Regent's Park Labour Action Report - Late April 2018


News from Hussain Ahmed, Janet Seale and Liam Taggart, your Regent’s Park Ward Labour Action Team 
Along with Karen Buck MP, we take up individual cases and issues of concern in St John’s Wood. Below are some of the issues we have been taking up recently, many as a result of residents’ responses to our regular newsletters. Let us know if we can take up a local issue in your area.

Lorne Close 
Following our enquiries about various issues at Durham House, A2 Dominion tell us the following:
“The emergency repair you highlighted with the missing paving has been made safe and we have raised an order for the missing bollard to be replaced.  I did not pick up the issue with the handrail so I will raise an order for this to be fixed. I agree that there is a problem at Lorne Close and I can tell you what our plans are to rectify this.
Main Gates – These will be fixed within the next 4 weeks. I have asked for a lead in time for this to ensure that everyone has the adequate fobs to access the gate to prevent any vandalism
Underground Car Park -  We will be applying for funding to replace the roller shutter to the car parkrenew the cctv and add additional cameras (and remote access) to allow us to monitor fly tipping more closely and replace all doors leading from the car park into the blocks with new more secure and robust doors with fob access only.
We already have quotes for the works and we will be seeking some engagement from the residents to work with us on the improvement to ensure we have covered any issues they are experiencing.”
Wharncliffe Gardens
We are helping residents in Wharncliffe Gardens who are having problems with housing repairs and are taking up this up with City West Homes.
St John’s Wood Road
We have reported this issue to the Council for action:
“The tree is on the south side of St John’s Wood Road between Maida Vale and Northwick Terrace has bags that have been there since last week, one opened by an animal. I wish I could say that this situation is particular to s Bank Holiday. Alas, it is used for dumping continually and not on the regular stop of any cleaners. Parents watch their children drop food and walk away without a word. I have noticed that Hamilton Terrace is plagued by similar problems but is cleaned more regularly and thoroughly. 
Surely a 2-pronged attack is necessary: both to encourage a more proactive action on the part of the sanitation department but also some form of public health education locally to involve residents in keeping the streets a space to be proud of.  By the way when was the last time anyone around here was fined for littering or fly-tipping?  Empty threats are worse than anything.”
St John’s Wood High Street
We were out speaking to residents on St John’s Wood High Street. So many empty shops! Soaring rents and sky-high business rates hike are hitting local shops. We need a more proactive approach to save our High Street.
Also, a number of residents living on St John's Wood High Street reported the issue of people dumping their household rubbish on the street outside their flats, rather than taking it down the street to the black bins.. We have asked the Council if there's anything that can be done to discourage people from dumping their household waste on the High Street.
Abbey Gardens area
We are making enquiries with the Planning Department about this issue:
“I am writing about the absurd amount of junction boxes popping up on almost every street put there by Virgin Media in St John's Wood area. At junction of Abercorn Place and Abbey Road there are now 5 of them and looks so ugly, and on Abbey Gardens there is now a junction box ruining the view of the street. Are there no laws governing this or can they put them anywhere they wish spoiling the area? Also their contractors rip up the pavements and when putting them back do so unevenly and with little cement between the stones.”
The Planners say:
“I do share your concerns over the proliferation of such cabinets and their design but regrettably, these cabinets do not require planning permission, as they are ‘permitted development ‘. The Government in 2013 introduced new legislation which effectively removed the need to apply for prior approval for a period of 5 years in respect of the siting of such equipment cabinets inside conservation areas. This 5 year period will expire on 30 May 2018 and it is expected that the government might make these rights permanent.”
Salt House, Abbey Road – update
The Council says:
“This application is still under consideration. The consultation period does not expire until 16th April and it is too early to say when this will be going to a Planning Committee.”
Wood Food and Wine

We have received this message from a local resident:

The above convenience store is at the corner of St John’s Wood Road and Hamilton Close NW8. The shop is now closed, the lease having been forfeited by the Landlord. It is s pity that the landlord has not had regard for the benefits which the shop conferred on local properties.

For many years the store has been an invaluable local resource, servicing not only local residents in houses and mews premises but the large blocks of flats such as Grove End House, St Johns Wood Court, Wharncliffe Gardens etc. It was also a useful facility for the many thousands of visitors to Lord’s Cricket Ground. 

It will be sorely missed unless steps can be taken to have it reopened either under the former ownership (who were well-liked and friendly locals) or some new owner wiling to carry on the same kind of business."

And another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’
We have issued a new dossier of another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’ this year, following our first report in January 2018, which included 20 Nightmare Stories, and our second report in March with details of 25 more Nightmare Stories.
Once again, we have had reports from tenants and leaseholders living right across Westminster – from Pimlico to Paddington, from the West End to Westbourne – all expressing anger at the incompetent and heartless way in which City West Homes treats its 22,000 tenants and leaseholders.
Service standards have deteriorated badly following 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.
In 2018, it is hard to believe the almost Dickensian situation some people have to live in and which is summed up by this report about a 70 year old woman in Dowland Street, Queen’s Park who “has been without electricity for 6 weeks. Contractors turn up and never finish the job. She is now lighting her flat with candles.”
We 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. We have set out our plans for change if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd.
Labour’s Five Point Plan for CityWest Homes

  • From day one, Labour will take action to end the repairs crisis and improve the way CityWest treats residents. If it doesn’t urgently improve Labour will scrap it.
  • 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
Fighting Anti-Semitism
Karen Buck says:

“I was one of a number of Labour MPs who joined the demonstration against anti-Semitism which took place in Parliament Square.
Anti-Semitism is racism, pure and simple, and has no part in my party, our politics or our society more generally. Anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in recent years and there can be no equivocation in condemning them for what they are. It is deeply distressing to me that we have reached a position where so many Jewish people clearly feel unwelcome, uncomfortable or worse, in Labour, and where those speaking out on the issue risk being abused for it. That there is a problem to be dealt with can be in no doubt. 

I pledge my total commitment to ending this intolerable situation and it is right that we are now held to account for turning words into action. I am already an officer of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Jews and am signed up to the All Party Parliamentary Group against anti-Semitism, but I welcome further suggestions. We have a strong record of tolerance in this local community and I will do all I can to ensure that this is upheld.”

Standing up for our EU residents

In the EU referendum in 2016, Westminster voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

If elected in May, Westminster Labour will fight to support our EU residents at this difficult time by expanding EU residents' access to specialist legal advice and support services.

We will also play an active role in challenging the Government’s attempts to weaken EU citizens’ rights and demand that all existing rights are retained in the future.

We will appoint a Council Champion for the issues facing EU nationals and create a working group of local residents from the EU27 to help address future issues.

EU citizens are eligible to vote in the Council Elections on Thursday 3rd May.
Labour’s Manifesto for the 2018 Council Elections
After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years o cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable.
The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.
Labour has a credible alternative plan that can be delivered today despite the damage being done by the current government. Our communities are calling out for change, and in this manifesto Labour sets out a vision for how things could be run differently, how we will deliver a Westminster for the many not the few if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd 2018.

Green waste
A resident has asked:
“Is there any future in asking to have a green waste collection re-established at least is in parts of the neighbourhood where there are plenty of gardens?”

We will explore opportunities where appropriate to support community composting and the recycling of food waste.
Problems paying Water Rates?
Thames Water is running a project with Citizens Advice Westminster to help people who are having problems paying their Water Rates. They can help to access hardship funds and apply for grants to pay off water rate debts. They will provide budgeting advice and negotiate regarding other household debts.
Contact the Gateway helpline 03003301191.
There is also an on-line enquiry form at:
Abbey Road area – potholes – what you say
“In Abercorn Place we have had much work and digging going on intermittently since before Christmas mostly due to Virgin Media putting down cables.  The men who then cover over the road do not really do a very good job and our roads now look like a patchwork quilt! I reported a series of holes in Abercorn Place going towards Nugent Terrace. Over the weekend a serious pot hole appeared at the top end as you turn in from the Abbey Road.  It seems to have been quickly filled almost overnight not a great job but better than nothing. The curbside at the Beatles crossing looks ropey as does the crossing up at St. John’s Wood Station this area always seems to flood due to poor drainage perhaps so not surprising that section looks bad.”
What you say
“We so clearly need more police on the ground.  All the major issues are festering in large part due to a lack of local police on the beat.  And as well, more CCTV.”
“Thank you!”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
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Hussain Ahmed, Janet Seale and Liam Taggart,
Your Regent’s Park Ward Labour Action Team