MAIDA VALE & LITTLE VENICE LABOUR ACTION REPORT – August 2021
News from Maida Vale Councillors Geoff Barraclough, Rita Begum and Nafsika Butler-Thalassis
And the Little Venice Labour Action Team – Iman Less, Murad Qureshi and Sue Wolff
WARD NEWS AND ACTION
We have met many residents affected by the flooding on 12th July on Kilburn Park Road, Shirland Road, Essendine Road and Elgin Avenue, to name but a few. It was heart-breaking to see so many people lose their life’s possessions. It has been so very disappointing that Thames Water is refusing to offer any compensation to affected residents.
We are also concerned at the slow response by the two main social landlords – Westminster Housing and Notting Hill Genesis – who are responsible for many of the flooded properties. We have asked both organisations to speed up the repairs and also to fit flood-proof uPVC front doors to the basement flats.
Many people are worried that the floods could happen again. Thames Water have told us that climate change is likely to bring heavier and more frequent rainstorms but, as their representatives explained at the public meeting we attended, it has no plans for any further flood alleviation projects. This leaves Westminster Council, as the responsible body, to take the lead and we have urged the new Cabinet Member for City Management, Councillor James Spencer (who has replaced Cllr Caplan following his resignation over the Mound fiasco) to rise to the challenge.
Both Thames Water and Westminster Council will be publishing reports of their investigations into the events of 12 July. A first draft of Westminster investigation is due in September and there is a survey for residents affected. The survey is your opportunity to explain what impact the floods had on you and your property but also to give your views on what should happen next.
Finally, we are very pleased that Karen Buck MP is keeping up the pressure on Thames Water and in Parliament too. She has called a debate in the House of Commons for September.
Support for Westminster Residents who were flooded
We have worked together with local charity One Westminster to set up a fund to support Westminster residents who were flooded. The fund raised some money from private donations (see here) and we are pleased to have also been able to contribute additional funds from the ward budgets in Maida Vale and Harrow Road.
Residents can apply to receive up to £200 to replace items that were not covered by insurance. We realise that £200 is not a lot of money but we are trying to help as many different households as possible. To apply use the application form here.
There is also support available from Westminster Council to replace furniture and other items, please see here:
New street infrastructure
Personal transportation is changing. If you know any good locations for new cycle hangars, on-street cycle stands, e-bike storage or electric vehicle charging points, please let us know and we’ll ask Westminster to install the new infrastructure.
Now is the time to report any problems with Westminster’s highways so that they can be included in future work programmes. If there are any repairs needed near you with roads, pavements, streetlights or drains, follow this link and let the Council know. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/roads-and-highways/highways-nomination-form-2022-2023
Lower Kilburn High Road
We have asked the City Inspector to monitor cars parked across the pavement between the Queen’s Arms and Kish Restaurant. People with limited mobility often find it difficult to pass.
We asked Westminster Housing why it had asked residents to remove items from the balconies. It replied: There have been a number of incidents reported lately where items have fallen on to the lower balconies, some narrowly missing residents. The most recent examples include a brick, an ashtray, food and two plant pots.
We have asked Westminster Housing to investigate a mouse infestation affecting four flats at Torridon House. Residents are concerned that this is linked to the ongoing building works in the car park.
Following recent heavy raid, drains on Shirland Road quickly became blocked. We asked Westminster’s Highways Team what their plan was to prevent flooding. They replied:
Shirland Road has been identified as being vulnerable to potential heavy ponding, following the flash flooding. Consequently, if there is a Yellow weather warning of potential adverse weather conditions, heavy rain etc. We will ensure that these gullies are checked as soon as possible with the areas also swept for leaves by Veolia to help mitigate any blockages.
Unfortunately, when there is heavy rain the gullies take some time to filter away the water due to the sheer volume that it has to take in. So at times, it may appear that the gully is blocked or not draining away… we are carrying out these additional inspections to ensure that we have taken the appropriate measures to mitigate any ponding issues.
You may have noticed that some of the big black street bins have been replaced with more colourful receptacles including some large flowery designs. This is part of a behavioural experiment to see whether a more visually engaging rubbish bin will attract less flytipping. Let us know what you think.
We have been supporting residents at Wingham House who have been without an elevator for over a month. This is a brand-new block and the lift is out of order due to an apparent design fault which causes unnecessary fire alarms and could lead people to be left trapped in the elevator.
Residents complained to us about littering in the car parks and children playing in the areas of hard standing rather than the grass. Westminster Housing replied:
The area in question has been monitored by the estate services team who have been in contact in with the estate cleaners. At this stage, it was felt that additional bins were not required. Additional bins may increase littering and costs for the residents. The car parking area is litter picked by the estate cleaners on a daily basis, however the estate services team will continue to monitor the car park area.
Regarding the children playing in the car park, a block letter will be sent to all residents on the Scottish Towers advising residents that their children should play on the grassy areas rather than the car park area.
Arty Club – Shirland Road
We were disappointed that Westminster’s Planning Committee has permitted the conversion of Arty Club on Shirland Road into a residential flat. Our view is that thriving residential communities like ours can still support thriving commercial businesses at street level but landlords shouldn’t be able to expect to increase rents every year.
In the case of Arty Club, the unit was clearly viable pre-Covid, the marketing report submitted by the applicant ignored that planning changes mean the unit can now be used for any commercial purpose, not just retail, and that landlord is now seeking a higher rent than before the pandemic. The committee voted 3-1 to green light the planning application with Councillor Tim Roca (Harrow Road) the dissenting voice.
Sutherland Avenue/Shirland Road
We have called for an investigation into the dumping of builders’ rubble into a gulley at the corner of Sutherland Avenue and Shirland Road, causing serious flooding in this location.
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate this issue:
“I overlook the roundabout which intersects with Sutherland Avenue, Warrington Crescent’ Lauderdale Road and Hall Road. Lauderdale is a one-way road which feeds into the roundabout. But as I watch out my window throughout the day countless bicycles and scooters both electric and push go down Lauderdale Road against the one-way system. This is a popular shortcut to Elgin Avenue. Why not make a contraflow lane for cyclists on this road? It is impossible to police those who break the one-way system so accommodate them with a safe alternative.”
Residents have contacted because all the cycle hangars in the area are fully booked and there is a three-year waiting list! We have called on the Council to introduce more cycle hangars so that residents can park their bikes safely and securely.
We have asked the Council to investigate this issue and take the necessary action:
“I’d like your help in resolving a problem at the recycling station on the corner of Warwick & Sutherland Avenues. The area is regularly used as a dumping ground. It’s unpleasant to walk through and the foxes have a field day at night. Notices above threatening fines seem to do nothing. Is CCTV an option?”
Travis Perkins site, Harrow Road
A planning application has been submitted for the Travis Perkins site proposing the demolition of the existing Travis Perkins buildings and erecting a building (plus basement) of between 7 and 22 storeys in height providing accommodation for 843 students. A new building for Travis Perkins’ builders’ merchants will be on the ground floor of the new building.
Residents have described the proposals as ‘gross overdevelopment’ and the Hyde Park Ward Labour Action Team has submitted an objection to the Council.
Over 75 letters of objection have already been sent to the Planning Officers.
You can make comments online at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/04536/FUL
Marble Arch Mound
Westminster Council has been forced to admit that its mismanaged Marble Arch Mound project is costing local taxpayers a massive £6million, three times the £2 million cost originally planned. The ruling Conservative Party’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Caplan, who spearheaded the project has now resigned after weeks of silence since the Mound first opened. We are calling for an independent inquiry into how and why the costs escalated and who was responsible for the gross mismanagement of this project.
According to the ‘Evening Standard’, “the £2m Marble Arch Mound has been branded London’s worst attraction. The unbelievably depressing picture gallery lets you see why from about 27 different angles – and will save you £4.50.”
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.
E-scooters – what you say
“I think the electric scooter trial is a good thing and we should be trying out all practical solutions to clean up London’s air, combat climate change and help everyone get to where they need to be. It will be interesting to see what the evidence collected in the trial shows about them and that is what policy should be guided by. Of course, all vehicles should be used in a way that is both legal and considerate to others, particularly pedestrians or those more vulnerable. Ensuring the street infrastructure is safe and comfortable (so people use it instead of the pavement), rider awareness through education campaigns, and proportionate and reasonable use of enforcement powers are likely key to making this a success for everyone.”
The Maida Vale councillor surgeries have started again after an enforced break due to Covid. You can come and meet us at the Café in Paddington Rec:
- First Saturday of the month at 10am
- Third Sunday of the month at 11am
No appointment needed
North Paddington Foodbank
If you are in need of emergency support, please contact your support worker or Westminster CAB for a referral, you will then be contacted by the food bank to arrange a delivery or collection. If you are struggling to access a referral or are concerned for someone you know, please call the food bank directly on 07932 623443.
The Foodbank is on the frontline helping more people than ever before in a very difficult situation. Please donate here
The Food Bank is in need of volunteers of all ages across all roles. From lunch hour delivery drivers to evening packers and daytime support. If you would like to find out more please get in touch at email@example.com
Paddington Waterways and Maida Vale Society
If you’re interested in the local area, please join PWMV. It publishes a regular newsletter and it’s free to join. https://w9w2.co.uk
If you see anyone sleeping rough, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Street Link. You can contact them 24 hours a day at www.streetlink.org.uk.
Voting by post
It is much easier, quicker and safer to vote by post. With a postal vote you have two weeks to cast your vote and can vote at home.
You can use this form to apply for a postal vote
You can email your completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Electoral Services, Westminster City Council, 14th Floor City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP.
You can read the ‘Westminster Extra’ online
Refuse collection and Recycling collection times
Recycling bags can be ordered from https://webforms.westminster.gov.uk/order-recycling-bags/
Bags will be delivered within approximately 48 hours of order.
You can check when refuse and recycling is collected from your street here http://transact.westminster.gov.uk/env/streetsearch.aspx
The doorstep recycling service concentrates on the recyclable materials most commonly produced by houses so that these can be easily separated into the different material types. The link below summarises what can be put in recycling bags
Lots of other materials can be recycled but not through the doorstep collection service. The A-Z list below gives details of what and where items can be recycled or re-used:
You can report dumped rubbish, broken street lights, graffiti and more using the Report It service https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
You can see the latest data for your area here
Westminster Council’s advice and response website:
Beware the Coronavirus scammers
What you say
“Many thanks as ever for a very useful Report and for all your hard work.”
“Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful action report as always. Hope you are all well and keep up the great work!”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Keep well, take care and look after yourselves and your neighbours.
Councillors Geoff Barraclough, Rita Begum and Nafsika Butler-Thalassis
Your Maida Vale Labour Councillors
You can read our news here
Iman Less, Murad Qureshi and Sue Wolff
Your Little Venice Labour Action Team
You can read our news here https://www.westminsterlabour.org.uk/your-ward/little-venice/