|WEST END WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT FROM COUNCILLOR PANCHO LEWIS
Beak Street pedestrianisation proposals – what do you think?
The Soho Society have issued this explanation about the proposals to pedestrianise a section of Beak Street:
“We understand that Westminster City Council is working in partnership with Shaftesbury plc on proposals to extend the Kingly Street / Carnaby Street pedestrianised shopping area further south to encompass Beak Street. The pedestrianisation would extend along Beak Street from Warwick Street to Upper James Street. All westbound traffic on Beak Street would be pushed down Upper James into Golden Square and then on to either Brewer Street or Denman Street and then Shaftesbury Avenue. Alternatively the traffic could go down Bridle Lane or Great Pulteney Street (which are quite residential) on to Brewer and back round to Wardour.
Deliveries would take place between 7 am and 11 am in the morning – when traffic would flow, leaving the rest of the day (and night) from 11am to the following morning at 7 am for commercial activity – shopping and presumably tables and chairs on the highway and drinkers from the pub.
Marshall Street junction with Beak Street would also be closed thus routing all Broadwick street west bound traffic down Lexington. Traffic will be reversed on Bridle Lane.
These proposals are intended to increase comfort for pedestrians and are based on a traffic survey provided by Shaftesbury itself and “generally support the modal shift to pedestrians in this area.”
Next steps are an informal consultation with the local community. If there is “broad support” there will be an experimental traffic order and formal consultation.
In addition to the informal consultation that is coming from WCC you can also complete the Soho Society’s survey on our website and see more information here: www.thesohosociety.org.uk”
There are different views in the community about these proposals. To date most local voices in the community express concern about these proposals – due to the impact on traffic but also because it would mean that Carnaby would effectively extend into Beak Street thereby further ‘sanitising’ Soho. Please do share your views.
We have reported a building which appears to be used entirely (and illegally) as Airbnb short-lets – the Council is investigating.
Berwick Street and Broadwick Street
It appears that a completion date for the Berwick Street development (90-104) is now the beginning (January) of next year. However, this constantly slips so we won’t be holding our breath. In the meantime, we’ll lobby the developers and Council Cabinet Members to hold PMB to account.
Complaints continue to be made about the development – in particular the lack of a clear point of communication in the Council. Conor Savage, community engagement manager for Soho and a Council officer, has now said he will be the main point of contact. If you have any issues contacting him or others (be it officers, CommComm, Interserve, or any other organisation) let Cllr Lewis know and he will put you in touch with the relevant person.
Once the development is completed, Labour will again push for a full, independent and comprehensive inquiry into the failures of the Berwick Street development debacle.
‘The future of Soho’ public conversation – what do you think?
What do you think of this idea?
Cllr Lewis would like to get residents and locals in Soho together and organise a public meeting to have a conversation about ‘the future of Soho’. He wants to do this in a non-partisan way, engaging other local councillors and others. There is more information here:
“At the Soho Society AGM, it occurred to me that whilst there’s plenty of concern (and rightly so!) articulated by the local community about what has been lost in terms of Soho’s past and heritage, there perhaps isn’t enough conversation which looks forward to what Soho will be like in the future, or better put, how we can shape things so that we can build the kind of Soho we want to see in the future.
On that basis, a thought I had is that it would be a good exercise to enable a conversation with residents and other locals about how they envisage the future for Soho. I’m aware that there’s been plenty of similar work done with the community about Soho’s future, not least the through the Neighbourhood Forum. But it seems to me there’s space to have a broader, facilitated and organised conversation – not just about planning, but indeed encapsulating everything which might then translate into different policies across the Council’s various departments. I’d be keen to do this on a cross-party basis, to ensure it’s not perceived as a party political thing, which indeed it isn’t.”
William Blake House, Ingestre Court
Residents have written to us about ongoing issues with heating. Residents say:
“It’s very cold in the flats now, specially at nights. We should have the heating on all year-round as was confirmed in the previous meeting, and yet, only now, have they started working on it and they’ve told us that the heating will only be back on at the end of the month.
I’m cold and ill and I’m sure many of my neighbours who are older and more fragile than I are having an even worse time.
This is a total disregard to what was agreed on the previous meeting 3 months ago, and I wish to add my voice to our residents complaints.”
“Despite the pleasant daytime temperatures, it is really cold at night high up in this tower block with all the glass that makes it so vulnerable to outside conditions.
When are you going to accept the evidence given by residents at the Meeting chaired by Councillor Pancho Lewis, and keep the promise [to] restore the heating we used to have for so many years and truly need?
How do you explain the fact that last spring the Estate Office was besieged by the residents, all protesting and incredulous that they had, for the first time, had their heating shut down for the summer?”
The heating has recently been switched on again. We are determined to ensure next year this does not repeat itself. Cllr Lewis wrote to the Director of Housing for Westminster Housing, Neil Wightman, and still effective action wasn’t taken and residents continued to feel very cold when temperatures dipped. This can’t be allowed to continue and it’s imperative Westminster Housing officers ensure residents can keep warm all year round.
Gay Hussar, Greek Street.
Cllr Pancho Lewis wrote to the Leader of the Council, asking her to intervene to help save the Gay Hussar. His letter is below. She indicated she is considering this request.
“I’m working to try and get the Gay Hussar re-opened after it closed last year. You may recall this is a well-known Soho restaurant that’s been around since the 50s.
The Goulash Cooperative (supported by Tory and Labour politicians alike – including Andrew Mitchell, Lord Ashcroft, Neil Kinnock etc) have done a great job in putting together a business case to reopen the Gay Hussar – modernised, ready to meet contemporary consumer demands whilst maintaining the restaurant’s history. They’ve thought really carefully about it and would I’m sure make a great success of it.
I met with David King from Consulco, the agency working on behalf of the landowner who own the building where the Gay Hussar (now dilapidated) sits. He was open and honest with me – he’s said they have decided to go with another restaurant bidder, but he did say if this application fell through the Goulash Coop’s bid would be next in line.
I wonder whether you might be willing to send David a letter – perhaps to say that whilst you appreciate this is a private matter the Gay Hussar is an important and part of Soho’s heritage and history?”
We reported this instance of rubbish dumping and asked the Council to take action.