News from your Westminster Labour Councillors
NEWS AND ACTION
Churchill Ward by-election
Labour’s Liza Begum won the Westminster Council by-election in Churchill ward held on 6th May with an increased majority of 324 votes. The result was
- Liza Begum, Labour: 1,340
- Conservative: 1,016
- Liberal Democrat: 295
- Green Party: 186
Darwin House and the Balmoral Castle redevelopment plans
Councillors Liza Begum and Shamim Talukder have written the following letter to the Planning Department:
“Churchill Gardens Estate is a conservation area with grade II listed landscaping as awarded by Historic England, so it is important that the Council gets the scheme right. We are concerned that the current design of the development is not in keeping with the design of the estate and would result in a major loss of privacy and light to residents living in the surrounding blocks, particularly for those in Maitland House, Shelley House and the riverside Georgian villas on Grosvenor Road, with the latter two being listed structures. Further efforts must be taken to reduce the impact of any development on these residents.
Phase 2 of the current redevelopment proposes a block of 18 units of intermediate housing with no plans for any general needs social housing. Given the housing pressures in Churchill Gardens, including serious overcrowding and long-standing residents being pushed into temporary housing, as well as a Westminster wide housing waiting list of over 4,000, we believe that this scheme should provide new social housing (with a local lettings policy) to address this problem.
We support the need for new homes for Darwin House residents but believe that any proposed plans should meet the needs of the existing community.”
The letter also raises concerns about construction traffic, noise and increased parking pressure.
Sanctuary Housing properties in Pimlico
We have again had to write to Sanctuary Housing about the appalling way in which they mismanage their properties in Pimlico – in Denbigh Street, Denbigh Place, Cambridge Street and St George’s Drive. We are very angry at the state of many properties, the lack of proper stewardship of the estate and the way that this is affecting some very vulnerable people. We have also asked the Council’s Environmental Health Team to investigate the state of some of the Sanctuary flats.
We are continuing to help residents in Longleat House with long-outstanding repairs to their flat.
We have asked the Housing Department to investigate the situation in Stourhead House where leaseholders report the following:
“There are still drains which have not been opened or cleaned for years. Water drainage under paving stones on walkways is so bad that it squelches under foot after the slightest rain shower. I have just informed Housing by email that all four wall-lights on the 1st floor of the stairwell are defect and the area is in darkness. To be frank, I have not noticed any improvement in maintenance since CityWest was replaced by Westminster Housing.”
We have asked the Environmental Health Team to investigate the continued early morning deliveries and collections from the Blue Cross Animal Hospital. Residents say:
“This morning we were once again woken up by the noise of van doors slamming and the rattling of a trolley at 6.11am. We find it very insulting that our requests for the Blue Cross to be considerate of residents are ignored”
We have asked the organisers of the Trafalgar Square ‘Fanzone’ to let us know how refuse and rubbish collection will managed both within the Fanzone and in the surrounding streets and what additional toilet facilities will be provided.
Marshall Street Leisure Centre
Following Councillor Pancho Lewis’ campaign, the Council has reversed its decision to severely cut back on Marshall Street leisure centre’s opening hours to only 3 hours a day. The centre is now open from the early morning (6.30am) until 10pm and 8pm (on weekdays and the weekends respectively). In addition, the swimming pool is also open. Pancho organised an open letter from hundreds of residents which persuaded the Council to change its mind.
Q Park, Poland Street
Residents may have noticed that the wonderful artwork on the left-hand side entrance to the Poland Street car park was painted over with white paint following graffiti being sprayed over it. We raised this issue and are pleased to provide the following update:
“City Highways have looked into what happened at Q Park and they’re confident they can remove the white paint that was painted onto the original artwork with specialist help. Veolia, the ones who did it, are going to be paying for it.”
This has been welcomed on social media.
Shops and restaurants
Shaftesbury Chief Executive Brian Bickell shares his thoughts on the future of retailing and argues that Landlords should take on more risk and do things differently in the wake of Covid-19 to transform “homogenised” high streets.
Pippa Stacey’s complaint and video about not being able to use the pavements in Soho because of al fresco dining is on the BBC website https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-57072498
Councillor Pancho Lewis said, “I’ve also been lobbying the City Inspector team to do more to ensure there is adequate space for wheelchair users, and more generally social distancing rules are maintained.”
We continue to receive correspondence about noisy helicopters and are pressing the police to scale back on the use of helicopters to police events wherever possible. Alternative technologies like drones should be used as a default if surveillance technology is needed.
Great Marlborough Street
A local resident tells us, “It might be of interest since Great Marlborough Street is mentioned that Marlbough cigarettes are so named because they were were first manufactured in Great Marlborough Street.”
In 1846, British tobacconist Phillip Morris opened a shop on Bond Street selling tobacco and rolled cigarettes. After his death in 1873, his brother Leopold and widow Margaret continued the business, growing it and opening a factory on Great Marlborough Street. In 1885, a brand called “Marlborough” was marketed as a “ladies’ favorite” by Philip Morris & Co.
We have again asked the Housing Department to take action against those responsible for regular late-night parties at various flats in Holcroft Court. This anti-social behaviour is very disturbing for many residents, especially those with young children and those who have to get up early for work.
Sue Blundell writes about Roberts Radios which were first made in Fitzrovia
Fitzrovia street names
Jon Temple writes about the changing names of some of Fitzrovia’s streets
Former Debenham’s building, Oxford Street
The owners of the former Debenham’s building have unveiled plans to redevelop the building. You can see the proposals here https://334oxfordstreetconsultation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/334-OS-Exhibition-Boards-FINAL-compressed-2.pdf
We have urged the owners to include cultural uses in the redeveloped building
North Mayfair: Peabody area
Councillor Pancho Lewis is working with residents in the Peabody area to put the concerns of the local community directly to Grosvenor. There are concerns about an increase in Anti-Social Behaviour in the area, loud noise coming from revellers, and insufficient protection for residential amenity through licensing. Grosvenor is putting together a response to the concerns put forward by residents.
Berger House, Farm Street
We are supporting residents who have raised concerns about the demolition of Berger House and the excavation to create two further basements. Residents say:
“This will require a great deal of demolition and pilling which will be very difficult on a small residential street such as Farm Street with a church and a school. The nearby South Audley garage site which is under construction for new residential apartments is chaotic.
Two concrete lorries passed down Farm Street to turn right into the bottom of Farm Street into Hill Street to queue there and join other vehicles to move onto the South Audley site. In all the years living on Farm Street I have never experienced the noise levels that have been created on the South Audley Site and worst of all, the number of polluting lorries waiting to go onto the site.”
Royal Parks toilets
We have contacted The Royal Parks about this issue:
“The toilets inside the Royal Parks (Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Regents Park) have changed access from putting a 20p coin into a slot to open the barrier, to having to put a debit or credit card onto a reader. The problem is that they just do not work, and nobody can get into the toilets. This is a huge nuisance and does need rectifying immediately. I have tried to find a park office, and of course there are never any attendants at the toilets to complain to.”
We have asked the Council why the Paddington Street public toilets are closed and when they will re-open. The Council say, “The toilets will reopen next Thursday, they were closed for repairs to some of the ceiling panels.”
We have again asked the local police and the Street Lighting Team to investigate and take action to resolve the very unsatisfactory situation in Wythburn Mews. Residents say:
“I am terrified of what happens outside my front door and window on a regular basis. Drug deals, with a party commenting about my Ring Video, noise, drunk gatherings, noise, general anti-social behaviour with people knocking off the pigeon wires I was told to install by the police. Practically every night people urinate on my window, window cill, front door, wall etc. To some it appears a game, it is horrible. The noise is frightening. A couple of times I have opened the door and asked people to shhh a little as there is a sleeping child in the room, but I just get insulted, and it is no longer safe to ask people.”
We have asked the Council’s Tree Officers to investigate the loss of trees on Seymour Place following the recent broadband installation works.
We asked the Hyde Park Estate to let us have information on when properties in Portsea Mews will be occupied. All the mews houses in the Mews appear to empty and unoccupied. We received the following response:
“The Commissioners are currently working on feasibility options for the sensitive redevelopment of the Portsea Mews site that will respect the unique heritage of the buildings as a working, commercial mews. We will be looking to bring these forward in due course.”
We hope there is action soon. The local police reported recently, “Following reports of ASB and drug use within the area of Portsea Place, local officers are conducting regular patrols at the location”.
Sussex Mews West
Residents responded to our recent Mews survey by telling us:
“We live very close to the Royal Lancaster hotel and have noticed during the last year the welcome absence of smokers from the hotel coming into our mews. There were no facilities to smoke in the hotel. Groups congregate talking loudly and smoking and it is a horrible atmosphere. The groups are often at functions at the hotel if not staying there.”
We asked The Royal Lancaster Hotel about this and the Manager told us:
“I empathise with residents’ concerns. We will continue to manage these to the best of our ability, as we did before, by having Security placed on the entrance and pointing guests to our hotel smoking area, encouraging them to stay on property and not cross the road into the neighbourhood; unfortunately, as I’m sure you can imagine, we cannot physically prevent any attendees from venturing out, but rest assured we will continue to do our best.”
A 3-month Closure Order is now in place at 35 Albion Gate, W2. The Police say, “Anyone entering or remaining in the premises will be liable for arrest. This Closure Order has been put in place due to persistent anti-social behaviour and breaches of coronavirus regulations at the location.”
Bouverie Place/Star Street/St Michael Street
We have again asked the local police to investigate residents’ reports of crack being used in the Bouverie Place/Star Street/St Michael Street area. Residents say:
“I have witnessed a lot of activity over recent months – people stood in plain sight lighting crack pipes etc as St Michaels Street has turned into a real rat run so to speak – a quiet route along which many drug users/customers/dealers shuttle along. There is also drug taking on the corner of Edna House on corner of Norfolk Square and Norfolk Place. Another resident said he saw someone try every door handle to find an open car. Anti-Social Behaviour appears to have escalated beyond what was bearable.”
Royal Exchange, Sale Place
We’re delighted to hear that the Royal Exchange has re-opened on Wednesdays-Fridays 4pm-11.30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12noon-11.30pm. Monday -Tuesday coming soon. Beer, Cider & Pizza. Follow on Twitter @RoyalExchangeW2
Edgware Road Empty Shops
We have called for action on the growing number of vacant retail/restaurant premises on Edgware Road. The shop and restaurant premises are in a very poor condition, often fly-posted. Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour City Management spokesperson, has written to both Westminster Council and the Marble Arch Business Improvement District (BID) to call for action be taken to work with property owners and landlords to bring these premises back in to use.
We have asked the Council to take action on this issue on Edgware Road where residents say there is “aggressive begging and probably gang or trafficked people begging at traffic lights. It’s the same people for months, like on a rota and well organised. I can’t believe anyone does that by choice. “
Following the recent fire in east London, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg wrote a letter to the ‘Westminster Extra’ calling on the Government to make those responsible for these unsafe buildings pay to fix the problems.
Residents of Sheldon Square who are Network Homes shared owners have contacted us about their situation regarding the installation of air conditioning units. Residents say, “There is a serious issue of overheating in our flats, we have been suffering for years and people were fainting last summer with the out of the ordinary heat we experienced!”. Half the flats are managed by Notting Hill Genesis and half by Network Homes.
We have already been in touch with Notting Hill Genesis who say, “We are hopeful we will be able to cover the majority (if not all) of the costs of the air conditioning, although we need to receive the feasibility report from our consultants before we can confirm this to our residents.”
We have now written to Network Homes to say that we hope that Network, too, will be able to cover the majority (if not all) of the costs.
Montgomery House – parking
We are continuing to press the Council to increase the number of residents’ parking spaces in the area. If parking is a problem for you, please get in touch with us at HydeParkLabourActionTeam@gmail.com
Former Paddington Green Police Station
You can read the latest on the plans for the former Paddington Green Police Station site here https://londonnewsonline.co.uk/new-skyscraper-could-replace-mets-former-counter-terrorism-hq/
A planning application has now been submitted and you can make comments on line at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/02193/FULL
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate this issue:
“Residents of Westbourne Terrace have been trying for almost a decade to have the numerous National Express buses use the shorter route via Eastbourne Terrace to bring some relief to all the traffic being systematically diverted onto our residential street.
I was told by Westminster Council that this was a TfL decision, whilst National Express told me that they could not use Eastbourne Terrace given that the street showed as being closed. I therefore contacted TfL to ask them to update the relevant software to reflect the fact that the street has been reopened to traffic for more than a year. But this Kafkaesque situation got more bizarre with TfL’s response indicating that I should reach out to ….Westminster Council!”
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate this issue:
“Chilworth Street has been cordoned off a couple of weeks ago, and there has been no sign of activity since. It has been gathering junk ever since and looks increasingly awful. Are there any plans to one day restore the street?”
The Highways Team say:
“This was the old Crossrail compound site which is being prepared for a lesser area to be taken up by McLarens for the development of 40 Eastbourne Terrace. I believe that there will be limited access through Chilworth Street once they are in situ.”
Residents have responded as follows and we have agreed ti keep a close eye on this issue:
“It is extremely disappointing that having suffered from 12 years of the awful Crossrail camping site, we will now have years of another unsightly and noisy building site, that will also inevitably never be cleaned and be constantly full of garbage, graffiti, and cigarette butts.”
Survey of Residents’ Views
We want to know what you think the Council’s priorities should be over the coming years. Please let us know by completing this short survey so we can take action on your priorities. Thank you
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
Dispelling the vaccination myths
Here is the link to a video featuring Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic celebrities dispelling myths about the vaccine and encouraging people to have the vaccination
You can see the latest data for your area here
Carers Network is an independent charity supporting unpaid carers in the City of Westminster. They support people caring for partners, family members, friends and neighbours aged over 18 with disabilities and long-term conditions or experiencing frailty due to old age. They say:
“Carers Week this year runs from 7-13 June, and to mark the week we have an online event for Westminster Carers on Tuesday 8 June from 6pm-7:30pm, At the event we will provide more information and talk about the specialist support our End of Life Carers Project offers to people looking after a family member or friends towards the end of their life. The link to join event on Zoom is here. Meeting ID: 811 2646 4836 Passcode: 585886”
You can read the ‘Westminster Extra’ on-line
What you say
“Kudos to Shaftesbury for reviving the hanging baskets in Silver Place, and for adding a number of window boxes over numbers 1 and 2 Silver Place”
“I agree about the greening of Carburton Street – it’s lovely. Hope other streets can do likewise.”
“It is heartening to read the concerns of residents knowing they are heard and taken on board to make the necessary improvements however big or small. You give us all a voice and hope. Thank you.”
“Thank you very much for the newsletter which is always full of vital and interesting matters which need action and support. I think lots of people look forward to its arrival and are very impressed by all that is being addressed on so many important issues.”
“I would like to thank you for your support in this matter. Without your help I truly believe I would not have been able to move forward.”
“Many congratulation to you and your team for the sterling work you are doing in the community. I carefully read your regular bulletins which are fantastic, and I must applaud you all for the success in your achievements. Unfortunately, you are the unsung heroes in our community. Very well done. In fact, I have forwarded this bulletin on to many of my friends who are equally impressed at what you have achieved”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Please feel free to pass this report to your neighbours. If you know of anyone else who might like to receive this report, please send them this sign-up link http://bit.ly/signuplabnews
Your Labour Councillors can be contacted as follows
Churchill Ward – For details of ways to contact Councillor Liza Begum and Councillor Shamim Talukder, please see the Churchill Labour website
West End Ward – You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone.