What Has Our Local MP Been Doing?

The latest news bulletin from Greg Hands, dated Sunday November 6

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It's been another hectic week for Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, who reports in his e-bulletin that since the last edition he has:

· Reacted angrily to news that Thames Water have moved the main site for drilling of the Thames Tunnel (or Super Sewer) to Carnwath Road, Fulham. For more, and to see local reaction, see below. The fight goes on.

· Attended a briefing session given by Thames Water to MPs, Council Leaders, Councillors and Council officers from across London to brief them on the big increase in the cost of the Thames Tunnel (or Super Sewer) and the changes in sites.

· Attended a Year 9 and 6th Form “Question Time” with pupils of the Chelsea Academy, Lots Road. Greg answered questions on a wide range of topics, which also formed part of citizenship classes. See photo below.

· Attended a gala dinner organised by Hammersmith & Fulham Mayor Cllr. Frances Stainton in aid of the forces veterans’ charity Walking with the Wounded, held at Chelsea Football Club.

· Was guest speaker at the prize-giving of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Greg was a pupil of the school, 1978 – 1984.

· Had a full schedule of activity as a Government Whip in and around the chamber of the House of Commons, including ministerial meetings and organising votes and standing committees.

· Met school governors from St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Chelsea, to discuss their fundraising proposals.

· Met representatives from Barclays Bank to discuss issues around UK and international banking.

· Held a weekly surgery for Chelsea and Fulham residents at Fulham Town Hall. Greg’s surgeries are held generally every Monday at either Fulham Town Hall or at Peter Jones, Sloane Square. To ask for an appointment, email mail@greghands.com or call 020 7219 5448.

Website of the Week: Giveacar

Giveacar, a social enterprise based in Fulham, is a car donation scheme that has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity, by scrapping or selling old cars.

They offer free and fast pick up, operate nationwide and will collect any car. Every car donated is handled to the highest environmental standards. Giveacar has won various awards, been featured on the BBC, in the national papers and has proven to be a great new source of funds for our 600 affiliated charities. Cancer Research UK has received over £90,000 through the Giveacar scheme!

If you want to get rid of a car, call Giveacar on 020 0011 1664 and support the charity nearest to your heart. Giveacar has recently been nominated for an international award – with your vote they could raise thousands of pounds more for UK charities. Vote at www.theworldchallenge.co.uk. Voting deadline is November 11.

Issue 316 – Sunday 6th November 2011

Hands leads outrage at Super Sewer plan for Fulham

Greg Hands M.P. has spoken up for Fulham residents, who are furious at Thames Water’s proposal to bore a giant Super Sewer ‘drive shaft’ in the midst of their tight-knit residential community.

At the launch event for their ‘second phase’ consultation, he told Thames Water bosses that they had made the “wrong choice” in picking a residential site. He said afterwards that one battle had been lost but “the war is not over”. Thames Water’s new proposals see Fulham’s Carnwath Road replace Richmond’s Barn Elms as the preferred site for excavating the controversial Thames Tunnel.

Local campaigners have vowed to fight the proposal and two groups – Residents Against the Sewer in Fulham (RATSF) and Peterborough Road & Area Residents Association (PRARA) – have joined forces to campaign to get Thames Water to reverse the decision in time for the final selection deadline, which is expected next spring.

The groups have accused Thames Water of caving in to pressure to choose a residential rather than a ‘greenfield’ site. It is a choice which is set to inflame anger in south Fulham and will inevitably lead to protests, as the site is within a 440 yard radius of nearly 1,000 family homes, and is close to a number of local schools
The massive Super Sewer is being promoted by Thames Water as the best solution to making the river cleaner, despite water industry experts coming forward to say there are cheaper and greener alternatives.

Earlier this week, the Selborne Commission – an independent study sponsored by five London councils, including Hammersmith & Fulham – announced that a “shorter tunnel, combined with green infrastructure solutions that are built up incrementally in the medium to long term, wouldbe both compliant with EU directives and less costly and disruptive to Londoners.”

Greg Hands M.P. said: “The news that Thames Water now prefers Carnwath Road for the entrance for the main tunnelling shaft will come as a devastating blow to the whole Fulham community, particularly to those thousands of people living in the immediate vicinity. This will be a giant construction site, the size of six football pitches, close to seven local schools, all for a scheme of highly questionable merit.

“This is not a final decision, however, and I will continue to fight for an alternative to be found to sewerage problems in the Thames. We have lost this significant battle, but the war is not over on this.”

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F Council Leader, said: "It is ludicrous that a densely packed esidential community has been selected as the main drive site for Thames Water’s massive super sewer when industry experts are lining up to say there are cheaper and greener alternatives to clean up the river. Blighting the lives of thousands of Fulham residents, threatening homes, jobs and local schools - not to mention the disruption on our roads - for six years is outrageous. We will continue to defend residents' and water bill payers' interests by highlighting the sensible alternatives to cleaning up the Thames that do exist."

In a double whammy of bad news, it was also admitted that the cost of the massive concrete tunnel is now expected to reach £4.1billion. More than 14 million Thames Water customers, from Swindon to Essex, now face water bills rising by at least £70-80 per year to pay for the project.

November 6, 2011