Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Report - March 2018

News from Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson, your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team.

Joseph Conrad House, Lillington Gardens

We asked City West Homes to replace a broken door in Joseph Conrad House and clear up rubbish dumped on the stairs.

Dolphin Square

We have written to the Council to register our objections to the Westbrook plans for Dolphin Square.

Vauxhall Bridge Road taxi rank

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue:

“Back in 2016 part of Upper Tachbrook Street, from Longmore Street to Vauxhall Bridge Road, was changed to one way to stop it being used as the overflow from the taxi rank in Vauxhall Bridge Road. This was causing serious problems in Upper Tachbrook Street as the taxis were double parking. We still have lots of vehicles driving the wrong way into Vauxhall Bridge Road, including the taxis who must know by now it is a one way street, but the taxis are now causing a different problem.

When the taxi rank that run along Vauxhall Bridge Road is full, which it often is, they wait with their hazard lights on along the red route either side of Upper Tachbrook Street. Please see photos attached. The traffic travelling towards Victoria from Vauxhall Bridge is suddenly reduced to one lane because of the taxis parked up. All traffic, buses, lorries, cars, vans and cyclists all have to indicate and try to move out to drive around the parked taxis. Is it not illegal to stop on a double red route?

Could we please ask for your help with the matter as if this is allowed to continue there is going to be a serious accident.”

Bessborough Place

We asked Peabody to ensure that the estate is gritted during the cold weather to maintain safety for older and infirm residents. Residents say:

“Our estate has many elderly frail residents. When our pavement and road surface become icy our old people are marooned at home as they cannot go out as they will probably slip and hurt themselves.  If the ice lasts some of these old people cannot leave their homes for days at a time.”

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 would 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

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.

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.

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.

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

Dolphin Square – what you say

“The Square will turn into a building site which will last for longer than the 5 years Westbrook have stated, making life unbearable not only for the residents here but also for our neighbours with the constant flow of heavy vehicles, the noise which penetrates through this building of concrete and steel, and with the work which will raise the height of this already 9 storey building overshadowing the neighbourhood when Dolphin Square is a conservation area”

What you say

“Thanks very much for your e-mail and the updates”

“Many thanks for your action report.  It is very helpful to have the piece on the rents at Dolphin Square. “ 

“Thanks so much for raising this issue on behalf of the many elderly residents.”

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


Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson,

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help