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Hammersmith & Fulham Welcomes its New Mayor
On Monday Hammersmith & Fulham Council held its AGM to hand control to the newly-elected Labour administration. The galleries were full to bursting with local residents including the Save our Hospitals, the Save our Sullivan, save shepherds Bush market and Save Earl’s Court campaigns plus representatives from community groups from across the Borough.
The new Leader of the Council, Stephen Cowan, told the 200 guests that "Everything we do tonight and everything we endeavour to do over the next four years will be for you; to make this borough better for all."
Councillor Max Schmid, Cabinet Member for Finance, immediately announced £267,000 worth of savings, by scrapping the propaganda publications and banners produced by the outgoing Tory administration. He also cut councillors special responsibility allowances by 10%.
Health Questions to Jeremy Hunt - 10/06/2014
The Conservative Party have serious and grave questions to answer over their reckless and irresponsible plans to shake-up West London’s A&E departments.
Boris under fire as housing targets for Westfield fall far short
All change in H&F
As the dust settles from last week’s elections, it’s clear that Labour did well all over London but particularly in Hammersmith & Fulham.
Swings of up to 15% from the Tories give the new Labour administration a working majority in a borough which had previously been considered a Conservative stronghold
It has been a long and hard-fought campaign but on Thursday the people of Hammersmith & Fulham voted for change.
Labour gained 11 seats from the Conservatives giving control of the Council by 26 seats to 20.
I wish the departing councillors, from both sides, good luck in the future, and would like to pay special tribute to those candidates that narrowly missed out.
This result was the feather in the cap for a series of stunning victories across London for the Labour Party.
By voting for Labour, the residents of H&F rejected some of the more arrogant and self-serving policies that the Conservative administration pursued here and endorsed the local Labour Party’s decision to put saving our hospitals at the centre of our campaign.
Under Labour Leader Stephen Cowan, a fine team of candidates and activists offered an alternative to a Tory administration that put the interests of property developers and overseas investors before local residents.
During months of doorstep conversations and meetings with constituents the same issues came up again and again.
Families unable to pay the Bedroom Tax facing eviction, patients worried about A&E closures, parents angry at the closure of good schools like Sulivan, and young people unable to find a home to rent or buy.
I saw every week in my surgery that under the Coalition Government and the Conservative council the most vulnerable in society were being victimised and marginalised.
Rightly, this concerned many people irrespective of their own circumstances and on Thursday, they voted the Tories out.
This reflects the same message that Labour Leader Ed Miliband has been talking about nationally: that economic recovery must help those at the bottom, rather than just a wealthy few.
It is also an indictment of David Cameron’s judgment. He visited last week in an attempt to sure up the Tory vote but he was ill-informed or deliberately misleading about the proposals to demolish Charing Cross. Boris Johnson also featured prominently on Tory leaflets, to no avail.
People believed the evidence of their own eyes above what Cameron and Johnson had to say. And they rejected a Conservative ideology which seeks to privatise and downgrade the NHS, sees providing affordable housing as a ‘hand out’, and tries to demonise and divide people.
I look forward to a new way of working with and listening to residents under the Labour Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Stephen Cowan. He will be the first to say, the hard work starts here.
I discovered today that the final decision on the future of Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s Hospitals – the three major hospitals run by Imperial Healthcare Trust – which was due to be made next Wednesday 28 May has been further postponed until 30 July at the earliest.
This means the announcement on the future of our borough’s two hospitals has now been delayed for almost a year.
The reason is not a re-think about the closure of both A&Es and demolition of Charing Cross but another financial crisis.
Amid major changes to the management at Imperial, the money is simply not there to fund ‘integrated care’ and the switch from acute to primary care services. The promise to improve GP and other community services before any cuts are made to accident and emergency cannot at present be met.
However, there is no reprieve for the emergency services already marked for closure. Imperial and the local NHS – and of course the Coalition Government and Conservative Party in H&F - are continuing to support the closure of Hammersmith’s A&E this year and the demolition of Charing Cross with the loss of all consultant emergency services.
In the words of Medical Director, Dr Mark Spencer “Ealing and Charing Cross would be designated local hospitals and would provide a GP led service. They would not take blue light patients.”. His comments were recorded at the health scrutiny committee for NW London, chaired by Hammersmith Tory Councillor Lucy Ivimy.
The worsening crisis in our local hospitals makes David Cameron’s wholly false statement about Charing Cross appear even more cynical. Below is the letter I wrote challenging him on the false statement he made in Hammersmith last week.
I am not expecting much from the reply. The PM has form for dodging tricky questions - as Labour Leader Stephen Cowan found out in 2010 when the PM last got caught out spreading mistruths about what the Tories were really getting up to here.
In his latest blog Stephen asks "Did David Cameron Mess Up Or Was He Deliberately Trying To Mislead Residents About H&F’s NHS?"
Either way H&F residents deserve better.
This Thursday, 22 May, Hammersmith & Fulham residents will elect a new Council and London members of the European Parliament.
Readers of my E-news will know my opposition to H&F Conservative Council’s housing policies, their support for demolishing Charing Cross Hospital and closing both borough A&Es, and their willingness to climb into bed with any luxury developer or property speculator.