Westminster Labour’s 2018 Council Election Manifesto

After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years of Conservative cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable.

The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.

Labour has a credible alternative plan that can be delivered today despite the damage being done by the current government. Our communities are calling out for change, and in this manifesto Labour sets out a vision for how things could be run differently, how we will deliver a Westminster for the many not the few if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd 2018.



Posted in Adam Hug, Karen Buck MP, Labour Councillors, Labour Manifesto 2018, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Westminster Labour promises active support to build a successful local economy

The Westminster economy is one of the most successful in Europe and a Labour Council will ensure that this success continues and that more local residents and small businesses share in the fruits of this economic success.

It is vital that the Council plays a positive role in ensuring that Westminster’s retail, design, creative, fashion, tech, hospitality and SME sectors continue to thrive and provide long term and rewarding career opportunities for local residents. In addition, Westminster’s development industry needs the skills necessary to construct new homes and business premises through skilled construction workers, bricklayers, plumbers, electricians and plasterers.

Our key pledges are:

  • Labour will continue to call on the Government to allow Westminster to retain a greater proportion of the £1.8 billion in business rates it currently pays to the Exchequer (currently it retains only 4%).Westminster residents must be able to benefit from new business rate growth if new development is going to benefit our City overall.
  • We will introduce a business rates incentive scheme to encourage small businesses to adopt the London Living Wage.
  • We will look at ways in which Council rents for small businesses can be kept at manageable levels.
  • We will work with major private landlords to seek a more sustainable approach to rent setting to support local shops and restaurants.
  • We will examine opportunities to support independent shops through small grant funding and loans.
  • We will reform the way in which apprenticeships are provided by the Council, its contractors and major partners so that schemes benefit more local young people.
  • We will work with local Colleges and training providers to expand opportunities for training in the skills needed locally
  • All Council and contractor jobs will be advertised in local job centres and through supported employment providers in Westminster.
  • We will introduce a community benefit approach to make it easier for local small businesses to work with the Council
  • We will require developers to employ local people and provide apprenticeships as part of Section 106 agreements.
  • We will call for a public inquiry into BT Openreach’s failure to provide superfast broadband in many areas of Westminster and ensure the council does all it can to facilitate access to it.
  • We will work with the Greater London Mutual Bank and others to help our SME’s get access to finance.
  • We will work with local partners to improve the training and skills of local people to take advantages of job opportunities across Westminster.
  • We will push Council contractors further to provide local jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for Westminster residents.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Business and Public Realm spokesperson, said:

“We want to widen opportunities for local residents to get jobs and training in many of the leading business in Westminster. We will work with the New West End Company and other organisations to create new training and job opportunities.

With success comes intense pressure on small independent business as rents rise and costs increase. We want to retain the best of our small business sector and will work hard to create opportunities to enable them to stay in Westminster.”

Posted in Business Support, Labour Councillors, Local banks, Local businesses, London Living Wage, Minimum Wage, Social Enterprise | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

KEY PLEDGE: Westminster Labour will fight for fairness in our communities by supporting the London Living Wage and defending the rights of our EU Citizens

If elected on May 3rd Labour will commit the council to paying the London Living Wage not only to its directly employed staff but also to any future contractors. Under Labour Westminster would seek accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation to provide reassurance that our pledges had been met. We would also sign-up to sector specific agreements, such as the Unison Ethical Care Charter, to help improve working practices across the council and further enshrine our commitment to fair pay. Labour is committed to fair pay not only because it the right thing to do for our workers but because it can help to improve the quality of our public services that our staff deliver.

Labour would introduce a business rates incentive scheme to encourage at least 500 small businesses in Westminster each year to adopt the London Living Wage. Labour would reform the council’s procurement procedures to help support local businesses paying the living wage and we will work with trade unions and community groups to find ways to use the council’s publicity to promote local firms who are treating their staff fairly.

Westminster’s EU Citizens are facing an uncertain future as the Conservatives push for a hard Brexit. If elected in May Labour would fight to support our EU Citizen residents at this difficult time by expanding advice and legal support services. This will build on existing work but with greater access to specialist legal support and wider access to support services. Under Labour the council would play an active role in challenging the government’s attempts to weaken EU citizens’ rights and demand that all their existing rights are retained in the future. Labour would make further efforts to publicly show that EU citizens are not only welcome but a vital part of our city. We will appoint a Council champion for the issues facing EU nationals and create a working group of local residents from the EU 27 to help address future issues.

Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour will fight for a fairer Westminster if elected in May by committing to the living wage and increasing support for our EU citizens. Our commitment to fair pay for council staff and contractors will not only help us improve the lives of Westminster’s low paid but it will help improve the quality of the services provided to residents.”

Labour Council Candidate for Maida Vale and EU Citizen Nafsika Butler-Thalassis said “EU Nationals, like myself, need to have a say on the problems Brexit is causing, which are affecting us, our families and our communities. A Labour council will champion EU nationals during this difficult time, and fight the government’s attempts to take away our rights.”

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Westminster Labour call for further action on fire safety

Ahead of the council elections in May Westminster Labour are setting out their plans for further action on fire safety and calling for reassurance on fire doors.

Westminster Council is currently planning a review of all communal fire doors and 10% of flat fire doors, due to take place from April to July this year. Given concerns in the wake of the revelations that the fire doors in Grenfell resisted the fire for less than half the time expected Westminster Labour Leader Cllr Adam Hug has written to the Council urging them to speed up the planned investigation and to check CityWest’s procurement records to identify any use of the Masterdor fire doors that failed in Grenfell, in order to help give residents peace of mind.

Cllr Hug had previously drawn national attention to the scandalous failure of the Conservative Government to pay for fire safety measures across the country. If elected in May Labour will continue to put pressure on the Government to contribute its fair share, albeit without delaying necessary action.

The government has also failed to provide legal clarity over how leasehold properties should be dealt with in relation to the installation of sprinklers and the extent to which public funds can be used to cover their costs. Westminster Labour will continue to push for the council to be able to assist leaseholders to cover the costs of sprinkler installation.

The timetable for the re-cladding process from the Warwick and Brindley Estate towers has slipped again. After initial delays in starting work on site last year some residents will now have to wait until the autumn due to a combination of procurement delays and the complexity of the work.

Further work also needs to be done in conjunction with the fire-brigade and other agencies to ensure privately-owned and housing association blocks are taking the necessary action to keep their residents safe.

Cllr Adam Hug said:

“If elected on May 3rd Labour will continue to focus Council efforts to address outstanding safety concerns. We will push for the fire door inspections and cladding restoration to be completed as quickly as possible and work to deliver a clear plan for sprinkler installation.”

Labour candidate for Little Venice Murad Qureshi said:

“After hearing that the Met Police probe found the Grenfell Tower doors “resistance for fire was for half the time expected” l am very concerned that the fire doors across all the Towers in the City of Westminster like Hall, Braithwaite, Parsons and Stuart Towers in Little Venice will not give the residents the safety reassurances they need. We need immediate action taken to reassure all residents living in our towers across the city that their safety is our paramount concern and a Labour administration at Westminster City Hall will make sure of this.” 

Posted in City West Homes, Fire Brigade, Fire Safety, Labour Councillors, Murad Qureshi, Tower blocks | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Labour would use the Council’s planning powers to help protect Soho and Chinatown

Labour is deeply concerned that some of Westminster’s most iconic areas are under threat and that action needs to be taken by the council to help protect them. Soho has fallen victim to over-development, pressures from Crossrail, rising rents and the encroachment of global high street. If action is not taken now to save it, what makes these areas unique may be lost for ever. Similarly Chinatown is facing similar encroachment and pressure from rising rents.

Labour will look at the use of the council’s planning powers to help protect these iconic parts of Westminster. It will look to use the ‘Special Policy Area’ powers it has to protect Soho and Chinatown as the Council has currently done for other parts of the city.

For example in the most recent revisions to Westminster’s City Plan in November 2016 the Conservative Council created a special policy area (CM 2.4) that seeks to protect parts of St James as “a centre of aristocracy and prestige” by introducing special protections for its private members’ clubs. The policy framework does contain important protections for medical facilities on Harley Street, tailoring in Savile Row, galleries and antiques in Mayfair and institutional uses on Portland Place.

Beyond the planning system if elected Labour will work to minimise the impact of the proposed Crossrail 2 on Soho, including fighting to protect the well-loved Curzon Soho cinema. We would also work proactively with major landowners to address the rent crisis.

Westminster Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said

“If the Council can provide special planning protection for elite private members clubs it can surely find a way to protect the live-music venues, LGBTI Community venues and other small businesses that keep Soho vibrant and interesting. It can also find a way to support the Chinese Community to protect the unique nature of Chinatown. If elected in May Labour will work to put such protections into the Council’s revision of the City Plan while taking further action on rent rises and over-development.”

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Westminster Labour call for public inquiry into BT’s failure to provide super fast broadband in the West End, St John’s Wood and across Westminster

Westminster Labour Councillors have called for a Public Inquiry into BT’s failure to provide super fast broadband to residents in the West End, St John’s Wood and elsewhere in Westminster.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Business and Public Realm spokesperson, said that for the growing number of people who work from home, the failure to provide super fast broadband is damaging businesses and holding back the local economy.

He gave examples of some of regular enquiries from residents in Westminster about super fast broadband and the poor service from BT Openreach.

“I live in Luxborough Street. Outside the flats there is a box marked ‘fibre’. We are next door to the university and 100m from one of the busiest roads in London,yet no high speed broadband. I wrote to our MP,who contacted BT/Openreach whose response was that there are no immediate plans to install high speed broadband. “

“I am wondering if you can clarify/explain why we have such abysmal broadband in Soho? I subscribed to the ‘let me know when fibre is available in my street’ notification with BT years ago (2010 to be exact), and to date, it is still not available in the very centre of London. I suspect most of the production companies have a leased line so perhaps this is not prioritised, but seriously, the very centre of London in 2018 and my download speed is 8.1MB – my upload is not even 1MB which is apparently average for the area. It’s not a choice of supplier either as I have researched every possibility and unless we pay an absolute fortune for a leased line, it’s all the same ancient technology. I suspect my old dial-up was faster at times.”

“Our block  (William Court, 6 Hall Road) is an Exchange Only lines connection (because we’re too close to the exchange!). As a result we have been told that we were way at the back of the cue for fibre. Since then Virgin has created connections on Hall Road so it may have spurred BT into action. I did a quick check on the BT broadband site this morning and it still lists our block as ADSL only. In terms of BT Fibre-Aquila Street is also without fibre from BT – would it be possible to reach out to them to see if they have any plans to introduce it on our street any time soon? “

“For years we have enjoyed fast broadband as we are connected directly to The Lords Exchange on Hall Rd. Not surprisingly, I wanted to have superfast fibre not just because of the speed but also it is the only way to have Sky Q or Virgin Media. After checking many times I kept finding “we are exploring solutions”. In frustration I emailed Andy Hudson (Openreach Director Infrastructure Delivery South) who confirmed a few months ago that the cabinet was going to be stood at the end of May and that fibre would be available shortly. The website showed “in scope” so progress. I now find that it has reverted to “we are exploring solutions” which means, I believe, contact your council to try to find a way forward. I emailed Andy Hudson with my frustration but to date no reply. I live at NW8 and I know that Denning Close, Grove Hall Court, William Court, Hamilton House and 8 Hall Rd have the same problem as me. I am therefore putting on my “Ever Decreasing Circles” hat on and emailing you in the hope that you might be able to confirm the situation as I know planning has to go through Westminster Council. I sincerely hope that you are able to shine some light on the matter and possibly confirm that we will be fibre connected shortly.”

Posted in Broadband, Labour Councillors, St John's Wood, West End | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Please visit our new Westminster Labour Group website

While this website will be updated with information more is available at our new website www.westminsterlabour.org.uk 

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