St James's Matters October 2016

Tackling Rough Sleeping

Rough sleeping, begging and street drinking have been issues your local Councillors have grappled with for many years. With its central location and being home to so many iconic tourist attractions, St James's attracts often desperate people looking to raise cash to feed alcohol and drug addictions.

In recent months a new, very dangerous, drug known as "Spice" has hit the streets and been taken up by a growing number of rough sleepers. There are a number of different strains of the drug which either comatose the user or makes them very violent. It is also very cheap. A bag of Spice can be bought for as little as an hour of begging on the street.

Your Ward Councillors have lobbied the Council and police to ensure everything possible is being done to combat this worrying new development. We can assure you that there is a bed for every rough sleeper in Westminster who wants one and outreach teams are out on the street every night of the year. However, Spice usage is making it increasingly difficult for our services to work effectively with rough sleepers because of the adverse effect the drug is having on them.

The Council has just launched an awareness campaign aimed at persuading the public not to give to beggars but to instead donate to the homeless charities that work in Westminster. Cllr Tim Mitchell from St James’s Ward says: "By ensuring we have the personnel out on the street and preventing the ability to buy Spice we hope we can help those on the street turn their lives around."

Important Bus Route Changes

Transport for London is reviewing the bus routes that run through central London as a consequence of the impending arrival of the Elizabeth Line, the Crossrail 1 project, and the demand by some for more pedestrianisation in the Oxford Street area.

For each of the routes concerned, TfL will consult bus passengers and key members of the local community. In September they consulted on re-routing the bus 13 so that it no longer goes down Oxford Street to Aldwych and instead runs down Park Lane to terminate at Victoria. Click here for more.

TfL are currently consulting on significant changes to buses terminating at Liverpool Street. They propose that Route 23 would no longer run between Aldwych and Liverpool Street bus station and that Route 11/N11 would be rerouted to Worship Street via Threadneedle Street and Bishopsgate. It would no longer serve Old Broad Street and Liverpool Street bus station but would still serve Liverpool Street station at Bishopsgate. Click here for more.

Councillor Louise Hyams says: "We are keen that residents participate in these consultations so that there are no unintended consequences for what could mean significant cuts in bus services. Please contact us on email if you would like us to take up your concerns with TfL."

To keep up with the proposals click here.

Improving Broadband

Local residents and businesses have long been concerned that the poor speed offered by broadband providers in the St James’s Ward and other parts of Westminster. St James’s Councillor Cameron Thomson says: “Research in 2015 showed that London ranks 26th out of 33 European capital cities in terms of internet download speed, below both Paris and Bucharest. Local residents and businesses deserve better.”

The Council has a Broadband Champion who is responsible for coordinating a lobbying campaign, involving local business, to persuade the main providers especially British Telecom to improve their service and encourage others to enter the broadband market.

Recently BT announced that will be accelerating its plans for providing Ultra-Fast Broadband in Westminster. They are expecting their 'Fibre to the Cabinets' (FTTC) programme to be completed by March 2017. They will also be increasing the number of cabinets to be served from 142 to at least 170. This new product, FTTC, will allow for vastly increased connectivity and access to and from the Cloud. It is the sort of service that our small and medium-sized enterprises have been crying out for.  To find out about the planned roll out to your building please click here.