Westminster South Labour Action Report - April 2018

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – APRIL 2018

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

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 of Conservative 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.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/labourclp250/pages/1096/attachments/original/1521622381/Westminster_Labour_2018_Manifesto.pdf?1521622381

Standing up for Soho’s Small Businesses

Small businesses are integral to Soho’s unique identity and heritage. But they’ve fallen victim to rising rents and rates. The Conservatives in Westminster Council have chosen to side with powerful landlords and developers instead of helping small businesses.

We pledge to champion small businesses. We will stand up for small businesses and fight for them. We pledge to:

  • Send a strong message to developers and landlords. We will tell them that Soho’s existing small businesses need to be supported.
  • Oppose any development projects that give local residents and small businesses a bad deal.
  • Use the Council’s powers to create a Special Policy Area in Soho to protect and grow small businesses.
  • Work closely with small businesses to challenge rent reviews.
  • Lobby central government to bring down crippling business rates.

Planning protection for Soho and Chinatown 

You can read Dave Hill’s latest article here:

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/westminster-labour-pledges-to-extend-planning-protections-to-unique-soho-and-chinatown/ 

Peter Street

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“There are cracked pavements by the NCP car park on Peter Street. These have been in a state of disrepair for a long time and need fixing.

Huguenot House

We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate a number of flats being used for Airbnb short let flats which it is believed are not authorised for short lets. We have also asked City West Homes to investigate. Residents say:

“A few months ago, I emailed on behalf of some of my neighbours at Huguenot House regarding short-lets of council-owned properties. You were able to direct that to the right place for some attention. I am glad to say that we seem to have had some slow-down in those. Unfortunately, some seem to be up and running again. I write today about two council-owned flats which are let out by CWH, and had been on our list earlier. 

This is a secured block owned by the council. We have fob-entry and a caretaker on site, and these fobs have to be handed out to the ‘guests’, some seemingly mailed in advance.  We have had problems in past with ‘guests’ letting in less-desirable elements as well as verbally abusing our own residents.”

The Roadhouse, Covent Garden

A month long campaign has been launched to save Covent Garden’s live music venue the Roadhouse, which is hosting a series of free live events as part of its #SaveRoadhouse campaign, raising awareness of its risk of closure by welcoming up and coming talent to perform. More than 11,000 people have signed a petition urging Westminster City Council to save the venue, which faces eviction later this year. The Rolling Stones star Bill Wyman and London’s Night Czar Amy Lame have given their support. The Roadhouse has entertained music fans from its premises in the basement of Jubilee Hall on The Piazza for 25 years.

https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/bars/campaign-launched-to-save-covent-garden-live-music-venue-the-roadhouse-a3800521.html

Ponsonby Place

We have asked the Council to improve the refuse collection service in Ponsonby Place. Residents say:

“When I walk the dog I regularly pick up rubbish left outside in sacks that are ripped open with content blown on to the street. There are Primary and Secondary Schools nearby and lots of tourists are passing through this street towards the Tate.”

Greycoat Place 

We are helping a local business who has been subjected to a large increase in Business Rates, we believe wrongly, and have given him details of how to appeal to the Valuation Office.

Willow Place

We have contacted Network Homes following complaints from residents in Willow Place that the Rubbish Chute was blocked.

Abady House, Page Street

We have asked the Parking Department to contact a resident Abady House about making an application for a disabled parking bay.

Grosvenor and Regency Estates

Grosvenor & Regency residents have voted to reject City West Homes’ initial proposal for a Residents Voice estate-wide group but they will continue to work with CWH to refine. They say:

“At meeting tonight to hear CWH proposal for an estate wide resident group to monitor CWH performance. Not impressed that CWH refusing to give Resident’s Committee any financial support to coordinate over 800 flats. Back to drawing board.” 

Lillington and Longmoore Gardens – Gardening Service

We have launched the following petition:

“We the undersigned, being residents of the Lillington & Longmoore Gardens Estate, wish to protest against the contracting out of the gardening service. The decision to privatise the service was taken without resident consultation, just as there was no resident consultation on the closure of the estate office, or the so-called “security” railings installation on Longmoore Gardens, which, in due course, is to be rolled out across Lillington Gardens. Due to the hard work of the in-house gardeners the estate has been awarded the coveted Green Flag for the 11th year running. The gardening team offer invaluable support to the allotment holders and to those who volunteer to run the children’s gardening club. They also facilitate the annual Open Garden Squares Event. We therefore ask that Westminster City Council and CityWest Homes, place the same value as the residents do on the gardening team, rethink their decision and keep the gardening service in-house.”

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.”

Harewood Avenue 

We have asked the Council to instruct the Parking Marshals to make a concerted effort in Harewood Avenue where the queueing taxis are continuing to create problems for residents. They say:

“Every day from very early in the morning (6:00am) until late at night everything is the same as described in our last letter.  The traffic is chaotic, engines are permanently switched on and we cant get out of our building or cross the road safely.  We can provide you with photos if required but can you please deal with this matter urgently.”

Blandford Estate

We have asked City West Homes to investigate this issue: 

At present the car parking gates on the Blandford Estate have been out of order for three weeks.  This is after numerous reports to the housing manager and the Customer Service team. We are suffering a terrible ASB problem at present and the broken gates are adding to this problem.  As a resident I am at a loss as to why I am paying my service charge in particular the administration fee. 

For example – you cannot speak to any of the housing managers at the Lisson Green office.  You are not allowed their email addresses or indeed their telephone numbers.  Their current set-up is so they do not have to deal with resident complaints/issues. The reception desk at Lisson Green Estate do not have a telephone on the desk.  Therefore, when you go to the office you are again, blocked from talking to a housing Manager.  Even making an appointment to meet with a manager becomes an almost impossible task as you are constantly fobbed off or ignored.” 

City West Homes say:

“I made contact with the Chair of the Blandford Estate Residents Voice group and arranged to meet with her and other members of the group to walk around the estate and look at the issues raised first hand and agree the way forward.  With regard  to the gates, I arranged to have these repaired as a priority.  I have also arranged to have the three remaining vehicle gates inspected to ensure that they are also working correctly. The meeting was very positive and I am now addressing a number issues raised by the group.  We have agreed to meet again in the next couple of weeks to discuss progress and agree a way forward. “

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.

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.

Building genuinely affordable homes

If Labour wins 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.

Council Elections – 3rd May

Another interesting article from Dave Hill on the ‘state of play’ in the West End Ward

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/labour-hopes-rise-in-westminster-as-west-end-tory-stands-down/

Basement extensions – what you say

“We in Lyall Mews have been subjected to three years of incredible noise and filth.  The Council granted permission to dig out a double basement of 5000 plus square feet.  It was the last one granted in this area.  The digging out has come to an end and now we face the fitting out.  That will take a year at the very least with a flotilla of vans and trucks up and down the Mews, blocking traffic.  I think that standards of permissions granted and the process by which it is done should be reviewed.  I do not advocate total prevention of building by owners and I am most in favour of free enterprise, but I would question the wisdom of allowing such extensive and intrusive projects to take place in such cramped spaces.  We had to employ engineers, party wall surveyors, lawyers to protect our property, which has as a consequence of the project been de-stabilised and damaged.  Thankfully the builder in charge was professional and kept to his brief till the end.  Still there is much work that we must do to redress the stresses on our house. “

What you say

“Thank you for your report. “

“Just to let you know that despite being a lifelong Conservative, I will be voting for your party’s candidates in the May election. Two main reasons: (a) I’m impressed by your regular Newsletters, which show a lot more interest in local issues than our local ward councillors ever do, and (b) the current Council have ridden roughshod over local residents. With expensive property development and other “projects” Westminster has become a shambles. It’s a tall order, but I hope you become the majority party this time. We need a fresh approach.”

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

 

Regards