ST JOHN’S WOOD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – February 2019
News from the St John’s Wood Labour Action Team
Along with Karen Buck MP, we take up individual cases and issues of concern in St John’s Wood. Below are some of the issues we have been taking up recently, many as a result of residents’ responses to our regular newsletters. Let us know if we can take up a local issue in your area.
We have asked the Parking Team to investigate this issue:
“Abercorn Place has recently been resurfaced. I see that two parking spaces at the Maida Vale end of the road have been designated ‘doctor’. Since Dr Dexter’s surgery on the corner of Maida Vale and Abercorn Place closed around two years ago, I wonder why these two spaces are still reserved for doctors?”
The Parking Team say:
“These bays are designated to become Electric Vehicle only parking bays and in the meantime, they have been suspended for use by zone c resident permit holders. At this stage, work is currently being undertaken to accommodate the required vehicle charging points and the expectation is that the conversion will be completed within the next 3-6 months.”
Abercorn Place/Maida Vale
We asked the Highways Team to look in to this issue:
“We wanted to ask you about the traffic lights at Junction of Abercorn Place and Maida Vale. They don’t allow you to safely cross the road. They need to put a timer like at Junction of Carlton Hill/Vale, where there is a countdown. I have seen near misses which could have resulted in an accident. “
The Highways Team say:
“Currently, there is a ‘green man’ pedestrian crossing phase on the southern arm of the junction. We have an on-going programme of pedestrian countdown installations, and this site is included in the programme. Officers at TfL are doing a feasibility assessment at the moment to see if the green man can be upgraded to include the countdown timer. The other three arms don’t have ‘green man’ facilities, and at the moment there aren’t plans to convert these.”
Maida Vale/Hall Road bus stop
We are making enquiries following this request:
“We have our lovely bus stop back on Maida Vale, but there is a need for a waste bin there as people are leaving their rubbish on the seats!”
The Council say a bin will be located here.
St John’s Wood Terrace
We asked the local City Inspector to arrange for 2 large Christmas trees which had been abandoned in St John’s Wood Terrace to be removed.
Grove End Road
We have contacted BT about this issue:
“There is a problem with the phone box in Grove End Road near the synagogue and opposite John and Lizzie’s. The ad on the back of it was irritating, to say the least, when if first went up, but after many months (more than a year?) it looks a right mess. Can’t impress all those tourists who pass it en route for the zebra crossing. The inside isn’t a pleasure to behold either. Is it still providing a service other than as a repository for rubbish and stickers? Can anything be done?”
BT told us:
“This phone box has now been cleaned and the poster has been removed.”
We have asked the Street Lighting Team to look into this issue:
“I was out running this morning around 6am and noticed that a large chunk of street lamps were not lit. This was on Hamilton Terrace between Hall Road and Abercorn Place on both sides of the road. It was a little concerning and indeed very dark – somewhat unsettling given a number of recent attacks over the last few months, with one on our doorstep. Not sure if they are connected to a timer? Indeed, if they are, 6am is not nearly light enough to turn them off. “
The Street Lighting Team say:
“The lights are being converted to photocell controlled which means the lighting will be light reactive and should resolve the issue of the lights turning off to early.”
We are keen to see a reduction in the number of vacant shops in Blenheim Terrace and are therefore supporting proposals for change of use of the former newsagents at number 14 which has been empty for a number of years, despite efforts to rent it out.
Carlton Vale/Maida Vale
We asked the Highways Team about this issue:
“I wonder whether the Traffic light phasing at the Junction of Carlton Vale/Maida Vale is in your remit? It does not seem to favour the traffic traversing Maida Vale in a timely or appropriate manner and often as a consequence of a measured approach to the junction (slow driving speed). It appears that the sensors do not recognise (or acknowledge) that there are vehicles patiently waiting to cross Maida Vale? Sometimes the delay can seem interminable”
The Highways Team say:“The signals are often weighted to the heavier flows to ensure, or ‘better fit’ with network priorities, however I can ask TfL to advise with regards to this specific location and if any anomalies are present. “
The MCC has been granted planning permission to construct two new 3-tier stands to replace the Compton and Edrich stands. The new designs include integrated catering and WC facilities, and improved sightlines for the seats in the lower levels. The seating capacity of the new stands will be increased by around 2,500, accommodating 11,500 spectators overall, and there will also be wheelchair-accessible spaces as well as lift access at all levels. Construction is due to commence after the completion of this summer’s major matches on 24th August 2019, with the new stands’ seats due to be ready for use during the 2020 season. Fully fitted-out facilities are scheduled to be completed for the summer of 2021.
City West Homes – Getting worse, not better
It is now nearly 4 months since Westminster Conservatives decided, belatedly, to follow Labour’s pre-election promise to scrap City West Homes. We warned that this would not be a ‘quick-fix’, such are the deep-seated problems which have rendered City West Homes a totally failing organisation.
But we did expect some small improvements. Sadly, as the 40 cases in our latest report demonstrate, City West Homes’ performance has actually got worse, not better.
On top of the usual catalogue of botched repairs, phones not answered, emails ignored and other failures, we now have a major car-parking fiasco on Council estates all across Westminster. Residents bought parking permits in the expectation that those without permits will not be able to park on their estates. The opposite has turned out to be the case, with non-residents who have paid nothing parking all over, including on double yellow lines, clogging up the estate roads and blocking the path of emergency vehicles. There is no effective parking enforcement. City West Homes has failed totally.
Westminster Conservatives appear to have no ‘plan of action’ to deal with the depths to which City West Homes has sunk. Senior staff have left, interim managers have been brought in an attempt to ‘trouble-shoot’ solutions. But there is no sense of direction to City West Homes’ and the City Council’s efforts.
Too many tenants and leaseholders continue to receive a third-rate service. Basic service delivery remains a serious issue. Communications continue to be sub-standard. Consultation appears to be tokenistic. And political will looks paper-thin.
Labour Councillors welcomed the Council’s U-turn in scrapping City West Homes. But simply borrowing Labour’s ideas will not fix the problem. The Council needs long-term political commitment to improve housing services for Westminster’s 22,000 tenants and leaseholders.
Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations
We have called for Westminster Council to formally recognize the Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations representing tenants and leaseholders on Council estates as part of the current consultations on the future management of the Council’s housing stock following the decision to scrap City West Homes. Recent Freedom of Information requests have revealed that the number of Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations recognized by City West Homes has almost halved from 42 in 2010 to just 22 in 2018.
If you’re one of the 30,000 EU citizens living in Westminster and you’re worried about your rights after Brexit, Westminster CAB, the Migrants Resource Centre and Westminster City Council continue to run a helpful advice project.
The Dedicated Westminster Residents’ Advice Service and helpline is an advice service and helpline that has been set up to help EU nationals living in Westminster who are worried about their status in the run up to Brexit. You can call 0300 330 9011 (open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 2pm). Or visit www.westminstercab.org.uk/advice/eu-nationals-advice-project.
You can also visit eucitizensrights.campaign.gov.uk to find out more about your rights, whether you qualify for settled status and a step-by-step guide to help you through the application process.
Here is the latest on Karen Buck MP’s campaign to control Airbnb short term lettings. She said the short-lets industry had “become an extension of the hospitality industry but without the safeguards and management operated by hotels. Communities are bearing the brunt in terms of noise, nuisance and excessive rubbish”
“Both Westminster Council and I agree that one way to do this is to simply require people to let the council know if they are doing a short let – a simple online registration process, for example.”
“This would allow local authorities to know which properties are being let and make it far easier to make sure that owners are not breaching the legal requirement not to do so for more than 90 days a year. This would require almost no effort from the genuine home sharers, but would mean that councils are not left chasing law-breakers with one hand tied behind their backs, as at present.”
What you say
“Thank you as always for your report, and the work you do.”
“Excellent report we are lucky to have this service”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Hussain Ahmed, Janet Seale and Liam Taggart,
Your St John’s Wood Labour Action Team