Victory! New trees planted on the Bayonne Estate

I have written before about the Council’s poor record in street tree planting in recent years.  In particular residents on council estates are treated as second class citizens with dead trees not being replaced and obvious spots for new trees being ignored. I am pursuing the matter.

But I am pleased to report news of a small victory on the Bayonne Estate where after I undertook some persistent lobbying on behalf of local residents some new trees have now been planted. Hurrah!

Three new trees at corner of Ancill Close and Crefeld Close. Alder, birch and unknown. Joining the chestnut tree planted in 2012

Three new trees at corner of Ancill Close and Crefeld Close. Alder, birch and unknown. Joining the chestnut tree planted in 2012

One of two new birch trees in Crefeld Close. (There had been a tree here previously which died.)

One of two new birch trees in Crefeld Close. (There had been a tree here previously which died.)


H&F Council’s energy bill increases to £3.55 million a year

This financial year Hammersmith and Fulham Council estimates that its energy bill will be £3.548 million. That is an increase of £76,900 on 2013/14 when there was a Conservative Council and the energy bill was £3.472 million. That is despite all the talk of cuts, staff reduction and greater efficiency.

Windsor and Maidenhead Council achieved reductions in their energy bill by making their smart metering information public on their website in real time. The Conservatives planned to follow this example in H&F but Labour are not proceeding. “We do not at this stage make this data public,” the Council’s Strategic Finance Director tells me.

I was only two weeks ago at a Council meeting that the Labour councillors declared climate change “one of the greatest threats facing the world” and accepted the Council’s “duty” to “take actions to protect and improve the environment”. Since then we have had news of them spending £250,000 a year more on printing and slashing the tree planting programme.

They can table virtue signalling motions but their record on the environment is a disgrace.

H&F Council slashes street tree planting programme

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Arboricultural Officer has provided the figure’s for the planting of new street trees by the Council in recent years.

100 were planted in 2013/14 when the Conservatives were running the Council. In 2014/15, Labour’s first year it fell to 59. In 2015/16 it was 23. In the current financial year – 2016/17  – the total is expected to be 24.

When it comes to Council estates they haven’t even been replacing all the dead trees – something I have been challenging them over via the Council’s housing scrutiny committee.

Incidentally in 2013/14 there was Section 106 funding that paid for 29 of the new street trees. This year that funding is only paying for five of them. Labour have made all sorts of claims to have negotiated extra Section 106 money. Where is it?

H&F Council increases its annual printing bill by a quarter of a million pounds – to £1.48 million

This week Labour councillors in Hammersmith and Fulham claimed to be concerned about climate change.

Also this week I obtained figures on the Council’s printing bill. Last year it was £1.455 million – which is up £236,000 on the previous year. In this financial year it is projected to be higher still at £1.477 million. Of course there is an environmental cost as well. No doubt in 2017/18 the Council will spend even more of our money on boastful propaganda in the run up to the local elections next year. There will be yet more glossy brochures supporting Labour’s flawed and unwanted proposals for stock transfer of the council housing.  There will be more paper churned out from new units, commissions, task forces, panels, working parties, czars and champions.

Perhaps some of the vast CO2 emissions wasted on all this will include documents assuring us about just how serious the Council is about tackling climate change.

Council refuses to allow residents a choice on killer humps

Road humps were brought in with the claim they would save lives. But instead they cost lives. Last week the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said “smooth” driving would cut air pollution, linked to 25,000 deaths a year in England.”

The NICE report follows an earlier one from Imperial College which “found that in one north London street with a speed limit of 20mph and fitted with road humps, a petrol driven car produced 64 per cent more Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) than in a similar 20mph street fitted with road cushions. It also produced 47 per cent more Particulate Matter  (PM) and nearly 60 per cent more Carbon Monoxide (CO2) emissions.”

Another report from the University of York said humps should be removed from outside schools and playgrounds.

Yet the Council refuses to even allow residents a choice about removing humps when roads are resurfaced.

Nick Boyle, the Council’s Chief Transport Planner tells me:

“We shall be reviewing the published NICE consultation guidelines in due course, with colleagues.

1. No humps have been installed or removed in the last two years.

2. No consultation to remove humps is currently undertaken during resurfacing.”

Thames Water plans huge spending on a disruptive scheme that would not stop flooding

owenA guest post from Owen Biggs.

As I live in West Kensington. I am due to be deluged with the noise, pollution, dust, dirt and inconvenience should Thames Water start a £169+ million pound project to build a new sewer link. An inspection shaft located yards from my front door means more than two years of having lorries driving past my front door and at periods 24 x 7 drilling works.

I find it rather ironic that this summer when we had substantial amounts of rainfall in a relatively small period; I believe the figures were a month rain in three days, there were only two or three properties flooded in  Hammersmith and Fulham.

To fit a one way valve to protect these properties from flooding costs about £3,000 per household. In contrast the apparent lack of investment in a robust maintenance programme for Thames water has given us two cases of serious flooding in the last month. The latest reported in today’s papers being in Islington and the flooding of a number of businesses and million pound mansions. On the 26th November we had a similar incident where both residential and business properties were flooded and a bus fell into a sinkhole created by the burst water main on Islington High Street.

Time and again when challenged as to the need for the multi-million pound project that Thames water is about to embark on. Despite protests and resistance from the local council and many individual households immediately and obviously impacted by the proposed works. Thames Water refer to the flooding that hit the nation in 2007 and damaged hundreds of houses.This project, we are told is to safeguard against something like that happening again. Yet a closer look at the figures suggest that they do not support this approach.

To be clear. The flooding of 2007 was in the words on the Environment Agency Report “unprecedented’. To cite this as the driver for this new sewer design is to “over engineer” to some considerable degree. Let us review in a little more detail the figures surrounding the floods of summer 2007. Over 55,000 households nationwide were flooded that summer. This was due to an unprecedented level of rainfall in May and June of that year that had never  been experienced before, at least not since records began in 1766, more than 250 years earlier!

Of the 55,000 households flooded nationally only 1,300 of those were in Greater London. Details of the exact dispersion of these flooded properties is difficult to come by but I will persevere. Let us assume then that the area covered by Counters Creek proposal accounts for as much as 20% of those properties. Highly unlikely but it gives us a figure to work with.

The Ofwat report indicates that the cost of this proposal is unlikely to be less than £169 million and many expect this cost to rise. A simple division of costs then show that to address an issue that has happened only once in all recorded history by the Met Office and Environment Agency is to be levied on the customer at a minimum cost of a little under £646,154.00 per household affected. This is what I mean by cost benefit. Nor has it been determined that this additional sewer link would have the capacity to manage a a similar sustained downpour as that seen in the summer of 2007. Figures quoted are referenced from the Environment Agencies Review of the 2007 Floods.

Additional reference is made by Thames Water to an in-house survey that purports to show  1,700 properties in the borough having suffered from flooding in the last ten years though the assumptions made and conclusions reached on these figures are dubious at best. My house has been flooded twice in the last ten years. Once when the cold water header tank sprang a leak and once when a pipe burst. In neither instance would this very expensive project have averted or mitigated the damage done yet it is assumed that all 1,700 instances lend credence and support to the Counter Creek proposal.

Consider recent events in Islington and Lewisham, how would this have helped if such a scenario were to be played out in Hammersmith and Fulham? It would not!

I am currently trying to find additional information on this dataset from Thames Water as without a breakdown of causes, location, time frame etc. Little that is of worth can be drawn from these figures.

I earnestly hope that what I have been able to demonstrate here is that at present little hard evidence has been made available to support the Counters Creek proposal and it’s continuation unless facts based evidence is provided would be seen as no more than a raison d’etat.

Recent events suggest that Thames Water would be best advised to invest this money into reinforcing or reinvigorating a maintenance program that appears inadequate to the task of maintaining its current infrastructure in good and effective working order.

H&F Council refuses to join legal challenge to Heathrow third runway

In an article in The Times this morning the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says:

“Too many Londoners already have their daily lives plagued by noise pollution; Heathrow exposes more people to unacceptable noise levels than Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid airports combined. A third runway at Heathrow would mean an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 43,200 schoolchildren, suffering every day.

“And even worse, too many Londoners have to breathe air which is so polluted that it breaches the legal limit for toxic pollutants. A third runway at Heathrow would make London’s air pollution crisis even worse — risking more children growing up with stunted lungs — and it would be incompatible with the government’s legal duty to achieve and sustain legal levels of air quality.”

He’s quite right. The Mayor adds:

“I have directed Transport for London (TfL) to provide expert advice and assistance to support Greenpeace and the local councils worst affected by Heathrow — Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, Windsor and Maidenhead — as they prepare a legal challenge to stop this irresponsible decision.”

He has also indicated that the Mayor may well join the legal action.

So it is extremely disappointing that Hammersmith and Fulham Council is refusing to join the legal challenge.

Peter Smith, the Council’s Policy Manager,  tells me:

“H&F Council is opposed to the Government’s preference for a third runway at Heathrow and has previously made this position clear in its responses to consultations conducted by the Davies Commission.  The Council is not, however, enjoining in the legal challenge being brought by Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead.”

Other councils are fighting for the interests of their residents.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot Leader of Hillingdon Council said:

“I was in the High Court in March 2010 at the last JR on Heathrow expansion when the judge referred to the third runway plans as ‘untenable in law and common sense’. Six years on it is unbelievable that the current Government are promoting an expansion that is still untenable in law and common sense and it is simply not acceptable in this country. This is the first round of this legal challenge and whilst we should win by a knockout in the first round we are prepared for a long fight if necessary.”

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said:

“Heathrow expansion is incompatible with environmental legislation and the process leading up to this decision has been deeply flawed. Ministers have not listened to our warnings so we have no choice but to take legal action. The simple truth is that Heathrow is in the wrong place for a major airport and its location amplifies its damaging impacts to world beating levels. Expansion will make this dire situation much worse. An objective assessment from the High Court is bound to conclude that you can’t mitigate against such a bad location.”

Why doesn’t Hammersmith and Fulham Council have any stomach for the fight?