News from the Hyde Park Ward Labour Action Team
We asked the Council to investigate this issue:
“I live in Westbourne Crescent, years ago we had a large rubbish bin bin at the Gloucester Terrace. end of the street. The council removed it, we objected strongly because it was very easy to put our rubbish into it. Years later we received a note of reprimand from the council about rubbish not being out for collection at the correct time and therefore left lying in the street and consequently getting strewn all over the place, I e-mailed the council on the address on the reprimand but got no response. The people who are supposed to sweep the street don’t do it and I witnessed this yet again yesterday. I have tried in the past reporting this to the council to no avail.”
The City Inspector says:
“I carried out an educational letter drop in October 2017 advising residents of waste collection times and days. I have also been monitoring location on a regular basis. There are receptacles for residents to use in Sussex Gardens outside St James’s Church which was also stated on the letter. My contact details are also on the letter but the only correspondence I have received is from a resident who lives in one of the basement flats complaining about her neighbours putting refuse out at the wrong times. The street is also swept Monday to Friday and the beat sweeper has up until 14-00 to sweep street.”
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to report any further problems
We have raised this issue with Council:
“I really find that the Council appears not to realise the extent to which Westbourne Terrace has been deteriorating over the past ten years. We used to be able to reasonably refer to the street as being residential, but the actions of the past decade have completely changed this:
1) All traffic signs have been changed in order to direct all possible traffic on the street.
2) More than three million buses have been diverted from the untouchable, fragile, hallowed grounds of Eastbourne Terrace and have significantly damaged the street
3) The extremely frequent National Express bus lines have been added on the street, 24 hours a day. These lines are much more frequent than the already awful ‘every 30 minutes’ stated.
4) Pretty much all the local streets have been resurfaced…except the main one on which all traffic has been directed towards.
All these have led to a genuinely unbearable amount of vibration. During the night, I am talking more or less every minute. It is really impossible to sleep like that. Obviously, I have said nothing of the nitrogen dioxide emanating from all this additional heavy traffic. Can I suggest that the Council seriously consider to urgently resurface the street, and to consider putting all buses back on Eastbourne Terrace where they used to be. It would be good for users, and would keep all this nightly disturbance on a street that is completely empty at night.”
Paddington Cube – update
According to the ‘Evening Standard’:
“The Paddington Cube is facing further delays after campaigners launched a renewed appeal against the proposed £825 million office block. Save Britain’s Heritage has submitted legal papers seeking permission to take its case to the Court of Appeal after a separate challenge from Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust was rejected by the High Court. Imperial claims a new road layout required by the “floating” 14-storey Cube will delay emergency ambulance access to St Mary’s hospital. Save claims the Cube will be detrimental to Brunel’s Grade I listed Paddington station and the Bayswater conservation area.”
There is a new Chief Superintendent in charge of Westminster Police and we hope to meet with him soon to discuss his plans. We will keep arguing for more police to keep our streets safe and for the Government to halt the cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget. In particular:
- There have been huge real-terms cuts to policing budgets across the country. In London alone, £700 million has been cut from the Met Police’s budget.
- These cuts mean that in London, we’ve lost 2,495 Police officers and 3,261 Police Community Support Officers.
- The Met Police still needs to find a further £370 million of savings by 2022 – meaning police numbers could fall below 27,500 by 2021 – the lowest level since 2002.
We have started a petition to stop the police cuts https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543
Oxford Street proposals
We have been pressing TfL on a range of issues raised by residents. Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets, transport for disabled people and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.
If you have any issues you would like us to take up please us know.
We have written to Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and Jo Johnson, Minister for London, requesting that they ensure the scandal of unregulated pedicabs in London is ended and support the Private Members Bill proposed by MPs Paul Scully and Karen Buck gets government approval.
“This Private Members Bill has cross party support. The lack of regulation of pedicabs means they are less safe, they cause nuisance, drivers and passengers are uninsured. Drivers are not checked, prices are inconsistent and arbitrary. You and your officials can read key points here.
Let us know what action you plan to take to resolve the anomaly that pedicabs are regulated all over England except London where most of them are and putting the appropriate authorities (TFL, Mayor of London) in charge. We have been campaigning for this for some time and previous efforts by Westminster Council amongst others have failed. This Bill needs your support.”
City West Homes ‘Nightmare Stories’
We have published a dossier of ’20 nightmare stories’ from City West Homes’, based on the experiences of CWH tenants and leaseholders over the past few months across Westminster. All have been reported to CWH for action and some problems have now been resolved – but only after a Labour Councillor had intervened. This is not the way to run an organisation responsible for 12,500 tenants and 10,000 leaseholders. How many more similar stories of incompetence and neglect go unreported because the tenant or leaseholder has not been able escalate the problem by reporting it to a Labour Councillor? City West Homes is in need of a radical overhaul and Labour is pledged to do this following the May Council elections.
Please let us know if you are having problems with City West Homes.
Cleaning up Westminster’s Planning system
We have pledged to clean up Westminster’s Planning system if we are elected at the Council elections on 3rd May.
There is a clear perception that senior Conservative Councillors have very close relationships with developers. For example, the Conservative CEputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Robert Davis, has disclosed that since the start of 2015 he has received hospitality related to his role as a City Councillor from developers, big business and other interests a record 514 times. This equates to a staggering 14 cases of declarable hospitality a month, peaking at 47 cases in December 2016. We believe that such an approach does not help build public trust that the Council will put the needs of residents before those of property developers and business interests.
If elected to run the Council in May, Labour will engage with industry representatives in open settings to share views and push for residents’ priorities, but we will do so whilst working to achieve the highest standards. Labour commits that:
- Labour Cabinet Members and Councillors will not accept hospitality from individual developers and their agents.
- Labour will require the Council to formally record all meetings between Cabinet Members and developers when discussing individual schemes. There will always be an officer present.
- A record of these meetings will be posted on the Council website within two weeks.
Dealing with Airbnb
Research by the Residential Landlords Association published in December 2017 found the number of Airbnb rentals in London has increased by 187% since 2015. Karen Buck MP (Labour) said the number of properties advertised in Westminster North on Airbnb has more than doubled – from 1,603 in 2015 to 3,621 in 2017.
“In blocks of flats, long-term residents find themselves living in a hotel but without the services to support it, like staff and security. They have to deal with constant comings and goings, security concerns, noise, rubbish. These properties turn over every few days so you feel you aren’t living in a residential community.”
Karen Buck said short-term lets were also contributing to housing shortages.
“The original concept of Airbnb was you rent your flat out when you’re away or your spare room. That still happens and that’s absolutely fine. But what’s also happened is professional landlords have moved in, who in many cases own multiple properties.”
Research by Westminster City Council found that renting a one-bedroom flat in the area will make £495 a week for an ordinary tenancy, but £1,561 a week on a nightly basis.
Two years ago, the law changed to allow London properties to be let for up to 90 days a year without permission from the council. In January 2017, Airbnb introduced a block on London hosts renting out homes for more than 90 days a year, to ensure users complied with the law.
But some landlords are finding ways around the rules, including re-listing a property under a slightly different address or advertising a whole flat as a single room, which is not covered by the 90-day limit. People also advertise on alternative platforms to get around the cap.
Karen Buck said it was difficult for councils to enforce the 90-day limit and has put forward a bill to Parliament calling for all short-term lets to be registered
“It’s difficult to monitor. Local authorities have to spend a lot of time and money trying to catch the people breaking the rules. My suggestion is very light touch. People who are staying within the law are fine and just need to spend 30 seconds registering their property online. There’s no question of denying permission. But for people that are breaking the rules, we have a means of bringing them to justice.”.
The Blitz in Westminster
This website shows where bombs were dropped during the Blitz. You can find out how close they got to your home
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