Ward funding for Air-Quality-Mapping Project
Given all the recent alarm about the dangers of diesel pollution, it’s no surprise that our Residents put air quality at the top of their concerns. Let us note, though, that we’ve already seen some improvements through the range of measures introduced over the last three years by Councillor Heather Acton (till February our Cabinet Member for Sustainability), with innovative schemes and active investment from our local Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) and the Great Estates (de Walden, Portman, Grosvenor). This Westminster-wide project to clean up the air we breathe was boosted last July, when the Marylebone LEN won £1m funding from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund.
Meanwhile, your Bryanston and Dorset Square Councillors have secured funding for a scientific survey of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) levels in our Ward.
£5,000 has been allocated to a two-year project managed by Sheila d’Souza, working with the North Marylebone Traffic Group (NMTG). Early this year, local volunteers from the St. Marylebone Society (SMS) and the Harrowby and District Residents Association (HDRA) installed diffusion-tubes at designated points around the Ward. Those tubes are now being collected, and new tubes installed. The results will be analysed by a team at Imperial College, University of London, and we shall publish them later this year.
Chiltern Railways: New 24-hour Noise Complaints Line - 07585 986964
Councillor Julia Alexander and local representatives met Chiltern Railways Directors again on 31st January 2017. We reviewed progress on limiting diesel and noise emissions, of which more below. The important item to highlight is Chiltern’s 24-hour-manned Noise Complaints telephone line: 07585 986 964. Please call the Noise Complaints Line in real time when the noise is causing a nuisance, so that the Station staff can identify it at source.
Chiltern Directors are aware of sudden high noise levels, especially late at night, when untrained staff make live announcements, shouting into the microphone. Chiltern have undertaken to train all personnel in appropriate use of the PA system; but they also need you to tell them when the noise is too loud. Please do call and complain, rather than fume!
Efforts to cut idling at the platform continue. Some idling is necessary, to charge up the trains’ air-systems, brakes, lights and doors, but all drivers and dispatchers are striving to get these down to the barest minimum.
Meanwhile, Chiltern’s parent company, Arriva, is testing fuel-additives and new fuels which – their sponsors claim – could replace diesel without any modification to the engines, and eliminate the burden of NOx and particulate emissions, which are our residents’ main concern. This would be an instant breakthrough that must not be blocked by concerns about cost.
Our next meeting with Chiltern Railways will be 25th April 2017.
The Marylebone Library
We are rightly proud of our Library provision in Westminster. At a time when most local authorities are cutting Library Services, we have committed to keeping all twelve of our Public Libraries open, along with our four famous, specialist libraries. For more information about our libraries click here.
Since the projected new Marylebone Library in Luxborough Street proved impossible on grounds of cost, Westminster Council has undertaken to provide a new, modern Library inside the Seymour Leisure Centre.
The Seymour Leisure Centre is a Grade Two Listed building, so we do not intend any material alterations to its external aspect. Nevertheless, there is substantial unused space in the building, including a neglected triangular courtyard, and a derelict flat. It is these areas that we propose to convert to a modern and spacious Library, offering a variety of services, including children’s library, study spaces with computer access, information-and-reference services, and books, all with qualified librarians in attendance. The conversion of unused space at the Seymour Leisure Centre will dovetail nicely with the £1.9 million upgrade to our Sports and Fitness facilities, due to take effect by autumn this year.
As Councillor Adnan Mohammed observed, ‘It’s hard to pin down what people want from “a library” these days, but it’s quite clear that a library is still an important community asset, most of all as an independent learning space for our children to explore.’