A guided Suffragette Walk in Westminster is starting to coincide with the release of the new film – Suffragette

A guided Suffragette Walk in Westminster is starting to coincide with the release of the new film – Suffragette – starring Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Marie Duff. The film opens in London on 12th October. 

The walks will be every Saturday in October from 17th October.  Meet at 11am at St James Park tube station (Broadway exit)

Contact Maureen Corcoran MITG, Blue Badge Guide

Mob 07710 842880

Plus Maureen can organise the walk for groups at other times.

Posted in Arts and Culture, Guided Walk | Tagged | Leave a comment

Westminster Council bans childminders’ children from Play sessions as austerity bites even deeper

Westminster Council has banned childminders’ children from attending ‘Stay and Play’ drop-in sessions at Children’s Centres. Following cuts to the Council’s Play service earlier this year, the Council has now written to parents to say:

“As places at Stay and Play sessions are limited we do need to prioritise children living in Westminster attending with parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles and can nPlay letter Oct 15o longer admit childcare professionals during these sessions”

This follows Westminster Conservatives decision to cut £1,339,000 from Children’s Centres, Play and Youth Services over the three years from 2014/15 – 2017/18.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said;

“Westminster Council is one of the richest Councils in the country and there is no excuse for banning children being looked after by childminders from attending Play and Stay sessions. Many working parents depend on child minders and the Council has no right to ban their children from attending Play sessions. Also, many child minders look after their own children at the same as looking after the children of working parents. This ban on childminders attending Play sessions is both unfair and discriminates against working parents.”

“This latest Council decision shows how the Government’s mean-minded and unnecessary austerity programme is damaging working parents and their children. The Council should stop making children and working parents the targets for its cuts programme. ”

Posted in Child Care, Children, Out of touch Conservatives, Play Services, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives, Young People | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Labour warns Westminster Council: either tackle high rents or face discretionary housing payments disaster

Labour councillors today issued a stark warning to Westminster Council Leader, Cllr Philipa Roe, and Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Tim Mitchell, who this year are dipping into council reserves due to Conservative Government cuts and failure to tackle the problem of unaffordable rents in Westminster.

This year Westminster Council has seen a massive 46% cut in the Government money allocated to support residents unable to meet their rent due to the Government’s Welfare reforms.

Last year Westminster Council was allocated £4.8m in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), now the Council will receive only £2.6m. This follows years of Westminster Council underspending their DHP allocation and handing money to Government. As a result, Westminster Tories have had to raid council reserves for an extra £1.1m to meet the projected shortfall in DHP.

Alongside the heavily cut DHP budget, the council has agreed a new policy for awards:

• DHP awards will now only meet the full shortfall in rent in only ‘exceptional circumstances’ and will expect a reduction in expenditure on non-essential items;
• Income and savings typically outside of Housing Benefit calculations will be included;
• The council may decide a non-dependant should contribute more than the amount of the non-dependant deduction determined by Housing Benefit Regulations.

In advice to council leaders, officers have admitted that both LHA reforms and the benefit cap are affecting a large number of households in Westminster “primarily because rent levels in the private rented sector and for temporary accommodation are high”. The advice goes on to say that the reduction “presents a challenge to Westminster because of the number of households living in temporary accommodation who rely on receiving a DHP to make their rent affordable”.

Westminster’s Labour councillors are calling on the council to:

• commit to doing more to tackle high and unaffordable rents in Westminster;
• make explicit what is deemed “essential and non-essential expenditure”; and
• commit to using money from general council underspend in the current financial year to help meet any shortfall in DHP.

Reflecting on the council’s new DHP policy, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson Councillor Vincenzo Rampulla said:

“Over many years Westminster has not addressed the causes of DHP spending, the Government social security cuts they have championed, the lack of social and affordable housing and the spiralling costs of private sector rents, so now Cllr Tim Mitchell is having to dip into council reserves because the Tory Government has decided the council can somehow afford a swingeing cut in DHP allocations.”

“With such a slim margin of error in this year’s budget the council must fill in the obvious gaps in this policy. For instance, what will council leaders say is essential and non-essential for residents? Tory-led North West Leicestershire Council doesn’t allow the internet, school trips, haircuts or pet food if you’re applying for DHP; does Westminster City Council plan hurt some of our most vulnerable families by doing the same?”

“Labour wants Westminster to cut welfare need by tackling high rents through more affordable housing and greater innovation in working with the private rented sector, but the council cannot leave families destitute. The council must continue to make reserves available as a last resort and look to use funds from predicted council underspends to help mitigate the impact on some of our most vulnerable families.”

Conservative run North West Leicestershire have published a publicly available list of what they consider essential and non-essential expenditure to help those applying for DHP support:

Posted in Council finances, Housing Benefit, Out of touch Conservatives, Private rents, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ananthi Paskaralingam is Labour’s Candidate for the Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward By-Election on 22nd October

AnanthiAbout Ananthi Paskaralingam

Ananthi has previously worked as an Advice Worker for the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as a Debt Advisor and is currently training as a Dignity Champion with Healthwatch Westminster. In her spare time she volunteers at an activity centre for older people. Ananthi says:

“I am standing as I want to ensure local people’s views are heard at the heart of decision making and that residents are properly represented. The Tories have taken this ward for granted as can be seen by the recent Baker Street and Gloucester Place Two Way project.”

Only Labour can defeat the Tories in this by-election and you can send a very clear message to City Hall that Bryanston and Dorset Square residents deserve better by voting Labour on 22nd October. As your Labour Councillor I will fight for
Action on air quality – demanding the Council and TfL do more to improve air quality in one of the most polluted areas in London
Transparent consultation on the Two Way project – while the scheme could bring benefits for our community, its large impact means that there must be a full and open consultation with local residents. I will also call for bus routes and coach parking to be included in the consultation before a decision is reached.
More Greening in the area – more trees and landscaping to enhance the area
Action on traffic routes – ensuring safer pedestrian crossing and that traffic isn’t diverted from major routes to quieter roads opening up rat runs.
Any decision on the Two Way project to be made by the full Council – so residents’ views can be heard and a democratic decision reached.

Need a Postal Vote for the Bryanston and Dorset Ward By-Election on Thursday 22nd October 2015?

You can apply for a postal vote to vote in the forthcoming by-election by completing this form and returning it ASAP to City Hall;


Promoted by Jason Williams on behalf of Ananthi Paskaralingam, both at 210 Hawkins House, Dolphin Square, SW1V 3NT

Posted in Baker Street, Baker Street Two Way plans, Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward, Cities of London and Westminster, Gloucester Place, Marylebone Road, Uncategorized, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Labour’s Westminster Councillors call on council to join legal bid to stop forced RTB sales

Labour’s Westminster Councillors have today called on Council Leader, Councillor Philippa Roe, and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Daniel Astaire, to join other London councils in mounting a legal challenge against the Government plans to force the sale of council housing to pay for the extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations.

A recent report by the respected housing charity Shelter has identified that under the Conservative Government’s plans to sell off high value council homes would mean Westminster has to sell off a massive 76.3% of its much needed council homes as they become vacant. Shelter have identified that under currently proposed sell-off thresholds 9,213 of Westminster’s council homes would need to be sold off at a rate of 246 per year, higher than Westminster Council’s original estimates.

With a number of London councils discussing a possible joint legal challenge, Labour Councillors argue that Westminster council cannot acquiesce with the Government at the cost of local families desperately needing affordable housing in Westminster.

Speaking today Labour Church Street Councillor Vincenzo Rampulla, said:

“Back when Councillor Philipa Roe wanted to be a candidate for London Mayor she said she would ‘bat for all Londoners’ and that tackling the housing shortage for lower income workers would ‘be at the core’ of her offer.

“She now needs to stick to those principles and join the other London councils looking to fight the Government which is aiming to force a mass sell off of council housing which will spell disaster for families in Westminster.”

Posted in Affordable Housing, Council finances, Council housing, Council tenants, Labour Councillors, Right to Buy, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Urgent call to investigate claims of racism and discrimination at West End club

Labour Group leader Councillor Adam Hug has called on Westminster Council’s licensing authorities to urgently investigate claims that DSTRKT club on Rupert Street refused entry to four women on the basis of their race and size.

Councillor Hug said “It is imperative that these shocking allegations are thoroughly investigated by the licensing team and the police to ensure that racist and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated. If these claims turn out to be correct the Council needs to take action against the licence of this club and the police need to act against this illegal behaviour. Westminster also needs to take wider action against club door policies that all too often discriminate on the basis of appearance.”

More information about these allegations is available here:

DSTRKT has previously been the source of licensing problems with a review taking place in December 2014 http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/licencingDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=NDQWPIRP1GC00

Posted in Adam Hug, Soho, West End, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tim Roca writes to the Leader of Westminster Council to protest at the proposed closure of the Lydford Youth Club

Harrow Road Councillor Tim Roca has written to The Leader of Westminster Council, Councillor Philippa Roe, to protest at the proposed closure of the Lydford Youth Club

Dear Philippa,

Re. Closure of Youth Club on the Lydford Estate

At our recent meeting I raised the matter of the Youth Club on the Lydford Estate being closed down without warning and concerns raised by local residents. You were not aware of the closures and suggested that I take the matter up with CityWest Homes and update you.

Harrow Road Councillors and myself have now received a briefing on the positon from City West via Jayne Vertkin, Head of Early Help Services. I am therefore writing as promised and requesting your urgent assistance in view of the serious issue involved, which I outline below.

The facts of the matter are that the Brunel, Ebury Bridge and Lydford Youth Clubs are to close imminently. The consultation with staff affected closes on 7 October and in reality there is no prospect of substantive alternative provision being put in place once they close.

The reasoning behind the closures is that there is a lack of funding and the assertion that the clubs are not meeting local needs due to low levels of engagement with young people.

Local Democracy – There was zero consultation with ward councillors in advance of such a significant decision. An apology has been received from Ms Vertkin and a promise made that we will in future be briefed in a timely fashion. However, you will understand how hollow such an undertaking is now these clubs are just weeks away from shutting their doors.

The briefing we received from CityWest indicates the Clubs have been running a deficit for 2 years, ample enough time you would have thought to engage with  Councillors and the wider community. Such a consultation would have allowed a positive debate about the future of the clubs and new ideas about recruitment to be properly considered.

The bigger picture – It seems entirely counter intuitive that at a time when anti-social behaviour such as at the Maida Hill market is causing concern, and neighbourhood policing is being cut dramatically, that positive activities such as youth clubs should be shut down. A serious lack of joined up thinking appears to have occurred, and a failure in communication between, CityWest, the community and local councillors.

Instead of closing down youth clubs we should be talking about how to encourage more people to attend them. Myself and colleagues would ask that you intervene urgently and use your influence to put this decision on hold, so a proper consultation and carefully thought through plan be put in place.

I have cc’d the new Chief Executive of CityWest, in the hope he will positively intervene in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Tim Roca
Harrow Road Ward

Posted in Council cuts, Council finances, Harrow Road, Lydford Youth Club, Tim Roca, Westminster City Council, Westminster North, Youth Services | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment