Westminster Conservatives prefer to take cash rather than build new affordable homes in the West End

Westminster Conservatives have accepted a £24 million contribution to the Council’s Affordable Housing Fund from the Berkeley Group in return for allowing Berkeley not to include 22 affordable homes in their development of 202 new apartments at 190 The Strand, as previously agreed by the Planning Committee.

Labour Councillors, who voted against the proposal to take the money rather than build new affordable homes in the West End, argue that the Council’s decision is counter to the Council’s recently launched Draft Housing Strategy document. The Council say their plan is to “deliver 1,250 new affordable homes over the next five years”. It then highlights ways to achieve this. The first method is “through Section 106 agreements on private development schemes”.

Councillor Vincenzo Rampulla, Labour Housing spokesperson says;

“Having sent out their proposed Housing Strategy for consultation only a few months ago, residents will have little confidence in the Council’s ability to meet its objective of building more homes in Westminster. The Conservative strategy is crystal clear and it is obvious that this money will be used to buy up properties outside Westminster, or even outside London, to ship local families out of Westminster.”

Posted in Affordable Housing, Council finances, House building, Housing, Labour Councillors, The Strand, West End | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Paddington Book Festival – September Programme

Paddington-festival-front-pageQueen’s Park Library is holding a book festival during September along with Maida Vale, Paddington and Church Street libraries. It is part of the wider Paddington Festival programme. All the events are free and range in scope from crime fiction to history and current affairs. Advance booking is essential – please contact the library.

‘A ticket to the Carnival’ with author Barrie Stacey
– Thursday 3 September, 5.00pm at Queen’s Park Library

‘My House in Damascus’ – with author Diana Darke
– Thursday 10 September, 7.00pm at Queen’s Park Library

‘In conversation’ – with author Kim Newman
– 15 September, 7.00pm at Queen’s Park Library

‘Marylebone Lives’ – with Carl Upsall
Thursday 17 September, 6.30pm at Paddington Library

‘Sylvia Garland’s Broken Heart’ – with author Helen Harris
– Monday 21 September, 6.30pm at Maida Vale Library

‘Stinging the Devil’ – with author Penny Nair Price
– Tuesday 22 September, 6.30pm at Paddington Library

‘Voices from the Past’ – with author Juliet West
– Wednesday 23 September, 5.30pm at Church Street Library

Positive Tales from the Road – with Anne-Laure Carruth and Lucy Engleheart
– Thursday 24 September, 6.30pm at Paddington Library

Local author Stephen Benatar
– Monday 28 September, 6.30pm at Maida Vale Library

‘A Ticket to the Carnival’ with author Barrie Stacey
– Wednesday 29 September, 6.30pm at Paddington Library

For further details see https://www.westminster.gov.uk/paddington-book-festival

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Where the money went (4) – How Labour’s Future Jobs Fund created jobs for young people in Westminster

FJFThe Labour Government’s Future Jobs Funding (FJF) was announced in the 2009 Budget and was targeted at 18-24 year olds in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance for over 26 weeks. The Future Jobs Fund, guaranteed work or training to every 18 to 24 year old who was in danger of becoming long term unemployed.

In October 2009, Westminster Council was awarded £617,500 in grant from the DWP to deliver the first round of 95 jobs by 31 March 2010 in collaboration with the Council’s delivery partners, Westminster Kingsway College and Groundwork.

Westminster Council was successful in securing £253,500 in grant from the DWP for the second round of the FJF programme. The funding was for 39 jobs for young people by 31 March 2011. As with the first FJF round, there was a strong emphasis on jobs that provide sustainable employment for young people beyond the 26 weeks of FJF support.

The 6-month employment opportunities were offered in a range of sectors which include green jobs (linked to estate based green projects), teaching, hospitality, cultural organisations and social enterprises. A condition of the funding was that all jobs must demonstrate a clear ‘social benefit’.

“In 2010 Westminster City Council commissioned EDS to manage the delivery of the second phase of the DWP funded Future Jobs Fund programme within Westminster.

From the onset it was agreed that there should be a strong emphasis upon linking FJF posts to predicted private sector vacancies in an attempt to increase the likelihood that the six month placements would lead ultimately to permanent employment. As a consequence, 30 of the 39 posts funded under the programme were developed in partnership with private sectors employers.

Due largely to the close link between the posts created and the real employment demands of the private sector, the programme has proved to be very successful at helping local long-term unemployed residents to secure sustainable employment.

Eleven posts were created through collaboration with the Grounds Maintenance Service in the Royal Parks and Islington, with employees providing additional mulching and winter maintenance services between October 2010 and April 2011. As part of the placement the FJF staff were provided with on-the-job horticultural training and obtained valuable practical experience of cyclical grounds maintenance. On completion of their six month placements, all 11 were offered seasonal contracts by Enterprise, the Grounds Maintenance Contractor.

A further 11 posts were created with Westminster’s provider of the School Escort Service which provides supervision and support to special needs children on their journey to and from school. Over a six month period the School Escorts were provided with an opportunity to develop their interpersonal skills and to develop a relationship with the children, whilst being sensitive to their special needs. The 9 School Escorts who completed the placement were offered permanent employment with the service provider.

Through this contract EDS recruited and employed 39 long term unemployed Westminster residents on employment contracts linked to private sector and voluntary sector employers across Central London. A wide variety of posts have been created including: Grounds Maintenance Operatives in the Royal Parks and Islington; School Escorts in Westminster; an Economic Development Assistant with Westminster City Council; an HR Assistant with Eaves Housing for Women; a Community Worker linked to the Kings Cross regeneration programme; a London Transport Museum Assistant; an English National Opera Assistant; and Retail Assistants for Circle Sports – a fledgling social enterprise business.

To date, 24 of the 39 individuals who participated in the programme have gone on to secure permanent employment.”


Posted in Future Jobs Fund, Jobs, Training | Leave a comment

Where the money went (3) – How the Labour Government initiated Local Area Renewal Partnerships in Westminster

QPCCFrom 2003, the Labour Government supported and financed the creation of Local Area Renewal Partnerships (LARPs) to improve the quality of life of people who live and work in Westminster’s most disadvantaged areas:

• Church Street
• Queen’s Park
• Harrow Road
• Westbourne
• South Westminster
• The West End, reflecting the challenges faced by residents, businesses and visitors in this unique area in the heart of London.

LARPs received Government funding through Westminster’s Local Area Agreement (LAA) to coordinate partnership working at a neighbourhood level and to deliver programmes to reduce deprivation.

They brought together service providers (including the Council, Police, Primary Care Trust, and the community and voluntary sector) and residents to identify and address key local issues across a range of areas (e.g. crime, health, housing, education, employment, and environment).

Each LARP appointed a Manager to co-ordinate the work of the partnership at a neighbourhood level and key local priorities are reflected in local renewal plans.

The establishment of the Queen’s Park Community Council in 2014 has its roots in the creation of the Queen’s Park LARP.




Posted in Church Street, Harrow Road, Local Area Renewal, Queen's Park, West End, Westbourne | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the money went (2) – How Labour created Westminster’s network of Sure Start centres

Sure startIn July 2002 new resources were announced by the Labour Government to support children and families, particularly the most vulnerable. Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare programmes were brought together under a single inter-departmental unit based in the Department of Education and Skills (DFES) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The last Labour Government established a network of eight Sure Start Centres across Westminster
• Church Street

• Dorothy Gardner

• Mary Patterson

• Portman

• Queens Park

• South Westminster

• West End

• Westbourne

Each Children’s Centre offered the following services for children under five and their families:

Education and Childcare
• Early education and day care for children from 6 months to 5 years
• Minimum of 48 weeks per year
• Up to 10 hours per day , 5 days per week (Mon – Fri)
• Lots of family fun and learning opportunities such as stay and play sessions, music and song, story times, baby clubs and special events
• Childminder services attached to the centre

Family Support and Outreach work
Support, advice and information for parents aimed at giving children the best possible start in life – in your own home or at the centres and is given by qualified family support staff:
• Information on and access to local services for children under five and their families
• An information bus that will visit your local area
• Access to a dedicated under fives outreach worker

Child and Family Health Services
Healthcare workers on site to support access to a range of healthcare services such as:
• Speech & Language Therapy
• Smoking Cessation
• Community Midwifery
• Health Visiting

Workshops and advice on:
• Antenatal & Postnatal classes
• Breastfeeding
• Healthy Eating
• Health & Safety

Links to Jobcentres and Training Providers
Co-ordinated services including:
• Advice on entering the workforce
• Personal chats with New Deal advisors
• Group sessions with advisors
• Basic skills training
• Accredited training

Training was supported by Crèche facilities or funded approved childcare.

Posted in Child Care, Children, Labour Government, Nursery Schools, Poverty, Sure Start | Leave a comment

Where the money went – How Labour invested in Westminster’s secondary schools

Westminster academyWestminster’s Building Schools for the Future programme, initiated by the last Labour Government and supported by Labour Councillors, has rebuilt or refurbished all of Westminster’s secondary schools.

Pimlico Academy
• £34 million rebuild of the Lupus Street site school
• enhanced sports provision and facilities to support the schools specialism as a performing and visual arts college
• new community library and adult education centre
• Completed: 2011

St. Marylebone School
• redevelopment of the Blandford Street site into a university style learning centre for children aged 14 – 19
• refurbishment of the High Street site to support the school’s specialist subjects of performing arts, maths and computing
• Completed: 2010.

Westminster City School
• creation of new classrooms, improved sixth form provision and a sports hall for the school and community
• development of new music rooms and a drama studio
• new art department
• Completed: 2010.

St. Augustine’s CE High School
• refurbishment of main teaching block, including facade improvements
• new science laboratories to support the school’s specialism in science
• new atrium dining area linking the existing main school buildings
• new drama and activity studios
• new full size sports hall available for community use
• landscaping works to the entire site
• capacity increase from 700 to 900 pupils
• Completed 2011.

St. George’s RC School
• improvements to current school building
• increased pupil capacity from 600 to 750
• new classrooms and science laboratories
• new sports hall
• roof top court for variety of sports and play
• conversion of the existing gym into new drama and music spaces
• additional dining area and activity hall
• Completed 2011.

The Grey Coat Hospital
• new block at the St. Andrew’s site
• state of the art facilities for drama, music, art and film studies
• improvements to the outdoor sports facilities, which will be available for community use
• improvements to St. Andrew’s and St. Michael’s sites to increase dining and study space
• Completed 2011.

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School
• combination of refurbishment and new-build
• new hydrotherapy and physiotherapy suite
• new post-16 centre with independent living suite and gymnasium.
• Completed: June 2011

College Park School
• Brand new school built on the existing site
• Facilities include a new full service kitchen, additional therapy rooms, improved drama and art facilities to meet the needs of pupils with autism and complex needs and a full suite of IT enabled teaching accommodation.
• Completion date: December 2011
Alternative Provision Centre (incorporating Beachcroft School)
• A new facility to help young people who have had difficulty in mainstream schools continue their education.

Quintin Kynaston School
• Brand new accommodation for this 1,300 pupil school
• new science and music blocks and the integration of advanced Information Communication Technology (ICT) services across the whole school;
• new suite of sports facilities, available for community use.

King Solomon Academy
• Opened in 2007 in Penfold Street in a new building, together with the existing former North Westminster Community school building
• The Primary School opened in September 2007 with just 22 Reception pupils. From September 2013, we have 480 pupils across 7 year groups, Nursery to Year 6. In our school each pupil is known and cared about as an individual and behaviour and manners are exemplary.
• The Secondary school started with just 60 Year 7 pupils in September 2009. From September 2015, we will have all year groups from years 7 to 13, comprising around 360 pupils. We are a uniquely small secondary school where pupils are known and cared about as individuals and where behaviour and manners are exemplary.

Paddington Academy
• Established in September 2006, the school has a curriculum specialism in Media and Performing Arts and Business and Enterprise.
• In 2010, Paddington Academy became the second most improved academy in England, was ranked the 5th best school in the country and was ranked 2nd for the most student progress. As of 2011, it received the 3rd highest amount of students receiving 5 or more A*-C GCSEs in Westminster and was ranked the 4th best school in England.

Westminster Academy
• Westminster Academy opened in September 2006 in temporary accommodation and moved into new purpose-built premises in the summer of 2007 in the Westbourne Green area.
• Westminster Academy students are currently celebrating 80% A/A* grades as well as smashing a series of other records for the Academy in the IB Diploma, IB Career-related Programme and vocational courses with 95% A*-B, 97% A*-C and 100% A*-E grades. In July, Westminster Academy IB Diploma students achieved an average of almost 35 points, well above the 2015 world average of 29.88, with 100% of students passing the diploma.
Westminster Aca

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Labour call for decision on the Baker Street Two-Way proposal to be taken by full Council rather than by one Councillor

Labour Councillors have called for any decision on the Baker Street Two-Way proposal to be taken by the full Council rather than by one Councillor who has already been publicly strongly supportive of the controversial proposals which are being vigourously opposed by local residents and businesses.

In a letter to Charlie Parker, Chief Executive of Westminster City Council, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s Built Environment spokesperson, says;


I am writing to express my concern that, as the prime ‘cheer-leader’ for the Baker Street Two Way project, Councillor Davis will also be the sole decision maker for this project.

Although there has been public consultation on this project, it is clear from Councillor Davis’ public statements that he is far from being impartial on this proposal. The two examples below clearly show that Councillor Davis is very supportive of the project and has been active in promoting what he considers to be the benefits.

For example, Councillor Davis’ quote in the Consultation leaflet strongly promotes the proposals:

“This public consultation gives you the chance to have your say on our proposal to return two way operation to Baker Street and Gloucester Place. Using modern traffic engineering techniques, under the proposed project vehicle flow should be smoother and less congested, without attracting more traffic to the area. This would reduce the dominance of vehicles along both streets and provide greater access, connectivity and useable space for local residents, businesses, workers and visitors. The proposals would also reduce the impact of convoluted journeys that are caused by the current one way system.”

Councillor Robert Davis DL
Deputy Leader
Cabinet Member for Built Environment
Westminster City Council


Similarly, Councillor Davis’ contribution to the Baker Street Quarter website is equally positive about the proposals:

Cllr Robert Davis said: “Baker Street is one of the top locations for visitors to this city, with Regent’s Park, Madame Tussauds, the Wallace Collection and the Sherlock Holmes museum nearby.

“It is only right that we seek to make the area a far more welcoming place for everyone that lives in, works in and visits the area. Baker Street is one of our key commercial districts and we want to give those that work there a more pleasant environment. The planned designs will re-establish and rejuvenate the area and bring back two way flow for the first time in almost 50 years, easing congestion in the area and creating better public spaces.

“I suppose Mr Holmes would have described this project as being elementary, but it is far from it. We think this is an exciting opportunity that will require many different parts of the community to work together to achieve success. So this consultation is important, and the project reflects the innovative way in which the public and private sectors can come together to find solutions to benefit the lives of those living and working in London, and we want everyone to play a part.”


As you know, there is considerable opposition to the proposals from local residents and businesses north and south of Marylebone Road, some of whom have put it to me that Councillor Davis cannot be considered to be an impartial decision maker in this instance and may have already made up his mind, notwithstanding the results of the public consultation.

With this in mind, and given the importance of this matter across a wide area, I suggest that this matter be considered by the full Council rather than by an individual Councillor.

I hope you will give this your full consideration.


Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment Spokesperson”

Posted in Baker Street, Baker Street Quarter, Cycling, Gloucester Place, Labour Councillors, Local businesses, Local Democracy, Marylebone, Marylebone Road, Roads, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment