Karen Buck MP

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Past Issues

Header.jpg

February 2017 E-Newsletter

Contents

Leaving the EU
Child refugees
School funding
The ‘gig’ economy
Housing and the Homelessness Reduction Bill
Crime and policing

Local round up

Short lets
Please help save our youth services
Church Street
Leaseholder advice
St John’s Wood issues
Porchester Spa
Councillor reports
(…there’s always lots more I don’t have room for…do ask if there is something you are interested in)

Like me on Facebook Fbook.png   Follow me on Twitter tbird.png


Leaving the EU

Brexit.jpg

The last few weeks in Parliament have, of course, been dominated by Europe and the short Bill to trigger Article 50 and start the process of negotiating our departure.

I voted against triggering Article 50. I am very aware of the arguments in favour most specifically, the outcome of the referendum. I am also conscious that even in Westminster, an area which voted heavily for ‘remain’, 1 in 3 of those taking part voted ‘leave’. It is impossible to please everyone. However, I could not ultimately support entering the process with no meaningful way of saying ‘no’ to a final deal that is not in our interests. Here is the statement I sent to the hundreds of constituents who contacted me before the ‘2nd reading’ debate. 

Last night I voted against the trigger for Article 50.  I did not find this an easy decision, since it involved balancing two very fundamental principles-respect for the majority decision of those voting in last year’s referendum, and what I believe to be in the best interests of the country. There is, unfortunately, no way to meet everyone’s expectations - 24,000 people voted ‘Leave’ in Westminster, even though the large majority (54,000) voted remain, and there are others who voted remain but who now believe we need to deliver on the outcome. I am grateful to the many hundreds of people who have written to me in the last week alone, and I have reflected on the range of views expressed. I am also very conscious of the fact that Westminster has the highest number of resident European citizens anywhere in the country, and I have heard about the potential impact on their lives, families and businesses. But ultimately my colleagues and I have to exercise our judgement as to what is in the national interest. As I have previously argued, the ‘Leave’ was certainly a point of departure - what it did not provide was a destination upon which most people could agree.

In the final analysis, I feared that voting for Article 50 now commits us to Brexit in two years’ time with no idea as to the shape of the deal and absolutely no guarantee that we will be able to say no to what is on offer if it is not good for the country.  A good deal may be possible, and it is in all our interests to ensure this is the case, but we could be about to commit this country to a path which will leave us weakened and damaged. We are effectively being asked to sign up to the unknown, on whatever terms the government agrees, or risk not having a deal and defaulting to WTO rules, which could have disastrous consequences for jobs.

During the coming ‘committee’ stage of the Bill, I will consider and support any amendments which secure a proper choice on the final deal, in the hope that improvements can be made. I will also support amendments that aim to ensure that the negotiations secure the protections – environmental and consumer protection, employee rights and so on- which are essential to a decent society. It is vital that future trade deals with Europe or other countries do not lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ on any of these issues. I don’t believe this is what the country voted for, and I don’t believe it is in the interests of my constituents.

During the short ‘Committee stage’ of the Bill a number of amendments were put forward and voted on - all of them were defeated by the Government. They included a commitment to deliver the promised ‘£350m a week for the NHS’, which featured heavily in the ‘Leave’ campaign, the cost of leaving the single market, and parliamentary oversight of the deal the Government secures.

Together with Harriet Harman MP, I backed an amendment to the Article 50 Bill guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in this country. This was in line with our report from our Select Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights. (It is here, in case you missed it.)

EU_citizens.jpg


Child refugees

Home_Office.jpg

I was delighted when Lord Dubs, himself a child refugee from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, won Government backing for a scheme to help up to 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children last year. So far, 350 children have been admitted, but last week the Government chose the day of the Brexit vote to bring out a written statement ending the admissions. We forced the Home Secretary to come to Parliament to answer questions and, as there are now once again children with families in the UK who are on their own in Europe and in a desperate situation. This is what I asked: 

Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

French centres are closing, and there are children in Dunkirk—in today’s freezing weather—who have families in this country and were hoping to be considered. Will their needs be assessed if the Dubs scheme is not closed? If not, what does the Home Secretary expect will happen to them?

Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The French have transferred the young people—indeed, all the people—from the Calais camp to centres, where they were given beds and food, so that their applications for asylum could be considered. The hon. Lady is right that some camps are now beginning to form in northern France. I am in constant touch with my French counterparts, and we are helping them with money, support and advice to ensure that another camp like that does not emerge. The French are committed, and they have a responsibility to allow the people there to apply for asylum in France, which is where that should happen. We will continue to monitor where we can help and act on the Dublin arrangements.

There is now a petition calling for the Government to fulfil the promise made to Lord Dubs, should you want to sign:

petition.parliament.uk/petitions/183921


Raising cuts in schools funding in Parliament

KB4.jpg

London schools face a double whammy. First, a new funding formula is being brought in which has the effect of moving more money away from London and the cities to English counties. Then, the general squeeze on public spending will take £3 billion out of the schools budget in the next couple of years, while costs rise. The effect of the funding formula varies between Westminster schools, with some gaining and some losing, but all will be hit by the cash squeeze on top.  This is estimated  to amount to just over £10 million locally, or the equivalent of £562 per pupil.

Some of the schools facing the worst pressures (combining the impact of the formula changes with the cash freeze and rising costs) include:

Hallfield -£162,000 (6%)
St Luke’s  - £153,000 (13%)
Essendine  - £149,000 (7%)
St James+St John - £134,000 (13%)
Barrow Hill - £112,000 (10%)
St Stephen’s - £91,000 (9%)
Wilberforce - £87,000 (5%)
St Mary of the Angels - £79,000 (6%)
St Saviours - £76,000 (8%)
Robinsfield  - £74,000 (8%)
Christchurch Bentinck - £73,000 (6%)
Queen’s Park - £59,000 (4%)
St Augustine’s - £59,000 (5%)
St Edwards - £51,000 (3%)
Our Lady of Dolours - £41,000 (35)
George Eliot - £225,000 (11%)
Mary Magdalene’s - £9,000 (1%)
Westminster Academy - £1,000,018 (14%)
Paddington Academy - £873,000 (13%)
St George’s - £770,000 (14%)
Quintin Kynaston - £665,000 (9%)
St Augustine’s - £449,000 (9%)
Ark King Solomon - £443,000 (9%)

Other schools just outside the constituency are also hit, with Hampden Gurney and St Mary’s Bryanston Square losing 10% each, and schools in Kensington and Chelsea face even steeper cuts.

I am deeply concerned about this, as Westminster schools have been transformed over the last 15 years, with London schools as a whole moving from being the worst performing to the highest performing. I introduced a debate in Parliament on this issue in early February. You can read this and the Minister’s response here.


Self-employment and the ‘gig economy’

Work.jpg

My Select Committee (Work & Pensions) is carrying out an inquiry into self-employment and the new ‘gig economy’- the good side and the bad. I would be really interested in hearing views from constituents - in confidence. Self-employment can be a great experience with lots of flexibility, but some companies seem to use it as a means of avoiding their duties to their employees, as we have seen in some recent court cases. How should we best support self-employed workers and protect them from abuses? What is the role of the tax and social security system? How can we make sure that people are helped to protect their long-term interests, such as by saving for a pension? If you have thoughts or experiences on this topic, I would love to hear from you. You can find out more about our Committee Inquiry here.


Housing and the Homelessness Reduction Bill

Lots of people have been writing to me about the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which I supported and served on the Committee for. Homelessness has risen by a third since 2010, and rough sleeping has doubled, yet so many people are turned away by Councils and get no help at all. You can read my speech from the final Commons stages of the Bill here.

As we are all to aware, housing support is still being cut, and the number of ‘social rented’ homes is expected to fall by 120,000 over the next few years as more and more properties are sold off. I asked the Minister about this:

Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

Constituencies such as mine will be stripped of desperately needed social housing by the proposals in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 for the forced sale of high-value properties. In the spirit of what the right hon. Gentleman is saying today and the White Paper, can he confirm that he will no longer proceed with that policy?

Sajid Javid The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I cannot confirm that, because we are committed to allowing people who live in housing association homes the right to buy. We have started a process of pilots, as I think the hon. Lady will be aware; some 3,000 homes, I think, are involved in that. Once that is complete, we will decide how exactly to take the policy forward.

We should be building more secure affordable homes and ending the policy of selling yet more off!

Back in Westminster, the situation is so bad that the Council is introducing a new policy which could mean local people seeking help as homeless could be sent to private accommodation as far away as Coventry (more details here).

and is if that isn’t bad enough, here are the latest figures for the number of over-crowded households in the borough:

 

Currently occupying

Additional Bedroom Required

Studio

1-bed

2-bed

3+ bed

Total

3

8

35

15

2

60

2

20

36

41

16

113

1

347

392

70

2

811

Total

375

463

126

20

984

My office, councillors, local advice agencies and lawyers where necessary will fight to help people as best we can, and to challenge bad decisions by the Council, so the important thing is to get help as early as possible, but the situation is very grim.


Crime and policing

I met Westminster’s Borough Commander last week to discuss issues such as the future of Paddington Green police station, proposed changes to the borough command structure, gangs and serious youth violence, Safer Neighbourhood policing and making sure we have an accurate picture of hate crime.

The good news is that the Mayor is putting more police on to the front line, strengthening Safer Neighbourhood Teams after years of them being run down, and ‘back room’ operation costs are being cut to free up resources.

However, there is less and less money available for policing. Since 2010, the Met budget has been squeezed by £600m - but there is still another £400m of cuts to come. There has been a long term decline in crime over the last twenty years, which is very welcome, but some trends (gun crime and hate crime) are less positive, and the terror threat remains real. You can see the most recent figures here

The Mayor is now consulting on his first Crime and Policing Plan for London, with consultation closing on March 2nd. There is still time for you to have your say:

Khan.jpg

As well as ensuring there are clear standards of service the public can expect from the police and the criminal justice service, the Mayor has identified three new London-wide commitments:

  • keeping children and young people safe
  • tackling violence against women and girls
  • and standing together against extremism, hatred and intolerance

The draft Policing and Crime strategy includes measures to tackle these issues, as well as plans to crack down on knife crime and improve victims services.

www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/draft_police_and_crime_plan_for_london_2017-2021_-_consultation_document.pdf

Tell us what you think

We want to encourage views from communities and individuals across London. You can let us know what you think of our draft Police and Crime Plan in a few ways:

Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime
City Hall
The Queens Walk
London SE1 2AA

This consultation ends on 2 March.


Local Round-Up

Short Lets

AirBnB.png

The expansion of the short let industry continues to generate controversy, with evidence that too many lettings are in breach of the law and are reducing the availability of homes for longer-term rent. I contributed to the BBC London ‘Inside Out’ programme investigating this issue - here’s their news summary of their findings. 


Future of the Stowe Club (and you can help the Avenues Club too)

Stowe_Club.jpg

I have written before about how Westminster Council have pulled all funding from local youth services - a measure I think is deeply damaging for young people and with potentially serious consequences.

Now the Stowe Youth Club on Harrow Road is being forced to close almost all its services for local young people and lay off its hugely dedicated and experienced staff. The Stowe Centre is a vital facility in Westbourne Ward and is historically a place where young people from the Warwick, Brindley, Amberley Estates and beyond have come to get a break from tough home lives, and to take part in activities or just simply have some space. It was once the home to one of London’s most famous youth football training grounds, known for producing stars such as 1980’s Liverpool legend John Barnes. It was also the home of The Cut magazine, written and produced by local young people and created the hit YouTube series Chicken Shop Date as well as a host of other exciting projects. So as from 1st April the Stowe Centre will only be able to provide a replacement one night a week session for 11-19 year olds. This will be nothing near to what used to be provided and is a massive blow to the community and life choices of the young people in the area.

A new petition has been started calling on Westminster City Council to restore funding to the Stowe Club so that valuable services to young people can continue. You can sign here.

Meanwhile, the Avenues Youth club, serving Queen’s Park, is also surviving on a shoestring without Council help. They are holding a fund-raising dinner on March 23rd, so if you feel like contributing to a vital service, please help!

Here are the details.


Church Street

Ward Councillors and I held a ‘drop in’ in Church Street in January, and in addition to the usual range of problems, I was disturbed to hear so many residents asking questions about what has happened to the ‘Church Street regeneration’, which was balloted on back in 2013! In fact, the whole programme has been plagued by delays and changes, and it now seems that Westminster are looking at a whole new scheme for the area (and maybe even beyond the original boundaries) but are staying very vague about the details. I sent a long list of questions to the Council and was only told this:

As regards your other specific questions no decisions have been or will be taken on the regeneration before extensive further consultation with resident groups. We are trying to make sure we discuss ideas with residents at the appropriate time in the process so that ideas are tested with people but that we can also answer their detailed questions - this is always difficult to manage. The focus of the master plan will absolutely be how to deliver and manage the development works to mitigate the impacts of the inevitable disruption during the works.  The master planning team have a consultation specialist in the team to organise the next round of consultation and engagement. There will also be some targeted discussions with groups of residents and stakeholders to discuss proposals for specific areas of the ward. All of the questions you’ve laid out in detail will be answered as part of the draft master plan. I would like to take a moment to address the concerns about blocks being reconsidered – as part of our due diligence in producing a comprehensive master plan, the team are considering all potential development sites and how they relate to each other to ensure that we can adequately answer questions on the implications of the options taken forward – for example, quantifying the number of units a site could hold and considering this in the context of resident views, the number of leaseholders and deliverability.

Of course it is important not to let rumours run ahead of actual plans. However, too many residents have put up with a combination of uncertainty and neglect for the last four years and they deserve to know what is happening to their homes and communities. It is not as if Westminster haven’t spent a fortune on consultation already!


Support for leaseholders

LEASE.png

Last week saw the fifth of my (now regular) free advice sessions for private and council leaseholders, led by lawyers from the LEASE team (the Government’s Leasehold Advise service).  With Major Works issues affecting lessees across Westminster, issues around lease extensions now coming up, and many private blocks having issues with managing agents, access to information and queries about charges, these sessions are always full! Please let me know if you want to be on the list to be informed about the next one. Meanwhile, the LEASE website is a good resource to start off with.


My update on St John’s Wood issues

Last month Transport for London issued their response to the consultation on the proposed north-south cycle superhighway - a matter which is of huge interest to St John’s Wood residents, and on which I have had a series of meetings over the last year. (The full document can be found online

In summary, TFL say that ‘ Having considered all responses to consultation, they intend to proceed to the next stage, namely full engineering design (‘detailed design’), of the majority of the proposals outlined in the CS11 consultation. However, they will be doing further work on the proposals for Regent’s Park before deciding on a way forward for this section of the route. A number of changes have been made in response to the original consultation, such as at the Swiss Cottage and Avenue Road junctions. An assurance has been given that the park gate closures originally proposed will not happen until after other changes have been made (such as at Swiss Cottage) so there can be a proper assessment of other ways to moderate traffic impact inside the park. At meetings I have attended, the gate closures were the main bone of contention and there was a strong wish that other ways of claiming traffic in the park be considered, so I had hoped this was a positive statement. However, I am aware that fears remain as to the possibility of congestion and rat-running north of the park if the Swiss Cottage proposals go ahead, and it is essential that an open dialogue continues to ensure these concerns are heard and responded to.

Not entirely unrelated is the rising concern about poor air quality in London - an issue I have been raising for many years, with particular reference to the dangers posed to children in Westminster schools. It is absolutely right that tackling this public health hazard and also deeply worrying that pollution levels in London earlier this month were above those of notoriously smog-ridden Beijing. Inner London boroughs like Westminster and Camden are particularly hard hit, with air pollution increasingly understood to be a factor in a number of serious health problems - and not only breathing conditions.

One local measure that is very welcome is adding Edgware Road (Kilburn to Maida Vale) to the growing list of Low emission bus zones, announced earlier this month. This means deploying the greenest buses on the capital’s most polluted routes to cut harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The zones are expected to reduce NOx emissions from buses along the routes by around 84 per cent. They form part of a package of measures to tackle London’s air, with major plans set to be implemented in 2017 to tackle the dirtiest vehicles.

It was wonderful to see so many St John’s Wood’s residents turn up to a public meeting organised to discuss the future of the local Post Office, following the announcement that Post Office Ltd intend to franchise the service ( which means it being run by a private provider or within another retail outlet). Westminster Council own the building and let the premises to the Post Office, which should potentially make it easier to reach a compromise solution, but it doesn’t seem to! As of the time of writing, however, Post Office Ltd have not announced a formal consultation on their plans, which seems to mean they haven’t identified either a provider or, potentially, the actual site (whether existing or elsewhere). I am in regular contact with them on this issue and will be letting people know as soon as I hear any more.

Planning issues continue to be a major concern in the area, as always. I responded to the recent Government consultation on basements, in support of tighter controls which have the backing of government and can when needed, resist challenges from the very deep-pocketed. Meanwhile I continue my campaigning against breaches of the rules in respect of short-lets, The recent announcement by Airbnb that they will restrict landlords who try and advertise properties outside the 90-day permitted maximum is very welcome, there are loopholes and I am particularly anxious that those looking to exploit them don’t simply switch between various online letting platforms. No one objects at all to owners making some extra money from a letting or exchange but too many short lets can cause real nuisance in an area, costs public money in enforcement and removes much needed homes from the residential stock.

The impact of the fall in government grant to Westminster Council continue to be felt across a number of services, from the libraries to the (now totally withdrawn) youth and play/after-school services. Perhaps most dramatic, in light of the pressures on the NHS which have dominated the news recently, is the impact of cuts in social care out-of-hospital support for the elderly and disabled people. St Mary’s Hospital is not alone in trying to respond to the equivalent of a ward of patients at any one time who could be cared for at home were support available. Westminster Council has cut social care budgets more than almost anywhere else in the country by £35 million (or almost a third of the total budget). This makes no sense at all, and is causing problems to back up into longer waiting lists, cancelled operations and in some areas, reduced access to treatment. We need to have a thorough debate about how we raise the resources to care for our ageing population - for whilst rising life expectancy is a wonderful thing, older people deserve to know there will be good care and adequate pensions.


Winds of change at Porchester Spa…but how welcome are they?

Porchester_Spa.jpg

As a long-time devotee of the Porchester Spa, I am twitching nervously over the planned changes Westminster Council and Everyone Active are proposing. Some refurbishment is clearly necessary, but the worry is that what has been a rather traditional Turkish Bath will lose its unique character.

You can see for yourself (and make comments here.)

There’s also a petition here (it’s quite long, and these are just the first few lines below!)

We, the regular male and female users of the Porchester Spa, are not just a customer base, we are a London-wide, multi-generational, ethnically diverse community and as such we believe Westminster Council has a duty of care towards us and the traditions we represent. The Porchester Spa is the oldest spa in London and several members of our community have been going there for decades. In short, it has been a major feature of their lives.

The architectural plans for major refurbishment of the Porchester Spa include welcome and much-needed renovation but also misconceived changes of use that will be to the detriment of our community.


Looking after our neighbourhoods

Your local ward councillors and I are in a constant battle to improve the quality of life locally, taking up issues from fly-tipping to traffic calming. I’m trying to get the Council to take action against the owners of the Chippenham pub to keep it in good order - it’s a disgrace at the moment, and potentially dangerous (I witnessed a narrow miss when a pane of glass blew out of one of the upper windows). We are pressing for a resolution to the long-standing traffic problems around Chippenham Mews off Harrow Road, dumping where bins were removed on Queen’s Gardens in Bayswater, and lots more. Please do let us know if you would like something raised and we will do out best to help.

Here are some links to the more recent Councillor reports:

Maida Vale Ward

LINK: MAIDA VALE WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – January 2017

Rita.jpg


From Councillor Rita Begum and the Labour Action Team

-

Westbourne Ward

LINK: WESTBOURNE WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – January 2017

David.jpgAdam.jpgPap.jpg

 

From your three Westbourne Labour Councillors David Boothroyd, Adam Hug and Papya Qureshi

-

Harrow Road Ward

LINK: HARROW ROAD WARD LABOUR ACTION REPORT – January 2017

 Harrow_Road_Councillors.jpg

From your Harrow Road Councillors Ruth Bush, Guthrie McKie and Tim Roca

-

Queen’s Park Ward

LINK: QUEEN’S PARK WARD ACTION REPORT – February 2017

Paul.jpgPat.jpgBarry.jpg

From your three Queen’s Park Ward Labour Councillors Paul Dimoldenberg, Patricia McAllister and Barrie Taylor


Thank you for reading and your comments are always welcome.

Sig.jpg


Karen Buck MP

Website: www.karenbuck.org.uk

Promoted by Robert Atkinson on behalf of Karen Buck MP at 4G Shirland Mews, Maida Hill, London, W9 3DY. The information used to supply this email is for the use of Karen Buck and will not be passed on to any third party organisation.

February 2017 E-Newsletter

February 2017 E-Newsletter Contents Leaving the EU Child refugees School funding The ‘gig’ economy Housing and the Homelessness Reduction BillCrime and policing Local round up Short letsPlease help save our...

Header.jpg


January 2017 E-Newsletter

 

Like me on Facebook Fbook.png   Follow me on Twitter tbird.png

 


Contents

In Parliament this month
Winter crisis in the NHS
The Human Rights Committee looks at Brexit
Work and Pensions Committee reports on Defined Benefit Pensions

Local round-up 
Lancaster Gate tube station closure for lift replacements
“Walking the Met” and talking Safer Neighbourhood Policing
London schools lose out from new Government funding
Short-lets- Airbnb announcement welcome, but there’s more to do
City of Westminster College host ‘Crisis’ Christmas homelessness project
Looking for work? There’s a jobs fair at the College on January 25th
Another chance to attend a free ‘LEASE’ advice session for leaseholders
Paddington Festival awards night celebrates local talent
Keep warm this winter

Winter crisis in the NHS

NHS.png

The NHS is experiencing the deepest financial squeeze since it was founded, at a time when a number of pressures are intensifying, specifically the rising number of very elderly people and a dramatic increase in the number of people attending hospital with severe mental health problems. We should of course be celebrating the remarkable increase in life span, but it does mean making sure both health and community-based social care services are in place. And local authority social care has been particularly hard hit as government funding has been falling in recent years. I raised this issue in Parliament, and was rather surprised to hear the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, blame our local council for the problems. 

• Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab)

"The fabulous team at Imperial, St Mary’s in West London are featuring in a television programme this week, and the Chief of Service for Emergency Care is reported as saying:

“We’ve just had our worst 10 days on record. There’s nowhere in the hospital to move anybody. What’s happened in the last two years is the whole system, countrywide, has ground to a halt.”

That is partly because there is more than the equivalent of a ward of patients at any time who cannot move out of the hospital because there is nowhere for them to go. Does the Secretary of State accept that his Government have gone too far in the destruction of local government finance, including for social care and does he accept that next year, despite all the rhetoric, local government finance will go down, not up?"

• Mr Hunt

"First, I would like to thank the staff at Imperial, who, alongside other NHS staff, have done a fantastic job over a very difficult period. I would say to the hon. Lady that 50% of councils have no delayed discharges of care. It is a problem in many hospitals, but there are many areas that are managing to deal with it. I suggest that the local authorities that serve her constituency should look at the other parts of the country that are dealing with this problem."

The Imperial NHS Trust features in a new TV documentary stating this week, and I strongly recommend everyone watch it! You can read the Mirror story about the programme here.


My work in Parliament

The two specialist committees to which I belong have both brought out reports in the last few weeks.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights produced a report on the Human Rights implications of Brexit, which you can read in full here.

Fundamental rights not a bargaining chip for Brexit, says Committee

EU_Vote.jpg

19 December 2016

The Joint Committee on Human Rights report says the Government must not use fundamental rights as a bargaining chip. The Committee calls on the Government to give an undertaking to protect the residency rights of EU nationals in the UK.

While many fundamental rights are underpinned by EU law, the Committee says that it is not clear whether the Government intends to remove any rights which UK citizens currently possess under EU law - and, if so, which rights are under threat. It demands that any future legislation should include safeguards and Parliament should have the opportunity to debate, amend and vote on any proposed changes to fundamental rights.

Residence rights

It is estimated that there are currently 2.9 million EU nationals resident in the UK.

The Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has reportedly described EU nationals in the UK as one of the "main cards" in Brexit negotiations and the Minister for Human Rights, Sir Oliver Heald told the Committee that the Prime Minister was seeking an "early agreement" on the status of UK nationals in Europe and EU nationals in the UK. He confirmed that the Government’s view was that to agree a unilateral position on the issue would not be helpful.

"The Government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip. Moreover, the Government will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as we set out in our Report. The UK Government could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the UK."

The actual position of such individuals is underpinned by the Human Rights Act and will depend on length of residence and other factors, but Government intentions for both UK and EU citizens remain far from clear.

Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), individuals are entitled to respect for their private and family life and home. However, these rights are not absolute and do not provide the same protections as offered by EU law, and restrictions on them can be justified in certain circumstances where they would not be under current EU law.

However, even with restrictions it would not be possible for the Government to establish a rule that would allow the deportation of EU nationals merely on the grounds that they had only been resident for a fixed period of time. Other factors such as family connections and the residence rights of children would be relevant and each case would need to be considered on its own facts.

"In the unlikely and unwelcome event that the Government sought to deport EU nationals there could be the potential for significant, expensive and lengthy litigation leading to considerable legal uncertainty for a prolonged period of time. These cases would have the potential to clog up and overwhelm the court system"

How to protect fundamental rights in the future.

The Committee recommends that the Government should set out a full and detailed list of fundamental rights currently guaranteed by virtue of the UK’s EU membership and what approach it intends to take towards them.


The Work and Pensions Committee has produced two new reports

WPC.jpg

'Support for ex-offenders’ looked at ways of increasing the employability of former prisoners, not least as one means of reducing the estimated £15 billion cost of re-offending. You can read the report here.

'Defined Benefit pension schemes' looked more widely at some of the issues governing these schemes after our inquiry into the collapse of British Homes Stores, and includes a number of recommendations for better regulation and incentives.


Local News round-up 

Lancaster Gate tube station closure for lift replacements

Many local residents were furious about the last-minute nature of the announcement (I have made it VERY clear how annoyed I was about this) and questions were asked as to why TFL couldn’t have kept one lift running at a time rather than close the station entirely, as happened at Caledonian Road. I did pursue this with TFL, but unfortunately it genuinely does not seem to be possible. Here is their full reply:

LG_Tube.png


‘Walking the Met’ and discussing the Mayor’s plan to strengthen Safer Neighbourhood teams

Police_walkabout.png

I joined Paul Reading from the Little Venice Safer Neighbourhood Team and Elizabeth Virgo, Chair of the Little Venice Safer Neighbourhood Panel, for a walk around the ward as part of a wider ‘Walk the Met’ initiative intended to get MPs and others ‘on the beat’. Westminster has lost a third of its police strength in the last few years, and there are further cuts being made to the Met budget, but I very much welcome the Mayor of London’s commitment to boost the local Safer Neighbourhood teams over the course of 2016, so there will be more capacity at the very local level.

The Mayor of London has now issued his A Safer City for all Londoners: Draft Police and Crime Plan for London 2017-202 and the consultation runs until February 23rd. You can find the report here.


Schools funding shake up hits London

London schools got bad news before Christmas when then Government announced a new national funding formula for schools which moves money away from the capital.

More than two-thirds of schools in the city — about 1,500 — face budget cuts, with initial analysis suggesting inner London boroughs would be hit particularly hard. Overall, Westminster has not suffered as much as some other boroughs, but not only do many local children attend schools outside the borough, there will be winners and losers within our area as well.

More schools in London will see reductions in their allocations in 2019-20 compared to all other regions.

A total of 1,536 schools (70 per cent) will receive less funding, followed by 58 per cent of schools in the North West and 53 per cent of schools in the West Midlands. With 70 per cent of London schools set to receive less money, by as much as 3 per cent from 2018/19, there will be considerable concern amongst school leaders about how this can be managed and the possible impact on school standards. While some may argue this is a relatively small amount and schools should be able to absorb this easily, it is unlikely they will be able to do so in addition to the wider budgetary pressures highlighted recently by the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO’s report into the financial sustainability of schools found that schools in England face a £3 billion funding shortfall by 2020 (8 per cent of the current schools block) as a direct result of per pupil funding not increasing with the rate of inflation. In addition schools are facing extra costs including salary increases. 


Airbnb and the short-let industry

AirBnB.png

The rapid growth of the ‘short-let’ sector in London has raised many concerns, from the loss of residential homes to negative impacts on communities finding themselves a virtual extension of the hotel industry. I met with Airbnb representatives (along with the new Leader of Westminster Council, Nickie Aitken and Cllr Heather Acton) just after the company had announced plans to limit property owners from renting out for longer than the permitted maximum of 90 days a year. This announcement is very welcome - but unfortunately there are loopholes, including the scope for those determined to avoid the regulations by switching properties between sites. Our next task, therefore, is to make sure other short-let ‘platforms’ agree to the same measures.


City of Westminster College host the ‘Crisis’ Christmas homelessness project

With the Homelessness Reduction Bill making its way through Parliament (I’m on the Committee), it seemed a good idea to drop in to this year’s ‘Crisis’ Christmas project providing shelter and services to homeless people over the Christmas holiday. City of Westminster College on Paddington Green hosted one of the London centres again this year, and their support was hugely appreciated by Crisis. I talked to some of the amazing volunteers who give up time to cook and serve food, provide advice and offer lots of services, from haircuts to music classes. Rough sleeping has soared in the last few years, for a number of reasons, but every single person has a unique story explaining how they ended up on the streets - to say nothing of the dangers they face there, from the cold and violence.

Hopefully the Homelessness Reduction Bill will provide more support to single people than most currently receive, but we are still waiting to know how much financial support the government will give to make this a reality.


Looking for work? There’s a jobs fair at the College on the 25th

Come along (preferably with your CV...)

Job_Fair.jpg


Places still available at my next free LEASE advice session for leaseholders

LEASE.png

Leaseholder issues are a major concern for many home owners.  If you are having problems with your lease it is important to get good advice quickly.

I have run a series of well attended lessee advice sessions in recent years and I have invited the Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) to put on another local information event to offer free and impartial advice on residential leasehold law to local residents.  You would be very welcome to join me on:

 Saturday 04th February 2017 at 1pm

at

Paddington Arts – 32 Woodfield Road, London, W9 2BE

The afternoon will consist of an introduction to the services LEASE can offer, a general Q&A session and individual appointments with LEASE advisers.  My staff and I will also be on hand to talk through any concerns and refreshments will be provided.

To make the most of the specialist advice available, I would be grateful if you could pre-book a place by emailing my office on buckk@parliament.uk if you would like to attend. Please also state whether you would like a one-to-one appointment (subject to availability). It would also be useful if you would provide a contact telephone number you can be reached on.

 Appointments with specialist LEASE advisers are limited and are therefore available on a first-come first-served basis.


Paddington Festival awards night

Paddington Arts hosted the second awards night for local people whose talent, effort and commitment help make our community

Pad_Fest.png

Here’s Gianni Joseph receiving an award for entrepreneurship from Councillor Dimoldenberg


Keep warm this winter

The Seasonal Health Interventions Network (SHINE) is being rolled out in Westminster. The service is available to any vulnerable London residents. The Westminster offer includes the existing Healthy Homes check which looks at energy use in the home and can access grants for heating and insulation. Please click the link here for more details. 



Thank you for reading and your comments are always welcome.

Sig.jpg

Karen Buck MP

Website: www.karenbuck.org.uk

Promoted by Robert Atkinson on behalf of Karen Buck MP at 4G Shirland Mews, Maida Hill, London, W9 3DY. The information used to supply this email is for the use of Karen Buck and will not be passed on to any third party organisation.

January 2017 E-Newsletter

January 2017 E-Newsletter   Like me on Facebook    Follow me on Twitter    Contents In Parliament this monthWinter crisis in the NHS The Human Rights Committee looks at Brexit Work...

November 2016 E-Newsletter

Like me on Facebook Fbook.png    Follow me on twitter tbird.png


 



Header.jpg
Contents

Europe
This month in Parliament
Homelessness and the Homelessness Reduction Bill
What you have been writing to me about
Social care in crisis
The rise and rise of holiday lets
Franchise threat to St John’s Wood Post Office
Defending our libraries
Westminster amongst the worse councils for families in poverty, new figures show
North Paddington Foodbank is there to help
MPs raise concerns over Business rate hike
==
Local round-up
Meeting our new Safer Neighbourhood police inspector
Visiting the Dutchpot lunch club
Westminster’s Youth MP
In St John’s Wood
Faces in Westminster launch
London Tigers
Still fighting the fly-tippers

==

Where to go for help and advice:

I produced a special newsletter full of information about where to go for help and advice - phone numbers, websites (and opening hours where possible). In case you missed it, here is it again.


Europe

Europe.png

Many of you have been writing to me since the Referendum, and again after the High Court ruling that Parliament must have a say in the ‘Article 50’ decision which formally triggers the process by which we leave the EU.

Great Britain may have voted to leave the EU, but it is increasingly clear that the ‘Leave’ campaign not only misled the public (an £350m a week for the NHS!) but had no plan for the future. I respect the outcome of the vote but it is essential that it is not implemented in a way that inflicts lasting harm. It is unacceptable that months have gone by without any clarification as to the position of EU citizens legally living and working in this country - and even more unacceptable that they have been described as ‘bargaining chips’ in the leave negotiations. It is extraordinary that we are now in real danger of a ‘hard Brexit’, and that the Government are starting the ‘leave’ process by triggering Article 50 without having set out what they want to achieve from the negotiations.  We do not know their position on the single market, on the customs union, on cooperation with our EU partners in dealing with serious crime and terrorism. We do not know if there is a plan for transitional arrangements in March 2019, or if special consideration will be given to the situations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The referendum may have been a mandate to leave, but it was not a mandate saying how or for what. That is what we must be debating, voting on, and if necessary, putting back to the British people.

Here’s the fuller reply I have been sending.


This month in Parliament

PG.jpg

Much of the most important work in Parliament goes on in committees, which go through laws line by line, and conducts inquiries into how policies are working. I serve on two - Work and Pensions and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

This summer, the Work and Pensions Select Committee carried out an inquiry into the collapse of British Home Stores, leaving 20,000 pensioners in the dark about their pensions because of a £571m shortfall. Last month we debated our report, urging tough action to be taken by the Pension Regulator in this case and for changes to make sure something like this can never happen again. You can read my speech from that debate here.

Our committee has also published a major report looking at how fairly our system treats people at different stages of life. You can read this report (‘Intergenerational fairness) here.

We also took evidence into the appalling problems inflicted by Concentrix on many thousands of tax credit claimants. Concentrix have now lost their contract with the DWP

My other committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, is currently looking at Human Rights and Business, including such issues as. Whether, and if so what, progress British business has made in carrying out its responsibility to respect human rights? Alongside, whether victims of human rights abuse involving business enterprises within UK jurisdiction have access to effective remedy?


Homelessness and the Homelessness Reduction Bill

HRB.jpg

Homelessness has risen by a third since 2010, and rough sleeping has doubled. Not only is this a cause of much misery, it is a very costly way to support those people who have to be found temporary or emergency accommodation. The Homelessness Reduction Bill is designed to strengthen the role of local councils in preventing homelessness from happening. Although I fear that the deepening housing crisis and cuts to housing support will make things worse rather than better, I still support the changes to the law in this Bill, which should at least improve the level of service for single homeless people. You can read my speech here


What you have been writing to me about

I very much welcome the huge number of e-mails I receive every day on a wide range of subjects, although sometimes the sheer volume means I can’t respond to every individual point. Here are my replies on some of the issues I have had most correspondence about this month,

Funding crisis in the NHS

Animal welfare - protecting puppies and kittens

I have also had many e-mails about the refugee crisis and Britain’s response to the children in the Calais camp. I welcomed the ‘Dubs amendment’ under which the British government was required to accept a number of the unaccompanied children, and have been very concerned at the delays in putting this into practice, even while the camp itself was being demolished. I also raised in Parliament the shocking behaviour of parts of the press, printing photos of individuals and details of where some of the children and young people were likely to be staying in the UK.


Social care in crisis

Despite our ageing population 400,000 fewer people now receive social care than in 2009/10. Leading disability charity the Leonard Cheshire Foundation, produced a web guide to what is happening in every local authority area.

They say that in Westminster 7090 fewer people now get social care than was the case five years ago. You can look up the details and compare with other areas here.


The rise and rise of the ‘Holiday let’ industry

AirBnB.png

Since the Government relaxed the rules on holiday/short lets, lettings through providers like Airbnb have soared. New figures from Westminster Council show an 80% rise in 1 year!  Alongside this, complaints about noise and other problems have also soared, putting extra pressure on council services. I am working with Westminster Council to find a better way to enforce the rules - we don’t want to stop people being free to let their homes for a short period, but we don’t want short-lets to mean residential areas become more like hotels, lose much needed homes or rents are pushed up for longer term residents. I contributed to a piece in the Evening Standard last month, which you can read here.

I’m keen to hear your views, and will be keeping my survey open till the end of the month.


St John’s Wood Post Office

SJW_Post_Office.jpg

The Post Office have announced that they intend to franchise the Crown Post Office to a private provider, as they have done in other areas, in order to cut costs. There are also concerns about whether the present location, owned by the Council, can be maintained for the service.  Local residents have made their views clear, attending a packed public meeting at the end of October. I am urging the Post Office and the Council to find a compromise on the premises and to keep the Post Office as a Crown service in St John’s Wood. Please consider signing the petition, and letting me know your views if you have not already done so.


Westminster makes huge cuts to the Library service

WL.jpg

The Council has produced plans that would cut £750,000 per year from the Westminster Libraries budget and at the heart of these cuts are plans to remove the equivalent of 17 ½ full-time members of staff. Overwhelmingly the roles that would be lost are the qualified librarians whose expertise and passion for reading help make Westminster’s libraries a hugely valued part of our community.

Councillor Adam Hug has said the Council must think again about how to support our vital library services. It could instead look at innovative ways to raise revenue, for example through improved (international) digital access to the council’s treasure trove of rare books and maps in the City Archives. At present there do not seem to be any plans to consult the public about the impact of this major change - something we believe should be a basic requirement before any decision is taken.

In Westminster we’ve seen this story before many times, most notably in our children’s centres where skilled staff were steadily removed through ‘salami-slicing’ cuts and now they provide only a fraction of the vital services that they used to. We will fight to stop our libraries becoming empty shells and instead remain as a vital resource for our community. Please sign the petition here


Westminster amongst the worst councils for families in poverty, new figures show

ECP.jpg

Despite the national image of Westminster- Oxford Street, Westminster Abbey- and despite there being some very wealthy areas, Westminster has always had many people living and working here on very low incomes. High housing costs are a particular problem. Latest figures published this month show just how serious the problem is. Wards such as Church Street, Westbourne and Queen’s Park are most affected. Ways to tackle it include paying the Living Wage (over half of all families in poverty are in work), homes at genuinely affordable rents, reasonable priced child care and support services, like holiday and after-school clubs. Progress is being made on some of these - like the Living Wage- but in other ways we are going backwards.


North Paddington Food Bank


Community_collection_day_for_Paddington_Foodbank.jpg

You can help. On December 10th local councillors and I will join Paddington Food bank for a Christmas collection outside Waitrose in Bayswater. You can come along, you can donate - or support the foodbank directly (and don’t forget that if you know anyone who needs help, to direct them to the Foodbank) as well.

North Paddington food bank

LOCATION & OPENING HOURS

LOCATION

WECH Community Centre, Athens Gardens, W9 3RS

OPEN

Wednesdays 9:30am to 12:30pm

CONTACT

EMAIL

info@npfoodbank.org.uk

TELEPHONE

02072663347


MPs express concern over the impact of a huge Business Rate hike

After the first revaluation for years, next year London’s businesses face a huge rise in Business Rates. With the economy fragile after the Brexit vote, we need to make sure we keep business flourishing, and keeping people in work. I went on the BBC Sunday Politics to talk about this last month, and I was happy to add my name to this letter to the Government, co-ordinated by our new All Party Parliamentary Group for London.

MP_Letter.jpg


Local Round Up


Meeting our new Safer Neighbourhood Police Inspector

I met our new Safer Neighbourhood’s inspector for North Westminster to discuss a number of concerns regarding crime and anti-social behaviour locally. Although the residential areas of the borough are not generally ‘high crime’, crime levels have risen over the last year, and there have been a number of particular areas of concern in recent months. These have included: misuse of fireworks in Church Street; ASB on Hall Place, begging in Queensway/Bayswater, problems with young scooter drivers in Queen’s Park, a spate of incidents affecting the shopkeepers in Fernhead Road, episodes of gang/serious youth violence in different areas, and a rise in hate crimes overall.

Resources remain an issue. Police numbers are well below their 2011 level (we lost 1 in 3 police 2011-2015), and Westminster Council took the decision to turn off the CCTV system this year on cost grounds,  but I welcome the commitment given by Mayor Sadiq Khan to strengthen all the ward Safer Neighbourhood teams over the coming months.

Here are the latest figures - you can look at them in more detail, including local ward level data, here.


Visiting the Dutchpot lunch club

DP.jpg

The Dutchpot club is a recently re-launched lunch club for older residents, based in Ada Court NW8 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I dropped in a couple of weeks ago to meet them, and promised to spread the word, as there is room for more. Here is a link to there website. 


Westminster’s Youth MP

WYMP.jpg

Hamza Taouzzale was elected as this year’s Youth MP for Westminster. It’s been great to do some work with him. Here he is sitting in on one of my advice surgeries to find out a bit more about my job.


St John’s Wood

St_Johns.jpg

I was pleased to be able to join the St John’s Wood Society for their Annual General meeting last month, when once again a lot of discussion centred on concerns about the proposed Cycle Superhighway. I am continuing to lobby Transport for London to try to make sure that measures to encourage cycling and improve cyclists’ safety do not cause major problems with rat-running into residential streets.

I am also grateful to the St John’s Wood Liberal Synagogue for once again hosting my Rosh Hashanah card design competition. It was great to join them for a recent Sabbath service and to give prizes to the children who produced the best designs.


“Faces in Westminster” launch

FW.jpg

Westminster has been home to a large Bangladeshi community for many decades. Church Street councillor Azis Toki and others raised funds for a ‘living history’ book, recording the stories of the men and women who came to London in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It’s a lovely book, full of anecdotes, warm, funny and moving. I was thrilled to host the official launch in Parliament, with lots of the people who featured in the book, and we had a great time.


London Tigers back on home turf for a glittering awards night


LT.jpg

London Tigers started life in Westminster and have now spread to deliver sports and community cohesion projects across London and even beyond. Hundreds of volunteers, cricketers, footballers and more turned up to Porchester Hall to collect their awards for what was a very special occasion this year - their 30th anniversary. It was lovely to be there and to hand out a special achievement award at the end. Congratulations are due to everyone, but perhaps especially to Mesba Ahmed who has been the driving force behind London Tigers since the beginning.


Still fighting the flytippers


FT.jpg

Dumping and fly-tipping are real problems in some areas- such as Hormead Road, Walterton Road, Marban Road and Shirland Road, but mattresses and furniture can appear on the street anywhere. I did a walk around with the Council officers to look at some of the hot spots. Here is their follow up report:

Dear Karen

Please see the comments below regarding recent work carried out under the control and guidance of Hussein Balli our Senior City Inspector. As you are aware we have been carrying out regular patrols in the most problematic areas across the city and to assist in that work additional work was completed ‘out of hours’ to assist in the process.

Residential City Inspectors recently undertook three specific deployments around Big Black Bins & Micro Recycling Centre’s after an increase in complaints from local Councillors and MP Karen Buck. Residential City Inspectors were mobile for these outside of core hours monitoring / enforcement exercises.

The main issues raised were that of household & recycling waste was being deposited illegally on to the public highway around Big Black Bins & Micro Recycling Centre’s. Westminster Residential City Inspectors increased the monitoring of these facilities, looking to gather data and undertake enforcement and education, across a variety of collection periods for both recycling and household waste.

City Inspectors undertook one weekday evening inspection where 17 residential Fixed Penalty Notices were issued for waste offences on the public highway. At these on-street facilities, issues identified were residential household and recycling waste, that had been abandoned [fly-tipped] on the public highway by the Big Black Bins & Micro Recycling facilities, the waste had not been disposed of correctly by residents, who by failing to place their waste into the on-street facilities had been guilty of fly-tipping. None of the Big Black Bins & Micro Recycling facilities were full at time of inspection.

In addition to the increased monitoring, a new educational letter drop has been conducted in the local area’s advising residents of the collection times and alternative waste disposal methods, including that the bulky waste removal service. All Residents have been provided with details via the educational letters distributed of our Environmental Action Line and the Report It function on the Council’s website and advised to report any waste issues accordingly in order that they can be picked up in a timely manner.

www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it

On Saturday 15th October and Sunday 16th October there were 2 planned inspections/operations of the Big Black Bins and Micro Recycling Centre's for the weekend by a team of Residential City Inspectors.

Enforcement figures from Saturday’s waste operation, 29 Residential Fixed Penalties Notices, 2 Commercial Fixed Penalty Notices and 1 Waste transfer notice plus one possible prosecution for Sec 34 offence, City Inspectors will be calling the business in for PACE Interview for abuse of residential facilities on Walterton junction Shirland Road.

Enforcement figures from Sunday’s waste operation, 18 Residential Fixed Penalties Notices, 2 Commercial Fixed Penalty Notices and 1 Waste transfer notice plus one possible prosecution for Sec 34 offence, City Inspectors will be calling the business in for PACE Interview for abuse of residential facilities on Leinster Gardens.

In total 64 Residential Fixed Penalties Notices, 4 Commercial Fixed Penalty Notices, 2 Waste transfer notices and 2 possible prosecutions for Sec 34 waste offenses, PACE Interviews to be undertaken for abuse of residential facilities prior to passing to legal services.


Thank you for reading and your comments are always welcome.

Sig.jpg

Karen Buck MP

Website: www.karenbuck.org.uk

Promoted by Robert Atkinson on behalf of Karen Buck MP at 4G Shirland Mews, Maida Hill, London, W9 3DY. The information used to supply this email is for the use of Karen Buck and will not be passed on to any third party organisation.

November 2016 E-Newsletter

November 2016 E-Newsletter Like me on Facebook     Follow me on twitter    Contents Europe This month in ParliamentHomelessness and the Homelessness Reduction BillWhat you have been writing to me...

Header.jpg

October E-Newsletter 


Contents

New fears about the impact of Short Lets

New inquiry into impact of foreign ownership of London property

Working in Parliament
Brexit

My Select Committee work

What you have been writing to me about recently:
Sustainability and Transformation Plans and the NHS crisis, Dog meat

Local round-up:
The interests of cyclists and residents both need to be looked after as plans develop for CS11 (Cycle Superhighway)
At last! Westminster try out 20mph zones
Helping leaseholders get the right advice
 Join the ‘Maida Hill’ ‘Placecheck’ walkabout on October 8th
Church Street regeneration delays
Hathaway House gets council approval despite objections
Elmfield Way- the struggle to get roads adopted still on-going
 ‘Safer Saltram’ traffic scheme gets under way
Rules on basement excavations finally tightened
Rainbow Children’s Centre under threat
Campaign to save the St John’s Wood Post Office
Santander bike scheme - new site approved in Maida Vale - now sign the petition to extend it to Queens Park
Mark Field and I work with Westminster Business Council to promote apprenticeships
Pub news

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

New fears about the impact of short lets

AirBnB.png

Short lets, through companies such as Airbnb, are a new fact of life for the economy and the holiday industry. There are advantages for both sides and no-one can be against people letting out a spare room for a few weeks or their flat whilst they are away to earn some extra cash. The problem comes when whole neighbourhoods and blocks of flats seem to get turned over to short lets, often bringing all sorts of problems for permanent residents, and commercial owners who let properties in this way all year round to make more money rather than as residential lettings.

Locally, the Council has to employ 6 staff just to help with monitoring and enforcement - they are currently looking at over 1200 properties, with some wards in the borough having 1 in every 20 on a site like Airbnb.

Research just out by the Residential Landlords Association found that London listings on Airbnb have rocketed by more than a quarter in just four months – sparking fears the popularity of the holiday letting site is depriving the city of vital homes to rent. In the four months from February to June 2016 listings were up 27% from 33,715 to 42,646 and the majority of entire properties to let – 61% – were available for more than three months a year, with an average occupancy rate of 89 nights per year.

You can read their full report here

and the Evening Standard article here.

I want people to be free to make use of their own homes in this way BUT it has to be done properly, so neighbours don’t suffer from all the disadvantages of living in a hotel without the support and management a hotel would have. At the same time, we simply can’t afford to have more and more potential homes being turned over to the hospitality industry when we are in the middle of a housing crisis. This means there has to be proper enforcement of the 90 day limit (after which someone has to apply for planning permission), which in turn means making it easier to monitor.


Mayor of London launches new inquiry into scale and impact of foreign ownership of London property

MOL.png

Over the last few years, international investment in London property has helped make sure homes were built when other money had dried up. As the Mayor of London says:

“We welcome investment from around the world in building new homes, including those for first-time buyers. At the same time, as more and more Londoners struggle to get on the property ladder, there are real concerns about the prospect of a surge in the number of homes being bought by overseas investors. We urgently need more transparency around overseas money invested in London property. Londoners need reassuring that dirty money isn’t flooding into our property market, and ministers must now make all property ownership in London transparent so we can see exactly who owns what.”

One key aim of the research will be to shine a light on who is investing and where the money originates from.

Of course there is not only one factor responsible for London’s housing affordability crisis. Yet a recent study by academics at London’s Goldsmiths University found that the influx of cash into the capital’s luxury housing market from the global super-rich was having a wider impact on gentrification across the city.

It discovered that foreign investment at the top end had pushed London’s “traditional elite” residents away from their wealthy enclaves in places such as Mayfair, Chelsea and Hampstead, and created a “trickle down” effect – raising prices beyond the reach of most people in previously cheaper London neighbourhoods.


In Parliament

EU_ref.jpg

Brexit

Westminster voted strongly to remain in the EU, and we have one of the largest populations of EU citizens in the country living here. I continue to push the Government to urgently sort out the situation of EU residents in this country following the referendum. It is clearly unacceptable that people who have been living here lawfully, contributing, working and building businesses should be left in limbo.

On the wider issue of our future relationship with Europe, it is increasingly clear that the Government are hoping to get the best of both worlds by wanting to maintain the trade advantages of the single market without free movement of labour- an option which will almost certainly not be on offer. At the same time, Ministers are clearly willing to risk a ‘hard Brexit’ despite the damage this will do to our economy over the long term. It is deeply worrying that the Chancellor has said Britain can expect “economic turbulence for up to 15 years”!

It is now essential that Parliament gets to have a proper say in the process and that time be committed to proper scrutiny of the proposed EU Repeal bill. Amongst many other things, we have to ensure that key protections - from employment rights to the environment - are safeguarded. Yet I cannot help regretting that this has to be done when there are so many other global and national challenges to contend with.


My select committee work

Joint Committee on Human Rights

What are the human rights implications of Brexit inquiry

Brexit.jpg

The Committee is issuing an open call for evidence, asking interested parties and stakeholders to submit evidence on any impact of the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the EU on the human rights framework and protection of human rights in the UK. This is to ensure that the Committee does not exclude any relevant but hitherto undisclosed issues.

Terms of reference: What are the human rights implications of Brexit

UK’s record on children’s rights inquiry 

CRI.jpg

On 9 June 2016 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published its assessment of the UK's record for protecting children's rights. While the UN Committee welcomed progress in some areas, it made a number of detailed recommendations identifying specific ways in which children’s rights could be better protected in the UK. 

The inquiry will also be an opportunity for the Committee to hear about any implications for children's rights of the Children and Social Work Bill, which the Committee is currently scrutinising.

Terms of reference: UK’s record on children’s rights

Work and Pensions Committee

After a summer mostly spent on our investigation into the collapse of BHS and its pension scheme, our next inquiry will now look at employment opportunities for young people:

• To what extent does getting young people into work and supporting them in work require an approach distinct from that of other groups?

• How effective is Jobcentre Plus Support for Schools likely to be in enhancing young people's career prospects?

• How can Jobcentre Plus services for young people be more effectively integrated with other local services, especially around education and skills?

• What is likely to be the impact of any forthcoming economic uncertainty on young people, and how should the Government best seek to protect them from this?


What you have been writing to me about recently

Sustainability and Transformation Plans and the NHS crisis

Dog meat


Local Round-Up

The interests of cyclists and residents both need to looked after as plans develop for CS11 (Cycle Superhighway)

CSH.png

Early this year, before the election for a new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson announced plans to extend the network of Cycle Superhighways with a new north/south route, CS11. It is absolutely right that we do what we can to encourage alternatives to the car in London, and we should be proud of what has been achieved in recent years in boosting cycling levels. However, it is also true that this scheme is extremely controversial within parts of Westminster and Camden because of fears that changes to highway layout and the proposed part-closing of the Regent’s Park gates would increase traffic and rat-running into some residential streets. It has also been argued that the impact of other major schemes like HS2 and the Baker Street 2-way had not been properly considered.

An initial consultation was carried out in the spring and you can see the details here.

On the basis of strong representations from the St John’s Wood Society, I brought the then Mayor’s champion, Andrew Gilligan, together with TFL, Westminster Council, the Royal Parks and local residents together in March to see how it might be possible to continue improving capacity for and the safety of, cyclists, whist making sure residents were not hit by significant traffic displacements. It was agreed that there needed to be more sharing of information about modelling of traffic levels and flows, and a proper examination of options relating to the park.

Sadiq Khan and his Deputy Mayor for Transport have indicated that they wish to go ahead with the Cycle Superhighways but are open to further representations as to how best to do this.

I therefore organised a second meeting on September 8th when Val Shawcross joined TFL, the Council, St John’s Wood Society and reps from Tulip Siddiq’s Office so Val could hear for herself what our concerns are. Following that, I have written to Transport for London with a detailed set of action points for them to respond to. I am extremely grateful to the St John’s Wood Society for their constructive role and to Val for giving so much time to this, and although there is some way to go (and more formal consultation to come). I am hopeful that we can find a way forward that supports the goal of safer cycling whilst also protecting residents in residential streets nearby.


At last! Westminster Council try out 20mph zones!

20mph.png

It’s taken a while! I have been arguing for years that we should try out 20mph zones in residential areas but Westminster Council dug their heels in and refused to even consider the idea. Still, finally they have come round, and that is very welcome. You can see full details of their proposal here.


 

Helping leaseholders get the right advice


LEASE.png

I held the fifth of my ‘leaseholder advice sessions’ last month, at the Stowe Centre, with a particular focus on Bayswater and Lancaster Gate. Once again, LEASE lawyers were on hand to provide general advice and hold one-to-one sessions with lessees.

LEASE run an excellent website and a phoneline, so please do get in touch with them if you need some help:

www.lease-advice.org

One issue LEASE mentioned was that many City West Homes leaseholders may be approaching 80 years remaining on their leases. At that point, he said, property values are affected negatively. It is likely that there will be applications to extend their leases and lessess should be aware of this and make sure they get the right information to ensure their interests are protected.


Join the ‘Maida Hill’ ‘Placecheck’ walkabout

This is a great way to gather thoughts and ideas about a local neighbourhood, brought to you by Maida Hill Forum. I’ll be turning up to see how it goes…

Maida Hill “Placecheck” Walkabouts

Please join Maida Hill Neighbourhood Forum for walks around our neighbourhood on 8 October 2016, 10am-12:30pm, starting from Maida Hill Market.

1. Why?

This will be the first step in finding out what we like or what we think should be changed in our neighbourhood. The results will be fed into the Maida Hill Neighbourhood Plan – a community-led planning policy which will guide development in our area.

2. Who is invited?

All people who live, work, run businesses, own land or buildings in Maida Hill.

3. What will we do during the walks?

There will be four groups, each covering a different part of our neighbourhood.

We will record anything we think should be protected and enhanced, as well as those things which are bad for our neighbourhood and need to be improved, removed or replaced. These could be buildings, public spaces, landscaping features or development sites. We will mark these on maps; we will take notes and photographs.

4. What will we do after the walkabouts

The results of the walkabouts will be presented at a public meeting organised by Maida Hill Neighbourhood Forum on 15 October 2016 (venue to be confirmed). At this meeting we will talk more about issues that we would like to address in our Neighbourhood Plan.

5. How do I sign up?

Please let us know if you would like to join us and whether you would prefer to placecheck a particular area.

Reply to info@maidahillforum.org.uk.


Delayed regeneration scheme in Church Street has stacked up problems for residents

Church_Street.jpg

I’ve been attending meetings with residents from the Church Street blocks, such as Blackwater House, who are concerned by the delays in the Council’s regeneration scheme. As there has been too little investment in their upkeep during the wait some of these blocks are now suffering badly, with problems including loss of heating and lifts out of order. I’ve carried out a survey of residents views following these meetings and am reporting the results to the Council and City West Homes to try and get some improvements quickly.


Hathaway House tower block approved by Westminster

Westminster Council approved a (modified) version of this tower block on Woodfield Road last month. Local Labour councillors have now written to the Mayor of London asking for him to use his ‘call in’ powers to make more changes. However, the new Mayor is still limited by Boris Johnson’s ‘London Plan’ until changes are made to it, so it may not yet be possible to meet all the concerns of residents. Here’s the text of the letter:

I’m writing to raise concerns about the application approved by a Westminster Council planning committee to redevelop the Hathaway House site, 7D Woodfield Road (16/02091/FULL). This scheme has been widely opposed by local residents (132 formal objections and the opposition of the two local neighbourhood forums).

There are a number of areas where I believe the scheme fails to meet the principles even of the current London Plan. The amount of affordable housing in the approved scheme remains low, 23% by floor space or 26% by unit numbers, falling well below Westminster’s own target of 35% (for areas outside the Central Activity Zone such as this) and the new Mayor’s target of 50% affordable, although I recognise that this decision arrives ahead of the issuing of the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance on affordable housing due later this year that will begin to operationalise the Mayor’s target. The type of affordable provision being entirely shared ownership a tenure type that has proved unsuitable in Westminster given property values and falls outside of Westminster Council’s stated policy preference for intermediate rent and Sadiq’s priority for the provision of social housing.

Much of the considerable local resident objection to the plans has focused on the height of the building which I believe runs counter to the principles set out in Policy 7.7 (location and design of tall and large buildings) of the existing London Plan. This proposed tall building is not within the Central Activity Zone or an identified cluster of larger building (such as the Paddington Basin), it is not a site identified as a location for tall or large buildings in Westminster’s LDF. This 14 story building (ground +13) will significantly overshadow neighbouring buildings (which being 4 stories- ground+ 3 at the redevelopment) and the surrounding street and canal. The developers (and indeed the Conservative members of the planning committee) erroneously claimed that this falls within a broader context of other towers in the wider area (The Trellick Tower in Kensington and the Warwick and Brindley Estates at Westbourne Green). However this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of local geography, particularly when considering how residents of the local area relate to the existing street scene and housing (those towers being around 15 minutes walk from the site).

The site falls within an area identified by Westminster Council for the development of a coordinated regeneration plan, the upcoming Harrow Road Management plan to be developed over the next few years. This scheme preempts and, in my view, inhibits the goal of having a cohesive approach for the area that is supported by local people. The scheme will provide little in the way of new jobs for local people, with the office space being used to facilitate an existing office move. The ground floor will provide an inactive frontage onto Woodfield Road and the scheme density is around 720 habitable rooms per hectare on the residential units alone (before the commercial space is added), exceeding the 200-700 guidelines set out in the London Plan (dramatically so when commercial space is included) and therefore constituting overdevelopment of the site. During the planning process no play space has been identified, with permanent alternative options some considerable distance from the site.  

While I recognise some of the restrictions provided by the current London Plan as set out above I believe that this scheme breaches these policies and therefore should be called in by the Mayor of London through the State 2 process


Still working to get Elmfield Way ‘adopted’

Alongside ward councillors, I have been pressing for the ‘adoption’ of Elmfield Way for many years, in response to resident concerns about lack of parking enforcement and the condition of the highway. When I negotiated the setting up of the playground with the Department of Health in 2009, this was on the understanding that the area was going to be redeveloped, and the road would be adopted as part of that process. We were told in 2014 that everything was going ahead, late but as planned. Now, another 2 years on, not much has happened, but the parking problems continue. Unfortunately, the latest message from the Council is this:

The Council is still in negotiations with the NHS and DoH regarding the potential transfer of the three sites off Elmfield Way to Westminster to facilitate these sites’  re-development by the Council as supported and affordable housing.

Unfortunately, I am unable to provide you with a timescale at this point when these negotiations will be concluded and when works might start.

The potential future adoption of the highway at Elmfield Way by the Council is linked to the transfer of the 3 sites to WCC and their  re-development by the Council. Part of these works involves bringing the highway up to an adoptable standard.

We are pressing for an explanation as to why it is taking so long to sort out the issue between Westminster and the Department of Health!


Hopes for a ‘Safer Saltram’ as new traffic scheme starts

SSC.jpg

After many complaints from residents about speeding traffic in narrow streets, and a lengthy consultation and resident involvement process, the new one-way system has finally been introduced into the ‘Saltram triangle’.  This has so far been broadly welcomed, although we have to be sure that it doesn’t add to the problems on the side streets. Let’s hope it brings relief overall to an area which has suffered from these problems for years. Please do let me (or your ward councillors) know your thoughts.


Rainbow Children’s Centre threat

Rainbow.jpg

Funding for Children’s centres (and youth and after-school services) has been slashed in recent years. Most recently, a threat has emerged to the Rainbow Centre for young children with disabilities - a much loved centre in Queen’s Park. You can read the full story here.


Petition to save St John’s Wood Post Office from closure

SJW_Post_Office.jpg

I’ve had lots of letters from local residents anxious about the impact of the likely downgrading of the Crown Post Office on Circus Road, St John’s Wood. This is part of the continuing cost-cutting in the Post Office, which has seen many smaller offices close or be franchised to a private owner in recent years. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said the changes are not necessary as the Post Office is due to break even this year. They believe that the move is being forced through in a bid to make a £10million turnover by the end of 2018.

The building is owned by the Westminster Council, so it could be that they can assist. There’s a petition calling on the Council to lobby the Post Office to keep open the Crown Post Office on Circus Road, St John’s Wood you can sign here


Santander bike scheme- new site approved in Maida Vale - now sign the petition to extend it to QP

Santander.png

Councillor Rita Begum is delighted that a new site for Santander bikes has now been approved in Maida Vale. Now Queen’s Park Councillors are supporting a petition organized by a local resident calling for the bikes to be located in the Queen’s Park area. You can sign the petition here

“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to expand Santander Cycles to Queen’s Park. With the major multi-million redevelopment of the Moberley Sports Centre now underway (not scheduled to open till 2018) and the sad loss announced of the Jubilee Sports Centre, now would seem to be a great time to root for some Santander Cycles in Queen’s Park to help keep us fit in the meantime. Cycling is one route to fitness, accessible to all ages. It has never been more popular. I have been a member of the scheme for several years and use the bikes at lunchtime and to go to meetings. I would love to cycle all the way home but my route from work in Pimlico stops well short of Queen’s Park. I can currently only cycle as far as the top of Ladbroke Grove or the bottom of Warwick Avenue. I then have to get the bus or tube to complete the journey – defeating the object of the bikes. Westminster is spending thousands of pounds building cycle superhighways and more and more hire bikes are springing up in other parts of London. Yet Santander Cycles are not available to hire in an area where quieter roads are plentiful and there is clearly great interest in fitness with several gyms and yoga centres now flourishing. Please join me in this petition to ask for hire bikes in our area. “


Rules on basement excavations finally tightened

It wasn’t so long ago that Westminster Councillors were telling residents that fuss about basement excavations was a storm in a teacup,  no worse than any other building works, and once done, never noticed again. However, I am now very pleased that the rules have been tightened in the new planning guidance, and the Council have also made what is called an “Article 4 Direction” which removes permitted development rights for basement development throughout the city, which was came into force on 31 July 2016.

You can read the full policy here


Let’s get behind apprenticeships

Next year, the new apprenticeship levy comes into force, to boost the number of apprenticeships either directly in larger firms, or via them paying for schemes in other companies and organisations. Mark Field and I jointly hosted a reception with Westminster Business Council in September, so local employers could hear more about the levy and about the value of taking on apprenticeships to their company and to the young people they employ.


Pub news

The loss of pubs continues unabated, as rent hikes or the lure of luxury residential conversions takes its toll. Recently, the managers of the popular gastropub, The Truscott Arms, had to leave after the latest rent rise. The Chippenham, which closed last year, is an eyesore (both buildings have now been squatted) and the Marylebone Society has recently produced a report on the loss of pubs in their area too.

Here’s a report from CAMRA, the campaign for Real Ale, who have written to Westminster Council in an effort to get more wide-ranging action:

Good afternoon

1. I thought, following on from the reported mention of A4 Directions and discussion on the report on ACVs at last night’s Environment and Public Services Scrutiny Committee at Westminster City Hall that you might like to be aware that our Secretary Paul Charlton has written to Robert Davis recently. We have offered CAMRA's support and help with a possible wide-ranging A4 Direction perhaps emulating the approach taken by the London Borough of Wandsworth. Other LPAs have adopted development policies that explicitly support and promote traditional public houses and other community facilities and hubs.

There's a number of ranging matters that overlap. What is clear is that the current Westminster planning and development policies - though we argued and submitted as you would expect for much more explicit support, and indeed have been deploying these and similar evidence-based arguments for the last decade or more in support of these often local and small businesses, local employers, anchors of the high street, and a key part of reviving and sustaining local economies and neighbourhoods in ways that no amount of up-market residential 're-generation' schemes can.

2. You will know of the egregious example of CTLX and the Carlton Tavern - and there are almost equally unacceptable examples elsewhere.

The Chippenham Hotel, that has been lost as an A4 establishment essentially through a failure to enforce that provided a loophole that claimed lawful use as a retail shop. The change of use was of course a complete charade, and an abuse if not worse of planning law. There was never any intention to pursue once the certificate of lawful use was established. Judging by the site at the rear I'd expect a significant development to be in the works, no doubt being discussed in pre-application advice meetings. These last are not public - tho' you will know that Kensington and Chelsea have said that they will make pre-application advice publicly available.

I wondered if there is any channel in law to set this aside but gather not. Not an error, but an egregious fraud as there was clearly no intention to remain as anything other than a development opportunity, as almost as soon as the certificate of lawful use was obtained that closed. With a large development site also to the rear, CLTX it appears is only biding its time for this large and prominent building and site. Some recent photographs are attached.

Other examples include the Windsor Castle Crawford Place (and though a recent planning application was refused, the planners seemed to be unaware of the City's rather weak policies that do cover public houses); the Brazen Head (several years now in scaffolding and what appears to be a part-abandoned development); the Tudor Rose Blandford Street - a perfectly good public house that saw a demand for a doubling of rent that was not sustainable by a traditional public house - now the interior has been trashed and an attempt to set it up as a wine bar and resto demolishing most of the existing interior.

The Marylebone Association has also been increasingly concerned about the loss of traditional pubs - the Victory BTW appears to have been converted to a pizza joint without planning consent and is subject to an enforcement enquiry - from their recent e-newsletter.


Thank you for reading and your comments are always welcome! 

Sig.jpg

Karen Buck MP

Twitter.pngFacebook.png

Website: www.karenbuck.org.uk

Promoted by Robert Atkinson on behalf of Karen Buck MP at 4G Shirland Mews, Maida Hill, London, W9 3DY. The information used to supply this email is for the use of Karen Buck and will not be passed on to any third party organisation.

 

October 2016 E-Newsletter

October E-Newsletter  Contents New fears about the impact of Short Lets New inquiry into impact of foreign ownership of London property Working in ParliamentBrexit My Select Committee work What you...

September E-Newsletter 2016

Advice Special

July 2016 E-Newsletter

www.scribd.com/document/319624421/July-2016-E-Newsletter

June 2016 E-Newsletter

https://www.scribd.com/doc/316246687/June-2016-E-Newsletter

May 2016 E-Newsletter

May 2016 E-Newsletter   

April 2016 E-Newsletter

https://www.scribd.com/doc/307336081/April-E-Newsletter-2016    

February 2016 E-newsletter

https://www.scribd.com/doc/300282764/February-2016-E-Newsletter

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.  To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.