Security concerns as Westminster Council plans to switch off all its CCTV Cameras

Labour councillors have responded with concern to Westminster Council’s announcement that it is planning to switch off all of its crime and disorder cameras across the city, only three years after Conservative Council Leader Cllr Philippa Roe declared in her budget speech that “Westminster has been a beacon in the use of public realm CCTV for many years. Our camera deployments are proportionate, appropriate, based on evidence of need and have a clear value in protecting our communities.”

While Labour recognises that the current CCTV network needs further investment to remain operational long-term and that in previous years MOPAC and the Metropolitan Police have failed to offer an appropriate financial contribution towards its operation, Westminster’s decision risks hampering the ability to respond to crime and keep the city secure. Westminster must work with the new Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Metropolitan Police, Camden Council and other key stakeholders to ensure the centre of London remains secure.

However there are particular concerns in wards outside the centre where public spaces are less likely to be covered by TFL or private CCTV cameras. Labour are calling on the council to provide reassurance that areas that have had a high number of incidents recorded on the current camera network such as Harrow Road, Hyde Park and Church Street wards won’t be left without support. If cameras are switched off or transferred from council control, Labour is calling on Westminster to use the money saved to make clear and specific commitments to delivering public realm security works, such as improved lighting, and supporting the work of the integrated gangs unit and other human security measures.

Labour group leader Adam Hug said, “CCTV provides reassurance to communities across Westminster and the council’s U-turn on support for cameras leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Tory government budget cuts continue to make our city less safe and Westminster Council Conservatives must commit to reinvesting any savings in public protection.”

Notes to editors

The decision will be formally made at the Westminster Council Cabinet meeting on Monday 6th June, for implementation by September 2016. The Council aims to cut around £1 million per year from the public safety budget and avoid a planned capital spend of £1.7 million. For more details see http://committees.westminster.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=3943, particularly Appendix A which contains the ward breakdowns on the current number of incidents per CCTV camera by ward.

According to the Council this decision does not currently impact the CCTV network operated by CityWest Homes on their housing estates to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour.

Posted in CCTV cameras, Council cuts, Police | Leave a comment

Do you want to help unaccompanied child refugees in Europe?

UACs CalaisWe have received the following message from a local resident:

“I’m a Queen’s Park resident and I run a refugee aid and advocacy group called Calais Action. I’m setting up a working group in the North Westminster area to help bring over lone refugee children from the camps of Northern France, Italy and Greece under the recently-passed “Lord Dubs Amendment” (s67 of the Immigration Act 2016). Lord Dubs himself arrived here on the Kindertransport of 1939 when Britain voted to bring in Jewish refugee children from Germany, and was formerly a Councillor in Westminster.

I’ve met many unaccompanied children in the camps who have travelled from their own countries without an adult, and am deeply concerned for their welfare. This saddening report details their fate if they are not given a safe and legal route to asylum. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/29/they-are-falling-apart-the-fate-of-lone-children-in-calais-refugee-camp

We need to identify potential foster parents, local sponsorship, publicise the need for foster parents and demonstrate popular support (petitions, etc) If you’re interested in becoming involved at ANY level whatsoever, please email me at tess@calaisaction.com. You can also follow Calais Action’s work on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you!”

Posted in Child refugees, Children, Queen's Park, Voluntary groups, Young People | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Carlton Tavern public inquiry underway

Carlton Tavern 1According to the BBC website:

“Developers who knocked down a 1920s west London pub shortly before it was to be given listed status have been called “thugs and vandals”.

Maida Vale resident and community activist John Simmance made the comments at a public inquiry into the demolition of the Carlton Tavern.

Developers CLXT Ltd knocked down the pub last year despite being refused planning permission to build 10 flats.

The local authority ordered it to be rebuilt, but the developers refused.

Westminster City Council and local campaigners said it should be rebuilt “brick by brick”.

Councillor Rita Begum told the government-ordered inquiry at Westminster City Hall that developers “rode roughshod” over the community.

Mr Simmons said the pub had survived the Blitz, the Westway build and 1960s housing development.

He added that the community did not know that it was at risk of being developed and that if it did, “us Cockney builders and plumbers would have gone down and stopped it”.”

Posted in Carlton Tavern, Carlton Vale, Maida Vale, Rita Begum, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Aicha Less celebrates victory for Labour in Church Street

Labour’s Aicha Less was elected as the new Councillor for Church Street ward following a thumping by-election victory. Aicha won 2174 votes to the Conservative candidate’s 512 votes on a 44.95% turnout, meaning she won 70.3% of valid votes cast. Cllr Less has lived in the area since 1983 and is the first British-Moroccan to hold local office in Westminster.

Following her election Cllr Aicha Less said

“I’m delighted to have been elected as your member for the Church Street ward and, very grateful for residents having faith in me and coming out to vote on 5th May. I feel very overwhelmed with the support and response on the doorstep. It’s a great privilege to represent an area that is very close to my heart.

I’d like to thank everyone who came out to support my campaign and made it a success. As your councillor, I will do my best to make this area an exciting place to live and work. Many thanks again and look forward to working on your behalf.”

Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said

“I’m delighted that the residents of Church Street have kept their faith in Labour to fight for their concerns that are too often ignored by the Council. Aicha Less will be a passionate voice and relentless fighter for social justice and the needs of the people of Church Street.”

Posted in Church Street, Church Street Market, Labour Councillors | 1 Comment

Action needed to deal with regular rubbish dumping at Shirland Road/Fernhead Road junction

image1-3Karen Buck MP has repeated her call to Westminster Council to take action to deal with the regular dumping of rubbish at the corner of Shirland Road and Fernhead Road near the junction with Ashmore Road.

Residents say:

“I know lots of people have been complaining about this, but this kind of scene isn’t acceptable in Westminster or indeed anywhere!

We can no longer see the bins for the rubbish! There are plenty of obvious options – I’d assume the easiest being to set up some more bins on other corners? But please can we sort it out asap.”

Karen Buck said:

“Marban Road is nearly as bad. It is a regular occurrence and it’s a disgrace!”

Posted in Fernhead Road, Karen Buck MP, Rubbish dumping, Shirland Road | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Call to Westminster Council to stop Deliveroo drivers from parking illegally in Garway Road, Bayswater

IMG_0248We have called on Westminster Council to stop Deliveroo drivers from parking illegally in Garway Road, Bayswater. Residents say:

“To add insult to injury, the bike riders seem to be habitual litterers, dropping empty drinks cans and bottles on the ground and even kicking them around and into the gutter. Their behaviour towards the owner of the coffee shop can only be described as intimidating, and as daily users of the coffee shop we don’t want to look out of the window and see a group of surly individuals and their bikes, and be disturbed by the constant departures and arrivals of the bikes, with their noise and pollution. They also seem to be spreading up Garway Road and into Leinster Square occasionally – we have seen them parked up in ‘residents only’ bays recently.”

Posted in Bayswater, Deliveroo, Labour Councillors, Parking, Westminster City Council | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Care homes tell the old and vulnerable: ‘No vacancies in Westminster’

According to the ‘West End Extra’

“Vulnerable elderly people are being put up in care homes outside Westminster leading to concerns they are missing out on much-needed ­visits from friends and relatives.

Joan O’Connell, 62, says she knows of two of her “vulnerable” friends were put in accommodation in west London. She said: “I know of two elderly ladies who have lived near Victoria for over 30 years, who have been sent to Ealing care homes in the last year. Many of their friends naturally are elderly and can’t make that long journey.”

Neither of the women had relatives in the country she said and relied on their friends for company. But the expense and difficulty of visiting them at their care homes meant they were seeing much less of them.

One, aged 88 and believed to be suffering from dementia, has been moved to a home in North Acton. 

She was moved to the home after her health began to deteriorate, making it harder for her to care for herself at home. She had suffered a number of falls and was “leaving her front door open” repeatedly, said Ms O’Connell. She said her friend was told by the council there were “no vacancies” in Victoria. 

A former volunteer for the Friends of the Elderly group, she feels it is “cruel” to send them to live so far from everyone they know.

“She said to me: ‘your visits keep me sane’. I can see she is depressed and I am afraid her dementia will get worse. There are probably a lot of elderly people like her who have no family and who can’t manage.” 

The second lady, who is in her 90s, also suffers from dementia and only has family in Spain,

A Westminster Council spokeswoman said it was “not always practical” to offer accommodation close to people’s homes, adding: “The wellbeing of people in our care is our priority and we will always act in their best interests. 

“We aim to offer accommodation as close to home as possible but this is not always practical. We do sometimes have to place people in care homes outside of Westminster when no local accommodation is available or when people request to be close to family. 

“This important decision is made only with the consent of the person involved, or their family or next of kin if they are unable to make their own decisions.”

http://www.westendextra.com/nospaceforelderly

Posted in Adult Care, Elderley People, Older People, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , | Leave a comment