Last week we were graced by the presence of the Prime Minister as David Cameron made a bizarre flying visit to Hammersmith. In a visit to meet Conservative councillors that was both short and unexpected (including to them), the PM did not bother to meet actual Hammersmith residents. He then went on to declare his support for the demolition of Charing Cross Hospital, airport expansion, and the sale and demolition of council homes.
The Tory’s Parliamentary candidate commented: “We didn’t ask him to come here.” and that Cameron’s visit was “very smoke and mirrors”. Which says a lot about them both.
I am not surprised that Cameron avoided meeting any of my constituents as his policies on the NHS, Heathrow and housing are universally unpopular here. But if he had taken the trouble to talk to local residents he would have found just how wrong was his statement last week that they support the closure of A&Es and demolition of Charing Cross. In fact 100,000 signed a petition against cuts to the local NHS.”
It is clear that the Prime Minister backs the plans for Charing Cross to be demolished and most of the site sold for luxury flats. It would ‘still be a very good hospital’ said Mr Cameron, but he failed to point out that all emergency beds, intensive care, A&E consultants and the country’s best stroke unit would go, leaving only GPs, treatment and planned surgery on the site. He also incorrectly claimed that Charing Cross would retain an A&E when the NHS has made it clear that both Charing Cross and Hammersmith will only have walk in centres run by GPs.
Moving on to Heathrow, Cameron said ‘we need more runway capacity’ and put his faith in Howard Davies Airports Commission which is considering three options for new runways – two of which are at Heathrow. This represents a significant softening of Conservative Party policy on Heathrow as before the last election Cameron told West London residents groups that ‘the third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts’.
On housing Cameron praised the social engineering policies of local Tories and commended them for ‘raising £88m from high value council houses’. The PM is clearly out of date - the sale of 307 council homes by auction has so far raised £132 million. None of these, at an average cost of £420,000, are affordable to people on moderate incomes, but 300 families have been left without a permanent home. Some of the proceeds of the sales are being used to empty blocks of council flats ready to demolish them and build luxury homes on the sites.
Cameron’s lies and weasel words about Charing Cross are reminiscent of the excuses he gave for the Tories failing to win Hammersmith in 2010 – despite spending half a million on their campaign. Then he said Labour scare-mongered by “telling people in Hammersmith they were going to have their council house taken away by the Tories.”
So far over 500 of the best Council homes have been flogged off.
We told the truth then and we are telling it now. Cameron and the H&F Tories want to wreck our NHS and make Hammersmith unaffordable to anyone but speculators and millionaires. The reason he loses elections here is because of his out of touch policies. I’m grateful for Mr Cameron coming to remind Hammersmith residents why they should vote Labour next Thursday in the Council and European elections.
The Local and European Elections in Hammersmith & Fulham take place on Thursday 22nd May. There is so much at stake not least the future of our hospitals and housing and planning policies that put local residents before speculators and property developers.