Slow rollout of Superfast Broadband in H&F due to petty dispute

Cllr Mark Loveday

The Council’s Finance and Delivery Policy and Accountability Committee last night included an item I had requested Superfast Broadband rollout across the borough and was attended by a representative from BT Openreach.

Given the high density of our borough we should be leading the way – yet we are below the London average. 94.3 per cent of our properties have access to Superfast Broadband in London overall it is 95.3 per cent.

BT Openreach had plans to roll it out to another 6,600 homes in Hammersmith and Fulham, which is in fact only 20 street cabinets. They have, however, formally suspended any further rollout as a result of a dispute with the Council. The dispute relates to the Council’s categorisation of the street works which are required to provide the cabling for the cabinets. This in turn depends on the interpretation of the New Roads and Street Works Act.

The Council says the works would be major works, which require a certain period of notice and a fee of £326, whilst Openreach say they are standard works, which would require a few days’ notice and a fee of £130. On non-traffic sensitive streets the fee difference is even less (£223 for major works and £75 for standard works). It therefore comes down to a monetary difference of less than £4,000 and a dispute about principle (which both sides say would set a precedent for other utility companies or for other boroughs).

The Committee expressed its frustration about the fact that 6,600 homes were going without access to fibre broadband because of this pretty pathetic dispute. Both sides agreed to talk about it further. More significantly, they both agreed with a suggestion from Cllr Mark Loveday that they should consider mediation if it could not be resolved quickly.



Staying fit in Fulham this Winter

gomammA guest post from Scott Flear of Go Mammoth.

Winter is here which means many of us will be spending more time indoors.

With many awesome things to do over London and Fulham this Winter, it mostly consists of indulging in good food and drink.

Here’s a list of sporting activities both in and outdoor than you can do this winter.

Netball in Parsons Green

Leagues run on Monday and Tuesdays here for Netball. Most leagues are ladies leagues but there is a mixed league if the boys want to join in on some netball fun.

Click here to view Netball leagues in Fulham.

Basketball in Fulham & Chelsea

Men’s leagues run on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Chelsea academy.

Basketball is a great way of getting some indoor fitness done whilst it’s cold and/or raining outside.

Leagues cater for intermediate and recreational players, you can join as an individual or a team.

5 A Side Football in Fulham & Chelsea

You can join a men’s league or mixed league and all games are played on Mondays.

Wednesdays and Thursdays at Chelsea Academy.

This is a very cool outdoor venue with netting around the entire pitch. Always great to get a run around in the outdoors on a crisp winter night. There are many other 5 a side London leagues to choose from too.

Boxfit in Hammersmith

Stay fit with a boxfit class in Hammersmith at Westside school.

Boxfit is becoming increasingly popular as it’s very easy to do and pick up. The instructors are great and the classes are on 7-8pm on Mondays. Great way to start the week during this Winter!

Insanity in Hammersmith

Insanity is now world popular. It’s an intense class that will get you sweating.

If you’re looking for a change from the gym or want to test yourself then head down the Insanity class at Westside school at 6.45pm on Thursdays. You’ll thank us when you go into the festive season the healthiest you’ve been for a while!

Corporate Fitness & Wellness

There is no denying that over the festive season the office environment becomes a snack frenzy.

Chocolate, drinks, cakes, sweets and more.

You can now also get fitness classes and sports games come straight to your offices.

Get your HR manager or owner to get in touch and they can set up multiple wellness activities for you over the festive season. Balance is key!

If you know of any other indoor/outdoor social sports events or classes etc in the area, let us know so we can keep you all updated with things to do to stay fit this winter!

Will H&F Council take a Business Rates windfall while more shops are forced to close?

Property values in London (especially closer to the centre) have for years been increasing faster than the rest of the country. This means that a revaluation of Business Rates will results in higher bills in Hammersmith and Fulham – while bills will fall in, for example, Yorkshire and the north east of England.

We don’t yet know what the transitional arrangements will be. It is expected the changes will be phased in over a number of years. Nor do we yet know the impact on council finances. Initially the money is likely to be redistributed among councils so there won’t be much impact. However it is likely in the coming years Hammersmith and Fulham Council will be able to keep a growing share of Business Rates revenue.

Hitesh Jolapara, the Council’s Finance Director tells me:

“Initial figures from the Valuation Office show a 36% increase in rateable values for Hammersmith and Fulham.‎ The increase is not uniform. It will vary according to different property types, such as commercial or retail, and location and by rateable values The government are consulting on transitional arrangements that cap the level of increase in any one year. It is also not yet known what the change will be in the business rates multiplier (the rates payable is based on the rateable value x the business rates multiplier). The unknown  but potential impact on the Council finances is likely to be an increase in appeals. From a finance perspective detailed work is now in progress to determine the impact on businesses, on the council as a ratepayer and schools.”

A big increase in Business Rates threatens to drive more shops and pubs out of business. The Council could already use its discretion to cut this burden on small firms. But so far has refused to do so. It will be quite wrong, and in the long run self defeating, for the Council to allow itself a revenue windfall of increased revenue from Business Rates but with more and more shop fronts boarded up along our high streets.

An update on Shepherd’s Bush Market

shepmarkFurther this post last month I have been given an update by Matt Butler, Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Head of Policy & Spatial Planning.

He says:

“We have recently been approached by U+I who advise us that they are now taking over from Orion.

“U+I advise that they aim to resolve current matters with the market tenants before consulting and discussing any new proposals that may come forward.”

A note of the meeting with the Council and the Shepherds Bush Market Tenants Association says that Richard Upton of U+I..

“…advised that he would send a letter to all the market tenants introducing U+I and updating them on the current situation. He would also send a letter in both legal and layperson terms setting out how U+I intends to resolve all the outstanding issues with the tenants, as documented by the SBMTA, which will be followed by a meeting in September with the SBMTA. The aim being to resolve all issues before the end of September.  In the meantime U+I will review market issues including management , increasing appropriate diversity and footfall for the benefit of all.”

That’s fine so far as it goes.

But according to a report in the Evening Standard the number of customers has been falling rapidly. We need to crack on with an attractive, sympathetic regeneration scheme – which means a design brief specifying that traditional architecture must be used.

I would expect that new homes will be needed for a viable long term solution. It is important to get on with it – not go back to square one.

Save Hammersmith Farmers Market

HAMMERSMITH 2A guest post from Chris Elder  of City & Country Farmers Markets,  a family owned and run business which organises regular farmers’ markets and seasonal fine food and craft fairs where items are sold by the producer or artisan direct to the public.

It would mean a lot to me if you took a moment to add your name to this petition because: Hammersmith and Fulham Council want to takeover this Thursday Farmers Market that has been running very successfully for over 10 years.

They say their decision is purely commercial  – it is absolutely extraordinary that a current administration at the Town Hall want to get into the business of farmers’ markets! What do they know about farmers’ market? This market has the support of all of it’s stallholders – they do not want the council to takeover the market!

Hammersmith Market 1The market is probably the busiest and best weekday food market in London that attracts over 3,500 people every Thursday in the heart of Hammersmith Broadway in Lyric Square.

The organiser has painstakingly brought together a group of stallholders who produce some pretty fantastic food and local produce and to have this taken away will have serious implications not only for people who use the market but for areas around the country who have similar markets, if other councils decide to do the same.

The existing organiser has award winning food and craft markets that run very successfully all over London, therefore they have expertise to continue to run this market and Hammersmith and Fulham Council do not, despite what they might say.

Already the market has had great support from local councillors and businesses, therefore we urge you to sign this petition to give the market the best possible chance!

Real change happens when everyday people like you and I come together and stand up for what we believe in.  Together we can reach heaps of people and help create change around this important issue.

More variety at Brook Green Market as new traders start

Push Dhawan reports

Brook Green Market and Kitchen is your local food market with  fruit, Veg, meats, cheeses, fresh pasta, raw milk, cakes, eggs, artisan bread and so much more.  We champion British naturally grown free rang and organic meats and produce, we believe it is much healthier for you.  We want to tell you that we are expanding our range at the market to make it more of a one stop shop.  We will have fresh fish, granola, porridge and lots more fruit and veg all starting on the 19th March 2016.

unnamed(2)Perry Court Farm is joining us at the market and will be trading with us every week. It will mean we will have all the full range of fruit and veg that is available in season throughout the whole year. They will bring along everything and importantly they will have everything that you can get in winter as well as summer. This will bring much more variety to the market and will make it a one-stop shop when it comes to getting fruit and veg that is in season. You can also expect Tomatoes all year round. They also produce their own range of healthy fruit crisps that count as part of your 1 a day as well as their own juices.

The farm itself produces a huge range of salad and vegetable crops but also work with neighbouring farms to make sure they can bring all that is needed to your plate.  They don’t use any fertilisers or crop sprays at all, relying on a traditional rotation system.  So fresh produce that is delicious in taste and is natural.  One thing you will also find is that they are also very competitive with their pricing. Millets Farm will also be back as soon as asparagus is in season.
Channel Fish have already started with us last week, they actually sell the fish that they catch so you are buying direct from the fisherman.  They also sell some organic farmed fish but only from sources they know and trust.  Their Fish is less than 24 hours out of the sea, you can’t get fresher fish and they are cheaper than most fishmongers.  All their fish is caught in the English Channel in a 2-8 mile radius of Shoreham harbour where they land.  They fish using fixed nets, gill nets and lines off small day boats which means all their fish is caught sustainably.

Lastly we have The Crunch joining us, here is what they had to say: -The Granola at The Crunch is made using the finest ingredients and is slowly baked to create delicious aroma, texture and flavour.  The Crunch is a small – batch granola street food company based in Brockley.  Our unique inventions are all natural, preservative – free and have many organic ingredients. Always using local fruits and thick and tasty ”Court Lodge” yoghurt.  We serve granola with a choice of fruits, yoghurt or milk (or both!) and different syrups.

As well as fresh produce we also have street food, live music, a bar, coffee and board games so there is plenty to do for all ages and the little ones can also play on the climbing frames that we have.  We are very much a community market.

Brook Green Market and Kitchen every Saturday

10:00am to 3:00pm

Addison Primary School, Addison Gardens, W14 0DT

Labour threaten London’s tech success warns Brent Hoberman

In the Evening Standard Brent Hoberman writes:

“When my partner and I set up in 1998, Britain’s tech scene looked very different from today.

Nobody had smartphones, most businesses weren’t using email addresses, and Twitter was the sound from a bird. We started with a lot of hope and chutzpah — but could never have predicted that the tech scene here in the UK would explode like it has.

The UK now has the largest digital economy in the G20, measured by percentage of GDP: greater than China, Germany and even the home of Silicon Valley itself, the United States.

London has been right at the forefront of this change. Think of the must-have apps on your phone: Shazam, JustEat or CityMapper. These and countless other start-ups have conquered the world from their London bases. London is now the envy of Europe for its technology entrepreneurs and momentum.

He adds that low tax has helped attract business. But he warns that Labour could threaten jobs and prosperity in our capital:

“We need to continue to build on this British success story. The tech successes create a huge number of jobs, save  people money and time, helping us to enjoy life more and are important for our children’s future. They position Britain as a country with a bright and strong future.

Many entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to are worried by the attitude towards enterprise coming from the top of the Labour Party. We need people in Westminster who appreciate enterprise, who will back digital entrepreneurs and keep London’s tech sector thriving and creating new jobs. All the evidence tells us that’s the Conservatives. They’ve taken the country a long way already — and they need to see the job through.”