Westminster South Labour Action Reports - late April 2018

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

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Soho GP practice

We have written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to ask him to take action to save the Soho GP practice:

“We are writing to you to express our deep concerns over the ongoing situation at the Soho Square GP practice and the failure of the contract between the Central London CCG and the operator Living Care Medical Services. 

All the undertakings given by the operator in December 2017 have not been met. The GPs that had been working at the practice have left and been replaced by locums, which have on several occasions resulted in the practice having no medical staff who could see patients or authorise repeat prescriptions.

We are very concerned at the failure of the CCG to deal with these problems and call on you to investigate the serious issues at the Soho Square practice and difficulties in working with the CCG. We also urge you to request the Care Quality Commission to arrange an inspection of the Soho Square practice as soon as possible and to report to you with their findings as a matter of urgency.”

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council to urgently look into the situation behind the closure of what is believed to be the oldest shop in Soho – the lighting shop W Stich on Berwick Street (http://www.wsitch.co.uk/ ). This reinforces the need for urgent action on rates and rents for SMEs on Berwick Street and across the West End as a whole.

We have also asked the Council to fix a bent sign post on the pavement on Berwick Street, just north of the junction with Broadwick Street.

Green’s Court

We have asked City West Homes to take action to deal with mould and damp in a flat in Green’s Court.

Dufour’s Place

We are again supporting residents in Dufour’s Place who are battling with Soho Housing Association to allow them to control the heating in their flats. Residents say:

‘The building is already over-heating and with temperature increases forecast this week the boiler does not need to be on 24 hours a day. As has already been established, it is unnecessary for it to run 24 hours a day; even in winter. If the system was networked this adjustment could be easily achieved without incurring call out costs for a visit to the Plant Room”

Dolphin Square

The Twentieth Century Society has objected to the Westbrook proposals for Dolphin Square. They say:

“The Twentieth Century Society strongly objects to this application which will cause  harm to the significance of the Dolphin Square conservation area. The Society considers Dolphin Square to be of substantial historic and architectural significance. Dolphin Square is an impressive example of a type of large scale urban living which was pioneering for its day.  The self contained nature of the development, the first in Britain, continues to be unusual.  The building is remarkably intact, still displaying a subtle 1930s charm.  The proposals will irrevocably damage its heritage significance.

Dolphin Square has been recognised as an unlisted building of merit and heritage asset as it forms the majority of the built area of the Dolphin Square Conservation Area designated in 1990.  The conservation is designated entirely because of the significance of Dolphin Square. The demolition of Rodney House represents the loss of a substantial amount of the built area of the conservation area and the demolition of the top storey and replacement with two storeys that do not resemble the current form will affect almost all the remainder of the conservation area. The proposals in the current planning application also envisage the loss of the historic shopping parade, the loss of the original recreational centre and the related garden areas.”

Ponsonby Place

We have asked Peabody to investigate this issue:

“The communal TV aerial in Ponsonby Place was taken down carelessly in February. Since then many people in the entire terrace of houses have not had TV, and although Marysmith House (17 homes) have had a temporary aerial installed, many tenants there do not get several channels. Some people further up the terrace from 61 to 77 and beyond have no TV whatsoever, and in the meantime are paying their full TV licence.  

Despite scaffolding going up to replace the roof, Peabody have failed to replace the aerial and this has resulted in dozens of phone calls being made to the Housing Association who have not resolved the issue. Now that the scaffolding has come down, are they (as they have promised weeks ago) going to get the aerial contractors to send a cherry picker around to replace the aerial, or continue to leave tenants without their TV?”

Baltimore Court, Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have asked Peabody to deal with mould and damp in the kitchen in a flat in Baltimore Court.

Edric House, Page Street

We have asked City West Homes to repair a long-standing water leak in Edric House.

Smith Square

We were disappointed to hear about plans to close St John’s, Smith Square. In a commentary for The Times, Richard Morrison describes the plans as a cultural tragedy. He writes: “The venue is St John’s, Smith Square in the heart of Westminster. Bombed almost to oblivion in 1941, it was restored as a concert hall in the 1960s and has hosted more than 300 events in a year ever since. Closing this beautiful building now would no only be bad for music, it would also be an indefensible betrayal of the far-sighted donors who rescued it half a century ago.”

John Adam Street

Following our enquiry about cars parking on the pavement and causing damage, the Council has told us:

“I can confirm a site meeting has been arranged with a Highways Inspector to identify any immediate defects required. During this visit we will assess feasible long-term solutions to alleviate the repeated repairs required.”

Maiden Lane

We are continuing to liaise with local residents and businesses who are opposed to Capco’s plans to divert traffic down Maiden Lane.

Upper Berkeley Street

We have reported this issue to the Parking Department:

“I would like to complain about the number of Uber and Addison Lee cars that park outside my flat on Upper Berkeley Street during the day but mainly weekends. They continually have there engines running, talk loudly on their phones and the Parking Enforcement Officers just walk buy them. They are parking their without paying their fee and nothing is done. There also seems to be an upsurge in manned private cars where drivers wait while their owners go shopping or visiting again without paying their fee.

My main bug bare is the Tuk Tuk taxis that continue along Upper Berkeley Street with their music blaring out no matter what time or day.”

The Parking Department say:

“As part of their normal patrols, we will ask marshals to pay particular attention to the points raised, and enforce in line with our published policies and procedures.  I have also spoken with my colleagues in TfL who deal with the taxi trade and its compliance, to see if they can support.”

Harewood Avenue

We have met with residents on the Blandford Estate to discuss the continuing problems caused by taxi drivers queueing along Harwood Avenue with their engines running. Residents say that 6am to 10am is really bad, when taxis queue around the corner. We have continued to press the press the Council to take action.

Tate Gallery

Young people can take advantage of a new Tate Gallery scheme offering them exhibition entry for £5 after research found they were being priced out of its galleries. The Tate Collective, for those aged 16 to 25, is free to join and includes discounts at Tate cafes and shops. Members can bring up to three friends for £5 each.

http://www.tate.org.uk/tate-collective

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

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/and-another-25-more-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Westbourne Terrace – Update

Following our enquiries about coaches using Westbourne Terrace, TfL say:

Currently, only the A6 is authorised to use Westbourne Terrace. We have contacted National Express, who operate the A1, to advise them that they must remind their drivers that there is a designated overnight route that avoids Westbourne Terrace. If there are repeated incidents where this Isn’t being followed please report it to us on 0343 222 1234 or at tfl.gov.uk/contact so that we can take action with the operator. We are already in discussion with Westminster City Council and National Express to move both routes to Eastbourne Terrace once Crossrail complete their works, and remove the diversion, at the end of this year.”

Litter

We have welcomed the increased on-the-spot fines of up to £150 for dropping litter, including from vehicles.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43609325

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 of 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

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:

www.westminstercab.org.uk/advice/online-enquiry

What you say

“I’m struck by the astonishing tenacity of your team of Councillors.  High standards of service to residents: investigation of issues large and small, measured reporting, dogged follow-up, regular reporting back to us, over a sustained period, all this on behalf of a large and diverse population, with good results achieved from a mainly well-meaning but often complacent Council.  Well done.”

I do very much appreciate your efforts in making the Westminster Council respond to the request of its residents and I believe you have achieved a great deal in making Westminster a better place to live in. The reading of your reports led me to decide to vote Labour.”

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

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Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business and Public Realm spokesperson

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