We are all aware of the continuing difficult period that is being experienced by everyone across Westminster. I want to assure you that your local councillors will continue to provide whatever support or advice is needed in the coming weeks.
Many of you are contacting us, often with offers of help, for which we are very grateful. If you need our assistance, or have concerns about a vulnerable neighbour or relative, then do get in touch by e-mailing Westminster Connects or by phoning the new dedicated number 020 7641 1222 from 9am to 6pm, seven days a week.
Helping those who have been living on the street
Many local people have asked us what we have been doing to help support rough sleepers away from the street and the answer is a significant amount: since the beginning of lockdown, we have housed 650 rough sleepers in accommodation inside and outside our City.
We have also been providing three meals a day, prepared by Unity Kitchen and our Westminster Connects volunteers, to those housed in our hotels and hostels. We’ve also been offering hygiene and clothing items along with well-being, emotional and health support, including help for tackling addiction. We have also found work for rough sleepers through our Westminster Employment Service and have started to help people into long-term accommodation.
While we continue to do everything we can to support people away from living on the streets, we have also been clear that we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour such as aggressive begging on the streets and are working closely with the police to address this.
Although we know people want to help, we would encourage everyone NOT to give money to those begging, but instead to refer the person to Streetlink, by calling 0300 500 0914. Streetlink will assess the person’s needs and offer appropriate support. Our hostels do not charge money, so money is not a requirement for accommodation.
If you do wish to make a financial contribution to help combat rough sleeping you can donate to Westminster’s Hidden Network project where funds are split equally across six homelessness charities working in the City.
Dedicated to keeping our City clean
We know how important street cleaning and waste collections are people living in Westminster. Most of us have little space to store waste, making frequent collections important.
With people spending more time at home, waste collections have become even more important during the crisis. We have, therefore, focused resources on maintaining a high level of service for residents. The frequency of waste collections has been maintained and, unlike many other councils, we have carried on with bulky waste collections. Residents have told us that they have really appreciated the quality of service.
As part of their commitment to the City, our waste contractor has just employed 13 previously unemployed Westminster residents, including one who was previously homeless.
The pandemic has brought a welcome focus on a broad range of key workers. Our waste collection team are amongst the many heroes who have played a role in keeping the city running over the past few months. The Council leader Rachael Robathan recently undertook a socially distanced visit to the team to thank them, on behalf of everyone in Westminster, for their hard work during the crisis.
Temporary Movement Strategy
The council has now started to implement the strategy to enable residents and those that work in the city to move around Westminster safely. Temporary barriers have already been installed to widen pavements in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Victoria. There are also additional cycling lanes that have been put in to help cyclists get around the city more easily. There has been significant engagement with many residents and businesses to ensure that the temporary measures that we have taken work for the local community.
We hope to see the return of many cafés, bars and restaurants from 4 July and we have been working intensively to make changes to our streets to allow as many as possible of these businesses to reopen. We will launch a significant number of proposals this week which will be implemented in time for the reopening of these businesses. These proposals will, for a strictly limited period, allow for more tables and chairs to be put on the highway or temporarily to close some streets at certain times to allow these businesses to open. This needs to be done in a way that is safe for pedestrians as well as for other businesses to operate in terms of getting their deliveries or their waste collected. Most importantly it needs to be acceptable to local people.
The strategy is being implemented in phases. All measures are designed to be temporary so that they can be easily adapted as circumstances change.
Supporting Our Local High Streets
Interactive "Shop Local" Map
Your Conservative Council has created a map of local shops and businesses either physically open or offering delivery, takeaway or e-commerce, here. The number of businesses is expanding: there are now over 300 businesses on the Shop Local map.
The map is aimed at helping residents to shop local and to support businesses in their area as part of efforts to support the recovery of Westminster’s economy.Businesses can put themselves forward to be added to the map by filling in the form here. We have also produced shop local bags and stickers that can be put in shop windows. If your business is interested in receiving these, please contact your local councillors on the email below.
Keep in Touch
Your local councillors are there to support everyone in the community and, by working together, we will get through this. Please don’t hesitate to contact us during this period. We will do all that we can to help you and your neighbours.
Cllr Rachael Robathan
020 7730 8181