Labour launches Pimlico Clean Air Petition

vincent-square-action-teamWestminster was recently named one of its worst three boroughs for killer pollution. And within Westminster, one of the worst air pollution blackspots is Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Local residents have been telling us how air pollution from this busy road is affecting their lives on an almost daily basis. Vauxhall Bridge Road has exceptional levels of traffic, as it’s part of the London ring road and a boundary to the congestion charge zone. It is also a high-density residential area where many vulnerable people live – including children and the elderly – and numerous schools are within half a mile of the road. Families live overlooking major areas of traffic congestion, while other local residents cross it regularly throughout the day to access shops, schools and local buses and Tubes.

We are calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan and Westminster City Council to put Vauxhall Bridge Road at the top of their air pollution hit lists. Please join us and sign the petition below.

Posted in Mayor of London, Pimlico, Pollution, Uncategorized, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Vincent Square, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Give residents a vote on estate regeneration says Westminster Labour

In 2016 Westminster’s Conservative led Council made a U-turn on its previous commitment to give residents a vote on estate regeneration schemes. Despite a number of schemes successfully persuading residents to go ahead, this commitment was ditched after the Council’s unpopular Brunel Estate Masterplan and its underprepared and poorly consulted Westbourne Green Masterplan were rejected by residents. The Tories plan to proceed with future regeneration schemes without a resident vote.

Westminster Labour has strongly opposed Westminster’s change of policy, challenging it at Full Council and in committee, calling for the continued use of ballots as part of a proper local consultation around major regeneration schemes, including the ‘Phase 2’ of the Church Street regeneration. Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Housing Tim Roca has now written to the Mayor of London’s consultation on a Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration to argue the case in favour of retaining resident’s ballot as an integral part of, rather than alternative to, meaningful resident consultation on regeneration schemes.

Posted in Affordable Housing, Brunel Estate, City West Homes, Council housing, Regeneration, Social Housing, Warwick Estate, Westbourne Green | Leave a comment

A prescription for our ailing health & social care services

Westminster Labour Group have produced a short new report setting out some of its deep concerns about the future of the NHS and Adult Social Care in Westminster. It brings together Labour’s existing campaigning priorities on these issues, with new ideas for how to improve the desperate situation brought about by the Conservative Government’s chronic under funding of the NHS and the massive cuts to adult social care budgets. It draws attention to the lack of widespread local consultation around the future of the NHS in Westminster and raises our deep concerns about the increasing pressures on St Mary’s Hospital.

The Labour Group’s ‘prescription for our ailing health & social care services’ calls for Westminster Council to properly invest in community health infrastructure, improve its consultation processes and do all in its power to plug the gaps in adult social care funding. It also demands that the council stand up to the Government to push for a better deal for the NHS and adult social care, as well as to push the NHS to free up funds from obsolete facilities in Westminster to reinvest in the future of St Mary’s Hospital and other local services.

The author of the report, Labour’s Health Champion Cllr Barrie Taylor, said:

“We know that planning and decision making in health & social care can appear complex and disheartening to local residents who want to have their say. However politicians must be clear that democratic accountability must be at the heart of any framework for implementing major changes.

“Our ‘prescription’ is focused on what residents can reasonably expect from their local representatives and what Councils can be held to account for, being directly responsible for social care taxes and spending. Our views, as the Labour opposition in Westminster, are intended as a positive contribution towards finding solutions to revenue and capital needs currently being faced by health and social care agencies.”

Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care also argued that ‘The proposed local Sustainability and Transformation Plan which is considered to be the Holy Grail by the NHS will be dead in the water without a properly funded Social Care Budget. There are serious concerns the STP will be bulldozed through and bed blocking will continue.”

To download Labour’s prescription for our ailing health & social care system please click the link.

Posted in A&E services, Adult Care, Health, St Mary's Hospital | Tagged , | Leave a comment

So much for the new broom as Westminster Council continues to accept cheques instead of affordable housing

When Robert Davis was moved from his 17 year chairmanship of the Planning Committee on Westminster City Council, residents hoped the ‘new broom’ Richard Beddoe would firmly insist the local community got a better share out of the development boom.

Indeed, new Council Leader Nickie Aiken told the ‘Evening Standard’ that she would do things differently by no longer accepting “cheques” from developers in lieu of building more affordable homes.

But decisions at Councillor Beddoe’s first Planning Committee on 14th February show the Conservative Council still compulsively letting developers off and selling the community short.

The Old War Office in Whitehall got permission to convert to a luxury hotel and 88 luxury flats in a scheme said to cost £1bn. Under Council planning policies the developer should have paid almost £40m in lieu of providing on-site affordable housing, but only £10m will be paid.

A separate scheme on Hanover Square saw Cllr Beddoe lead the committee in accepting a £9.5m contribution when the Council’s own assessors said the developers could afford £12m. He then agreed to allow £2m to be taken off the affordable housing sum and spent improving Hanover Square, which had no justification in planning policy.

Cllr David Boothroyd, the Labour member of the Planning Committee who opposed both decisions, said: “The housing crisis is getting worse and families in Westminster are being forced out, so I was looking forward to a new chair fighting their corner. What a disappointment.”

He added “I don’t know how Cllr Beddoe can justify siphoning off £2m to improve Hanover Square when the developer has also to pay £2.5m ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ which could be used for exactly that. On a wider level these schemes question the point of viability reports – on the Old War Office nothing was viable but £10m will be paid, and at Hanover Square £12m was viable but £7.5m was allowed.”

He concluded “All these million pound sums may sound generous but land and building costs are expensive – the official cost of a new affordable home in the middle of Westminster is £400k.”


The report on the Old War Office scheme is here

The report on the Hanover Square scheme is here

Posted in Affordable Housing, Housing, Labour Councillors, Planning Committee, Planning permission, Social Housing, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Petition calls on Westminster City Council to restore funding to the Stowe Club

The newly built Stowe Centre, on the Harrow Road in West London, is run by Paddington Development Trust and houses a health centre and a youth club..

A new petition has been started calling on Westminster City Council to restore funding to the Stowe Club so that valuable services to young people can continue.

You can sign here

Because of Westminster Council cuts the Stowe Youth Club on Harrow Road is being forced to close almost all its services for local young people and lay off its hugely dedicated and experienced staff.

The Stowe Centre is a vital facility in Westbourne ward and is a place where historically young people from the Warwick, Brindley and Amberley Estates and beyond have come for many years to get a break from tough home lives, to take part in activities or just simply have some space. It was once the home to the one of London’s most famous youth football training grounds, known for producing stars like 1980’s Liverpool legend John Barnes. It was also the home of The Cut magazine, written and produced by local young people and created the hit YouTube series Chicken Shop Date as well as a host of other exciting projects.

So as from 1st April the Stowe Centre will only be able to provide a replacement one night a week session for 11-19 year olds. This will be nothing near to what use to be provided and is a massive blow to the community and life choices of the young people in the area.

Read this article in the West End Extra

Posted in Council cuts, Council finances, Stowe Youth Club, Young People, Youth Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Westminster Labour calls for transparency on Councillor meetings with developers

Labour Councillors have called on Westminster Councillors to display total transparency about the meetings Cabinet Members and the Chairman of the Planning Committee have with developers and to post a note of all meetings on the Council’s website.

In a note to John Walker, Director of Planning, Councillor David Boothroyd argues:

Dear John

I notice that the Council issued guidance on Monday from the new Planning Committee Chairman and Cabinet member about meetings with developers and objectors:

It is certainly better that we have a memorandum about meetings, but the contents of the guidance give some concern. The requirement that applicants have paid for pre-application advice from officers before they can ask to meet with the cabinet member or committee chairman, while understandable in terms of ensuring officers are properly briefed on a scheme, might be capable of misinterpretation. If an applicant would not normally have sought pre-application advice from officers but does want to meet with the councillors, they are now in effect required to pay to access councillors.

Should ward councillors not be invited to participate in any meeting relating to their own ward?

Given that reports from all these meetings are obviously going to be written (otherwise they would not be sent to the chairman, cabinet member and council leader), and are disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act, why not simply make them all public from the start? (This is what is done in Hammersmith and Fulham.)

Is there any plan to issue specific guidance on ward councillor engagement with developers? This is something that happens frequently and routinely (the national guidance encourages it).

The new planning committee has not yet been established but can I request that this item is debated at its first meeting?

Cllr David Boothroyd (Westbourne Ward, Labour)

Posted in Labour Councillors, Planning Committee, Planning permission, Westminster City Council | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Labour call on Westminster Conservatives to donate West End fund-raising profits to local youth services

arudd-dinnerLabour Councillors have called on Westminster Conservatives to donate the profits from their fund-raising dinner in the West End on 8th February to local youth services. Home Secretary Amber Rudd will be the guest speaker and the Conservatives will be auctioning a copy of the ‘Brexit Bill’ signed by Prime Minister Theresa May. In addition, raffle prizes include a magnum of Veuve Cliquot champagne and lobster and frites with prosecco at a top West End restaurant.

Tickets for the sold-out dinner, at a London venue yet to be announced, but which has a capacity of 150, are £85 per person. In addition, a limited number of premium tickets have been sold at £500 each.

Pancho Lewis of the West End Labour Action Team, said:

“It’s very disappointing to see West End Tories choose to spend time with fat cat donors instead of representing local residents. Only recently, Westminster Conservatives have chosen to gut Stowe Youth Club, a centre that provides vital support to vulnerable young people in need of help. This comes on top of many years of cuts to youth services. That’s why we’re calling on Westminster Tories to donate all funds raised at the event to youth services in the City of Westminster.”

Patrick Lilley, of the West End Labour Action Team, said:

“Instead of enjoying silver service with Westminster’s West End Tories, Amber Rudd should be sorting out the mess her department is leaving our country in. There are hundreds of EU nationals who live in the West End. They face enormous barriers to registering as permanent residents once we leave the EU – estimates show it could take 140 years to register all 3 million EU citizens in Britain after Brexit. This is a direct result of Rudd’s department’s terrible handling of Brexit.”

Posted in Council cuts, Stowe Youth Club, West End, Young People, Youth Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment