Friday, 30 March 2012

607 Trolleybus film: 1960, Shepherd's Bush

This is perfect for Friday - Shepherd's Bush is on show in the first minute or so of this film, in colour, from 1960 as the 607 trolleybus as it was then trundles through W12. Enjoy.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ken Livingstone Battle Bus in Hammersmith

Ken Livingstone will be in Hammersmith this afternoon with all the whizz bangs you would imagine at the height of an electoral campaign which is still neck and neck. Ken and the bus he calls the Fare Deal Express are visiting all 32 London boroughs over two weeks with the message 'you're better off with Ken', highlighting the Labour candidate’s key pledges to ease the squeeze on ordinary Londoners.

Specifically, he promises an across the board fares cut which he says will be worth over £1,000 to every Londoner. 

The bus, balloons and the man himself will be at Lyric Square at 12.00 today, just in time to hit the lunchtime run in Hammersmith. Lucky, lucky shoppers.

 1400 UPDATE - Well, Ken came, he saw, and he tried to conquer! Actually he used this stop to launch a new pledge, packaged as a "voucher" for voters, pictured above,  to cut what he says will be over £1,000 from all of our annual fare bills. Here's what he had to say:

“I make no apology for the fact that the focus of my transport policy is to make it cheaper for Londoners to get around. This election is a referendum on who will make Londoners ‘better off’. Under my Fare Deal, the average fare payer will save £1,000 over the next four years - many will save much more.

‘Today I am launching my ‘London Travel Voucher’. I am saying to Londoners – keep hold of this voucher so that you have physical evidence of my promise to cut your fares. The voucher will be available online from today, but will only be valid if I am elected as Mayor on 3 May. Londoners who want to save £1,000 need to use their vote to cut fares.

‘Under Boris Johnson, millions of Londoners have been hit in their pockets and purses by the rising cost of living. I recognise the squeeze Londoners are feeling and alongside my fare cut I will freeze the Congestion Charge for 4 years and protect the Freedom Pass from age 60.” 

Ken then went on to buy himself a pasty in Hammersmith, from a stall on a sunny Lyric Square, before referring not just to the national story on the VAT rise on pasties introduced in the budget but also our very own fight in Shepherd's Bush to save A Cooke's Pie & Mash from H&F Council.

 Ken said:
"Like most Londoners I can't understand why the Tories want to introduce a new tax on pies - putting 20% on the cost of pasties and sausage rolls .

'London is famous around the world for pie and mash. We have some fantastic pie and mash shops in London from Romford to Shepherds Bush - I believe we have the best pies in the world.

'Thousands of Londoners work in the catering industry - why do the Tories want threaten their jobs? If Boris Johnson won't stand up for London on this issue I will."
When I last interviewed Ken, during his visit to Cooke's Pie & Mash, he said much the same then. Traders and shopowners in Shepherd's Bush who want to save this aspect of the Bush now know who to vote for. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hammersmith Bridge plaque for Marine Sam Alexander

The Plymouth Herald has the story that fallen Marine Sam Alexander, who was from Hammersmith, will have a plaque unveiled in his honour on Hammersmith Bridge this morning at 11am.

Mr Alexander, 28, was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device, after having won the Military Cross for charging a Taliban gunpost to provide cover for a wounded comrade. He and his family lived in Plymouth, the Marines being based there, and they along with others will be travelling to the ceremony this morning.

It is only the second such plaque to be fixed to the bridge, the first having been in honour of another soldier who in 1919 died attempting to rescue someone from the water.

Marine Alexander's mother told the Plymouth Herald:
"It is a tremendous solace to Sam's family and friends to have this memorial to him in so fitting a place. 
"His indomitable spirit, love of adventure and courage were evident at a very young age; as was his loving nature. 
"It is the wanting to make a better life for others that took him to Afghanistan, where he sincerely believed in the job that he was doing. 
"I am incredibly proud of him, but still miss him terribly."
The mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham, Councillor Frances Stainton, added:
"Sam Alexander has become a name to conjure with. 
"He stands for all that is best in our young men. He stands for the courage that goes way beyond what is asked for and for that unique love and loyalty soldiers in combat under fire discover."

New trees planted across H&F

76 new trees have been planted throughout the borough in recent weeks, including 10 on the Wormholt Estate in our own neck of the woods. 

Of the £10,000 provided by the Housing & Regeneration Department of our Council a total of £8,750 was spent on 15 new and 29 replacement trees on estates across H&F while 26 additional new trees were planted on housing estates in the central Hammersmith area funded by the Mayor of London. A further 6 new trees on the Clem Atlee Estate were funded by Aviva Insurance (as compensation for the removal of a line of mature poplars standing in Queens Club Gardens.)

The tree planting programme took place across the winter period and is now finished, with local contractors having spent a total of £10,000 - the remaining £1,250 from the original £10,000 having been used on the planting of scattered clumps of native whips (very small trees) and fruit trees.

All good stuff - as we're all noticing the sun makes a huge difference in how people seem to feel about themselves, and in an inner city borough like ours any green space is precious. One Councillor that clearly gets this is our old friend Cllr Harry Phibbs, who sent me the above details, and once invited you out on a tree walk around the borough. I disagree with much of the (mainly planning) decisions this Council takes but I have a lot of time for people like Harry, who clearly wants to spend time making a positive difference to people's surroundings. You don't get the big political credit for it a lot of the time, which is why many politicians don't really bother, but things like this really count. So well done him, and the Council. 

Now then, when's this work on Bush Green going to be over with?!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Heathrow third runway back on

The Government has been busily briefing Sunday journalists this week about a possible u-turn on their opposition to a third runway at Heathrow airport, which formed a key plank of their campaign to win votes here in West London.

At the time local Tories in H&F lampooned Andy Slaughter MP for having been a member of a Government who were committed to the introduction of a new runway and the extra flights and flying hours that would come with it. This is despite the fact that he had actually resigned his Ministerial position in order to fight the scheme. 

Our Council too produced leaflets and other materials in opposition to the Heathrow plans and pleged to die in the ditches before the runway came to pass. Leader of the Opposition David Cameron promised voters in Hammersmith that he would never let the runway pass. Boris Johnson, characteristically, came up with some new scheme involving a random island he’d found in the Thames Estuary which was immediately christened “Boris Island” – yielding acres of personal PR which was presumably the aim of the scheme. At the time I praised our Council 

How times change.

The stories that appeared in today’s Observer and Independent were placed there by Tory spin doctors acting as a classic “softening up” strategy from what I can see. The aim is to get people used to the possibility, see what sort of reaction they get and then press ahead with further announcements that will probably seek to blame the recession on having little option but to open London to other markets.

In the wake of today’s revelations the Conservative MP Greg Hands, of the neighbouring Chelsea constituency, has been uncharacteristically silent on the issue. He is normally the quickest to tweet and comment on local issues, but comment there has come none. Could this have something to do with the fact that as a Government Whip he has to support the idea or resign? Something tells me Mr Hands isn’t minded to resign.

But the real victim of all of this may well be Boris. As Ken Livingstone’s campaign descends into shambolic in-fighting in the wake of revelations about his own tax affairs we have now seen not just the Cash for Cameron affair on the national stage but now questions about whether or not Boris supports the idea of expanding Heathrow – and the worse thing about that for him is that he has to provide the answer before polling day.

Voters living under the flight path may wish to pay special attention, and vote accordingly.

MONDAY UPDATE - Late yesterday afternoon I received a response from both Greg Hands MP and Cllr Harry Phibbs from our Council, and also Boris Johnsons' camp on this story. Boris appears to be unequivocal while Mr Hands is a little bit on the fence but here they are -

Speaking to me on Twitter Mr Hands said:

Hmm - doesn't answer why George Osborne's media people decided to brief journalists that there was perhaps a case for the third runway after all.

Also speaking on social media Councillor Harry Phibbs re-iterated H&F Council's firm opposition:

But then, intriguingly, he added:

Meanwhile Boris Johnson's own camp weighed in with a very firm riposte indeed, with a spokesman releasing this statement to the same media that had been briefed by others in the Tory ranks that a third runway was a possibility:
"Boris Johnson said: ‘Heathrow has a great future as a key UK airport. But we cannot endlessly expand it, and cram a quart into a pint pot. 
A third runway would be an environmental disaster. It would mean a huge increase in plans over London, and intolerable traffic and fumes in the west of the city – and it will not be built as long as I am Mayor of London. 
That is why the Government is right to look at all new solutions for extra aviation capacity except the third runway at Heathrow. I look forward to engaging with Justine Greening’s consultation this summer. 
By contrast, Ken Livingstone’s useless anti-business policies would mean no extra aviation capacity anywhere in the south east. 
He offers no hope to British business that needs direct flights to Asia and Latin America.
His delusional programme seems to mean grounding the business community in London – but spending huge sums of taxpayers’ money for himself and his cronies to visit Hugo Chavez. That is no way to grow the London economy."
Note - 'while I am Mayor of London' - even if the scheme was given absolute go ahead within Boris' second term it would not, of course, be built while he was Mayor of London. So, as ever with Boris, when you look beneath the bluster all is not quite as it seems. 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Askew Road Stabbing

Forensics officers take photographs of crime scene
A man was stabbed in the Askew Cuts barber shop on the corner of Askew and Goldhawk Roads at around 6pm this evening according to witnesses and other sources I have spoken to at the scene. I am reliably informed that a weapon has been found and that the chief suspect for the stabbing has handed himself in at a police station and is now in custody.

Witnesses stood outside the scene told me of their shock at what they'd seen with one man, a resident on nearby Greenside Road, having seen what he described as a “gang of around a dozen or fourteen young men” who were banging on the window of the barber shop urging those inside to put hoods over their heads. The witnesses, who wanted to remain anonymous, told me that they were unsure intially what was going on and quickly left the area worried for their safety but then ventured out again when the police arrived. They were, and I spoke to three sets of them independently, visibly shaken and quite unsure of what to do with themselves. Several drifted off to a nearby pub.

Greenside Road sealed off for fingertip search
The gang of men banging on the window of the barber shop during the incident were described to me as both black and white with their ages estimated as being in their early twenties.

There is a very heavy police presence indeed and specialist forensics officers are scouring the scene, taking photographs of the shop and surrounding road. It is likely that a fingertip search will follow that so the disruption to traffic, which has calmed down after the initial response blocked the road, will continue for much of the evening.

Speaking to me on the scene the officer in charge of the investigation on the scene, who I took to be CID since he was in plain clothes, told me the Police were unable to officially confirm or deny the facts I have reported but I am confident of both the witness accounts, since I had three which independently corroborated each other, to report the above.

Police incident team manage early criminal investigation
I would anticipate the official version coming to me shortly which I will also share.

For the time being, stay safe – I've never actually known an incident like that in that particular part of W12 and despite the inevitable sensationalism that this sort of thing is sometimes reported with it is still a very unusual thing to happen. And having accompanied our Police on their work I can vouch for how good they are. The last major incident like this was the murder of Jaabe Roberts a bit further up the Askew Road back in June 2010 - the area has moved on significantly since then, but sadly it seems not enough.

0730 SUNDAY UPDATE - I understand the victim was stabbed in the torso and that his injuries are 'serious' but not life threatening. He remains in hospital. The official police account of the incident is still yet to be published. Which is not great. 

1200 SUNDAY UPDATE - The police have just given me the below statement:
"Police were asked to attend an incident at Seven Stars Corner which is on Goldhawk Road at its junction with Paddenswick Road where approximately 10 males were believed to be fighting. Police units arrived at 1906 and were directed to a Barbers Shop at 256A Goldhawk Road, W12 and found the victim, a 24 year old black male from W12, with wounds to his abdomen and left lower and upper arm. He was taken to a local hospital and following an operation his condition was described as not life-threatening. At 1921 Greenslade Road at the junction with Goldhawk Road was closed up to Leysfield Road and buses were prevented from turning right from Paddenswick Road. A male was arrested at Shepherds Bush Police Station a short time later and interviewed regarding this matter, he has not been charged at this time. The Crime scene was closed at 1529 on the 24th"

STUNG: Police vid of H&F crims in act

Crims in H&F have been caught red handed by houses and vehicles left deliberately equipped with cameras ready to capture passing villains who want to try and break into them. This video, which boasts that the scheme has yielded a 100% conviction rate and over 8 years worth of sentences, is well worth a watch if only to catch a glimpse of who these people are that think it's OK to smash their way into your car or home.

H&F I'm told is the first borough in London to actually have properties set up in this way and the stats tell their own story in terms of success against thieves. Watch until at least half way through when you see a particularly well dressed crim who's crawled through a window and tries to make off with the telly - he spends half his time looking in the mirror - gotta look good when you're a-thievin, innit.

It's part of Operation Glatton and continues a trend in H&F of "sting" or decoy vehicles set for the purpose of catching wrong-do-ers. It's this sort of innovation that has started winning the Police in Shepherd's Bush national awards. I had the chance to see their work for myself last year. Carry on the good work.

Video: What are YOU wearing Shepherd's Bush?!

"ooh, I like your bag"! exclaims the young guy presenting this fairly random film taken on the edges of Westfield, and he stops passing men to get them to tell us all what they're wearing. I assume he is a fashion student or something, but this is worth watching just for the mild comedy factor! Most amusing for me is how the passing blokes try to name drop their employers (who happen to be based in Westfield, donchaknow) into the conversation without it looking like name-dropping.

Wait for "Phil" at the end - who is told he's really cool and that the presenter likes his moustache as well - "thanks very much" says a beaming Phil.

I assume it was approved filming by Westfield - after all, this is what happens when they don't like what you're filming...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Man hit by bus outside tube

Pic taken by reader working at Kodak Shop
A man has reportedly been hit by a bus outside Shepherd's Bush Market tube station, causing the air ambulance to land on the Green. Emergency services are at the scene and I have asked the local police for a situation update which I will post on here as and when I get it.

Air ambulance on Bush Geen - Pic courtesy of @shunnock
It has horrible echoes of an incident only weeks ago outside the other central line station. We are all hoping that the outcome is different of course.

In the meantime keep your fellow Bushers updated on the comments section in the normal way.

1600 UPDATE - I understand the man has been airlifted to hospital from the Air Ambulance now and that the Police are trying to re-clear the Uxbridge Road which has been blocked according to some of you since the accident took place.

1800 UPDATE - It appears that the victim was conveyed to hospital by road, rather than by air ambulance as several eye witnesses reported - which has been gleefully tweeted and retweeted by the Chronicle, presumably because they took so long to catch up with the story today. Let's remind ourselves of their committment to accuracy, shall we? Leave the pettiness for another time, boys.

FRIDAY 0730 UPDATE - And, lo, ahead of the Chronicle here are the details which I've just received from the Police on yesterdays' incident, with a spokesman telling me:

"we were called by the LAS at 1448 to Frithville Gardens at junction with Uxbridge Road to a male pedestrian who was involved in a Road Traffic Collision. The Air Ambulance landed at Shepherds Bush Common at 1452 and treated a male who had deep cuts to his head and was, at the time, unconscious. The Uxbridge Road was reduced to one line of traffic outside Shepherds Bush Market Station and at 1517 the male was taken by Ambulance to a local hospital. The roads were reopened at 1535".

The man's injuries are NOT believed life threatening or life changing. So that's a relief.

sent in by reader wishing to remain anonymous

Shepherd's Bush Market: Guardian piece

A while ago I was asked, along with some blogging colleagues covering different areas of London, to capture a glimpse of the Bush that summed up some of the issues confronting Londoners as they choose their next Mayor. I chose the future of our Market, partly because it's one of the biggest battles in our area at the moment pitting our Boris-backed Council against residents and traders and partly because in an area as transient as W12 the Market is one of the few fixed corners of the Bush.

Have a read here - it's a contribution to the Manifesto for a Model Mayor project beig run by the newspaper at the moment, which seeks to 'crowd source' ideas from Londoners themselves about what a genuinely representative set of policies would look like.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

West Ken Estate: Mayor accused of conflict of interest

Pantomime: Planning decisions in H&F and GLA
We're in pantomime season in H&F. A predictably farcical meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall took place on Monday night, at which our Council decided to once again ignore the express wishes of the majority of residents of the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estate and give the go ahead, via the approval of a 'supplementary planning document', to property developers CapCo to press ahead with their scheme to knock 760 homes down so that the area can be redeveloped.

And we're in pantomime season at the London Assembly too. During the last Mayoral Question Time before the elections in May Labour Assembly Member Nicky Gavron noted that in a recent consultation the majority of residents had expressed their opposition to the scheme by a very large majority. And she asked whether the Mayor was aware of that, given that he would be asked to sit in judgement of whether the scheme can go ahead.

Now bear in mind the Mayor has not yet officially looked at the planning application and must therefore be impartial. Which is strange because Mr Johnson's response indicated he had in fact already made up his mind, and talked about doing "...everything we can to ensure there is a very high quality scheme that protects local residents and delivers on things that matter to Londoners."

Perhaps realising he had given the game away he then rebuked Ms Gavron for "seeking to embroil me in this".

Ms Gavron pressed on and asked him to confirm that as Chair of Transport for London he was therefore the biggest landowner in the area proposed for re-development and was therefore the biggest equity holder. In other words this scheme stood to make a wadge of cash for an organisation which he was head of - wasn't that a conflict of interest, she asked?

Mr Johnson then mumbled about not knowing the "..detail in your question."

You can listen to the exchange for yourself by clicking here.

The Residents Association themselves, still determined not to give in much to the annoyance of our Council, have written to the General Counsel (chief lawyer) of TfL asking that these interests are laid before the London Assembly before the Mayor takes his planning decision. Given that it appears the Mayor has now revealed his intention to press ahead regardless of residents wishes it seems that, just as with Shepherd's Bush Market, here too there are only two things that can save these people's homes - a successful legal hold-up or a change of Mayor at the next election.

0830 UPDATE - My fellow blogger BorisWatch has been in touch to point out that TfL specifically had the law of the land changed to facillitate this scheme. You can find the relevant Bill here, with the relevant text reading:

It is expedient that provision be made in relation to the restriction under section 163 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c.29) on Transport for London’s 5 powers to dispose of certain land.

It goes on to confer powers on TfL to form "partnerships" and "mitigate risks". 

So Boris expects us to believe a) he doesn't know the "details" of what he is responsible for as Chair of TfL and b) he forgot that the organisation which he Chairs actually went to Parliament to change the law. I leave it to your judgement.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Goldhawk Rd flytipper fined, named & shamed

Aman, 85 Goldhawk Road: The Bad Guys
A shop owner has been landed with a large fine after admitting to dumping his rubbish on the streets. He's fallen victim not just to his own greed in seeking to avoid paying for litter removal services but our Council's increasing use of the media as a means of naming and shaming local bad guys.

For his downfall is currently a lead story being pumped out by the restlessly active media team at Hammersmith Town Hall who see his humiliation as a means of proving their get-tough policies are working. And in fairness I don't have much sympathy for the shop-owner - not only does it pollute everyone else's environment but it also feeds our ever growing local rat population - but I do wonder at the effectiveness of naming and shaming what is at the end of the day just a local shopkeeper.

Either way Councillor Greg Smith, who is one of the more verbally pugilistic among his colleages, is having none of my lilly-livered doubts. He says this:
“Research shows that 98 per cent of the borough’s streets are cleaner than the national standard. We spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money keeping our streets clean so we will not tolerate an irresponsible minority undermining our hard work. The message is clear – if you want to get rid if your trade waste, make sure you do so legally or be ready to pay the consequences.”
At Hammersmith Magistrates Court on February 28, 2012, the owner of the Aman shop Manmohan Singh Arora pleaded guilty to three fly tipping offences and one 'duty of care' offence. This was after council officers had noted bags of waste outside the shop and has repeatedly asked the owners where they disposed of their rubbish. Most of these invites were ignored until Mr Arora was served with a £300 fixed penalty and invited, under caution, to an interview at Hammersmith Town Hall where he admitted flytipping at the Bestway Cash & Carry.

In total, the Court fined Aman £1,000 for flytipping and trade waste offences and was ordered to pay costs of £2,322. A £15 victim surcharge was also imposed, making a total of £3,337.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Imperial West development: controversy and tall buildings

Residents view from Oxford Gardens
Residents on both sides of the H&F/K&C divide continue to be up in arms about the proposed Imperial West development, as the prospect of yet more tall buildings - a 30 storey monster on the next door Dairy Crest site for example - loom into view alongside the 10 storey ones already in place on the White City Opportunity Area. The plans have been dubbed as giving rise to the "Twin Towers" of the Bush.

Central to the plans for Imperial Colleges’ new campus on the site, which it purchased for £28 million, is housing facilities for 600 postgraduate students. Plans have already been approved for this and construction work is underway, with the College predicting they’ll be ready for occupation in ‘Autumn 2012’.

But as you can see from the very defensively worded FAQ section of Imperial College’s website they acquired the site to provide student accommodation and academic buildings – which is fair enough – but what they don’t talk about so much is that they are now seeking planning permission for commercial offices, a hotel and a 110 metre tall block of flats.

This, along with the Council’s plans to build up to 4,500 homes and several other facilities on the land has led residents who will be living in the shadow – quite literally – of the schemes which collectively make up the “White City Opportunity Area” less than impressed. They are particularly worried about the centre piece of the development – a very tall tower indeed.

'Poor Man's Shard' viewed from the South
The proposed skyscraper, providing luxury apartments with views across the capital, would be even taller than Trellick Tower, the West London tower block which is all the way over in Westbourne Park/Ladbroke Grove but can be seen clearly from W12.

Imperial College seems to be taking advantage of wider proposals for the White City Opportunity Area, which are still subject to consultation and approval. Opponents argue that the scale of the scheme does not respect the nearby residential streets. They believe the plans are being rushed through in advance of the Mayoral elections in May and before a new local planning framework is consulted on and approved.This is an accusation made by numerous others in Hammersmith & Fulham – those in West Kensington and Shepherd’s Bush Market, for example.

Residents groups are concerned that the planned tower will create a precedent, leading to a barricade of tall buildings being built along the border between Hammersmith and Kensington. Another developer has already submitted an initial application for permission for a 30-storey building on the adjacent Dairy Crest site. And departing Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who has a penchant for property developers building very tall buildings, is taking on a “special” role overseeing the area’s development. So the signs for residents aren’t good, frankly.

In the shadow of the Shard - projected shade cast by luxury flat tower over W12 & K&C
Houses in neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea will be among those worst affected. The planned 35-storey tower and a number of other buildings of 7-13 storeys will dominate the skyline to the west of North Kensington as well as the Bush. Those opposed to the tower have dubbed it the "poor man's shard", in reference to the other giant that looms up from London Bridge now.

Henry Peterson, chair of the St Helens Residents Association, says this:
“Hammersmith and Fulham Council planners seem preoccupied with an irrational desire to build tall towers to create a ‘gateway to London’ but we see no evidence of local demand for this type of development. Imperial College is selling the benefits of this as an academic campus but it transpires that they are looking for a very large commercial return and many residents feel that they have been misled.”
They have launched a petition against the scheme which you can find here and recently gained coverage in the Evening Standard and elsewhere.

This all gives me a real sense of deja-vu as it is pretty much next door to the Westfield development and I remember well talking to residents of Macfarlane Road and others about the way they felt voiceless in the face of the Westfield behemoth. Now it appears the giant is a property developer dressed in the clothes of an academic medical institution, but behaving no less aggressively for that.

Having been speaking to the residents of the campaign, however, I wouldn’t say it’s a done deal just yet. They are highly motivated and understand the politics of both H&F and K&C very well - and of course Boris was eventually forced to put the King Street development on ice. I would imagine Ken Livingstone might be receiving votes from some normally fairly Conservative areas in this part of West London in May – and it wouldn’t be the first time our Council’s love-in with property developers has cost a Conservative candidate dear.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Dairy Crest site: Tower planned

The Bush Twin Towers
Guess what? Our Council want another tower! This time it's the regeneration of the Dairy Crest site, which we last looked at as a result of the fire that raged there one morning, provoking a very strange day in the Bush.

The developers, Helical Bar, wish to construct a 30 storey tower, to go alongside the 35 storey one by Imperial College, to form what might be known as the Twin Towers of the Bush. I say might be, because one of the residents who sent me this information suggested it and I thought it sounded quite good. Who knows.

Anyway, there is a chance to have a look at the plans which are represented by the above image which has been sent to me ahead of it even apppearing on their own website - and certainly appears here ahead of anywhere else, so click on it to get a better view.

The details of the drop-in sessions, which are open to all, are as follows:
  • Wood Lane Community Centre, in Wood Lane 3pm - 8pm March 23 
  • Phoenix High School Post 16 Centre, in The Curve, 10am - 2pm March 24
  • Harrow Club in Preston Road 4pm - 8pm March 26
Macfarlane Road and the surrounding streets have all been blitzed by the developers with what have been described to me as "glossy brochures" which apparently say little about the size and scale of the plans. Take a look for yourselves at the drop in session - I might even see you there.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Car smashes into shop on Askew Road

pic from @sachab
A car, clearly driven at high speed, has smashed into the front of the print shop just down from the doctor's surgery on Askew Road this morning. Locals have reported that the driver first hit more than one other car before ploughing into the shop, and then allegedly abandoned the vehicle - prompting suspicions that it was stolen but this has yet to be confirmed by the Police. I have asked them for details.

The print shop, which I and I'm sure many of you use, is a small business which has built a local reputation among the other businesses along the road for good service. This morning they'll be arriving to a scene of devastation and will understandably be very upset. If they're reading this I think I can say we all wish them a speedy return to business and getting back on their feet. 

In the meantime feel free to update your fellow Bushers in the normal way via the comments. More to come.

0930 UPDATE - some of the speculation about it being stolen appears to be being withdrawn, which is a good sign. In the meantime someone else has pointed out that people actually live above that shop, which means the flat/s will need to be checked to ensure the structure is still sound. So thoughts with them too.

Labour: West London Free School a success

Andrew Adonis
A former Labour education Minister has condemned those in his own ranks who oppose the idea of Free Schools as "mad", and points out that the West London Free School in Hammersmith is an example of a high quality school that is pushing up the bar of quality education while responding to local need.

Writing in the New Statesman Mr Adonis claims simply that Free Schools were in fact Labour policy, it's just that the Tories decided to give them a new name - "Free School" instead of "Academy" - and carry them on anyway. And he should know, he was the architect of Labour's education policies for most of the time of the last Government.

One of the key strengths of the schools, he argues, is their strong link with parents who in many cases actually set them up. This is what he says about our own West London Free School:
"parent groups can be highly effective sponsors, as is proving the case with the West London Free School, established by the journalist Toby Young and fellow parents in Hammersmith. Having visited WLFS, I say simply that Labour would be mad to propose to abolish it. The quality of teaching and leadership is very good, and the intake reflective of the local community. Tellingly, several of the parent-promoters are also teachers. 
"WLFS, together with the nearby Hammersmith Academy, a free school established under Labour and sponsored jointly by the Information Technologists' Company and the Mercers' livery company (which also sponsors the outstanding Thomas Telford city technology college in Shropshire), are new model community comprehensives helping to redress the large outflow of Hammersmith children to private schools and to state schools outside the borough. It is especially bizarre that WLFS has been criticised for teaching Latin. Why should children have to go to private schools such as the Latymer Upper School next door, with its fees of £15,000 a year, to learn Latin? And why should we accept that children are unable to learn Latin in the state system and, therefore, that classicists entering top universities overwhelmingly come from public schools"?
That last reference will be a sting in the tail for our MP, Andy Slaughter, who is frequently pillloried by his Conservative opponents in the borough for having attended Latymer Upper School and yet opposed West London Free School. The charge being, presumably, that he shouldn't seek to prevent other kids receiving the same high quality education as he did.

In fairness to Mr Slaughter he has said he wishes the school well now that it is a fixture in the borough, but the venom of the political debate on the issue is not likely to disappear any time soon. Not least because the pugnacious Toby Young rarely misses an opportunity to engage in some verbal street fighting on the issue.

After I reported in January last year that Mr Young was the "evictor in chief" of the charities formerly housed in Palingswick House in Hammersmith, which was sold to the school by our Council, he asked for a right of reply which I published here. The location of the school was just one of the many objections thrown at it at the time.

Politics aside, I am a local parent too and have heard mainly good things about the school - from people who have kids there and from others who want their kids to go there. These are not politicians or people with axes to grind one way or another, they're just local people who want the best for their children. And their voices have often been drowned out by the loudspeakers of others.

I have met Mr Adonis on several occasions and in my view he was always one of the most considered and clearly thoughtful Ministers in the Government, which is presumably why he was elevated to a senior position by Tony Blair ahead of the envious ranks of others. This, and the fact that he was once - shock horror - a member of another party, always meant that he was subjected to lots of tribalism from some of his fellow Labour peers, and I suspect this article will provoke more of the same. But Labour would be very foolish indeed not to listen to somebody who knows very much what he is talking about.

Fortuna ad schola! 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

H&F Council accused of tax-dodging

The Telegraph reports that our Council has a "medium to high risk" of having to pay the Inland Revenue substantial sums of money in tax that their controversial consultant Nick Johnson has dodged by making sure he is paid through a small company he set up for that purpose. 

Mr Johnson is being paid £710 per day to pursue the West Kensington estate demolition scheme against the massed ranks of people who live there.

The Telegraph quotes the Council's own confidential report which was prepared by accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers and seen by the BBC, which found that Mr Johnson's position meant he would normally be considered an "office holder" meaning that there was a "medium-to-high risk that there was a PAYE obligation" on the council.

Our Council of course dispute this, issuing furious denunciations every time it is reported. And yet, in the meantime, some of those same Conservatives have been furiously denouncing Labour candidate for Mayor Ken Livingstone for the heinous crime of, er, paying himself through a private company to dodge tax.

Unkinder observers than I might detect a whiff of hypocrisy.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Trust: Chelsea fans split over H&F & CFC

Chelsea Football Club and Hammersmith & Fulham Council seem split over whether the existing Stamford Bridge stadium can be extended to accomodate 60,000 fans or whether the club will have to leave the borough.

The Football Club said recently that in all likelihood our Council would turn down planning permission for a larger stadium and that therefore they should leave, having already appointed architects to look at the Battersea power station site. 

But last week our Council replied that it would be possible to enlarge the stadium and that the club should stay. Chelsea fans suspect the Clubs motivation has more to do with the failed attempt to buy the pitch from the fan organisation that owns it, infuriating owner Roman Abramovitch

My fellow blogger over at True Blue, a Chelsea fan site, asks the question - who do you trust? The Council or the Club? It's a question over trust on planning issues that for me has come to define this Council, with trust being in short supply from residents after being repeatedly ignored in favour of property developers - just think of the Hammersmith King Street project which is on ice (and will return if Boris is re-elected), the Goldhawk Road scheme, the Shepherd's Bush Market scheme and of course the West Ken estate. In each case a 'consultation' is launched, but the Council does what it wants anyway - and then tries to gag the planning committee that is supposed to act independently.

True Blue puts the Chelsea situation thus:

Hmmmm, do you trust the club? 

Hammersmith and Fulham council, is by and large extremely sensitive to criticism, and what it sees as political pressure being heaped upon it, especially when the next election is never too far away. 

Councillor Nick Botterill, deputy leader of the council said in his awe-inspiring way: “Stamford Bridge is Chelsea’s historic home and the council believes it should be their future home.

“We cannot comment on the financial conclusions CFC have drawn but it is very likely that any move away from Fulham would cost far more than the £600million the club claims it would cost to rebuild its current ground or the cost of upgrading and expanding the existing Stamford Bridge structures.”

So if they cannot comment on Chelsea financial conclusions, how DID they come to conclude that it would cost Chelsea FC more than £600million to move out of the borough.

Chelsea would no doubt, like it to be known that the council hasn’t come up with any figures to back up that assertion.

So who do you now trust?

The club say that they have no plans (yet) to propose a new buy back of CPO shares.

The council says its willing to talk to the club - the club says likewise.

Neither seems willing to make the first move towards meaning and binding dialogue.

For my penny’s worth, I think both sides are so disingenuous - their past actions and words are paradigm examples of this, that it is clear that the present incumbents are neither truly willing or capable of finding a solution.

A reasonable conclusion. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Acton Depot: window onto the past

A map displaying Shepherd's Bush from 1901
Acton Transport Museum Depot is a stone's throw from the Bush, just up the Uxbridge Road (Actonians call this road "The Vale" for some reason) and turn left by Morrisons - opposite Acton Town tube. The Depot is a branch of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and is the home for all kinds of relics of London's journeying past.

It opens twice a year and welcomes a flood of people through its doors who seem to be either transport geeks or families on a day out. You can spot the geeks because they helpfully sport huge bushy beards and wear lots of metal badges on their hats and coats.

But who am I to mock - I'm a geek when it comes to history and this place takes you into the very earliest years of the 19th century, with real life horse drawn omnibuses that Dickens would have seen trundling over the cobbles but it also lets you re-make old acquaintances that you'd long forgotten or only hazily remember - such as the red and green old Northern line trains I remember on one of my first visits to London in the mid 1990s before they were taken out of service.

It reminded me heavily of the dramatic scenes that were recreated when I visited Aldwych disused train station in 2010, populated by superb actors and which recreated the lives of Londoners sheltering down there as the German bombs rained down death and destruction during the blitz. And provoked thoughts of the people working down there, as has been excellently presented by the BBC's Tube series currently on air.

Even the "old" Victoria line train, only withdrawn last year, now sits in a Depot berth, having proudly joined the ranks of Tube grandees.

So after climbing on a couple of old trains and buses the kids start to get fidgety. Just as well there is a miniature steam train to ride up and down on then, as well as a miniature tram! There were also numerous train sets to play with and some heavily over-priced trinkets (£7 for a tube map mousemat - it's almost as expensive as Boris has made the tube!)

In some ways this is a hopelessly out of date article since the doors hiding these gems away are now closed until the colder months and darker nights draw in again - but I first found this place after reading and article like this and just putting a reminder in my diary for nearer the time. And I strongly recommend you do the same.

Details here.

You may wish to buy a ticket online - the queue was substantial!

Friday, 9 March 2012

H&F pedestrian crossings "unsafe for blind"

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has been in touch with me to warn that there are four pedestrian crossings in our borough that lack any measures, such as audible sounds or tactile indicators, which make them dangerous for blind or partially sighted people to use.

The crossings in H&F were revealed as part of a London wide question to Boris Johnson by LibDem Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, which revealed 347 such crossings across the capital. Westminster is the worst offender with 45 while Hackney accounts for 18 and Southwark has a total of 17. Only Kingston Upon Thames and Hillingdon are not represented on the list. 

The figures also show that there are 113 crossings which fail national safety standards by not providing the minimum amount of time for people to safely cross the road. 

One blind person, Mohammed Mohsan, said this about the crossings: 
"Many people don't realise how frightening it can be to try and cross the road without the help of rotating cones or audible sounds, you can end up waiting for ages trying to guess when the cars might have stopped.  
"I have had some bad experiences crossing busy roads in London and it would really boost my confidence if I could make it safely and easily to the other side without my heart pounding in fear." 
Hugh Huddy, RNIB Campaigns Officer, said: 
"If the green man sign on a crossing is broken, then it is marked as out of order. Bleeps and tactile cones are the way that blind and partially sighted people judge that it is safe to cross, so without them the crossing is effectively out of order to anyone with a sight problem. 
"Failing to install and maintain accessible road crossings cannot be justified. Every crossing without bleeps or tactile cones is unsafe for the UK's two million with sight loss."
Difficult to disagree. The crossings that are dangerous for blind people in H&F are:
  • L.B. Hammersmith & Fulham A4 TALGARTH ROAD - GLIDDON ROAD 
  • L.B. Hammersmith & Fulham A308 NEW KINGS ROAD - BAGLEY'S LANE‪
1200 UPDATE - With full credit to the Council they have responded to this article within a few hours. An official within the transport department tells me that they have looked at converting the crossings to be puffin crossings but that this in itself wouldn't do anything other than to give a bit more time to the blind person. And in any case the locations above are signallised so they can't be converted.

He tells me that they are "investigating the issues" and want to see TfL's plans to see if they can't be speeded up - junctions are usually updated when TfL come to renovate them.

I'm glad they're looking into this and I think they deserve real credit for being open about it - hopefully this article (and I'll be returning to the issue having spoken to local organisations representing the blind and visually impaired) will speed things up.

    Thursday, 8 March 2012

    Fulham Chronicle & Anonymous comments

    Journalists at the Fulham Chronicle seem to be behind some of the anonymous comments on this blog. Click on the image above for a full view.

    A short while ago, and following a particularly abusive episode from a journalist called Adam Courtney, I was advised by several of you privately to invest in a system which monitors what are called IP Addresses - IP stands for Internet Protocol and is basically an electronic signature that identifies computers. It's all a bit big brother-ish really and in my view goes against the spirit of the internet, blogging and free comment.

    But then so does anonymously posting on websites, pretending to be other people and generally being obnoxious. So I took the advice and it reveals that one Chronicle journalist seems to pay particularly close attention to the comments section of this blog. 62 visits today just from his computer to visit the comments section of an article I posted about last nights People's Question Time. Which he didn't attend.

    But it gets worse - I also now have the ability to look at some of the other really nasty comments that have been put on here in the past too - and there have been some particularly vile ones -  and work out which IP address they come from. Any that came from Trinity Mirror Group IP addresses will be published and I will be writing to the editor of the Chronicle to seek his views about why he thinks its OK for his journalists do this.

    Or would they like to explain themselves on here first? We shall see.

    In the meantime please do continue to post your views - I am not remotely interested in people's IP address unless they start to get abusive, and that very rarely happens, thankfully.

    Boris skips question on Shepherd's Bush Market

    ...and nearly provokes a riot.

    Boris held his last "People's Question Time" this evening at Hammersmith Town Hall and it was a lively affair. Notable for interventions by the Occupy London Movement and others protesting the so-called "Super Sewer" project in Fulham, Boris also faced questions on a range of issues from cyclist deaths through to the environment and the noise generated by buses.

    A wide range indeed.

    I congratulated the Mayor on having over-ruled the Council on the detested King Street scheme which drew raucous applause from the crowd of around a thousand, but then followed by asking the Mayor whether he was likely to apply the same standards and rule out the equally unpopular Shepherd's Bush market scheme.

    Answer there came none.

    Not being thin skinned I put this down to him being a politician - but Aniza Meghani, of one of the Goldhawk Road shops set to be demolished was in less mood to be ignored. And this being a blog you can watch the exchange for yourself, which is moderated by Boris' deputy - the Conservative Assembly Member Kit Malthouse.

    You can see they are both desperate to move on and talk about something else instead. One to remember when making up your mind come election day, perhaps.

    March 20th UPDATE – Well Boris Johnson’s PR people have been busy preparing their own censored version of People’s Question Time in Hammersmith, and wouldn’t you know it – the Shepherd’s Bush Market question, which came up repeatedly and throughout the evening has been airbrushed out!

    That, coupled with the fact that the Fulham Chronicle didn’t even turn up, all rather suits our Council which shouldn’t come as any surprise.

    What, perhaps, should also come as no surprise is that Boris is filmed apparently putting the boot into the Thames Tunnel scheme. The great man is pictured nodding sagely, with concern etched across his brow, as a gentleman from Carnworth Road in Fulham says their community is about to be ruined.

    What’s this – a development imposed from the outside against residents wishes?! That is the norm in the north of the Borough but down in Fulham, where all of the ruling councillors live, they just won’t stand for it.

    Boris is outraged and says he is “very concerned” at the scheme’s impact on local people and worries that it might “whack up bills” for Londoners. He’s onto it, he reassures residents.

    What a difference a postcode makes in Hammersmith & Fulham.

    Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    TfL pump out Boris propaganda for Hammersmith Question Time

    Boris' appearance in Hammersmith this evening looks set to be marked by people particularly upset by their treatment at the hands of our Council - from West Kensington & Gibbs Green residents through to shop owners and traders of Shepherd's Bush Market set to be compulsorily demolished, so that in both cases property developers can move in to make their millions.

    In fact ahead of Boris' appearance this evening he decided to put a stop to H&F's plan to do the same to the residents of King Street and around, so that, you guessed it, property developers could build some luxury flats.

    What a coincidence, you may think, that Transport for London's press machine has decided on today of all days to hail some wonderful news about the Hammersmith flyover! Here's what the PR men want you know:

    Hammersmith Flyover work to restore full traffic use continues apace
    • Work to repair flyover on track to be completed well ahead of London 2012 Games
    • First new tensioning cables to be installed during coming months
    • Repairs will ensure flyover remains in use for many decades
    The first key enabling works to allow the Hammersmith Flyover to be fully reopened to traffic have now been completed, Transport for London (TfL) announced today. 

    The works, which began in January, have seen around 200m of the central reservation along the flyover removed in preparation for new tensioning cables to be installed which will support the structure. Using a number of specialist techniques including hydrodemolition and diamond cutting, around 140 tonnes of concrete have been removed by using both high pressurised water and a rotating cord impregnated with diamonds to cut the material away. These techniques meant that work could be carried out safely while traffic continued to use the flyover.

    A team of engineers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to complete the work, often in a crawl space far less than human height. Now the key enabling works have been completed, TfL will begin to install a new concrete base, drainage and tailored anchorages for the new cables within the structure. The design for the new post-tensioning system will see new cables installed above and below the bridge deck inside a specially made duct, which will supplement the load capacity of the remaining cables. 

    The new ducts will then be filled with a wax oil to prevent deterioration from any water ingress, as well as enable the cables to be easily replaced as and when required. 

    Work to strengthen the five weakest spans of the 16 span structure will be completed ahead of the 2012 Games, ensuring that the flyover can carry full traffic loading during the Games and for many decades to come. Following the Games, TfL will return to the structure to strengthen the remaining spans. This work however will not require further weight restrictions to be imposed and TfL hope to complete it with only off peak lane closures, causing much less disruption than is presently the case. 

    Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “Our team are well aware of the major impact these works have in west London for road users and local people. That is why the engineers are working twenty four hours a day to get the job done. They are making good progress but while the restrictions are in place we will continue to have dedicated staff monitoring and managing the impact on traffic every hour of the day.”

    Garrett Emmerson, Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport at TfL, said: “We are continuing to work round the clock to implement a long term solution to restore the Hammersmith Flyover to full traffic capacity. With key enabling works now completed, work is now fully underway to install the new cabling system which will allow the structure to remain in use for many decades to come.”

    Hallelujah! It's how the meejah works, folks.

    White City Care Centre to tackle life expectancy gap

    White City collaborative care centre
    If you live in the North of our borough you will, on average, die eight years earlier than if you live in the more well-heeled South. A sobering fact and one which is backed up by a recent report by the Department of Health on the state of health of residents in White City and Shepherds Bush which revealed that nearly a quarter of all year 6 school children are obese, stroke deaths are higher than normal and drug misuse is worse than in many other London boroughs.

    That's the (very) bad news. The good news is that a new care centre will be opening to tackle some of these issues and to take on an extra 10,000 patients, growing to 25,000 patients if needed, for a range of GP-led services. The building will be sited on the current building site next to Wormholt Park and comes as part of a Council led package to regenerate the area.

    Many of these places will of course be taken up by the thousands moving into the area as a result of developments like these

    Plans were first submitted way back in 2007, planning permission applied for in 2008 but health chiefs have only just approved them, meaning construction work will start this summer and the £15 million state of the art centre will open its' doors in January 2014. I reported back in 2009 on the dramatic demolition work that cleared the areas for the centre.

    Dr Tim Spicer, Chair of Hammersmith & Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: 
    “This is exciting news as the new health centre is central to our plans to develop an integrated health and social care service for the residents of White City. We will be developing a full GP service with better larger treatment rooms and there is also space for other services such dentistry, minor surgery and podietry amongst others. 
    “It will also give us the space we need to develop an integrated centre for disabled children with radically improved access, co-ordination of services, assessments and treatment, and have a space which parents and their families’ will feel welcoming.”
    Cllr Joe Carlebach, cabinet member community care, added: 
    "I am delighted that the scheme now has NHS and Government approval and that local people will reap the huge benefits these new health facilities will offer. Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Primary Care Trust have together worked incredibly hard to get these plans approved as we realise how important they are for the people of White City. White City has some of the worst health inequalities in Britain and needs the benefits that a new health centre, affordable homes and other community benefits will bring.”
    Other services to be provided by the new centre include community nursing and health visiting, social work services, services for children with disabilities, speech therapy, mental health services, and physiotherapy. 170 flats will also be built together with a mini-supermarket, pharmacy, and a £1m investment in Wormholt Park, a long neglected green area but as we saw last Summer one that has the potential to pull the community together.

    This is all really good stuff and the Council, together with their partners in the Department for Health, should be rightly congratulated for the development. The scale of the problems facing our part of the borough are there to be seen - just take a look at this flyer for youth services in the area I picked up in 2009 for example, or get a glimpse into the hard drugs problem the area has here.

    It does regularly feel like the Fulhams of this world seem to get much better treatment than the north - but this is a very large example of that not happening and I'm sure we all wish it the best.

    Tuesday, 6 March 2012

    Slaughter in mass letter: disgusted with Council

    Shirley Wiggins, Chair of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes receives MP's letter 
    Andy Slaughter has sent the below letter to every resident on the West Ken & Gibbs Green Estate, threatened by the Council's plan to evict them in order to redevelop the estate. Although council tenants have been promised to be re-homed many private tenants will in effect be made homeless by the scheme, as this 9 year old told a Council officer as beefy security men stood around her.

    Mr Slaughter says he is "disgusted" by the treatment meted out to residents by the Council, and refers to the "secret" documents he says are being kept from the public by the Council and the property developers involved in the £100 million scheme. The scheme is, he says, "..all about making money for rich and powerful people."

    He concludes by predicting that they will win the fight against the authority and this letter is clearly timed both to support the campaign but embarrass the Council. It is not a secret, for example, that Boris Johnson will be in town tomorrow night at Hammersmith Town Hall.

    That should be an interesting evening, as the angry hordes descend from the various corners of the North of the borough that the Council seems intent on redeveloping despite large scale opposition. There may be fireworks..

    (Click on "view in full screen" - bottom left button on the letter)

    Slaughter Letter to Residents March 2012

    1500 UPDATE - well that caused a bit of a stir and the local Conservative councillor representing the area in which the estate sits has hit back very angrily indeed. He has asked me to publish his comments as part of the article to give them the same prominence as Mr Slaughter's letter which I am more than happy to do. Here's what Councillor Thomas Crofts of North End Ward has to say:

    A proforma letter which has been sent to all residents on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates by their local MP, misleads residents as to the facts regarding the potential West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates redevelopment. Here are the straightforward answers to his claims:

    1. It is wrong to state that the council has been forced to  consult with residents on the two estates. The council has always stated that it would consult with everyone and will only proceed if redevelopment is the right thing to do for people living on the two estates, the wider neighbourhood and the borough as a whole.

    2. It is wrong to say that the council wants to sign a contract with a developer to sell both estates for £100m. The priority for the council is to negotiate replacement brand new homes for people living on both estates; additional affordable housing and the council must also get a fair price for its land before it can agree to proceed. Any money received by the council would be ploughed back for the good of the borough.

    3. It is wrong to state that the Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) will be a secret document. The CLSA will be a public document when and if the agreement is finalised. However the basic terms affecting tenants and leaseholders are already public as part of the current consultation.

    4. It is wrong to claim that this is about making money for rich and powerful people. The council has no interest in making money for rich and powerful people. This redevlopment is about the opportunity to provide new homes, attract thousands of new jobs and investment to the area.

    5. It is wrong to state that residents will end up on a building site for up to 20 years. Redevelopment of the estates is planned to take place in phases and the first phase on Seagrave Road providing 200 new homes has already received planning permission and will be built over the next 2-3 years.

    6. It is wrong to say that the council has not told tenants where they will be offered a new home. The council has stated clearly that all residents will be offered a brand new home within the redevelopment site and vulnerable private tenants will continue to be protected under the homelessness legislation.

    7. It is wrong to claim that tenants in houses will inevitably lose their gardens and be forced to downsize. Tenants who have a house and need one will be offered a brand new house as a replacement.

    8. It is wrong to state that leaseholders and freeholders will have to move away. All leaseholders and freeholders receive generous compensation packages and an offer of a brand new home in the new development at a significant discount without an increase in costs.

    9. It is wrong to insinuate that the developer will not have to proceed with building the new homes. If the developer fails to perform then the council has the right to terminate the agreement with the developer.

    10. It is wrong to say that the council would get its £100 million upfront. The council would receive payment for its land in phases over a number of years.

    11. It is prepostorous to state that the council is running down the estates to try and demoralise residents. The council is a responsible landlord and has just completed a £10 million Decent Homes programme on both estates.

    12. Finally it is shameful of him to claim that the council is preying on weak and vulnerable people. The council is fully committed to protecting the rights and interests of council tenants and leaseholders and giving the residents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a brand new home as part of this exciting new opportunity.

    Mr Slaughter should be ashamed of himself for spreading fear, lies and confusion in a ward that I represent, purely for his own political gain. He is playing politics with peoples lives, but sadly, I am not surprised that he would stoop to this level.

    Cllr Tom Crofts