News from your Churchill Labour Action Team – Councillors Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams, and Andrea Mann
Churchill Gardens parking
Back in the autumn, we started pushing for Westminster City Council and CityWest Homes to take action on parking on Churchill Gardens estate. We had listened to residents’ complaints about cars parking without a permit, the lack of parking enforcement and the congestion caused – which could in turn cause access problems for emergency vehicles – and did estate walks looking at the issues.
We then raised the problems and concerns with CityWest Homes – asking them to take enforcement action against unauthorised parking and to implement a TMO (Traffic Management Order) to enable Council traffic marshals to patrol the estate.
We’re now pleased to report that action has now been taken as a result. CityWest Homes have sent a letter, questionnaire and factsheet to all residents on the estate, informing them of their proposals and asking for their views on parking arrangements.
Ebury Bridge Estate
We have written to Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, to demand a full ballot of all residents on any final scheme agreed for Ebury Bridge Estate. This follows the publication of the Mayor of London’s guide to estate regeneration, which sets out plans to protect social housing in the city.
The Mayor’s best practice guide is clear that a referendum is mandatory on any scheme where demolition is a part. As Westminster Council has been quoting the Mayor’s guidance as a reason for their own decisions, they need to be consistent and follow now the guidance proposed by the Mayor – which is that estate referendums are mandatory.
Victoria House, Ebury Bridge Estate
We have asked the Planning Department and City West Homes to investigate two flats in Victoria House being let out via Airbnb without authorization.
We have again asked London Underground to investigate the noise from the tracks between Sloan Square and Victoria.
Residents say: “The current noise is extreme and with the noise comes vibration and this is affecting other households in Bourne Street, Eaton Terrace and Ebury Street.”
Cleaning up Westminster’s Planning system
We have pledged to clean up Westminster’s Planning system if we are elected at the Council elections on 3rd May.
There is a clear perception that senior Conservative Councillors have very close relationships with developers. For example, the Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Robert Davis, has disclosed that since the start of 2015 he has received hospitality related to his role as a City Councillor from developers, big business and other interests a record 514 times. This equates to a staggering 14 cases of declarable hospitality a month, peaking at 47 cases in December 2016. We believe that such an approach does not help build public trust that the Council will put the needs of residents before those of property developers and business interests.
If elected to run the Council in May, Labour will engage with industry representatives in open settings to share views and push for residents’ priorities, but we will do so whilst working to achieve the highest standards. Labour commits that:
- Labour Cabinet Members and Councillors will not accept hospitality from individual developers and their agents.
- Labour will require the Council to formally record all meetings between Cabinet Members and developers when discussing individual schemes. There will always be an officer present.
- A record of these meetings will be posted on the Council website within two weeks.
We attended the Police Ward Panel, all part of working with local Met Police officers to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the ward. We heard about the great work the Police and Council officers are doing to keep us safe – and also about the new ‘Your Area’ section of the Met Police’s website. This includes latest statistics and crime prevention advice.
There is a new Chief Superintendent in charge of Westminster Police and we hope to meet with him soon to discuss his plans. We will keep arguing for more police to keep our streets safe and for the Government to halt the cuts to the Metropolitan Police budget. In particular:
- There have been huge real-terms cuts to policing budgets across the country. In London alone, £700 million has been cut from the Met Police’s budget.
- These cuts mean that in London, we’ve lost 2,495 Police officers and 3,261 Police Community Support Officers.
- The Met Police still needs to find a further £370 million of savings by 2022 – meaning police numbers could fall below 27,500 by 2021 – the lowest level since 2002.
We have started a petition to stop the police cuts: sign it here.
CityWest Homes ‘Nightmare Stories’
We have published a dossier of ’20 nightmare stories’ from CityWest Homes’, based on the experiences of CWH tenants and leaseholders over the past few months across Westminster. All have been reported to CWH for action and some problems have now been resolved – but only after a Labour Councillor had intervened. This is not the way to run an organisation responsible for 12,500 tenants and 10,000 leaseholders. How many more similar stories of incompetence and neglect go unreported because the tenant or leaseholder has not been able escalate the problem by reporting it to a Labour Councillor? City West Homes is in need of a radical overhaul and Labour is pledged to do this following the May Council elections.
Please let us know if you are having problems with CityWest Homes.
Keeping the Council Tax low
If elected in May Westminster, Labour will keep Council Tax low. Labour will support the current proposals by the Council for a freeze in the Council Tax rate and a 2% rise in the adult social care precept in 2018/19. If elected, we will not raise the council tax and adult social care precept by any more than the Conservatives have over recent years.
Council Tax is always an emotive issue. Westminster Council receives the highest levels of parking revenue (£73.2m) in the country as well as substantial commercial income from its large Central London property portfolio (£42.8m) that help prop up its finances far more than in other boroughs. Westminster also has a long-track record of under-investing in its public services and its upcoming budget plans to cut over £3 million from services for children and young people and £2 million from rough sleeping and supported housing.
Due the impact of crippling Conservative Government cuts to local council funding, Westminster Conservatives have raised the Council Tax (including the adult social care precept) every year since 2016.