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Tube ticket offices in Westminster set to close from February

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Labour London wide Assembly Member Murad Qureshi has condemned the Mayor of London’s announcement that tube station ticket offices in Westminster would close from February 2015 alongside huge cuts to staffing levels. Despite Boris Johnson’s election pledge not to close any of the tube network’s ticket offices, it was announced last week that all of Westminster’s ticket offices will be closed by December resulting in hundreds fewer tube staff in stations. 

The closures timeline announced by TfL means that the process for closing the ticket offices in 31 stations in the borough will start in February next year. The closures will also see almost 900 staff cut from the tube stations. Murad Qureshi has expressed particular concern about the impact the staff cuts will have on disabled and elderly passengers.

Despite the reduced staff service planned for tube stations, fares are once again due to go up just a month before the closures start, this will mean fares have risen 40% since Boris Johnson became Mayor.

Murad Qureshi AM, Labour London wide Assembly Member, said: 

“More people than ever are using the tube network yet Boris Johnson’s cuts will mean hundreds fewer staff there to help passengers. It is outrageous that just a month after Londoners face another round of fare rises, Boris Johnson plans to cut the service they are offered. It’s a real case of the Mayor asking Londoners to pay more and get less in return.

“This fight isn’t about whether staff are based in ticket offices or on platforms, it’s about whether there are enough staff overall to provide customers with a good service, particularly the elderly and disabled.

“Before he was elected Boris Johnson promised voters that he would not close any of the capital’s ticket offices, now he is set to axe them all. Londoners will have to ask how much the Mayor’s word is really worth.”

ENDS 

Notes

The full timetable for ticket office closures is available here. Murad Qureshi is a Labour London wide Assembly Member.

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Murad Qureshi AM calls for more protection for renters after Shelter finds 1 in 47 Westminster households face eviction each year

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London wide Assembly Member Murad Qureshi AM has accused the Mayor of leaving renters “at the mercy of landlords” after new Shelter figures revealed that 1 in 47 private renters in Westminster face eviction each year. Murad Qureshi’s comments come six months after Boris Johnson launched his voluntary London Rental Standard (LRS) which, despite aims to get 100,000 of London’s 300,000 landlords signed up to better protections for tenants, has only 13,499 landlords on board according to the most recent City Hall figures. 

The new research shows that in total 1460 privately renting households in Westminster faced claims of eviction last year, Shelter found this meant 1 in 47 Westminster households facing eviction.

The report from housing charity Shelter found that the high cost and volatile nature of the London house rental market meant that “it can take just one thing, like losing your job or falling ill, to put your home at risk.” Since 2011 private sector rents in London have soared by 21% and recent estimates found that 39% of private rented sector tenants now live in poverty – a larger share than in either the social or owner-occupying tenures.

Murad Qureshi said the number of people facing dramatic rent rises and evictions showed that the capitals rental market wasn’t working for many Londoners. He criticised the Mayor of London’s voluntary approach to landlord regulation and called for stronger statutory protection for private renters.

Murad Qureshi AM, Labour London wide Assembly Member, said: 

“The fact that 1 in 47 renters in Westminster have faced eviction in the last year shows how challenging it can be to rent in the capital. Boris Johnson pledged to get 100,000 landlords signed up to his minimum standards scheme yet to date only 13,500 landlords have joined.

“With 40% of private sector renters living in poverty, rents rising and complaints soaring, Boris’ soft touch approach does little to help the majority of London’s renters. Without proper statutory protection, many renters are left at the mercy of landlords.

“Instead of another empty voluntary initiative we need to see real action to ensure decent standards and fair treatment in the private rented sector. Things like longer tenancies and caps on rent increases would make a real difference to Westminster’s renters.

“Whilst most landlords treat their tenants properly these figures suggest that renters have very little protections and too easily face the threat of eviction.”

ENDS

Notes 

  • The latest Shelter report, Repossession and Eviction Hotspots, including borough by borough breakdowns is available here.
  • The numbers of accredited landlords are available on the GLA’s London Rental Standard web page.
  • The Valuation Office Agency states that between June 2011 and June 2014 private rents in London rose 21%
  • Shelter reports a 47 per cent increase in private sector tenant complaints in London in the last five years (to 18,700) (p20)
  • Murad Qureshi is a Labour London wide Assembly Member

Murad Qureshi AM calls for a crackdown on ‘iceberg’ homes

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London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi today called for new London-wide restrictions on basement developments. The call came as a west London council got to go-ahead for a policy that limits subterranean development to a proportion of the garden size and to one storey, and prohibits all such development under listing buildings.

Subterranean development is a growing issue in some parts of London, notably Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Wandsworth. The super-rich are digging deeper and wider in an effort to cram swimming pools, cinemas, and gyms into often historic buildings, creating so called ‘iceberg’ homes. These developments can cause flooding, sink holes and structural damage to neighbouring buildings, and construction is often severely disruptive to the neighbourhood.

A number of London boroughs are bringing forward policies to limit inappropriate basement development, but without the backing of a strong policy in the London Plan they will find it difficult to enforce and can see their decisions overturned by inspectors.

In March, Mr Qureshi introduced a motion to the London Assembly calling on the Mayor to establish planning policies to prevent inappropriate basement development. Despite receiving unanimous cross-party support, the Mayor informed the Assembly that he did not consider it necessary to introduce new rules in the London Plan.

Londonwide Assembly Member, Murad Qureshi AM, said:

“London urgently needs a city-wide policy to stop neighbours being disrupted by massive building works to create iceburg homes.

“It is right for councils to take steps to limit this inappropriate development, but without backing from the Mayor of London they may find it difficult to enforce and can see their decisions overturned by inspectors. It is astonishing that the Mayor has flatly refused to tackle the growing problem of subterranean development in the capital, we really need to see action before the problem gets out of hand.” 

ENDS 

Notes 

  1. Murad Qureshi AM is a London-wide Labour member of the London Assembly.
  2. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has for the past two years been developing a policy to place restrictions on subterranean development. A planning inspector earlier this week gave final approval to the policy. The draft policy is available here: http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/Basements%20Publication%20Second%20v5.pdf.
  3. The full text of March’s amended motion is available here: http://www.london.gov.uk/media/assembly-press-releases/2014/03/assembly-calls-on-mayor-to-limit-excessive-basement-developments.

 

Shocking new stats reveal true scale of London’s silent killer

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London wide Assembly Member Murad Qureshi has hit out at the Mayor of London’s “truly appalling record on tackling air pollution” after new research from Clean Air London estimated that by 2020 the number of Londoners dying prematurely as a result air pollution will rise to 6,851 per year. Clean Air London also suggested that the number of people currently dying as a result of air pollution could be as high as 7,500 a year in London. Commenting on the research Murad Qureshi described the figures as ‘catastrophic’ saying they revealed just how bad the silent killer of air pollution had got. The data which was released this week by Simon Birkett of Clean Air London is drawn from a study commissioned by the Mayor as part of the Health Impact Assessment for the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone and states that current estimates suggest 6,851 Londoners could die each year by 2020 as a consequence of the capital’s air pollution problem. Prior to this study, it was believed that 4,300 lives were prematurely lost in the capital each year as a result of air pollution. The new figures include analysis of the impact of additional categories of pollutants which are known to be detrimental to public health.

In the summer the Mayor provided more details on an Ultra-Low Emission Zone but the scheme would only cover a small area of London and won’t come into effect until after 2020. Murad Qureshi has welcomed the scheme but said it doesn’t go far enough. Murad Qureshi AM, Labour London wide Assembly Member, said:

“For years we have known air pollution is the capital’s silent killer, now we know just how bad the situation has got. For 4,300 Londoners to prematurely die as a consequence of air pollution was shocking enough. The fact that the real figure is nearer 7,500 it is truly catastrophic. “Boris Johnson has a truly appalling record on tackling air pollution. It has taken six years for him to wake up to the scale of the capital’s air quality crisis. His proposals for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone are not only unambitious but are designed to leave the problem for his successor to grapple with. “Londoners want to see the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone made bigger, stronger and more effective. Quite frankly, if these new figures don’t cause the Mayor to wake up and take action, nothing will”. ENDS Notes

– The latest Clean Air London research, published this week, is available at : http://cleanair.london/sources/mayor-publishes-health-study-revealing-deaths-attributable-to-no2/

– Murad Qureshi is a Labour London wide Assembly Member and is also the environment spokesperson for the London Assembly Labour Group.