News from the Labour Action Team in Little Venice – Iman Less, Murad Qureshi and Sue Wolff
Sutherland Avenue and Warrington Crescent tree pits
We have raised concerns with the Council about the £57,000 costs of relaying the tree pits on Sutherland Avenue and Warrington Crescent. We have received substantially lower quotes for the same works and we have asked the Council for an explanation for this apparent huge over-spending.
John Aird Court
We continue to take up issues raised by residents of John Aird Court, including:
“I wanted to bring to your attention the windows in John Aird Court. 11 years ago City West Homes reported they would be changing the windows but till today this has not been done. I keep calling yearly if it is going to be the year’s plan and get told we are looking into it. The flat is drafty causing loss of heating and increase in gas bills. The condensation contributes to the mould around walls of the windows and they are black and awful looking staining the walls. “
We have also asked City West Homes to fix the lighting:
“Also noted in your newsletter issues regarding the new regime inflicted on us by CWH. Have not heard any resident say a good word about this new system. It obviously works for CWH, but definitely not for residents. I have never seen such a lack of care shown in running this estate. Just one example, our ESO (estate services officer) would check the communal lights once a week. Now it is a Compliance Officer who is meant to check these lights once a month. However, I can see lights that have not worked for at least six weeks and have no idea whether this individual has been around or not! I am a lessee and wonder why I am paying a service charge for a service that no longer appears to exist.”
Gilbert Sheldon House
We have asked City West Homes to unblock the rubbish chutes in one of the blocks in Gilbert Sheldon House.
We have asked Transport for London to fix various street lights along Edgware Road after receiving this message:
“I would like to report a long term street lighting problem which I have reported to Transport for London many times with no result. There is a light out in Edgware Road opposite the entrance to Frampton Street. But more importantly there are two lights out either side of the 18 bus shelter in the lee of the flyover outside the Bourne House BT building. As the light in the shelter is also out the bus stop is very dark and inhospitable and dangerous. I have reported this many times over several months and no repairs are done. Are you able to help? “
Little Venice Parade (running up from Parsons House to the canal at Maida Avenue)
We have asked the Council to investigate this rubbish management issue:
“The current vaguely managed system of bag drops mid terrace beside an electricity unit is just not working and while there have been improvements the wider issue of rubbish blowing around the terrace as a result of this arrangement remains. “
Parsons House development
We have raised this issue with the Council’s Planning Department:
“The development about to happen at Podium is geared to cut down a series of mature 20 year old trees that form a lovely and well needed canopy along the east side of Parsons House. I understand the old tree at the junction on Compton Street has been saved but the others seem to being sacrificed for the development. I am very pro the development, aware we need the new housing, but not at the expense of rare mature trees. The developers should be obliged to keep the trees and review the development so that it does not disturb them. Access and alignment to the site is easily gained from the west and south sides – indeed the alignment of the site to face Crompton Street would also alleviate the issue you raise of speeding cars down that narrow street. So a win/win. “
The Planning Department says:
“The loss of the 3 Wingnuts on Edgware Road was discussed at Planning Committee on 7 November by members. City Council Arboricutural officers raised concern at the loss of these trees, however it was felt that provided an appropriate landscaping scheme, with replacement tree planting was implemented that the loss whilst regrettable was on balance considered acceptable. Ultimately though, these 3 trees belong to TfL so they will have their final say as to their removal. There have been plenty of discussions internally at TfL with many of their officers thinking that these trees are not a suitable species (because of their root growth) for this location. There have been significant remediation works to the pavement around these 4 trees in 4 months.”
We have again asked City West Homes to install an intercom system at Fleming Court. This a recent report from one of our team:
“It really is in urgent need of a door-entry system. Lots of the bells just don’t work and in 2 blocks the bells were completely broken and hanging off the wall. Several residents, including a leaseholder, mentioned the bells. One resident said she rang CWH before Christmas asking if she could install her own door entry system. They said they’d get back to her but never did.
If the bells do work, residents have to go down several flights of stairs to open the door. It must be a nightmare for elderly or disabled residents and for those trying to deliver goods to residents and for visitors.
In the main courtyard, the road is full of potholes with large areas of missing tarmac. It is also very dark in the courtyard at night. Its difficult to see if anyone is loitering in the corners or the central grassed area.
Overall a very neglected block. CWH should be ashamed.”
We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:
“The bins near the yellow Porteus Road underpass are always full and bin bags and litter are left on the ground. It would be much appreciated if something could be done about it.”
Blomfield Road houseboats
We have written to the Canal & River Trust to support the concerns of the Blomfield Road houseboat residents. They say:
“We want to flag up what we consider to be a dangerously congested situation on the canal at Little Venice. There have been a number of recent incidents of scrapes and near misses due to congestion and dangerous steering practices between the pump-out station near the Little Venice toll office and the Formosa Street bridge. On this stretch of canal the navigable channel is very reduced because of permanently moored residential houseboats at one side and double-berthed visitor boats on the other, with a pumpout station heavily visited by continuous cruisers at the weekends. The visitor mooring rules state that widebeams (twice the width of a regular narrowboat) cannot double moor here but the rules are routinely ignored. The risk of accidents has been accentuated by a sudden spurt of new leisure businesses operating out of Paddington Basin since the summer, causing an exponential increase in the bumps, hull scrapes and stresses being endured by houseboat owners in Little Venice and responsible canal businesses such as Jason’s Trip.”
The Canal & River Trust say:
“We are aware of the issues raised and will be looking at ways of managing the visitor mooring more effectively in the future to reduce the risks of conflict. This involves greater monitoring of the moorings using staff and volunteer rangers, increased communication of good mooring practice, and enforcement of dangerous mooring where appropriate. These are all supported through our draft London Mooring Strategy.”
The Houseboat residents comment:
“Many thanks for taking this up with CRT. Their response to you marks the first time they have acknowledged a genuine problem in congested canal hotspots. “
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 Deputy 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.
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