News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team – Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jess Toale
Huge congratulations to Robin Smith of Soho Dairy who won the Gold Award for National Business Hero – which is the only award nominated by public vote.
Great Marlborough Street
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate why a construction site was allowed to take over the pavement, forcing pedestrians on to the busy roadway, after residents brought this issue to our attention in Great Marlborough Street and Poland Street:
“This construction site took over not only the pavement but the bike hire stands, for a very long stretch. So, bicycles are stacked on the pavement and people are walking in the road, which in such a busy street, is very dangerous. But without even a narrow strip of pedestrian provision, what else are they to do?”
The Highways Team said:
“The temporary structure site should be providing an alternative safer footway and not just directing pedestrian traffic into the carriageway. I will send one of my team to site straight away to address this matter.”
We are continuing to support residents in Soho Housing Association flats at 7 Dufours Place who are suffering a health hazard from overheating due to the communal boiler being switched on 24/7. Residents have organised a petition and “are requesting you to stop circulating heat at night so that we can sleep. If you agree to take this simple step to reduce the hazard, when will it be done?”, they say.
Al Fresco dining
The Soho Society is encouraging residents to give their views to the Council on the Al Fresco dining scheme. They say:
“If you have been adversely impacted by Al Fresco its important you let the council know by e-mailing them directly with your views on any proposed extension of the scheme. It would be helpful if you copied in the Soho Society on your e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst the Society has sympathy for businesses that have had to close because of the pandemic it has only ever supported a temporary intervention while distancing restrictions were in place which prevented venues from fully opening. All those restrictions ended on 19th July. The failure to consult residents on any mitigation measures, the mishandling of disabled access, insufficient provision of toilets and lack of control of noise have caused a number of problems for residents which will now continue until 30 September and possibly beyond.”
We have again asked the police to reduce the use of helicopters to observe demonstrations in the West End. We understand the need for surveillance of demonstrations but, we asked the police “why don’t you use drones? This would be considerably cheaper and less invasive.” The police response was as follows:
“There are advantages to using a helicopter rather than a drone, where necessary, as they play an important role in keeping people safe. The Met has invested in drones, and they are being used, but the technology is not sufficiently advanced to replace helicopters their entirety. Investment in drones will remain, but helicopters will continue be an essential tool for policing in London. As always, we endeavour to balance any disruption caused to the public, with the need to ensure safety.”
We will continue to press the police to use drones as the technology improves and hope that the use of helicopters can be reduced.
West End Councillor Pancho Lewis, alongside West End Action Team members Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jessica Toale and have also written an open letter to the Council and the Mayor reflecting residents’ concerns and distress caused by excessive helicopter noise. To see the letter and add your name go to https://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetterhttps://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetter
Oxford Circus pedestrianization – what you say
“The chaos and congestion in streets too narrow to cope with buses, or even taxis, will worsen the air quality in what are in many cases residential streets. And the constant war on taxis drives me mad”
Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan
Fitzrovia residents will vote in a referendum on the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan on 2 September. Everyone registered to vote will be able to say whether they want the plan to influence planning decisions and create an improved environment for all those living in, working in and visiting the area. All businesses in the neighbourhood which pay business rates will also get a vote.
The Fitzrovia Centre in Foley Street will be the polling station. You can also apply for a postal vote or proxy vote. Make sure of your vote by downloading a form. The form should be return to email@example.com by 17 August.
The footway and carriageway on the north side of Carburton Street between Great Portland Street and Bolsover Street will be closed for two years from 9 August so it can be used by demolition and construction traffic while the redevelopment of 204 Great Portland Place takes place. The footway on the south side will remain open and the remaining carriageway will remain open for cycles only in both directions.
The new building comprises basement, ground and first to eighth floors. The basement and ground floors will be a commercial unit, and the remainder of the building for up to 37 flats for sale. Westminster Council accepted a payment in lieu of affordable housing.
Riding House Street
We are supporting residents’ calls for security cameras to be installed in Riding House Street, following recent anti-social behaviour in the area.
Oxford Street/Hills Place
Sue Blundell writes about the Festival of Britain reliefs on the 1950s building at 219 Oxford Street
Vic Keegan writes about St Andrews Church in Wells Street which was dismantled brick by brick almost 90 years ago and reassembled at Kingsbury.
We have asked the Police and the Council to take urgent action on this issue:
“For the last three weekends we have suffered illegal parties in Waverton Street. The pattern is the same. Around midnight cars start arriving in South Street and Waverton Street. People get out noisily and head for 15 Waverton Street. There are men on the door and in the street and the event is clearly organised. Over the next 5 hours or so the music gets ramped up and then around 5.30-6.00am people start leaving, even more noisily than they arrived. This takes about an hour. So, for around 6 hours it is extremely difficult to get any sleep. I estimate up to about 100 people attend these illegal parties.”
Following our enquiries, residents informed us
“We had a result with closing down this house of illegal parties. Let’s hope they are not brazen enough to return! Thank you very much, once again, for pointing me in the right direction.”
Burlington House, Piccadilly
A number of learned societies, such as the Geological Society and Society of Antiquaries, are running a campaign to stay in Burlington House, after the Government has increased their rent by 3,000% since 2012.