Reminder: Artizan St Library new opening times start today

This is just a reminder that following our successful campaign with local residents the new opening hours at Artizan Street Library start today.  Please do spread the word!DbI2z-8XcAI0wNu

 

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Portsoken residents – Need help to get to the City-wide Residents’ meetings on Wednesday 9th May 2018?

Need help to get to the City-wide Residents’ meetings on Wednesday 9th May? The City of London has offered free transport to Portsoken residents. If you need help to get there please contact Sophie Caley by 4 May: sophie.caley@cityoflondon.gov.uk or call 020 7606 3030 (ask for Sophie Caley)

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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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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

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.

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

 

Labour’s William Campbell-Taylor speaks out over smear campaign

Former Portsoken Labour councillor William Campbell-Taylor has spoken out about a stalker who created a “cyber smear” scandal to ruin his reputation.

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Last month local newspaper City Matters reported Mr Campbell-Taylor was the target of defamatory direct mail distributed in the Middlesex Street Estate where he was campaigning to become Portsoken Alderman.

The flyers accused the Anglican priest of grooming “a vulnerable male” for sex and were distributed to residents just over a fortnight before they went to the polls on 14 December.

But the harassment goes far deeper, according to Mr Campbell-Taylor who has recounted details of stalking, false allegations and threats of violence in a revealing post on his blog Hackney Preacher.

“For the better part of the last decade I’ve had a stalker,” he wrote.

“In the beginning, when we were colleagues, I didn’t realise that’s what it was. I tried to field his unusual intensity with everyday friendliness. It didn’t work. In fact my attempts to manage the situation made it far worse.”

“Five years ago I sought to break off all contact. Three years ago I went to the Police [sic]. Until now I have not spoken about it in public.”

Mr Campbell goes on to say that the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, delivered gifts – including a live hamster – to his home, threatened to circumcise him with a scalpel and made allegations of sexual assault, which he disseminated through fake news websites.

“Anonymous unsolicited news bulletins ‘reporting’ on these abuse allegations were sent to fellow councillors in the City of London, to clergy colleagues and friends across London diocese, to my wife’s friends and colleagues, the local rabbi,” Mr Campbell-Taylor wrote.

“To be clear: I have never had any sexual contact with this man. Nor have I wanted or sought to have any. I have certainly never abused him.”

Thames Magistrates’ Court issued a restraining order on 9 January this year prohibiting the man from making any reference to or about Mr Campbell-Taylor and his wife that “is likely to cause them harassment, alarm or distress”.

A police spokesperson has confirmed they are currently investigating concerns reported to them “in relation to matters of electoral process”.

At this stage no evidence has been released linking the individual to the flyers.

Mr Campbell-Taylor said he felt compelled to speak out after being approached for comment by City Matters on the allegations made in the flyers.

“The reason that I am putting this story on my blog is because there is nowhere amongst all the cyber smear that gives my account of what actually happened.”

“I want the truth to be at least visible within the fog that swirls about it.

“In the end, however, our good name is one we receive as a gift. It’s a grace bestowed neither by the magistrate’s court nor by the court of public opinion. And for that I give thanks.”

Source: City Matters

Middlesex Street massage parlour shut down after Labour petition sparks investigation

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.

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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.

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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/

https://portsokenlabour.wordpress.com/2017/04/12/councillor-pritchard-delivers-on-massage-petition/

https://portsokenlabour.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/update-on-massage-parlours/

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

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