Leader makes a start on manifesto pledges

Tom Foot reports on Westminster Labour’s momentous election win

Friday, 13th May — By Tom Foot

Adam hug

Adam Hug: ‘It’s both incredibly exciting and deeply humbling’

THE Labour group is going to have to come good on a series of bold pre-election promises including an overhaul of the planning system, bringing privatised services back in house, demanding 60 per cent affordable housing from new developments, blocking new gambling dens and building a new lido – to name just a few.

The “fairer Westminster” manifesto contains more than 100 pledges including a major social housing expansion, retrofitting existing homes, freezing council tax, stopping NHS sell-offs and “ending Westminster’s cozy relationship with developers”.

There is also clear ambition to “cut waste on pageantry and PR to free up funds for more important areas”, it said.

Labour leader Adam Hug told the Extra: “We have already set in motion urgent plans to turn more of the houses the council is currently building into homes for social rent, we’ve started the vital work of institutional change to make the council better at listening to, and acting upon, residents’ concerns and we are exploring lots of avenues to tackle the cost of living crisis from ensuring the council will freeze tax until 2024, to giving more support to food banks and pushing forward with retrofitting and double-glazing.”

Reflecting on the historic results, he said: “Local people responded positively to our vision of a council that is focused on residents’ issues and tackling some of the deep-seated challenges Westminster faces, from a massive housing waiting list and issues around poverty and inequality through to the tackling the climate crisis and rethinking what the post-pandemic economy means for our city.”

The manifesto commitments include shifting away from the council’s historic focus on the West End to neglected areas of north Westminster.

Several reviews are promised including one into homelessness, housing standards, e-scooters, a “community wealth strategy”, review of the council’s magazine Westminster Reporter, and the launch of a Westminster Commission to “rethink our city”.

The Labour group has pledged to give greater powers to residents’ associations and to hold an annual housing conference while setting up a new leaseholders charter.

There will be a focus on building more family-sized homes.

The planning system will also be revamped with strict new rules on city council members accepting hospitality from individual developers or their agents.

It commits the party to an expansion of school holiday provision and reversal of the closure of the Gordon Hospital for NHS mental health patients.

Citizens’ assemblies will be held and there will be a roadmap for “environment justice” for each individual ward.

The Pimlico Heating District will be decarbonised and climate bonds introduced along with retrofitting of council-owned homes.

New green spaces are promised and an end to resin-covered tree pits with more cycle hangars in streets.

There will be a radical overhaul; of contracting and procurement by the council that will bring public toilet provision back in-house.

The council’s fleet of vehicles will be turned electric.

The manifesto also promises to clamp down on the rise of gambling joints and to develop policies to reject casino licence applications.

“Prepare to build a lido and splash pool at Paddington Recreation Ground,” is another manifesto pledge.

The city council’s leisure contract with Everyone Active will also be reviewed.

Cllr Hug said: “It is a huge privilege to have been given the opportunity by our residents to be the first Labour leader of Westminster Council. It’s both incredibly exciting and deeply humbling. It’s something so many people have worked so hard to achieve over many decades and it means an awful lot to many people in our community.

“I and my team will work our socks off to justify the faith that has been put in us.”

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