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14 October 2012 11:17

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In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.’s Diary Website of the Week: Support Our Soldiers Greg Hands M.P.’s response to the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ consultation Photo news: Opening of West London Breast Cancer screening service Hands: Apprenticeship numbers more than double in Chelsea & Fulham Photo news: Welcoming guests from St Lucia to Conservative Party Conference Thames Water’s £5,000 ‘water bill life sentence’ Photo news: H&F at Conservative Party Conference H&F Council rips up social housing rule book Royal Borough calls for nominations for volunteers Hands in the papers: Evict Hamza's wife from £1m home, says MP Hands in the papers: Abu Hamza's wife 'should be kicked out of her £1m council house' now hate preacher has been extradited to the US, says MP Hands in the papers: Possible A&E changes Charing Cross likely to close. Waiting times questioned Hands in the papers: Greg Hands welcomes Boris Bikes to Fulham How to contact Greg Hands M.P.

Issue 347 - Sunday 14th October 2012

Since the last edition, Greg:
Made a detailed submission to the NHS consultation on the future of local A&E services, protesting at the proposed downgrading of local hospitals. For Greg’s submission, see below. Attended the opening of the new West London breast cancer screening service at Charing Cross Hospital. The service, which is very welcome, nevertheless replaces an acute surgical ward, for a service lost to another hospital. For photo, see below. Attended all four days of Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, including welcoming international visitors to the conference, attending events of both the Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservatives, and the Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives. For photos, see below. Packed and dispatched a food parcel for British forces in Afghanistan. For photo, see below.

Website of the Week:

www.supportoursoldiers.co.uk
Since their launch in March 2003 over 100,000 morale boosting care parcels have been sent to those on the front line in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Support Our Soldiers” supports our men and women throughout their tour, every day, not just at Christmas! Greg this week packed a parcel for British forces serving in Afghanistan. Why not send a parcel to our troops today?

Greg Hands M.P. packs a food parcel for British forces in Afghanistan.

Greg Hands M.P.’s response to the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ consultation
1. Introduction As the Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham, I have close connections with both Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital. Like any other resident, having lived in the constituency since 1990, I have unexpectedly found myself at both A&E departments over the years. My daughter was born at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in 2006, and my son at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in 2007. I campaigned hard against previous plans to downgrade services at Charing Cross, which emerged when I was still a local Councillor, and have been a member of the hospital’s Friends group for fourteen years. Likewise, I am one of the vice presidents of the Chelsea & Westminster Friends group. My constituents are heavy users of both Chelsea & Westminster and Charing Cross Hospitals. 2. Consultation structure

The purpose of the proposed changes is to reduce the number of Accident and Emergency units in North West London from nine hospitals to five. At the outset, I believe this to be a very substantial change, effectively halving the number of A&Es. Whilst each A&E can be assessed in isolation, the critical factor must also be the cumulative impact of closures, especially the impact of the four closures on the remaining five units. My belief is that, given the radical nature of the change, this would be almost reckless to carry it out in one process, without any proper assessment of the impact of so many closures on the surviving A&E units. The other general point I would make is that for local people, hospital reconfigurations and reorganisations have come and gone in our area, but what counts for local people is the excellent quality of care in this area of London, which has been the case since at least 1990. Indeed, NHS North West London, who are leading the consultation, is itself on the point of abolition. Hammersmith Hospitals Trust has similarly had a shortened life, and the future of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust appears very much in question, only a few years after its establishment. For local people, what counts is their hospitals and their facilities, particularly A&E, which should remain at both Chelsea & Westminster and Charing Cross. Returning to the local configuration, given my close association with both Charing Cross and Chelsea & Westminster, I am appalled that the consultation gives no consideration to allowing both to continue as major hospitals. The premise of the option structure is that one or the other must be downgraded, with a clear preference expressed for Option A, which reduces Charing Cross to a small local hospital, shorn of its accident and emergency department and all major services. I am not making a judgement on the clinical case for having more specialisms on fewer sites, but I note the concerns expressed in the Rideout report commissioned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council regarding both out of hospital care and the sequential 'funnel' used in the options appraisal, which does not make allowance for the size and quality of the hospitals placed in pairs. A binary choice between Chelsea & Westminster and Charing Cross is a false choice. Because they are paired, no analysis has been undertaken of the ability to meet the stated clinical objectives while keeping both open as major hospitals. The out of hospital strategy, although welcome, appears insufficiently developed to be replied upon to take demand away from a smaller number of accident and emergency departments. Until it has been implemented and shown to be successful, it would be premature to plan the closure of entire sites. Equally, some of the assumptions around urgent care centres seem speculative and do not reflect known patient preferences. Regarding the need to find savings, I recognise that the so-called Nicholson challenge began under the last government, and that all parties are committed to finding £20 billion of efficiencies to meet the demands of a growing, and ageing, population. This is balanced by the rising budget for NHS North West London, reflecting the present government's ring-fence around NHS spending. Efficiencies and clinical improvements can go together. I am not persuaded, however, that Option A will deliver improvements for my constituents. 3. Chelsea & Westminster under Option A

It is essential that Chelsea & Westminster should remain a major hospital with a full accident and emergency department. Nevertheless, Option A fails to reflect the impact on Chelsea & Westminster should the A&E at Charing Cross close, even if capital costs are incurred by expanding the current site. That site is severely constrained, placing a limit on what can be added. The numbers also assume that the urgent care centre at Charing Cross will continue to take as many patients as it does presently. This seems unrealistic, as the UCC operates by channelling patients away from the accident and emergency department; many go there intending to access the A&E, or because they want the reassurance that it is available on site, and such patients are likely to travel to Chelsea & Westminster instead. I fear that the influx from Fulham, Hammersmith, and beyond, would create detrimental pressure on the service provided at Chelsea & Westminster under Option A. Chelsea & Westminster have stated that they will cope with the additional admissions, and have outlined plans to expand their A&E on their rather constricted site, but when I met with management there in September, I did not find the arguments particularly convincing, other than Chelsea & Westminster needing to say they could cope, otherwise their lack of confidence would be seen as an argument for Option B. 4. Charing Cross under Option A

Charing Cross Hospital is a world-class research and teaching facility. It is one of the few hospitals to have a sufficient number of beds under the consultation criteria and hosts regionally important services such as the hyper acute stroke unit. Given its size and quality, it seems extraordinary for it to be downgraded to become a minor local hospital, unrecognisable from the facility that exists today. It is hard to ignore the underlying financial motives of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which has been struggling with a large deficit and has made persistent attempts to remove services from the Charing Cross site. The most recent saw the loss of vascular surgery. I was first elected to Parliament after highlighting the previous threat to the hospital, in 2005, and it is not hard to discern the reason for Imperial's hostility. Its finances would be significantly improved by operating on two sites rather than three, not to mention unlocking a substantial capital receipt from any land disposal. Imperial would retain all these proceeds if its ambition to become a foundation trust is realised. The extent of the proposed downgrade can be seen in the preconsultation business case documents. Of the 5.38 hectare Charing Cross site, a mere one hectare would be retained for use as a local hospital and urgent care centre. An illustrative map shows that only a small corner of the site would be required and the main building would be entirely vacated. Given the height of this building and of the accommodation blocks nearby, both of which form a significant precedent in planning terms, the listed disposal value of £10.2 million per hectare massively understates the true market value. It disguises the fact that Imperial could expect to receive a receipt in the hundreds of millions, yet have provided no indication of the purpose for which a receipt higher than £44.6 million would be used. Although the loss of services beyond the A&E is referred to in the consultation document, it does not make clear that the entire site would be redeveloped and the hospital, as it is known, closed. This is regrettable and calls into question whether the consultation has engaged frankly with the public. The nearest accident and emergency departments would be at Chelsea & Westminster and St Mary's, Paddington. It is not clear that increases in either 'blue light' or 'private' travel times have been properly considered. The analysis is derived from averages in the HSTAT database, and average travel times in central London can be highly misleading because of the variable nature of congestion, which can bring streets to a standstill. No predicted routes have been provided, suggesting that the impact of route restrictions on match days at Chelsea FC, and from emergency roadworks on arterial routes, is unknown. Ambulances need to reach a patient swiftly before they can be stabilised and then have a defined window of time in which to reach an A&E before patient outcomes deteriorate. The limited travel analysis does not allow one to conclude that Option A is safe. Overall, there is a disproportionate impact on Hammersmith & Fulham, which will be left without any accident and emergency provision of its own. The worrying gaps in the consultation material are also demonstrated by the Rideout report's inability to determine whether the 20,000 extra homes planned for the borough are included in the demographic assessments made by NHS North West London. 5. The four tests

The government has been clear that plans for hospital reorganisation should be developed locally, by PCTs and the emerging commissioning groups; consulted on; and only then be referred for approval. When asked, ministers have explicitly affirmed that no decision has been taken on the Shaping a Healthier Future proposals, which will be judged against four tests. These tests were set out by the former Secretary of State for Health, namely that: There must be clarity about the clinical evidence base underpinning the proposals. They must have the support of the local commissioners involved. They must genuinely promote choice for patients. The process must have genuinely engaged the public, patients and local authorities. I have already raised doubts in relation to the first test and will return to the second. While the development of out of hospital care will promote choice, the choice between major hospitals will obviously be reduced. It is perhaps wrong to speak of having a 'choice' between accident and emergency departments as, in an emergency, the nearest is always preferred; however, the further distance is detrimental for all those who use Charing Cross. A choice is maintained between hospital trusts, but it is unclear why sites run by one trust could not be transferred to another, if this would enable more to remain open. NHS North West London has engaged to some degree with the public, appearing at meetings and running events, but awareness has rested on the efforts of local authorities and campaigners. Local press coverage, while welcome, is restricted by limited circulation and adverts in the press are not equivalent to direct mail. Moreover, the opaqueness of much of the consultation material, and the impression it creates of a foregone conclusion, makes the genuineness of this engagement process questionable. I am also informed that health scrutiny committees on the local authorities affected have found it difficult to get proper answers to their questions. 6. GP Commissioners

There has been an unsatisfactory blurring of the distinction between the primary care trusts and the shadow clinical commissioning groups, which assume PCT responsibilities next year. While it appears that this will be solved by a reconstitution of the JCPCT, the Hammersmith and Fulham CCG has been unable to clarify whether its members serve as delegates or representatives of GP practices, and how its stance should reflect the wider views of general practitioners in the locality. It seems this is a problem common to all eight CCGs involved. Despite this ambiguity, there appears to be no mechanism to survey the views of ordinary GPs within the consultation, although some have been forthright in opposing the plans. This must call into question the ability of the proposals to pass the second test. 7. Conclusion

I urge NHS North West London to think again. There are options available that have yet to be examined, but which allow both Chelsea & Westminster and Charing Cross to continue as major hospitals. A solution should not be compromised by the particular organisational difficulties faced by Imperial, or by its desire for a substantial capital receipt from the disposal of the Charing Cross site. The halving of A&E units in North West London is simply too abrupt and radical a change. The impact of the closures on the surviving units has not been properly assessed. Like me, my constituents use and rely on our local NHS hospitals. It is clear they do not want to travel further to an accident and emergency department, and they are right to be unpersuaded by the case that NHS North West London has made during the consultation. Patient safety must come first. Greg Hands M.P. Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham

Photo news:

Opening of West London Breast Cancer screening service

Greg Hands M.P. with EastEnders actress and breast cancer survivor Laila Morse at the opening of the West London Breast Cancer screening service at Charing Cross Hospital this week.

Hands: Apprenticeship numbers more than double in Chelsea & Fulham
Greg Hands M.P. has welcomed the huge increase in the number of apprenticeships in Chelsea & Fulham. The Conservatives have delivered a record number of apprenticeships in England, with half a million people starting an apprenticeship last year. Thanks to the Government’s investment, 142 more young people in England are starting an apprenticeship every single day, an increase of 80 per cent. The number of people starting an Advanced apprenticeship increased by 105 per cent, while the number starting a Higher (or degree-level) apprenticeship increased by 133 per cent In Chelsea & Fulham: 220 people started an apprenticeship last year. Only 100 people began an apprenticeship in Labour’s last year in power. The Government has delivered a 120 per cent increase in just two years. Commenting, Greg Hands M.P. said: “It is fantastic that 220 people in Chelsea & Fulham started an apprenticeship last year. More than double the previous number of people are now benefiting from apprenticeships thanks to the Conservatives. “We are getting behind people who work hard and want to get on in life. Apprenticeships are a great way to help people get the skills they need to make a better future for themselves. “I want many more local people to have the chance to earn and learn at the same time as an apprentice.” Information on the many opportunities now available can be found on the apprenticeships website.

Photo news:

Welcoming guests from St Lucia to Conservative Party Conference

Greg Hands M.P. with visitors from St Lucia, including the island's Leader of the Opposition, at Conservative Party Conference this week.

Thames Water’s £5,000 ‘water bill life sentence’
Thames Water customers face a £5,000 water bill life sentence if the company is allowed to bulldoze its controversial Thames Tideway Tunnel plans through, a flagship council warned today. Thames Water has issued glossy leaflets to tell customers they face being charged an extra £70-£80 each year to pay for the controversial 20 mile long pipe under the River Thames. 13.8million Thames Water customers from Essex to Gloucestershire, including Londoners, will be charged a premium on top of current bills for the rest of their lives to fund the £4.1billion project – which is officially called the Thames Tideway Tunnel but has informally been dubbed the ‘super sewer’. An 18-year-old living to the current life expectancy of 81-years-old would pay an extra £5,040 in water rates during their lifetime. The estimated construction cost of the sewage storage tank under the river bed has more than doubled since the scheme was first mooted in 2002. Increasing numbers of residents are questioning whether the huge financial costs – combined with seven years of construction work seven days a week, 24-hours-a-day – are worth the relatively small benefits the tunnel will bring. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council has warned that many people on fixed incomes, for example pensioners, will be driven into water poverty under the current proposals and is calling for cheaper and greener solutions that will maintain the river's status as one of the cleanest in Europe. Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, says: “The cost of this sewage storage tank under the river threatens to create a water bill life sentence - especially for pensioners and residents on fixed incomes. The cost of this huge engineering project is phenomenal compared to the modest benefits it will bring. Other cities have made their rivers cleaner using much cheaper and more environmentally friendly solutions. “At a time when the budgets for the Police, the armed forces, schools, transport and a whole range of local services are all being squeezed – are we really going to spend £4.1 billion on a gold-plated stink pipe?” Thames Water stands to make a colossal £162million a year in additional revenue from the tunnel – which will be similar in size to the Channel Tunnel – due to a ‘perverse incentive’ in the way the water industry is financed, according to a national expert on water economics. Current regulations encourage water companies to build their way out of problems rather than consider greener, more sustainable options, according to Professor Colin Green who is based at Middlesex University. Professor Green says that customers will be ‘ripped-off’ under the current plans as the current price system ‘creates a strong incentive to pour concrete’ rather than explore green alternatives that don’t make money. The problem arises as water companies are allowed to borrow money cheaply on the bond markets to pay for capital projects, like the Thames Tideway Tunnel, but water regulator Ofwat allows Thames Water to charge customers 4.5% per annum to service its borrowing and to pay dividends to its shareholders. “The current system encourages water companies to borrow money to spend on large capital projects,” says Professor Green. “There is a strong incentive to pour concrete as for every pound Thames Water borrows, to pay for large projects like sewers or reservoirs, they make a handsome return off their customers.” It is not the first time Thames Water has faced accusation of capex bias. A public enquiry into Thames Water's proposed £1billion reservoir at Steventon in Oxfordshire, which would have been as big as Gatwick Airport, found that the case for the reservoir had not been adequately made and that Thames Water had not considered other more sustainable options. Cllr Botterill concludes: “The Thames Tunnel is the story of corporate greed encouraged by the UK's flawed regulatory system, overzealous interpretation of EU law and successive Governments which have not yet understood the huge environmental, social and economic costs – while ignoring the cheaper and greener alternatives.” In 2011 Lord Selborne’s Thames Tunnel Commission recommended that green infrastructure solutions like SUDS, which minimise the amount of fresh rain water entering the sewerage system, should be considered instead of the super sewer – particularly in light of new EU legislation on environmental sustainability. Original architect of the sewer Chris Binnie, who was employed by Thames Water to come up with solutions to pollution in the Thames between 2000-2006, now says a revised cost benefit analysis of the £4.1billion pipe means the benefits no longer justify the cost.

Photo news:

H&F at Conservative Party Conference

Greg Hands M.P. with London M.E.P.s and local activists at the Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives lunch at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham last week.

H&F Council rips up social housing rule book
Trailblazing Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is to be the first local authority in the country to simultaneously introduce fixed term social housing tenancies and a maximum income cap for people wishing to access the housing register. The flagship council will be ripping up the social housing rule book from April 2013 when it will introduce a number of radical policies which seek to increase low-cost homeownership, tackle the social and economic divide in the borough and give a far greater priority for council housing to people who are making a community contribution. H&F, has the fourth highest property prices in the UK and one of the highest proportions of social housing in London as a proportion of total housing, with around 34 per cent social rented. That compares to a London average of 25 per cent and a West London average of 21.5 per cent. Just over two per cent of the borough’s housing is intermediate. H&F is also one of the first councils in the country to get back into building homes, after a 30 year absence. These properties are sold at a discounted market rate to those on low to middle incomes who live or work in the borough and might struggle otherwise to get onto the property ladder. The bold new measures which have been praised by the new Housing Minister, Mark Prisk MP, are due to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Monday, October 15. Highlights include: Preventing households earning more than £40,200 from accessing the housing register. Prioritising local, working residents, members of the armed forces and those who make a community contribution for social housing lettings. Ending the notion of a council house for life by introducing five year fixed-term tenancies, with two years for those aged 18-25. Secure tenancies will still be available for the most vulnerable residents. Ending the notion of an inherited welfare benefit by preventing the children of tenants inheriting their council property. Promoting local lettings plans to produce more mixed, balanced and sustainable communities. Breaking the link between a homelessness application and a social housing tenancy and removing the perverse incentives the current system can create. Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing said: “Today we are leading the way in ushering in a new era for social housing in this country. We are saying that the current system, whereby anyone can apply for a council home irrespective of housing need, has failed. We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is outdated and that it’s wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a subsidised house irrespective of housing need. “Instead, we want to give honest, hard-working, local residents on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, the opportunity to access social housing. "The old, antiquated system has created disadvantaged communities by producing concentrations of people on benefits with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and sometimes social breakdown. "In its place, we want to create neighbourhoods where a broad mix of social households all live side-by-side.” Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “Social housing is a valuable resource, but one that has been trapped in a system that helps far fewer people than it should and led to a doubling in waiting lists in the ten years from 1997. "Hammersmith & Fulham are taking firm action to ensure that their homes are reserved for those who genuinely need and deserve them the most. They are using their new local powers to cut waiting lists, and giving greater priority to the Armed Forces, local residents and foster carers. By doing this they are making the most of our common sense reforms to make the social housing system fairer and more responsive." The council has a strong track record of protecting local, vulnerable adults, such as people with dependency issues and victims of domestic violence. The council is committed to further developing a strategic approach to meet the housing needs of these residents. Greg Hands M.P. added: "I have campaigned for years for reforms to social housing allocations, and we need to do more both for local families priced out and for lower cost homes to buy. Put simply, my constituency is currently too polarised between rich and poor, and we need more in the middle." Allocation of council housing The new scheme of allocation will give a greater priority to those who are working, those in training leading to employment and those making a significant contribution to the community, eg ex-service personnel and foster carers. In a recent consultation 61 per cent of respondents said they supported this policy. The council will also only consider granting tenancies for those with a five-year local connection to the borough who are in clear housing need. Those who do not qualify will still be given a package of advice and assistance about their housing options. Those households earning above £40,200 will generally not be eligible to access the housing register. Instead, they will be offered advice on other housing options including joining the Council’s HomeBuy Register. This new way of working will replace an antiquated and inefficient system that created false hopes and expectations. That is because anyone from any part of the country, and indeed overseas, can today apply to go onto the register, which currently stands at 10,300 people. These people are graded according to priority but with resources so scarce and 94 per cent of people on the list on the lowest priority bands, the chance of ever getting social housing is very small. In fact, one person has been on the waiting list in Hammersmith & Fulham for 36 years. Resources are so stretched that last year only 470 new lettings were made. The year before, a total of 131,000 bids were received for social housing and on average each three bedroom property attracted 157 bids. Tenancies Currently most social housing tenants have the right to stay for life unless the tenancy is brought to an end because of a breach. Once the tenant passes away, the right of succession passes onto a family member even if the housing need of the individual is less than other potential applicants. The council believes that this does not promote personal aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home-ownership and fails to take into account the fact that a household’s need for social housing may be temporary. From next year, the council will issue fixed-term tenancies of five years for new social housing lettings. This would be reduced to two years in certain cases. Existing tenants will be unaffected by the new proposals. New tenancies in sheltered accommodation and for those with special housing or health needs will still be on a secure basis. Two year tenancies will be issued for those with a history of antisocial behaviour and for those between the ages of 18 to 25. The proposal to offer two year fixed-term tenancies to younger households was supported by 53 per cent at the recent consultation. The council believes that young people tend to be less experienced than others in managing a tenancy and that the council should be able to review how things are going after a relatively short period and that particular incentives need to be in place to encourage tenants to manage their tenancies well. The council will also be encouraging younger people to look for housing in the private rented sector. The new system will give the council the opportunity to review whether the rationale for granting the tenancy in the first place is still there and will also encourage good behaviour and greater contributions to community life and the local economy. Local Lettings Plans The Council intends to adopt a number of Local Lettings Plans for specific areas so that no one single tenure dominates. Local Lettings Plans offer an opportunity to deliver area-specific outcomes and will help the council to tackle economic and social polarisation by being able to diversify the income and wealth levels of households receiving affordable accommodation. This will help the council to create mixed, balanced and sustainable communities where people of differing ages, ethnicities, incomes and family sizes all live side by side. This approach represents a break from the planning attitudes of the past, when all social rented housing was concentrated in large estates. Homelessness The council will continue to provide accommodation for vulnerable homeless people but there will no longer be an automatic link between a homelessness application and a social housing tenancy. Instead, the council will assist homeless people into the private housing sector, be it inside or outside of the borough. The council believes that the current system can create a number of perverse incentives because people know that if they are accepted as homeless they are guaranteed a council home. For example, around one third of homelessness applications are from people who have been asked to leave by their family or friends. Evidence has shown that some people chose to make themselves homeless as they know that the council will be awarded with a council home.

Royal Borough calls for nominations for volunteers
London's summer of 2012 will be long remembered for the festivities that accompanied the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the fantastic Olympic and Paralympic Games. At the heart of these inspiring events were the volunteers who gave their time and expertise to welcome visitors from all over the world to London and the Royal Borough. It is widely acknowledged that all those who volunteered made a magnificent and defining contribution to the summer's events. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea plan to show their appreciation to the volunteers with a reception at the Mayor's Parlour, Kensington Town Hall on Wednesday 7th November. If you know of someone who helped make this summer so memorable for fellow residents and visitors we want to know. You can nominate a volunteer to attend the reception by contacting the Mayor's Office on mayor@rbkc.gov.uk or 020 7361 3659. So whether it's a person who helped to organise a street party to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee or a hardworking London 2012 Games Maker or Ambassador from the borough, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor want to say thank you. Cllr Christopher Buckmaster, the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: "The volunteers who worked so hard to help us all celebrate the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games did us proud. I think that their efforts made this summer a very special one and it is right that we should thank them for all their hard work and good humour."

Hands in the papers:

Evict Hamza's wife from £1m home, says MP
Richard Alleyne, Duncan Gardham and Jennifer O'Mahony The Daily Telegraph Monday 8th October 2012 Abu Hamza's wife should be evicted from her taxpayer-funded £1m home as most of her children have moved out, her local MP suggested last night. Najat Mostafa, 53, Hamza’s second wife, has lived in a five-bedroom council house for more than 15 years bringing up the couple’s eight children. All but two have moved out according to neighbours in the upmarket area of west London and several have council properties of their own. Her husband was extradited to America last Friday. Hamza, 54, has been in custody since 2004 and is facing a hearing in New York tomorrow to answer charges of terrorist activities in the United States and Yemen. Now Mrs Mostafa, whose neighbours include two former government ministers and a television presenter, faces calls for her eviction. Greg Hands, a local Tory MP, said: “I would strongly welcome any move by the council to take a look at Hamza’s wife’s status and the large council house in one of London’s wealthiest neighbourhoods to see whether something might be done to move Hamza’s family on.” The immediate neighbour is the former Labour cabinet minister John Hutton. Other neighbours include bankers and television producers. Hamza never officially lived in the home in Shepherd’s Bush, which his Moroccan-born wife moved into in 1995 after claiming they had separated. But neighbours said he was often seen at the house until his arrest in August 2004 for incitement to murder and racial hatred. In 2006 he was jailed for seven years. Police raided his council-owned house in 2004 and found thousands of video and audio tapes, ready for distribution, in which he called on followers to launch a holy war against non-believers. Despite living on benefits, Hamza bought a former council flat nearby and then sold it for a £125,000 profit. A £280,000 house belonging to him was seized to pay legal bills. Neighbours said that Mrs Mostafa barely spoke to anyone in the street and “never” stopped to speak to neighbours. “People feel that they should find lesser accommodation, that it would be best if they made a clean break from the neighbourhood,” said one. “There must only be three or four people living there.” Hammersmith and Fulham council, which has spent tens of thousands of pounds on the property while Hamza’s family have been living there, announced last week that it would “rip up the social housing rule book” from April 2013. After that it would introduce a number of radical policies that would give a far greater priority for council housing to people who are making a “community contribution”. But a council spokesman said the rule change would apply only to new tenants from next April and there was little it could do with a longterm tenant such as Mrs Mostafa if she chose to stay in the property.

Hands in the papers:

Abu Hamza's wife 'should be kicked out of her £1m council house' now hate preacher has been extradited to the US, says MP
Daily Mail Monday 8th October 2012 The wife of hate preacher Abu Hamza should be evicted from her taxpayer-funded £1million council house, her local MP said last night. Hamza's second wife Moroccan-born Najat Mostafa, 53, has lived in the five-bedroom property for more than 15 years, bringing up the couple's eight children. But most of them have now moved out, with just two living there according to neighbours in west London. The former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque, who has been in custody since 2004, was extradited to America for trial last Friday. Tomorrow he faces a hearing in New York to answer charges of terrorist activities in the U.S. and Yemen. Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Fulham and Chelsea, told The Daily Telegraph: 'I would strongly welcome any move by the council to take a look at Hamza's wife's status and the large council house in one of London's wealthiest neighbourhoods to see whether something might be done to move Hamza's family on.' One of the family's neighbours is former Labour cabinet minister John Hutton while others include bankers and television producers. Hamza, who is missing both hands and an eye, never officially lived in the Shepherd's Bush house but was often seen there by neighbours before his arrest in August 2004 for incitement to murder and racial hatred. In 2006 he was jailed for seven years. His wife moved into it in 1995 after claiming they had separated. Police raided his council-owned house in 2004 and found thousands of extremist video and audio tapes ready for distribution. In 2006 it emerged he had bought a four-bedroom semi in Greenford for £220,000 cash while in prison. At the same time the Islamist extremist was running up a legal aid bill which had then cost the taxpayer £250,000, and the property was later seized to claw back some of the cash. Neighbours said Mrs Mostafa barely spoke to anyone in the street and never stopped to speak to people living there. Hamza faces 11 charges in the U.S., that include conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998. If found guilty the 55-year-old is likely to die behind bars. The Islamist fanatic lost the last of his countless appeals in a legal farce that has seen him thwart extradition for more than eight years at a cost to taxpayers of millions of pounds.

Hands in the papers:

Possible A&E changes - Charing Cross likely to close. Waiting times questioned
Aemun Reza and Tim Arbabzadah, Felix (The Imperial College Student Newspaper) Friday 5th October 2012 Plans have been made to close the Accident and Emergency departments of both Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals. Instead, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital will be made the main A&E department for the area and will be expanded to handle the extra patients from the borough. Other hospitals that will be affected by these changes are Ealing, Central Middlesex, and West Middlesex. Charing Cross hospital is well known for its hyper-acute stroke unit which will be moved to St. Mary’s as NHS bosses say that they need to site hyper acute stroke units evenly across London to minimise journey times. Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s community care cabinet member Marcus Ginn said “Moving the world class stroke unit from Charing Cross to St Mary’s is madness”. In a public consultation that began July 2nd and will end October 6th, people can vote out of three choices. As shown in the picture on page 4, the three options show that Hammersmith will become a specialist hospital. Option A and Option C show Charing Cross becoming a local hospital and Chelsea and Westminster becoming a Major hospital. At this point, it seems that Option A may be most likely. If these changes go ahead it is would leave 700,000 people without an A&E in their area. The Chelsea and Fulham MP, Greg Hands, stated his concerns about how this would affect patient care. Talking to Felix, he said “it’s difficult to see how the Chelsea and Westminster hospital will cope with a massive influx of patients… and getting to Chelsea may be difficult and, potentially, life-threatening for many of my constituents in Fulham. Traffic in our part of London is bad at the best of times, but we all know how gridlocked things can become. What happens when the roads are closed for football at Chelsea FC is anyone’s guess. We know that ambulances will take longer to reach patients and longer to get them to a hospital with the right specialism. For stroke, that will involve going all the way to St Mary’s.” Opposition to the move called Save our Hospitals that have been organising events and meet-ups, will be marching tomorrow Saturday 6th October from Shepherds Bush to Charing Cross to protest against the closure of West London’s A&Es. Other opposition groups have started online petitions that have gathered up to 6216 signatures to save Charing Cross Hospital and 1499 signatures to save Hammersmith hospital. Hammersmith and Fulham’s Labour MP, Andy Slaughter, said on his website that he was told the “unbelievable news that Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is campaigning for closure of Charing Cross. I am writing to the Chair to ask him stop immediately. I know of no other instance of a hospital actively campaigning to have another hospital closed. The trust is actually distributing postcards, asking patients to vote for Option A – which closes Charing Cross!” He mentioned his disapproval over the proposed changes as they are “ruining the NHS” and that “the damage had already gone too far and must be resisted”. If the Imperial NHS Trust becomes a Foundation Trust, they can sell most of Charing Cross for hundreds of millions. The land value for Charing Cross Hospital is exceedingly large as anyone who buys the land will be able to build up to the same height as the building that they knock down, which would be fourteen stories for Charing Cross Hospital. The Imperial NHS trust has already been under fire over its record handling and this questions the competence of the trust as a whole and its ability to manage such dramatic changes to patient care. Greg Hands said that ‘the whole process is in danger of being driven by land values and the Trust’s ambitions instead of the best care for patients across West London’. Greg Hands continued on to say that “making sure there is 24/7 cover from consultants is obviously good; leaving an entire London borough without an A&E is not. At the moment, this seems to be about Imperial NHS Trust’s needs, not patients’ needs. I am fighting hard to change that”. Medical students of Imperial College London use both hospitals for teaching, and concerns have been made as to how this will affect Imperial medics. If the plans go through Charing Cross will no longer be a teaching hospital, which will have a big impact on the way medicine is taught at Imperial. ICSM President, Shiv Vohra, commented saying: “At the moment students are in the dark as to what the proposals will mean for their future education, and would like to be kept in the loop about the planned changes and how it will affect them. Particularly in relation to the Charing Cross hospital, which is the hub of the medical school.” Felix asked a spokeswoman from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, about whether the changes would have a positive or negative effect on education. In her response she mentioned that, “the three options will affect the Trust in differing ways and as a consultee the Trust is considering what the proposals mean for our services, staff and sites. We have agreed with Imperial College London that we will formulate a joint response as an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) as it is crucial that the feedback includes how these proposals will affect the AHSC’s tripartite mission of vastly improving healthcare through service, education and research.” With the public consultation ending on 6th October and the proposed changes taking up to three years to be implemented, it could be a while before the exact effects to medical students and patients is known.

Hands in the papers:

Greg Hands welcomes Boris Bikes to Fulham
The Evening Standard’s Capital Live blog Monday 8th October 2012 Boris bikes have come to Fulham! There is now a stand near Parsons Green station. MP Greg Hands has been campaigning for this.

5 ways to contact Greg Hands M.P.:
By Phone: By email: By post: In person: 020 7219 5448 mail@greghands.com Greg Hands M.P. House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Click here for details of how to book an appointment at Greg Hands M.P.’s weekly surgery

www.greghands.com

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