Leader sets out plan with community at its heart

Wed, 08/11/2017

“I trust the people we serve” – Westminster’s leader sets out plan with community at its heart

Westminster Council Leader Nickie Aiken tonight put help for people on low incomes at the front and centre of her vision for Westminster, unveiled at Old Marylebone Town Hall.

Emphasising the need to keep council tax low for families and individuals just about managing, Cllr Aiken also unveiled a hugely ambitious package of community-led investment which will deliver new funding to hundreds of community and voluntary groups across Westminster.

The new #mywestminster fund builds on the campaign launch by Councillor Aiken earlier this year to celebrate and pull together Westminster’s different neighbourhoods

The fund- potentially open to hundreds of local organisations – is just one of a raft of ambitious measures unveiled at Westminster City Council’s full meeting.  Other headlines include a new advice centre for EU nationals; a task force to crack down on rogue landlords and a major drive to knit communities closer together with pop-up play areas for the young and investment in activities for older residents.

The announcements – backed by overall investment of £3m – underline the themes of opportunity and fairness at the heart of the Council’s existing City for All programme.

Key announcements included

  • more than £500,000 for voluntary organisations as part of the #mywestminster fund
  • £200,000 for a task force set up to tackle rogue landlords, tackle poor housing in the private rented sector and ensure fire safety standards are up to scratch
  • £50,000 for advice and support for the 30,000 EU nationals living in Westminster. This will be delivered online, by phone and face to face as well as through open seminars run with European embassies
  • £50,000 for pop up play areas – a scheme which will work by buying mobile play equipment and closing residential roads for a day to encourage children and families to come together
  • £100,000 for activities for older people – extending programmes like Silver Sunday across the year
  • An apprentice pay top-up fund of £75,000 for young people who might otherwise struggle financially. Westminster City Council will increase the hourly rate for its own apprentices to  £9.75 from the previous £8.80
  • £120,000 to tackle mental health and drug issues for rough sleepers
  • The launch of the consultation on the Westminster community contribution – a voluntary scheme which will invite owners of homes with more than £10m to made an extra contribution in addition to their council tax
  • £100,000 to fund a West End evening and night time economy hub – a dedicated space in the heart of the West End which will issue information on what’s on offer for tourists and visitors, as well as providing low-level medical treatment and help in getting home safely

 Cllr Nickie Aiken speech – key quotes

On the community fund

“I am proud to be able to launch the next phase of the My Westminster programme. It offers Westminster practical and progressive ideas to strengthen community identity – big, bold new initiatives which will refocus on the things that are really important to our residents.  New community projects, targeted at real problems, identified by the community itself – the new My Westminster fund we are launching has the power to make a real difference to the lives of those most in need in our City. I trust the people we serve. They know best about their lives, not the state.”

On housing and rogue landlords

“On behalf of our residents as well as future and aspiring Westminster residents, I have made it clear to developers that if you want to build in our city, you build for our city.

“We will build more affordable homes from scratch but we will also do more about quality and standards in existing housing. That is why we are going to get tough on rogue and irresponsible private landlords. We will set up a new housing standards task force. The task force will combine community intelligence with industry-leading techniques to identify irresponsible and illegal housing practices.”

On short-term lets

“We have attempted to negotiate with the online platforms who have little interest in our concerns.

“Some property owners simply do not recognise their moral obligation to their community and they flout the law.

“I am today putting rogue short-term let landlords on notice that we are preparing a raft of measures which see them chased out of town. My message to them is: get out of this business while you can: this is Westminster, not the Wild West.”

On EU nationals living in London

“There is huge uncertainty facing the large number of our residents who were born elsewhere in the European Union. This is about human dignity, not macroeconomics and we have an obligation to support the many thousands of EU citizens who call Westminster their home.

“That is why I am launching a new advice and support service to Westminster’s European Union citizens who may be worried about their future as a result of the 2016 referendum.”

Read the full speech

Last updated: 29 November 2017
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