Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Shooting in Shepherd's Bush

Well, we're getting quite good at this aren't we? After the fatal stabbing of Jaabe Roberts on the Askew Road, the stabbing round the back of Westfield we've now had a man being shot on the Goldhawk Road, outside the Goldhawk Pub by all accounts.

I say by all accounts, but this doesn't include the Metropolitan Police who are giving out next to no information. I have come back after a day at work to find lots of texts and messages about this incident from readers but not one thing from the Police!

The facts according to the Chronicle appear to be thus:
  • At kicking out time at the Goldhawk Pub a shot was heard on saturday night. This was around midnight.
  • A man was reported by bystanders as having been shot and injured but that he managed to run away and is thought to have used a bus.
  • He was later admitted to hospital after flagging down a car, and is thought to be 34 years old.
  • A group of people were spotted running from the scene.
Details apart from that are sketchy but some of you appear to have been witnesses judging by the messages. So if there is anything you'd like to share please do so via the comments. When the Police start telling people what's actually going on I will pass this on.

In the meantime what the hell is hapenning to W12?

Western C-charge campaign hots up

Our Council has been whipping up the locals into a frenzy about the soon-to-be-ditched western extension of the congestion charge. Mayor Boris has finally got round to delivering on something he promised in his election campaign years ago and announced he's on the verge of scrapping the zone. The looming Mayoral elections have of course no relation to this sudden gathering of speed.

Personally I wanted the zone to succeed. Last week's news that London had once again broken pollution rules and would now be fined unless it got it's act together was a fine illustration of the problem we have. In fact from my office in South London I have a view across Lambeth, the river and into westminster. There are times when I can't actually see the towers of the City behind the wheel. The Gherkin and others disappear into grey haze under which, presumably, brokers and the like are breathing. Air pollution is linked to 3,000 deaths every year in London. Scary.

But it hasn't worked. As the now ex-Government will testify, simply ignoring patently obvious truths doesn't actually get you very far. Traffic hasn't really gone down much inside the zone and on the borders, which in our case is Holland Park roundabout next to the Tube, it is gridlock as people skirt the zone. Oh, and a majority of locals have voted against it. Twice. Once in a Ken 'consultation' which was then binned and once in a Boris 'consultation' which was studiously ignored.

So our Council has been trying to get as many of us as possible to feed in to Boris' consultation on the issue. Cadres were out in force scaring startled shoppers and small children with their clipboards just a few days ago as the pic testifies. The West London Residents Association (who they?) are organising as much as they can and are pictured here in Hammersmith King Street outside Mothercare. Personally I've never seen a demonstrator clutching a loudspeaker with a clenched fist ... while dressed in corduroy slacks, blazer and old skool tie before, but goodness me, so be it!

Deputy Leader of LBHF and Environment Lead Cllr Nick Botterill says this:

"We all need to make our views known one more time if we want the western extension to be consigned to the dustbin of history. I know it feels like we have been here twice before but this is third time lucky. This is the last bureaucratic roadblock to scrapping the extension once and for all.”

“The people who are paying the highest price for this failed scheme are the residents just outside the zone as we are the ones who do not get a discount. We are the ones who have to pay to take our children to school across the border. We are the ones who have to pay to visit friends or relatives inside the zone.
“The extension cannot be scrapped a moment too soon for us.”

If this all sounds a bit political, then that's because it is. The Mayor has already made it quite clear the c-charge is a gonner, and the Council want a bit of the street-cred. Which in this case is fair enough since they have consistently campaigned against it even when Boris was sitting on his hands, as he has done on most other things since being elected. So in this case, well done Council!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Ken Livingstone versus Oona King on Radio 4

Ken Livingstone and Oona King are now the two front runners for the Labour nomination to be Mayor of London, and they were interviewed last week on Radio 4 by W12 resident John Humphrys. Oona's campaign has got off to a stuttering start, with only one newspaper turning up to her media launch - and her first response to John Humphrys question in this interview was cringingly bad. Which he duly pointed out.

Politically, with Boris having confirmed he is now going to re-stand, the next Mayor is either going to be Boris or whoever wins this contest. The LibDems actually lost ground in London at the general election and their tryst with the Tories seems to be proving unpopular even with their own members, let alone voters.

So I just hope Oona picks up her game soon, because for the Bush it surely can't be a good thing that our radical Council doesn't have a check or balance at London level, now they definately don't at national level. The Goldhawk Road Inquiry would never have hapenned if a Conservative government had been in place, for example. And frankly I just don't think Ken can win again.

So come on Oona, at least put up a fight. Listen to the interview below:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Mind the sun

It's going to be hot this week-end. I have two elderly neighbours on either side of me who I'll be checking on. In finest Shepherd's Bush tradition neither of them speak English! But we'll manage.
Where do vulnerable people live near you? Please make sure you ask if they're OK. Happy weekend & enjoy the sun.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Bush police teach kids to box

On wednesday this week officers from Sands End Safer Neighbourhoods Team, from Hammersmith and Fulham Police launched a boxing club at Hurlingham and Chelsea School, Peterborough Road, Fulham.

The club is targeted at young people aged between 11 - 17 years of age who live and or go to school in the local area. In particular this scheme will be aimed at reaching young people who live in the Sands End and the Fulham Court areas or go to school in the area.

Each training session will have brief modules on junior citizenship and local policing issues including gun, knife and gang crime. Other subjects cover bullying, truancy, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, robbery, graffiti, anti-social behaviour, and road safety. The boxing part of the training session will focus on warming up and stretching, skipping, boxing techniques, shadow boxing, pad work and bag work, and fun circuit training.

The course will be run by local Police, PCSO's and Police Cadets, with help from identified partners to include school teachers, youth workers, London Fire Service Members, and other suitable community members.

Also present at the launch were Ted Bami - former European light welterweight champion and British light welterweight title challenger; Hannah Beharry - Britain's number one female boxer in the 48kg category and twice a European Union bronze medallist; Terry Gilliam - President of the London Amateur Boxing Association were all on hand to offer support.

Sergeant Mark Trower from the Sands End Safer Neighbourhoods Team and who help set the club said: “I am very proud to be part of this initiative The Sands End Police Community Boxing Club is a positive diversionary project delivered in partnership with Hurlingham and Chelsea Secondary School. The club will also aim to help young people into a disciplined sport where they can gain confidence and feel better about themselves.”

Chief Inspector Wynne Jones in charge of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team at Hammersmith & Fulham Police Said: “I am grateful for the hard work of all partners in getting this initiative started. It is providing young people with an activity that they themselves have chosen and will give them some positive personal skills as well as providing a diversion away from crime and anti social behaviour.”

Dimitri McIntosh aged 18yrs said:"This is a brilliant initiative it means that young people like myself from different backgrounds and learn and have fun."

All good stuff if it diverts even one person away from the sort of life that ends up, in come cases quite literally ends, with stabbings round the back of Westfield. But I still wonder whether there aren't alternatives to a sport that involves punching your opponent repeatedly in the head. I come from quite a rough old town in the north east where boxing is much more widely practiced than you tend to get down here - and even with that level of take up you do still get problems!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Council perform U-Turn and give in to Residents Association

Remember the Ashchurch Residents Association's campaign against the Council's desire to redevelop their neighbourhood into a high-density housing block? (They called it a "mediterrenean village" to make their money-spinning idea sound nicer)

The residents themselves got political and designed these postcards which urged people not to vote for candidates who "don't listen". Since the only candidate not to support their campaign was Conservative Shaun Bailey it seems pretty obvious who they didn't vote for. That, and other similar campaigns as residents who had also been brushed aside by our Council and developers collaborated, in my view made a real difference to the result.

Either way - they've won. The Council has finally realised that the political cost of this situation is just too much. So they've given up. In an email this week to residents Nick Johnson, Chief Exec of H&F Homes, said this:

"It is proving more time-consuming to resolve the many concerns raised by residents than we would have hoped. You will be re-assured, however, to know that we are now in active discussion with the possible developer, Places for People, to change the scheme completely in order to respond fully to the issues raised by residents.

"The current scheme will not be progressed, and I can confirm that you will be very fully consulted on the revised opportunities before any decisions are taken."

I bet Shaun Bailey wishes they'd seen the light a little before May. Local residents say that they now remain suspicious of the Council and will watch their next moves very closely. The campaign is not over , they say. Other residents will be hoping their victory in forcing the Council to think again will mean similar schemes don't get the go-ahead over residents views in future.

H&C tube line closed for three weeks in July-August

On the day that Bob Crow's latest attempt to cripple the tube network failed to even slow down a single train, TfL has stepped into the breech to tell West Londoners who edure the Hammersmith & Shitty Line that they are going to close the whole line for three weeks between mid July and August.

Work at Paddington to help deliver Crossrail and an upgrade of the Tube station will mean London Underground’s (LU) Circle and Hammersmith & City line services will be suspended between Hammersmith and Edgware Road for three weeks this summer.

The works at Paddington will apparently involve the demolition of a disused taxi ramp and canopy that sit above the Hammersmith and City platforms and means that trains will not be able to operate in that area. London Underground are trying to sweeten the pill by saying they will "take advantage of the closure" to carry out essential renewal and upgrade works, which otherwise could have required weekend closures.

The closure will begin on Saturday 24 July and services will resume on Monday 16 August. Hammersmith & City services will operate from Edgware Road to Whitechapel while Circle line services will operate the old route. Rail replacement services will operate between Hammersmith and Edgware Road and there will be ticket acceptance on local bus and tube services.

Nigel Holness, London Underground’s Service Director, said: “Due to nature of the works at Paddington we will not be able to operate services between Hammersmith and Edgware Road. We are taking advantage of this to accelerate additional upgrade works including platform extension essential for the new longer air conditioned trains. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and would advise passengers to check for alternatives routes by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk.”

Thanks for that Nigel, but it's a disgrace. We heard recently that we're all going to be fleeced once again for inflation busting price rises to travel on your packed, boiling hot & frequently late trains in the not too distant future so this comes as just what we wanted to hear.

Education services in H&F Merged with Westminster for "massive savings"

Two top Tory Councils are to merge their education departments, realising "massive savings" to the taxpayer in the process. Our Council alone is looking to realise savings of £55 million over three years with Westminster aiming for a similar amount.

H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Greenhlagh says this: "We will lead the radical revolution in local government that our nation's finances require.We will be tough but fair. Merging our education services will reduce duplication, that is all too common in local government, and drive out needless cost while improving school standards. It is about delivering more for less.
"In times that are tough, this will allow us to focus what money we do have on providing front line services. This is what our residents expect."
Westminster leader Cllr Colin Barrow said: “We all know the economic situation is tough and will get even tougher as public spending continues to be squeezed, as we've seen from the national budget. To live within our means while still providing a high standard of local services means concentrating on what's important and ensuring we continue to care for the most vulnerable".

All sounds fair enough to me, but if it was this simple why haven't we done it before and what are the implications for nurseries primary and secondary schools themselves? And will it mean pooling resources that don't exist in the public sector so we don't keep paying fatcats in posh schools hundreds of thousands of pounds? Details are short on the ground.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Eric Pickles visits H&F

The rotund and pugnacious Communities Secretary, a Tory John Prescott, visited our patch yesterday and congratulated Council Leader Stephen Greenhlagh on his transparency, publishing as he now does all items of expenditure over £500 by the Council.

Here's what the Pickles had to say:

"Local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their hard earned cash is being spent and decisions made on their behalf. The swift and simple changes that Hammersmith and Fulham have made today are an important first step towards getting council business out in the open and revolutionising local government.

"Hammersmith and Fulham already has an impressive record in reducing council tax bills for families and pensioners, while delivering excellent and improving frontline public services."

Returning the serve Cllr Greenhlagh said this:

"We want the public to hold us to account. We have proved with our year-on-year tax cuts and improving services and residents' satisfaction ratings that councils can deliver more for less and these simple changes will shine a light on every corner of our spending.

"Everyone at the council will be given another reason to think twice about whether they are getting value for money. If this reveals examples of spending that is wrong or barmy then I will be the first one to act. We are the champions of value for money and we are not embarrassed by openness and transparency."

As I said here transparency is to be welcomed - even if it reveals some highly questionable expenditure, such as over £100,000 going to the richest private schools in the borough, if not the country.

Lyric Hammersmith raises £64,000

From BroadwayWorld: On Thursday 10 June 2010 London's greatest theatre supporters and influential and recognisable residents of West London attended the Lyric Hammersmith for CHANGING LANDSCAPES, CHANGING LIVES - a party to celebrate the launch of the Lyric's £5million public capital project fundraising appeal. The capital project will transform the landscape of Hammersmith and the lives of thousands of disadvantaged young West Londoners and on the night a massive £64,000 was raised from donations and an auction.

Now read on.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Police Appeal: Steven McGee, local fraud suspect

Police are appealing for the public to help trace the whereabouts of Steven McGee (DOB 01.04.1966) who is wanted by police in connection with fraud within Hammersmith and Fulham.

Anyone with information on his current whereabouts should contact Detective Constable John Stewart based in the CID at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2888 or call crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

West London Free School: Toby Young in Standard

Yesterday's Standard carried a double page feature on the forthcoming West London Free School, viewed by many in Government as one of the flagship schools of the new policy, which will allow parents to establish their own schools.

The school will be based just over the border in Acton but likely attract children from within our borough, and the feature includes interviews with local media personality and School Founder Toby Young, along with other local parents involved.

With a waiting list of 400 already up and running, despite the actual West London Free School being at least a year off construction, the new school has already proved controversial with existing schools, as it will likely relegate them to second choices among many local parents. And despite the fact it is based over the border in Ealing it will be open in theory to parents over on our side of the local authority border too.

So this new school could fundamentally change the nature of local education. I honestly don't know where I stand on this one - dangerous diversion of local resources or worthwhile experiment that puts power in the hands of communities? Either way it's hapenning, so get used to it!

Here's Toby Young on BBC's Newsnight programme talking about the idea:

..and for those of you who really take an interest, here's Michael Gove the Education Secretary of State doing battle with his Labour predecessor Ed Balls on the same subject. Handbags at the ready.

Monday, 21 June 2010

H&F Council gives £110,000 plus to private schools: Standard

Our Council, this evening's Standard reports today, has given £110,000 of our money to private schools. The list of schools includes our old friends Latymer Upper School , whose coke snorting pupils made the press only weeks ago.

This being the same Council who routinely cuts services to the most vulnerable in the name of balancing the books, unsurprisingly has caused not a little bit of controversy.

Labour Leader Steve Cowan asks this:

"Parents up and down the borough will want to know exactly why this is a priority for the council when it is already saying it needs to cream off £1  million from the education budget for administration costs"

In fairness the Council says much of these costs are to meet the provision of nursery places, and its leader Cllr Greenhalgh also points out that they have recently "shone a light" on all aspects of Council expenditure, with results of most purchases being made public for all to see every quarter. So its hardly something that's being done illicitly, and they should be commended for being transparent. But it does leave a little sour taste.

Greenfest report, Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith

Several thousand people flocked to Furnival Gardens yesterday for Greenfest 2010 which, despite some worrying behaviour by the morning's clouds, enjoyed a reasonably sunny day.

Among the opportunities for people to try out were a multitude of global foods, stalls about Thames River archeology and the opportunity to "become a crash test dummy" - strapped into a metal chair to experience the impacts of various car crash speeds. Being with children, I was sadly unable to sample that last delight.

The venue really came into its own and most people were simply sat on the grass admiring the stunning view of the river, Hammersmith bridge and the park while listening to the ethno-music that was coming from the band stand. It was some kind of didgeridoo playing bearded combo but it seemed right at the time.

A large corporate stand, complete with its own TV crew, was also in attendance .. our old friends Thames Water had come to demostrate the plans they have for a Tideway Tunnel sewer. Which is apt on a number of levels since Furnival Gardens is sat upon a great big sewage outflow pipe which far too regularly belches raw effluent into the river and also because our Council has accused them of wishing to tear up Furnival Gardens, turning it into "super sewer craters" with their "Super Sewer" as they insist on calling it. As we now know, those claims are, well, a load of old craters and the Tideway Tunnel, designed to stop those outflows, poses no such threat.

Local MP Andy Slaughter was spotted wandering through the stalls, and here he is being lobbied by those folks at Thames Water.

There were also plenty of cycle stuff at the event, even with a makeshift cycle "try-out" ring, which looked the same as those horse rings you see sometimes with people practising on the animals. The whole event was of course largely organised by H&FCyclists and was aimed squarely at getting people on two wheels and to be more green.

The Police were there with quite a low profile, including some giving advice about cycle crime, and all in all it was a good way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Huge credit to the organisers and to the Council for funding it - an excellent local event in the W12 calendar.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Greenfest Sunday, Furnival Gardens, Hammersmith

Don't forget Greenfest is on today, Sunday, at Furnival Gardens. They seem to have been lucky with the weather with forecast sun and low twenties - hardly hot but it could be a lot worse. Well worth a visit and more details here.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Karl Lashley charged with murder of Jaabe Roberts in Askew Road

I have had to put comment moderation on this blog for the first time ever because of the number of people identifying this individual in the days leading up to now, but it has today been announced that Karl Lashley has been arrested and charged for the murder of Jaabe Roberts in Askew Road, Shepherd's Bush.

He will appear at West London Magistrates' Court in Hammersmith on Saturday

London Overground goes Nuts

Happy friday everyone!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

New arrest today in Jaabe Roberts Askew Road murder case

The Police have just announced that at around 15.15hrs today a 44 year old man was arrested in Fulham connection with the investigation into the murder of Jaabe Roberts on Askew Road, and taken to a west London police station where he remains in custody at the moment. The Police have only just released this news so again this is a breaking story and I'll update as and when

This of course follows the last rather dramatic arrest of a man in a caravan site of all places in West Sussex. He was taken back to London and questioned but has since been released with no further action.

And on On 15 June another man was arrested in Battersea in connection with the investigation and taken to a south London police station. He was later bailed to return in August pending further inquiries.

Jaabe was stabbed through the heart, once, and lay in the street until he was found. I've personally been taken aback by the outpourings that have gone on in response on this blog and elsewhere. If anyone is in any doubt that the people of Askew and Shepherd's Bush more widely are shocked and worried - and angry - then they should take the time to read the 40 + comments on this post. What we actually do about it is another question, and while we're all still coming to terms with what's hapenned, it's also for another day.

Fulham Chronicle: where has your campaign gone?

A quietly forgotten campaign hasn't been seen round these parts for quite some time. Back in February the Chronicle launched a big campaign, backed with billboard advertising and even an advertising van that drove around both Hammersmith and stopped in front of David Cameron's own front door, calling for the propaganda paper that our Council published with our taxes to be stopped.

The reason, the Chronicle said, and in my view quite rightly was that tax payers money shouldn't be used to fund a "paper" that is actually a political propaganda piece for the local Conservative Party. Articles always seem to have a positive slant for the Council and nobody that isn't a Tory ever seems to get a mention, let alone stories that don't portray the Council in anything other than a glittering light.

So where has the campaign gotten to, after what's coming up for 5 months? Er, precisely nowhere. Only 300 people have signed their petition, which is now quite hard to find on their website so here it is again, and the problems that seem to prevent the paper even being delivered to some readers appear to carry on.

It's not as if there aren't stories to report on - at the time of writing 2,388 of you have read this story alone on the murder of Jaabe Roberts on Askew Road.  We need much more independent journalism, and a lot less propaganda masquerading as "news" and calling itself "H&F News" - and which has been condemned by even fellow Conservative MPs as unacceptable.

So a question for the Chronicle - where has your campaign gone?!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

H&F Council cuts in Guardian

Today's Guardian Society Section features the latest in our Council's cuts to public services, this time the closure of Hammersmith Carers Centre. Why does our local authority always go for the most vulnerable people's services? The Guardian says this:

For 12 years, Margaret Turley has known where to go in a crisis. Eighteen months ago, when the 26-year-old learning-disabled son she cares for developed epilepsy and began going blind, Turley headed for the Princess Royal Trust Hammersmith and Fulham Carers Centre
"You're among people who know what carers do," she says of the Hammersmith Road centre in west London. "I can come in here just because I've had a horrendous day." The centre provides advice and peer support, and runs a Department of Health-funded programme, Caring with Confidence, offering free training for carers who want to develop their caring skills.
However, in two weeks' time, the centre is to close, depriving Turley and 600 other carers of their lifeline. Its contract with the Tory-run council has not been renewed and, in a separate issue, its council lease had expired and it regarded alternative accommodation offered by the council as unsuitable. Last week, campaigners staged a protest at the town hall.

Now read on

Sewage flooding: Thames Water face residents

On monday local residents will have the chance to question Thames Water at Hammersmith Town Hall on the vexed subject of flooding by sewage. Areas to the south of the Borough, in Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith, have some of the highest density of basement flats in London - but which are also connected to the main sewer which brings most of North West London's poo and rainwater under our pavements. A fatal connection when you're dealing with ancient sewers that can't handle the volume. Flooding happens every year, usually after heavy rain.

At this public meeting last year Thames Water appeared in front of pretty angry residents but put on quite a good show, explaining what needed to be done and what their plans were. The Council, who one resident had noticed had referred to the issue as "your problem" on their website, didn't come off quite so well. They'll be hoping for a better evening next week.

Our Council and Thames Water have, of course, got form with each other. Our Council has waged a campaign of criticism against the public utility mainly about their plans to build a new sewer, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, or as the Council scarily calls it the "Super Sewer". Ultimately building this new capacity is the only way to stop both the flooding of flats and the release of raw sewage into the Thames which is also a regular occurence, leading to the threat of fines from the EU as a result.

So expect a tense meeting, and one which really does matter to those residents who suffer this most disgusting of local problems. I'd like to see more focus on the problem from our Council and less focus on flinging, er, dirt, at Thames Water. The elections are over now, after all.

The meeting takes place at 1900 in the Small Hall at Hammersmith Town Hall.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Boris defends Shoddy Shepherd's Bush Market works

I reported here that questions had been raised about what I called "shoddy" works that had been carried out by a cheapo contractor that left a complete mess in their wake. A sub standard and potentially dangerous 'path' with sharp metal bits sticking out, perfect to trip over.

Not what the Shepherd's Bush market Traders had been given to expect by Transport for London, who own the site.

Picking up on the report Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Lib Dems on the London Assembly asked these questions, which were answered recently by mayor Boris Johnson. The question and answer is below.

He appears to say that the contractors will have to clear up their mess at no extra cost (ambitious, but good luck) and that the figures that the Shepherd's Bush Market Traders Association had been quoting for what Transport for London had spent on the work were wrong. Why the Mayor of London chose to add that last bit in, having a go at the Traders who after all were the wronged party in this mess, probably says a lot more about the Mayor than it does about them. Just fix the work, Boris and leave the petty politics out of it. We deserve better than that.

“Shoddy” work in Shepherds Bush (2)

Question No: 1940 / 2010

Caroline Pidgeon
Will you investigate why the market traders in Shepherds Bush seem so unhappy about the expensive works that have been carried out on the path that runs through the market, and also investigate why the costs were so high for this job in the first place?

Answer from the Mayor:
Some aspects of recent path re-surfacing and drainage works by a contractor at Shepherd’s Bush Market have been undertaken to a less than satisfactory standard. We were working with the contractor to have any defects rectified by 6 June at no additional cost to the public purse.
The works were competitively tendered via TfL Group Procurement and compliant bids were received from three contractors. Following a technical and commercial evaluation against pre-determined criteria, the contract was awarded to the lowest compliant bidder but not at the value that had been stated by the Shepherds Bush Market Tenants’ Association.

“Shoddy” work in Shepherds Bush (1)

Question No: 1939 / 2010

Caroline Pidgeon
There have been recent media reports regarding the market traders in Shepherds Bush being furious about “shoddy” works carried out on TfL land which runs through Shepherds Bush market. What action has TfL taken in rectifying this?

Answer from the Mayor:
Some aspects of recent path re-surfacing and drainage works by a contractor at Shepherd’s Bush Market have been undertaken to a less than satisfactory standard.
TfL is demanding the contractor have any defects rectified by 6 June at no additional cost to the public purse.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Jaabe Roberts: New arrest in Shepherd's Bush murder

This just in from the Metropolitan Police (1900 hours)

A 34 year old man has been arrested today (14 June) at a caravan park in West Sussex in connection with the murder of Jaabe Roberts last week. He is at present on route to a west London police station.

You can find more information on the murder here and an appeal by Jaabe's family here. The arrest is new news at the moment, will update as and when.

Greenfest this Sunday 20th June, Furnival Gardens Hammersmith

After the horrendous events of last week it's a relief to write about something that underlines, actually, how lucky we are to live where we do. Greenfest is one of the summer staples of a W12 diary, or it should be, and this is down in no small part to the local cycling group, H&FCyclists, that help put it together.

A family day out where visitors can meet environmental and community groups, and each other. Plus a lot more - stalls to buy interesting and suitable stuff, great food and music. Held in a beautiful setting beside the river in Hammersmith at Furnival Gardens.

Organisers say there is much to look forward to, including:

"Your chance to meet many environmental and community groups and see how you might give yet more meaning to your life. And find out how to save energy and money. And the stalls are interesting. We have asked them all to be as interactive as possible. Or on one of our commercial stalls you might buy something".

There will be a big truck and driver ready for cyclists to visit the cab and walk round the lorry, understand where the blind spots are, talk to the driver, collect a handy leaflet full of tips about how and where to ride safely around lorries in London.

And a seat-belt sledge for the really brave. Be your own crash dummy to see how a seat belt stops you.
There are also workshops including:
  • Love Food Hate Waste workshop at 2:30pm
  • Composting workshop for your garden at 3.30pm
  • Didgeridoo workshops
  • Yoga
Well worth coming along to - the event starts at 1300 and finishes at 1700 though doubtless the several bars down alongside the river will keep things going for a few hours after that. Hopefully see you there! More details here.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Shepherd's Bush Tube stabbing

As if we hadn't had enough of this in the last few days a boy has been stabbed today and is in a critical position in a hospital. The 16 year old was attacked outside the station, no more details as yet.

Police believe this morning's violence happened following an altercation involving around five youths.
Anyone with information that may assist police should call CID officers on 020 8246 2669 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

If you have info as usual please add it in the comments

1700 Sunday UPDATE: The boy appears to be improving in hospital. The Police have just released this account of what hapenned:

Police were called at around 0045hrs on Saturday, 12 June, to reports of a stabbing outside Shepherd's Bush Underground station.

Officers attended and a 16-year-old youth was found suffering stab wounds.

He was taken to a south London hospital where his condition is described as stable.

A second 16-year-old youth was found nearby suffering a stab wound to the arm. He was arrested and taken to a central London hospital. He has now been discharged from hospital and bailed, pending further inquiries, to a date in July.

Officers from Hammersmith & Fulham CID are investigating.

Police believe an altercation took place involving around five youths. Enquiries into the circumstances of the incident are ongoing.

Anyone with information that may assist police should call CID officers on 020 8246 2669 or, to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Shepherd's Bush Underground station remained open, but the Overground station was closed until midday on Saturday. The station has now re-opened.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Jaabe Roberts, Askew Road murder victim's family speaks out

The victim of the murder on Askew Road on wednesday has been named by Police as Jaabe Roberts, who was 28 years old. His family have released this statement, appealing for help from the public:

"The whole family is devastated by our loss. Jaabe's family and friendsloved him so much. I, Marcia (mother), along with his sisters andnine-year-old brother cannot understand why this has happened to ourbeloved son and brother. His brother keeps asking what's wrong withJaabe and why he can't come home. We are appealing to anyone with anyinformation to please pass this onto the police. The incident room number is 020 8247 7821"

The full Police statement reads as follows:

At 01.00hrs on Wednesday 9 June a man was found collapsed in Askew Road W12. It is believed he had been at a nearby address in Askew Road when he was stabbed, before making his way out into the street.

The victim aged 28 years was taken by ambulance to a west London hospital where he died shortly after arrival. The victim has now been identified as Jaabe (pronounced Jay-be) Roberts(13.6.81 - 28 ys), of Edith Rd, W6. Next of kin have been informed.

A post-mortem examination gave cause of death as a stab wound to the heart.

An incident room has been opened under DCI Howard Groves (HSCC) Anyone with any information is asked to contact the incident room on 0208247 7821; if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800555 111. + On 9 June three men [A - 57 ys; B - 37 ys; C - 31 ys] and one woman [D- 42 ys] were arrested in connection with the investigation and were taken to west an central London police stations. A/B were later releasedwith no further action; C/D are bailed to return in September and Augustrespectively pending further inquiries.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Askew Murder: A mother's grief, a community's fear

A shrine has grown up outside the store in front of which the body of the victim of wednesday's stabbing attack was found. The police are still not releasing his name, but commenters on this post have already named him as Jaabe or JEM.

And his mother has left this poignant tribute (pictured).

I started this blog in November 2008 and I have never dealt with a story that so touched this community. It's quite normal for a story like this to attract a few comments but over 30 people have debated on this tragedy and a mother, Margaret, of another local murder victim of this seemingly endless stream of utterly senseless killings, this time a shooting in Fulham Court, left a poem in the comments which she offered to her new fellow heartbroken mother of this new victim.

Around the police cordon are what seems to be a constant band of locals just telling the policewoman, who in fairness can't say very much, how fearful they are for what is hapenning in their view to the area.

Margaret's poem was very moving and so I reproduce it below, and don't intend to post anything more on this blog until next week. Suddenly all the other local stories just don't seem that important anymore.

I know some of Jaabe's family and friends have been reading this blog from the comments and direct messages. So I'd also say that I know we all from this community offer our deep, heartfelt and sincere sympathy.


The love a Mother has,
Runs so very deep.
That love is so special,
It's in her heart to keep.

A Mother's heart is broken,
She is ripped apart inside,
There is a part of her missing.
It left her when her child died.

So, please don't tell me to get over it,
For this I cannot do.
Unless you understand my feelings,
And this has happened to you.

Only another Mother, who has lost a child,
Can understand my pain,
Because they also suffer daily,
As the memories of their child remain.

We are a band of Mothers'
Whose hearts can never heal,
For the loss of our children,
Is for us, so very real.

Thames Tunnel/Super Sewer consultation

The Thames Tunnel public consultation is due to start in September 2010, giving all interested parties a chance to have their say. I reported here that folks at the GLA have been expecting plans to be submitted soon so this is the next step in that process to build a sewer that will stop houses in south Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith being at such risk of being flooded with raw sewage and the Thames being inundated with poo.

I've also reported, at some length, our own Council's fight against this project which I began by supporting and called on you to support too because I believed what I was being told about the prospect of Furnival Gardens being ripped up and turned into a giant building site. It turns out, however, that the Council knew that that was not the case but they chose to use our money to tell us it was true anyway.

We've had meetings at which the Council set up Thames Water to be pilloried but ended up being criticised by residents instead, but then the campaign reached the extraordinary peak of them warning that residents faced being made homeless by the project. This was soon dismissed by the Mayor who, along with almost every other Conservative and Labour Council along the river, support the scheme. So quite some drama thus far, and you can expect more I would imagine.

Phase one of the public consultation will last a minimum of 12 weeks, opening with a rolling , two-week programme of localised exhibitions. A special project website will also invite feedback online.

Thames Water spokesman Phil Stride says this:

“It is important for us to have a meaningful consultation with all those who might be affected by our proposals for the Thames Tunnel.

“I understand that some people may be sceptical (he's talking about our Council) , but I can reassure everyone that this will not be a ‘tick box’ exercise.

We will genuinely listen and will be prepared to modify our plans in the light of the comments we receive.

“The Thames Tunnel will bring many important benefits for the river and for London, but our key task on the project is to meet the requirements of the Government, who have to ensure that the UK complies with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

“Before we launch the public consultation we need to brief the new ministerial team at Defra on ththe detailed status of our proposals.”

There will be a further round of consultation, prior to the submission of planning applications.

You can pre-register for the Thames Tunnel public consultation at www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Murder on Askew Road

Some of you have been in touch about a murder that was apparently committed on Askew Road last night. Details still sketchy and the mainstream local press have not picked it up yet, but the Police have closed the road and are conducting inquiries.

Unconfirmed reports, and I stress this is what people are saying on the streets rather than factual reports from the Police, are that a man in a house which was being used as a crack den was stabbed to death with a screwdriver.

Nice. Here are some photos sent in by a reader of the scene thus far. As with previous reader-generated news stories like this, please add detail via comments and I will update as things develop.

A reader wrote in to say: "Askew Road is closed on a short stretch from Starfield Road to Bassein Park Road and back to the old Sun pub. Policemen on duty don't know whether doctors surgery is open, or how to get round the road block. You can go round Wendell Park, or cut through via Landor Walk".

1100 UPDATE - Police have released this short statement:

Inquiries are underway after a death in Shepherds Bush.
" A man was found collapsed in Askew Road W12 at 1pms on Wednesday June 9. He had been stabbed.
" The man - thought to be in his 20s - was taken by ambulance to a west London hospital where life was pronounced extinct shortly after arrival.
"A post-mortem will be scheduled in due course."

1200 UPDATE: Police have confirmed that they will be setting up an incident room in the vicinity later today under detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command.
1600 UPDATE: Four people have been arrested in relation to the murder, three men and one woman who are now in custody at more than one police station across west London.
1630 UPDATE: The Metropolitan Police have just released this advisory notice to government officials and other public services. I have obtained a copy, it's just the bare bones but in the spirit of keeping you up to date:

A murder investigation has been launched following the death of a man inShepherds Bush early this morning.

A 29-year old man was found collapsed in Askew Road, W12 at 01:00hrs onWednesday 9 June. He had been stabbed. The man was taken by ambulance to a west London hospital where life waspronounced extinct shortly after arrival.

We believe we know the identity of the man. Next of kin have beeninformed.

A post-mortem examination will take place tomorrow, Thursday 10 June, at Fulham Mortuary.

An Inquest will be opened in due course. An incident room has been opened under DCI Howard Groves from theHomicide and Serious Crime Command. Officers arrested four people this morning - three men and one woman -in connection with the investigation.

1750 UPDATE: Police have confirmed that no murder weapn has been found and that the victim was 28 years old. Further details of the people arrested are: three men (A 57-years-old,B 37-years-old, C 31-years-old) and one woman (D 42-years-old) inconnection with the investigation. No further details at this time.

10th June UPDATE: A shrine has grown up at the site, the victim's mother has left a personal tribute and crowds remain telling the police about their fears for the area. A dark day for Shepherd's Bush.

11th June UPDATE The victim has now been identified by the Police as Jaabe (pronounced Jay-be) Roberts(13.6.81 - 28 ys), of Edith Rd, W6.

Latymer Upper School drugs fame/shame in Bush Hall

A few weeks ago some kids got drunk, went to a bar and took some drugs. Not exactly breaking new ground, these kids, but sadly for them they did it in the presence of their teachers at Bush Hall which the £13,500 a year school had hired for the last day of term prom. (They do that sort of thing at posh schools)

What they also seem to do at posh schools is take cocaine in the toilets and get themselves expelled. To be honest this story first surfaced a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't see the point of writing about it because it was so boring, but the point of this article is to highlight how its suddenly been picked up by the national press as if it had just hapenned!

The righteous Daily Mail is thundering about it here and the Evening Standard is tut-tutting about it here. So there we have it kids; fame for Shepherd's Bush, and shame for Latymer Upper. Another day in the life of the Bush.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Police appeal for Hammersmith prisoner on run

Police are appealing for the public to help trace the whereabouts of Victor Cumberbatch aged 44yrs (dob 12.08.1965) who is wanted by police for recall to prison and in connection with a burglary within Hammersmith and Fulham.

Anyone with information to the current whereabouts should contact Detective Constable John Stewart on 0208 246 2557 or call crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Dispersal Zone launched

Police will act against any gathering of more than 2 people in the Bush from now until the end of this year. This somewhat draconian reaction comes as a result of rising levels of incidents involving people (including young people) gathered in groups in the area south of Uxbridge Road right down to Goldhawk Road and beyond. What this means is that Police Constables (PCs) and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) now have the power to disperse groups of 2 or more people gathered on the street within the zone.

A PC or PCSO can tell people to disperse, either immediately or as they direct. Dispersed people who live outside the zone can be told to leave the zone immediately. The order to disperse can be for a maximum of 2 hours.

In addition to this between the hours of 2100 and 0600 any child under 16 years of age can be taken to their home or another place of safety if they are found within the dispersal zone and not in the control of an adult.

Anyone who doesn't do what they're told in these circumstances will be deemed to have committed an offence and will have to give their name and address.

If anyone refuses to disperse when they're ordered to, refuses to leave the zone when ordered, returns to the zone within 24 hours or fails to give their name and address when they've been asked to will have committed even more offences and could be arrested as a result, with a maximum penalty of 3 months in prison or a fine of £2500.

Tough stuff. Here's what the Police say about why they're doing this:

Local Shepherd's Bush Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams within the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have been working closely with local residents and businesses. They have heard how local people have been disrupted, disturbed and intimidated by local groups on the streets of Shepherd's Bush.

The evidence to support the need for a dispersal zone was closely scrutinised by a panel of senior members of the local authority, senior police officers and outside concerned agencies such as the probation service and housing providers.

We doubtless have issues with gangs in the Bush, and lets be frank this is at least in part what this is all about. Last week I was in Hammersmith Grove where Kodjo Yenga was killed 2 years ago and the knifing of Sofyen Belamoudden underlines where this sort of activity ends up. But low level crime is also undoubtedly and issue in may parts of W12 too. There will be lots of critics of this approach and people who feel uncomfortable with this sort of intervention, and to be honest I don't feel entirely at ease with it either - but the fact that the Police are acting and trying something new is something to be welcomed. And credit to the Council for giving them the back-up they need too. Time will tell whether or not it works.

Monday, 7 June 2010

RMT set for new Tube strike

Our favourite football hooligan Bob Crow, member of the Communist Party and spread-leg tube seat specialist, has announced another vote in favour of strike action by his union. Hoping to carry on a long tradition of the RMT spoiling everyone else's summer Mr Crow is adamant that the problems arising out of private firms being taken over by TfL will not impact on his members' pay rises. He recently called for a "decent pay increase" this year.

As everyone else prepares for the cuts, it seems Bob Crow regards the rest of us as fair game to avoid any of the pain himself.

Bushers should remember that the Overground does not get affected by Tube strikes, and is a very useful way of getting to the right part of London from where you can get a bus into whichever part of central London you need to get to, north or south.

Moped danger

What is it with all these kids riding hairdryer-engine powered mopeds and scooters up and down pavements and roads in Shepherd's Bush this summer? I haven't seen it in other areas of London so it seems to be something peculiar to the Bush, at least in the very large numbers that seem to be involved.

This weekend a reader of this blog was knocked off their bike in Sawley Road by one of these idiots and suffered a combination of broken bones, chipped teeth and grazes. Not the most serious road accident in the world - but it could have been. The youth in question just got back on his hairdryer and rode away, and the police weren't interested.

They also weren't that interested in rogue cyclists until the Deputy Borough Commander had to answer for it in front of a residents meeting last year - then it quickly rose up the local policing priority list. That's how it works, you see.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Hampstead Heath Lido: A must for Bushers

Clean, open air pool in the sun for less than a fiver? On your doorstep. A few weeks ago, on one of the hottest days of the year so far, I discovered the Hampstead Heath Lido. And my word is it good. An undiscovered treasure of North London which is within minutes of the Bush courtesy of the Overground to Gospel Oak.

Think simple, think cheap and cheerful, but think hot weather plus huge olympic sized outdoor swimming pool with plenty of space round the pool for sunbathing. And you've got the measure of it.

Its £4.50 to get in for the day and my word its worth every penny.

You do have to share it with lots of teenagers trying to flirt with each other all the time and some extremely tattooed gentlemen that parade around the pool showing off their biceps but its a real mix in there with bookish types perched next to the beefcakes.

You can leave your valuables in a  free cloak room thing and just take in the day enjoying a retro 1930s establishment that was put there so that the common man could enjoy the delights of swimming.

Not much good came out of the 30s if you think about it - Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Great Terror and the second World War put a significant damper on things, but the Lido was something really good - and I highly recommend it to fellow Bushers!

Friday, 4 June 2010

£4.5 million black hole revealed at Goldhawk Block Inquiry

Dramatic scenes at this independent Inquiry into the Council's decision to award one of our industrial areas to developers in the teeth of local residents opposition and already at the cost of 200 jobs with the announcement of local employer Innocent Drinks that it was off due to all of the uncertainty.

Our Council has form in awarding developers permission to develop even if local people are dead set against, and this is likely to have played a decisive role in denying Tory challenger Shaun Bailey a place in parliament.

But this weeks Inquiry, which was announced by the last Government shortly before the election has, it would seem, found a rather large gap in the Council's sums. £4.5 million is a rather large number.

Here's what our local Che Guevara Rosemary Petit, the marmalade making rebel who chairs the Brackenbury Residents Association has to say:

Third and final week of Goldhawk Estate inquiry

We hear evidence from Alan Simmonds, planning consultant of DP9 (for the applicant, Londonewcastle) and from Robert Jaffe-Pearce (resident) on traffic and parking in the area, including surveys and counts, on Monday, 7 June, and Tuesday, 8 June.

Other witnesses will include David Pearson, architect of Dalling Road, and Andy Slaughter MP as an independent witness. The inquiry will be held in the Assembly Room of the Town Hall, starting at 10am.

The final day of the inquiry has been moved from 14 June to this coming Thursday, 10 June.

The two days of the inquiry this last week concerned viability, valuations and affordable housing - all very necessary to examine, quite technical and detailed stuff - and not without drama.

Richard Turney, our barrister, uncovered a missing £4.5 million; I call that quite interesting.

So do I.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Oona King: Our next Mayor?

Oona King launched her campaign to be the next Mayor of London in the last few days, along with Ken Livingstone. They're likely to be joined by at least one more candidate vying for the Labour nomination. Despite the overall national result it's fair to say that Londoners stuck with Labour at the last General Election, one reason why Andy Slaughter was re-elected here, and Boris is of course now the encumbent with real questions about what he's done - or more relevantly not done - over the last few years.

So the Labour candidate would seem to have a better than 50-50 chance of becoming the next Mayor.

Over the next weeks and months this will be an election I'll start to follow here, hopefully with comment from all of the main candidates on what they hope to achieve for areas like ours. It certainly won't be as intense as the General Election coverage, not least because the election itself is not until 2012. But it will matter to the Bush - not least because it could radically change the balance of power between our Council and the GLA on issues that affect our daily lives - from parking to the environment.

Interesting times ahead..here's a snapshot from BBC London:

Boris bike hire scheme could fail warns Hammersmith inventor

Yesterday's Evening Standard carried a dire warning from the inventor of the Oy bike scheme which ran for a few years from Hammersmith and covered Shepherd's Bush too. Running on pretty much the same principle as Boris' new plan - hire as you use - you can still see one or two Oy bikes chained to the bike rank outside the Bush tube!

Bernie Hanning warns that Boris' scheme doesn't have enough bikes and that those he does have might break down. Both are likely to spoil the Mayor's plan for obvious reasons!

Read more here.

"Deranged dance off" at Ginglik, Shepherd's Bush Green

Well, this is quite a review from the 8th birthday celebrations of Ginglik, the venue beneath the Green. You may remember this superb piece of Shepherd's Bush life was threatened by our Council, who wanted to fill it with concrete. Thankfully the local uproar that ensued forced a rethink.

Here's what one visitor to the Bush found .. hot pants in W12? Well I never.

never been to Ginglik, I wander around Shepherd's Bush Green for a fair amount of time before realising that it is in fact beneath the grass and not on top of it.

Walking to a 'Deranged Dance Off', I'm not quite sure what I should be expecting, as battling by means of dance isn't exactly order of the day in London's clubbing scene. So I'm intrigued and determined to partake (from afar) in Ginglik's 8th birthday celebrations.

As I descend Ginglik's stairs, I am faced with a decadently dolled up ballet/cabaret dancer, who hands me a glass of champagne and a gorgeous strawberry and cream cupcake. Not a bad start. To my left I catch a glimpse of a fully fledged boxing ring and an inkling of excitement grips me. A legitimate arena can only mean a legitimate dance off, which can only conclude in legitimate hilarity. The vibe is relaxed and DJs in the arena room are warming us up with tunes ranging from Tru Notion's reggae beats to Kone-R's vintage electro and Rotkappchen's bassier sounds. But for now, it's all about the complimentary glow sticks and friendly chatter.

Finally, we're summoned to the arena by a young man wearing rather tight hot pants. Now read on.

Lyric Hammersmith Present THE BIG FELLAH, Opens Sept 2

The Big Fellah, Richard Bean's new play about Irish Americans and their relationship to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, will receive its world premiere at the Corn Exchange, Newbury on 2 September before a national tour which will include a four-week London run at the Lyric Hammersmith.

Young fireman Michael Doyle (David Ricardo-Pearce) decides to live up to his Irish heritage by joining the IRA. He's recruited by Costello (Finbar Lynch), the charismatic "Big Fellah", who wants to use Doyle's brownstone apartment in The Bronx as a safe house for an escaped killer. But it soon becomes clear that someone is leaking information to the FBI...

Set among Irish Americans in New York, Richard Bean's dark, glinting, funny story of loyalty, disillusion and betrayal spans three turbulent decades. Now read on.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

"Debt mountain" of H&F Council

Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh has launched a new crusade. He is determined, he says, to get on top of what he calls the council's "debt mountain", and with his administration being keen admirers of North Korean style propaganda he's mocked up a cardboard image to illsutrate the point (pictured).

Cllr Greenhalgh, who swatted away calls to stop cuts to services at the recent AGM of the Council, pledges to sell of buildings that aren't being used (the old Shepherd's Bush Library is likely to be a prime candidate I would think) and uses what seem to be carefully crafted words for the local voluntary sector who have often cried foul at the reduction of their funding in the last few years. He talks of "modern community hubs" instead of "myriad buildings".

If he's right that there are lots of charities operating in lots of buildings, with lots of electric bills not to mention rent that could be brought together with savings made, he should do exactly that. But are there? I honestly don't know, but it's set to be a big local political issue if what this is really likely to mean is further funding cuts for vulnerable people's services. We shall see.

Last time I quoted Cllr Greenhalgh I had a bit of an angry email from his press office so here's what the Dear Leader said in full, taken from the Tory activist site ConservativeHome:

'Freedom with responsibility' is the focus of what I want to achieve for our residents in the next four years. It means that the council will do everything we can over time to become debt-free.

 Only when we have paid off council debt will we be free to put every single penny into delivering frontline services

At the moment our residents are paying £5million every year just for us to stand still. That is without a single bin collected, or a single street being swept.

The council’s historic debt – which dates back more than a generation – stands at £133m.

Think of it as the borough’s credit card. You are paying, through your council tax, £5m every year in interest payments... even before we pay off the debt.

Just think what we could do with that money instead. We could put more money into our schools, parks and into supporting our vulnerable.

And yes, we could return some of the money to you by continuing to lower council tax bills as we have done for the last four years

In H&F, we are proud of the services we deliver while reducing council tax.
Our services are judged to be amongst the best in Britain. In fact, we were recently recognised as the best local authority in Britain.

However, with our debt burden, we are achieving this with one hand tied behind our back.
Our neighbours in Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are all virtually debt-free.

That is why our focus in the next four years is on reducing that debt – but it will not be at the expense of quality frontline services. Quality schools, supporting our vulnerable, safer streets, cleaner streets and decent parks continue to be our absolute priorities.

So, how can we reduce debt while still having quality services? Well, we have already managed to reduce our debt by £36m in the last four years. On top of that we have to pay the costs of borrowing.
Our focus will be on using the buildings we own in the most efficient way possible.

If a building is underused and can be sold to reduce our credit card bill it will be sold.

The days of having a council building on every street are over – our residents want quality services, not bricks and mortar which are often underused.

That is why we will be working with the voluntary sector to look at creating modern community hubs across the borough rather than today’s myriad of often underused and poorly- equipped buildings.

That is our promise to local residents – we will carry on delivering quality, value for money services while doing everything possible to continue reducing our historic debt.

It's a good visual prop but does he really have to wear an expression as if he's in a police station doing a mugshot?!