News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg.
We have asked the Council to take action on this recurring problem:
“Its Saturday morning already there is a queue down Ingestre Place with people blocking the pavement and about 20 youths sat on the wall on Ingestre Court earing pizza, Mcdonalds, coffee etc . There has been a queue every single day for the last 8 days. It used to be 1 or 3 days now it is every day. I got a reply from the events and filming team telling me they do not have a license or permission. Its like being under siege. It is illegal to obstruct the pavement but Supreme and Ovo seem to think they are above the law. I have spoken to many neighbours not just in my block but Ingestre Court and Walkers Court. All are against these queues and sick of them.”
1-6 Dufour’s Place
Following our intervention, City West Homes has agreed to compensate residents for the recent loss of heating and hot water.
We have asked the Council to investigate the clutter and rubbish dumping in Meard Street. Residents say:
“The combined effect of the cycle racks, rubbish bins, telecoms boxes, the hoarding and the piles of rubbish deposited by all the surrounding restaurants every evening makes it just about possible to squeeze through in single file!”
“The continued dumping of vast sums of rubbish by the local restaurants is becoming intolerable. It’s unhygienic, a hazard to pedestrians and no doubt will lead to an infestation of rats and other vermin.”
Berwick Street building site
We were pleased that the Council has finally decided to take action to safeguard residents of Kemp House from further noisy building work at the construction site in Berwick Street. The Environmental Health Team say:
“Subjectively the noise from the demolition works is horrendous. I spent around an hour in the vicinity and the demolition works continued virtually unabated for the duration. An increase of around 40 dB due to the demolition works shows just how awful the situation is for the residents. The external levels may well be in breach of the limit levels.
From speaking to the residents they would welcome a later start at 0900hrs and also an additional hour of quiet in the afternoon from 1400 to 1500hrs. In effect, noisy works could only take place at the following times: 0900hrs to 1030hrs; 1130hrs to 1300hrs; 1500hrs to 1730hrs”
Broadwick Street works – update
We have received this update from the Highways Department:
“The works on Broadwick Street are necessitated by the extremely poor condition of the cobbled carriageway between Ingestre Place and the John Snow Pub. We were aware of the existing needs of residents for access in and out of Dufour’s Place and surrounding streets, and we have phased the proposed carriageway works so that we are only working on a portion of the site at any one time. We have also planned our temporary traffic management around the works site to ensure that there is through access for vehicles at all times, particularly emergency services across Broadwick Street carriageway.
When working on the junctions, we will provide well signed diversion routes to direct traffic safely around the works to continue their journeys through Broadwick Street. As we only propose very minimal repaving on the existing footway, during the works, pedestrians and mobility impaired persons will have access along both Broadwick Street footways most times. For the brief periods which the footway in the frontage of John Snow Pub may be restricted, the other side of footway will be fully accessible.”
We have asked the Council to investigate the situation where a local restaurant has been badly affected by rough sleepers on their door step.
“We’ve had a lady sleeping rough next to the restaurant, sometimes there’s more than one person. They smoke crack, litter everyday and pee by both the door to the flat and the restaurant door, which has been awful for business. Furthermore, they are also blocking one of the fire exits for the Curzon cinema, where most of the staff exit from.”
The Pillars of Hercules – Update
It appears that “The Pillars of Hercules’ pub in Greek Street will not, after all, be closing. Earlier, according to the ‘Evening Standard’, we were told:
“The Soho pub, which has entertained generations of boozers since the 1730s, shut its doors this weekend, and with it went a slice of literary London. There are claims that it is name-checked in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, although we haven’t been able to find the mention, but Clive James did name his second book of criticism after the pub.
Writers who have flocked to its bar include Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens and Atonement author Ian McEwan. “During the Seventies almost every writer in London must have had a drink in the Pillars”, McEwan told us yesterday. “Its literary moment passed long ago but I’m sad to see it go.”
The whole pocket of Soho is something of a building site as Soho Estates develops Ilona Rose House behind the pub but the building is not part of the development. One Twitter user pointed out that the pub’s lease has been sold — will there be a second chance or is coping with London’s developers one labour too far for the iconic pub?”
We will keep you updated on news of the re-opening.
Great Pulteney Street
We have asked for action to be taken here:
“Street cleaning in Soho is not very good, at times it is very bad. The problem is particularly bad on Great Pulteney Street, all too often. Sometimes there is rubbish everywhere.”
The Council say:
“Great Pulteney Street has two refuse collections daily at 10:00 and 02:00, and a daily recycling collection at 10:00. The street is swept once a day. The vast majority of residents and businesses abide by the collection times, but waste found outside the collection times – or unpaid from a commercial premises – are enforced against by the teams of City Inspectors covering the area. In the previous 12 months, 15 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Great Pulteney Street, 16 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Beak Street, and 67 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Brewer Street. Hopefully this also demonstrates our commitment to enforcement against non-compliance.”
We have asked the refuse collection team to investigate this issue:
“I pass rubbish twice a day around a post in Bateman Street, opposite Pix. I am sure that there are many who drop their rubbish here, but have seen people from Pix and the adjoining premises take their rubbish across the road to leave at this spot. I have lived here for over ten years and have rarely seen this spot without post without rubbish around it.”
Supporting small businesses
In response to a call from Kemp House Residents’ Association for a statement of support for local small businesses, we have released this statement:
“We write to express our support for local businesses in Berwick Street, Peter Street and Walker’s Court. A toxic combination of factors including exorbitant business rates and havoc as a result of building works have driven many to despair. We’ve seen the closure of 30 shops, and those that survive do so in the most strenuous circumstances.
It is time for change. It is time for Westminster City Council and all organisations whose actions will impact the future of local Berwick Street businesses – the Valuations Office Agency, Shaftesbury PLC, Soho Estates – and others to support local businesses moving forward. We would urge these organisations to back calls from the community to provide a statement of support.
Local, independent businesses are the beating heart of Berwick Street and Soho more broadly. Their prosperity is indeed inextricably linked with that of the Berwick Street community. They must be supported.
If we are elected on 3rd May we pledge to work closely with Berwick Street small businesses and market traders to ensure their long term success. “
The Berwick Street Traders Association replied:
“Thank you for your support – It couldn’t come at a more critical time for all of us. It’s also good to know that there are people out there who recognise the situation for what it is… and understand the value of community.”
Gritting – what you say
“Given how much notice of this weather everybody has had, don’t you find it appalling that none of the small streets in Soho have been gritted? I had to go to my doctor at the Health Centre on Tuesday and thought I was going to break a leg, skidding and struggling to get home. A friend who lives in a Soho Housing property in St. Anne’s Court told me that Soho Housing has gritted the courtyard around which their flats are centred, but St. Anne’s Court had been left a skating rink by the Council.”
Foley Street area
We have asked the Council to send Marshals to the Foley Street area to investigate regular ‘engine idling’ in the area:
“I walk a lot in Fitzrovia/Soho and every day I see drivers sitting with their engines idling. Westminster Council makes big claims for its #dontbeidle campaign but personally I have never seen any ‘marshals’ in my area.
To a large extent it is predictable where the idling engine crowd will be – near constructions sites and – yes – the BBC side entrance! For example, the Kier development in Foley Street has for months attracted subcontractors who arrive in the morning about 0700 and sit with their engines running. Seems to me that if Kier spoke to the sub-contractors this would have a more immediate impact than whatever it is the (so far invisible to me) marshals do.”
The Council say:
“With regards to the BBC in Langham Street, we have already held two air quality road shows and one air quality action day, targeting engine idling at this specific location. In addition to this we have also engaged directly with the BBC and their transport section, to ensure that the engine idling message is going out to all their vehicle users. “
Residents have updated us on the latest situation and we have asked the Council to investigate:
- Gosfield Street – rubbish is better – though not perfect – the problems now are really outside businesses who have a non-council rubbish collection – and when their service isn’t as regular/coordinated as the council, then other people just add their bags to the business pile – which no-one then takes away. Has there been any work with business rubbish collection please e.g. coordinating it as in Bond Street? This would reduce the polluting trucks too.
- And we don’t seem to have the street sweepers working along the pavements any more? I kick the large pieces into the road when I come home so they can be picked up by the little buggy, since the pavements don’t seem to be swept.
- Langham Street – no-one seems to remove the piles, which just get bigger. Why don’t the Council collection at least clear this every morning?
The Council say:
“Inspectors have recently replaced Don’t Dump signage at the junction of Langham with Gosfield and regular patrols take place to find evidence of people dumping outside of collection times so that appropriate education and enforcement can be carried out. Following your email, I have arranged for increased monitoring this weekend, and will continue to ensure the area is targeted for enforcement going forward.”
We are working closely with residents to try and resolve a ongoing problem with anti-social behavior.
We have asked Peabody to repair the front door of one of their properties in Ogle Street.
New Cavendish Street
We have asked City West Homes to fix a broken door in Coryton House.
We have also reported dumped rubbish in New Cavendish Street.
We have asked the Council to fix the drains outside 29 Langham Street where a large pool of water gathers after it has been raining.
We have asked Sanctuary Housing to fix the damp problems in a flat in St George’s Buildings.
We have contacted Peabody on behalf of residents of Moore Flats who say the recently fitted new doors and windows are letting in draughts.
We also reported water cascading in to the basement of 3 Moore Flats from a broken pipe and flooding the basement area.
We have asked the Planning Department to let us know the current planning situation at 1 Duke’s Yard where construction work has been ongoing for 3 years, much to the concern of local residents. The Planners say:
“This has been on site for 4-5 years and is one of the longest running building projects I have ever come across. I think works keep stalling and then resurging. The owner keeps making changes (generally minor) to the original scheme.”
Down Street Station
You might find this fascinating story about Down Street Station of interest http://knowledgeoflondon.com/downstreetstation.html
WEST END WIDE ISSUES
Dave Hill’s ‘OnLondon’ view of the West End electoral battle
For Dave Hill’s latest article looking forward to the May 3rd Council Elections see http://www.onlondon.co.uk/borough-elections-2018-tory-wobbles-in-westminster-west-end/
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.
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, a transport system 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.
If you have any issues you would like us to take up please us know.
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.
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 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
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