Warwick Ward Labour Action Report - March 2018

News from the Warwick Ward Labour Action Team.

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

Hugh Street/Cambridge Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“I would also like to bring to your attention drug dealing taking place at the corner of Hugh Street and the north end of Cambridge Street. I walk by this corner on my way to Victoria Station each morning and regularly observe a man in his mid to late forties being approached by people. It may be unrelated to the issues expressed by the Hugh Mews residents but it seems unlikely given the proximity.” 

Queen Mother Sports Centre

Following our earlier enquiries about recycling facilities, the Council tells us: 

“Officers are reviewing the arrangements for the temporary recycling bins with the site team at the Queen Mother Sports Centre.  We’re also expecting the planned delivery of the new permanent bins (which will include improved signage) over the next few weeks.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Deputy 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 

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

Rubbish dumping – what you say

“I feel quite strongly about dumping and littering. It beggars belief when you see litter dropped a few metres from a bin. I would support all of your proposals. On the first, it seems to me that the Council ultimately has to collect dumped rubbish anyway, so why not reinstate free pick-ups and encourage some responsibility.”

What you say

“I am in awe of all you manage to do you are just. Brilliant and most appreciated. “

“Many thanks for your work.” 

“Thank you once again for following up. I find it incredible that they’ve contrived to make this so complicated. I will be voting Labour in the local elections.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any matters

Regards