Breaking news - Tory Minister forces through compulsory purchase of Shepherds Bush Market
The shopkeepers and stall holders of Shepherds Bush Market have been fighting a long-running campaign against property developer Orion to preserve their shops and businesses.
In an outrageous attempt to replace the 100 year-old market, housing for vulnerable people and the small shops on Goldhawk Road with luxury flats, the previous Tory council acted as agent for the developer. They assembled the land, gave planning permission for over 200 flats none of which was affordable and even tried compulsory purchase (CPO) of the businesses that would not shift.
But the Goldhawk Road traders fought the CPO at a planning inquiry last September. In February of this year, a report was produced by the Planning Inspectorate. The result of the inquiry was unequivocal, and the report by the Inspector concluded that the CPO should not be confirmed.
The Inspector felt that Order did not do enough to safeguard existing traders and did not guarantee that they would be able to continue trading in the market and on Goldhawk Road.
She also found there was a real risk that a newly developed market and the replacement shops on Goldhawk Road would not provide the diversity or opportunities for small businesses that were central to the success of the area.
But instead of publishing her report and saving the market, Tory planning minister Brandon Lewis MP has kept in secret for eight months. Then today, despite producing no evidence, he overruled the inspector and told the developer to carry on with the destruction.
In his response, the Minister has simply ignored the recommendation of the Planning Inspectorate, and has decided to confirm the CPO.
He seems to acknowledge that there are serious questions about the future of the Market were development to go ahead, and that the CPO would infringe the rights of the shopkeepers and stall holders. Despite this he believes that there is a compelling case to "justify sufficiently the interference with the human rights of those with an interest in the land affected."
I hoped we had seen an end to the bias in favour of developers and away from residents and small business when the Tories lost control of the Council in May but now we have the Government stepping in to tip the scales. We will now see what further legal challenge can be brought against this disgraceful political interference.
Hands off Hammersmith Park
This was the message when 150 angry residents met Play Football, the private company to which the Tories sold a 35 year lease on one third of the Park that runs from White City to Frithville Gardens. They intend to charge up to £90 an hour to use the previously free sports pitches, plus dump a bar and car park in the Park which is overlooked by hundreds of homes .
The company claimed that many residents supported them so the meeting was called to test that theory. In fact only two people gave any support to the scheme. The meeting has strengthened the Labour Council’s hand in trying to persuade Play Football to abandon their plans, but the ridiculously soft deal given to them by the Tories means this will still prove difficult.
More confusion over hospital plans
What was supposed to be an opportunity for the local NHS to set out their plans for the future of Charing Cross to residents and councillors descended into confusion as they proved unable to answer even simple questions like what emergency services would be left at the hospital if their plan to demolish it succeeded.
It appears that Imperial wish to borrow £400 million in addition to selling half the Charing Cross and St Mary’s sites and yet end up with only primary care and minor treatment and surgery at Charing Cross having spent almost £700 million. The only good news is that it seems inconceivable that any responsible government will agree to allow them to go ahead, and they will not get final approval for another 18 months.
I pointed out that the current plans were very different from the previous agreed strategy and there should therefore be a full public consultation. Labour councillors voted my proposal through, but the Tories would not agree even this.
Cameron’s plan to abandon human rights law is reckless and dangerous
Announced last week, the Conservative party’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and almost certainly leave the European Convention on Human Rights represent the latest attack on the post-1945 settlement that all main parties have remained signed up to until now. It is as significant as their undermining of legal aid, the welfare state and the NHS, though for the first time it does not have the support of their Lib Dem coalition partners.
As a member of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights and Shadow Justice Minister I will oppose any attempt by the Conservatives to undermine human rights legislation. You can read more in an article I wrote for the New Statesman.
Chaos at HMP Wormwood Scrubs
The latest report from the independent Monitoring Board (IMB) for HMP Wormwood Scrubs is truly shocking and further confirms that many of our prisons are in a state of crisis. According to the report, Wormwood Scrubs has had a “dismal” year after brutal staff cuts have led to “low morale”. The IMB conclude that rehabilitation has been little more than a fantasy over the last year meaning prisoners, prison staff, and the public are all being let down by You can see some of the media reaction to the report and a copy of the full report here on my website.
In the constituency
On Wednesday the 8th I visited St Paul's Primary school to speak to the Year 6 children about my role as an MP. I had already met with the children in the Houses of Parliament in early September, and was delighted to be asked along to speak with them again. My delight was short lived though, as I was subjected to an hour of questions on everything from human rights to my political heroes. While their questions were extremely tough, it was great to see young people so engaged and a credit to their school.
I spent Saturday morning at 'Harvestival' in and around St Peter’s Church and was given the onerous task of judging the children's Vegetable Parade (this is an MP’s worst nightmare, ten disappointed families for every winner). The event was being held to raise money for a programme of restoration and improvements to the Church. Work will begin within weeks and once completed the church will have disabled access, be re-lit and re-decorated.
On Sunday I attended the Silver Sunday Fashion Show hosted by AgeUK in their shop in the W12 Centre. The event was held to launch AgeUK's new campaign: "We're Spreading the Warmth in Hammersmith & Fulham". I was joined by Mayor Mercy Umeh and Cllr Vivienne Lukey, the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care. While I was happy to be asked to speak at the event, I looked very scruffy alongside the models who put on a great show.
I was invited to attend a fundraising concert at the beautiful Leighton House museum, which took place last Friday. The event was titled 'Music Notes from Taiwan', and was organised by a social enterprise called Push Hands. The money raised went towards the excellent Hammersmith Community Gardens Association. I was asked to say a few words, and spoke about the excellent work being done by the Association. A video celebrating 30 years of their work can be found here.
In a busy week I was also able to attend the friends of Ravenscourt Park AGM, the Art West exhibition of local artists’ work, speak at the opening of Ealing Law Centre, open the London Jobs Show at Westfield and visit Transport for London’s command centre to see how they try to control congestion across London.