Night Tube Benefits Should Be Reviewed in a Pilot Scheme

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Article for Huffington Post

One of the final major acts of Boris Johnson's Mayoralty will be the Night Tube: a success story for the Conservatives, for London's economy, for Boris himself, and for those who will use it.
London is the greatest City in the world deserves a transport network to match that meets the needs of London as a 24-hour city.
In introducing the night tube, TFL should also be aware of the impact of residents, especially those who live above tube lines and near tube stations that will form part of the 24-hour network. In my role as a ward councillor for the West End, I represent some of the busiest nightlife stops in the Capital which will be most affected by the introduction of the new service.

First let's take a look at what the Night Tube actually means.
Demand for tube services has soared over recent years, with passenger numbers on Friday and Saturday nights up by around 70 per cent since 2000, we all know about the rush to get the last tube at night and the often overcrowded night bus services.
For West End Ward, the introduction of the night-tube will offer an alternative to many who come to the West End for the array of theatres, restaurants, bars and clubs. This will be welcomed by local business, particularly in area like Soho who have faced challenging times in recent years. We have 10 tube stations in or around my ward - some of the most iconic and busiest stations on the network; All 10 of these tube stations will be part of the Night Tube service.
As a councillor, my first concern has to be for the area and residents that I represent on Westminster City Council.
Night Tube unlock the potential for longer opening hours for bars, clubs and other venues, and this must be managed in a way that allows businesses to flourish and customers to benefit without a detrimental impact on local residents. The West End is already a hot spot for nights out, and with longer opening hours comes the potential for more alcohol-fuelled nights out, and the consequences that follow.
This is where the responsibility of license holders will come into play in partnership with the council and police who have the responsibility for public order.
Westminster Council, and indeed any council affected by the Night Tube across London, needs to ensure that those asking for later licenses provide the adequate security to ensure customers can enjoy later hours in a safe and responsible environment, and that ensures the area is not negatively affected by their increased license.
One of the major advantages of the extended tube services will hopefully be improved safety for passengers, with access to later reducing demand for illegal minicabs, making night buses in turn less crowded and more comfortable and improving the safety of taxis at night.
London is the best city in the world, and like other world-class cities it deserves and warrants a night tube, but it needs to be well staffed, and the safety of Londoners, and local residents, needs to be at the forefront of delivery of the new service.
In my role as an advisor to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), I know what great work London's Police are doing to safeguard our city.
TFL have already promised an enhanced policing presence during the overnight services, with more than 100 officers to patrol the 144 stations that will be open throughout the night each weekend when the Night Tube services begin. With addition Transport Police Community Support Officers also out on the network to assist passengers, and support police officers. I will be looking to TFL and the Metropolitan Police to take swift action to deal with disturbances both on the network and in local neighbourhoods affected by the night tube.
The other real concern that I have for the West End is not about the people getting home after a good night out but about people arriving in the West End after a good night out. It is not clear what modelling, if any, underlies the assumptions that have informed TfL's predictions as to usage. However many people will now be tempted to go to their local pubs and clubs in the evening and decide, possibly at 2am, to head "up West" to continue their entertainment. This could see large numbers of very drunk people arriving in the West End in the early hours going in search of late night clubs and running the real risk of being refused entry and taking out their disappointment not just of the security staff at the venues but on the West End and its residents.
Safeguarding residents, the local area, and those visiting Central London, is of paramount importance. There are many potential benefits from the Night Tube which will cut late night journeys times and extending London's night-time economy. However, in unlocking these benefits we must be prepared to review and react to the unexpected and ensure the advantages of longer tube opening are not lost by damage done elsewhere. I feel a pilot scheme and more honest figures from TfL are essential if we are to face up to these problems and the implications for the stretched resources of the Council and Police.
As many wise licensees say it is the tenth pint which gives you 10% of the profit and 100% of the problems.

Frith Street Proposals - Public Exhibition Boards

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Benesco Charity Ltd will shortly be submitting a planning application to Westminster City Council for the refurbishment of 53-55 Frith Street and 8-10 Bateman Street.

The proposal is to extensively refurbish the buildings to provide improved office, residential, retail and restaurant accommodation.

If you would like further information or a separate briefing on the proposals, please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Richards on 020 3697 4294 or via email

Crossrail - Hanover Square Ticket Hall Update

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Please see below the Information Sheet about the latest works taking place at the Hanover Square Ticket Hall.

Crossrail - Alternative Vehicle Routes for Davies St

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Please find below the latest Information Sheet about alternative vehicle routes and the demobilisation of the BFK tunnelling works in the Crossrail Bond Street western ticket hall.

Who should be the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London?

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The Conservative Party is holding an online primary to select its candidate for the 2016 London Mayoral Election. Anyone in London who is on the electoral roll can register to vote to help the party choose who will stand for the Conservatives in the election next year.

The current Mayor of London Boris Johnson was selected as the Conservative candidate in 2007 using a primary and the party is again giving all Londoners the opportunity to be involved in the process.

Four candidates have been shortlisted to stand in the primary. Andrew Boff, Zac Goldsmith, Stephen Greenhalgh and Syed Kamall

Voting will take place online during September following an official hustings, with the result announced at the end of September, ahead of the Conservative Party conference. 

The election for Mayor takes place on Thursday 5th May 2016.

Demobilisation at Bond St Crossrail Station

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Please see below the latest Information Sheet about the demobilisation of the BFK tunnelling works in the Crossrail Bond Street western ticket hall.

Nightingale House, 65 Curzon Street - Public Exhibition

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A planning application for the redevelopment of Nightingale House, on Curzon Street, will shortly be submitted to Westminster City Council.

The proposal is to provide a new high-quality residential building, with a new retail arcade on the ground floor linking Stratton Street and Curzon Street.

If you have any questions, please contact

Park Lane Mews Hotel Public Consultation

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Genting UK PLC will shortly be submitting a planning application to Westminster City Council for the redevelopment of the Park Lane Mews Hotel on Stanhope Row and a number of adjacent properties.

The site currently benefits from two existing permissions for the site granted in 2010 and 2013 (09/09841/FULL and 12/10538/FULL) for the redevelopment of the site for a new hotel with an ancillary casino.

The current planning application, necessitated by the change in ownership of the site, broadly follows the same principles of the existing planning permissions – a new hotel, with ancillary residential and casino uses, designed to a high quality.

If you have any further questions please email

Buildings now ranked of quality of Connectivity

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A new scheme which shows the quality and capacity of internet and broadband connectivity in buildings is now being introduced, similar to the scores on the doors scheme for restaurants and catering premises.

Building owners can now make clear how good the connectivity is and prospective tenants can assess whether the connectivity is sufficient for their needs.

As Lead Member for Broadband and Connectivity at Westminster we have been working with the City and major landowners and stakeholders to encourage them to ensure that sufficient capacity is built into their developments and refurbishments in the same way as sufficient supplies of water and electricity are taken as a given.

Individual occupiers can then key into this infrastructure according to their specific needs.

This is a useful step towards ensuring that the current areas poorly served by the historic infrastructure can be given the kind of service that they need to operate businesses in the twenty first century.

Please follow this link to the scheme.

The NHS: leading the way in transparency for taxpayers

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My article for Conservative Home with Owen Meredith.

Earlier this month, the government announced a significant but under reported change in the way the NHS in England will issue prescription medicines. From next year, medicines that cost more than £20 per pack will have the indicative cost, alongside the words “funded by the UK taxpayer” printed on the pack.

This is a welcome and bold move. It takes another step in the direction of empowering people and providing them with more information about the public services they use. We have written before about the importance of users of all public services better understanding the cost and value of those services. Not only does this help greater understanding of the politics and economics of public services, is also gets over the something-for-nothing culture that often prevails.

It would be madness not to look at the £14.4 billion cost of prescription drugs to the NHS, which rose 7.6 per cent last year, at a time when the NHS needs to find £22 billion of efficiency savings over the next five years. These savings need to be made even while NHS spending as a whole is protected and will in fact rise by £10 billion.

In an article in September 2012, we argued:

To rebalance the economy and restore a rational state, the Government needs to act boldly and remind taxpayers just what it is they are paying for… following a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Ben Gummer MP, Osborne took the next baby step in the transparency agenda and adopted individual tax statements… but tax statements are only one side of the coin… What is also needed is a personalised statement of services to be issued alongside your tax statement… to break the cycle of dependency and deliver a smaller State, we need everyone to be more connected to what we get and what we pay for it.”
The move by Jeremy Hunt to inform patients of the costs of medicines dispensed on prescription is another very welcome step along that pathway to better transparency and understanding. Let us also take this opportunity to remind ourselves why this is needed. As it stands, we are expected to deliver a budget deficit of £69.5 billion in 2015/16, that is spending £1,000 more than we raise in taxes – this year alone – for every man, woman and child living in the UK. With Government departments needing to find 40 per cent savings in order to plug that gap and deliver balanced books, we need to bring public opinion with us when cutting the size of the state. The easiest way to do that is to show people exactly what it costs.

And there is plenty of evidence to support the case. In Wales where prescriptions are free, Paracetamol – which costs as little as little as 23 pence over the counter – is prescribed on the NHS at the rate of more than 1 million prescriptions a year. In fact, doctors in Wales wrote more than 74 million prescriptions for free medication last year. The statistics published by the Welsh Government reveal that the number of prescription drugs being issued is now 52 per cent higher than a decade ago. This is a scandalous waste of public resources. Simply reminding people (and doctors) of the cost to their purse and those of other taxpayers would have a behavioural impact on demand that could reduce demand by at least 20 per cent.

Take another example, there have been numerous studies on the cost of pathology tests and how simply changes to request forms or making doctors aware of the cost of tests dramatically reduces the number of unnecessary tests carried out. Replicating this across all public services is a sensible approach to reduce waste and manage costs.

In making this simple change, Jeremy Hunt is seeking to tackle the level of prescription waste, which costs the NHS £300 million a year. He is beginning to broker a new deal between the citizen and State and in so doing will reaffirm the value of public services received.

West End Ward Surgery - Friday 31 July

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Unfortunately I will be absent from this month’s Surgery due to unforeseen circumstances . However, my colleague, Councillor Glenys Roberts, will be representing the Ward at St Anne’s Church, 55 Dean Street from 5pm to 6pm.

If you are unable to attend this drop-in and have Ward issues to raise , Councillor Paul Church, will be taking a surgery on Saturday 1 August at 2pm at Danceworks, Balderton St.

Alternatively you can contact me via email to raise any issues or concerns that you may have on

I look forward to seeing you as usual at the next Surgery which will be taking place on Friday 28 August.

Fight the Flytippers in Westminster

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Dumped rubbish on Westminster's streets is an ongoing battle within the Ward and 75 City Inspectors are now on our streets to comabt this issue.

Please help us keep our streets clean by reporting flytipping online. Either send details and photos to us on Twitter using #FightFlytippers or fill in our quick online form at

Crossrail: Tottenham Court Road - latest works information

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Please see below to view the latest works notification about the closure of Dean Street to through traffic to facilitate the removal of a scaffolding structure around the Nellie Dean public house.

Please also note that contractor, Laing O’Rouke, will be receiving a large welfare cabin delivery at the Goslett Yard worksite on the morning of 22 July 2015 approx 6am. The large load will be brought in under escort.