Category Archives: News

Chopper noise over Regents Park

Helicopters above Church St market disturbing the peace with chopper noise during whole of the US President state visit.

Having had a few days of helicopter noise over Marylebone from the US President visit, l decided to make a complaint about the negative impact on the quality of life for many people via the Council who told me its not there responsibility. They instead referred me to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). l immediately submitted a complaint on the relevant forms. By the end of the week, l got a very unsatisfactory response. 
I was informed that they appreciated the disturbance caused by these aircraft/helicopters but we regret to inform you that aircraft noise is not actually classed as a statutory nuisance as it is not covered by the Environmental Protection Act nor the Noise Act, therefore preventing any local authority from being able to act on aircraft noise issues.  Nor does the CAA, as the UK’s independent aviation regulator, have the legal power to prevent aircraft flying over a particular location or at a particular time for environmental reasons (except when considering proposals to establish new, or amend existing Controlled Airspace).  Responsibility for aviation policy and aircraft noise matters lies with the Department for Transport (DfT)  and the CAA works closely with this governmental department in the development of aviation regulation and policy to limit the environmental effects of aircraft operations where possible.  Further, DfT is directly involved in measures to ameliorate noise at the main airports; all other civil aerodrome and aircraft operators are expected to achieve a reasonable balance between their legitimate needs and the impact their operations may have upon the local environment.  
So in conclusion neither the Council nor CAA have any responsibility but would you believe it the Department of Transport does have it, which to me certainly appears to be in the wrong place altogether. And l am not sure why l was not directed to the Department in the first place. 
So when the President comes back through London again at the end of the year, l will get ready to make any complaints to the Department of Transport. In the meantime l will start lobbying my local MP for aircraft and in particular helicopter noise to be classed as a statutory nuisance so as local authorities can act on the matters rather than the distant offices of the Department of Transport. 
In the meantime, the London Assembly could also do with updating their report on Helicopter Noise London in a spin which now over 10 years old and making it a priority before the President next passes through London. 

Grenfell in Europe

I went to the 23rd silent march in North Kensington, last Tuesday night. And people rightly ask about the usefulness of electing Members to the European Parliament when said l was standing for Labour. At this point, l highlighted the Labour manifesto and our commitment to “…delivering a robust and comprehensive European fire safety strategy fit for the 21st century.”

In essence it is pledging to support stronger rules in the EU construction products regulation which sets standard on how products react and are resistant to fire. We will also campaign to support an EU wide fire safety strategy to identify where and what needs to be done to improve fire safety across the EU. That strategy should form the basis of identifying weak points in current standards and identify where more regulation and funding is needed. By doing all this we will hopefully stop another Grenfell inferno ever happening again. 

So while the EU Election on the 23rd May appears to have been reduced to a referendum on a no-deal by Farage, you are ultimately electing people to represent you on matters quite literally of life and death. 

Heathrow expansion or not, me judges!

The campaigners trying to block Heathrow expansion lost  their judicial review on last Wednesday morning.

Now while the Judge in Heathrow expansion case made clear the hearing was only concerned with the legality of the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) and not the merit of concerns of on issues like pollution, noise, climate change, surface access & habitat. It therefore did not have have a bearing on legal stature of ANPS. 

While all the claims were dismissed the one that struct me was on Climate Change matters. Here we were told that ” the Paris Agreement does not form part of UK law and so, while the UK has ratified it until Parliament decides if and how to incorporate the Paris Agreement target, it has no effect in domestic law.” This on the day that the House of Commons adopted the Climate Change emergency motion from the Opposition!  

If you want to read the judgement summary,  please go to the following link. 

Whatever happens, its not the end as it is almost certainly going to be challenged by the local London councils, the Mayor and Green campaign organisations. 

 

 

Trees saved along the Edgware Rd

 

 

Developers vision of the site without the mature trees we have already

As the hoarding around the development on the immediate North side of Parsons House along the Edgware Rd went up, it was clear a row of trees from the pavement along Edgware Rd were inside the hoardings. Was this going to be the death of this line of trees?  The developers vision of the site clearly shows the finished site without a line of mature trees there already ( including the bus shelter at the corner of Crompton St ). 

Looking at the original planning report for the development given by Westminster City Council, it was quite clear the developers could get away with cropping the trees down.  Thankfully as Edgware Rd is a red route, the pavements are actually the responsibility of Transport for London (TfL) along with the trees who have been quite clear the trees must be saved. And have now made it part of their license agreement with the developer that the trees be saved and worked around. 

So thank you TfL for saving these trees along the Edgware Rd by intervening at this early stage long before the trees may have been cut down in the early site preparation of the housing development. 

Withdraw British forces from Brunei

With the Sultan of Brunei introducing new Sharia Laws in Brunei to stone gays and adulterers, there is only one response that will register with him, the withdrawal of British Troops protecting him. 

It is not good enough for Jeremy Hunt MP & Mark Field MP at the FCO just to say they are disappointed by the introduction of gays and adulterers in Brunei, as the UK opposes capital and corporate punishment. A far better way would be withdrawing the 2,000 British troops protecting his monarchy in Brunei which consist of an infantry battalion, an RAF detachment and a training unit. Our troops are defending set of values which are certainly not in keeping with our ones by protecting him and his views, so it is time to move on.  If nothing else we are complicit with his actions. 

Interestingly Brunei is being considered for a new British military base in Asia- Pacific by Gavin Williamson at the MoD, if his pronouncements before and during the Christmas period are anything to go by. This idea should be dropped anyway and furthermore since the incompatibility of our values with the Sultans. 

And finally will he be dealing with his notorious playboy brother, Prince Jefri in such matters? 

Move the Bus Stop in Marylebone

Nursery entrance on Hayes Place, NW1

Since the coverage of the “Row over buses by the nursery” in this weeks edition of the Westminster Extra, many people on the street have said to how astonishing it is that Westminster City Council will not move a bus stand in front of the entrance of a nursery in Marylebone, because of the loss of parking income. 
So much for their air pollution campaigns to stop idling of cars in critical locations like in front of our school gates. Recent research has established the very harmful effects of air pollution the development of young people’s  lungs, reducing their capacity as much as a third when reaching adulthood. Thus a bus stand in front of a nursery catering for the under 5 with buses producing minute particulars called PM2.5’s from just stopping and starting their engines can cause a lot of damage to the health of the youngest in our community. 
That is why l propose the bus stand for the No 2 bus to Marylebone be moved to the non-residential part of Harewood Avenue and/or Great Central Street where the 453 already terminates around Marylebone Railway station. 
So Westminster Council should work with TfL with alternatives for the bus stand of the No 2 bus termination in Marylebone taking on board the harmful effects on the youngest amongst us first and foremost and not any loss of parking income. 

Please find the link for the petition below, so the council gets the message loud and clear.

New ward boundaries for Westminster? – No need really

Now that the Local Government Boundary Commission for England has announced that the numbers of councillors in the City of Westminster should be reduced down to 54 from 60, we now need to redefine the ward boundaries to accommodate this. Or do we? 

It would be far easier to keep the Ward boundaries as present, and reduce the representation of the less densely packed wards down to 2 councillors each from the 3 at the moment. So in effect the lowest six wards by population density should be reduced to two councillors each.

Now that may sound to easy a solution but are not the best solutions in life usually the simplest ones around.  

 

Crossrail being laughed at from afar

Crossrail construction continues but when will the service finally be open?

You did not have to go far to hear the rumours of the delays on the Crossrail works in Central London. The cafes and pubs around Paddington Railway Station have been opening talking about it for months where many who work on the Crossrail project have lunch and a drink after work, that the Elizabeth line was not going to be ever completed by the 9th of December 2018.

In the Far East they will be laughing at our woes over Crossrail ( and HS2). As in the time since 2008 when Crossrail got formal government approval, the Chinese have built the most extensive network of High Speed rail in the World, 15,000 km of railway lines. For example the two ring high speed rail service known as Nanlong Railway link in Fujian province is 248 km long and has 99 bridges and 82 tunnels and due to open in the beginning of the 2019. So we clearly must improve our project management and learn from what is being done in the Far East in delivering major transport infrastructure projects in London and the UK.

Quite honestly the way its going it will not be opened before the next Mayoral contest in 2020 and l will not be surprised if its not well into the next term before its complete to hand over.

Indeed at the rate the Brunel Building is going up – increasingly casting a shadow across the whole of Little Venice and spoiling its skyline – it will be finished and let before the first Crossrail train is operational across the whole of London. Who could have for seen that at all?

So if the Crossrail boss has no idea of the revised launch date, it maybe useful for him to spend some time at the cafes and bars of Paddington to find out.

This was published as a letter in the Spring addition of SEBRA News W2

The Brunel Building – could this be occupied before Crossrail is operational?

“Coach & horses” through London

Cllr Maggie Carman hands her letter of concern over Royal Oak bus proposal to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

The recent community concern over TfL investigating a move of . Victoria Coach Station to Royal Oak site highlights well how coach matters in London do not really have anyone on top of it all. This while there are critical for cheap long distance travelling in the country.

Cllr Maggie Carman (LAB) of Bayswater Ward said it well at the first public meeting on the issue in St Stephens Church over the threat of a coach station on the Royal Oak site and its impact on Bayswater

“People have been asking me why Transport for London want to move out of Victoria.  Well, my answer is that it is not Transport for London’s decision. TFL has no statutory responsibility for coaches. They are acting to manage a problem that would otherwise lead to coaches clogging up streets all over London.”

Which begs the question then who has the authority over coaches? Well we can only point the finger at the Department which has the least efficient Secretary of State known to British government at present, Chris Graylings MP at the Department of Transport.  So it would be tempting fate by asking him to decide this one. 

Now the Department does not show itself in a good light either in City of Westminster particularly those with a long memory, as it almost got closed Marylebone Railway Station into a coach station in the mid-1980’s. It is hard to believe the terminus station of today was threaten by a rail road conversion into a coach station similar in scale to Victoria Coach Station today. 

Thankfully Marylebone Rail station was not converted into a Coach station

And to this day we still have coach issues around the corner from the Railway station, just off Dorset Square. Along Gloucester Place, NW1 we have issues about the moving of coach stops irritating local residents as Baker Street has been converted into a two way street which has knock on effects to the surrounding neighbourhood on both sides of the Marylebone road. 

Coach stop moved up Gloucester Place and causing problems for residents

 

So maybe it makes sense to give TfL the powers to regulate coaches in Greater London away from the Department of Transport. There are critical for cheap long distance travelling in the country but given most of the trips will be coming and going through London, let us give someone charge over it all in the capital.  But of course this must be on condition that they should dropped there Royal Oak bus station proposal straight immediately. 

In the meantime, we need some answers from the Mayor. Why did TfL go along with the move out of Victoria which has served everybody well except the Duke of Westminster’s, Grosvenor Estate? Quite honestly the delays on Cross rail make the likelihood of Cross rail 2 and thus having to use the Victorian Coach station as a works site highly unlikely now for at least another Mayoral term. And even if the leases on the site are coming to end, like any business lease l know of these can normally be extended through negotiations.

So let us see some firm action by the Mayor of London, so as Victoria coach station continues its operational in Belgravia for the convenience of the travelling public and residents of Bayswater and Westbourne in the North of the City of Westminster.  

As it appears coaches in London fall between TfL and Department of Transport responsibilities and its a case of a “coach and horses” through London.  

Time for GLA blue plaques?

LCC Blue plaque in Marylebone

As a veteran of putting two blue plaques up in my neighbourhood – one for the second home of Lords and the other for Joe Strummer – it took a lot more time and energy than l anticipated. In both instances they were sponsored by local entities interested in retaining the local history of Marylebone particularly in the less wealth off parts of the old borough.  

So it is this experience this informs my contribution to the recent debate on getting more blue plaques put up for women. I am not sure that English Heritage is best placed to respond to putting up many more blue plaques for women given its neglect in the first place for not putting them up and l am not sure it has the resources to respond as well. 

Now we do have another alternative for making up for this huge gap in the contribution of women in the social history of London being identified on the streets of London. What is apparent certainly in Central London neighbourhoods like Marylebone and Paddington is that it is was not only English Heritage that put these unique blue plaques up. Indeed many where put up by the old Greater London Council (GLC) and London County Council (LCC) as well. In that light l can not see why the GLA through its own cultural programmes could not do the same, as the previous Greater London bodies had done. Indeed l suspect this could be very popular and the GLA more likely to be responsive to the demands of Londoners to have more blue plaques put up for women than others in the field. 

So in short, is it not time for a GLA blue plaque? After all the GLC and LCC had they own blue plaques. With only 132 for women of 944 English Heritage blue plaques in London according to London Assembly figures, this may well be the only way to catch up.