Sunday 27 January 2008

£114 Million Investment Programme At Risk As H&F Council Fails Audit Commission Test

The Hammersmith Gazette is reporting that H&F Council has failed the recent Audit Commission inspection of how it manages its council homes. If this is confirmed it will disqualify the Council from receiving much of the £114 million of the original £192 million Decent Homes investment programme that had been set to transform Council housing across the borough – making this the biggest debacle faced by H&F Council in a generation.

The Government requires the Council to prove that it is running a housing service that is, at least, satisfactory before allowing it to invest such large amounts of public money. The Gazette is reporting that the Audit Commission has graded H&F Council’s housing management as “poor” with “uncertain prospects for improvement”. I understand that H&F Council is contesting this judgement and for the sake of the thousands of local people that would be affected by this, I hope they are successful.

Housing management has been cloaked in secrecy since the Conservatives took office two years ago with the scale of their failure only now becoming clear. H&F Council’s housing service was viewed as one of the best in the UK only a few years back. It passed the last two Audit Commission inspections under the last Labour Administration - which had secured the multi-million Decent Homes investment programme in 2004.

Cllr. Lisa Nandy, Labour’s Shadow Lead on Housing and Regeneration, has confirmed that the Opposition will do everything it can to help the appeal. She commented “Some of our residents are now facing a situation where they are stuck in appalling housing conditions, while their neighbours enjoy a decent standard of living. The Opposition will commit our assistance to the Tory Council to help them to appeal their "poor" rating, and win back the money Labour secured to give people decent homes. We urge them to put party politics aside and accept our offer of help, which is based on years of running a well rated housing service”.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Kids Now Roaming Streets As H&F Council Sells Youth Club For £5million

I’ve been contacted by residents of Sands End, Fulham, who tell me that there are now large numbers of young people roaming the area now that H&F Council has sold off the Castle Youth Club.

The Council had promised that it would provide alternative facilities. It hasn’t. Instead it says that the seventy youths that used to go to the Castle Club should now attend a different, less appealing facility a mile and a half away. They’re not doing it and now the people of Sands End and the young people concerned are worse off.

H&F Council isn’t shedding any tears. They managed to sell the youth facility for £5million and at the last Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee a senior official - keen to impress his Conservative Cabinet Member - announced that the Children’s Services Department has also delivered more cuts this year than any other council department… Nice.

Monday 21 January 2008

H&F Council's Latest Profit Making Scheme Set To See 5000 Revellers Pack Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith

I’ve been contacted by large numbers of local residents who are worried, havng discovered that H&F Council has applied to run a wide variety of entertainment events for up to five thousand people in Furnival Gardens. The park runs adjacent to the riverbank in Hammersmith and is surrounded by residential homes.

H&F Council put the application in just before Christmas with residents complaining that there has been little notice to get their objections in.

Amongst other things, H&F Council’s application for the scheme seeks to let them run an unlimited number of events with the following allowances:
  • Sell alcohol to up to 5000 people between 11.00am to 11.00pm

  • Play live music for up to 5000 people between 11.00am to 11.00pm

  • Play recorded music for up to 5000 people between 11.00am to 11.00pm

This proposal is being pushed through by the ever-ambitious Councillor Paul Bristow (Con) who was recently behind similar schemes for Ravenscourt and Bishops Parks. The embattled Cllr. Bristow was forced into a series of humiliating u-turns having found his judgement and competence questioned by councillors of both political parties after he had signed off plans to allow Ravenscourt Park to run entertainment events that included boxing, wrestling and those of an adult/sexual nature.

H&F Council put their application in on the 11th December and asked for all objections to be in by 8th January. However, the Licensing Committee can agree to accept late objections and can also vote to allow residents that write in late, to address their concerns to the Licensing Committee meeting on 28th January.

You can view the licensing papers here and read H&F Council’s licence application here. To email your comments to the licensing section please click here and quote 2007/05731/LAPR. If you want me to make representations on your behalf then please say so and send me a copy of your email to the Licensing Section by clicking here.

Saturday 19 January 2008

McDonald's Withdraw Licence Application

McDonald's, the fast food joint in King Street, Hammersmith, had a last minute change of heart at the Licensing Committee last Tuesday and withdrew their application to stay open until the early hours. Although it is currently understood that they will re-apply soon.

Hammersmith Broadway Ward Councillors Lisa Nandy, Mike Cartwright and myself were there to object to the application on behalf of our constituents - as was Alan Rowden from the Ashcroft Square Tenants’ and Residents' Association. However, it seems that it was issues raised by the police that caused McDonald's to perform this about-turn. I will report how this develops.