First the King Street pipes burst. Then the ones in Goldhawk Road. Was there a causal link?

Further to the burst water mains in King Street – shortly followed by ones in Goldhawk Road  – many have been asking about the cause.

Some recall there being an investment to upgrade the system in recent years. The main roads were torn up, new pipes put in,  signs announced that the Victorian mains were being replaced, to prevent leaks. What went wrong?

A member of the Thames Water Local and Regional Government Liaison responds as follows?

“Thank you for your email 7 April regarding the burst water mains on King Street and Goldhawk Road and the request for further information.   I am very sorry for the delay in responding to your earlier request. 

We initially received reports of a leak in King Street on 26 January and attended to investigate the same day. On arrival we discovered a significant leak, which had caused the carriageway to lift as well as damage the footpath.  It may be helpful to explain we have four different mains supply pipes in the immediate area from which the leak was showing.  Our investigations confirmed the water was coming from one of the three 30 inch mains and plans were made to isolate and make safe the area, while the permanent repair was arranged. Unfortunately, before we could complete this work and pinpoint the leak, further reports were received of a new and major burst at the same location.  Our teams worked extremely hard to replace the damaged section of pipework and repairs were successful. 

At the same time as the burst main on King Street, we received a report on 31 January of a major burst on Goldhawk Road.  We investigated, identified the source of the leak and arranged a permanent repair which has been completed.

We are carrying out tests on the damaged sections of pipe, which are now at our Innovation Centre, to help us better understand the cause of both incidents.  This will allow us to determine why the leak happened and help prevent further incidents occurring.

In respect of the water network in King Street and Goldhawk Road, these are trunk mains and were not included in our Victorian Mains Replacement Programme.  However, at the beginning of January 2017, we did replace approximately 100 meters of distribution pipework on King Street by the Kings Mall Shopping Centre. 

To date, we have replaced almost 100km of our pipework, with our initial focus being on replacing sections of our network that were prone to leaks and bursts.  Moving forward, we will be considering areas for further work, especially in areas where we have not yet completed a full Victorian Mains Replacement Programme.

We have several monitoring devices in the area which are designed to record pressure levels.  We have asked our contractor to carry out a review of these devices and confirm if it would be possible to adjust them.  If it is, we will then use the data to receive earlier indications of changes or issues within our network.  Unfortunately, there are no monitors in place on the pipework that was previously affected. 

To assist with our monitoring of King Street, we have now installed a specialist chamber that will help us to monitor our network more effectively in the future.  Using this technology, we have already undertaken an acoustic survey of our network in the vicinity to ensure there was no other nearby leaks.  Turning to Goldhawk Road, we took the opportunity to install an additional valve onto the main as part of our repair work.  This will give us an enhanced level of control over our network in the area and assist with resilience. “

London Corinthian Sailing Club wins award

Congratulations to the London Corinthian Sailing Club in Upper Mall which was officially recognised as amongst Britain’s best when it received the Increasing Participation Award at the prestigious RYA and Yachts and Yachting Club of the Year Awards 2018.

The club has made significant progress with major initiatives to increase participation in both dinghies and offshore sailing, offering a wide range of activities for all ages, all levels of experience and all aspirations.

Matt Wright from London Corinthian said:

“It’s an award for everyone at the club – we have some amazing members and volunteers doing projects, making new things happen, and the award is really a testament to them, their enthusiasm and their energy – it’s wonderful.”

The awards citation for London Corinthian said:

“Taking part is at the heart of the Corinthian spirit, and the club has recently made significant progress in rebuilding that spirit with major initiatives to increase participation in both dinghies and offshore sailing. Over the past few years the club has really turned itself around, with a diverse membership of nationalities and professions, a strong student group, a family section, and now offers a wide range of activities, for all ages, all levels of experience and all aspirations.”

Richard Pettifer, the club commodore, added:

“This is a fantastic achievement for the club which has seen its membership and sailing activities expand enormously over the last few years, and we hope it will encourage more Londoners to try out sailing. London Corinthian Sailing Club is a vibrant, welcoming and social club which strives to offer all levels of sailing to the diverse and varied community that makes up London and its suburbs. We are thrilled to be recognised for our efforts to increase participation in the sport.”

Will H&F Council allow the “Cycle Superhighway”? It’s time to come clean

Canvassing in the local elections has confirmed the strong opposition of Hammersmith residents to the flawed scheme from Transport for London for a “Cycle Superhighway” along Hammersmith Road, King Street and Chiswick High Road. At a cost of £70 million.

The Labour Party must have spotted have also spotted that it is unwanted. Yet the Labour-run Council still want say whether or not they will allow it to go ahead. Suspicion is growing that they will allow it to proceed – thus avoiding dispute with the Mayor of London. But they have decided not to come clean with residents about their plans and will only announce them after the elections.

Transport for London have refused to disclose the views of Hammersmith residents to their consultation, which closed last September. They tell me in response to a Freedom of Information request:

“I can confirm that we hold the information you require. However, to provide copies of all the consultation responses from stakeholders and local councillors would be a significant burden to our resources and therefore we are not obliged to provide this information in accordance with section 14 of the FOI Act.”

What about the responses sent to the Council? I asked them, again via a Freedom of Information request. Again they won’t say:

“At the Full Council meeting on 18th October 2017 the Council carried forward the special motion that would enable residents to continue to send the council comments until January 2018. It was also carried that the Council will continue consulting during the design process, including resident and stakeholder advisory groups to look at the detailed design.

The council is still receiving and accepting comments from residents and stakeholders, and these comments will be published alongside the TfL Consultation Outcome report at a future Cabinet meeting, the date of which will be determined by the receipt of the full TfL consultation report.

In applying this Section 22 exemption, we have had to balance the public interest in withholding the information against the interest in favour of disclosure.

Factors in favour of disclosure

To disclose the information requested regarding responses sent to the Council about the CS9 proposal would promote transparency and accountability in relation to information held by the Council.

Factors in favour of withholding

The Council considers that it is in the general public interest to disclose the information at the intended time and that there is no specific or pressing public interest in providing the
information before the proposed date. We consider it would not be in the public interest to prematurely disclose information if to do so may mean it is read out of the context of the overall disclosure. To disclose the information while the Council is still accepting comments from residents and stakeholders and before all responses have been evaluated could lead to information being disclosed to the world at large which could give an inaccurate or distorted picture of overall resident and stakeholder views on the issue. It is also fair to all concerned parties to release information to all concerned on the same date, so that, for example, no unfair advantage is gained by any party, in attempts to influence the consultation outcomes.

In all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

The truth is that admitting the extent of opposition would be embarrassing for Labour – until the elections are safely out of the way. That is because they intend to ignore it. A pretty arrogant and disingenuous way to behave.  Labour can dodge and dive but the the council elections provide a choice. If you want this TfL scheme to go ahead then vote Labour. If you oppose the plans – and would prefer the £70 million spent on more sensible cycling schemes – then vote Conservative.

 

Hundreds living in King Street flats denied the chance to recycle

The average recycling rate for England is 43.7 per cent. The rate for Hammersmith and Fulham is 23.2 per cent – leaving us near the bottom of the table in 343rd place out of 350.

That is obviously an environmental cost. But also a financial one. The cost to the Council is £90 a ton for general waste which is incinerated and £67 a ton for recycling.

It is always more of challenge for densely populated area to achieve a good recycling rate. However a pretty basic start is allowing residents the chance to recycle.

This week I have talking to residents in King Street living in the flats above the shops and restaurants.

One told me: “It’s probably been three years since we left had recycling bags delivered.” Others have give me the same message. I believe that this problem applies to hundreds of residents.

I have asked the Council for an explanation…

Poor council gardening maintenance attracts fly-tipping

I wrote the other day about the deficient standard of municipal gardening at the back of a small block of council flats in Ashchurch Park Villas.

Here is another example. This time from St Peter’s Road. The poor maintenance makes it an eyesore. The barriers put up to discourage fly-tipping just makes it look more grim and so has the opposite effect.

As I said with the earlier example there would be a case for having a properly maintained garden. There would be a case for building a cottage – if it was attractive with a traditional design and materials.  Either way there would be something beautiful to look at.

What can not be justified is the current situation.

How can we boost small businesses on Askew Road?

An interesting enquiry from a local resident recently:

“Askew Road is increasingly becoming a very neighbourly shopping centre. Unfortunately it is also a major thoroughfare for traffic traveling north to south and vise versa wanting to avoid Shepherd’s Bush. Relaxing parking rules on the high street would relieve parking congestion on the side streets, boost business and calm traffic speeds. In all create a calmer neighbourhood. Just a thought. In essence prioritise pedestrians above increasing traffic flow. In my mind any effort to reduce traffic flow rather than increase it has a positive effect on communities. Goldhawk Road has been killed by the central reservation where as Uxbridge Road has flourished without it. Reduce traffic speed enhance communities.”

I replied:

“I agree with you about relaxing the parking rules on Askew Road to help the businesses. I remember about ten years ago we got more parking spaces there which helped a little.”

Then I asked the Council for their response adding:

I see the “period of grace” for someone parked on a  yellow line is 20 minutes if loading and unloading. Does this also apply if they are shopping

https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/parking/pay-and-display/loading-and-unloading

The Council’s Parking Projects Engineer replies:

“Thank you for your email concerning loading and unloading around the Askew Road area.

Shopper parking

As you acknowledged in your previous email, we provided short stay shopper parking bays on Askew Road back in 2009. The purpose of these pay & display bays was that they would serve as a ‘stop and shop’ facility for short term visitors.

The tariff of 20 pence per half hour, which was the first of its kind in Hammersmith & Fulham encourages turnover and maximises availability. The pay & display bays operate outside of the peak commuting hours, so between 9am and 5pm motorists may park for a maximum stay of 30 minutes at a tariff of 20 pence. The short stay bays have proved beneficial for both traders and their visitors and I am pleased to report that since August 2009 occupancy of the bays has remained consistently high.

Loading and unloading

Askew Road is considered as a key north/south corridor in the borough and during peak commuter hours experiences high volumes of traffic. To address congestion issues which can often be exacerbated by large goods vehicles loading and unloading on Askew Road, the Council installed goods vehicles loading only bays in the side streets off Askew Road. This approach coupled with the stop and shop parking facilities has improved vehicular accessibility in the area.

Vehicles are allowed to load/unload for up to 20 minutes where there is only a single or double yellow line restriction with no loading restrictions. Vehicles are then observed for 5 minutes. If no active loading/unloading is taking place, the vehicle is liable to receive a PCN. Where a loading restriction is in place, loading/unloading is not allowed and PCN’s can be issued immediately.

Loading restrictions are demarcated by yellow kerbside blips and signs which state the duration of the loading restriction. We have provided designated loading only bays in the side streets off Askew Road including Hadyn Park Road, Cobbold Road, Gayford Road and Bassein Park Road. These bays are intended for loading only, shoppers are encouraged to use the ‘stop and shop’ bays on Askew Road as described above.

More information is available on the councils website – https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/sites/default/files/section_attachments/hf_parking_enforcement_protocol.pdf”

What do you think?

H&F Council paid its chief exec £309,712 last year

The Sunday Times reports:

“The highest paid council executive in London last year was Nigel Pallace, former chief executive of the Labour- controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, who was paid a total package of £309,712, which included a salary of £190,000.”

That’s more than twice the Prime Minister’s salary – she gets by on £150,402.

The Taxpayers Alliance Town Hall Rich List report gives more details. It says Hammersmith and Fulham Council provided pay packages of over £100,000 to the following officials last year:

Nigel Pallace, Chief Executive – £309,712

Elizabeth Bruce, Shared Services Executive Director of Adult Social Care for LBHF, RBKC and WCC – £183,321

Juliemma McLoughlin, Lead Director of Planning and Development – £176,135

Hitesh Jolapara, Strategic Finance Director (Section 151 Officer) – £159,433

Kim Dero Director of Delivery and Value  £154,765

Debbie Morris Director of Human Resources £143,071

Nick Austin Director of Environmental Health  £130,573

Michael Hainge Commercial Director  £129,897

The report adds that Nigel’s basic pay was £190,000 – he also got £24,700 as a performance related bonus and another £95,012 as “compensation for loss of office.” He’s now the chief executive of Slough Borough Council. Good for him. But there is a wider story of how dysfunctional Hammersmith and Fulham Council has become with its senior management since Labour took over in 2014. At first they had Nicholas Holgate as chief executive. Then they had Nigel Pallace – an Extraordinary Council Meeting was specially specially held to appoint.

Then last November we had another Extraordinary Council Meeting to appoint Kim Dero. It only took 12 minutes.

Three chief executives in four years is not exactly ideal in terms of good management – quite apart from the huge sums Council Taxpayers money being spent. It is incompetence as well as extravagance.

But that is not the only post where people keep coming and going. For instance the Housing Department – which I have a particular interest in as the Conservative housing spokesman – we saw the appointment of Nilavra Mukerji as the Director of Housing Services. He resigned as a Labour councillor at Westminster to take up the post. His basic pay at Hammersmith and Fulham Council was £104,669 a year. A lot of his time was spent on the Council’s doomed stock transfer project. That unwanted scheme cost £1.395 million – not including Nilavra’s salary – before it was abandoned. Then last year he left.

By the way, I think the Taxpayers Alliance understates the scale of six figure pay packages at Hammersmith Town Hall. According the latest transparency data – which the Council is obliged to publish on its website the list has 26 paid over £100,000 a year – when bonuses and pension contributions are included.

When they were in opposition Labour attacked “fat cat” pay at the Council – at the time the total number earning over £100,000 was nine.