Archive for 2012
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail western ticket hall at Bond Street, contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture (CSJV) will be maintaining the closure of Gilbert Street between Weighhouse Street and St Anselms Place from the 21 December 2012. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details.
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail western ticket hall a Bond Street, our contractor Costain Skanska Joint Venture has been installing dewatering wells to reduce the water levels in the area as excavation proceeds within the ticket hall. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details:
Prior to the arrival of Crossrail’s Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) in Spring 2013, it is necessary to install shallow datum monitoring equipment close to the tunnel alignment to measure possible settlement in the different depths as it passes beneath the South Molton Lane. The equipment will also be used to monitor any changes that may occur to the various utilities within the street.
Please see the information sheet below for further information about the work.
Fitzrovia Community Centre Christmas Party will be hosting thier first Christmas Party on Thursday 13th December 2012, 6.30 - 9.00 pm.
"As a gesture of our appreciation for all the support during the last year we would like to invite you to our first Christmas party where there will be a short musical performance, light food, wine and mince pies. Many thanks to Brigit and Richard Kramer, and Guy Ritchie for their kind donation.
RSVP: Tel 020 7580 8680 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The first of the grout shaft hoardings has now received its decorative treatment and is looking much better.
Crossrail agreed to work with the Soho Society, local artist Lanre and other members of the community to produce suitable and informative artwork to beautify the otherwise unattractive hoardings around the compensation grouting shafts which will be in Soho Square for the next few years.
Further hoardings will illustrate aspects of Soho life. The current panels celebrate the life of Mrs Cornelys who was a local impresario and femme fatale.
The American Express Shop West End VIP Weekend will be taking place on Saturday 24 November, creating a traffic free environment on Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Oxford Street (eastbound from Portman Street to Tottenham Court Road) and (westbound from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch) will be closed to traffic from 8am to 8pm on Saturday 24 November 2012. Regent Street (from Mortimer Street to Piccadilly Circus) will be closed for the same period. Bond Street will remain open to traffic.
Please see the attached document below for information regarding re-routing local buses. Please also click on this link for a road closures map and list of affected streets.
Yesterday I wrote to the Chairmen of all the West End Residents’ Associations and copy that letter below.
Please see below the Crossrail Bulletin below for all the latest information on the project.
Please also take the opportunity to visit the Tottenham Court Road Visitors’ Centre to view an exciting new display which has a strong tunnelling focus. The display also contains general information about the Crossrail project.
The Tottenham Court Road Visitors’ Centre is located at 16-18, St Giles High Street, WC2H 8LN and is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 11.00 - 19.00.
At the recent Conservative Party Conference the LGBT Tory stand promoting equal marriage, as supported by the Prime Minister, had a prominent location opposite the main party stand.
Support for equal marriage and the statement that the Prime Minister made that ‘I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.’ meant that there was a stream of visitors expressing their support.
The photographs show me with Maria Miller, the Equalities Minister, and also Colm Howard Lloyd, who campaigns on this issue.
The removal of spoil from the site which requires up to 100 lorries per day is nearing completion and the raft of the basement should be completed by Christmas. There is one more tower crane to be erected to allow the surface cores to rise and in the New Year the steel work will start to be erected to show the full extent of the development.
The Chapel which is to be preserved as part of the development is now standing proud having been underpinned and its future secured through monies allocated as part of the planning permission so that it will be a place available to the Committee for generations to come.
The chapel is part of the parish of St. George’s in Hanover Square and is very much a part of the Mayfair community.
Richard speaks fluent German and Portuguese which will no doubt help with the international element to the local congregation. He will start to take services immediately and will officiate at the Remembrance Service on 11th November.
In the meantime St. Anne’s Church in Dean Street has announced that it has now found a new Priest in the form of Simon Buckley who will be formally appointed in February.
He will fill the role which has been vacant for some time and his background in film and the entertainment industry should stand them in good stead with the challenges ahead in Soho to rebuild the trust of the local community with the church.
A link to an article from the West End Extra setting out some of the details to his background is attached.
This week I took part in the latest MOPAC Challenge following my appointment as an advisor on property to the Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime, Stephen Greenhalgh.
The MOPAC Challenge is an opportunity for the Mayor's Office publicly to hold the Metropolitan Police to account and scrutinise their plans for keeping London safe.
MOPAC have challenged to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to drive down crime in key categories by at least 20%; cut costs by 20%; and improve public confidence in policing by 20% over the next 4 years. To meet that challenge MOPAC and the MPS will seek to cut estate costs in order to support investment in front line policing and to get more 'bobbies on the beat'.
At this month's Challenge the Deputy Commissioner announced plans to review the MPS's currently 900,000sqM of estate across London to both save money and improve the quality of the police estate. Significant savings will come from the release of Head Office buildings, such as New Scotland Yard, which no longer meet the needs of 21st century policing.
Here you can watch a video of the Challenge meeting from October 30th: http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/webcast_mopac_challenge_301012.asx
The detailed application for the building above the Crossrail station (Bond Street West) are now being considered through a formal Planning Application.
The owners of the site, The Grosvenor Estate, are holding a public exhibition to canvas local views which will utilise the attached slides.
If you have any comments now is your chance to be part of the consultation.
Community Liaison Panel Presentation 18 10 12 -
Prior to the arrival of Crossrail’s Tunnel Boring Machines in the Regent Street area, it is necessary to install monitoring equipment on certain utility services. Please see the Information Street below for further information:
Cork Street, the iconic international art street, is in danger of being demolished and turned into luxury apartments. The Cork Street galleries have created a public campaign to save it. Help by Signing the Petition.
A rally will take place from 11am-midday, Saturday 13th October Outside Native Land's office at 10-12 Cork Street, W1
The rally will be a peaceful, artistic gathering of artists, arts professionals and local Mayfair residents and will include a backdrop of brightly coloured Save Cork Street banners. A group photo will also be taken.
|Image thanks to Phil Starling |
Here I am pictured with Westminster City Councillor Jonathan Glanz at Westminster City Hall, where I handed over our Save Cork Street petition of 10,753 supporters.
I have also sent a document outlining evidence illustrating how Cork Street, the undisputed internationally famous contemporary art street, is under threat by property developers. The Save Cork Street e-petition has gained 10,753 signatures over the past month, demonstrating huge public support for this campaign.
Under the terms of the Government’s Core Strategy Policy CS26 (Buildings and Uses of International and National Importance), the Save Cork Street committee believes the West End Commission should urgently consider the far-reaching and devastating impact the proposed property developments by The Pollen Estate and Native Land, would have on Cork Street’s international art dealers and the West End.
I should also like to especially thank Elliot Lee, who, together with Siti Osman-Haywood our Gallery Manager, took the time and trouble to initially formulate the wording for the Save Cork Street Petition.
Please see the petition below. Our target is 20,000 signatures
All the best,
Following the re-election of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London, Stephen was appointed as Deputy Mayor to take on day-to-day responsibility for this role. Following an open recruitment process, I have been appointed to give specific advice on rationalisation of the Met’s property portfolio to deliver for the current and future needs of the Met and Greater London.
The Met currently owns more than 800 sites across Greater London including stations and non-operational buildings. Currently the Met occupies more than 10,000,000 square feet of estate with an operational need for just 6,500,000. The key task in the coming months and years will be to make the Met estate fit for purpose and to ensure that operational needs are met so as to improve public access to the police. The Estate review will also need to deliver costs savings to ensure funding available is directed to front line services and policing.
New West End Company (NWEC) launched their new five year business plan for Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and the surrounding streets in the West End.
I was happy to attend the launch and support the proposal so that further improvements to Public Realm, transport and air quality can be achieved over the next five years.
Please click here for the full media release.
As part of the works to prepare Bond Street for the arrival of the tunnel boring machines work will be undertaken in the King’s Scholars’ Pond sewer under South Molton Lane to ensure that it is protected from any potential for ground movement. Please see the Information Sheet for further details:
It is proposed to demolish and rebuild the block of flats on the corner of Curzon Street and Clarges Street including the famous Mirabelle Restaurant.
The exhibition will provide an opportunity to view our plans and speak to members of our team about any questions you may have.
You may want to comment on this application whilst still under consultation as this will be the unique opportunity to improve this large and important site.
Exhibtion Invite FINAL -
Here is my article which was published on The Commentator yesterday about individual tax transparency and the need to improve the information given to taxpayers.
The Government’s debt mountain grows with every day that passes. Every hour £14 million is added to our national debt. Yet with every penny the coalition tries to slice off public expenditure those seeing cuts complain of unfair targeting. (The fact spending is actually growing each year rarely gets a mention).
More than two years in, with little to speak of by way of economic growth, the Coalition Government is having a tough time getting to grips with the deficit and slimming down the state from its high of 52% of GDP in 2009/10. After more than a decade of hand-outs under Labour, people have become too dependent on the ‘social State’; knowing the value of everything they claim and the cost of nothing.
But is public opinion shifting? The British Social Attitudes survey demonstrates weakening support for the welfare state. The proportion of people answering that benefits for the unemployed are “too high and discourage them from finding work” rose from 44 per cent in 1999 to 55 per cent in 2010. Yet survey after survey on the deficit reduction and actual cuts shows that people’s desire to see that State provide for them fails to match up with their desire for a smaller state overall.
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. Earlier this year, 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.
This was a welcome move, but tax statements are only one side of the coin and done on a simple measure of a proposition of what you pay matched to the spilt of government spending. What is also needed is for a personalised statement of services to be issued alongside your tax statement, informing users of the market value of tax payer funded services they have consumed.
Without such a radical move it remains all too easy to blame ‘benefit scroungers’ for the £200bn welfare bill (forgetting about Granny’s pension); blame ‘overweight smokers’ for the £128bn consumed by health care (forgetting that GP visit for a heavy cold); or blame ‘Mr & Mrs 2.4 children’ for the £65bn ploughed into education.
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.
Just like the end of dinner in a restaurant the Government should present us with a bill every time we use a public service.
Just imagine, enclosed with Jonny’s end of term school report; handed to Granny as she collects her pension; and passed to Mum as she leaves A&E – one piece of paper with the word emblazoned across the top “INVOICE”.
We are not talking about privatising the entire state (sorry to disappoint some of you) but a gentle reminder of just how good we have got it. A simple but effective statement of the value of service you receive and who is picking up the bill.
In private medicine every last sticking plaster and cannula is accounted and billed for; in private education parents are invoiced for uniform, books and meals on top of tuition; in housing private tenants and property owners face costs for repair, maintenance and services which social tenants never ever see, let alone pay.
Under our proposals, the average earner in the UK (around £26,000) you would receive an annual tax statement showing that you have paid £5,783 in tax – of which £1,900 went on welfare, £1,000 on health, £750 on education, etc
But you would also get a statement to say, Mr Taxpayer, you have two children’s in school - costs to taxpayer £12,000; you had 3 GP visits - cost to taxpayer £300, you received tax credits totalling £3,200, etc
That way people become a lot more connected to not only what they pay but what they consume.
We know that given consumers that information reduces demand of public services. Take one example, figures out this month show that the number of prescriptions dispensed in Wales grew for the 5th year in a row following the abolition of charges. Disconnecting the true cost of a service such as a simple prescription medicine (for which English patients pay £7.65) has seen demand rise without consideration of the impact on the funding. Failing to connect the costs and availability of public services in users mind could end up costing taxpayers huge sums.
This simple and cost effective policy change is needed before the balance tips too far. By the end of this parliament 2 million fewer workers will pay income tax as a result of this Government’s reform of the personal allowance. Essentially anyone on earning National Minimum Wage will not pay tax. This is a great move economically and politically for the Government, but we must ensure those 2 million new working non-taxpayers do not disengage with the cost of the welfare state while they continue to benefit from it.
Brokering a new deal between the citizen and State in this way will reaffirm the value of public services received. Coupled with an annual tax statement, will soon get people realising just how good they have it.
In the mean time, we can only hope that people will wake up to the reality that for every one of us in work (all 29 million of us) £11 a day is added to our personal share of the national debt; while paying £16 a day in tax.
Those who visit the Bond Street station site will have the opportunity to view the western ticket hall from a ‘bird’s eye view’ inside the site office and be guided to the eastern ticket hall to view the construction activities taking place from an elevated viewing area.
Please follow this link to find out further information.
As part of the work to build the new Crossrail Western Ticket Hall at Bond Street, they will be starting the Top down Construction of the Western Ticket Hall. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details:
The Crossrail tunnels are now progressing from Royal Oak to Farringdon and the tunnel boring machines (TBM) are due to pass under the St Giles area in the New Year. Please see the Information sheet for further details:
Prior to the arrival of Crossrail’s Tunnel Boring Machines, Phyllis & Ada, it is necessary to install monitoring equipment on certain utility services in the area. Please see the Information Sheet below for further information.
These works are due to commence on the 28 of August, 2012 for one night. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details.
Yesterday, think tank Policy Exchange (PX) launched a report calling for more social housing to be built in England. The story has been picked up across the media and blogosphere, highlighting the call to sell off valuable property to finance the new builds.
Many look to Westminster as an obvious place where such a plan would have a high impact. With an average value on social housing stock of £290,000 and rising, you can see why. But in fact, as the report highlights, throughout the country 816,000 properties are worth more than the average house price for an area totalling 20% of the social housing stock. Those homes have a total value of £159bn, less than half (£71.9bn) of which is in London.
The core of the proposal is to sell social housing that is above average value as it becomes vacant in order to reinvest the funds. This could create the largest social house building programme since the 1970s. PX believes the sales could raise £4.5 billion annually which could be used to build 80,000-170,000 new social homes a year and reduce the housing waiting list by between 250,000 to 600,000 households in five years.
The report says that ending reinvesting the vast wealth tied up in expensive social housing:
- Will generate growth and jobs. This reform should allow 80,000-170,000 new homes every year. This would create up to 340,000 jobs a year in the construction industry.
- Is extremely popular with all sections of society. 73% of people including social tenants think that people should not be given council houses worth more than the average property in a local authority. By 2:1 voters agree people should not be given council houses in expensive areas.
- Has no real effect on employment. More expensive areas do have slightly higher employment rates but these differences are very small. Since people commute to work – either by public transport or car – the only effect of moving tenants is reducing time spent travelling and travel costs. This is not a major driver of employment
- Raises tenants’ standard of living. The majority of social tenants are either totally or largely reliant on benefits. Someone living on benefits in an expensive part of London will pay a 10-15% premium compared to someone living in a cheaper area.
- Reduce the housing waiting list by between 250,000 to 600,000 households in five years. The overwhelming majority of people waiting for a council house will benefit from these reforms.
Under their proposals, no tenant would be required to move from their home, as high end properties would only be sold of as they become vacant.
This gives us a lot of food for thought, but these proposals by PX will not work in isolation, operated by one council alone. To succeed and make the most of the opportunity highlighted, any implementation would need to be achieved nationally, but councils – such as Westminster - with a significant range of properties with massive value variations would inevitably be at the centre of any such move.
In Westminster, we are already working innovatively to provide fairer and more affordable housing options to lower-earning individuals who do their fair share to support the economic life of the West End. This PX proposal would support that work. Rather than undermine access to central London for key workers as some commentators have suggested, it would actually help it – supporting mixed communities and providing vital accommodation to those with need and value to add.
In January, I announced a change in social housing provision in Westminster to trial a scheme which will give London’s workers a Fair Share. Workers who would not otherwise be prioritised for social housing are able to apply for affordable accommodation in the thriving centre of the capital, thanks to this pilot flagship scheme. The Fair Share scheme makes better use of existing housing stock to provide more accommodation for those making an economic contribution to central London.
One reason the Fair Share scheme came about is that Westminster faces social housing pressures more acute than elsewhere in the country, and we lack available land which is suitable for building new affordable homes. That is why no council can go it alone in reforming housing policy. However, with commitment to affordable housing for key workers and others as Westminster is demonstrating, sale of high value council housing - if applied nationally - could help provide for a renewal of social housing in a way that satisfies both the taxpayer and the growing waiting list for affordable homes.
The construction of the new ticket hall on Davies Street is progressing very well. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details.
The first phase of works to build the capping beam on top of the diaphragm wall panels which were completed earlier in the year. Please see the Information Sheet below for further details:
More great performances from #TeamGB today clocking up our best Olympic performance since 1908 - Well done all!