Tachbrook Ward

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – April 2018

News from Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson, your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labour’s Manifesto for the 2018 Council Elections

After decades of the Conservatives taking Westminster for granted, residents have a real chance to change the future of this city. Years of cuts have taken their toll on local services, particularly for the most vulnerable.

The Conservatives have put the needs of developers above the needs of the vast majority of local residents. For generations they have failed to build the Council (social rent) and lower (intermediate) rent homes that Westminster needs to give the City a viable future.

Labour has a credible alternative plan that can be delivered today despite the damage being done by the current government. Our communities are calling out for change, and in this manifesto Labour sets out a vision for how things could be run differently, how we will deliver a Westminster for the many not the few if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd 2018.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/labourclp250/pages/1096/attachments/original/1521622381/Westminster_Labour_2018_Manifesto.pdf?1521622381

Lillington and Longmoore Gardens – Gardening Service

We have launched the following petition:

“We the undersigned, being residents of the Lillington & Longmoore Gardens Estate, wish to protest against the contracting out of the gardening service. The decision to privatise the service was taken without resident consultation, just as there was no resident consultation on the closure of the estate office, or the so-called “security” railings installation on Longmoore Gardens, which, in due course, is to be rolled out across Lillington Gardens. Due to the hard work of the in-house gardeners the estate has been awarded the coveted Green Flag for the 11th year running. The gardening team offer invaluable support to the allotment holders and to those who volunteer to run the children’s gardening club. They also facilitate the annual Open Garden Squares Event. We therefore ask that Westminster City Council and CityWest Homes, place the same value as the residents do on the gardening team, rethink their decision and keep the gardening service in-house.”

Dolphin Square

We have written to Westminster City Council to object to Westbrook’s planning application for Dolphin Square on the following grounds:

  • The planning application is contrary to Westminster Unitary Plan policy H2 which opposes the development of short-term let residential property because of the acute shortage of full-time residential accommodation.The planning application seeks to increase the number of serviced apartments from 124 to 205 serviced apartments, almost double the existing. Nowhere in the planning application is the Use Class C1 referred to, despite the serviced apartments in the Dolphin House hotel clearly falling into this category since they are available by the night as apartment hotel units.
  • The proposed new building to replace Rodney House will be out of scale with the surroundings and will interfere particularly with the easterly view of the listed terrace in St George’s Square and St Saviour’s church.
  • The plans seek to replace the internal Dolphin Square shopping arcade with large retail units along Chichester Street which will have a profound adverse effect on the character of the Conversation Area. Also, the shops are likely to attract mainly secondary food take-away outlets due to the general retail shopping downturn. This will have a negative effect on the Conservation Area and provide unhealthy food facilities for children attending Pimlico Academy on the other side of Chichester Street.
  • The Dolphin Square Gardens are already used by residents from the Pimlico area as there are no locked gates, except late at night. For Westbrook to claim that making the gardens ‘public’ would be a gain to the community is clearly false.

Bessborough Place

Following the snow in February and March, residents asked us to contact Peabody to urge them to improve the gritting on the pavements and roads. Peabody has now told us the following:

“Regrettably, Tenon, our cleaning contractor at Bessborough Place did not adequately grit the property. When we inspected and found this to be the case, our in house caretaking team attended site to improve the situation. We have met with Tenon to discuss their performance and confirm what we expect during periods of heavy snowfall. A plan is now in place to ensure a more wide spread gritting programme if the bad weather returns. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention”

Henry Wise House

We have reported a water leak outside Henry Wise House to City West Homes who have told us the following:

“Wehave relayed the constant on-going issue for our residents to Thames Water. Residents have been suffering as a consequence of failures to the burst water mains at Henry Wise House. Thames Water say they are dealing with Emergency situations across all of London off the back of two week’s severe weather across all of London.I can assure you we are doing everything we can and will follow up on this daily.”

Claverton Street 

We have raised this issue with City West Homes: 

“I have asked a number of times as to why the street properties in Claverton Street have not been decorated external for over ten years, and can never get a reply just avoidance of the topic, and consequently the houses are looking very sad, neglected and shabby. They were due to be done when Pimlico School was being demolished and rebuilt, so it was decided that due to the dust – the procedure would be delayed and then commenced once the school was finished. Well it hasn’t as yet been done!!!!”

Malcolmson House 

We are helping residents in Malcolmson House housing issues and have written to Peabody. 

Litter

We have welcomed the increased on-the-spot fines of up to £150 for dropping litter, including from vehicles.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43609325

25 more ‘Nightmare Stories’ from City West Homes

In January 2018, we unveiled a dossier of ’20 Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’. The reaction to this from tenants and leaseholders was overwhelming, with many more ‘nightmare stories’ coming to light from all over Westminster. Residents are angry with the very poor performance of City West Homes, particularly following the recent debacles over the new call centre and the repairs contract.

We have followed this up with ‘25 More Nightmare stories from City West Homes’ with details of:

  • Continued long waits on the telephone to report problems to the CWH call centre
  • Failure to deal with emergencies quickly
  • Lack of communication between CWH and its tenants and leaseholders
  • Poor communications between CWH and its contractors
  • Failure of CWH to return calls from tenants and leaseholders
  • Broken appointments by CWH contractors

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/labour-launch-further-report-on-25-more-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Welcome for extra police on the beat

We have welcomed welcomed the Mayor’s decision to invest an additional £59m annually to support an extra 1,000 police officers by using income raised from business rates. This will help avoid falling police numbers due to Government cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget.

We have also welcomed the Mayor’s announcement that he is creating a brand new £45million fund to help young Londoners who are at risk of getting caught up in crime. The Mayor’s new Young Londoners Fund will see £15m invested in each of the next three years, beginning from April. Of the total new funding, £10million a year will make up a new fund into which local communities, charities and schools will be able to bid for funds, and £5million a year will be invested to scale up existing projects funded from City Hall that are already supporting young Londoners.

In addition, over 1,800 people have signed Westminster Labour’s petition to halt the Government’s further £400 million cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget.

The petition to Parliament, https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543, runs until 27th April.

Register to vote

The local Westminster City Council elections are on Thursday 3 May.

If you aren’t already registered to vote, you need to do so to vote in this local election.  The deadline to register at gov.uk/register-to-vote is Wednesday 17 April. It only takes a few minutes. 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 this new location.

The other key dates are the postal vote application deadline which is 5pm, on Wednesday 18 April and the proxy vote application deadline is 5pm, Wednesday 25 April.

EU citizens are able to vote in these local elections.

You can get more information by visiting www.westminster.gov.uk/westminster-city-council-election-2018

Dolphin Square – what you say

“Westbrook’s proposal does nothing to increase the availability of affordable housing in Westminster.  For the duration of the works, which are almost certain to exceed the 5 years projected by Westbrook, the health and well-being of Dolphin Square residents, residents of neighbouring housing and pupils and staff at the Pimlico Academy, is likely to suffer.

While the new homes proposed may be decent, they are unlikely to be affordable to the majority of people who live or work in Westminster, even those earning twice the national average income.The plans envisage Dolphin Square becoming a collection of apartments let on short-term term contracts, with the erosion of the existing community, which will be replaced by a transient population with no stake in the neighbourhood.”

What you say

“Thank you so very much for dealing with this and also chasing – much appreciated indeed!”

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

 Regards

 

Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson,

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help

 

tachbrook.labour@gmail.com

Promoted by and on behalf of Westminster Labour Party at 4G Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

 

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – March 2018

News from Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson, your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Conrad House, Lillington Gardens

We asked City West Homes to replace a broken door in Joseph Conrad House and clear up rubbish dumped on the stairs.

Dolphin Square

We have written to the Council to register our objections to the Westbrook plans for Dolphin Square.

Vauxhall Bridge Road taxi rank

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue:

“Back in 2016 part of Upper Tachbrook Street, from Longmore Street to Vauxhall Bridge Road, was changed to one way to stop it being used as the overflow from the taxi rank in Vauxhall Bridge Road. This was causing serious problems in Upper Tachbrook Street as the taxis were double parking. We still have lots of vehicles driving the wrong way into Vauxhall Bridge Road, including the taxis who must know by now it is a one way street, but the taxis are now causing a different problem.

When the taxi rank that run along Vauxhall Bridge Road is full, which it often is, they wait with their hazard lights on along the red route either side of Upper Tachbrook Street. Please see photos attached. The traffic travelling towards Victoria from Vauxhall Bridge is suddenly reduced to one lane because of the taxis parked up. All traffic, buses, lorries, cars, vans and cyclists all have to indicate and try to move out to drive around the parked taxis. Is it not illegal to stop on a double red route?

Could we please ask for your help with the matter as if this is allowed to continue there is going to be a serious accident.”

Bessborough Place

We asked Peabody to ensure that the estate is gritted during the cold weather to maintain safety for older and infirm residents. Residents say:

“Our estate has many elderly frail residents. When our pavement and road surface become icy our old people are marooned at home as they cannot go out as they will probably slip and hurt themselves.  If the ice lasts some of these old people cannot leave their homes for days at a time.”

Labour’s Five Point Plan for CityWest Homes

Residents are angry with the very poor performance of CityWest Homes. Service standards have clearly deteriorated after Conservative council cuts to the housing management budget, the closure of local estate offices and the bungled introduction of a new call centre and repairs contract.

A Labour Council would immediately put CityWest on notice so that if its performance does not rapidly improve it will be stopped from managing the council’s properties.

  • From day one, Labour will take action to end the repairs crisis and improve the way CityWest treats residents.
  • We will re-establish local estate offices.
  • We will urgently look at further ways to improve the failing call centre system.
  • We will give residents a greater say over how their homes are managed.
  • We will introduce a new leaseholders’ charter to improve support to resident leaseholders and look to limit huge major works bills

Giving residents a powerful voice in the planning process

For too long Westminster Conservatives have treated residents as an afterthought in a planning process geared towards the needs of major developers. If elected to run the Council in May, Labour will radically reform how the planning system operates to put residents first.

Labour’s reforms include:

  • Giving residents the right to speak at Planning committee meetings to present their case. Westminster is virtually alone amongst local authorities in preventing residents from doing so.
  • Providing more information explaining how the planning system works, including jargon busting, to help residents find the relevant information that explain what is being proposed for their area and have their say. The Council would also use social media to encourage resident engagement on key decisions.
  • Establishing a ‘Design Panel for Westminster’ to allow professional architects, other experts and interested residents to give external advice to planning committees on design aspects of major planning proposals.
  • Creating a new Strategic Projects Planning committee with a larger than normal membership to prevent major applications being dominated by the whims of over-powerful individual Councillors such as Tory Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davis.

Keeping the Council Tax low

If elected in May Westminster, Labour will keep Council Tax low. Labour will support the current proposals by the Council for a freeze in the Council Tax rate and a 2% rise in the adult social care precept in 2018/19. If elected, we will not raise the council tax and adult social care precept by any more than the Conservatives have over recent years.

Council Tax is always an emotive issue. Westminster Council receives the highest levels of parking revenue (£73.2m) in the country as well as substantial commercial income from its large Central London property portfolio (£42.8m) that help prop up its finances far more than in other boroughs. Westminster also has a long-track record of under-investing in its public services and its upcoming budget plans to cut over £3 million from services for children and young people and £2 million from rough sleeping and supported housing.

Due the impact of crippling Conservative Government cuts to local council funding, Westminster Conservatives have raised the Council Tax (including the adult social care precept) every year since 2016.

Building genuinely affordable homes

If Labour wins the Council, we will create a new type of affordable housing –  Westminster Key Worker Homes. We will commit that, in addition to social housing, all new affordable housing built on council land will be at rents that are affordable to residents on average and below average incomes. We will ensure that these homes are focused on providing opportunities for long-standing residents of Westminster and key workers such as nurses, teachers, firefighters and the police.

Labour’s pledge on Cleaner Streets

Mattresses and other household objects dumped on our street corners have become an all too common a sight. A Labour council will rigorously focus on fly-tipping and bulky waste dumping and we have made a number of commitments that will help tackle the problem. If elected in May 2018:

  • Labour will urgently reform the fees and charges for bulky waste collection, restoring a ‘first time free’collection and reducing costs for standard collections.
  • We will develop a new ‘express collection’bulky waste removal service.
  • We will look further at the use of mobile cameras to help enforcement at fly-tipping hotspots and at ways to increase fines for dumping.
  • As part of our support for a new Private Renters Charter we will improve the information provided to landlords, letting agents and tenants.
  • We will provide a smartphone App to make it easier for residents to make use of the Council’s ‘report it’ service, helping further target the worst affected areas.

Register to vote

The local Westminster City Council elections are on Thursday 3 May.

If you aren’t already registered to vote, you need to do so to vote in this local election.  The deadline to register at gov.uk/register-to-vote is Wednesday 17 April. It only takes a few minutes. 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 this new location.

The other key dates are the postal vote application deadline which is 5pm, on Wednesday 18 April and the proxy vote application deadline is 5pm, Wednesday 25 April.

EU citizens are able to vote in these local elections.

You can get more information by visiting www.westminster.gov.uk/westminster-city-council-election-2018

Dolphin Square – what you say

“The Square will turn into a building site which will last for longer than the 5 years Westbrook have stated, making life unbearable not only for the residents here but also for our neighbours with the constant flow of heavy vehicles, the noise which penetrates through this building of concrete and steel, and with the work which will raise the height of this already 9 storey building overshadowing the neighbourhood when Dolphin Square is a conservation area”

What you say

“Thanks very much for your e-mail and the updates”

“Many thanks for your action report.  It is very helpful to have the piece on the rents at Dolphin Square. “ 

“Thanks so much for raising this issue on behalf of the many elderly residents.”

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

 

Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson,

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help

tachbrook.labour@gmail.com

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – February 2018

News from Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson, your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 

 

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have again asked TfL to take action to safeguard the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on Vauxhall Bridge Road: 

“Please could you talk to the relevant authority about the pedestrian crossing outside the White Swan pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road. There is a bike lane that runs between the pathway and the road. Cyclists are supposed to give way to pedestrians but on frequent occasions, they don’t. It is now a very dangerous crossing with cyclists zooming along far too quickly, often ringing their bells or shouting at pedestrians – when we have the right of way. The give way markings on the cycle path need replacing with red STOP signs. This would make is more safe for us pedestrians.”

Tfl say: 

“I’m aware of the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists near the White Swan. Earlier last year I went on a bike ride around the area and this was one of the issues he raised. I asked TfL officers to look at this. They have developed some new signage which we believe will help reduce the conflict. Unfortunately, our proposed signage arrangement hasn’t been accepted by Department for Transport. The TfL designers are currently working on a solution but it’s proving to be more complicated than we had originally envisaged. I will keep you posted on our progress.”

Dolphin Square

A recent article in the ‘Evening Standard’ asks: ‘Dolphin Square to get new homes, but how many will be affordable?”

Despite submitting almost 300 planning documents to the council, Westbrook has declined to say exactly how many of the new homes will be affordable and earmarked for people who would otherwise be priced out of the area, other than to promise it will designate the “maximum possible”.”

“As property values in the area have risen exponentially, however, so have rents at Dolphin Square. Today it is largely unaffordable to people on average London salaries. Rightmove is currently listing about two dozen one-bedroom flats at the red-brick square at rates ranging from £360 per week to £495 per week.”

https://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/notorious-dolphin-square-flats-in-pimlico-to-get-new-homes-but-how-many-will-be-affordable-a117686.html 

Henry Wise House

We are continuing to assist a resident who has had to move out of his flat to enable major works to be undertaken. He tells us:

“I am now back at the flat. It was chaotic and frustrating at times dealing with CityWest Homes and I hope I don’t have to deal with them again soon but I’m relieved that it’s finally done.”

Lillington Gardens 

We are continuing to press City West Homes to improve the repairs service and communications with residents. One resident told us: 

“Residents in at least Priory House have had no hot water since Monday – in this cold spell. As an engineer from DJ Higgins was around on Tuesday morning and said it would take a couple of days to fix, I believed him and didn’t chase up. Then we get a letter, saying the water would be shut off on Monday! Trying to get an update on progress this morning: I have rung repairs (who never know anything), emailed the person who sent the letter who said he would get back to me, then received a call from DJ Higgins to tell me the water would be turned off on Monday (they knew nothing about my query)! It is impossible to speak to anyone who knows anything (we would at least have received an update from the former estate office).

I have now found out that the shut down on Monday is to fix this problem – but CWH didn’t explain any of that in their letter. Again it smacks of incompetence, and having no regard to keeping residents informed. I’d love to not have to bang on about how rubbish CWH is, but they just keep on giving me cause. “

Queen Mother Sports Centre 

We have raised this issue with the Council: 

“For 18 or more months I’ve been trying to get Everyone Active to introduce recycling facilities at the Queen Mother Sports Centre, where I swim three times each week. The managers at QMSC seem unwilling or unable to perform this task. The excuses are endless, changes in staff too. WCC should not be contracting suppliers who don’t take their environmental responsibilities seriously.”

Cleaning up Westminster’s Planning system

We have pledged to clean up Westminster’s Planning system if we are elected at the Council elections on 3rd May.

There is a clear perception that senior Conservative Councillors have very close relationships with developers. For example, the Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Robert Davis, has disclosed that since the start of 2015 he has received hospitality related to his role as a City Councillor from developers, big business and other interests a record 514 times. This equates to a staggering 14 cases of declarable hospitality a month, peaking at 47 cases in December 2016. We believe that such an approach does not help build public trust that the Council will put the needs of residents before those of property developers and business interests.

If elected to run the Council in May, Labour will engage with industry representatives in open settings to share views and push for residents’ priorities, but we will do so whilst working to achieve the highest standards. Labour commits that:

  • Labour Cabinet Members and Councillors will not accept hospitality from individual developers and their agents.
  • Labour will require the Council to formally record all meetings between Cabinet Members and developers when discussing individual schemes. There will always be an officer present.
  • A record of these meetings will be posted on the Council website within two weeks.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/19/westminster-councillor-received-gifts-and-hospitality-514-times-in-three-years?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=264724&subid=12834692&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Policing

There is a new Chief Superintendent in charge of Westminster Police and we hope to meet with him soon to discuss his plans. We will keep arguing for more police to keep our streets safe and for the Government to halt the cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget. In particular:

  1. There have been huge real-terms cuts to policing budgets across the country. In London alone, £700 million has been cut from the Met Police’s budget.
  2. These cuts mean that in London, we’ve lost 2,495 Police officers and 3,261 Police Community Support Officers.
  3. The Met Police still needs to find a further £370 million of savings by 2022 – meaning police numbers could fall below 27,500 by 2021 – the lowest level since 2002.

We have started a petition to stop the police cuts https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543

The Blitz in Westminster

This website shows where bombs were dropped during the Blitz. You can find out how close they got to your home

http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/westminster/

What you say

“I was delighted to hear from you!    Thanks for your good work.” 

“Thank you very much.” 

“I do love your newsletters. They are fantastic at keeping us all in the loop.”

“Thank you for your continuing efforts regarding Vauxhall Bridge Road. Elderly and disabled people as well as the many tourists bound for Tate Britain are at very significant risk.”

“Thank you very much for your regular newsletter, which I find most informative and useful.”

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

Regards

Gillian Arrindell, Terry Harper and Will Thomson,

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help

tachbrook.labour@gmail.com

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – January 2018

News from Joe Darrall, Mary Darrall and Will Thomson

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolphin Square

We are continuing to oppose Westbrook’s plans for Dolphin Square and have received the following comments from residents following the recent exhibition: 

The exhibition shows plans for a colossal make over of well built Dolphin Square. It is in not at all the lesser redevelopment, explained by Westbrook to residents last August so that restoration work on the plumbing and windows could be carried out. 

Dolphin Square is a conservation site and a ‘building of special interest’. How can the demolition of the whole of the north side be allowed to go ahead? There is a great outcry by residents and by neighbours at the planned demolition of the special 1930s Arcade with its shops. 

How could tenants live in what will be a building site which it is said will continue for five years? The noise from building work is unbearable in this concrete and steel building. 

The Spanish garden will be swept away with loss of light and sun. The 3 and a half acre garden is to be totally reconstructed. The garden will be overshadowed by adding yet another floor to the nine storied houses. The planned extension of Rodney House will also encroach into the new garden. There is no extra acre of garden as publicised by Westbrook.

St George’s Square neighbours are extremely worried by yet more building on the roof overlooking their flats.

Why should Westbrook take away from the residents the supply of high quality water from the four artesian wells, which has always worked so well? 

The threat of this colossal makeover is that the unique character and ethos of Dolphin Square will be lost. In the past those there were flats at moderate rents for those working unsocial hours in London.  But no more.  They only offer now 8 small mews houses at affordable rent and all the rest at market rent. What a huge loss to London.” 

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have reported this issue to the Council for action: 

“There is a dangerous big hole in the pavement along Vauxhall Bridge Road. It’s been there for at least 3 months. Early December I complained to the Council. I was told Vauxhall Bridge Road is not their responsibility. However, this stretch leads to the local post office, schools, shops, popular church and is also used by tourists visiting Tate Britain. Sometimes the hole is fenced off but more often the fencing is flat on the street or simply pushed to the side. In any case this hazardous situation needs resolving.” 

Henry Wise House 

We are helping residents who are having problems with heating and hot water.

Residents also tell us that rubbish is discarded and dumped in public areas, with rubbish bags stuffed in chutes causing blockages on a daily basis. We asked City West Homes to investigate and they say:

“Members of the local housing team have attended Henry Wise House to inspect all of the bin chute areas and speak to the local cleaner. Any refuse left out of the chutes has been removed and placed in the appropriate bins in the chambers and the removed hopper head has been replaced.  

A communal letter has been delivered to all residents within Henry Wise House to remind residents to dispose of their refuse correctly and mentioning the 4th floor problem before the holiday weekend.  We believe that residents remove the hopper head to place oversize bags down the chute causing blockages. The letter will refer to this problem as well. We will monitor the situation and try to identify individual offenders to improve the situation for the residents who do comply with the rules for the future. “

Lillington Gardens – Update

Following our enquiries on behalf of residents, City West Homes says the following:

“The current contract for the gardening services on Lillington and Longmoore Gardens estate is due to expire in June 2018.  We wrote to residents in September 2017 advising that the project to re-let the cleaning, grounds maintenance, security and concierge contracts had started. Residents were also invited to a number of drop-in sessions.

The procurement of these services includes market testing with our in-house gardening team delivering gardening services to Lillington & Longmoore and Grosvenor estates. This is being done to ensure residents are receiving value for money on these services.  We have met with the in-house gardening team to ensure they were made aware that we were testing the market. It was made explicitly clear to the teams that no decision had been made with regards to the future of the gardening service.However, the market testing against our in-house gardening team was not made clear in our resident communications and we would like to apologise for this oversight.”

City West Homes ‘Nightmare Stories’

We have published a dossier of ’20 nightmare stories’ from City West Homes’, based on the experiences of CWH tenants and leaseholders over the past few months across Westminster. All have been reported to CWH for action and some problems have now been resolved – but only after a Labour Councillor had intervened. This is not the way to run an organisation responsible for 12,500 tenants and 10,000 leaseholders. How many more similar stories of incompetence and neglect go unreported because the tenant or leaseholder has not been able escalate the problem by reporting it to a Labour Councillor? City West Homes is in need of a radical overhaul and Labour is pledged to do this following the May Council elections.

To see the report go to https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/westminster-labour-launches-dossier-of-20-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Please let us know if you are having problems with City West Homes.

Rubbish Dumping 

In response to the regular concerns expressed by residents, we have put forward the following ideas:

  • Reinstate a free service for standard household bulky refuse collections and introduce a paid-for service for express bulky refuse collections
  • Use mobile cameras to help enforcement at fly-tipping ‘hotspots’.
  •  Increase fines for dumping.
  • Consult residents to decide where extra bins might be of assistance and improve signage and communication with residents
  • Offer residents the chance to report dumping via Twitter, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger
  • Target Council inspections and waste collection to the worst-affected areas to tackle the scourge of fly-tipping.

What do you think?

Dealing with Airbnb 

Research by the Residential Landlords Association published in December 2017 found the number of Airbnb rentals in London has increased by 187% since 2015. Karen Buck MP (Labour) said the number of properties advertised in Westminster North on Airbnb has more than doubled – from 1,603 in 2015 to 3,621 in 2017.

“In blocks of flats, long-term residents find themselves living in a hotel but without the services to support it, like staff and security. They have to deal with constant comings and goings, security concerns, noise, rubbish. These properties turn over every few days so you feel you aren’t living in a residential community.”

Karen Buck said short-term lets were also contributing to housing shortages.

“The original concept of Airbnb was you rent your flat out when you’re away or your spare room. That still happens and that’s absolutely fine. But what’s also happened is professional landlords have moved in, who in many cases own multiple properties.”

Research by Westminster City Council found that renting a one-bedroom flat in the area will make £495 a week for an ordinary tenancy, but £1,561 a week on a nightly basis.

Two years ago, the law changed to allow London properties to be let for up to 90 days a year without permission from the council. In January 2017, Airbnb introduced a block on London hosts renting out homes for more than 90 days a year, to ensure users complied with the law.

But some landlords are finding ways around the rules, including re-listing a property under a slightly different address or advertising a whole flat as a single room, which is not covered by the 90-day limit. People also advertise on alternative platforms to get around the cap.

Karen Buck said it was difficult for councils to enforce the 90-day limit and has put forward a bill to Parliament calling for all short-term lets to be registered

“It’s difficult to monitor. Local authorities have to spend a lot of time and money trying to catch the people breaking the rules. My suggestion is very light touch. People who are staying within the law are fine and just need to spend 30 seconds registering their property online. There’s no question of denying permission. But for people that are breaking the rules, we have a means of bringing them to justice.”.

Council housing

Inside Housing magazine has published details of the number of former council homes now being let by private landlords, after analysing statistics from two-thirds of councils in England. The research reveals that on average more than 40 percent of property bought under Right to Buy is now in the hands of private landlords. The figures for Westminster show that out of the 8,988 leaseholds sold to council tenants, 3,363 — 37.42 percent — are now owned as buy-to-let.  Inside Housing says that the average weekly council rent in London is £108 while for private flats it is £359.

City Council elections, May 2018 

An interesting article looking forward to the May Council elections by Dave Hill which quotes Andrew Murray’s State of Soho blog

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/could-the-conservatives-lose-westminster-council/

Tesco Bags of Help – Community Grant Scheme

Bags of Help is Tesco’s local community grant scheme where the money raised by the 10p Bag for Life charge in Tesco stores is being used to fund community projects that benefit the local community. Following a public vote, three projects in each Tesco region will receive an award every two months, with first place receiving up to £4,000, second place up to £2,000 and third place up to £1,000.

  • Who can apply? Grants will be awarded to voluntary or community organisations, schools, Parish Councils, local authorities and social housing providers.
  • What kind of projects will Bags of Help fund? Projects that benefit the local community are eligible for funding – from improving community buildings and developing outdoor spaces to buying new kit or equipment, training coaches or volunteers, and hosting community events or activities.
  • How to Apply – For more information and to apply visit the website: http://www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/tescocommunityscheme

If you need any further advice or support – including talking through some project ideas or finding out how to make a project eligible – contact Paige Matthews, Community Project Officer, Groundwork London Phone: 020 8762 0321 E-mail: paige.matthews@groundwork.org.uk

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 unsubscribe below.

Regards

 

Joe Darrall, Mary Darrall and Will Thomson

Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help

  

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – December 2017

News from Joe Darrall, Mary Darrall and Will Thomson – Your Tachbrook Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 


Dolphin Square

We are supporting residents who want to see more affordable housing at Dolphin Square. Residents say:

“People here are asking for information on the affordable housing in the Square which has been promised by Westbrook. Rents at reasonable rates for those working unsocial hours in London has been a long held tradition until Westbrook took over in 2005 and changed to market rents causing a number of those working in the public sector unable to afford the rent and obliged to leave the Square. “

Lillington Gardens

Residents have contacted us about the very poor service from City West Homes:

“I am increasingly concerned about the poor service being provided by City West Homes. Do you know why this has happened? Is it that the council has squeezed their budget too far or are they just hopelessly inefficient? They seem to be intent on destroying the fragile community that we have here on Lillington Gardens along with the actual fabric of the buildings. I could give you tedious detail but briefly:

  • The repairs service is a joke – it’s taken eight months to repair a blocked drain that was affecting several flats. We were promised better service with Morgan Sindall but it is a shambles. There seems to be no monitoring of what contractors carry out, which is often as little as possible.
  • There is a long-standing and great problem with water penetration in my block, along with much of the estate I believe, but City West refuse to take even the simplest preventative action (like clearing the drains) causing great distress to residents and surely long term damage to the structure of the building.
  • Now they are putting the best services we have – cleaning and garden maintenance – out to contract. Since they closed the estate office, and made it difficult to make contact by phone, we will lose the only familiar, friendly human faces we see working on the estate. The estate has won many awards for its gardens, which also bring people together in community groups. Why would they throw that away, if not for budget reasons? I also note the council is boasting about improving community cohesion but allowing it to be destroyed here. “

Nine Elms Bridge proposal

We are continuing to oppose the London Borough of Wandsworth’s plans for a pedestrian bridge at Nine Elms. The Deputy Mayor from Transport, Val Shawcross has issued the following statement to provide clarity on the Mayor’s position.

“This scheme is being developed by the London Borough of Wandsworth and the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership. It will require the support of the London Borough of Westminster and residents on both sides of the river if it is to be taken forward. This is not a TfL or City Hall scheme and TfL is not currently undertaking any work on the project. Any scheme would require support from all affected local residents and authorities before being progressed. Also, just to add further clarity, there is currently no money assigned in the TfL budget for this project, nor are there any plans to provide financial support from TfL or the GLA.”

Call for halt to further Metropolitan Police cuts

We have launched a petition calling on the Government to halt its cuts in the Metropolitan Police budget immediately. Further police cuts will make it more difficult for the police to keep neighbourhoods in Westminster safe and secure, as well as dealing with the increase in everyday violence and the constant terrorist threat.

The petition to the Government says:

“Halt the cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget. Having lost £600 million in real terms over the past 7 years, the Metropolitan Police face a further £400 million cut over the next 4 years. 70 per cent of all police spending in London comes from the Home Office, meaning that any change in that funding has a disproportionate effect.”

You can sign the petition here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543

Fast food takeaways

We are pleased that the Mayor is intruding new planning policies to ban fast-food takeaways from opening within 400 metres of schools in a bid to tackle the capital’s child obesity epidemic. In addition, all new chicken, fish and chip and pizza outlets will have to sign up to minimum healthy food standards before getting planning permission. The Mayor said the move would help deal with the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity in London, where almost 40 per cent of children are obese or overweight by the time they finish primary school, the highest proportion in England. 

Dolphin Square – what you say 

‘I just read the Tachbrook Ward newsletter and the bit on Dolphin Square obviously resonates with me as a resident but even more as an example of what was a successful social housing experiment that has become yet another money pot.” 

“Thank you very much for your support and it is great that you put our aims into the latest Tachbrook news report. So far we have 171 members and I hope to reach 250. We are in touch with the Westminster Society and with the Pimlico Academy.”

City West Homes – what you say

“If anybody in this area thinks that a ‘transformation’ is closing down housing offices leaving huge numbers of tenants of all ages and backgrounds only able to seek help and/or advice via online and telephone services involving hours and days for a reply as a satisfactory method, then I’m sorry to say that I think you and/or they are in the wrong job and/or have some kind of hidden agenda that discounts the realities of human beings.”

What you say

“I continue to appreciate the updates you send about our area.”

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

Joe Darrall, Mary Darrall and Will Thomson

 Your Tachbrook Ward Labour Action Team – Here to Help

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – November 2017

NEWS FROM THE LABOUR ACTION TEAM IN TACHBROOK WARD

Dolphin Square

Residents of Dolphin Square have set up a Dolphin Square Preservation Society with the following aims:

“As residents of Pimlico, we urge you to ensure that the Planning Department of WCC upholds the spirit and terms of the Westminster Area Conservation Audit of 2008.  Dolphin Square is a unique and historic building, core to the fabric and character of this area of Westminster.

We are also keen to ensure Westminster City Council conserves the social fabric and stability provided by Dolphin Square, with its social and age mix, and its historic provision of over 1,000 flats of local affordable housing.  Both are in short supply and desperately needed in central London. We would not like to see this successful experiment in housing turn into an enclave of wealthy, short term residents, nor for the needs of Londoners to be put second to the wishes of politics and property developers.”

Clarion House, Moreton Place

We have asked the Refuse Collection Team to investigate this issue:

“For some time now, there have been a number of incidences of random dumping of materials both inside and alongside our communal refuse bin. This is a bin hired for the sole use of Clarion House residents and is sited on our private driveway. It is for Clarion House residents only.

The bin is unlocked and therefore we cannot police who is using it from the surrounding area. We did at one point have a bin key for residents use but the bin was replaced. 

The bin has been used for building waste and a number of items of old furniture have been placed there too. This is now happening very regularly and is not only very unsightly but could cause a health and safety hazard by attracting vermin etc. To make matters worse, we have had a few occasions where the bin has not been emptied by the council refuse service on the appointed day and one of our directors had to contact the council to come and empty the overflowing bin.”

The Council say:

“I have arranged for a lock to be installed and for keys provided so that only residents can use the bin. In addition, a City Inspector will be able to carry out enforcement action on any instances of dumping reported to the council through the Report It tool on the website https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it. I am confident this will solve the issue but if not please get in touch.”

Millbank/Lambeth Bridge roundabout – Update 

After we made enquiries, Transport for London have confirmed the following:

“I can confirm that our proposals suggest no changes to traffic movements from Lambeth Bridge to the north side of the river. Traffic would continue to turn left from the bridge to Millbank south, right from the bridge to Millbank north and straight ahead from the bridge to Horseferry Road.”

City West Homes call centre

We have written to CityWest Homes (CWH) to call for an urgent review of their call centre operations. We are getting continual reports of residents who can’t get through to the call centre – and not getting an adequate response if they do make contact. When the local estate offices were closed and the call centre was proposed we were promised a more efficient service, with officers being freed up to go out and talk to residents and deal with problems. The reality is that there has been a real reduction in service, leaving residents feeling cut off and neglected. Our concern is that vulnerable tenants will be especially affected – and the continued lack of response from the call centre may lead them to give up trying to contact CWH to deal with urgent repairs.

Westminster Handyperson Service

The Council operates Handyperson Service with 2 handypersons working across the borough supporting residents across all tenures including City West Homes. It is a FREE service to anyone over 60 or for those under 60, on a disability benefit.

There is a £50 allowance for essential materials and residents are only able to use the service twice in any 12 months. It is not an emergency service but can tackle those little jobs around the home that older people can struggle with from changing a light bulb to putting shelves.

The following works are examples of the kind of jobs the service will carry out:

  • Home safety such as smoke detectors, grab rails, removing trip hazards.
  • Minor electrical work such as replacing broken sockets, switches and pull cords, replacing fuses.
  • Minor plumbing works, replacing tap washers, fitting lever taps, repairing leaks and unblocking sinks
  • Home energy efficiency – draught proofing, fitting low energy light bulbs.
  • General repairs and other minor jobs – moving furniture, small carpentry jobs, easing sticking doors, fixing curtain rails, hanging curtains, lowering shelves, putting up shelves.

What works are not covered?

  • Work involving gas appliances and boilers
  • Electrical works except those indicated above
  • Decorating
  • Gardening

The number to call to arrange the appointment is 0207 641 8959.

 

Dolphin Square – what you say

“I read with interest the plans for Dolphin Square. What about the effects on Pimlico Academy and the children who will have to endure the noise and disruption of demolition and building over a protracted period?” 

There is huge concern over pollution and noise from the proposed work.  We are so close to the Pimlico Academy and Primary School and the Nursery School by St Saviours.”

“Richard Costain commissioned Richard Sudell, the President of the Institute of Landscape Architects to design the courtyard garden to provide sufficient air, light and space for the large number of flats. The structure of the garden remains as it was in 1935 but the major part would be destroyed if the plans go through with the demolition of the Spanish -now renamed Moroccan – garden and the skilfully designed seating area and trellis to mask the vents of the garage below.  The amount of sunlight would also be seriously diminished if they put another storey on to each house.  The garden is listed with the Gardens Trust and is one of the few notable 20th century gardens which remain. “

“I lived in the Square for years and loved it there. I now live close by and it is in my own interests not to have years of disruption around the area. Apart from this the square is beautiful place. The garden is peaceful and meditative. It is an unofficial bird sanctuary and the varieties of plants in the smaller garden are not to be found elsewhere in Pimlico. When it was run by a trust for the benefit of the residents I always thought was a very good template for other estates. “

 

 

TACHBROOK WARD ACTION REPORT – October 2017

NEWS FROM THE LABOUR ACTION TEAM IN TACHBROOK WARD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolphin Square

We are supporting residents who are opposed to Westbrook’s redevelopment proposals for Dolphin Square.

  • The scheme proposes the complete demolition of Rodney House, the whole block on the northern side of the square, which comprises the Dolphin House apartment hotel, a number of residential flats, the residents’ shopping arcade. the letting offices, the hotel reception, the Westbrook first floor management offices, the swimming pool and associated gym complex with squash courts etc and the whole of the Spanish garden at the rear.
  • Westbrook proposes to replace the Rodney House building with a huge new block which is much deeper and three stories higher. In addition, the shopping arcade will be replaced with shops opening out to Chichester Street.
  • Westbrook intend to replace the Rodney House block with serviced apartments rather than residential apartments and operate them as a new apartment hotel.
  • There are no plans for more affordable housing, despite the scale of the proposals and the increased commercial content.
  • Another part of the plan is to add an additional floor to all of the remaining buildings in Dolphin Square, which will lead to an over-scaling of the height in relation to the surrounding buildings of the conservation area.

Dolphin Square sits on a seven-acre site and comprises a total of 1,200 apartments occupying a built area of around 1 million square feet. Of these apartments, roughly 200 are held under protected tenancies. Around 100 apartments form part of the apartment hotel, called Dolphin House, within Rodney House. The building was the largest apartment complex in Europe when it was built in 1937. It is still the biggest single apartment complex in the UK.

Call for halt to further Metropolitan Police cuts

We have launched a petition calling on the Government to halt its cuts in the Metropolitan Police budget immediately. Further police cuts will make it more difficult for the police to keep neighbourhoods in Westminster safe and secure, as well as dealing with the increase in everyday violence and the constant terrorist threat.

The petition to the Government says:

“Halt the cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget. Having lost £600 million in real terms over the past 7 years, the Metropolitan Police face a further £400 million cut over the next 4 years. 70 per cent of all police spending in London comes from the Home Office, meaning that any change in that funding has a disproportionate effect.”

You can sign the petition here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/203543

Tackling polluted air – Mayor introduces the T-charge

The Mayor of London has introduced the Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) in central London to tackle London’s polluted air. Research shows that polluted air contributes to approximately 9,400 premature deaths a year in London and costs the health service between £1.4 and £3.7 billion.

The T-Charge is a £10 supplement on the Congestion Charge for vehicles that do not meet certain environmental standards. The Mayor has set the standard at Euro 4 for both petrol and diesel vehicles, and applies to vehicles registered from 1 January 2006. The charge applies during the operational hours of the Congestion Charge Zone, Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm.

There is a 90% discount for residents living in the Congestion Zone area, a 100% discount for blue badge holders and exemptions for emergency service vehicles and motorbikes. You can see the full details of the T-charge online  https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/emissions-surcharge

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

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

TACHBROOK WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – September 2017

Dolphin Square

We are supporting residents who are opposing Westbrook’s development plans at Dolphin Square. Residents say:

“Westbrook Partners bought the remaining lease of Dolphin Square in 2005.  This lease runs until 2034 and Westbrook have now obtained the freehold.  They have been holding meetings of up to 40 tenants at a time.  They plan to demolish the whole of the north facade and add two storeys to each of the houses, depriving the courtyard gardens of sunlight.  After questioning at the meeting we discovered that they also intend to dig down deep into the basement in order to relocate the offices which are at present in the north block, formerly Rodney House, plus relocating below the ground the restaurant, the sports centre and the swimming pool.  This would also destroy the structure of the award winning gardens which are preserved much as they were designed in the 1930s.  The Spanish Garden would be demolished as it is over the restaurant which it is planned to move underground. In addition, they conceded that they also plan a building for the croquet lawn on the riverside of Grosvenor Road.  We also discovered that they plan to build mews houses on the west driveway.”

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