We asked our local ward councillors for a message about the rewards and challenges ahead for our area in the coming year. As always our councillors are here to help you and promote our area. If you have something you need to discuss you can meet them out one of their regular surgeries.
Last Friday of each month
17 Stukeley Street
off Drury Lane
1st/3rd Friday of each month
Bedford House Community Centre
35 Emerald Street
off Lamb's Conduit Street
Cabinet Member for Housing, LB Camden
Councillor for Holborn and Covent Garden
The critical challenge for many people in Holborn in 2013 will be the Government's much vaunted welfare changes. The aim to move towards a 'universal' type of benefit seems initially attractive, but the more the Government have worked on the changes the more they have realised that there are very many people who will have their rights trampled on. For example, those who are chronically sick and disabled, for whom there was specific legislation, are not easy to categorise, and the suggestion that this group contain 'scroungers', 'malingerers' and 'benefit cheats' flies in the face of both reason and humanity.
It is also significant that a very considerable group of those who can claim Housing Benefit are actually in full-time work. Their jobs may not be the most glamorous, but they work hard for Minimum Wage or London Living Wage sums, and their skills are absolutely vital for the economy of Central London.
What the Government initially failed to realise was that the 'social cleansing' of our area, to use the apposite phrase of the Mayor of London, would undermine the entire infrastructure. without these vital workers the hospitals, schools, Universities, restaurants, hotels, and a whole range of public services will be at risk. Social housing at genuinely affordable rents is the bedrock foundation of this cohort of workers, as private sector rents continue to spiral out of control. Indeed, the idea that as private rental housing becomes more expensive, and 'caps' on Housing Benefits are introduced, those in work can somehow look for family housing outside London and then commute in daily, is not only a logistical and transport nightmare, but wholly damaging for family life. Removing a workforce that can walk, cycle or use public transport for short journeys makes no sense whatsoever.
The latest announcement just before Christmas that these changes will once again be deferred is hopefully a sign that the Government have been listening to some rational arguments. If they press ahead it will be a seismic change both to the mixed social community of our neighbourhood, but potentially a financial disaster for the economy of Central London.
Chair of Culture and Environment Scrutiny Committee
Councillor for Holborn and Covent Garden
Parking: We need to get a grip on our chaotic parking regime in Holborn. There is a great risk of the minimal residential parking bays we have left being eroded by private interests, including car clubs, business, and pay and display bays. A substantial increase in residential bays that offsets the large parking deficit is what local Holborn residents have demanded as well as 24 hour parking restrictions on residential bays. We can also increase the amount of single yellow lines in the area and keep current operating hours of pay and display bays unchanged. These minor improvements can greatly assist local people.
Primary School Road Safety: We have managed to deliver traffic calming measures and road safety improvements to the surrounding streets of St George the Martyr Primary School, where parents and children can now safely navigate their way through Great Ormond Street and Millman Street, into the main entrance of the school. And in the process, we will turn the whole borough into a 20mph speed limit to reduce accidents on our busiest roads. We are currently working with the local parents and teachers of Christopher Hatton Primary School to find out the danger and threat level of the flow of traffic around the school so we can introduce measures that limit possible dangers to local youngsters, parents, and teachers.