Zac Goldsmith: What the Autumn Statement means for London

zacgoldtwoA message from Zac Goldsmith

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is good news for London, but it also shows why it is critical that London elects a Mayor who can work with Government to deliver for all Londoners.

Because London controls just 7% of the money it generates, the most important qualification for any Mayor is the ability to secure the best possible deal for London – as the Autumn Statement shows:

For, weeks I have been making the case to the Chancellor for more support for Londoners who want to get on the housing ladder – and yesterday he confirmed a new London Help to Buy scheme.

I have also been seeking protection for police funding so we can keep London’s streets safe – and the Chancellor announced there will be no cuts to the Met budget.

The Chancellor also announced that vital Tube upgrades and road improvement plans – so important for hardworking commuters – will be protected.

As an MP I have always campaigned loudly on issues that matter to my constituents. But I haven’t just shouted on the sidelines – I stayed at the negotiating table until the deal was done.

That’s what I have been doing since I became the Conservative candidate for Mayor, and that is what I’ll do if I am elected next May.

This deal is a vital first step in my plan to start fixing the housing crisis, make transport more reliable and keep our streets safe. But we can’t take this progress for granted.

London needs a Mayor who can work with Government and who is interested in delivering for Londoners, rather than pleasing the unions and vested interests.

Please join my campaign today so that we can build on this progress and deliver a London that works for all Londoners.

Best wishes,

Zac Goldsmith
Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London

Facebook.com/ZacGoldsmith

Tampon Tax proceeds to go to breast cancer charity based in Fulham Broadway

Among the Spending Review announcements of welcome local interest was the following:

“While the government makes the case in the EU for a zero rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) for sanitary products, a new £15 million annual fund equivalent to the VAT raised each year on sanitary products will support women’s charities. The government will make an initial donation totalling £5 million to support The Eve Appeal, SafeLives, Women’s Aid and The Haven. Further donations and recipients will be announced at Budget 2016. The fund will run over the course of this Parliament, or until the UK can apply a zero rate.”

The Haven’s London headquarters are in Effie Road near Fulham Broadway.

Former council leader Cllr Nick Botterill welcomed the news:

 

Blythe House to be sold

blythehouseThe Government’s Autumn Statement included the following:

“The government will also provide £150 million funding support to the British Museum, Science Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum to replace out-of-date museum storage, including at Blythe House, with new world-class facilities to preserve and protect over 2 million fragile and sensitive objects. Blythe House will be sold in due course.”

Blythe House is a listed building at 23 Blythe Road near Brook Green. Built between 1899 to 1903 it was the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank. Theer used to be sepearte headquarters for male and female staff.

Quite absurd for such a splendid well located building to be used for storage.

I suppose it will be redeveloped for much needed new housing.

By spooky coincidence the mysterious “homeowner6” was demanding the sale of Blythe House in a Tweet on Monday.

Labour reject plea to restore drinking fountain

drinkingfountainA disappointing decision from Cllr Vivienne Lukey, the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care on Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

She has rejected a request for the Victorian drinking fountain outside Palingswick House in King Street to be restored to operational use.

The proposal was prompted by a report in The Times in August which said:

“The Victorians left Britain with many great legacies, from the railways to modern Christmas, but one of their greatest public health innovations has been left to fall into ruin.

“About half of Britain’s water fountains no longer work, according to the latest estimates and campaigners are attempting to revive them as a way of dealing with the environmental blight of plastic water bottles.

“They are aiming to restore the former glory of the fountains that adorned the streets with classical statues of red Aberdeen granite and sculptures of Sicilian marble — artworks in their own right. Then, they intend to drag the bottle-loving masses to free water and suggest, ever so politely, that they drink.

“It is hoped that offering water, literally on tap, will discourage us from splashing out on bottles and help to rid streets of the scourge of discarded plastic.

Ralph Baber, secretary of the Drinking Fountain Association, said:

“It is a great shame. Not only are these fountains useful but many of them are beautiful as well. Most have grand structures and ornate sculptures. The architecture is fantastic; some are like churches. In Victorian times it was cheaper to get a glass of gin than a glass of clean drinking water.”

“Research suggests that drinking a bottle of mineral water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for 1km (0.62 miles). It takes seven litres of water and almost a quarter litre of oil to manufacture a single litre of the bottled variety, according to the University of Nottingham.”

Guy Jeremiah, a founder of the find-a-fountain scheme said:

Fountains have been allowed to fall into disrepair, with councils effectively outsourcing the provision of water to bottled water companies.

“Meanwhile local authorities have inexplicably accepted the responsibility to clear up the mess by meeting the staggering cost of land-filling most of the four billion plastic bottles we discard each year.”

 “The production and transportation of bottled water emits more than three million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That’s the same weight as 400,000 London buses. Water fountains are a great way of cutting down the amount of bottled water we drink.”

All strong arguments. But there is also a public health aspect. The West London Free School has recently moved to Palingswick House and it would surely be healthier for their pupils – and those of Latymer Upper next door – to drink water rather than buying fizzy drinks from newsagents.

At first it all sounded encouraging.

Liz Bruce, the Council’s Executive Director for Health and Adult and Social Care told me:

“Water fountains are a key part of obesity programme as well as promoting health and wellbeing, supporting walking and citizens getting active.”

Mahmood Siddiqi, the Council’s Director for Transport and Highway, told me:

“We were recently asked a similar question in RB Kensington & Chelsea where it was estimated that the cost of connecting a water supply and drainage connection and repairing the pipework, would be in the order of £7,000. After this, there would be the ongoing cost of the metered water supply and periodic checks for contamination and cleansing.”

Cllr Lukey dithered for months and then rejected drinking fountain

Cllr Lukey dithered for months and then rejected drinking fountain

The Council’s Public Health spending is a huge £22.7 million a year.

I have written on Conservative Home of my concern that this money is largely wasted. My modest proposal was that 0.03 per cent of that budget should be spent on something of practical value.

But after three months of dithering Cllr Lukey has rejected the idea.

Stuart Lines, the Deputy Director for Public Health emails to say:

“I write to advise you that this is not considered to be appropriate use of the budget as there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of this approach.”

Cllr Andrew Brown assures me that a very different approach will be taken regarding drinking fountains after the Conservatives regain the Council in May 2018.

But let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long to get this one working.

Toby Young hope that the West London Free School Foundation Trust may be able to raise the money. Please give generously!

Minutes from meeting to discuss Olympia traffic problems

ffiskeCllr Caroline ffiske reports:

OLYMPIA ENGAGEMENT MEETING – ACTION POINTS

THURSDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 2015

  1. Attendance

Ann Ramage Head of Environmental Health Commercial

Karen Ashdown Environmental Health Officer

Graham Souster Environmental Health Officer

Tony Pegrum Network Manager

Chris Bainbridge Head of Transport Policy and Network Management

Gillian Kiamil Venue Director

Stuart Tomlinson Olympia Assistant Director – Operations

Cllr Joe Carlebach

  1. Apologies

Councillor Wesley Harcourt

Mahmood Siddiqi Director of Transport and Highways

  1. Follow-up Actions

Actions

Person Leading

Notes/Actions

Produce a list of Council contacts for each topic area for Olympia

Ann Ramage

Explore the possibility of funding a dedicated Police officer(s) to provide traffic enforcement

Olympia and

Dave Page

Additional Sunday Parking Enforcement

Olympia to provide some identified dates when high footage is expected to Chris Bainbridge

David Taylor to approve some additional deployment whilst TMO is in force

To discuss MPS role in traffic enforcement with Deputy Mayor for Policing

Cllr Carlebach

Explore options to alleviate traffic pinch point at Olympia Way/Hammersmith Road junction

Chris Bainbridge

Explore options to alleviate pinch point at Gate L

Olympia to review the use of Gate L.

Explore options to alleviate pinch point at Gate L including possible relocation of parking bays

Chris Bainbridge to review parking provision

Promote the transport needs of Olympia visitors and local residents to TfL

Ann Ramage/Gillian Kiamil to review the existing arrangements with Marc Dickson and Stephen Priestley at TFL re the District Line provision

Bus Lanes and Traffic sequencing on Hammersmith Road

Chris Bainbridge to contact TfL to see if they are willing to participate in a review of the Bus Lanes traffic light timings and waiting /loading restrictions

Current TMO Review

Christiaan Uys leading on notification of TMO for 2016

Continue to refine TMO implementation times

Olympia

Explore with TfL the use of VMS signs, on Hammersmith Road and further afield

Olympia, Chris Bainbridge and Tony Pegrum

Explore layout options for Olympia Way

Olympia

Public Consultation on Zones B and E Parking restrictions

Chris Bainbridge and Edward Stubbings

In progress with a report scheduled to go Council in February 2016

Increase street cleaning at peak times and/or bin provision

Olympia

Kathy May

Ann Ramage to update Waste Management colleagues

Hammersmith Road CCTV –

  • temporary installation
  • permanent installation

Graham Souster

Ongoing dialogue with Andrew Stocker, Olympia, David Page and Tony Pegrum

Review pavement drop kerb design arrangement by Gate F on Hammersmith Road

Tony Pegrum

Zebra crossing’ signage and safety on Network Rail land

TP – As discussed at the meeting we have had a look at this and consider that signage and markings are more than adequate. There are three very visible signs.

Ongoing Monitoring by Environmental Health of Olympia systems of work

Karen Ashdown/Graham Souster

In progress and ongoing until New Year

Many council leaseholders could become freeholders

Often council leaseholders write to me about the bewildering and excessive charges imposed on them by Hammersmith and Fulham Council. It is a matter I am doing my best to pursue.

There are some Council leaseholders, however, who are lucky enough to have the means of their own salvation. Where the leaseholders own at least two thirds of the block they have a chance to buy the freehold.

Often this situation applies to smaller council blocks – perhaps those where there are a dozen flats or fewer. Sometimes they might be street properties – perhaps a Victorian terraced house that bought up by the Council in the 1970s and was converted into three or four flats.

When leaseholders buy the freehold it is helpful for the Council who – believe it or not – find the management of these small properties so problematic that their costs exceed their revenue from the leaseholder charges which are considered so exorbitant.

But it is also a good deal for leaseholders. The owner of each flat might have to pay two or three thousand pounds to buy their share of freehold. It would usually be a modest some of that scale as most of the leases are for over 90 years. Owning the freehold would add perhaps ten per cent to the value of their property – say £30,000 or £40,000 for a typical flat.

Furthermore their annual costs will be much lower. They will be able to take responsibility for the repairs and invariably be able to get the work done better and cheaper and not have scaffolding up for months on end.

Freeholders have greater freedom.

Toby Graves, the Council’s Head of Housing Advice & Assessment, has offered me this helpful briefing:

There are two options to buying the Freehold (Freehold Enfranchisement and Collective Enfranchisement) .

Freehold Enfranchisement.

This requires:

All flats in the block must be sold on long leases
Building must comprise only flats and common parts
All leaseholders must jointly apply to buy the freehold
There must be at least two separate leaseholders and a leaseholder can not hold more than two flats in the block
Flats can not be on multi-purpose block estates
The property must not be affected by any council development proposal

For an application form and more information, please see the Home Buy page on the Council’s website using the following link: http://www.lbhf.gov.uk/Directory/Housing/Home_ownership/Home_Buy_products/167806_Freehold_Enfranchisement.asp

Collective Enfranchisement

To qualify for this:

There must be a minimum of two flats
At least two thirds are leaseholders with a long lease term in excess of 21 years.

If the criteria is met and where there are social tenants in the building, it is still possible to progress with the sale. However the social tenant becomes the tenant of the new enfranchisement company. Any terms agreed will include a lease back of the tenanted property to the Council for a term of 999 years.

Further information on this process and details of  how to submit an application to the Council can be found on the Lease Hold Advisory Service, using the following link and contact telephone number:

http://www.lease-advice.org/publications/documents/document.asp?item=11#2

020 7832 2500

Let’s declutter the streets of Hammersmith and Fulham

lillieroadI recently asked the Council for a progress report on “decluttering” the streets in the borough. This is an important objective to make life easier and more pleasant for pedestrians.

So far, in this financial year, we have removed 38 posts, 24 guard rails and three bollards. In the rest of the financial year we are due to remove 14 posts, 29 guard rails and 69 bollards.

That is welcome. But it is far too little.

Hammersmith and Fulham has 150 miles of road and 310 miles of pavement. In that context removing 174 bits of clutter is very modest.

The Mayor of London has removed 20 miles of guard rail. Often cyclists have been crushed by cars against guard rails.

Kensington and Chelsea Council has made great progress at decluttering – in Exhibition Road and Kensington High Street. Safety has improved as well as the appearance of the streets as personal responsibility has proved more effective than nannying.

If you know of a redundant bit of street clutter your would like removed please email me the details (including if possible a photograph) to harry.phibbs@gmail.com and I will see what can be done about it.