Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Police appeal for missing teenager

Police are appealing for assistance to help find a missing teenager from Fulham.
Madeline Weto-Kala, aged 12, was last seen by her family at her home address in Fulham at 10pm on Saturday 28th May.
Madeline's mother gave her permission to go to the Putney Odean with a friend. It is understood she never met her friend.
Madeline is described as a black female, slim build, F505 tall, brown eyes and black hair with extensions.
It is believed she was wearing a white jumper with black horizontal linesblack belt, black leggings and brown boots below her knee and wore two chains both silver and one with the letter 'M' when she went missing.
Officers are very concerned for her safety and whereabouts and urge anyone who has seen Madeline or who knows of her whereabouts should call Hammersmith CID on 0208 246 2482 or Missing People on 0500 700 700.

Marine Sam Alexander, 28, killed

Sam Alexander was killed last Friday in Afghanistan. He was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device whilst on patrol in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali district in Helmand province. He was in Afghanistan putting his life on the line on behalf of the rest of us and had already been recognised for his heroism when he saved a wounded colleague by charging a Taliban position armed with a pistol, completely exposed to enemy fire.

Marine Sam Alexander MC was born on 16 June 1982 in Hammersmith where he grew up with his mother, Serena, father Stuart and sister, Sophie. He was married to Claire in November 2009 and their son Leo was born in July 2010.

According to the MoD he joined the Royal Marines in July 2006 and passed fit for duty in October 2007. On completion of training, Marine Alexander MC was appointed to the Fire Support Group in Mike Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines.

He later moved to Kilo Company and deployed on Operation HERRICK 9, during which he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. On his return from operations he trained as a Heavy Weapons (Anti-Tank) specialist and was appointed to Juliet Company, before returning to Afghanistan for Operation HERRICK 14.

Claire, Marine Alexander’s wife, said:
“Sam was so special. He was the gentlest of men but tough when he needed to be. He risked his safety for his friends but never batted an eyelid. It was his job and a job he did well. Sam was a loving husband and a wonderful father. He was our rock and my best friend. He has been taken from me all too soon. 
“We both love him and will miss him very much. These are all special guys who, for whatever reason, join a very tough band of blokes who willingly die for each other without a second thought. I just hope his death was not in vain”
Stuart, Marine Alexander’s father, said:
“Sam’s professionalism was widely acknowledged, the award of a Military Cross is testament to his courage and care for those around him. But it is as a father and husband that he showed the same deep-rooted wish always to help and care for others. People say I must be very proud, but the respect in which I held him was more important than pride. He was a great guy with a great smile and a zest for life. I loved him very much.”
Serena, Marine Alexander’s mother, said:
“The legacy that Sam leaves is hope – hope for oppressed people all over the World. There are people like Sam who risk their lives for others. Wherever you are now Sam, keep on fighting. You will never be forgotten”.
Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Murchison MBE, Commanding Officer 42 Commando Royal Marines, Coalition Force Nad-e Ali (North), said:

“Marine Sam Alexander MC was a truly remarkable young man. Decorated during his last tour of Afghanistan for gallantry, he embodied all the finest attributes of a Royal Marines Commando: he was courageous, selfless, resolute, loyal and cheerful in the face of adversity. 
“The loss of such a professional and well respected Marine comes as shocking news; he was a larger than life character and leaves a gap that cannot be filled. One of the more senior Marines in Juliet Company, he inspired those around him to reach the highest possible standards and in doing so was an exemplary role model for those younger and less experienced than himself. 
“He led by example and from the front and would have unquestionably had a promising future in the Royal Marines ahead of him. Sadly this will not be realised as his life has been tragically cut short. Instead, Marine Alexander now joins the legends, the bravest of the brave, who inspire us all forever with their courage, dedication and sacrifice; his memory will endure. On this the darkest of days, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Claire, their son Leo and his parents Stuart and Serena; may they somehow find the strength and courage to face the days ahead.”
There is no doubt that this was an extremely courageous and brave young man, but there are doubts about why people like him are still dying over there. His own father talking to the BBC paid tribute to the 'humbling' way in which his son was viewed by his colleagues but questioned the worth of the mission. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that, just pause for a second this morning. I would guess nothing you or I face today will come even close to what Sam had to face up to every day. What a loss.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

H&F Cllr Greg Smith on "F@#king" Twitter!

Cllr Greg Smith is a man's man. When he's not cracking down hard on the local criminal fraternity (good) or introducing charges for personal trainers to get local people fit in parks (silly) there is nothing our Cabinet Member for Residents Services likes better than to watch Forumla One racing. And tweet about it.

Nothing wrong with that, it's just that, well, Greg gets angry. And he shares his earthy wrath with the 129 people who subscribe to his fiery updates, which as you can see are very much of the bar room variety.

Now anyone that knows me personally will understand that for me to criticise anyone else for bad language would be hypocrisy taken to extreme, and actually I quite like Cllr Smith although I don't know him that well. I dealt with his team during my coverage of the General Election campaign for Hammersmith last year, during which he was unfailingly courteous despite not liking some of what I wrote, and I'd score him as by far one of the most effective members of H&F Council with an impressive record of supporting the police.He's also just launched a free weekly fun run on Wormwood Scrubs - excellent stuff.

And anyway, it's good to have colourful characters. The only problem though is that it does tend to get noticed by his opponents, the local Labour attack blog featured Cllr Smith's four letter rantings here and the current edition of Private Eye reports on an, er, emotional description of a Labour cllr as a "twat" and a "moron" at a recent meeting at the Town Hall.

And therefore I come to the point of this tongue in cheek article - several of Cllr Smith's Conservative colleagues have told me in the last few weeks they wish he would tone it down a bit. I kind of hope he doesn't listen to them, but in the spirit of public service, I thought I'd pass the message on!

Have a f.ing good Bank Holiday Monday, Greg!

Serious road crash off Westfield, Shepherd's Bush

There has been what looks sadly liken a fatal road crash on Holland Park Roundabout near the turning for Westfield this morning. I'm grateful to the readers who alerted me to it, I was in the area and I have to say it looks horrible. A red car in particular appeared to be on the wrong side of the road and was almost entirely crushed.

The demeanour of the police plus the evidence at first hand didn't leave much to the imagination. You've got to hope that nobody was indeed killed despite what it looks like, but also have some thought for the police themselves. Would you want to be the person confronting that scene of human misery and then having to deal with it? 

I've already seen one moron on Twitter calling the police "stupid" because he doesn't like the way they are diverting the traffic as a result of the crash. Let's have a bit more respect both for the people involved in the incident and for the professionals who are doing their best in what must be appalling circumstances. When some of them get home tonight and shut the door behind them, I can't see how they're going to be able to switch off.

I've put a call into the local Police press office to get the details and will report them here on Tuesday. Check back then. Until then, be safe.

1700 UPDATE - The police have just given me this statement - which is very welcome news:
"London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service were called to two persons trapped - rd was closed at approx 08:38hrs.  None of the casualties were believed to have life threatening or life changing injuries.  Rd was re opened at 12:15hrs". 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Wormwood Scrubs (Weekly) 4 mile fun run

A 4 mile fun run will be taking place every Saturday from just outside the Linford Christie athletics stadium from Satuday June 11th.

As an initiative from our Council to promote local health and fitness this is surely an excellent move - the cost must be minimal, the scenery beautiful and the results for local people who take up the sport potentially life enhancing or even saving.

So full credit to H&F for this, and lets hope we see more.

The race starts at 9am and will then take place every Saturday at the same time meeting near the Linford Christie Outdoor Sports Centre car park.

Speaking to the H&F Conservatives blog Cllr Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Services, says this:
“Wormwood Scrubs is the largest park in the borough and this run will help people to keep fit while enjoying a beautiful open space.”
For more information visit www.parkrun.org.uk/wormwood-scrubs. I can vouch for the scenery - I trained here when I was getting ready for the Brighton Marathon last year, it's built for running.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Thursday thunder leads to 130,000 tons of sewage entering Thames at Hammersmith

A Heron at Hammersmith during the discharges on thursday
Thames Water have revealed, in the face of constant sniping from our Council about whether or not the Thames Tideway Tunnel is really necessary, that 130,000 tons of poo was flushed into the river in W6 as a result of the intense thunder storms we experienced over the Bush on Thursday.

That is 130,000 reasons why the new "super sewer" is needed and 130,000 reasons why our Council needs to grow up a bit about the issue. In fairness to them they have stopped misleading the public about the scheme potentially leading to residents being made homeless but who can forget that their original campaign against the scheme rested on their desire to "save" Furnival Gardens.

That is the same Furnival Gardens the same Council now wish to concrete over a third of with a bridge linking the park to two giant blocks of luxury flats in King Street, in the teeth of opposition from local people. Which is why people like me, who were taken in by the Council's dishonesty over Furnival Gardens and called on you to support them as a result, find it hard to believe anything they say on the subject anymore.

The basic point about our sewers is that they can't cope. Modern sewers separate rainwater and sewage into different pipes but the Victorian ones we have cannot, and in any case were not designed for a city that has had 150 years to grow in size and population. They overflow regularly into the river and sometimes back up into people's homes, including even as far up from the river as the Askew Road.

It's a hugely expensive project and there are legitimate questions to be asked about how much of the burden London taxpayers should bear alone - but there is surely now no case to answer on the question of whether we need it or not.

And if you're really interested read about my own trip down into London's sewers here - there is a whole new world down there, that very few people up top ever get to see!

Trixi mirrors: the way to cut cycle deaths?

Last month a woman called Naoko was killed on her bike by a heavy lorry in Hammersmith. Her death clocked up another notch in the grim statistics collected by Transport for London every year on cycle/lorry deaths that take place on our roads.

Some cases have received larger amounts of publicity than others, such as that of Catriona Patel who was killed by a lorry driver who was later sentenced to 7 years for having been over the alcohol limit that morning in south London.

After each horrendous episode however there has been the debate about how we stop these incidents happening and one conclusion, which you might think is stating the obvious, keeps being reached - that it is difficult to see from a large HGV down the inside left of the vehicle, especially if a cyclist is very close to the lorry. This means the lorry driver may turn left, not seeing the cyclist, and the inevitable consequences flow.

Frankly, I don't think that's anywhere near a good enough excuse for an HGV driver who probably in some cases shouldn't be on inner city streets anyway, but it is a repeating theme. The Liberal Democrats at the Greater London Authority have been pressing the Mayor on this issue, specifically to install "Trixi Mirrors" at junctions to enable the HGV drivers to use them to see every last thing that might be on the left of their vehicle before they turn.

Fixed to things like traffic lights or sign posts they remove any blind spot. And as simple mirrors, they are dirt cheap. Here's what the leader of the LibDems Caroline Pidgeon AM has to say:
"Trixi mirrors are a cost effective and  very simple way of reducing accidents involving cyclists and lorries.   When they could play a crucial role in ending the scandal of so many cyclists being killed on London's roads it's a no brainer to roll them out across the whole of London as quickly as possible."
A no brainer indeed. And TfL are apparently going to start doing this but the red tape of our transport system means it is proceeding at a snails pace. And they will only be installed, apparently, along Boris Johnson's blue lane cycle "superhighways" - you know, the strips of blue that are supposed to miraculously protect cyclists.

So even this wouldn't have played any role in the incident that killed Naoko in Hammersmith, because Boris' pet project doesn't extend to West London. Will H&F Council take the lead and install some themselves? I plan on asking them...

1030 UPDATE - A reader ponits out that there is now a Trixi mirror on the Uxbridge Road/Askew Road junction - and so there is! Credit to the Council for that - but sad that it took this incident I reported on two years ago, also involving a cyclist and a heavy lorry, to lead to its introduction. Let's not wait for more.

1400 UPDATE - The Evening Standard is running the same story now which you can read here

Thursday, 26 May 2011

QPR: Bhatia resigns, Warnock on brink

Was one of Warnock's last interviews with the Shepherd's Bush Blog?
Amit Bhatia is gone and Warnock may follow after 48 hours of rapidly churning turmoil at the club that has seen a boardroom battle for power and influence swing decisively in favour of Adolf Hitler fan Bernie Ecclestone and strange guy Flavio Briatore and away from 30% shareholders, Mr Bhatia and Mittal.

Ecclestone and Briatore seemed to lose all interest in the club after their actions threatened to drive us towards relegation last season with a string of bad apppointments to the managers role, and interference even after each hapless skipper was installed. Then came Neil Warnock and a season which has seen the Rs dominate the league from start to finish.

Amit Bhatia has been the quiet man of the boardroom but I can tell you, having been told by a source with an absolutely impeccable qualification to know, that he has been the rock on which Warnock's success has been founded. The implications of his resignation are very clear indeed, Neil Warnock is now on the brink of following him out of the door. If he goes, he'll leave with his dignity intact.

Mr Bhatia released a statement today making clear that he implacably opposed the 40% hike in ticket increases that as I said yesterday have effectively locked the average fan like me out of the club for the next season. So now we know who to thank for that - yes it's Bernie Ecclestone again - a man who knows nothing about football and even less about leadership - he is after all on record as saying he "admired" Adolf Hitler because he "was a man who got things done". Yes Mr Ecclestone, like the Holocaust.

So now we have a club, which resembles a horror movie. The type when in the main plot the good guy almost saves the day but in the sub plot, lurking in the background, there is the dark sinister character just waiting to burst back onto the scene to send everyone back to hell again. Step forward Mr Bernard Ecclestone with supporting act Monsignor Flaviotore Briatore.

Good grief.

Sure Start cuts: H&F Council taken to court

Parents have served our Council with papers at the High Court seeking permission to launch a Judicial Review of the decision to radically cut spending on the Sure Start service for families with young children in our borough, according to the BBC.

Our Council have drastically reduced the funding available to most Sure Start centres in H&F by introducing what they call a  "hub and spoke" system whereby a few lucky centres retain funding but those considered "spokes" on the periphery lose most of their resources. Because the actual number of centres remain the Council claims that this does not represent a cut in Sure Start provision.

In H&F the protests against these cuts were led by mothers such as Ruth Walsh who wrote this very moving account on the Blog of how the cuts would affect her and her son at Wendell Park. When I offered the Council a 'right of reply' to what she had written they simply sent me an old press release, which illustrated how much they intended to listen to mothers like Ruth. No matter, she took the protests all the way to Downing Street and picketed Hammersmith Town Hall with buggies. Twice.

Now it appears that the Council were in so much haste to shrink the service they actually announced the cuts before the "consultation" period had ended, thus making a mockery of the idea of a consultation at all. And it is this that the lawyers have seized on as evidence that their decisions were illegal.

The Council, for their part, say they will contest the legal action "robustly" and deny any wrong doing.

You have to think that the stakes in this legal action are immensely high. Probably what will happen if the action is successful is that the Council will simply launch another 'consultation' exercise and reach exactly the same pre cooked conclusions, implementing the same scheme anyway. But the political damage to the reputation of the authority would be considerable as a long drawn out battle in the Courts would inevitably attract a lot of attention.

Coming on top of the Judicial Review being launched over the Council's plans to destroy the Goldhawk Road shops and build seven floors of flats on top of the Market this is looking set to be a summer in the courts between our Council and its' residents.

31ST MAY UPDATE - The Fulham Chronicle have caught up with this story here

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

QPR: Officially priced out

Neil Warnock meets Shepherds Bush Blog
QPR have announced that we will have to pay 40% more in ticket prices now that the club is in the Premiership. 

In other words, those of us who have scrimped the money together for games in the last few years, supporting the team while the owners repeatedly slapped us in the face with quotes like the one from Flavio Briatore who said that those who only "pay twenty pounds" have “no right to raise questions”, not to mention installing managers like “Mad Dog” Magilton who went around head-butting the players, are now in many cases priced out. 

I honestly can’t see myself attending a single match with the cheapest ticket now costing £47 a pop. And I very much doubt I’m the only one. 

But the owners don’t really want people like me anymore, so I doubt they’ll lose much sleep over that. 

Good luck to Neil anyway, when he spoke to me last week he was full of determination. I’ll be supporting from outside the ground now, and hopefully reporting on the increase in community work the club will be contributing to with their windfall from entry into the top flight.

I just hope for the sake of the wealthier bottoms that will now grace the seats instead of the average Busher, that they do something about the internal décor. Corrugated iron just won’t do, for the higher class of football fan, dahlings.

Private Eye: Fulham Chronicle not "proper paper"

Private Eye has reached the harsh but inevitable judgement on the Fulham Chronicle following their transformation from independent newspaper to propaganda machine willing to take the politicians' shilling.

Private Eye, headed by anti corruption campaigner Ian Hislop who recently forced BBC hack Andrew Marr to reveal his super-injunction gagging the press, describes how the Fulham Chronicle will be "opening it's columns" to be written by "council press officers" in return for getting £75,000 a year of our tax cash. This is in addition, of course, to supporting local prostitution by taking advertising cash from pimps and brothels despite pleas from the Metropolitan Police not to do so.

The Eye poses a question - now that they are reliant on producing Council political propaganda what will the Chronicle do if it gets a story that challenges the spin doctors? I can answer that - in their recent report on the locally contentious White City redevelopment plans on April 14th not a single question about the plans was raised - only that "ambitious plans" had been "unveiled". In fact, there are real questions about the extent of social housing that will or will not be created and the extent to which local people have been consulted with local politicians on both sides trading blows on the issue, which is why I wrote it up as a "row". You would not have known anything about the non-Council version of the events from reading the Fulham Chronicle.

Help transform a Library to Shepherd's Bush Theatre

As part of the Bush Theatre’s 32 Degrees West Season – the angle from the front door of the company’s current home of 39 years, to the new home at the old Library in Shepherd’s Bush where they will relocate this autumn – the company is to stage Where’s My Seat. Ahead of the building’s inaugural season later this year, the company is throwing open the doors of the new venue and inviting the public to play a part in the transformation of the space, from library to theatre.

Tamara Harvey directs Francesca AnnisDebbie ChazenRichard CorderyHugo SpeerHugh Skinner and Nina Sosanya across three plays penned using stage directions by Alan Ayckbourn,Michael Grandage and the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke. The playwrights, Deirdre KinahanJack Thorne and Tom Wells have taken the stage directions of the theatre practitioners - which were inspired by nine props chosen by the National Theatre – and written a play especially for the event, each to be staged in a different layout.

Over the course of the evening, the audience will see the three short plays. During the first interval, as the stage is reconfigured, the audience will be invited to examine the front of house area and bar in more detail and feed back their thoughts; and during the second the company will open up the backstage areas, rehearsal room, garden and invite the audience to test these areas, and comment on the use of space within the new building. The feedback gathered will be collated and utilised for the first stage of the conversion into a working theatre this autumn.

The props donated by the National Theatre are two stuffed hares, a 30cm strawberry, a mask, a coal scuttle, basketball, dog with moving head, glass cabinet, a necklace made of human fingers and a blue wooden aeroplane.

My word.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Shepherds Bush Market: Traders win judicial review against Council and Orion

Our Council's plans to build seven floors of flats on top of Shepherd's Bush market have been thrown into chaos after the traders have won permission from the High Court to initiate proceedings for a judicial review of the way in H&F Council has gone about the process. The legal challenge is based on a claim that our Council have failed to follow proper procedure.  

In September 2010, Hammersmith & Fulham Council published a Supplementary Planning Document which indicated that the shops on Goldhawk Road were to be demolished. As part of the controversial plans, the Council has teamed up with property developers, Orion Shepherds Bush Limited, who intend to build over 200 flats and houses as part of the regeneration plans. There was a shaky moment between the Council and their favoured developers when Council Leader Cllr Greenhalgh gave a binding promise at this meeting in December 2010 not to allow Orion to build a third entrance needing the shops to be knocked down if the owners didn't want them to be. The press teams of Orion and the Council have been trying to insist on collective amnesia of that promise ever since.

The shops on Goldhawk Road, built in the mid 19th century, are a unique example of Victorian era in Shepherds Bush. Most of these shops are family owned and have been in operation for decades. For instance, Cooke’s Pie & Mash located at 48 Goldhawk Road has remained in the same family since 1899.

The shopkeepers allege that the Council’s decision to demolish the shops as part of the proposed regeneration is unlawful in several respects. For example, the Council did not adhere to a proper consultation procedure with market traders, shopkeepers and local residents in relation to either the proposed demolition of the Goldhawk Road shops or the large scale residential development intended to replace the demolished shops.

The Claimants also allege that there has been a complete lack of sustainability appraisals and that the Council is in breach its obligation to discharge its duties under the Race Relations Act 1976.

One of the shopkeepers, Aniza Meghani (the proprietor of Classic Textiles) stated 

”the Council’s plans and the development proposal by Orion Shepherds Bush Limited is ill conceived and is largely driven by the development of the residential properties for profit rather than the stated aim of regenerating the market. Our shops on Goldhawk Road are not even part of the market. To seek to demolish our long-standing businesses for the sake of residential properties is unacceptable”. 
The owners and tenants are represented by the city firm Webster Dixon LLP. Michael Webster, a partner of Webster Dixon LLP stated 

“the shopkeepers’ application for a judicial review clearly has merit as the Judge has granted permission for their claim to proceed to a full hearing.”
I reported here how the traders had wobbled and almost fallen apart in the face of the might of a large developer and determined Council. But they've rallied and recently Ms Meghani described the fight as being akin to 'David and Goliath'. It seems Goliath just got hit by a well aimed pebble. 

I've asked the Council for comment and will report it here when it arrives ... in the meantime what do you think? 

1100 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - I've just spoken to the Council, who's spokesman said: 
“Shepherds Bush Market is clearly in need of a new lease of life if it is to fulfil its undoubted potential and the vast majority of people who responded to the two public consultations on the planning and regeneration brief were in favour of regenerating the market. Most local people agree that the market area needs a new lease of life if it is to retain its historic position as a vibrant west London destination and this was the spirit in which the planning brief was developed. We have just received notification that this claim from some of the Goldhawk Road shops could now progress and the matter is currently being considered by our lawyers."

Barnet Council kills road humps, and its people. Not here!

In 2003 the Telegraph posted an article entitled "be grateul that Barnet got the hump with bumps", which was a reference to that Council's decision to flatten all speed humps on roads in the borough. Writing in the Telegraph Tom Utley rejoiced that "as I write, contractors for Barnet council in north London are at work, flattening every one of the 1,000 speed bumps in the borough."

Well today the results of that scheme were laid bare by Transport for London - Barnet now has the highest road kill rate in London. While road deaths fell by 34% in outer London they soared in leafy Barnet, who have defended themselves by saying they have rather a lot of roads. I used to live in Barnet - it is not any more roady than anywhere else, that you'd notice by walking around.

And the relevance of this to Shepherd's Bush? Our Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh is a keen admirer of Barnet who, like H&F, are seen as Tory trendsetters. In fact Barnet coined the term "easyCouncil" in reference to their slashing of services to the bone and requiring residents to pay for what they saw as "extras". Ring any bells? In fact Cllr Greenhalgh is appearing at a conference sponsored by management consultants KPMG in June this year to discuss the "public services revolution" ...... with the Leader of Barnet Council.

So any whiff of our Council following Barnet down this path should be met with implacable opposition. It may play well with the Jeremy Clarkson 'political correctness gone mad' Righty brigade but the figures prove what it actually leads to - death and misery. I'd be the first on the barricades if they float something similar for our roads and I hope you'd join me!

Anti crime police stall outside Shepherd's Bush Central Line

The Shepherd's Bush Safer Neighbourhood Team will be outside the central line tube between the hours of 10am and 4pm every day betweeen today and thursday inclusive, offering personal attack alarms, handbag security chains, an opportunity to speak with local SNT officers and also officers from the British Transport Police giving safe travel advice. 

Get yerself down there, pick up some of the useful stuff, but also do just say hello to the people who keep our streets as safe as they can.

Conningham Road incident on Friday night

I received two reports from readers who witnessed what sounded like a fairly horrible incident on Conningham Rd at around 1am on Saturday morning. Details seemed to be police and ambulance in attendance complete with shrieking woman apparently claiming that someone had died.

I did try contacting the local police press person who in fairness to them have been excellent over the course of the terrible events of recent weeks but it seems they are on holiday and nobody else can help! So in usual fashion if you do know anything keep your fellow Bushers informed via the comments section.

2200 UPDATE - I've just had a report given by a commenter below confirmed by the Safer Neighbourhood Team that three people were charged in West London Magistrates Court today with an attempted kidnapping and GBH. A van was apparently used in an attempted kidnapping which resulted in the crashing of the vehicle and the men being arrested. Despite the cries of the female in the road nobody did in fact die - which is the good news of an otherwise very disturbing incident indeed. More to follow as it comes in.

Shepherd's Bush Village Hall: gone by Sept

I've been listening to the community groups threatened with eviction by the Council from Shepherd's Bush Village Hall in the last few days, who appear to have given up the fight. The groups, which include the Shepherd's Bush Families Project, Sure Start and the West London School of dance have been clearing their areas of the hall and preparing to leave, while a mood of despondency has set in among some of those who launched a campaign to save the Hall in February this year.

The Hall was of course the venue for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's disastrous visit to the Borough when he came face-face with the community groups faced with homelessness, as part of our Council's strategy of flogging most of the buildings it owns to save cash and cut the local authority's debt.

The only light at the end of the tunnel could be a plan for two of the groups to buy the building from the Council themselves, but in order to do so they would have to vacate the building by Septemberand stump up the cash shortly thereafter. With no deadline extension for raising the money in sight and little real anticipation of that happening it seems the Village Hall is set to slip out of the community's hands.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Warnock speaks to Shepherd's Bush Blog: We'll do the best we can

Neil Warnock meets Shepherd's Bush Blog
Speaking to me at a civic reception yesterday evening hosted by our Council to congratulate QPR on their promotion to the premiership Neil Warnock had a simple message for the fans of Loftus Road - that he would do everything in his power to keep them up.
"I'll do the best I can with whatever funds I'm given to stay up, because we're all united in wanting to sustain premiership football at QPR." 
That might have seemed like he was stating the obvious but the current  premiership relegation dogfight involving more than a handful of teams that could in theory join West Ham in the drop underlines the scale of the task. And it's clear that one of the main ingredients in meeting that challenge is going to be money, and how much of it the owners make available to Warnock to give the Rs a fighting chance.

Paying rich tribute to the fans of Loftus Road the manager talked warmly about the "special atmosphere" created by what he called "the closeness of the ground" and the way in which the W12 faithful got behind the players at every game. Surprisingly for me Mr Warnock said he thought that at first some of the fans had not been too sure about his appointment but he said "it's take me as you find me, and we soon built a good relationship". I'll say.

Mayor Adroni Alfrod, QPR Chairman Gianni Paladini and Neil Warnock
Addressing the reception the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Adronie Alford, thanked the team on behalf of the people of the Borough which, though only four miles long now had three premiership sides, she said. And Councillor Harry Phibbs, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, underlined what this meant for Shepherd's Bush - £700,000 per year for local businesses for starters. I'm a big fan of Cllr Phibbs, a local Top Tory who can point to parts of the Bush that he has cleaned up, and in true form he couldn't resist directing a comment to Gianni Paladini, Chairman of QPR, that he looked forward to seeing some donations from the new Premiership side to some local good causes in W12. Good on you, Cllr Phibbs. Messrs Warnock and Paladini were then presented with plaques of the Borough to mark the Council's congratulations.

Reflecting on his year in Shepherd's Bush thus far, Neil Warnock told me that it "has been an amazing ride, and to end up gaining promotion has been a fantastic achievement." He said it had "given Loftus Road its' pride back" and that he'd only really felt just how much it had meant when he'd been out and about in the area and stopped to talk to people.

It's been a long time since QPR were in the top flight. Let's hope Neil is backed by the Board to keep us there.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Police appeal on suspected Fulham fraudster

Hammersmith police are appealing for information to help trace and identify a man they wish to speak to in connection with an attempted fraud.

On Tuesday 21st December at 14:00hrs the suspect entered Barclays Bank along Fulham Broadway, SW6 handed a fake passport in order to try and withdraw £4,000 from an account. The request was refused by staff.

The male is described as white, bald approximately 60-65years wearing a yellow jacket and carrying a brown briefcase.

Anyone with any information or can help identify the male is asked to contact PC James Franklin based in the CID at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2441 or if you wish to remain anonymous call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police appeal for burglary suspect

Police are asking for assistance to locate 37-year-old Michael Dawkins.

In April, a recall to prison was issued for breach of parole licence as a result of him being wanted for a residential burglary in February 2009

Police also wish to speak to Michael in connection with a burglary along Connigham Road, W12 on Saturday 19th February 2011

Despite extensive enquiries officers have been unable to locate Michael.

Michael is of black-carribbean descent.  He also has links to Shepherds Bush area.

Anyone with any information as to the whereabouts of Michael is asked to contact Detective Constable Claire Finlay based in the Burglary Squad at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2678 or to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

Shepherd's Bush Green hearings underway

Trees are set to be felled on Shepherd's Bush Green if a public hearing which started yesterday and continues through to Thursday goes the Council's way, who want to re-landscape the Green, introduce a new cafe and clear some of the trees. 

Substantial local opposition to the Council's plans from shopkeepers who fear the impact of introducing a new cafe and residents who either don't like the thought of losing the trees or the impact of more rubbish and rats generated by the new facilities that the Planning Inspectorate has stepped in to look at whether it should give the Council the go ahead.

The Planning Inspectorate earlier told the Council it's original publicity about the changes was "deficient" and forced it to re-issue notices to local people.

Several deputations of local residents are expected to take part in the hearings at Hammersmith Town Hall and the results known, hopefully, shortly afterwards.

Here's what doughty local campaigner Viv James of the Macfarlane Residents Association has to say:
Surely businesses around the green that offer café services already are against the idea of another outlet to compete against? The SBMarket needs the business too so why create another source of litter on what is fundamentally a glorified roundabout? SB Ward councillors have been silent on this project, and I have not heard or read anything from the Town Centre Manager either".
However speaking to me a couple of months ago Councillor Greg Smith said this about the trees (he refers to the Green as the "Common"):
"There are currently 102 trees on the Common. We will be planting 34 additional large specimen trees, including 4 Oak, 19 London Plane, 6 Silver birches and 5 flowering cherry. We are planning for the future by introducing boulevard tree planting that will establish itself to take the place of trees that eventually will die. (Our tree survey indicated that the perimeter trees have a life expectancy of just another 40 years). However, the number of trees to be felled has been reduced from the originally planned 20 to 12. In all, this will mean a net gain of 22 trees for the Common"

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Fight on South Africa Road: three arrests

A fight outside Billy's chip shop on South Africa Rd next to the Springbok pub this afternoon resulted in three arrests and one man being taken to St Mary's Hospital with injuries he'd sustained in the violence, according to the police officer I spoke to at the scene.

Nothing particularly major in the incident but it's one more episode which underlines the role of alcohol in violent crime on our streets. The combination of off-licence, betting shop and pub on that row of shops in the shadow of QPR's ground is not a good one.

How the Fulham Chronicle works

Have a look at this article from Adam Courtney of the Chronicle. Where on earth could he be quoting from when he talks about the comments so many of you made about the shooting on Lakeside Road? But does he acknowledge his source? No, of course not. I would have thought over an issue like this, even from someone like Adam Courtney, we might have expected a bit more of a grown-up approach. Adam has had to apologise for lifting content from here and publishing it in the Chronicle before, and this time at least four paragraphs of his article are from here. 

Perhaps since he obviously reads this blog to get his material he might like to respond to the concerns that have been expressed by the Metropolitan Police and women's groups about his own newspapers support of local prostitution by taking advertising money from local pimps and brothel owners which even the Council regards as "highly distasteful". Quite a contribution to the local community. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Stabbing on Hammersmith Broadway?

Some of you have written in saying that an air ambulance is on scene in Hammersmith to deal with the aftermath of a stabbing - I do hope this isn't the case, but as ever keep your fellow readers informed via the comments if you know something. Will update as news comes in ..

UPDATE - some reports say it took place in the bus station. Which would tally with school kicking out time. Nice.

1630 - A male has been taken away in an ambulance, it seems. Very heavy police presence

1640 - A reader has seen someone being handcuffed and taken away - this doesn't necessarily mean an arrest of a suspect in the stabbing but we shall see. I have put in a call to the Police press office and will share info as it comes in.

1705 - The Helicopter seems to be actively tracking a potential suspect to the stabbing. Meanwhile it appears according to the police that the 14 year old victim is in a "serious" condition in hospital. Please god let him be OK. We've had enough death and misery for one week.

1805 - Helicopters are gone. One of the commenters here named the possible victim but it's been pointed out to me that I can't really allow this since the victim is likely to be under 18. So please don't - I will have to delete comments that do.  All we can do now is hope for the best for whoever this young lad is - whatever led up to this, the consequences for both him and whoever has allegedly inflicted these wounds will change some people's worlds forever.

1915 - A police spokeswoman has given me this statement:-
"We were alerted by the emergency services, There was a stabbing on Hammersmith Broadway. The London Air Ambulance Service attended"
The spokeswoman said the teenager was in a "serious condition" as a west London hospital.

2000 - I've spoken to Hammersmith CID who have not confirmed the identity of the victim but have confirmed that they are not going to stand in the way of free speech if people want to name names. So I am not now deleting the name that keeps being used in the comments.

2010 - the victims' brother has sent an update from the hospital in the comments

2040 - A harrowing account of the stabbing has been sent to me by LBC Radio of a witness describing having seen 8 stabbing injuries on the 14 year old boy - who he says was robbed for his i-pod - and the paramedics cutting off the boys' shirt to try and save his life. It brings the brutal reality of it home. The passer-by sounds like he was the only person who really went to the boys' aid. I am really very grateful indeed to LBC Radio for sharing this with us - and to you the readers for doing what you always do and keeping each other informed. Stay safe people.

TUESDAY UPDATE: You can listen to the radio interview here - it is unedited and does contain swearing. Thanks very much again to LBC for letting me have this.

1400 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - Three arrests have been made according to a statement I have just received from the Police. A spokeswoman has confirmed that "three people in their mid-teens have been arrested in connection with the investigation. They remain in custody pending further enquiries".

You can also see how the national media tends to work in situations like this - take a look at this article written by lazy  Evening Standard journalist Benedict Moore-Bridger. He has written an article that is completely lifted from this article but decided he didn't need to be honest with his readers about where he got the info from. So no acknowledgement either of this blog or the fact that the radio interview was conducted by LBC Radio. Sloppy, unprofessional and cynical. So look out for Mr Moore-Bridger's articles in future and ask yourself where he might have nicked his info from.

0530 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - It seems, according to his relatives writing here, that Shankai is in Paddington Hospital and stable. All fo our best wishes go to him I am sure. Thanks to his family for sharing this with us.

1330 UPDATE WEDNESDAY - the police have made a fourth arrest, again of a teenager. Here's the police statement:

"Police investigating the stabbing of a 14 year-old boy in Hammersmith Broadway on Monday 16 May, have arrested a fourth person in connection with the incident.
The boy [D] in his mid teens, remains in custody pending further enquiries.
Three people [A/B/C] in their mid-teens who were arrested between 16/17 May, have been bailed to a date in late June."
1130 UPDATE THURSDAY - Three boys have been charged. 
Two 16 year-olds and a 17 year-old appeared at West London Youth Court this morning, 19 May charged with GBH with intent.

A fourth boy in his mid teens, who was arrested on 18 May in connection with the investigation, has been bailed to return pending further enquiries.

1800 UPDATE FRIDAY - Just hearing two more boys have been charged but awaiting final details

Sofyen Belamouadden: Youths guilty

The youths charged with the murder of Sofyen have been found guilty this afternoon at the Old Bailey. Sofyen was killed by a gang armed with knives in Victoria Station after a pre-arranged fight on facebook between two gangs, one of whom was from west London.

Sofyen was a pupil at Henry Compton School. The trials' end of course comes as we begin another hunt for a another murderer or murderers after the shooting on Lakeside Road just last week. Much of the local debate that took place on this blog by many local people touched on issues that were no  doubt at least partly in play in this murder too. Why do kids think it's in any way OK to go out and kill each other with guns and knives - and if most of them don't why do so many still do it?

I'll be returning to this issue in the days and weeks ahead - the debate we had locally here was uncomfortable and sometimes depressing. But it's one that is long overdue. So thank-you.

David and Goliath struggle over Shepherd's Bush Market

The traders are revolting. After Council Leader Stephen Greenhlagh made this binding promise to traders that the Goldhawk Block of historic buildings would not be removed if the traders didn't want them to be, the first sign that the Great Leader was to go back on his word came when Orion subsequently pitched up with an exhibition early this year in the old Shepherd's Bush Library that had the buildings still removed and a gaping third entrance there anyway leading from Goldhawk Road into the market. 

When I asked Orion man Chris Horn at the exhibition why that was so, he said that the plans were still subject to review but that it was the planners' expectation that the row of shops would indeed be knocked down. I have it on other authority from an impeccable source that the press offices of our Council and Orion have been working closely together in refuting that this promise was ever given. It was. I was there.

At that point, the traders of the Market appeared to go wobbly. In fact their campaign started to fall apart with Mike Broughton, owner of Cooks' Pie & Mash shop being quoted by our Council as saying:
"I have been here for 41 years and the business has been here for 111 years. I hope to keep the business running in new premises on Goldhawk Road and we are talking to OSBL about how that can be achieved."
Days later, he released another statment via the shops Twitter feed which said thus:
"Do not want new premises! Want to save the existing shops. They are so much a part of the local community".
Work that one out if you can. 

Now, however, it appears the traders are getting their act together again and brought their own lawyer to the recent exhibition which Orion have been holding again. Here's an account of an exchange between m'learned friend and Mr Horn from one of the traders just last week:

"He [the lawyer] posed some interesting questions to Chris Horn. Chris kept on going on that our buildings looked old and out of character. i kept on telling Chris, that no one has ever complained about our buildings until they came into the area to profit themselves. We, I said will do up the shops ourselves. 

we then went into the market and the stall holders were complaining about how orion are now planning to reduce their size of their stalls n will oppose the plans once the planning applications goes thru."
Orion are here to make money - serious money. Not to make the best market that they can. That's why the market will be disappearing underneath seven floors of luxury flats and the new houses they plan to build backing onto Pennard Road are to be marketed for £1.5 million each, according to one reader of this blog who attended. 

If the occupants of the Goldhawk Terrace are really, in the main, against their properties being demolished, as they tell me they are, then Councillor Greenhalgh's promise not to allow the third entrance will have to stand. If he decides to jettison that promise, as appears likely, then this planning application will be approved. There is no doubt about that whatsoever.

But make no mistake, the traders I have spoken to intend to take this to court. And in the words of one. speaking to their fellow traders: 
"no matter how big the developers may be, remember the story of DAVID AND GOLIATH."
 18th May UPDATE - The Chronicle has caught up with this story here. The traders apparently refused to speak to the newspaper, so they aren't quoted. So you know where to find the Voice of the Bush!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Blogspot is crap

Just a short apology to those of you who have been trying either to comment or find posts that have mysteriously disappeared. Blogger, the Google company that run this software, has had what looks like complete meltdown in the last few days - they keep sending tweets which sound like Stalin's press releases about miraculously high numbers of tractors being produced saying that everything will soon be hunky dory but it's been going on for the last few days ... bear with me

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Drugs Arrests in dawn raids in Shepherd's Bush

Four people have been arrested in the early hours of this morning Wednesday 11th May as part of an ongoing operation to tackle drug dealing in Hammersmith & Fulham.
Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham's Drugs Squad, Payback Unit and Territorial Support Group executed a series of warrants to target a Criminal Network involved in the supply of Class A Drugs.
During a search of the ‘stash address‘ located in Old Oak Common Lane, Shepherds Bush, officers recovered  ½  Kilo of Class A Drugs along with a Kilo of  Cannabis  with a combined street value in excess of £30,000.
Large quantities of cash, drug dealing paraphernalia, designer goods and other valuable assets were among other items seized.
A 30yr old man, 40yr old female, 17yr old female and 18yr old female were arrested for Money Laundering and possession with intent to supply drugs and remain in custody at a West London Police Station.  
Detective Sergeant Simon Rogers from Hammersmith & Fulham's Drugs Squad said: 
“ This is a great result which highlights the effectiveness of the Drug Squad & Payback Unit working in tandem to dismantle and asset strip criminal networks operating within the borough. “ 

Police Borough Commander: Message to Shepherd's Bush Blog readers

I am the new Borough Commander for Hammersmith and Fulham Police.  I am aware of a number of concerns from local residents regarding the recent tragic murder as I have been monitoring this blog. I have noted concerns raised regarding anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in the area and have commissioned a review to ensure that we take a proactive stance to deal with issues raised.

I am concerned that local residents feel that police are not doing enough to tackle local problems.  Can I reassure you that we are working in partnership with the Local Authority, key community representatives and local residents.  After receiving input from local residents I have put out extra patrols in the area in the short term and am considering longer terms plans.

I thought it would be helpful to clarify the current position regarding the incident. As you know, a man was fatally shot in Lakeside Road, W14 on Monday 9th May. My officers, in an unmarked vehicle, arrived within 5minutes of the Metropolitan Police Service receiving the call and gave emergency first aid to try and save the mans life. This was under difficult circumstances as I am sure you are aware. 3 arrests have been made, and one of these was for a public order matter after the person refused to leave the scene despite being given a number of opportunities by police. The other two people have been bailed pending further enquiries. 

I would urge anyone who may have any information to come forward to help us solve this incident or if you wish to remain anonymous call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

I am keen to work with you all to improve the quality of life within your area. I would encourage you to contact me with any issues that you wish to bring to my attention on the following link  Contact the Borough Commander  and also to contact your Local Safer neighbourhoods Team if you have any information/intelligence on 0208 721 2826 .  

Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi, Borough Commander for Hammersmith and Fulham Police.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Shooting on Lakeside Road: man dead

I'm just back from the scene. It's another desperately sad waste of a young life. Here's what I have at the moment, although as ever in these situations update your fellow Bush readers with what you know via the comments:
  • A man was shot at just after 1600 on Lakeside Road on the way down to Brook Green as you're leaving the Bush
  • The man is thought to be in his 20s. An air ambulance was called but he had died by the time it got there
  • I've been told by a source that the police suspect the attack was a gang-related crime, but officially this can't be confirmed until it's been investigated
  • The attack will be investigated by Operation Trident
  • No arrests have been made
Check back for updates as they come in...

Although the local media ignore some gun incidents that take place in the Bush, such as this one off Askew Road recently, I suspect there will be coverage of this one given the fact someone has died.

Some of you might recognise that this shooting has taken place in roughly the same area that Kodjo Yenga was murdered by a large gang. The local gang in these parts call themselves "Murder Dem Pussies" which is why you can sometimes see the initials "MDP" scrawled on walls and fences. I would imagine collars are being felt as we speak.

1830 UPDATE: BBC Radio have confirmed that eye witnesses saw the man shot as he sat inside a car. The police have secured the car and are examining it as we speak.

2000 UPDATE: I have just come back from the scene again where not only are there crowds of stunned local residents but a close group of people who I can only assume are in some way related to the victim. One woman in particular was clearly in a great deal of distress and was being helped away by both the others around her and the police. That is the human cost of this madness. 

2220 UPDATE - The Police have made an arrest according to the BBC. One man has been taken to a police station in relation to the killing. No further details as yet but keep checking back for more. In the meantime share your thoughts and information using the comments below.

0630 TUES UPDATE: A resident of Lakeside Road, the road in which this murder took place, has left a telling comment on this blog. S/he says this:
"I'm a resident on Lakeside Road, it was never the way it is now. They say clean up the streets well the government need to concentrate on doing exactly that but they want us to be doing their duty work for them!! Another life was taken. This sad sorry episode is just the beginning of a life sentence for this young man's family, and the impact on a community, yes I saw the body being taking away after hours of forensics doing what they do". 
The reference to the Government wanting people to do their work for them is something I heard someone else saying at the scene yesterday. This may be because, just at the time when we have killings like this one and other shooting incidents like the one on Askew Road on April 16th that didn't get any attention from the local media because nobody died - our Council and Government are cutting local police numbers.

0830 TUES UPDATE: A Police Incident Room has opened today under Operation trident, which investigates gun crime in the black community. Here is the statement the police have given me this morning:
"An incident room will open under detectives from Trident today (10 May). At present any witnesses or anyone with information should call police on 0300 123 1212. 
One man was arrested on 9 May in connection with the inquiry and remains in custody at a west London police station."
1230 TUES UPDATE: The Police have revealed that two people have now been arrested over this killing, which is being investigated by Operation Trident. Here is the full text of the statement a spokeswoman has just given me:

    "Officers and the air ambulance attended, but the victim, aged in his 20's, was confirmed dead at the scene
    A post-mortem is scheduled to take place at Fulham Mortuary on Wednesday, 11 May
    We believe we know the identity of the victim and are in the process of tracing next-of-kin. We await formal identification to take place
    Enquiries are on-going to fully establish the circumstances of the incident but at this stage it is known that the victim was sitting in the drivers seat of a parked car when he was shot by a lone suspect
    We retain an open mind re a motive at this stage
    Detective Inspector Mark Gower of Trident said:
    "This incident happened at a busy time of the day just off the Shepherds Bush Road and there would have been lots of people in the area at the time.  There will be people who have witnessed what has happened and we urge you to come forward if you have any information, Trident understand and support the community and will work closely with witnesses who may have concerns about coming forward." 
    Anyone with information is asked to call the Incident Room on 020 8733 4648; or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
    One man was arrested on 9 May in connection with the inquiry and remains in custody at a west London police station".
    Later on the same evening a teenage boy [B-17yrs] was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody at a west London police station". 
TUES UPDATE: If you want to have a sense of the divisions people feel in this community, that don't lead directly to things like this but perhaps create a climate where they are more likely to happen, read the comments section on this post. We've had someone who works for the local neighbourhood watch and then one young black lad who says the local white folk never talk to them just call the police. Depressing.

The Evening Standard has also published some of the rumours I have been hearing all day today but haven't managed to stand up or corroborate. Since they've gone ahead and published however here's what they say:

  • The victim is thought to have been a case of mistaken identity. It was apparently a gang shooting that got the wrong person.
  • The victim is from south London and originally from Ghana
  • He was shot while seated in the driving seat of the car next to his girlfriend who raised the alarm.
UPDATE WEDS - The two individuals arrested over this case have been released on bail according to the BBC. More to follow.

UPDATE WEDS - The Borough Police Commander has been reading the many comments that have been made in the intense local debate this article has provoked. You can read what she has to say in response to some of your concerns by clicking here.

In the meantime here is a video I posted a month or so ago - events like this remind me of the murder of Jaabe Roberts on Askew Road coming up to a year ago next month. His mother left a poem on this blog in the weeks after his death which described the agony this inflicts on families. The video below captures the senselessness of it all.