Boris Johnson’s poor legacy in London

21 front panel to deal with residents concerns in Southall Waterside Development

As l went around Greater London last week to public events around the boroughs l saw the true legacy of Boris Johnson time as Mayor of London on schemes and proposals which do not normally get much attention. 

At a public meeting of the Southall Waterside Development otherwise know as Southall Gate works site. we heard of the huge problems facing residents health because of the air pollution and the great stink coming out through the site. 

In light these problems, it should never of been “called in” by the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson when Ealing Council had thrown it out originally. 

At another public meeting we saw local residents of Woolwich Arsenal complaining about the adverse impact of TfL’s Siertown Tunnel proposal to communities on both sides of the Thames. We should not forget that after winning the 2008 Mayoral contest, one of the first things Mayor of London Boris Johnson did was drop building out the Thames Gateway bridge linking Thamesmead in South London to Beckton in Newham. Something local government in London has been saying needs doing since the 1970’s!  If he had continued with that Bridge, l am sure we would not have need this tunnel proposal at all. 

This is just some of the mess, Boris Johnson as Mayor of London left to Londoners on this return to the Commons. So what can we expect when he becomes PM for the country? No doubt, a similar trial of bad decision making and false economies. 

Attending these meeting has made me determined to represent Londoners across the region again at the London Assembly.

Silvertown Tunnel meeting in Woolwich Arsenal

Don’t attack Iran rally

Donald Trump has taken a number of steps to create war in Iran including ripping up the Iran Nuclear Agreement; escalated crippling sanctions; designating their military as terrorists and sending more troops and aircraft into the Region

Here in the UK, both candidates for the Tory party leadership ( and hence the next Prime Minister )  – Jeremy Hunt & Boris Johnson – are competing between themselves  to aligning with Trump while Teresa May is being left in the dark about what the US is actually doing. So much for the special relationship.

So British government should call for restraint and deescalation and explicitly rule out military options with Trumps administration dangerous brinksmanship in the Middle East.

The Boris Johnson show

The Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London gets a very hostile reception in Clapham after the riots of 2011.

As Boris Johnson becomes a shoe in for the next Tory Party leader and as a result the next Prime Minister, lets not forget what we are getting – the Boris Johnson show.  

Now whilst l was at City Hall for the whole of his two terms, my abiding memory of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London was when the riots started in the summer of 2011, he did not want to come back from his hols when London was burning! It was the only time he was out of kilter with mood in London and so much so that he got a very hostile reception when we did eventually get back in Clapham. 

Many people backing him in London cite his time at City Hall. For example James Cleverly MP piece in the Evening Standard last week but a much better piece is a blog piece by Brian Coleman. Both served him as his Chair of the London Fire Brigade, but Brian’s piece gives much more in sight of the man himself than anything else you may read so far and in the coming few weeks. Finally l am not surprised that Boris Johnson did not turn up for the C4 debate for the Tory Party leadership on Sunday night. After all he would be too busy writing another column for the Telegraph for their Monday morning edition, as he has done for most of political life. Showing to all what his priority is all along – himself.  So the Boris Johnson continues to its next chapter.

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.