Bayswater & Lancaster Gate Wards Labour Action Report - Feb 18

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater – Maggie Carman, Dafydd Ellis and Max Sullivan

And the Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team – Angela Piddock and Simon Wyatt

 

Hereford Road burglar alarms

We attended a meeting with Hereford Road residents to discuss the Council’s decision to order 30+ households to remove/reposition their burglar alarms. We all agreed that this was a ridiculous waste of time and money and that residents should show a united front to oppose this action.

Chepstow Road

We have asked the Council to let us know why this is happening:

“At the end of last year the pavements were torn up for months, causing traffic jams and a great deal of noise; at the end of it we had lovely new pavements. Now parts of the pavements are already being ripped out, with jackhammers, again, with traffic snarls and blaring horns, again, at vast expense, all, it seems, to lower some of the pavements about a centimetre.  Really?  Who thought that was worth the expense, both in pounds paid out to the many men who do the job at an extremely leisurely pace, often three or four of them what looks like not very much as they chat, overseeing or some such, a couple more running jackhammers and busting up the new paving blocks, as well as the unbearable (because unnecessary) noise and nuisance.  Hasn’t Westminster council got better things to spend its money on?”

Leinster Square 

We are continuing to assist residents in Leinster Square who are battling to get the Council to remove unauthorized air conditioning units at 37 Leinster Square. Residents say: 

“The machinery has been working at full power over the past two weeks and more. We, the residents, do not feel we should be obliged to take any special further actions, when we have complained vigorously in the past and been promised that firm action would be taken. We are always being told to call the Noise Team – something that, in fact, residents in three of our flats have done in the past couple of weeks, some more than once. Again, nothing is done by the Council, and the noise goes on, keeping several residents in our house awake at night.”

Newton Medical Centre

Over recent months, we’ve been hearing from local residents and patients who use the centre, and we’ve also spoken with the developers themselves (the Diocese of London). The planning application is currently open for comment on Westminster Council’s planning portal. We know also that many of you have been in direct contact with the developers, and that this conversation has resolved several – though certainly not all – concerns around the proposal.

Talbot Road

We are helping a number of Genesis tenants living in Hereford Road concerning repairs and maintenance issues.

Talbot Road/Westbourne Park Road

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue: 

“The crossing outside St. Stephens Church, at the junction of Talbot Road and Westbourne Park Road, is very dangerous.  Cars travel along Talbot Road at quite a high speed and then have to take a sharp, blind bend to approach the junction.  I know of at least one accident when an elderly lady was knocked over by a car.”

Porchester Road/Bishops Bridge Road

We have asked the Highways Department to look into this issue:

“The timing of the lights at the junction of Porchester Road and Bishops Bridge Road (outside Waitrose) seems to have been reduced.  The Green Man is displayed for approximately 30 seconds, which is far too short a time for elderly or disabled people.” 

Shrewsbury Road

Residents in Shrewsbury Road have contacted us about problems they are having getting their landlord to do repairs.

Hereford Road

We are helping a number of Genesis tenants living in Hereford Road concerning repairs and maintenance issues.

Hallfield School parking 

We have again urged the Council to take the necessary action to stop the dangerous parking outside Hallfield School and the associated ‘engine idling’ which is polluting the air.

Gritting 

During the bad weather we urged the Council to do more gritting of the roads and pavements following concerns from residents:

“I am writing as the gritting in Bayswater is almost non existent! I live on the Hallfield Estate and there is no grit whatsoever! On the main streets there were a couple of teaspoonfulls of grit only at traffic lights! I find this ridiculous and remarkable! We pay for such services don’t we (?) on service charges etc and yet with all the weather forecasts there was still hardly anything done to prepare in advance. This was the case last time we had some snow also, a few months ago. What is going on with Westminster council! It’s not good enough! How do the elderly and people with pushchairs or shopping get around right now? “

“I’d just like to know what the council is doing about gritting the roads. The Leinster Square and Hereford Road area doesn’t appear to have been done at all and I have seen a number of blind people with guide dogs who appear to live locally – it must be really dangerous for them in this weather.”

Moscow Road, Hereford Road and Ossington Road intersection – what you say

“This was the intersection that Westminster – in its wisdom – chose to route cycle traffic through on the “Quietway”. This was a result of Westminster and K&C not being able to find a way forward and the unwillingness of the Royal Parks to allow access via Orme Gate. I will contact you again once someone has been seriously injured or died at this junction. Walk it and see – it’s quite intimidating. Then imagine riding your bicycle down Ossington with a few black cabs on your heels – and then you are on Bayswater Road and go…?”

Labour’s Five Point Plan for CityWest Homes

Residents are angry with the very poor performance of CityWest Homes. Service standards have clearly deteriorated after Conservative council cuts to the housing management budget, the closure of local estate offices and the bungled introduction of a new call centre and repairs contract.

A Labour Council will immediately put CityWest on notice so that if its performance does not rapidly improve it will be stopped from managing the council’s properties.

  • From day one, Labour will take action to end the repairs crisis and improve the way CityWest treats residents.
  • We will re-establish local estate offices.
  • We will urgently look at further ways to improve the failing call centre system.
  • We will give residents a greater say over how their homes are managed.
  • We will introduce a new leaseholders’ charter to improve support to resident leaseholders and look to limit huge major works bills. 

Keeping the Council Tax low

If elected in May Westminster, Labour will keep Council Tax low. Labour will support the current proposals by the Council for a freeze in the Council Tax rate and a 2% rise in the adult social care precept in 2018/19. If elected, we will not raise the council tax and adult social care precept by any more than the Conservatives have over recent years.

Council Tax is always an emotive issue. Westminster Council receives the highest levels of parking revenue (£73.2m) in the country as well as substantial commercial income from its large Central London property portfolio (£42.8m) that help prop up its finances far more than in other boroughs. Westminster also has a long-track record of under-investing in its public services and its upcoming budget plans to cut over £3 million from services for children and young people and £2 million from rough sleeping and supported housing.

Due the impact of crippling Conservative Government cuts to local council funding, Westminster Conservatives have raised the Council Tax (including the adult social care precept) every year since 2016.

Giving residents a powerful voice in the planning process

For too long Westminster Conservatives have treated residents as an afterthought in a planning process geared towards the needs of major developers. If elected to run the Council in May, Labour will radically reform how the planning system operates to put residents first.

Labour’s reforms include:

  • Giving residents the right to speak at Planning committee meetings to present their case. Westminster is virtually alone amongst local authorities in preventing residents from doing so.
  • Providing more information explaining how the planning system works, including jargon busting, to help residents find the relevant information that explain what is being proposed for their area and have their say. The Council would also use social media to encourage resident engagement on key decisions.
  • Establishing a ‘Design Panel for Westminster’ to allow professional architects, other experts and interested residents to give external advice to planning committees on design aspects of major planning proposals.
  • Creating a new Strategic Projects Planning committee with a larger than normal membership to prevent major applications being dominated by the whims of over-powerful individual Councillors such as Tory Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis.

Cleaning up the planning system – what you say

“Having lived in W2 for many years, you are correct that Westminster serves developers and not residents. I have attended Planning meetings and seen this many times. All the best on May 3rd.” 

“This fellow, Cllr. Robert Davis is a disgrace to Lancaster Gate Ward. I am hoping that SEBRA will take a lead in helping ensure he is voted off the Council.” 

“We fought hard to prevent the shocking redevelopment of 34 Palace Court. We were delighted with the way the Labour Councillor stood up for the hundred plus residents who objected. There were no arguments in favour of the project. The developer himself sat in his Rolls Royce outside the final Westminster Council meeting before sweeping in at the exact moment Councillor Davies was rubber stamping the project. I wish you luck with your determination to clean up a shockingly 3rd-world planning system.”

“I hope that Labour, should it be given the chance, will actively pursue a policy against bad development. Being above suspicion, logging all hospitality etc, is not quite enough. Labour should campaign actively to prevent long-term planning blight. For local government in London, balancing the books, keeping local services running and so on are all important. But bad planning decisions affect a community for generations to come.”

Register to vote

The local Westminster City Council elections are on Thursday 3 May.

If you aren’t already registered to vote, you need to do so to vote in this local election.  The deadline to register at gov.uk/register-to-vote is Wednesday 17 April. It only takes a few minutes. Anyone who is already registered to vote does not need to re-register. If you have moved home in the last few months and have not registered to vote at your new address you still have time to register at this new location.

The other key dates are the postal vote application deadline which is 5pm, on Wednesday 18 April and the proxy vote application deadline is 5pm, Wednesday 25 April.

EU citizens are able to vote in these local elections.

You can get more information by visiting www.westminster.gov.uk/westminster-city-council-election-2018

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