Take action to get faster broadband speeds in Westminster

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As part of my ongoing efforts to address broadband urban not-spots , I am delighted that Westminster City Council have been pushing BT and other internet providers to improve the availability of superfast fibre broadband services in the West End and across Westminster on behalf of our residents and businesses.

I am delighted that BT have commitment to roll-out of fibre broadband where it can be demonstrated that there is sufficient demand. It is therefore vital that residents and businesses alike join forces with  Westminster City Council to help demonstrate the demand for faster broadband connections in the West End exists.

Westminster have therefore set up a website through which people can sign up to calling on BT to provide superfast fibre broadband in the West End (and other areas) for residents and businesses. Please visit www.westminster.gov.uk/broadband to add your voice to the campaign.

For business users, it is also worth noting the Government's superfast broadband ‘connection voucher’ for small and medium sized firms (SMEs), worth up to £3,000, which is available for use with BT OpenReach companies and also with other broadband providers not tied into the BT OpenReach network. SMEs can club together within multi-occupation buildings to combine their vouchers and reduce the costs of connection. 

The Government’s broadband connection voucher web page for London is:

Fitzrovia Festival 2015

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Fitzrovia Festival 2015 will take place from Wednesday 3 to Sunday 28 June with exhibitions, talks and walks.

The first event kicks off next week with an exhibition of textiles of quilts and other art and craftworks made by women at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre.

There is also an eBay auction of selected artworks to fundraise for future community development projects. Please have a a look at the lots on offer - happy bidding! http://festival.fitzrovia.org.uk/2015/05/26/fitzrovia-womens-community-art-exhibition-and-sale/

A full list of events for Fitzrovia Festival 2015 is here http://festival.fitzrovia.org.uk/events/

Fitzroy Place Update April 2015

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Fitzroy Place Newsletter April 2015

Crossrail: Tottenham Court Road – Goslett Yard Works Update

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Crossrail _goslett_yard.pdf

Crossrail: Hanover Square Works Update

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April 2015 Crossrail Update

Work on Bond Street Western Ticket Hall

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The attached diagram shows the progress being made  on the station access tunnels under Grays Antiques and the Army Reserve Centre. The escalator tunnel and the pilot tunnel are now complete and the developers are one sixth of the way through the main concourse tunnel. 

Assurances have been offered that disturbance will be kept to a minimal over the Easter weekend. As ever, if you have any questions or concerns please contact the 24 hour Crossrail Helpdesk on 0345 602 3813.

BOS WTH BFK works in progress - March 15.pdf

Crossrail 2 Update

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Crossrail 2 took a major step forward last week as Patrick McLouglin MP, the Secretary of State for Transport confirmed the safeguarding for the proposed Crossrail 2 route. This follows the £2m of funding allocated to us as part of the 2014 Autumn Statement, to develop the business case further.

Crossrail 2 is the proposed new high-frequency, high-capacity rail line running through London and into Surrey and Hertfordshire which will add significant capacity to London's rail network.

The issue of updated Safeguarding Directions in March by the Department for Transport (DfT) means the land that may be required for Crossrail 2 in the future is protected from conflicting development. The Safeguarding Directions refresh the old Chelsea-Hackney line Directions and instruct local authorities to consult TfL on planning applications for land within the safeguarded area. Safeguarding does not give the go ahead to construct Crossrail 2 or acquire any property.

The map below highlights the area in West End Ward that are included.

The confirmation of the Safeguarding Directions follows a formal consultation period undertaken by the DfT.

For more information about the what the Safeguarding Directions mean and detailed maps showing the areas covered please visit www.crossrail2.co.uk

The safeguarded area includes the possible route of the tunnels as well as land at ground level that may be used for the construction of the tunnels, stations and ventilation and emergency access shafts. The project team are now developing the route within the updated safeguarded boundaries, as well as the branch lines at either end of the Crossrail 2 route.

40 Beak Street Redevelopment Proposals

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Below are the details of the public exhibition on the proposals for 40 Beak Street. The Developers, Enstar Capital, expect to shortly submit a planning application to Westminster City Council for the redevelopment of this site.

The existing building is currently vacant. Under these proposals, the site would be cleared for a new mixed use development consisting of a Restaurant unit and four floors office space above.

The developer is inviting views from local residents on the proposals. I would encourage residents to review proposals and provide feedback on the scheme which should be submitted to 40beakstreet@fourcommunications.com


Soho Square Bazaar - Sunday, 29th March

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This Sunday, 29th March between 12 and 5pm The Soho Square Bazaar will be held in aid of St. Patrick’s Open House Outreach Programme.

This Bazaar is raising money for a great cause and will have stalls selling clothing, accessories, books, music, films and food.

If you would like to donate anything to the Bazaar or would like to bake biscuits or cakes to sell, please contact della.chivers@imagination.com

Fitzroy Place Newsletter March 2015

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The Mayfair Market - Upcoming Dates

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Brown Hart Gardens will be hosting a fortnightly food market every other Wednesday in 2015. Food lovers are sure to find tasty treats from around the world and the hustle and bustle of the market atmosphere is bound to make it an enjoyable experience.

The market is next being held this Wednesday, 25th March from 11am to 4pm. Future dates for the market can be found at the following link:

New Fine Announced To Fight Air Pollution

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Following many complaints from concerned residents and  business owners in  West End Ward I am pleased to see that Westminster Council has now announced a new step in an attempt to reduce air pollution and noise nuisance. The Council have announced that motorists who sit in a stationary vehicle with the engine running will be asked to switch it off leading to a £20 fine should they refuse. Many such vehicles in the West End are chauffeur driven cars that often park outside residential properties late at night and keep both their engines and sound systems running whilst waiting for their clients.

This measure may appear modest but is an important step in the right direction in improving both air quality and residential amenity. I welcome this change and look forward to many more measures to improve air quality to complement this one.

Broadband: What about the urban not spots?

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London consistently tops the league of global cities on a whole host of measure from sustainabilityquality of lifetax competitiveness and most desirable place to live and work. London is truly  the world’s greatest city.
Yet surprisingly, at the same time London ranks 26th out of 33 European Capital cities in terms of internet download speed, averaging just 25.44 Mbps, compared to 80.14Mbps in Bucharest and 78.6 Mbps in Paris. To maintain our position as the world’s greatest city, we need to deliver not only superfast broadband tomorrow, but build a technical infrastructure fit for the long-term future.
Superfast broadband is defined as speeds of 24Mbps or above. The Government’s ambition is to provide 95% of the UK with those speeds or higher by 2017, but by the end of this decade, it is estimated that consumers and business will need 165Mbps average download speed.
We need to be planning now for the next generation of ultra-fast broadband and mobile network to ensure London can be a Capital city which maximises the opportunities from ever increasing demand for content on demand and on the go through to the prospects of an Internet of Things, connecting everything including the kitchen sink to the web.
The Mayor has already pledged to deliver 5G mobile capacity by 2020, with the possibility of download speeds up to 1Tbps, but as we stand today only 47 per cent of premises in Westminster have access to superfast broadband and download speeds can be very slow and variable.
Falling through the gaps between Government funding for rural broadband to meet the target for superfast broadband coverage to reach 90 per cent of the UK by 2016 and the market led implementation, a House of Lords report concluded last week “we find it unacceptable that there are still urban areas experiencing internet ‘not spots’, which is hampering…the UK’s international competitiveness.”
The report challenges the incoming Government in May 2015 to prioritise infrastructure delivery to secure the UK’s position as a digital leader. But even delivering this target, for the majority superfast broadband will only deliver 24Mbps, not the >165Mbps needed for the future.
When it comes to broadband speed, mobile coverage, and 4G the Capital’s infrastructure is creaking. For residents and businesses in Westminster this simply is not good enough. Failure to act now will store up even worse future problems, planning now for the next phase of technological development is critical. London as the World’s greatest City must be ready to defend that title.
With record numbers of people living and working in London, demand for download capacity will only grow. London has the highest rate of internet use within UK regions with 90.3 per cent of those aged 16+ having accessed the internet, compared with over 20% of people in Northern Ireland who have never used the internet. Tackling ‘not-spots’ to deliver seamless transition between fixed-line broadband, mobile internet and workplace will enable London to stay ahead of the competition.
While there is plenty of work to do, which I am delighted is being spearheaded by the Conservative Technology Forum, the good news is we are already taking the first steps with Virgin announcing £3bn of investment that will benefits areas with high demand. The network can offer broadband speeds of up to 152Mbps, and this investment will deliver much needed capacity expansion which has seen demand on its network grow at a rate of around 60 percent a year which – leading to a 10,000 percent uplift in demand in just 10 years. Residents and businesses should register at www.virginmedia.com/cablemystreet to ensure their area benefits from the single largest investment in digital infrastructure in the country for more than a decade.
Test your own download speed here.