It is an honour to be re-elected as the Alderman for Dowgate Ward today, December 18th. It is a democratic process but on this occasion I was not opposed. (I have fought two previous elections and won!). The formality of the election takes place at a Ward Mote which is the original term for the people in the Ward to gather and consider whom to elect. The Lord Mayor attends in state in scarlet robes and chain of office with the City Marshal carrying the sword of state and the Common Cryer the mace of the City in full robes. Although it was a formality I was pleased to have over 20 present to witness the ceremony and congratulate me at the conclusion. I was able to address the gathering and gave a brief resume my recent work: (1) in the Ward, to ensure the return of the bronze statue of the LIFFE trader to be erected in Dowgate Hill, marking the role of the LIFFE market that had its open outcry trading here in Dowgate; (2) in the City, in chairing the Active City Network meeting to engage businesses with active travel in walking and cycling and (3) internationally attending the COP25 climate conference in Madrid promoting Green Finance and the Green Finance Institute.
I pledged to continue this work to make the City the best place to work and live and enjoy life; championing any issues raised in Dowgate Ward; I will be working to ensure that the City will thrive and prosper post Brexit and amongst other initiatives, I will lead on the COP26 presence for the City.
Dowgate Ward continues to be the focus of my work. Some issues can be promptly resolved but others are continuing and I seek to oversee and ameliorate any problems where I can do so.
The rough sleepers who had been prominent in Laurence Pountney Hill in the Ward are believed to have been rehoused and we all hope that this is for the long term. There are others sleeping rough in the Ward either temporarily or longer term. The City’s officers are working closely with them alongside Broadway/St Mungo’s. You can report anyone you see sleeping out to the Streetlink helpline streetlink.org.uk. At the same time it is also important that you report any criminal activities or anti-social behaviour, although by no means are rough sleepers necessarily involved in this sort of activity.
The gas mains works continue on Cannon Street. The original end date given was December 2019 but there is hope that this will be earlier. Unfortunately the works keep being disrupted when new complications are discovered or existing pipe work is less robust and needs more repair that was anticipated. This is not the only location across the City where these works are happening a result of the established infrastructure no longer meeting current needs.
Planning applications are regularly received in the Ward - not all about tall buildings! The refurbishment of Dyers’ Hall in Dowgate Hill has been tricky as it is a Grade 1 listed building needing Historic England input to create a modernised accessible building but still retaining its historic nature. Another application relates to the proposed re-opening of the Swan Lane Pier for use by commercial and entertainment river craft (not a regular taxi service). This is still in the early stages and has to date received much adverse attention from residents and businesses alike. More consultation will take place before the Planning and Transportation Committee receive the report for final consideration. An application has been submitted to change the use of one of the two betting shops in the Ward into a circuit studio - again early stages.
I am always happy to receive comments or requests for help around the Ward and you can email me on email@example.com.
The Annual Ward Mote (meeting of electors in the Ward) has been fixed for Thursday March 19th at 12 noon at Skinners’ Hall in Dowgate Hill. It will be a chance for you to meet the elected members and raise any issues and we aim to have an interesting presentation on a local topic of note. Please put this in your diary to attend.
Finally this is the time of year for the registration of voters on the electoral lists. The forms are sent to each office and you have until 16 December to reply and ensure that the list is up to date. Please contact me if you need any more information.
The main focus for many businesses in Dowgate Ward are the works to replace the gas mains that have dug up the whole of Cannon Street. Working has been taking place since April and whilst a December end date was originally expected it is likely that this will end sooner in September/October. Cadent are the operators doing the work. For many the works are really disturbing and an interference with their business. It is possible to get a reduction in the rateable value if the overall quality of the building and/or the surrounding areas has degenerated. A request can be made to the Valuation Office for them to consider reducing the rateable value of the building. This can be done on a temporary or permanent basis. An appeal can be submitted through the following link https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates. A reduction in rateable value will result in a reduction in the business rate bill.
Applications can also be made for possible compensation from Cadent https://cadentgas.com/help-advice/frequently-asked-questions . Cadent's helpline might be useful for an update on 0800 389 8261. There is another 24 hour helpline on 0800 151 2404. Photo of gasworks in Cannon Street
Another continuing concern is the presence of rough sleepers. There have been several individuals sleeping rough over long periods of time in Dowgate Ward with significant bedding on the street. This was raised as a particular concern at the Ward Mote held in March and a resolution urging the City Corporation to take more steps was agreed by the voters and sent to the Corporation for action and response. A reply is awaited on the motion. However the City has set up a special committee to consider the issue of rough sleeping and this gives elected Members oversight and scrutiny of the actions that can be taken. In response to particular concerns, the City advises that you report anyone you see on the streets to StreetLink https://www.streetlink.org.uk/. This aims to connect people sleeping rough to local services. If this is any mess that needs cleaning should be reported to Love The Square Mile app and any criminal activity should be reported to the Police on 101 unless is it an emergency and you should ring 999. The City is able to provide accommodation to rough sleepers and hep and advice if this is needed and the team do not give up on those individuals who are experiencing complex problems.
Bedding of rough sleepers
A planning application to re-open Swan Lane Pier for a mooring for Ocean Diva received a lot of objections from residents and businesses (as well as some support ). This is not a water taxi service but a floating restaurant and bar. The application is not yet to be determined as there are some outstanding matters still be resolved as to the usage of the Pier.