Pages tagged "Bryanston and Dorset Square"


Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward Labour Ation Report - April 2018

BRYANSTON AND DORSET SQUARE ACTION REPORT – April 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward – Mohamed Hammeda, Rima Horton and Neil Taylor

 

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

Homer Row

We have asked City West Homes to investigate this issue:

“I spoke to a resident about anti-social behaviour happening in the courtyard of the Marylebone Estate on Homer Row. Intruders jump over the low gate when locked and reportedly gangs and individuals regularly do drug deals and try to break into people’s property from the back-garden. The resident also has seen a condom in the garage of estate. The residents say the gate is too low and a larger more secure gate should be installed.”

Old Marylebone Road/Marylebone Road junction

We have asked TfL to repair a number of the street lights at this very busy junction.

Seymour Buildings

Residents have contacted us about two long standing issues where they the Council has failed to protect residents’ interests:

  • There has been considerable noisy work to the basement of the retail unit at the corner of Seymour Place and Crawford Street, involving power drills early in the morning and after 6pm, with huge amounts of building material being removed, some of which residents fear is structural.
  • The tenants of the retail units along Crawford Street appear to be using the garden area of Seymour Buildings (which is reserved for residential tenants of Seymour Coop). They appear to be gaining access to the garden via the rear fire doors.

George Street/Gloucester Place

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“I live in Montagu Square and have always found the north side crossing of Gloucester Place and George Street very dangerous as have many other people who need to use that crossing.  There are no pedestrian crossing lights there.  A large number of people use that crossing including children on their way to and from school, and elderly people. Most car drivers do not honour the highway code by giving way to pedestrians when turning into Gloucester Place from George Street and are often driving very fast. It is amazing that there haven’t been serious accidents.   I had assumed that as Gloucester Place is to become two way and traffic lights needed to be altered, provision would be made for pedestrians but I have just learnt that that is not the case. Since one of the selling points for the two-way scheme was “safer pedestrian crossings” I and many of my neighbours were hoping that our local crossing would be made safer.  Is there anything that can be done at this stage?”

The Council say:

“The team has looked at this particular junction throughout the development of the project and it will be kept under review as part of the monitoring regime being put in place to assess how demand and traffic conditions change.  However, in this particular case, given the traffic analysis, it was not considered that a full set of signals could be introduced here without having a detrimental impact on the overall traffic flow.  This particular location is being kept under review to see if traffic flows that arise after the scheme is introduced will allow for this crossing facility to be extended to the other arm.

Residents say:

“The Crawford Street/Gloucester Place crossing does now have full pedestrian crossings on all arms.  That is really good but, in my experience, over many years, fewer people cross there than at the George Street crossing.  I do urge the Council to reconsider their decision.  I really fear that there could be a very serious accident at that crossing.  I have seen and experienced many near misses.”

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. “

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

Enford Street/Knox Street – what you say

“The appalling congestion and pollution you refer to in Knox and Enford Streets are caused by the works for the unwanted and unnecessary and unwelcome Baker Streets and Gloucester Place two-way scheme. Vehicles tying to travel north on Gloucester Place and unable to make progress due to major works, turn off left and make their way through these once quiet residential streets, eventually joining Marylebone Rd westbound at Upper Montagu, Knox, and Enford Streets. 

Similar things are occurring north of Marylebone Road with huge increases in traffic in Melcombe Street, Dorset Square, Melcombe Place, Harewood Avenue and Lisson Grove.”

“I think this is because the Waze navigation app regularly shows this route to get onto the Marylebone Rd rather than Gloucester Place. Tom-Tom used to route via Gloucester Place. “

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.

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

What you say

“I am pleased to see that you are well informed of the incompetency of CWH.  Residents under this housing provider are really suffering as repairs to estates are not being carried out in a timely manner. I and others are of the opinion that it is time that CWH’s loose their current contract and a competent, customer friendly housing provider be employed.”

“Once again, thank you for all your hard work and you certainly get my vote.”

“Thank you very much for your Bryanston and Dorset Square ward action team reports. With best wishes and thanks for all you are doing for our ward.”

“Many thanks – as ever- for the brilliant newsletter”

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

Regards


Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward Labour Action Report - March 18

News from the Labour Action Team in Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward.

Enford Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“There is a hugely increased amount of traffic (largely diesel taxis queuing and idling in Enford Street, right next to the school gates and playground) sometimes even queueing round into York Street, which in 40 years of living on the corner of York and Enford Street, I have never observed before. It is a startling increase and I notice it as school opens, when I am on my way to work and in the late afternoon and evening when I return.”

Knox Street

Residents in Knox Street are facing the same problems:

“Knox Street, also one way from York Street to the Marylebone Road has also seen a large increase in traffic.  We are getting unexpected traffic jams that stretch the length of the street, something we’ve not had in the 19 years I’ve lived here.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to when they occur.  It can be during what is normally a quiet time, such as Sunday evening, as well as at rush hour on a weekday night.”

Lisson Grove/Marylebone Road

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue:

“Can anything be done about the large private coach which every day parks on the double yellow lines at the Marylebone Road end of Lisson Grove just before the junction traffic lights on some sort of school run around mid day onwards which seriouly reduces the flow of traffic flow down Lisson Grove which tails back way past a Catholic Junior school with the resulting delays from two lanes to one lane and all the added pollution in the whole area.”

We have received the following response:

“We have briefed all Marshals who regularly patrol this area regarding the complaint.  If found parking/waiting in contravention of the parking restrictions, the service will manage in line with our published enforcement code of practice.  Should the vehicle be involved with the school, we will engage with the school as part our overall engagement plan to ensure compliance.”

Broadley Street/Harewood Avenue

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“I would like to comment about regular illegal dumping in the small fenced off space in front of the property on the corner of Broadley Terrace and Harewood Avenue. There have been mattresses and other household waste, as well as bits of wood and broken furniture. “

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. Around half of local residents are opposed to the proposals, with the other half in support (with or without concerns).

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”

Baker Street Two Way

You can register for weekly updates here http://www.bakerstreettwoway.co.uk/index.html#contact

Wigmore Street

Works started 22nd January at Seymour St/Gt Cumberland Place and Wigmore St from Duke St to Wimpole St. Any queries relating to the Seymour Street and Wigmore Street works should be directed to the following email address: wigmorestreetimprovements@conwayaecom.com.

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 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.

Building genuinely affordable homes

If Labour win 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

Scrapping tall buildings policy – what you say

“Current policy just exploits London for all it is worth. So disrespectful of existing communities and indeed of the generations of builders and craftsmen who constructed this city. Those buildings, so thoughtlessly being demolished (rather than adapted) are probably the only memorials that those men and women have.”

Baker Street two-way – what you say

“Whose idea was it to spend all this money on changing Baker Street and Gloucester Place into two way and the extra cost of cycle lanes which hardly anyone uses when the present system works perfectly.”

What you say

“Thanks, as ever, for your newsletter. “


More work needed on Oxford Street to get it right, say Labour

Following the announcement of the latest consultation returns on the Oxford Street project, Labour’s Business and Public Realm spokesperson, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said:

“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. Around half of local residents are opposed to the proposals, with the other half in support (with or without concerns). 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”

Labour’s candidates for the West End Ward, Patrick Lilley, Pancho Lewis and Caroline Saville said:

“As West End ward candidates, we’ve spoken to many residents on the doorstep about plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street. It is clear there are very strong concerns about the proposals. TfL and Westminster Council would do well not to underestimate the real anxieties and concerns that residents have expressed. The well-being of residents needs to be at the absolute forefront of any plans put forward – otherwise we will not support pedestrianisation.”


Bryanston and Dorset Square Labour Action Report - Feb 18

 

News from the Labour Action Team in Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward 

Blandford Estate, Harewood Avenue

We reported this issue to City West Homes:

“I live on the Blandford Estate, Harewood Avenue. My neighbour called the CWH Customer service centre to report a defective heater in her living room.  She was informed by CWH that it could take 20 days to get a contractor out to repair the heater! She is elderly and not in good health and was informed by the customer service centre to sit in another room or go and stay with her daughter. She is at present using an electric heater which will cost extra money to her electric bill.

Since CWH’s have changed their system it is to the detriment of all residents.  We can only contact the customer service centre, we are no longer allowed Housing manager’s phone or email details.  They are in effect keeping residents at more thane arms length and are not providing an effective robust customer service or indeed, answering repairs or complaints in a timely manner.  In effect we are paying for a service that we are not receiving!!”

Following our intervention, the problem has been found and resolved. City West Homes say: “The issue appears to have been related to the main switch in the distribution board which was jammed, this has been removed, cleaned and it may be that a new board is required, so we will monitor the situation very closely.”

Harrowby Street/Edgware Road/Brendon Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Has anyone approached you about the disastrous plan for the Harrowby St/Edgware Rd junction and associated plan to reverse traffic flow in Brendon St?  We are very concerned about how this will work and whether it will bring more lorries up past the local primary school and about the plan for a permanent parking spot for lorries in Brendon St. IF you could let me know I would be grateful. “

The Council say

The changes to the flow of traffic in Brendon Street from one-way southbound to one-way northbound is required in order to facilitate the banned left turn from the southbound lanes of Edgware Road into Harrowby Street.  The Brendon Street proposals were developed by Westminster and will resolve the above concerns by proposing: 

  • A loading provision, which can be used by Waitrose lorries to be built into the western footway of Brendon Street. This space will be available for vehicle / resident parking outside of delivery hours. The permitted hours of loading will be in-line with what is currently permitted in Brendon Street.
  • Minor kerb works and paving works at either end of Brendon Street
  • Several parking bays to be relocated from Crawford Street
  • An extension of the Double Yellow Lines on the south eastern side of Brendon Street to enable HGV’s to make the turn from Harrowby Street into Brendon Street.

Currently, the HGV’s which use Brendon Street are vehicles that service Argos, Waitrose, Grosvenor Hotel and the Lord Wargrave Public House. Following on from discussions with Waitrose and Argos, these movements are defined in their business traffic plan to enter and exit from Edgware Road.   

The proposals have not yet been approved by Westminster and there is a meeting currently being planned between councillors and residents to further explain the proposals ahead of a decision and the formal Traffic Order process. The proposed ‘loading bay’ will operate in a similar fashion to the current parking an loading restrictions that exists in Brendon Street and will provide additional resident parking outside of loading hours.”

Residents say:

“I am grateful to you for pursuing this. This provides me with me with more information than we have had to date and I am sure that the members of our residents’ association will be very interested to read this. “

“Very interesting. I particularly note that it says that we are to have a meeting where it is to be explained to us and that then the traffic order will be placed. It doesn’t say that this is consultation, but rather, explanation. However, it does say that WCC have yet to decide, so perhaps it is consultation.  There is a lot about extensive consulting with Argos and Waitrose and little about having consulted residents, which is a pity in a residential street”

Marylebone Library 

Proposals to build the new Marylebone Library at Seymour Leisure Centre have been announced. The Council is seeking views on the proposals and has arranged the following consultation events at Marylebone Library, 9 – 11 New Cavendish Street W1G 9UQ

  • Tuesday 27th February, 3pm – 8pm
  • Wednesday 7th March, 8am – 10am

You can also view the design proposals and comment online at
www.westminster.gov.uk/marylebone-library-update

Baker Street two-way 

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Apart from the disruption being caused round the area by works to convert Baker Street to 2-way traffic, a bus driver told me that further disruption will be caused this year until 2019 by major sewer works needed for the huge hotel conversion of the American embassy in Grosvenor Square! Wondering if you know more?”

Marylebone Road traffic 

Following our enquiries about traffic travelling north-south/south-north jumping the lights along Marylebone Road, TfL say:

“As a result of the lane closures that are in place for the Baker Street works, to introduce two way traffic on Baker Street and Gloucester Place, unfortunately some green signal time has had to be reallocated to Marylebone Road. This is because as it holds a considerable proportion of the traffic travelling around central London. Unfortunately, this has meant a slight reduction in green signal time to the side roads. Increasing the green time to the side roads will result in significant levels of queuing on Marylebone Road which would eventually cause gridlock of the whole network as you can understand. The traffic team are continuing to monitor the traffic signal strategy in the area during the works and have engineers constantly reviewing the signal timings.”

Oxford Street proposals

We have been pressing TfL on a range of issues raised by residents. Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets, transport for disabled people and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/oxford-street-transformation/

If you have any issues you would like us to take up please us know.

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 CEputy 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

Rubbish Dumping 

In response to the regular concerns expressed by residents, we have put forward the following ideas:

  • Reinstate a free service for standard household bulky refuse collections and introduce a paid-for service for express bulky refuse collections
  • Use mobile cameras to help enforcement at fly-tipping ‘hotspots’.
  •  Increase fines for dumping.
  • Consult residents to decide where extra bins might be of assistance and improve signage and communication with residents
  • Offer residents the chance to report dumping via Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger
  • Target Council inspections and waste collection to the worst-affected areas to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping.

What do you think? 

Pedicabs

We have written to Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and Jo Johnson, Minister for London, requesting that they ensure the scandal of unregulated pedicabs in London is ended and support the Private Members Bill proposed by MPs Paul Scully and Karen Buck gets government approval.

 “This Private Members Bill has cross party support the lack of regulation of pedicabs means they are less safe, they cause nuisance, drivers and passengers are uninsured. Drivers are not checked, prices are inconsistent and arbitrary. You and your officials can read key points here.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-01-23/debates/A37EAF8A-897E-4B44-9293-E48F01306954/Pedicabs(London)

Let us know what action you plan to take to resolve the anomaly that pedicabs are regulated all over England except London where most of them are and putting the appropriate authorities (TFL, Mayor of London) in charge.  We have been campaigning for this for some time and previous efforts by Westminster Council amongst others have failed. This Bill needs your support.”

Dealing with Airbnb 

Research by the Residential Landlords Association published in December 2017 found the number of Airbnb rentals in London has increased by 187% since 2015. Karen Buck MP (Labour) said the number of properties advertised in Westminster North on Airbnb has more than doubled – from 1,603 in 2015 to 3,621 in 2017.

“In blocks of flats, long-term residents find themselves living in a hotel but without the services to support it, like staff and security. They have to deal with constant comings and goings, security concerns, noise, rubbish. These properties turn over every few days so you feel you aren’t living in a residential community.”

Karen Buck said short-term lets were also contributing to housing shortages.

“The original concept of Airbnb was you rent your flat out when you’re away or your spare room. That still happens and that’s absolutely fine. But what’s also happened is professional landlords have moved in, who in many cases own multiple properties.”

Research by Westminster City Council found that renting a one-bedroom flat in the area will make £495 a week for an ordinary tenancy, but £1,561 a week on a nightly basis.

Two years ago, the law changed to allow London properties to be let for up to 90 days a year without permission from the council. In January 2017, Airbnb introduced a block on London hosts renting out homes for more than 90 days a year, to ensure users complied with the law.

But some landlords are finding ways around the rules, including re-listing a property under a slightly different address or advertising a whole flat as a single room, which is not covered by the 90-day limit. People also advertise on alternative platforms to get around the cap.

Karen Buck said it was difficult for councils to enforce the 90-day limit and has put forward a bill to Parliament calling for all short-term lets to be registered

“It’s difficult to monitor. Local authorities have to spend a lot of time and money trying to catch the people breaking the rules. My suggestion is very light touch. People who are staying within the law are fine and just need to spend 30 seconds registering their property online. There’s no question of denying permission. But for people that are breaking the rules, we have a means of bringing them to justice.”.

City West Homes ‘Nightmare Stories’

We have published a dossier of ’20 nightmare stories’ from City West Homes’, based on the experiences of CWH tenants and leaseholders over the past few months across Westminster. All have been reported to CWH for action and some problems have now been resolved – but only after a Labour Councillor had intervened. This is not the way to run an organisation responsible for 12,500 tenants and 10,000 leaseholders. How many more similar stories of incompetence and neglect go unreported because the tenant or leaseholder has not been able escalate the problem by reporting it to a Labour Councillor? City West Homes is in need of a radical overhaul and Labour is pledged to do this following the May Council elections.

To see the report go to https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/westminster-labour-launches-dossier-of-20-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Please let us know if you are having problems with City West Homes. 

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/

What you say

“Thanks very informative and interesting” 

“Thanks for your excellent and totally invaluable newsletter. Glad to see the Samaritan hospital issue raised again”

“Thank you so much for your help without your intervention this repair would still be outstanding. Once again CWH’s are operating on a daily basis without any regard for residents and have made it impossible for us to engage with any of their personnel.  I no doubt will be contacting you again. Thank you so much for your help. My vote is for Labour!!”