Regent's Park Labour Action Report - Late Feb 2018

News from Hussain Ahmed, Janet Seale and Liam Taggart, your Regent’s Park Ward Labour Action Team.

 

Acacia Road

We have asked the Council to take action on this issue:

“Outside the SJW tube station the pavement on Acacia Road needs urgent looking into. The pavement blocks are uneven and many are loose and very dangerous. The other day an old lady fell over close to the post box and I had to pick her up. Luckily she wasn’t hurt badly but was very shaken – it could have been a lot worse Please have this URGENTLY looked into and the pavement re-laid?” 

Cicely House, Cochrane Street 

We have written to the Council about the problems with replacing the 70-year-old rotting wooden windows in Cicely House. We are told that Octavia want to renew the windows with modern double glazed windows but the Council is insisting on replica wooden windows which are very expensive. Meanwhile residents, including the elderly and vulnerable, continue to suffer from the cold.

Elm Tree Road 

We have asked the Council to remove a car that appears to have been dumped. Residents say: “it has been parked in the paid parking bay top of Elm Tree Road on the corner of Circus Road for weeks maybe months accumulating endless parking tickets. Looks to be abandoned. “ 

Wellington Road estate 

We are taking up a number of long-standing heating and repairs issues raised by residents of Reynolds and Fettes Houses. 

Hamilton Terrace and St John’s Wood Road junction

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

“I have tried many times to argue for a pedestrian crossing to be installed across Hamilton Terrace so that pedestrians walking up and down St John’s Wood road can cross in safety.  At the moment there is an island and on each pavement studs to indicate to vision impaired people that they are approaching a roadway. All that are needed are two beacons and white lines.  Crossing the road from the direction of Lords to the centre island is not dangerous as vehicles slow down on approaching the T junction with St John’s Wood Road.  The dangerous part is from the island to the pavement going down to Edgware Road. Vehicles which use Hamilton Terrace as a rat run frequently approach this turn at a fast speed coming from the Lords direction or from the Edgware Road and turn into Hamilton Terrace without always indicating that they are turning, It is not easy for any one on the centre island or on the pavement towards Edgware Road to spot turning vehicles even if the pedestrian keeps an eagle eye. I am ultra cautious at this spot but even so have had to step back quickly to avoid being mown down.”

Hamilton Close

We are supporting residents who are opposing yet another basement extension in Hamilton Close. Residents say:

“A basement is not needed for a mews cottage and is entirely out of character and place in a cobbled backwater like Hamilton Close. The Close is a narrow cobbled street whose surface was seriously damaged by the excavations next door. There is no space for skips and trucks delivering building materials. These would lead to the highway being closed for periods. This is unacceptable to other residents including two old ladies in poor health. The excavation of a basement here is environmentally damaging. Apart from the many truck loads of waste polluting the atmosphere residents would be plagued by dust, noise and vermin and there could be damage to underground water and increased dangers of subsidence.”

Maida Vale

We have asked the Council to investigate residents’ concerns that rubbish is being dumped on Northwick Terrace and also near the Maida Vale Health Centre in the alley by the entrance to the block, attracting mice and leading to problems when it rains.

Clifton Court

Residents have requested a bench on the east side of the road so that people can sit outside in the sun in Summer. We are chasing the Council about this.

St John’s Wood High Street 

We are making enquiries with the new owners of a large number of shops on the High Street. Residents have told us of their concerns about the 6 or so empty shops on St John’s Wood High Street and when they will be re-let for shops that serve the local community. The owners, Trophaeum Asset Management, say:

Empty shops are certainly the hot topic at the moment and we are of course well aware of this.  At the moment all of our vacant shops are either already rented (number 41 to Facegym and number 51 to Core Collective) or under development. Unfortunately, with FaceGym, we have reached a difference of opinion with Westminster regarding the use of the unit and they have asked us to make a planning application. This is frustrating as the retailer has been ready and waiting to open for 6 months and it looks like this will be delayed further.  Core Collective are due to open in August. Number 11 is undergoing an extension to create a bigger shop. 

The Kooples and Maison Blanc have both closed down their stores but they still have leases in place and so we cannot re-let them yet, but we are in discussions with them to allow us to find replacement tenants. Lastly, we are working hard to find a high quality neighbourhood restaurant to replace Carluccio’s. We hope to have more news on this very soon.

 With our vacant shops, we paint the shopfronts and regularly clean them, as well as installing smart, branded, brightly coloured vinyls in the windows. Obviously it is in our interest to rent the shops out but we must balance this with ensuring we let the properties to the right retailers rather than national chains and estate agents and so some patience is required! There are a lot of other vacant properties on the high street which are not under our ownership and unfortunately, we do not have much control of these, but we have written to other Landlords to encourage them to improve the appearance of their empty shops. 

 Lastly, we are liaising with the Post Office in response to local feedback to establish if we can find a suitable location for a Post Office franchise on the High Street. “

Ordnance Hill 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“We live in Ordnance Hill, next to the former Kings Troop Barracks and The Ordnance Arms pub.  Recently I have noticed, whilst walking my dog late at night, a number of drugs deals being done from cars parked in Ordnance Hill. Last night was typical. A car with a number of men inside, sitting with the engine running and headlights on, music playing quite loud, waiting for people to come to them to collect and I presume pay for their drugs. I am sure the headlights are left on so the buyers know which car to but the brazenness of it is quite startling. They even apologised to me for the noise as I walked past.

I called the Police with the registration number and details but they came too late and the car had driven off. I have seen kids from the houses in Queens Grove and Norfolk Road running to the car for their drugs and running home again. Last night there were around 20 nitrous oxide canisters on the pavement, presumably from users buying them from the people in the car. And we are sure they use Ordnance Hill rather than surrounding streets which are equally quiet as the other streets have the private watch guards patrolling most of the night. I have seen similar things in Acacia Place.

I have seen several different cars and whilst last night’s events were more brazen and left more detritus around, including the canisters and broken glass bottles thrown from the car, it’s clearly a new place for them to stop and do their business unchallenged. It’s not nice, to say the least, for any of the residents or people walking from the underground, and will become unsafe in a very short time. There are lots of young children around in the morning and the drug waste and canisters shouldn’t be seen by them at all.”

And the St John’s Wood Society say:

“Drug dealing is also taking place regularly on Aquila Street which is a side street off St John’s Wood Terrace. Residents from Aquila Street Estate have raised this problem with the SJW Society recently as it has escalated”.

Grove End Road

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“I visit my doctor’s surgery regularly; it is located adjacent to the John and Elizabeth Hospital.  Unfortunately, the pavement there is very uneven and slopes a lot making walking hazardous. Could this be looked into please? The pavement is very uneven because of tree roots I think.”

Outer Circle 

We are making enquiries with the Royal Parks about this issue: 

“We cross the Outer Circle -from the running track to the Regents Park playing fields every Saturday, with hundreds of other young children and would feel so much safer if we had a proper crossing.” 

Royal Parks say: 

“The Royal Parks have reviewed pedestrian access, cycling and vehicle use of the Outer Circle with the Crown Estate Paving Commission and Transport for London over the last 3½ years and they have no plans to introduce infrastructure currently at this location. We are sorry to hear that you feel unsafe at this crossing The sight lines are good and the pedestrian refuge is sufficiently substantial to slow approaching vehicles.”

Marlborough Road bus stop

We are making enquiries with TfL about this issue:

“TfL repeatedly just closes the bus stop and you are left to walk a considerable distance back from the next stop. What is more there is no prior warning until the bus has left the previous stop. The stop at Marlborough Place has repeatedly been closed leaving nothing between Grove End Rd/Abbey Road Studios and Boundary Road. “

Maida Vale replacement bus stop

Following our enquiries with the Council and TfL over many months, we have been told: “The new stop is being proposed immediately south of the junction with Vale Close for the southbound bus service.”

St John’s Wood Park 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“At the top of St John’s Wood Park, there is a brick tower with a railing around it and it is full of empty alcohol bottles and cans and other rubbish and old food. Very unsightly, unhygienic and festering. Please could it be cleared away and would be a good idea to have some kind of wiring across railings so people cannot use it as a fly tip? “

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.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/19/westminster-councillor-received-gifts-and-hospitality-514-times-in-three-years?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=264724&subid=12834692&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Policing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. These cuts mean that in London, we’ve lost 2,495 Police officers and 3,261 Police Community Support Officers.
  3. 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

Collection of Domestic Bulky Waste

We are making enquiries following this comment from a resident:

“I don’t mind paying charges are reasonable. But at least make the system easier. At present one fills in a form on line and waits for a response to book an appointment and pay within 48 hours. If you don’t get a response you need to start the process all over again. I am now on my third attempt.”

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

http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/westminster/

Abercorn Place Estate sale – what you say

“The sale of the Cricketers Estate is a scandal.  I have read the press coverage. Shame on Westminster for permitting this which they say is perfectly legal.  Is there nothing that can be done to redress this situation? “

What you say

“An excellent report and well done to your team.

“You are stars!”

“Thank you for all you are doing” 

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

 

Hussain Ahmed, Janet Seale and Liam Taggart,

Your Regent’s Park Ward Labour Action Team

regentsparklabour@gmail.com