Karen Buck

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Karen Buck MP

News

Dear Ms Buck

Thank you for your email about cyclists in Kensington Gardens. I have spoken to colleagues across the organisation, and hope this email addresses your points.

I am sorry to hear of the concerns raised by your constituents about the behaviour of some cyclists in the park. Although most cyclists are law abiding and respectful of other park users, a selfish minority are not and act in an irresponsible and sometimes dangerous manner.

Thank you for enclosing suggestions for possible ways to make improvements. Although, as you rightly note, there are capacity challenges in terms of police resource, officers do run targeted initiatives focussing on a range of Park Regulations offences including illegal cycling. In tandem The Royal Parks (TRP) has organised its open safe cycling open days in Kensington Gardens and we hope to do more of these in future.

It was TRP that asked for the removal of two Santander stations in Hyde Park following reports that they were associated with crime. This measure has had a positive impact. We have no plans to remove other bike hire stations as there is no current evidence of the same link to crime and they offer a valuable service to visitors and encourage more people to visit parks in a sustainable way. That is not to say there are not challenges especially from overseas visitors who are not necessarily familiar with Park Regulations and sometimes cycle off permitted routes.

We agree that there is a case for improved messaging at the hire stations and we will be taking this up with TfL. More generally we have reviewed and enhanced our cycle signage. The challenge, however, is installing signage that is appropriate for a Grade 1 listed landscape and does not result in visual littering of messages. We have recently undertaken works to re-draw the white writing on the ground around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, and to install new strike-through no-cycling paragon slabs at every entrance into the parks. These make very clear on which routes cycling is and is not permitted. In addition, the park teams regularly put up temporary A-Board signage at problem areas at the request of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), further helping to support enforcement. The MPS is comfortable with The Royal Parks’ approach.

Dockless bikes are beginning to have having an impact in London. A small number of boroughs have welcomed them but most have yet to decide their approach. TRP has not licensed any dockless bike companies to operate in the park and is looking at measures to effectively manage these new companies in future. We aim to take an enlightened approach to supporting sustainable transport but in a way that does not interfere with the safety and comfort of other visitors. GPS may be part of the solution but these are complex issues.

In terms of cycle couriers, they are not permitted in the Royal Parks without permission. The police do stop them and other commercial motor vehicles but some do still take the risk and knowingly come through. If they do this, they could be subject to a fine.

We have spoken to the Dedicated Police Officer (DPO) for Hyde Park, PC Steve Barnes, and he would be happy to take you through the police taskings for dealing with cycling in Kensington Gardens, perhaps at an on-site visit. Do let me know if you would like to do this.

It is very important that we hear the views of park users and we are grateful to both you and your constituents for taking the time and trouble to write.

Best wishes

Georgie

Georgina Dixon | Communications Officer - Stakeholder Lead

Cycling in Kensington Gardens response

Dear Ms Buck Thank you for your email about cyclists in Kensington Gardens. I have spoken to colleagues across the organisation, and hope this email addresses your points. I am...

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I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I am also very grateful to the children and teachers from St Joseph's RC Primary School
for the lovely design of my card.

Best wishes
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Facebook: KarenBuck4WN
Twitter: KarenPBuckMP

Merry Christmas

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I am also very grateful to the children and teachers from St Joseph's RC Primary School for the...

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Westminster City Council recently announced new and much more ambitious plans for the re-development of large areas of Church Street Ward.

These will affect pretty well everyone living in the area. Some directly, as residents in blocks of flats due to be demolished and re-built, and others because of the scale of the building work and the huge changes that will be made to the area over many years.

Many of the blocks due to be re-built were affected by the original, now much delayed, Futures Plan, which was backed by a vote of residents in 2012. However, this new plan brings in many blocks that were not included at that point. The Council is not planning any further votes on its new proposals.

I am writing to you to say:

This is the biggest and most ambitious regeneration scheme Westminster Council has attempted. The track record of delivery has not been great and it is essential that lessons are learned. Both the consultation with residents and the management of the scheme must be a lot better than in the past.

It is vital that all residents have a say in this process - asking questions and making your views known. Labour believes there should be a final vote on the revised scheme. But whatever happens the Council must ensure that the process produces a scheme that Church Street residents actually want.

Tenants (including some housing association tenants), leaseholders and private tenants will be affected in different ways. Proper and independent advice must be available to all to make sure all everyone’s interests are properly served.

There is a strong case for re-developing some blocks in Church Street, and there has been support for this in the past. Some blocks are not well designed, and are desperately in need of improvement. They have been allowed to decline without investment in recent years. There is also a need for new homes. In the absence of proper Government funding some of these will have to be higher-value private homes to raise money for extra Council and housing association homes and community facilities.

BUT

Westminster has a bad track record on providing truly affordable homes, whether to rent or buy, and we need more of these, not just more expensive luxury flats.

AND

A densely populated place like Church Street needs good community facilities - not just school places and GP surgeries, but support for parents, activities for older residents and things for children and young people to do, are essential. Pleasant open spaces are part of this vision, but they are not enough on their own.

The exhibition setting out the plans is on-line at churchstreetmasterplan.org.uk or on display at the Regeneration Base at 99 Church Street NW8 until 29 October.

Please go to the exhibition, fill in the questionnaire, and talk to your friends and neighbours.

I am keen to hear your views, so please so please email or write to me to let me know what you think. You can email me at buckk@parliament.uk

Church Street Masterplan

Westminster City Council recently announced new and much more ambitious plans for the re-development of large areas of Church Street Ward. These will affect pretty well everyone living in the...


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