27 April 2007

Exposed: huge cuts in voluntary sector funding

When the Tory cabinet in Hammersmith & Fulham presented their proposed funding for the voluntary sector at a packed meeting last week (see previous blog), they were adamant there were no cuts in funding for the sector overall - just 'reprioritisation'.

Now the truth can be revealed:

* overall funding for 2007-8 is £4.276 million but that hides a big cut within the year: from April-September funding is £2.345 million; from October-March it drops to £1.930 million with the new grants regime

* then in 2008-9 funding is slashed from £4.276 million to £3.182 million - a cut of 26% in one year!

It's been a bad week for Cllr Antony Lillis. He is responsible for the embarrassing climbdown on closing Hurlingham & Chelsea school which has left the Tories' schools strategy in disarray (see previous blog).

Now he has been exposed on voluntary sector funding - no cuts indeed!

It is time for Cllr Lillis to resign.

23 April 2007

Council in chaos as Tories back down on school closure

The Conservative council in Hammersmith & Fulham has backed down from closing Hurlingham and Chelsea secondary school to prevent an embarrassing rejection of the closure plan by the schools adjudicator.

In an attempt to save face, the Tories have set up a so-called independent commission to review the future of secondary schools in Fulham - thereby putting them all under threat. The Commission will be chaired by a Tory peer, Baroness Perry!

For some reason the secondary schools in the north of the borough are not included in the review even though their catchment areas for pupils overlap with the Fulham schools.

In trying to save themselves huge embarrassment, the Tories have demonstrated with this kneejerk reaction that their policies for the borough's secondary schools are in complete chaos. Now watch out for the Tories' primary schools strategy and see how quickly that unravels (see previous blogs).

This back down will give great heart to campaigners fighting Tory cuts in services and funding for the voluntary sector in Hammersmith & Fulham.

21 April 2007

April showers another blow for local democracy

Conservatives on Hammersmith & Fulham council are celebrating their election victory a year ago by making April their anti-democracy month.

As reported below, this week the Tory cabinet walked out of a meeting in the face of opposition to their cuts in funding to voluntary organisations. That's despite refusing several organisations the chance to make representations at the meeting. Instead the Tories fled to vote behind closed doors for savage cuts to some of Hammersmith & Fulham's longest standing community bodies.

Earlier in April parents and children from Peterborough primary school which is threatened with closure were not allowed to question councillors about the plans at the education scrutiny committee. What decision could be more important to local families?

With the Tories seemingly making new cuts to public services in Hammersmith & Fulham every week, it's crucial that decisions to close services and make budget cuts are properly scrutinised. Let's not forget that the Tories won the election boasting of a 'secret budget' which they refused to reveal for reasons that are now obvious.

The true face of Cameron's Conservative party is clear to see in Hammersmith & Fulham - cutting services and ignoring local residents. We still wait to hear what the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, thinks about his new friends.

19 April 2007

Tories' attacks on public services get more exposure

Now the New Statesman has caught up with the Tories' wrecking of Hammersmith & Fulham:


Please send details of any other sightings.

16 April 2007


Three hundred brave volunteers stood in opposition to the Tory rulers at Hammersmith Town Hall tonight. Together they fought the Tories' venomous attacks on community and voluntary organisations working for black people, Irish people, older people, disabled people and those without any rights.

The Tories denied they were making cuts to the voluntary sector until Cllr Lillis let slip that some organisations are indeed being cut. They weren't being targeted or 'blacklisted', just 'reprioritised'. Without any consultation or published reason.

Speaker after speaker from the Law Centre, Caring for Carers, Community Transport, Irish Support and Advice Service, Third Age Foundation all put their points. Others weren't allowed to have their say.

As the opposition mounted, Tory leader Cllr Greenhalgh retreated, withdrawing his cabinet to the safety of a private room to vote through the cuts in secret. Another battle over but a long war ahead.

12 April 2007

Hammering it home

With local elections on 3 May outside of London, there's another warning about what Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives have done in the last 12 months:


10 April 2007

Five nightmares come back to haunt Tory leader

The Conservative leader of Hammersmith & Fulham is so beside himself with local newspaper coverage of the council that he has written to complain about not one, not two but five separate stories in the previous week's paper.

Many of those stories will be familiar to readers of this blog:
* closure of local schools with sites being sold off to fill council coffers
* slashing of grants to local voluntary organisations
* charging residents £6.50 to have their garden waste recycled

Clearly Cllr Greenhalgh doesn't like it up him. Having attacked the vulnerable and defenceless with a £34 million cuts programme, he can't stand it when the local newspaper reports what is really happening in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The Tory leader should spend more time stopping party political attacks by the council and less time on writing pointless letters to the local press. Or perhaps Cllr Greenhalgh does us all a service by reminding everyone of the previous week's horrors.

03 April 2007

Now it's the voluntary sector's turn for huge cuts

David Cameron's new Conservatives make a big deal about the role of the voluntary sector in supporting strong communities.

But clearly the Tories in Hammersmith & Fulham don't agree. They have just launched a savage programme of cuts in funding to local voluntary organisations.

The council's cabinet is due to vote on the proposals on 16 April and they are bound to face huge protests against these latest cuts. One major area of cuts is in legal advice.

The council proposes a cut of nearly £160,000 in the Law Centre’s funding, a cut of over 60%. Threshold is to be cut by 23% and FLAC by 7%. These cuts will make it even harder for vulnerable local residents to obtain legal advice and ensure their rights and entitlements.

The biggest cut has been reserved for the Law Centre. This could mean an end to vital local legal services the Law Centre has provided for over 27 years including:

· specialist advice on private sector tenants, licensees and leaseholder issues
· emergency specialist legal advice on homelessness, possession, bailiff’s warrants, detention and immigration removals with immediate referral for emergency legal action
· specialist advice and casework in employment, helping people who have been sacked, discriminated against and harassed at work.
· immigration and nationality open-door advice session and telephone advice
· second tier advice to local advice agencies and council housing, social services and benefits officers on behalf of local residents needing statutory services
· legal support for local community organisations aiming to ensure no resident needing vital services remains isolated, and new legal needs are rapidly identified and catered for.

The council has given no reason at all for these cuts which will mean a severe reduction in Law Centre services to local people. The Tories can't justify their proposals so they haven't even tried to - which provides grounds for a legal challenge unless the Tories see reason and the cabinet rejects the proposals.

How many primary schools to go?

Having been stalled in their efforts to close a secondary school, Conservatives in Hammersmith & Fulham are now planning to shut local primary schools.

The Tories' primary schools strategy was delayed until the end of the spring term to try and avoid a backlash from schools and parents. But it has already caused huge concern among local families, not least at Peterborough school in Fulham which is earmarked for closure and sale of its site.

One of the other proposals is to merge Canberra primary school with Randolph Beresford early years centre - again so that the centre's site could be sold off to subsidise council tax cuts. Governors at Randolph Beresford have already voted against the proposal but the Tories went ahead and published it anyway.

Local residents are beginning to realise that the Conservatives in Hammersmith & Fulham don't care about local services and community facilities. All they are concerned about is cuts.

Has anyone seen Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund?

Websites linked to the Tories' candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey, solicit donations to Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund. Apparently his fund is based at the Centre for Policy Studies.

Strangely there don't seem to be any details on the CPS website or elsewhere about Shaun Bailey's Youth Fund and what it's used for.

Suggestions gratefully received.

01 April 2007

Shaun of the dead party

So the Conservatives in Hammersmith have selected their candidate for the next general election.

Right winger Shaun Bailey plans to bring 'his principles' to Hammersmith. The question is what exactly has he been doing over the last few years apart from writing a pamphlet for the Tory thinktank Centre for Policy Studies. His fame seems to be based on doing media interviews based on that polemic and his work for MyGeneration charity.

But his so-called charity was only registered last year and has not filed any accounts or annual report. Its registered office is in north London not north Kensington where Bailey is meant to be hard at work.

Like all the other Tory candidates, Bailey shows no understanding of the scale of the Tory council cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham. Despite his 'charity roots', he clearly doesn't understand that making £34 million of cuts in local services is having a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable and elderly residents in the borough.