Come dancing at the Grove Neighbourhood Centre

gnc1A guest post from Vicky Wood, Chairman of the Grove Neighbourhood Centre

Come and enjoy Social Dancing at The Grove Neighbourhood Centre. Donald Wright runs a class on Tuesday evenings from 7 – 8.30pm. Donald has been teaching for many years holding private and group lessons. Local residents come to class to have fun, relax, be entertained and take part in enjoyable exercise. The Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango Rumba, and Jive are just some of the dances you can enjoy during the time.

It is a small class of about 10 people so rather similar to a private lesson. It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes but not trainers. You require no experience or partner to come and join in. Donald will teach each class according to ability and students tend to stay for quite some time. One, totally blind local resident was a member of the class for over 3 years. He thoroughly enjoyed getting out and participating in the social interaction.

Come and try an introductory lesson for £6.00. Lessons after that are £12.00 for a one and a half hour lesson.

If you would like to join Donald please call (07889 068585)

The Grove Neighbourhood Centre is also holding a TEA DANCE on 28th May from 2-4.30pm

This event was well attended last year with one of the highlights being the live band. The Dennis Smith Trio is very popular and have a great deal of experience. It is a great event enjoyed by many. New people come to benefit from the dancing, the social aspect of the afternoon and learning new steps. Tea , cake , merriment and a great deal of laughter.

Come and join us, book early to avoid disappointment.

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More Labour hypocrisy – nearly 500 H&F Council staff on zero hours contracts

Labour have talked a lot about zero hours contracts in the election campaign. But what of the record of Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council? My colleague Cllr Mike Adam has made some enquiries.

Debbie Morris, The Director for HR reports:

“There are 280 non schools positions, primarily adult learning tutors and sessional carers that have non-exclusive contracts without guaranteed hours. This has long been the norm in those sectors.

There are 192 schools, which are all supply teachers and non teaching staff, with such contracts. This has long been the norm in those sectors.”

These do not exclusively tie an employee to an employer. But Ed Miliband defines “zero hours contracts” as those who don’t provide guaranteed hours – whether exclusive or not. The council may well argue that many of those on the zero hours contracts are well paid and welcome the flexibility. Fair enough. But that is not the position the Labour Party takes in their campaigning. They can point out that plenty of other Labour councils are at it – but that is hardly the most inspiring defence.

The Labour candidate for Hammersmith uses them. Now we find out that the Labour councillors campaigning for him are taking to the doorstep with an anti zero hours contract message. Then they preside at meetings in Hammersmith Town Hall and decide to apply such arrangements for their own workforce.

Labour’s message is that other employers should be ashamed of using zero hours contracts but when Labour is the employers then it’s fine and dandy. The hypocrisy is staggering.



What should be done about this redundant building on Shepherd’s Bush Green?

shepherdsbushgreenApparently this redundant building in Shepherd’s Bush Green used to be an electricity sub station. It could be attractive but at present is an eyesore.

I recently asked about it’s future.

Ian Ross, the Council’s Parks Manager replied:

“This building has been subject to much discussion recently along with its potential viability as a commercial premises.  Following said discussion, and having considered the findings of a previous public inquiry, we do not think that this building is viable as a commercial premises.  Reviewing the Planning Inspector’s findings it is unlikely a commercial operation would receive planning permission.

On this basis Officers will shortly be consulting with Councillors for Addison and Shepherd’s Bush Green Wards with a view to seeking planning permission to demolish this building.  It is worth pointing out that any decision to demolish will require Secretary of State permission due to the sites Conservation Area status and public consultation will be undertaken as part of this process.”

I pressed a bit. Could we not at least attempt planning permission, could we not put it in the market place to test commercial viability?

He responded:

“The options for this building have been discussed a number of times now.  Feedback, based on informal discussions with Planning colleagues, is that planning permission would not be forthcoming for a cafe.   The Inspector at the Planning Inquiry deemed that a replacement building including toilets, was not appropriate.  There was significant opposition from shopkeepers in properties facing the green, and this level of opposition could be anticipated for any change of use of the existing building, the area’s common land status is an extra complication.  Additionally it would cost any new occupier a large sum to put the building in working order, and this would mean the Council would not obtain rental income for several years.

While it always disappointing to lose a building that has a potential use our options are very limited here and given this building is detracting from the overall appearance of Shepherds Bush Green the practical approach is to move forward with seeking permission to demolish.  This, as outlined in my previous email, will be subject to public consultation due to the area’s conservation area and common land status.”

Local residents I have spoken to feel if it is to be demolished the site should be grassed over and not made into hard-standing of which there is far too much on the Green anyway.

What are the alternatives? Could it be a newsagents if a cafe would not be permitted? A shelter from the rain – or would that become a haven for tramps? A pump station for push bikes?

The present situation is unsatisfactory. It should not be demolished until there has been a genuine effort to find a viable alternative use – which clearly has not yet taken place.

If it was restored this would be an attractive building in a prominent location.

Please let me know your ideas.

Fly-tipping on the Gibbs Green Estate

Labour claim to be “on the side” of council tenants. But since they took over last year they have allowed standards on the estates to slide. These examples of fly-tipping on the Gibbs Green estate are all too typical.

I have demanded that they be cleared away and that tougher action is taken. But housing officers have got the message from Labour that dealing with this is “not a priority”.


The silence of Andy Burnham

The Hammersmith Labour Party are fighting the General Election campaign with a promise to “save” Charing Cross Hospital. The claim that the hospital – or it’s A&E – face closure is dishonest. But leave aside, for one moment, that way of characterising the NHS proposals. Would a Labour Government block the changes?

I have asked the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham:

 Thus far there has been no reply. Of course he will be busy but he has has sent various other “tweets” in the interim. He might also decide to ignore me given that I am a political opponent. But his own Labour colleagues might also be interest in his clarification.

Not least Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, who made just such a plea in the left wing weekly Tribune.

I believe the NHS proposals would mean an improvement for Charing Cross Hospital and that they would save lives. Some will agree, others have made very clear they disagree. But before Thursday next week shouldn’t we be told whether or not a Labour Government would allow those changes to proceed?

Squalor of the Goldhawk Road by Stamford Brook tube station

stamfordpidgResidents are getting ever more frustrated by the failure of the council and Transport for London to deal with the squalor along Goldhawk Road under the Stamford Brook London Underground Rail Bridge.

The area is a disgrace to our borough and a daily source of unpleasantness to those walking past it. Improved pigeon proofing works from TfL have been promised but have not materialised. The Council fails to carry out jet washing of the pavement to clear away the pigeon fouling.

Recycling bins in this prominent location attract constant fly tipping which the Council is slow to remove.

I will continue to press for the Council and TfL to take action.



Andrew Slaughter and the Hamas connection

The election campaign in Hammersmith is naturally dominated by local and national issues. But it is important for voters to be aware of some alarmingly extreme views of Andrew Slaughter who is seeking re-election as the Labour MP. I have already written about his bizarre praise for the regimes in Cuba and in Venezuela.

But it is his dealing with Hamas that has caused most dismay – including within his own Party. Although he has the odd ally.

The blog Harry’s Place recently included this report:

Andy Slaughter is one of Labour’s worst helpers of extremists.

So this news from the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) is no surprise:

The Palestinian Forum in Britain invite to attend the social monthly meeting scheduled for Saturday evening, the 4th of April 2015.

The social gathering will host Labour MP and candidate for the Party Andy Slaughter who will speak about his political platform and the role of Palestinian and Arab communities in the British elections.

PFB invite you to attend this important gathering to support those who always condone the Palestinian rights.

Your attendance is in support of the Palestinian rights and and those who work for Palestinian rights.

The Palestinian Forum in Britain

The PFB is part of the Hamas UK network.

One way you can see this is by looking at the speakers it invites to its events.

Andy-Slaughter-marching-against-Israel-with-Hafiz-al-Karmi-300x202They include no fewer than four foreigners who I understand have been excluded from the UK: Wagdi Ghoneim, Ahmad Nofal, Raed Salah, and Muhammad Musa al-Shareef. This may be an exclusion record for a single Islamist outfit.

In those speakers’ works one finds support for terrorism, including attacks on British troops on duty overseas; vicious antisemitism; calls for apostates from Islam to be killed; cruel misogyny; and more of the known horrors of Islamist extremism.

Mr Slaughter is happily courting the west London hate vote, as is his wont.

Andy Slaughter marching against Israel with Hafiz al-Karmi (to Slaughter’s right) of the PFB last summer.

The award winning blog has also chronicled Mr Slaughter’s dubious conduct in this matter previously.

Some may regard all this as irrelevant. But the extremist threat also exists closer to home. The Sunday Telegraph reported this morning on an al-Qaeda cleric suspected of radicalising “Jihadi John”.

It added:

Security services are understood to be investigating links between Hani al-Sibai and his influence on the west London terror network in which Jihadi John – unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi – operated.

It is claimed that al-Sibai, a charismatic preacher, had “captivated” a number of young Muslim men who subsequently went abroad to fight jihad.

In a court case last year, he was accused of having “provided material support to al-Qaeda and conspired to commit terrorist acts”, an allegation he denies.

Despite being officially identified as an affiliate of the notorious terror network, al-Sibai, citing his human rights, has thwarted government attempts to deport him for more than 15 years….

Bari’s son Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 25, a one-time rap musician in west London, subsequently travelled to Syria and is thought to be part of Jihadi John’s network inside Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The rent on father-of-five al-Sibai’s home in Hammersmith – owned by a housing association and worth as much as £1 million – is understood to be paid by the taxpayer.

The public purse has also paid for a number of legal actions brought by al-Sibai against the British government in his battle to prevent his deportation to Egypt and also attempts to have his name removed from terror sanctions lists.

From his home, al-Sibai, also known as Hani Youssef, runs an effective al-Qaeda propaganda machine, that includes the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies. In recent months he has used various internet sites to praise bin Laden and glorify al-Qaeda for waging war against “the Crusader-Zionists”.

He has been described as a “long-time ally” of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over control of al-Qaeda following bin Laden’s death.

His alleged links to al-Qaeda have led to his bank accounts and assets being subjected to freezing orders by the United Nations, the UK Treasury and US Treasury.

Last year, in a publicly funded court case, al-Sibai went to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to try to get his status as an al-Qaeda affiliate overturned and allow him access to bank accounts and other financial assets….
Al-Sibai, who trained as a lawyer, denies the links to al-Qaeda although he refused to comment when approached by The Telegraph.

When al-Sibai first claimed asylum in the UK in 1994, he told officials he had been tortured in Egypt because he had acted as a lawyer for Islamist groups and was linked to the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.

He was refused asylum on national security grounds, and was jailed in 1998 pending deportation. However, human rights laws make it impossible for suspects to be returned to countries where they might be tortured or killed, and Britain was unable to obtain from Egypt the necessary assurances as to al-Sibai’s welfare.

Al-Sibai described the 7/7 attacks in London as a ‘great victory’ for al-Qaeda

He has since been given temporary leave to remain in the UK despite being added to the UN al-Qaeda sanctions list in 2005.

Last week, residents nearby described al-Sibai as an “elusive character” who would slip in and out of his house via the back door through an alleyway at the rear of his home.

The front windows are covered in bed sheets and blankets to prevent prying eyes. He has refused to deny links to Emwazi, who was born in Kuwait but grew up in west London and was part of a terror network that was centred on an area close to where al-Sibai lives.

Emwazi, 26, fled from Britain despite being on a terror watchlist and joined jihadists fighting in Syria. He is responsible for the murder of a number of Western hostages, including two Britons, whom he beheaded in videos posted on the internet as part of the Isil’s propaganda.

Throughout his time in the UK, al-Sibai has provoked outrage with a series of extremist comments, including describing the July 7 attacks on London as a “great victory” for al-Qaeda….

Greg Hands, a Conservative minister who raised concern over al-Sibai around nine years ago, said: “It is amazing that someone with these views is still being of influence today. This highlights again the need to repeal the Human Rights Act.”

The Government has achieved a great deal but the Lib Dems have blocked repeal of the Human Rights Act. It is among the reasons that a majority Conservative Government is so vital.