A year ago, people living in Westminster voted for a Conservative-run Council. In one of the closest elections in recent years, you put your faith in us to deliver a council with high-quality services and the lowest Council Tax in the country.
One year on, we have not let you down. Over the past 12 months we have embarked on a far reaching agenda to improve the lives of people living in Westminster as well as those who visit and want to invest in our great city.
Keeping Council Tax Low
First, we’re keeping your Council Tax the lowest in the country. Having raised it by the bare minimum, you and your neighbours will continue to pay less than half of what people have to pay in Labour-controlled Camden and Brent.
But providing high quality services costs money. This is why we set up the voluntary contribution system, allowing the wealthiest in our city to pay more. To date, this fund has raised more than three quarters of a million pounds, money which will go towards improving young people’s life chances, tackling loneliness among the elderly and helping the homeless.
Decisive action on Oxford Street
You made your opinions about Mayor Sadiq Kahn’s plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street very clear at the ballot box. So, shortly after being returned to City Hall, we made the decision to stop supporting his plans.
Since then, we have worked hard on our own £150 million Oxford Street District Improvement Scheme, which covers a much wider area and is taking a long-term view of how the area might change. We’ve presented new district-wide plan with more than 90 different projects proposed across 85 separate locations; increasing walking space while retaining two-way traffic along the rest of Oxford Street; major improvements at iconic locations such as Cavendish Square; and a reinvigorated gateway to the West End at Marble Arch.
Better and more housing
We all know City West Homes (our arm’s length housing management organisation) was not performing to the high standards we expected of it. This is why we took the decision to bring it back under direct council control.
After months of carefully planning the transition, this took effect on the 1st April. Under the new organisation we are determined to bring the quality of service back to the level our residents expect and deserve. Things are moving in the right direction, and we’re already seeing improvements in how quickly calls are answered and speed at which problems are being fixed. However, there is still more to be done, and under this new management we are committed to getting more officers out and about, making them a regular and visible presence in our estates.
Also, with key developments such as Ebury Bridge and Church Street making significant progress, we remain on track to deliver our promise to build thousands more homes for workers on low and middle incomes.
Cleaner Air for All
Last year we pledged to make Westminster one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the UK, and we’re keeping this promise. Since May 2018 we have implemented a series of practical policies to improve air quality. We’ve created a schools’ clean air fund using proceeds from the diesel parking surcharge, introduced two flexible vehicle sharing schemes to reduce the number of cars on our streets and expanded our #DontBeIdle campaign, successfully targeting taxis and delivery vehicles. We’ve even retrofitted all our bin lorries with cutting edge technology to reduce the amount of harmful emissions they produce by 99%.
On top of this we’ve got an ambitious plan to increase the number of electric car charging points all over the city, plant many more new trees and implement a walking and cycling strategy to encourage greener ways to travel around Westminster.
Letting your voice be heard
Making the planning process more transparent for residents is another promise kept. Earlier this year the Planning Committee unanimously voted though measures to allow members of the public to speak on planning applications that affect them. This is now in place and is already proving to be very successful.
Despite all the party-political mud throwing you see in the news, we are committed to a politics that best reflects the people of Westminster and not the Palace of Westminster. This is why the Conservative Group made the historic decision to nominate our first ever Labour Lord Mayor.
By electing Cllr Ruth Bush later this month, we are not only recognising her many years of service to the residents of Harrow Road but ensuring that the Lord Mayor, as first citizen of Westminster, is there to represent everyone, regardless of how they vote.
All this and so much more has been achieved in just one year, so we’re even more ambitious about what we can achieve in the next three.