Labour Councillor for West End Ward, Pancho Lewis, has welcomed Council plans to support the re-opening of the hospitality sector including in Soho and the West End. But he has raised a number of important questions and concerns.
The plans on can be seen on the Council’s website here. Time is short – the Council have allowed just 4 days for businesses and residents to comment. The consultation closes at midnight this Sunday 21 June.
Labour is encouraging as many people as possible to submit their views by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Pancho Lewis has the following questions and concerns about the Council’s plans:
- How have decisions been made? What is the methodology that has been used to work out which streets are being temporarily closed and which ones aren’t? It is critically important that there’s clarity on this. There is no explanation in the current proposals as to why some streets have been left out. Those businesses which have been left out will experience greater financial hardship, some could go bust. We are not necessarily calling for these roads to be closed too: rather, as the Council is effectively picking ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ it is critical that there is an explanation about the rationale behind the proposals. Transparency is also important as a matter of perception and to avoid a situation where accusations can be made that there has been favouritism.
- Inadequate consultation. It’s disappointing there hasn’t been proper consultation with all West End Ward Councillors about these plans – time is tight but this is an important change and there should be greater efforts to engage and consult. The first that Labour saw about the Council’s plans was hours before it was launched on the website.
- More detail is needed – some is there, but it still isn’t clear how emergency vehicles will be expected to get in and out of temporary streets (saying it’s down to “common sense” isn’t enough) and how enforcement will work – there needs to be public sector support for enforcement, not just leaving it to businesses. Then the issue of how vehicles carrying elderly and disabled people will be able to get in and out – not mentioned at all in the plans. Improved and increased provision of public toilets also needed – the proposals say this isn’t needed, but we disagree.
- What is the long-term plan? We need to plan not just for the short term but also the long term. We don’t call for this to be used as an opportunity for long-term street closures, but we do support calls to protect air quality in the long-term, by restricting the vehicles that can come into Soho as well as other surrounding neighbourhoods – through-traffic should be stopped, our aim should be to keep traffic as much as possible to the main roads. We have a unique opportunity now and strongly advocate for this.
Contact Councillor Pancho Lewis at email@example.com