Green light for Hammersmith Labour to use property developer lobbyists to canvass for them

napierI reported earlier on the cosy arrangement where Charlie Napier, a property developer lobbyist was campaigning alongside Labour councillors in our borough while also lobbying them on behalf of clients.

For many the conflict of interest is glaringly obvious.

Astonishingly the Chief Executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Nigel Pallace, can’t see (or says he can’t see) that there is a problem.

I raised the matter the Mr Pallace and he responded:

Dear Harry

This is a matter of proper conduct and behaviour as well as member judgement.  The various rules, protocols and guidelines are set out in part 5 of the Council’s constitution as well as national guidance.  This is all published material.

I cannot know when anyone breaks a rule, unless it comes to light after the event.

The point is that councillors should know that they should not be conducting planning business on behalf of the council other than in the correct way at the proper time.  There is, though, a recognition that lobbying will take place – the constitution includes lengthy guidance to councillors on that issue under “GUIDANCE FOR COUNCILLORS AND OFFICERS DEALING WITH PLANNING AND LICENSING” (begins on page 39 of part 5 of the constitution).  It’s all on the website.

Is there a specific instance which has given you cause for concern?


I then said:

Thanks, Nigel.

I had been under the impression that the new administration had brought in some new rules in this respect but it is clear from your reply that they have not.

There is a specific instance which causes me concern. Charlie Napier has been both lobbying councillors on behalf of a property developer and campaigning for councillors (being sufficiently brazen to be photographed doing so

This seems to me to amount to conflict of interest.

Do you agree?

Best wishes,

He replied:


My only concern would be regarding a conflict of interest facing a councillor, not a lobbyist. Councillors dealing with planning matters should abide by the rules regarding lobbying to which I referred in my previous reply.  I have no locus in the conduct of party political campaigning.


Nigel Pallace

To which I have responded:

Thanks, Nigel.

It seems obvious to me that a councillor would be beholden to a lobbyist campaigning for them just as much as if they had given them money.

There should be transparency. Councillors should declare both the campaigning assistance and the donations they obtain from those lobbying on behalf of property developers operating in our borough.

I am disappointed that you and the current administration do not agree that this minimum standard should be adhered to.

Best wishes,


We are used to hypocrisy from the Labour Party. But even by their standards this is pretty shocking. They were elected after campaigning against property developers. Now they and the property developers are using the same legmen. Then even when they are caught out decide to persist with the arrangement not even accepting that it should be declared.

The whole thing stinks.

Labour’s insult to Special Constables

Even before the Council tax cut of £150 from the Mayor of London the number of Special Constables in our city has increased sharply.

The Government’s statistics on police numbers includes figure for Special Constables.

The number of police officers in London is 36,100. In 2010 it was 35,882.

Yet the Labour Party in Hammersmith and Fulham have ignored Special Constables in order to make a party political claim about police numbers falling. They have also used council resources to promote their fiddled figures.

This is an insult to the 149 Special Constables who serve in our borough. These are real police officers. They wear a uniform. They have a warrant card granting them the power to arrest people (unlike the Police Community Support Officers). They are on patrol a minimum of eight hours a fortnight. Often those are busy town centres on Friday and Saturday nights when beat policing is most appreciated. They are also unpaid.

I would like to think there would be cross party recognition for their work. Could their exclusion form the Council stats have been an honest mistake. I asked Louise Raisey, the Council’s Head of Communications, to at least correct the figures online. She refused on the grounds that she would have to put the “amended version through the internal clearance process”. That is code for her political masters wouldn’t allow it.

On a Saturday nights while the Labour councillors and council spin doctors are safely in bed the Special Constables are out on the streets wearing stab jackets.

The Labour Party should apologise to our Special Constables for ignoring the contribution they make.

Hammersmith Labour ditch the impartiality of the Mayor

There was recently a “Moving Forward Together” conference put on by Hammersmith and Fulham Council with the former Housing Minister Keith Hill and other Labour politicians to promote Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s proposal to privatise the entire council housing stock in the borough. (Mr Hill is being paid £12,000 to push the message.)

The partisan nature of the Conference was made explicit by Labour councillors and the Labour MP attending while Conservative elected representatives were turned away. Council tenants and Council leaseholders who were suspected of being critics of the proposals were also banned.

One abuse is that this was another example of Council resources being used to promote the Labour Party. That has become routine – although no less scandalous for that.

But another aspect was the attendance of the Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham, Cllr Mercy Umeh, wearing her chains of office. Of course she has an obligation to be political impartial. Therefore she was extremely badly advised to attend a partisan event.

When I raised concerns about this, Tasnim Shawkat the Council’s Director of Law replied:

“I am aware that there is a requirement for the Mayor to be non party political.  I have seen the photograph that you have sent of the Mayor attending the Moving Forward Together Conference.  However, there was no party political aspect to this event.

The conference was organised by the Council’s tenants with the support of officers in HRD and sponsored by contractors who work for the Council.  Cllr Umeh was invited to the Tenants Conference in her capacity as the Mayor. Further, I have checked with HRD and I understand that the conference organisers managed the guest list. I understand that the MP was not invited. Only a few administration Members were invited who are involved in their official capacity in housing matters.

“On receipt of the invitation the Mayor’s office advised the Mayor that this was an appropriate mayoral event for her to attend.  The Mayor carried out her role as the first citizen of the borough as she normally does. Therefore I do not have any evidence to suggest the Mayor’s attendance at this event calls into question her impartiality in her role as the Mayor.”

The suggestion that this wasn’t a Council event is nonsense. But that is not really the point so far as the Mayor’s status is concerned. The point is the prohibition on her involvement in party politics.

So the defence is that Mr Slaughter was not invited. Perhaps not. But he attended. If the event was non party political why was he let in while the Conservative councillors were turned away? I am not suggesting that Mr Slaughter will win any votes by backing this particular cause. he is extremely foolish to do so. Again that is not the point.

It seems obvious that there was a party political aspect to this event – and that it was a mistake for the Mayor to attend.

The refusal to provide an apology – or even an acknowledgement of error – makes this more serious. That is because it indicates that rather than an oversight the protocol is being treated with complete contempt.


Hideous tower proposed to replace Palladium site on Shepherd’s Bush Green

Virginia Ironside writes

We are faced with another threat and the picture says it all.
TowerDorsett Hotels, who did a sympathetic conversion of Odeon I (above, on the right), have acquired the Walkabout pub (also known as Odeon II or the Shepherds Bush Palladium) and want to demolish it to build “serviced apartments”.

walkaboutnewThe Walkabout and the Empire Theatre and Bush Hotel to the South and the re-vamped Odeon to the North are all locally listed “Buildings of Merit” in the Shepherds Bush Conservation Area. The whole exterior of the old Palladium should be retained and restored – not destroyed.  Under the gaudy paint the original features are intact:

The Conservation Area Character Profile includes The Palladium is in “pages 5-9” para 5.11. Of course the proposed tower’s effect on the Empire Theatre (5.10) and the Bush Hotel (5.14) as well as the revamped Odeon I (5.12) would be disastrous if this important building is not saved.

The developers have made a video in an attempt to justify their desecration of Shepherds Bush Town Centre.  To view it, enter the password Walkabout.

But Dorsett Hotels retained the old façade of the old Odeon so successfully, so surely they could do the same with the old Palladium?

If you agree that to demolish one of the few idiosyncratic buildings around in Shepherd’s Bush to make way for more personalityless Dubai-like architecture would be a disaster, could you write and object in the strongest possible terms and forward to any groups or individuals who would be interested? Objections have to be in by April 15th.

This link takes you to the planning application page where you can object with the “make a comment” button.

Please copy your comments to:

The Planning Committee:

Vice-Chair: (also Shepherds Bush ward councillor)

Shepherds Bush ward councillors:

and MP Andy Slaughter:

Hammersmith Labour Party pour Council Taxpayers money into their election campaign

yvette-cooper-w6-crime-432_tcm21-194630With just 48 days to go the General Election the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has visited the marginal Hammersmith constituency to promote Labour’s message.

There has also been a glossy brochure sent to every household attacking the Government’s “austerity cuts” and praising Labour policy. It offered the confused messages that Government’s cuts had caused devastation – and that the Labour Council had managed to absorb without reducing services.

None of that is surprising given that the closely fought election is so close.

austerityWhat is a scandal is that rather than paying for their own propaganda the Labour Party are using Council Taxpayers money to do so. Council resources are funding Labour’s campaign. This is in flagrant regard of the Local Authority Publicity Code which prohibits this abuse.

The District Auditor Andrew Sayers tells me that he is reviewing “the processes that the Council has in place for adhering to the Local Authority Publicity Code”. But Labour cynically calculate that any enforcement will take place after Polling Day.

Needless to say the Labour propaganda being sent out  by the Council – and trumpted by Miss Cooper – is not only partisan but dishonest.

For instance it claims “Across London, police numbers have fallen by 2,000 since 2010”.The number of police officers is 36,100. In 2010 it was 35,882. Labour produced their figures by excluding Special Constables. But even though they are unpaid Special Constables are real police officers. They have the power to arrest people. They wear a uniform. They are out on patrol on Saturday nights maintaining order and keeping us safe.

councilpropWhy Special Constables were excluded from Labour’s figures? Also why was it not made clear in the Council leaflet that the figure cited excluded Special Constables.

Without irony the glossy council magazine boasted of having scrapped spending money on glossy council magazines.

Labour’s attempt to rig this election by using Council Taxpayers money to boost their campaign is a complete disgrace.

New headmaster for Ark Swift Primary Academy

greenhallArk Swift Primary Academy, a school at the heart of the White City community, has announced Christopher Greenhall as its new Headmaster.

An experienced educator and senior leader, Mr Greenhall was previously Head of School at Southlands Lower School and Deputy Headmaster at Holmemead Middle School.

On his appointment Mr Greenhall said:

“I am delighted and proud to be new Headteacher of Ark Swift, a fantastic school on a journey to excellence. Our school vision is dream, believe, achieve; I look forward to working with pupils, parents and staff to help our young people to do just that.

“Ark Swift is a close-knit school community and together, we will achieve excellence – helping our pupils to develop the knowledge, skills and character to not just excel in the modern world but to help shape it for the better.”

arkchildrenThis is an exciting time for the school, which recently announced Damian McBeath as Executive Headteacher. Mr McBeath is also Executive Headteacher of nearby Ark Conway Primary Academy free school and the Ark Bentworth Primary Academy.

This primary partnership will allow all three schools to benefit from greater shared learning and collaboration, improving the primary school offer for families across White City. It also allows each school to benefit from Mr McBeath’s impressive experience and track-record – last year Department for Education figures showed that Ark Conway achieved the best results in the country for key stage 1.

Mr McBeath said:

“The biggest transformation taking place in White City is in the mind-set of our pupils. There is a genuine sense that anything is possible and we embrace that.

“The appointment of Mr Greenhall as Headteacher is a significant step towards the World Class education our children deserve. Chris is a great leader with a huge amount of experience in local, national and international educational initiatives.

“I have no doubts whatsoever that under his leadership Ark Swift will continue to make great strides forward in raising the attainment and providing a challenge, inspiring and creative curriculum for all pupils.”

A parent at Ark Swift said:

“In the short time Mr Greenhall has been the Interim Headteacher we have seen some great changes at Ark Swift. He motivates and inspires the children and I feel valued as a parent. I am excited for what the future holds for Ark Swift.”

HRH Princess Anne visits the Sulgrave Youth Club

princessroyalOn 3rd March 2015, HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of UK Youth, visited The Sulgrave Club in Goldhawk Road – one of the Microsoft IT Youth Hubs to see first-hand how this innovative programme is enabling young people to have an impact on their peers and the wider community.

Microsoft IT Youth Hubs are youth projects that are being supported by Microsoft and UK Youth to upgrade their digital resources and train young people to become peer educators in digital literacy.

During her visit to the Sulgrave Club, The Princess met the Club’s ‘IT Champions’ – the volunteer peer educators who are enabling others to gain valuable ICT skills that will benefit them at home, in their education and in their careers.

As part of the visit, The Princess enjoyed a video presentation, in which the IT Champions gave an insight into their experiences of driving the project over the past 14 months. Their stories demonstrated how, with training and ongoing support, young people can make a difference through peer education – on their peers, their communities and for their own development.

princesstwoWith support from their Microsoft Mentor, Vikas Aurora, and a Microsoft Partner, Information Management Consultancy AIMII, the Club has delivered weekly IT sessions ‘in-house’. Furthermore, Sulgrave has consistently and successfully run an outreach programme with local schools, youth clubs and local businesses – and also shared their digital know-how with older people at a nearby residential living complex.

In their conversation with The Princess, Club staff were able to describe how the Microsoft IT Youth Hubs initiative has helped to build young people’s confidence and skills by providing a focused digital engagement programme, alongside mentoring from sector professionals.

Anna Smee, UK Youth CEO, commented: “We’re honoured that HRH The Princess Royal joined us at The Sulgrave Youth Club to see the Microsoft IT Youth Hub in action.

“As Patron, The Princess has always been keen to find out about our work on the ground. We are delighted that she was able to visit Sulgrave, so she could see, first-hand, our latest work supporting local youth clubs to engage young people on issues important to them.

“Having HRH The Princess Royal visit the club recognised and celebrated the achievements of the young people around the country who have contributed to the success of the programme.”

Labour MP for Hammersmith Andrew Slaughter turned up – despite wanting to abolish the monarchy and replace the National Anthem with Jerusalem! Shameless…

Local primary school is top of the class in reading

image002Ark Conway Primary Academy, a primary school on Hemlock Road, was last week praised in ‘Reading: the next steps’, a report by the Department of Education which sets out evidence on the importance of reading and progress being made across the country.

The school was highlighted as an example of a school successfully improving literacy and getting results. Pupils at Ark Conway achieved an incredible:

  • 100% pass rate in the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1 – well above the national average of 74%.
  • The school is also ranked joint first in the entire country for its results in reading – 93% of pupils achieved the highest test levels by the age of seven.

These fantastic results have been achieved through a whole-school focus on literacy and the use of Read Write Inc., an innovative programme to teach phonics where pupils learn the combinations of letters which make all the different sounds, and how to combine these sounds to make words.

The school focuses on more than just results and works hard to encourage a love of reading, with initiatives such as ‘Drop everything and read’, where everybody in school reads for 10 minutes uninterrupted every day. Pupils recently celebrated World Book Day. The school was filled for the day with superheroes, gruffalos and wizards amongst others, and children took part in a book swap and read to each other.

Executive Headteacher Damian McBeath, who is also Executive Headteacher of nearby Ark Bentworth Primary Academy and Ark Swift Primary Academy, was recently named as one of the ‘Education Reformers of the year’ by the Education Foundation for his inspiring leadership and achievement of pupils in a new school.

On Ark Conway’s achievements Mr McBeath said:

“It’s fantastic and gratifying to see that all the hard work and effort of our children and our teachers has produced such incredible results. Every child is working above the national average, whatever their background. Our focus on English will give our young people the solid foundations they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

 Zaia, a Year 1 pupil, said:

“I like reading at school and phonics lessons because we get to write interesting letters and do some interesting writing. I like reading and I’m getting better and better. I loved the book Jade’s Party because she got the wrong bag and ended up with a jumbo pack of nappies!”

 James Burrell, a parent with children in reception and year 1, said:

“”It’s been a great excitement to watch Grace and Tarka’s love of reading grow in their time at Ark Conway. Its phonics programme ensures they are becoming confident and curious readers, while enabling us to support their learning at home.”

 Richard Welsh, Phonics Lead at Ark Conway, said:

“I’m incredibly proud of what the team have achieved in both results and creating brilliant lessons that have enthused all the children to making such amazing progress. Seeing the children progress so quickly and gaining such confidence in their reading has made the role all the more worthwhile.”