St James's Matters March 2017

Events in local parks

Local residents and businesses were alarmed last autumn to receive notice of a planning application for a pop-up theatre holding 650 people in Victoria Embankment Gardens, which would have taken up a large area of the park for nine months.

The park is a much-loved green space with a beautiful location by the river and is used as an area for peaceful enjoyment by all those who live and work nearby. Westminster City Council Parks Department ensure that it is planted with beautiful floral displays throughout the year and it is a delightful place within our urban environment.

Your local councillors, Tim, Louise and Cameron supported the residents campaigning against the plans and, after successful lobbying, the application was withdrawn. 

The Council has now committed to develop a policy, in consultation with ward councillors and local people, to ensure that the size, location and duration of events within our parks and open spaces leave plenty of space and time free for their peaceful enjoyment by residents, businesses and our many visitors from all over the world.

'Spice' Update

As many will know, after months of lobbying from Westminster Conservatives, in January the Home Office agreed to designate the psychoactive drug known as "Spice" as Class B under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Residents, visitors and workers will have noticed the disastrous consequences of the large number of rough sleepers and beggars who were smoking the synthetic cannabinoid. What many will not know is that recently in the area between St Martin's in the Fields and the river, the drug caused the death of a young man and contributed to the death in a street fight of another man.

St James's Ward Councillor Tim Mitchell says that "since the change in the law, the local police together with Council officers and local Rough Sleeping charities have worked hard to disrupt the drug trade by stopping, searching and arresting individuals in possession of Spice. Whilst we cannot be complacent, we are pleased that this work has both led to a reduction in anti-social behaviour and also protected vulnerable individuals from harm."

Westminster Conservatives act to prevent rogue landlord from ruining tenants' lives

A rogue landlord has been banned from managing property in Westminster after being convicted of breaching the Housing Act at a rental flat in Bayswater.

The flat, in Gloucester Terrace, was found by Westminster Council inspectors to have flaws including no mains-connected fire alarm, a lack of fire-proofing in the lobby, an outdated fuse box and no fixed heating. Under the new Criminal Behavior Order the landlord is prohibited from managing any property in Westminster or Haringery – where she also owns property – for a decade.

​Councillor Antonia Cox, Hyde Park Ward Councillor and Westminster’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, explains: “This sends a clear message to all landlords that they have responsibilities to their tenants and that bad practice will not be tolerated in Westminster.”

The restrictions imposed on Ms Goremsandu are the first time a Criminal Behaviour Order has been issued against a housing offender in London, and only the second such case in Britain, since legislation allowing their use was passed in 2014. She was also fined £3,500 and told to pay £7,645 costs after her conviction.

Westminster's secondary schools in the top 50 for GCSE grade progress

Three Westminster secondary schools are among the top 50 schools for improved GCSE grades according to a new measure of progress used by the Department for Education.
Westminster’s Ark King Solomon Academy Paddington Academy and Westminster Academy all rank within the top 50 for Progress 8, which captures the GCSE grade progress of the pupil from the end of primary school to the end of secondary school compared to other students with similar prior achievements.

Councillor Richard Holloway, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Young People explains: "It is encouraging to see our schools playing such a leading role and helping young people in Westminster to reach their potential. I want to especially congratulate the pupils and teachers at King Solomon on ranking 5th nationwide. Our GCSE results are among the best in inner-London and we are very proud of all the young people, teachers, parents and countless others who combine to make our schools so successful."

Among local authorities in inner London, Westminster is ranked 3rd for Progress 8, while placing 2nd for average student grades (also known as Attainment 8). Nationwide, Westminster ranks 5th and 10th in the same respective categories.