Pub evening Wednesday 10 October: Neighbourhood forums

The next pub evening on Wednesday 10 October will have as its subject ‘Neighbourhood Forums’.  Tom Kimber, Principal Planning Officer at Westminster City Council, will be our speaker and Nick Johnson will chair the evening.  Tom will speak about the Neighbourhood Forum initiative and its implications for neighbourhood planning.

As usual we will meet in the Upstairs Theatre Bar at the Victoria Pub on Strathearn Place, from 6:30. Normally the speaker will start at 7pm and we aim to finish questions by around 8pm so that there is time for informal chat, drinks and food if you want to stay around!

Nuisance sub-letting in our area

The issue of nuisance sub-letting is a concern for a number of HPEA members. It is a complex issue, with many different groups and organisations involved, and responsibilities are not clear.

The Westminster City Council policy is that you need planning permission to let your property for less than 90 days. Without it you could be fined and have an enforcement notice registered as a legal charge on your property.

The requirement for planning permission exists so that the Council can control the amount of property which is for temporary accommodation, recognising that this can generate more nuisance than permanent residential property – for example: overcrowding, rubbish, comings and goings at unsocial hours, noise, and other issues caused by tenants being unfamiliar with local laws and customs.

In order for the HPEA to support members affected by this issue, and also to evaluate its effect on the area as a whole, the committee has arranged for a brief fact-finding report to be prepared. Research will include face to face meetings with a selection of campaigning and affected members, as well as representatives from key organisations. Sarah Clifford (communications committee member) will be drafting the report during early October. If you would like to input, please contact Sarah via the membership mailbox thehpea@yahoo.co.uk.

BT number to report dirty phone boxes

At our pub evening last week, Jonathan Rowing of Westminster City Council let us know that there is a number to call to report dirty, damaged or defaced phone kiosks to BT.

The number is 0800 661 610 (option 1).

Here is the recommended information to provide:

  • clear location details (street location; ideally the phone number of the kiosk but this is not essential)
  • clear descriptions of the problems in the kiosk (broken windows, graffiti, waste or hazards, defective equipment, or excessive carding)

We need to remember not to over-report problems, in order to retain credibility (avoid “crying wolf”). Please also remember that this number only applies to kiosks owned by BT, and not New World Spectrum or Infocus. The HPEA will research these other companies to see whether equivalent arrangements exist.

Please give your feedback – have you called this number? Did BT come and clean the kiosk, and if so, how soon? Email thehpea@yahoo.co.uk.

HPEA newsletters

We publish a monthly newsletter covering items of local interest to members and the activities of the HPEA. If you would like to be on our emailing list, please contact the HPEA membership mailbox on thehpea@yahoo.co.uk.

Here are our newsletters up to the end of August 2012:

HPEA newsletter August 2012

HPEA newsletter June 2012

Diamond Jubilee week end newsletter

HPEA newsletter May 2012

Pub evening 12 September

We had a lively evening at the Victoria on Wednesday 12 September, starting with a most unusual mix-up at the pub; they had booked us in for Thursday, despite having previously confirmed the date by email. So we had to have various drinkers and diners turfed out of the upstairs bar – pub staff were very helpful in sorting things out once the mistake became apparent.

Sergeant Ken Taylor, leader of our local Safer Neighbourhoods team, and Jonathan Rowing, head of Roads Management for Westminster City Council, were our speakers for the evening. We had a particular focus on the phone box campaign to clean up or close the public phone boxes in our area. There were plenty of questions for both Ken and Jonathan, and a couple of concrete actions emerged:

  • write (on behalf of the HPEA) to the Chairman of BT to draw his attention personally to the appalling state of some of the BT phone boxes
  • local resident direct action: we can call BT to report dirty phone boxes and they will undertake to come and clean them. Jonathan will send us the number to call.

Ken also highlighted some of the issues with vice in our area, which seemed to be on the increase over the summer months when police resources were concentrated elsewhere.  The SNT should now be able to re-focus on vice, with the priorities being the girls on the street, and kerb crawlers. Members are encouraged to call 101 to report kerb crawlers, giving car registration numbers and locations.

There were a number of questions on beggars, including one based outside the HSBC cashpoints near Paddington Station. Ken reminded us not to give any money to beggars, but instead to support homeless charities. The vast majority of beggars in our area are part of organised crime.

Many thanks to Ken and Jonathan for their contributions, and to all members for attending and being very active in raising their comments and questions.