Vincent Square Matters March 2017

Rough sleeping - we can all help

When you see a rough sleeper you can use the Street Link app or call 0300 500 0914 to get help for that individual. Every night outreach workers from the Council and partner charities go out to offer help and a bed. Recently new drugs have made this work more difficult and led to a spike in anti-social behaviour in parts of our area. You may well have seen extra police and security on duty near the Cathedral.

“Westminster’s Conservative Council wants no-one to have to spend a night on the streets”, says Conservative Councillor Danny Chalkley.

“We work with our charity partners, the Passage, Thames-reach and St. Mungo’s to help over two thirds of rough sleepers into a hostel and back towards settled life, usually without a second night out”. However, recently, new drugs, particularly “Spice”, have made this community more disruptive and more vulnerable. Council leader Nickie Aiken has persuaded the Home Office to toughen the law on Spice and has now called for it to be made a class A drug as it is immediately life threatening; there have been deaths”.

A number of commercial property owners control parts of the rough sleep hot spots. We have been in difficult but constructive negotiation with landlords to enclose the Piazza colonnades and they have agreed to give the police tougher power on their property.

We have also just secured additional money to direct more security at rough sleeping related anti-social behaviour in parks such as St. John’s Gardens on Horseferry Road where you have told us you have concerns.

Finally, some residents have been worried about ex-servicemen becoming homeless: in fact there are very few locally. Westminster Council is the first local Council to work with Veterans Aid to prevent former service personnel becoming homeless.

Leading on clean air - don't be idle

"We know that air pollution is a one of your major concerns and is a killer”, says Conservative Cllr David Harvey. “We are working to lead behaviour change”.

Westminster was one of the first councils in the country to have an air quality strategy. Likewise, we long ago called for a diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers replace their diesel cars.

Westminster Council is launching a high profile “Don’t be Idle”Campaign across the City.  If you would like to volunteer to help perhaps just once or twice a year as an anti idling marshal, please email us.

We have won powers to introduce fines for persistent idling of motor engines from this month. Idling adds massively to air pollution. Our anti-idling days bring teams of volunteers and council staff into the area to talk to drivers to persuade them to drop bad habits.  You have told us that coaches are a particular concern on Horseferry Road, on Millbank and in Ambrosden Avenue and they will be a particular target for this campaign.

Local people have sent us news of engine idling black spots, this has been helpful to our inspectors so please keep news coming by email or calling us on 020 7730 8181. 

Westminster Conservative’s Greener City Action plan is full of practical measures we are taking locally today. On Oxford Street, working with business and TFL, we have already seen success - pollution has fallen by up to 30%. We are introducing the first diesel surcharge pilot in Marylebone to encourage drivers to think twice before bringing their extra-polluting diesel cars into Westminster. Working locally around our neighbourhood, we are encouraging local businesses to rationalise deliveries, we are reducing this traffic by 20% to 30%.

Better roads - fighting your corner

As well as a 20mph pilot speed limit near St. Vincent De Paul school on Morpeth Terrace and near Millbank Academy on Erasmus Street, we are looking at other ways to deal with freight drivers who rat run through the area. This includes vehicle weight limits, which get GPS providers to remove local routes from the navigation options

Westminster Conservatives have organised the introduction of cameras to catch rat runners illegally using the Ponsonbys.

Working with residents, we continue to oppose the unpopular cycle quiet way plan through the Vincent Square ward.

In addition to recent work on zebra crossings, there will be a range of other road and highway improvements this year including work on: Ambrosden Avenue, Thirleby Road, Vincent Square, Emery Hill Street, Francis Street , Rochester Row, Howick Place, Greencoat Place, Stillington Street , Ponsonby Place and John Islip Street. 

News in Brief – Highlighting What Your Conservative Councillors Do Every Day

Social landlords – We receive a few questions and complaints about social and private landlords. We do not always have powers to help, but are always ready to try. Please do contact us!

Wigram House, Thirlby Road –This redevelopment is likely to come back onto the planning agenda and we are supporting the Ashley Gardens residents as they look to get the right answer. 

Victoria Station – Residents will have noted the opening of the new Bressenden Place entrance, this massive project is starting to move to a close and we want to thank the residents who have worked with us on the community liaison group to try and minimise the local impact.  

Building noise – Residents approached us about noisy builders work, for example on Greycoat Street, and we are working with building control officers who have secured less noise for residents. 

Trees – You told us a sapling on Regency Street, outside Norfolk House, had died. Westminster's excellent tree team soon got us a new one. We like keeping our trees so please let us know about any issues you see. 

An elderly tenant was facing eviction – We were able to intervene and help sort things for him. 

Our recent ward Clean and Safer Streets Audit with officers focused on The Millbank and Erasmus Street area, identifying and clearing a number of street, lighting, paving and road issues.

Fly tipping - You complained about 'fly tipping of old furniture at the Erasmus Street waste bins'. We have tough new fines - £400 for domestic waste and up to £3000 for commercial waste - to deter this. This does not mean we will fine the elderly resident who cannot move a heavy bin lid, but that we are asking for a responsible approach. The above fly tipper was identified and warned.

Cllr Steve Summers - Steve is Lord Mayor until mid-May, working across the City for all apolitically, and is not involved in ward matters.