This evening sees the annual Council Meeting in Hammersmith and Fulham. Here are some of the achievements of the Council since the Conservatives gained control five years ago.
1.Cut Council Tax from £917 in 2006 (at Band D) to £812 now. Under Labour the Council Tax by an average of 7.7% a year between 1993 and 2006. Hammersmith and Fulham now has the fourth lowest Council Tax in the country.
2. Reduced the Council's debt from £169 million to £123 million.
3. Fewer Looked after children. The number has fallen from 394 to 260.
4. More police. Spending more than £1.3 million per year to pay for the three enhanced town centre squads – more policing than anywhere else in Britain.
5. A grot spotting drive has resulted in a reduction of graffiti and enforcement against derelict property eyesores.
6. Better schools results. H&F community schools have achieved record improvements and 64% of all children now get 5 A* – C GCSEs including English and Maths. H&F is the fourth most improved council nationally in 2009 for 5+ GCSEs including English and Maths. Phoenix High School had the highest
contextual value added (CVA) in the country based on progress between Key Stage 2 and 4. In 2010 Burlington Danes had 69.9% of pupils achieving at least five A*-C grades, an astonishing rise of almost 20% on the previous year.
7. Two of the first first tranche of Free Schools in the UK - the West London Free School and Ark Conway Primary School are opening in the borough this September. More are in the pipeline.
8. More affordable home ownership. 933 new intermediate (shared ownership) homes were built in our first five years compared to 150 during Labour's last four years.
9. More children educated in borough.In 2006 only 38% of children resident in Hammersmith and Fulham were in state schools in the borough. So the situation under Labour was that most parents would pay school fees or send their children to state schools in other boroughs. The situation is now that percentage of children in local state schools has risen to 55%.
10. Green flag awards for four of our parks – Normand Park, Ravenscourt Park, Margravine Cemetery and Frank Banfield Park.
11. More street trees. Over the 300 planted with funding from the Mayor of London with many more sponsored by residents.
12. Lower leaseholder charges. Charges to leaseholders have been reduced in real terms by 15.4% on average, making Hammersmith & Fulham’s service charges now lower than Wandsworth.
13. The housing ALMO back in house improving accountability and saving £400,00 in management costs. Ending this misguided Labour experiment had the support of over 70% of residents who took in the consultation.
14. Fewer press officers – down from 13 under Labour to seven.
15. Lower printing bills. £1.1 million a year on printing – compared to £1.5 million under Labour.
16. H&F Credit Union. With the support of the Council this social enterprise provides an alternative to loan sharks.
17. More Neighbourhood Watch. An increase from just six active Neighbourhood Watch groups in 2006 to over 150: covering 235 streets.
18. Polo has been brought back to Hurlingham Park. The deal with the World Polo Association is bringing in £170,000 in revenue to the Council over three years plus projects to improve the park and the opportunity for children from local primary schools to have free tickets to the tournament and attend sessions to learn polo themselves.
19. Spear. A local charity that helps young unemployed people find work has opened a new project in Shepherds Bush, with help from a council grant, it already operates iin Hammersmith and is also starting a course based in North Fulham. It helps people aged 16-24 gain confidence, learn life and job skills, and get a qualification at the end of it. They will help an extra 180 young people into employment and are being funded with help from H&F Council, which last summer awarded the scheme £149,500 in a voluntary sector grant.
20. H&F Circle. Hammersmith & Fulham Circle is aimed at people aged 50 and over and connects its members to each other so that they can share interests and skills and make new friends. Members can get help with a wide range of everyday jobs ranging from DIY to cat sitting and once you sign up as a member you will receive recommendations for anything from a trustworthy, local builder to the best mobile phone plan. Hammersmith & Fulham Circle has received £685,000 funding to set up in the borough, with the council and the Primary Care Trust providing half the money each.
21. Reduced bureaucracy for street parties.
22. Reduced bureaucracy for grant applications for voluntary groups.
23. Fewer households in temporary accommodation. Down to 871 compared to 1,697 when Labour ran the Council.
24. More CCTV. Latest includes mounting 131 new cameras at Bayonne Estate and Lampeter Square, White City Estate and Batman Close, Becklow Gardens and the William Church Estate.
25. The Council was promoted by the government’s Audit Commission to the elite division of local authorities designated “4* Improving Strongly”
26. Resident satisfaction with service levels has shot up. services. Overall satisfaction has also risen from 203rd in 2006/07 to 9th out of 353 local authorities.
27. The Council was named Council of the Year in 2010 by the Local Government Chronicle.
28. Shared management costs with NHS Primary Care Trust have improved value for money.
29. Tri-borough shared services with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea will deliver substantial savings – already there have shared senior posts with Kensington and Chelsea.
30. Ceased the employing the ten posts of personal political advisers to Cabinet Members which took place under Labour. Ending these posts not only saved £300,000 a year but also meant the Council
worked better. Council officers would talk directly to councillors rather than going through intermediaries.
31. 800 people receive home care who would not be eligible in four out of five other London authorities.
32. Fewer Looked After Children in institutional Children's Homes rather than a home environment with foster carers.
33. The borough wide Controlled Drinking Area has led to reductions in anti-social behaviour.
34. An annual Crime Summit held allowing residents to raise concerns with the police.
35. Over 200 new parking spaces. Promoting car sharing schemes has also eased pressure.
36. Two brand new rail stations (Shepherds Bush and Imperial Wharf) on the west London Line
37. An entirely new tube station on the Hammersmith & City Line at Wood Lane.
38. The completion of a new bus station at Westfield.
39. In 2006/07, Hammersmith & Fulham rated 363rd out of 387 UK local authorities in value for money rating amongst its residents. In 2008/09 this had risen dramatically to 10th out of the now 353 authorities. In the 2008/09 place survey alone a +10% rise in value for money was recorded.
40. The rate of recycling has increased from 21.5% to 27.5%. WRWA of which we are one council, has installed its own MRF (Materials Recylcing Facility) which can now take all yogurt, food tray etc plastic.
41. Successfully campaigned for the abolition of the Congestion Charge Extension.
42. Successfully campaigned against a third runway at Heathrow.
43. Successfully pushed the case for a high speed rail interchange from Old Oak Common.
44. Successfully campaigned for reduced bureaucracy. We have produced a list of 105 regulations we want the Government to scrap – with a positive response.
45. Worked with cycling groups to improve services and cycling lanes. Many more cycle racks.
46. Better IT systems – the web site is more effective, you can register for services, makes it easier to renew and pay for things
47. The council has championed the opening a brand new bilingual primary school in partnership with the French lycée in 2010.
48. Building the new Hammersmith Academy secondary school co-sponsored by the Mercers and the IT Company.
49. Introduced the federation of Fulham Cross and Henry Compton schools.
50. Launched H&F Home Buy in the first year of our administration to promote low cost home ownership. More than 70% of our council tenants want to own their own home and 2,853 active members on the council’s Low Cost Home Ownership Register.
51. A "zero tolerance" approach to anti social behaviour with "Neighbours from Hell" on Council estates facing eviction.
52. The Council was also selected by DCLG as 1 of 11 Enhanced Housing Options trailblazers to modernise Housing Advice Services and extend to skills and work.
3. Managed the opening of Westfield London in November 2008 – the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.
54. Opened the first new library at Shepherds Bush in 40 years.
55. The Council has moved to commission an integrated home care and housing related support service for older people
56. Greater personalisation in home care.
57. Responded effectively to the Labour Government's threatened Post Office closures with the innovative solution of finding space for a Post Office and Parcel Collection point at Askew Road Library. Otherwise Shepherd's Bush residents would have had to go to Brent to pick up parcels the postman couldn't deliver.
58. Publication of assets register.
59. Publication of procurement spending over £500.
60. Publication of senior officer salaries.
61. Publication of chart showing staff numbers in each section of the Council.
62. Saving the Decent Homes Government Funding. H&F Homes was on the verge of collapse under management team inherited from Labour. The Audit Commission had given the ALMO one star with no prospects. The Decent Homes programme was failing, and over £200 million of government funding to provide new kitchens and bathrooms for all tenants was being recalled by Government. New action teams were formed, and the programme will now be delivered on time.
63. Introduced an intensive Value for Money programme for H&F Homes that has been able to reduce revenue costs by £6 million per year by restructuring the whole organisation. If this had not been done rent
rises of £6.20 per week for every tenant would have been needed to balance the statutory Housing Revenue Account, which must not go into deficit.
64. Bishops Park and South Park have been named amongst the safest open spaces in London. The parks, both in Fulham, are among 31 capital green spaces who have received Safer Park Awards from the Mayor of London.
65. Cambridge School, a Special Educational Needs school, is being moved to better site.
66. Number of Children's Centres being increased form 15 to 16.
67. The requirement that parents have to use their local centre will be removed which will mean families can continue to benefit from the full range of services provided at any children’s centre of their choice in the borough.
68. More focus from Children's Centre on our most vulnerable families.
69. Spending an extra £270,000 on a scheme that pays for disabled children and their families to take a short holiday or receive respite care. The short breaks scheme gives parents and carers of severely
disabled children, who need direct and constant one-to-one support, the chance to get some time to themselves. The £2.5m scheme will benefit up to 500 children and their families in H&F, and ranges from
support for a few hours in the family home to respite care overnight.
70. From August two of Hammersmith & Fulham’s high-flying football clubs will manage traffic and road closures on match days – saving the borough’s taxpayers more than £100,000 a year.
71. Providing a dedicated hostel for teenage mothers, Spring Cottage. This means teenage mothers who can't stay at home have supervised supported accommodation in a proper mother and baby unit. Under the
previous Labour Council teenage mums were spread around the borough in different Council owned hostels in a way that was highly unsuitable for such a vulnerable group.
72. The arts are flourishing. New theatre space for the Bush Theatre at the old Shepherds Bush Library means for the first time allow the company to have its own bar and cafe, rehearsal space, improved offices and dressing rooms. In addition there will be places for playwrights to write and read, as well as a small library of play texts. The Bush will also be offering many reduced price and free tickets to young people and local residents. The Lyric is also expanding.
73. A 17 strong neighbourhood wardens team fighting crime and anti social behaviour – particularly in the borough’s housing estates.
74. Reduced street clutter.
75. Closure of Tamworth Hostel in Farm Lane will mean that residents will be placed in other hostels in the borough where there are spare places and they could have better care. The decision has the support
of hostel residents and the mental health charity MIND.
76. Taken action against urban foxes.
77. Restoration of Fulham Palace moat.
78. More crack houses have been closed in the 6.2 square miles of Hammersmith & Fulham than the whole of Wales put together;
79. The second lowest rate of reoffending among prolific offenders in Britain, second only to the island of Anglesey;
80. 18% fewer people believe drug dealing and taking is still a problem.
81. Rowdy drunkenness is concerning 13% fewer residents.
82. Services have been improved while fewer staff have been employed. Under Labour the Council employed 4,087 while the total is now 2,787 and is falling to 2,300.
83. Under Labour there was a total HR headcount of 100 posts at a cost of £4,612.834. HR headcount has been cut over time and today it is down to 47 posts (a total reduction of 53 posts) costing £2,816.300.
This has resulted in a total saving of £1,796.534.
84. Under Labour Communications spending was £1.14 million. We are halving that cost. According to an Evening Standard survey our total spending on publicity at £669,000 is the second lowest of the 32 London boroughs. Only Bexley spends less. Southwark spends over £5 million.
85. Increased volunteering is being used to maaintains services – eg preserving access to the reading room for the borough reading room by working with amenity societies like the H&F Historic Buildings Group.
86. Six completely refurbished tennis courts have just opened in the Bishops Park. Five of the courts are now floodlit meaning that they can remain open till 8pm in winter instead of having to close at 4pm.
87. Councillors allowances have been frozen for four years running.
88. Honorary Freedom of the Borough for The Royal Yeomanry.
89. Friends Groups launched for several local parks.
90. Almost 4,000 baby trees have been planted in Wormwood Scrubs thanks to a joint initiative between the council, the Mayor of London and environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London. Trees planted included oak, ash, hornbeam, silver birch, buckthorn, dog wood, guelder rose and 200 black poplars. The black poplar is a nationally rare species and there are only about 5,000 left.
91. The Council is allowing its 17,000 tenants and leaseholders to run businesses from their own homes. There will still be safeguards against nuisance – H&F will not allow residents to set up fast food outlets or motorcycle workshops, for example.
92. A specialist fraud-busting team has been created. Investigations by the council have led to 418 prosecutions, with hefty penalties for convicted fraudsters. Already the team has identified £2,488,322 in dishonestly claimed benefits. In the last year alone, the anti-fraud team (known in the council as the corporate anti-fraud service or Cafs) has concluded 108 successful cases, and identified £897,567 which is being recovered.
93. The blight of estate agents boards has been reduced – with a complete ban in six conservation areas.
94. Improving the provision of Youth Services while cutting £200,000 from management overhead and back office costs in the current year. Under the new model, we will provide an extra two projects taking the total to 13, as well as increasing the number of hours services run to include evenings, weekends, after-school and school holidays.
95. Total funding for voluntary groups, at over £4.2 million a year, is higher than it was under Labour and much higher that the London average. More money is being passed on to groups rather than spent on
96. Introduced the "slivers of
time" initiative where people who might only be able to work for two hours a week (far less than the requirement for even a normal part time job) are given the chance to do so. This allows greater opportunity for flexible working in the local workplace and demonstrates the Council’s commitment to making H&F a borough of opportunity.
97. Introduced £75 fines for litterbugs – which have been working well in both deterring people from throwing their cigarette butts and rubbish on the floor and challenging those that do.
98. Home composting has been boosted with households issued with free composters reducing the cost to the Council and helping the environment.
99.The Evening Standard has rated pavements in Hammersmith & Fulham as the fourth best in London, with just 7% in need of repair compared to a London average of 20% and and English average of 22% needing repair.
100.Same day refuse and recycling collections have meant more convenient for residents, made recycling easier, meant fewer sacks left out on the wrong day and also fewer bin lorry trips, saving fuel and cutting emissions.