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16 November 2012 12:13
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In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.’s Diary Website of the Week: Fulham Palace Remembrance Sunday in Chelsea Government on track to save £8bn this year First Right to Buy sale in H&F using Government's extended discount scheme Heathrow poll launched as noise complaints soar GPs revolt over hospital plans How to contact Greg Hands M.P.
Issue 351 - Friday 16th November 2012
Since the last edition, Greg:
Laid a wreath at the Remembrance Day service at Sloane Square, Chelsea, and attended other Remembrance events. For more, and photos, see below. As the Government’s Treasury Whip, spent two days in a Commons Committee debating the Government’s Public Service Pensions Bill, which reforms public sector pensions and puts them onto a more sustainable footing. Held two surgeries for Chelsea and Fulham residents at the Fulham Methodist Church, Fulham Broadway. Greg’s surgeries are held generally every Monday at Fulham Methodist Church, or at Peter Jones, Sloane Square. To make an appointment, email email@example.com or call 020 7219 5448.
Website of the Week:
The website of Fulham Palace, the only Grade 1 listed building in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. The building dates from Tudor times, and is surrounded by lovely grounds. Autumn is the perfect time for your visit. Tomorrow (Saturday, 17th November) is the Fulham Palace Wedding Show.
Remembrance Sunday in Chelsea
Greg Hands M.P. joins RBKC Mayor Cllr. Christopher Buckmaster in laying wreaths at the war memorial, Sloane Square. Greg Hands M.P. was honoured to join the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster, who led a Remembrance Sunday service on Sunday 11th November to honour the soldiers killed and injured in war and conflict. The ceremony, which took place at the war memorial in Sloane Square, was observed by representatives from units of the armed forces which have the Freedom of the Royal Borough, cadets from many youth organisations and representatives from a range of civilian organisations. They were also joined by London MEP Dr Charles Tannock and all of the councillors representing wards in Chelsea. Commenting on the services, the Mayor, said: "Remembrance Sunday provides us with an opportunity to stop and reflect on the sacrifices made by previous generations, and indeed today's generation. The Two Minute Silence was observed with complete silence and respect on the stroke of eleven. It was a deeply moving mark of respect to all those involved in past conflicts and - of course those who are fighting now in Afghanistan. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones. Every day they all pay a huge price on our behalf." Greg Hands M.P. added: "I alternate each year between Chelsea and Fulham for Remembrance Sunday. In Chelsea this year, there was a moving commemoration on Sloane Square, a parade by local cadets and reserve forces, a church service in Holy Trinity Church and a reception in Cadogan Hall. It was all a very fitting tribute to the fallen and maimed from the Borough."
Greg Hands M.P. with Dr Charles Tannock M.E.P. at the reception for Remembrance Day, Cadogan Hall, Chelsea, 11th November 2012.
Government on track to save £8bn this year
Greg Hands M.P. has welcomed interim results showing that government departments have saved £3.1 billion so far this financial year. They are now expected to achieve efficiency savings of more than £8 billion during 2012/13. The interim departmental results of £3.1 billion build on £5.5 billion of savings in 2011/12, and £3.75 billion during 2010/11. They include: £680 million saved through the moratorium on consultancy and the extension of existing consultancy contracts; £170 million saved from the in-year cost of the government’s property estate by exiting unnecessary properties and questioning each and every lease break; £295 million saved through the Government’s bulk-buying power, pooling spend on goods and services used by different departments; and £900 million saved in salary cost by reducing the size of the Civil Service through stronger controls on non-essential recruitment. Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: “Our fundamental programme of reform is changing the way Whitehall operates and driving efficiency savings to make every taxpayer pound count. “Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of civil servants in the Efficiency and Reform Group and beyond we have helped departments save £3.1 billion so far this financial year, putting us on track to save £8 billion by year end. “We have said we want to be saving £20 billion a year by 2015 and savings of this magnitude cannot come by trimming budgets here and there. That’s why we are working to transform Whitehall into a leaner, more efficient machine that manages its finances like the best-run businesses.” Greg Hands M.P. added: “As we work to reduce the huge deficit left by Labour, every pound we can save protects services and the taxpayer. The big-spending waste we inherited has to end. “These savings show excellent progress. This Government is getting our finances back under control and fulfilling its duties towards hardworking taxpayers.”
First Right to Buy sale in H&F using Government's extended discount scheme
A Hammersmith couple have become the first people in the borough to buy their home with a £75,000 Right to Buy extended discount. Tarek Tuzani and his partner Laura Stevens have taken advantage of the revamped scheme to purchase their former council flat in Standish House, St Peter’s Grove. In May 2012, the couple, who have an 18 month-old daughter, were became the first people in the country to apply to buy their home through the revamped scheme. The Government has recently increased the maximum discount that council tenants can receive if they wish to buy their own home from £16,000 to £75,000. And that has seem a surge of interest in Hammersmith & Fulham with over 700 people attending the council’s Right to Buy roadshows and more than 300 people applying for the scheme. Tarek, 32, was quickest off the block and is delighted that he has now found his way onto the housing ladder. He said: “I am thrilled to own the flat and it is a wonderful feeling to know that it is finally all mine. The £75,000 was an incredible help – without it would have taken me many more years to save for the deposit. “Laura and I felt especially proud when we opened the front door for the first time as owners of the property. It is a big relief to finally be on the property ladder after what seemed an age. The future seems a lot more secure knowing we finally own a home. “The process took around six months in total. The council’s Home Buy team were a pleasure to deal with but thinks did drag a little with the legal side of things. “I would certainly recommend Right to Buy to other council tenants who want to buy their property – it really is a no-brainer.” Cllr Andrew Johnson, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This borough has the fourth most expensive housing in the country which means that many honest, hard-working people, just like Tarek and Laura, are unable to get onto the property ladder without a kick-start. “The extended Right to Buy discount means that homeownership has now become a viable proposition for hundreds, if not thousands of our tenants. There is absolutely no doubt that owning your own home gives you a sense of pride and a sense of empowerment. “Hammersmith & Fulham is a borough of housing opportunity with home ownership at its core and it is always fantastic to see young people like Tarek and Laura able to make that all-important first step onto the housing ladder.” Right to Buy has helped thousands of council tenants in H&F to buy their own home since it launched over 30 years ago, but completions under the scheme all but collapsed when the maximum discount in the capital was reduced in 2004 from £38,000 to £16,000. The move led to a slump from 245 Right to Buy sales in 2004/2005 to only seven in H&F last year. If you are interested in finding out about Right to Buy in Hammersmith and Fulham email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8753 6464. To qualify, residents must meet certain criteria. For example the tenant must have been living in the property for at least five years. The property must also be the tenant’s only or principal home. Other conditions apply.
Heathrow poll launched as noise complaints soar
A surge in Heathrow aircraft noise complaints has prompted the council to launch a quick poll to gauge local reaction to the relaxation of runway rules at the airport. Last week it emerged that the number of aircraft noise complaints over west London has rocketed by nearly 900% – from more than 200 in June to a spike of around 1,800 in August. Concerns over increased aircraft noise – due to BAA’s trial of new runway rules at Heathrow Airport – have been soaring in west London since the summer, according to Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) council. Residents living under the flight path have been voicing concerns over the ‘Operational Freedoms’ trial – which allows the airport's operator BAA to use runways simultaneously under certain circumstances. H&F Council is encouraging residents who are disturbed by aircraft noise to respond to BAA directly, so that their concerns are formally logged in the consultation, but has now also launched a poll of its own. The quick poll – which asks for a yes or no answer – poses the question: ‘Has Heathrow Airport's trial of relaxed runway rules affected you? For example, have you noticed more aircraft noise?’. Vote now >> Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Technical Services, says: “BAA’s relaxing of runway rules at Heathrow has triggered a wave of aircraft noise misery for thousands of residents under the flight path. The constant whining and deafening roars from more planes overhead is intolerable and I would encourage anyone who has been disturbed by these trials to make their views known.” Historically the airport has used a runway alternation system which means using one runway for arrivals and the other for departures. Traditionally their use is switched halfway through the day at 3pm to give residents a predictable period of relief from aircraft noise. At certain times BAA is already allowed to use both runways simultaneously for arrivals, mainly to clear backlogs of flights. However, under the current trials – which started on July 1 and last until March 2013 – the threshold for triggering dual use of the runways has been lowered. Both runways are now being used when planes face a 10-minute wait to land or take off or if there is more widespread disruption to the airport’s flight schedules, for example due to bad weather. 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. H&F Council has consistently argued that any form of expansion at Heathrow, including a third runway, would bring extra noise hell for residents, more air pollution put further pressure on overstretched roads and public transport in the area. H&F Council is part of the 2M campaign group that blocked a previous plan to expand Heathrow in the High Court in 2010. In addition to voting on the council quick poll 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 email@example.com.
GPs revolt over hospital plans
A group of doctors representing a quarter of patients in Hammersmith & Fulham are rebelling against NHS plans to downgrade two local hospitals. Central Hammersmith GP Network, which represents five doctor’s surgeries and a quarter of Hammersmith & Fulham’s population, says it has a ‘high level of concern’ about accident and emergency unit closures and is ‘unable to support’ the NHS’ controversial proposals. The doctors’ group has written to NHS North West London’s director of Shaping a Healthier Future, Daniel Elkeles, about their fears for local health services as the council warns the NHS plans could lead to the closure of Charing Cross Hospital. Just last week the NHS claimed that GPs back the plans saying “clinicians all over north-west London have said they believe it is the right way to develop better care, and they strongly believe it is in the best interests of their patients” but the letter directly contradicts the NHS’ assertion. The GPs, serving more than 45,000 patients, say they cannot understand the reasoning behind the closures. They write: “The proposed closure of the emergency departments at both Charing Cross Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital gives both our patients and we GPs a high level of concern as to how this service will be provided in the future. “The reasoning behind these proposals remains unclear to us and to our patients despite the recent events and meetings in Hammersmith & Fulham. There appears to be a lack of detail to support the propositions and to help patients and GPs understand the move from hospital based care to a more community based care service. “In particular the proposals offer non-admission alternatives to in patient care and the displacement of services for critically ill patients to hospitals outside of this area may well have an adverse effect on outcomes. The downgrading of these services locally cannot be replaced by an “elastoplast” alternative model of care.” The doctors also urge the NHS to carry out further engagement with local GPs, medical practices and patients who would be affected by the changes, as they say there has not been enough clarity about what the proposals actually mean. Doctors at North End Road Medical Centre, representing 16,500 west London patients, have also confirmed they do not support controversial changes being pushed through by the NHS. The GPs’ views are backed by H&F Council’s cabinet member for community care, Cllr Marcus Ginn, who says: “Only last week the NHS tried to claim that clinicians back their plans to downgrade local hospitals but we now know this is simply not true. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the GPs who realise that the community care that will be needed to look after residents’ health is not yet ready to deal with thousands of extra, displaced patients. “We are urging NHS NWL to listen to these doctors, who know the area and work every day with our residents in the heart of our community, and to take their concerns seriously. We cannot allow the current NHS plans, which would see the valuable Charing Cross site stripped so bare that it will be forced to close, to go through as they stand today.” Dr David Wingfield works at Brook Green Medical Centre and is part of the Central Hammersmith GP Network. He has been a practising GP for 23 years and spoke at the Save Our Hospitals public meeting in September at Hammersmith Town Hall. He said: “We are very concerned about these proposals. We do not accept that option A (downgrading Charing Cross) is an appropriate way forward. H&F will lose disproportionately more than other areas. The pace of change will be hectic and our concern is patient safety. What are the safeguards when 1,000 beds are lost out of 4,500?”
5 ways to contact Greg Hands M.P.:
By Phone: By email: By post: In person: 020 7219 5448 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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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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