Westminster South Labour Action Reports

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – NOVEMBER 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolphin Square

Following proposals to demolish parts of Dolphin Square residents have set up a Dolphin Square Preservation Society with the following aims:

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

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

If you would like to know more, please let us know and we will pass on your details to the Dolphin Square Preservation Society.

Schomberg House, Page Street

We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate a number of flats in Schomberg House which residents believe are being used as unauthorised short-term lets.

We have also asked City West Homes’ letting agency to ensure that leasehold flats are not let out on AirBnB and other holiday letting web sites.

We have asked City West Homes and the Council to investigate residents’ concerns about drug dealing in the basketball court behind Schomberg House. City West Homes say:

“We will be sending a witness appeal letter to Schomberg House advising residents how and who they should be reporting any drug related activities to, requesting they provide as much detail as possible. This will also give us the opportunity to assure residents that we are aware of the issues and are working hard to tackle these problems.” 

Broadwick Street, Soho

We are supporting residents who are opposed to the planning application for National Magazine House, 72 Broadwick Street. Residents say: 

“The proposed scheme does not offer any improvement to the existing situation, both in terms of mixed and balanced communities (social structure, income, and tenure) and quality of the housing. We cannot stress the utmost importance to provide and protect long-term rental units in the Soho area, especially for local families. However, the proposed scheme for the National Magazine House results in:

  • The loss of 2 long-term rental units in Soho for households unable to afford a million+ pounds flat nor qualify for existing housing policies. There is an important income gap between the low end and the upper end of the “affluent residents” (above £90k+); and it is thus necessary to protect existing residential units in order to prevent cumulative impacts on housing availability and affordability.
  • The loss of the existing amenities of the residential area – i.e. a communal space, the private terraces, the top-floor location – which constitutes a major drawback in Soho and in the West End areas, especially for elderly people and local young families.”

We have objected to the planning application.

Lupus Street

We have reported a derelict BT box to the Council:

“I believe this piece of junk, was left by BT after they decommissioned it. With one door off and the other left open, it has now become a litter bin. It’s by the shop side of Lupus Street, by the zebra crossing. BT should be ordered to remove it and make good the paving”

Newson’s Timber Yard, Pimlico Road

We are very disappopinted that Newson’s Timber Yard, the oldest surviving timber yard in the UK faces closure after the High Court ruled the site could be developed into luxury flats. Last year Grosvenor Estate submitted plans to turn the site into seven apartments and four commercial units. The proposal was approved by Westminster City Council but was challenged by objectors in the courts. The High Court upheld Westminster City Council’s decision to approve planning permission. Councillor Jason Williams, who represents Labour in the Churchill Ward said:

“We’re very disappointed the High Court have come to this decision. Local residents are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the timber yard, it is not right that their objections have not been taken into account.”

Clarion House, Moreton Place

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

“For some time now, there have been a number of incidences of random dumping of materials both inside and alongside our communal refuse bin. This is a bin hired for the sole use of Clarion House residents and is sited on our private driveway. It is for Clarion House residents only. The bin is unlocked and therefore we cannot police who is using it from the surrounding area. We did at one point have a bin key for residents use but the bin was replaced. 

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

The Council say:

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

Churchill Gardens

We have asked City West Homes to take action on this issue: 

“In front of Gilbert and Sullivan houses on the Churchill Gardens estate there is a pleasant grassed area. However, non residents from the surrounding roads have taken to using the area as a dog loo and it is becoming a health hazard. It would be appreciated by residents of the two blocks if No Dogs signs could be put there.”

Underground noise 

We have contacted Transport for London about noise from the Underground tracks. Residents in Belgravia say:

“The issue is a serious increase in noise from the underground resonating into peoples houses which are affected. This relates to Bourne Street, Ebury Street and Eaton Terrace. They occasionally grind the rails and have fixed the waterlogged track between Sloane Square and Victoria on the District line. Grinding simply brings short term relief for a few weeks and then the noise increases and the vibrations go hand in hand with the noise and rumbles within the properties. They come circa once a year to take readings which are currently in the mid 50s decibels and the World Health recommendation is no more than 40.”

North West House, Marylebone Road

We are delighted that the planning application to demolish North West House and build a much larger building has been withdrawn. Residents say:

“We’ve won!!! No demolition and no new taller building!!!  Truly a big thank you to you – you really helped us in understanding what we were up against and in guiding us how to fight this development. We all really appreciate your help. We’ve learnt that WELPUT has leased the building to WeWork. We believe that they’re investing £9 million into refurbishing the building and that the target date for opening as a working building is March 2018.  Hence the internal work going on now.

None of this would have been possible without everybody doing their bit – so a HUGE THANK YOU.   Everyone has really helped in myriad different ways to create an effective opposition: ideas, contacts, passing the word, arranging meetings, leaflet drops, organising a professional written objection on behalf of all of us, giving money to fund the letter, making time for planning inspections and meetings and most importantly writing the 110 objection letters.  It really proves the power and kindness of our local community.” 

Park Crescent, Marylebone

We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate this issue:

“I am a resident of 22 Park Crescent, which as you will know is currently undergoing redevelopment. The noise is of course appalling but the current contractors consistently overrun their working hours. Yesterday it was 1810 instead of 1800 finish time, today it is 1830 and they are still working, with a lot of noise to boot.  When I object they cite an ‘unforeseen emergency’ but these happen with an unacceptable frequency and of course there is no way for the residents to know the real cause. The work takes place 0800 to 1800 Mon to Fri and 0800 to 1300 Saturday so the quiet time in our homes is scant enough. The noise is affecting my mental health and peace of mind and I ask you to ask them to stick to their working hours.”

Garrick Street, Covent Garden

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live in Garrick Street next to the Lamb and Flag pub. The huge number of clients in this small alley way is a big problem. Can you put me in touch with someone with whom I could discuss the situation?”

The Council say:

“The current licence requires that the outside area of the premises is vacated by 23:00 hours and that no drinks are allowed to be taken outside after 22:45. The City Inspectors have already been able to visit the premises and spoken with manager. They have acknowledged this problem and will monitor the area more often and add additional signage. The premises will be added to our bi-weekly tasking system, which means that inspections will take place over the coming weeks to ensure appropriate action has been put in place.”

Martlett Court, Covent Garden 

We have asked the Council to remove dumped cardboard boxes from Martlettt Court and take action against the shop in King Street where the boxes were delivered.

Mason’s Yard, St James’s

We are supporting residents’ concerns about the proposal for a renewal of a sexual entertainment venue at 13 Mason’s Yard. The Council say:

“Scotch St James have a premises licence which allows them to sell alcohol and provide entertainment, they also have a sexual entertainment venue licence (that allows striptease) which runs alongside the premises licence.  For reassurance, it is not a new licence nor a new company trading at the premises.  They have had this licence for a number of years however currently choose not to use the sexual entertainment licence.”

Praed Street, Paddington

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

“One area that continues to remain poor is Praed Street Black Cab situation. There has been for some time more traffic warden which completely stopped the issue while they were there – but it seems we are back to normal with Praed Street is an idling polluting taxi rank. Is there any more push to the council to revisit what they can do to tackle the problem? Could Paddington station or the Hilton hotel do more to help?”

Stanhope Terrace, Hyde Park

We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate two properties in Stanhope Terrace after receiving this message from a resident:

“I thought at first that the white plastic/mdf cappings and door surrounds were designed to protect the rather lovely stone underneath, but it has become clear that this is the finished product. This is just incompetence verging on vandalism. Surely this is unacceptable to Westminster Planning/Building Control.”

Rough sleepers

We have asked the Council to give assistance to a number of rough sleepers in Wardour Mews, Market Place and Cranbourne Street. The Council has advised that any referrals go to street.concern@mungos.org particularly if it is out of hours in order to ensure the rough sleeper is met as quickly as possible.

Westminster Handyperson Service

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

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

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

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

What works are not covered?

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

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

Tackling polluted air – Mayor introduces the T-charge

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

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

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

Call for halt to further Metropolitan Police cuts

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

The petition to the Government says:

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

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

London Living Wage

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

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

Planning Committee meetings – what you say

“We especially commend you on the issue of the planning meetings where for several years we have lobbied to allow the public to have a say. Why on earth they have never listened beggars belief as far as we and many of the other Westminster amenity societies are concerned. “

What you say

“Many thanks for all your work which seems to have been even more than usual this time round.”

“All you say in this newsletter is good and commonsense”

“Keep up the good work!”

“Thank you so much for putting the link up to the North West House planning application on your Labour newsletter.  That was very kind. Also, excellent plan to get local representation at WCC planning meetings.”

“You do a great job for us!”

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

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – OCTOBER 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildlife Meadow Garden, Churchill Gardens 

We have asked City West Homes to investigate to take action to stop further vandalism at the Wildlife Meadow Garden. We have also asked for improved fencing at the site. Residents say:

“It is appalling and distressing behaviour of some residents. I urge that the fence along the south wall of the Garden where individuals climb over resulting in regular damage at that point be installed. This is not the first time requested” 

Churchill Gardens parking

We have written to CityWest Homes to ask for a review of parking regulations on the Churchill Gardens Estate. We have seen increasing complaints from residents about parking on the estate. There are concerns that permits are not being checked, leading to congestion on the roads and vehicles parking without a permit. Parking on the estate continues to be a cause of concern for residents and we hope CityWest Homes can reassure residents that these concerns are being taken seriously and measures taken to ensure fair parking for all.

Chelsea Bridge Road

We have written to the Deputy Mayor for Transport, seeking an urgent review of the Chelsea Bridge Road/Grosvenor Road junction following the fatal collision involving a cyclist. We want TfL to carry out a review of the junction to see what lessons can be learnt and how the junction can be made safer for cyclists and other road users.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/female-cyclist-36-killed-after-being-hit-by-lorry-on-chelsea-bridge-a3645146.html

Lupus Street 

We are supporting local business which have lost trade due to the road resurfacing. Residents say:

“Everyone is aware of the need to carry out this work, but not at the cost to business its caused, shops are reporting up to a third drop in earnings, as foot fall has dropped, caused by the impediments, such as barriers and the like barring pedestrians from easily crossing the street; the loss of vehicle and bus traffic, experienced by both visitors and locals alike. Might I suggest one month’s business rates reduction for all the shops along this part of Lupus Street, both sides, from Hair Trendy along and to the dry cleaners on the other side.” 

Holcroft Court 

We have asked City West Homes to clear the secondary means of escape areas along balconies, following representations from residents.

North West House, Marylebone Road

The proposed demolition and redevelopment of North West House at 119-127 Marylebone Road has met with strong local opposition.  Over 108 objections have been sent to the Council, who are yet to determine the application 17/05218/FULL/PP-06043175.  You can review the plans and have your say here.

Piccadilly

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

Is there any way to create a pedestrian light in front of the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly, as it is a most dangerous crossing?” 

The Council say:

“A scheme is being designed at this junction which includes upgrading the existing road layout and the traffic signals so that a pedestrian ‘green man’ phase is included, which will provide safer facilities at this junction. Subject to the results of the investigation, traffic order consultation and funding, the City Council is proposing to implement the scheme in 2018”

Page Street estate

We have asked City West Homes and the Council to investigate residents’ concerns about drug dealing in the basketball court behind Schomberg House and concerns that a flat in Abady House is being used for drug dealing. We have also reported crumbling concrete on the main staircase in Jessel House.

Schomberg House 

We have asked the Planning Enforcement Team to investigate a property in Schomberg House which residents believe is being used as an unauthorised short-term let.

Peter Street

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

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

Richmond Mews – update

Following our enquiries about the leaking refuse vehicles servicing the Mews, the Council has told us:

“We contacted Veolia and requested they had the seals in the relevant vehicle repaired. We received confirmation that this work had been carried out, which I hope led to an improvement. Since receiving your subsequent email, we have reported this (different) vehicle to Veolia, requesting repair. I have now had confirmation this work has been completed.” 

“As well as addressing the vehicle issue, we have also visited the businesses that use Richmond Mews for the storage and collection of their waste, and reinforced the importance of minimising the amount of liquid included with their waste. We have arranged additional flushing of Richmond Mews when we have received reports of unclean conditions. 

An assessment of the paving of Richmond Mews was carried out by our Highways Team, and they arranged patching orders to address the water pooling that had been reported. Richmond Mews has also been nominated for consideration for major works next year.”

New Cavendish Street

Following our enquiries about refuse and dumping issues in New Cavendish Street, the Council says:

“I have requested a flush around the lamppost outside 148. I visited the Turkish Café at 154 and educated them about their duty of care in making sure there are no leakages from waste bags that they put out for collection. We have a litter bin at 158 New Cavendish Street, as this is not fixed there is a chance people move it and I have requested that Veolia return it to its set location if it gets moved.”

Queen Street/Curzon Street 

We are continuing our efforts to require the two large private refuse bins that are located on the pavement to be relocated in the refuse storage area of the building. The bins are unsightly and attract regular rubbish dumping.

Shepherd Market 

We have again asked the Refuse Collection team to investigate this issue:

“A few weeks back, I was woken up in the early hours by a restaurant owner trying to stop the chef from another restaurant leaving huge cans of cooking oil and their food waste outside my front door. The chef had trundled up a wheelie bin from the other end of Shepherd Market to leave the cans and black bags far away from his own premises. 

Could Veolia please ask their operatives to not shout when they are throwing around rubbish and emptying bottle bags into the back of the truck at 1 and 2am.  They do not seem to appreciate that there are residents trying to sleep in Shepherd Market, feet away from where they are yelling and clanking glass.”

Grosvenor Square lighting 

We have made enquiries about the broken street lights in Grosvenor Square. The Council says:

“There are approximately 5 lighting assets that are affected by a UKPN service failure in the Grosvenor Square area. I have requested that FM Conway try to collaborate with UKPN to progress this matter as quickly as possible.”

Oxford Street

Transport for London has outlined areas which residents and businesses believe should be considered carefully to ensure that any transformation would be a success both for Oxford Street and the wider area. These include:

  • How the transformation of Oxford Street would affect traffic flows in the surrounding areas
  • What impact the transformation would have on air quality on Oxford Street and across the wider area
  • Ensuring access to and from the Oxford Street district, and along Oxford Street, is maintained, particularly for disabled people, older people or people travelling with young children
  • Confirmation on which forms of transport would be allowed to use a future transformed Oxford Street, and ensuring these are properly catered for throughout the transformation
  • Improving cycling infrastructure on alternative streets around Oxford Street and linking them to the wider cycling network
  • Suggestions for potential designs, including calls for additional planting, better seating and other public realm features such as new public art and al fresco dining

TfL plan to run a second phase of consultation in the Autumn on a detailed proposal for the area between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus and on ideas for the eastern end of Oxford Street.

We are pressing TfL to take all these issues very seriously so that the interests of local residents are given high priority in the planning of the changes to Oxford Street. 

Dolphin Square 

We are supporting residents who have raised concerns about Westbrook Partners plans to add 150 flats to Dolphin Square. Westbrook, is to submit a planning application to add apartments to the roof, rebuild the leisure facilities and extend the gardens. Architect Eric Parry has drawn up plans to add four to five floors to Dolphin House, the lower serviced-apartment block to the north side of the square.

I should imagine not only are the residents in Dolphin Square up in arms, but those of us within its influence. The idea of a massive building project being enacted on our doorstep: clogging up our already overtaxed roads, the dirt and noise and other equally unpalatable delays in getting around Pimlico” 

“Thank you for your interest in the proposed ghastly redevelopment. And to think they expect us to live through years of building work in a square without any facilities like shops which would be demolished.”

Planning Committee meetings 

We propose to allow direct representations from residents at Planning Committee meetings if we win the Council election in May 2018. Many residents have made the points below to us over the years and we think it makes common sense to give residents a voice:

“I have sat in on Planning Meetings, but only as a silent witness. The majority of Planning Committees in the country allow a number of citizens to have an opportunity in a few minutes to comment. When I have spoken to leading planning lawyers they have been staggered. Perhaps procedures of the Westminster Council have been changed – but if not how can they be made to be democratic?” 

Empty Homes – what you say

“I agree with your request for higher taxes on empty homes. This should apply to all homes, not only the most expensive ones. Income for the local authorities to use toward affordable accommodation is right, but the very rich will not necessarily make their empty homes available, as this tax increase is negligible compared to the income they are making of such commodities in terms of capital gains. Less expensive empty homes may have greater incentive to be let when their taxes are increasing. Some among those are council properties which are staying idle for a long time instead of being put into use again, refurbished or sold on. Also, there should not be one law for the rich and one law for the poor. “

Vauxhall Bridge Road cycle lane – what you say

“I know I’ve moaned before, but, it is the wrong place for a cycle lane. It should be reverted to pavement. Many cyclists ignore crossing and belt past hell for leather! Pedestrians coming from crossing often slow down on road to let cycles pass.”

What you say

“Thank you for all your hard work and effort.”

“Thank you, as always very informative!”

“May I congratulate you for the precious work you are doing on behalf of Westminster residents.”

“Thank you for this instructive report”

“I certainly appreciate the hard work you guys do in attempting to improve things in and around Fitzrovia. Your newsletters are invaluable. “

“There are many issues you target that share concern. Lack of social housing, refuse services etc and especially the massive land changes from expensive property developments that are taking away the community spirit and vital land which should be used for locals, especially our NHS life savers.” 

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

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – SEPTEMBER 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Grosvenor Road

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

“Since the police clamp down on drug dealer on the Peabody and Churchill Gardens estates there has been a massive increase in drug dealing on Grosvenor Road embankment behind Rivermill and Crown Reach. Two drug dealers arrive in daylight by car (we have given police the number plate) and park on the Rivermill/Panoramic forecourt where up to 20 people are waiting for drugs. The police appear not to be taking any action and I would be grateful if you would see what you can do. “

Millbank Estate

We are making enquiries with the Council about these issues:

“Millbank residents have asked the council for years to resolve two issues
– slowing traffic around and in to the estate and stopping large vehicles to enter Herrick Street. Nothing has happened. To the contrary, we are getting proposals to move even more traffic through the residential area.”

Ebury Bridge Estate

We are continuing to campaign for residents to be at the heart of any new plans for Ebury Bridge Estate and for the final plans to be agreed by a referendum of all residents. At a meeting of the Council’s Housing Committee, Councillors heard from Ebury Bridge Estate residents about their concerns over the current consultation and the Council’s refusal to have a referendum before any work can go ahead.

Previously, our questioning has revealed that an eye-watering £35 million has been spent on the Ebury Bridge Estate regeneration scheme before a brick has even been laid. The money has been spent on buying back flats previously sold by the Council under the Right To Buy at knock-down prices. The flats are now boarded up. We believe that money could have been better spent on facilities for the local community.

We have also lobbied for the inclusion of Cheylesmore House residents in discussions, as they will be directly affected by the plans. We have previously lobbied to move a planned car park entrance away from the entrance to Cheylesmore House.

Pimlico Road Timber Yard campaign

We recently met the Save Newson’s Timber Yard campaign team and apprentices in South Belgravia, to discuss the upcoming court case and the Labour Councillors’ continued support of the Pimlico Road Timber Yard. Last year, we supported the Timber Yard in their campaign against the planning application.

Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee ignored over 330 objections from residents, the Belgravia Society, the Belgravia Residents Association, the Pimlico Road Association and other local businesses, and voted 3-1 to demolish Newson’s Timber Yard to build four retail units and seven luxury houses. As he rejected residents’ appeals, the committee Chair, Tory Deputy Leader Cllr Robert Davies, said the committee “was not The X Factor”.

The judicial review for the application will be heard at the end of October 2017.

Ebury Place

We are concerned that residents continue to be inconvenienced by the building works at this site:

I was woken at 7 a.m. today by heavy machinery noise from Ebury Place site on Sutherland Street. Residents have received no notification that road would be blocked and massive crane machinery taking over road today.  Staff started banging at 7.45 a.m. working on college entrance. Residents have to endure heavy diesel fumes, heavy machinery that vibrates my building/home 7 days a week for 12 hours a day. It is dreadful there is no relief at the expense of residents who are paying the price with our health and well being.”

Dolphin Square

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

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

Binney Street

We are making enquiries of the Council about the road changes required for the Crossrail works after receiving this enquiry from a Binney Street resident.

“My main concern is the huge volume of traffic that now comes at great speed down Binney Street from Brook Street as Davies Street remains closed. This is becoming such a busy street and primarily is being used by taxis as it gives them the only access onto Oxford Street. This has all become a problem due to the Crossrail works and would like to know how it will be resolved once the works are completed. This is a very narrow residential street which was always very safe and quiet – this is no longer the case and in fact has become a health and safety concern for pedestrians as pavements have been blocked off.”

Lambeth Bridge/Millbank roundabout

We are making enquiries with TfL about this issue to ensure that all road users benefit from the proposed changes, including pedestrians and cyclists:

We are extremely preoccupied with the TfL plans to abolish the roundabout at the Milbank end of Lambeth Bridge which is working well and helping traffic to access the three opposite directions. No explanation is given for this change, besides requiring to fell a really mature palm tree on the round about. The impact of these changes will be that the traffic will diffuse to the narrow residential streets, including Smith Square and adjacent areas instead of staying on the main roads.”

 “I believe the whole consultation exercise thus far is void, as the consultation document fails at any point to advert to the overwhelmingly negative effect of the proposals on journey times for all classes of road-user (especially cyclists!). In fact, there is no explicit information on the effects on journey times overall in the main document!”

Gosfield Street/Langham Street junction

We have asked the Council to investigate the continued rubbish dumping at the intersection of Gosfield Street and Langham Street. Not only is this unsightly, it is also a health hazard – the rubbish is attracting vermin and it needs to be addressed. Below are the words of a resident who describes the problem.

“I live in Fitzrovia and we have a big problem with household binbags being dumped on the streets. Gosfield Street and the junction between Gosfield Street and Langham Street is a particularly bad area. Piles of binbags are dumped every week and are attracting rats and foxes. This has been going on for at least 3 years, since the big bins there were removed and people now have nowhere to put their rubbish. I have emailed the council numerous times about this, asking for the bins to be reinstated. They say they are looking into it but nothing ever changes.”

The Council has told us:

“Thanks for highlighting this. This location has been identified as a priority for monitoring/enforcement action by the City Inspectors. We’re also just finalising new ‘no dumping’ street signage and a letter drop to all nearby residents and businesses.”

Ingestre Court

We are making enquiries with City West Homes about this issue:

“Residents at Ingestre Court have recently had individual billing rather than block billing for heating and hot water. CityWest Homes have now sent their first individual bill to the residents stating a standing charge covering their billing overheads is £51.30 per quarter plus vat representing a 644% higher standing charge cost than utility providers and when compared with my usage of my consumption represents 71.5% of my heating and hot water bill. I ask on behalf of my residents if there is a way to challenge the unreasonable standing charge.”

William Blake House, Dufour’s Place 

Following our enquiries regarding fire safety at William Blake house, City West Homes tells us: 

“The last fire risk assessment was undertaken on 2 January 2017, major works are currently on site, which encompasses fire improvement works. The block will be re-inspected by the fire safety team, once the project reaches practical completion to ensure all works have been completed to the required standards.”

Broadwick Street

We have asked the Council to inspect a large dip in the road/cobbles on Broadwick Street outside the John Snow pub at the corner of Lexington Street.

Holcroft Court

We have reported a serious incident of anti-social behaviour to the Council. In addition, we have reported this issue to City West Homes:

“For the past 4 months that the door to the recycle bins on Clipstone Steet, between Blocks D and E, is not locked or secured. meaning that anyone can walk into this area, sleep rough and drug deal”

New Scotland Yard

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

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

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

Nova development, Victoria

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

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

Marylebone High Street Ward

We contacted the police after receiving this message:

“We’re having issues with suspected rough sleepers and drug dealers getting access to our block of flats. The police don’t seem that interested. I’m finding it impossible to find a contact number for our local police liaison (Marylebone High Street area).  Do you have any contact details? I’ve tried calling 101 and filling in contact forms online, but nobody ever responds.”

The police say:

“Marylebone High Street ward has two dedicated ward officers – PC’s Troy Miller and Jim Black. They can be contacted direct on 02073218500 or via email on david.T.Miller@met.pnn.police.uk or James.Black@met.pnn.police.uk”

Empty Homes

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

Aviva Community Fund

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

 

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

Apprenticeships

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

Garden Bridge – what you say

“So, the proposed pedestrian bridge across the Thames is no more. However, those responsible for wasting £40 million of public money in ‘investigating’ building this bridge, must be held accountable and reimburse same. Don’t allow them to get away with this financial abuse.”

What you say

“Excellent work. Thank you to the whole team. Also thanks to the residents who highlight these issues.”

“Always an interesting bulletin and it’s so good to see direct action being taken on behalf of residents. Thanks so much for your continued hard work on these myriad issues.”

“Thanks very much for this excellent communication. We find it really useful and informative.”

“Thank you (once again) for your continued great work.”

“Thanks for report and good to see these issues being pursued.”

“Really appreciate your newsletter.”

“It’s great to have your updates, thank you.”

“I am impressed by the amount of detailed work you and your colleagues do on behalf of us residents. Thank you, and please carry on the good work.”

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

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

 

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – AUGUST 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Ebury Bridge Estate

We are continuing to support residents who are angry at the failure ofd the regeneration of the estateChurchill Ward Labour Councillors Jason Williams and Shamim Talukder have called for Westminster Council to step in and provide reassurances for residents of Ebury Bridge Estate on plans for the estate.

At a meeting in June 2017 the Council tore up plans for the estate after admitting that developers did not see the Council’s plans as viable. The announcement has caused great distress to residents already kept waiting without news from the Council following the referendum in favour of the plans in 2013.

http://westendextra.com/article/ebury-bridge-residents-urge-council-not-to-knock-down-their-homes

We are also supporting local shopkeepers who fear for their livelihoods

http://westendextra.com/article/save-our-street-ebury-bridge-shop-owners-unite-after-botched-regeneration-plan-leaves-future-uncertain

Lupus Street

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue:

“In line with the impending changes from diesel to electric cars, I sold my diesel car and bought an electric vehicle earlier this year. Living on Winchester/Gloucester Street, I had checked the possible charging points nearby. There are three Lupus Street charging points but, despite having been put in place months ago, they have remained out of service. At the moment, I am regretting my move to an electric vehicle because of the poor infrastructure support for users.  With the government plans to push more people away from diesel cars and towards electric vehicles, we need a significant increase in the available charging points in the Pimlico area to be able to power these vehicles.”

We are pleased to say the electric charging points are now working.

Bloomfield Terrace

Following our enquiries about concerns about traffic delays at Pimlico Road, and drivers utilising Bloomfield Terrace and Ranelagh Grove as an alternative route, The Council has told us:

“Analysis of the latest available thirty-six months’ accident data for Bloomfield Terrace and Ranelagh Grove shows that there have been no personal injury collisions at this location. As the safety record does not highlight a significant road safety issue at this location, a change to the highway network is not warranted.” 

Dolphin Square

We have been contacted by residents of Dolphin Square who are concerned about Westbrook’s extensive plans to add two storeys to the building, demolish the façade of the building and build on the Spanish Gardens. We are making enquiries with the Council.

John Islip Street

We have asked Tfl why the bus-stop for the C10 and 88 along John Islip Street on the Millbank Gardens side of the street has been replaced by a temporary stop.

Vincent House, Regency Street

We are making enquiries with City West Homes about the action taken to deal with the issues identified by the Fire Inspection in 2010. We have also asked when the building will be inspected by the Fire Authorities following the Grenfell tragedy.

York Street

We have reported concerns to Octavia Housing that social rented flats in York Street Chambers are being used as AirBnB lettings.

Chiltern Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live on Chiltern Street and have put up with a building site on 66 Chiltern Street for 4 years. The road is now two-way again and the bin trucks seem to have re-routed now to run down Chiltern Street! Why and how they have done this I have no idea! but they race down the street very regularly. Could we understand why this seems to be a route they like?”

Marylebone Road/Gloucester Place/Upper Montagu Street junctions.

We have reported a number of broken street lights at the Marylebone Road/Gloucester Place/Upper Montagu Street junctions.

Marylebone Road/Seymour Place

Following our enquiries about cars jumping the lights at this junction, TfL tell us:

“We are currently upgrading around 700 old wet film cameras with new digital units through a safety camera replacement programme. The camera at this junction is part of this upgrade programme and will be upgraded early next year.  In the meantime, we have made the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) aware of residents’ concerns.”

Seymour Leisure Centre

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have been informed that the invaluable Chair Class50+, which I attend on Monday mornings at Seymour Leisure Centre, is to be suspended from early August until December, during the relevant refurb process. This is truly unacceptable, particularly insofar as the specific age group in question is concerned.  I have already heard from fellow attendees who are outraged at this decision, given the clear health benefits of the class and the fact that it provides a welcome social forum for those who are alone and isolated. If accommodation cannot be found within the Centre itself, surely they could source a small space nearby so that it can continue.  I have been attending for many years, and am disconcerted to think I shall be without such vital exercise for the period in question.”

Recently the resident who raised this told us:

“Thanks for your efforts regarding the suspension of the 50+ exercise class at this Centre.  It has now been re-instated, albeit in the basement with several flights of stairs down but with – happily – an erratic lift for those less mobile.  (We used to be there but the mobility issue came to the fore).  It is certainly so much better than no classes for four months! Huge thanks for your assistance.”

Gosfield Street/Langham Street junction

We have asked the Council to investigate the continued rubbish dumping at the intersection of Gosfield Street and Langham Street. Not only is this unsightly, it is also a health hazard – the rubbish is attracting vermin and it needs to be addressed. Below are the words of a resident who describes the problem.

“I live in Fitzrovia and we have a big problem with household binbags being dumped on the streets. Gosfield Street and the junction between Gosfield Street and Langham Street is a particularly bad area. Piles of binbags are dumped every week and are attracting rats and foxes. This has been going on for at least 3 years, since the big bins there were removed and people now have nowhere to put their rubbish. I have emailed the council numerous times about this, asking for the bins to be reinstated. They say they are looking into it but nothing ever changes.”

The Council has told us:

“Thanks for highlighting this. This location has been identified as a priority for monitoring/enforcement action by the City Inspectors. We’re also just finalising new ‘no dumping’ street signage and a letter drop to all nearby residents and businesses.”

Candover Street

We have written to One Housing again about mice infestation at 2 Candover Street. The problems persist and need to be addressed.

Foley Street/Candover Street

We have asked the Council to investigate these two issues:

  • The area in front of Tower House on Foley Street is regularly used as a rubbish dumping ground, with rubbish not being cleared for up to a week.
  • We have received a number of complaints from residents about the noise impact of the many delivery bikes at Domino’s Pizza, particularly around engine noise late at night.

Hanson Street

We have reported rubbish dumping by a lamp post on the pavement outside 22 Hanson Street.

Oxford Street  

We are continuing to urge TfL to take on board residents’ concerns in the plans for Oxford Street:

“In theory, it’s a great idea and would make it a much nicer place to shop, safer for tourists etc, however I can’t find any proper information as to the effect of a massive increase of traffic into the Marylebone and Bayswater residential areas. Wigmore Street is already heavily congested and where we live on the Hyde Park estate has already become a significantly worse rat run since the new Lancaster Gate road and cycle highway system has come into effect. We are very concerned about the further increase in the dangerous pollution levels for our kids and the road safety.”

Huguenot House

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

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

Housing Advice for Private Tenants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://westendextra.com/article/calls-to-bring-staff-back-to-empty-estate-offices-after-call-line-fiasco

Ebury Bridge Estate – what you say

“I live on the Ebury Bridge Estate and we have been advised that the estate is to be demolished which is against the wishes of the majority to the people living there.  I believe that if developers buy the site they will not provide homes for the people living there now to return to.  Ebury Bridge is a nice estate with many green areas and some outside space for everyone as the balconies are not closed in and although like everywhere there are some problems the majority of people are happy living there.  I do not believe the Council will take any notice of the residents as they see there is lots of money to be made in that area of Westminster.”

Motorbikes on pavements – what you say

“Motorbike riders delivering pizzas and other take-away meals are driving their bikes on pavements as a short cut and racing across them at speed, endangering   life and limb of pedestrians and dog walkers alike. Similarly, many cyclists are cycling at speed over pavements. Action must be taken by the Council to curb and put an end to this dangerous and illegal activity. “

What you say

“Thank you so much for all your positive pro-activeness! We need more people around like you and your team!”

“Thank you for your email – the information about the Contact the Elderly organisation is very welcome as I’ve been looking for something like this for a while for my Mother.”

“Thank you – this is always so useful and your work is much appreciated. “

“Many thanks for this. It’s very comprehensive.” 

“Thank you for all you do. The derelict car in Warwick Square was removed last Monday by a very elderly man who drove it off, flat tyres and all!   So it is gone.”

“Thank you very much for your invaluable emails about all that you are doing on behalf of the residents of Westminster, which is much appreciated.” 

“Thank you very much for the fantastic newsletter and all the hard work that underlies it. It is great to know that significant action is being taken to address the issues of residents of Westminster.” 

“Many thanks for the incredibly fast work! Your help has been much appreciated.”

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

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – JULY 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Tower Blocks in Westminster

The horrific events at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington have shocked the country. We have been united in grief and so many have been moved to acts of great generosity and compassion.

Many residents have been asking questions and we, together with Karen Buck MP, have been putting these questions to Westminster Council Officers and CityWest Homes staff. A summary of these questions can be seen here:

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/tower-blocks-in-westminster-what-labour-have-been-asking-on-behalf-of-residents/

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/labour-calls-for-further-answers-on-fire-safety/

Ebury Bridge Estate

Churchill Ward Labour Councillors Jason Williams and Shamim Talukder have called for residents to be at the heart of any new plans for Ebury Bridge Estate and for the final plans to be agreed by a referendum of all residents. At a meeting with Ebury Bridge Residents last month the Leader of the Council admitted that the Council’s plans for the regeneration of the estate had failed and they had not found a developer who can take the scheme on.

Previously, questioning from Labour Councillors has revealed that £35 million has been spent on the Ebury Bridge Estate regeneration scheme before a brick has even been laid. The money has been spent on buying back flats previously sold by the Council under the Right To Buy at knock-down prices. The flats are now boarded up. We believe that money could have been better spent on facilities for the local community.

Bloomfield Terrace

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

“In recent times our road has become a “rat run” at certain times of the day.  We live in Bloomfield Terrace which becomes a relief route for speeding cars and vans when there are traffic delays on the Pimlico Road. These cars start their diversion at the entrance to Ranelagh Grove from Pimlico Road.  They drive their vehicles through the St Barnabus intersection and then into Bloomfield Terrace and out on to the Pimlico Road again.  

I believe this dangerous practice can be stopped by simply introducing a one-way system for the area.  Bloomfield Terrace traffic would flow south from the Pimlico Road and then east towards St Barnabus Street.  Ranelagh Grove traffic would flow from west to east starting from St Barnabus Street.  Local residents would still have access to residence parking bays.”

Cheylesmore House

Residents in Cheylesmore House have contacted us about coach parking in the area. Residents say:

“We are experiencing problems with coaches constantly parking with their engines running opposites Cheylesmore House. This has been a very serious problem since 2013. I am a resident on the ground floor and it’s appalling as I cannot even have the windows open in this heat because of the pollution and noise caused by the coaches.”

We’ve been working with the council on this and other coach issues in the ward.  There is now an agreement with the coach station that any coaches parking in this way are dealt with by the coach station management.

Fireworks on the Thames

Residents in Dolphin Square contacted us about late-night fireworks along the river. After making enquiries we believe they are coming from Battersea Park.

https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2017/05/18/three-fireworks-displays-on-the-thames/.

We are following up with our Noise team who told us:

“Both the 13 and 20 June displays were carried out by a specialist contractor called Kimbolton Fireworks, on behalf of charitable organisations.  The displays were made on a barge on the river and were permitted by the Port of London Authority.  Part of the consent was to notify both Wandsworth and Westminster Councils and to carry out a letter drop. “

We have reported back that we did not receive a leaflet and neither did anyone else we spoke to in the area. Moving forward, there are no further displays planned in the near future. We have told the Council that the fireworks must end earlier in future.

Warwick Square 

We have asked the Council to remove an abandoned car in Warwick Square. Residents say: “It has a flat tyre.  It is very badly parked and has been there for some months.” 

Marylebone Road

There is a great deal of development activity along Marylebone Road which appears uncoordinated and potentially a lost opportunity. There are plans for new offices at North West House and for a hotel at the corner of Old Marylebone Road. The NHS has plans to dispose of the Samaritan/Eye Hospital site and the future of the BHS HQ and the 1980’s building next door have both been the subject of speculation. Also, across the road the former NCR building secured a residential consent last year but nothing has happened yet.

We have called on the Council to develop a strategy, in consultation with local residents, to lay down parameters and guidelines for the redevelopment of this substantial part of Marylebone Road in terms of uses, heights, amenities and public realm. So far both the proposals for NW House and the hotel involve taller buildings which have provoked opposition from residents. Neither proposal appears to include any obvious community benefits. However, a strategy which aimed to secure benefits from the comprehensive redevelopment of these buildings could bring a range of local benefits which residents might welcome.

Seymour Place/Marylebone Road

We have asked Transport for London to investigate this issue;

“I wanted to bring this to your attention as I think it is dangerous. A number of cars jump the lights opposite Manor House when they turn from Seymour Place onto Marylebone Road. It cannot be they do not see the lights, although I understand the lights are close to the corner. Can anything be done about this with a camera or better sign posting?” 

Linhope Street

We asked the Planning Department for an update on the former Swan & Edgar pub in Linhope Street. We received the following reply: 

“The City Council has consistently refused planning permission for the change of use of this public house to a single house, and our decisions have been supported by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal. The Inspector, following a Public Inquiry concluded that the loss of this public house a Community Asset of Value would result in a loss of a valued community facility which would harm the local community. I appreciate that the premises remain vacant but it is an Asset of Community Value, and our viability evidence produced at the Public Inquiry demonstrated opportunities for the site to be retained in a viable public house use subject to suitable terms and conditions.” 

Holcroft Court

We are continuing to urge City West Homes to take strong action against drug dealers living in the block. Residents say:

“There is a young adult undertaking drug dealing in various blocks around Holcroft for at least the past two years, clearly on behalf of a third party. Positive ID have been given along with a description of what he looks like and again the group of people he is associating with who all reside in Holcroft”

Kemp House, Berwick Street

We are supporting local resident’s concerns about the building works and street closures in Berwick Street. Residents say:

“There is much anxiety and fear among residents about the current safety of Kemp House. We have requested to see the current fire risk assessment for Kemp House, but at present are still waiting to be sent it. There is great alarm that WCC have allowed so many of the surrounding roads in Soho to be closed off at the same time, on top of all the ongoing building developments that also require street access to be closed. Residents and other locals do need to see that all fire safety measures are in place and the council has clear plans in case of emergencies. To date, all our requests for information regarding these plans and assessments have been ignored.”

Oxford Street

Residents have raised significant concerns about plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street. We have been making representations to TfL arguing that changes to Oxford Street cannot and should not lead to major bus diversions onto residential streets nor in any way detrimentally impact the quality of life of residents.

After pressing TfL they have told us that:

  • They are committed to reworking the bus network in tandem with plans for pedestrianisation, and are already in the process of making changes. The aim is to reduce and remove the number of buses running through the West End as opposed to diverting them. The process of removing some buses has already started.
  • They share concerns about the potential impacts on elderly and disabled people moving along Oxford Street if it is pedestrianised, and have appointed an Accessibility officer to look at how the interests of vulnerable people can be protected. We mentioned the idea of a fleet of electric vehicles and they say it is being considered.
  • They are looking at allowing some movement of vehicles along Oxford Street during certain times of the day to allow delivery, servicing and refuse vehicles access.
  • They are committed to “achieving a scheme that works for the district surrounding Oxford Street”.

We will continue to urge TfL to respond to residents’ concerns on a point-by-point basis. The concerns of residents must be addressed.

Do you have any concerns about pedestrianisation? Please contact us and we will take them up.

Martlett Court

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

Bow Street Magistrates Court, Drury Lane

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

Victoria Street Coach Parking

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

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

Anti-social behaviour 

We continue to work with residents to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area. We are pleased that following our petition to restore CCTVs in Westminster, news has emerged that there are plans to partially restore CCTV. Although the cameras will not be monitored all of the time, police have said they will be strategically used in crime hotspots.

We are also pressing the Government to bring forward a licensing scheme for pedicabs. Unregulated pedicabs are sometimes involved with petty and serious crime like drug dealing.

Diesel parking charges

A 50 percent surcharge will apply to drivers of pre-2015 diesel vehicles paying to park in Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Hyde Park zones from Monday 26 June 2017. The hourly charge for pre-2015 diesel vehicles will be £7.35 and all other vehicles will continue to be charged £4.90 per hour. The surcharge will be added automatically at the point of purchase of parking time.

The area as a whole suffers from some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. The 50 percent surcharge level has been introduced to deter the heaviest polluting vehicles from parking in the zone. Fitzrovia has some of the lowest levels of car use in the UK — less than 25 percent of households have access to a car or van — and the neighbourhood is served well by public transport and many people choose to walk and cycle. But the area is blighted by large volumes of through traffic.

Westminster Reporter 

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

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

Contact the Elderly

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

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

www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk 

Baker Street Two-Way proposal – what you say

“I’ve just read that Baker Street is going to become two-way. If that is the case why are the council wasting money doing this when the money would have been better spent repairing the roads instead.  The system works fine the way it is. Seems to be another waste of taxpayers’ money.”

CCTV – what you say

“Why on earth are residents complaining that they are being spied upon by CCTV?  As a resident in Warwick Square I welcome CCTV in the interests of the suppression and detection of crime.  If residents are not engaged in nefarious activities they have no cause to object to CCTV and every reason to welcome the installation of these cameras.” 

What you say

“I am at this moment free from gas leaks and have a new boiler fitted and beyond thankful to you for helping me to achieve this.”

“Thank you for continuing to circulate such interesting information about residents’ concerns. 

“This is an incredibly helpful Action Report update for which I thank you”

“Glad you noticed the beggar problem in Wimpole Street and Cavendish Square.” 

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

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – JUNE 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Orange Square

Work has now begun to introduce dividers on benches in Orange Square following a successful campaign by Churchill Labour Councillors Jason Williams and Shamim Talukder, working on behalf of residents concerned about reports of anti-social behaviour on Orange Square. Councillors have also been working with the Council on the closure and removal of the disabled toilet on the Square which has had previous complaints from residents. Previously, Churchill Councillors organized the securing of the entrances to the underground toilets which were being used for anti-social behaviour and drug use.

Cumberland Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I note that CCTV cameras have been installed on Cumberland Street and also on Sussex Street in Pimlico, spying on the daily comings and goings of local residents living in the Pimlico grid. Neither the council nor the police have provided residents with any explanation for this, neither their purpose, nor the duration of their presence or any other information whatsoever. Can we have some plain English answers to this intrusive installation that disturbs the peace of the area and is most upsetting please?”

Millbank Estate – street lighting

Residents told us that street lights around the Millbank estate are burning 24/7. We have asked for this be checked and the necessary action taken.

Page Street

We have asked the Council to repair a dangerous area of pavement outside 83 Page Street. The Council say:

“I can confirm that works have been raised for the paving to be repaired. All should be completed within the next 10 days.”

Regency Apartments 

We have again asked the Council to investigate the noisy door on the garage of Regency Apartments which has been causing problems for neighbouring residents for some time. Residents say:

“The noise from the garage door continues to be a nuisance to me and my neighbours. For example, I was woken by it around 20-25 minutes ago (before 5am) – it has been happening continuously and without interruption since then (I am not sure if the door is stuck perhaps but the noise now also appears to be happening for prolonged periods of time non-stop every so often, in addition to when vehicles come and go).  As you will appreciate, having interrupted/disturbed sleep every night and for so many months is really taking its toll on me, so I am very keen to understand when this issue will be resolved.”

Broadwick Street – Update

Following our enquiries about when the commemorative John Snow pump will be returned, the Council has told us:

“Whilst the public realm works outside 30 Broadwick Street are largely complete, I can confirm that the pump and granite plinth is currently safely stored in the Council’s service provider’s yard and will be returning to Soho. The intention is that the pump will be reinstated close to its original location outside the John Snow pub in Broadwick Street in January 2018. “

Archer Street

We are continuing to press the police and the Council to deal with the drug dealing in Archer Street. Residents say:

“One of the hotspots for drug crime in Soho is undoubtedly Archer Street. Dealers deal there, and users consume there, almost on a daily basis. It is totally unfair for local residents who live on Archer Street, many of whom have children and have to endure feeling unsafe almost all of the time. 

In this context, police and local neighbourhood officers must commit to visiting Archer Street daily to heighten police presence there. It needs to be clear that this activity will not be tolerated so as to de-incentivise users and dealers thinking that Archer Street is a safe haven where they can behave however they wish.”

Holcroft Court

Following messages from residents we contacted City West Homes about drug use at Holcroft Court. CWH say:

I have contacted the new Dedicated Ward Officers and will be meeting residents to discuss the problem of drugs in the area. If the CCTV records an incident we can review the footage and provide this to the Police or other agencies for the purposes of detecting and preventing anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. When an incident is reported to us then we will consider on a case by case basis as to whether the footage can and should be downloaded. All we ask from witnesses is to report incidences as soon as they can (as footage is only held for 28 days) and to provide a date and time as to when the incident occurred.”

Harewood Avenue

We are making representations to the Council on this long-running issue of idling taxis on Harewood Avenue. Residents say:

“We have started an action group of Harewood Avenue residence in the past month, now amounting to 14 houses on the west side of Harewood and counting, the reason for this is because the taxi rank problem has been untenable for residents for some time.  Police have been involved, which only resolves the situation for a small period. Letters have been written to the Council, but responses have been unsatisfactory and this matter remains unresolved – responses do not address the needs of the residents.” 

The Council says:

“Harewood Avenue is a known area of taxi over-deployment and as such is an area we regularly send parking marshals to.  We also deploy our engine idling team to this location twice a day.  However, the main issue here is taxi’s over ranking which is a matter for TfL rather than the Council.  We have made TfL aware of this area which they recognise is a problem and to which they in turn regularly deploy compliance officers. 

To try and further manage the problem, we are currently working on a scheme to extend the current taxi feeder rank by 25 metres to accommodate 5 additional taxis, as well as introducing a further 30 metre feeder rank for 6 further taxis.  The scheme is currently planned to go out to consultation in the first week of July.  Dependant on the results of the consultation the scheme could be implemented by mid-August 2017.”

Beggars

We have asked the Council to take action against beggars operating in the Wimpole Street and Oxford Street area.

Oxford Street

We have called on Transport for London (TfL) to respond to the concerns of residents living north and south of Oxford Street about the pedestrianisation proposals on a point by point basis. In particular, concerns about the displacement of buses and taxis on to side roads must be answered.

We want TfL and Westminster Council to discuss the proposals in detail with residents so that concerns about increased traffic and pollution are addressed. We also want TfL and Westminster Council to show how local residents will benefit through wider pavements, traffic-free street and a better walking environment.

West End residents, as well as shoppers, visitors and people working in the area, must see benefits from this major project.

BT Phone boxes

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

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

Faulty Pavements

If you have ever fallen on a faulty pavement you can contact the Council via this link: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/accidents-and-insurance-claims-against-council

Tall Buildings

Westminster Council is currently consulting on potential future changes that would water down enormously the veto on extra height within the Borough.  In particular, they are already laying the ground to build tall in Victoria/ Park Lane, Paddington and around Tottenham Court Road.  This would damage Conservation Areas in Fitzrovia, Mayfair, Belgravia, Westminster, St James, as well as some of London’s most beautiful parks. The Skyline Campaign has started this petition:

https://www.change.org/p/councillor-daniel-astaire-save-westminster-from-over-development-say-no-to-changing-policies-on-tall-buildings?recruiter=456279346&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

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

If you do not wish to receive our Action Reports please let us know and we will remove you from our distribution list.

Regards

 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – MAY 2017

Grosvenor Road

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

“As a resident along with others of Churchill Gardens Estate, are also very concerned by the pollution level on Grosvenor Road.  We want it to be monitored urgently. Grosvenor Road has a never ending volume of large commercial vehicles as well as smaller vehicles. This is the case for probably 15 hours a day. “

Ebury Bridge Road

Churchill Labour Councillor Shamim Talukder has been successful in helping local residents at 93 Ebury Bridge Road and at Semley Place. At 93 Ebury Bridge Road residents contacted Councillor Talukder to say:

“I was enquiring regarding our Keep Clear Signage which has now effectively almost disappeared mostly due to site construction traffic and the road cleaning machines that run up and down the road all day. The residents paid a considerable sum to WCC a couple of years back to have the Keep Clear Signage installed. We need to try and make contact with the persons responsible for repainting the carriageway. I was hoping you could assist with a contact name as it has been proving very difficult for me to get through to the correct authority who can assist us.”

After receiving this enquiry, Councillor Talukder contacted the Council and now an order has been raised to repaint the Keep Clear road markings

And in Semley Place, Councillor Talukder got the Council to install a brand new yellow box junction.  This was following of an accident involving a small girl due to double parking by car-hire vehicles which took place in Semley Place.

Holcroft Court

We have urged City West Homes to ensure that landlords who rent out flats in Holcroft Court make it clear to their tenants the need to respect their neighbours’ right to a good night’s sleep and to keep the noise down at night. 

Harewood Avenue

We have asked the Council for an update on the action that will be taken to resolve this long-standing issue:

I am sure that you are aware of the problem we have with the recent large increase in taxis servicing Marylebone Station, leading to inadequate provision of rank spaces for these taxis and thus queuing in Harewood Avenue. The dangers are obvious, especially to cyclists and others not familiar with what is happening. We very often get cars and lorries thinking it is a traffic jam and hence joining the line of taxis without realising that they are ranked. Once they have worked out what is happening, the drivers and cyclists then swing out into the southbound side, which is blind to them.

Also the fact that these taxis are mostly diesel driven and, because the taxis move fairly regularly, it isn’t seen as practical by the drivers to switch off and restart their engines. The pollution, both particulate and noise, is now unsustainable and unreasonable as far as the local residents are concerned.”

Kemp House

We are working with residents of Kemp House following another incident related to the building site next door which resulted in flooding and water penetration to Kemp House. According to City West Homes:

“Interserve have found the cause of the flood and have worked to resolve this matter. This leak was caused by the developer demolishing a concreate slab, which allowed water to run along the floor and go down the side the joining building. They have now created a slump, to prevent this happening again.”

Berwick Street

We have asked the Council which Berwick Street will be close for 8 months. Residents ask; “How are those many of us in the area who are disabled and dependent upon transport to get to medical and hospital appointments from the 5th June onward are to be picked up and returned home?” 

Hanover Square Trees – Update

We have received the following update:

“A number of concerns have been raised through the recent consultation process about the proposed loss of trees in Hanover Square. Whilst 4 selfseeded trees are proposed to be removed as part of this scheme: 1 midsized London plane tree currently in the centre of the historic view corridor, 1 midsized Sycamore tree, and 2 Norwegian Maple trees which are currently crowding the William Pitt statue, significantly more new trees are proposed to be planted in and around the Square and in the Gardens to replace them. All mature London plane trees are proposed to be retained within the Hanover Square public realm scheme and the proposed reinstated historical orbital path has been arranged with respect to their positions.”

South Molton Street 

According to the ‘Standard’

“Celebrated costume jeweller, Butler & Wilson is to close after 32 years in the West End. Simon Wilson, founder and director of the store, said he had made the “depressing, sad” decision to shut the shop in South Molton Street at the end of next month. The 958 sq ft outlet in one of central London’s best known designer shopping streets has traded at a loss for the past three years after it got “quieter and quieter.” He said: “South Molton Street used to be amazing, there used to be all these fabulous shops packed with amazing customers but they are just not there anymore, it’s gradually just died. There are now four or five empty shops on the street and we are the last independent retail shop. What is happening to London? It’s so depressing.”

What do you think is needed to revive South Molton Street?

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/kate-s-costume-jeweller-to-leave-dying-mayfair-street-after-32-years-a3542236.html

Hanover Flats – Update 

Following our enquiries, Peabody has been investigating a number of avenues to try and find a solution to the issue of people gaining unauthorised access to the courtyard at Hanover Flats. We have received this update:

“There have been requests from residents for Peabody to install lockable gates at the point of entry on the front and rear courtyard spaces. While this would be the ideal solution, circumstances dictate that this is not a viable option for the following reasons:

  • we are unable to just provide a lock for the gates, as visitors need to be able to access the fob panels inside the courtyard. If the gates were locked no one would be able to provide visitors with access which would be a problem for our elderly residents living in the block some of whom need to let in carers etc.
  • Moving the fob panels to the outside gates would be extremely costly and the current railings are so low that anybody can climb over the gates, making the security ineffective, particularly at such a high cost.
  • raising of the gates to prevent people climbing over has been considered, however due to planning constraints within a conservation area this is an unlikely solution with inhibitive costs involved.

The best method to keep out unauthorised visitors is to ensure that the gate is closed when not in use. In addition, you should notify the Police if you witness any illegal activities taking place on the estate. Please continue to report any issues concerning the courtyard via Peabody Direct on 020 7021 4444. Our Estate Services Team clear up all mess which is left behind including bodily fluids. For further information, please contact your Neighbourhood Manager Sarah-Jane Day via the telephone number above or email sarah-jane.day@peabody.org.uk.”

Great Newport Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

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

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

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

General Election 8th June

You can register to vote at the General Election on 8th June by completing the on line form at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

You can also apply to vote by post on line at the above link.

The deadline is 23rd May

Ibrahim Dogus is the Labour Candidate for Cities of London and Westminster and you can find his details here:

https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/ibrahim-dogus-for-the-cities-of-london-and-westminster-south/

Lillington Gardens Estate Office closure – what you say

“The closure of estate offices in Lillington Gardens is appalling so now old and disadvantaged residents have to go to a totally different and new estate office in Churchill Gardens – given the consistent problems people are having with maintenance on the estate”

Tall Buildings – what you say

“The growth in the number of tall and very tall buildings in Westminster and London since the Second World War has been striking. It has already destroyed much of the surviving character of historic London, where the architectural features that were visible above the City’s general skyline have traditionally been only or predominantly church steeples and towers. I for one do not wish to live in a replica of New York. Some development involving tall buildings has probably been inevitable and necessary; and there is of course need for more housing space. But there is also need for controls on such development to maintain the human and moderate character of our City. There is a strong impression now that the growth is out of control and increasingly unplanned.”

“I particularly agree with the objection to the building of more and more v high-rise luxury flats, many of which will be bought as assets by overseas investors and never occupied.”

What you say

“Thanks for the latest update and the ongoing good work you’re doing on behalf of your residents. “

“Thank you for this report. It’s good to be kept informed.”

“You have been really busy on so many important matters for us residents.  A big Thank You.” 

“I particularly appreciate your efforts on:

  • The rubbish close to Lupus Street and the noise and possible drug problem.
  • The urgent need to control the number and quality of so many high rise buildings which threaten our skyline.  Westminster Council must give a higher priority to this hugely important matter which will affect generations to come.
  • The equally vital pollution problem and specially in regard to Vauxhall Bridge Road where so many families live.
  • Westminster must support local shops and cafes etc and desist from encroaching into Pimlico streets with luxury flats.”

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

If you do not wish to receive our Action Reports please let us know and we will remove you from our distribution list.

Regards 

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

Promoted and published by James Durcan, 48 Andrewes House, Barbican, London, EC2Y 8AX on behalf of Ibrahim Dogus, Flat 80, County Hall North, 5 Chicheley Street. London SE1 7PN  

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – April/May 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Lupus Street

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

“It’s horrible to see, in the early morning, the litter strewn Lupus Street, some of which is emanating from the youths who congregate at night, causing a hell of a din and disturbing the neighbourhood and into the early hours of the morning, each and every day now throughout the year. it’s even worse during the warmer months. Much of this litter is dropped by them from cartons of pizzas to bottles and cans of drink etc. Reportedly, Drugs are being taken.

By the bus stop in the side street opposite the Academy, some residents from the houses that run along this street are using the litter bin for household waste, much of which overflows and is then dumped by the side of the bin. In turn, (dogs, foxes and rats) and others are ripping into them for food etc and the street is regularly festooned with household waste emanating from these illegally dumped bags. Yet a few yards down the road, there are large containers for such household waste. It’s an eyesore; health hazard and magnet for all sorts of litter strewn along the street.

The two ATMs in Lupus Street, generate banking slips dropped on the street by some of the customers using these facilities. Surely, Tesco’s and the Post Office should be forced to provide a bin on the wall beside their ATMs, as should the pizza shop”

St George’s Square

We have contacted Transport for London about this issue:

“We live on the nothern corner of St George’s Square just off Lupus street. Normally the right turn in this narrow stretch of the road which leads on to Belgrave Road is forbidden to coaches and buses coming down Lupus Street. On several occasions I have seen the 24 bus to Hampstead doing just that.  Surely the law applies to all including the drivers of bus 24. It is a narrow street and residents do not expect huge double decker buses to travel down their street. Could you please make sure that Transport London are aware and take appropriate action?”

TfL said that this was a temporary diversion.

Pimlico Road

Plans to redevelop the premises of Pimlico Road antique dealers and a historic timber yard on the same site have been challenged in the courts. Travis Perkins, owner of Newson’s Timber Yard on the Pimlico Road was granted the judicial review by the High Court on 27th March. Grosvenor’s plans, approved by Westminster City Council, include the creation of two larger and two smaller shops from the existing five galleries and shops as well as the reconfiguration of five existing flats into seven rental apartments.

Pimlico cafes

We have been listening to Pimlico residents who are worried about the future of popular local eateries and pubs. We have written in opposition to the plans to convert the popular My Cafe at 93 Charlwood Street into luxury flats. Incredibly this is something the Council’s planners are currently supporting, despite the Council’s protestations that they try to prevent such damaging proposals to residential conversions. Similarly, after listening to local people we are supporting efforts by the Cambridge Street Kitchen at 52 Charlwood Street to have greater flexibility in its license to allow locals to pop in for a drink without having to order food. Across Westminster much loved local restaurants, cafés and pubs are being lost to luxury residential conversions (that do not provide any social or genuinely affordable housing) and we believe the Council isn’t doing enough to protect them.

Kirkstall House

We have helped residents with getting assistance from City West Homes for flooding in the basement of Kirkstall House. The first leak has been addressed and now City West Homes are working on dealing with the impact of a second leak.

Alderney Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I write regarding an issue on Alderney Street, where moped drivers displaying the Deliveroo logo spend all evening using the road outside as a starting base for their work. When they receive an order on their mobile phone, they rev up their engine and accelerate away causing a loud noise. When they have delivered their order, they return to the same spot, turn off the engine and wait. This pattern repeats 15 or 20 times in one evening, causing distress for local residents. This then repeats for most evenings of the week.

I appreciate the nature of our current government means we live in a country which prefers to prioritise the profit interests of global ‘tech’ companies such as Deliveroo above and beyond the local interests of Pimlico residents who would like to have some semblance of peace in their evenings, but the disturbance is very distressing. Should the driver be parked specifically in the designated motorcycle bays dotted around the area rather than just parked in a residents parking bay?”

Rogue Landlords

Rogue landlords will be “named and shamed” by a new online database set up by the Mayor to protect private renters. They will be able to check whether prospective landlords and letting agents have been previously prosecuted for housing offences before they move into a property. They will also be able to report suspected rogue landlords and agents whose accommodation and service falls below acceptable legal standards. The database, to be published on the Mayor’s website, will enable the Council to easily share information on enforcement and investigations and act as a deterrent.

Berwick Street Market

We were delighted to hear from market traders about their recent initiative to bring a small electric delivery vehicle to Soho for testing. Traders say:

“If its as good as we think, its the kind of thing that could be transformative in terms of pollution, noise and congestion, in and around Soho. Subject to the test, Soho Dairy will lease one for Berwick Street Market to help improve and share delivery services between traders, we believe it could be transformative for traders too and start to move the market forward.

We will build a website around it and use it to re-engage Soho with Berwick Street Market and Berwick Street Market with Soho. But also be looking to trade product and produce through Knightsbridge, Pimlico, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury etc which are all currently not commercially viable on foot and often too resident sensitive for truck delivery, particularly early hours. We will also invite potential sponsors down to take a look as I’m sure both residents and bigger customers would like the benefit of silent, clean, sustainable, delivery – we’re thinking about Firmdale, Shaftesbury and Caprice Group etc.”

Wardour Street

We have again asked the Noise Team to take action against the owners of BananaTree in Wardour Street to replace their faulty burglar alarm after residents told us the following:

“You may recall that we had a problem with BananaTree, 101 Wardour Street and its alarm. It has sounded for the 20 minutes.  If the past is any guide, it might well go off again in a couple of hours. The same alarm sounded around 03.30 Sunday morning, and previously twice on Friday, 14th – around 01.30 and 05.00 – and some days early mornings before then. Could you please try to persuade BananaTree that they need to reset the alarm or replace it or repair it as either they are forever being burgled (which is unlikely) or the setting is too sensitive or it is simply faulty. Night after night being disturbed by a pointless alarm is not exactly helpful.”

Archer Street

We have urged the Council and police to take strong action against the drug users in the area. Residents say:

“This has been persistent and ongoing throughout the Easter break. With constant foul and threatening behaviour every day! Defecating, urinating on my doorstep once they’ve taken the illegal substances. Loitering and meeting and exchanges of money and drug use taking place along Archer street. Needles found on the pavements on Archer Street and nearby to our local school, Soho Parish. This is extremely upsetting for me to have to witness such despicable and desperate scene of drug use, let alone let our kids be subjected to the abuse that ensues EVERY single day throughout the day in the past year alone. This is non stop, and is becoming more squalid and intimidating with every drug encounter on Archer Street, Rupert Street and Tisbury Court, Brewer street, Windmill Street and Bridle Lane.”

St James’ Residence, Brewer Street 

We have asked Soho Housing to investigate this issue:

“Sex workers operate outside the entrance to St James’ Residence, on 23 Brewer Street, managed by Soho Housing. They can be hostile and aggressive towards residents. One way of tackling this would be to make sure Soho Housing install CCTV cameras in the entrance. It would also make residents feel more safe.”

Goodge Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the noise and anti-social behavior at the London Cocktail Club, 81 Goodge Street after receiving this message:

“As a resident on Goodge Street the drunken noise from customers on Friday night we have long been aware of, but last night topped it all. The vibration and noise from the music in the bar till nearly 12;30 is not acceptable. Also the amount of noise from customers smoking outside the premises is disgusting and also blocks the pavement. But the final straw last night was when a drunken customer collapsed on the street in front of Nando’s where an ambulance was called. I have already spoken to my neighbours about this and we will be asking the council to review the licence if this continues.”

Charles Street

According to the press:

“Mayfair resident Stelio Stefanou objected to plans for a three-storey excavation to include a kitchen, cinema, gym, and two-storey swimming pool beneath a listed building in Charles Street. Planners at Westminster City Council gave the go-ahead for the work in August last year, but Mr Justice Gilbart yesterday overturned the decision, saying officials had not taken sufficient account of their own policy on super-basements. They say that the planners should take into consideration the whole scheme, not just the additional work to be undertaken since 2011.”

Hanover Square 

We share residents’ concerns about the loss of some or all of the eight 200-year-old plane trees in Hanover Square as part of the re-design of the Square.

Vauxhall Bridge Road Clean Air Petition

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

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

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

“I live in Anchor Court sheltered housing on Vauxhall Bridge Road. There are traffic lights and a bus stop right outside the building and traffic and buses queue up discharging fumes all day long which we breath in especially when we have our windows open.”

“I have lived in Pimlico my entire life. Over the last few years I have noticed that when I sleep with the windows open I always wake up with a soar throat and a headache. I wouldn’t have expected to suffer from pollution as an otherwise healthy 22 year old but it is a big problem. Buckingham Palace Road, Grosvenor Road, Vauxhall Bridge Road are all bad too especially on a bicycle. My eyes get quite sore.”

“As the mother of several children who went to Millbank Primary school and travelled via Vauxhall Bridge Road everyday for many years, I would welcome the air being cleaner for all the residents.”

Oxford Street pedestrianisation and buses 

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

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

According to the Standard:

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

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

Westminster: A city of skyscrapers?

Westminster Council has announced proposals to increase the number of tall buildings all over Westminster. We very concerned that these proposals will, if given the go ahead, signal a green light for the construction of more very tall buildings just as we have seen in other parts of London.

We agree with the need to provide more housing to accommodate a growing population and tackle the housing crisis. But we want sensible, well thought through plans which protect Westminster’s unique character – not a rush to build more and more luxury housing which does nothing to meet the needs of residents.

We’d like to hear your views about Westminster’s plans for more tall buildings.

You can also let the Council know your views https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/buildingheight

Estate Office closures

We have started an on line petition to oppose the closure of many of the Council’s housing estate offices. http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/estateoffices/

CityWest Homes, the organisation that manages Westminster Council’s 21,000 council and leasehold homes is planning massive cuts to its network of estate offices in local communities across the city, including Charlwood Street. These changes could significantly reduce face-to-face access for residents to their housing officers, causing particular problems for more vulnerable residents, the significant proportion of tenants without regular internet access. Under the CityWest and Council plans staff will be based out of the existing area service centres, further from the communities they are supposed to serve. We believe CityWest and Westminster Council should think again about their planned cuts to estate offices and if some offices are shut they must commit to having permanent bases in local community buildings so that staff remain in the local area available to meet with residents.

General Election 8th June

You can register to vote at the General Election on 8th June by completing the on line form at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

You can also apply to vote by post on line at the above link.

What you say

“Thanks for your updates as always very useful.”

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

If you do not wish to receive our Action Reports please let us know and we will remove you from our distribution list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – March/April 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

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.

Vauxhall Bridge Road Clean Air Petition

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

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

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

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

Residents say:

“I live on Vauxhall Bridge Road. We suffer extreme pollution and noise, not just from traffic but from road works that go on throughout the night. Secondary glazing for flats facing onto Vauxhall Bridge Road at the very least” 

“I try wherever possible to avoid the busy routes to avoid the pollution, however I have to cross Vauxhall Bridge Road daily to access the Pimlico tube station and my children’s school. The smell of the pollution has been getting more noticeable and makes me very concerned for my children’s health. Every time one of my children or their friends develop a long standing cough or asthmatic condition I question whether it’s linked to the high air pollution on busy local roads. Please do something to improve this.”

“I walk over Vauxhall Bridge daily and recently the pollution has been so bad I’ve had to take a bus to work instead. Something needs to be done!”

“I cross Vauxhall Bridge Rd when I take my children to school in the morning. The smell of fumes from the traffic is awful and I worry about my children.”

Proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge

Churchill Labour Councillors Jason Williams and Shamim Talukder have criticised Wandsworth Council for pushing forward its controversial plans for a pedestrian and cycle bridge from Nine Elms to Pimlico. Councillors Williams and Talukder have also written to Westminster Council asking what the Council has done in the past two years to lobby their Conserevative colleagues in Wandsworth to drop their plans for a bridge and to ask for a commitment that the Council is against landing spaces in Churchill and well as in Tachbrook ward.

Please help us send a clear message to Wandsworth that the bridge is unwanted by signing our petition at: http://www.westminsterlabour.co.uk/nineelmsbridge

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.

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

Pimlico Road

According to the press:

Plans for the closure of galleries and the redevelopment of a Victorian timber yard in Pimlico Road is facing a fresh legal challenge. Builders’ merchant Travis Perkins has applied for a judicial review to challenge the legality of Westminster City Council’s decision to allow property company Grosvenor to redevelop Newson’s Timber Yard on the Pimlico Road. Travis Perkins’ said: “Grosvenor and Westminster City Council have expressed an appallingly dismissive attitude towards the views of local residents and businesses. Having received advice we believe there are firm grounds to challenge the legality of the decision.”

Horseferry Road

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

“I have written before about coaches parked on Horseferry Road outside St George’s Gardens who run their engines and you kindly asked the council to keep an eye on this. I wanted to advise that it is still happening and I have just photographed two coaches running their engines whilst parked. I would be grateful if you could pass this onto the council and I hope that the companies concerned could be written to or fined.”

The Council say:

“We already send our engine idling team here twice a day to enforce any offences they find and to educate the coach drivers. We have also been working closely with Transport for London and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), which is the trade association for the bus and coach industry, to help promote our engine idling campaign and to get this important message out to the industry. They are directly contacting their members (and non-members) to make them aware of the issues here, to get the drivers to turn their engines off when stationery.

We will continue to regularly patrol this location with our engine idling team, and I will vary and increase the times of our visits to try and engage with as many companies who use this location as possible.”

Douglas Street

We are continuing to support residents who are opposed to allowing cyclists to travel down Douglas Street, between Chapter Street and Vincent Square, which is currently one-way. Residents say:

“The proposal was to create a cycle route from Chapter Street to Vincent Square and to remove the car parking.  The road is currently a one-way street from Vincent Square to Chapter Street but these rules are ignored by cyclists.  The pavement is narrow and used by many local families as a route to and from school.  A further complication is Westminster Under School which has buildings on either side of the street.  Vehicles from Hyde Place turning into Douglas Street tend to occupy the whole of the road creating a further hazard.  Cyclist going up Douglas Street the wrong way are at risk from being hit by vehicles entering from the one way system around Vincent Square.”

Jermyn Street

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

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

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?”

Glentworth and Melcombe Streets

We have asked the Council to fix defective street lights in Glentworth and Melcombe Streets. The Council say “I can now confirm that the lighting situation at Glentworth and Melcombe Street has been fully resolved”.

What you say

“Many thanks for all the good work you do”

“I find these news letters really interesting”

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

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Labour Business, Planning and Public Realm spokesperson

Westminster City Council

 

 

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – January/February 2017

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Dear Resident,

Westminster’s 15 Labour Councillors (including two Churchill Ward Councillors) take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com

You can also read this report at https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/westminster-south-action-reports/

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

Lupus Street

We asked Transport for London to investigate this issue:

“The 360 bus stop on the bend in Lupus Street SW1. I run a charity for lonely and isolated people (Encouragement Through the Arts and Talking) and we have a group that meets twice a week at the nearby Thamesbank Centre.  The bus stop was moved a couple of years ago and people in wheelchairs can no longer use it because it was put where the pavement is too narrow. This affects not only our group but many other disabled people on the Peabody and Churchill Gardens estate too. It would be simple to move it a few yards along where the pavement is wider.”

TfL say:

“The footway where the current bus stop on Lupus Street is located is scheduled to be widened to provide a suitable waiting area for customers. These works are scheduled to start week commencing 9 January 2017.” 

Residents say:

“That is very good news indeed. Thank you for all your efforts” 

Gatliff Road

An application by Sainsbury’s to extend the opening time at their store on Gatliff Road by an hour was deferred by the Planning Committee. Councillor Jason Williams spoke, raising concerns about parking outside of the store, delivery rules and disturbance to residents from lighting and noise. Committee members agreed, requesting that Sainsbury’s should draw up a better plan that takes into account the concerns raised and also look at the positioning of the proposed ATM. 

Vale Royal House

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

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

The Council told us:

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

Residents say:

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

Garden Bridge

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

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.

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. “

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.

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?”

Causton Street/Ponsonby Street

We have asked the Council to fix this problem reported to us by a resident:

“On the corner of Causton Street and Ponsonby Place there is a fire hydrant cover that is leaking water down the steps into the nearest drain. I’m worried that if we have a very cold spell the steps could freeze up and become a hazard. It has been leaking for at least 48 hours.”

Carlisle Place

We have asked the Council to take action on the following:

  • Thames Water had done some work in the street and left a “hump” after they had finished their work
  • The basements in the flats had flooded in the autumn and they were still waiting for Thames Water to finish the work

Orleans Court

We are continuing to assist residents in Orleans Court with various repairs issues which, hopefully, are now resolved.

Regency Apartments, Montaigne Close – Update

Residents tells us:

“Just to give you a quick update – I have been in touch with the development manager and I went round to show him the source of the noise. The good news is he acknowledged that there is a loud noise coming from the door which shouldn’t be. He advised that the maintenance people were due to attend last week and I am hoping to get an update from him shortly. If that is not successful then I may need your assistance – I will let you know.”

Marylebone Library

According to the ‘Evening Standard’:

“Residents were concerned the move to a new venue, which is believed to be an old curtain shop on New Cavendish Street, might mean a reduction of services and could threaten jobs. “The library is a focal point of our community, used by hundreds of people every day. What kind of bad message does moving it to a smaller venue give out? That it is not well-used and not a beloved library? That it’s not a priority? That is wrong. It is a flagship library and lots of people get a lot of joy out of it. It is just so sad.” 

Residents were planning sit-ins and other protests, added that the move “does not bode well” for library services Londonwide.  Staff members at the library said they worried the move would mark a “downward spiral” for the facility.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/row-over-marylebone-library-move-to-smaller-venue-a3418856.html

Seymour Leisure Centre

We have had further complaints from residents about the declining standards at Seymour Leisure Centre which we are taking up with the Council:

“I am a regular user of Seymour Leisure Centre on Seymour Place, and since the facility was taken over by Everyone Active I noticed a marked deterioration in maintenance in the poolside changing rooms. Generally, the standards of upkeep at the facility seem to have declined. I will make a complaint to them, but I was wondering if it was worth flagging this up to you as well and if you’re aware of anyone else raising this issue.”

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.”

Baker Street Two Way proposal – what you say

“The 2-way scheme is an unjustified waste of public money and still does not give any priority to the urgent problem of air pollution in and around Marylebone Rd. The declared aim to “provide a safe environment for all users” and “creating a welcoming area” is unlikely to be achievable while users continue to breathe in air which is way above the EU permitted levels of toxicity. The intention to slow down traffic on Baker St. and Gloucester Place is likely to increase and spread pollution in the area. It has been repeatedly pointed out that any necessary public realm improvements can be implemented without recourse to a 2-way system.”

What you say

“Congratulations on all you are achieving. Keep up the good work!”

“Thank you for yet another excellent report.  I have duly signed the petition for the Queen Mother Sports Centre, where I use the gym 2 – 3 times per week. I have slightly mixed feelings about the timber yard – vans and lorries parked illegally outside it do cause traffic problems, but I’m very sad to hear of independent retailers being compulsorily purchased.” 

“The timber yard decision is an absolute disgrace. Those responsible should hang their heads in shame. They are plainly unworthy guardians of London’s heritage. One can have nil confidence in these people.”

“Well done to you and your colleagues” 

“Keep up the good work” 

“Thank you for the informative‎ report”

“Thank you, as always, for all your hard work on our behalf.”

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

 

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – November/December 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Newson’s Timber Yard

Westminster City Council voted 3-1 to ignore over 330 objections from residents, the Belgravia Society, the Belgravia Residents Association, the Pimlico Road Association and other local businesses and approved plans to demolish the Newson’s Timber yard in south Belgravia to build four retail units and seven luxury houses.

Newson’s Timber yard has been a functioning Timber yard for over 175 years in Pimlico Road, supplying local businesses including the annual Chelsea Flower Show. Also included in the application were neighbouring independent shops with long standing connections to Pimlico Road. The application includes the replacement of shopfronts to 41, 43, 57, 59 and 63 Pimlico Road, this includes independent stores like Humphrey-Carrasco an antiques dealer based there for 20 years.

Churchill Ward Councillor Jason Williams said:

“This is a very disappointing decision. The views and concerns of the community were made clear with the overwhelming 300+ objections, together with the petitions and other representations. The community can be justly proud of their campaign and the strength of feeling can be seen by the attendance at the committee meeting.”

“The historical importance of the Timber Yard can clearly be seen from the 2001 report where the Planning Inspector refers to “a continuity of use for more than (then) 150 years”. The inspector then said the Timber yard “makes a positive contribution to the conservation area” and what was true in 2001 is certainly just as true in 2016. Residents clearly want this use to remain and continue to make that positive contribution. Pimlico Road is already a world class design district and residents want to avoid turning it into just another high street. “

Ebury Bridge Estate Regeneration Delays

Residents voted in favour of the renewal plans in a week-long ballot in May 2013. The planning application for the redevelopment of the Ebury Bridge estate has been approved.  The Council said in 2013: “The renewal plans for Ebury Bridge will provide high quality new homes and significant improvements to existing homes along with vastly improved public spaces, which will enhance the character and value of the area. In addition. the plans will provide residents with improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes, improved community facilities and provide future job opportunities.”

But now, over 3 years later the Council has admitted that “there had been a muted response when soft market testing the planning consented scheme in the latter half of 2015 which did not generate sufficient interest from investment developers and traditional contractors. Complex delivery phasing, block/unit layouts requiring further value engineering and the costs and complexity of the refurbishment element are the main risks for developers/contractors.”

Councillor Jason Williams, Churchill Ward Councillor said:

“After the Ebury Bridge vote in May 2013, residents and lessees were faced with delays and poor communications from the Council. There were cancelled meetings and great uncertainty about the progress of the regeneration plans. While there has been some improvements recently with communications, there is still a lack of clarity as to the rephrasing plans and there is an urgent need for the Council to outline their plans for the project to end the uncertainty.”

Lupus Street

We have asked the Council to ask BT to remove the redundant phone box on Lupus Street as residents say:

“The redundant telephone boxes in Lupus Street is one of THE central meeting points for ‘rowdies’, drug taking/dealing, climbing into neighbouring first floor buildings etc. and I think we would find that removing them would make quite a big difference to the problems in Lupus Street. “

We have also asked the Council to investigate this parking issue:

“This concerns the failure of traffic wardens to monitor parking violations. There are single and double yellow lines on this stretch of the road. Despite this, 50 seater coaches, lorries, transporters, hgvs filled with waste and mud and Addison Lee and Uber Vehicles habitually park here. They are not loading or unloading but are parked and use the road as a free car park. They rev their engines, keep engines running, drivers throw litter and cigarette ends out, play radios loudly. On one occasion a soft drink bottle filled with urine was found. I should appreciate it if action is taken to stop these long standing nuisances, intimidating and anti social behavior which have reached epidemic proportions.”

Queen Mother Sports Centre

The Council has started consultation on the redevelopment of the Queen Mother Sports Centre and surrounding area and is asking for residents’ views. You can get details here

https://openforum.westminster.gov.uk/development-op-framework-UVBR

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

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

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

Please let us know what you think.

We have started a petition:

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

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

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

You can sign the petition here

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

Tackling Drug Crime in Soho: A 5 point plan

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 that takes responsibility for coordinating all Council departments and liaising with the police, Camden local authorities and the community.
  • A cross-borough strategy must be set upinvolving 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

Montagu Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Outside on the pavement in Montagu Square between numbers 55 -52 there are always collections of abandoned rubbish around the lampposts spilling out of bags or just left loose.  Not only is this encouraging others to be equally antisocial but also vermin.  Perhaps you could investigate and contact people whose names might be traceable   in this mess of food and other detritus.  Since this has been occurring for many months I notice that the rest of the square is filling with litter because it looks so uncared for.”

Devonshire Mews West

Westminster Council has given planning permission to the Howard de Walden Estate for a triple basement to house a proton beam therapy unit in Devonshire Mews West, Marylebone, a quiet residential cul-de-sac in Marylebone, despite adopting a new Basements policy this summer which restricts basements to just one level and despite objections from 17 local residents for whom the mews is their home. The one Labour Councillor on the Planning Committee voted against the triple basement. One resident said:

“I really feel that the Council’s own policy on basements, in particular so soon after its adoption, would be jeopardised were an exception be made and this development be permitted. I have no doubt you will appreciate, that although this project may serve a worthy medical cause, it is totally ill-suited for this quiet residential cul-de-sac mews. More fundamentally, were this project to get consent, it would just make the promises of the council to protect the residents through its new policy on basements just sound extremely hollow.”

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the Council’s new Basements policy, which has cross-party support, should be breached so soon by this triple ‘super basement’ that is totally unsuited to a quiet cul-de-sac mews. Surely, a more appropriate commercial location, away from residents, would have been more appropriate for the years of construction, disruption, noise and dust that are involved in digging a triple basement? Many residents in Marylebone, St John’s Wood, Bayswater and Pimlico will now be asking if their street is next for a Westminster Council-approved triple basement?”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/barbara-windsor-joins-fight-against-plans-for-radioactive-cancer-lab-near-her-home-in-marylebone-a3370931.html

Holcroft Court

We have asked the Council to investigate this matter with TfL:

“My block of flats near Great Titchfield Street is seriously affected by noise from the Victoria Line, which runs under our block. This is of particular concern with the start of the 24-hour weekend underground service.  Someone from TfL took measurements a few weeks ago and was able to pinpoint the problem, a corroded rail.  We are now told that the repair cannot be carried out until March 2017.  Can you put any pressure on TfL so speed things up?  I should add that there is a Tube Noise Action Group which is trying to coordinate complaints from different parts of London (tubenoiseactiongroup@gmail.com)

We have also asked the Council to inspect a number of flats which residents say are are being let out through Airbnb and other websites for more than the permitted 90 days a year.

Marylebone Lane

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue”

“Marylebone Lane is much improved by the investment made by the De Walden Estate and will be even better once the building works are completed. However, it is being used as a rat-run to avoid the lights at the bottom of Thayer Street and Mandeville Place, principally by black cabs. This could be prevented by banning left turns from the full length of Marylebone Lane. Any chance of this being done?”

Airbnb 

Complaints about “nuisance” noise from Airbnb properties have increased more than seven-fold over the past year. Labour MP for Westminster North Karen Buck said:

“Residents in some apartment blocks are effectively living in a hotel. The comings and goings and their general expectation of being on holiday often add up to disturbance. And unlike in a hotel, there is no one there to manage the situation when problems occur.”

The Council said it was investigating 1,200 properties accused of breaking the 90-night rule and had issued enforcement notices against two.

The Beehive, Crawford Street – Update

Following our enquiries, the Council has told us:

“The site was referred to the Street Concern Team to assess the needs of the individuals bedding down under the scaffolding outside the Beehive Pub.  Unfortunately, none of the individuals were eligible for support as they are not UK nationals.  We are therefore working with the police and home office immigration enforcement to try and deal with the individuals. We have also made contact with the owner of the pub who has confirmed that the area will be boarded up within the next couple of weeks and secured with an alarm in an attempt to try and stop people bedding down in this location.”

Westminster Almshouses, Rochester Row

The Westminster Almshouses Foundation has told us:

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

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

Marylebone Library – what you say

“I am very disappointed with the plans for the future location of the Marylebone Library.  The Library offers an excellent service, which is likely to be affected by its move into less than adequate space.  And the longer term plans to use Seymour Place will disadvantage those who live to the east of the High Street.  A community library needs to be in the centre of the community.” 

What you say

“Many thanks for yet another very long list of all the serious matters with which you, and your Labour councillors, are dealing so effectively. “  

“Thank-you for another informative newsletter. Do you think the Oxford Street conundrum will ever be resolved?”

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

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – September/October 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Westmoreland Place/Lupus Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Turning left into Westmoreland Place from Lupus Street (coming from Thames) is difficult and dangerous. We have had coaches and lorries unable to do this and so they reverse up sometimes clipping wing mirrors. The turning is difficult even for cars because the council added an additional car parking space at the bottom of Westmoreland Place and so it often takes 2/3 attempts to turn in. I would suggest a ban on turning left or just a ban on lorries and coaches which would include dustcarts. The difficult car park space could remain but the entry from the left might have to be changed. “

Lupus Street

We have raised this issue with the local police:

“The intolerable noise throughout the night and into the early morning continues unabated, by the youth from the Churchill estate, along Lupus Street. How long must Pimlico residents, like myself, be kept awake by the rowdyism of these youths. Even with my windows closed, I’m kept awake. A stop has to be put on this unsociable behaviour. Equally, it’s very intimidating to have to pass them of a night to get home from a social engagement. I normally pass on the other side of the street to the Churchill estate to avoid having to pass through their rowdy throng.”

Tachbrook Street

We reported racist graffiti on a wall in Tachbrook Street which was removed by the Council on the same day.

Berwick Street Market

We have also continued to support Berwick Street market traders at a recent meeting about the future of the market.

http://www.westendextra.com/berwick-street-meeting

Seymour Leisure Centre

We asked the Council to investigate this serious matter: 

The Centre is now a major calamity. For two months run down by the company who lost the franchise, and now, so squalid after three months with the new one, everyone is having to leave the gym. At 6.30am we’re paying full price for no cleaning, no staff, late opening, floors strewn with rubbish and with weights and pieces of equipment littered everywhere, no air conditioning, often no music, no one there who know how to work TVs so we no longer have news or sports news. A new gym has opened nearby and has scooped almost all the regulars, many of the men saying they can’t bear the changing rooms any longer, but it’s dire that this is being allowed to happen, and no promise of future improvement can be used as an excuse.”

The Council say:

“We have experienced some issues with the air conditioning, particularly during very hot weather, and the audio visual system does require replacement.  The new contractor will be addressing these issues in addition to delivering a number of capital improvements at the centres as part of the new contract.  However, the day to day operational issues noted in the email clearly aren’t acceptable and I’ve raised this with the contractor and we’ll ensure improvements are made.  We will monitor this situation closely going forward.” 

Marylebone Library – Update 

The Libraries Department has given us this update:

“Marylebone Library is located in a temporary location in Macintosh House and there is currently a requirement to vacate the building by February 2017 as the freeholder Howard de Walden Estates (HdW) requires it back for redevelopment. 

HdW has assisted the council in identifying a new decant site at 9-11 New Cavendish Street. This is a double frontage pair of shop units which be refurbished as a single unit to make it suitable for use as a library. A lease of six years from February 2017 has been agreed with appropriate break clauses, which will give sufficient time to enable the planned long term reprovision of the service on the Seymour site. 

The space available in New Cavendish Street is small, approximately 2600 sq ft, and is over two floors. Officers are working to maximise usage by prioritising the best-used services, including IT, study space and activities for children and families. Some services may be relocated to other libraries nearby or into other settings. Further detail on the New Cavendish Street service will be provided to stakeholders and library customers as soon as a scheme has been developed.” 

The future of Marylebone Library – what you say

“I have been gathering reactions to the Marylebone Library plans. Most families are extremely disappointed with the plans to relocate to a shopfront as it will no doubt mean a massive reduction in provision. How do we teach our children to have a life long love of learning and books without a library?  Other comments I have received in passing discussions are very much along the same lines. Fears over loss of library provision in a shopfront and being downgraded to library services only, loss of the few children’s activities we have in the area south of Marylebone Road. Portman Centre and Church Street are not easily accessible. The leisure centre option concerns are that there will be a downsizing of the library. It is also a very long time away so the thought of a shopfront for 3+ years is disappointing.” 

“I think Seymour Leisure Centre is a poor option.   For many people, particularly elderly residents living east of the High Street, it’s awkward to get to.  Is the area behind Waitrose which is up for redevelopment out of the question?   I think that would be infinitely preferable.”

“I’m slightly nervous to ask about the ‘remodelling’ plans for Seymour? They have just signed up with a new provider (Fusion) who cheerfully announced they have a 10 year contract. It’s a brilliant and well-used facility, and I believe the gym is too. So where will the library go?”

The Beehive, Crawford Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“The Bee Hive pub on Crawford Street and has been closed for some time. It is surrounded by scaffolding.  Up to 3 tramps have taken up residency in the door way and the area is now filthy.  They have been there for over 3 weeks.  They defecate in the adjacent alley leading into the mews and often abuse local residents.  The situation really is unacceptable.  

There have been numerous of calls to the police.  I know that the porter for our block has called several times on behalf of the residents and others have called direct.  I have spoken to the police twice and called to Westminster Council but little appears to have happened and the tramps remain in residence.” 

Curzon Cinema, Mayfair 

The Curzon Mayfair is under threat. According to the ‘Evening Standard’: 

“The Curzon cinema is facing closure in a row over soundproofing for flats being built above. Noise from films played at Curzon in Mayfair can be heard on the two floors above, according to the developers of the properties, which are likely to fetch more than £2 million each. Developers 38 Curzon Ltd are converting office space into four flats above the cinema’s home since 1934 on Curzon Street, where star-studded film premieres are regularly held. But they want the cinema to foot the £500,000 bill for soundproofing work, which the Curzon cannot afford and would “never obtain approval for as the auditorium and surrounding walls are listed”, according to its director of cinema development Rob Kenny.”

The deadlock has resulted in a legal “action for forfeiture”, meaning the cinema faces surrendering its lease and vacating the building. CEO of Curzon World, Philip Knatchbull, said: “Were Curzon forced to leave it would not only hurt the independent film community but also deprive London of a cinema loved for its  heritage and Grade II listed interiors.” Residents Group chairman, Ron Whelan said: “Mayfair is inevitably under threat from various commercial pressures but this fight is one I believe the area cannot afford to lose.” The building was built to house the cinema, with two floors above used as offices until the freehold was bought by Vevil International last August, and then leased long-term to 38 Curzon Ltd.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/historic-mayfair-cinema-faces-closure-in-row-over-noise-from-films-in-flats-above-it-a3345416.html

Greycoat Gardens

We have asked the City Inspector to investigate this issue:

“I am a resident in Greycoat Gardens a block of flats in tree lined Greycoat Street.  It appears that the street is ideal for dog walkers allowing the dog to cock their leg but the owners are also leaving behind dog poo bags. There are no rubbish bins in the area nor are there signs about dog poo disposal. The caretaker in the block has been removing the bags but this is not part of his remit plus some residents are now getting quite irritated. Possibly some signage as a start.”

The City Inspector says:

“I have had both the road and pavements washed and swept to remove all and any stains. When the road was swept, all waste and litter was also removed.

I have arranged a high visibility patrol with our animal warden as well as close monitoring by both of us. I will then be able to make a judgment as to whether the problem here is resolved or I can make the appropriate changes to the monitoring times. I will be seeking to issues fines as well as educate dog owners.

In parallel, I have requested our team explore the best place for an additional bin in this road as it is some walk to the nearest. I have asked that that is addressed as soon as possible and I will ensure that this is the case. In addition, four signs have been erected in the street. Once the bin is in place, I can ensure it is marked appropriately to remind dog walkers to make use of it.

I have ensured that our cleaning contractor knows that this area is receiving close monitoring and that I expect the standards of cleanliness to be high.”

Residents say:

“A BIG thank you. Hopefully all these actions will help and please the dog owners, residents and pedestrians.”

Erasmus Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this long-standing issue:

“The whole street junction looks just like a dump. It’s been like this for the whole of the week and the space provides for an ongoing saga since it was dumped on Millbank Estate 10 years ago without consultation. The complains are piling up ever since and the Council is responding with monitoring promises. But it’s not working. It’s just to exposed a space attracting opportunists from everywhere and lazy residents. I have proposed some building measures but there is obviously no appetite to spend money for example.”

The Strand

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

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

The Council tells us:

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

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/

What you say

“Thanks for this and well done.”

“Thank you for taking up so many important causes and your excellent newsletter.”  

“Thank you for the action report. Since the low emission zones were introduced butterflies have come into our garden which as far as I can recall never happened before.”

“Thanks as always for the update and for the great work you’re doing! “

“We owe you thanks for getting the shrubbery round Millbank Gardens. plus the Causton Street playground trimmed back.”

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

 

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – July/August 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Seven Reasons why we oppose the proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge

  1. There was no consultation with anybody in Westminster prior to Wandsworth launching the competition for this bridge. Wandsworth simply went ahead with no discussion or consultation, hardly a positive start to a project which says it wants to link the two sides of the river. Since then there has been no real discussion.
  2. The proposed bridge is entirely developer-driven and its sole aim is to make the expensive flats in the Power Station more attractive to overseas buyers by advertising a new direct route to Westminster and the West End.
  3. Some people claim that opposition is because we “don’t want nasty south Londoners to come through super posh St. George’s Square”. However, the truth is that we have been welcoming thousands of pupils from Lambeth, Wandsworth and Southwark to Pimlico School for over 50 years and continue to do so.
  4. The favoured landing site for the proposed bridge is near the Westminster Boating base, on the only piece of public green space in the area opposite the Churchill Gardens estate. Residents do not welcome the prospect of this small piece of public green space being lost to them.
  5. Some people have claimed that this is “the longest stretch of river in the capital without a pedestrian and cycle crossing”. However, there is already a brand new cycle super highway along Vauxhall Bridge Road and Vauxhall Bridge which has just been installed and was built for cyclists entering Pimlico/Westminster from the south. There is simply no need for another a few hundred yards away.
  6. We are very concerned about costs, given Westminster’s experience in 2000 when the costs of the Jubilee Bridge escalated because of the costs of excavating in the Thames where there are many UXBs from WW2 and where expensive ‘hand-digs’ are necessary for foundations. We believe that if there are extra costs involved (and there usually are) the public sector will be asked to pay.
  7. We would argue that the developer’s financial contribution to the community should be spent on new affordable housing, rather than on a vanity project that enhances the sales values of the new private flats

Pimlico Road area

The Belgravia Residents’ Association report the following:

“The pedestrian crossing is now finally in use in Pimlico Road outside

Starbucks and we are now fighting Grosvenor on their shops policy which

sees swathes of empty units due to greedy rent increases and this results

in several stable shops closing down. We are opposing Grosvenor s plans to change the timber yard in so much as we wish to see this business remain for it is well used and would see yet another local facility disappear – where on earth is the community in that aspiration we ask ourselves.”

Abbey Orchard Street/Old Pye Street area

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue: 

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

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

The Council says:

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

Oxford Street pedestrianisation – what do you think?

The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says he wants to pedestrianize Oxford Street. What do you think?

One resident 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

Blandford Estate

We are supporting residents who have petitioned the Council and say “we do not understand why our current re-cycling procedure has to change which means filling blue sacks and then leaving these sacks out on a Tuesday night which are then collected from Harewood avenue by the council at 08:00 on Wednesday Morning. We are being told by CWH’s that Westminster City Council wish to place these unsightly and hazardous re-cycling bins onto the Blandford Estate when the current procedure is working perfectly well and has done for some years.”

Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood

We have welcomed the Mayor’s decision to select Marylebone as a Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN). The LEN was one of eight announced by the Mayor and is funded by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund with match funding with the relevant Borough. The application was developed with local amenity societies, Business Improvement Districts, neighbourhood forums and property estates. Councillor Jason Williams, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for City Management and Sustainability said:

“We very much welcome the Mayor’s announcement of the Low Emission Network for Marylebone. The Mayor has made air quality a key priority in his Mayoralty and we also welcome that he has increased the number of LENs from two to five across London. Marylebone suffers from very poor air quality and the LEN can play an important part in dealing with the air quality issues residents face. We have requested a meeting with the Mayor and Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, to ensure further issues both in Marylebone and Oxford Street are addressed.”

Seymour Leisure Centre

Residents tell us that the basement areas in Seymour Leisure Centre have not been swept for literally years. We have asked Council to ensure that these areas are cleaned regularly in future.

Montagu Square – Update

Following residents’ report of taxi drivers urinating in Montagu Square, the Council has taken the following action: 

  • Parking issues – Traffic Marshalls were tasked to monitor both, Monatgu and Bryanston Square for taxis parking in residential bays and not picking up customers
  • Urination – I have requested from the Local Police Team to increase their patrols in the area and deal with any offenders. The City Inspector will also put a signs up regarding on street urination 
  • Littering – the Local City Inspector for Bryanston & Dorset Square monitors the area for littering and will take enforcement action when possible

Paddington Street 

We are making enquiries with the Council about this issue: 

“Paddington Street has been closed in one direction for months. Now it is completely closed in both directions, presumably for the benefit of the developers of the enormously expensive flats on the corner of Chiltern Street and Paddington Street. What benefit are the residents receiving for all this disruption?” 

The Council says:

“This is an emergency closure for Thames Water- as they have a collapsed main sewer at this location. Urgent attention was required to get the repair underway but I understand that this is a deep sewer and is not a simple job. My Officers were advising TW to make sure local properties were notified. I have asked for a full update.” 

Greyhound pub, Hugh Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Sadly last week the pub was shut and the bailiffs called in. As there are some picnic bench-tables outside the pub, these are now being used by groups of men to hang out and drink. They often leave their rubbish (empty cans of beer etc) in the street. The men change from day to day but don’t seem to be locals. My guess is that they are in the area because of the coach station.  Is there anything the council might be able to do about this? Simply arranging for be picnic bench-tables to be taken inside the pub or removed would probably make a big difference.”

Following our enquiry, a satisfied resident told us:

“The tables and benches have now been removed, which is a huge improvement. Thank you!”

Ebury Bridge College building

We have asked the Council to take action on the problems being caused by the construction of the Ebury Bridge new college building. Residents say:

“I’m having a terrible time with the construction of Ebury Bridge College and 11 storey residential apartment. They did not consult the level of disruption. Bus stops often suspended. All is parking suspended. Parking suspension was supposed to be temporary but now they built their offices on the pavement and half the road so parking will be suspended during the whole construction. My son’s motorbike was damaged and my neighbour’s motorbike was stolen because they can no longer park there due to suspension. The noise and dust is horrendous. The smell of diesel is strong from all this heavy machinery and they have convoys of trucks parked outside my building with their engines running. I have to keep windows closed.”

The Council says:

“We have put in place the following measures to mitigate the impact on residents in this area:

  • We monitor the site regularly on a daily basis and lorries are moved if the parking on street. The site is also aware that they have to turn their engines off.  Since more than two weeks we have increased the monitoring to twice a day and the situation has improved substantially
  • The Noise Team visited the site proactively several times shortly after 6pm, but so far didn’t witness that the site is working beyond the allowed hours.
  • There are parking suspension agreed with the development, as they need to provide welfare facilities and the Council as Highways Authority has to accommodate this. 

We strongly recommend that the complainant contacts the Environmental Action Line (020 7641 2000) to log her complaint as the officers can go out immediately and react if they witness any wrongdoing. “ 

Residents say:

“Thank you for your help. They are actually behaving themselves this week!! After daily complaints to Council, Planning dept complaints, complaints to the construction company and associates, finally getting some attention after raising the issue with you.”

Hyde Park Square

We have asked the Council to investigate this anti-social activity:

“I note the comments from a resident in Montage Square about taxi drivers urinating on the fence and bushes of the garden square. We suffer from the same problem on Hyde Park Square, where the smell can be so bad in parts of the garden that it literally renders them unusable.  The taxi drivers also pee in bottles and then for some reason decide to pour the contents out in the same location! For years, residents and the garden committee have lobbied Westminster, the police, the taxi association etc, but still the problem continues.  We have been asked to and provided photographs and video footage, all to avail. Several residents have been verbally abused including myself (quite violently), whenever they confront one of these drivers.  “

What you say

“Thanks for this. As usual, there are lots of reports on useful actions taken. “

“It is good to know that someone not only cares but is doing so much to keep this borough safer and cleaner.”

“It is an informative report. Please keep on sending your future reports to me”

“Thanks for your informative newsletter and the work you do on behalf of Westminster residents.”

“Could you add to your list of concerns the increasingly frequent habit of cars driving over zebra crossings when someone is walking over it. It happens to me on a daily basis, with no apology, as if pedestrians no longer have a right of way.”

“Air pollution would be vastly improved if taxis were forced to go electric or at best hybrid so they had a backup on a longer trip. Thank you for your work.”

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

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – May/June 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

48 Millbank – Abandoned car

We asked the Council to take action on this issue:

“This is an appeal to do something about an abandoned car that has been dumped in one of our precious 4 residents’ parking spaces outside 48 Millbank. The powder blue Peugeot 206 has been there since last October. It has no residents’ parking permit and the windscreen is plastered with penalty charges. The tyres are flat and it has been partially vandalised. Regular telephone calls to the police and Westminster Council have produced a number of inspectors but no action. Even an ever suspicious MI6 sent an investigator but still no result. It was first reported to Westminster Council on 4 February. What can we do next? I know this is a minuscule problem in the context of the great issues of the day, but it is on our doorstep and affects us every day. You are one of the few voices raised in support of residents, and we rely on you.”

A few days’ later residents told us:

“After months of appealing in vain to Westminster Council, we appealed directly to you to do something about the abandoned car in one of our parking spaces at no 48 Millbank and today it has gone! Many thanks to you and the Labour Group.”

Grosvenor Road

We are chasing the Council and TfL about a request from residents for a pedestrian crossing across Grosvenor Road.

The intersection of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Causten Street, adjacent to the White Swan

We have again called on TfL to take action about the continuing concerns local residents have about the dangerous intersection. Residents say:

“The measures taken by TfL are woefully inadequate, the slow sign painted on the pavement applies only in one direction and is far too close to the intersection. This afternoon, a preventable accident took place when a speeding cyclist evidently presuming a right of way collided with a pedestrian.  They were both injured and a motorcycle policeman attended the scene.  The pedestrian was assisted by the White Swan pub staff and although shaken and in pain was reluctant to make a statement.  The cyclist was also in considerable pain.

The White Swan staff had witnessed a number of similar problems at the location and they pointed out that a record of such incidents was available should it be required from the pub’s CCTV. It is essential that TfL address this problem before someone suffers really serious injury or is killed.” 

Sainsbury’s on the Marsham Street/Horseferry Road corner‏

Residents tell us that there a number of issues relating to this Sainsbury’s store:

  • there are very aggressive beggars who appear to be on some sort of rota system by the cash machine outside Sainsburys and 
  • the noise of the delivery vans is terrible from early morning deliveries 

We have asked the local City Inspector investigate these issues. The Council says:

“We are already talking to Sainsbury about the deliveries issue and I will get the team onto the aggressive begging, too.”

Ponsonby Place

We have reported this serious matter to the local police:

“We been bombarded with air rifles guns and marbles throughout Ponsonby Place, smashing windows and damaging cars and police are unable to find out who is doing this. My wife and my children have been experience a nightmare and too frightened to do school runs. Will you please advise me what should I do next this is very important. Today an air rifle and tomorrow could be a real one.”

The police say:

“The police are fully aware of this situation and are working hard to identify a suspect. We have increased our patrols in the area and these will continue for the immediate future. Officers have recovered a number of exhibits from the location and these have been submitted for fast track DNA analysis. Additionally, we are currently in the process of identifying whether one of our ballistic experts can ascertain the trajectory of the fired items in the hope of discovering where the suspect(s) is positioning themselves. A request has been made to the National Police Air Service for a fast deployment to any future calls from members of the public regarding any further discharges. Finally, the Technical Surveillance Unit will be deployed to the area.”

Millbank Academy

We have asked the Council to investigate the situation at the school after receiving this message from a resident:

I was approached by a number of Millbank Academy parents. They are trying to find an alternative Primary School. Apparently the Head has resigned and the Deputy of Pimlico Academy too. Since the Academy system was introduced we seem to experience one crisis after the other and today’s situation is a repetition of previous episodes. My neighbour has 2 children at Millbank and asked me today to help her to find a different school. She tells me that the parents have been exposed to s roller coaster of changes on teaching focus. Stressed out teachers have been leaving. The Head told me earlier this year that she is struggling to replace the good teachers she is loosing. Housing and commuting difficulties play a part in this too.”

The Council say:

“We have been informed that that the Head has not resigned but is retiring after 22 successful years as headteacher of the school, and we understand that she may return in some advisory capacity to support the school once she has had a good break. The deputy head at Pimlico Academy meanwhile has resigned as he has been successful in securing his first Headship. In both instances these leaders are leaving for normal and acceptable reasons and appropriate steps are being taken to replace these school leaders. A senior leader from Quintin Kynaston has been appointed to be the new Head at Millbank. The school recognises that staff turnover is an issue but they are looking at lots of ways of reducing this, including becoming a centre for school led teacher training. Children’s services has confidence in the leadership provided for Millbank and Pimlico primaries by Future Academies. Both schools at their most recent Ofsted school inspections were judged to be providing an outstanding quality of education.

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

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.”

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”

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.

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

Parliament Square

“It may still be work on progress, but the road works and new pedestrian crossing at Parliament Square between the Houses of Parliament and Boots seems to very badly synchronised, and has reduced the amount of crossing time. As I say, this may be just the interim solution and it will be tuned to return it to normal in the coming weeks, but it is creating a lot of crowding at the junction, and most worryingly at the island in the middle. Someone could easily be run over.”

Montagu Square

We have asked the Council to take action to deal with this anti-social behaviour:

“Every day, cab drivers park and sit next to the park on Montagu Square. They smoke, sit idle with their cars running, and toss their trash into the curb. But worst of all they urinate all over the place. They pee into the sewer grate, into bottles that they leave behind, or into bottles that they take with them. From my third story window, I have seen kids playing in the park while one guy opened his front and back doors and peed in between into the bushes! It is so disgusting. This isn’t one or two incidents. Tonight, in the 30 minutes it took me to cook dinner, six – yes SIX drivers – peed in front of me. I wrote all the license plates down and emailed them to the taxi commission.”

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 (6 per cent), gangs and gang violence (also six per cent), dangerous/aggressive dogs (5 per cent) and vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles (4 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 by post until 5pm on Wednesday 8 June. Download an application form from aboutmyvote.co.uk

What you say

“I very much appreciate your newsletters”

“I do appreciate your hard work. I am very pleased to hear about your ongoing work regarding diesel fumes in Pimlico. Do you think there is any way black cab drivers can be made to turn off their engines when dropping people off as well as when waiting in a queue? Also many people working on homes in the area sit outside in their vans with their engines running.”

“Yet again, another wonderful, informative, and for-us-residents report. Thank you so much for being the Voice of The Actual People who keep the area so ‘desirable’ to outlanders and liveable for residents!”

“Once again, thank you for all your hard work and this excellent report.”

“We really appreciate all your help”

“Thank you very much for the action report. I regret the lack of Area Forums. There was going to be one in Porchester Hall a few weeks back but it was cancelled. I was only informed on the day by post. The notice said it would be re-scheduled but this does not seem to have happened. “

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

 

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – March/April 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Erasmus Street pavement issues

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“A number of areas were marked for repair over 3 years ago. Nothing has happened since and the markings have now faded. There was an improvement with the asphalt surface for the cars renewed. However, the flagstone pavements were not and apart from broken slap stones along a busy pedestrian walk (Primary School and commuting government staff) on the opposite side, along Turner and Rossetti House, there are some potential more serious liabilities emerging. Some of these is in shadowy areas with no light at night or blocked by parking cars. We don’t understand why this can develop this far without being monitored and repaired at an earlier stage. Is the Council’s cheapest contractor policy, sold to us as value for money, starting to backfire? Does the Council still have the capacity to monitor properly?”

Rossetti House, Millbank Estate

We have asked City West Homes to look into this issue:

“For months now, there is wet and brittle brickwork on Millbank Estate’s Rossetti House covered with a loose plastic sheet. It’s a Grade II listed building and in any case it gives the whole street a neglected look. The spot is known for at least 6 years as problematic and has been subject to previous intervention by specialists. Obviously with no success. We local residents are now turning to you in the hope that your intervention may get things going.“

City West Homes have told us:

“Due to the expense of hiring a platform lift to get access to the gutter, MEMO are waiting for other jobs to come forward so the expense of hiring is shared across a number of blocks. I have asked MEMO to tidy up the area and at the very least put a sign up so residents can see why the sheeting is in place. I have been told that the sheeting will be removed and the gutter repaired by the end of this month.”

John Islip Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“May I raise one concern about the developments of Abell and Cleland in John Islip Street. Previously there were some very attractive plane trees growing from beds in the pavement outside the offices. These were removed as part of the development but I am dismayed to see that the replacement pavement does not contain any provision for any planting to soften the monolithic nature of these residences. As they are starker and much taller than the previous government office buildings, the lack of greenery is a real shame. Please could you ask the council to either ensure the developers replace these trees or make provision to replant them.”

The Council say:

Six whitebeams were removed in order to accommodate the development. The s 106 contained a public realm contribution of up to £1million. 12 new trees are shown on a plan attached to the s106. “

Horseferry Road

We have asked the Council to look in to this issue:

“My concern is the parking of buses/coaches on Horseferry Road outside St Johns Gardens. The drivers often leave the engines on. However, this is generating lots of carbon monoxide pollution right outside the park with is used by local residents and office workers. If buses are allowed to park there, then it should be on a strictly engines off basis.”

Ebury Bridge Estate – Police action to tackle drug dealing

The police have reported the following:

“Officers conducted a planned operation to crack down on class A drugs on Wednesday 10 February. Acting on concerns raised by the community, officers carried out a series of dawn raids on 10 addresses on the Ebury Bridge Estate. The warrants are part of a multi agency initiative to stamp out drug dealing and the associated violent crime that accompanies it. So far 7 individuals have been arrested for various offences and remain is Police custody pending further enquiries. Updates will follow in due course.”

Abbey Orchard Street

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

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

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

Residents say:

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

Warwick Way

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Black cabs are queuing for Victoria station down to Warwick Way, leaving their engines running constantly, also in front of the GP surgery. The smells and the fumes are bad and there is no reason for such waste. Is there no way of stopping them? Was I misguided by thinking that Westminster City Council had acted upon idling engines in our area? “

Baker Street/Gloucester Place 2-way proposal

Murad Qureshi, Member of the London Assembly, is undertaking a survey of residents’ views on the Baker Street/Gloucester Place proposals. He says:

“It is my job to listen to your views about Transport for London’s work in London and to push them to make changes. Recently I have been contacted by a number of people in the Marylebone area who are concerned about the proposed changes to Baker Street and Gloucester Place.

You may be aware that Westminster City Council and Transport for London recently consulted on their proposed changes to the road layout. The consultation found that 70% of residents and visitors opposed the overall project, although support was higher for certain aspects of the scheme. A second consultation has been launched that proposes some alternative plans for specific parts of the scheme and I would urge you to respond.

This short survey is designed to run alongside the alternative proposals. I want to know what residents think about the second consultation and the proposed alternatives.”

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/whichwayformarylebone

Holcroft Court

We are making enquiries with City West Homes about this issue:

“I wonder if you could assist with this problem of ‘responsibility ‘ for an investigation about asbestos in our bathroom area. CityWest deny it is their responsibility but my neighbour has documentation from 2011 citing that this is their responsibilities. It may appear that CityWest have changed this policy but they have not consulted leaseholders. Would you be able to shed light on this issue as we are getting conflicting information?”

Chiltern Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue to see if an acceptable solution can be found:

“Residents in Chiltern Street are frustrated by not being able to get anything done about the chimney serving the wood fire burning stove in the Firehouse Hotel.  The Council has successfully persuaded the Hotel to change the fire in the outside courtyard to gas as the chimney for this fire is below the roof level surrounding it.  However, the other chimney, although taller, isn’t high enough to prevent smoke swirling round at the level of the top flats in Wendover Court, Chiltern Street.  We have just had our flats painted and already there is a layer of soot on the windowsills and if we open our windows we can smell and taste the smoke. We have explained this to the Hotel and get a response that ‘the fuel we burn is legal’.  While this is true, the height of the chimney does not allow the smoke to escape efficiently.  The solution is either to make the chimney higher than the surrounding buildings or change the fire from and open wood burning one to a gas fired one.  One solution or the other is acceptable for us (residents) but the current position is very unpleasant and unhealthy.”

Samaritan Hospital, Marylebone Road

We have again asked for an update on when this long-abandoned listed building will be brought back in to use by the NHS.

Great Cumberland Street/Marble Arch – Update

The Council have investigated the cycle stands at this junction and have told us the following:

“There are four cycle stands that were installed as part of the 2013/14 cycle parking programme.  It seems that space on the footway has been reduced recently due to building works.  This should be resolved when the works are complete.  It would cost several thousand pounds to remove and reinstate the cycle racks elsewhere.”

Dufours Place

We are continuing to assist residents with problems affecting security.

Proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge – what you say

“Like you and other residents of Pimlico, we are opposed to this bridge being built. However, the matter cannot just rest there. The local authorities together with the press, should be made aware of the weight of public opinion is against this project. Thank you for your support in opposing this white elephant.”

“I’m delighted your opposed to this vanity project. Please keep me advised of your progress and any support I can give as a Pimlico resident, many thanks.”

“The Belgravia Residents Association have written strongly objecting to our local MP over this proposed bridge as per your news letter. We wholeheartedly support the stance adopted by Murad on behalf of his constituents.”

“What excellent work you have been doing and especially for us at Dolphin Square over the unwanted Bridge!!”

Marylebone cycleway – what you say

“Westminster proposes a cycleway which is of no commercial value, and a danger to residents, and coming past Marylebone Mews. The consultation suggests a snaked route including closing down the major west-travelling artery of New Cavendish Street to one lane all the way from the Post Office Tower to Wimpole Street, and providing a two-way cycle-way. All of our emergency services come from east of Euston Station, not least the Fire Brigade. How on earth could they get here in single file traffic crossing dozens of other roads?”

Baker Street and Gloucester Place two-way proposal – what you say

“You only have to see the disastrous effect this will have on the traffic when recently Baker Street was dug up leaving one lane open for traffic. How dustcarts, delivery lorries, buses and what-have-you are supposed to cope with this is beyond me.”

“I am concerned that the scheme as it stands benefits the businesses of Baker Street at the expense of residents in the area, especially on Gloucester Place. “

Edgware Road pedestrian crossings – what you say

“It is very difficult to cross the Edgware Road in one go and that this is a dangerous junction generally.  We have repeatedly requested improvements for pedestrians at this and other junctions on the Edgware Road but to no avail as TFL insists that traffic flow has absolute priority. We have recently been contacted by TFL/Westminster on a consultation to create a cycle quiet way across the Edgware Road at the Burwood Place junction.  These proposals are very poorly thought through and would result in considerable additional danger and disruption from HGVs, particularly past Hampden Gurney school as well as requiring HGVs to make impractical and dangerous manoeuvres to get into Brendon Street.  However, unfortunately the proposals do not include any alteration to the Edgware Road crossings and nothing in the proposal would improve pedestrian safety – indeed it would worsen the situation for pedestrians on Harrowby Street and particularly for children crossing the road to get to school.”

Air Quality – what you say

“Would you not agree that the air quality in Central London has got worse since TFL started to issue 600-800 per week licenses to private hires. London now has 65,000-85,000 Private hire vehicles causing the air pollution. Should there not be a cap to the number of licenses issued.  Further why is TFL/Govt allowing UBER the non UK tax company to operate. “

What you say

“Thank you once again for an extremely useful and informative service.”

“Whilst not a Labour voter I think your newsletter is exemplary, well worthwhile and I always read it.”

“Thank goodness you’re there. We have no representation at all in Marylebone from our councillors, and now it shows.”

“Thank you for your excellent roundup of issues in Westminster and for your ongoing representation of local residents.”

“Many thanks for continuing with these reports – it’s good to know that you and your colleagues are taking up issues on our behalf.”

“I’m in grateful receipt of your report”.

“I would like to thank you for persisting with this very important newsletter.”

“Thank you for your round robin update, it’s always appreciated.”

“I am definitely voting for you.  Please alert me when the opportunity comes up.”

“Thank you for the updates and all the hard work that you have been doing for the people of Westminster.”

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

 

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – January/February 2016

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Vauxhall Bridge Road/Causten Street, adjacent to the White Swan.

We have again asked Transport for London to investigate this issue:

“There is a concern about the potential clash between cyclists and pedestrians at the intersection of VBR and Causten Street, adjacent to the White Swan.  This is a heavy footfall pedestrian crossing used by people going to and from Pimlico tube station.   Although the pavement colouring and texture clearly indicate this is a pedestrian right of way, cyclists are habitually claiming it as their own, continuing without breaking their speed through the pedestrians. There needs to be a sign well in advance of the intersection advising cyclists that they do not have right of way and may even have to dismount.”

TfL say:

“This location has recently been reconstructed as part of Cycle Superhighway 5, a new segregated cycle route from Oval to Pimlico. Owing to space constraints adjacent to the White Swan public house, a shared area has been provided which means cyclists and pedestrians share the footway space and are required to give way to each other. Following the launch of the route in November we have arranged police presence at this location to educate both pedestrians and cyclists on how to use this new layout.

A meeting took place between TfL officers, safety auditors and Westminster City Council officers to address similar concerns. While it is acknowledged there needs to be a bedding-in period and the area needs to be monitored over time, additional measures were agreed and are expected to be implemented in the early months of 2016. These measures will aim to raise awareness of both cyclists and pedestrians, including:

  • ‘Slow’ markings on the approach to the shared area to warn cyclists
  • ‘Give way’ symbols on the approach to the shared area to warn cyclists
  • Cycle logo paving slabs to be inset to advise pedestrians of cyclists’ presence

I anticipate these measures will provide further clarity of use in the area and reduce conflict.”

Erasmus Street

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I have been monitoring the traffic island we cleared some month ago in Erasmus Street. This pile of rubbish has been building up over the past 2 weekends with white goods now added. Do we have to look at this over Christmas? The Council’s monitoring is not working as there are other street corners around Millbank Estate where blue bags are starting to build up again.”

The Council said:

“I have arranged for all dumped waste at this site to be cleared as a matter of urgency. I have also tasked the local City Inspector with monitoring this location as a matter of priority to identify residents or businesses who are fly-tipping at this location and to take enforcement action against them as appropriate.:

A satisfied resident told us:

“Thank you. Excellent result, all cleared up”

Great Minster House, Marsham Street

We are making further enquiries on behalf of residents on the latest up-to-date situation on the Sainsbury’s planning application following the Planning appeal submitted by Sainsbury’s.

The Council says:

“We have just recently received the appeal decision and the Inspectorate has resolved to allow the appeal and grant planning permission. The owners also applied for costs but this was turned down. The application was recommended for approval and the Planning Committee decided to refuse consent so the appeal was fought on the basis the application was unacceptable.”

Proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge

We have reaffirmed our opposition to the proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge. At the Environment Scrutiny Committee on 18th January, Labour Councillor Murad Gassanly, said:

“We have raised strong objections to the proposed bridge and ensured local residents views have been made clear to Westminster and Wandsworth Councils. We need the Council to be the voice of local residents – we need the council to reject the bridge at any landing point in Pimlico. The campaign against the bridge has been led by the Pimlico Alliance, a resident led campaign who have done sterling work in raising public awareness of the impact of the bridge. It is residents who have led this campaign and they who have said time and time again – no to the bridge.”

“Wandsworth Council’s disrespect for local opinion can be seen by their much repeated claim that the bridge will enable Pimlico residents to visit the Nine Elms Waitrose as if this was the clinching argument. This says a lot about how they view Pimlico, as well as their lack of insight to how Pimlico people feel about the bridge.”

We are continuing to work closely with local residents to voice our strong opposition to Wandsworth Council’s proposal. Residents say:

“I’m writing to you regarding the new bridge planned on the Pimlico side of SW1. We do not want to loose any further public accessible green spaces in SW1. St George’s Square and indeed the garden and Westminster Boating Base are a valuable community asset used by many families, caring dog owners and professionals to escape cramped housing conditions in Central London.”

“Presumably it is for the benefit of all those new flats going up at Battersea, so that they can get to Pimlico and Sloane Square to shop! I dread the consequences for the latter. We shall be swamped. And where are they going to put their bikes when they get there? “

“I am so pleased that the Labour councillors are backing us against this bridge.”

Junction of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Lupus Street

We have asked Transport for London to look into this issue:

“These lights are synced in a very inefficient way resulting in tail backs to St George’s Square at peak time. The reason is that the lights need to be in sync with the junction of Vauxhall Bridge Road and John Islip Street to allow traffic to actually exit Lupus Street onto Vauxhall Bridge Road. I appreciate it is not very clear on email but anyone observing for five minutes at rush hour will be able to see the problem. I am not sure who is responsible for this but would be grateful if they were able to look into this.”

TfL tell us:

“As you know up until the end of October there was extensive works on Vauxhall Bridge Road as part of the new Cycle Superhighway route 5. During this time it was essential to ensure that key locations such as Victoria and Vauxhall gyratory were protected from ‘locking up’ and causing wide spread network congestion. Traffic signal timings in this area had to be adjusted to enable traffic to keep moving through the construction areas. Now the CS5 construction works are complete and in light of your comments, we will review the signal timings at this location so that traffic exiting from Drummond Gate (Lupus Street) can join more easily on to Vauxhall Bridge Road.”

Paddington ‘Pole’

We have welcomed the announcement of a delay in the Paddington Pole proposals, that we first called for in December when the developers first submitted their planning application and Westminster Council sought to push ahead with the application for a decision in early March 2016.

We have been clear that the scheme proposed failed to deliver for local people, changing the skyline dramatically but failing to to provide much needed affordable housing. The excellent campaigning work by local residents, the Skyline Campaign, SEBRA and others have helped now force the developers and the council to see sense and delay the project.

The designers must now go back to the drawing board and come back with a radically revised plan that dramatically reduces the height of any new building and significantly increases the number of social and genuinely affordable homes in Westminster generated by the scheme.

Labour group leader Councillor Adam Hug said:

“Westminster residents won’t accept only cosmetic changes to the Paddington Pole plans, shaving off just a few floors and hoping no one notices. There must be a real rethink about how this important site is used so that it benefits local people. We must all remain vigilant to ensure that this happens.”

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.”

Great Cumberland Street/Marble Arch

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

The corner of Oxford Street and Great Cumberland Place at Marble Arch must be one of the busiest pedestrian areas in London. So the fact that a very full bicycle stand is positioned there right outside the Pret a Manger shop seems extremely poor planning. As there are building works going on there as well, you can only pass one at a time and so the people congestion and mothers with pushchairs and people in wheelchairs, guests coming and going from the hotel. people heading for the taxi rank, Marble Arch tube station and so on forces many to walk on the road – which is of course very busy with cars, buses motorbikes and cyclists. In my opinion there is a major accident waiting to happen and I suggest that someone has a look as soon as possible – the easiest solution would be to relocate the bicycle stand further up Great Cumberland Place.”

Spring Mews, W1

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I live in Spring Mews, off Crawford St W1 and we rarely have street sweepers in to clean the street. As it’s not a main road it tends to get ignored. We have numerous cigarette butts that are left by Ishtar restaurant staff and patrons in the street, as well as loose road/tar gravel and small stones. I have complained to both Ishtar and Westminster council who react temporarily but it would be good to have a more focused attention by the council in the area.”

The Council say:

“Thank you for highlighting this problem.  I have asked the local Veolia manager to monitor the quality and frequency of sweeping in Spring Mews over the next few weeks. The schedule is for it to be swept each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I have also asked the local City Inspector to speak to the restaurant manager to look at ensuring their staff and customers are not causing litter problems in the Mews.”

 

Marylebone Road/Park Crescent

We have asked the Road Safety Team to look in to this issue:

“There seems to be a problem for traffic and pedestrians at the junction of these two roads. When traffic is driving north along Park Crescent, road works have closed the way ahead into the park, so they are turning left as pedestrians are crossing on a green man. Twice this morning I was nearly knocked down by cars coming out and turning left as I crossed Marylebone Road on a green man. I realise this is a temporary situation, but I hope something can be done.”

Edgware Road/Burwood Place

We have written to Transport for London about the problems crossing Edgware Road:

“There is an issue in Edgware Road, W2, at the pedestrian crossing from Barclays Bank over to Argos, corner of Burwood Place.    It is virtually impossible to cross both crossings at the same time, and pedestrians are left languishing on the middle island for over a minute.  The long wait to reach the pavements on both sides of very busy Edgware Road leads to pedestrians’ frustration, and to taking risks in crossing when the red light is against them.

To add to the problem, cars come round from Burwood Place like bats out of hell when it is – ostensibly – safe to cross, and are unaware of the crossing, the traffic lights and the need to stop when the red light prohibits further access to Edgware Road.  I have nearly been run down on several occasions recently. Our local councillors in Hyde Park Ward know about these issues but nothing seems to happen.   Could you possibly raise them with WCC or TfL”

TfL have told us:

“Where possible the signal timings here do operate to give pedestrians the opportunity to cross both halves of the crossing in one movement. This is however dependent on when in the cycle you arrive and from what direction you are travelling. The infrastructure at this specific location does not currently allow us to give more time to pedestrians crossing from the north west or south east side of Edgware Road. There are however plans to modify this junction next year, which will give us the ability to do this and the potential to improve the linking further for pedestrians.”

Pedestrian crossings on Marylebone Road

We asked TfL why pedestrian cannot cross Marylebone Road in one go. This is the response we have received:

“All the traffic signals on Marylebone Road work in unison to manage any delays that may occur along the entirety of this section of road. All vehicle and pedestrian signals are therefore timed to work in parallel with one another whilst giving pedestrians as much opportunity as possible to cross both halves of the crossing in one movement. However, dependent on when during the signal cycle pedestrians arrive at the crossing, there will be times they will have to wait in the central island to complete the movement.

While it is possible to cross in one movement at both locations referred to in your email, it is not possible at all crossing points on Marylebone Road. If we implemented full width pedestrian crossings at all locations on Marylebone Road it would have a significant negative impact on the operation of Marylebone Road, creating additional delays at a number of locations.

Unfortunately, I cannot therefore commit to modifying the crossing points but I can assure you we are vigilant to changing behaviours and demand, and that we undertake frequent reviews to ensure our junctions work in the most effective way.”

Air Quality

We have asked the Council and TfL to investigate this suggestion from a resident:

“There was a recent article in the Sunday Times regarding a novel US technology which can measure exhaust emissions and identify cars which are emittng above the agreed limits. This could provide a solution to London’s air quality problem. The costs could be recouped by fining the small minority of drivers whose cars are the largest part of the problem. For more details please see the manufacturer’s website at:

http://heatremotesensing.com/

The article in the Sunday Times (available on the above website) indicates that they are interested in deploying this technology in the UK. Is this something which you could promote in Westminster? Emissions monitoring in this way is a practical way of tacking our air quality problem – and I can see too many other ways of achieving this without draconian steps (e.g. banning 50% of cars each day in London).”

Vauxhall Bridge Road – what you say

“I share the concern over the pavement by the Swan pub in Vauxhall Bridge Road. I was hit by a cyclist when pushing my daughter’s wheelchair across in the dark and have witnessed two other near collisions with pedestrians. It is very confusing for both cyclists and pedestrians.”

Crossing on Pimlico Road – what you say

“I do not understand the need for this, as there is a crossing right outside the school, which is only about 30 metres from where the proposed crossing is going to go, and there is another on the corner of Pimlico Road and Passmore Street”

Basement extensions – what you say

“Despite all rational and legal efforts we are now dealing with the very unhappy decision to grant a double basement next door to us in Lyall Mews.   We face at least three years of noise, vibration and disruption.

Only yesterday surveyors came to access the placement of vibration sensors all over our exterior walls, and along the party wall.  The surveyor noted that the possibility of substantial cracks along all walls, not to mention the inconvenience and torture of noise, vibration and filth.  

 I believe that the system of granting permissions should be re examined and that public debate at the time of deciding meeting should be allowed.  We were not allowed to question the decision and we had to sit in shock and silence as the issue was approved in less than ten minutes. “

What you say

“Great community information”

“Keep up the good work”

“Thank you as always for this very informative news letter.”

“As always, a fascinating report which shows how much is being done for us.”

“Thank you for everything you do for Westminster City Council. It is much appreciated.”

“Thank you so much for another wonderful report”

“Many of us in the area appreciate the exceptional work you do in chasing up these local issues on our behalf.”

“Thank you as always for your very informative Action Report, and for your help on our behalf.”

“Again thank you for all your information. I enjoy hearing about all the events in the Marylebone area which I am familiar with.”

“I went away for a couple of days, and returned on Saturday to find exceptionally clean steps, and fresh smelling basement area – and no pigeons! It has been a joy to walk up and down (well in my case – hobble) but a pleasure anyway. Thank you – to all involved, including the people who did the spikes and cleaned everywhere.”

“Thanks again for all your updates”

“Thank you for your help and for all that you do on our behalf in improving daily life in and around Westminster.”

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

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – November/December 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have taken up this issue with the Council:

“I am a bit worried by the pavement part of the new cycle lane by White Swan Pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road. I think there is the possibility for great danger to pedestrians and cyclists alike there. Hope I am wrong.”

“From what I’ve seen cyclists don’t understand that outside White Swan pub is pavement not cycleway.  Pedestrians are also wandering along cycleway – it is at same level – a bit of a mess pavement. I hope I am wrong but crashes, destruction, verbal abuse and litigation could well follow.”

Vincent House, Regency Street

We have taken up a series of issues with City West Homes raised by residents regarding repairs, leaseholder charges and the general maintenance of the block.

Millbank Estate – Broadband

We are making enquiries with the Council about the long awaited arrival of high speed broadband to the Millbank Estate. Residents say;

“Millbank residents have been waiting for 3 years for news on broadband progress. Millbank residents experienced a previous 5 years saga on the CWH Digital Switchover programme.”

Chapter Street – Update

We are continuing to press the Council to improve refuse collection at various properties in the street. Residents say they are concerned about:

the unacceptable level of rubbish management carried out by Westminster City Council. We have rough sleepers in the vicinity and this packaging kindly provided by occupiers of 16-18 Douglas Street is an unexpected bonus of an insulating mattress. 16-18 Douglas Street have their own provisions for recycling as well as rubbish collection. In my experience anybody and everybody contribute to the bins in Chapter Street as the bins are always available to the world and his wife.”

Westminster College, Vincent Square

We have asked the Council for an update about this issue:

“Is there anything that can be done to expedite the work on this building which is taking an unconscionable time?”

Westminster Fire Station

A local group has just received the very disappointing news that Westminster City Council will not be listing Westminster Fire Station as an Asset of Community Value.  This means that the fire station will pass from being a public building into private hands, ending a history of more than 100 years of public service.

http://www.westendextra.com/news/2014/jul/%E2%80%98save-it%E2%80%99-bid-claims-westminster-fire-station-community-asset

Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge

We are continuing to work closely with local residents to oppose Wandsworth Council’s proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge. Residents say:

“Pimlico residents do not see the purpose of this fast cycling route and pedestrian path for several reasons:

  • Vauxhall Bridge already connects the two boroughs of Westminster and Wandsworth
  • The bridge will destroy beautiful gardens/trees and squares in Pimlico
  • It will create more traffic jams in Pimlico and overload the Pimlico underground station.
  • And sadly it will destroy many peoples lives here in Pimlico by destroying Pimlico Village/ community

 People also feel that is costly and that the money could be better spent on more needed projects.”

Councillor Jason Williams, Churchill Ward, said:

“Wandsworth should call time on this unwanted vanity project. They’ve refused to listen to a large number of residents in Pimlico who don’t want the bridge. There has been a large community petition against the bridge and a wide ranging community campaign and yet Wandsworth still plough on without regard to the views of residents.  We call on Wandsworth Council to cancel this project before even more public money is spent on its development. “

Warwick Way/Cambridge Street junction – update

We have received the following update from the Council following our request for an investigation of safety concerns:

 “There has been one serious personal injury accident at the junction of Warwick Way and Cambridge Street over the 36 month period up to the end of May 2015. The accident involved a pedestrian who ran out onto Warwick Way into the path of a taxi causing a collision.

 Whilst the desire for a zebra crossing at this location is noted it is not considered that there is the justification for a crossing on both safety and operational grounds. There is not a significant level of casualties and on-street observations reveal that for the majority of the day there are sufficient gaps in the traffic flow for pedestrians to cross at the junction using the existing crossing points. In addition, owing to the layout of the junction if a zebra crossing was to be provided it would be likely to involve kerb alterations and affect the level of kerbside parking.”

Pimlico Road

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“Do you happen to know why the crossing on Pimlico Road (near Ebury Street) has not gone in yet? It has been postponed twice and the school is now back so … it is quite dangerous for the girls popping into Starbucks.”

 C10 Bus Route

We are supporting residents who have asked London Buses to increase the frequency of the buses on the C10 route;

 “Due to some pipe laying works in Lupus Street suddenly with only the notice that the bus stop is closed at Pimlico Station – both directions, there is a considerable distance between the remaining one on Lupus Street (Post Office) and the next at John Islip Street. There is an equally long separation between Lupus St Post Office and Victoria Coach Station where the bus stop at Ebury Bridge is closed. This is not at all ‘friendly’ for those with walking difficulties.  In this case it appears as though a short term temporary stop could have been arranged at the ‘expense’ of loss of two short term parking spaces.”

 1 Dorset Street

 We are supporting local residents who are opposing the proposals for this building. Residents say they are opposed to

  • Loss of amenity– seriously negative effects will ensue – of privacy, light and noise – for all surrounding residents and properties.
  • Change of usefrom office to residential – further, damaging, “hollowing-out” of Marylebone Village.
  • Loss of “Monocle”– the very positive effect that this tenant has had on the area for the last three years will come to an end. Monocle has been a great asset for several years, supporting local businesses and the community.
  • Trees– Paddington Gardens avenue of mature trees comes under threat through possible root-system damage.
  • Appearance– proposals are two storeys higher than the existing property as well as too bulky for the confined space. Entirely inappropriate “abutting” onto nearby properties – notably St Andrews Mansions – will result in a “hemmed-in” feeling for many local residents.  The design is also insensitive to the surrounding Georgian and Edwardian architecture.

Marylebone Road pedestrian crossings

One of the regular issues raised by residents is the difficulty of crossing Marylebone Road in ‘one go’ at various locations, including outside Baker Street Station and other locations, unless you sprint across the road the moment the green man shows. As one resident put it: “It is only possible to get half-way across before the lights change leaving the decision to stay and inhale diesel fumes or risk running the rest of the way. “

We have also noticed that now that the metal railings have been removed from some of the central island locations, it appears the time allowed for pedestrians to cross has been reduced, no doubt on the basis that now the obstacles have been reduced pedestrians can run across the road unimpeded.

We have written to TfL to ask that the crossing times for pedestrians is increased.

Dufours Place

We have again written to Soho Housing Association about the continuing problems with the front door at 7 Dufours Place.

Richmond Mews

We are continuing to work with residents in Richmond Mews who are fighting the anti-social behaviour from commercial premises who are causing late night and early morning noise and rubbish dumping.

Warwick Way pedestrian crossing – what you say

“Although moving the crossing would make things slightly easier for me to exit Winchester Street into Warwick Way, the move may make things more difficult for slow-moving elderly residents visiting the Open Age facilities in Glastonbury House if they’re coming from the South side of the West end of Warwick Way. There are no pedestrian signals at the Warwick Way/St Georges Drive junction, but you rarely see anyone having any difficulty in crossing as there is a short interval when both vehicle traffic lights are red and it is usually easy to gauge how safe it is to cross.”

Ebury University Technical College proposal – what you say

“The consultation was flawed. Westminster Council has made the process difficult for residents. Staff have been dismissive and misleading. Many residents are very angry. I don’t see how a person at the Council can ruin thousands of people’s lives for the benefit of a few.”

 66 Chiltern Street – what you say

 “What I don’t understand is why building sites are not fined for working late? Westminster issues parking fines, refuse fines, licensing fines etc. I was fined for stopping outside Oxfam to deliver my unwanted books! It seems there is one law for property developers and a different law for everybody else. This development is repeatedly working late and there is no deterrent for them to finish on time. I suggested to them they pay a self-imposed fine every time they work late, and this money be put to use for children and elderly in the community but they refused.”

 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?”

Garden Bridge – what you say

“What happens in the likely event that the Garden Bridge Trust runs out of the wherewithal to complete the project? The pressure on WCC to come to the rescue of a half-built bridge would be immense.

That the Trust finances are precarious is clear from the recent deal with Lambeth, where the charity’s very existence hung on a £20m “loan” from TfL. But even with the “loan” from TfL and the £30 million subsidy from the Treasury the Trust is still £30 million short of its target of £175m. Inevitably the costs will rise even further and, given that it can’t even rustle up enough support to breach the present gap and is dependent on public money just to get within striking distance, it is unrealistic to expect the Trust will be able to meet the eventual cost. Somebody is going to have to step in and, given the furore, that’s probably not going to be the Treasury, and certainly not Lambeth or TfL who will by then be having to write off its “loan”. Inevitably WCC will be getting a knock on the door.”

 What you say

“Many thanks for this update – very informative as always”

“Thank you for the work that you and your colleagues do in our Ward. It is needed as our three Conservative Councillors are virtually invisible.”

“Thank you for another very informative newsletter”

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

If you do not wish to receive our Action Reports please let us know and we will remove you from our distribution list.

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg,

Labour Built Environment spokesperson

 

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – September/October 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Baker Street Two Way proposal – update

The Council has proposed two revisions to the two-way plans in response to the 1,500 letters and emails from residents and business during the consultation. The revisions are:

“The banned left turn from Gloucester Place onto Marylebone Road will be removed from the scheme, which as a result would negate any possible increase of traffic on York Street, which would retain its current two way operation west of Gloucester Place.”

“Review the current designs for Ivor Place, as well as those covering the Dorset Square Conservation Area, in order to ensure no adverse effects are felt in those areas.”

However, as residents have pointed out, the Council is:

“Not willing to review the right turn from Park Road into Rossmore Road”

Glentworth Street residents have told us:

“Thank you for raising the profile of this issue with the general public. Our position is slightly more nuanced then your email suggests. The residents association is not opposed to the scheme as a general principle. We are opposed to any increases of traffic on residential roads. We are concerned that a potential ran run will be created down Glentworth Street, hence the “Save Our Street” sign. We are also opposed to the closed of the exit from Ivor Place on to Park Road as it would necessarily increase traffic. If the council can implement the scheme so that it benefits residents, then we could support it. Having said this, I cannot speak everyone in our block of flats as there are many who oppose the scheme full stop.”

Bryanston and Dorset Ward By-Election – Thursday 22nd October 2015

You can apply for a postal vote to vote in the forthcoming by-election by completing this form and returning it it ASAP to City Hall;

https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/workspace/assets/publications/Postal-Vote-Application-1244470313.pdf

Marylebone Road Underpass

We are supporting residents who have written to Transport for London to ask:

“Have you analysed what percentage of people crossing Marylebone Road do so by the underpass? It is inconvenient for those with luggage, shopping trolleys, prams, or anyone who has difficulty negotiating stairs. This suggests it is mainly used by fit, unencumbered people, not by the disadvantaged. The subway, even revamped, will remain an ideal place for vagrants and pickpockets to hang out. Has the option been considered of blocking the underpass permanently and just providing improved crossings at surface level? Although pedestrian underpasses were in favour in the 1970s, I understand that the trend in other European countries now is towards crossings at street level.”

Crossing Marylebone Road

We have asked TfL to investigate this issue:

“An irritation I have are the traffic lights to cross Marylebone Road by the Landmark Hotel – the south one does not seem to go green so it feels like you are having to take a punt on whether you get run over; they don’t sync up for more than a few seconds so you are usually stuck in the middle breathing in the fumes.”

Upper Berkeley Street – street clutter

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“I would like to draw your attention to the left over traffic signs that currently occupy Upper Berkeley Street, making it impossible for two way pedestrians to pass. Not only that but I am sure that these metal signs have a cost and in the days where councils are cutting back I think that they should be aware of expensive equipment being left out on the street paid for by Westminster residents via council tax.”

The Council says:

“Our Road Management Team has looked into this and has inspected the area several times. On the issue of barriers we were unfortunately unable to find any as part of our inspections. The usual suspects for such issues are either utilities or our own contractors.”

Upper Berkeley Street – scaffolding

We have reported this issue to the Council for investigation:

“There seems to an abundance of scaffolding going up around Marylebone with no health and safety or compliance to the people walking. On many occasions pedestrians are directed in to oncoming traffic. At one building site on Upper Berkeley they are erecting scaffolding and throwing bags on to the pavement below without a care in the world. Who is checking these people? Do they supply method statements and Risk Assessments? Please have someone check on the scaffolding erected above 23 Upper Berkeley Street”

The Council has told us:

“The scaffolding that is causing concern is all on private land and as such has not been subject to any licence or monitoring from the Road Management Team. However, the concerns raised have been passed over to the City Inspector for the area and I understand that the contractor has been spoken to with regards to their site.”

A local resident says:

“I respect the fact that this is being dealt with very promptly and efficiently and more important you actually lived up to your promises of investigation and getting back to me.”

GeorgeMontagu rubbishGeorge Street/Montagu Street

We have reported the regular overflowing Big Black Bins and dumped rubbish at this location.

Cycling Quietway

Westminster City Council is proposing a Quietway Route from Edgware Road to Fitzrovia

The section of this route being consulted on within the City of Westminster is approximately 2km in length. The streets affected by these proposals are Harrowby Street, Seymour Place, Crawford Street, Paddington Street, Nottingham Place, Nottingham Street, Marylebone High Street, Devonshire Street, Great Portland Street and Carburton Street.

In Great Portland Street, the council is proposing to rearrange the street layout to enable two-way cycling, and a new traffic signal to help cyclists and pedestrians cross the road. Changes to parking bays and kerbside restrictions will also be made.

The plans will allow two-way cycling along Carburton Street to help create a link for cycling between Camden and Westminster, especially for less confident cyclists.

As part of the consultation, Westminster will be holding two public exhibitions for people to attend and learn about the route. The plans — which are also online — will give people the chance to view the detailed designs, as well as meet the design team and discuss the project.

Quietway Route from Edgware Road to Fitzrovia. Public exhibition: Marylebone Library, Macintosh House, 54 Beaumont Street, W1G 6DW. Tuesday 29 September, 4-8pm; Saturday 3 October, 10am-4pm.

York Street Chambers – Update

We have received this update for residents from Octavia:

“I have spoken to the Assistant Director of the team in asset management who tells me that they are not currently contemplating anything other than pruning the tree in the garden at you flats. They are scheduled to have a look at it but at the moment there are no other plans. I hope this will allay your fears. “

Residents say:

“We are all keen to protect and preserve its life – as not only does it provide us tenants with so much seasonal enjoyment and tranquility – but also serves as a critical and functional defence mechanism in combatting the Marylebone Road non-stop pollution – Europe’s highest polluted area.”

Chapter Street/Douglas Street

We have raised these issues with the Council:

“The recycling bins serving our building – 17 Chapter Street – are located in Douglas Street in the entrance to the shared car park entrance with Baltimore Court, Vauxhall Bridge Road. I recently complained to Westminster about the mess in this area. Not only were a variety of nearby property occupiers dumping stuff in this area as well as the bins, the presence of the bins means it is generally used as a toilet. As a result of further consultation between Westminster, Notting Hill and Peabody Trust the area is much cleaner and the soiling has reduced significantly. The entrance to the garage ramp is also private property supervised by Peabody Trust. Much as I would prefer an alternative location I doubt this can be achieved. Baltimore Court have a bin store in Chapter Street but the installation of the recycling bin in front of the bin store doors they obliged to have the other bins on the pavement which regularly overflow on to the pavement.”

Orleans Court, Douglas Street

We have written to Network Stadium Housing Association about this issue:

“We have had an issue for the last two years (2013 to 2015) with Network Housing Association about increased costs for cleaning. They took out a contract and increased the cost by 60% we went to the Leaseholders Tribunal who ruled in our favour but it is only just now that they are returning the overpayment and have shown our service charge accounts in debit for this time. The Leaseholders Act states that if they are going to overspend by £250 they have to tell us at the time and inform us where the money has been taken from but this never happens and we are expected to pay at the end of each year without any explanation.”

Causton Street

We are continuing to press the Council to take action against those responsible for the rubbish dumping by the big black bins in Causton Street.

Anti-social behaviour

We have asked the Council to investigate these reports from residents:

“I am concerned about increasing levels of antisocial behaviour in the area. It is not unusual to be woken up late at night or early in the morning by disturbances in Page Street, as indeed was the case last night where one party was heard to proclaim loudly an intention to “stab the f***ing eyes out” of one or more other parties. In addition there are an increasing number of vagrants, drunks and beggars, particularly outside the cash machines on Horseferry Road and in St Johns public garden”

Vincent Square Police Update

The police report the following;

“Great work from South Cluster SNT who have secured closure orders on two addresses on the Peabody estate. This will no doubt impact on the number of complaints around drug dealing and the associated ASB linked to these properties. The success was largely possible due to the work completed by the Vincent Square SNT regarding intelligence gathering, warrant applications and additional evidential actions. This tremendous result was the culmination of a real team effort involving SNT PC’s and PCSO’s in conjunction with the housing association.”

75 Page Street

We are making enquiries about this issue:

“I have been trying without success to get a response from the Council Planning Enforcement Department concerning the recently constructed new block at 75 Page Street, on the corner of Marsham Court/Page Street. The windows of this building look very odd and completely out of kilter with Marsham Court which surrounds it. So far as I can tell they do not compare well with the designs of the building that were submitted in the planning application. Similarly, large air-conditioning units have lately been fitted which were not part of the planning application.”

The Council has told us they have now started an investigation.

Carey Place – rubbish dumping update

The Council tells us:

“I have asked the local City Inspector to monitor this location and take enforcement action as appropriate against any residents or businesses found to be fly-tipping waste. As I’m sure you will appreciate, proposals to remove or relocate bins can tend to divide opinion amongst local residents. Such proposals are therefore normally only considered where there is evidence of considerable local feeling on the matter.”

Ebury University Technical College

Westminster Council’s Planning Committee has voted by a 3-1 majority in favour of controversial plans for the Ebury Bridge Centre which includes a University Technical College (UTC) and residential tower block, with all of the Conservative councillors voting for the plans. Churchill Councillors Jason Williams, Shamim Talukder and Murad Gassanly expressed the deep concerns of residents in writing and spoke at the Committee meeting against the plans. The college proposal is very divisive due to the massive impact it will have on the community. Also, no affordable housing will be included in the development.

Councillor Jason Williams said, “We have serious concerns about the impact this and the residential building will have on the local community. It is a real issue that this is a school without any outdoor recreation area within the development and we had hoped for the application to be deferred so residents’ concerns could be taken on board.”

Councillor Shamim Talukder said “We had hoped that the committee would have heard local residents’ real concerns at both the height of the residential offer and the impact the college will have on the local community. There were loud gasps in the audience when the illustrations of the impact of the building were shown which shows just what a huge impact this will have in the community.”

Councillor Murad Gassanly commented, “I’m really disappointed that the views of the local residents haven’t been taken account of in making this decision. This really brings home why we have been calling for local residents to be able to speak at Planning Committees so those directly affected by proposals can put their point of view.”

Warwick Way

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

“Please could you look into crossing Warwick Way while walking down Cambridge Street. This crossing point is very dangerous – Warwick Way is very busy at rush hour with cars often speeding up to catch the traffic lights (which have no pedestrian crossing) at the junction between Warwick Way and St George’s Drive. This route down Cambridge Street is an important thoroughfare for pedestrians and is particularly used in both directions by pedestrians for school/nursery runs. A zebra or some other pedestrian crossing would make this route much safer – perhaps move the zebra crossing between Warwick Way and Winchester St (which is under-utilised) to this crossing instead?”

Denbigh Street

We have asked Sanctuary Housing Association to tell us when a number of long-standing empty properties will be let to tenants in order to ease the housing crisis.

Basements

Karen Buck MP’s bill designed to help local planning authorities restrict the size and depth of basement development has had its first reading in the House of Commons. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 September 2015 under the Ten Minute Rule. This allows an MP to make his or her case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. The Basement Excavation (Restriction of Permitted Development) Bill 2015-16 is expected to have its second reading debate on Friday 29 January 2016.

Ogle Street – Big Black Bins

We have received an update from the Council:

“Thank you for your recent response concerning the Big Black Bin site which was situated on Ogle Street. This site was offered as the nearest alternative for residents still wishing to use a communal bin, but unfortunately due to continued dumping and contamination, the Cabinet Member for City management proposed that the site be removed on an 8 week trial basis, in order to assist identifying offenders and better manage the issues around dumping.

The site is now regularly being visited by officers, and residents have been advised to use their doorstep collection service, which in this locality are 7 days a week. Recycling is once a week (Thursday in this area) which is the same for most streets in the city. The trial is due to end on Thursday 10th September where a final decision on whether the bins are remain permanently removed or are returned will be taken.

Residents can use most general waste bags providing they are secured and waste is contained. The council provide free (blue) recycling bags which should be placed outside on the correct recycling day. The council uses red bags for its commercial waste customers, which again need to be secured and presented outside during the correct time.”

Holcroft Court

We have asked City West Homes to investigate this issue;

“For the past two weeks (at least), there is a large group of homeless men who are sleeping in the alcove area between block D and E. This alcove has disabled exits leading out of block D and Block E respectively. Last night the group consisted of at least 7 men and one woman. Three years ago a similar problem occurred when drug dealing was occurring in precisely the same location. Despite our repeated emails nothing was done until an elderly neighbour was prevented from going into the block and then the Police had to take action. These homeless individuals, who have become our neighbours need the right help and support but sleeping in this locations puts them at risk and exposes them to organise crime and as a consequence we suffer these implications.”

City West Homes say:

“In recent months I have been working with Holcroft Court key residents to develop a scheme that will design out the large alcove areas on the two sides of the block that are attracting rough sleepers. The scheme is nearly ready to go – we are currently waiting to hear back from planning as to whether a planning application is required.
Whilst we have been communicating with key members of the residents association on these works, we have not consulted or communicated with other residents of the block. Given the recent escalation of rough sleepers at Holcroft Court, we will write to all residents to update them on the work we have been doing and our plans to design out the alcove area that has been attracting the rough sleepers.”

Duchess Street

The ‘Evening Standard’ reports:

“A row has broken out over plans to expand a French school in Marylebone to cope with the influx of expats coming to London. The £24,000-a-year independent L’Ecole Internationale Franco-Anglaise has proposed to expand into the Grade II listed 10 Duchess Street within the Harley Street Conservation Area and wants to set up a 175-pupil secondary school to cope with the demand for French-speaking school places. Some residents oppose the plans, saying pupils will cause “pandemonium”. One of the 40 residents who objected to Westminster City Council wrote: “It is unrealistic to imply that there will only be quiet, polite and litter-free children. From personal experience I can assure you that Anglo-French children are no more likely than any other group of similar age to be paragons of virtue.”

Albion Gate, Hyde Park

We have asked the Royal Parks to investigate this issue:

“I wish to add more information regarding cyclists and Hyde Park. The beginning of the main pathway through the park which is listed on the map as “NO CYCLING” but the original lettering on the path to that effect has been eroded over time and I find that it is now mostly visitors using the “Boris Bikes” which cause the issue cycling at speed past pedestrians with children and dogs. Without any police attendance, I don’t know how you can improve on this but replacing the sign might at least help.”

Sheldon Square, Paddington Central

We are taking up a number of issues raised by residents living at Sheldon Square about noisy building works and other environmental issues. One resident says:
“The noise is heard from within my bedroom with the double-glazed window closed.”

Praed Street

We asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Please do something about the huge environmental problem of black cabs waiting with their engines running on the double yellow lines in Praed Street by Paddington Station exit and Hilton hotel. There are often as many as 10”

The Council told us:

“Just to let you know that we have done as you requested and directed our Marshals to focus on this area in terms of enforcement activity and I would hope that there has been some improvement by now. Please let me know if this is not the case.”

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.”

Whitehall

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

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

The Council has told us:

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

Baker Street Two-way proposal – What you say

“Whilst apparently seeking to transform Baker Street and Gloucester Place into pleasant boulevards, these proposals have very serious negative consequences for many of the smaller streets in the area, such as York Street. It would appear inevitable that much more traffic) will be encouraged onto the smaller roads. These small and largely residential roads are quite unsuited to substituting for the proposed massively reduced traffic capacity of Baker Street & Gloucester Place. For example, in York Street, there are already two primary schools, and a growing population of families with children, many of them very young. The increased traffic hazards, and crucially the increase in pollution and further reduction in already dangerous air quality would seem to fly in the face of national as well as European requirements, and will reduce the quality of air and life for residents in every age group. We are very concerned indeed about the overall scheme and in particular the plan to convert York Street into a one way road between Gloucester Place and Upper Montagu Street. This will effectively make York Street part of a one way system from Gloucester Place along York Street, and right onto Upper Montagu Street and onto Marylebone Road.”

Peabody rent increases – what you say

“I have been a Peabody tenant since 1979 (and my family since 1958). Just after your newsletter arrived, I received confirmation of my new rent. It has increased by over £10 per week and the amount was more than Peabody had asked to claim. I am also very worried about the prospect of having to suddenly pay the commercial/asking price for my home which according to the Rent Assessor’s form would be £315 per week. I literally couldn’t sleep last night after getting this notification. Please continue to make this an issue.”

“Thank you for your ongoing help regarding Peabody trying to get us out of our homes. Last week Peabody took one of my neighbours to court for eviction due to rent arrears. This poor lady cannot afford her high rent increases. The hearing was adjourned. Please will you ask Peabody why their solicitor requested that the hearing be held in private? The judge refused this and it was held in open court. Peabody are trying their best to keep secret their intentions which is not democratic.”

Ebury Technical College proposal – what you say

“I am shocked and disheartened with decision made by Westminster Council to approve the development of a 14 storey building across the road from our home.  I heard from neighbours that Westminster Council received a £2 million grant to build college. We were told by Westminster council that they have to build large tower block to pay for college. The whole process has been flawed, a lot of misleading information and many residents still don’t know about this plan. “

Lyall Mews basement developments – what you say

“Westminster Council failed all of us in Lyall Mews when they gave permission for a huge double basement at number 34 (a three to four year project involving the removal of 5,000 square feet of filth), at the same time as a single basement across the narrow road not to mention the double project around the corner at the end. We are involved in extensive negotiations with the owner whose concerns for our safety and lives is minimal. The noise and the dust are already uncontrollable. We will have to move out when things become unbearable.”

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.”

Prudential Ride London 2nd August – what you say

“On Sunday mornings every few weeks I drive a minibus with elderly residents, housebound for the rest of the week, to mass at Holy Apostles Church in Pimlico. I believe they very much look forward to it, for some, it being the only social interaction they have. This Sunday, many roads hundreds of metres from the route, were blocked off due to the Prudential Ride London Event, preventing access to properties where these residents live.

I’m all for cycling, I average fifty miles a week and rely on my cycle to get about in preference to all other modes of transport. I encourage others to take up cycling – it is a healthy, freeing, economical and ecological mode of transport. However, I believe the Prudential Ride London Sunday event is only accessible to a small lycra clad elite and does nothing to facilitate non-cyclists to start and does everything to fuel bitter resentment amongst the rest of the population.”

Parking in Zone E – what you say

“There are several private building projects underway and Westminster has granted suspensions for months at a time which is proving to be a real problem for residents. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a parking space and I would like to suggest that some of the pay-by-phone spaces are converted back to residents’ spaces. We have now lost some spaces in Gilbert St, and on Grosvenor Square which were previously residents spaces and are now Pay by Phone. There are currently five spaces suspended in Dukes Yard, two in Binney St, another three from Aug 25th in Brook St – all suspended for several months. That is eleven spaces just in my immediate vicinity. Please would you consider either changing the pray by phone spaces back to Residents’ parking or at least allow us to use them whilst there are so many suspensions”

What you say

“Thank you so very much for your action report, packed as always with all the Labour group are doing to help Westminster residents.”

“I am so grateful for the work done by the Labour group, and such is the high feeling in our ward about many issues that I really hope a Labour candidate may have a chance the next time the elections for Councillors come around.”

“Thanks for your help in the early stages of our combined efforts to get TradeTeam to deliver to the Porcupine Pub in a manner that does not wake us up in the early hours.”

“Thank you very much for another very informative newsletter.”

“Thanks for your continuing updates, I’ve noticed that the Regent Street/Great Marlbrough St traffic light phasing has finally been improved!!”

“Thank you for your assistance in persuading Soho Housing to lower the temperature in 7 Dufours Place. It has been reduced from 87 to 64 which makes a difference. Hopefully they will adjust it without resistance next summer.”

“I am pleased to receive updates about the issues the Labour group tackles on behalf of local residents.”

“You have restored my faith in pretty much everything. Thank you so much for your kind and timely intervention on my behalf. I cannot express how much I appreciate your help.”

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

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – July/August 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Baker Street two-way proposals

We are supporting the concerns of local residents, as well as the St Marylebone Society and the Marylebone Association who are calling for Westminster Council and Transport for London to take more notice of residents’ views on plans to return Baker Street and Gloucester Place to two-way working.

At the June meeting of the Environment Scrutiny Committee, Councillors heard from Gaby Higgs of the St Marylebone Society and Michael Bolt of the Marylebone Association. Gaby Higgs told the Committee of residents’ concerns that the current proposals would cause ‘rat-runs’ through residential areas and that insufficient information had been provided on how bus and coach traffic would be managed. Michael Bolt told the Committee that residents were concerned that the proposed ban on left turns into Marylebone Road at Gloucester Place would force traffic through York Street and on to Seymour Place. He told the Committee;

“Whilst we are generally supportive of the overall aspirations involved in making these roads two way but we are not supportive of a gold plated scheme which fiddles around with the carriageways to such an extent that we see substantial traffic displacement within our area, and the present scheme is in grave danger of doing just this. The effect of all these changes, plus the reduction in carriageway width on Baker Street and Gloucester Place, will be to move more traffic onto residential streets and spread the pollution noise and disruption to surrounding areas.”

The principle of returning Baker Street and Gloucester Place to two way working after over 50 years might be a good idea, but the devil is in the detail of how it will operate at the key junctions. The consultation so far has not convinced many long-standing residents and more needs to be done to show people how the new road system would work in detail. The weakest link for many people is the proposal to ban the left turn at the Gloucester Place/Marylebone Road junction and the impact that this will have on forcing a great deal of traffic through the residential streets north and south of Marylebone Road. Westminster and TfL have a lot more work to do and listening to residents should be the top priority.

The Westminster Council consultation on the plans closes on 31st July 2015.

You can make your comments here:

http://www.bakerstreettwoway.co.uk/

The Transport for London consultation on the plans to re-route the buses closes on 4th September:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/baker-street/

There is an on-line petition opposing the proposals on the Council’s website http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/bakerstreet/

Gloucester Place

We have reported this issue:

“Over the past fortnight I have called the Council’s Rubbish & Environment line at least four times regarding what appears to be an “abandoned waste” issue at my address.  Each time I have spoken to a very helpful and pleasant member of staff who takes down all the details and informs me it will be resolved within 12 hours.  But it never is – and
when I call again to check on progress, am told the case is “closed”. The situation has been like this for at least 6 weeks and has now become an environmental health issue. The smell is becoming beyond disgusting and will only get worse. “ 

Following reporting this issue the Council told us:“I arranged for the removal of all the waste which I have been informed by our waste contractor has now been completed.
Follow up work is one of education to all the residents that use the basement for their waste storage; this will be undertaken by the Local City Inspector and the Westminster Recycling Team. A letter will be sent out to the residents at the address
with the specifics of their waste management arrangements.”

OMR leakOld Marylebone Road/Harcourt Street

We have asked Thames Water to repair a long-standing water leak at the junction of Old Marylebone Road/Harcourt Street. There is now a large hole in the road which is getting bigger every day.

Crawford Street/Molyneux Street – vacant block of flats

We have called on the Council to urge the owners of the vacant block of flats on the corner of Crawford Street and Molyneux Street to bring them back in use as soon as possible.

The Harcourt, Harcourt Street

We are making enquiries about the future of The Harcourt pub in Harcourt Street which closed earlier this year. The Harcourt was a very popular local pub which was used by many members of the local Swedish community living and working in the Marylebone area.

The Samaritan Hospital, Marylebone Road

We are concerned about the deteriorating condition of the Grade II listed Samaritan Hospital on Marylebone Road which closed in 1997 and looks in poor shape. We have asked the Council if they know if there are any plans for the site.

Proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge

We have called for Wandsworth Council to shelve their plans for their proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge.

Councillor Murad Gassanly said “We remain opposed to the bridge due to its impact on the local community and lack of need given the proximity of Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges, as well as the upcoming cycle superhighway.”

Councillor Shamim Talukder said “The bridge is an unwanted vanity project. We believe the £43m could be better spent on public services rather than wasted on this project.”

Councillor Jason Williams said “It’s very concerning that Wandsworth keep pushing on with this project despite continual opposition from this side of the river. We have been objecting to this bridge from day one and yet Wandsworth refuse to listen to local residents.”

Claverton Street/Grosvenor Road

We have repeated our request to the Council for a pedestrian crossing just before the Claverton Street junction on Grosvenor Road near the layby on the riverside. Residents say “it is a very dangerous road with fast moving traffic and we need to cross to get to our cars”

Balmoral Castle pub, Churchill Gardens

The Churchill Gardens Residents Association has made an application to Westminster City Council to register the Balmoral Castle Public House as Community Asset. They say:

“Following developers bulldozing the Carlton Tavern pub in Maida Vale against the community’s wishes, and without council permission, the Churchill Garden’s Residents Association has made a formal application to apply for the Balmoral Castle to be registered as a Community Asset. Until its closure, the Balmoral Castle was a valued social centre for the Churchill Gardens estate, and it should become so again. We believe the loss of this property would also be detrimental to the character of the conservation area, and would sever an important historic link to Victorian Pimlico and those workers who were instrumental in the building of the Pimlico Cubitt estate. We understand a commercial offer has been made to the council but they have yet to make a decision on the future of the pub. We hope that it can now be returned to the community that it has served for over the past 100 years”

Causton Street

We are taking up this issue with the Council:

“Can you please help us? We have had endless trouble with the re-siting of recycling bins in Causton Street. The recycling lorries collect what is in the bin, but not the rubbish which is dumped alongside them. We are obliged to call the council when we can see piles of plastic bags, pizza boxes, general rubbish bags etc piled around the bins. We now have once again to spend huge amounts of money in getting a Pest Control Company over and above the normal visits. In Cureton Street there are Recycling bins for absolutely everything and we always used to take our stuff there. We never had a problem with vermin until these bins were sited in Causton Street. We have tried to get them removed but it`s now become a serious problem for the residents of St Georges Mansions.”

Erasmus Street

We are making enquiries about this problem:

“The pavement in Erasmus Street had a large number of flagstones marked for replacement or repair. This was over 2 years ago. The markings by now have gone but the pavement leading to Millbank Primary School, and used by large numbers of commuters working at nearby ministries, has further deteriorated and parts are becoming dangerous.”

Herrick Street

We have asked the Council for an update on this issue:

“Over the years a number of complaints were made to the Council about trucks and coaches trying to use the narrow Herrick Street and getting stuck at the end of it. They need to reverse and regularly damage parked cars on their journey back that can take up to 20 minutes along residents’ windows. We have asked repeatedly that the street should be marked “for local traffic use only”.”

Turner House, Millbank Estate‏

We are making enquiries with City West Homes on behalf of a number of residents of Turner House who have long-standing problems.

Peabody rent increases

We have written to the Chief Executive to try to arrange a meeting about rent increases. We have said:

“A number of Peabody tenants in the Pimlico area have contacted me about the rent increases over recent years and the concerns they have for their own situation and for the future of the area as a place where people on moderate incomes can afford to live. I am sure that these concerns will not be a surprise to you as residents tell me that this issue has been raised with housing managers over the years. Would it be possible for me to meet those responsible for managing your Pimlico properties so that I can understand your rental policies and the steps you are taking to ensure that people on moderate incomes can afford to live in Pimlico?”

Vincent Square Neighbourhood proposal

Residents say the Council promised that they would hear about the Vincent Square Neighbourhood proposal by April/May. It’s now the end of June. We have asked the Council what is the latest situation?

Cambridge Street

We have asked the Council’s Highways Department to investigate this issue:

“Walking down the length of Cambridge Street on many of the streets that intersect there are no dropped curbs in order to continue to walk in a straight line when pushing a buggy.”

Tachbrook Street market

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“Could you please tell me why there is only one fruit stall in Tatchbrook Street market and Strutton Ground market and are rarely open and appear to be run by fine weather workers and why a lack of competition is supported by the Licencing Department at City Hall. In the past both markets had a minimum of three traders in each market. We deserve to have a choice, and not to be served up with poor standards offered by the traders that do not match the qualities of the past. Could the traders be asked to clean up their mess as they appear to leave the markets with empty boxes and bruised produce scattered on the pavements, leaving a sight for sore eyes for any visitors and residents who have to negotiate the minefield of rubbish.”

Denbigh Street – Sanctuary Housing property

We are making enquiries about this continuing issue:

“As you are aware Sanctuary Housing Association own a significant number of properties in Pimlico, which they have been refurbishing, however it would also appear that no attempt is being made to let these properties once they have been refurbished some have been lying empty for years e.g. 75 Denbigh Street which I have highlighted previously is still empty. Clearly this is unacceptable at a time of housing crisis in London. One final side problem to the empty homes scenario is that there are an increasing number of incidents of people sleeping in the basement wells and in the under pavement cellars of the unoccupied flats.”

Vauxhall Bridge Road – helicopter noise

We are making enquiries in to this issue raised by a local resident:

“I was wondering whether others have already reported the helicopter noise we are struggling with on a very regular basis. It occurs in the late evening and is not just helicopters flying by but instead hovering around. I live on Vauxhall Bridge Road. This is where it is at its loudest. It certainly is not conducive to sleep. I doubt that this is really needed on such a frequent basis, particularly as it always seems to occur at this time of day, and was hoping that you might be able to look into it?”

A few days later we heard from the resident who told us:

“We have just received a flyer about final filming of Spectre 007 this Sunday night. It would seem from that communication that previous helicopter disturbance would have been related to that too. We weren’t flyered about that in the past, so perhaps your investigations resulted in Vauxhall Bridge Road getting the information this time round. As with everything, inconveniences are much better tolerated when told about in advance (and even more so when an end date and time are also set!)! Thanks again for your support “

Westminster Underground Station toilets

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem:

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

The Council says;

“An audit is being undertaken of all of the public conveniences which will then be used to challenge Carlisle’s performance in order that we see a marked improvement in the condition of the public conveniences across the City. I have asked that you are updated as to the outcome of the audit and any action that will be taken, specifically with regards to improving the condition of the Westminster Tube Station facilities.”

Paddington Street/Chiltern Street junction

We have reported the very strong concerns of residents and businesses about the closure of Paddington Street to accommodate the lorries associated with the two huge building sites at this junction. Residents tell us:

“This junction is a main artery for families transporting young children and babies in prams to school, to the playground and to the supermarket and I fear that at some point there will be an accident involving them. It can also be a very important route for ambulances and emergency vehicles. As a resident and business owner I am surprised that I received no notification or consultation regarding these proposals. I pay a huge amount of money each year in council tax and business rates. I have asked my neighbouring businesses and they also were not made aware. I find it incredulous that in the past I have been fined for putting out a bag of refuse at the wrong time, but such large scale disruption is permitted.”

“As a Resident of St Andrews Mansions I was just outside and traffic was coming from all angles. This is actually dangerous with cyclists also going the wrong way and pedestrians not knowing which way to look. Apart from the fact we used to have a nice quiet place to live and pay a lot of money to live here – and Westminster are more interested in large corporate developers than the residents they are supposed to ‘serve’ and who elect them. Seems like the developers can do what on earth they want and get anything granted and the residents just have to ‘lump it or leave it’.”

Following our enquiries, the layout of the respective sites was amended and the necessary signage put in place. However, the situation is still not resolved:

“I am shocked at how little involvement ‘Westminster’ seem to think they need when so many residents are so very upset. It feels like they are ‘hiding’ behind developers and contractors and the developers and contractors are pointing the finger at Westminster. The lack of any interest from Westminster is actually creating local resentment and you are ironically making a small problem and really big growing issue!”

Paddington Street Gardens

We have asked the Parks Department to investigate this issue:

“Over the past few months an increasing number of homeless people have been congregating in Paddington Street Gardens. Rather than using the space for recreation, it appears they are “living” in the park during its opening hours. In particular, some are drinking all day and becoming unruly to park visitors. There has been an increase in broken bottles and safety blades left on the grass. The toilet facilities are being used as wash facilities all day long. The major concern is that residents are reducing their use of the park as a result, feeling intimidated by some of the behaviour and larger groups of drunken men. Although we respect everyone’s right to free use, we wonder if anti-social use can be deterred?”

The Parks Manager is in contract with the relevant agencies to try to improve this situation. He is also considering relocating the park bench further into the garden so it is not so accessible from the street, hoping this may deter some of these groups. He says this is the first time he had been informed of safety blades left on the lawn areas and the ground maintenance contractor will be vigilant in this area.

Residents have commented further:

“In the past few days the northern part of the gardens has been taken over by 15 or so individuals, who spend most of the day drinking alcohol, smoking and rummaging through clothes they have taken from the clothes recycling bins, on the opposite side of the street. They also have a lot of belongings spread out, such as duvets and personal possessions. Locals were being continually harassed for money (change) or cigarettes. The park is fast becoming avoided by locals and residents!”

Holcroft Court

We are assisting residents in Holcroft Court who are being plagued by regular late night noise from their anti-social neighbours.

Ogle Street

We are taking up this issue with the Council:

“Without warning or consultation, the Council have moved the bins – domestic waste, commercial and recycling to the road outside my flat. I have been in email and phone contact with the Council for some weeks and am still waiting for some answers. I have been taking regular photos of the disgusting rubbish, food, etc which is all over the street. Any help or suggestions gratefully received!”

Albion Gate

We are taking up this issue raised by the Connaught Village Forum with The Royal Parks:

“Long before anyone had dreamt of reserving dedicated parts of the public realm for cyclists, the park notice board & map at Albion Gate was placed in the centre of the footpath. Since the introduction of the cycle lanes some years ago, either side of the noticeboard, it has been impossible for someone wishing to read the notice board or map without obstructing the cyclists. Moving the noticeboard to one or other side would seem to be a sensible course of action, and is long overdue.”

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?”

Covent Garden Toilets

We have asked the Council to take action to resolve this long-standing problem:

“The Covent Garden Area Trust and several other stakeholders in the area who form the Covent Garden Area 1 Steering Group have been trying for months to get something done regarding the state of the public toilets in Covent Garden (St Paul’s Church and Tavistock Court). The situation regarding the public toilets across Westminster since these were contracted out to Carlisle in September 2012 seems to be nothing short of a disgrace. How a world-class destination City can produce such disgusting conditions for its many millions of visitors, let alone all the residents and people who work here, and then apparently turn a blind eye, is beyond me.”

Hill Street/Aldford Street

We are making enquiries in to this issue:

“Westminster Council contractor Conway is busy re-surfacing first Hill St, and today Aldford St, both of which are in perfect condition and in absolutely no need of renovation. Why, oh why, is money being wasted on these roadworks? Filling the air with noxious fumes and tarmac – one of the world’s most polluting substances – should be minimised.”

Dufours Place

We are assisting residents at 7 Dufours Place who are trying to persuade Soho Housing Association to turn off the communal heating in the summer.

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.

‘No Idling’ Legislation

Over the past three months, Marshals have been approaching motorists who unnecessarily keep their engines running while their vehicle is stationary and requesting that they turn them off. From Monday 1st June, drivers who refuse to turn off their engine could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £20, although it is intended that these will only be issued as a last resort. Marshals have recorded the number of idling vehicles over the past three months and identified 12 hotspots in Westminster, including Buckingham Gate, Exhibition Road, Ebury Bridge Road, Temple Place, Park Lane, North Row, Kensington Gore, Prince Consort Road and Elizabeth Bridge.

Cycling on the pavement

We are liaising with the Council and the Police on this recurring issue:

“I have written to you previously about people cycling on pavements. I am particularly aware of it on the Edgware Road and Bayswater Road where I walk daily. I have seen policemen in the vicinity of these cyclists but they seem to take a blind eye. I also see them cycling in Hyde Park where there are clear ‘NO CYCLES’ signs but I suppose that is a matter for the Park Authorities who seem to be equally indolent. Although I realise you may have many more pressing and noble causes to fight, I would be most grateful if you could give this problem your attention; perhaps a few high profile and hefty fines may be a deterrent.”

Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge – what you say

“Please. please NO to this unnecessary project. Why are the ‘powers that be’ trying to destroy Pimlico? Why would anyone think that Pimlico residents have a burning desire to become attached to all the facilities planned for the Nine Elms regeneration. Pimlico already has its own wonderful amenities, markets, shops, beautiful streets, green spaces, riversides, ancient buildings, beautiful churches, social housing, private houses, communities etc. Transport is brilliant and it’s close to Victoria and Chelsea with all that that brings. Both Chelsea and Vauxhall bridges provide links to areas south of the river. So, WHY? This idea might be an architect’s dream but really! Most people can’t see the worth of it.”

Baker Street two-way working proposal – what you say

“The proposal to provide a right turn from A41 Park Road on to Rossmore Road will result in a very large increase in traffic using Harewood Avenue in order to turn right into Marylebone Road. The section of Harewood Avenue both north and especially south of Marylebone station is already a major area of congestion needing urgent attention. This is the only right turn between Baker Street and the Marylebone flyover. Any additional traffic will seriously affect the, already difficult, access to the station for taxis and other service vehicles. Pollution levels are already dangerously high, given the trains and the dozens of diesel driven taxis in the area.”

Porcupine Pub – what you say

“I concur about the comment on the Porcupine Public House and noise in the very early hours of the morning. Sometimes I am woken up and I live about 200 feet away.”

What you say

“Thank you for your regular updates which are most useful”

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

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – May 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Millbank/Horseferry Road

We have called for action by TfL and Westminster Council following the tragic death of cyclist Moira Gemmill who was killed following a collision with a lorry. According to press reports:

“Transport for London (TfL) drew up improvement plans for the Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout which it put out for consultation in 2012. But TfL’s report on the consultation said: ‘Having considered responses to consultation, and following concerns voiced by Westminster City Council, we have decided not to proceed with these planned initial improvements at Lambeth Bridge northern roundabout. Instead, we will concentrate our resources on developing more substantial improvements that meet the expectations of Westminster City Council and other stakeholders.’”

We are concerned that Westminster blocked TfL’s original plans to improve this very busy junction and we have urged the Council and TfL to quickly get together to agree a revised plan which will help protect cyclists before there is another tragic accident at this location.

Grosvenor Road

We are making enquiries in to the situation at 135 Grosvenor Road after receiving this question:

“Can anything be done about the so called development of 135 Grosvenor Road that will replace the one floor building with a five floor block of flats? The original building was demolished some time ago and no progress has been sighted of any building work. The site has been boarded off with unsightly fencing. The original planning was pre 2010 and should be by now timed out and any planning permission cancelled. At the time of planning application it was put to the Committee that the Area should be opened up and added to the historic Pimlico Gardens not only to improve the River side access but to extend the riverbank walkway. This was ignored and a great opportunity lost. Within Westminster there has been very little addition of open areas for public enjoyment over a long period of time and although small would add to the Westminster/Pimlico Riverside profile.”

So far we have found out the following:

First, as the building was demolished by the company, this constitutes starting the works as the permission was to demolish the original building as well as build a new one. Therefore the planning permission has not expired.

Second, it looks as if there have been a number of issues with the design which have required revision, slowing down the building work. There have been 4 amendments made to the permission – once in Nov 2012, twice in Sept 2013 and one March 2015. Information on the latest change can be found here: http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=ND670NRP0B100

The company has three years from when the permissions were granted to implement the amendments.

Former Pimlico Library

We had an enquiry about the use of the former Pimlico Library. We have spoken to the Head of Property at the Council and he says that whilst Thamesview is a holding company for Dexter’s Estate Agents. They will not be allowed to use it as an estates agent’s office. There are specific user clauses in the lease to prevent its use as an estate agents office which the Council will enforce if the need arises. They will only be using the premises as a training centre for staff.

Beyond that the premises have a planning use class of D1. An estate agent requires an A2 use, which they do not have. If the tenant attempts to use the premises as an estate agent’s office, the council have additional recourse under planning to prevent that use.

The resident who made the enquiry told us:

“Thank you for your speedy clarification of the situation. It’s good to see this in writing”


Abbots Manor Estate

We are making enquiries with the Council and City West Homes about these issues raised by residents:

“Abbots Manor is seeing more and more of residential community areas being given to companies. Linbrook was given basement areas of Kirkstall and Melrose House to store their building materials. Workmen come in and out of this residential building at all hours. No residents were consulted and we have not been told about what the deal is. What happens to that money? It has caused a lot of disruption to residents, in the mornings there are many vehicles filling up supplies taking up parking spaces.
Westminster Council took gardens on Abbots Manor to put a nursery into a temporary shed type of premise. This is against Westminster Council planning as this is a residential estate not for any business or companies. “


Gloucester Street/Winchester Street

We are supporting residents’ suggestions that CCTV cameras should be located at this junction to take pictures of those who are dumping rubbish here.

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?”

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.”

Porcupine Pub, corner of Great Newport Street and Charing Cross Road

We have again asked the Council to investigate the problem of “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.”

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.

Brunel Bridge Update

We have received the following update about the Brunel bridge uncovered when the new bridge was constructed:

“English Heritage took ownership of the dismantled bridge and have stored at one of their premises in Portsmouth. Discussions on funding relocation options at Paddington have so far not been successful and options for other locations are being reviewed by English Heritage.”

Tyburn Stone – Found!

A resident has sent us this link with the new location of the Tyburn Stone

Find the Tyburn Stone

Nine Elms to Pimlico Bridge proposal – what you say

“This is a Wandsworth/TfL adventure with the Nine Elms consortium. WCC have said in writing that they don’t want anything to do with it. We are keeping in touch with it via the design competition, but fear that TfL will bulldozer the proposal through (they have the power). St Georges Square and Dolphin Square will fight hard, but will need all the help we can get to avoid the predictable disaster of the bridge.”

“I just wanted to express my concern about the new pedestrian bridge from Nine Elms to Pimlico. I don’t know if this has already been approved and I seriously hope it hasn’t. First of all, I don’t understand the need for such an expensive project since Vauxhall Bridge is only a 5 minutes’ walk away. Secondly, I have concerns that it will ruin the tranquil setting of the only square in London bordering the Thames. I saw to my despair the four selected designs in the press and I cannot imagine who would want this and secondly why this is necessary. Wandsworth seem to be running the show but Westminster must have a word to say in this and I strongly hope Westminster will not allow it. It’s a pure waste of money.”

“This is a great opportunity to support a new and exciting architectural feature in London. Agreed, it needs to go through the appropriate consultation but this will give Pimlico better access to the exciting development on Nine Elms and will perhaps provide more passing trade for some of our shops, more and more of which are closing down and being converted to flats.”

‘Baker Street 2-Way’ proposal – what you say

“Please don’t assume that the ‘Baker Street [and Gloucester Place] 2-Way’ scheme is widely supported. From the reactions expressed at meetings held in Marylebone about this scheme and the proposed consequential changes I am sure you should not. The arguments I have heard or read that are supposed to justify the scheme are pitifully weak.”

Enabling the public to speak at Planning Committee meetings ‏ – what you say

“I thoroughly endorse this. I was at a recent Westminster planning meeting where there was continual barracking and shouting by opponents from the public ‘gallery’ – which was not stopped by the chair – and one ward councillor made an inordinately long and emotive speech against the application, which contained many factual errors. I was in a minority that had written in favour of the application; the atmosphere was intimidating and there was no opportunity for anyone to correct the errors.”

Ebury Bridge development – what you say

“I went to exhibition yesterday regarding building of Ebury Bridge College and 10 storey planned luxury tower block. The Council sent the most disinterested member of staff, hardly any residents there, most don’t even know about the plans. They say they need to build 10 storey luxury flats building to pay for college. Well if they don’t have the funds for the college then they shouldn’t be destroying the community to pay for it”

Short Term Lets – what you say

“Although the legislation has some faults, as a resident who likes to let out their flat for a little extra income when on holiday a few times a year, I am very happy that I will now be able to carry this out without fear of prosecution. Not only does this help provide a small, but very welcome, extra bit of money, it also means that when I am away there are visitors to the city who will almost certainly help support local restaurants and cafes etc.”


Luxborough Street library proposal – what you say

“There is still concern by Luxborough Street Residents Forum that the Luxborough Street library build with a double basement will go ahead, although this is overdue its original start date as new plans had to be drawn up and submitted. It seems that double basements for public buildings are acceptable and passed by Planning. Double standards for double basements from a Council that does what it likes irrespective of local opinion. “

What you say

“Thank you as always for the very helpful update”

“Thank you so much for sorting out the crossing at the Queen Mother Sports Centre, Vauxhall Bridge Road. So glad to know we will have a Pedestrian Countdown facility later in the year.”

“Thanks for the updates, as always. They really help me keep in touch with what’s going on in my area.”

“Thank you for these updates which I read with interest”

“I read with interest and appreciate your efforts on all fronts”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

Promoted by Lamia Senousi on behalf of Nik Slingsby both of 52 Beechmore Rd, London SW7

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – March 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Grosvenor Waterside – Purple Dragon

We are delighted that the Planning Committee refused permission for this application to allow a car valet service to operate. Councillor Jason Williams spoke at the Committee and said:

“As Ward Councillor for the area I’m speaking in support of the officer’s recommendation to refuse permission for this application. The car valet service is greatly adding to the traffic issues for residents in Gatliff Road in Gatliff Close and the Grosvenor Waterfront.

As you will see from the report the application is unnecessary as the applicant already have spaces provided in the underground car park and the permission to use these spaces was intended to avoid the very disruption to local residents that we currently see. The underground car park is well lit and safe enough for residents to use as it would be to visitors to the area. We already have a nursery in Gatliff Road which doesn’t feel the need for valet parking and sees no reason to offer this to its clients.

The disruption is not just the congestion in the civic square but the subsequent noise, the effect on road safety and the pollution from cars waiting to pass in what is already a very narrow street. From my visits to the site I’ve seen first-hand the impact this is having on people’s lives and the ability to enjoy their own homes. In a number of studio flats in Gatliff Close there was constant light pollution from backed up cars and they were unable to open the windows due to the pollution from the traffic. While I was there I could hear the noise and smell the exhaust fumes inside the flats and spoke to residents so fed up with this disruption to their homes that they were considering leaving.

The continuation of valet parking is having a very real effect on traffic in what is already a very narrow road – it is also having a very real effect on the lives of the people who have made the area their home. I therefore urge you to support the officers’ findings and reject this application.”

After the meeting residents told us;

“Thank you and your colleagues for your help in ensuring that all our voices were heard as we tried to end the chaos caused by valet parking for the Purple Dragons on Grosvenor Waterside. We have written separately to Jason Williams, who has been quite splendid and we are doing everything we can to make sure that our neighbours are aware of this.”

Coburg Close, Greencoat Place

At the request of residents we have asked the police to investigate anti-social behaviour problems in Coburg Close, Greencoat Place.

Eaton Square

We are investigating this enquiry:

“My neighbour in Eaton Square has a fleet of 8 cars all of which have Westminster parking permits. The problem is that they take away parking slots from all other neighbours. Question: how many parking permits are allowed per household?”

Vauxhall Bridge

We have asked for this issue to be investigated:

“Vauxhall Bridge hasn’t been painted for many years. I’ve lived in Westminster for 15years, and I’ve never seen it looking anything but rusty and paint-chipped. It’s one of the scruffiest bridges in London and a stark change to its beautiful neighbours to the East and West. I assume split responsibility is responsible for the lack of attention. If that’s the case, can’t Lambeth and Westminster councils work together to find an efficient maintenance agreement”

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have received some good news from TfL following our request for a pedestrian crossing countdown facility next to the Queen Mother Sports Centre. TFL have completed an assessment which has altered their opinion on including a countdown facility. The say:

“We have carried out the initial assessment of the site’s suitability for the Pedestrian countdown facility and happy to inform you that we can install this without having to renew the signal equipment first which would have required longer timescales. We are hoping to implement it by October 2015”

A delighted resident told us;

“My thanks to the Labour Group in Westminster taking the time to engage with the residents, taking forward our views and appropriate action.”

Baker Street Two-way

We understand that the option to use Balcombe Street as a right turn for southbound traffic onto Marylebone Road has been dropped from the Two-way scheme planning. This follows initial representations by the Marylebone Association and the St Marylebone Society reinforced by comment from the North Marylebone Traffic Group. Consultation on other options will begin shortly.

Consultation on Changes to Buses Serving Marylebone

Following a review, Transport for London is proposing that bus routes 13 and N13 will no longer run, but there will be extensions and enhancements to routes 82, 113, 139 and 189. Details of the proposals and the consultation, which is open until 10 April, can be found at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/finchleyroad

St Vincent Street/Aybrook Street

There are two on line petitions calling for pedestrian safety measures in the St Vincent Street/Aybrook Street area:

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to convert St Vincent St to be entirely pedestrian in order to increase the safety and amenity of residents, students and visitors”

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

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to construct a zebra crossing at the intersection of Aybrook Street and St Vincent Street in order to increase the safety and amenity of residents, students and visitors.”

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

Harrowby Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“Please can you investigate the increased unhygienic problem of chewing gum & cigarette ends constantly outside the Victoria Casino in Harrowby Street? This establishment appear to oblivious to the habits if its patrons, whilst we have to wade through this health hazard on a daily basis, or risk contacting road traffic to avoid it.”

The Council say;

“Harrowby Street is manually swept Mon – Sun. Chewing gum requires specialised cleaning. Unfortunately the council do not have a bespoke chewing gum removal service and have not had one for some years now. They have something called a deep cleaning service which can remove gum, but it runs to a very tight schedule, prioritised to principle walking routes and event areas where staining, gum, and footfall scuffing is heaviest and most prominent. “

Tyburn Stone

We are making enquiries into this matter:

“I notice that the Bank in Edgware Road that used to have the Tyburn Stone in its window has been gutted and is being refurbished; I tried to ask one of the Builders what had happened to this old stone, but he did not know. Can you find out what has happened to it?”

Fitzrovia parking

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue:

“F Zone Residents Parking is a mess, the zone is to large, and the needs from the western end to the eastern end are as different as they could be. Whilst the Lancaster Gate end has 24hr parking and plenty of it, we at the Fitzrovia end desperately need more, and it must be 24hr, we residents cannot find anywhere to park at most times of the day and in the evening it is impossible until after midnight and as the person in your newsletter says, we regularly get abuse from contractors!”

Fitzrovia – building work

We have reported this issue to the local warden:

“I’m in despair at the amount of development going on round here. I live in Langham Street, and works in this road, Cleveland Street, Tottenham Street, and to a lesser extent Goswell Street, make walking about hazardous. I can’t imagine what it might be like for someone with sight impairment or any other disability. Pavements are blocked all over the place; we have to move on and off pavements, and cross roads to find a way through. It’s particularly difficult and dangerous at the West corner of Langham Street and Cleveland Street, where for several hours a day, the corner is blocked off by a huge lorry so that, approaching from Cleveland Street, one cannot see what is coming down Langham Street.

There are long traffic jams in Great Portland Street, no doubt due to some diversion. I know that developments are intended for Langham Street, Riding House Street, Gt Portland Street, meaning that the whole of my block will be subject to noise, dirt and comings and goings of builders, and more pavements blocked, no doubt.

Doesn’t the Planning Department give any thought to the well-being of residents and those trying to get to work? Not to mention the closure of small businesses.”

Fitzroy Place

We are making enquiries after receiving this message:

“What provision has been made for the 293 dwellings of Fitzroy Place for extra residents parking? The disabled parking bays in Cleveland Street (inherited form the old Middlesex Hospital) have not been used since they were painted in and should be residents parking? We desperately need more 24hr residents parking, we have paid for it and I see it is the council’s responsibility to provide it, as they keep on allowing more and more flats to be built! Previously with your help it took me two years to get four more spaces on Newman St, Charlotte St which I trigger to get parked on, sometimes I have to park as far away as Wells St.”

Enabling the public to speak at Planning Committee meetings

We have called on Westminster Council to allow the public to speak at the weekly Westminster Planning Committee meetings – in the same way as the public are allowed to speak at practically every other Planning Committee in London and the rest of the UK.
In a letter to the Council, we say;

“We appreciate that, given the volume of planning applications received by the Council, this needs careful thought. However, we believe that this can be managed without difficulty by introducing the following criteria:
• Speakers should be allowed where a planning application receives more than 50 individual written objections or a petition with over 50 individual signatures
• A limit of two speakers per application – one speaking for the objectors and one speaking for the applicant – with a limit of 3 minutes per speaker
• The agendas for the weekly Planning Committee meetings should be organised so that all applications which attract speakers are considered on the same agenda, perhaps once a month. The start of these meetings should be brought forward to 6pm (from 6.30pm).”

We call on the Council to adopt this simple and straightforward change in the way in which Planning Committee meetings operate so that those residents most directly affected by planning proposals (and those promoting them) are able to state their case directly to the Committee members when applications are being determined. This would be a small but significant step forward in the process of restoring public confidence in local democracy in Westminster.

20mph speed limit – on-line petition

We have posted a new online petition to urge Westminster Council to introduce 20mph trials on residential streets:

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to follow Transport for London’s lead and to reduce the number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists killed or seriously injured by 40 per cent by 2020.”

You can sign the petition here http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/20mphtrial/

Residents in a number of Westminster’s residential streets have already urged the Council to introduce a 20mph speed limit and traffic calming measures. The TfL initiative is a very welcome step forward and should be followed in Westminster as a matter of urgency in order to reduce accidents and increase road safety.

Westminster Council cannot continue to avoid listening to local residents on this important issue. Action needs to be taken to reduce road casualties and immediate 20mph speed trials need to be established in areas of Westminster where residents have petitioned for action, without further delay.

Westminster’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams

A full list of Westminster’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams together with their contact details can be found on the following link:
http://content.met.police.uk/Page/TeamFinder?scope_id=1257246669692

New bridge from Nine Elms to Pimlico – what you say

“Such an important issue which will have major repercussions for traffic certainly merits more than two days consultation for residents”

Short term lets – what you say

“Thanks for the sad news about short term lets – as you imply, it will end by ensuring that no-one really lives in Westminster anymore and it just becomes a desert of flashy new flats owned by foreigners for the investment potential and either let out on weekly tenancies or left unoccupied. The Government and the Mayor blather on about London being a world metropolis and wanting to build more vanity projects to enhance it, while actually giving it heart disease. All very depressing. “

What you say

“Thank you for your always very useful summing up of events in Westminster”

“Thank you for your outstanding track record of problem resolution.”

“As always, a very good news update on the various issues that are affecting us Westminster residents”

“Thanks for being there to write to!”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – February 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Grosvenor Waterside

We are supporting residents on this issue:

“We I have complained about the dangerous use of valet parking by parents of children at the Purple Dragon, a commercial organisation at Grosvenor Waterside. Purple Dragon parents should park their cars directly into the underground car park where spaces are available for their exclusive use. Instead there is an insistence by parents on valet parking which means a considerable increase in car journeys in a very restricted space. Rather than going directly into the car park entered from Ebury Bridge Road, the parent drives the car down Gatliff Road to the security office. A parking attendant then does a three point turn and drives back down Gatliff Road. To enter the car park, he must stop and do another three point turn in the relatively small area directly in front of the Sainsbury’s store and a few metres from the busy junction with Ebury Bridge Road, with cars turning in from left and right. This procedure is repeated when the car is returned to the parent. So valet parking necessitates four trips down Gatliff Road, whereas none would be necessary if parents drove straight into the car park. Each trip also necessitates two three point turns. Residents argue that this valet parking system is downright dangerous and totally unnecessary. There is ample space on offer in the underground car park. At the very least we trust that the council will examine the safety of this operation in some detail.”

Old Pimlico Library

We are making further enquiries about the future of the building after receiving this enquiry:

“What is happening to the old Pimlico library by the tube station? It has been empty for years and it is a disgrace to have an empty building like this when housing is much needed.”

The Council has told us that the building has been let to a company called Thamesview who will be using it as a training centre for their staff. They will shortly embark on a refurbishment and fit-out of the premises, subject to planning and listed building consent and which is pending.

Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge proposal

Residents are invited to a public exhibition of designs for the proposed Nine Elms to Pimlico bridge. The competition to design a bridge has been organised by Wandsworth Council and 80 designs for the bridge will be on display at the exhibition. Many local residents have told us that they are against the proposal as it could destroy Pimlico’s last patch of green, open space by the River.

The exhibition is at Westminster Boating Base, 136 Grosvenor Road, London SW1V 3JY on Monday 23rd February 11am – 7pm and Tuesday 24th February 9am – 7pm.

There are further dates at the ROSE Centre, Ascalon Street, London SW8 4DJ on Friday 27th February: 1pm – 7pm and Saturday 28th February: 10am – 6pm.

Please let us know what you think.

Traffic Light/Pedestrian crossing next to the Queen Mother Sports Centre (Francis Street/Vauxhall Bridge Road)

We are investigating this issue:

“This traffic light is used by many office workers, local people travelling across to take advantage of the main shops on the other side of the road as well as school children to and from school. It is a dangerous place to cross. Given the number of people who use this crossing and the near misses that have occurred, why it is taking long to put similar scheme operating between Warwick Way/Rochester and Vauxhall Bridge Road? It is poses a huge risk to pedestrian as many vehicle starts moving as soon as the amber light starts flashing even if you are in between the islands. Many people have been forced to wait in the middle because cars start speeding by as soon as the amber lights starts flashing. I think there are sufficient numbers of people crossing there to justify a countdown lighting system for Westminster and Transport for London to do something about it.”

Transport for London has told us the following:

“The crossing outside the QE2 sports centre on Vauxhall Bridge Road is a pelican crossing with a flashing amber and flashing green man sequence. This means that it cannot at present have countdown signals fitted. When crossings are renewed it is now policy to install a crossing with countdown that does not have a flashing amber and flashing green man sequence. At present this crossing is not scheduled for modernisation, but when it does countdown will be included.”

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?”

Harewood Avenue

We reported to the Council that there were no street lights on Harwood Avenue at the junction with the Marylebone Station approach road for nearly two months. This was extremely dangerous given the concurrent extensive pavement and road works at this exact location which has narrowed the available road space for cars, taxis, buses and bikes and made it very difficult for pedestrians to cross the road safely – in the dark.

Chiltern Street, Blandford Street and Paddington Street area

We are making enquiries with the Council about these issues:

“The two large developments running at the same time on the corner of Paddington Street and Chiltern Street make that area very dangerous for pedestrians at peak times as both sides of the pavement are obstructed and there is a lot of works traffic in addition to normal traffic. in addition to this there are three large refurbishments in Manchester Street, and at least one in Blandford Street. Meanwhile there is a totally unprecedented amount of traffic in the area on account of the Firehouse in Chiltern Street, and the seven other licenced premises that now exist within 50m of my flat. 10 years ago there were, I think, two. This would seem to be the result of either a lack of planning strategy or a strategy hostile to residents. There are a lot of planning and licencing battles on account of this situation.

One thing you might be able to help us look into is parking. We have lost a number of Residents’ Parking spaces not only suspended to building works, but some have been converted to pay and display such as Dorset Street). WestOne have been totally unresponsive when I have emailed them to ask why this had happened after we were promised that the total number of spaces for residents would be the same after the Firehouse-inspired reconfiguration of the street. Moreover because Residents’ parking in the area is only protected until 8p.m. and as there is so much chauffeur/taxi traffic in the evening it is impossible to park if you come back after this time. There is a proposal sponsored I think by the Police and the Neighbourhood watch to extend Residents Parking to 24 hours – is there anything that you could think of that might help this?”

Holiday lets

We were very disappointed that the Governmen t has ignored the concerns of many residents by pressing ahead with legislation that will make it easier for homes in Westminster to be used as short term holiday lets. In particular;

• Long term residents will experience a loss of privacy and amenity of their own homes, increased anti-social behaviour and noise and other unneighbourly behaviour such as dumped rubbish.
• More property owners will rent their flats out to tourists or business travellers, rather than long term tenants. This will do nothing to alleviate the housing shortage and could well make it even harder for people to find local accommodation in the private rented sector.

Online Advice Service

A new online service means people living in Westminster can now receive advice by email. Advice Westminster’s Online Advice Service allows residents to submit a query using a simple online form, which will be answered by email within five working days. Applicants will receive a one-off response from a trained adviser who, wherever possible, will provide advice or information, or give details of other organisations that may be able to help. Residents can ask for advice on a range of topics, including benefits and employment rights, as well as having access to health, debt and housing information. Get advice here http://advicewestminster.org.uk/get-advice-online/?ct=t%28One+Westminster+News+|+15+August+2014%29

Westminster’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams

A full list of Westminster’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams together with their contact details can be found on the following link:
http://content.met.police.uk/Page/TeamFinder?scope_id=1257246669692

Baker Street two-way traffic – what you say

“As a resident who lived there before the one-way system was introduced I’m in favour of it as it gives alternatives if one road is blocked for any reason and is a much more rational system. My only disagreement is the expansion of the already adequate pavements – which are fine as they are in my opinion.”

“I think the council have forgotten who votes for them. They’ve accepted an enormous promise of cash from a single vested interest (the Portman Estate) who wants this to happen, at the expense of hundreds of residents and small business owners who will be directly affected but who are not on the Estate and who are not being consulted until the eleventh hour. We are asked to accept as an article of faith that switching to two-way traffic will make lower Baker Street friendlier to pedestrians. I just cannot understand why this is the case – but even if there were a small marginal gain at the southern end of Baker Street from this very expensive scheme, how can this be worth the very considerable loss in terms of reduced safety, increased noise, reduced parking and increased pollution in the residential areas north of Marylebone Road? “

“I would say that I am in favour of a two-way Baker St/Gloucester Place as they are both presently like motorways.”

What you say

“Many thanks for this. As a result I have signed the Save Soho and Madame JoJo’s petitions and, as ever, been kept informed about what’s really happening in Westminster. Also still in your debt for your fight on the parking plans a couple of years ago. Keep up the good work.”

“Thank you for your emails, it is very good to be informed!”

“Thank you for all the interesting information about what is happening in Westminster”

“Many thanks for reaching out to us. I wish my local Councillors in Vincent Square are as easily reached. Keep up the good work. You never know who will follow you along the journey of service to the local community.”

“Thank you for keeping me updated, especially interested and objecting to the proposal of Ebury Bridge Centre.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – January 2015

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Ebury Bridge University Technical College Proposal

We are working closely with residents who have made the following comments on the University Technical College plans:

“These proposals breach the February 2009 Ebury Bridge Centre Planning Brief. The benefits to the wider community of the UTC and of additional housing should not be at the expense of the immediate local community. This site of only half an acre is incapable of meeting both objectives. The building would be 15 storeys high, more than three-quarters of the absolute height of Glastonbury House, which sits on lower ground and has lesser storey heights. The UTC alone would be over-development of the small and awkwardly-shaped site, which has compromised its design. The public benefit from out-of-hours use of the sports hall and roof terrace would be minimal and little compensation for the disadvantages of the proposals to the local community.

The additional 60 flats are required not only to subsidise the cost of the UTC, on an expensive site to develop, but to pay for the cost of providing elsewhere the percentage of affordable housing which would be required on a purely residential development. There is no guarantee that the flats would actually help to alleviate the housing shortage in London, rather than being sold to overseas investors.”

Baker Street/Gloucester Place two way working proposal

There is a concern amongst residents about the proposed two way traffic for Baker Street and Gloucester Place. For example, a Montagu Mansions resident says;

“I have searched the Westminster Council website for notice of a public consultation but I can’t find anything. Is the Conservative council hiding this consultation and why haven’t residents received a letter about this scheme which will affect them? I am fundamentally against this scheme which can only reduce traffic flow and add to the congestion. The number of road lanes will be reduced and traffic flow will be restricted. The pavements on both Baker Street and Gloucester Place are wide enough at present. There is no need to widen them. This scheme reminds me of the idea that surfaced a year or two ago to restrict parking in the West End. It is badly thought out and will only harm the interests of residents and visitors alike. We have lost the car park on Crawford Street and everyday more parking spaces disappear. I don’t believe this scheme is wanted by the residents and is a waste of money.”

Transport for London has told us the following:

“The aim of the Baker Street and Gloucester Place scheme is to reduce the dominance of traffic throughout the area and improve the street environment by restoring two-way streets. This would greatly increase and improve footways for pedestrians, improve accessibility for all road users, and would also provide an opportunity to improve facilities for cyclists and bus passengers. It is also intended to reduce vehicle speeds and thereby improve safety, as well as reducing vehicle trip length (and therefore noise pollution and emissions) by improving accessibility.

The project is presently still in the feasibility stage of design and to this end, the proposals are subject to further changes. A period of public consultation is currently proposed to take place in Spring 2015.

The concerns which you raise around safe cycling, walking and increased traffic volumes are noted. There is no intention to create a signed diversionary route via Dorset Square, or any of the alternative streets being explored. It is expected that the vast majority of vehicles would continue to route their journeys via Baker Street. We are working closely with Westminster council to ensure that we minimise any impact on side roads in the area as a result of the changes to the highway network.”

What do you think?

Victoria Square

We have reported this issue to the Council;

“Our rubbish has been collected on Monday and Thursday, with recycling also on Thursday and is generally a pretty good service. But of late – over three weeks now — we have been having rubbish collected a day late, with no notice from the council about this. If the days have changed, so be it, but we really should know what the council’s service is to be in order to arrange for everyone to leave rubbish out at the right time. Currently we are suffering very unsightly bags lying around for 24 hours or more. Not only is this a blight but it will inevitably attract more rubbish alongside and almost certainly add to the problem of rats. “

Gloucester Street

The Warwick Ward warden tells us he reports all overflowing waste and will be putting up No Dumping signs at all sites including the one at Gloucester Street. He says that there is an on-going issue with fly tipping and dumping bulky goods in the bins which is preventing them being used for their actual use. A Waste Campaign will be launched soon advising and educating residents on disposing of waste.

We have also chased the Council on this matter:

“Has there been any feedback on putting a traffic island onto Gloucester Street opposite the Shelley House building for those crossing at this point to the parking spaces opposite. As I crossed to my car last week I had a chap on a large powerful motor cycle clip me and keep going last week – I suspect that if something is not done before a fatality or other serious injury, then it will be afterwards.”

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/

Visit the Save Soho website at http://savesoho.com/uncategorized/save-soho/

T S Eliot Plaque at Crawford Mansions

We made enquiries following this message:

“When we purchased this, we had anticipated it to be metal with an enamel finish that would withstand the elements for several decades. However, it is covered in cheap plastic coating that is gradually peeling away. The plaque now looks extremely unsightly and cannot be regarded as a good advertisement for either WCC or the Green Plaques Scheme. It is not something that our block can display proudly. The Council agreed with us that the plaque was sub-standard and promised a replacement, even going so far as to say that the foundry were despatching a new plaque and we were wondering if you could do anything to move matters forward.”

We contacted the Council and the installers have put it up,

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 say 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. Last 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. 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.

‘Community Champions’ – what do you think

A resident has suggested that the Council invites residents to become ‘Community Champions’ to help improve the local environment. He says:

“I was thinking a little like neighbourhood watch, but focusing on the local environment, and supported by the Council. People could be invited to take responsibility for an area.

I see them as taking an active interest in their local area, report issues or problems as they arise and providing a point of contact for local residents, and in certain circumstances perhaps local services such as police and health agencies, say in disseminating information about activities or issues.

A simple example for me is with our local rubbish and recycling bins; I’m very happy to put any offending materials that are dumped on the streets into them, but more often than not they are locked and so I am unable to do so. Simply having a key that would allow me to do so would allow me to do that, and thus to help with keeping my locale that little bit tidier and cleaner.

I think giving people the power to make little changes like that would help improve Westminster as well as generate some degree of community engagement; it’s a similar scheme to the ones that many of the housing associations run, and it may well be that some of those operating in Westminster may be happy to support such an initiative”

What do you think? Would you be interested in being a ‘Community Champion’ for your area?

Abandoned bikes

We have raised this issue with the Council;

“I know that the council do from time to time collect the damaged bikes from the bike stands on street corners in Pimlico. However, recently they are being left and it looks very untidy. Bikes are frequently stolen and sometimes, if the bike isn’t locked properly, part of the bike will be stolen. Consequently there are lots of part-bikes chained to the stands; some have been there for over a year. Could the council, perhaps, put a notice on the stands advising cyclists to chain both wheels and the frame – this is the only way to stop bike thieves. If residents haven’t taken the bike off to be rebuilt after twelve months, maybe the council should assume that they are never going to.”

Pimlico library lift – what you say

“I have had exchanges with the council about this over many months. The council told me that the ‘lessons learnt’ will be applied in new buildings, such as the library planned for Marylebone, which is not much consolation for Pimlico. It is all very well for adult education to object to disruption to its services by the installation of a new lift, but what about the disruption to all the people – elderly, disabled and parents with small children – from the present breakdowns? This particular aspect of the Pimlico school complex was built on the cheap; including the basement floors, there are four levels in this block, which should have required a proper passenger lift, not just the minimum required to tick the ‘access’ box. There should be an inquest on who signed off on a public building so ill-suited to use by large numbers of local residents.”

Paddington Street – what you say

“There are two major developments taking place in Paddington Street (not three as stated by your complainant). Traffic management is provided intermittently rather than not at all. There is, however, a medium-sized problem. There is no off-road parking facility for the former car park site and the opposite side of the road has had the pavement moved into the road to facilitate safe demolition of the office block. This creates a pinch point which is compounded when any delivery is made to the car park site. You could introduce a temporary one-way, light-controlled traffic flow but given the location of the site and the volume of traffic there will still be no way of avoiding severe localised congestion. Instead you could make Paddington Street one-way (West – East since Blandford Street is East -West) for the duration of the works. Since you are not supposed to turn left into the top of the High Street (which is itself causing problems) this might not be a bad idea since it will stop people using Paddington Street as a short cut to avoid the lights at the top of Baker Street.”

Short term lets – what you say

“I have lived under a short term let, previously rented to overseas students, but currently housing the owners. It was four years of absolute misery. People banging up and down the stairs arriving and leaving during the night, children running around upstairs in the early hours, constant talking in communal areas during the night, parties, banging doors. I wish I had known there was something I could have done about it.”

What you say

“Once again thank you – without this newsletter, we the residents of Westminster would have no public forum in which to place our concerns. It seems Westminster has decided that the general public who live within its confines do not deserve a nice borough, and as a council it is failing so badly over many things. Come on Westminster – pick yourself up and once again be the proud, tidy and pleasant Borough you used to be. Keep up the good work”

“Many thanks for another very interesting newsletter and for bringing my issue with the Sorbus trees up with the council”

“Many thanks for your always informative newsletter.”

“Thanks for your very useful report”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – November 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Lupus Street – 24 Bus Stop

We have written to the Council again about this long-standing issue:

“The moving of the bus stop is a matter of concern to local residents especially as the new location makes it so difficult for disabled and older people to alight. The original bus stop was hit by a Tesco delivery van in December 2012 resulting in its removal and later rebuilding at its present location. Transport for London’s rationale for the move was that the bus stop had experienced repeated damage but as far as we are aware the Tesco’s van accident was the first such incident. If TfL are citing this as the reason behind the move could they please provide us with a log listing each incident and who was responsible?

The new bus stop’s location means that passengers have to alight on a narrow stretch of pavement which is badly lit and especially narrow around the recycle bins around Johnson Place. Local residents will expect a full explanation and a reassurance that this issue will be looked at again.”

Claverton Street

We are taking up this issue with City West Homes

“The street properties in Claverton Street are in a disgraceful state – dirty, plaster peeling off in chunks, window frames beginning to warp and rot, but external decoration is not scheduled until 2016 – they haven’t been done since around 2003. I have water still coming through a badly fitting yellow cap which is over the broken cover to the old coal cellar, this cap is on the public footpath – ill-fitting and tremendously noisy when any one walks/rides or jumps on it. I have to paddle through water or jump over ice when it freezes – and I have been told it is my responsibility to pay for this yellow temporary cap to be replaced. Surely as a Westminster Council Tennant I am not responsible for that.”

Pimlico Library lift

We are making enquiries – again – as the library lift is once more out of action;

“Apparently it’s been out for over three weeks now. The young mothers groups are unable to meet as the Adult education people are saying they cannot leave their buggies upstairs and disabled people have not had access to the library”

The Council says;

“We are aware of problems with the lift at Pimlico library and it has been agreed to replace it. Property Services commissioned a feasibility study which looked at the level of use, and recommended a new robust passenger lift will need to be installed. The estimated budget spend to replace the lift is £250,000. Property Services has gained written consent from Pimlico Academy, and met WAES to discuss the impact of the proposed works on their service. WAES were concerned that the work which includes excavating a new lift shaft would have an adverse impact on their attendance and income and requested changes to the plans which will increase costs and time to some extent. A tender has now been issued with two options, one that meets WAES requirements and an “unrestricted” option so that the any additional cost attracted by the former option is understood. We recognise this is not ideal – although the lift’s reliability has improved since the new motor was fitted it is still far from reliable. As soon as we have got clarity on the timescale we will explain this to customers, and in the meantime library staff are helping customers who have buggies to use the stairs on occasions when the lift breaks down.”

St George’s Square

We have asked the Council to see what can be done about this issue;

“I live in St. Georges Square in Pimlico and wanted to draw attention to the brick building that acts an air vent for the tube station in the park triangle. It’s not an attractive building and it’s been a victim of graffiti several times over the years. I wondered if the brickwork walls could be covered by ivy or some other creeper. This would prevent graffiti and help the building blend in with the park surroundings, making it less of an eyesore.”

Winchester Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this matter:

“I wonder if anything can be done to protect the three Whitebeam (Sorbus aria) trees growing outside Holy Apostles Church in Winchester Street, Pimlico. They are planted in the pavement and provide us residents with a beautiful green vista that I think we’re all very fond of. There are resident parking bays, under the canopy of the trees, which delivery lorries and vans habitually park on and their high sides regularly break branches off the trees. Today, coming home I was saddened to see yet another large branch under the wheels of a huge lorry, which presumably shouldn’t be parked there anyway. There is an adjacent area of single yellow line that these vehicles could use. Perhaps it would be expensive to widen the pavement but I wonder if the council would consider other measures such as permit signs like ‘Cars and small vans ONLY’ to be displayed.”

Gloucester Street

We have asked the local Warden to take action on these issues:

“I just wanted to let you know that the bins in Gloucester Street in Warwick Ward are frequently overflowing and need to be collected more often.”

“Please can you raise the problems that we have in the Pimlico Grid with the inconsistent arrangements for the waste and recycling hoppers. There is no signage regarding proper usage we have all sorts of debris and detritus deposited around and under them. The one on my street (at the corner of Winchester and Gloucester Streets) is particularly bad, but all of them would benefit from a better thought out arrangement for explaining how they should be used, and for consistent approaches to the sealing of their covers.”

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.

Paddington Street

We are making enquiries with the Council after a local business contacted us about this issue;

“I have commented before about the disruption caused on Paddington Street due to 3 massive development projects all taking place at the same time. There is absolutely zero traffic management and it’s causing disruption to all the local businesses. We have received no rates relief or any support whatsoever “

Corner of Eaton Gate/Eaton Square

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“This junction now has a total of 9, yes nine!!, traffic lights! Why?? More importantly the stretch of road between Sloane Square and the whole length of Eaton Square is frequently used as a race track by drivers testing the speed of their latest new cars. Why is there not a speed camera or speed limit warning sign in place instead of nine traffic lights?! Two fatal accidents have happened over the past several years there as well.”

Elizabeth Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this matter;

“Elizabeth Street was nicely refurbished and meant to become a slow driving zone. Once again there are frequent drivers who have no interest in slowing down on Elizabeth Street and there is no sign or speed camera to warning them that they should”

Early morning aircraft news

We are making continuing enquiries with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after receiving further comments from residents;

“The aircraft noise in Pimlico is, I believe, planes going to London City Airport”

“We live in a mansion block near Tate Britain and I am regularly awoken by aircraft as early as 0440. There are time restrictions on when they may land at Heathrow – because of the noise impact on residents – but not apparently on how early they can be stacked as they make their approach over central London before dawn. There has been a new nuisance over the summer – helicopters making sightseeing flights over central London, almost one an hour on clear weekend days. These are apparently totally unregulated and there is no one to complain to. The CAA says it is nothing to do with them, but the noise is horrendous.”

“I would very much like to echo the point about early morning aircraft noise. I wondered exactly the same thing – if they had changed their flight path? And it wasn’t due to having windows open because it was hot, the general noise outside prevents that. It touches on a wider point: there seems to be no regulation, so no redress about overall aircraft noise, including pesky helicopters – they can make the windows shake. One week they were hovering nearby every single day, since they are used by in police and travel incidents and news events.”

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”

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”


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.”

Baker Street/Gloucester Place – what you say

“I hadn’t heard of any plan to make Baker Street and Gloucester Place two-way. My understanding was that they are both classed as trunk roads and are therefore not the responsibility of WCC. If responsibility is to be transferred then obviously WCC could decide to do so. In the interim they could obviously ask DfT / TfL to do so. There would be a major problem with bus congestion unless bus routes remained the same (in which case why do it anyway). Passengers would prefer to get on and off on Baker Street (there is no reason to go to Gloucester Place because there is nothing there) but if the routes were changed to allow for this Baker Street would become permanently jammed. The only way round this would be to treat Baker Street like Oxford Street and only allow buses and taxis access. This would displace traffic onto Gloucester Place which would then become a nightmare. If both roads were made two-way there would be merit in boulevarding Gloucester Place so that it is, in effect, for local traffic only. This would be normal for what is, at least from Dorset Street northwards, a largely residential road.”

Hugh Street/Eccleston Square – what you say

“I have to agree whole heartedly with the writer regarding Hugh Street. This problem also extends to Eccleston Square. I have, in the past, written and complained about the drivers and the black cab drivers who frequently stop and urinate on the garden side of the street. This is an ongoing problem for years with no action implemented to curb this habit. The stink of urine at times, especially in the warmer months, can become very intense.”

Short term lets – what you say

“The issue of short term lets is a threat to continuing any sense of community and will only increase in this area if left unchecked”

Delivery Vehicles – what you say

“There is a fundamental problem with delivery vehicles which affects much of central London. The business model of the logistics companies is to have large, remote distribution depots and large vehicles doing multiple drops all through the day and at night. This is never going to be a business model which suits residents because it causes congestion during the day and noise at night. Many European cities deal with this be restricting vehicle size and allowing deliveries only at particular times of day (usually 7.00 – 10.00 am). Logistics companies elsewhere have simply had to adopt a new business model, one based on smaller vehicles making more delivery runs concentrated on restricted times. This has proved viable elsewhere and there is no reason why it could not work here. It does, however, increase costs, which is why the logistics companies will oppose it. If anything is to be done about it then a trial should be undertaken in a pilot area. I would suggest the West End (Soho, Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Mayfair) because this is where the problem is most acute”

What you say

“Thank you so much, as always, for your extremely comprehensive report”

“I am so grateful for all your efforts on behalf of residents right across Westminster. Thank you as always again and again.”

“I, too, would like to add my thanks to the huge amount of work undertaken by you and your team and the speed with which you ensure both WCC and CityWest Homes respond. Excellent work.”

“Thanks for you latest newsletter keeping the locals informed”

“Thanks for yet another informative newsletter”

“Thank you for all your hard work”

“Thank you for the email; as ever it is so good to hear about the work you’re doing. I am particularly keen to hear about what happens with aircraft noise.”

“Thanks again for your actions on these issues”

“Thank you for all you do for Westminster”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – October 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Moreton Street/Moreton Place

We are continuing to press the Council to take action against the daily dumping of rubbish by the recycling bins in Moreton Street. We have also come across residents worrying about incidents of two men forcing their way into people’s homes as they’re opening their doors in the Moreton Place area which have been reported to the police.

Hugh Street

We are making enquiries about this problem;

“Can stricter parking restrictions be implemented in Hugh Street, due to constant parking in both Resident Parking Bays and on yellow lines during the week? Hugh Street is unique within the Pimlico area, being both a pedestrian and traffic ‘cut through’ to and from Victoria Station and slap bang in the middle for both the Passport Office, Blue Cross Animal Hospital, Victoria Rail Station and Victoria Coach Station. It seems that we have now become a very handy ‘pit stop’ for both Addison Lee, other types of mini cabs and anyone in general, hanging around in order to pick up and set off people for all the above venues. Traffic Wardens seem less frequent, and even when they are around doing their job, cars/mini cabs merely do a circuit and return again. They clean their cars and tip out their rubbish, food stuff rappers and cigarettes, underneath their car whilst parked up. New Saturday parking times need to be set in place and keener moving on of illegal parking. I quite appreciate that it is difficult for people picking up and dropping off at these stations and the Passport Office, but all of this should have been thought of previously. I see no reason why Residents should have to pay for parking facilities when many others pay little regard and park, as and when they see fit.”

The Council says;

“Marshal presence in the area has since been increased to monitor and take appropriate action. Hourly visits will continue for two more weeks where they will assess the outcome of actions taken on illegal parking. There have been issues with taking action against vehicles with drivers present and parked in contravention, in particular hire vehicles and taxis. Vehicles are permitted to pick-up and set down but not park and wait for passengers, however we hope the increased presence will deter the drivers from returning and using the location to park.”

Pimlico cycle-hire stands

We have asked TfL to consider extra stands azfter receiving this suggestion;

“There is less coverage in the zone around Sutherland Street and Lupus Street. These are the areas that are furthest form the Underground stations and there would probably be a high benefit to users if new stations were added in these places. I am aware of the need for careful consideration of surroundings when placing new stations, and I would therefore recommend adding stations outside the youth-centre on Sussex Street where the context would be appropriate, and also on St George’s Drive where the wide carriageway would mitigate the effects of a new station.”

Baker Street/Gloucester Road

We are enquiring about this matter

“I expect if you are aware of possible plans to return Baker Street and Gloucester Place to 2-way traffic and allow traffic to turn RIGHT from Glentworth Street on to Marylebone Road? The residents around Glentworth Street where I live are fearful that local streets will become much more hazardous because of much increased traffic flow around here. We are already planning to campaign against this if it looks as though it will happen.”

Marylebone High Street/Marylebone Road

We have reported this recurring problem to the Council

“This week I nearly got run over by a car turning left from Marylebone Road into Marylebone High Street. I was using the pedestrian crossing across the High Street and the little green man was showing that it was safe to cross. Later I saw exactly the same thing happen to someone else. Why isn’t there a “No left turn” sign at that point on Marylebone Road? Or no pedestrian crossing on Marylebone High Street? As it is, cars turning left at speed (and the traffic on Marylebone Road is fast) have very little time to register that there is a pedestrian crossing immediately in front of them.”

Beaumont Mews

We have reported the following message from residents to the police;

“The rough sleepers are back and there’s lots of them all young men in the underground car park. Security have disappeared and lots of weird prowlers prowling round Beaumont Mews and bang on doors and running of checking out buildings and looking so dodgy. Reported to police like 50 times nothing is happening they don’t even turn up. Have they got free run of the mews as the way they behave they think they have. Can someone sort this out once and for all as it getting very unsafe in the mews at nights and they all are also sleeping under the bbc white garage, climbing under a little hole and I have seen lots weird activity going on at all hours of the night. It is becoming like dossers heaven and lots them are up to no good when the people of the mew are tucked up in bed. “

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. “

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.

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.”

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.”

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 stems 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.”

Early morning aircraft noise

We are making investigations in to this issue;

“In the past six weeks (I live in Pimlico) I have been woken up after 5am and before 6am with low flying aircraft en route to land at Heathrow. Airplanes are not legally (?) allowed to land at Heathrow until 0602 so I have a couple of questions (a) Who monitors Heathrow and what fines are in place for aircraft who land before 0602? And (b) Have the flight paths suddenly changed because I find it a real nuisance being woken up so early? Is there any consent or application Heathrow has to make if it changes flight paths? I have lived here since 1998 and never experienced such low flying aircraft and such noise.”

Registering to Vote

The way you register to vote has changed. The new system is called Individual Electoral Registration. Previously, the ‘head of the household’ was responsible for registering everyone who lived at an address, but now every individual is responsible for their own voter registration. This is the biggest change to the voter registration system in 100 years.

The new system means that for the first time you are now able to register online at gov.uk/register-to-vote. You will need to provide a few more details, including your National Insurance number and date of birth to help make the electoral register more secure. Most people who are already registered have been transferred automatically to the new register. However around 26,000 people will need to re-register in Westminster.

There are also people in the area who are not registered to vote at all and so need to register to have their say in elections. If you weren’t registered previously, you can register under the new system at gov.uk/register-to-vote. Door knockers from the council are visiting homes in October to answer questions from people who need to register. Find out more at westminster.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Help for families

Save the Children’s ‘Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play!’ programme provides essential household items to families that are living on a low income and have a child under 36 months or if a mother is 28 weeks pregnant or more. Eligible families can access brand new, high quality items, including cots, buggies, cookers, fridges, high chairs, books and toys. To apply, a family must be referred by a professional who has registered as a Referral Partner. You can contact the Westminster Family Information Service on 020 7641 7929 to discuss your eligibility.

Broadband

We are making enquiries with BT about this problem;

“Does anyone raise fibre broadband with you? And our inability to get it installed in central London? The problem is that BT does not want to invest in our area, when they are being heavily subsidised to put it into rural areas. But the bulk of the gain from very high speed connection will be achieved from London businesses. I am told also that Westminster Council is objecting to the installation of new cabinets on the pavement which are necessary to accommodate fibre. It does seem outrageous to be faced with adverts on the tube for BT fibre, and then be told that despite wanting to pay for it we are not allowed to have it because BT and maybe the WCC are in the way.”

Former Pimlico Library – what you say

“I am so pleased that you are supporting the residents who oppose the Sainsbury`s renewed application for the former library site. They have clearly chosen a time when people are away to do this and therefore i fear that there will be fewer protests than during term time. It would be such a shame if yet another street of community shops were destroyed in this way and especially where the roads are not suitable for lorries. Keep up the good work!”

Short term lets – what you say

“With regard to short-term lets, as you know I live in a building administered by CityWest Homes. Thanks to the disasterous and unrestricted selling off of Council flats (one individual owns five here alone, with more in other buildings!) without replacing them, we have a situation where a very large number of flats are owned, but with only a tiny proportion actually being lived in by their owners. This applies to an even greater degree in another block nearby. Those of us who are long-term residents, and tenants, have repeatedly asked the Estate Office to carry out a tenancy check – not only on rented properties but on those which are leasehold. We see people entering and leaving the building with suitcases, constantly. But there appears to be a “hands off” attitude to leaseholders. It doesn’t matter what they do, they are allowed to do it! In the case of leasehold properties, whoever answers the door should be asked whether they are the owner and, if not, who they are and how long they are staying. I have seen with my own eyes people coming and going to and from one flat, where they stay for less than a week at a time! “

Charlotte Place – what you say

“It seems I am always complaining to you on different issues but not today. On Wednesday after 25 years of being jump over, swung round the removable bollard at the end of our courtyard gave up the ghost with rust at its base and fell over. I reported it through the council service “report it” and this morning the men are here drilling out the old base to replace it, well done Westminster Council. Many thanks for all you do for us”

What you say

“Many thanks for your regular emails. They are an absolute godsend. Keep them coming!”

“Thanks for all you do for us”

“Thank you very much for this – very informative”

“I am so grateful, as always, not only for your report but for the evidence it shows of the incredible amount of work you do constantly for everyone living in Westminster.”

“Completely agree with the Pimlico cycle hire comments and the situation re the bins in Moreton Street also applies to the bins outside St Gabriel’s church in Cambridge Street Pimlico. “

“Thank you for all you do for Westminster, it is much appreciated.”

“Most useful update, thank you”

“I am always happy to hear from you on the subject of the many things happening in the Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Pimlico, Victoria area. You provide insight and enlightenment about the lives and issues around us in this vibrant part of London. “

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – August 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Pimlico Road

We have asked about the temporary bus stop (no 44) that was removed in Pimlico Road as part of the Chelsea Barracks construction. We have had complaints from residents who now have to walk up to 10 minutes for the nearest bus stop. TFL argue this is because the Council didn’t enforce parking restrictions and cars obstructed the temporary bus stop. TFL blames the Council. We want the bus stop reinstated and the Council to enforce parking restrictions there robustly.

Former Pimlico Library, Rampayne Street

We continue to support residents who are opposed to Sainsbury’s revised application for the old Pimlico Library site. Like residents, we would prefer community use of the former library building.

Rochester Row

We have made enquiries about this issue;

“I live in Artillery Mansions. The pavement outside the rear entrance to Artillery Mansions and outside the former Westminster Fire Station has recently been re-laid. While tarmac has been used in a number of places to reduce the drop from the kerb level to the road level it has not been done as shown in the attached photos. This is a potential accident site where one of the many passing pedestrians could roll their ankle and possibly seek redress from Westminster Council for the injury caused. I should be grateful if you could bring this to the attention of the relevant department.”

The Council says;

“The reason the kerbs were raised was to ensure that there was a fall on the footway for drainage purposes as the back line of the footway has to be even with the highway. Whilst this is not usually a problem, in this case, as it crosses private property it is a potential hazard and some form of finishing needs to be put in place. Instructions have now been issued to the contractor to put in place an interim asphalt fix. In the medium term we are looking into why this was not thought through at the time, and the private land owners are to be contacted about some form of small paving area on their land that will resolve the trip. Once that is all sorted this will be put in place.”

Pimlico – Cycle Hire Scheme

We are making enquiries with TfL about this issue;

“I am writing to ask if once again you can pass on complaints about the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme. The distribution of the bikes is becoming unbelievable. Every day in Pimlico the stations are empty by 8.30, and full by 6.30. Equally Soho stations are all empty within the evening making this mode of transport unusable after about 8pm. I understand that it is popular but better organisation must be carried out. Last week they were loading up the docking stations at 4.30pm with bikes in Pimlico – absolutely maddening as they were full by 6.30 and the bikes they loaded up weren’t used – how can this happen?”

Moreton Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“How I can go about getting the bin situation reviewed in Moreton Street, Pimlico. We have three bins on wheels sitting on the corner of the street and it is not only unsightly but often people leave stuff by the bins as the recycling bins are locked and you can’t put large boxes in them. They have put permanent bins by Pimlico station and it would be nice to have a more permanent solution on Moreton Street that doesn’t blight the area. Please can you advise how we go about getting this done?”

Marylebone High Street

We continue to press for action about this long-standing problem;

“I have written to you before about cars ignoring a no turn traffic signal at the top of Marylebone High Street, and I understand that the Marylebone Association has been in touch with the Council on many occasions about cars ignoring this stricture. It continues unabated–in fact, not half an hour ago an expensive car not only made the turn, but the female driver actually pulled across from the middle lane at high speed in order to do so. Had I not made it safely to the pavement at that moment, I would not now be able to write you, being either in hospital or in my grave. I note that occasionally a policeman is sent to the intersection to ticket offenders, but this is only a drop in the bucket. In the mornings, I often see the same vans and private cars making this turn. Surely a CCTV would bring in a tidy sum for the Council, were one to be installed?”

Sergeant Stuart Deveson has told us:

“I am aware of this issue and task Officers to patrol the junction when I can and ensure Fixed Penalty notices are issued where appropriate. I am currently working with TFL on the design of this junction to make it physically difficult for a vehicle to make that turn by changing the kerb line. This takes time (and funding) to do as TFL has traffic studies and liaison with Westminster Council to undertake first. In the meantime TFL continue to monitor the junction and have the option to place an enforcement camera. I will ensure a police presence as often as I am able.”

Beaumont Street

We have enquired about this issue;

“The rough sleepers have returned, but rather than the car park in Beaumont Mews, they are sleeping in the doorway of the Library on Beaumont Street and were recently witnesses trying to pick locks to get into underground areas below the library. They seem to be there every night and have grown from 1 person to a group of 5-6. Please let us know whom we should report this to and if you can help.”

The Council tells us;

“The six people are economic migrants who are looking for work and are not eligible for benefits at the moment. They are not eligible, nor do they want support into our rough sleeping pathway and therefore we have advised that they should repatriate to their country of origin. If they want to do this, we can support the reconnection, however, at present, they do not. The concern lies around the report of individuals trying to pick locks and gain access to the car park, the community protection officer for that area is working with the police to issue letters to each individual to make sure they are aware that their crimes have been reported and that they are being monitored, again advising a return to their country of origin.”

Wythburn Mews

We have asked the Council to ensure that the Mews is swept regularly.

Marylebone Mews

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

“We’ve had no traffic wardens anywhere around here for weeks and weeks. The issue is vans parking across a mews house front door so that you are trapped inside/outside unless you’re lucky enough to be able to slip sideways around the bonnet or back. Getting in with shopping/a baby buggy/stick, fat visitor, is totally impossible- as it would be for an ambulance trying to remove/bring someone back. In Marylebone Mews we’ve had vans free-parking 9 hours a day for 2 months, and I’ve not seen a traffic warden in any of the surrounding streets: New Cavendish Street, Harley Street, Wimpole Street, Welbeck Street and streets off it. “

We have contacted Parking Services and they say they will be increasing their presence in the Marylebone Mews area. They say the area does present some difficulties due to the lines between public and private areas but they are looking to into it and seeking to address the issues.

Star Street

We are making enquiries about this problem;

“My neighbours and I have continually complained to Westminster Council about short lets in this street. There are two agencies (that I know of) involved in this nefarious activity. Groups of people congregate at all hours outside these offices and I have it on good authority that cash changes hands with no record kept to people who stay for a short length of time in our area. Who are these people – who are the landlords? This is a conservation area and buildings are listed and expensive. We are fed up to the back teeth with Westminster doing nothing about this problem which brings our street into disrepute and mess. Can you do anything about this?”

Blandford Estate, Harewood Avenue

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“We have recently had a pedestrian gate security system installed on our estate. We are always charged for Major Works on a bed-space basis. It transpires that we will be charged as usual on the amount of bed-spaces we have however, been informed that it is a Westminster wide policy to only issue 3 fobs to each flat and any additional fobs have to be purchased at an additional £15. We have been informed by the Marylebone Village office that the reasoning is that only 3 fobs per flat are factored into the cost of the major works and any additional fobs residents required must be purchased. This seems to most residents extremely unfair, as Westminster always charges major works on the amount of bed-spaces. Therefore, surely they should issue the equipment required on the same basis.”

Floral Street

We are making enquiries about this problem;

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

Albert Hall area parking

We contacted the Council about this issue;

“I would like to raise the issue of parking. I live next to the Royal Albert Hall on an outpost of Westminster Council. Parking for me is very easy but quite impossible for my visitors so I seldom receive any (restrictions last till 10pm every day). Other boroughs have a very satisfactory voucher scheme for visitors – could we not have the same?”

The Council says;

“We do offer a trade permit scheme, with an 80% discount on the hourly tariff. Either the tradesperson or the resident can apply via our website https://www.westminster.gov.uk/trade-parking-permits
We do offer scratch cards for paid for parking but these are not discounted and are not specifically designed as a resident visitor permit scheme, such as exists in some other London boroughs. Our new phone payment system would allow us to implement a resident visitor parking scheme, should we consider it appropriate to do so. This would be using the phone parking system rather than scratch cards. However, we would consider introducing such a scheme only if there is parking availability, and it would therefore be likely to be on a zone by zone basis rather than city-wide. Consideration would also have to be given to whether visitor parking would be permitted in resident bays only and/or paid for bays, and what the application criteria would be, e.g. number of parking sessions per applicant, price, etc.”

Pall Mall/St James’s Street

We are investigating this issue;

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

Bulky Refuse

Please contact the Environmental Action Line on 0207 641 2000 if you need to dispose of bulky refuse please contact. Please do not dump mattresses, furniture, builders’ rubble, cookers, fridges etc on the street.
For further details see https://www.westminster.gov.uk/bulky-waste-collection-service

London Underground Ticket Offices

We have started a petition to save London Underground ticket offices from closure. The petition reads;

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to urge the Mayor of London & TfL not to close the many Underground ticket offices in Westminster. For passenger safety & security and general information about the tube system, the ticket offices have been invaluable assistance over the years and long may that continue.”

You can sign the petition here http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/ticketoffices/

Short Term Lets – what you say

“Completely agree with the comments on short lets. I’ve experienced these issues in a previous block in Westminster (despite short lets being illegal, evidence was hard to gather from Westminster to prosecute). I also used to be Vice Chairman of the West End and China Town Ward and I know the issue of illegal short lets/ holiday lets already impacts many residents and upsets them – Westminster would surely suffer most from a change in the law and I’m sure residents would support a petition to stop this / have special rules in place for Westminster”

What you say

“Excellent and informative update as usual – Thank You”

“I read your latest Action Report with my usual admiration and gratitude for the astonishing amount of work for residents you are doing right across Westminster. It was wonderful when Labour candidates succeeded at the recent elections”

“Many thanks for the newsletter. It’s extremely encouraging to see councillors making such an effort to stay in touch with local people’s concerns.”

“Many thanks for your most informative emails”

“Thank you for all the work that you do. It is very much appreciated.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – June 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Westminster City Council Election Results

Labour won 4 seats in the Council elections – 3 in Churchill Ward and one in Maida Vale Ward. There are now 16 Labour Councillors and 44 Conservatives. The full results are here;

https://www.westminster.gov.uk/2014-city-council-election-results

Churchill Gardens Project

The Churchill Ward Councillors, Murad Gassanly, Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams, have set out their concerns about the Churchill Gardens Project.

“The community is rather concerned about proposals for redevelopment of parts of the Churchill Gardens estate.

These issues have been raised by countless voters during the election campaign.

• Any threat of loss of school playgrounds (sunken playground at Lupus Street attached to Churchill Primary and the sunken playground at Sussex Street) is unacceptable. There is huge opposition from parents and the wider neighbourhood. We, as local councillors are absolutely opposed to any plans which would entail the loss of these playgrounds.
• Churchill Gardens estate is already a mixed community – over 50% of housing stock is private, whilst a dire shortage of all types of affordable housing is blighting the lives of residents, many of whom live in extremely overcrowded conditions. We have serious doubts about use of public land for construction of private flats. Social rent and other types of affordable housing should be prioritised. Expanding and improving sheltered accommodation provision for the elderly is another priority.
• Absolute red line for us as councillors – that any final decision on whatever the eventual plan is adopted should be determined through a binding expression of popular will (a local referendum) by residents and affected parties (including parents of children who attend affected schools and local businesses). Without this the project will suffer from serious democratic deficit and lack legitimacy. We would find it very difficult to support it, under those circumstances.”

New Sainsbury’s proposal on Marsham Street‏

We are making enquiries about this proposal following a resident’s enquiry;

“Please can you make enquiries about the following new planning application for a Sainsbury’s to be located on the lower floor of the redevelopment of Great Minster House 78-98 Marsham Street, SW1P 4PU. I am particularly concerned about the impact on traffic congestion and road safety at this particular site which will mean delivery trucks will, because of the one way system, increase traffic flows at the Marsham Street/ Page Street corner to access the planned loading bay at the rear of the building which flows out onto Page Street. As you are aware Page Street is a well-populated residential street with estate blocks, large numbers of children and elderly people. There are currently no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings on this corner and there are two heavily used bus stops on either side. Please can you investigate the traffic management and road safety impact plans for this proposal?”

York Mansions, Chiltern Street

We are investigating these concerns raised by a resident;

“Our Major Works project was supposed to begin in 2011; we are now in 2014. We have only just been sent the Section 20: Estimate of Costs. My bill is for nearly £19,000 and yet we can only see a copy of the estimate at CWH offices between 9.30am-4.30pm. One of us went yesterday to see it and was told it wasn’t available! This is typical. I have asked who is paying for all the time wasted over 3 years so far on this project – apparently Westminster Council i.e. you taxpayers. This company is a shambles and should be looked into. I also went through the complaints procedure, contacted our local Councillor and absolutely nothing happens.”

Charlotte Place

We have objected to an increase in hours that tables and chairs can be on the pavement after receiving this message;

“Earlier in the year you helped me get the Council to enforce the times on Pret A Manger tables and chairs licence, as they ignored the times and ignored the managing agents of our building, which has their shop on the ground floor and three flats above. The ever-changing staff they employ make a noise as they put out and take in the chairs and tables, this I have continually objected to and you helped me enforce the times on them. They now want to extend these times, which is one of the reasons that this area is getting more and more noisy and we need to stop this, for ourselves and the other residents of our courtyard. We must have some quiet in the evenings and so I think 6pm in the evening is late enough, I hope you will help me object to this increase in times and have some respect for the residents of this area.”

Albion Gate

We are making enquiries with the Royal Parks about this issue;

“Anyone who uses the park via Albion Gate over the next few weeks (especially during rush hours) will need to be careful. Someone has blocked off the North Carriage Drive crossing immediately ahead of Albion Gate. Pedestrians have now to walk along the footpath a few yards to the left and through a small gap in the barriers – which have appeared overnight – to cross the road. I am not certain who is responsible for this stupid arrangement – obviously no one who comes into the park via Albion Street with a couple of small children or a dog.”

Hyde Park Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There are several hot-spots where dumping in Hyde Park Ward takes place on a regular, almost daily basis. Which is why I don’t understand why these locations are not effectively monitored, and why nothing is done unless I report that dumping has taken place!”

Homer Row

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“A police officer came to my door stating that there had been a burglary in Homer Row. The fact that the break-in occurred while the occupants were within their property was particularly disconcerting.The officer also said that unfortunately there was no CCTV footage available as the area is not covered by any cameras!!! That is surprising as we have one or two embassies next door. The officer suggested that the residents should ask for CCTV coverage of the area (the junction of Homer Row, Crawford Place, Crawford St and Shouldham St). Perhaps WCC can be persuaded to install some cameras, which may prevent further crime.”

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Over the past year, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has been working in partnership with the Westminster Music Library to deliver an extensive programme of work called Behind the Lines, inspired by the music and composers of World War One. This year’s activities culminate with a four day Creative Summer School in August 2014, with a grand finale performance by participants alongside musicians from the Orchestra at St John Smith’s Square. If you know of any young people (or arts organisations who have contact with young people) that would potentially like to sign up to the project, we would greatly appreciate you forwarding this information on. This incredible opportunity is completely free of charge to participants, and has been generously funded by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts.

The Summer School is open to aspiring young musicians (open to any level of musical ability) from across the boroughs of RBKC and Westminster, from Years 6 to Year 11. The Summer School will take place over four days, from Monday 4 to Thursday 7 August 2014, from 10.00-17.00 each day. musicbehindthelines.org/workshops/summer-school/
To apply for a place please email education@rpo.co.uk or call 0207 608 8829.

Chiltern Street – what you say

“The street works in Chiltern Street have indeed taken a long time. They did seem to have got the alignment wrong outside the Fire Station when they first did it and had to re-do a length of it. Then they got hit by lots of rain, which meant they couldn’t work. They have now re-done the pavement on the western side (the eastern side had already been done) and put block paving across both ends – although for some reason the latter do not have a camber to slow traffic, which is rather the point of them. I understand they are now going to re-surface the road to finish off the job. This will have been a very expensive series of works, although since Conde Nast Traveller r designated Chiltern Street ‘the coolest street in London’ I don’t suppose one should complain. However, it might be nice to know the total and what, if any, proportion was paid for by the hotel. It might also be nice to know if the original contract was mis-specified and/or mismanaged and/or not complied with by Murphy’s, what if any costs arose and who covered these. In mitigation, over-runs on works at the hotel may have resulted in works being delayed until a time of year that pushed the costs up. In the longer term there is likely to be an issue with rents on the shops being increased to reflect the Street’s enhanced value. It would be a shame if yet another street was sacrificed to high-end fashion at the expense of useful local shops.”

Holiday Lets – what you say

“I support the views of the residents on holidays lets. I have such a holiday let above me in a small block of flats and know the reality of short-term lets to tourists. A one-bedroomed flat advertised as sleeping 5!”

“Anything you can do about the Government’s proposed short-lets ‘policy’ would be such a bonus. It is a particular blight in my area and will prove catastrophic, should legislation go through.”

“I am particularly worried about the rumour that the government is going to do away with the 90 day short lets ban. CWH say they take this seriously but then, when you give them evidence, they say there is nothing they can do about it as the landlord says he/she didn’t know even though to do short lets is against the terms of our lease. Again, we feel completely powerless and the law is an ass. This is a problem that affects many blocks and the actual residents who live in the flats and who care about their homes are becoming demoralised because of the lack of action by CWH on this.”

Helicopter noise – what you say

“With regard to the helicopter noise, it is completely unbearable. Like torture. I did try to make a complaint last time it happened on the CAA website but it wasn’t obvious how to do this. Someone told me that when this happens, it’s likely to be a police helicopter providing a spotting and illumination service for people who have jumped or fallen in the river. It has happened so often though, surely there is a better way? If the technology exists to direct surveillance cameras remotely, why not have powerful direct-able spotlights on the top of tall posts and fixed at the top of bridges? The cost would be offset in helicopter savings and the lights could be used as well for happier purposes such as social/entertainment/ceremonious events on the river.”

“I was woken up by that helicopter too, and I went onto Twitter, since the Metropolitan Police helicopters put posts on about where they have been and what they have been doing – but there was nothing about this and they didn’t reply to my Twitter to them asking what was going on. I understand that if there is an emergency or a criminal or something that they have to look, but this was most unusual. Let’s hope it stays that way. “

Lupus Street Post Office – what you say

“I use this post office regularly and know how many people do, since often the queues are out of the post office, right into the street! It is an incredibly busy post office. The one on Vauxhall Bridge Road has a very long queue already, even before it has opened, and it’s hard to see how it could possibly cope with the amount of additional business that the one on Lupus Street already has. The one on Victoria Street is so busy that you have to take a ticket, sit down, and wait for ages. But now the Royal Mail has been privatised, is there really anything anyone can do?”

What you say

“Many thanks again for another useful and informative newsletter.”

“Thank you for the monthly email highlighting issues which affect most of us and for trying to resolve them. Well done.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – April 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Lupus Street Post Office

Along with the Communications Workers Union, we have organised a Day of Action on 12th May to continue the campaign to save Lupus Street Post Office from closure. We expect the Post Office to renew their plans to close the post office after the May Council elections.

Alan Johnson MP, former Home Secretary and fomer Leader of the Post Office workers, will be joining us between 2pm and 3pm on 12th May.

We say that the case against closure is overwhelming;

• Residents face a 20 minutes’ walk to the nearest alternative post offices in Vauxhall Bridge Road and Ebury Street with no direct bus links. This is of particular concern to older, infirm and disabled residents.
• The queues at Vauxhall Bridge Road post office are already regularly stretched outside on the pavement.
• The Post Office in Vauxhall Bridge Road does not have access for disabled customers with wheelchairs.
• The use of Lupus Street post office for Council-related transactions is the highest in Westminster and if this post office is closed residents will have nowhere where they can pay their rent and rates or renew their parking permit in person now that the Council has closed all its One Stop shops
• Lupus Street traders use the Post Office banking facilities and if this post office were to close, local businesses would lose this important business facility, as well as having the increased worry of having to carry cash some distance to banks elsewhere
• Experience elsewhere shows that when post offices close down the surrounding local businesses suffer badly, leading to more empty shops, to the detriment of the wider community.

Grosvenor Road

We have contacted the council about a resident’s suggestion to have an island in the middle of Grosvenor Road to protect pedestrians crossing the road from the motorbikes and scooters which fly along the centre putting lives at risk.

We have also set up an online petition which you can sign at http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/GrosvenorRd/

Pimlico Library

We have written to the Council again about the broken lift at Pimlico Library and asking when it will be in full working order.

Helicopter Noise

A Churchill Gardens resident raised this problem with us;

“In the early hours (3am) of this morning there was a low flying helicopter going up and down the river for about 15 minutes. You can imagine the amplification of the noise. The problem with this noise is getting much worse. There are no restrictions on this and I am concerned that the more developed that area becomes the more unrestricted helicopter usage there will be. “

You can get information or report complaints about helicopter movements or pilot activities by calling 020 7228 0181 (8am to 7pm). This service deals only with helicopters using the Battersea heliport. The contact for noise from helicopters and other aircraft should be made to the Civil Aviation Authority. There is an on line complaint service using their website http://www.caa.co.uk.

Churchill Ward website

A new website has been launched by Churchill Labour Candidates Jason Thomas Williams, Murad Gassanly and Shamin Talukder
http://www.churchilllabour.co.uk/

Bessborough Place

At the request of residents we have written to Peabody to ask if they letting the former Crown Estate flats in Bessborough Place at market rentals, and why these flats are not being let at rents that key workers can afford such as those working in the health and police services locally.

Emanuel House, Rochester Row

We have again taken up the cause of leaseholders in Emanuel House who are being pressed by Westminster Council for large sums of money for major works for which they claim they are being overcharged. This situation has been running for a long time and residents have been treated shamefully by the Council.

http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/extra_bill_an_insult_1_601862

http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2010/aug/emanuel-house-residents-%E2%80%98we-won%E2%80%99t-pay-repair-work-running-over-time%E2%80%99

Dorset Square

We are continuing to help residents with “the unwanted and potentially health threatening recycling bin on the west side of the Square. The bin continues to attract the depositing of rubbish of all kinds and rats attracted by dumped food, continue to inhabit the garden.”

We presented a petition at the last Council meeting, following which the Council has agreed the following;

• The trial installation of a household waste bin (‘Big Black Bin’) for an eight week period to assess whether it addresses the waste dumping issue.
• If the initial eight week trial is unsuccessful and dumping continues, it is recommended that both bins are considered for removal from this location/relocation within the immediate Dorset Square vicinity.

Chiltern Street

We have asked the Council for a response to this enquiry;

“I live in Chiltern Street opposite the new Fire Station Hotel. Before Christmas we were informed that new pavements were being laid he west side of Chiltern Street and that a new loading bay was being constructed and a change to the location of some of the parking bays in the street. The permission was rushed through and the street marked out with the proposed new works even before the permission was granted by the Council and we were told that it has to be finished before Xmas. The work commenced with 14 workmen on a small area in front of the Hotel. It was finished before Xmas, tarmaced and new road markings were painted. The workers then came back after Xmas and dug up part of the work they had done before Xmas. They then finished laying the new paving stones to the end of Chiltern Street and have worked on this since the New Year. They are now digging up the area designated a loading zone, which was newly tarmaced before Xmas. What a waste of money! Why is this being done? Surely the work could have been done properly once? Why is the council wasting the council tax money on this project?”

Porter Street

We are again making enquiries about this recurring problem;

“I emailed you about 2 years ago with the question ” Is Porter Street the dirtiest street in Westminster ?”. After your intervention then it was cleaned up but unfortunately over the last 3 or 4 months has returned to most probably regain this infamous title! Any help would be grateful”

Hanson Street

We are assisting residents to find out about the scaffolding that has been erected outside their block.

We are also making enquiries after receiving this message;

“I need some advice on how to handle a rather difficult situation involving ASB and blatant drug dealing in the City West managed block of flats where I live. City West are aware, and are working to resolve the situation. But it is becoming very intense.”

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.”

The Council says;

“I have now had a chance to visit the store and discuss matters with the General Manager of the store and one of the duty store managers. The managers advised me that the store receives approximately 5-6 deliveries per day and that each delivery lasts approximately 35-45 minutes. Normally 3 staff will be on duty at these times, one of whom is responsible for supervising the operation and making sure that there is no conflict between the deliveries and pedestrians passing by in the street. Whilst this system appears to deal with the problem, I did ask them to arrange for spot checks from time to time to ensure that this system was operating as specified.

It was also agreed that additional prominent signage would be erected in the area to remind staff that they need to keep the area tidy and to dispose of waste items in the bins provided. The store will also arrange for their in-house cleaning contractor to make hourly checks of the area and if necessary, arrange for the litter to be cleaned up.”

Holiday lets

Residents have told us that they are opposed to the Government plan to change the law to allow flats to become short-term holiday lets;

“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. “

Pavement Cycling – what you say

“I do have a concern, as do many others in Westminster (and indeed elsewhere) about cycling on pavements and pedestrian area e.g. cycling from Victoria Street to Francis Street and refusing to dismount in Wilcox Place, cycling along Victoria Street. Not only is it becoming dangerous to cross the road but to walk on public property. While I accept that recent data shows that more cyclists than pedestrians are killed as far as I am aware this date did not provide information about injuries caused to pedestrians by cyclists”

What you say

“Thanks for all your hard work! “

“Thank you for sending through your work in progress update and it is always good to read what initiatives and failings you are following up on our behalf”

“Thanks for your hard work”

“I appreciate your actions and news very much”

“Thank you for all the new information. Always good to read about the latest news. You are doing a good job!”

“Thank you for your regular and informative newsletters”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – February 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Churchill Gardens

We have asked senior Council officers to respond to concerns on a number of issues raised by residents;

“A year has passed since Churchill Gardens Estate suffered the Council’s imposition of “Team Churchill” when it was declared an “area of high deprivation”. What benefits have the residents of the estate ‘enjoyed’ as a result of Team Churchill? How many residents have been involved? Security and drug use by outsiders on the estate seems to have become worse.”

“Now the Estate has another imposition from the Council – “Churchill Gardens Regeneration”. Who is responsible, what is the budget and what are the estimated costs? Residents know that the core of “regeneration” needed is a determination of the Council’s inactivity regarding the lamentable state of the Balmoral Pub. The intervention smells of being a spam so that the Council in the run up to the election can boast “the Council’s great concerns for the residents of the estate”. That would fool no one! “

Gilbert House, Churchill Gardens

We have received the following update about the lifts from a resident;

“Thank you for your prompt action in putting the lift breakdowns at Gilbert House, Churchill Gardens in your newsletter. It seems to have produced a speedy response as tenants have now received a consultation letter regarding installing cameras in the lifts to deter vandalism”

Lupus Street

We asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“The food lorries continue to park during the day for more than 40 minutes (no loading and unloading happening). Today a lorry was parked with its engine running for more than 40 minutes in front of our houses. Often vans delivering goods to properties being renovated in Westmoreland Place and Lupus Street park in residents designated parking spaces and in this stretch of Lupus Street itself with no indication that they have permission to do so. Other similar culprits are courier service vans”

The Council says;

“I can confirm that we continue to have this location under Special Enforcement and can confirm that visits are maintained regularly and at least hourly at the bend on the road that is of concern. I shall personally visit this location regularly to assess any failings in enforcement. I will also change around some of the officers who regularly visit this area so that there are no areas of complacency. I shall remind CEOs that if they observe any drivers abusing the loading/unloading rights then they should be dealt with as per Westminster’s enforcement code of practice i.e. a driver not seen loading/unloading and simply parked waiting.”

Former Pimlico Public Library

We are continuing to support local residents who would like to use the former Pimlico Library for community uses, following the rejection of the Sainsbury’s planning application. Residents say;

“On behalf of the large Millbank, Pimlico and Victoria community supporting an innovative entrepreneurship project keeping the former Pimlico Library available for the residents, I would like to thank you for lending your voice to the issue. “

Pimlico Grid

We are making enquiries with the Council in to this issue;

“Owners not picking up after their dogs seems to be reaching epidemic proportions. It is becoming impossible to walk or push a buggy in The Grid without stepping in or narrowly avoiding dog poo on shoes/wheels. It is pretty revolting and makes a very pleasant area into a place that one avoids as it’s fast becoming quite unhygienic and a health hazard. I’d be very keen to hear what is being done to address this problem”

The local warden tells us;

“To further efforts to reduce the issue and concerns around dog fouling in the Pimlico Ward we are looking to do some plain clothes ops to potentially identify people allowing their dogs to foul on the public Highway. In the mean time I will continue to monitor and report any fouling found to Veolia to remove instantly. I also have weekly walkabouts with the Dog Warden to try and identify the culprits and educate the local residents with leaflet drops informing them of their responsibilities regarding dog fouling.”

Vauxhall Bridge Road/Rochester Rd/Warwick Way

We have asked the Council to again investigate this problem;

“I return to the subject I have raised with you previously i.e. the lack of gutter drainage at the northbound bus stop on Vauxhall Bridge Rd. at Rochester Rd/Warwick Way. The drain was cleaned, the water did not flood to lake proportions and people waiting for the bus were not splashed by passing traffic. That solution was temporary. I assume that the drain becomes blocked by leaves from the overhead plane trees. It is again blocked. Could a more permanent solution be found e.g. a wider or bigger capacity drain or perhaps much more simple would be to move that bus stop 50 yards further to the south and thus avoid that lake altogether.”

Marylebone High Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“There is a short stretch of single yellow line with no kerb markings. Cars and commercial vehicles stop there all day to load/unload or with a driver in perhaps waiting for a pedestrian or who have pulled over for some reason. It is opposite the flower stall and almost opposite Waitrose. My complaint is that at the corner of the street, some 50 feet away is a tiny camera sign. I got a £125 ticket whilst collecting bulky items (2.2 minutes on video) however Westminster kindly cancelled it on presentation of proof. Retailers selling bulky items need deliveries and collections. This needs to either have a warning sign no unloading, or kerb markings or a big camera sign. The present sign is so small and so far away and so high that a driver cannot see it. Also, the revenue income must be enormous as cars/vans are always stopped on this single yellow line with no kerb markings and no notices. “

Marylebone Rd/Marylebone High St crossing

We asked the Council to investigate this problem

“There is a large sign in Marylebone Road warning drivers they may not turn left. It is constantly ignored, especially by taxis, ‘white van men’, and lorries. These vehicles make very quick turns into Marylebone High St, suggesting that the drivers know they shouldn’t be turning, and in some cases they nearly miss any pedestrians who are crossing. May I suggest CCTV cameras recording licence plate numbers?”

The Council told us;

We are aware of police enforcement at this junction and due to this we recently highlighted the restriction in the Taxi magazine. I will arrange to repeat it.”

Marylebone Boys School

We have asked the Council to update us after receiving the following enquiry;

“The proposed Marylebone Boys’ School is due to open in September but WCC has yet to make a commitment to a permanent space. I am writing to you to ask what can be done to get the school through this final hurdle. My understanding is that the temporary space is agreed and the EFA support is in place BUT the financial commitment can’t be finalised until WCC take a decision. Plans for the school have gone from strength to strength and the massive effort made to get it off the ground has been more than recognised by the community as witnessed by the significant numbers of applications. Presumably you are all keen to provide our local children with a great choice of secondary school but unless this is resolved very soon, I fear that all momentum on the part of Year 6 parents will be lost. I’m lucky enough to have a son in Year 5 – but if he were in Year 6…. Asking 120 parents to make a decision about sending their child to a school that has no known premises, temporary or permanent, when the offers go out on 3rd March is putting local families in an impossible position.”

Weymouth Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Over 20 cars a day travel the wrong way down Weymouth St (one way road). Poor signage (and signs blocked by parked lorries) and a lack of signs painted onto the road surface are the likely the cause. Any help appreciated, as this is so dangerous for drivers & pedestrians.”

Wythburn Place

We have again asked the Council to investigate the problems with street sweeping;

“From 3 January the same broken glass, cigarettes etc lay on the street floor for more than a week. The same MacDonald’s polystyrene cup, and can of drink, together with cigarette butts, abandoned food packaging and other debris and has been on the floor for a week. I understand that others have complained too. When is Westminster Council going to sort this out?”

Portman Mews

We have reported the following issue to the Council for investigation;

“There are disabled parking spaces in Portman Mews at the junction of Orchard Street adjacent to the Marble Arch M & S. These spaces are very often illegally occupied by private taxis or chauffeur cars who are waiting on shoppers and this abuse is evident every day. I cannot count the number of times I have had to ask chauffeurs to vacate these disabled spaces so my husband can park. Is there anything you can do to stop this abuse?”

Charlotte Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“For the last ten years the shop on the ground floor has been Pret A Manger which used to open at 8am-4pm Mon-Fri, but now staff arrive at 6am and don’t leave till 7:30pm at the earliest. When Pret moved in they took down the original proper plaster ceiling and replaced it with plasterboard that is not sealed at any joints or at the edges, or insulated, hence why I get the awful smell and noise from them.”

The Council says;

“The team has had some success with other sites operated by this company with similar problems. We shall make some enquiries and update you accordingly.”

Holcroft Court

Residents are concerned about the increasing number of instances of anti-social behaviour and have written to City West Homes to point out the following management problems;

“I think a system where CWH writes to the lessee (or tenant) after every such complaint should be instigated. We are always being asked to gather evidence about these people and what better evidence than a letter from the Landlord. Action against the lessee or tenant would also be required for the system to work. We have a few bad tenants but we rarely find out if action is being taken against them. We don’t need to know what the action is as that is confidential, but the knowledge that action is being taken will be reassuring.”

“There is another, not necessarily linked, problem with very short term lets to flats. The people who are letting the flats for a short time have no interest in the building or the residents. Some of the problems that have been reported previously have been as a result of short term lets. I am not sure if the leases allow such short term lets but they are definitely happening. There is one flat which appears to have a different set of people every week or so. If short term lets are not permitted by the terms of the lease, could you also advise the Landlords of this”

Dorset Square

Dorset sq

We presented a petition on behalf of Dorset Square and Balcombe Street residents at the January Council meeting calling on the Council to relocate the Big Black Bin which is attracting regular rubbish dumping. Three weeks later the bin is still there and the rubbish continues to pile up!

Bryanston Square

Bryanston Sq

We have made enquiries about the long-standing vacant buildings at 46-47 Bryanston Square which are in a derelict state:

The Council says;

“An inspection of the property has confirmed that the property is in a poor state of repair and is considered to be having a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the immediate locality and the Portman Estate Conservation Area. Consequently, warning letters were issued on 11 February 2014 to all known persons having an interest in the property to ascertain their immediate plans to improve its appearance and condition. A response has been requested within 21 days otherwise they have been placed on notice that they could face formal enforcement action which may include the service of a s215 Notice. “

Gloucester Terrace

Residents have asked again if the need for pedestrian crossings at the southern end of Gloucester Terrace. The Council told us;

“This junction is on the east/west cycle superhighway. Your email is very timely as TfL is due to meet the City Council with PRACT and SEBRA to discuss the east/west cycle superhighway and I will bear that request in mind.”

Paddington Basin

We have asked the Canal and River Trust to investigate this lighting issue;

“I noticed that 70% of the lights along the canal tow path from Little Venice to Paddington Central have gone off and the bulbs haven’t been replaced. This is a busy route full of pedestrians and cyclists returning from work and who can hardly be seen in the evenings before they are on top of you.”

“On a positive note, the new canal tow path entrance to Paddington Station and the Hammersmith and City + Circle line is lovely, especially with the quirky floating bookshop with the three cats opposite the entrance that entertains passers-by with their music and wood smoke. Sometimes there are craft shop boats stopping by, too. It can be a bit ‘Camden-ish’ and weekends are now busier in the area in a good way. Thankfully it’s not too crowded still so it’s good for residents.”

St James’ Park

We made further enquiries with The Royal Parks about this issue;

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

The Royal Parks say;

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

Drury Lane

We have asked the Council to investigate this issue;

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

John Adam Street

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

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

Haymarket

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

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

Your Credit Union

You can join Your Credit Union by calling 020 7605 6341 or by emailing info@yourcu.co.uk. You can visit the website at http://www.yourcu.co.uk

Marylebone Rd crossings – what you say

“I concur with complaints about the timings of crossing lights on Marylebone Road. As an OAP, being made to run in order to cross safely, I feel anxious every time I cross.”

What you say

“Thank you very much for this. You are working so hard”

“Thank you for all the helpful information you have included in your emails over the past few years”

“I am as always grateful to receive your action report and to note the many helpful responses to residents’ concerns “

“A most impressive list of work very well communicated”

“Thank you so very much for your action report which, as ever, shows the enormous amount of work you do on behalf of Westminster residents”

“Thank you for the regular bulletins about the immense amount of work which Westminster Labour is doing. The sheer number and complexity of issues that you manage to keep on top of is very impressive. It is good to know that you care about residential concerns and the increasing issues impacting upon everyday life.”

“Thank you very much for your informative newsletter!”

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – January 2014

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Gilbert House, Churchill Gardens

We have asked CityWest Homes if they can get the lift working consistently after receiving the following message;

“My disabled daughter lives in Gilbert House where the new lift has broken down six times in the last few weeks. As she is in a wheelchair and there is only one lift, she is then completely stuck, either in or out, until it has been fixed and it often takes at least a day for someone to come and repair it. She has missed important hospital appointments and her own birthday party. There are a number of other disabled an elderly people in a similar situation.”

Lupus Street parking

The Lupus Street parking situation has not really improved. We have reported the latest feedback from residents to the Council and the police;

“The 3663 food lorries continue to park during the day for more than 40 minutes (no loading and unloading happening). Today a Travis Perkins transporter type lorry was parked with its engine running for more than 40 minutes in front of our houses. Often vans delivering goods to properties being renovated in Westmoreland Place and Lupus Street park in residents’ designated parking spaces and in this stretch of Lupus Street itself with no indication that they have permission to do so. Other similar culprits are courier service vans “

Wainwright House, Ebury Bridge Estate

We have reported a broken lift at Wainwright house and urged that it is repaired speedily after residents told us;

“We have not had a working lift for twelve days now – I have had to cancel Hospital appointment as well as two food deliveries. Not only is the broken lift unacceptable, but the lack of communication or miscommunication is also frustrating. This is inconvenient for all the families, the elderly people, and disabled people like me stuck in the home without a functioning lift.”

Claverton Street

We have asked that the following problem be investigated by the Council;

“Yellow plates – the one in Claverton Street outside my flat has been there for getting on for 2 years. The noise as people walk over it, trundle cases across or rode bicycles on top of it, well it is disruptive and cannot be ignored. The tarmac around it has broken away and the amount of rain water which drops through and then flows across in front of my front door is almost a stream which I have to either splash though or attempt to jump across – I have complained for a number of years about the flow of water”

Pedestrian Crossings

We have raised safety concerns that pedestrians only have 6 seconds to cross the road at the crossroads of Lupus Street, St George’s Drive and Claverton Street which is close to both Churchill Gardens Primary School and Pimlico Academy, following the Mayor’s decision to reduce the time that pedestrians have to cross the road at 89 crossings across Westminster. We are also concerned that crossing times have been cut to just 6 seconds at the junction of Victoria Street, Palace Street and Thirleby Road, where a cyclist was killed last April.

Seymour Place – Update

The Council’s Transport Commissioner tells us;

“I have now reviewed the road layout and I am proposing to suspend the taxi rank opposite the Barclays Cycle Hire Station Site and introduce “At Any Time” waiting restrictions along the western kerb line of Seymour Place opposite the Barclays Cycle Hire Site on road safety grounds. There already are some “At Any Time” waiting restrictions on this section of road north of the taxi rank, so there will be a loss of 21 metres of single yellow line (including the taxi rank). My preliminary assessment is that the taxi rank opposite the Barclays Cycle Hire Station Site, which was introduced on 27 September 2011 is now causing some northbound vehicles to enter the southbound carriageway. This results in some southbound vehicles swerving towards the eastern kerb line and some of these vehicles appear to be hitting the hooped sign posts. The backs of the two signs mounted on the hooped sign posts at the ends of the Barclays Cycle Hire Station Site will not always face traffic that is swerving and this is probably another reason why the hooped sign posts are being hit.”

Harewood Avenue – Taxis

We have made further enquiries with the Council after receiving this message;

“I have regularly counted queues of up to 24 taxis, stretching right up to Rossmore Road and added to constantly. This is not counting the ones on the official taxi ranks on the avenue beside the station and in front of the station. Some of these taxis keep their engines running, spewing out pollution and noise over Blandford Estate. Others stop their engines, but then start again every time they move up the queue, having the same effect on us.”

Luxborough Tower

We are making enquiries after receiving this message;

“Our heating went off on New Year’s Eve and we’ve just had a letter from Lisson Green Estate office to say the repair work won’t commence until Monday 6th Jan. A £1 per day doesn’t in any way compensate for the additional cost of heating with electric heaters. I don’t know if we continue to pay for the communal heating we are not getting. There is no point in approaching our own Ward Councillors as they show no interest in the problems of Luxborough Tower.”

Gloucester Place

We have asked the Council to deal with holes in the road after receiving the following message;

“May I draw your attention to some seriously dangerous holes in the road where pedestrians have to negotiate some extreme traffic. They are on the road section of Gloucester Place and Crawford Street by the bus lane going towards the old – now sold off Marylebone library”

Upper Brook Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Do you also help Mayfair residents? We cannot get anything done. We need a yellow box at the intersection of Upper Brook Street and Park Street. It takes often 6-7 minutes for traffic to move”

Brook Street

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.

St Anne’s Court

We have asked the Council to repair a number of lose paving stones and investigate blocked drains.

Eland House, Bresenden Place

A planning application for the redevelopment of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s current Eland House offices has been submitted to the Council. supermarket on the ground floor, retail kiosks on Cathedral Walk and new offices on the 1st to 10th floors. Under the proposal, the building would be re-clad and the existing sloping roof would be replaced to create a west-facing roof terrace bordered by vegetation. If planning consent is obtained, DCLG would move out in September, taking up spare office space at 2 Marsham Street where the Home Office is based. The revamped Eland House should be ready to lease in spring 2016.

Victoria Station

We are making enquiries about this problem;

“When I walk along Bridge Place to get to the station, I walk past the Victoria Station utility yard. When it gets dark, there is a very powerful industrial light that comes on to light the yard. The problem is that the location and angle of the light means that the powerful beam shines directly into the eyes of pedestrians walking along the public pavement. This means you get dazzled by the powerful light, can’t see ahead and it’s not a nice experience. Can the yard management do something about this please?”

Paddington Basin

We made enquiries about this issue;

“I’d like to report the state Paddington Basin is currently in. We can see that it’s going to be drained & renovated but it’s now full of water, fenced off & filled with rubbish (the rubbish moves with the breeze to cover the lake or all sit in one corner) & looks awful. We question the timing of fencing off the area earlier than needed when work over Christmas has not commenced on the end we live. Can it be kept clean while it’s being worked on? It’s embarrassing having our visitors see our swamp rubbish tip lake view currently”

The Canal & River Trust told us;

“The area in question falls outside of our remit but I will speak with the developers ask them to clear their area of responsibility and assist in clearing any windblown rubbish in the main basin area. Hopefully you will see some improvement in the future.”

Doctors’ Surgeries

Seven day GP opening service has been extended to the following surgeries;

Victoria Medical Practice
29 Upper Tachbrook Street, London, SW1V 1SN
Tel: 020 7834 2298
Open 8am to 4pm

The Connaught Square Practice
41 Connaught Square, London, W2 2HL
Tel: 020 7402 4026
Open 10am to 6pm

Westminster and Pimlico Health Centre
15 Denbigh Street, London, SW1V 2HF
Tel: 020 7834 6969
Open 10am to 6pm

People are able to walk in or book a same day appointment at these practices. They do not have to be a member of the practice to use the service, and registration with their own GP will not be affected.

Paddington Station/Eastbourne Terrace Entrance – what you say

“There are two other entrances to Paddington Station from the West, which I use all the time but I hardly see another soul there. Maybe “officially” they are for people who use the station car park, but there is certainly no notice to say that only car park users may enter that way. One can walk down into the station car park either at the vehicle entrance on the junction of the Bishop’s Bridge and Eastbourne Terrace, or at the vehicle exit halfway down Orsett Terrace, and thence up onto the very long Platform One, which takes you straight into the station with no barriers and takes mere minutes to walk. I have to say I do not recommend it for those with mobility problems due to the steep steps, road humps and no pavements.”

What you say

“Thank you for all your hard work in the borough”

“Thank you so much for your always engrossing report – I can never get over how many issues you take up on behalf of Westminster residents, and am so very grateful for all that you do.”

“Many thanks for your as usual excellent e newsletter.”

“We so appreciate your work & feedback to us about our borough”

“Thank you for your hard work”

“Thanks to everyone at Labour Westminster for all your continued help to make living in Westminster a better experience”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – December 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Churchill Gardens Estate

We have reported the following message to the Police and City West Homes;

“It is unfortunate that actively clamping down on the drug users/pushers has pushed them across to Shelley House where in the last month they seem to have returned to blight our community – urinating in the lifts is an on-going problem.”

Pimlico Library

We made enquiries after receiving the following message;

“Apparently this lift has been out of order for some time now which is causing distress to disabled users/elderly as well as mothers with buggies. Anything you can do to “nudge” this along would be much appreciated”

The Council told us;

“The lift at Pimlico has indeed now been out of order for over 3 weeks and has, regrettably, caused great inconvenience and distress to some of the customers using the library. After an initial inspection, I was led to believe that the lift required a replacement part which had to be imported. This finally arrived on site last Friday. Engineers then attempted to replace the part only to discover there were further parts (hinges) that also needed replacing. Engineers have been on site today with the additional parts, and as yet, still have not got the lift working, but will be back tomorrow morning. I will be monitoring progress and will be doing all I can to ensure that the lift is up and running as soon as possible. Various improvements have been made to the lift since its initial installation, but it is fair to say that there are still some ongoing reliability issues. I will be picking this up with our Property Department to see whether there are any further improvements that can be made, either to the design or the maintenance regime that can improve the situation.”

The lift is now back in working order but there are fears that further breakdowns will happen again and a new lift may be needed. We are concerned that the wrong type of lift may have been installed which cannot cope with the constant use of a busy library.

Pimlico, Millbank and Churchill Gardens Primary Academies

We are in discussion with a number of parents who have expressed concerns about these three schools which are operated by the Futures Group. If you would like to discuss any matters please let us know.

We have written to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, following concerns from parents of children at Millbank Academy. One parent tells us that she

“is up in arms as her children, and other kids in the school, suddenly do not want to go. They are crying as they enter school. I am not sure if you know that many parents are ringing around to other schools – St. Gabriel’s, Burdett-Coutts, St. George’s Hanover Square, St. Barnabas, trying to move their children out of Millbank.”

Lupus Street – dog fouling

We asked the Council to consider the following request;

“Would it be possible to do something about the pavement outside the shops along Lupus Street, particularly the south side? People allow their dogs to urinate here and if there’s no rain it can look horrible for ages. Litter seems to be cleared away fairly quickly but anything that’s spilt, drinks for example, is left. I know that pavements are generally not washed in the area but could Lupus Street be an exception?”

The Council told us;

“The Local Warden has now carried out an inspection on Lupus Street and the stained spots at the backline wall area (where shoppers generally tie up their dogs) will be flushed this week. Areas around doorways can be a bit tricky but we will tackle it as best we can first thing in the morning and the Local warden will continue to monitor it. Lupus Street has a general footway flush every Thursday.”

Lupus Street – Tesco

The Council has updated us as follows;

“This has been passed to the local warden to monitor, so far he has spoken to Tescos to ensure they don’t continue to keep stock/rubbish on the public highway, which they have assured him they won’t. I will ask him for an update temporarily. If it persists I will be taking it up with Tesco head office.”

Lupus Street – parking

We are investigating this problem with the Council;

“On numerous occasions, to no avail, over a period of years and recently I’ve emailed Westminster Council about illegal parking by huge lorries, vans, coaches and other high sided vehicles in the stretch of Lupus Street from number 96 onwards to Lupus Street’s junction with Westmoreland Terrace. There is a single yellow line. During the day only 40 mins loading and unloading is allowed. However, these vehicles persist in parking for hours on end in front of our domestic windows significantly obscuring the access of natural light and blocking the dedicated cycle lane. Often the engines are kept running. No loading or unloading is occurring. The parking continues overnight and has turned this stretch of Lupus Street into a commercial car park. No traffic warden patrols this area after 10am and no parking enforcement is being undertaken. The dimensions of the vehicles are such that they are a magnet for miscreants. Indeed, I was burgled 2 weeks ago and valuable property was stolen – this wouldn’t have happened had there not been a high sided lorry parked outside the house rendering the house invisible from the other side of the street and thus providing an excellent cover for the thieves.”

The Council says;

“We will monitor the location and ensure that an appropriate plan is put in place. However, as parking is permitted on single yellow lines outside of controlled hours we can only to take action on any HGVs or coaches contravening the overnight waiting ban.”

Former Pimlico Library

We are delighted that Sainsbury’s application for planning permission for the former Pimlico Library to become a supermarket has been rejected. However, there may be an appeal. There were over 420 Internet signatures, plus 50 letters by local people objecting to the supermarket proposal. We continue to support the community use of this Council building.

St George’s Square – Pedestrian crossing

We are making enquiries about the following matter;

“I live on the northern triangle part of St George’s Square. Every morning when I get to the Pimlico tube station, I cross the narrow garden Square street, perpendicular to the Lupus Street. Traffic flowing from the south end of the Square can easily be spotted and has to slow down to cross Lupus, however, a lot of traffic short cuts left on to Belgrave Road through this northern Square quieter street. This traffic runs quite fast and is impossible to anticipate since it comes from a blind corner, hence, more than once I have had to jump back in haste on the pavement to avoid collision with vans or cars alike, totally heedless of the pedestrians. Since there is no pedestrian crossing on this minor stretch, nor for that matter on this other side of Lupus Street, in front of the Churc , I wonder at the fact that we haven’t had any accident on that spot, especially with children on their way to and from the academy. Couldn’t it be possible to have zebra crossing on each part of St George’s (either side of Lupus) or for the northern triangle, to simply prevent vehicles from turning aggressively left on the Square? “

St George’s Square – Pavements

We asked the Council to deal with this issue;

“I wonder could you look into the matter of a large cover, normally used I believe by Thames Water and maybe others for making temporary works safe. It is in St George’s Square and has been there for well over a year to my knowledge, probably longer. It has yellow paint and tarmac round it, and is a real eye sore. It is on the pavement in St George’s Square, Pimlico, on the walk down to the lights.”

The Council told us;

“After you reported this we checked out the area and found two yellow covers; one was outside 15 and the other at 81. We have had both yellow covers lifted to confirm what was there. Both were over coal plates; the metal lids in the highway over the old coal shutes to the adjacent property. These coal plates are the maintenance responsibility of the property to which they are linked and are only repaired by the City Council once agreement with the freeholder to cover the cost has been agreed. The coal plate at number 15 does not appear to be defective in any way. This cover has therefore been removed and the tar holding it down taken up from the footway. The coal plate at number 81 was found to have a hole in its surface. The yellow cover has been replaced and a letter is being written to the freeholder asking that they take steps to repair the coal plate and offering our services to do the work at their costs should they prefer. “

A satisfied resident said;

“That’s fantastic! Thanks for the prompt turnround. One of them has been there well over a year!”

Peabody Millbank Estate

We have written to the Chief Executive of the Peabody Trust after residents contacted us with the following complaint;

“Peabody bought our estate over two years ago from the Crown Estate. They are now increasing our rents by 9% EVERY YEAR. I am a nurse who gets no pay rises. I cannot afford my rent to increase £100 a month and more every year.”
We have asked for the background to this unsatisfactory situation.”

Bessborough Place

We have reported a broken street lamp to the Council and hope it is working again soon.

Matthew Parker Street, SW1

We have called on the Council, the Police and TfL to investigate this further example of anti-social behaviour;

“There is a taxi rank immediately outside our apartment building where taxi drivers take rest breaks. However, they also urinate in their cabs and tip urine into the gutter, leaving puddles and an unpleasant odour. We would appreciate assistance with this matter.”

Derelict shop on the corner of Alderney Street and Charlwood Street

We are making enquiries about this empty shop after receiving this message;

“The shop has been in that darkened, peeling state for years and no one seems to know what to do with it. It is a meeting place for groups of youths and seems a waste of what might be a useful business.”

Pavement at Buckingham Palace Road/Lower Grosvenor Place junction

We asked the Council to investigate the pavement outside the Bag o¹ Nails at the Buckingham Palace Road/Lower Grosvenor Place junction. Residents say;

“The pavement edge there looks more like something from an LDC than one situated within 400 yards of Buckingham Palace. The Council/TfL keep making very shoddy efforts to repair, and immediately a bus or lorry runs over the curb and upends the stones. Why not completely remake the curbing, with a street level flush finish as per the adjacent pedestrian crossing? This would achieve two ends. One, make it safer for us old people to cross a busy road and, two, mean that no amount of corner-cutting by lorries or buses could damage the pavement in future. It might also enable the powers-that-be to find a new home for the traffic cone that you can see lives among the current shambles”

The Council told us;

“What we have here is a failing temporary repair by UKPN following completion of some works. Unfortunately utilities are allowed to leave reinstatements in this “interim” state for up to 6 months after completion of their works before they have to restore the normal surface. This is a defect right on the boundary between WCC and TfL maintained highways. TfL maintain Lower Grosvenor Place while we maintain this section of Buckingham Palace Road. It is our view that this is just on the TfL side, something which is supported by the fact that they have accepted the email we sent them today and that the original permit for the work which is now defective was issued to them by the utility. As the original works permit was issued to TfL my team can’t issue defects against it but it appears that TfL have arranged this. This should mean that the dislodged kerb is restored and should hurry along the full pavement reinstatement.”

Residents say;

“Thanks to your recent intervention we now have a very smart new pavement edge and adjacent flagstones at this junction. I am very grateful to you for your efforts – and again should say how impressed I am by the impact of your chivvying the authorities. Thanks for your perseverance. It has great effect.”

Gloucester Terrace

We have asked the Council to examine the suggestion of a pedestrian crossing after receiving the following enquiry;

“A crossing would be needed at the south end of the street, between Westbourne Crescent and the southern end of Gloucester Terrace. There is a regular flow of pedestrians crossing from the east side of the street to the west, as the west is the side one must be on to then cross to the traffic island where Lancaster Gate tube station is located. Due to the lack of any form of formal crossing from Craven Road south, the pedestrians do so by crossing the road without the protection of lights or a zebra crossing. There is the facility to cross the road at its very southern end, but this is very dangerous as traffic approaching from the west speeds around the corner. Due to a bus shelter, it is very difficult to see such traffic coming. A zebra crossing or a set of traffic lights midway between the southern end of the street and Westbourne Crescent would alleviate this problem. It is a highly residential area and the flow of pedestrians is constant.”

Paddington Station – Eastbourne Terrace entrance

We asked the Council about this enquiry;

“Can I raise the matter of the pedestrian entrance to Paddington station from Eastbourne Terrace; this has been closed to construct Crossrail. For those who live in the middle of either Westbourne Terrace , Gloucester Terrace and even further west, walking, especially if disabled or partially disabled , to the either of remaining entrances is a serious difficulty. We need to seek Crossrail and Network Rail assurance that this Eastbourne Terrace entrance will be reinstated as soon as possible, and that it does form part of the eventual completed Crossrail proposal.”

The Council told us;

“The entrance by the relocated seated Brunel statue will be returned to public use when the construction of the new entrance to the Crossrail station is complete and improvements along Platform 1 are finished in 5 years’ time. Then there will be steps and lifts from the new Eastbourne Terrace highway down to both Network Rail platform level and further down to the Crossrail platform below. From February 2014 the western part of Eastbourne Terrace will be returned to highway use but the area closer to and adjacent to the station will still be a work site so pedestrian access cannot return until those works are completed and the new Crossrail station bought into service for December 2018.”

Homer Row

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem;

“Unfortunately, we have Roma Gypsies and other rough sleepers again in Homer Row. While we feel desperately sorry for the people concerned, we do object to the mess they always leave behind, quite often on our staircases. Please could you assist in getting this sorted out?”

Warning to Pedestrians and Road Users at the top of Marylebone High Street

The Marylebone Society has issued the following alert;

“There is a new ban on Westbound traffic on Marylebone Road turning left into Marylebone High Street. This has been implemented by Transport for London without the advance notice and additional signage they had promised. When the pedestrian crossing lights on the High Street at the Marylebone Road junction are green, many motorists are still turning left from Marylebone Road into the path of pedestrians who have the right of way. The pedestrians are in danger and the motorists may face penalties. The ban on turning left is an experiment which we have supported, as the previous traffic light arrangement was confusing and dangerous. The current situation is equally dangerous and we have called upon TfL to put adequate signage in place as a matter of urgency.”

Porter Street

We are supporting residents in Chiltern Street and Portman Mansions who want the removal of the excessive amount of chewing gum on the pavements in Porter Street.

Paddington Street/Chiltern Street building works

A number of residents have raised concerns such as this;

“I would like to complain about the square block covering Paddington street , Baker Street, Dorset street and Chiltern street. There are currently 2 massive building developments (Chiltern street car park, Publicis Baker Street) and one smaller development, with another massive development (66 Chiltern street) planned for next year. The residents and businesses in this area have had to put up with constant noise, dirt, mess, and the loss of parking in Kenrick Place, and pedestrians are made to feel like they can’t walk down the streets. Moreover the constant flow of monstrous dump trucks and cement mixers queue up along Paddington street, parked on single yellow lines sometimes 3/4 at a time with their engine running , blocking businesses , creating traffic jams and scaring the elderly and mothers and babies. When I contacted Westminster noise department about the heavy vehicles clogging the area the officer actually defended the builders and said ‘what do you want them to do?’ I think these developments are so big they should have a designated liaison officer and they should have strict guidelines.”

Chiltern Street

Residents in Chiltern Street have told us of their concerns about the proposed ‘Traffic Management’ scheme. They say;

“The matter appears to be a fait accompli for the hotel operator, the Portman Estate and the Council, which does not take proper account of the democratic process. Residents, who do not want this scheme, have been repeatedly ignored at the planning stages. We request that the plan to build out pavements outside the Hotel restaurant and the Bok Bar be abandoned and Chiltern Street remains as it is currently, in the interests of residents’ (the majority) peace and quiet.”

Seymour Place

We have urged the Council and TfL to take urgent action on this potential hazard;

“I want to advise you that now the metal post at the other end of the Barclays bike rental zone has been smashed as well (you will recall I advised several weeks ago about the first one which is still un repaired). So, both metal sign posts have now been flattened, presumably by oncoming traffic in the few weeks since this bike hire station has been set up (without any consultation with residents.) And the bicycles haven’t even been placed there yet – I really hope that I won’t be saying ‘I told you so’ if there is a serious incident at this very busy road”

Wythburn Place

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“I have spoken to Westminster about the appalling state of the street something like 20 times and someone actually came out to meet me but absolutely nothing has been done since I first contacted Westminster in May. The slope going down from Great Cumberland Place daily has about 40 cigarette stubs, probably from the staff of the Shaftesbury Hotel on the corner, who use it like smokers corner. The mews daily has beer cans, broken glass, papers, plastic bags etc. The same rubbish sits in the street from day to day, in the same place, sometimes from week to week. Not to mention the massive amount of weeds, which in some places form a carpet. There is more, but you get the general idea.”

The Council says;

“I went to the location today and there was a very small amount of cigarette ends on the floor but no loose litter or other items in the area. The area where the resident mentions is an ideal place for members of the public, tourists and others to seek shelter during rainy days and thus could have the potential for the build-up of waste. However, on this occasion only a small amount of cigarette butts were on the floor and I had the area swept by the sweeper who was in the area at the time. I also spoke to the duty manager of Shaftesbury Hotel who told me that all their staff have been informed and are aware not to have their cigarette breaks in the area and to dispose of their waste correctly. However, I made further suggestions to possibly have signs for hotel guests and provide a small bin for their clients to dispose of their butts and other litter. The area will be monitored and will request for any additional sweeps as and when needed.”

Marylebone Road – pedestrian crossings

Many residents have expressed strong concerns about the changes to the pedestrian phases on the lights across Marylebone Road and we have repeated our request to to TfL and the Council to make changes to give pedestrians longer to cross the road;

“With regard to the comments about the traffic lights at Cosway Street that, “it is often impossible to cross both carriageways of the road at one setting”. I use this crossing regularly, and have done so for a number of years, and fortunately am reasonably fit. However, your above statement is incorrect as it includes the word “often”. Furthermore, it is a crossing used regularly by parents with children, a school being about 200 metres from the crossing. It is dangerous and unacceptable.”

“With respect to the observations about the short timing of the traffic lights at the corner of Marylebone Road and Old Marylebone Road and Cosway Street, the same is true when crossing Marylebone Road from South to North at the intersection of Seymour Place and Lisson Grove. I refer to the crossing at the Magistrates Court.”

“A similar problem occurs at ALL the pedestrian crossings in the Marylebone Road, certainly as far as Baker Street and possibly beyond. The amount of time allowed for pedestrians to cross both carriageways has been further reduced with the effect that, unless one’s name is Usain Bolt, it is impossible to cross from one side of the road to the other without being forced to spend several minutes at the central reservation breathing in the fumes of what is one of the most polluted roads in all of England.”

Marylebone Road

We have reported a broken manhole cover on Marylebone Road pavement at the junction with Harewood Avenue.

Basement Excavations

Westminster Council has now issued a revised policy for consultation, which you can see and comment on here:
http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/environment/planning/planning-policy/basements-planning-policy/

Karen Buck MP has introduced her own bill into Parliament seeking to give greater legal protection to Councils that choose to toughen their policies, but risk appeals by well-funded developers.

Westminster Fire Station closure – what you say

“Recent fire incidents have shown that fires do not queue up politely and wait their turn. For example, on 24 October, crews were busy at St Thomas’s Hospital. This required engines from Southwark (due to close), Westminster (due to close), Lambeth and Dowgate. Lambeth will be taking over Westminster’s responsibilities and Dowgate will take over Southwark’s after 9 January. At the same time there was an incident in Warwick Way which needed four engines, including two engines from Brixton. And there was the fire on Oxford St. Soho, the nearest station, was already busy. It took the first engine, Knightsbridge (due to close) 11 minutes to get there. The target for the first engine is 6 minutes.”

Pimlico Academy – what you say

“I live overlooking Pimlico School and we have to sustain noise from 07:00 to 21:30 although quite a lot of days it can be as late as 21:50. At weekends this is from 08:00 even on a Sunday when people queue to attend the car boot sale with little or no regard that hard working people may want a lay in or just a bit if peace while they eat breakfast. It appears that the only day we are not subject to 12 boys and a male teacher shouting their heads off will be Christmas Day In any other location this would amount to anti-social behaviour but not in St George’s Square Pimlico.”

What you say

“Good work with this practical approach to local needs. Keep it up”

“Thank you, progress is being made by K&C regarding 56 Sloane Square!”

“Thank you very much for your action report. It is thorough and demonstrates your attention to our daily issues as residents.”

“Thank you for such an informative report”

“An invaluable and welcome update on developments in the area, as always”

“Your efforts are not only appreciated as a real contribution to us locals but are increasingly effective. Please keep it up.”

“Thank you for keeping me abreast of the activities of the Labour Group on Westminster City Council.”

“I have been impressed by the attention you can get on our behalf with various public bodies. Would you consider trying another one which is a constant irritation around here?”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – November 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Churchill Gardens Estate

We did a walkabout on the estate and we have contacted City West Homes about the following issues;

• The issue of anti-social behaviour and drug use in stairwells came up in Chippendale House, there was a distinct smell of drugs in the lifts and litter in the stairwells. One resident reported that some plant pots had been thrown from the balcony after dark and that the police had attended but not had a strong enough presence on foot often enough to reassure residents.
• There was also concern about groups congregating in stairwells in Lutyens House and drug use. In both houses there was concern about noise from the Football pitch between Lutyens and Chippendale at night. There is support for the pitch especially for the younger children but residents told us that there are no toilet facilities so late at night and some young people are using the entrances to Chippendale, opposite the pitch to urinate in, as well as the issue of noise when leaving the pitch after 8pm.

City West Homes tell us;

“I was disturbed to read about the issue of individuals urinating in block entrances and also plant pots being thrown balconies. The estate office have had no reports of this from residents, however, I have asked them to send a letter to all residents reminding them that should any of this kind of behaviour be occurring on the estate that they should report it immediately. In line with the observations made by residents, we have had reports of youths congregating in and around Lutyens House during the day. We have liaised with the Safer Neighbourhood Team on this and along with them, we will be monitoring this area closely”

Churchill Gardens Safer Neighbourhood Team Report

“We are concerned about groups causing Anti-Social Behaviour such as dealing drugs and making noise. We are taking this very seriously with our partners such as City West Homes. There has been a lot of action taken in the last month which we hope to increase so that your estate is a nicer place to be. There have been numerous letters sent by City West Homes to those causing this nuisance. Some have had letters advising of their poor behaviour giving them an opportunity to stop their current behaviour. The worst offenders that live outside the estate have had banning letters sent to them. We are putting together ASBO applications for certain individuals at this time. We are also going to refer people on benefit with abnormal amounts of money on them or a life style above their means to the Department of Work and Pensions so they can investigate and act where appropriate. We the police are working closely with our partners so the right people are identified and joint coordinated action is taken. This will be more effective in the long run.”

If you have any information of addresses or persons that could be of interest to the police please contact Churchill SNT on 020 8721 2805. If you wish to remain anonymous please call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. Or email Churchill.snt@met.police.uk

Churchill Gardens Estate Hall

We were very disappointed to hear this news and are doing all we can to help;

“In the early hours of Saturday 12th October thieves broke in and have stolen everything from our kitchen, including our Oven, Fridge Freezer full of food, Microwaves, Utensils, in fact everything. This has a great impact on our elderly residents who come along for their lunch every Friday. We are still going ahead with our lunches, we are “begging, borrowing and stealing” just to show we are not defeated by this. When the police smashed their way in back in August they disabled the alarm system. This cannot be reinstated until we have new doors, we keep being given different dates for these doors to be fitted but as of today’s date the doors are still not fitted. My belief is that if the hall had its normal alarm system in place Saturday’s incident would not have occurred.”

Tesco Lupus Street

We have asked the Council to take action on this matter;

“Every day, and all day, including the weekend, this store keeps its piles of rubbish in metal cages OUTSIDE the store on the public footpath. I have spoken to the Manager and have telephoned Tesco head office three times. Each time I am told that of course this is a disgrace and, of course, the matter will be dealt with immediately. Nothing ever happens. We were told that Tesco would enhance the neighbourhood – it has turned this area of Lupus Street into a permanent rubbish dump. Please, please can the Council take action?”

Balmoral Castle pub, Churchill Gardens

Westminster Council has allowed the Balmoral Castle public house on the Churchill Gardens estate to remain empty for eight years and has run up a £200,000 scaffolding bill to keep the building standing. We have argued that the long-empty building, vacant since 2006, should be converted to new homes for older people. Situated very close to Darwin House, which provides supported housing for elderly people on the Churchill Gardens estate, the new flats could then be offered to older Westminster Council tenants who currently occupy family-sized flats, who wish to move voluntarily to a smaller flat, thereby releasing these family sized properties for families on the Council’s waiting list. In April 2010, Westminster Council’s Director of Housing announced; “Residents should be assured that we want to resolve this situation and we will be working with them in the coming weeks.” However, nearly four years later and £100,000 more spent on scaffolding, nothing has happened and the pub remains derelict.

Lillington Gardens/Vauxhall Bridge Road

We made enquiries after receiving this message;


“Are you aware of plans to trim/cut down trees in the conservation zone in Lillington gardens/Pimlico. And the council as I understand it are planning to charge residents to do this – even though, as they state, they are owned by the council. These plans do not seem to reflect the desires of all residents and it is going to cost quite a sum. I also do not understand how trees can be pruned or cut down when we are in a conservation zone. There are also plans to cut down the trees opposite St James the less church, as the developers of a new building feel they are too close to their building. Surely this is an issue that the developers should have addressed at the time, and it’s outrageous that it is being contemplated that the trees are cut down and replaced with saplings – especially given that these are amongst some of the only trees along the whole of Vauxhall Bridge Road”

The Council told us;

“Trees on City West Homes Estates, of which Lillington Gardens is but one, are inspected and maintained, as necessary, on a three yearly rolling programme. A specification has been prepared and is currently with CWH to consult with their residents. The work is routine – pruning back from properties, lighting and to remove any trees or branches that may be unsafe. With regard to the trees in front of St James the Less there are a number of differing proposals to refurbish this space. Tree removal and replacement is but one option that is being considered.”

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have asked the Council and TfL to sort out this problem;

“The drain at the bus stop outside the post office is permanently blocked. Recently in the heavy rain the lake which formed stretched for 50 metres. Inevitably anyone walking there or, more pertinently, those forced to wait there for a bus were being repeatedly drenched as traffic drove by at speed, producing a bow wave, splashing up as high as people’s faces on occasion. When will an adequate solution be reached? Plainly the small traditional square drainage cover is inadequate at that point.”

Chapel Street, NW1

We have asked the Highways Department to investigate this problem;

“I am writing to ask if you could look into an issue that I have tried without success to get resolved. Road works in Chapel Street NW1 started in 2009. Since then the pavement on one side of the road and one of the two traffic lanes have been blocked off. The work finished several months ago but neither the pavement nor the road has been restored. According to a notice on site, the HSE granted 194 weeks from 7/12/09 to 23/8/13 for work on the bulk supply point next to Edgware Road tube station. On 1/9/13, after the deadline had passed, I reported the matter to TfL. They said they couldn’t help but had referred the matter to WCC. WCC appear to have ignored both their enquiries and mine. If there is anything you can do to get the pavement restored and the traffic lane reopened, I would be very grateful.”

Seymour Place

We are making enquiries about the new Barclays Bike stands;

“The bike hire space extends across half of the side of the road, ensuring that the available space is not wide enough for all but the smallest of vehicles to pass. The congestion will be very significant as vehicles need to move across to the opposite lane and negotiate oncoming traffic to pass the area. This seems to have been confirmed already – after only a couple of days the metal post at one end of the bike hire bay has been smashed and flattened! This must be a major concern for the users of the bike station who will be taking their lives in their hands when attempting to hire a bike in the face of the heavy traffic. This simply has not been thought through. I am really keen to establish who made the decision to situate this bike hire space right on a very busy road, with zero consultation with residents who will be directly affected – and when there are many much quieter and more appropriate side roads very close by.”

Hyde Park Square

We have asked the Police to look into the problem of this Square (and others in Westminster) being used as a toilet;

“We have had an issue with urinating taxi drivers in Hyde Park Square for many years and have dealt with everyone from the carriage office, the police, Westminster etc and we even ended up with CCTV footage of guilty parties, however no one was ever fined and no progress was ever made. It’s obviously a serious problem across London!”

The Strand

We have reported a rattling manhole cover on the Strand which needs replacing. It is on the north carriageway at the entrance to one of the street leading up to Covent Garden.

Sloane Square

We asked the Refuse collection team to look in to this issue;

“56 Sloane Square, Brendel House, is still an on-going problem with trash being left for pick up, but not always on the days when the trash is meant to be picked up. The result is a pavement usually full of the emptied bags that have been looked into by homeless and other street wanderers leaving a big mess on the pavement. Please try to correct this by forcing the management of the Brendel House to clean up its act or to be fined heavily! Thank you!”

The Refuse Collection team told us;

“I’ve spoken to my local warden regarding Brendel House, 56 Sloane Square, and this address is very much in RBKC, as is the location of the waste. We have forwarded the information to them, but could you let the complainant know that he needs to contact the RBKC Street Line on 02073613001 in future as this will ensure it is recorded on their systems.”

Al-Dar, 61-63 Edgware Road W2

We have asked the Council to investigate the following concerns from residents;


“This restaurant continues to ruin my life and to some extent lives of others in my building too. They always run (open or closed) well in to the night on weekdays and weekends well above their allowed opening hours and bang and drag furniture and other equipment on/across their marble/granite/tiled floors and against walls too.”

Upper Regent Street toilets

We had an enquiry about the closure of the toilets in Upper Regent Street. Apparently “the Council spent a lot of money renovating them and then closed them shortly afterwards”.

The Council says;

“The Oxford Circus conveniences were refurbished in 2005 but were decommissioned in 2009/10 in order to accommodate the Oxford Circus Diagonals scheme. The narrowing of the central island on Regent Street North, necessary to accommodate the widening of the footways and improvements to the pedestrian crossings and the new diagonal crossings, meant that it was not possible for the toilets to be retained.”

Victoria Tower Gardens

We have made enquiries after receiving this message;

“I note the recent planning application to erect a new education centre for the Palace of Westminster, to be sited in Victoria Tower Gardens. The application raises a number of concerns. Significantly the proposed ‘temporary’ structure is requesting a licence for 15 years which is hardly temporary and will require the removal of most of the trees and vegetation that currently separates the gardens and the area to the right of the Palace of Westminster. I appreciate the need to have a proper facility for visiting school groups however I wanted to bring this to your attention and ask whether there has been any robust discussion across Council about the significant loss of public space and vegetation in Victoria Tower Gardens as a result of this proposal, in an area of Westminster where there is precious little green space. I am also concerned about the proposed new coach park area, alongside Victoria Tower Gardens near the entrance to the new Children’s playground on the Lambeth bridge end.”

South Molton Street

We have asked the Council to investigate this problem;

“Several months ago I was in contact with you regarding the appalling state of South Molton Street in W1. In summer I came across staff from the Council who were inspecting the street and assured me that works to put things right will commence shortly. We are in the second part of October and nothing has been done.”

The Council says;

“There are actually a number of on-going issues in this street in terms of old interim repairs. We have been working to get agreements with the utilities and our contractors in place to get these permanently reinstated to the necessary standards. Agreements, purchase orders, and deposits are now in place. Only reason we have not moved forward already is complications arising from Crossrail’s work. We are awaiting decision from Crossrail on their position on this before we can move this forward but we hope to have this from them this week. Work to fully permanently reinstate the highway in South Molton Street will require a closure of the road and around a week of work. It would remain open to pedestrians for the shops and deliveries would be managed at scheduled slots each day”

Lupus Street Post Office – what you say

“I would like to add my support to the campaign to keep Lupus Street post office open for all the reasons that have already been so well voiced. It is in a highly residential area and is a very well used branch by many, many local people as well as passers-by. There is meter parking very close by so it is convenient for those coming from outside the area as well. A large proportion of the local residents are elderly, disabled and mothers with children and young babies who would clearly be very disadvantaged by losing the valuable services it provides.”

St George’s Square – what you say

“I wrote to you some time ago about the problem of people urinating through the railings by the taxi rank on the St Georges Square northern triangle (opposite 6-20). Signs were put up but the problem has persisted and the smell is often disgusting. The signs have clearly had no deterrent effect and I wonder if you could raise this issue again.”


Dorset Street – what you say

“For once I have to praise the Council and its contractors. Dorset Street between Baker Street and Gloucester Place, previously so bad it was even getting difficult to cross on foot, was re-surfaced two weeks ago. It took 36 hours to strip, re-cover and re-mark. This speed is pretty impressive. I wish the utilities could be made to operate with such efficiency.”

Great Pulteney Street/Beak Street – what you say

“I sympathise with the reader about the incredible increase of bars in Soho. Please add the mob that gets outside ‘The Sun’ pub in Great Pulteney St/Beak St. They block the pavements and road so that cars cannot get down the street. Public thoroughfares are ignored. And there is much noise for residents. What to do?”

What you say

“I am not a natural Labour voter but your commitment to local issues, described in your round robin emails, shows a practical approach to politics which is a pleasant change to political ideology.”

“Thank you for your time and effort. We really appreciate the detailed info about our ‘hood’. Please let me know if you ever need extra pair of hands.”

“Thank you, once again, for your regular reports; they are so useful.”

“I would like to thank you for keeping us informed of what is happening”

“Keep up the sterling work. It is very much appreciated”

“Many thanks once again for all you do on our behalf.”

“Many thanks for this and for your efforts over the Bressenden Place bus stop. A much improved service.”

“Thank you for all you are doing!”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – October 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Churchill Gardens Tenants Hall

We have been contacted by the Tenants’ Association about the damage done to the doors of the Churchill Gardens Estate Hall recently during a police raid following a hoax call alleging a fatality. During the raid the Estate Hall doors were very badly damaged, including the door frames which support the heavy fire doors, and will cost an estimated £3,000 to repair. The Tenants’ Association does not have the money to do this work and is looking to the police to help them with this problem which is not of the Association’s making. We have asked the Police to consider how they might be able to help with this most unfortunate situation.

Ebury Bridge Estate

We asked City West Homes to repair a lift which was broken for over a week.

Old Pimlico Library in Rampayne Street – what you say

“The old Library building in Rampayne Street has stood empty for the last three years or so, after the Library services and books were transferred to their new home in Lupus Street to combine with Pimlico School. Recently a petition was assembled to ask that planning permission for an Arts Centre be set up in that building. It seemed a splendid and thoroughly worthwhile idea, but unfortunately it clashed with a planning plan from Sainsbury’s for a Local store in the building. The idea of a Sainsbury on that busy and complicated corner is not a sensible one!
• Rampayne Street is narrow anyway with its entrance to Pimlico Tube Station on the corner immediately opposite the planned site.
• Rampayne Street is used as a through route for non-commercial traffic.
• Rampayne Street is a parking street for residents of the Lillington complex and those using the station.
• Delivery vehicles to the back of a “grocery store” would have little or no room to park to unload.
• Very early morning deliveries would be a noisy and unwelcome presence in a residential area.
• Small general stores in Tachbrook Street and Lupus Street would be badly hit by the competition from a multi-national
• There is a huge Sainsbury in Victoria which provides all grocery needs anyway … and will deliver.”

Lupus Street Post Office – what you say

“The arguments for the closure of Lupus Street post office are not justifiable in my opinion. Why would it be prudent to close down a well-used public service to merge is with another already overused service (Vauxhall Bridge post office). Forget whether people can walk there or not but that IS a problem for many residents. Like closing hospitals for mergers, it causes havoc and denies people essential services on purpose”

Manchester Square

We have asked the Council, Police, Public Carriage Office and Taxi Drivers Association to investigate this anti-social behaviour;

“I would be grateful to know who at the Council and Police is pursuing the issue with urinating taxi drivers. The Baker Street Quarter BID is working to assist residents and businesses affected by the same issue in and around Manchester Square. We have had signs erected which have had no impact and the Public Carriage Office is only begrudgingly accepting our reports with photographic evidence and licence/number plates without any commitment to following through.”

This is also a problem in Eccleston and St George’s Squares and we have asked for a coordinated response from the authorities.

Westminster Cathedral Piazza

We have asked the Council to update us on the action being taken with rough sleepers after receiving the following enquiry;

“I am asking your help about rough sleepers. Neither the council nor police are unaware of the disgusting behaviour to which we have been subject, particularly over the last 3 months, but no-one seems to take responsibility for managing the problems caused by rough-sleeping. The problems are around Westminster Cathedral Piazza, particularly around the ‘cathedral tree’ at the apex of Ashley Place, John Lewis Headquarters car-park, close to St Pauls Bookshop and St Vincent’s de Paul Primary School on Morpeth Terrace.”

Library e-books

We have asked the Council to respond to the following enquiry;

“I noticed that the numbers of books are reducing in Westminster libraries, most notably in the greatly reduced temporary Marylebone library. Will books be available in ebook format instead? If so, when will books be available in ebook format?”

The Council says;

“The temporary Marylebone library in Beaumont St is much smaller than the one at Council House and so can only accommodate a reduced number of items. People can of course use any of the other libraries across the 3 boroughs to gain direct access to a wider choice of stock, or indeed request items via the online catalogue. We have already got a large quantity of e-resources – online databases, e-audio books, e-magazines. All of these can be accessed free via any internet-connected computer at http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/libraries/247/ with Library membership card and passcode. As far as e-books is concerned, we do intend to expand into this field but the area is fraught with format and licensing issues, with publishers being reluctant to issue licences to public libraries for multiple access, for fear of their commercial viability. “

Bishops Bridge Road and Westbourne Terrace westbound bus stop

We have made enquiries about the following issue;

“This bus stop has been closed for two years, forcing local residents to walk from Praed Street or Gloucester Terrace. When is this bus stop re-opening?”

Crossrail has confirmed that buses only, would return to Eastbourne Terrace on 14th February 2014. There will be a series of public information events to advertise this from the New Year onward. In the short term, from September until November, there will be some further changes to bus operations in this area and publicity and information on those is due shortly.

Clarges Estate

The City Council granted planning consent to an application from British Land to redevelop the Clarges Estate in Mayfair. The scheme will see a number of existing buildings demolished and replaced with 47 flats, eleven of which have been designated as affordable.

Clipstone Street

The Jet service station and Mace shop at Clipstone Street in Fitzrovia closed after more than 40 years of trading. According to ‘Fitzrovia News’;

“The service station was used by a lot of taxi drivers. Local people remarked that the staff were very friendly and the late night opening of the shop was handy for charging pre-paid power meters and getting groceries.”

The freeholder of the site is Westminster City Council which has granted a 35 year headlease to Soho Data Holdings, who have the option of development. Soho Data Holdings are registered at 91-93 Cleveland Street, immediately adjacent to the service station, a building occupied by several media companies.

Bressenden Place

We are making enquiries about this issue;

“One thing you could look into is the habit of bus drivers to drive past the temporary bus stop in Bressenden Place. The permanent stop has been moved thanks to the Land Securities development. I do not see why the private interests of developers should result in our not having a bus stop convenient for us, as we have had for many years. Would you please add this to the list of things you are doing to protect us ordinary folks’ interests? “

Transport for London tells us;

“Bus stop (P) named “Bressenden Place” in Buckingham Palace Road was removed and a temporary stop was sited in its place, (approximately 2 months ago). This was done as Land Securities are currently operating with 2 entrances to their site, however they are working towards operating one entrance and we anticipate that this will be in place soon. Once this has taken place it is our intention to re-site the fixed stop back to its original location, give or take a meter or so. The current stopping arrangements have not changed in reality and drivers should be serving the temporary bus stop. We will ask all the bus operators to remind their drivers of the correct stopping arrangements.”

Berwick Street

We are making enquiries after receiving this message;

“Since March this year the stretch of Berwick Street I live in has been bombarded with licensing applications, and I am getting very fed up with the fact that I constantly have to keep an eye on it, and have to keep writing objections. I find that valuable time is being wasted with hearings that should never have to take place in the first place because Soho is absolutely saturated with bars and restaurants.”

Broadwick Street

We have asked the Noise Officers to investigate this problem;

“There was a very loud burglar alarm at 9-11 Broadwick Street at 10.50 pm Tuesday evening. I call the police – they don’t deal because I can’t see any burglars, in fact there never are any. Noise line promises to call me back 45 minutes later (to wake me up again) even though I have given all the information they could possibly need – apparently an investigator needs to call me – total job creation activity there then. I’ve reported this alarm before which is why I’m annoyed – surely once is enough. They just need to go round and say if it happens again the alarm will have to be disconnected, given that it has happened before. It’s not rocket science”

Marshall Street

We have asked the Council to investigate these long standing issues;


“Marshall Street and the cross with Broadwick Street has become an overly used ‘loading bay’ – it causes dreadful, incessant congestion, noise and pollution to this heavily residential area and is unacceptable. This combined with Marshall Street being used as a dump for waste from all over, means that this area has descended into an appalling state that is truly dangerous and unsightly. I have seen several people almost mowed down by reversing articulated trucks that can hardly move, never mind turn in these narrow streets and people forced on the road due to the whole pavement being blocked by garbage”

Seymour Place

We have asked the Council to take this matter up with TfL;

“My family and I have suffered from extreme noise pollution over the past 2 nights as workmen use heavy drilling equipment to dig up the road outside our home. The work both nights began around 8pm and continues for several hours at ear piercing levels, affecting the residents in the area and keeping young children awake. I find it incredible that someone has approved this entirely anti-social noise pollution at the time of night they have and would like to investigate this further. The work is clearly non urgent as it appears to be preparing a “Boris bike” cycle hire station. I would have thought TFL have to consult with residents before placing a large hire station immediately outside their homes with all the attendant activity and noise associated with people hiring and returning bikes 24 hours a day. We have had no notice or consultation at all and wish to raise this at the appropriate level.”

Marylebone High Street Tesco – what you say

“I can only endorse the complaint about Tesco deliveries on Marylebone High Street. It’s not just the interruption to traffic that is the problem (no-one should drive round here) but the danger to pedestrians. This is a bad junction at the best of times but with traffic backed up it is extremely dangerous. One person has already been killed and it is only a matter of time before this recurs. There is only one real solution (that adopted in most European city centres) which is to limit delivery times (07.30 – 10.30) and the size of delivery trucks (1.5 Tons). This would mean that Tesco couldn’t deliver goods in cages or combine deliveries with those to other shops”

“Completely agree with the TESCO lorries causing huge traffic jams (one recent one took several minutes to un-jam).”


Environmental issues reporting – what you say

“In the latest update, you mentioned an enquiry into an app to make it easier to support environmental problems. Such a service already exists: http://www.fixmystreet.com. It is provided by mysociety, who also created theyworkforyou.com and writetothem.com. Personally, I would rather that Westminster CC encourage people to use fixmystreet (which forwards the reports to the council) than invest money in duplicating an (excellent) existing service.”

“My experience, over years, has been that there is no knowledge of even such well known places as Carnaby Street, if one telephones with a problem, so Heaven help you if you’re drawing their attention to somewhere even slightly obscure. When I lost patience with one particular officer, and pointed out that she only had to consult an A to Z, she told me she had no such thing – just a few photocopied pages, which she was trying to read. I have long considered that an app would be the ideal solution, but WCC seem to be light years behind such an idea. They are woefully understaffed, so that attending a night-time problem can often take hours, and in this economic climate I fear matters may not get better.”

Pavement cycling on Bishops Bridge Road and Westbourne Grove- what you say

“Sadly this issue is still on-going and is a danger for pedestrians. To add irony, the illegal cycling often happens on the Mayor’s Boris bikes. Please can pavement cycling be resolved urgently?”


Bishops Bridge – what you say

“There are emergency vehicles going on the Bishops Bridge every 10-15 minutes with sirens blaring. Can the sirens be switched off between 9pm – 7am as they are a disturbance to residents? Frankly at those times there isn’t enough traffic to justify the sirens.”

Weymouth Street – what you say

“The problem I mentioned with cars driving the wrong way down Weymouth Street continues to be a problem. So much so that I count around 10 – 15 cars a day (including taxi’s!) driving the wrong way – and I am only observing the road for 20minutes or so in total each day! The problem also happens on surrounding one-way streets leading onto Weymouth Street.”

London Ride – what you say

“I agree with the person about the bike ride – the road closures for that Sunday effectively cut Pimlico off – pretty much all bridges closed, Grosvenor Road around the Embankment – no way to get South and the roads around Victoria and St James Park. The closures effectively made a prisoner of anyone in Pimlico with a car.”

“I totally accord with the remarks about the London Ride. It made my blood boil that Londoners have so meekly given in to the tyranny of sport which kept us prisoners in the small area bounded by the event. On the day, I was prevented from carrying out my service commitments in South West London by the movement restrictions imposed. I am a keen cyclist, I cycle nearly every day. However, I know several people who say they hate cyclists and the London Ride can only encourage this attitude. The event seemed to me, not so much about promoting healthy and environmentally sustainable activity but imposing the will of ego-driven politicians.”


Public Toilets – what you say

“An estimated 40% of the adult population over 40 years has bladder problems. Our problem in Westminster is the dearth/nonexistence of free, attended out-of-hours public lavatories. The City of London has maintained this vital infrastructure and does not suffer the same hazard. City of London streets are clean and unlike ours in parts, do not smell disgusting. At times I am ashamed to be associated with Westminster. This is a public health issue, not a glamorous subject, but it really is time Westminster planned a programme of suitable provision. The tourist industry needs this infrastructure too. Not rocket science, just civilised.”

Eccleston Square – what you say

“It is not only cabbies who are urinating outside the railings in Eccleston Square. Far more of this behaviour is going on INSIDE the railings! The garden committee organize huge barbecue parties with plenty of alcohol that go on until all hours of the night, with no sanitary or washing facilities. People therefore have to use the flowerbeds and bushes. Is this not in contravention of Health and Safety?”

London Living Wage

We have launched an on-line petition calling on Westminster Council to ensure that all its contractors pay their employees the London Living Wage. The petition reads:

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to ensure that all Council contractors pay their staff the London Living Wage”

People living, working and studying in Westminster can sign the petition at

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

The Living Wage is the best means of increasing wages and living standards in Westminster. It is an hourly rate, currently £8.55, calculated by the Greater London Assembly to be the minimum wage needed in order to afford a reasonable standard of living in the capital. The Living Wage is good for businesses, individuals and society; it increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and staff turnover, increases job satisfaction and helps to tackle the root causes of poverty.


Payday Lenders

We have started an on-line petition calling on the Council to follow the example of other Councils and to block access to the websites of pay day lenders through Council computers in libraries, community centres and Council offices.

Pay day lenders who offer short-term loans of up to £1,000 at an annual interest rate of 5,853%, are taking unfair advantage of many local residents who find themselves in difficult financial circumstances. The Council should be encouraging credit unions and local affordable lending as genuine alternatives to pay day lenders.

People living, working and studying in Westminster can sign the petition at

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

What you say

“Many thanks for your updates. I find them interesting and useful”

“I liked the information about 55 Broadway and the HMV store in this edition – makes me feel connected with what is going on.”

“Thank you so much, again, for a fascinating newsletter, and for all the marvellous work you are doing.”

“Thank you, good to get an insight into the issues”

“Many thanks for another useful edition of your newsletter. Please keep up the good work.”

“Thanks for this; it’s so helpful to know what is being done in this area.”

“Thank you your efforts on behalf of local residents across Westminster. I always read your reports with interest and commend your efforts.”

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


Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – September 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

City West Homes

We are meeting with the new Chief Executive of City West Homes, Nick Barton, in September. If you have any issues that you would like us to raise with him, please let us know.

Your Priorities – On Line Survey

We are working hard to make Westminster a better place to live, work and raise your family. We want to do more. We also want to make sure that we are devoting our energy on the issues that really matter most to you.

Please help us by filling out this quick and easy form. This will help us prioritise our campaigns, raise the issues that you care most about and push the Council to take your concerns seriously.

http://bit.ly/westminsterpriorities

Marylebone High Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem;

“I would just like to draw your attention to Tesco at the bottom of Marylebone High Street. Almost always there is a large delivery van parking for ages outside. This means that traffic coming down New Cavendish Street becomes gridlocked with the traffic coming down Marylebone High Street with everyone waiting to get past. In theory drivers can also turn right but not with a huge van in the way. The traffic turning left from Blandford Street has to wait ages until someone lets them through. The road is narrow and surely Tesco could receive deliveries at times less disruptive to other road users. Other shops manage not to be a nuisance to everyone else why are they allowed to be an exception?”

Chiltern Street

We have asked again if this problem can be investigated;

“I am a resident on Chiltern Street and my car has now been broken into twice once with the use of a sledgehammer. Whilst the police have tried to assist the main issue has been that they are short staffed so there is no police presence in the area. They did state that on both occasions if there were cameras on the street they would have been able to have perhaps been able to catch them. There have also been several break ins on the street on commercial units, is there anything we can do to push this?”

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.

St James’s Park

We have written to the Royal Parks about this matter;

“I am saddened to see that the rotunda over the concreted area in St James’s Park, removed for the Olympics, has not been replaced which means no more summer concerts there, which were lovely. I contacted Royal Parks but they just said ‘no further concerts’. I thought things were supposed to have been reinstated as they were after the Olympics? Is that something you could chase up – it was a very pleasant way to while away a summers afternoon, and an outlet for live musicians?”

Black Cabs at Victoria Station

We have asked the Council if anything can be done to support this suggestion:

“How can we get the London cabs to have compulsory stop start engines such as several of the London buses? The taxies endlessly queuing around Victoria station lead to all the pollution in that area. The engines are available and any extra cost would be finally matched by petrol savings.”

London Ride

We have passed on this comment from a resident to the Mayor;

“This was a complete shambles. I’m all for people getting fit, but the level of disruption that it caused London at the weekend was completely disproportionate and unnecessary. I was more inconvenienced by this that I was by the entire Olympics. Some highlights of my trip out to buy urgent medication for my baby on Sunday…

– Being stuck on the roads for 3 hours.
– Seeing several ambulances and police cars with blue lights on completely stuck with the rest of us.
– Cars overheating in the jams and two with smoke billowing from them.
– Closed bridges with no bikes on them
– Marshalls giving me incorrect information (“Go to Lambeth Bridge and they will let you over”. They didn’t)
– Marshalls not knowing answers to basic questions.
– My road, Millbank, being closed in spite of the fact that it has dedicated cycle lanes.
– Cyclists on the unclosed roads who had developed a habit of cycling through red lights and over pedestrian crossing without stopping.

If the intention was to celebrate cycling, it had the opposite effect.”

55 Broadway

Transport for London (TfL) has invited architects to submit plans for the use of its historic headquarters at 55 Broadway into residential accommodation. TfL say that it looked at every potential option for the building with office, hotel and residential uses all being considered, but that after detailed analysis the conclusion was that a residential led development would not only deliver the best value for fare and taxpayers, but it would also be the most suitable option for the Grade I listed building to maintain its internal and external heritage. Designed by Charles Holden and built between 1927 and 1929, 55 Broadway has been London Underground’s iconic headquarters for over 80 years. The building was listed Grade II in 1970 and upgraded to Grade I in 2011 by English Heritage on account of its outstanding national historic and architectural interest.

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.

Eccleston Square

We have again asked the Council and the Police to investigate the following serious issue;

“Over a year ago I wrote to you regarding the Black Cab drivers urinating around the square. The problem is still prevalent, with cabs arriving for that specific purpose. Now with the current hot weather the stench of urine is totally unpleasant. Can anything be done to end this totally unsociable behaviour?”

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.”

Lyall Mews – fox problem – what you say

“Where I live we are less worried about the visiting fox – it hunts and eats the rats!”

“The issue of nocturnal foxes was a real issue some 6 months ago but after asking members NOT to put out rubbish bins until early morning and liaising with WCC collection services this problem has significantly reduced. In short by not putting out rubbish which would prior be left out overnight in bins has seen the food source removed and the foxes which indeed are clever animals seem to have moved on! We have had little feedback since and so on this issue no news is possibly good news!”

What you say

“Thank you for your as ever informative update of events. Keep up the good work”

“Thank you so very much for your latest report and, as always, I am very, very grateful for your efforts on our behalf.”

“Thank you, as usual excellent work.”

“Thank you so much for these regular updates”

“Thank you for all the work and information”

“Excellent report. Very helpful. Have you seen the Daily Mail article highlighting worst crime areas in the UK? Seymour Street and Marylebone Lane (for car crime) make the Top 5! I find this both perplexing and if true, alarming!”

“Thank you for all your hard work and keeping us all aware and up-to-date on issues. You promote a sense of “community” which is so valuable in a big city.”

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your latest action report. It is good to see that these issues are being raised with Westminster Council and that you are getting them to respond to what may be minor matters to them, but very important matters to the large number of people who are affected by them.”

“Thanks again for your hugely informative newsletter”

“I have to say I have found your monthly reports very interesting and useful, keep up the good work.”

“I hope that your next newsletter will contain details of the extraordinary trials I was put through by the Council Tax Department, and my immense gratitude to you for finally getting a reply that sorted everything out for me, at last. I do not know what I would have done without you, and that’s something I’ve felt over and over again. Please make sure that all this, and the resolution you achieved for me, appears in your newsletter.”

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


Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – August 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

24 Bus Stop on Lupus Street

24 bus

There is still time to sign the petition to reinstate the 24 bus stop outside Tesco on Lupus Street,
“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to press Transport for London to reinstate the 24 bus stop outside Tesco on Lupus Street”

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/24busstop/

Cambridge Street

We have made enquiries with the Council after receiving the following information from residents;

“The conversion of Greenwood Court (housing for the elderly) into 16 flats for large families was given planning permission in September 2010, despite objections from residents sharing the courtyard including ourselves. Work started the following year and the first families moved into the upper flats in June 2012, that is a year ago. Since then most of the ground floor/basement flats have remained empty. At the time of the planning application when we suggested a more mixed development, we were told that there were hundreds of families waiting to move into larger flats. So why have these flats, now managed presumably by Network Stadium House, remained empty for over a year? We are still outraged that in the current housing shortage, perfectly good, new flats should be standing empty and deteriorating.”

The Council says;

“These were the dwellings held for possible temporary or permanent relocations from Luton Street as part of the regeneration programme. The homes have now been released for letting and so occupation should be taken up over the next month.”

Holcroft Court

We continue to press the Council to take action against those residents responsible for late night noise and anti-social behaviour which is making it impossible for some residents to get a decent night’s sleep.

Berkeley Square

We have asked the Council to investigate the following request;

“Please could you look into the possibility of 2 residents’ bays being set allocated in Berkeley Square?

Lyall Mews

We have reported the following issue to the Council;

“In Lyall Mews we seem to have a fox problem that is getting worse. Obviously it goes for garbage (even tightly bound double plastic bags are not safe). It is not always possible to put them in the two bins we have. Others experience random attacks on their planters. A bay tree was pulled out last night and flowers destroyed. It is a problem everywhere in this neighbourhood. The refuse strewn everywhere attracts rats who are an equal if not more serious problem.”

Sandringham Court

In response to issue raised by residents in Dufors Place by residents of Sandringham Court, the Council says;

“The location of Sandringham Court, dictates that it is not possible to locate a bin for the residents in the vicinity and there does not appear to be any internal waste storage area within the building. This has led to residents of Sandringham Court placing their waste by the entrance to the cleansing depot expecting the waste to be collected by the dustcart from the depot. This, however, has meant that the waste could be on the street for hours before collection. The depot manager instructed staff to bring the waste within the depot as being preferable to leaving it out on street. Unfortunately, there are often long periods when there are no sweepers returning to the depot to remove this waste. I have instructed him to cease this activity as it does not promote the good behaviour that we expect from residents in regards to waste presentation and is contrary to the Council’s policy of “bags off street”. The Westminster Warden Service has recently done another letter drop to the residents of Sandringham Court informing them of the collection time of 23.00hrs and that they will need to place their waste outside their property as near as reasonably practical before this collection time. This will then become an enforcement issue if there is waste out at other times.”

Residents have responded as follows;

“I think it’s nutty that they will not provide a bin. There are various places a bin could be put which would be better than the present arrangement. Other buildings in the street, including mine, have bins. There is space, for example, for an extra bin outside Hyde Tower. I think it’s unrealistic to expect residents to only put out rubbish at restrictive times. Further, they do not put it outside their own building. They put it outside 7 Dufour’s Place. It seems peculiar that Westminster prefer to use resources enforcing these nonsensical rules rather than providing a realistic solution.”

Marshall Street area

We have again asked the Council to investigate this long-running issue;

“I was full of hope that you could help to resolve the problem of mass dumping and erratic collection of the Carnaby Estate rubbish in Marshall Street. However, the problem is as bad as ever, only, the pavement is now very badly stained, so not only is the problem a health hazard and a movement hazard, it is also detracting greatly from the look of the area – whether the rubbish is there or not. I think the mass dumping in Marshall Street every day has led to others dumping their rubbish whenever and where ever they fancy – with seemingly no ill consequences. Why can’t a better solution be found? There is a hidden garage/ bay in Ganton Street under Hearst House, where no one walks and where there are no residences, which is only round the corner from where the dumping takes place and fills the whole of the narrow pavement.”

Chiltern Street

We have asked the Council and the police to investigate the following problem;

“In one short block (between Dorset Street and Blandford Street) there have been at least 5 vehicle break-ins in the past 3 months. Previously we had hardly heard of any during the 14 years I have lived there. These all occur at night, with the thief targeting new and expensive models of car to steal satnavs, etc. We have drawn this to the attention of the Council, the police, and the Portman Estate. None of them seem able to offer anything. We asked for some CCTV, but were told this is not a sufficiently major street to justify it. Do you have any suggestions on how this could be handled?”

Dorset Street

We have asked the Council to look into the following issue;

“Establishments on Dorset Street are blocking not only the pavement for pedestrians but, in the case of the restaurant, not enabling a parked car to open its doors when parked in the disabled bay:
1. The Barley Mow pub – this evening the drinkers occupied the whole pavement width outside the pub so pedestrians had to step into the road to walk by.
2. Anacapri Restaurant – this establishment has put 2 rows of tables immediately outside that result in pedestrians having to walk between them on that part of Dorset Street. In addition the far row of tables at the edge of the pavement prevents a car door to be opened when parked in the Disabled Parking space adjacent to the restaurant.
In both cases, use of the pavement by the establishments is impeding pedestrian access. It is very hard to believe that these activities are permissible and so result in pedestrians not able to use the pavements!!”

The Council says;

“Both premises were visited and I would like to give you a progress report:-
• Barley Mow, 8 Dorset Street – Staff have been reminded of the importance of managing the outside area and keeping the highway clear at all times so that a wheelchair user or other pedestrian are able to pass by the pub unhindered. Dialogue with the pub is continuing and new procedures will be suggested to prevent a recurrence. The premises has a private forecourt and at the time of my visit, a number of number of barriers and an ‘A’ board were obstructing the public highway. Whilst this was rectified immediately, staff were reminded that, under no circumstances, must their street furniture encroach onto the public highway.
• Ristorante Anacapri, 10 Dorset Street – I met with the duty manager who has apologised and admitted that, on occasions, his tables and chairs may well have blocked the public footpath. Again, this premises has private forecourt and the duty manager has been informed that enforcement action may be considered if he persistently obstructs the public highway”.

Egyptian Embassy

We have asked the Council to investigate what action can be taken with the police to deal with the following issue;

“We have had to endure virulent, aggressive and thoroughly disturbing noises from street gang demonstrations using megaphones to scream over a distance of 20 feet. I have had a response from Mark Field, MP saying that there is little to be done. Our free speech and democracy seems to mean that we have to tolerate the intolerant and the intolerable. Your assistance in getting this noise and behaviour off our streets would be most appreciated.”

Crime Reports

We have alerted the police to the following problem;

“A week last Sunday two kids on bikes (about 16) tried to grab my watch whilst I was walking along Belgrave Road towards St. George’s Square. They didn’t get the watch but it’s definitely still there as an issue – and it’s such a shame in an otherwise lovely area.”

We are also supporting residents who have reported anti-social behaviour in the yard at the end of Churton Place, just round the corner from Tachbrook Street.

Pedicabs

We asked the Council to let us know what can be done about the following problem;

“I’m writing about a specific nuisance that emerged last summer and is getting worse; the pedal cabs that drive round the residential streets off Edgware Road with music blaring late at night. Sometimes two will race each other with predictable results for oncoming cars, and the drunken passengers shout, scream and even stand up and dance. When there are evening events in Hyde Park a number will congregate in an impromptu cab rank around Stanhope Place waiting to find passengers. I don’t understand why the cabs can’t be licensed – any vehicle plying for trade and taking money should be insured and under council oversight – and things like playing music banned. I’ve seen pedal cab drivers cycling around Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner looking at smart phones, obviously trying to work out where they are going but not looking at other traffic, and nearly been run down by others coming the wrong way down one-way streets or jumping red lights.”

The Council says

“There was a court case several years ago, which resulted in a judge ruling that pedicabs were a form of stage carriage rather than a hackney carriage. To make matters worse all legislation on stage carriages in London was repealed some years ago. TfL and the London Boroughs sought provisions in two London Local Authorities and TfL Bills to define pedicabs and enable some enforcement action against them. The Bills Committee blocked the first attempt and the provisions in the second Bill were abandoned as they were not really tackling the problem and relied upon pedicab operators cooperating. TfL and the City Council now assist the police to use its older enforcement powers. Pedicab riders get warned for obstructing the highway or riding in an unsafe manner, then get arrested by the police if they continue their unacceptable behaviour and have the pedicab seized. The City Council then transports the pedicab using a parking enforcement removals vehicle and stores the seized pedicab. Pedicabs are restored to the pedicab owner after the court case. We would prefer a complete ban through legislation. However, a licensing regime is an option if they can be redefined through new legislation, which will probably take several years.”

Garden sharing

We are making enquiries after receiving the following question;

“Is there a garden share scheme in Westminster? Something along the lines of – people who want to garden/grow vegetables but don’t have a garden – matching up with those who do, but have no interest in gardening? I know Age Concern, in Wandsworth, have a scheme and there are a few, rather anonymous, national websites but I couldn’t find anything specific to Westminster.”

CityWest Homes tell us;

“We do run schemes to assist tenants in managing their front gardens or accessing growing spaces, and these are very popular. For example, we provide support to older or disabled tenants who cannot manage their garden and need help with clearance and pruning. We also engage Groundwork to deliver a community gardening project each year which provides training and assistance to tenants with private front gardens. Finally, where appropriate, we transform disused spaces into allotments which are made available to interested tenants. We do have not a garden share scheme specifically but would be very happy to explore this.”

Handyperson Service

The Staying First handyperson service helps with minor repairs and odd-jobs at home. It’s available free for local residents over 60 on a low income, and disabled people. Find out more at http://www.vawcvs.org/downloads/handyperson-westminster-2pdf

Poland Street – what you say

“I saw a mother having to push her baby in a buggy out into the roadway, thus endangering them both, because she simply could not cross the surface of the ramp to the garage. I spoke to her, in very real difficulties myself, and found her a very sensible and intelligent person, but she told me it was absolutely impossible to push a buggy over the surface of the ramp lest the buggy overturn and her child be injured”

Barclays Bikes – what you say

“I live near the Wardour Street/Old Compton Street Barclays bike station and I have to get to work quite early. In general, there are no bikes there when I need to leave for work (around 7 am). Judging by the comments included in your June report, the opposite problem occurs by late morning. Therefore, some manual re-distribution does appear to be called for. The suggestion that I would have is for the touch screens to include an additional option. Namely, when there are NO cycles there but a user would like a cycle, that user should be able to tell the system that (s)he would have liked to hire a cycle from that point but for the absence of cycles at that time. As it stands, the system has no way to assess demand when there are no bicycles present. This option should help the operators of the system to optimise their manual re-distribution visits to include these sites.”

Grosvenor Crescent – what you say

“Please don’t change the junction of Grosvenor Crescent with Hyde Park Corner. Pedestrians manage well enough now and any zebra crossing or traffic lights may have a lamentable effect on traffic flow, affecting far more people than would be helped by any crossing.”

What you say

“Thank you for your newsletters with information on issues that slip through the net (or that other ward councillors are too important to deal with!)”

“Thank you for this useful round up.”

“Thank you for all the information, it is very interesting and nice to be kept informed.”

“Thank you for your latest update which is very informative, and it is comforting to know that the local community is pulling together for improvements and standards in our lovely area of London. I applaud your involvement of, and communication with residents which is a first in my experience.”

“Thank you for this report. I am finding it very useful.”

“Love the reports, and that a collective voice is so much more effective than a lone one”

“Thank you, not only for the work you do on our behalf but for keeping us updated.”

“Thanks very much, your updates are most welcome”

“Thanks for your excellent monthly emails”

“Your Newsletter is always very informative and extremely useful – not to mention a jolly good read!!”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – June 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Save Lupus Street Post Office

Lupus Street PO demo

There is still time to sign the petition to save Lupus Street Post Office,

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to oppose the proposed closure of the Lupus Street Post Office which serves the Churchill Gardens estate and surrounding area”

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


24 Bus Stop on Lupus Street

24 bus

We have organised a petition to reinstate the 24 bus stop outside Tesco on Lupus Street,

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to press Transport for London to reinstate the 24 bus stop outside Tesco on Lupus Street”

http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/24busstop/

Greycoat Place Fire Station

westminsterfirestation

There is still time to sign the petition to save Westminster Fire Station in Greycoat Place;

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to redouble its efforts to oppose the Mayor’s proposal to close Greycoat Place fire station after London Fire Brigade figures show that response times in six wards will not meet the critical six-minute target set by the London Fire Brigade”

If the Mayor’s plans go ahead Fire Brigade response times in Warwick ward would increase from 4 minutes 34 seconds to 7 minutes 16 seconds and by more than two minutes in Tachbrook and Vincent Square Wards.

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

Tachbrook Street area

We have asked the Council and Police to investigate the following enquiry;

“I would like to make a plea for effective policing to stamp out drug dealing and loitering in the Tachbrook Street area. In particular I find the little cut through from the market into Vauxhall Bridge Road really intimidating. Also the Denbigh Street lighting between Wilton Road and Belgrave Road seems poor. I would like to see more done to encourage a feeling of safety for single females who live in the area.”

The local Community Protection Officer tells us;

“There have recently been a number of drug related arrests in this area and we are currently working with the police and City West Homes to take enforcement action against a nearby drugs address that should significantly decrease related activity.
Cycle-enabled snatches were an issue earlier in the year and have since been the focus of increased police attention and an ongoing problem solving process which has subsequently seen the issue disappear since early spring. In addition, I have just made a recommendation that a Neighbourhood Watch event focusing on personal safety make use of this very space between Vauxhall Bridge Road and Tachbrook Street to educate and reassure the local community.”

Poland Street

We are making enquiries about the following problem;

“I have complained to the appropriate authorities over and over about a stretch of Poland Street, where cars drive into a garage. This surface is so appalling that, many years ago, a sheet of metal was laid over part of it! All around this ghastly plate there are terrifying potholes and gaps. The only answer I’ve ever received is that there is a dispute as to whose responsibility that stretch of road surface actually is. Meanwhile a friend of mine who pushes a wheelchair-bound friend along Poland Street reports that every time he does so, the tyres of the wheelchair wheels are ripped to shreds!!!”

Soho residents parking permits

We are investing the following issue;

“I’ve lived in Soho more than 20 years and up until about 5 years ago a man from the council came round to check you were really a resident. This no longer happens. The residents’ parking is full during the working day but not at night which would suggest to me many of the permits have been granted to people that aren’t entitled to them. I think we should have the man that checks back. Also many of the permits are for white vans that are only there during the day. This resident often drives round for half an hour or more looking for a space.“

The Council says;

“The investigation of possible residents parking fraud is undertaken by the General Fraud Investigation team within Internal Audit. This team continues to visit holders of Westminster Residents Parking permits in order to check that they are living in the borough. However such visits are only undertaken when the team is investigating a fraud concerning a permit holder’s possible non residency in Westminster. Such investigations are normally initiated when the team receives an allegation of fraud from members of the public, Westminster staff/Councillors, other organisations eg Police or from on-street work aimed at proactively detecting parking fraud. You can report any suspicious vehicles via the fraud reporting facility on the Council’s main website at: http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/councilgovernmentanddemocracy/councils/contactsconsultationandfeedback/fraud/

Dufours Place

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem;

“Residents of Sandringham Court in Dufour’s Place have been dumping rubbish by the entrance to my building at 7 Dufour’s Place. They told us that they were advised to do this by Westminster Council. Sandringham Court has no bin. Residents are expected to put rubbish out on the street at 8am only on collection days. Otherwise they will be fined. It seems unreasonable not to provide them with a bin. ButWestminster have decided not to. There is an increasing pigeon presence in Dufours Place and some neighbours have seen rats going through the rubbish; which blows all over the street when it’s windy. A bin for Sandringham Court would appear to be cheaper, and more sensible, than dealing with the various vermin and potential health issues.”

Double Basements in Marylebone

Residents have started an on-line petition

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to establish a Policy to Refuse Permission for Double Basements in Marylebone.”

You can sign at http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/basements/

Parking in Fitzrovia

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem;

“I am again writing about the diminishing amounts of residents parking around Charlotte Street, Newman Street, Rathbone Street, Berners Street. We have the following suspended: All Residents parking in Newman Street; All but 6 spaces in Berners Street; Half the parking spaces in Eastcastle Street. Why are the meter bays not available to us? As the council is getting money for the suspended bays, these should be made available to the long suffering residents who have already paid for their parking”

We have received the following positive response;

“The City Council considered your suggestions and is putting in some additional residents’ parking and pay by phone parking spaces during the week commencing Monday 17 June in the following streets:

Rathbone Place (one additional pay by phone bay); Charlotte Street (three additional residents’ parking spaces); Rathbone Street (two additional residents’ parking spaces); and Newman Street (three additional pay by phone bays).”

Grosvenor Crescent

We have asked the Council to investigate the following issue;

“I have a query about the corner of Grosvenor Crescent where it meets the big roundabout at Hyde Park Corner. I live in Pimlico and on my way to work I cycle up to Hyde Park. On my way home, I walk my bicycle past the Hotel before crossing Grosvenor Crescent at the roundabout and getting back on my bicycle. I have two comments about this spot. Firstly, the lack of a pedestrian crossing across Grosvenor Crescent is really dangerous. There may be subways to help pedestrians negotiate the roundabout, but I have tried taking them once or twice and they are very confusing, and I’m pretty certain they don’t have ramps, so not an option for anyone with a bike or pushchair anyway. Whatever, the fact is that people do cross that road on foot in large numbers, and they basically pick their way through the vehicles which are waiting to go up to the roundabout. It’s rather horrifying to watch. I appreciate that putting a pedestrian traffic light there might prevent vehicles from leaving the roundabout by and so snarl up all the other roads as well… But I do wonder whether there isn’t something that could be done.”

Leicester Square

We have been told that the restored Shakespeare statue will reopen at the end of July. This includes re-commissioning of water features and new planting in the lower bowl.

Barclays Bikes

We are making enquiries with TfL about the following issue;

“I wanted to write about a continual problem I am having with the Boris Bikes, particularly in Soho and Westminster. These bikes are a great way of travelling around London, for tourists and commuters alike but the distribution of them is awful. Soho is continually full by around 10am with all stations full, and by around 7pm it is empty. This is the opposite of Pimlico which is empty in the morning and full in the evenings. Is anything being done about this – the extension of the cycle zone is very welcome but Westminster is often the intended destination for a lot of these journeys but the simple demand redistribution does not keep up with in. This scheme is very welcome but it is being managed appallingly.”

Lupus Street – 24 bus stop – what you say

“I am still hoping for the return of the No 24 bus stop near Tesco in Lupus Street. Please don’t give up our campaign.”

St George’s Square – what you say

“I’ve seen the kids urinating in St George’s Square too. I was quite shocked.”

Fire Station closures – what you say


“I do think the fire brigade figures are rubbish. They said they got to the disastrous fire in Dean Street in 8 minutes but I was there with and it was 20+ minutes.”

What you say

“Thank you so much for your latest Action Report which, as always, leaves me both astounded and full of admiration at the vast range and number of issues taken up on behalf of residents who appear to be ignored by Conservative Councillors”

“Thank you for your update email which was very informative. It is good to know people are looking out for the interests of residents.”

“I wanted to thank you for the update I receive. All the petitions are very worthwhile causes and hopefully should help the causes.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – May 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Lupus Street Post Office

We have organised a petition to save Lupus Street post office from closure;

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to oppose the proposed closure of the Lupus Street Post Office which serves the Churchill Gardens estate and surrounding area.”

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

Westminster Fire Station

The London Fire Brigade has released details revealing that 6 wards in Westminster will now fall outside of the target 6 minutes response time. If the Mayor’s plans to close Westminster Fire Station go ahead Fire Brigade response times in Warwick ward would increase from 4 minutes 34 seconds to 7 minutes 16 seconds and by more than two minutes in Tachbrook and Vincent Square Wards.

Getting to a fire quickly saves lives. Seconds matter in these life and death situations. A fire can quadruple in intensity every two minutes. These figures show that the Mayor’s cuts will put lives at risk. The Mayor should abandon his plans to close the Westminster Fire Station immediately.

We have launched a new petition to save Westminster Fire Station from closure

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

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to redouble its efforts to oppose the Mayor’s proposal to close Greycoat Place fire station after London Fire Brigade figures show that response times in six wards will not meet the critical six-minute target set by the London Fire Brigade.”

Churchill Gardens Estate

We are making enquiries about a flat in Maitland House where there are reports of anti-social behaviour.


St George’s Square

We have written to the Head of Eaton Square School after receiving the following enquiry from a resident;

“Eaton Square School continues to use St George’s Square intensively, with buses disgorging quite large numbers of students several times a day. Have they been given permission to do this? I would be very surprised if a commercial entity is allowed to use public property in this way – i.e. to further their commercial endeavours. They should not be able to simply co-opt the small gardens in a residential square to use as a playground. However, what prompted my e-mail today is seeing one of the teachers (in a salmon pink raincoat) help two young pupils urinate in the gardens. Please could you or one of your colleagues inform them that this behaviour is strictly forbidden and they should stop using the square a public lavatory.”

The Head has told us;

“As a school we take our community relationships very seriously and I will certainly investigate further the accusation that a member of staff helped two young pupils to urinate. If this was indeed the case, I will not allow it to happen again.”

Chiltern Street

At the request of a local resident we have asked the Council to locate an electric vehicle charging point in Chiltern Street or nearby.

Bentinck Street

We have asked the Council to investigate a suspected unauthorised holiday letting in a block of flats in Bentinck Street.

Granville Place

We contacted the Council after a resident told us that disabled driver parking spaces in Granville Place are often occupied by chauffeurs who are waiting, while people are shopping nearby.

The Council told us

“NSL Limited, the City Council’s contractors for on-street services are already aware of the situation and have ensured that hourly visits were made to the location, and disabled badges were thoroughly checked. Also, images were regularly taken and any appropriate action carried out. NSL will continue to carry out special enforcement at this location to ensure that vehicles are not parked in contravention; however, if you wish to report any vehicles that you feel may be parked in contravention, please do not hesitate to contact Parking Services on 0207 823 4567, and an advisor will immediately contact NSL in order for a Civil Enforcement Officer to attend and enforce appropriately.”

Taxi queue at Victoria Station

We have asked the Council to investigate the following suggestion;

“Taxi queueing at Victoria station, which can snake back through many neighbouring Pimlico streets, does need more intelligent management. No doubt similar taxi queues form at other stations also. Having a queue of 100 taxis constantly inching forward during the whole day is the same as having 100 taxis permanently parked with their engines running all day. That is a lot of vehicle emissions in a restricted area. With all our new technologies shouldn’t the Council be asking a consultancy to look at new ways of managing this problem?”

The Council says;

“We did make some improvements to taxi queuing arrangements with colleagues in TfL following requests from Ward Councillors and local residents and feedback from the residents of Gillingham Street was very positive. The Victoria Station Upgrade project has major impacts on taxi queuing arrangements.”

John Islip Street/Page Street

We have made enquiries with the Council about this issue;


“I would like to raise the issue of the developments on John Islip St and Page Street. The developers have closed the road – John Islip St – which disrupts the residents. They have also cut down two mature trees which I suspect the council had planted. Also whoever is developing the site next to Burbery on Dean Ryle St have blocked the cut through to Thorney St for the past three months, which is causing severe disruption for pedestrians, and unnecessary.”

Residents’ Parking in Soho

We have asked for a response to the following issue;

“Can you please find out and explain why Wardour Street / Dean Street and Soho Square (plus other roads around the area) are all dug up or closed at the same time thus causing so many resident parking bays to be suspended but no other option given whilst this work is on-going. These are three of the main parking areas for residents in this area and it has become vitally impossible to park. I find myself having to drive all around the Wardour Street side of Soho and then transfer – by a very long winded route – to access the Soho Square side or visa-versa and still struggle. This takes up so much time – so much petrol and pollutes the air even more. Someone must surely have thought this through? Or not?”

Residents’ Parking in North Mayfair

We have made enquiries into the following problem;

“I am writing to you once again because I am finding the situation with Resident Parking is becoming intolerable. I notice that the suspensions now in place in Binney Street, Duke’s Yard and Brown Hart Gardens are being extended until the end of June! There are not sufficient parking spaces for the residents in Binney Street and the surrounding streets and I would like to know when you will be releasing some of these suspended spaces back for the residents. I have asked you before to consider allowing residents to use the ‘pay and display’ spaces whilst all this work is being carried out – but although this was allowed during the Olympics you now seem to feel that it is not appropriate! We have lost more than 50% of the resident spaces in this area and it is unacceptable! Residents should not have to spend twenty minutes driving around trying rot find a space to park and then have to carry heavy bags back to their home – in my opinion we are not being given any consideration.”

Harrowby Street

We are making investigations with the Council after receiving the following information;

“I really don’t like is waking up to see the beggar woman sleeping in the connecting archway between Harrowby St and Cato St. They sleep there almost every night, they arrive after midnight then leave around 8-10am each day. Now I appreciate that people sleep rough but this breed of people are very different. Not only do they plague the area begging and stealing but they have no care for the areas they are in. They arrive, eat and sleep then leave all of their rubbish and mess there. Then a street cleaner has to come and clean it up. They do this every day. They frequent the back entrances of the Seymour leisure centre and several restaurants which have vent pumping out hot air from their kitchens. Now my problem is not that they are sleeping rough but the disrespect they dish out. Especially as there are several entrances to peoples flats in the archway. They all have mobile phones, some of them even pull out and use laptops! On several occasions I have noted a man and woman coming up to them and swapping their clothes and taking away their bags of sleeping things so they can go off and beg some more. I am not trying to sound stuck up or looking down upon them, I feel sorry for their situation but I don’t appreciate their attitudes.”

The future of waste and recycling services

The Council is seeking residents’ views the future of waste and recycling services. Printed copies of the consultation form are available by calling 020 7641 3388. You can also fill in an online survey at http://www.westminster.gov.uk/wconsultation or call 020 7641 2000.

Marylebone Library replacement – what you say

“Thanks for drawing attention to the loss of mature trees at the Luxborough Street new library site. I have sent a response regarding the library, which urgently requires a rethink. A basement site is insufficient and the loss of so many trees is cause for a strengthened objection. Any development must work with the existing building and park and not against it.”
“While I understand the need to modernise library facilities, I also feel strongly that some of our wonderful local heritage may be lost.”

Lyall Mews – what you say

“There are far too many construction permits granted at any one time in Lyall Mews. It is a nightmare. Undoubtedly the developers adhere to the letter of the law, but hardly to the spirit. There isn’t a day when the Mews is not blocked by a heavy flat truck unloading, or a fork lift parked in the middle of the road. It is a pain to get in and out. The dust and dirt is appalling. And the noise is a constant drone. We are beset by builders, cigarette butts, empty Crisps packets, dirty paper towels, and rubbish piled in corner bins that don’t get emptied.”

New developments in Pimlico – what you say

“I am concerned about the level of concentrated residential development in the area of Page Street, particularly the redevelopment of former Government buildings including Great Minster, Abell and Clelland, and the Horseferry Rd courts redevelopment. It is evident these developments are aimed at high end residential buyers, however Westminster City Council do not appear to be committing to any new community based facilities in this area to promote community cohesion and support the existing residents.”

Car emissions – what you say

“Can I endorse the London wide problem of leaving engines running while waiting? I know it would be difficult to enforce a bye-law, but it is a serious environmental problem, particularly if parked alongside homes and heavily walked pavements. A bye-law and public pressure, possible Warden enforcement, would soon change this culture.”

What you say

“I agree with the residents’ congratulatory comments at the end of your newsletter. It feels as though you are really getting down to deal at the level of residents’ really personal concerns.”

“Your detailed reports on residential problems and answers in Westminster are first-class and very helpful. More strength to your elbow.”

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

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – April 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Dear Resident,

Westminster’s 12 Labour Councillors, along with GLA member Murad Qureshi, take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month local residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com

You can also read this report at https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/westminster-south-action-reports/

Marylebone High Street Ward by-election – 2nd May

Introducing Nik Slingsby, your local Labour candidate

“I feel very much a part of this community as I grew up and went to school in Marylebone, playing as a child in Paddington Street Gardens. I learnt to read by borrowing the Roald Dahl books from the library on Marylebone Road and then used to study for my A levels on its old wooden desks.

I went on to do a degree in Mandarin Chinese with Economics at the University of London and then trained as a lawyer specialising in toy and product safety. I’ve been fortunate to help out with the running of a soup kitchen and night shelter and give pro-bono legal advice to those that visit. I live in Harrowby Street and am the Chair of the Westminster South Constituency Labour Party and its West End Branch.

For far too long, this beautiful part of the wealthiest city in Europe has been managed incompetently by the Conservatives. Please use your vote to object to this mismanagement which has led to the continual downsizing of our libraries and open spaces, the closure of police and fire stations and the reduction of local community services”

If you would like to help Nik Slingsby’s campaign you can email pdimoldenberg@hotmail.co.uk

You can read about the local issues Nik has been taking up at https://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/marylebone-high-street-by-election/

Marylebone Library

Residents continue to raise their concerns at the Council proposal for a replacement basement Marylebone library on the play are in Luxborough Street;

“The proposed scheme removes at least one third of our estate and 6 large mature trees. The play area is relegated to a site which the police are unable to supervise and have advised will be a focus of antisocial activity and there is no green space left to replace the trees as the Council is promising. When is the story of the council’s incompetence in failing to reserve space on the Chiltern St garage site, where it could be easily accommodated, and probably sooner than on Luxborough Street and refusing to listen to public opinion when hundreds expressed their preference for Moxon Street as a site nearly two years ago?”

Marylebone Police Station closure

We have made strong protests at the Mayor’s decision to close Marylebone police station and those at Harrow Road and St John’s Wood despite overwhelming community representations. Front counters at Paddington Green will also stop running a 24-hour service and will only be open 40 hours a week.

Paddington Street toilets

We have called on Westminster Council to ‘get tough’ and to redouble its efforts to reopen the public toilets in Paddington Street, Broadwick Street and elsewhere which have been closed by the Council’s contractor, Carlisle, following a contract dispute with the Council.

It is intolerable that many of Westminster’s toilets have been closed for weeks as part of a contract dispute between the Council and the Carlisle Group. The Council needs to get tough with its contractor to ensure that it delivers this basic service. The Council promised that privatisation would lead to a better and cheaper service. Yet all we have had are closed and filthy toilets, padlocked to stop residents, visitors, shoppers and cab drivers from using them. It is a complete shambles and the Council should apologise for the breakdown of this service and get it working without further delay.

Chiltern Street/Blandford Street

We have raised this issue with the Council;

“Can we get the council to properly examine the mushrooming of licensed premises in Chiltern Street and Blandford Street? At the moment every application is heard on a case by case basis and there is no overall strategy: meaning that we are in danger of being swamped by bars and pubs in a residential area. There are currently four within 50 yards of my front door in Chiltern Street with at least two more applications pending.”

Langham Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the following matter;

“I live in Langham Street, and have written, without success, to the hotel opposite to turn off their floodlighting at night. Offices at the back have their lights on all night. All over Westminster, we are wasting energy, polluting the planet, and preventing a view of the stars!”

New Cavendish Street

We have reported the following problem to the Council;

“Since Tesco opposite her opened in November, goods are delivered at 3 a.m., very noisily – thrown down – and they wake residents up, even on Sundays. Can anything be done?”

Devonshire Street/Portland Place

We have asked the Council and TfL to consider the following request;

“I would like to request that a new pedestrian crossing be added to the junction of Devonshire Street and Portland Place, westside. i.e. a green man light activated crossing. So you can travel north to south using a light controlled crossing. There is already pedestrian crossing across Portland Place east to west. I walk my children to Queens Prep School from Park Crescent eastside at the top of Portland Place, and you cannot cross to get to school without running across an uncontrolled intersection. This is very dangerous, especially as there are at least three schools in the area. It is an accident waiting to happen.”

Harley Street medical waste dumping

Following an ‘Evening Standard’ article on “medical waste including syringes, blood-filled tubes and pig snouts being dumped on the pavement by Harley Street firms’, we have called on Westminster Council to take tough action against any further similar incidents. We have also called on all medical establishments in the Harley Street and Wimpole Street area to be extra careful to ensure that all medical waste is disposed of in the proper manner.

Royal Mail West End Enquiry Office

The new Royal Mail West End enquiry office will open on 15th April at 101 New Cavendish Street, W1W 6EA. The entrance is in Hanson Street and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 7am – 7pm; Wednesday 7am – 8pm; and Saturday 7am – 2.00pm. The office serves customers in the W1 postcode area. The existing enquiry office at Rathbone Place will close on Monday 15 April 2013.

Harewood Avenue – Taxis

Following our enquiry about the taxi situation in Harewood Avenue the Council has told us;

“The City Council’s service provider, West One, are currently undertaking a feasibility study to improve road safety for all road users in the section of Harewood Avenue outside Marylebone Station. This study is reviewing kerbside parking, the taxi ranking arrangements and the possible provision of pedestrian crossing facilities.”

South Molton Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the following issue;

“I walk down this street every day on my way to work. It really hurts to see the damage that has been done to it within less than three months from its revamp. It is one of the most visited streets of Central London in the City of Westminster, not only by Londoners but also by tourists. It is shameful that it is so badly managed. Nobody seems to care about it.”

Dolphin Square

We have asked the Council to make further investigations after receiving this enquiry;

“Have you heard any more about the seemingly large numbers of flats in Dolphin Square, in houses other than Dolphin House, which are being let on short lets? I have lived there for quite a long time & our residential (long-let) corridors now have various trollies containing dirty laundry, as well as trollies with clean & dirty towels, soaps, shampoos, toilet paper, shampoos etc., in many of the residential corridors. It’s unsightly & noisy and I feel like I’m living in a hotel now. There are a lot more people with suitcases coming & going. I live on the ground floor so it is a great deal more noticeable as the people & trollies go in & out of the lifts opposite my flat.”

Carlisle Place

We are making investigations after receiving the following enquiry;

“I noticed at the weekend that the large pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Carlisle Place to Cardinal Place is no longer in use. Is this a temporary measure, rather than permanent? I do hope so as it is a very useful crossing both for the office workers and residents”

Abbotts Manor Estate

We are supporting residents who have raised concerns about the quality of the management of their estate by City West Homes, following which we received the following message;

“I want to thank you properly for your kind help on the issue of unwelcome intervention of CWH in our residents association which has resulted in the local offices in becoming considerably more active in addressing the many issues raised.”

Dufours Place

Following our enquiry, City West Homes has told us;

“New planting has recently been installed at the front of Dufours Place which has made a huge difference and we are keen to ensure that this area is kept clear at all times. We have advised the estate office that if they find bicycles on any of the railings that they are removed as soon as possible. In addition, we will also look into procuring some clear signage to deter people from using the railings.”

Granville Place, W1

We have asked the following problem to be investigated;

“I am a disabled driver and when visiting Oxford Street, I often try to find a parking space in one of the disabled spaces in Granville Place, which runs opposite the side entrance of Selfridges, just behind M & S, Oxford Street, and parallel to it. However, very often these disabled spaces are taken up by chauffeurs waiting for people who are shopping in M & S or Selfridges, opposite or perhaps in Oxford Street, but in any event spaces occupied by drivers, usually chauffeurs, who have no disabled badges. Can the traffic attendants give this some attention, and particularly on Saturdays?”

Westminster Foodbank

There is currently a Foodbank at Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6BS – 0207 834 1731. It is open on Mondays from 2pm-4pm and Thursdays from 11am-1pm.

In order to receive food the person must be referred with a voucher by an organisation which is authorised to issue the vouchers such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Westminster Society, City West Homes, Mind.

Any individual, couple or family resident in Westminster who cannot afford food and have access to cooking facilities is eligible for 3 days’ worth of emergency non-perishable food.

Police warning

A particular type of fraud targeting elderly people is on the increase across London. The average age of the victim is 70 years old.

The Method

• The method varies but essentially involves a victim being telephoned (cold -called) by a suspect who alleges to be someone of authority (eg, from the police, bank, Serious Fraud Office). The suspect tells the victim there is a problem with their bank account (like it has been compromised) and that their bank card must be collected.
• If the victim is unconvinced that the call is genuine they are instructed to hang up and call a genuine number – such as 999 or the telephone number on the rear of their bank card. However, the suspect keeps the telephone line open and so the call goes straight back to the fraudster who then deals with any subsequent call, convincing the victim of their authenticity.
• The victim is then content to reveal their bank details, namely the PIN.
• An often unwitting courier or taxi driver is sent to collect the victim’s card. The card is delivered to a second suspect, who then passes it on to the fraudster. The fraudster then empties the bank account.

Key Messages

To potential victims, family, friends – Never give anyone your PIN or bank card – the police and banks will never ask for them.

To cabbies/couriers – Beware of collecting and delivering packages from elderly people as you may be assisting in a criminal offence.

Reporting offences: If you have been a victim call the police on 101 or in an emergency by dialling 999.

Electric charging points in Marylebone – what you say

“I did request an access to the charge point at Montagu Mansions and was asked to supply my full address. I did do this and the “pod point” card duly arrived but on trying to use it, I discovered that it didn’t work. On further investigation I have learnt that Westminster is standing alone by using Electromotive as the supplier of charge points and they are completely different to those used in the rest of the country. I thought that I could join this bunch anyway although the cost is £75/year but on reading the terms there is a stipulation that the car has to be 100% electric, in other words hybrid owners will not be welcome. I have a Toyota Prius plug-in which is a hybrid and therefore I am not wanted. Naturally I think Westminster’s narrow policy is wrong”

Luxborough Street – what you say

“I live on Luxborough St. and dread the future plans they have in store for our street! I hear the drilling on Chiltern St., so it will be much worse for us on Luxborough St. Moxon St. would have been so much better. Now our lovely Marylebone area will be so over-built & the Park reduced to a cold shadow! “

Marshall Street rubbish dumping – what you say

“I would particularly like to endorse the comments regarding the dumping of rubbish in Marshall Street. My own flat overlooks the pavement on the West Side of the street where, as is correctly stated, really huge quantities of bulging bags are dumped. In a small street containing locations where people go to sit and have a coffee or to eat, it’s completely unacceptable, as well as being unhygienic and unsightly”

“As your correspondent in Marshall St says they leave a lot behind strewn across the street and only pick up the minimum. Residents have to endure many times more disturbance and traffic with all these extra dustcarts driving around at all hours. The problem is not as bad in Marylebone as Soho, but it is still a problem, particularly where restaurants and bars with food waste are involved.”

Taxis – running engines – what you say

“This is a real problem across the borough, and not just restricted to black cabs. Mincabs, coaches, delivery drivers and private motorists all do this sometimes for an hour at a time while waiting, texting, reading, eating etc. It seems insane when we are trying to cut emissions and fuel is so expensive as well. Some initiative is required to raise awareness of this issue and put an end to this thoughtless and wasteful behaviour. Of course, if they were all in electric vehicles this would not be a problem!”

What you say

“Many thanks for all your excellent reports and all the work you do on our behalf”

“Thank you so much for your, as always, packed newsletter, full of issues which the grandees of Westminster Council are so happy to ignore. Thank goodness for your unfailing energy in tackling problems on behalf of residents.”

“Thank you again for sending this very informative and helpful round up of matters of concern in and around Pimlico/Westminster”
“Many thanks for the helpful update”

“Thank you for your reports – very instructive, and accessible too.”

“Thanks for all the information; it is always appreciated.”

“Keep up the good work!”

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

Regards
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council

You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com
You can follow Paul Dimoldenberg on Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/pdimoldenberg

Promoted by Paul Dimoldenberg at 44 Manor House, Marylebone Road, NW1 5NP on behalf of Nik Slingsby 1 Harrowby Court, Harrowby Street, W1H 5FA

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – February 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Dear Resident,

Westminster’s 12 Labour Councillors, along with GLA member Murad Qureshi, take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month local residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com

Harewood Avenue – Taxis

We have asked the Council to again investigate the taxi rank in Harewood Avenue after receiving the following enquiry;

“I want to bring to your notice the increasing number of taxis that sit on Harewood Avenue with their engines running. These are not in the space provided for them, which is usually full, but on the main road which runs alongside Blandford Estate. They make a line of vehicles often 15 taxis long, stretching back to Rossmore Road. You can imagine the noise and the pollution suffered by residents living close to the road. This is also a major hazard for cars exiting from the estate, as it is impossible to see beyond the taxis to avoid traffic running both north and south: this is an accident waiting to happen, and I pray that it won’t involve me. Sometimes the taxi drivers help by signalling for me; all too often they are buried in their newspapers and take no notice of the motorist edging nervously out on to the avenue.  We have brought this matter up time and time again, but with no success, although we have been promised numerous times that officials will be warning the taxi drivers to cease this practice. Meanwhile, we go on enduring a real nuisance which affects health and safety.”

Churchill Gardens stabbing – what you say

“A sad reminder  – the concerns of the local residents and the response from City West Homes – we now have an unfortunate fatality. What has happened to the Police Presence we had on the estate, at least they were eyes and ears around the area, maybe would not have been able to prevent the situation but would at least have been there. “

“The dreadful event this weekend is a manifest of a complete breakdown of ‘our’ society in the broadest sense and in ‘Churchill Ward’ and others as part of Westminster City Council’s jurisdiction. That such ‘gang’ actions should occur at all is appalling; that it should be around Churchill Gardens Estate is unforgivable. It is not as though the authorities of Estate Management, Councillors, and the Police have not for some time been alerted by the concerns of local residents reporting that serious ‘misbehaviours’ have been taking place; and considered mainly by some non-residents seeking their own anonymity in the buildings and landscape of the estate. The authorities in the broadest sense must be held accountable in failing immediately and directly to address the specific issues of drugs and gangs”

24 Bus Stop on Lupus Street

Following enquiries, Transport for London say;

Unfortunately the bus stop near Tesco’s in Lupus Street has had to be temporarily withdrawn following a recent road traffic collision on account of safety issues. We are currently awaiting works by Westminster City Council to make the area safe again so that the stop can be reinstated. We have been advised by the Council that the work should be completed by the end of March 2013. In the meantime, we have no option but to ask passengers to make use of alternative nearby facilities. We apologise to customers for the inconvenience and we thank passengers for their patience during this time. “

Residents say;

“I agree that the No 24 Bus Stop is MOST important near Tescos.  As you say, it’s quite difficult for elderly people to walk from the other stops.  Thank you for bringing it up”

Millbank Bus Stop – southbound

We have asked the Council to liaise with TfL after receiving the following enquiry;

“This bus stop has to be moved as part of the Two Towers development on the
old Government Office for London site. Trying to have sensible conversation with TfL but getting bogged down in their idiotic bureaucracy. Would be great if in moving it could be fitted with a screen showing when next bus due (ditto on the Aldwych-bound side of the road”

Electric Car charging points in Marylebone

We asked the Council for information about on-street charging points in the Marylebone area after receiving the following enquiry;

“I have an electric vehicle (EV) which I have tried to charge up in Marylebone. Although the view of the mayor and most others is that these vehicles should be encouraged it is NOT practical to charge them. The only charging points are within car parks and so one has to pay £7/hour or something of that sort to charge up! Fortunately my car is a hybrid so I can run on petrol.”

The Council tells us;

“There is only one charging post on-street in the Marylebone area. This is located at 9 Montagu Mansions,  W1U 6LB. Colleagues in the City Planning Team have advised that we should be able to accommodate requests for more posts in this area. Any requests can be submitted to cquellennecreid@westminster.gov.uk.”

International House, Chiltern Street/Paddington Street

We asked the Council for a briefing after receiving the following enquiry;

“Further to a recent hand delivered letter from the developers who are now proposing complete demolition rather than alteration (as per planning permission), can we residents of Chiltern Street take any more noisy demolition works?  The Fire Station and Car park works are still on-going!! Would they have received planning permission if complete demolition had have been originally proposed?”

The Council has told us;

Planning permission has been granted for changes to the existing building – replacement of the cladding and extensions at roof level. The developers have now proposed total demolition and redevelopment of this building.  The proposed new building will be based closely on the approved design. They have not submitted an application for planning permission for this new scheme yet.  Officers have advised that this is unlikely to receive support, as we consider that, if the existing building is to be demolished, it should be replaced by a lower one which relates better to its surroundings.”    

York Street

We reported an abandoned vehicle in York Street after receiving information from a local resident. We have been informed;

“NSL have confirmed that the vehicle has a broken side window and appears to have been abandoned, they have reported it to the abandoned vehicles section, who will deal with it.”

Marshall Street

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problems reported to us by a resident;

“For the last 6 months or so, all the commercial premises on the Carnaby Estate have been dumping their rubbish in Marshall Street on a stretch of about 150 meters directly opposite The Masala Zone. This is done by individuals and by organised waste collectors from the Carnaby Estate, using large dumpsters. It is thrown out all over the pavement. Early on garbage would appear steadily from about 4.30 pm and be picked up about 6.30pm by WCC’s rubbish collection vehicles, which was bad enough.

However, in the last few months rubbish bags and recycling have appeared at all times of day and that stretch of pavement is now often impassable by 5.00 – and wheelchair users and parent with prams and toddlers could not use it.  Very few of the bags and recycling are picked up by WCC’s collectors with a range of other private collectors picking up at all times of the night. 

The result is that the pavement is unusable for a large part of the day and it is hazardous to try to walk along it.  Residents are disturbed by various collectors at all times of the night, causing pollution and noise.  Competing waste collectors leave remnants of the garbage all over the pavement and the road – so much so that the pavement is now badly stained – and it is a health hazard. The road is also often blocked due to various waste collection vehicles trying to get at the rubbish at the same time – causing significant congestion.”

Trenchard House, Broadwick Street

Barratt London and Unite House have been selected to redevelop Trenchard House in Soho. The redevelopment of the former hostel for unmarried police officers involves the demolition of the existing building and a new ten storey residential block in its place.  It will comprise 65 affordable flats with a retail element on the ground floor. Dolphin Square Foundation is the affordable housing partner on the scheme.

Dean Street – what you say

“There simply is not enough suitable space for legitimate deliveries to commercial operators in Dean Street and every day I see tickets being given to vans who cannot find spaces to deliver essentials for my commercial neighbours. I think this is quite unfair and places an undue cost burden on our local businesses who provide our employment base. I have also noticed that since the Olympics there has been an increase in early am deliveries which causes noise problems for residents. There are also numerous private waste disposal lorries collecting over-night and recently parking on the new paving installed at some cost in Dean Street. I think it’s time the City Council established a proper delivery regime for all these matters rather than the current free for all.”

Plans to close Greycoat Fire Station – what you say

“I have signed your petition against the closure of the Westminster Fire Station.  I cannot believe so many stations in central London are up for closure especially my local one on Greycoat Place.  It beggars belief!”

Bus stops on Westbourne Terrace – what you say

“After a year of complaining to Westminster Council and Crossrail/Carillion that the nearest bus stop was Gloucester Terrace or Praed Street on the westbound bus journeys, I hope closer bus stops will appear on Westbourne Terrace to service the thousands of residents and workers of Sheldon Square.”

“Agree about the lack of Westbourne Terrace bus stops. The wait for the pedestrian lights at Westbourne Terrace and Bishops Bridge Road junction is still far too long for the very few pedestrians crossing  Also buses turning right at Westbourne Terrace into Bishops Bridge Road block those turning left who often take “three bites at the cherry” to turn left.  A tail back therefore ensues. No one seems to have any common sense”

“I am glad to see the issue of the bus stops in Westbourne Terrace is again being highlighted. I mentioned this last summer when I contacted you about the traffic light situation.  I do hope two new bus stops can be put there and look forward to any further updates.”

“Regarding possible extra bus stops in Westbourne Terrace, extra stops do already exist on the western side of the road but are covered up with ‘Bus Stop not in use’ labels. So if TfL had the will it would take only 10 minutes work removing the labels for buses to be able to stop there. I agree that something should have been done sooner as TfL have obviously been aware from the start that the Crossrail works are due to last two years at least. What with the earlier shunting around of the stop normally outside the Circle Line station in Praed Street this has been one long example of TfL’s lack of grip.”

Pavement cyclists – what you say

“When is something going to be done about the dangerous pavement cyclists on Bishops Bridge Road and Westbourne Grove? I witnessed a cyclist mugging a pedestrian last year and many parents with children being almost knocked down by speeding pavement cyclists on the Bishops Bridge and Westbourne Grove where the pavement is at its narrowest.”

Luxborough Street play area – what you say

“I would like to add my concern to that of other residents on the proposed development of the play area in Luxborough Street, what with the redevelopment of the Chilton Street car park the proposed development of 66, Chiltern Street into residential apartments plus the possibility of adding a further 6 floors which will put Paddington Gardens into permanent shade when we do get some sun light. We need more open spaces not less. Add to this the planning application that is now in place for 35, Marylebone High Street this whole area will be so over developed, crowded and spoilt for ever.”

Taxis – what you say

“Taxi drivers needing to urinate (and people do of course need to, sometimes urgently) can quickly drive to the Horseferry Road/Regency Street junction, where cabbies in particular are provided with 2 (yes, two!) public facilities, one hi-tech, the other a wonderfully primitive pissoir (and may it live long)”

“Taxis at Victoria queuing with their engines running is a problem. This area has one of the highest pollutions in the country according to a recent press report. One solution is to demand stop and start engines for all new taxis as we have on some of the buses. This is available and the on cost should be covered by fuel saving. This would make a huge difference to all the residents of the area”

Council proposal to axe the entire Arts and Culture budget

We have started an on line petition calling on the Council to reject the proposal to axe the entire Arts and Culture budget;

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

The current programme is designed to give the most vulnerable residents of Westminster – the young, those with disabilities and the elderly – an opportunity to improve their lives through the arts and through culture. The whole city will be poorer through the loss of these innovative projects. The cut of £350,000 represents 0.4% of the Council’s spending. It is madness for the Council to reduce community access to Westminster’s wonderful array of world-class arts and culture. If anything, we should be making more of these magnificent cultural facilities and arts organisations on our doorstep, rather than reducing access to them for children, young people and the elderly.

What you say

“I would like to thank you for your newsletter, I feel this it really gives residents a very clear picture of the issues and concerns being raised in Westminster.”

“Thank you for the Action Report – really useful and informative.”

“Thanks for your report – I always find it helpful and informative”

“Many thanks for your thorough & detailed update.”  

“First time I have received this – very useful”

“Thanks so much – it is good to know what is being done”

“Thank you for your great coverage”

“Thank you – a useful update as to what is going on”

“I’m very happy to receive your news updates and thanks for all your hard work on issues in the area”

“Thank you very much for your effective action in our council”

“Thank you for this information. It is good to know”

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

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Leader of the Labour Group

Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – January 2013

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Dear Resident,

Westminster’s 12 Labour Councillors, along with GLA member Murad Qureshi, take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month local residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com

Churchill Gardens

We have been contacted by residents of Keats and Shelley Houses about anti-social behaviour from the nearby youth club ;

“Youths wandering and loitering in the buildings, smoking drugs and so on (I’ve personally witnessed this on more than one occasion and following a call to the police I was told it was not something I should be troubling them with!).  Noise in the evenings within residential blocks when people are looking to relax will get much worse if the activities are increased. I could go on, but generally the residents are unhappy with these developments”

We have also reported problems with the lifts in Coleridge House. City West Homes say;

“Recently, the lift experienced some problems with the main fuses blowing intermittently and causing the processor to trip. Our lifts contractors did attend on two separate occasions but due to the intermittent nature of the problem they were unable to resolve within a reasonable time scale and I apologise. The majority of the most recent calls have concerned the landing doors and lock faults. A technician has travelled down the lift shaft and reset all landing doors and locked as a required. In addition, the car door has been vandalised on several occasions which has also led to lift being out of use and the estate office have been made aware of this.”

St Ann’s Lane – Lighting

We are investigating the problem with defective street lights after receiving the following enquiry from St Matthew’s Westminster primary school on the corner of Old Pye Street and St Ann’s Lane, SW1, off Great Peter Street.

“There are four lights in St Ann’s Lane – those nearest Old Pye St and Great Peter Street are working but the two in the centre are not. These lights are by the school gates. Pupils attending after school clubs and activities are now coming out in the dark, from 4.30 onwards, and are not always accompanied by an adult. One of the entrances to the St Andrew’s Club is also in the Lane, next to one of these unlit lights.”

The Council says;

“UKPN faults team have been on site all weekend and remain on site currently there has been a complete failure of the service cable which is beyond standard repair. UNKP are replacing the entire cable along the length of the St Ann’s Lane which is expected to be completed Wednesday or Thursday. The School have been asked to use the doors at the front on Old Pye Street to reduce the risk to the children”

We were delighted to receive the following response;

“Many thanks – your interest in this problem certainly helped and the school now know the fault is being repaired”

Riverwalk House, Millbank

We supported residents who opposed the proposal to erect a marketing suite on the public open space adjacent to Riverwalk House which is to be redeveloped;

“The proposed build is on leasehold protected public open space.  There is very little green open space. Westminster are custodians for maintaining a significant open space which is home to a major piece of artwork – The ‘Locking Piece’ by Henry Moore which is on loan by the Tate Britain and Henry Moore foundation.  This garden is a much needed space for local residents, students from the University of Arts, visitors to the Tate Gallery and local office workers. As the custodian for this space, Westminster has a responsibility to protect this vital open space for its intended purpose.”

Following a campaign by local residents the Council said;

The application has now been refused under delegated powers (on the grounds of loss of open space and the impact on the adjacent conservation area).  We will ensure that everyone is fully consulted on any future application”.

Grosvenor Road/Lupus Street junction

We have made further enquiries to argue for the return of the pelican crossing issue on Grosvenor Road/Lupus Street junction.

St Georges and Eccleston Squares

Following the reports of taxi drivers urinating in St Georges and Eccleston Squares, Local Wardens have provided the following update and action plan.

“Generally the action plan will aim to educate those offenders about their unacceptable behaviour and then ensure compliance is achieved through a combination of that education and enforcement.

 With regards to St Georges Square:

  • Signs prohibiting street urination have been put up at the location.
  • Local business owners are also being affected by the issue and have agreed to supply details of offenders’ car registrations.

At Eccleston Square:

  • There is one side of the Square in particular which is being affected by this urination and again signage has been displayed.
  • Local Police will also include this as part of their late evening patrols.

Both areas will continue to be monitored and Local warden teams will deal robustly with this problem with support from the local police. We will review/audit the situation in 6 weeks to assess the effectiveness of the Action Plan.

Seymour Leisure Centre

Leisure Centre users have told us of their concern that the gym is being run down and we are making investigations;

“I received my Rescard booklet today. According to it, Seymour Leisure centre has no gym, only a ‘fitness suite with personal trainers.’ I would like an explanation of why, without any reference to members, and unlike Marshall Street and QM Leisure centre, all reference to a gym has been removed. It does mean, of course that no one will apply to come, and that the run-down of the gym and flight of its users has been deliberate.”

Luxborough Street Play Area

Residents continue to voice their opposition to the Council proposal to build on the play area;

“We are deeply worried about the development in the playground, and we are very keen to follow the process closely. Marylebone is very dense, and with Moxon Street and the car park in Paddington Street there are already enough on-going developments and building sites. It is becoming a very young area, full of kids, and they will need places where to play!”

Bus stops on Westbourne Terrace between Praed Street and Bishop’s Bridge Road

We are supporting residents who are concerned about the large gap in bus stops between Praed Street and Bishop’s Bridge Road due to the Crossrail works. Residents would like two new bus stops to be introduced on Westbourne Terrace (one in each direction) to better serve the local community and reduce the distance between stops.  The nearest stops are an unacceptable distance for people with difficulties in walking and the wider community. Residents are also unhappy that the situation had not been dealt with sooner and that stops were not introduced when the diversion was implemented.

Petition to keep Greycoat Place Fire Station open

Westminster residents and people working in Westminster can sign the on-line petition to keep the Westminster Fire Station in Greycoat Place open.

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to urge the Mayor to keep Westminster Fire Station in Greycoat Place open. Westminster is a densely populated part of central London; it is the seat of Government with tens of thousands of people working here requiring the highest standards of fire cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The proposal to close Greycoat Place Fire Station will reduce the local Fire Service’s capacity to respond as quickly and effectively as necessary to safeguard life, property and businesses.”

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

Proposed Police Station closures

You can tell the Mayor what you think about his plans to close three Westminster Police stations – Marylebone, Harrow Road and St John’s Wood Police Stations. There is consultation event for Westminster on;

Thursday January 31st, 5pm-6pm

At Salvation Army, Regent Hall, 275 Oxford St, W1C 2DJ

You have to register in advance here: http://www.london.gov.uk/webform/sign-attend-mopac-consultation-event

If you cannot attend the meeting you can fill out a questionnaire online before March 6 here http://www.smart-survey.co.uk/v.asp?i=67232epffs

London Mutual – a local bank account

London Mutual is a not-for-profit community based cooperative offering savings, loans and current accounts to anyone who lives or works in Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark. It doesn’t discriminate against people on benefits or in low paid jobs.

Their current account has an ATM and a Visa debit card for safety and convenience. There are various products available for everyone with reasonable rate of interest. For more information please call 020 7787 0770. You could open an account online via www.creditunion.co.uk

Westminster Community Awards 2013

Westminster Citizens Advice Bureau has launched the Westminster Community Awards 2013. There are eight categories of award recognising the contributions of community builders and volunteers from across sectors and age groups. Find out more about the categories and nominate at www.volunteer.co.uk/awards. These awards recognise and reward the work of individuals who give their time to improve the lives of others in Westminster.

Westminster Foodbank – 222 Adults and 109 Children fed over past year – Demand Continues to Grow

A year ago, Westminster Chapel launched Westminster’s first and only Foodbank, run in conjunction with national charity, The Trussell Trust. A year since its launch, demand for food packages is greater than ever, and more volunteers are being recruited and funds and donations given each week.

Over the past year, the list of voucher providers and referrers has increased significantly to 35 and 222 adult residents of Westminster and 109 children have been fed through the Foodbank; this is only expected to increase during the cold winter months and Christmas period. Over 50 volunteers have given time to the Foodbank since November 2011.

The Foodbank provides three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced food for Westminster residents who, for varying reasons, cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. Clients have included people out of work, those on low incomes, women escaping domestic violence with their children, ex-prisoners and ex-servicemen; a real variety of needs, proving that hunger is not just a problem for the developing world.

http://www.westminsterchapel.org.uk/blog/category/foodbank/

Balmoral Castle, Churchill Gardens – what you say

“If the Balmoral Castle cannot be converted into more social housing or sheltered accommodation it can be transformed into a new community centre for pensioners – a one-stop multi-purpose building with all the elderly services concentrated there.”

Bikes chained to railings – what you say 

“The issue I would like to highlight is the chaining of bicycles to railings and street furniture all over the borough’s narrow streets. I live in Upper John Street and I can never walk round the corner into Beak Street without having to squeeze by a least one bicycle either erect or lying at an awkward angle. I have never seen any action to remove them. Traffic wardens and police alike simply ignore them. The problem is getting worse all the time”

Taxi queues at Victoria Station – what you say

The problem of taxis queueing for fares at Victoria station and their waiting line which stretches back well into Pimlico sometimes as far as Warwick Way and Tachbrook Street.”

Dufours Place – what you say

“I too live in Dufours Place and the pedestrianised area isn’t only being used for parking – last week the police had to be called as a gang of youths were skateboarding and being generally loutish on the paving, which is directly outside the entrances to blocks of flats.  Many of us feel there isn’t sufficient lighting, and Dufours Place has been the focus of some very undesirable activity.”

Sirens – what you say

“I would endorse previous concerns about the use of sirens by emergency vehicles throughout the night along Vauxhall Bridge Road (and I don’t even live directly on the road). You can hear from the echo and the progress along the road that it must be pretty empty of traffic, as you might expect in the early hours. I can understand the desire to avoid collisions but the sirens do seem excessive at that time of night.”

What you say

“Keep up the good work.”

“Thank you for all your information.  It is much appreciated”

“Once again I congratulate you on your News Letter.”

“Your reports are a useful update on what’s happening in the local area and are appreciated.” 

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

Regards

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg

Leader of the Labour Group

Westminster City Council

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – November 2012

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Westminster’s 12 Labour Councillors, along with GLA member Murad Qureshi, take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month local residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues. You can read our latest news on http://www.labourwestminster.wordpress.com

Moxon Street

We have argued that new homes for low income residents and a new Marylebone Library should be essential components of the redeveloped Moxon Street site in Marylebone, as Westminster Council has invited bids to develop the site. The Council’s planning policies say that 35% of the new homes should be affordable homes and that they should be built on site. In addition, two thirds of residents who gave their views in the public consultation earlier this year on options for a new site for Marylebone Library chose the Moxon Street site in preference to the site in Luxborough Street. Of 154 written comments received, 105 supported Moxon Street; only 26 people supported the Luxborough Street option; 23 people either gave no view or preference.

The redevelopment of this Council owned property is an ideal opportunity for the Council to provide additional affordable homes on site for low income residents. Moxon Street is the ‘peoples’ choice’ for a new library. It is the best location for a new Library as it is just round the corner from Waitrose and less than a minute from the High Street. The Council should re-think its decision to build the new library in Luxborough Street.

Vauxhall Bridge Road

We have asked the Council to investigate the following problem;

“A permanent problem which is never resolved by the Council is the huge lake which forms in the gutter at the northbound bus stop on Vauxhall Bridge Rd close to the Rochester Row/ Warwick Way crossroads. There is a permanently blocked drain here. On a regular basis waiting bus passengers are drenched by the wave created by passing vehicles. Complaints to Transport for London are ignored.”

Balmoral Public House, Churchill Gardens

We have proposed that the long-empty Balmoral Castle public house, vacant since 2006, should be converted to new homes for older people. Situated very close to Darwin House, which provides supported housing for elderly people on the Churchill Gardens estate, we have asked that the Balmoral Castle be renovated to comprise one bedroom independent living units with alarm access to Darwin House. These new flats could then be offered to older Westminster Council tenants who currently occupy family-sized flats, who wish to move voluntarily to a smaller flat, thereby releasing these family sized properties for families on the Council’s waiting list.

We have posted a petition on the Council’s website to support our proposal http://petitions.westminster.gov.uk/Balmoralcastle/

St George’s Square

We have asked the Police and the Council to investigate the following problem reported by a number of residents;

Following on from the Eccleston Square urination issue report, could I add that exactly the same thing happens in the St Georges Square triangular extension on the north side of Lupus Street.  There is a short taxi rank there and cab drivers as well as other passers-by seem to think it is quite acceptable to urinate through the railings.  I live opposite the taxi rank and the smell is intolerable at times. What is worse, however, is the complete lack of shame or embarrassment on the part of the urinators if you happen to walk past, even with children.  If you say anything, it is met with a torrent of abuse. I have tried reporting it to the council several times over the years but have never seen any action taken and the problem has never improved.  I have lived in the street for 10 years so am hoping that you may finally be able to bring some pressure to bear on a department or on the police to take some action.”

We have a similar problem to Eccleston Square here in St George’s Square with respect to urinating black cab and minicab drivers. I take registration numbers and report them to the public carriage office, if I see them at it.”

‘Hotel lettings’

We are becoming increasingly concerned about the growing use of flats as ‘hotel lettings’ and have urged the Council to crack down on this illegal activity which not only harms the residential amenity for permanent residents but also reduces the amount of housing available. Here is a typical example;

“I live in a Westminster Council block, and a huge number of the flats have been sold off to lessees.  I and my co-residents’ representative have repeatedly raised the worry of the suspicious numbers of people arriving and leaving with quantities of cases after a matter of a few days’ stay, and I actually witnessed an incident which confirmed that a lessee was operating a hotel-type system of letting.  We have been nagging our Village Manager about this for over a year. We keep being told that lessees cannot be approached or their sub-tenants checked on unless there is cast iron proof of some breach of the regulations, and that therefore a real root and branch check on sub-tenants and the duration of their stays is impossible.  The cast iron proof which I reported has only resulted in the lessee concerned being somehow alerted – he was actually operating a hotel-type letting business but this operation appears to be currently suspended.  I suspect it will be resumed, since it has been going on for a very long time.  But the attitude of CityWest Homes seems to be worryingly “hands off”, in very many respects.”

Churchill Gardens

We recently organised a walkabout on the Churchill Gardens Estate and met many residents. We also took up a number of individual concerns on behalf of local residents. In particular, we have asked CityWest Homes to give the lifts in Coleridge House an inspection as they are slow and rickety.

Samaritan Hospital, Marylebone Road

Following a request from a resident, we asked the Planning Department if they know the latest situation on the future of the Samaritan Hospital site. The Planners say;

“No further information has come forward from St Mary’s, the major review of hospitals is still underway and this issue is part of that so I do not expect any news until next year.”

Pedicabs

We asked the police to investigate the following issue reported by a resident:

“They ghetto-blast music out all evening and very late at night when they are waiting for customers, often parked opposite Selfridges where the noise reflects from buildings, amplifying as it goes down the residential side streets and into residents’ homes. The uproar goes on, sometimes even at 2am or 3am, and sometimes they even come into the side streets at those hours.  There are responsible pedicabs ‘firms’, that do not allow sound systems on the pedicabs and have well-maintained, safe, pedicabs, and there are others.  The Westminster noise teams say they cannot take action as pedicabs are moving vehicles, not in their remit but the responsibility of the police. I have never seen police stop them.”

The police tell us;

“All through the summer, our West End SNT, in liaison with the Safer Transport teams has been taking action on pedicabs and, indeed, we’ve had a significant number of court cases and pedicab seizures (there are often seized pedicabs sitting in the yard at Charing Cross police station).”

Dufours Place

We have asked the Council to investigate the following enquiry;

“The newly pedestrianised area of Dufours Place is being used as a parking area in evenings & weekends despite signs saying no vehicles. Can you do anything about this? Bollards, better signs, traffic wardens turning up?

Empty Flats

We have started an on-line petition to enable residents to urge Westminster Council to take radical and urgent measures to get the 4,600 empty flats in Westminster back into use. The petition is at

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

London Mutual – a local bank account

Changes to benefit payments next year mean that everyone in receipt of the new Universal Credit payment will need to have a bank account.

London Mutual is a not-for-profit community based cooperative offering savings, loans and current accounts to anyone who lives or works in Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark. It doesn’t discriminate against people on benefits or in low paid jobs.

Their current account has an ATM and a Visa debit card for safety and convenience. There are various products available for everyone with reasonable rate of interest.

For more information please call 020 7787 0770. You could open an account online via www.creditunion.co.uk

 Soho – what you say

“Agree strongly about the car horn problem in Soho. Please ask the police to do 2 week crackdown with the law being enforced, fines and points and some publicity. We need to do something”

“I beg you to take up the cudgels with regard to the road works, road closures and above all universal pedestrianisation which is paralysing Soho and making life impossible for those, like me, who depend upon transport to get them to something as essential as a doctor’s appointment.”

Balmoral Castle Public House – what you say

“I am totally shocked by the amount of money spent on scaffolding the Balmoral Castle. Surely the council could have negotiated a better deal. The poles & fixings themselves could have been purchased many, many times over with the money spent.”

Pavement cycling – what you say

I noted the comments on cyclists on pavements, and I have to agree that over the last year the number of cyclists cycling on pavements, crossing on red lights, going across pedestrian crossing when the lights are against them and cycling the wrong way down one way streets has increased enormously. I find it quite dangerous to even walk along the public pedestrian footpath these days, as bikes appear to come from all directions.”

“I am not able to walk normally or quickly, and am terrified by the behaviour of cyclists, who use the pavements of Soho as cycle lanes.  I loathe and fear them, and am amazed that Boris bikes were ever installed without inference from Health and Safety officials, since nobody should use a cycle without a safety helmet. These cyclists endanger themselves and all the rest of us constantly, and yet receive constant endorsement and encouragement.”

What you say

“Many thanks for all the good work you do for our community. You take on issues other councillors can’t be bothered with.”

“Many thanks for this update which is really interesting”

“Thank you for your newsletter, it is always an interesting read!”

“Thank you for your newsletter which I always find very interesting and a useful source of information not readily available in other places.”

“Many thanks for this e-mail. Much appreciated”

“Thank you very much for your regular detailed account of various issues in Westminster and how they are dealt with.”

“Thank you for the on-going updates which are very helpful”

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

MARYLEBONE, PIMLICO, SOHO AND WEST END ACTION REPORT – October 2012

News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors

Dear Resident,

Westminster’s 12 Labour Councillors, along with GLA member Murad Qureshi, take up issues across Westminster on behalf of local residents. Over the last month local residents in Marylebone, Pimlico, Soho and the West End have raised issues with us and this is a summary of the action we have been taking, together with an update on a number of local issues.

Gloucester Place

We have asked the Council to investigate the following issue;

“I would be grateful if you could investigate pavement washing on Gloucester Place.  On the council’s website they announce this takes place on a Thursday.  I cannot remember the last time this was done along Gloucester Place. It does seem to happen (infrequently) on Baker Street, but certainly not on the daily basis the council’s website would suggest.  I think pavement washing is an important part of keeping these major routes clean, and would also help to keep significant dust levels down. The daily rubbish collection at footpath level is a great improvement, but the additional service of regular pavement washing would be beneficial to the overall levels of cleanliness on these busy streets, as would some strategically placed rubbish tins. “

The Council says;

There is currently no scheduled flushing on Gloucester Place in spite of the links given below. I have investigated the issue and it appears that Gloucester Place had not been updated correctly when Street Cleansing operations transferred to our new ‘ECHO’ computer system. The error has now been rectified, and I can confirm that scheduled flushing is also carried out on Baker Street three times a week (Tues, Thurs, & Sat). We will now conduct a thorough review to ensure that no more confusing messages about flushing frequencies appear on our website.

As with all public highway in Westminster, we will carry out reactive flushing if a report of anti-social deposits or a road traffic accident is raised. I can appreciate that Gloucester Place is a heavy traffic route, but scheduled footway flushing is necessarily reserved for those streets that have commercial frontages and experience heavy footfall, which tends to generate staining activity, such as Baker Street or Crawford Street in the same area.”

Berkeley Court, Marylebone Road

We asked the Council to clarify the situation aboutthe apparently permanent scaffolding fixed round the first floor of Berkeley Court after receiving the following enquiry;

“This has been there for some years and seems to have no present function. It detracts from the appearance of surrounding streets and the shops below it; the boarding and netting collect debris and the accumulations drip water onto those below for some time after every heavy rainfall. When external maintenance was done on the south (Marylebone Road) side of the building the first floor scaffolding was removed, but it remains on the east (Baker Street) and north (Melcombe Street) sides. Could the Council now pressure the freehold owners/management company to take down the rest?”

The Council told us;

“A ‘dangerous structure’ notice had been served on the premises on the 13.09.2011. The notice had been required as defective masonry had been falling from the building. I have visited the premises and after further discussions it would appear that a survey of the building revealed that the defects are more extensive than first envisaged and affects a number of elevations. The scaffolding had been dismantled in part during the Olympic period, however to complete the remedial works required the scaffolding above the retained fan will be erected to allow the works to be completed.”

Eccleston Square

We have asked the Police and the Council to investigate the following issue;

“We have a problem in Eccleston Square where l live, in so much that it is being used, by black cab drivers and drivers from Addison Lee as a urinating pit stop. This problem has been on-going and even reported to Belgravia Police who have not been able to deal with this issue. Is there anything that you could do? The stench of urine is very strong, especially in the warmer months. One sees these cabs, almost on a conveyor system, pulling over, even in broad daylight to urinate.”

The Council has told us;

“The Public Carriage Office has been contacted and have agreed to circulate a preventative message to their members warning them of planned enforcement.  Meanwhile, in addition to the request made by the borough commander for the police Safer Neighbourhood Team to patrol the area, Safer Transport’s Hub Team has been asked to include the area in their regular patrols, with a view to taking enforcement action as and when possible.”

Warwick Way

We have enquired about the following issue;

“I am wondering if you could explain the reason behind a greatly increased traffic flow along the Warwick Way .I have lived at the Ebury Bridge Rd end of the way for just over a year now and when I was first here there was a steady flow of mainly taxi’s using it as a rat run between Victoria and Westminster, but this year the volume of traffic has grown and grown to include all size and type of vehicle including all the emergency services which seem to be using it a lot more also .  I had expected a certain increase during the Olympics due to certain other routes being temporarily closed, but if anything its continuing to get worse. Is this purely because of the construction work along and around Victoria Street and the station or are there other reasons also?

Inspector Wes Verasammy of Mayfair & St James and West End & Chinatown Safer Neighbourhood Teams reports;

  • Mayfair & St James Good News: We held a cycle marking event held in St James Square in September. Approximately 40 bikes were security marked belonging to workers in the area.
  • Robbery reduction in hot spot area of Berkeley St. Offences peaked in May with 29, this has now fallen to 13 in August. The team have used several tactics and continue to work closely with local businesses such as casinos and clubs.
  • Residential burglary reduction. Offences peaked in May with 12, this has now fallen to 3 in August. Targeted patrols in the North Mayfair area. 4 arrests made over recent weeks, all charged with burglary. All victims continue to be visited by team and referrals made crime prevention advised if appropriate.
  • West End & Chinatown Good News – Op Trafalgar– the team are deployed as part of this operation to visibly deter and detect crime in the West End. This has helped achieve a reduction in overall crime compared to last year.
  • Licensing– the team work very closely with our night-time venues and give crime prevention training where needed. This joint-working has meant that some venues have managed to significantly reduce offences within their premises.
  • Drugs / ASB– we are witnessing fewer calls to the team regarding antisocial behaviour and noise in the area. Calls regarding drug misuse and dealing have also reduced, as assisted by us securing the closure of a makeshift ‘drugs den’ that had appeared in Chinatown. Working closely with the premises, this closure has positively impacted on the drug activity on the ward.
  • Pedicabs– Your team continue to lead the response to pedicab ASB. Highway offences have been dealt with on a regular basis and pedicabs seized where necessary. We have responded to complaints and the locations of Coventry Street and Cranbourn Street have been our focus. Although the offences may appear minor, the SN team take community complaints seriously and understand how the behaviour of some of these riders, can adversely affect people’s lives.

Balmoral Castle, Churchill Gardens

Westminster City Council has been spending over £20,000 a year on scaffolding since The Balmoral Castle, a derelict public house situated on the Churchill Gardens Estate in Pimlico, closed in 2006. The total bill to Council Tax payers is now over £120,000, not including VAT. The Council says;

 “The building has been empty since the lease to Watney Truman Limited expired in 2006. The building is derelict, has structural problems and is being supported by scaffolding at a cost to the Council of £20,400 per annum excluding VAT.”

In April 2010, the former Director of Housing announced;

“Residents should be assured that we want to resolve this situation and we will be working with them in the coming weeks.”

However, two years later, nothing has happened and the pub remains derelict and supported by scaffolding.

West End Commission

We have called on the independent West End Commission, set up by Westminster City Council following the West End Parking fiasco which led to the resignation of Council leader Colin Barrow, to keep the West End’s vibrant residential communities and businesses alive and have recommended a series of measures to create more affordable homes and thousands of apprenticeships for unemployed young people, together with more investment in vital public services.

In a submission to the West End Commission we say that the future of the West End depends on a number of key issues;

  • An increase in supply of new      homes available for existing families in housing need at prices they can      afford
  • An increase in job      opportunities for young people
  • The provision of high      quality public services– schools, health, transport, policing

Empty Flats

We have started an on-line petition to enable residents to urge Westminster Council to take radical and urgent measures to get the 4,600 empty flats in Westminster back into use. The petition is at

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

According to the Council’s records, there are 4,600 empty flats in Westminster, while homeless families are moved out of Westminster to Hemel Hempstead, Bletchley, Maidstone and Grays. We that the Council should follow the example of other councils by offering the owners of empty homes grants of up to £15,000 to renovate their properties, in exchange for allowing the properties to be temporarily used as social housing.

There are now 1,964 households in temporary accommodation, up from 1,749 in March 2011, and rising. Of these, over 450 families are in bed and breakfast accommodation. Currently, 95 families have been in B&B for over 6 weeks, in breach of the law and Government warnings.

Save Cork Street campaign

We are supporting the Save Cork Street campaign which is fighting proposed developments on both sides of Cork Street which would destroy Cork Street’s role as a centre for independent art dealers in London. The Save Cork Street campaign has an on line petition, see link below:

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/westminster-council-save-cork-street-a-british-art-institution-threatened-by-developers?utm_campaign=twitter_link&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

Pimlico Academy extension – what you say

“If only you could have done something about the extension of Pimlico Academy.  The area is monopolised by “children” morning lunchtime and evening.  Local transport is also made uncomfortable with children packing the buses for one stop, as they do not have to pay.”

Soho – what you say

“As residents of Soho we realise that living in such an area as this one has to accept a higher level of noise than that of most other areas – but it seems that drivers in the area between the hours of 2300 and 0800 feel that to use the horn on their vehicle is completely normal and the noise levels have greatly increased over the past year to so.  It is appreciated that to monitor the area throughout the night is probably impossible – but there could perhaps be an ‘clamp down’ on occasion between the hours of 1200 and 0400 especially when clubs and restaurants are turning out and the taxi brigade begin to get impatient when either trying to get a fare or deliver their fare in order to get another one.  It appears that there are usually uniformed and plain clothed patrols in the area at most times and if so perhaps they could be given extra powers (and encouragement!!) to stop and warn these drivers in the hope that a clamp down now and again might (just might) help to reduce the noise levels”

Farm Street – what you say

“The eastern end of Farm St has been like a permanent industrial site with the accompanying noise which starts very early notwithstanding time restrictions. An endless stream of deliveries and associated often huge equipment and cranes etc has made life very uncomfortable”

Police sirens – what you say

“Another location that seems to be plagued by blues and twos is Vauxhall Bridge Rd. Because it’s straight emergency vehicles like to speed down it but use audible warnings at all hours even when there is apparently little vehicular or pedestrian traffic”

Cycling on pavements – what you say

“There’s an increasing problem with bikes in Westminster – going through
red lights in Regent Street, not stopping at Zebra crossings, cycling in
pedestrian areas in Soho around Carnaby Street. I have almost been run over several times on Broadwick Street where bikes frequently ride on the pavement, I think heading for the parking zone.”

What you say

“Many thanks for your continued updates. They are always make for interesting reading and it is good to have a point of contact to help follow up local issues which affect residents.”

“Thank you for your very helpful newsletter. It is reassuring to know our concerns are being taken seriously and steps taken to rectify problem areas.”

“Thank you for these updates — always something interesting.”

“Thank you for your very informative letter for people living in Westminster”

“This is the first time that l’ve received this report and must say what a great idea it is.”

“Very interesting and useful as always”

“Many thanks for your newsletter updates.”

“Thank you for your online action reports concerning our area they are very useful”

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5 Responses to Westminster South Labour Action Reports

  1. Paul M says:

    I really do think your correspondent’s “fear and loathing” of cyclists is misplaced. While sadly there is an element of infringement by cyclists of things like footways, it is relatively insignificant. In fact, you are about 150 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on a footway by a car or other motor vehicle than you are by a bicycle.

    Westminster is the most toxic of the inner London boroughs for cycle-hostile streets. If cyclists ride the wrong way up your one-way streets it’s because you have virtually nil cycle contraflows – unlike the City of London which has introduced over 25 so far and plans to introduce another 33 this year. Your main thoroughfares (Strand, for example, or Picadilly, Oxford St, Pall Mall) are all extremely nasty places to be on a bicycle, largely by design – the carriageway narrowing and central medians make traffic lanes so narrow that any overtaking by vehicles is highly dangerous. Cyclists could so easily make use of quiet side streets, as they do in the City, but to do so legally would require a quite dizzying amount of zig-zag back and forth to find streets flowing in the desired direction.

    Sadly, you are no better than the Tories when it comes to supporting the unfetterd rights of the wealthy to park when and where they like, free of charge – perhaps you are un-nerved by the vicious Evening Standard campaign, but bearing in mind that over half of the households in your borough have no access to a car (compared with about 25% nationwide) I woudl have thought you woudl be more attentive to your constituents’ freedom to travel around the borough on a means of transport they can actually afford – the bicycle.

  2. Susan says:

    Magnificent. Certainly.

  3. Harvey says:

    The elderly residents I know living in the Bishops Bridge/Westbourne Terrace area live in fear of pavement cyclists and the problem is indeed, very serious. No one will do anything and as seen above the cyclists only think of themselves, they seem to believe they have a right to turn our pavements in personal race tracks because they are too cowardly to use the roads. I have had my wrist broken, a neighbour was knocked to the ground, my daughter is regularly screamed at for daring to use a pushchair along the pavement by cyclists who think they have a right to be there.
    The reason the figures for collisions are so low, is that no one can report it – the cyclist is gone before you can even haul yourself back up. There is no means to identify them. I haven’t left my home in Porchester Square once this year without encountering a speeding cyclist using our pavement as a rat run, often many time a day. The loudmouths in lycra don’t seem to realise that if they want to use our pavements they have a simple choice – DISMOUNT and push until they have the courage to get back on the road where they belong. So many residents are fed up and worried by the huge, dangerous increase in pavement cyclists – but this problem is always ignored in favour of pandering to cyclists. Pavements are for pedestrians. When are the police going to take notice?

  4. Jean says:

    I have never seen these reports before, but got an email update this morning, and have subscribed. Great community information.
    Regarding the crossing on Pimlico Road. I do not understand the need for this, as there is a crossing right outside the school, which is only about 30 metres from where the proposed crossing is going to go, and there is another on the corner of Pimlico Road and Passmore Street

  5. mary dejevsky says:

    re: 75 page street
    i think you had a query from someone about the development at 75 page street, sw1. i have had some exchanges with the council planning dept about this, too, though not about the windows or design.
    the missing restaurant: all the planning applications have included provision for a restaurant at ground and basement level to replace the pub that was there. this was a condition of granting planning permission and a reason why i wrote in support. as the building neared completion, there seemed to be no evidence of any restaurant, so i asked someone who was working on it, and he said there would be no restaurant, only a gym for residents.
    after i told the council, via our councillor, they sent a notice, and the company submitted a plan for change of use – which i have objected to. it would appear that they intended to get away with absorbing into the building something that should have been a public amenity, and hoped no one would notice. i don’t know what the upshot it.
    something else, that i haven’t said to the council is that it appears to be being used as a sort of airb&b establishment, with people coming and going with suitcases. there is a rubbish area, with bins, that fronts on to marsham street and is often open (i may be wrong, but i think the plans stipulated that the rubbish area was to be at the back). there is also some very trashy signage, which is not exactly suited to the neighbourhood.
    i live at Westminster gardens, which is opposite.

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