Your latest Churchill Ward action report

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From your Churchill Labour Action Team – Councillors Shamim Talukder and Jason Williams and Andrea Mann

Find out what we’re doing in your part of Churchill Ward

Check out the new Your Area section of our website to find out more about the work your Labour Councillors have been doing, and the projects they’ve helped fund, in your part of Churchill Ward.

 

Ebury Bridge Estate lifts

We have written to CityWest Homes asking for a review of the lifts on Ebury Bridge Estate following several breakdowns. In recent weeks there have been issues with lifts in Doneraile House and Victoria House, where there have been a number of breakdowns.

Councillor Jason Williams said: “I have had a number of reports about lifts breaking down on the estate – including those where residents have been trapped waiting for assistance. Residents need assurances that the lifts are being regularly checked and are in working order. I have also spoken to residents on top floors who have mobility problems who are particularly affected by lifts breaking down.

“It is a cause for concern that no major works have taken place on the estate for 10 years. During the regeneration scheme consultation, it is important that day-to-day maintenance of the estate isn’t neglected.”

 

Balmoral Castle pub site

Wew have written to Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing for clarification on the recent Conservative Party leaflet distributed in Churchill Gardens about the long-vacant Balmoral Castle pub site. The leaflet claims that there are plans by the Council to turn the site into homes for older people.

Councillor Jason Williams said: “Westminster Tories have been responsible for keeping this vacant pub shrouded in scaffolding for 13 years – running up a bill of over £200,000 and a huge waste of public funds – and failing to come up with any plans for the site. We are therefore very surprised to see them now running a belated campaign to build on the site, when they run the Council and have been the ones who have kept it covered in expensive scaffolding for so long.”

Councillor Shamim Talukder said: “Rather than trying to tackle the issue – which they have had the full power to do so for 13 years – Westminster Tories are instead seeking to play party politics and blame Labour for their own failure to develop a disused site.”

We also strongly refute claims by Westminster Tories that we have rejected any ideas for the site.

Councillor Williams said: “The Tory leaflet claims we rejected their plans – which is simply not true. Our response has always been that the community must be involved in any resolution to the issue and any plans for the site should involve full, genuine consultation with local residents. Residents won’t be fooled by this rather desperate, blatantly political stunt by a Westminster Tory party which is only now, just ahead of an election, looking into an issue they have had 13 years to fix.”

Licensing Sweep

Councillor Jason Williams accompanied Council officers on a licensing sweep of the ward visiting licensed premises and discussing residents’ concerns.

 

Council Housing

Inside Housing magazine has published details of the number of former council homes now being let by private landlords, after analysing statistics from two-thirds of councils in England. The research reveals that on average more than 40 percent of property bought under Right to Buy is now in the hands of private landlords. The figures for Westminster show that out of the 8,988 leaseholds sold to council tenants, 3,363 — 37.42 percent — are now owned as buy-to-let.  Inside Housing says that the average weekly council rent in London is £108 while for private flats it is £359.

 

Rubbish Dumping

In response to the regular concerns expressed by residents, we have put forward the following ideas:

What do you think?

Dealing with Airbnb

Research by the Residential Landlords Association published in December 2017 found the number of Airbnb rentals in London has increased by 187% since 2015. Karen Buck MP (Labour) said the number of properties advertised in Westminster North on Airbnb has more than doubled – from 1,603 in 2015 to 3,621 in 2017.

“In blocks of flats, long-term residents find themselves living in a hotel but without the services to support it, like staff and security. They have to deal with constant comings and goings, security concerns, noise, rubbish. These properties turn over every few days so you feel you aren’t living in a residential community.”

Karen Buck said short-term lets were also contributing to housing shortages.

“The original concept of Airbnb was you rent your flat out when you’re away or your spare room. That still happens and that’s absolutely fine. But what’s also happened is professional landlords have moved in, who in many cases own multiple properties.”

Research by Westminster City Council found that renting a one-bedroom flat in the area will make £495 a week for an ordinary tenancy, but £1,561 a week on a nightly basis.

Two years ago, the law changed to allow London properties to be let for up to 90 days a year without permission from the council. In January 2017, Airbnb introduced a block on London hosts renting out homes for more than 90 days a year, to ensure users complied with the law.

But some landlords are finding ways around the rules, including re-listing a property under a slightly different address or advertising a whole flat as a single room, which is not covered by the 90-day limit. People also advertise on alternative platforms to get around the cap.

Karen Buck said it was difficult for councils to enforce the 90-day limit and has put forward a bill to Parliament calling for all short-term lets to be registered

“It’s difficult to monitor. Local authorities have to spend a lot of time and money trying to catch the people breaking the rules. My suggestion is very light touch. People who are staying within the law are fine and just need to spend 30 seconds registering their property online. There’s no question of denying permission. But for people that are breaking the rules, we have a means of bringing them to justice.”.

 

City Council elections, May 2018

An interesting article looking forward to the May Council elections by Dave Hill, which quotes Andrew Murray’s State of Soho blog: http://www.onlondon.co.uk/could-the-conservatives-lose-westminster-council/

 

Tesco Bags of Help – Community Grant Scheme

Bags of Help is Tesco’s local community grant scheme where the money raised by the 10p Bag for Life charge in Tesco stores is being used to fund community projects that benefit the local community. Following a public vote, three projects in each Tesco region will receive an award every two months, with first place receiving up to £4,000, second place up to £2,000 and third place up to £1,000.

If you need any further advice or support – including talking through some project ideas or finding out how to make a project eligible – contact Paige Matthews, Community Project Officer, Groundwork London Phone: 020 8762 0321 E-mail: paige.matthews@groundwork.org.uk

 

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