Joe Carlebach: Our debt to the Free Polish Armed Forces

Cllr Joe Carlebach is Leader of the Conservative Group on Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Paying Homage to the fallen Free Polish Army servicemen.
Bayeux Military Cemetery August 2017.

The 25th September marks the end of ‘Operation Market Garden’ in 1944. This was the brainchild of Field Marshal Montgomery, to drop thousands of Allied troops behind enemy lines in Holland capturing key bridges and providing an opportunity to end the Second World War early in Europe.

The operation itself was a very limited success with a great many brave Allied soldiers losing their lives or ending up with terrible battle wounds.

Aside from the sacrifice of British, Commonwealth and American forces which is commonly known there was also a significant presence and sacrifice from the free Polish forces.

These forces had been fighting with the Allies and in particular British forces since fall of France with 303 Squadron fighting with distinction during the Battle of Britain and beyond. During D Day and the ensuing Normandy campaign it is estimated that over 6,000 Polish servicemen lost their lives. These Polish forces also liberated many towns across Belgium (including Ypres where so many of our WW1 war dead are buried). They participated bravely in Operation Market Garden and in the final days of WW2 in Europe fighting across Germany itself.

Many of you will ask what has this to do with us now today in Hammersmith and Fulham? Many of these brave serviceman and women who gave so much for Britain settled in our Borough and went on to positively contribute to our welfare and prosperity.

I had the honour of knowing some of them and listening to their stories of bravery, sadness and sacrifice.

As gradually they pass on it is critically important that we do not forget their sacrifice. It is also beholden on us in these difficult times where many friends and colleagues have come from Poland more recently to strive to keep their welcome here genuine and warm.

Whatever your views on Brexit, if you are a ‘Remainer’ like me, or not, we should always welcome the thriving Polish community in Hammersmith and Fulham. We should acknowledge the positive contribution they have made and continue to make to our borough and our nation. We should never forget the brave service men and women of the Free Polish Armed Forces who gave their today for our tomorrow.   

Hands urges Khan to drop the ban on Uber as half a million sign petition in protest

Greg Hands MP, Minister for London and MP for Chelsea and Fulham, has responded to the Mayor of London ban on Uber.

Greg says:

“At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded.

“Uber must address safety concerns and it is important there is a level playing field across the private hire market. But a blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, all while showing that the Mayor of London is closed to business and innovation.

“Once again Labour are taking it too far and ordinary working people will pay the price for it.”

Natalie Roberts, at The Spectator, says the Uber ban is “anti-women, anti-youth and anti-London.”

The Guido Fawkes website notes that the GMB, a trade union which donates to the Labour Party, have been campaigning for the ban.

Sam Dumitriu of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“This decision is not about safety, it is about protecting the market share for black cab drivers even thought they don’t offer a better service or competitive prices.

“There are three main reasons why Londoners use Uber.

1. It is much quicker than waiting for a black cab and they will pick you up anywhere, not just on a main road.

2. They are also a lot cheaper than if you were to use a black cab.

3. People actually think that it is safer than a black cab because they know every journey is logged, they are being tracked by GPS and they’re immediately asked for feedback. In fact Uber drivers have to undergo the exact same safety checks to be able to work, the same as black cab drivers.

The reality is that if Uber can’t operate in London, people will have to wait longer for cabs, pay much higher prices and some might even put their safety in jeopardy by choosing to walk home after a night out.

The reality is that if Uber can’t operate in London, people will have to wait longer for cabs and pay much higher prices.

Just over a year ago, Sadiq Khan said that London was open for business but this decision today shows exactly the opposite. It looks like London is closed to entrepreneurs, innovation and competition.

He also keeps talking about London’s night time economy. But how are people   There have been many campaigns to try and stop Uber from operating in London.

But its not just that, there are 40,000 drivers who chose to work for Uber due to its flexibility and people can fit their work around time with their families and other commitments.

Now they will be left worried about where they will get work from and how they will support themselves and their families. It is ridiculous.”

Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs says:

“Apps like Uber have a large role to play in our increasingly dynamic economy, and it is a mistake to cling onto out-dated views of working arrangements. Uber is not an ’employer’ – it is simply a platform that allows drivers and customers to meet and trade under a specific set of rules.
 
“Banning Uber, and clamping down on the Gig Economy more generally, is a restriction upon freedom of choice, both for Uber’s drivers and passengers. In doing so, Transport for London has privileged the views of a powerful minority who wish to restrict consumer choice over the will of millions of ordinary Londoners.”
 
“Today’s decision is an assault on drivers and customers alike, and a victory for protectionism.”

The ban will particularly punish ambitious, young, hard working immigrants in our City who are providing a great service to their fellow Londoners.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly says:

“The Mayor consistently tells us London is open but in shutting down the operations of an innovative market leader like Uber he has caused immense reputational damage to our city as a global business hub.

“With 3.5million registered users – almost half the city’s adult population – Uber has shown to be providing a hugely beneficial service to Londoners.

“Sadiq Khan has ignored their needs and instead believed the smears and propaganda propagated by Uber’s rivals.

“Yes there are elements of the industry that need tweaking, yes there needs to be a reduction of bureaucracy for black cab drivers, but snuffing out the competition at the expense of thousands of employees and millions of customers is not the solution.”

“All allegations around passenger safety, especially those alleging assault, have to be taken seriously and referred to the police but I would expect the same standard to apply to all operators.

“In addition, TfL must answer questions about why its background checks on licence applicants appear to be failing. Uber provides the platform but it is TfL that conducts checks on the drivers.”

An online petition started yesterday which (at the time of writing) already has half a million signatures.

It says:

“TfL and their chairman, the Mayor of London, today announced that they have decided not to renew Uber’s Operator Licence when it expires on 30th September.

“By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and their chairman the Mayor have given in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive millions of Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. This decision is affecting the real lives of a huge number of honest and hard-working drivers in London.

“The 3.5 million Londoners who rely on Uber to get a safe, reliable and affordable ride around the best city in the world will be astounded by the decision to ban Uber from the capital.

“This ban shows the world that London is far from being open and is closed to innovative companies, who bring choice to consumers and work opportunities to those who need them.

“Safety is of the highest importance and drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced background checks as black cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS.

“To defend the livelihoods of 40,000 drivers – and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners – sign this petition asking to reverse the decision to ban Uber in London.”

You can sign it here.

 

Andrew Brown: Reflections a week on from the Parsons Green attack

A guest post from Cllr Andrew Brown, a Conservative Councillor for Town Ward.

A week today, for residents of our borough, and Fulham especially, our worst fears came to be. With the terrible atrocities at Parliament, in Manchester and London Bridge I’m sure many of us worried that something like that could happen in our community, but hoped it never would. Why would they target our small part of London? But they did, whether intentionally or through incompetence on the way to another target.

All the feelings that we experience when terrorist attacks happen anywhere, are magnified when they are in your country, more so in your city and most of all in your neighbourhood. As a councillor in Town Ward, where the tube station is located, I know hundreds of local residents, many of them friends who use the district line and Parsons Green Station every day. I’m sure everyone in our borough must also know lots of people, both friends and family, who use the station as well, live nearby, or are pupils at the local schools. Our thoughts immediately rush to wondering if they are safe.

I was not far away from the station, having just dropped off my daughter at school, when the headmistress alerted me to the helicopter flying overhead and told me to check the news. The rest of the day went by in a blur, keeping up with the news, liaising with councillor colleagues and local residents’ associations as well as the police and the council.

It was extremely fortunate that the device failed to fully detonate, and we have to be incredibly thankful that nobody was serious injured or killed. I hope that anyone injured on the train, or in the crush afterwards, makes a speedy recovery and receives all the help and support to deal with any psychological trauma as well as any physical injuries. That is now the most important thing.

I was however, also struck by the incredible bravery and professionalism of our emergency services, who put aside their own safety and raced to help those caught up in the incident. The immediate response as well as the police and intelligence work over the last week has highlighted their dedication to keeping us all safe.

But something else struck me and many others, and that was the community spirit in Parsons Green. When I spoke with a Chair of one of the residents’ associations, they told me that residents who had been evacuated from their homes were being taken in for the day by people in neighbouring streets, or being looked after in local businesses such as the White Horse pub, the Sloaney Pony to the locals.

It was this neighbourliness that was exemplified by Teo Catino of Il Pagliaccio who set up a stall on Parsons Green to hand out free bottles of water and 200 pizzas to members of our emergency services.

If anyone had been killed or seriously injured we wouldn’t be able to focus on these acts of kindness, but we should be very thankful that this message of togetherness, compassion and community spirit can be what we remember.

 

Parklet proposed for King Street

I am very pleased to see a proposal from Rivercourt Methodist Church for a “Parklet” on the entrance to their site in King Street. At present there is a dreary patch of concrete.

The inspiration is from the Deli in Brackenbury Road.

It would mean some extra work for members of the Church to maintain the small garden but if they are willing to take this on the initiative seems to be very welcome. The one in Brackenbury Road was given some funding from Transport for London for providing bike hoops.

Steve Lawrence, who is behind the idea, says:

“This is more about someplace to sit rather than a garden but it would still be an upgrade on what is there at present. The area certainly need rejuvenating.”

I am encouraging the Council to respond positively and will report back. These days any enterprise – however modest and worthy – faces practical difficulties and bureaucratic impediments. Let’s hope they an be overcome in this case.

Council’s shocking failure to clear rubbish from local Church

There is an excellent Anglican church in Paddenswick Road called Holy Innocents. Many local residents have been to worship there and listen to the erudite and good humoured sermons of Father David Matthews, a tall Canadian. Even many atheists will have found themselves there at some stage or another – at a concert, a community event of seizing the chance to vote for me in council elections when the Church Hall is used as a polling station…

Recently the Council failed to collect the recycling from the Church. As a result of the overflowing rubbish the Church became victims of fly tipping they are actually unwilling to help at all.  The Council told the Church representatives that they would have to try and get into the bins themselves to empty them and then pay to have the rubbish taken away.  Quite unacceptable.

So as a result of the Council’s negligence the Church was penalised by having fly-tipping dumped on their premises then rather than apologise the Council wanted to charge them extra.

After I raised the case I am assured the rubbish has now been removed – but only grudgingly and after some delay. But I do think an apology would be in order.

There is also a more general point that those who are victims of fly-tipping should not be punished twice. The Council should clear it away.

Riverside Studios to reopen by August next year

After the fiasco with the demolition of the cinema in King Street there is understandable concern among local film buffs as to alternative venues. It doesn’t help that Riverside Studios is not available as they have got the builders in.

So how long will it take for them to reopen?

William Burdett-Coutts, the Artistic Director of Riverside Studios, tells me:

“On the current plan the expectation is that the building will open in phases starting in April 2018 and hopefully fully open by August.”

According to the Riverside Studios website:

“Riverside Studios will have much improved facilities including three studios for television, theatre, dance, opera, music and comedy. We’ll have a 200 seat cinema and screening room, a community & rehearsal area and a greatly enhanced public entertainment facility including a local events and entertainment space. There’ll be a beautiful new cinema foyer with its own bar and a permanent exhibition of our heritage. The building will have its own bakery, a brasserie and a fine dining restaurant each with their own bar. The river walkway will be opened up for the first time in front of Riverside Studios and Queen’s Wharf allowing you to walk beside the river all the way from Barnes Bridge to Craven Cottage.”

Fulham Boys School hits back after unfair racist slur

There has been some completely unfair attacks on Fulham Boys School in the media. The allegation of racism due to a boy not being allowed to attend with dreadlocks is quite outrageous.

The charge that the strict rule on hair length amounts to religious discrimination is also pretty dubious. Courtney Hamilton on Spiked writes:

“The Rastafarian author Barbara Blake Hannah argues that Rastafarians are essentially Christian – they read and quote from the Bible. And what does the custom of wearing dreadlocks have to do with Biblical tradition? Absolutely nothing, according to the Grenadian humanist Seon M Lewis, author of From Mythology to Reality: Moving Beyond Rastafari.”

The school makes the rules very clear. The rules apply to everyone. Parents who wish their children to be taught at a school with different rules should not choose Fulham Boys School.

The school’s headmaster Alun Ebenezer says:

At the start of our fourth school year I’d like to use my blog to reaffirm why we are doing what we are doing – and who we are doing it for.

Why we do what we do

Our pledge, and unflinching resolve, is to be one of the best schools in this country state or private in the next ten years.

To achieve this and pull off the seeming impossible, we have created and constantly reinforce a very distinctive ethos. It is an ethos that is built upon the Christian faith, nurtures enterprise and is geared towards boys. Our ethos and culture is made clear in all our policies and on our website. Furthermore, whenever I speak in public about the school on open days, open evenings or at transition events I make it clear what our school ethos is and refer to our firm discipline and strict rules on uniform and appearance at all times. We constantly remind our boys about the importance of standards. Standards, standards, standards! Knowing how to behave appropriately in different settings – assembly, lessons, on the sports field, to and from school, in the dining room, in the library, walking through corridors, relaxing or letting off steam at break and lunch. Ensuring their uniform is always immaculate and strict rules about hair.

Our policy on uniform and appearance isn’t driven by our Christian ethos. To be a Christian you don’t need to have your hair a particular length or style, neither do you need to wear a blazer, an upper or lower school tie. We have a strict uniform policy because we maintain boys need strict discipline and firm boundaries.  Too pernickety? Too strict? Ask British businesses, law firms and banks what they think. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37244180?scrlybrkr=5c7c1b5b#

Do these policies and firm boundaries somehow constrain boys’ development, creativity or expression?  We think the opposite. Not only are our boys well behaved, they are also well rounded and happy – as is reflected in our Ofsted report. And as the Tri Borough safeguarding lead officer said after her visit to FBS, ‘If there was ever a school whose ethos was embedded with students being happy, safe and well,  The Fulham Boys School was a shining light in this element…if any colleagues from other schools ever wanted to see what a happy and safe school looked like, The Fulham Boys School would be first on my list of schools to send them to look at’.

When I take stock of what all our boys have achieved in the first three years – the sporting trophies, their performances on stage and outstanding work in the classroom – I believe that we are on course to achieve our ambitions aim to be one of the very best. And what I think really sets us apart is that the behaviour and attitude of our boys is exceptional. They are maturing and becoming self-disciplined young men – as Ofsted put it our ‘Boys live and breathe good manners and courtesy’.

Who we are doing it for

But who is all this for? All Fulham Boys.

FBS has a complete cross section of boys. As a non-fee paying school, we are able to draw in a far more diverse demographic than private schools. When it comes to preparing boys for life, this gives FBS boys a huge advantage. Fulham has a vibrant mix of cultures and some of the most expensive housing in London alongside pockets of significant deprivation. Our boys learn valuable lessons from mixing with each other, crossing socio-economic divides, and learning from each other’s perspectives rather than falling back on ‘group think’. No boy is allowed to use his upbringing or background as an excuse for not meeting our high standards, or as a barrier to achievement.

Our demographic proves this. 7% of our boys have Special Educational Needs and the support we give these young men was praised by Ofsted. 22% of our boys have Free School Meals, 43% are Pupil Premium. 15% of our boys come from private primary schools. 18% have English as an additional language (EAL). 7% of our boys are Asian, 10% are Black African, 13% are Black Caribbean, 1% Moroccan, 47% White British, 3% White Eastern European, 7% White Western European, 5% Other mixed background, 1% other ethnic group and 6% White other.  These are Fulham boys.

Everyone is welcome.  As Ofsted commented ‘Christian values of the school are clear while at the same time everyone is welcome and included’ . FBS opened four years ago to provide for all Fulham boys, not for a particular type of Fulham boy.

For those that choose to come, we ask them to embrace our ethos and understand that our school rules are geared to support this.  As with most rules, there are exceptions; the rules allow for these. And if our rules are tested, and found lacking, we do what we teach our boys to do – to reflect, understand and learn. Ofsted referred to our ethos as ‘incredible’. It drives what we do, and who we do it for.