weather forecasts and £1,568 on free-running lessons for children was spent along with a bill of £2,218 being racked up at Hammersmith's Old Ship pub, often used for meetings.

Shocking? You betcha. Coming from the Council that also spends hundreds of thousands a year on propaganda that even fellow Conservative Eric Pickles, the Secreatry of State for local government calls "propganda on the rates", this is surely another example of profligacy with our hard earned cash. Hardly putting us first.

But hang on a minute, how do we know this? We do because our Council took the brave step of making all this public, which they didn't have to do. Everything over £500 now has to be published and when our council took that decision they must have known that this sort of dirty washing would emerge - but they still did it. In other words they did what was right instead of what was politically expedient.

So while they get rightly criticised for some of this they should also get a lot of credit for having the guts to clean up their spending by allowing us the chance to scrutinise it. So, on balance, well done H&F Council.

Monday, 13 September 2010

"Super Sewer" not in Hammersmith

The 'super sewer' entrance will not be located in H&F. The main entry will be in Richmond, next to the Wetlands Centre and a community sports complex. There is also likely to be a small construction site in Hammersmith but nothing on the scale of the Barnes site.

Those will be the recommendations contained in a consultation that Thames Water will be publishing today, having had the official green light from the Government last week.

And so brings to a close one of the most expensive and least edifying campaigns of misinformation from our Council in recent times. Even this week's taxpayer funded edition of Pravda carried this ridiculous article claiming that their campaign had resulted in the evil Thames Water backing down from their dastardly plan to make residents homeless and churn up Furnival Gardens. The reality is that that was never on the cards - nor was Ravenscourt Park which was also cited by our Council as primed to be turned into a massive "stink hole".

Having initially believed the Council was telling the truth, that Thames Water really was hell bent on taking over Furnival Gardens, I urged you to back their campaign. Some of you did and signed their petition. Then they were found to be telling porkies. Big ones. Including scaring their own residents about the prospect of being made homeless. This and all of their other claims were laughed out of court by, in no particular order:
Which didn't leave many allies really. Having lost all credibility our Council went quiet on the subject after the homeless warning which wasn't and are now going to try to claim credit for saving us all from Thames Water's evil plans. I think residents will draw their own conclusions. And it will make the exchanges between Cllr Greenhalgh and Thames Water CEO Richard Aylard interesting when they both appear before the Greater London Authority tomorrow - I'll be going and will report back.

What annoys me most is that in this report, it's revealed that all of this is going to cost us £65 per year extra on our bills. While Thames Water shareholders no doubt continue to receive handsome dividends. And as we've seen with the recent water cut offs and TW's response, they are hardly an organisation that should be above criticism. Had our Council not spent so much of our money on their ridiculous campaign we would have had the chance to subject Thames Water to some serious scrutiny instead.

In the meantime, have a look at this vid from Thames Water about what they're planning to do and why:

1330 UPDATE: Thames Water, in parallel with the public consultation, will also be running question and answer sessions on Twitter via @thameswater, using the hash tag #thamestunnel, on Wednesday 15 September and Monday 27 September, both from 7pm.
People can take part in the consultation by visiting the Thames Tunnel consultation website:

1400 UPDATE: For reasons best known to them Thames Water boffins seem to have taken their video off YouTube. Just like water consumers in West London, you're now without! But here are some details of the Hammersmith consultation event in October:

Hammersmith public exhibition11 October - 12 October 2010
Come along to our Hammersmith public exhibition to review our plans and let us know your views.
Specialists from our project team will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.
Dates: Monday 11 - Tuesday 12 October
Times: 10.30am - 8pm
Venue: Linden House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA

1500 UPDATE: Vid is working now

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The purple men of Shepherd's Bush

what on earth are these guys advertising?!

planes in "near miss" over London

This has to be a west London taboo. Something we've all thought about as we watch the silver birds stack up into Heathrow but no-one ever talks about. Earlier this year apparently the nightmare sceanrio almost came true over Hackney but it could just as well have been anywhere on the flight path. New runway anyone?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Do you receive the Fulham Chronicle?

I don't. Or I do sometimes. But not this week or the last few. Ever since the disappearance of their campaign, whcih I urged you to support, against the Town Hall Pravda as even the Conservative Government calls 'H&F News', the Chronicle have claimed a circulation of over 70,000.

I hope its at least close to that but it can't really be if people are still not getting copies of the paper delivered. Do you get it? In the face of the constant Council propaganda we need a free and independent press more than ever in the Bush.

As if to illustrate the point H&F News has just landed on my doormat telling me that H&F will have the first "Free School" in the UK, and presenting it as unambiguously a thoroughly good thing. Which it might be, I don't know. But I do know that many people have very strong opinons on both sides. But you'll only ever read the Council's in their paper.

H&F Police officer charged with assault

Sergeant Adam Leak, 30, based in Hammersmith and Fulham, has been summonsed to appear before Feltham Magistrates' Court on Monday to face a chrage of assaulting a prisoner in his care at Fulham Police station on January 31 this year.

The charge follows an investigation led by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and it follows the case of a policeman who ended up in prison after a similar act was proven against him in court.

An IPCC spokeswoman said: "The charge relates to an incident at Fulham Police Station on January 31, 2010 when, it is alleged, the officer used excessive force to restrain a prisoner.
"The allegations came to light after two police officers raised concerns."

Sikh Shepherd's Bush

An interesting blog post from the Punjab Heritage News site, which gives a glimpse of an otherwise unknown corner of the Bush. 79 Sinclair Road apparently became a major new centre for the Sikh community as it grew in Britain following the ravages of the second world war and the wave of immigration that followed from south asia.

Sinclair Road lies just outside the administrative boundary of H&F but to those that are there they think of themselves as Bushers too, they're just on the other side of the Holland Park roundabout. And they are all part of the rich tapestry that makes up the Uxbridge, Goldhawk and Askew Roads. So think of that next time you see a man in a turban!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

H&F Leader defends cuts on BBC tonight

The London debate, BBC1 at 2235, will feature Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh leader of H&F, the two challengers for the Labour leadership Ken and Oona and others. Our own council didn't wait even for the election result to get stuck into their programme of cuts and Cllr Greenhalgh's inclusion on the programme is indicative of his radical approach being replicated by the coalition government throughout the UK.

Should be interesting viewing.

H&C trains put on collision course

PRESS ASSOCIATION: An investigation has been launched into an incident on London Underground when a train was switched on to the wrong track, it was revealed today.

Transport for London (TfL) said a signalling "irregularity" was to blame for a westbound train on the Hammersmith & City line being routed on to eastbound tracks

The incident happened during the rush hour yesterday morning, a day after Tube trains were disrupted because of a strike by thousands of workers in a row over jobs.

A TfL spokesman said: "At 0818 hours on Wednesday a westbound Hammersmith & City line train exiting the siding at Plaistow, which is used to turn trains around, was routed on to the eastbound tracks.
"The driver, following London Underground's stringent safety procedures, stopped the train immediately, and our signalling system prevented any eastbound trains from moving towards the stationary train. The nearest eastbound train was stationary at red signals almost a kilometre away at West Ham.

"Passenger and staff safety was maintained throughout. The train had three passengers on board, who were all removed from the train shortly after 0900 hours.

"Our engineers are carrying out a full investigation into the cause of this signalling irregularity."

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail Regulation have been informed of the incident.

Not near Shepherd's Bush, but it is a worrying development for any user of the line.

BBC: H&F Council call for charges on roadworks

Following the news that Shepherd's Bush has one of the most dug up roads in London our Council has called on public utilities who continually dig up our roads to be charged for the priviledge of doing so. The logic being that it might focus their minds on pulling their collective fingers out and getting the job done more quickly.

Seems like a good idea to me - but not, you'll be amazed to learn, to the utility companies themselves.

After I wrote about London's most dug up road, Richmond Way in the Bush, one frustrated Busher said this in the comments:

"They [the roadworks] are there so often I thought it was Time Team. Every time I see them digging I can expect my mains water to stop and then the electricity goes off at entertaining intervals."

And during yesterday's water cut off due to the same water main bursting as the last two times one of you commented:

"The Utility companies have treated West London with total contempt, bringing the area to a standstill on occasion with their continuous works. Yes it needed doing, but they should have paid out for it to be worked on properly, not short staffed, all to increase their precious shareholder profits".
This BBC piece explains how business group London First has joined forces with councils like ours to press for an end to continually dug up roads, with the traffic chaos that ensues. Deputy Leader Cllr Nick Botterill says this:

"It may not be the most efficient manner as far as they're concerned, but actually as far as our residents are concerned, it's got to be better that these works are carried out as quickly as possible."

I have to say I was amazed that Thames Water seem to see fit to dig up every other road but when it came to replacing the one water main that keeps bursting and cutting large swathes of west London off, they're just "considering" it!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Loss of Water in the Bush?

Thames Water has had another water pipe burst in Twickenham and some other outlets are reporting that water supplies have been hit in Shepherd's Bush. I have to say this wasn't the case with me this morning, any of you?

1415 UPDATE: It seems it has affected some of us, judging by the comments. Here's the latest from Thames Water's Twitter feed on the issue: TW8 burst: digging up High St, Brentford, to fix broken pipe. 4 water mains under rd & other pipes, cables. Not easy job

One of you rightly points out that this is hardly the first time, so I have just sent this email to their Customer Services Dep't:

I write, the Shepherd's Bush Blog, and a copy of this email has been posted on there as will any reply I receive be.
As you'll be aware our area has now been hit with water outages twice in the last few weeks. Could you confirm what, if any, compensation arrangements might be in place for customers?
Many thanks
Chris Underwood

1500 UPDATE - Thames Water say the water is back on. On their website they've just posted this update:

Wed 8 September, 3pm
Water supplies have now been restored to customers in W and TW postal areas following a burst water main this morning.
Pressures will continue to build over the next few hours.
Customers who are experiencing water supply issues should call us on 0845 9200 800. Lines are open 24 hours a day.
We're sorry for the inconvenience caused

Note - nothing about compensation or money off our bills. Yet ...

UPDATE 1615 - Thames Water have given an extraordinary quote to the BBC, basically saying fingers up to our customers:

"We understand the customers' frustration if a pipe keeps bursting and apologise to customers," he said.
He said replacing the pipe was "being considered" but he could not confirm it definitely would be replaced.

"Being considered" - how awfully nice of them.