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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

OVER 'EARD....CLASS WAR IN EARDLEY CRESCENT

A little flattery 

Dearest and most wonderful Dame,

Please find enclosed a screenshot of an interesting conversation, currently taking place on a site for the residents of Eardley Crescent, in which "right/wrong residents" and recourse to "private security" are being discussed.

Unfortunately, you cannot have direct access to the site itself, as you have to be invited, and be a resident of Eardley Crescent or Earl's Court. 
You could always obtain updated feeds from wonderful Clr Linda Wade, who is on the site......


CLICK TO ENLARGE


BUSINESS RATES ARE KILLING BUSINESS

Business rates are payable on the value of commercial buildings. 
In RBKC foreign speculators have forced commercial property prices through the roof. So small shopkeepers renting hugely valuable property are not only forced to pay high rents, but massive business rates as well. 
Yet high property values do not result in higher income for small business owners. 
On the contrary, K & C's uber-gentrification has resulted in fewer residents spending only in the most fashionable, high-end stores.
On average small local businesses across RBKC must now pay another 25% business rates on already high rent bills and on top of other rising costs. 

At the same time, there is ever more unfair competition from online retail paying little or nothing in business rates or other expenses.
Across the Royal Borough, this hike in business rates will cause hundreds of small businesses to close. 
From Portobello Road to Knightsbridge our remaining small, specialist, privately owned shops and restaurants will disappear. 
Innovation will be gone, replaced by yet more chains.
Hundreds of small landlords will lose their income: while being forced to pay the business rates on their empty shops.


Please sign this PETITION to a Government which talks the talk but won't walk the walk when it comes to encouraging small business.
No wonder some of our high streets look like war zones.
Also, vent your anger by writing to the following:

For Philip Hammond: <public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk> and <philip.hammond.mp@parliament.uk>

For the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: <mayor@london.gov.uk>

For Theresa May: <email.number10@gov.uk>

For Victoria Borwick MP: <victoria.borwick.mp@parliament.uk>

There’s also a Parliamentary petition: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/175433

THE ROYAL PERKS

Some jealous types just don't like nepotism but from where the Dame sits there nothing wrong with giving a helping hand to one's family: in fact, her ghastly, criminal nephew, young Ludo, has had multiple life starts, thanks to Auntie's little black book.
HELP FROM HIGH PLACES
The Evening Standard's London Night Market will be a bustling outdoor experience in an unnamed  London park inspired by a street food scene featuring 50 restaurants, food trucks, bars and live music. 

The exact location is meant to be a secret to be announced in April. 
However, the old Dame, with her unrivaled contacts amongst highest echelons of European royalty can let her lower class readers into a secret....it's going to be Perks Field!

PERKS FIELD!
The Dame has discovered that the Creative Director of this giant festival is Tom Parker-Bowles whose mother is the Duchess of Cornwall, step mother to Harry and Will, who live in Kensington Palace. The Dame has also discovered that Kensington Palace has applied to the Royal Borough for a licence to run a food event in Perks Field (the Palace landing field for helicopters), seven days a week with live music, for 15,000 people every day. Because it is a Royal application, the public and residents are not allowed to object.
Kensington Palace is a publicly funded 'grace and favour' residence and Kensington Gardens is a publicly funded haven of peace for hard pressed and stressed Londoners. Perks Field is a natural extension of the Park, sealed off from the public for security reasons. This profit making event will generate huge profit and create mayhem in a public park. Currently, no contribution to Park Funding is proposed but the Palace will pocket a wad of notes.
The other by-product will be that Lebedev Junior, owner of the Standard, will be able to thrill himself by hobnobbing with
Royalty.
CREEPY ROYAL WANNABE'S
What a funny old place London is when the very weird son of an ex-KGB spy is able to press the flesh of our royalty.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

WHO'S GETTING A FRENCH BUNG?

There is a French passion about the love affair between those makers of street garbage, Decaux, and our Council. The Dame has a memory as long as her old teeth. 
From her Louis 'something or other' escritoire she dug out a copy of a bill for around £80 which Cllr Danny Moylan spent entertaining a Monsieur Jean Jean of Decaux in 2008. 
Well, to be entirely accurate, which you paid as Danny expense'd it
 
YOU PAID!
 Anyway, that was way back. 
In the intervening years, Decaux has our council by the short and curlies. The Royal Borough is now littered with these vile 'solus' sites in prime areas: in fact, one has been stuck up bang next door to the Natural History Museum-a Conservation Area! As for replacing bus shelters? Forget it...far too expensive and with the solus sites generating a £100k for a few months why would they bother?

BANG IN A CONSERVATION AREA!
The Council has now entered a new contract with Decaux for some/all of the 80 bus shelters that they own. 

In return for a new shelter,they will be allowed to place a digital advertising panel next to it – not an integral part of the shelter. 
JCDecaux's power and influence is so great that they have even jumped the gun, in some cases erecting these panels before advertisement consent has been granted for the panels- and, even when granted, have removed the existing shelter well in advance of erecting new shelters. 
Where is our brave enforcement team to be seen? Precisely nowhere!

The Council has received a considerable volume of complaints from residents about the lack of seating and has responded by installing park benches!
The shelters promised in January have still not arrived. 
JCDecaux has been getting advertising revenue for several months and the Council, income, but the poor old general public has had to forgo the benefit of bus shelters and brave all weathers.

YOUR VIEWS ON SLOANE STREET MATTER

Sloane Street is a street of memories for the old Dame. She remembers the butcher, the Aston Martin showroom, and those wonderful little milliners and shoemakers.

Anyway, times change and the Council and Cadogan have come up with plans for the Street and those plans are evoking strong emotions.
The Milner Street Area Residents' Association is far from happy with the proposals and has outlined, in great detail, its major objections to what would be a radical and far reaching revamp.
If you go the website you have the chance to object, or you can make those same objections via sloanestreet@rbkc.gov.uk
These consultations are important and if we choose to ignore them then we can hardly object if our opinions count for nought.




To: All members of the Milner Street Area Residents' Association

Dear Member,

You should all have received a brochure from the Council entitled "Sloane Street Consultation" dated January 2017, with a questionnaire on the back page. The brochure presents the case for a scheme, originated by the Cadogan Estate, which would fundamentally and irreversibly transform the character of the street, and encourages respondents to support it. It does not, however, consider the negative aspects of the scheme, or present the case for leaving well alone. We set out below the reasons why we hope the scheme will not be implemented.

The Council hope that the response to the consultation will enable them to claim that "this is what people want" - and the questionnaire is clearly designed to help achieve this. But it may not be what you want, and the danger is that if you do nothing about it you will wake up one day and find the street starting to be wrecked - by which time it will be too late.

If you have lost or never received the brochure, you can read it and download the questionnaire from the Council's website on this LINK

Responses should be posted to the Highways Department at the Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 7NX. The closing date for responses is Monday 27 February.

The principal means whereby the street would be transformed is by narrowing the carriageway and widening the pavements. From a commercial standpoint, this would permit the introduction of new parking bays outside the expensive designer shops at the north end of Sloane Street, where customers are few but spend a great deal of money. The chauffeur driven limousines which wait outside the shops at present do not seem to be deterred by parking regulations, but providing new bays would no doubt increase customer numbers. We consider that the proposed widening of the pavements is the worst element of the scheme, as it would entail the following adverse consequences:

1. Increasing journey times, traffic congestion and diesel pollution

The Council's scheme makes no attempt to address what most people would consider to be the main problem affecting Sloane Street, viz. the congestion in the section between Pont Street and Knightsbridge, already clogged with slowly moving buses. We believe that the scheme will make the congestion worse. The Council claims that, despite narrowing the carriageway, two cars and a bus could still pass with ease. But this assumes that parking regulations will be strictly enforced to prevent vehicles parking, waiting, loading and unloading where they ought not. We believe that this assumption is unrealistic.

2. Spoiling the views and vistas

At present, wherever you stand in Sloane Street, you have a wonderful green vista in both directions. This is because the street is long and exceptionally straight, and has abundant trees and green spaces. You also have splendid views across the street, because most of the buildings are very handsome. And the pavements are spacious and relatively uncluttered. The large and unattractive flower beds shown in the Council's brochure would be more appropriate to a seafront promenade than an important central route such as Sloane Street. With their harsh looking stone or concrete surrounds, the flower beds would spoil both the vistas and the views, and would give the pavements a constricted and cluttered feel. They would also look dismal in winter. You can see the damage clearly in the before and after depictions in the brochure, which also show stone or concrete benches which are neither attractive to look at nor comfortable to sit on.

3. Yorkstone paving at risk

Most of the street is paved with attractive Yorkstone, which in some places the Council has failed adequately to maintain. The brochure says that "the main material is likely to remain Yorkstone", but there is no guarantee of this, and it goes on to say "we will consider the use of alternative stone for specific areas and detail". You have been warned!

What ought to happen instead

We would like the Council to engage with TfL to discuss measures to alleviate the congestion at the north end of the street.  We accept that decisions here are ultimately in the hands of TfL. But there are things the Council can do by itself to improve the appearance of Sloane Street, and we recommend the following programme: (i) removing redundant street furniture, (ii) repairing the pavements, (ii) planting new trees in places we have previously identified (without widening the pavements) and (iv) introducing discreetly placed heritage-style benches. There is no need to adopt the Council's scheme to implement these measures - they can be undertaken right away.

Pitfalls in the questionnaire

If you agree with our analysis so far, we suggest you take particular care in how you respond to the questions posed in Q2, viz. "how important do you think it is to......."

"Improve the appearance of the street with high quality paving and street lighting"? This sounds unobjectionable, but the risk of ticking "important" is that it may be taken as a mandate for replacing Yorkstone with less attractive alternatives (and the potential new street lighting shown in the brochure is remarkably ugly). We suggest you tick "not important" but put an asterisk to the box in Q6 saying that you want the paving to be repaired or replaced with Yorkstone.

"Introduce more trees and planting"? Please note that "planting" here means "flower beds", and if you tick "important" the Council will take that as a mandate for widening the pavements to accommodate them. We suggest you tick "not important" but put an asterisk to the box in Q6 saying that you do not welcome "planting", and you would welcome more trees but only where feasible without widening the pavements.

"Reducing high traffic speeds"? Again this seems very innocent - who could possibly object to reducing speeding or tackling supercars? - but the risk of ticking "important" is, again, that the Council will take this as a mandate for narrowing the carriageway and widening the pavements. We suggest you tick "not important" but put an asterisk to the box in Q6 saying that you do support more effective police action to tackle speeding and supercars.

"Widen narrow pavements to improve the pedestrian experience"? - this is the most loaded question because, as we know, and as the Council's own Hans Town Conservation Area Statement confirms, the pavements are not narrow but spacious! We suggest you tick "not important" and put an asterisk to the box in Q6 saying that you wish the pavements not to be widened. It is vital to do this as it is the crux of the issue.

It is a pity that the Council has not given respondents an easy opportunity to express opposition to the specific proposals in Q2, but they have told us that the above procedure, though cumbersome, is the way to do it.

In Q4 "which option do you prefer for the central residential section of Sloane Street"? we suggest you tick "option three - minimal change to existing layout", and in Q5 "if we decide to make improvements to the public realm, what style do you think would be most fitting for the street"? we suggest you tick "traditional", as it presents least risk. It is a pity (and rather ominous) that the Council have not given respondents the opportunity to request minimal change to the layout of the entire street (i.e. not just the central section), but you may wish to place a final asterisk to the box in Q6 saying that this is what you favour.

Sloane Street is a grand and dignified street and it would be terribly sad for it to be disfigured - please help in the effort to save it.

Best wishes,

Richard Grantley
Chairman, Milner Street Area Residents' Association

Thursday, 16 February 2017

BEWARE! CLLR LIGHTWEIGHT IS AFTER OUR BUSINESS RATES

Surrey County Council received a big slap in the face when it had the impertinence to ask residents to agree a 15% Council Tax increase, yet refused to consider a reflective decrease in councillor allowances.
HODGE PODGE
Worse still, it refuses to close down the silly Surrey Matters magazine costing £1m a year and with just a few bored readers...a bit like our Borer paper.
Interestingly, a Surrey resident, Mr Gerald Harvard has come up with a very businesslike PETITION which should send a frisson of fear through all overpaid officers.
David Hodge, the hapless leader of Surrey is now begging government to let him have the business rates to squander.
Why is this of interest to K&C residents? Because our council may try the same ploy. 
Imagine Cllr Lightweight having control over the hundreds of millions of business rates squeezed from hard-pressed residents. 
It would be like giving driving licences to five year olds......

Sunday, 12 February 2017

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CLLR LIGHTFOOT......

What on earth is the matter with Cllr Warwick Lightweight? The Dame has to ask....
AIN'T RIGHT
He appears to have had, as Cllr Moylan would say, 'a drop taken' or worse, a bit of a nervous 'crise'. 
Even the leader, speaking in a dignified manner, was embarrassed by Lightweight's leaping around and rants.
Lightweight is a very odd chap. When pitching to become Mayor of London( God forbid!) he claimed shops in his local street were forced to close due to high rents.
Business people know the other main driver is excessive business rates: something Lightweight seemed unaware of or decided to ignore. 
Frankly, there are far too many mediocre economists thinking they know about business, or indeed, much of anything else.
Anyway, here's the odd looking fellow hopping up and down like a demented frog. You can be embarrassed HERE

The Dame is no Lib Dem but she holds Cllr Linda Wade in high regard for her hard work in Earls Court.
Her views on the St Luke's Food Bank are well worth hearing.

Friday, 10 February 2017

CLLR WARRICK'S FOUL LEGACY

This is what Lancer Square, W8 looks like today 18 months after the Planning Committee and Chairman Cllr Warrick gave permission for Malaysian developers to knock down the 16 year old complex because “it was old”.
You may remember the Dame's funny story about the pompous Warrick being attacked with a bag of POO 
DRACULA


There was furious opposition from the Kensington Society and residents against the proposal to double floor space and replace the mixed use square with “buy to let”. This opposition was swept aside by odious Warrick who gave a very chummy welcome to architect Squire at the Planning Committee.

The burning question today is what will happen to the huge mound of rubble which sits alongside busy and congested Kensington Church Street? 
What kind of Traffic Management Plan is going to handle this?
For the far sighted, Lancer Square is only two hundred yards down the road from Notting Hill Gate. 
This is a dry run for what the developers are planning to do there.