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APRIL 2018

Soho Society AGM 26 April 2018 at 6 pm
St. Anne's Church, 55 Dean Street
 (Members only from 6 pm though you can join on the door)

This will be followed by ...
West End Ward Hustings 7.30 pm
meet and question the candidates
(open to those eligible to vote on 3 May 2018)

 Soho Society Board

Patron: Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
Honorary President: Leslie Hardcastle OBE
Chair: Tim Lord
Vice-Chair: David Gleeson
Secretary: Bob O'Dell
Treasurer: Lyn Blackman

email: admin@thesohosociety.org.uk
tel: 0300 302 1301   



The Soho Society                      
St Anne’s Tower                     
55 Dean Street                      
London W1D 6AF

Twitter: @sohosocietyw1
Facebook: The Soho Society

Instagtram: @sohosocietyw1

Dates for your diary:

AGM: 26 April 2018, 6 pm, Community Hall
Local Election Hustings: 26 April 2018 7.30 pm, Community Hall
Soho Fete: 1 July 2018 12 pm  - 6 pm
Soho Feast: 9 and 10 June 2018 12 pm onwards (ticketed)
Soho Pride in London: 7 July 2018

The Soho Society Hour on Soho Radio: Every Thursday 9am



At the AGM we have two new candidates standing for election to the exec board (Lucy Haine and Quentin Thompson) and four existing members who are standing for re-election - David Evans, David Gleeson, Margaret Bloomer and Lisa Sheehy.
Matthew has a few changes to the planning mandate on hotels and we will have our usual reports from the Chair, planning and licensing and the Treasurer.
Our campaigns for 2018 include:-
  • Protection of small independent retailers 
  • Responding to the proposals on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street and making our own proposals to WCC
  • Save the Soho Centre for Health and Care
  • Responding to the proposals for a 24-hour city
  • Campaigning against inappropriate developments in Soho

Get involved.

We are looking forward to this year's Soho Fete on Sunday 1 July 2018.

Help us make it fabulous. Please contact Lisa if you would like to volunteer, donate or perform.

The pedestrianisation of Oxford Street between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus:  The TFL consultation that ended on 3 January this year went badly wrong due to the loss of a number of correctly sent submissions, which included two major stakeholders.  The result is that the decision has been postponed, and it is likely that nothing will now be done in 2018. There are promises to mitigate the impact of any eventual scheme from both WCC and the Labour candidates.  If you want the scheme scrapped rather than mitigated then you can vote for a new party - the Campaign against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.

Small businesses:  We feel that the independent local businesses are an important part of Soho and should be supported in whatever way possible against rising rents and business rates.  They are, after all, part of the character of Soho, and are in danger of being priced out of business. There used to be a time when Soho had independent shops, such as butchers, bakeries, fishmongers, delicatessens, wine stores, and Berwick Street had stalls of every type on both sides of the street.  We even had a supermarket there until recently, the disappearance of which to make way for the building work must have had an impact on the footfall of Berwick Street.  We also lost a much-loved Pharmacy - Zest  - as a result of plans to build yet another hotel.
Key to these problems is the relationship between property developers, the rent review process and the relationship with the Council which often sees Soho as a place for money to be made rather than a community to be supported.  


The local elections are nearly upon us, and the candidates declared for election on 3 May.   Make sure you’re registered to vote by 17 April 2018 (Westminster’s website provides further details of how to do this).

Two of our existing councillors are not standing this time around,  therefore the Conservatives have two new faces - Tim Barnes and Hillary Su, as well as Jonathan Glanz, who is standing again.

The Labour Party candidates, who may be familiar by now as they have been actively canvassing in the Ward for some time are Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Savage.

We also have three Liberal Democrats, Florian Chevoppe-Verdier, Sophie Taylor, and Alan Ravenscroft, a Green Party candidate, Minne Fry, and from the Campaign against the Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, Ronald Whelan.

We at the Soho Society would like to highlight various issues for consideration, which we think are important to the ‘wellbeing’ of Soho.  If you have any issues please get in touch to let us know - see the Soho Society website for details.

Some of the questions we will be asking the candidates are as follows:

  • The sanitisation and loss of identity of Soho by overdevelopment. If you agree how would you propose to halt this and by what means?
  • The role of property developers and their relationship with the Council - is it in the interest of residents?
  • The marked increase in hotels and new hotel plans being consented to.  If you are opposed, what can be done about it? 
  • Would you support the retention of the Soho Hospital for Women as a public use building? If you agree, how would you go about achieving this and ensuring it is used?
  • The Mayor’s proposed pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.  Is "mitigation" possible or should the scheme be abandoned?
  • Do you agree with the Mayor’s proposal for a 24-hour city, with the proposed extended opening hours for restaurants, bars and clubs?  If you are in favour, how would you deal with the (yet further) increased noise faced by residents, particularly from the increased footfall and night-time deliveries to service these establishments? 
  • Would you support the protection of specialist independent shops and businesses - vinyl, fabric, food, film, etc?  If so, how would you go about achieving this?
  • What is your position on supporting the police, on crime in general, to particularly include gang and drug-related ASB and help for those with addiction/mental health problems - would you work with the Soho Society, the Ward Panel and others in finding long-term solutions?
  • How would you propose to deal with the air quality and environmental issues faced by the residents of Soho? What would be your proposals to alleviate the problem? 
  • Last, but by no means least, do you have any proposals to celebrate Soho’s history of diversity, inclusiveness and acceptance and its LGBTQIA history in particular?
  • 80% of Westminster voted to remain in the European Union and many of our neighbours and co-workers are EU Nationals.  We risk losing our specialist workforce in restaurants and film-making.  Where do you stand?
The first three probably go together, but Westminster has granted planning permission for 7 hotels in Soho, which whilst providing employment within the hotel industry takes away from other industries (for example, there would be a detrimental effect on the film industry by building a hotel on the site of Film House).  There are at least three proposed hotels in the immediate area of Berwick Street and surely the residents and businesses in that area in particularly and more generally have suffered more than enough by the continued and chaotic building works currently taking place in the area.
Tottenham Court Road Western Ticket Hall Hoardings
Later this year the Crossrail service (Elizabeth Line) at Tottenham Court Road will open including the new Western Ticket Hall at the top of Dean Street (pictured).   Although the new station entrance will be complete it will be some years before the upper levels of the building will be finished which means that for some time (between 2 and 5 years) there will be hoardings at ground floor level while TFL decides what to do above.  Crossrail will hand the building over to TFL later this summer.   Crossrail needs a decoration consent from Westminster City Council for the hoardings.  WCC have, in turn, suggested it should be a community project involving the Society.  Plans are afoot for a scheme involving some very fine photographic portraits of the people that live and work in Soho.   If you would like to get involved or have your photograph taken for the panels please get in touch with us.  For the next three months exec board member, Richard Piercy, will be in his studio in the Tower so let us know your connection to Soho and come and get your photograph taken.
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