Westminster Conservatives prepare for electoral defeat and plan lobbying campaign against next Labour Government

Westminster Conservatives are preparing for electoral defeat at next month’s General Election and have put down a motion at the next Council meeting on 29th April committing the Council “to lobby against any ‘Mansion Tax’ on homes deemed to be worth more than £2m”.

The motion, which is seconded by Conservative Westminster North Candidate Councillor Lindsey Hall, assumes a Labour victory on 7th May and the introduction of Labour’s proposed Mansion Tax which will raise badly-needed finance for the NHS.

Westminster Conservatives appear to be in total disarray over the Mansion Tax. Previously Lindsey Hall had argued in the ‘Evening Standard’ on 25th November 2014 that, “The cure for inequity in housing lies in re-banding council tax, perhaps with a ‘super band’ that reflects genuine ‘mansion’ status”. Labour say that there is little difference between a ‘super-band’ and a Mansion Tax.

In addition, Conservative candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster, Mark Field has called for three extra Council Tax bands – “Band H for prime properties worth between £2 and £5 million; Band I for so-called ‘intermediate prime’ properties in the £5 to £15 million bracket; and finally Band J for super prime properties worth over £15 million.”

And earlier this month Councillor Hall was accused of ‘cheap tricks’ for sending out misleading and inaccurate letters about Labour’s Mansion Tax proposals. Writing in ‘The Spectator’, Damian Thompson revealed in his article, ‘Look at this cheap trick the Tories tried to play on me’:

“‘Mansion Tax Revaluation Information’, said the letter that came through my letterbox, in an envelope that screamed ‘council’ or ‘taxman’ or something alarming. The letter inside was carefully formatted to look official. ‘Your property has been identified as one which could be affected by Ed Miliband’s “Mansion Tax”. This could leave you with an additional bill of more than £20,000 per year.’ And then: ‘Labour has promised to introduce the Mansion Tax immediately. The Inland Revenue will send out demands for payment after the budget in June. That is three months away, are you ready and able to pay Labour’s Mansion Tax?’ You had to turn over the page for the first mention of the word ‘Conservatives’ – the people responsible for this embarrassing stunt. It was signed ‘Lindsey Hall, Prospective MP for Westminster North’.

I wasn’t taken in for a second, but what about the old lady down the road? And what’s all this crap about ‘your property’ being in line for the Mansion Tax? It’s a flat, in a building obviously made up of flats – clue: all those doorbells. Ms Hall was going to get my vote. Now I’m not so sure. If this is the quality of Lynton Crosby’s campaign tactics, no wonder the Tories aren’t pulling ahead in the polls. Honestly, it’s worthy of the Lib Dems.”

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/damian-thompson/2015/03/look-at-this-cheap-trick-the-tories-tried-to-play-on-me/

A recent YouGov poll found that 60% of Londoners support Labour’s Mansion Tax proposal to finance the NHS, with 28% against.

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

“Westminster Conservatives are in total melt-down on the Mansion Tax. Following Lindsey Hall’s failed ‘cheap tricks’, this motion shows that the Conservatives know that they will not win Westminster North and that David Cameron will soon be leaving Downing Street. The Mansion Tax will pay for new NHS investment if Labour wins the General Election and Westminster Conservatives are now preparing to use Council resources to campaign against the next Labour Government”.

“Labour’s proposals are fair and will protect those on low incomes with a right to defer the charge until the property changes hands. All but higher-rate taxpayers will be able to choose to defer the charge until the property is sold at a time of their choosing. As only 5% of pensioners are higher rate taxpayers this should go a long way towards reassuring the older, longer-standing residents in higher value homes.”

Posted in Council finances, Council Tax, Mansion Tax, Westminster North | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dibdin House residents win victory in campaign to use Maida Vale community hall

Dibdin victory 2
The local press reports that campaigners from the Maida Vale estate where Sir Bradley Wiggins grew up are celebrating after being allowed access to their much-loved community hall.

Residents were banned almost two years ago from using Dibdin Hall on the Dibdin House estate by owners Grainger, which cited “health and safety” concerns. But residents said they were being barred because developers feared it would jeopardise plans to turn it into housing.

After a hard-fought battle with the support of former MP Karen Buck, who is seeking re-election in May, community groups have been allowed access to the hall during the week.

Polly Robertson, 47, who has lived in the estate for 30 years, said: “We’re so happy. This is something that we’ve fought for for a long time, to keep something that the Dibdin House residents have always had – people have even got married there in the past.

“To have it taken away from us, we had no community, no means of communication. We have to thank Karen Buck and her team who have been instrumental in making this happen.”

Ms Buck said: “This is fabulous news. Dibdin House has an incredible sense of community, there are a lot of people who have been there for 50 years and always run activities there. When they lost the hall they lost the heart of Dibdin House, it’s a real win to get that back.”

Grainger’s Karen Burfield, responsible for managing Dibdin House, said: “We are pleased to confirm that following our review… and the work undertaken by Ms Robertson and others to set up a residents’ association, we have reached an agreement whereby we are able to make the hall available.

“To ensure that the space was safe and secure, it was necessary to undertake certain health and safety works… and ensure insurance and other protections were in place.

“We are happy that we’ve been able to reach this positive outcome and look forward to working with the residents going forward.”

Promoted by Andy Whitley on behalf of Karen Buck both at 4g Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

Posted in Community facilities, Dibdin House, Karen Buck MP, Maida Vale, Westminster North | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nik Slingsby calls for action on Millbank/Horseferry Road junction after cyclist’s tragic fatal accident

Labour’s Nik Slingsby has called for action by TfL and Westminster Council following the tragic death of cyclist Moira Gemmill who was killed following a collision with a lorry. According to press reports:

“Transport for London (TfL) drew up improvement plans for the Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout which it put out for consultation in 2012. But TfL’s report on the consultation said: ‘Having considered responses to consultation, and following concerns voiced by Westminster City Council, we have decided not to proceed with these planned initial improvements at Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout. Instead, we will concentrate our resources on developing more substantial improvements that meet the expectations of Westminster City Council and other stakeholders.’”

Nik Slingsby said:

“I am concerned that Westminster blocked TfL’s original plans to improve this very busy junction and I have urged the Council and TfL to quickly get together to agree a revised plan which will help protect cyclists before there is another tragic accident at this location.”

Promoted by Lamia Senousi on behalf of Nik Slingsby both of 52 Beechmore Rd, London SW7

Posted in Cyclists, Nik Slingsby, Road Safety, Roads, Transport for London | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Conservative Right to Buy plans would force Westminster Council to sell all 400 Council flats a year that come vacant

Labour demands that Conservative Candidates Lyndsey Hall and Mark Field disown “mean and nasty proposals”

All 400 Westminster Council flats which come vacant each year will be sold off under Conservative plans to extend the Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants. Under Conservative plans, Westminster Council will be forced to sell off “expensive” properties when they become vacant in order to pay for the £100,000 discount that will be given to Housing Association tenants to buy their flats.

The Conservatives have revealed their definition of “expensive” properties in London as follows:

1 bedroom 2 bedroom 3 bedroom 4 bedrooms 5 or more bedrooms
£340,000 £400,000 £490,000 £790,000 £1,205,000

In Westminster, the cheapest 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats are above the Conservative threshold. For example,

• A 1 bed flat in Kimble House, Lisson Green is currently being advertised at £355,000 http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-48707506.html

• A 2 bed flat in Risborough House, Lisson Green is currently being advertised at £425,000 http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/35083422#TEVPWwQtG2cqfKzl.97

• A 3 bed flat in Mounsey House on the Mozart Estate is currently being advertised at £495,000 http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/details/35972922#URcHT19q2HQD9Gix.97

Council properties in more expensive areas such as St John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Bayswater, the West End, Soho, Marylebone and Pimlico will all exceed the Conservative threshold for expensive flats and will be sold off as they become vacant.

According to the March report on the Supply and Allocation of Council Housing 2015/15, Westminster Council estimates that 410 Council flats will come empty and ready for re-letting in 2015/16.
http://committees.westminster.gov.uk/documents/s12390/9.3.15%20-%20Supply%20and%20Allocation%20of%20Social%20Housing%20update%20-%20PS.pdf

The Council expects to have the following vacant flats in 2015/16

Studio – 91
1 bed – 182
2 bed – 74
3 bed – 58
4+ bed – 5
Total – 410

Under Conservative proposals all these flats will now be sold off, many to property speculators and buy-to-let landlords.

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

“Conservative plans to force the Council to sell off all 400 Council flats that come available for re-letting each year will bring nothing but misery to the many thousands of local residents living in overcrowded conditions and who desperately need a home for their children. The stark implications of this policy is that no local families will ever be rehoused in Westminster again as the Council will be forced to sell off all its flats which come vacant. Only the rich will ever be able to live in Westminster. This will be a hammer blow to local communities all over Westminster. I demand that Conservative Candidates Lyndsey Hall and Mark Field publicly disown these truly damaging, mean and nasty proposals.”

Promoted by Andy Whitley on behalf of Karen Buck both at 4g Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

Posted in City West Homes, Council housing, Housing, Housing Associations, Labour Councillors, Right to Buy, Social Housing, Westminster Conservatives | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Labour demands a vote on proposals for residents to have a voice at Westminster’s Planning Committee meetings

Labour Councillors have demanded a vote on proposals to give residents a voice at Planning Committee meetings. The vote will take place at the next Westminster City Council meeting on Wednesday 29th April when the following Labour motion will be debated;

“This Council agrees to allow the public to speak at the weekly Westminster Planning Committee meetings – in the same way as the public are allowed to speak at practically every other Planning Committee in London and the rest of the UK. This would be a small but significant step forward in the process of restoring public confidence in local democracy in Westminster.

Adopting this simple and straightforward change in the way in which Planning Committee meetings operate will enable those residents most directly affected by planning proposals (and those promoting them) to state their case directly to the Committee members when applications are being determined.

The Council appreciates that, given the high volume of planning applications received by the Council, introducing speaking rights for the public needs careful thought. However, we believe that this can be managed without difficulty as it is in other inner London boroughs and the Council hereby instructs Officers to report on how the detail of this can be implemented.”

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group said;

“It is time for Westminster Council to give residents a say at Planning Committee meetings. For too long residents have been denied a voice when proposed changes to their local environment are being decided. It would help inform decision making to hear from both residents and applicants when contentious proposals are being considered”

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

Rebuild the Carlton Tavern!

Carlton Tavern 1

Labour Councillors have called on Westminster Council to take the strongest possible action against those responsible for the demolition of the Carlton Tavern on Carlton Vale and called it “an act of vandalism” which has united the local community in calling for the pub to be rebuilt as it was before the bulldozers moved in.

Councillor Rita Begum, Maida Vale ward for Labour, said:

“It was a shock. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life. I went past just the other day and there were people drinking inside the pub – there was no warning whatsoever. They were going to confirm it as a listed building on Wednesday. I think the developers found out it was going to be a listed building and that’s why the destroyed it. The whole community is in shock. How can they do this without approval?”

Carlton Tavern 2

Historic England said there were plans to recommend the pub be given a grade II listing pending approval from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

“The Carlton Tavern built in 1920-21 for Charrington & Co, probably by Frank J Potter, was an early inter-war improved public house, carefully detailed and built of good quality materials, showing the vision of a leading London brewery.”

“It was laid out as an improved pub with a public bar, and originally off sales, a saloon, and unusually a luncheon and tea room. The site was remarkably well-preserved externally and internally, it displayed the hierarchy of rooms in their fixtures, fittings and decorative treatment and retained all its external signage.”

“Few pubs were built at this date and fewer survive unaltered. It also had great historical interest as an improved pub, illustrative of growing concern at raising the reputation of public houses, by providing family facilities and reducing drunkenness.”

Posted in Carlton Tavern, Maida Vale, Planning permission, Uncategorized, Westminster North | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Prince of Wales pub – Betfred apply for licence – Time to object

POW demo
Betfred have applied for a licence to use the Prince of Wales pub as a betting shop.

Residents, businesses and local groups have until 22nd April to submit objections.

Residents who live ‘sufficiently close to be likely to be affected’ by the activities or who have business interests which might be affected are entitled to object, as are persons who represent them e.g. residents’ groups and amenity societies.

Objections need to relate to the likely impact of the application on the promotion of the ‘licensing objectives’, which are:

– preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime

– ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way

– protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling.

Richard Brown from the Licensing Advice Project at Westminster Citizens Advice Bureau is happy to provide advice and assistance to residents in respect of this application, and to assist with drafting representations which focus on the relevant issues. Go to http://www.licensingadvice.org for further information.

Richard can be contacted on 020 7706 6029 and licensing@westminstercab.org.uk

The Betfred licensing application documents can be viewed on the Council’s website- http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/licencingApplicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=NLVB56RP0JT00

Posted in Betting shops, Harrow Road, Prince of Wales pub, Westbourne, Westminster North | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment