PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END LABOUR ACTION REPORT – August 2021
News from your Westminster Labour Councillors
Abbey Orchard Estate
We have again asked Peabody to remove scaffolding from the Abbey Orchard Estate. Following our enquiries, residents said:
“Miracle! Something worked – scaffolders arrived this morning. Wasted no time in removing everything except their rubbish. A heartfelt thanks as I don’t think it was a coincidence after my contact to you and my two phone calls to Peabody that the courtyard is now clear again.”
We have been contacted by residents of Morgan House who have raised concerns about the redevelopment of the community centre and its impact on Morgan House residents. We have asked the Housing Department to tell us what action is being taken to address residents’ concerns
“I’d like to register my very deep concern that the redevelopment of the community centre is not only going to be a dreadful experience for Morgan House, it is going to make living there in future worse. I’m hearing there are no promises of sound proofing, plans to have entry ways directly below our balconies, and plans to encourage gathering directly outside our flats. This might sound great in principle, but it’s not being done for the residents if it’s making living in the direct area worse. What is being done to ensure residents aren’t sacrificed in favour of a smart set of plans that the designer doesn’t have to live with?”
Flaxley House, Abbotts Manor Estate
We have asked the Housing Office if they can install automatic opening doors to Flaxley House to replace the current heavy doors which are difficult for elderly residents to use.
Hugh Street/Hugh Mews
We have continued to support residents who are plagued by regular early morning deliveries from contractors and battling for the replacement of a broken planter.
We have continued to support residents in Clarion House, Moreton Place in their efforts to get the Managing Agents of 92-94 Belgrave Road to fix a long-running problem with water leaks.
Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge proposal
Wandsworth Council have spent £2.5 million on plans for the proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge which is opposed by many Pimlico residents, as well as the Council and the Mayor. A report to Wandsworth Council’s Finance Committee on 7th July reveals that the Council have so far spent about £2.5million of public money on it and they have still not entirely given up. The Wandsworth Council report says, “The work to date leaves the Project in a good position for a Promoter to take forward in the future when there is more certainty.”
Vauxhall Bridge Road
In response from Charlwood House residents, we have asked the Noise Team to investigate reports on anti-social behaviour at a nearby restaurant.
Vauxhall Bridge Road – lowering speed limits
Transport for London (TfL) is asking for views on the next stage of lowering speed limits on the remaining TfL roads in Westminster from March 2022. Speed is a factor in at least 37% of collisions where a person is killed or is seriously injured on London’s streets. TfL say:
“We are planning to use raised tables to slow vehicles, along with signs and road markings to encourage drivers to slow down. We’ve provided more information about our proposals on our website at www.tfl.gov.uk/speed-westminster, where you can give us your views or send them to email@example.com
A map of the roads included and what the new speed limits will be can be found in the ‘Documents’ section along with maps showing where we are introducing the new measures in Vauxhall Bridge Road.”
Queen Mother Sports Centre
We raised these issues with the Sports Team:
“I use the pool almost every day at the Queen Mother. The showers have been bordering on useless for months – more? — in the “wet”/poolside women’s locker room. It was especially ludicrous during the Covid procedures as no distancing was possible in the showers. The spray cascades in a wide arc from the shower heads (that work). One dribbles and is useless. The other 6 that function barely spray in a direction that allows for shampoo/soap to be easily removed.”
Following our enquiries, the Sports Team say:
“We have had the shower heads recently de-scaled and later this Summer we have planned remedial works scheduled for Male & Female wet side showers to replace shower valves, head and push buttons.”
Residents say: “As ever, you are so effective in solving an issue that constituents have complained about for months. Such a delight to know that the showers at the Queen Mother Sports Centre will be fixed. Thanks for your help!”
Following our enquiries to L&Q on behalf of residents about the outstanding repairs and other issues, L&Q say:
“I am very pleased to advise that Coburg Close has been assigned for planned works in this financial year. The works that will be completed are cyclical decorations Internal and external, renewed timber windows and an asbestos survey. It is accepted that there have been many issues related to the need for these cyclical maintenance works to take place and the effect the delays have had upon the residents.
For some time now there has been an issue with youths and rough sleepers entering the Close. In previous resident meetings we have advised all residents to report drug and criminal activity on the estate and in the car park to the police as this regularly occurs outside of working hours. The side gate in situ is an older wrought iron gate which is listed. We are therefore checking to see how we may be able to change this to a standard security gate and whether planning would permit this.”
St James’s Park
We have contacted The Royal Parks about this issue:
“I yearn for the ‘good old days’ (pre 2012 Olympics) when many people would spend a pleasant hour or so in St James’s Park listening to a Brass Band or Concert Band. The ‘tent’ over the Band Rotunda area, just near the Blue Bridge, was removed as part of preparing the area for the Olympics beach volleyball and we were promised everything would be returned… but it wasn’t. Can this lovely feature of our parks in summer be reinstated?”
The Royal Parks say:
“We do not have a permeant bandstand in St James’s Park. Since 2012 we have had the bandstand cover out with bands playing, since Covid the bands were cancel but we do hope to restart band playing again in 2022 all being well.”
You can read about London’s first ‘iceberg’ hotel here
A hidden London tram station opens to the public for first time in 70 years. People will be able to tour platforms on Kingsway station that have been closed for half a century
Westminster Reference Library, St Martin’s Street
We have asked the Head of Libraries about this issue: “Westminster Reference Library no longer has a printer that computer users can use. Westminster is the capital city of the capital of the United Kingdom. This deficit is not appropriate.”
We are pleased to say that the printer has been fixed and is now working.
VINCENT SQUARE WARD
Gordon Hospital, Vincent Square
We are very concerned that the local NHS Trust is seeking to permanently close the Gordon Hospital in Vincent Square. This will create a severe shortage of community mental health beds in Westminster. The Gordon has been temporarily closed due to pressures of managing Covid-19 in an older building but it seems that the Trust’s proposed long-term solution is to provide no mental health beds in Westminster at all.
Westminster School is planning to dig up Vincent Square and install a new irrigation system to improve the drainage of the four football and two cricket pitches. Hundreds of lorries will be needed to remove the massive amounts of topsoil and vegetation which will need to be removed and to bring in new topsoil, sand and new irrigation machinery. The lorries will use Vincent Square, Rochester Row, Elverton Street and Horseferry Road, according to the school’s planning application submitted to Westminster Council.
You can read more about the proposals here:
You can make comments online at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/03450/FUL
Huge congratulations to Robin Smith of Soho Dairy who won the Gold Award for National Business Hero – which is the only award nominated by public vote.
Great Marlborough Street
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate why a construction site was allowed to take over the pavement, forcing pedestrians on to the busy roadway, after residents brought this issue to our attention in Great Marlborough Street and Poland Street:
“This construction site took over not only the pavement but the bike hire stands, for a very long stretch. So, bicycles are stacked on the pavement and people are walking in the road, which in such a busy street, is very dangerous. But without even a narrow strip of pedestrian provision, what else are they to do?”
The Highways Team said:
“The temporary structure site should be providing an alternative safer footway and not just directing pedestrian traffic into the carriageway. I will send one of my team to site straight away to address this matter.”
We are continuing to support residents in Soho Housing Association flats at 7 Dufours Place who are suffering a health hazard from overheating due to the communal boiler being switched on 24/7. Residents have organised a petition and “are requesting you to stop circulating heat at night so that we can sleep. If you agree to take this simple step to reduce the hazard, when will it be done?”, they say.
Al Fresco dining
The Soho Society is encouraging residents to give their views to the Council on the Al Fresco dining scheme. They say:
“If you have been adversely impacted by Al Fresco its important you let the council know by e-mailing them directly with your views on any proposed extension of the scheme. It would be helpful if you copied in the Soho Society on your e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst the Society has sympathy for businesses that have had to close because of the pandemic it has only ever supported a temporary intervention while distancing restrictions were in place which prevented venues from fully opening. All those restrictions ended on 19th July. The failure to consult residents on any mitigation measures, the mishandling of disabled access, insufficient provision of toilets and lack of control of noise have caused a number of problems for residents which will now continue until 30 September and possibly beyond.”
We have again asked the police to reduce the use of helicopters to observe demonstrations in the West End. We understand the need for surveillance of demonstrations but, we asked the police “why don’t you use drones? This would be considerably cheaper and less invasive.” The police response was as follows:
“There are advantages to using a helicopter rather than a drone, where necessary, as they play an important role in keeping people safe. The Met has invested in drones, and they are being used, but the technology is not sufficiently advanced to replace helicopters their entirety. Investment in drones will remain, but helicopters will continue be an essential tool for policing in London. As always, we endeavour to balance any disruption caused to the public, with the need to ensure safety.”
We will continue to press the police to use drones as the technology improves and hope that the use of helicopters can be reduced.
West End Councillor Pancho Lewis, alongside West End Action Team members Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jessica Toale and have also written an open letter to the Council and the Mayor reflecting residents’ concerns and distress caused by excessive helicopter noise. To see the letter and add your name go to https://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetterhttps://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetter
Oxford Circus part-pedestrianization – what you say
“The chaos and congestion in streets too narrow to cope with buses, or even taxis, will worsen the air quality in what are in many cases residential streets. And the constant war on taxis drives me mad”
Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan
Fitzrovia residents will vote in a referendum on the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan on 2 September. Everyone registered to vote will be able to say whether they want the plan to influence planning decisions and create an improved environment for all those living in, working in and visiting the area. All businesses in the neighbourhood which pay business rates will also get a vote.
The Fitzrovia Centre in Foley Street will be the polling station. You can also apply for a postal vote or proxy vote. Make sure of your vote by downloading a form. The form should be return to email@example.com by 17 August.
The footway and carriageway on the north side of Carburton Street between Great Portland Street and Bolsover Street will be closed for two years from 9 August so it can be used by demolition and construction traffic while the redevelopment of 204 Great Portland Place takes place. The footway on the south side will remain open and the remaining carriageway will remain open for cycles only in both directions.
The new building comprises basement, ground and first to eighth floors. The basement and ground floors will be a commercial unit, and the remainder of the building for up to 37 flats for sale. Westminster Council accepted a payment in lieu of affordable housing.
Riding House Street
We are supporting residents’ calls for security cameras to be installed in Riding House Street, following recent anti-social behaviour in the area.
Oxford Street/Hills Place
Sue Blundell writes about the Festival of Britain reliefs on the 1950s building at 219 Oxford Street
Vic Keegan writes about St Andrews Church in Wells Street which was dismantled brick by brick almost 90 years ago and reassembled at Kingsbury.
We have asked the Police and the Council to take urgent action on this issue:
“For the last three weekends we have suffered illegal parties in Waverton Street. The pattern is the same. Around midnight cars start arriving in South Street and Waverton Street. People get out noisily and head for 15 Waverton Street. There are men on the door and in the street and the event is clearly organised. Over the next 5 hours or so the music gets ramped up and then around 5.30-6.00am people start leaving, even more noisily than they arrived. This takes about an hour. So, for around 6 hours it is extremely difficult to get any sleep. I estimate up to about 100 people attend these illegal parties.”
Following our enquiries, residents informed us
“We had a result with closing down this house of illegal parties. Let’s hope they are not brazen enough to return! Thank you very much, once again, for pointing me in the right direction.”
Burlington House, Piccadilly
A number of learned societies, such as the Geological Society and Society of Antiquaries, are running a campaign to stay in Burlington House, after the Government has increased their rent by 3,000% since 2012.
Marylebone High Street
We have reported this issue to the Head of Building Control and asked him to investigate and take the necessary action:
“While I was approaching the Oxfam shop on Marylebone Hight Street, I saw a large concrete block of the decorative façade/cornice above the shop’s window and at the shop’s right corner falling down onto the pavement, and towards the zebra crossing. It was by good luck that no one was hurt; there were several people around that spot.
I fear that the block may have fallen due to expansive corrosion, causing the facade blocks to break off. Since this is busy area in constant use, could you possibly please look into this matter and investigate the structural integrity of the nearby (similar) concrete blocks on the facade around the Oxfam shop.”
The Head of Building Control told us
“The falling masonry was from Joseph women’s clothing store, 90 Marylebone High Street. I advised the Manager to contact a structural engineer to check on the structural elements and concrete blocks on the facade area and a builder for repairs/renovation, to stop the situation from recurring. The manager agreed said it would be done as soon as possible”
Wetherby’s School, corner of Bryanston Square and George Street.
We have asked the Parking Team to investigate this issue:
“Large coaches are parked all day in George Street at the end of Bryanston Square. Therefore, on exiting from Bryanston Square into George Street, there is a blind spot when turning right. This is potentially dangerous and could cause a massive crash. Are there any steps that you can take to ensure safety? When the school was opened there was a guarantee from Wetherby’s that George Street would be kept clear.”
Brendon Street/Cato Street
We have asked the Housing Department to investigate this issue:
“We live on Brendon Street and at the back of our garden are Cato Street flats which I believe are managed by Westminster. The stairways have a light that is constantly on and I fail to understand why a motion activated sensor could not be installed. Apart from the waste of energy there is light pollution all night, this is a problem that affects all of the residents and Brendon Street that back onto the light wells”
The Housing Department tells us:
“I have raised a works order for Oakray to attend Sidmouth House in Cato Street to investigate to see whether the light is connected to a motion sensor, light sensor, or timer and to repair where required. If not, they will explore the possibilities of installing a motion detection sensor to all the relevant lights.
If it’s a broken sensor then this would be easy to fix. If not, then we will need to check with H&S to see if the lights are ok to be put on a sensor. Some of the lights aren’t and they must be on the timer due to tight staircases and the need to see a certain distance Infront of you in the event of the need to escape.”
We are continuing to support Sherwood Court residents who are objecting to a Super Delivery moped depot in the basement. They say, “a base for tens or hundreds of moped riders is not in the interests of local stakeholders including the school, it’s children and local residents.”
We are supporting residents in Marble Arch Apartments in Harrowby Street who are fighting proposals to make them pay for the upgrade of fire safety works necessitated by the addition of an extra storey of 8 flats on the roof of their building. Within the block there are 120 leaseholders and 350 residents who are affected.
HYDE PARK WARD
Westbourne Street/Bathurst Street
We have again reported repeated rubbish dumping by the tree at the Westbourne Street/Bathurst Street junction. We have asked the Council if additional planters can be located around the tree to discourage rubbish dumping. The Council say:
“We undertook surveillance and spoke to a number of premises in the area. Whilst many of the business premises were not forthcoming, we did speak to one operator that suggested one of the businesses in the vicinity was a frequent offender. We will be following this up with the premises and also checking their current waste arrangements to satisfy themselves that these would be deemed adequate.”
Following action by the Hyde Park Labour Action Team, BT has cleared the flyposting from the phone boxes on the corner of Bayswater Road and Edgware Road. But more regular cleaning is required by BT as the insides of the phone boxes are full of rubbish and debris which makes them unusable by anyone wanting to make a phone call.
Connaught Square/Stanhope Place
Following our report to the Council about rubbish dumped by the post box at the corner of Connaught Square and Stanhope Place, the Council say:
“Officers have followed up on your email where you provided evidence from discarded waste and asked for this to be actioned accordingly. City Inspectors confirmed with Veolia that collections had already taken place by the time your photo was taken and so enforcement action has been followed up with the resident in question.”
We have asked the Council to investigate regular household waste dumping at the base of one of the trees outside 40 Southwick Street. Residents say,
‘The dumping of rubbish on Southwick St. outside No 40 has reached scandalous proportions. Rubbish that was dumped on the pavement last Thursday has since been added. That is four days of rotting food on the street. It attracts vermin and it smells and looks a disgusting sight. Is there anything you can do enforce the law on this unlawful dumping in Southwick Street?”
The Council say:
“I will request that local City Inspector teams keep an eye out at the location as there is also local building works being carried out and seemingly a bit of fly tipping going on. Whenever in the area I will also keep an eye on things and make sure to ask Veolia to clear any ad-hoc issues as they may appear. Hopefully this will now be resolved.”
“Thank you for your prompt action. We all very much appreciate this.”
Travis Perkins site, Harrow Road
A planning application has been submitted for the Travis Perkins site proposing the demolition of the existing Travis Perkins buildings and erecting a building (plus basement) of between 7 and 22 storeys in height providing accommodation for 843 students. A new Travis Perkins’ builders’ merchants will be on the ground floor of the new building.
Sheldon Square residents have described the proposals as ‘gross overdevelopment’ and we have submitted an objection to the Council.
So far, over 70 objections have been made to these proposals. You can make comments online at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/04536/FULL
We met with Sheldon Square residents recently to plan the campaign against the proposals
We are supporting residents who have been campaigning for almost a decade to have the National Express coaches diverted from residential Westbourne Terrace to the shorter and non-residential Eastbourne Terrace. This simple diversion would bring residents some relief from the constant traffic noise and go some way to improving air quality in this very busy road.
Eastbourne Terrace, which runs parallel to Westbourne Terrace, is now open following completion of the Crossrail works, so there is no reason for Westminster Council and Transport for London to delay any further in arranging for National Express to divert its coaches down Eastbourne Terrace. Karen Buck MP has written to Heidi Alexander, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, asking her to intervene and get this sorted as soon as possible.
You can sign our petition here: bit.ly/WT-Petition
Marble Arch Mound
We have called for an independent inquiry into the expensive £2 million Council Marble Arch Mound fiasco.
According to the ‘Evening Standard’, “the £2m Marble Arch Mound has been branded London’s worst attraction. The unbelievably depressing picture gallery lets you see why from about 27 different angles – and will save you £4.50.”
Marble Arch Mound – what you say
“It is ugly and obtrusive and I really wonder what is the point of spending this money on a useless project when there is such huge need in the borough in terms of housing and real deprivation and need.”
West End Economy
Jace Tyrrell comments that “Staycations will boost the West End”
A new study has found that “London basement extensions as normal as loft conversions”. You can read about it here
E-Scooter hire trial
Transport for London is holding an e-scooter hire trial over the coming months. If you have any comments on the trial, please contact TfL by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-scooters – what you say
“I live in Marylebone High Street and my normal shopping road its Oxford Street. There are scooters driven by grown men which are really hostile and they pass very close to you. The wardens on Oxford Street don’t say anything to them. It’s really frustrating because they drive like insane grown men.”
Voting by post
It is much easier, quicker and safer to vote by post. You can use this form to apply for a postal 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.
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
You can report dumped rubbish, broken pavements, defective street lights and more on the Report It service. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
You can see the latest data for your area here
You can read the ‘Westminster Extra’ on-line
What you say
“As usual, fabulous. All the works that you undertake make me proud to be a Labour supporter.”
“Thank you for doing such wonderful work on behalf of all residents.”
“Thank you very much indeed for your incredibly full newsletter, you are extremely proactive”
“Many thanks for replying so quickly”
“I was so grateful to receive the latest Labour Action Report, and I thank you and the whole Labour team for all you do”
“Thank you for your regular newsletter which is informative. You do much to help your constituents.”
“You do an amazing amount of voluntary work I’m so impressed”
“I very much appreciate your action defending the diminution of the library service in the West End.”
“So grateful for your help! You give residents a reason to hope and believe in ‘the system’ when others turn a blind eye”
“Thanks for your help!”
“Many thanks for your action and input.”
“Thank you so much for your very swift action.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg has written a new book, A Sense of Duty, on the life and times of Sir Ashley Bramall, Leader of the Inner London Education Authority from 1970-1981. Ashley was also a Pimlico Labour Councillor in the 1960s and Leader of the Opposition on Westminster City Council.
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 https://bit.ly/labour-news
Please keep safe, stay well and look after yourself and your neighbours.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour City Management spokesperson
Westminster City Council
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.