Wednesday, 30 November 2011

King Street redevelopment to get green light

Two tower blocks of luxury flats will be approved this evening by councillors on the infamous planning committee, against the massed ranks of residents implacably opposed to the idea.

The Council knows it. The residents know it.

This will result in the large scale destruction of Furnival Gardens with a bridge linking the luxury flats to the park to provide "river access". This is the same park the Council boasted it was defending against evil Thames Water back in 2009.

It will also result in the Cineworld being pulled down, a supermarket being installed and housing for blind people being demolished - so that the Council can have a new building, financed on the back of the luxury flats.

So despite the piece of theatre that will be this evening's planning committee meeting - being hosted in a school hall because of the number of objectors that will turn up, all eyes are now on two things - the Mayor of London and the Courts, as this piece by yesterday's Evening Standard makes clear.

The Save our Skyline campaign are not a bunch to be taken lightly by our Council if they wish to retain their councillors in and around Hammersmith come election time. They will, I confidently predict, lose their seats on May 1st 2014. The only question is whether they can rely on the rest of their majority to retain the Council.

This railroading over the heads of local people is everything that is wrong about Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

UPDATE Thursday - And lo, it came to pass ... eventually. The meeting, which was packed to capacity and left a number of objectors standing outside, eventually ground its long winded way towards the conclusion that everyone knew was not in doubt - the scheme was approved at around 23.30 last night.

Since the result was never in doubt - the Council were going to do what they wanted come what may - I didn't bother going. But a number of you did and several have sent in their accounts of what went on. Here's one of them which I think captures both the bizarre and depressingly familiar-sounding scenes from another night at H&F Council's Planning Committee:
Sadly, Spartacus was not in attendance
"I was stood at the back of this meeting and had to regularly nip out... so I saw quite a lot of what was going on other than what was simply being said at the front. I have extraordinary tales of inaudible presentations (despite opposition questions being adequately clear), people being blocked from entering, the attempted eviction of a member of the public (resulting in ripples of "I'm Spartacus!" throughout the room) and lots more".

"People were shouting. They were a fairly angry lot! The reason people were being held at the gates was because there wasn't enough room (fire capacity wise). People gradually left the meeting in disgust, either because they couldn't hear or they were too angry/upset by what was being said (such gems as the loss of historic buildings being justified because of the merits of the proposals). There was also an ammendment made which said that blind residents would only be moved 1.5km, as opposed the the 3km they could have been moved under the plans. As one Cllr put it, the new building has a significant number of "disabled-friendly" flats built-in. Why is the council discriminating between people of different disabilities, and why aren't the blind residents being offered accommodation in these blocks"? 
"I was there with a little one. They finished presenting at 20:30(ish) and moved onto questions, so when the other half rang me at about 21:15 I assured her that I thought they were close to a vote. By 22:00 I'd decided that I really did need to leave. I'm amazed that the final decision wasn't made until about 23:30! What a marathon"
Save our Skyline have been in touch, with John Jones, their Chairman issuing this statement on last night's procedings:
"While we are tremendously frustrated and disappointed by the decision of the Planning Applications Committee, we are hardly surprised. It only serves to demonstrate the arrogance of this Council and the inherent conflict of interest in the Council having power to grant itself planning permission for such a controversial scheme. We will continue to ask the Secretary of State or the GLA to use their power to block this flawed scheme and stop the very real damage that it will wreak on Hammersmith and the historic riverside. We call on residents to maintain the pressure by writing to the GLA and the Secretary of State to make their views known.

"In short, this is a disgraceful deal, which shames Hammersmith and is particularly galling as all the Councillors that approved it live in Fulham!"

8th December UPDATE - well the H&F Council Press Officers have been busy on this issue! First we saw Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh post what they called a "blog" on the council website here. They called it a blog but nobody is allowed to comment - unlike the 50 plus people who have done so on this article from both a pro and anti perspective - why so shy?

Then, just yesterday, they released the video below which uses the "blog post" as a script for the film, which quotes people in favour of the scheme. Such as a local, er, estate agent. Yes, an estate agent. Good luck with the spin, chaps.




Well the Save our Skyline campaign have hit back with this frankly devastating film of their own. In it a series of local residents, including a blind man set to be made homeless and a small business holder, ask why the Council is obsessed with installing luxury flats at the expense of the local area. The answer comes at the end - because we have a Council, their spokesman says, who cares little for what local people think and prioritises its relationships with greedy developers. Says it all really.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shepherd's Bush Green in January facelift

The long awaited changes for the Green are finally on their way after a dispute between the Council and residents was settled by independent arbitration by the Planning Inspectorate. Longer term readers of this blog will know that the signs which first went up around the Green announcing the changes were there so long they eventually decayed and fell down, thus contributing to the problem the facelift was intended to tackle.

But having found a middle way between a Council that wanted to fell more trees and install a cafe, and residents who most certainly didn't want that fearing among other things a boost in our rampant local rat population, the works can now go ahead and the local Conservatives are rightly trumpeting what will surely be a radical improvement to a space which has long looked like nobody really gave a monkeys about it, frankly. 

Here's Greg Smith, Cabinet Member for Residents Services:
"It has been a long time coming but we are absolutely thrilled that work will finally start soon to improve this flagship open space. The scheme will undoubtedly benefit everyone who lives near, visits or works in and around Shepherds Bush, as well as rejuvenating a park that really needs a boost. There have been several years of frustration but I am sure that the improvements will be well worth waiting for.”
And, speaking to the local Tory blog, local resident John Ryan, of Tunis Road, has this to add:
"As a local resident living in Shepherds Bush for 22 years, I walk across Shepherds Bush Green on an almost daily basis. The Green has had it's fair share of problems over the years, including antisocial behaviour, street drinkers and irresponsible dog owners fouling the area. 
“There is finally hope on the horizon, as the council gears up to complete the work which we have been promised over the years. When this work, together with the other improvements being carried out in Shepherds Bush, is complete we shall have an area to be proud of, not an ‘end of the line’ image as was once put to me.
Not sure what 'end of the line' means but it's always been a shame that the Green has looked so drab - when it can be filled with some fantastic events for the community as we saw this summer during the Bush Festival.

Monday, 28 November 2011

H&F moves forces families to front of housing queue

Our Council wants to be the first in the UK to move the families of Territorial Army, as well as regular forces, to the front of local authority housing lists. In a move that few can criticise, even in this very politicised borough, the Council wants to enact this move as part of its revamp of how it prioritises families waiting to be housed.

Alongside the families of forces will be those who work and others who carry out voluntary sector duties in and around the borough. Councillor Andrew Johnson, Cabinet Member for Housing, has this to say on the Conservative Party's blog:
“We are eternally grateful for the courage and bravery of our armed forces serving in dangerous places across the world. However, all too often, when they return home from duty they struggle to find appropriate housing. We do not believe that years of loyal service to this country should become an obstacle to finding a home. There can be no people more deserving of a council house or access to home ownership that those who give voluntary service in the name of Queen and Country.”
It's difficult to disagree with any of this - and frankly surely a scandal that it hasn't been done before. Marine Sam Alexander, 28, was from Hammersmith and to many embodied the ethos of self-sacrifice that characterises the job that our forces carry out on our behalf. Having the confidence that their families are well-housed at home shouldn't really be too much to ask - and our Council deserve great credit for leading the way on this. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Michael Barrymore in car crash, drunk, in the Bush


The BBC has reported that the former celebrity Michael Barrymore has been arrested after colliding with a kerb just outside of W12 on the junction between Dordrecht Rd and the Vale. That's opposite Bromyard Avenue, just round the corner from the Askew Pub and on the way to the Tesco express.

Mr Barrymore was arrested with another man and charged with possession of cocaine and for being drunk & disorderly. He will appear at Ealing Magistrates Court on December 7th.

UPDATE 7th December - Michael Barrymore has today pleaded guilty at Ealing Magistrates Court to being in possession of cocaine, which he apparently tried to hide in his mouth when stopped by the Police after having crashed into a pavement just outside the Bush. He was convicted and fined £780. In other words, you can drive your car around high as a kite, to the point where you are a lethal danger to other people, crash it - and then get a slap on the wrist. What is the point?

Second man charged over Dewhurst Rd W14 murder

William Saunderson-Smith
The investigation into the murder of William Saunderson-Smith, 58, who was found dead at home in Dewhurst Road W14, has resulted in a second man being charged according to the BBC

Ireneusz Mydlarz, 36, of Broomgrove Gardens, Edgware, north London, was arrested and charged earlier. Now Slawomir Bugajewski, 38, has also been charged. Both are likely to face trial at the Old Bailey.

Friday, 25 November 2011

H&F Council spend £7,184 on retirement party

Geoff Alltimes: because he's worth it
...for one of the most well-paid Local Authority Chief Executives in the United Kingdom. That's quite a bill for a shin-dig which took place recently for councillors and council staff eager to say a golden goodbye to Geoff Alltimes, according to figures unearthed by the Labour Opposition and sent to me.

I reported in April that Mr Alltimes was the 17th highest-paid CEO in the land, according to figures released by Conservative pressure group the Tax Payers Alliance. This was at least in part why I welcomed our Council's decision to merge Chief Executives with next-door Kensington & Chelsea which would, in their words, save a "pot full" of cash. It must have been a pretty big pot because Mr Alltimes' very high remuneration package was hiked by 10.8% from £185,000 to £205,000 from 2008 to 2009.

10.8 per cent. I thought that was worth repeating. That's ten point eight per cent, for the avoidance of doubt.

So what on earth are our Council doing splashing out over £7,000 on a party for someone who has been paid so handsomely already? Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the Opposition on H&F Council spoke to me this morning and had this to say:
"It's hard to understand why Conservative councillors sanctioned over £7,000 of tax payers' money to be wasted on a boozy knees-up while simultaneously cutting many local Sure Start nurseries annual budgets to just £19,000. Most residents will think that is the wrong priority to spend their hard-earned money on. These are difficult times. Given that the retiring official was the highest paid council bureaucrat in the UK and his pension is estimated to be £104,000 a year plus a lump sum, tax free 'golden goodbye' of £270,000, I am astonished that all this money wasn't paid out of private donations. Maybe Mr. Alltimes would like to donate this money back to one of the Borough's Sure Start nurseries who have suffered 90% cuts to their budgets this year?"
It's hard not to think he has a point. We're all in this together, aren't we?


UPDATE TUESDAY - Well, four days later, the Chronicle eventually reported this story here. Meanwhile last night a Council spokesperson contacted me with the following statement:
“This civic event was organised to mark the departure of an outstanding public servant who dedicated 35 years of his life to serving the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. Guests from partner organisations and councillors from across the political spectrum attended and not one penny of taxpayers' cash was spent on alcohol. This council is leading the way in slashing millions of pounds worth of waste and bureaucracy. We are the only council to be consistently improving services while cutting our historic debt burden and cutting council tax."
He tells me that the real figure was £6,000 - which directly contradicts what the Council's own officials have said. They are clear it was £7,184 and in any case that would be 6,000 pounds too many!

Stephen Cowan, the Leader of the Labour Opposition that first sent me the figures which kicked the story off last week deserves the final word I think - so here it is:
"Just for the record, I want residents and senior officers of Hammersmith and Fulham Council to know that should Labour win control of the Council on 1st May 2014, I will stop all tax payers’ money being spent on parties, socials, leaving functions and other such frivolous waste. I’m more than happy for people to have leaving get-togethers which are paid for privately with their own money and happen after work hours. But that’s it".

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bush Police in series of raids, Boris held back

White City Estate drugs raid
Police in Shepherd's Bush raided a number of suspected drug dealers houses today in Operation Hawk, in operations such as this one I witnessed on a W12 crystal meth factory here. Meanwhile Boris Johnson suffered a PR disaster as the first house he attended, this being a London-wide operation, turned out to have nothing in it while the second one had what the fair haired one called "a scantily clad woman" in it. Police Officers refused to allow Mr Johnson anywhere near her by all accounts. Very wise.

Officers in Hammersmith & Fulham are responding directly to community intelligence to target drug dealers, perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and other criminals who impact on communities.

Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi said: 
“The communities in all wards across Hammersmith & Fulham are likely to see more operations of this kind from our Safer Neighbourhoods teams, who, through their ongoing engagement, will continue to address local crime and safety concerns to help make our local areas safer".
Chief Inspector Nigel Crane in charge of Safer Neighbourhoods and Partnership for Hammersmith & Fulham Police said: 
"Operation Hawk focuses on problem-solving activity and dealing effectively with Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) within the MPS, it forms another part of the Commissioner's Total Policing vision. I am proud to state that this approach of dealing with root-problems rather than treating just the symptoms is already an embedded "business as usual" approach by a highly motivated and innovative teams at Hammersmith & Fulham". 
"The liaison with the Local Authority Community Safety, Health & Youth Services ensures that this problem-solving is coordinated and tackled in partnership, we have recently co-located officers to work alongside council colleagues in ASB unit.The work of the licensing unit is seeing in-roads made on thefts linked to licensed premises and alcohol-related ASB in proximity to those venues, through proactive monitoring of their licensing conditions and test-purchase operations to ascertain whether under-age sales of alcohol are taking place". 
"We encourage people to drink sensibly and to know their limits. People under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are more likely to be a victim of crime through their guard being down and their inhibitions lost. Dealing with Drugs and the blight they bring to neighbourhoods is a key focus area for the Safer Neighbourhood Teams. If people wish to peddle in the misery that drugs bring then they can expect a visit from the Metropolitan Police. We will seek to ensure that the quality of life is improved for our local communities through robust intervention where and when it is needed."

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shepherd's Bush drinks - an open invite

You are cordially invited to drinks at the Duchess Pub, 8pm on December 1st. Yes, unlike our property speculator friends Helical Bar this really is an open invite to the latest in a series of "tweet-ups" that started almost a year ago to the day on a cold December night in the Bush.

That night those of us who write about, talk about and live about the Bush were all, if we're absolutely honest, a little bit trepidatious about meeting up - these were, after all, potentially strange people what go on the internet. But it turned out that actually we're all quite likeable and we've done it a few times since. Although not for a long while.

Full marks go this time to @ruthbrown for doing the honours and organising the event - hopefully it will be a fun evening and I look forward to seeing you there.

Bird of the Bush talk at Phoenix School

David Lindo, the Urban Birder, will be giving a free talk on the Birds of the Bush courtesy of the Friends of Wormholt Park this Friday at 1925.

We last saw the Friends in full Edwardian regalia at the fantastic festival they organised, whcih celebrated a centenary for the open space.


I'm told by Cat, one of the organisers of that day and this Friday evening's entertainment:
"David regularly appears on the One Show on BBC1 and contributes to a number of magazines including, BBC Wildlife, Bird Watching and RSPB’s Birds. The parents among you may know that David was involved in our centenary celebrations in September. He ran the nature activity for our schools day, which went down very well with the children. He’s coming back to see us again so that the adults don’t miss out. 
David does much of his bird watching on nearby Wormwood Scrubs and he has an in depth knowledge of the area and his enthusiasm for his subject is inspiring and infectious. David’s new book The Urban Birder will be available to buy on the night".
You can forgive the plug when these people are some of the most active community volunteers I think I'm aware of in W12 and they contribute to making the Bush a much happier place to be - in return all they ask is that you let them know ahead of time whether or not you're coming. Send a quick email to shepherdsbushblog@yahoo.co.uk and I will pass the message on.

You can also see more details at their website here.

Open invitation from Helical Bar - hear about White City development


I'm not sure this letter was an open invitation, actually, property developers Helical Bar only seem to have delivered it to a select few in and around the immediate vicinity. I'm sure that was an oversight, natch.

But given the plans affect the whole of Shepherd's Bush with around 1,500 new homes I am sure they won't mind me making it available to all - so come along, and have your say!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush: We don’t want low-class Hammersmith types

Mouldy changing rooms
Fabio doesn’t know anything” snarled Violet, Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush ‘Member Services Manager’ this morning, as she dismissed her colleague as “he’s just sales” for having dared to agree that I could transfer my home membership to the W12 branch yesterday.

As regular readers will know I have been going to Fitness First Shepherd’s Bush for a long time (in fact over a decade) and during that time I, along with other members who have also been there for years, have regularly complained about the mouldy showers, the cleaners who have punch-ups in the middle of the gym and the fact that the weights area never gets tidied away.

But in recent months we’ve all been quite happy – the gym has had a lick of paint and there genuinely seems to have been improvements. But now we know why. Yesterday morning I saw the ominous notice entitled “Fantastic News” which informed members that the club was now being designated a “platinum” club. In laymans terms this ‘fantastic’ news meant that if you wanted to keep going there you had to stump up a lot more money and transfer your home club to Shepherd’s Bush.

On Sunday I expressed my disappointment to Fabio, the manager on duty for the day, saying that it was a shame when those of us who had put up with the shoddy were now being cleared away once the gym appeared to be getting its act together. He agreed, and in view of the fact I have been a member for so long agreed to transfer it.

First thing in the morning - find your weights in this mess
 But it appears it’s not to be – and a trainer I spoke to this morning after receiving Violet’s narrow-eyed tongue lashing, revealed what this was really about. He’d also complained because by forcing people out trainers like him, who pay the club a monthly fee, will lose clients. The answer he received from the club's management revealed a lot – he was told that Fitness First want Shepherd’s Bush to have a “higher class of member”, and they’d specifically referred to the Hammersmith club as having a “lower class” who they wanted to stop coming.

As I was leaving our friend Violet simply said "if you don't like it complain to Head Office" - I have to say when they employ people like her, and take decisions like this, what on earth would be the point?

So there we have it folks – you put up with rubbish service for a decade, loyally stay put, and then when Fitness First decide you are too ‘lower class’, you’re shown the door. As I said a long time ago, it’s Fitness First, Service Last.

Now then, anyone got a recommendation for gyms in Shepherd's Bush?

Bus passenger numbers cut in W12

The 207 bus will disapppear from our streets on Dec 10th 2011 and with it will go hundreds of passenger spaces every hour. And this is at a time when bus usage is at its highest for 50 years. The reduction in capacity comes after our illustrious Mayor has increased the single Oyster bus fare from 90p to £1.30, with a "welcome to 2012" increase to £1.40 planned too. We're all in this together, it seems.

And the cost to us as taxpayers for getting a non bendy 207? £2.2 million. Yes, that's right - over two million pounds. Here's what TfL admitted through gritted teeth on this press release put out after probing from members of the GLA: "A one off cost of £2.2m will be incurred this year in respect of routes 29 and 207, where the conversions are happening in advance of the operating contracts being retendered."

I totally understand the need to get rid of bendy buses when they clog up narrow streets and major traffic junctions all the time, I've sat behind enough of them watching the lights change and then change again as they inch forward. But is a one-size-fits-all approach really the right thing to do for everywhere?

I've never had that problem either as a passenger or a driver in and around the Bush, largely because the Uxbridge Road is basically long and straight all the way from W12 to Uxbridge and beyond. The only incident I've ever seen on the bus was this ridiculous fare dodger excercise I witnessed back in 2009 and the cost of changing them, so that Boris can say he's delivered on a pledge before next year's election is at least partly responsible for the fare hikes.

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the LibDems on the Greater London Authority has this to say:
“If the Mayor wants to quickly get rid of every bendy bus route in London that is one thing. However he has no right to reduce bus capacity and increase overcrowding on these key bus routes. 

“Under Boris Johnson we have already seen the cost of a single Oyster bus fare increase from 90 pence to £1.30, and in January it will go up to £1.40.

“To increase bus fares by 55% over four years and to also increase overcrowding for bus users is a double whammy. Bus users are getting a rotten deal under Boris Johnson". 
While Ken's campaign have released this video making the case for what the Labour candidate calls his "fare deal" - geddit?



Not to be out-done, however, Boris' team have hit back with their own blockbuster which you can have a watch of here:



The bus frequency will be slightly increased due to this change with the figures provided by TfL below, but remember these buses have less capacity inside - so less seats and fewer people able to stand:


Friday, 18 November 2011

Shepherd's Bush Police & Pudsey the Bear


Shepherds Bush Green Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) officers escorted Matt Baker and Pudsey on a rickshaw from London Zoo to BBC TV Centre this evening. This was the final leg of the journey. The SNT officers provided a cycle escort.

Sergeant Finbar King told me this evening:
"It was a pleasure to assist Matt in his efforts to raise money for Children in Need".

"Thank you to the pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on the final leg through central London and Shepherds Bush who showed courtesy and patience despite the slow moving convoy".
I'm told that the officers on the early shift stayed on in their own time to assist and those on nights did a 9hr turn around between shifts to make this work. Just another reminder of wha this remarkable team do to keep our streets safe - say hello next time you see them around the Bush.

H&F Schools to shut in strike

Christine Blower - NUT
Schools across H&F will be closing their doors on Wednesday 30th November due to strike action having been called by the teaching unions.

I, like many other parents across the borough, received a letter from the headteacher of our kids’ school this afternoon saying basically that they had no choice but to close.

Interestingly the headteacher didn’t confirm whether or not they themselves would be going on strike, just that there were health & safety concerns. Hm.

So there we have it folks – those struggling to get by in the rapidly shrinking private sector, those looking over their own shoulders in the public sector and others who are either without work or self-employed will have to take a day out so that the teachers can strike about their pensions not being big enough.

Here’s Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, speaking to the BBC in June ahead of the strike vote:
"It is disgraceful that the government is pressing ahead with its reforms which will affect teachers' pensions.

"The government knows that they are affordable. This is a policy which has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with politics.”
So pay up Government, so that the rest of us without good public sector pensions can get back to work, or looking for work.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Stephen Lawrence & Sepp Blatter

Compare and contrast. One, a quiet and reserved family who have endured nearly two decades not only of the constant gut wrenching grief that must come with the knowledge that their son died in such a brutal, violent and inhuman way but also the fact that in the years that followed they were confronted with the awful fact that some of those responsible for finding their son's killers may have actually shared those killers' attitudes. Faced with that Doreen and Neville Lawrence, who never wanted fame and certainly didn't seek the public eye have acted with nothing but dignity as they refused to go away, as many in officialdom wanted them to.

Institutional racism became one of the most well worn phrases of the 1990s and for good reason. Police officers hated it but they couldn't escape the fairly obvious fact that it was a problem. I remember being at school and then college as this unfolded, and it's stayed with me as vividly as other scenes that defined my generation as they grew up, like the seemingly mighty Berlin Wall being pushed over by ordinary people with their hands and hammers right in front of the armed guards.

So what's the point of all of this then - the point is, almost 20 years on, I just sat on a central line tube and read two articles, here in 2011. One of them was about Stephen's friend who was also an intended victim of the racist gang in Eltham that killed Stephen, who came through the trauma of reliving that night in 1993 through the added pain of having lost his father the night before.

And then I read another story.

The one about a 75 year old man, bloated with corruption, who runs the world body for football, FIFA. He says that racism is not a problem and that players subjected to it should basically get over themselves and shake hands with those who shouted the racist insult at them. Like when Stephen's murderers shouted their own racist insults before they started their attack, presumably. Because that's where racism ultimately ends up, as I saw for myself here.

Stephen's parents have grey hair now, and the alleged killers are middle aged. The Police have improved a lot but when you compare and contrast these stories you have to wonder how much progress we've actually made.

H&F Borough Commander describes "pride" at awards

Lucy D'Orsi
Hammersmith & Fulham police officers, police staff and members of the public were honoured for their acts of professionalism, teamwork, bravery, courage and dedication to duty at a commendation ceremony this afternoon. For a snapshot of their work click here for an account of one Saturday night in Shepherd's Bush, and one day raiding a Crystal Meth W12 drugs laboratory. Scary stuff.

The ceremony was hosted by the Borough Commander for Hammersmith & Fulham, Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi, and Councillor Frances Stainton, Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham at Pillar Hall, Olympia.

The Commendations were as follows:

For professionalism and tenacity in complex investigation into an organised criminal network:
DS Simon Rogers, DC Matt Deans, PC Paul Jackson, PC Laura Nye, PC Bob Dixon, DS Richard Gilbert, DC David Knowles, DC Angela Mills and Chris Flemyng.

For resilience and professionalism at the scene of a serious assault:
PC Attifa Pirmohamed and PC Jackie Anderson.

For tenacity, dedication and bravery shown during the initial response to an allegation of abduction:
Special Sergeant O’Mahoney and Special Constable Staines.

For bravery and tenacity shown during the arrest of a violent suspect armed with knives:
SC Dennis O’Mahoney.

For selfless and public spirited action leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect for theft of cash:
Mr William Veazey.

For courage, determination and resilience at the seen of a violent confrontation leading to the arrest of three suspects for assaults on police:

PC Sean Tucker, PC Rebecca Guillebaud and PC Dai Rees.

For tenacity and commitment dealing with a mentally ill male:
PC Peter Hills.

Long Service Medal:
PC Paul Jackson.

For professionalism and courage at the scene of serious disorder at the TUC march:
PC Nick Jackson, PC Peter Hills, PC John Sheehan, PC Clive O’Rourke, PC Sean Tucker, PC Steven Spiteri, PC Claire Stevenson,
PC Kristen Cardwell, PC Christopher Fittall, PC Gavin Miller, PC Ryan Price,PC Stephen Gadd, PC Stuart McKee, PC David Denton.
PC Sean Murphy, PC James Franklin, PC Jonathan Lowe, PC Terry Mackin, PC Tom Stewart, PC Dan Riley, PC Mark Edwards.

For professionalism and courage at scene of  serious disorder at the student protest:
Insp Nick Milton, PC Paul Hammond, PC Nick Jackson, PC Gary Leaper, PC Stephen Gadd, PC Simon Pleavin, PC Lee Egan, PC Scott Johnson, PC Luke Veillet.

For involvement & commitment to the Borough:
PCSO Ben Milton, PCSO Joanna BUKACZEWSKA.

For outstanding forensic investigation:

Lorna Reeves.

For resilience and determination displayed in the arrest of a suspect:

PCSO Sean David.

Speaking at the ceremony H&F's Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi, said:
"Today is a day for us all to be very proud. The awards tell us a different story. We have heard about the peresonal bravery, dedication, commitment and selflessness often under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. I always feel tremendously humbled when I hear these stories. Today has not just been about the work of our policing teams here but it is also an opportunity for me to say thank-you to the families, friends and partners of those being commended. There is no doubt that without your forbearance, understanding and support my officers and staff would not be able to deliver the service they do to local and London wide communities."
Unsung heroes indeed.

BBC: H&F Council reserve homes for developers, not residents


BBC's "Homes under the Hammer" is daytime TV at its best, with perma-tanned presenters chit chatting with property developers who buy up homes, inject a bit of razzmatazz and then flog them on for a profit. You normally see someone spend just over their projected budget, tackle some issue with the house and then realise a tidy sum at the property auctioneers. It's standard fare for the programme.

What isn't standard fare for the programme, however, is finding properties that are being flogged off by a local authority, in this case our own H&F Council selling a ground floor flat in Shepherd's Bush for £180,000 - who then insist that the buyer cannot actually live there themselves. They will only agree to sell an H&F home to someone who is either going to sell it on done-up, rent it out, or just flog it on as it is.

Why would they do that? As the presenter explains, click here to watch, "This restrictive clause is essentially a way for the Council to keep all the money made from the sale. If the buyer lived in the flat the government would receive 75% of the capital. So it's good for the council but of course that does limit its attraction to buyers."

Well, yes.

And limit its attractions to those of us who think our Council might be doing a little bit more to help the thousands of those in our borough who are homeless or in need of larger accommodation, perhaps? But what's £180,000 between friends.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Chronicle "story" on sex attack false

Here we go again...our old friend Adam Courtney of the Fulham Chronicle was today busily broadcasting that there had been a sex attack reported in the Wormwood Scrubs area last night. There had been three in the last three months, he breathlessly reported on Twitter, making sure he used the #bushw12 hashtag to spread the news as widely as he could.


It was then posted by his colleague Rupert, eager not to be left out, who said there had been a multiple rape and that Police warnings had been issued for the local community to be careful. This was then re-tweeted by Adam Courtney and others, by now in a frenzy. Which is funny because having seen this I contacted the Police press office to see what was going on and they were mystified. None had been reported with no warnings having been issued.

And then came the below tweet from the same intrepid hack, but this time minus the hashtag for extra publicity. Because it was in fact a load of rubbish. A needless rumour which he bizarrely blamed on a "hockey club" and which he and his colleagues as professional journalists had contributed to spreading.


Sadly I do have cause to report on attacks in the Bush on here from time to time, and on every occasion I hear from some of you about how that makes you feel less secure. It's one of the reasons I tend to try and explain the other side of the police work in our neighbourhood that journalists don't report because it's not sensationalist - but nonetheless contributes to our safety as a community. That work, diligently done by people prepared to do a very dangerous job on our behalf at times, is not helped by this sort of thing from the Chronicle.

One day maybe they'll stop. All they needed to do was check with the local Police. But then facts can sometimes be boring.

So here's the boring truth - it was, apparently an email doing the rounds and which was entirely false. As a quick check from a professional journalist would have shown. Here's what Detective Chief Inspector Will Young from Hammersmith and Fulham Police has said this afternoon:
"I can fully understand that anyone receiving this email would be concerned about its contents and I am keen to reassure them that it is false information. I would actively encourage you to pass this reassurance onto anyone who you know may have received the email or have forwarded it on in good faith.

"Whilst there is no credence to this information I do take this opportunity to remind the public to take general safety precautions when they are out and beware of their surroundings when going about their daily lives."
 Let that be an end to rumour-mongering, eh?


1730 UPDATE - The Fulham Chronicle are now in damage limitation mode rowing backwards as fast as they can. Our friend Adam Courtney has taken to Twitter again to claim that the police are actually really grateful to them, and they have posted this article online, of which the first paragraph says this:

"EMAIL rumours that two women were raped in Wormwood Scrubs Park last night were quickly dismissed by police in an attempt to dispel wide spread panic".

No mention is made in the rest of the article, strangely, about how the Chronicle's own journalists helped whip that panic up by putting rumours around that they hadnt checked, and certainly no mention of why the police issued the statement after I alerted their press office to what the Chronicle was up to. They must have run out of space.

H&F car thieves warned to "beware"

Thieves read blogs too, y'know
James Adams, a 26 year old male from Fulham SW6, has plenty of time to think about exactly that after being sentenced to 5 months in prison for breaking into a vehicle in Prothero Rd SW6. What he didn't expect was that car would be one of the decoy vehicles deployed on Hammersmith and Fulham Borough to tackle this type of crime.

Captured on one of the many secret "trap" cars that are parked anywhere on the Borough, the high quality footage recorded his every move and lead to him pleading guilty for both this offence and also another theft from a motor vehicle in the W14 area.

Detective Inspector Foley, Hammersmith Crime Squad said:
"The beauty of this type of operation is it's ability to put the fear back in the minds of the criminals, they literally just don't know if the next car they break into is one of ours."
This year alone the operation has caught over 35 thieves with an impressive 100% conviction rate, and forms part of a wider crime reduction strategy which has seen a fall in crimes such as robbery and burglary by 5.5% across Hammersmith and Fulham

Still thinking about breaking into that car?

Crime prevention tips for reducing thefts from motor vehicle:-

• Lock and secure you vehicle at all times.
• Keep Valuables out of your car and leave nothing on show.
• Hide all keys, including car keys, out of sight when indoors.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

49 Bus hits baby in push chair

A number of you have been in touch with me this morning to report what was a nasty incident this morning on the Goldhawk Road. I have just received this statement from the Police which I think it's fair to say is one of every parents worst nightmares.
"Officers were called at 08:18hrs by the London Ambulance Service today, Tuesday 15 November to reports of a road traffic collision along Goldhawk Road j/w Wells Road, W12".

"A route 49 bus was collision with a push chair".


"The baby was taken to a West London Hospital with non life threatening or changing injurie"s.


"Enquiries are underway to establish the circumstances of the collision".
 
Perhaps if the police care to talk to people who see how the 49 bus is driven on many occasions, not to mention the 266, they may get a clearer idea.

Ken's campaign: we get lots of cabs

Tom Watson MP, the man who hounded the Murdoch empire to its knees over its despicable phone hacking practices, deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on that dark side of grubby journalism.




But he is also an attack dog for the Ken Livingstone campaign, and today I received an email from the great man saying this:
"OK, I admit it. I get a lot of cabs these days. And let me tell you why I know Boris Johnson is in trouble. London cab drivers are moaning about his transport plans. You can't stop a London cabbie complaining about likely congestion in the Olympics or pot holes in the road". 
"By the end of my weekly cab ride from Euston to Westminster my ears are usually ringing". 
"And come the New Year taxi drivers will be joined by every Londoner that regularly uses the buses and Tube. When travellers swipe their oyster cards in January they'll be silently cursing Boris Johnson. Why? Because he has taken the decision to dramatically increase fares again." 
"In January average fares in London will be going up 7% under Boris Johnson".
Boris' constant fare rises deserve to be criticised, but I'm not so sure about the reliance on black cab drivers as voices of concern for the average Londoner. These are people who already cost the earth for driving very short distances and are now demanding 15-20% higher fares or they boycott the Olympics. So not really on Londoners side after all. 

And in any case what on earth is Tom Watson doing getting a cab, presumably at public expense, from Euston to Westminster - an almost direct route on the tube which would get him there in much less time and even less expense to us? 

Tip to Tom: if you're going to talk about the tube, you might want to start using it. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Remembrance in the Bush


30 Police Cadets and 26 Special Constables as well as many regular officers were on hand to make the Shepherds Bush remembrance parade pass smoothly. The annual Ceremony on Shepherds Bush Green was well attended and the officers and Cadets ensured that all who wished to were able to pay their respects. This included stopping the traffic around the green for the Minutes silence.

Police Cadets and MSC officers give up their spare time to work in their communities on various projects. So far this year alone Police Cadets and Staff have volunteered well over 5000 hours in support of local initiatives to reduce crime and the fear of crime in the local area. 



PS Ross Martyn who coordinates the Police Cadets on the Borough said 
“It was fantastic to see so many of our Cadets give up their time to show their respect to those who fought and died to give us many of the freedoms we now enjoy. We currently have vacancies at both our Shepherds Bush and Fulham units and would welcome applicants.”
I've now spent two patrols with the Shepherd's Bush police, one Saturday night in June and recently on a drugs raid which closed down a W12 crystal meth factory - these are people who willingly confront danger on our behalf despite bearing the brunt of cuts from politicians who are nowhere near as brave. That there are young people who also want to carry on that tradition of making our community safe, and are willing to haul themselves out of bed on a Sunday to pay their respects to people who have sacrificed everything for us, is a very different image of young people than we were presented by the local press during Augusts riots. Full marks to them.

Anyone interested in the Police Cadets should call PS Ross Martyn on 0208 246 2522 to register their interest.

Friday, 11 November 2011

H&F spends £38K on pro-council West Ken residents group

£38,000 of your cash has been spent thus far by our Council supporting a pro-Council group of residents from the West Kensington & Gibbs Green Estate, according to Inside Housing magazine.

This, regular readers will recall, is the plan to demolish the West Ken estate that has had the majority of residents up in arms for years, leading to protests inside Parliament and Mayor Johnson recently being confronted by the demand for a vote at a Council/Chronicle public relations event. Our Council Leader actually wrote a heartfelt personal plea to the relevant Minister pleading that he "really needed [his] help on this one". He certainly did - the residents were on the verge of using new Big Society legislation to evict the Council as a "rogue landlord".

Underlining just why this week's decision to impose a "need to know" rule on all future property speculator led planning applications is so serious for Hammersmith & Fulham, we now see that this administration is prepared to chuck tens of thousands of pounds at a group which toes the Council line. Nuff said.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Man hospitalised by robbers on Cathnor Road W12

Detectives from Hammersmith & Fulham are appealing for information following a robbery in Shepherds Bush.

On Monday 31st October at 23:00hrs a 38-year-old man was robbed along Cathnor Road, W12.

The victim was walking along Cathnor Road when he was approached by a male who asked him for directions. As the victim was giving directions he was hit on the back of his head by another male. He was hit 6 times in the head until fell to the floor. They then demanded property and made off with the victims mobile phone and green wallet containing credit and debit cards.

As a result of the robbery the victim was taken to a west London hospital. A section of his top lip was torn away which required stitches, he sustained swelling to his left eye, a cut to his left eyelid and sustained bruising to his eyes, back of his head and his hands were grazed.

Suspect 1 was described as a tall, lean black male with very dark skin tone, in his late teens, early twenties, a street-style London accent, wearing a grey hoodie with the hood up.

Suspect 2 was described as wearing an oatmeal or tan coloured hooded top.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Jim Berry based in the Burglary Squad at Hammersmith Police Station on 0208 246 2679. Alternatively if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

H&F Council to "muzzle" planning committee

Our Council stand accused of planning to muzzle the infamous planning committee Wednesday evening in a move described as "disgraceful" by Opposition Leader Stephen Cowan.

They plan to introduce a Protocol which will empower Council officials to deny access to information about property developer's plans to radically re-shape the local area in which we live. Using phrases like "need to know" and stipulating that opposition councillors must justify their requests for information by explaining "the uses to which it will be put" while warning that "no reference to it can be made in public" - it is a disturbing document.

Earlier this week I was emailed a copy of the meeting's agenda, complete with highlights, by the local Liberal Democrats who smelt a rat. In it the Council are asking the Planning Applications Committee (PAC) to approve what it says is an "urgent" Protocol which would restrict councillors from seeing certain documents relating to planning applications from property developers on the grounds of "commercial confidentiality".

I have to say this would have completely passed me by if they hadn't, but I did some digging and it does appear there is something afoot here, about which the Labour opposition are up in arms.

Before I go any further let's be clear why this is important for local democracy, and for the local area as a whole. As any reader of this blog since I started it 3 years ago will know, this Council has some serious form when it comes to over-riding local residents on the side of property developers. On rare occasions the residents win out, and force a retreat, as hapenned over the Ashchurch Grove decision in June last year. But most of the time the Council simply steamroller all before them, such as the Goldhawk Block in September 2009, at a Planning Applications Committee meeting I still remember vividly for being hot, stormy and frankly bizarre. But not democratic.

So the fact that this ammendment, which will restrict councillors ability to see the financial modelling which lies behind planning decisions being put forward really does matter. Mainly because the financial modelling contains the information on whether or not social housing will be provided as part of residential developments. This is frequently not the case, or at the very least left vague, such as the row over the redevelopment of the White City area next to Westfield I reported in April this year.

The local Tories are often charecterised by their political opponents here as nothing better than Dame Shirley Porter, who infamously engineered the removal of poorer people from Westminster who she suspected of voting Labour. Ken Livingstone repeats this claim, usually in the same breath as calling for them to be jailed.

I don't go along with that. For what it's worth I think our local Council are yes, very right-wing, but then that's what they were elected on by local people. And I think their agenda is one more of impatience to transform the borough in ways that they think are in the best interests of stimulating growth, as Council Leader Greenhalgh outlined to a debate I attended at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester earlier this year. At that meeting it was clear he felt frustrated at not being able to do more, and faster, rather than the other way around! Those are not inherently bad intentions.

But the criticism I do think is very valid of changes like this, being pushed through without any publicity either from them or the local media, is that it will fundamentally restrict the visibility of their decisions. In future they may well be able to simply ignore questions about why there are not more plans to build affordable local housing by using some "commercial confidentiality" clause, instead of laying the figures out for all to see. And question. Including the local residents who will have their lives affected.

As Councillor Cowan said to me earlier today:

"It's happening to disguise why H&F Conservatives' don't grant permission for any genuinely affordable social housing. It is a disgraceful undermining of the role of the Planning Applications Committee (PAC) and Cllr. Alex Chalk (Con) the Chair should be ashamed of himself for not having championed his committee's rights".

"This has come about because the Conservative Administration keeps using the "Three Dragons" financial modelling to explain why it is able to ignore H&F Council's planning policies and the Mayor's London Plan so it can avoid forcing developers to include affordable social housing in their schemes. Given that H&F Conservatives haven't granted permission for a single rented affordable social home since coming to power, five and a half years ago, it's hard to see the use of this model as anything other than a cynical manipulation of the planning processes for party political purposes".

"At the PAC on the 23rd September 2011, Labour’s there PAC members asked to see the calculations behind the Three Dragons financial model for the St. George's Fulham Reach scheme - which predictably had no affordable social housing. My colleagues rightly said that the PAC members needed to consider this critical information when making such a controversial decision and they had a right in law to view it. The planning officers had previously refused to send this info for other schemes but now agreed that PAC councillors did in fact have a right see it. They said it should have been requested in advance but would send it. However... they prevaricated, resisted sending it (despite further requests in writing) and now argue that because the decision has been made the PAC members no longer need to see that information for that scheme".

"They have now rushed through this draft protocol which seeks to diminish the rights of PAC councillors to see all of the financial modeling used to justify ignoring Borough and London planning policies on affordable housing. My colleagues believe they are being bounced. It's disgraceful".
But a Council spokesperson, speaking to me this afternoon said this:
"Our planning application committee operates in the same way as almost all those in other councils, and this protocol is merely a clarification to councillors of the current rules that any information they request must relate specifically to the planning application. The suggestion that this is an attempt to 'muzzle' councillors is absurd."
You be the judge:  the draft protocol, which the Council will not thank me for publishing like this, reads:

PLANNING APPLICATIONS COMMITTEE
[DRAFT] DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION PROTOCOL
1. Introduction
1.1 This Protocol sets out further guidance in respect of requests by Committee members for information relevant to planning matters submitted in confidence by third parties. It should be read in conjunction with the Local Protocol For Councillors On Access To Information in the Council’s Constitution (page 455-458). This Protocol deals with information which is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Local Government Act 1972.
2. The Issue
2.1 Financial viability is a material planning consideration in terms of the likelihood of the proposed development being carried into effect. This can be a very important issue when assessing the acceptability or otherwise of a development proposal, particularly where the proposal may not accord with the targets set by planning policy. The government encourages local planning authorities not to impose requirements on developers which render proposals non-viable unless serious harm would arise. It is frequently the case, particularly in the current economic climate and depressed development market, that a judgement has to be made regarding the viability of a development proposal and the impact on viability of any changes or obligations which the Council wishes to impose. Issues which typically arise and have most impact on viability include the quantum and density of development, the tenure mix of residential schemes and the scale of any planning obligations to be incorporated within a proposed s106 Planning Agreement.
Furthermore, financial viability is a consideration within the statutory development plan in relation to the provision of affordable housing. It is referred to in both London Plan policy 3.12 and Core Strategy policy H2.
2.2 In order for the Council as planning authority to properly determine the effect of planning requirements on development viability, the assessment and negotiation of planning applications frequently involves the consideration of financial and commercial appraisals prepared by developers; such appraisals invariably contain commercially confidential and sensitive information. Where such information is provided by an applicant to the Council on a commercially confidential basis the Council is under a duty to not to disclose that information to anyone else unless allowed or required to do so by law. Should the Council breach this duty it may be liable in damages for any loss caused. A member or officer who breaches confidentiality may also find themselves pursued personally by the person to whom the duty is owed in addition to any disciplinary proceedings which may be brought by the Council. It is therefore essential that all such information is carefully protected and where it is lawfully disclosed e.g. to Members, that such disclosure can be justified and that appropriate measures are taken to ensure the Council complies with its obligations.
3. The Principles
3.1 The legal principles to be applied in relation to a Member’s right to access information held by the Council are established in the leading House of Lords case of Birmingham City Council v. O [1983] and can
be summarised as follows.
(i) A Member does not have a roving commission to have access to any and every document in the Council’s possession.
(ii) Where a Member can establish a “need to know” in order to carry out their functions as a member then they will have extensive rights to access information, including confidential information.
(iii) It is for the Council (though delegation if it wishes) to decide in any given case whether a “need to know” arises subject to the usual Wednesbury principles.
3.2 It should be noted that:-
(i) A Member’s motive and the use to which they intend to put the information are highly relevant to establishing a “need to know”. An improper motive may vitiate a request.
(ii) Each request must be decided on its merits and on the basis of a properly made request.
(iii) In cases where the matter is not clear cut the final decision rests with the Council and the Courts will only interfere with such a decision where it can be shown to be irrational.
(iv) The Council has a duty to balance the rights of its Members with the rights of third parties who have submitted information in confidence.
(v) The right to have access to information does not necessarily confer a right to a copy of the information in permanent form.
Page 4
(vi) Under the Council’s Constitution decisions as to whether a “need to know” is established are delegated to the relevant Director (Executive Director following the Tri-Borough restructure).
4. Financial & Commercial Information & Committee Reports
4.1 As with all Council decision makers, the Committee is under a duty when making decisions to take into account all relevant matters. It follows that sufficient information must be contained in officers’ reports to permit intelligent consideration of all relevant matters. However, public administration would be impossible if Members were required to consider each and every relevant document in full and it is well established that Members may rely on officers to summarise and filter information and to present it in a digestible and readily understandable form.
4.2 For example, in the case of English v. East Staffordshire Borough Council [2010] it was held that it was perfectly proper for the committee to take a decision where the “gist” of the information but not the detail was provided in the report and had been subject to independent scrutiny. The committee had not requested the detailed information and had considered the contents of the report sufficient to enable them to properly consider the application.
4.3 The planning officers’ report to committee must, where relevant to an application under consideration, make explicit how financial viability has been considered in the assessment of the application and the formulation of the officers’ recommendations. In some cases, reliance will have been placed on assessment of viability data by in-house specialist property staff. In other cases external professional advice will have been sought from a valuation / accountancy company instructed by the Council and independent from the developer. As well as the original financial appraisal material submitted by the developer, there may be a written assessment provided by the professional valuation / accountancy advisors drawing conclusions from their independent review of the material provided by the developer. The officers’ report should summarise the gist of such material and independent advice without disclosing any commercially confidential exempt data.
5. Requests for Confidential Information
5.1 Requests by Members for confidential information relating to planning matters should always follow the requirements of the Constitution (page 455) which provides as follows:-
“1.1 All requests for documentation from Councillors should be routed through the Director, or where the Director is not available and the request is urgent, then it should be made to an Assistant or Deputy Director, or Head of Section as appropriate.
Page 5
It would be for the Councillor to explain why their particular request needed an urgent response.
1.2 Councillors are requested to:
• Be as specific as possible about the documentation that they
wish to see;
• Normally make the request in writing;
• State the reason for wanting the information, and the purpose to which it will be put.”
5.2 In addition, requests in relation to confidential planning information must always be made in writing and provide full reasons in order that they may be relied upon in any subsequent litigation.
5.3 Where a Member considers that they require the information in relation to an upcoming committee meeting and they consider the treatment of the matter in the published officers’ committee report to be inadequate then they shall provide full reasons for this belief in good time before the meeting, by writing to or e-mailing the Director and they should copy the request to the Chairman who may at his discretion consult with other committee members. In such circumstances the Director shall consult with the Chairman before reaching a decision. The Director shall provide reasons in writing for his decision.
5.4 Where the Director concludes that the information should be disclosed he/she may impose such conditions as he/she considers reasonable in the circumstances to protect the Council including requiring the Member to sign a confidentiality agreement undertaking not to share or disclose any of the information to any other person and allowing inspection of documents only rather than the provision of permanent copies.
5.5 It follows that if a Member has been granted access to commercially sensitive financial information provided to the Council in confidence, no reference to it can be made in public. The nature of the appraisal and the conclusions of any independent assessment or review of it can be discussed at the Planning Applications Committee, but there must be no discussion or disclosure of any of the commercially sensitive material or data contained within it in open session.


Michael Cogher.


Serious credit deserves to go to the Lib Dems for unearthing this, bearing in mind they don't have any councillors and therefore rely on volunteers.

It looks like Wednesday's meeting will be a defining one for Hammersmith & Fulham residents and whether or not our Council shares information with them.

1500 WEDNESDAY UPDATE - The Chronicle, from completely ignoring the story, has now caught up with it here. I can't imagine what led them to finally publish it. You know where you read it first - and why you can read it elsewhere. Keep sending the stories in folks.

1300 THURSDAY UPDATE - As ever with the Planning Applications Committee, the Council's preferred option was voted through last night, irrespective of the objections that were made by a number of the Labour councillors there. So there we are - information on property developments in H&F is "need to know" - and frankly, the Council don't think you do.

Speaking to me after the meeting Opposition Leader Stephen Cowan said this:
"Last night was a great victory for super rich property speculators and their Conservative Party friends and the ultimate victims were the millions of Londoners in need of a genuinely affordable, decent home for them and their families to buy or rent".

Police Appeal: Anti-Muslim assault on Australia Rd

Detectives from Hammersmith & Fulham are appealing for information following an unprovoked assault in Shepherds Bush.

On Sunday 25th September at approximately 20:30hrs a 25-year-old man was assaulted opposite the Grey House, Australia Road, White City Estate, W12.

The victim was walking to Shepherds Bush Mosque in full Islamic clothing when he was approached by three white males shouting religious insults at him then punched and dragged him to the floor. A member of the public intervened asking the males to stop. All three males stopped then walked down Australia Road towards the A40.

The victim was taken by ambulance to a West London hospital with facial injuries.

The suspects are described as three white males with English accents all approximately 45years of age.
  • Suspect 1 - described as fat build wearing an orange t-shirt, khaki coloured shorts above knee length, bald with a brown beard strip that went from his lower lip to his chin and approximately F507.
  • Suspect 2 - described as approximately F507, bald, fat build wearing a navy blue jumper and blue jeans.
  • Suspect 3 - described as approximately F509 and of medium build.
Detective James Gilly based in the Community Safety Unit at Fulham Police Station said:

"This was a senseless assault on someone that was simply going about his day to day business walking to the mosque. I would appeal for anyone who knows anything about the assault to come forward."

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective James Gilly based in the Community Safety Unit at Fulham Police Station on 0208 246 2828. Alternatively if you wish to remain anonymous call crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Market traders write to Cameron

Downing Street has written a letter to one of the Shepherd's Bush Market traders leading the campaign to save the historic row of shops on Goldhawk Road from the developers wrecking ball, and received a pretty standard cut and paste job of a reply. 

But what it does mean is that the Department for Communities & Local Government, to which the No10 letter refers, will also have to issue a formal reply. 







Ms Meghani says that in her letter to Mr Cameron, she pointed out that:
"he made great speeches on saving independent shops and on multiculturalism, and that his wife been the head of the British Fashion council, should really support us shops and the fashion industry".  
"I challenged him to come and visit us thriving shops, and should he really be demolishing these shops that has been serving the community collectively for 300yrs. I had stated, that these shops have been standing for almost 140yrs, with the oldest Pie shop in the UK".  
"Should he fail to support us, then his speeches would hold no fort, and in addition the fashion industry would collapse overnight, which he would then be responsible for. The question is, why demolish us, as we are doing something right to have sustain these number of yrs".
I'm not sure the British fashion industry really would collapse overnight if the Goldhawk Shops are knocked down, but you get the gist. After all, Council Leader Greenhalgh did promise that the shops would not be knocked down if the shop owners didn't want them to be at this public meeting - and then promptly forgot his promise.

So it's no surprise the traders have given up on him and the council, and are appealing to any other authority that they can. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Livingstone: H&F Tories should be jailed


More gaffes from Ken Livingstone as the old dinosaur again fell for an elephant trap placed in his path by some cunning Hammersmith Conservatives last week.

After his explosive comments to me when I interviewed him during his visit to Shepherd’s Bush Market earlier this year you might have thought he’d have learned his lesson.

But no, when challenged by Peter Graham, a Conservative councillor who also works for Greg Hands, MP for neighbouring Chelsea & Fulham, whether he’d meant to describe local Tories as “a bunch of crooks” for what they were planning on doing to the local area’s estates with property developers, against many residents wishes, Red Ken replied:

"Oh, yes. I think, frankly, you should all go to prison for what you’re doing in this borough. I think it’s what Shirley Porter did, and you’re destroying lives, and you should be ashamed of yourself. And if there’s any justice you will burn in hell and your flesh will be flayed by demons for all eternity."
Cue predictably excited tweets from the local Conservatives and local media who must be annoyed that for the second time Ken was in the borough, they missed the real story of his visit. But the real annoyance must surely be felt by Ken’s own media team, who must be thinking hard about whether to let the old bruiser anywhere near Hammersmith & Fulham ever again!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The great fireworks debate


Yesterday night I enjoyed a free fireworks display courtesy of the fact that Ealing Council territory is but a stone's throw from my front door. With a display that shook W12 windows in their frames and lit up the streets below, the good people of Hammersmith & Fulham gazed upwards at a display that was both well planned and superbly executed.

So today I made a comment about this on Twitter, for I shall be spending this evening at another display, this time in Newham with the in-laws, which will also be gratis for the local community and hangers-on like me. My point was that there seemed to be free displays all over London, with the exception of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Several of the ruling Conservative councillors immediately pointed out, quite rightly, that this was public money and that cash spent on things that go bang in the sky is cash not spent on local services. But others pointed out that a free local fireworks festival also generates local trade for businesses who are feeling the cold winds of recession.

Personally I don't have that much of a strong feeling about it and can see the councillors point - but I do just think its a shame that the local community won't be getting a display this year if they can't afford the £7 per person price tag. What think you?

Monday update - well the Newham display I attended was great, and from what I heard the Ravenscourt Park one was too - with lots of you actually managing to enjoy it for free from a secret public location not so very far from the park - clever Bushers. In the meantime, however, have a  read of the shenanigans going on down in South East London reported by my fellow blogger Daryll and thank goodness we don't have a Council as ridiculous as Greenwich. A (Labour) council that prefers funding Mayoral booze-ups to community events. And then they'll criticise the cuts.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Pic of the Bush

A superb image of Shepherd's Bush at night from a good friend of mine, photographer Stephen Iliffe, who'se work you can view here - his images are regularly featured on Londonist and elsewhere, and he tells me he took this shot on his way to a music concert one evening in the Bush.

Happy Friday!

Shepherd's Bush Green

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Drugs raid on Shepherd's Bush Market - 7 arrests

Hammersmith & Fulham Police have carried out a significant raid in Shepherds Bush Market.

On Wednesday 2nd November the intelligence led joint operation saw officers from Hammersmith & Fulham's Drugs Squad, Shepherds Bush Safer Neighbourhoods Team and Territorial Support Group execute a search warrant at Shepherds Bush Market, Shepherds Bush to disrupt drug dealing in the market. The officers descended upon various locations within the market where drugs were being stored and openly supplied.

During the search of the market stalls police recovered a kilo of herbal cannabis and £2,000 in cash. Drugs paraphernalia in the form of digital scales, bags and other packaging were also seized.

Seven males were arrested:
  • [A] 45 yr old man from Shepherds Bush 
  • [B] 50 yr old man from Hammersmith 
  • [c] 35 yr old man from Shepherds Bush 
  • [d] 40 yr old man from Hammersmith 
  • [e] 50 yr old man from Shepherds Bush 
  • [f] 45 yr old man from Shepherds Bush 
  • [g] 52 yr old man from Shepherds Bush
Detective Sergeant Simon Rogers from Hammersmith & Fulham's Drugs Squad said:
“This operation highlights the Drug Squads commitment to removing drug dealers from the streets of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Shepherds Bush Market is a breeding ground for Drug Dealing with storage units, market stalls, containers, cafes and restaurants all hidden in dark alleyways and narrow corridors with inadequate CCTV.

The dealers ‘ply their trade’ from business premises which are often a front for their criminal activities. They are organized, they employ spotters 24/7 and have strategic stash locations within the market which makes policing very difficult.

Yesterday’s operation was well planned and executed, and the results speak for themselves.

We will continue to work with local SNT’S and Partner Agencies in a bid to remove the dealers from the streets of Shepherds Bush".
Anyone who may have information relating to drugs should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.