News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team
We are continuing to press the Council to U-turn on their decision to increase fees for Berwick Street market traders in the midst of a pandemic. However, decision-makers in the Council are determined to continue with their approach despite the harm it is doing. There is now only one stall left on Berwick Street.
‘My London’ reports:
“The last trader still standing on Soho’s historic Berwick Street Market has accused Westminster Council of trying to “get rid of us”. The 18th century food market has been hit by a double whammy of low footfall during the coronavirus pandemic, and an unexpected 20 per cent hike in pitch fees charged by the council. Robin Smith chairs the Berwick Street Traders’ Society and is a co-founder of the Soho Dairy stall which began trading in 2015. As of this week, his stall was the only one left out of 20 that usually trade in a part of central London usually populated by tourists and office workers.
“It’s a colossal impact but we’re determined to get through this,” said Mr Smith. “The fruit and veg stall closed last week and they’ve been here 60 years. It’s a terribly worrying sign.” He went on: “The council increased our pitch fees and backdated them by three months, from June. Legally, the council is only allowed to charge fees in order to cover its own costs, but we have no way of proving whether they’re charging too much. I think the only reason they would want to raise the fees in this instance is to get rid of us.”
You can read more here MyLondon
Berwick Street – change of hours for cleansing vehicles
In the last Action Report, we reported that noisy street cleaning vehicles starting at 6am had stopped after we raised concerns about the impact it had on residents. A resident has written to say:
“So, it’s YOU who has been enabling me to sleep till 7.30 instead of being awoken at 6am by the rubbish trucks on Berwick Street! I had no idea why I have recently been able to sleep so much better, but your Newsheet made it clear. I am so grateful. Please keep it at 7.30.”
State of Soho
Andrew Murray, Soho resident, asks ‘Will the Tiers end in tears?”
We raised this issue with the Council’s neighbourhood coordinator for antisocial behaviour:
“There is an on-going problem with drug dealing and drug usage centred on Newman Passage which runs between Rathbone Street and Newman Street. I have had to make several reports to the police over the last few months. The police are limited in what they can do over the long term and have suggested that I contact the council.”
The following action has been taken:
“I have asked the local dedicated ward officer with patrol of they will be changing their shift to incorporate this patrol and monitoring of the area. Secondly the team will be investigating the lights to see if they are all in working order”.
The resident replied to say:
“Thanks for the update, those steps should certainly help. In the meantime, the good news is that I haven’t noticed any further dubious activity since the new lock-down started.”
‘Fitzrovia News’ carries an update report on residents’ two-year battle with their housing association A2 Dominion over design and maintenance problems at their new homes at Rathbone Square.
Two memorial plaques commemorating members of the Auxillary Fire Service have now been unveiled on the site of a former fire station in Rathbone Street, following a memorial service held earlier this year. You can read the story here:
Great Portland Street
The Great Portland Street post office is to remain ‘crown’ branch after the Post Office’s franchise plan is put on hold. You can read about this here https://fitzrovianews.com/2020/11/25/great-portland-street-post-office-to-remain-crown-branch-after-franchise-plan-put-on-hold/
Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan
According to ‘Fitzrovia News’, the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has been working on a number of fronts to bring about improvements to the area, despite delays caused by the two lockdowns. The neighbourhood plan was subject to a further round of consultation over the summer and is now being considered by an Examiner appointed by Westminster City Council. The Forum is in discussion with the Council’s planners to iron out any differences and to agree a ‘statement of common ground’. This will enable the Examiner to review the plan, recommend any further changes and enable the referendum to go ahead. As a result of the pandemic, this cannot happen before the 6 May 2021. You can read more in Fitzrovia News
Councillor Pancho Lewis raised this issue with Highways:
“As you may know Waverton Street is a one-way street exiting into South Street in front of the main entry/exit gates to St. Georges School, As you approach West Street there is a road traffic sign on the left hand side of Waveton Street that warns of children crossing the street. The sign is not fit for purpose as it faces the wrong way, it is facing towards West Street, it should be facing the opposite way towards the traffic coming up Waverton Street. For the safety of the children of St. Georges School please can you get the road sign turned so that it faces the right direction.”
The issue was fixed and residents responded with the following:
“The road traffic sign in Waverton Street that was facing the wrong way has now been turned and is facing the correct way. Many thanks to Pancho and the highways team for their speedy work in getting the sign sorted.”
Councillor Pancho Lewis took up this issue with the Council:
“I’ve checked my clock the last couple of nights and can confirm the dustbin truck tends to come between 4 – 430am to collect the bags from the spot marked yellow on this map below. It would be so good if we could make this happen at a more human hour.”
The time for collection has now been changed to 11am. The resident has written back to say:
“I just wanted to let you know that for the last three nights the dump truck has come to pick up from the bins at 11pm – with no other visits during the night. We are incredibly grateful.”
Dave Hill’s ‘On London’ blog has an article on Grosvenor Square’s US connections https://www.onlondon.co.uk/london-america-and-grosvenor-square-1968/
You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone