West End Ward

WEST END WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – September 2018

News from Councillor Pancho Lewis and the West End Labour Action Team 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Kemp House

We are continuing to press the Council and developers to prevent any further slippage of timescales with the 90-104 Berwick Street development.

Residents say:

“I find it disheartening that this development is taking up yet more of my time – I feel that me and other residents, not to mention local businesses and market traders, council workers and councillors, are spending an inordinate amount of time dealing with fall-out from this development.

This was meant to be an 18-month development, start to finish. [My children] should have enjoyed [their early years] exploring the promised roof garden, instead we have all suffered extreme demolition noise, frightening vibrations, filthy dust and anti-social behaviour.

After more than three years of incredibly disruptive work, I am heartily sick of this entire development. Please encourage the developer to get a grip on this wayward project.”

In addition, local businesses are facing real problems caused by the long-running and long-delayed building works in Berwick Street. One business owner said:

“The combination of Walker’s Court and Kemp House that have between them closed 30 businesses and blighted Berwick Street into a stagnant backwater. We are faced with year-on-year rising costs and year-on-year falling income”

Gay Hussar, Greek Street

We have received an e-mail from the Goulash Co-operative – a group of writers, artists and Soho aficionados – who are looking to re-open the iconic restaurant Gay Hussar after it closed in the summer. It reads:

“The heat of summer has not cooled any of the Goulash board’s enthusiasm for pursuing our attempt to reopen and relaunch the Gay Hussar. Despite the closure of the premises at the end of June, we remain optimistic about the chances of opening a whole new era in the history of the restaurant.

During this period we have all been busily engaged in on-going discussions with the freehold owner of the property to obtain a lease; with talks with possible operational partners about running the business if we successfully secure a leasehold; and consulting experts about the business structure of our proposed co-operative venture. We have been talking to restaurateurs, investors, lawyers, architects and officials about how to proceed. The current situation is that we are checking out the business credentials of our possible partners before we make any announcements about our plans.

We have drawn up some exciting plans about what might be possible. There is even talk of a roof terrace (but perhaps best not to get too excited yet about that).

In the meantime we are planning to re-open the Co-op for fresh investment once the future becomes clarified. We are keen to know from you, our potential members, as soon as possible, if you are willing to commit to investment in multiples of £500 when the time comes, which we hope will be soon. Before we ask you to hand over any money we will circulate further details, including the circumstances under which you will be able to withdraw your investment and earn interest on it once the restaurant is relaunched.”

Dufour’s Place & Marshall Street

We are helping residents with the following:

“I am writing to ask if you can possibly help with the traffic on Dufours Place. It has changed so much over the past 5 years. The road its self has become a depo for Westminster council bin men that park up and stay for hours at a time often with leaving the engine runnin . The evening see people driving fast cars, revving engines and screeching up and down the roa .

The eaterie places on Marshall St back on to Dufours and the road needs washing on a regular basis as water containing food and grease (which is slippy) is regularly awash across the street. Which is giving a vermin problem. Despite talking to the people involved myself and other residents are powerless to do anything.

Ideally, residents think that there should be a barrier put across the street that access only people can operate with a code.”

Ingestre Place and Ingestre Court

We welcome the work the police team have done to increase policing on Ingestre Place and that there has been action to stop dealing, including arrests. We are aware of the need to remain vigilant as it is a hotspot for ASB and illicit activity.

We have asked Sandra Skeete, interim head of CityWest Homes, to look to install a security fence around Ingestre Court. This follows issues with anti-social behaviour in the area. We received this response – but have pointed out the security fence was suggested well before 2018.

“This was initially raised as an issue in [2016] by the ASB team and has been moved to the Asset Strategy department to develop a strategy and programme of works to remove the planters and install fencing in line with planning and keeping with the surrounding area.

An asset strategy project has been completed and will be issued to our capital programme team to consult with the residents along with the housing team in the next month prior to commencing works.

[A group of residents and stakeholders] are meeting on site to do a walk around and scope any additional alterations that could be carried out in addition to the planter issue.”

We are continuing to urge CityWest Homes to give Ingestre Court residents more information about the emergency fire safety works and asked that they are completed quickly. We have also made strong representations to CWH about their communications failures with residents:

“An extension for completing the works from September to November is not a ‘slight extension’; it is not a minor occurrence that can be brushed off. It is a major inconvenience and to call it anything else communicates a total disengagement with how residents feel.

I was at the meeting where residents expressed their dismay at the decision to board up the windows. They were dismayed at the fact that there had been no prior consultation, that CWH had taken 3 weeks to offer dehumidifiers, and that papers provided contained inaccuracies. More broadly, and this is critical, there was a sense in the room that the concerns and opinions of residents are often treated as secondary and unimportant in the way Ingestre Court is managed.”

Proposals for Broadwick Street

We’ve written to landlords Shaftesbury, asking them to improve the public realm and create more greenery at the end of Broadwick Street (where the street meets the Carnaby Street area), as part of their plans for 72 Broadwick Street (known as Magazine House). This followed correspondence we received from residents proposing this idea.

Shaftesbury have responded saying they are looking into this and are liaising with neighbouring businesses to see if its possible. They say that:

“We are going to be talking to Cllr Mitchell (as the Cabinet Member for Environment and City Management) about how Shaftesbury can work with the City Council to improve the traffic management around Carnaby including proposals for this end of Broadwick Street, so your email is very timely.  Ultimately it would be great if we can extend the pedestrianised areas from Carnaby into Broadwick Street and we will be happy to work with the City Council and other stakeholders to deliver this”.

We’d like to hear your views about this idea. What are they?

Marshall Street

We have asked the Refuse Collection team to investigate this regular occurrence:

“It’s Monday evening at 7.40pm and the First Mile dust truck is yet again parked across the Ganton Street/Marshall Street junction, blocking the junction for cars needing to 3-point turn out of the dead end street and also part-blocking the street itself – they do this every night. The truck has already been here for quite a while, not loading any of their waste, with their engine constantly running right outside our block of 72 flats – and the engine is loud.  We are sick of listening to this engine running for up to an hour every evening, well after the time they are due to collect the waste.  There is a monumental pile of rubbish (still completely blocking the pavement at 7.40pm) that they are supposed to be collecting but which they are just sitting next to, with their engine running, ignoring it completely – I assume, as usual, that they are just using the street as a depot to have their break.  It’s 7.40pm and they are meant to collect by 7pm and they haven’t even begun loading the rubbish into the truck yet.”

The Council say:

“The Council doesn’t have any direct regulatory powers regarding private waste collection companies but from the description First Mile are almost certainly in contravention of parking regulations. We will arrange for a traffic marshall to be deployed to Marshall Street/Ganton Street at around 7.30pm and to take action as appropriate. We will also note engine idling comments. The local City Inspector will also check that First Mile bags etc. are being cleared within the advertised collection time-bands.”

Broadwick Street toilets

We are pleased to hear that after pressure from residents, with support from the Action Team, the toilets have reopened.

Peter Street

We have asked the Council to clean Peter Street after human faeces were left on the street for more than 8 hours without being cleaned after they were reported.

The Council says:

“I’ve checked the system and have made enquiries as to what caused the delay here. This incident was reported at 09:51 on Sunday. It was closed as completed at 19:37 after an initial attempt to address the issue at 11:52. It seems that the job involved two separate locations of human fouling. The first was dealt with in the morning, but the second was missed and only then completed on the Evening shift, hence the perceived delay.

“I have asked that the crews take a little more care to read the full notes attached to jobs they get allocated, so that multiple jobs logged on one entry are not missed in the future.”

FITZROVIA

Rubbish bags in residential areas

We continue to receive correspondence about rubbish bags piling up on streets in residential parts of Fitzrovia. There is agreement among residents that this is an issue that needs addressing; it is unsightly and can be a health hazard too, as it attracts vermin. There is disagreement about the best way to tackle this issue. Some would like to see more black bins on the streets, others think this would make the problem worse.

Some residents who support the decision to remove black bins have provided a useful summary of their position:

“The background to this is lengthy and goes back years so I am just going to give a very brief summary. There were black bins in two locations which were removed about 1 to 2 years ago.

  1. Corner of Langham Street and Gosfield Street.
  2. Foley Street. (NB despite regular use by residents these were actually commercial bins belonging to university so can be excluded from consideration – but their presence did lead to confusion).

Just like the black bins that still remain on Riding House Street, they had become a focus for mass dumping: Mattresses, fridge freezers, garden waste, plus commercial dumping. Really anything you could imagine.

[Some people] volunteered as members of FitzWest Forum to form a sub committee to try to work with WCC to improve the rubbish dumping problem.

The main issues identified:

  1. Confusion – wildly different collection times on different streets, signs that didn’t correspond to the website and therefore confusion among residents and refuse collectors.
  2. On street dumping by transient/Air bnb visitors and their cleaners.
  3. Commercial properties dumping rubbish in non- commercial sacks. Including office cleaners.

4…. Numerous commercial collection companies collecting at all times of day and night meaning there is always rubbish on the street which in turn means that people add to it.

  1. Dirty, stained streets which encourage further dumping.

After many meetings and ideas too numerous to mention, the result was in Sept 2017 a rubbish collection pilot was introduced. Broadly there has been an improvement and residents recognised this.  And our continued efforts to liaise with Tom Walsh at WCC and keep up the pressure has meant that signs have been increased and regularised and local businesses talked to. However, as you can see walking the streets there is still a lot of work to do.

A few final points:

  1. Most streets in the FWF area have daily and some twice daily collections of refuse and twice weekly collections for recycling. This is an increase and the times have mainly been regularised.
  2. The area on Foley Street is much improved. The owners (Six Physio) of the pavement lights told me they might put some planters there with plants to discourage further dumping which would also help.
  3. Langham Street is still a problem with a lot of rubbish and dumping.
  4. Areas around the small round bins are now getting a lot of dumping around them and household waste in them. Leaving no space for pedestrian rubbish which ends up on the ground.
  5. Several businesses are putting out the rubbish collection either at the wrong time or not in designated sacks. I have alerted Tom Walsh to this.
  6. The only remaining black bins on Riding House Street are always a terrible mess of rubbish.

In conclusion, it’s a question of how to improve things further. My current ideas are:

  1. Liaise more with businesses to make sure they are abiding by the rules. Also encourage them to be actively involved. E.g. Domino’s Pizza in Foley Street takes up a lot of space with their scooters and crates. Could they be encouraged to have a bin they pay for and empty on their forecourt specifically for pizza boxes so they don’t end up on the street or filling up the one public bin across the road? In what other ways can businesses be encouraged to support cleaner streets?
  2. As discussed at FWF AGM, try to rationalise the commercial collections as has happened so successfully on Bond Street.
  3. More street cleansing ie stained and dirty streets encourage a mentality that no one cares. Also cigarette ends outside cafes and businesses does same.
  4. Transient community means more reminders and explanations are needed. I think it’s time for another letter to be delivered just reminding people of how many on-street collections there are and what the timings are. Maybe this education element should be a regular event.
  5. All these luxury development opening up (eg Langham St) are going to be quite shocked to discover there are piles of rubbish right outside their front door! Can they be involved in keeping their part of the street tidy? Not sure how this would work but they probably have a concierge who might be able to help.”

Great Portland Street – Roast restaurant application

Residents will be aware that there is a controversial application to open a large restaurant where Great Portland Street meets Langham Street. If given approval, it would set a dangerous precedent for future licensing applications. A hearing had been set for the end of September but it has now been postponed. Residents continue to write to us with their concerns:

“I’m extremely concerned about recent developments in our local area in Fitzrovia regarding the huge growth in licensing and planning applications, including the recent applications by Roast Restaurant Group at 94 Great Portland Street.

I have lived in Fitzrovia for nearly ten years and it is a very different neighbourhood than many lively areas such as Soho in other parts of the West End. The streets are very quiet in the mornings, evenings and at weekends. There are no licensed premises that are restaurants or bars in the immediate vicinity and we are therefore protected from disproportionate noise in the evenings, late at night and weekends.

“I live in a block of 18 flats with over 50 residents where the majority of windows have single glazing. I live in this building permanently with my husband, and our neighbours range from families with small children to elderly couples who have lived here for decades. There are also many floors of residential units in all the neighbouring properties and all of the units above the premises will be residential once they’re completed. When we made my decision to purchase the flat to settle down and start a family, we researched the surrounding commercial units to make sure that they are solely for retail units. Unfortunately the local residents in our building were not made aware of the use class of some nearby premises being expanded from retail use to include restaurant use such as at 94 Great Portland Street, therefore were not able to submit our concerns and objections.”

“My biggest concern at the moment is the new premises for Roast Restaurant Group at 94 Great Portland Street, which is immediately opposite and below our home. This is a restaurant with capacity for 100 people indoors and they’ve applied for licenses to serve alcohol from very early in the morning until late at night every single day of the week, alongside late night refreshment and music. Further, they have applied to another department for planning permission for 20 chairs and 10 tables, which will further exacerbate noise, public nuisance and disturbance right outside our homes.

The current proposals would completely transform the nature of the area for local residents – from a predominantly residential area that is quiet in mornings/ evenings/ weekends to an area that is dominated by a very loud and busy restaurants/ bars causing a lot of intrusive noise, nuisance and extra congestion as well as pollution every day of the week from the early mornings to late at night.”

Ogle Street

We have reported the following problem. We believe the way to tackle these problems is to address the structural factors which have led to increases in homelessness – including a lack of preventative support and cuts to welfare.

“We have a horrible environmental problem in Ogle Street. Several weeks ago three tents were pitched on the pavement at the side of the church. The people living in the tents have now established themselves with items of furniture, wash bottles, bags and even hire bikes which they hide under dirty blankets and tarpaulins. They are also using the footpath opposite as a toilet, the smell is disgusting. These people are causing environmental and vermin problems. They were moved from Charlotte Street and now have been allowed to set up in Ogle Street.”

Riding House Street

We have been informed of the following by the Council:

“[I’m emailing] regarding the temporary traffic order (TTO) closing a section of Riding House Street (closure from the Cleveland Street junction for 75m running west-east).  A brief summary of the current position as follows:

“Riding House Street was closed for over 2 years for development works at its junction with Cleveland Street, a permanent hoarding was placed across the junction by the developer to prevent all vehicles and pedestrians from entering RH Street at the junction. We were asked to consider permanent closure of the street over a year ago by the ward councillors, Leader or the Council, Chief Exec, Head of All Souls School and local residents, and more recently, by our former cabinet member. Following the completion of the development, WCC took on the road closure under a TTO following further safety concerns raised by the Head of All Souls School (the street has taken on a pedestrian feel due to the length of the closure and pupils attending the school are not used to encountering vehicles at this particular location. They are also required to cross the road numerous times each day as the school halls are on the opposite side of the road to the main building). The extension of the closure was supported by the Council’s Road Safety Officer who attended the school.

We have decided to continue with the road closure in order to assess the situation and develop a permanent scheme which addresses the safety concerns and our recommendations will be submitted for consideration in due course.”

Gosfield Street

We are again urging One Housing to rehouse one of their tenants responsible for continual anti-social behaviour in more appropriate accommodation.

Hanson Street

We have helped residents remove an abandoned vehicle by reporting it to the Council.

MAYFAIR

Grosvenor Buildings, Bourdon Street

We are helping residents with security issues in their building after concerns were raised about potential anti-social behaviour.

Brook Street

We are helping residents with the following problem:

“I am a resident [in] the street adjacent to the Clivedale Building site in Brook Street close to Grosvenor Square. My problem is that there is now a mobile hut which is parked in Brook St which houses the security team and toilets. This is powered by a generator which is extremely noisy and runs all day and all night – including Sundays…It is causing me and my family a great deal of disturbance and we are having trouble sleeping with that constant sound of the generator running. It is also unacceptable to have this generator running all day on Sundays which is our one day a week that provides us with any peace from all the building works in the vicinity. I… am extremely upset about this and would urge you to look into why a licence was granted for this and to insist that the security and generators are located within the building site, or that some form of noise screening is installed around the generator.”

Fitzmaurice Place/Curzon Street

We have reported the following problem:

“Unfortunately, I have to tell you that the problem with the collection of glass for recycling has not been solved, it improved for a while but occasionally it happens again, being the most recent time today. At 5 o’clock in the morning a KP Waste truck has collected the commercial glass, the broken glass noise of the bottles in the middle of the night is unacceptable and annoys the neighborhood.

I do not know at what time “legally” they can pick up that kind of garbage, since the noise produced by the broken glass is thunderous. And they collect at that point several commercial containers (5-6 units), not just one. I imagine, although it is simply an assumption, that this will not be the only point where this happens.”

Shepherd’s Market

We went on a walk around West End Ward with the Chief Executive of the Council, Stuart Love. One of the issues noted was the abundance of rubbish on Shepherd’s Market. We are pressing for action to be taken including asking the Council to install cctv in Shepherd Market to identify those responsible for dumping rubbish.

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Westminster Council decide to bring CityWest Homes in house

We have issued the following press release:

“Labour are delighted that Westminster Council have finally listened to the long-standing concerns of local residents and Labour councillors by taking the much needed decision to take control of Westminster’s Housing Services back in house and closing its arms-length management organisation CityWest Homes. The move has been announced today by Cabinet Member for Housing and Customer Services, pending formal approval by Cabinet on October 15th.

For several years, but particularly since summer 2017, Westminster Labour have been sounding the alarm about the performance of CityWest Homes, highlighting many ‘nightmare’ stories of poor performance and raising deep concerns about its service and culture, including most recently in a July 2018 Council Motion calling for CWH to be scrapped.”

CWH – what you say

“That is fantastic news and much credit to you for your support.”

“YAY!!!  Thank you Pancho for your hard work and tenacity!”

“What an amazing piece of news. Congratulations on managing that and a big thank you in advance.”

Westminster City Council planning review – what you say

“I agree with everything set out in the Labour policy on this. After years of objecting without success to numerous planning applications for major developments which erode the nature and quality of life of this neighbourhood, I’ve almost given up. It does not feel as if resaidents’ opinions are taken into account. The crucial thing is that each planning application should be seen in context of what else is going on in the vicinity, not just in terms of that particular site in isolation. The neighbourhood is besieged by developments on every side, with attendant noise, mess, van blockage of roads and parking places and depletion of air quality – quite apart from what will result from the  developments once made.

“There needs to be *strategic* thinking about the neighbourhood as a whole, with all viewpoints given equal weight.”

“I am responding to your request for comments on the Planning System review.  I am very much behind this as I have seen close up the casual corruption, lack of accountability etc..  One of my main concerns is that not only are objectors not permitted to speak at meetings (which unlike applicants, is their last chance to affect decisions other than with a judicial review) but that meetings are not properly minuted.  By this I mean that while the resolutions are minuted and published, the discussion among councillors and officers is not noted or recorded either on video or sound.  This means that I have seen and heard when present at meetings materially false statements by applicants being repeated by officers and/or legal advice being given which does not fit the facts.  Whilst I can see a need for finality in decisions, the fact of lying or misrepresenting not even being recorded is an issue.  I have seen “blue chip” property agents on the record supply false information for these meetings (often as result of post-objection correspondence and therefore not part of the Committee Reports) and without a record of this they can never be called to account for it.  Unless there is a verbatim record of meeting discussions there is no way to call attention to such behaviour and it will continue.

“In the same vein, false statements made in applications should be identified and minuted as such, even if they are not deemed to affect the final decision.  If there is unresolved dispute as to whether the statements are either false or material to the decision, this can also be recorded.  Again, without this, the incentive to lie to increase the chances of a consent far outweighs the incentive to be truthful, which must be at the heart of all democratic decision making.”

City West Homes – The Future

We have set out our recommendations for the future of CityWest Homes (cwh-review-westminster-labour-submission.pdf), and they have been fed into the Council’s internal review. These recommendations have been supported by the findings of a survey of CityWest Homes residents who are deeply critical of the current state of affairs.

“There have been 109 responses to our residents’ survey so far. While we are still looking for further responses, the information provided so far shows the depth of concern about CityWest Homes. The survey shows that:

  • 86% of residents say the service they get from CityWest is poor
  • 60% of residents would give CWH a zero or one star review (out of five)
  • 79% are either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with repairs
  • 83% either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the call centre.
  • 93% believe Estate Offices should be reopened

We believe that the ALMO model is no-longer fit for purpose and that CityWest Homes should be brought back in house, but irrespective of structures there are many areas in need of improvement. We call for the return of more housing managers with responsibility for taking care of local areas, based nearer to their local patch in a restored network of local estate offices (where possible co-located with other council services). Residents need to be given greater power to make decisions for their areas and have a greater say over the running of any housing organisation.

Oxford Street

Residents say:

“I’m unsure as to which authority would have jurisdiction over this but I recall that one reason quoted by the Mayor’s office for Oxford St pedestrianisation was the level of pavement overcrowding, often obliging people to walk on the road, risking injury. Whether or not pedestrianisation is too drastic a solution could I suggest that the relevant authority clamps down on shops that invade the public space of the pavement on Oxford St with their product stands and hoardings? Souvenir shops are the worst offenders, for example the two featured below about 100m west of TCR tube, the pavement width is halved every day by their behaviour forcing pedestrians into the road, especially at rush hour.”

Help tackle stigma against disabled people: Photography competition

The charity Youmanity who work to tackle stigma against disabled people have asked us to share this press release with you:

“Youmanity, with the support of the Metropolitan Police, invite you to enter our free photography competition the ‘This–Ability Photography Award 2018’.

Open to all amateur or professional photographers who can portray a snapshot of a disabled person’s life. Photographic entries should celebrate their story and character, encouraging participants to see disabled persons and disability in a new way.

Disability is much more than blue badges. The term ‘disability’ is broad and encompasses both visible and non-visible conditions. This award aims to challenge the stereotyping of disabled persons by highlighting that each of us is an individual. Through photography we celebrate our individuality, allowing others to see the disability as one of many aspects that make up a person’s unique identity.

You may have a disability and want to submit an image of yourself. You may want to photograph someone you live with or work with or someone in your community. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but make sure you take good, high-resolution shots. Each entry should consist of three themed images that portray the unique character and story of the person. The judges are looking for visual impact and originality.

The closing date for entries is 26/10/2018

Winners will be announced on 05/11/2018

The winning photographs will be showcased at London City Hall 03-14/12/2018 to coincide with International Day of Disabled Persons. The winner will be awarded a gold medal and £1,000 cash prize.”

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please let us know and we will add them to the list.

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Councillor Pancho Lewis, Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, and the rest of the West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho and Paul at

plewis@westminster.gov.uk

pdimoldenberg@westminster.gov.uk

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – August 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and the rest of the team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Berwick Street – Kemp House

We have called on the Council and the contractors to tackle the following issues at the 90-104 Berwick Street building site. We want to make sure Soho is a safe place for residents to live in and lobby the Government to tackle the root causes of increases in rough sleeping that have been so dramatic in recent years. Residents says:

“Over the past month, a group of homeless people have been using the 90-104 development site as an hotel and routinely as a toilet. They have unimpeded access and are not concerned about being seen. At least one of the group has keypad access and simply lets others in as and when they appear, most noticeably in the evening after 4.30pm and in the morning before 7.30am. They come and go at will.

Over the past week, I have texted the site management with pictures of urine running from under the hoardings into Traders stalls and had thought this to be the workforce, I also thought that a stop would be put to it. But this morning I saw traders setting up and washing down the street before doing so. I had a chat with them, they said they have had to wash down every trading day for around and about 25 days, I asked them what it it was they were washing down and they said it homeless using the site as a toilet. A moment later, a homeless guy appeared walked between the traders without a care in the world and punched in the keypad number to let himself into the site at the doorway by the Kemp House tower.”

We also urged Interserve – the builders at the site – to stop using a waterproof sealant product that it was revealed can have adverse health consequences. We received the following response from the Council’s resident liaison team:

“As an update to this matter I have just had a meeting on site with the Senior Project Manager. He confirmed that Integritank (waterproof sealant) had not been used on site since the instruction was given to cease using it. He agreed that given the possible side effects that it was not a suitable product to use. He will source an alternative product that does not have similar side effects to Integritank. He also agreed to give residents (and me) advance notice of the use of the replacement product such that it can be monitored for any possible fumes.

I also mentioned the dust/grit that had been an issue a few weeks ago. He said that they had recently carried out an industrial vacuum of level 3 and had dampened down. But, he would check again today and redo if necessary.”

Richmond Mews

We are pressing the Council to stop Richmond Mews being used as a service road by local businesses. We also met with local businesses and urged them to take extra steps to make sure residents are not disturbed. Residents say:

“We have been troubled on and off by early morning and late night disturbance outside the hours of the licence agreement (11pm to 8am). Staff have been emptying bins, moving furniture, also deliveries have been left during these hours……with no regard for residents who need to sleep properly in order to do their jobs.”

Ingestre Court

We have reported this issue to the Council for investigation and action:

“There are large groups of people clustered around the entrance, sleeping there, urinating, defecating – everything. Cardboard is laid down and these people are there all day and all night and increasing in number. The caretaker has asked them repeatedly to move on, he has also handed out papers which tell them where they can go for food and help, but they will not move. Earlier this week, as they had refused to move despite constant pleading, he asked a policeman who happened to be nearby to assist, but the policeman told him that he could only ask them to move – he could not make them do so.”

As with the issue at Kemp House, we believe residents need to be safe. At the same time, we will do what we can to lobby the Government to rebuild a safety net so that the most vulnerable, and those who become rough sleepers, are supported properly.

The Council say:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have included the district Neighbourhood Problem Solving Coordinator who is aware of the recent history of the locale and was dealing with it previously.”

We have also been lobbying the Council and CWH to take action to provide better security for tenants and leaseholders living in Ingestre Court and at the bottom of Ingestre Place. We have raised the issue of a potential security fence around Ingestre Court to prevent people from accessing the tower block directly with the interim head of CWH, Sandra Skeete, who will be looking into the issue.

We note with concern that ventilation systems continue to be blocked for residents and the significant discomfort and potential health hazards that have arisen as a result. This follows a fire assessment carried out by CWH which suggested the current ventilation system could be a potential fire hazard. We are pressing CWH to stick to their timescale and come up with an alternative system as soon as possible.”

Silver Place

We have been supporting residents who are facing delays by Thames Water to fix a broken pipe below Silver Place. Residents say:

“I’d be grateful for any information you can discover regarding the ongoing water works in Silver Place.

Thames Water spent much of the summer digging (by hand) a very deep hole, which they now appear to have abandoned. No work has been done for over a week.

The problem is, the tall barrier they have built around the hole has created a dark, secluded corner, which has been turned into a makeshift latrine.

We are anxious to know when the works will be completed, and the barrier removed.”

We have been pressing Thames Water to ensure they complete it as soon as possible. The current end date is early next month.

Dufour’s Place

We are continuing to support City West Homes tenants and Soho Housing Association residents in Dufour’s Place with a range of concerns affecting their housing.

Broadwick Street – what you say

“Many congratulations regarding your achievement in improving the Broadwick Street/Marshall Street signage which had been a complete mess. Thank you very very much. Incidentally, some time ago I raised the fact that all the signs had been removed from Poland Street, so that tourists had no idea what this street was, if coming from Oxford Street. Councillor Dimoldenberg responded to this and now there are signs back again at the Oxford Street end! Congratulations all round to the Labour Team.”

Broadwick Street public toilets

We are making enquiries about why the toilets are closed and have been closed off to members of the public for months now. There’s been a lack of clarity on behalf of the Council and we want to get to the bottom of this.

Dean Street

Residents have written to us to say the following. They attached a picture attached of rubbish bags placed outside their house on Dean Street. They wrote:

“This says First Mile been outside since early afternoon it’s now 22.55 I suggest you ask officers to ask First Mile why? Increasing problem round here.”

Officers replied saying:

“I will contact First Mile about the location and ask our 24/7 to check and they can issue an FPN to waste outside the collection times. There are two collections a day: 03:00-05:00 and 17:00-19:00 and First Mile need to comply with these times.”

Charing Cross Road

We made enquiries about why bicycle parking spots appeared not to have been provided for on the development by Charing Cross and Manette Street. We received the following response:

“It is intended to install 16 cycles stands (with space for 32 bicycles) in Manette Street. However, the design of the public realm scheme is not yet finalised. Once it has been, you will be consulted again.”

Broadwick Street – Improved signage

Councillor Pancho Lewis  has achieved another practical success in his first three months as a councillor.

Residents raised concerns about vehicles driving along Broadwick Street and turning right into Marshall Street – a narrow street with a dead-end. This had meant that large vehicles were clogging up the street, leading to congestion and honking as drivers attempted to turn around and navigate out of the street as well as increased pollution.

Pancho raised the issue with the Council’s Road management team, asking them to introduce new signage to prevent the problem. The new signage is already leading to a big improvement with less congestion on Marshall Street and residents able to enjoy more peace and quiet – although there is still a lot left to do to tackle noise disruption.

Residents say:

“Thank you very much for bringing the chaotic daily round of deliveries and collections here on Marshall Street to the Council’s attention on our behalf – the bulk of them are mainly concentrated during the day, but we do have to put up with evening/late-night deliveries too (the late-night ones tend to be for the restaurants and coffee shops) and more resources in terms of Wardens would be very welcome indeed.

The new sign is having a marked effect in deterring random vehicles from unnecessary turning right into Marshall Street below our building – whoever arranged that sign deserves a medal – it has definitely made a difference.”

FITZROVIA

Langham Street

We are helping residents with the following concern:

” I understand that there are no plans to have the bins re-installed which were situated on Langham Street & removed 2 years ago. I was told this was at the request of the residents. However, I was very surprised to hear this since as far as i am aware the residents were not even consulted on this matter. The majority of residents did not want the bins removed in the first place and since they’ve gone it has only made a bad situation worse as residents now have to leave their rubbish outside on the pavement and there is a very restricted time slot to put out rubbish – from 7.30am to 8.00am.”

Multiple residents have raised concerns about large piles of rubbish bags being left on the street, often at inappropriate hours, and shared the following photos with us which we have raised with officers.

Great Portland Street – proposals for a new restaurant

We are supporting residents who have submitted objections for a new restaurant on 94 Great Portland Street:

“Residents located opposite this proposed Roast restaurant site at 94 Great Portland Street, with planned outside seating for 20, [are worried]. This licence application is likely to blight the lives of all the residents in close proximity to this restaurant because of noise and nuisance.

This application, if left unchallenged/severely restricted, is literally a game changer in this immediate area as there are no restaurants/pubs/bars in this residential quarter. This area has traditionally been populated by clothing and furniture showrooms and offices both north and south of the BBC/Portland Place School and the Synagogue to Margaret Street for decades, interspersed with residential. These businesses have been quiet neighbours. Therefore, up until now it has been an unusually quiet part of the West End. This is precisely why many of the residents chose /continue to live here because there are no restaurants and pubs creating noise at antisocial hours. Understandably the residents in all the adjoining streets wish to keep the quiet nature of their surroundings and their day to day lives.

Apart from the outside seating and events in the basement which there is an enormous question mark over, the surfaces inside the restaurant are all hard and the windows appear to be open so noise/live music and recorded will be coming from inside the restaurant as well as the hubbub from 20 people drinking and eating outside. Then there is the putting out and taking in of tables and chairs and the putting out of rubbish/rubbish collections and deliveries of food and drink and customers/staff dispersing.”
https://www.thecaterer.com/articles/530935/roast-announces-plans-for-second-restaurant

Middleton Place

Residents have raised serious concerns about the proposals to introduce new cycle parking racks on Middleton Place. Though we support the provision of new spaces to park bicycles, we agree with residents that cycle racks are not appropriate in this location. We have written to residents to say:

“There are very clear and persuasive reasons why cycle racks aren’t appropriate in Middleton Place (I am keen that we see more cycle racks in the ward but they are clearly not appropriate here and they need to be out in place sensitively and with the consent of residents). In particular I was very concerned to hear about what had happened a few years ago when an elderly and vulnerable resident had been hit by a cyclist.

I haven’t been contacted recently by the officer in charge of making the decision, although he apparently told residents the decision ultimately lies with us – I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I know he will contact us again. When he does I will make my concerns felt very strongly.”

Foley Street

We are supporting a resident who is facing eviction from their property as a result of rent arrears. We have signposted the resident to the appropriate advice services.

MAYFAIR

Bourdon Street

Residents have written to us with the following concerns. We have written to the Grosvenor highlighting these concerns and will remain vigilant while any proposals are brought forward to ensure peace and quiet is respected:

“On Monday there was a residents meeting at which we were made away that Grosvenor have again resurrected their plans to re develop the exit to the NCP car park. In addition they wish to purchase the Loading Bay/Car Park of the block of flats & disused rubbish shoots & flue’s. I am extremely concerned by this news, during their previous development of the Gagosian Gallery some residents were forced to leave their flat for nearly six months & live in a hotel, I feel another major development underneath this building could [lead to this being repeated]. As residents we have limited influence upon Grosvenor because of the lease setup of the building. There is also another major development in progress on Bourdon Street which will continue for another two years & apparently Grosvenor are intending to start the NCP works in January 2019. What can we residents do? As a group we halted the River Cafe plans for the same location but this seems a never ending fight to save people’s daily way of life & sanity. The NCP garage also is adjacent to St.Georges Buildings which I believe is sheltered/assisted housing with several disabled residents.These developers/Estates have to be stopped from ruining the residents of Westminster a lives in this way. All for Money!”

We are also supporting a resident who is continuing to experience significant difficulties as a result of poor housing conditions by their social housing landlord.

Farm Street

We have supported residents’ objections to further proposed parking bay markings which were wrongly installed and which would have blocked access to residents’ garages. The original yellow lines have also been reinstated.

Green Park

We are supporting residents with the following concerns they have written to us with:

“Over the last day or two, a new bus stop has been placed on the South Side of Piccadilly opposite Clarges Street.

It seems to be there for commercial tourist double decker buses (“Big Bus”) and it is being used as much as a parking/waiting spot as a place where buses stop briefly. It seems to be there to replace the previous bus stops outside Green Park tube station.

This causes a number of issues for residents overlooking the bus stop:
• It really impairs residents’ view to have up to two double decker buses parked often for prolonged periods in front of Green Park
• The positioning of the stop is already causing congestion (and so noise, fumes, etc) as (i) it takes out a lane on a narrow part of Piccadilly which was already marked with a double yellow line (ii) it causes pedestrian congestion on a narrow part of the pavement
• The bus drivers leave their diesel engines on while parked and that causes noise and is bad for air quality.

Residents were not consulted about this. I do not know whether planning permission is needed, but it seems very odd that a purely commercial operation such as Big Bus should be allowed to cause all these problems for residents without residents having any say. The bus stops were appropriately sited before – near tube station, on a wide stretch of Piccadilly and where there were wide pavements and far from residential blocks – and we cannot see any reason why they needed to be relocated.”

Mount Street

We have been supporting residents who are concerned about an application to extend hours for the restaurant Scott’s and the knock-on effect this would have in leading to more noise nuisance.

Mount Street Gardens

We wrote to officers asking that a large pothole in Mount Street Gardens be fixed after there were two separate incidents with residents falling over and hurting themselves. We note that the pothole has now been fixed, but are concerned about the injuries that residents sustained.

Binney Street

We have written to officers again about Binney Street being used as a rat-run by taxi drivers and causing unsafe conditions. Residents say:

“I am sending you this photograph of the traffic in Binney Street. As I previously mentioned, the taxis are now using this quiet residential street as a rat run through from Brook St to Oxford St. This has turned a previously very quiet and safe street into a very busy and dangerous place. The taxis drive fast through the junctions and I have often had to jump out of their way if crossing the road.

I explained that making Brook St two way has been a disaster for residents in Binney St. and despite your assurance that now the Duke Street roadworks have been completed we should see a reduction in traffic, quite the opposite is true. Traffic travelling West down Brook St always use Binney St rather than Duke St.
Please would you reconsider the suggestion previously put forward by Westminster to make Binney St a no through road.”

Lumley Street

We wrote to officers asking that they fix the following street light, after residents raised this concern with us. The street light has now been fixed.

“I reported the street light in Lumley Street near junction of Brown Hart Gardens not working, I was later told the light had been repaired [but I noticed] the light was still not working, on Monday 16th July a new job was raised under the same reference number, a few days later again I was told the light had been repaired but it was still not working, on Wednesday 25th another repair was raised this time under [a new] reference [number]…I am not sure what the repair team is doing it might be a case they are changing the bulb but not checking the wiring/connections. Please can you help with this issue and help save time and much needed public money, without the light the corner is quite dark which could pose a problem with people who have failing eye sight.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Review of the Planning System in Westminster

We have urged the Council to seek the views of residents as part of the Review of the Planning system in Westminster being undertaken by the National Planning Advisory Service (NPAS).

The review of Westminster Council’s planning system comes after Councillor Robert Davis stepped down as Cabinet Member for Planning earlier this year https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/08/westminster-deputy-leader-stands-down-amid-investigation-over-gifts

So far, the Council say that the NPAS will be consulting with Councillors and a variety of stakeholders but “will not be undertaking a full public consultation as part of the review”.

We believe this is not good enough and we are encouraging residents to write to us with their views on how the planning system currently operates in Westminster and what changes are needed to better serve residents.

We have called for major changes to the current system

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/westminster-labour-calls-for-action-on-planning-transparency/

Please let us know your thoughts so we can pass them on to the Review team.

CCTV

The Mayor of London has criticised Westminster City Council for “dragging its feet” in reinstalling previously removed CCTV cameras. Fixed CCTV cameras in central London were axed to save £2.7 million in 2016. Only 14 cameras are currently active, compared to the 75 which were operational in 2016. The council said it was working with police to find an alternative solution, but Sadiq Khan said a decision was “taking too long”.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-44757399

Guardian interview with Councillor Pancho Lewis

In an interview for the Guardian, Labour’s first ever West End councillor, Councillor Pancho Lewis speaks on helping residents fight developers.

“The Monopoly board game has enshrined Mayfair as the most gilded neighbourhood in London. Pancho Lewis’s unprecedented victory in Westminster City Council’s West End ward was a standout result on a mixed local election night for Labour in May.”

Councillor Lewis says: ““We refused to accept the assumption that the West End always has to be Conservative, and as soon as you [do that] you pave the way for things to be done differently.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/17/pancho-lewis-west-end-tory-mayfair-councillor-property-developers-corporate-london

Plastic-free Westminster

We have called on the Council to promote a ‘plastic-free city’ by encouraging supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to:

• use more easily-recycled containers
• offer paper bags to package fruit and vegetable
• promote ‘packaging-free shops’ which allow customers to bring their own containers, keeping waste to an absolute minimum.
• use paper drinking straws in cafes, restaurants and bars
• be part of a water bottle refill scheme refill.org.uk
• locate Recycling Points in the entrance of stores for old plastic bags and film
• boost recycling and cut waste by encouraging shops, restaurants, cafes to introduce a deposit when customers buy drinks bottles and cans
• encourage residents, visitors and office workers to carry reusable coffee cups and bottles

We say the Council should also give a lead by installing new drinking fountains in parks, squares, shopping areas and near transport hubs across Westminster to enable people to fill up water containers/bottles. In addition, the Council should:

• work with the Canal & River Trust and Port of London Authority to ensure waterways and surrounding areas are clear of plastic and other debris, through regular clean-ups of these areas to stop plastic getting into the Thames
• call on the Royal Parks to ensure all events there (Concerts, Winter Wonderland etc) are plastic-free in terms of takeaway containers
• support a local social enterprise to make and sell products encouraging people to reduce plastic use – reusable cups, paper straws, reusable shopping bags

Watch out for fake British Gas refund emails

We’ve had an increase in reports about fake British Gas emails claiming to offer refunds. The links provided in the emails lead to genuine-looking British Gas phishing websites that are designed to steal the usernames and passwords for British Gas accounts. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

Oxford Street – what you say

“With regard to Oxford Street and the suggestion of trams, please let us be practical. Nearly every other city in Europe does indeed have trams, but in the majority of cases these date back more than a lifetime. Even in cities which had been totally destroyed by Second World War bombing, tram transport was fully restored by the nineteen fifties. Upgrading is immeasurably easier when you already have a tram network, and we don’t have one in Oxford Street or Regent Street.”

What you say

“I read your latest report with great interest and admiration – as always – for all your hard work on behalf of residents across Westminster.”

“I repeat my deepest gratitude for all that you do to help us, and especially in the continual fight against the iniquities of Westminster’s self-serving Conservative Councillors.”

“I receive your excellent News Letter about all your groups’ work”

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please let us know and we will add them to the list.

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and the rest of the West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at
pancho.lewis@gmail.com
patricklilley@me.com

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – July 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

SOHO

1-6 Dufour’s Place

We have asked City West Homes to fix the entry phone system after receiving this message:

“Someone with a delivery from Amazon rang my entry phone this afternoon but although we could hear one-another, I could not get the entry phone function to respond and let him in.  He later managed to access the building and when he came to me told me that he’d had deliveries for other flats on other floors and nobody had been able to get their phones to function and admit him – it was pure chance that someone leaving the building had allowed him to enter.”

CWH replied to say they had fixed the problem with the entry phone system.

We have also asked City West Homes to take action to stop the flooding of the podium roof.

We pressed CWH to ensure the water that had been shut off on a hot Friday evening was promptly fixed – it was repaired within an hour after it was reported. Residents said:

“After the most horrific day of travelling on 5 overheated I finally get home, exhausted to find that our drinking water has been shut down by engineers throughout the whole block, without warning or explanation – I cannot even have a drink of water after everything I have been through today and it is still 86 degrees outside.

If the engineers had come round and knocked on people’s doors to warn them before they actually cut the water off we could have quickly filled containers, but no – 72 flats!!! – and told us nothing about the shut down.  I am absolutely desperate for something to drink and will now have to go out, yet again, in the heat to try to beg one of the pubs for a drink of tap water.”

7 Dufour’s Place

We have written to the Environmental Health team about this long-running issue:

“For years, residents at 7 Dufour’s Place have faced problems with over-heating of their block. This isn’t just a little bit of over-heating but very significant over-heating, such that it feels like a sauna. Despite repeated efforts by residents to fix the problem it isn’t leading anywhere, and the problem never seems to get fixed. I worry this isn’t just inconvenient to residents it is also potentially a health hazard. Some residents have been sleeping outside on the terrace recently, it’s been reported, to cool down. Others have to stay in their room with just their underwear on to keep cool.”

The Environmental Health team has been liaising with Soho Housing Association to monitor the measures they are bringing forward to tackle the issue with over-heating. We are concerned that this problem however will continue, as it has for many years, and are liaising directly with Soho HA to attempt to get to the bottom of this issue.

Marshall Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Residents in Marshall Street constantly experience noise nuisance late at night. Revellers are directed to the northern end of Marshall Street when nightclubs close. The northern end of Marshall Street is a dead end, and as a result of the number of taxis waiting to pick up clubbers the street becomes very congested. The taxi drivers often honk their horns to find their way out of the street when it’s congested. 

One suggestion is that instead of directing late night revellers to the Marshall Street area from Carnaby Street area they might be directed to Great Marlborough Street. This is a less residential area, and is not a street with a dead end. And so it might help relieve the pressure on residents of Marshall Street.”

We have also reported this issue to the Highways Department:

“New signage is needed to “stop vehicles from unnecessarily turning right into Marshall Street due to not knowing that the Street is a dead-end. With appropriate signage, this would at least put a stop to the hundreds of cars/vans/lorries every day that inadvertently turn right onto Marshall Street only to have to effect a three-point-turn below us in order to immediately come back the way they came once they realize Marshall Street is a no-through road”

The Highways Department has now introduced new signage, after we requested them to introduce it. After which, residents told us:

“Thank you very much for bringing the chaotic daily round of deliveries and collections here on Marshall Street to the Council’s attention on our behalf – the bulk of them are mainly concentrated during the day, but we do have to put up with evening/late-night deliveries too (the late-night ones tend to be for the restaurants and coffee shops) and more resources in terms of Wardens would be very welcome indeed.  

The yellow diversion sign is still in force and is having a marked effect in deterring random vehicles from unnecessary turning right into Marshall Street below our building – whoever arranged that sign deserves a medal – it has definitely made a difference.”

We met with a resident of Dufour’s Place, whose flat looks onto Marshall Street, with a Council officer. We walked about the area. The officer has agreed to: (a) introduce an extra sign to reinforce the message that Marshall Street is a dead-end and prevent cars turning onto the street from Broadwick Street; (b) look at implementing measures to direct late night revelers from the Carnaby Street area onto Great Marlborough Street instead of Marshall Street where there is a high concentration of residents.

Meard Street

We opposed the recent application for conversion of the existing ground and basement floors at 23 Meard Street from office to retail, but the scheme was approved in accordance with Officers recommendation on the Chairman’s casting vote. Labour Ward Councillor Pancho Lewis spoke against, making the point that loss of office space and the creation of retail would change the character of the Street and Soho.

We also successfully opposed the installation of additional air conditioning unit next to a residential flat on Meard Street.

We have raised the repeated issue of alarms going off at night which are a huge disturbance to residents. Residents say:

“A fire alarm has been sounding for the last 60 mins or so….NOT cutting out ….from a new set of flats ‘air B&B’. I have contacted the noise team. (In fact the same alarm went off early this morning.) The alarm is exceptionally loud, hits the residences both front and back – achieves nothing, except to irritate residents – and it looks (sounds) as if it will sound all night. Why is this sort of thing allowed? It happens frequently, week after week, be it fire alarms or burglar alarms. Has WCC really no powers in this matter?”

Berwick Street market traders and residents

We are supporting market traders who are opposing the Council’s plans to double the cost of charges.

We have also been supporting residents who have faced repeated problems with the building works – the builders used a water sealant product which can have adverse health effects in close proximity to residential flats.

Ingestre Court

We have been supporting residents of Ingestre Court, who are now experiencing extreme discomfort and hazardous conditions as a result of CWH’s decision to board up bathroom ventilation systems as a fire protection measure. Residents say:

“Citywest homes are forcing residents to close the bathroom windows and have boarded them up tomorrow with a promise of a permanent solution in a few months time. This would breach building regulations preventing ventilation to the bathrooms and would cause health issues with damp and mould within a short time. Citywest homes have failed to provide a fire officers report confirming the temporary measures are required immediately and failed to provide a statement relating to the temporary breach of building regulations. Without ventilation to the bathrooms the flats are no longer fit for purpose.”

We are pressing CWH to come up with a permanent solution as soon as possible, because residents are suffering as a result of the current measures. Ingestre Court residents have faced numerous other issues, including problems with the wrong lighting being installed, very slow repairs, and a lack of security which resulted in a serious injury this month.

Old Compton Street

We are helping residents who face problems with advertising boards being parked on the pavements and blocking the way for pedestrians. Residents say:

“Advertising boards in Soho mean residents can’t walk on the pavements. A resident would like to see them banned. It’s particularly bad when there’s rubbish bags on the street.”

Great Windmill Street

We have been liaising with officers about a street party held without permission on Great Windmill Street which caused serious disruption to residents. The party was held on the day of the Trump protest. Residents say:

“I was at work, and understand from my neighbours  that  a sound system had been  set up in the afternoon, as an overspill from the main march demonstrating against president Trumps visit. People were drinking,dancing and having a jolly time. At 7pm- by which time the point had been made- my husband texted me to say he could hear it was still going on.

I was back home when at 8pm a juggernaut rolled up on to Brewer Street blocking Great Windmill Street – this proved to house an enormous sound system which proceeded to blast thumping music at such a vast volume that the buildings were shaking. It was not possible to concentrate ,do any work or watch tv – it was truly extraordinary.”

John Snow pump

We are pleased that the historic Broadwick Street hand pump outside the John Snow pub at the corner of Lexington Street and Broadwick Street has now been reinstated, as of Friday 20th July.

‘Decluttering Soho’ post

Long-standing Kemp House resident Andrew Murray has written a blog about clutter, in particular from signage due to roadworks and diverted traffic, in Soho:

https://stateofsoho.wordpress.com/2018/07/19/decluttering-soho/

Hotelification of Soho

An interesting recent article from the ‘Evening Standard’

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/hotels-and-high-rents-blow-soho-s-grime-away-and-force-creatives-to-look-elsewhere-a3872286.html

FITZROVIA

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to urge One Housing Association to take the necessary action to strop the anti-social behaviour from one of their tenants.

Langham Street

We have been liaising with residents about their concerns regarding a local pub landlord. Residents say:

“Is there anything we can do about the landlord’s parties on their roof terrace? I’m trying to work and the noise is impossible. Last time it went on all afternoon until closing time, making this room almost unusable, and I have to keep the window closed. And this time they’ve put up a large umbrella that extemds well over our light well. With this hot weather, I imagine this will happen on many Sunday afternoons.”

We welcome that a new pub landlord has now replaced the old pub landlord and hope this will mean there is more respect for the right to a relative degree of peace and quiet.

Middleton Place

Residents are worried about plans to introduce new cycle racks on Middleton Place. Residents say:

“The purpose of this email concerns the Installation of Bike Racks in Middleton Place. The very strongly held feeling among local residents is that these Bike Racks are unnecessary in this particular location and will prove detrimental to the particular residential and pedestrian nature of Middleton Place. These are concerns I share, and my main reasoning for being opposed to them are as follows:

  1. Safety Risk – Middleton Place is home to three Octogenarians, all very frail of body. I have been fortunate to grow up here my whole life, and remember when I was a little boy a very sad incident that affected a resident senior the last time we had bike racks (which the council quite rightly removed). Upon exiting her house she was hit by a cyclist and suffered severe injuries. This could very well happen again if cycling is encouraged through Middleton Place
  2. Unnecessary in this location – at the other end of Middleton Place, across Langham Street on the corner with Gosfield Street, there are bike racks that sit empty.
  3. The Area is already used for illicit activity, which bike racks will encourage – Further to the above point for this area not having any commercial need for bike racks, the area’s seclusion has in the past made it a ‘hot area’ for criminal activity including drug dealing and prostitution. This was the basis for the council removing the Phone Box a few years ago. Bringing in Bike Racks now will simply return a congregation point to an area that does not need one.
  4. The current railing is necessary – the current railing is necessary. As well as there being several elderly residents on Middleton Place, there are also several young children who like to play football in the alleyway. The railing prevents children from running out into the road, so is very useful for this purpose.

 In short – the Bike Racks are unnecessary, and their construction will be detrimental to the area.”

“The unnecessary expense of removing the existing railing which serves as an (underutilised) bike rack to then spend more money installing new bike racks seems extremely wasteful in these times of austerity.  And, as you now know, the previous installation of bicycle racks at this very location was a disaster and ended with their removal.”

Even though we support the introduction of more cycling parking facilities, we have decided not to support the proposals for new cycle racks and look for other places where they are more appropriate.

Cleveland Street/Holcroft Court Triangle 

We are making an enquiry into this issue:

“As I was walking up Cleveland St last night I noticed a notice which announced the intention of WCC to reduce the highway – which I took to mean pavement.  Objections are sought.  However this doesn’t seem to appear in the planning applications list – so it must be something else. I’m rather concerned what it might bode.  Anyone got any ideas and can enlighten us.”

John Astor House

We are helping a resident who has been asked to move out of John Astor House housing to find accommodation in the private rented sector.  We have put the resident in touch with The Passage, a service that provides support to prevent homelessness.

MAYFAIR

Shepherd Market

We are making enquiries with the Council about these issues:

“I am a resident of Shepherd Market. We are badly served by the council in this fragile pedestrianised area. As you are probably aware this is not a residential street and needs a discrete approach to managing the environment. Having fought hard in 2015 to clarify rubbish management we are yet again back to uncollected rubbish, persistent dumping of rubbish outside stated collection times and no attempt by the council to monitor their own regulations. Moreover, the council gives permission for wine bars, restaurants with tables onto the street and building works without any thought for cleaning the paving stones on a regular basis. It so easily becomes squalid which in turn leads to more squalor.”

South Audley Street, Mayfair

We are taking up this issue with the Grosvenor Estate:

“I have just learned that Audley Pharmacy has been informed by Grosvenor Estates’ solicitors that they will not be offered a lease renewal in January 2019 and that they are taking back the shop premises.  This pharmacy has been established in South Audley Street for many, many years and we are not the only residents who are dependent on their services.

I thought that Grosvenor estates had a policy of trying to help preserve local amenities for residents, but frankly this is farcical, considering we lost our grocery shop on South Audley Street, whose premises has still not been re-let.  We lost Allen’s the butchers from Mount Street, which was a local institution and, despite reassurances by Grosvenor that the shop would be filled with a replacement food amenity store, a few years on the shop premises is still unoccupied and we have no replacement amenity.  We also lost our post office on Mount Street, we lost Hannell’s the paper shop, we are losing small family restaurants and cafes in North Audley Street, the list goes on.

It is hard to understand Grosvenor’s prioritisation of high end fashion, which offers no services to the community, yet they continue to drive their residential portfolio and seem to believe they are providing for their residents.  This is the last straw to take our pharmacy away, it is part of the residential neighbourhood and key to the ongoing health of its residents.”

We have heard that Grosvenor have now offered Audley Pharmacy a new lease, but it will only extend 5 years instead of the usual 10. We are making enquiries into this.

Conduit Street

We have supported residents’ objections to a commercial development planning application in Conduit Street. Residents object to the impact the application would have on the Mayfair Conservation Area; the impact on the business below, Vivienne Westwood; loss of sunlight and daylight. Unfortunately it was approved.

Grosvenor Buildings on Bourdon Street

We have been helping a resident who has faced numerous problems after she was moved out of her flat due to a fire in a flat below. She stayed in a hotel for many weeks, and was being asked to move back into the flat before she felt comfortable doing so, as it was  felt that repairs had not been completed. We asked Sanctuary housing to allow her to extend her stay in the hotel, which they did. We are now continuing to help her with issues she is facing, including potentially insurance claims.

Clarges Street

We are helping residents with the following problem:

“Over the last day or two, a new bus stop has been placed on the South Side of Piccadilly opposite Clarges Street.

It seems to be there for commercial tourist double decker buses (“Big Bus”) and it is being used as much as a parking/waiting spot as a place where buses stop briefly. It seems to be there to replace the previous bus stops outside Green Park tube station.

This causes a number of issues for residents of the three buildings overlooking the bus stop (c 50-60 flats):

  • It really impairs residents’ view to have up to two double decker buses parked often for prolonged periods in front of Green Park
  • The positioning of the stop is already causing congestion (and so noise, fumes, etc) as (i) it takes out a lane on a narrow part of Piccadilly which was already marked with a double yellow line (ii) it causes pedestrian congestion on a narrow part of the pavement
  • The bus drivers leave their diesel engines on while parked and that causes noise and is bad for air quality.

Residents were not consulted about this. I do not know whether planning permission is needed, but it seems very odd that a purely commercial operation such as Big Bus should be allowed to cause all these problems for residents without residents having any say. The bus stops were appropriately sited before – near tube station, on a wide stretch of Piccadilly and where there were wide pavements and far from residential blocks – and we cannot see any reason why they needed to be relocated.”

Scotts, Mount Street

We are opposing a licensing application which has been submitted to extend the opening hours of Scotts. Mount Street is a residential street and it would have an impact on the wellbeing of residents. Residents say:

“The new licence seeks extended trading hours until 1:30am Mon-Sat and 1:00 am on a Sunday which is far too late for a street that is dominated by residential use after 6pm.  Customers leaving restaurants inevitably creates noise nuisance to residents through voices, groups saying goodbye, taxi and car engines, doors slamming etc…  With the restaurant increasing their trading hours into the early hours, this disturbance is continued for yet another hour and a half.  Allowing operating hours until 1:30am/1am will have a hugely detrimental effect on the quality of life for the many residential neighbours in the area.”

Mount Street Gardens

We have asked the Council to repair a pothole in Mount Street Gardens after a resident who tripped over had a serious injury.

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

City West Homes

Are you a City West Homes resident? Fill in our survey about CWH services and how they can be improved. http://bit.ly/surveycwh

Westminster Council has finally agreed to review City West Homes following months of complaints from residents and pressure from Labour Councillors
https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/…/citywest-homes-r…/

Unfortunately, the Council intend to consult just a few tenants and leaseholders. We believe all CWH residents should have the chance to tell the Council what they think. Complete the survey by 2 September and we’ll forward your views to the Council.

Councillor Pancho Lewis in the news

An article by Dave Hill – Labour’s West End councillor on developers, Soho and siding with Mayfair residents on Oxford Street

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/westminster-labours-west-end-councillor-on-developers-soho-and-siding-with-mayfair-residents-on-oxford-street/

An article in The Guardian about how the West End elected its first Labour councilor
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/17/pancho-lewis-west-end-tory-mayfair-councillor-property-developers-corporate-london

Plans for Oxford Street

We have carried out a preliminary consultation on residents’ views about what the new plans for Oxford Street should look like.

In response to the question ‘what should happen to Oxford Street?’ we have received the following suggestions and ideas. These have included:

– Introducing a tram or shuttle bus service that goes from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch and even further afield in West and East London.

– Making sure there is greening on Oxford Street so that it is a pleasant place for people to visit and work in. Oxford Street currently treats people only as consumers, rather than as human beings that are more than just shoppers.

– Making sure Oxford Street supports local businesses and helps build strong local communities.

Some concerns about what not to do have also been expressed. The following concerns were made:

– Ensuring new plans do not divert traffic to residential streets. There are different ideas about how to do this, with some opposing any removal of buses or taxis off Oxford Street and others opting for part-pedestrianisation (for example on weekends or certain times of the day). There was also the view that some parallel streets do not get enough traffic and so could benefit from more traffic, but this was a minority view.

– Being wary of the context of road changes in Camden (eg Tottenham Court Road) as well as Baker Street and the impact these changes will have in terms of displacement of traffic.

Moving forward, West End Labour will be scrutinising the Council’s plans and their consultation process very closely. It’s critical that they get the plans right and the voices of local people are not only heard but genuinely help shape the plans. We also hope to outline our own vision for the future of Oxford Street and will keep you updated about this.

Question by Labour Assembly Member to London Mayor about Oxford Street

Andrew Dismore
As Westminster Council has now rejected your plans for pedestrianising Oxford Street, where does this project go now?

Answer
The Mayor

“Westminster City Council was a full partner and decision-maker in developing our joint proposals for transforming Oxford Street. It is extremely disappointing that the council leadership has pulled out of our partnership without any discussion or effort to compromise and reach agreement.

I have made clear that I will not walk away from Oxford Street. It is too important to the future of our city. Tackling the pressing problems and human costs of its poor road safety record, toxic air, substandard public realm and the very challenging retail environment needs leadership and real action. I am determined to deal with these problems and support businesses in making the most of the huge opportunity the Elizabeth line brings.

I will be urgently seeking to understand from Westminster what steps it intends to take in its “completely new proposals” for Oxford Street and how these will interact with the Elizabeth line stations. Transport for London will also be looking at any urgent steps it can take to support the West End, ahead of the significant improvement to air quality that Ultra Low Emission Zone will bring to the whole area from next year.”

Chinese National Healthy Living Centre

Eddie Chan, Director of the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre (CNHLC) at the Soho Square Health Centre has written :

“Facing £60,000 public funding cuts our Centre has launched a fundraising campaign  to save the Centre. Could you help us to promote this simple text donation method please?

Send text to 70070
Type in UKCH88 and the amount of donation (for example if people want to donate £3 – just enter UKCH88£3 in a text message).  Maximum amount that can be gifted by text is £10 .Then press the send button.

For larger amounts people can use the following internet links to make their donations as well:

https://wwwjustgiving.com/ChineseNationalHLC/Donate

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cnhlcwalk “

He has provided a short piece about the work of the Centre:

“The Chinese National Healthy Living Centre (registered charity no 1002158) was founded in 1987 to promote healthy living and reduce health inequalities experienced by disadvantaged Chinese in the UK. Language difficulties and cultural differences present major obstacles to many Chinese people accessing mainstream health and social care. The CNHLC provides a bridge between the Chinese community and mainstream services, facilitating access to health care and better health outcomes.”

This is a very important service for the Chinese Community. They are based in the basement of the Soho Square Health Centre and have an advice drop in service with a number of clinicians etc.  every  Sunday in the meeting room on the first floor which I am told is very popular and well attended.

Can you help spread the word?

If you want to speak to him his contact details are: : 020 3802 0350 / eddie.chan@cnhlc.org.uk

My Westminster Fund

The My Westminster Fund is open for applications until 27 August. The fund is open to all voluntary organisations, resident, faith and community groups within Westminster. This includes schools and other establishments which care for Westminster residents (such as residential care homes). All individual applications must be for under £10,000, and must benefit residents in a neighbourhood in Westminster. Your project must support one of these themes:

  • community leadership
  •  community cohesion and pride in your community
  • environment and greening
  • young people  

https://www.westminster.gov.uk/mywestminster-fund

What you say

“I read, with great gratitude as always, the latest newsletter. Thank you all so very much for all you have done, and continue to do.”

“Thank you so very much for your constant vigilance and response to all calls for help.”

“Thank you for all of your support, Pancho, it is much appreciated.”

“I do want you to know you are going to be a wonderful Councillor etc, your efforts over this sorry saga have been tremendous!”

“To thank you for all you have done and are doing for my neighbour. It will be a great consolation to her to feel that she has someone fighting her corner for her.”

“Pancho is such a hero working on these multiple issues.  We are so lucky to have him as councillor.”

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please let us know and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Councillor Pancho Lewis and Patrick Lilley 
West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at
pancho.lewis@gmail.com
patricklilley@me.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – June 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

SOHO

Peter Street

Residents reported a broken streetlight and raised concerns about anti-social behaviour developing as a result. We reported it to the Council’s team who went on to fix it.

Berwick Street

We have written the following letter to the Council about the building works:

“I write to ask what the timescale is for the building works by Kemp House on Berwick Street. This has been going on for years now – to residents it feels like decades. As you’ll know, the drilling, dust, noise and other sources of constant disruption have taken a huge toll on residents.

One resident has developed tinnitus as a result of all the noise. The mental health of many residents has been impacted. And on top of all this, communication with residents has often been very poor – with five or six, if not more, organisations involved in the development.  As a result, when residents and local businesses write to one of the organisations involved, often the response they get is they need to write to someone else, only to be told when they contact that other organisation that they need to speak to someone else, and so it continues.

There is a significant economic impact too – with many of the businesses in Berwick Street closing down too.What action can be taken to minimise any further disruption to residents and ensure a timescale is adhered to?”

Ingestre Court

We have written to the Council to ask that an immediate investigation be undertaken to find out why the ventilation system used in flats has been blocked. As one resident put it:

“Citywest homes have deemed that the bathroom windows to each flat at Ingestre Court need to be fire rated with a self sealing fan which is not an issue. The issue is that CWH are forcing residents to close the bathroom windows and propose to board them up tomorrow with a promise of a permanent solution in a few months time which would breach building regulations preventing ventilation to the bathrooms and would cause health issues with damp and mould within a short time. Citywest homes have failed to provide a fire officers report confirming the temporary measures are required immediately and failed to provide a statement relating to the temporary breach of building regulations.

Without ventilation to the bathrooms the flats are no longer fit for purpose.”

We asked City West Homes to fix the heating controls in Ingestre Court after one resident reported:

“Ingestre Court originally had a communal system of heating and hot water until a couple of years ago when somebody decided to tear everything apart and install individual boilers.  The residents were put through Hell and have lived in Hell ever since, with controls which they cannot control!  Many of them have endured long periods without heating or hot water during the winter”

Richmond Mews 

We have been supporting residents of Soho Lofts who have had problems with deliveries to the various commercial premises with access to Richmond Mews. Residents say: 

“The emergency exit is being regularly left open, people smoking in the mews by the open door – in spite of the notice on the back of the door which says words to the effect of ‘do not open this door’. People coming out of the delivery doors at the back and dropping rubbish into the bins at 3am, particularly glass which makes a noise. Delivery people banging on back door for admittance.”

Chancel Court, Dean Street

We have written to Soho Housing Association on behalf of tenants of Chancel Court on Dean Street who had their water supply cut off for 3 days.

Chancel Court, Dean Street

We wrote to Soho Housing Association on behalf of tenants of Chancel Court on Dean Street who had their water supply cut off for 3 days. We are pleased Soho HA responded quickly by setting up a temporary solution during the bank holiday weekend until a permanent solution was found when staff were able to repair the problem after the weekend.

1-6 Dufour’s Place

We are helping residents who face onto Marshall Street who experience noise nuisance coming from the street in the early hours.  We are pressing Shaftesbury to take control of the situation, as the noise is often related to the nightclubs in the Carnaby Street area that are tenants of Shaftesbury.

“Since January, the situation with the taxi-pick-ups on Marshall Street, when the clubs in the Carnaby Area are turning out every night, has not improved. There continue to be dozens and dozens of taxi drop off and pick-ups every single night from directly below our block of flats on Marshall Street, with constant horn blowing from Midnight to sometimes 5am in the morning, while the clubs and private functions stagger their opening and closing times from the clubs who are your tenants in the Carnaby Street area.  The noise from the screeching, drunk clubbers and the constant stream of cars in relationship to the clubs is intolerable now, with Marshall Street, it seems, the only taxi pick-up for the whole of the Carnaby area – with no other access for cars.

Can anything concrete be done to alter this situation – to make it better?”

Also, we have again called on City West Homes to investigate the heating system here:

“GEM have turned off the heating for the summer, without the slightest warning to residents of this dramatic change to an established practice many years in place, and agreed long ago. How dare CityWest Homes have made such a radical change to the conditions in which residents live without even warning them.”

Following our enquiries, the Council say:

“I can confirm that we will be changing how we manage block shutdowns and have put in place anew procedure which stipulates that no block shutdowns will take place without giving all residents at least 7 days’ notice. 

We have also proposed, that if leaseholders would like to carry out upgrades within their dwelling, our contractor will attend 2-3 days before the leaseholder has proposed to carry out the work to install isolation valves. This will then mean that when the proposed work needs to be carried out this can be isolated locally and no other residents will be affected.”

7 Dufour’s Place

We have again asked Soho Housing Association to adjust the heating system controls to allow residents to control the heating in their flats. 

Gay Hussar, Dean Street

We have called on Gay Hussar landlord Corus Hotels, to reverse their 30% rent increase in a bid to save one of Soho’s most celebrated and iconic restaurants from closure. For decades, Gay Hussar – a Hungarian restaurant on Greek Street – has served as a meeting place for politicians, pundits, writers and artists meeting to discuss and gossip about the latest in Westminster politics and London cultural life.

Councillor Pancho Lewis said:

“This is yet another example of landlords whacking up rents to make a quick buck. This isn’t ok. Places like the Gay Hussar are integral to Soho’s character and history and need to be protected. That’s why I’m calling on Corus Hotels to reverse their decision and take a different approach – to work with the management team at Gay Hussar to safeguard its future. It’s time that landlords put Soho and its heritage above making more profit. I am also reaching out to the Goulash cooperative – who did such important work in 2013 to protect the venue when it was threatened back then – to see how I can support them in their attempts to build a sustainable future for the restaurant”.

More details can be found here:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/26/gay-hussar-soho-to-shut-soho-labour-lunches-plots-gossip?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Copy_to_clipboard

Soho Square

We are pleased that, after a massive public outcry, plans for a ‘VIP picnic’ event allowing people to reserve patches in Soho Square were cancelled. Restaurant booking app OpenTable offered customers the opportunity to book a spot in Soho Square for free over the bank holiday weekend. We hope that the Council takes note of this opposition in the future.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/vip-picnic-event-offering-people-free-reserved-spots-in-public-soho-park-is-cancelled-after-fierce-a3847366.html

Wardour Street

According to ‘Broadcast Now’: 

“Details have emerged of the City of Westminster’s deliberations in awarding planning permission for an upmarket 174-bedroom, seven-storey hotel on Wardour Street. A City of Westminster sub-committee granted conditional planning permission, subject to a few minor stipulations. This was despite a series of objections, including those of The Soho Society, which opposed the “unwelcome change of use” and the “impact on businesses in the existing building”.”

https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/tech/how-wardour-street-hotel-won-planning-permission/5129946.article

FITZROVIA 

Rubbish collection problems

We are setting up a meeting between residents and Council officers to look at how the persistent problem of rubbish collection issues can be tackled. Residents point out that the current system doesn’t work and rubbish bags are often left out on the street for hours before they are picked up. We are looking at bringing back the big bins that residents used to use. Residents say:

“Might you be able to campaign to reinstate the big black bins on the corner of Foley Street and Langham Street and also the ones on Ogle Street. I live in Fitzrovia and we are blighted by litter on the streets – I am very sure that this is due to the lack of places for people to put their litter, rather than any other issue. People want to put their litter in the bins, there just aren’t any for them to use! This is evident by the fact that bin bags pile up where the big bins used to be! The policy of doing multiple collections instead is surely more costly and just means that we have bin bags all over the streets everyday between collections.”

Newman Street

Councillor Pancho Lewis spoke at a planning committee this month to oppose plans to build a new hotel on Newman Street. He raised issues to do with the ‘hotelification’ of the West End and the disruption building a hotel would cause for residents. The Conservative Councillors on the committee support the application, and the one Labour Councillor on the committee opposed it.

Pancho also worked with residents of Newman Street to oppose an application to extend licensing hours for Mimi’s Bar. We’re pleased the Licensing committee decided not to approve the application. Residents were concerned about the disruption it would cause. One said:
“19 Newman Street used to be a post office and local shop.  It was closed down by leaseholders and they have built a bar.  Initially they wanted to open a 400 people private members club / bar / night club.  Neighbours and I objected in 2014/15 and the hearing in 2015 granted them a licence for 280 people and reduced hours limited to the weekend.  This has nonetheless been very disturbing to the street with noise, cars, people smoking outside, and making a lot of noise as they disbursed and waited for taxis merry and drunk.  I have complained many times to owners and to Westminster.

Now they want to extend their business hours to every evening: Sunday to Thursday till 3am and Thursday to Sunday till 6am!!!!! Their entrance is directly opposite my bedroom wi down and frankly this is not acceptable.  How can we as residents be expected to able to produce at work and be effective in our lives if we cannot get any decent sleep and rest on a daily basis in our own homes? And we have worked very very hard to get these homes. This would be unliveable!”

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to urge One Housing to take the necessary action to end the long-running anti-social behavior from a resident in Gosfield Street.

Portland Place – what you say

I read with interest the Portland Place section of your excellent Action Report. I fully agree with the sentiment of every parent, but I think it would be most helpful and productive if the same parents would desist from double parking when dropping off and collecting their children from the schools.  This is a real traffic hazard and a safety issue not only for the children but other road users and pedestrians.   Apart from the parents, it is often chauffeurs who are the culprits.”

MAYFAIR

Park Lane

We have called on Westminster Council to suspend the licence of Drama nightclub in Park Lane pending an investigation by the Licensing team into allegations that black women were charged £20 entrance fee while white women were charged just £10. Nadine Marsh-Edwards wrote on Twitter and Facebook:

“My daughter went to a club in the west end last night. Black girls got charged £20 entrance fee- white girls £10… London life right now.” “They need to be reminded it’s London 2018 not Mississippi 1962…”

Councillor Pancho Lewis, Labour West End Ward Councillor said:

“We are determined to make sure we get to the bottom of this. There is absolutely no place for this kind of behaviour. Unfortunately, there is a history of discrimination in West End clubs but it must and has to be stamped out.”

A spokesperson for Drama, Park Lane said,

“Thank you for alerting us to this serious allegation, which we are urgently investigating. We operate a non-discriminatory policy and we place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination against any individual or group. The standard door charge at Drama Park Lane is £20. Promotions are offered for various reasons, but never on the grounds of discrimination of race, colour or national origin.”

See https://theovertake.com/~beta/racist-london-nightclubs/

Berkeley Square and Brook Street

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate these two issues:

“Berkeley Square, south side. When walking north-south through Berkeley Square, when you emerge at the south end there is nowhere to go without crossing the road – except back round to the north again which is pointless. Yet there is nowhere to cross safely, with poor sight-lines from parked cars and vehicles merging from two directions (southbound from the east side of the square and northbound from Berkeley Street).

“Brook Street. Many pedestrians walk south through South Molton Lane and South Molton Street, cross Brook Street, then continue south through Avery Row (and vice versa). Crossing Brook Street used to be relatively easy but since it’s become two-way it’s become far more dangerous – especially when going south, as it’s almost impossible to see westbound traffic a lot of the time. Taxi drivers tend to be aware of the situation and often slow down to let pedestrians pass; other motorists, understandably, don’t. A pedestrian crossing linking Avery Row with the South Moltons would make crossing Brook St much less risky.”

Old Bond Street 

We received this message and asked the Street Sweeping Team to investigate:

I hope you send someone to Old Bond Street to survey the mess that Stella McCartney has created from her shop, No. 23, almost to the end of the block (No. 45) where it intersects Piccadilly.  The pavement is carpeted with the mess … suspect the Council will foot the bill to clean it up … can’t imagine the other upscale shops will be happy with the down-market look … not exactly chic.”

Mayfair Library – what you say

“Mayfair library has re-opened, there is still work to be carried on in the basement, the basement is not used by the public so there is no need to have the library closed while work is carried out, all scaffolding is now gone. The decoration looks good, the lighting system is environmental friendly and should be cost effective it only comes on when people are under the lights.” 

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Twelve more scandals from City West Homes 

Council elections come and go but City West Homes’ performance just gets worse. Over the past few weeks since the Council elections we have received scores of cries for help from City West Homes tenants and leaseholders and here are 12 of the worst everyday scandals. We have been working with residents to address their problems since the issues were raised.

City West Homes appears incapable of sorting out this mess and we have now called on the Council’s Chief Executive to step in. We have asked

  • Why are CWH continuing to make life a misery for residents?
  • When is someone going to get a grip of City West Homes and turn it in to a functioning, competent organisation?
  • When will the Council take ultimate responsibility for this sorry state of affairs?

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/twelve-more-scandals-from-city-west-homes/ 

Oxford Street

Councillor Pancho Lewis says:

“We arevery pleased Oxford Street pedestrianisation plans are going to be rethought from scratch. West End Labour opposed the plans and campaigned for a total rethink.The local community needs a plan that will reduce, not displace traffic into surrounding areas and build a sustainable future for the West End.”

Rubbish Dumping

We have launched a 10-point plan to tackle the current dumping epidemic across Westminster, including Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair. The current Council approach to tackling dumping needs to change to respond to the massive increase in furniture, household goods and other material being dumped on the streets.

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/labour-launches-10-point-plan-to-tackle-rubbish-dumping-in-westminster/

Westminster Refugee Welcome Committee

We have received this message:

“Westminster Refugee Welcome Committee is a group of volunteers working together to ensure the resettlement, warm welcome, and successful integration of vulnerable refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the City of Westminster. We focus on complementing the Council’s efforts to source housing, fundraising, and facilitating the resettlement of those making a home in our borough via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), which includes Community Sponsorship. 

Our aim is to ensure that resettled people feel welcome in their new community as well as being able to make their own contribution. London can be overwhelming and it can often be difficult to feel a part of a community. We want incoming families to feel they have friendly faces on hand to support and befriend them, and to help them learn how to thrive in their new city. 

As such we are always looking for volunteers, who will be able to commit to certain roles in the preparation and welcoming periods.  There are many roles available, including locating housing, fundraising, equipping properties, welcoming at the airport, local orientation, among others. If you are interested, please do get in touch via Robbie Parks (co-chair of Westminster Refugee Welcome) at rmiparks@gmail.com

What you say

“Thank you all the wonderful pictures of Berwick Street market included in the latest newsletter.  These were marvellous but bittersweet for me, because the scenes were so familiar – the thronged market, the huge number of shoppers (so many of them, I know, residents now gone), the whole scene so vibrant and vital, so full of life.Thank you very much indeed for publishing these pictures – I and everyone I have spoken to who has seen them adored them.” 

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please let us know and we will add them to the list.

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – Late May 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Hopkins Street

We have asked Dolphin Living’s managing agents to repair the intercom to the flats at 2 Hopkins Street.

Kemp House

We are helping residents who have been battling with City West Homes to get a replacement fire-resistant front door and have been waiting for 10 months for this to be resolved.

Dufour’s Place

We are again assisting residents in Dufour’s Place who are having problems with hot water and we have contacted Soho Housing about this. Following our enquiries, Soho Housing said:

“We had originally scheduled this for later this month, but given the concerns you have raised and the warm weather we are currently experiencing we have instructed our contractor to action this immediately. “

William Blake House, Dufour’s Place

We have asked City West Homes to deal with problems on one of the floors where there are unpleasant smells causing difficulties for residents and visitors. There are also problems with noisy pipes

Changing Soho

What do you think of this article in the ‘Evening Standard’ magazine by resident Joy Lo Dico about changes in Soho?

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/when-the-iconic-magazine-store-wardour-news-announced-plans-to-close-it-provoked-an-outpouring-of-a3833641.html

Berwick Street

Pictures and Films of Berwick Street Market in Soho – Where Noel Coward bought smart socks and Gertrude Lawrence smart stockings at bargain prices in their early days…

https://flashbak.com/pictures-of-the-wonderful-berwick-street-market-in-londons-soho-398774/

FITZROVIA

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to help residents in Gosfield Street who are suffering from anti-social behavior.

We are also helping residents who need a transfer to more appropriate accommodation.

Newman Street

We are supporting residents who are objecting to a late night application licence at 19 Newman Street. Residents say:

“19 Newman Street used to be a post office and local shop.  It was closed down by leaseholders and they have built a bar.  Initially they wanted to open a 400 people private members club/bar /night club.  Residents objected in 2014/15 and the hearing in 2015 granted them a licence for 280 people and reduced hours limited to the weekend.  This has nonetheless been very disturbing to the street with noise, cars, people smoking outside, and making a lot of noise as they disbursed and waited for taxis merry and drunk. 

Now they want to extend their business hours to every evening: Sunday to Thursday till 3am and Thursday to Sunday till 6am. How can we as residents be expected to able to produce at work and be effective in our lives if we cannot get any decent sleep and rest on a daily basis in our own homes?”

MAYFAIR

Grosvenor Square

We have written to the Council’s Licensing Team about this issue:

“There’s significant concern among residents about the Grosvenor Square licensing application, both from residents living on Grosvenor Square itself and in Peabody Housing by Brown Hart Gardens. The concerns relate to noise, disruption, the commercialisation of a historic space which until now has not been used for non-commercial purposes, and the ambiguity of the application in terms of the length of time it would take to set up and dismantle events. Residents were caught unaware of the deadline of 1 May.”

Residents say:

“The issue with this application is that it is short on details. Does 15 Commercial Events per year mean that the square can be used, say over 15 weekends per year for trade shows, parties etc. all of which may require lengthy set up and dismantling time as well? This could mean for example, that the square is unusable or has limited usage for local residents and the public for, say 90 days (two days set-up, two days of event and then another two days for dismantling = six days per event x 15 events = 90 days). This would represent a material quality of life degradation.”

Also, it has been brought to our attention that events in Grosvenor Square have already been advertised, even though licensing hasn’t yet been granted by the Council. https://www.seetickets.com/search?q=Grosvenor+Square. We have written to the Grosvenor Estate to say:

“There’s strong opposition among residents to these plans so surely the best thing to do would be to at the minimum wait for these to be approved (if they are approved) before advertising events?”

Grosvenor’s plans are here http://www.grosvenorlondon.com/whats-on/in-the-square/

The Licensing Committee will be meeting at 10.00 at City Hall, 5 The Strand to consider the application.

North Audley Street

We have contacted the Refuse Collection team about this issue:

“Residents have been complaining about bin collections at night in North Audley Street. Residents have been in touch with the council officers and were told that the bins would be removed to another place because of the noise and disturbance. Nothing has yet happened and I felt that you would be able to help residents in the block.”

Bourdon Street

Following our enquiries with Sanctuary Housing regarding problems caused by seagulls at St George’s Building, Sanctuary tell us:

“We have been pursuing a number of routes in an attempt to resolve the matter and initially approached the building owner as Sanctuary hold a leasehold interest.  Seagulls, like all UK wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This means it is a criminal offence to kill, injure or destroy their nest whilst the nest is in use or being built. Unfortunately, this means that we will be unable to take any action until later in the year. We are however looking at installing a type of chimney cowl that can be fitted to stop the Sea gulls nesting. I have asked that I be kept updated in respect of progress with this matter.”

Residents say:

“I took specialist advice last year. It was that a low level (about 2” high) electric fence, for want of a better description, is needed around around the top of the chimney stacks to stop the seagulls congregating there. Apparently this is a common and effective solution. I was told the cost is relatively low – about £2,000, as I recall. Fitting chimney cowls is only a partial solution. Your continuing efforts are truly appreciated. “

Piccadilly

We have contacted BT about this issue:

“Residents have reported that the payphones on Piccadilly are in a state of disrepair, and often used as toilets and sometimes as places where people take drugs too. The best solution would be for these to be removed, and if that’s not possible, blocked off. “

Mount Street Gardens

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“We all support Mayfair Library and so are delighted that it is being restored. However, in the process WCC have behaved as if they need not to be accountable to anyone. For a start they commandeered a piece of Mount St Gardens for their building depot. Secondly, they are now using a crane, which they are bringing in and out of the garden to paint final sections of the Library and in the process (a.) blocking the road, without notification to residents; (b.) driving the machine in and out of the gardens, scratching the garden gates and driving, not only into their depot in the Garden , but also onto other stretches of the
Garden.

We want the Library to be decorated, but we also want to see local residents respected and we want the Gardens (the large space of their depot and where they have driven over the Garden) and the gate of the Gardens to be restored. If we or any other party had done this in a building project we would have been fined. Just because WCC are in charge does not mean that they are unaccountable.”

Mayfair Neighbourhood Plan

The Mayfair Neighbourhood Plan has been submitted by the Mayfair Neighbourhood Forum to the Council for consultation. The plan includes policies on a range of matters including heritage, community uses, retail, commercial, housing, cultural uses, transport and the environment. If adopted, the plan will become part of Westminster’s statutory development plan and will be used alongside the council’s own planning documents and the Mayor’s London Plan in determining planning applications in the Mayfair Neighbourhood Area.

You can see the plan and make comments here https://www.westminster.gov.uk/NP-mayfair

What you say

“Many congratulations on your success at the polls”

“Soho’s a tough and expensive place, with serious housing and homeless and drugs issues that are swept aside and raided rather than resolved.  You have achieved, the postponement (at least) of the pedestrianisation project, which would have made matters worse. You have achieved a reset on the planning and developer relationship, that will require serious energy, ideas and work to maintain.”

“Just want to congratulate you for making an impact, shifting the terms of the West End conversation and getting a man aboard. Well done and thank you”

Please accept my sincere congratulations on your election results. The results have clearly shown that Labour Party can and will win even in Conservative heartland.”

“Congratulations for all your hard work and that of your colleagues.  I still think there were subtle gains and delighted you have taken a council seat in the West End Ward, congratulations to Pancho Lewis.”

“Congratulations Cllr Lewis – amazing result in a safe Tory seat! You all did a remarkable job to get 3 candidates with 900+ votes. You’ve changed the local landscape and you’ll be a great councillor!”

If you know anybody who would like to receive this report please let us know and we will add them to the list.

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Councillor Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

For the first time in history, Mayfair has elected a Labour Councillor to Westminster City Council.

Pancho Lewis came second place in the ballot with 984 votes, only 6 votes behind the top Conservative Candidate and 11 votes ahead of the incumbent Tory Councillor Jonathan Glanz – both were also elected.

The result will send shockwaves across the country. Mayfair is part of West End electoral ward, which also includes Fitzrovia and Soho. The Ward has until now been seen as a Conservative safe seat, with Tory activists regarding it commonsense Labour would never be able to make gains there.

Labour more than doubled its vote share in the ward. In 2014, the party received an accumulated total of 1,281 votes and this year the figure stood at 2,858 – more than the 2,831 votes for the three Conservatives.

Councillor Pancho Lewis said:

“Residents of West End Ward have sent a clear message to Conservative-run Westminster Council.

It’s time for the Council to show they mean business and are ready to take action to address the community’s concerns. 

“The West End is being overdeveloped and over commercialised because the Conservative leadership has chosen to side with the property developers, allowing them to run riot in the ward. As a result they’ve put the area’s character and heritage at risk. We need to protect the West End’s unique character – that’s what people want and that’s what the Council needs to be doing.

“As the first Labour councillor for the area, I will work day in day out to represent residents’ concerns and work to hold the Conservative Leadership in the Council to account for the decisions it makes. I will work alongside my fellow Conservative Councillors for the West End wherever they are committed to addressing residents’ concerns.”

You can contact Pancho at pancho.lewis@gmail.com

For a full breakdown of the results please go to

https://www.westminster.gov.uk/election-2018

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – May 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Silver Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Last week one of the two lampposts in Silver Place was removed. Residents of Silver Place are anxious that it be replaced quickly. As you may know, there have been several break-ins in the last year in the immediate vicinity of this lamppost. Its absence is leaving that end, the western end, of Silver Place alarmingly dark.”

Denman Street

Following our enquiries, Sanctuary Housing has conformed that it will be replacing the broken glass in the doors and replacing the broken lift lights.

Wardour Street

Residents have told us of their unhappiness at the closure of another local shop due to a huge rent increase:

“I’ve just come back from Wardour News with this morning’s Guardian and bad news.  After 34 years the shop is closing at the end of May because the landlord is asking for a 50% rent increase. I’m both angry and depressed.  I don’t know who the landlord is, but 50% is excessively greedy and socially irresponsible. I like going there. There’s a wide variety of newspapers, a dazzling display of glossy magazines, and a friendly staff.  It’s part of our Soho neighbourhood and I’ve been happy to buy my newspaper there at full price rather than save a bit with coupons at Tesco.”

“Heartbroken to hear that they are having to close Wardour News due to rent increases in Soho. They opened the shop 34 years ago and he’s been one of the greatest stockists of fashion magazines ever! Truly gutted this has happened to one of the nicest human beings”

FITZROVIA

Hanson Street – what you say

“City West, they blighted the lives of people living in Hanson Street (where I live) for nearly a year in 2015 because the major repairs took so long. The contractor didn’t have skilled staff, and the quality of the work was appalling. I wrote this article for Fitzrovia news at the time:

City West Homes has poorly managed this maintenance programme and blighted people’s lives

I had a meeting with the CEO and he seemed to want to put things right. But to be honest, I have little confidence in the organisation as a whole. Interestingly, scaffolding has just gone back up on one of the City West buildings in Hanson Street that Axis worked on. “

Portland Place

We are supporting parents of children at schools in Portland Place who are concerned about road safety. Parents say:

“There are five schools in Portland Place, many with very small children (L’Ecole International Franco-Anglaise, Abercorn School, Portland Place School, Queen’s College Preparatory School and Southbank School). Road safety on Portland Place is unacceptable.”

Petition Links:

Overall safety review and request for Pelican Crossings/Pedestrian Light Sequence at the following locations:

  • Portland Place and New Cavendish Street (north side)
  • Portland Place Weymouth Street (south side)
  • Devonshire Street and Portland Place (south side)

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/safer-portlandpl/

Extension of time for pedestrians on pelican crossing at A501 and Park Crescent

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/lights-ParkCres/

Expanding current 20mph speed limit trials in Marylebone to include Portland Place

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/20mph-PortlandPl/

Queen Anne Street

Following our enquiries about a broken tree in Queen Anne Street, the Council’s Tree Officer tells us:

“I think we may have to wait until the autumn to replace this tree. It’s actually quite an unusual species of birch and only available from Hiller nurseries. I’ve asked our contractor to try an obtain one but been told that there are none available in the size we need until the autumn.”

MAYFAIR

Grosvenor Square Gardens

Residents have contacted us to raise concerns about the Grosvenor Estate’s plans for 15 commercial events a year. Residents say:

“Noise from Grosvenor Square Gardens reaches as far as the Brown Hart Gardens area and via Duke Street to Weighhouse Street, as well as going down other streets that actually lead off Grosvenor Square. We know this from when there were demonstrations penned against the hedges of the gardens – the noise arrived in Brown Hart Gardens, Balderton Street, Lumley Street. Demos restricted to the eastern end cause noise problems in Duke Street, Brown Hart Gardens, Weighouse Street.

Grosvenor wants to hold commercial events, 15 per year, which will probably be concentrated in the warmer months. They do not say how many unlicensed events they will hold, or how many non-commercial. Nor do they define ‘commercial’, but in Berkeley Square they hire out to private upmarket parties, causing noise nuisance, traffic problems, and damaging the grass.

Grosvenor Square should be a tranquil green space, not an events venue. Night time lights and noise will cause disturbance to wildlife as well as damaging residential amenity.”

North Mayfair

We are working with residents to investigate these issues:

“There are a lot of things that need looking into, for instance enforcement of weight restrictions on roads, vehicle idling, lack of traffic enforcement officers in some areas, bikes being chained to railings posts trees and other places, Oxford Street needs improvements/repairs. These are just a few of many problems facing residents and visitors in Mayfair.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Oxford Street – where we stand

We continue to oppose the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street because residents’ concerns have not been answered by Westminster Council’s leaders, by Transport for London (TfL) nor by the Mayor of London.

Westminster Council are entirely responsible for Oxford Street. The plans could never have got this far in the face of residents’ fears without Conservative Council leaders fully supporting it.

We oppose the plans; they should be paused and all options remain on the table. We believe there has been:

  • insufficient information or planning on traffic displacement
  • a lack of ideas on how those with limited mobility will continue to enjoy Oxford Street
  • uncertainty on safety on Oxford Street at night
  • late night visitors to Soho needing buses would have to walk a few blocks north past Oxford Street increasing potential related ASB into Fitzrovia and other wards
  • the consultations appear to residents to be rushed and unprofessional. This has made residents fear they were not being listened to
  • ideas to improve Oxford Street need to include the whole area to reduce traffic, including how they could enhance life Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Soho and beyond.

Our position has consistently put residents of the West End first. For years of Conservative rule in Westminster residents have not been allowed a voice and the Council has had far too close a relationship with powerful property developers. The Conservatives had years to oppose pedestrianisation and put forward alternatives – and they have done nothing.

We have been listening to residents for over 2 years, having thousands of conversations. We have consistently said we would oppose the plans if residents’ genuine fears about traffic displacement are not addressed; if those with limited mobility are not able to access Oxford Street fully and if ASB is not reduced. We have raised these issue for many months with TfL and the Mayor.

It is now time to pause the scheme and continue to listen to residents. Failure to do so could ruin Oxford Street itself and the 1,000 businesses that are already threatened by out of town shopping malls and crippling rent and business rates.

Rushing could also ruin the wonderful character and lives of many in neighbouring areas of Fitzrovia, Soho and Mayfair who we seek to represent.

Residents want less pollution, cleaner air, less traffic and fewer accidents for the whole area, not just moving traffic around.

We have consistently passed on these concerns to TfL and the Mayor.  If elected we will continue to put residents of Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair at the heart of decisions, not the big property developers.

You can see the West End Extra’s report of our pledge at the recent election hustings:

http://westendextra.com/article/labour-candidates-oppose-sadiq-khan-over-oxford-street-pedestrianisation

Council Elections – Thursday 3rd May

You can read Andrew Murray’s latest ‘State of Soho’ blogs here:

https://stateofsoho.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/all-to-play-for/

https://stateofsoho.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/soho-manifestos-2018-local-elections/

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

What you say

“Very, very, very good luck this week”

“I think you guys are doing a great job of connecting with local people and getting your messages across. I’ve lived in Fitzrovia for nearly 10 years and I’ve never felt that local people were being listened to as much.”

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.”

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

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

Promoted by Robin McGhee on behalf of Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville all at 4G Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – Late April 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Soho GP practice

We have written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to ask him to take action to save the Soho GP practice:

“We are writing to you to express our deep concerns over the ongoing situation at the Soho Square GP practice and the failure of the contract between the Central London CCG and the operator Living Care Medical Services.  

All the undertakings given by the operator in December 2017 have not been met. The GPs that had been working at the practice have left and been replaced by locums, which have on several occasions resulted in the practice having no medical staff who could see patients or authorise repeat prescriptions.

We are very concerned at the failure of the CCG to deal with these problems and call on you to investigate the serious issues at the Soho Square practice and difficulties in working with the CCG. We also urge you to request the Care Quality Commission to arrange an inspection of the Soho Square practice as soon as possible and to report to you with their findings as a matter of urgency.” 

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council to urgently look into the situation behind the closure of what is believed to be the oldest shop in Soho – the lighting shop W Stich on Berwick Street (http://www.wsitch.co.uk/ ). This reinforces the need for urgent action on rates and rents for SMEs on Berwick Street and across the West End as a whole.

We have also asked the Council to fix a bent sign post on the pavement on Berwick Street, just north of the junction with Broadwick Street.

Green’s Court

We have asked City West Homes to take action to deal with mould and damp in a flat in Green’s Court.

William Blake House, Dufour’s Place

We have asked City West Homes to investigate a number of issues raised by residents of William Blake House.

Dufour’s Place

We are again supporting residents in Dufour’s Place who are battling with Soho Housing Association to allow them to control the heating in their flats. Residents say:

‘The building is already over-heating and with temperature increases forecast this week the boiler does not need to be on 24 hours a day. As has already been established, it is unnecessary for it to run 24 hours a day; even in winter. If the system was networked this adjustment could be easily achieved without incurring call out costs for a visit to the Plant Room”

Denman Street

We have written to Sanctuary Housing and asked that the following be repaired:

  • the door on the top floor has glass missing from the top panel
  • the light in the lift is not working 

Standing up for Soho’s Small Businesses

Small businesses are integral to Soho’s unique identity and heritage. But they’ve fallen victim to rising rents and rates. The Conservatives in Westminster Council have chosen to side with powerful landlords and developers instead of helping small businesses.

We pledge to champion small businesses. We will stand up for small businesses and fight for them. We pledge to:

  • Send a strong message to developers and landlords. We will tell them that Soho’s existing small businesses need to be supported.
  • Oppose any development projects that give local residents and small businesses a bad deal.
  • Use the Council’s powers to create a Special Policy Area in Soho to protect and grow small businesses.
  • Work closely with small businesses to challenge rent reviews.
  • Lobby central government to bring down crippling business rates. 

Peter Street – what you say

“Temporary blacktop paving does seem best. About a year ago I saw men replacing concrete paving slabs, which, thanks to construction and other large vehicles, were crushed by the next day.  With a hotel on Hopkins Street traffic will be increasing around there.  What with that, maybe a shared street without kerbs and with rugged paving would be best.”

Broadwick Street – what you say

“With repaving work in Broadwick St, as well as construction work in both Hopkins St and Peter St, and with both misleading and unreadable traffic signs at the top of Ingestre Place, traffic is a mess around here.  Much backing up and reversing by drivers trying to get out.” 

FITZROVIA

Haddon House, Hanson Street

The handrail on the top floor of the stairs at Haddon House is coming loose as one of the brackets has lost its screws. We have asked City West Homes to fix this.

Wells Street

We have repeatedly asked the Council to take action to stop regular rubbish dumping outside 24 Mortimer Street (which has an entrance on Wells Street). The piles of rubbish cause a hazard to pedestrians and residents.

Mortimer Street – update

Following our report about a blocked gully on Mortimer Street, the Council says:

“We have attended site, but unfortunately, the crew were unable to fully raise the gully lid as the kerb is leaning over the gully. We have already raised this as a defect and I will come back to you with a date for the works to be carried out on the kerb and the gully cleaned.”

Middleton Place

Residents say the Council does not seem to do regular sweeping on Middleton Place and we have asked the Council to investigate. Residents say

“The landlord at the Yorkshire Grey does his own sweeping within his premises, and it would help with upkeep of the area if the Council helped with its sweeping duties too. Can this be looked at? “

The Council say 

“Sweeping schedules are largely designed to match pedestrian footfall patterns. As a relatively quiet side street, Middleton Place is swept each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Further sweeping can be provided if required on other days and this should be flagged by reporting litter on the Report It tab on the council website – this data is reviewed on at least a weekly basis and sweeping schedules adjusted in response to changing usage patterns.”

Langham Street

We have again reported rubbish dumping in Langham Street and called for cctv cameras to catch the dumpers and for stronger action by the Council:

“I’m becoming a bore on the subject of rubbish (corner of Gosfield Street andLangham Street particularly). Huge pile all yesterday afternoon and stillthere at 9am this morning. I see people on their way to work, justdropping off a bag as they go. They know it will be collected; this isthe place to leave it. *No one thinks of it as dumping*. we need biggerdifferent posters – “please don’t leave your rubbish here. Take itto…” or something. The other day I did call out from my flat tosomeone leaving bags there, pointed out the sign, which he hadn’tnoticed. said how I hated staring at a pile of rubbish. He said he wouldtoo, had missed the time when he was supposed to leave it outside thatmorning, and asked where to take it. I mentioned some bins in RidingHouse Street, and he kindly took them there. Threatening fines is ridiculous- who is going to catch them? and anyway they don’t think it applies tothem.” 

Foley Street

We have asked the Council to replace two lampposts which are broken on Foley Street

Queen Anne Street/Mansfield Street

We have asked the Council to move dumped rubbish at this location.

MAYFAIR

Brick Street

We have asked the Council to fix a dangerous pothole in Brick Street.

Mount Street/Berkeley Square

We have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate the crossing between Mount Street and Berkeley Square which is dangerous for pedestrians.

The Council say:

“We are currently developing a public realm scheme which will prioritise pedestrians and reduce vehicle dominance at the Mount Street/Davies Street junction.  Some of these include:

  • Traffic signals removal
  • Mini-roundabout installation
  • New wider footways
  • New narrow carriageways (shorter crossing points)
  • 3 informal crossing points 

The above will be implemented as part of the wider construction programme anticipated to commence in early summer 2018 and continue for a period of 12-16 months.”

Hanover Street

We have reported regularly rubbish dumping in Hanover Street.

Curzon Street

We are making enquiries with BT Openreach about the slow broadband speeds in Curzon Street.

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Oxford Street – where we stand

We continue to oppose the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street because residents’ concerns have not been answered by Westminster Council’s leaders, by Transport for London (TfL) nor by the Mayor of London.

Westminster Council are entirely responsible for Oxford Street. The plans could never have got this far in the face of residents’ fears without Conservative Council leaders fully supporting it.

We oppose the plans; they should be paused and all options remain on the table. We believe there has been:

  • insufficient information or planning on traffic displacement
  • a lack of ideas on how those with limited mobility will continue to enjoy Oxford Street
  • uncertainty on safety on Oxford Street at night
  • late night visitors to Soho needing buses would have to walk a few blocks north past Oxford Street increasing potential related ASB into Fitzrovia and other wards
  • the consultations appear to residents to be rushed and unprofessional. This has made residents fear they were not being listened to
  • ideas to improve Oxford Street need to include the whole area to reduce traffic, including how they could enhance life Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Soho and beyond.

Our position has consistently put residents of the West End first. For years of Conservative rule in Westminster residents have not been allowed a voice and the Council has had far too close a relationship with powerful property developers. The Conservatives had years to oppose pedestrianisation and put forward alternatives – and they have done nothing.

We have been listening to residents for over 2 years, having thousands of conversations. We have consistently said we would oppose the plans if residents’ genuine fears about traffic displacement are not addressed; if those with limited mobility are not able to access Oxford Street fully and if ASB is not reduced. We have raised these issue for many months with TfL and the Mayor.

It is now time to pause the scheme and continue to listen to residents. Failure to do so could ruin Oxford Street itself and the 1,000 businesses that are already threatened by out of town shopping malls and crippling rent and business rates.

Rushing could also ruin the wonderful character and lives of many in neighbouring areas of Fitzrovia, Soho and Mayfair who we seek to represent.

Residents want less pollution, cleaner air, less traffic and fewer accidents for the whole area, not just moving traffic around.

We have consistently passed on these concerns to TfL and the Mayor.  If elected we will continue to put residents of Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair at the heart of decisions, not the big property developers.

And another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’

We have issued a new dossier of another 25 more ‘Nightmare Stories from City West Homes’ this year, following our first report in January 2018, which included 20 Nightmare Stories, and our second report in March with details of 25 more Nightmare Stories.

Once again, we have had reports from tenants and leaseholders living right across Westminster – from Pimlico to Paddington, from the West End to Westbourne – all expressing anger at the incompetent and heartless way in which City West Homes treats its 22,000 tenants and leaseholders.

Service standards have deteriorated badly following 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.

In 2018, it is hard to believe the almost Dickensian situation some people have to live in and which is summed up by this report about a 70 year old woman in Dowland Street, Queen’s Park who “has been without electricity for 6 weeks. Contractors turn up and never finish the job. She is now lighting her flat with candles.”

We will immediately put CityWest on notice so that if its performance does not rapidly improve it will be stopped from managing the council’s properties. We have set out our plans for change if we are elected to run the council on May 3rd.

Labour’s Five Point Plan for CityWest Homes

  • From day one, Labour will take action to end the repairs crisis and improve the way CityWest treats residents. If it doesn’t urgently improve Labour will scrap it.
  • 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

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2018/04/18/and-another-25-more-nightmare-stories-from-city-west-homes/

Standing up for our EU residents

In the EU referendum in 2016, Westminster voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

If elected in May, Westminster Labour will fight to support our EU residents at this difficult time by expanding EU residents’ access to specialist legal advice and support services.

We will also play an active role in challenging the Government’s attempts to weaken EU citizens’ rights and demand that all existing rights are retained in the future.

We will appoint a Council Champion for the issues facing EU nationals and create a working group of local residents from the EU27 to help address future issues.

EU citizens are eligible to vote in the Council Elections on Thursday 3rd May. 

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

Latest on the West End Ward candidates

The ‘Mirror’ published this story recently:

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-council-candidate-heart-britains-12374191

And Andrew Murray’s latest ‘State of Soho’ blog focuses on the local election issues

https://stateofsoho.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/some-thoughts-on-the-local-elections/

Problems paying Water Rates?

Thames Water is running a project with Citizens Advice Westminster to help people who are having problems paying their Water Rates. They can help to access hardship funds and apply for grants to pay off water rate debts. They will provide budgeting advice and negotiate regarding other household debts.

Contact the Gateway helpline 03003301191.

There is also an on-line enquiry form at:

www.westminstercab.org.uk/advice/online-enquiry. 

What you say

“I was most interested and (as always) very grateful to receive your latest action report, together with the very welcome pledges which you are making as we come up to the local elections – in which, as I am sure you know, I wish you the luck you so much deserve.” 

“Thanks once again for your report and for your support of local residents.”

“I want to wish the Labour Team well in the coming election – you know how much I hope you will all get in.  The situation in Soho is at crisis point – the behaviour of property developers in Poland Street who constantly obstruct the pavement, when added to the closure of Broadwick Street, has reduced at least one lady in her nineties to tears, because like me she has to use a shopping trolley and cannot get up and down the kerbs.  Added to this, cyclists are now using all available pavements, which is terrifying.” 

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

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

Promoted by Robin McGhee on behalf of Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville all at 4G Shirland Mews, London W9 3DY

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – April 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Standing up for Soho’s Small Businesses

Small businesses are integral to Soho’s unique identity and heritage. But they’ve fallen victim to rising rents and rates. The Conservatives in Westminster Council have chosen to side with powerful landlords and developers instead of helping small businesses.

We pledge to champion small businesses. We will stand up for small businesses and fight for them. We pledge to:

  • Send a strong message to developers and landlords. We will tell them that Soho’s existing small businesses need to be supported.
  • Oppose any development projects that give local residents and small businesses a bad deal.
  • Use the Council’s powers to create a Special Policy Area in Soho to protect and grow small businesses.
  • Work closely with small businesses to challenge rent reviews.
  • Lobby central government to bring down crippling business rates for small firms.

Planning protection for Soho and Chinatown

You can read Dave Hill’s latest article here:

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/westminster-labour-pledges-to-extend-planning-protections-to-unique-soho-and-chinatown/

Peter Street

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“There are cracked pavements by the NCP car park on Peter Street. These have been in a state of disrepair for a long time and need fixing.

The Council say:

“The team have visited site and agree the footway needs repair. To avoid further works we will be removing the damaged slabs and resurfacing with a blacktop footway which will be more robust. This will be a temporary measure pending completion of the building works.”

Hopkins Street

We have asked the Council to drain a gully in Hopkins Street where a large ‘lake’ appeared recently.

Dufour’s Place

We are continuing to support Soho HA residents who are struggling with the loss of water. Residents say:

“Another day without water. No sign of anyone here working.”

This is getting ridiculous, I have been at work all day and my girls and school, how can you expect us to go without hot water? Where will you paying for for us to wash, which is our basic human right?”

“I spoke to one of your customer service agents during the day yesterday who absolutely assured me that the hot water was fixed, there would be no more problems, and the hot water will work over Easter weekend. However just to confirm that the hot water is not working, and when I called the out of hours service they said no one else has reported this, and when they called the hearing company they thought the issue was fixed.”

William Blake House

We contacted City West Homes following another incident involving the loss of hot water heating at William Blake House.

Meard Street

Once again we have contacted BT Openreach about the appalling broadband speeds in Soho. Residents say:

“I am writing again as am sitting here attempting to get some work done and my connection is so incredibly slow I am at my wits end.  I came across this from November 2016 https://www.westminster.gov.uk/broadband but clearly this must mean other parts of Westminster as Soho has not yet been activated. I used the ‘checker’ button and it seems our exchange at Gerrard Street is Fibre enabled, but the marker below still says they are ‘exploring; – any idea why we cannot get it? The exploration has taken about seven years so far.”

Broadwick Street – John Snow Pump – Update

We have made enquiries following receiving this message:

“Once again the subject of the reinstatement of the John Snow pump needs mentioning: at the moment Broadwick Street is being dug up and cobbles replaced around the area where the pump used to be and where it needs to be returned to. Please can you put more pressure on and get information and reassurances from the developers responsible.”

The latest update is:

“The pump will be located on an extended footway build-out outside the John Snow pub.  This will be the final phase of the works which is scheduled to complete in July.”

Cycling in Soho – what you say

“Bikes on pavements, often drunk tourists or Deliveroos, almost running people over. Sometimes succeeding. Going through red lights (buses do this frequently on Regent St) cycling too fast while on phones. The pedestrian’s life is a dangerous one in Soho.”

FITZROVIA

Riding House Street/Middleton Place

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“On the corner of Riding House Street and Middleton Place there is a drain that is blocked. It’s been causing lots of problems. Please can this be fixed?”

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to urge One Housing to re-house a resident in Gosfield Street who is responsible for continual anti-social behaviour which is ruining the lives of neighbours.

35-50 Rathbone Place

Westminster City Council planning committee has approved a legal agreement to enable affordable homes at Rathbone Place to be re-sold at market prices because mortgage lenders will no longer finance the type of property offered. The site was demolished to create 142 luxury flats, shops, restaurants, and an office complex now occupied by Facebook.

https://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/2018/03/23/mortgage-providers-will-not-lend-for-affordable-homes-at-west-end-site/

Mortimer Street/Great Titchfield Street

We have asked the Council to clear a blocked gully at the corner of Mortimer Street and Great Titchfield Street which has caused a large ‘lake’ to appear after it has rained.

Bulky refuse

We have received this suggestion from a resident:

“Another suggestion for bulk dumping. Maybe a monthly skip at a specific place where people can put furniture etc that others might want to take. Often people put things in the street in the hope others might take them?”

What do you think of this suggestion?

MAYFAIR

Queen Street/Curzon Street

Following our requests to the Council to take action on the constant rubbish dumping at this location, the local Inspector tells us:

“I spoke with the Manager at the business at length and she was clearly aware of the issue and keen to keep her area tidy but she informed me that other businesses do dump their rubbish by her bins. There were some items left by the bins that had been dumped and had not bene collected by the contractor. I therefore dealt with these myself this week in order to tidy the area a little in the meantime. I placed a large tub of vegetable oil, 2 large pieces of wood and a picture frame on the kerbside with a “don’t dump” sticker on the items. I will continue to monitor the area daily going forward and will address any issues that I see.”

Carrington Street

We are continuing to assist residents living close to the NCP site in Carrington Street who are concerned about the impact of the construction works on their homes.

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

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

Conservatives lose two of their West End Ward Councillors

Two of the Conservative West End Councillors will not be re-standing on 3rd May – Glenys Roberts has been de-selected by her party and Paul Church has decided not to stand again. This is what they say:

Councillor Glenys Roberts

“I have been deselected by the party and won’t be standing at the May election.  I worry about the West End and having lived there all my adult life I think I am well qualified to look after its best interests.  However, my continuing frustration at the lack of action, understanding and local knowledge, the failure to allot funds to priority issues and the frightening hostility encountered at any genuine attempt to tackle reality rather than rely on PR self-delusion means my time would not be well spent”

Councillor Paul Church

“After four wonderful years of the honour of serving the residents of Fitzrovia, Mayfair & Soho, I’ve taken the difficult decision not to re-stand in May & notified the local party today. I tried to stand up for the communities I was elected to represent against the dominance of property developers & their agents, patronage & power in Westminster, but I was bullied, silenced & threatened by their powerful allies.”

It is certainly time for a change in the West End!

Oxford Street

As West End ward candidates, we’ve spoken to many residents on the doorstep about plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street. It is clear there are very strong concerns about the proposals. TfL and Westminster Council would do well not to underestimate the real anxieties and concerns that residents have expressed. The well-being of residents needs to be at the absolute forefront of any plans put forward – otherwise we will not support pedestrianisation.”

We have four major concerns and call on TfL and Westminster Council to show (a) how any additional vehicular traffic will be kept out of residential streets; (b) how air pollution levels will be reduced in residential streets; (c) how the needs of the disabled and elderly will be provided for and (d) how Oxford Street will be managed 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of residents, shoppers and visitors.

We will keep campaigning to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

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

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

What you say

“Thank you so very, very much for your latest West End Labour Team Report which, as always, shows what a staggering amount you do for us.  I am so very, very grateful.”

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

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

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

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – Late March 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Conservative 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 

SOHO

Soho Square Doctors’ Practice

We are very concerned about the situation at Soho Square General Practice. Due to what appears to be a terrible mishandling of the situation by the provider Living Care, patients are being turned away and have been kept in the dark about what will happen next to their treasured GP service.

Many of the hundreds of Chinese patients who use the General Practice rely on the fact that Dr Cheung, who is no longer working at the centre, could speak to them in their native tongue. The current situation where patients are being asked to speak to an interpreter over the phone is clearly untenable. On top of all this, these changes seem to have been made without the consent of patients.

Urgent steps must now be taken to address the situation. The local Chinese community have a right to access high quality healthcare and should not be denied this right. 

Protecting Soho’s special character 

We are very concerned that some of Westminster’s most iconic areas are under threat and that action needs to be taken by the Council to help protect them. Soho has fallen victim to over-development, pressures from Crossrail, rising rents and the encroachment of global high street. If action is not taken now to save it, what makes the area unique may be lost for ever.

Labour will look at the use of the Council’s ‘Special Policy Area’ powers to protect Soho, as has been done for other parts of the city.

Poland Street

We have reported this to the Refuse Collection Department: 

“On the west side of Poland Street huge, revolting bags of rubbish are left beside a restaurant or, usually now, stacked in the entrance to the car park – again this is beside the restaurant.  These bags are so repellent that I don’t know how diners can use the restaurant, and surely if the bags were not restaurant refuse the restaurant itself would have complained?  These bags are there daily from morning on, without a break.  Farther up Poland Street, towards Great Marlborough Street, bags of refuse are left on the pavement in the same way.” 

60-62 Broadwick Street 

We have written to the Council to oppose the use of the former City West Homes estate office for commercial purposes. We want it to re-open as a local office for housing and other Council services. 

Poland Street/Broadwick Street 

We have asked the Council to investigate a number of missing street signs. Residents say:

“I was stopped today by a mystified stranger, asking me where on earth he was – he was in Poland Street.  At the Broadwick Street end of the street, the sign giving the name was removed when a development began and has never been replaced.

At the Oxford Street end of Poland Street again, the street sign has been removed and a huge development is now in its final stages, but temporarily it would have been easy to put the street sign on the opposite side of the street.  From end to end of this vital street, incredibly, there is no sign with the street’s name – this despite how busy it is with traffic and pedestrians!  Not even on either side of Great Marlborough Street – although that street actually retains its street sign.”

The Council say:

“Regarding the street name plate on Poland Street junction with Oxford Street, unfortunately the nameplate has gone missing, and we have ordered a replacement as is standard procedure when a street name plate is reported as missing. Please be aware on the opposite side of the road there is a development that is of glass construction and unsuitable for mounting a nameplate, however a nameplate could go on 2 posts and I have ordered a replacement name plate as is routine.”

Cambridge Circus

We are making enquiries about this issue raised by a resident:

“You will find Cambridge Circus a decrepit mess, a botched scheme seemingly abandoned.  Where previously we had 7 beautiful black and gold historic lamp columns, the remaining 4 (the agreed plan was to retain 5 not 4) are now neglected, cast-iron doors missing, cement everywhere. One column not even installed at all and a standard one put up in conflict with the consulted plan. It is an utterly careless, unloved mess and it was characterful and beautiful. The works are also months and months over time.” 

Meard Street – what you say 

“I support the complaint about the rubbish deposited at the west end of Meard Street.  Unsightly and obstruction of the pavement.  There’s a good bit of foot traffic crossing Wardour Street at that point too since Meard Street is a short-cut.”

Supreme, Peter Street – what you say

“I, too, am weary of the Supreme queues. The (mostly) lads are not noisy, the stewarding seem good, and the clean-up is pretty good.  But the frequent queues are a nuisance since they take up the narrow pavements, especially in Peter Street.  And both Peter Street and Hopkins Street are frequently blocked by cranes and other construction vehicles, which have damaged much of the remaining pavements.” 

We were interested to see this recent article in The Guardian and hope that this latest news helps to control the situation outside Supreme

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/mar/16/supremes-hype-game-is-strong-cult-brand-tries-ticketed-fashion 

FITZROVIA

Hanson Street

We have asked the Planning Department to investigate long-term Airbnb short-lets in various flats in Hanson Street. Residents say they face anti-social behaviour like loud noise coming from the stairwell, shouting, screaming, partying into the late hours.

Rathbone Place

We are supporting residents who have made the following objection to the proposals for 35-50 Rathbone Place: 

“We strongly object to this change to the Section 106 agreement. The 22 units to which it relates are single aspect and have a very small floor area of 50 sq.m. It appears the intention is that they will be available to 1 or 2 people with an income up to £64k. This in our view does not constitute ‘affordable housing’ and the units are very unlikely to be purchased by anyone in genuine housing need on the waiting list. 17% is not an adequate proportion of (off site) affordable housing for a site of this size, location and value as it does not meet the Council’s requirement of 25% and the Mayor’s of at least 35%. The public was unable to see the reasons submitted by the developer for not providing this on site.

In revising the City Plan it’s essential that the Council accepts its responsibilities and fully implements the principle of attractive, mixed tenure housing developments with up to 50% genuinely affordable housing. For too long this planning policy has been flouted and evaded by accepting distorted viability statements without question.”

Gosfield Street

Residents have asked whether the proposed extension of Brock House will have an impact on light to properties in Gosfield Street. We have been told:

“The restoration and expansion work will not reduce light to the rear of Gosfield Street. The green roof will be designed to encourage biodiversity and small wildlife and there will be no public or private access to the green roof other than for maintenance.”

MAYFAIR

St George’s Buildings, Bourdon Street

Residents say that on top of St George’s Buildings in Bourdon Street there are seagulls nesting. This gets worse during spring. This can lead to very disruptive noise. At 3am seagulls can be squawking. Residents have complained about this for years and the problem hasn’t been solved. The nests on top of the building need to be removed and we have written to Sanctuary Housing to ask that action be taken.

Queen Street/Curzon Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this recurring issue with refuse bins on the pavement, which attract rubbish dumping. Residents say:

“These look unsightly and seem to attract additional dumping. It is clear that the problem arises primarily because the café and restaurants have inadequate provision for their own rubbish. This does not justify creating an open rubbish dump on the pavement. “

Brook Street/Davies Street

Property Week reports that Grosvenor is planning the wholesale redevelopment of two acres of land opposite Claridges. The company has employed Sir Michael Hopkins to draw up a masterplan under the code name ‘Project Osprey’ for the triangular site bounded by Brook Street, South Moulton Lane and Davies Steret.

Mount Street

The Council has given The Connaught Hotel permission to place tables and chairs outside the hotel.

http://westendextra.com/article/five-star-connaught-hotel-in-al-fresco-dining-land-grab-row

What do you think?

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Oxford Street

As West End ward candidates, we’ve spoken to many residents on the doorstep about plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street. It is clear there are very strong concerns about the proposals. TfL and Westminster Council would do well not to underestimate the real anxieties and concerns that residents have expressed. The well-being of residents needs to be at the absolute forefront of any plans put forward – otherwise we will not support pedestrianisation.”

“We have four major concerns and call on TfL and Westminster Council to show ((a) how any additional vehicular traffic will be kept out of residential streets; (b) how air pollution levels will be reduced in residential streets; (c) how the needs of the disabled and elderly will be provided for and (d) how Oxford Street will be managed 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of residents, shoppers and visitors”

We will keep campaigning to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

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.

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.

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

Council Elections – 3rd May

Another interesting article from Dave Hill on the ‘state of play’ in the West End Ward

http://www.onlondon.co.uk/labour-hopes-rise-in-westminster-as-west-end-tory-stands-down/

City West Homes – what you say

“The thought that a victory for Labour in the coming elections might mean the reinstatement of CityWest Homes Estate Offices and an insistence on improvements to CWH’s treatment of its tenants would be enough to make me vote Labour, even if I weren’t going to do so already!” 

What you say

“Thank you and the others in the Labour Team for the, as always, very detailed report”

“I am so very grateful to you and your colleagues for all that you do for us.” 

“Thank you very much for taking up the air quality issue with Westminster Council.” 

“Thanks as ever for the brilliant newsletter, that I know residents really feel empowered by, including myself.”

“I am voting for your team as so is my partner… I really hope you take the council, as do almost all my local friends.”

“I really hope you win! You are always on the right side in everything I have read in the newsletter. THANK-you for being there to look after Westminster, and constantly remind those in power that ordinary people live their lives in Westminster, and that the borough’s government should be to foster a good life for its inhabitants, not for wealthy absentees. Kind regards, and good luck in the elections!”

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

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – March 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Ingestre Place

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

“Its Saturday morning already there is a queue down Ingestre Place with people blocking the pavement and about 20 youths sat on the wall on Ingestre Court earing pizza, Mcdonalds, coffee etc . There has been a queue every single day for the last 8 days. It used to be 1 or 3 days now it is every day. I got a reply from the events and filming team telling me they do not have a license or permission. Its like being under siege.  It is illegal to obstruct the pavement but Supreme and Ovo seem to think they are above the law. I have spoken to many neighbours not just in my block but Ingestre Court and Walkers Court. All are against these queues and sick of them.”

 1-6 Dufour’s Place

Following our intervention, City West Homes has agreed to compensate residents for the recent loss of heating and hot water.

Meard Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the clutter and rubbish dumping in Meard Street. Residents say:

“The combined effect of the cycle racks, rubbish bins, telecoms boxes, the hoarding and the piles of rubbish deposited by all the surrounding restaurants every evening makes it just about possible to squeeze through in single file!”

“The continued dumping of vast sums of rubbish by the local restaurants is becoming intolerable. It’s unhygienic, a hazard to pedestrians and no doubt will lead to an infestation of rats and other vermin.”

Berwick Street building site

We were pleased that the Council has finally decided to take action to safeguard residents of Kemp House from further noisy building work at the construction site in Berwick Street. The Environmental Health Team say:

“Subjectively the noise from the demolition works is horrendous. I spent around an hour in the vicinity and the demolition works continued virtually unabated for the duration.  An increase of around 40 dB due to the demolition works shows just how awful the situation is for the residents.  The external levels may well be in breach of the limit levels. 

From speaking to the residents they would welcome a later start at 0900hrs and also an additional hour of quiet in the afternoon from 1400 to 1500hrs.  In effect, noisy works could only take place at the following times: 0900hrs to 1030hrs; 1130hrs to 1300hrs; 1500hrs to 1730hrs”

Broadwick Street works – update

We have received this update from the Highways Department:

“The works on Broadwick Street are necessitated by the extremely poor condition of the cobbled carriageway between Ingestre Place and the John Snow Pub. We were aware of the existing needs of residents for access in and out of Dufour’s Place and surrounding streets, and we have phased the proposed carriageway works so that we are only working on a portion of the site at any one time. We have also planned our temporary traffic management around the works site to ensure that there is through access for vehicles at all times, particularly emergency services across Broadwick Street carriageway.   

When working on the junctions, we will provide well signed diversion routes to direct traffic safely around the works to continue their journeys through Broadwick Street. As we only propose very minimal repaving on the existing footway, during the works, pedestrians and mobility impaired persons will have access along both Broadwick Street footways most times.  For the brief periods which the footway in the frontage of John Snow Pub may be restricted, the other side of footway will be fully accessible.”

Greek Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the situation where a local restaurant has been badly affected by rough sleepers on their door step.

“We’ve had a lady sleeping rough next to the restaurant, sometimes there’s more than one person. They smoke crack, litter everyday and pee by both the door to the flat and the restaurant door, which has been awful for business. Furthermore, they are also blocking one of the fire exits for the Curzon cinema, where most of the staff exit from.” 

The Pillars of Hercules – Update

It appears that “The Pillars of Hercules’ pub in Greek Street will not, after all, be closing. Earlier, according to the ‘Evening Standard’, we were told:

“The Soho pub, which has entertained generations of boozers since the 1730s, shut its doors this weekend, and with it went a slice of literary London. There are claims that it is name-checked in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, although we haven’t been able to find the mention, but Clive James did name his second book of criticism after the pub. 

Writers who have flocked to its bar include Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens and Atonement author Ian McEwan. “During the Seventies almost every writer in London must have had a drink in the Pillars”, McEwan told us yesterday. “Its literary moment passed long ago but I’m  sad to see it go.”

The whole pocket of Soho is something of a building site as Soho Estates develops Ilona Rose House behind the pub but the building is not part of the development. One Twitter user pointed out that the pub’s lease has been sold — will there be a second chance or is coping with London’s developers one labour too far for the iconic pub?”

We will keep you updated on news of the re-opening.

Great Pulteney Street

We have asked for action to be taken here:

“Street cleaning in Soho is not very good, at times it is very bad. The problem is particularly bad on Great Pulteney Street, all too often. Sometimes there is rubbish everywhere.” 

The Council say:

“Great Pulteney Street has two refuse collections daily at 10:00 and 02:00, and a daily recycling collection at 10:00. The street is swept once a day. The vast majority of residents and businesses abide by the collection times, but waste found outside the collection times – or unpaid from a commercial premises – are enforced against by the teams of City Inspectors covering the area. In the previous 12 months, 15 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Great Pulteney Street, 16 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Beak Street, and 67 fixed penalty notices for waste have been issued to addresses on Brewer Street. Hopefully this also demonstrates our commitment to enforcement against non-compliance.”

Bateman Street

We have asked the refuse collection team to investigate this issue:

“I pass rubbish twice a day around a post in Bateman Street, opposite Pix. I am sure that there are many who drop their rubbish here, but have seen people from Pix and the adjoining premises take their rubbish across the road to leave at this spot. I have lived here for over ten years and have rarely seen this spot without post without rubbish around it.”

Supporting small businesses

In response to a call from Kemp House Residents’ Association for a statement of support for local small businesses, we have released this statement:

“We write to express our support for local businesses in Berwick Street, Peter Street and Walker’s Court. A toxic combination of factors including exorbitant business rates and havoc as a result of building works have driven many to despair. We’ve seen the closure of 30 shops, and those that survive do so in the most strenuous circumstances. 

It is time for change. It is time for Westminster City Council and all organisations whose actions will impact the future of local Berwick Street businesses – the Valuations Office Agency, Shaftesbury PLC, Soho Estates – and others to support local businesses moving forward. We would urge these organisations to back calls from the community to provide a statement of support.  

Local, independent businesses are the beating heart of Berwick Street and Soho more broadly. Their prosperity is indeed inextricably linked with that of the Berwick Street community. They must be supported. 

If we are elected on 3rd May we pledge to work closely with Berwick Street small businesses and market traders to ensure their long term success. “

The Berwick Street Traders Association replied:

“Thank you for your support – It couldn’t come at a more critical time for all of us. It’s also good to know that there are people out there who recognise the situation for what it is… and understand the value of community.” 

Gritting – what you say 

“Given how much notice of this weather everybody has had, don’t you find it appalling that none of the small streets in Soho have been gritted?  I had to go to my doctor at the Health Centre on Tuesday and thought I was going to break a leg, skidding and struggling to get home.  A friend who lives in a Soho Housing property in St. Anne’s Court told me that Soho Housing has gritted the courtyard around which their flats are centred, but St. Anne’s Court had been left a skating rink by the Council.” 

FITZROVIA

Foley Street area 

We have asked the Council to send Marshals to the Foley Street area to investigate regular ‘engine idling’ in the area:

“I walk a lot in Fitzrovia/Soho and every day I see drivers sitting with their engines idling.  Westminster Council makes big claims for its #dontbeidle campaign but personally I have never seen any ‘marshals’ in my area. 

To a large extent it is predictable where the idling engine crowd will be – near constructions sites and – yes – the BBC side entrance! For example, the Kier development in Foley Street has for months attracted subcontractors who arrive in the morning about 0700 and sit with their engines running. Seems to me that if Kier spoke to the sub-contractors this would have a more immediate impact than whatever it is the (so far invisible to me) marshals do.”

The Council say:

“With regards to the BBC in Langham Street, we have already held two air quality road shows and one air quality action day, targeting engine idling at this specific location. In addition to this we have also engaged directly with the BBC and their transport section, to ensure that the engine idling message is going out to all their vehicle users. “

Rubbish collection 

Residents have updated us on the latest situation and we have asked the Council to investigate: 

  • Gosfield Street – rubbish is better – though not perfect – the problems now are really outside businesses who have a non-council rubbish collection – and when their service isn’t as regular/coordinated as the council, then other people just add their bags to the business pile – which no-one then takes away. Has there been any work with business rubbish collection please e.g. coordinating it as in Bond Street? This would reduce the polluting trucks too.
  • And we don’t seem to have the street sweepers working along the pavements any more? I kick the large pieces into the road when I come home so they can be picked up by the little buggy, since the pavements don’t seem to be swept.
  • Langham Street – no-one seems to remove the piles, which just get bigger. Why don’t the Council collection at least clear this every morning? 

The Council say:

“Inspectors have recently replaced Don’t Dump signage at the junction of Langham with Gosfield and regular patrols take place to find evidence of people dumping outside of collection times so that appropriate education and enforcement can be carried out. Following your email, I have arranged for increased monitoring this weekend, and will continue to ensure the area is targeted for enforcement going forward.”

Gosfield Street

We are working closely with residents to try and resolve a ongoing problem with anti-social behavior. 

Ogle Street

We have asked Peabody to repair the front door of one of their properties in Ogle Street.

New Cavendish Street

We have asked City West Homes to fix a broken door in Coryton House.

We have also reported dumped rubbish in New Cavendish Street.

Langham Street

We have asked the Council to fix the drains outside 29 Langham Street where a large pool of water gathers after it has been raining.

MAYFAIR

Bourdon Street 

We have asked Sanctuary Housing to fix the damp problems in a flat in St George’s Buildings.

Gilbert Street

We have contacted Peabody on behalf of residents of Moore Flats who say the recently fitted new doors and windows are letting in draughts.

We also reported water cascading in to the basement of 3 Moore Flats from a broken pipe and flooding the basement area.

Duke’s Yard

We have asked the Planning Department to let us know the current planning situation at 1 Duke’s Yard where construction work has been ongoing for 3 years, much to the concern of local residents. The Planners say:

“This has been on site for 4-5 years and is one of the longest running building projects I have ever come across.  I think works keep stalling and then resurging.  The owner keeps making changes (generally minor) to the original scheme.”

Down Street Station 

You might find this fascinating story about Down Street Station of interest http://knowledgeoflondon.com/downstreetstation.html

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Dave Hill’s ‘OnLondon’ view of the West End electoral battle

For Dave Hill’s latest article looking forward to the May 3rd Council Elections see http://www.onlondon.co.uk/borough-elections-2018-tory-wobbles-in-westminster-west-end/

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.

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.

Oxford Street proposals

We have been pressing TfL on a range of issues raised by residents. Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets, a transport system for disabled people and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/oxford-street-transformation/

If you have any issues you would like us to take up please us know.

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.

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

What you say

“Thank you so much for your kindness and help”

“This is not only to thank you so very much for all your constant kindness and help, but also to say how much I hope the opinion polls (so encouraging!) prove correct.  Surely the revelations about Robert Davis can’t be ignored”

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

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – Late February 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

1-6 Dufour’s Place

Residents are continuing to be plagued by heating, hot water and lift problems and we are pressing City West Homes to fix the problems as quickly and efficiently as possible without further disruption to residents’ lives.

7 Dufour’s Place

We are continuing to assist residents with various repair and maintenance issues.

Broadwick Street

We have again asked the Council when the the John Snow Pump will be restored to the area. The Council says:

“The public realm scheme to replace the John Snow pump is due to start 19th February. The works include a repair of the carriageway at the Broadwick Street/Poland Street junctions, which will involve removal of the granite setts, reconstruction of the carriageway base, and cleaning and replacing of the setts, in four phases. The pump will be located on an extended footway buildout outside the John Snow pub.  This will be the final phase of the works which is scheduled to complete in July.”

Residents continue to raise concerns at the impact of more roadworks on residents’ ability to get about: 

“How are disabled people who live in the area and in other properties off Broadwick Street are to get to medical, dental and hospital appointments?   I use taxis constantly and also a service for disabled people named Dial A Ride, which is run by Transport for London.  I am most interested to know whether you care about the vulnerable and disabled people you will be endangering?  What precisely are your plans for those of us who need taxis to pick us up from our homes off Broadwick Street? 

Berwick Street

We are continuing to support Berwick Street shopkeepers, some of whom have been hit by massive rent rises.

We have also called on the Council to take action against the contractors working at the construction site at 100 Berwick Street. Residents say:

“Why is there noisy demolition work being carried out now at 1.15pm? Please can it stop, now. Our flat is shaking with the vibrations. “

Carnaby Street

Residents are fighting plans by a Sweaty Betty in Carnaby Street to sell alcohol. The shop has applied for a licence to sell alcohol from 10am to 8pm, seven days a week, at the health food cafe on the first floor of its shop. Neighbours say there will be “inevitable rowdiness” if the licence is approved. The Soho Society has objected on the basis that residents in nearby Upper James Street already suffer from noise and nuisance.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sweaty-betty-sport-shop-is-no-fit-place-to-sell-booze-say-angry-residents-a3765571.html

Broadband

We are continuing to press BT to install superfast broadband to Soho. Residents say:

“I am wondering if you can clarify/explain why we have such abysmal broadband in Soho? I subscribed to the ‘let me know when fibre is available in my street’ notification with BT years ago (2010 to be exact), and to date, it is still not available in the very centre of London. I suspect most of the production companies have a leased line so perhaps this is not prioritised, but seriously, the very centre of London in 2018 and my downpload speed is 8.1MB – my upload is not even 1MB which is apparently average for the area. It’s not a choice of supplier either as I have researched every possibility and unless we pay an absolute fortune for a leased line, it’s all the same ancient technology. I suspect my old dial-up was faster at times.”

“I would just like to back up my fellow resident’s point about Internet speeds. It is abysmal, and aside from having terrible speeds, for me often as low as 2.5 megabytes download (unusable for the contemporary internet), the broadband on my block regularly stops working. I work from home often, and being in the creative industries, find it has had a very detrimental effect on my work. And sadly there is no workaround, no other options, as BT has a monopoly on the lines, and so as they have no plans to upgrade the whole of Soho (which is supposed to be one of Europe’s great hotspots for creative industries), we will all be stuck with unfeasibly slow internet for the foreseeable future.”

Hot Topics

Over over the last 18 months. Soho residents have raised a wide range of issues with us. These are your top concerns:

  • Anti-Social Behaviour, drug dealers and users on local streets as well as the noise and nuisance from unlicensed pedicabs
  • Dumping of rubbish on streets and poorly coordinated refuse collections
  • Lack of affordable housing and the need for a better deal for those renting from private landlords. Everyone is concerned by the number of rough sleepers
  • Overdevelopment of Soho and hotelification
  • Uncertainty over Brexit and the rights of EU nationals
  • Crippling business rates and rent rises driving out independent businesses (which make Soho unique)
  • Poor broadband.

Have we missed out anything?

FITZROVIA 

Langham Street 

We are continuing to press the Council to take action on the repeated rubbish dumping in the Langham Street area:

“Thank you so much for continuing to pursue the question of rubbish. The Fitzrovia area, usually a delight to walk in, has become a misery. I open my curtains on Langham St to a pile of rubbish opposite my flat every morning, and bags or piles of rubbish confront me in many streets at all times of day.

The current system simply isn’t meeting the needs of residents. In other parts of the country people are used to putting rubbish in dustbins at any time of day, and obviously don’t respond well to to being told to put it out at a particular time. I refuse to put my bags ion the street – not only unsightly but unhealthy. I walk some way to find a bin I can put my recycling or rubbish in. We need bins! There are so few that they are often over-spilling. I hope your ideas will help. At the moment, people know they won’t get caught, or don’t feel they are a dumper, just adding a bag or two to the pile.”

Great Portland Street/Langham Street 

Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters battled the flames on the building site at the corner of Gt Portland Street and Langham Street. The basement, ground, first and second floors of the building were damaged in the blaze. No one was injured. The development is a mixed-use conversion and refurbishment scheme comprising 17 apartments and a ground floor restaurant. Work started in the summer of 2017 and was due to finish by early December 2018.

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to assist residents who are struggling with anti-social behavior of one of their neighbours.

Great Titchfield Street/Margaret Street

We have asked if this location can be investigated with a view to providing more cycle parking. The Council says it “will include this area in the next round of consultation/installation for financial year 2018/19.”

MAYFAIR 

Carrington Street

We are helping residents in the Carrington Street area deal with their concerns about the impact of forthcoming redevelopment works:

“You will be aware of the massive redevelopment planned for the NCP car park site at Carrington Street.  Carrington Street will be the main source of access for this gigantic project, such that we face huge disruption to our lives for the next several years.  We opposed elements of the plan – and particularly those that breached planning guidelines without any satisfactory basis having been cited as to why such exceptions should have been permitted – but recognise that our cause is now lost.  We now need to turn our attention towards forming a constructive relationship with the developers – and joining with other local interest groups as we do so – so as to minimise the pain.  Based upon your experience, I wondered whether you had any advice as to how we might bring that about, and whether you had any specific insights into this project.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES 

Oxford Street proposals

We have been pressing TfL on a range of issues raised by residents. Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets, a transport system for disabled people and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/oxford-street-transformation/

If you have any issues you would like us to take up please us know.

Oxford Street proposals – what you say

“Pedestrianisation will certainly make a difference – to disabled people.  Because the Underground (the only transport option that will be left) has never conformed to Disabled Access legislation and shows no sign of ever doing so.   This in addition to the many people who find the Underground claustrophobic and can only use buses.”

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 CEputy 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 am so grateful to you for all your help over so many years, and it would be absolutely wonderful to get some Labour Councillors to save us here.”

“Thank you very much for that excellent Report.” 

“Can you please get the Urinals/Rubbish Bins which masquerade as Telephone Boxes removed? They are quite disgusting!” 

“Thank you so much for the amazing work you are doing, the newsletters are the only way I keep with what is happening with my area. I read every section, keep up the excellent work!”

“Thank you for your latest email.  I always find them helpful and enlightening, despite being on the other side of the political fence.” 

“It was a Conservative Councillor who signed off on a development that destroyed our marvellous Berwick Street Market and endangered the lives of those living in the Kemp House block of flats above it with fire and flood.  I will never forget nor forgive that.  The needs and wishes of residents are no longer considered, and if Conservative Councillors go on unchecked every trace of this unique area will be razed to the ground.  I totally support and will vote for the Labour candidates.” 

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

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – February 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

1-6 Dufour’s Place

We have urged City West Homes to fix the current problems with the hot water at 1-6 Dufour’s Place. Residents say:

“I truly don’t think the wellbeing of a block of 72 people, ranging in age from small children (whose mothers would particularly need sufficiently warm water to bath them) to the very elderly should be risked in this way and I hope something can be done.”

Soho HA, Dufour’s Place

We have again asked Soho Housing Association to deal with a number of outstanding enquiries from Dufour’s Place residents about heating and maintenance costs 

Ingestre Court

We have asked City West Homes what plans there are to

  • Upgrade the entrance lobby area of Ingestre Court
  • Provide community space for residents
  • Provide measures to tackle ASB in the area around the block
  • Install broadband

Also, we have asked what Major Works are planned and when they will be undertaken.

Berwick Street

We are continuing to support small businesses in Berwick Street and the rest of the West End. Small businesses are at the heart of local life in Soho and the West End. With more and more corporates and chains moving into the West End, more and more small businesses are closing, and no one wants to see that – not businesses, not residents, no one. It rips to shreds what the West End is all about and it totally erodes the area of its character. 

Richmond Mews

We have asked the City Inspector to investigate these continuing issues raised by residents:

“The waste collection lorries continue to leak. Dirty fluid continues to stand in Richmond Mews. Rats and vermin continue to run through the Mews. There are 7 children living in Soho Lofts. This matter is a health and safety issue and requires your immediate attention. “

Film House, Wardour Street 

A number of changes have been made to the planning application for Film House in response to residents’ concerns. The period for comments has been extended and you can access the planning application by clicking this link if you would like to see the other additional drawings and also add your comments. bit.ly/FilmHouseSoho

Residents say:

“So far we have had 49 objections to the proposed planning application. It’s a good amount, but given the consultation period has been extended there is still time to keep sharing the word and encourage people to add their comments.”

Berwick Street/Noel Street

Many residents have expressed concerns about the closure of Berwick Street at the Noel Street junction: 

“This is still closed – and still NOTHING is being done at all – for months now?? In addition to this closure at the Noel Street junction, Berwick Street is also closed at the top at the Oxford Street junction, so there is no access at all from Fitzrovia now apart from Regent Street or going all the way around via Gower Street. “

“The closure of Berwick Street for resurfacing began in the first week of last July and was supposed to be finished by the end of November.  No workman was ever seen working on the Berwick Street surface at any time – all that was visible were the closure signs.  This is such a narrow street that it is absolutely incredible resurfacing should take more than a month. “

The Council have now said:

“The Berwick Street North scheme will be recommencing and we are looking to complete the final two phases of works by March 2018. The footway works between Noel Street and Broadwick Street have been substantially completed and the only remaining area within this section is on the south-west corner of the junction of Noel Street and Berwick Street. There are also a number of lighting columns being replaced along this section. Once this has been completed we will remove the old lighting columns and fully reinstate the footway at these locations.”

For further information:

http://westminstertransportationservices.co.uk/projects/project_details.php?id=448

or email berwickstreetnorth@westminster.gov.uk, or leave a message on 07774 167 345

Meard Street/Wardour Street

We have been discussing the problems caused by late night deliveries with local residents who say:

“If there is a noise disturbance, it can be reported immediately and a reference number obtained, but the noise team only calls back for details 45 minutes later. If the disturbance is in the middle of the night, the last thing you want is to fall asleep only to be woken again by the noise team later on! And often when they do call back the disturbance has ended, in which case they only say to call back should it occur again. The noise from large refrigerated delivery trucks late at night in Wardour Street is such a case.

One vision for dealing with this sort of thing would be for the council to make all restaurants and shops aware that they are responsible for any complaints about deliveries to and collections from them (as well as for their disruptive customers!), that parking restrictions and refuse dumping regulations will be strictly enforced and tickets issued (there are never wardens late at night nowadays), and that any transgressions will be taken into account on licence applications and renewals and on planning applications. And of course, noisy vehicles and large trucks can and should be banned from congested, polluted areas like Soho straight away (except perhaps during weekday working hours).”

What do you think?

Soho parking

Soho residents are concerned about the amount of residents’ parking that has been suspended. We have asked the Council to replace the lost parking by converting other parking for residents’ use

“Broadwick Street, Lexington Street, D’Arbly Street and all this in addition to all the long-term Cross Rail closures. But that’s not all – Wardour Street residents parking has all been suspended and parts of Dean Street, Poland Street, Gt Marlborough Street etc etc etc. Does anyone at Westminster coordinate the roadworks / building works? Living here, one would think no logic or knowledge of the area is part of the process.” 

72 Broadwick Street – what you say

“Thank you so much for the update on 72 Broadwick StreetWe are really hopeful that we can stay in the building, and any works that need to be done can be organised while we are here, as the residential part of the property is in very good condition.”

Soho ‘hotelification’ – what you say 

“I’d like to thank you for the anti-hotelification campaign, this, the high business rates and lack of affordable office space are transforming the area, draining it of life and diversity at a shocking rate -literally month by month I see Soho’s rich texture being diminished.”

Apart from inconsiderate businesses like Supreme, we are also concerned about the hotelification of Soho (we have first hand experience with the Dean Street Townhouse) mentioned in your latest Action Report, loss of traditional night time economy venues, parking/access, vehicle noise (not just hooting!), Wardour Street cycleway and Crossrail 2.” 

FITZROVIA 

Gosfield Street

We are continuing to press One Housing Group to transfer a resident from a flat in Gosfield Street following many years of severe anti social behavior which causing misery to the lives of neighbouring residents.

Great Portland Street

We have asked the Council to remove a number of broken and discarded bikes chained to the bike stands in Great Portland Street

Little Portland Street

We have asked the Council to remove rubbish dumped outside 38 Great Portland Street (the entrance is in Little Portland Street).

MAYFAIR 

Brook Street

We have asked the Council to review the recent highway changes in Bond Street after receiving this message from residents:

As you know, a two-way traffic scheme has been introduced. Although this has led to a doubling of the traffic volume, it was also inexplicably decided to narrow the street and widen the pavements. Unloading bays on these enlarged pavements have also been introduced. Excessive noise and traffic congestion, with the constant tooting of car horns morning noon and night is the seem to be the major consequences of this ill—thought out scheme.”

Clarges Street

Residents in Clarges Street have asked about the road works and the impact on parking. We have also asked for litter bins to be located in the street. The Council says:

“The pavements on Clarges Street are very narrow and placing litterbins will not only obstruct pedestrian flow but also to pushchair and wheelchair users. This street has daily Mon-Fri street sweeping and there is a litterbin at the junction with Piccadilly.  

However, I will visit the street to reassess the situation and meanwhile, I will task the local city inspector to monitor the street for next few weeks to observe any littering concerns.”

In addition, residents say they are often woken up at 5am in the morning when recycling trucks pass by and pick up glass bottles on Curzon Street. It makes a terrible clattering sound which is disturbing. We have asked the Council if the operator be contacted and requested to pick up the bottles at more sociable hours.

Grosvenor Square

We asked the Council for an update on this issue:

“A bus driver told me that further disruption will be caused this year until 2019 by major sewer works needed for the huge hotel conversion of the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square! Wondering if you know more as I can’t find anything on the web.”

The Council say:

“We are seeking to coordinate all of the various works in the area as part of any forthcoming decision on Oxford Street and the other projects such as Baker Street and proposals from the Grosvenor Estate. The works for the conversion of the former US Embassy site will include some highway closures over the next two years.”

Savile Row

We have asked the Council to fill in the pot holes outside the police station where rainwater gathers and splashes pedestrians when cars pass over them.

Park Street – update

Following our recent enquiries about the proposals for Park Street as part of the Oxford Street proposals, TfL say:

“We do recognise the need for there to be kerbside access to the west side of Park Street south of Oxford Street. We are currently reviewing the proposed design at this location to ensure that a suitable balanced set of kerbside uses can be provided for. We are also considering all responses that we have received from the consultation and developing amendments to our proposals that seek to address all of the concerns raised.

In terms of the junction capacity, all of the detailed traffic modelling analysis that has been undertaken indicates that Park Street will experience a significant reduction in traffic flow as a result of the proposals to reverse it. Therefore, it is not considered likely that the design proposals will result in a negative impact operationally.”

Binney Street – what you say 

“It would certainly help if Binney Street were closed to Oxford Street and I would urge the Council to consider making this change whether the pedestrianisation of Oxford St goes ahead or not. There is no need to have access to Oxford St from Binney St and considering the potential danger at the moment from the speed of cars currently using it as a convenience.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Pedicabs

We have written to Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and Jo Johnson, Minister for London, requesting that theyensure the scandal of unregulated pedicabs in London is ended and support the Private Members Bill proposed by MPs Paul Scully and Karen Buck gets government approval.

They say:

“This Private Members Bill has cross party support. The lack of regulation of pedicabs means they are less safe, they cause nuisance, drivers and passengers are uninsured. Drivers are not checked, prices are inconsistent and arbitrary. You and your officials can read key points here.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-01-23/debates/A37EAF8A-897E-4B44-9293-E48F01306954/Pedicabs(London)

Let us know what action you plan to take to resolve the anomaly that pedicabs are regulated all over England except London where most of them are and putting the appropriate authorities (TFL , Mayor of London) in charge.  We have been campaigning for this for some time and previous efforts by Westminster Council amongst others have failed. This Bill needs your support.”

Oxford Street transformation. 

We have put a local artist in touch with TfL. He asked: 

“It said in the TfL statement that artworks would be commissioned as part of the project. I believe they should consider local artists. I profoundly love Soho, and have lived and worked here for many years, it has in so many ways formed me. I also work on public realm art and design commissions, as I’m very passionate on the subject, have been inspired into the profession by all the wonderful artwork I grew up around on the tube, in my local sports centre etc.”

We have also asked if social value principles (hiring local artists and others), as set out in the Social Value Act, can be applied to the commissioning process for plans to transform Oxford Street.  We believe that, where possible, employment should go to local residents and people who know the area well, so as to benefit the local economy.

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.”.

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

Piccadilly Circus

An interesting article showing ‘cutaway’ diagrams of Piccadilly Circus, Bond Street and other West End underground stations

https://londonist.com/london/transport/london-cutaways 

What you say

“Thank you for all your involvement and help”

“I don’t have the faintest idea how you deal with all you do for us.” 

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

 

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – January 2018

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Soho ‘Hotelification’

Soho has been reverberating to the jarring sounds of drills, diggers, and other heavy equipment. It a constant nuisance. Residents have had their lives destructively disrupted by dust, noise and quaking foundations much of it the fault of Westminster Council.

Residents of Kemp House and Ingestre Court are by no means the only ones to have been affected by Westminster Council’s poor decisions that have resulted in noise, dust and disruption.  Nor have they been directly compensated for the excessive noise with assistance to enable residents to live with the constant noise. Westminster Council and their developer friends have made the experience of noise far worse by their poor and often inaccurate information on the times and intensity of sounds. When one racket ends another one starts.

Berwick Street (and many other West End) small businesses and market traders have paid a huge price for Westminster Councils incompetence and chaotic development while suffering from crippling business rates.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 new hotel rooms are planned in and around Soho over the next two years. This will cause even more noise and chaos. The front line in opposition to these schemes lies in the fight against the plans for a hotel and noisy roof top bar at Film House on Wardour Street.   Residents don’t want more late-night revellers and more service vehicles cluttering the streets 24/7.  Refuse orries, food deliveries, taxis, and the ubiquitous and noisy unlicensed pedicabs, will block the streets 365 days a year and add to the never-ending cacophony.  The ‘Hotelification’ of Soho includes the abuse of Airbnb where residential blocks have become home of constant streams of visitors who are unmonitored and who disrupt neighbours’ lives.

We are calling on the Council to encourage a diverse culture of mixed economy in the West End and end the rush to the ‘Hotelification’ of Soho.

See http://westendextra.com/article/soho-film-industry-under-threat-from-hotel-surge

And https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/tech/soho-post-firms-under-threat/5124455.article

72 Broadwick Street – update

We received the following update from Shaftesbury:

“I thought you may be interested to know we have bought the property from L&G and their planning application has been withdrawn. Our plans are to reconfigure the lower floors, change uses and refurbish the offices and flats (which we will retain, not sell). All this will happen largely within the existing envelope of the building.”

We have asked Shaftesbury to let us know the position of the existing residential tenants and how they will be affected by the refurbishment plans. We have also asked for details of the construction plans and how the amenity of neighbouring businesses and residents will be safeguarded.

Berwick Street

Residents have raised this concern:

“We were wondering if you knew why Berwick Street has been closed from Noel Street for so long? No work seems to be being done at all, and its hugely disruptive.”

Save Soho

We have received this message from Tim Arnold of Save Soho:

“Music Venue Trust has an opportunity for a major breakthrough in the fight to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues when a Private Members Bill to introduce Agent of Change into UK Law will come before the House of Commons. We are mounting a major campaign around this opportunity, and to support the launch of the Bill we will be staging a photo opportunity for MPs and supporters at Parliament on Wednesday 10 January. 

This Bill has a very serious chance of becoming law. It would be a huge victory for music venues, and provide them with the real legal protection Music Venue Trust has been fighting for since 2014.  We need famous faces, known artists, credible musicians and entertainers, to help us push this Bill over the line.  Please contact Mark Davyd: mark@musicvenuetrust.com urgently if you are available. “

Shaftesbury Avenue

More parking tickets are issued on Shaftesbury Avenue than on any other road in the UK, according to a freedom of information request. Theatregoers and shoppers who illegally parked their cars on Shaftesbury Avenue picked up 5,708 parking charge notices (PCNs) between July and September 2017 at a total cost of nearly £400,000.

Rupert Street – what you say

“The drug dealing in the area around there is indeed very much improved, although the dealers/users do return to the area from time to time, and this improvement is mainly due to the efforts by the police who should receive our thanks for the work they have done in the area.  The local community should continue to report any drug dealing activity in the area.

As to the problems with the CCTV, perhaps it would be helpful if it was made clear that the reason there is no CCTV in Westminster is due to the council’s decision to disconnect it and remove all the cameras, as I am sure you are fully aware.  However, I understand the police are in the process of installing CCTV cameras in Westminster.”

FITZROVIA

Refuse Collection

The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has published the results from the online survey that Westminster Council organized to obtain feedback from residents in the pilot area. (Great Titchfield Street, New Cavendish Street, Gosfield Street, Langham Street, Hanson Street, Middleton Place, Riding House Street and Ogle Street)

http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Results-WCC-survey-rubbish-and-recycling.pdf

After examining the results, the FitzWest Forum have made the following comments and recommendations to the Council:

  • WCC should implement the scheme permanently with further consultation after six months
  • Many people feel the collection times are too early in the day. Can these be adjusted to, for example, 8.00 a.m. on street
  • Temporary signage could be made permanent, with the old signs removed and more signs where necessary.
  • Foley Street was excluded from the pilot despite running directly through the middle of the pilot area and should be included in the permanent scheme.
  • Some residents have highlighted missed or late collections. All missed collections etc can be reported via ‘Report It’ section on the Westminster website westminster.gov.uk/report-itor call 0207 641 2000.

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.

MAYFAIR

McDonald’s, Oxford Street

We have written to McDonald’s about this issue:

“It has been brought to our attention by residents on Gilbert Street that anti-social behaviour is sometimes caused by customers of the West One Shopping Centre McDonald’s outlet. Whilst most customers behave well and are respectful of the local vicinity, a small minority cause nuisance noise and are disruptive to local residents. This includes sitting on stairs in front of a block of flats by Cavendish Flats and leaving litter. We’re sure you’ll agree that as a business in the local Mayfair area your business and indeed others have a duty to do what you can to make sure that your customers do not cause disruption to local residents. We’d therefore ask that you take steps to make sure that customers behave respectfully; we’d be grateful if you could outline what steps you intend to take to take. We look forward to receiving your response.”

Gilbert Street

Gilbert Street residents have raised with us their concerns about rubbish and littering being a constant problem. In particular, in front of Cavendish Flats. We have asked the Council to investigate this issue.

Binney Street

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

“I live in Binney Street, a very narrow one-way street which runs from Brook Street to Oxford Street.  It is predominantly residential and was a very quiet street, but recently due to the change of Brook Street to two-way, we are finding the increase in traffic very worrying. Taxis are using this street as a quick access to Oxford Street and come hurtling down the road as there are no junctions at which they are required to stop. I would urge you to please look at either changing the priorities at the cross streets or putting stop signs at each junction. I am concerned that there will be a fatal accident as I have witnessed several near collisions when pedestrians appear from the side streets and have almost been knocked down. The taxis just go at full speed and honk their horns to get people out of the way.”

The Council say:

As part of the Oxford Street Transformation scheme it has been proposed that Binney Street be closed at the Oxford Street end, effectively making Binney Street a cul-de-sac, and preventing through traffic in Binney Street. A map of the current proposal can be found here:

 https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/oxford-street/user_uploads/osw-hybrid-map_a4_v3.pdf

Park Street

We have asked TfL’s Oxford Street team to investigate this issue:

“As part of the two-way changes in Baker Street/Gloucester Place, TfL were already proposing to install a motor-cycle parking bay on Park Street stretching from Oxford Street to North Row leaving a block of 40 flats with no kerbside access to the building of 40 flats in that location. The detailed proposals resulting from the Oxford Street transformation now envisage changing the traffic flow in Park Street from northbound to southbound and the creation of a bus route which will run down Park Street to North Row. TfL have confirmed that in addition to this they intend also to go ahead with the motor-cycle bay. It seems to me an act of total stupidity that at what will be a very busy intersection they propose to cut out one available line of traffic. The results may be catastrophic.”

Curzon Mayfair

We have welcomed measures introduced in the Mayor of London’s draft London Plan to prevent cultural venues from closure. Included in the recently released draft Plan is the Agent of Change principle, which places the onus on developers to pay for soundproofing costs when building residential spaces next to pre-existing venues.

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

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

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

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

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/

What you say

“I read the latest report, with the usual gratitude for all that you do for residents all over Westminster”

 

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – December 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Kemp House, Berwick Street

We have asked City West Homes to fix this problem:

“Any chance this vent could be closed? It’s freezing, with the wind. Reporting it hasn’t been successful! Left open Aug/Sept, we assumed it would be closed by November, after being reported. Local estate team unable to get response either. System not working. Ironically, open fire vent compromises safety as fire door to stairs is being left open to prevent banging from wind keeping people awake at night. It’s a relatively small thing, but very irritating, and definitely symptomatic.”

Following our enquiries, the vent has now been closed.

Ingestre Place 

The building works on Berwick Street continue to cause problems for residents in Ingestre Place who say the lights are left on at the construction site across the road day and night causing them to lose sleep. We have asked the Council to take action to stop this nuisance

Supreme, Peter Street

There are continuing concerns from residents about the queuing and loud noise from the Supreme T Shirt shop in Peter Street. Patrick Lilley has done some research and he says:

“The whole modus operandi of Supreme T shirt shop is the queue. This article explains what it is all about https://www.shiftlondon.org/fashion/meet-people-queue-outside-supreme-every-week/. With one till and limited edition stock that arrives on Thursday, the attraction is the queue. Scarcity (bouncers every 50 feet and a queue) and Social Proof (so many people queueing) create the excitement and visual that people simply believe it’s hot.  They limit the T shirts.  The other attraction is the limited supply creating a secondary market on E Bay.  This is a whole other aspect.”

Broadwick Street

We have objected to the planning application for 72 Broadwick Street following representations from residents who say:

“The tenants of the building are going to be kicked out (I have lived there for 12 years, another gentleman 20 years, there are young families), as the owners are planning to redevelop. We have been referred to as “transient tenants” in the planning application – this could not be further from the truth. We are a strong community, and an integral part of this area.

The proposed redevelopment is awful, in that they are proposing to reduce the number of flats provided, and not only that, but reduce the quality of the residential provision hugely. Currently we have a rare outdoor communal courtyard, where children learn to walk, play in the summer, elderly residents can walk without having to leave the premises. This will not exist in the new building as the have put the flats on the 1st floor, because they want the top levels for their super high end office space. These flats are not only a rare example in the area of properties perfect for families and people of all ages, but they are of median price, something of which there isn’t anywhere near enough of in this part of London. “

Wardour Street

We are supporting residents who are opposing plans to redevelop Film House at 142-150 Wardour Street, Mentorn House 138-140 Wardour Street and demolish and rebuild 20 St Anne’s Court to create another hotel. Residents say:

“The character and functioning of Soho is under threat and in grave danger of being irreversibly changed. The loss of Film House, once the heart of the UK Movie Business and still home to numerous film, TV and Production houses, not only presents significant risk of Soho’s character being permanently changed but also the loss of local jobs.”

“The substantial loss of commercial work-space, such as that provided by these premises will inevitably compromise the role and attraction of Soho as a sustainable centre for the creative industries and business uses in the West End.”

In addition, residents say:

  • The scale of this development will cause significant, negative impact for local business and residential communities.
  • There is a proposed rooftop bar and restaurant on the St. Anne’s Court side which will cause added noise and disruption to local businesses and residents.
  • Building works will cause significant, long-term disruption for Soho’s residents, workers and visitors. Other famous Soho landmarks such as Trident Studios will suffer as a result of these works.
  • For a building of this size there will be significant traffic generated which will not only add to the local congestion but also have a very negative impact on the over-polluted air of Soho.

See http://westendextra.com/article/soho-film-industry-under-threat-from-hotel-surge

And https://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/tech/soho-post-firms-under-threat/5124455.article

You can make comments online using reference 17/08971/FULL

http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/

Rupert Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“We seem to have had some success in getting rid of the drug dealers on Tisbury Court, Soho (although they do pop back from time to time) but the area. Rupert Street is still regularly frequented by drug takers and other anti-social behaviour. I would continue to encourage for us to ask the council for CCTV to cover the area as a deterrent.”

Dufour’s Place

Residents in 1-6 Dufour’s Place have been plagued by regular problems with the loss of heating and hot water which is a real problem for elderly and vulnerable residents. We have made repeated calls on City West Homes to do the necessary repairs swiftly and effectively. Sadly, this is a constant battle.

Dean Street

We have asked the Council to fix a broken pavement outside Wagamama.

Sherwood Street

We have asked St Mungo’s Street sleeping team to contact the people in tents outside the Piccadilly Theatre in Sherwood Street to offer help and assistance.

FITZROVIA

Gosfield Street

Following our enquiries about street lighting levels in Gosfield Street we are delighted to have received this update from the Council:

“Thank you for highlighting the residents’ concerns regard lighting levels in Gosfield Street, upon a desktop review, Highway Services have identified that there are only 4 original Small Grey Wornum columns to illuminate the street.  While the street is only one way and narrow these existing lights will not be capable of illuminating the street to current standard and therefore the street will be promoted for review in the draft 2018/19 PPM programme.”

Great Titchfield Street

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue affecting residents’ parking:

“Recently things have got worse due to the parking of a large Cargo bike in the tiny amount of residents parking that is available. There is no permit required or payment made for this as far as I can tell but it takes up a whole residents parking space and is impossible to move as it is large and has a lock on the wheel. This is a bridge too far for me as it can easily also be parked on the single yellow line without incurring any sanction as it doesn’t have a registration number and is not registered with DVLA. I have notified Westminster Council about it but have had no response and am not sure what else there is that I can do. Is there anything that can be done to find legitimate parking for this cargo bike without it impinging on the tiny amount of space that there is for residents’ cars? I would be so grateful if this issue could be resolved satisfactorily.”

Candover Street

We have asked One Housing Association to investigate various problems in a property in Candover Street.

Mortimer Street

Residents say there is no safe place to cross where Mortimer Street intersects with Wells Street. Residents would like a “green man” crossing and we have asked the Road Safety Team to investigate this and they say:

“This junction is currently being reviewed under the City Council’s Local Safety Scheme (LSS) programme.  The LSS programme identifies over 100 locations at which there are the highest number of accidents and vulnerable user casualties; primarily pedestrians and pedal cyclists. The next set of schemes is currently being shortlisted.  The residents’ concerns about the uncontrolled crossing facilities at this junction will be taken into consideration as part of the review of this junction.   Should a design be progressed here, I will inform you so you can keep residents up to date.”

MAYFAIR

Bourdon Street

We are taking up individual housing concerns of residents in St George’s Buildings.

Hay’s Mews

Residents are very concerned about the rubbish dumping in the Mews and we have asked the Council to investigate. Residents say:

“There are currently development works ongoing in Hay’s Mews. We are not sure where the rubbish is coming from – whether it is construction workers who are causing it, or whether it is coming from elsewhere. I’m sure you’ll agree this is not only an aesthetic issue, it is also a health hazard. The more rubbish collects, the more vermin and foxes gather.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Oxford Street transformation

The opening of the Elizabeth Line at the end of 2018 will bring millions of new visitors to Oxford Street to shop, to work and to visit. The current state of Oxford Street with narrow, broken and cracked pavements, increasing pollution, a very high pedestrian accident record and an unattractive environment is not acceptable. Doing nothing is, therefore, not an option.

But this certainly does not mean that local residents and businesses should simply accept what the Council and TfL propose without questioning it thoroughly and very carefully. Residents are those who will be most affected by the changes and so residents need to be put first. Residents’ concerns about displaced traffic and increased pollution on residential streets must be answered. No ifs, not buts. The Council and TfL must show that these concerns are being addressed and ensure that the plans do not lead to the disruption, congestion, pollution and daily inconvenience that many residents fear.

It is for that reason that we have met TfL to insist that residents’ questions are answered. We will keep asking these questions until we get answers.

We have called for a street-by-street plan of of the changes so that residents and businesses can see how they will be affected. We want a big reduction in traffic, including buses. We want to see a dedicated transport service for the disabled and elderly so that they, too, can enjoy the new Oxford Street. And we want to see a plan for Wigmore Street and Henrietta Place which shows how buses can be accommodated without causing problems.

Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

You can see the latest plans for Oxford Street and make your comments here https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/oxford-street/

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. 

Pedicabs

Andrew Dismore, Labour Assembly Members asked the Mayor for an update on action to control pedicabs:

“Residents in central London and in particular the West End experience on a daily basis noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour and in some instances illicit activity like drug dealing. However, there is currently no licensing scheme in place for pedicabs and pedicab drivers. What steps can you take to help bring about a licensing scheme; and will you do so?”

Written response from the Mayor

“As I set out in my Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan, the introduction of legislation in London is urgently required to bring pedicabs within TfL regulatory framework so they are subject to its licensing standards. Being able to control, regulate and ban unsafe pedicabs is essential for public safety and for dealing with the significant congestion they cause, especially in the West End. 

In 2016 the Government announced that it would bring forward new legislation to bring pedicabs within TfL’s regulatory framework. I will continue to press it to fulfil its commitment.  In the meantime, TfL will continue to provide funding and support to the police, who undertake regular operations throughout the West End to tackle dangerous and antisocial behaviour from pedicabs that cause a nuisance.”

Electric car charging points 

We are taking up this issue with the Council:

“I choose to drive a hybrid car for environmental reasons. Unfortunately, Westminster City Council have decided to increase electric car charging costs by a substantial amount, to the point that it is many times cheaper to drive a conventional car. “

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  

London Living Wage

We are delighted that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has increased the London Living Wage to £10.20p. He says:

“I am delighted to reveal today that the new London Living Wage is increasing to £10.20 – as promised when I ran to be Mayor, breaking the £10 mark for the first time ever. Working people keep my city and our country running. From cleaners and nursing assistants, to childminders and shop assistants. They deserve to live free from poverty. Today is a good step towards my ambition: a city and a country where everyone can share in our prosperity and everyone has a fair shot at succeeding.”

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.

What you say 

“We really appreciate your support of our opposition to the planning application for National Magazine House, 72 Broadwick Street and we won’t forget your engagement to the local community.”

 

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – November 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg


 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Peter Street

We have asked the Council’s Noise Team to investigate this issue:

“Supreme in Peter Street still typically has booming bass coming forth, when it is open.  That decibel level is utterly unnecessary – and is no doubt a hazard to the staff and customers regarding hearing damage.  It sends shudders through Meard Street and is, of course, a huge disturbance for people in Peter Street.”

Broadwick Street

We are supporting residents who are opposed to the planning application for National Magazine House, 72 Broadwick Street. Residents say: 

“The proposed scheme does not offer any improvement to the existing situation, both in terms of mixed and balanced communities (social structure, income, and tenure) and quality of the housing. We cannot stress the utmost importance to provide and protect long-term rental units in the Soho area, especially for local families. However, the proposed scheme for the National Magazine House results in:

  • The loss of 2 long-term rental units in Soho for households unable to afford a million+ pounds flat nor qualify for existing housing policies. There is an important income gap between the low end and the upper end of the “affluent residents” (above £90k+); and it is thus necessary to protect existing residential units in order to prevent cumulative impacts on housing availability and affordability.
  • The loss of the existing amenities of the residential area – i.e. a communal space, the private terraces, the top-floor location – which constitutes a major drawback in Soho and in the West End areas, especially for elderly people and local young families.”

We have objected to the planning application.

Richmond Mews – update 

Following our enquiries about the leaking refuse vehicles servicing the Mews, the Council has told us:

“We contacted Veolia and requested they had the seals in the relevant vehicle repaired. We received confirmation that this work had been carried out, which I hope led to an improvement. Since receiving your subsequent email, we have reported this (different) vehicle to Veolia, requesting repair. I have now had confirmation this work has been completed.”

“As well as addressing the vehicle issue, we have also visited the businesses that use Richmond Mews for the storage and collection of their waste, and reinforced the importance of minimising the amount of liquid included with their waste. We have arranged additional flushing of Richmond Mews when we have received reports of unclean conditions.

An assessment of the paving of Richmond Mews was carried out by our Highways Team, and they arranged patching orders to address the water pooling that had been reported. Richmond Mews has also been nominated for consideration for major works next year.”

Old Compton Street/Charing Cross Road 

We have asked the Council to take action to deal with the large pool of water at the junction of Old Compton Street and Charing Cross Road.

Wardour Street

We have asked the Refuse Collection team to monitor rubbish dumping in Wardour Street and take action against those responsible. The Council say:

“I have asked the West End City Inspectors to monitor Wardour Street (particularly of an evening) and to take enforcement action as required where businesses put waste (whether WCC or private) on the public highway outside of the advertised collection times or where it has not been collected by a private waste contractor.”

We have also asked the Managing Agents to repair a broken intercom at 134-136 Wardour Street.

Ingestre Court

We have again asked City West Homes for an explanation for the 600% increase in standing charges for heating and hot water use.

FITZROVIA

New Cavendish Street

Following our enquiries about refuse and dumping issues in New Cavendish Street, the Council says:

“I have requested a flush around the lamppost outside 148. I visited the Turkish Café at 154 and educated them about their duty of care in making sure there are no leakages from waste bags that they put out for collection. We have a litter bin at 158 New Cavendish Street, as this is not fixed there is a chance people move it and I have requested that Veolia return it to its set location if it gets moved.”

Gosfield Street 

We have asked the Council to check street lighting levels in Gosfield Street after concerns raised by residents. 

Little Portland Street

We asked the Council to remove a dumped mattress in Little Portland Street. 

MAYFAIR 

Brown Hart Gardens – update

Following our reports to the Council about illegally parked cars in Brown Hart Gardens, we have received this update from the Parking Department:

“We have increased our marshal presence at this location and over the last 6 weeks we have visited this street 370 times and dealt with 70 parking contraventions which resulted in 31 PCN being issued. We will continue to monitor this location.”

Queen Street/Curzon Street

We are continuing our efforts to require the two large private refuse bins that are located on the pavement to be relocated in the refuse storage area of the building. The bins are unsightly and attract regular rubbish dumping.

Shepherd Market 

We have again asked the Refuse Collection team to investigate this issue:

“A few weeks back, I was woken up in the early hours by a restaurant owner trying to stop the chef from another restaurant leaving huge cans of cooking oil and their food waste outside my front door. The chef had trundled up a wheelie bin from the other end of Shepherd Market to leave the cans and black bags far away from his own premises.

Could Veolia please ask their operatives to not shout when they are throwing around rubbish and emptying bottle bags into the back of the truck at 1 and 2am.  They do not seem to appreciate that there are residents trying to sleep in Shepherd Market, feet away from where they are yelling and clanking glass.”

Green Park Station 

Residents have raised the issue of the increased level of people sleeping rough, especially around Green Park station. They say:

“This appears to be getting worse – what is the council doing to help these people get either the mental or physical help that they need?” 

Grosvenor Square lighting

We have made enquiries about the broken street lights in Grosvenor Square. The Council says:

“There are approximately 5 lighting assets that are affected by a UKPN service failure in the Grosvenor Square area. I have requested that FM Conway try to collaborate with UKPN to progress this matter as quickly as possible.” 

Clarges Street

We have asked the Refuse Collection team to monitor rubbish dumping in Clarges Street and take action against those responsible. The Council say:

“The photo of black rubbish bags on Clarges Street shows the bags to be on the private frontage of a building and so this is not in contravention of the time-bands we advertise for when waste can be placed on the public highway for collection. I have however asked the City Inspector to verify whether this is a regular occurrence and to speak to the building manager to establish whether waste can be stored out of sight between collection times.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Rough sleepers 

We have asked the Council to give assistance to a number of rough sleepers in Wardour Mews and Market Place.

The Council has advised that any referrals go to street.concern@mungos.org particularly if it is out of hours in order to ensure the rough sleeper is met as quickly as possible. 

Oxford Street

Transport for London has outlined areas which residents and businesses believe should be considered carefully to ensure that any transformation would be a success both for Oxford Street and the wider area. These include:

  • How the transformation of Oxford Street would affect traffic flows in the surrounding areas
  • What impact the transformation would have on air quality on Oxford Street and across the wider area
  • Ensuring access to and from the Oxford Street district, and along Oxford Street, is maintained, particularly for disabled people, older people or people travelling with young children
  • Confirmation on which forms of transport would be allowed to use a future transformed Oxford Street, and ensuring these are properly catered for throughout the transformation
  • Improving cycling infrastructure on alternative streets around Oxford Street and linking them to the wider cycling network
  • Suggestions for potential designs, including calls for additional planting, better seating and other public realm features such as new public art and al fresco dining

TfL plan to run a second phase of consultation in the Autumn on a detailed proposal for the area between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus and on ideas for the eastern end of Oxford Street.

We will be pressing TfL to take all these issues very seriously so that the interests of local residents are given high priority in the planning of the changes to Oxford Street. 

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.

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

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

What you say

“I certainly appreciate the hard work you guys do in attempting to improve things in and around Fitzrovia. Your newsletters are invaluable. “

“There are many issues you target that share concern. Lack of social housing, refuse services etc and especially the massive land changes from expensive property developments that are taking away the community spirit and vital land which should be used for locals, especially our NHS life savers.”

“I just wanted to thank you for your persistence. Thanks again for all your help.  We really appreciate it. We are definitely voting for you.”

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

If you do not wish to continue to receive this newsletter you can unsubscribe below.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – October 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Brewer Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

“An ongoing problem in the immediate area of my home is illegal dumping in and around the BT phone box on Brewer Street. This consists of all types of waste materials, including restaurant waste. It often obstructs the pavement, and can remain in situ for days at a time. I’ve lived at my address for 23 years, and have never seen such a deterioration in waste collection services and general street maintenance both by WCC and the private companies involved. “

The Council say:

Since receiving your email, we have completed 4 specific enforcement visits to the area.  Although most of the waste had been removed by the time officers attended, there was still evidence to issue 1 fixed penalty notice (FPN) for waste that had not been presented correctly. We have issued a further 5 FPN’s on our subsequent visits. These FPN’s require payment of up to £110 each. We have visited each of the relevant businesses to reinforce the requirement to comply with the local collection times when presenting their waste. They were also advised to present their waste directly outside their own premises, rather than encourage the accumulation of waste at one particular location.” 

Ingestre Court heating – update

Following our enquiries about heating costs on behalf of residents, City West Homes say:

“We can confirm that the heat networks costs do include, the heating and hot water charge, the maintenance of boiler plant and equipment, as well as the management costs of maintaining the system as a whole. CityWest Homes is proposing charges based on actual consumption and in trying to comply with new legislation. Through the distribution of heat from the source to the final consumer, there will be some heat losses which will also have to be accounted for. Fortunately, the distribution costs are low due to the local generation of the heat without having to deliver it over long distances to the buildings it serves.” 

Dean Street 

We are making enquiries about the fence that has been installed at the entrance to the Warner Brothers building on Dean Street. We have asked whether permission has been granted for this or whether they are blocking access to public highway.

7 Dufour’s Place

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue:

“As a resident of 7 Dufour’s Place, I can confirm that a number of the flats run over Marshall Street Lesiure Centre and directly underneath our floor Westminster have installed a Hot Yoga Room . Since this has taken place the heat issue has become worse. The music issue from the classes still persists. There are disabled residents that are constantly battling with is on a daily basis.”

The water pump at the corner of Poland Street/Broadwick Street – update

We are told that the restored water pump will be reinstated in January.

BT phones boxes

We are pleased the three old red BT phone boxes in Dean Street and Frith Street have been removed because they were attracting anti social behaviour.

Soho small businesses

We attended a Federation of Small Businesses event at Sohost on Berwick Street where we heard Robin Smith from Soho Dairy/Sohost and Keir Starmer MP speak about the issues faced by small business in the West End.

We are keen to communicate on behalf of our vital West End SME’s to get London MPs of both parties to understand that business rates are not fit for purpose and that Soho needs special help given the huge building disruption they have suffered.  Soho is a massive world famous asset to the West End, to Westminster, to London and the UK.  As one of the attendees pointed out, people walk down Berwick Street after years of Westminster Council’s negligence looking for the vibrancy and diversity of Soho and are shocked to find out that this is Soho’s high street.

Soho Square surgery

We have given our support to save the Soho Square surgery which faces losing one of its two GPs and its walk-in service. Living Care Medical Services say the practice, which they took over in August 2016, is not financially viable in its present form. The proposals would leave 5,000 patients with just one GP. There are currently two experienced GPs, Stephen Chee-Kin Cheung and Louis Daniel Brassey, a part-time nurse, a practice manager, administrative support, and a receptionist. The practice was saved from closure in 2014 when a host of residents’ groups in the West End campaigned to save it.

FITZROVIA 

Margaret Street 

We have received complaints from residents about the expanding night time economy and resultant anti-social behaviour that is happening in Fitzrovia, after bars and clubs close from people who have been drinking, some of whom congregate on Margaret Street (especially without access to urinals).  It is really unfair and unpleasant for residents to have to put up with that.

Langham/Foley/Gosfield Streets

We have repeated our request to the Council to return the refuse bins. Residents say:

“No one takes notice of anti-dumping notices, or the letters we’ve all had. WE NEED OUR BINS BACK. Why won’t the council listen? I wake up every morning to horrible piles of rubbish at the junction of Langham Street and Gosfield Street. It’s removed, then the bags pile up again all through the day. I walk some way to put my rubbish and recycling in one of the few bins that are left, to avoid ever putting my rubbish on the pavement.”

We have started a petition to get rubbish bins reinstated in spots where there is a lot of dumping going on. As we know, in Fitzrovia this is a prevalent issue.  Please sign and circulatethe petition to other interested residents 

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/FitzroviaRubbish/#detail

Bicycle parking

We have asked the Council to identify locations in the Fitzrovia area for bike hangars and extra bicycle parking. There has been a trial bike hangar in Queen’s Park which has worked well and is now being made permanent http://www.cyclehoop.com/product/shelters-canopies/bikehangar/

MAYFAIR

Curzon Street/Queen Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I wish to report the filthy state of the pavement outside three successful Mayfair catering establishments. These are Benugo, Tamarind and Murano. This is probably the most disgustingly dirty stretch of pavement in Mayfair, on the corner of Queen Street and Curzon Street, and yet you have allowed this to continue. The dirty green wheelie bin is a permanent fixture. Is this permitted? The debris from leftover sandwiches, picked over by pigeons, foxes and probably rats, happens every trading day. Each of the restaurants leaves bags of rubbish outside at close of business, to be torn open at night and regardless of whether there is a collection the next day or not. I am a long term resident of Mayfair (26 years) and have seen the cleanliness of our streets get worse and worse.”

The Council says:

“I’ve asked the local City Inspector to visit the restaurants to remind them of their responsibility for keeping their own land clear of litter and waste. The green bin appears to be within the property boundary of the restaurant – if this is the case the council will have limited powers to require its removal unless it is blocking pedestrian access or causing a specific environmental health hazard but the Inspector will verify if this is the case. We would encourage local residents to highlight issue using the Report It section on the council website (www.westminster.gov.uk) as these reports are then relayed directly to the relevant team to investigate/resolve.” 

North Row

We have called on the Council to take action against drivers of cars idling on North Row, including lorries making deliveries to Primark on Oxford Street We have also written to Peabody concerning the need for double glazing.

Brook Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Brook Street treet is now in utter turmoil and I have felt moved to let other Mayfair residents of the dangers that apparently ill-thought out developments can bring. The story so far:

  • Someone, somewhere, decided that it would be a good idea to make Brook Street a two-way street for traffic. I have no idea as to why this decision was made since there was no real consultation with residents and businesses in Brook Street.
  • The it was decided to widen the pavements in Brook Street and thus narrow the road. Given the planned two way traffic scheme this decision looks, and is, insane.
  • Currently, whilst the pavement-widening appears to have been completed, the planned resurfacing of the road has not, even though the two-way traffic scheme is apparently scheduled to start on the 17th September
  • On top of this, high-speed broadband cabling works have started on this same stretch of road between Claridges and Bond Street.  For days now, the street has been full of diggers and associated piles of equipment, with only one lane open for traffic. I see little chance of an early improvement”

Piccadilly

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

“Is there any way to create a pedestrian light in front of the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly, as it is a most dangerous crossing?” 

The Council say: 

A scheme is being developed at this junction which includes upgrading the existing road layout and the traffic signals so that a pedestrian ‘green man’ phase is included, which will provide safer facilities at this junction.  Subject to the results from the investigation, traffic order consultation and funding, the City Council is proposing to implement the scheme in 2018.”

Rubbish dumping – what you say

“At George Yard we had a dumping explosion since refurbursishment work was taking place on the flats there and the bins were out of view of the residents. Now work Is almost completed and the bins are more accessible to residents.  We shall be keeping an eye on this.”

Grosvenor Square – what you say

“The Square should be an area for quiet relaxing and for local workers as well as residents to use.  Workers in retail and hospitality need somewhere to relax as they often get their breaks at unsocial hours.  I have lived in the area for many years and my children, as well as many other local children, used the square and on my visits it is great to see that this is still the case.  We do not need ‘functions’ to churn up the grass (as in Hyde Park) and bring more clutter and noise into the area.”

Brown Hart Gardens – what you say

“Private cars and hire cars have been using the resident parking bays in as their own private parking bays.  Many wait a long time for their passengers to arrive.    During the summer we had some of these cars being used as office space with windows wound down and phone calls being conducted as full volume.  A polite request for them to move on sometimes was met with apologies but in this day and age I feel it is not always helpful to make a direct approach!”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Planning Committee meetings 

We propose to allow direct representations from residents at Planning Committee meetings if we win the Council election in May 2018. Many residents have made the points below to us over the years and we think it makes common sense to give residents a voice:

“I have sat in on Planning Meetings, but only as a silent witness. The majority of Planning Committees in the country allow a number of citizens to have an opportunity in a few minutes to comment. When I have spoken to leading planning lawyers they have been staggered. Perhaps procedures of the Westminster Council have been changed – but if not how can they be made to be democratic?”

Engine idling

We have received complaints from one end of the West End Ward to the other about poor enforcement of engine idling. Parents on the school-run and big mini cabs companies like Addison Lee and Uber need to be aware their drivers who idle while stationary are not only committing an offence but they are poisoning children’s playgrounds if they idle near schools. Companies need to let their fleets know this.

What you say

“The current newsletter Is full of good things that you are doing for the extended neighbourhood.”

“Thank you so much for your Action Report and all that you are doing to help us”

“Thank you for this newsletter, its appreciated by all the residents I know here on Broadwick Street.” 

“Many thanks for your wonderful reports and keeping us up to date with issues.”

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – September 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Ingestre Court

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

“Residents at Ingestre Court have recently had individual billing rather than block billing for heating and hot water. CityWest Homes have now sent their first individual bill to the residents stating a standing charge covering their billing overheads is £51.30 per quarter plus vat representing a 644% higher standing charge cost than utility providers and when compared with my usage of my consumption represents 71.5% of my heating and hot water bill. I ask on behalf of my residents if there is a way to challenge the unreasonable standing charge.”

William Blake House, Dufour’s Place 

Following our enquiries regarding fire safety at William Blake house, City West Homes tells us: 

“The last fire risk assessment was undertaken on 2 January 2017, major works are currently on site, which encompasses fire improvement works. The block will be re-inspected by the fire safety team, once the project reaches practical completion to ensure all works have been completed to the required standards.”

Broadwick Street

We have asked the Council to inspect a large dip in the road/cobbles on Broadwick Street outside the John Snow pub at the corner of Lexington Street.

Berwick Street

The press reports that Shaftesbury has bought 90-104 Berwick Street from PMB. Shaftsbury Chief executive Brian Bickell said: “We respect its tradition as Soho’s local high street, and there is no way it is going to become fashion or food dominated. We want a mix there, and that includes record and fabric shops.”

Let’s hope this will be the start of an improvement in life for residents and market traders.

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/shaftesbury-buys-more-property-in-berwick-street-and-pledges-to-keep-soho-spirit-a3616271.html

Richmond Mews

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

“We have CCTV evidence that 100 Wardour St restaurant is disposing of their live food and liquids into the bins in Richmond Mews. When the bin men collect and empty the bins into their vehicle the liquid simply pours out of their trucks onto the Mews and then sits in the tarmac creating mess smells and assisting vermin to breed. Waste food must be disposed of correctly and not in this appalling manner.”

Romilly Street

We have again asked the Council to stop its contractors from dumping material outside the Coach and Horses pub on Romilly Street, making it difficult for customers to get in the pub and ruining trade.

Poland Street

We have called on the Council to take much more effective control of the many construction sites in Poland Street to ensure that pavements are not continually blocked by hoardings and deliveries and forcing pedestrians in to the busy road. One resident describes the situation:

“First, a huge development has been going on for ages at the top of Poland Street, where it meets Oxford Street.  A tunnel was initially created in the scaffolding that people could walk through, but latterly the entire pavement was completely closed off and boarded up, so that everyone had to cross to the east pavement.  The solid structure on the west side reaches right across the pavement, creating a blind corner, so that anyone in Oxford Street attempting to cross over has no view whatsoever of traffic coming up Poland Street.  There are no traffic lights there, so people are forced to take their lives in their hands.

Then, a development began around a restaurant on Poland Street, between Broadwick Street and the garage entrance. This huge structure extended on to the pavement right next to a permanent upright pole on the pavement, leaving only a few inches’ clearance, so that anyone with trolley, a baby buggy, any kind of device to assist walking, has to use the roadway to gain access to a kerb they can negotiate.” 

7 Dufours Place

We are continuing to assist residents in their battle with Soho Housing Association to get the heating controls fixed so that they can reduce the overbearing heating in the summer.

Drug use in Soho    

We had a response from our letter to the Met Police Borough Commander regarding the presence of drug dealers and drug users in residential streets in Soho. Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling confirmed that police will be concentrating resources around problem areas and that they are addressing individuals involved through Community Protection Notices, Dispersal Zones and Criminal Behaviour Orders.

FITZROVIA

Gosfield Street/Langham Street junction

We have asked the Council to investigate the continued rubbish dumping at the intersection of Gosfield Street and Langham Street. Not only is this unsightly, it is also a health hazard – the rubbish is attracting vermin and it needs to be addressed. Below are the words of a resident who describes the problem.

“I live in Fitzrovia and we have a big problem with household binbags being dumped on the streets. Gosfield Street and the junction between Gosfield Street and Langham Street is a particularly bad area. Piles of binbags are dumped every week and are attracting rats and foxes. This has been going on for at least 3 years, since the big bins there were removed and people now have nowhere to put their rubbish. I have emailed the council numerous times about this, asking for the bins to be reinstated. They say they are looking into it but nothing ever changes.”

The Council has told us:

“Thanks for highlighting this. This location has been identified as a priority for monitoring/enforcement action by the City Inspectors. We’re also just finalising new ‘no dumping’ street signage and a letter drop to all nearby residents and businesses.”

Riding House Street 

We have contacted the contractors responsible for the development site at 37 Riding House Street. Residents know that works are allowed on on Saturday mornings but had understood that Saturday morning working would be confined to less noisy operations. Residents are unhappy at the very noisy working that they currently have to endure on Saturdays and we have asked if this can this be reviewed in the future.

Candover Street

We have written to One Housing again about mice infestation at 2 Candover Street. The problems persist and need to be addressed.

Foley Street/Candover Street

We have asked the Council to investigate these two issues:

  • The area in front of Tower House on Foley Street is regularly used as a rubbish dumping ground, with rubbish not being cleared for up to a week.
  • We have received a number of complaints from residents about the noise impact of the many delivery bikes at Domino’s Pizza, particularly around engine noise late at night.

We have also written the following letter to the Manager of Domino’s Pizza:

“We write to say that we are very concerned to hear from residents in the area that Domino’s Pizza delivery motorcycles have been flouting the rules of the road. It has been reported to us that motorists drive the wrong from Ogle Street into Foley Street passing the no entry sign. There are concerns this will result in someone being hurt. We’d be grateful if you could let us know what steps you will take to make sure this does not continue. We would prefer to avoid the issue locally rather than have to raise the issue with management elsewhere.”

Hanson Street

We have reported rubbish dumping by a lamp post on the pavement outside 22 Hanson Street. 

New Cavendish Street

We have asked the Council to repair the uneven pavements to the east of Gosfield Street along New Cavendish Street. The Council has told us:

The local Inspector checked both sides of New Cavendish Street east of the junction at Gosfield Street. Along that length he found four small patches of paving that met our Intervention criteria for repair having degraded since the last inspection. None were dangerous and all should be completed in 28 days:

  • New Cavendish Street just east of the junction with Gosfield Street
  • New Cavendish Street Opposite 120
  • New Cavendish Street j/w Hanson street
  • New Cavendish Street Opposite 144

Recycling and Rubbish Collection Service Improvements in Fitzrovia

Everyone in Fitzrovia has noticed the rubbish and dumping that unfortunately seems to have become a daily blight on our streets. The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum, in consultation with local residents, has worked with Westminster City Council over the last two years to agree simplifications and improvements to recycling and rubbish collection times. These are now being trialled in a limited area of Fitzrovia as part of the pilot. A map of the pilot area is on the website. Full details are here http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/

What you say

“After being a “Fitzrovian”, I have now retired and have moved. Over the years I have contacted you on so many different points, and each time you have dealt with them swiftly, so I would like to say a very big “thank you” to you for this and wish you every success in the future.”

MAYFAIR

Binney Street

We are making enquiries of the Council about the road changes required for the Crossrail works after receiving this enquiry from a Binney Street resident.

“My main concern is the huge volume of traffic that now comes at great speed down Binney Street from Brook Street as Davies Street remains closed. This is becoming such a busy street and primarily is being used by taxis as it gives them the only access onto Oxford Street. This has all become a problem due to the Crossrail works and would like to know how it will be resolved once the works are completed. This is a very narrow residential street which was always very safe and quiet – this is no longer the case and in fact has become a health and safety concern for pedestrians as pavements have been blocked off.”

The Council say:

“Crossrail’s works are due to be removed during next year, and before the new train service commences in December 2018.  The agreed highway layout will then return to its previous condition with vehicles using Davies Street to serve Stratford Place.  Any other changes relating to Oxford Street will be subject to further public consultation, currently proposed for November this year.”

Stanhope Gate

We have asked the Council to take action against those responsible for the regular rubbish dumping in Stanhope Gate.

North Row

We have asked Peabody when residents’ windows in North Row will be replaced with ‘easy to clean, double-glazed’ windows. Residents say they feel like ‘poor relations’.

Brown Hart Gardens

We have asked the Parking Department to investigate this issue:

Private cars servicing the Beaumont hotel on Brown Hart Gardens have been occupying parking bays clearly designated as for resident use only. They park there on a daily basis and for long periods of time.  A few weeks ago a resident of Chesham Flats spoke to a Traffic Warden explaining the issue mentioned above, his reply was, “leave it with me and I will deal with it”. The resident says: “That was a complete waste of time, nothing has been done and I do not expect anything to be done.”

New Bond Street

The statue of Winston Churchill sitting on a bench with his wartime contemporary, President Franklin Roosevelt, on New Bond Street has been moved temporarily because of road works.

Grosvenor Square – what you say

“I have been a resident of Grosvenor Square for over 40 years and would not welcome the proposed turning of the six acres of the gardens in the Square in to further entertainment prospects – we have already witnessed a burgeoning of events in Hyde Park, both Summer and Winter and with the proximity of so much shopping and restaurants, would welcome a return to the calm and peace we remember, having always been a residential area”

WEST END WIDE

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

Pedicabs

We are continuing our campaign on Pedicabs and have asked Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore to ask this question to the Mayor:

“Residents in central London and in particular the West End experience noise nuisance from pedicab drivers on a daily basis. On top of that, some pedicab drivers have been associated with anti-social behaviour and in some instances illicit activity like drug dealing. However, there is currently no licensing scheme in place for pedicabs and implementing a licensing scheme would help bring pedicabs under control. What steps can the Mayor take to help bring about a licensing scheme?”

Airbnb

We are continuing our campaign for new regulations to safeguard residential property from being taken over by permanentt Airbnb use. Please let us know if you suspect any property is being used exclusively for Airbnb-type use.

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.

Motorbikes on Pavements – what you say

“Motorbikes and bikes also use the central pavements (in middle of the road for pedestrians) on Oxford Street and Regent Street.  The bike scheme needs to be regulated as every time I witness a bike in a pedestrianised area, like Carnaby Street, it tends to be a tourist on a hired bike; often drunk and not really in control of the bikes. Late at night at the pedestrianised end of Broadwick Street people take drugs and ride bikes using only the front wheel!  Quite comical to watch but a danger to themselves and others.”

What you say

“Good work, thank you!”

“As always, I read the latest Action Report with gratitude to the Labour Team for the amazing number of issues they take up on behalf of residents throughout Westminster.”

“Always an interesting bulletin and it’s so good to see direct action being taken on behalf of residents. Thanks so much for your continued hard work on these myriad issues.”

 

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – August 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Soho Parish School

We are working with the school on a series of action to help protect pupils from anti-social behavior outside the school, particularly from drug users and others. 

Berwick Street

Traders and residents in Soho have accused Westminster Council of ignoring complaints about “life-shattering” disruption from a redevelopment. Work to build a hotel, retail units and flats in Berwick Street began four years ago and is expected to end in late 2018. More than 30 businesses have shut, footfall in Berwick Street Market has halved and noise levels were unacceptable despite demolition officially ending last autumn. About 100 residents of Kemp House council block say they are living in a building site. The Berwick Street Traders Society, Kemp House Residents’ Association and Berwick Street Businesses have asked the council to guarantee that more businesses will not be forced out and called for the developer to compensate people.

We are continuing to urge the Council to take action to stop the constant dust from the building. Residents and businesses say:

“There is dust blowing in the street from the works. We can feel it in our eyes, nose and in our hair and on our skin. It causes clogging, irritation, dry throat, itching and, I am informed by residents. This is a serious and ongoing problem with the drilling, cutting and breaking at Kemp House continuing for two years after the commencement of works without necessary precautions taken. There is something very wrong with this development and HSE must take these concerns very seriously.

The dust cannot be described as a nuisance, it is a very serious health and safety issue given the site is not properly covered, not watered down, has been breaking concrete for two years, debris is left on the site and is not controlled by anything other than the wind, which is a well known and documented feature of Berwick Street. We are not passing public but people living and working in the dust from this site every day and every hour of every week. “

Soho Dairy

We have congratulated Berwick Street Market’s Soho Dairy, which has won the Federation of Small Business London Retail Business of the Year award. This award was open to any retail business. Judges were looking for companies which:

  • Have increased or maintained sales during the past 12 months
  • Deliver a high quality service and exceptional customer service
  • Have identified or exploited new markets, income stream or opportunities
  • Demonstrate commitment to their employees through development and training and have good staff retention rates

The judges were impressed with how Soho Dairy is linked heavily to their local roots but has managed to keep a contemporary twist. They commented that the business has great concepts, expanding well, whilst overcoming some tough obstacles.

Dufour’s Place

We have again contacted Soho Housing Association about the heating problems at 7 Dufour’s Place.

We are also working closely with residents in William Blake House about their concerns about lift breakdowns and fire safety. Residents say:

“The indicator for the right hand lift 316 is blank, and when you are in the lift the indicator inside is also completely blank.  I travelled in that lift yesterday, in total darkness, because the automatic lights did not work. Meanwhile lift 315 shakes and shudders horrifically when it rises and falls.”

Meard Street

We have contacted the Council about a potential fire risk at a restaurant 4 Meard Street after being contacted by residents. The Council says:

“I previously made a visit to the premises in June 2016 where a similar issue was raised.  At the time this was resolved and arrangements were made to ensure the cleanliness of the ducts, however, this would appear to have lapsed.  I have been assured that they will be cleaning the horizontal part of the duct on a monthly basis and they will be cleaning the riser (vertical part of the duct) every 3 months.  

This new cleaning regime began in June 2017.  Therefore, the riser will be cleaned in August and then every three months going forward.  The London Fire Brigade will also be making a visit to the restaurant to assess the potential fire risks.”

Stirling Court

Residents have asked us to take up this issue with City West Homes:

“I would be interested to know why a wooden structure has been attached to the outside of the Stirling Court at fifth floor level. The thick black waterproofing suggests that it is permanent arrangement. It seems odd that a combustible material like that should be used. I wonder what the council is doing to ensure that materials used in tower block renovations do not pose a fire hazard. “

Drug Addicts Anonymous

Drug Addicts Anonymous (DAA) are an excellent organisation, run entirely by volunteers, that helps addicts beat their addiction by taking them through a series of steps which helps them live a life free of abuse. You can find out more about them here. DAA are looking to set up regular meetings in or close to Soho to help people locally. To do that, they need to find a space they can use on a more or less regular basis (once a week). As they are a volunteer-run and have very little funding. Their requirements are set out below:

  • A venue with capacity for a minimum of 15 people .
  • One that would be available at the same time/location for a weekly basis.
  • Access to tea/coffee making facilities.
  • Cost-effective, given that they are funded solely by the contributions from their members.

Do you know of any vacant spaces or rooms that DAA might be able to use?

FITZROVIA

Langham Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Everywhere I walk in this area is festooned with rubbish bags and other items. It’s an absolute eyesore and health/rats hazard. Particularly bad is opposite where I live in Langham Street, where there used to be two big wheelie bins (for rubbish and recycling) which were very convenient but removed because it was said they attracted dumping. Now we have the dumping without the bins. All Sunday there was a massive pile of rubbish, collected early this morning, and eventually cleaned up by street cleaners. At 10 am there were already 3 black rubbish bags across the road and 6 blue ones outside my own door. We have very regular collections and excellent street cleaners but it simply isn’t dealing with the problem.”

The Council say:

“I have highlighted this to the local City Inspector to prioritise for additional inspections and to take enforcement action as appropriate.”

Riding House Street

There is a leaking drain pipe running down the wall between two flats at 39 Riding House Street The wall is wet and covered in green mould/slime. We have asked One Housing to investigate.

Hanway Street

The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum is urging Westminster City Council to reject plans to part demolish and redevelop a cluster of commercial buildings on a corner site in the Hanway Street conservation area. Plans for the demolition and redevelopment behind retained facades of 54-62 Oxford Street and 51-58 Rathbone Place (known as Holden House); and for the complete demolition of 66 and 68 Oxford Street to be replaced with a new “high quality glass-block building.” Nick Bailey of the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has written to Westminster City Council’s planners saying the application should be refused. 

MAYFAIR

Mayfair Neighbourhood Plan

You can complete the Mayfair Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire from the Mayfair Forum. You can also download the Executive Summary here http://www.mayfairlocal.com/plan

We agree with Ron Whelan who says:

If there is to be a proper Neighbourhood Plan, which I do think is essential for Mayfair’s future, then I would have thought that the task of building and sustaining a viable neighbourhood should be the most appropriate starting point. To have any chance of being effective, any such plan should involve explicit commitments to 

  • Refraining from blindly embracing mass market retailing
  • Prioritising the need for a varied range of small local traders
  • Protecting Mayfair’s Exclusive Brand status
  • Protecting Mayfair’s squares against over commercialisation
  • Ensuring effective control over late night licensing.”

Grosvenor Square

The press reports:

“The managers of Grosvenor Square are drawing up plans to breathe life into the six acres of pristine lawns in the heart of the West End. They believe the departure of diplomats from the heavily fortified US Embassy will offer the chance to turn the garden into a Mayfair mini-park. Will Bax, of Grosvenor, said it wanted to “crowd-source” ideas for making better use of the square from a survey of Londoners. The survey results will be used by a panel of experts overseeing an international design competition next year.” 

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/mayfairs-grosvenor-square-could-be-transformed-into-bustling-public-park-a3581261.html

What are your thoughts on this?

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Oxford Street

We are continuing to urge TfL to take on board residents’ concerns in their plans for Oxford Street. Here are some of your recent comments which we have asked TfL to consider:

“I think it would be a pity to remove all traffic from Oxford Street.  As a pensioner it suits me to get on a bus one end of Oxford Street and get taken down to the other end. Gives me a rest and a look at all the people walking along and the time to look at shop windows which is hard to do as one negotiates a path through the crowds. Would traffic be able to cross Oxford Street?  If I have a lot of shopping I sometimes take a taxi behind John Lewis which crosses Oxford Street and goes down New Bond Street. I’m not in favour of doing away with all traffic. “

“It is hard to believe that this proposal of pedestrianising Oxford Street is even being considered – It’s virtually pedestrianised now.  There is so much space set aside for people with little space for public transport.  They should leave it as it is but revert to no private vehicles allowed at any stage or to any part of this major thoroughfare.  There are sufficient roads nearby for people to be dropped off and to walk onto this street.  Large delivery vehicles could be allowed at certain times outside the main usage of the street.   Obviously vehicles for the disabled, taxis, buses and refuse collections etc should be allowed.”

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.

What you say

“I always enjoy the news you supply.  Congratulations on saving the Curzon cinema.

One of my favourite haunts in my neighborhood. Good work too with the schools issue. Carry on the good work.”

“I have read the latest report and want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone in the West End Ward Labour Action Team for all you are doing for us – I truly don’t know what we would do without you.”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – July 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville 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/

We have made particular enquiries about the situation at Kemp House and the Dufour’s Place tower.

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

SOHO

Soho Parish School

According to the schoolcuts website, Soho Parish School will lose £97,000, equivalent to £615 per pupil, and will lose 2 teachers, as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula (https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/). We have started a petition calling on the Council to urge the Government to scrap these new proposals which will mean that half of Westminster schools will lose out.

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

Kemp House, Berwick Street

We are supporting local resident’s concerns about the building works and street closures in Berwick Street. Residents say:

“There is much anxiety and fear among residents about the current safety of Kemp House. We have requested to see the current fire risk assessment for Kemp House, but at present are still waiting to be sent it. There is great alarm that WCC have allowed so many of the surrounding roads in Soho to be closed off at the same time, on top of all the ongoing building developments that also require street access to be closed. Residents and other locals do need to see that all fire safety measures are in place and the council has clear plans in case of emergencies. To date, all our requests for information regarding these plans and assessments have been ignored.”

Greek Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have a small business in Greek Street that is suffering huge trade losses and plagued by a drugs ghetto created by a building depot that has been sited directly outside my business. It has been there since January this year and I have already lost over £40,000 in trade as direct result. The site will be there until November which will cause losses in trade of over £100,000 and could well force me into bankruptcy. The works, which I support, are for improving the pedestrian and traffic flow around Cambridge Circus. The terrible and dangerous situation is in the siting of the building compound supporting the works for materials and storage. This site has been placed directly in front of my pub along Romilly Street. It has created an alley way between the fencing of the site and my pub. This has become a haven for drug dealing and taking. We have had and still have enormous problems and been in dangerous situations because of this as they gather in our door way. I have identified three locations where at the very least parts of the site could be moved to with zero adverse effect on traffic flow, pedestrians and local business but there seems little if no interest in this at all. I and my team are in a desperate state and would welcome any support you may be able to give us.”

Berwick Street businesses

We are supporting small businesses in Berwick Street who are battling with the Government Valuation Office to get a rate reduction. We have written to the Treasury Minister responsible. The businesses say:

“We are a group of small businesses on Berwick Street who have had to endure nearly 18 months (since 22nd February 2016) of concrete busting, drilling, dust and excruciating noise at over 90dbs from the Kemp House demolition site and the accompanying fifth, dirt, dust and noise from the Walker’s Court demolition site. 

This come on top of 3 years of multiple other demolitions and developments in Broadwick Street, Hopkins Street, Wardour and Brewer Street, that come on top of Berwick Street road surface itself being taken up for a whole year, with the closure of more than 50% of businesses in the immediate vicinity, with those remaining loosing 50% of their revenue, a group of Berwick Street Businesses reasonably appealed to the VoA for Rates Relief so that they can remain in business. “

Wahaca, Wardour Street 

We have written to the Manager of Wahaca to urge the company to install a new alarm that works properly after residents told us:

“Once again Wahaca’s alarm is going off.  The staff are there, but unable to stop it.  What is so hopeless with Wahaca that it cannot have an efficient alarm system?  The alarm started around 8.45am, this Sunday – and on a humid day when even with windows closed, it drones through.”

Dufours Place

We are continuing to press Soho Housing Association to turn down the heating at 7 Dufours Place.

We have also raised repeated concerns about the faulty lifts at 69 Dufours Place which creating havoc for residents. We have also asked City West Homes to investigate this issue:

“Access to the roof of this building is prevented by a padlocked gate. I understand that this might has been put in place to stop non-residents from gaining access to the roof and sleeping on the roof or using it to store drugs etc. This problem could be solved by installing a fob system so that only residents and emergency services could gain access. In the event of an emergency, being able to have one more place of safety until rescue teams arrive can only be a good thing.” 

Richmond Mews

We are continuing to press the Council to take action to safeguard neighbouring residents from late night noise from the restaurants and clubs in the area.

Wardour Street

We have asked the Council to take up this issue with Thames Water:

“The duct covers for Thames Water, in the road opposite 101 Wardour Street, is loose. So, day and night, when vehicles are not parked, vehicles zoom over it, creating a crash, click crash.  “

West End Safer Neighbourhood Team

The Safer Neighbourhood Team say:

“We would like to pass on the Soho ward mobile phone number. This is not to replace 101/999 but it is a good way of getting information to us. Various people have used what’s app and text to send in pictures. The number is 07785 401 452.”

FITZROVIA

All Souls Primary School

According to the schoolcuts website, All Souls Primary School in Foley Street School will lose £117,000, equivalent to £661 per pupil, and will lose 3 teachers, as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula (https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/). We have started a petition calling on the Council to urge the Government to scrap these new proposals which will mean that half of Westminster schools will lose out.

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

Diesel parking charges

A 50 percent surcharge will apply to drivers of pre-2015 diesel vehicles paying to park in Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Hyde Park zones from Monday 26 June 2017. The hourly charge for pre-2015 diesel vehicles will be £7.35 and all other vehicles will continue to be charged £4.90 per hour. The surcharge will be added automatically at the point of purchase of parking time.

The area as a whole suffers from some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. The 50 percent surcharge level has been introduced to deter the heaviest polluting vehicles from parking in the zone. Fitzrovia has some of the lowest levels of car use in the UK — less than 25 percent of households have access to a car or van — and the neighbourhood is served well by public transport and many people choose to walk and cycle. But the area is blighted by large volumes of through traffic.

MAYFAIR

St George’s Primary School

According to the schoolcuts website, St George’s Primary School will lose £112,000, equivalent to £559 per pupil, and will lose 3 teachers, as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula (https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/). We have started a petition calling on the Council to urge the Government to scrap these new proposals which will mean that half of Westminster schools will lose out.

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

Hanover Flats

We have again asked Peabody to review security arrangements at Hanover Flats to safeguard residents from intruders. 

Shepherd Market

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Top of my list would be the huge pile of stinking rubbish that is left in the centre of Shepherd Market every day, outside my front door and next to the restaurants who do have tables and chairs licences. I am baffled why the Council allows this unsightly and smelly practice to continue.

Related to the 24-hour rubbish heap is the round the clock rubbish collection it requires. I am fed up of being woken up on Sunday mornings and Bank Holidays by the street cleaning this oily and mice infested pile of rubbish requires. To assist the businesses and with no thought for the residents, the street cleaning and washing down of the street starts at 6.45 or 7am.  This is only a few hours after the rubbish and glass collections have finished at 2am.  I am writing now as I was jolted out of bed by the street cleaner clanking bottles out of the rubbish into his cart at 7am and the street washing machine circling Shepherd Market at 7.20am.  Why is it necessary to do this at such an early hour on a Sunday?”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

School Cuts

We have launched a petition calling on Westminster City Council to to urge the Government to scrap the school funding proposals which will mean that all three schools in the West End will lose out, including All Souls Primary School (lose £117,000); Soho Parish School (lose £97,000) and St George’s School (£112,000)

According to the schoolcuts website, All Souls Primary School in Foley Street will lose £117,000, equivalent to £661 per pupil, and will lose 3 teachers; St George’s Primary School will lose £112,000, equivalent to £559 per pupil, and will lose 3 teachers, and Soho Parish School will lose £97,000, equivalent to £615 per pupil, and will lose 2 teachers.

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

Restaurant and Bar Trade

The GMB trade union is undertaking a confidential survey of people working in the restaurant and bar trade in the West End www.surveymonkey.com/r/gmbsohocentral

For further details contact sarah.hurley@gmb.org.uk

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/

What you say

“Many thanks to you and your colleagues for the work that you do and keeping us up to date on matters.”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – June 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Berwick Street building sites

Residents are angry at the constant noise from adjacent building sites and have asked us to take this up with the Council. Residents say:

“Please kindly put some force behind the issues we are suffering and make sure that the 8-18.00 noisy hours we are currently suffering are reduced! It is outrageous what chaos and anarchy is reigning in Soho and I should hope that you will take this as a priority to resolve these idiotic problems in communication and with protecting local residents and the market in mind. I have no words for the utter negligence we are being faced with time and time again since PMB and Soho Estates have started their demolition and construction works. It is inhumane how we are let down by the authorities that should give sensible regulations to constructors and developers to protect local residents and businesses.”

Broadwick Street – Update

Following our enquiries about when the commemorative John Snow pump will be returned, the Council has told us:

“Whilst the public realm works outside 30 Broadwick Street are largely complete, I can confirm that the pump and granite plinth is currently safely stored in the Council’s service provider’s yard and will be returning to Soho. The intention is that the pump will be reinstated close to its original location outside the John Snow pub in Broadwick Street in January 2018. “

7 Dufours Place – Update

Following our representations to Soho Housing Association in support of residents’ concerns about the heating during the summer months, Soho HA say:

“We have now commissioned our Mechanical and Electrical consultants to carry out a full assessment of the various heating problems that have been experienced at 7 Dufours Place. A full response will be sent by 23 May 2017.”

Archer Street

We are continuing to press the police and the Council to deal with the drug dealing in Archer Street. Residents say:

“One of the hotspots for drug crime in Soho is undoubtedly Archer Street. Dealers deal there, and users consume there, almost on a daily basis. It is totally unfair for local residents who live on Archer Street, many of whom have children and have to endure feeling unsafe almost all of the time. 

In this context, police and local neighbourhood officers must commit to visiting Archer Street daily to heighten police presence there. It needs to be clear that this activity will not be tolerated so as to de-incentivise users and dealers thinking that Archer Street is a safe haven where they can behave however they wish.”

Romily Street

Following our enquiries about access for cyclists, the Council says:

“The areas of the highway that had previously been taken up by items related to the work by external developers which had necessitated the closure of the cycles lanes have now been removed. I have arranged for replacement “Except Cycles” signs to be installed where required and for those already present to be orientated correctly. I have also asked for the traffic orders to be checked.”

Ingestre Place

It has been reported in the press that The Society Club in Ingestre Place is due to close due to rising rent. This is a much-loved independent venue, and it is a big blow to Soho.

Kemp House

We are working with residents of Kemp House following another incident related to the building site next door which resulted in flooding and water penetration to Kemp House. According to City West Homes:

“Interserve have found the cause of the flood and have worked to resolve this matter. This leak was caused by the developer demolishing a concreate slab, which allowed water to run along the floor and go down the side the joining building. They have now created a slump, to prevent this happening again.”

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council which Berwick Street will be close for 8 months. Residents ask; “How are those many of us in the area who are disabled and dependent upon transport to get to medical and hospital appointments from the 5th June onward are to be picked up and returned home?”

FITZROVIA

Cleveland Street

Proposals by a hospital charity to redevelop the site of the former Strand Union Workhouse on Cleveland Street have been met with over 150 letters of objection sent to Camden Council which is due to make a decision on the plans later this year. The site was last used as the Middlesex Hospital Annex in 2006 and it has since remained largely vacant with property guardians using the buildings as temporary accommodation.

The George and Dragon at 151 Cleveland Street is selling its own brand of beer brewed on the premises. New owners Ray Corner and Charles Gardner have given it a light renovation and revealed many of the original features of the historic building which stands on the corner of Cleveland Street and Greenwell Street. The independent free house is already drawing a crowd to its range of craft beers and the gourmet food served up by its resident chef Adam Rawson.

Newman Passage

The pedestrian alleyway alongside the Newman Arms pub at Newman Passage is to close for six months from March to allow “structural work” to be done, according to a notice outside the pub which is currently shut for refurbishment.

Foley Street

All Souls Church of England Primary School in Foley Street was ranked in the top 10 percent of schools in England based on pupils’ progress in reading, writing and maths. At the school 87 percent of pupils met the expected standard in literacy and numeracy after sitting the key stage 2 test in 2016, well above the City of Westminster average of 58 percent.

See Fitzrovia News for the full stories

https://towerarchive.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/fitzrovia-news-fn144-lowres.pdf

MAYFAIR

Binney Street

We have reported continued rubbish dumping in Binney Street. The Council say:

“Thank you for highlighting the continued rubbish dumping problem on Binney Street. From the photo this is almost certainly bedding and detritus from rough sleepers so I have instructed the local City Inspector to liaise with the council’s Rough Sleeping team to try to permanently resolve this issue. He will also arrange for a Veolia cleansing vehicle to regularly check this location and remove any items found.”

Mayfair Library

Following our enquiries about disabled toilet facilities at Mayfair Library, the Head of Libraries says:

“Mayfair library does not have access for disabled users. There are stairs up to the entrance accessing the ground floor and stairs to the first floor, currently used mainly for weddings and ceremonies. There are public lavatories on the first floor but whilst these would be suitable for disabled users and have some adaptations to help those who may be mobility impaired, they are not “accessible” as such due to the constraints of a heritage building. We have made informal arrangements with some local users to help them access library stock, and the nearest fully accessible libraries are Marylebone (Beaumont St) and Charing Cross Road. Our home library service is also available. We are considering whether there are any ways we can improve the situation, following a recent discussion with the Friends of Mayfair Library.”

Hanover Square Trees – Update

We have received the following update from the Council:

“A number of concerns have been raised through the recent consultation process about the proposed loss of trees in Hanover Square. Whilst 4 selfseeded trees are proposed to be removed as part of this scheme: 1 midsized London plane tree currently in the centre of the historic view corridor, 1 midsized Sycamore tree, and 2 Norwegian Maple trees which are currently crowding the William Pitt statue, significantly more new trees are proposed to be planted in and around the Square and in the Gardens to replace them. All mature London plane trees are proposed to be retained within the Hanover Square public realm scheme and the proposed reinstated historical orbital path has been arranged with respect to their positions.” 

Princes Street

We have asked the Council to clean up long-standing rubbish in Princes Street.

South Molton Street

According to the ‘Standard’:

“Celebrated costume jeweller, Butler & Wilson is to close after 32 years in the West End. Simon Wilson, founder and director of the store, said he had made the “depressing, sad” decision to shut the shop in South Molton Street at the end of next month. The 958 sq ft outlet in one of central London’s best known designer shopping streets has traded at a loss for the past three years after it got “quieter and quieter.” He said: “South Molton Street used to be amazing, there used to be all these fabulous shops packed with amazing customers but they are just not there anymore, it’s gradually just died. There are now four or five empty shops on the street and we are the last independent retail shop. What is happening to London? It’s so depressing.”

What do you think is needed to revive South Molton Street?

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/kate-s-costume-jeweller-to-leave-dying-mayfair-street-after-32-years-a3542236.html

Hanover Flats – Update

Following our enquiries, Peabody has been investigating a number of avenues to try and find a solution to the issue of people gaining unauthorised access to the courtyard at Hanover Flats. We have received this update:

“There have been requests from residents for Peabody to install lockable gates at the point of entry on the front and rear courtyard spaces. While this would be the ideal solution, circumstances dictate that this is not a viable option for the following reasons:

  • we are unable to just provide a lock for the gates, as visitors need to be able to access the fob panels inside the courtyard. If the gates were locked no one would be able to provide visitors with access which would be a problem for our elderly residents living in the block some of whom need to let in carers etc.
  • Moving the fob panels to the outside gates would be extremely costly and the current railings are so low that anybody can climb over the gates, making the security ineffective, particularly at such a high cost.
  • raising of the gates to prevent people climbing over has been considered, however due to planning constraints within a conservation area this is an unlikely solution with inhibitive costs involved.

The best method to keep out unauthorised visitors is to ensure that the gate is closed when not in use. In addition, you should notify the Police if you witness any illegal activities taking place on the estate. Please continue to report any issues concerning the courtyard via Peabody Direct on 020 7021 4444. Our Estate Services Team clear up all mess which is left behind including bodily fluids. For further information, please contact your Neighbourhood Manager Sarah-Jane Day via the telephone number above or email sarah-jane.day@peabody.org.uk.”

Escalating rents – £27,500 a week!

According to the ‘Standard’:

“A wealthy tenant is paying almost the equivalent of the average salary in Britain every week to rent a 12-bedroom home in Mayfair. The new occupants of the Grade II property in Upper Grosvenor Street, complete with sauna, jacuzzi, gym and swimming pool, have agreed a deal at £27,500 a week. The average UK worker earned £28,296 last year. The rent works out at almost £120,000 a month or £1.4 million a year. It is one of an increasing number of trophy London homes being offered for rents running to tens of thousands of pounds a week.”

Piccadilly

The “In and Out” club at 94 Piccadilly is to be converted into a luxury hotel. Accortding to the press: “The Reuben brothers bought 94 Piccadilly and a number of surrounding buildings in 2012. They won planning consent to convert them into a single 60,000 sq ft residence in 2014 but had made little progress and the listed buildings remain on Historic England’s at risk register because of their poor state. Now a planning application has been lodged with Westminster City Council to convert the block of buildings into a 102-room hotel, as well as four “serviced” apartments. The plans from architects PDP London show that the hotel would have a 2,200 sq ft ballroom and a two-level basement with a gym, spa, wellness centre and swimming pool.”

West End Wide Issues

Oxford Street

We have called on Transport for London (TfL) to respond to the concerns of residents living north and south of Oxford Street about the pedestrianisation proposals on a point by point basis. In particular, concerns about the displacement of buses and taxis on to side roads must be answered.

We want TfL and Westminster Council to discuss the proposals in detail with residents so that concerns about increased traffic and pollution are addressed. We also want TfL and Westminster Council to show how local residents will benefit through wider pavements, traffic-free street sand a better walking environment.

West End residents, as well as shoppers, visitors and people working in the area, must see benefits from this major project.

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.”

Faulty Pavements

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

Tall Buildings

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

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

My Westminster Day – Sunday 18th June

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

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

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

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

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

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – MAY 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Berwick Street Market

We are continuing to support market traders in their campaign to save Berwick Street market and were delighted to hear about their recent initiative to bring a small electric delivery vehicle to Soho for testing. Traders say:

“If its as good as we think, its the kind of thing that could be transformative in terms of pollution, noise and congestion, in and around Soho. Subject to the test, Soho Dairy will lease one for Berwick Street Market to help improve and share delivery services between traders, we believe it could be transformative for traders too and start to move the market forward. 

We will build a website around it and use it to re-engage Soho with Berwick Street Market and Berwick Street Market with Soho. But also be looking to trade product and produce through Knightsbridge, Pimlico, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury etc which are all currently not commercially viable on foot and often too resident sensitive for truck delivery, particularly early hours. We will also invite potential sponsors down to take a look as I’m sure both residents and bigger customers would like the benefit of silent, clean, sustainable, delivery – we’re thinking about Firmdale, Shaftesbury and Caprice Group etc.”

Wardour Street

We have again asked the Noise Team to take action against the owners of BananaTree in Wardour Street to replace their faulty burglar alarm after residents told us the following:

“You may recall that we had a problem with BananaTree, 101 Wardour Street and its alarm. It has sounded for the 20 minutes.  If the past is any guide, it might well go off again in a couple of hours. The same alarm sounded around 03.30 Sunday morning, and previously twice on Friday, 14th – around 01.30 and 05.00 – and some days early mornings before then. Could you please try to persuade BananaTree that they need to reset the alarm or replace it or repair it as either they are forever being burgled (which is unlikely) or the setting is too sensitive or it is simply faulty. Night after night being disturbed by a pointless alarm is not exactly helpful.”

We have also asked the Noise Team to investigate this issue: 

“A return of a beat amplifier problem at a new club, on the Meard Street/Wardour Street corner under Wahaca. We don’t know who technically runs the bar – whether Wahaca or some other owner – but it seems now to be calling itself Azulito Bar. The loud beat rumbles through these residences – both in Royalty Mansions and opposite.”

Tisbury Court

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live on Tisbury Court, and make an almost daily call to the police to report the out of control drug selling and using on my street and Rupert St. The police tell me they are in the midst of a four-week crackdown, and they do appear more often and make some arrests. But the dealers are back within hours, if not less, and the problem seems impossible‎ to solve with just the police appearing a couple of times a day (at best).

Tisbury Court needs improved lighting and most of all CCTV monitoring, to have a record of the dealing and using that can be used by the police, who tell me they are unable to do anything without a record of hard evidence, as I would expect. I understand the cameras have been turned off in Westminster, but surely there has to be a case to restore them in areas where drugs are so out control? Any resident of Soho feels he or she has been abandoned by the council, which seems to be making virtually no effort to work with the police on finding a longer term solution. 

The Daily using and dealing residents have to deal with has gone on way too long, and there appears to be no end in sight, or any long term solution in the works.”

Archer Street 

We have urged the Council and police to take strong action against the drug users in the area. Residents say:

“This has been persistent and ongoing throughout the Easter break. With constant foul and threatening behaviour every day! Defecating, urinating on my doorstep once they’ve taken the illegal substances. Loitering and meeting and exchanges of money and drug use taking place along Archer street. Needles found on the pavements on Archer Street and nearby to our local school, Soho Parish. This is extremely upsetting for me to have to witness such despicable and desperate scene of drug use, let alone let our kids be subjected to the abuse that ensues EVERY single day throughout the day in the past year alone. This is non stop, and is becoming more squalid and intimidating with every drug encounter on Archer Street, Rupert Street and Tisbury Court, Brewer street, Windmill Street and Bridle Lane.”

St James’ Residence, Brewer Street

We have asked Soho Housing to investigate this issue:

“Sex workers operate outside the entrance to St James’ Residence, on 23 Brewer Street, managed by Soho Housing. They can be hostile and aggressive towards residents. One way of tackling this would be to make sure Soho Housing install CCTV cameras in the entrance. It would also make residents feel more safe.” 

Broadwick Street

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue: 

“During the redevelopment works of the office building on the corner of Poland and Broadwick Street, the Broadwick Street pump commemorating John Snow’s cholera discovery was removed. We were promised that it would be returned once ‘improvements’ to the pavement area were made. These have now been completed for some time, and there is no sign of the pump, which is a monument that is very important to local residents, and is of great interest to many visitors, as it marks one of the great breakthroughs in scientific & medical history, which proudly occurred in our area.

There seems to be no provision for the pump in the new public realm layout, and us residents are very worried. I have tried on four separate occasions to extract information from Westminster Council, to no avail, they seem totally uninterested, despite my lodging of an FOI request. We would be most grateful if you could investigate this issue for us, as we are deeply saddened that the street has gained outdoor seating for a snazzy hyper expensive Ivy restaurant that no one here wanted, and has lost a monument that was very much loved.”

Ingestre Court

We have asked the Cycling Team to give us the background on this issue: 

“As I understand it the council plan to build a number of bike parking spaces at Ingestre Court in front of the offices. In the year and a half I have lived here there are only 4 people who regularly park their bikes here. So there are always lots of empty bike racks as it is.  Why waste money making new ones when there is no demand for them? And over the last year, I have experienced that whenever there are objects behind which, or within which, people can conceal things around this building, Crystal Meth drug addicts use this as a place to take their drugs and/or to hide them. Could you find out what consultations took place that identified the ‘need’ for these bike parks here? And what the cost is of installing them? And what measures the council will take to discourage Crystal meth drug users from gathering by these new bike racks?”

7 Dufours Place

We are continuing to assist residents at 7 Dufours Place who have been experiencing problems with their heating for many years, particularly in the summer months.

Anti Social Behavior

There is a Soho ASB Walk-In surgery which takes place on the first Tuesday of each month in St. Anne’s Church, Dean Street between the hours of 6:00-7:30 pm. All residents, businesses and members of the community are welcome to attend.

Soho Neighbourhood Plan

Have your say on the future of Soho! The Soho Neighbourhood Forum has now established a number of key aspirations for the Plan. The ‘priority areas’ were determined through a public consultation, the 2016 ‘Soho Survey’, in which over 990 responses were gathered.  The highest priority identified overall was to protect and promote Soho’s culture and heritage, with issues including protecting Soho’s creative industries, improving Soho’s air quality, developing social housing and ensuring developments reflect Soho’s scale and style of building receiving strong support.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AspirationsForSoho

FITZROVIA 

Goodge Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the noise and anti-social behavior at the London Cocktail Club, 81 Goodge Street after receiving this message: 

“As a resident on Goodge Street the drunken noise from customers on Friday night we have long been aware of, but last night topped it all. The vibration and noise from the music in the bar till nearly 12;30 is not acceptable. Also the amount of noise from customers smoking outside the premises is disgusting and also blocks the pavement. But the final straw last night was when a drunken customer collapsed on the street in front of Nando’s where an ambulance was called. I have already spoken to my neighbours about this and we will be asking the council to review the licence if this continues.” 

Hanway Street

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue:

“One of my favourite bars in London – Bradley’s or, ‘the Spanish bar’ as it is affectionately known, is under threat of closure. Do you know it? It is grungy, tiny, in a great location (Hanway Street) and famous for its jukebox. I think there will be a protest of some kind but would be grateful for any tips from you.”

MAYFAIR

Charles Street 

According to the press:

“Mayfair resident Stelio Stefanou objected to plans for a three-storey excavation to include a kitchen, cinema, gym, and two-storey swimming pool beneath a listed building in Charles Street. Planners at Westminster City Council gave the go-ahead for the work in August last year, but Mr Justice Gilbart yesterday overturned the decision, saying officials had not taken sufficient account of their own policy on super-basements. They say that the planners should take into consideration the whole scheme, not just the additional work to be undertaken since 2011.” 

Hanover Square

We share residents’ concerns about the loss of some or all of the eight 200-year-old plane trees in Hanover Square as part of the re-design of the Square. 

The Future for Mayfair

Issues raised at the extraordinary April meeting of the Mayfair Residents Group included the following: 

  • Clive Jones from Bourdon Street, a Grade 2 listed terrace with a mixed community, spoke about the residents’ successful campaign to prevent a restaurant from opening in their street. He then went on to talk about the current campaign to oppose Grosvenor’s application to turn Bourdon Street garages into shops.
  • Francesca Fanizzi, landlady of the Iron Duke pub, said In the last year she has seen many customers leave for places like Holborn and Canary Wharf as locally the landlords are charging “Crossrail” prices. In addition, a number of local pubs have closed which means the neighbourhood has lost community meeting places.
  • Peter Thompson from Conduit Street spoke of the destruction of Hanover Square’s historic buildings due to the advent of Crossrail. He believes that historic Mayfair is being destroyed building by building.
  • Deborah Javor said that Mount Street, now a high-end retail street, has little footfall. She was also concerned about Grosvenor taking over Grosvenor Square from the Royal Parks and cutting down the hedges.  She was worried that dog walkers, a long-time sight in the Square, would not be welcome if the Square was changed.

Mayfair Library – Disabled Access  

We have asked the Council about disabled access to the toilets in Mayfair Library following an enquiry from a resident who says “it has an appointed disabled toilet.. up a huge flight of stairs that no disabled person can get to”.

We also asked The Grosvenor Estate about their policy and they replied:

“We, as with other developers, landlords and business occupiers are required to conform to the Disability Discrimination Act. “

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Tall Buildings

A West End Labour survey has found that residents overwhelmingly oppose plans to build more tall buildings in Westminster. More than 80% of respondents believe that Westminster Council is wrong to want to develop more skyscrapers and tall buildings. Residents cited the following concerns:

  • Tall buildings and skyscrapers pose a threat to Westminster’s unique character. Tall buildings block out light; block out historic views and would be at odds with the character of Westminster’s historic neighbourhoods
  • Tall buildings won’t tackle London’s housing crisis. They are likely to be unaffordable and used as ‘deposit boxes’ by wealthy oligarchs
  • The Council does not listen to residents and its consultations are by and large meaningless. Many pointed to a feeling that the planning system is dysfunctional, as it only meets commercial not resident needs

Residents said:

  • “We want well-thought-through plans for affordable not luxury housing, that meets local needs and fits in with the existing character of neighbourhoods.”
  • “The character of Westminster is unique. It will be ruined by a lot of skyscrapers
  • “Westminster Council have a history of not taking account of concerns raised by residents.”
  • “I have never been consulted by Westminster.”

We are now calling for the Council to change the consultation questions. Rather than ask residents whether they want tall buildings, we are calling on the Council to begin with these questions: “What vision do you have for Westminster’s future? How should planning policy match that vision?” 

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

Estate Office closure – what you say

“I may be very suspicious, but these Estate Office closures, on such a massive scale, appear to me to be too drastic to have been thought up by CityWest Homes all on their own – I suspect that dear cuddly old Westminster City Council, who love social housing so much (sardonic laughter), want more cuts to add to all those in other, once-essential parts of their budget, and are asking CityWest to slash everything to the bone.  And guess who suffers – the residents.”

What you say

“Well done on the effort put into the Berwick Street market. Thanks for all the updates,”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – April 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley, Caroline Saville and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Berwick Street Market

We have welcomed Westminster City Council’s U-turn on plans to privatise Berwick Street Market following a year-long campaign from market traders who organised a 37,000-signatrure petition against the privatisation proposals.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said:

“For the past 12 months, Berwick Street Traders’ lives have been made a misery by an incompetent and malicious Council that has put political dogma before common sense. Privatising the market never made any sense and Labour Councillors and the West End Labour Action Team have been proud to have stood side by side with market traders and local residents in fighting this madness. The campaign continues. We now want to know what new resources will be brought in to the Council to manage Berwick Street Market properly and what new investment will be put in to the market so that it has the necessary facilities to make it a success once again.”

Patrick Lilley of West End Labour said: “These pointless plans to privatise the market have led to enormous stress and anxiety for market traders and their families. On top of that, it’s all been a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. Indeed, that’s why the West End Labour team is demanding that the Council tell us how much money they’ve spent on this whole process – all of this wasted money could have been spent on other things like easing cuts to youth centres.”

Pancho Lewis also of West End Labour added “We welcome the Council’s decision to backtrack on these privatisation plans. 300-year old Berwick Street market is a historic community asset which brings the whole community together. Frankly though, it’s come far too late and all of this could have been avoided if they’d listened to the community in the first place.”

We are also continuing to press the Council to ensure that the building site at 90-104 Berwick Street is safe and that it is covered with protective sheeting to ensure that debris does not fall on to traders, shoppers and residents.

Wardour Street – alarms

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“It is 4.00am Sunday.  The alarm at Banana Tree (103 Wardour St) has been screeching out, on and off, since around 2.30am. Just so that it is reported, I did ring the noise team. The front door of Banana Tree is open, but inner doors are locked and no sign of life. Once again, there are no telephone numbers by the ADT alarm, no means of contacting anyone – to get the alarm turned off. I was under the impression that premises with alarms should provide contact details of key holders.  After all, would that not be sensible for the owners, even if they couldn’t care less about local people being disturbed?” 

The Council has told us the following: 

“One of our Noise officers (and subsequently a City Inspector) visited the premises following this complaint. Any failings with regards to key holder information has now been addressed. Sadly this incident wasn’t merely a false alarm. The front door had been broken into and two burglars were inside the premises at the time of these calls. The burglars were inside for over an hour trying to break into the cash register. They eventually succeeded but only managed to get away with £57. The incident was covered by CCTV and the police were later called and are investigating. So far I am not aware of any arrests.”

Meard Street

We have raised this issue with the Council following enquiries by residents:

“WCC gave permission for London Alley to take over Meard Street this Sunday evening, with excessively loud beat music, to do some filming for a promo ‘No frauds’. In view of this, would it not have been appropriate and courteous to have asked residents of Meard Street to give permission (probably a majority would happily have agreed); informed us how much London Alley is paying WCC for this event and maybe requested that London Alley donate to some charities for the homeless in Soho? 

Dean Street

We have reported the huge puddle in Dean Street outside Sunset Strip and Two Chairman:

It’s been there historically for years and today is no different.  I’ve just arrived home where I had to strip down having been drenched by a black taxi zooming through the puddle (at times a virtual pond!!) drenching several pedestrians, myself included!”

Richmond Mews 

We are continuing to liaise with the Council and residents to ensure the cleanliness of Richmond Mews and to take action against rubbish dumping. 

Anti-social behavior/drug abuse

We received this message:

“I saw the 5 point plan on tackling drug abuse and associated anti social behaviour online. Has much progress been made on this? I live in Rupert Street, overlooking Tisbury Court and I can say there continues to be signs of on going antisocial behaviour and drug use.”

We replied as follows:

“Since the community meeting was held in September, there has been some progress. The police have increased efforts to police the area, and notices have been served to individuals that have a history of repeat offending. Another Safer Soho panel meeting is being held this month. Whenever you do see activity, it is certainly worth raising this with local police when you do see instances of this kind of activity. The more police hear about it, the more likely they are to prioritise those areas. Do let us know though if you have problems getting through to police and we will see what we can do to make sure the issue is looked at.” 

Phone boxes 

We are campaigning against the proposal by a private company to install unnecessary additional phone boxes in the West End. Patrick Lilley of the West End Labour team said: “It’s a bizarre proposal. In this day and age, when more and more people use mobile phones, there needs to be a clear explanation as to why these new phone boxes are needed and who they expect will use them.”

Pancho Lewis also of West End Labour said: “This points to a broader issue about the total lack of maintenance of existing phone boxes. Many are being used by drug users as shelter to consume dangerous drugs and some people even defecate in them. The West End Labour Action Team has been pressing BT and the Council to tackle this problem. This needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.”

FITZROVIA

Cleveland Street

We are working with our colleagues in Camden to save the Nightingale Wards in the buildings on Cleveland Street after receiving this message from the Dickens Society:

I need your help to protect two fine Nightingale wards at the back of the old workhouse in Cleveland Street The site is utterly imbued with history, and consecrated and buried deep with Londoners, but the developers want to gut the Workhouse for posh flats and demolish everything else behind it to build something ghastly twice the height of the workhouse, which will dwarf it. We managed to get the 18th century Workhouse listed because I discovered Dickens had twice lived a few doors down (corner of Tottenham St) before he wrote Oliver Twist and I also found bloke called Bill Sykes had run a tallow-chandlers shop right opposite the workhouse while Dickens was writing the novel! Lots of stuff re Dickens in the street. Now has a blue plaque. But now they’ve come back with a destructively clever plan, and we have to gird our loins again for the rest of the site.

Eastcastle Street

We are pleased that the Council has agreed to locate three bicycle stands outside the coffee shop at 15 Eastcastle Street.

We can also report that the broken lamp post has now been replaced and is now working again.

Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Plan

The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum — known as FitzWest — is seeking comments before producing a final plan which will have to undergo public examination before being voted on by residents and business owners in the area.

“We have worked very hard to get together a coherent document, that addresses the issues discussed in our consultation meetings and the exhibition we held last year,” says Wendy Shillam, chair of FitzWest. “We have tried to reflect diverse and sometimes contradictory views, balancing different visions where necessary. Now it is time for the community, our residents, those who visit, run businesses and work in the area to tell us whether we have the correct balance,” she said.

The neighbourhood plan will help to shape land development in the area and also influence environmental improvements. It will become part of a collection of policy documents used by Westminster Council to decide on future planning applications. “At the back of our minds, as we wrote policies was the prospect of increased access to our area from Crossrail 1 and 2 and HS2, all of which will bring further pressure of development to our area. This wealth of excellent public transport can be seen as a blessing, but also a challenge,” she said.

http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/draft-plan/

MAYFAIR

Curzon Mayfair

We have welcomed the news that the Curzon Mayfair has been saved and that it is no longer threatened with closure. It was recently announced that developers Vevil International had dropped an action of forfeiture against the much-loved cinema and come to an agreement to safeguard the future of the cinema. It means that the local community and cinema goers across the country can continue to enjoy the diverse range of films the cinema is known for screening.

This marks a victorious end to a campaign to protect the cinema which received massive public support. Over 27,000 people backed a West End Labour Action Team petition which called on the authorities to step in and protect the Curzon Mayfair. During the campaign, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also weighed in saying he would seek to strengthen rules which protect existing cultural venues like the Curzon Mayfair from the possibility of closure.

Public support and the Mayor’s response led the developers to reconsider their approach and adopt a more conciliatory approach, and last week the developers and cinema staff released the following joined statement:

“Over the past few months Curzon Cinemas and Vevil International have been working together to ensure the continued success of the Curzon Mayfair and peaceful coexistence with local residents. Both are delighted to have resolved the issues and look forward to a fruitful working relationship. They would like to thank all those who took an active interest.”

West End Labour activist Pancho Lewis, who started the petition, said:

“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who got behind the campaign to save the cinema. This represents an historic victory for the community who have sent a message which is loud and clear: the West End’s cultural heritage must be protected. But the campaign to safeguard the West End’s cultural heritage doesn’t end here. We need to continue fighting to preserve our cultural venues and area’s heritage. Over the coming months, the West End Labour team will be hosting events and screenings to look at how a sustainable future can be built for the West End’s cultural heritage.”

Responding to the news, petition backers wrote to the West End Labour Action Team with the following comments:

“Thank you so much for the wonderful news today! Keep up the good work. You are a hero”

“Congratulations, Pancho! That’s amazing news and really brightened up my day”

“That’s great news about The Curzon Mayfair. Well done. We need to make sure the Curzon Soho has a similar successful outcome…”

Shepherd Market

Residents in Shepherd Market have sent us this message: 

“I wish you could help in preserving Shepherd Market – not a market any longer but a special little area that is in danger of being turned into an artificial Burlington Arcade that none of the residents want and that exorbitant rents have driven out the community shops and restaurants.” 

“New landlords bought most of the properties and put the rents up so hugely that the majority of the little shops have had to go.  New ones with expensive luggage or watches move in and then close after a few months.  There is not the footfall of big spenders in the market.  Westminster should be protecting local residents and traders when agreeing to these huge developments. Thanks for all your efforts and please keep up the good work”

Please let us know if you share these concerns. 

Hanover Flats

We have written to Peabody to ask that action is taken on the following issues affecting residents in Hanover Flats:

  • Gates on the corner of Gilbert Street and Weighhouse Street are left open allowing men to urinate and stash stolen goods down the stairwell.
  • We are blighted by our courtyards being used as toilets and stash areas for thieves, rough sleepers. Most gates are locked in this area, All other Grosvenor Estate buildings have locked gates. Intruders have been on the scaffolding, coming in by the unlocked gates.

Bourdon Street

We were very disappointed to hear that Grosvenor has won its appeal for the conversion of garages into retail shops in Bourdon Street. This in spite of the fact that the original application was unanimously turned down by the Council’s Planning Committee, and opposed by all the local residents. Residents say:

“This bizarre decision by the Planning Inspector not only calls into question the whole legitimacy of the Planning Appeals process but more significantly, may well set a precedent for future planning developments in quiet residential streets in other parts of Mayfair.” 

Hanover Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The red phone box in Hanover Square is full of litter, food and drug paraphernalia”.

Gilbert Street

We have reported this to the Council:

“Constant rubbish is riffled through on Gilbert Street and St Anslem’s Place. Everyday rubbish from the big bin is taken out and left all around the road and pavement.  There is a rodent problem as a result.” 

The Council say:

“We have now established that the waste bin on Gilbert Street has almost certainly been ‘abandoned’ from a block of flats in St Anselm’s Place that has now been boarded up. I have arranged for the bin to be removed immediately. The local City Inspector will also continue to monitor this area and take enforcement action as appropriate against any residents or businesses found to be dumping waste on our streets.” 

Binney Street

We have also asked the Council to take action to clear dumped rubbish from Binney Street.

WEST END WISE ISSUES

Westminster: A city of skyscrapers?

Westminster Council has announced proposals to increase the number of tall buildings all over Westminster, including Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair. We 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

Pavement cycling

We are continuing to press the Council to take action on this issue:

“How about tackling cyclists and motorbikes that try to mow pedestrians down on pavements?  Tourist bikes and Deliveroos are the main offenders.  WCC – or whoever licenses/profits from the bike hire scheme – needs to take some responsibility for how these bikes are used.”

Leaseholders

We received this enquiry:

“There is nothing in the action plan to address the needs of lease owners who are at the mercy of the free-hold landlords (i.e. landlords who own the freehold of a block of flats. The existing freehold landlords make sure it is impossible to buy into the freehold. The freehold landlords spend money on the block of flats with little or no consultation with the lease-holding owners and in effect, this is like having a rent imposed on us with no limits. This makes it very expensive even though we actually own our own flats and we have no recourse to complain or to have our voice heard.”

We replied as follows:

“Have you ever contacted LEASE http://www.lease-advice.org. They offer free advice on the law affecting residential leasehold property in England and Wales. We know that others have contacted them and found them 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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho, Patrick and Caroline at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

Saville.caroline@gmail.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – March 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Save Soho

We are continuing to support the recent petition, ‘Don’t Railroad Soho: Save Soho from the Crossrail 2 Scheme’: 

“This distinct local historic area – Soho – will become but a vast transport interchange, if this goes ahead – and yet another manifestation of corporate and government obsession with economic efficiency/money making, squeezing out other values. “Price of everything; value of nothing” quip applies.”

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182649

Dufours Place and Ingestre Court

We are continuing to press City West Homes to sort out the long-standing problems with the lifts so that elderly and infirm residents are not further inconvenienced by out-of-order lifts.

Wardour Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Please could you find out why this vehicle was parked in Wardour Street for at least 2-3 hours with it’s engine/cooler power running full blast with nobody in attendance.  The noise could be heard in Dean Street.  It was deafening. There was another vehicle from the same company parked nearby – again with its engines/power running and again with nobody in attendance. We telephoned the main office in Bicester but no reply.  We then tried another number but they didn’t appear to know how the transport schedule was organised to find out who was responsible for this vehicle. Are vehicles allowed to parked with the power/engines on full blast for such a long time?”

Chinese Library at Charing Cross Road

Despite the strong community campaign, 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 become clear that the cuts include the post of Chinese Services Coordinator who manages the work of the 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 ethnic minority communities

This short-sighted decision has caused deep anger in Westminster’s 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. 

FITZROVIA 

Charlotte Place

We have asked the Council to repair the broken street light outside Da Paulo Restaurant in Charlotte Place after receiving this message:

“As we border Camden here in Charlotte Place W1, and we had two street lights out, which was making it very dark here, with one in either borough. I filled in both councils’ online forms regarding a street light not working, both advised me that it would be done in three days. Camden successfully achieved this.  Unfortunately, Westminster didn’t and after four working days I got an email saying it would be done in “three working days” which I’m sorry I didn’t keep. Now we are into our third week and the street light is still not working. Perhaps if you report this to the relevant department it might get fixed, and please ask why my report was not acted upon.”

Eastcastle Street 

We have asked the Council to investigate locating bike racks outside Kaffeine coffee shop at 15 Eastcastle Street at the request of the coffee shop owner.

Also, the Council has given planning permission for the Installation of a Cycle Hire docking station, containing a maximum of 25 docking points adjacent to 46 – 49 Eastcastle Street.

Great Castle Street

We have asked the Council to fix a broken lamp post and clear rubbish dumped in Great Castle Street.

Cleveland Street

Proposals by a hospital charity to redevelop the site of the former Strand Union Workhouse on Cleveland Street have been met with over 150 letters of objection sent to Camden Council which is due to make a decision on the plans later this year. https://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/2017/03/03/workhouse-plans-fail-to-deliver-on-housing-heritage-and-open-space/

Wimpole Street 

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“There are at least four regular daily beggars in Wimpole Street. Their signs say they are mute and starving but they can be heard talking normally when off guard and regularly drop their food and drink packaging into our basement areas. What can be done to remove them?” 

The Council say:

“In order to address the begging activities in Wimpole Street, I have set up a series of begging operations with assistance of Local City Inspector. The operations will initially run throughout March, and when applicable enforcement action will be taken against individuals in from of Community Protection Notices under ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. I will update you with the outcome of the operation at the begging of April 2017.”

MAYFAIR

Curzon Mayfair 

Following an outcry of protest from the local community and a petition led by the West End Labour Action Team, the much-loved cinema Curzon Mayfair has moved closer to staving off the threat of closure. This week developers Vevil International and 38 Curzon Ltd presented proposals to Westminster Council seeking permission to install additional sound proofing to prevent noise from reaching recently refurbished luxury flats above the cinema.

This represents a radical departure from the approach taken by the developers last year, when they brought an action of forfeiture against the cinema. If the action had been successful, the cinema would have had to leave the premises. It appears however that this approach has been dropped in favour of compromise. The U-turn follows pressure from the local community and the West End Labour Action Team who set up a petition, backed by more than 27,000 people, to save the cinema. Launched by Pancho Lewis, the petition backed the Curzon cinema’s management team who had argued that the cinema is a unique community asset that had to be saved. Cinema-goers across the country also rallied behind the campaign to protect the historic venue.

Grosvenor Estate 

The Grosvenor Estate has published a vision to transform its London estate, including Mayfair. It can be found http://vision.grosvenorlondon.com/Documents/Vision. Included in the proposals are two plans to improve this part of the West End.

Broadband – Over the next year Grosvenor will invest in upgrades in broadband, wi-fi and mobile connections, in partnership with Openreach, Ventura Next, WiFi SPARK and the planning authorities. Residents, visitors and businesses will benefit from new superfast and ultrafast broadband connections, in many places where none exists now, across almost three quarters of the estate this year; a free, public Wi-Fi service to be piloted this year with the potential to cover half a square mile in the next 3 years; and new 4G mobile connections to deliver a step change improvement in coverage.

Grosvenor Square – Grosvenor will be given back responsibility for managing Grosvenor Square from Royal Parks.

Balfour Mews/Aldford Street/South Street

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

“We have had continuous development including basement/pool renovations of properties on the corner of Balfour Mews and Aldford Street for over three years. This includes the boarding extending into the street with large delivery trucks parked outside our house, regular road blockage and continuous noise.  In addition, the tarmac footpath outside houses in Balfour Mews and the offices at 21 South Street has been repeatedly dug up for access to services and is now an eyesore with uneven surfaces, sections and colours.  All other footpaths in the area are regular slab paving. How can I persuade the Council to lay paving so as to remove this hazard and create a regular surface in keeping with all neighbouring streets?” 

Charles Street

We are continuing to press BT to improve the super fast broadband service in the area:

“I live in Charles Street and have been asking BT for faster internet service for years, and as was noted in your report, the promises have gone from imminent service to not even planned. Incredible that this is the level of service provided to central London.”

Muggings

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

“I have noticed in the last year a great increase in the number of men and women, professional beggars, who are coming into Mayfair at night to threaten and accost diners as they leave restaurants, and residents as they walk to their homes or on leaving the local Tesco. The aggression level is rising and the tactics used include closely following behind you as you walk home at night, sometimes not just one but two men, which is disturbing as it reveals where you live. I am certain the police know who these individuals are, as they are a definite group, who stay in this area, and who seem to believe that it is safe for them to do so.” 

Local Policing

Is Mayfair set to get its own private police force? see

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-richest-neighbourhoods-private-police-force-knightsbridge-mayfair-belgravia-metropolitan-a7615711.html

What do you think of this?

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Private Renters

We have launched a 5-point plan for private renters. The plan brings forward proposals to tackle the fact that private tenants are paying more and more in rent and yet many have to put up with poor living conditions like damp. At a time when the prospect of home ownership remains a distant prospect for many, we are calling on Westminster Council to stand up for ‘Generation Rent’ and make sure tenants get a fair deal.

  1. Support the Mayor’s London living rent policy.

Rent levels would be set at one-third of average local incomes. This will help households typically earning between £35,000 and £45,000, who are currently renting privately. Westminster Council should lead the way in embracing the London Living Rent.

  1. Set up a not-for-profit lettings agency for good landlords.

This would give renters confidence, helping do away with the high fees tenants can be charged as well as promoting longer-term tenancies and stabilising rents.

  1. Celebrate landlords who do a good job, and name and shame those who don’t.

We will name and shame rogue landlords whilst celebrating landlords that punch above their weight in providing tenants with a high quality service.

  1. Protect renters from revenge evictions.

Tenants are often evicted for requesting repairs to badly maintained properties. A new law brought forward in 2015 to help prevent revenge evictions has failed. New rules are needed so that when landlords fail to carry out repairs within a reasonable time frame, tenants can carry out repairs and have the costs deducted from rent.

  1. Encourage more build-to-rent developments.

This will mean young professionals and middle income families can afford to live in Westminster.

To feedback your views please complete this form here.

Diesel cars – what you say

“While welcoming the D charge and reduction in certain pollutants in Oxford Street there is much more the City Council could do to reduce the number of diesel delivery vehicles and many different dustcarts collecting daily and nightly from commercial premises in the West End. There is also the growing number of Uber vehicles. Why is it taxi drivers have to acquire zero emission vehicles in 2018 whereas Uber drivers don’t? I also support the London Mayor’s proposal for a national scrappage scheme for diesels.”

What you say

“Many thanks for the excellent newsletter which as usual is very informative.”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – February 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Berwick Street Market 

We are continuing to support Berwick Street Market traders who have suffered a further blow having lost their parking places due to the redevelopment scheme alongside Kemp House. Berwick Street traders have for many years parked their vans, which are essential to bring fruit, vegetables and other goods to the market, in the area around Kemp House and Ingestre Court. But now these parking places have been lost as they are needed for the redevelopment site works and Westminster Council has not provided any replacement parking spaces for traders. This is despite the £12 million extra parking revenue generated by the Council this year through charges and fines.

Richmond Mews

We have asked the Council and the police to take action against the drug-related activity in Richmond Mews after receiving reports and pictures from residents.

Beak Street

We have reported defective street lights at the corners of Marshall Street and Lexington Street.

Also, we were pleased that a retrospective application at 67-69 Beak Street was refused by the Planning Committee for the erection of raised deck enclosed by timber balustrade to third floor flat roof for use as roof terrace in association with the use of the building as an office.

Save Soho petition 

Save Soho has started a new petition – “Don’t Railroad Soho: Save Soho from the CrossRail 2 Scheme”.

You can sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/182649

Stephen Fry, Chairman of Save Soho, says:

“The future of Soho could change dramatically this coming June when we anticipate the transport minister announcing the approval of CrossRail 2. It will allow the demolition of two blocks for a new train station that will bring double the footfall of Kings Cross Underground into and around Soho. That’s 270,000 people every three hour peak right on the corner of Frith Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. We do not oppose CrossRail 2. However, we oppose any decision to include Soho in the scheme. I have supported the Save Soho movement since it began and have assisted Tim Arnold and the Save Soho group whenever possible. Please join us by signing this petition for yours and our Soho.” 

Dufours Place 

We are continuing to help residents with problems with the lifts and other issues: 

“Here in Dufours Place, we are going through a major lift improvement programme, having suffered constant lift breakdowns and problems throughout much of 2016.  Although we were all advised this would happen, and posters cover the lift (one of two) currently being worked on, there was no prior warning that the work would mean none of the lift call buttons in a fifteen storey block would cease to light up, so that the impression is given the other lift isn’t working either.  There is no warning posted in our foyer about this, so that callers don’t know.  Plus, whilst we have a security camera which shows the interior of the lifts in the foyer, in case someone gets trapped, that is not working.  I have emailed CWH about this, as over the past weekend a poor television engineer attempted to climb the eleven storeys to reach me, carrying a television, because as the call button in the foyer didn’t light up, and the one remaining lift was stationary, he thought there was no functioning lift!  He nearly had a heart attack.  If our Office were in its old position I could have brought this up instantly, but now I’ll have to wait and hope that someone will take notice of my email.”

City West Homes say:

“Planned works are currently taking place to both the lifts that serve this building in order to improve reliability and ride quality for passengers. The controls for both of the lifts are linked together, and as work is carried out to one lift, taking it out of service temporarily, this has also affected the lift indicator lights and also the CCTV screen we have in the entrance lobby that shows the interior of the lifts. Our lift contract manager will be visiting Dufours Place with our lift contractors and will investigate if there is a temporary measure that can be taken to restore the lift indicator lights and CCTV screen while these works are taking place. IN the mean time I will ask the estate team to arrange for the appropriate signage to be placed in the lift lobby to ensure residents and visitors are aware which lift is currently working.”

Ingestre Court offices

We are making enquiries about this issue:

The council are planning to offer a lease on the building. We would like to offer, small business support for creative industries and have a good set of investors who are interested in the social and cultural aspects of protecting and promoting Soho’s ecosystem against the tide of Starbucks etc. “

Report from Klaudija Green, Neighbourhood Problem Solving Coordinator for Soho, West End and Chinatown, Strand and Whitehall

  • Duck Lane – The lighting team has been working hard to replace the missing light due to complex technical issues involved and this has now been resolved.
  • Tents in Soho – We received a number of complaints regards tents in Bateman Buildings and associated anti-social behaviour. We served notices to tent owners asking them to remove tents from the public highway. This request was not adhered to and a month later City Inspectors returned and with Metropolitan Police assistance tents were seized and the area thoroughly cleansed and flushed. Further notices were served on the two tents in Soho Square, one near the junction with Greek Street and the other in the corner at the top end with Soho Street. I continue to work with Westminster outreach services to ensure that any tent owners who are rough sleepers are offered adequate support.
  • Drug dealing – Soho Police arrested a prolific drug dealer for the breach of Criminal Behaviour Order. He has been given CBO for his ASB/Criminal activities in Bourchier Street in September 2016 and he breached conditions of this order in December 2016 and was due to appear in court.

FITZROVIA

Foley Street

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

For the last 2 weeks a crane has been parked in Foley Street, completely blocking the street. I normally park my car in Little Titchfield Street/Great Titchfield Street and I often need to head east towards Tottenham Court Road, via Foley Street – this journey normally takes about 2 – 3 minutes. There is no acceptable diversion posted so I have to go up to New Cavendish Street, turn left, then left again onto Great Portland Street. Turn left again on Mortimer Street and continue all the the way to Tottenham Court Road. This is a heavily congested route and can easily take 15 minutes.”

Rathbone Place 

We have reported damage caused by a lorry in Rathbone Place – One lamppost and three bollards damaged and damage to the tree at the end of Charlotte Place.
We have urged the Council to take action against the driver and the company responsible for all this damage.

Diesel Cars

Diesel car drivers will be charged a £2.45-an-hour “D-charge” to park in parts of Fitzrovia from 3rd April as part of a trial to combat toxic air. Also, 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).

MAYFAIR

Adam’s Row

We have urged the Council to take up this example of poor performance b y BT Openreach:

“Living in Adam’s Row, we have been asking BT for access to super fast broadband, and we have been promised that it was “imminent” since 2012. Over the last 5 years the forecasts have gradually been downgraded from “imminent” to “planned”, to something even less conclusive. We do not understand how the very heart of one of the most vibrant cities in the world can be so far behind on the roll out of such a crucial service.  

When speaking to BT they are quick to shift the blame to other parties. Virgin has not replied to our requests for feedback. When we were asked if we were willing to pay extra for the faster service, we responded with a resolute yes, but that has made no difference. Can we establish where the responsibility lies for the delay? What can we do to hold them to account?”

Hays Mews

We have asked the police and the Council to increase patrols in the Hays Mews area after receiving this disturbing information:

“We need far better policing in the evening when the level of street begging is excessive. The streets are unsafe, case in point being I was recently mugged in my own street, namely Hays Mews and and notwithstanding the theft of an expensive watch, was physically injured resulting in permanent handicap. No arrests were made.” 

Weighhouse Street/Duke Street phone box

Following our enquiries about the poor state of the phone box the Grosvenor Estate has told us:

“London Wildlife Trust kindly agreed to adopt the kiosk on behalf of Grosvenor last year. The reason for this is that we are planning to remove this kiosk and redevelop the space into a community pocket park which we call a ‘parklet.’ We have already successfully installed two parklets in Belgravia and the proposed parklet for Weighhouse Street will be the first in Mayfair. The phone kiosk is due to be fully removed by early February.” 

Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade has been put up for sale by its owners. The landmark shopping arcade was built in 1819 by Lord George Cavendish, who lived in the neighbouring Burlington House, now the Royal Academy, as a place to sell jewellery and other fashion items. Recently redesigned by British architect Jamie Fobert, the historic space now features stone floors sourced from English quarries, as well as restored original details including the building’s grand upper arches. 

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

Rough Sleeping

Pancho Lewis made enquiries about the best mechanism for reporting rough sleepers and received this response:

“You can report rough sleepers to StreetLink, by either visiting http://www.streetlink.org.uk/tell-us-about-a-rough-sleeper or using the StreetLink app, or by calling 0300 5000914. In terms of commissioned services, there are 3 outreach teams that operate in Westminster, split between 3 different organisations – CSTM, St Mungo’s and The Passage. There are also plenty of non-commissioned services – other day centres, soup runs etc, and a good number of those are part of the Westminster Rough Sleepers Providers Network, overseen by the Abbey Centre in Victoria. You can contact Lloyd Codrington, the coordinator of the network on Lloyd.Codrington@theabbeycentre.org.uk for further information.”

Oxford Street air quality

Oxford Street has seen its toxic air levels drop by a third in just twelve months, a result that has been credited to the switch from diesel to electric buses and reducing deliveries to the street’s hundreds of shops. The Council said: “Levels of particulates in the air remain a problem, posing a major public health issue, so we need to continue to improve practices to reduce emissions from both buildings and road vehicles, as well as encourage people to change behaviour if we are to become a truly healthier, greener more liveable city.”

Broadband

We are making enquiries on behalf of residents:

“We live in W1 and do not have fibre broadband. We had extended correspondence with BT Openreach 18 months ago and were told that we were due to receive it this Spring. Since then there has been silence. Are you in a position to help find out whether the original timescale will be met?”

What you say

“I read your Action Report with great interest and, as always, with enormous gratitude”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – January 2017

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

SOHO 

Berwick Street 

We have asked the Council for an update on the building works after receiving this enquiry: 

“I don’t know how the building work there is going to be done, but a suggestion is whether the Co-Op premises (I believe they are returning to the site on completion) could be re-done first, so that we could at least have our supermarket back.  I suspect it would improve trade in the market as people would use it and then shop for other things.  At the moment we barely have a shop – there is Whole Foods, a small Tesco in both Dean Street and Haymarket and a Sainsbury’s local shop in Tottenham Court Road.  It seems mad to me that we don’t have many shopping (for food) facilities in Soho.”

The Council say “The Co-op are coming back and they should be in by Spring 2018 and by Summer at the latest.”

Kemp House

We have been supporting residents who have had problems with heating and hot water. City West Homes told us: “I am sorry to hear that the heating is down again at Kemp House. I understand that there is an intermittent fault on the boiler. Engineers are on their way and hope to be able to reinstate the heating as soon as possible.”

Soho Housing Office 

Residents continue to express their unhappiness with City West Homes’ decision to close the Soho and Covent Garden Housing office. Writing in the local press, one resident said:

“With the current redevelopment/gentrification of Soho, never has a local estate office been more necessary. In my building, Kemp House, alone over recent months, the devel­opers have flooded the foyer three times, flooded the basement sheds and in so doing have destroyed residents’ property. The back door has been engulfed in fire and the tower has been shaken, rocked, and enveloped in thick dust by the demolition team. 

The abandoned look of the site and lack of security has attracted drug users. This has led to needles, vomit, and human excreta constantly fouling both front and back doors and creating a sense of fear as residents return home, especially at night. 

Since the office closed, Kemp House has operated with only one lift and on some days no lifts at all. This in a 16-storey build­ing home to, among others, the elderly, disabled and young families with prams. The Kemp House heating/hot water system has broken down over a dozen times; four times over one recent weekend alone. We have been forced to report these outages to some remote, anonymous, call centre, by phone, text and email. This has resulted in it taking three weeks for anyone from CWH to visit the building in person and for some positive action to be taken. Is this the “quicker, more efficient service” promised?”

http://www.westendextra.com/letters/2017/jan/letters-citywest-homes’s-motto-‘investing-people’-–-well-soho-they-are-not 

Licensing Applications

We are supporting residents in Beak Street, Marshall Street and Upper John Street residents who are opposing two license applications:

  • Jack Wills, Basement/First Floor 6 Foubert’s Place ref: 16/13472/LIPN “If this goes through, every retail shop in Westminster could become a bar.”
  • The Ivy Soho Brasserie, 26 – 28 Broadwick Street ref: 16/13443/LIPV ‘The License Variation introduces 20 people drinking without food and is totally against Westminster policy”

Broadwick Street/Lexington Street

We have reported a broken bollard at the corner of Broadwick/Lexington Streets and asked the Council to repair it. 

Dufours Place

We are concerned that the Council and City West Homes allow noisy building works at the weekends and public holidays. This is one experience described by a resident and we have advised residents to start a petition calling on the Council and City West Homes to change the regulations so that residents are not disturbed by noisy work at the weekends and public holidays:

“In the late afternoon of New Year’s Eve, I was astonished to hear hammering.  As that day was a Saturday, any work noise should have stopped at midday, and it was all the more unacceptable on New Year’s Eve. On Monday the 2nd, which is a public holiday, I was appalled to hear drilling.  I saw a man collecting a huge roll of something from a van parked outside the building and carrying it in to join me in the foyer.  He was a workman, covered in dust, and got out of the lift on the fifth floor.”

Old Compton Street/Frith Street

We have reported a large pond at the corner of Old Compton and Frith Streets which needs investigating by the Council.

Curzon Soho 

For an update on the latest situation, please see this article:

“There has been a cinema at 99 Shaftesbury Avenue for over 100 years, and since 1998 Curzon Soho has been a hub for artists, filmmakers and every type of creative you could care to imagine. You walk through the front door into the café and there’s Ken Loach having a cup of tea, move downstairs and find actors nestled in the corner of the bar reading through scripts. It is a unique community space. One that is now threatened by Transport for London’s plans to build Crossrail 2 – despite Crossrail 1 still being under construction – which could wipe out as much as half of Soho.”

http://lwlies.com/articles/shadows-and-light-curzons-threatened-legacy/

You can sign the petition to save the Curzon Soho here

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-curzon-soho

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

Soho Create

In a comment piece for Creative Review, SohoCreate’s former CEO Tom Harvey writes on the closure of the event: “SohoCreate was supported by a unique blend of public and private equity investment. The public money was invested by Westminster City Council and matched by the private sector. It relied on sponsorship and ticket sales for its revenues. These grew by 20 per cent a year, not bad, but not good enough. The event was forced into liquidation, partly by Westminster City Council’s fickle approach to management. One minute SohoCreate was flavour of the month, a beneficiary of investment, mentioned in speeches and strategies, the next minute, and with no warning, there were suddenly ‘other priorities’ for the money.”

https://www.creativereview.co.uk/why-did-sohocreate-matter/

FITZROVIA

All Souls School, Foley Street

All Souls Church of England Primary School in Foley Street was ranked in the top 10% of schools in England based on pupils’ progress in reading, writing and maths. At the school, 87 percent of pupils met the expected standard in literacy and numeracy after sitting the key stage 2 test in the summer of 2016. The score is well above the City of Westminster average of 58% and the England average of 53%. The school was ranked second from top place in Westminster in a league table of schools in each London borough produced by the London Evening Standard. All Souls is a multi-cultural school with 196 pupils from a diverse mix of income backgrounds: 67% of them do not use English as a first language (compared with 21% nationally) and 34 percent qualify for free school meals (25% nationally) according to National Statistics for the 2015 to 2016 academic year.

Candover Street

We have asked One Housing to investigate reports of mice in the common parts of Tower House which has been reported to us by residents.

Berners Street

There are two signposts on the eastern side of Berners Street which are bent and causing a potential hazard for pedestrians. We have asked the Council to them both. The Council has told us:

An Inspector visited site yesterday. Five job orders were raised to undertake works (replace leaning posts or straighten twisted sign plates). These were raised as 7 day orders so should be completed by this time next week.”

MAYFAIR

Shepherd Market

We have asked the Council for an update on the enforcement action against Jack the Clipper in Shepherd Market. Residents say:

“Jack the Clipper continue to use the pavement as their waiting room. Numerous customers sit outside smoking, having coffee and other drinks, and conversing from 10am to past 8pm Monday to Saturday including bank holidays in breach of the public highway planning controls.”

Weighouse Street/Duke Street

We have reported this issue to the Council for action: 

“There is a disgusting phone box on Weighhouse St and Duke, this needs to be addressed.” 

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

More Tall buildings?

According to the ‘Financial Times’:

The strict rules on how high a building can be in London’s West End could become looser as Westminster City Council bows to intense pressure for more space in the city centre. A consultation next year will propose allowing extra floors to be built on to existing buildings in areas such as Mayfair and Soho, a change from the current rules that make it extremely difficult to change properties in the capital’s historic centre.”

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”.

Elizabeth 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.”

West End BT phone boxes – update

The West End Labour Action Team has followed up residents’ concerns with Westminster City Council on the state of “disgusting” BT phone boxes in the area. Phone boxes have become the focus for antisocial behaviour and their poor condition has creaded an atmosphere of neglect. The Action Team has called on residents, Westminster City Council and BT to monitor neglected phone boxes “so that the wellbeing of the West End and the quality of life of its residents is no longer taken for granted”.

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.”

Anti-social behaviour

We are making enquiries with Camden Council about this issue:

“I would like to make a complaint about the so-called ‘pro-Life’ protestors outside the Marie Stopes clinic. In my opinion, this behaviour amounts to street harassment of vulnerable women. Marie Stopes was a pioneering female academic who did much to improve the lives of women in the city and I find it incredibly demoralising that on my route to university (UCL) I either have to pass these people, or Spearmint Rhino ‘Gentlemen’s Club’.”

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

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

What you say

“Many thanks for taking the time to listen to the residents’ concerns” 

“Many thanks for the wonderful work you do for our area”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – December 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Update on the West End Labour Action Team’s 5-point plan to tackle drug crime

The West End Labour Action Team’s 5 point plan to tackle drug crime in the West End has received positive and constructive feedback from residents, as Pancho Lewis and Patrick Lilley continue to work with all in the local community who want to tackle a surge in drug-related anti-social behaviour.  We note with concern that:

  • many residents continue to feel unsafe at night and in the early hours;
  • residents do not feel safe due to “the lack of street CCTV”;
  • the problem of anti-social behaviour may be “swept up the road” to neighbouring areas if a cross-borough strategy is not brought forward to tackle drug crime.

We welcome:

  • new lighting has been installed in parts of the area, making it more difficult for dealers to sell drugs;
  • a Soho light audit is being brought forward to look at streets and corners where new lighting should be installed;
  • the police is taking steps to crack down on drug dealers – although we reiterate that far more work is needed.

The West End Labour Team is now calling for:

  • a cross-borough strategy to tackle drug crime;
  • the monitoring of street CCTV cameras so residents can feel safe;
  • more action on behalf of police so the spike in drug crime is brought to an end.

We are also asking residents to give their views on the 5 point plan. To do so please click here and submit your views confidentially or contact pancho.lewis@gmail.com or patricklilley@me.com. 

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 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.

Soho Create

More bad news, this time from Soho Create whose Chief Executive Tom Harvey says:

“We are all very surprised and saddened to tell you that SohoCreate is to close. Westminster City Council are unable to support SohoCreate as there are other calls on the money that are a greater priority.  Without their financial support, it would be foolhardy to continue.   The Board have therefore no option but to close SohoCreate.” 

We have asked the Council for an explanation for this decision to axe support for Soho’s creative industries which provide so many jobs and contribute so much to the local, London and national economy.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/soho-create-festival-closes-as-council-withdraws-funding/

http://sohocreate.co.uk

Berwick Street Market 

We were pleased that Berwick Street traders are one of the three organisations shortlisted by the Council to run the market.

You can listen to the ‘Ballad of Berwick Street’ by Dai Watts on the Robert Elms show

https://twitter.com/BerW1ckStMarket/status/799961906220044288

Joanna Lumley warned that the spirit of London is being “gradually killed” by gentrification as she switched on the Christmas light at Soho’s Berwick Street last week. Westminster City Council plans to “privatise” the market by bringing in a commercial operator to act as landlord to the 40 stallholders next spring. The traders have responded by launching a campaign to keep the market independent, fearing that rising rents will force them out and destroy the street’s distinctive identity.

Richmond Mews

We are continuing to work with residents and businesses about the problems in Richmond Mews. One business said: 

“One of our staff was attacked by two men as he came out of our staff exit on his way out. This is further proves that we need to have the area secured and also improve lighting in those areas.” 

Residents say: 

“Richmond Mews is the main entrance to our building of flat with elderly people and children forming part of our residential community. It’s important that everyone is safe coming and going from the building.” 

Lighting issues in Dufour’s Place & Poland Street

We are continuing to press the Council to fix the broken lights at this location

After we heard that the landlord of the Star and Garter public house in Poland Street has been complaining for over a year about the danger to his customers caused by the lack of a working street light within yards of his premises, near the corner of Broadwick Street.  

Report from Klaudija Green, Problem Solving Coordintor

  • Drug dealing/community reassurance – we are supporting our police colleagues with intelligence gathering and any proposed court actions planned. Recent Criminal Behaviour Orders obtained by MET were supported by local authority and publicised by SOHO SNT via leaflets.
  • Soho WCC environmental sweeps update – City Inspectors continue to target problematic locations, engaging with Soho residents on the ground and resolving environmental issues which were brought to their attention. The streets currently covered are: St. Anne’s Gardens, Romilly St, Soho Green, Bridle Lane, Great Pulteney St, Brewer St, Rupert St, Ingestre Place/Court, Kemp House, Bourchier St, Peter Street
  • Tents in Soho – A number of rough sleepers putting up tents in Soho have been issued with enforcement notices asking them to remove tents from public highway. The locations include: Falconberg Mews, Sutton Row and Bateman Passage.  
  • Lights in Soho – The lighting has been improved in Bourchier Street. The Council is undertaking a Soho light audit at priority locations to ascertain which lights are fully functional and which ones need fixing/improved.
  • BT phone boxes which are subject to ASB/crime – The Council has been in contact with BT to see what can be done regarding the phone box on the corner of Bourchier and Dean Streets which is used for environmental antisocial behaviour as reported by residents. BT have now agreed to remove the door and put up a CCTV sign on two phone boxes at Dean St/Bourchier Streets and at Brewer Street near Bridle Lane.
  • Soho ASB Walk-In surgery for all residents and businesses – Reverend Buckley who has kindly agreed to host the surgery in St. Anne’s Church once a month. The surgery is on the first Tuesday of the month between 2:30-4 pm and then once a month. Call 0207 641 3518 with any enquiries or kgreen1@westminster.gov.uk

FITZROVIA

Candover Street 

We were pleased to receive this note from a resident of Tower House: 

“Today due to your efforts a guy turned up to help eradicate the rodent problem all thanks to you. Thank you for taking my problem seriously.”

Alleyway between Newman Passage and Rathbone Place

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I don’t know if it’s a Council or private landowner’s responsibility, but the light in the alleyway between Newman Passage and Rathbone Place, by the Newman Arms, has not been working for months. This is unsafe, as the paving is very uneven, and now slippery in winter, and adds yet further to the Dickensian unsavouriness of Newman Passage highlighted by the drug dealing issues that you mention.” 

The Council told us: 

“The wall light in the alleyway by the Newman Arms is now functioning correctly. We have checked all other lighting units in the alleyway and they are also functioning correctly. With regards to the paving in the alleyway, I have had this checked by one of our inspectors and they have reported that there are no trip hazards within intervention level.”

Residents said, “That was quick. I’m impressed.”

Rathbone Street/Newman Passage

We have reported this latest information to both Westminster and Camden Councils:

“I have been keeping an eye on the street when I return from work around midnight, and there are regularly at least two Rickshaws parked up with no riders, and then the other night one rode into the street the wrong way, they stopped and both went into a property in Rathbone Street all very strange? Please could you also look into what is going on in the yard in the corner of Percy Street and Rathbone Street as there seem to be a lot of people coming and going, very strange don’t you think?”

Langham Street

Did you know that Doris Lessing lived in Holbein Mansion, Langham Street from 1958 to 1962? She rented a flat from her publisher, Howard Samuels, for £5 a week. Doris Lessing (1919 – 2013) was one of the foremost post-war British novelists, the author of some fifty novels, plays and volumes of poetry and autobiography. She was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. She was also an active campaigner against nuclear arms, and an opponent of apartheid.  In the second volume of her autobiography, Walking in the Shade, she describes her Langham Street flat:

“The flat was tiny, six small rooms, and the building was hideous, with a grey bare cement staircase. On the fourth floor you opened the door to a narrow corridor, which bisected the flat. Opposite the door was a minute kitchen, then the bathroom, with its hissing and clattering gas geyser, and two other little rooms on that side. On the street side was my tiny bedroom, and a larger room, the living room. There was no way that flat could be made more than tolerable.” 

It was also while she lived in Langham Street that she wrote The Golden Notebook, widely regarded as her masterpiece.

You can read more about this and other local news in the latest edition of Fitzrovia News https://towerarchive.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/fn142_fitzrovia-news-autumn-2016-lowres.pdf

MAYFAIR

Claridge’s

Claridge’s has been granted permission from Westminster City Council to build Britain’s biggest mega-basement. The vast excavation will create just under 20,000sq ft of new floorspace to house a swimming pool, spa, sauna, wine cellar, bakery and in-house chocolatier in five storeys beneath the hotel. The proposal was given planning permission despite Westminster City Council’s ‘clampdown’ on basements.

Hill Street 

We have asked the Parking Department to take action against the the rank of pre-booked minicabs that are idling along Hill Street every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Carrington Street

Plans have been submitted to turn the NCP car park in Carrington Street into a residential-led scheme with offices, shops and an art gallery. The proposals will see all the existing properties demolished and replaced with two new buildings containing up to 29 homes, office space, a gym, an art gallery, restaurants and shops.

Grosvenor Square

The US Embassy in Grosvenor Square is to be converted into a luxury hotel after Westminster City Council approved the conversion of the embassy. The building is to be redeveloped into a 137-room hotel, with shops, restaurants, a spa and a 1,000-capacity ballroom. The development is set to start next year after embassy staff relocate from the building in Grosvenor Square to a new embassy being built in Wandsworth.  

WEST END WIDE ISSUES

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 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.
  • Berkeley Street – the phone box is piled high with bin bags full of clothes, blankets and other rubbish.
  • Wardour Street – the phone box is not working properly and the kiosk is dirty inside and out.
  • Dean Street – Two phone boxes, both are very dirty and in one of them excrement was found twice.
  • Cambridge Circus – phone box stinks of urine 

Improving the environment – what you say 

“When they are re-surfacing and renewing some pavements could the Council include planting of trees? Instead of bollards? This would stop cars parking on the pavements, make the area look nicer and also improve the air quality. A good example of this is Marylebone Lane which has been completely transformed. Since there are now so many new apartments being built, I think that landscaping with shrubs and trees is of paramount importance for the benefit of everyone.”

Construction work in Fitzrovia and Soho – what you say

“To add to the comments about excessive and uncoordinated construction, have you been up Newman St recently? In addition to CrossRail and the huge Rathbone square development at the Oxford St end, both still generating substantial construction traffic, which is bad enough, there are currently no less than three individual refurbishment projects with scaffolding going on within 20 metres of each other, halfway up Newman St. The noise, blockage of pavements and traffic disruption of three additional sets of construction and delivery trucks parking on the pavement, on double yellow lines, opposite each others’ sites, all going on at once, make it hell for residents and anyone trying to pick their way down the street. It is extraordinary that there is no Council or TFL mechanism to prevent this kind of overload, and I do hope something can be done about it.”

What you say 

“I am enormously grateful to the Labour Action Team for all you do on behalf of the residents in Soho – yours has been the strongest and most significant support we’ve had in our fight to retain the CityWest Homes Soho Estate Office, and you tackle everything from broken street lights to the complete chaos caused by constant street closures.  I’m not overstating the case when I say that I truly don’t know what we’d do without your involvement and help.”

“Keep up the good work”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – November 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

SOHO

Tackling drug crime in Soho: A 5 point plan by the West End Labour team

In response to a surge in drug crime in Soho, the West End Labour Action Team has released a 5-point plan to tackle the issue at root. The plan eschews making small, timid changes – the approach of the authorities to date – and calls for a bold and tough approach to do away with what a Soho rector has called a “sudden spike” in drug crime in the area. A radical overhaul of the policing of drug-related anti-social behaviour is called for, and the plan demands that the authorities are held to account in their responsibility to make sure that Soho is safe for residents, workers and businesses.

  • A special ‘Soho Drugs Task Force’ should be established, led by a Westminster Council Cabinet member who takes responsibility for coordinating all Council departments and liaising with the police, Camden and the community.
  • A cross-borough strategy must be set up involving police authorities and the borough councils involving Westminster and Camden boroughs. The strategy must recognise that users and dealers move between borough boundaries as they wish and that the work of the authorities must respond to that challenge.
  • The concerns of local residents, workers and businesses need to be at the heart of plans to tackle anti-social behaviour. This means that the local community need to be consulted so that the aspirations for Soho are at the heart of plans to tackle drug crime.
  • Technology and CCTV must be used. This means reversing plans to cut CCTV and employing bright lightning in hot-spots of drug use, amongst others.
  • A distinction must be made between dealers and users. Dealers knowingly exploit and prey on vulnerable individuals, and must be dealt with toughness and swiftly. On the other hand, therapy and support needs to be readily accessible to users so they can beat their habits and rebuild their lives.

Please us have your views here http://bit.ly/2ecoOTL 

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/soho-streets-left-like-a-scene-from-the-walking-dead-after-spike-in-crime-a3380781.html

Berwick Street Market – Update

We are supporting the Berwick Street Traders Society (BSTS) bid for Berwick Street Market. BSTS says:

“It is vital to Soho that Berwick Street Market remains independent. That is; independent traders operating under their own roofs with the success of their ventures being wholly determined by their relevance to the people and businesses that they serve.”

“Berwick Street Traders Society does not believe that now is the time for the privatisation process with the market is in trauma. While WCC have resolved the cost issue that BSTS pointed out from the start, it has not resolved the issues of infrastructure caused by sell-offs, demolitions, hoardings, construction traffic, emergency access and it has not changed its stance on the 50 livelihoods which remain under threat. Until these matters are addressed the privatisation of Berwick Street Market poses a serious and calculable risk of failure and that failure could, with rising costs and inadequate infrastructure, lead to the failure of the market, which would be unacceptable, unforgivable and no-doubt lead to heads rolling. “

“The only operator with the financial clout and expertise to rejuvenate Berwick Street Market in partnership with traders, businesses and residents (BSTS) is MAM. Berwick Street Traders Society has partnered with MAM as a listening, flexible organisation that will invest in Berwick Street Market and work hand-in-hand with the community, to uplift the market on community terms. BSTS and MAM are working together to identify new revenue streams to support traders and evolve resilient businesses with particular relevance to the Soho community and the heritage of the market.”

“No organisation has put as much planning and effort into protecting and driving Berwick Street Market as has the Berwick Street Traders Society and that comment has been repeated by local residents. BSTS has clearly demonstrated commitment to Berwick Street Market and has raised funds and campaigns independently to do so, as it will continue to do, under its own steam and/or with the support of MAM.”

Richmond Mews 

We are continuing to support residents who are being disturbed at night by noisy activities and deliveries to the businesses whose premises are serviced via Richmond Mews. We have asked the Council to take the necessary action.

“We are also being disturbed by some bottle emptying during the night – most recently around 4am and emptying into Richmond Mews. I am also concerned about the origins of wood, pallets and other discarded building materials in the mews which are then co-opted to make shelters behind which drug use etc can take place.”

Meard Street

We have contacted a number of businesses who allow smoking by staff and customers in front of residents’ premises and asked that this is stopped. Residents also say:

“The grease that is generated by restaurants especially where there is outside seating is gross sometimes and just accumulates. Its also dangerous.  The last time it rained a woman slipped and fell over outside Honest Burgers on her way to work.    Also there are hundreds of cigarette ends.  It would be beneficial to make restaurants more responsible and have them sweep, wash and clean immediately outside their premises first and last thing. “ 

Beak Street

We have reported a broken wall-mounted street light at the corner of Beak Street and Carnaby Street.

Poland Street

We have asked the Council to repair the broken street light near the Star and Garter public house at the Broadwick Street end of Poland Street.

Dufours Place

We have asked the Council to repair the broken street light in Dufours Place and to undertake repairs to a number of flats in 1-6 Dufours Place.

Berwick Street North

The Council is proposing to spend over £600,000 upgrading the pavements along northern part of Berwick Street, between Broadwick Street and Oxford Street. We are supporting the comments from the Soho Society based on the experience in Peter Street where similar improvements were made a few years ago and where the new pavements are cracked and broken due to vehicles mounting the pavement.

The Soho Society has questioned whether the proposed yorkstone pavements are robust enough to withstand vehicle over run and to ensure that this will not be a maintenance issue. We have suggested the inclusion of bollards to stop pavement parking by vehicles and to ensure that pavements are kept free for pedestrians and the disabled.

St Lawrence House

As part of the redevelopment of St Lawrence House, the public realm will be improved at the developer’s expense, as follows:

  • Repaving the footway on Broadwick Street, Livonia Street and Poland Street adjacent to the St. Lawrence House development using Yorkstone paving on Broadwick Street, precast concrete paving on Poland Street, and precast concrete paving and granite setts on Livonia Street;
  • Realigning the kerbline of Livonia Street to widen the southern footway by 0.5m;
  • Replacing old and worn granite kerbs with new granite kerbs;
  • Installation of two new curved granite seats around trees in Broadwick Street;
  • Installation of 16 cycle racks along Broadwick Street;
  • Resurfacing of the carriageway in Livonia Street and Poland Street;
  • Improving drainage and lighting in the vicinity.

MAYFAIR 

Hanover Flats, Gilbert Street 

We have asked the Council and Peabody to investigate these worrying issues: 

“We here in Hanover Flats are at our wits end.  We have informed the environmental officer for Westminster but it would appear he didn’t find it of interest. Our building has two open courtyards, one on Binney Street and one on Gilbert Street, neither has locked gates hence we are blighted with rough sleepers, drug pushers/takers, thieves stash area, toilet facility, baby changing area, fast food stop off.

This weekend alone we have sanitary towels in the plants and defecation under the stairs on Gilbert Street. It is most frightening to come onto the building at night to have drug takers lurking in the corners. It is also very frightening passing by bin riflers day and night too.  It is vile to witness people using the gardens as toilets. It goes on and on. We also suffer from a Romanian gypsy problem.

We have mentally ill people here, elderly people and poor people here, some don’t have a phone let alone the internet; a lot of people have simply given up on the Trust, preferring to believe they have very little interest in its tenants well-being. Any help is gratefully received.”

Brown Hart Gardens 

We are taking up individual cases for residents in Balderton Buildings. 

FITZROVIA

Candover Street

We have asked One Housing to investigate reports of mice infestation in a flat in Tower House and have raised other issues of concern to residents.

Rathbone Street/Newman Passage

We have asked the Council and the Police to investigate this serious issue and we are liaising with our colleagues in Camden:

Businesses and residents have told me about the drug dealing that goes on here late at night mostly on Wednesday thru Saturday, when a black Mercedes apparently lurks around. As the police have been increased in Soho because of all the complaints about drug dealing all these scumbags are being pushed into our streets, and as there seem to be no police anymore could you insist that police patrols are increased and surveillance done. Since this has happened I am really shocked at the amount of people that have complained about this and nothing seems to be being done so I am sure that you will be able to stop this nuisance in our streets.” 

The police in Bloomsbury tell us: 

“We are continuing to monitor if it affects Bloomsbury and we will step up patrols in the area to monitor the situation. I am aware that my colleague in Cavendish Square and Oxford Market neighbourhoods team is well aware of the issue and also suspicious vehicles. It would be good if we could urge all suspicious vehicles/individuals relating to drug dealing be reported via 101. I think this will greatly assist police both in Westminster and Camden to build up a picture of what is happening and where.”

Night Tube

People travelling to and from Fitzrovia are now able to use the Night Tube which started on the Northern line serving Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street stations on Friday 18 November. Trains run through the night on Fridays and Saturdays every eight minutes between Morden and Camden Town, and every 15 minutes from Camden Town to High Barnet and Edgware. 

Construction work in Soho and Fitzrovia

We have asked the Council what can be done to control the impact of the scale of current construction work in both Soho and Fitzrovia. The Council cannot control the granting of planning permission, nor the timing of construction programmes, but we have asked if anyone monitors the cumulative impact of construction projects and try to organise things so as to minimise the impact on local residents and businesses. Here are two examples of the problems encountered by residents:

“Construction has caused intermittent closures to Lower James Street. During such periods dozens of Soho streets drain into Beak Street with the only way out via the short traffic light to Regent Street. This causes backups all the way through Soho into Broadwick and Lexington Streets and beyond. I have sat in a car in Golden Square (where I park as s resident) for 45 minutes waiting to enter Beak St. Given the extraordinary level of construction in Soho this problem will only get worse unless addressed. It exacerbates noise and air pollution in the area, and makes life very difficult for local residents and merchants.” 

“Is there any way of considering the impact of planning decisions on a neighbourhood as a whole with a view to reducing the number of large developments? Residents feel besieged by the constant noise, dirt and disruption. One of the pleasures of living in this area has been the ability to walk everywhere, but it is now impossible to walk anywhere without constantly being diverted on and off pavements, along temporary walkways etc. A nightmare for anyone with disabilities. There are currently huge developments going on in Gt Portland St, Riding House St., Foley St (with no pedestrian walkway), and now I see demolition work is starting in Langham St.  

Fitzrovia was recently named as the best place to live in London. We know that we are fortunate indeed to live here, but the character of the area is being changed by replacing small businesses, who struggle to pay higher an higher rents/rates, by large corporations. Local amenities such as corner shops, tailors and newsagents are being replaced by office buildings and yet more hairdressers and restaurants.”

WEST END WIDE ISSUES 

Airbnb and holiday lets

Local residents have contacted us because they are concerned about the impact of holiday and short-lets on their block or street. We’re keen to find out how widespread a problem this is and what you think should be done about it. It would be helpful if you could complete the online survey at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/shortletswe

 ‘Iceberg’ Basement Developments

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

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

Pedicabs

The ‘Evening Standard’ reports “police officers swarmed the West End in a move against illegal pedicab drivers who take advantage of vulnerable tourists. A team of more than 40 officers targeted the drivers who can charge hundreds of pounds for short journeys, park illegally and blast music from on-board sound systems late into the night. Uniformed officers issued seven dispersal notices with written warnings, three community protection notices and one summons to attend court.” 

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/police-crackdown-on-londons-illegal-pedicabs-a3397886.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.

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.”

Soho and Covent Garden Estate Office – what you say

“Kemp House is in the middle of a demolition site as part of a disastrous redevelopment by a developer that has already inflicted fire and floods on the residential block. Closing the local estate office when there will be at least 2 more years of this is astonishing. And the reason for the closure? “The Soho office is located in a very commercial area and is a valuable asset to Westminster City Council with a high rental value.” Cash is clearly more important than community to CityWest Homes.”

“I cannot begin to thank you for your support and intervention regarding the closure of the Soho Estate Office.  I remain very worried, especially on behalf of those elderly and disabled people who do not have access to email, and also have problems with the new telephone system which constantly fails.  We desperately need to retain the Estate Office, not only for those who have no means of contacting it unless they visit but also because of the security element.  Soho has enormous drug dealing problems, and we not only have addicts gaining access overnight but a history of residents who have been drug dealers, who have caused appalling misery and danger to the rest of us, and whom it has been terribly difficult to evict.  Without an Estate Office here, especially considering the loss of the Soho Neighbourhood Police Team and low number of police on the streets, our situation wouldn’t only be inconvenient but actually dangerous.  I hope and pray that sufficient pressure can be exerted to make CityWest Homes relent, and don’t know what we would do without your support.”

“If this office is closed it will be another local service gone forever”

Drug-related Anti-Social Behaviour – what you say

“I do sympathise with the residents currently suffering drug problems in Soho. That is why my family reluctantly moved from Meard Street and faced these problems again when we tried to live in Tower Court. I feel unsafe when I have to walk past the characters who hang around the bus stop on Shaftesbury Avenue near Cambridge Circus after leaving work in Covent Garden, so I was not surprised to see this area referred to in your newsletter.”

“Across Soho BT phone boxes, namely the listed old red phone boxes, are being used as Drug dens and are also victim to other misuse such as people urinating inside the kiosks and fly tipping. Once reported, BT immediately remedy the problem by cleaning the kiosks, however, they are victim to repeated events. The issue that BT cannot replace the kiosks with a modern version due to listed status, makes it more complicated to resolve the issue, the lack of public toilets that are accessible 24 hours a day has increasingly declined over the years and contributes to the problem. A much more serious issue is that they are being used as drug dens and people seen abusing drugs inside the kiosks is a familiar site. Removal of the kiosks is not a remedy. The issue of lack of lighting, visits to the kiosks and style of the kiosks attracts anti social behaviour to the sites.”

Berkeley Square – what you say

“The current private events which shut half the square for 2 months of the year and destroy it in the process are illegal, it is a public square and should not be used for private enterprise. I am also concerned for the health of London’s oldest trees which have their bases covered from rainwater during the spring and summer months which can cause stress for the tree (which results in the excess pollen we now get every year). I am done with the current council and appreciate the attention and care that your team brings, let me know if I can be of help.”

What you say

“Thank you for your hard work and for sending the newsletter to residents.”

“Always good to read your Newsletter, I have told so many other residents about it.”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – October 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

Drug–related Anti-Social Behavior in Soho

We attended the public meeting at 55 Dean Street on 30th September chaired by Andrew Murray. The key points were:

The number one issue is that people are really very worried about the rise in anti-social behaviour. A lot of people genuinely fear for their safety. Others are concerned about break-ins and damage to their property. One woman spoke about someone threatening to throw acid in her face. What struck us was the strength of feeling, and people being genuinely worried and unsettled. Other issues:

  • Drug dealers hanging outside La Bodega
  • Going to work in the early mornings often feels unsafe
  • A sense that police really are not responsive. For example, one woman complained about heroin abusers outside her flat and reporting it to police but them not doing anything. On person said: “What we need is consistent resolute policing consistently to reclaim our streets…I appeal to you.”
  • Often abusers are not people living here, others causing antisocial behaviour too
  • CCTV and the strength of feeling that needs to be kept open. Andrew Murray asked who wanted there to be more use of CCTV and everyone put their hand up.

See http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/soho-drugs-crisis-residents-and-businesses-slam-huge-sudden-increase-in-drugdealing-and-using-a3358721.html

http://www.westendextra.com/lawless-soho-dealers

Following the meeting, Andrew Murray wrote:

  • The main message was that the present situation across Soho is desperate – residents and businesses need action now! 
  • The main action priority was for the police to put more officers on the street to deal with both dealers and users.
  • Particular hotspots included Bridle Lane, Ingestre Place, Bourchier Street, Rupert Street and the area around Cambridge Circus, but most of the area is affected to some degree. We also heard that Covent Garden has similarly serious problems.
  • More detailed issues to be followed up included provision of CCTV; use of the Community Safety Office; the need to tackle begging; better use of technology; and taking action at specific locations, such as the red phone box in Dean St and the rear of the Soho Estates property in Bourchier St.
  • A Community Impact Statement will be prepared from what was said at the meeting, to help the police in obtaining Criminal Behaviour Orders. Members of the Ward Panel will set up a community perception survey to monitor whether there is a noticeable improvement in Soho in the coming months. We will also be meeting with the Cabinet Member for Public Protection, to discuss what the council can do.
  • Both the police and the council agreed to support a ‘Soho Drugs Panel’ to look at longer term approaches to the problem of drugs in our community.

We agree with these initiatives and will be making a number of additional suggestions over the coming weeks as our contribution to this community-led action.

Berwick Street Market – privatisation update 

The Council has given us the following update:

“The first round of procurement closed on Friday 30th September. There was significant interest in the opportunity and we received seven bids to tender. The council is currently in the process of evaluating these applications and shortlisting the operators who will be invited to submit a full application (the second stage of the procurement process). Should one of the shortlisted operators be successful in their application they will be awarded a contract in early 2017.”   

We continue to argue that the interests of the existing independent traders must be paramount in any decision and will be pressing the Council on this over the coming weeks and months.

57 Broadwick Street/3 Marshall Street W1

We have urged the Council to take urgent action after receiving this message from residents:

The residents in the 37 flats are under severe duress due to the excessive sustained noise of this development in two-hour slots everyday. We are suffering physical and mental health problems and finding it impossible to live anything like the semblance of a normal life and yet we have no choice but to live on top of this building site. We are also greatly concerned about structural damage being caused to the fabric of the building and our properties – their works are shaking floors, windows and even rattling the glass on our tables and the dishes on our sinks. The noise and shaking are worse on the lower floors and some people have had to move out. The effects can be felt throughout the tower and are unbearable on the upper floors too.”

“The suggestion of noise monitors is a very sensible one. There is no way that the noise in Stirling Court can be legally acceptable. It is a very real threat to mental and physical health.”

90-104 Berwick Street – update

It looks as if construction works at 90-104 Berwick Street might start soon as the contractors have issued this newsletter:

http://static.ow.ly/docs/Berwick%20St%20Newsletter%20FINAL%20102016_5nIC.pdf

7 Broadwick Street – update

Following our letter to the Chief Executive of the Moving Picture Company on behalf of residents who objected to MPC staff smoking in the doorway to their flats, we have received the following reply:

“I will ensure that, effective immediately, our staff are reminded that smoking is prohibited outside Broadwick Street residents’ doors and that the designated smoking area is at the end of Duck Lane.  I will also endeavor to have this monitored for compliance by our staff as well.  If there are any instances of non-compliance, however, I would greatly appreciate it if you bring it to my personal attention so I may immediately address it with the applicable MPC staff member(s).”

A happy resident told us:

“That’s great thank you very much indeed. It seems to have done the trick.”

CCTV update

The saga of the disappearing CCTV cameras in the West End and elsewhere is continuing with Westminster Councillors admitting that the former Mayor was responsible for the current unsatisfactory situation.

See http://www.westendextra.com/boris-cctv-chaos

Savile Row

We are supporting the designation of a Special Policy Area for Savile Row which the Savile Row Bespoke Association have worked on for some time. The Association says:

“Over the past 9 years the “houses” on Savile Row have worked together to complete apprenticeships for 63 young people – most of whom are now employed on The Row, providing another generation of tailors for this world-famous street. We work hard to promote Savile Row as a part of London’s vibrant and valuable creative hub – not just creating jobs and direct income but also representing a key facet of the unique British fashion business. Supporting the maintenance of this unique community with its workshops and showrooms and recognising its special nature is an important part of continuing to build the reputation and future of Mayfair.”

Library service cuts

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

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

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

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

There are alternatives. The Council should be looking at ways of generating revenues, not relentlessly cutting. It could look at raising money through digital access to the council’s treasure trove of books and maps in the City Archives.
On top of that, Westminster City Council doesn’t seem to think it necessary to consult the community. That only adds insult to injury.

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

Berkeley Square

We are supporting residents who are concerned about the declining condition of Berkeley Square. Residents say they are concerned about

“the Council’s apparent willingness to tolerate the decline in the physical state of the square. In a word, it has become shabby. There is no need for this. It is not as if the Council makes much money out of staging events. Apparently it only receives around £200,000 per annum from them. Surely it would be far better, both for Mayfair and or London, for the Council to forgo this ‘pittance’ and allow the square to be restored to its past charming state. “

Chesham Flats, Brown Hart Gardens

We have asked the Council to investigate the pavements outside Chesham Flats, Brown Hart Gardens and to do the necessary repairs. The Council say:

“The footway here is structurally very sound and in good condition. However, there is some marking and staining of the slabs following the removal of a licensed scaffold that the team is looking to resolve at the licensee’s expense.”

Save the Curzon Mayfair campaign – update

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has joined the campaign to save the Curzon Mayfair

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-plans-tough-new-rules-for-developers-as-he-wades-into-curzon-cinema-row-a3352481.html

Residents ay:

“Let me add my voice to the ground swell of others, about the developer’s actions against the Curzon Cinema. Surely, they’ve no legal foot to stand on? If the chose to build flats above a cinema, they foot the bill for proper soundproofing.”

Mayfair Plan

We share residents’ concern that the draft plan for Mayfair fails to recognize the damage to local businesses that unbridled retail changes have brought to the area. Residents say:

“One specific aspect of the document which bothers me is the treatment of Mayfair’s side streets and the extraordinary parallel assumption that retail can somehow be treated as a homogeneous entity. The impact of the Victoria’s Secrets store in New Bond Street is a good example of how the very nature of a particular retailer can transform the ambience of the immediate locale – in this case, for the worse. We have already witnessed this year attempts to transform Bourdon Street (and it is rumoured Adams Row also) from a primarily residential street into retail street. The majority view, that this would be disaster for the local community, has so far prevailed. It is in this context that I read with disbelief about the concept of the ‘Tyburn Retail Frontage’. All that would be achieved would be the further elimination of small businesses from the area.”

Regent Street ‘traffic-free’ days

Residents in Soho and Mayfair can give their views on the closure of Regent Street for ‘traffic-free’ days. This survey form can be completed and sent to the Regent Street Association http://research.audiencesurveys.org/s.asp?k=147223049514

Soho & Covent Garden Housing Office closure plans – what you say

I am sure that the location of the Estate Office is a highly valuable asset to Westminster City Council. However, it is also a highly valuable asset to the community too, and unfortunately for Westminster City Council those offices and the land they sit on are designated to community use and so belong to the community. The majority of residents may well use telephone and email for contact, but for the minority that don’t the Estate Office is an essential and needed lifeline. “

“It appears that, as I feared, no matter what opposition we put up and no matter how good our case, they will close the Office.  They have already lied about the number of people actually visiting the Office – more than three a day in my observation alone, not three a week!  I remain immeasurably grateful to you for launching the petition, and disgusted by CityWest Homes’ lack of care for residents”

See http://www.westendextra.com/estate-office-moved

Over 50 people have signed the petition – please join us and add your name https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-open-the-soho-and-covent-garden-housing-office?source=twitter-share-button

Oxford Street pedestrianisation Update

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan has responded to two questions from Labour 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.

What you say

“I don’t know what we would do without you and your colleagues”

“Thank you for your periodic West End Ward Action Reports which are most informative.”

“Thanks so much for your action update. As a resident of Soho it is some comfort that at least some Westminster councillors (sadly none of the local councillors are visible) are looking after the interests of residents ahead of commercial interests. The deliberate sanitising of Soho is spoiling the area and kow towing to developers ahead of residents is making the area hellish to live in with noise and unwarranted road closures causing traffic mayhem. Disappointingly I have now decided to sell up and leave Soho and indeed Westminster as I see no prospect of life here improving. Thanks again for what you are trying to do”

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 us at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,
West End Ward Labour Action Team

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

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at
pancho.lewis@gmail.com
patricklilley@me.com
WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – September 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

 

Save the Curzon Cinema Mayfair

Pancho Lewis of the West End Labour Action Team has started a petition to save the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair. The petition reads:

“It is an absolute travesty that developers 38 Curzon Ltd have called on the Curzon to fork out £500,000 to soundproof luxury properties they are building above it. They know that the cinema doesn’t have the funds. They know that the venue is listed and would face an uphill struggle to get permission to change its interiors. This is a de facto attempt to close the Curzon through the backdoor. Curzon Mayfair must be protected. We simply cannot afford to lose this much-loved, iconic venue.”

To read the Evening Standard’s coverage see this link:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/historic-mayfair-cinema-faces-closure-in-row-over-noise-from-films-in-flats-above-it-a3345416.html

You can sign the petition here. Over 25,000 people have already signed the petition

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-curzon-mayfair

See also this interview with Curzon Cinemas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2oHFaN08Hs&feature=youtu.be

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:

“Kemp House is in the middle of a demolition site as part of a disastrous redevelopment by a developer that has already inflicted fire and floods on the residential block. Closing the local estate office when there will be at least 2 more years of this is astonishing. And the reason for the closure? “The Soho office is located in a very commercial area and is a valuable asset to Westminster City Council with a high rental value.” Cash is clearly more important than community to CityWest Homes.”

“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.”

Clair Malone who lives in Kemp House and has relied on the estate office for many years due to a disability has written a blog about the proposed closure of the office.

http://clairmalone.co.uk/2016/09/27/soho-covent-garden-marylebone-housing-estate-office/

Berwick Street Market

We have continued to support Berwick Street market traders at a recent meeting about the future of the market.

http://www.westendextra.com/berwick-street-meeting

Also, we all know about the current Berwick Street market campaign but did you know about the same campaign in 1949? It was organised by Eileen Cavalla, the sister in law of Madge Cavalla a former Churchill Ward Labour Councillor who is still very much active today.  Here is a link to a video titled ‘Berwick Market’ on the British Pathé website – http://www.britishpathe.com/video/berwick-market

Beak Street

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

“At present there are only two ways out of south west Soho for vehicles. Either from Beak Street to Regent Street or through Golden Square via Lower James and Sherwood Streets. Even when all the streets are open traffic on Beak Street can back up all the way to the end. And lately construction has caused intermittent closures to Lower James Street. During such periods dozens of Soho streets drain into Beak Street with the only way out via the short traffic light to Regent Street. This causes backups all the way through Soho into Broadwick and Lexington Streets and beyond. I have sat in a car in Golden Square (where I park as s resident) for 45 minutes waiting to enter Beak Street. 

This problem could be alleviated by:

  1. forbidding construction closures on Lower James Street (constructors should not be allowed to disrupt whole neighbourhoods)
  2. extending the light timing onto Regent Street to allow more vehicles to exit
  3. asking police to regulate traffic flow at the Beak Street exit 
  4. ban delivery vehicles at peak times from entering Soho

Given the extraordinary level of construction in Soho this problem will only get worse unless addressed. It exacerbates noise and air pollution in the area, and makes life very difficult for local residents and merchants “ 

7 Broadwick Street

We have written the Managing Director of the Moving Picture Company to request that an instruction is sent to their employees not to smoke outside 7 Broadwick Street after receiving this message:

“We have an issue at 7 Broadwick Street. Moving Picture Company has a large number of employees. They are our neighbours on both sides of our building (front and back and to the sides). Unfortunately, a large number of them are smokers and the company has no provision for smokers and they congregate at our front door. They block the access to our flat, but also the smell is antisocial. The smoke comes straight up through the front door when it’s opened as well as through the windows into the flat. None of us are smokers so it is quite unpleasant. I have asked them politely if they could smoke somewhere else, but they have been told they cannot smoke at the door of their own premises. Do you have any suggestions of how we could tackle this? “

Kemp House/Ingestre Court

Following discussions with residents we are taking up concerns with the Police and the Council about anti-social drug behavior near Kemp House and Ingestre Court.

Royalty Mansions, Meard Street – Update

We have received this update from the Managing Director of Soho Ltd, the commercial subsidiary of Soho Housing:

“Soho Housing owns a 50 year lease of Royalty Mansions (12 flats) which has approximately 11 years unexpired. The sale referred to in your report relates to the proposed freehold sale which includes extensive commercial parts at ground and basement levels.  The freehold is owned by an investor unconnected with Soho Housing and the commercial parts are excluded from our lease.  The lease of Royalty Mansions will remain in place and is not immediately affected by the freehold sale.  However, in 2027 our lease will expire and the 12 flats will be lost.  The cost of the lease extension is high and regrettably we do have the funding to meet this cost. We have approached Westminster City Council with a request for financial support from its Affordable Housing Fund towards the cost of the lease extension and are currently waiting a formal response. There has been no indication to date that funds will be forthcoming but we are trying to find a solution to secure long term affordable housing at Royalty Mansions.”

7 Dufours Place

We have asked Soho Housing to deal with the cases of illegal subletting at 6-8 Dufours Place. Soho Housing say “Please be assured that we are giving this our immediate attention with our solicitors”.

Green’s Court

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem:

“The drains there have been full for most of the summer, looking and (quite often) smelling disgusting”

Drug-related problems in Soho 

West End Action Team member Patrick Lilley told the local press:

“It’s definitely got worse recently. It is not the only area this is happening but groups of drug users meet up to inject and smoke drugs around Ingestre Place at the bottom of Ingestre Court. But also Hanway Street.  Rupert Street remains a drug supermarket. There is a catastrophic mental health crisis among the homeless in the West End. Ingestre Place appears neglected due to the never ending building works at the bottom of Kemp House. It’s a dark and secluded spot so that acts as a magnet. “

“Any addicts who do want help have to wait forever to get it. We want to see greater police presence and we also need clinics to help people get into recovery. We want the police and the council to respond rapidly when residents report anti-social behaviour.  I’d like to see CCTV installed at the bottom of Ingestre Court, the building work completed as fast as is practicable and regular police patrols. Instead WCC want to switch the CCTV across the Westminster while drug crime is supposed to be a priority in the West End.” 

Soho Parking

We have asked the Parking Department to look into this issue:

“The parking of Addison Lee/Uber taxis in resident parking bays has become intolerable. When driving around Soho trying to park (not the easiest  at the best of times) it appears that nearly all the bay’s are full, that is until up you end up parking a distance away and whilst walking back find that most of the vehicles are not resident permit holders but taxis.  How this is resolved is a mystery but there should be something that can be done.  Immediate fines would help but suspect that that will not happen.”

The Council say:

“This is an area marshals do patrol in heavily at the moment with over 1000 visits being made to Soho Street and Square in the last 6 weeks, and over 300 parking contraventions dealt with, of which 100 were related to resident parking bay contraventions. I have instructed marshals to continue to focus on this area and to pay particular attention to residents bays around the Soho area and to ensure that all vehicles who are not authorised to park in such bays are moved on and any such infringements should be met with a zero tolerance approach.”

Pavements and Roads

We have asked the Council to investigate these issue:s 

“The streets and especially the pavements in Soho are very narrow, and the lack of racks for cyclists means that the pavements are made virtually impassable because every post is strung around with two or three bikes, some of them actually having slid down till they are lying flat across the pavement.  A friend who pushes someone around in a wheelchair is driven insane by this, because of course he simply can’t get through – and there are at least three people in wheelchairs in my block alone.”

“I am lucky enough to have a parking space near Berwick Street but often at weekends Shaftesbury Ave and Regent Street are closed for marches etc.and there is no way into Soho from Oxford Street side any suggestions?” 

Claridges

Claridges has submitted plans to Westminster City Council to build a five-storey “super basement” under the hotel. The basement extension will be large enough to house a swimming pool, spa and its own chocolatier. The Maybourne Group, who own the hotel, has also submitted applications for additional two storeys on the roof of the grade II listed building to provide an additional 40 hotel rooms.

Balfour Mews

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

“Following continual building works in Balfour Mews over the last 3 years, with concomitant break-up and renewal of pavement, it is now imperative that this uneven, unsightly surface is paved like every other pavement in the vicinity.”

Portland Place School, 56-58 Portland Place – Update

The Council has told us

“We will place extra marshal patrols along this area during drop off and collection times and we will get our engagement team to make contact with the relevant schools to see if they can get messages out to the parents.”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation – what you say

“Wigmore Street last Sunday, the buses were backed up the length of the street.  It was impossible to cross the road.  Bikes and motorbikes were on the pavement.  The buses were barely moving.  A lot of bad tempered looking people were stuck on them.  It makes no sense to divert traffic down narrow residential streets. If the nutty plan to pedestrianise Oxford St goes ahead, there needs to be serious regulation to stop bikes and motorbikes running people over on pavements.”

“While Oxford Street is indeed hellish at most times of the day pedestrianisation is not the answer for the simple reason that diverting buses to Wigmore and other surrounding streets would be even more damaging. I have yet to see an alternative for buses and taxis which does not involve displacing traffic onto less suitable streets. I would prefer to investigate the use of zero pollution vehicles where possible. “ 

“Thanks for including so many opposing views to the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street and including my quote. I see I am not alone though. Thanks for providing a forum for this.” 

“A nice idea, but has anyone thought through where the traffic would go if Oxford Street became pedestrianised?  The problem would simply move elsewhere, and things would probably become worse as most of the surrounding streets are narrow and residential.”

“I think this is a great idea and can’t come soon enough. The street is one of the worst in London and keeping it free of buses and cars would be a real asset. However, it must be thought out carefully as to how the buses are handled. At the moment no one in their right mind would travel down the street by bus as it takes so long so perhaps either a tram from one end to the other with buses terminating at each end? Or single buses that just go from one end of the other rather than all routes. Just diverting buses through the side streets would be a disaster.”

Here are some thoughts from a Fitzrovia resident

https://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/2016/09/12/take-action-now-to-have-your-say-on-oxford-street-plans/

Berwick Street Market – what you say

‘I am especially grateful for the remarks regarding Berwick Street market, as over the years it has already lost many of the stalls that sold wonderful and sometimes unique produce, and the idea of losing it altogether is appalling to anyone in the locality, or with any regard for history whatsoever. I am deeply sorry for the market traders, and I cannot see any advantage in turning Soho into an area like any other anywhere in the world, which seems to be the avowed aim. We have lost all the butchers and many, many of the delicatessens (including kosher butchers and delicatessens) that made Soho such a wonderful place for foodies, and I dread Soho being turned into just another faceless, characterless place without a trace of its heritage.”

What you say

“These updates are very interesting.”

“Thank you for your action reports, which are very informative and provide reassurance that issues such as Berwick Market are being addressed. “

“Thanks for another informative report.” 

“Can I compliment you on this publication which I always read assiduously. You put the other side to shame as we receive practically no communication from our Tory councillors. “ 

“I received your very useful and informative West End Ward Action Report”

“As always I read your Action Report with great appreciation and gratitude for all that is being done on our behalf. “

“Thank you again for all you are doing – I have no idea how we would manage without you.”

“Thank you very much for the email with the Action Report. It’s very informative.”

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 at pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk and we will add them to the list.

Regards

Pancho Lewis andPatrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – September 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

Save the Cuzon Cinema Mayfair

Pancho Lewis of the West End Labour Action Team has started a petition to save the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair.

The petition reads:

“It is an absolute travesty that developers 38 Curzon Ltd have called on the Curzon to fork out £500,000 to soundproof luxury properties they are building above it.

They know that the cinema doesn’t have the funds. They know that the venue is listed and would face an uphill struggle to get permission to change its interiors. This is a de facto attempt to close the Curzon through the backdoor.

Curzon Mayfair must be protected. We simply cannot afford to lose this much-loved, iconic venue.”

To read the Evening Standard’s coverage see this link:

You can sign the petition here

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-curzon-mayfair

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – August 2016

News from the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair – Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

WE action team

 

 

 

Berwick Street Market

West End Action Team members Patrick Lilley and Pancho Lewis have written to the Council to express their concern about plans to privatise Berwick Street Market. They say:

“Berwick Street Market has been at the heart of community life in Soho for 300 years. Its traders – entrepreneurial, hard-working men and women – have over generations put their necks on the line to grow their business and serve the community, making the market the unique place it is today.

We are therefore extremely concerned that traders are now threatened with having their stall licenses terminated. This is a reckless and potentially very destructive move which could have deeply negative consequences for both traders and the community at large.

What makes matters worse is that there has been very little meaningful engagement and consultation of traders, whose livelihoods are now threatened. The Council has a duty to meaningfully engage and listen to local businesses before decisions are made which can have such a detrimental impact on them.

What is remarkable and so difficult to comprehend is why the Council would press ahead with these plans in the context of enormous disruption to the traders. As you are well aware, the market has suffered a great deal as a result of recent building
developments. On top of that, access to facilities like storage is almost non-existent, making day to day life of traders very challenging.

In this context – of massive disruption to traders, of a total lack of serious engagement and consultation, and of continued threat to the livelihoods of traders – we ask you to implement an immediate moratorium to privatisation plans without delay. This would give independent traders the confidence and security they need to continue to serve the community.

Crucially, a moratorium would afford the community and residents time to make representations to the council on improvements needed to facilities, and to consider their own bid to run the market as a not for profit community interest company. “

See the ‘West End Extra’ article http://www.westendextra.com/berwick-market-clash

You can sign the petition here https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-berwick-street-market-independent

CCTV in Oxford Street

You can sign the petition urging Westminster Council to keep the CCTV cameras turned on in Oxford Street and elsewhere in the West End.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-westminster-s-cctv-cameras-turned-on

Ingestre Place

We have asked the police and the Council to investigate this serious issue:

“My daughter lives in Ingestre Place near Berwick Street Market. There has been a real influx in druggies hanging around this area whilst the back of Berwick Street is renovated into a hotel. This afternoon at 3pm I personally witnessed 3 guys sheltering in a door way in Ingestre Place at the back of the Brewer Street car park – as we approached they in turn pulled their trousers down and injected into their legs/body? My daughter lives approx 5 feet from this – and its really worrying. She has tried to call 101 but no one ever answers”

Kemp House

We are continuing to help residents in Kemp House who are concerned about the impact of the redevelopment works at 90-104 Berwick Street. Current issues include proposals by the developers to take over some the basement storage sheds used by residents in order to add an extra column to the construction.

Ingestre Court

We wrote to City West Homes on behalf of a resident who is concerned that residents will have access to a garden which is on his floor, and is worried about security as he fears when he’s not in they can get into his flat.

City West Homes say:

“Ingestre Court has residential properties on the third floor, with offices below. On the third floor there is a wide parapet which is dived into four. In 2015 we installed a garden on one of the four sides to protect the roof surface and also provide an improved view for residents from their properties. It has been proposed that this area is made available for residents of Ingestre Court to enjoy, but at present there is no access to this area. We are discussing this proposal with the residents’ association, but we will only provide this if we can ensure the security and privacy of the properties on the third floor. At present access to this area is secured by a security lock to which no resident or unauthorised person has a key.”

Royalty Mansions – update

We are making investigations after receiving this enquiry:

“Do you know much about the sale of Royalty Mansions in Meard Street — and the subsequent loss of social housing? It is another example of squeezing out the poor from central London (no doubt, expecting them to suffer long and expensive travelling times…to come back into the centre to work).”

Mount Street

The ‘Evening Standard’ reports that the New York gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca is to make its European debut at 117 Mount Street (where butcher Allens of Mayfair used to be). The Standard says “The high-end grocery store sells a $450 (£340) rib roast, $145 paella gift sets and $45 sour cherry pie”. The store is set to open next year and a link to the article is here http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/new-york-s-finest-deli-dean-deluca-coming-to-mayfair-a3309806.html

Grosvenor Square

The Twentieth Century Society has criticised plans to convert the grade II-listed former US Embassy on Grosvenor Square into a hotel, saying that the designs will damage the building. Qatari Diar, working in partnership with the Grosvenor Estate, plans to convert the building into a 137-bedroom hotel with five restaurants, six shops, a spa and a ballroom with space for 1,000 people. However, the Twentieth Century Society has written to Westminster City Council warning of the impact of the designs to the building, saying:

“The proposed double-height sixth floor will damage the present proportions of the listed building: the rhythm of the front façade will be fundamentally changed. We are disappointed that the applicant has persisted with this damaging scheme notwithstanding the society’s suggestions at pre-application stage as to how the effect may be ameliorated.”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation – update

Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly Member, asked the following question to the Mayor:

“Plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street are contentious with residents north and south of Oxford Street who are concerned as to where the many buses will go and the risk of their displacement down smaller residential streets. Will you consider a range of other actions to improve air quality and increase safety such as phasing out diesel buses from routes that travel along Oxford Street, widening pavements and getting rid of street clutter, pedestrianising the side streets wherever practical and allowing cafes to set up and banning pedicabs?”

Written response from the Mayor

“Oxford Street is London’s high street, with some of the highest footfall anywhere in the capital, but it is also one of the most dangerous and polluted streets in the city. This situation cannot be allowed to continue, and the plan to pedestrianise the street will not only tackle these issues, but transform the shopping experience for millions of Londoners and visitors every year.

Local residents have genuine concerns about the impact transformational schemes like this one can have on the local area and it is, as you say, essential that any scheme successfully deals with any potentially negative impacts on local communities. The GLA, Westminster City Council and TfL are working together to ensure that the proposed changes work for visitors and residents alike and all of the measures you describe need to be assessed.

The West End Partnership (WEP) has begun work on proposals to transform Oxford Street and we will engage widely with local residents, visitors and businesses as these proposals develop.”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation – what you say

“I do agree that pedestrianisation of Oxford Street begs the question of where would all the busses and taxis go? First the Mayor should show plans for alternate routes so bus drivers, taxi drivers and interested people can better assess the situation. I would say routing traffic through smaller and partly residential streets sounds unworkable, even awful.”

“Our previous Mayor mooted the possibility of pedestrianizing Oxford Street some years ago, one would have hoped that the new Mayor would have realised the idiocy of the proposed scheme. The traffic would be diverted to minor, often residential streets causing a bigger build up of traffic causing even higher levels of pollution than at present. Surely it would be more practical to reorganise bus routes at slack times, when most are carrying as few as four or five passengers?”

“The control of pollution levels is obviously a good thing, but the penalties the Mayor has outlined are a far better and less disruptive way of tackling this problem than pedestrianisation of what is a vital route through the West End. If pollution levels were the major reason for pedestrianisation, Marylebone Road would be pedestrianised instantly! We all want cleaner air, but pedestrianisation is an insane way to achieve it – we cannot make whole swathes of London impassable.”
“It would have a disastrous effect on Mortimer St as this seems the only possible west – east route. It is already extremely busy. My proposal would be an electric shuttle every 2 minutes from Marble Arch to Centre Point and back. Buses could turn round at these two locations.”

“Residents are deeply concerned about the resulting displacement traffic and consequent pollution, not only from buses but also lorries, used to deliver to the Oxford Street stores, taxis and private vehicles that use Oxford Street at each end. Yesterday, traffic was diverted from Oxford Street just one way, westwards down Wigmore Street, resulting in stationary traffic from Wimpole Street past Portman Square. This was a Saturday in holiday season. To replicate that daily both ways will make Wigmore Street a car park, as already happens whenever Oxford Street is closed for any reason. “

“I live in Great Titchfield Street and I support the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. Buses should go up and down Regent Street and Baker Street, Gloucester Place one way. I am sure TFL can work out routes that do not use the small streets around Oxford Street (like Wigmore Street). Maybe some kind of electric vehicle shuttle could be organised from Regent Street to Marble Arch if really needed, or maybe lots of benches and sitting areas could be placed in the road so people can rest if they need to.”

“At the moment when Oxford Street is closed for demonstrations etc traffic is diverted along Wigmore Street. This log-jams the whole area north of Oxford Street, making it difficult to get around and the air un-breathable. It would therefore seem to me that for local residents the only basis on which the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street (itself a good idea) would be acceptable would be if all current through bus routes terminated at Tottenham Court Road / Marble Arch and if all other traffic was damped by diverting it via Tottenham Court Road / Euston Road / Marylebone Road / Edgware Road (a residents-only zone would be needed to do this, with exemptions only for light delivery vehicles up to 10.00 am – a not uncommon measure in other European cities).”

“It is unacceptable and pointless to re-route buses onto neighbouring streets. Surely the primary reason for pedestrianisation is to reduce pollution, not to displace it. All buses need to stop traversing the area. Bus depots at either end of Oxford Street should be terminals – all passengers off. For commuters, there is the tube, Crossrail (soon) and other existing bus routes. Travelators and other devices can assist pedestrians and those with mobility issues. Otherwise walking will enhance public health and piezo pavement devices can provide power.”

Noise – what you say

“One source, of course, is that of alarms going off — never any interest from the police; always false alarms in my experience, and most alarmed buildings do not have clearly displayed phone numbers to ring. Another bigger source is the sheer quantity of building works and road works. Were a government interested in preventing such noise pollution, it would insist on quiet equipment used, e.g., laser. And the third is the amplification and radical increase of busking. Many of us have no objection to the acoustic guitar or sax; but these days, as you know, in tube stations and Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, the busker comes along with large amplifier, drum kits et al.”

What you say

“Many thanks for these updates and your labours on these matters.”

“Thank you for your Action Report, which is always extremely welcome and always highlights the amount of work done on behalf of residents.”

“Thank you for taking up so many important causes and your excellent newsletter.”

“Thank you for the updates”

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

 

Regards

Pancho Lewis and
Patrick Lilley,

West End Ward Labour Action Team
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour Built Environment spokesperson
Westminster City Council Labour Group

You can contact Pancho and Patrick at

pancho.lewis@gmail.com

patricklilley@me.com

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – July 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair

WE action team

 

 

 

 

Kemp House, Berwick Street

We are taking up residents’ concerns about the appalling state of the bin area and the very serious problems being experienced by Kemp House residents as a result of the demolition works along Berwick Street. In addition, we have made enquiries about the recent serious fire at the Berwick Street site which has added to residents’ and businesses’ concerns. Residents say:

“There have been numerous complaints about the disgusting state of the bin area on Hopkins Street. The situation has now got so bad that the lock has been stolen from the gate and two homeless people seem to have taken up residence. The rubbish does not appear to have been regularly collected for several weeks – certainly, the bins appear to be overflowing and surrounded by fly-tipped items. Despite our requests no one has confirmed if the rubbish collection team even have proper access to the bins now.”

As a result of our action, the Council has designated an officer to coordinate all the activities involved so that the there is a single point of contact for residents and businesses. The person to contact is Tom Walsh at twalsh@westminster.gov.uk 020 7641 2772. The person to contact at City West Homes is Leon Williams lwilliams@cwh.org.uk

Berwick Street Market

We are also continuing to support the independent Berwick Street Market Traders who are fighting Council plans to privatise the market and terminate their stall licences. These licences are people’s livelihoods, businesses and relationships, and belong to traders who are part of Soho’s history and culture. Berwick Street Market is now the frontline of the relentless cleansing of Soho. @BerW1ckStMarket.

We have called for a halt to the privatisation process until all demolition and redevelopment work going in Berwick Street is completed. The petition has already attracted over 20,000 signatures https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-berwick-street-market-independent

Read the latest in the Guardian this week https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/25/saving-soho-battle-keep-berwick-street-market-independent

Oxford Street pedestrianisation plans

We have called for a meeting with Mayor Sadiq Khan and Valerie Shawcross, Deputy mayor for Transport, to raise concerns expressed by residents of Fitzrovia, Soho, north Mayfair and Marylebone about the local impact of plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street by 2020. There are over 10,000 residents living in the busy and bustling streets north and south of Oxford Street. The population is primarily ordinary working people, many of whom have lived in the area for years, whose children attend the local schools and who work in local businesses. Many people live in social housing, or housing for the elderly and they cannot choose to move out of the area if it becomes even more congested and polluted by increased bus and taxi traffic.

While we believe there could be benefits from plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street, it is vital this is done in conjunction with a review of bus routes so as not to move traffic and pollution onto residential streets north and south of Oxford Street. Real consultation with local residents needs to be an integral part of any plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street.

See this from Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum http://fitzwest.org/wordpress/ and this from the Marylebone Association https://dub131.mail.live.com/?tid=cmJAG6p81N5hGtmQAkgYiwrg2&fid=flinbox

Also, this article has a little more detail about the proposals https://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/2016/07/25/what-deputy-mayor-valerie-shawcross-said-about-pedestrianisation-of-oxford-street/

7 Dufours Place

We have written to Soho Housing Association to urge them to turn the communal heating down during the summer months, as previously agreed with residents: Residents say:

“We reminded Soho Housing in May that it had been agreed that the heating would be switched off every summer. They have still not switched it off. Apart from being uncomfortably hot it is expensive and not environmentally friendly.”

Old Compton Street/Frith Street

We have asked the Council to repair the roadway at the is location as following downpours a large ‘pond’ appears at this junction.

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. “

Goodge Street

We have asked TfL to explain why buses are being routed along Goodge Street after receiving this message:

“Why are London Buses are sending Buses nos 25, 55, 390, 10 through Goodge Street in the evening? We have enough traffic noise already without the horrendous noise and pollution from these mostly empty buses. Oxford Street is where they should be, although the ever increasing number of mostly empty buses already clogs that day and night. Fitzrovia is turning into another Oxford Street with the noise and ever increasing pollution from these buses. Goodge Street is all residential above the shops and this bus nuisance adds nothing to our lives except noise and pollution “

Tfl say: 

“Buses have been temporarily diverted along Goodge Street and others, due to an overnight part closure of Oxford Street. This was to allow urban realm work to take place outside Tottenham Court Road station as part of its upgrade. We only implemented the diversion on Thursday and Sunday last week and I can confirm it’s now been lifted.”

Soho Square

A swastika has been reported being found in Soho Square, alongside white supremacist rhetoric. A Council spokesperson said in response: “We took immediate action and removed this anti-Semitic graffiti as soon as we were made aware. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our diverse and welcoming city where thousands of people from different backgrounds live side-by-side. We recently launched the Community Cohesion Commission in Westminster and would encourage anyone who is aware of hate crime in our borough to report it to the police as soon as possible.” 

CCTV cameras

We have only till 1st September before the Council turns off 75 CCTV cameras including many in the West End. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-westminster-s-cctv-cameras-turned-on

Can you also take a moment to share the petition with others? It’s really easy – all you need to do is forward this email or share this link on Facebook or Twitter: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-westminster-s-cctv-cameras-turned-on 

Park Lane

We asked the Council about this issue:

“I wonder if anything can be done about the sculpture in Park Lane opposite the Dorchester Hotel?  It is of an upraised black arm holding a naked white woman.  As a work of art it is not up to the standards of other sculpture in Westminster.  It is also very demeaning towards women – very much woman as helpless victim.”

The Council replied:

“It is actually by world renowned artist Lorenzo Quinn. But it is going shortly as its six months is up and a new sculpture of a hare will be installed shortly”.

The residents said:

“I am impressed with the speed of your reply!  Thank you.  I am very glad it is going and I don’t care if it is by a world renowned artist it is still vulgar and sexist – as “world renowned artists” can well”.

Portland Place School, Portland Place.

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“For several years we have seen the complete abuse of safety and traffic regulations by this school. At the times of dropping off and collection of the children there are many cars double parked and often worse for approximately 100m outside the school. This causes problems in terms of traffic congestion and danger in respect of pedestrians crossing Portland Place including children.

Notwithstanding complaints to the school authorities and the local police nothing seems to have happened to rectify the position.  The drivers many of whom are chauffeurs or security personnel as well as parents are arrogantly dismissive and often abusive. I would be grateful if you could take action on our behalf.”

The Parking Department says: 

“We are liaising with our Schools Road Safety Officer Carla Lowe as the schools in this road need a travel plan, and there are 3 schools on this road. These schools are private schools and are probably shut now for the summer, but again we will keep an eye on this and at the start of the new term to set a meeting with them.”

What you say

“Thank you so very much for your latest report, and I am so grateful for all you have been doing to try and help residents, especially as you have so often taken up issues I have raised without results from anyone else. I repeat how grateful I am for your help and support – residents need you as you take up issues ignored by everyone else.”

“Thank you for this update. Very useful and informative.”

“Thank you for your report which is very interesting.”

“Thank you again for your response and your brilliant newsletter each month”

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

 

Berwick Street and ‘The Broken Window Theory

From the ‘West End Extra’ – 8 July, 2016

“The Broken Window Theory suggests that if low-level urban disorder goes unchallenged then it will attract further acts of anti-social behaviour. 

In other words, a neighbourhood that is not cared for signals to criminals that they will go unpunished; after all, who cares what goes on there? 

Berwick Street is currently one such place, it seems. The demolition works at the southern end of the street have created an environment where it appears that nobody cares what goes on here, despite the fact that the demolition site is adjacent to the historic Berwick Street Market and that the Kemp House tower block within the site is still home to around 100 residents, the vast majority of whom are council tenants. 

The developer, PMB Holdings, is overseeing works that have featured ripped scaffolding wraps flapping in the wind, dust and debris blowing off the site and onto the market, and sludge trailing onto the streets and roads. 

Within the Kemp House flats, the demolition has led not only to unbearable dust, noise and alarming vibrations but also recently to flood damage to the residents’ hallways, communal lighting and items stored in the basement storage units, where brickwork was inadvertently knocked through when works began back in May 2015 (and, despite the original proposals promising a programme of works lasting only 18 months, the developers now suggest that there is at least a further two years still to run).

This apparent recklessness has coincided with an increase in anti-social behaviour around the site. 

The bare hoardings, grime, and general air of disrepair have attracted vandals whose graffiti has been left untouched. 

The mesh fencing on Hopkins Street (opposite the now vacant community safety office) has encouraged fly-tipping and created a shelter for drug users, who feed their habit then uncontrollably defecate by the residents’ doorway and pass out on the spot. 

On Monday this week, skateboarders set up a ramp so they could repeatedly slam their boards against the Berwick Street hoardings until a resident from over the road threw an egg at them – in the ensuing altercation the skaters threatened to break the resident’s windows. 

On Tuesday, the hoarding on Hopkins Street was set alight, the fire brigade tackling the blaze just as it threatened to engulf the Kemp House residential doorway. 

This kind of escalating anti-social behaviour, the Broken Window Theory suggests, is to be expected when it appears that nobody cares about a neighbourhood. 

I know that the local residents and the market traders care, and the local councillors have lent some support, too. 

But those with direct responsibility for the site – PMB Holdings, CityWest Homes and Westminster City Council – do they care? 

To those intent on disorder, it seems not.

DAVID BARRETT
Kemp House, Berwick Street, W1″

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – June 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair

Removal of the Council’s Oxford Street CCTV cameras

We are very concerned about Westminster Council’s decision to switch off all of its 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.”

Dufours Place

We have contacted City West Homes at the request of residents to ask that the current emergency ‘out of hours’ services are reviewed so that they can respond more effectively to emergency situations.

Richmond Mews

We are continuing to support local residents who are suffering from continuous late night nuisance and anti-social behavior from surrounding commercial businesses. Residents say:

“Soho House have slowly started to disregard the terms of their license, allowing deliveries to the back entrance of 76 Dean Street – and these are happening sometimes as early as 3am. The rubbish problem in the Mews continues. A number of wooden pallets was left by the bins at the service entrance to 100 Wardour Street. These were then appropriated by homeless people to make a shelter at the end of the Mews.

100 Wardour Street seems to de-rigg equipment as late as midnight often and this makes an incredible din.The parking situation at the end of the Mews is little better. Most days 1, 2 or 3 vans will be parked illegally at the end of the mews, unchallenged. The back of Royalty House in Richmond Mews seems to have a workshop associated with it and power tools are used at all hours including the weekend.”

Poland Street/Broadwick Street

We have again asked the Council to take action to relieve the constant grid-lock in this area. Residents say:

“I have already drawn the Highways Department’s attention to the gridlocked traffic in Broadwick Street, which makes it terrifyingly difficult to get to about. If you allow the huge number of building sites in a small area that we currently have to contend with, the results are disasterous, but I feel as though no-one at Westminster will do anything about it”

Berwick Street Market

We are continuing to support Berwick Street Market traders in their campaign to keep the market alive and independent. The petition has already attracted many thousands of signatures and you can sign here

https://www.change.org/p/edward-watson-keep-berwick-street-market-independent

Davies Street

We have have made enquiries about the very poor state of the planting on the “so called” Living Green Wall which is on Davies Street opposite New Bond Street Tube Station which residents have asked us about. The Council say: “There is a condition on the planning permission requiring dead plants to be replaced and the grid to be completely covered in vegetation. We will log it for enforcement action.”

Live Bands on Oxford Street and elsewhere

We have asked the Council to investigate this growing issue:

“I have been a resident of South Molton Street for 15 years and love the location. Over the last month, the best rock band live “venue”in London seems to be at the top of my street, just opposite the Bond Street tube station entrance on Oxford Street. Each evening, we are treated to several hours of extremely aggressively played and highly amplified music. I am astonished that a full size rock drum set can be played on a major street! As someone who worked in the rock music field for over a decade – I am quite a fan of this genre of music…but not on my doorstep, every evening, by mediocre musicians. I have contacted Westminster noise control several times over the last month, but this is not sufficient in shutting down the space.”

The Council says:

“Unfortunately our powers are fairly limited when it comes to dealing with the issue of street performers.  From a noise perspective, amplified music is allowed during the day up until 21:00.  We can take action where the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance, however this is often difficult to prove.

We are currently using various elements of anti-social behaviour legislation to try and deal with the worst culprits whereby we serve notices on persistent problem buskers/street performers and we have seen a few banned from returning to Westminster.  We are also working with the GLA on their Busk In London programme which is aimed at trying to get the buskers on a voluntary basis to self-police, an approach which has worked well in Covent Garden.

Oxford Circus is a hotspot for us in terms of busking and while we do monitor and try to shut down, or move on problem buskers we find that they are either very quickly replaced by another busker or that they simply start up again in a nearby location knowing that we do not have the powers to prevent this.”

Royalty Mansions

We are supporting local residents who have written to the Council about this issue:

“You may be aware that the Method Studios (formerly Soho Images) site, which includes Royalty Mansions, is for sale. The site is apparently 0.22 acres in total as it goes back to Richmond Mews. The site is apparently currently owned by the owners of the Method Studios business. The sale particulars emphasis the redevelopment potential of the entire site, including Royalty Mansions, which is currently under lease to Soho Housing. That lease expires in 10 years’ time.

A major redevelopment of the site would be a catastrophe for Meard Street. There are surveyors in the street today. We have already endured a decade of redevelopments including The Dean Street Townhouse, 76 Wardour Street, the current works at 74 Wardour Street and the recent works at 67-68 Dean Street and now the proposals for the redevelopment and conversion of Nos 21 and 23 Meard Street, not to mention Crossrail 1 and potentially Crossrail 2.

We would like to know what the Council knows about this site and what its position is. Most importantly, what is the Council’s position in relation to assisting Soho Housing to enfranchise its lease so that Royalty Mansions can be retained for social housing use (and major redevelopment of the building thereby prevented)?”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation proposals – what you say

I think this would have disasterous results – and especially for those who, like me, cannot walk very far.  If you can’t walk far, or cycle, Oxford Street is a vital route to various hospitals and facilities, as is Regent Street.  Most disabled people can’t use the Underground. I can actually remember when, decades ago, Oxford Street was closed between Oxford Circus and Marble Arch in order that the pavements could be widened.  The result was chaos beyond belief.  Westbound traffic was routed around Grosvenor Square, eastbound traffic was stuck in Wigmore Street, and it could easily take an hour or more to get from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch and the same on the return journey.”

See this article for a review of the issues currently being discussed:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2016/jun/19/pedestrianisation-of-oxford-street-pledges-trade-and-trade-offs

What you say

“I am, as always, fascinated and impressed by your Report, and thank Heavens for the amount of work done by Labour Councillors – of which I only wish there were some in my particular area (Soho).”

“Thank you for your newsletter. I am happy to be updated on your activities.”

“Great to hear from you on all of this”

“If only we had Labour Councillors throughout Westminster, what a transformation would be made to our lives.”

“I am a resident in in the West End Ward. Thank you for your recent email update about your work”

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

 

WEST END WARD ACTION REPORT – May 2016

News from Labour Councillors and the Labour Action Team in Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair

Berwick Street Market

We are supporting local traders who are opposed to the Council’s plans for Berwick Street Market. The ‘Evening Standard’ reports:

“Traders at one of central London’s oldest street markets have warned they are “on their knees and waiting for the chop” after Westminster council decided to hand over control to a private operator.

Dozens of stallholders at 250-year-old Berwick Street market in  Soho have been told their licences will expire on June 30 because it is “not currently reaching its full potential”.

But the traders say the main reason business is down (by an estimated 75 per cent) is demolition work on two buildings that is scheduled to last for two years. They fear that “privatisation” will be followed by huge rent rises that will “cleanse” a much-loved food market.

Campaign leader Robin Smith says he spent £25,000 getting his Soho Dairy business established and had to survive what he described as “the Berwick Street blitz” caused by the construction work. The former advertising boss said the decision to give so little warning to traders was “outrageous and unfair”.

He has organised a petition against the council’s plans and has more than 1,700 backers to date.

“We can’t let it fall to the developers — rents are already forcing companies and residents out, this cleansing will continue that direction. This is a little vital piece of Soho, everyone seems to be agreed on that. There are 90-year-old customers who were born in Soho in the Twenties and come to us for fruit and veg and milk, they need us,” he said.”

You can sign the petition here

https://www.change.org/p/edward-watson-keep-berwick-street-market-independent

Soho Create

Details of the Soho Create Festival from 6th-10th June can be found here https://dub131.mail.live.com/?tid=cmsN8BsDAj5hG05wAiZMFUGA2&fid=flinbox

Broadwick Street area

We have asked the Council to investigate this major issue for residents:

“At the beginning of February the area of Broadwick Street between Berwick Street and Poland Street was closed to traffic in order that the road surface could be improved.  This is not due to end until May, and the work was undertaken despite a massive building site on the corner of Poland Street and Broadwick Street, Parking was suspended during this two-way system, but there has been no enforcement of this at all, and vans are constantly parked along Poland Street for hours, so that often the street is completely impassable.

At exactly the same time, the Highways Department closed Lower James Street in Golden Square.  This means that no vehicle can go via Golden Square and Denman Street to Shaftesbury Avenue. From the time Crossrail blocked off the top of Dean Street, the only route by which I and others can reach the Soho Health Centre has been via Golden Square and Denman Street to Shaftesbury Avenue, from thence across and all around Chinatown before turning back up Wardour Street and eventually to the Health Centre.  I have taken up the insanity of this route time and again, pointing out what difficulties it presents, without result.  Vehicles can only get out in that direction by heading towards Regent Street via Beak Street, where the lights at the junction with Regent Street admit perhaps one vehicle at a time (and as a result the tailback extends right into Broadwick Street) or via Great Marlborough Street, where the lights at the junction with Regent Street have long been an issue.  The tailback from this latter route stretches as far as Poland Street.  We are completely stranded.  If an emergency vehicle needed to reach us it could not do so, and in the event of a terrorist attack I have no idea what would happen.”

Richmond Mews

We have asked the Council to take action on the following issues raised by residents:

  • The Mews has double yellow lines but parking restrictions are not enforced at all so it has turned into an unofficial car park
  • The back of Royalty House is some kind of workshop which leaves wooden planks lying around. These have been co-opted as a shelter for the homeless at the end of the mews.
  • Sleeping rough in the mews is increasing because of the rubbish and we’re also experiencing noise disturbance some nights.
  • The premises 100 Wardour St has two service exits into the Mews. Staff are congregating in the Mews late at night at the weekends making noise, cheering etc at 2am and 3am
  • There are random old chairs, pieces of packaging etc left about which further encourages vagrancy.”

Oxford Street pedestrianiation – what do you think?

The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says he wants to pedestrianize Oxford Street. What do you think?

One residents tells us: “This is of course a good idea in theory, but where are all the many buses going to go? Down smaller residential streets? As someone living nearby, I feel really concerned about that. At least the midline strip is making crossing Oxford St safer.”

Please let us know what you think about this proposal

12 Bourdon Street

We were delighted that the Planning Committee refused planning permission for Grosvenor’s proposal to use the ground floor garage as a retail unit. As one resident said:

“The intention is to change the character of this residential area in to a connecting retail street from Mount Street to Bond Street with no respect for those who live there. The garages mirror what the original use was as stables”

BT Broadband

We are continuing to press BT Openreach to install superfast fibre broadband in the West End. The recent story in The Guardian is typical of what residents tell us http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/may/28/bt-no-internet-six-months-openreach

Piccadilly

A unique part of London’s history which mysteriously disappeared has returned. The Grade II listed Porters’ Rest, a wooden bench on two legs, had sat at the western end of Piccadilly, near the Bomber Command memorial, disappeared without explanation last year. It had originally been installed in 1861 when a Porters’ Rest was once a common sight throughout London and used to give porters a break from carrying large and heavy objects and luggage. The original was believed to be the last of its kind in the capital. After noticing its disappearance, Peter Berthound, who leads private walking tours around the capital, said: “This is the last one left in London. It’s not one of the great sights of London, but it is one of those little details that people really like. It’s some kind of continuity with the past.” The Council has now provided a replica of this unique piece of Victorian street furniture.

Planning Update

  • Mark’s Church in North Audley Street – The Council has granted planning consent for Grosvenor to complete a £5 million repair and restoration of the former St. Mark’s Church in North Audley Street, Mayfair. The Grade I listed building will provide a meeting space for the community as well as shops and restaurants. Restoration works are set to begin in late Summer 2016, with doors set to open to the public in late 2017.
  • Foyles site, Charing Cross Road – The Council Council has granted permission to Soho Estates to redevelop the former Foyles Building on Charing Cross Road into an office-led scheme. The development, which sits on a site including 111-119 Charing Cross Road, 1-12 Manette Street, 1-4 Wedgwood Mews and the Grade II listed 12-14 Greek Street, will comprise offices and restaurant and retail space with completion scheduled for late 2020.
  • US Embassy – Qatari Diar is planning to double the size of the Grade 2 listed US Embassy building on Grosvenor Square, according to plans set out in a letter to Westminster City Council. The proposals would increase the floor space in the development to 499,445 sq ft. The additional space will be created by constructing an extension at the rear of the building from the second to fifth floor levels, as well as extending the existing basement levels and adding two new basement floors and an additional mezzanine basement floor. The ground and basement floors will be used for retail space.
  • Blacks Club’, 67 Dean Street – Planning permission was refused to regularise the use of the second and third floors as part of the Club and listed building consent for those internal alterations. The building is currently subject to two separate enforcement cases relating to unauthorised and material change of use of the residential units on the second and third floors to Club use. Councillors were also concerned about the backyard of the Club being used when it should not be.

Crossrail 2 update

Crossrail 2 say:

“Throughout the project we will be consulting with stakeholders and the public on Crossrail 2, including on station locations and route alignments. There will be further future consultations too – if you would like to be added to our contact list to be alerted to them, please email crossrail2@tfl.gov.uk

Air Pollution

Air pollution is now the top issue of concern among Westminster residents, according to a Council survey.  A fifth of people named ‘air pollution’ as a very or fairly big problem. The only other issue causing a similar level of concern is homelessness and people begging on the streets.

A thousand residents aged 16 or over were given a list of possible concerns and asked in face-to-face interviews: “Thinking about this local area, how much of a problem do you think are…?” They were invited to rate them as a “very big problem”, “fairly big problem”, “not a very big problem”, “not a problem at all” or “don’t know”.

  • Twenty per cent named poor air quality as either a very big or fairly big problem in the survey, the same result for people homeless or begging on the streets, followed by rubbish and litter lying around on 19 per cent.
  • Three issues came next on 15 per cent; parents not taking responsibility for the behaviour of their children, noise from building sites and dog fouling on pavements. 
  • They were followed by noisy neighbours or loud parties, people being drunk or rowdy in public places, teenagers hanging around on the streets, and people not treating other people with respect and consideration, all on 14 per cent.
  • Noise from commercial entertainment properties such as pubs got a problem score of 12 per cent, people using or dealing in drugs got 11 per cent, and particular families in the neighbourhood causing crime and anti-social behaviour got eight per cent.
  • Lower down the list came issues related to licensed premises (seven per cent), violence among young people (six per cent), gangs and gang violence (also six per cent), dangerous/aggressive dogs (five per cent) and vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles (four per cent).

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

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

Jobs

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

Exports

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

Security

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

If you’re not already registered to vote, you need to do so to vote in the EU Referendum. Deadline is 7 June. Register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Find out if you’re eligible to vote in the EU Referendum at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

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

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 at 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

 

West End Ward Labour Action Report – January 2016

7 Dufours Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The recycle refuse has not been collected for weeks. Last time the problem was that it had been placed in a bin. Could you please (a) arrange its collection (b) advise Soho HA if there is something they need to advise residents to do in future”

The Council say:

“I understand that the locks to the bin store where changed recently by Soho Housing Association but our Recycling Collection Team have not been issued with a fob key. We are pursuing SHA to get this resolved quickly and will then clear all recycling bins and bags. It is the responsibility of building owners/managing agents to ensure we can get access to clear their waste. They are also responsible for ensuring bin stores are maintained in a clean condition and appointing pest control contractors if required.”

Richmond Mews

We asked the Council to investigate this issue

“I would so appreciate your help with intervening to halt noise from the newly reopened restaurant at 100 Wardour Street. Whilst the license is very clear (Para 20. “Bottles and glass shall not be deposited outside the premises after 22.00 and before 08.00”) the residents of Soho Lofts with windows onto Richmond Mews are being disturbed by repeated disposal of bottles during the prohibited hours. This has been the case since the premises reopened. This morning bottles were dumped into the bins in Richmond Mews, from the rear service entrance of 100 Wardour Street, repeatedly between 02.30 and 03.30 and the again at 07.00. What options do we have to enforce the conditions of the license and what can be done quickly to restore quiet?”

The Council told us:

“We met with the Management at the venue this afternoon to discuss the removal of glasses. The condition of the license relating to this has been reiterated and they have arranged to move certain bins and glass repositories in order that they are removed in the morning as per the conditions imposed. I hope that this will resolve the issue immediately but should there be any noise related issues then please notify the noise team through the 020 7641 2000 number so an Officer can attend.

We will continue to monitor this venue as part of the ongoing wider work within the Mews.”

Residents say:

“Thank you for creating renewed focus on this for us. I really appreciate your using your influence to get action. Sometimes it can feel that the requirements of Big Business outweigh the needs of ordinary people (in my case trying to sleep for 7 or 8 hours) so heartfelt thanks.”

 

 

West End Ward Labour Action Report – October 2015

Dufours Place

We have again written to Soho Housing Association about the continuing problems with the front door at 7 Dufours Place.

Pavement cycling – what you say

“In Soho, where I live, bikes often go quite fast in pedestrian areas with the cyclist using a phone. There will be a serious accident – perhaps there has been already – if this doesn’t stop. Some cyclists show hostility and aggression when pedestrians don’t jump out of their way quick enough, as if they think it’s ok to be cycling on the pavement. Tourists can also be a problem as they cycle in large groups – e.g. on Carnaby St – and often are not in control of their hired bikes. No Cycling signs are ignored in parks. Policemen don’t appear to be concerned with rogue cyclists. Maybe fines would act as a deterrent?

West End Ward Labour Action Report – September 2015

Richmond Mews

Richmond-mews-rubbish-dumping-4-9-15Vigilant West End residents took this picture of rubbish dumping this morning in Richmond Mews, Soho. They said

“men are emptying a white van full of rubbish adding to the heap in the Mews. The van is stopped on an area of double yellow lines and they are tipping large quantities of combustible wood.”

We reported this to the Council by email and Twitter so that they can take immediate action against those responsible.

West End Ward Labour Action Report – August 2015

Vale Royal, Charing Cross Road

We have asked the police to investigate this issue:

“The dealers and druggies gather under Vale Royal a WCC block of flats which has an overhang and loiter there dealing and generally making a nuisance of themselves early mornings, usually from about 5 am to 9 am. This has been going on – on and off for that period of time. At the moment it’s quite bad and blatant, I have also been told many times that the police are dealing with other more serious issues, which I understand, but there comes a point where you think enough is enough. Come September the children will once again be travelling to school and the 24 and 29 bus stop towards Hampstead is right by where they stand. Is there anything you can do please to alleviate this situation?”

Soho House, Dean Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“I need help with continual disturbance from the new members club, Soho House, 76 Dean Street. I have negotiated with them directly and also asked for help from the Westminster noise team. This has solved some problems but I am still unable to sleep at night because of noise disturbance which is prohibited by the terms of the licence (moving rubbish, receiving deliveries and disposing of bottles at unsociable hours). The licence is well structured and so long as it is enforced, the problems will go away. But if no one enforces the licence it is pointless having a licensing function.”

Broadwick Street Update

A resident tells us:

“I had a phone call today from the Highways Department, to say that they’ll shortly be working on the cobbles in Broadwick Street, to carry out the very necessary repairs. The call was prefaced, “You’ll be glad to hear this ..”. This would never have happened but for the Labour intervention!!! We’re supposed to have Councillors, and they have done absolutely nothing about what has become a truly dreadful and horribly dangerous surface. I am so very grateful, and I hope you will be able to include my thanks for this in your next report.”

Berwick Street Market 

Following a £1.1m makeover around 23 pitches are now available at Berwick Street Market.

There are opportunities for high-quality and unique first-time traders to apply to run a market stall, from one to six days a week, for as little as £10.61 a day.

This is an affordable way for young entrepreneurs and self-starters to road test their business ideas, in the heart of London.

Priority will be given to Westminster residents.

More information can be found online at https://www.westminster.gov.uk/westminster-hunt-unique-traders-join-soho%E2%80%99s-berwick-street-market or by contacting Ros Hick – rhick@westminster.gov.uk / 020 7641 1775

Broadwick Street toilets – what you say

“Those in Broadwick Street near me were actually closed, so that pub and cafe owners were inundated with people desperate to use their facilities. It appears that Westminster Council have farmed out the cleaning of public toilets to a firm who simply, from all accounts, do nothing.”

West End Ward Labour Action Report – June 2015

Westminster’s new vision for the West End is quiet on the commercial and housing pressures facing Soho and Chinatown

The West End Partnership, a Westminster Council-led project, has launched a major new report setting out its ‘Vision for 2030’. Described by the council as a 15 year project that could deliver £500 million in proposed improvements, the report includes a number of welcome schemes to improve the public realm and promote both Westminster and London as a whole.

However Westminster Labour Councillors believe that the proposed Vision for 2030 fails to fully address some of the challenges facing Soho and Chinatown, two of the West End’s most iconic areas.

Rising rents and commercial pressures are threatening the diversity of premises that make these important sections of the West End unique international attractions and vital parts of our city. As the ‘Save Soho’ campaign has articulated so well over recent months, Soho faces growing encroachment from high street firms that risk changing the character of the area for good, with local small businesses being priced or pushed out.

London’s Chinese Community have previously raised their concerns about the impact of rent rises and gentrification on the future viability of Chinatown, yet the challenges facing Chinatown are not mentioned in the documents.

At the same, the housing crisis is making it ever more difficult for those on modest incomes to live in the West End. The West End has never before been considered to be a place just for those with money. The Victorian philanthropists did not say to the poor that they only place they could be housed was miles away in ‘cheaper’ areas. George Peabody built homes for people on low incomes in Mayfair. In the first half of the 20th century Westminster and Marylebone Councils built homes for those on low incomes in the West End. More recently, from the 1970’s onwards, the Soho Housing Association and others have continued this enlightened policy of providing new homes for those of modest means all over the West End, many of whose residents work in local business and keep public services like schools, hospitals and the fire brigade working smoothly.

Add to this the imminent Government requirement for both Westminster and Camden Councils to sell off their most expensive Council flats as they become vacant in order to pay for the cost of allowing housing association tenants to buy their flats at a discount, and the future for the West End’s existing residents looks even more bleak.

Labour welcomes plans to build on the commercial potential of the West End and ensure business thrives in order to benefit local communities and the wider economy. But broad aspirations to increase the supply of commercial space across the wider West End do not fully address the challenges faced by Soho and Chinatown, where a market-led approach as set out in the report may not lead to results that are in the public interest. Westminster has a clear role to play as an influencer, landowner, planning and licensing authority to help protect the future of these areas.

Westminster Labour Group Leader Councillor Adam Hug said;

“A future vision of the West End that doesn’t fully address the challenges faced by small shops, restaurants, pubs and venues in Soho and Chinatown is a huge missed opportunity. These unique places are the beating heart of London and admired across the world. With rent rises and gentrification threatening to drive long standing businesses out of the area, Westminster needs to work with landowners and small business people to develop a long-term sustainable future for Chinatown and Soho.”

Labour’s Built Environment Spokesperson Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said;

Not only is the West End under threat from this proposed ‘forced sale’ of Council and Housing Association homes, but also from Westminster City Council’s continued policy of allowing new residential developments to ‘buy out’ of their obligation to provide on-site affordable housing. Over recent years the Council has been seduced by the one-way argument that by taking cash in lieu of on-site affordable housing in the West End it can provide extra housing elsewhere. This policy has reduced the supply of West End homes for those on low incomes from a trickle to a drought and reinforced the exclusivity of the West End residential market, pushing prices ever higher and slowly, but surely, destroying the West End as a living, breathing community open to all.”

Notes

While the word ‘diversity’ is used in the report a number of times but the only time rents are mentioned is in the context of a general desire to increase the supply of commercial space across the West End as set out in P12 of the report. Page 15 of the delivery plan notes a scheme to promote diverse business space but without any detail or projected programme cost (unlike other plans).

The only mention of housing is in the context of providing homes for West End workers. No mention is made of providing homes for the families of existing West End residents.


Leicester Square

We have made enquiries with the Council about this issue:

“When the Council refurbished Leicester Square they removed about four statues of well know people (e.g. Isaac Newton etc) who had lived in the area. In an article in the Evening Standard the Council said they would be replaced after ‘ restoration’. But there is still no sign of those statues which are very important. Could you ask the Council what they are doing about this and when they will be replaced please?”

Broadwick Street

We have contacted the Council about this issue:

“Last week I telephoned Westminster City Council and spoke to a young woman, describing in detail the frightful and dreadfully dangerous state of the cobbled surface, which in some places has actually sunk into hollows. This is all the more appalling as, since my phone call, various neighbours have telephoned or approached me further about the matter – one who cares for someone in a wheelchair told me that she has a clear view from her charge’s window of the length of Broadwick Street, and can see people tripping repeatedly.”

Oxford Street

Oxford Street is the most dangerous part of the country for pedestrians crossing the road, with three of the top 10 most dangerous crossings in the country, according to data released by the Department for Transport. Forty-five pedestrians have been left seriously injured after collisions with cars, buses and lorries at the three junctions along Oxford Street which attracts around 200million people a year. The intersection at Holles Street holds the record with 18 reported injuries between 2005 and 2013

The junction of Oxford Street with Davies Street has seen 15 reported cases while the intersection with Duke Street has had 12 reported injuries of pedestrians being hit by motorists in the eight-year period.

Research in 2011 by the Greater London Authority found that Oxford Street’s accident rate was 35 times the average for London Streets. Westminster borough saw 149 pedestrian deaths between 1999 and 2011, according to a BBC study.

West End Ward Labour Action Report – May 2015

Regent Street cinema re-opens

We are delighted that the Regent Street Cinema at 309 Regent Street has reopened!

The Cinema’s diverse programme features a selection of films that will cater to a variety of tastes.

The programme includes double-bills, classic films, fan favourites and undiscovered gems.

Visit the Regent Street Cinema website to view the full film schedule for May/June 2015 and to book tickets http://www.regentstreetcinema.com/

SohoCreate 2015

Some of the world’s leading creative people from the worlds of music, theatre, art, design, fashion and photography will return to London’s creative “square mile of Soho” for SohoCreate 2015.

The five-day festival, now in its second year, will run from 3-7 June and offer workshops, talks and discussions from leading creatives, including:

– Entrepreneur Jo Malone talks to Framestore’s founder Mike McGee
– Film Director Mike Figgis talks to Artist Jake Chapman
– Stephen Mangan talks about his creative journey with Phil Edgar Jones

Westminster residents can get an exclusive 10% off all tickets, full details on how to claim can be found here

West End Ward Labour Action Report – April 2015

Rathbone Street

Rathbone Hotel area
We have reported a particularly bad case of irresponsible driving which has resulted in the demolition of two bollards and a lamp post outside the Rathbone Hotel in Rathbone Street.

We have asked the Council to use any CCTV evidence to track down the driver responsible so that they can be required to pay the cost of replacing the damaged bollards, lamppost and pavements.

Broadwick Street – John Snow Pump

We have received this update from the Council:

“The John Snow Pump was removed temporarily to enable the space to prevent it being damaged while the area is used to service the development site on Broadwick Street. It is safely in storage at the moment and we are talking to the John Snow Society about the possible relocation of the pump to the site of the original cholera outbreak shown by a pink kerbstone on the opposite side of the street. This would involve a small piece of design work in order to accommodate it and we will begin that soon. In the meantime, the John Snow Society is working with the developer, Great Portland Estates to see how the pump and historical information might be represented on the building site hoarding.”

F zone parking

We have asked the Council to investigate locations for Respark spaces as there are currently 27 suspended Respark Bays. A resident tells us:

“Every night I come home I have to hunt for a space as our residents parking finishes at 8:30pm, Westminster Parking Services needs to be bring this up to date with the way the area has changed, and a proper review should be done.”

Pedicabs Update

The City Council say that they will continue to work with local MPs, TfL, the Metropolitan Police, London Councils and BIDs to try and secure new legislation to outlaw pedicabs in the new Parliament. TfL is looking at the possibility of a Private Member’s Bill in the next Parliament. That comes as a result of the Law Commission’s work and a joint submission from the City Council, TfL, the Metropolitan Police and New West End Company.

West End Ward Labour Action Report – March 2015

Wardour Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue

“There are sometimes 2-3 white vans parked for long periods in the very limited residents spaces on Wardour Street with notes on their dashboard. What is the policy on this? Where are residents meant to park if they are permitted to use resident bays?”

The Council told us:

“A maximum of 20 minutes is permitted for loading/unloading in residents’ bays, unless outside the bay’s controlled hours (some residents’ bays have set hours in which the restriction applies, whereas some have a 24/7 restriction), or an exemption applies, such as statutory (utility) or removal work (in which case, there is no limit). If vehicles are exceeding this time during controlled hours, without undertaking any exempted activity, they should receive Penalty Charge Notices”

Richmond Mews

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“I wonder if you could investigate illegal parking in Richmond Mews. It is understandable that during the building works being carried out in the news there will be some disruption but a few vehicles are regularly parked during the day, the evening and overnight blocking the mews and especially making it impossible to enter or exit garages. The mews is very narrow which is why there are double yellow lines. The parking wardens are obviously unaware that the mews needs constant surveillance as they have not been seen in the area for quite some time now. Please see what can be done.”

Pedestrian crossings at Regent Street/Gt Marlborough Street

We are continuing to urge the Council to take action on this issue:

“I witnessed a pedestrian nearly get knocked over by a motorcycle this week and this is a very common site at this intersection. Pedestrians cross in packs and do not pay any attention to the green man, and often they cross between cars without looking at traffic coming in from other directions. I appreciate it is a busy crossing but not much has being initiated with regard to safety. Drivers become frustrated as the crossing light is very short, often only two three cars manage to cross Regent Street after waiting for all the straggling pedestrians to get off the road. If the council of no intention of making this crossing safer with the newer pedestrian countdown lights, perhaps increasing the timing of the lights crossing Regent Street might be a simple solution? Are there in fact any plans for this intersection? It has been a few years since I was told it was finally being upgraded with the rest of Regent Street, but it seems this one intersection has been forgotten?”

West End Ward Labour Action Report – February 2015

Regent Street/Great Marlborough Street

We are chasing up this issue:

“The pedestrian crossing at Regent Street & Great Marlborough Street is a dangerous crossing and one which is frustrating for drivers. Roughly 50 metres back is the never ending zebra crossing in front of Liberty – is anything EVER going to be done at these dangerous crossings/intersections?”

Wardour Street

We have reported this issue to the Council:

“There is a bike on Wardour Street (outside Scribbler) which has been completely stripped of anything bar the frame itself, and driven over many times, yet it has been there for around one year. It is often knocked over, and frequently if an unknowing resident happens to park there, the bike gets knocked by pedestrians and I have seen several cars scratched deeply and dented by the sharp pole-top which the seat once sat on. Is it possible to have this removed?”

We contacted Environmental Action and they told us that a Westminster Warden will attend Wardour Street to establish the bike’s condition and investigate the circumstances. After completing the investigation, should the Warden consider the bike to be abandoned, they will attach a 48 hour warning sticker advising the owner to remove it. If the bike has not been removed after 48 hours the Warden will arrange for its removal.

The next day, the resident told us:

“Yes, I just saw the sticker on the bike! Amazing. Thank you.”

Parking in Soho

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Residents’ parking in Soho is scarce with so many suspensions for scaffolding/road works etc. In the past few months, I have seen more and more white vans/service vans park in a residents bay and leave a note on the dash while they are on the job. I am often driving around aimlessly for ages trying to park. When the driver is present, I have asked them to move to a single yellow. Occasionally they do, but more often than not, they argue that they are permitted to park in a residents’ bay for 20 minutes. Is there some way of monitoring this better?”

Tottenham Court Road

We are making enquiries with Camden Council following this enquiry:

“Do you know where traffic is proposed to go when Tottenham Court Road is pedestrianised if you want to go to Camden Town and return to Soho?”

West End Ward Labour Action Report – December 2014

Madame Jojo’s, Brewer Street

We have urged that Madame Jojo’s in Soho be allowed to re-open under new management after Westminster Council’s decision to revoke its licence following a serious assault by a member of staff. The incident that occurred at Madame Jojo’s was appalling and we support the police in their efforts to prosecute those involved. It would be inappropriate to let the current management continue to run the establishment. One bad incident, however, should not be used as a reason to continue the remorseless process of Soho gentrification. Madame Jojo’s is a Soho icon and these premises should not be turned into yet another chain restaurant. We support the reopening of the premises under the same licensing terms should another responsible owner wish to take over the running of Madame Jojo’s.

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

Charlotte Street

We have reported this to the Council:

“Rubbish was dumped here last Thursday, I reported it on Thursday lunchtime asking that inspectors find out and fine the dumper and fine them as this was dealt with by Camden council on their side earlier in the week. And here we are Monday and the rubbish is still here. Perhaps you can get this matter dealt with. It’s an eyesore and a fire risk”

Newman Street Post Office

Fitzrovia is to lose another post office with the announcement that a branch at 19 Newman Street is to close and there are plans afoot to open a beauty salon or late night club on the site. A notice displayed at the sub post office states: “Following the resignation of the Postmaster and the withdrawal of the premises for Post Office use the branch will close temporarily on 22 December 2014.” The notice goes on to apologise for the closure and says “we are seeking to restore a Post Office service in the area as soon as possible”. The post office is situated within a general store selling newspapers, magazines, stationery and foodstuffs.

Two other post offices are nearby, one in W H Smith’s at the Plaza Centre, 120 Oxford Street, and at 54-56 Great Portland Street. These are the only post offices serving Fitzrovia and customers have told Fitzovia News that these branches are often busy and with long queues. Another post office on the corner of Carburton Street and Great Portland Street closed several years ago. Earlier this year the Russell Square Post Office also closed.

There is a planning application pending to change the Newman Street premises to a beauty salon. There is also planning permission granted for a late night private members members club in the basement. But a recent licensing application seeks to expand the proposed club to include the ground floor and increase its capacity to 280 people.

Local community groups Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association and Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum have made objections to the increase in the club capacity. Westminster City Council will make a decision on the applications in early 2015.

West End Ward Labour Action Report – November 2014

Great Newport Street/Charing Cross Road

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

“Would it be possible to have somebody look into the depressingly early beer delivery that takes place every Monday morning at the Porcupine Pub (Nicholson’s), on the corner of Great Newport Street and Charing Cross Road? The crashing sound of full and empty beer barrels begins well before 6am and has been going on for years, and I simply don’t understand why it’s allowed. I appreciate that this particular junction does not afford easy parking for any truck wishing to unload, especially with the 24 bus stop so close to it, but surely there is room for some adjustment here: either have more regular deliveries with smaller trucks at a later hour, or move the delivery time to after 7am. If it was moved to after 7am on a Friday, this would coincide with another already regular noise disturbance of the large refuse bins of Sandringham Flats being wheeled out for collection. I’m willing to accept that it’s difficult to deliver beer without making some noise, but I don’t accept it has to be done before 6am every Monday.”

Dufours Place

Following enquiries from residents about a faulty fire alarm, we contacted the Head of Affordable and Private Sector Housing at the Council and he has arranged for officers from the Council’s Residential Environmental Health team to conduct a joint visit with officers from Soho Housing to Dufours Place. The visit will review the situation and try to identify potential solutions to the problems with the fire alarm system.

Public toilets

Following letters to the ‘West End Extra’ from local residents about the poor state of some public toilets we wrote to the Council to get action to tackle these problems. Residents wrote;

“The Great Marlborough Street/Carnaby Street gents has been closed for months and the toilets in Paddington Street Gardens are filthy, whereas they used to be kept in pristine condition”

and in respect of the Green Park tube station toilets,

“The company charge 50p for dirty, smelly, run-down public toilets which are a disgrace, especially considering the large number of tourists and visitors to this area of central London.”

The Council has told us;

“The cleaning and maintenance of the Westminster public conveniences is the sole responsibility of Carlisle Cleaning Services under the lease agreements entered into in 2012. Notwithstanding this, we are aware that standard of service being delivered by Carlisle has been inconsistent and often fallen short of the required standard. To this end, colleagues in our Street Management Team have also been monitoring the standard of the facilities to provide us with an independent check. We are currently working with the Carlisle management team to address the issues and to improve the standard of service being delivered. These meetings have been constructive and we expect to have an agreed action plan put in place that will include changes to the way the contract is currently being resourced, to drive an improvement in the quality of the service currently being delivered”

Rickshaws

We have asked the Council to update us on the action they are taking about this recurring issue;

“What can be done about the rickshaws in Covent Garden? It is with increasing frequency that we see them with engines on them. We know this because they are either going uphill without pedalling or speeding at 30 mph down King Street without pedalling. I have also seen rickshaws carrying up to five people, which makes them very unstable round corners. Indeed I have seen a family with two young children screaming as a rickshaw went onto two wheels round a corner at speed. Surely it is illegal to have a motorised form of transport and charge for travel? I realise that they work on a “donation system” but in actual fact, many times you hear them bartering for a fixed price before the journey takes place”

Junction of Regent Street and Great Marlborough Street – what you say

“I completely agree with the person who raised the traffic light problem at the junction of Regent Street and Great Marlborough Street. Actually, it’s wrong to blame the pedestrians – the lights themselves are out of sync, and pedestrians can see that the lights are red for the traffic whilst they’re also red for pedestrians, and simply get fed up with waiting. Meanwhile, the lights only turn green for traffic for such a short time that it’s amazing if more than one vehicle gets out into Regent Street at a time.”

West End Ward Labour Action Report – October 2014

Dufours Place

Residents at 7 Dufours Place have contacted us about concerns they have about the fire alarm in their block and we are making enquiries with Soho Housing Association.

Vale Royal House

We have made enquiries with City West Homes after receiving this enquiry;

“Imagine my surprise when coming home from work tonight to discover the access door from the lift to the podium level is blocked by a brick wall! I have spoken to several neighbours, both lessees and tenants, no-one has had any notice that this was to take place.”

City West Homes say;

“This situation steams from an issue with storage within the block. It was identified that electrical intake rooms were being used for storing cleaning equipment which was a great concern for health and safety. Items had to be removed from the intake rooms, and therefore additional storage had to be identified in order to allow the caretaker to clean the communal areas of Vale Royal House. Unfortunately no other facility was suitable for this use. A notice was placed on the door one week prior to work starting this week advising the door will be taken out of commission. On reflection it would have been better if all residents were written to prior to works commencing and asking if resident had any concerns with the proposal.”

Richmond Mews

We have reported this issue to the Council;

“The waste collection and cleansing of the mews are inadequate and I am shocked to discover that fly tipping appears to have begun. This is also outside the back door of Floridita restaurant and, because Westminster Council has granted planning permission for a large development which will see a club also backing onto this mews, the situation will only get worse. Can anything be done to increase the frequency of refuse collection and cleaning? Rats are already a hazard and with babies and young children in the block, the situation is unhygienic and even dangerous to health.”

West End Conservative Councillor advertises for ‘executive assistant’ to answer question from the public

The ‘West End Extra’ reports;

“A CONSERVATIVE councillor has come under fire for trying to employ an “executive assistant” to help carry out his duties at City Hall, including responding to questions from “the general public”.

Jonathan Glanz, who was elected to represent residents of the West End, is advertising for the full-time role on a recruitment website which is usually reserved for those working in the Houses of Parliament.

His assistant’s duties will include “responding to emails and letters” and “dealing with all correspondence in a sensitive and confidential manner,” according to the listing on not-for-profit site http://www.w4mp jobs.org.

Cllr Glanz, who is the director of property company 45West, is also employed as a consultant to advise the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) on the best way to sell former Met buildings, including the recent sale of dozens of axed police stations.

The job advertisement explained that the successful applicant would help Cllr Glanz with his “wide ranging political interests” and would need to “liaise with relevant groups / personnel both for Westminster City Council and MOPAC commitments, including liaison with outside organisations and the general public.”

One Westminster resident who spotted the advert wrote (see Letters) to the West End Extra: “Maybe I am old-fashioned but if I write to my local councillor I want a response from the person I elected not somebody hired to generate stock responses to me.” She asked: “Are we entering a culture where councillors no longer deign to undertake the work they were elected to do?”

Cllr Glanz said the assistant would be paid “significantly more” than the basic £9,000 a year allowance given to councillors, adding: “This is basically someone who is my assistant in my business, who will help to make my life do-able.

“Given that I devote a huge proportion of my time to public service in return for a very modest emolument, I am paying this out of my money.”

Asked if residents could expect a response from him personally, Cllr Glanz said: “They connect with me, whether I physically have the opportunity to put in the strokes on the keyboard, or whether somebody mechanics that on my behalf. They would only ever be dealing with me, because that’s my role. I don’t think it’s my role necessarily to tie myself to a computer screen and keyboard 24/7.”

He said: “Like everybody else I only have 24 hours in a day and people want, and now demand, a very prompt response. The councillors’ code of conduct gives you 10 working days to respond to a constituent query. I can tell you that in these days of email, constituents expect a response within 10 minutes. I think people have to be realistic as to how that can be achieved, given that people have other things that they are obliged to do.”

Westminster Council Labour group leader Paul Dimoldenberg said: “If Councillor Glanz is unable to do the job he should stand down and allow West End residents to chose someone else who is committed to putting residents first.”

Cllr Glanz was forced to resign as housing chief last year after comparing council tenants to champagne-swilling characters from the TV show Made in Chelsea.

West End Ward Action Report – September 2014

Regent Street/Great Marlborough Street

We are chasing up this outstanding issue;

“I was in touch over one year ago regarding the intersection of Regent Street & Great Marlborough Street. You informed me the pedestrian crossing was to be updated November 2013 with times crossing lights, unfortunately to date, nothing has changed and pedestrians are still crossing on a red man causing frequent congestion not to mention the danger. Is this hugely behind schedule and still going ahead or have plans for this intersection changed? The crossing in front of Liberty/Carnaby Street could do with a light as well as pedestrians are non-stop causing a back-log of cars the length of Great Marlborough Street on a daily basis. Is this under consideration as well?”

Romilly Street

The police have updated us on a successful operation last month;

“The operation delivered a huge blow to an embedded open drugs market which had caused disruption and fear to visitors, local residents and businesses in and around Romilly Street. A total of 13 persistent dealers were arrested either on the night or subsequently and only one of the identified dealers remains at large. He is now subject of a Trident led manhunt that will no doubt result in his arrest in due course. All the main targets were remanded in custody. A number of local residents and stakeholders were invited to the briefing and the delight on their faces was clear to see. Due to the nature of the operation, they were unaware of what was taking place until then, and it was clear that they thought we hadn’t listened to their concerns, and that the drug dealers were being allowed to operate with impunity. Since then, the feedback from them and others regarding the positive change to the area has been overwhelming. “

Endell Street and Long Acre, Covent Garden

We have asked the Council to investigate this long-standing problem;

“Please, please, please, can someone do something about the all night deliveries in Endell Street and Long Acre, Covent Garden, it goes on every night as often as four or five trucks. They stop, lower the rear hoist, wheel the cages out, bump them off the end and rumble up or down the road. We have called the noise team so often we are almost on first name basis. I understand that they can’t be everywhere, and that by the time they would get out to us the truck would be long gone. One neighbour videoed Zara’s getting a huge delivery at 1.30am, and as for Pret a Manger, I would gladly shoot that driver. He has one shop in Long Acre and the other in Shelton Street. This has been going on for years, but has escalated greatly over the last eighteen months. There is no such thing as a night’s sleep here, it really is heart-breaking.”

Maiden Lane

We asked the Council about this issue;

“Since The Big Easy Restaurant at 12 Maiden Lane in Covent Garden put it their air conditioning units they have run at 10 decibels over background noise for 18 hours a day for the past six months. We have made a complaint to the Westminster Noise Team but have been told that the restaurant is applying for retrospective planning permission to allow them to operate at this volume. If this is granted it will increase the background noise level in the area. As it is for these 18 hours a day all we can hear is a loud whooshing noise. I would be grateful if you would look into this and see if there is anything that can be done to prevent this extra noise pollution.”

The Council told us;

“The Noise team have served an abatement notice on the air handling units and we have also put in an objection to the Planning application. We are awaiting the outcome of the planning process before we look at any formal action. Incidentally we have also served a notice on these premises for loud music and we set a sound limiter there last week, so we are on top of this generally.”

Call to Health Trust to reverse plans to close Soho Square General Practice

Labour Councillors are calling on Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust to reverse its decision to close the Soho Square General Practice. In a letter to the Trust Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg writes;

“The surgery’s imminent closure in September is of deep concern to local residents. As you know the surgery has over 4,500 patients and is a valuable asset to the community. Many patients who attend this surgery have serious illnesses, and many are elderly. For these patients the prospect of relocating to another surgery, with doctors whom they not familiar is a very difficult and daunting task which could cause a serve amount of stress.

A resident who contacted me has an illness which means she is home bound and cannot attend the surgery for appointments. The two doctors at Soho Square General Practice currently make home visits, however it is very unlikely that another surgery will cater for this. There are also concerns with patients not being able to attend the new surgeries to register with them, therefore being left without a doctor.

These concerns are made even more severe when you take into account the Chinese community that this surgery serves. Many of these patients do not speak English as a first language and having doctors who speak Chinese and Mandarin at the surgery is a lifeline for many people within the community.

I have been informed that residents were not consulted on the closure of this surgery and many have not been formally written to, having to hear the news through the local press. The impact of the surgery’s closure on local people will be extensive and the fact local patients have not been able to put forward their views is a total disgrace.

Following this letter I would be grateful if you could get back to me explaining your decision to close the surgery, and outlining what you will be doing to help the many patients badly affected by this closure.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Opposition
Queen’s Park Ward

Patients’ shock as GP surgeries in Soho Square and Paddington face the axe

THe ‘West End Extra’ reports;

SENIOR NHS staff were grilled by council health chiefs this week after it emerged three Westminster GP surgeries are facing closure.

More than 10,000 patients at Soho Square General Practice, and West Two Health and Milne House Medical Centre, both in Paddington, could be distributed between existing surgeries when funding is cut.

Cllr David Harvey, who led the council’s health scrutiny committee on Wednesday night, said: “We are particularly concerned for elderly and vulnerable residents, in many cases frail, who will find the idea of a new GP daunting.”

He demanded the NHS set up a “taskforce” to give the thousands of patients “a secure answer as soon as possible, and if needs be, to be hands-on in getting them to meet a new GP”.

Doctors in Soho Square only discovered their surgery was to be axed when staff at a neighbouring practice said they had been approached by the NHS and asked if they had room to take extra patients.

An alliance of residents’ groups in the West End – including the Soho Society, Covent Garden Community Association, Westminster LGBT Forum and the Chinese Community Centre – have arranged an emergency meeting to “discuss how best to contest the withdrawal of this vital community service”. They also demanded an NHS representative attend to answer patients’ questions at Soho Parish School on Thursday.

The Central London Community Healthcare Trust (CLCH) – a local arm of the NHS that finances Soho Square and Milne House – confirmed this week that they will cut funding to both in September.

At the same time, Nicola Langdon, the sole doctor at West Two Health, has chosen to retire and sell her office.

Responsibility for all the affected patients will then fall to the overarching healthcare body, NHS England, who have said they are considering all possible options, including closing the practices and dividing the 10,000 patients between existing surgeries. They have promised to consult all patients on the options.

Leslie Hardcastle, the chairman of the Soho Society, said there was widespread concern about what level of service will replace the surgery and said the two doctors, Stephen Chee-Kin Cheung and Louis Daniel Brassey, were “very popular”. He added: “We would like them to continue, they give a good service and breaking that up is a very worrying thing.”

Christine Yau, chairwoman of the Chinese Community Centre in Gerrard Street, raised concerns about healthcare for the area’s large Chinese community.

“You can imagine the impact, 40 per cent of the patients are Chinese speakers and a lot of them are elderly people,” she added.

“It is such a blessing to have Dr Cheung there.”

A spokesman for CLCH said: “As part of our routine business planning, we have decided that we no longer wish to provide this service and we have, therefore, given notice, as required.

“We will continue to run a wide range of other community services at Soho, including the popular Walk-in Centre.”

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “We are looking at existing GP services in the area, to establish the viability of either re-procuring the contracts or dispersing the patient list, and reinvesting into existing primary care services.

“NHS England has made no formal decision about the future of these services.”

A meeting will be held at Soho Parish School in Great Windmill Street on Thursday, July 3 at 6.30pm, for patients of the Soho Square surgery.

Poland Street

We have reported the following long-standing issue to the Council;

“For innumerable years the surface of a large section of Poland Street, where pedestrians have to cross an entrance to a garage, has been a matter of dispute between the garage itself and Westminster City Council. This surface is so dangerous that mothers with babies in buggies go out into the traffic because, as one told me, when she tried to cross the wrecked surface the buggy tipped over and nearly injured her child. People in wheelchairs have to use the road too, also going into the traffic – a friend of mine has the tyres ripped from the wheelchair he pushes for someone he cares for. People like me, who depend on shopping trollies to help them walk, cannot cross the surface – it is a cratered, potholed deathtrap. We all have to go into the path of traffic. Conservative Councillors promised that this surface would be repaired after the development which closed Poland Street a couple of years ago but nothing ever happened.”

Reduced police presence will be a ‘nightmare’ for Soho

Letter to the West End Extra – 11 April, 2014

“OF all that has been lost and changed in Soho what truly alarms me is the virtual disappearance of uniformed police from our streets.

Years ago, when I was young and the late Canon John Hester was Rector of St Anne’s, he told me that despite its reputation Soho, where I’d grown up, was in fact one of the safest areas in London.

He was right and he based his assurance on the high level of policing. The police lived among us, they were part of our community, and I met young constables who attended St Anne’s confirmation classes.

Those days are sadly long gone but from the time the Soho Safer Neighbourhoods Team was set up in Peter Street officers there did the most wonderful work.

They got to know residents, establishing such good relations that we felt we could turn to them not only in an emergency but for advice which might prevent trouble occurring, and on many occasions their swift action prompted me (among others) to write to the Metropolitan Police Service praising their invaluable help.

Now the team, already badly depleted, is being moved to Charing Cross.

This will leave us without any police presence actually located in Soho – a prospect which many of us regard as a nightmare.

I’ve found from research that even before World War II Vine Street, off Regent Street and serving our area, was the busiest police station in the world, and West End Central in Savile Row was built to help cope with the demand. Is anyone seriously suggesting that Soho is less busy now and needs less policing, than it did more than 70 years ago?

The MPS may be making cuts, but this is a cut too far.

It will affect everyone’s safety, residents, those who work here, and visitors, and I beg councillors – of all parties – to unite on our behalf and make representations to the MPS that a police team in our midst must be retained.

ALIDA BAXTER
Broadwick Street, W1″

West End Ward Labour Action Team Report – March 2014

North Row

We have reported the following problems to the Council;

“Primark has deliveries throughout the day and early evening whereby there are men offloading entire lorries by hand and throwing larger cartons across the sidewalk to the rolling shelve. Many times there is no one supervising the men to tell them a pedestrian is approaching in order for then to halt their operation. This is both dangerous and quite a nuisance for local residents. Also, Primark staff should not be allowed to use North Row for their cigarette breaks. The butts along with food wrappers are unsightly.”

West End residents oppose Government plan to change the law to allow flats to become short-term holiday lets

Residents in Westminster have told us that they are opposed to the Government plan to change the law to allow flats to become short-term holiday lets. Here are some of the comments we have received from West End residents;

“The blocks of flats that we live in are our HOMES and short lets deplete the quality of life for residents. There are also security and safety issues – never knowing who will be living beside you, who you will meet in the lift, who has a key etc. It will be a serious threat to our right to live in quiet enjoyment. There are also wear and tear issues on the building, meaning that lessees will have to pay more in service charges potentially. It will make blocks of flats very difficult to manage effectively by residents or their managing agents.”

“Kris Hopkins, Housing Minister, seems to want to scrap the short let legislation applying to London. I think this would be disastrous and would encourage second home owners or landlords with flats or houses to effectively start competing with hotels and the nature of London ‘village communities’ would change. People would be transient with no sense of community and no particular desire to look after our heritage. “

Residents demand response from ‘arrogant’ Westminster Council over Soho demolition decision

The ‘West End Extra’ reports;

“CITY Hall chiefs faced a backlash from residents’ groups across Westminster this week in response to an open letter printed in the West End Extra.

Soho resident Andrew Murray had written to the council’s deputy leader Robert Davis asking for clarification on the decision to allow several buildings in Soho to be demolished and replaced with glass-fronted restaurants and bars.

In his open letter last month, Mr Murray called for Cllr Davis to reveal the reasoning behind the controversial decision in Walkers Court.

He said: “What bothers people most is the complete lack of trans­parency and democratic accountability.”

Instead of replying with a public letter, as is customary, Cllr Davis wrote directly to Mr Murray. Dissatisfied with the response, Mr Murray wrote another letter in the West End Extra last week.

Residents from Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Paddington and Soho are now demanding that Cllr Davis provide a complete and public response to Mr Murray’s concerns http://www.westendextra.com/letters/2014/feb/letters-council-merely-being-arrogant-over-action-plan-soho

Paddington resident Abby Jan Dharamsey, who chairs Westminster Council Estates’ Residents Group,

said: “Surely, the conscientious, concerned and affected readers should be afforded an opportunity to read this and decide if there

was adequate ‘transparency’ from the elusive deputy leader.”

Ron Whelan, who chairs the Mayfair Residents Group, said: “We in Mayfair have also experienced the arrogance of Cllr Davis and his like-minded colleagues, most recently with regard to the approval of mega basement development schemes, which are potentially disastrous for nearby home owners.”

He added: “One could be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that Westminster Council no longer cares about the residents of the West End, and is purely concerned with maximis­ing business revenues – no matter what the social cost might be.”

http://www.westendextra.com/letters/2014/feb/letters-we-want-west-end-not-watford

Cllr Davis did not respond to requests by the West End Extra to comment.”

Jimi Hendrix’s Mayfair flat to become museum

hendrix house

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix’s Mayfair flat, which he described as “the only home I ever had”, is set to become a museum.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced a £1.2m grant to reinstate Hendrix’s flat on 23 Brook Street to a create a new exhibition space, learning studio and set up volunteer and education programme covering Hendrix’s legacy as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

The premise is currently being used as the museum’s administrative office.

Called the Handel Project, the initiative will also highlight the life of Hendrix’s next-door neighbour and German composer George Frideric Handel, who had lived at number 25.

Wesley Kerr, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund London Committee, said:

“The Handel House Museum is one of the most precious and evocative places in London. To visit the beautifully restored home where one of history’s greatest composers lived and invented some of the finest music ever written is already pure joy.

“We are delighted that this award will enhance the spaces for volunteers and staff. It will also make available to visitors the neighbouring flat where Jimi Hendrix – another extraordinary musical émigré from a more recent era – found inspiration and happiness – transcending musical boundaries in the heyday of rock and roll. The two spaces together will be greater than the sum of their parts, and I’m sure that the excellent Handel House team will use the new rooms and themes and circulation routes creatively.”

Apollo Theatre: Almost half fire stations that sent engines set to close

Three of the eight fire stations that sent engines to the Apollo Theatre last night are set to close in less than three weeks.

Westminster, Knightsbridge and Southwark fire stations, whose teams attended the Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse last night, will now close on 9 January 2014 under proposals from the Mayor’s office to close 10 fire stations in London.

The now-confirmed plans for cuts to London’s fire services will see the loss of more than 500 fire brigade posts in London, in a bid to save £28.8m over two years.

Seven London councils that will be impacted by the cuts brought the legal challenge in a bid to stop the plans.

Following a long-running dispute over the cuts, Boris Johnson said in September, when the proposals were approved: “Ensuring that London’s fire service is financially stable and keeping Londoners safe are my top priorities.”

More Fitzrovia offices to become luxury flats

The ‘Fitzrovia News’ reports;

“The PR firm Freud Communications looks set to say farewell to its long-time home on Newman Street after Westminster council gave permission for the office block to be converted into 23 luxury flats. A planning application submitted by Newman Street Ltd was approved at Tuesday’s planning application committee which was chaired by deputy council leader Robert Davis.

In 2012 Matthew Freud owner of the company spent £22m buying the freehold interest in the PR group’s Newman Street headquarters, reported PR Week. The property is held by Newman Street Ltd a subsidiary of Freud (Holdings) Ltd and was subsequently valued at £30m in the company’s latest published accounts.

The PR company on leaving Newman Street will take advantage to the high price of land in Fitzrovia. Unlike other media companies including including Saatchi & Saatchi who are leaving the district, which is known for its media industry, Freuds are not being priced out or pushed out. Instead the successful Freud has cashed-in and will profit handsomely from having acquired the freehold and then quickly increased the value of the building by securing planning permission for apartments which will be within five minutes walk of the future Dean Street entrance of Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station.

Only a couple of weeks ago Westminster council also gave similar permission for BBC Worldwide offices in nearby Foley Street to be converted to flats.

Bit by bit office premises in Fitzrovia are being replaced by luxury apartments, a trend that is unlikely to halt anytime soon.

Westminster’s planning officer in a report to the committee had recommended “refuse permission” because of an absence of on-site affordable housing contrary to policy and lack of parking. Newman Street Ltd is not providing any affordable housing on-site, and was only offering £1.5m towards Westminster’s affordable housing fund.

However, after discussing the plans the committee said the proposals would be acceptable provided a “policy compliant” payment of £4.3m was paid to the council’s affordable housing fund. The committee agreed to approve the plans subject to this payment and the applicants making suitable arrangements for residents’ parking.

Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association had raised concerns about lack of affordable housing. This was also a concern of the Charlotte Street Association who also lodged an objection about the loss of the office which they said would damage the economic vitality of the district.

“For its economic well-being Fitzrovia requires a wide range of office space in terms of size and quality ranging from the modern highly serviced space to older and poorly serviced and cheaper space. The latter being potentially suitable for SMEs which play such an important role in the economic activity in the area, its vitality, and the range of employment and opportunity,” warned Max Neufeld of the Charlotte Street Association.

Neufeld argued that Westminster’s planning policy is not giving any protection to this type of building which is “under threat since it is the most profitable to change from office to residential.”

Westminster’s core strategy states: “Offices are supported as an important use within Westminster. However, because of the unique market pressures for office floorspace and long-term stability in provision, it is not considered necessary to provide a specific policy to protect offices,” (page 82 Westminster Core Strategy 2011).

But as times change, market forces are favouring flats over business uses.

“It is hard to understand why Westminster council sought exemption from the recent amendments to the General Permitted Development Order as the continued employment use of this building in the core Central Area Zone is not protected,” questioned Neufeld.

It is not known where or when Freud Communications will move. Fitzrovia News has not asked them to comment.”

West End Councillor airbrushed out of existence by the Conservatives

West End Councillor Frixos Tombolis has been airbrushed out of existence by his Party in a move more associated with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Councillor Tombolis, who has fled his troubled West End ward for Maida Vale ward (where two of the existing Conservative Councillors, Alastair Moss and Lee Rowley have already signalled their intention to abandon the ward) has been removed from the Conservatives’ website and has been replaced by a Tory hopeful.

http://www.westminsterconservatives.com/your-west-end-councillors.html

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“Why have the Conservatives removed Councillor Tombolis from their website? The last time I looked, Frixos was alive and well. Why have the Conservatives airbrushed one of their Councillors out of the picture? What has he done wrong? Is this their retribution for his decision to abandon the West End for Maida Vale? Whatever the reason, this is a mean-minded way to treat a long-serving Councillor. No wonder the Conservatives are the Nasty Party. “

STOP PRESS – Councillor Tombolis has been found alive and well and has been restored to the West End Conservatives’ website

http://www.westminsterconservatives.com/your-west-end-councillors.html

West End residents will be “hanging out the bunting” following the resignation of Jonathan Glanz

The ‘Wood & Vale’ reports;

“West End residents will be “hanging out the bunting today” following the resignation of the Westminster housing chief who compared social housing tenants to the cast of Made in Chelsea.

Cllr Jonathan Glanz created uproar after writing a piece on the Conservative Home website, which claimed the “fortunes” of social housing tenants living in the West End ward were not that dissimilar to those of someone with a trust fund.

In the article, published on October 3, Cllr Glanz wrote: “Trust funds are often associated with the Made in Chelsea brigade, the young people portrayed in the ITV television series who spend their days dining out and sipping champagne on London’s King’s Road.

“It may be a stretch but in some ways, their fortunes are not entirely dissimilar to some of the benefits enjoyed by social housing tenants in some of country’s most expensive areas.”

His words angered many, and this weekend the West End ward councillor found his blog plastered across a number of national newspaper websites.

It has led to Cllr Philippa Roe, leader of Westminster Council, announcing his resignation from his cabinet role.

“I recognise that in Cllr Glanz’s recent article about social housing tenants, his intention was to raise a serious point about the cost of housing in central London but I also recognise that his comments, as reported, may have caused offence,” she said.

“In light of this, both Cllr Glanz and I have agreed that he will step aside from his position as cabinet member for housing and property. During his tenure as cabinet member, Cllr Glanz has championed mixed communities in Westminster, a place where 25 per cent of our housing is in the social sector, and he has actively delivered on the council’s vision to provide ladders of opportunities to people from all backgrounds through our extensive neighbourhood renewal programme. “

The decision has been welcomed by Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster’s Labour opposition, who said: “I think they will be hanging out the bunting in the West End today.”

Chinatown shutdown over ‘racist raids’

“Chinatown business leaders have demanded talks with the Home Office, claiming they are being unfairly targeted by immigration officers.

Almost every Chinese restaurant and shop in Soho closed for two hours on Tuesday afternoon in protest against raids targeting illegal workers by border control officers.

Staff in the neighbourhood held a demonstration and called for an end to “racist raids”.

The protest came in response to 13 raids carried out over the summer. Lawrence Cheng, secretary general of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, which organised the protest, said he could not rule out a similar shutdown if their concerns are not addressed.

Mr Cheng said: “Shutting down costs a lot of money but feeling among businesses here is very strong. Everybody should make sure they are employing workers legally, but we feel our voices aren’t being heard.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said talks are due to be held with Chinatown business leaders next month, and that the recent raids were “intelligence-led”.

She said there had been several arrests for immigration offences, without revealing exact figures”

Westminster Housing Cabinet member attacks his own constituents……again

Westminster Council’s Housing Cabinet member Jonathan Glanz has compared his West End social housing constituents with “the Made in Chelsea brigade, the young people portrayed in the ITV television series who spend their days dining out and sipping champagne on London’s King’s Road” because of “ the benefits enjoyed by social housing tenants in some of country’s most expensive areas”. Councillor Glanz also criticizes “long-term tenants’ right to pass their tenancy on to their children”.

In an article on the Conservative Home website, Councillor Glanz claims that “some social housing properties in Westminster and other central London boroughs are valued at upwards of £2 million” and that “purchasing a property for £2m would likely require:

• Capital in the form of a deposit of around 10% (£200,000)
• An annual household income of £515,000 in order to service the mortgage costs, or
• A Trust Fund in the region of £12-15m, with a generous annual return of around 4-5%”

In November 2012, according to the ‘Evening Standard’, Councillor Glanz complained that residents’ associations in the West End are not representative of people living there and are in danger of creating a “hollowed out” area because of their complaints about noise and night life and that local committees tend to be run by older people and long-time residents who are resistant to change and the 24-hour culture of life in central London.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“Councillor Glanz obviously does not like his West End social housing constituents or those who run residents’ associations and he would rather they lived somewhere elsewhere else that befits their low incomes. It would be a lot easier and simpler if he stood down from the Council so that someone with a shred of commonsense can represent all West End residents, rich and poor and those in the middle.”

http://www.conservativehome.com/localgovernment/2013/10/trust-funds-for-social-tenants-the-true-cost-of-central-london-council-housing-2.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/nimby-locals-are-stifling-the-real-west-end-says-councillor-8328345.html

West End Ward Action Report – September 2013

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that Vital Ingredient in Berwick Street is having its delivery from 11.30pm to midnight. It’s a really BIG refrigerated truck and they run the engine while the delivery takes place and it makes a lot of noise. It’s also parked on a double yellow line and the motorcycle bay. I’m not sure if this is a parking thing or a noise thing. I just want the noise to stop.”

Broadwick Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the late night noise and pavement obstruction outside the Blue Posts pub.

HMV – 363 Oxford Street

HMV is to return to its original 363 Oxford Street store. The historic store was first opened by Sir Edward Elgar in July 1921, and shaped the way people bought music for nearly a century. In 1962 it played a significant role in the career of The Beatles, when a 78 rpm demo disc of the band was cut in the store’s recording studio – and this led to The Beatles’ long-term recording contract with EMI. A plaque was unveiled by The Beatles’ producer, Sir George Martin, on 26th April 2000. The new store at 363 Oxford Street is due to open in early October 2013 and will feature a recreation of the store’s iconic 1950s His Master’s Voice neon signage.

Reporting environmental problems

We have sent this suggestion to the Council who say that they will consider it;

“Has Westminster considered having an app for reporting environmental concerns? I have just spent 20 mins reporting a noise thing repeating my address 3 times, the well intentioned person on the phone had no idea of any of the local geography and was clearly thrown by the idea that a street could be called “Duck Lane” by the time they had filled in endless on line forms the noise had stopped. All of it would be much simpler from an app, enter your details once, record the problem if its noise or take a pic if its rubbish and then upload it with position information added.”

Sandringham Court – what you say

“I would just add that I sympathise totally with the remarks about a bin for Sandringham Court in Dufours Place – the Council’s attitude is astonishing, particularly as they are currently ignoring detritus of all kinds outside the back of some premises in Dufours Place, and this rubbish is precisely the kind most likely to encourage vermin.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group

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3 Responses to West End Ward

  1. Pingback: It couldn’t happen here – could it? – stateofsoho

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