PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END LABOUR ACTION REPORT – September 2021
News from your Westminster Labour Councillors
NEWS AND ACTION
Lenthall House, Churchill Gardens
We have asked the Housing Department to fix a leak which has damaged two flats in Lenthall House. The Housing Department told us:
“Our engineers attended both flats. The job required moving some of the wall to be able to access the kitchen sink waste pipe. This was successfully replaced, and the wall fixed.”
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate this issue:
“Our Residents Association have for years been asking the Council to improve the pavements in Warwick Way. These are the 12″ square concrete pavings which are very uneven and cause problems for the hundreds of elderly residents living on Abbots Manor who have to go the local supermarkets on a daily basis.”
The Highways Team say:
“One of my Inspectors attended site and remedial works were issued for the trip hazards identified at the intervention levels. We will continue to monitor as required and issue any remedial action as appropriate.”
We have asked the Highways Team to investigate the drains and gullies in Guildhouse House after a resident contacted us following the recent flash floods.
We have asked the Planning Department to investigate allegations of unauthorized building works in Longmore Street.
Hugh Mews/Hugh Street
We have continued to support residents in their dealings with the Blue Cross Hospital over parking, early morning disturbance and littering in Hugh Mews.
After the Council spent £18 million on pedestrianizing the Aldwych, residents in Marconi House have written to us about the skateboarding park that has been constructed on the new pavement area.
“We have always supported the Aldwych pedestrianisation scheme. Just one week after its introduction a skateboard park is being erected right outside Marconi House. Westminster Council must have given consent for this which is outrageous. There is an irony here – just 3 years ago the same Council spent a great deal of money putting in physical barriers to prevent skateboarding in Montreal Place which is also next to Marconi House.”
We have asked the Council for an explanation and why there was no consultation with residents.
VINCENT SQUARE WARD
Gordon Hospital, Vincent Square
We are very concerned that the local NHS Trust is seeking to permanently close the Gordon Hospital in Vincent Square. This will create a severe shortage of community mental health beds in Westminster. The Gordon has been temporarily closed due to pressures of managing Covid-19 in an older building but it seems that the Trust’s proposed long-term solution is to provide no mental health beds in Westminster at all.
We are helping a resident in Gainsborough House with a long-standing housing issue.
We are helping residents of Vincent House who say:
“We are having terrible trouble with Ashburnham Mews. There is a side gate which is adjacent to Vincent House which are our flats. The gate is supposed to be permanently locked and not used by the public, only for services. The gate is broken and is constantly clanging, more than that, the flats are being rented out for all night parties, so we have a train of young men arriving at all hours of the night with back packs on.”
We have asked the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team and Short-Stay lettings Team to investigate and take the appropriate action.
Abbey Orchard Estate
Following our enquiries about long-term scaffolding on the Abbey Orchard Estate, Peabody have told us that “all external works have been completed and the scaffold has since been struck and the area cleared”.Residents say, “Many thanks for clarifying and sorting out our scaffolding issue.”
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!”
We are continuing to support residents in Marble Arch Apartments in Harrowby Street who are fighting proposals to make them pay for the upgrade of fire safety works necessitated by the addition of an extra storey of 8 flats on the roof of their building. Within the block there are 120 leaseholders and 350 residents who are affected.
Bryanston Square/George Street
Following our enquiries on behalf of residents about coach parking by Wetherby School, Planning Officers have told us:
“Residents are correct in saying that the school has committed to minimising the time coaches (for PE pick-ups) are parked on George Street. This is outlined in the approved travel plan. The original legal agreement dated 26 August 2009 requires the submission and implementation of a travel plan, and therefore the school is currently in breach of Schedule 1, Clause 1.2 of the legal agreement. I have passed this matter onto our Enforcement Team to take action.”
“In a very short time you have achieved results, let’s hope they work. Thank you for your very efficient handling of the problem.”
HYDE PARK WARD
Bayswater Road/Edgware Road
We have again written to BT to ask that they take immediate action to clean the bank of red phone boxes on the corner of Bayswater Road and Edgware Road, London W2. As residents say,
“These boxes are constantly full of dumped bedding and unbelievable rubbish and human excrement. Surely BT have a duty of care to regularly clean them, and in these Covid-19 times, to regularly sanitise them.”
BT tell us that they have cleaned the one working phone box but were unable to clean the others as they are being used to store bedding. We have asked the Housing Department to offer assistance to the homeless people who are using the phone boxes as somewhere to sleep.
Bathurst Street/Westbourne Street
We are continuing to urge the Council to take strong action against those responsible for dumping rubbish by the tree at the junction of Bathurst Street and Westbourne Street.
At the request of residents, we have continued to ask the Council to consider relocating the two benches at the corner of Southwick Street and Star Street. Residents say the benches attract anti-social activity at night as well as litter and rubbish dumping.
We have also asked the Highways Team to clear the blocked gully outside 40 Southwick Street and to check the health of the tree outside 38 Southwick Street.
We have been contacted by residents in Star Street who say, “We’ve had to put up with five years of that horrid scaffolding on Cambridge Court! Do you know anything about it and could you pressure the owners of the building to remove it faster!”
We have written to the developers of this site to urge a speedy end to the work. They say:
“We apologise for the years the scaffold has been in place. The delay started about 5 years ago when after it being erected the scaffold we detected a major fault in the building. This took over 9 months to rectify. We then had the problem of the main contractor going into liquidation about 20 months ago. We are now pleased to inform you the development is almost complete and the Star Street scaffold will be removed in the next few weeks.”
We will be watching closely to ensure that the developers keep to their word.
Demolition of The Chapel public House
We are supporting residents in Wallace Court and 38-47a Chapel Street who have objected to proposals to demolish The Chapel and replace it with a 7-storey hotel. You can read our letter to the Council’s Planning Officer is here https://www.westminsterlabour.org.uk/ward-news/2021/08/20/action-team-supports-residents-objection-to-the-demolition-of-the-chapel-and-development-of-a-7-storey-hotel/
Rubbish outside 38-47A Chapel Street
We have continued to urge the Council to take strong action against those responsible for dumping rubbish outside 38-47a Chapel Street.
Late night noise in Sheldon Square
At the request of Sheldon Square residents, we have written to the Paddington Central management about the regular late-night noise from patrons of the bars and restaurants below them. Residents’ sleep is regularly disrupted after midnight by shouting and loud noise from bar and restaurant patrons who congregate outside and do not leave for some time. This is very annoying for residents, particularly those who get up for work early in the morning. We have asked Paddington Central to initiate the following:
- Displaying prominent signs around Sheldon Square alerting visitors that this is also a residential area and that visitors should keep their voices down after 10pm.
- Urging each hospitality establishment to display similar prominent signs within their premises and on menus
- Initiate regular patrols by Paddington Central security staff at closing time to encourage visitors to leave speedily and quietly
Travis Perkins site, Harrow Road
We are continuing to urge residents to send their comments to the Council on the planning application submitted for the Travis Perkins site. The plans propose the demolition of the existing Travis Perkins buildings and erecting a building of between 7 and 22 storeys in height providing accommodation for 843 students. A new Travis Perkins’ builders’ merchants will be on the ground floor of the new building.
Sheldon Square residents have described the proposals as ‘gross overdevelopment’ and we have submitted an objection to the Council.
We have also written to the Mayor of London urging him not to approve the plans.
So far, over 75 objections have been made to these proposals. You can make comments online at https://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/ using reference 21/04536/FULL
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
The Council is considering creating a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to help deal with persistent anti-social behaviour caused by the excessive level of noise, nuisance, annoyance, danger or risk of harm or injury caused by motor vehicles to members of the public and property in St James’s and Knightsbridge & Belgravia wards. We have asked for the PSPO to be extend to the West End, Hyde Park Ward and Marylebone.
The Council is seeking the views from residents, businesses and other stakeholders. The consultation will be open until 29 September 2021 and you can complete the survey here https://www.westminster.gov.uk/nuisance-vehicles-public-spaces-protection-order-2021
E-Scooter hire trial
Transport for London is holding an e-scooter hire trial over the coming months. If you have any comments on the trial, please contact TfL by email at email@example.com.
E-scooters – what you say
“Strongly object to e-scooters in Soho. Streets are too narrow; pedestrians are already having to dodge bikes and motorbikes riding on pavements. Adding e-scooters to this is an accident waiting to happen. Of course, they are not allowed on the pavements. But that does not stop them. And there are no sanctions for riding on the pavement. Police do not have resources for this and it is almost impossible to take down ID as one is busy avoiding being run over.”
The Westminster Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network of Foodbanks. The foodbank provides nutritionally balanced non-perishable food to residents in Westminster experiencing financial crisis through a referral system. The foodbank is currently operating an Appointment Only Collection Service. Clients can be referred by one of the following agencies:
- Westminster Citizens Advice Bureau: 0300 330 1191 (freephone – 0808 278 7834)
- The Cardinal Hume Centre, (Pimlico): Tel: 020 7227 1673
- Local Support Payments: Tel: 020 7745 6464.
Grants available for people affected by flooding
One Westminster has raised funds to support Westminster residents affected by the floods. Grants of up to £200 are available. If you have been affected by the floods and want to apply for a grant contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting by post
It is much easier, quicker and safer to vote by post. 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.
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 report dumped rubbish, broken pavements, defective street lights and more on 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
We received this message from a resident:
“My partner is down with Covid and my mother’s PCR test came back as positive but, luckily, she is currently symptom free. Within 24 hours she had a call from someone at Westminster checking how she was which I am really impressed by – particularly as there are many who must love alone.”
You can read the ‘Westminster Extra’ on-line
What you say
“Many thanks for another newsletter covering so many issues which have received an immediate and effective response. Much appreciated for all this great work continuing steadily month by month.”
“Thank you, and keep up the good work”
“Many thanks for your help regarding Coburg Close”
“Another good issue, thank you!”
“I have read the latest Labour Team newsletter, with all the usual admiration and gratitude for the work that has been and is being done on behalf of residents. I really do not know what we would do without the help of the Labour Team.”
“Thank you for the action report and your representation. Also, for keeping the overuse of police helicopters a live issue. Thank you also to Sadiq Khan for asking for face masks to be worn on the underground and buses.”
“Thank you for including my complaint re Wetherby’s coaches parking in George Street. This is the first positive reaction I have had to my well warranted complaint and I do hope that there will be positive results”.
“Thank you for all the help you have given me”
“I am telling everyone to vote for you at the next election as it seems you are the only one doing anything helpful for “the people”, well done and thank you again.”
“Thank you for trying to do something about helicopter noise.”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Please feel free to pass this report to your neighbours. If you know of anyone else who might like to receive this report, please send them this sign-up link https://bit.ly/labour-news
Please keep safe, stay well and look after yourself and your neighbours.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour City Management spokesperson
Westminster City Council
Your Labour Councillors can be contacted as follows
Churchill Ward – For details of ways to contact Councillor Liza Begum and Councillor Shamim Talukder, please see the Churchill Labour website
West End Ward – You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone.