Monday 29 June 2015

Volunteers Sought To Help Create A Vision For The Future Of Hammersmith Town Centre

An aeriel view of Hammersmith
I've also believed that politicians are custodians of the area the they have been elected to serve. That is particularly so on a decades long project to redevelop a town centre and that's what's possibly on offer for Hammersmith. So my fellow Labour councillors and I  are setting up a Hammersmith Residents’ Working Party to consider all the issues and work with us and successive administrations on what happens next. Lots of people will want to take part on the Hammersmith Residents' Working Party so there is selection criteria and an application form. If you'd like to apply to take part, please click this link.

For the record, I’d love to see the A4 gone and Hammersmith’s link to the river restored. It would be amazing to build a new, environmentally sustainable town centre, fit for the twenty second century, with thousands of new homes for Londoners, a new park and new businesses bringing jobs and opportunity for all our residents. But is that what​'​s on offer with the initial proposals to sink the Hammersmith Flyover and a part of the A4 road?

On Thursday 20th June, I turned up at the newly refurbished Lyric Theatre and took part in a panel meeting that was about the “flyunder”. It was chaired by John Humphrys, the ever-excellent journalist and BBC presenter.

John Humphrys began by asking the large audience if they were for or against. Only one person raised his hand to oppose. Almost everyone else showed animated approval.

But what is actually being envisaged?

Speaking on his AskBoris radio show in March 2014, The Mayor said “We’re going to tunnelise the flyover, the timescale will be three or four years...”

It’s good to have The Mayor's support but since then not much has happened.

Meanwhile, City Hall tell us that they and the Treasury want this scheme to be completely self-financing which will mean high end office and residential developments.

And there’s something else too, City Hall say TfL “needs” to demolish and rebuild the Hammersmith Broadway bus and tube station and that scheme must be self-financing as well.

As the audience realised how at its worst, residents could suffer up to twenty years of large scale, high-density development in the centre of Hammersmith, the high enthusiasm from the start of the meeting evolved into a cool-headed pragmatism focussed on what would actually be involved and what would we all end up with? That’s where I am too.

Once the Hammersmith Resdents' Working Party has been established, all of us together will consider how and even if we might opt to move forward on any of these schemes.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Thames Water Told: Work With Us Or We'll Fight To Stop You Blighting Our Neighbourhoods

Click here to view
a high resolution map
Many residents have contacted me about their deep anxieties around Thames Water’s plans for a series of sewer construction sites in the borough. Last Monday my fellow Labour councillors and I called Thames Water’s senior managers into Hammersmith Town Hall to make it very clear that we will fight them all the way if they don’t review their plans.

Addison ward Councillor Sue Fennimore asked Thames Water why they hadn’t sought to work with the council to find better sites from the start. Using the examples of the proposed Sulgrave Road and Edward Woods estate sites, Sue told them how the disruption this would cause to people in the immediate neighbourhood did not appear to be taken into account when compared to other sites which would be better for residents. Hammersmith Broadway’s Councillor PJ Murphy made similar points about the proposed Verulam House and Astrop Terrace sites, just off Hammersmith Grove.

Thames Water had sent out a consultation document to residents in May. That identified 12 potential sites for the works needed to build the Counters Creek storm relief sewer.

The council isn’t objecting to the need for these works. I have dealt with enough people suffering the horror of sewage flooding their home to know that we need to stop that ever happening again. But it’s not right that Thames Water should blight other people’s lives to fix this.

Earlier this month, Councillor Hannah Barlow, who represents residents in Avonmore and Brook Green ward, contacted me to say that she believed there was serious flaws in Thames Water’s consultation as they appeared to be giving contradictory messages to her constituents. Councillor Larry Culhane said his North End ward constituents told him Thames Water did not appear to be listening to them and the consultation did not look genuine.

I put all this to Thames Water. I explained that we would take every possible means available to the council to block any proposals that blighted neighbourhoods. I suggested that instead, Thames Water should work with the council’s officials and look at everything again.

Thames Water agreed. I guess it was hard for them not to but they did seek to say why some of their proposed sites were essential. I reiterated the council’s position and hope that we can find a way forward that suits everyone