West End Ward

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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