Minutes from “Have Your Say” 24th November

HyPER’s Have Your Say event on Thursday 24th November was another well-attended and fast-paced event. The meeting followed-on from October’s crime meeting and started with a review of the actions from that meeting.

The evening started with a review of the action grid from the last meeting. The action grid has been updated with notes and feedback from this meeting. During the updates, a number of separate points were also raised which are detailed below.

The first ongoing action point of the evening was the possibility of private security patrols being organised for parts of the estate where there is the demand from residents. These would be organised amongst neighbours. Sabine Taal has volunteered to coordinate those interested in setting up a group in Connaught Square – please contact her through HyPER using info@hyper.uk.

Cllr Dimoldenberg briefed on the desire to resolve the funding row for CCTV cameras between the police and the council, stating that it is unlikely that the funding issue will be resolved. With both the police and the council under increased funding pressures, any money would need to come from the cut of an alternative activity.

Regarding the issue of residents being unable to install security equipment on their properties, Cllr Dimoldenberg had been liaising with the council’s planning department on the issue, who have now provided comprehensive guidance and what would be deemed acceptable for the installation on listed buildings. This has been published on the HyPER website. Residents should now individually apply for planning permission following the guidelines.

The police provided an update on the patrolling of Portsea Mews: “Autumn nights” has now started which includes changes to late patrolling shifts. Portsea Mews has been a focal point for their patrols and they have recently caught 3 people with drugs. Patrols are taking place daily on every shift.

When the police reported that they had been frequently patrolling Portsea Mews, a question was asked as to whether they were also patrolling other areas of the estate. An example was given of Sussex Place / Bathurst Mews, where it was reported that distressed women (possibly on drugs) were causing a nuisance and making a lot of noise. The police responded to say that they patrol the whole of the Estate frequently and advised the reporting of any issues such as this.

It was noted that prostitution is still a problem on the Estate and a concern was raised about CCTV not working. The police responded to say that they do not maintain the cameras and that it is the responsibility of the owners to rectify it. The police also noted that they have seen a decline recently in street prostitution with the theory being that it as moved into rooms. Cllr Dimoldenberg will write to the Church Commissioners to ask about rectification of any problems with the CCTV within their remit.

An update was provided on the possible installation of a gate on the entrance to Portsea Mews. A meeting had taken place on site between the council, Church Commissioners, Marble Arch BID and HyPER. As a result of this Cllr Dimoldenberg had written to the planning department to request options on what might be possible to implement this. Advice on this has now been forwarded to the Church Commissioners for their consideration. A petition has been started by Elke detailing the issue and was signed by many attendees at the meeting.

An update was provided from Cllr Dimoldenberg regarding the possible installation of speed tables on Connaught Square to reduce speeding vehicles. A meeting with highways officers has taken place and dangerous areas around the Estate are being considered with possible solutions, including a potential zebra crossing on Hyde Park Crescent. These will take time to design and fund and the work is ongoing.

A discussion ensued about the car wash on Kendal Street. The council and police have provided an initial response stating that no illegal activity is suspected and the facility is not currently being investigated. Following the discussion the police suggested that it might be possible for immigration officials to visit to check that workers are being treated fairly and employed legally. It was reported that the water and oils make the pavement very slippery and that accidents had happened. It is on a school route and pedestrians often have to walk in the road to avoid it. Cllr Dimoldenberg will take a look with the view to Environmental Health visiting.

The brothel at 15 Portsea Place was discussed. Police visits are to take place in the evenings, and may lead to the owners of the building being contacted. The police stated that the legislation regarding prostitution is very old and it is difficult to carry out successful prosecutions. As such, brothels are more often dealt with as a welfare issue for the workers. It was pointed out that men visiting the area would sometimes approach teenage children girls in the area. It was reported that prostitution is also taking place in Sussex Place near Bathurst Mews, and solving the problem in one area may just move it elsewhere. A volunteer is required to organise a group to protest against the problem.

The introduction of the late night parking marshals after October’s meeting appears to have very successful. A lot of parking tickets have been issued around Connaught Square, Norfolk Crescent and Portsea Place. In October, 180 tickets were issued in Connaught Square alone. The feedback from meeting attendees was that whilst it does not solve the problem of drug dealers waiting in cars, it does seem to have had some effect of quietening the area and making it feel less edgy. It was requested that Albion Street is also included on the areas to be visited, especially with the advent of Winter Wonderland which can make the problem worse. Residents are encouraged to also report any incorrectly parked cars to the council, who will normally visit quickly.

A new issue was raised regarding the businesses located on the west side of Edgware Road, where it was felt by meeting attendees that the businesses could be much improved with a longer-term outlook. Action that can be taken by the Church Commissioners is currently limited as many properties have been let on long-term leases with little control. The council’s powers are limited but they enforce where possible, such as recently happened with the old Maroush properties.

This led to a discussion about the Hyde Park Paddington Neighbourhood Forum, which has the potential to influence the types of businesses through the creation of a local plan. The next meeting is taking place on 12th December and residents are encouraged to join the Forum and attend the meeting. The Forum also nominates projects for funding, such as the planters and seating that were recently installed on Burwood Place.

Concerns were raised about lettings being given by the Church Commissioners to kebab shops and similar, which cause a lot of unpleasant smells in the area making it impossible to open house windows in the summer.

Concerns were raised about issues on Albion Street that had been reported to the Council on a weekly basis but were still problematic: dog mess not being cleared away by dog owners, and rubbish dumping. Cllr Chowdhury will write to the council on the issue.

The issue of noise pollution from vehicles and people was raised including speeding vehicles. It was suggested that signage might be installed stating that the area is a quiet residential area. The police can potentially issue speeding tickets, but it is a different department, not our ward police. Speed cameras may be considered by the council in the future, which are currently being trialled in Wandsworth for 20mph enforcement. Suggestions were raised as to where they could go, which produced a list including Hyde Park Crescent, Bayswater Road and Connaught Street.

A question was raised as to what happened to the low traffic neighbourhood proposals and whether they would be revisited. Cllr Dimoldenberg stated that they had split the community and therefore they would not be revisited. A variety of comments from attendees followed, including that the communication of the previous proposals had been poor and had taken place at the wrong time (during Covid), and that some adjustments had been needed. It was also observed that proposals of any nature would never get full approval. The possibility of a separate meeting to discuss alternatives was mooted, and a show of hands of attendees showed a clear majority in support of this. A zebra crossing was requested for the east end of Connaught Street.

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