Tuesday, 31 March 2009

I predict a G20 riot?

police-at-bankNo. I predict a damp squib.

Journalists have been having repeated orgasmic experiences for the past week climaxing in today's outpourings of lurid headlines predicting 'London Lockdown' and other dire doom laden scenarios.

What do these over-excited journalists, who psychologists would believe are over compensating for something they may not be getting enough of at home, think that a bunch of swampy like figures with bad hair styles and even worse body odour issues are going to do in the world's most heavily policed square miles, tomorrow?

I remember the last time bankers were warned to dress down amid similar predictions - nothing happenned except a couple of niversity drop outs were arrested for breaking and entry.

I predict no more than 15 arrests and lots of pictures of that weird professor guy from east London university being carried off by men in blue suits, who will surely hand him over to those nice men in white suits before long. I just hope the football is more entertaining.

UPDATE: 24 arrests so far and no pictures of strange professor. Three broken windows. 5,000 protestors. Was it really worth all the doom-laden reporting? I think not.

UPDATE: Wednesday 8th April - the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson at the hands of what was clearly an out of control riot policeman wearing a balaclava has put a completely different complexion on all this of course. We sometimes forget that despite the fact that they are in a uniform they are still young men just as capable of losing it as anyone else. And they should be held just as responsible for that.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Lucky to be in London

The South BankI caught this shot on a friday night trip out to the pub in London Bridge. When I think of the conflict zones I go to for work and just generally the other more crappy places I have lived in England, we are so lucky to live here.

Working 9 -5, the politicans way

Watch this video of Eric Pickles MP on Question Time for those of you who are not anoraks like me with better things to do than to watch the late night programme.

MPs from all sides seem to be at it.

I leave my house in the Bush most days at 6am and return from work in the late evening. Part of that is choice and part of it is because I work hard.

But watch this contemptible Member of Parliament describe how he claims tens of thousands of our pounds to do the same with two houses.

One of the reasons I leave so early is to go to the gym first thing. I wonder if Mr Pickles has given any thought to doing the same.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

G20 riots threaten Westfield & Shepherds Bush

loony2The G20 rioters may apparently be targetting Westfield shopping centre as part of their plans to target London on wednesday 1st April.

To be honest their being led by a mad fruitcake of a professor from a mickey mouse 'university' means I don't think we need worry too much.

Go to work as normal and don't worry about the loonies.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Police in mourning?

Shepherd's Bush Police StationThe flag has flown at half mast for the best part of this week at Shepherd's Bush police station, which is an ominous sign. I haven't come across any local reports that would explain this, such as the death of a colleague. I hope very much that this is not the case and that the flag has been lowered in memory of someone who has died from other more normal causes.

I once had the dubious priviledge of watching a drugs bust on Uxbridge Road early one morning, at about 6 am. Some police in full riot gear were charging out of the station and across into a side road. Then I heard two loud explosions and by the time I'd reached that street I saw them all rushing headlong into the house. An officer in charge saw me watching and explained that the noises had been stun grenades. They needed them because they were not sure what would be on the other side of the door. He didnt say that it was a drugs bust but it was fairly obvious that they were raising the house for that reason.

What struck me then, and should strike everyone every time they see them in action in London, is how desperately lucky we all are to have them. I couldn't do the job and I bet you couldn't either. If one of them has suffered tragically, which might account for the flag being at half mast, I can only hope that we all reflect on that the next time we jump to criticise them for something. They get enough crap in Shepherd's Bush as it is.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Bob Crow's RMT go on strike again

bob-crowIts spring, the flowers are out, the sun is is getting warmer which must mean .. yes thats right Bob Crow's RMT are gearing up as they usually do at this time of year for another go at hiking their wages at taxpayers expense.

This year, as we see thousands of people laid off as part of the recession and things likely to get worse before they get better, is no exception. As far as Bob Crow and the RMT are concerned we're all still fair game.

The ballot they have announced is a foregone conclusion, although on other blogs it is noticeable that a few RMT members have already themselves written in to say they personally don't support it. One member here expressing her sadness at seeing commuters who have lost their jobs passing through the gates with their boxes, from cleared desks.

Bob Crow is a communist however and counts Arthur Scargill among his mentors. So no such qualms from him. He will press on regardless, and we will all be held to ransom once again, until Transport for London cave in. Once again.

Monday, 23 March 2009

"Local" MP Greg Hands launches expenses complaint

neil-hamilton-mp1Hammersmith and Fulham MP Greg Hands has today submitted a complaint about Employment Minister Tony McNulty’s expenses that have been widely reported over the weekend.


Personally I don’t know which is more newsworthy about this for us, either that Greg Hands is referred to as the “MP for Hammersmith and Fulham” even though he does not represent most of the borough, Andy Slaughter does. Or that Mr Hands belongs to the party which gave us Neil Hamilton, Cash-for-questions and sleaze! 


On balance I think I’m more annoyed at him being referred to as the MP for Hammersmith and Fulham. He isn’t.



Saturday, 21 March 2009

Cyclist hit on Uxbridge Road

accident-askew-roadA woman cyclist was trapped under a heavy truck on the junction of Uxbridge and Askew Roads on Friday morning. She is confirmed to have been suffering from comparatively light injuries, including a broken ankle.

This is a very different version of events from those that were widely circulating on that junction among the gathered crowds even minutes after the crash. Most reports were that the woman had lost her legs and was in a very critical condition indeed.

What that shows you is two things. First, the power of rumour which thrives in a situation of panic and heightened emotion. Secondly however, the fact that this was a very believable account, and was the one I received when I came in from work, shows that that sort of scenario is entirely believable. The junction of Uxbridge and Askew Roads is a classic example of the sort of place you hear reported periodically as a place where "an accident is waiting to happen".

In fact I am genuinely amazed one has not yet happenned, at least in the last few years, which has claimed one or more lives. The junction is a disaster with two lanes of traffic trying to fit into a space that is barely able to hold one lane in the case of the Uxbridge Road because of the bus lane, and the predictable long delays to get around the corner if you are turning from one road into another.

I have personally seen - and even been on board - double decker buses such as the 260 that decide to take matters in their own hands, drive on the wrong side of the road and get round the corner to save the inevitable 15-20 minute wait which is not unknown.

And our own battle to save our street, which thankfully we won in the teeth of opposition from Transport for London, was all about trying to save our road from being the inevitable rat run it would have become if traffic calming measures had been torn down to get their unwanted bus route through. It wasnt the unwanted bus we were that bothered about, it was all the other traffic that would use our street to avoid the nightmare junction 100 metres up the Old Oak Road.

This has to be a priority to sort out for any responsible local authority. Given the attitudes we experienced over the bus from TfL they are unlikly to want to help unless they are forced to. So we will be asking, time and again from now until it happens, for this disaster junction to change. Starting with the lights that only let 3 cars turn per go, which leads to the sort of driving I have described and sadly I would think contributed to this unfortunate woman's accident. I wish her well. She must be staring at a hospital ceiling at the moment coming to terms with how close to death she just came.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Why are our councillors in Cannes?

cannesVarious news outlets have reported that many of our senior councillors have spent the last few days, at our expense, in luxury hotels in the French Riviera destination of Cannes. Famous for its film festivals, yaughts and stars the town is less well known for being the host of an international property conference which takes place annually, called MIPIM

It is apparently a global gathering and this year a delegation was led from London by Boris Johnson, which our councillors were part of. They have been accused of going there at great public expense simply to sell off more of our estates to developers, re-housing the unfortunate tenants elsewhere. The councillors defend this by saying thats not the case at all, they simply want to attract inward investment into the Borough. Personally I have no problem with councillors going to the end of the earth if they need to if its going to lead to real inward investment in our Borough, but the fact that their defence is so weak does rather suggest that their accusers have got a point.

They have not categorically denied that further estates in Hammersmith and Fulham will be sold off to developers. Would they like to take this opportunity to do so?

Meanwhile, back in the 3% council tax cut utopia that is Hammersmith and Fulham, here is yet more evidence of what those cut backs in public services actually look like

Uxbridge Road W12

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

QPR: too little, too late

QPR did something unusual last night, they won. The first in ten games it still comes too late for anything like a serious push for the play off places. I'm reminded of the criticism Arsenal used to get when Arsene Wenger used to constantly talk about "building" his new young side when all his fans wanted was for them to win something.

So this first full season, which for the fans started with the controversy over inflated ticket prices and then an embarassing u-turn by the self same owners has ended with a damp squib.

If next season is anything less than automatic promotion I would have to start thinking that our new owners might just get a bit bored with their new toy and think about giving it to someone else. The difference, of course, will be what happens in transfers in the intervening months.

Time will tell.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Fly-Tip Bush


More evidence of the effectiveness of H&F Council's approach to stamping out fly tipping in the Borough, from Sawley Road W12

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Circle Line Thriller

circle-line-490x230With the very welcome news that the Hammersmith and Shitty line will now become part of the Circle Line, which we are reliably informed will double the service, we thought the time was ripe to have a little dance to celebrate.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Fly-tip central

flytipRegular readers will recall I recently compared the amount of money H&F Council spends on advertising its tax cuts to the sort of sights you now see very regularly on our streets, which are now cleaned less.

Aside from just general mess I have noticed a real increase in fly tipping now as well. There is one on Askew Road at the moment and another on Sawley Road W12. I even saw what seemed to be one on Shepherds Bush Green last week by the tennis courts on sunday morning.

Is this what cutting the budget by £1 million means?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

MPs privacy vote

armed-police-guardLife in the public eye is something most of us never have to contend with, but what if it was your job and you had a family to think about as well? That's the situation Members of Parliament find themselves in and 2 nights ago they voted to shield their home addresses from being published in some places.

Most people would not realise that MP's home addresses, and even those of people standing as candidates , are published. I stood as a council candidate for the Labour Party in Barnet a few years ago and my own was published too. Its the law.

There has been quite a bit of controversy about this vote with one Tory commentator condemning any MP that doesnt want their home address to be completely in the open. He is not an MP.

Here in Shepherds Bush we have a constant reminder of the risks MPs take by being in the public eye like that, with one very senior member of the cabinet having a constant armed police guard outside his house. 

Our own MP, Andy Slaughter, voted against this measure and was in favour of all addresses being kept public. Was he right?

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Binyam Mohamed back in West London

binyam-mohamed1You will all be aware that Binyam Mohamed is now back in the UK. Less reported is the fact that he is a west London resident, currently in Kensington.

I think I must be among many of you when I have mixed feelings about the whole affair.

Whether he is guilty or innocent of what he was accused of (membership of the Taliban and possibly Al Qaeda) I have no idea. But we did allow ourselves, it would seem, to become complicit in the worst excesses of the US approach to torture. The US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court and it shows.

Even if he is guilty he has certainly suffered much it would seem and will probably lead the rest of his life in a very fragile state. And this local Imam has said that most of West London's muslims feel "scarred" (his words) and marginalised because of the case and its publicity.

His renewed residence amongst us in West London, not far from Shepherds Bush, is going to shine another light on our part of London in the context of the war on terror.