Category Archives: News

Update – Derelict telephone boxes in W9


A derelict phone kiosk reported to BT with its appalling graffiti, which needs replacing.

We have managed to get moved one of the derelict telephone kiosks at Warrington Gardens,W9 but there are still a number of red telephones boxes in W9 – Shirland Rd, Bristol Gardens & Clifton Rd – where the boxes need urgent repair and maintenance or just a simple paint job! 

It strikes me that BT don’t know what to with these assets even though its quite clear no one uses them in the mobile phone era. So let us start asking questions about what they are doing about individual ones in our neighbourhoods, starting with the ones in Little Venice. Do tell us of any others in the locality that need reporting to them to repair and maintenance asap or even remove. 

Cycle hangars in Westminster

bicycle hangars found on the edge of John Aird Court sponsored by the GLA

A great report on London’s Cycle Hangars by Fare City shows how the City of Westminsters hangars compare with other London boroughs. In a nutshell, Westminster has 137 cycle hangars with 3,000 waiting list charged at £ 72 a year for a space in a bike hangar. In comparison they charge £112 a year for a small car space which compares favourably with other London boroughs. 

Yet there is clearly a need for more cycle hangars in the City for many residents on the waiting list. So lets get install a lot more of them after the 5th of May local elections. In the meantime, l’ll stick to my Santander bike key for travelling around Central London where there is a docking station! 

Defending the Bakerloo line in W9

Since last November we have heard a lot about a potential 9 per cent reduction in Tube services due to the reduced funding from Central government to TfL. And we all knew that the Bakerloo line was most at risk of at least a reduction in service given how it has not had any investment in its infrastructure like the carriages and tube stations themselves for many years.

This in top of the 414 bus service cut from going through W9 from Marble Arch meant that many locals signed up our the petition which we handed in to the Department recently.

Please see the Little Venice Labour candidates for the Local Election on the 5th of May, myself, Rosie Wrighting, and Sara Hassan,  at the Department for Transport handing in the petition to ensure the Bakerloo Line is saved above. 

It was widely reported that the Bakerloo line is at risk of closure due to the pandemic decimating the income from fares that huge government cuts forced TfL to rely on. Unlike national rail and other public transport systems in the UK and worldwide, the government refused to fund TfL, instead forcing several short-term “bailouts”, each with demands for heavy cuts to London’s critical transport.

We rely on the Bakerloo line for work, leisure, and to meet our friends and family. That’s why Little Venice Labour led a petition to demand the Bakerloo line is properly protected and supported.

And the community has come together to demand the same – we’ve seen posters calling for the Bakerloo line to be saved in local shops,  and there’s been huge support for our petition from communities all along the Bakerloo line.

Unfortunately, the government’s pressure on TfL has continued, with cuts to services already affecting our buses. We still need the government to properly support TfL and our transport system, and Londoners.

We must also have others residents in W9 to continue signing the petition, as this issue unfortunately will not be going away soon. So please use the link below to get more signatories amongst our neighbours, friends and relatives.

Houseboats – saving a way of life along the canals of Little Venice

Last Saturday l joined a demo of hundreds of house boaters organised by National Barge Travellers Association ( NBTA London branch ) in front of the Canal & Rivers Trust (CRT) offices in Little Venice.  

Those who live on houseboats along the canals of London, rightly feel the right to live in their boats as their homes, is under threat from CRT measures along the canals and rivers of London. These measures may well threaten in time those who live in houseboats in Little Venice as well along Maida Avenue and Blomfield Rd. 

The houseboat community, is one of the unique features of Little Venice ward. So we went along to show solidarity with house boaters keen to show their boats are homes as well and thats the way it should be seen. So when l spoke l indicated that those living on our waters should have the same rights as those on shore and the freedom to roam as we do also on land. 

So we – Murad Qureshi, Sara Hassan & Rosie Wrighting as Labour candidates – are commitment to defending the house boat community in Little Venice way of life, at the local election of the 5th of May in the City of Westminster Council. 

Money laundering in @CityWestminster #Londongrad

Blood-stained road sign in Bayswater illustrating what Ukrainian demonstrators outside Russian Embassy (around the corner on the Bayswater Rd) say its contributing to the attacks on their homeland – money laundering in Londongrad!

London is the global hub of money laundering, with 28 percent of it centred in the City of Westminster alone according to Transparency International UK. They found 2,189 companies registered in the UK and their offshore havens were used in 48 Russian money laundering and corruption cases, including bribery and embezzlement and involving over £82 billion. 

Huge amounts of this money are funnelled through Westminster property – nearly £430m by Russians accused of corruption or government links. In neighbourhoods like Bayswater, it’s having an impact on housing: the owners of one in ten homes in Westminster are unknown, making this the topic of discussion amongst local residents rather than right-to-buy as in other parts of London, as it clearly skews the local property market. 

Unsurprisingly l twice raised the issue when l was an Assembly Member at the London Assembly to then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. 

He and his office were in denial, though he subsequently accepted “…there needs to be proper transparency in the Land Registry and elsewhere.” But now he’s at No 10, he can do something about it by creating a foreign property ownership register in the UK and seizing  the London properties of Putin’s cronies. 

These aren’t new ideas: at the last General Election there was a call for a oligarch levy (officially known as the Offshore Company Property Levy) and John McDonnell MP set out Labour’s plan to take on the Russian oligarchs. It would have introduced a charge on purchases of residential property by offshore trusts located in known tax havens, based on a blacklist of tax havens developed by HMRC. It is similar in principle and application to the 15 per cent levy recently introduced in Toronto on foreign property owners or that Singapore and Hong Kong have maintained for many years. It appears its time has come! 

Only last weekend, the French Interior Ministry seized property and assets of oligarchs in France. They have overridden legal attempts to stop them by invoking emergency powers. Anything is possible, you just need the will.

But in London, sanctions on Putin’s cronies were held up by their London law firms challenging such a move. Paris acted, and we used emergency powers during Covid to push through a lot more than this, so clearly the Conservatives lack the will to act- although what they lack in will, they make up for in donations, with nearly £120,000 donated by Russian government-linked oligarchs to the City of Westminster’s Conservatives alone.

It’s clear that corruption is on our doorstep. Westminster is a great place to live, but not only does this contribute to misery around the world by sustaining authoritarian regimes, it also has a direct impact here. The investment of enormous sums of dirty money in Westminster’s property market drives up house prices and property rents, taking them out of the reach of most local people.

It should not have taken the Russian invasion of the Ukraine to make money laundering the issue it has become globally. Now national and local politicians must finally deal with its implications in our global city.

This blog has been published in Westminster Extra in their edition for the week beginning the 4th of March 2022.










Traffic noise – number one problem along Maida Vale?

During my time at the London Assembly, one of the major issues was Heathrow Airport and its environmental impact. While some would emphasis its CO2 emissions and air pollution impact the emission that the vast majority of local residents in the Heathrow villages and Hounslow would emphasis most was air craft noise, that is is noise pollution.  And the residents of Westminster are no different at all, whether in Soho or Mayfair and along major red routes like the Edgware Rd & Maida Vale, its traffic noise coming from motorised vehicles like cars and motorcycles that causes residents the most grief. 

So hearing about the new technology that has been developed in Paris, where it records the noise levels and also the vehicles involved in one instrument, is where l think we need to go in Central London via boroughs like the City of Westminster. 

More so after TfL road safety efforts improvements in the City of Westminster, with 20 miles per hour speed limit now on red routes going through the borough.  As we have many residents who are victims of the road noise like along the Edgware Rd & Maida Vale red route, joint collaboration should be possible between the City of Westminster and TfL to deal with the twin problems of speeding and noise. 

It also helps that traffic noise is a function of speeding. That is the higher the speed, the noisier its gets with the car and motorcycles as well. 

So let us see if there is any change of priorities on 5th of May local elections in the City of Westminster concerning its environmental priorities. l for one will continue to push for its adoption as a priority with the adoption of new technology along with the cameras TfL are already putting on their red routes through the City. 


Worst Police Commissioner of the Metropolis?

Well before #partygate, Cressida Dick was being considered the worst Police Commissioner of the metropolis in living memory – and for very good reasons as well.

This is not surprisingly really, as during her tenure, we have had the Met accused of institutionalised corruption by the Independent Report of Daniel Morgan’s murder investigation from the 1980s; misogyny in the handling of the Sarah Everard case; and conducting a homophobic police investigation into the four Barking lads killed before Christmas.

The Report of the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan accused Dame Cressida Dick of obstructing the work of the inquiry into the Morgan case by denying access to documents which the panel thought vital. It blamed the force for it taking eight years to reach its conclusions. The Commissioner was forced to publicly deny the Report’s central conclusion that the Met was institutionally corrupt.

The Sarah Everard case is as clear a case of misogyny by a policeman as you are ever going to find, but let us not also forget the overreaction by the Met as officers were accused of “grabbing and mishandling” women as hundreds defied warnings to attend the vigil event in Clapham, South London. This sparked a ferocious backlash among women against the “disgraceful” advice issued after Sarah Everard murder.

As for the four boys – Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate – murdered in Barking by Stephen Port after being drugged with GHB and then raped by him, they was a clear pattern which the murder investigation never picked up on till it was far too late. This failing has led to accusations that it was a homophobic police investigation.

All this institutionalised corruption, misogyny and homophobia were revealed in the course of last year alone.

What more can you add to the list? Let’s not forget Cressida Dick’s involvement in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, whose family issued a statement saying she could not “command public confidence” as Commissioner of the Metropolitan police. Dick was the gold commander in the control room during the operation which led to the death of de Menezes, wrongly identified as a potential suicide bomber. The 27-year-old Brazilian national was repeatedly shot in the head at Stockwell tube station in South London.

At a 2008 inquest into his killing, Dick said: “If you ask me whether I think anybody did anything wrong or unreasonable on the operation, I don’t think they did.” The inquest jury returned an open verdict, seen as demonstrating its members were unconvinced by the police account of events.

Meanwhile, levels of knife crime in London last year have never been higher. So, truth be told, she should never have been rehired last year for another two years, particularly after what has happened in the past year under her watch.

You can also add what the Independent Office of Police Conduct said about Charing Cross Police station. It is one of the few police stations left in the City of Westminster, after Johnson closed many of them while Mayor of London, where residents can still go to a front desk. So hearing from the Office that the canteen culture from the 1970s and 1980s has not changed at all explains a lot about the policing of our City and in particularly Central London.  

Local press reaction to Charing Cross Police station canteen culture in Westminster

And just recently Yasmin Chkaifi was a victim of domestic violence on the streets of Maida Vale after the Met had failed to arrest her assailant – even when a stalking protection order had been breached and she notified the police that she feared for her life at the very beginning of the New Year. The only decent thing to come out of this episode for the Met is that they eventually released the young man who attempted to run down her assailant with his car when she was being attacked. But the lack of response to the initial cries for assistance will just add to women’s concerns about the Met’s handling of such cases. 

Some have said it all takes us back to the days before the Macpherson Report into the killing of Stephen Lawrence on the streets of South East London. No wonder Harriet Harman MP, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Diane Abbott MP – and now Stella Creasy MP – have all called on Cressida Dick to resign. Frankly, she should never have been given a two year extension on her contract last year. All that has happened since then has simply increased the number of her critics who feel she should go. 

An extended piece of this blog has been publicised in Labour Hub today. 

Bell Street shop fronts need sorting out

Bell Street in Church St Ward is the forgotten street between Edgware Rd and Marylebone station, where we could do with some of the shop fronts being sorted out through the regeneration efforts in Church Street via planning enforcement. 

Recently the reopening of Lisson St ( as a pedestrian walkway ) in the Green spine in Church St has opened up, exposing the empty shop unit at the corner of Bell St. Clearly the street closure of Lisson St has been a success if you count the numbers of residents using the walkway through to the Gardens and shops. Yet the corner is blighted by this empty shop front with a lot of graffiti. It has been like this for many years now and does need sorting out probably with some planning enforcement.  So watch this space for some action. 

Now it is always good to see new local businesses opening up in the neighbourhood particularly in these times on the previous derelict corner of Bell St and Corlett St.  But the shutters don’t help the street look open at all! Whilst they may well be good security grounds for them, it does not help advertise the business when closed up. So why are we not having these shutters being built behind the window frontage? Indeed they seems to be some inconsistencies along Bell St, with Jasons Fabrics on the corner of Edgware and other businesses at the top end of Bell having shutters behind their window frame working very well.  So again we need some consistent planning enforcement along the street, so as all known what businesses are behind the closed shutters! 


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.