Ark Conway free school – which Labour tried to thwart – named the best primary school in the country

arkconwaylogoA primary school in Shepherd’s Bush has been named the best in the country. Ark Conway is a free school that opened in 2011.

The Times reports this morning:

“A tiny free school in a poor part of London has achieved the best results in the country, three years after it opened.

Every child achieved the expected standard or higher in mathematics at Ark Conway primary academy, the highest in England, and 93 per cent did so in English, which was equalled by one other school.

Its results were better than any others among the 15,000 primary schools in England and those prep schools that submit their results to the Department for Education. Among the schools it beat was one of the most highly selective independent prep schools, James Allen’s Girls’ School, which had the third highest results.

Damian McBeath, the founding head teacher, said its success was due to strong teaching. Each class has both a teacher and co-teacher, who is a graduate on a teacher training programme, which the school uses instead of classroom assistants. It also uses a maths curriculum adapted from Singapore, which ensures that children master each concept before moving to the next and makes heavy use of pictures and counting blocks that help children to visualise sums or calculations.

The school is housed in a disused library in Acton, near a busy trunk road a stone’s throw from Wormwood Scrubs prison. Within three years it has become so popular that it had 140 applications for 30 places this term, of which 77 families listed it as their first choice.”

Labour fought like tigers to prevent this school being opened. They did so on planning grounds, but this was spurious.  The school has enhanced the physical environment. The old Wormholt library was carefully restored and renovated. The school has paid tribute to the building’s heritage by incorporating the original marble floor design in the new school’s logo, as well as creating plans to locate the school library in the same area as the original library. Expanding the site will enhances the setting for the listed building which was sadly diminished by the A40. Labour’s real opposition was ideological – claiming new free schools to be “unwanted.”

The local Labour MP Andrew Slaughter tried to thwart its building works. Labour councillors on the Planning Applications Committee tried to prevent it from opening – including the Wormholt and White City Ward councillors.   Cllr Colin Aherne  especially asked that his opposition to the school should be named.

Deputy Mayor of London intervenes to keep local residents in their homes

greenjoeThe Deputy Mayor for Policing & Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh, has intervened to stop the sale of properties in 17-39 Broadmead on Auriol Road in Hammersmith and ensure residents can remain in their homes.

The Deputy Mayor visited Broadmead today at the invitation of local Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate Cllr Charlie Dewhirst to speak with local councillors, Joe Carlebach and Caroline ffiske, and residents who faced the prospect of eviction from their properties, managed by Crown Simmons.

The Deputy Mayor has today signed a formal decision to halt the sale process and has introduced new guidelines for how such cases are handled in future.

Under the new MOPAC guidance, existing tenanted properties comprising multiple units will only be disposed without affecting existing tenancies to a new owner – such as a housing provider or local authority – who offered the occupants similar or better terms. This now means such residents would not be forced to move out as a result of a sale.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) owns the MPS estate across London and the Deputy Mayor for Policing & Crime (DMPC) is responsible for decisions around estate changes, closures and disposals. The Property Services Department of the MPS handles all sale, marketing and tenancy matters directly themselves or with estate agents, local authorities and housing providers.

Commenting on the decision, Stephen Greenhalgh said:

“I have stopped the sale process for Broadmead and introduced a new approach so that eviction of long-standing tenants, some of whom are key workers, cannot arise in future. The Metropolitan Police is not a landlord, but it is right that we find new owners for sites like this that can give tenants the security they deserve.

“I am grateful to Charlie and the local councillors for bringing this matter to my attention and I am glad that these residents are no longer left in limbo.”

Cllr Charlie Dewhirst added:

“It will come as a great relief to the residents of Broadmead that they no longer face eviction from their homes. I am hugely thankful to Stephen Greenhalgh for his swift and decisive intervention.”

Gove visits Queens Club for Hammersmith Conservatives annual dinner

govequA very enjoyable evening last night at Queens Club where Michael Gove, the Government Chief Whip, was the guest speaker at the Hammersmith Conservatives annual dinner.

Mr Gove praised the Hammersmith constituency for being home to QPR and the West London Free School. He looked forward to the General Election in May when voters would have the chance to remove the “dishonourable member” Labour MP Andrew Slaughter and elect Cllr Charlie Dewhirst as their new MP – and thus help prevent Ed Miliband getting into Downing Street.

Over a hundred supporters were present including Stephen Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, who was praised for the reduction in crime in the capital.

As well as stalwarts there were also some new faces – including parents from some local free schools. This proved quite an emotional part of the evening. They wanted to thank Mr Gove personally for introducing this policy when he was Education Secretary – with the transformational difference it made to the life chances of their children.




My three priorities: drainage, drainage, drainage

Ask me my three main priorities for Ravenscourt Park and I tell you: drainage, drainage, drainage.

This photograph I took on Monday shows the extent of the problem.


I have raised my concerns and the Parks Manager Ian Ross has replied as follows:

“I’m aware you have been in correspondence with Andy Thorn over the ongoing drainage works in Ravenscourt Park.  As I think you are aware we carried extensive works over the spring/summer period on the open grass areas, this involved boring over a 150 holes at 1.2m deep on the area and filling with shingle to assist with the drainage of water through the clay subsoil.  This has on the whole worked very well although the volume of rainfall we experienced over the weekend has tested all drainage systems/surfaces both within and outside the borough, hence the standing water you saw yesterday.  This will take some time to disperse as the ground is now saturated; in order try and expedite the drainage in future we will be spiking the area once it has chance to dry out a little.  Andy will continue to monitor and if further works are needed we will look at how these can be funded.”

Come and visit North End Road Market

There will a Festive Market on North End Road on Saturday December 6th. It will be pedestrianised up to Lillie Road.

The Conservative Group on the London Assembly have just produced an interesting report on markets. It says those that are independently owned tend to do better than those under local authority ownership.

Anyway here is a film with some of the traders showing what they have to offer:


Interview with Dr Mark Spencer about Charing Cross Hospital

Labour took control of Hammersmith and Fulham Council in May having made an “early pledge” to “block” the NHS planned changes at Charing Cross Hospital. Six months on Labour have given no clue as to how or when they implement their promise.

Here is an interview with Dr Mark Spencer, the clinical lead for Shaping a Healthier Future, with Ross Lydall of the Evening Standard about what is proposed:


Cleaning up Ravenscourt Park Ward

I went on a “grot spotting” tour of Ravenscourt Park Ward this morning with Cllr Charlie Dewhirst and Cllr Lucy Ivimy.

A long list of matters to pursue has resulted – including in the Park itself as well as Flora Gardens, Derwent Court and the Dalling Road Open Space.

One problem that seems to be cropping up a lot is of road barriers randomly scattered around the place serving no apparent purpose. A couple of examples are below – one outside Stamford Brook Tube, another at Starch Green.

I have asked the Highways Department what is going on.


Rotary Club jazzes it up for Barka UK

Some photos from a recent charity jazz night organised by the Rotary Club of Hammersmith.

Funds raised for Barka UK and our Sri Lankan 2004 tsunami orphans. Held in POSK – the Polish Centre – in King Street the music was by Jack Honeyborn and a great supporting band.

Barka do great work for the excluded and vulnerable members of the Polish community in London. A large number of Polish workers have come to the borough – often with great success. But sometimes they struggle to find work or other engagement and so have become members of the street population.