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9 November 2012 15:45

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In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.’s Diary Website of the Week: The Royal British Legion Photo news: Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservative Future Councils lead new phase in fight against fraud Heathrow says ‘wrong kind of wind’ to blame for aircraft noise Hundreds of low-cost homes for sale are to be built in Hammersmith & Fulham Royal Borough shortlisted for ‘safeguarding children’ award The Conservative Party Chairman writes... A clear message for the second half of this Parliament Hands in the papers: Hamza family's history of criminality How to contact Greg Hands M.P.

Issue 350 - Friday 9th November 2012

Since the last edition, Greg:
Attended the Royal Hospital Ward Conservatives, Chelsea, with guest speaker former Defence Secretary, Sir John Nott. Discussed with senior management at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital the recent “Exposure” TV programme which made allegations about the hospital. Met with one of the TV stations seeking to run local TV for London. Attended the opening of the “Salon QP” exhibition of ground breaking UK and Swiss technology in the field of watchmaking, at the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea. For more about Salon QP, see www.salonqp.com. As Government Treasury Whip, had two days in committee to steer through the Government’s groundbreaking Public Service Pensions Bill, which seeks to reform public sector pensions and put them on a more affordable footing. Attended an evening book discussion with Janan Ganesh, author of a recent biography of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP. Conducted a surgery for local Chelsea and Fulham residents at Fulham Methodist Church. Greg’s surgeries are generally weekly, and held weekly, at either Fulham Methodist Church, Fulham Broadway, or Peter Jones, Sloane Square. To make an appointment, email mail@greghands.com or telephone 020 7219 5448.

 

Website of the Week:

www.britishlegion.org.uk
The website of the Royal British Legion, the forces charity which administers the Poppy Appeal. Greg will be at the Remembrance Sunday service in Sloane Square, Chelsea, on Sunday. There will also be a service at the Fulham War Memorial, Putney Bridge Approach Road.

 

Photo news:

Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservative Future

Greg Hands M.P. with members of the Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservatives last week, in the Durrell Arms, Fulham Road.

Councils lead new phase in fight against fraud
A new phase in the fight against fraud was announced on Thursday 8th November when three leading London councils begin a monthlong fraud awareness campaign to targets fraudsters in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham. Investigators will undertake proactive operations during the campaign which will focus upon all types of fraud affecting local authorities, including housing benefit fraud, blue badge fraud, council tax fraud and housing fraud. During the campaign fraud investigators from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council will work with the Peabody Housing Association, which manages over 4,500 properties in west London, to increase awareness of tenancy fraud which is reckoned to cost the taxpayer over £900 million a year. Peabody, like many other housing associations, does not have a dedicated fraud unit. During the month anti-fraud investigators from the Royal Borough and Westminster will share data and resources with Peabody to investigate suspected fraud. Any properties which are recovered as a result of successful investigations will be allocated to the councils to be relet to people on housing waiting lists. Launching the fraud awareness month with the support of the National Fraud Authority (NFA), the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Peabody Housing Association, the three councils announced the establishment of an Action Fraud hotline 0300 123 2040 that will be linked to the National Fraud Agency's reporting centre. Fraud against one section of a council, such as tenancy fraud, is often linked to other types of fraud, so the three councils will pass on any leads to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) which is overseen by the City of London Police. This is the first time that local authorities will have used the Action Fraud hotline and the NFIB in this way. Speaking at the launch, the Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, said: "Fraud is a crime that we are all increasingly exposed to. We in the public sector take the issue of fraud very seriously. Every penny stolen by fraudsters is a penny less that we can spend on front line services to protect the most vulnerable in our society. That is why I welcome the launch of this fraud awareness month to draw the public's attention to these issues, raise awareness among our own staff and to collectively share vital intelligence and information to help us to better prevent and detect fraud." Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Baroness Hanham said: "I am pleased that the councils are piloting the approaches recommended in the Government's Fighting Fraud Locally report, which sets out how to tackle the £2bn of local fraud through better detection and fraud recovery, as well as extending their help and experience in dealing with fraud, to social landlords. They cannot afford to have resources meant for vulnerable people being stolen by fraudsters. Fighting fraud will help local councils protect front line services as well as ensure Taxpayers' hard-earned money is not wasted." The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been working with registered housing providers for some time and last year recovered more than 70 social housing properties, which amounts to ten per cent of the borough's annual housing allocations. In addition anti-fraud teams from the three councils have over the past two years, recovered more than 200 social housing properties, prosecuted 130 people for fraud, including the first for subletting a social tenancy, and uncovered benefit fraud worth more than £2 million. Westminster City Council's antifraud tsar, Cllr Lindsey Hall, said: "Whether the fraud relates to the illegal subletting of Social Housing or the abuse of Housing Benefit to fund tenancies in the private sector for subletting, fraudsters need to understand that the game is now up. Where in the past they have been able to exploit the gaps in the system between Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Benefits' agencies; we are now closing ranks and talking to each other thanks to this new partnership and enhanced data sharing." The month-long campaign will conclude with a special workshop on tenancy fraud for housing associations in the three boroughs. Over the next month, the councils will be trialling toolkits produced by the NFA to raise awareness of the work to combat fraud based on the central Government fraud awareness campaign `Spot it, Stop it' and `Spot the Cheater', the toolkit will be eventually rolled out nationally. Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Cabinet Member for Residents' Services Cllr Greg Smith said: "We are always looking at new and innovative ways of tackling housing tenancy fraud and catching benefit cheats, who steal millions of pounds every year, direct from decent taxpayers' pockets. As this hotline links up the councils and the National Fraud Agency from the beginning of any investigation, we are sharing information more easily, being efficient and giving ourselves more opportunities to catch criminals and fraudsters than ever." Peabody Director of Neighbourhoods, Joe Joseph said: "This partnership strengthens the already existing relationships between Peabody and the councils. This project will no doubt increase the detection of those that commit tenancy fraud and I hope make them feel less comfortable with their dishonesty."

Heathrow says ‘wrong kind of wind’ to blame for aircraft noise
A massive spike in Heathrow aircraft noise complaints is due to ‘the wrong kind of wind’, according to airport bosses. The bizarre claim was made by representatives from Heathrow Airport’s owners, BAA, who were hauled into Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday night (6th November) to face a barrage of questions from councillors and angry residents. The number of complaints about aircraft noise over west London has rocketed by more than 900% – from more than 200 in June to a spike of around 1,800 in August, according to official BAA statistics. Councillors probed BAA about the massive increase in complaints – suspecting that they may be due to the relaxation of runway rules under an on-going ”Operational Freedoms” trial which allows the airport operator to use runways simultaneously under certain conditions. However, BAA’s Director of Airside, Tim Hardy, kicked up a storm by claiming: “The significant increase in noise complaints is probably due to the unusual weather we’ve had recently which has seen 90% of wind coming from the west between July and September. This has meant that planes have had to fly more regularly over west London, including Hammersmith & Fulham.” Planes land and take off into the wind for safety reasons and – as the wind mainly blows from the west, off the Atlantic, for most of the time in London and the South East – this means that aircraft usually make their final approach to Heathrow over central London and Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F). On a typical day, around 665 aircraft fly over the borough with the earliest typically starting at 4:20am and flights continuing throughout the day, at intervals of about one every 90 seconds, until around midnight. Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Cabinet Member for Transport & Technical Services, said: “Blaming the wrong wind direction for a 900% increase in Heathrow noise complaints is like blaming the wrong leaves on the line when the trains were constantly delayed. If a bit of wind can dramatically increase the noise hell that west London residents are enduring then it proves that the UK’s hub airport is fundamentally in the wrong place. ”It makes no sense for thousands of planes to roar over densely populated areas, where millions of people live, when they could be making their final approach over water if the airport was to the east of London.” H&F Council has consistently argued that a third runway, or any other form of expansion, at Heathrow would bring extra noise hell for residents, more air pollution put further pressure on overstretched roads and public transport in the area and still not create a ‘fit for purpose’ hub airport. Fulham resident Fiona Evans, from Parsons Green Lane, said: “The noise is terrible on my street. Where are the noise monitors to measure the decibel levels? I am inviting BAA to come to my home and experience the aircraft noise that I am enduring at 4:30am.” Banim Road resident Tom Lambert added: “It is a basic human right to be able to sleep in one’s own bed at night. Sleep deprivation is a massive quality of life issue in west London and I don’t know many people who enjoy being woken up at 4:30am whatever the so-called benefits to BAA.” Greg Hands M.P. added “Like many of my Chelsea and Fulham residents, I am awoken from as early as 4:30am by aircraft noise. Of all those who suffer from aircraft noise across the whole of Europe, 1/3 of them live under the flight paths to Heathrow Airport. I say ‘no’ to the third runway and ‘no’ to night flights.” H&F Council is part of the 2M campaign group that blocked a previous plan to expand Heathrow in the High Court in 2010. The 2M Group argue that a third runway at Heathrow would do little to ensure new connections to emerging markets in China and elsewhere since there would be nothing to stop airlines using the fresh runway slots to fly to existing, more profitable, locations rather than new, higher-risk destinations. In their response to the government’s draft aviation policy framework, the councils said: “The choice of where planes fly to is made by neither the airport owner nor the government. It is made by the airlines who will naturally prioritise the more profitable routes.” The government has established an independent commission to examine the UK’s airport capacity. Led by Sir Howard Davies, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, it is not expected to publish its final conclusions until 2015, after the next general election. But the 2M group of councils are calling for Heathrow to be ruled out of the process, allowing the decision to be brought forward and easing uncertainty over the airport’s future. Residents, who are disturbed by aircraft noise, should respond directly to BAA so that concerns are formally logged in their consultation. Visit www.heathrowairport.com/noise or call 0800 344 844 or email noise_complaints@baa.com.

Hundreds of low-cost homes for sale are to be built in Hammersmith & Fulham
Hundreds of new low cost homes to buy will be built on council land to ease the pressure on aspiring home owners in one of the UK's most expensive boroughs it was announced on 5th November. Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is set to build at least 500 new homes on its land over the next five years in an innovative joint venture between its housing company and a private sector partner. In one of the biggest house-building projects of its kind, the council is set to make it easier for residents on modest and middle incomes to purchase a home in Britain's fourth most expensive borough by increasing the number of low-cost home-ownership schemes locally. The average price of a new home in H&F is over £581,000, compared to a UK average of just £162,000, meaning that getting a foot on the housing ladder is virtually impossible for many people. Just over two per cent of the borough’s housing are low cost homes to buy - whilst 34 per cent is social rented. Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “We’ve got the fourth highest property prices and thousands of local people who want low cost home-ownership. Yet at the moment low cost homes to buy in this borough are like gold dust. We are determined to change that by creating a Borough of Housing Opportunity whereby hardworking local residents, on modest and middle incomes, can fulfil their housing aspirations and buy a local home for a reasonable price. Local authorities have a key role to play in unlocking new housing growth, so we’re maximising our housing land estates to provide much needed new homes and generate cash to invest in our existing stock." It is anticipated that the joint venture’s lifespan will be for an initial period of 15 years and the council has initially identified two development opportunities, which are in its ownership, in Fulham Watermeadow Court Estate and Edith Summerskill House. Edith Summerskill House on the Clem Attlee Estate is an empty, 18storey, former council block. The building is in need of more than £6million pounds worth of improvements to bring it up to standard and the council does not believe it to be in the best interests of the taxpayer to carry out the work. Redevelopment of the site will involve a complete refurbishment or possibly demolition and rebuild. Watermeadow Court in South Fulham currently comprises 80 not-fitfor-purpose residential units over three storeys. When the council asked residents what they thought of the block, they responded that rooms are too small, with a severe lack of storage space, meaning many families were living in cramped conditions. By working with a private developer through a joint venture, rather than simply selling the blocks to get a capital receipt, the council will be able to retain greater control over what the land is used for and make its housing assets work much harder. The council will also receive a share of the profits – far in excess of the amount it would receive if it simply sold the land off. The proceeds will be ploughed back into similar schemes, estate improvements and reducing the council’s £200million of housing debt. If these sites were to be sold on the open market, the council would be likely to receive far less money and retain less control. Cllr Johnson continues: “Through this joint venture we aim to ease the pressure on the hardworking strivers who are currently locked out of the local housing market. In the process we will also boost the local construction industry creating more much-needed local jobs.” The council’s local housing company ‘Hidden Homes’ programme is already well underway and sees the council converting underused undercrofts, bin stores, pramsheds and garages on council estate land into flats that are sold at a fraction of the market rate. The first property, at Becklow Gardens, Shepherds Bush, has just been sold to a 30 year-old hospital worker who has spent her entire life living with her parents on the estate and has not been able to buy her own place in the borough. Planning permission has recently been granted for the next site, with a pipeline of further eight sites are currently being progressed through the design and planning process. The entire ‘Hidden Homes’ scheme could see more than 100 new homes built over the next five years. The Council now hopes to team up with a private sector partner to set up a long term joint venture to carry out several schemes of residentially led regeneration. The Council is seeking a reputable partner who shares its vision and is able to demonstrate long term commitment to regeneration and high quality residential developments. This could lead to around 200 homes constructed in the next five years, many of which will low cost homes to buy. The Council will be holding an informal Market Briefing Event for interested parties on Thursday November 15, 2012 at Hammersmith Town Hall, King Street, London, W6 from 10am until 12 noon (registration and refreshments from 9.30am) The council's local housing company also intends to begin an innovative house building scheme using modern methods of construction. A number of sites across the borough are being identified that could benefit from highly flexible and adaptable family homes that can also fit into tight urban spaces. These infill development sites are considered suitable for development of up to 50 new homes per site. Due to the relatively constrained nature of sites, innovative solutions in terms of design and construction is being sought. It is anticipated that several hundred more properties could be built through this programme. Greg Hands M.P. added “I strongly support H&F Council’s moves to create more lower cost home ownership. This is exactly the kind of housing that my constituency is short of.”

Royal Borough shortlisted for ‘safeguarding children’ award
Efforts by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to develop innovative ways of working to enhance the quality of help received by families and children have led to the Council being shortlisted for the London Safeguarding Children Award 2012. The project, `Involved by Right' aims to improve the way social workers listen to the children they work with to help them gain a better understanding of children's needs andto address important child welfare and safety concerns. Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Cabinet Member for Family and Children's Services, said: "In Kensington and Chelsea we believe strongly in listening to the views of children and I am very pleased that the excellent work we do as part of our `Involved by Right' project has been shortlisted for this award." `Involved by Right' is funded by the European Union's `DAPHNE' programme, and is delivered in partnership with Barnardos, the National Children's Bureau, and European partners from Italy and Sweden. Children and young people are closely involved in the project and have come together in each others' countries to explore participation topics and share experiences. The awards are run by the London Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) with London Councils, supported by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), and celebrate innovation and good practice among organisations dealing with safeguarding children in London.

The Conservative Party Chairman writes...

A clear message for the second half of this Parliament
Grant Shapps M.P. Thursday 8th November 2012 Yesterday in the House, both parties welcomed the re-election of Barack Obama. An incumbent leader has been returned to the White House. Incumbency is of course a massive factor in US politics – an incumbent has been unseated only a handful of times in history. The reason for this is clear. For all the bumps and knocks you get along the way as a government, getting your message out is much easier when you’re already standing on the podium. For the four years of his first term, Obama’s grassroots and digital campaigns never ceased. It’s an important lesson for UK politics. This week, as we enter the second half of this parliament, there won’t be any fireworks to mark the midterm. Yet on the ground, the campaign has already begun. This time it isn’t about gaining political capital – it’s about real lives and real people. As the Obama campaign demonstrates, it’s not about a rush to the finish, but a steady and determined campaign that demonstrates what we’ve been doing in government to get this country back on her feet – and our messages must be crystal clear. First, we needed the private sector to grow sustainably and create jobs – two years in and we’re on the right track. We’re rebalancing the economy and when people hear that we’ve already cut the deficit by a quarter, people are reassured to know that the pain is generating results. That’s matched by our reduction of borrowing in the public sector. Net borrowing has fallen by 29 per cent since we took office – something that’s key to keeping our finances in check and mortgage rates low. Working to balance the books will remain our number one priority during the second half of this parliament. Supporting employment is our third measure. Nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs have been created since the last election. There are now nearly 30 million people in work – that’s more people in work than ever before and there are more women in work. But we can and must go further still. Fourth, our reforms to the welfare system are also putting hardworking people on the right side of the equation. Thanks to Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit, work will always pay from now on. So we’re firmly on the side of people who do the right thing and want to get on in life. And finally, we’re protecting our communities. Crime has fallen by 10 per cent since the general election. But we haven’t just cut crime, we’ve also unashamedly put ourselves on the side of the homeowner. When people work hard and build something for their family, they should know that the government isn’t trying to take it all away from them again. Standing at the midpoint of this parliament it’s becoming apparent that the difficult decisions we’ve faced are just starting to pay dividends for Britain’s hard-working families. In 2015 the choice for voters will be this: throw away these hard-earned gains by trusting the very people who placed this country at peril in the first place, or to allow the time to finish the job and help the natural aspiration and ambition of this country shine. We have an incredibly important message and 910 days to the next election to deliver it.

Hands in the papers:

Hamza family's history of criminality
Lucy Kinder, The Daily Telegraph Thursday 8th November 2012 Imran Mostafa is one of four of the hate preacher's sons to be convicted of a serious offence. The family has cost the tax-payer millions in legal fees and benefits. Four of his sons have been convicted of criminal offences. The convictions for his sons, which include his stepson, range from plotting a terrorist campaign to fraud. Abu Hamza's eldest son Mohamed Mostafa and his stepson Mohssin Ghailam were both jailed for their part in planning a terrorist bombing campaign in Yemen. Mostafa was sentenced to three years and Ghailam, then 18, was sentenced to seven years in jail. When he convicted men were arrested the authorities found rocketpropelled grenades, TNT explosives, anti-tank rockets, mines, laptops and communications equipment. Mohamed Mostafa is Abu Hamza's son from his first marriage to Valerie Fleming. She met and married him in 1980 when she was 26 and he worked as a receptionist in a London hostel. Abu Hamza then married his second wife, Najat Mostafa, with whom he has seven children, as well as his stepson Mohssin Ghailam. Ghailam was born before Ms Mostafa married Abu Hamza. Mohamed Mostafa and Mohssin Ghailam were arrested again in 2008, along with their brother Hamza Kamel. They were jailed for their part in a £1 million luxury car scam to help fund a party lifestyle. The men helped steal and sell cars such as Mercedes, BMWs and Range Rovers in a sophisticated ringing scam. They obtained documents fraudulently for the cars and either sold them or used them as collateral for loans which were not paid back Mostafa had pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, which involved the use of a false French passport, and was jailed for two years. Ghailam was described as a "key player" in the scam and was jailed for four years. Abu Hamza's fourth son Imran Mostafa will today be sentenced for his part in an armed robbery at a jewellers. Najat Mostafa, 53 has lived in a taxpayer-funded £1 million council house for more than 15 years. Last month Conservative MP Greg Hands called for her eviction. He 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.” In 2008 the TaxPayers' Alliance estimated that the Abu Hamza family had cost the taxpayer £2.75 million. They say that four years later, it is impossible to put a figure on the latest costs. Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Given the number of access points that Abu Hamza and his family had to the welfare state, it's almost impossible to determine just how much taxpayers have forked out. "That said, with NHS costs, benefits, social housing and legal bills it's likely to be well in the millions of pounds, which is a huge sum of money" Abu Hamza was extradited last month after eight-year-long legal battle Legal cases involving hate preacher Abu Hamza cost taxpayers almost £1million. The hook-handed extremist, who was finally kicked out of the country last month, benefited from almost £680,000 in legal aid money from the public purse. Robert Oxley, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘The cost of booting out this vile hate preacher has been tremendous. Taxpayers appear to have been the last ones in anyone’s thoughts during Hamza’s drawnout but ultimately futile legal fight.’

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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Greg Hands M.P. – a strong voice for Chelsea & Fulham
Published & Promoted by Jonathan Fraser-Howells on behalf of Greg Hands M.P., both of 1a Chelsea Manor Street, London SW3 5RP

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