Will Marshall: Reactions to Terror

A guest post from Will Marshall.

Last night’s terrorist attack in Manchester has horrified our nation.  It has once more reminded us both of the challenges that the world presents us, and of our greatest strengths.

First reactions to tragedy are always telling.  From the hate-mongering columnists demanding a ‘final solution’ to acts of terror, to the tin foil-hated tweeters retweeting what should be untweetable, tragedy lays bare the person within, artifice and second thoughts stripped away.  Nowhere is this more obvious than in the actions and reactions of the people of Manchester last night.  From those who opened their homes and their hearts to strangers, to those who offered transport, safety and a chance to call their families, the people of Manchester have shown us everything that is great about Britain.

I was reminded this morning of the lessons so many politicians swore to learn after the death of Jo Cox.  To demonise less, to end the mongering of fear and hatred, and to celebrate our common passions as people and as a nation.  #moreincommon and now #standtogether  are ideals – ideals so many of us cling to in these uncertain times, and ideals that we can be proud of. They are the aspiration for a better public discourse, an aspiration that acknowledges viciousness to be the problem in our country, and not the solution.

There will be many stories yet to tell of last night’s attacks – of the heroism and sacrifices of our emergency services, of the many kindnesses shown, and of the grief of so very many yet to mourn.  But let us also not forget that we are not just observers.  In our recounting of the tales that tell our country at its best, and in our mourning of the memories of those taken before their time, we speak to our highest ideals, and we point the path to the country we long to continue.

Suspension of Campaigning in Hammersmith following the Manchester terrorist attack.

Following the devastating and cruel terrorist attack in Manchester last night we will have suspended our General Election Campaign today.
All our party political activity in Hammersmith will be put on hold until further notice as a mark of respect for all those who died or who have been badly injured.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this awful attack.
We stand ready to help the people of Manchester in any way we can at this most difficult of times.
Charlie Dewhirst
Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Hammersmith Constituency
Councillor Joe Carlebach 
Hammersmith Conservative

Charlie Dewhirst: My thoughts on Heathrow

A guest post from Cllr Charlie Dewhirst, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith.

I was a little perplexed to read some recent Labour propaganda which claims that I support a third runway at Heathrow. I have been consistent in my opposition to a third runway and you can check the Council’s official voting records to confirm this.

The future of Heathrow Airport is one of the main issues facing local residents, with many people rightly concerned about the prospect of a new northern flightpath over Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush.

My priority is to ensure that any changes to Heathrow do not increase aircraft noise over the area and I will continue to campaign against the on-going scourge of night flights. However, I do believe that Heathrow is an important economic asset to west London and to the wider economy, with direct employment at the airport and with airlines, and many international businesses located here in part because of the proximity of the airport.

Therefore I would like to see it thrive as the main international hub in the UK. The concept of “Boris Island” would have been fine if we were building the city from scratch but it was unrealistic geographically, economically and logistically.

Of the three options that were considered by the Davies Commission, I could not support the plans for a third runway to the north of Heathrow as it will mean a new flight path right over the centre of Hammersmith and clearly this is unacceptable.

If elected I will campaign for the Government to look again at the “Heathrow Hub” concept. It will allow the airport to increase its capacity by extending one of the runways westwards but not create a new flight path over the Hammersmith area. Indeed, because planes would sometimes be landing 2.5 miles further west on that runway they would be considerably higher and therefore quieter as they fly over our area on the current flight path. This option has the benefit of allowing Heathrow to modernise whilst limiting and even reducing the noise impact locally.

Furthermore, I will fight hard to ban night flights landing at Heathrow and will ask the airport authorities to look at noise reduction measures such as a steeper landing angles and putting down the aeroplane flaps and undercarriage closer to the runway. I have been assured by pilots that all of these are possible and would make a significant difference to noise levels.

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Charlie Dewhirst: Why Hammersmith needs change

A guest post from Cllr Charlie Dewhirst, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith.

Many residents in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush are unsatisfied with the way Labour are representing their constituency at both a local and national level. Why? When Theresa May called the snap general election in April I knew this was our chance to make real change happen for this excellent area I have served as local Councillor for the past seven years.

I know there are difficulties and so, like Theresa May stipulated so firmly in her manifesto speech, I am not afraid to tackle them head-on. But local residents deserve better. Labour have held onto power here through a campaign of fear and uncertainty, which they continue to pursue even though formal complaints have been made against them for breaching regulations and wasting Council money on misleading political propaganda. Simultaneously, the Labour Council are failing on almost all of their responsibilities and therefore failing the people who need help the most.

Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush deserves security and stability, not fear and uncertainty. Having spoken to thousands of residents on the doorsteps over the years, I know I can be the person to deliver it if I am elected MP.

Having grown up in Yorkshire, I wasn’t interested in party politics at an early age. I studied at Edinburgh University and moved to London shortly after graduation to pursue a career in sports, starting in sports journalism. Like many young graduates, I settled in West London, and together with my peers, experienced the shortage of affordable housing here first hand.

In my mid-twenties, I realised that I wanted to make a change, and followed my head and heart to the only party which I felt could deliver it: the Conservatives. I was enthused to be elected as Councillor for Ravenscourt Park in 2010, whose residents I have proudly represented since, fighting on their behalf on a number of local campaigns: the Hammersmith flyunder; speaking out against Labour’s proposed abolition of Council housing in the Borough; and fighting for the retention of the most basic local authority services like weekly refuse collections.

I worked for UK Sport for a number of years, the organisation responsible for delivering British success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was thrilled and honoured when I was selected as the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith for the first time in 2015, securing the largest number of votes ever achieved by a Conservative candidate in the constituency. I now work for England Rugby, and I’m still balancing work around my campaign. I believe that sport can be such a force for social change in our community, with fantastic initiatives from organisations such as QPR in the Community Trust, which I recently visited at Loftus Road. I’m proud to support our local sports teams for the invaluable work they do effecting social change.

That is why I am seeking election as MP. It is my priority to ensure that everybody who needs my help the most will receive my fullest support if I am elected as MP; whether that is through affordable housing; adult social care; or community cohesion. I got into politics to make a positive change to my community, and after seven years as a local Councillor, I believe I can give a strong voice to local residents and their concerns in Parliament.

We are faced with a crucial decision at this election: a strong and stable government with Theresa May; or the chaos and uncertainty of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. I believe that I can deliver the stability that Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush so desperately needs both locally and nationally, and we can make our area an even better place to call home.

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Joe Carlebach: Rest In Peace Jo Cox

Cllr Joe Carlebach is the Chairman of the Hammersmith Conservative Association.

Jo Cox MP. 22nd June 1974 – 16th June 2016

Politician, wife and mother.

Today all political parties have agreed to suspend campaigning for one hour. The hope is everyone will focus on what we have in common not our many and varied differences. This rare event will be dedicated to the memory of Jo Cox whose life was so brutally taken last year in a barbaric and senseless act.

I am asking all our Conservative activists, supporters and volunteers to take a moment today to remember Jo and keep her family in our thoughts and prayers. We had differences with her but she will always have our respect. As Jo said in her maiden speech in the Commons “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.” How true this is and yet how easily we all forget these wise words.

I hope the supporters of all the other parties currently engaged in the rigours of the current general election campaign here in Hammersmith will join with us in this rare moment of cross party unity. I believe Jo would have been pleased at this one positive outcome of her death.

I am republishing the article I wrote in her memory after the news broke of her murder as a tribute to her and her family.

16th June 2016

Many of us are desperately trying to make sense of the devastating news of the brutal murder of Jo Cox in her constituency.

No words can adequately express the shock and sadness we all feel at the loss of Jo. She was by all accounts a gifted and passionate politician who had friends across the political divide. She was vocal in supporting the vulnerable not just at home but around the world and in particular the long suffering people of Syria.She died doing what many of us regard as the bed rock of representative democracy, holding a surgery and talking to her electorate in the constituency she represented.

The brutal attack on her is an attack in all of us. It is an attack on the hard won rights of our representative democracy. It is abhorrent and unacceptable in so many ways.

The untimely death of anyone is a tragedy. The unwarranted violent death of a parent of young children is disastrous. The brutal murder of an elected member of our parliament is a catastrophe.

As politicians we will have many and varied disagreements. That is the nature of our business. However on this matter (this catastrophe) we are united as one in condemning this violence, in paying respect to Jo, her achievements in life and her legacy now she is gone.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, her two young children and her friends and family.

Rest in peace Jo, your passing has united our fractious and divided country. You may have left us but you will not be forgotten.

Fulham Town Hall has been sold – but who too?

The Council has told me that Fulham Town Hall was finally sold earlier this month.

In principle this is good news. It was agreed by the Conservative Council back in 2012 that selling the building made sense. We don’t really need two town halls in the borough.

The deal was that this fine Grade Two listed building would still have the Council Chamber, the Mayor’s Parlour and the wedding area in public use. The Council Taxpayer would benefit from a capital receipt to reduce debt (and thus the cost of interest) and also save the very heft maintenance costs.

The trouble is the whole process has dragged on.

As the Fulham Society has noted the building has become rather shabby. Plaster fell off Fulham Town Hall around last September and the pavement had to be closed to protect pedestrians.

Keeping it empty for all these years has been unfortunate.  Fulham Town Hall has deteriorated while still costing us a considerable sum in security, insurance and so on.

At first it was expected to be a hotel, then an emporium owned by an American firm called Dory Ventures – but there planning application was rejected because they wanted to change the building too much. Fair enough rejecting it but did the whole process really need to take so long?

I have asked who the building has been sold to, how much for and what is planned for the site.

Action needed on moped thefts

I have written elsewhere about the growing epidemic of moped thefts. Part of the problem is that as the culprit is not wearing a helmet the police are under instructions not to pursue them for health and safety reasons. The Mayor of London to give stronger guidance.

Another problem is when the police do catch the thief the sentencing is so lenient. Often the criminals brazenly show off their exploits all over social media – with photos and videos taunting the police on Facebook.

Often the stolen mopeds are then used for other crimes. I had an email this week from one Neighbourhood Watch group in Ravenscourt Park Ward about drug dealers using stolen mopeds.

There is a scheme in Southwark to combat motorbike theft by installing “anchors”.

£500 seems rather a lot for each anchor.

I asked the Council for what we are doing and got the following response from Commissioning And Performance Officer:

Dear Councillor Phibbs,

 Thank you for your recent enquiry relating to the scheme in Southwark to fit ground anchors in residents driveways.

 The scheme in Southwark has clearly been well received and will hopefully have a positive impact on the number of moped thefts in that Borough. Hammersmith and Fulham experiences similar challenges and officers have worked closely with the police to design schemes aimed at tackling the problem. As such, a GPS Tagging Project was introduced in 2016. The unit cost for this scheme is approximately £50 which demonstrates excellent value for money and, due to its lower cost, has enabled 80 mopeds to be tagged. We currently have the resources to fit 80 more. Much of the motorcycle and moped theft in the borough involves vehicles being taken from the street as many residents do not have off-street parking, so we feel that GPS tagging is a more appropriate solution for this borough than the Southwark scheme.

 Residents can have this equipment fitted to their vehicle free of charge and the police are then able to track their vehicles if they are stolen. Residents can apply for the scheme by contacting CSU@lbhf.gov.uk

Charlie Dewhirst: The Conservative Manifesto offers good news for Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush

Cllr Charlie Dewhirst is the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith.

I am delighted by the vision that Theresa May has set out in the Conservative Party manifesto today. The next five years will be the most challenging our nation has faced in generations and so now more than ever Britain needs strong, stable leadership under Theresa May to make the most of the challenges that lie ahead. There are three commitments that I am particularly pleased about as they will directly affect all of us in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush.

On NHS funding:

We value our NHS deeply and will increase spending by a minimum of £8 billion in real terms over the next five years, delivering an increase in real funding per head of population for every year of the parliament.  Over the course of the next parliament, we will embark on the most ambitious programme of capital investment in buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen. This is a huge commitment to the NHS by the Conservatives, which goes further than Jeremy Corbyn’s plans, and will ensure that our local health services continue to deliver for the people of Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush. This is yet more good news following the NHS’s recent firm commitment to Charing Cross Hospital.

On school funding:

We will increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion in real terms by 2022 and ensure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new, fair funding formula. The previously planned funding formula would have seen local schools in London receiving less money so this change is hugely welcome.

On our long-term plan for elderly care:

We are making a commitment to a long-term plan to make the social care system fairer, better funded and more sustainable, ensuring elderly people receive the dignified and high quality care they deserve.

Unlike Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, we are not promising huge sums of new public spending in this manifesto because we believe in a strong economy founded on sound money. There are some things which will cost money – but also things that will save money. We are not afraid to take the difficult decisions to address the long-term challenges this country faces.

You can read the full manifesto here.

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