News from your Westminster Labour Councillors
We are living in very difficult times and we are doing all we can to help the local community and individual residents and their families.
Over the last month residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on https://www.westminsterlabour.org.uk
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
NEWS AND ACTION
Grosvenor Road/Chelsea Bridge
We have asked TfL to review the current arrangements along Grosvenor Road after residents told us:
“The no left turn off Grosvenor Road onto Chelsea Bridge has resulted in huge queues of vehicles on Grosvenor Road and forces traffic through residential areas of Pimlico in order to approach Chelsea Bridge from the north. Surely a phased traffic light could be installed which gives cycles a turn and then traffic.”
TfL has told us the following:
“We are shortly due to begin some safety-critical waterproofing work on Vauxhall Bridge. We have undertaken some further traffic management planning which means that traffic diversion will work in a slightly different way to that originally communicated to local residents and stakeholders.
All southbound general traffic, private vehicles and private hire vehicles will now be directed via Grosvenor Road, Chelsea Bridge and Nine Elms Lane. We will be reinstating the recently banned left turn for motor vehicles from Grosvenor Road onto Chelsea Bridge by installing temporary traffic lights. They will operate a phase for cyclists to ensure that westbound cyclists have enough time to safely manoeuvre ahead to Chelsea Embankment and left onto Chelsea Bridge.
As a result of the additional planning work we have undertaken, we will now start the Vauxhall Bridge work a week later (at 20:00 on Sunday 9 August 2020) than originally communicated to local residents and stakeholders. The work is due to be completed by the end of November 2020. More information about the weatherproofing work and travel advice is available on our website at tfl.gov.uk/vauxhall-bridge.”
We will continue to monitor this situation over the coming months.
We have asked the Council to remove the plastic rubbish dumped by the Thames riverside at Grosvenor Bridge.
Walden House and Cundy Street Flats
Churchill Ward Councillors Shamim Talukder and Andrea Mann have welcome the creation of new social housing in the Cundy Street Quarter development and the right to return to the new scheme which has been offered to Walden House residents, whose homes face demolition.
“However, we would like it noted that we regret the break-up of the long-standing community at Cundy Street Flats as a result of the current plans, and we request that Grosvenor directly factors these tenants into its plans for the new development. This is because, unlike the residents of Walden House, Grosvenor’s Cundy Street Flats tenants have not been offered a right to return to, or even first refusal on, any of the new housing being built on the site of their current properties. We believe that a commitment from Grosvenor to offer this – a specific solution for those tenants for whom Cundy Street Flats is their only home and who wish to return to the new development.”
The Westbrook proposals for Dolphin Square were discussed by the Planning Applications Sub-Committee on 4th August. Planning Officers were seeking clarification regarding the Committee’s rejection of the application in July 2019 due to the upcoming appeal. Planning Officers were seeking an answer to the question ‘Does the Committee agree with officers that the demolition of the amenity block to the rear of Rodney House and this part of the gardens would be harmful to Dolphin Square Gardens (a Grade II Registered Park and Garden) and to the Dolphin Square Conservation Area?’
After a short debate, the Committee reaffirmed their opposition to the Westbrook scheme and unanimously agreed with the Planning officers.
St George’s Square
Following our enquiries, the table tennis tables have been returned to St George’s Square by the Parks Team and the “Friends of St George’s Square” residents group are working on the bird table to see if it can be repaired otherwise it’ll be replaced.
We have asked the Housing Department to investigate residents’ concerns about regular and growing drug dealing on the estate.
We are continuing to press Sanctuary Housing to take action to deal with the mice and bug infestation at a property in Denbigh Street. We have also asked Environmental Health to inspect the property.
We are assisting residents in Westminster Palace Gardens who wish to request the Council to widen the pavement outside their building on Artillery Row.
Vincent Square area – helicopter noise
We are making enquiries about this issue:
“There has been an eruption of complaints on NextDoor about the noise of the helicopters hovering over our area. There are lots of theories and information from local residents and from across the river. Whatever the cause, it is not fair on working people – sometimes it’s at 3am – or the elderly or retired folk or children”
Vic Keegan writes about St Margaret’s Church, “located at the heart of a major visitor site, this remarkable church goes largely unnoticed”
Vic Keegan looks at the 10th-century origins of Scotland Yard
St James’s Park
Vic Keegan writes about the cows of St James’ Park
Marylebone House, 129-137 Marylebone Road
Beltane Asset Management has bought Marylebone House (the old BHS building) and are planning to extend and refurbish the building. You can see the plans and make comments via their website Marylebone House: Home. Comments can be submitted until Wednesday 2nd September.
Star Street/Edgware Road
We have taken up this issue with the Council;
“There is a building on the junction of Edgware Road and Star street – Cambridge Court. This building consisting of 56 flats has been completely covered by scaffolding and blue coloured webbing for 4 and a half years! Despite the residents nearby trying to get something done -we cannot get anywhere. Now I understand the contractors have gone into liquidation. It is causing dirt, disruption, loss of business to small businesses nearby, noise etc. I have approached Westminster Councillors various times but nothing ever gets done.”
Saving the West End
We have called on the City Council to mount a high-profile advertising campaign to encourage families from across the UK to visit the West End for a holiday, to shop and to enjoy the very many attractions that the West End and the rest of central London have to offer in a safe and socially-distanced manner.
We say the Council should work closely with hotel groups, restaurants, pub and bar owners and landlords to offer a ‘great fun day out/weekend away/staycation holiday’ for families in London, the South East and the rest of the UK. Railway companies should be asked to introduce special deals for families travelling to London and West End hotels encouraged to offer attractive rates to visitors, too.
Parties at Airbnb premises
There have been a number of parties in flats let out as short lets. These are in part the result of the declining use of Airbnbs by tourists which have in turn been rented out by people hosting parties. A number of residents have experienced massive disruption as a result and it’s unacceptable. We’ve been working with residents, the police and the Council to try to stop them from happening.As soon as parties begin it’s crucial to both contact the Council’s Noise Team and the police so they can turn up to break up the party. Both need to be there to intervene effectively and preferably they should be called out as soon as possible (if they are called out late in the night it’s more difficult to deploy resources).
- Contact the Council’s noise team: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it or 0207 641 2000
- Contact the police on 101 or tag them on twitter on @MetCC
Berwick Street Market Traders
The Council is refusing to revisit its decision to increase the fees that market traders on Berwick Street and across Westminster pay, despite the enormous downfall in customer footfall. We are continuing to lobby the Council to reverse this decision. Market traders say:
“No shift in Westminster position on imposing back-dated pitch fees and rises on traders. Other major landlords have zeroed rents. There are no revenues while offices and hotels remain empty. It’s “a decision” to heap devastation on traders. We approach Wits End”
Residents have written to us about the following:
“I wish to make you aware of the difficult conditions imposed upon us by
the refurbishments in the adjoining buildings, carried out for Great
Portland Estates. For six months we have had to endure daily noise levels of unacceptable proportions. Complaints to the council have not been of any use as they are apparently operation within council restrictions.”
We are supporting residents and liaising with the Council’s Neighbourhood Team to ask that noise is minimised.
Councillor Pancho Lewis is supporting residents who are calling for more controls over the numbers of people ‘vertical drinking’ in Soho on Friday and Saturday nights. Residents say the noise and concern about the pandemic spreading is making them very concerned. Labour West End Councillor Pancho Lewis wants a rethink as hundreds of people are gathering in Old Compton Street on Friday and Saturday nights to get together with their friends. Residents have commented:
“Last night felt like “old school” Soho in the midst of the pandemic. Any notion of following the “rules” set out for reopening bars and restaurants seemed to have been completely forgotten in the space of a couple of weeks. Where’s the monitoring by the owners/council/police?”
“We need to get control of this to avoid heading for a second lockdown, keep guideline-abiding businesses open, visitors served, and support residents – tricky but does happen during the day.”
“Last night up to 5am was ugly – groups of ‘youths’ running up and down the streets – throwing chairs – fighting – large groups out drinking”
We have been pressing the Council hard to tackle issues when they’ve appeared. It’s imperative the Council’s neighbourhood team and City Inspectors remain ultra-vigilant.
Fitzrovia Air Quality
We have started a petition calling on the Council to improve air quality:
“Lockdown has led to a dramatic improvement in air quality in Fitzrovia
and the West End. Westminster Council has a unique opportunity to build on this and avoid toxic air quality returning to our streets. Measures should be brought forward to prevent rat-running through residential streets. Other measures like greening streets, widening pavements, among others also need to be looked at. We call on the Council to engage with local people and hear our views about how to make these improvements.”
You can sign here https://www.westminsterlabour.org.uk/uncategorised/2020/06/18/petition-to-westminster-council-on-behalf-of-fitzrovia-residents/?fbclid=IwAR0U0lMTi40LHcUQmEi8i95DIkhu6z1fF8i55YLdwWSJWTrpJWFD8uWLyaY
Hanover Flats, Gilbert Street – new security fence to be installed
Residents have raised these concerns:
“As you may know we are a kindly community of residents looking out for each other in these difficult times. Our courtyard gardens have become a haven of wildlife, plants and sitting areas where we can meet each other and have chats and even socially distanced tea parties…young and old mixing. I would implore you to push our case for security gates which even if they are low would deter any casual passer-by. Why are we the only block on the estate without them? if they had been installed when requested we would not be in this position now.”
We raised the issue with Peabody and they have replied with the following:
“Hanover is going to get a security gate, unfortunately out investment program has been delayed a bit recently due to COVID. We should have more details for residents over the next few weeks and we will keep you updated.”
Mount Street Gardens
We have asked the Parks Team to investigate one of the trees in Mount Street Gardens which appears to need pruning or replacing.
Councillor Pancho Lewis has started a petition calling for action to clamp down on pedicabs
You can sign the petition calling on the Government to keeps its promise to regulate and control pedicabs here: https://bit.ly/petition-pedicabs
You can support your local pubs, restaurants and pubs that have re-opened by visiting them. Remember to book ahead and follow the safety measures the businesses have put in place. The government have also launched the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. You can get 50% off your food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a total value of £10 per person if you eat or drink in, and support the hospitality industry at the same time. Find your local Eat Out to Help Out businesses
Summer Activities for Young People
The Young Westminster Foundation has organised summer activities for young people within the programme in the following link, which will be updated weekly: http://www.ywfoundation.com/2020/07/20/whats-young-people-westminster-summer/
Children’s Art and Poetry Competition
The Westminster Faith Exchange, a long-standing initiative to facilitate and encourage dialogue between the council and the different faith communities, has announced a Children’s Art and Poetry Competition. In this exceptional year, children are invited to send their artwork or a poem which fits the theme ‘Covid-19, Lockdown and My Faith’. The competition is open to children and young people of all faiths, entry is free and there are prizes to be won. Entries must be submitted by Friday 21 August. For more information and to submit your entry, click here.
Voting by post
Voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting. You can use this form to apply to vote
You can email your completed form to email@example.com or post it to Electoral Services, Westminster City Council, 14th Floor City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP.
You can now read the ‘Westminster Extra’ online
Refuse collection and Recycling collection times
Recycling bags can be ordered from https://webforms.westminster.gov.uk/order-recycling-bags/
Bags will be delivered within approximately 48 hours of order.
You can check when refuse and recycling is collected from your street here http://transact.westminster.gov.uk/env/streetsearch.aspx
The doorstep recycling service concentrates on the recyclable materials most commonly produced by houses so that these can be easily separated into the different material types. The link below summarises what can be put in recycling bags
Lots of other materials can be recycled but not through the doorstep collection service. The A-Z list below gives details of what and where items can be recycled or re-used:
Also, here are details of 9 companies that reward you for donating unwanted things, from H&M to M&S https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/g15049323/brands-reward-throwing-things-away/
Report dumped rubbish, broken pavements, defective street lights and more on the Report It service. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
Register here https://www.fixmystreet.com/alert for alerts of everything reported in your area (just use your postcode and it will offer you options).
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
For the latest information, visit the following:
Westminster Council’s advice and response website:
Westminster Connects COVID-19 phone line – 020 7641 1222
Beware the Coronavirus scammers
Help for small businesses
For details of how small businesses can get access to Government financial assistance.
What you say
“I always read with interest your emails about Westminster and the action you take”
“Thanks for all your hard work”
“I am so very grateful for the action taken by Labour in light of the appalling situation in Soho on Saturday and indeed over the weekend.”
“I am so glad of and grateful for all the hard work being done by the Labour Team to try and get WCC to show some sense about the appalling situation which has descended upon Soho without any opportunity for the residents to object.”
“I can assure you we would not have reached this point without your initial spadework!”
“Thank you for your tireless spade work to get various Council individuals and agencies in motion to protect the health of a vulnerable neighbour. Your efforts will not only assist her in adopting a healthier lifestyle but will potentially spare her (and the NHS!) the anguish and expense of needless after care. Much appreciated!”
“Many thanks for your assistance on this it really is appreciated and things really are starting to move now and Mr A is finally getting the assistance needed.”
“I want to thank you so much for all you are doing, it really is appreciated”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues. Just drop me an email.
Please feel free to pass this report to your neighbours.
Please keep safe, stay well and look after yourself and your neighbours.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour City Management Spokesperson
Westminster City Council
Here’s how to contact Labour Councillors for Churchill and West End wards:
Churchill Ward – For full details of ways to contact Councillor Andrea Mann and Councillor Shamim Talukder, please see the Churchill Labour website
West End Ward – You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone.