March 7th, 2009
Labour’s eleven Councillors represent all residents in the Queen’s Park, Church Street, Harrow Road and Westbourne Wards. We take up individual cases, as well as issues of concern across the wards we represent and in Westminster generally. Below are some of the issues we have been taking up recently, many as a result of residents’ responses to our regular ‘News from Westminster’s Labour Councillors’. Let us know if we can take up a local issue in your area.
COUNCIL TAX FREEZE THE ONLY OPTION FOR WESTMINSTER
Labour Councillors say that a zero Council tax rise in Westminster is the only option local residents will accept after the Conservatives lost £17 million in now-failed Icelandic Banks.
The budget includes a £15 million cut which will hit front line services to children and the mentally ill, together with cuts to street sweeping, refuse collection and community protection. And Council Chief Executive Mike More has warned staff that “because of the financial situation we expect there to be around 300 less posts through the changing structures and then as we cut out low priority work, the combined figure may rise to 400″.
We believe there are big savings to be made in Westminster in order to concentrate scarce resources on strengthening front line services to Westminster’s most vulnerable citizens. In particular, we say that the £3.2 million a year Communications expenditure can be slashed in half, saving £1.6 million a year. In addition, Labour would scrap the £23,000 Civic Dinner, save £100,000 on taxis and hire cars and reduce the Lord Mayor’s Hospitality allowance by half.
CCTV CAMERAS ISSUE OVER 3,000 PARKING TICKETS IN THREE ST JOHN’S WOOD STREETS
CCTV cameras in three streets in St John’s Wood were responsible for over 3,000 parking tickets being issued to drivers in 2008, according to figures released by Westminster City Council following a Freedom of Information request by parking campaigner Paul Pearson. The parking tickets were issued by CCTV cameras in;
- Circus Road – 1,549 parking tickets
- St John’s Wood High Street – - 890 parking tickets
- Abbey Road – 566 parking tickets
TOTAL – 3,005 parking tickets in 2008
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group said;
“These figures are truly shocking. The Council is fleecing motorists of thousands of pounds for minor parking offences. Shopkeepers in St John’s Wood High Street and Abbey Road are having their business severely damaged by Westminster’s parking policies. At a time of tough economic conditions, the last thing local shopkeepers want is the Council frightening off their customers with constant parking fines. The time has come for a fundamental review of the use of CCTV to issue parking tickets in residential streets in Westminster”
You can see if there is a CCTV camera near where you live. Below there is a link to the Westminster website and maps of CCTV locations. Just type in the street or post code and the map pops up. You can then zoom in / out to find the sites (red dots). If you want to identify exact locations simply double click the dots. Shortcut to: http://www3.westminster.gov.uk/maps/index.cfm?LayerID=216
LABOUR SUPPORTS MARYLEBONE PARENTS CAMPAIGNING FOR MORE NURSERY PLACES FOR UNDER FIVES
We are supporting Marylebone parents who are finding it difficult finding affordable local child care. A survey last year found that were 380 children under five years old in Marylebone but only 43 nursery places – almost nine children for each place. The survey also found that there was no provision for out-of-hours activities for children over five years old in the Marylebone area.
We have now written to the Council’s Head of Early Years, Mike Potter, to ask what help the Council is able to give to the local parents, Claudia Morales Martin of Weymouth Street, and Diane Ward who are leading a group of parents campaigning for more nursery places in Marylebone at affordable prices.
£23,000 TO BE SPENT BY THE COUNCIL ON A CIVIC DINNER
We have condemned the Council for going ahead with a £23,000 Black-Tie Civic Dinner at Lancaster House, St James’s on Sunday 22nd March. We say that spending £23,000 on a Civic Dinner is totally unacceptable at a time when the Council is cutting jobs and the Council’s finances are still reeling from the loss of £17 million invested in now-failed Icelandic Banks.
PARKING IN GARWAY ROAD, BAYSWATER
There are five parking places in Garway Road, W2, which are allocated as Doctors’ parking. There used to be a GP surgery here but this has been closed for almost a year. The parking places are usually empty most of the time, apart from the occasional doctor doing their shopping, so we have asked the Council if they will be returned to normal residents’ parking places as a matter of priority.
EXTRA £1.1 MILLION FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO IMPROVE CHILDREN’S PLAY
We have welcomed the news that Westminster will be receiving an additional £1.1 million to create and renovate new and existing children’s play sites, following strong lobbying from Karen Buck MP.
TRADESMEN’S PARKING PERMITS
Residents have told us about the parking difficulties for tradesmen, either making deliveries or parking while doing jobs. There is a tradesmen’s parking permit which is discounted against the daily parking charge. Details are available on the
MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL SITE
Local residents have asked to take up the issue of the chapel in the now-demolished Middlesex Hospital. The chapel was absorbed into the structure of the hospital, but is now standing on its own in the middle of the building site. We have also asked if the owners will be making arrangements for access for those residents that use the chapel, while the uncertainty around the site continues.
LISSON GREEN RESIDENTS LOTTERY GRANT
We were delighted that the Lisson Green Tenants and Residents’ Association has been awarded almost £8,000 from the National Lottery to organize a programme of exercise and healthy living activities to improve the health and well being of older people.
TACKLING LATE NIGHT ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN MAYFAIR
At the request of residents in Mayfair we have taken up a number of recent issues. First, in South Molton Street, a new club has opened up and on the opening night the street was full of cars parked all the way down to Brook Street, with crowds, drinking, making it difficult for pedestrian traffic.
Secondly, for two nights in a row a club in New Bond Street had an all-night party. At 6am there were 50 or 60 people shouting outside the club, with minicabs parked all the way down the street. At one point, the cabs blocked the street, and a No.8 bus could neither get near the bus stop nor proceed down New Bond Street.
WESTMINSTER TRAILS BADLY ON ‘EXTENDED SCHOOLS’ PROVISION
We have called for urgent action by Westminster City Council following the publication of information uncovered by Karen Buck MP that Westminster still trails badly on key provision for children.
New figures release by the Government confirm that Westminster continues at the bottom of the league when it comes to delivering ‘extended schools’- the offer of out-of-school activities for children. Only four councils in the whole of Britain were doing less well than Westminster last year.
In a letter to Karen Buck MP in December, Jim Knight, the Minister for Schools, said “Whilst Westminster is making some progress, it is below the average for London….69% of London schools currently provide the full offer, compared with 50% in Westminster”
AFRO-CARIBBEAN CULTURAL CENTRE GETS GO AHEAD
Harrow Road Labour Councillors have welcomed the news that the Yaa Asentewa Centre, in Chippenham Mews, has been given planning permission for the development of a new Arts & Cultural Centre for North Paddington. The new centre will include new workshops, study centres, better catering facilities and better access for people with disabilities, allowing the centre to reach out to the wider community by allowing other groups to rent halls and local schools to become involved in their cultural study activities. The new centre will also include improved soundproofing which will benefit local residents.
The Home Office has given the Council £100,000 to finance two projects;
Tackling drug markets in Soho and the Prince of Wales Junction. £60,000 will be spent on works such as gating alleys and basement stairwells and improved lighting levels.
A Mobile Police Station, costing £40,000, would enable the Council and the Police to rapidly supply a high visibility and consistent police presence in problem areas to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour.
We are helping residents in Aldridge Road Villas to tackle the perennial problems of prostitution, drug dealing and other crime at the junction of the road with Westbourne Park Road. Residents have requested a CCTV camera there and we are following this up with the Council and local police.
OVER 3,000 PROTEST OVER UNFAIR MOTORBIKE PARKING CHARGES
In the largest-ever protest in Westminster, over 3,000 motorbike owners have sent emails, written letters and signed petitions protesting against Westminster City Council’s new £150 a year/£1.50p a day motorbike parking charges. Over 500 motorbike owners protested outside City Hall on Tuesday 17th February.
The parking charge, equivalent to a 22% Council Tax increase for Westminster residents, has provoked a massive protest across the political spectrum with motorbike owners of all political persuasions uniting to urge the Council to scrap the experimental charge when it is reviewed at the beginning of March. So far, the £300,000 cost of introducing extra motorbike parking places and security measures has been exceeded seven times over by the £2.2 million income received by the Council in parking fees and parking fines.
QUEEN’S PARK DOG SOCIALISING CLASSES
We have had very many positive responses from Queen’s Park residents to the dog socialising classes run by local resident which we have been funding from the Ward Budget. The classes have now been extended to the south of Westminster and we have urged the Council to make this initiative part of the Council’s mainstream activities, in tandem with the Dog Warden Service. Dog-related issues are generally high profile and we are sure that this would command support across the Council.
NHS Westminster is the new name for our local Primary Care Trust. One of the priorities is to make it easier for residents to see a dentist and they are investing in two new dental practices in Westminster, which they expect to be up and running by late 2009. The intention is to increase dental opening times so that patients can make appointments in the evenings and at the weekend.
NHS Westminster is establishing a public involvement group. This will be a group of around 10 to 15 individuals who can help to assess dental health needs in Westminster, service priorities and to improve the patient experience. If you would like to be involved or would like to talk to someone about this in more detail, please contact Yvette Marks at NHS Westminster on 020 71 50 80 79 or email email@example.com
Here to Help Across Westminster – How to contact us
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader, (Queen’s Park Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Barrie Taylor, Deputy Leader and Health and Sports Spokesperson, (Queen’s Park Ward) email@example.com
Councillor David Boothroyd, Finance Spokesperson, (Westbourne Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Ruth Bush, Environment Spokesperson, (Harrow Road Ward) email@example.com
Councillor Rupert D’Cruz, Transport spokesperson, (Westbourne Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Barbara Grahame, Planning and Education spokesperson, (Church Street Ward) email@example.com
Councillor Guthrie McKie, Housing Spokesperson, (Harrow Road Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Mushtaq Qureshi, Licensing Spokesperson, (Queen’s Park Ward) email@example.com
Councillor Papya Qureshi, Children and Young Peoples Spokesperson, (Westbourne Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Sharan Tabari, Community Cohesion Spokesperson, (Harrow Road Ward) email@example.com
Councillor Aziz Toki, Policing and Security Spokesperson, (Church Street Ward) firstname.lastname@example.org