The West End Commission was set up in August 2012 after Westminster Council caved in to pressure from businesses and the Westminster Labour group over new car parking controls. The row over parking in the West End led to criticism of Cllr Lee Rowley, the Cabinet Member for Parking and Transportation on Westminster City Council, and later the resignation of the council leader Colin Barrow. Rowley’s parking proposals, however, were broadly supported by residents in the West End which has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in the UK.
The commission has put forward a number of recommendations on governance, transport, marketing, crime and housing and has now formally asked Westminster City Council to consider them to secure the West End’s long-term success.
Cllr Roe said: “I welcome this report as a serious and substantial piece of work looking at the future of the West End and would like to thank Sir Howard Bernstein and the rest of the Commissioners for the time and effort that they have put into producing it over the last nine months.
“We created the Commission in order to help the City Council secure the future success of the West End and to allow us to provide strengthened leadership whilst bringing together the various interests and groups involved in his most unique part of our capital. I am pleased therefore that the Commission agrees with our belief that this should be done through a strengthened partnership involving senior players in the West End including the Mayor, police, TfL and businesses. The strengthened partnership can then bring together collective leadership and focus on the particular challenges the West End faces.
“I am also pleased that the Commission recommends that the particular funding challenges around managing the global nature of the West End should be recognised by both central government and the Mayor rather than simply falling on the taxpayers of Westminster.
“It argues that this can be done through seeking a new financial and constitutional settlement for the centre of London or a City Deal for the centre of London. Again, we agree with this.
“I am keen that we move forward with these proposals as soon as possible. That is why I will be having discussions with many of the most senior individuals involved within London including the Mayor over the coming days. We will then set out in detail how we will take forward the recommendations.
“The Commission has set out a very clear challenge. Westminster City Council is willing to accept this challenge and I would urge others involved in the West End to do the same if we are to secure its future success.”
- May 2013: Leader of Westminster Council to meet with key West End public agencies such as Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police to reinforce commitment to a West End partnership. Scoping meeting of West End partners including public agencies, business and residents.
- 15 May Independent London Finance Commission report launched
- June: Joint letter form London Council and the Mayor to central government setting out proposals for a new finance and governance settlement for London. Terms of reference and programme of activity for a new West End partnership developed and agreed.