Karen Buck

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

News

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We wrote to all parties with an interest in the land requesting that the unauthorised use cease within 28 days. That timescale has now passed and the unauthorised use has not ceased. I have drafted an enforcement notice report which is currently being checked by our Legal Services department. Once agreed, Legal Services will be instructed to serve the notice requiring the unauthorised use to cease. It is not possible for the notice to require the public house use to re - open,  although that remains its lawful use, in my opinion. There will be a right of appeal against the notice, and I would expect the freeholder and/or tenant to challenge the notice.

An application for a certificate of lawfulness for an existing use has recently been received (ref: 15/05273/CLEUD), claiming that the current use of the site is lawful. Nathan Barrett is the Area Planning Officer dealing with the application in Claragh's absence - I have copied him in on this email should you need to contact him with any queries regarding that application. Again, the applicant will have a right of appeal if the application is refused. This application relies purely on legal arguments, and as such, comments are not normally invited from members of the public. That said, the application documents are publicly available on our website, where comments can also be submitted.

I believe the ACV status of the building will remain intact for 5 years from the date it was listed (February 2020). However, I am awaiting confirmation of this from Legal Services.

WCC response on the Star Pub

We wrote to all parties with an interest in the land requesting that the unauthorised use cease within 28 days. That timescale has now passed and the unauthorised use has...

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Thank you for contacting me recently regarding neonicotinoid pesticides and bees.

This is an issue with which I have been involved for several years and which concerns me greatly.

I appreciate the increased amount of correspondence from constituents which shows growing public awareness about declining bee numbers and the impact this could have on food production, the economy and our countryside. 

As I am sure you are aware, the EU Commission announced in April 2013 that it would restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to crops that are not attractive to bees and other pollinators for two years after the European Food Safety Authority concluded that three commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides posed an unacceptable danger to bees. I support the current EU moratorium on the use of the three neonicotinoid pesticides.

The Coalition Government opposed the European ban on neonicotinoids but the decision to enforce the ban was taken by the Commission after a qualified majority could not be reached amongst member states. 

As you know, it has recently been reported that the National Farmers Union (NFU) has applied for the ban on neonicotinoids to be lifted this autumn to allow these chemicals to be sprayed on rapeseed in order to help prevent crop damage.

I believe the Government need to reject the calls from the NFU to lift the ban to allow for the effect to be properly analysed. It is important to take a science-led approach to the use of pesticides and to consider how best to support farmers, to protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators.

I also believe that the Coalition Government's 10-year national pollinator strategy for bees and other pollinators, which was published in November 2014, did not go far enough. It does not, for example, tackle habitat destruction, damaging farming practices, bad planning decisions and neonicotinoid use, which are the primary causes of pollinator decline.

I hope the current Government listen to the concerns that have been raised about this issue and I can assure you that will continue to follow developments closely and fight for the protection of our natural environment.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. 

Kind regards,

Karen Buck MP

My response on the bees issue

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding neonicotinoid pesticides and bees. This is an issue with which I have been involved for several years and which concerns me greatly. I...

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I am extremely sorry that due to pressure of other Parliamentary business I was unable to take part in the rally/lobby but I can promise my continued support for this crucial campaign.

I agree that tackling climate change is an environmental and economic necessity and the most important thing we must do for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. I also appreciate that the effects of climate change hit the poorest hardest and that eradicating global poverty will only be possible if we tackle climate change.

We must, therefore, have a strong global agreement at the UN Climate Summit in Paris that sets ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions and has a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century.

Climate change should also be a key priority for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the Millennium Development Goals in September. It is very disappointing that the current Government does not support the inclusion of climate change as a standalone goal in the SDGs but I hope there is still time for the Government to reconsider this.

The previous Labour Government had a good record on international development and climate change and I believe the current Government should be doing more to support a low-carbon economy here in the UK and to push for more ambition internationally. The last Labour Government introduced the Climate Change Act, which enshrined the world's first legally binding emissions reduction targets. UK Carbon Budgets - enshrined under this Act - already require deeper cuts in emissions than those currently proposed by the European Union and I would like to see the Government work with other European governments to pursue more ambitious targets.

Domestically, I believe we need an additional legally binding target to take the carbon out of our electricity supply by 2030. I am also concerned that the Government's plans to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms shows a lack of commitment to tackling climate change at home and may lead to higher bills for consumers in future. The transition to a low carbon economy is a huge opportunity with the potential to create jobs and growth but I believe the Government's mixed messages and failing policies have led to the UK falling behind with investment in green growth.

I believe the UK Government must show leadership on clean energy at home and show international leadership, especially in Europe, to push for ambitious emissions targets for all countries, strengthened every five years on the basis of a scientific assessment of progress made towards limiting a global temperature rise to below 2°C. I therefore supported a House of Commons motion tabled by my Shadow Frontbench colleagues on 10 June which called on the Government to push for more action on climate change. The motion was passed without a vote.

I hope that the Government takes note of the lobby and will push for an ambitious deal in Paris and I can assure you I will continue to press the Government to support a low-carbon economy in the UK and to push for the best possible global deal on reducing emissions including steps to ensure richer countries provide support to poorer nations in combating climate change.

Kind regards

Karen Buck MP

My response to the Climate Change Lobby

  I am extremely sorry that due to pressure of other Parliamentary business I was unable to take part in the rally/lobby but I can promise my continued support for...

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With regard to the proposal to find government time for a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act. I share the appreciation of many of my constituents for the protection of the British countryside and believe that we need to do more to support rural community life.

That is why I believe the Government should prioritise the wider issues affecting rural communities such as transport, low wages, the shortage of affordable housing, improving infrastructure and protecting vital public services.

I know from what has amounted to thousands of e-mails and letters I have received over the years that there are strongly held views on both sides regarding the Hunting Act (although a substantial majority of those who have contacted me have always been firmly for the ban/against repeal). I voted for the ban when this came before Parliament a decade ago, on the basis of the animal welfare argument, and have heard nothing to change my mind on the matter since.

As you know, there has been speculation that the current Government may soon schedule a debate and vote on repealing the Hunting Act, although no date has yet been announced and it has not featured in the Queen’s Speech. However, Liz Truss MP did confirm for the government that such a vote would be taking place at some point in the Parliament.

I will, of course, continue to listen to the views raised by all constituents on this issue and how we can do more to support rural communities. I cannot, however support repealing the Hunting Act nor the continuation of the programme of culling badgers in a vane and scientifically discredited attempt to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis

Kind regards

Karen Buck MP

My response on the retention of The Hunting Ban

With regard to the proposal to find government time for a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act. I share the appreciation of many of my constituents for the protection...

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I am appalled by what has been trailed for next week’s budget regarding £12billion of cuts to tax credits and disability benefits. If George Osborne cuts taxes for the highest earners –those earning £150,000 and more- at the same time, this will be even more shocking.

I believe that tax credits have been a force for good- helping to ensure that ‘work pays’ and making a substantial difference to the income of low earners and (especially) families with children. There are 607,000 London households who get some tax credit- 67% of them in work.

Slashing tax credits will reduce the living standards of millions of people and it will hurt children the most. As it is, there are 500,000 more children living in absolute poverty in this country compared with 2010- and progress on reducing ‘relative’ poverty has stalled. For the first time, the number of households in poverty where someone is in work has exceeded poverty in workless households. This is shameful.

Of course, we all agree that it would be good if employers raised wages, so fewer people needed to top up their incomes with tax credits. The Labour government brought in the Minimum wage so that there was a floor beneath which wages couldn’t fall, and I have been a strong campaigner for the London ‘Living Wage’. Yet the truth is the number of Londoners earning below the Living wage has actually gone up, not down- more people are low paid!

If the Conservatives cut tax credits by up to £5billion, as has been predicted, the National Minimum wage would need to jump by 25% overnight to fill the gap. Can anyone see that happening?

I can assure you I will do all I can to oppose any measures which take money away from low income working people and those who need help, whilst continuing to campaign for better pay and measures like cheaper childcare to support working parents. I believe very strongly that those who can work should do so, but wages should be fair and government should do what it can to support those who need support.

Kind regards

Karen Buck MP

My response on Tax Credits

I am appalled by what has been trailed for next week’s budget regarding £12billion of cuts to tax credits and disability benefits. If George Osborne cuts taxes for the highest...

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Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to add my voice to those urging the Planning Inspectorate to permit a public inquiry into the recent events involving the unauthorised demolition of the Carlton Tavern, in Carlton Vale, Maida Vale. The action taken by the building’s owners, CLTX Ltd, following Westminster Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for its re-building, has caused shock and outrage in the local community, and touched a nerve much more widely.

The Carlton Tavern has been an important local feature within this area for almost a century, and was, as we know, being recommended for listing by Historic England. Its location- at the entrance to Paddington Recreation ground- demands that the building be maintained or adapted sympathetically and in line with the Council’s planning policy. It is wholly unacceptable that a develop can be permitted to flout the rules as CLTX has done- and even more so when the flouting was accompanied by such radical and destructive action as overnight (semi)demolition.  Residents, and those following the story of pub closures and the development of similar buildings in high-value areas, will be seeking reassurance that such actions are not permissible and redress can be obtained. There is a widespread belief (whether justified or not) that the ‘developer pound’ can over-ride the community interest, and it is essential that trust in due process must be restored and seen to be- in public. There is no doubt that the strength of public feeling and wide interest in what happens demands that the appeal should not be a paper exercise.

I look forward to the confirmation of your decision.

Kind regards

Karen Buck MP

Carlton Tavern Maida Vale - request for a public inquiry

    Dear Sir or Madam, I write to add my voice to those urging the Planning Inspectorate to permit a public inquiry into the recent events involving the unauthorised...

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One of the many lovely conversations I had on polling day was with a group of women on the way to vote in the bright sunshine. “It’s been so nice to see lots of neighbours” they said. “It’s been like a social event”. And that is something we should be properly proud of. Even if the national result was far from being what I hoped for, we should all celebrate the fact that we can exercise a democratic choice in peace and freedom, especially when that right is denied to so many millions. Democracy also relies on all those people putting themselves up as candidates, often at considerable personal cost, and the volunteers from all parties who do the unsung and unglamorous work of canvassing, leafleting and stuffing envelopes. It may not be fashionable to celebrate the business of politics and those who take part in ii, opponents as well as supporters, but I do.

So- the result. Locally, I was honoured to be re-elected after a closely fought campaign. Westminster North is a wonderful, fascinating area, but it is also an area of extremes, and it tends not to have large numbers of swing voters. I knew the outcome would still be close, and so it proved. Now my task will be to do my best for the residents whilst managing the reality of working with a Conservative Council, Conservative Mayor and Conservative government. I’ve been campaigning on ‘quality of life issues’, like the impact of the growing short let economy on residential areas, mega-basement excavations; defending essential public services like the NHS and care for elderly people, Neighbourhood policing and Children’s Centres, and helping people in housing need. All this will continue. Much of it is likely to become harder still as further deep spending cuts bite. I am lucky to have an excellent team of local Labour councillors and we will be doing our very best for every part of the constituency. However, there are also thousands of residents who are part of the fabric of the community, involved in schools, residents associations, faith groups and not involved in party politics. I want to reach out to them too, and work with them in responding to the challenges we face.

Nationally, we need to come to terms with what was a very bad defeat- and worse for being unanticipated.  It is essential that we have an honest and rigorous debate about our campaign, our messages and our policies, which also recognises that different factors came into play in different parts of the country. What happened in Scotland was very different to what happened in some of the English towns, even after allowing for the obvious truth that many English voters were clearly also reacting to the surge of Scottish nationalism. We also never managed to overcome the fact that we were blamed for the global economic crash, and for spending too much before it, even though the Conservatives were backing our spending plans and calling for less financial regulation not more. Yet there was no single cause and therefore no single prescription for the future, and we must make sure that we are open and inclusive in our debates.

Looking forward, it is still true that a Labour politics which embraces aspiration and opportunity is entirely consistent with a commitment to quality public services and a decent social safety net, a healthy economy and a strong sense of national and cultural identity. Indeed, I would argue that we can’t have any of these without the others. Ed Miliband quite rightly put fairness and inequality at the heart of his vision and that perspective must not be lost either.  The desire for a better life is not owned by any one sector of society, by any one income group, residents in any one category of tenure, any one ethnic group- aspiration is built into everyone’s dreams, for themselves and their children. We must show we understand this and shape that understanding into specific policies and messages for the next election- responding to people’s need for a decent, affordable home, a clean, safe environment, fair access to educational and work opportunities and the means to make a reasonable living, efficient transport…

In the meantime, we face a fight for London next year, one of the fiercest-fought Parliamentary sessions for many years and all the risks of the coming European referendum. Time to get on with it.

My article for the West End Extra

One of the many lovely conversations I had on polling day was with a group of women on the way to vote in the bright sunshine. “It’s been so nice...

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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

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... Read more

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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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