WEST END WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT _ September 2021
News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jess Toale
West End Councillor Pancho Lewis, alongside West End Action Team members Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jessica Toale and have 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
Al Fresco dining – what residents say
We have written to Westminster Council’s Business Chief Matthew Green urging him to intervene to ensure the needs of residents and hospitality businesses are appropriately balanced in Soho. This follows numerous complaints received by Soho Councillor Pancho Lewis. Residents have raised a number of concerns about the mismanagement of the Council’s covid al fresco scheme, particularly with regards to noise levels.
West End Labour Action Team member, Patrick Lilley is quoted in an Observer article about the impact of al fresco dining in Soho. The article reports, “Not everyone is happy. In Soho, residents say alfresco dining and drinking has disrupted access and created intolerable noise. People who have lived there for decades are considering leaving, according to the Soho Society.” Patrick says, “We want Soho to prosper but we’d like alfresco to be temporary and well-managed,”
Al Fresco dining – what restaurants say
Restaurants and bars in Soho say they are struggling with a drop in trade after the Council banned outdoor parasols, gazebos and heaters. Hospitality operators have asked the Council to reverse the decision so that customers are able to sit outdoors in wet weather or be shaded from the sun.
Leisha Parlour and Takudzwa Chigadurondalone, two recent graduates, are the latest winners of the Shaftesbury and London College of Fashion scheme which supports emerging British tailors. They receive mentoring, support & free studio space in Kingly Street buff.ly/3g0SC58
Great Titchfield Street
We continue to receive notification of missed rubbish collection by residents on Great Titchfield Street. We regularly report this to the City Inspector team.
We have again asked the Housing Department to take action against those residents in Holcroft Court who are responsible for the regular anti-social behaviour. We have also asked the Police to investigate reports of regular drug use and dealing in the common parts of Holcroft Court.
Residents living in north Mayfair, next to Bond Street station, have written to us about the following. It follows the introduction of a scheme to regulate busking that the Action Team successfully lobbied for.
“When [the busker regulation scheme] came in, in April this year, buskers were being eased into the new regime gently by council staff. The Licensing regime was explained to them, and no punitive action was taken as far as I know. Now some buskers are realising that there are very few Busking Team members, and that they can get away with busking for quite a while before someone comes along to move them on.”
We raised this with the Council who say:
“We have 4 City Inspectors dedicated to managing this on the street, working in pairs. They are assisted by the duty team when required. We also bring in extra resource on a late shift on a Saturday to help manage the scheme.
While we did have some issues with the online reporting system at the start of the scheme these are now resolved and any reports are directly picked up by the team on their mobile device.”
Leconfield House, Curzon Street
In August, an application to convert Leconfield House on Curzon Street, which is currently an office, into a private members’ hotel was discussion at the Planning Committee. In addition, the application sought to dig three basement levels down – something we all know causes huge disruption. The West End Labour Action Team wrote to oppose the scheme. It went to Committee previously where it was approved – it was then brought back to committee following publication of the new City Plan where it was rejected.
“Thank you for your email and for all your help in achieving this result. We at Chesterfield House are very grateful. So many London residents have suffered in the past with excessive basement excavations like this that it is good to know the City Plan is now there to help us curtail them.”
The future of Oxford Street
Mike Dunn, Chair of the Mayfair Residents Group has written:
“Between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus, we now have: 11 Candy stores, 5 cheap souvenir stores and 10 empty units. This does not sit well with the image of the nation’s premier shopping street. Rather the opposite, and the situation has now got worse with the announced closure of all Gap stores. What is next? Surely first of all rid the street of these Candy stores and cheap souvenir shops and give the public a real reason to come back to Oxford Street.”
Architects and designers have reacted with dismay to the news that the 1060s French Railways House on Piccadilly, which once acted as the headquarters of French national rail network SNCF, will be demolished to make way for a new office development.
We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate allegations of unauthorised awnings and doors on Blenheim Street.
The Gentle Author writes about where Handel and Hendrix were neighbours
Grosvenor Square – what you say
“Have you seen the plans by Grosvenor to re-design Grosvenor Square – it’s full of little circular areas with bushes and trees – absolutely ideal for muggers? Keep the open plan landscape – it’s much better!”
Marble Arch Mound
The Marble Arch Mound fiasco continues with this latest article highlighting the Council’s failures
Westminster residents’ groups have issued a scathing response to the Council’s £6 million Mound fiasco and the lack of meaningful consultation on major projects.
Following the Council’s admission that its Marble Arch Mound project is costing local taxpayers a massive £6million, three times the £2 million cost originally planned, we called for an independent Inquiry into how and why the costs escalated and who was responsible for the gross mismanagement of this project. Sadly, the Council has refused to hold an independent Inquiry and will be conducting an internal ‘inquiry’.
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 identified many ways in which the £6 million could have been spent to benefit local residents