Will H&F Council take action to promote electric cars?

In November I wrote about the failure of Hammersmith and Fulham Council to take action on reducing air pollution – which kills 72 residents of the Borough a year. I suggested that one way of doing this would be to following the example of Westminster Council and provide free parking permits for electric cars.

I emailed the Council as follows to chase them up:

“I understand that we charge a £60 annual parking permit for electric cars while Westminster Council charge nothing. Please advise if there are any plans to provide free annual parking permit for electric cars as an incentive to encourage them. Also I understand that at present electric cars are charged the full £1.80 an hour Smart Visitor Permit. Are there any plans to reduce or abolish this charge for electric cars?”

This morning came the following reply:

“Dear Councillor Phibbs,

A cabinet report recommending a change to the existing parking permit structure is currently being reviewed by cabinet members. At present this report has been to political cabinet and is due before Cabinet later this year.

We are currently in the process of upgrading our existing pay & display technology. This upgrade will give us a larger range of options in terms of pricing and vehicle classification. We are currently exploring options for pay & display policies that include different pricing based on emission.

Kind regards

Edward Stubbing

Transport Planner

Transport and Highways

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham”

So that is mildly encouraging but does lack a sense of urgency given the significant number of deaths involved. Surely the technical difficulties of giving a free parking permit to those with electric cars can’t be that challenging?

I have also asked put in the following query regarding bus lanes:

“Please advise if there would be any technical of legal reasons that would prevent us from allowing electric cars to be driven in bus lanes on our roads. If not please advise if we could allow this and thus provide an incentive for motorists to switch to electric cars and thus help reduce air pollution.”

Action on all these points would amount to a tangible incentive for motorists to switch vehicles and thus save lives. Let’s hope the Council gets a move on.

Hold a street party to celebrate The Queen’s 90th birthday

Queen_Elizabeth_II_March_2015On the 12th June 2016, the Queen will celebrate her 90th Birthday. The Government have published guidance on holding a street party.

It is much easier than some imagine. There is no fee, no licence, no insurance. You do not need to carry out a risk assessment, or an alcohol licence,
or a food permit, or a music licence.

You just need to notify Hammersmith and Fulham Council by filling in this online form. Also you will need to get some barriers to close off the road. (Previously I hired some from a firm called Sun Traffic Signals Ltd but I think others just taped off the road and made their own signs.)

You need to confirm that you have knocked on the door of everyone in the street (including any shop keepers) and found general agreement. Also to clean up afterwards.

In 2011 my street was one of around 6,000 in the country that held a party for the Royal Wedding.

I blogged at the time:

“The planning discussions have taken on a soap opera feel – despite our urban environment it has reminded me of a script from The Archers. Who will be in charge of the bunting? Who will be in charge of the tables and chairs? What children’s games should we have? Should everyone just provide food and drink on a random basis or should there be an allocation of different households to prepare a specific dish? What should we do if it rains? When should we start and finish? What should be done about music?

DSC_0554“In amongst all this we have got to know each other. There has been laughter and argument. Those with children have identified others with children in the same age group – perhaps just a few doors along but something hitherto not identified.

“Gardeners have started sharing lawn mowers and swapping seeds. Phone number of plumbers have been exchanged. A Neighbourhood Watch scheme established. In other words our street has become a community and the party hasn’t even happened yet.”

Of course it is all a long way off and might seem a strange topic to contemplate in the cold weather. But taking some initial soundings from neighbours to check who would be interested would do no harm at all.

Cllr Joe Carlebach: My role as Hammersmith and Fulham Vulnerable Peoples Champion

joecarCllr Joe Carlebach represents Avonmore and Brook Green Ward

I was very pleased to be offered and accept the new role of Vulnerable Peoples Champion in Hammersmith and Fulham.As many who know me appreciate that this is an area that has been an interest (some would argue a passion) of mine for many years.

This role covers a number of key areas and is designed to positively influence the care and treatment of vulnerable adults and children in our Borough.It encompasses Housing, Adult Social Care and Children’s Services. The remit of the role will also cover Policing and Health Care both in primary and secondary care settings.

I intend that the role will be a combination of identifying general issues where vulnerable people and their treatment falls short of best practice as well as the pursing of a number of individual cases from across the borough where vulnerable people have been particularly let down by the state (local and national). I intend to do my best to do this in partnership with others as such ‘wrongs’ are often done as the result of genuine mistakes and misunderstandings. Where this is not the case I will make it clear in my advocacy for the individual(s) effected.

It is my intention that this role will help vulnerable people improve their day to day living ensuring equal treatment and respect by the state and its representatives for all irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation or disability. I believe this will help facilitate the core Conservative principles of the fare treatment, aspiration and social mobility for all.

This role has been established by the Conservative Group and is effective from the start of this year. Where appropriate in this role I will co-ordinate with all Councillors and LBHF Officers, colleagues in the Tri Borough structure, the NHS in West London and the Metropolitan Police.

On a personal note I would like to dedicate my time in this role to my Grandparents who embodied the precious values of compassion, understanding and empathy for all people no matter who or what they may be. A set of values they lived by and which ultimately lead to their tragic and violent death at the hands of Hitler and his fascists.

Labour in H&F break their election pledge on Council Tax

earlypledgesDuring the eight years when the Conservatives were running Hammersmith and Fulham Council the Council Tax was cut by 20 per cent. The Labour Group Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan would stand up each year in the Town Hall and say that it wasn’t enough and that as Council leader he would cut the Council Tax at a faster rate.

“We want to put more money back into people’s pockets,” he promised. “We will cut Council Tax.”

Labour said that cutting Council Tax was an “early pledge”.

The good news is that our Council Tax bills will fall this year that is purely due to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson cutting his precept. Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council will not cut their share of the bill.

The Council has issued a press release saying we should be grateful for the freeze as the Government had “suggested” the Council should increase Council Tax. That is untrue. The threshold before a referendum would have been required was a four per cent rise. But allowing something to happen is different to wishing it to happen. If Council Tax had been cut that is something Ministers would have welcomed.

The press release is yet another example of the Council using resources to promote a message that is not only partisan but dishonest – and thus breaks the Local Government Publicity Code. It is also an ineffective form of propaganda as nobody will believe that the Conservative Government would have been displeased by a reduction in Council Tax in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Labour’s others pledges are also in tatters. The “early pledge” on Charing Cross Hospital was doubly dishonest as the hospital was never going to close – nor was its A&E. But also the Council does not have the power to “block” the changes however they choose to characterise them. They are the responsibility of the NHS.

The pledge about stopping overseas investors from buying property in the borough couldn’t be implemented as it is against EU law.

Meanwhile Labour’s supposed support for police has little credibility after a leading Labour councillor attacked the police for stopping people stealing petrol. Not to mention having a Party leader who is an apologist for terrorism.

Finally their pledge to “put residents first not property speculators” has been ditched to support more unwanted tower blocks.

Anyone who voted Labour because they believed any of the “early pledges” put forward is entitled to feel betrayed.

 

Cllr Joe Carlebach: The Passing of a great British Icon – David Bowie 8th January 1947 – 10th January 2016

joecarA guest post from Cllr Joe Carlebach

It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of one of my music ‘heroes’ David Bowie this morning.

His story represents much of what I admire about the opportunity this country offers, having started from very humble origins, born into an ordinary family in Brixton on the 8th January 1947. Out of those post war, grim ration dominated days he emerged as one of the greatest song writers and performers of his generation. He demonstrated a mastery of styles, a vivid imagination and a gift for originality that I doubt we will see again for many years if ever.

There were so many career high points that it is almost impossible to detail them here but along side the many pop and rock hits Bowie also adapted and performed ‘Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth’ with Bing Crosby which was recorded in September 1977. As it turned out this was just under one month from Crosby’s untimely death. This song has become a Christmas classic and is testament to his performance and style versatility.

His music was and still is an inspiration to millions across all the ‘alter egos’ he created. I have no doubt that later today in the International Space Station the strains of Major Tom will be heard ‘far above the earth’ very apt as this was his first hit in July 1969.

Bowie had a significant local connection as he played his now legendary Ziggy Stardust farewell concert at the Hammersmith Odeon which many regard as the finest performance of his career. I am sure there are local residents out there who attended that night and will remember it as a classic moment in the history of British popular culture.

For those of us who grew up through the 1960’s and 70’s his music will always be associated with personal milestones of success, torment, sadness and joy. Many will mourn his passing but he has left his music to us as his gift and inspiration, for now and for future generations.

Latymer Upper headmaster responds to Labour’s attack on independent schools

There are a thousand independent school in this country with charitable status. They make a fantastic contribution in providing public benefit as they are legally required to do. But they have some flexibility as to how they do so. Labour have proposed meddling state interference as to how they fufill their charitable obligations.

The Daily Telegraph this morning reports:

David Goodhew, the headmaster of Latymer Upper School in London which has partnerships with 28 primary schools and 12 secondary schools, said: “We believe that mutually designed and meaningful links at a local level have the power to bring the greatest benefit to all our young people, rather than a nationally prescribed, ‘one size fits all’, box-ticking exercise.”

Latymer Upper has nearly a hundred pupils on scholarships. Over the years many children who have managed to pass the (very tough) entrance exam have had a free education there if their parents are on low incomes. Mel Smith was a scholarship boy there and raised a lot of money for others to have the same opportunity. The school should be left to get on with it.

Given the direction Labour is heading I suspect their proposal is just the start. Their 1983 manifesto – which Jeremy Corbyn regards as a splendid document – demanded the abolition of independent schools. It declared a Labour Government would “phase out fee charging; and integrate private schools within the local authority sector where necessary.”

H&F Conservative councillors back a Crossrail 2 interchange at Imperial Wharf

LocationAll Conservative councillors on Hammersmith and Fulham Council have expressed their support for a Crossrail 2 interchange at Imperial Wharf. We pushed hard for this when we ran the Council. Curiously, the current Labour Administration has said nothing. We can only hope that this changes by Friday, as the whole borough would benefit hugely from this new transport link.

Anyone can still respond to the consultation by clicking this link and writing “I want Crossrail 2 to stop at Imperial Wharf instead”, adding any reasons they wish. TfL will count the response provided people click “Save” and then complete the main questions in the “About you” section. The deadline is midnight this Friday, 8 January 2015.

Here is the full text of the letter to Michèle Dix CBE, TfL’s Managing Director for Planning:

Dear Ms Dix,

Response to the Crossrail 2 consultation

As the Conservative Councillors for the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, we are writing in support of a Crossrail 2 interchange at Imperial Wharf.

Last month, the TfL Commissioner, Mike Brown, assured Greg Hands MP that Imperial Wharf is “being seriously considered” as an alternative station site. This new approach is encouraging. We believe that Imperial Wharf would serve more commuters, support more new jobs and homes, offer better value and – perhaps as importantly – gain support across our borough and west Chelsea.

Imperial Wharf has significant advantages over the current plans for a station at the eastern end of the King’s Road:

Interchange – Imperial Wharf would form the main Crossrail 2 interchange with the West London Line, reducing journey times for passengers. Without a separate interchange, Clapham Junction is likely to face severe station capacity problems, because it will also handle new demand from dozens of mainline routes. The interchange would also remove pressure on Overground services at the existing Imperial Wharf station, while relieving pressure on the District Line at West Brompton, Fulham Broadway and Parson’s Green.

Passengers – based on its current catchment area alone, more commuters would use a Crossrail 2 station at Imperial Wharf. This number rises when new development is anticipated. It rises again when new bus routes in south Fulham are considered, as there would be substantial demand for improved links under Crossrail. When passengers transferring from the Overground are added, the commuter case for Imperial Wharf becomes overwhelming.

Alignment – a natural alignment from Imperial Wharf (through Clapham Junction) to Balham would not involve tight curves. Changing the orientation of the track through Clapham Junction would therefore result in faster journeys, an equivalent track length and lower maintenance costs than under the current plans. We also welcome TfL’s acknowledgement that the foundations of the riverfront buildings are navigable. There is no engineering barrier to a Crossrail 2 station at Imperial Wharf.

Cost – land values around Imperial Wharf are cheaper, with the ability to redevelop a brownfield site to offset the cost of the station. The Lots Road Car Pound site would allow a significant capital receipt from new housing, as well as a station entrance in Chelsea. There is also the possibility of s.106 contributions from neighbouring sites that are due for redevelopment. Together, these factors suggest a significantly lower cost for an Imperial Wharf interchange than building a King’s Road station with no associated redevelopment.

Olympia – District Line services to Olympia have been a recurrent issue for residents, for the exhibition halls, and for solving the bottleneck at Earls Court. A Crossrail 2 interchange just two Overground stops away at Imperial Wharf would finally provide a solution, particularly when combined with more frequent Overground services. Likewise, Imperial Wharf would provide a real alternative for many more passengers at West Brompton, which faces growing pressure from new development.

Regeneration – a key aim of the Crossrail 2 project is to unlock more jobs and homes, assisting in London’s regeneration. There are several major redevelopment sites around Imperial Wharf, all of which are poorly served in terms of public transport links to central London. This has hampered their progress. A Crossrail 2 interchange would spur substantial investment and create new employment around the station. By contrast, no significant development sites in Chelsea would be unlocked through the current plans.

Support – unlike the plans for a King’s Road station, there is unequivocal local support for bringing Crossrail 2 to Imperial Wharf. It would benefit thousands of commuters in Fulham, both directly and by reliving pressure on the District Line. It would still benefit thousands of commuters in Chelsea, with greater benefits for the poorly connected areas around World’s End and Lots Road. It would also offer benefits along the rest of the West London Line. Local residents consistently tell us that they want Crossrail 2 to serve our area.

An Imperial Wharf interchange is compatible with the original conception of a Chelsea-to-Hackney line, which for many years included safeguarded land in Fulham. It would allow a station entrance in Chelsea, on Lots Road, and others serving Chelsea Creek, Chelsea Harbour and Imperial Wharf. At the same time, it would enable Crossrail 2 to be cheaper, faster, serve more passengers and tackle overcrowding at multiple stations, while delivering the regeneration always intended.

Given these advantages, it was frustrating to see many inaccuracies and omissions in the report provided to Greg Hands MP in October. We hope that you will now commit to undertaking a proper technical study of the Imperial Wharf option, which will provide a credible basis for assessing passenger numbers, cost, regeneration potential, journey times, station alignments, tunnel routes, shaft locations, Overground usage and the impact on other stations and lines.

In administration, we urged the case for an Imperial Wharf interchange during TfL’s consultation process in 2013. Given the new Commissioner’s openness to rethinking the plans, we strongly urge the case again. It is a far better option than the King’s Road.

We would welcome an opportunity to meet in person to discuss an Imperial Wharf station on behalf of our residents.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Greg Smith
Leader of the Opposition

Councillor Steve Hamilton
Councillor Robert Largan
Councillor Jane Law
Sands End Councillors (for Imperial Wharf)

Councillor Michael Adam
Councillor Adronie Alford
Councillor Nick Botterill
Councillor Andrew Brown
Councillor Joe Carlebach
Councillor Charlie Dewhirst
Councillor Belinda Donovan
Councillor Caroline ffiske
Councillor Marcus Ginn
Councillor Lucy Ivimy
Councillor Donald Johnson
Councillor Alex Karmel
Councillor Mark Loveday
Councillor Viya Nsumbu
Councillor Harry Phibbs
Councillor Frances Stainton

Schneider speaks to H&F Momentum

momentumbannerLast month I reported on Marxist infiltration of the Labour Party in Hammersmith and Fulham via the group Momentum.

They are holding a gathering tomorrow evening at Askew Road Methodist Church (of all places). On the agenda:

“Establishing the purpose and direction of Hammersmith and Fulham momentum.”

No prizes for guessing that deselections of (relatively) moderate Labour councillors will be on the work agenda.

I worry that the 16 of them that endorsed Tessa Jowell to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor will be labelled Blairites and thus targeted.

I happen to think the Blairite label is unfair (or overly generous depending on your point of view). Cllr Sue Macmillan tried to scupper the Fulham Boys School from opening. Tony Blair – and true Blairites such as Lord Adonis – support free schools. Also surely Cllr Stephen Cowan’s bizarre choice of Michael Mansfield QC to review the NHS in West London will help pacify his Corbynista tormentors? Cllr Lisa Homan can plead for mercy by pointing to her opposition to the right to buy. A true Blairite would avoid attacking aspiration.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be addressed by James Schneider, the national leader of Momentum who is a Hammersmith resident. He voted for the Green Party at the General Election last May. So the Labour councillors will have to justify their reselection amidst pressure from someone who didn’t even vote Labour just eight months ago.

Schneider was a pupil at Winchester College, Corbyn’s spin doctor Seamus Milne also went there. John Betjeman regarded Old Wykehamists as a rather dubious bunch but they can hardly be blamed for where their parents sent them to school. However it does make it rather absurd for Momentum to keep attacking David Cameron and Boris Johnson for having been to Eton. The Corbynistas rhetoric of class hatred is not just unpleasant but hypocritical.