Friday, 29 July 2011

Shepherd's Bush - as you have never seen her before

Open Doors, the pop up gallery people who host local artist exhibitions in people's homes across W12, have established a few things about the Bush that some of you, in fact nearly all of you, won't have known before.

Click here to see a cornucopia of facts and figures about the Bush from times gone past.

I'll be returning to my series, Historic Bush, soon. I haven't done anything on it for a year, and while Open Door's fantastic collection is desk based - in the sense that they are images and documents you can search for and find on this wonderful interweb thingy, there is plenty you call also see in the streets around us. But it's disappearing fast.

Not only do our Council wish to destroy the Victorian row of shops on the Goldhawk Road but this shop I profiled here, is now sadly gone. Turned into flats, you see.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bush gets BorisBikes but Barclays cash questioned

Shepherd’s Bush is finally to become a member of the Boris Bike cycle hire scheme after announcements made by Boris Johnson today. Years after they launched the Mayor said today that West London was to be included with cycle ranks for the distinctive clunky bikes being sited in W12 by summer 2013.

The man himself said:

"We are now planning to swathe a huge chunk of the west of our city with our beautiful blue bikes."

Westfield will be hosting Shepherd’s Bush’s bike stands following funding from the centre, who presumably thought having people needing to come to their door to take and return the bikes made good commercial sense.

This, it has to be said, is both welcome but also long, long overdue. West Londoners have never really understood why a central London borough located in Zone 2 was considered so far away from the heartbeat of the city that they weren’t worth including in the Mayor’s much heralded “cycling revolution”.

Our Council, as you might expect, is over the moon. Responding to the news Cllr Harry Phibbs, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, says:

"Rolling out Boris bikes westwards is the best transport news the borough has enjoyed since the extension of the congestion charge was scrapped. Pedal power promises to relieve some of the pressure on our congested roads and jam-packed tubes, reduce pollution and give residents another option when choosing how to get around.

“The cycle-hire scheme will also make it easier for visitors to get to our major attractions.”

While John Griffiths, Chairman of H&F cyclists, says:

“Cycling allows you to travel much more quickly through congested roads. It is cheaper than running a car and it creates a wonderful feeling of freedom that you don’t always get on foot.”

But not everyone is convinced. In particular the LibDems at City Hall are asking some searching questions about how much Barclays, the bankers who sponsor the scheme, are actually putting in to the pot in order to get what must be the biggest brand exposure I can possibly think of. What other business is going to have its brand literally being ridden through the streets of an Olympic city in front of the world’s media, after all?

“The Mayor also needs to answer a key question - why has the sponsorship arrangement with Barclays has been so casually extended for a further three years, instead of being put out to a competitive tender when the five year contract expires in 2015?

“The Mayor is selling Londoners short by not getting the best sponsorship deal that is possible. He should not have automatically extended Barclay's sponsorship of the scheme without seeking other expressions of interest.

“Let’s not pretend for one moment that Barclays are being generous here. The current sponsorship deal is a great commercial deal for them, providing them with worldwide publicity at little relative cost. The bank is paying less than £5 million a year for this sponsorship deal and one has to question how well the Mayor and his team did in negotiating this deal. The immense amount of free publicity Barclays have received - and will receive - for sponsoring the cycle hire scheme is worth far more than this."

She has a point.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

W12 drugs & benefit criminals get 33 months jail

Two local men have been sentenced to a total of 33 months imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court.

Hammersmith & Fulham Drugs Squad targeted convicted drug dealer Demis Ubiribo back in 2010. His address in Norbrooke Street,W12, Shepherd's Bush was raided by Police and several false documents in the name of his father, Lucky were seized along with several thousand pounds in cash.

A simultaneous raid was carried out at Margeret House, Queen Caroline Street, W6 where £7,000 in cash was seized and Lucky Ubiribo was arrested

After these raids a combined investigation was launched involving the Drugs Squad, Police Payback Unit and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Corporate Anti-Fraud Service. It was established that Lucky Urbiribo, a Nigerian man, had two wives and families. One living in Margaret House,W6 and the other in Norbrooke Street,W12. He had married both women in Nigeria and had children by them both. Clearly a responsible guy.

The cash seized by police was contaminated with high levels of heroin and cannabis.

In December 2010 whilst on bail for the offence of money laundering, Demis Ubiribo was stopped by police in his car late at night. He ran away but was detained and found to be in possession of another £1000 in cash.

After a thorough multi agency investigation on the family the following people were charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money. Lucky, Demis, Gladys and Joys Ubiribo. Lucky and Demis were also charged with possession of criminal property.

Joys Ubiribo was also charged with housing benefit fraud as she had not declared that several hundred thousand pounds had passed through her account.

Lucky and Gladys Ubiribo were also charged with benefit fraud as Lucky had falsely declared that he only earned £3800 a year and Gladys was accused of not revealing that Lucky had lived with her till 2010 when it is thought he had been there since as early as 2005, as bank and business cards for him were registered during the period mentioned.

Demis and Lucky were remanded in custody due to the perceived risk of them absconding due to the seriousness of this case.

On 25th July 2011 Lucky Ubiribo aged 54 years pleaded guilty to possessing £7000 of heroin and cannabis contaminated cash. These were the proceeds of crime said by the prosecution to be from Demis' drug dealing. Lucky received 9 months imprisonment for possession of criminal property He also received a further 12 months imprisonment for a separate conviction for possession of criminal property. This stemmed from a fraudulent notice on the internet in 2008 advertising shipment of scrap metal for sale. A Chinese company paid $34,000 advance fee for this shipment, which never arrived. The money was paid into a bank account controlled by Lucky Ubiribo. He also received a 3 month concurrent setence of imprisonment for possessing a false driving licence.

Lucky also pleaded guilty to the benefit fraud but no separate sentence was given.

Demis Ubiribo aged 33 years pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing two amounts of cash totalling £2161.98 that he admitted were criminal property. He received two 9 month prison sentences to run consecutively and a confiscation order.

Joys Ubiribo aged 51 years pleaded guilty earlier this year to benefit fraud and received a 40 hour Community Order with a 30-day activity requirement.

A confiscation investigation has commenced into Lucky and Joy Ubirbo to ensure they payback all their benefit from crime.

Gladys Ubiribo aged 50 years pleaded not guilty at her trial to fraudulently claiming £28,000 of housing benefit. She was found guilty and will be sentenced in early September.

Detective Sergeant Richard Gilbert from Hammersmith & Fulham's Pay Back Unit said:
“The multi-agency approach has brought this case to a successful conclusion. The sentences reflect the courts attitude to money laundering. My unit’s work continues into the finances of Lucky & Joys to ensure that they are made to payback their benefit from crime. Demis has already lost his unlawfully earned cash.”
 Detective Sergeant Simon Rogers from Hammersmith & Fulham's Drugs Squad said:
“ This was a very complex and protracted investigation which took place over a 12 month period. For years the family instilled fear amongst the community and rival criminals portraying themselves as untouchable. In these fiscal times they bled the benefits system while leading a lavish lifestyle dealing drugs and laundering the profits. This investigation highlights the level of criminality that the Drug Squad & Payback Unit are continuing to target in the stance against Drug Supply on this borough.

I would like to personally thank both departments for all the hard work, determination and professionalism displayed throughout this enquiry. “

Ravenscourt Park playday to attract "thousands"

Thousands of children, parents and carers are set to attend Hammersmith & Fulham's annual Playday event in Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith on Wednesday 3rd August 2011, according to organisers .The event starts at midday & finishes at 4:00 pm.

As a trial for 2011, this summer's free event extravaganza will be in partnership with John Parnham Leisure who will have selected children's funfair rides and inflatable's free to play on Wednesday 3rd August between 12:00 Midday and 4pm.

They will remain in Ravenscourt Park until Sunday 7th August 2011 operating as a commercial funfair under terms agreed with H&F Council. Well done to all involved and good luck with the weather!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Get the tube to the tube

The excellent GoingUnderground blog has a story about a tube in Holland where passengers can jump on a slide instead of the stairs - why can't we have that?! Given that the Mayor and TFL didn't think giving disabled people access to the new Shepherd's Bush central line station was very important the least they could do would be to install a slide, surely?

Have a look at how this piece of technology works:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ken Livingstone: Shepherd's Bush Market should be saved, slams Council

Pie & Mash for Ken
Ken Livingstone told me today he suspected personal relationships were at work between Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh and the men in charge of Orion, the developers set to demolish the row of historic shops on Goldhawk Road as part of the redevelopment of the Market.

Over a plate of pie n mash, what else, at Cookes' Pie & Mash shop which has stood on the site for the best part of a century, Livingstone insisted to me that "distinctive parts of London" should be preserved. He decried the plans to demolish the row of shops and suspected that the personal relationships were at work between the men at the top of our Council and Orion the developers - why else, he asked, would the Council have changed their procedures to accommodate Orion?

Ken chats to Traders
In response to my opinion that the Market definately needed regeneration the Labour candidate agreed, but said that there were allternatives that did not involve what he called "flattening everything". The current plans were not real regeneration and would only lead to a boutique market, without the area's present character, he said. He urged those Market traders and shopkeepers determined to resist our Council, who themselves have won a judicial review into the plans, to find an architect to work pro bono to come up with alternative plans that would presrve the existing buildings.

One of the owners of the Pie & Mash shop explained to Mr Livingstone, and Andy Slaughter who had made the visit with Ken, that the shop had been in her family since 1934 and she saw no reason why they should be evicted, and made to move into to what the developers call "improved" premises. Mr Livingstone sympathised but said that as a candidate he could not make pronouncements one way or the other over every planning decision before becoming Mayor if he won the election. He had to be fair, he said, before cheekily adding "but you can make a guess about where my instincts are going to be"

How the Council & Developers Orion want Goldhawk Rd to look - minus the shops
It now seems confirmed that Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh's promise, made at this meeting last December, to uphold the wishes of the tenants of those shops not to demolish them if that was their wish - is set to be quietly dropped.

Legal battles have already started in the court with the market traders and shop owners already having won a judicial review of the plans, which would see the current market placed underneath seven floors of luxury flats. There are no buildings of comparable size anywhere around, so the new tower would dominate both the market and its surrounding area.

Despite some wobbles in their campaign, the shopkeepers of the Goldhawk Road have already proved themselves to be formidable opponents to our Council and Orion. And we saw with the ruling on Shepherd's Bush Green recently that the Council can be forced to curtail at least some of it's excesses in court. So perhaps this unique corner of the Bush isn't doomed just yet.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Police release images in appeal for violent Shepherd's Bush robber

 Police are releasing cctv images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with an attempted robbery in Shepherds Bush.

Detectives from Hammersmith and Fulham are appealing for witnesses and information following an attempted robbery which took place on Thursday 14th April at approximately 17:15hrs along Kelmscott Gardens, W12.

The victim, a 17year old male was approached by the suspect who went through the victims pockets demanding his property. The victim pushed the suspect away at which point the suspect punched the victim and ran off empty handed.

The suspect is described as a Somali male, slim build, F511, short black hair wearing a light blue adidas hooded top and blue jeans.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Johnson based in the Crime Squad at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2351 or to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Warnock given paltry £1.25m transfer budget is reporting that QPR Manager Neil Warnock has been given peanuts with which to protect the club's premiership status. Confirming the amount, which would struggle to purchase more than one decent player of sufficient calibre, Mr Warnock said to TalkSport:
"I was disappointed but it's not the end of the world. It would have been nice to have money to spend but it's just another one of those things in my managerial career where I have to show what I can do. 
"I look at the players I've brought in, Bothroyd and Dyer, and if I can get three or four more players of that quality, I'll be more than happy. I'm not despondent. I'd love money, every manager wants money. But it's not all doom and gloom."
That's what so many of us like about Warnock - he's ever upeat and a can-do manager. But this has surely got to be yet another sign if any more were needed that the current Board has got to go. They have hiked prices so far that many fans cannot afford to go anymore and driven out the one sane member of the Board that actually seemed to understand what the club was about.

Last time I spoke to Mr Warnock it was clear that he was in no illusions about the scale of the task ahead, and now he's been hamstrung financially, by some of the richest men in the world, his task has been made ever harder. Anyone would think they were trying to set him up to fail so they could bring in an Italian manager early in the season.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Council accused of spending your money on West Ken propaganda

Well, as expected, the Council nodded thorugh a £15 million exclusivity deal with developers CapCo last night in the teeth of opposition from most of the residents. But the real story of the night, as I predicted here, was their use of our money to bus in and co-ordinate a small group of residents who themselves seemed very confused about why they were there.

Speaking to them LibDem Paul Kennedy said:
"Several of them told us they were campaigning to save their homes, so we thought for a while they must be campaigning against the development. They didn't seem to realise that they were being used for propaganda by the Council and developers who want to demolish their homes."
But the real ire for the Council's tactics came from the West Ken residents themselves who have accused H&F of using taxpayers money to "orchestrate a bogus campaign". Here's community organiser Jonathan Rosenberg:
"Last night, having produced and circulated a notice on its behalf, Hammersmith & Fulham council officers assembled an unrepresentative and unelected group in the local hotel, issued them with T shirts and instructions, finalised and printed their deputation statement, packed them onto a minibus (presumably also hired by the Council), took them to the town hall where they organised them to pose for a photo, and then accompanied them into the meeting". 
Unlike our 80% petition and two-thirds sign-up verified by our Solicitor, which we showed to the Cabinet, this group was unable to evidence any support, and justified demolition with the unfounded allegation that it's no longer possible to buy a pair of children's shoes in Fulham. To its consternation several of their small number joined us in cheering and clapping our deputation. 
The Council’s use of money and resources to orchestrate a bogus campaign to separate neighbour from neighbour is an abuse of power, is improper, and is not a purpose for which a local authority may act. Councils have a duty to promote wellbeing and cohesion, not to stoke up division in communities. 
We intend to expose this disgraceful and cynical subversion of democracy, and to press home our demand for the Council to organise an independent ballot of residents so the community can vote for themselves on whether they want redevelopment or would prefer to take over their homes"
WEDNESDAY UPDATE -  H&F Council has been in touch to refute the accusations in their entirety. Here's a statement they sent me this morning:

Council officers did not meet anyone at a nearby hotel, nor did they provide t-shirts or leaflets. They did not brief residents on what to say. All of the campaigners in favour were estate residents. They knocked on the doors and delivered the leaflets themselves.

Maureen Way and the other residents who came on Monday night spoke very passionately, organised their own support would take great offence at any suggestion that the council orchestrated it. While the Council understands that there are a large number of residents on the estate who remain unconvinced about the merits of regeneration, there are also a large number of people on the estate who want to see change and want to see new homes built.

Residents on the estate have established their own independent steering group. The Council will provide funding to enable them to represent and negotiate on behalf of other residents. Membership of the steering group is open to anybody who lives on the estate who wants to be part of the negotiation.
Any future land agreement with EC Properties will be on the condition that a series of council tenants, leaseholder and freeholder guarantees, negotiated with an 80-strong resident steering group, can be met. 

These include:
  • Brand new, modern homes in the development area for all secure council tenants
  • Council tenants will be moved with neighbours where possible and will only have to move once
  • Compensation for tenants, leaseholders and freeholders
  • Discount schemes for resident leaseholder and freeholders who want to buy back into the scheme
  • Early buy-out clauses for resident leaseholders and freeholders

H&F Councillor accused of "dishonesty"

Harry Phibbs, a local Conservative Councillor who is also a journalist has been accused by ex No 10 Communications Chief Alastair Campbell of dishonesty. It seems Mr Phibbs was in the audience of a local government awards ceremony to which Mr Campbell had been invited to speak, and by the accounts of the editor of the Municipal Journal (who organised the awards) as well as Mr Campbell himself, Mr Phibbs decided to do rather a lot of loud heckling.

"Politician shouts from seated position" is hardly front page news but hours later Cllr Phibbs started to produce a stream of invective on Twitter labelling Mr Campbell a liar for what he allegedly said about Free Schools and the plans of Education Secretary Michael Gove. See pic above.

And after that, a diary column appeared in the Evening Standard, which Cllr Phibbs apparently helps to write, criticising Mr Campbells speech for failing to address the issues facing local government and for comments made about Mr Goves.

The only problem with all that, was that it wasn't true. As far as the organiser of the awards was concerned, Mike Burton, the editor of the Municipal Journal, Mr Campbells' speech had been fine and had not included the things that Cllr Phibbs said it did. So he wrote to the Evening Standard's diary column to correct it. But the letter was never published.

Shortly afterwards Alastair Campbell himself was asked to pen a column for the Standard so he included a reference to the criticism from our own Cllr Phibbs. Here's what he had to say:
‘The Standard’s Londoner’s Diary recently reported that I was heckled during a speech I made to the Municipal Journal’s Local Government Awards. The MJ editor has written to the paper explaining that the sole heckle came from Tory frother Harry Phibbs who writes for the, er, Londoner’s Diary. Journalist makes his own news shock. The letter hasn’t been published so thanks for the opportunity to point this out.’
But guess what?! Just like the Fulham Chronicle's recent censorship of Andy Slaughter, Mr Campbell's column was published but with the above paragraph removed by the censor's pen.  Could that pen have been wielded by a certain H&F Councillor?!

I have asked Cllr Phibbs for his version but at the time of writing have received no response, if I get one I'll publish it. To do anything else would be to censor - and that, of course, is dishonest.

FRIDAY UPDATE - Harry has been in touch and heere's his response. Fairly categoric, I'd say:
"The Londoner's Diary item was quite accurate - there were several others at the event who thought Campbell's speech was partisan and inaccurate. Londoner's Diary didn't name me as the heckler but I would have been perfectly happy if they had - my heckle was no secret as I had tweeted about it.

It is ludicrously precious for anybody whose copy gets cut to complain of "censorship." Of course I wasn't consulted about it. But I notice that a word count of what was published by Campbell by the Standard comes to 816 words. According to his blog he was asked to write 800.

If he hadn't wanted the subs to cut an item he shouldn't have rambled on so much".

So there!

Angry gambler trashes Shepherd's Bush Ladbrokes

Police are appealing to the public to help identify a man they would like to speak to in connection with criminal damage in Shepherds Bush.

On Thursday 30th June at approximately 15:39hrs at Ladbrokes in the West 12 Shopping Centre, W12 a man kicked a playing machine and then threw a chair at the playing machine which broke.

The male is described at a black man, about 5 feet 2 inches, approximately 25-30years wearing a white stripped t-shirt and trousers.You can see the frustrated gambler pictured above (click the image for a larger view)

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Hammersmith & Fulham CCTV unit on 0208 246 2620 or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Demo and counter demo at Town Hall tonight

News reaches me that there will be two demonstrations outside the Town Hall this evening as the Cabinet meets to consider plans for the West Kensington Estate. You'll recall that the Council wants to demolish the estate as part of the Earl's Court redevelopment in partnership with developers CapCo. There's a lot of serious cash at stake.

But there are also 760 families whose homes are also at stake and the majority of residents are vehemently opposed judging by their campaign which almost forced the Council to be evicted as a "rogue landlord" under new Government legislation. Those residents are now accusing our Council of taking what they call a "£15 million bribe" from developers

The payment – made up of a £5 million deposit and a further £10 million, which is refundable – is a down-payment to reserve the estates exclusively for one developer so they can be demolished as part of the proposed Earl’s Court redevelopment. And that's what's set to be voted on tonight.

Scores of residents will travel to Hammersmith Town Hall to attend the meeting, which starts at 7pm. Outside they are planning to unfurl a scroll with 25 feet of signatures against demolition, and show the forms signed by residents from two thirds of households applying to join a new association to take over their homes and secure them against our Council's plans.

Once inside the meeting, which they have a right to attend, they will address the Cabinet members. But let me predict what will happen next - they will then be excluded by security so councillors can make what the campaigners claim may well be an unlawful decision in secret.

So before Cabinet members close the doors on the public to make their decision, resident Shirley Wiggins will say:
"Because we’re proud of our neighbourhood, we are steadfastly determined to stop you and your developer associates from wrecking our estates, destroying our community and separating neighbour from neighbour so that you and the developer can enrich yourselves and make huge profits at our expense.  
This Council has set itself against the whole thrust of Government policy. You are putting the interests of your developer associates, and the profits it hopes to make to make, in front of the interests of local people.  
We are determined to proceed with our application to take over the estates, establishing community control of the area now, and not in 20 years time when the community has been shattered and our homes destroyed.
We call on you now to act responsibly and to do what is right. Say no to £15 million for demolition: give us the power to determine our own future in line with Government policy; and co-operate with our use of the law to take community control of our neighbourhood!"
But what's this?! There will also be a counter demo of residents who have emerged in support of the plans, who I am told are staffed and funded by the council and chaired by a man called Harry Audley from White City. That's right, White City. Not West Ken. Their stirring poster is pictured left. 

So as the demonstrators chant and wave placards, some home made and some, er, not, an equally farcical procedure will take place inside the Town Hall where after some bluster from councillors the Cabinet will vote through the plans regardless. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we do democracy in Hammersmith and Fulham. Pyongyang style. 

Oxjam Shepherd's Bush: The take-over starts now

Shepherd's Bush is the land of the take-away given our thousands of fried chicken emporia but Oxfam is launching a month-long take-over in October and it looks set to transform the Bush into a land of music and good causes.

Oxjam is Oxfam's month-long music festival. It runs all through October with hundreds of events around the UK, all organised by volunteers who know and love their local music scene, all raising money to save lives around the world. You can get more info on their facebook page and Twitter feed.

But the fun starts here - the first fundraising event of the Oxjam Takeover, a Pub Quiz, will take place at the Defectors Weld the week after next Thursday 28th July at 8pm. At a cost of £5 each to play, teams will be made up of 5 and the bods at Oxjam tell me there are great prizes to be won with all proceeds going into the pot, which goes to Oxfam after the October Take Over is complete.

Stand up/comperes have been announced for the night to present in the form of Luke McQueen and Rachel Stubbings... two rising stars of the stand-up circuit who "..pride themselves on their unique and remarkably immature outlook on life, love and relationships".  (I think that means there might be jokes about sex)

The organisers say that "Luke and Rachel have what is known as a love/hate relationship (Luke loves Rachel, Rachel hates Luke) but for some reason they make a couple cuter than a truck load of kittens". Hmm, while reviewers have described:

"Intriguing, innovative comedy" - Timeout

"An unusually high standard of innovation and comic writing" – The List

The month promises to boast a series of performances around W12 including music, comedy and other acts in a range of venues. Details are sketchy at the moment but I'm promised more info soon so for the time being pencil a bit of fun into October. And here's a taste of what Oxjam Brixton was like last year - get the rap lyrics about how this guy loves his locale!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Multiple stabbings on Uxbridge Rd: Police chaos

Three stabbings have taken place up and down the Uxbridge Road this evening, each at around 6pm. This would account for the police helicopter that was hovering over the area for at least an hour at around that time, which several of you reported to me and which I saw myself.

There are at the moment police officers in Shepherd's bush that have been drafted in from East London due to the seriousness of the situation that is taking place here, and there is set to be a heavy presence particularly on the Uxbridge Road for the rest of tonight.

The situation this evening is still unclear but I have been told by one police officer that the three took place so that much I do know. But what is deeply worrying is the extent of police chaos and frankly incompetence I have also seen on display this evening.

I was referred by one Officer to Shepherd's Bush police station where I was told the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) were talking to the public concerned by what has happened. When I got there the door was sealed off with a large white wooden board and had a notice with a telephone number on to contact. So I rang it. The number, ladies and gentlemen, is incorrect. So, in other words, we have a series of stabbings which means witnesses will be at a premium - they might well think going to the local police station would be the place to go. But it's shut and the number is duff.

I have also just approached members of the Shepherd's Bush SNT who I met on the Bloemfontein Road. After introducing myself to one of the Constables I was answered with "nah, I'm not telling you nuffink" as he barged his way past. He is PC 5173.

When I spent a Saturday night with these guys the other week, which thankfully didn't involve PC 5173, I was genuinely impressed by the dedication, skill, sensitivity and intelligence that was on display. There was an incident but in the grand scheme of things it wasn't that serious. This incident very much is, and I have to say watching their haphazard response this evening I am not filled with confidence.

2330 UPDATE - I understand from a witness that one of the stabbings took place on the corner of Hetley Road and Uxbridge Road.

2335 UPDATE - A reader who is also a police officer has sugggested that the number 5173 suggests that PC 5173 is in fact a "Special Constable" - somebody who works for free in their spare time but usually because they want to be a full time police officer.

If you know anything to share with your fellow Bushers use the comments section as usual

SUNDAY UPDATE - I understand that three people were wounded in the separate attacks, two of whom are teenagers, and that the police are treating the incidents as potentially linked. More to come.

1400 SUNDAY UPDATE - The police have been in touch about the dodgy telephone number on display last night. Here's what a spokesman had to tell me:
"The telephone number on front of police station is incorrect. We have failed to update the number which has recently changed"
Er, right. The spokesman asked me to highlight that the non emergency telephone number for police is 101.Happy to do that. More details on the way...

1530 SUNDAY UPDATE: A police spokesperson has now given me a full statement of the events of last night. Here is what he said:
"Regarding the evening of 16th July 2011.

At about 5.05pm a 16 year old male was stabbed at 248 Uxbridge Road W12. Police attended within 2 minutes of receiving the call. Male at scene had received serious but not life threatening injuries and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

At approximately 6pm a 21 year old male was found on Uxbridge Road with a serious cut to his face. Police assisted the male and he received hospital treatment.

At about 6.50pm a 15 year old male received stab wounds in Emlyn Gardens W12. He was taken to hospital and released soon afterwards.

These crimes are being treated seriously. Any information regarding these incidents should be directed to DC Downes at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2432, please quote crime reference 6015207/11.

Information can be given anonymously via Crime Stoppers who can be contacted on 0800 555 111.

Non emergency enquiries with Police can be made by dialling 101."
I've also had the chance to talk to the Safer Neighbourhood Team about some of the criticisms I made last night, in particular of Officer 5173. The off-duty police officer/blog reader who suspected he was a Special Constable was right, he is. And I've been politely told that he doesn't necessarily want to be a full time officer but is instead trying to make a contribution to his local community.

It was pointed out that this is not unlike what I am trying to do with this blog. And to be honest, he has a point. It's a lot easier to write this website than deal with people running about with knives - so although I still think he could have handled it a little bit better, I do have a huge amount of respect for both him and others who are giving up their time to make our streets safer.

And the officer I have just spoken to concedes the phone number being wrong was a bit incompetent - it's fixed now.

What I also hope happens as the mainstream media catch up with this incident on monday is that we see a bit less sensationalising from the Chronicle. One of their journalists has already been describing a 16 year old knifing victim being hospitalised as a "drama" as he breathlessly relayed some of the story today. And after the last stabbing on Vespan Road another of the Chronicle's team saw fit to boast on Twitter, while the incident was still unfolding, that they had been "first with the local news" - which translates as they got there before I did. Not what was foremost in most people's minds at the time.

I write this blog because I live here, and what happens here affects not just me but friends and family. So I would just ask those who try to report on our community, which they are not part of themselves, to do so with a bit more thought about what it is they are actually reporting - we don't need to be whipped up, people are worried enough as it is with what seems to have been a spate of similar incidents recently.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Free cycle security marking - Wednesday 20th

Free cycle security marking will be available outside Shepherd's Bush police station on Wednesday between 4pm and 7pm, courtesy of the Askew Safer Neighbourhood Team & Cycle Task Force.

I plan on getting this done and advise you to do so as well - despite the sometimes innovative methods used by local rozzers against bike thieves it remains one of the most complained about crimes in the Bush, which means it continues to be rife. With the bike being marked it becomes harder for thieves to sell them on making it less attractive to do, and of course easier for police identify their rightful owners. 

Stop by and say hello - and read my account of a Saturday night out with them in W12 to get an idea of what they get up to to make our streets safer.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

£200K gold bars and coins stolen in Brook Green

Police are appealing for information following a burglary in Brook Green, down the road from the Bush towards Hammersmith, on tuesday that netted a haul of gold coins and bars worth nearly £200,000.

Police were called on Tuesday 12th July at approximately 12:38hrs to the Brook Green area in Hammersmith.

Anyone who recognises the gold, pictured, or may have any information is asked to contact DC Owen Coulson based in the Burglary Squad on 0208 246 2678 or to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

No arrests have as yet been made and Police are continuing their enquiries.

Child memorial on the Green

In the last couple of weeks a sad looking memorial to what appears to be a little girl has appeared with flowers and a teddy bear tied to a lamppost - anyone know what it's about?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Saturday night assault: Godolphin Road W12: two arrests

Thanks to those of you who wrote to me about this, some of you were concerned that the Police had taped off the end of the road. Coming after more serious incidents this understandably provoked some local anxiety particularly for those of you who live there.

This is the statement I have just received from the Police:
"Officers found two males in their 20s and 50s with facial injuries. It is believed the males had been assaulted. 
The males were taken to a West London Hospital. Their injuries are not beloved to be life changing or threatening".  
"A 24year old male and a 20year old male have been arrested and bailed to return to a West London Police Station".  
"Enquiries continue".

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Me doing the day job

For those of you with half an hour to spare and an interest in armed conflict in central Africa - here's me doing the day job in Parliament this morning!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Shepherd's Bush gets new football centre at Hammersmith Park

An artists' impression of the new park
A multi-million pound football centre, with significant free use for local residents, is set to be built in Shepherds Bush.

The council is set to appoint Sport and Leisure Group Ltd to construct 11 astroturf pitches and one basketball zone at Hammersmith Park.

The new, £2.1 million site will replace the park's existing all-weather pitch which has fallen into a state of disrepair with the fabric turf falling out and the fences in need of replacement. The facility is the only available community pitch in the Shepherds Bush and White City area and the council is responding to residents who have asked for improvements to be made.

If the Council's Cabinet agrees to appoint Sport and Leisure Group Ltd (trading as at Cabinet on July 18, a planning application could be submitted late summer with the new pitches open to the public in Spring 2012.

The new facility will include eight five-a-side pitches and three seven-a-side pitches to ensure a variety of groups can be catered for. In addition to the free basketball area, registered local residents will also be given substantial free use of one-five-a side pitch and one seven a side pitch.

A pavilion, café and car park will also be built which suitably fits into the surroundings of the park.

Cllr Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents' Services, said:
"This is a absolutely fantastic deal for Shepherds Bush and White City residents. The council has managed to secure £2 million to be spent in Hammersmith Park at zero cost to the taxpayer in return for a state-of-the-art soccer centre that local people will be able to use for free. Residents have been asking us to upgrade the obsolete all-weather pitch for several years and we are sure that they will be delighted with the new complex.

"Hammersmith & Fulham is one of the sportiest boroughs in London and we are delighted that Hammersmith Park will soon have first class sports pitches."
As part of the deal, the council will be removing the poorly-used bowling green at Hammersmith Park which is used by the visually impaired bowlers of the Metro Blind Sport club. These bowlers have been transferred to Ravenscourt Park - a move which they have embraced.

Bill Reynolds of Metro Blind Sport said:
"We are all delighted with the move. We were based at Hammersmith Park for about eight years and were the only people using the green. The facilities at Ravenscourt Park are far better and everyone there is very friendly and welcoming."
Hammersmith Park, a stones throw away from Queens Park Rangers Football Club, has undergone a radical transformation recently. The park's historic Japanese Garden has been refurbished with new Japanese-themed natural and adventurous play installed to provide a continuous play trail across the whole site.

A climbing forest has also been created and three large spectacular play mountains also have been built. The council has built a hedge maze that is proving to be hugely popular with children. The maze was the number one suggestion when the council asked youngsters what they would like to see in the park.

I have to say after what seems like an eternity of reporting bad news stories about our community this is a welcome change - well done Council and well done everyone else involved in bringing it about. Every time I pass through that park there seems to be groups of young lads training with a ball - fantastic that they'll have somewhere top class to hone their skills properly.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Thugs attack cyclist - on YouTube

Do you know these violent morons? The attack took place in Bexley Village, south east London, on or around the 21st June. The attack took place against cyclist Simon who gives a full account of the attack - and the police incompetence that seems to have followed - on cyclist forum here.

Given that most of you live in West London it's highly unlikely you'll recognise either of the morons but just in case...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Shepherd's Bush Festival: we need it!

The Shepherd's Bush Festival returns to W12 this August and will surely be one of the last major events to take place on the Green before that public space is re-shaped permanently. What better way to see the old face of the Bush out, and welcome the new in.

To me the aims of this Festival reflect what I like best about living here - the fact that through music, food and sport workshops people can reach across barriers of language or culture. It's only a one day event but some of the darker things that have cast a shadow over Shepherd's Bush have shown us just how much we need that around here at the moment.

At the festival you'll have the chance to try out many of those things for yourself - drumming workshops, food tasting and even sports.

And sorry to dwell on a negative for a moment but let me explain what I mean. In the weeks that followed the Lakeside Road shooting in which a young man died I wasn't sure what I found most depressing as someone not immediately affected. Either that someone had been killed or the debate that many of the residents of that part of the Bush took part in on this blog about why it was happening - which showed very clearly indeed that there were groups in our community who even live next door to each other who completely fail to understand each other. Part of the answer to that is how we respond to crime, but far more fundamentally it is how we live alongside each other in a very crowded place.

So to return to the positive - we have in one smalll part of London one of the most diverse populations anywhere in the world. In the streets around you there are people from every continent and almost every country speaking hundreds of languages. It's the sort of mix nowhere else can lay claim to and though it throws up problems it is also the reason you can buy what you can buy in the market and the shops around.

But to make the most of it we need to talk to each other. So on one day in August, the 13th between 1pm and 7pm, get yourself down there and enjoy it. Check out what's on offer here. I will leave you with a video of one of last year's acts - well worth checking out.

Olympia tube line: Tube boss to face Bushers

Andy Slaughter, our MP, has managed to persuade Richard Parry, boss of London Underground, to face local people about the imminent closure of the district line service to Kensington Olympia. On his website Mr Slaughter says that the Council is at sixes and sevens about whether or not they are in favour of the line closing, with some councillors apparently campaigning in both directions.

The meeting with Mr Parry is at 7pm on Tuesday, 26 July in the Pillar Hall of Olympia.

I had a different impression of our Council's appraoch to this and reported here how I thought the Council had actually done well in persuading TfL to listen to local people - but was then sent numerous opinions to the contrary from campaigners against the closure of the service who felt that the Council had not listened nearly enough to their concerns. They were equally unimpressed with Kensington and Chelsea, the neighbouring authority.

Either way, make a date in your diary if you are in any way concerned with the changes to the District Line service - the most important audience is Mr Parry who has the power to make the final decisions.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

My evening: the 7/7 memorial

Today has felt strange from start to finish. A frenetic pace to the day at work and then yet another stabbing nearer to home, the hours rushed past in a whirl and all of a sudden it was evening. Then the news that the Screws was disbanding, cue loads of rolling coverage and generally excitable news programmes all trying to out-do each other. A busy, crowded day with not much time to think. Or to pause. Or to reflect.

Yet this day six years ago it was also shaping up to be a busy frenetic day. I was Head of Campaigns for a deafness charity and was struggling to make it into the office on time. The boom I heard echoing down the tunnel at Liverpool Street, from what I now know to be the train in front of me which had just left the platform, did not really register other than to be one of those many sights and sounds of the capital that Londoners become inured to in our daily rush.

Then the sirens, then the crowds, then the blackened faces, and then the fear. And all mixed in like a kaleidoscope that kept getting shaken.

So this evening, unplanned, I went to Hyde Park. To the memorial that has been there for the last few years and which I run past regularly in the mornings. Nobody else was there but by the look of the bouquets of flowers many had been earlier today. One from the Prime Minister, another from the Mayor. But then one from the family of Karolina, of Helen and others of the equally busy people who never made it to the end of the finishing line of their races that day. 

The grass had been specially mown and by all accounts there had been a small respectful ceremony. Nothing major. Just dignified. I hope it meant something to the families. Just a few metres away was a boy playing by the tree with his baby brother - the elder one looked about five or six years old. To him this is already history and belongs in a book. 

What I found most depressing about the memorial however was a wreath in the shape of an English flag. It had been left there by the racists of the so-called English Defence League, who routinely attack people and cause violence on our streets. It was precisely that mindlessness that led to the attacks of 7th July six years ago, but they will be too immersed in their hatreds to realise the bitter irony of that. 

But then I remembered the countless images of people who'd never met each other before, on that day, coming together and doing their best for each other without a thought for what divided them. And just weeks later on July 21st in Shepherd's Bush watching the shop keepers and stall holders close their businesses to help secure the Uxbridge Road and help people out, again without a second thought

By this time I was back in the Bush and walking down my street - and I caught sight of a sunset. It's another day tomorrow.

Stabbing on Vespan Road

The air ambulance made of its regular stops in W12 this afternoon when a young man believed to be in his 20s was stabbed on Vespan Road, just off the Askew Road. Here's what the Police have told me thus far:
We were called at 14:44hrs today Thursday 7th July by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) to reports of a male stabbed along Vespan Road, W12. 
Police and LAS attended. 
A male has been taken by air ambulance to West London Hospital where he remains in a stable condition. 
No arrests.
In the usual way if you know anything else use the comments section.

1730 UPDATE - a reader has said that an ambulance they spoke to described the victim as having been stabbed in the back twice. Nice. 

New Bush Theatre Director announced

Madani Younis, 31, the Watford-born son of a Pakistani Royal Mail driver and a Trinidadian teacher, will take over the venue which has a long tradition of promoting new writing, according to the Evening Standard.

The news, which follows the departure of Josie Rourke, is a welcome boost to the Theatre which is now housed in the old library building on Uxbridge Road and promises to bring a new focus to the theatre's work, grounded in the diversity that charecterises the Bush.

The new director describes himself as 'reflecting the reality' of modern society - and being based in the centre of one of the most multi-ethnic places in the UK, he's certainly an interesting and inspriring choice for our new theatre.

Madani Younis
Appointed in 2002 as the Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School, Madani staged seven productions for the company - Streets of Rage (2002); Silent Cry (2003 - regional, 2004 - national tour); Freeworld (2004 - an international collaboration with the Studio Theatre Damascus, Syria); Caravan (2005 - West Yorkshire Playhouse); Freefalling (2005 - Red Ladder Theatre Company, national tour); A Waiting Room for Journeying Souls (2005 - Peepul Centre, Leicester), and Doors (2007- Red Ladder Theatre Company, national tour).

He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007.

He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.

Madani Younis said today:
“I am delighted and honoured to be joining the Bush Theatre at this significant time in its history. During the past two years, through my work at Freedom Studios, I have had the privilege to build a strong working relationship with the Bush in supporting the development of new writers, and I look forward to continuing that work, and building the company’s future in its new home.”
Josie Rourke said:
“This is a deeply inspiring appointment at a big moment in the Bush’s history. I have been delighted with the Bush’s collaborations with Madani and Freedom Studios over the past two years. It’s wonderful to know that in its 40th year, and its new home, the Bush will receive such brilliant leadership”
 Nick Starr, The Bush’s Chair, said today,
“In Madani the Bush has found an Artistic Director with the confidence, vision and leadership to take the company forwards. It’s an exciting appointment and I very much look forward to working with him.”
Good luck, Madani. And look out for more on the blog about this soon.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Shepherd's Bush Police report - 115 rocks of crack seized, and a robber with socks

Operation Target, the London-wide crackdown on criminality, has continued unabated in W12 and here is a snapshot of what the rozzers have been getting up to in Shepherd's Bush in the last month. Following my night with the team a couple of weeks ago I can confirm this update provides both an insight into how needed they are, but also just how bizarre their encounters can sometimes be:


PCSO's have been handing out Crime Prevention leaflets and encouraging local residents to be more vigilant.

On 2nd July police received a call to a male acting suspiciously in a side street. Officers from Shepherds Bush Green SNT responded to the call. On arrival the suspect tried to decamp but was detained by police after putting up a violent struggle. He was searched and found to have two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers and had socks covering both his hands. The suspect was arrested for Going Equipped to Steal but local enquiries by another officer found a nearby premises that had been broken into and this male was also arrested for Burglary.

Violent Crime

The team have identified that a high volume of alcohol related violent crime was taking place around Shepherds Bush Green. On 27th June a known troublemaker was arrested for a public order/alcohol related offence. He was placed before West London Magistrates Court the following day who saw fit to approve a two years Anti Social Behaviour Order banning him from coming within 50 metres of Shepherds Bush Green for a period of 2 years.

Overall Team Results from 6th June to 3rd July
  • 189 stop and searches
  • 53 arrests
  • 378 alcohol seizures
  • 115 rocks of crack cocaine recovered
  • 35 bags of cannabis recovered
  • £5000 in counterfeit goods recovered
  • 500 litres of contraband alcohol recovered
  • 5 kilogram's of contraband tobacco recovered
  • 1 firearm recovered
  • Numerous other items of property used in the commission of offences have also been recovered

motorcyclist/car accident opposite W12 Centre

Breaking: more sad news of yet another road accident, this time involving a motorcyclist and a car. Details sketchy but coming in primarily by readers, so keep them coming. Have asked Police for a report.

So far one of you has told me:

"I rode past it on my bike just as ambulances arrived on scene; rider was down but seemingly conscious and stable".

Use the comments for more updates as and when in the normal way...

1030 UPDATE - The Police have confirmed to me that the rider is a woman and that she is basically OK. Here's what a spokeswoman had to say:
Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 09:28hrs to reports of a collision along the Uxbridge Road j/w Southern Roundabout, W12.

Female being treated for shock.

No Arrests.

Hammersmith cyclist who was run over blogs about experience

Alex Ingram, a local blogger from Hammersmith who was run over yesterday by two lads on a moped being chased by the police, has decided to offer us all a glimpse into what being a victim is all about. He was busily tweeting from his hospital bed in the hours after the incident and has reproduced all of his tweets in one place so you can read them as a story - he's called it "getting run over on Twitter".

Alex's experience raises serious questions both about why he was run over and whether the police were really taking the right level of risk by chasing this moped around Hammersmith roundabout, albeit without their lights on as Alex tells me, but he also makes the very valid point that there are a lot of other dangerous drivers out there, both legal and illegal.

Which is why the lot of a cyclist is always going to be a precarious one so long as we do not have proper bicycle lanes as they do on the continent, not these ridiculous blue stripes that don't even cover much of west London anyway. For the time being this blog will carry on asking for the installation of Trixi mirrors and the re-hashing of accident blackspots in the Bush, like the Uxbridge/Askew Road junction in the hope that we don't have any more cyclist deaths like this one in Hammersmith just months ago.

Credit to Alex for sharing his experiences with us. And best wishes from all of us.

1100 UPDATE - in a bizarre twist of fate the moped that ran over Alex was actually stolen from the boss of another of this blog's readers!