We won! City of London announces new hours at Artizan Street Library


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After a well publicised local campaign, I am pleased to announce that the City of London has agreed to extend the hours at Artizan Street Community Library. This is fantastic news! In addition to extending the hours the City will also now be trialling a Saturday opening slot for six months.

From 14th May 2018 the new Library hours will be as follows:

Monday- 8am-7pm
Tuesday- 8am-5.30pm
Wednesday- 8am-5.30pm
Thursday- 8am-5.30pm
Friday- 8am-5.30pm
Saturday- 9am-1pm

This really is tremendous news for the local community and it will now mean that this wonderful resource is available for even more people to use on a daily basis. Please do spread the word and let people know about the new opening times to ensure as many people benefit from the new hours as possible. Once again this result demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can influence positive change in the community and get our voices heard.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and to the parents who came to the Guildhall last month to hand-in the petition. We couldn’t have got this result without all of your support.

Well done everyone!

Best regards

Jason Pritchard

Middlesex Street Resident and Common Councilman for the ward of Portsoken


Feedback following our library petition hand-in at the Guildhall


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Some of the residents outside Artizan Street library with the petition before delivering it at the Guildhall

Report by Jason Pritchard CC

Good news! Earlier today I went with a small group of residents to hand in our Artizan Street library petition and to speak with the Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham at the Guildhall. The petition gathered 115 signatures from local people and sent a clear message that we want better hours to fit the community. I am pleased to say the meeting went very well.

Both Ms Boswarthack and Mr Packham CC have agreed with residents that the current hours at the library are simply not working for the local community and subject to the final feedback from the City of London Opening Hours survey are positively exploring options to:

a) open the library beyond 4pm on weekdays so that schoolchildren and working people can enjoy more time in the library

b) trial Saturday opening hours for local residents and families

It was clear today that the City has been listening to the message from local residents which is great news and although officially they cannot announce new hours until after their survey close date it was pretty clear there is going to be a change for the better.

Thank you to the 115 people who signed the Library petition and helped put this issue firmly on the agenda. This demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can influence positive change in the community and get our voices heard.


Residents hand-in petition at the Guildhall with Head of Barbican & Community Library Services Carol Boswarthack and the Chair of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee Graham Packham

Please help keep the pressure on by sharing the Artizan Street Library survey below by email or on social media.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/artizanhours

The survey closing date is the 25th March so please do make sure you complete the survey and spread the word. The City of London have promised to publish their new library opening hours plans by the 1st April.

We will keep you updated on developments and hope to share more good news on this local campaign in the near future.

Best regards

Jason Pritchard

Middlesex Street Resident and Common Councilman for the ward of Portsoken


Can you join us to hand in our Artizan St Library petition?


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We’ve reached a crucial point in our campaign – next week, we’re going to be delivering our petition to the Head of Barbican and Community Libraries and the Chairman of the Culture, Heritage & Libraries Committee.

There’s a key decision deadline later this month, so now is the time to put the pressure on and make sure we get the right outcome. There are three ways you can help:

1. Share the petition one more time so we can get a final push on signatures before the hand-in:


2. VERY IMPORTANT: Complete the City of London Artizan St Library survey as soon as possible. It only take 5 minutes to complete:


3. If you can make it, come along for the group photo on Tuesday 13th March at 09:15am outside Artizan Street library. We want to get as many local people present for the photo before the petition is delivered later in the day at the Guildhall. The more of us that are there, the more impact we can have.

If you’re planning to come or have any questions, just email jason4portsoken@gmail.com


Update on Artizan Street Library Petition


Good news! On the back of our petition which received over 100 signatures, the City of London this week announced a review into opening hours at Artizan St Library in order to make the library more accessible to children, families & workers. Result! Thanks to all who signed the petition and helped make this issue a hot topic.

Now we need your help with the next stage. The City has said: “We want to plan any changes around an understanding of the needs and preferences of our local community, so we would be grateful if everyone who currently uses Artizan St library could complete our survey.”

You can do this by going to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/artizanhours or by visiting the library during opening hours to fill out a paper copy. The Library will collect responses until 25th March. They will then publish their plans by 1st April.

Please make sure your voice is heard and take a moment to complete the survey. We need opening hours that work for our community.


Local Labour member Mannie Blankett receives honorary membership


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To honour a lifetime’s commitment to Labour, Portsoken Councillor Jason Pritchard presented local member and centenarian Emmanuel Blankett of Middlesex Street Estate with honorary membership today on behalf of the City of London Labour branch. Thank you Mannie for your support from everyone at the Labour Party.

Join our movement

Tempted to join the Party, but have a few questions first? Read on to discover what it means to be a Labour member.

The Labour Party is an 100+ year old political organisation built on equality, social justice and compassion. We are a movement of over half a million members working to elect a government that puts those shared values into action.

As a Labour member, you’ll help us form the next Labour Government and have a say in our policy. We’ll provide you with all the tools and resources to get involved in events, campaign days and rallies and introduce you to a network of other like-minded members. And if you want to one day, you can even stand for election as an official Labour Party candidate.

Am I eligible to join?

If you’re over 14, not a member of another political party, and are a British citizen or have lived in the UK for a year or more, then absolutely. Come on in.

How much does it cost?

As little as £3 a year. Most members pay our standard rate of £4.17 a month and many choose to pay more to support our campaigns.

Where is my money going?

We’re built on the contributions of our many dedicated members. Your membership fees pay for the posters, leaflets, rallies and events that you see up and down the country. Every penny is put to good use. Without our members’ contributions, we simply wouldn’t be able to run the Labour Party.

What happens after I join?

Keep an eye out for a membership pack in the post. Your membership card is in there –along with a whole host of useful information about what you can get involved in. As soon as that arrives, you’ll be a card-carrying member of the Labour Party.

By joining, you’ll also become a part of your local Labour Party, who will be in touch about ways you can get involved with loads of different campaigns and events near you. You can get involved in everything from policy making to campaigning to social events right away.

How to get involved with Labour

Middlesex Street massage parlour shut down after Labour petition sparks investigation


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A Middlesex Street massage parlour investigated over claims it was offering sexual services has been shut down after the City Corporation won a claim to forfeit its lease last week.

Red Peony Ltd, which occupied a shop directly underneath the Middlesex Street Estate, was among six massage parlours inspected by Corporation officers earlier this year following a local petition demanding tougher regulations to stop the area from turning into “a red light district”.

The Mayor’s and City of London Court made an order for possession of the property at 77 Middlesex Street last Thursday in a hearing that lasted less than five minutes. Representatives for Red Peony Ltd did not appear, although Companies House has Chinese national Xiaoqin Song listed as director.

A spokesperson for Red Peony denied the closure was linked to the investigations.

“That might be true for other businesses in the area, but in our case the building did not have the license to carry out treatments so we had to close.”

A spokesperson for the City Corporation said: “Red Peony breached the terms of its commercial lease by providing massages on the premises.

“Providing any kind of massage services on the premises by the tenant was outside the scope of the uses permitted under the terms of the lease.”

Online forum ukpunting.com highlights two establishments at Nos. 66 and 77 Middlesex Street as offering “extra” services of a sexual nature in posts as recent as December 2016.

City licensing officers conducted widespread inspections of businesses operating in the area, and although a report published in August revealed no contraventions of the law, further investigations into Red Peony’s trading practices revealed a breach of license.


L to R: Portsoken Councillor Jason Pritchard, Jeremy Simons (Deputy Chairman) of Port Health & Environmental Services Committee, Portsoken Councillor Munsur Ali

The petition was initiated by Portsoken common councillors Jason Pritchard and Munsur Ali, who said there were growing concerns over the proliferation of the massage parlour trade in and around Middlesex Street, which forms part of the City’s boundary with Tower Hamlets.

Tower Hamlets also ramped up investigations, with a spokesperson confirming several cases had been referred for formal consideration for legal proceedings.

The owners of Relax Studio on Gunthorpe Street will plead their case before Tower Hamlets’ licensing committee this Thursday, despite multiple objections from officers whose investigations revealed “services of a sexual nature were being offered at the premises in return for money.”

Cllr Pritchard said he was pleased the City had acted “fairly swiftly” on the back of the petition.

“This demonstrates that when residents come together on local issues we can get a result.”

Source: City Matters

See also: https://portsokenlabour.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/labour-launches-petition-for-massage-parlour-investigation-in-both-city-and-tower-hamlets/



Labour’s candidate William Campbell-Taylor on why party politics has a place in the City


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William Campbell-Taylor believes Labour councillors get unfair treatment from their peers, and says they should instead be praised for their transparency.

“Many of the Independent City councillors are also Conservative Party members – not to mention Freemasons – and at least one of them is a serving Conservative councillor elsewhere,” said Mr Campbell-Taylor.

“It’s completely fine that they should have political affiliations, of course. What isn’t fine is that they should then pretend they have no political interests.”

Labour caused a stir in March’s City-wide elections when the party increased its influence in the Court of Common Council fivefold.

Now the latest man to run with a red rosette is hoping his public-facing campaign will be enough to help him join the fray and become the first Labour Alderman.

“Many residents are pleased to have the opportunity to support a Labour candidate for Alderman, though it’s also true that party politics isn’t the only consideration when choosing whom to vote for.

“Residents and small businesses want to know that you are on their side, that you will fight their corner.”

Mr Campbell-Taylor can point to a history of holding the local authority to account. In 2001 he successfully campaigned to prevent the Cass Foundation selling off the Sir John Cass’s School site before forcing the City to publish a summary of its private cash accounts in 2011.

“If transparency is a priority for me so too is fairness,” he said. “For example, I want the City to cover free school meals for all children in Year 3 and above at Sir John Cass’s.

When it puts £12million into its private schools I think it can also afford to make sure the children at the City’s only state school get a decent meal during the day.”

Housing is also a minefield the candidate is putting at the top of his agenda, but complete with hard hat, he has pledged to scrutinise Corporation policy, especially after the “Bernard Morgan House calamity”.

“I want to make sure the City meets its commitments to housing Londoners… to build 3,700 new homes by 2025. It can begin by looking after those who already live on the two housing estates in Portsoken, one of which is council run.

“I read that Aldgate is now being billed as ‘the hottest property destination in Europe’, set to generate 20,000 jobs. But how many of those jobs will come to local residents? And how will the residents and small businesses benefit from all this money coming into the area?”

And it isn’t just housing that the Labour candidate thinks the Corporation is under-delivering on. He wants reform that he says will allow the Square Mile to start working for everyone, not just those in big business.

“Because different governments have promoted the liberalisation of the financial services sector, the Corporation decided that it wasn’t in its interests to nail its political colours to the mast.

“Only now, after the crash, is this catching up with the City. People are beginning to see that the City of London, rather than being a state of nature, represents a powerful set of interests. And these interests need to be brought into the daylight. That’s what a Labour group can do; it can shine a light on the interests at work.

“Politics is not a freelance activity – about being a ‘Mighty Me’ independent – it’s about solidarity, people working together and demanding change.”

Mr Campbell-Taylor stated that the growing number of Labour members on the council was evidence of a change in attitudes locally.

“Our new Labour councillors Jason Pritchard and Munsur Ali have shown this in their campaigning work, from making sure that all unlicensed massage parlours are closed down to speaking up for the Rohingya Muslims in the council.

“Now we need more councillors like Jason and Munsur that reflect the mix of the City and theconcerns of ordinary people – and hopefully soon the City’s first Labour Alderman too.”

Source: City Matters


Labour calls for all high rise tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers


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make homes safe

Thousands of families are living in high-rise properties in the UK. Nearly all of these homes do not have adequate safety systems.

Chief Fire Officers across the UK have said that it is proven that fitting homes with fire safety systems, like sprinklers, saves people’s lives in the event of a fire.

The Labour party is urging the government to set aside vital funding in the 2017 Budget for local authorities and housing associations to fit sprinklers into tower blocks, to protect the lives of tens of thousands of people across the country.

We know that fitting high-rise tower blocks with sprinklers could save thousands of lives. That’s why we’re urging the Tories to pledge vital funds to install sprinklers, to keep families safe from fire.

With us? Please sign and share this by clicking the link below


See also: https://portsokenlabour.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/fire-risk-assessment/

Please sign and share our petition calling on City of London to increase opening hours at Artizan Street Library


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We need opening hours at Artizan Street Library that work for our community.

We want the committee to work with the community to establish a new spread of opening hours, and ensure the needs of local school children, students, workers and other residents are put first in this decision.

We propose a spread of hours comprising at least 3 evenings per week, so the library may be a resource for a greater number and variety of people.

We propose that the library opens on Saturdays so that parents and children can visit at their leisure. The Barbican library is open Sat: 9.30am–4pm, that’s what we need in Portsoken.

Why is this important?

From Tuesday to Friday, the library closes at 4pm, and it doesn’t open at all at weekends. Many children and students in local schools finish too late to to use the services after school, and residents working 9-5 jobs do not have much opportunity to access the library at all.

The current opening hours seem only to serve the needs of the City workers coming into the area during the day, rather than the people living in the local community.

This issue has been raised in a recent customer survey, and a consultation into a new spread of opening hours is under way. We, the residents of the City of London, want to make sure that our voices are put front and centre on this issue, rather than the corporations and City workers, which is too often the case.

Please sign the petition here → https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/artizanstlibrary

Portsoken Aldermanic Election Update: William Campbell-Taylor will be Labour candidate


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William announcement 2

Portsoken Aldermanic Election Update: William Campbell-Taylor will be Labour candidate for the forthcoming Aldermanic election which will take place on Dec 14th 2017. This is the first time that the Labour party will contest an Aldermanic seat in the City of London. William Campbell-Taylor became the first ever political party candidate to be elected to the Common Council after winning a by-election in Portsoken in March 2014. Labour now has five Labour councillors in the City of London following historic election results in 2017 which included the election of two Labour councillors in the ward of Portsoken.