Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Action Team
Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Action Team

Support for the hospitality industry

The weeks and months ahead will be incredibly challenging for hospitality businesses, and indeed businesses in many other sectors. We therefore have backed measures to support hospitality businesses into the winter months (after the coming lockdown) – including measures to allow for low-carbon outdoor heaters and widened pavements. You can read our statement on the support that is needed

Support for West End residents, too

West End residents tell us that the increase in ‘al fresco’ dining is not all good news and point to the following issues;

“Increase in street noise: People sitting drinking and talking and laughing in the street is great fun when you are one of those people, but when you are working from your flat above the restaurant and the outdoor dining, on a Zoom call, or trying to watch TV or have a meal with your family and the constant noise from the streets invades your flat, like many residents in Berwick, D’Arblay, Frith, Dean, Old Compton Street. it is hugely disruptive to having a good quality of life. 

Commercialisation of the public space. If you are going to charge businesses to use our public streets, our public highway, our access and our rights of way – then us residents need to feel the benefit. 

Increase in anti-social behaviour. With large groups of drinkers congregating in the streets after 10pm. They sit in doorways, on pavements, they urinate and sometimes defecate behind our cars as WCC provided NO street toilets, expecting venues to provide them. Fine until closing time, then on to our streets the people go. The police don’t have the capacity to move them on. It is noisy and we find broken beer bottles and worse outside our door in the morning. 

Anti-social noise/access issues from delivery vehicles. Some of these streets were closed from midday-11pm at weekends meaning that delivery vehicles are forced to deliver in a very small window in the morning. So instead, many delivered during the night time – between midnight and 7am. It is completely unreasonable to expect residents to have daytime noise, evening noise and then also night time noise – we need to have a window of time to sleep.”

The comments above highlight the importance of the Council genuinely listening to and engaging with the concerns of local people. Unfortunately, the Council so far seems unwilling to listen to what residents say.

West End jobs 

Arts jobs in the West End could plummet by 95% in the next four years, in a worst-case scenario in which central London is subject to repeated lockdowns and the sector is not supported, a report from the Heart of London Business Alliance has warned.

John Lewis, Oxford Street

The Council has approved a planning application from the John Lewis Partnership for the dual/alternative use of part sub-basement, part ground and third to eighth floors for either retail use and/or for office purposes. The offices would be accessed via a new entrance at the corner of Holles Street and Cavendish Square. Planning Officers recommended approval saying that there are exceptional circumstances to justify the loss of retail floorspace and that the external alterations were acceptable in design terms.

Though some concerns were raised about the message that this sends to other retailers, the Planning Committee concluded this would ensure the continued existence of John Lewis on Oxford Street and approved the application unanimously.

Marshall Street Leisure Centre

Westminster Council has taken the decision to severely limit the hours of operation of Marshall Street Leisure Centre from 1st November to only 3 hours a day between noon and 3pm. In addition, the pool will be closed. There is more information here: Councillor Pancho Lewis has written to the Council to object:

We are writing to object to the decision to severely restrict access to Marshall Street Leisure Centre. It’s unacceptable that opening hours have been reduced so that the gym will be open only 3 hours a day and that, on top of that, the pool is to be closed. 

Marshall Street is by far the worst affected leisure centre, leaving residents in Soho and the surrounding area with extremely limited access to their local gym. Local people are being penalised and this is totally unfair.

Coronavirus is an incredibly difficult time for all of us. Exercise is an important way of maintaining physical health but also mental well-being. Please reconsider this decision and ensure that the leisure centre remains open as per current arrangements and that access to the pool is maintained.”

Cartoon Museum, Wells Street 

Fitzrovia’s Cartoon Museum in Wells Street has caught the spirit of the times with a very topical exhibition: Hail to the Chief!? It features caricature portraits by award winning political cartoonist Martin Rowson, and pen portraits by Andrew Gimson, author of The Rise of Boris Johnson.

Hail to the Chief!? Brief Lives of America’s Best and Worst Presidents. The Cartoon Museum, 63 Wells Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3PT runs to 31 December 2020. Entry included in general admission ticket. Open Thursday 11:00–20:00, Friday – Sunday 11:00–16:00.

Regent Street 

The Crown Estate has unveiled plans for Regent Street which will introduce:

  • Additional space for pedestrians
  • Roads reduced to a single vehicle lane in each direction
  • Cycle lanes and cycle parking hubs and stands
  • Enhanced bus stop areas
  • New seating areas
  • Tree planting and greenery

Construction has commenced on the new designs and the work is set to complete before Christmas. 

Hay’s Mews

We have asked the Refuse Team to take action against those responsible for the regular rubbish dumping in Hay’s Mews.

Reeves Mews

We have also asked the Refuse Team to take action against those responsible for the regular rubbish dumping in Reeves Mews. Residents say:

“We believe this is due to the fact that owners and/or management companies that control some of the flats in Reeves Mews are using several flats for short-term lets for longer than the 90 days limit. Hence, the people that rent those apartments are often tourists who have no idea about the local regulations and rules and usually dump all their rubbish without proper bags (usually using shopping bags from Selfridges, etc.), which then usually end up scattered all over the street.”

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