My Plan for Chelsea & Fulham

My Plan

 

I am working hard to deliver my local six-point plan to make Chelsea & Fulham an even better place to live and work:

Charing Cross

In September, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that Charing Cross Hospital will be given a “floor-by-floor” refurbishment and that Accident & Emergency services will be expanded too. This is great news after a period of uncertainty, and is thanks to the Conservatives’ new programme of new hospital buildings. The news on A&E was announced in answer to a question from me in the Commons in April.

Meanwhile, the future of the very popular Parsons Green Walk-In Centre in Fulham has also been secured. NHS rules had meant that walk-in centres would either need to convert to Urgent Care Centres, or would have to become appointment-only services, thus negating a large part of the attraction of the centre: that busy Fulham or Chelsea residents could just pop in on their way to or from work to get non-urgent attention.

In response to another recent question of mine in the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the NHS has no plans to change the service at Parsons Green. This comes as very welcome news to local residents.

Police

I have welcomed recent Conservative Government moves to put 20,000 extra police on our streets, and have written to the London Mayor to urge that Chelsea & Fulham receive additional officers, particularly given the Mayor’s approval of the sale of Fulham Police Station. Government figures show that 1,369 new police officers for London are the recruitment target for the first year of the scheme.

Crime across the UK continues to fall, but violent crime in London is on the rise, and the extra police presence will be welcomed by local residents. I recently held three residents open meetings in Chelsea & Fulham so that local people can question the police and their elected representatives directly about action on crime. Meanwhile, K&C Council has decided he retain the temporary new CCTV camera on Lennox Gardens to fight a recent uptick in crime on the street, including the recent slashing outside Knightsbridge School.

Crime is the number one issue I hear on the doorsteps in Chelsea & Fulham. The serious and tragic incidents this year have been heartbreaking, but the solution will lie in more police officers and a tougher approach to violent crime.

Schools

Labour policies would have an immediate impact on more than three quarters of school-age parents in Chelsea & Fulham. Conservative schools reform since 2010 has delivered incredible improvements and new Free Schools and academies in our local area. Since 2010, an incredible 5 new secondary schools have opened, taking advantage of the reforms. In Hammersmith & Fulham, there have been 3 whole new secondary schools – the Fulham Boys School, West London Free School and the Hammersmith Academy. In Kensington & Chelsea, the Chelsea Academy opened its doors in 2011, and the Kensington Aldridge Academy in 2014. All of these schools have been big successes. I am the co-patron of the Fulham Boys School, and have been instrumental in getting it built on the new site just off Fulham Broadway.

Many new primary schools have also been created as academies or free schools.

Meanwhile, existing successful secondary schools have converted to academy status, including Lady Margaret, the London Oratory and Cardinal Vaughan.

All of this school excellence is under threat from Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. Labour official policy is to give Free Schools over to local authority control, to end the academy programme, and to abolish independent schools in their entirety, confiscating their assets and their endowments.

Labour under Corbyn would devastate schools in Chelsea & Fulham.

Hammersmith Bridge

I have given my full support for a new proposal from marine civil engineers Beckett Rankine for a temporary bridge to be built alongside the existing bridge. The existing bridge could be closed for three years or more due to the incompetence of Labour-run H&F Council, which spent £5 million on bridge inspections and maintenance since 2015 but failed to notice large cracks in the structure. The Council’s estimate for the repairs started at £30m, but is now £120m, even before any work has even begun. It is clear that the Council simply doesn’t want to do the job.

I invited Beckett Rankine to Parliament to present their proposal to me. The temporary bridge would work easily alongside, would cost £5 million per annum for the three years, and would give welcome relief to all of the residents of Fulham and Chelsea currently suffering from diverted traffic. Transport for London (TfL) currently estimate that 3,000 extra cars a day are travelling along Fulham Palace Road, 4,000 on Putney Bridge, 2,000 on Wandsworth Bridge and 1,000 cars on Battersea Bridge.

Fulham & Chelsea residents need action from Hammersmith & Fulham Council and from TfL as quickly as possible to reduce the traffic blight and to improve the local air quality. I am backing their cause.

District Line

The Wimbledon branch is the busiest western branch of the District Line. Some of the current signalling at Earls Court dates to 1924, which I saw during a recent visit to the signal room at that station.

I am a Fulham resident and I do not own a car. I commute daily to Westminster via public transport. Moreover, I have used the District Line almost every day since 1990. Like so many residnets, I am frequently caught up in severe delays and line closures. My understanding is that Chelsea and Fulham has the highest number of Tube users of any London constituency.

I served in Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury between 2015 and 2016. As part of the 2015 Capital grant I was responsible for in providing to TfL, £5.4 billion has been granted to the 4 Lines Modernisation (4LM) Programme. New signalling is being introduced at Earls Court and a transition is being made to Automatic Train Operation. These improvements are planned to be on line soon and will see improved punctuality. There will be an increase from the 24 trains per hour that pass through Fulham currently, up to 32 trains per hour once the improvements are in place.

Moreover, I led the campaign to introduce the new S-Class walk through trains, which started to come on line in 2014. These provide 17% more capacity than the old D-Class trains, which were fully phased out in 2017.

With the 4LM signalling improvements, the situation will soon change for the better.

Heathrow

Most MPs claim to put their constituency first, but I was the only one in recent times to have resigned my position as a Government Minister to vote against the Government on a constituency issue, the proposed third runway at Heathrow.

It remains my firm view that the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport will have a negative impact on my constituents, and will not be in the national interest. Air pollution in areas of West London already exceed EU limits, and 9,500 people presently die prematurely every year in the capital due to air pollution. With an additional 260,000 flights a year, it is implausible that air quality will improve. 

In terms of competitiveness, more people already fly in and out of London than any other city in the world. It may surprise you to know that 10 Chinese cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Sanya, Wuhan and Xian—are currently connected directly to Heathrow each day. And to London as a whole, 28 US cities are connected to London airports, along with 13 Polish cities, seven in India and eight in Canada—more than either Frankfurt or Amsterdam.

I do not believe that a hub model is the best model for London. If we were to have a single hub, it would take greater than two hours for many people in east or south London to reach it: longer than the median flight time. A single-airport hub model might be right for Amsterdam or Frankfurt, cities of fewer than 1 million people. However, London has a population of 8 million, which is rapidly growing. As such, I believe an orbital model is more appropriate for London. 

Furthermore, there is not a strong business case for Heathrow expansion. The Government’s own figures show a stronger economic dividend from expansion at Gatwick than at Heathrow. I believe this reflects the fact that the public want point-to-point flights, and do not wish to take multiple flights in order to reach their destination. This country deserves a 21st century direct aviation strategy, not a 20th century hub strategy.  Outside of London, there will be a 24% suppression in the growth of regional airports. The Department for Transport’s own figures show a reduction in domestic routes from Heathrow from the current eight to four or five. That will result in 160,000 fewer international links from regional airports. They will be less connected to the rest of the world than they currently are. 

Ultimately, I made an unequivocal pledge to my constituents at the last election that I would oppose Heathrow expansion. It is not in my constituency’s interests, or the national interest. That is why I resigned from the Government.