Westcroft Square leading the way in the switch to electric cars

I am pleased to report considerable interest among Westcroft Square residents in switching to electric cars. This is something the Residents Association has been actively encouraging and monitoring in order to press the Council to provide the necessary charging points.

The Council’s Parking Projects and Policy Manager says:

“Thank you for the email regarding the provision of residential on-street electric vehicle (EV) charge-points in Westcroft Square.  The support presented by the Westcroft Square Residents Association is welcomed and comes at a very important juncture.

LBHF intends to be at the forefront for EV charging provision and we are currently developing a network of on-street EV charge-points across the borough.  We have just completed Phase 3 of this project that has delivered 83 EV charge-points in 28 locations.  The closest to WestcroftSquare is in Standish Road at the junction with King Street where two charge-points are operational.  We anticipate that later this year by the end of Phase 4, we will offer 160 EV charge-points across 55 locations with a charge-point within 400 metres of every residential property in the borough.  

Whilst EV charging technology has come along in leaps and bounds in the past decade, it is still evolving. So for example, we are exploring rapid charging infrastructure where an 80% charge can be realised in less than 30 minutes. Installing charging points within lamp columns is another option. This technology removes the consumer metering apparatus from the charging unit and puts in into the cable provided by the consumer. The advantage being that several charging points could then be provided at minimal cost.

The announcement from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to support local highway authorities was welcomed and I contacted the Energy Saving Trust (EST) earlier this year to discuss the On-street Residential Charge-point Scheme (ORCS) in more detail.  They are administering the scheme and have provided me with further information, offered guidance and will review any grant funding application that LBHF may make to the ORCS.”

Pressing for improvements to Ravenscourt Park

Local residents have been in contact recently with various proposals for improvements to Ravenscourt Park. Of course there is usually a cost involved although sometimes quite modest. In any case, I have written before about how Section 106 money allocated for park improvements has still not been  dues to bureaucratic delays. This is very frustrating – especially for the Friends of Ravenscourt Park who produced some very reasonable proposals as to how the money could be spent.

One concern is the track on the west side of the Park – an absolute mudbath when it rains. Naturally enough people walk on the grass to avoid the mud and the area of mud increases ever wider.

“The state of this path makes it impossible to do a full circuit walk round the inside of the Park with any pleasure,” says one resident who suggests spreading bark chippings down the track as, at least, a temporary solution.

Another concern is that litter is getting worse. There are supposed to be litter collections every two hours when fairs are taking place

The Parks Manager responds:

“A woodchip path is a very short term solution and will almost inevitably sink into the mud and require constant topping up.  This will also not address the issue of the unevenness of the path.  As hopefully the weather will start to improve in the coming weeks, and with that the ground will dry, I would like the opportunity to level the area and then make a decision on whether woodchip is necessary.  I know it is used on sites such as Wimbledon Common but it is likely they have a good source of quality woodchip and the necessary staffing to revisit this constantly.  That said, you are correct in that this has been ongoing for some time now so we will seek to make a decision over the summer and develop a long-term plan for this area to avoid another winter of the ‘muddy path’.

“Litter and squirrels/foxes is a perennial problem across the parks portfolio I cover, this isn’t helped by the frequency for litter collection dropping to twice a week during the winter months in Hammersmith & Fulham.  On a positive note, from the 1st April we move to our summer litter picking frequency, which is daily with a site based litter picker on-site for 8 hours per day at weekends.  From the Easter weekend this is additionally backed up by another site based litter picker, which ensures at weekends and on bank holidays there is someone on-site throughout the day cleansing.  This should ensure, certainly on Sunday and Monday mornings that the park is clean when it is opened.  We have looked at alternative larger bins including wheeled bins but we don’t have a vehicle within the grounds maintenance contract that can empty them.  Additionally, we do not have the funding to wholesale replace the bins across the park.  I will remind my colleagues in Events team of the promise made when funfairs are on-site.

“I hope this clarifies our position?  Please be assured we want a clean and litter free parks as much as anyone else.”

Then there is the Walled Gardens. The Friends of the Walled Garden do a fantastic job. But there are problems with bindweed on the paths  – and the woodwork in the sheds where people can sit. They could also do with some publicity in the Park to encourage more volunteers.

The Parks Manager replies:

“A large amount of work has been undertaken by the Friends of Ravenscourt Park Walled Garden over the last couple of months.  This has included digging out the soil, replacing and re-planting the beds primarily to deal with the bindweed but also to plants more appropriate species for the walled garden.  This has all been made possible by the hard work of the Friends of Ravenscourt Park Walled Garden who secured a grant from Tesco’s Bags for Help fund.  We are now in the final stages of the project and will certainly look to link up with the friends once completed to publicise their hard work.

“Hopefully our next project can be to work with the friends to look for further funding for the paths and wooden structures.  The friends do have a website http://ravenscourtgarden.btck.co.uk/ and if they want additional publicity this is certainly something we could try to help them with.”

Talgarth Road Blooms Again

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

In the winter of 2015 I approached TfL to see if I and local residents could plant a small number of spring bulbs on the wide grassy strip on the north side of Talgarth Road between Barons Court and West Kensington.  I’m pleased I did because at that moment they were looking for a suitable site for 36,000 spring bulbs.

A week later the bulbs were planted.Talgarth 1  They did quite well in the spring of 2016, but they are even better this year.  They come in waves – the small crocuses have been and gone – and in this picture (taken a week ago) most of the daffodils are still to come.

So if you can’t make it to Kew Gardens this year to see the spring flowers, take a stroll down Talgarth Road.  You won’t regret it.

If you are interested in community gardening do please contact me at carolineffiske@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss out on the National Citizen Service

The National Citizen Service is in the news. Since 2011, over 300,000 16- to 17-years-old have participated in the scheme. It is intended as a ‘rite of passage’ for young people and lead to a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society. NCS usually takes place over four consecutive weeks and involves groups of 12 to 15 young people undertaking together: an outdoor residential course to improve team building skills; a residential course to learn life skills and prepare for independent living; and a community project, such as planting a communal garden.

Those participating have overwhelmingly found it very positive. For example a survey shows that 70 per cent of them feel more confident about getting jobs in the future as a result. But the Public Accounts Committee has noted that the cost of courses (largely paid for by the taxpayer) are high compared to those by the scouts and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

One problem is that the NCS has places that are not filled. This seems to me a great missed opportunity.

Some of our local schools are not taken any places at all. A search of the NCS website shows the following:

The Hurlingham Academy
10 young people took part in NCS
That’s 12.20% of your eligible students in 2016

Fulham Cross Girls’ School and Language College
12 young people took part in NCS
That’s 9.80% of your eligible students in 2016

Fulham College Boys’ School
It looks like we have no NCS participants allocated to your school.

Lady Margaret School
28 young people took part in NCS
That’s 12.90% of your eligible students in 2016

Sacred Heart High School
44 young people took part in NCS
That’s 16.50% of your eligible students in 2016

The London Oratory School
13 young people took part in NCS
That’s 3.60% of your eligible students in 2016

West London Free School
23 young people took part in NCS
That’s 19.20% of your eligible students in 2016

Hammersmith Academy
7 young people took part in NCS
That’s 3.60% of your eligible students in 2016

Young Dancers Academy
1 young people took part in NCS

Chelsea Independent College
It looks like we have no NCS participants allocated to your school.

William Morris Sixth Form
5 young people took part in NCS
That’s 1.00% of your eligible students in 2016

Ark Burlington Danes Academy
14 young people took part in NCS
That’s 4.90% of your eligible students in 2016

St James Senior Girls’ School
5 young people took part in NCS

Phoenix High School
6 young people took part in NCS
That’s 2.20% of your eligible students in 2016

St Paul’s Girls’ School
7 young people took part in NCS

The Godolphin and Latymer School
4 young people took part in NCS

Latymer Upper School
8 young people took part in NCS

I hope that schools and parents will encourage more to sign up.

Here come our spring flowers in Avonmore

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Here come our spring bulbs in Gwendwr Rec. in Avonmore.  These were planted to flower last spring and I am delighted to see them doing so well this year.

The bulbs are thanks to the Bulbs for London initiative which was launched in 2012 by the MPGA, a long established charity, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire family firm, Taylors Bulbs.  Thanks to Taylors and the MPGA over 600,000 high quality spring bulbs have been distributed to around 550 parks and gardens throughout London. Taylors not only supply the bulbs free of charge, but also foot the bill for delivery.

 

Thanks to the scheme, at least 10,000 bulbs have so far been planted in Hammersmith.  The first of these (to my knowledge) were in Marcus Garvey Park – and since then word has got out. I will be putting up pictures soon of the bulbs we planted this December.

For more details about the scheme please look up the MPGA online or email me at carolineffiske@gmail.com.  If you are interested in doing some community gardening please also email me.

Slow rollout of Superfast Broadband in H&F due to petty dispute

Cllr Mark Loveday

The Council’s Finance and Delivery Policy and Accountability Committee last night included an item I had requested Superfast Broadband rollout across the borough and was attended by a representative from BT Openreach.

Given the high density of our borough we should be leading the way – yet we are below the London average. 94.3 per cent of our properties have access to Superfast Broadband in London overall it is 95.3 per cent.

BT Openreach had plans to roll it out to another 6,600 homes in Hammersmith and Fulham, which is in fact only 20 street cabinets. They have, however, formally suspended any further rollout as a result of a dispute with the Council. The dispute relates to the Council’s categorisation of the street works which are required to provide the cabling for the cabinets. This in turn depends on the interpretation of the New Roads and Street Works Act.

The Council says the works would be major works, which require a certain period of notice and a fee of £326, whilst Openreach say they are standard works, which would require a few days’ notice and a fee of £130. On non-traffic sensitive streets the fee difference is even less (£223 for major works and £75 for standard works). It therefore comes down to a monetary difference of less than £4,000 and a dispute about principle (which both sides say would set a precedent for other utility companies or for other boroughs).

The Committee expressed its frustration about the fact that 6,600 homes were going without access to fibre broadband because of this pretty pathetic dispute. Both sides agreed to talk about it further. More significantly, they both agreed with a suggestion from Cllr Mark Loveday that they should consider mediation if it could not be resolved quickly.

 

 

H&F Council must do more to improve lives for the disabled

We often think of Council’s Adult Social Care as just being for the elderly – but a significant part of the service is also for adults with learning difficulties. Many councils have made substantial progress in improving the lives of disabled residents with taking part in the Shared Lives scheme. This offers an alternative for those currently in supported living or institutional care. It is of them being placed in a family environment in someone’s home. It can also provide respite for parents with grown up sons or daughter that they are caring for.

As well as providing better care and increased choice it also reduces the cost. I am pleased that Hammersmith and Fulham Council is now planning to make some placements. However it is very disappointing that we are so far behind. There have been 13,000 placements nationally. We are still on nil.

The Council’s Director of Strategic Commissioning and Enterprise Adult Social Care and Health has sent me the following briefing:

Shared Lives Scheme

Our local Shared Lives scheme was established in April 2016 and operates across the three boroughs. The scheme is funded as an 18 month pilot and is being delivered by Grace Eyre Foundation following a successful tender. The initial aim is to establish 5 Shared Lives arrangements in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The scheme, which is registered with CQC, recruits and trains local people to become Shared Lives carers. Carers go through rigorous vetting and training. Once approved by a multi-agency panel, they are matched with a person with care and support needs who requires accommodation. Carers must be able to offer a room for which they’ll receive rent. They also receive a weekly fee and the person lives with them as “part of the family”. Matching ensures a good fit of personality, lifestyle, skills and knowledge of the carer with the needs and preferences of the person. This offers a real community alternative to residential care or supported living as well as providing employment opportunities for local people.

Whilst the initial focus is on people with learning disabilities (age 16 upwards), there is scope to extend to other health and care needs. The scheme will also offer short breaks and could offer day provision. A steering group including the H&F Learning Disability Team and Children’s Services identifies referrals. Links with Adoption & Fostering enable arrangements to transfer to adulthood where appropriate.

Several local events and publicity campaigns have attracted potential carers: reaching community members remains a key priority to recruit more carers. Six carers are going through the assessment process.

The Grace Eyre charity is an experienced Shared Lives provider supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health needs across Sussex as well as a fairly new scheme in Lambeth. Please see links below to our local scheme:

http://www.sharedlives3b.com/

http://www.peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/health-and-well-being/learning-disability/accommodation-for-people-with-learning-disabilities.aspx

There are over 150 Shared Lives Schemes across the UK supporting 13,000 people. National evidence shows positive outcomes and good value for money compared to other forms of care. This a growing sector: schemes elsewhere are supporting people with dementia, older people, people coming out of hospital, people with complex behavioural needs and young people in transition.

Shared Lives Plus is the UK network for shared lives schemes. They have set standards for schemes and provide evidence to support the effectiveness of Shared Lives. Grace Eyre is a member of Shared Lives Plus – enabling access to best practice networks, resources, guidance, learning and training materials.

http://sharedlivesplus.org.uk/