Karen Buck

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Karen Buck MP

Recent Activity

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I am writing to object to the granting of a licence to Betfred at the Prince of Wales junction. As a local resident, with a local workplace, and as a frequent user of the shops and market at the ‘Prince of Wales’ junction, I am convinced that a betting shop on this dominant site will be harmful to the area.

Considerable efforts have been made in recent years to improve the ‘piazza’ opposite the Prince of Wales, which had been plagued by crack-dealing and street drinking. It was necessary to have a dedicated police team just to deal with the problems in the area. Despite the combined efforts of the Council, Local Area Partnership, traders and residents, this has not been a quick or easy task and whilst much progress has been made, the area still faces challenges. There is a high level of deprivation in the surrounding streets and estates and several services close by providing support for vulnerable people, including Westminster Drugs project, Central and North West London Mental Health service and City Living for people with learning disabilities.

Whilst it is important that a betting shop in this location would be the 8th within a short radius (not least because recent figures indicate that £5m was lost to Fixed Odds Terminals alone in north Westminster last year) what is particularly significant is the importance of this site. Any sustained improvement in the area must start with the ‘corner’ premises of the junction- of which the former Prince of Wales is easily the most physically significant. This site becoming a betting shop sends a signal that we have ‘lost’ the square as a managed, mixed, safe and potentially vibrant part of the community.

I have made direct representations to BetFred in respect of this site, and regret that they have not chosen to respond. I therefore very much hope that Westminster is able to act in the community interest and refuse a licence for these premises.

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Karen Buck

Labour Candidate, Westminster North

My objection letter to the granting of a licence to Betfred at the Prince of Wales junction

I am writing to object to the granting of a licence to Betfred at the Prince of Wales junction. As a local resident, with a local workplace, and as a...

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Dear Resident

Thank you once again for responding to my survey of Genesis Housing Association residents last year.

The response was overwhelming and analysis of the survey had to take a backseat in order to prioritise dealing with the many resident complaints about poor maintenance, incorrect service charge bills and unresponsive officers.  Progress has been made on most individual issues now - and if you haven’t yet had a response, I am still chasing Genesis on your behalf.

The survey reveals a worrying picture of dissatisfied tenants who believe their landlord is getting even worse.  As well as trying to pinpoint exactly why so many are unhappy with Genesis, the attached report puts forward practical suggestions for improvement, many coming directly from residents.

I have written to Genesis to ask them to reflect on what you have said.  It is clear that they are performing poorly in many different ways and things should not be allowed to continue as they are.  My colleague Jim Fitzpatrick recently held a debate in Parliament calling for residents to be given the power to sack a failing housing association and transfer their homes to another landlord.  This has to be considered as an option if they don’t improve radically.

I will write to you again once I hear back from Genesis.  I do hope they take some of your comments and ideas on board.

Yours sincerely

 Karen Buck MP

Genesis Survey Report

My Survey of Genesis Housing Association residents

  Dear Resident Thank you once again for responding to my survey of Genesis Housing Association residents last year. The response was overwhelming and analysis of the survey had to...

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At some point, a great many of us will have been victims of crime, or will be close to someone who has. Burglary, robbery, car crime - right through to assault, sexual violence and domestic violence. To be a victim of crime - a stolen phone, a damaged car - is, at the least, disturbing and frequently expensive. To have your home invaded by burglars, or to be robbed on the street (I’ve experienced both) is a hideous experience. At worst, crime is a devastating life changing event. Having taken a particular interest in gang crime, I have sat with the mothers of murdered teenagers and even later, cannot help but be overwhelmed once more with the indescribable agony of someone who has lost a child to violence. Such events are rare-but not rare enough.

Over the last twenty years, we have experienced a profoundly welcome fall in overall crime. The reasons for this are hotly debated, but the trend is clear. This long term reduction doesn’t, of course, mean every type of offence crimes is down, everywhere, year on year. It can be true that crime is down in London but up in Harrow Road, or that street robberies are down in St John’s Wood but car crime is up. ‘Hot-spots’ bubble up in different places and involving different types of offending. On-line fraud is certainly on the up. The overall pattern, though, is positive and we should be pleased about it.

Does this mean that we can be relaxed about the decline in neighbourhood policing we have been seeing? I don’t think so. Complex urban areas like ours need to be managed. The heart of London has to be protected against the possibility against threats of different kinds. Westminster’s police must still rise to the challenges of a massive numbers of working, night-time and tourist visitors, swelling the residential population and, of course, the reason why our local crime statistics often look a lot worse than those of our neighbours. And all the usual challenges of the city still apply- from alcohol related problems to youth violence.

Yet our police numbers fell by around 30% between 2011 and last year, as part of the reduction of 17,000 police nationally. With 4000 fewer uniformed officers in London, it is not surprising that a recent report confirmed that half of Londoners say there is ‘no sign of the police in their areas’.  Our neighbourhood police teams- once intended to provide a core of dedicated officers to each area, getting to know the people and problems- have been reduced substantially- with a new organisational structure, given more to do, with fewer resources.

And now we know there is potentially far worse to come, with policing unprotected from the next, even deeper round of spending cuts pencilled in by the current government. Their plans mean we are not half way through the intended cuts in public spending- and policing is on the frontline. Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe has already said "We don't think our current funding from the home office fully recognises the challenges of policing our capital” and that the force needed to be more vocal about the cuts, as they could not tackle everything within a shrinking budget.

I want to keep our streets safe- and getting safer- with both the specialist policing to respond to complex challenges, and neighbourhood police rooted in the communities they serve. I do not believe we can face the scale of cuts to policing that the Conservatives are drawing up without consequences. It is one of the choices people face in a few weeks.

Article for the Wood & Vale

At some point, a great many of us will have been victims of crime, or will be close to someone who has. Burglary, robbery, car crime - right through to...


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