Hyde Park Ward Labour Action Report - March 2018

News from the Hyde Park Ward Labour Action Team.

 

Bayswater Road

We have asked TfL to investigate the traffic light sequence after to receiving these concerns:

“With the new traffic/road configurations at Lancaster Gate, there are  now long delays involved in getting through the traffic lights along Bayswater Road: if you take the bus from Hyde Park Street, going west, it can take at least three changes of lights for the traffic to move  past Victoria Gate entrance.  Such is my frustration that I now walk from Albion Street to the Lancaster Gate bus stop to avoid sitting on  the bus, in endless delays, that can be as long as 10′.

On a return bus journey, going east, it can take a similarly sizeable time for traffic to move through the traffic lights and there are long  delays beyond The White Swan pub. It is clearly excellent that the buses can now go straight ahead, rather than having to go round the one-way system behind the hotel, as was the case for decades.  But the knock-on effects of the new layouts on Bayswater Road, at Lancaster Gate, are extremely irritating thereby.”

Junction Place, W2

We have asked the Council to investigate this suggestion from a resident:

“I have been meaning to raise a serious concern in regards to Junction Place, just off the very busy Praed Street. It is a very narrow road. I use South Wharf Road and access it coming off Sussex Gardens onto Sale Place left on to St Michael’s Street and turn right onto Junction Place. I am unable to use Sale place as this meets Praed Street I can only go right.

I think it is very dangerous. Vehicles turn right into the road even though it is very narrow. You also have a single yellow line on the left as you approach Praed Street so when no traffic restrictions this road becomes near enough unusable. You also have cars needing to reverse back onto Praed Street right by a zebra crossing. Can this be made into a one way?”

Oxford Street

Following the announcement of the latest consultation returns on the Oxford Street project, we have made the following statement:

“The consultation results show that TfL and Westminster City Council still have a big job to do to demonstrate that the proposals will have local benefits.

We have four major concerns and call on TfL and Westminster Council to show ((a) how any additional vehicular traffic will be kept out of residential streets; (b) how air pollution levels will be reduced in residential streets; (c) how the needs of the disabled and elderly will be provided for and (d) how Oxford Street will be managed 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of residents, shoppers and visitors

“We will keep campaigning to get the best deal for local residents and businesses”

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.

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.

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 would 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.

Building genuinely affordable homes

If Labour win the Council, we will create a new type of affordable housing –  Westminster Key Worker Homes. We will commit that, in addition to social housing, all new affordable housing built on council land will be at rents that are affordable to residents on average and below average incomes. We will ensure that these homes are focused on providing opportunities for long-standing residents of Westminster and key workers such as nurses, teachers, firefighters and the police.

Labour’s pledge on Cleaner Streets

Mattresses and other household objects dumped on our street corners have become an all too common a sight. A Labour council will rigorously focus on fly-tipping and bulky waste dumping and we have made a number of commitments that will help tackle the problem. If elected in May 2018:

  • Labour will urgently reform the fees and charges for bulky waste collection, restoring a ‘first time free’collection and reducing costs for standard collections.
  • We will develop a new ‘express collection’bulky waste removal service.
  • We will look further at the use of mobile cameras to help enforcement at fly-tipping hotspots and at ways to increase fines for dumping.
  • As part of our support for a new Private Renters Charter we will improve the information provided to landlords, letting agents and tenants.
  • We will provide a smartphone App to make it easier for residents to make use of the Council’s ‘report it’ service, helping further target the worst affected areas.

25 more ‘Nightmare Stories’ from City West Homes

In January 2018, we unveiled a dossier of ’20 Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’. The reaction to this from tenants and leaseholders was overwhelming, with many more ‘nightmare stories’ coming to light from all over Westminster. Residents are angry with the very poor performance of City West Homes, particularly following the recent debacles over the new call centre and the repairs contract.

We have followed this up with ‘25 More Nightmare stories from City West Homes’ with details of:

  • Continued long waits on the telephone to report problems to the CWH call centre
  • Failure to deal with emergencies quickly
  • Lack of communication between CWH and its tenants and leaseholders
  • Poor communications between CWH and its contractors
  • Failure of CWH to return calls from tenants and leaseholders
  • Broken appointments by CWH contractors

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/labour-launch-further-report-on-25-more-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Welcome for extra police on the beat

We have welcomed welcomed the Mayor’s decision to invest an additional £59m annually to support an extra 1,000 police officers by using income raised from business rates. This will help avoid falling police numbers due to Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget.

We have also welcomed the Mayor’s announcement that he is creating a brand new £45million fund to help young Londoners who are at risk of getting caught up in crime. The Mayor’s new Young Londoners Fund will see £15m invested in each of the next three years, beginning from April. Of the total new funding, £10million a year will make up a new fund into which local communities, charities and schools will be able to bid for funds, and £5million a year will be invested to scale up existing projects funded from City Hall that are already supporting young Londoners.

In addition, over 1,800 people have signed Westminster Labour’s petition to halt the Government’s further £400 million cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget.

The petition to Parliament, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543, runs until 27th April.

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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