Tuesday 20 April 2010

Labour's Borough Manifesto Launch - Lyric Square, Hammersmith

At 2.00pm today I climbed onto a “soap box” in Lyric Square, Hammersmith and launched Labour’s local borough manifesto.

Lyric Square was the perfect venue as I wanted to take our proposals to residents and local businesses in the most direct way possible. Having never engaged in old-fashioned soap box politics before I can confide that I was more than a little nervous. I needn’t have been. People seemed genuinely interested and wanted to ask me about a host of local issues.

My premise was vote for us, or don’t vote for us but know what we stand for and how we want to change Hammersmith and Fulham for the better. I was encouraged by the quite large numbers of people who stopped, joined in asking questions and by the overall positive public response.

We have titled our local manifesto “There’s A Better Way”. The global financial situation and its likely consequences for local government funding have left us making modest spending proposals and we list the cuts we would make to demonstrate how we would pay for them. If elected on May 6th we will put more police onto the streets; have better youth services, cut tax and stealth taxes and much more.

If you would like a copy of There’s A better Way, please email by clicking here.

Sunday 18 April 2010

H&F Conservatives Make Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs For The Third Time

H&F’s Tory run Council has once again made the Rotten Boroughs page of Private Eye magazine – bringing the total number of appearances to a total of three in as many years. This time they are rightly being exposed for planning to knock down 3,300 affordable homes leaving residents with little option but to move out of the borough.

The sheer badness of such social cleansing has overshadowed the very real accusations of gerrymandering being undertaken by H&F Conservatives. Private Eye rightly picks up on this as you can read for yourself by purchasing issue number 1260 from all good newsagents.

Previously, Private Eye exposed H&F Conservatives in 2008 for cutting back the affordable homes being built on a major development. In 2007 they told how our local Conservative councillors gave themselves a secret 18% salary rise and followed that up by providing a £6000 extra pay-off to a favoured Tory councillor.

UPDATE: As the new issue of Private Eye is now out and this article can no longer be purchased, I have made it available here. Please click on it to expand and read.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Benefit Concert To support The Fight Against The Supersized Development On The Goldhawk Industrial Estate

People power is well and truly alive and kicking as demonstrated by the residents’ campaign to stop the over development of the Goldhawk Industrial Estate at the top of Brackenbury Road, Hammersmith.

Readers will recall how the Conservative councillors used their block vote to push the development through against all evidence. They were actually caught out presenting information collected from the developer as objective, independent information. My Labour colleagues and I objected and the Secretary of State halted the planning process by calling it in.

Residents have now hired a planning barrister and are preparing to give evidence at the independent inquiry. You can support their campaign by coming to this concert. Here are details taken from their flyer:

On Friday 14th May 2010 at 7.30 p.m. at Holy Innocents Church, Paddenswick Rd, W6, student stars of the future from the Royal College of Music will showcase their talents at a very special evening.
The programme includes works by Haydn (String Quartet in C Op 76 No 3 ‘Kaiser’), Vaughan Williams (Piano Quintet in C Minor) and Schubert (‘Death and the Maiden’ Quartet No 14 in D Minor, arranged for string orchestra by Mahler).
This unique Benefit Concert is to help local residents raise funds to fight the overdevelopment of Goldhawk Industrial Estate. All profits to the cause.
Tickets may be ordered in advance (£8). Click here to email or phone (056 0254 4057 - local rate), or purchased in person from 197 Goldhawk Road, or bought on the door (£10) – but seating is limited.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

H&F Tories' 16% Salary Hikes. Council's Top Earner Now On £205,000.00

The Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle is reporting that senior officials at Hammersmith and Fulham Council have been awarded up to a 16% rise in their income. The highest paid amongst them now receives £205,000.00 of tax payer funds per year.

Senior officials' pay rises are in the gift of the Conservative Administration. At best these hikes are insensitive to the current financial situation and to the belt tightening being asked of many borough residents and H&F Council's front line staff. You can read all the details in the Chronicle's story by clicking here.

It's not only the case that senior officials have a duty to show restraint in these tough economic times but it is also clear that H&F Council has far too many layers of management and far too many senior managers and directors.  H&F Council is out of sync with a comparably sized successful, modern company. These pay hikes underline why action needs to be taken and how it is easily possible to get more for less by changing the culture, structure, expectations and numbers of senior managers and directors.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Cross Party Parliamentary Committee Slams H&F Conservatives For Lavishing Tax Payers' Funds On "Political Propaganda"

Today, a cross-party select committee of MPs published a report in which they slammed Hammersmith and Fulham’s Conservative run Council for "misleading" the public by producing “political propaganda”.

The Culture Media and Sports Select Committee is chaired by John Whittingdale – a leading Conservative MP. That didn’t stop him or the other MPs on the committee from singling out H&F Council for producing the worst example of politically corrupt propaganda in the country. You can read the full report by clicking here. H&F News also makes the conclusions section as you can read on page 69 and see below:

"5. There is a real problem with local authority newspapers and magazines that needs to be addressed. While it is clear that most of these publications, such as Portsmouth City Council’s Flagship, are legitimate communications from a council to its citizens, this cannot be said for all local authority publications. Publications such as Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council’s H&F News effectively pose as, and compete with, local commercial newspapers and are misleading to the public. It is unacceptable that a local authority can set up a newspaper in direct competition to the local commercial newspaper in this way. Nor should any council publication be a vehicle for political propaganda. (Paragraph 73)

6. The current DCLG guidance in this area is currently being breached. The DCLG should set up a system to monitor this situation closely. However we believe these 6970 guidelines, even if adhered to, do not go far enough. There should be specific, detailed guidance for local authority newspapers and magazines which should state that it be mandatory that all publications of this type make clear, not only on the front page but throughout the publication, that they are a local authority publication. (Paragraph 74)"

Regular reader will know that I have long campaigned against H&F News which is why Labour will sell it off should we win the local council elections on May 6th.

The Conservative Administration ordered council officers to lavish £5million of taxpayers’ money on H&F News, outdoor advertising and political pamphlets that supported and campaigned for the H&F Conservative’s often "misleading" agenda. Senior officers should have known better but instead allowed a culture to develop where this abuse of taxpayers’ funds became the norm and political independence was corrupted.

The Select Committee Report rightly condemns this and adds backing to the many campaigns to put an end to a propaganda machine that would be more at home in North Korea.