Queen’s Park Summer Festival – This Saturday 2nd August, 12pm-6pm


The hugely popular Queen’s Park Summer Festival is taking place on Saturday 2nd August, from 12-6pm, in Queen’s Park Gardens, Ilbert Street. This long standing community event is now in its eleventh year and brings together residents and key local partners to deliver a free community event that is well attended by the cross section of the local community.

The main stage will host a showcase of local talent and professional acts ranging from live music and poetry to rap and dance. The main stage is hosted by the new Community Council and their volunteers who work with local young people to manage the stage, host the showcase and recruit talent from the area. Auditions will be held to identify acts and support them in the run up to the event. Some paid professional acts also perform to reflect the diverse nature of the Queen’s Park community. The natural amphitheatre in which the show takes place makes this a beautiful venue.

In the playground area there will be face painters, entertainers and fun activities for supervised children with QP Library offering arts and crafts and QP Children’s Centre also having a stall. Westminster Sports Unit will be running a range of village fete type games such as egg tossing, beat the goalie, football skills, relay races, soft javelin throwing and a table tennis competition.

Elsewhere in the park a dedicated Wellbeing Zone will be hosted by the Community Champion volunteers and packed with treats including pedal powered smoothies, taster sessions of local affordable physical activities, and sporting activities from Active Westminster, massage, recycling and food growing stalls. The older people’s area run by Open Age and City West Homes will provide the perfect place for elderly visitors to find a moment of calm amongst the sea of exhibitions and competitions with afternoon tea and entertainment.

This year the coordinators have decided to offer an even more musically diverse setting by introducing the first ever live acoustic zone which will showcase a wider range of professional and up-and-coming talent, many of whom are award winning singers and songwriters, this is in partnership with Maida Hill. The event is part-funded by the Councillors’ Ward Budget.

Posted in Queen's Park, Queen's Park Community Council, Queen's Park Festival, Westminster North | Leave a comment

Maida Vale Councillor Rita Begum calls for additional bike-hire docking stations in the Maida Vale area


Maida Vale Councillor Rita Begum has started an on-line petition calling for additional bike-hire docking stations in the Maida Vale area.

Her petitions reads;

“We the undersigned call on Westminster Council to urge the Mayor of London & TFL to locate additional docking stations for the bike hire scheme in the Maida Vale area beyond Warwick Avenue, so that residents of Maida Vale can use the bikes from their neighbourhood”

You can sign the petition here http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/Maidavalebike/

Posted in Bike Hire Stations, Cyclists, Maida Vale, Rita Begum, Westminster North | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Independent report calls for more social housing and more mixed tenure developments in Westminster

An independent report on ‘The Prime Residential Market in Westminster’ by Ramidus Consulting Ltd calls on Westminster Council to build more homes for low and middle income residents, create more mixed tenure developments and do more to tackle the problem of vacant property.

The Ramidus report’s recommendations call on the Council to;

• Deliver, where possible, public sector rented homes for local people and shared ownership homes for local key workers within the borough.
• Westminster should, wherever possible, seek to retain Affordable Housing on site, in order to create and preserve mixed and balanced communities. It should also consider a tiered mechanism for negotiating Affordable Housing provision to reflect land value.
• There is no official source for data showing the extent of wholly or periodically vacant properties. Westminster should initiate a process to collect more accurate data either through Council Tax returns or periodic survey work.

Labour Councillors say that these key recommendations by Ramidus should not be crowded out by the facts and figures of the relatively small prime and super-prime housing market. Labour say that Westminster Council is currently failing on all three fronts identified by Ramidus;

• Not enough social housing is being built to help the 2,000 families in temporary accommodation or those Council tenants in overcrowded conditions. Earlier this week research by specialist fund and asset managers London Central Portfolio revealed that in 2013 40 per cent of new build homes in Westminster were sold to buy-to-let investors.
• The Council regularly fails to ensure that new developments include on-site affordable housing. For example, in June the Council gave permission for the redevelopment of the Canadian High Commission building in Mayfair to provide 41 luxury apartments which contains no affordable housing but will include a gym, swimming pool, banqueting suite and 53 parking spaces. The owners say that on-site provision of affordable housing is unviable and a search for suitable donor sites has been unsuccessful. Instead a financial contribution will be made to the Council to provide affordable housing elsewhere.
• Westminster is one of the few Councils in London which fails to charge the increased Council Tax for properties that have been empty for more than two years. There are an estimated 3,000 empty properties in Westminster.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“The key housing challenge in Westminster is to provide more social housing and shared ownership housing so that people have somewhere locally to live that they can afford. The super-rich have always flocked to Westminster but they should not drive housing policy and we have no need to be grateful to them for buying expensive property in Mayfair and Belgravia.”

“The Council cannot stop the impact of global capitalism on Westminster but residents want some leadership and action from the Council to provide the homes for local people in need. Sadly, we are getting neither from Westminster Conservatives who have allowed prime and super-prime housing to crowd out the housing needs of local people”

See a copy of the report here


Posted in Affordable Housing, Belgravia, Buy to let, Empty Property, House building, Housing, Luxury Housing, Private rented housing, Social Housing, Super Prime Housing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

40 per cent of new build homes in Westminster sold to buy-to-let investors

Last year saw 40 per cent of new build homes in Westminster sold to buy-to-let investors, while 52 per cent went the way of buy-to-let investors in Kensington and Chelsea, according to research by specialist fund and asset managers London Central Portfolio.

Last year in London 46 per cent of all new build accommodation built was bought up by the buy-to-let market.

Research by London Central Portfolio shows that £1.2 billion in new build accommodation has been sold in the capital so far this year.

The sales mirror data from the 2011 census which shows 50 per cent of all privately owned units in central London are let out.

LCP notes that whilst the number of new units available to buy in central London is tiny – there have only been 77 new build sales this year – it is a different story elsewhere in inner London.

In Wandsworth there are 14,306 units in the pipeline. Meanwhile, between them Tower Hamlets and Southwark have 33,646 units in their development pipeline.

Posted in Buy to let, House building, Housing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Update on North Paddington Foodbank

FoodBankNorth Pad

The North Paddington Foodbank serves wards in North Westminster. These include Harrow Road, Queen’s Park, Westbourne, Church Street, Little Venice, Maida Vale, Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Wards.

In Westminster an increasing number of people have difficulties in paying for their basic needs. Other needs may take up all finances, leaving nothing for food. This is a dire situation, especially if one is supporting a family.

The North Paddington Foodbank is there to help. With cash and food donations from businesses and ordinary people, the food bank provides a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in North Paddington.

We operate through a voucher system in partnership with local services (Voucher Issuing Organisations). These include GP’s, Westminster Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Social Landlords, Health Services, North Westminster Drug & Alcohol Services, Westminster Children’s Services, Westbourne Baptist Church, other local churches and schools.
The Voucher Issuing Organisations issue food vouchers to people and families in need of short term emergency food which are redeemed at the Foodbank.

For more information visit http://www.wech.co.uk/resident-here-to-help/groups-support-for-kids-disabled-women-and-more/north-paddington-foodbank.html

Posted in Cost of Living, Foodbank, North Paddington, North Paddington Foodbank, Paddington, Voluntary groups | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Call to Health Trust to reverse plans to close Soho Square General Practice

Labour Councillors are calling on Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust to reverse its decision to close the Soho Square General Practice. In a letter to the Trust Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg writes;

“The surgery’s imminent closure in September is of deep concern to local residents. As you know the surgery has over 4,500 patients and is a valuable asset to the community. Many patients who attend this surgery have serious illnesses, and many are elderly. For these patients the prospect of relocating to another surgery, with doctors whom they not familiar is a very difficult and daunting task which could cause a serve amount of stress.

A resident who contacted me has an illness which means she is home bound and cannot attend the surgery for appointments. The two doctors at Soho Square General Practice currently make home visits, however it is very unlikely that another surgery will cater for this. There are also concerns with patients not being able to attend the new surgeries to register with them, therefore being left without a doctor.

These concerns are made even more severe when you take into account the Chinese community that this surgery serves. Many of these patients do not speak English as a first language and having doctors who speak Chinese and Mandarin at the surgery is a lifeline for many people within the community.

I have been informed that residents were not consulted on the closure of this surgery and many have not been formally written to, having to hear the news through the local press. The impact of the surgeries closure on local people will be extensive and the fact local patients have not been able to put forward their views is a total disgrace.

Following this letter I would be grateful if you could get back to me explaining your decision to close the surgery, and outlining what you will be doing to help the many patients badly affected by this closure.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Opposition
Queen’s Park Ward

Posted in Health, NHS, Soho, West End | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Karen Buck MP starts survey to ask residents for their views on short term lets

The government is making it easier for householders to rent their properties out for up to 90 days without needing permission.

Although this is intended to free people up to do holiday home-swaps or earn some extra money by letting out their homes for the summer, many people are concerned that this could lead to more problems in areas like Westminster.

These problems include:

• Reducing the stock of homes for people who need somewhere to live.
• Making neighbourhoods less stable and undermining communities.
• Generating noise, rubbish and nuisance for residents in blocks or streets where there is a lot of short-term letting.
• Making it more difficult and expensive for Councils like Westminster to enforce the law.

Karen Buck MP has started a survey to find out what local residents think. You can complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2QN28KZ

Posted in Housing, Karen Buck MP, Private rented housing, Short term lets | Tagged | Leave a comment