Category Archives: News

Road safety improvements @CityWestminster

Road safety in the Central London borough of the City of Westminster will be improved vastly in 2022 with two initiatives. Firstly TfL’s 20 mile a hour limit on red routes and the changes in the Highway code making pedestrians and cyclists more of a  priority and thus making our streets safer.

After TfL held a six week consultation between 7 July and 18 August 2021 in which the proposed changes included: 
  • A reduced 20mph speed limit on 13km of roads within the borough, including Marylebone Road, Vauxhall Bridge Road and Edgware Road between the A40 and St. John’s Wood Road ( please see map )
  • Raised tables at six existing pedestrian crossing locations on roads with newly lowered speed limits
  • New road signs throughout to ensure that all drivers are fully aware of the new speed limit 

Following careful consideration of the consultation responses, they have decided to proceed with the scheme as set out in the consultation.   

Then we have the highway code changes at the end of the month covering all our streets and roads, where we have a new hierarchy of road users with pedestrians and cyclists coming top. So when vehicles had priority at junctions this will change to priority given to pedestrians at the junction. In addition cyclists will not be expected to ride near the curb as cars go past but the cyclist can ride in the middle of the lane! That should make many cyclists feel a lot safer! 
This should all be welcomed as the City has some of the highest incidents of road fatalities in the whole of Greater London. Hopefully after these two interventions by TfL and DVLA with the their Highway Code changes, we will see the figures drop annually now. 



Pollarding in W9 too extreme?

Is such extreme pollarding justified at all in W9? When you look at the skyline of Little Venice & Maida Vale it can be quite shocking to see our trees being cut down in this manner. 

It is clear that it has become pretty standard practise at Westminster Council to treat our ash, lime and Elm trees lining the streets of Little Venice and Maida Vale, in this manner. It certainly does not help the trees bloom again! Some say its primary aimed to stop the trees juicing over cars placed immediately under them. If so, l can’t find a worse excuse to do so! 

So l suggest that part of watching trees disappearing altogether we need also to keep an eye on how are trees are maintained via pollarding or not. 

Costly Marble Arch Mound fiasco

As the fiasco of #MarbleArchMound closes today we should not forget @CityWestminster spent £6 million on this project with some 250,000 visitors. Thats is £24 per visitor paid via council tax by its residents! It would have better if it give its residents £24 vouchers to spend on Oxford St instead – what a waste! Heads should really roll for such poor project management. 

So while the UK government has wasted billions on test and tract, the Tory run council of Westminster has wasted millions on its pet project in Central London, Marble Arch Mound. 

If l had done this to the residents of Westminster, l would have resigned from the Council. But then has anyone in government done so with the waste of billions of pounds during the pandemic. So what a waste under our local council and national government, during some very difficult times for people. 


London’s part in the Liberation of Bangladesh

Fifty years ago, London played a key role in the formation of the state of Bangladesh and in a recent walking tour of three key London sites during the Liberation of Bangladesh 1971 this was highlighted well, as we moved between the main sites.

We started the walking tour of course from Trafalgar Square where many of the demonstrations fifty years ago ended with the demands of stopping the genocide; releasing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and the recognition of the new state of Bangladesh. Here we heard the recollection of Habib Rahman, then a young student at UCL, enthralled by the mass demonstrations at Trafalgar Square and places around it where the campaigning had been organised. At times, it felt like the whole community had turned out to these demo’s when the community could not have been more than estimated 100,000 strong in the UK and mostly young men, and would have been subsumed within figures for Pakistani within the UK.

Now before Liberation many of the Indian restaurants run by Bengalis in Central West London were often the locations where Bengali nationalist met, ate & discussed the politics of “back home” during the 1960’s in establishments like the Ganges Restuarant along Gerrard St, W1. It was run by Tasadduq Ahmed, a secular progressive student political activist in Assam & Bengal from the 1940’s now in political exile in London. He had also served as a journalist in East Pakistan for the Observer and Sangbad and was involved in the underground left movement.

The Ganges restaurant became the meeting point of the left and cultural activists and frequented by left figures like Michael Foot, Peter Shore, journalists like Christopher Hitchens, Paul Foot from the Guardian, and Liberty. Tariq Ali was also a regular there during his student days and has fond memories not only of the talk but the food of the day. It was also from the Ganges that Tasadduq Ahmed published the Desher Dak newspaper. So not surprisingly it was also frequented by many from Bengali politics of the left passing through London, like Moulana Bashani; Shaheed Shawhyam and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and it is even said by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during the 1960s.

During the Liberation War itself, 24 Pembridge Gardens in Notting Hill Gate became a major centre for the campaigns for the liberation of Bangladesh before becoming the first embassy of the new state of Bangladesh in the UK and abroad.

From here Justice Abu Syeed Chowdhury headed the campaigns in the UK. He was appointed as the vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka in 1969. In 1971, while in Geneva he resigned from the post as a protest against the genocide in East Pakistan by the Pakistan army. From Geneva he went to London, UK and became the special envoy of the provisional Mujibnagar Government. An umbrella organisation, The Council for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the UK was formed on 24 April 1971 in Coventry, UK, by the expatriate Bengalis, and a five-member steering committee of the council was elected by them. He was to become the first High Commissioner for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in London from 1 August 1971 to 8 January 1972 when the premises became the first embassy of Bangladesh from money raised by Bangladeshi’s in the UK. 24 Pembridge Gardens is currently known as the Bangladesh Centre and has just recently been completely refurbished and opened again on the 19th of December 2021.

And then there was of course immediately after the Liberation war ended on the 16th of December 2021 the visit of Sheikh Mujib to London before he returned to Dhaka, and the newly formed state of Bangladesh. He was put up by the British government at the Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair between the 8th to 10th of January 1972 where he held a famous press conference before going back to Dhaka on an RAF plane. During those two days he met all those who he needed to establish a political relationship from the PM Edward Heath MP and the opposition leader of the day Harold Wilson. The mystery is what the Pakistani authorities did with him between their surrender in Dhaka on the 16th of December to the 7th of January 1972 when they released him to go back via London. One thing it certainly helped was the recognition of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh by the British government on the 4th of February 1972.

So whilst the Bangladeshi probashi ( otherwise known as Londoni’s in Bangladesh) in the UK were not killed or abused as many in Bangladesh were during the liberation war, they did assist in getting the new country recognised by the UK government and the release of Sheikh Mujib by lobbying successfully their MPs and other parliamentarians on the world stage. And while the genocidal claims are still outstanding, this campaign and argument is still being heard in the UK and beyond, the probashi in the UK played a small key role in the formation of Bangladesh at key moments from London.

A version of this blog has been published in Dhaka Tribune under a op-ed with the heading London Calling

Derelict telephone kiosks in Little Venice

In Little Venice,W9 we have a number of derelict red telephone boxes in the neighbourhood, that desperately need repairing – on the corner of Formosa St and Bristol Gardens, on Shirland Rd off the corner on Sutherland Avenue etc 

Now we know that with the use of mobile phones, the use of public phone boxes have declined considerable. But this has been happening for sometime and it appears British Telecommunications (BT) do not know what to do with them. We should keep the neighbourhood in good shape and not let the kiosks become centres of rubbish and graffiti! And even a growing health and safety risk in the area. 

So BT, let these red telephone kiosks have a lick of paint at least.

Why are so many post boxes closed in W9?

Normally at this time of the year, we like to go to our local post box to send our Christmas cards but alas this has been denied to folk in W9 as we have a number of post boxes blocked or lying derelict. 

Along Bristol Gardens, Sutherland Avenue & Warwick Avenue we have as many as four post boxes closed up and lying derelict. The first three appear to have been blocked up still after recent roads works which have long since been finished. While the one on top end of Warwick Avenue has been closed since the 19th of May, on health and safety grounds. And it really should not take over six months to replace it with a new one! 

So what kind of explanation do the Royal Mail offer to this closing up of post boxes in W9. While l await their explanation with eagerness, l just know W9ers in the meantime, have been denied their right and ability to send their Christmas cards in the normal traditional manner via their local post boxes. 

We certainly know since its privatisation of Royal Mail under Vincent Cable, it has got a lot more expensive to send mail, but l did not know it was cutting its service levels as well in urban areas like Central London. So what has W9 done to deserve this Royal Mail in the lead up to Christmas?

Merry Christmas W9ers.  

Paddington is not Canary Wharf – Baltic Wharf


I have the following objections to the revised Travis Perkins/Unite Students proposals, as follows:

Gross Overdevelopment of the site

The defining feature of the Paddington Basin area is the Canal and the development of new buildings along the Canal should respect this clear and defining context.

The only justification put forward by the Applicants for a building of 20 storeys is that there are already buildings of that size in the close vicinity. The Applicants cite buildings of around 20 storeys in evidence in their favour, rather than the more important and much lower Sheldon Square residential buildings immediately opposite the Baltic Wharf site.

In addition, the Applicants make much of the need for additional student accommodation, but they make no compelling justification for 768 student rooms.

The proposed ‘stepped’ 6–20 storey proposal is a contrived design which inherently admits that it is inappropriate for such an important and sensitive site. The sheer wall at the 20-storey end looks particularly out of scale.

In short, the proposed building is far too massive and far too tall. It is the wrong building in the wrong place.

Out of scale with the low-rise residential Little Venice section of the Canal

The proposed 20 storey building would ruin the current pleasant Little Venice section of the Canal environment which is characterised by a collection of modern low and mid-rise developments.

This lower-rise section of the Canal is clearly apparent from the Bishops Bridge Road bridge which creates a strong divide between the low-rise part of the canal at Little Venice and the taller office buildings (such as the Brunel building) associated with the Paddington Station area. In this respect, the high-rise Brunel Building should be the last 20+ storey building at the west end of the Canal.

Creating an overbearing ‘Canyon’ effect

Because of the proposed gross overdevelopment of the Travis Perkins site, the resulting development would create an overbearing and depressing ‘Canyon’ along this part of the Canal. The canal side walkways, cafes and bars would become less enjoyable to visit. The moored barges would be dwarfed and totally overwhelmed by the towering 20 storey building.

The Applicants have already admitted that the lower residential floors of the Sheldon Square buildings would be detrimentally impacted by their proposals. The Applicants claim that these detrimental impacts on residents should be accepted because of the wider ‘regeneration benefits’.

Why should Sheldon Square residents have to bear the brunt of the damaging impacts when they get none of the ‘benefits’? Moreover, these detrimental impacts go beyond the loss of residential amenity and will affect existing Canal side Sheldon Square businesses, as well as Canal walkway visitors.

The wrong use for the site

While there is support for the retention of Travis Perkins, no justification is made for the proposed major student accommodation development, beyond the general need for London. Moreover, there is no certainty that the predicted need for more student accommodation will materialise. There are serious questions about whether overseas students will still want to travel to the UK for their degrees, whether the government will reduce funding higher education, and whether online learning will encourage more students to save money and stay at home.

There may well turn out to be a need for additional student accommodation in London, but the overwhelming residential need in Westminster is for more homes for those who need to rent of buy a home locally. The site could provide the opportunity for more homes and it is of real surprise that this opportunity is not being taken.

So in summary l have four objections to the revised Travis Perkins/Unite Students proposals, as follows: 

  1. It is a gross overdevelopment of the site 
  2. It is out of scale with the low-rise residential Little Venice section of the Canal 
  3. The proposals will create an overbearing ‘Canyon’ effect 
  4. It is the wrong use for the site 

I urge Westminster City Council’s Planning Committee to refuse planning permission for the revised proposals. 

Please write in your objections to the above revised planning application at on the application reference 21/04536/FULL



Little Venice Labour urge Mayor of London to refuse scheme for Paddington Green

We’re urging the Mayor of London to use his powers to refuse permission for Berkeley Homes to build three mega blocks, including one of 32 stories, on the site of the former Paddington Green police station. These plans have already been turned down by Westminster Council but, due to the scale of the proposed development, the Mayor has the final say.

We are asking the Mayor to refuse permission on a number of grounds:

  • Not enough on-site affordable housing – as this is site is former public land, 50% of the flats should be for affordable rent but Berkley is only providing 38% with the balance to be provided in Hendon.
  • Wrong mix of intermediate housing – 60% of the affordable flats are for shared ownership. Property prices are too high for shared ownership to be in any sense “affordable” in Westminster so these flats should be for low-cost rental instead, with more social housing in the scheme
  • Quality of the accommodation – many flats are single aspect and face North
  • Reduction of daylight and sunlight into many flats in Berkeley’s neighbouring development of West End Gate
  • Damage to views of and from the Paddington Green conservation area and Cosway Street, with views from St Mary’s Churchyard, Lisson Grove and the Royal Parks impacted – the 32-storey new building will overly dominate its surroundings
  • Height of the main new building Tower – tall buildings are only acceptable as one-off “landmarks” but Berkeley has already built a 30 storey building (the Westmark Tower) right next door to this one.

First red plaque in W9

Now we have many blue plaques in Paddington in both W9 & W2 parts but this morning we had our first red plaque in W9 put up along Clifton Gardens this morning. 

Here on the 13th of December in 1974, a horrific fire took hold in the Wosley Hotel for catering staff and cost the life of firemen, Hamish Petit along with six others. In honour of his life London Fire Brigade Union has put up this plaque. Acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice made by firemen in W9 and all around the world. So let us not forget the sacrifices public servants like firemen and women make particularly over the Christmas break. 

W9ers for the Bakerloo line

As the Evening Standard reported last week and this week again that the TfL financial crisis could mean the closing of entire tube line and whilst a tube line was not mentioned at the TfL Finance Committee, its considered that the line most likely to be closed is either the Bakerloo or Jubilee lines. 

Now having grown up on the Bakerloo line and campaigned successfully for the seating of the Bakerloo line to be brought up to standard whilst an AM at City Hall, l find the suggestion that the Bakerloo line could be closed alarming as a result of the financial arguments between TfL and Department of Transport.

This will be castastrophic for Little Venice & Maida Vale and their respective tube stations Warwick Avenue and Maida Vale, as it will not only hamper travel to W9, but also put at risk greener and sustainable travel. This would come on top of the losing the Bus No 414 going through W9 since TfL stop it going down the Edgware Rd from Marble Arch onwards. 

So let us make sure it does not happen, beginning with signing the petition with the link below;