Our Response to Local Government Boundary Commission

From FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum
FAO Emily Starkie (Review Officer)
Dear Madam,
Thank you for consulting us regarding the review of Westminster warding arrangments.
We do have some observations regarding our own area that we would like to put forward.  This revolves around the area known as Fitzrovia, which is now commonly marked on maps, such as google maps, but has no continuity in the ward boundaries.
I am a representeantive of The FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum, an active neighbourhood group that has been set up since 2013. On 10th April 2018 our executive group agreed that we should write to you and this letter representes the views we consider our members to hold and those of the executive meeting last night.
I enclose a link to a map which outlines where the area is located.  Our area has been designated a business forum, becasue of the number of businesses in the area.
We would like to see the whole of FItzrovia within Westminster being within the West End Ward.
Evidence:
Historic parish boundary now irrelevant:
Currently most of our area is located in the West End Ward, while a small amount – North of New Cavendish Street – is located in Marylebone High Street Ward.   This is an anomaly reaching back to the days when ward boundaries were linked to parish boundaries.  However today the reality is that the West End with its vibrancy of mixed uses – as opposed to simply residential – extend from Oxford Strreet in the south of our area, right up to Euston Road which forms our northern boundary.
Electorate numbers in FItzrovia:
We note the electorate is expected to rise in West End Ward and Marylebone Ward – much of this expansion is due to large multi-storey blocks of luxury flats which have recently been given permission in Fitzrovia.  This can be confirmed by reference to CIL forecasts.
Different nature of West End and Marylebone:
Fitzrovia is currently split between Marylebone High Street and West End Ward.  We do not feel an affinity with the rest of Marylebone High Street Ward, which is a different area, having an older, more stable population and less commerce.  Marylebone High Street is focused around the local shopping High Street called Marylebone High Street.   While Fitzrovians look towards Great Titchfield Street and Great Portland Street as twin local shopping streets.
It should also be noted that over the years the West End has migrated east.  Current regeneration projects always link Camden’s areas of Bloomsbury and Tottenham Court Road in with the rest of the wider Westminster West End, which includes Covent Garden.  No longer does Oxford Street have the prevelance it once enjoyed.  Bond Street and Totternham Court Road are also now equally, if not more thriving shopping streets.  This reflects a national move away from shopping in department stores, to smaller nich stores and shopping neighbourhoods, which also offer office accommodation, cultural facilties, cafes and restaurants.  This mix of use defines FItzrovia.
Strong community views:
When we set up Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum there was some controvery between our area and Marylebone regarding boundaries.  At a public meeting in 2013 there was unanimous support for keeping FItzrovia as a separate entity to Marylebone and this has been a continuing theme throught our work:
A show of hands revealed that there was a considerable majority in favour of pursuing a FitzWest application, though some people regretted that a Camden/Westminster joint neighbourhood forum seemed unlikely.  There was no support for merging Fitzrovia with the Marylebone proposal.”  Report of a meeting  8th October 2013,
“At this meeting, just like at the first meeting, a show of hands was taken. Only one person, who lived or worked in the area, out of over eighty people present, expressed the view that they would like to consider the Marylebone proposal, while the rest wanted to pursue the Fitzrovia West proposal.” Report of a public meeting, 13 November 2013
Better representation from West End Councillors:
Throughout our work we have received far more support and engagement from the West End councillors than from Marylebone High Street councillors.
This is demonstrated in that West End councillors regularly attend our executive meetings (all attendance is recorded in our minutes on our website)
In addition we have been far more generously funded by West End Ward Budget than by Marylebone:  Between 2014 and 2019, West End Ward has funded FItzWest to the tune of £7300, while we have received only £500 from Marylebone Ward, excluding a £1742 grant for a greening project managed by FItzWest, but not part of the Neighbourhood Forum process.  https://www.westminster.gov.uk/ward-budgets
Kind regards
Wendy Shillam
FitzWest Neighbourhood Forum
For more information or to make your own representation go to www.lgbce.org.uk

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