Labour councillor says police should not stop people stealing petrol

fennimoreA Labour councillor has made the astonishing claim that the police should not be involved in preventing people stealing petrol.

Cllr Sue Fennimore represents Addison Ward and is the “Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion”. In practice her brief means that she is the senior Labour councillor with responsibility for liasing with the local police.

Yet at a council meeting last night she made the most astonishing comments – in a prepared speech (you can listen to it here around 26 minutes in).

Petrol_pump_mp3h0354Cllr Fennimore said:

“We want these Hammersmith and Fulham police officers to cut serious crime. I was not impressed to discover that just over two years we had a police officer stationed on the forecourt of a BP petrol station.

“There had been a spate of people driving off and not paying for petrol and that had caused the crime figures to shoot up. Indeed stealing petrol is a criminal offence and should be confronted. But a police officer called off the front line and stationed on a petrol forecourt is hardly the smartest use of police resources.

“So we expect all police officers on Hammersmith and Fulham Council funds to concentrate on reducing serious crime.”

If she doesn’t think the police should be involved in stopping people stealing petrol then who should do the job of ensuring it is “confronted”? Should garage owners become vigilantes? If stealing petrol is a trivial rather “serious” crime what about shop lifting? Or robbery? Or burglary? If you are running a garage being targeted by thieves then the forecourt IS the front line.

Since Cllr Fennimore is grandly determined to interfere in operational policing then perhaps she will let us know he full list of crimes she is demanding the police ignore.

Former Labour councillor’s cosy arrangement as a lobbyist for property developers

napierOne of Labour’s themes in the council elections was that Conservative councillors had got too close to property developers. It would be implied – although not directly stated – that the relationship was corrupt. There was an assurance that Labour would treat these “fat cats” with disdain.

But what of their cosy relationship with Charlie Napier? He is a former Labour councillor for the Fulham Broadway Ward until being voted out in 2006. He has his own, one-man-band lobbying company, Kilmeston Communications, and it appears that he has been playing on both sides of the fence when it comes to his erstwhile colleagues.

cnapierIt is one thing for Mr Napier to turn up representing a property developer in a meeting with the current Labour Councillors for FB, trying to build flats on his old patch. (The meeting was attended by the current Labour councillors for that ward Cllr Ben Coleman, Cllr Alan De’Ath and Cllr Sharon Holder but there is precious little information about what was discussed.)

But tt is quite another for Mr Napier to be out canvassing last Saturday, in his Labour activist capacity, with the Cllr Andrew Jones, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration (and the Labour MP Andrew Slaughter, who supposedly disdains property developers).

And for his relations with current Labour councillors to be close enough that the Cabinet Member for Education recently appointed him as a school governor.

Was he canvassing on Saturday on behalf of a developer or an activist? Did he discuss any of his projects with councillors? Was he lobbying Slaughter?

Under the new administration’s rules ALL contact between, or on behalf of developers is supposed to be minuted. So will LBHF now be publishing minutes of Andrew Slaughter’s canvassing sessions?

Cllr Charlie Dewhirst: Unemployment is down in Hammersmith and thousands more jobs are on the way

charliedewA guest post from Cllr Charlie Dewhirst, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith. This is the text of speech that was to be delivered last night at a Council meeting. But Labour used a procedural tactic to block debate on a motion welcoming the fall in unemployment.

There can be no doubt that one of the great successes of the current Conservative-led Government has been the jobs miracle currently underway in the UK.

Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics show 1.75 million more people in work than in 2010 and wages rising faster than inflation.

A new milestone has been reached with the unemployment rate falling below 6 per cent for the first time in six years – that means more people with the stability and security of a job, able to provide for themselves and their family.

And these jobs are not insecure or poorly paid – in fact three-quarters of the new jobs that have been created since the election are full-time and wages are rising faster than inflation with regular pay (not including bonuses) going up by 1.8 per cent and inflation at 0.5 per cent.

The Conservatives’ long-term economic plan to create more jobs and cap benefits to reward work is working, but we know there is more to do and that families are still feeling the impact of Labour’s Great Recession.

Labour left nearly half a million more people without a job and Ed Miliband predicted that our economic plan would ‘lead to the disappearance of a million jobs’.

But there are now more than 1.75 million more people in work. This shows Ed Miliband is just not up to the job and Labour don’t have a plan for Britain’s future.

They would put all the progress we have made at risk with their call for more spending and more borrowing.

Now, each and every time we get good news on jobs, the Labour are quick to shout out that these aren’t “real jobs”.

They keep telling us about the UK’s “cost of living crisis” and how the gap between rich and poor is getting worse.

Let’s consider the latest ONS statistics.
·         Employment: 30.8 million (up 1.75 million since the election).

·         Unemployment: 1.91 million (down 596,000 since the election).

·         Claimant count: 867,700 in December (down 627,100 since the election).

·         Wages: regular pay (average earnings excluding bonuses) is up 1.8 per cent on the year and private sector pay is up 2.2 per cent. Inflation measured by the CPI is currently 0.5 per cent.

·         Nearly 2.2 million more people are employed in the private sector since the election – the increase in private sector employment is over five times the fall in public sector jobs.

·         Three quarters of the number of people in work since the election are in full-time jobs – full-time jobs accounted for 83 per cent of the rise in employment over the past year.

·         Youth unemployment is 175,000 lower than at the election and the number of young people claiming the main unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since the 1970s.

·         Long-term unemployment (over 12 months) is down 130,000 since the election.

·         Three quarters of the rise in employment has been in managerial, professional and associate professional jobs.

·         The number of women in work is at a record high of 14.4 million.

·         The number of people claiming the main unemployment benefit is at its lowest level since June 2008.

Now I am not for one minute saying that the job is done. Far from it – there are still 1.9 million people without work.

However, the future is bright. Nationally there are currently a record 700,000 job vacancies and here in Hammersmith and Fulham there are some fantastic opportunities for local employment.

The transformation of Old Oak Common will bring around 55,000 new jobs and I am sure every councillor in the chamber welcomed today’s news that Eric Pickles has given the go ahead for a Mayoral Development Corporation.

This will allow LBHF to play a key role in shaping the redevelopment and bringing these new jobs and new homes closer to reality.

The redevelopment of Earls Court will bring a further 10,000 new jobs and the extension of Westfield is set to create another 6,700 new permanent roles on top of the 2,500 jobs at the old BBC Television Centre.

But it is crucial that the current Administration learns lessons from previous Labour Councils in H&F. When the original Westfield scheme was given the go ahead the then leader of the Council, now MP of Hammersmith, did not put the necessary safeguards in to guarantee local employment.

The result: Westfield employs 10,000 people of which just 350 come from the local area.

However, I am sure the current Leader’s famed negotiating prowess will ensure no repeat over the next three years but we must make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity to create jobs for local people.

I welcome the continued reduction in unemployment but we must not be complacent. We have a great opportunity in this borough to create many thousands more new jobs in the coming years and I commend this motion.

Julian Critchlow: A review of The Andover Arms

critchlowBy our restaurant critic Julian Critchlow

The Andover Arms
57 Aldensley Road
London W6 0DL
020 8748 2155

Dr Johnson once said that there is “nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn”.

I visited the Andover Arms, in the heart of Brackenbury village, so see how it measures up to the aphorism.

I was not disappointed.  Indeed, although the pub was probably built well after his time, the ambience, with its bare, stained boards, and the intricate woodwork of the bar, it would be easy to imagine the good doctor sipping a pint of sound ale in a cosy corner.  Only the absence of tobacco smoke, and a low, but to my ears rather jarring, thrum of background music would have been unfamiliar to him.  For the Andover is, first of all, a good, traditional pub, enthusiastically patronised by the locals, and open every day including for lunch.  That is not to say that the bar itself is without sophistication – as well as a choice of several Fullers’ beers, it boasts a range of 15 different single malts, as well as other Scotches, and whiskeys.

However, I had come primarily to sample the provender.  If your taste turns to nouvelle cuisine portions, stop reading now.  The menu is as traditional as the décor, though not unimaginative, and as substantial.  My dining companion and I both started with the “pan” fried scallops (how can scallops be fried other than in a pan?), crispy squid, pea puree and balsamic.  It was beautifully presented: really warm, rather than lukewarm (contrary to how such dishes are too often served), firm, and succulent.   My companion accompanied hers with a glass of the House champagne which was full-flavoured, and served at the proper temperature.

For the main course, I chose slow roast half shoulder of lamb in rosemary gravy.  My initial reaction was that it would readily have fed a family of four, and still left enough to take home for the dog.  However, the meat, whilst firm, was tender, and slipped equally easily off the bone and down the throat.  I noted that three vegetables were served with it, as well as the potatoes.

My companion opted for the 250g (8.8 ounces in Church of England) rib-eye – the smallest on offer, the alternative being a massive 350 g (12.3 ounces).  She asked for it medium rare, and that is just how it came, with a spicy sauce on the side.  Talking of spicy, we ordered with it the Argentinian Malbec – good tannins and after-taste.

I finished with apple and berry crumble and custard.  My companion found the crumble topping slightly hard for her taste, but it suited me very well.  It was filled with chunks of identifiable fruit and gave the overall impression of being authentically home-made.  However, only the need for courtesy to the service, and childhood memories of being told to remember the starving, enabled me to finish the entire industrial-sized quantity.  My companion was delighted with her delicately flavoured gingerbread cheesecake with honeycomb ice cream.

Our choices were typical of the menu of a whole – a good selection is available, including pheasant, fish and chips, and mushroom wellington for the mains.

There is also a reasonably large selection of wines, though I considered their prices to be somewhat on the high side: the excellent Lebanese wine, Chateau Musar 2002 is available but, at £60 a bottle, it has a 50% or 70% mark-up on the retail cost (depending on how carefully you buy) and the Borolo was £65.  However, our Malbec was a more reasonable £26, and good enough to suggest that the establishment has refused to sacrifice quality to cost anywhere on the list.  It was pleasing to see a bottle of table water automatically provided.  Bread is an extra £2.25, but comes with oil.

The total cost of our meal for two came to somewhat over £100, including service.  I calculated that three courses, without wine or bread, would cost between  £23.20 and £46.95 per person.

Finally, the service was attentive and friendly.  Full marks, in particular, to the manageress, who has the rare knack of charm without intrusiveness, and an obviously boundless enthusiasm for the her task.

This is an establishment I should not hesitate to recommend, and to which I shall certainly return (having taken the precaution of having fasted for the week beforehand!).


Plans to transform Old Oak Common receive seal of approval from Eric and Boris

borisOne of the largest regeneration schemes in London for decades has received the seal of approval from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson intends to establish a Mayoral Development Corporation to lead the transformation of Old Oak Common in West London and create a brand new part of the city with up to 24,000 homes and more than 55,000 jobs.

Eric_Pickles_OfficialEric Pickles has now confirmed that he supports these plans. An Order has been laid before Parliament to create the new body, which will be known as the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC). Subject to parliamentary approval, the new corporation will come into existence on April 1, 2015. The Order will be followed by a similar piece of legislation to give the OPDC planning powers.

A vast High Speed 2 (HS2) and Crossrail Station is due to be constructed at Old Oak Common by 2026. The new station will be the size of Waterloo, handling 250,000 passengers a day and acting as a super hub between London and the rest of the UK, Europe and the world.

This represents an opportunity to bring unprecedented regeneration to the area and the Mayor believes that the OPDC is the best way to unlock the enormous potential of the site and deliver a £15bn boost to London’s economy over 30 years.

The Corporation will act as a single, transparent and robust body to spearhead the regeneration of the 950 hectare site that straddles the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Brent and Ealing

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “The vast new station at Old Oak Common presents us with an almost unprecedented opportunity to transform an area the size of a small London borough into a thriving new part of the capital, with unrivalled transport links to central London, the rest of the country and beyond. London will shortly become home to more people than ever before and there is no doubt that this scheme will provide a real shot- in-the-arm as we look to provide the new homes and jobs that we desperately need.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Housebuilding is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan – so it is absolutely right that delivering new homes is at the heart of this exciting regeneration scheme. Today’s deal will create a whole new community in West London, delivering up to 24,000 new homes and over 50,000 new jobs, with excellent transport links both into the capital and across the country. This is on top of the efforts we’ve made to get the country building again, which has helped deliver over 141,000 homes in London since the end of 2009.”

The OPDC will look to emulate the success of the London Legacy Development Corporation that continues to lead the post-Olympic regeneration of Stratford and East London. The Mayor’s Office believes that the regeneration opportunity could provide almost 14 per cent of Greater London’s employment needs up to 2031.

As well as promoting and delivering physical, social, economic and environmental regeneration, the Corporation will also safeguard and develop Park Royal as a strategic industrial location and attract long-term investment to the area, including from overseas.

Once established, the proposed OPDC would take on various statutory powers relating to infrastructure, regeneration, land acquisitions and financial assistance. It is also intended that it will take on planning powers across the Old Oak and Park Royal area, including determination of planning applications and plan-making, which will enable the Corporation to charge the Community Infrastructure Levy (once it has in place the necessary charging schedule).

The OPDC will be chaired by the Mayor of London or designate and it is proposed that the Corporation’s board will include councillors from the three relevant boroughs to ensure local accountability. It is intended that the OPDC will agree arrangements to delegate the determination of certain planning applications back to the boroughs.

The proposed OPDC will cover the area encompassing the Park Royal Industrial Estate, Stonebridge Park, Park Royal Cemetery (Acton Cemetery), the core development site at Old Oak, North Acton Underground Station, Willesden Junction underground and overground stations and Wormwood Scrubs Common.

Wormwood Scrubs will continue to be protected by its designation as Metropolitan Open Land and the 1879 Wormwood Scrubs Act. New additional public open spaces are proposed north of Wormwood Scrubs to contribute to meeting the needs and requirements for forthcoming development.

The OPDC would work closely with the three boroughs and all existing businesses across Old Oak Common and Park Royal. This would include working with existing businesses to support potential relocations to protect the businesses and jobs that are so integral to the London economy and the local community.

It would also look to regenerate, develop and transform Old Oak Common, in a way that is sustainable, meets local needs and supports the strategic long-term priorities in the Mayor’s London Plan and Old Oak Vision Plan. It will also safeguard and regenerate Park Royal as a strategic industrial location and attract long-term investment to the area.

In addition it will secure high-quality sustainable development and investment for the benefit of the area and the communities that surround it. It would also promote world class architecture, sustainable place making and urban design to deliver a new high quality new part of London.

The Further Alterations to the London Plan, published earlier this week, designate Old Oak Common as an opportunity area.

“I’m worth it” insists Labour councillor on £540 an hour

aconnellLast month I reported on how a Labour councillor – Cllr Adam Connell – was being paid £540 an hour for chairing the Planning Committee. There is little to do as proposals for new homes have dried up since Labour took over the Council. Two meetings of his committee were cancelled altogether.

Nor has he attended any extra meetings with developers.

I emailed Cllr Connell to ask if he would be continuing to claim his full “Special Responsibility Allowance”.

He has replied that he will. Cllr Connell says:

“Sorry about the delay in getting back to you, I have been busy cleaning up the mess that you and your Conservative colleagues left with your approach to planning in Hammersmith and Fulham.”

There is no detail as to quite what he has been “busy” doing to justify his £5,664.70 a year from the Council Taxpayer to attend such short and infrequent meetings of his committee.

For that matter what is he doing to earn his £8,940 a year as a ward councillor? Does he take weeks to reply to residents from Addison Ward seeking his help and then explain his delay is due to how “busy” he has been?

What would a Labour Government mean for Charing Cross Hospital?

220px-Charing_Cross_Hospital_in_London,_spring_2013_(15)It has become a familiar message of the Labour Party locally that the NHS proposals “Shaping a healthier future” would constitute the closure of Charing Cross Hospital (or at least of its A&E department). It has also become a familiar message from the NHS that this allegation is false.

Bullying council staff into repeating a lie in an official council press release doesn’t make it true.

What was clear was that Labour offered an “early pledge” to “block” those proposals, if they won the council elections last May. They have not done so.

In the General Election campaign they will repackage their messages and say that Charing Cross Hospital is still under threat of closure but that (whoops a daisy) actually it turns out not to be a local council decision but that electing a Labour Government should do the trick.

Yet what are we to make of an article in the left wing journal Tribune from the Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Cllr Stephen Cowan?

Cllr Cowan says:

“Labour needs to commit to smaller high profile changes in each part of the country, too – such as saving the world-class Charing Cross Hospital in London.”

That can only mean that – in the view of Cllr Cowan – Labour have yet to make any such commitment.

Cllr Andrew Brown: Half a century on, Churchill’s still the greatest

andrewbrownA guest post from Cllr Andrew Brown

Never in history, has our country, nor the world, owed so much to one man.

It is without doubt in my mind, that Sir Winston Churchill was the greatest politician, greatest Prime Minister, greatest person that this country and probably the world has ever seen. Whether you share that view or not, it is undeniable that he was a truly great man.

That is why it is so important that we remember his extraordinary life fifty years after his death and continue to do so in years to come. The word extraordinary is often overused, but in Winston’s case it feels underwhelming. No amount of adjectives, superlatives or literary device could quite encapsulate the man he was.

churchillNot only was he our greatest wartime leader, at our time of greatest need, he played an important part in the victory of the 1st World War. He modernised the Royal Navy as First Lord of the Admiralty, and played an important role in the development of the tank. He came back from the shock post war election defeat to limit the damage that Atlee’s Labour Government was doing to this country. He was a prolific writer, a journalist, a historian and Nobel Prize winning author. He was a bricklayer and an accomplished painter. His early life saw him pop up in so many far flung parts of Empire at many important events, he could easily overshadow many fantastical fictional characters.

He faced challenges in his personal life, most seriously severe depression, and in his public life, his resignation over the Dardanelles, but he overcame them. Following his resignation he became an officer on the front line in the trenches when many in his position would have retired from public life. Between the wars he spent years in the political wilderness and first saw the dangers and evil of Hitler and Nazism when mainstream popular opinion was against him.

His instinct for what was right was so strong he also foresaw the rise of the Iron Curtain and the Cold War. His strength of his convictions was what was so necessary at that darkest time, but also what caused him some of his challenges. He was a champion of free trade and resigned from the Conservative Party over that issue to join the Liberals, only to “re-rat” years later.

His oratory, written word and wit are so memorable that people can recall hundreds of his phrases over a lifetime and sometimes century after they were said or written. He’s even given credit for fantastic lines he didn’t say, but are so good that people believe Winston must have said it.

He was a bon viveur, a gregarious lover of life, who had such a prodigious appetite for champagne and cigars that Pol Roger named their vintage champagne after him and Romeo y Julieta named a style of cigar in his honour.

He help to found Churchill College Cambridge, which was named in his honour. He was respected and adored across the world, especially in the USA. He was an Atlanticist and believed in the Empire and Commonwealth, and I’m sure would not have wanted this country to distance itself from it, as it has.

Churchill was the ultimate statesman, and would almost certainly be on the right side of the argument over what to do today over Russian aggression or Islamic terrorism, or any other geopolitical problem we will face.

He was a man that would have been a leading politician in any generation, but we must be so very very thankful that his moment was at our darkest hour.

I have been fascinated by him for a most of my life since reading about his accomplishments whilst at school. He is probably one of the reasons I love reading about history and why I got involved in politics. He inspires me to not always follow the crowd and stick to what I believe in, even if it sometimes is contrary to mainstream opinion.

If you want to find out more about his remarkable life, I would recommend Martin Gilbert’s biography, as well as Boris Johnson’s recent book. To read more from Churchill’s own voice, his histories of the English Speaking Peoples, the Second World War and on Marlborough are splendid, to name just a few.

If all Conservatives could think and act a little more like Churchill with his single mindedness and dedication, our party and our country would be stronger for it. We should all try to be a little more like him.