Friday, 30 September 2011

Askew Business Network evening

Put Thursday, 13th October: 6.00pm to 8.30pm at The Greyhound, 49 Becklow Road, W12 9ER in yer diaries to meet local business folk from the Askew Road as they hear from Mike Taylor, an expert on using online communications to reach potential customers. 

According to their website Mike Taylor, Director of All Things Digital at Tutti Communications is an SEO cynic who believes that when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation it's an industry built on smoke and mirrors in shark infested snake oil.

But as Head of Digital Strategy for Sky Movies he took their website from around 700k hits a month to over 10 million in just 18 months.

If you want to know how he did it come along to the next ABN session on Thursday 13th October.

All local businesses and residents are welcome.

About Mike

Mike Taylor spent more than 20 years as a journalist in newspapers and TV.

At Sky he launched the ground-breaking Sky News Active red button news service and in in 2001 he moved across the Sky lot to set up the digital division of Sky Movies, developing it for almost a decade before joining Tutti Communications as Director of All Things Digital.

Mike is a founder member of Electric House, Chair of BAFTA’s Digital Strategy and Communications Committee and a member of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers.

He lives just off the Askew Road with Paola, his wife, and their small scruffy white dog.

He is currently VERY excited about the Ginger Pig opening... "

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Police appeal - Serious assault outside tube


Our local Police are appealing for information following an unprovoked assault in Shepherds Bush

On Friday 23 September 2011, shortly before midnight, a 52-year-old man was assaulted in Shepherds Bush Green, W12 near Shepherds Bush tube station.

An altercation occurred on the footpath outside the central line tube station on Uxbridge Road where the victim received head injuries which have left him in a critical condition at a local hospital.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the offence and would like to trace a black male wearing a distinctive yellow polo t-shirt with black hoops and baseball cap who was seen running from the scene.

There has been no arrest at present.

Detective Constable Mark Breeze from Hammersmith & Fulham's Violent Crime Unit said:" This is a very serious incident in a busy area and I would appeal for anyone who knows anything about the assault to come forward."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Violent Crime Unit on 0208 246 2432. Alternatively to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Oxjam singles party in the Bush

Oxjam, who will be launching their musical take over of the Bush next month, are offering single Bushers the chance to come along to a pre festival event to find themselves a partner for the takeover, in an innovative singles night on Saturday 8th Oct at the Goldhawk Pub

Here's what their blurb says:

"Are you sick of never meeting new people? And when you do…you have a laugh, they’re fit… and then you quickly hear the ‘my boy/girlfriend…’ line? Boring. You won’t hear any of that at Love & War – one massive party – a party where everyone in the room is unattached. Not on the hunt and in need of silly games, they’re here just for the crack. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s it: One massive party . everyone’s single"

The Promise: One room, Cool DJs, Fine drink, Legendary music, Girls, Boys. And every one of them is single

Bonus: No rubbish games…

Go to http://www.wegottickets.com/oxjamshepherdsbush and simply click ‘buy tickets’ marked GIRL or BOY (we want to track your gender) pay £10 ticket and help fight poverty around the world. All proceeds go to Oxjam, Shepherd’s Bush Takeover. Turn up at The Goldhawk Pub, Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush from 8pm and let’s get this party started

*boys, yes, beer will be on tap and you can wear trainers*

**girls, wine and heels only**

**jokes, wear what you like but dress to impress for goodness sake***

Buy tickets from http://www.wegottickets.com/oxjamshepherdsbush

Door times: 8pm - late / Age limit: 25 and over

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Labour Party conference

I've been spending the last couple of days in Liverpool here at the Labour Party conference for the day job, and will be in Manchester talking to the Tories next week too. It's very much a different world - a bubble of a sort in which the tribe talks to itself and listens to speeches from its leaders aimed at geeing them all up.

Frankly for the non member that stuff is all a bit boring, but what certainly wasn't tedious last night was attending the Labour Friends of Palestine event, along with W12's MP Andy Slaughter, himself a leading light of the group.  First up to speak was an MP from Rochdale who thundered on about the Middle East in a thick yorkshire accent, but next up was the star of the night for me - the Ambassador of Palestine to the UK Manuel Hassassian.

He spoke against the backdrop of Palestine's application to the United Nations for independent statehood, and as he went on grew louder and visibly impassioned. 43 years of suffering was enough he declared, and the people of Palestine were no longer to be the objects of history but control their own destiny. It was passionate stuff, and actually very moving. 

There are equally impassioned views on the other side of the fence in Israel, the Jewish people having been the objects of history for thousands of years until they got their own state as well. But it was a glimpse inside the world as seen through the eyes of Palestinians and made you realise that actually, politics does matter sometimes.

Here's Andy Slaughter talking about the issue during the last General Election which I filmed as part of my coverage of the campaign:







Back in the Bush tomorrow when the blogging rate will pick up again!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sixty-Six Books, one hundred and thirty actors, one new theatre

Two hundred artists from across the World will be descending on W12 to ply their trade at the newly housed Bush Theatre next month in what's being described as an "epic performance cycle" centred on the King James Bible which is apparently 400 years old this year.


Inspired by this auspicious birthday the play "66 books" is set to be one of Artistic Director Josie Rourke's last acts at the Bush Theatre before she leaves for pastures new. And as part of the Theatre's admirable attempt to connect with the Bush anew this is being treated as another innovative way of inviting the audience to participate and learn more about the culture house we have on our doorstep - here's what they promise to their guests:
"Sixty-Six Books will begin and end with two epic twenty-four hour events on the 14th and 28th of October where you can experience all the sixty-six responses and spend the night exploring our new home from the attic to the cellar.  You can relax between shows in our front room, or party the night away at the new Bush bar. We'll keep you going with tasty food, drinks, and a special goodie bag".
 Sixty Six Books will run from the 10th-29th October.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dawn drugs bust in Becklow Gardens today - Police appeal


Our local Shepherd's Bush police team have carried out a significant dawn raid in response to information to suggest drug dealing was taking place in the area.

Officers from Hammersmith and Fulham's Drugs Squad conducted raids this morning, Thursday 22nd September in Shepherds bush following weeks of meticulous planning.

The intelligence led operation saw officers execute a drugs warrant under Section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 at Becklow Gardens, W12.

During the search they recovered cannabis, cash, digital weighing scales and other drug dealing paraphernalia.

A 33 year old man was arrested for Possession with intent to supply cannabis and bailed pending forensic examination.

Anybody with information about drugs crime is urged to contact police or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Bush Theatre review - Guardian

"From old Bush hands such as Alan Rickman we learn about the delights and difficulties of working on a stage the size of a double duvet; about the fire escape used for hurried fags before show time, and the dressing room so small that, not long ago, when a cast of five wanted to get some sleep between shows, one of them had to hunker down under the make-up bench".

So says Tom Lamont in his Guardian review of "this is where we got to when you came in", the last ever production to be staged at the Bush Theatre's old home above a pub on the Green. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

All you wanted to know about H&F Foodbank


27% of families in H&F live in poverty, and 50% of kids live in low income families - some of the sobering facts that accompany the news that the H&F Foodbank is coming to Shepherd's Bush.

I've been talking to Daphine Aikens, the manager of Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank, who work with local people in crisis without food or money to buy food. This may be for a variety of reasons including redundancy, benefit delay, ill health, low income, homelessness and debt. Sadly, with the cold winds of recession blowing through W12 at the moment, their services are likely to be even more in demand.

One of the Bush's many rough sleepers
It's not difficult to see the people in and around the Bush who are in this sort of trouble, as a walk across the Green or my Saturday night with the local Police recently confirmed, so the news that they are opening here has to be welcome. Here's what Daphine has to say - and please note the bit about how you can help:

"The Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust Network of Foodbanks, was launched last year in Fulham. Since then we have provided food parcels to over 800 people who live* in the Borough – from White City to Shepherds Bush to Fulham - that’s over 8,000 meals that people did not have to skip due to poverty".

"27% of people in the Borough live in poverty; 50% of children in Hammermsith & Fulham live in low income families – these are just a few of the statistics that motivate us at the Foodbank".

"Our primary objective is to meet the needs of those in the community who are in crisis – caused by benefit cuts/delays, low income, illness, domestic violence or unemployment. Clients are referred to us by frontline care providers using our voucher system. Each client is given a menu plan and enough food for 10 meals".

"All food is donated by the public via food collections held at supermarkets, churches, schools, and local businesses".

"We are currently based in Fulham and open twice a week (on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons) to distribute food via our café-style Distribution Centre. Hot drinks and home-made snacks are also served, and a listening ear provided by our volunteers, as well as signposting to other organisations and Agencies who might be able to help". 

"A third café-style Distribution Centre will be launched later this year at St Simon’s Rockley Road, Shepherds Bush, W14. This venue will allow us to be open a third time every week, allowing our clients more flexibility with regard to timing, and location. The new Distribution Centre will be run by a Supervisor who has experience at our Fulham site. However, we will be looking for a local volunteer to take over this role as soon as they are trained and have the support of a good local volunteer team which we are actively recruiting".

For more information or to enquire about food donations, volunteering and other ways in which you can help, please contact Daphine Aikens, the H&F Foodbank Co-ordinator by email: admin@hffb.org

*A handful of people who live just outside the borough were also given food at the request of a referring organisation.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Westfield expansion - planning application published


Will the Council hurriedly take this one down as well now that I am linking to it? Just a day after H&F Council reacted to this article on the Orion Shepherd's Bush Market application, which promises to demolish the Goldhawk Terrace of shops in spite of the fact that there is an outstanding Court hearing for judicial review, (not to mention a promise made by the Council Leader not to do so at this public meeting), by taking the whole thing down claiming that it was "deemed confidential", I bring you news of another recently published application.

This time it's the plan to build, build build lots of flats on the area to the North of Ariel Way under the White City Opportunity Area Planning Framework. A blog reader has pointed out to me that during the public consultation on this controversial development the figure of 1,700 homes was used - but it seems this application has increased that to a nice round 2,000.

And local argument centres on the extent to which these homes will be affordable or not - the Council started by saying "many" which was deliberately vague but then confirmed to me in response to this article that it would be 40%. But the opposition Labour group on the Council dispute this, claiming that there is a minimal real-terms increase given that many existing council tenants will simply be moved from one area of the borough and rehoused in the new development.

Here's what the application says in full:

Outline Planning Application (All Matters Reserved) for comprehensive redevelopment of site to comprise a mixed use scheme consisting of new additions and alterations to the existing shopping centre, erection of three new blocks (Blocks A, B & C) ranging from 8-20 storeys (plus basement level) connected to a podium (above existing ground level) to the north of the shopping centre, erection of an 8-12 storey free standing block (Block D) to the south of Wood Lane Station, erection of a building up to 8 storeys to the east of DIMCO Building (Block E), erection of a 4-5 storey addition to western wall of the existing shopping centre (Block F) adjacent to Wood Lane,  to facilitate the provision of up to 50,855 sqm  Class A1 (Retail), up to 5,070sqm Classes A3, A4 and A5 (Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, Hot-food Take-away use), up to 540sqm Class B1 (Offices), up to 1,520sqm Class D1 (Community use) and up to 1,758sqm Class D2 (Leisure use) floorspace (All Gross Internal Areas) and up to 1,646 (Class C3) residential units with associated private and communal garden areas and amenity spaces (including balconies/terraces), provision of an energy centre together with associated development including new and enhanced public realm across the site with new open spaces, pedestrian and cycle routes, vehicular access and servicing facilities, retention of existing bus station , stabling area and DIMCO buildings and the demolition of existing industrial buildings and associated structures, the closure and alteration of highways.

Either way you can takes a look yerself here on the Council's website - and this time I have taken a screen grab just in case they get freaked out and take it down again. (deep breaths)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Shepherd's Bush Market - Orion planning application published

Seven floors of luxury flats towering over the Market and surrounding streets came a step closer the other day with the publication of property developer Orion's planning application.

You can find it here on the Council's website.

The blurb says thus:


2011/02930/OUT: New Shepherd`s Bush Market Uxbridge Road London.

Outline Application: Outline planning application for comprehensive, phased redevelopment of Shepherd`s Bush Market and adjoining land to provide a mixed use development, involving demolition of existing buildings on site, provision of a maximum of 212 residential units (up to 27,793sq m) comprising a mixture of residential flats and mews style housing (along the Pennard Road boundary); a maximum of 14,050 sq m non-residential floorspace to include up to 6000 sq m of retail/market space (A1), 4000 sq m of food and beverage uses (A3/A4/A5) along with ancillary floorspace, landscaping and amenity/open space, vehicular access and servicing facilities, basement parking (for up to 85 vehicular and 457 cycle spaces), and associated works.


The "demolitions" the application talks about are a reference to the historic row of shops on Goldhawk Road, which Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh promised to preserve if the current occupants wanted him to at a public meeting. He appears to have since gone back on that promise, as has been the case with the Hammersmith King Street development too. In each case it appears the prospect of luxury flats and happy property developers trump the wishes of local people, even when you've given your word.

Is it any wonder people don't trust politicians any more.

All is not lost, however, with Ken Livingstone promising to make this an issue at the forthcoming Mayoral elections and the traders who inhabit the Goldhawk Road block themselves having obtained a Judicial Review, which as we saw with the proposed cuts to Sure Start, can be a way for local people to stand up to the Council and win. I'm told the Traders are expecting a court date towards the end of this month or early next.

Interesting times ahead.

1730 UPDATE - As some of you have spotted H&F Council have now taken the planning application down from their website in response to this article linking to it! Have they changed their mind and are now bowing to public pressure? Don't count on it - but I have written to their press team to get their take on why this has provoked them to go back behind the scenes again...you know where to come for local news folks...



TUESDAY UPDATE - The Council have, after thinking about it for 24 hours, given me a curious response to explain their decision to remove the planning application. Here's what a spokesperson has just told me:
 
“This webpage has been temporarily removed to allow the council to upload all of the relevant planning application documents onto the online system. Residents will be able to view the full application within the next few days.”
 
Well as you can see from the above it was pretty thorough anyway, and I should warn the Council that I have cached pages of what was on there beforehand - so it will be very interesting to see what is added - or removed - in the coming days. I also note no denial of the fact that it was this article and the interest in generated that led to the planning application being withdrawn!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Stabbing off A40 - Shepherd's Bush/East Acton

Hemlock Rod/Old Oark Rd - GoogleMaps image
A 21 year old was stabbed in W12 today in the area just off the A40, on the Flower Estate. An Air Ambulance was required and many of you reported to me that you'd seen numerous police cars and other ambulances. I wasnt in the area today so as ever I'm grateful for the reports.

I have spoken to the Police during the day who confirmed that a 21 year old male had been stabbed and that his condition in hospital was considered serious. They were not able to comment any further on the victim until  he had been examined properly, which had yet to happen at that time.

They also confirmed, explaining the heavy police presence many of you described, that several Police units are involved in the preservation of the scene and conducting the initial investigation.

I have also been told that witnesses are being spoken to now and forensic opportunities are being explored.

Clearly this is a developing situation so check back for more info as the weekend goes on. If you have any info use the comments section as normal.

TUESDAY UPDATE - POLICE APPEAL

The Police have just given me this rather disturbing account of the attack - a victim was stabbed in the back in an apparent robbery attempt. Nice.  

Police were called at approximately 15:10hrs on Saturday 17th September to reports of a stabbing in Shepherds bush.

The victim was walking along the A40 near the junction with Hemlock Road, W12 when a black male approached him on his bicycle and demanded his property then stabbed him in his back and then rode off.


The male was taken to a West London Hospital. His injuries are non life threatening.


The suspect is described as a black male, 17-20years, F600, medium build wearing a grey jacket, dark trousers with a grey hoody with a black stubble and an English accent.


Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Di Mascio based in the Violent Crime Unit at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2432 or to remain anonymous call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Shepherd's Bush Market in 1961 - colour pic!

This is a really amazingly good - and very rare - colour pic of our Market in 1961. I bring this to you thanks to reader Charles who is @eddy_ginger on Twitter. Send me more!!

Charles found it on this website based in the US. Click on the pic to get a bigger view.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

H&F "night hikers" raise funds for H&F Cancer Centre - sponsor them!

Maggie's Centre, Charing Cross Hospital
A blog reader, Laura, writes in to tell me about a "night hike" she and others are doing to raise funds for Maggie's Cancer Centre, which is based at Charing Cross Hospital. They will be covering 20 miles - at night - across London on foot to raise funds for this centre which relies on efforts like this.

The new Centre at Charing Cross Hospital in London is open to anyone affected by cancer in the capital. It is, according to their website, an uplifting, non-institutional space where people with cancer, their family and friends can access the support they need. Opening the Centre in 2008 Sarah Brown said:
“The opening of Maggie’s in London will provide a fantastic service for anyone diagnosed with cancer in the capital. These world-class designed Centres have offered professional support and information for people in Scotland and it is a tribute to this success that they have been invited to London and other locations in England and Wales”
Here's what Laura, the night hiker, is prepared to do to support it - surely worthy of a trip to her online donations page:

This coming Friday 16th September I will be joining a team of 7 friends and mums to take part in a 20 mile Night Hike across London in aid of Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres. The route starts at 8.15pm at Leadenhall Market and crosses London Bridge, passing Waterloo to cross Westminster Bridge, past Victoria, Hyde Park, Fulham and Hammersmith to loop back through Notting Hill and Holland Park to Oxford Street, via Charing Cross and Holborn and ending at St Pauls, sometime after 5am on Saturday. Anyone who has seen me take a ‘rest break’ halfway around Westfield, or heard my proposal for a travellator across Hyde Park will know that these types of event are not usually my style. Indeed, over the past few years I have watched many friends run marathons, jump out of planes and bathe in baked beans with the smug satisfaction that this kind of crazy event would never happen to me. And yet…

Maggie’s Centres are a cause that is close to my heart. The Centres are for anyone affected by cancer, and are places where people are welcome whenever they support – from just being diagnosed, or undergoing treatment, to post-treatment, recurrence, end of life or in bereavement. The centres also welcome family and friends, as they are often deeply affected by cancer too. Everything the centres provide is free of charge, so visitors can feel welcome to access support for as long as they need it. Maggie’s relies hugely on the Night Hike to raise funds to support their network of cancer centres across the UK. In 2010 Night Hikers raised over £700,000, an incredible amount and enough to fund two Maggie’s Centres for a year.

I know that some of you will receive many requests for sponsorship and fundraising during the year, but I’m hoping that one more time I can ask for your generosity to support this cause. Few people will have been untouched by cancer in some way during their lives and many will have relied on the charitable services provided by organisations like Maggie’s. My fundraising target is £300, but thanks to the fantastic generosity of Henderson, who have offered to match any amount raised, I only need to hit £150 to get there. So if just 50 of you were to sacrifice your daily £3 latte (I’m sure Starbucks can take the hit!) I would make my target in no time. Your gift can also be increased by 25% if you are eligible for Gift Aid, making any donation go much further.
I’ve set up a donation page with MyDonate who give the highest amount of any fundraising page to their charities, (£12.35 from a £10 donation with Gift Aid) and has no charges for the charity itself. If you would like to sponsor me, please click here https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/lauramccullough

Police appeal for info on W12 football thugs


Police have released photos of men they want to talk to in relation to fighting which took place around the British Queen Pub in January.

At approximately 12:45hrs, 120 Bristol City supporters began to gather in the Uxbridge Road, W12 and walked towards the British Queen Public House. Police dispersed the group to avoid any disorder.

In the build up to kick off time at 15:00hrs some incidents of minor disorder took place near the stadium involving rival supporters which were also dispersed by officers.

As the final whistle blew the majority of Bristol City supporters returned to their coaches, however approximately 20 supporters entered the British Queen Pub on Uxbridge Road. At approximately 17:30hrs up to 20 rival QPR supporters approached the pub, some carrying planks of wood as weapons. Several Bristol City supporters emerged from the pub carrying bar stools which were thrown into the crowd and serious disorder took place.

On police arrival several QPR supporters left the scene and the Bristol City supporters from inside the pub were safely escorted onto their coach and out of London.

Following the disorder, the Metropolitan Police Service set-up an investigation team to identify and arrest those involved, sending out a clear message that this type of violence will not be tolerated. To date eight supporters involved in the disorder have been successfully identified and are either subject to ongoing investigations or criminal proceedings.

If you recognise someone in these pictures or have information regarding the incidents please contact Fulham Police Football Intelligence Unit on 020 8246 2917 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

H&F launches "debtometer" to track progress against debt


H&F Council has oft-complained of the "debt mountain" it inherited from the previous Labour council, complete with glum-looking pics of Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, accusing their predecessors of racking up crippling levels of indebtedness that saw the council taxpayer forking out huge amounts in interest payments before any of their hard earned cash was left for vital public services.

This assault on what they termed Labour's profligacy helped propel them to a whopping majority at the Town Hall in the election before last, effectively wiping out the local Labour Party. Among those losing their seats that night was Labour Council Leader Stephen Burke, as the Tories swept to power with a majority of 20.

Since then their guiding light has been the mission, as they see it, to reduce the Council's debt and to do more for less, to use a mantra from David Cameron. When I reported on the Prime Minister's visit to the area during the General Election it was clear he viewed what was happening here as a blue print for the rest of the UK's approach to belt-tightening in the public services, as he spoke of his "pride" in what H&F were doing.

The controversies to follow have been inevitable with the selling off of what seems like every Council building apart from the Town Hall itself and the turfing out of numerous voluntary sector services that were housed within them. (To be replaced, as far as Paddenswick House is concerned in Hammersmith, with the West London Free School)

So it comes as no surprise that the Council wish to re-draw our attention to why all of this is happening - debt. And rather than be on the back foot about that, defensively justifying things, they quite understandably want to proclaim their war on debt as the good thing it is. hence the "debtometer"!

Launching the 'ometer, Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh says this:
"Nationally and locally we have seen the dangers of excessive debt and we are the only council in the country that is consistently cutting council tax and lowering the council's debt!

“Spending millions of pounds on costly interest repayments to the banks just to stand still is economic madness and is a ticking time bomb if interest rates rise – as they must do at some stage.

“Therefore our strategy for the past five years has been to reduce the council’s historic debt so that taxpayers’ cash, which had been spent servicing interest costs, can be redirected to protect frontline services like caring for the vulnerable, child protection, street cleaning, more Police, schools and parks. Only by cutting debt can we secure the strong financial future that the borough deserves and this year’s progress means we are on track.”
But local Labour Opposition Leader Stephen Cowan sees it rather differently, he has this to say:
"The Conservative Council’s financial plan fails to offer value to local people and demonstrates their economic illiteracy. They are cutting these borrowings by selling off important buildings such as people’s homes, child care centers, voluntary groups' buildings and libraries - as reported on this blog. Putting aside the right and wrongs of that for one moment, they’re doing this in the middle of an economic slump. That means these buildings are being sold off to property speculators at knock down prices during a period when the Council has record low interest rates to service their borrowings. That’s like a family buying a house at the top of the market, selling at the bottom of the market and having nowhere to live afterwards.

I was Deputy Leader of the Council in 2005/6. Back then, I reduced borrowings by more than the Conservatives have ever managed in any year since. But that was because the buoyant economic conditions, the council’s asset base and relative record property prices made it right for that policy then.

Because of the peculiarities of local government finance, the Conservatives actually only gain just over £30,000 into the revenue account for every £1 million building they sell off. Meanwhile, they are wasting £35 million on new unnecessary Town Hall of offices; wasted £5 million each year on propaganda; have recently admitted they’ve lost up to £4 million a year on unmanaged consultancy contracts and spend millions of pounds more than they need employing some of the highest paid bureaucrats in the country. In short, if they really want to find money for front line services they should get their own house in order before selling off our community assets to their friends in the property speculator sector."
 Harsh words - from both sides. And expect the controversies to rumble on.

Shepherd's Bush man given 4 years for sex assault

On Friday 9th September a Shepherd's Bush man was been handed an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection [IPP], with a minimum term of four years before parole can be considered, for committing a sexual assault on Erconwald Road East Acton in September 2010.

Ashley Myers, 23, of Hemlock Road, Shepherds Bush was convicted of sexual assault by touching and attempted penetration at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, 13 May.

Detective Constable Phil Dial of the Met’s Sapphire Unit said:
"Myers targeted the victim who was unknown to him and who did nothing to encourage his attention. It is possible there may be further victims’ of Myers that have not reported their allegations to police and I would particularly appeal to them to speak to us.
"I hope this conviction encourages any victims’ of sexual assault to come forward and speak to our specially trained Sapphire Officers, who can offer access to the appropriate support whilst carrying out their investigations sensitively."
At approximately 00.30hrs on Friday, 30 September the victim, 20, was coming out of East Acton Underground Station when she noticed a man looking directly at her and trying to speak to her as she walked by.

The victim ignored him and left the station, walking into Erconwald Street where she became aware of a man behind her with his hood up. Feeling uncomfortable she crossed over the road at which point the man grabbed her around the neck, as he did this the victim realised it was the same man.

He asked her how old she was before sexually assaulting her. She managed to push him away and carried on walking up the street whilst telling him to leave her alone.

The suspect continued to follow her for a distance of two streets, when she went inside an address to safety and he walked away.

The victim reported the assault shortly afterwards and following enquiries Ashley Myers was identified as a suspect and arrested on Thursday, 7 October.

He was later charged as above and committed for trial.

Hammersmith & Fulham police face £2.7 million shortfall next year

Hammersmith & Fulham's police force spent £38,552,190 last year. But figures released by the the Metropolitan Police under the Freedom of Information Act reveal their proposed budget for next year (2011/12) has been reduced to £35,808,174.

Local London Assembly member, Murad Qureshi, has spoken to me and described the cut as deeply worrying. Arguing that the recent looting, arson and riots in London should make the mayor and government think again, Murad said: 
"I'm deeply worried that slashing our local police will affect their ability to keep us safe and keep us feeling safe. We saw in August how important it is to have police on the streets when trouble hits. The mayor and the government should take note and reverse their police cuts." 
And the Police have responded to Murads' claims by telling me that having to find savings on such a scale is "extremely challenging" but they remain "committed" to keeping us safe. Not a ringing endorsement, really. Here's what a spokeswoman from Scotland Yard told me yesterday:
"The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) has been very proactive in seeking to identify savings from areas such as its estate, vehicles, contracts, etc. so that it can prioritise the continued delivery of operational policing services. 
In order to keep London safe it is necessary to maintain a balance of highly visible and publicly accessible uniform officers, and specialist investigators who have the additional skills to target rapists, child abusers, and drug and people traffickers amongst a wide range of other crimes. 
The MPS has delivered cumulative savings of £581m between 2008/09 and 2010/11. In addition, the MPS plans to make further savings this year of £163m.
Finding the £600million savings that we are likely to have to make by 2014/15 is extremely challenging but the MPS is committed to keeping the capital safe whilst it does so".
Well it would be worrying if the MPS was no longer committed to that, but you can read between the lines here without too much trouble can't you - they are not happy about the hand they have been dealt either, and talking to local police here you get a very similar message. Cutting front-line police numbers like this is fine ... until you have another round of rioting. Or the Olympics. 

But our Council has another take entirely. Lauding their claim to be supporting more 'town centre' police constables than before, Cllr Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Services, says: 
“Beat bobbies beat crime and, despite the nationwide spending squeeze, we have found a way to improve our town centre squads by putting more PCs onto the front-line than ever before. This will give us some of the best Policed town centres in Britain.”
Which all sounds great - but the simple fact is that the Shepherd's Bush Safer Neighbourhood Team has been cut. Constable numbers have gone up from 10 to 13 but Police Community Support Officers have gone down from fifteen to six. And before people say "only" PCSOs - here's what I saw them do one Saturday night in the Bush for a frightened victim of crime in W12.

So three different opinions - one a politician with an interest in bashing the Government, another politician with an interest in putting the best possible spin on things and then the police caught in the middle. And it's them I think we should be listening closest to.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Boris backs Super Sewer

The Mayor of London has delivered a slap across the cheeks to our Council in his Daily Telegraph column, claiming that the Thames Tideway Tunnel, or "super sewer" as our Council likes to dramatically call it, i svery much the only show in town.

The Mayor says: "This new super-sewer is the right thing to do for the environment – and it is above all the right kind of thing to do for a country still struggling to get back to growth". He goes on: "it is largely a question of vision, and of political will".

Well it's very much not the will of H&F Council and this diary entry will likely not be going down very well this morning in Hammersmith Town Hall. But it seems Mr Johnson, after getting on the fence in the face of sustained lobbying from both H&F and Wandsworth, has decided to get back off it and nail his colours to the mast. The sewer, it seems, is very much on. 

H&F Council featured in "Rotten Boroughs" column - again

Read it and weep.

Click on the image for a readable version. 

Auditors Deloitte have found that our Council, who regularly champion their value for money, have in fact been "badly wanting" in several areas of how they manage tax payers money, resulting in large payouts to consultants that should never have been made.

This follows regular appearances in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column, such as this one.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Wormholt Park Centenary: Report


A success by anyone's standards, the park was filled yesterday by people who in many cases were venturing into the park for the first time with the intention of staying there rather than walking through or past it. It is a park, as one of the Friends of Wormholt Park said to me, that hasn't had a great deal of care lavished on it in recent years. Yesterday showed just what could be achieved by a hugely dedicated band of volunteers who wanted to turn the green space into something special.

Setting up the history corner
Themed on 1911, this was after all the year the park opened its doors, there were volunteers in Edwardian dress while others charted the history of the park in less fancy dress but no less fancy facts, figures and photos as some of these images of the Bush from days gone by show.

Shepherd's Bush Road - 1905 (mind that sheep)
And there was the Bush of today, with the local police cadets running a free (yes, free!) bouncy castle for the kids. And on the subject of bouncy castles, of which I am something of an expert, I have to say I have never seen such a well behaved bunch of kids using one, which I am sure had nothing to do with the burly policeman sitting just outside.

Shepherd's Bush Green c1900
Local businesses did a brisk trade, including new start ups Queen of Hearts Cupcakes and old favourites the Queen Adelaide pub. Even the Army careers office put in an appearance, but they didn't seem to have a very long queue of ready recruits.



And what about the West London Choir, who you can see in the vid above. Conducted by a woman who seemed to have more energy than a child who'd overdosed on fizzy drinks, she cajoled and chivvied up the choir members into belting out a few old favourites with much gusto.

Queen Adelaide Pub c1900
I would estimate that there were at least 500 people in the park at the time I left, and that was only a couple of hours after it had opened, with more streaming through the doors as the sun came out properly. They had a good few hours under the sun before it turned a bit manky weather-wise but the important point for me was the number of conversations between people I saw and heard who in most cases lived streets or even doors away but had never properly spoken to each other - London life writ large. That's why events like this, and the work that the Friends of Wormholt Park have done and plan on carrying on - more of that later - is so important.

Oaklands Congregational Church, cnr of Uxbridge Rd and Oaklands Grove c1900
Edwardian hats off to them - and happy birthday Wormholt Park.

Friday, 9 September 2011

West London Free School opened by Boris

Pic taken from The Guardian tinyurl.com/3st6kun
Boris Johnson opened the West London Free School today and The Guardian has a photo diary of the event with some pretty darned good images here. I pinched the one above to give you a flavour! I'm grateful to the School for the invite to the launch but was unable to make it.

According to the Press Association, who very much were at the launch, the Mayor, who donned a WLFS tie himself, paid tribute to the School:
"It's the achievement of loads of parents and governors here, who have decided to take up the Government's offer to fund a new type of school.

"And this is isn't getting back to the old boring row about, do you have a comprehensive system, or do you have grammar schools?

"This is saying if you can give individual parents and teachers the power to set their own curriculum, their own ethos, and allowing for competition, then you can achieve great results.

"I hope very much that this school will be a success and also that it's imitated across London."
Critics of course remain concerned that the School will prove socially divisive as parents seek to leave the existing schools or become angry when they find that a lot of the children will not be from the Borough at all - thus blocking local children completely from taking part. But its an experiment that is at the forefront of the Governments education policy and with a Council like H&F keen to be at the forefront of Tory policies you can expect more of this to come.

Parents snap kids dodging traffic and demand lights

Parents of children who go to school in W14, just off Shepherd's Bush Road, have launched a petition to campaign for the installation of traffic calming measures on the busy road to avoid what they say is an accident waiting to happen.

In the online petition, which is aimed at Transport for London Traffic Signals Division and Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the parents say:
"A less than optimal set of crossings existed on the thoroughfare of Shepherds Bush Road in Brook Green. One crossing has been defunct for some time, and the other at Blythe Road had continued to pose a risk to pedestrians whilst in operation.

At minimum one child has been injured at this particular crossing within the last few months. At minimum two school Governing bodies have formally written with concerns about the crossing within the last few months.

The crossing was scheduled to be replaced with a safer Puffin crossing before school resumed for the year 2011-2012, however the work has not yet been completed.

This leaves a long stretch of a busy road open to speeding traffic. There are two major primary schools within a very short distance, and almost 10 schools within a kilometre. It is a neighbourly area with many pedestrians. No interim safety measures have been taken to ensure the safety of pedestrians or the many children taking this route to school".
  And they set out their demand in stark terms to TFL and the Council:
"We insist that temporary lights for a safer crossing be installed immediately at Shepherds Bush Road/Blythe Road until such time as the new permanent crossing is installed and operational". 
Judging by the photos - which clearly demonstrate children literally running to slip between the cars, the Council need to respond to this as soon as possible. In my experience of dealing with TFL, expecting them to lift a finger is pointless.


It's perhaps helpful that the relevant councillor for this is Nick Botterill, who is one of the most effective members of the current administration at Hammersmith Town Hall. He has in my experience responded very quickly to concerns like this and acted to fix things that needed fixing, such as the time cowboy builders made a mess of Shepherd's Bush Green.

So come on Cllr Botterill, step up to the plate!

Wormholt Park - a snake infested wood

The Askew Arms at the turn of the 20th Century
That's where the name comes from you see, which is one of the many things you'll discover on show at tomorrow's centenary celebrations at the Park. You can find a full run down of the many things on offer here, but for this posting I want to concentrate on some of the facts about the Bush you'll pick up if you come.

The picture above is the Askew Arms at the turn of the century - and the one below is the open air lido that used to adjoin Wormholt Park and was only closed in the 1970s. There was a scheme by which you could pay "first class" or "second class" - the former entitling you to two towels as opposed to one!

Shepherd's Bush Lido
And did you know the houses next to the park, along Sawley Road, are sited on top of what used to be a lake? It was drained in the mid nineteenth century and was then mined for clay to make bricks - so many of the houses in W12 are built from local clay.

This and other things are all on show at what is now promised to be a fair and sunny day tomorrow - so get yourselves down there - you'll never see Shepherd's Bush in the same way again.

QPR in the Community were there today putting some local schoolchildren through their paces while there were a reasonable number of locals, such as yours truly, ambling around taking inthe sights.

One of the most impressive things for me, though, is the historical collection they have there which is where these images come from. Did you know the cobbles outside the Princess Victoria pub are there because that's where the horse drawn omnibuses used to turn around and head back the other way?!

Their resident historian, Peter, will be on hand tomorrow and wants to hear your stories about the Bush. If you cant make it but can still contribute your glimpses of Bush gone by email me at shepherdsbushblog@yahoo.co.uk and I will pass them on. There's tell of a book in the making, and that's nothing less than an area as rich in history as Shepherd's Bush deserves.

See you tomorrow.

Hammersmith redevelopment: Public meeting called

Save Our Skyline launch meeting - October 2010
A public meeeting has been called by the Save Our Skyline campaign group, composed of residents implaccably opposed to our Council's plans to, wait for it, allow developers to build two towers of luxury flats in and around King Street W6.

The plan involves, controversially, a bridge to link the luxury flats to Furnival Gardens, which was the park the Council claimed to be protecting from vandals Thames Water but would actually be ripped up by this development and reduced by a third.

All so the residents of the flats dont have to mix with the hoy polloy and cross King Street by foot. Bless their cottons.

And all of this, so that the Council can have some nice new offices to work in, with the reconstruction of the Town Hall being financed by the flats.

Save Our Skyline are clearly not a bunch of residents to be trifled with - since their first public meeting which I reported on in October last year they have been joined by English Heritage, Colin Firth and Ralph Fiennes among others in opposing the plans. They oppose them on the grounds that the Council doesn't need new offices, Furnival Gardens should be protected as a valuable green space and that to destroy some of the other buildings in the plans, such as the 1930s cineworld cinema to make way for a Tescos supermarket of all things is, they say, nothing short of vandalism.

Greenhalgh at SOS meeeting - Oct 2010
To give him his credit Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh turned up at that meeting, which had well over 400 people present on a cold October evening, and faced the music. That does take guts. And he promised to "listen" and reflect on what the residents had had to say that night, in speech after thunderous speech led by John Jones, a barrister who chairs the group. The problem is the very next day he submitted the plans to developers without a single change.

Now the SOS group is responding to what they regard as the very slight adjustments that have been made by developers King Street Developments, or Grainger and Helical Bar as they are usually known, to reduce the height of the towers by a couple of floors. They are calling on residents to launch a writing-in campaign to underline the extent of local opposition to the scheme. Here's what the indomitable John Jones has to say:
“The derisory tinkering to this unwanted development highlights the contemptuous attitude of the Council and its development partners to the real concerns of local residents and community groups as expressed through over 700 letters of objection. 

“This revised scheme does nothing to address the overdevelopment, excessive height, damage to Furnivall Gardens and the riverside, demolition of the much-loved cinema and eviction of some of our community’s blind and most vulnerable members. Furthermore, our survey of local retailers shows that, far from fuelling regeneration as the Council promises, this scheme will further damage a significant proportion of local businesses. 

“It is vital for residents to attend the SOS meeting on 27 September to hear what they must do to combat this barmy scheme.”

English Heritage are unimpressed too, they spake thus in March this year:

“English Heritage considers that the proposals will cause considerable harm to the historic environment including the setting of both these listed buildings, to the visual character and appearance of the conservation areas, and to the longer views across and along the river Thames. This is because the proposals are not in keeping with the established riparian historic environment in this locality.....

“.....We believe that the disproportionate impact these proposals will have upon heritage assets, their settings and the wider historic environment is not acceptable......

“.....We recommend that the proposals are fundamentally reconsidered in light of the above comments, particularly concerning the height and mass of the new buildings associated with the proposal for the footbridge and the considerable harm they will cause to the setting of all heritage assets in the locality.”
View from Dalling Rd of the Towers - SOS pic
The public meeting is on 27th September at Rivercourt Methodist Church, King Street W6, just west of the Town Hall. It will be the last public meeting before the actual planning meeting which, based on every other planning meeeting I have attended of this Council, it will be nodded through while the beefy security guards look on.

This clearly doesnt have an immediately obvious link to Shepherd's Bush - but consider the way in which Orion the developers are apparently being allowed to build seven floors of luxury flats on top of our Market, and to flatten some historic buildings - again despite public assurances to the contrary given by the same Stephen Greenhalgh at another public meeting - and you begin to see what might happen here too.

And in any case if, as it very much seems, the majority of local people are against this scheme - for the Council to press ahead anyway is surely undemocratic. And that's a problem.

I did ask the Council for comment but a spokesperson told me that as it was a live application they didn't feel it was appropriate, which is fair enough.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Tony Fernandes runs Twitter comp for QPR tickets

QPR, for the first time in years, is being run by human beings. And what's more a human being with a sense of humour and a desire to relate to the fans. So it was no surprise to see Air Asia founder and new QPR owner Tony Fernandes announcing out of the blue a Twitter competition to give away tickets to the forthcoming QPR-Newcastle fixture on Monday night.


As people scrabbled to win the tickets with witty tweets a few were lucky enough to be picked and will take their places in the Directors Box, but it was also great to see the banter you hear in the stands being replicated as well - one of the fans told Mr Fernandes he could keep his Director's Box seats because she preferred the loft - but if he wanted to join him she'd buy him a pie!


Two things about this - that the owner can even bring himself to engage with fans on any level is a new departure for this club and something we have been lacking for a very long time indeed. But secondly, think of the symbolism here - the fans sitting in the Directors Box. Only for a game, and only because of a nice little competition that generated a few laughs - but can you imagine that happening under any of their previous owners?

Many of us, myself included, can't afford to go anymore as a result of the old regime but we'll be cheering them on from outside. When I last interviewed Neil Warnock it was clear to me at least that much more of the old regime and he wouldn't be there much longer either. But we're in very safe hands at both levels now.

Mr Fernandes is not about to hand control to some kind of fans group and nor should he - but he does see himself on a level with them and wants to hear what they have to say. And that, my friends, bodes very well indeed.

MyVillage.com copy thieves return


Roifield Brown, owner of MyVillage.com had to apologise to me in January this year for stealing the content from this site, posting it on his own, and trying to coin it in with advertising that relied on other people's work.

He did so only after ignoring repeated emails and messages from me and only when he was publicly shamed by journalism.co.uk, confessing that he had been robbing content from over 100 bloggers.


Now it seems Mr Brown, who has a very high opinion of himself with the description of "big scary boss man" on his website, is back to his old thieving shyster tricks. He has done this to a number of other bloggers too and also rips off many local newspaper feeds.

So, big scary boss man, or boring little bling man as his pic seems to indicate, what will it take to shame you into stopping this time?

Oxjam Take-over: Defectors Weld playlist

Watch these vids to get an idea about the artists that will be performing at the various venues around the Bush on Saturday 29th October, as the largest ever charity music fest comes to W12. First up, here's the track list for the Defector's Weld - the last one is a bit weird but I think you'll agree there are some top-class acts headed our way.

Another line up tomorrow for my "favourite" venue - the Walkabout










Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Wormholt 100th birthday party: some more info

Dog fancy dress, bike repairs and sports are among the delights that await you at the centenary event taking place at Wormholt Park this Saturday. The Friends of Wormholt Park have been in touch with more details and they look pretty damned good, considering this is all put together by people in their spare time.

You want competitions? They got:
  • dog fancy dress / most obedient dog / dog that looks most like it’s owner. 
  • Make the best / weirdest looking animal out of vegetables.
  • And for the domestic gods / goddesses among us: bake some cookies or cake and go for the best in show prize
Got a bike?
    Bikeworks’ Bike Dr will be at the fair with a free repair service and cycle training between 2pm and 5pm, so bring your bikes along.

    Feeling sporty?

    There will be the chance to join in some sports: handball, ultimate Frisbee, Futsal, climbing wall and archery.

    Interested in history?

    They're also looking for old photos of the park or local area for history archives.

    Fancy a bit of music?

    They will have the following amazing line up on the day:
    • West London Community Choir
    • CSI Steel Band
    • A jazz duo (I'm not sure what they're called but they're members of the Friends group)
    • Susan Black (Edith Piaf impersonator)
    • Kitsch in Sync (another local choir)
    • And an Olde Cockney sing-along with Pearly King & Queen of Bow Bells & City of London
    The special guest for the day will be a local lady, Peggy Aslett, who was born in 1911, the same year as the park opened.

    There will be two raffles - one with a range of prizes and the other a special raffle to win a pair of 'W12 Club' Hospitality Tickets (worth £450) for the QPR v Aston Villa match on Sunday 25 September

    If you're interested in the Friends group - they currently have 171 members. There is an elected committee of seven. They've been going since April this year and their aims are to:
    • secure a permanent resource/area for the Friends Group within the park
    • increase the biodiversity of nature and wildlife within the park
    • become a strong body for good within the Wormholt area
    • improve the opinion of the park by local residents
    • see greater use of the park by local residents
    • minimise behaviour disrespectful to the park
    • increase the love and usage of the park.
    You'll find more info on their website www.friendsofwormholtpark.org.uk

    If that doesn't get you along then, seriously, there is something wrong. It's when I see people quietly putting this sort of effort in to the local area, completely without recognition or thanks, that I realise what is so great about the Bush. Come along and see if you can be persuaded too.

    Tuesday, 6 September 2011

    Police helicopter search over Goldhawk Road

    A number of men fled from Police last night forcing the call-out of a Police helicopter and significant disruption to the Goldhawk Road as areas were cordoned off. I received no fewer than 15 inquiries from some of you as to whether I could find out what was going on and a number of you were actually quite angry about the noise and disruption, with one woman unable to get her kids off to sleep.

    The Police have this morning given me a statement which is as follows:

    "At approx 2200hrs on Monday, 5 September, police officers signalled for a vehicle to stop in the west London area.

    The vehicle failed to stop and was pursued by police. A number of males got out of the car and made off in the Shepherd's Bush area.

    The police helicopter assisted in the operation to trace the man.

    One man was arrested. He was taken to a west London police station, where he remains in custody.

    Inquiries continue to trace outstanding occupant/s of the vehicle".

    So in other words the others all got away despite the closure of the road and the use of the helicopter which hovered over the Bush for what seemed like about 45 minutes with the heavy deployment of vans and police on foot.

    And this also seems to be contrary to what one local journalist tweeted about this being a burglary - you know where you read it first, folks.

    0920 UPDATE - It seems that I have upset the local press by getting the facts out before they did. My crime? Asking the Police what had happened and reproducing the statement they gave me in this article so you knew. My punishment? Some more verbal abuse from a potty mouthed journalist called Adam Courtney. Here's what he saw fit to post this morning:


    There are actually some good writers at the Chronicle, Greg Burns being one of them and Dan Hodges another, but Adam very much isn't as you may be able to see from his grammar above. Quite why he gets so upset about a hyper-local site like this one, which is written by someone local in their spare time, being just ahead of him on this occasion is lost on me. It may well be that the car was stopped because of the rumour he was reporting last night about a burglary. Maybe. maybe not. But I don't know - and the point is neither does he, so suggesting it in public helps nobody.

    So let's have a little less abuse, eh?

    1055 UPDATE - First of all thanks for all of your support this morning. It does mean a lot, I just decided I didn't need to put up with the abuse any longer, so perhaps a public airing of Adam Courtney's rantings will lead to a bit better behaviour. 

    But getting back to the events of last night here's the latest statement I have been sent by the Police to share with you: 

    "The driver was eventually found with the assistance of police helicopter and police dogs, he was arrested for:

    1) Failing to Stop for Police
    2) Dangerous Driving
    3) Unlawful Possession of Controlled Drugs (Cannabis)
    4) Suspicion of Handling Stolen Goods (multiple mobile telephones)

    One male remains outstanding"

    1410 UPDATE - So many of you were upset about the commotion last night, and in particular the noise of the Police helicopter, that I inquired about what if any regulations are in place to govern its use. One reader, who wants to stay anonymous, wrote to say that her kids couldnt get to slepp and many others pointed out that this is now a regular feature of life in W12. 

    A spokeswoman has told me that there is: 

    "no time limit with regards to the use of the police helicopter as it is available 24-7 depending on flying conditions.

    The helicopter will be at the location for as long as it needs to be and will try to cause as little inconvenience as possible".

    The helicopter assists with the distance to see and focus with whats on the ground taking into account the safety of all concerned".

    Monday, 5 September 2011

    Hospital closures draws super-hospital to Shepherd's Bush

    Hammersmith Hospital on Du Cane Road: New Super-Hospital?
    The Independent reports that St Mary's hospital in Paddington looks set to be closed amid a cash crisis that has engulfed Imperial College Healthcare Trust, the authority that runs St Mary's along with Hammersmith Hospital on Du Cane Road W12 and Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham.

    The hospital, based in Paddington, is a landmark hospital and teaching facillity which has a proud history of advancing medical science - it is where Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, for example, earning him a Nobel prize.

    The proposal, which has been leaked to the press, is that the hospital be knocked down and the land sold off for luxury flats. Sound familiar anyone? 

    Quite apart from the political firestorm this is likely to start, as St Mary's is one of the leading teaching hospitals in the UK, the main implication for H&F is that Imperial College Healthcare Trust is apparently minded to move the services currently at St Mary's into Hammersmith Hospital in East Acton/Shepherd's Bush. What this would mean for local residents at first sight is not that bad - a bigger and better hospital. But consider it would be bringing huge numbers of patients and people with it, onto what until now have been quiet streets adjoining the hospital and Wormwood Scrubs prison, and you begin to see how the area would be transformed.

    Charing Cross Hospital - set for closure?
    The other option, reports the paper, is that the Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham be closed altogether. This has regularly excercised our Council and I reported in March 2010 how they accused the last Labour Government of planning to do this - but it now it seems it could happen under this Conservative one. This, however, is thought to be less likely, apparently because of its location serving SW London but it will cause deep concern across H&F and beyond. 

    The politics of this are that Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, has placed a moratorium on any further hospital closures. This, you might remember, came in response to attacks from Labour about how the Tories want to privatise the NHS, which they vehemently deny. The truth, as ever, is somewhere in between. The brutal fact is that Imperial Healthcare Trust is £100 million in debt and is basically bankrupt - so how long can it realistically hold on to the three sites?

    But these plans which the Indie is reporting seem very well advanced and it is clear that something is afoot. Whatever they turn into as far as Hammersmith Hospital in Shepherd's Bush is concerned, it is likely to transform one of the quietest areas of the Bush forever.

    0850 UPDATE - Andy Slaughter MP has sent me this response (complete with pic!) to this story:

    "On Saturday with Labour members and supporters I was collecting signatures in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush as part of the national campaign to Save our NHS from cuts and privatisation (pic attached). We didn’t realise how soon this would become a real issue in our back yard. This is not the first time the Tories have tried to close Charing Cross. We stopped them doing it in the 1990s and we will do so again this time. I am talking today to Imperial management and unions, and seeking a meeting with Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. The campaign to save Charing Cross will be the biggest the borough has seen and I’m sure will attract support from across the political spectrum"

    "We are fortunate to have three of the best hospitals in the country serving local people. That is something we should be proud to maintain and improve. Labour invested millions in the local NHS, now the Tories are proposing to close one or even two local hospitals. Cameron’s promise that the NHS would not be cut is exposed as the most blatant piece of trickery". 

    I have asked the Council for comment but they have not replied as yet.

    1500 UPDATE - Imperial Healthcare Trust have just released the following statement rubbishing the Independent's report: 

    "Following media coverage today, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust would like to categorically deny that we have any plans to close St Mary's Hospital or any of our hospital sites".

    "We have not engaged any firms of architects to look at our estate with a view to converting it into residential properties".

    "We would like to reassure all patients and staff that providing the highest quality clinical care across all our sites remains our absolute priority".