Archive for October, 2013

Free school is looking oversubscribed but there’s still time to get your application in!

Applications for next September’s 120 places at Marylebone Boys’ School have passed the 200 mark! But parents of Year 6 boys shouldn’t hold back – if you don’t apply, you definitely won’t get a place – and if you do apply, when National Offer Day arrives next March, you could have a place for your son at a school which has been set up to offer the academic focus, commitment to learning and strong discipline that parents are asking for. Application forms can be downloaded from  Apply before 31st October if you can but we will still accept applications until 10 January 2014.

Enforcement against illegal short lets upheld

I have pointed out before on this blog that illegal short-letting of property to tourists turns residential buildings into badly managed hotels, inflicting noise, traffic and inconsiderate behaviour on other residents and keeping long-term occupiers out.  Occasional cases may do little harm but in blocks where the practice is long-established, occupants really suffer from the high turnover of people who do not know how to dispose of their rubbish and have no concern for their neighbours.

Increasingly, WCC has been enforcing the planning law that prohibits unauthorised short-letting. So it’s good to see this week that the Planning Inspectorate has again ruled in the council’s favour and dismissed an attempt by a landlord to appeal against council action against him, this time just off the Edgware Road.

Coniston Court rough sleepers

I completely sympathise with everyone’s frustration with the problem of East European rough sleepers and aggressive beggars. Like everyone else locally I see them, or the mess they leave, at least every couple of days. I reminded a lengthy senior officers’ meeting at Westminster City Hall this morning of just that.

As I emailed HPEA members earlier, the fundamental problem is the weakness of UK law on begging, along with the right to free movement in the EU. For what it is worth, a Met operation is now underway to demonstrate the “offensive consequences” of begging (ie what we see every day in Hyde Park ward). Home Office ministers, the Mayor, the Met Commissioner and the UK Borders Agency are being lobbied on a constant basis, often alongside other affected councils. Clean-up and other costs have  reached £500,000 for Westminster City Council alone. I can’t promise fast results but a lot of work is going into a problem which is a bureaucratic nightmare to solve. PR offensives to encourage giving to charities rather than to street beggars are also being worked upon.

There is a problem in that rough sleeping and begging are not one of the seven priorities of the Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime. However, Nickie Aiken, my colleague whom you will have seen quoted on TV and in the papers on this problem, is pushing to move this up the police priority list, not just at neighbourhood level but higher up the Met. She’s even spoken to the PM about it! Maybe we just need one of our rough sleeping friends to doss down a bit nearer Downing Street…….

Easier recycling for small electrical items

A St George’s Fields resident who is a keen recycler suggested a new bin for small electrical items, which cannot go to landfill, alongside the other bins at the Multiple Recycling Centre at the corner of Sussex Gardens.

I’ve now got the site on the list for a trial bin later this year. This should save many of us from having to go by bus or car to Warwick Gardens or further in order to find a place to recycle broken gadgets.

Antonia Cox

Westminster City Hall,
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP

0207 641 3411

The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.