Whatever happened to the “Hammersmith Residents Working Party”?

When the Council established the Hammersmith Residents’ Working Party it emphasised its importance saying that it “will in large part govern what developers are permitted to do”.

According to the Council’s website:

“The Hammersmith Residents’ Working Party meets each month.”

But it would be closer to mark to say it meets annually – while the Council pushes through ugly, unpopular developments.

The Council’s Head of Policy & Spatial Planning says:

“The residents working party is still in operation and we will be scheduling new workshops with the group to review the first draft of the Grimshaw masterplan in due course.  The masterplan will form an important component of the future Hammersmith Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  The contribution of the HRWP will be critical to this task. 

“Since the last meeting (end of April) the views of the HRWP have been integrated into developing the masterplan.

“It is important to understand the master plan and SPD’s relationship to the new Local Plan.  The SPD will need to sit within this higher level development plan document when adopted.  The new Local Plan Examination in Public was last summer and the Inspector required a subsequent consultation on modifications to the plan over this Autumn/Winter, the document is now due for adoption on 28th February.  This has therefore impacted on engagement with the HRWP.”

Grimshaw are a firm of modernist architects. We have yet to see what they are threatening for Hammersmith – but judging but the other “Master Planning” they have produced on their website it is likely to be pretty awful.

The Council’s Local Plan specifically backs more tower blacks for the Hammersmith Town Centre – see page 134. The “masterplan” will be a “component” of  the Hammersmith Supplementary Planning Document which in turn “will need to sit within this higher level development plan document.”

So when the Council says “the views of the HRWP have been integrated into developing the masterplan” – what it means is that the Council’s policy is to have more tower blocks whether the HRWP wants it or not.

Does the HRWP feel that its views are being “integrated into developing the masterplan”? Since its members are sworn to secrecy and its deliberations are not published we will never know officially. But with it not meeting at all there can scarcely be much confidence – for them or the rest of us.

Even if the reality is that the Council ignores its deliberations the process is pretty chaotic and discourteous. Members who agreed to give up their time being told they would have monthly meetings on a body with genuine clout are left wondering what is happening.

Arts listings for Hammersmith

Lots of arts events to choose from locally.

Jubilee – Lyric Theatre, Lyric Square, King Street

A new stage adaptation of Derek Jarman’s seminal film. The cast is led by Toyah Willcox. If you are nostalgic for the good old days of punk rock this is the show for you.

“How do you take a defining film from the punk era and reconceive it for the stage, 40 years on, when the V-flicking message of punk was “no future”?” – Daily Telegraph

“The first half may drag a little,” – The Guardian

Tickets £15 ‐ £35 available here. Running time – 130 minutes. Ages 6+

Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Road, London W12 7LJ 020 8222 6955

Lots going on at this excellent Edwardian venue. It was originally built in 1904  and was used as a dance hall through the roaring twenties and as a soup kitchen during the Second World War.

Friday February 23rd, 7:00pm £19.50

Comedy with Sara Pascoe + Joe Wilkinson + John Kearns + Suzi Ruffell

Tuesday February  27th,  7:30 PM £50

A special charity gig at Bush Hall with Natalie Imbruglia performing along with The Staks Band, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and Joy Crookes.  For Ethiopaid,

Thursday, March 1st 7:30 PM £12.50

The Wandering Hearts + Jarrod Dickenson

See the listings here.

Baron’s Court Theatre, The Curtains Up pub, 28a Comeragh Road, London W14 9HR 020 7602 0235

An intimate venue under the Curtains Up pub. Founded in 1991 it has only 57 seats.

More details here.

Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ 020 8743 5050


The B*easts

“A searing ‘What If?’ exploration of the pornification of our culture and the sexualisation of our children.”

This “dark tale” is written by and stars Monica Dolan and explores how far one mum will go to give her child what she wants.

“The pram in the hall is not the enemy of good art.” – The Guardian

Tickets from £10. More details here.

Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, W4 1LW 0208 995 6035

This 96 seat venue opened in 1985 above the Tabard Pub and is very near Turnham Green tube – so just over the border in Hounslow.

Showing “The Jungle Book” adapted from Rudyard Kipling. “Half term fun” –  14 – 17 Feb 2018

Tickets £12 Children £10. More details here.

Irish Cultural Centre, 5 Black’s Road, Hammersmith, W6 9DT 

Friday 16 February. 7.30pm. Tickets £12. Concessions £10.

‘Red Noise,’ A One-Man Show, from Irish Actor/ Comedian Owen O Neill.

Friday 23rd February.  2.00pm –  5.30pm Tickets £25.

Afternoon Storytelling Workshop by International Storyteller, Peter Chand

“Come and join him for a workshop exploring the senses and learning how they can enhance your storytelling skills. ”

More details here.

Rising crime trend locally

When I ask residents about their local concerns I have noticed that more and more of them are talking about crime.

The statistics confirm an upward trend locally. In Hammersmith and Fulham last year there were 21,692 crimes recorded last year. That compared with 20,881 the year before.

In Ravenscourt Park Ward the figure for 2017 was 1,252 – up from 1,077 in 2016. I don’t want to exaggerate the gloom. There had been a falling trend for many years. (In 2011 there were 1,354 crimes in the Ward.)

Also I suspect that more people take the trouble to report a crime when it has taken place. (The local team can be emailed on SNTFH-.RavenscourtPark@met.pnn.police.uk). I remember when I first became a councillor 12 years ago victims of a crime would talk to me about waiting ages to get through to the police on the phone – perhaps giving up after half an hour  or so concluding there was no point in making the report anyway. These days it is both easier to report a crime and doing so is more widely recognised as worth doing. The Neighbourhood Watches are a fantastic help.

There is a crime map published for each area giving full information about the location and type of each crime that has been recorded. The one for Ravenscourt Park Ward can be found here.  When someone who lives in Rivercourt Road mentioned to me that there had been “spate of car crime” on his street I was able to check on the map to confirm this was true. This then strengthened the case for CCTV – which is usually provided by the Council and they have promised me they will provide.

By the way CCTV is not a panacea – although it can sometimes be crucial. Cameras are monitored 27/7 in the control room Hammersmith Town Hall. But there are not enough people to monitor all the cameras at once. So not all culprits are caught live. Going through the recordings afterwards is time consuming. I have suggested that volunteers could be invited to help with this – both with live monitoring and going through the recordings. It is always tempting to demand more and more cameras. But we also need more people to check them.

Often the criminals wear hoodies – that sometimes means their faces don’t get caught on the camera. Sometimes there are a network of cameras so it can be spotted where the criminal escapes to – sometimes there isn’t.

Moped crime is a particular problem across London. The mopeds are stolen and then used as convenient vehicles to undertake further crime. We have the absurd situation that the police are constrained from chasing thieves who are not wearing helmets – for health and safety reasons.

There is quite a lot of  traffic legislation that does not give an specific exemptions to the police who are in pursuit of criminals – for instance if police officers are speeding, or going over a red light. It was never thought necessary as it was assumed that the Crown Prosecution Service would exercise common sense…the police no longer have that confidence and so specific legal protections are needed.

Then we have had the reduction in “stop and search”. This was motivated by political correctness. Innocent black teenagers were stopped a disproportionate number of times. Yet it is also innocent black teenagers who have been the greatest victims when the police walk by on the other side.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner says:

“We have probably had a 20% increase in knife crime in London in the last year and that is not acceptable to me, so I am encouraging my officers to do stop and search as one of many things that will help to bring this number down.

“I am very much in favour of stop and search. And I’ve said that to my officers and I want them to feel confident to use it. Now we have body-worn video that helps as well in terms of accountability

“In London about one in three stop and searches result in something being found. That shows we are not just doing random work.”

I would hope that with some of these problems being addressed we can see the crime rate falling again.

Addison Singers concert on March 24th

Schubert ‘Mass in E flat’

Saturday 24th March 2018 @ 7.30pm

St. Peter’s Church, Acton Green W4

Southfield Rd, Chiswick W4 1BB, junction of St Alban’s Ave. Free street parking available, Bus E3

The Hammersmith-based Addison Oratorio Choir will be joined by five exceptional vocal soloists and the Brandenburg Sinfonia for one Schubert’s grandest and most elaborate setting of the Mass, his Mass in E flat – a work on an epic scale that the composer never heard. It was premiered the year after his death, conducted by his brother Ferdinand Schubert. The Mass makes pointed references to Schubert’s ‘Holy Trinity’ of composers – Mozart, Beethoven and Bach and contains some of the most dramatic and heartfelt music the composer ever wrote.

From far more recent musical history, actually completed less than two years ago, comes ‘The Heavens and the Heart’ by the British composer James Francis Brown, three psalm settings, two joyful and energetic songs of praise, framing a calmer and more reflective one. The perfect uplifting contrast to the more tortured and questioning sound world of Schubert’s great masterpiece.

Tickets in advance £13, concessions £11, under 16’s £3 (all + booking fee), via https://www.addisonsingers.com/event/oratorio-choir-spring-2018-concert or £15 / £13 / £3 on the door.

The conductor & Musical Director is David Wordsworth

Magdalen Evans: Free admission for H&F residents to see the Cecil French Bequest

A guest post by Magdalen Evans 

I cycled most weekdays down the Iffley Road to go to school in Hammersmith for seven years. Despite the fact that my favourite subject by 6th form was history of Art (much mocked these days I’m afraid, especially even by my own children) my blue-stocking classmates, our friends and our teacher were all completely unaware that 5 minutes up the road, mostly in permanent storage, was the most fabulous collection of pre-Raphaelite art. Yet to come under the gaze of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Jimmy Page and other rich collectors, it might be that their lack of fashion explained why Hammersmith and Fulham Council kept them such a close secret. More likely was the problem of display – as their value has crept up so have worries about conservation and insurance.

Cecil French was born in Dublin and trained as an artist at the Royal Academy Schools, London, and at Sir Hubert von Herkomer’s School at Bushey, Hertfordshire. He had a private income and so started collecting Old Master drawings and was lucky enough to meet Sir Edward Burne-Jones during the latter’s last days at the Grange in Fulham. Unlike some untalented artists Cecil soon realised that he wasn’t nearly as good an artist as those who created his masterpieces which he astutely gathered. On 30 June 1953 the Fulham Public Libraries Committee accepted with thanks Cecil French’s offer of six works by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, for display in the libraries.

French’s offer was a response to the Council’s positive attempts to preserve The Grange, Burne-Jones’s house in North End Lane which sadly, after French’s death, came to nothing. In his will, dated 19 January 1952, French instructed one of his executors, Rowland Alston, Curator of The Watts Gallery, Compton, to distribute the remainder of his paintings, following specific bequests, to museums. Thus, in February 1954, Fulham received a bequest of a further 47 works (both paintings and drawings), the majority of which are by Burne-Jones. The value of Cupid delivering Psyche of 1867 is now eye-wateringly high and that is why it is such particularly good news that in 2018 at last the Watts Gallery are coming back into the picture by showing a selection of highlights from the Bequest. Not only that but they are sharing the cost of some of the inevitable restoration.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council have negotiated that any resident of H&F who turns up at the gallery with proof of address is let in free, if they can make the journey to the Surrey Hills near Guildford. There is much to see there – further info here.

Members of The Hammersmith Society, the Fulham Society and the historic Buildings Group are visiting in March and the hope is that many school trips will be organised as well – to rectify at long last the concern expressed in my opening sentence.

Many of Cecil’s letters – particularly those from Ricketts and Shannon, are now in the Houghton Library at Harvard.

(c) Cecil French Bequest; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Cecil French Bequest; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Gridlock in Hammersmith to last for at least another two weeks

Traffic in Hammersmith is a struggle at the best of times. But the recent flooding has caused exasperated motorists to complain of gridlock. The work is taking much longer than was initially indicated.

I have raised these concerns with Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Network Permit Coordinator sent me the following update this morning:

“King Street/Hammersmith Bridge

As you are aware King Street suffered a major 30 inch water main burst which caused significant damage to the public highway as well as the Thames Water (TWU) assets. The water main has since been repaired, however Thames Water are required to charge the main back to full capacity to ensure there are no further issues. Whilst TWU were completing this operation their contractor was not allowed to work near the site until TWU gave permission to do so. The main has now been fully charged and TWU gave the go ahead to complete repairs to the highway yesterday morning.

The full repair to the carriageway and footway will take some time to complete given the extent of damage caused by the burst. Thames will initially complete the repairs to the immediate area of the burst so as to allow west bound traffic on King Street by Friday evening, before Hammersmith Bridge closes on Saturday. TWU have estimated the road will be fully reopened to traffic by Wednesday 14 February. Once Hammersmith Bridge has been re-opened TWU will then reattend site to complete the reinstatement of the remaining area of the repairs which will be completed under a road closure.

Goldhawk Road

This also suffered a major 30 inch burst, however the damage was even more significant than King Street and will take a little longer to complete due to the damage and voids found under the highway after investigation.

Repairs to the main have been completed and as with King Street the contractors have to follow procedure and wait for TWU to give them permission to complete repairs to the highway. TWU confirmed today the main is being charged. Once this is completed I and my colleagues from Highways will hold a site meeting with TWU to agree the area of reinstatement. The meeting is scheduled for Friday 9 February subject to the water main being charged to full capacity. I anticipate the road is likely to be closed for a further two weeks given the known damage to the highway. However I will monitor TWU daily to ensure they work extended hours and resourced sufficiently in order the road is re opened as soon as is safe and practicable to do so.”

I have also asked Thames Water to comment.


A Thames Water representative adds:

“King Street 

We are installing a Sahara chamber in King Street, which will help us to monitor our network more effectively.  This work is over and above the reinstatement work required but will build further resilience into the network, hence taking a bit longer; we started installing this yesterday.  However, we are sensitive to the fact that Hammersmith Bridge will be closed from this Saturday and therefore we are now planning to complete the essential reinstatement on the westbound carriageway by COP tomorrow so that we can re-open that side of the road ahead of the closure of the bridge.  This will ease traffic in the area and alleviate the disruption that would be caused if both the bridge and road were closed at the same time.  In the meantime we will continue reinstatement works on the eastbound carriageway, which we anticipate will be complete by COP on Wednesday 14th February.  The council has also requested additional repair works which consist of resurfacing of another 350m of the road. I understand that we are currently discussing this part of the reinstatement request with the council to reach agreement.  If this work goes ahead, it will happen after 18th February once the bridge has been re-opened.

Goldhawk Road 

We are installing an additional valve in Goldhawk Road to add more resilience to the network there. The work is progressing and should be complete on Sunday.  Once this is complete, the reinstatement work and trial hole work will commence and we anticipate that this will be complete on Thursday 15th February.”

H&F still in the slow lane for Superfast Broadband

Last year I wrote about how 6,600 homes in Hammersmith and Fulham were denied Superfast Broadband (defined as a minimum speed of 30 Megabits per second).  The problem at the time was a petty dispute between the Council and BT Openreach over the correct amount to charge for the street works for cabling for the fibre broadband to the new Cabinets. That has now been resolved. Yet there remains problems in some areas.

For instance Cabinet 50 in Hammersmith (which covers Ravenscourt Place and part of Ravenscourt Road) has still been delayed. This is because it covers a relatively small number of households and so BT estimates it would struggle to recoup the cost from charging for the service (to such firms as Talk Talk and Sky as well as to BT’s own internet division.)

If Virgin had put down cable for their cable TV service that would provide an alternative. But they haven’t – at least not yet. Some streets have both service providing welcome competition. But I’m afraid that there are still too many with neither.

Meanwhile the Council has given contradictory messages about whether it could or would provide a subsidy via Section 106 payment to resolve the matter. But BT Openreach say they couldn’t take the money as it would break EU procurement rules on state aid. It is also rather confusing for the Council to be both demanding an extra charge for road works and then offering a handout to make the figures add up. During all this dithering and buck passing residents have been getting ever more exasperated.

Anyway the good news is that I understand Hammersmith BID, a group representing local businesses, have agreed to pick up the tab – £9,268 – for BT Openreach to go ahead for Cabinet 50. If confirmed it will still take them six months or so to do the work.

The Government have been pushing BT to get on with it. There was a target of 95 per cent of premises to be able to receive Superfast broadband by the end of last year. That was (just) reached. It is due to reach 98 per cent by 2020.  It is expected there will then be a “universal service obligation” so those who still have broadband speeds below 10 Megabits per second will have a “right to request” although if the cost of setting it up is above a certain amount they would have to pay.

One could understand it would be a bit tricky if you lived on the top of a hill in some remote area. But it is exasperating to have this trouble in Hammersmith and Fulham.

The website Think Broadband keeps track of progress by different areas. In Hammersmith and Fulham our Superfast Broadband coverage is 95.2 per cent. That is below the London average of 96.8 per cent.  Consider our neighbouring boroughs. Hounslow is 99.1 per cent. Wandsworth is 98.2 per cent. Kensington and Chelsea is 98.1 per cent. Brent is 98.2 per cent.

Why are thousands more of our households being left behind?

My colleague Cllr Mark Loveday has been pursuing the matter. He has asked for it to be brought before the Finance & Delivery Policy & Accountability Committee again due to the failure to make better progress. I hope that the Council agrees to the request and representatives from BT Openreach and Virgin will attend.



Alley by Ravenscourt Park tube to be repaired

The alley which runs between Ravenscourt Place and Dalling Road is an important route to Ravenscourt Park tube station. But it is in poor condition. It is not part of the public highway but is the responsibility of Transport for London.

I asked our London Assembly member Tony Devenish to pursue the matter and he has been sent the following positive response from TfL:

“Our maintenance team have looked into this and intend to carry out minor repairs to the surface of the footpath and install measures to deter motor cycles.  Work is scheduled for completion by early summer.”


Let’s replace the missing tree in Cromwell Avenue

Cromwell Avenue is off King Street just along from the Town Hall. It has a splendid line of trees. But it could be even better. There is a missing tooth. When will it be replaced?

The Council’s Principal Arboricultural Officer says:

“A decayed Plane tree was removed in 2006 from the central planter. This was not replaced because the row of nine remaining mature trees still provided substantial cover. Clearly, in the future if more trees are removed we will need to consider a replacement strategy to ensure continuing tree cover.”

We should not wait. Let’s come up with a strategy to plant a replacement tree now.