News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team
Oxford Street – temporary public realm improvement works
The Council has announced details of proposed temporary public realm improvement works along Oxford Street which you can see at www.westminster.gov.uk/osd. The works are proposed to begin towards the end of this month.
The Soho Business Alliance has warned that “if Soho dies, London dies.” In an open letter to the Government, the SBA said that businesses in the area were close to permanent closure, explaining that many “won’t survive [the] avalanche of costs due… whilst we are closed.” The letter calls for an extension to VAT cuts, business rates holidays and grants for struggling businesses, and asks for the government to “support the landlord / tenant negotiations by ensuring no foreclosures by banks on landlords.” Without this support, the group say, “[the] government is guiding many of our members and the hospitality sector as a whole, towards mass failure, CVAs and liquidation.”
We have continued to urge the Council to re-open the public toilets on Broadwick Street.
The Soho Society is campaigning to retrieve the Twentieth Century Fox House Neon Sign. They Society say:
“The sign, which we think has been there since the construction of the building in 1937, has been removed under the cover of lockdown. Repeated attempts to contact Disney to ask them to donate the sign to either the Soho Society or the Cinema Museum – who have offered it a place – have been ignored. We suspect that Disney is keen to expunge the words “20th Century Fox” from both our history and our buildings even where this involves the destruction of heritage assets”.
There is a petition to sign here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-twentieth-century-fox-sign-in-soho-square?mc_cid=555f5e7043&mc_eid=5acbd6b741
Oxford Street recovery
‘Property Week’ has published an article by Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, about the potential for the West End to bounce back. He says “In the short term, financial support and clear communication from the government is imperative to help businesses plan for the first half of the year and survive. For the West End to recover successfully and sustainably and return to prosperity, the government must address three key areas of concern: the eradication of tax-free shopping, business rates and Sunday trading.”
The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Form has severely criticised proposals to expand a new hotel being built on Newman Street into a neighbouring building on the corner of Mortimer Street. You can read more here:
Great Titchfield Street
An Italian delicatessen owner is (jokingly) asking customers to form two queues outside a shop in Great Titchfield Street. Signs have been placed outside the shop asking EU passport holders to line up on one side, and British passport holders on the other.
On the door there is a warning to customers that they must wear a face mask, but also that they are entering Italian territory and should have their passport ready for inspection.
Oxford Music Hall
Nick Bailey tells the story of the Oxford Music Hall on Oxford Street
Cartoon Museum, Wells Street
The Cartoon Museum in Wells Street has published a special fundraising eBook entitled #DrawtheCoronavirus: A Cartoon Mini-Challenge from the Mind of Martin Rowson. The eBook is available to buy exclusively through the Cartoon Museum’s online shop, with all proceeds going towards the museum’s fundraising appeal to secure the long-term future of the museum in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
#DrawtheCoronavirus: A Cartoon Mini-Challenge from the Mind of Martin Rowson, is available from the Cartoon Museum online shop.
Fitzrovia Advice Service
The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association has re-opened its advice service, after the organisation succeeded in securing new grant funding to restart the project. Advice is available by telephone and email only, three days a week, and for speakers of English, Bengali, Sylheti, Urdu and Hindi.
The Fitzrovia Advice Service will be able to help with private and social housing problems, housing and council tax benefits, disability benefits, Universal Credit and Job Seekers Allowance, pensions and Pension Credit, Working and Child Tax Credits, fuel poverty; and help with benefit, passport and other forms. For more details see https://fitzrovia.org.uk/advice-service/
We are supporting residents in the Audley Square area whose lives are being made unbearable by the adjacent building works. Noise and vibrations produced by drilling are being described as “unbearable” and flats are said to be constantly “vibrating, it’s like a constant earthquake”. Others say: “it’s a terrible feeling and also I don’t feel secure at my own house. I don’t know what do add except that the noise and vibrations are becoming worse every week.”