Councillors Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca
Councillors Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca


Councillor Ruth Bush

Councillor Ruth Bush has been elected the first Labour Lord Mayor of Westminster. Ruth will not take part in party politics during her Mayoral year and local casework will be undertaken by Councillors Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca.

This is her latest report about her activities as Lord Mayor:

Themes of celebration and commemoration ran strongly through this month:  celebration of Chinese New Year and the sombre commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.The latter focused on the day itself, when I attended the National Commemoration in Central Hall Westminster, where Prince William read a letter from the Cohen family who were hidden from the Nazis by his great-grandmother, Princess Alice.  In the evening, Westminster held its own commemoration, in the Lord Mayors Rooms, where Hella Pick and Nick Ross were guest speakers. The theme of both events was the Holocaust Memorial Trust’s injunction to Stand Together.

By contrast, much of central Westminster was buzzing with celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rat, with scarlet lanterns, prancing dragons and dancing lions.  I joined in painting dots on the lions – essential to waking up the dancers within to perform!  As a prelude to these celebrations, I attended an awards ceremony for the China-UK International Festival, where I heard the most wonderful and unusual music by young Chinese and British composers, played on Chinese and western instruments by musicians from both China and the UK.  Of course, as people celebrated, they also expressed concern about families and friends in Wuhan and the wider Hubei province, and that concern has only worsened.

A real highlight of this month was a day at sea from Portsmouth on ‘our’ frigate, HMS Westminster.  The Captain and crew gave us a warm welcome and it was good to see them again after the Freedom of the City ceremonies of the summer.  The ship had had a very stormy time in the North Sea and they were glad to be in calmer waters for a while.

I read a prayer at the Parliamentary Methodist Covenant Service (a special Methodist New Year service) held in St Mary Undercroft, an ornate chapel beneath the ancient Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament.  The new Speaker, the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, read a lesson and I met him again at a special service and tour for new MPs at Westminster Abbey.

I’ve spoken at many gatherings – of children at a public speaking competition, of residents’ associations, at the Senior Citizens Forum, at the launch of the Council’s LGBT+ Exhibition, at the All Stars Boxing Gym’s Lord Mayor’s Cup tournament.

I went to two Memorial Services, unveiled two commemorative plaques, presided at seven Citizenship Ceremonies, attended the London Government Annual Dinner at the Mansion House, spoke at the London Mayors’ Association Annual Dinner, spoke at the Art Auction in aid of the outreach work of the Young Westminster Foundation, one of my Lord Mayor’s charities, and presented awards to the finalists in a most beautiful dance competition with a ‘Strictly’ format, where each professional had worked with a partner with a disability. And much else besides, believe it or not.

The Squirrel 

We continue to resist attempts to permanently close The Squirrel pub and are objecting to the two new planning applications submitted in December. The developers are contesting the Council’s decision to turn down their original application to turn the pub into flats last summer, following a successful local campaign.  This appeal will be heard in March and we will argue the case for The Squirrel to be returned to the thriving local pub it used to be. 

Harrow Road shops

We have asked the Council to remind traderson Harrow Road, between Great Western Road and Bravington Road, of times to place rubbish on the public highway. There is definitely a need for more collections. This is an extremely busy area and should have priority. The City Inspector for the area said:

“We have been finding evidence of traders dumping illegally and follow up enforcement is in progress.We are seeing more compliance where businesses are using the correct Veolia commercial bags and tags especially Monday to Friday when I’m around during the day.However, I will revisit the traders and remind them of the collection times and the fixed penalties they could face. I will also speak to my management regarding some more weekend and evening patrols by the out if hours team.”

Collections by both the council and private waste companies take place at 9–10am and 6.30–7.30pm so waste should be put out on the pavement no earlier than 30 minutes before these times.

Maida Hill piazza

Karen Buck MP writes:

A number of local residents continue to raise the management of the ‘Maida Hill piazza’, as well as the wider area up and around the Harrow Road. It is now a number of years since the physical improvements to the piazza, the efforts to introduce the market, the dedicated police Safer Neighbourhood Team and the successful battle to prevent the former Prince of Wales pub being turned into a betting shop. Although we have not returned to where we were in the days before all that level of activity, we have gone backwards in terms of policing and council resources, and there are concerns about serious youth violence, not least since the shooting in Walterton Road before Christmas, and the numbers of street drinkers in the area.

As you will be aware, we have lost a third of our police strength and the local police station, and although the Government have promised to increase police numbers this has yet to impact significantly at the local level. However, we do have very good contacts with the Police locally and can make sure hot spots are targeted when necessary. Harrow Road Ward Councillors and I have also been pressing for better management of the street drinking. Westminster Council are also considering an injunction to limit the street drinking, having run out of time on the last occasion they were preparing evidence and statements for the court. They can also issue notices in the area and warnings to individuals.

Most people don’t want heavy handed approach to this issue, but they do want to know that the area is being monitored and kept safe, and it is in no-one’s interests if it feels neglected and unmanaged.

Meanwhile there are discussions underway about the development of the wider area, including a bid to the Mayor’s High Street fund, so if you live locally do get involved with the Maida Hill Forum and have your say.

Here is a video of me raising cuts to safer neighbourhood policing in Parliament.”

Shirland Road

You can read the story of J Welford & Sons Limited, the former headquarters of the largest milk business in London’s history:

Westminster Council tenants – Thames Water charges

We have received the following update from the Council:

“Thames Water have terminated their agreement with us for the collection of water charges with effect from 31 March 2020.From 1 April 2020 Thames Water will charge council tenants directly for their water services. This means we will stop adding fixed costs for water to our tenants weekly rent and service charge bills from this date. Tenants will then pay Thames Water directly for their water use. 

We are writing to tenants this week to let them know about the changes.Thames Water plan to write to tenants later this month to set up their accounts in advance of their first bills which we expect they will receive in late Feb to early March for the period April 1 2020 to 31 March 2021. Thames Water will offer payments in instalments and offer social tariffs which could see some eligible tenants’ bills reduced by 50 per cent.

More information including advice for tenants can be found online here

Rita Begum selected as Labour candidate for West Central

Maida Vale Councillor Rita Begum has been selected as Labour’s Candidate for West Central at the London Assembly elections on 7thMay 2020. Rita’s priorities are:

  • Homes fit for Londoners– I will campaign for more good-quality council homes and to protect residents from the developers and councils that try to short-change them. I’ll work alongside the mayor’s campaign to introduce rent controls and a universal landlord register to crack down on rogue landlords.
  • A green new deal for London– I will invite the distinguished economist Ann Pettifor, as well as other experts, to advise the mayor and the London Assembly on the creation of London’s green new deal – from the small ideas that make our lives greener and healthier to a city-wide plan for transition.
  • Fight to keep London global– London is a global city and should be open to all. We must fight against racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and any kind of prejudice. I will stand with the mayor to fight for fairness for all, regardless of race, gender, background, or disability. I will fight for you.
  • Really tackle crime– The Tories cut 91% of the youth services budget in Westminster – and the same story has played out in Tory-run areas across London. To truly tackle crime, we need to restore these services, better housing, jobs with a future, and more community-based police.

Climate Change Tips for the month

Reduce, reuse and recycle: Every year an estimated 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill. Instead of buying new clothes, buy secondhand clothes from charity shops. It’s possible to find good quality clothes that often last longer than their new, often more cheaply made counterparts. If you’re looking for something in particular, check out Oxfam’s online shop:

If you like the idea of a clothes swap, where you bring something you don’t want any longer in exchange for something someone else is getting rid of, there are a few swap shops around London and a few Swap events that take place at different locations–london/clothes-swap/

If it’s difficult for you to get to a charity shop, or if you have items that are too heavy or bulky to carry, list them on Freecycle which is a great place to get rid of things, as people will come to you to collect

Report It

The new Report It service has been unveiled. Let us know what you think 

Refuse collection and Recycling collection times

You can check when refuse and recycling is collected from your street here

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:

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.



Councillors Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca.

Your Harrow Road Labour Councillors

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