SEBRA – Spring 2023 Column

Success in saving the 205 route to Paddington

In the last edition of SEBRA for Autumn 2022, l reported the efforts to save the 205 bus route still going to Paddington. I am glad to say TfL saw the wisdom of myself along with many rail operators along the Euston & Marylebone Road to continue this bus route between the railway terminuses and tube stations, as it’s a critical part of the integrated transport we expect in Central London. 

We had the 160th birthday of the tube from Paddington to Farringdon in January, at platform 5 & 6 of Baker Street and these should continue throughout the year. What was disappointing was that nothing as yet has been done at Paddington Tube station on Praed St even though it was the beginning of the tube service and a response to connecting Paddington station with Central London, over 160 years ago which was then copied around the world. 

Some historical lessons can be learnt for Old Oak Common as well from Paddington’s railway stations experience of linking up with the rest of London, when it’s being discussed whether it should be the terminus for HS2 given the huge cost overruns.   If this did happen it would mean Old Oak Common would become the new Paddington of the 21st century and this will happen anyway as the terminus will be the temporary terminus for HS2 coming to London. 

Strike Action continues along Praed St    

Strike actions continue along Praed St in response to the cost of living crisis but this time not centred around Paddington Railway stations and rail staff but St Mary’s Hospital and the nurses and ambulance staff. They chanted “claps don’t pay the bills” on their picket lines and got a lot of support from passing traffic. 

For the first time in their history, tens of thousands of Royal College of Nursing members took part in strikes during December to demand fair pay and improved patient safety. As the government has failed to act, they have been forced to continue their action into 2023. Strikes will take place across England again from the morning of the 1st of March to the morning of the 3rd of March. 

While the Ambulance strike, Unison argues that industrial action is always a last resort, and the NHS is in crisis and without proper investment from the government it will only get worse.  We are living in the worst cost of living crisis for 30 years, as everyone’s struggling, with the government’s pay award amounting to just an extra 72 p an hour. And as for patient safety, the number of staff vacancies are at a record high and without enough staff, the NHS simply can not deliver safe and efficient care.  In a nutshell, Unison members simply want a pay rise that is a better match for inflation.   

Metropolitan Police 

With the recent scandal of domestic staff use in Little Venice, we must be mindful of Modern Day Slavery in Paddington particularly with migrant domestic workers. They are at more risk of abuse as they were kept outside of the Modern Slavery Act and thus a missed opportunity  to provide any legal protection for them.  

Saying this, l do know the Met Police Trafficking and Kidnap Unit works closing with NGO partners to encourage victims to formally report any allegations of servitude. A significant amount of work had taken place between the MPS and organisations that support domestic migrant workers to ensure they received appropriate help and support if exploited when l was previously at City Hall. So let’s make sure we send potential migrant domestic workers working under modern day slavery, are pointed to the right bit of the Met. 

Council Taxes for 2023/24 in West Central  

Westminster Band D households will pay £912 a year from April, an increase of £48 (predominantly from the GLA precept) for the financial year 2023/24. Nearby Hammersmith & Fulham Council, which has the third lowest average council tax bill in England, is upping the charge by 4.99%, meaning an average bill of £1,306.  

This will see a big investment in temporary housing, the lowest Band D council tax in the country & and free school meals form the centrepiece of Westminster City Council Budget to make for a fairer city for all in our City.  

While the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea are similarly freezing their Council Tax like Westminster City Council but at a level already higher than either at Westminster or Hammersmith & Fulham.

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