A guest post from Cllr Joe Carlebach, Chairman of the Hammersmith Conservative Association.
As many of you will no doubt have heard the Prime Minister has today called a General Election for the 8th June.Our country needs strong leadership and clarity of purpose at a time of great uncertainty. We should therefore all applaud the Prime Minister’s bold, courageous and brave decision to go to the country in a snap general election. It is a huge opportunity to deliver a significant Conservative majority and rid the national political stage of the madness and incompetence Labour Party once and for all.
There will be a lot of work to be done between now and 8th June to ensure that we win. We can not afford to rest on our laurels or rely on the opinion polls and the poor performance of Labour nationally.
We must go out in Hammersmith with our positive record of economic competence with consistently low inflation and some of the highest employment rates on record. Our compassion for the vulnerable, our belief and investment in strong defences to protect our nation and our hard won freedoms. Our commitment to the promotion of opportunity, ambition and social mobility.
A new and strengthened Conservative Government will be ideally positioned to strike the best possible deal as we leave the European Union. This will ensure a fair basis for trade with our friends and neighbours and safeguard the rights of the many EU nationals living in the UK and in particular in Hammersmith. It will also safeguard the rights and freedoms of the many UK citizens living in the EU. For me it is clear, only a strong Conservative Government can do this.
Labour’s uncosted, unrealistic rambling and incoherent policies would represent a disaster for our country now and in the years to come. They would be incapable of negotiating a fair and workable deal with the EU. With their party so divided itself, how are they ever going to unite our nation at this challenging time. No doubt there are many good people who have supported Labour in past elections. I am sure we can all agree that this is a seminal moment for our country. Nothing less than the future safety and prosperity of our nation is at stake. I would therefore ask you now, even if its a first for you, to vote Conservative on June 8th.
I look forward to seeing many of you out on the campaign trail, ensuring we deliver a strong, positive and compassionate Conservative Government with a large majority on 8th June 2017.
Last month the Labour Council finally abandoned their stock transfer proposals – which would have meant handing over all the council housing in the borough to a new housing assocation.
They gave the reason that the Government had refused to write off the debt. But when did they know about this?
After some delay the Council have told me:
“At a meeting on 28 January 2016 between officers of the Council and the DCLG, the latter confirmed that the traditional funding route for stock transfers by Local Authorities was no longer available.”
So a whole year of wasted money on consultants, lawyers and PR men – on a project that was unwanted anyway.
Also the costs turn out to be much higher than claimed – as the figures did not include the time spent by council staff. The Council says the project formed only “a small part of their day to day work.” Really? I have been told the time spent on it was very considerable.
Let us remember that the salaries for senior housing officers are very high. The Director of Housing Services, for instance, is paid £104,669 a year. The project has been a terrible distraction from the real priorities like improving the repairs service.
I am pleased to report considerable interest among Westcroft Square residents in switching to electric cars. This is something the Residents Association has been actively encouraging and monitoring in order to press the Council to provide the necessary charging points.
The Council’s Parking Projects and Policy Manager says:
“Thank you for the email regarding the provision of residential on-street electric vehicle (EV) charge-points in Westcroft Square. The support presented by the Westcroft Square Residents Association is welcomed and comes at a very important juncture.
LBHF intends to be at the forefront for EV charging provision and we are currently developing a network of on-street EV charge-points across the borough. We have just completed Phase 3 of this project that has delivered 83 EV charge-points in 28 locations. The closest to WestcroftSquare is in Standish Road at the junction with King Street where two charge-points are operational. We anticipate that later this year by the end of Phase 4, we will offer 160 EV charge-points across 55 locations with a charge-point within 400 metres of every residential property in the borough.
Whilst EV charging technology has come along in leaps and bounds in the past decade, it is still evolving. So for example, we are exploring rapid charging infrastructure where an 80% charge can be realised in less than 30 minutes. Installing charging points within lamp columns is another option. This technology removes the consumer metering apparatus from the charging unit and puts in into the cable provided by the consumer. The advantage being that several charging points could then be provided at minimal cost.
The announcement from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to support local highway authorities was welcomed and I contacted the Energy Saving Trust (EST) earlier this year to discuss the On-street Residential Charge-point Scheme (ORCS) in more detail. They are administering the scheme and have provided me with further information, offered guidance and will review any grant funding application that LBHF may make to the ORCS.”
Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:
In the winter of 2015 I approached TfL to see if I and local residents could plant a small number of spring bulbs on the wide grassy strip on the north side of Talgarth Road between Barons Court and West Kensington. I’m pleased I did because at that moment they were looking for a suitable site for 36,000 spring bulbs.
A week later the bulbs were planted. They did quite well in the spring of 2016, but they are even better this year. They come in waves – the small crocuses have been and gone – and in this picture (taken a week ago) most of the daffodils are still to come.
So if you can’t make it to Kew Gardens this year to see the spring flowers, take a stroll down Talgarth Road. You won’t regret it.
If you are interested in community gardening do please contact me at email@example.com.
Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:
Here come our spring bulbs in Gwendwr Rec. in Avonmore. These were planted to flower last spring and I am delighted to see them doing so well this year.
The bulbs are thanks to the Bulbs for London initiative which was launched in 2012 by the MPGA, a long established charity, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire family firm, Taylors Bulbs. Thanks to Taylors and the MPGA over 600,000 high quality spring bulbs have been distributed to around 550 parks and gardens throughout London. Taylors not only supply the bulbs free of charge, but also foot the bill for delivery.
Thanks to the scheme, at least 10,000 bulbs have so far been planted in Hammersmith. The first of these (to my knowledge) were in Marcus Garvey Park – and since then word has got out. I will be putting up pictures soon of the bulbs we planted this December.
For more details about the scheme please look up the MPGA online or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in doing some community gardening please also email me.
The latest Asylum data stats (see volume four) show that Hammersmith and Fulham Council took no further Refugees under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme in the last quarter.
So the total is still three.
Barnet has taken 37, Camden 71, Islington, 25, Richmond upon Thames, 12. Even the tiny City of London has taken seven.
I had already challenged H&F Council’s poor record when matched up to its rhetoric. I have been very disappointed that the H&F Refugees Welcome Committee, really a branch of London Citizens, has (so far) been completely uncritical of the Council’s failure. They provide an excuse and an alibi for their hypocrisy.
This is the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement is for 20,000 refugees nationally – which the Council attacked at the time it was announced for not going far enough.
Then there is the Dubs scheme. That is far more dubious as it is gives an incentive for people smuggling. That is because the Dubs scheme takes children from Europe (very often resulting in drowning in the Mediterranean) rather than the camps in Lebanon and Jordan. Others feel that despite this it is right to participate. But a recent FOI request I put in shows that the Council record is pretty feeble whatever you think of the merits of it. the Council has taken in 13 and is only offering to take in two more despite the substantial funding on offer from central Government. Of the 13 only one is in the borough – the other have been placed by the Council elsewhere.
Furthermore so far as unaccompanied asylum seeking children more generally is concerned the Council is failing to meet its quota:
“The number of UASC (non DUBS amendment) children being looked after is currently below the 0.07% figure. The 0.07% figure for Hammersmith and Fulham is 24 children.”
The upshot is that the Council is still virtue signalling. It is still putting the focus on getting publicity in the media about how caring it is – while hoping that the reality of its record will pass unnoticed.
Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:
Last night I attended the LBHF Save our Schools rally where the Labour Council committed to fight against fairness in school funding. (Labour against fairness – hurray!)
First I should explain some background to the proposed National Fair Funding Formula for schools about which the Government is currently consulting. A group of local authorities – who call themselves the F40 Group – have been lobbying for a new schools funding formula for years. The reason is that at the moment some schools receive more than £2000 per pupil, per year, less than other schools.
The authorities that have been fighting for a Fair Funding Formula are both Labour and Conservative authorities – and the F40 Group has the support of Labour and Conservative MPs. And it has the support of hundreds of Labour and Conservative councillors up and down the country.
F40 local authorities represent between them 9,000 schools – that’s 41% of schools in England – and those schools cater for 2,817,857 pupils – nearly 36% of all England’s pupils.
The Labour vice-chair of the F40 group is Vernon Coaker MP. He has said: “F40 has become an extremely important voice in education and has the respect of the government, which has listened to the group’s arguments, recognised the injustice of the system and promised to work with the poorest funded local authorities to develop a new and fairer national funding formula. I am extremely keen to be part of that discussion and look forward to having a central role in the group and fighting in Parliament for fairer funding.”
Labour MP, Vernon Coaker, and I both believe in fairness. And I am proud that a Conservative Government is leading this review.
So that is the background.
The proposed new funding formula is simple. It proposes a basic per pupil block. Then funding based on additional needs such as deprivation, low prior attainment, and English as an additional language. Then additional funding based on the schools circumstances such as sparsity and split sites. Then an uplift for additional area costs. For London that is known as the Area Cost Adjustment.
What is great about the formula is that it is simple and that it is transparent. It provides the framework – and the relevant variables – around which we can go forward and debate truly fair funding for schools. Here it is:
Turning now to Hammersmith & Fulham – and indeed London schools. At the moment London schools are looking like they will lose out under the proposed formula because of the weightings given to different factors. The maximum loss will be 3% of funding. But this is coming at the same time as other funding pressures on schools.
As a Conservative involved in education I am extremely proud of the Conservative’s record on education. Last week when I saw Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, I spoke to her about my concerns around the wider funding pressures and I will continue to do this at every opportunity.
Going forward I encourage educators and parents in Hammersmith & Fulham to look at the proposed funding formula here (see the Executive Summary):
And to consider responding via the survey. We should all look very carefully at the weightings given to the “additional needs funding”. (For example, in my daughter’s Y3 class, amongst eleven girls there are at least six first languages spoken.) And to the area cost adjustments that need to address the disproportionate cost of living and recruiting in London.
At the meeting last night I proposed that people looked carefully at these factors and that the most effective way to respond to the consultation is likely to be around these factors. Cllr Fennimore dismissed this idea as encouraging “pro-forma” responses. Dennis Charman instead suggested that people just reject the commitment to fair funding as a bad idea(!). H&F Labour Councillors advice was that people should ~ “email and tweet” the relevant Conservative MPs. They also asked people to submit their email addresses to be kept informed about further activity. I was very disappointed at this lack of seriousness. To use his own words, perhaps Cllr Steve Cowan is simply “email harvesting”.