Monday 31 December 2007

Happy New Year!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for the new year.

I'd particularly like to thank all of those that have worked with us on the variety of campaigns that defined a proportion of life for many local residents during 2007. I appreciate the time and energy that people gave and I am grateful for their advice and counsel.

I hope everyone has a happy, peaceful and fulfilling 2008... Cheers!

Unhappy New Year For Homeless As H&F Council Deliver Further Blow By Ending Local Homeless Hostels

H&F Council are shutting down twelve homeless hostels and turning them into private housing worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The controversial decisions are going before the Planning Applications Committee which is chaired by Ravenscourt Park Councillor Lucy Ivimy (Con).

This comes off the back of an earlier decision to deny the BBC and Crisis the right to run a Christmas shelter in the borough which was reported here and by the Evening Standard in this article here.

Earlier this year the council also slashed funding to the Broadway project for single homeless people in Shepherds Bush. Then in September, it put pressure on an independent charity, the Barka Foundation, not to give money to the Upper Room - based at St Saviour's church in Wendell Park - which provides hot meals and supports homeless people back into employment.

Duncan Shrubsole, the director of policy and research at Crisis told the Evening Standard, "Of particular concern is that when we wrote to the council leaders they were not even prepared to meet us to discuss their concerns. From what other organisations tell us, this appears to be characteristic of their approach to charities working with poor and vulnerable people in Hammersmith and Fulham."

I hope that we can persuade H&F Conservatives that the best means of addressing homelessness is to support people to get out of that situation. Not to end facilities and hope they go away. We will continue to press them on this.

Friday 21 December 2007

H&F Council Stops Mobile Library Service Today

Today is the last day residents will be able to use H&F Council’s Mobile Library Service. It’s been abolished.

The controversial decision will largely affect local children and the elderly who are the main customers of the service. H&F Council says that it made the decision to save £120,000 out of its £180million total budget.

I don’t understand why no work was undertaken to get a private sector sponsor or partner. DVD and book companies are always looking for new ways to reach customers – especially in light of the ever-increasing levels of competition from Internet retailers.

Needless to say, the easiest way to save the cash is to just cut the service, put out propaganda and hope everyone forgets by the next elections in 2010 - which is what the Conservatives are doing across nearly all of the £34million of cuts they're pushing through in Hammersmith and Fulham.

For more details you can read Our Fulham who also report on the story here.

Wednesday 19 December 2007

McDonald's Applies For 4.00am Licence For Hammersmith Outlet

I have just discovered that McDonald's in King Street, Hammersmith have applied for a licence that would allow them to stay open until midnight most evenings and 4.00am on Thursday and Friday nights.

You can view the application by clicking here. If you wish to make a comment on this application or to object, please click here and write the reference Licensing Application 2007/05358/LAPR in the subject section. Please send your objections in by Friday, 21st December.

If you want me, Mike Cartwright or Lisa Nandy - my fellow Hammersmith Broadway ward councillors - to address the Licensing Committee on your behalf, then the legislation requires that you mention that you'd like us to do this when you send in your comments. Please put all three of our names in your correspondence.

Shepherds Bush Tube Station To Close For Eight Months – Andy Slaughter MP Calls For Rethink

Last Friday, Transport For London (TfL) announced that they propose to close Shepherds Bush Tube Station in just over one month’s time. The Station is expected to remain closed until October 2008, causing misery to thousands of local residents and commuters.

Shepherds Bush Tube Station is one of the busiest in west London and TfL say they need to close it to allow for a new ticket hall and escalators to be fitted. However, Andy Slaughter (Lab), the local MP, says that there are better alternatives to closure and he has asked TfL and H&F Council to come up with a plan that does not involve shutting down the facility.

Andy said “TfL admitted to me that they have cooked up this scheme with developers Westfield because they can get all the planned works done in one go and can use Westfield contractors to replace the escalators. But this is clearly a hasty decision and I think this has more to do with getting the station open in time for Westfield's launch next November rather than the convenience of my constituents. Thousands of local residents who use the station every day have no convenient alternative route. The nearest tube stations on the central line are fifteen minutes walk away and have limited capacity.”

“Closing such a major station when there is no obvious alternative in the vicinity is unprecedented. I want to see a different approach. Even if the works take longer, this would be preferable to no central line station at Shepherds Bush for eight months."

Westfield is H&F Council’s partner developing the Shepherds Bush area. If you are upset about this closure then please email a letter of objection to Andy Slaughter MP by clicking here. Andy will use your objection to petition TfL and H&F Council to change the proposal.

Tuesday 18 December 2007

H&F Conservatives Tell BBC and Homeless Charity “There’s No Room At The Inn” For Christmas Night Shelter

Scrooge’s Christmas spirit was the only one on offer at H&F Council when the BBC and Crisis, the homeless charity, wanted to open a temporary night shelter in BBC premises over the Christmas period. H&F Conservatives vetoed the plans, explaining that they believed the homeless were a “law and order issue”.

Despite being asked to think again by Cllr. Lisa Nandy, Labour’s Shadow Housing Lead, H&F Conservatives stuck to their guns denying dozens of people a warm, safe place to sleep and enjoy a hot meal over the festive period.

Lisa Nandy told me “H&F Council actually refused to even to meet Crisis to discuss their plan sticking to the line that homelessness is a “public order not a housing issue”. It would not have cost them anything. This is just old-fashioned prejudice against a very vulnerable group of people. H&F Council still has time to change their minds. I hope they do".

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Shock News As Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives Parade Latest Members

Residents will be alarmed to discover that both Emperor Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith and Darth Vader, his long time apprentice, have joined the H&F Conservative Party (see pic).

We increasingly live in a climate where high profile celebrity endorsements can pay huge political dividends and so H&F Conservatives will have been initially delighted to see the two Sith Lords posing with Cllr. Paul Bristow (Con), the newly promoted Cabinet Member for Residents Services. However, many will question the wisdom of our local Tories in seeking the backing of the two most evil men in the universe.

We are awaiting confirmation as to whether the Sith Emperor - who is openly committed to the triumph of the dark side - will play any role in helping the Conservatives develop H&F Council policy over the coming years.