Tag Archives: Cllr Mark Loveday

H&F Tories: A Sad Embittered Bunch Of Losers

When the Tories lost Hammersmith and Fulham a fortnight ago, instead of reflecting on what they did wrong, they entered into an immediate funk of bitchiness and self-delusion. The Guardian’s Dave Hill points out the Tories lack of grace, citing Greg Hands’ bitter tweet that was posted within minutes of their defeat. Hill also quotes the former cabinet member for housing, Andrew Johnson, who tweeted:

Await with interest what LBHF’s new housing policies will be under Labour. Last time they gave council house to Abu Hamza’s family for life.

Bitchy. No?

Hill writes:

[Greg] Smith has retweeted an expression of amazement that H&F residents “have voted to increase their council tax”, while at Conservative Home the Famous Harry Phibbs has attributed his party’s defeat in part to Labour’s picking up more disaffected Liberal Democrats, describing these as likely to be “public sector Guardianistas”. Harry! How impolite!

That’s not the biggest reason the Famous Harry gives – like many fellow H&F Tories he says Labour misrepresented government plans for Charing Cross hospital and unfairly profited accordingly. He also points to a national swing towards Labour. But while it’s easy to understand why H&F Tories are sore, perhaps they should look a little harder at themselves for reasons why they came so badly unstuck.

Such is their arrogance, that they have spent the last fortnight whining about how Labour is going to “trash” the borough. There is no palpable sense of irony on display here. In the eight years that the Tories controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, they presided over a massive, to use their word, “trashing” of the borough. Examples of this trashing include: threatening the tenants of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates with eviction, because they wanted to build luxury flats on the land they hoped to flatten around Earl’s Court. The selling off of the Irish Centre, The Shepherds Bush Village Hall and the eviction of 22 groups from Palingswick House to make way for Toby Young’s West London Free School. Tobes’s free school has already lost three headteachers in as many years. Then there was The Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which the Conservatives decided they’d close and hand over to a free school.

Here are some of the tweets I found on Andrew Johnson’s timeline. This one claims:

Headbanger JohnsonJohnson believes, as does the rest of his party, that all the Tories need to do is offer people the right to part buy their council homes and they’ll come flocking back. This is nothing less than self-delusion. Johnson even wants to extend Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, but hang on, wasn’t this done when Nu Labour were in power? None of the Housing Association properties that were sold were replaced. What HAs like Peabody did instead was to build new properties to buy or part buy and ignore those who can’t afford to buy.

Here Johnson, who lost his Fulham Reach seat along with the insufferable bully and chinless wonder, Peter Graham, claims that the new Labour ruling group is not committed to providing homes for local people. Yet, when his party was in power, they joined with developers like St George to build flats for overseas investors. Johnson’s words  ring rather hollow.

Headbanger Johnson1

Phoghorn Phibbs produces perhaps the most chilling statement in the title of his blog at Conservative Home. It reads like a line from The Terminator:

The Conservatives will be back in Hammersmith and Fulham

I really hope that never happens again. Phibbs complains that Labour didn’t fight the Tories on their “record”. That record, as if you didn’t know by now, dear readers, included selling off council flats at inflated prices, denying shelter to a heavily pregnant woman who was forced to sleep on a bench in a local park, and lying about the proposed downgrading of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals (according to the Tories,  a GP-led clinic is the same as an Accident and Emergency department). On balance, I think not only did Labour fight the Tories on their dismal record, but the voters had also had enough of the Tories’ autocratic style of leadership and  decided to vote them out.

The Conservative’s loss means a change at the top. Greg Smith, member of the Young Britons’ Foundation (The so-called Conservative madrasah) has now been elected to replace the Nick Botterill as the leader of the Tory group. Botterill, himself, had been elected to replace Stephen ‘Decent Neighbourhoods’ Greenhalgh in 2012 when the latter was appointed by Bozza to become the Deputy Mayor for Policing – a job he’s done rather poorly in my view.  Curiously, Botterill’s Twitter timeline has been quiet since 15 April.

Gruntin Greg Smith1Mark Loveday, the new Tory chief whip, is also a member of YBF and is, according to the Tanfield Chambers website, a barrister who specializes in “property litigation”. So when the Tories sold off land and council properties that weren’t supposed to be sold off, it was his job to find loopholes and create legal blocks to any attempts to reverse their reckless planning decisions. Lucy Ivimy, who was once accused of racism when she accused “immigrants” of throwing litter out of tower block windows, becomes Smudger’s deputy.

I also found these tweets on Smith’s timeline. Notice how the first tweet suggests that Labour will “deprive h&f of 7500 new homes”. What he doesn’t dare tell you is that these homes were for rich first time buyers and foreign investors. The lack of honesty from these Tories is as breathtaking as their arrogance and ruthlessness. The threatened demolition of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates was perhaps the most blatant attempt at gerrymandering a ward since the Homes for Votes scandal in the 1980s. Shirley Porter, it could be argued, was H&F Tories’ patron saint.

Gruntin Greg SmithIt’s no surprise that Smith, a truly nasty piece of work, would retweet the dismal, Thatcher-worshipping, rent-a-gob, Katie Hopkins. What Hopkins and her admirer refuse to recognise is how Right to Buy contributed to the current housing crisis. Their solution to the housing crisis is, in effect, no solution.

Hammersmith and Fulham’s residents are relieved that the most ruthless Tory council in living memory has been shown the door. But the Tories refuse to learn any lessons from their defeat and seek to apportion blame elsewhere. The defeat of this flagship Tory council is perhaps an indication of what could happen in next year’s General Election. Tory Hammersmith and Fulham was, for all intents and purposes, the Tory-led government in microcosm.

I wish the new Labour administration all the best as they try to reverse the Tories’ disastrous policies in the borough.  In four years time, let’s hope more Conservative councillors find themselves out of a job.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 12): a round up

Things just go from bad to worse for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Their cherished dream of ‘redeveloping’ the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates as part of the Earl’s Court regeneration scheme has hit a massive pothole in the road. To add to their misery (Mmm, Schadenfreude, I love it!), the Council’s tax affairs, which have been reported in some detail by both Shepherds Bush blog and The Guardian’s Dave Hill, look set to kick another great big hole in their claim to fiscal responsibility.

Let’s look at Earl’s Court first. It would seem that LBHF has broken the law and tried to sign up tenants to some kind of “VIP list” if they co-operate with the Council’s scheme. We already know that the ruling Tory group, anxious about the huge opposition to its plan, had set up its own astroturf group as a means of claiming that it had complete support for the project. Of course this is a lie and to make matters worse, in January, the director of the pro-demolition group resigned.

Now what about that “VIP List”? Hill tells us,

Last month a document was handed to the Metropolitan Police containing information, which, it said, “substantiates allegations,” that officers of the Conservative flagship West London council of Hammersmith and Fulham promised preferential treatment in the allocation of new council homes to certain residents of two housing estates in the borough in return for their supporting the estates’ demolition as part of controversial proposed redevelopment scheme in the Earls Court area.

The document – entitled The Early Movers List: Homes for Votes? – claims to supply “evidence that may contribute to a police investigation into Misconduct in Public Office, which could lead to criminal charges,” and might additionally lead to civil litigation for a breach of the Housing Act 1996. I understand that Scotland Yard detectives have been making an assessment of the material.

Oops! On 11 October, Shepherds Bush blog tells us that the High Court has ruled against the Council.

And the Judge gives short shrift to our Council’s expensive lawyers who tried to get the application by the residents thrown out on the grounds it was submitted late. He had this to say:

“The defendants and interested parties [Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Developers] argue that the claim was not filed properly and that permission should be refused. I am not persuaded that the claimants [the residents] should be denied permission on this basis.

Last week, the Evening Standard carried this story.

A flagship Tory council faces fines and back taxes of almost £1 million after failing to pay its correct tax bill.

Hammersmith and Fulham admitted a “careless” approach to its finances after telling HM Revenue and Customs 59 cases where it had not taken tax off employees at source, out of a total workforce of 4,800.

The council said it had failed to carry out proper checks on whether people were consultants, who are responsible for their own tax, or staff.

So much for economic literacy, eh? The Tories like to tell us that they’re “good with money” but it seems that they’re anything but. By the way, this expensive blunder happened while the Dear Departed Leader was in charge. He’s now Deputy Mayor for Policing. Yeah, breathtaking, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, the iconic Shepherds Bush Market is under threat. A High Court judged had earlier ruled that what the council’s plans were unlawful. Cllr Stephen Cowan writes,

On Monday night, Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Conservative Administration met to vote through compulsory purchase orders (CPO) for the shops on the Goldhawk Road. They did this against the wishes of the small retailers who have long run those businesses  – many fearing that this will finish them off.

Incidentally, this is the same Monday night that LBHF Tories voted to end council tenancies for life and deny those with incomes of £40,000 a place on the waiting list. Cowan continues,

I asked the Conservative cabinet members why they had placed hundreds of thousand of pounds of tax payers’ money, their officials’ time and other resources at the disposal of their chosen property speculator. They explained they believed it was necessary to push this deal through.

“Necessary”? What’s the rush? Cowan explains what happened next,

Cllr. Mark Loveday (Con) made a somewhat emotional interjection involving shouting personal insults at my colleagues. In part this was his usual technique to try and stop a line of questioning. But, Cllr. Mark Loveday had been responsible for many of the unhappy deals the Conservative administration has made with big property speculators across the Borough. Regular readers will recall how he enjoyed a £12,000.00 tax payer funded jaunt to the French Riviera where he met many property speculators while hawking the Borough’s “contentious development sites.” He was also exposed as having misled the public about dealings with the same property speculator on another site. So Loveday’s ill-considered personal defensiveness is perhaps understandable.

Personal insults are what today’s crop of Tories use whenever they’re asked to provide explanations. They don’t much care for evidence or questions either. For to question them is to question G*d Himself – or so they like to think. Like many of his cohorts, Loveday is involved in the Young Britons Foundation. Speaking of which, Frank Manning,  YBF’s Campaign Co-ordinator recently wrote a defence of the Council’s decision to scrap tenancies for life on HF Tories blog site. Here’s the last paragraph of his article,

The current system is unsustainable. Houses worth more than £1 million are used as social housing, distorting the market and pushing up rents. In August, Policy Exchange released a very interesting report advocating the sell-off of high value council homes, allowing the government to use the funding to build new affordable homes. As usual, the left used emotive language such as ‘social cleansing’, but the real issue is quite simple. In these difficult economic times, there is only a certain amount of investment available for social housing, and it should be aimed primarily at those most in need and most deserving.

Dissembling. Damned dissembling. It’s a congenital disorder with these Tories.

Back to the Earls Court mess, yesterday the Council’s Chief Executive ordered Deloitte to investigate allegations of a “VIP list”. Shepherds Bush blog again,

More tax payers cash is lining the pockets of accountants as our Council has just responded to the legality of its actions over the West Ken Estate being ruled open to question by a High Court Judge not by simply co-operating with the police or answering the allegations in court, but by instructing Deloitte to investigate things independently.

Stupid question: but do you get the feeling that the Council has something to hide?

Finally, the Lib Dems have become involved. Caroline Pidgeon, the leader of the Lib Dems at City Hall has written to the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, expressing her concern over the way in which the Council has circumvented procedure and corrupted the processes. As I have learned from my own personal experience, the Council is arrogant, makes frequent errors that it refuses to acknowledge and rides roughshod over the wishes of residents.

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