Westminster Council

All of the seats in Westminster were up for election this year. Find out more about these elections.

Election 2018 Results

CON HOLD
Party Elected in 2018 Total councillors Change

PartyConservative

Elected in 2018 41 Total councillors 41 Change-3

PartyLabour

Elected in 2018 19 Total councillors 19 Change+3
Councillors change compared with 2014

Most Recent

Westminster City contractors to get London Living Wage

Local Democracy Reporting Service

People working for contractors employed by Westminster City Council will get paid the London Living Wage as a minimum.

The council is the latest to insist that contractors who want to do business with it pay their employees the wage, which currently stands at £10.75 an hour.

It means that contractors will also get the wage, which the council had already signed up to for its own staff.

The move follows other councils, including City of London, which insist that contractors also pay the London Living Wage.

It means that 22 local authorities in London, including Hammersmith and Fulham, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge, are fully signed up to the voluntary scheme.

A third are not listed by the Living Wage Foundation. Westminster city council’s chief executive Stuart Love said: “As a City for All, we’re enormously proud of being accredited as a London Living Wage employer.

“We are nothing without our staff and those who represent us. In Westminster we have some of the very best and it’s only right that they should be paid properly.

“We believe that should apply right across the board whether the staff work directly for us or come from a contractor.”

Council officers gifted expensive dinners and Ashes tickets

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Lord's Cricket Ground
PA Media

Westminster Council has defended its policy of allowing senior officers to accept gifts including expensive dinners at five-star hotels and Ashes tickets.

Between 2017 and 2019, council staff logged 240 records of individual gifts they received from property developers and other private companies. .

When councillors and MPs receive gifts, the details are made public on the council’s or Parliament’s, website for anyone to look at.

This does not apply to senior council officers, including those who run huge departments while earning six-figure salaries.

However Westminster Council has said it is “looking at” making this the case, in order to increase its transparency.

On 4 July last year, an officer from the council’s planning department was gifted a ticket worth £250 by Turley Associates to the New London Architecture Awards.

Turley Associates was also hired as a planning consultant for the 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields development for LSE. And its website says the company helped by “securing planning permission on behalf of LSE”.

An officer from the planning department was also treated by FTSE 100 developer, British Land, to a £100 ticket to the Westminster Property Association Annual Dinner in April 2018.

Hosted at the London Hilton hotel in Park Lane, the glitzy networking event was attended by 600 members and guests, and saw a performance by comedian Josh Widdicombe.

There is no evidence of misconduct or that receiving these gifts influenced the decision making of Westminster Council officers in their work.

House of Fraser to be part-converted into offices

Local Democracy Reporting Service

House of Fraser
Google

House of Fraser, once an “iconic” attraction on Oxford Street, is set to be part-converted into offices and a gym.

Publica Properties Limited submitted the plans for 318 Oxford Street, which was purpose built as a department store in 1937.

Under the proposal, 13,500 square metres of new office space would take up sections of every floor, from the ground to its seventh.

This would still leave more than 15,800 square metres of retail space.

A large restaurant would also be built across half the seventh floor, overlooking Oxford Street.

It was the tallest building in Oxford Street by 20 feet when it was originally built by retailer D.H. Evans.

Inside, its escalator hall with pink marble walls and pillars formed a focal point.

In 2001 it re-branded as a House of Fraser, having been run by the Harrods Group since 1954.

After the meeting, chair of the committee, councillor Robert Rigby, said: “Considering the state of the high street, it seemed the sensible thing to do.

“It’s such an iconic building, we want to see it brought back into proper use.”

House of Fraser is currently owned by Mike Ashley, the boss of Sports Direct, who bought the department store chain last year for £90 million while it was in administration.

Homeless deaths linked to spice

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The highly-dangerous form of synthetic cannabis “spice” has been linked to the growing number of deaths of homeless people and rough sleepers in central London.

Thirteen homeless people died in the borough of Westminster in 2018, up from six in 2017, according to a new Office of National Statistics (ONS) report.

This follows five deaths in 2016, and 16 in 2015.

A Westminster Council spokesman confirmed of the 13 people who died last year, eight had been found on the streets.

The spokesman said: “The sad fact is the rate of deaths linked to rough sleeping is rising as we continue to see ever increasing numbers of people arriving on the streets in Westminster.

“In Westminster we saw eight deaths on the streets while others happened in other accommodation, as the effects of rough sleeping and drug/alcohol addiction took their toll. All are individual tragedies.

“Spice is a consistent factor in rough sleeper deaths, and Westminster City Council has led the campaign to have this insidious and dangerous drug classified as a class A substance. Spice remains a major concern and our street teams offer a range of programmes to people with substance addiction.”

Spice is described by the Talk To Frank services’s website as a synthetic, cannabinoid that is often mixed with dried herbs and sold in sachets, and is typically smoked with tobacco.

Its high strength and potency mean it can cause: anxiety, paranoia, fits, seizures, dangerous increases in heart rate and suicidal thoughts. It is also linked to acute kidney injury.

Spike in EU homeless in Westminster

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tent in Victoria Street, Westminster
LDRS

The number of homeless people in Westminster who have come from the rest of Europe has seen a spike this summer before Brexit, according to a report.

And some rough sleepers bedding down in Westminster could have been victims of human trafficking, a senior politician has revealed.

It comes as the latest data revealed that there are “very high levels of new people coming to the streets of Westminster from around the world”.

A street count in July found 389 people on the street – with just 123 who said they were from the UK and Ireland.

This means there are “significant challenges” and limited help on offer for people who are not entitled to welfare support.

The first three months of the year saw 434 new people on Westminster streets, a drop from the previous quarter of 504, but still up on previous years.

Councillor Adams said people are attracted to the borough which includes the seat of government and tourist destinations as “all main railway lines and a lot of roads end up here.”

However, he said eight in 10 new arrivals do not spend a second night on the street, but get linked with support services.

Mayor calls on council to approve Holocaust memorial plan

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Holocaust memorial
ADJAYE ASSOCIATES

Sadiq Khan has called on Westminster Council to approve plans for a Holocaust memorial to sit next to the Houses of Parliament.

London's mayor said Victoria Tower Gardens, the park beside Britain’s seat of government, was the right place to commemorate the horrors of the Holocaust.

But local campaigners oppose the use of green space, and say the small park would be dominated by the building. More than 12,000 people have signed a petition opposing the memorial.

Earlier this month, a letter from council leader Nickie Aiken to the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, revealed by campaigners under Freedom of Information law, suggested that the application “was heading towards an unfavourable recommendation”.

The mayor has now urged Westminster Council not to reject the plans, and to allow the memorial “to take its rightful place in the heart of the capital” close to the Houses of Parliament.

But Clare Annamalai, a spokeswoman for Save Victoria Tower Gardens, said the mayor’s intervention was “inappropriate” and “politically motivated”.

A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said: “The city council has made it very clear that the decision regarding this application, like all that come before the authority, will be made on planning grounds after careful assessment of all the representations received. No decision has been taken.”

Radical plans for the Strand unveiled

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Strand Aldwych proposal visual
Westminster City Council
A proposal of how a reshaped Strand Aldwych could appear looking east to the rear of the St Mary le Strand Church.

It is one of London’s best known streets and is home to the headquarters of the tax office turned-entertainment venue and a London Fashion Week hotspot.

Now designers will be fleshing out their plans to transform the Strand – the street which includes Somerset House, and King’s College.

It follows a consultation Westminster Council held earlier this year to find out what businesses and residents thought of its ideas to bring the street into the 21st century.

Out will go the gyratory and in will come two way traffic in Aldwych in the theatre and hotel district.

There will also be a plaza near St Mary Le Strand Church which is currently stranded on a traffic island.

Designers will also draw up better links to tourist hotspots at the South Bank, Covent Garden and the West End.

The aim is also to improve air quality – a key target for the council.

The council is set to stage more public events to look at the plans next year once these detailed proposals for the area – known by some as the Northbank – are ready.

Council to insist contractors sign up to London Living Wage

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Westminster Council is the latest authority in the capital to insist its contractors sign up to the London Living Wage which could increase its wage bill by £3m to £6m over the next few years.

It is also extending its own London Living Wage policy to its apprentices.

The decision could mean the top 20 contractors which are paid £360m by Westminster for services each year will all sign up.

So far the council said just two of them have “universally” signed up to the afreement.

The move means it will follow 18 other London councils, including Kensington and Chelsea which pledged to ensure its contractors were paying their staff, including cleaners the £10.55 per hour wage as new contracts get signed off.

Westminster’s Cabinet member for finance Racheal Robatham said the move could see wage bills increase between £3m and £6m over the next three to five years as new contracts are drawn up with its suppliers.

The bill for apprentices is also likely to soar by £0.1m over the same period.

The change comes in next month after it got the go-ahead from Westminster’s Cabinet.

Council leader Nickie Aiken said the council wanted to extend the London Living Wage which their own staff already get as a minimum.

She said that contractors traditionally pay their workers a set rate but the council wanted to change that.

Measles warning after Westminster rise

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Baby with measles
Science Photo Library

Parents in west London are again being urged to get their children vaccinated against the potentially-deadly measles virus.

It follows an outbreak in the first half of this year, with 48 cases detected in May alone, compared to only five cases in January and two in February.

This week, health officials from Westminster Council will send letters to parents of every child registered with a GP in the borough.

The letter reminds parents of the symptoms, which commonly include a rash of white a red blotches, a fever, runny nose and eyes, and a sore throat.

And it suggests booking a GP appointment as soon as possible if any child has had only one – or no – MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jabs.

Mumps cases are also on the rise, with 235 new cases recorded across London between January and the end of June alone, compared with 147 cases in all of 2018.

Though its symptoms are less serious than measles, NHS officials are again urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

The first MMR dose is usually given to children at three months and a second top-up dose at three years and three months.

Councillor Heather Acton, Westminster’s cabinet member for public health, said: “We are lucky that the situation isn’t worse in the city, given Westminster falls below the levels required to be effective against outbreaks.

“Measles is a very unpleasant disease and the effects can be devastating, so we want to make sure parents are aware of the dangers.”