“I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay” – Theresa May’s letter to EU citizens in the UK

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am proud that more than three million EU citizens have chosen to make your homes and livelihoods here in our country.

I greatly value the depth of the contributions you make – enriching every part of our economy, our society, our culture and our national life. I know our country would be poorer if you left and I want you to stay.

So from the very beginning of the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union I have consistently said that protecting your rights – together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries – has been my first priority.

You made your decision to live here without any expectation that the UK would leave the EU. So I have said that I want you to be able carry on living your lives as before.

But I know that on an issue of such significance for you and your families, there has been an underlying anxiety which could only be addressed when the fine details of some very complex and technical issues had been worked through and the foundations for a formal agreement secured.

‘When we leave the European Union, you will have your rights written into UK law.’

So I am delighted that in concluding the first phase of the negotiations that is exactly what we have achieved.

The details are set out in the Joint Report on progress published on Friday by the UK government and the European Commission.
When we leave the European Union, you will have your rights written into UK law. This will be done through the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill which we will bring forward after we have completed negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement itself.

Your rights will then be enforced by UK courts. Where appropriate, our courts will pay due regard to relevant ECJ case law, and we have also agreed that for a period of eight years – where existing case law is not clear – our courts will be able to choose to ask the ECJ for an interpretation prior to reaching their own decision. So as we take back control of our laws, you can be confident not only that your rights will be protected in our courts, but that there will be a consistent interpretation of these rights in the UK and in the European Union.

We have agreed with the European Commission that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members, covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you already have five years of continuous residence in the UK at the point we leave the EU – on 29 March 2019 – you will be eligible for settled status. And if you have been here for less than five years you will be able to stay until you have reached the five year threshold.

As a result of the agreement we have reached in the negotiations, with settled status, your close family members will be free to join you here in the UK after we have left the EU. This includes existing spouses, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents, as well as children born or adopted outside of the UK after 29th March 2019.

Your healthcare rights, pension and other benefit provisions will remain the same as they are today. This means that those of you who have paid into the UK system – and indeed UK nationals who have paid into the system of an EU Member State – can benefit from what you have put in and continue to benefit from existing co-ordination rules for future contributions.

We have also agreed to protect the rights of those who are in a cross-border situation at the point of our withdrawal and entitled to a UK European Health Insurance Card. This includes, for example, tourists for the duration of their stay, students for the duration of their course and UK nationals resident in another EU Member State.

The agreement we have reached includes reciprocal rules to protect existing decisions to recognise professional qualifications – for example for doctors and architects. And it also enables you to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing your settled status – more than double the period allowed under current EU law.

There will be a transparent, smooth and streamlined process to enable you to apply for settled status from the second half of next year. It will cost no more than applying for a passport. And if you already have a valid permanent resident document you will be able to have your status converted to settled status free of charge.

We are also working closely with Switzerland and EEA Member States to ensure their citizens in the UK also benefit from these arrangements.

I have spent many hours discussing these issues with all of the other 27 EU leaders over the last eighteen months as well as with President Juncker, President Tusk and the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier. I am confident that when the European Council meets later this week it will agree to proceed on this basis. And I will do everything I can to ensure that we do.

So right now, you do not have to do anything at all. You can look forward, safe in the knowledge that there is now a detailed agreement on the table in which the UK and the EU have set out how we intend to preserve your rights – as well as the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries. For we have ensured that these negotiations put people first. That is what I promised to do and that is what I will continue to do at every stage of this process.

I wish you and all your families a great Christmas and a very happy New Year.

It’s official. H&F residents who are citizens of other EU member states VERY welcome to stay

To be honest there was never really any genuine doubt about it. But now it is official. The 37,000 residents of Hammersmith and Fulham who are citizens of other EU member states will be very welcome to stay after Brexit.

The Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU resolves:

“to provide reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights by the specified date.”

The “specified date” is the day the UK leaves the EU.

The deal refers to “Union citizens who in accordance with Union law legally reside in the UK, and UK nationals who in accordance with Union law legally reside in an EU27 Member State by the specified date, as well as their family members”. It goes well beyond the right to remain – it also include strong and detailed safeguards against any discrimination.

It will protect the current rights of spouses, registered partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and a person in a durable relationship, who do not yet live in the same State as the Union citizen or the United Kingdom national, to join them in the future:

“Irrespective of their nationality, the following categories of family members who were not residing in the host State on the specified date will be entitled to join a Union citizen or UK national right holder after the specified date for the life time of the right holder, on the same conditions as under current Union law:

a. all family members as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2004/38/EC, provided they were related to the right holder on the specified date and they continue to be so related at the point they wish to join the right holder; and

b. children born, or legally adopted, after the specified date, whether inside or outside the host State, where:

i. the child is born to, or legally adopted by, parents who are both protected by the Withdrawal Agreement or where one parent is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and the other is a national of the host State;

or ii. the child is born to, or legally adopted by, a parent who is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and who has sole or joint custody of the child under the applicable family law of an EU27 Member State or the UK and without prejudging the normal operation of that law, in particular as regards the best interests of the child.”

So will all the scaremongering now cease?

After the referendum Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader stated:

“We will do everything we can to ensure all of the borough’s EU residents feel as welcome today, and each day thereafter, as they did yesterday.”

So why hasn’t the welcomed the breakthrough – as the Leader of Wandsworth Council has.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“I welcome the apparent U-turn from Theresa May on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and British citizens living in the EU. I will pore over the details of this over the coming days because there needs to be clear and unambiguous reassurance to the three million EU citizens in Britain –  one million of whom are Londoners – that they can stay, and that they’ll have automatic full rights.”

Pretty disgraceful for two reasons. First of all the “apparent U-turn” implied that Theresa May had previously be opposed to allowing citizens of other EU states to remain. Secondly the Mayor implies that the agreement fails to give “clear and unambiguous reassurance” – what is his basis for saying that? After the “coming days” he should put up or shut up. Let him specify how the agreement could have been any more “clear and unambiguous” – or otherwise give it “clear and unambiguous” welcome.

What about the borough’s MPs?

Greg Hands, the Minister for London and MP for Chelsea and Fulham is pretty clear:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

But what about Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith? Only on Thursday he tweeted:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Here was the exchange he refers to:

“Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab)

When are we going to have a statement on the rights of EU nationals, particularly Irish citizens, many of whom have lived in this country for decades? Even if the Government cannot sort out anything else on EU withdrawal, please may we have a statement on this matter, which is causing anxiety to millions of people?

Andrea Leadsom

I am surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman seek that reassurance. The Prime Minister has made it very clear on numerous occasions, including in her Florence speech, that all EU citizens will be able to carry on living their lives as before. We have committed to incorporating our agreement on citizens’ rights fully into UK law.”

Then a few hours later we had the deal published. Why hasn’t Mr Slaughter welcomed it and taken the chance to spread the reassuring news to his constituents?

Could it be that some Labour politicians actually don’t really welcome the news as before the official clarification they felt they exploit the anxieties for political gain?

Another paradox is that while the EU itself feels the protections for their citizens living here after Brexit are completely solid some of the EU’s keenest supporters feel unable to accept this.

Etre plus royaliste que le roi?

Sign our Petition opposing Cycle Super-Highway 9

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes

Transport for London opened its consultation on the Cycle Superhighway 9 (“CS9”) proposal in late September, closing it on 31 October.  The proposal involves the development of a three metre wide Cycle Superhighway from Olympia, around the top of the Hammersmith Gyratory, along King Street and Chiswick High Road and through to Brentford Town Centre.

CS9 passes through the heart of Olympia, Avonmore and Brook Green, Hammersmith, and Ravenscourt Park.  Therefore Conservative councillors representing these area have spent the last few months doing as much as we can to make sure residents know about the scheme and consultation, and seeing what they think about it.

While a local councillor can never speak to everyone or for everyone, it is safe to say that, in its current form, CS9 is very unpopular.  A huge number of local people have spent a considerable amount of time looking at the scheme in detail and sending in comments and observations.

It is also important to put on record concerns about the quality of the consultation.  Large numbers of people living near the route had no idea about the scheme. This includes many people who use Hammersmith Road as their main commuting route, and people who use King Street every week and regard it as their main local shopping and community area. It is also difficult to make head or tail of some important details of the scheme which matter for particular areas, such as where pavements will be narrowed.

A number of important concerns have been raised with us by local residents.  The most significant is the increased congestion and resulting air pollution that the scheme will cause, and the impact that this will have on local people’s health and well-being.  Air pollution is high on the agenda in local government, yet no-one has shown how this scheme along already densely congested roads will do anything but make it worse for local people.  The second concern is the congestion itself.  Whether you’re sitting in a bus or car in traffic that can’t move, walking past those queues of traffic, or living in a street that is suddenly filled with backed-up rat-runners, it is misery.   Locals have told us it can take an hour to move along Hammersmith Road from North End Road to the Gyratory – and that’s now, without CS9. It will only get worse.

Then there is the narrowing of pavements, particularly in King Street: a big ‘no’ when we are trying to make King Street a lively destination that all local people use and are proud of.   And we are all hoping it will get busier with new developments like Landmark House.  Many cyclists themselves have said that higher-speed ‘commuter’ cycling next to busy pedestrian streets like King Street will be dangerous for the cyclists as well as for pedestrians.

There are also many details which have not been thought through adequately, such as moving bus-stops that elderly people use, or removing bus lanes so that traffic will grind to a stand-still every time a bus stops.

Because of these factors, Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives are launching a petition asking the Council to withdraw its support for CS9 in its current form. We would like them to look instead at more incremental measures to improve the experience of cyclists within the borough, to continue to look at other transport improvements that will work for the benefit of everyone in the borough, and to work with TfL to find an alternative route for a major cycle superhighway.

Throughout the coming months we will continue to raise awareness of the CS9 scheme with local people, and we will compile and publish comments on our website so people can see what others are thinking.  If you have any specific comments on the scheme, please e-mail us.

If, like us, you are seeking more time, more detail, or are already concerned about aspects of the CS9 scheme, please sign our petition and forward it to any friends and family who live along the route.  Click here to sign!

Council slammed by residents for “misleading” claims over high speed broadband

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has been criticised by residents over a “misleading” statement about high speed broadband.

Cllr Mark Loveday backs their challenge and says:

“Tens of thousands of residents still won’t be getting access to Superfast Broadband – including people within a few yards of the Town Hall itself. The technical masterpiece known as BT’s ‘Cabinet 50’ (which seems to contain little more than the dashboard wiring from an Austin Allegro) is just one such example.

“Apart from Cabinet 50, BT Openreach refuse to say which residents and businesses will benefit from the new ‘deal’. Officers have guesstimated the numbers who will benefit in the press notice, but have not been given any hard details – so it’s impossible to check. I still cannot get an answer whether residents in Peterborough Road SW6, whose BT Cabinet appears to be 8 inches from the main Fulham telephone exchange, will get a fibre connection to the exchange itself. We also don’t know about residents and business with direct connections to the exchange and who are not served by BT Cabinets.

“It is not a question of technical problems, but financial viability. BT Openreach has offered to install fibre to the cabinets if residents and businesses will pay for the cost themselves.
As I understand it, the new ‘agreement’ mentioned in the press notice doesn’t actually involve the Council doing anything or putting any resource into the rollout.”

He has suggested that Section 106 funds could be used to pay the cost of the ‘left behind’ areas and achieve near 100 per cent access.

The “Men’s Shed” is a great idea

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

I love this idea of the “Men’s Shed”. Particularly if it allows older men to transfer traditional skills that they may have to a younger generation.  As well as talk, bond, and chat.  The creation of additional “shared space” that people can go to is so important in this crowded-but-can-be-lonely city.    This is from Fulham Good Neighbours:

You are cordially invited to join us at an organisational meeting for Fulham Men’s Shed on Tuesday, 7thNovember 2017 at 6PM at Rosaline Hall, 70 Rosaline Road, London, SW6 7QT

We want to help create a meeting place for local men (and women), where ‘Shedders’ can engage in wood work or other activity, or simply in putting the world to rights over a cup of tea.

The Men’s Shed movement originates in Australia and there are quite a few already established in the UK.  In the words of one ‘Shedder’: ‘From a young age, boys are taught to ignore their feelings, that emotions are a sign of weakness, and, in short, to ‘man up’. In later life, when confronted with life changes like retirement or divorce, it’s no wonder that many struggle to cope, and are faced with isolation and a loss of self-worth. This is why Men’s Sheds are absolutely vital; providing men with a sense of purpose, new friendships and encouraging talents like carpentry and metal work, skills perhaps unused for a number of years. Having an outlet like Men’s Sheds to combat negative feelings can be a life saver.’

So why not come along and bring all your mates who might be interested in taking part together with your ideas on getting the group going to:

Fulham Good Neighbours

Rosaline Hall

70 Rosaline Road

London, SW6 7QT

Tel. 020 7385 8850

Email: info@fulhamgoodneighbours.org

If you cannot make that date or this information reached you too late, please email or call Fulham Good Neighbours and they will bring you up to speed.’

Foxes: friend or foe?

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

A number of residents from around the Brook Green area have told me they are suffering from increasing nuisance from foxes.  I’ve asked the Council if it is within its remit to provide assistance and / or for other advice.  Did you know that foxes are not pests but wild animals?  Here is the Council response below.

Legally, foxes are classified as wild animals and not pests and therefore is not an issue that is dealt with by the Council’s Pest Control Service. The Council has no statutory powers or legal rights to eradicate foxes on private or other land. Any landlord of a housing block also does not have a responsibility to control foxes.

The most practical advice we offer to concerned residents involves fencing their own gardens to a standard that physically excludes foxes. It is also possible to discourage foxes by removing the various attractions that draw the foxes to some areas e.g poorly managed domestic refuse and neglected and overgrown gardens.  Residents should ensure refuse is stored in suitable containers so that it cannot provide food for any fox in the neighbourhood and should also make sure that gardens are not so overgrown that it could provide harbourage for foxes.

 If refuse and waste seems to be a problem please report this to our call centre and they can pass this on to the relevant council department to investigate. Their telephone number is 0208 753 1081.

The Fox Project has been assisting local authorities with humane, non-lethal solutions to fox nuisance and is willing to talk to local residents about fox deterrence and about simple steps that can be taken to resolve specific issues. You can contact the FOX DETERRENCE HELPLINE on 01892 826222.

Also, our website contains additional info on foxes:

 https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/environment/pest-control