Westminster Labour opposes the Genesis-Notting Hill Housing Merger

After discussions with residents groups and local Genesis tenants Westminster Labour Group is formally registering its opposition to the proposed merger of Genesis and Notting Hill Housing that will be voted on by shareholders on 16th January. Genesis, the result of a previous round of housing association mergers, has its roots in the historic Paddington Churches Housing Association (PCHA) that helped build and manage homes for low income families particularly in North Paddington, North Kensington and Brent.

Despite the best efforts of some staff members Genesis has long been one of the worst performing housing associations in Westminster in-terms of the complaints received by local councillors and Karen Buck MP, with real issues over the condition of its housing stock and the way it deals with repairs and resident complaints. Shamefully, given its historic roots, Genesis has disposed of at least 244 homes Westminster since 2006 without any of the funds raised being reinvested in new homes in our city. The leadership of Genesis has in the past tried to downgrade its commitment to providing social housing, while Notting Hill’s private sector focused approach has also raised concerns amongst residents.

Westminster Labour is not convinced that a further merger will improve the way the organisation looks after its residents who must be the central focus of any properly functioning housing association. Making the organisation larger and even more remote is unlikely to improve accountability to residents.

Campaigners have raised understandable concerns that the provision of social housing has been removed from the proposed formal purpose of the new organisation and that there is no binding commitment to stop the sales of properties in its traditional heartlands such as North Paddington.

If Labour wins the council elections in May 2018 it is committed to introducing a preferred providers panel for housing associations that want to benefit from Section 106 contracts in Westminster, with strong criteria on resident involvement, repairs performance and preventing the sell-off of local homes. It will also ensure that a Labour-run council would campaign for wider reform of the Housing Association sector so that it refocuses on its core objectives of supporting tenants and providing social and genuinely affordable housing.

Leader of Westminster Labour Group Cllr Adam Hug said “Genesis should scrap the current merger plans and ensure that the organisation is fully focused on delivering a better service to its tenants and delivering the social and genuinely affordable housing that our community desperately needs.”

Posted in Genesis, Housing, Housing Associations | Leave a comment

Just one bed free for emergency patients at St Mary’s this Christmas





According to the ‘Westminster Extra’:

ONLY one emergency bed was spare at St Mary’s Hospital throughout the entire Christmas period, official stats have revealed.

NHS England data shows winter pressure is getting out of control with 105 of the 106 emergency beds available at the Paddington hospital in constant use.

It was one of the highest bed occupancy rates in the country over the festive period during a crisis that triggered an apology from Theresa May yesterday (Thursday).

Nursing chiefs have warned that the NHS is at “breaking point” and that staff are being “denied the resources they need”.

Royal College of Nursing London regional director Bernell Bussue said: “These figures show a system at breaking point, with wards full to bursting, patients waiting outside hospitals in the back of ambulances and even critical care wards and children’s intensive care units going through days with no spare beds.

“Nursing staff are working harder than ever to care for patients but they are being denied the resources they need while record numbers of nursing posts lay vacant. Wards are understaffed and staff are overstretched.

“The responsibility for this crisis lays squarely at the feet of the government. Sustained and unprecedented underfunding of the NHS, cuts to social care and public health budgets as well as the disastrous mismanagement of the NHS workforce have led the health service to this point.”

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs St Mary’s Hospital, had warned before Christmas that this year’s “winter pressure” was likely to be worse than ever.

In a statement in November, divisional director of medicine Professor Tim Orchard, who manages the “patient pathway” through the trust’s urgent and emergency service, said: “We’ve also already got a lot of pressure on our inpatient beds – partly as a result of estates problems causing wards to be out of action for repair work but also because we are seeing more urgent and emergency admissions – there’s been an 11 per cent increase since 2015/16.

“But I am confident we will continue to provide high quality care for all of our patients if we work together and make best use of all the planning and preparation that has been put in place. I would urge everyone to have a look at the checklists we’ve developed to be clear on what support is on offer and how it can be accessed, and what you can do yourself to get winter ready.”


Posted in Health, North Paddington, Paddington, St Mary's Hospital | Tagged , | Leave a comment

St Mary’s Urgent Care Centre – petition to take the management contract away from the failing private contractor and return it to the NHS

St Mary’s Urgent Care Centre (UCC), run by private healthcare provider Vocare Limited in the Praed Street hospital, was rated inadequate in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report published recently. We’ve been asking people about their experiences of the Urgent Care Centre. Please sign our petition to take the management contract away from the failing private contractor and return it to the NHS.


Here are some examples of what you told us:

Alexandra Pink said: “I took my husband to A&E recently and we got referred to the Urgent Care Centre … it was a complete disaster. I tried to complain but they weren’t interested. Something needs to be done as the company running it is clearly not providing the service they are paid to”

Jennifer Fee said: “My daughter was referred to the Urgent Care Centre by A&E … the doctor walked out of the room because my 2 yr old was crying and didn’t return. He told us in the waiting room that it was a soft tissue injury so we left. Five days later we took her to Royal Free where they confirmed she had a fracture”

Another resident said: “My daughter was sent home from the Urgent Care Centre with a groin to toe cast. Six days later, we returned as she was in terrible pain. There was a horrible suppurating wound under the cast for which she needed 2 days of intravenous antibiotics and we were told she might need surgery. And then we found out that her leg was not fractured after all so it was an incorrect diagnosis and the cast had exacerbated the infection!”

You can read about the failing Urgent Care Centre in this article from the Ham & High:


Posted in Care Quality Commission, NHS, St Mary's Hospital, St Mary's Urgent Care Centre | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mayor of London vows to protect cultural venues following successful West End Labour campaign

West End Labour has welcomed measures introduced in the Mayor of London’s draft London Plan to prevent cultural venues from closure.

Included in the recently released draft Plan is the Agent of Change principle, which places the onus on developers to pay for soundproofing costs when building residential spaces next to pre-existing venues.

The inclusion of the principle comes on the back of a campaign led by West End Labour to protect the iconic cinema Curzon Mayfair from closure. After it was revealed that luxury flat developers had asked the Curzon to pay £500,000 in soundproofing costs – to allow them to build flats above it estimated to be worth more than £2m each – a petition was launched by Labour candidate Pancho Lewis to save the cinema. It gained more than 27,000 signatures in support, forcing the developers to agree to meet soundproofing costs.

Pancho Lewis, who is running to be a West End Labour Councillor in next year’s local elections, said:

“We welcome the inclusion of the Agent of Change principle in the draft London Plan. It’s really important that we protect venues like the Curzon Mayfair, because the last thing Londoners want is more and more venues being closed down. Places like the Curzon are the beating heart of artistic and creative life in London – it’s only right that developers who make a lot of profit should pay up their fair share.

“This is a big step forward. The Agent of Change principle has real teeth to help redress the power imbalance between developers and cultural life. But it’s clear that a lot more is needed. West End Labour will continue to campaign for a more sustainable future for the West End and London.”

Posted in Culture, Curzon Mayfair, Mayfair, Mayor of London, Pancho Lewis, Planning permission | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Call for urgent review of standards in Westminster Care Homes

Labour Councillors have called for the Council’s Health & Social Care Scrutiny Committee to investigate the findings of a report from a ‘Which’ investigation into standards in Care Homes across the country which has revealed that Westminster is the worst in the country on the number of beds either as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Councillor Barrie Taylor said:

“We have known about this problem in Westminster for a long time and already have agreement between the majority and minority parties on the need to press the Government to take action.

The NHS in NW London has identified a £23 million shortfall in Social Care by 2020.   The Government announced, as part of the Budget, that it would publish a Green Paper on social care next summer.  We should not wait that long and need to be making a rational case for serious improvements to the care system as a whole.”

Posted in Care Homes, Elderley People, Labour Councillors, NHS, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

City West Homes fails to pay a bill and leaves Regency Street residents without an entryphone

Labour Westminster Councillors have called on City West Homes to explain why an entryphone system at Vincent House in Regency Street, SW1 has not been working for over two months, despite residents reporting this problem on numerous occasions.

Residents say:

“I wish to make a complaint about the failure of City West Homes to sort out a serious problem with the entryphone of Vincent House, Regency Street, SW1.

On arriving at my flat in the block at the weekend, I saw that there was a notice on the entryphone stating that it had been deactivated.  I contacted the number given and found out that the company responsible had done so because City West Homes had failed to pay a bill due on 1 July 2017.  I was told that the person dealing with this matter at City West Homes could be contacted on 020 7245 2377.  I tried to do this but was placed in a queue and after waiting over 5 minutes the recorded music and the message started to play over each other in a distorted loop.  I judged that there was something wrong with the system and hung up.  For some reason communicating with City West Homes always seems to be a real challenge!

I also discussed the situation with other residents and found out that the disconnection had been reported over eight weeks ago but that nothing had been done and nor had there been any communication with residents explaining the situation.  The only information available to residents had come from the entryphone leasing company.

At present the only way to contact someone in a flat is to telephone them – but only if the number is known to the caller – and then for the resident to come to the street level door in person to open it.  If you live on the 4th floor that means a round trip of 118 steps up and down each time.  

There may be a good reason (or otherwise) for not paying the outstanding invoice but if there is, then City West Homes should have immediately made alternative arrangements whilst any issues were being resolved.  As it is, the safety of residents is being compromised by City West Homes’ inaction.”


Following our enquiries, the problem was fixed and residents said:

“Thank you for getting CWH moving.  It shows what it can do when it tries, but it is a pity that it can’t respond in this way as a matter of course.   Last year it took CWH a year to sort out a joint rising main that needed to be split so that two flats could have water meters and then only with regular prompting from me!” 

“My congratulations on being so effective”

Posted in City West Homes, Council Contractors, Council housing, Council leaseholders, Labour Councillors, Vincent Square | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Support for the homeless and vulnerable

We are supporting the Hotel School initiative which teaches hospitality skills to homeless and vulnerable people, matches them to sustainable employment, and supports them in their first steps into work.

Hotel School is a joint venture between The Passage (London’s largest voluntary sector homeless resource centre) and The Goring Hotel. It is supported by London’s Five Star hotel community, Westminster Kingsway catering school staff, and over 50 local businesses.

For more information see https://www.hotelschool.org.uk

Posted in Homeless, Jobs, Labour Councillors, Poverty, Rough Sleepers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment