Transport for London’s flawed “Cycle Superhighway” proposals

I am a strong supporter of sensible measures to promote cycling. Indeed I have written about this regularly on this site – see here, here, here and here.

However the proposed Transport for London Cycle Superhighway strike me as deeply flawed. As Charlie Dewhirst has noted it would worsen traffic congestion and lengthen pedestrian journeys.

The scheme would cost £70 million. Hammersmith and Fulham Council is backing it – but there is a huge financial conflict of interest for the Council with these big TfL schemes. That is because the Council is provided with substantial funding from TfL to help promote and implement them. That makes it impossible for the Council to be objective in delivering a verdict on whether such schemes are beneficial or harmful to our borough. I have asked the Council how much money it has been promised.

There is concern among residents that as well as limiting access to the side streets the Superhighway will cross, there will be a damaging impact on the businesses, nurseries and schools on the south side of King Street.

For example of particular concern is the impact of changes to the Goldhawk/ King Street/ Chiswick High Road/ British Grove junction. This includes changes to access and the reversal of the one way system at the south end of British Grove onto Berestede Road such that instead of turning from a narrow street with no pavements (British Grove) into a wider one (Berestede Road) it will be the other way round.

When challenged on the risk to pedestrians this could entail at a consultation in Chiswick, I hear the TfL response was “… well it is a mistake that they will only make once…”

Would it not be less disruptive to route the Superhighway along the A4?

Please let me know your views.

Artists impression of the new scheme looking east along Hammersmith Road

Here are the dates for some proposed exhibitions of the scheme:

Grove Neighbourhood Centre  Sunday 1 October 11am-4pm

Lyric Square  Friday 6 October 11am – 3pm

Cross Keys Pub, Black Lion Lane Wednesday 11 October  5pm-9pm

Ravenscourt Park  (TfL doesn’t say where in the Park) Sunday 22 October 11am-3pm

The deadline for comments is Tuesday 31 October. You can respond here.

The letter from TfL gives more details.

Ugly new plans for Hammersmith Grove’s “Triangle” site

Another appalling planning proposal.

This one concerns the site known as the Hammersmith Triangle –  5-17 Hammersmith Grove and 1-11 Britannia House: 3 and 3A Hammersmith Grove and 12-18 Beadon Road. There have been various proposals from its owners Romulus since 2013.

Britannia House is seven storey. The Triangle – is a part 6, part 7 storey. The new building would be between eight and 14 storeys. So the proposal is to replace very ugly buildings with even bigger very ugly buildings.

Also we need more homes rather than more offices.

The Hammersmith Society has objected.

It’s Chairman, Tom Ryland, says the design concept “is almost industrial with its metal cladding – most unsympathetic and alien to both Hammersmith centre and the adjoining Conservation Areas.” The design has a “hard-edged, almost brutal quality.”

Among the other points he makes:

Height:  The office block (south and main part of the development) proposition is taller than its neighbours at 10 & 12 Hammersmith Grove (Development Securities), Sovereign Court tower (St George) on Beadon Road and I Lyric Square. The developer advises that the height is justified by the need to provide a sense of enclosure to Lyric Square, but the plans – and illustrations in the Design and Access Statement – show how stark this cliff face will look….

Proximity to Conservation Areas:  The site is adjacent to the Bradmore CA,  Hammersmith Grove CA and Hammersmith Broadway CA. It is within a few yards of low-rise Victorian residential streets to the north. Despite the stepping back at the upper floors, the proposed building will tower over the residential streets to the north. This is not a happy conjunction between town centre and residential areas….

At present the charming landscaping in Hammersmith Grove carries on the domestic landscaping of front gardens to the north and landscaping around 10 Hammersmith Grove, also set back from the pavement line. Although landscaping is proposed on the cut-back terraces on Beadon Road, these will only be seen and appreciated by the users of the office building, and not by the man in the street.

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.