WESTBOURNE WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – November 2021
News from Councillors David Boothroyd, Adam Hug and Papya Qureshi and Angela Piddock
Marble Arch Mound Madness
Westminster became an international laughing stock in recent months as it wasted £6 million of taxpayers’ money on the failed Marble Arch Mound. This 6 month temporary project was originally due to recoup its initial £2m cost through ticket sales and sponsorship. However when the Mound opened to the public it was a complete mess, called a ‘slag heap’ and ‘London’s Worst Attraction’ in the press, so potential sponsors pulled out and the council had to scrap plans to charge for entry.
The Conservative Deputy Leader was forced to resign when the council admitted that the costs had ballooned to over £6m- equivalent to 20,000 new laptops for Westminster’s school children. The Council has refused Labour’s call for an independent inquiry to learn lessons, but has embarrassingly had to scrap plans to spend £10m on other ‘temporary’ works at Oxford Circus. The Council’s internal review found that the spending ballooned without any Conservative politician asking what was going on with the money or raising any questions about the sorry state of the mound, even when the Conservative group had a drinks party on it three days before it opened.
The council clearly needs to get its house in order before they spend more taxpayers money, including the £150m it has planned for the rest of Oxford Street. The mound debacle highlights the incompetence and arrogance of a Conservative administration that has been in power for far too long.
Harrow Road and nearby streets
Westminster Council is struggling to keep our streets clean, with staffing shortages at Veolia and city inspectors having taken the impact of council cuts. Labour councillors have been working to tackle dumping in the hotspot between Marylands Road, Harrow Road and Sutherland Avenue, as well as behind Oldbury House (where trade waste is frequently a problem). We have asked the council to look again at this ongoing problem by seeing if collection times need amending and checking again that all commercial premises have proper arrangements for their waste. We are urging BT to take action on abandoned phone boxes across the ward, for graffiti removal that is building up on unused premises and for the council to commit to wash streets in key spots that have been neglected for too long. More broadly, we are calling for greater fines for dumpers, targeted use of mobile CCTV at hotspots and improved street design.
Housing services under strain
Westminster’s housing services are struggling to cope with a backlog of repairs and delays to major works, and the Conservative council has taken its eye off the ball. The long-promised hiring of more local housing officers still seems delayed at until Christmas at least and we are calling on the council to get on with it.
In the latest example of Westminster’s Conservative Council losing their grip, the average cost of leaseholder charges in Westbourne have risen rise by 7.5% over the council’s original estimates, exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis. The rise has been driven by increased costs of council bureaucracy including a doubling of contract management costs.
Transform the canalside for walkers and cyclists
We with local people that Grand Union Canal is one of the best parts of living in north Westminster, but it has long been neglected. Things are slowly changing thanks to financial backing from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth to help make change in the area. We are calling for the council to work with the Canal and Rivers Trust to invest in lighting, making it safer at night, and to transform the Delamere Terrace canalside to create more room for walking and cycling and take cyclists off the road.
Westminster Council dragged their feet on delivering long promised school streets, which would remove cars from in front of ARK Atwood Academy Primary School, St Mary Magdalene’s Primary School and St Mary’s of the Angel RC Primary School at children’s drop-off and pick-up times. Once promised for the start of the summer term, they were only introduced after the October half-term. However, Westminster have definitely wasted time in this recent months that they should have used consulting local residents to iron out any potential problems beforehand. Residents were only informed with a week to go and we have had to push the council to take emergency action to ensure those parked on Downfield Close and Aldsworth Close are able to get out of the estate (with the school street covering their only current exit).
300 Harrow Road Construction site
Ever since major construction has begun on this site, a number of different residents living around it have told us that they are suffering constant noise and intense vibrations from the drilling. We have repeatedly contacted the council team in charge of the development about it. It may be impossible to stop all noise but it may help if the most disruptive work was confined to set times.
We are still getting a lot of residents contacting us about unresolved repairs in their properties, particularly WCC tenants. A lot of ongoing issues with property maintenance have been exacerbated by the heavy rains this year and residents are suffering from poor roofing repairs or issues with blocked drains flooding into their kitchens. We understand there are also delays getting appointments with contractors. If you have been affected we would like to hear about your experiences and see if we can help.
Rubbish at Wilmcote House
A resident has informed us that there is an ongoing problem with rubbish being thrown from the upper floors of the block. This has included glass bottles which is extremely dangerous. We contacted the council who have now sent a letter to residents to try and deter this behaviour.
Al fresco seating at Marylands Road
We have been working with Flora Fine Wines and Tsiakkos & Charcoal to support their efforts to find ways to reopen the al fresco seating on Marylands Road which has been popular with many residents. Unfortunately, the initial use has come to an end due to the removal of al fresco measures across Westminster, however we have asked the Council’s Harrow Road Place Team to look at permanent options for this area, after a local consultation.
We have been working with Wessex Gardens residents around issues of anti-social behaviour, blocked pipes and pharaoh ants which the council are struggling to solve, and supporting efforts to restart the local residents association. The new residents’ association has held its first meeting, attended by your local councillors, and at a follow up meeting elected a new committee formally reconstitute the RA. We attended the meeting to give it our backing and make sure the council recognise it. They will be getting more active to put pressure on the council to fix the estate’s problems.
We have been working with the Notting Hill East Neighbourhood Forum around plans to improve Shrewsbury Gardens. Things are moving forwards and councillors are offering assistance connecting people together and are offering support from the ward budget to assist.
We have also alerted the council that the recycling bins on the corner of Shrewsbury Road and Talbot Road are often overflowing and large household items are being dumped next to them. The council is checking how often they are emptied and urge residents to report any dumping promptly.
We have been pushing the council to improve security at this building after residents have raised concerns with us. We are asking for them to replace the communal door and add CCTV and improve lighting.
Notting Hill Genesis
We are continuing to support residents by monitoring the maintenance work and costs for leaseholders.
Along with Labour colleagues in Harrow Road and Queens Park wards the Westbourne Councillors funded half-term activities for kids including the marvellous Lego Disco and especially for this time of the year the Halloween Horror Hall, which were well attended.
Have your say on plans to redevelop the St Mungo’s Hostel at 217-222 Harrow Road through the Westminster Council Planning portal (https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/) using reference code 21/06475/FULL. The scheme offers to make the area look smarter, providing new commercial premises whilst improving conditions at the hostel (replacing 41 bed spaces with 45 larger self-contained units), however the scheme will also create a 20 story tower and only a limited number of genuinely affordable new homes.
We have asked councillors in Kensington and Chelsea to look into the possibility of more lighting in the gardens so local walkers can feel safer as the nights draw in.
Westbourne Park Road
We asked for the broken and overflowing litter bins outside the tube station to be replaced. We have also asked the council to enquire about getting the broken phone boxes in the area removed.
Alfred Road playground
We asked for the gardeners to tidy up the area opposite that lies between the Harbour Club and the football pitches and they have taken action. We have also asked the council to clean up the playground next to the Academy, they have taken initial action by removing litter but need to do more by weeding and removing graffiti.
Green New Deal for Westminster
We have launched a Green New Deal for Westminster which sets out a clear, ambitious agenda to achieve the change we desperately need. Key measures include:
- Appointing a Cabinet Member with responsibility for climate action. This will be pivotal to driving change from day one of a Labour Council.
- Implementing a Net Zero Test for all decisions to assess the climate impact of decisions made, and a sustainable approach to procurement.
- Seeking to refurbish first, rather than demolish, putting real emissions standards on all developments, and retrofitting our existing housing.
- Driving a green recovery and a just transition, with a Local Climate Bond for investments in our neighbourhoods, a focus on green jobs, and training available to all.
- Starting recovery in the streets, with a commitment to 15-minute neighbourhoods, new tree planting, and high streets that attract customers with active travel infrastructure.
In the spirit of working collaboratively with others we are keen to hear from residents, experts, and other stakeholders about how to develop and build on this plan. So please do get in touch with us to share your thoughts.
You can keep an eye on the latest local crime information through the Met Police website:
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
You can tell the Council about dumped rubbish, broken street lights, graffiti and more by using Report It https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
Voting by post
It is much easier, quicker and safer to vote by post. You have two weeks in which to cast your vote and you can vote at home. You can use this form to apply for a postal vote
You can email your completed form to email@example.com or post it to Electoral Services, Westminster City Council, 14th Floor City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP.
If you see anyone sleeping rough, please contact Street Link who are able offer help and assistance. You can contact Street Link 24 hours a day at www.streetlink.org.uk.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
You can see the latest data for your area here
Please let us know if we can ever be of help or assistance.
Councillors David Boothroyd, Adam Hug and Papya Qureshi
Your three Westbourne Ward Labour Councillors – Here to Help, All Year Round
You contact Adam, Papya and David by email or telephone.