News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville
We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:
“Last week one of the two lampposts in Silver Place was removed. Residents of Silver Place are anxious that it be replaced quickly. As you may know, there have been several break-ins in the last year in the immediate vicinity of this lamppost. Its absence is leaving that end, the western end, of Silver Place alarmingly dark.”
Following our enquiries, Sanctuary Housing has conformed that it will be replacing the broken glass in the doors and replacing the broken lift lights.
Residents have told us of their unhappiness at the closure of another local shop due to a huge rent increase:
“I’ve just come back from Wardour News with this morning’s Guardian and bad news. After 34 years the shop is closing at the end of May because the landlord is asking for a 50% rent increase. I’m both angry and depressed. I don’t know who the landlord is, but 50% is excessively greedy and socially irresponsible. I like going there. There’s a wide variety of newspapers, a dazzling display of glossy magazines, and a friendly staff. It’s part of our Soho neighbourhood and I’ve been happy to buy my newspaper there at full price rather than save a bit with coupons at Tesco.”
“Heartbroken to hear that they are having to close Wardour News due to rent increases in Soho. They opened the shop 34 years ago and he’s been one of the greatest stockists of fashion magazines ever! Truly gutted this has happened to one of the nicest human beings”
Hanson Street – what you say
“City West, they blighted the lives of people living in Hanson Street (where I live) for nearly a year in 2015 because the major repairs took so long. The contractor didn’t have skilled staff, and the quality of the work was appalling. I wrote this article for Fitzrovia news at the time:
I had a meeting with the CEO and he seemed to want to put things right. But to be honest, I have little confidence in the organisation as a whole. Interestingly, scaffolding has just gone back up on one of the City West buildings in Hanson Street that Axis worked on. “
We are supporting parents of children at schools in Portland Place who are concerned about road safety. Parents say:
“There are five schools in Portland Place, many with very small children (L’Ecole International Franco-Anglaise, Abercorn School, Portland Place School, Queen’s College Preparatory School and Southbank School). Road safety on Portland Place is unacceptable.”
Overall safety review and request for Pelican Crossings/Pedestrian Light Sequence at the following locations:
- Portland Place and New Cavendish Street (north side)
- Portland Place Weymouth Street (south side)
- Devonshire Street and Portland Place (south side)
Extension of time for pedestrians on pelican crossing at A501 and Park Crescent
Expanding current 20mph speed limit trials in Marylebone to include Portland Place
Queen Anne Street
Following our enquiries about a broken tree in Queen Anne Street, the Council’s Tree Officer tells us:
“I think we may have to wait until the autumn to replace this tree. It’s actually quite an unusual species of birch and only available from Hiller nurseries. I’ve asked our contractor to try an obtain one but been told that there are none available in the size we need until the autumn.”
Grosvenor Square Gardens
Residents have contacted us to raise concerns about the Grosvenor Estate’s plans for 15 commercial events a year. Residents say:
“Noise from Grosvenor Square Gardens reaches as far as the Brown Hart Gardens area and via Duke Street to Weighhouse Street, as well as going down other streets that actually lead off Grosvenor Square. We know this from when there were demonstrations penned against the hedges of the gardens – the noise arrived in Brown Hart Gardens, Balderton Street, Lumley Street. Demos restricted to the eastern end cause noise problems in Duke Street, Brown Hart Gardens, Weighouse Street.
Grosvenor wants to hold commercial events, 15 per year, which will probably be concentrated in the warmer months. They do not say how many unlicensed events they will hold, or how many non-commercial. Nor do they define ‘commercial’, but in Berkeley Square they hire out to private upmarket parties, causing noise nuisance, traffic problems, and damaging the grass.
Grosvenor Square should be a tranquil green space, not an events venue. Night time lights and noise will cause disturbance to wildlife as well as damaging residential amenity.”
We are working with residents to investigate these issues:
“There are a lot of things that need looking into, for instance enforcement of weight restrictions on roads, vehicle idling, lack of traffic enforcement officers in some areas, bikes being chained to railings posts trees and other places, Oxford Street needs improvements/repairs. These are just a few of many problems facing residents and visitors in Mayfair.”
WEST END WIDE ISSUES
Oxford Street – where we stand
We continue to oppose the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street because residents’ concerns have not been answered by Westminster Council’s leaders, by Transport for London (TfL) nor by the Mayor of London.
Westminster Council are entirely responsible for Oxford Street. The plans could never have got this far in the face of residents’ fears without Conservative Council leaders fully supporting it.
We oppose the plans; they should be paused and all options remain on the table. We believe there has been:
- insufficient information or planning on traffic displacement
- a lack of ideas on how those with limited mobility will continue to enjoy Oxford Street
- uncertainty on safety on Oxford Street at night
- late night visitors to Soho needing buses would have to walk a few blocks north past Oxford Street increasing potential related ASB into Fitzrovia and other wards
- the consultations appear to residents to be rushed and unprofessional. This has made residents fear they were not being listened to
- ideas to improve Oxford Street need to include the whole area to reduce traffic, including how they could enhance life Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Soho and beyond.
Our position has consistently put residents of the West End first. For years of Conservative rule in Westminster residents have not been allowed a voice and the Council has had far too close a relationship with powerful property developers. The Conservatives had years to oppose pedestrianisation and put forward alternatives – and they have done nothing.
We have been listening to residents for over 2 years, having thousands of conversations. We have consistently said we would oppose the plans if residents’ genuine fears about traffic displacement are not addressed; if those with limited mobility are not able to access Oxford Street fully and if ASB is not reduced. We have raised these issue for many months with TfL and the Mayor.
It is now time to pause the scheme and continue to listen to residents. Failure to do so could ruin Oxford Street itself and the 1,000 businesses that are already threatened by out of town shopping malls and crippling rent and business rates.
Rushing could also ruin the wonderful character and lives of many in neighbouring areas of Fitzrovia, Soho and Mayfair who we seek to represent.
Residents want less pollution, cleaner air, less traffic and fewer accidents for the whole area, not just moving traffic around.
We have consistently passed on these concerns to TfL and the Mayor. If elected we will continue to put residents of Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair at the heart of decisions, not the big property developers.
You can see the West End Extra’s report of our pledge at the recent election hustings:
Council Elections – Thursday 3rd May
You can read Andrew Murray’s latest ‘State of Soho’ blogs here:
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.
What you say
“Very, very, very good luck this week”
“I think you guys are doing a great job of connecting with local people and getting your messages across. I’ve lived in Fitzrovia for nearly 10 years and I’ve never felt that local people were being listened to as much.”
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.”
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Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville
West End Ward Labour Action Team
You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at
Promoted by Robin McGhee on behalf of Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville all at 4G Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY