News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team
Swift action by West End Labour Councillor Pancho Lewis ensured that a potential health risk posed by a mass gathering of Patti Smith fans in Piccadilly Circus, to see a 10-minute virtual performance by the singer and her band on New Year’s Eve, did not go ahead.
Weekend closure of Regent Street to traffic
We urged the Council to take action to stop a repeat of the situation in Regent Street following the closure of Regent Street to traffic in early December when pictures like these were taken. There were also very significant issues with gridlock in Soho which was particularly worrying because it would be almost impossible for emergency vehicles to access Soho. Of course, we need to support businesses on Regent Street and elsewhere, but we need to ensure this does not create a serious risk of the virus transmission going up and access to Soho for emergency vehicles.
We are supporting the Soho Society’s response to this very unsatisfactory situation
Councillor Pancho Lewis has written to the Leader of the Council to repeat his call for an independent inquiry into the disastrous development in Berwick Street which has badly affected the lives of Kemp House residents and destroyed Berwick Street market. He says
“In autumn 2018, I ran a community-backed petition urging the Council to launch an independent and full review into the Berwick St development debacle. The Council said that a review would be carried out, but only once the development had been completed – the argument being that a review risked delaying completion of the development further. That seemed reasonable enough an argument, providing that there genuinely was the intention to carry one out in due course.
We now appear to be getting close to the end of the development, and residents are keen that plans are put together to so the review can happen soon in the new year. When can we expect to it to start please? The development deserves scrutiny and there are a lot of unanswered questions about why such a damaging development was allowed to go ahead.”
Residents posted images of people urinating on Hopkins Street. Councillor Pancho Lewis took this up with the Council and signs have been put up and better provision of toilets is being investigated. The City Inspectors told us:
“City Inspectors visited Hopkins Street early this morning and erected ‘No Urination’ signage in Ingestre Place, Hopkins Street and Peter Street at the junction of Greens Court. Hopkins Street is flushed as per Veolia’s cleansing schedule, however I’m also informed there may be a portable toilet facility placed in Peter Street just after the junction with Hopkins Street at weekends to combat urination.”
Someone of Soho exhibition
Councillor Pancho Lewis is included in Richard Piercy’s Someone of Soho 2.0 exhibition. Richard says:
“Whilst Crossrail delayed and dithered I was offered the opportunity to have a show at W1Curates on the Flannels building on the corner of Poland and Oxford St. I accepted immediately! There’s 100 images on display until 13th December.”
The Council has launched a new website for the ‘Oxford Street District’ https://osd.london/about/
Rathbone Place residents have seen their service charge increase by 270 per cent in a single year. You can read about it here
We are helping residents in Holcroft Court with long-standing repairs issues. We have also asked the Housing Office to remove stolen Santander bikes which have been dumped by the recycling bins.
A resident wrote to us with the following issue:
“On 07.10.20 I reported an abandoned bicycle in Foley Street. It’s still there, I’m sorry to say. It’s in the bike racks on Foley Street outside Almost Saturday cafe. A maroon bike with a basket on the front. Perhaps you can push this in the right direction?”
We took it up and, after following up more than once, the abandoned bicycle was finally removed. The resident reported back: “Success! The bike has been removed! Thanks very much for your help.”
Bikehangers in Fitzrovia
The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Forum has called for bicycle parking hangars in Riding House Street, Langham Street, Hanson Street and Gosfield Street and we are supporting them. Council Transport officers told us:
“Your suggestions have been logged and we will review along our full cycle parking suggestions list for our next batch of cycle hangars roll-out.”
West End history
You can read a review of London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District 1800-1914, by Rohan McWilliam here https://fitzrovianews.com/2020/12/01/a-history-of-londons-west-end-from-a-place-of-aristocratic-consumption-to-a-centre-of-popular-entertainment-and-expression/
‘Fitzrovia News’ includes an extended review of The Survey of London’s latest volume which is devoted to Oxford Street. “The Survey, founded in 1894, is a research project to produce a comprehensive architectural survey of central London and its suburbs. In this third look at the book, we focus on Oxford Street Nos. 134–162, from Wells Street to Winsley Street.”
Regent Street/Hanover Street
We have asked the Council to explain this issue
“Could you please ask the council why they have extended the pavements on the west side of Regent Street (from Hanover Street to Oxford Circus) only to place several large planters on the new part (even some of the old part) of the pavement. This renders additional social distancing impossible and further creates a low-level hazard for pedestrians which is not easily visible when crowds are large. It would be helpful to understand what seems like their irrational action. “
Abercrombie & Fitch will close its flagship Savile Row store by the end of January 2021, before its lease expires.
The Audley, Mount Street/South Audley Street
The Grosvenor Estate has issued the following update on The Audley:
“We’re delighted to announce that Artfarm, the independent hospitality company behind Somerset’s Roth Bar & Grill and The Fife Arms in Braemar, will now be running our beloved pub, The Audley. In Artfarm, we have a partner with clear sustainability and community values that match our own.
Built in 1888, The Audley was designed by Thomas Verity, the man who designed the exterior of the pavilion at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Luis Laplace, Argentinian architect is the architect for the project. Laplace is renovating the Grade II listed building, restoring many of the original historic features lost due to bomb damage in the Second World War. The renovation of the five-storey building is provisionally set to be completed in autumn 2022, with the pub re-opening to the community with the addition of a restaurant and rooms.”