Taylor Bulbs brings spring colour to Hammersmith

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

The London-based Metropolitan Public Gardens Association runs an amazing scheme with Taylor Bulbs.  At the end of every autumn Taylor Bulbs has a problem over what to do with its un-sold linacre-court-2spring-flowering bulbs.  The MPGA has worked with them to solve this problem.  Every year, gardening groups across London are able to apply for a bulb allocation, and every year the MPGA works with Taylor bulbs to ship tens of thousands of bulbs to these groups.

linacre-courtThis year I know that Hammersmith has benefited from at least 4 applications and therefore at least 4000 new spring-flowering bulbs.  St Andrews Church in Barons Court successfully applied for an allocation.  The Friends of Marcus Garvey Park did as well.  I applied for 1000 bulbs to plant around Linacre Court in Avonmore.  And the gardening group based at St Andrews Church tell me that they also successfully applied for another batch, working with a sheltered housing group in Barons Court.  The batch I received included snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses, and allium.

Pictured are some of us planting around Linacre Court.

Happy Christmas!  Bring on Spring!




New affordable housing in H&F slashed under Labour

There have been plenty of broken pledges from Labour’s manifesto for the Council elections. There was the “early pledge” to block the planned changes to Charing Cross Hospital (which the Council doesn’t have the power to do). There was the pledge to cut Council Tax at a faster rate than the Conservatives.

Then there was the promise  for more affordable housing. “Those who need affordable homes to rent struggle to get anything suitable in the private or social housing sectors,” it said. The Conservative council has “refused” to provide “truly affordable homes for residents.” It went on to pledge that “Labour will change this” and “provide more new affordable homes for residents to buy or rent.”

So what are the facts?

The Council has given me these figures.

The total number of affordable housing units approved for year 2013/2014 under the Conservatives was 1,511.

The total number of affordable housing units approved in 2015/2016 under Labour was 165 units.

A complete failure both by comparison with the Conservatives and compared with the current performance of other London boroughs.

What a complete betrayal of those who put their faith in Labour last time.

Council refuses to allow residents a choice on killer humps

Road humps were brought in with the claim they would save lives. But instead they cost lives. Last week the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said “smooth” driving would cut air pollution, linked to 25,000 deaths a year in England.”

The NICE report follows an earlier one from Imperial College which “found that in one north London street with a speed limit of 20mph and fitted with road humps, a petrol driven car produced 64 per cent more Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) than in a similar 20mph street fitted with road cushions. It also produced 47 per cent more Particulate Matter  (PM) and nearly 60 per cent more Carbon Monoxide (CO2) emissions.”

Another report from the University of York said humps should be removed from outside schools and playgrounds.

Yet the Council refuses to even allow residents a choice about removing humps when roads are resurfaced.

Nick Boyle, the Council’s Chief Transport Planner tells me:

“We shall be reviewing the published NICE consultation guidelines in due course, with colleagues.

1. No humps have been installed or removed in the last two years.

2. No consultation to remove humps is currently undertaken during resurfacing.”

H&F Council spends £286,809 on “policy and strategy officers”

Labour have increased the number of “Policy and Strategy” officers employed by the Council to five. Their salaries add up to £286,809 a year.

Among them is Kevin Caulfied – he also runs the “Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against the Cuts”. He appears at the end of the film clip. Perhaps he might reflect that there would be more money for services – including to the disabled and other vulnerable borough residents – if there wasn’t this huge sum spent on salaries for Policy and Strategy officers like him.

So if you want to get a well paid job with the Council musing about policy and strategy all day then it would seem you best route in is to set up some agitprop group complaining about austerity.

Thames Water plans huge spending on a disruptive scheme that would not stop flooding

owenA guest post from Owen Biggs.

As I live in West Kensington. I am due to be deluged with the noise, pollution, dust, dirt and inconvenience should Thames Water start a £169+ million pound project to build a new sewer link. An inspection shaft located yards from my front door means more than two years of having lorries driving past my front door and at periods 24 x 7 drilling works.

I find it rather ironic that this summer when we had substantial amounts of rainfall in a relatively small period; I believe the figures were a month rain in three days, there were only two or three properties flooded in  Hammersmith and Fulham.

To fit a one way valve to protect these properties from flooding costs about £3,000 per household. In contrast the apparent lack of investment in a robust maintenance programme for Thames water has given us two cases of serious flooding in the last month. The latest reported in today’s papers being in Islington and the flooding of a number of businesses and million pound mansions. On the 26th November we had a similar incident where both residential and business properties were flooded and a bus fell into a sinkhole created by the burst water main on Islington High Street.

Time and again when challenged as to the need for the multi-million pound project that Thames water is about to embark on. Despite protests and resistance from the local council and many individual households immediately and obviously impacted by the proposed works. Thames Water refer to the flooding that hit the nation in 2007 and damaged hundreds of houses.This project, we are told is to safeguard against something like that happening again. Yet a closer look at the figures suggest that they do not support this approach.

To be clear. The flooding of 2007 was in the words on the Environment Agency Report “unprecedented’. To cite this as the driver for this new sewer design is to “over engineer” to some considerable degree. Let us review in a little more detail the figures surrounding the floods of summer 2007. Over 55,000 households nationwide were flooded that summer. This was due to an unprecedented level of rainfall in May and June of that year that had never  been experienced before, at least not since records began in 1766, more than 250 years earlier!

Of the 55,000 households flooded nationally only 1,300 of those were in Greater London. Details of the exact dispersion of these flooded properties is difficult to come by but I will persevere. Let us assume then that the area covered by Counters Creek proposal accounts for as much as 20% of those properties. Highly unlikely but it gives us a figure to work with.

The Ofwat report indicates that the cost of this proposal is unlikely to be less than £169 million and many expect this cost to rise. A simple division of costs then show that to address an issue that has happened only once in all recorded history by the Met Office and Environment Agency is to be levied on the customer at a minimum cost of a little under £646,154.00 per household affected. This is what I mean by cost benefit. Nor has it been determined that this additional sewer link would have the capacity to manage a a similar sustained downpour as that seen in the summer of 2007. Figures quoted are referenced from the Environment Agencies Review of the 2007 Floods.

Additional reference is made by Thames Water to an in-house survey that purports to show  1,700 properties in the borough having suffered from flooding in the last ten years though the assumptions made and conclusions reached on these figures are dubious at best. My house has been flooded twice in the last ten years. Once when the cold water header tank sprang a leak and once when a pipe burst. In neither instance would this very expensive project have averted or mitigated the damage done yet it is assumed that all 1,700 instances lend credence and support to the Counter Creek proposal.

Consider recent events in Islington and Lewisham, how would this have helped if such a scenario were to be played out in Hammersmith and Fulham? It would not!

I am currently trying to find additional information on this dataset from Thames Water as without a breakdown of causes, location, time frame etc. Little that is of worth can be drawn from these figures.

I earnestly hope that what I have been able to demonstrate here is that at present little hard evidence has been made available to support the Counters Creek proposal and it’s continuation unless facts based evidence is provided would be seen as no more than a raison d’etat.

Recent events suggest that Thames Water would be best advised to invest this money into reinforcing or reinvigorating a maintenance program that appears inadequate to the task of maintaining its current infrastructure in good and effective working order.

Council cover-up over its failing stock transfer proposals

Cllr Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing: She knows the results of the consultations we have paid for. Why won't she tell us what they are?

Cllr Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing: She knows the results of the consultations we have paid for. Why won’t she tell us what they are?

Labour are spending vast sums on “engagement” (ie propaganda) in support on their plans to abolish council housing in the borough. They want to transfer all the housing stock to a Community Gateway housing association. This year alone they are spending £778,000 form the General Fund and another £125,000 from the Housing Revenue Account.

Yet despite all this spending how much support do they have? Not much to judge by those I’ve spoken to. So why not just ditch the flawed scheme before any more money is wasted.

So I asked the Council for “any indications so far – from polling, focus groups, consultations, etc – as to the level of support among tenants and leaseholders for the proposal.”

Ayesha Ovaisi, the “Project Manager” replied that:

“The engagement activity over summer has proved to be very useful and was aimed at building awareness of the possible stock transfer.”

That didn’t really answer my question. So I tried again, this time with an FOI request:

“Please provide any information that has been collated from polling, focus groups, consultations regarding the views of tenants and leaseholders on the proposed council housing stock transfer.”

Here is the response:

Hammersmith and Fulham confirms that it does hold information covered by your request. It has become necessary to carry out a public interest test. This is where needs to balance the public interest in disclosing the information against the public interest in withholding it. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 obliges us to respond to requests promptly, and in any case no later than 20 working days after receiving your request. However, we now need further time in which to consider the public interest in disclosing the information. We estimate that it will take up to an additional 20 days to take a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies. Therefore, we will respond to you by 3 January 2017.

Yours sincerely

Graham Ostle

Senior Investigations & Information Officer

Remember it’s our money Labour have been using for all this activity.

What have they got to hide?

Slaughter backed Castro

castrointerroga-300x190I have written elsewhere about terrible crimes of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship.

Certainly it was appalling that the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that “for all his flaws” Castro was “a champion of social justice.”

The Cuban farmer being interrogated by Castro in this picture prior to execution was one of tens of thousands of victims.

Yet Corbyn was not the only Labour MP to take this disgracefully equivocal stance.

Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, was among those signing a Commons motion “commending the achievements of Fidel Castro”.