Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Government to review hospital closures

Jeremy Hunt: surprise announcement
A serious amount of egg is beginning to amass on the faces of our Council as the Secretary of State for Health dramatically, and somewhat unexpectedly, announced that he would call in the decision to close the A&E Departments at Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hopsitals last night.

Jeremy Hunt made the announcement to a somewhat surprised Andy Slaughter MP, who had asked the following question, dripping with anti Tory venom:
"Last week’s decision to close four north-west London A and Es, including Charing Cross and Hammersmith in my constituency, will shortly be on the Secretary of State’s desk, as he predicts. It was referred by Labour Ealing council because Tory Hammersmith and Fulham council supports the closures. Will the Secretary of State refer the matter for independent review? This is the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. It will see a world-class hospital downgraded to 3% of its size"
Mr Slaughter was clearly not expecting the response from this Conservative Minister, or else he would presumably have laid off the politicking. He probably had a condemnatory press release ready to be delivered to media inboxes. But Mr Hunt responded thus:
"I am aware how concerned people are throughout north-west London about the proposals. If the matter is referred to me by Ealing council, I will indeed ask the independent reconfiguration panel for its independent view on the proposals".
Where does this leave the hospitals? Well, with another seat in the last chance saloon, but this time the judge and jury won't be a politicised NHS bureaucracy hellbent on closures but a body that is genuinely independent. So it's a chance for the arguments which are now well rehearsed, well researched and increasingly effectively delivered by the community campaign to be re-put. They will need to be careful, however, to avoid their Achilles heel of appearing to be rabidly anti Tory full stop.

Where does this leave our Council? I'm afraid to say looking increasingly vulnerable to the charge of having sold out our hospitals before they needed to, and now facing the ignominy of a Conservative Government potentially agreeing with the community campaign rather than them, if the independent review finds differently to their deal with the technocrats. Oh, and having a neighbouring Council acting on behalf of H&F residents because they have chosen not to. I think that must be unprecedented.

Not one to overlook that, Andy Slaughter said last night:
"I am pleased that the Secretary of State realises how devasting the closures of Charing Cross Hospital as and the other three A&Es in NW London are for my constituents. This is the biggest single closure programme in the history of the NHS, and it is right that it go for consideration by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. However, residents of Hammersmith needs to know that this is only happening because of the resolve of Ealing Council. Hammersmith and Fulham Council voted to prevent the review that the Secretary of State promised today".

"This shows how short-sighted and spiteful the actions of Hammersmith and Fulham Council were in supporting the closures and trying to pretend to residents that Charing Cross had been “saved”. Today’s announcement shows that they do not even have the backing of their own Tory Secretary of State for their aggressive and misguided treatment of the borough’s hospitals and my constituents".
Fair play to the campaigners and, for that matter, to the Government. I had thought when the news of this was announced with such fanfare by our Council that this was probably the best deal on offer. I now think I was wrong, and this development would seem to underline that. The Save our Hospitals campaign deserve a huge amount of credit for not giving up, and this latest review is a very unexpected indication that all may not, after all, be lost.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

A&E closures start in June

The community led Save our Hospitals campaign reports that the A&E department of central Middlesex hospital will close its doors in June, to be followed presumably by Hammersmith and Charing Cross in short order. This is despite, the campaigners point out, the following statement that was made at the meeting this week which sealed their fate:
"Work will start first on the out of hospital improvements and, only when these improvements have been made, will changes at hospital sites be implemented.
It will take at least three years for these initial improvements to be implemented, and up to two years for changes to hospital services that are reliant on out of hospital improvements. The timetable is subject to how quickly cases for capital can be approved and new buildings completed"
It seems that the lies which have characterised this "consultation" continue even into the implementation of their pre-cooked decisions. And, I have to say, the Council's backing of the plans is beginning to look more disastrous by the day as the details of just how damaging these closures are likely to be emerges.

It is now not even certain that the 60 beds, down from 500 at Charing Cross, will remain. Rather, the building will be knocked down and sold off to .... our old friends the property developers. Now there's a familiar H&F story.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Muse rock the Bush for War Child

Muse played to a venue many times smaller but many times more intimate than they're used to last night, and it was for War Child, a charity I have seen working at first hand, they do amazing work. Here's the full set for your delectation..

Monday, 18 February 2013

Rally condemns Council over hospital cuts

A large rally in Lyric Square on Saturday afternoon heard condemnations of the Council over their "sell out" and "betrayal" of local hospitals. Local community campaign leader Carlo Nero led the charge, holding up a copy of the leaflet that was delivered to every house in the borough recently and which claims to have "saved" Charing Cross hospital. Here's some of what he had to say:

He went on to note that the Council's leaflet mentioned not a word about Hammersmith hospital in this part of the borough, nor did it mention the loss of 440 beds at Charing Cross. They had collaborated and colluded in the closure of one, and reduction of another to the status of a small "cottage hospital", he said. "Shame!" cried the crowd. "Thank-you" said Mr Nero.

Listening to speeches
Andy Slaughter was next up, repeating Mr Nero's charges, and urging people to attend a protest outside the NHS NW London meeting in Westminster on Tuesday morning. These were Tory cuts at national level, being implemented willingly at local level by a Tory council, he said.

The rally, which I would estimate numbered about 250 people, consisted mainly of people doing their shopping and who hapennned to be out and about at the time. The stand with petitions against the cuts did a steady trade of people wishing to sign up to express their opposition.

Andy Slaughter MP
Carlo Nero at the start claimed not to care about which political party people had come from: "this is a non party political campaign!" he declared. Which sat a bit awkwardly with the warm up act that had preceded him, a women's singing group from Lewisham who had attended "in solidarity" and sung a bawdy song about "Tories" and their "public sector cuts". This was much appreciated by the banner carrying Socialist Worker party comrades in the crowd, while the campaign's PR chief tweeted his own thoughts about the Conservatives:

So it's now a pretty anti Government and anti Tory campaign, as well you think it might be since they are the ones now implementing the radical downsizing of one hospital and the outright closure of much of the other. The hospital being effectively closed is sited in the poorest part of our borough where people live on average eight years less.

Carlo Nero quotes from - and derides - Council leaflet
So criticism where it's due - but I do wonder at how a campaign that is now avowedly anti Tory is planning on winning over a Tory Government. Maybe people power will be enough - they certainly pulled in the numbers on Saturday and petition sheets were full.

And that's what will be worrying the local Council more than the fate of hospitals.

The one or two Tory councillors who also attended the rally on Saturday, keeping their heads down, will have realised that this issue is likely to be a big one at the rapidly approaching local elections next year. So expect claim and counter claim to be pumped out at full volume between now and then.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Hospital campaign accuses Council of "betrayal"

Hammersmith Hospital: doomed under Council/NHS plans
H&F Council, who splurged serious cash this week to deliver glossy leaflets to every house in the borough trumpeting what they regard as their success in saving Charing Cross Hospital, stands accused of betraying the community by campaigners working to save both hospitals in the borough.

Here's an open letter from Save our Hospitals campaign chair Carlo Nero:

"Until last week, the resident-led campaign to save Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals thought it was fighting for the same cause as the council. We now feel deeply betrayed by our elected representatives who have meekly given in to NHS bosses at the eleventh hour without any prior consultation with the community whatsoever. 

The fact is Charing Cross would be reduced to 10% of its current size. Instead of a full-service A&E able to take blue-light emergency cases, we will be left with a GP-run ‘urgent care centre’ equipped to treat only minor procedures.

Gone too would be Charing Cross’s intensive care unit and associated specialist acute services. 500 in-patient beds would be reduced to only 60 beds. As in the original proposals all acute services would go from Charing Cross

Yes, we are told the £20-30 million that NHS North West London had originally proposed for new primary care services would be increased to £60-90m. But this is a fraction of what Imperial NHS Trust stands to realise from the sale of the remainder of the site. 

And what is the use of better primary care if, when you fall sick and are desperately in need of specialist treatment, you can’t get access to a consultant or a bed because most of the hospital has been demolished?

Worse, we now hear that Hammersmith Hospital, whose A&E we have also been fighting to save, is not even going to get an Urgent Care Centre. Instead, it will become a referral hospital with no walk-in facility whatsoever. 

We’re not opposed to change on any terms, but even with a few bells and whistles added this is still the same Option A that we have been opposing for months –and it is disingenuous to claim otherwise. 

As we saw in Lewisham there are always alternatives and there is every reason to believe we can obtain a far better deal if we continue to exert pressure together as a community. That is why we are continuing our campaign and urge residents, doctors, patients and health workers to join our rally this Saturday, 12 noon, in Lyric Square". 

Yours faithfully

Carlo Nero
Chair – Save Our Hospitals – Hammersmith and Charing Cross campaign 

The Council is welcome to respond ... and unlike the printers and deliverers of their glossy leaflets I won't charge the taxpayer a penny!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Walkabout forced to close doors in shame

The Walkabout pub, source of much local violence and vomit on our streets, has been forced to shut its doors after local police acted on residents concerns. The pub, reports the Australian Times, will open as normal at 1230 on Sundays but will then operate a "one way door" policy after 1600, only allowing people to leave and not to enter.

Here's a statement from them:
“Due to a recent increase in crime on Sunday evenings, and following conversations with Hammersmith Police, we will not be opening for the next two Sundays.Following this, we will open as usual at midday on a Sunday from February 24th, but will stop new entries at 4pm, ensuring that all genuine sports fans are able to join us for all live Sunday afternoon sport.This only affects Sunday evenings and we will open our usual hours every other day of the week"
We've had a number of classics from the one building that does more to damage the image of Australia and New Zealand than any other, from pissed up punch ups involving rugby players to vicious assaults. The owners seem not to mind so long as they can carry on selling lager, and even applied for a 2am license recently.

Now, it seems, the Walkabout is finally being brought to heel. And for those of us who've had to walk past the leering, swearing patrons the best is yet to come ... for the Australian Times is fizzing with angry drinkers, who feel robbed. Let's hear from some of them.

Here's Divan Gerber speaking on facebook:
“What the hell? It’s a tradition going from the Church to Walkie, just up the damn security as they do with all other events that have security/crime concerns.”
Thanks for that Divan. Here's Michael Mckinley:
“London’s ruining our backpackers tradition"
Sorry about that Michael. But I've saved the best till last. Here's the superbly named Leith McGoodbloke.

Yes ... Leith McGoodbloke! Mr McGoodbloke rages thus:
“This is a sad day… The Walkie has cancer and will be dead soon. I’m glad I lived in London during the Walkie’s prime. May snakebite Sunday and the great times it facilitated Rest in Peace."
Sensitive souls, all. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Charing Cross: campaigners attack "pathetic offer"

House of Commons press conference 
At a crowded press conference in the House of Commons yesterday morning, campaigners from all over London met to announce a “Week of Action” in defence of hospitals across the capital. The meeting, which was covered by ITV London News, heard that after months of campaigning to defend individual hospitals a united effort was needed to defend health services from what campigners said was a concerted attack by a government intent on both cutting money and privatizing services.

Responding to last week’s claim by Hammersmith and Fulham Council that Charing Cross Hospital had been “saved”, chair of Save our Hospitals, Carlo Nero was blunt:
“Charing Cross has NOT been saved – contrary to the council spin that some reports have carried. This is a pathetic offer, which hardly improves on the original NHS proposal. Campaigning and pressure have got us this far, and we need to redouble our efforts, now that we will be fighting without council support. Everyone needs to come to our rally in Lyric Square in Hammersmith this Saturday, where we will show everybody that far from being a setback in our campaign this is a rallying cry which will simply make people all the more determined to Save our Hospitals.”
campaigners at the Commons
Our MP Andy Slaughter, who hosted the press conference, said:
“We have heard today from campaigns all over London how A&Es and other essential services are being closed down, yet NHS Trusts and government maintain that services will continue. Now we see our council has joined them in that deception. We must all campaign together to expose that lie. It is hugely disappointing that unlike Lewisham, our council is not backing the campaign , but with the support of residents, it will continue. Our rally on Saturday next, 16th February, is more important than ever. I appeal to everyone who cares about our health services in Hammersmith and Fulham to come to Lyric Square at noon on Saturday.”
But our Council are having none of it. Responding in part to these attacks Cllr Marcus Ginn, Cabinet Member for Community Services, has this to say:

"Let’s turn our minds back to four weeks ago. 

Charing Cross was effectively going to be closed as a recognisable hospital. Virtually all of its specialities would have gone. 

The site would have been reduced to little more than a beefed up health centre, otherwise laughably known as a ‘local hospital’. NHS North West London told us that what was left in terms of services could have pretty much gone into its existing gymnasium. For ‘local hospital’ read ‘virtual closure’. 

Now, thanks to the community campaign, we have secured £90million for the rebuilding of Charing Cross. It will be four times bigger than originally proposed, it will continue to be a teaching hospital, it will continue to offer cancer services and it will gain a new speciality helping thousands of elderly patients. 

According to NHS NWL, nine out of ten patients who live in the borough will continue to use the hospital.

Yes, you may have to go to other hospitals for specialist services but this is already the case. If you have a heart attack you go, by ambulance, to Hammersmith Hospital. Paediatrics go to Chelsea & Westminster, major trauma go to St.Mary’s, obstetrics go to Chelsea & Westminster. The days of a general hospital doing everything have gone. In their place we now have specialist centres with specialist care. 

As far as A&E is concerned, the majority of non-specialist emergencies will continue to be treated at Charing Cross. 
Most people accept that the NHS has to change given the huge increase in demand for healthcare and the rocketing costs. We knew that the status quo was not an option. As a council we were faced with a choice – do we continue campaigning to keep the hospital as it is, accepting that if we failed (as seemed incredibly likely) the hospital would be relegated to a tiny health centre? Or, do we enter dialogue with the NHS to try and secure the best outcome possible for our residents? We decided to do the latter and have secured a new £90million hospital as a result".
The debate continues...

Friday, 8 February 2013

Charing Cross: Dust settling but questions remain

Last night I was contacted by an official from Hammersmith Council who was excited. Very excited. As well they might be since they were sitting on potentially momentous news which was, as we now know, the saving of Charing Cross Hospital.

Or has it been? Moments after the press release had found its way into meejah inboxes the Council's cry of victory was echoed by the Chronicle and a local blog from the W14 area. It was, they all cried in unison, nothing short of total victory, and people should dance in the streets.

OK I made the dancing bit up.

Yet a bit later that evening some rather awkward questions began to be asked by the residents campaign which has led local action to save both Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals. Those carrying the banners, had rallied and who had marched the streets of the borough, were less than convinced. And less than happy that they'd been kept out of the picture too.

Being kept out of the picture by the Council was perhaps inevitable once the Opposition had abandoned the cross party approach that characterised the early stages of the campaign. But the factual questions being asked were really quite important.

Why, they asked, having made contact with the NHS NW London Business Director themselves, did NHS NW London claim not to know anything about the deal being trumpeted by the Council? Was it really the done deal that the Council had described? And why, they wanted to know, did it appear that despite a £90 million investment into the hospital, was it set to lose 440 beds, going from 500 to 60? How could that be called "saving" the hospital?

Even reporting these questions drew particularly venomous responses from local Tories who happened to be as sad as I was and online at that time in the evening. The questions were part of a Labour Party plot to be disingenuous and all part of nasty Andy Slaughter's machinations, said Cllr Peter Graham. Political debate in this borough has always been robust, but there was real not just synthetic anger on both sides this time.

So what of the beds? And the status of the hospital?

The Evening Standard is reporting that the truth lies somewhere in between, essentially. And speaking to Council officials in the cold light of this morning, that more or less seems to be the case. Here's what a spokesperson told me earlier today:
"Last night at 7pm leading officials from NWL NHS informally met with eight boroughs which form  the 'Joint Overview and Health Scrutiny Committee' . H&F was represented.

NWL NHS told the eight boroughs that they are proposing to its own Board (which will meet on Feb 19th) that £90m will be invested into CX, there are also major concessions on emergency facilities.

The proposal wil be formally published on the 15th of February.

NHS NWL officials also told the eight boroughs that CX will continue to treat between 80-90% of H&F patients who currently use the hospital.

We think this is pretty momentous considering where we were a month ago - ie the hospital was set to be substantially downgraded to little more than a polyclinic.  NHS NWL told the eight boroughs that CX will have specialist status and will retain its teaching status".
I'm inclined to agree. But I pressed him on how sure they could be that a "proposal" would actually translate into actual policy? And what about the 440 beds being lost, was that true?

On the status of the "proposal", he said this:
"Yes, you are right that this is a proposal but it's a proposal made by NHS NWL to its own board - ie it carries a lot of weight".
Hmm. The formal board papers would be published next Friday and the actual decision later on. So why rush the announcement out, before it's actually confirmed and moves beyond proposal status to actual policy? The only answer I can think of is to put one over on the residents campaign, and specifically the Labour Party who have supported it. If they had waited then they could all have welcomed or debated it together - but the politics have been so soured recently I guess they saw this as a chance to claim the credit.

On the loss of beds he spake thus:
"On the issue on what is there and isn't there, we need to see all the details but we have reported on what we do know, ie major concession on existing A&E so it will continue to treat two out of three existing people (ie Lewisham model) - it will retain many specialities and it appears add a new speciality around social care. NHS said last night that nearly nine out of ten people in H&F who currently use the hospital will continue to use it".
And on the big picture he gave me a thoughtful response which does make a lot of sense to me, and so I share them with you to give you a sense of the Council's reasoning:
"Have we got everything? Probably not. Will it be identical to what is there now? No. It may be smaller with focused specialist services but everyone concedes that the NHS had to change. What we are saying is that the community has secured the future of the hospital and that is quite some achievement given where we were a month ago. The Council thinks that accepting no change would have resulted in the worst possible outcome, ie the orginal 'Plan A' to substantially reduce the footprint to something like 4,000 sq metres. The new recommendation is something like 4 times bigger so it would really be a local hospital for local people treating nine out of ten people who currently go there."
So the Standard seems to have called it just about right - somewhere in between what the Council announced and what residents campaigning feared.  I won't make myself popular with the campaign when I say on balance I can see where the Council are coming from in striking a deal, compared to the alternatives. I think they've probably done the right thing. And, whatever the political machinations around the announcement might have been, that's the thing that matters most to residents.

It doesn't, of course, answer the fact that Hammersmith Hospital in our part of the borough, is now toast. We live on average eight years less than our Fulham dwelling counterparts, and this news does little or nothing to address that. And would you want to be the heart attack patient relying on an ambulance driver being able to squeeze down the Fulham Palace Road? Perhaps that's a debate that all sides can come together to address now. 

Labour win safe seat shocka!

Labour have retained the Wormholt &White City Ward with an epic landslide not uncommon in these parts. The results of the ballot, in which a woefully low 24.7% of voters took part, were:
  • Jeffrey BOATENG 75 
  • Andrew Timothy DONALD British National Party 45 
  • Andrew ELSTON UK Independence Party (UKIP) 122
  • Jamie McKITTRICK Conservative Party 251 
  • Max SCHMID The Labour Party Candidate 1419 
  • Chris WHITTAKER Liberal Democrats 209

Thursday, 7 February 2013

£90m ‘cash injection’ saves Charing Cross Hospital

Charing Cross Hospital: Saved
Charing Cross Hospital has been saved from virtual closure and is set for a £90million cash injection after a concerted campaign by Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council and local residents forced a rethink.

NHS North West London (NHS NWL) will formally announce its plans for the future configuration of hospitals and A&E services in the area on Tuesday February 19 but ahead of that, the council has revealed that it has secured a major U-turn on proposals that would have seen the effective closure of Charing Cross Hospital.

Hammersmith Hospital in our part of the borough, however, is not mentioned once in the Council's euphoric press release announcing the breakthrough. Which it undoubtedly is for the people of Fulham, but it does rather appear as if the north of the borough - where life expectancy is up to eight years shorter - has lost out again.

Tonight (February 7) NHS NWL confirmed to North West London's Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee that the previous proposal to designate Charing Cross a 'local hospital' has been ditched in favour of it being designated as a 'Specialist Health and Social Care' hospital with cancer and teaching specialisms retained.

Councillor Marcus Ginn, Cabinet Member for health and social care at H&F Council said:
"The massive opposition from local people to the original proposals has forced NHS managers to rethink their plans."
"The £90million cash injection now proposed by the NHS would secure the hospital's future for generations to come and the top priority was always to save Charing Cross and the services so many of our residents rely on.

"In return, we have agreed to halt our legal challenge to the NHS proposals as all but the most complex emergencies will continue to be treated at Charing Cross. We believe that we have secured the best possible deal for our residents."
Under the original plans to demote Charing Cross to a 'local hospital' the footprint would have been reduced to 4,300 square metres. The new recommendation would mean that the newly rebuilt hospital is four times larger.

Charing Cross will now also become a specialist centre for community services which means that the many thousands of older and chronically ill patients, who need regular visits to hospital, will have less far to travel. It will mean local people will be better supported to live independently at home and will relieve some of the pressure on already over-stretched GP practices that downgrading Charing Cross would have caused.

This is a major victory for our Council - and I congratulate them. They genuinely seem to have pulled off something that appeared extremely unlikely and have done so just as the political unity that was a feature of the local opposition to the cuts had fractured. People from the north of the borough use the services there too so I am not being churlish in raising the white elephant in the room - which is Hammersmith Hospital.

Cllr Ginn in his quote tonight rather lets the cat out of the bag when he says quite openly: "the top priority was always to save Charing Cross". 

I set out here back in June how the Council's campaign always gave me the impression of being more concerned with the fate of Charing Cross rather than Hammersmith Hospital, and I get the impression from talking to officials there this evening that they regard their campaign as essentially over. What remains to be seen is what the residents campaign now decide to do.

Stick, or twist?

2255 UPDATE - Wow. I think there may be a problem. I have just seen an exchange between the office of Andy Slaughter MP and the Business Director of NHS NW London,Lynne Spencer. As far as they are concerned, and I quote: "nothing has been decided." The decision, according to them, "has not been made".
A full answer will be forthcoming tomorrow, I understand. 

0920 FRIDAY UPDATE - It gets curiouser. The residents campaign to save both hospitals is this morning smelling a very large rat. Not only does NHS NW London apparently say there is no deal, but the one being trumpeted by the Council, according to the campaigners  involves cutting the 500 beds currently there to just 60. They allege the Council is putting spin before the facts, and vow not to be hoodwinked. Unraveling..

Meanwhile, the local Council-funded Chronicle are reporting that the campaign was "led by the Council", which ignores the fact that it wasn't, and simply announces that the hospital is "saved". No questions asked. Simples. Naffink to see 'ere Guv. Move along now.

By contrast even Conservative MP Greg Hands, who campaigned for Charing Cross to be closed in order to save neighbouring Chelsea & Westminster hospital, is less sure:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Future of TVC unveiled

Property developer Stanhope and the BBC have today launched their vision and outline proposals to open up and transform Television Centre into a mixed use development including office and studio space for the BBC, complementary entertainment and leisure facilities, public open space, offices, housing and a hotel.

For the first time, Television Centre will be opened up to the public and the famous forecourt remodelled and enlivened by new retail, leisure and entertainment uses and access through the site providing connectivity with the local area, including Hammersmith Park. The BBC will remain at Television Centre operating studios and BBC Worldwide will consolidate their new home at Television Centre, following refurbishment. The remaining offices are aimed at occupiers in the creative sector providing new employment opportunities and there will be a variety of public uses, including a cinema, health club, restaurants and cafes, which will benefit the local community. The much loved listed buildings at Television Centre will be retained.

David Camp, chief executive of Stanhope Plc, said:
“Stanhope is working in partnership with the BBC to deliver a publicly accessible mixed use remodelling of these iconic buildings and redevelopment of the adjoining land. The BBC will continue to have a significant presence at Television Centre and we will be bringing new life into the site with new public routes, spaces and uses. We will be introducing a vibrant and exciting mix of new retail, leisure, office and residential uses whilst keeping and enhancing the famous original BBC buildings and retaining key operational BBC studio and office facilities on site. Television Centre will be a great place to live, work and visit.”
Paul Monaghan, Director of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, said:
“We are delighted to be working with Stanhope and the BBC on the redevelopment of the historic Television Centre in West London. This unique opportunity will see the creation of a masterplan which will open up this much loved site, and the iconic buildings set within it, to the public for the first time and reconnect it with the surrounding neighbourhoods. We look forward to developing the exciting proposals as the project moves through planning and onto site.” 
‘Studios 1-3’ will be refitted as ‘state of the art’ studio space and will continue to be operated by BBC Studios and Post Production (S&PP), together with opening up the site, and the audience experience will be greatly enhanced

BBC Worldwide’s new headquarters will be housed in a refurbishment of the ‘Stage 6’ building fronting Wood Lane, with the internal works designed by HOK

Click on the pic for a detailed overview of the site
The listed buildings and the remodelled forecourt, frontage and elevation of Television Centre from Wood Lane will be retained

The ‘inner ring’ of Television Centre will be refurbished to provide space for a hotel and residential apartments

The current ‘Stage 4 and 5’ buildings will also be refurbished to provide speculative office space, targeted at being a new media or creative hub for businesses in the area.

The ‘Drama Block’, ‘Restaurant Block’ and Multi Storey Car Park on Wood Lane will be replaced with new residential buildings and townhouses and the ‘East Tower’ will be replaced with a more slender and appropriately positioned residential building

A ‘Village Green’ of town houses for families with private rear gardens will be created to the south of the site
There will be approximately 1,000 new residential units and townhouses in total, including affordable housing and car parking, and all the housing will benefit from new open spaces and courtyards in the development as well as access to Hammersmith Park

New built residences will have the use of terraces at ground floor levels and balconies, winter gardens or roof gardens at upper levels

RIBA award winning practice Allford Hall Monaghan Morris are Stanhope’s lead architects on the project, supported by Macreanor Lavington and Duggan Morris

The scheme will aim to achieve an ‘excellent’ rating and Code for Sustainable Homes ‘level 4’ and follow sustainability best practice

The Television Centre site is 14 acres and was the former site of the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition. It officially opened in June 1960 and was designed by the architects Norman and Dawbarn and appears to be like a question mark in shape. The central ‘ inner ring’ of the building and the front flank of Studio 1 are Grade II listed as special interest and these listed elements of Television Centre will be retained and enhanced, including the instantly recognisable exterior view. The site has been expanded over the last 60 years and there are currently 1.6m sq ft of existing buildings dating from the 1950s-1990s, and operates as one building from a services point of view. The site is designated for employment, media/creative and residential uses in the GLA’s White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework which also envisaged the opening up of the site. The uses identified for Television Centre will complement the other regeneration sites in the White City Area.

Stanhope and the BBC will be holding a public exhibition on the outline plans at:

Reception BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, W12
  • 5 February 2013 14.00 – 20.00 
  • 6 February 2013 10.00 – 20.00 
Wood Lane Estate Community Centre, White City Close, W12
  • 7 February 2013 16.00 – 20.00 
White City Community Centre, India Road, W12
  • 9 February 2013 10.00 – 16.00

Monday, 4 February 2013

Boris Bikes in the Bush ... or not

In the second of the articles from the New Crew running the blog, here is an article on Boris Bikes from Bart Govaert...

Our council is spending 2 million of our very own pounds to bring Boris Bikes to our borough, but Shepherds Bush is largely forgotten.

Boris Bikes are great. They are a easy way of getting around. They are a bit heavy, but they are also quite solid. It is very liberating to be able to pick up a bike at one location and drop it off at another one, without having to worry about locks or punctures.

Cyclists are not universally popular, and there are definitely a good number of idiots amongst them, but if all cyclists would start driving cars, our streets would be totally clogged up.

All in all - a nice addition to the Hammersmith and Fulham landscape.

However, if you look carefully at the map of the extension you will notice something a bit odd.

Apart from the Green and Westfield, Shepherds Bush is almost completely forgotten. It is almost as if one of the planners cut it neatly out with her scissors. (The map is a bit hard to read, this one is much more detailed - essentially the boundaries are at Shepherds Bush Road and Glenthorne Road - look how nicely Fulham and West Kensington are going to be covered, and we are putting 3 stations in the Holland Park bit if W12)

It is really a shame. To the best of my knowledge, all inhabitants of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are equal, but I guess some might be just a little bit more equal.

The Hammersmith and Fulham press office have explained that TFL is in charge of selecting the sites, following a consultation. The press office also added that the money was raised via “Section 106” (meaning developers paid for it). That may be so, but any money that the council spends or allocates to a project is our money. The notes of the relevant cabinet meeting do not mention the fact that a big chunk of our borough is not covered.

Which is a real shame.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Hospital unity crumbles over by-election

Bitter recriminations have been traded in recent days between former allies who came together across party lines to defend this borough’s hospitals. First Labour put out leaflets in the by-election taking place in Wormholt & White City backing their candidate and saying he would fight what they claimed were “Tory” cuts – both to hospitals and our police station.

This was then repeated by a Labour motion at last week’s Council meeting.

Responding to the motion, which of course was defeated by the Council’s large Conservative majority, Cllr Peter Graham had this to say:
"Tonight, we have seen exactly what happens when you try to work with the Opposition: they throw it back in your face".
He recalled this rally when he said:

"For the sake of my hospital, I climbed onto a platform bedecked in GMB flags; in front of a hundred Socialist Worker placards; in the company of Labour MPs, Christine Blower and the Middle Eastern Workers’ Solidarity Network. There they all were, arrayed with Andrew Slaughter to the left of the stage, while, as solitary representatives on the right, it was just me... and Cllr Cowan".
adding of Labour:
"their stance is the worst, shameless, knee-jerk, intellectually bankrupt, immature, hypocritical, self-indulgent examples of posturing I can recall".
It’s hard to see the two tribes coming together again after that.

Why is this important? Because it is exactly what those making the decisions over which hospitals to cut want to happen. A quick glance over to Lewisham shows that when decision makers are confronted by united opposition they start to back down, whereas our own politicians have now decided to adopt the ferrets-in-sack approach instead.

It’s difficult to see what strategy lies behind H&F Labour’s decision to break ranks and attack, apart from positioning. They chose to do so over a by-election that they are already guaranteed to win, so it’s not as if their hands were forced. Those in the red corner reading this will angrily reply that the cuts are indeed a result of Government policy and they are simply calling a spade a spade.

Which is fine, except for the fact that with a unified local political opposition to them we all stood a better chance of saving the hospitals, and the lives that depend on them. That’s no longer possible, and you have to wonder at the tactical wisdom of throwing that unity away.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Future TVC plans to be unveiled ... near you

BBC TV Centre: At the centre of a new Bush!
A public exhibition on the ideas and plans for Television Centre will be held in the days ahead -  I'm told they are exciting, and set to change the face of the Bush! See them at:

Reception BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, W12
  • 5 February 2013 14.00 – 20.00 
  • 6 February 2013 10.00 – 20.00 
Wood Lane Estate Community Centre, White City Close, W12
  • 7 February 2013 16.00 – 20.00 
White City Community Centre, India Road, W12
  • 9 February 2013 10.00 – 16.00
I'll have more details soon...

Shepherds Bush: Postcode of Culture 2013

In the first of the articles from the New Crew running the blog, here is an introduction from Nathalie Bristow...

We put up with a lot living in Shepherds Bush. We are judged, mocked, jeered at, driven straight through and generally overlooked by many as a postcode in our own right. Maybe people are right to simply use us a means to get to Ealing or Notting Hill or the A40? Perhaps all we are is a parking lot for Westfield?

I am here to say. No! Shepherds Bush DOES have an identity and I put it to you, members of the bloggersphere, that it is as a Cultural Centre.

Just think about it… not only have we got the obvious contenders like 02 Shepherds Bush Empire which draws in thousands a year into our patch but look harder and you can hear the hum of a thriving arts community. Bush Theatre, West London Dance Academy, Bush Hall, Ginglink, Bush Studios, Kite Studios, and writers and artists and musicians galore. I am on a mission to gather us altogether and make W12 a cultural destination.
Bush Theatre
 Bush Theatre heads up my list as it is not only held up as the corner-stone of the W12 arts community (SEVERAL estate agent sites say so so it must be true) but it is also where I work. So it is from here that I will begin my quest to bring you all the best the Bush Arts Scene (yes, it will soon warrant capitals. You saw it here first) can offer.

I will eek them out and shout about them. So, all you artists and cultured folk email me at and I will report back here. Welcome to Bush – Postcode of Culture 2013 (or something which sound more better n’ catchy. Innit)