St James’s Ward

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – September 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Vale Royal House

We have asked City West Homes for an explanation for the very poor performance on a number of issues. Residents say:

“It has proved impossible, yet again, to contact the Soho & Covent Garden Estate Office today by telephone. The problem today is that the door entry system, the CCTV and communal area lighting is not working. Nobody seems to know who the Estate Officer Manager is these days, who is in charge or who at City West Homes is responsible for this building.

I have today tried to ring the 0800 358 3783 number and was informed there would be a long wait before my call would be answered. Out of interest I then picked the option for selling, letting or valuation of a property and the call was answered immediately.

In May of this year I wrote an email to The Soho & Covent Garden Estate Office following the two fires at Vale Royal House. To date there has been no response.  

Also, we are still waiting for the correct door to be fitted on the Newport Court Entrance, for both the Charing Cross Road and Newport Court entrances to be properly repaired and decorated to a proper standard.

We were assured by The Estate Office that there would be no deterioration of the service following the closing of local Estate Offices. In fact, the assurances were that the new system would provide a more efficient, effective and better quality of service. Vale Royal House was supposed to be undergoing a major works program now that has yet again been put off again with no explanation to The Residents, as it has numerous times over the years.” 

We have now heard from City West Homes that the new doors will be fitted between 6-14 September 2017.

Drury Lane Area rubbish dumping

We have reported rubbish dumping around Martlett Court, Crown Court and Sheridan Buildings and asked the Council to clean graffiti off the wall in Martlett Court.

The Porcupine, Charing Cross Road

Following discussions with residents about the problems caused by early morning deliveries at The Porcupine, the pub has offered to change the deliveries to Friday mornings, not before 7am, and not on Bank Holiday Mondays. The delivery staff would be trained/instructed to keep the noise to a minimum. The pub will implement the changes ASAP, but there might be some problems in the first few weeks as there will be a new crew involved.

Martlett Court

We have asked the Council to repair the defective gas lights in Martlett Court.

Jermyn Street – S Franses

Antique textile and tapestry specialist S Franses is taking its fight to stay in its St James’s gallery to the UK Supreme Court. S Franses, which also houses a tapestry archive, has operated from the gallery for more than 25 years. Its 15-year lease came to an end last year and landlord the Cavendish Hotel, run by The Ascott Limited, which is a subsidiary of Singapore’s CapitaLand, hoped to redevelop the space. The dispute went to the London County Court earlier this year and S Franses lost. On appeal to the High Court during the summer, a judge granted the gallery a rare “leapfrog certificate” permitting it to apply directly to the UK Supreme Court on points of law. Separately S Franses received planning protection from Westminster City Council which means the use of the property is largely restricted to use as an art gallery or bespoke retail if it is re-let.

Jermyn Street

We are supporting residents who are opposing the licence application from PLH Bar at 91 Jermyn Street. Residents say:

“This seems to be a way of getting around the fact that the application for an SEV licence was unanimously turned down.  We believe that not only would the new hours and conditions they propose adversely affect the residents of Jermyn Street, but also have a very negative effect on Jermyn Street during the day, as the pavement would be used as a smoking area for the club”

New Scotland Yard

Mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected plans which would have lowered the proportion of affordable housing on the former site of New Scotland Yard. The site was sold by the previous Mayor who then allowed planning permission to be granted for a development offering a £10m payment and only 10 affordable homes, just four per cent of all units, in 27 April 2016, days before the Mayoral election.

The developer then sought to increase the total number of homes by 27, from 268 to 295, with no increase in the number of affordable units or payment in lieu, meaning the level of affordable housing fell further still to only three per cent.

The application was referred to the Mayor after Westminster City Council’s draft decision in May.

Mayor Khan, said:

“It beggars belief that the initial application was approved under the previous Mayor with a paltry four per cent affordable housing, just days before the Mayoral election. This is a site which has only recently been transferred from public ownership and sits within one of the most expensive areas of the country. Having carefully considered the evidence available to me, I have decided to refuse permission for this amended application.”

Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street

We are supporting residents who are opposing the planning application for the refurbishment and extension of the Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street. Residents say:

“We oppose the proposed roof extension which will block what little light Abbey Orchard Street estate has already. We have had enough of our area being destroyed by high rise buildings. We shall also suffer increased noise, loss of the few parking spaces we already have and increased pollution. St Matthews Primary school is adjacent as well as The Abbey Centre and the Archive Centre. The Salvation Army Hostel is one for vulnerable residents and the disruption to all of us will be huge”

Nova development, Victoria

According to the ‘Evening Standard’, “A garish office development opposite London’s Victoria station has been crowned the UK’s ugliest building after winning the 2017 Carbuncle Cup. Nova Victoria, a bright red £380m office complex, was among three of the capital’s buildings to make the shortlist for the architecture prize which is awarded annually by Building Design Magazine. The project was granted approval in 2009 and it was the biggest consent Westminster Council had ever awarded.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/nova-victoria-wins-carbuncle-cup-as-three-london-buildings-make-shortlist-to-be-named-2017s-worst-a3627846.html

Covent Garden

A fleet of supercars have been given parking fines after they illegally parked in Covent Garden. At least five luxury cars were left on double yellow lines and, in one case, a disabled bay. A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said: “People who show no consideration for other motorists around Covent Garden will be penalized. Such behavior is an inconvenience to all those who live, work and visit the busy area.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/smiling-passersby-look-on-as-2m-fleet-of-supercars-parked-in-covent-garden-are-all-slapped-with-a3616991.html

Long Acre/James Street

One of central London’s biggest “vertical parks” is to be planted on the corner of Long Acre and James Street. The walls of the building are being planted with 21,000 flowers and shrubs of 21 different species over an area of 1,500 sq ft. It was designed by Sussex based living wall specialists Biotecture, whose gardeners abseiled down the building to carry out the planting. It will be watered by a drip irrigation system using up to 80 per cent “harvested” rainwater.

Huguenot House

A copy of the minutes of the Cabinet meeting on 10th July which decided on the redevelopment of Huguenot House is here

http://committees.westminster.gov.uk/documents/g4197/Printed%20minutes%2010th-Jul-2017%2019.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=1

Westminster City Hall, Victoria Street

Residents have asked:

“Do you know what are the plans for Westminster City Hall? This week there seems to be scaffolding being erected around it. Although it is not a building of beauty many residents do feel affection for it particularly in the context of the developments in Victoria!”

The Council is refurbishing City Hall and has relocated to 5 The Strand for the next 18 months while the work is being done.

Parliament Square

The Cabinet Office is considering a new bronze statue of Emmeline Pankhurst. Award-winning sculptor Angela Conner, whose past statues have included the Queen and Churchill, has been commissioned to deliver a 12ft sculpture on a stone plinth on Canning Green, to the north of Parliament Square.

Garden Bridge

You might find this recent article of interest

https://www.economist.com/news/britain/21726360-expensive-project-becomes-expensive-mistake-how-london-threw-46m-thames

Apprenticeships

The Council has an apprenticeship programme and you can see the opportunities currently available here https://www.westminster.gov.uk/apprenticeships

Aviva Community Fund 

The 2017 Aviva Community Fund opens on 12 September. Do you know a local community organisation that could use some funding for a project? Details are here

 

https://www.aviva.co.uk/good-thinking/community-fund/?source=ACFNEWS4&entry=143602&cmp=sml-acf–button-180817–acfnews4-143602-findout

Empty Homes

We are supporting the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who has urged the Government to allow London’s boroughs to increase council tax bills for high-value homes that are left empty. The Mayor wants boroughs be able to boost the empty home council tax levy on high-value properties above the current 50 per cent of council tax allowed, saying that the ability to charge this levy at a meaningful rate will “incentivise occupation” and “generate a more substantial receipt” of support for investment in new affordable homes.

What you say

“Thank you for your regular newsletters, much appreciated”

“Thank you for your informative report.”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – August 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Land bounded by Drury Lane, Dryden Street, Arne Street and Shelton Street

The Planning application for this site was refused last month. The Committee decided that the changes were not sufficient to overcome concerns about the impact on the Conservation Area and that the development remained too big in bulk and scale. Councillors also expressed concerns about the design and proposed curtain wall and materials proposed on the Drury Lane frontage.

Huguenot House

Residents of Huguenot House have set up a Twitter account to express their concerns about the Council decision to redevelop their block @HuguenotHouse

You can see the report on the Council’s plans for the Panton Street, Whitcomb Street, Orange Street, Oxendon Street area here http://westminster.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s23153/Leceister%20Square%20Development%20Review%20Huguenot%20House.pdf

Jermyn Street

St James’s textile specialist S Franses has won an appeal in court for the right to stay in its gallery in Jermyn Street. S Franses, which also houses a tapestry archive, has operated from the gallery for more than 25 years. Its 15-year lease came to an end last year and landlord the Cavendish Hotel, run by The Ascott Limited hoped to redevelop the gallery into two shops and re-let them to retailers.

The dispute went to the London County Court earlier this year and S Franses lost. However, on appeal to the High Court earlier this month, that decision was overturned. Earlier this year, S Franses and another Jermyn Street tenant, bespoke shoemaker Foster & Sons, applied to Westminster Council for planning protection. The application was approved, which means the two properties are restricted to use as art galleries and bespoke retail use only and could not be re-let to a general fashion retailer.

Housing Advice for Private Tenants 

Mick Beirne and Robert Newton provide a Housing Advice and Tenancy Relations service for private tenants and licensees living in Westminster. They give free legal advice to occupiers in the private rented sector – that includes security, repair, rent, etc., and can take up their cases depending on the issue. They also enforce the criminal law as it relates to the landlord and tenant relationship – harassment, illegal eviction, etc.

To contact them call 020 7641 1000 and their colleagues will put the call through.

Mick Beirne and Robert Newton
Housing Adviser/Tenancy Relations Officer
T:020 7641 1000
F: 020 7598 1720
E:mbeirne@wcchos.org.uk and rnewton@wcchos.org.uk

Also, Noreen O’Neil of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helps with prevention of eviction and debt problems. Appointments can be made via 020 7641 1000.

Westminster Council and City West Homes put residents ‘on hold’

Westminster City Council and its housing organisation CityWest Homes have left residents hanging on the telephone since closing estate offices and replacing them with a new call centre. We campaigned against shutting estate offices and warned that the new call centre plan would face significant problems.

Since the introduction of the ‘new CityWest operating model’ in June, we have been inundated with stories of residents facing long waiting times (up to an hour in some cases) as CityWest underestimated the number of people who had complaints or needed help. Furthermore, residents have not been called back or have been given unsatisfactory holding responses from call centre teams who are struggling with the case load.

The new system has come under further strain due to concerns in the wake of the Grenfell fire, with residents unable to speak to local staff in their offices to get reassurance and being made to join the call centre queues.

After these initial troubles and complaints CWH has brought in more temporary staff but residents are still facing substantial waits. We are calling on the Council and CityWest to get a grip of the situation, to look again at staffing numbers to deal with the higher than expected call volumes and returning CWH staff to the frontline in local offices to help address residents’ concerns.

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – June 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman 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

Martlett Court

We have again asked the Housing Department to assist the people sleeping in tents in Martlett Court to find them somewhere to sleep.

Bow Street Magistrates Court, Drury Lane

We have asked the Council to remove graffiti from the Bow Street Magistrates Court building.

Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is set to undergo a £35 million redevelopment, according to the venue’s owners Really Useful Theatres. In an interview with The Stage, Managing Director Rebecca Kane Burton revealed that Really Useful Theatres will be submitting plans to Westminster City Council in September, with Haworth Tompkins on board as architects. Although declining to explain the extent of the refurbishment, Kane Burton suggested that the theatre would be closed for an extended period and said that “there is an opportunity here to open it up more.”

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2017/theatre-royal-drury-lane-undergo-35m-revamp/

Coach Parking

We have continued to take up residents’ concerns about coach Parking near Westminster Abbey:

“We are still experiencing major problems regarding coach parking in the area around Abbey Orchard Street, Great Smith Street and now the Abbey end of Victoria Street SW1. It is very difficult to alight from a bus in Victoria street at a bus stop as the buses are unable to park near the pavement. Today there were seven coaches parked in Victoria Street all with engines running to add to the pollution already experienced.”

Queen Mother Sports Centre

We have reported this concern raised by a local resident to the Council:

“I wish to raise my concerns about the current state and risks posed by the ongoing breaches in the pool hall ceiling at the Queen Mother Sports Centre, Vauxhall Bridge Road. I believe that initially maintenance work was being undertaken, but the ceiling has never been re-sealed and has been open to the pool hall atmosphere for some considerable time now along with air-conditioning equipment. Pool halls have an extremely corrosive atmosphere particularly in relation to metalwork. A sealed ceiling arrangement is key and must be maintained to avoid the risk of corrosion / catastrophic collapse. “

Westminster Boating Base

There is a free Family Activity Summer Festival at Westminster Boating Base from Sunday 6th August to Tuesday 8th August at 136 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico, SW1V 3JY. Activities include:

Kayaking · Sailing · Powerboating · Football, tennis & fencing with QPR coaches · Meet the RNLI Boat Crew and the Fire Brigade. · Safari Pete  · Vauxhall City Farm · Bouncy castle · Indoor rowing · Health & wellbeing

Whether you intend to participate in water sports or just spectate, REGISTER IN ADVANCE on-line where there are also parental consent forms.

For further details please go to www.westminsterboatingbase.co.uk/activities/family-activity-festival

Westminster Reporter

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

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

Contact the Elderly 

Contact the Elderly is a national charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people.  They are supported by a network of volunteers and organise free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for groups of older people who live alone. They currently have 6 groups across the Westminster which have all been very successful.  The Westminster 38 group has been active for 47 years and has been run by the same committed group of volunteers. They very much want this group to continue to run and are therefore looking for new people to join this group, to volunteer as either a volunteer tea party host, volunteer coordinator or volunteer driver.

For further information contact Christina Jackson on 020 3865 3382
Christina.Jackson@contact-the-elderly.org.uk

www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk

CCTV – what you say

“I agree they should be reinstated in the West End. They were very helpful in curtailing the growth of problems. For example, someone setting up an unlicensed trading stall in Leicester Square was informally warned to desist and they peacefully went away.”

What you say

“BT phone boxes and faulty pavements. Providing the contact details to report these problems was very helpful.”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – June 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Great Newport Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“The site at 10-11 Great Newport Street, was converted from an old office building into residential and restaurant. In particular, with the residential units that overlook the courtyard of Sandringham Flats – and it seems to be predominantly the top flat with the large outdoor space – I see scant evidence that the residential units are occupied. What the one on the top floor appears to be used for is some kind of infrequent daily let. I’ve seen it used during the day for a photo-shoot. This is not sub-letting to semi-permanent occupants, but rather turning the residential properties into some kind of “event space, or party venue for hire”.

I have observed several times people having parties in these properties. A few weeks ago my neighbour called over to the party participants who were out on their balcony to ask if the party noise could be kept down and he was treated to verbal abuse. Last night there was another noisy party well into the small hours.

I have never seen anybody I could identify as living in any of the properties, as I have never identified seeing the same people twice. I want to know if these residential units have now become simply party venues for hire. If these residential properties are operating on extreme short-let stays, such as just for the day, the night, the weekend, (say, in an AirBnB style) are they not operating as businesses and would this therefore be an incorrect usage in terms of planning consent?”

Joe Allen, Exeter Street

The Standard reports:

“Joe Allen is to be recreated “brick by brick” in a new location in Covent Garden after being forced to leave its home of 40 years. The owners of the West End venue have taken a lease on a site just 40 yards from the red canopy in Exeter Street that marks the entrance to the restaurant. Co-owner Lawrence Hartley said the aim was to “retain the soul of Joe Allen” by moving trademark features such as the brick arches across the dining room, the tongue and groove wood panelling, the bar top, light fittings, theatrical posters and even the “rickety” chairs and tables to the new premises in nearby Burleigh Street.”

Rough sleeping 

We are calling on the Council to tackle the growing problem of rough sleeping:

“The biggest issue is still homelessness. Walking last night, I counted 35 people sleeping rough in the Strand. Just the Strand.”

CCTV 

In light of the recent terrorism, we believe that the Council should reinstate its CCTV cameras in the West End after it was shut down as part of the cuts programme last year.

Parliament Square

According to the press:

“A planned bronze statue of Lady Thatcher would portray the former prime minister sternly gazing “slightly rightwards” over the Houses of Parliament that she dominated for more than a decade. The proposed memorial to Britain’s longest-serving post-war premier, which was bitterly opposed by her daughter Carol because it did not feature her trademark handbag, has the Iron Lady standing resolutely in her Order of the Garter regalia. The row is set to be reignited after a planning application for the statue, which would be placed on a stone plinth at the back of Parliament Square, was lodged with Westminster City Council.”

BT Phone boxes 

Following our campaign calling on BT to clean up their phone boxes we have been told:

“BT will come out and fix or clean anything reported by the public. The number to do so is 0800 661610 or by email customer.serv.payphones@bt.com. They have now increased priority on these boxes so if anyone reports problems using the automated service on 151, someone will come out. The time frame for phone faults is up to 5 days and health hazards usually within the day.”

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

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

Great Newport Street – what you say

“I live opposite the flat complained about. The complainant raises‎ three issues; short term rentals, noise, and the use of the flat for photo shoots. Taking these issues in the same order, all things being equal I prefer long term rentals as it encourages a sense of community; unwanted noise is anti-social; photo shoots, I do not understand their objection, it’s not doing them or me any harm, live and let live.” 

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

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – May 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Martlett Court

We have asked the Housing Department to offer help to the regular rough sleepers in Martlett Court and to find them somewhere warm and dry to sleep.

We have also asked the Council to clean the graffiti from the walls of Martlett Court.

Covent Garden – speeding cars

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Something which needs looking at is the whole issues of cars from the Gulf States causing chaos on the roads in the Covent Garden at the weekends.   Sundays can be terrible – with cars parked illegally and causing total chaos and gridlock for hours upon end.  I guess no one will stick their neck out and cause waves until a young child runs between the illegally parked cars and is killed” 

The Council say:

“We are aware of these types of issues and have worked closely with the Police and our own City Inspector’s to try and deal with these issues in the past.  However, I am not aware of any incidents currently although this does seem to escalate during the summer months and is something we will again be keeping an eye on.”

Great Smith Street/Abbey Orchard Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I am resident in Abbey Orchard Street and often use the bus stop at the top end of Abbey Orchard street where the road joins Great Smith Street. We are waiting for an accident to happen to bus passengers trying to alight at the bus stop blocked by two and today three coaches dropping off tourists to Westminster Abbey. I spoke to one driver today and asked him to move and got a negative response. When trying to enter Great Smith Street in a vehicle it is impossible as one cannot see what traffic is coming because there are more coaches parked on the same side of the street towards The Abbey Club. This situation happens both on weekdays and at weekends and has become out of control. There is also an environmental and pollution issue as the drivers keep their engines running.”

Carteret Street

Residents of Carteret Street next to the building site where a 3 storey deep underground car park is being built say they now have rodents in their next door block of flats which is overwhelming their small block.  They ask:

“Please could you somehow get Westminster Council to force the building contractors to employ and pay for Rentokil or whoever is best, to eradicate the rodents which are now in our small block of flats, and to guarantee that they will monitor and take preventative measures to preclude any recurrence.   In more than 20 years we have lived there and there has of course never been a mouse.  This invasion is obviously caused by the deep digging down into sewers etc. next to us.”

We have asked the Council to take action.

Garden Bridge

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that he would not provide the financial guarantees needed for construction of the proposed Garden Bridge to begin. In a letter to the Garden Bridge Trust, the charity leading the project, the Mayor said he had taken the decision because of a continuing shortfall in fundraising for the scheme and the lack of the necessary land use agreements despite three years of talks. He said.

“The funding gap is now at over £70m and it appears unlikely that the trust will succeed in raising the private funds required for the project. I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts to ensure the project is completed.”

Jermyn Street

The Council has agreed to undertake the following improvements to the public realm. The costs of the works will be paid for by The Crown Estate.

  • Wider footway along the north side of Jermyn Street
  • Reduction and relocation of street furniture to reduce street clutter
  • Repaving the footways with new granite kerbs and York stone paving (matching the materials introduced in the area as part of other recent public realm projects)
  • Resurfacing the carriageway in black asphalt to provide a new running surface and in preparation for the proposed new road markings and new kerbside controls
  • Relocation of gullies to ensure surface water drainage provision
  • Using wall mounted street lights and modern energy efficient equipment to provide modern standards of street lighting and to minimise street furniture which will support the aim of reduced street clutter on the Jermyn Street footways.

Parliament Square – buses

From now until early August 2017, buses serving Parliament Square will be delayed, diverted or stop short of their normal destinations while Westminster City Council carry out utility works. The following routes will be affected:
3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 91, 148, 159, 211, 453, N3, N11, N44, N87, N109, N136, N155, N381

In particular please note that some routes stop short of their destination between 06:00 and 00:01 every day until early August 2017, to help maintain reliability on the rest of the route:

  • Route 11 does not run between Aldwych and Liverpool Street (until
    Friday 16 June 2017 only)
  • Route 53 does not run between Westminster Bridge Road (Lower Marsh)
    and Whitehall
  • Route 87 does not run between Whitehall and Aldwych
  • Route 91 does not stop in Whitehall or Northumberland Avenue
  • Route 159 does not run between Oxford Circus and Marble Arch

Additionally, all the above routes will be diverted for a period as the works progress. For full details of the works and how buses are affected please visit
www.tfl.gov.uk/parliament-square-works<http://www.tfl.gov.uk/parliament-square-works

Oxford Street pedestrianisation and buses

Westminster City Council will carry out the first of two separate public consultations before deciding on how to implement the Mayor of London’s vision for Oxford Street.

For more information and to respond to the consultation, visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk/oxford-street

According to the Standard:

“Cyclists could be banned from Oxford Street when it is pedestrianised, London’s walking and cycling tsar has revealed. Sadiq Khan pledged in his manifesto to remove traffic from the capital’s main shopping street by 2020, and a public consultation is due to be launched “very soon.” His walking and cycling commissioner Will Norman has now suggested that the changes could include a ban on cyclists using Oxford Street as part of a wider plan to build safer bike routes throughout the area. Transport for London confirmed that the number of buses running along Oxford Street will be cut by 40 per cent, with changes to 23 routes. The buses will be re-routed away from Oxford Street or have their routes cut short, with some terminating at Marble Arch or in Bloomsbury. About 270 buses an hour currently use Oxford Street.”

“Black taxis could be banned from Oxford Street under plans to pedestrianise the capital’s busiest shopping street, it emerged today. The move could also result in minicabs such as Uber and Addison Lee being prohibited from driving along the street at night. Taxis currently make up a third of all the traffic on the street – but account for just two per cent of trips as most people walk or use the Tube.”

Please let us know what you think.

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

Skyscrapers – what you say

“I agree with you. Effective population density is not really increased as a skyscraper needs to an area of space to achieve light. To get water beyond a third floor needs an additional power source. Adding an additional floor to an existing building causes cannoning creating a dark cold and windy street environment.”

What you say

“Thank you for producing the newsletter. I always find it helpful.”

“Keep up the good work with your informative updates and on the issues you pursue for residents” 

“Many thanks for all your hard work in this constituency.”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – April 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charing Cross Library

Library users at Charing Cross Library have started a petition opposing the Council’s decision to axe the post of Chines Library Coordinator. They say:

“We believe that the Chinese Community is deeply dismayed with the funding cut to the Westminster Chinese Library, the largest public Chinese library in the UK. The Chinese library draws 70% of readers to the Charing Cross Library and is the main reason why this library welcomes the most readers compared to any other library in Westminster. We demand that:

  • The service to the Chinese community to be maintained to the same level as how it was before the budget cut.
  • An Equality Impact Assessment should be initiated before the implementation of the restructuring.
  • The Council has a duty to genuinely consult the Chinese Community, local residents and all users regarding the restructuring of the Chinese service.”

Almost 1,000 people signed the petition.

Westminster: A city of skyscrapers?

Westminster Council has announced proposals to increase the number of tall buildings all over Westminster, including Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria. 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

Bow Street Magistrates Court and Police Station 

We are making enquiries about plans for the former Magistrates Court and Police Station which was recently bought by a hotel company.

Newport Place

Proposals to improve the streetscape in Newport Place and Newport Court by creating a new public square with new paving, lighting and a new Chinese Pavilion have been agreed by the Council. The costs of the scheme will be funded by Shaftesbury, a major landowner in Chinatown.

Langley Street

A cocktail bar in Covent Garden which wanted to stay open until 3.30am has cancelled the plans after residents claimed it could turn the area into a “playground of outsiders.” Neighbours of Foundations Bar in Langley Street wrote to Westminster City Council to object to the application. Toby Smith of Novus Leisure told the press: “We have revisited this application and have decided not to proceed at this time.”

Broadway

Transport for London has decided not to sell its iconic headquarters at 55 Broadway for a luxury residential redevelopment. They will sell the building as an office investment via a sale-and-leaseback.

St James’s Street

Planning consent has been granted to refurbish the Economist Plaza in St James’s Street. The Grade II listed complex comprises the 15-storey Economist Tower, the five-storey former Bank Building and an eight-storey residential building, each of which is arranged around the raised plaza. The owners will carry out rooftop extensions to provide new plant enclosures and an additional 4,600 sq ft of offices, bringing the total office space to 86,300 sq ft. An extra 2,500 sq ft has also been approved in the Economist Tower and Bank Building and at plaza level within the residential building for retail/gallery/restaurant/café space.

Airbnb

Hundreds of flats and houses in Westminster are being illegally let out amid the Airbnb revolution, Parliament has been told. MPs warned against a “free-for-all” in short-term lettings causing misery for thousands of Londoners who live next door to these properties and hitting the housing stock for people to rent long term. They are demanding a crackdown on abuses of legislation which allows flats and houses to be rented out short term for up to 90 days a year. Labour MP Karen Buck said renting out properties for short holiday lets can produce up to three times the income of more traditional flat rentals. Growth in the industry is also contributing to a loss of residential accommodation, she told the Commons. Ms Buck wants the 90-day limit for renting out homes each year to be enforced. According to Westminster City Council a two-bed flat can earn £1,800 a week, compared with £620 for a short hold tenancy, she said.

What you say

“We are concerned about the plans to destroy virtually the entire block between Covent Garden Piazza, Exeter Street, and Wellington/Bow Street in order to build a Robert de Niro hotel. He should know better too, as one of the places to be lost will be the iconic theatrical restaurant Joe Allen!”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – March 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

Charing Cross Road Library

Despite the strong community protests and campaign in Autumn 2016 Westminster Council has pushed ahead with plans to cut £750,000 from the libraries budget. Although public pressure helped to save a few of the frontline posts, it has been revealed that the cuts include the post of Chinese Services Coordinator who manages the work of the Westminster Chinese Library at Charing Cross Library, home to one of the largest collections of Chinese materials in the country with over 50,000 Chinese language books and other resources.

The council plans to replace this hugely experienced specialist with a ‘Community Development Manager’ covering resources for all of Westminster’s hugely diverse communities.

This short sighted decision has caused deep anger in the local Chinese community as the library is an important resource for Chinatown. Labour Councillors have written urgently to Westminster’s Chief Executive and the Director of Libraries and Archives demanding an explanation and challenging the lack of prior consultation with the Chinese community about this damaging change.

Covent Garden – Tackling drugs and anti-social behavior

We are making enquiries with the Council after being contacted by residents in Covent Garden:

“We live here and live with the consequences of neglect – lack of street cleaning regularly, hot wash downs, and effective and active street management. These are matters pursued directly with the Council, via fixmystreet, to ward councillors, and more, as Veolia clearly aren’t and haven’t been performing. Its noticeable that when they do clean and hot wash down, and the police conduct random swoops (instead of always going at the same time!) – with spice now a controlled substance they say they can intervene, that much of the problem is under control. There is no substitute for active street management, and that has been evident since at least the ’60s here, as neighbours can testify.”

Jermyn Street

We are supporting residents and local businesses who are opposing a “wholly inappropriate” plans to open a table dancing club in Jermyn Street. A licensing application has been submitted for a “gentlemen’s club.” The Playhouse, where women would provide “full nudity” striptease, pole dancing and table dancing every night until 3.30am. PLH Bars states in its application to Westminster City Council that the 235-capacity club, in a former restaurant at 91 Jermyn Street, would be “opulent.”

We are delighted that the Sub-Committee, having carefully considered all the representations received, decided that it was not appropriate for a Sexual Entertainment Venue to be located in Jermyn Street.

Vauxhall Bridge Road Clean Air Petition

Westminster was recently named one of its worst three boroughs for killer pollution. And within Westminster, one of the worst air pollution blackspots is Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Local residents have been telling us how air pollution from this busy road is affecting their lives on an almost daily basis. Vauxhall Bridge Road has exceptional levels of traffic, as it’s part of the London ring road and a boundary to the congestion charge zone. It is also a high-density residential area where many vulnerable people live – including children and the elderly – and numerous schools are within half a mile of the road. Families live overlooking major areas of traffic congestion, while other local residents cross it regularly throughout the day to access shops, schools and local buses and Tubes.

We are calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan and Westminster City Council to put Vauxhall Bridge Road at the top of their air pollution hit lists. Please join us and sign the petition below.

http://www.westminsterlabour.co.uk/cleanair

Queen Mother Sports Centre 

Residents have once again asked us to report the poor state of parts of the Sports Centre swimming pool:

  • The swimming pool lane ropes are very dangerous as they are secured with a spanner.
  • The children’s waiting area drains are blocked and backing up.
  • A safety glass in the public gallery is broken. 

Chadwick Street Jobcentre 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is proposing to relocate the services currently delivered by Westminster Jobcentre in Chadwick Street to St Marylebone Jobcentre in Lisson Grove, over 3 miles away.

You can view the public consultation document at www.gov.uk/government/consultations]www.gov.uk/government/consultations .

DWP is seeking views on this proposal, including the impact on travel times and costs, and on support available to claimants and the wider population.

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

Regards

Colin Appleby and Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – February 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Kean Street

Following our enquiries about a broken street light the Council has told us: 

this is a gas lighting column that had been damaged by a vehicle the main repairs have now been undertaken although the Gas connection still need to be undertaken and this should happen in the next few days” 

Vale Royal House 

We asked the Council to look into this long-running issue:

Would anybody be able to look into the matter of drug dealing from within Vale Royal House, and its surrounds, in Charing Cross Road? In the past I have called the police more than once to log seeing drug dealing on the street at the corner of Great Newport Street and Charing Cross Road. Today I saw somebody open the door to Vale Royal House and whistle over to clients, who hurriedly crossed the road to do their business.”

The Council told us:

“The Police in partnership with WCC closed one of the flats within Vale Royal House some time ago. Since the closure we have been looking into and monitoring couple of other premises within the block. In addition, City West Homes are holding a residents’ meeting with Vale Royal House residents which the West End & Chinatown Police and WCC will also attend. One of the issues discussed will be antisocial behaviour and/or crime in the locality.” 

Residents say:

“It’s encouraging to know that some action has been taken and that monitoring is on-going. I’ll do what I can to report relevant matters as I see them. Thanks for the help you provide in moving things forward.”

Garden Bridge 

We are delighted that the ‘call in’ process instigated by Labour councillors has led to a cross-party consensus that Westminster should require the Garden Bridge Trust to prove it is financially viable before the start of any construction. The Committee has called for a lease condition that prevents construction from getting underway before the Garden Bridge Trust is able to prove it has the required funds available (not as promissory notes) to cover the costs of building the bridge. The committee requested that the project’s level of contingency be reviewed with the current £30 million buffer for a £185 million project seen as a potential risk given the scale of the engineering project and the uncertain economic times. They also requested an assessment of the potential impact of 7 million visitors on local services, such as street cleaning, in the Temple area.

Whitehall

We are supporting residents who have raised objections to plans to turn the former War Office building in Whitehall into a luxury hotel. The Grade II-listed Edwardian building, where Winston Churchill once worked and whose 1,100 rooms are linked by more than two miles of corridors, was sold by the Ministry of Defence for £350m in 2014. Its new owners want to turn it into five-star accommodation, but local residents fear the project will destroy one of London’s finest views and amount to the “mutilation” of the historic landmark.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/united-kingdom/england/london/articles/row-over-five-star-hotel-in-old-war-office-building/

Jermyn Street

A brawl in which three people were allegedly stabbed broke out on the dancefloor of a London nightclub. CCTV footage captured attendees at the Rah Rah Rooms in the West End, running for cover after two groups of warring men exchanged blows. One party-goer was allegedly hit over the head with a champagne bottle during the fracas. Police said the New Year’s Eve fight broke out after a man was punched in the face while dancing with a woman shortly after midnight. The Metropolitan Police is now calling on Westminster City Council’s licensing committee to revoke its licence to serve alcohol until 3am and host music and dancing until 4am.

Having regard to all the evidence the Sub-Committee commended the Police for bringing the review.  Members of the Sub-Committee decided that they would impose stringent conditions in order to promote the licensing objectives which went beyond those requested by the Police in September 2016 and those the Licensee had offered.  The stringent conditions attached to the premises licence included no entry or re-entry after 00:30 excluding smokers and live CCTV coverage during club nights.  The Sub-Committee warned the Licence Holder’s representatives that they were very much in the last chance saloon.

Neathouse Place – Rough Sleepers

We have asked the Council to liaise with their colleagues in other agencies to tackle this issue:

“I have a concern about rough sleepers in Neathouse Place. I had the misfortune to walk from Vauxhall Bridge Road under the arch of Neathouse Place into Wilton Road this morning. The entire pavement was littered with debris from fast food outlets as

well as food from foil containers. It was hard not to slip on and coupled with urine and strewn rubbish from the two people with their suitcases it became an impossible pavement to walk on.

Living in Abbey Orchard Street we are surrounded by hostels such as St. Georges who are not managing their drug related problems of their residents at all. Every day there are at least two ambulances outside which stretch resources of a well used service. I cannot go into my local supermarket, Tesco Monck Street, without

being accosted by people begging and once inside find there is always someone that the staff are trying to get rid of.” 

The Council say: 

“We are aware of the escalation of issues at Neathouse Place outside of Argos.  Unfortunately, I think we are seeing some displacement on the back of recent action taken against Victoria Gardens Development Ltd. regarding rough sleeping issues at Stockley House on Wilton Road (just opposite this area).   We issued them with a Community Protection Notice requiring them to clear and secure the areas which were attracting rough sleepers and suffering from associated waste issues.  We are now however working closely with them and they have subsequently cleared the area and plans are afoot to hoard off vulnerable areas which were attracting rough sleepers to that location.

In regards to Neathouse Place there are 2 individuals who frequent this location and we have engaged with them. We are also working with Victoria BID security who are also targeting this location and doing what they can do shift people from this area. Starting on 13th February we have 3 weeks of sustained begging/rough sleeping operations taking place in the Victoria area and this location will be targeted by City Inspectors, Police and outreach in order that a holistic approach is taken to get these individuals off of the street and to clear this location.”  

New Scotland Yard

The owners of the New Scotland Yard, the former London home of the Metropolitan Police, have asked to amend their plans for a £1 billion luxury residential-led scheme “to allow for changes in market demand.” Documents filed with Westminster City Council show that the company now wants to increase the number residential units by around 10 per cent, from 268 to 295, mainly by creating more apartments out of the existing consented residential space.  

Diesel Cars

Motorists will be hit with on-the-spot fines for not turning their engines off in a bid to tackle air and noise pollution issues. Westminster City Council is running a campaign to raise awareness about the environmental and health dangers of vehicle idling, and from Saturday 4th February repeat offenders run the risk of being slapped with a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

Garden Bridge – what you say

“It is not right that this costly project is being steam-rollered through, against the wishes of so many residents nearby, and when there are so many other needs, housing especially. The bridge is not needed in that place, there are plenty of bridges nearby. It is not wise to spend public money on a privately owned project. And it is a fantasy to suppose that a real garden with flowers can flourish in a very windy place 15 metres above the water- and if it gets the protection necessary, the bridge will then become an eyesore and obstruct all the London river views so many of us enjoy and value. The river Thames is a true and precious public space. And it is wrong to have a bridge anywhere in the centre of a great city which is not open to the public free of charge 24/7. Those of us who will never be millionaires, but are just normal Londoners, working to make the city function, are seemingly losing our city to the rich and ruthless.”

What you say

“We are in desperate need of common sense and honesty in politics – now more than ever. Thank you for your fine example”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby

Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – January 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Drury Lane

There are two sections of portable fences on the pavement along Drury Lane next to Sheridan Buildings which residents say have been there for weeks but with no sign of any activity. We have asked the Council and City West Homes to let us know what is happening here.

Martlett Court/Drury Lane

We asked the Council to clear boxes and packages dumped at the end of Martlett Court on Drury Lane. 

Kean Street

There are two broken lampposts outside 20 Kean Street. They look as if they are redundant but have not been removed. We have asked the Council to let us know the situation.

Bow Street 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“There is a pile of rubbish permanently in Bow St opposite the Royal Opera House. None of the nearby bars own up to having anything to do with the kegs but miraculously they occasionally vanish only to be replaced within a couple of days. Not only is it an eyesore but it’s also a security issue as it’s by the Opera House and also adjacent to the main BT internet exchange for the whole of the West End”

Charing Cross Road

There is a broken BT cabinet outside Burleigh Mansions on Charing Cross Road. We have asked the Council to get BT to remove it.

Garden Bridge proposal

Labour Councillors have ‘called in’ a decision made by Westminster cabinet members regarding the acquisition and appropriation of land around Temple station for the proposed Garden Bridge. We are concerned that the finances of the Garden Bridge Trust are in a precarious situation and could leave the Council responsible for picking up maintenance and other costs involved in the project. We are also concerned that no decisions should be made until the conclusion of the Mayor’s review of the Garden Bridge project. The ‘call in’ meeting is on 19th January at Westminster City Hall.

Chinatown

We are supporting traders in Chinatown say that it may not survive in its current form because of this year’s increases in business rates. Restaurateurs and shop owners are planning a joint appeal against the Government revaluation of their businesses. They say this could be the final straw for many smaller firms already struggling to cope with higher rents and a sharp rise in the cost of food imported from China following the devaluation of the pound.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/chinatown-traders-issue-warning-over-future-amid-business-rates-rise-a3434256.html

Jermyn Street 

There was a stabbing in the Rah Rah Room club on Jermyn Street on New Year’s Eve.  Following an investigation, an expedited review of the licence was requested.  The Council’s Licensing Committee heard the review and has suspended the licence pending the full review hearing.

Oxford Street pedestrianisation

The West End Community Network, comprising representatives of people living in the West End, have backed Sadiq Khan’s plans to improve air quality but have again stressed their opposition to pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. WECN is made up of residents groups in Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair, Soho and St James. The groups restated their opposition to plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street because they say it would shift motor traffic into side streets. Michael Bolt said:

“Even if bus services are substantially reduced, the number of taxis, remaining buses and commercial vehicles displaced will be enormous and beyond the capacity of our already crowded local roads to manage without incurring significant additional congestion. The problem that Oxford Street shoppers now face will be simply displaced to affect those living and working nearby”.

Elizabath Line

Andrew Dismore, Labour member of the GLA asked the Mayor this question recently:

“If the Elizabeth Line, when open, is being used as an excuse to cut bus routes that use Oxford St, will bus passengers be able to travel on the Elizabeth Line for free for the length of Oxford St, to pick up another bus at the other end of Oxford Street?”

The Mayor replied as follows:

“The opening of the Elizabeth line will be the most significant transformation to transport in central London for a generation and we predict there will be a reduction in bus use along Oxford Street when it comes into operation in two years’ time. It is entirely appropriate for wider transport networks to be re-examined as part of this huge project. We plan to consult on a scheme to transform Oxford Street next year.” 

Denmark Street

Dave Hill writes about the redevelopment of Denmark Street here

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2016/dec/20/the-future-of-denmark-street-rebirth-or-dystopia?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Pavement cycling

The Mayor has issued this statement:

“No injury on London’s roads or pavements is acceptable, and the Mayor is working to make our city safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Cycling on pavements is illegal and we expect police officers to enforce the law and deal with these offences in an appropriate way. You may also find it beneficial to visit the latest press release on the Greater London Authority website regarding the Mayor’s upcoming plans for cyclists in London – not only will it make cycling in London safer for cyclists, but also for pedestrians.  You can see all the information here: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-secures-record-investment-in-cycling

BT phone boxes – update

We are continuing to urge BT to clean their phone boxes regularly. We were very surprised to receive this complacent response from BT after we sent them a long list of filthy phone boxes all over the West End:

We’re not in a position to clean boxes on a regular basis. But boxes are cleaned every time an engineer visits and if a cleaning request is made to our customer service we can usually visit the box within 3-5 days.”

In response we replied as follows:

“We cannot believe that BT cannot clean its phone boxes on a regular basis. Surely you owe it to your customers and the general public to ensure that they are cleaned on a daily basis, particularly in the high-volume tourist area of the West End? We are surprised by your admission that “We’re not in a position to clean boxes on a regular basis”. Why not commission the City Council via its contractors to clean the phone boxes for you on a daily basis? I am sure the Council’s contractors would be happy to negotiate a commercial arrangement that will benefit everyone, including the public and your customers.”

Superfast broadband

In the Cities of London and Westminster only 31% of premises have access to super-fast broadband connections, defined as those with speeds above 24 megabits a second, as of August 2014. See this article

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/09/london-has-the-worst-broadband-in-britain-government-statistics-show

Please let us know if you have a problem getting super-fast broadband

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

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby

Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – December 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria – Colin Appleby, Paul Heasman and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

St Martin’s Lane

We are supporting residents in Faraday House and Burleigh Mansions who have raised objections to proposals in St Martin’s Lane. They say:

I object to the following plans to develop the rear of this building into a social area for the workers in the office block. Faraday House is a social housing provision for a variety of people. We have old people, very old with health issues in our building, very young families with children, vulnerable people, people with mental health issues and so on. The plans for the building will compromise to an unacceptable extent the privacy of those who’s windows face towards the office block courtyard, about 15 residences. The courtyard has many residences over looking it, not just Faraday House but the mansion blocks on Charing Cross Road and the flats at 20 Charing Cross Road. There is absolutely no reason for these developments, they are not needed and present severe disruption for local residents. “

Covent Garden policing

The Westminster and Camden policing teams had their first joint meeting at the Covent Garden Community Association on 5th December. The CGCA say: 

The surge in street drug activity, and its attendant crime and antisocial behaviour, are things that we have all been discussing and reporting for a long time now.  The issue became acute when police tasking team resources were reduced in parts of the West End, but several years ago we saw this coming when the ‘West End Drug Partnership’ was disbanded.  Covent Garden and Soho have been lobbying the Met at the highest levels this year, and the public meeting in Soho in the Autumn brought the issue wider coverage. A great frustration for local people has been the reduction in concerted ‘cross-border’ working, which seems to have allowed gangs to move between jurisdictions and run rings around the authorities. “\

The Strand

Proposals to replace the office building at 5 The Strand with a 12-storey stone and bronze scheme have been submitted to Westminster City Council. The plans include ground-floor retail units, around 5,700 square metres of new office space and 26 apartments on its upper floors.

Victoria Embankment Gardens

Residents are celebrating the news that plans for a 650 seated theatre tent to take over Victoria Embankment Gardens have been withdrawn by events company Underbelly. Resident David Codd told the local press: “Open spaces like Victoria Embankment Gardens are held on trust for the public and should be kept for the public benefit and the precious purposes they were designed to service. We sincerely hope that Westminster City Council is open to discussing future uses of the gardens with all stakeholders.”

We are delighted that Underbelly has withdrawn their application for a theatre in the Gardens, following a strong campaign by local residents. We were very happy to support residents and one resident said, “Thank you for your support in raising the profile of the issue”

Embankment Tube Station

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this issue:

“I have become increasingly concerned about danger to pedestrians emerging from Embankment tube station, turning left on the land side Exit and then crossing Northumberland Avenue westwards to Whitehall Place en route to the Ministry of Defence and other large government offices in that area where they work; and then the reverse journey in the evenings.

This crossing has been perilous for several years but it has been made more so by the insertion of a bicycle lane at the traffic lights where Northumberland Avenue joins the embankment, thus making the streams of traffic in each direction slower and heavier. The place for traffic lights is surely further north up Northumberland Avenue to accommodate these pedestrians coming from Embankment Tube Station to go West or from Whitehall Place to go East. At the moment they need to thread through stationary or slowly moving traffic on Northumberland Avenue.”

80 Jermyn Street

Following our support for the Franses Tapestry and Gallery we are delighted that the Planning Committee granted a Lawful Development Certificate for the mix of uses at 80 Jermyn Street comprising retail, depository, research centre, archive library, consultancy, publishing, and conservation for historic tapestries, textile art and carpets at basement and ground level (sui generis). We hope that this Lawful Development Certificate will help to stop the attempts by the Cavendish Hotel to evict the Franses Gallery from its long-standing premises.

Nightclubs in the Jermyn Street area

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue after receiving this enquiry:

“I just wondered, seeing the problems of the surge in drug use in Soho, what your views were on the licensing of nightclubs in the neighbouring streets of St. James.  It seems that these clubs encourage anti-social behaviour and use of drugs (especially in quiet areas behind Jermyn St.).  They seem out of place here, given the upmarket shops and restaurants which are world renowned.  Like Soho, these are residential areas too. Is anything being done to encourage Westminster to limit licenses here?”

Soho and Covent Garden Housing Estate Office

We are very disappointed that City West Homes has decided to go ahead with its decision to close the Soho and Covent Garden Housing Office and relocate the staff to LIsson Green.

Following pressure from unhappy residents and the Labour Action Team, City West Homes has agreed to continue to use the current Soho office location in Broadwick Street to run two surgeries each week while they identify a permanent meeting space for the local area. CWH are also working with Ingestre Court residents’ association who have identified the Ingestre Court courtyard as a possible location for building a community meeting room.

Our major concern is be about emergency response. The new system has to work properly – in other words, the emergency response team need to be genuinely responsive, ready to support at all times, and residents need to be assured it will work. In addition, there needs to be individuals who work within the response team who are known to residents so they feel reassured they can have that personal relationship.

Queen Mother Sports Centre

Plans to build a 50 metre Olympic-size swimming pool and diving area in the redeveloped Queen Mother Sports Centre would send the cost of rebuilding the new Sports Centre soaring to £35 million and lead to the development of a huge towering building on the site, in order to pay for the costs of the new facilities, Labour Councillors have warned.

We have also warned that if the development above the Sports Centre is residential then there would likely be no affordable homes as all the ‘community benefit’ would go towards paying for the new Olympic size pool and sports centre. It is very likely that the Council would want the new £35 million sports centre to be built at no cost to the Council, as in the case of the new Moberly Sports Centre in Queen’s Park where two large luxury residential developments are being built to pay for the new Sports Centre.

In a letter to the Council, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg says:

“Why is a 50m pool needed and will it be accompanied by spectator facilities? Such extensive facilities would take it from being a local facility to being a major London water sports location with local residents competing with users and clubs from all over London and the South East. While this will be welcomed by the enthusiasts from far and wide and will make more money, it could well ‘crowd out’ the local community.”

“I am also concerned that such an extensive facility costing in excess of £35m will also require a very large commercial component to pay for it, creating an oversized building which dominates the area. The Victoria area is already full of very large commercial buildings which are unpopular locally and this could add another. We can already see the new Willmott Dixon building at the back of the Jubilee Centre towering over everything else in the area as the price the Queen’s Park community has to pay for the new Moberly development. If this is the way forward for how the new Queen Mother Sports Centre will paid for I can envisage another big local campaign to oppose it and am disappointed that the Council has learnt nothing from the Jubilee/Moberly fiasco. The Planning system offers few safeguards with the Council responsible for giving itself planning permission for a development that it is promoting.”

Finally, a 50 metre Olympic size swimming pool with diving facilities is not mentioned in the consultation documents.

Over 300 people signed the petition calling on the Council to protect the existing sports and health facilities at the Queen Mother Sports Centre. 

West End buses

Transport for London has launched a consultation on proposed changes to 23 bus routes serving central London. TfL says:

“The proposals will help buses get to and through central London quickly and reliably and better match bus services with demand across the city. Ensuring that we have the right level of bus provision is crucial in ensuring central London works well and these proposals ‎respond to the changing ways people are travelling across central London. Improved services on the Tube and Overground, Night Tube and the new one-hour ‘Hopper’ bus fare have affected how our customers travel. The opening of the Elizabeth line in 2018 will further transform how people move about in Central London.

In response, we are reviewing bus services so we can provide the right level of service, and boost frequencies outside of central London where new developments and increases in population need more services. We also need to ensure there are a sufficient number of buses serving each station on the new Elizabeth line, both in Central London and at outer London stations. 

The Elizabeth line is particularly significant for bus services on Oxford Street, with the two new stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street set to further reduce bus demand on the street. The Mayor is also working with City of Westminster to make Oxford Street more pedestrian friendly. Our proposals for changes to bus services in central London are therefore also designed to start reducing the number of buses running along Oxford Street. The proposals in this consultation would reduce the number of buses going along Oxford Street by around 40 per cent.

This consultation sets out our proposals to change the bus network in central London on routes 3, 6, 8, 15, 22, 25, 23, 46, 73, 137, 172, 242, 332, 390, 425, 452, C2, N2, N3, N8, N15, N22 and N73. Our proposals range in scale depending on the route to help us better match future demand with space available on the bus.

Please visit our website www.tfl.gov.uk/west-end-bus-changes for further detailed informaiton about our proposals to change bus services in central London and to provide your views. Alternatively email us at consultations@tfl.gov.uk. The consultation ends on 29 January 2017.” 

BT phone boxes 

After receiving some very helpful information from a local resident about the appalling state of many BT phones boxes in the area, we have asked the Council to take this up with BT to get the following phone boxes cleaned and working properly:

  • Piccadilly next to The Ritz – Both these phones have been out of order for over a year. One of the kiosks has exposed electrical wiring and both are extremely filthy and contain a lot of tart cards.
  • Piccadilly – there are a number of dirty phones boxes which do not work including one which has bags of clothes and blankets owned by Roma travelers and another where the cash box has been broken into and kiosk glass spray painted white and the light bulb removed.
  • Cambridge Circus – phone box stinks of urine
  • Rupert Street – two phone boxes stink of urine and full of tart cards
  • Great Windmill Street – one phone box has flyposters on rear of kiosk and tart cards inside and is filthy
  • South Africa House/Strand – three dirty phone boxes and in one the floor soaked in urine constantly. The door is sealed on another.
  • Cockspur Street – three phone boxes in a dirty condition
  • Pall Mall – Two phone boxes are extremely filthy inside and out and have recently been sealed.
  • Charing Cross Road outside Angus steak house – Both phones not working properly and the smell of them was so bad, you could smell them from the bus stop.

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Colin Appleby

Paul Heasman

Your St James’s Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – November 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria

Victoria Embankment Gardens

We are continuing to support residents and have written to the Council to oppose the planning application for a pop-up theatre and bar;

“These gardens provide a vital public amenity in this busy part of London, one that provides a space of tranquillity for both local residents and office workers alike. This application would breach the council’s own Open Space Strategy that aims at ‘Protecting all open spaces, and their quality, heritage and ecological value, tranquillity and amenity…’. The proposed structure will significantly increase noise levels, particularly at night, in an area which is already facing stress. There will be significant noise before performances (rehearsals and attendees arriving for events), during performances and after performances (when attendees leave are allowed to drink for up to 2 two hours until midnight on some evenings. There could be up to 650 people attending.” 

Residents say:

“Westminster Council want to develop a large part of Victoria Embankment Gardens for commercial use. The council is supporting Underbelly Ltd in applying to construct a huge tent dominating the heart of the gardens, one of London’s most historic parks, for large-scale theatre productions eight times a week for over nine months a year, initially for three years.

“What confidence can users of the park have in a fair planning process where the council itself will make a substantial profit from the venture? Those in the council’s events team, who are promoting the project, and the planning department responsible for approving the application even report to the same councillor – deputy leader Robert Davis.”

Parliament Square

Following our enquiries about pedestrian crossings, Transport for London have told us:

“As part of the East-West Cycle Superhighway scheme we installed two new pedestrian crossings on the northern and eastern arms of Parliament Square. In addition, pavements at several other junctions were widened to reduce the distance to cross. A set amount of “green man” time is given at these crossings, which is standard across London. This amount of time has not changed since the introduction of the Cycle Superhighway. Following the completion of the route between Parliament Square and Tower Hill, we have been reviewing the traffic signal timings to achieve the right balance for all road users. As with any new scheme, there is a bedding-in period where all road users become accustomed to the new junction layout and some increase in travel time is unavoidable due to the reallocation of this road space to cycling facilities. However, we are using traffic management technology to ensure that the traffic signal timing strategies are suitable for different times of day and we will continue to monitor the area and make adjustments as necessary.”

Whitehall

We have asked the Council to investigate these issues:

“On one side, we have Great Scotland Yard building site – the old MOD Library- which was demolished last year with great haste. After 5 months of silence, we have been told that yet another contractor has gone bankrupt and there seems very little progress on site. Why were they allowed to demolish the existing building at such speed (and put us through hellish noise for months including Saturdays) and now are allowed to do nothing for months leaving a gaping hole with no end in sight to this?”

“Tramps, have taken up residence outside our building. We have called the police, and the council on many occasions, due to noise, stench, drug taking and other anti social activities taking place. The city inspector keeps on assuring us they will be moved on, but nothing seems to happen. We have been woken up by their shouting, cursed at, followed and intimidated daily. We literally can’t open our living room blinds as we our trying to protect our young children and ourselves from horrific scenes below. It is not fair that we have been forced to live in fear for our safety and nothing appears to be done”

“The two pubs – Silver Cross and Walkers of Whitehall who both seem to change ownership and management every few months and have shown high disregard for the residents. They allow their customers to drink and smoke literally outside our front door, they never clean up after them, and change their elevations without following planning procedures. Why can’t they be brought in line and required to control the noise, and clean up after their customers outside and limit their numbers so we have safe passage to our front door free of intimidation and physical obstruction?”

Craig’s Court

We have asked the Council to contact BT about this issue:

“BT Telephone Exchange is in Craig’s Court. From early 2016 they have compiled a number of generators in the courtyard without any regard for the residents. There doesn’t seem to be any prospect of them moving the unsightly and noisy generators, instead they fenced it and painted it white, which does nothing to aid the problems of residents on the higher floors- as we still see all of the machines and are exposed to their smell and noise. We have also been told by the city inspector that the council would have moved the tramps but can’t since they are technically (even though one of them sleeps on the pavement) on the property of BT. We plead with you to look into this, and make BT offer us reasonable timetable for moving the generators and/or find another solution for their storage as well as to work with the council to move the tramps.”

Jermyn Street/Duke Street

Pans by The Cavendish Hotel to create two shops on the corner of Duke Street and Jermyn Street mean tapestries and textiles specialist S Franses will be forced to leave the premises that has been its home for more than 25 years. More than 50 objections have been lodged with Westminster City Council against the plans and St James’s dealer Philip Mould has spoken out.

“We are strongly against the replacement of art galleries in St James’s with more fashion houses. Historically many of the finest art institutions in the world were established in St James’s. The Royal Academy, National Gallery and the dealers in Mayfair and St James’s being big draws for art lovers from around the world. Over the past ten years many if not most of the Mayfair and St James’s galleries and art businesses have been forced to relocate due to extortionate rental increases and the re-development of the neighbourhood.”

The Planning Committee is due to hear the Cavendish Hotel application in December. You can make comments here quoting reference 15/11669/FULL https://www.westminster.gov.uk/comment-planning-application

St James’s Art District

We are supporting gallery owners in the St James’s area who are to form a pressure group in the hope of preserving the area as an art and antiques hub. The new association, called St James’s Art District, comes in the wake of a series of property deals and developments that threaten to change the character of the area. 

Bow Street Magistrates Court

Bow Street Magistrates Court in Covent Garden has been acquired by Business Trading Company who plan to convert site into a luxury boutique hotel. The building, which was built in 1881, was also home of the Bow Street Runners, London’s first professional police force. There are plans to build a museum showcasing policing artefacts as part of the redevelopment.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/10/31/bow-street-magistrates-court-snapped-up-by-qatari-investor-for-l/

Joe Allen, Exeter Street

We are making enquiries with the Council about the reported threat to the iconic Joe Allen restaurant in Exeter Street due to the plans to develop the new Wellington Hotel. http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/iconic-theatreland-restaurant-joe-allen-may-close-to-make-way-for-de-niro-hotel-a3397821.html

Police update

Police arrested 18 people after a swoop on human traffickers in Chinatown and Soho. Officers raided six properties believed to be operating as brothels and exploiting women for prostitution. The commercial units – in Newport Court, Archer Street, Dean Street, Rupert Street and Shaftesbury Avenue – were all thought to be running under the guise of massage parlours.

Queen Mother Sports Centre

The Council has started consultation on the redevelopment of the Queen Mother Sports Centre and surrounding area and is asking for residents’ views. You can get details here https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/development-op-framework-UVBR

A number of residents have already expressed concerns about what this might involve: 

“I live on Vauxhall Bridge Road and have done so for many years.  The site of the proposed development is a low rise part of old Victoria and retains a village-like ambience with thriving independent shops. Having watched Victoria suffer from developments of banal architecture, none of which have involved building social housing, I am dismayed at yet another corporate interest moving in to my area.” 

“There are enough grotesque, huge, ugly new office buildings in nearby Victoria Street without ruining pretty, historic Pimlico with this proposed development. Also the Queen Mother Sports Centre is a fantastic community hub, a space that keeps adults and school kids fit and interacting with their neighbours. I have been swimming at the Queen Mother Sports Centre for 30 years – I have a bad back and keeping fit keeps me out of the NHS! Its loss, even whilst any building work is being taking place, would have drastic repercussions for those who use the centre. I know the character of an area means nothing to Westminster Council – just look at the ruination of Art Deco Marsham Street and the proposed ruination of lower Horseferry Road – but Pimlico is a gem that attracts people from all over the world because of its uniqueness. The area does not need another office block or luxury flats which will do nothing to enhance or improve the area. It will only benefit the pocket s of the property developers. Please help keep Pimlico Pimlico!”

“I have just read about the proposed re development of the Queen Mother Sport Centre and am horrified at what is happening to an area that I have known and loved for almost seventy years. I live in Abbey Orchard Street and we have the Scotland Yard redevelopment to look forward to with six enormous tower blocks replacing what was there. The Sports centre is used by schools as well as the elderly and general working people. Westminster City Council need to wake up and show more respect for the residents who have faithfully paid their council tax, parking fees , rents and money for other facilities for many years. They need to step back from the developers who just want to make a fast buck without living, working or caring what happens to Westminster.”

Please let us know what you think.

We have started a petition:

“We, the undersigned, call upon Westminster Council to protect the leisure and health services currently offered by the Queen Mother Sports Centre on Vauxhall Bridge Road, and raise concerns about the current Council consultation for the site and surrounding areas. 

We want a sports centre to remain on the site with the same square footage and space with no reduction in size for the gym, pool, health clinic and other facilities presently offered. 

The Queen Mother Sports Centre is an important community asset which is much used and valued by local residents and workers. Any changes should only seek to improve facilities rather than reduce them, and ensure that charges remain affordable for the majority of current users.” 

Westminster Almshouses, Rochester Row

The Westminster Almshouses Foundation has told us:

“From time to time we have vacancies in our sheltered housing scheme in Rochester Row. We offer self-contained accommodation with the services of an on site scheme manager. In order to qualify, applicants must be currently residing in Westminster, be over 60 years of age and have less than £100,000 in cash or assets. Flats are for single occupancy only and applicants must be able to live independently. Priority is given to applicants not currently in sheltered housing accommodation.”

For more information contact the Foundation on 020 7828 3131 or email cristina@westminsteralmshouses.com 

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.”

What you say

“Keep up the great work!”

“I receive your excellent e-newsletter and just forwarded it to a local friend who made the observation that the blue plaque Joseph Conrad lived in at Gillingham Street may come down through this development – thought it was worth passing on in case it helped!”

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

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – October 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria

Drury Lane

We are supporting residents of Broad Court who are opposing plans for 8 tables, 16 chairs, 3 parasols and 10 planters outside the restaurant at 43 Drury Lane London WC2B 5AJ. Residents say:

It’s an application for a ridiculous number of tables and chairs outside a restaurant in Drury Lane. The pavement there is narrow already and if it’s approved it’ll block the pavement as well as add to the ongoing issues we have with rubbish and noise.”

You can make your comments at http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OCQG72RPIH500

Jermyn Street

We are supporting the Frances Gallery in Jermyn Street who fears the Cavendish hotel’s expansion plans will mean the eviction of his 100-year-old family business from St James’s. Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street has lodged plans with the Council to expand its ground floor. If approved, Simon Franses says his business will be replaced by two new retail units. Also, the unique and world renowned Frances Tapestry Archive would be evicted.

See http://www.westendextra.com/mayfair-art-capital

Victoria Street/Artillery Row

The Council has agreed to carry out safety improvements at the junction of Victoria Street/Artillery Row. The aim of the proposals is to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users using the junction. The highway improvements include:

  • New diagonal crossings through the junction
  • Modifications to the alignment of the existing straight across crossings
  • Upgrade of existing traffic signals at the junction to accommodate the new diagonal crossings and the modified straight across crossings
  • New Advanced Stop Lines cycle reservoirs on all approach arms of the junction
  • New carriageway surfacing and skid resistant treatments on three of the approaches
  • Improved public lighting

Parliament Square

We have asked TfL to investigate this issue:

“I am sure the council are well aware of the chaos that has been caused all around Westminster by the new cycle lanes. However. the situation in and around Parliament Square is a nightmare. Traffic is gridlocked even at 10pm and backs up all the way along the Embankment in both directions and now even causes Horseferry Road to snarl up. As a pedestrian crossing Parliament Square I am in constant fear of getting knocked over as the time at the crossings has been reduced to accommodate cyclists who now come from all directions. I have seen numerous near misses and it is only a matter of time before someone is killed. Most residents probably welcome improved conditions for cyclists, but not at the expense of traffic grinding to a halt. When taking buses or taxis, we now have to allow double the normal travel time. It would be great if some amendments could be made by TFL to rethink the program and improve the flow of traffic.”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation Update

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan has responded to two questions from London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore on the proposal to pedestrianise Oxford Street:

Question from Andrew Dismore – How will pedestrianisation impact on residential areas north and south of Oxford Street including Fitzrovia, Soho, north Mayfair and Marylebone, home to over 10,000 residents; and in particular will buses and taxis that presently use Oxford Street be diverted to streets like Wigmore Street and Mortimer Street increasing pollution and congestion for residents living there?

Written response from the Mayor – I appreciate the concerns you raise about the potential impact on residents and businesses. That is why I have instructed TfL to look at ways of reducing traffic, not merely transferring it. This will include looking at how the bus network operates, providing more ranks for taxis and consolidating freight trips. I recognise that it is essential that any scheme offers benefits that spread beyond Oxford Street into its surrounding neighbourhoods. The current crowding, casualties and congestion on Oxford Street must though to be addressed and the opening of the Elizabeth line in December 2018 provides the opportunity to solve these problems with radical changes to Oxford Street and the surrounding areas.

Question from Andrew Dismore – Do you agree on the importance of consulting local residents north and south of Oxford Street including Fitzrovia, Soho, north Mayfair and Marylebone over your plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street? And if so what plans do you have for such consultation and when will it take place?

Written response from the Mayor – Yes, it is of upmost importance to consult with local residents, businesses and those who travel to and through the district. Full and detailed consultation will be undertaken. I will provide more details of the timetable for consultation later in the year.

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 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.

Victoria Embankment Gardens – what you say

“You are spot on regarding the Victoria Embankment Gardens. There are 26 theatres within 6 minutes walk of my flat in John Adam Street – surely enough.  As commercial venture the “temporary” theatre in the gardens would have all the financial advantages of no council rates to pay, no buildings to upkeep, etc. etc., while all the while depriving the residents and many overseas visitors enjoying a garden adjacent to the Thames. “

“We have opposed the planning application 16/07679/FULL. This application highlights a serious point about the direction Westminster Council is taking with regards to our parks and gardens. In fact Victoria Embankment gardens have a large tent in them today, and as residents we received no notification that this tent was to be erected there. These gardens are mainly for the use of residents, workers and visitors to the area, why is the Council intent on renting them out as entertainment venues?”

What you say

“You guys do some great work locally and I wish you the best.”

“Thanks for the latest newsletter. For me the most important local issue is pollution. I have lived locally for many years and it’s much worse and is really posing serious health problems. My husband’s asthma is much worse now.”

“Thank you very much for these informative emails.”

“Once again, many thanks for all your efforts”

“Many thanks for this message and the report of such excellent work being done. Heartening in a time when both public and private services engender little confidence. Long may you continue to be effective!”

“Well done with this work. Thank you for your persistent support for us residents. “

“Very many thanks as usual for a thorough and proactive report”

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group
ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – September 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria

Victoria Embankment Gardens

We are supporting residents who are opposing plans for a large music tent on Victoria Embankment Gardens (planning application 16/07679/Full). Residents say:

“The proposal contradicts the council’s own policy regarding open spaces. Its Open Space Strategy aims to address the public’s needs by “Protecting all open spaces, and their quality, heritage and ecological value, tranquility and amenity…’. The proposed large and unobtrusive structure will emit loud noise and will have a detrimental effect on the quality of this open space.

It would be a shame if the garden could no longer be enjoyed by the public because it was given over to a commercial enterprise. This garden is a little oasis in this busy part of London which is used by children from local families and nurseries, residents and by people working locally. The proposed structure would be obtrusive and detrimental to the peaceful nature of the award winning gardens.”

8.5 months is a very long duration for a ‘temporary’ structure. There will be significant noise before performances (rehearsals and attendees arriving for events), during performances and after performances (when attendees leave are allowed to drink for up to 2 two hours until midnight on some evenings. 

I went door-to-door on streets which will be effected (including Craven Street, John Adam Street, Buckingham Street and York Buildings) to canvas opinions on the matter and discovered that most residents had no prior knowledge of the application but felt strongly against it. It is, therefore, even more significant that around 70 public objections have been lodged on Westminster Council’s website to date.” 

See http://www.westendextra.com/embankmentmusictent

Soho and Covent Garden Housing Office

Westminster Council and City West Homes are planning to close the Soho and Covent Garden Housing office in Broadwick Street and relocate the staff and services to Lisson Green. The Office manages CWH property art Dufours Place, Irving House, 47 Old Compton Street, 17 Berwick Street, Kemp House, City of Westminster dwellings and Marlett Court which include Fletcher, Beaumont and Sheridan buildings. As part of the cost-cutting exercise they plan to let the office to a commercial concern. We have started a petition to keep the office open:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-open-the-soho-and-covent-garden-housing-office?source=twitter-share-button

This is what residents say:

“CWH has given their reasons for the closure, but without any prior consultation. 1. Confidence in CWH among residents is already low, this is likely to make things worse. 2. There will be a loss of convenience for both residents and CWH staff. 3. The premises are for community use, so Westminster Council should not be considering letting commercially.”

“The office has been so supportive because my Gran lives in the block and does not speak English. Other Chinese residents also live there and do not speak English but the office helps them when they have lost their key. And help them immediately when they have issues with reporting about the plumbing issues. The office is vital – there are so many elderly residents and the office provides essential support.”

“It’s essential we should retain an Estate Office in our area, given the hundreds of residents who will be affected by its closure. Considering the problems being experienced by so many CityWest Homes residents in Soho, the loss of a nearby Estate Office to which they can turn for help and support would be frightful.”

The Strand

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Westminster Council seem to confuse sweeping streets with clean streets. We live near the Strand and the combination of rough sleepers Sainsbury, McDonald’s and Itsu at the south west end near Charing Cross have left the pavement impregnated with grime. It is black with ground-in dirt and is sticky to walk on. To give them credit, after my last broadside McDonald’s have cleaned outside their restaurant. Similar to most well cared for capitals we need our most popular streets to be jet washed as well as swept, or like some capitals make owners responsible for washing their own pavements.”

The Council tells us:

“Thanks for identifying this street cleanliness issue on the south side of the Strand. While this sort of pavement staining is synonymous with high levels of pedestrian footfall, we arranged to divert one of our flushing vehicles to clean this section early this morning. If residents wish to report street cleansing issues in the future, they are free to use the council’s report it tool at the following website: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it

Charing Cross Road

We have raised with the Police and Camden Council the anti-social behaviour involving drugs near bus stop on Charing Cross Road heading south on the Camden side.

Wilton Road – Update

Following our enquiries, TfL have updated us on the action has been taken, as follows:

“An inspection of the Wilton Road footway, from Victoria Street to the junction of Bridge Place/ Neathouse Place, has been carried out. We acknowledge there were a few loose slabs and blocks and have subsequently carried out maintenance works to improve the area. “

The resident who reported this commented:

“Most gracious of you to keep me in the loop and very pleased you managed to obtain action from TfL. That pavement has little impact on my life but is a disgrace for the millions of tourists who disgorge from that rear entrance/exit of Victoria Station to the tourist hotels of Pimlico and Victoria (not to mention commuters and theatre-goers).”

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

“Thank you for your intervention. I had every confidence your involvement would get the point across for the benefit of others, but an immediate 100% refund, with all the chasing about it has saved me, is a fantastic response. That sense of powerless against bureaucracy that we so often feel is significantly reduced knowing you are there and so willing to take up our issues.

“Thanks for your circular.”

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

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – August 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria

Westminster Fire Station – update

Property developers Alchemi Group have revealed plans to turn Westminster Fire Station into 17 luxury flats and a ground-floor restaurant. The plans also include a single-storey basement that will be excavated underneath the entire site. There will be no affordable flats offered on-site. The sale price of £9.6m, in Greycoat Place, Victoria, was revealed in a question to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Artemis Kassi, chair of the Friends of Westminster Fire Station group, who led the campaign to keep the station in use, said the building’s £9.6m price tag was “ridiculous”.

 “To say that the land itself is only worth £9.6m is ridiculous when flats around the corner on Victoria Street are going for in excess of £1m. It’s absurdly insulting to all Londoners.”

According to the ‘West End Extra’, neighbouring residents living in Artillery Mansions, adjacent to the former fire station’s courtyard, have complained about the “monolithic scale” of the new-build flats and lack of community use. Local campaign group the Thorney Island Society have also raised concerns over the lack of affordable housing and the overshadowing of neighbouring properties.

http://www.westendextra.com/fire-station-sale

Quietway cycle route from Bloomsbury to South Bank – update

The proposed Quietway cycle route from Bloomsbury to South Bank, which forms part of the Central London Cycle Grid in Westminster, is due to be implemented by December 2016. The Central London Cycle Grid is part of the Mayor of London’s Cycle Vision for London and will be fully funded by Transport for London.

A proposed Quietway cycle route from Bloomsbury to South Bank would improve cycling along quieter streets, particularly for people wishing to avoid some of the busier main roads in the area. The section within the City of Westminster is approximately 800 metres in length. The streets affected are Endell Street, Long Acre, Bow Street, Wellington Street, Lancaster Place and Waterloo Bridge. The proposed cycle route will continue into the London Borough of Camden to the north and the London Borough of Lambeth to the south.

Proposals include improvements for cycling and pedestrians at key locations along the proposed alignment of this route. In Wellington Street, between Russell Street and Exeter Street, proposals include resurfacing the carriageway, and provision of a new raised table at the junction of Wellington Street and Tavistock Street, to help slow vehicle speeds and help pedestrians to cross the road more easily. Pedestrians will also benefit from widened footways. In Wellington Street, between Exeter Street and Strand, proposals include creating a new public space with a two-way cycle track on the eastern side. Access for general vehicle traffic to this area will be restricted, but servicing access will be retained.

The proposals also include improvements for cycling across Waterloo Bridge. In February 2016 the existing southbound cycle lane on Waterloo Bridge was made a mandatory cycle lane and widened to 2.0 metres. To further improve the provision for cycle traffic, particularly more vulnerable cyclists, it is proposed to extend the hours of operation of the southbound bus lane over Waterloo Bridge from 7am-7pm to 24 hour operation. This will permit only cyclists, taxis, powered two-wheelers and buses to use this bus lane at all times.

Planning Update

The Planning Committee has approved the following proposals:

  • Robert De Niro has been given the go ahead to develop the Wellington Hotel in Covent Garden, an 83-room complex featuring a spa, private members’ club and retail area.
  • a retrospective application for an extension of Victory House, Leicester Square, to provide an additional six bedrooms to the hotel currently being built;
  • the continuation of the use of the basement of 10a Craven Street on a permanent basis for auditions, rehearsals and teaching of courses for film-making
  • the extension of Tamarind restaurant on Queen Street into an office space
  • the removal of the existing mansard roof (7th floor) of 24 Carlton House Terrace and its replacement with two new floors to create a duplex four-bedroom flat with roof terrace at the eight floor.

Victoria Station area – what you say

“The filth of rough sleepers and beggars around Victoria Station, in particular along Wilton Street.  is a most unwelcome sight for visitors arriving in London. Our grandson visiting from California, age 11, commented on how dirty London is!”

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

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

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please ask them to email me a pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – July 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Covent Garden, St James’s and Victoria

Removal of the Council’s CCTV cameras

We are very concerned about Westminster Council’s decision to switch off all of its 75 crime and disorder cameras across the city from 1 September 2016. Broken down by Ward, 87.8% of incidents captured by CCTV occurred in West End or St James’s wards, with those wards containing 61% of the camera stock. The top 15 cameras for numbers of incidents recorded were all within St James’s or West End wards.

We believe that CCTV provides reassurance to communities across Westminster. Following on from the closure of three of Westminster’s police stations and reduction in the number of police numbers in the safer neighbourhood teams, closing the camera network will cause further public concern and a further reduction in public protection.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, says it sets a dangerous precedent. Speaking to LBC, he said:

“I believe this is the wrong decision by Westminster. It’s causing me to be very concerned, not only what’s happening in Westminster, but what might happen in other boroughs. It might be seen as a signal. It’s ironical that the French, who have very little CCTV in Paris, are actually starting to install it because of the terrorist threat. It would be bizarre if we end up in the West End with very little CCTV.”

You can read more and sign the petition here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-westminster-s-cctv-cameras-turned-on

Charing Cross Road

We have asked the Council to update us on the traffic situation on Charing Cross Road after receiving this enquiry: 

“I would like to ask you about Charing Cross Road – the part between Cambridge Circus and where the works for the new cross rail are going on. The traffic there is horrendous in a morning – first there are the delivery vans, work vans and bin lorries all outside Foyles and the Lord Montague, this is so bad that they constantly block the lead into the bus stop, which means the buses have to stop in the middle of traffic to let passengers on and off – this is itself is dangerous as well as difficult, it also adds to the traffic build up. Then trying to get round the chaos at the cross rail works is a nightmare, no thought has been given to moving the traffic through quickly, or re-routing some of it. I have some mornings (around 0700 to 0730) had to sit on the bus for around half an hour just to get from Cambridge Circus up to cross rail. “

The Council says:

“The traffic is currently being affected by temporary traffic signals controlled by TfL.  These signals are causing problems and under review by TfL on a regular basis.  They are due to be replaced by permanent signals at the end of July 2016 which should improve matters. There are ongoing discussions between us, TfL and Camden to try and manage the situation.  The Crossrail works and Centre Point related works are both causing issues around the major work to reopen Charing Cross Road and whilst we are working with TfL to minimise disruption, there will unfortunately be an ongoing element of disruption until such time as the works are complete. “

Great Newport Street 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“This Sunday morning at 5am I was woken by the sound of noisy glass collection in Great Newport Street. Given that items for recycling should only be put out in the hour before collection, both the establishments generating glass, and the recycling team, are creating a nuisance in the early hours of the morning. This also takes place during the week. Please look into this for me – obviously I’d like the glass recycling collection moved to a time that is neighbourly, and is one that doesn’t allow the establishments of Great Newporrt Street to be flouting the rules and putting out glass just when it suits them.”

Abbey Orchard Street/Old Pye Street area

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue

“I am appalled by the state of the streets and pavements around my area.

The stench from hostel residents and homeless people who urinate, defecate and vomit around this area is terrible and I f eel we are at the point of needing extra heavy duty cleaning of our streets that we are expected to walk around. I am ashamed when friends and relatives visit me. Abbey Orchard Street estate is kept clean and tidy by hardworking employees but even then we have our refuse bins tipped out and rubbish strewn everywhere. I have lived in this area all my life (almost seventy years and things have never been as bad as this) – help!”

The Council says:

“Unfortunately we seem to be experiencing an increase in issues related to rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour at a number of locations across the city. We are deploying our street washing and cleaning staff to known problem areas and adjusting our cleaning schedules on a daily basis as new issues emerge. Our Neighbourhood Problem Solving Co-ordinators’ are also in close liaison with the Metropolitan Police and the council’s Rough Sleeping team to reduce the impact on our residents and visitors.”

Victoria Station area

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

“I notice that the state of the above pavement near to Victoria station and the incoming bus stops of 24/185 and 36/2/436 are in a deplorable state with many loose paving slabs. The pavement is used by thousands of pedestrian travellers every day. “

New Scotland Yard development

We are supporting residents who are campaigning against the proposed development at New Scotland Yard. Residents say:

“I am appealing to you to intervene, specifically in the case of the latest and potentially most damaging development precedent which threatens to replace an acknowledged example of architectural brutalism with a series of futuristic luxury towers which will dominate Westminster and Victoria Street for decades to come.  It replaces the single 20 storey building with six towers at or near 20 storeys. The architecture is considered to have a distinctive quality, however, such a description really reflects that there is no point of connection with any other building and does not contribute to a currently non existent vision for Victoria Street.  While approximately 280 apartments will be built, only 10 of these will represent affordable housing”

Parliament Square – update

Following our enquiries, the Council has told us:

“I have requested TfL review the traffic signal timings and asked the Council’s traffic marshals look into the kerbside activity in Great Smith Street. When I have any news I’ll let you know but hopefully there will be an improvement in on-street conditions shortly.”

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

 

ST JAMES’S WARD ACTION REPORT – MARCH 2016

Abbey Orchard Street

We have asked the Council to investigate parking suspensions in the Abbey Orchard Street area which are causing problems for local residents. The Council says:

“We would like to apologise to the residents of Abbey Orchard Street as we appreciate that the area is under considerable pressure in terms of parking space availability at the best of times. The parking bays in question have been taken out of service in order to facilitate traffic flow and contractor access to the building development works taking place at the junction of Great Smith Street and Victoria Street.  These works will involve the construction of a walkway for the contractors along the carriageway itself which will prevent longer vehicles such as buses, coaches and HGVs from exiting Great Smith Street and turning left onto Victoria Street.  Abbey Orchard Street has therefore had to be altered to become one-way only, with traffic flowing east to west from Great Smith Street towards Perkin’s Rents. 

By way mitigating the loss of local resident parking space, 5 Pay-to-Park spaces along Old Pye Street have been reallocated for use by residents only whilst the building work continues.  This reallocation comprises of the 3 end Pay-to-Park spaces along Old Pye Street nearest to its junction with Perkin’s Rents and Abbey Orchard Street and 2 further spaces along Old Pye Street opposite its junction with St Matthew Street. Whilst I appreciate the area has encountered several suspensions over recent months, this latest series is not anticipated to extend beyond the current expiry date of 11 March 2016.”

Residents say:

“Thanks for investigating the problems we are having around Abbey Orchard Street. The five extra spaces in Old Pye Street will help but it doesn’t change my opinion that residents are not considered at all when parking suspensions are put in place. I’ve yet to see any vehicles diverted along Abbey Orchard Street and non resident permit holders have been parking on the yellow lines between the suspended bays during the weekend. “

 

St James’s Ward Action Report – October 2015

Whitehall

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I wonder if you can assist please with an issue that arose recently at the Westminster Council owned stairs from Whitehall to Westminster Underground station. In September, following a continued period of rain, I slipped down a number of stairs as I entered the station underpass and was only saved from being badly injured and banging my head by the backpack I was wearing (although I did sustain an amount of heavy bruising). I use the stairs and underpass twice a day, 5 days a week and although I have never fallen in this way before, I have before witnessed others having problems with the slippery-ness of the stairs. Not only that, but the underpass can become quite seriously flooded following heavy downpours and given the weight of traffic it is in a really quite unacceptable state. I am seeking reassurance from you that action will be taken to prevent further accidents. Luckily I am quite young and fit but in other cases, the result could be much more serious or even fatal. I look forward to hearing how this is being handled by the Council and what plans you have for remedial action.”

The Council has told us:

“The two staircases leading into the subway from street level are the City Council’s responsibility. Unfortunately both sets of stairs are open to the elements with the result that the stairs are slippery when wet and when the rainfall is particularly heavy, the capacity of the drainage inside the subway is inadequate resulting in standing water at the foot of the stairs. I have asked my contractors responsible for maintaining the steps to look into options for providing a non-slip surface to make the steps safer to use when wet. I will request an investigation to see if we can increase the drainage capacity and reduce the flooding frequencies. I suspect this may be difficult to achieve however but we will see what can be done.”

Ex-council flat in Covent Garden sells for £1.2m – 10 times its original price

Covent Garden flatAn ex-council house has been sold for £1.2m – nearly 10 times the original price when it was purchased under right-to-buy rules, according to a report.

The three-bedroom flat near Covent Garden in central London was bought from Westminster Council in 1990 for £130,000, The Guardian said. The original buyers kept the flat until it was sold recently for £1.2m, just below the first asking price of £1.35m.

The property is in a mansion block – once entirely inhabited by council tenants – near the Royal Opera House.

Barry Marner, of estate agents Barnard Marcus, said: “With central London property prices at a premium and with demand for properties far outstripping supply, we weren’t surprised that this former council flat reached this impressive price.”

St James’s Ward Action Report – June 2015

Westminster Underground Station toilets

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem:

“I have just had the misfortune to use the Ladies Toilets at Westminster Tube Station. They are an utter disgrace. I’ve used cleaner toilets in the Third World. The lighting is only half working, the floor tiles are cracked or missing, the whole place stinks and there is red and black tape over one part of the facilities. How on earth can Westminster charge 50p for such a disgusting place? This should be a show case facility as it is in the heart of so many tourist attractions, not to mention events taking place on Horse Guards Parade so the foot fall through this area is immense. Please contact whoever is responsible for the upkeep and get some action quickly. It lets this City down.”

Pall Mall/St James’s Street

We are investigating this issue;

“There are seven sets of major building works in the area – scaffolding dominates the 200 yards around the junctions of St. James’s Street, Cleveland Row, Marlborough Road and Pall Mall. The building works on the corner of St.James’s/Pall Mall have been there for well over a year; the pedestrian pathway has been completely blocked off; also you take your life in your hands when crossing the road at the junction with Marlborough Road. Has the Council sanctioned all this? And are any more building works planned?”

Floral Street

We are making enquiries about this problem;

“Is there any way of using traffic calming measures in Floral Street, Covent Garden? The junction between James Street and Floral Street is a highly pedestrianised crossing area yet cars, taxis and trucks come through at full speed and instead of using their brakes they use their horns. This despite there being a sign that says “School”.”

St James’s Ward Action Report – April 2014

Whitehall

Residents of Craig’s Court have asked us to investigate this problem;

“Street Cleanliness – due to it being used as a toilet for this whole surrounding area (Whitehall and Trafalgar Square) this street is at best unpleasant and at worst, i.e. every weekend completely disgusting due to the accumulation of smell, rubbish and puddles of urine. We have contacted WCC on numerous occasions and tend to be fobbed off by being told to contact their private cleaning contractors directly. Nobody seems to be accountable, as they rely on the fact that most people will simply give up and move away.”

Scotland Yard Hotel

We are making enquiries about this problem;

“Without informing the residents the works have started in January on demolishing the old Scotland Yard Building (with one facade facing Craig’s Court) in our immediate proximity. The works have been going on between 8-6 every day including 8-1 every Saturday. including heavy noise demolition works on Saturday. When asking the contractors what was going on, they seemed to be completely unaware that there was a residential block next door to their site!?

To our dismay we discovered that the construction works will continue for at least another 2 years and that they will be building yet another hotel!!!

It is not an understatement to say that this really is a disaster, as some residents have been working from home and this noise makes it completely unbearable. The contractors have agreed not to start the works till 9am on Saturdays, however this is still going to render our flats unlivable, and even worse- unsellable and unlettable.

To make it even worse, none of the residents were consulted about the planning permission for this development (there are already 4 hotels in the immediate vicinity including Corinthia which was completed only recently) and there is no parking or any other additional infrastructural elements which would enable this small area support another hotel of 200+ rooms!?
When we enquired at the city council’s planning department they said that we were invited for consultation and that was it. There seems to be no way of proving that we weren’t consulted in the planning application process, other than the fact the construction works started with the Site Manager being completely oblivious to the presence of 20 flats next door !?

The council’s noise department was equally unhelpful, they said that if the noisy works exceed the time limits given they will intervene, as though it is practical for someone to call them every time the contractor oversteps the mark, when most people will simply move out.”

St James’s Ward Action Report – February 2014

St James’s Park

We are making further enquiries with The Royal Parks about this issue;

“Did you have any joy chasing up the fate of the band rotunda in St James’ Park? It’s to the east of the main path from the Blue Bridge up to the Gates on Pall Mall. It used to host very pleasant band concerts in summer giving opportunities for musicians and pleasure to hundreds. It was removed for the Olympics – but I thought the understanding was that everything was to be replaced. This seems to have been quietly axed.”

The Royal Parks say;

“The summer bandstand activities in St James’s Park take place in a temporary structure. Currently we have don’t have a sponsor for the musical content but if you are aware of any potentially interested parties do forward their details to me and I will put them in contact with our events team.”

Drury Lane

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

“My daughter goes to St Clement Danes Primary school on Drury Lane. There is no pedestrian crossing in front of the School, and there are often vans parked across from the school just after the school’s entrance making it very difficult to cross in the morning. I often have my other two smaller children with me making it an even more complicated affair. I have mentioned the subject close to the school governors who seen to say it is a difficult thing to organise. In my understanding this should be a simple matter. In front of a school’s entrance there should be a pedestrian crossing, especially when the pavement is as narrow and the one on Drury Lane and the street as busy. There is a lot of traffic on this street. I wonder if this is a matter you might be able to help with?”

John Adam Street

We have asked the Council to take these comments in to consideration when considering the licensing application for a new restaurant;

“Recently an application was made to the council to transform the lower part of the Adelphi into a huge restaurant….300 seats therefore the evening capacity could easily be almost 1,000 people. I was amazed that this was passed as we are a small narrow street with only one way in and out, and already there is congestion and people having to reverse backward and forwards. Now it appears that there has been a licensing application to have this open from 7.30 all day closing late in the evening. This seems ridiculous in a street which is principally residential and offices, the two bars which are here close at 11. With the addition of staff coming in before and leaving after, we have the potential to change a quiet enclave into a noisy and busy street rather like Villiers Street.”

Haymarket

We asked about the poor state of the road in Haymarket vand have been told the following;

“This street has suffered over the years from shallow utility services, repeated excavations by utilities and other third-parties (which even if done to spec can reduce the life of a street surface), and very high traffic volumes. There is a major scheme planned in partnership with local stakeholders.”

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