Andy’s family moved to the borough in the 1880s. He was born in Fulham in 1960 and attended Peterborough Primary School in Clancarty Road. At 11, he went to Latymer Upper School in King Street, and then to Exeter University, 1979-82.
For the next eight years Andy lived in Fulham and had a series of jobs, working in libraries around the borough and at Fulham Town Hall. He worked for the British Safety Council, a charity based in Hammersmith Broadway, and for the BBC at the old Lime Grove studios. He also worked for some commercial PR firms and in Parliament for two years as a researcher for Michael Meacher MP, when he was in the Shadow Cabinet.
Andy saved up to go to law school and after three years training became a barrister in 1993, practising from Bridewell Chambers in Blackfriars. From general criminal and civil law he moved on to specialise in personal injury and housing law. Andy stopped practising when he was elected MP for Ealing, Acton & Shepherds Bush in 2005.
In 1983 he joined the Fulham Labour Party and in 1986 was elected a councillor for Gibbs Green Ward (later North End) in West Kensington, a seat he held for the next 20 years. Andy was elected deputy leader of our council in 1991 and leader in 1996, stepping down in 2005.
For almost 20 years Andy was a director of Broadway, the charity for the single homeless, and on the board of Hammersmith & Fulham Community Law Centre and he remains a governor of William Morris Sixth Form in Baron’s Court, which he helped set up in 1993.
In 1998, Andy moved to live off the Askew Road in Shepherds Bush.
The interview follows:
Why do you want to be re-elected MP for Shepherd’s Bush?
An MP’s primary job is to stand up for their constituents, individually and collectively. That means helping with housing or employment problems on the one hand and challenging developers or councils when they won’t listen on the other. And in Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush, the work never stops.
I love this area and the people here and I know it backwards. I also like work: I rarely take a holiday or a day off. So the job and I fit. I hope I have learnt from the five years I have been an MP and can continue to make a difference to this community in the years to come.
What background knowledge and experience can you use on behalf of the Bush?
I have a road by road, estate by estate knowledge of Shepherds Bush, the product of 25 years activity here, especially when running the council. Two examples. I was able to tell Wendell Park school last Christmas that there was about half a million pounds owing to them from the developer who built Factory Quarter in Larden Road. The Council had the money but had ‘forgotten’ to tell the governors of the school.
Public transport used to be lousy here. I helped negotiate the new stations and bus stations as part of the Westfield package, but I also negotiated to stop the tram, provide extra buses when Westfield was being built and to re-route the 228 away from narrow residential streets (a topic dear to this blog). Now for the 266.
What do you see as the key issues facing Shepherd’s Bush in the next 5 years and what will you do about them?
People live in Shepherds Bush because they like the shops and restaurants on the Uxbridge Road, the Market, Ginglik, the mazy pattern of streets, the local pubs, the mixture of every tenure and style of housing, plus shops and light industry in a single street.
I believe all this is threatened by town planners who combine lack of imagination with a political agenda that would sweep away every thing that makes us quirky and distinctive and replace it with what is uniform and makes money. The whole of White City and the Green is now one giant ‘Opportunity Area’ and the Tory council has declared it open season for developers. I think we – the people who live here – should decide on the future of Shepherds Bush, not Tory councillors and candidates who do not.
There have been a number of very controversial planning decisions in Shepherd’s Bush and the local area recently, such as 282 Goldhawk Road and the ‘Goldhawk Block’. What are your views on those decisions and what do you think could be done differently to avoid a lot of unhappy local people?
With residents and local Labour councillors, I applied successfully to have the Goldhawk Industrial Estate called into a public inquiry. We have made the same request for 282-288 Goldhawk Road and are awaiting the Secretary of State’s decision. Normally schemes of this size would go nowhere near the government, but the utter failure to consult residents and the outrageous nature of the applications – both density and design – mean the government has had to intervene.
Planning is a quasi–judicial process, but that has been perverted in Hammersmith & Fulham to secure the political and financial aims of the council. These are only two of at least a dozen equally inappropriate schemes in the pipeline or already approved. The only solution is a change of administration at the town hall in May.
What are your views on the Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Council’s campaign against locating the entry to the tunnel within the Borough?
The council has promoted the rumours that the Tunnel is unnecessary, would automatically lead to building works in parks and that it would destroy housing. All are false. The other 12 riparian boroughs, the Mayor and the government are cooperating with Thames Water to find an acceptable route for the Tunnel, which might well avoid Hammersmith all together. If it transpires that Thames Water do wish to intrude on open space in Hammersmith (which will simply be to save money or make their job easier) I will be the first to lie in front of the bulldozer, but we are very far from any such proposal and the council’s stupid PR stunts on this issue are not worthy of a public body which we fund; nor is their lack of interest in the ruinous pollution of the Thames.
A number of local businesses have closed in the Bush recently, including a local pub on Askew Road this week. What would you do as a local and national figure to regenerate the local economy?
As the Chronicle illustrated last week it is not just one business that has gone under in Askew Road. As it is my local shopping street I am painfully aware of the half-dozen businesses that have closed in the past year. The finger is pointed at Westfield, and they should certainly do more to be a good neighbour and support local small businesses. But secondary shopping areas like Askew Road have been in trouble for some time. They don’t have the pull of bigger centres like King Street and they have the greedy council which takes money from parking charges and traffic cameras and thereby discourages shoppers .
When I ran the council we had a proposal to use some of the surplus from parking income (now running to tens of millions) to regenerate eight local shopping areas, including Askew Road. The Tories scrapped this: they should revive it before we become a ghost town.
Do you think there is enough affordable housing in Shepherd’s Bush at the moment, and what would you do on this issue if you were re-elected?
The council controls the housing mix in Shepherds Bush. It can bid for government grant to build council homes or to fund housing associations – it has asked for none. It can give permission to social landlords for affordable homes – it allows none. It can improve and maintain its own stock, using the £290 million of government funds through decent homes – it plans the demolition of 2,500 of these newly-renovated homes in Shepherds Bush alone to make way for private residential and commercial development.
This is a shocking record unequalled anywhere else in the UK – and cynically the Tory party uses its mouthpiece H&FNews and its own substantial funds to pretend this is not happening. This policy alone is reason enough to vote them out.
I would seek a return to the position under the last Labour council when in its final three years 40% of new homes were for low cost rent, 40% for affordable part-rent part-sale and 20% market sale.
Do you want to say anything else to readers?
Many people in Shepherds Bush will make their choice in the General Election by reference to the local candidates as well as national policies. As the only one of the three main candidates who has a background in the constituency and who chooses to live here, I am quite happy about that. It is important to show your commitment to your constituency and to share the experience of living here every day.
But both candidates and parties will be judged firstly by their policies. I am grateful to Chris Underwood for giving us all this opportunity to set out our local priorities, though I am aware that national issues will dominate the General Election campaign.
Last weekend the Prime Minister launched Labour’s promise of a future fair for all. He contrasted:
the work the government has done to support families and businesses in the recession with the Tory plans for immediate cuts
the Labour promise of a one-week cancer diagnosis with a Tory promise to scrap targets which have eliminated long waits for NHS treatment
our 3,500 Sure Start centres, Child Tax Credits and Child Trust Fund with their promise to cut them all to cut inheritance tax for the richest 3,000 people in the UK
the one third fall in crime since 1997 with a Tory promise to cut police numbers by 3,500 immediately if they win the election.
Labour’s values of fairness and inclusion appeal to people in Shepherds Bush of all backgrounds. I hope I can go on representing them and you.
For information about Andy’s work and interests as an MP, visit the ‘About Andy’ section of his website www.andyslaughter.com where you can also subscribe to his eNewsletter.
Andy Slaughter Labour MP for Shepherds Bush