Westminster Conservatives want to raise the rents of people for council tenants who they consider to be earning too much and has asked the Government to give the Council the power to set its own rent levels.
Speaking at a Council meeting last week, the Council's Cabinet member for Housing, Philippa Roe, claimed that there are more than 2,200 Council tenants earning more than £50,000 a year and that the Council should have the power to increase their rents in order to raise more revenue to pay for Council services.
Quite where she got this information is unclear but it is clearly an attack on Westminster's middle-income earners. It will drive many hard working families out of Westminster.
Many Council tenants earning good wages have done so by working hard. To increase their rents for being successful at work would be similar to increasing their taxes. Many Council tenants earning good wages save as much as they can so that they can eventually put down a deposit on a flat or house in Westminster or elsewhere. Increasing rents on those who do well would act as a disincentive to other tenants to build a career and get on in life.
It appears that Westminster Conservatives are more concerned with increasing the Council's revenues than building successful and thriving local communities.
The Conservative's clearly believe that social housing should only be a tenure of last resort, given only to the very poor. This merely reinforces the old stereotypes of ‘sink estates' where few people worked and where ambition was dirty word. Instead of attacking hard-working families they should be glad that so many tenants are in good jobs, helping to make their estates lively and mixed. Why should people now be punished by increased rents because of the financial mistakes made by the Conservatives?
Westminster Conservatives want to raise the rents of people for council tenants who they consider to be earning too much and has asked the Government to give the Council the...
On Thursday 28th April Queen's Park and Harrow Road Labour Councillors were joined by over 60 residents at a public meeting at St Luke's Church.
They were joined by Graham King of Westminster City Council's Planning Department and Lizzie Williams representing the Campaign opposed to HS2.
Graham King made the following observations and comments:
•That the Queens Park Estate has two levels of Heritage status - Heritage protection of some properties in Fifth Avenue and Conservation Area Status elsewhere.
•That many properties in other parts of Westminster also lie above underground lines and have similar poor foundations to those in Queen's Park (e.g. Mayfair and Victoria). He commented that the London Clay under Queen's Park was very suitable for tunnelling.
•That new trains need 400m of straight line to accommodate High Speed trains
•That trains could not run on the existing mainline tracks as High Speed Trains require a safety area around the train not just the rails
•That Westminster City Council is unable to influence the national compensation scheme.
•That implementation requires an Act of Parliament and could take much longer than people think. As it would probably be a Hybrid Bill to approve the scheme it would not be subject to any Public Inquiry (this could also be a strength to objectors)
•That the route of tunnel could alter (investigations conducted by Westminster already shows that rerouting along the line of railway to cemetery would only alter journey time by 15secs)
•That HS2 will be discussed by the Council's Built Environment Scrutiny Committee in June as a result of requests made by local Councillors following which the Council will be making a submission to the HS2 Consultation.
Lizzie Williams of the Campaign opposed to HS2 also took part and made the following comments and observations:
•That residents should be objecting to the principle of HS2 at this stage, rather than focussing on the detail. She let residents know that they could submit their comments on line at https://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/have-your-say or you can phone HS2 on 020 7944 4908 for more details.
•That the economic case for HS2 is to be questioned by a parliamentary Select Committee
•That the building of the HS2 would be funded by direct taxation
•That the route is 138 miles long and trains are intended to run at 225 mph
•That the route would carry 36 trains an hour with capacity for 1100 people per train
•That the exceptional Hardship scheme only relates to people in critical conditions
•She recommended that everyone should take pictures of the condition of their house and keep these as a record
•That the argument for transferring airplane passengers was, in her opinion, linked to the loss of the 4th runway at Heathrow and the potential of moving extra capacity to Birmingham
•She also made the point that much of the support for the project was from international construction and industrial companies (e.g. Chinese Steel producers)
Questions were then raised by residents about the shallowness of foundations on the Queen's Park Estate, the impact on house insurance and potential for selling houses during this period.
Queen's Park Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg confirmed that Councillors would give residents all the assistance needed to enable residents to set up an Action Group to safeguard their interests, and to provide the information necessary to make representations to the Department for Transport.
A further meeting to discuss the formation of a potential Action Group is on Wednesday 11th May at St Luke's Church at 7.00pm.
On Thursday 28th April Queen's Park and Harrow Road Labour Councillors were joined by over 60 residents at a public meeting at St Luke's Church. They were joined by Graham...
The revised route for the planned High Speed Rail link has caused concern amongst some residents in Queen's Park, with worries being expressed about the deep tunnelling under the Queen's Park estate.
I will be joining Queen's Park ward councillors at a meeting to discuss these concerns and try and get answers to resident's questions. The meeting will be held at:
St Luke's Church (at the top end of Fernhead Road by the junction with Kilburn Lane)
Thursday April 28th
The revised route for the planned High Speed Rail link has caused concern amongst some residents in Queen's Park, with worries being expressed about the deep tunnelling under the Queen's...
Launching the rally against youth violence in the Harrow Road on Saturday March 5th , Karen welcomed the parents and voluntary groups coming together under the banner ‘It takes a whole community to raise a child'.
Postcode-related gang violence has been worsening in the last two years, and it was especially heartbreaking to hear the plea for help from the mother of murdered local 22 year old Daniel Smith, who it is thought died as a result of mistaken identity. Too man y of our young people are living in fear, too many are being hurt and some are dying because we have not broken the spiral of anger and violence on the streets. We need a united community, and a strong youth service to turn this around".
Launching the rally against youth violence in the Harrow Road on Saturday March 5th , Karen welcomed the parents and voluntary groups coming together under the banner ‘It takes a...
40 students from the City of Westminster College joined Karen for a discussion about the impact of the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. Top of their list of concerns was how they would be able to afford to travel to college in future. Many chose City of Westminster because it offers specialist courses not available elsewhere, which would prepare them for university. Others said they made a deliberate decision to break away from schoolfriends who were not supporting their efforts to get on in education.
40 students from the City of Westminster College joined Karen for a discussion about the impact of the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance. Top of their list of concerns...
Karen criticised the failure to consult and engage with parents using Westminster Children's Centres at a packed meeting at the Stowe club last week. Around a 100 parents attended, only to find no Majority Councillors there to explain their planned cuts, no figures and no hard information about what Westminster Council is planning. Parents told powerful stories about how the outreach, drop-in and other services at the network of Children's Centres had changed their own and their children's family lives. What kind of false economy is it to cut these services and leave parents adrift?
Karen criticised the failure to consult and engage with parents using Westminster Children's Centres at a packed meeting at the Stowe club last week. Around a 100 parents attended, only...
Westminster's Commander of Police has assured Karen that there will be no ‘major changes' to Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams, after several months in which the vision of the Met police service for SNTs has been unclear. Karen questioned plans to merge wards under a reduced number of sergeants, arguing that this would risk losing the unique local knowledge and leadership which has helped make Safer Neighbourhood Teams successful. However, new information indicating an overall loss of 28,000 staff from the police service could mean throwing everything back in the air.
Westminster's Commander of Police has assured Karen that there will be no ‘major changes' to Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams, after several months in which the vision of the Met police...
The winning idea at the ‘Dragon's Den' style contest for best community initiative last Friday night was for a series of ‘Strictly' -styled dance classes, pitched at older residents but with a specific aim of promoting inter-generational involvement. The hoped for outcomes? Older people will have an enjoyable local activity (and useful exercise) and, because young people are involved too, their fear of teenagers might be reduced. The team putting this forward? A group of exactly those teenagers from whom too many people shrink when encountered on a dark evening on a street corner.
The young men who designed this project and the other entries ( classes for parents and children to ease the problems of secondary school transfer and help parents deal with adolescence, and a community sports and talent festival), have been working with the Brathay project at the Avenues Youth Club. In some cases they will themselves have been at risk of being drawn into gang or criminal activity. They will certainly be aware of it, for there have been simmering tensions over recent months, and a series of clashes, between what we will call, for want of a better description, ‘gangs' in Westminster, Brent and Ladbroke Grove. Yet on Friday night at the Avenues they demonstrated a degree of commitment, civic mindedness and self-awareness that would be hard to find in many more traditional corners of the community.
Theirs is no easy path. They are very aware of being demonised and labelled as ‘thugs'. Yet some have indeed been in trouble or on the fringes of it and they are painfully aware of how tough the streets and estates can be, even in a place like Westminster. Many have lived young lives of unbelievable hardship. Relationships with the police are often fraught- though an exception is often made for local Safer Neighbourhood Team police, who know and engage with them as individuals not as faceless group members. Quick fixes are thin on the ground.
Projects such as Brathay, and Working with Men, and the youth workers operating out of clubs like the Avenues, Stowe Club, Fourth Feathers, Amberlety, Paddington Boys Club, London Tigers and others are doing extraordinary work in a difficult environment and with youngsters who are at once both challenging and full of potential.
At a time when the ‘postcode' tensions between neighbourhoods seem to be hardening, when too many young people have suffered and even died on London streets in recent years, axing these youth projects is simply insane. Yet the axe is what many of them face, even though what is cheese-pared away from youth work may end up being spent many times over down the line in the criminal justice system. What has been built so carefully over recent years through these activities and a slow improvement in sports, neighbourhood management and more, could be swept away in weeks leaving us worse than where we started. Youth work is a soft target for cuts but we may all, and not just the inspirational teenagers who worked so hard to present their ideas to us last week, regret the pennies saved and the pounds- or something worse than pounds- which will be spent as a result.
The winning idea at the ‘Dragon's Den' style contest for best community initiative last Friday night was for a series of ‘Strictly' -styled dance classes, pitched at older residents but...
Floating Classroom is through to the final of the People's Millions Competition.
The group have applied for £45, 000 to develop and deliver four single week filmmaking workshops, called On the Waterfront, for schools in four Wards in Westminster North. Participants will be asked to research the history of the canal and their local neighbourhood, digging up the wealth of local stories and discovering for themselves how our part of London has changed over time. They will then develop short films based on these histories in which they will gain the chance to tackle all aspects of the filmmaking process.
To win Floating Classroom must win a public vote. The voting day is Tuesday 23rd November - phone lines will be open from 9am to midnight and a short film about On the Waterfront will be broadcast on ITV London Tonight between 6.00 - 6.30pm on Tuesday 23rd November.
Details are available at www.peoplesmillions.org.uk . The winner will be announced on 24th November.
Floating Classroom needs as many supporters as possible to spread the word about the project and vote for them. They are on facebook (Floating Classroom), on Twitter and on Flickr.
Floating Classroom is through to the final of the People's Millions Competition. The group have applied for £45, 000 to develop and deliver four single week filmmaking workshops, called On...