West End Matters March 2017

Wheels in Motion for Clamp Down on Pedicabs

Local West End Ward resident and councillor, Paul Church, spearheaded a campaign to ban pedicabs from London’s West End.  Following Paul meeting with Ministers and submitting a petition to the Government from fellow residents calling for action, it has been announced that the Government will introduce a licensing regime by adding provisions to the Modern Transport Bill.

The Government’s proposals seek to tackle the problems of nuisance to local residents, concerns of poor safety and rickshaw operators charging extortionate rates to patrons.

Councillor Church responded “I really welcome this Conservative Government taking action against unlicensed and dangerous pedicabs.  As a local resident, I see, on a daily basis, the blight that these contraptions have on our area with stereos blasting in the middle of the night.  There is still work to be done and I would like to see further legislation to prevent pedicabs from parking and idling in our residential streets, but this looks very promising indeed".

Improving Air Quality in Oxford Street and Surrounding Areas

West End Ward Councillor Jonathan Glanz has been working alongside colleagues to improve the air quality in Oxford Street and surrounding areas.

Councillor Jonathan Glanz noted: “As a former chair of the Go Green task force I am hugely supportive of measures to reduce air pollution. The Council will now be issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to repeat offenders who ignore calls to turn off their car engines when they are not moving, and I am hopeful that this will begin to influence the behavior of motorists.”

The policy on PCNs came into force on February 4th, and the Council is now looking at further measures to improve air quality. Councillor Glanz added: “Thanks to work by my Council colleagues and I there has been a 38% reduction in pollution on Oxford Street, and TfL are now consulting on a potential bus reduction in the area by 42%. There is no suggestion that this bus reduction will mean they will get re-routed, so there should be no affect on residents in the area.”

Additionally, over recent weeks the Council has begun a pilot in Marylebone and Fitzrovia, which will involve increased parking charges for diesel vehicles. If successful it will be extended to other parts of the City.

Berwick Street Market update

Cllr Glenys Roberts writes:

Readers of this newsletter will remember my interest in Berwick Street Market which led to me organise the Christmas lights to cheer the market  up and the extremely well attended switch on by Joanna Lumley. The latest most welcome news is that it will not be sold to an outside operator but will remain an Independent entity run by WCC and the traders themselves. 

As a follow up we have now managed to find parking spaces for several of the market traders who need to bring in their fresh wares every day. A problem arose recently when the spaces they  had been using under an informal agreement were put out of action by developers' needs. 

A couple of emails to the West End parking team solved all that. I pointed out there is not much margin in apples and pears and if the traders could not afford to deliver to this much loved community hub the entire neighbourhood would be much poorer for it.

This has been extremely well received by the traders themselves  and of course will benefit the residents who will be able to continue to access fresh produce at a reasonable price. The presence of a thriving market goes hand in hand with a happy residential community - and though not everyone realises it we have an increasing number of residents in Soho. They  love the vibrancy, the informality, the tolerance, the diversity  and the multi culturalism.  

As an old Soho hand who still shops at the market just as I used to in the 60s when I first moved in next to the famous Two Is coffee bar in Old Compton Street,  I am really happy to welcome every initiative that benefits the traditional traders who still display their wares on their barrows old style. After all if we want our food cling wrapped we can all go to the supermarket these days. West Enders wherever you live, please use Berwick Street Market! 

Half the Service, Twice the Price

Councillor Paul Church has been working actively since his election with residents across the West End to keep our local streets clean and safe. After hearing residents concerns about their street being left in an untidy state, Councillor Church went door-to-door to ensure that local people were aware of collection times in Fitzrovia, many of which take place on a daily basis. 

News has broken this week that residents just across the border in Camden are soon to be downgraded to a fortnightly bin collection, risking the cleanliness of some of Central London - with residents even having to pay for extra collections to dispose of some waste types.

Councillor Church explains: “I was dismayed to read that Labour-run Camden are changing to fortnightly bin collections and I am delighted to confirm that Conservative-run Westminster will continue with regular collections across our West End. Given Camden’s Council tax is double what Westminster charges, residents should, at the very least, be able to expect clean and tidy streets”. 

If your West End street has any city management issues, please e-mail: pchurch@westminster.gov.ukand we will look into the matter for you.

Urging residents to have their views heard on parks and opens spaces

The Council will be undertaking a comprehensive review of the spaces it owns or controls, and Councillor Jonathan Glanz would like as much input from residents as possible. The city-wide review will seek to ensure there is sufficient open space for residents and visitors so that the correct balance can be found between commercial activities and public space.

Councillor Jonathan Glanz commented: “Residents have expressed concerns over the use and commercialisation of parks and open spaces in West End Ward, including the use of Berkeley Square, including LAPADA and fashion shows, and the use of Grosvenor Square, Soho Square and Golden Square, as well as Cavendish and Hanover Squares. Residents and visitors are predominantly affected in the summer months, and when the consultation opens I would urge residents to make their views known. I will keep residents informed".

Installation of two new Green Plaques

Cllr Glenys Roberts writes:

I'm excited to announce that I've had the go ahead for two new West End sites where we are going to install Westminster's prestigious green plaques later in the year.

In a street scene fast changing because of massive redevelopment the green plaque scheme which highlights local history helps residents and visitors identify with our ward and take renewed pride in it.

One of the new sites is  the delightful little Georgian house in Farm Street Mayfair which Raine Countess Spencer made her London home for several years.  

Raine, who died recently aged 87, was romantic novelist Barbara Cartland's daughter. She is of course best remembered as the stepmother to Diana Princess of Wales after she married Lord Spencer and moved into the family's stately Althrop in Northamptonshire.

But she was also the youngest Westminster councillor ever and fondly remembered for overseeing the regeneration of the Covent Garden opera house. She lived in Farm Street after Lord Spencer died.

The other site in Soho will appeal to locals in an area known for its famous music venues and record shops. It is the old workhouse which is said to have inspired the wonderful Louis Armstrong ballad St James's workhouse.

Today the workhouse is gone,  its history little known and it has actually become the Poland Street car park! But workhouses, where the poor were cared for and given work were an important part of the West End. One of them in Cleveland Street Fitzrovia inspired Dickens Oliver Twist. I am proud to have helped spearhead a successful campaign to save that from the demolition's ball. 

Another in Manette Street Soho also has a Dickens connection - he used to write under one of the trees in the House of St Barnabas garden next door. The Poland Street workhouse thrived into the 20th century when it became a hostel for Russian refugees from hostilities on the Continent and so accentuates the multicultural tradition of Soho. Both plaques will give continuity to our area and uplift the spirits.

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, 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.