Residents’ associations in the West End are not representative of people living there and are in danger of creating a “hollowed out” area because of their complaints about noise and night life, claims Conservative Councillor Jonathan Glanz, according to the ‘Evening Standard.
“Local committees tend to be run by older people and long-time residents who are resistant to change and the 24-hour culture of life in central London, said Jonathan Glanz, whose ward covers the West End.
He was speaking before today’s hearing of the West End Commission, which is preparing a report on the future of the district’s £50 billion economy.
Clubs and bars have complained that Westminster council is stifling them with unnecessary licensing restrictions while small businesses and art galleries fear they could be forced out by rising rents and the influx of high street chains.
Mr Glanz said: “I have a huge amount of respect for the work residents’ associations do but they don’t represent everyone in the area.
“They tend to be represented by people who have been there a long time, who have time on their hands, and I think even they would accept that other people need to be involved.
“I was talking to a man who lives with his young family in Brewer Street and when I asked him about the complaints about noise, he said it didn’t bother him and that it was like someone moving to the coast and complaining about the noise of the sea.
“The people who love living in the West End need to be listened to.”
He added: “We need to be careful that we don’t end up with a hollowed out West End that has no vibrancy or diversity.
“I think other cities have seen problems where they have introduced legislation which favours residents over businesses and they have ended up destroying the very thing that attracts people to the area.”
But Jim Murray, chairman of the Bloomsbury Residents’ Association who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, said: “He’s talking rubbish. Residents’ associations are democratic and fair and this ‘nimby’ attitude that we get accused of all the time is rubbish.
“If we complain about something it is for good reason and to get the right solution for residents.
“We all accept that if you live in the area you are going to get a degree of noise, but we do have a right to complain when it’s exceptionally loud, going on all night, from the same club, all the time.”
The commission is looking at transport, licensing, housing and retail to draw up a blueprint for the capital and is being headed by Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council.”