Council plans for temporary closure of some roads
The Council has published its second iteration of its plans to support hospitality businesses in Fitzrovia. These can be viewed online here:
These plans will begin on Saturday 4 July and are intended to support hospitality businesses to reopen.
The plans include:
- Temporary widening of footway on Charlotte Street
- A timed daily closure of Market Place
Concerns have been raised about the proposals for Charlotte Street on traffic displacement. Please do raise any issues and I will take them up.
Air quality petition
We have launched this petition:
“Lockdown has led to a dramatic improvement in air quality in Fitzrovia and the West End. Westminster Council has a unique opportunity to build on this and avoid toxic air quality returning to our streets. Measures should be brought forward to prevent rat-running through residential streets. Other measures like greening streets, widening pavements, among others also need to be looked at. We call on the Council to engage with local people and hear our views about how to make these improvements.”
You can sign it here https://www.westminsterlabour.org.uk/uncategorised/2020/06/18/petition-to-westminster-council-on-behalf-of-fitzrovia-residents/?fbclid=IwAR0U0lMTi40LHcUQmEi8i95DIkhu6z1fF8i55YLdwWSJWTrpJWFD8uWLyaY
Proposals to improve air quality in streets – Tell us your views
Fitzrovia residents have put together plans to reduce through traffic and rat running in Fitzrovia. We are asking the Council to consider these proposals and engage local people so they can have their voice heard. You can read about these proposals here:
What do you think about these proposals?
“I feel it necessary to raise a complaint regarding the condition of both the paving stones and the re-surfaced roads following works by Conway, who as you know, have large contracts in this particular area.
Some of their work is up to scratch but their lack of clearing up and tidying the areas once works are completed, is almost non-existent. I’m happy to send some photographic examples if you require them. Conway’s standards have definitely dropped throughout the West End of late, and I would appreciate you looking into it on my behalf.”
We took this up with the Council’s Highway team who replied:
“We have discussed this issue with our contractor who then immediately cleaned up the area where the works were located.
We have highlighted our disappointment this was not done at the time and have reiterated the importance that jobs are completed to the highest standard, which includes the final clean up. Our contractors have confirmed they are in complete agreement and have reminded their teams that all jobs should be cleaned up fully before leaving site.”
Great Titchfield Street
We have taken this up with the Council’s Licensing Team:
“Every Saturday, the Riding House Cafe (which is now styling itself as a “food store” – The Riding House Local Store) sets up and holds a Saturday afternoon BBQ with a commercial catering kitchen size BBQ grill set up in the open street (on the pavement outside their demised premises) selling hot food and drinks (including alcohol, both on a retail basis and also in open glasses etc. as if in a bar or pub). This is all consumed outside the premises on the neighbouring streets and public highways as all restaurants are required to be closed at the moment. This started on Saturday 24 May and is advertised to be a regular affair on their social media. On the first occasion, they had tables and chairs set up as if they were just a restaurant on the street. I understand from the staff that they are deliberately trying to inculcate an outside party atmosphere with lots of shouting and music. It has encouraged dozens of people to attend with all the noise and risk associated with crowds for the local residents in the current public health emergency.
The commercial BBQ grills on the open street are billowing out smoke and paraffin fuel fumes – no attempt has been made to try and capture the smoke or fumes as would be the case with a normal restaurant. In addition, there are extensive food cooking smells and smoke blowing into neighbouring local residential flats, such as mine. During Lockdown, local residents have no escape from this and we have to close our windows. It is intolerable for us to have to endure no ventilation during a heatwave as the licensed premises across the street has set up an unauthorised BBQ grill on a commercial scale in the open street and is acting like an outdoor bar-restaurant as if Lockdown had never happened.”
We have raised strong concerns about the managing agents for Rathbone Square who appear to be refusing to comply with planning conditions that dictate that the square should remain open to the public. Back in May it wasn’t open at all. Residents say:
“I was disappointed though unsurprised to discover that Great Portland Estates have closed Rathbone Square 24 hours a day. … This is a breach of their planning consent which requires the Square to be open between 6am and 10pm each day. Clearly these are extraordinary times and leeway needs to be given. However, the priority now more than ever should be the public interest. Many of us without outdoor space are cooped up for long hours. Such tiny bits of green in the area such as Soho Square are prone to crowding and loss of social distancing and each lost bit of green space increases this prospect and/or reduces opportunities for the residents of Soho and Fitzrovia.
Whilst GPE are the private owners of this square, they nevertheless relied on its public space for planning consent, the space is subject to Council control through operation of planning rules and the space bears the proud emblem of Westminster’s elected body on its signs, also in my picture. Accordingly, the square’s public use needs to be prioritised at this critical time and if leeway is required then it should be to allow them to keep it open overnight rather than to close it during the day.
Please would you contact GPE on behalf of residents and tell them to open the square to the public as they should? You may need to remind them of some or all of the above.
I look forward to hearing from you and to the return of this small but — in the developers’ own approach — important public space to its intended use urgently.”
More recently it has been reopened, but planning conditions still aren’t being fully met.
WEST END WIDE
Business and Planning Bill
The Soho Society and many other resident groups have raised concerns about a bill passing through Parliament that would automatically give all premises the permission to sell alcohol off-license.
I am working with local residents to lobby law-makers to amend this potentially very damaging piece of legislation.
There is a bill going through Parliament that the local MP has introduced. This would provide increased scope to regulate Pedicabs. We are supporting the Bill and saying it is about time a law was introduced. You can support our petition here:
After lobbying for this change for years, we have welcomed Westminster Council’s decision to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all roads, following recent consultation when two thirds of the respondents supported the proposal. The 20mph speed limit comes after there were 3 deaths and 269 seriously injured casualties on Westminster’s roads in 2018 – the highest of any London Borough.
If you or someone in the area you know is running a community or other project in need of funding it might be eligible for funding from the West End Ward budget. Find out more here:
Our vision to help rebuild the West End
Westminster Labour councillors are calling for the Council to embrace its role as a custodian of the West End and help pro-actively rebuild communities, businesses and the arts sector.
An excerpt of Councillor Geoff Barraclough’s speech is below and it can be read in full here:
What you say about Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team
“Pancho, you are indefatigable!”
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your intervention. I was beginning to despair. Thank you so much.”
“Helpful and informative as ever. Keep up the great work.”
“Thank you for all you always do and continue to do.”
“I am writing to thank you for your kind intervention without which I am sure I would still be struggling. Thank you once again”
Councillor Pancho Lewis
You can contact Pancho on:
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, who also helps with the Action Team, can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org