From: Greg Hands M.P. news@greghands.com Subject: News Bulletin from Greg Hands M.P.

#396 Date: 10 March 2014 11:20 To: news@greghands.com

In this edition:
Greg Hands M.P.’s Diary Website of the Week: The Brunswick Club Greg Hands welcomes UK’s biggest Council Tax cut in Hammersmith & Fulham, and £100 cashback in Kensington & Chelsea Any future Labour or Lib – Lab Coalition Government would hit local residents hard with their “Homes Tax” (called by them a “Mansion Tax”) Artists impressions of new Hammersmith “Flyunder” are released Landmark deal offers improved Broadband and Internet access in Hammersmith & Fulham First World War Centenary celebrated in Kensington & Chelsea Home ownership ladder brought down a few rungs lower ! How to contact Greg Hands M.P.

Issue 396 - Monday 10th March 2014

Since the last edition, Greg:
Was sworn in by H.M. The Queen to her Privy Council in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Greg is the newest member of the Privy Council. The Duke of Edinburgh is the longest-standing. For more on this role, see http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/privy-council/. Welcomed confirmation from both Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea Councils of their respective Council Tax cuts and rebates. For more, see below. Gave a talk and answered questions from the Lower Sixth Form politics class at the London Oratory School, Seagrave Road, Fulham. Met with his fellow trustees of the Brunswick Club for Young People. The Club provides sport and leisure facilities for boys and girls. Attended the diplomatic reception of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, held at Kensington Town Hall, hosted by the Mayor, Cllr. Charles Williams. Met representatives of the London Chambers of Commerce to hear their views on the forthcoming UK Budget. Attended a meeting of London Conservative MPs with Mayor Boris Johnson to help launch the Council elections campaign for 2014. Polling Day is Thursday, 22nd May. Was interviewed by “Londynek”, the website for Poles living in London. Greg spoke warmly of the huge contribution being made in West London by Polish communities through many generations. Was interviewed by Czech Radio Dzurnal on UK attitudes to immigration and the European Union. Carried out his duties as the Government’s Deputy Chief Whip. Held a regular, weekly, advice surgery for local Chelsea and Fulham residents, at Fulham Library, on Fulham Road, close to Parsons Green tube. Greg’s surgeries are generally weekly, on Monday mornings, at either Fulham Library, or Peter Jones, Sloane Square, Chelsea. To make an appointment, email mail@greghands.com or telephone 020 7219 5448.

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Website of the Week:

www.thebrunswickclub.org.uk
The website of the Brunswick Club for Young People, Haldane Road, Fulham. Greg is one of the Club’s trustees. The Brunswick Club for Young People was set up in 1949 with money pledged by British Prisoners of War held in Oflag 79, Brunswick, Germany. The strong traditions and values of the Club have seen it continue to thrive to the present day.

Greg Hands welcomes UK’s biggest Council Tax cut in Hammersmith & Fulham, and £100 cashback in Kensington & Chelsea
Greg Hands MP has welcomed Britain’s biggest council tax cut being agreed in Hammersmith & Fulham, whilst residents in Kensington & Chelsea will receive back £100 of their own money in the form of a rebate. Meanwhile, a third of local authorities are proposing council tax rises this year. Bills will be 3% lower in Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) from April 2014 and 20% lower than eight years ago, when the Conservatives took control of the Council. The Hammersmith & Fulham cut, was agreed at the annual Budget Council meeting last week (Feb 26). It means H&F taxpayers will pay the third lowest council tax in the UK while residents’ satisfaction with services has reached an all-time high. It is the seventh year out of eight that H&F Council has cut its share of the bill – which will now be £735 for a ‘Band D’ taxpayer from April 2014. The last time council tax was lower in H&F was in 1999. MP for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “It’s fantastic that H&F have again been able to cut council taxes yet again this year, while maintaining efficient and high quality services. As the London and national economies start to improve, confidence is returning, and so it is important people are able to hold on to the money they earn and spend it on their families." Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea council taxpayers will have their council tax frozen for the fifth year in a row, following a Kensington and Chelsea Cabinet decision last month. And in addition they will receive a one-off £100 rebate, thanks to an overachieving efficiency drive. Thanks to the cashback and the continuing freeze in council tax - which began in 2010/11 - residents in bands E to H will be paying less council tax in 2014-15 than they were in 2001 when allowance is made for inflation. Residents in bands A to D will be paying less than in 2000. However, according to analysis from the Local Government Chronicle, one in three authorities is planning to increase council tax for 2014/15, while 65% of authorities are set to freeze and 4% intend to cut. Both councils say the tax reduction is possible as they have saved money by: sharing management posts with neighbouring boroughs through the Tri-Borough initiative. Greg added: “The innovative tri-borough system of management, shared between Hammersmith & Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster Councils should serve as an example a best practice to others. It’s good for councils, good for services, and good for residents.” Meanwhile, overall satisfaction with H&F Council services has climbed to 74% - up from 66% in 2012 - according to the council’s annual residents’ survey 2013.

Any future Labour or Lib – Lab Coalition Government would hit local residents hard with their “Homes Tax” (called by them a “Mansion Tax”)
Chelsea and Fulham MP, Greg Hands has voiced concerns that a future Labour Government, or a Lib – Lab Coalition in 2015, could hit local residents with a tax on their properties. Tens of thousands of local residents face being dragged into paying the Homes Tax, or “mansion tax” championed by the Liberal Democrats, and Labour. Labour and the Lib Dems say their proposal would initially only hit homes worth over £2!million, with a one per cent annual charge on the value of the property over this sum. However, to make their sums add up, independent Treasury figures released last summer show that 55,000 homeowners across the UK would have to pay the tax, who would be overwhelmingly concentrated in London and the South East. Homeowners, according to Treasury figures, would need to pay between £30,000 and £36,000 a year. Nick Clegg’s party sought to play down fears that the tax would gradually hit less expensive homes by stressing the £2!million threshold would rise in line with average house prices. However, in London house prices are growing significantly faster than the national average rate, and so each year more and more homeowners would be hit. The Conservatives estimate that there are 100,000 homeowners in the capital with properties worth between £1!million and £2!million. Moreover, although the tax is designed to hit the super-wealthy who live in ‘mansions’, in inner-London areas like Chelsea and Fulham, where the average property price is £1.2 million, the tax would apply to relatively modest homes, including small terraced houses and quite a number of flats. Local MP Greg Hands said: “Labour and the Lib Dems’ proposed mansion tax is an extremely damaging idea. Far from hitting just the super-rich who may be able to afford such a levy, it would attack anyone in a modest home in my constituency, many of whom wouldn’t have the income to pay it, including ordinary families in ordinary homes. There is a real danger that if Labour were to get in at the next election, either by themselves or supported by the Lib Dems in a coalition, that they would implement this policy.” It would also not just be home owners who would be saddled with the new tax burden. In Chelsea and Fulham, over a third of residents rent their homes from private landlords. The new tax would clobber renters too, as the costs of the tax are likely to be simply passed on to them. Greg added: “Just as the economic recovery is getting going, the last thing people need is yet another tax in order to pay for profligate Labour spending. People need to keep more of the money they have worked hard to earn, and to spend it in the real economy, not surrender it to the tax man. Our economic plan of reducing tax and rescuing debt is helping the country to back to its feet after 13 years of hard Labour. A future Labour Government would jeopardise all that.”

Artists impressions of new Hammersmith “Flyunder” are released

Above: Before - view of St Paul's and Hammersmith Broadway Below: After - same view of St Paul's and Hammersmith Broadway

The first artist’s impressions of how Hammersmith town centre could look if a ‘flyunder’ burrows beneath the current A4 were released today as the Mayor of London says it is a ‘brilliant’ scheme. Before and after images of the area around Hammersmith Apollo, The Ark, the Novotel Hotel, King Street and St Paul’s Church all show the six lane A4 removed and instead replaced with new homes, offices and green space. Around £1billion worth of former highway land could be freed up to help pay for the flyunder works, according to a feasibility study from H&F Council. The images were released as the Mayor of London said doubts over the scheme have been quashed following a meeting last week. Speaking on LBC Radio on 3rd March 2014 he said: “A presentation came in from H&F. They’ve been working for months on this idea of creating a new town centre in H&F. We’ve been listening to this for months and months thinking come off it this is never going to work and actually it is brilliant. It adds up. It’s a most fantastic scheme. We’re going to tunnelise the flyover. What was interesting was even the hardened TfL engineers looked at all this – they’ve been very sceptical – and they thought it was a great scheme.” The three alternative tunnels in the council’s interim study, which is set to be finalised and published later this month, vary from 1 mile to 2.5 miles long and are likely to cost between £218million and £1.7billion. The shortist option would involve digging a ‘cut and cover’ tunnel 15 meters beneath the surface between just opposite Furnivall Gardens in the west and Hammersmith & West London College in the east. 89% of respondents back some form of tunnel replacement, according to a council poll, and both long and short tunnels were found to be geo-technically feasible in the thick band of London clay beneath Hammersmith. The council says the flyunder would act as a catalyst to transform Hammersmith’s divided town centre and could be self-financing although TfL now needs to take on the next stage of the project as they own and manage the A4. Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, said: "The Hammersmith Flyunder is just the sort of exciting regeneration project that shows what a dynamic and thriving place London is. We are breaking away from the narrow old concerns where transport improvements were solely about traffic flows. A flyunder is about so much more than improving traffic and the Mayor understands, as we do, that this is about a much wider picture. In one move we could tear down Hammersmith's Berlin Wall, reconnecting our divided town centre in the process, and make our town centre an even more attractive place to live in, visit or do business. It is hugely encouraging that the Mayor has seen the bigger picture and vowed to take the project on to the next stage." Greg Hands MP added: “Although this is not in my constituency, I strongly support the Flyunder proposals as I think they will radically improve central Hammersmith for the better. Boris Johnson also spoke out last week in favour of the plans, so momentum is growing.” For more about the flyunder, to view the artists’ impressions and to leave your comments visit www.lbhf.gov.uk/flyunder. Photo montages by www.hayesdavidson.com.

Landmark deal offers improved Broadband and Internet access in Hammersmith & Fulham
Broadband speed and coverage is set to get better for residents and businesses across the borough following a landmark agreement between Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council and a leading technology company. In a pioneering move, H&F has become the first council in England to let out access to all 15km of the underground ducts through which the authority's CCTV network runs. The duct asset contract, which has been awarded to ITS Technology Group (ITS), will see technicians install fibre optic cabling within the ducts. This new resource will then be used by ITS to offer internet users in H&F improved connectivity and increased speed getting online. Under the terms of the agreement, ITS will pay the council for access rights along with a share of future profits generated by the venture. H&F Council's deputy leader Cllr Greg Smith said the move, which has already attracted interest from other local authorities wanting to learn more about the approach, will provide the council with an entirely new revenue stream that would be ploughed back into front line services. He said: "At a time when every council up and down the country must tighten its belt, we're also exploring innovative new ways to generate income that will aid our ongoing efforts to improve services for residents. "Awarding access rights to miles and miles of CCTV ducts is something that hasn't been seen before in this country. It's a trailblazing new approach to asset management that will provide the council with a small financial boost in a climate of shrinking budgets. The returns may be modest in the grand scheme of things but every little helps." Establishing better broadband speeds and connectivity could also help small businesses to thrive and also attract new businesses into the borough - paving the way for new jobs. ITS has said it intends to sell to local businesses at affordable prices. ITS has also indicated it will enable improved internet connectivity to blocks of flats and other large-scale properties. In addition, the move will make it possible for registered social landlords to offer broadband services to tenants as part of their accommodation package beneficial for example in student accommodation. Roy Shelton, CEO of ITS Technology Group, said: "ITS is a leading provider of next generation networks, IT managed services and telephony throughout the UK and Canada. "Our latest partnership reinforces our passion and commitment to deliver high speed broadband services at an affordable cost to the residents and businesses of Hammersmith & Fulham. "ITS is very excited to be part of this pioneering opportunity, which will now open up confidence in other public sector bodies to follow Hammersmith & Fulham's lead." The contract with ITS is for a ten year period with an expected start date of April 2014. Last year, the council announced the start of a digital revolution in the borough with the onset of free wifi coverage. This move saw H&F awarding a contract to communications company Arqiva to provide an H&F-branded wifi service - using the council's lampposts to install the network. Through the service, registered users get 30 minutes of free wifi a day and unlimited access to the council's website at zero cost to the taxpayer. There is also a flexible pay-as-you-go model without any commitment from users to spend after the first 30 minutes free has finished. The first part of the borough to benefit from the scheme is Shepherds Bush which received free wifi at the end of 2013. Hammersmith will receive the free wifi soon and Fulham by mid 2014. Cllr Smith concluded: "When combined, the steps we are taking to offer free wifi and enable a better broadband service are helping us achieve our goal of becoming the most 'connected' borough in the capital." "We know that many of our residents still do not have online access, so these deals will open up a new digital world to them - making it easier for people to access council services online wherever they are." Many services are already online, including applying for parking permits, paying penalty charge notices, managing council tax and housing accounts and library services. The wifi service will not work in residents' homes. This means that residents should not cancel their contracts with their current internet providers. Greg Hands MP added: “This could be very good news indeed for my Fulham constituents. A number of recent studies have shown the connection between good Broadband connectivity and economic growth, so I congratulate the Conservative Council here on taking this initiative.”

First World War Centenary celebrated in Kensington & Chelsea
This year marks 100 years since the start of the First World War and there are already a number of projects and events planned to take place across the Royal Borough to commemorate this momentous event. Across the borough, cultural organisations and residents' associations are busy planning exhibitions, memorials, talks and films. The Royal Borough's Local Studies Team will be delving into the archives to uncover some of the many unique and fascinating items from the war, such as posters and handbills. The most striking and significant of these items will be expertly restored and made available to view by the end of 2014. Ephemera from the Great War will be part of a wider project with local partners to show how the Royal Borough coped in the traumatic first year of the war. Greg Hands MP said: “Working with the National Army Museum in Chelsea, I have helped the government get even more involved in this important centenary. A lot of ancestors of my constituents died or served in that conflict, and we should recognise the sacrifices of previous generations to ensure that we live today in freedom. I urge everyone to get involved in these commemorations.” To view a complete listing of events taking place in the Royal Borough, or to add a project or event to this list, visit www.rbkc.gov.uk/ww1centenary. Contact the Community Engagement Team on 020 7598 4633 or at communityengagement@rbkc.gov.uk for more information.

Home ownership ladder brought down a few rungs lower
Council tenants in Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) have become the first in the country to be able to buy their council home one share at a time. Councillors in the borough have approved a plan that will enable council tenants to buy a share in their home from as little as 15% and pay rent on the remaining share. Then, as and when they can afford it, they will be able to buy further shares until they eventually own it outright. Called Right to Buy Part, the new scheme, which works like a traditional shared ownership offer, has already received backing in the Mayor of London’s latest housing strategy and been welcomed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The council estimates that households with incomes ranging from just under £19,000 to £37,000 will benefit from the pioneering scheme. Cllr Andrew Johnson, H&F Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We’re bringing the home ownership ladder down a few rungs lower to make it easier for hardworking council tenants to take their first steps on it. “Right to Buy Part is something we’ve been developing for some time, and we’re confident it will enable more council tenants on modest or low incomes to realise their dream of owning their home by purchasing it, bit by bit, over a period of time that suits them. “With H&F having the third highest property prices in the UK even an option like Right to Buy is not possible for many tenants – but this scheme will finally bring it within their reach.” Under the Right to Buy Part scheme, which is available to tenants who’ve had a tenancy for three years or more, those taking part may also be entitled to an element of the Government’s Right to Buy discount on the share they buy. The council plans to set the rent they pay on the remaining share at a level closer to social rents than market rents. Welcoming the H&F Council’s new scheme, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: “Our decision to raise discounts and extend eligibility under the Right to Buy has made homeownership a realistic option for London’s hard-working social tenants. Almost 3,000 have taken up the improved offer since 2012, and sales in the last three months were ten times what they were for the same quarter in 2010. “I’m delighted Hammersmith & Fulham will now go even further by offering shared ownership under Right to Buy, enabling more tenants to take their first step on the property ladder.” H&F Council has calculated, based on current property prices, that a tenant living in a one-bed council home in Shepherds Bush would need a yearly income of £18,627 to buy a 15% share in their home. Alternatively, a combined yearly income of £36,605 would be required for a local family to buy a 15% share in their three-bed council property in Fulham. If the owner/shared owner later decides to sell, the property will be offered to local people on the borough’s Home Buy register – a list of nearly 6,000 residents who are desperate to become homeowners in H&F. Any council tenant interested in Right to Buy Part, which will initially run as a pilot, can register to take part by calling 020 8753 6464 or emailing h&fhome-buy@lbhf.gov.uk. The council, which will retain the discretion to buy-back property purchased through Right to Buy Part, will use money generated by the scheme’s sales to invest in new homes or existing estates or to repay historic housing debt, reducing interest repayments in the process. The council’s dedicated Home Buy team has to-date helped more than 700 low-and-middle-income earners into home ownership, through schemes such as shared ownership and discounted market sales. For more information about Right to Buy Part, and other home ownership options, call 020 8753 6464 or email h&fhomebuy@lbhf.gov.uk.

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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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