Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – July 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate – Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Tower Blocks in Westminster

The horrific events at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington have shocked the country. We have been united in grief and so many have been moved to acts of great generosity and compassion.

Many residents have been asking questions and we, together with Karen Buck MP, have been putting these questions to Westminster Council Officers and CityWest Homes staff. A summary of these questions can be seen here:

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/tower-blocks-in-westminster-what-labour-have-been-asking-on-behalf-of-residents/

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/labour-calls-for-further-answers-on-fire-safety/

In a comment piece for the Guardian, Karen Buck MP writes:

“We already know that councils with substantial numbers of high-rise blocks need financial support to complete all necessary safety checks and remedial works. Yet local government has borne the brunt of central government spending cuts. Kensington, dependent on grant for almost three-quarters of its spending in 2009/10, has seen its budget shrink by 38 per cent from £253m to £156m. Westminster City Council’s has been cut by 48 per cent, Manchester’s by 37 per cent, Hackney’s 35 per cent, and Birmingham’s by 34 per cent (Surrey’s, which has fallen by 6 per cent, is another story): the list goes on. So councils need to know that the new costs imposed on them will be underwritten by Whitehall. And then the government needs to look at the impact of spending cuts on, among other things, environmental health inspectors, who are the front line of defence against many hazards in rented housing. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower exposes the over-stretched state of social housing, especially in London. Survivors must have priority for decent, affordable local homes. But that shouldn’t be at the expense of others who are homeless or in desperate housing need, although I fear it will.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/25/bill-protect-tenants-grenfell-housing-government

Queensway

We have asked the police to review what action they can take on this issue:

“Recently, as she walked on Queensway, my mother had her purse stolen. She reported the incident to the police, but despite providing details of the four times and locations at which her contactless bank card was subsequently used by the thief, the case was closed after only a cursory investigation. The excuse the police gave for not pursuing the matter further was that, as a cost-cutting measure, Westminster Council turned off all their CCTV cameras in 2016. I would like to know whether this is true, and if these cameras are indeed too costly to operate, what other actions are being taken to ensure that pickpockets do not operate with impunity in the Queensway area, targeting tourists and vulnerable residents.”

Chepstow Road

Following enquiries from residents about scaffolding in Chepstow Road, we contacted the Council to ask that it be checked so that it posed no threat to the security of neighbouring buildings. The Council say:

“The police have also visited the site and gave some advice regarding securing the site effectively that the company have subsequently implemented.”

Nando’s, Westbourne Grove – Update

We are continuing to support local residents who want the Council to take action against Nando’s anti-social behaviour. We have received this helpful update from the Council:

“The City Council will imminently be writing to Nando’s requesting that the delivery of hot food takeaway by a third party (namely Deliveroo) cease. We will advise Nando’s to apply for planning permission if they would like the City Council to formally consider the proposal for hot food take away use of this intensity. The invitation to submit a planning application should not be construed as an indication that planning permission will be granted. This is because each planning application will have to be considered on its own merits having regards to the development plan policies and any other material consideration including third party representations made either in support or against the proposal. However, the submission of any future planning application should not delay the cessation of the unauthorised use of the premises as mixed restaurant and hot food takeaway. If the use does not cease, the City Council will consider taking formal enforcement action. 

I have also established that Nando’s are not the only restaurant in the immediate vicinity using Deliveroo to run a takeaway service. My research has revealed that ‘Gourmet Burger Kitchen’ at 50 Westbourne Grove, ‘65 & King’ at 65 Westbourne Grove, ‘Sushi Shop Platters’ at 72 Westbourne Grove and ‘Izakaya’ at 52 Westbourne Grove are all using Deliveroo services. It might be the case that Deliveroo drivers are using Kensington Gardens Square as a base to pick up deliveries from these restaurants although this still needs to be confirmed. This might explain the large number of mopeds parking outside Nando’s. We will need to run separate investigations on these individual premises to see whether the use of these restaurant premises are lawful and to determine whether deliveries made from these addressed also constitutes a material change of use or whether the takeaway services provided at each premises remain ancillary to the primary use of each property as a restaurant. “

Superfast Broadband

We have again contacted BT about the poor superfast broadband availability in the W2 area. Residents say:

“I am a long-term resident of W2, and am hoping you will be able to petition further with Westminster Council or whoever the powers that be are. I wonder whether there is either a cosy arrangement between BT and Open Reach, or it is because Westminster Council will not give permission to lay fibre cable in the street, but basically we are long suffering in the lack of availability in Fibre, or superfast broadband, yet we live so close to the centre of what is supposed to be a major capital. This must surely have a major economic impact on the area and city. In my case it makes working from home painfully slow and so it must be the same for many others.”

Garway Road

We have asked the Council to add this to its investigations:

“It is not just Kensington Gardens Square where the Deliveroo and Uber scooter delivery drivers are a nuisance.  I have seen the same aggressive anti-social behaviour around the bay in Garway Road and all around the W2.  I have been threatened and I know that they have been a nuisance at 18 Dental and Marias café.  They behave like a gang, many of them drive dangerously and some scooters are very noisy and keep going well into the night.  I see about 1 accident a week on Westbourne Grove. I think this would an ideal matter for the Community Police (if they still exist) as well as the Council. “ 

Porchester Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Residents living near the Alnoor supermarket on Porchester Road have been woken a number of times recently at all hours of the night, by comings and goings. The change to being open 24 hours a day, was not open to neighbourly consultation.”

Leinster Square

Following our request for protective guards around the trees in Leinster Square to protect them from bikes tied to trees, the Council says:

“Our contractor will be installing, where possible, guards around the trees tomorrow. It may a few visits as we need to the trees to be bike free, so to speak.

Westminster Reporter

A resident has started a petition calling on the Council to cease publication of the Westminster Reporter. We agree!

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/WestRep/ 

Whiteley’s – what you say

“It’s a shame that Westminster City Council has approved plans to redevelop the Whiteley’s shopping centre. The new plans will have a negative impact on the local community. In addition, it’s a shame that a property developer can destroy a grade II listed building while normal citizens don’t get building approvals for simple changes.”

“I am very concerned about the dreadful proposal for Whiteleys and the proposal to turn a magnificent previous historic department store into another “development” on the pretence of increasing homes available. It is jewel piece as a building and its multi-use prospect was a bonus for Londoners and visitors to shop somewhere pleasant, central, enjoy rendezvous cafes in a covered safe place, and, when there were restaurants on the upper level, to eat and catch a movie without the expense and vastness of the likes of Westfield. I am sure the original owner would be turning in his grave.  

This new development is a dead idea and will only foist more pressure on services in this sector – water, sewage, power supply and human generated pollution, including crowding as well as, a lack of charm or intimacy that certain place exude by their location-  it has not worked for the area behind the Hilton Hotel towards Paddington and St. Mary’s Hospital. At night it is a virtual morgue despite the couple of eating places there.”

Chepstow Road resurfacing – what you say

“I feel about 10 years younger (wish I looked it as well) after having a weeks’ proper sleep. I will cherish every second the road surface is the way it is now. Thank you from a much nicer and happier family. “

Hallfield Estate – what you say

A resident wrote to the Evening Standard to say:

 “The fire in Grenfell Tower comes as no surprise. My own experience of living in a high-rise block on the Hallfield Estate in Bayswater has highlighted the inadequacy of our housing stock in London. On Saturday I returned to London from Florida, where I had been treated for a rare cancer, to find water running into my flat from one of the flats above. Five days on and the leak has not been fixed because no one will take responsibility.”

What you say

I appreciate all you do for the people and environment of Bayswater.” 

“Thank you for this which I think is really good practical politics.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Regards

Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – June 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate – Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Election – Thursday 8th June

You can read about Karen Buck’s General Election campaign priorities here https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/karen-buck-for-westminster-north

Nando’s, Westbourne Grove/Kensington Gardens Square

Following our call for a ‘deep clean’ over the pavement outside Nando’s the Council told us:

“I have arranged for the pavement to be deep cleaned as a matter of urgency to prevent any further slips.  We do not have any powers to compel Nando’s to pay for this cleaning operation however I have instructed the local City Inspector to examine their waste bags/bins next time they are brought out onto the pavement for collection as it may be possible to issue a fine or potentially prosecute them for failing to prevent the escape of waste.  I understand that Nando’s use a private waste collection company rather than the council/Veolia service so I do not have precise details on how they manage their waste. The Inspector will also check whether they have arrangements in place with a specialist oil/grease collection company.”

Leinster Gardens – Rubbish Dumping

We have again asked the Council about increased rubbish dumping in Leinster Gardens following the removal of the big black bins in Queen’s Gardens. The Council say:

“I have instructed the local City Inspector to monitor both locations as a matter of priority and to take enforcement action as appropriate against any residents or businesses found to be fly-tipping on our streets. In the past few months we have undertaken four separate letter-drops in Queens Gardens highlighting the correct waste collection days and times and have also installed No Dumping signs around the square. Enforcement action has been taken against a number of residents who have been identified as fly-tipping. We have also installed an additional bin at the Leinster Gardens site to increase capacity between collections.  We are also actively monitoring whether additional collections are needed however it is often the case that rubbish is dumped around the bins even when they have space available inside.”

Residents say:

“I don’t understand the rationale behind taking bins away from Queen’s Gardens, to be told people are dumping rubbish there, and then to attempt to resolve this by placing an additional bin further down the road on Leinster Gardens. “

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The recently-planted Birch Trees along the south side of Leinster Square are being used by bike owners to attach their bicycles to the trunks since the tree guards were removed. This is damaging and unsightly. There are sometimes 2 or 3 bikes around one tree and they are causing daily damage to the trunks. This mostly occurs at the west end of the street near 40 – 55 Leinster Square.”

The life of an author who inspired Ernest Hemingway has been marked with a new green plaque. William Henry Hudson (1841-1922), who lived at 14 Leinster Square, Bayswater, wrote about the English countryside. Hemingway referenced Hudson’s book The Purple Land in his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Palace Court

Residents have asked us to report this long-standing issue:

“Residents of Palace Court, we are aware how much effort the street cleaners put into, to make the area look clean and tidy. The efforts seem to be ruined every week by occupants of 22 Palace Court who to put out rubbish always the following day i.e Wednesday and Saturday whereas the collection is Tuesday and Friday. In addition to that the rubbish that is left on the street, is scattered.”

The Council said:

I have asked the local City Inspector to check and visit the relevant premises to ensure they are aware of the correct way to dispose of their waste. The Inspector will of course take enforcement action should they determine this is appropriate.”

Queensway

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“After a year of peace, the Maplin store has started getting deliveries at 7am again waking us all up. On top of that the neighbours that went down to complain had to deal with an aggressive driver. Can you please get in touch with them again and help us restore our sleep!”

Whiteley’s – Update

According to the press:

“Westminster City Council has approved rescaled plans to redevelop the Whiteleys shopping centre. The mixed-use scheme will see 500,000-plus sq ft of homes and shops built behind the existing 1911 facade. Under the revised plans two residential towers will be dropped a floor and the number of one and two bedroom flats increased from 44 to 78 while larger four bedroom homes will be reduced from 37 to seven. The scheme will open onto Queensway, which is also planned to undergo a £50m revamp. Under the section 106 agreement the developer has agreed to fund £6m of public realm improvements and £6m for affordable housing.”

Faulty Pavements

If you have ever fallen on a faulty pavement you can contact the Council via this link: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/accidents-and-insurance-claims-against-council

Tall Buildings

Westminster Council is currently consulting on potential future changes that would water down enormously the veto on extra height within the Borough.  In particular, they are already laying the ground to build tall in Victoria/ Park Lane, Paddington and around Tottenham Court Road.  This would damage Conservation Areas in Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Belgravia, Westminster, St James, as well as some of London’s most beautiful parks. The Skyline Campaign has started this petition

https://www.change.org/p/councillor-daniel-astaire-save-westminster-from-over-development-say-no-to-changing-policies-on-tall-buildings?recruiter=456279346&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

My Westminster Day – Sunday 18th June

The inaugural #MyWestminster Day is taking place on Sunday 18th June at Paddington Recreation Ground, with a programme of free events and family friendly activities. The event will celebrate the diversity of Westminster’s neighbourhoods and people, recognising all that unites everyone as one community in the heart of London. The event is part of a UK wide celebration of everything we have in common in memory of Jo Cox MP who was murdered a year ago.
There will be free food tasters from around the world and live entertainment from Ebony Steel Band, Rosie Holloway, The Blend Choir and the Time Loves quintet amongst others.

Sporting activities include beat the goalie, quick feet challenge and other football taster sessions run by QPR in the Community; there will also be tennis coaching, bowls, a parkour course and bungee trampolines. Additional highlights include face-painting, storytelling, plant potting, free bike checks and repairs, and free dog microchipping.

Sunday 18th June is Father’s Day, so there will be a special Father’s Day card making stand and a Father’s Day race.

All activities will be free. Free transport will be available from across Westminster.

You can register your interest in attending, receive updates or organise free transportation by visiting – www.westminster.gov.uk/mywestminster

Whiteley’s – what you say

“I do hope you keep on about Whiteleys as it is sad to see it going downhill.   Also, I do not like that one shop that sells make up and has a girl standing outside trying to sell and entice customers into the shop.”

What you say

“Thanks for raising the profile of the Nando’s problem”

“Thank you so much for your updates on my locality. They continue to be most useful and informative”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

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

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – May 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate – Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander Street

We have again asked the Council to take action against the residents of a basement in Alexander Street who play loud music in the early hours of the morning and wake their neighbours.

Moorhouse Road

We raised this with the Council’s Tree Officer:

“Last month a tree on the street in Courtnell Street was cut while the leaves and blossom were on it. Today a tree in Moorhouse Road suffered the same fate. I appreciate that the tree on Moorhouse Road is on private land but the Council would still have had to agree to this. And why cut a blossoming tree on the street? What is the possible justification for this in Spring, it was dormant all winter? “

The Tree Officer says:

“With regard council owned street trees there is an annual programme of pollarding almost exclusively the London plane trees in Maida Vale, Little Venice and Queens Park Wards which we have undertaken for many years. The reasons are two-fold. One is simply to maintain the London plane trees at an appropriate size for the location; bearing in mind that if left to grow naturally they can easily exceed 30m in height. The second reason is to minimise the adverse effect that the trees can have by drying out the sub-soil beneath adjacent buildings with shallow foundations.  

Courtnell Street is interesting in that although the trees are not planes, they are a mixture of smaller growing ornamental trees, it is the one street in the immediate area with a history of tree related subsidence claims. While we do make every endeavour to complete the winter pollarding programme as early as possible, commencing in October, it does take until April to complete. It’s not ideal for the trees but they do recover quite quickly. 

With regard to the London plane tree in private front garden I’ve checked our records and permission was granted for the tree to be pollarded, although I agree that the timing of the works is not ideal.  London plane trees do not provide a particularly diverse habitat but nevertheless our contractors are under strict instructions to check for nesting birds at this time of year and if found the tree would not be pruned. Private contractors must also avoid disturbing nesting birds as it is a legal requirement to do so.”

Kensington Gardens Square

We are continuing to press the Council to take action against Nando’s for the anti-social behavior associated with the takeaway element of their operations. Residents say: 

“I have noticed that they are becoming more and more of a problem. As they are on
Bicycles it is not easy to identify and deal with them. The Scooter deliveries are also annoying with one in particular having the noisiest customized exhaust. I have seen them gathering outside Nando’s making it impossible for pedestrians to use the pavement. Often they gather by the bins at the west end of the small square. Frequently they gather in the portico of the last of the garden house residences. These are not nice young men. They spit, leave litter and are as loud and obnoxious. As a single woman I find them intimidating and avoid going out if I can hear them in the Square. Wednesday to Sunday evenings is generally when they are hanging out. Nando’s is the source of the problem as they have actively encouraged a take out service within the last year. This brings in noisy scooters and bicycles and they hang around, continually checking their smart phones hoping to catch orders. Unfortunately, the problem has increased with Uber now joining the delivery competition.”

We have also asked the Council to do a ‘deep clean’ of the pavement outside Nando’s to remove the grease which has become an accident hazard for pedestrians. We have asked the Council to ensure that Nando’s organizes its own deep cleans in the future at its own expense. 

Chilworth Mews

We assisted residents from Chilworth Mews who were not consulted ahead of cabling work on their road. The works have stopped and consultation will now take place. 

Westbourne Grove 

We have asked the Council for an update on the road works after receiving this message:

“I am sure that you will receive lots of emails about the complete closure of Westbourne Grove this morning due to the ongoing road works, but why has it been necessary to close three bus stops in a row as well? I had to walk all the way from Hereford Road to the Westbourne Terrace bus stop carrying heavy luggage – the best part of a mile and a half, which was not funny. I wonder how many people are completely stuck because of this very poor transport planning?”

Eastbourne Terrace

We have asked the Council and Crossrail to investigate this issue:

I walk every day by Paddington station on my way to work, and have been looking at the picture on the new hoarding that has been put up by Crossrail of the final layout of the road. To me, there is an obvious issue with what is being proposed. The new layout would introduce a very large pavement area on the corner of Eastbourne Terrace and Craven Road, not only on the side on the station, but even outside of it, beyond the new Crossrail infrastructure. As a result of this, traffic heading south on Eastbourne Terrace is being reduced to a single lane, all the way to the street corner. It is obvious that this will cause a huge build up of traffic given all the buses and taxis turning in both direction on Praed Street/Craven Road.  The size of the pavement also would force buses into a difficult turn left turn onto Praed Street (repeating the issue faced by those buses when they are diverted onto Westbourne Terrace). These delays will also impact the ambulances heading into St-Mary’s, especially given that this is a long 3-way traffic light.

For all these reasons, it is essential that traffic heading south on Eastbourne Terrace be 2-lane wide, with angle turns helping large vehicles to turn left and right. This is entirely possible by reducing the pavement to the area within the Crossrail infrastructure. Pedestrians (such as myself) will any ways have a lot more space to walk around the station than ever before given the elimination of Departures Road. In conclusion, the very large pavement looks good in pictures, but the reality is that it will lead to unnecessary congestion and pollution. I urge you to push Crossrail to reconsider.”

Queensway toilets

We have asked the Council for an explanation as to why they allow their contractors to manage the public toilets in such an appalling manner, after receiving this message about the state of the Queensway public toilets: 

“Excrement on walls in cubicles. Foul air which is almost un-breathable. Stair caps coming away and are a trip hazard.  Smashed mirrors, unlockable cubicle doors, inadequate lighting, totally unclean vile appearance, atmosphere etc. The worst public toilet I have had the misfortune to have to use. 50 pence charge not the usual 20 pence. A total disgrace. What must people think?” 

Praed Street

We have urged the Council to take action on this recurring problem: 

“I am shocked at the failure of the council to tackle the polluting idling cabs constantly touting business in Praed Street and Craven Road. “ 

Lancaster Gate/Sussex Gardens

We are making enquiries about this issue:

The “roadway improvements” have been taking places over many months, and each time they add a zebra crossing or bike lane etc. they remove at least a couple more parking places. Is there now a Westminster policy to reduce residents car parking bays?”

Rogue Landlords 

Rogue landlords will be “named and shamed” by a new online database set up by the Mayor to protect private renters. They will be able to check whether prospective landlords and letting agents have been previously prosecuted for housing offences before they move into a property. They will also be able to report suspected rogue landlords and agents whose accommodation and service falls below acceptable legal standards. The New York City-style database, to be published on the Mayor’s website, will enable the Council to easily share information on enforcement and investigations and act as a deterrent.

Register to Vote

The deadline to register is Monday 22 May and residents can register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Anyone who is already registered to vote does not need to re-register. If you have moved home in the last few months and have not registered to vote at your new address you still have time to register at your new location.

The other key dates to note are the postal vote application deadline which is 5pm, Tuesday 23 May and the proxy vote application deadline is 5pm, Wednesday 31 May.

More information can be found by visiting www.westminster.gov.uk/general-election-2017

You can read about Karen Buck’s General Election campaign here https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/karen-buck-for-westminster-north/

Chepstow Road parking – what you say

“In response to motorbikes being parked latitudinally on Chepstow Road, my husband is one of the “offenders.”  In his case, his bike is long and can’t be parked vertically without jutting out into the road.  He tries his best to have it at enough of an angle so as not to take up too much space but since it’s been knocked over a half a dozen times by passing buses and cars he has become more cautious.   Often it looks as if he is being inconsiderate because the cars on either side vacate and cars are reticent to park adjacent to motorbikes for fear of knocking them over.”

Artesian Road, Chepstow Road and all surrounding area are getting more and more difficult to park, often due to builders’ suspension for skips which are blocking the roads. I think that a household in Bayswater should not have the option of 2 resident parking permits, because often they’re using unnecessary huge cars blocking the roads even more and using unnecessary space.” 

Whiteleys – what you say

It is such a beautiful building that was while it was a shopping plaza a wonderful in door environment for both locals and tourists to go to. It had both upscale boutiques and ordinary shops, M&S that is still functioning, cafes, restaurants (Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Café Rouge), cinema with a couple of screens. It was somewhere you could get to by bus or train and near Hyde Park too. The ‘redevelopment’ of Whiteleys into flats and open piazza like something or the other as proposed would only service the rich like One Hyde Park, it would be occupied with those who can afford to leave their apartments empty to live elsewhere.”

Tall buildings – what you say

“I entirely agree about the prospect of Westminster skyscrapers being disagreeable and out of character with the area. We need social housing more than anything else.”

“It needs a strong opposition, if we are to have any hope of ending this Tower Block madness – and twenty more years of incessant demolition, construction, pollution and congestion. Westminster/Bayswater has suffered enough Demolition and “Regeneration”. What we need is Air that is fit to breathe and Public Services that are fit for purpose for local residents (the Council’s electorate).  We do not need Population Growth and Transcontinental Tower Blocks, of any sort. We do not need our Council to act as a puppet of this Government any longer. We have had enough of the lies and propaganda and fake surveys, and we have had enough of our beautiful, historic Westminster/Bayswater/Paddington landscape being brutalised by developers and used merely as window dressing and an exploitable asset by a politically dysfunctional Central Government.”

What you say

“I just wanted to write and appreciate your report as its constructive and confidence inspiring that someone is listening.”

“Thank you for the latest action report, as always hugely informative.”

“Your mail is greatly appreciated.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

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

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – April 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate – Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Chepstow Road – road works

We have long been working with Chepstow Road residents to improve the state of the road to reduce the vibrations and noise caused by buses and heavy traffic. These works are now scheduled to take place on the weekend around 5th May.

Chepstow Road – parking 

We are making enquiries after receiving this message from a resident: 

“Over the past week or so I have noticed the increasing difficulty to park on Chepstow Road or anywhere near for that matter. It looks as though the council have taken it upon themselves to get rid of the residents’ parking spaces half-way up the road without replacing them elsewhere. The result of such flagrant jettisoning is such that these days my evenings are spent circling the neighbourhood looking for appropriate parking (of which there is very little), made worse by people selfishly parking their motorbikes latitudinally which takes up space unnecessarily.

I remember a leaflet being circulated advising local residents of these proposed changes at the end of last Summer but this must have been met by objections from the majority of Chepstow Road residents as I was part of a petition, signed by tens of people, against the plan. Since then there has been no contact from the council and now the parking problem has gotten significantly worse.

Please can you help in finding out why the parking situation on Chepstow Road has deteriorated so suddenly and what is being done to resolve this?”

Whiteleys

We have continued to work with local campaigners about the impact of the upcoming redevelopment of Whiteleys, raising questions about the developer’s plans and what the Council’s planners should to in order to reduce the harm done to the neighbours living close by.

Ledbury Road

We have been contacted by residents in Ledbury Road who say:

Ledbury Road residents would like to appeal and send a formal petition for a one-way street. The street has become a cut through, noisy, traffic both ways, polluted and non-safe road for its residents. We would like to discuss the idea to make it a one-way street.”

Nando’s, Westbourne Grove 

We are continuing to urge the Council to take action to stop the early morning parking of Nando’s delivery trucks in Kensington Gardens Square and the constant rubbish dumping and anti-social behaviour by Deliveroo bikes which park on the double yellow lines. Residents have questioned whether Nando’s should continue to be allowed to have a takeaway licence because of the nuisance that this aspect of their operations causes neighbours. A resident describes the situation:

“Nando’s have in the past agreed to keep this area clean, but have not done this at all. There is still bottle necks at this end off the road due to rows of parked vehicles parked up in front of the windows of Nando’s by customers and scooters. Customers are still loitering in this street around the entrance to the large block of flats opposite, and in this area around where they park their cars (for more than two hours the same people stand here talking loudly in the evenings) and the pavements and doorsteps of houses on this street nearby. Nando’s customers and other people sit in cars with loud music blaring and talking on car phones with speaker phones, etc.”

Talbot Road/Shrewsbury Road

We have asked the Parks Department to investigate why there is a padlock on the gate of the small park at the corner of Talbot and Shrewsbury Roads.

St Petersburgh Place 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The problem of parked Uber cars near Paddington Station is also outside the 4 Seasons hotel at the southern end of St Petersburgh Place. Pavements become perilous and engines are running”.

The Council say:

“Paddington Station and surrounding streets are part of a joint operation between, TfL, the Police and WCC and since December 2016 every day from Monday-Friday a team of joint staff have attended this location to deal with these issues. This area is also on Service Enhancement where marshals attend every 10 minutes of every hour during controlled hours. St Petersburgh Place (and engine idling issues) is a new location that has not been raised with us before. We will send our engine idling team down there from this week and ensure a presence in line with observed compliance issues going forward.”

Westminster: A city of skyscrapers?

Westminster Council has announced proposals to increase the number of tall buildings all over Westminster, including Bayswater and Lancaster Gate. We are very concerned that these proposals will, if given the go ahead, signal a green light for the construction of more very tall buildings just as we have seen in other parts of London.

We agree with the need to provide more housing to accommodate a growing population and tackle the housing crisis. But we want sensible, well thought through plans which protect the West End’s unique character – not a rush to build more and more luxury housing which does nothing to meet the needs of residents.

We’d like to hear your views about Westminster’s plans for more tall buildings.

You can also let the Council know your views https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/buildingheight

Cycle super-highway – what you say

“The cycle highway is much looked forward by cyclists old and new, enjoyed where complete, also by those residents polled in the area; the granite is laudable, not a point of critique, and the confusion at any cross-junction if there is any is simply one of teething, and settling as with any new input structure.”

What you say

“Thank you for your excellent newsletter”

“Thank you once again for your very good action report.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – March 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate – Angela Piddock, Andy Whitley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Whiteleys

 

 

 

 

 

Kensington Gardens Square

We are continuing to urge the Council to take action against the Deliveroo drivers who congregate on the street, park on double yellow lines, leave rubbish and generally cause noise and disturbance for residents. We have also called on Nando’s to take responsibility for the drivers who are delivering on their behalf.

Following our enquiries, the Council say:

“We visited the premises under the licensing objective of prevention of public nuisance to discuss the matters with the management. An email was also sent to the area manager, to ensure the hierarchy of Nandos are also aware of the complaints. The following assurances have been given:

– All Deliveroo drivers have been spoken to by Nandos to ensure noise is kept to a minimum when waiting for collections. They have also been told not to congregate around Kensington Square Gardens, where a complaint is more likely.

– A sign has been put up at the entrance asking customers to leave quietly. Staff will also monitor outside regularly and rectify any issues of noise and litter.

– Delivery times have been adjusted to so no deliveries are made before 8am.

Follow up visits have been conducted by our City Inspectors and the outcomes of these visits have been positive. I would also add that a number of visits were conducted last year following complaints relating to litter, and this situation has also seen a documented improvement. 

The Local Problem Solving Coordinator has also been involved, and at his request the local police team contacted Deliveroo management. They have also been completing their own patrols in the area. The Local Problem Solving Coordinator also requested additional parking enforcement in the area. This has resulted in a large number of parking tickets being issued within Kensington Square Gardens. Although not all these will be attributable to Deliveroo drivers or Nandos delivery vehicles, it will act as a strong deterrent to unlawful parking and excessive waiting.” 

Westbourne Baptist Church building site

We have asked the Council to check the noise levels from the building site at the corner of Porchester Road and Westbourne Park Road after concerns raised by nearby residents.

Hatherley Grove and Westbourne Grove Terrace 

We have asked the Council to clear rubbish dumped by lamp posts in both these streets.

Leinster Gardens/Queen’s Gardens 

We have asked the Council to investigate this tweet report from residents:

“it appears that the bin removal trial on Queen’s Gardens isn’t working and means those on Leinster Gardens are overflowing”. 

The Council say:

“The removal of the bins from Queens Gardens is considered to have been successful in tackling the continual fly-tipping problems at that location. The bins at Leinster Gardens are being emptied three times per day Monday to Sunday but I am sure you will appreciate that they can be rapidly filled in a very short period of time. The scheduling of collections at this location is being closely monitored and adjustments made to the frequency and timings of collections as appropriate.”

Gloucester Terrace

A rogue landlord has been banned from managing property in Westminster for 10 years because of the dangerous condition of the homes that she rents out. The flat, in Gloucester Terrace, was found by Westminster City Council inspectors to have flaws including no mains-connected fire alarm, a lack of fire-proofing in the lobby, an outdated fuse box and no fixed heating.

Bark Place

We are continuing to support residents’ concerns about traffic speeds along Bark Place: 

“l am increasingly concerned about the speed that some cars seem to be driving down our road.  Perhaps it is the advent of the new route apps but the traffic levels have increased and when people who don’t know the road is residential turn into it they tend to floor it as they see a straightaway. There are a lot of families on the road with small children and I am very concerned that all it will take is for one of these speeding drivers to be slightly distracted and because the road is narrow there will be an awful accident.  I am not sure what the available options are to address the issue. One idea was to have a 20 mph zone.  Another neighbour suggested alternating the parking from side to side so that people couldn’t just go straight quickly. The later seems to work on weekends when people park on the single yellow lines.”

The Council say: 

“Westminster City council is currently reviewing a number of potential sites for 20mph trials, focusing specifically at school locations. There is a high level of interest in the trials and should the outcome mirror results of surrounding boroughs, the expansion of the scheme is likely. Bark Place has been added to the list potential sites for 20mph controls for consideration in the future. In the meantime, Bark Place has been reported as a possible vehicle speeding locations to Community Roadwatch. Community Roadwatch is a road safety initiative which aims to reduce speeding in residential areas. The scheme gives local residents the opportunity to work side by side with their local police teams, and use speed detection equipment to identify speeding vehicles. Further information can be obtained by contacting WestminsterCommunityRoadwatch@met.police.uk.”

Porchester Leisure Centre 

We have referred these concerns raised by residents to the Council:

“The Porchester centre member numbers has gone down considerably compared to previous Januaries when the New Year resolutionists packed out every exercise class. This year there was plenty of space in classes in January. Everyone Active have put a new Hot Yoga studio which looks lovely, but they charge £15 per session on top of membership as a way to recoup expenses of the newly built studio. In the meantime, the class timetable was changed in January without any consultation with members and there is a backlash about a lack of variety in the timetable. Normal Yoga classes (included in the membership) have dropped off the timetable in favour of the ‘paid for’ new Hot Yoga classes, which has upset members. The same situation has happened with the introduction of a new band of exercise bikes called ‘Stage cycles’ which incidentally have a height restriction and come along with their own Olympic style road-racer routines, meaning that normal Spinning classes have dropped off the timetable in favour of the new ‘Stages Cycling’ routines to once again recoup expenses. The weekly timetable is dominated by Hot Yoga, Stages Cycling and Body Pump classes while Aerobics, Body Combat, Body Balance, HITT, Total Body Conditioning, Pilates, Yoga, Body Attack and all other classes are drastically reduced! We now have a daily choice of paying extra for Hot Yoga, or go to Body Pump or Stages Cycling for our membership. It’s not good value for the membership. In the meantime, good class instructors are leaving as they aren’t getting paid or their classes are no longer run. Members are making their views known on the Twitter page @eaPorchester” 

And ‘The Times’ reports: 

“Regulars of the Porchester Spa fear that £750,000 of renovations proposed by Westminster City Council could ruin everything that makes the Porchester Spa great. More than 400 people have signed a petition to save the historic baths from becoming “just another bland copy-cat spa.” High among their concerns are proposals to increase the number of mixed-sex sessions,”

Taxis 

We are continuing to press the Council to take action to reduce pollution from “Taxis and Ubers sitting with diesels running outside Paddington, in Sussex Square and backed up to Westbourne Terrace. “ 

Paddington Cube

Following pressure from SAVE and others, Communities Secretary Savid Javid has put the Paddington Cube on hold after issuing a notice preventing Westminster City Council from issuing formal planning consent for the scheme. Javid has issued an Article 31 notice to allow time for him to consider whether the 19-storey scheme needs to be called in. In a letter to Westminster City Council the minister has directed the council to “not grant permission for these applications without specific authorisation.”

In addition, SEBRA say:

“We believe a better solution can be found to maximize the potential of the site. The committee report of 6 December 2016 details various aspects of proposal but there is no housing proposed on site nor any money paid over for housing elsewhere in Westminster. What is particularly interesting is in Point 8.14 (on page 43) regarding Policy S1 of WCC City Plan:

”The proposal would provide a net increase in office floor space of more than 50%of the existing building and would normally trigger a requirement for residential floor space or a payment in lieu of around £60m.

Well at the end of the day the £60 million was not paid and ‘not one penny’ was to be paid for housing on or off site. Surely this must be wrong with such a desperate shortage of housing in Westminster and London. 

The report details policy and explains transport benefits some of which we welcome but we consider much of the transport costs should have been borne by Transport for London and Network Rail. Many of the transport improvements benefit rail commuters coming into Paddington Station or others and little or low benefit to local residents.”

Cycle Super-Highway – what you say

“If this isn’t the daftest use of public funds anywhere I wonder what is. I imagine this was meant to protect cyclists from cars, buses and trucks by separating them out. The scheme is flawed from the outset. Protected lanes just run out, creating bottlenecks, 2 lanes slide into one. The massive granite kerbs are over specified.  The cycle route at Bayswater Road heading west at Victoria Gate is marked by painted lines and the bike lane is filled with Ubers, making the next few yards and the left hand turn into the park even more hazardous. I think this design is incompetent in the extreme. “ 

Queensway Tube Station – what you say

“May I please raise the closure of Queensway tube outside of strike days?  I see that Holland Park is frequently closed due to staff absence and really feel for people in that area, sadly it is now happening to Queensway, aside from general inconvenience, how can this be allowed to happen while Lancaster Gate is shut until the summer?” 

Foxes – what you say 

“On the subject of foxes in the Monmouth Road (South) area, these will be the foxes that live in the gardens bounded by Westbourne Grove, Monmouth Road, Leinster Square and Hereford Road. They have been here for many years – certainly the eleven or so that I’ve been here in Leinster Square. They are quite vocal at this time of year and so are likely to be more noticeable to residents. A few times I have disturbed one snoozing in our back garden, but they don’t cause any trouble. Of course bagged food waste on the pavements will attract their interest, often with messy results, but the frequent visits by the bin men and street cleaners generally keep things pretty clean.”

“There is at least one which has visited my garden for years. My next door neighbour has mentioned hearing it at night and quite recently when I was in the kitchen I heard noises which suggested fox activity in my back yard. I have never heard this before and would not usually hear anything from an animal because of my hearing difficulties so I was quite surprised. The neighbours have also mentioned seeing a fox in my garden. None of us particularly minds this because no damage is done, it’s just there.”

“I would also like to my my concerns regarding the unacceptable amount of foxes in the area now (I live in Kildare Terrace) who are roaming at will around all the gardens and roads here on nearly a 24 hour daily basis.”

The Council has issued the following advice on foxes which we hope is helpful https://www.westminster.gov.uk/foxes

What you say

“Thank you so much for your very informative and interesting email”

“Thanks for this newsletter, very worthwhile to read and I can see you are working hard to address problems.” 

“Great stuff chaps”

“Thank you once again for a most informative newsletter”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Regards

Angela Piddock and Andy Whitley

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – February 2017

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Kensington Gardens Square

We have asked the Council to continue its investigations and action against Deliveroo:

“I would like to underscore the seriousness of the Deliveroo problem. In addition to the noise I have the problem of cigarette ash, cigarette ends and rubbish on the steps and in the porch of the house which is due to the Deliveroo people sitting on there in their spare time. I have corresponded directly with Deliveroo who said they would do something about the issue, but have not. One thing Westminster Council can do is to have a traffic warden regularly poiice the area around Nando’s. Most of the day there are motor cycles parked on double yellow lines.”

“We have been living in the neighbourhood since last May and we became increasingly frustrated by the level of disturbance created by these gangs of young Deliveroo boys that are constantly camping on the threshold of our home. Not to speak of the noise and the rubbish they keep leaving behind. Before leaving for Christmas vacation I actually had to call Police over as they assaulted our neighbour as he was just trying to tell them to be quiet as they kept shouting in the street.” 

The Council Officers tell us that they will be focusing on three strands of work:

  • A review of the anti-social behaviour tools available to us to see if any of the behaviour we are seeing would warrant us using the powers we have under the legislation.  In order to do so we have to build an evidence base that includes community impact statements from those affected.
  • Consideration of options to include licensing conditions on licenced premises that puts a duty on to them to ensure appropriate behaviour and management of any delivery company that they employ.
  • Considering changes to parking restrictions where it would be appropriate to do so

Alexander Street 

We are urging the Council to take action against the repeated nuisance caused by residents in a basement property in Alexander Street. Residents say:

It’s past 2am in the morning and the extreme loud music, shouts and screams, noise by some of their friends in the street is reaching inhuman levels. These antisocial neighbours keep doing whatever they want to do and thus destroying our lives”

Hallfield School

We have again asked the Council’s Parking team to tackle this continuing issue: 

Yet again I have to contact you about this issue. Today parents are parked across roads, in private driveways, blocking junctions, blocking traffic, forcing other parents with children to walk in the road because their cars are on the pavement. When parents and children are forced to walk on the road, vehicles often cannot see them because of the cars parked illegally blocking sight-lines. It is dangerous.  There are no traffic wardens on site.  When there is an accident and a child is hurt, will someone mind then?

Surely the Council should always have wardens here actively penalising illegally parked drivers and moving them on? Why has no one considered my suggestion that they be allowed to park with a notice in their cars in residents’ bays, single yellows or parking bays for a limited period of time? They could then leave their cars somewhere safe without fear of being ticketed while they collect or deliver their children and not cause the traffic chaos that happens on a twice daily basis. This happens in other Westminster schools, why not around Hallfield?”

Bark Place 

We have asked the Council to include Bark Place in the streets to be considered as a 20mph pilot after receiving this message: 

“People basically see a straight line between Moscow Road and Bayswater Road and drive very quickly down Bark Place. Would be great if we could make it 20 mph or do something to slow then down.”

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“Now that the development of the north side of Leinster Square has moved to the old Umi Hotel site, the builders are getting away with murder again, this time with the lack of parking suspensions for the residents’ parking bays opposite the site. They frequently close the road for deliveries without any warning, and last week had the neck to blame it on cars parked in the parking bays!”

We have also asked the Council to liaise with the police following reports from residents about people loitering in the square. 

Leinster Square parking 

We have asked the Council investigate this issue:

“The seeming abandonment of two vehicles opposite the newly developed 7-12 Leinster Square. One is a Rolls Royce without a valid residents’ permit (expired Nov 16) and the other is a Jaguar XJS with no visible permit. The spaces are shared residents/paid parking, so it’s entirely possible that the owner(s) may be paying vast amounts to keep the vehicles there, but as they have been there for several weeks and haven’t apparently moved at all, they are just taking up spaces that could be used by people who actually live here. We foresaw this as a problem when the development was first proposed, and I fear that as the flats and town houses get sold we will see more of this until there’s nowhere for ‘real’ residents to park. “

Paddington Cube

In a letter to the Times, Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, wrote:

“The Cube is an overscaled intruder, over three times the size of its neighbours. Ambulances currently struggle to reach St Mary’s hospital, but one of the strongest objections to the Cube, brushed aside by Westminster City Council, was from the London Ambulance Service. Historic England, national heritage groups and local residents’ associations have also raised concerns, hence our call for a public inquiry.”

Notting Hill Carnival

The London Assembly Police & Crime Committee examined the issue of policing and safety at Carnival. It looked at aspects such as the crime levels at Carnival; what safety planning takes place; how it is policed; and what the Mayor can do to support those responsible for keeping Carnival safe.

The report highlights that London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET), needs more help and guidance from the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to get a grip on public safety at the event. It recommends that the Mayor should:

  • help the LNHCET to put it on a more formal and financially sustainable footing, giving it greater responsibility and ownership of Carnival.
  • in partnership with the LNHCET, examine the evidence base for change and consider the range of options to improve crowd management and safety.

https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/pcc_report_-_notting_hill_carnival_safer_and_better.pdf

Monmouth Road – what you say

“Have any Bayswater Residents mentioned Foxes being on the increase in Bayswater? We have not only one Fox but a pack around Monmouth Road W2 (South) roaming at all hours of the late afternoon till the early hours in the morning on the street, pavements and in the gardens” 

What you say

“This is an excellent communication – very helpful. Thank you”

“Thank you for the excellent work you do on behalf of the community”

“Many thanks for another eagerly awaited Action Report”

“Thanks for your excellent newsletter and continual work for the local electorate”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – January 2017

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Dear Resident

Happy New Year!

The Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team has been taking up issues on your behalf and standing up for local residents.

Along with Karen Buck MP, we take up individual cases, as well as local issues of concern. Below are some of the local issues we have been taking up recently, many as a result of residents’ responses to our regular newsletters. Let us know if we can take up a local issue in the area. You can read our latest news on https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/

You can also read this report at    https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/lancaster-gate-ward/

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Please feel free to pass this report on to any of your neighbours who may be interested.

Lancaster Gate Tube Station Closure 

We are supporting residents who are angry at TfL’s decision to close Lancaster Gate tube station for seven months in January – giving just one month’s notice – in order to replace both lifts. There is a campaign, ‘Don’t close Lancaster Gate Station’ which argues that the lifts could be replaced one at a time as in the case of Caledonian Road Station

  • Why can’t TfL replace the lifts one by one? – TfL state that they explored the option of repairing the lifts one at a time and say they can’t for safety reasons. This has proven untrue for Caledonian Road Station, where residents and the council successfully mounted a legal challenge to TfL’s unilateral decision to close the station. TfL are now replacing the lifts one by one at Caledonian Road, minimising the incredible disruption to customers that we too will suffer if these plans go ahead.
  • TfL has claimed that it can’t keep the station open due to safety issues – this was found to be misleading in the case of Caledonian Road 
  • What’s the impact to the station users? This closure will increase daily commutes by half an hour every day due to the walk to Queensway or Marble Arch Station. That’s 2.5 hours extra commute a week. For elderly or disabled users of the station, this extra walk is not viable. These users will have to spend extra money on taxis or not travel at all.

Kensington Gardens Square/Westbourne Grove

We have asked the Council to take action with Deliveroo to deal with this issue:

“For the past month or so our corner of London has become a bit more ‘vibrant’  as Deliveroo workers mostly cyclists but a few scooters too, have begun congregating in a large noisy crowd on the pavement outside our house. Each evening cycle delivery operatives dressed in bright distinctive Deliveroo livery are joined by their friends from school and they enjoy a large noisy street party.  

The crowd mostly of teenage boys, their bicycles, their delivery boxes, their beers and snacks, hang about blocking the pavement on one side of the street, shout at each other, argue, throw rubbish around and chase each other about, whilst they wait for an occasional request for a cycle delivery. Their noisy conversations and banter drifting up from the street below form the backdrop to our lives here – only its all the time and at we’re at home. I implore could someone at Deliveroo please get these guys to go somewhere else – where they can’t bother so many people. I have spoken to the police and they promised to do something but unfortunately so far nothing has happened and clearly there must be far more serious crimes happening elsewhere which are tying up police resources”

The Council say:

“We will get onto this immediately.  This is not an easy issue to solve as on the face of it there is no offence being committed that either the Council or Police can take action against.  However, we have worked with Deliveroo, and the restaurants that use them, to try and get their cyclists/scooters off the street when they are not undertaking deliveries. “

Bayswater Road

We asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“Could you look at the situation with regards to the redevelopment at 154 Bayswater Road. It concerns a former hotel being converted into flats. The construction engineers have encroached substantially on to the pavement with partitions.  The pavement is already narrow and there is considerable pedestrian traffic particularly at weekends with tourists heading to Portobello Market. For pedestrians to pass each other this often necessitates stepping into the road which is extremely hazardous due to bicycles, buses and general traffic. During the past 6 months there has been absolutely no activity at the building site. It has been closed off and no workmen on site. Can you investigate how much longer the partitions will be there on the pavement.”

The Council has told us:

“We met with the new contractor for this site. It sounds like the developer has been having issues with the original contractor and hence there being no site activity for some time and a new contractor being appointed. While on site we did raise the issue of the location of the current hoarding line and the gradient of the existing crossover. The contractor is discussing this with their client and will confirm if the hoarding can be realigned and crossover made good. The current temporary structure licence expires on 28 January 2017.”

Cleveland Square

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“In response to the 6-week trial of the Cleveland Square bin removal, I live outside the SW set of bins and since the trial started, the amount of overflow to both recycled and general waste bins is excessive and surrounding the bins, especially if the recycled bins were locked. The recycled bins have remained unlocked in the past 4 weeks and the piling up with the open bin has continued. I am not sure which residents requested the SE bins to be removed, but the amount of refuse that is now being left at the SW corner is becoming unsanitary and unsafe when it is piled off the curb and onto the road.”

Paddington Cube

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has started a petition to the Secretary of State to

“Stop the proposed 19 storey mega block known as the Paddington Cube and the destruction of a key historic building in a key London conservation area. The massive scale of this square office tower would be a blot on the capital – substantially imposing itself over its immediate neighbours – including Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s grade I listed Paddington Station. Conservation area status should offer protection against such harmful development. This proposal sets a dangerous precedent – and sends out the message that London is trashing its conservation areas.” 

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-paddington-cube-historic-london-townscape-under-unprecedented-threat?source=twitter-share-button

SAVE has called for a public inquiry into Westminster City Council’s handling of the planning application for the “Paddington Cube” office block. The proposed £775 million development next to the railway station was given the green light by councillors earlier this month. SAVE Britain’s Heritage said objections from Historic England and the London Ambulance Service had been “brushed aside” at the meeting of the planning committee that granted the consent. In a letter to The Times SAVE also accused the council’s deputy leader Cllr Robert Davis, who chaired the committee, of speaking out in favour of the scheme before public comments had been made. 

Queen’s Grove 

We have reported this issue to the Council and asked that the contractors be instructed to clean up properly in future: 

“Recently works were carried out in the western section of Queen’s Grove which involved laying new service conduit on both sides of the road. Part of the excavations for this work involved loads of mud and earth been dropped and stored on the pavement and the road, particularly outside numbers 1 to 3 Queen’s Grove. When the barriers and surplus materials were removed and the earth taken away there was no effort to hose down the residual mud and earth. It was merely scraped up crudely. As a result, the road in this section is covered in mud which is being brought into peoples houses and it is impossible to avoid the mud when trying to access cars in this stretch.  It is still impossible to walk in this area without walking in thick mud and taking it into one’s car or into one’s home and it is absolutely amazing that the road should have been be left in this condition by contractors. Is it possible to locate whoever should be responsible and get them with high-pressure hose to wash out from this area and other areas in the west side of Queen’s Grove which are similarly affected?  It is shameful that no one seems to be able to do a job properly these days without any consideration for how a site is left or consider of the effect upon residents.”

Lancaster Gate cycle lane works – what you say

“TfL is completely ignoring the convenience of beleaguered bus passengers in this total mess at Lancaster Gate. All this effort for the bicycles and nothing for the buses that carry thousands of people each day — rain or shine. Also, TfL has never explained why this project is taking so long. I often pass by and see just two or three people working. “ 

“The Lancaster Gate roadworks are just a continuation of 10 years of disruptive roadworks, congestion, pollution and dangerous driving in this area. The toxic air has also been made worse by all the demolition and massive construction over this period. The congestion and frustrated, dangerous driving, will be further compounded by the new cycle routes and replacement of Zebra crossings with Traffic Light Crossings.”

“There a lots of angry drivers and taxis go through Lancaster Gate. One of the main frustrations is that there is a total lack of information about the duration of the works which look like open ended. Also I believe that it is not the cycling lane but deeper excavations works that are delaying everything. Taxi drivers said to me they don’t understand why cars will still have to go around the Lancaster hotel and cannot drive through Bayswater road both ways. “

“The amount of traffic spilling onto Craven Hill, Devonshire Terrace has improved in the last week, I am not sure why, perhaps they have changed the traffic light phasing to alleviate the situation. We are looking forward to these works being finally over in the hope that traffic will flow more freely around the Lancaster Gate area when all is done.” 

Queen’s Gardens – what you say

“Just wanted to say that I live a few doors down from the Queen’s Gardens’ bins that have just been removed for a trial. What a relief, the dumping was getting completely out of control! It will take some time for those irresponsible ‘dumpers’ to reprogramme themselves from that site, but it is lessening already. It is such a shame as having the bins there (used properly) was a great bonus, if only there was a way to keep them but set up cameras or surveillance to catch and stop the dumpers.”

Paddington Children’s Library – what you say

“I was very impressed by the follow up of the people in charge of the children library and their concern for the choice and stock of books. Many thanks again for raising the issue” 

Westbourne Terrace – what you say

“For the last several years Westbourne Terrace has borne the traffic impact of the effective closure of Eastbourne Terrace for the Crossrail works. Westbourne Terrace is also having its effective vehicular traffic surface cut in half by the bicycle highway.

For both those reasons it is essential that the amount of heavy, and public transport vehicles is reduced once Crossrail is complete and Eastbourne Terrace can be reopened. I would stress that Westbourne is a residential street, whereas Eastbourne is purely commercial. It should take back most if not all of the buses.”

What you say

“Thanks – this is very interesting” 

“Many thanks for this very informative newsletter.” 

“Excellent as always. Thank you.” 

“Thank you so much for your local updates, much appreciated!”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

If you do not want to receive this update please let us know and we will remove your details from our list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – December 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Chepstow Road

Following our enquiries about the poor state of the roadway along Chepstow Road the Council has told us the following: 

“Residents and businesses along Chepstow Road are experiencing vibrations and this is partly due to the carriageway surface profiles and manhole covers which require adjustments. The existing surface course in Chepstow Road is stone mastic asphalt (SMA) which has a shorter life than hot rolled asphalt (HRA). We have secured funding to convert SMA to HRA throughout the City and will include Chepstow Road as a top priority as part of the conversion programme which commences from April 2017 and this will have positive impact when the road is completely resurfaced.” 

We are also making enquiries in to the Bus Reliability scheme on which the Council is consulting and about which some residents say they were only given one week to comment. Residents say “the Council should be made aware of the fact that the residents and shop owners have been given either little or no notice of these proposals.” 

Kildare Terrace 

We are helping residents in Kildare Terrace who are are having difficulties with their postal address. They say: 

“Would you be able to assist in us getting our address back? Our building in Kildare Terrace has always been known as Kildare Court, 11-15 Kildare Terrace, W2 5JU.That is because it is situated at 11-15 Kildare Terrace.

Though the post code refers to the building we have found out that the numerical address has been removed making it difficult for cabs, deliveries or visitors to find.”

We have been liaising with the Council about this and hope that residents will soon get back their address!

Kildare Gardens 

We reported severe flooding in Kildare Gardens to the Council who told us:

“We have our highway contractor going out this afternoon to see what can be done as an emergency to manage or remove the water, or if any obvious quick fix is available for the gully. Our drainage contractors should be out there tomorrow to have a more in depth look at the gully itself.” 

Porchester Road

We asked the Council to remove a large dumped fridge outside the shops on Porchester Road.

Paddington Cube

The Victorian Society has joined Historic England in objecting to the Paddington Cube. The revised scheme comprises a 14-storey, 33,500 sq m office block that replaced earlier plans for a 72-storey pole, which was withdrawn.

The London Ambulance Service and St Mary’s Hospital have also lodged objections to the development saying it would delay “critical transfers” to accident and emergency. The London Ambulance Service said: “The new access road will increase journey times for ambulances accessing the St Mary’s site. Any increase in journey times during time-critical transfers is likely to be detrimental to the patients’ outcome and quality of life.” In another submission, Dr Tracey Batten, chief executive of St Mary’s, said they held “grave concerns” about “risks to the long-term future of the hospital access”. They also raised concerns that their designation as the capital’s flagship “major trauma centre” would also be jeopardised.

The South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) also said access to St Mary’s could be impeded. Its objection said: “We fear ambulances will be seriously delayed in reaching the hospital in South Wharf Road. Praed Street gets highly choked up every day and buses already have great difficulty in passing through this two-way section, due to the volume of vehicles passing through and the constant deliveries by large trucks and small vans on the shops side.”

http://www.westendextra.com/ambulance-cube-risk

Short term lettings – Airbnb

Complaints about “nuisance” noise from Airbnb properties have increased more than seven-fold over the past year. Labour MP for Westminster North Karen Buck said:

“Residents in some apartment blocks are effectively living in a hotel. The comings and goings and their general expectation of being on holiday often add up to disturbance. And unlike in a hotel, there is no one there to manage the situation when problems occur.” 

Karen wants to know your views and has organised a survey which you can complete here

http://www.karenbuck.org.uk/my_short_term_lets_survey

Paddington Children’s Library

We have asked the Director of Libraries to invesrtigate this issue:

“I have seen the new Paddington library in Queensway with the kids section. It is gloomy and rather depressing. There are few books. When I look at the Kensington and Chelsea library on King’s Road which is a delight for kids to go to and what we have here in Paddington the gap is immense. My kids don’t even want to go to the Paddington one. They don’t like it at all and I cannot blame them, it is all but an attractive space where kids want to come, discover, sit and read. Will anything be done to make it more appealing? “

Cleveland Square 

We have asked the Council about this issue: 

“The council have taken the decision to remove 6 of the 9 bins around Cleveland Square, as a trial in order to try and combat dumping at the sites. Rather predictably, the rubbish is now being dumped where the bins used to be. I know there is sometimes furniture left at these sites but very often it ends up being recycled amongst the neighbours. Please can you request that the bins be returned? I would much rather they focused their attention on the inordinate amount of dog poo which is being left on the pavements.”

The Council say:

“There are currently two ‘bin removal trials’ in progress – in Queens Gardens and Cleveland Square (south-east corner). Both trials were implemented in response to requests from local residents for their removal. The Queens Gardens bins were removed on 24th October and the Cleveland Square bins removed on 31st October; both trials are scheduled to run for six weeks when a decision will be taken on whether to make the removal permanent or for the bins to be returned. Both locations are being visited at least three times per day by waste collection vehicles to clear any dumped waste and City Inspectors are also conducting frequent monitoring visits to identify fly-tippers.”

Cycle lane works at the Royal Lancaster Hotel area

We have asked the Council and TfL to investigate the safety of the roadworks at this location after receiving this message:

“I am emailing you to ask for your help in sorting out the complete and utter dangerous and polluting mess and disruption the cycle lane works are causing in the area around Lancaster Gate. I am raising this issue today in particular as I was a whisker away from being killed on the road by a frustrated driver who speed down Queens Gardens in an effort to get away from gridlock on the Bayswater Road, Craven Hill and Devonshire Terrace. This is however not the first time since the road works began at Lancaster Gate that we have encountered drivers speeding in the area trying to get away from gridlock on the Bayswater Road, Craven Hill, Craven Terrace, Devonshire Terrace and the Eastern End of Queens Gardens. “ 

The Evening Standard reports:

“Months of roadworks at Lancaster Gate to extend the segregated track north of Hyde Park has led to traffic gridlock, according to locals. The road has been reduced to one lane between Brook Street and Lancaster Gate, causing daily jams. Locals described motorists shouting and swearing as they jostled for space. One resident said it took 40 minutes to drive a mile on Bayswater Road. “

The Council tells us that the cycle lane works are due to be completed and open in December of 2016 with carriageway resurfacing to be completed in early 2017.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/residents-say-chaos-of-lancaster-gate-cycle-superhighway-building-work-is-making-their-lives-a-a3404406.html 

Bus Shelter

We have written to TfL about this issue: 

“I wonder if you would be able to tell me the procedure for complaining about removal of a bus stop shelter? I use it on the way to work. However it is in Notting Hill and not in Westminster but in K&C. It has recently been ‘upgraded’ and the shelter, which used to tell us what buses are on the way using a display, has been taken away and replaced by a new electronic advertising hoarding and nothing else, so there is no shelter and nowhere to sit down, just the big, flashing advertising board and the bus stop post. It is a well-used bus stop and it is on a wide pavement, so I don’t know why it has been removed.”

Praed Street taxis 

We have again asked the Council and TfL to deal with the unsatisfactory situation:

“The situation is getting worse not better. Yesterday morning there were 50 cabs spanning 3 blocks. The traffic is suffering. We the residents are suffering from worse air quality as they all run their engines. The ambulances are being impeded.”

Christmas Alone?

Do you know anyone in Westminster who will be spending Christmas alone? There’s no need to be alone – join Everyone Active Events for a free Christmas Day dinner at Porchester Hall. Guests will enjoy a three-course Christmas dinner courtesy of Waitrose followed by carols and films. Please think of older neighbours who may benefit from this event and pass this invite on to them. Register at porchesterhallevents@everyoneactive.com or call 020 7792 2823. More info here https://www.westminster.gov.uk/spend-christmas-together

Carnival – Update 

We asked the Council for an update on the review of this year’s Carnival and have been told the following:

“The multi-agency officer level review was due to take place a week ago, however I have been informed that it was cancelled following a request from the GLA for evidence in relation to its own review, which is specifically focused on security. The multi-agency review has yet to be rescheduled, however we are pushing for this to take place sooner rather than later.

Without the outcomes from the multi-agency review, it is difficult to say what changes are planned, however there does appear to be a focus on stewarding and policing arrangements, which is to be expected.  Consideration is also being given to how best to manage the sound systems and their impact.  There are three licenced sound systems in the Westminster footprint of Carnival and we are working with the police on how best to manage these and the other sound systems in both WCC and RBKC.

There is an expectation that the Council will work with the two sound systems at either end of Leamington Road Villas to see whether or not fencing can be introduced to try and mitigate the impact of the number of people Leamington Road Villas on residents of the road and this is something that we are currently looking into.”

‘Iceberg’ Basement Developments

The link below is from the Government, asking for comments on ‘iceberg’ basement developments. If you have particular views, please do submit them by 16th December.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/564556/161031_Basements_Call_for_Evidence_Final.pdf 

Power Cuts 

We have received this message about power cuts:

“UK Power Networks delivers the electricity to homes and businesses in Westminster, and it’s our job to make sure that the lights stay on. Since 2010 we have reduced the frequency of power cuts by 42%, however we recognise that while power cuts are less frequent, when they do still occur they can be very worrying, especially to older people, people with chronic medical conditions or parents of very young children.  That’s why we have set up a ‘Priority Services Register’ to enable us to identify vulnerable people quickly in the event of a power cut and get them the help they need.

Do you or someone you know need extra support during a power cut? Although power cuts don’t happen very often when they do they can be worrying.  UK Power Networks provides a ‘Priority Services Register’ for people who might need extra help in a power cut.  Older people, families with very young children, and people with specific medical conditions are among the many people who are eligible to register for free support.  You can find more details and register by visiting ukpowernetworks.co.uk/prioritysupport or calling 0800 169 9970.” 

Porchester Road – what you say

“A resident was outlining in the previous months that there was a lack of green/trees in front of Waitrose compared to what was before. I think so too. Everything look very paved, this space really lacks greens and trees and it is a shame that there has not been more planting but just big concrete planters. “

Library cuts – what you say

“I use both Porchester and Maida Vale libraries. I believe that libraries improve the cultural value of their communities beyond economic measure. WCC have just made one million pounds by approving the hated Hathaway House development on Woodfield Rd – the Council has the money to spend.”

“I use Porchester library all the time, either to borrow books or researching on its pcs. My son and his friends use the Children library nearly every day!”

What you say

“Thanks for the newsletter and this new very nice presentation! “ 

“Thank you very much for all the updates, which I always read in their entirety and find interesting.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – November 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Pavement works around Waitrose in Porchester Road

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“For some reason there is now a large telephone junction box in the middle of the pavement (not, as is usually the case, to one side) in Porchester Road just by the corner of Waitrose. I’ve already seen someone with a pram having to back out from the gap between this box and the building because someone in a wheelchair was coming the other way, and I think it will be a serious obstruction to any blind person who encounters it. I have no idea why it was put there, but maybe it’s something the council should look into.”

Westbourne Grove – update

Following our enquiry about pavement cycling near Evans cycle shop on Westbourne Grove we have received the following update from the Council:

“The local police team’s dedicated ward officers have agreed to visit the premises today to speak to the manager.  They will ask that staff are more proactive in advising customers not to cycle on the pavement when visiting the store.  In addition, they will keep an eye on the location going forward to ensure things improve.”

Kensington Gardens Square 

We have asked the Council to investigate long-running anti-social behavior outside a number of properties in Kensington Gardens Square.

Leinster Square 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I would like to bring your attention to a problem in Leinster Square.  The former Look Ahead Hostel at numbers 29 and 30 Leinster Square was closed some time ago and bought by developers.  It has become a magnet for street drinkers and rough sleepers who leave a lot of mess including food, bedding and, I’m advised, human excrement.  There is a now a problem with rats in some of the properties nearby and some of us have seen rats around the hostel.  We have been waiting for some time for some hoardings to be erected.  Anything that you can do to help with this would be much appreciated.”

The Council says:

“Our Environmental Health team will be contacting the owners of the premises to check on the reported pest issues and determine what further action may be required to resolve any problems. In addition, this location has been flagged to both our City Inspector service and the local police team.  Officers have already checked the premises and found it to be secure at this time.  The location will be regularly monitored and any associated nuisance behaviour or waste issues will be dealt with.” 

Queensway

According to the press:

“A planning application lodged with Westminster City Council reveals a £30 million revamp to a key block just north of Bayswater Tube Station. A report submitted to the council by Emrys Architects explains that the site currently contains “a number of low-rise buildings in poor condition, and empty back-land spaces which have development potential.” The report says the plan will restore the “poor condition” shops along Queensway to their “former historic glory,” setting a “precedent to improve the existing retail in the area”.” 

Queensway begging

We have asked the Council and the Police to take what ever action they can to stop the recurring begging on Queensway and outside Waitrose:

“The gang of begging men and group of begging Ladies has recently grown and a further two men have now joined them. They had been sleeping in Pickering Mews next to Heals until recently, but I read here they have been moved on. But I saw them yesterday morning at the rear of 51 Porchester Road (where the church had recently been knocked down) so the problem has not been resolved.”

“I have noticed several people begging in the street recently. I’ll keep an eye out and note their positions, and write back to you with the times I see them. That might also help the Council who can’t possibly keep an officer in the street the whole time. They usually seem to be on the south side of the street but I think I’ve also seen people on the north side.” 

Gloucester Terrace and Ranelagh Bridge

We have asked the Director of Housing to investigate this issue:

“I am emailing you now because a few of us residents have noticed that a group of, presumably, homeless people appear to have moved into the sunken area at the end of the terrace of houses, at the junction of Gloucester Terrace and Ranelagh Bridge.  Are you able to arrange help for them to find a better solution to their problem?”

The Council told us: 

“These are believed to be Romanian nationals and may be part of the same group using 51 Porchester Road. City West Homes have confirmed that this site is CWH fire assembly point and am awaiting confirmation it is their land. If that is the case then tent notices and banning letters can be issued. I have asked if we have any information about people who are begging around the west of the borough. Once we have more names it is hoped that we can compare and see if any enforcement action can be pursued.”

Praed Street taxis

We have again asked the Council to take action. Residents say: 

“Can I echo a complaint re the taxi rank along Praed Street. Today there were 30 taxis in this unofficial rank. This is causing frequent grid lock due to the rank occupying the left turn lane and other cabs blocking London street by dropping off. It is significantly contributing to an increase in local traffic causing congestion between Gloucester Terrace and Edgware Road. It is blocking the pavement by the rank with people entering and leaving cabs. Far more importantly there is a significant danger that they are impeding ambulances getting down Praed Street/London Road to St Mary’s.”

The Council say:

“Some short term enforcement activity by TfL has taken place at Praed Street which has not been overly effective.  However, TfL has recently increased the size of their enforcement team and I have been informed that additional resources are being prioritised to deal with the taxi over-ranking at Praed Street. The forthcoming changes and consultation on bus routes will also allow a reconsideration of how Praed Street is laid out in 2018 when the changes are implemented. 

Changes to the layout of the Praed Street/London Street junction may also be implemented as part of any redevelopment of the Royal Mail Group site, for which a revised planning application will be consulted on.  These changes could widen footways to create more pedestrian space and reduce the amount of carriageway space available for taxis to queue. 

In view of this, the current approach is to see what the consultation responses are on the planning application, increase TfL enforcement in the short term and look at options for a public realm scheme that could create additional taxi ranking spaces. 

I appreciate that this is not an immediate solution, however we are in ongoing discussions with TfL on this issue in order to try and find the best solution for all road users and I will provide a further update once we have heard from TfL.”

Residents say:

“Many thanks for the update. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a fast solution. Things did improve for a short while but the taxis are slowly building up again. It’s unpleasant being forced to breathe in the diesel fumes from the taxis who leave their engines running when I walk to and from the station on my daily commute. I think the answer for me in the short term is to walk along the other side of Praed Street. Thanks again for following up on this.”

Library service cuts 

We are calling on Westminster City Council to halt its plans to take the axe to our much loved local library services.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-our-library-services

Libraries are a vital source of learning and education in our communities. They are a cherished public good we cannot do without.

It is deeply concerning that the Tory Council plans to cut £750,000 per year from the Westminster Libraries budget. This is the equivalent of more than 17 full-time members of staff. In effect this would mean losing qualified librarians who have a passion for helping our communities access life-long learning and education.

There are alternatives. The Council should be looking at ways of generating revenues, not relentlessly cutting. It could look at raising money through digital access to the council’s treasure trove of books and maps in the City Archives.

On top of that, Westminster City Council doesn’t seem to think it necessary to consult the community. That only adds insult to injury.

We call for the Council to halt its plans. Local and national government can’t continue with this relentless attack on public services. This must be stopped

What you say

“Many thanks for the report, it’s always very interesting”

“Many thanks for your newsletter, it’s always interesting and helpful to know what’s going on and what is being done to resolve issues.” 

“Thanks for this newsletter.  I find it very useful to keep up with outstanding issues in the neighbourhood.”

“Many thanks for the Newsletter, it was great to get this through, very efficient to see the breakdown of everything. I was very surprised to see the bike posts go up outside Waitrose within a week!” 

“Thanks so much for the updates!” 

“May I say how interesting and useful I find your regular emails – many thanks.” 

“I can’t tell you how impressed I am at both the speed and efficiency with which my query is being handled.”

“Thanks so much for the action and updates”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – October 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Porchester Road

We have raised this issue with the Council:

“The recycling bins have been moved to an alcove. Rubbish is dumped next to the bins and not cleaned up. The alcove is filthy and will eventually attract rats. This would never have been allowed to happen when the bins were out in the open. Those bins were on the corner of Porchester Road for years without a user manual and people struggled through opening and closing lids without the council’s assistance.” 

We have also asked if the pavement can be deep cleaned after receiving this message: 

“The stretch of Porchester Road opposite Waitrose is probably one of the dirtiest pavements anywhere. Considering there are two shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables, a fish and a burger restaurant and a bus stop along this stretch, is there anyway you could persuade the establishments to keep their areas clean, or get the council to clean it regularly please.”

The Council told us:

“This stretch of footway was given a thorough wash this morning. The local City Inspector will also be visiting local businesses to check that they are not allowing oils etc. to seep out of any waste bags they put on the pavement for collection

Sainsbury’s, 169 Queensway

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“We are having a lot of issues with the amount of noise Sainsbury’s is making and waking us all up at ungodly hours on Queensway.” 

Begging in Queensway and outside Waitrose

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“A group of women have been free begging on Queensway for the past two years. The issue is escalating. There used to be between three and four of them, now the group is up to seven. There are sleeping in Porchester Gardens throughout the day, begging up of down Queensway and are now stationing themselves outside Waitrose. They’ve been seen stealing from Waitrose, The rise in this type of crime and in begging in this area has gone unchecked and should be tackled more aggressively. “

The Council say:

“We have recently served a Community Protection Notice on a foreign national who was witnessed regularly begging in this locality. We have not seen him in the area since this action was taken and during the past couple of weeks have not seen evidence of much begging activity taking place in Queensway during the daytime.

“We have been in contact with Waitrose’s Area Manager and he informed us that there is occasional begging around the lobby area of the store.  They are dealing with this by requesting the offenders to immediately leave the premises. Anyone witnessed begging the City Inspector will be issued with a Community Protection Warning Notice and will also be reported to the local police team.”

Bicycle racks outside Waitrose

We are chasing the Council about this issue:

“When the work began on the new Waitrose and a lot of work was done on the pavement in Porchester Road I think the Council assured me that the bicycle racks would eventually be restored.  This has not happened and now the railings on the corner have also been removed. This may look neater but it means the dozens of cyclist who use Waitrose no longer have any secure railings.”

Queensway 

We have asked the Council to look into this issue: 

“We have had recently a change of pedestrian lights on Queensway which makes a lot of noise for warning before the lights change. It is in front of Tesco’s which is a very small part of street and it makes no sense to have it there. It is alarming and on Queensway you can imagine there is a lot of activity hence the noise can end up happening until late at night and start early in the morning and with a very high frequency. We know TfL is in charge of this but they are not responding and I want to understand who asked for this lights to be put in place from the council and how can we reason with them to explain how the lights make no sense and generate a distressful amount of noise for the people living on top of the shops in front of Whiteleys. “ 

‘Paddington Cube’

You can make comments on the planning application for the 14 storey ‘Paddington Cube’ office proposals at 31 London Street. The application documents can be viewed online at http://www.westminster.gov.uk/planning. Please use the reference number 16/09050/FULL 

Palace Court – BT fibre delay

We have asked the Council about this issue:

“Could you find out from BT what is going on with the upgrade to BT exchange WEWBAY, cabinet 71 adjacent to the exchange at the top of Palacr Court please? The rollout seems continually delayed with build expected in 3 months for the past 12 and now build expected in the next 5. I really struggle to see how in this day and age it is not possibly to complete rollout of fibre broadband in such a major metropolitan area.” 

Praed Street

We have asked the Council to take action on this long-standing problem:

“Is anything being done about the taxis that queue up from Paddington Station along Praed Street and Craven Road? Nearly every morning on my way to work they are backed up almost all the way to Westbourne Terrace. They leave their engines running creating air pollution which I have to breathe in on my way to the tube. Why are they allowed to queue here when the taxi rank is on the other side of the station?“ 

Westbourne Terrace

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“Due to increasing traffic, high speed of most of the cars and even buses (the number of buses has become very important on this section of Westbiurne Terrace), and the lack of proper road maintenance/good repair condition given the heavy and high traffic, we are suffering strong ground vibrations that are starting to cause serious damages to our property. It is so bad that we feel the floor literally lifting up when we are seated in our sofa and we can see start of damage in the floor itself. besides a number of cracks observed all over the walls of this listed building.”

Fraud Alert 

Please be aware of this growing concern:

My friend’s elderly father was scammed recently.  A company telephoned and told him they could help him get a Council Tax rebate because he was being overcharged.  He gave his card details but fortunately my friend managed to stop the payment and card.   

There is a website where you can report any dodgy calls etc. It’s an official website which collates frauds and gets local police forces to take action – http://www.actionfraud.police.uk” 

What you say

“Thanks for your newsletter, it’s a great help.”

“Thank you for these updates”

“Thanks again for your help.”

“Thank you for your newsletter which demonstrates a willing to tackle issues on behalf of the residents far surpassing anything demonstrated by the councillors when I ring or email via official channels.”

“Thank you for inquiring, supporting and resolving residents’ concerns.”

“Thanks for these interesting reports.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – September 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Kildare Terrace

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“We have old fashioned round rubbish bins housed in cupboards outside the block at Kildare Court, Kildare Terrace, W2 5JU.These bins are either being stolen or rubbish is left in the housing cupboards.Is there a way of replacing them either with wheelie bins – or a large container – which would be both accessible to the residents and and manageable by the refuse team?The bin unit is built onto a sloping driveway and we would want to get containers that wouldn’t be stolen.”

The Council says:

“I’ll ask our Commercial Waste Team to contact residents directly – we have range of bin sizes/types that can be hired annually.” 

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to take action against noisy out of hours building works at two basement construction sites in Leinster Square.

We have also asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“As well as drainage problem Alchemi leaves bright lights on 24/7 in some of the flats. This is mostly in No 7 Leinster Square – 1st floor, 2nd floor and basement. These lights are causing light pollution across the square into the houses on the south side of Leinster Square all through the night.”

The Council say:

“We have spoken to Alchemi and they tell us that they have a technical problem at the moment which means that they cannot switch the lights off at night.  They are working on this and will provide an update as soon as they have resolved the issue. We have requested that all affected neighbours receive a letter drop from Alchemi saying that they are working to resolve the light issue and then confirming once it has been resolved.”

Waitrose – trees

The Council has confirmed that trees will be replanted in front of the enlarged Waitrose: 

“The tree pits are under the paving but we won’t be planting until the autumn as this is the optimum time to plant trees.” 

Porchester Road

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live on Porchester Road and recently our recycling and household waste bins have been moved into an alcove on the street which is locked at night. Onsite it says it’s open from 8am to 8 pm, but it often isn’t as I have to leave my refuse on the street outside the area, which I don’t want to have to do. Who is responsible for opening and closing the recycling point? Why is it not open 24 hours which would be my preference. No doubt someone will say to minimise noise at unsocial hours, but the recycled items (notably the glass) is collected by trucks at around 8am on Sunday mornings – which is very unsociable.”

The Council say:

“All on-street recycling bins should only be used between 8am and 8pm to reduce the impact on local residents (specifically from bottle recycling late at night). Placing the bins behind the shutters is one way to control the impact associated with the use of the facility. The management on-site at the Collonades is responsible for opening and closing the shutters for the recycling centre and I’ll ask an officer to speak to them about adhering to the specified opening times. As regards the collection  of general waste, residents are encouraged to use the doorstep collection for waste on Porchester Road which is 7 days a week. Waste can be presented from 8.30am for collection between 9 and 11am. It is worth remembering that the on-street general waste bins are installed to supplement the doorstep collection service and not replace them and we encourage all residents to use the doorstep waste and recycling collection services in the first instance.”

The resident responded:

 “I had no idea I could leave my general waste out the street. I’ve always considered this a nuisance, especially as the pavements are rarely (if ever cleaned) in my neighbourhood” 

Basement developments

Following concerted campaigning by Karen Buck MP and others, new residential basement rules have come into effect. New planning controls will limit basements to a single storey and will mean that new basements will not be allowed to be built underneath more than 50 per cent of total garden land.

Paddington Cube – what you say

“A ridiculous size”

“I’ve just looked at the Cube plans and I think that’s a very nice design which will greatly improve the area. While I am aware that so many of my fellow W2ers think any form of development is terrible until it is finished (when, oddly they often become a National Treasure) I think this Cube is just about right to balance the obvious commercial value and needs of what is currently a grotty and congested area. The Pole, on the other hand, was a monstrosity.”

“Ugly ! Could be an office block anywhere. Nothing distinctly Paddington about it and totally unsympathetic to all the surrounding buildings. How about something sympathetic to Brunel’s buildings or even the hotel frontage.”

“I’m personally in favour of a landmark building. We need something to ensure we are up there with the developments at Kings Cross, Battersea, Stratford and Southwark” 

“I agree entirely with Simon Jenkins’s article. WCC has run rampant, throwing up a Manhattan style city at Paddington with seemingly no effective opposition from within Local, Regional, or Central Government. Perhaps some honest transparency towards the electorate would make WCC more accountable. Something stinks here. Simon Jenkins is right: WCC needs to clean up its act.”

Westbourne Park Baptist Church – what you say

“Hope the District Surveyor doesn’t live to regret his claim that residents have no need to be afraid of vibrations causing damage to their buildings. Is he saying that vibrations never cause damage to buildings?”

Taxis illegally parking – what you say

“Taxis continue to illegally park on double yellow lines in Praed Street, often backed up across the other side of Eastbourne Terrace into Craven Road. As might be expected, obstructing a lane of traffic causes congestion and sometimes causes problems for ambulances trying to get to St Mary’s as quickly as possible. This illegal parking also makes it difficult for large vehicles, like buses, to pass each other.”

What you say

“Thank you for this thorough report and particularly for following up with the Council on the site of the former Greek Farmer.  It is good to know that White Stuff is coming back and taking on the mess there… But also fascinating that things only really seemed to start happening once you followed up the enquiry we made to you.  The heavy-duty hazardous waste drainage cleaning lorry, and the hoarding, appeared a few days after you reported this enquiry.  Coincidence?”

“Thank you for asking the Council to do clear the drain outside the gate of the communal gardens at Kildare Gardens. They haven’t done anything yet about the lake – but we live in hope. “ 

“Many thanks for the updates”

“Thanks for your help with these and more issues.”

“Thank you for your good work and information. Once again, thank you for your Group’s efforts.” 

“Thank you for your informative newsletter.”

“Thankyou for your continuing Action Reports. Much appreciated and looked forward too.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – August 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Former Greek Farmer restaurant, Westbourne Grove – update

Following our enquiries the Council tells us:

“There was previously a problem with drainage and flies that was treated at the time. The issue had arisen as a result of the previous occupier leaving all of his food stuff in the premises while it remained closed and, for reasons unknown, digging up the basement and exposing the drainage.  This led to major problems with foul odours and a severe infestation of drain flies.

Through the Council’s Pest Control section, a treatment was arranged for a thorough spray treatment last summer. However, as there was pooling water, the pesticide failed to kill all of the larvae.  The Environmental Health Enforcement Officer has been working with the managing agent over the last 12 months in an attempt to resolve the drainage issues.  A fogging treatment was undertaken on 25 May 2016. 

There have been difficulties in dealing with the ownership of this site as the freeholder is based in Switzerland and contact is through a law firm in Mayfair. The property had previously been let and then sublet, however, the company White Stuff is now the head lessee and have taken the property back with a view to bringing it up to standard and opening it up as one of their stores in the near future.

With respect to the rough sleepers that are using the shop front for bedding down, the Local City Inspector has engaged with the individuals and has made referrals on their behalf to St Mungos Broadway hotspots team who offer outreach support. The City Inspector has also contacted the Estate Manager for White Stuff to secure the property in the interim period.  White Stuff has now applied for a hoarding license and this is being dealt with as a priority application. Once this has been approved the property will be boarded up until the works are completed and the shop opens.”

Kildare Terrace and Gardens 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

The drains in Kildare Terrace and Gardens were not cleaned for the second time despite suspending the residents parking! When it rains the drain in the gardens opposite the entrance to the communal garden floods & there is an unpleasant smell.” 

Colonnades development

We have asked the Council for an update on the replacement trees programme in response to this enquiry:

This had been going on for 18 months. When it started, trees where removed from Porchester Road – one over 3 storeys tall. The new pavement is nearing completion, with no sign of trees or even spaces where trees will be planted. “

The Council tells us:

“The tree pits are under the paving but we won’t be planting until the autumn as this is the optimum time to plant trees.” 

Westbourne Park Baptist Church

We asked the District Surveyor to investigate this issue:

“I live at off Porchester Road and noticed this morning that my house was shaking. As I had the window open I was able to realise that it was the works on Westbourne Park Baptist Church that was causing this. Please can you let me know who I need to contact as I don’t think this should be happening and I’m concerned that it might be causing structural damage.”

The District Surveyor told us:

“It would not be unusual for nearby houses to suffer vibration during the demolition. The nearby buildings are detached, so there is no need for residents to be worried about damage to their buildings through vibrations.”

Parking around Hallfield School – update

Following our enquiries, the Parking Department says:

“We have been sending marshals down here at start and end of the school day from the 27th June. The issue seems to be in the morning time where we have issued some PCNs to offending vehicles, but no real issues identified in the afternoon. The schools are about to close for the summer holidays, but we will keep our eye on this at the start of next year and engage with the school if needs be.”

Residents say:

“I have noticed two wardens issuing tickets and discussing the reason why they got them with the parents, which may help with the repeat offenders. It is indeed worse in the mornings because of the fear of being late for school leads them to park particularly badly, and then the lorries/coaches etc. can’t get past them. Not so bad in the afternoons. School holidays are upon us, and I hope that will make it less awful for a while. Thank you again for taking up this task for us, much appreciated”

Paddington Cube

It was the Paddington Pole and now it is a Cube! According to the press: 

“The proposals from Great Western Developments and Sellar Paddington Limited are for a 360,000 sq ft, 14-storey office building above 1.35 acres of new public realm, as well as investment in the transport infrastructure. The £775m redevelopment, to be renamed the Paddington Cube, sits of the site of the former Royal Mail Sorting office adjacent to Paddington Station. The original plans were for a 72-storey building stretching up 254m, whereas the new proposals are 12m above the existing skyline. Once completed, The Paddington Cube will be capable of accommodating up to 4,000 workers. The scheme will also provide 80,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant accommodation over five levels, to include a rooftop restaurant, improved access to Paddington Station and a £65m investment in a new Bakerloo line station and ticket hall.”

What do you think of the revised plans? http://www.sellarproperty.com/properties/paddington-cube/

Read what Simon Jenkins thinks http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/simon-jenkins-paddington-pole-may-be-dead-but-the-vanity-of-architects-lives-on-a3299261.html

Paddington Cube – what you say

While the plans to free up the public realm at ground level are laudable the cube seems to be replacing one kind of blight with another. It doesn’t have the human scale required for a mixed use area serving residents, tourists and commuters equally. It might work in a purely commercial section of the city but I believe it is out of place in this locality.”

7 – 12 Leinster Square – what you say

“As well as drainage problem Alchemi leaves bright lights on 24/7 in some of the flats. This is mostly in No 7 Leinster Square – 1st floor, 2nd floor and basement. These lights are causing light pollution across the square into the houses on the south side of Leinster Square all through the night. “

What you say

“As you have mentioned the decision stop the use of surveillance cameras in Westminster I do wonder about the decision to again fund the hanging flower baskets? Although ideally we would want both funded it is hard to understand how the flower baskets could possibly be acceptable instead of funding the cameras which are clearly a safety issue.”

“I just want to say thanks for these updates that come through. Although I have never needed to make a complaint to a Councillor, its warming to see the work that is undertaken and to see the results in an informative way. This kind of communication and work certainly stands the Councillors in favour with any future elections.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – July 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Westbourne Grove

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The site of the former ‘Greek Farmer’ restaurant in Westbourne Grove, between junctions with Newton Road and Monmouth Road,seems to be hugely neglected by its landlord since the restaurateur left.  I reported an infestation of maggots and flies in the front windows, which were escaping out through cracks in the window frames, to the council as a public health risk at least a year ago (twice) and was told that the landlord had been notified.  Now, not only do the windows still look infested, but two or three men have taken up residence in the shelter of the front door, leaving stained bedding there all day and often lying there drinking during the day.  Their presence feels at best, a sad comment on our society (when you can buy luxury chocolate just across the street) and at worst, quite threatening.  Is anyone addressing this problem?”

Parking around Hallfield School

We have again asked the Council to take action on this issue: 

“Westminster have removed all wardens from monitoring parking at Hallfield and it is chaos again, with parents parking over the junction, stopping mid junction to open their doors and drop their children off and parking and blocking driveways. It is particularly worrying as there is some rearrangement going on with the traffic lights on the junction of Inverness/Porchester Gardens causing heavy traffic build up too. I am also concerned that no-one has thought through what the Whiteleys work will do to traffic movement and parking in the area when heavy building traffic vehicles will be involved as well.  

The school needs to be more active in how the parents who park and drive irresponsibly see their relationship to their fellow parents who walk their children to school, as well as the Council in providing officers willing to tackle the bad parking and driving. I have suggested in the past that parents be allowed to park on single yellows and residents’ bays nearby (i.e safe parking spots) while they deliver their children, but that suggestion has not been taken up. Instead the council allow this chaos to continue and I fear that one day a child will be hurt as they cannot see across the road for blocking parked cars.”

Chilworth Street

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“For the last couple of months the Cleveland Arms has become a new renovating project. The issue we have is the workers starting at 8 in the morning on the weekends playing music and making a lot of noise. Not only this. The workers tend to hang around after they have finished work and get themselves extremely drunk and then shout outside on the street. They tend to use the building site as their local hang out both on week nights and weekends, surely this cannot be allowed? I ask for this issue to be raised as it cannot go on like this for the sanity of the people living on Chilworth Street.”

The Council says:

“A City Inspector visited the Cleveland Arms to investigate the complaint. The pub and associated residential properties above are subject to major refurbishment work that is likely to extend until the end of the year. The plan is for the building company to work during approved hours Monday to Saturday, with 10-12 workers present. The site foreman was courteous but said he was unaware of any such activities taking place. He said he would mention it to the staff and monitor accordingly. We work a range of hours and will monitor ourselves.”

The resident said:

Thank you for your help with this issue. And for the quick action. I will call their hotline if any more problems are turning up. Again thank you.”

7-12 Leinster Square

We have again asked the Council to take action on this issue:

“Alchemi have now left the premises of 7-12 Leinster Square, but after all the rain we have had it is obvious that they have not cleared all the drains as requested. The drain outside the building where they had their lodgings during the works is blocked, and there is a large puddle completely covering the drain and overflowing several yards to either side of it. As we do not want the basement flats to be flooded, please could the council be prevailed upon to deal with this as a matter of urgency.” 

“There are in fact several drains that appear to be blocked along the north side of the square, with large puddles in the hollows caused by subsidence of the road surface along the gutter where heavy lorries have parked (and continue to park outside 13-19). Do the developers have a responsibility to make good damage to the road? The same might be asked of the footpath, where many paving slabs are cracked and uneven.”

Hallfield Estate 

Karen Buck MP reports:

“The Hallfield estate AGM was, as always, well aended by lessees and tenants, and inevitably the long-standing (7 years so far!) Major Works programme dominated the proceedings. I have undertaken to organise another LEASE lessee advice session and invite Hallfield residents amongst others, and have now booked the Stowe Club on September 10th for that purpose. A further invite will come round, but if you would like to reserve a place now, please drop me an email (whether or not you are on Hallfield). I have also been taking up the recurrent problem of rough sleeping on the estate with CityWest Homes and the Council.”

Kensington Gardens Square – Update 

The Council has told us the following about their enquiries about unauthorized parking by vehicles delivering to hotels:

“The controlled parking regulations allow vehicles to park on Double Yellow Lines for 40 minutes to load and unload. However, our marshals were there yesterday and the vehicle stayed for longer than the 40 minutes allowed and was consequently issued with a PCN.  He then moved to Kensington Gardens Square, but stayed within the allowed time for loading/unloading. Our marshals will continue to monitor this going forward and will visit this location to ensure compliance.”

Residents say:

“Thank you so much for getting this acted upon. We always look forward to receiving your news letter and it is great to see first hand how you get things done!”

What you say

“Thank you for this excellent, as usual, report.  You keep the council on their toes.” 

“Thank you for providing such a great service to the local community. I always read your newsletter and find it very informative and a great service.” 

“Thank so much so taking the time to make us all feel connected. It is so important.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – June 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Paddington Station car ‘drop-off’ points

We asked the Council to help with this enquiry:

“I believe there is no “approved” dropping off/picking up area, which is shameful, considering the billions that Crossrail is costing and the disruption locals have had to endure. For those of us too close to take a taxi but with luggage this is very inconvenient.”

Network Rail say:

“I regret to advise that due to the limited space available there are no means of pre-booking space at the drop off area on the taxi deck. Alternatively, the station car park that leads off Bishop Bridge Rd can be used to drop off/pick up customers/family etc. If “Assisted Travel” is required to and from either the taxi deck or car park this can be pre booked by calling 0800 1971329 or in person at our NR Station Reception on platform 1. There is also a “Help Point” intercom at the taxi set down beneath the train departure displays where customers arriving without pre-booking require assistance to their train can request “Assisted Travel”. When the Crossrail station opens and former “Departures Road” is handed back to the Station in 2018/19 the 20 minute/drop off bays will be restored to the Bishop Bridge End of this roadway.”

Moorhouse Road

We asked the Council to comment on this issue: 

I now find my flat surrounded by trees covered in ugly and environmentally damaging plastic owls, birds of prey and spikes which aim to deter wildlife from living there. The last straw for me was one that now rests outside my balcony directly into my living space. Birds and squirrels nest in this tree, which cannot do anymore. I note that this practice would appear to be in contradiction with Westminster council’s own environmental policy relating to creating an attractive environment for residents as well as providing a habitat for local wildlife. Is there anything that can be done to remove this scourge and unsavoury setting from our landscape?”

The Council’s Tree Officer says:

“Tree protection legislation requires consent from the Council for tree pruning and tree surgery, but installing pigeon spikes/ pigeon deterrents in trees doesn’t need to Council’s formal consent. I appreciate the resident’s viewpoint regarding the impact of these installations on wildlife, but these types of deterrent are usually only used when pigeon roosting or nesting causes a problem for the tree owners.  Sometimes tree owners can be so affected by the problems that they seriously consider the removal of the trees, so deterrents such as the decoy owls can prove a useful way of curbing the pigeon activity whilst allowing for tree retention.”

Whiteleys

We have written to the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, about the threat to homes around the Whiteleys site because of the proposed mega-basement. In our letter we said:

“Whiteleys is located in a flood risk ‘hot spot’ and residents are concerned that the advice from the Planning Inspectorate in respect of a very recent planning appeal in an adjacent street to Whiteleys is that the site is within a flood risk ‘hotspot’ and that there may be a “cumulative effect on the movement of ground water with the basements acting a dam”. In the case of Whiteleys, the proposed basement will act as a dam measuring “170m in length by 90m wide”. Residents are deeply concerned about the movement of ground water as the result of the proposed ‘mega-basement’ and that it will put their homes at risk.”

Westbourne Gardens/Porchester Road junction 

We have asked the Council to do repairs to the road at the corner of Westbourne Gardens and Porchester Road where there is at large ‘lake’ of water. The Council says:

“Gully there was blocked. A job has been raised with a 28 day priority.”

Chepstow Road update

The Council have given us the following update:

“Works have been completed in Chepstow Road between outside 104-108 between Talbot Rd and Westbourne Park Road. There are further Thames Water works to be done in Chepstow Road between Talbot Rd and Westbourne Park Rd by the bus stop. The Thames Water trench outside 52 was also completed and the ponding issue outside 41 is planned in for the 31st May.” 

Leinster Square

Residents tell us:

“For some time now Trenchco vans (and others) have been parking in Residents Only bays at the eastern end of the north side of Leinster Square without a parking suspension being in place. As it is a daily occurrence, they are effectively blocking the use of these spaces for residents. I imagine that the situation will get worse once the full refurbishment works commence. I would be grateful if someone could investigate the status of these vans.  I also note that Deliveroo drivers have taken to using the same spaces from time to time.”

The Council say:

“One of our officers visited the site and found four vans parked in residents’ bays which had no permissions issued to them to be there.  We then contacted Trenchco’s site manager and all vans have now been moved.  We have also made it clear what their options are in terms of obtaining traders permits, however until such time as they do they will have to park in pay by phone bays. We will continue to monitor the situation here to ensure that they do not return.”

Phoenix Hotel, 1-8 Kensington Gardens Square W2

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue:

“The large truck marked County Linens regularly parks on the double yellow line which dangerously obstructs the views of motorists entering Kensington Gardens Square from Salem Road as well as Porchester Gardens. One day there will be a serious accident caused by this wilful and persistent breach of traffic regulations.”

We are voting to REMAIN in the EU on 23rd June

Britain is better off in Europe. It is clear that being in the European Union brings us jobs, growth and investment. The EU has helped to secure workers’ rights and make consumers better off too.

Jobs

  • Millions of British jobs are linked to our EU membership.
  • £26.5 billion is invested in Britain by EU countries every year.
  • British workers benefit from EU agreements on workers’ rights, including the right to holiday pay, paid maternity and paternity leave, anti-discrimination laws, equal pay and protection for agency workers.

Exports

  • Exports to the EU are worth £227 billion a year to the British economy.
  • The EU is Britain’s biggest export market: almost half of all of Britain’s exports go to the EU.

Security

  • Thousands of criminals, including terrorists, have been arrested under the European Arrest Warrant.
  • Being in the EU enhances Britain’s global influence and allows us to take our place at the top table.

If you’re travelling, or unable to get to your polling station on 23 June you can apply for a postal vote by post until 5pm on Wednesday 8 June. Download an application form from aboutmyvote.co.uk

Basement excavations – what you say

“We’ve lived next door but one from a basement conversion in our street and the disruption has been unbelievable.  The noise and vehicles accessing the site on a daily basis has been relentless, glasses in our cupboards rattle, dust settles and huge vehicles that these streets were not designed for come and go all day long.   These vehicles belong on building sites not small residential streets with young children running around attending the ballet school opposite or the church on the corner. As Bryan May said in his newspaper article the other day – it feels like a form of abuse as one is unable to influence the decision making process and just live with it.  We’ve now heard our direct new neighbours have begun a planning application for a full refurbishment and want to dig down to create higher ceiling heights for their lower ground floor, I fear we’re looking at a further 1.5 years of building work.”

“We have lived here for since 1994. We have seen everyone in the adjoining road complete a loft conversion over the last 20 years. This is not ideal as we are overlooked but respect that people sometimes need to create another bedroom. However, we believe that basement excavations are a totally different ball game, with an unacceptable impact on all those who are still living in their homes. We are already dealing with the disruption caused by the basement excavation opposite our house in Moorhouse Road, with trucks constantly going back and forth. We do not understand how the desire of one owner to create more space can take precedence over the living quality of people who have been here for much longer and who have no choice but have their lives ruined for a year or more.”

BT broadband – what you say

“I had a problem with endless disconnects while I was with BT and spent hours on the phone trying to resolve this. I ended up moving ISPs and the problem vanished – I have quite a reasonable service now. Regarding fibre broadband, none of the suppliers offer it in this area, and it would be great to know when it is going to be available.”

Guard rails at the Bishops Bridge Rd/Westbourne Grove junction – what you say

“Why would anyone regard the guard rails at the Bishops Bridge Rd/Westbourne Grove junction as being redundant? Surely they are more, not less, necessary today than whenever they were installed?”

“I noticed it had been removed recently and it’s fantastic! Not only was it hideous but it ‘kettled’ pedestrians in, often into a bottleneck, as if giving motorists priority. The removal is a vast improvement.”

What you say

“Thank you for informative news letter!”

“Thank you for this. I would like to underscore the point that the Deliveroo drivers are a nuisance for the reasons you specify in your report.” 

“Thank you very much for the informative email”

“Thank you for the updates. I have only recently received them and found them very interesting. Please continue to send them.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – May 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Whiteleys

Following the decision of Westminster’s Planning Committees to approve the plans for Whiteleys, we called on the Mayor’s office to use its powers to ‘call in’ the Council’s decision. Karen Buck MP made similar representations to the Mayor’s office given her deep concerns about the Whiteleys project.

For a copy of the Labour Group letter see https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/westminster-labour-urges-the-mayor-to-call-in-the-whiteleys-plans/

Garway Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“For some time now motorcyclists working for Deliveroo have been using the motorbike parking spaces at the junction of Garway Road with Westbourne Grove as their ‘depot’.  It is not at all clear that they have parking permits to use the spaces, and their presence has become something of a worry for local residents and shopkeepers, some of whom have felt threatened by their attitude.  Please could their status be investigated?”

The Council say:

“This is a growing problem across the City and there is a fair amount of work going on to try and find ways of addressing it. I have also placed this area on our Service Enhancement programme and asked our marshals to regularly patrol this area during controlled hours so we can see exactly what is happening here and if any parking contraventions are found we will take action.”

We have also asked the Council to sort out this issue:

“We have been fighting a bit with BT over getting our fibre Internet connection installed to our office. Apparently there are some blockages across the road and the Council is dragging their feet on releasing the permits since it requires some roadworks. Essentially the issue is that OpenReach need to get a Section 58 Waiver signed off to dig on Westbourne Grove and I think they are having a bit of a hard time getting the approval through Westminster Council.”

The Council say:

“BT has not submitted a permit application for this work.  The council has therefore not been “dragging its feet” as there were no permit applications to consider.BT’s contractor did submit details to the road management team regarding the S58 exemption in place on Garway Road.  The purpose of a S58 exemption is to protect a newly resurfaced highway from excavation (for 3 years), however can be waived at the council’s discretion.  We received the request for this location in late March and agreed it last week with suitable conditions on the reinstatement once works are completed.Unfortunately, BT has a history of blaming local authorities for all delays regardless of what caused the delay.  BT senior management has agreed nationally to clamp down on this, however it would appear that this has not yet reached all parts of their organisation.”

Craven Road – Broadband

We have written to BT Openreach about this problem:

“I live in Craven Road, west side of Gloucester terrace. For years I have been checking to see when BT will offer fibre broadband. It seems that a couple of blocks away, towards Paddington Station, there is fibre coverage but in our area, there is none. BT Openreach have been changing their site, sometimes showing that they were “Accepting Orders” (not true), other times that the area is “Under Review”. There does not seem to be a way to find out what their plans are, or even put some pressure on them.”

Porchester Road and Bishop’s Bridge Road

As part of the works to The Collonades, the following works will be undertaken (and paid for by the developer):

  • Repaving footways in yorkstone
  • Replacing granite kerbs
  • Seven new street trees (Liqidambar Worplesdon) on Porchester Road
  • Replacement of the three existing street trees on Bishop’s Bridge Road with new Magnolia Grandiflora specie
  • Reducing the existing 24 cycle stands on Porchester Road to 21 stands and increasing the existing 4 cycle stands on Bishops Bridge Road to 10 stands, giving a net increase of 3 cycle stands
  • New dropped kerbs at the signalised pedestrian facilities at the junction of Porchester Road and Bishop’s Bridge Road
  • Decluttering the streetscape on Bishop’s Bridge Road and Porchester Road by removing redundant street furniture including the guardrail at the junction of Bishop’s Bridge Road and Porchester Road.

The works are programmed to commence in May 2016 with an anticipated duration of 4 months to complete.

Chepstow Road – Update

There is a new date of 7/8th May for repairs to Chepstow Road. There are also further works planned in Chepstow Road between Westbourne Park Road and Talbot Road.

Queensway – Sainsbury’s

We have asked the Council to look in to this issue:

“We were woken up again at 6h17 this morning (a Sunday!!) by Sainsbury’s. The last Sainsbury’s (169 Queensway W2 4SB) opened 2 years ago and we complained at the time with the Council that the hours at which it was requesting to be open were not ok and that we had enough Sainsbury’s around. The Council went ahead and agreed to let them open a 3rd store within 100m of each other. As residents we are now regularly complaining to them about the time at which they do their deliveries. They deliver every day of the week. Their truck parks anytime between 6am and 7am with a lot of noise, beeping and the lot. As they do not open until 7am they park their idly engines on and from 7am onwards the noise of delivery is waking us all up. They have between to do their deliveries between 7 to 11 and for this amount of noise they should not be allowed to do anything before 8am. Can you please help us to talk some reason into them, they can easily organise the schedule for the deliveries and truck to not be here from 6am and to start past 8am.”

Queensway – Maplin’s – Update

The Council says:

“We have managed to discuss delivery times with the manager of Maplin Queensway and he has advised that Maplin does not accept deliveries before 08:00.  However, he acknowledged that there are occasions when the delivery vehicle arrives early and waits outside the shop.  He advised that the vehicle’s engine is switched off.  Apparently Maplin used to accept deliveries before 08:00, however following a large number of complaints, they have changed their policy to only take deliveries after 08:00.”

Residents tell us:

“Thank you very much, the shop indeed has stopped getting deliveries before 8am which has been a great improvement to our sleep! Kindest regards and thank you for the great work you do for the community.”

Lord’s Cricket Ground

Middlesex v Somerset, Sunday 22nd May – Gates open 10am

Open Age is organising an event at Lord’s.  It’s a chance for people aged 55 and over to talk about old memories and create some new memories while watching cricket.  It’s also an opportunity to meet like minded new people over a cup of tea at the Home of Cricket. To book a place please contact Claire Hoggan on 020 7266 2776 or choggan@openage.org.uk

Whiteleys – what you say

“Very sad about Whiteleys, did demo, but to no effect. I cannot understand why the Council should vote to destroy a famous local building. Surely any new build has to have social housing included?”

“Thank you so much for the update. I, like many others, am very sad about Whiteleys. Some years ago the BBC did an hour long programme about Whiteleys and its history, which was most interesting. Its role as a listed building should also have been noted, especially because of its quite beautiful interior. That curved staircase is fabulous.

I’m also concerned about the lack of local Halifax banking facilities in the local area now that the bank inside Whiteleys is closing as I have used that branch for over 20 years. I understand from a member of staff at M&S that there has been a reprieve and that they are staying open till Christmas so I am not quite sure what is going on now!”

“I would like to know the names of the Councillors who voted for this disastrous decision to approved the plans for Whiteleys. They have no soul and have betrayed the very concept of conservatism.”

Basement extensions – what you say

I still don’t understand why Westminster Council refuse to listen to what residents’ have to say. The amount of emails they must receive objecting to sub basement developments must make someone realise that it is not good for the community. I live on Kildare Terrace and am forever writing to object to basement developments in our street and Kildare Gardens. Not only to object to the noise and pollution and general disruption but also to object to the fact that the streets are too narrow for excessive lorries etc. Only yesterday I was trapped in Kildare Terrace. Two scaffolding lorries at one end and a delivery the other. How one earth can developers or builders think that they are going to be able to move around Kildare Gardens?”

Broadband – what you say

“Broadband reception by the way is still terrible – not just slow (which I can live with) but frequently interrupted.”

Paddington Station taxis – what you say

As an elderly and lame person the long trek to platform 12 and ascent to the upper floor is to say the least irritating not to mention that at busy times it takes an eternity for taxis to leave the station making the ride much more expensive.  I find it very useful to be able to come up the ramp from the platforms and find a cab waiting. “

“I do not know what magic dust you sprinkled over Westminster Council but it seems to have worked! Today there was not a single black taxi “parked” on the double yellow lines on Praed Street near Paddington Station. The practice of a small number of rogue black cabs to park/wait on Praed Street to use it as an illegal taxi rank does seem to fluctuate so I shall let you know if the situation deteriorates again. Thanks for your work in investigating and resolving local issues for residents. “

Porchester Road/Westbourne Grove – what you say

“It seems bizarre that the guard rails protecting pedestrians have recently been removed from the junction of Porchester Road and Westbourne Grove at Queensway. This is already a very busy junction day and night and it gets worse at weekends when some motorists are showing off by aimlessly speeding around. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable of road users and are those most likely to be killed or injured in a road collision. Our ranks include children, the disabled and the elderly as well as animals. Guard rails should not therefore be removed until we are guaranteed that our roads are being made safer by means of the enforcement of speed limits and by the removal of dangerous drivers. Currently this is not being done.”

What you say

“Thanks for that, most informative”

“Thank you very much for all the very helpful information.”

“I had not had an update before but would like them in the future. Most instructive and useful. Thank you.”

“Thank you for this good work.”

“Thank you for your had work and support.”

“Just to say thanks for this newsletter – very informative as always.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

Westminster Labour urges the Mayor to ‘call-in’ the Whiteleys plans

Following the decision of one of Westminster’s planning committees to approve the developer’s plans for Whiteleys Westminster Labour Group is calling on the Mayor’s office to use its powers to ‘call in’ the Council’s decision. The decision whether or not to use this power to review the decision will be made by the current Mayor but if the scheme was ‘called in’ it should allow for further scrutiny of the scheme to take place over the coming months with any final decision taken by the next Mayor.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck is making similar representations to the Mayor’s office given her deep concerns about the Whiteleys project.

In a letter to the Mayor’s planning department Labour Group leader Adam Hug wrote:

Dear Nick

I would like to take this opportunity to formally request that the Mayor’s office call in the decision of Westminster City Council to resolve to grant permission for a scheme (15/10072/FULL and 15/10073/LBC) redeveloping the historic Whiteleys Shopping Centre on Queensway. I believe that this scheme does not fulfil a number of requirements of the Mayor’s London Plan and there are practical concerns about operation of the planning committee, due to delays in the provision of information which made it difficult for informed public input and scrutiny of important elements of the scheme.

Firstly this scheme runs counter to London Plan Policy 7.8 ‘Heritage assets and archaeology’, which states that development should identify, value, conserve, restore, re-use and incorporate heritage assets, where appropriate’ and ‘development affecting heritage assets and their settings should conserve their significance, by being sympathetic to their form, scale, materials and architectural detail’. As set out in great detail by the Save Whiteley’s Heritage Campaign in the papers to the committee. Further important objections were made by the Victorian Society and the 20th Century Society, alongside concerns raised by Heritage England. Many Londoners do not feel that the scheme design appropriately values, conserves, re-uses or incorporates important heritage features of this well-loved building. The ocatagonal atria is being removed, the much loved Italianate staircase being moved from a central place to being hidden in a boutique hotel, the iconic roofline being dramatically altered and many other important features lost from the 1911 Grade II listed building.

The scheme proposes a total of 103 units, of which 41 are three-bedroom, 19 are four-bedroom and nine are five-bedroom; as described in the report presented at Westminster’s planning applications committee, the scheme was not only ‘heavily weighted to the larger size units’, the individual sizes of flats were also ‘very generous’. The report to the planning committee asserts that significantly more units could have been provided within the same building, but fails to assess this fact against the council’s planning policy or London Plan policy 3.4 requiring that ‘development should optimise housing output’. The overall housing density was 577 habitable rooms per hectare, substantially below the London Plan designation for this area of 650-1100 habitable rooms per hectare.

The scheme also runs contrary to the objectives set out in Policies 3.11-13 on affordable housing. Despite the scheme being potentially valued at around £1 billion, these 103 luxury flats do not meaningfully contribute to tackling London’s real housing need. Estimates by the council of what would have been a contribution compliant with Westminster’s own modest affordable housing target of 30% have ranged from around £87million to £103 million. The Westminster Committee accepted a £6 million contribution to the Westminster Affordable Housing Fund, equating to only 2% at a generous assessment. The rational for such a decision was based on viability assessments only made available to the Committee late on the working day prior to the Committee (this information was made available on the Thursday prior to the meeting on the Tuesday, with the Easter Bank Holiday in between). This left the Committee with no time to interrogate the assumptions behind this assessment or for the community to have an input on this vital matter. As the Mayor’s office will know Westminster is one of the worst performers in terms of delivering new affordable homes, coming third to bottom (excluding the City of London) of the Mayor’s most recent affordable housing league table with only 12% of new conventional housing being affordable (Key Performance Indicator 5, Table 2.8). Poor planning decisions such at this are at the heart of the problem, which has led to at least 2435 Westminster residents living in temporary accommodation across London and over 1000 families living in statutorily overcrowded homes.

Residents of Kensington Gardens Square and Redan Place have been informed the substantially increased height and massing of the new building will lead to a 30-50% loss of light for many of their homes, breaching the spirit of London Plan Policy 7.7 ‘the location and design of tall and large buildings’ for a scheme that increases the existing height by upto 20 meters despite the impact on the Queensway and Bayswater Conservation Areas. The scheme dramatically breaches the BRE limits regarding daylight and sunlight.

At the Committee the chair made clear that critical information both on the viability of providing affordable housing and key drawings providing details of the height impact on neighbouring properties was only provided at the last minute. A number of key documents relating to the management of the building process and subsequent site management were not available at the time of the hearing and were left to be resolved in the post-approval conditions. Given that this scheme is of such strategic importance not only to Queensway but to the wider area these important points should have been in the public domain for community consultation prior to approval being granted.

There are many reasons why this scheme should be subject to deeper and more sustained scrutiny by the Mayor’s office and there are thousands of Londoners who would support such a decision. Very few people are opposed to the idea of regenerating Whiteleys in some form but the scheme must get it right, protecting important heritage assets and genuinely benefiting the wider community. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that the Mayor will call in this poorly thought through scheme.

Best regards

Adam

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – April 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Whiteleys

We were very disappointed that the Planning Committee approved the plans for Whiteleys despite a strong campaign from local residents and local groups. The Committee voted 3-1 in favour of the proposals with Labour Councillor Jason Williams voting against.

Karen Buck MP wrote to the Council to support residents’ objections to the plans. She said:

“I would also be very grateful if the following points could be added to the objections being put forward to the Planning Committee taking the decision. I have had a number of objections to the current proposal for the redevelopment of Whiteleys from local residents, including:

– loss of light, especially as this impacts on residents in Kensington Gardens Square

– the bulk/height of the development

– the effect on the Listed building

– the lack of affordable housing provision

I am anxious to ensure that we do take the opportunity to build more residential accommodation and accept the importance of kick-starting the regeneration of Queensway, but that should not mean accepting unsatisfactory designs or ignoring the wider responsibilities to local residents, heritage and need for more affordable homes. It is clear that many in the local community feel that the current proposals fall short on these grounds.”

Queensway

We have asked the Council to look in to this issue:

“I live on Queensway and was wondering if you could help me with an issue we have as residents with the Maplin store. They get deliveries 3 times a week and their trucks make a great deal of noise from 7am onwards. Our understanding is that the truck company had been asked to not do deliveries before 8h15 am. We are used to the traffic on Queensway but Tesco’s deliveries are done at the back so aside from that store nothing else makes this amount of noise before 8am. I have been told by the truck company that this could be resolved if Maplin instructed them to change their route as they do all their deliveries for their stores, hence they could arrive here later. Is this something you can help with?”

Paddington Station

We have asked the Council to investigate with Network Rail what can be done to resolve the following issues:

“I live in Gloucester Mews West, and while this is quite close to the station, at times I have considerable luggage or packages and it would be helpful to get a lift and be dropped off.  Before Crossrail disrupted things, it was possible for private cars to access the slip road along Eastbourne Terrace to drop off/pick up passengers. However, private cars are now banned from the new taxi rank off Bishops Bridge.  As far as I can tell, there is now no legal place for a private car owner to drop off or pick up passengers at Paddington. How can a major London railway station be said to serve the public properly if there is no place to be picked up or dropped off?

“The only southern access to Paddington now is the slip road where deliveries are made off Praed Street. There are two narrow pavements – often very crowded. There is a manually operated boom to control vehicular access at the top. Foe some reason, Network Rail doesn’t want cyclists to cycle on the slip road. How can it be OK to drive a truck on the road but not coast a cycle at low speed? Why not shorten the boom at the top so that a small gap is left for cyclists?”

Cleveland Terrace

We have asked the Council to investigate these issues:

  • There is a building on the corner of Cleveland Terrace and Gloucester Terrace (I think its is 29 Gloucester Terrace) that seems derelict. The building looks unsafe and that it is falling apart (its the one that the car rammed into during a care chase). Can you tell me when will they repair the damage etc?
  • We live on the corner of Cleveland Terrace and Cleveland gardens where the street is two way. There used to be a bollard there which would cause cars to slow down when they turned into Cleveland Gardens. It was taken away some years ago and MANY times when my 4 year old and I are crossing there, we have almost been hit by a very fast car while we were already in the middle of the road. Is there any way to to put the bollard back, or put in a zebra crossing? It is really very dangerous.

108-112 Westbourne Terrace

We are making enquiries with City West Homes about this issue:

“Are you aware of the chaotic and massively delayed way in which City West Homes are handling the major works on 108 – 132 Westbourne Terrace? An utter disgrace and would not be out of place on the TV programme Rogue Traders.”

City West Homes say:

“The works commenced on site in September 2014 and were due to complete in July 2015. Once the main contractor (Mears) had erected the scaffold they immediately made two claims for variations under the contract and took the decision to halt all works whilst the claims were reviewed. The impact of the dispute was that works did not commence fully until March 2015. Once the works did commence there were a number of issues with the quality of work being completed by the sub-contractors. The CWH project manager at the time was not managing the project effectively, and was replaced in April 2015, at the same time Mears took the decision to replace their site manager (for the same reasons).   During the course of the contract, additional works have been discovered (predominantly the quantity of repairs, rather than completely new works), which has further delayed the completion.”

“We anticipate all works being complete and the site being cleared of contractors and their accommodation by May 2016.”

124 Westbourne Terrace

A Green Plaque will be located at the Austrian Centre, located at 124 Westbourne Terrace, which from 1939 to 1947 provided a cultural centre and also a place where Austrians in exile in Britain could meet one another, and Young Austria, the political movement linked to the Centre which promoted the restoration of a free, democratic and independent Austria.

Chepstow Road Update

The Council has told us the following:

“We met up with Thames Water and they have agreed to rectify the cross carriageway trench at their cost.I will also make every effort be on site while the work is being done to supervise.”

The works will start on 15th-19th April.

Recycling

At the request of residents we have made representations to the Council about the practice of issuing Warning Notices to residents who place blue recycling bags next to recycling bins. We raised this at the Environment Scrutiny Committee and there was general agreement that the practice of issuing Warning Notices must stop. The Cabinet Member agreed that common sense should prevail and that blue recycling bags should be collected unless it is obvious that they are not being used for recycled material.

Residents say:

“I just wanted to say a sincere thank you for your efforts and understanding in this matter.  If common sense prevails, I shall be more than happy and feel able to resume normal recycling! I appreciate this and everything else you do to help the neighbourhood.  Your newsletter is hugely informative and helpful.”

Chepstow Road – what you say

“May I add my complaint about the vibrations caused by buses and heavy lorries. As with my neighbours I am now woken on a regular basis at about 5 am when the buses start up and create what is like a minor earth tremor in our bedroom. As the two long terraces in Chepstow Road are listed we are concerned about their structural integrity. We now have pronounced cracks across the second floor front bedroom. I strongly recommend that the council pay more attention to these complaints and take action to provide an adequate road surface. All the patching up and down the highway tends to fail within weeks and makes no noticeable difference to the overall tremors. “

Whiteleys – what you say

“It almost looks as if the long history of William Whiteley and his pioneering store and importance to the history of Bayswater is being forgotten. I do not know if it is generally known that Whiteley also lived in Bayswater at 9 Craven Hill and thought this might be of interest to help against the further development of Queensway and his store.”

Praed Street taxis – what you say

“I was very pleased to read that you have asked the Council to take action against the black cabs that “park” on the double yellow lines on the north side of Praed Street outside Paddington Station. In essence, these cabs are using the highway as an unofficial taxi rank. The selfish conduct by a few taxi drivers constitutes various traffic offences, is unfair to the passengers and cab drivers who correctly use the official taxi rank and creates many dangers to road users and pedestrians:

I use this road every day to get to work and the problem is getting worse. Today the taxis were parked all along Craven Road to the west of Chilworth Mews. Given the number of traffic/parking wardens who operate in this area, it is clear that this practice would be easy to eliminate immediately so I infer that the Council has a policy not to take any action. Can you please investigate the Council’s position in this matter and find out what action (if any) the Council intends to take.”

What you say

“As ever thank you for your informative update”

“Thank you so much for your updates- they are great!”

“Thank you for your newsletter which is always much appreciated”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

The battle to save Whiteleys in Bayswater continues

whitelysThe battle to save Whiteleys in Bayswater continues. Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg has written a letter to members of the Planning Committee urging them to reject the current proposals:

“Over 30 years ago, in the mid 1980s, I helped to set up the local group, Save Whiteleys Action Group (SWAG) which successfully campaigned to save the Whiteley’s building from demolition. SWAG worked closely with the then owners Standard Life and BDP Architects to ensure that the unique Whiteleys legacy lived on.

Now, 30 years later, we are fighting a similar battle and I am writing to you and your Committee to ask that you reject the current proposals so that the principal architectural features of this Grade II listed building can be saved. These historic features are:
* The octagonal and round galleried atria with their magnificent Edwardian glass domes,
* The ornate Italianate staircase, a replica of the one in La Scala Opera House in Milan (see picture above)
* North, south & central pillared entrances with intricate stonework and bronze statues.
* Whiteleys shopping arcade on the ground floor which will allow public access to view and enjoy these delightful historic features whilst shopping.

You will be aware of the huge local public interest in retaining these historic features, as evidenced by the two large petitions, the recent public demonstration and the large number of written objections to the Council.

In addition, significant objections have been made by:

· Save Britain’s Heritage say, “In proposing such harm these applications contravene both local and national planning policies, and permission should be refused. In particular, paras 126, 131, 132, 133 and 137, which concern the protection of heritage assets, must be taken into account.”

· The Twentieth Century Society say, “The onus on the local authority is to conserve heritage assets and not destroy them. This proposed development contemplates irreversible and detrimental alterations to a Grade II listed building, contrary to para 132. This application should be refused consent as it would create a situation which, according to the NPPF, should be “exceptional”. The Society would therefore urge WCC to refuse this application, & prevail upon the applicants to reassess their treatment of this heritage asset.”

· The Victorian Society say, “The most significant elements of the listed building and its interior. These include the circular and octagonal domes and, beneath, their corresponding atria. Within the circular atrium, accessed by way of the impressive main entrance vestibule, is a handsome spiral staircase. Although they have been restored over the decades, the atria remain largely in their original form and together they provide an eloquent and dramatic evocation of the spatial and sequential grandeur of the building’s interior. Their significance lies not so much in the aesthetic interest of each of the surviving elements – attractive though they are – as it does in their carefully choreographed arrangement and the experience that arrangement permits. The extent of loss of historic fabric would be seriously harmful to the integrity of the building. As noted above, while the 1980s redevelopment entailed the loss of a large portion of the former Whiteleys store, it did nonetheless preserve some of its more significant elements. The loss of those elements proposed to be demolished would erode the interest of the building to a critical degree and would render it a mere historic veneer. The relocation of the staircase and entrance vestibule screen, and the re-siting of the circular dome would fail to preserve their significance, which lies in their being experienced sequentially and as an ensemble. This space was, and remains, the most significant in the building and it must be preserved.”

· Historic England say, “The central and octagonal atria along with the grand central staircase make a clear aesthetic contribution to the building’s special interest. Both atriums and their respective domes, are clearly an intrinsic part of the original interior design of Whiteleys; providing drama and grandeur along the intended processional route through the building. These atria provide a tangible link to the architects, Joass and Belcher’s original design and their loss is considered particularly regrettable.”

I fully appreciate and accept that to be successful going forward, Whiteleys must have an economically viable plan. I have been impressed by the alternative proposal put forward by the Save Whiteleys Heritage Group who say:

“In order to accommodate the heritage assets, namely the octagonal atria and dome, it is suggested that the first floors in the Queensway building and the Mews building should be utilised for residential flats. A total of approx 27 flats could be created on the first floor of the two buildings. This will compensate for the loss of residential flats in the octagonal atrium.”

I urge you and your committee to reject the current proposals so that the current owners can work with Save Whiteleys Heritage and local residents to re-think their plans in order to preserve Whiteleys historic and much-loved features.

Thank you

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

Westminster Labour speaks out over Whiteleys worries

Members of Westminster’s Labour group have raised a number of major concerns about the proposed plans for the redevelopment of the historic Whiteleys shopping centre on Queensway.

Both Cllr Guthrie Mckie and Cllr Adam Hug have submitted objections to the proposed plan and have called for the council to have further dialogue with campaign groups such as Save Whiteleys Heritage and Get the Development of Whiteleys Right!.

Labour Group leader Cllr Adam Hug said, “There needs to be more time for local residents to work with the council and the developers to deliver a scheme that meets local needs. At the moment the plans for Whiteleys don’t help the local community enough. The lack of affordable housing, the loss of valuable retail space, and changes to historic features, alongside impact on light and the potential flooding risk, all need to be addressed. Whiteleys is crucial to the future of Queensway and the wider area so Westminster and the developer must get it right.”

In his planning objection Cllr Adam Hug wrote:

‘I am writing to express my objections and those of local party members in the area about the proposed development of Whiteleys, building on the initial objection raised by Cllr Mckie. This is a scheme that is increasingly a matter of concern for local residents as evidenced by the petitions Save Whiteleys Heritage (610 signatures at time of writing) and Get the Development of Whiteleys Right! (574 signatures) and concerns from SEBRA, the Victorian Society, Heritage England, the Twentieth Century society and a number of other groups. Many of the local residents’ groups do not feel the developers have been responsive enough to their concerns.

That this proposal for the redevelopment of Whiteleys currently makes no provision for affordable housing (either on or off-site), despite creating 103 luxury units and a hotel as part of the redevelopment, is a matter of deep concern. The legacy of William Whiteley was the creation of Whiteley Village, managed by the Whiteley Homes Trust, which provided homes for nearly 500 ‘older people of limited means’; therefore it is not in the in keeping with the spirit of Whiteleys to ignore affordable housing in the way the developer plans. Westminster Labour group cannot accept a position for a major development such as this, which is not at the very least compliant with the council’s planning policy, which would provide for at minimum 30 affordable homes. There is a real risk also that such properties could be sold off-plan overseas, so Westminster Council must insist as part of any scheme that any housing is locally marketed. There is also a risk that with no affordable housing and overseas sales much of the housing will become a dead space, rarely occupied and dragging vibrancy from the area. Whatever the eventual retail/housing mix in the new scheme, there must at the very least be a policy-compliant level of affordable housing delivered as a result.

The loss of retail space from 13,204 sqm to only 4,775 sqm is of great concern. The developers own papers describe the existing use of Whiteleys as an anchor for local retail, and this is an anchor that has been allowed to rust by the running down of the property prior to redevelopment (with the long-term plans limiting the desire for stores to locate within the centre). The claim that the gym and crèche provide social and community use stretches credibility unless there is a clear plan set out about how these facilities can be used by the wider public. The retention of the cinema (although there are issues about its position discussed later) and the A3 restaurant space are however welcome, as is the desire to better integrate the frontages with the street (though concerns remain about the loss of covered internal space providing shopping opportunities in bad weather).
As Save Whiteleys Heritage and others note, the existing ground floor atria and staircases are well liked and valuable elements of an important grade II listed heritage asset, while some elements are being retained (including being incorporated into the hotel with limiting public access) other important features are being lost. Although some steps have been taken to amend the plans to keep more of the existing roofline and façade, the distinctive roofline will be radically altered by the addition of extra floors on top of the existing building adding an additional 10 metres (42.47m to 51.69m) of housing units on top of the existing roofline (with further additions of a pavilion at 56.37m and the dome at 61.49m adding almost an additional 20 metres over the current roof at its highest point). The changes to the western elevations in particular would cause a significant and worrying impact on the residents of Kensington Gardens Square, who would suffer a significant loss of light in breach of BRE guidelines, and the development would significantly change the way of life in this quiet residential area.

The provision of 139 parking spaces at a ratio of 1.35 spaces per unit seems excessive and a poor use of space. There is real local concern about the impact of building down to create three floors of basement (expanding from the existing one floor of basement) with the impact on the water table and the risk of local flooding. Local residents want assurances that this point has been fully examined.

There does not seem to be a clear plan to generate local employment in the construction phase and future management of commercial opportunities in the building. Also it should be noted that the floated Section 106 contribution of funding towards public realm improvements on Queensway, while significant and welcome, would also significantly benefit the developers’ own property values, a point to be strongly considered when agreeing an appropriate level of contribution.

Given these outstanding concerns and the strength of local feeling I strongly urge the council to look at delaying the committee meeting from its provisional date of 29th March to enable further discussions with the residents and more work to take place to improve the scheme.’

Cllr Guthrie Mckie also objected saying:

‘This is a major redevelopment for the area and its outcome will impact on both the local and wider community in Westminster. There is no provision for affordable housing. The application states that there will be 103 housing units. This would calculate at 30 affordable units within the local planning regulations. The application also intends to build a small hotel in the new development. This, too, should be taken into account when calculating affordable housing. There is room for on-site affordable housing, particularly as it intends to make Redan Place a residential area.’

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – March 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Chepstow Road

We have asked the Council to take action on this issue:

“I’m emailing you all this morning as we have been woken up yet again since 5am due to vibrations in our house caused by buses “bouncing” off the uneven road surface on Chepstow Road!! I have lived on Chepstow road for over 14 years and this is the worse it’s ever been! It is clearly apparent from viewing the road that it urgently needs resurfacing.”

The Council Highways officer says:

“I visited site yesterday afternoon and found the below…

  • outside no 25 there was a pot hole in the carriageway, this being the case a 2hr repair was ordered and while I was on site this was made safe, a P3 7-10 PERMANENT REPAIR has been put on the system.
  • Ouside no 6 in bus stop a pot hole – again a 2hr repair was sent to Zayo as it was still in Warranty and this was made safe and a perm repair scheduled in.
  • Outside no 52 there is an old Thames Water cross carriageway trench that has a very slight depression however I have also defected this to TW and a permanent repair will be programmed in.”

In addition, the Council says. “Chepstow Rd as far as I am aware is not in the 2016 resurfacing programme.”

Residents say: “This is disappointing news for residents of Chepstow Road. The present situation for residents will continue to get worse! The road surface is obviously inadequate!”

Also, we raised the issue of bus speeds along Chepstow Road with TfL who say:

“We take health and environmental issues very seriously and, if we receive complaints of this nature, always notify the relevant bus operating companies. I’ve been in contact with Metroline and Tower Transit, the two bus operators responsible for running the night bus services along Chepstow Road. I can confirm that the appropriate measures have been taken to ensure that all drivers on these night routes are adhering to the speed limit along Chepstow Road at all times and to be mindful of local residents.”

Bayswater Road

We are supporting residents who are opposed to the new development which is being proposed for Bayswater Road and Queensway.

“The images shown on the WCC website show a bulbous blockhouse which is quite out of keeping with the generic architecture along the Bayswater Road.  Although in general the design of the buildings in Bayswater Road is a mixed bunch, this particular proposal has to take the prize in being the most unattractive in its size, bulk and so-called “decorative features” which are apparently supposed to bring to mind “ripples of water”. Also I would like to point out that “affordable housing”, a contribution to which will be made by the developer to the borough is not the same as ‘social housing” and that is what is needed in our area. “

Leinster Square issues – update

The Council Officer for the area says:

I visited Leinster Square on Friday last, where I started at 13-19. This is a licensed site and is being monitored closely regarding deliveries/traffic management etc. I had a word with the site manager to inform him that things need to be managed more tightly. I then spoke to the site at 7-12 regarding clearing/unblocking both gullies outside their site, which they assured me they would action ASAP. Finally, I looked outside 1-4 where I couldn’t see any defects/trip hazards/rocking slabs etc. However, our dedicated highways officer, who is more of an expert than me, will be visiting the square imminently to pass his opinion. I, also, shall be swinging by over the coming days.”

Residents say:

“Many thanks for all your help and for the above information. It is much appreciated. I’ve also had contact from the noise team and things are very much quieter although apparently all the managers of the different sites denied any knowledge of issues around equipment that might be causing noise! I am very grateful to you and them.”

11 Leinster Square

A Westminster Commemorative Green Plaque for William Henry Hudson will be unveiled at his London home at 11 Leinster Square, The Council say:

“William Henry Hudson was a British author, naturalist, scholar and poet and Bayswater resident. In his works, set both in South America and the English countryside, he was able to combine his love and understanding of nature and human nature to create vivid and compelling stories. He challenged readers to rethink the relationship between mankind and nature and re-assess the beliefs that divide the cultures of the world.”

37 Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate noisy building works at this property.

Haminados, 78 Chepstow Road,

Last year, a much loved local cafe in Chepstow Road was refused planning permission for the use of its garden as part of the cafe. The result is that it cannot even open its windows, which must be unreasonable. No surprisingly, the cafe wants to regain full use of its garden again for patrons and staff. We have asked the Planning Department how the owners of the cafe can go forward in line with planning policies.

Paddington Station

We have asked the Council to take action on the idling black cabs outside Paddington Station parked on double yellow lines with their engines running. Residents say these taxis are blocking ambulances and they also park in the cycle lane, as well increasing pollution in the area.

Whiteleys – what you say

“I agree about the comments below about Whiteleys. It is devastating news, not just that Marks & Spencer will go, where I have shopped for almost 30 years, but that I assume it will be converted into expensive flats for overseas people, certainly not residents. My grandfather used to take his elderly sisters to tea there a hundred years ago, and to change the building to residential use is a dreadful blow to the character of Bayswater.”

“There is a head of steam building up over the proposed Whiteleys re-development. There was a meeting of residents last night in Kensington Gardens Square and a petition has been set up to oppose the development.”

What you say

“Your diligence in reporting local issues is appreciated.”

“Thank you for the latest, eagerly awaited, Action Report.”

“Please keep the Action reports coming!”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – February 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Paddington ‘Pole’

We have welcomed the announcement of a delay in the Paddington Pole proposals, that we first called for in December when the developers first submitted their planning application and Westminster Council sought to push ahead with the application for a decision in early March 2016. We have been clear that the scheme proposed failed to deliver for local people, changing the skyline dramatically but failing to to provide much needed affordable housing. The excellent campaigning work by local residents, the Skyline Campaign, SEBRA and others have helped now force the developers and the council to see sense and delay the project.

The designers must now go back to the drawing board and come back with a radically revised plan that dramatically reduces the height of any new building and significantly increases the number of social and genuinely affordable homes in Westminster generated by the scheme. Labour group leader Councillor Adam Hug said:

“Westminster residents won’t accept only cosmetic changes to the Paddington Pole plans, shaving off just a few floors and hoping no one notices. There must be a real rethink about how this important site is used so that it benefits local people. We must all remain vigilant to ensure that this happens.”

Porchester Road – trees

We are following up on this enquiry:

“Any news on the promised replacement of the felled tree outside the West London Buddhist Centre on Porchester Road?”

The Council say:

“I’ll need to check but I recall that there were problems incorporating a replacement tree owing to the traffic sign and services.  You may wish to know that trial pits for the replacement trees outside Waitrose are due to commence within the next week or two.”

Porchester Road – bike racks

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Could you find out whether the cycle hoops outside Waitrose on Porchester Road will be put back? They were removed during the building works to redevelop Waitrose which were completed in autumn 2015. The hoops have not been returned and, as many people cycle to Waitrose, there is often nowhere to park. I would have expected the developers to have made a commitment to return the hoops but this does not seem to be happening.”

The Council has told us:

“The works to the development that removed the hoops is not complete. I am advised that they are due to be returned on completion of the works as part of some street environment upgrades (such as new trees). This will be completed over the coming 15 weeks.”

Hereford Road

We have asked the Council to investigate noisy building works at a property in Hereford Road.

Chepstow Road

We have raised this matter with the Council and TfL:

“More and more residents are becoming increasingly upset and concerned about the buses on Chepstow Road. I do not have a problem with the number of them using this route but I do have a problem with the speed at which they drive when the road is not congested or busy. At night, and particularly during the early hours of the morning, the buses race along at a speed that must be above the limit. Because the road, after endless re-patching and repairs, is not even and smooth, the buses hit the various bumps and dips causing our properties to ‘jump’; it is very disturbing and some of my neighbours who sleep on the upper floors are awoken at 5am on a daily basis, which seems to be when the problem is at its worst. There are cracks appearing also in many of our houses and flats. What is the speed limit for Chepstow Road? Is there a special, lower, limit for HGVs and larger vehicles such as buses? Could we have speed cameras installed? Could TFL and the various bus companies be held accountable and asked to train their drivers to respect the inhabitants of residential streets?”

Craven Hill

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue:

“There is an approved plan for a mega basement two levels deep next door to our residence. The owner has now submitted a variation that will include the basement going out UNDERNEATH the public right-of-way. Surely there must be a stop to all of this. How far can they go? I hope you will voice your strong disapproval of this latest plan to extend an already massive basement.”

The Council say:

“The question of the increased footprint of the proposed basement will be a material consideration in dealing with this fresh planning application. In respect of excavation under part of the public highway, policy does allow development under the highway and restricts the extent of the works in order to ensure that services and essential street furniture can be provided. The new basement policy also allows basement excavations under the public highway. In planning terms, there is no compensation payable, although the owners need to obtain all necessary approvals under the Highways Act .

I understand that the Highways Authority owns in most cases the right to surface and resurface the highway and to install street lighting/drains etc. and therefore own the top two spits” – that is, the top two spade depths – or however deep they need to dig down, to lay a reasonable running surface- which is why we have the requirement to retain a minimum vertical depth below the footway of 900mm.If we have brought the land in order to build a road on it, we may still own the subsoil, but in the majority of cases, the people who own the properties on each side often own the land underneath the highway.”

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate the following issues:

“Works have started at 14-16 Leinster Square, where the hotel used to be. The main pavement is completely blocked off at that point and the pavement opposite, next to the gardens, is extremely narrow. Vehicle parking has not been discontinued there so of course there are vehicles backing onto it, making pavement access completely unavailable. It is therefore necessary to walk in the road which can be quite dangerous. I myself was nearly knocked down by an Alchemi vehicle reversing without warning the other day.”

“The ongoing saga of the blocked drain.  This was reported on 6th August to the Council. It is still outstanding and this drain floods to several feet either side every time it rains. On one side of it the kerb is completely pulverised, probably by Alchemi vehicles.”

“Outside Nos 1-4 there are several loose paving stones which need to be fixed.”

Whiteleys – what you say

“Your Action Report refers extensively to the Paddington “Shard” proposal, but not to the recent application to gut & rebuild Whiteleys, with little of its current structure & purposes left intact. This application (15/10072/FULL) will arguably adversely affect residents of the neighbourhood more than the Shard proposal, but seems to have had little publicity. (The loss of M & S alone will be a blow to many local residents!)”

“The major internal features were retained in the 1980s development. Two glazed atriums with tiers of pillars and the sinuous staircase and entrance hall. These should be retained in any developments”

Paddington ‘Pole’ – what you say

“Are you aware that people are canvassing opinion at Paddington station for ‘improvements’ and not mentioning the proposed tower? I saw them yesterday and assumed they were getting signatures AGAINST the tower, and would probably have signed as such if I’d had time. My partner has just passed through there and was about to sign but asked whether the improvements included the tower, and the young person sheepishly admitted it did – the details and photos were hidden at the back of the blurb. This looks like an attempt to counter local anti-tower opinion by collecting hundreds of signatures of commuters who don’t live in London and won’t be affected by the proposed development.”

“This whole proposal seems to have a planning momentum that we lesser mortals trying to build a tiny extension to our tiny flat can only dream of!”

What you say

“Thanks again for all this essential news that reminds us how it’s the detail, as well as the big issues, that make an area what it is. “

“Thank you. I love reading your newsletters and find them very valuable as a source of information about what is going on in the area!”

“Thank you for your regular updates on local issues. I am always interested to read about how you work with your Councillors and staff at Westminster Council to achieve positive outcomes and solutions for what are sometimes minor issues but which are important to local residents.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – January 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

‘Paddington Shard’

Paddington shardWe are very concerned that the plans for the controversial new ‘Paddington Shard’ development might be rushed through by Easter 2016, despite only opening for public consultation on December 14th 2015. The proposed 254-metre tower (up to 72 floors) on the old Royal Mail sorting office site on London Road next to Paddington Station is designed by architect Renzo Piano for the Sellar Property Group, the team behind the Shard at London Bridge.

The proposals will contain up to 349 new homes, over 100,000 sq ft of office space and 50,000 sq ft of retail and leisure facilities. The scheme has the potential to dramatically regenerate the area around Paddington Station, providing new job opportunities and public realm benefits, but has a number of significant problems, not least the currently proposed lack of affordable housing.

Many local residents are concerned about the height of the proposed building and its impact on the surrounding area. They are not alone in this concern, as according to the ‘Independent’, Heritage England have made it clear that they have “very serious concerns indeed” about the proposed project. They have written that “A building of this scale in this location threatens harm, some of its substantial, to many designated heritage assets across a wide geographical area, including listed buildings, registered historic parks and conservation areas…If permitted, this building would be the beginning of a permanent change in the character of a large part of London.”

The development is likely to have a significant impact on traffic and local public transport that must be fully understood before approval is given. The project must not impede the work at St Mary’s Hospital or its future development needs, and we are calling on the applicants to work collaboratively with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to ensure any new development benefits the hospital and its patients.

Local architect Terry Farrell has explained in the ‘Standard’ why he opposes the plans:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/top-skyscraper-architect-criticises-plan-for-paddington-tower-a3154301.html

You can make comments to the Council online at

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=NYQJD0RP27T00

Chepstow Road – refuse collection

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have noticed that the garbage collectors on Chepstow Road have recently been leaving large wheelie bins open after they have emptied them which results in rainwater build up at the bottom of the bins as well as inviting passers-by to jettison their own rubbish into these larger bins. The council should be made aware of this and I am not sure who the right person to contact is – hence this message!”

The Council say:

“I’ve highlighted specific location to Veolia to highlight to collection crews alongside general reminder of bin ‘etiquette’”

Chepstow Road – parking

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“May I bring to your attention the case of the motor cycle which for the past four weeks (at least) has been occupying Residents’ Parking space in Chepstow Road? The practice of parking motor cycle on Residents’ Parking Spaces has grown in recent months. Can we please have a note of the Council’s policy for addressing this problem?”

The Council say:

“I can now confirm that the motorbike in question has a valid resident’s permit which covers Chepstow Road. The council’s policy is that any Westminster resident who can prove that they have a vehicle registered and insured at their address is entitled to a resident’s parking permit, this includes motorcycle users.  There is currently no plan to change the policy in relation to motorbike owners. The council does not remove vehicles that do not display valid parking permits.  The only occasions on which we do remove vehicles are when they are deemed to be abandoned.”

We have also reported this issue:

“I have noticed that the garbage collectors on Chepstow Road have recently been leaving large wheelie bins open after they have emptied them which results in rainwater build up at the bottom of the bins as well as inviting passers-by to jettison their own rubbish into these larger bins. The council should be made aware of this and I am not sure who the right person to contact is – hence this message!”

Leinster Square

We have again asked the Council to investigate this problem:

“The drain opposite 7-12 Leinster Square building works‏ is still blocked and has had no attention from the council. I have heard nothing from the council since late August. This morning I noticed that it was overflowing with standing water, to the point that there was a large puddle several yards on either side of it. I do hope, with all the heavy rain that we have had recently, that someone does something about this soon as we do not want the basement flats or the gardens flooded!”

Water Tanks

City West Homes tell us that stock condition surveys have identified that some of the water tanks are now aged and have reached the end of their useful life expectancy in a number of blocks across the city. It has therefore become necessary to replace the water tanks to prevent further deterioration, and to comply with current water regulations.  The works are scheduled to start in August 2016.

Blocks involved are at Westbourne Gardens and Lynton House

City West Homes say:

Shortly before work starts individual notices will be put into each block receiving work. These will have clear contact details. We will provide 7 days’ written notice to residents before any disruption to service.”

34 Palace Court – what you say

“Thank you very for supporting the residents of Palace Court, Moscow Road and Chapelside, who were unanimous in their objections to 34 Palace Court. Your efforts and comments were genuinely appreciated.”

‘Paddington Shard’ – what you say

Paddington shard“I firmly believe it would be an absolute disaster for the neighbourhood, both during its construction, and once it is finished. The project would destroy the current Royal Mail buildings, the only buildings around Paddington station with architectural value. It is perfectly possible to have an extremely profitable project for a developer that would integrate those large, beautiful existing buildings. Furthermore, a tower would completely dominate Paddington station, a Grade I listed building with huge historical significance. “

“The picture in the Evening Standard had worried me but I went wanting to convince myself that the tower would be a dramatic (in a good way) addition to the landscape. No matter how much I tried, and I really did, I couldn’t see it as anything but an excrescence. It just doesn’t fit. I wandered round the site afterwards and it loomed like an overbearing slag heap, dwarfing the low rise neighbourhood, completely out of character with its surroundings, shouting out its dominance from a great height.”

“I hope shard does not get the go ahead, all the works not much fun for the patients at St Mary’s hospital. Plenty of horrors already in basin area creating wind tunnels”

“I would like to voice my strongest possible opposition to the Paddington skyscraper, as both ugly in itself and totally inappropriate to the site. There will be major problems with traffic congestion on Praed Street becoming worse, problems which potentially could be life-endangering as emergency ambulances need to get to St Mary’s A&E. Certainly, Praed Street is not a place of beauty, but there are several pleasant Victorian residential streets around it (Star St, St Michael’s St, Westbourne Terrace) whose character, whether intimate or grandiose, should be cherished by sensitive development, NOT menaced by towering skyscrapers.”

“I don’t support the Paddington shard, already too much congestion in the area and it will be an eye sore and too much traffic on Chepstow Road.”

“I am very concerned with the potential enormous tower next to Paddington station. First, from an architectural point of view, it should be self-evident that it would be completely out of context next to Brunel’s historical station. Secondly, it really seems that no consideration is given to the impact for local residents. Yet the impact of the construction of this building would be huge. I cannot see any other way but for all the construction paraphernalia to be passing via Westbourne Terrace, Gloucester Terrace and Craven Road. Now the residents of these streets have been suffering greatly from the very lengthy Crossrail works since 2009. In fact, it is hard to think of any other street in London that has been plagued by such increases in traffic, noise and pollution for such a long time.”

“This scheme is an absolute disaster – it bears no relevance to any other building around it, it has no aesthetic relevance to the Paddington area at all, it is completely out of scale architecturally to the large area around it, and why would anyone want to see it from one side of London to the other. This has no benefit for the local community and if it is allowed will totally wipe out all the local small businesses currently working around the station and the hospital.”

What you say

“Many thanks for the newsletters they are very useful”

“This is a great report. Thank you to you and whoever else helps put it together.”

“Many thanks indeed for your email.  As always, it was very interesting and informative.  Also reassuring to know that we don’t have to meekly accept all of life’s annoyances and inconveniencies – and worse!”

“Thank you for looking after residents’ interests”

“Thank you for taking up the baton on many relevant issues for residents in our area – it is most appreciated.”

“Thank you once again for your support of residents’ issues in the neighbourhood.”

“I wanted to thank you for sending these summaries.”

“Many thanks. I wish everyone was as prompt.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – December 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Artesian Road and Needham Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“A coach has now taken to being parked up over some nights – may be one or two in the week – on the corner of Artesian Road and Needham Road, the opposite side to the pillar box.  It comes around 10.30 pm and is there after 8.30 the following morning.  We don’t see any parking attendants first thing in the morning so it gets away with it.  It makes the turn right out of Needham Road into Artesian Road slightly difficult for cars. It also gives less temporary drop off parking for mothers with children for the Cherry Tree nursery. There is a perfectly good coach park in the Bayswater Road and I don’t like looking at it!!!!  It would be good to stop this coach parking anyway.”

The Council tells us:

“I can confirm that this area is subject to an overnight coach parking ban and so a vehicle with a capacity to have more than 9 seats (including the drivers) should not be parking here between the hours of 6.30pm and 8.30am.  We have had Marshals patrolling this location at night and the good news is they have not seen any coaches parking here overnight, so I hope this means that the issue has now gone.  We will however keep checking on the area and if a coach is found parked overnight we will deal with it by way of enforcement, and I will let you know.”

We have also asked about this issue:

“There is a new shop on corner of Needham Road and Artesian Road.  This has been renovated with the departure of the upholstery shop and is going to be inhabited by Mimi et Mina.  They have put on the wall on the Artesian Road side the name “Miimi et Mina”.  Is this OK?  It is nicely done and not offensive but is it allowed to advertise like this, not above the shop front and in a residential street?

Talbot Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I wonder if you could look into something for me because you have been so helpful in the past. I’d like to know why on a Saturday morning Virgin Media are allowed to dig up the road. I assumed, stupidly that it must be emergency work but no – when I left my flat I discovered it was for Virgin Media!  I called Westminster noise line and was told that they are allow to make this noise until 1pm.  Why 9-1pm??  surely that is more anti-social to local residents that after 1pm?  

I can understand that British Gas or some kind of emergency has to be dealt with on a Saturday morning – but television cabling!! This road is reasonably quiet after rush hour so there would be plenty of opportunity to do it when it is quiet during the week.  Currently my feet are shaking with the vibrations and I’m in a 3rd floor flat and I have a splitting headache from 2 hours solid digging.

The corner of Talbot Rd/Chepstow Road has been dug up so many times it is now a standing joke with local businesses and residents”

Whiteleys Plans unveiled

Please let us know you views on proposals for Whiteleys announced by Meyer Bergman and Warrior Group, which they say “will transform Bayswater and Queensway through a mixed-use revitalisation of the landmark building”. They say:

“A planning application involves the demolition of the 1980’s building behind the retained, historic Queensway façade to provide a residential-led, mixed-use development with a new retail and leisure offering. Detailed consideration has been made to the original design by John Belcher and John James Joass in 1911, to combine some of the impressive features with an exciting, contemporary design by Fosters & Partners, which will incorporate the iconic central dome. A careful refurbishment of the prominent façade will be undertaken to restore it to its former status as the window into an exciting new retail and leisure world.

The proposed plans include the construction of more than 100 homes, a mixture of apartments and townhouses. These will be arranged around an attractive inner courtyard with new retail units, a boutique hotel, gym and other enhanced leisure facilities, including a new cinema at basement level.

The scheme will open onto Queensway, which is planned to undergo a £50 million revamp scheduled to begin in early 2016, creating an active frontage for a revitalised retail offering and designed to draw the public into the inner courtyard.”

For more information see http://whiteleysdevelopment.co.uk/index.php

A group called Save Whiteleys Heritage has bee set up to ensure as much of the Whiteleys building is saved from demolition

http://www.westendextra.com/news/2015/nov/historic-whiteleys-department-store-could-be-demolished-developers-unveil-£1bn-plan-bu

Porchester Road

We are chasing the Council on this issue:

“You reported a while ago that the Council said it was planning to replace the tree that had been felled on Porchester Road, for the construction of the new building that now houses the West London Buddhist Centre.  The tree has still not been replaced, what is happening?”

32 Palace Court

We are supporting local residents who say:

“We have been vigorously opposed to the demolition and reconstruction of ESCA House.  Over 50 letters were written to object. Several of us have read the plans and we believe the developers have paid not the slightest attention to our comments.  The proposed changes are no more than a condescending attempt to pacify a few angry residents.”

“The plan is structurally flawed, providing for a large residential development directly over an underground line. The new site is frankly a monstrosity that is totally out of keeping with one of the finest late Victorian streets in Bayswater. The area is already overcrowded and this new site will simply increase the intensive residential development throughout our streets. We already live in a very noisy area. Any increase in housing density will add to that noise, permanently change the local environment and make neighbourhood lives unbearable.”

Bayswater Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I don’t understand why the work along Bayswater Road is taking so long. Why does it take several months to install new pipes? Is there an estimated completion date? Why is there no explanation of what is causing this endless disruption?”

The Council says:

“There are a couple of major works on-going in Bayswater Rd. One is our own footway resurfacing, which will basically be both sides footway and will continue into the Spring of 2016. The other major job is the Gas works taking place at the Notting Hill Gate end of Bayswater Rd and I believe that it should be completed within next couple of weeks; however, I don’t have too much information on this job as it is all within RBKC.”

Chepstow Road – what you say

“To add to the discussion about traffic in Chepstow Road which seems to come up quite often, I would like to put in a plea for keeping the status quo.  I live on the street and, like lots of other owners, have had major problems with cracks in the walls, to the extent that the lintel broke on the first floor.  The surveyor said the problem was vibrations from the traffic which he said have the same effect as bomb damage. This of course is not insurable against.   I have found that since the new busses have come in use that the house shakes far less that it used to, and that the noise is not nearly so bad, and I think this is at least in part because the traffic is slowed down a bit by the busses having to pass each other.  It is also the case that the problem is not chronic, it only happens occasionally that busses have to give way to each other, and it seems to work very well.”

Whiteleys –what you say

“I like the concept and approach. Current Whiteleys was of its time. My only concern is whether the residential accommodation will contribute to the housing needs of W2 or just be 100% open market and sold off plan to overseas investors.”

Paddington ‘Shard’ – what you say

“For goodness sake, support Simon Jenkins view in this case. A tower of spectacularly pedestrian appearance! It might be acceptable in the City but most certainly not in Paddington.”

“I think it is an exciting prospect. Paddington is such a run-down area with its only identity given by the hospital and the station. I know there are a few interesting things, like the Frontline Club, etc, but it could be so much better! I hope they get permission to go ahead and to begin the regeneration of this area and to give it a new identity. “

“My view of the shard is that it is completely out of keeping with north of Hyde Park. If there was some comfort that the flats would be lived in I would have a tiny amount of sympathy, but there will be a care issue with the building in due course if residential and it will permanently alter the area. I hold no candle for Praed Street which is a grim bus canyon, but anything higher than the basin flats should be discouraged I believe.”

“I think the old Sorting Office site is totally inappropriate for a ‘Shard’ type building – it would stand out like a sore thumb.  I’m surprised the old Sorting Office is not a listed building.  In any case, the area needs more luxury flats/hotels like a hole in the head.”

“I believe I’d oppose it.  It’s SO tall.”

“Would be the ruin of the neighbourhood, light. I totally agree with Simon Jenkins.”

“I completely agree with the article by Simon Jenkins.  I am not a fan of tall buildings but can appreciate the Shard which is one of several tall buildings and therefore does not look so totally out of place.  However, to have a mini Shard in Paddington where it would stand alone like a pencil would look ridiculous and so out of place amongst the smaller surrounding buildings. “

“NO. Paddington Shard too much for low rise West London – don’t let them destroy the intimacy of West London. Paddington has had enough second rate high-rise in the Basin – have you been there? Claustrophobia on the grand scale!”

“A very strong NO to the proposed skyscraper in Paddington. Completely out of scale and out of character. Would put much more pressure on transport in an area that’s already a squash”

What you say

“Thank you to you and your team for yet another informative report”

“Many thanks for this great update report once again”

“Many thanks for your updates and information – so useful and helpful.”

“Thank you for these interesting updates.”

‘Thank you for the newsletter which I find very useful.”

“My thanks for all the good work you are doing for the residents”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – November 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

6-8 Hereford Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have again been hearing whining noises at night and rumbling noises both at night and through the day. The latter have now been witnessed and traced to the ongoing building works at 6-8 Hereford Road. Planning permission for building works has been applied for (a roof extension and adjustments to some of the windows) but has not yet been granted. Why, therefore, is the whole building covered in scaffolding and plastic and why are loud drilling noises and vibrations coming from it?”

Leinster Square streetlight

We have reported this problem to the Council:

“I reported this issue this morning but was told it was not a priority issue. I pointed out how dark it is as I live in the basement flat. It will also be dark in the street for members of the general public and people going into and out of the building upstairs so it is a general health and safety issue.”

Residents tell us:

“Just back from dinner to find the street light working! Thank you very much.”

7-12 Leinster Square

We have reported a blocked drain at this location:

“The builders have been putting all sorts of rubbish down the drains and as a result they are blocked. When it rains there is standing water. Who takes responsibility if the basement flats get flooded? I reported this to the council in August and nothing has been done.

Chepstow Road/Talbot Road

We have asked the Council to investigate the situation here:

“It is not the amount of heavy traffic, it is the speed they are driving, the noise they are making and the condition of the road. We have experienced so many accidents and close calls in the junction over the years. All of us had had near misses mainly busses running a light. Making it easier to speed down the road by restricting parking for the residents to one side is NOT an option. The only way to go forward is to either split the lines and have other routing or make it into a one way street. We have over the years have had cracks in the house; we have changed our windows to triple gazing with noise reduction film, had double lined curtains. We can unfortunately not do anything about the house shaking, items falling of shelves and cracked windows. This is the reality of living at the corner of Chepstow Road and Talbot Road. “

St Petersburgh Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I cycle it southwards frequently and it must have the worst surface of any road in the Borough. It seems strange that some roads are repeatedly resurfaced while others remain in appallingly dangerous condition.”

Buses update

We have received this update from the Council:

“With regards to the issue of bus noise, we have discussed this with Transport for London (TfL). We have been advised that many of the bus routes which operate through the area are older style vehicles built in 2004 and are significantly noisier than many of the newer models in operation on other bus routes across London.

However, TfL have advised that some of the existing bus contracts are being renewed shortly and the buses travelling through this area will be newer and less disruptive to local residents. Newer bus models for Route 28 and Route 328 are scheduled to be introduced from April 2016. These buses will be much newer models and therefore much quieter than existing buses. Route 7 saw the introduction of new hybrid vehicles in 2014 so these are already much quieter than other buses in use. Route 70 has 2012 single deck vehicles in use which are also relatively new. The Route 31 contract has just been extended for another two years so the existing bus models currently in use are likely to remain in operation until then.

TfL have advised that if residents feel more noise is being generated than is expected by buses, they should contact their customer services team at londonstreets@tfl.gov.uk with details that will enable the operator to identify it. This would typically be the registration number, the date, the time and the location. The vehicle will then be inspected at the earliest opportunity.”

The ‘Paddington Shard’ – what do you think?

Simon Jenkins has written an article in the Standard opposing the proposed ‘Paddington shard’. And there is an article on ‘Mail Online’ where the architect explains his plans. What do you think?

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/simon-jenkins-london-s-precious-skyline-is-for-sale-to-the-highest-bidder-a3100166.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3289794/Skyscrapers-NOT-ruining-London-skyline-claims-architect-Shard-unveils-plans-latest-project-new-224-metre-tower.html

North Paddington Food Bank Update

The Foodbank provides food for over 30 people a session and is open on Wednesday mornings from 9.30 to 12.30 at the WECH community hall, off Elgin Avenue W9. If you would like to help, Tara is the main contact: Tara@wech.org.uk. She works Wednesdays and Thursdays for the Food Bank and is contactable during those hours. For urgent queries on other days please continue to contact Gina or Phyllis on 0207 266 3347 or by email at npfoodbank@wech.org.uk.

Leinster Square – what you say

“I agree with the problem. There were two incidents of vandalism to my car when parked in that area over a 2 week period early this summer. I reported them to the police but as there is no CTTV they cannot do anything. The two incidents involved ‘keying” the paintwork all round the car on two separate occasions. This has resulted in losing my no claim insurance for two cases, having a disfigured car with the inconvenience of 3 weeks loss of use”

Bayswater Road – what you say

“Please do not take more of Bayswater Road for bicycles. Buses and lorries are critical for any urban area. Far more people use bus transit than bicycles. Why inconvenience them for the cyclists.”

What you say

“Thank you for your updates, do very much appreciate the feedback and the listening”

“The bin outside Double Tree hotel in St Petersburgh Place is back, thank you”

“Would hate to lose the plane tree mentioned in your report, it screens hotel coaches to some extent”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – October 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Basements

Karen Buck MP’s bill designed to help local planning authorities restrict the size and depth of basement development has had its first reading in the House of Commons. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 September 2015 under the Ten Minute Rule. This allows an MP to make his or her case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. The Basement Excavation (Restriction of Permitted Development) Bill 2015-16 is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 29 January 2016.

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I am contacting you to see if there’s anything that can be done about a long-standing problem we have on Leinster Square with groups of Spanish speaking youths that seem to congregate from off-square in all weathers and cause us increasing grief. Their presence on doorsteps at numbers 3-6 (generally) and under the scaffolding at numbers 7-12 is often intimidating, and their activities have caused me and several neighbours to contact the police, to report incidents including damage to my car in the summer caused by a tile from one of the doorsteps being tossed across the street onto the bonnet. There has also been damage to a plant trough, presumably from their football. The youths generally leave a mess of empty beer cans and other rubbish, sometimes smoke cannabis, and in the past we have had suspicions that drug dealing has been going on.”

We have also asked the Council to take action on this recurring problem:

“Alchemi are preventing use of parking spaces without an in-date parking suspension. They have also closed the road without notice this afternoon so that their large lorry can block everything.”

Courtnell Street Update

We have received the following update from the Council regarding short-term letting at a property in Courtnell Street:

“I have visited the Property numerous times and have also issued the Freeholder, Leaseholder, Owner and Occupier with a Planning Contravention Notice. This Planning Contravention Notice will hopefully allow us to gain a better understanding of how long the Property has been used for short-term letting as prima facie evidence has, unfortunately, been hard to come by”

St Petersburgh Place

We have reported the following issues to the Council:

  • Rubbish remains a problem in the cubby holes at the south end of St Petersburgh Place
  • There was until recently a bin on the west pavement near the hotel, this has been removed, and the only bin is right at the north end of the street.
  • The lovely plane tree outside hotel has raised the pavement badly, seems quite dangerous, could it be levelled?

The Council say:

“A works order to relay the slabs has been raised. This may be delayed as it looks like the tree roots will need to be altered before the job can be completed and this relies on prompt actions by Tree colleague’s contractors. I have asked my Inspector to keep on top of the issue and chase Trees for assistance.”

Chepstow Road/St Stephen’s Gardens

We have asked the Council to look in to this issue:

“In Chepstow Road at the St Stephens Gardens junction there used to be six wheely bins. Two for recycling and four general waste. Yesterday I noticed that this has been changed to three recycling and two general waste. Ok, so the Council is trying to encourage recycling but surely the total amount of general waste plus recycling will still be the same even if in different proportions. One less bin may mean that rubbish will be dumped on the pavement when the bins are full, which will happen more often with one less bin. This already happens with the recycling because those bins’ lids seem to be locked most of the time with only a small flap available for use.”

The Council tells us:

“Following investigation, it came to my attention that, one of the waste bins branding has been replaced with recycling accidentally while carrying out scheduled container maintenance, which is now scheduled to be rectified. To avoid any confusion, the total number of bins at this recycling centre is five, a combination of three refuse bins and two recycling bins.”

Notting Hill Carnival clear-up

We have asked the Council to deal with this issue:

“Crush barriers are still scattered around the Westbourne Grove/Chepstow Road/Pembridge Villas junction two weeks after the carnival. The Council would never have let this happen in South Westminster. Perhaps they need to get out from Victoria Street more often.”

Artesian Road – what you say

“I do not agree that the streets running off Artesian Road should have their current parking restrictions changed. Working is not allowed on Saturday and Sunday and there is usually plenty of parking spaces on Saturday afternoon and Sunday for our visitors to park. The Westbourne Neighbourhood Association resisted previous attempts to restrict parking on Saturday afternoon and Sunday as the vast majority of residents didn’t want it in most of the streets.”

Chepstow Road buses – what you say

“It is correct that two buses cannot pass each other in the part of Chepstow Road south of the junction with Talbot Road because cars are parked on both sides of the road. This is not a problem north of Talbot Road where there is parking for only a short stretch on one side of the road only. I think this speaks for itself. Secondly the problem of being unable to pass is not restricted to buses. Lorries (such as those delivering daily to Tesco in Portobello Road) are also unable to pass. So re-routing buses in one direction would not solve the problem unless all lorries and other wide vehicles are also re-routed. And who would enforce that and at what cost?

Perhaps what should also be taken into consideration is the total number of people carried each day by the cars parked in Chepstow Road compared with the total number of passengers using the bus stops in Chepstow Road who would be inconvenienced by any re-routing of the buses. The problem of two buses not being able to pass in roads where cars are parked on both sides of the road is not exclusive to Chepstow Road. Pembridge Villas and Westbourne Grove have the same problem as do others. “

“I use the buses on Chepstow Road all the time. I’m disabled and need them.”

Bayswater Road – what you say

“I’d like to pick up on the point about cycle facilities in Bayswater Road. I feel much more needs to be done to improve facilities for cyclists: there should be more space given for cyclists – taken from motor traffic – more cycle parking facilities; 20mph speed limits; and enforcement of the speed limits. Improving the environment for pedestrians and cyclists, and deterring motor traffic is my top priority.”

What you say

“Good to see all the good stuff you are doing”

“Congratulations on more useful work”

“If the City Council is facing a 40% cut in its budget, why isn’t the number of City councillors being cut by 40% – or at least their allowances and expenses?”

“Thanks for your Action Reports which let us know what’s really going on away from the Council’s PR.”

“Thanks for your email. It’s good to know what’s happening in my local area”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – September 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Westbourne Park Villas

We asked the Council about this issue:

“I am asking for your help and support in getting Westbourne Park Villas included in the WCC Carnival clean up service. Last year we were assured the omission of the Villas was an oversight and that we would be included this year – but we are still not eligible apparently. It is a puzzle to me that streets which are not near the carnival route (for example Alexander Street) and not access roads (like the Villas) would appear to be eligible for this service. We take a great deal of pedestrian traffic down the Villas with attendant litter, noise etc. It is quite unfair that we are not considered for the clean-up. I cannot register my house for the service – the street is excluded!”

The Council told us:

“The omission of Westbourne Park Villas from the clean-up area was an oversight on our part and is being rectified immediately. We will ensure that this property is on the list for cleansing and will carry out a letter drop early next week informing all other residents in the street that they are eligible for this service. “

Residents told us:

“You are a wonder! I knew you would help us. Thank you SO much! And for everything else that you do for all the residents of Bayswater. You are greatly appreciated”

“Thank you for putting us on the website for the Carnival clean-up – I have now signed up my address for it. I do sincerely hope that we will not be in this position again in 2016 and that Westbourne Park Villas will remain firmly on the list for future clean-ups. Thank you to everyone who have helped us with this.”

“Thanks to your swift intervention Westbourne Park Villas is now an eligible street for Carnival Clean up. Although my neighbours also contacted our ward councillors, who gave their support, I still regard you and your team were our champions despite the Tories (in their current newsletter) claiming the success was all down to them! However we know who helped us……THANK YOU!!”

Courtnell Street

We have asked the Planning Department to investigate this issue:

“I live in Courtnell Street and the house opposite is short term holiday letting and has been doing so for over 6 weeks. I have reported the matter to Westminster Council and have contacted the Short-term Let Team. I understand the 90 day proviso in the new law, but believe the owner will soon exceed this limit and besides the situation is becoming quite disruptive to the residents in my street. When a large coach arrived yesterday to collect nearly 20 people from the house, I thought a limit had been reached! The Westminster Council Team is investigating, but as you are aware I am sure, this new law makes it very difficult to gather evidence over a period of time. Any support or advice you can offer would be appreciated. I believe the Labour Party voted against this new legislation in Parliament, so I would appreciate your assistance with this issue.”

Artesian Road grid

We have asked the Council to investigate this suggestion from a local resident:

“With the continuing applications for basement excavations in the Artesian Road grid and therefore the continuing use by contractors using residents parking bays for months on end, residents parking should be brought into line with all surrounding areas and be allowed ONLY to residents from 8.30 am to 10.00 pm seven days a week. We already have the pub, church and restaurant visitors making full use of free residents parking bays as they are not able to park elsewhere in zone B, Saturdays and Sundays included.”

Ossington Street

Residents asked why refuse collection for this street is not managed by just one Council rather than the two Councils as present. Residents suggest that a consistent approach for both sides of the street will stop the current dumping on the Westminster side. The Council say:

“Although we have a ‘reciprocal agreement’ with RBK&C so that one sweeper from either council covers both sides of some boundary streets we don’t do the same thing for waste collections as our collection systems and waste disposal costs are very different. On Ossington Street all of the trees are on the Westminster side which unfortunately makes it more prone to dumping than the open pavement on the K&C side. I have highlighted this issue to the local City Inspector to monitor and take enforcement action against dumpers as appropriate.”

Moscow Road – Rubbish dumping

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have lived in W2 for 40 years and I have to agree with everyone’s view on the rubbish problem. It has worsened multi-fold over the past month, with mattresses, fridges, cookers, chairs and many more items around the bins. This is particularly bad around the bins on Moscow Road, (by the electricity substation) as well as on by the bins opposite St Sophia. This is definitely a case of fly tipping by the hotels and bedsits which are scattered in our area. This is not only unsightly, but also a health hazard as it invariably the rubbish is there for some time, before being collected. “

Westbourne Grove

We are investigating this enquiry with the Council:

“Are you aware that the restaurant Fresco, on Westbourne Grove, has been told by Westminster planners that it can no longer hold its kitchen licence, because there are too many restaurants on Westbourne Grove? Is this to clear the way for more, bigger, restaurants, serving a wealthier clientele in the new Whiteley’s development, by any chance? Fresco needs its kitchen to continue to make the healthy, freshly made on the premises food that it has served, at an affordable price, to our community for, is it 20 years now? They are being told that they can only have a licence for a much simpler service, more suitable for a cafe. Can we fight for them?”

The Council Planning Officers say:

“This premise is a good example of the often fine line between some A1 (retail) and A3 (restaurant/café) uses. What can appear to be a café/restaurant, such as a sandwich bar or Starbucks, can actually fall within A1. As was noted by the Inspector in 2000 in deciding that this was an A1 use the key issue is the proportions of cold food takeaway v consumption of hot food on-site. The Inspector found that the majority of sales are from cold food takeaway (i.e. over 70%, usually from workers dropping in to take a sandwich to their office) and that whilst some hot food is consumed on-site, this is ancillary to the cold food takeaway. It does not take place to such an extent that a change of use to A3 had taken place. “

Bayswater Road

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“All in favour of cycling but it is too dangerous to cycle along Bayswater Road (I am an experienced, responsible cyclist and parent and was almost knocked off by a bus). Royal Parks should have a cycle path parallel with this busy road from Marlborough Gate or at least Lancaster Gate, west to Victoria Gate at the western edge of the park. I believe it should be segregated from pedestrians; there is already a mud track which could easily be converted with very little tree pruning. It’s unfair that the anti-cycling lobby have so much sway with Royal Parks and there are so few places to cycle in Kensington Gardens. The park should be everyone provided it adheres to the constitution “for peaceful enjoyment”.”

Chepstow Road – what you say

“I empathise with people who live on that street. It is just not working with buses. The solution to remove one side of the street for parking vehicles is not fair in an area that is mostly residential. However, the best would be to provide an alternative route for buses on either way so that the traffic jam and pollution caused by buses crossing each other would not happen. Can this be envisaged?”

“Unfortunately for all residents who need to park in the neighbourhood, this is the truth. There are five different buses (7, 28, 31, 70 & 328) on Chepstow Road. Each uses the road to travel both South to North & North to South. But two buses travelling in opposite direction cannot pass one another. This means that there is a continuous traffic jam & a series of one-way runs while traffic in one direction waits for the other to pass. Unpleasant as it is, the simplest solution is probably to remove all Parking on the West side of Chepstow Road.”

Rubbish dumping – what you say

“I regularly see comments about bin bags next to bins in different places and I still ask myself: why do recycling bins have that stupid lock on them that prevents one from opening them as the normal bins? Is there a rational reason behind this? I always find myself – and I know I am not the only one – with a big cardboard impossible to break and fold into tiny pieces or a big chunk of recycling that does not fit the small opening. I have been living both in France and the US and in those countries, recycling bins have BIG openings like the normal bins!”

Notting Hill Carnival clean-up – what you say

“In regards to Westminster’s ‘event litter’ within private front gardens etc; it is useless unless one is prepared to wait for 3 or 4 days AFTER the carnival’s end to have the detritus removed and cleaned up. Many of us (especially those with basements) can’t wait that long so we have to resort to doing it ourselves. Nevertheless the clean up on the streets at the end of each day, is excellent.”

What you say

“Thank you for the informative newsletter, which is invaluable.”

”Another splendid newsletter”

“Thank you again for this very illuminating report. I always read it all the way through.”

“Thank you as always for your newsletter.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – August 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Notting Hill Carnival cleaning service

In Westminster, the Carnival footprint covers 28 streets. The garden and basement cleaning service has been undertaken by the council for a number of years and is a free service offered to those residents who live within the footprint area. The service offers the free clearance of event litter only.

‘Event litter’ refers to waste items that directly relate to the Carnival, such as food packaging, food items, drinks cans and receptacles, and other related items that have been improperly discarded inside the boundaries of residential properties. However, the service does not cater for properties that have used their private land to trade, party, or entertain during Carnival.

For details visit
https://www.westminster.gov.uk/notting-hill-carnival-cleaning-service

Leinster Square

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I note with little surprise that the most recent parking suspensions along the north side of Leinster Square, W2, expired over a week ago, yet the developers continue to prevent use of the spaces (and as usual they prevent the use of more than the number of spaces suspended). Would somebody like to remind the developers that they should be swelling your coffers for the privilege?”

The Council say:

“I can confirm that the parking suspensions team were already aware of this issue and that the company responsible have applied to extend their suspensions at this location. The charge that we apply will include a retrospective payment to cover all the days the bays were in use. In this particular instance the company allowed their suspensions to lapse before applying to renew them, however Parking Services had already been in contact with the site manager of the development regarding their use of these bays and the need for them to ensure they submit applications in a timely manner.”

Sutherland Place

We are supporting residents’ objection to the proposal for a deep basement development at 46 Sutherland Place. Residents say:

“This is a large scheme which will affect the whole of Sutherland Place and properties backing onto Sutherland Place in Moorhouse Road and Northumberland Place, which are already traumatises by the successions of more and more extensive permissions.”
Residents are collecting signatures for a petition and say “so far we have over 50 signatories in Sutherland Place, Moorhouse Road, Northumberland Place, Talbot Road and Artesian Road”

Ossington Street – update

We followed up previous enquiries after receiving this further report from a resident:

“The rubbish is not a question of a bag or two . It is several black rubbish bags left daily, not just at weekends. Also, it is not a question of a transient population since the same people have been leaving this since last October. So, once again, the response of the council bears no relation to reality. As a result of the council’s failure to react, the problem is escalating and today they left a fridge “

The Council have told us:

“The local Inspector Ashik Ali is already aware of this waste issue on Ossington Street, which is shared with Kensington & Chelsea. Ashik recently put up Don’t Dump notices and has conducted several spot checks but so far no evidence has been obtained, we will continue to monitor & enforce as soon as evidence is obtained. Collection time letters have also been distributed to Westminster residents only; although we suspect K&C residents are leaving their waste on Westminster public highway.”

Sunderland Terrace

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Can you please advise on the status of scooters and motor bikes parked in resident car parking spaces and not in the area designated for bikes . They do take up a disproportionate amount of space and reduce much needed residents ‘car parking space for which we pay”

The Council says;

“The residents of that zone, whatever their vehicles, be they cars, motorcycles or mopeds, are entitled to park in residents bays in their own zone. The bay in Sunderland Terrace is not restricted to cars alone.”

Kensington Square Gardens

We have asked the Council to look into this issue:

“It appears so many people are either so stupid/lazy they can’t put their rubbish actually in the bin (despite half the time they’re not overflowing, although this is also often an issue) or there is not enough capacity for the hotels/guest houses etc. The latter point is also more valid in terms of larger disposals – the amount of mattresses, fridges, sofas etc which are just dumped beside the bins is frequent. Or, it’s just a dreadful case of fly tipping. “

Electoral Registration – makes sure your voice is heard

Each year the Council’s Electoral Services Office has to publish a revised Register of Electors. This involves conducting an audit of all residential properties in Westminster. In order to carry out this task Westminster City Council is recruiting enthusiastic, fit and dedicated staff to join the Electoral Canvassing Team.

If you are interested in joining the Canvassing Team then follow this link to the application form:
https://www.westminster.gov.uk/canvasser-recruitment

To make sure that you and your family are correctly registered, follow this link:
https://www.westminster.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Northumberland Place – what you say

“I totally agree with the problem of building works on Northumberland Place. I live on the next street over, Sutherland Place, and I am often woken by the building works on Northumberland Place, as well as from the increasing amount of building works on my own street. I would definitely appreciate a change in the law that says they can only work from 9am and not on Saturdays (or at least not on Saturday mornings!)”

St Petersburgh Place – what you say

“I notice a brief note about rubbish being left in cubby holes on St Petersburgh Place – been an issue for some time now and was a real mess during the winter. “

Chepstow Road buses – what you say

“The main reason for the traffic jams in Chepstow Road is that the road is not really wide enough for two way traffic as well as car parking on both sides of the road. At the northern end of Chepstow Road where parking is only on one side there are rarely any jams. Perhaps parking between the junctions with Talbot Road and with Westbourne Grove should be restricted to one side of Chepstow Road, alternating daily.”

Chepstow Road – what you say

“Chepstow Road along with Westbourne Grove must surely qualify for the honour of most frequently dug up road in the area. Wouldn’t it be better for the utility companies to do a thorough job for once instead of constantly quick fix patching up jobs? And for the Council to check the quality of the re-instatement of the road surface every time.”

Whiteleys – what you say

“I do hope there will be affordable housing in the Queensway development, but am not sanguine over WCC stumping up for this”

What you say

“Thank you for your informative emails to date and your ongoing efforts to support and engage with the local community.”

“Thank your regular updates, all most informative and useful”

“Many thanks, and I look forward to your next update”

“Thank you for your latest Action Report. Always a satisfying read, knowing that complaints and suggestions made to you will at the very least, be investigated and not vanish into the City Hall void. Please keep your Action Reports coming.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – July 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Chepstow Road

We are chasing up the Council on this long-standing issue:

“Would you be so kind as to follow up with Westminster council regarding the condition of Chepstow Road, it’s got worse! Trenches on road are getting larger, result large vehicles “bouncing” over causing more vibrations and noise! As for the volume of buses it’s unreal! Every day one can guarantee there will be a roadblock as buses do not give way to each other, often these buses are empty which result in constant traffic jams. Increase in noise and air pollution which is totally unacceptable for residents!”

The Council says:

“I can confirm that the street is not in this year’s programme but it is possibly going to be in next year’s. We can’t promise this at this stage as the final list is made of an algorithm based on a number of variables. I understand from my colleagues who compile the list that the letters to Ward Members are going out in the next 2-3 weeks- at which point they can respond with detail of the strength of local feeling and impact to ensure that this street is as high up the list as it can be.”

We have advised residents to start a petition so that the Council is aware of the strength of local feeling on this matter.

Water leak outside 75 Chepstow Road

We have contacted Thames Water about this issue

“We have already had two very serious leeks in this area. Thames Water have stopped by a couple of times, lifted a couple of grids, a bit of road marking, nothing else. The flood area is spreading. This is a bus route for five buses plus the transits from the garage. Any good ideas for someone I can telephone?”

Thames Water told us;

“I have raised this with the clean water network team for the area and this is being investigated as a priority case given the delay. One of our Network Service Technicians attended the site today to assess the repair work needed.”

This problem has now been sorted out and residents say:

“Many thanks for your assistance, the Murphy guys worked like Trojans. They discovered the leak was not where it was marked, worked out it was about a yard into the road. They have now finished and we said we would tell you how impressed we were with the way they dealt with a difficult situation. A great factor was the way they handled the traffic, no lights, no buses waiting for them to change, everyone was so respectful of each other.”

Westbourne Grove

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I try to remain patient, living as I do on a building site (you may know it as Bayswater), but I continue to be dismayed by the number of new pavements being installed in the area that don’t have lowered kerbs at junctions for wheelchairs and prams etc. The latest example is along the stretch of Westbourne Grove near the recently converted Westbourne House, where unsightly slopes of what looks like temporary tarmac have been laid to compensate. Presumably all of this will need to be re-done at great expense and further disruption. Why can’t developers get it right first time? It is very frustrating.”

Kensington Gardens Square

Residents of 43-45 Kensington Gardens Square have asked us to contact their landlord, Genesis, about long-delayed repairs and maintenance issues.

New look for Whiteleys?

Merger Bergman and the Warrior Group have unveiled new plans for the £1bn redevelopment of the Whiteleys building, Queensway. The Foster + Partners scheme aims to deliver a better range of retail on the ground floor, a residential development and new leisure facilities, including a hotel. The project covers 515,000 sq ft in total, and includes the grade II listed colonnaded façade fronting Bayswater. A planning application is expected to be submitted to Westminster City Council later this summer.

This is, of course, just part of a much wider proposed development in and around Queensway, and we await the details which have yet to be put forward as a formal planning application. Not only will these be significant changes to the area, they will, of course, also be expected to make a wider contribution to the area by way of the Community Infrastructure Levy and affordable housing. This needs to involve some tough negotiating by Westminster. We want the area to support a healthy local economy and to be an attractive environment, but we need to make sure it is a balanced community as too – too much of inner London is hollowing out and long-standing communities are undermined where a proper balance is not found.

Crackdown against begging and ASB in Lancaster Gate and Bayswater

Local police tell us that;

“These coming weeks will see the Lancaster Gate and Bayswater SNT and cluster policing team targeting beggars and Anti-Social Behaviour in Queensway, Westbourne Grove, Royal Oak and the immediate surrounding streets. We will be working with Westminster Council and will be utilising new Anti-Social Behaviour Legislation. This means that we will be able to issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) in the near future. In order for this to be implemented, we do need impact statements from local residents and businesses. Some individuals have come forward, but we do need more. CPNs will be used to require individuals to stop begging in the area. If the CPN is breached, they will be either arrested or summonsed to court and could be liable to a huge fine or custodial sentence.”

Royal Oak Station

Back in May 2014 Labour GLA member Murad Qureshi wrote to Transport for London to express his concern that the poor condition of the staircase at Royal Oak station posed a real health and safety threat to commuters. TfL acted on the letter and, after being closed for three weeks whilst remedial work was carried out, the station reopened in May with a new staircase.

On line advice service

People living in Westminster can now receive email advice and information from Advice Westminster’s new online service. Residents can submit a query using a simple form, which will be answered by email within five working days. Applicants will receive a one-off response from a trained adviser who, wherever possible, will provide advice or information, or give details of other organisations that may be able to help. Residents can ask about a range of topics, including benefits and employment rights, as well as having access to health, debt and housing information.

You can get started http://advicewestminster.org.uk/get-advice-online/?ct=t%28One+Westminster+News+|+15+August+2014%29

Cycling on the pavement – what you say

“I was a bit annoyed by this unconstructive comment about people cycling on pavements. It is, as you know from the terrifying statistics of deaths and serious injuries, so dangerous these days to cycle and one of the reasons is that there are just not enough cycling lanes. “

“I sometimes take my 3 year old on my bicycle through the park. There is absolutely no way I will cycle the roundabout around Lancaster Gate with my 3 year old. It is way too dangerous with cars coming very fast from three different directions and changing lanes. I have to take the pedestrian crossing and then cycle on the pavement next to the park’s gate up until the main road entrance where I can then join a cycling lane”

“It really is a pain to read comments about giving fines to cyclists while there just needs to be more investment for cycling lanes. There is a huge population of cyclists and a serious lack of infrastructure to accommodate them safely.”

Northumberland Place – what you say

“The new ‘dawn chorus’ is not birdsong but the jack-hammers and drills starting up, often before 8am. We existing residents live with constant, unbearable din, which makes life unbearable. The rules should be changed as follows: Works should start at 9am and stop at 5pm (they hardly ever work beyond 4pm anyway, so will not lose hours). No works should be allowed at all on Saturdays.

The working rules should cover not just noisy works but the actual presence of builders on site. Sometimes they will arrive early on site, as early as 6am and, though not actually working, will be very noisy with shouting at each other and heavy footsteps etc. Often they will sneak in a few bits of hammering or shifting of rubble, grabbing lorries often arrive well before 8am. If one tries to call the Noise Team at WCC, one is on hold for ages and by the time one gets through, the legal time has started and the complaint becomes moot. The volume of builds has increased beyond reason and it is very detrimental to the quality of life in London. We are becoming jangled-nerved, sour-faced, irritable wretches!”

What you say

“I’ve greatly enjoyed and found very useful your regular updates”

“I have shared some of your e-mails with a friend as an example of a great way to keep in touch with constituents”

“You seem to be one of the very few people in Westminster who cares about what the residents care about”

And finally …..

“A House in Bayswater” – This early Ken Russell film tells the story of the occupants of a soon-to-be demolished house in Bayswater:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00rzvq2

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – June 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

St Petersburgh Place

We are continuing to urge the Council to sort out this issue:

“There is still a problem with the cubby holes without gates on them filling up with rubbish on St Petersburgh Place, from the back of the Orme Square houses”

Leinster Gardens

Following an enquiry from a resident about the creation of a substandard and undersized flat in the basement of a property in Leinster Gardens without planning permission, we asked the Planning Enforcement team to inspect the property. The property has now been inspected and indeed found to be substandard and undersized and is now no longer in use.

Leinster Square – update

We have received the latest update from the Council regarding residents’ concerns over lorries leaving their engines on whilst being loaded;

“The City Council is using its traffic marshals to enforce the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002 in order to reduce polluting emissions from stationary vehicles. Vehicles idling while stationary cause unnecessary use of fuel, an increase in emissions and can also create a noisy environment, especially for residents and businesses. It is an offence under Regulation 98 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to leave a vehicle engine idling unnecessarily whilst stationary and powers are available to authorised local authority officers to issue fixed penalty notices of £20 to drivers who allow their vehicle engines to run unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary. The Westminster Air Quality Action Plan, adopted in 2013, made a commitment to review the options and resource and emissions implications of utilising ‘no idling’ legislation to help improve local air quality.”

Below is a link to the City Council’s website giving more information
https://www.westminster.gov.uk/idling-vehicles-0

Claremont Court

We are taking up this issue with the Council:

“Residents of Claremont Court do not put blue bags on the street. These flats have a separate marked recycling bin provided by WCC for paper/ glass etc. It is kept at the rear of the block. Residents put their blue recycling bags in this bin. General rubbish is kept separate in the usual black bins. However the blue bags are not collected by a recycling vehicle. What happens is that a Veolia operative arrives at c7.00am and dumps all the black bag rubbish into the blue bag recycling container and this is then wheeled out to the street and then into a waste lorry which crushes all the stuff together. Other blue bag recycling in this part of Queensway is treated similarly. As a result some residents are saying why bother?!”

The Council says:

“We have now looked into the issue at Claremont Court. The Operations Manager for the services involved has confirmed that the crew do, on occasion, use the recycling bin as a means to carry additional waste bags from Claremont Court to the collection vehicle. This is not acceptable practice and the crew have been instructed to stop doing it. The crew assured their manager they do not tip any recycling bags and only use the recycling bin when it is empty (waste and recycling being collected on alternate days of the week). Even so, this is not acceptable and we will ensure all Veolia crews are briefed on the matter to avoid a repeat.”

Exeter House, Hallfield

We are taking up problems with blocked drains suffered by some residents in Exeter House.

Reading, Pembroke and Tenby Houses – Hallfield

City West Homes has written to all residents within these blocks requesting that any defects with the windows fitted by Mulalley be reported to them. These will be inspected before being passed to the contractor to rectify.

The scheme to replace tenant front doors at Reading, Pembroke and Tenby Houses are expected to start late this year.

Ossington Street

We are chasing the Council on this issue:

“I am writing to you now after spending seven months trying to get some response from the Council. I have sent seven emails and had five conversations but clearly they have zero interest in engaging with this. One set of neighbours across the road have been using the pavement as their personal rubbish-dump since last October. Since they leave their rubbish there, anyone passing disposes of their rubbish there also. It is clear who is disposing of the rubbish, since everyone else in the street has their own area for disposing of rubbish. If there is anything that can be done to resolve this, I would be very grateful.”

The Redan pub

We are keeping a close eye on the Redan Pub, at the corner of Queensway and Westbourne Grove, which is closed “for refurbishment”. We hope that it reopens soon.

‘No Idling’ Legislation

Over the past three months, Marshals have been approaching motorists who unnecessarily keep their engines running while their vehicle is stationary and requesting that they turn them off. From Monday 1st June, drivers who refuse to turn off their engine could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £20, although it is intended that these will only be issued as a last resort. Marshals have recorded the number of idling vehicles over the past three months and identified 12 hotspots in Westminster, including Queensway.

Cycling on the pavement

We are liaising with the Council and the Police on this recurring issue:

“I have written to you previously about people cycling on pavements. I am particularly aware of it on the Edgware Road and Bayswater Road where I walk daily. I have seen policemen in the vicinity of these cyclists but they seem to take a blind eye. I also see them cycling in Hyde Park where there are clear ‘NO CYCLES’ signs but I suppose that is a matter for the Park Authorities who seem to be equally indolent. Although I realise you may have many more pressing and noble causes to fight, I would be most grateful if you could give this problem your attention; perhaps a few high profile and hefty fines may be a deterrent.”

Carnival – What you say

“We have lived inside the Carnival area for almost 40 years, and while it is true that we don’t enjoy Carnival now as much as we did when we were younger, it really seems that two and a half days of crowded streets and loud music is not too much to bear! Yes, of course, we would rather that people didn’t pee in our front garden or throw food wrappers there. But the Council does clean up, and clean up pretty well too. I think we are lucky to be able to live where we do, and happy that Carnival continues.”

“I note the frustration recently expressed about Carnival which is consistent with the issues I raised with you; namely that Carnival has become more an event for outsiders at the expense – and detriment – of local residents”

What you say

“An excellent report, congratulations on your efforts”

“Thanks for your “Action Report”. It is useful to know what is going on and what action is being taken on our behalf.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Westminster City Council Labour Group

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – May 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Chepstow Road

Earlier this year residents told us;

“We are continuing to have the same problems i.e. trenches/pot holes appearing again on the road. Buses/large vehicles are literally “bouncing” over this which is causing the properties to vibrate! e.g. outside no 37, 54 and 60 Chepstow Road.”

Following our enquiries, the Council has confirmed that the site was visited and works orders have been raised for two carriageway patches and a defective carriageway trench has been referred to Thames Water for remedial works.

Leinster Square

We are making enquiries after receiving this message:

“A large lorry was being loaded with rubble from the works at 13-17 Leinster Square with its engine running, causing noise, pollution and of course greenhouse gases. Are there rules about this? I asked the driver and foreman if it was necessary to keep the engine running and I was fed some rubbish about it needing more fuel to start the engine again than would be used while it was ticking over! The driver did switch off without too much fuss, thankfully, but it’s not the first time this has happened, and I would like to be sure of my facts about any legislation that applies.”

Residents speaking at Planning Committee meetings

On 29th April we put down the following motion at the Council meeting:

“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.”

Unfortunately, while all Labour Councillors voted for this motion, all the Conservative Councillors voted against the motion, including all the Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Conservative Councillors who were present at the meeting.

We will continue to press the Council on this fundamental issue.

Porchester Terrace

There is a fascinating article about the history of 3-5 Porchester Terrace:

“Lined with the Italianate mansions of ambassadors’ residences and the palatial pieds-à-terre of Middle Eastern royals, Porchester Terrace is an unlikely place to find the original icon of suburbia. But the building that would spawn Britain’s most ubiquitous suburban housing type lurks right here: now protected behind defensive layers of intercoms and electric gates stands the paradigmatic progenitor of the English semi-detached house.”

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/01/the-grand-london-semi-that-spawned-a-housing-revolution-a-history-of-cities-in-50-buildings-day-8

Trees

We asked the Council for an update about replacing a number of lost trees after receiving this enquiry:

“I would like to ask if anyone is keeping track of the steady loss of trees in our area due to new developments. One was felled when the new building on Porchester Road (now housing the West London Buddhist Centre) was built; two were felled to build the new development on Westbourne Grove adjacent to Hatherley Grove; and now it is proposed to lose the two trees outside the Sainsbury building. Are there any plans to replace these, or are they just to be sacrificed? We need the oxygen!”

The Council told us that the trees on Porchester and Hatherley Grove will be replaced when the developments have been completed. The two trees outside the Sainsbury building will also be replaced with new trees in the vicinity as there will be insufficient space to plant on Westbourne Grove.

Carnival

We have asked the Council for an update on this year’s arrangement after receiving this enquiry:

“We on the carnival route and those in the general area, who can’t escape for that bank-holiday weekend, are under siege. I have calculated that I, in my years living on Chepstow Road, have lost 36 days of holiday and that doesn’t count the Saturday before the carnival because I have to prepare for it. Then I have to clean up my front garden and basement area at the end of each day. The council offers a ‘clean-up service’ for those living on the route but it doesn’t come into effect until 3 days later; I don’t want chicken bones and beer cans and broken glass and vomit and excrement sitting in front of my house waiting to be cleared for that long!

The carnival really needs to be discussed thoroughly, in terms of noise, nuisance, disgusting behaviour, filth, smells etc. I am not against the carnival; I grew up with it (it used run just along the Portobello Rd), but, it seems that all locals hate it and dread it and that only out-of-towners and tourists flood in to enjoy it. I can’t see that it benefits the residents in the area at all and we have to give up, overall, weeks of our free time/holiday time for the benefit of the company that runs it, for the non-local food-stall holders who hand out over-priced but revolting food, littering the streets with their polystyrene containers etc. I am starting to consider leaving my birth-place, my home, my community that I used to love so much; because of the vultures swooping in to abuse and use this area for their own benefit while offering nothing in return. “

Residents speaking at Planning Committee meetings – what you say

“Thank you on behalf of W2 residents for proposing this timely motion! As this is a matter of the wider democratic principal, rather than just a specific planning application, and therefore relevant to all of Westminster’s voters”

What you say

“Thank you so much for this newsletter which covers issues in a way that the council keeps us in the dark about”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

Printed and Published by Andy Whitley at Westminster North Labour Party at 4g Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – April 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Botts Mews

We were very disappointed when the Planning Committee agreed to the proposed basement development in Botts Mews. All three Conservative Councillors voted for the basement extension. Labour Councillor Barbara Grahame voted against. Here is what residents have told us:

“The anger and frustration is increasing to a breaking point”

“It was a really disappointing experience last night after all the trouble that everybody had been to in proving this development is going to have such a bad effect on the local community ……and only one Committee member against saying that she thought it would be a disaster”

Enabling the public to speak at Planning Committee meetings

We have called on Westminster Council 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.

In a letter to Council we say;

“We appreciate that, given the volume of planning applications received by the Council, this needs careful thought. However, we believe that this can be managed without difficulty by introducing the following criteria:
• Speakers should be allowed where a planning application receives more than 50 individual written objections or a petition with over 50 individual signatures
• A limit of two speakers per application – one speaking for the objectors and one speaking for the applicant – with a limit of 3 minutes per speaker
• The agendas for the weekly Planning Committee meetings should be organised so that all applications which attract speakers are considered on the same agenda, perhaps once a month. The start of these meetings should be brought forward to 6pm (from 6.30pm).”

We call on the Council to adopt this simple and straightforward change in the way in which Planning Committee meetings operate so that those residents most directly affected by planning proposals (and those promoting them) are able to state their case directly to the Committee members when applications are being determined. This would be a small but significant step forward in the process of restoring public confidence in local democracy in Westminster.

Porchester Terrace/Porchester Gardens/Leinster Gardens junction – Parking Update

The parking team has met with Hallfield School and made it clear that the current parking situation is unacceptable and pointed out the nuisance that it is causing to other road users and residents. The school has a travel plan in place and has been issued with concession cards (and they have distributed 17 to parents of children who live outside of the borough).

The Planning Department will be sending the school some information regarding parking in the local area (such as information on the Park Right app and some ‘dos and don’ts’) and they will discuss ideas to engage the children and the school which will go some way to educating the parents on the need for safer parking. The Parking Team will also be discussing stricter enforcement as there is a view that current practice is on the lenient side at the moment with some parents parking for up to twenty five minutes (concession cards allow only for ten minutes).

Westbourne Grove

We are investigating this issue with the Council:

“The company undertaking the resurfacing of the pavement resurfacing is very poorly carried out, and the workman involved are unprofessional. Some of the new pavement slabs installed are already loose, the gaps between the slabs are far too large, and are unfilled without cement. The shop fronts and the pavement are not aligned.”

Chepstow Road

Residents alerted us to this continuing problem:

“We are continuing to have the same problems i.e. trenches/pot holes appearing again on the road. Buses/large vehicles are literally “bouncing” over this which is causing the properties to vibrate! e.g. outside numbers 37, 54 and 60 Chepstow Road. Could you please visit the site and let me know your thoughts?”

Council officers are making a site visit to assess the situation and what can be done.

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to let us know what action will be taken to address this recurring issue with the builders in the Square:

“The parking suspensions opposite 7-12 Leinster Square expired on 27 March, but don’t seem to have been renewed, despite the ongoing building works preventing use of a large number of parking bays. I also note that a conveyor system has just been installed at 13-17 Leinster Square, presumably for new basement excavation works. The last time this happenedparking bays were blocked off without a parking suspension being applied for. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this were to happen again, in view of the rather cavalier attitude of the developers. It really is all very tiresome.”

Queens Building, Westbourne Grove

Heal’s is to move to Westbourne Grove. According to the press, “the furniture store is developing a specialist showroom strategy which will commence in spring 2015 and see the move of Heal’s King’s Road store to a new showroom at The Queens Building, Westbourne Grove. The former Queens art deco cinema has been transformed by Derwent London into a new retail showroom and apartment building.”

20mph speed limit – on-line petition

We have posted a new online petition to urge Westminster Council to introduce 20mph trials on residential streets:

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to follow Transport for London’s lead and to reduce the number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured by 40 per cent by 2020.”

You can sign the petition here http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/20mphtrial/

Residents in a number of Westminster’s residential streets have already urged the Council to introduce a 20mph speed limit and traffic calming measures. The TfL initiative is a very welcome step forward and should be followed in Westminster as a matter of urgency in order to reduce accidents and increase road safety.

Westminster Council cannot continue to avoid listening to local residents on this important issue. Action needs to be taken to reduce road casualties and immediate 20mph speed trials need to be established in areas of Westminster where residents have petitioned for action, without further delay.

Superfast Broadband

Karen Buck is putting pressure on BT to speed up the local rollout of Infinity. It does not seem sensible that neither BT Openreach’s fibre network nor Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre coaxial system are available in large parts of Westminster, leaving many residents without access to superfast internet. Chris Bryant, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport outlined his views on this important subject in Parliament recently. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-02-03e.237.0 Karen very much agrees with his comments and believes that the next Government must act on this.

Royal Oak pedestrian crossings – what you say

“I am glad someone pointed out that the lights at the Royal Oak pedestrian crossing are not working properly. I would add that cars and cyclists are flying through this zebra crossing with little to no regard for those of us pedestrians using the cross walk. In the morning there are many parents walking their children to school, myself included, and many of them narrowly miss being hit by cars and bikes. Is there any way to monitor this more closely for a spell to get motorists and cyclists accustomed to stopping? “

Hallfield Estate – what you say

“One other local issue which might bear investigating is how people can still afford to exercise the Right To Buy on the Hallfield Estate and elsewhere when the market value of a typical flat is £600,000 and the discount is cash-limited to £100,000. If the balance is paid for by mortgage then this supposes a household income of £60,000 p.a. plus – possible, I suppose, but surely not all that common amongst CityWest tenants. It has been suggested to me that what happens is that intermediaries advance a substantial sum to the sitting tenant in return for the latter agreeing to quit the property (and sell his remaining interest in it) after a year or so. You don’t need me to remind you what the interest in the flats here as Buy-to-Lets is.”

Cock and Bottle pub, Artesian Road – what you say

“I had no idea about turning the pub into a restaurant. This will impact on residents parking providing free parking for visitors after 6.30pm through the week and after 1.30 pm on Saturdays and thus continue to make it even more difficult for residents to park when returning after 6.30pm. The Artesian Road grid should be brought into line with the surrounding areas by extending residents parking to 10pm at night and through the weekend. At the moment we suffer enough from our provision of free parking for visitors and restaurant goers after 6.30pm. As regards the restaurant may I suggest that there is no outside dining to annoy residents?”

Basement developments – what you say

“I own a property in Northumberland Place which has been rented to long term tenants since 2002. It has always been rented to long term tenants…until last year. Why? Because my tenants were forced to move out due the structural damage from an adjoining sub-basement development. In fact, over the last 5 years, my tenants have suffered sub-basement developments on both sides of my property. This has meant, as a landlord, I have not been able to charge a market rent for close to 5 years. So whilst I understand the concerns regarding short term lets, spare a thought for those of us who would prefer long term tenants but can’t find them as a direct consequence of the Council’s policy on sub basements”

What you say

“Thank you for your excellent newsletter”

“Best of luck with your excellent work”

“Thank you, as ever, for your excellent work.”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group

Printed and Published by Andy Whitley at Westminster North Labour Party at 4g Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – March 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Durham Terrace

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Number 8, second floor flat on Durham Terrace has a missing/broken window that risks freezing pipes of neighbours – it’s not a building sight but rather negligence/neglect/abandonment that adversely impacts neighbours and risks damage/degradation to other properties. I reported it to the Council at “Report it” but no response. It has been this way for weeks and lowers the quality of life in the neighbourhood.”

We contacted City West Homes regarding the property at 8 Durham Terrace and they confirmed that it is managed by them and agreed to look into the concerns. They have carried out an inspection of the window and have requested a repair to be carried out.

Artesian Road

We are investing this issue;

“What is going to happen to our lovely pub on the corner of Artesian Road? Is it going to one of those up market wine joints? i hope that won’t be the case, it will spoil our lovely little corner”

We made enquiries and found out the following:

“The Cock and Bottle was taken over a year ago by The City Pub Company who want to put a greater emphasis on food and have decided to make the ground floor into a restaurant, where there is no bar service and people will only be served alcohol at their tables. They also will have a bookable room upstairs for private functions and an outside area.”

Orme Court/St Petersburgh Place

We have again asked the Council to investigate this long-running issue:

“There is still a problem with the cubby holes belonging to Orme Court backing onto St Petersburgh Place. The rubbish appears not to be the job of the council to remove and just remains, it is very unsightly and a rat focus. The street is used a lot by people going to the park.”

We contacted the local warden regarding the Cubby holes and confirmed that waste collections are being carried out as usual per the scheduled collection times for Orme Court. He believes that residents are using the cubby holes for waste storage throughout the day and as a result the waste is attracting vermin or getting blown about by the wind. He explained that as recent as three months ago, these cubby holes were attracting rough sleepers and residents were advised to manage their waste properly and keep all waste secure until collection has taken place. The warden also arranges for the removal of waste on an ad hoc basis, when the rubbish is causing environmental concerns. The cubby holes are flushed clean on a regular basis to eliminate any smells, stains or attraction to vermin. Residents have been asked to secure these cubby holes to prevent rough sleeping and waste. One property has complied with this request.

Junction of Porchester Terrace/Porchester Gardens/Leinster Gardens

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“Almost every day it is chaos with cars and vans and coaches unable to pass due to parents parking across double yellow lines and on the junctions. The wardens do nothing but watch and cannot manage the parents’ behaviour at all. They are very good at giving tickets later in the day to cars parked for five minutes over their due time in bays where they are causing no problems to traffic flow, but completely unable to perform a useful function at school drop off and collection time. It is nearly always the same parents leaving very large vehicles on the double yellows, across drop downs etc. making it not only inconvenient for any driver trying to get around the junction but dangerous for the children and their parents who are on foot as they cannot see oncoming traffic or use the drop-downs.

In addition to this, the minicab drivers regularly park in the residents and pay and display bays (without paying or having a permit) and sit or sleep in their cars for hours waiting for a fare. Again, the wardens do nothing.”

The Council say:

“We will meet with the head of Hallfield School and invited parents with a view to educating them on the rules surrounding parking near schools and also help them to understand the importance of ensuring the safety of their children and other road users. These meetings have yielded improvements at other schools where there have been issues with parents dropping off and picking up their children.

With regards to the mincab/private hire vehicles parking for long periods of time, I will work to identify which company or offices they are working from and speak with their management to advise them of the parking rules. The kerbside operations team manage the enforcement aspect of the parking contract and they will then take this forward with the Marshall team.”

Bathurst Street/Westbourne Street

We have asked the Council about this issue:

“I’m a resident on Cleveland Square with a request to lower the pavement where Bathurst Street meets Westbourne Street so that bicycles can easily access both byways. Not sure why but the pavement was raised a few years ago and this causes a lot of consternation for the casual/leisure bicycle rider who has to get off and lift their bicycles to access both streets.”

The Council say that Bathurst Street is a no-through-road and this is why there is a kerb. The Council says if it wasn’t like that they would run the risk of pedestrians being hit by speeding cyclists.

Westbourne Park Villas

We have reported this issue to the Council for action:

“This week work started on the removal of the railway building near the Westbourne Park Villas footbridge over the railway line to the Harrow Road. To enable the work to be done the pavement and one half of the road on the north side of the Villas has been blocked off for contractors use. Traffic lights have been installed outside no 60 Westbourne Park Villas. No resident parking suspensions have been put in place. The road is now extremely narrow at this point. I have observed lorries trying to get past the parked cars and the contractors hoarding with difficulty. There was an incident this morning when cars were jumping the lights and causing chaos. There is also a building site further down the road which has constant traffic action with large lorries arriving every day. I would like to suggest that a warning notice is placed at both ends of the road so that traffic can take an alternative route down Westbourne Park Road. Also that some residents parking is suspended directly opposite the footbridge works so that there is adequate room for vehicles to navigate down this, now, restricted road.”

The Council say that these works are being carried out by Network Rail under the Crosssrail Act. They have suspended three resident parking bays (one for these works and two for the building site at no.76). Council staff are looking into whether advanced warning signs would be of any benefit and they will continue to monitor the site.

Pedestrian crossings to the south of Royal Oak station

We have heard from residents of their concern about the poor quality of the pedestrian crossing lights at the junctions of Westbourne Park Villas, Westbourne Park Road, Porchester Road and Gloucester Terrace. These are all immediately to the left of Royal Oak station as you came out. There is clearly insufficient lighting for some and we have asked the Council to investigate if this is a maintenance issue or one of replacement altogether with new systems of crossing at this dangerous road junction for pedestrians.

88-94 Westbourne Grove

The Protect Westbourne Grove Action Group report that:

“Unfortunately, the Committee saw no real problem with the development on the front – Westbourne Grove side. Some conditions were added, for instance on opening hours and parking, but the scheme (including the art deco design, loss of public highway, trees, cycle racks etc.) as such seems to have been given the thumbs up, with the exception of the rear. The Committee deferred a decision asking the developers to review the height and bulk at the back of the development facing into the mews.”

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to investigate the building works at 37 Leinster Square. Residents say;

“This is a building owned by MARA, a Malaysian government agency. It has apparently been leased to Mara Incorporated London, a company wholly owned by MARA. The house has been used since the 1970s as a hostel for students from Malaysia, on government scholarships from the MARA Foundation. If one manages to get through by phone to Westminster City Council, then they will look this address up and say it is the “Mara Hotel”. But the building has never been a hotel, just a student hostel housing some 30 students at any one time. I mention this, because of a fear that they will try to change its use to a hotel (or serviced apartments).”

It is clear to us that what is going on there. It will be a major project, possibly involving conversions and extensions and a change of use. They have not applied for any planning permission. We are concerned about the lack of information, the lack of planning permission, the seeming sporadic and highly unprofessional way that they have been going about work so far – with no regard to rules and regulations – the likely disruption of months of building work, and the future use of this building.”

Holiday lets

We were very disappointed that the Government has ignored the concerns of many residents by pressing ahead with legislation that will make it easier for homes in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate to be used as short term holiday lets. In particular;

• Long term residents will experience a loss of privacy and amenity of their own homes, increased anti-social behaviour and noise and other unneighbourly behaviour such as dumped rubbish.
• More property owners will rent their flats out to tourists or business travellers, rather than long term tenants. This will do nothing to alleviate the housing shortage and could well make it even harder for people to find local accommodation in the private rented sector.

Karen Buck MP has been campaigning strongly against this legislation and you can read her speech in Parliament about this here http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2015-01-07a.136.0

Basement extensions

Labour’s Murad Qureshi talks specifically about Bayswater at the GLA…
just press the link.

Mega-basement issue in London won’t go away

Burglaries Update

The police tell us that significant resources have been deployed in response to the recent increase in burglaries in the area, from uniformed and plain clothed patrols from both the Safer Neighbourhood Teams and other resources. As a result, the police have arrested 10 offenders in the last two months and have issued 3 CBO’s (Community Behaviour Orders). Burglaries have reduced by 40% between December and January. The police also reconfirmed their commitment to carry on the patrols over the coming months to continue to tackle the issue.

Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Safer Neighbourhood Teams

You can contact the Bayswater SNT at

http://content.met.police.uk/Team/Westminster/Bayswater

You can contact the Lancaster Gate SNT at

http://content.met.police.uk/Team/Westminster/LancasterGate

Basement developments – what you say

“Just to let you know, in the last few moments, I have overheard a neighbour SCREAMING out of his window at the builders next door to him (Northumberland Place, where there are 5 major rebuilds happening): “STOP BANGING, I’M AT THE END OF MY TETHER!!!”. The builders are working within the permitted hours but nevertheless all of this is grinding us down and making us lose our sanity. I recently had to scream at the builders next door to me to stop works (jack-hammers, drills etc) but, in that case, they were working beyond the time limits. It seems to me that property speculators have become the new ruling class. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”

“If WCC ‘showed more teeth’ and was stricter, it would not be regarded as a pushover by the property developers, which in turn would lead to fewer applications meaning a smaller burden on the beleaguered Planning Officers and more peace for us existing residents who are increasingly feeling that we live on a permanent building site. The effects of all this construction is not just environmental, but it is causing a lot of bad feeling and resentment between neighbours, which doesn’t make for a healthy community spirit. I have been subjected to a dreadful, ugly, build next door. My street is listed but it appears that even listed buildings are no longer protected. ‘Conservation Area’ also seems to be a meaningless status.”

What you say

“Thanks for this update. It is good to read that people are taking an interest in their community”

“Great to receive this regular update newsletter and appreciate all the work you do to make our area a better residential area”

“Thanks for the sterling work in keeping us all updated and for your prompt action on many issues on our behalf”

“Thanks very much for update, mostly very good works”

“Very interesting, it’s so good things are getting under control”

“Thank you for sending on the latest Bayswater & Lancaster Gate action report – we appreciate being kept informed of issues and the action that you take to support residents.”

“Thanks for your newsletter. It’s a useful for us local residents to know what’s going on, in our case regarding Greene King plc’s application for their Prince Bonaparte pub.”

“Thanks and keep up the good work!”

“Thank you for the hard work you do for us in Bayswater”

“I want to thank you for all the good work you are doing for our community”

“Thank you for all your hard work and dedication”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group

Karen BuckKaren Buck MP’s report to SEBRA

Crime and policing

The now 20-year long decline in overall crime, whilst very welcome, inevitably conceals lots of variations, both in types of crime and between areas. Last year’s crime figures for Westminster, for example, show a fall in total crime on the year, including burglary and robbery, but a sharp rise in violent crime, which rose from 7019 offences in 2013 to 8,541 in 2014. There were also rises in reported levels of rape and sexual offences, domestic violence and race and religious hate crime.

More locally, there have been reports of a rise in burglaries. Met crime figures confirm that there has been a rise in burglary in Lancaster Gate over the year, and in recent weeks there have been particular issues in Bayswater, Westbourne Gardens, Westbourne Park Villas and Sunderland Terrace. Police are now focusing on burglary reduction in W2 and I am told that an action plan has been prepared to make sure this is implemented.

I was very disappointed to hear that the Paddington Green custody suite has been closed, since this means that when the police make an arrest they have to take the suspect to Belgravia for processing – greatly adding to the time they are off the streets in North Westminster. This appears to be linked to the issue of staffing levels – and indeed two of our long standing Safer Neighbourhood Sergeants, including Sgt Ken Taylor from Hyde Park, have been moved to cover custody. The pressure on staffing levels is very acute – I previously reported that we lost almost one-third of our total police strength in Westminster between 2011 and last year.

My view is that the fall in police numbers has gone far enough and I am concerned by warnings from the Commissioner that “all bets are off” when it comes to the next round of budget cuts. The Labour Group on the GLA have put forward a budget that would put an extra 1,000 officers back on the streets, and I would support that.

Night time economy

Plans are underway for extending the tube to a 24 hour service on some lines. At the same time, we learn that the planned removal of staff from tube ticket offices will cost an estimated £134m! I confess to being concerned about the reduction in staffing at stations, for although it is true that the Oyster system reduces the demand for the counter service, inner London stations seem to have a constant demand for more complicated enquiries. Additionally, whilst I find travelling on the tube to be very safe, I am not alone in feeling more comfortable when stations are well-attended, especially at night. As I write, a report has come in of a tube worker being stabbed in the face at Lancaster Gate tube station, and this is a reminder of both the risks staff take and the risks (albeit rare) of stations not having adequate cover.

Queensway the first station to lose its ticket office staff in this round of closures

Queensway was chosen to be one of the two first tube stations to lose their ticket office staff at the beginning of February – part of the rolling process by which all underground station ticket offices will close. The Mayor expects to make long-term savings, although the loss of 897 staff and their replacement by more ticket machines will initially cost an additional £134 million!

Basements

The process of tightening up on planning guidance is still underway, with Kensington and Chelsea being in the front line of Councils adopting new rules (K&C councillors voted on these in mid-January). Whilst Westminster has interim guidance in place, this does not yet permit them to act to restrict the size or depth of new basement constructions, and this may still take many months to come into effect. There is some concern that the response to last year’s consultation remains unpublished, and I know constituents are still very anxious to see tougher restrictions coming in as soon as possible.

Children’s Centres

The Council is in the middle of a further round of cuts to the Children’s Services budgets, equivalent to a quarter of the entire Children’s Centre spend- or £500,000. Specifically, this means ALL £80,500 funding will go from the Queensway (Hallfield and Bayswater) Family Centre. In total, Westminster is planning £3.3 million of savings from the Children’s services in 2015/16, and needs to meet an estimated shortfall of 195 nursery places for 2 year olds.

Affordable housing

The government have changed the rules applying to development, so as to exempt ‘vacant buildings’ from the requirement to make a contribution to affordable housing. John Walker, the Council’s new Director of Planning, has described this as ‘insane’ , saying that Westminster alone could lose up to £1 billion. This will only intensify London’s housing crisis, and add to the costs of both homelessness and the housing benefit bill. Mark Field and I have made a joint representation to the Minister, urging him to think again.

Impact of short/holiday lets

I was grateful to all those Lancaster Gate and Bayswater residents who responded to my survey about the impact of the growing ‘short-term let’ industry on residential communities. Drawing from their comments – which were overwhelmingly negative – I initiated a debate in Parliament in order to try and convince the Government not to go ahead with further loosening of the rules. In addition to all the concerns about the consequences for residents – such as increased levels of noise nuisance, rubbish, minor damage and greater insecurity – I raised the fact that in Westminster some 3000 properties have already been turned over to the hospitality industry, reducing the number of homes available for people who actually need somewhere to live. With visitor numbers to London continuing to soar, and owners able to charge far more for short-lets than ordinary rentals, there is a real danger that parts of Central London will be under increasing pressure and lose their character as places where people actually live.

St Mary’s

Pressure has been building on the London NHS in recent weeks, and our local hospital St Mary’s, was heavily criticised by the Care Quality Commission in their inspection report at Christmas. Overall, the Imperial Trust was found to ‘require improvement’, but the Accident and Emergency service at St Mary’s was found to be inadequate, as was the Outpatients service. St Mary’s has also fallen below required performance standards for Accident and Emergency, and senior managers tell me that at any one time, they have the equivalent of a ward of patients they cannot discharge home because there is not enough support for them in the community. Speaking in Parliament on this issue last month, I asked the Secretary of State why the Government has been closing Accident and Emergency units (such as Hammersmith and Central Middlesex, which closed last autumn) in the middle of an A&E crisis.

Part of the reason hospitals are under such pressure is the difficulty some people are having accessing GP and community cased services. I am always interested in hearing people’s experiences, so do please let me know if this is something you have had particularly good or bad experiences with.

The urgent need to boost investment in the NHS is the reason we are seeking to raise an additional contribution from owners of properties worth £2million and above. We have said that this will be £250 a month for those properties worth between £2 and £3million, with additional bands above that level, and the option of deferring payment until the property is sold for anyone who is not a higher-rate tax payer. Westminster Conservatives have now come out in favour or a total re-banding of Council Tax with new, additional ‘mansion’ bands, so we are no disagreeing on the principle that the owners of the most valuable properties should be asked for an extra contribution – even if we differ about the precise mechanism.

Cycling ‘super-highway’ gets go-ahead

In a growing city with limited road capacity, we should broadly welcome measures that boost cycling. The proposed new ‘super-highway’ does impact on Lancaster Gate, of course, and it is important that the revised plans facilitate cycling whilst also protecting the interests of residents, pedestrians, public transport and traffic flow. TfL are putting forward new plans around Lancaster Gate gyratory, having amended the earlier proposals (except making Bayswater Road two-way by the station). The original proposals are not changed in Westbourne Terrace but they will be influenced by the decision over the Westway, and are anyway dependent on the completion of Crossrail works, so won’t be implemented until at least late 2018 / early 2019 when Eastbourne Terrace reopens for general traffic. We await dates for another round of public consultations and meetings in early 2015, which will also include for the first time proposals for Hyde Park (though not yet for the Westway) and down to Westbourne Terrace/Cleveland Terrace.

Hallfield estate

Residents are (once again!) looking at options for new windows, so the remaining window replacements can go ahead. Whilst it is essential to get the decisions right – in terms of design and value for money, and given the issues around project management in the past– it seems absurd that this Major Works programme is now into its sixth year- leaving lots of residents suffering from the cold and high heating bills in the meantime.

SEBRA’s AGM

It was good to join SEBRA again for the Annual General Meeting in November, where topics ranged from cycling to the policing of the Royal Parks and the future of both Queensway and Westbourne Grove. Despite all the pressures I have described above, there are still plenty of people with a lively interest in their community, and long may this continue.

Please do carry on raising your questions and concerns

Karen Buck MP

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – February 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

Botts Mews

We have supported local residents who took the initiative to carry out their own traffic study/count in order to gather factual information for the planners about the traffic flow along the southern end of Chepstow Road near the Artesian/Botts/Bridstow intersections. Residents monitored the traffic flow on Wednesday 21st January.

Burglaries Update

The Council and Police tell us;

“We are developing a comprehensive action plan to drive down burglary further. The action plan will cover a range of policing and partnership activity. To start with, we will need to focus our available resources on the highest volume areas for best chance of success, particularly in terms of apprehending suspects and designing out crime. That said, there will of course be wider activity across the area, including predictive patrolling and joint operations with neighbouring boroughs.”

We also received these comments from residents in Talbot Road and Durham Terrace:

“You can also add mine at Talbot Road, followed by 2 other flats in my block of 5 flats 3 weeks later, in addition to two others in Talbot Road, before and after ours. A guy from the council told me that our area seems to be a hot spot at the moment, I’ve seen no evidence of increased police in this area.”

“I live in Durham Terrace and we had an attempted break-in in the summer. They were unable to get through the front door, but it was badly damaged. More recently, between Christmas and the New Year our building was broken into (front door possibly not properly shut) and they broke into one flat and damaged the doors of two other flats. In the 20 years I have lived on this street, this is the first time this has happened. I agree there should be more police presence and possibly CCTV.”

Talbot Road

We have reported this matter to the Council;

“A silver Peugeot 205 Registration has been illegally parked outside 39 Talbot Road since the beginning of December 2014. It is covered in parking tickets. This car is obviously abandoned with splayed front wheels some two & a half feet away from the kerb. It is in a residential parking place and urgently needs to be removed. Please can you advise what action needs to be taken. I live in Moorhouse Road and pass this vehicle every day.”

We have reported the car to both the local warden and the Westminster Road team and was pleased to receive this update:

“Thank you for successfully removing the vehicle on Saturday”

Prince Bonaparte, Talbot Road

We have been supporting residents who are very concerned about the unauthorised extractor. Residents say:

“The new manager from the pub built, without authorisation, about one year ago a new extractor which is huge and very shiny. It doesn’t fit at all with the conservation area. We have a direct view on the chimney from our windows, we think that this new chimney is very detrimental to the neighbourhood. Moreover, the new extractor is very noisy and emits additional smells which are very damaging to those living even closer to the pub. The Pub had 6 months to appeal the decision but I haven’t heard from Westminster Council since. It seems they gave them a “temporary” authorisation” to go through the Christmas period and I fear that this temporary authorisation might become de facto definitive.”

Following strong representations from residents the planning application has now been withdrawn and hopefully the pub will come back with more appropriate proposals.

Gloucester Terrace

Karen Buck MP has received a number of responses highlighting concerns with repairs, maintenance charges, ASB and other issues in the Gloucester Terrace area. She is putting residents’ concerns to CityWest Homes’ and will update constituents when she receives CityWest Homes response. If you are a resident of Gloucester Terrace and would like to tell Karen Buck MP of your experience, please feel free to contact her at buckk@parliament.uk

Royal Oak Station

Transport for London has told us:

“The staircase between the ticket hall and the platforms at Royal Oak Underground station (on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines) will be replaced between 4 April and 3 May 2015. It will be necessary to close the station during this period. The existing staircase is in poor condition. It requires complete replacement, as maintenance and partial repairs are no longer sufficient to prolong its use. Because it is the only access between the ticket hall and platforms, it is necessary to close the station fully during the work. Use of a temporary staircase was considered, but there is no safe location for one to be installed.

Nearer the time we will be advising customers about the closure and alternative travel arrangements through a full programme of communications including emails, Metro articles, posters and announcements in stations, and via social media updates. Bayswater, Warwick Avenue, Paddington and Westbourne Park stations are all within 15 minutes’ walk, and there are frequent buses between Royal Oak and Edgware Road or Paddington stations (via routes 18 or 36 respectively).”

Toilet at the corner of Queensway and Westbourne Grove

We have asked the Council to take urgent action to improve the cleanliness of these toilets after receiving this message:

“It’s really in a terrible state…..the cleaner is never in attendance…the smell is awful,, I am sure the people in the new block will be able to smell the urine etc etc…”

The Council say;

“Unfortunately, as this is an unmanned facility the site is cleaned once a day but there are no attendants on hand to ensure that the facility is kept as we would like it and it can be subjected to vandalism etc during the course of the day. Upon receipt of your message though, we have instructed the mobile team to provide a thorough deep clean and to ensure the removal of some graffiti that we have found on site. Also, the urinal flush system was not operational due to a fault with the battery, a replacement battery has been ordered and I am pleased to advise that this is being fitted today. Carlisle have recently appointed a new supervisor to our WCC contact and they have taken the necessary steps to speak to our staff, who when completing their weekly checks will include all batteries and flush systems as part of this process. We will continue to monitor this site and would hope that standards are immediately improved going forward.”

Cleveland Square

We have followed up an earlier report about the lack of pavers at the corner of Cleveland Square where it meets Chilworth Street and Devonshire Terrace. The Council tells us:

“With respect to Cleveland Square, I was informed last week that the conversion of mastic asphalt replacement to flagged paving will not be possible due to the number of shallow utility ducts and the presence of shallow cellars/vaults. Therefore, the City Council will replace the existing mastic asphalt with new mastic asphalt”

Whiteleys

The ‘Architects’ Journal’ reports that Foster & Partners has been appointed to redesign the grade II-listed Whiteleys shopping centre. The AJ says:

“The building was bought in 2013 by real estate investors Meyer Bergman for £115million. The ‘off market deal’ was backed by a private office of the Brunei royal family. It is understood the scheme is part of a wider £500million plan, also funded by money from Brunei, to transform Queensway into a ‘the Covent Garden of west London’. The proposals for the 1911 Whiteleys building aim to significantly revamp the centre. When it first opened, the building was shop was seen as ‘the height of luxury’ and included both a theatre and a rooftop golf-course.”

Christmas Tree recycling

We have asked the Council to improve the publicity for the Christmas Tree recycling sites next year so that residents know about the locations and so that there is no excuse for indiscriminate dumping which has happened this year in some parts of the area.

Online Advice Service

A new online service means people living in Westminster can now receive advice by email. Advice Westminster’s Online Advice Service allows residents to submit a query using a simple online form, which will be answered by email within five working days. Applicants will receive a one-off response from a trained adviser who, wherever possible, will provide advice or information, or give details of other organisations that may be able to help. Residents can ask for advice on a range of topics, including benefits and employment rights, as well as having access to health, debt and housing information. Get advice here.

Botts Mews – what you say

“We were particularly pleased with the outcome of the Botts Mews development being stalled and hopefully we can see a change to the basement laws to thwart their plans for a double basement once and for all. Please continue to fight our corner and keep us informed of any progress in the law.”

What you say

“Thanks! Excellent”

“Outstanding work”

“Thank you for your hard work and representation in many of these battles. It can’t be an easy task at times.”

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

BAYSWATER AND LANCASTER GATE ACTION REPORT – January 2015

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team

The Bayswater and Lancaster Gate Labour Action Team has been taking up issues on your behalf and standing up for local residents.

Westbourne Gardens

We are supporting residents in the Westbourne Gardens area who have called on the police and the Council to take action following a number of recent burglaries in the area. There have also been a number of burglaries in the Sunderland Terrace and Westbourne Park Villas area. Residents have called for CCTV in Westbourne Gardens. The Police say;

“Extra resources have been deployed to the W2 area and extra funding has been obtained to tackle the problem, allowing extra patrols and targeted work to be undertaken. Methods of entry are known, mainly kicking the doors in, and potential suspects are being targeted by the police utilising all tactics available to us.”

Queensway public toilets

We are making further enquiries about the dreadful state of the public toilets after receiving this information:

“I just got back from a walk in the park, and I visited the public toilets at Queensway to see if there had been any improvement. Sure enough, what used to be a free facility in a free public park now costs 50p, which is shocking enough. Really appalling. But what is far more appalling is the state of the (men’s) facility! When it was free it was usually quite clean. Now it stinks of high urine and faeces. It is a disgrace.”

Cleveland Square

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“For years now many of us have complained about the lack of pavers at the corner of Cleveland Square where it meets Chilworth Street and Devonshire Terrace. We were very hopefully when we saw indications of progress (construction equipment and pallets full of new pavers) a couple of weeks back. Unfortunately a couple of days ago everything disappeared including the pallets of new pavers. No work was done. Do you know what’s going on, or where we might raise this as an issue? This is the only part of Cleveland Square without pavers. “

Artesian Road

We have asked the Council to take action on this issue;

“I have a problem with a neighbouring bicycle parked permanently on the pavement in Artesian Road. Dirt is accumulating under the bicycle, and is obstructing pedestrians moving freely from both directions on the pavement. The worst time is when a mother with a child in a pram is passing, the other pedestrian coming from the opposite side has to go into the street to pass. “

We contacted the local warden and he has let us know that he will take a look at the situation and will arrange for it to be removed if he deems it to be obstructing the public highway.

Leinster Square

We have asked the Council to take action to deal with this continuing abuse:

“Once again, the developers of the buildings along the north side of Leinster Square are making use of parking spaces without seeking parking suspensions. In this case, ‘residents only’ spaces opposite the old Umi Hotel building have barriers across them with unofficial notices asking people not to park there. I assume this is so that lorries can be positioned under the conveyor belt removing waste from the subterranean excavations. Alchemi continue to prevent the use of more parking spaces than have been suspended. They are already getting away with not providing affordable housing or adequate compensation. How much more are they going to get away with?”

Northumberland Place

We will continue to support residents in Northumberland Place and elsewhere in their battles against the continual onslaught from basement proposals. Karen Buck MP is trying to get a change in the law to restrict the scale and nature of basements being proposed and we are supporting her efforts at Planning Committee meetings whenever the applications come up:

“I live on Northumberland Place, a small street in your constituency where there has been an increasingly alarming number of “sub-basement” projects. Not only are they extremely disruptive and distressing to neighbours (noise, street disruption by huge vehicles delivering supplies or removing debris, etc.) but they also have dangerous effects on the terrain and the houses – of which there are innumerable examples. Our street is extremely close to the Westbourne River and the water table is continually fluctuating. When the deep foundations necessitated by these projects are randomly imposed – at odd intervals – on the flexible terraces of houses, are they not going to inevitably have a de-stabilising effect over time? I realise that it is most unlikely – unless damaging evidence is collected in the future – that permission for the construction of these “sub-basements” will be withheld. However, I would very much like to urge those with a say in these matters to restrict the frequency/density of these disruptive works in a given radius – particularly when they occur simultaneously. – not just for the sanity of neighbours but also for the safety of the terrain!”

Inverness Terrace

Three applications to turn a hostel into 15 flats at 2, 4 and 6 Inverness Terrace W2 have been approved by the Planning Committee. Councillor David Boothroyd supported the proposal as the hostel was obviously causing a lot of problems for residents. He also welcomed the fact it was policy compliant in terms of affordable housing.

‘Community Champions’ – what do you think?

A resident has suggested that the Council invites residents to become ‘Community Champions’ to help improve the local environment. He says:

“I was thinking a little like neighbourhood watch, but focusing on the local environment, and supported by the Council. People could be invited to take responsibility for an area.

I see them as taking an active interest in their local area, report issues or problems as they arise and providing a point of contact for local residents, and in certain circumstances perhaps local services such as police and health agencies, say in disseminating information about activities or issues.

A simple example for me is with our local rubbish and recycling bins; I’m very happy to put any offending materials that are dumped on the streets into them, but more often than not they are locked and so I am unable to do so. Simply having a key that would allow me to do so would allow me to do that, and thus to help with keeping my locale that little bit tidier and cleaner.

I think giving people the power to make little changes like that would help improve Westminster as well as generate some degree of community engagement; it’s a similar scheme to the ones that many of the housing associations run, and it may well be that some of those operating in Westminster may be happy to support such an initiative”

What do you think? Would you be interested in being a ‘Community Champion’ for your area?

42 Westbourne Park Road – what you say

“I am shocked to hear about the dementia centre land being sold. Westminster should not be selling off land at all – and should do much more to create enough social housing for the people who live in Westminster.”

“Very sorry to hear that council land is to be sold to developers rather than supplying much needed social housing”

“I was very concerned when I read that Westminster council had decided to sell of the site in Westbourne Park Road and my understanding is that they did not have any public consultations. I have lived in Westminster for over 40 years in social housing – Hallfield and I have been very grateful for this. But over the years Westminster council seem to not want to build any more affordable housing stock for less well-off residents especially the younger generation. Which I feel is very sad and I am angry that land owned by Westminster – us the tax payers – is being sold off for profit and no doubt Westminster council will say it’s to benefit the residents. In my opinion good social affordable housing would benefit residents more and enrich our community.”

“Selling off the Dementia Centre land instead of building affordable housing there is a scandal. But it fits with the rest of the Tory ‘plans’ for Westminster: their idea of planning seems to be dictated entirely by market forces. Market forces are exactly what planning is supposed to temper and check and resist. Neighbourhoods that become all one thing -for instance, street after street of empty houses flats owned by absentee landlords who buy them as places to park their money from the former Soviet Union or elsewhere in the world, or even houses and flats inhabited by banker and nothing but bankers- quickly die. They become mere addresses, not neighbourhoods. The cultural strength of London has always been highest in its most mixed neighbourhoods, with people from all walks and many backgrounds. The current drive to monetize London property to an absurd degree, to use it as an alternative world currency, is destroying our neighbourhoods fast, especially here in Westminster. Couple that with the drive to eliminate council housing, and then de-fund housing associations so that they must pander to the market to stay solvent, is destroying the very fabric of this great city. “

“This is quite a large site which would accommodate a few social housing units or a few luxury residences. If the social housing units are built, the Council retains the site: luxury housing the site will be sold forever. Social housing would seem to me to be preferable on every count.”

Botts Mews – what you say

“The proposed development at Botts Mews is an extreme example of a developer attempting to increase square footage to an absurd degree by use of double basements. And of course they don’t even intend to build the absurd project themselves, they just want to get the permission and then flip it, based entirely on the square footage figure. It is a request for planning that is all to do with the market bubble and nothing to do with building living space in which any human being will ever wish to inhabit.”

“Basement mania must also be kept under control – this has caused endless noise, mess and general disruption for neighbouring houses. “

Planning Applications Committee meetings – what you say

“I wish to support a move to persuade Westminster City Council to allow the public to express their views at Planning Application Meetings. As things stand the Council members are largely reliant on the Planning Officer`s summary of the objections to an application and on his or her recommendation on that application. Having attended such a meeting recently I felt it would have been more democratic if interested parties had been given the opportunity to speak. Why not?”

What you say

“Thanks for your hard work”

“Thank you for these newsletters and for your dedication. It is so good to be listened to! A grateful Bayswater resident.”

“Good to hear at least someone is voicing concerns about the lack of social and affordable housing in the area. It is already less diverse than it was when i started renting ten years ago much to the detriment of the area.”

“Thank you for your pithy and informative updates. I always read them, and read them through to the bottom. They are my best source for knowing what is really happening in my local government.”

“Thank you for your support over Botts Mews”

“I really have a lot of respect for your concern for our local people, and by putting a lot of effort into your Action Reports, to make Bayswater a better place to live!”

Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Action Report – November 2014

Botts Mews

A decision on this controversial planning application was deferred at the Planning Committee on 26th November. The Construction Management Plan (CMP) proposed by the developers was rejected and they will now have to submit a new plan. In addition, the Planning Committee will visit the site to see for themselves the problems that will be caused.

Councillor Barbara Grahame, the only Labour Councillor on the Committee, expressed her support for residents’ concerns about the impact on the community, and she will continue to do so as a Planning Committee member until a new satisfactory solution is offered by the developers.

42 Westbourne Park Road

Last year Westminster Council spent £40m of tax payers’ money on housing Westminster residents in expensive temporary accommodation and hotels due to the acute shortage of social housing. Yet, Westminster Council now plans to sell the land next to the Dementia Centre site at 42 Westbourne Park Rd, rather than building much-needed social housing. There was no public consultation on this.

Councillor Guthrie McKie said;

“Selling this land will not reduce the Council’s £40m temporary accommodation bill or help local residents in anyway. We want genuinely mixed communities in Bayswater and Lancaster Gate. We also believe in saving money for tax-payers. We believe selling council land to speculative investors is wrong.”

Let us know what you think

13-19 Leinster Square

Labour Councillor David Boothroyd was the only Councillor on the Planning Committee to vote against a 15-flat scheme at 13-19 Leinster Square W2. Councillor Boothroyd said he was not convinced the scheme responded to the council’s policy of maximising the number of units. The proposal was for the excavation of a basement, three-storey rear extension and terraces, alterations to the roof and façade and the conversion of the hotel to 15 flats. He said:

‘My real objection to this is the housing aspect. I am not convinced this scheme responds to our policy to maximise the number of units. Very large units are proposed particularly on the lower floors. We have a policy that says we must maximise the number of units. The affordable housing contribution, I don’t always insist on formula but when it’s so far off formula something has gone wrong. I would have to vote for refusal on insufficient number of units and insufficient affordable housing contribution.’

Time to lift the Planning gag

With the current onslaught of development facing the area we believe it is critical that the community can voice its concerns directly at every level of the decision making process. Unlike most UK planning authorities, Westminster Council does not allow its residents to speak at planning committee, thus depriving council tax payers of their right to exercise free speech.

Labour Councillor Ruth Bush said;

“We will continue to challenge the Council’s refusal to allow residents to have their voice at Planning Committee meetings. It is time to change this undemocratic and archaic practice.”

What do you think?

Chepstow Road/Talbot Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

“I would be interested if there are any records of how often this piece of road is dug up? – seems like every 3-4 weeks (possibly more) this crossroads is having works, gas, water….you name it. Today it’s Virgin Media’s turn – starting at 9.30am. I know ‘building work’ is banned in Westminster on Sundays and is ’emergency only’. Does the same apply to digging up the road – not sure how much of an emergency it is to get cable television?”

Queensway public toilets

We asked a question at the last Council meeting after receiving this information:

“I made a complaint to Westminster about the state of the loos near Queensway in Kensington Gardens. All of the loos were stopped up and in a disgusting state. And they charged 50p for this!! I made a complaint to Westminster and they told me Carlisle only had a number to call so I called the number they gave me, which didn’t work. I asked them again, and they gave me a different number, which also didn’t work! I presume these are the same numbers in the loos themselves – to call in case of a problem. Finally Westminster said they would contact Carlisle on my behalf, to pass on my complaint. I never heard from them after this. It sounds like Carlisle, as well as overcharging for their loos, is completely inept, both in taking care of said loos, but also in any form of customer contact. Westminster really should use a different provider, and also ideally change the price – as 50p is too much – for this you would expect a very posh and extremely clean loo!”

Hallfield Major Works Update

Karen Buck MP has written to residents to update them on the latest Major Works news. Karen says:

“Many Hallfield residents have been in touch about the on-going confusion and uncertainty over the Major Works.

I fear this uncertainty has not been helped by some Westminster councillors stating that the works have been ‘halted for re-focusing’.

This is NOT the case. Although the timetable has slipped again, City West Homes have told me:

“The plans for major works at Hallfield are progressing and have not been halted

It is imperative that we evaluate and learn from the previous phases at Hallfield to ensure the successful delivery of future works. We have agreed the elements that we plan to include in future contracts and our proposed procurement. We are committed to balloting residents on the replacement bathroom and kitchen windows. Sample windows are due to be fitted later this month, with some final modifications made mid-December. All residents will be invited to view the windows and feed back their comments early January 2015. At the same time, residents will also see the proposed new entrance doors (tenants) and French windows (for smaller blocks)

The majority of defects within the first phase of works have been addressed. The remaining items including asphalt walkways to Reading House, new lighting and tenant front doors will progress subject to further consultation with the residents and procurement. We are considering a separate procurement for the front doors, which are not subject to a section 20 process, in order to progress more quickly than other elements of major works

We have begun the formal due diligence and Westminster approval processes for the new proposals. However, procurement of future phases cannot progress until planning permission is secured for the new windows and the ballot needs to precede any planning application

We want to ensure residents are fully briefed on our plans so we will be including an update in the local newsletter this month and will be sending out a Hallfield major works FAQ sheet. We will also be holding a drop-in session in December to talk through with residents the scopes of work and likely timescales.”

I am very anxious that the rest of the Major Works are completed speedily, efficiently and at good value for money. The project has now been underway for 6 years and has been had met problem after problem. Delays and poor management have left many residents in homes plagued with damp and condensation, and leaseholders unsure of the scale of their bills. Lessons have to be learned- but this must not now drag on through winter after winter.

Although I was pleased to help get the £50 compensation for residents in blocks stuck with scaffolding for over a year, this is not enough to offset all the problems people have faced.

Please do continue to let me have your feedback.

Yours sincerely

Karen Buck MP

Hallfield Estate Major Works – the continuing story….

Hallfield

Karen Buck MP reports;

“The Major Works programme, which included window replacements for kitchens and bathrooms, has now been running for half a decade! Residents will soon be balloted (again) on options and hopefully this time around the process will run more smoothly than previously. Obviously everyone wants to ensure quality and value for money, but it is hard to see how the stops and starts of recent years have been efficient, even before we get into the poor performance of first contractors. In the meantime, many flats have been plagued for years by cold and condensation, adding to already high heating costs.

The departure of the latest Chief Executive of CityWest Homes after only a year doesn’t add to anyone’s confidence. There are good and dedicated staff trying their best, but the organisation needs effective management from the top.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards Action Report – September 2014

Royal Oak Station

We are making enquiries with TfL after receiving this enquiry;

“What are the future plans for this station As an older person I find the steep steps very difficult, especially carrying a case”

Leinster Square

We have asked for this issue to be investigated;

“For several days in the last week it has been impossible to use a large proportion of the parking bays that aren’t covered by the current suspension. If I were to park my car in any of several bays that are not covered, I fear it would be damaged by the numerous heavy lorries visiting the site, and the work on-site would certainly be constrained. At this very moment my car has barriers around it whilst a mobile crane carries out deliveries, effectively blocking the road (without any prior notice) and preventing me leaving”

Westbourne Park Road

We have reported this issue to the Council for investigation;

“DHL vans seem to have started using this street as a convenient point to stop and exchange packages; today at about 2.15 there were five vans parked on yellow lines on both sides of the road outside and opposite the flats (Clifford Court and Elsie Lane Court) while their drivers were using hand carts etc. to move boxes between the vans. This seems to happen quite often. It isn’t a major nuisance, but I thought it was worth bringing to your attention, if only because they occasionally obstruct the pavement.”

Notting Hill Carnival

We have asked the Council what can be done about this issue:

“Last year was the first year in which my property was paint-balled in red. I had to spend at least 3 hours scrubbing it away, luckily it was water-soluble but it was still hard work. This year, we had purple blotches on our stucco and, out of principle, I have asked the council to clean it up. It’s enough already, that I have to clean up the food waste the vomit and the excrement (each night) so I refuse to clean the paint off and I have demanded that the council clean it up instead. Simultaneously, I don’t see why the council should have to do this at the expense of the tax-payer. As I understand it, the Notting Hill Carnival is now run by a private company; shouldn’t they have to take responsibility while raking in huge amounts of money at the residents’ expense and distress? The real joy of the carnival seems to have disappeared, to make way for the barbarians. It is very sad and disturbing and I am sure that the originators of the carnival would not have wanted it to develop like this.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards Action Report – August 2014

Leinster Square

Following our enquiries on behalf of a resident who was concerned about construction lorries parked on residents’ parking bays, the Council has made investigations and told us the following;

“The parking bays in question have now been suspended for traffic flow and a total of £20,580 was invoiced and is now awaiting payment that will be added to the “unauthorised” account.”

Eastbourne Terrace

We are making enquiries with Transport for London about this continuing problem;

“Eastbourne Terrace is now closed again resulting in all the same problems that TfL couldn’t be bothered to do anything about last time including no bus stop between Paddington Station (Circle Line entrance) and the Gloucester Terrace stop in Bishops Bridge Road. Why can’t the two permanent but disused bus stops on the west side of Westbourne Terrace be used? Buses are again held up because vehicles travelling north along Westbourne Terrace waiting to turn right into Bishops Bridge Road block the left hand turn into Bishops Bridge Road that the 7, 23, 27 and 36 buses make”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards Action Report – June 2014

Northumberland Place

We are continuing our efforts to help residents of Northumberland Place (and elsewhere) who are plagued by basement extension works;

“We are extremely concerned by this uncontrolled proliferation of very disruptive and potentially dangerous, destabilising excavations and constructions – from which we have already learned some hard lessons! There are presently two such projects at our end of the street and there will soon be two more – four in all!”

“Is there anything at all that can be practically done to put a halt to the extraordinary amount of construction work that is happening in what used to be a happy and relatively quiet residential street, not to mention a lovely community? Those of us who have lived here for years feel that we are being hounded out by people who look upon these houses as investments rather than homes and are seeking to maximise their potential for monetary gain, as much as anything else. Nowhere is it valid to contest these applications on their impact upon everyday life. There are at least three more of these basements planned for further up the street, one of them next door to us, another opposite and another a little further along. As we work from home a lot of the time our lives are almost made unbearable, as it is impossible to concentrate. The dirt is constant and the noise ear shattering at times and it just goes on and on. We have discussed moving and, indeed, a few of our neighbours are in the process of doing so or have already done so because of this. I am at an age where moving seems like an enormous step, especially since we have been here for so many years and used to love it so much. Also, I rather resent the idea of being hounded out.”

The Council has told us;

“We have introduced construction management plans for those schemes where our consent is required to ease the pain and a new policy is being consulted on where basement extensions might be limited to one storey. We also restrict the hours of noisy works and in recent years have restricted the works to exclude Saturdays. What we can’t do is stop them from taking place under current planning laws.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Labour Action Report – May 2014

Election leaflets

You can read about the Bayswater and Lancaster Gate election candidates here Lancaster Gate leafletBayswater leaflet

Labour calls for improvements to Royal Oak Underground Station

Murad Qureshi, Labour Member of the London Assembly, has called for improvements to Royal Oak Underground Station.

Royal Oak

In a letter to Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground, Murad Qureshi said;

“I recently travelled through Royal Oak underground station, and noticed that the stairs leading down to the platform looked to be in very poor condition with torn and filthy surfaces. I watched a mother trying to drag her pram up the stairs and the condition of the steps made this an even more difficult task. My concern is that these steps in their current condition present a real health and safety threat to commuters and therefore should be assessed and improved at the earliest opportunity. Can you please confirm the last time these stairs were maintained and when the next programme of repairs is planned in the future?

The ideal of course would be for a lift facility to be provided up to the Bridge from the platform not only for parents with prams, but also for the disabled and those with heavy luggage and shopping. Has there been any feasibility study for the provision of a lift and if not why?”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Action Report – April 2014

Westbourne Grove

We have reported this matter to the Council for investigation;

“I wanted to bring to the Council’s attention a concern for animal welfare at the Off License known as Caspian at 67 Westbourne Grove. Over the last 2 weeks, the store has displayed at least 2 caged birds on the outside of the store. These small birds are being kept in tiny cages. Each time I have walked by these caged birds, they are clearly in distress and seeking a way out of their cages. They jump aimlessly and frenetically around their cages while make excruciating noises. I can no longer support a business that would treat animals in this manner, especially when those animals clearly suffer in their captivity. I urge you to investigate the business for the appropriate licenses and mandate that they treat these creatures – which should be flying freely – in a respectful manner.”

The Council has told us;

“I will ask an inspector to visit to ascertain if these are for sale and therefore the premises might need a pet shop licence and the animal welfare provisions that go with this. If not licensable we will liaise with RSPCA”

Gloucester Terrace

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

“Please can you ask the council to change the road signs so that the upper part of Gloucester terrace is less of a main route to the A40? The section of Gloucester Terrace north of Bishops Bridge Road is a residential street with houses both sides very close to the road. There is a narrow pavement and no front garden to set us back from the noise and pollution. Additionally there is a nursery on the street so there are a lot of very young, slow moving children who have to cross the road as they go to and from the park.”

St Petersburgh Place

We have again asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There is still dumping in the large cubby holes at the backs of the houses on Orme Square. I did hope that the council would make the residents of Orme Sq put doors with locks upon their waste cubby holes, or any other manoeuvre that would stop the rubbish building up in them. We now have a smart hotel opposite, and people sitting outside, to be faced with garbage”

Leinster Square

We are making enquiries with the Council after receiving the following concerns;

“I write with regard to the ongoing anti-social behaviour and criminal incidents that residents of Leinster Square face living alongside the Look Ahead Hostel. As a local councillor we hope you will be able to act to help us work with the Look Ahead organisation towards a long-term solution to the frequent problems we face. We want action to restore a situation where we can live side by side the hostel – with respect, without fear.”

Artesian/Chepstow Roads

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There is still a problem here with the bins on the corner of Artesain and Chepstow. Speaking with the caretaker of the adjacent block of flats, it is his view that the major problem is that the recycling bin (as opposed to the general rubbish bin) is only emptied once a week. As more and more people recycle the bin needs emptying far more often to prevent so much recycling material adorning the pavement. Is there a way we could get the recycling bin emptied more often?”

Talbot Road

We have made enquiries about this issue;

“I would love for the council not to replace the big black bins directly outside my bedroom window on a Saturday, usually at 7.00am. It usually takes about 10 minutes of noisy clanking around. The normal emptying of the bins is bad enough to put up with. We have them emptied every day, including Saturdays and Sundays and usually around 7.15am so I never get a lay in (hardly a 3rd world issue but irritating to me as a resident who pays for the council and works hard all week)”

The Council has responded as follows;

“I have asked Veolia to look at rescheduling the collection vehicle so that this particular bin is emptied later on the vehicle route at weekends. This does of course run the risk that other residents may complain if their collection time now comes earlier but hopefully this will not be an issue. I’m sure you will appreciate that these bins are very well used necessitating an intensive collection schedule.”

Notting Hill Carnival – what you say

“Keep carnival in my view, but also wonder if the early build up is necessary on the pavements”

“I live on the route and it is misery. What is objectionable is the level of noise from the enormous speakers with a couple of bored-looking people sitting along-side them; there is no vibrancy (though much vibration) engendered by these, their only purpose seems to be for advertising and NOISE. The live music is fantastic and enthusiastic- that is what the carnival should be about. I love the steel-bands and the drummers.

I can’t go away to escape it: I am forced to stay home for the sake of security, to clean my front garden at the end of each day (including washing away urine and faeces from my basement entrance) and to be here for my terrified cats. Many of us feel imprisoned and under siege. It can be very nerve-racking and I usually crave my own holiday-break as a result! Could the route not be varied on alternate years? There are viable alternatives, though I don’t think that the use of the park would be a good idea. Perhaps the carnival could be held every two years?

Please dis-allow the confetti machines, which seem to have started in the last couple of years; the confetti is impossible to clean up and sticks around for weeks afterwards. Though I may sound like a grump, I am not; when it is good, it is highly enjoyable and I do like to watch people having fun.”

“I have experienced the carnival since it began. Then it was much smaller and a really local event. This made it enjoyable for locals. No boarding up, no shops closed and I don’t remember buses being diverted. Now though it does seem at times as though it sometimes gets out of control. Noise levels from the travelling sound systems are horrendous. Like a childish game of “my systems louder than yours”. My whole flat vibrates, not just the windows. It is outrageous to be told that if we don’t like it we should go away for the weekend. For locals the carnival lasts much longer than a weekend. Boarding up for weeks before the event and taking it down, the clean up and removing the metal crush barriers taking weeks afterwards.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Action Report – March 2014

Chepstow Road

We have asked the Council and TfL to consider this request;

“The Westbourne Neighbourhood Association, shortly to become the Notting Hill East Neighbourhood Forum, is concerned about the continual problems of noise and vibration in Chepstow Road and is unconvinced that the road surface has for many years had a road surface appropriate to the volume of use. We believed it is under engineered partly to save money and partly to ensure future work for what seems to be a monopoly supplier. We also would like to study the extent to which the junction of Chepstow Road with Westbourne Grove might be improved as part of a scheme to make that whole 5 ways junction better suited to all users by having a study of the alternative road, cycle and pedestrian layouts there. I understand that TFL have funds available. We also believe that as Chepstow Road has so many bus routes and has many grade 2 listed buildings has high levels of atmospheric pollution it should have high priority for green buses.”

Vere Court, Westbourne Gardens

We have asked the Council to investigate the illegal use of flats as short-term holiday lets after receiving a message from residents that Vere Court “routinely has non-English speaking persons with large airline tagged suitcases struggling up the stairs. There’s no way that these are all people “returning home”.”

Entrance to Paddington Station from the canal – what you say

“There are now steps from the road near the bus stop which go down to join the canal side close to the station entrance (in the newly finished little plaza) near the Hammersmith and City station. This is safer than walking down the taxi ramp but no lift there for people with walking difficulties.”

“I would like to add to the resident who praised the new entrance to Paddington station along the canal which is well designed and very appealing. I now stroll along there most weekends. It indeed has delightful, quirky boats selling unusual things. I was one of many residents who fought to keep the Basin itself serene and uncommercial but it is lovely to have a contrast a short walk away. It is also lovely that these boats are not allowed to stay there permanently so there is always something different going on. You never know what you are going to find.”

Notting Hill Carnival – what you say

“I totally and completely disagree with the comments about Notting Hill Carnival. We are lucky that something as vibrant, (which has developed spontaneously because thousands of people wanted it) should take place in our neighbourhood. It is only 1, possibly 2 days out of 365, after all – and during a holiday period. It is like objecting to Christmas because of the waste of wrapping paper. It misses the point. I love that it takes place and I love the buzz of excitement surrounding it. I would fight very hard for the right to keep it. And so would my children. Yes, it is dirty and noisy, and I no longer go every Bank Holiday Monday. But I can vote with my feet and take a weekend break if need be. I wouldn’t dream of taking away a million other people’s pleasure. Ghetto-izing it in Hyde Park would be a complete sell-out to the commercial faction and a denial of Carnival’s roots. It would wither and die”

“You know my feelings – a local who loved the carnival and who is now excluded by destructive levels of noise and the outsider take-over. But there’s an additional point – the area is blighted for several weeks beforehand by boardings up, installation of railings etc. And for a long while after – in February I’m still finding broken carnival glass around the streets. If it’s a truth that something must grow, otherwise it dies, then it’s time for the carnival to move elsewhere. I think there should be a single parade on Bank Holiday Monday through Notting Hill from Hyde Park to Wormwood Scrubs where it camps for a further day.”

“What must be remembered about Carnival is that a lot of ‘local’ businesses, which provide services to ‘local’ people would lose a large amount of their annual turnover if Carnival is moved. It is tough enough as it is. So they would fold. So the ‘big boys’ would have an even larger share of local trade.”

“Although we agree that it is wrong the Carnival has such a detrimental effect on local homes that people have to evacuate during it, we absolutely disagree with any suggestions to further spoil Hyde Park (or Kensington Gardens) with the Carnival. It’s bad enough already with the loud concerts and other commercial activities which reduce park use as per the Royal Parks’ Constitution – which states they are for the “Quiet Enjoyment” of people. The main issue with the Carnival is to REDUCE NOISE LEVELS.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Action Report – February 2014

Porchester Road

We have reported this problem to the Council;

“Many of the roads where I’ve been walking lately Porchester Road by the zebra crossing after the Baptist church and before the library are flooding and pedestrians have to walk in the road again to keep dry! Hope you can get this added to list of works.”

Paddington Station

We have asked the Council to liaise with TfL and London Buses on this matter;

“Now that the pedestrian entrance to Paddington station from Eastbourne Terrace is no longer available there appears to be no safe pedestrian access to the station other than from Praed Street. That is extremely difficult for those travelling by bus via Bishop’s Bridge Road. Buses used to turn left into Eastbourne Terrace and stop just by the steps leading to the station before going into Praed Street; but now they stop in Bishops’ Bridge Road near the taxi entrance to the station and wait there until it is time, some 10-15 minutes later, to make the return journey and only then do they go to the Praed Street entrance of Paddington station. This gives pedestrians only two realistic options:

• Walk from the taxi entrance in Bishops’ Bridge Road, along Eastbourne Terrace and into Praed Street to reach the station – a reasonable stretch for those not fully mobile and/or with luggage and one which adds a good 10 minutes for the fully fit
• Walk down the taxi ramp which is much quicker and direct and leads straight to an escalator/lift to the platforms – but may not be the safest!

I have tried to speak to station officials but needless to say no-one knows whose responsibility this is. Could you help, please? It would be so good if occasionally building and road works actually took the needs of pedestrians and those traveling by public transport into account.”

Brunel Bridge

We asked the Council if they could answer this question;

“When Bishops Bridge Road bridge was renewed a few years ago they discovered the original Brunel cast-iron canal bridge underneath and it was dismantled with a view to reinstating it elsewhere locally. Can you tell me what happened and if there are any plans to rebuild it somewhere?”

The Council told us;

“The bridge was carefully dismantled and remains in store with English Heritage. We looked plans to relocate it in Paddington and prepared a draft Heritage Lottery bid, Subsequent changes to British Waterways and English Heritage funding led to that bid not being pursued and we continue to review options for relocating it as set out in our 2004 planning brief.”

Artesian/Chepstow Roads bins

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“The bins on the corner of Artesian and Chepstow are constantly being rummaged by vagrants especially at the weekend. The Bayswater street warden is aware of the problem. I think the location of these bins is too exposed but I am not sure where they should go.”

Chepstow Road

We have reported the following problems to the Council;

“Unfortunately due to volume of traffic (esp heavy vehicles), pot holes and the “trenches” which were covered previously are now reappearing. Result is heavy vehicles are “bouncing” over the damages surface causing vibrations to properties and increase in noise especially early morning ie 5amish.”

Bridstow Place

We have reported the following problems to the Council;

“By my count in the past 60 days there have been two assaults in Bridstow Place (one of which occurred in broad daylight) and the Thai shop was broken into and robbed after hours). From what I understand having spoken to the police is that they do monitor 999 calls and crime incidents. The more people report these sorts of incidents, the more likely the council will consider installing CCTV (which should hopefully act as a deterrent).”

The Council say;

“The first thing I’ll do is ensure this is raised at the local problem solving meeting. I have just appointed a new Community Protection Officer for Bayswater who is an ex MPS Crime Prevention Design Advisor. I’d like him to go and look at the street and liaise with the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator and explore what might make the street less desirable for these types of activities. I’ll also ask him and the local SNT to look at recent incidents/crimes reported in the area. As I’m sure you are aware CCTV is an incredibly costly intervention that we can of course provide residents information on, but they will need to understand that any costs, maintenance and monitoring would need to be paid for. In most situations we would need to exhaust all other options with partners before looking into CCTV, which has estimated costs of £10,000 (for installation alone).”

Paddington Basin

We have asked the Canal and River Trust to investigate this lighting issue;

“I noticed that 70% of the lights along the canal tow path from Little Venice to Paddington Central have gone off and the bulbs haven’t been replaced. This is a busy route full of pedestrians and cyclists returning from work and who can hardly be seen in the evenings before they are on top of you.”

“On a positive note, the new canal tow path entrance to Paddington Station and the Hammersmith and City + Circle line is lovely, especially with the quirky floating bookshop with the three cats opposite the entrance that entertains passers-by with their music and wood smoke. Sometimes there are craft shop boats stopping by, too. It can be a bit ‘Camden-ish’ and weekends are now busier in the area in a good way. Thankfully it’s not too crowded still so it’s good for residents.”

Bayswater leaseholders voiced fears months before £10m Council contract for works on Grade II-listed estate fell through

The ‘West End Extra’ reports;

Hallfield

“WORRIED homeowners warned City Hall that refurbishment works on a historic estate were doomed two years before the £10million contract fell through earlier this month.

Works on the Grade II-listed Hallfield estate, Bayswater, were scrapped after a damning report was released claiming less than a quarter of the work was finished after 18 months.

This week it emerged that leaseholders on the estate, built in the 1950s, had petitioned the council before work began in 2012, warning that the project was rushed and poorly planned.

A letter seen by the West End Extra and signed by scores of residents in 2012, said: “We are a little puzzled, surprised and alarmed to see the speed at which [plans for] these works are progressing. We feel that these works are being carried out in more haste than is necessary.”

Nasser Abbasi, who lives in Tenby House, this week said: “It’s just been a farce. We didn’t want the work to be started because they didn’t have the planning permission and the windows weren’t right, but they still went ahead for the works. I don’t know who’s going to pay for this now.

“We tried to warn them that this was going to happen, but despite all that they were hell-bent on getting it started.”

This week City Hall apologised for the delay and said they are searching for a solution that includes “agreed designs for windows and doors”.

Residents have consistently complained that their homes had been turned into a building site, while little work seemed to be progressing. Works were overseen for the council by CityWest Homes and Mr Abbasi said: “It’s amazing, considering the amount of money that’s involved in this, that you can get this lack of management and mistakes. It’s so amateurish.”

A dark netting had been draped over scaffolding on several blocks, with residents claiming they were “left in total darkness for two summers”.

He said: “The scaffolds were up for two years. It was a building site for two years with no work going on. Even during the summer it was pitch black and we had to keep our lights on in the day. We’ve missed two summers because of this green netting they have. But the fact is it’s not finished yet. They still haven’t got the windows finished; the doors were supposed to have been done.”

He said: “Our lives have been disrupted. We have had to live on this building site with dust and darkness.

“There have been issues of burglaries and people climbing into people’s windows in the middle of the night. There was a lot of issues associated with the works. For months the scaffolding was up and nobody was doing any work. It’s a farce of the grandest proportions.”

Earlier this month Westminster and building firm Mulalley agreed a “mutual withdrawal” from the contract after an internal council report claimed progress was “exceedingly slow”.

A council spokesman said: “The council is committed to establishing the best solution for residents on the Hallfield estate. We apologise, this will take time, but we will be ensuring we find the most pragmatic way forward which includes agreed designs for windows and doors.”

Hallfield Estate repairs fiasco

Hallfield

The famous Hallfield Estate in Bayswater is at the centre of a major bust up between Westminster Council and the contractors, Mulalley’s. The estate is a highly regarded listed estate of 14 housing blocks built in the 1950s and designed by Lasdun and Drake. The Council has a history of neglect of this fine estate but in May 2012, the Council agreed a contract with Mulalley’s for the renovation of all the housing blocks.

Now a report to Councillors in December 2013 says;

“External repairs and window replacements have been underway on the Hallfield Estate since May 2012 but progress has been exceedingly slow. Whereas completion of works to all 14 blocks was originally expected to take 127 weeks, works are only partially complete to 3 blocks after 85 weeks. Residents have regularly complained about the quality of work.”

During 2012 and early in 2013 a number of problems began to appear:

• Listed building consent was refused for kitchen and bathroom windows
• Electrical conduits buried in cement were failing earthing tests
• New floors were short of specification
• Failure to commit to proper manning levels to fulfil tasks

All this has culminated with furious residents complaining that, yet again, the Council has failed to carry out repairs and maintenance at professional levels. The Council has now agreed a compromise agreement with Mulalley’s to end the contract. The Council report says;

“Of the options available to the City Council for completion of major works to Hallfield Estate an early mutual termination of the existing contract appears most favourable.”

Councillor Guthrie McKie, Labour spokesperson for Housing, says;

“What a shambles. How on earth could this happen with all the checks and balances that one would expect in a contract of this type. At the very start the Council should have appointed its own Manager to oversee the contract on a daily basis. The management and overseeing of the contract should have been given the highest priority so that problems could have been resolved as soon as they appeared. Hallfield residents are entitled to an explanation by the Council on why they allowed this contract to deteriorate to this level of incompetence.”

Hallfield Estate Update

Karen Buck MP has been lobbying for a swift resolution to the long-running dispute over major works on Hallfield.

“I am now asking for an award or compensation to be given to those residents who had to endure their homes being covered up by scaffolding and canvass for a year as the dispute rumbled on. Although we are all hopeful of a fresh start, the truth is that too many of these major works schemes have been a nightmare for leaseholders and tenants alike.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards Action Report – December 2013

Hallfield School – Parking

We made enquiries about this problem;

“I live on the corner of Porchester Terrace and Porchester Gardens, a staggered, narrow junction which is very busy and hard to negotiate by coaches servicing the local hotels and lorries making deliveries. Every day at dropping off and picking up times, parents of children at Hallfield school, park on double yellow lines around the junction, in residents bays, across drive ways, block pavement drop-downs and single yellow lines in order to deliver and collect their children. Despite there being as many as two wardens on duty, there is regularly chaos and a traffic jam. Not only is this noisy and polluting, it is also dangerous. On more than one occasion I have observed very young children running across the road to get to school, unable to see oncoming traffic because of the vehicles parked across the junction corners. The wardens who know the parents well, appear to have given up, and sit on a wall and watch the chaos”

The Council told us;

“We are aware of the issues around the school and have worked with them recently to produce a concession card. A newsletter has also gone out to all parents. We find that improvements of these types of compliance issue are not always immediate and engagement via the School has proved the most effective. We will assess further and continue to monitor, taking appropriate steps to alleviate the issues including asking the school to self-monitor the location.”

Crossrail and the impact on bus services in Paddington

We have received a number of concerns expressed about the impact of Crossrail on bus services in Paddington. For example;

“I feel I have to write to you again regarding the bus situation in Paddington. All in all, due to the Crossrail site it’s a nightmare for people that try to use the buses in Paddington to get to and from work and this is a regular thing nowadays. It is not fair to make people use the tube if they do not want to and also burdens the tube system even more in the rush hour with people that could otherwise use the buses, but it is being made impossible to use them in the area due to traffic delays, lack of bus stops, buses moving their starting/finishing point and completely thoughtless planning on how this affects real people’s lives. Please could this be looked into seriously as it will be ongoing for the next few years whilst the Crossrail project is going ahead.”

We have asked the Council if there is any indication of when bus services will be running to more consistent routes and timings. The Council says;

“We are discussing the return of buses to Eastbourne Terrace from February 2014 at the moment”

Westbourne Terrace/Hyde Park pedestrian crossings

We are making enquiries about the following matters;

“There is no pedestrian crossing, or safe lights phase to cross (even though there is an island for pedestrians to wait) when crossing Westbourne Terrace at the Cleveland Terrace crossroads. Once Paddington is re-open this again will become a very busy pedestrian crossing. Also, when walking from Paddington/St Marys to Hyde Park, a popular route is to walk along Brook Street and enter the Park from that crossroads, it is a very dangerous crossing, even though it is directly opposite a main entrance into the Park. And the final crossing, (which is actually in Kensington & Chelsea) but affects a lot of Westminster resident. We regularly walk up to the museums, crossing the park, and then walking along Exhibition Road. And also is used a lot coming from the Museums and back into the Park. But the main crossing (West Carriage Drive and Exhibition Road and Kensington High Street) has no pedestrian crossing. This crossing is especially popular for parents/carers with young children.”

Hyde Park cycle routes

We made enquiries with the Royal Parks after receiving this question;

“I thought that I could take my children cycling to the park easily but I have come to realise that there is no proper cycling route in Hyde Park that covers the whole circle of the Park. You basically have to either go back to the road at some point which is quite dangerous for children with speedy cars on Bayswater Road or Kensington Road or dismount for hundreds of metres. For example, you can access Hyde Park from Broad Walk (near Queensway) but can only go south. The next access point for cyclists to the park from the North is very far away, it is through West carriage drive. It very impractical when you want to go for a ride; more so with young children. There are very wide alleys on the north side of the park, is there any way a white line mark done could put to have a small space for cyclists and families to ride on.”

The Royal Parks say;

“The Parks have a range of cycle routes which can easily be joined together to create circular routes within the parks. All the cycle routes are displayed on the notice boards and on the park leaflets for each park (also on the TRP website http://www.royalparks.org.uk). For children aged 10 and under we do allow cycling on other pedestrian paths, but this is really aimed at beginners and does not allow parents to ride alongside. I would encourage your correspondent to plan an imaginative route making use for example of Policeman’s path, Serpentine Road, Rotten Row and the path alongside West Carriage Drive. Equally there’s a good route using North Carriage Drive, The Broadwalk, Serpentine Road and West Carriage Drive.”

Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards Action Report – November 2013

Princes Square and Princes Mews

We are making enquiries about these issues;

“I am seeking some advice on action regarding the rear of Princes Square which backs onto Princes Mews. Each of the hotels has erected what look like totally illegal roof structures, (water tanks / plant or equipment shelters) which seem to mushroom on top of the roofs each day. Furthermore the decaying and paint peeling rear exteriors of the hotels are really a disgrace to what is supposed to be a conservation area. What bemuses me even more is the number of basement extensions which are being granted to the houses in Princes Mews. What was formerly a quiet mews is now becoming an overbuilt and cramped street, not unlike a tenement dwelling. The issue is that as each tiny mews house is enlarged, more noise is created by the new occupants: on a hot summer night the noise bounces off the stone of my building in Palace Court and the view is cluttered and ugly with each new extension taking up more light and blocking what were formerly open views.”

Gloucester Terrace

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“Please can we have speed bumps put on the upper crescent section of Gloucester Terrace that is used as a run up to the westbound Westway? There are barely visible signs on the road that say “SLOW” but these have no effect. In general there is a lot of support for a 20 MPH zone around here, but I think that speed bumps are a better way of self-regulating and the cost of putting up road signs is avoided. “

Notting Hill Carnival – what you say

“As residents we are having to expend more and more expense each year and are being put to greater inconvenience to protect our properties. The area was never intended to support the massive attendance at this event. The overcrowding makes it extremely difficult to police and every year there are instances of serious crime. The area looks like a war zone on the Monday evening and as council tax payers we are having to pay for the clean-up for an activity that few of us attend. As suggested by Livingstone when he was Mayor, it should be held in Wormwood Scrubs.”

“I agree about the carnival. It stops me from living in my own home every August Bank Holiday because I can’t get in and out of my home freely. It is no longer the simple expression of emancipation it once was which I would support. It’s time to stop it or move it to the park for the sake of residents. It’s done its time.”

“I have great difficulty relating those remarks to my personal experience. I am always amazed at how well the contractors clean up each evening, and then wash the streets, mind you I sometimes wonder whether W2 gets preferential treatment! The issue I had was that no one in our area received the Council information leaflet re access, road closures etc ”

Queensway – what you say

“I actually quite like it the way it is. It’s lively and vibrant, genuine in feel, just like ‘organically grown’ city space should be. We don’t need another “Covent Garden” just to increase yields per square meter for landlords in a thoroughly sterile and commodified environment!”

“It is sad that the different areas of London with their strong individuality is being lost to the uniform of gentrification. How much social housing is to be included? How high will the rents be on the shops? Will there be a mix of shops? Is there anything the council can do to make sure it will not just be another very expensive and soulless street selling cupcakes?”

“As a resident of Queensway for the past 13 years, I have always marvelled at the fact that nothing like this has happened before. The ground floor of the building across from mine, just steps away from Kensington Gardens, is a fertile place for cafes and boutiques. Instead, it is wall-to-wall with bohemian dives, bong shops, and tatty souvenir stores. In fact, I have watched as nearly every useful shop on Queensway has shut down, only to be replaced by yet ANOTHER souvenir store. We’ve lost a hair salon, a shoe repairman, a bookstore, a computer store, a chemist, a bakery, an appliance store and an ironmonger…. all of them replaced by tatty souvenir shops. To me, an ambitious redevelopment makes perfect sense, in a well-suited location.”

Basement Excavations

Westminster Council has now issued a revised policy for consultation, which you can see and comment on here:
http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/planning/planning-policy/basements-planning-policy/

Karen Buck MP has introduced her own bill into Parliament seeking to give greater legal protection to Councils that choose to toughen their policies, but risk appeals by well-funded developers.

Karen Buck MP’s article for SEBRA newsletter

Karen Buck

It has been another busy summer, with e-mails coming in at the rate of 200+ a day, and on every subject under the sun. I was not entirely surprised to discover that Westminster North is one of the largest constituencies in the country by residential population (130,000) but it helps explain the workload! However, I am certainly not complaining, as it is this communication that helps keep me informed about what is going on and what constituents think. Here are some of the local matters that have been occupying me so far in 2013.

Policing Westminster:

Station closures and changes to Safer Neighbourhood Teams

We seem to have reached the point when many of the cost pressures and rising demands on services are being felt. In the last few months, three police stations have closed in and on the edge of North Westminster ( Harrow Road, Queen’s Park and St John’s Wood), meaning there will shortly be no police station between Edgware Road and Harlesden. At the same time, the Met’s ‘new policing model’ has come into effect. These changes meant the Safer Neighbourhood teams as we have come to know them over the last decade no longer exist, with the old ‘ward’ based teams reduced and organised into larger ‘clusters’, with back up from a pool of officers and PCSOs. Unfortunately, there are real concerns that the core teams may not be getting the additional support they need, with officers being taken off for other duties. Indeed, the Bayswater and Lancaster Gate police newsletter confirmed that “ Due to various operations, officers from the local safer neighbourhoods teams are regularly abstracted to assist with other duties within the MPS; these include local aid as necessary and frequent aid at ceremonial events”. Safer Neighbourhood Teams were set up precisely to avoid this situation, with the aim being that a team of police would stay in a local area, building up knowledge and contacts to help them respond to crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively. Westminster’s Safer Neighbourhood panel chairs have joined together to write to the Commander saying “ We are extremely concerned at the heavy workload placed on our (very small) teams and the extra responsibilities, administration and computer work imposed on them. We also feel from our experience that the inspectors are similarly overstretched. In our view, this imbalance needs to be looked at now.”

It may be that these are ‘teething problems’ (although the question of bases from which the police can operate locally remains) but as we have already lost 200 police in Westminster in the last three years these reports are worrying. Fortunately, the long term drop in crime continues, but even so, both robbery and burglary in the borough were significantly up year-on-year. Bayswater in particular is reported as having a 90% rise in residential burglaries between 2012 and 2013.

I have raised these issues with both the borough commander and the Met Commissioner and will continue to do so- but it would be helpful to get feedback from local residents and businesses as to their experience.

Basement excavations- a continuing nuisance

Approvals have now been given to no fewer than 555 basement excavations in Westminster in the last five years- including examples in Kildare Terrace and Westbourne Park- and only around 1 in 6 applications are refused. Obviously, basements can be a useful way of expanding a family home, and no-one is arguing that they should be prohibited, but many of these developments are now huge, sometimes multi-storey excavations, extending under most or all of the available garden space, with swimming pools, cinemas and other luxury facilities. Even this would not be an issue were it not for the impact- the noise, dirt and disruption- sometimes multiplied by more than one excavation in one street at any one time. I am told of cases where neighbours cannot contact the owners when problems arise- and of examples where, even after all this work, no one normally lives there afterwards!

I have been campaigning for greater protection for neighbours, and for the government to give local authorities more ability to refuse applications (although this goes against the present government’s relaxation of planning rules to encourage development). I will shortly introduce a ’10 Minute Rule’ Bill to Parliament to make the case again. Please continue to let me know your thoughts on the subject.

NHS re-organisation will change local services

Five of North West London’s Accident and Emergency units are set to close as health chiefs plan a massive re-organisation of the delivery of health care. This will leave St Mary’s as one of the most important emergency care centres in London. What was not made clear during the consultation on plans labelled ‘Shaping Healthier Futures’ was that this may mean a substantial shift of planned (non-emergency) care away from St Mary’s to Charing Cross, Hammersmith or even Central Middlesex hospitals. The Imperial Hospital group has faced huge financial pressures, and there are clinical arguments that greater specialism can improve patient care. However, I have been meeting with Imperial and the new ‘Clinical Commissioning Groups’, responsible for planning health care, to express alarm that these decisions are proceeding without proper consultation. There are huge unanswered questions about transport, accessibility and back-up care, especially for older and more vulnerable patients, if more and more of the services they routinely use move so far away.

£31 million lost as Westminster Council fails to get affordable housing from developers

As London’s affordable housing crisis deepens, Westminster Council has let developers build new luxury homes across the borough, including 138-142 Queensway and the former Tesco in Inverness Terrace, either without some affordable housing on-site, or without adequate financial contribution instead. As much as £31 million that could have gone on house-building has been lost by the Council as developers have been let off the hook and scarcely any affordable homes have been built in recent years. The consequences? Fewer shared ownership homes for young people trying to get on the housing ladder, higher homelessness costs and a gradual hollowing out of the community. With more than half of the high value home sales in central London going into foreign ownership (not itself significant, but with implications where owners leave their properties empty or simply add to the fast-churning private rented sector) there is a cost to everyone if affordable housing is allowed to slip.

Major Works problems still not resolved on Hallfield Estate

The very-long-running saga of Major Works on the Hallfield estate has continued throughout this year and into another autumn, with some residents in blocks forced to put up with scaffolding and sheeting over the windows for more than a year as disputes continue. I have been taking up specific issues on behalf of both tenants and leaseholders- with many tenants trapped in damp, cold homes, whilst lessees have serious concerns over the specifications and management of the programme. With council leaseholder issues continuing to be a major problem in several parts of the city, the Council must up its game. Major works programmes must provide value for money and have effective project management, which has not been the case on many estates, but no-one gains when schemes like that proposed for the Hallfield drag on over many years.

I was very sorry to miss this year’s summer party, but very much hope to join you for the Annual General Meeting, which is reliably lively, passionate and well informed about local issues. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me via buckk@parliament.uk or 0208 9687999.

Queensway to become the new Covent Garden?

Many of you will have seen the reports that Whitleys and other parts of Queensway have been bought by developers with a vision for “an ambitious £1 billion plan to turn Bayswater’s scruffy Queensway into a “Covent Garden of the West by 2020…with a shopping and eating out “village” modelled on London’s great family estates such as the Grosvenor in Mayfair and Belgravia”. Let us know what you think!

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/whiteleys-new-owners-reveal-1bn-masterplan-for-queensway-8819405.html

New pavements for Queensway are more important than new affordable homes in Tory Westminster

138 Queensway

Another decision by Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee has seen families in need of affordable housing robbed of help. The decision was on a site at 138-142 Queensway and an area to the rear which fronts on to Inverness Terrace; it was previously occupied by a Tesco superstore, but it is being redeveloped into flats. As part of the planning permission, Westminster Conservatives allowed nearly £500,000 to be spent on new pavements rather than on building new affordable homes.

Work has actually started to build the scheme, including five affordable homes on the site which were intended for Octavia Housing. However, DCD Properties asked Westminster Council to remove the affordable homes, submitting a secret viability report arguing they couldn’t afford to pay a penny to help provide affordable homes elsewhere. Council officers then examined DCD’s viability figures and found that they could afford to pay up to £1,070,788, to which DCD agreed.

Then, at the Planning Committee on 17th September, DCD proposed to divert a substantial part of the money, around £500,000, to pay for environmental improvements in Queensway. Westminster Council Planning Officers firmly told Councillors on the Planning Committee that ‘it would be inappropriate for any affordable housing contribution to be allocated in whole or in part towards the Queensway Streetscape Improvements’, but the three Conservative members led by Committee Chairman Robert Davis agreed to DCD’s proposal.

Local residents’ group, South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) made the following representations to the Council about the loss of Affordable Housing from the plans for this luxury development;

“We have constantly objected to the five ‘Affordable Housing’ units not being provided on site as was originally agreed with this development. We have had very little ‘Affordable Housing’ provided in Bayswater over past few years and recently no schemes at all have provided such housing so now there is the danger that the area will no longer be a ‘mixed community’ in years to come. We note that the applicant has requested that a substantial (around 45%) part of the money offered in lieu of ‘Affordable Housing on site be reallocated towards Queensway Streetscape Improvements. It is absolutely amazing and almost scandalous that the applicant should have the cheek to make such an offer. We are pleased to note in the report that ‘it would be inappropriate for any affordable housing contribution to be allocated in whole in part towards the Queensway Streetscape Improvements’ and gives adopted Policy reasons for this position.

The loss of ‘Affordable Housing’ on the site is bad enough in itself and the amount offered in lieu of on site is less than should be paid under standard formula. The idea being idea suggested that any part at all of the ‘Affordable Housing’ money should go to improving the streetscape which in turns substantially will improve the value of the applicants land holding in Queensway (on west side whole block from Porchester Gardens to Bishop’s Bridge Road) beggars belief and we trust will be rejected out of hand. As is the case with other land owners in Queensway, any contributions sought to improving the streetscape (and therefore their land values) should be explored in the normal way – not in this case by ‘robbing’ any of the ‘Affordable Housing’ payment due.”

Labour Councillor David Boothroyd, who voted against the proposal, said

“Westminster Council is going against its own policy on affordable housing and losing huge amounts of money for affordable homes. The Conservatives don’t seem to understand that this is the biggest housing crisis for a generation and they are knowingly making things worse for families in housing need. “

Letter to Hallfield residents from Karen Buck MP

Karen Buck

The history of the Major Works on Hallfield Estate has been a complicated one, stretching back over several years. Over the last year a number of complaints have been made to me by residents (leaseholders, council tenants and private tenants). These range from leaseholder charges and errors to the continuing problem of poor insulation and heating problems during the winter months, mould, damp and ventilation problems, the length of time scaffolding has been in place in some blocks, which has left residents in year-round dark, security concerns linked to the scaffolding being in place for so long, and communication overall.

I realise that these are complex and long-standing problems, and residents have different views on the best way to proceed. However, whilst I have been receiving responses from CWH and Westminster Residential Environmental Health, I am acutely aware that many residents are still unhappy with handling of many issues on the Hallfield, such as the slow pace with which many of the their concerns are dealt with.

Going forward I am looking to highlight key issues from the past year and press for improvements from CWH in certain areas.

Windows: Hopefully, the fact that the Hallfield windows group is up and running will be good news. I will be monitoring this closely and want to be reassured that, though it has taken a considerable time to resolve, CWH advise that they now expect a final decision on the window replacement for kitchen and bathrooms will be made this autumn, and residents will be balloted after that.

Cold: I am seriously concerned about excess cold in a number of the Hallfield flats. Together with the problems of condensation, damp and mould, these problems are impacting on health, making many people’s lives miserable and adding to the cost of fuel bills, especially in winter. What I hoped would be temporary remedial action in 2010/10/11 may still be needed in the winter of 2013, so I am asking once again for a plan to assist family and elderly residents this winter, along the lines of the Warm Homes Healthy People Project. 40 cases have been already referred to the Environmental Health project for the estate.

Communication: Again and again I hear from constituents regarding planned or ongoing works, necessary repairs and issues raised which are not responded to in a timely and effective fashion. Residents say that the information they require is often not included in newsletters and enquiries are not responded to, or are passed between agencies. The recent issue of the scaffolding around to Reading, Tenby and Pembroke Houses, has caused particular annoyance, as residents do not feel they have been kept informed about the length of time the scaffolding has been erected, whether extra costs have been incurred, and the ongoing delays to the concrete repairs.

Management: Although the responsibility for many of the problems may lie with the contractor, many residents feel that effective contract management should have either prevented them arising or have been resolved much more quickly. I am pleased the CWH Strategic Working Group has now started to meet on once a fortnight to improve joint oversight work and prioritise improvements such as condensation and excess cold. This is an improvement which I hope will bring a more integrated approach to the management and necessary improvements works to the Hallfield- but the fact remains that it has taken far too long to get a grip.

It is for residents to decide what work should be carried out and how it should be prioritised, but CWH must demonstrate proper, cost- effective control of the works, in the interests of everyone on the estate. I will continue to pursue concerns brought to me and welcome your comments. Please write to me at:

Karen Buck MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Or email me at:

buckk@parliament.uk

Yours sincerely,

Karen Buck MP

Council says no to Affordable Homes at 138-142 Queensway

The South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) has made the following representations to the Council about the loss of Affordable Housing from the plans for this luxury development

“We have constantly objected to the five ‘Affordable Housing’ units not being provided on site as was originally agreed with this development. We have had very little ‘Affordable Housing’ provided in Bayswater over past few years and recently no schemes at all have provided such housing so now there is the danger that the area will no longer be a ‘mixed community’ in years to come.

If there is to be no ‘Affordable Housing’ on site it seems obvious to us that the developer will choose to go down the ‘Single Core’ path when construction starts on main building. Building works have not ‘stalled’ and at present basement car park area is in process of being constructed.

On the amounts offered in lieu of ‘Affordable Housing’ we consider amount offered by applicant is too low and the figure secured should be at least the £1.638.300 as mentioned in first paragraph of the report.

However we note figures agreed after Viability Report for both options – Two Core Scheme £556,788 and Single Core Scheme of £1.070.788.

We note that the applicant has requested that a substantial (around 45%) part of the money offered in lieu of ‘Affordable Housing on site be reallocated towards Queensway Streetscape Improvements.

It is absolutely amazing and almost scandalous that the applicant should have the cheek to make such an offer.

We are pleased to note in the report that ‘it would be inappropriate for any affordable housing contribution to be allocated in whole in part towards the Queensway Streetscape Improvements’ and gives adopted Policy reasons for this position.

The loss of ‘Affordable Housing’ on the site is bad enough in itself and the amount offered in lieu of on site is less than should be paid under standard formula.

The idea being idea suggested that any part at all of the ‘Affordable Housing’ money should go to improving the streetscape which in turns substantially will improve the value of the applicants land holding in Queensway (on west side whole block from Porchester Gardens to Bishop’s Bridge Road) beggars belief and we trust will be rejected out of hand.

As is the case with other land owners in Queensway, any contributions sought to improving the streetscape (and therefore their land values) should be explored in the normal way – not in this case by ‘robbing’ any of the ‘Affordable Housing’ payment due.

£48,000 typo shock for Hallfield Estate resident

Hallfield

A resident of the Hallfield Estate in Bayswater got the shock of his life when he received a bill from City West Homes’ solicitors demanding £48,496.13p as his contribution to the cost of a replacement lift for Brecon House.

Labour Councillors took this up and were told by City West Homes;

“Our solicitors sent out a letter to Mr A which contained a typo in relation to the bill for the works. The letter advised that the cost would be £48,496.73, when it should have said £8,496.73p. They recognised the error and corrected it”

One Response to Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Wards

  1. annamarie johnson says:

    I have a dog myself so I am not anti dogs, my gripe is I have seen an awful lot of dogs off the lead in the Bayswater/leinster gardens where I live now some of these dogs look quite dangerous and they have on a few occasions tried to attack my dog because they have been off the lead. is there a law to say that they cant and how could it be implemented. if you do read this thank you for your time.(my dog is 12 yrs old she had an operation for cancer last year plus she has diabetes so she is quite fragile at times.
    thanking you so much
    annamarie Johnson.

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