Regent's Park Labour Action Report – March 2018

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

 

St John’s Wood Post Office

We started this petition to Save the St John’s Wood Post Office petition a year ago and you can still sign up to add your voice

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-the-st-john-s-wood-post-office-open

Lodge Road

We have contacted Soho Housing Association about repairs to flats at 50 Lodge Road.

Scott Ellis Gardens

We are helping a number of residents with repairs and maintenances issues that need to be fixed by City West Homes.

Eamont Street

We have asked Gustavo, our local Inspector, to investigate this issue:

“Eamont Street has a corner shop opened twenty four seven. The side of this shop is on Eamont Street, and there is a low wall, behind this wall there is always unsightly rubbish. I have often spoken to the shop keeper who tells me that people use the space as a rubbish dump. It makes the area look so awfully grubby. “

Gustavo tells us:

“I have spoken to the staff of the shop about keeping the space behind that low wall clean from litter and rubbish. Although it is their private area they still have the duty of care to maintain it clear. The staff agreed to cooperate and I have been monitoring the site during my inspections. That space has been kept clear from litter since I first visited the shop on Monday.”

Hamilton Gardens

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“We have also been at the receiving end of obvious drug dealing in the cul de sac of Hamilton Gardens. It has subsided a bit thankfully but I can concur it is extremely brazen, unpleasant to observe (lights, car running, etc) and the rubbish and mess left behind after they finally leave is downright disgusting and disrespectful! “ 

Hamilton Close

We have asked Gustavo, City Inspector to investigate this problem:

“The cobbled roadway in Hamilton Close was repaired a few years ago but only for a short distance extending from the entry to the Close from St John’s Wood Road. Can you persuade Westminster Council to repair these cobbles?  There is a clear danger of tripping or falling, particularly at night.”

Northwick Close

We have asked the Council’s Tree Officer to investigate this issue:

“Our magnificent old fig tree that sits behind 16 Northwick Close was cut down to stumps a few weeks ago. Can someone at the Council give assurance that it will grow back to its previous glory?”

Fettes House

We are continuing to help residents in Fettes House who have had problems with water leaks and City West Homes’ delays in fixing the problems.

Cochrane Street recycling bins

We have asked Gustavo, local Inspector, to ensure that the dumped rubbish by the recycling bins is removed regularly. Gustavo says:

“I have been talking to my recycling team for assistance to have a consultation with residents of the blocks nearby this Micro Recycling Centre. This consultation would aim to get a response about the possibility of removing these bins as Veolia and I have been doing an extensive monitoring on this location for quite sometime. I have also taken lots of both educational and enforcement measures against alleged offenders. “ 

Cochrane Street 

We are continuing with our efforts to persuade the Council to allow new modern windows to be fitted in properties in Cochrane Street in order to keep residents warm. 

“We would like to provide our tenants with better insulation but have been refused.  We had to go to great expense installing purpose made single glazed windows where the elderly tenant would have benefited from a more modern approach. I would point out that our building dates from 1963 and is of no architectural merit.   It is next door to a 1930’s building where Westminster did nothing when the owners replaced architecturally significant Crittal windows with double glazing.  Retrospective permission was granted.”

Ordnance Hill 

We have raised these two issues with the Police again:

“I too have seen nitrous oxide bottles in the morning on Ordnance Hill close to Robinsfield School.  Given what your report had recently said about activity in Ordnance Hill, Aquila Street and Henstridge Place, what are the police doing about it?”

“I was astonished 2 weeks ago to witness a ‘moped’ robbery attempt at the corner of Ordnance Hill and Acacia Road. A young man in a suit, calling an Uber cab took evasive action when he realised the bike was mounting the pavement to snatch his phone. But the bike went around twice and made more attempts – the man retreated into the front of the Ordnance Pub. But neither the young man, nor the security man who kindly came to help, called the police. The security man said it was a waste of time. He said it was becoming common in St Johns Wood and they had called the police several times before, but the Police would do nothing… even though the bike was circling St Johns Wood looking for the next victim. We heard a yell – and saw the robber had found success outside St Johns Wood underground station. The landlord of the Ordnance and 2 customers came out to help – but it was too late by then, the bike had vanished.”

We have also raised the issue of dog fouling and Gustavo, the local Inspector says: 

“The animal warden and I have done an extensive work on Queen’s Grove in regards of signage and educational letters and warnings to residents re bagged dog fouling by the tree bases. We will meet again tomorrow to start the same type of work on Ordnance Hill.”

St John’s Wood Road area – residents’ parking

We have asked the Parking Department to see if any additional residents’ parking could be found in the area around St John’s Wood Road? Our recent discussions with residents have identified the following issues

  • Aberdeen Place – residents mentioned the problem that the residential spaces are for cars registered in zones B and C, which means that people who don’t live nearby are taking up spaces there and preventing residents from parking.
  • Cunningham Place – residents raised the issue of parking on weekends when there is a cricket match on, as the parking restrictions only apply during the week
  • Scott Ellis Gardens – many people raised the difficulty of finding a space on the street. Some mentioned that there are people with multiple cars filling up the street and often taking up two spaces in order to save it for their other car.

The Parking Department say:

“There is also a new parking scheme being implemented at the moment that will provide up to an additional 8 parking spaces on Cunningham Place and Aberdeen Place. We are aware that much of the C Zone residential area is heavily subscribed and that some locations like Scott Ellis Gardens are particularly over-subscribed due to the fact that this small cul-de-sac is entirely comprised of flats rather than individual houses so parking will always be difficult and there is no kerbside available to provide any additional parking.”

Regent’s Canal tow path

Plans from the Canal & River Trust and The Royal Parks have been announced to create a new ramp and steps down to the Regent’s Canal from Avenue Road. There are existing steps at this location (beside Macclesfield Bridge) which do not fully connect to the towpath. It is proposed to replace the steps with a new ramp and a full flight of steps to the towpath. The design has been developed to limit the impact on the trees and vegetation and to take account of the access needs of visitors. You can comment on the proposals via www.royalparks.org.uk/avenue-road-access and the closing date for comments is Friday March 23, 2018.

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 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.

  • 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.

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

Marlborough Road

Here are some interesting facts, figures and pictures about the former Marlborough Road underground station

http://www.abandonedstations.org.uk/Marlborough_Road_station.html

St John’s Wood High Street – what you say

“There is one more shop closing to add to the list – Carphone Warehouse. It’s not that this one is a particular loss but the reason for all these departures is the ridiculously high rents that apparently keep being raised even further once a tenant is established. Such a waste! If only we could have some more independent shops and cafes like Primrose Hill, and like we had before!”

Voluntary additional Council Tax payments – what you say

“Instead of the funds being merged into the Council coffers, and lost, a separate Trust fund should be set up and run by an all party set of Trustees to ensure the use and direction of the money.” 

“What concerns me is that it is the decent honest residents who are most likely to accede to Westminster’s demands for a voluntary contribution; surely the absentee/millionaire/overseas-based owners, who can most afford to contribute, will just ignore the request.” 

Basement extensions – what you say 

“In Marlborough Place, we have constant basement extensions being built. We are due another one and have objected, no one takes any notice. Money talks and there are a lot of underhand deals going on, we are sure. Our house has been severely damaged and internal deep cracks have had to be repaired twice due to basement works in our road. This was confirmed by our decorator.”

What you say 

“This is a fantastic email so thank you very much.  I appreciate the regular updates so thank you again.” 

“I am happy to be able to report that the drive-in and surrounding pavement to the Wellington Hospital administrative offices in Circus Road is due to be renewed within the next twenty days weather permitting.”

“Thank you for your most helpful and informative email circular.” 

“As a resident of St Johns Wood for 50 years I find your bulletins very interesting” 

“Thank you for all your work on the St John’s Wood Action Report.”

“Thank you for the ever interesting and comprehensive news update.: 

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 Labour Action Team

regentsparklabour@gmail.com

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council