More new free schools for Hammersmith and Fulham

arkburlprimHammersmith and Fulham continues to lead the way for free schools.

In September we will see the opening of the Ark Burlington Danes Primary. It is confirmed by inclusion on the list of free schools published this morning.

There was also news of the following:

TBAP 16-19 Academic AP Academy in Hammersmith

This school will be the latest addition to the successful Tri-Borough Alternative Provision (TBAP) chain of schools and will be located alongside the Bridge AP Academy in Hammersmith. The free school will offer the International Baccalaureate to 16- to 19-year-olds who may not succeed in mainstream sixth forms, but have the potential to go to university. Students will be supported by a rigorous mentoring program that will help them meet very high academic standards.

For too long Pupil Referral Units were just (very expensive) places to dump excluded children who had been disruptive in mainstream schools. The system would write them off.

That is not the approach of Seamus Oates, the inspirational Executive Headteacher of the TBAP Trust. It’s not just that he does a good job to turn things round for the children at the Bridge Academy. It’s that others can be held to account.

The challenge becomes: “If it is possible for excluded children sent to the Bridge Academy to flourish academically then why should that not be possible for excluded children placed in alternative provision elsewhere.”

Free schools have represent a revolution for choice, innovation and high expectations. They have helped to drive up standards.

What a terrible thought that in May we could have a Labour Government that would be hostile to such schools and threaten this progress.

Barons Court Project to hold open day

baronscourtpicThe Barons Court Project, based at 69 Talgarth Road, announces an open day on March 14th from 11am to 2pm:

“We are inviting you to come along to our project to see how we work with members of the community who access our service. Members of staff will be on hand to show you around and to answer any questions you might have. Delicious homemade refreshments will be available to buy from our Café.”

The Project helps the street homeless and the mentally ill. Their Manager Michael Angus described their work in a post for this site here.



Council leader’s Capco meetings – those “minutes” in full

cowanThe Labour manifesto for the council election made the following pledge about meetings between councillors and property developers:

“Labour will not only publish when the meetings take place but we will also list all who attended and publish the agenda and minutes.”

What has been the reality?

capcoA meeting on February 10th with the Council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan and representatives from Capco offers the following as the only “minutes”:

“Discussions took place regarding Earls Court in the context of the manifesto aims, benefits to residents, the conditional land sale agreement and the potential for revisions to the masterplan.”

Then there was a single note about three other meetings with Cllr Cowan and Capco – on September 16th, December 9th and January 27th. The “minutes” for all three meetings offered the following wording:

“Discussions took place regarding Earls Court in the context of the manifesto aims, benefits to residents, the conditional land sale agreement and the potential for revisions to the masterplan.”

Groundhog Day. So far as we can tell exactly the same was said at all four meetings.

The dictionary defines “minutes” as a “detailed (although not verbatim) record of business transacted.”

If you believe that Labour are publishing a “detailed” record of the business transacted at their meetings with property developers then you will believe that they have kept their manifesto pledge.




Why is the Council delaying new homes in Goldhawk Road?

Joy Nichols MBEBusinesswoman and Shepherd’s Bus resident Joy Nichols has got in touch about delays trying to redevelop a site on the corner of Goldhawk Road and Hammersmith Grove.

She says:

“I have owned  95 Goldhawk Road since the Doctors vacated the Grove Health Centre back in the late 1990s. I used to run an employment agency there.

I have had a long history of trying to engage with the Council to creating a better structure for my rundown site.  In fact its been over 10 years since I commenced my application to create homes on the site.  I have had nothing but obstacles put in my way from the council.

In 2013 permission was eventually granted (subject to Section 106) to build 9 flats with ground floor offices.  In 2011 the council agreed to sell me a tiny piece of land and a narrow strip of the pavement that would greatly enhance my scheme.  These pieces of land on their own is of no use to the council in fact it cost them money to maintain.

IMG_2023Although both the council and I have engaged our respective valuers to see what a fair price would be for the land (Lambeth Smith Hampton on the council’s part),  the council has been dragging its feet ever since.  

I have been told that the agreement to sell must be authorised by  the Cabinet.  Each time I am told that my case is to be discussed at a Cabinet meetings it has not happened.

Over the past months I have written to the Deputy Leader complaining, I have emailed Lisa Homan requesting her intervention and last Friday I tried to arrange a meeting to discuss this with the Leader.  I am awaiting a response to the possibility of this meeting being granted.

I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating and stressful this has been.  

I have offered an eye watering £450,000 for the pieces of land that can just about accommodate two park benches and the Council have been thinking about it for years.  In the meantime my eye sore of a building remains undeveloped and is a magnet for rough sleepers.

The danger is I may have to withdraw that offer to purchase the land because my source of funding has been treading water for so long and is not available for much longer.  I was told that the Leader could make a decision because of the situation but having spoken to the responsible officer was told that that avenue is blocked.”

The little scratch of land is of new use to anyone at present. The proposal would make the area more attractive as well as providing new homes and reducing council debt (and thus interest payments which is still where a big chunk of Council Tax goes).

I have asked for an explanation for the delay.

Cllr Lucy Ivimy: Home care charging should not be free for the wealthy

ivimyA guest post from Cllr Lucy Ivimy

The residents of Hammersmith & Fulham who receive home care services are amongst the most vulnerable of us. They may be disabled or, frequently, elderly and infirm, becoming mentally less capable of coping than they used to be, all too often alone or with a distant and busy family that cannot give much assistance, often worried about money. The duty of the Council to provide excellent care for them is so clear that it does not need to be stated.

With the increasing fragmentation of the family and the pressures of modern life, I fear that the number of residents here and across the country needing home care can only increase. With that in mind, there are three important points:

  • We must ensure the quality of this help. The new Care Act will impose statutory obligations and penalties on us if we don’t – and rightly so.
  • We must ensure that the most vulnerable, those who need help the most, receive it.
  • We must also ensure that there is the funding necessary to pay for it.

Under the present means tested system three quarters of those receiving home care pay nothing for the service. Only those who are judged to have sufficient income to pay for it are charged. I question whether providing this service free to those who do have the income to pay for it, will help achieve the important objectives of the service. There is a concern that offering this as a free service will be diverting funds away from the most vulnerable towards the wealthy.

It may also lead to an increase in demand from those who could pay as the articulate well to do demand services for themselves or their parents, while those most in need are least able to fight for themselves. It must be a concern that offering this service free will stretch the adult social care budget further than its resources.

Concerns have been raise that those on moderate incomes, who need assistance, are being put off asking for it because of the cost of paying for it. There is certainly justification for reviewing the means testing system to ensure that does not happen. With this proviso, we cannot support making home care for those who can afford it, free.

Who would get woken up by a third runway at Heathrow?

mapnoiseGatwick Airport (who do, of course, have a vested interest as they want to have a new runway) have produced this interesting map indicating that 320,000 west Londoners would suffer from more noise if the third runway went ahead at Heathrow.

They say:

“People living in the area outlined in red will be most affected by noise in 2050 with a two runway Heathrow.

People living in the area outlined in blue will be most affected by noise in 2050 if Heathrow builds a third runway.

Populations living in the areas between the red and blue outlines will be newly flown over should Heathrow build a third runway.

The modelling has been compiled using Airports Commission data.”

I asked for a more detailed map for Hammersmith and Fulham – which wasn’t possible but Hannah Staunton, the Head of Community Engagement for Gatwick Obviously did say:

“I’ve been having some very enlightening conversations with the technical team about this. The northern part of your ward, from just below Goldhawk Road, all the way across to the eastern edge will be impacted by noise at a higher level than currently experienced, under the first of the suggested flight paths.

“Other wards including Hammersmith Broadway, Addison, Avonmore & Brook Green, Shepherds Bush Green, Askew, Wormholt & White City and College Park & Old Oak will be impacted too.

“The existing flight paths already show that all of H&F south of the A4 experiences noise levels above 55db, which the 2M group has maintained to be a serious nuisance for some time.

“I hope that’s helpful to you. Creating maps of individual roads isn’t possible at this stage, but if the mapping continues to be refined I will email you promptly.”