Archive for May, 2013

Hyde Park concerts (2)

Elton John and Lionel Ritchie  have been confirmed as the remaining acts for the season, which should give residents some reassurance about what the Parks call “behaviour record and audience demographic”! This week Royal Parks chief executive Linda Lennon and AEG Live’s Jim King  gave community representatives and residents’ associations the latest on stewarding, litter, toilet provision and noise. We will get more details when negotiations with Veolia over litter collection are complete. Dot matrix signs capable of reminding concert goers to use toilets before they leave, not the park or nearby streets, are promised from AEG.

Responding to impassioned complaints about the noise from police helicopters, Inspector Richards also undertook to use no more than necessary for crowd control – though it is still likely for an hour or so after the concerts end, as far as I can see.

AEG are going to produce and distribute to residents in early June an executive summary of their event management plan, complete with phone numbers and email addresses for complaints. These complaints will be handled by a staff member in the concert control room and logged in a way that can be fed back to the licensing committee. If those complaining get an engaged tone, Jim promises there will be a voicemail facility. The phone number will go live on the first day of the set build and be kept live until the removal of equipment after the concerts.

Only six weeks to go!

Marylebone Boys’ School

We are delighted that Marylebone Boys’ School has received approval from the Department for Education for September 2014 opening.  There is huge pressure on school places in central London and much evidence that parents leave Westminster as secondary age approaches. Westminster has two Ofsted-outstanding girls’ state secondaries, but the options for boys are limited. As a result, the boy/girl ratio in the mixed schools is distorted, with markedly more boys than girls, which is not ideal from an educational perspective.

Marylebone Boys’ School will offer traditional subjects, good discipline and high academic standards for boys from 11 to 16, with a mixed sixth form, working closely with the Ofsted-outstanding St Marylebone CE School for Girls. Go to for more information.


Fire station closures

The planned closures of Westminster and Knightsbridge fire stations, and the downgrade of Chelsea, under the Draft London Safety Plan 5, take no account of the special factors affecting this part of central London.
A million visitors a day, many narrow congested streets, London’s biggest concentration of high rise buildings, areas of high deprivation, and one of the world’s biggest concentration of heritage buildings, embassies and terrorist targets, means that Westminster has particular fire safety needs. The LSP5 does not seem to have taken that on board.
Its proposed response times for fire appliances to reach the scene are measured to the base of buildings, and therefore understate the time taken to reach higher stories of high rise properties.
Plans also need to take proper account of the fact that access from stations south of the river could be slowed down by traffic blockages on the bridges.
My understanding from the borough commander and consultation input from organisations such as Historic Royal Palaces is that, for some of the unique and complex heritage buildings in Westminster, fire crews need to plan and train on a regular basis with the staff who understand the special vulnerabilities of these sites. We need to know that fire crews will have enough time to do that properly under the new arrangements.
As I said in my speech at last night’s council meeting, in tfire safety, as in so many other things, Westminster is different. I’m not convinced the draft LSP5 has properly taken that into account.

Antonia Cox

Westminster City Hall,
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP

0207 641 3411

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