36,000 spring bulbs for Talgarth Road

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

A few years ago I wanted to plant some spring bulbs along the Talgarth Road at the southern end of Avonmore.  I put in a call to TfL – and managed to get through to the right person – that’s right – I managed to speak to the man whose job it is to plant spring bulbs on TfL land.  Nice job.

He came and looked at the area – and 36,000 bulbs were planted.  Thank you TfL.  Now flowering for their third time they look as good as ever.

Beside the roaring traffic, beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze:

 

A local museum for Avonmore & Brook Green?

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Most people living in the Avonmore, Brook Green, and Sinclair Road areas know that Olympia has a new owner, headed up by the Yoo Group.

Yoo Group has extensive plans for Olympia including opening it back out into its separate historic buildings with open space, trees, cafes running between the buildings and accessible by the public.  When I have met with the new owners we have also talked about opportunities for theatres, galleries, museums.  One of the ideas I am keen to push is a museum of the local area.  We have so much history beneath our feet and all around us.  Imagine if school children could visit a local museum and be encouraged to understand and appreciate the wealth of history and beauty right here?  Imagine a space that opened daily that provided a nucleus for all the local artists, archivists, and amateur historians who seek to explore and preserve our area’s past?

One of the obvious opportunities is to show some of the Cecil French Bequest.  I expect most local residents do not know that Hammersmith & Fulham Council owns some of the most important and beautiful pre-Raphaelite paintings that exist.  They were bequested to the Council by Cecil French in 1953.  Edward Burne-Jones lived just off the North End Road for many years and his home “The Grange” was a gathering place for pre-Raphaelite artists.  A local museum would honour Cecil French’s bequest and bring some of the paintings home.

As part of exploring this idea I visited Hammersmith &  Fulham’s archives which are housed nearby.  We have an extensive collection of maps, photographs, paintings, and records in storage.  All longing for a bit of air and appreciation.

Part of the Cecil French collection is currently on display at the Watts Gallery in Surrey – and Hammersmith & Fulham residents can attend for free.  Hire a bus!

 

 

 

It’s time for information and openness on CS9

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes

Residents in Avonmore & Brook Green have expressed concerns about the results of the TfL CS9 consultation – found here.  With 59% of respondents supporting the scheme it appears to be a slam-dunk to go ahead.

Yet this does not resonate with local feeling about the scheme where supporters seem to be few in number.  So where do we go from here? There are number of things that could and should happen quickly:

H&F Council needs to publish the results of its consultation on CS9

Anyone who follows politics in H&F will know that the Labour administration claims to do thing “with” residents, not “to” them. In November last year the Council agreed to accept residents’ comments on the cycle superhighway.  This year, in late January,  it held a “PAC” meeting which looked at the CS9 scheme and which the public could attend.  The report tabled is here.

Despite the huge interest in this matter, the report provided no information whatsoever on the results of the H&F consultation.  This is not doing things “with” residents – this is keeping information “from” them.   It would have been entirely possible in late January to make public the headline results from the local consultation. It would be even more possible to do so now.   This should happen quickly.

TfL needs to publish its consultation results at a more granular level

Firstly, we need to see the responses broken down by postcode. Within Hammersmith, CS9 would run through W14 and W6.  Only 18% of the respondents were from those areas – about 660 respondents.  (This leaves out those who did not identify their postcode.)   TfL should make visible the results broken down by postcode so we can see what people who live near the proposed route think of the scheme.

Secondly, we need to see the responses broken down by those who cycle and those who don’t.  65% of the respondents to the consultation said that they cycle.  This is against the fact that fewer than 5% of all road users are cyclists.   This is therefore a hugely biased response, and all credit to the cyclists for responding. But TfL needs to weight the responses so that they are proportional to the road user population – and then make that analysis publicly available.

H&F need to make public some of the more detailed objections to the scheme

I have found in Avonmore & Brook Green, that most people would like to see more cyclists on the roads and fewer cars; less congestion and cleaner air.  Who wouldn’t?  But when I meet people who have studied CS9 closely, they usually have grave concerns.  This includes many cyclists.

I quote someone (not an ABG resident) here below.  I want to see H&F’s and TfL’s responses to concerns like this:

…It must be understood that a design of this nature is unprecedented in this country. There are very few examples of two-way cycle tracks with priority over turning motor traffic, and even fewer on two-way streets with frequent side road junctions. There have been schemes on one-way roads, where junctions and turning movements are simpler … but these have suffered the safety problems experienced in other countries. There are also one or two examples of substandard junctions on the recent Cycle Superhighways in London, but generally at very quiet side roads, and certainly nowhere near the 28 side roads on the CS9 two-way track proposed for Chiswick High Road and King Street.

… I strongly urge the Council to work with TfL to re-explore the possibilities of one-way tracks on either side of the road, that are more carriageway based, possibly with light segregation from motor traffic. This is likely to be the only real way of resolving side road junction safety. The alternative is to introduce five metre long waiting areas between the cycle track and road at each junction and to ensure good visibility particularly of “wrong way” cyclists by drivers emerging from side roads. Given that this entails finding at least an additional 4-5 metres road width at each side road junction, it is unlikely to be feasible and is in any case only a mitigating measure, with some risk remaining. It also does not deal with issues of pedestrians being able to safely and intuitively cross the track on these busy high roads.

If a two-way scheme is to be progressed, I strongly urge the Council to insist that TfL fully explain why the public consultation design diverges from their own safety standards and provide a full safety analysis and risk assessment prior to any further design work. … This is particularly pertinent on King Street because over 90% of cycling collisions occur at or very close to the junctions.   

H&F Labour needs to clarify its position on CS9 before the elections in May
Residents deserve to know what they are voting for.  The Conservatives have made clear that they will not support CS9 in its current form.  Voters in LBHF need to know where Labour stands.

Tom Ryland RIP

Very sad to hear that Tom Ryland, the Chairman of the Hammersmith Society, has died.

Melanie Whitlock, the Vice Chairman of the Society has written to members to say:

“It is with great sadness that I have to report the news of the death of our Chairman, Tom Ryland RIBA.  Tom died peacefully on 9th March in Hammersmith Hospital.

It is hard to imagine the Hammersmith Society without Tom.  He had been on the Committee for many years, and Vice Chairman for some twelve years, before becoming Chairman nearly three years ago – a role to which he brought his knowledge as an architect, a lively interest in local affairs and a belief that it was always possible to do things better. His wisdom, and his calm, balanced approach to planning issues were an immense asset to the community. Working with Tom was always a pleasure. He was unflappable, interested, sociable, kind, and had a wonderful quiet sense of humour. He had a great gift for getting people on his side, and committee meetings with him at the helm were enjoyable affairs. He will be hugely missed by the very many people across the wide range of activities he gave his time to. We extend our thoughts and all our sympathy to his wife Liz and all his family.

A more detailed appreciation of Tom’s contribution to the Society will be included in our April Newsletter.

A service of thanksgiving will be held on 21 April at 12.00 at St Peter’s Church, W6 9BE. Donations in Tom’s memory may be made to The Blood Fund, which supports the Haematology Department at Hammersmith Hospital: http://www.imperialcharity.org.uk/the-blood-fund.”

Labour’s scaremongering about Charing Cross hospital undermines democracy

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Last week local residents started contacting me because they had received a Labour election leaflet claiming that the Conservatives plan to “bulldoze” Charing Cross Hospital.  The leaflet depicted Conservatives as the Grim Reaper – a bringer of death.  The depiction of Conservatives as the grim reaper is deeply offensive to myself and my colleagues.  So much for Labour promising kinder and gentler politics.

Below I have set out an update on Charing Cross hospital and present our commitment to local residents on Charing Cross Hospital.  But please bear with me while I make two more comments on the Labour leaflet.

Labour’s Leaflet scares vulnerable people and undermines democracy.

Firstly, some people have contacted me as a result of this leaflet, actually scared that the hospital might close.  These are people who use the hospital and are scared about what they would do  – some of them, older and vulnerable people.  The fact that Labour is happy to casually scare people like this, in order to win votes, is in my view, callous.  So much for concern for vulnerable individuals.

Secondly, if local parties don’t stick to the truth, and enable voters to make up their own mind about the different parties’ policies and priorities then you don’t really have a democracy.  Misrepresenting your political opponents with such a cavalier disregard for the truth undermines democracy.  And where do we go from there?

Most recent update on Charing Cross Hospital

This dates from January this year and is an official presentation made by the “Imperial College HealthCare NHS Trust” to local council authorities.

Please read the detail here starting page 14/15.  I would be pleased to hear your thoughts on all the detail. Some important quotes:

“We have recently seen some of our largest ever investments in new facilities and equipment at Charing Cross Hospital, much of which has been made possible by the support of Imperial Health Charity… 

Over the past 18 months, some £6 million has been spent on major new developments including: Riverside theatres; main outpatient clinics; a new acute medical assessment unit; our first patient service centre; and the main new facility for North West London Pathology.

In addition, we are spending almost another £8 million on replacing imaging equipment and installing two state-of-the-art LINAC radiotherapy machines so we can provide the most advanced cancer treatments…

As part of our investment in urgent and emergency care services and theatres at Charing Cross, we have co-located our acute medicine beds on the ground floor of the hospital, near to the A&E department, and closer to the imaging department. This has enabled medical patients to be admitted more quickly.

In addition, we are currently working up a multi-million pound refurbishment and expansion of the A&E department at Charing Cross, to begin in the early part of 2018. The likely timescales however, mean that the improvements will impact after the current winter period…

The Trust and local commissioners… have put a hold on subsequent work to engage patients and the public in the development of detailed plans for Charing Cross due to increasing demand for acute hospital services…

A commitment to not progress plans to reduce acute capacity at Charing Cross unless and until we could achieve a reduction in acute demand was formalised in the North West London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) published in 2016 …”

Our commitment to you on Charing Cross Hospital

Firstly, we commit to bringing you accurate and sourced information.    We will monitor Imperial Trust’s reports and publications and get relevant items out to you.

Secondly, we will consult you.  I think the Cycle Superhighway planned for Hammersmith is an good example of our approach here.  Our first leaflet on this matter was entirely neutral and simply pointed local residents to the information – something TfL with their huge budgets had largely failed to do.  We spent many hours leafleting local streets simply to get information to local people so they could make up their own minds.

Thirdly, we will represent you.  If and when Imperial Trust comes out with a new round of proposals and consultation we will be led by what local people think.  It is entirely evident to all of us that residents regard our local hospitals as hugely important.  But the details of any plans are also important and we will seek to transmit to you these details, and then to understand, and then represent your views.

Above all, I expect almost everyone reading this and all the local Conservatives will fight to retain, upgrade, and improve our local hospitals.

Thank you for reading and all comments and feedback, as ever, appreciated.  Email me at carolineffiske@gmail.com.

Decluttering update – removing “safety” barriers saves lives

There was an interesting report in The Times recently which said:

“More pedestrian barriers could be stripped away from roadsides after a study found railings can actually increase accidents by lulling pedestrians into a false sense of security.

Researchers said the number of pedestrians killed and seriously injured was cut by 56 per cent in areas where roadside railings were ripped out.

It was argued that motorists slowed down and were more vigilant on roads without barriers. Drivers were less likely to drive with “tunnel vision” where there was a heightened risk of pedestrians stepping out into the road, it emerged. The conclusions come after councils across the country started removing barriers used to separate streets from pavements a decade ago.

They have been taken out to declutter high streets, create more pedestrian space and prevent cyclists being crushed against them by turning lorries. It has prompted concerns over safety in some areas, with fears that pedestrians can easily step into the path of oncoming cars.

However, new analysis by Transport for London (TfL) showed that ripping out barriers in the capital has improved levels of safety and led to fewer casualties. The study analysed 70 stretches of road and compared accident rates three years before and three years after railings were removed.

It found that only 19 serious injuries or deaths were recorded at the sites involving pedestrians, compared with 43 before barriers were removed – a drop of 56 per cent.

In the report, Sam Wright, a TfL engineer responsible for the railings removal programme, wrote: “Railings can sometimes give drivers ‘tunnel vision’ and a feeling that pedestrians are safely tucked behind them.

“Without the railings people tend to cross in more locations on an ‘ad hoc’ basis. Rather than this being more dangerous, the feeling that pedestrians could step out from anywhere appears to make drivers slow down and pay more care and attention.

“In addition the railings caused some pedestrians to become trapped in the road, taking longer to reach the safety of the footway. Removing them means they now actually spend less time in the road. As a result, junctions and crossings are safer without railings.”

I asked the Council for their comments and the Council’s Projects and Development Manager has replied as follows:

“I attach for your information the report referred to in The Times.

We have been removing guard railing for some years now, with about 1.6 km of guard railing removed since we started keeping records of decluttering in 2010.

There have been a number of reports and studies which support this approach. That is not to say that removal of all guard railing is safe and we make judgements on a site by site basis, usually as part of a wider scheme that we are implementing. For example, the two photographs from Goldhawk Road show some of our decluttering work at the first stage of the wider Shepherd’s Bush Town Centre (West) scheme.”

Why do councils and housing associations throw away good quality curtains and furniture?

An interesting report from Orbit Housing Association. They have undertaken a pilot where “all furnishings, flooring and window coverings” in good condition left behind by old tenants are
offered to the new tenants.

Orbit says this saves money for them as well as the new tenants.

The report says:

  • Retain good quality flooring and window coverings in properties and gift them to incoming customers at the time of re-letting
  • Provide furniture packs for those who are struggling financially
  • Promote affordable and accessible alternatives to high street lenders and weekly payment retailers
  • Ensure all properties are secure, including access to and from communal blocks and communal areas are well maintained

Poverty leaves many people living in social housing little means of buying decent, essential furnishings for their home. Across the UK, less than 2% of social housing stock is furnished despite furnished tenancies topping tenants’ priorities for social landlords to tackle their financial exclusion . Research shows that 47% of social tenants want landlords to provide furniture directly and a further 36% would like help with furniture in some way.

Historically across the sector, all furnishings, flooring and window coverings are removed from a property regardless of quality when a customer moves out and the property becomes void.

In January 2017, we ran a pilot project in Stratford-upon-Avon, which tested the process and impact of leaving good quality floor and window coverings in our properties. This included carpets, laminate floors, tiled floors, blinds and curtains.

Under the pilot, a visual inspection was undertaken by the Property Services team and if they deemed the item to be in good condition, customers were given the choice as to whether they would like to retain them. If the answer is yes, Orbit would ensure that the items were professionally cleaned and left for the incoming customer. The customer was asked to sign a form gifting them the items. Positive impact Over the course of the 12 month pilot, 47 customers benefited from gifted items, with the median replacement value in the region of £500.

Here’s what some of our customers had to say:

  • “Nice gesture of Orbit and makes you want to look after the place and take care of it.”
  • “When the housing officer said that we could keep furnishings it was a huge weight off our shoulders.”
  • “I am pretty chuffed…it makes a huge difference and [moving in] a lot less stressful.”

There are clear cost and time savings from a reduced workload on the Property Services team. For a typical three bed property, the savings amount to around £200. There has also been no negative impact on void turnaround times. Following its success, this process has now been rolled out across all Orbit operating areas. This is a small change in process which has a huge, beneficial impact on both customers and the business.”

I have asked Hammersmith and Fulham Council if we could follow this example.

Of course it is something for other housing associations to pursue as well. I remember that when Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association had some flats in Hamlet Gardens residents were dismayed with the frequency with which virtually new mattresses were dumped outside whenever a tenancy changed.

If Westminster Council can tackle “idling” why can’t H&F?

Local residents complain that lorries being used for the building work on the Sovereign Court development are routinely leaving their engines running while parked in Glenthorne Road. This practice is known as “idling”. Under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 the law states that is an offence to idle your engine unnecessarily when stationary.

But Hammersmith and Fulham Council doesn’t seem to do much about it.

Westminster Council has introduced £80 Penalty Charge Notice for “idling”. The main point about it is a deterrent. Only around 20 fines have been issued but that is because of the 20,000 drivers approached by “air marshals” the overwhelming majority have readily agreed to switch off their engines. I have asked Hammersmith and Fulham Council if we have any plans to do the same.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has had an “Air Quality Commission”. In evidence to it one local resident David Cashman wrote:

“I am a 73 year old resident of Askham Court Sheltered Housing scheme. My flat is directly opposite the newly built Queensmill School for children with autism in Askham Road, W12. Children are brought to the school from a wide area in Ford diesel mini-buses in the morning and collected again mid-afternoon. Ten or more buses queue in Askham Road for up to 20 minutes to enter the school forecourt to drop-off and pick-up the children (see attachments). Most drivers run their vehicle engines on idle while they wait, regardless of seasonal temperatures. I endeavored to make school forecourt staff aware of both the illegality of idling vehicals while stationary and the possible adverse health effects on the children and others from inhaling diesal/nitrogen dioxide fumes. I gave them a print-out of the Air Quality Commission post of 11th August 2015 on the H&F website which declared the Council’s determination to tackle the ‘deadly problem of air pollution’ in the borough.

As a result of that action I was introduced to a HATS bus company supervisor who assured me that drivers would be instructed to follow correct procedure to switch off engines while stationary outside the school. My intervention has had no effect. Drivers continue to idle their vehicles.

On their website HATS state, ‘all vehicles are LEZ compliant… we are working toward the latest Euro 5 emission standard’. I understand that the World Health Organization has classified diesel exhaust as carcinogenic and that there is no safe level for humans. In the light of this statement I am concerned for the health of the children in the mornings aboard buses that are parked tight behind each other and where exhaust fumes could be entering vehicle cabs. I am also concerned about the general level of pollution and its effect on my fellow elderly sheltered housing residents as well as other people in my neighborhood.

I would like to bring the situation described above to the attention of the Commission and also request an urgent investigation to establish whether the circumstances in Askham Road require immediate action by H&F Council. I notice that H&F Council do not have dedicated enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002 to drivers who ignore requests to turn off stationary engines. I urge the Commission to recommend the introduction of enforcement officers. Their presence would have ensured an immediate solution to the idling problem in Askham Road. I look forward to your response.”

An idling engine can produce up to twice as many exhaust emissions as an engine in motion.

Research has shown that air pollution is a “particular concern for child health, as it can stunt lung growth and affect lung capacity”.

Matters were made much worse by Gordon Brown’s disastrous 2001 Budget which encouraged motorists to switch from petrol to diesel – the result of the EU being lobbied by vested interests.

Anyway it’s all very well for the Council to virtue signal, set up commissions and say it is “listening” to these concerns. But we need action. Clean air not hot air!

As I’ve noted before at present the the £22 million Public Health budget is largely wasted. Why not employ a few “air marshals”? Why not provide them with the power to impose a penalty of those who refuse to stop poisoning us and our children?

 

 

 

H&F Council STILL refuses to resurface Bassein Park Road

Over a year ago I wrote about the shocking state of Bassein Park Road.

After much lobbying they agreed to do so. But quite astonishingly have changed their mind – on the grounds that it is unnecessary.

I have written to the Council’s Highways Director:

“As you will know the Council agreed to resurface the pavement and road in Bassein Park Road. The replacement of the pavement is proceeding which is appreciated. However I am dismayed that resurfacing the road has been delayed.

The Planned Maintenance Manager says: “The carriageway did not reach a sufficiently poor condition rating to be prioritised on the 2017/18 or 2018/19 planned maintenance programmes, as it did not meet the intervention level for renewal within the currently available resources for planned maintenance. Therefore, there is no work programmed for the carriageway.”

Several residents have contacted me to register their objections to this extraordinary decision.

As you can see from the attached photographs (I can send many more) the road is in a shocking state.

When was the road last resurfaced? I am told it was over 20 years ago.

Signs have been put up at the two ends of Wendell Road that that street is to be resurfaced on 15-16 March. Yet the surface appears to be in better condition than the one in Bassein Park Road.

Please would you urgently review this matter and give instructions for Bassein Park Road to be resurfaced at the earliest possible opportunity in line with what was agreed.”

You decide. Here are a few the pictures: