Wednesday 17 October 2012

H&F Conservatives Side With Property Speculator And OK CPO Powers To Demolish Shepherds Bush Market

Conservatives agreed to CPO Cooke's and
the surrounding shops so their
property speculator colleagues
can go ahead with the demolitions
On Monday night, Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Conservative Administration met to vote through compulsory purchase orders (CPO) for the shops on the Goldhawk Road. They did this against the wishes of the small retailers who have long run those businesses  - many fearing that this will finish them off.

In agreeing the CPOs the cabinet also chose to ignore a ruling from the High Court that their Administration had acted unlawfully and they strengthened the negotiating position of the large property speculator who is currently discussing terms with the small retailers for the demolition of their premises.

I asked the Conservative cabinet members why they had placed hundreds of thousand of pounds of tax payers’ money, their officials’ time and other resources at the disposal of their chosen property speculator. They explained they believed it was necessary to push this deal through.

Cllr. Mark Loveday. Enjoyed a £12,000.00 tax
payer funded jaunt to the French Riviera
where he hawked the Borough's
"Contentious development sites."
Councillors Andrew Jones (Lab) and PJ Murphy (Lab) urged the Conservatives to refrain from allowing the use of CPO powers and asked about details of the scheme that was missing from the reports and about the vague assurances being offered to the small retailers. Officers and Conservative councillors were unable to answer many of their questions. At this point, Cllr. Mark Loveday (Con) made a somewhat emotional interjection involving shouting personal insults at my colleagues. In part this was his usual technique to try and stop a line of questioning. But, Cllr. Mark Loveday had been responsible for many of the unhappy deals the Conservative administration has made with big property speculators across the Borough. Regular readers will recall how he enjoyed a £12,000.00 tax payer funded jaunt to the French Riviera where he met many property speculators while hawking the Borough’s “contentious development sites.” He was also exposed as having misled the public about dealings with the same property speculator on another site. So Loveday’s ill-considered personal defensiveness is perhaps understandable.

What is unforgivable is that despite the warm words offered by the Conservatives they are undermining the small businesses on that site and doing so during George Osborne’s double dip recession. It’s likely the decision they made on Monday night will force many to close. Like many residents before them the retailers are asking why H&F’s Conservative run Council is building relationships with large property speculators that are too close for comfort and detrimental to their interests? You can read more about the background to this deal on the Shepherds Bush Blog.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

H&F Conservatives’ £2m Gift Of Public Cash To Barclays Bank/Boris Scheme Stinks

Bungling H&F Conservatives have handed over £2m of public
money for their mate Boris' Barclay's bikes scheme
“Have they lost their minds?” one local resident asked me on hearing that Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives have agreed to hand over a staggering £2 million of council funds for the Barclay’s Bank/Boris Bike Scheme.

Why they are giving away any public money to anything to do with the recently discredited Barclays Bank is hard to fathom. But this looks like a grubby favour done to help their close friend Boris Johnson - the Mayor of London.

You also have to ask yourself what type of incompetent, spendthrift, public-money-squandering bozo negotiated such a deal that it can only go ahead if a small Borough like Hammersmith and Fulham hands over £2m of extremely scarce resources?

Hammersmith and Fulham’s Conservative Administration says that the residents shouldn’t be too bothered because the council received this £2m as statutory planning gain from a property developer. But, that conveniently ignores all the lost opportunities of other important things this money could have been used for such as improving local infrastructure, investing in critical services or sorting out the Borough’s finances.

This deal stinks. It appears to be done for no other reason then to help out a political mate. Why weren’t Barclays Bank asked to pay? As much as I think it would be good to have a scheme such as this in our Borough, I do not think it is worth £2 million and neither do any of the residents who have contacted me about this.