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
We are working with residents from Shelley House, Darwin House, the terrace on Grosvenor Road (adjacent to Churchill Gardens) and other blocks nearby who have been engaging with Westminster City Council for many months to share their views and try to shape the Council’s proposals to replace the Balmoral Castle and Darwin House on the Churchill Gardens estate with new housing https://www.westminster.gov.uk/balmoral-castle-and-darwin-house-new-homes
“For the most part, as a group we are in favour of the replacement housing but concerns remain about the scale, volume and impact of the buildings as currently proposed, as well as the impact on the surrounding landscaping which as you know is also listed and protected”
Ebury Bridge Estate
We are supporting residents who have raised concerns about the Council’s redevelopment plans. Residents say:
“I am in no way opposed to the regeneration of the site, as both a long-term resident of Cheylesmore House and a member of the local community. I would love to see a community and sense of place restored here, after several years of so little done for the purpose of restoring the community.
Westminster through its years of inaction and uncertainty has left an estate with very little residents. Although the number of objections may seem low in comparison to other projects of this size, is that the majority of residents living on the estate have been moved out and opposite is the Chelsea Barracks building site.”
Following our enquiries about illegal parking by Tesco delivery lorries, we have received the following update from the Parking Team and will be a close eye on the situation:
“Following your initial enquiries, a Marshal visited the store and spoke with the manager who gave further assurances that this would not happen again.The Marshals will continue to monitor the location but there can often be no set pattern to deliveries, and these can arrive unannounced.”
We have asked the Market Inspectors to re-inspect the Farmers Market at Orange Square after reports from residents about blocked pavements, vans and cars on parking on zebra crossing zig zag lines, double yellow lines, single yellow lines, early morning noise and “residents trapped inside flats by unmanaged queues every Saturday morning since April 2020”.
Traffic on Ebury Bridge Road/Chelsea Bridge Road
We have contacted TfL about this issue of concern to many residents:
“The traffic is bumper to bumper all day but from 4pm it comes to an almost standstill and then the beeping starts, long beeps, continuously until 8-9pm, it’s horrendous and it is non-stop”
Chelsea Bridge Road
We have gain raised the issue of locating an extra bus stop on Chelsea Bridge Road with TfL:
“With Vauxhall Bridge, as well as Hammersmith Bridge, both closed the traffic is most days almost on a standstill. Busses pile up and I counted yesterday 9 buses between Pimlico Road and Chelsea Bridge Road. I believe now is the time to introduce that additional bus stop to at least elevate a little bit of traffic”
We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:
“I would like to raise an issue regarding the westbound dedicated cycle lane along Victoria Street. This arrived during lockdown in order to make more space for cyclists, something I am normally in favour of. However, I travel along Victoria Street on a regular basis (I am a bus driver) and can say with absolute certainty that this cycle lane is rarely used by cyclists. Since all traffic, including buses are confined to one lane during peak hours, regular tailbacks occur as a result. I would personally recommend that this lane should be changed to a bus and cycle lane, and so preventing delays to the bus service”
We continue to be contacted by Sanctuary Housing tenants about the mismanagement of their flats and the failure to do essential repairs, upkeep and maintenance. We have called on the City Council to mount a full investigation of Sanctuary properties in the Pimlico area and to take all the necessary action to require Sanctuary to do outstanding repairs.
Support for the hospitality industry
The weeks and months ahead will be incredibly challenging for hospitality businesses, and indeed businesses in many other sectors. We therefore have backed measures to support hospitality businesses into the winter months (after the coming lockdown) – including measures to allow for low-carbon outdoor heaters and widened pavements. You can read our statement on the support that is needed
Support for West End residents, too
West End residents tell us that the increase in ‘al fresco’ dining is not all good news and point to the following issues;
“Increase in street noise: People sitting drinking and talking and laughing in the street is great fun when you are one of those people, but when you are working from your flat above the restaurant and the outdoor dining, on a Zoom call, or trying to watch TV or have a meal with your family and the constant noise from the streets invades your flat, like many residents in Berwick, D’Arblay, Frith, Dean, Old Compton Street. it is hugely disruptive to having a good quality of life.
Commercialisation of the public space. If you are going to charge businesses to use our public streets, our public highway, our access and our rights of way – then us residents need to feel the benefit.
Increase in anti-social behaviour. With large groups of drinkers congregating in the streets after 10pm. They sit in doorways, on pavements, they urinate and sometimes defecate behind our cars as WCC provided NO street toilets, expecting venues to provide them. Fine until closing time, then on to our streets the people go. The police don’t have the capacity to move them on. It is noisy and we find broken beer bottles and worse outside our door in the morning.
Anti-social noise/access issues from delivery vehicles. Some of these streets were closed from midday-11pm at weekends meaning that delivery vehicles are forced to deliver in a very small window in the morning. So instead, many delivered during the night time – between midnight and 7am. It is completely unreasonable to expect residents to have daytime noise, evening noise and then also night time noise – we need to have a window of time to sleep.”
The comments above highlight the importance of the Council genuinely listening to and engaging with the concerns of local people. Unfortunately, the Council so far seems unwilling to listen to what residents say.
West End jobs
Arts jobs in the West End could plummet by 95% in the next four years, in a worst-case scenario in which central London is subject to repeated lockdowns and the sector is not supported, a report from the Heart of London Business Alliance has warned.
John Lewis, Oxford Street
The Council has approved a planning application from the John Lewis Partnership for the dual/alternative use of part sub-basement, part ground and third to eighth floors for either retail use and/or for office purposes. The offices would be accessed via a new entrance at the corner of Holles Street and Cavendish Square. Planning Officers recommended approval saying that there are exceptional circumstances to justify the loss of retail floorspace and that the external alterations were acceptable in design terms.
Though some concerns were raised about the message that this sends to other retailers, the Planning Committee concluded this would ensure the continued existence of John Lewis on Oxford Street and approved the application unanimously.
Marshall Street Leisure Centre
Westminster Council has taken the decision to severely limit the hours of operation of Marshall Street Leisure Centre from 1st November to only 3 hours a day between noon and 3pm. In addition, the pool will be closed. There is more information here: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/leisure-centres-westminster. Councillor Pancho Lewis has written to the Council to object:
“We are writing to object to the decision to severely restrict access to Marshall Street Leisure Centre. It’s unacceptable that opening hours have been reduced so that the gym will be open only 3 hours a day and that, on top of that, the pool is to be closed.
Marshall Street is by far the worst affected leisure centre, leaving residents in Soho and the surrounding area with extremely limited access to their local gym. Local people are being penalised and this is totally unfair.
Coronavirus is an incredibly difficult time for all of us. Exercise is an important way of maintaining physical health but also mental well-being. Please reconsider this decision and ensure that the leisure centre remains open as per current arrangements and that access to the pool is maintained.”
Cartoon Museum, Wells Street
Fitzrovia’s Cartoon Museum in Wells Street has caught the spirit of the times with a very topical exhibition: Hail to the Chief!? It features caricature portraits by award winning political cartoonist Martin Rowson, and pen portraits by Andrew Gimson, author of The Rise of Boris Johnson.
Hail to the Chief!? Brief Lives of America’s Best and Worst Presidents. The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3PT runs to 31 December 2020. Entry included in general admission ticket. Open Thursday 11:00–20:00, Friday – Sunday 11:00–16:00.
The Crown Estate has unveiled plans for Regent Streetwhich will introduce:
- Additional space for pedestrians
- Roads reduced to a single vehicle lane in each direction
- Cycle lanes and cycle parking hubs and stands
- Enhanced bus stop areas
- New seating areas
- Tree planting and greenery
Construction has commenced on the new designs and the work is set to complete before Christmas.
We have asked the Refuse Team to take action against those responsible for the regular rubbish dumping in Hay’s Mews.
We have also asked the Refuse Team to take action against those responsible for the regular rubbish dumping in Reeves Mews. Residents say:
“We believe this is due to the fact that owners and/or management companies that control some of the flats in Reeves Mews are using several flats for short-term lets for longer than the 90 days limit. Hence, the people that rent those apartments are often tourists who have no idea about the local regulations and rules and usually dump all their rubbish without proper bags (usually using shopping bags from Selfridges, etc.), which then usually end up scattered all over the street.”
We have contacted the Council and asked that action be taken to resolve this long-standing issue:
“I live on Dorset Square and an issue that was meant to be resolved but hasn’t is that the coaches that stop outside Dorset Square play a very loud recorded sound when they stop and this happens throughout the night and in the early morning. The two sounds are linked to the indicator (“This vehicle is turning left”… even though it’s stationary) and the other linked to the luggage hold when the door opens. The main coach operator is National Express. Surely, they can disable the sound at night? Or a simple solution is that rather than use the left indicator they can use the hazard lights?”
The Highways Team say:
“A left indicator audible warning that is specified to warn any following cyclists to hold back if the vehicle is undertaking a left turn – stating ‘Caution vehicle turning left’. For the Dorset Square Bus Stop, TfL had an agreement with National Express to instruct its drivers to not keep the left indicator on when the coach is stopped at the bus stop. We will ask TfL to renew this instruction”
“A side locker door audible warning that activates every time the locker doors open or close. TfL and National Express had previously carefully considered a request to enable the driver to disable this safety feature. But careful consideration of this demand concluded that it would be unwise due to wider safety concerns for those placing luggage in the lockers or other pedestrians on the footway. This position was supported by the City Council on balance of the pros and cons”
Seymour Leisure Centre
Residents have contacted us following the Council’s decision to close the Seymour Leisure Centre in the mornings. Residents say:
“A group of us are members of an Over 50’s Aqua Class on Tuesday 10.30am & Thursday 11.30am. The classes are very important to many of us in the group and our Mental Health. Lots of the group live on the own including me”
“Seymour has the highest proportion of older people using the pool. Many older people cannot practice other forms of cardio exercise due to joint issues, and swimming may be our only way to get a good workout. This is particularly important now when it is known that exercise boosts the immune system for older people in particular, and when overweight people are at higher risk of Covid complications. In addition, exercise has a huge positive impact on mental health.”
We are trying to persuade the Council to reverse their decision here and at other Leisure Centres where the hours of opening have been cut.
414 Bus Route
TfL is proposing to change route 414 so that it terminates at Marble Arch instead of Maida Hill. TfL say:
“We are proposing this change as there is significant extra bus capacity between Marble Arch and Maida Hill. Route 6 duplicates the section of route 414 between Marble Arch and Maida Hill. The frequency of routes 414 and 6 is a bus every 7-8 minutes. At the busiest point of the routes, Edgware Road, eight buses per hour are required to meet the current passenger demand. We are providing 15 currently. The number of passengers does not warrant this number of buses. For the number of people traveling through the area only buses every 7-8 minutes are required. Route 6 already runs with buses every 7-8 minutes. All current journeys taken by passengers on route 414 can be completed by changing buses to route 6.”
TfL would like to know what impact the proposed changes may have on your journey. Please complete the online survey below by Friday 20 November 2020.
You can also email TfL at: email@example.com write to TfL at FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS (Ref: Route 414 changes)
The NHS Blood and Transplant service is appealing for donations from people who have recovered from coronavirus to help save lives as London moves from “medium” to “high” alert. Donating blood plasma is a simple procedure and very similar to giving a normal blood donation but the red blood cells are returned to the patient and the process takes a little longer.
The nearest donor centre is at 26 Margaret Street, Fitzrovia. W1. Anyone who has had coronavirus, either a test result or the symptoms, can offer to donate by calling 0300 123 23 23 or visitinghttps://www.nhsbt.nhs.ukto arrange an appointment to donate.
Warm Homes Discount Scheme
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2020 to 2021 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The Warm Home Discount Scheme for winter 2020 to 2021 will open on 12 October 2020. The money is a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March. See here for more details https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
Jobs and Skills
Microsoft and LinkedIn have produced a free programme to help those looking for a job and learn new skills
If you’re between 18-24 and looking at building a new skill that is in high demand, Westminster Wheels offers a paid six-month programme in cycle mechanics. By joining the project, you will be able to (1) learn how to refurbish unwanted bikes and provide affordable high-quality bikes for Westminster residentsand (2) get a training and employment experience to help prepare you for a career in the growing cycle industry.
‘Early Voting’ – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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/
You can report dumped rubbish, broken pavements, defective street lights and more on the Report It service. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
You can register here https://www.fixmystreet.com/alert for alerts of everything reported in your area (just use your post code and it will offer you options).
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
Test and Trace Support Payments
You may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if you are self-isolating because of COVID-19 and you are either employed or self-employed. The payment is to support people on low incomes who are unable to work from home if they are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and lose income as a result.Get full details on how to claim a Test and Trace Support Payment
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.
Hyde Park – what you say
“I now visit Hyde Park much more often because it is much safer to do so, t’s quieter, has less motor traffic to be wary of, and the air is so much cleaner. It really is now such a lovely place to visit whether you are walking, cycling or riding a horse. It is wonderful to see the smiles on people’s faces as they enjoy this fantastic plot of greenery in the middle of London.”
“For those of us who enjoyed the parks during lockdown, the closure of the roads at the weekend was absolute bliss – it was so nice to be able to enjoy the park for its intended purpose with the roads serene.”
“I completely support the road closures. Parks became even more important during lockdown and I’m sure many people as well as myself appreciate the benefits of extra peace and quiet and relative fresh air from the closures. The idea that cars should be allowed to go wherever they want is no longer acceptable, so many parts of London are blighted by traffic and people have rightly had enough of it. Parks should rightly be at the top of the list for where vehicles should be banned”
Silver Place – what you say
“Silver Place seems to be going the way of D’Arblay Street. We are told that the offshore owner of the buildings with collapsed vaults is being uncommunicative. As a consequence, works begun have been abandoned unfinished, with large barriers left in place.”
Edgware Road begging – what you say
“We live very near to the Waitrose on Edgware Road. There is now a more or less permanent encampment of Roma outside Barclays Bank by Burwood Place. Local residents are well aware that this is organised begging rather than genuinely homeless people. One problem is that this community regularly relieve themselves in public. We see this on a regular basis outside our house which is just one street away from Edgware Road. Whether the end of the transitional period on the 31st of December 2020 will make any difference remains to be seen! Somehow, I doubt it.”
E-scooters – what you say
“Totally agree with the comment about e-scooters. Add bikes, and (usually Deliveroo) motorbikes to this – also driving recklessly on pavements; expecting pedestrians to jump out of the way. I have never witnessed policemen challenging this behaviour during the ten years’ I have lived in Soho where then problem has got increasingly worse. I was told “I’m not traffic police” by an officer who witnessed me almost being run over. An on the spot fine system would generate revenue and act as a deterrent”
What you say
“Thank you for your great update”
“Thank you for your most interesting and constructive update email concerning the many issues we are all having to cope with. This is so much appreciated.”
“Thanks for the inclusion in your newsletter. Thrilled to get the word out there.”
“Thank you for this excellent newsletter”
“Thank you for the newsletters. Without this I wouldn’t really know what was going on – and what was being achieved – in my neighbourhood. The elected councillors for my ward are distinctly less proactive and forthcoming in information and communications beyond restating their ‘party lines’. Keep up the good in working to maintaining and improving our homes and lives- it is greatly appreciated!”
“Once again, an informative newsletter”
“As always, very interesting and informative. You really have your finger on the local pulse.”
“Many thanks for the comprehensive and informative email – an enjoyable read as always”
“Your emails are very informative – thanks!”
“Thank you so much, as ever, for what you’re doing. So, happy to hear of those moves you’ve made in Lupus Street”
“I read with my usual deep gratitude and appreciation the latest packed Newsletter, giving details of all your endeavours to help on so many issues. We are all so lucky to have you”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Please keep safe, stay well and look after yourself and your neighbours.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour City Management spokesperson
Westminster City Council
Labour Councillors can be contacted as follows
Churchill Ward – For full details of ways to contact Councillor Andrea Mann and Councillor Shamim Talukder, please see the Churchill Labour website
You can read Andrea and Shamim’s latest news here
West End Ward – You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone