Archive for November, 2013

Prime Minister’s comments on East European beggars and rough sleepers

Ahead of the opening of borders to Rumanians and Bulgarians without restrictions from January, the Prime Minister has made a number of promises in a Financial Times article. Among other changes, he says that EU beggars and rough sleepers will be deported and refused readmission for a year unless they have a genuine reason to be here, such as a job.

Hats off to my colleague Councillor Nickie Aiken for lobbying so hard on this issue – including telling the PM himself in unmistakeably clear terms what residents were finding on their doorsteps and on the way to school as a result of mostly Rumanian rough sleeping.

Nickie and I met with Home Office officials the same day to discuss the problem – and it is not yet clear how the UK Borders Agency will make the deportations work. At last, though, the actual and potential impact of some of these individuals on our neighbourhoods is being recognised.

Communities at their best

What a fantastic HPEA Annual General Meeting at the Lancaster Hotel yesterday! Thanks to Sally for hosting us and to Nick for chairing and presenting so effectively on the Government’s Localism Act and its implications. Sheila, Simon, Bill, Sue and Sandra and the rest of the commitee did a terrific job and it was a great evening.

Thanks to Linda and Ken on parks and police

Parks’ chief executive Linda Lennon told SEBRA’s very well attended AGM yesterday that close working with local residents meant fewer complaints about concert noise over the summer. I was pleased to have played a role in ensuring licence conditions were met.

Thanks also to Sgt Ken Taylor for his words on policing. It was Ken who told me at our regular meeting on vice-related anti-social behaviour that the Paddington custody suite has reopened, contrary to Karen Bush MP’s doom and gloom about police stations!

More enforcement successes

Eight more flats in Quadrangle Tower and 20 Porchester Place have been ordered to stop illegal short-letting. Heather and I are delighted that the Planning Inspectorate upheld the council’s enforcement actions. As the Inspector pointed in the case of seven of the flats, “noise and disturbance within and outside a block because of people coming and going, often at unsocial hours….would be more likely to arise from temporary occupiers given… the short nature of their stay and the lack of social pressure not to cause a nuisance.” She also pointed to the “strong policy objection” to use of these flats as temporary sleeping accommodation because of ” the loss of permanent housing stock and the accepted need for housing”. It’s a welcome judgement and I hope will send a strong message to other landlords that they must comply with the law.

Remembrance Sunday observed

It seems more people than ever were attending the Cenotaph ceremony today. It is so important to remember the fallen in the World Wars and the conflicts since – simply our duty. It was a privilege to take part in the commemoration service at Westminster Abbey, and to see so many from the armed forces paying their respects, and the proud parents from many different backgrounds with their sons and daughters in uniform. ┬áMay the future see less conflict than the past.

Good news on dirty phone boxes

BT is ready to remove more boxes – which is good news for everyone who finds the filthy, unused state of many of them offensive. I’m consulting fellow councillors and residents on which ones should go. Those owned by other operators are not on the list at present but we have not forgotten them!


Antonia Cox

Westminster City Hall,
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP

0207 641 3411

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