Free Parking in Westminster : parking and congestion control exemption in Marylebone


Parking and congestion free for all in Marylebone. Compliments of British Land, McAleer & Rushe and Westminster City Council

Get on down to 2-14 Baker Street and surrounding area for free parking and the ultimate congestion.

With all the talk about onerous new parking regulations in London’s West End – complements of the Tories and Westminster City Council, are we to welcome the total relaxation of parking controls and congestion policing in parts of Marylebone?

Westminster City Council have been turning a blind eye to double parking, road blocks and illegal parking for the past nine months. Hard to believe, but true.

Is Christmas coming early – or is this an exceptional case of goodwill to cheer up motorists amidst the doom and gloom of economic woes? Can anyone gatecrash the party? Well, there seems to be a few ‘requisites’ – but the general rule of thumb seems to be;

  • Bring your friends – crowdsourcing is in
  • Travel in convoy – fill an entire street and more, if possible
  • Double park – but remember to bring your friends and their vehicles
  • Cause chaos – the more chaotic and the more congestion you cause the better
  • Block the road – or several if you can – parking on junctions is best
  • Bigger is always best (as we all know) – so commercial vehicles preferred
  • Ignore the rules. If challenged respond with ‘I’ll move’ but don’t say when

Those wishing to take advantage of this free parking in Westminster are advised to get down early. Competition for space is tough. In fact, one company, McAleer & Rushe, seems to be hogging all the available free parking – giving preference to vehicles who lay claim to a connection to their site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square). Their site opens for business at 8am monday to saturday – and they seem to sneak in sundays every so often. So to ensure your free parking space, get down before 7.30 am. Of course, there may be the odd irrate traffic warden – so you may need to spoof a little and lay claim to an association with the construction site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square). That seems to do the trick. The site, incidently, is owned by British Land.

The challenge is to create mayhem – the more congested, the more you block and the longer you park up the better. Those of you who do manage to get in and take advantage of this incredible free parking deal on a main London Olympics thoroughfare should send photos of your accomplishment to London Mayor Boris Johnson, Westminster City Council, British Land, McAleer & Rushe, to this blog and should boast of your exploits to the London papers. The Evening Standard is a good starting point – but don’t forget the BBC.

Facebook it, MySpace it, Twitter it and send postcards to all your friends, family and acquaintances. Evantalise it.

Free parking in Westminster. Free parking in Marylebone.

Your chance to make a difference – cause chaos now and your opportunity to bring London’s Olympics to a halt in 2012. Get down there NOW…. and when you contact Boris, send him this link : cyclists and site traffic on British Land site operated by McAleer and Rushe (endangering cyclists, traffic violations and endangement to the public).

(p.s. the photo above was taken on Friday morning 9th Spetember 2011 on Fitzhardinge Street – between Portman Square and Manchester Square. The free parking and chaos extended to Baker Street, Portman Square, Seymour Mews, Wigmore Street, Manchester Street, Manchester Square (lots of trucks double parking, blocking roadways and taking advantage of the free parking) and more. A right party indeed as the local residents will attest!).

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Posted in Boris Johnson, British Land, Building Site, Commercial Development, Congestion Charging London, Construction, Free Parking, HSE, London, London Mayor, London Olympics, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Parking in London, Retail Development, Street Parking in Marylebone, Street Parking in Westminster, Thug, Thuggery, Tourism London, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council, Where to park in London | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Trashing London Ahead of the Olympics – McAleer & Rushe F-Up Again on British Land Site


On disaster after another - one health and safety failure after another. McAleer and Rushe up to their old tricks again
McAleer an Rushe trash their British Land Site at 2-14 Baker Street flooding Bakers Mews with filthy water. mud and noise in the early hours. But…. who cares?

Another day of hell for Bakers Mews residents at the hands of McAleer & Rushe. Approximately five hours of road closures on the 1st August 2011 –
preventing residents accessing or leaving their homes by car – reflecting an
increasing trend by McAleer & Rushe to impose onerous conditions on those who
live in proximity of the British Land site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square). Despite repeated assurances by British Land, life for the residents only gets worse.

Five hours of being shut off from the world and then to top it all McAleer & Rushe deliver what they obviously presume to be the icing on the cake – flooding of filth, mud and water across the entire Mews. Left for hours unchecked until one in the
morning when the hammer jacks move in in earnest.

Children and families trying to access their homes in the evening were reduced to having to plough through water and filth six inches high in places. And not a site worker or safety person from the British Land site to be seen. Not so much as a few planks to provide a safe and dry walkway to the homes. No explanation to residents (who also suffered loss of water to their homes), no apology and very obviously the usual ‘we don’t give a s*** attitude’.

Residents of Bakers Mews have repeatedly objected to the lack of safety on this site. Equally, they have objected to the monstrous vehicles being driven in and out of Bakers Mews where it is obvious such traffic is neither safe nor acceptable. Indeed the ancient roadway and what lies beneath is not capable of supporting such traffic.

Yet, this almost bankrupt firm of McAleer and Rushe appear to be allowed to continue to run an unsafe site with impunity and to maintain unsafe practices and be allowed to
continue to demonstrate their sheer incompetence week in and week out. Month in, month out.

It is time this site is shut down for a full and proper safety audit. This is, after all, on one of the main Olympic routes for the London Olympics in 2012. Repeated warnings to British Land, to the HSE and to Westminster City Council have not resulted in this site being made safe. Residents of Bakers Mews life has been made hell since January of this year and enough is enough. The attitude of the McAleer & Rushe site manager (who gave his name reluctantly at 1am in the morning as ‘Bobby Graham’) only serves to underscore that that this site continues to pose risk and to demonstrate incompetence.

Posted in British Land, Building Site, Commercial Development, Construction, HSE, London, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Retail Development, Thug, Thuggery, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dicing with Death – Update: McAleer & Rushe’s Health and Safety Record


Scaffold collapse

McAleer and Rushe site in Milton Keynes where safety failures resulted in death.

Some months ago this blog published an article ‘Dicing with death‘ discussing serious failings and site safety lapses by McAleer & Rushe on the British Land development at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square).

McAleer & Rushe’s total failure to put in place even minimal safety processes to the rear of the site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) is documented on YouTube and referred to elsewhere on this blog. For example, the company operated a demolition site that was open to the public with no restrictions for many months – and despite repeated complaints.

Indeed, Westminster City Council had to call both British Land (the site owners) and McAleer and Rushe to task over “the most shoddy building site we have ever seen, anywhere”. In the case of 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square), the company saw fit to threaten and intimidate an effected resident and his family rather than put in place the necessary or any measures to ensure that their site was safe – both for those working on site as for those passing by the site. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the quality of the brickwork on that site was so bad that sections had to be replaced as it posed a risk to the public.

On a nearby site in George Street/Baker Street towards the end of 2010 there was an incident at anoth McAleer & Rushe site where part of a brick fell off their site causing damage to a parked car – though it could easily have struck the head of a pedestrian.

A trawl of McAleer & Rushe’s health and safety history shows that the company have failed to adhere to proper Health and Safety practices. Perhaps not surprisingly, there have been a number of deaths on McAleer & Rushe sites in the past. Most construction companies would apply ‘lessons learned’ from health and safety  incidents to ensure that there is no repeat, or worse. Yet McAleer & Rushe failed totally to put even basic health and safety processes in place at the 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) site. It is damming that British Land, the site owners, failed to act until compelled to do so.

Readers have also suggested that, following McAleer & Rushe loans having been taken over by NAMA in Ireland, McAleer and Rushe are now using other companies to front developments in London’s West End. Readers of this blog have claimed that some of these developments have also attracted criticism and complaints – though these reports have not yet been verified or confirmed.

The health and safety lapses and incidents on McAleer & Rushe sites in the past include;

An incident reported in Construction News (Man killed on McAleer & Rushe Rose Bowl redevelopment) on the 10th February 2010. The Construction News article reports; “A worker has been fatally crushed by a concrete block on the redevelopment of the Hampshire Rose Bowl cricket ground.” and goes on to state, “Philip Carsley, 34, from north Yorkshire, is believed to have been struck by the block during lifting operations at the site, near Southampton“.

In another incident in April 2006 in Milton Keynes: A “tied perimeter scaffold collapsed at a McAleer & Rushe construction site in Milton Keynes. John Robinson, a worker on site, was killed as a result of injuries sustained in the collapse, while two others, Mark Robinson and Ivan Peukov, suffered multiple injuries. McAleer and Rushe of Northern Ireland is being prosecuted both as an employer and as the principal contractor for the construction project at the site, and faces a total of six charges.” The inquest to the death of John Robinson found multiple failings on the part of McAleer & Rushe.

So where is the Health and Safety Executive in respect to 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square)? Who’s looking over McAleer & Rushe’s shoulder to ensure that both site workers and members of the public remain safe throughout the construction period of this development?

Any additional information from readers including insights to McAleer & Rushe, or related or associated companies – including health and safety matters is welcome. If you submit comment or information and do not want this published please state this in your comment. Comments to this blog are published only after approval.

Mayor of London and ALL other cyclists should avoid this site – see video on this link : cyclists and site traffic on British Land site operated by McAleer & Rushe (endangering cyclists, traffic violations and endangement to the public).

Posted in Boris Johnson, British Land, Building Site, Commercial Development, Construction, HSE, London, Mayor of London, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Retail Development, Thug, Thuggery, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Invective Problem Solving – and still Dicing with Death: British Land and McAleer & Rushe show their mettle


Arrant attitudes to health and safety at 2-14 Baker Street site on Baker's Mews

So, here we have it. British Land who, at a meeting with a neighbour of the site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) – who had been treatened by McAleer & Rushe thugs, on Tuesday 7th June, stated “We have a long successful track record of building of buildings. And part of that is understanding that [the] contractor might be the builder but we are responsible for it. So we have project managers, we have people who monitor their work. But also, we in turn are monitored by people at Health and Safety.”

And further clarified with the additional rider of “We have independent health and safety advisors to regulate the site. But in terms of any health and safety breaches, we take that very seriously. So we don’t just sit back and allow McAleer & Rushe to do as they will. We monitor that very very carefully.”

But the issues with the rear of the development site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) remain such that one must reasonably conclude that this is a case of ‘you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.’

Or maybe it’s the old ostrich story of having one’s head stuck in the sand or having you head stuck so far up somewhere else…. Whatever it is, something is seriously wrong at British Land’s 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) site.

Having raised and written about tangible, real and documented (including video and still image records) safety issues in Baker’s Mews, to the rear of the 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) development, the farce continues.

The words ‘arrant’ and ‘invective’ are polite description of conflict resolution at work in relation to this site.

To respond to site vehicles driving at pedestrians and on the pavement endangering life with barriers to prevent such errant behaviour would normally be commendable. A visual sign that the issue is being taken seriously.

But in this case one wonders whether the barriers are there to protect te errant drivers and not pedestrians. Or is all just for show? To put barriers and cones on the pavement in the manner depicted in the above image is to stick two fingers at health and safety. It is sticking two fingers at those passing through the Mews and, in particular, it is sticking two fingers at the local residents who have to deal with this ‘crap’ every day.

Is it acceptable that a pedestrian has to physically move cones and barriers just to walk down a pavement? Is it too much to expect safe and unimpeded pedestrian access AT ALL TIMES? Is it safe practice to place cones or any tripping danger in the way of pedestrians? Is it acceptable to block the way of wheelchairs and parents with buggies?

Of course, the site work and shareholder value must take precedence. That seems to be the rule of thumb with British Land and McAleer & Rushe.

The only reason the barriers and cones are as they are in the photo is because site traffic continues to mount the pavement and continues to be facilitated by McAleer and Rushe in mounting the pavement.

Maintaining risk to the young, to the old and infirm, to wheelchair-bound, to the blind and to any other users of the pavement appears to be acceptable and preferable to the inconvenience of safe practices.

After all, safety takes time. Time is money and that’s just what McAleer & Rushe don’t seem to have.

Who in their right mind would award such a build and development contract to an effectively bankrupt company who ride roughshod over public safetly – and in a manner that is so blatant? Can this company really be so arrogant that it believes itself above the law and/or that it is not accountable for its actions?

And as to British Land – where is the evidence of “….in terms of any health and safety breaches, we take that very seriously. So we don’t just sit back and allow McAleer and Rushe to do as they will. We monitor that very very carefully.”?

If only Boris Johnston did some cycling around this part of London… we migh see more action than from Westminster City Council who clearly should not allow this site to operate.

Posted in Boris Johnson, British Land, Building Site, Commercial Development, Congestion Charging London, Construction, HSE, London, London Mayor, London Olympics, Mayor of London, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Parking in London, Retail Development, Thug, Thuggery, Tourism London, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dicing with Death – 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) British Land Development


Heavy vehicular traffic in and out of the British Land 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) site, means the roadway access for residents of Bakers Mews and those passing through is very frequently blocked. But it is not just road access that’s affected. Heavy duty site vehicles treat the pavement as a road extension irrespective of the danger thus posed to pedestrians. With regular pedestrian traffic through the street, both by residents and the general public, it seems reasonable that such passageway remains safe and unimpeded by British Land or McAleer and Rushe who are developing the site.

This video shows a typical experience of someone walking through Bakers Mews – or at least trying to. Too often even pedestrian passageway is not possible. The video shows a pedestrian walking into Baker’s Mews from Fitzhardinge Street keeping to the pavement. A site truck sits in Mews on the roadway. As the  pedestrian approaches the truck it starts moving (reversing). It is almost as though the driver is waiting for someome to come along and then deliberatey putting the pedestrian at risk – not unlike certain video games where points are accrued by knocking down pedestrians.

As pedestrian comes closer the truck mounts the pavement and the front of the vehicle swings in towards the wall closing the gap and creating substantial and real hazard for the pedestrian.

Had the pedestrian continued walking at this stage he would have been crushed between truck and wall. A site worker from the British Land and McAleer and Rushe development walks to the front of the truck and obstructs pedestrian without any acknowledgement, and stands in front of the small gap between wall and truck. Instead of ensuring passageway for pedestrian, the gap between the truck and wall is closed up. The pedestrian is left standing with access blocked – which is a regular occurance.

Children frequently use this stretch of pavement. Had a child run down the pavement at the time of this incident, or had run from the residential area of the Mews, the result would have been certain severe injury or death.

Indeed, it is noteable that the pavement surface is also becoming unsafe. Paving stones are smashed and churned. Access covers to telecoms facilities are damaged and the pavement surface is fast becoming a hazard for pedestrians.

Would this 2-14 Baker Street site be better run and better managed if it was now a NAMA (Irish National Asset Management Agency) asset as it rightfully should be?

 

Related articles

 

Posted in 10 Portman Square, 10 Portman Square l W1, 10portmansquare, 2-14 Baker Street, Bank of Ireland, British Land, Building Site, Child Safety, Children, Commercial Development, Construction, HSE, London, London Olympics, McAleer & Rushe, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Retail Development, Thug, Thuggery, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

British Land Partner Resorts to Threats and Subterfuge on Baker Street



gangster

Image by Szili via Flickr

Just down the road from the home of Sherlock Holmes, the creation of a Scottish born Irishman, another (Northern) Irish creation presents a case worthy of the attentions of the aforementioned Holmes.

Worthy of scrutiny, it involves magic (how do you pull money out of an empty hat?), ‘reverse economics’ (how do you buy something and sell it for half the price and still make a profit?), and intrigue. It also lends itself to the types of practices one might associate with certain ‘organisations’ (don’t mention the word ‘Family’) common of 1920’s New York City or Chicago.

2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square), Central London. The once glorious 1950’s building is no more. Pulled down. Demolished. Ashes to ashes and all that. The former home of BDO Stoy Hayward and the infamous, and oft fondly remembered, Irish managed restaurant, ‘School Dinners’. A restaurant perhaps better named  ‘Sinners Paradise’!

But the intrigue starts in 2005 when British Land sold the building to McAleer and Rushe for £57.2m. McAleer and Rushe were overstretching themselves on the deal but ingratiated themselves with a friendly manager from Bank of Ireland. It was Bank of Ireland who performed the magic – money from nothing. Deal done. But not ‘happily ever after’. At least not for Bank of Ireland and not for the Irish State.

Trumpets boomed, the peacock strutted and the London construction-related media exhibited excitement. McAleer and Rushe were on the lips, in the headlines and full steam ahead. But not all was as it seemed. Public image is one thing, but the bottom line is money. And McAleer and Rushe simply did not have that. Not even nearly enough. Eventually the cards started to fall. With the loan heading towards NAMA, speed became the essence. A race.

The finishing line witnessed the ‘reverse economics’. McAleer and Rushe sped towards the line in 2010 to a waiting British Land standing with £29m. McAleer and Rushe won the race and their prize was a forfeit of nearly £30m. 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) going back to the 2005 seller for half the price – and despite Central London’s commercial property market largely remaining unaffected by valuation woes elsewhere.

And then the intrigue. The Bank of Ireland loan goes to NAMA becoming an Irish State asset. McAleer and Rushe did more than forfeit the £30m. There was a second prize – but one that took McAleer and Rushe outside the NAMA debt. In a move that many a poker player might admire, McAleer and Rushe were now a ‘partner’ of British Land and would share the profits of the development of 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square). But it did not stop there. There was a third prize. With declared net assets of just £5m, losses of £11m and borrowings of £70m in 2010, McAleer and Rushe were also awarded the contract to develop the site. By all accounts a firm who were technically bankrupt were handed the cream on the cake as well as a large slice of the cake.

Might there be even a fourth or a fifth prize? How many rabbits can be pulled from a single hat? Yes, there was, in fact, a fourth prize. This one went to the directors of McAleer and Rushe. Money. Lots of it, in fact – with one director gaining over £100,000 in his take home package. Despite their winnings and the fact that the 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) race represents the single best deal in McAleer and Rushe’s history – the company’s annual report, filed in March 2011, fails to acknowledge the ‘race’ and accompanying benefits among their ‘Principal Activities’.

Demonstrating yet more magic, intrigue and ‘reverse economics’, despite declaring losses of over £11m, turnover down 45% over the previous year, £51m of term loans and £10m of overdrafts repayable on demand, the directors lay claim to all being rosy in the garden with the statement “.…the construction activities continue profitably”. Not surprisingly, the directors go on to declare that analysis of key performance indicators are not necessary! Not surprisingly too is that KPMG, the auditors assert “significant doubt on the ability of the group to continue as a going concern.”

And all of this is likely to be relevant to recent events at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square). Demolition started in January 2011. Despite Westminster’s widely acclaimed ‘Westminster Considerate Builders Scheme’ the demolition of the original building appears to have been done without proper compliance to both the relevant standards and to regulatory requirements including Health and Safety. It is noteworthy that in the annual accounts filed by McAleer and Rushe in March 2011 the directors set out their obligations on Health and Safety as pertaining only to their staff and not the Public.

The 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square) site, during the major part of the demolition, has not been cordoned off or secured. The site has been freely accessible to members of the public including young children. Despite the substantial size of the site, and multiple demolition equipment in use – dust and particulate control has been one man with a garden hose – “because if the site becomes soggy or inundated with water it will become muddy”, according to one person working on the site.

Neighbours have been complaining since work began of excessive noise, dust and vibrations. Concerns on asbestos have not been responded to. Residents have regularly been prevented access to their homes – or have been unable to exit from them. Children living in the vicinity of the site have been put at risk. The excavated site has been unguarded and there is a noticeable lack of staff on site. Local residents have not been included in planning around the works, assurances on undertakings have not been kept to, and the impact on quality of life and ‘quiet enjoyment’ remains substantial for those affected.

Worryingly, McAleer and Rushe appear to believe that their actions should be by their determination only – with scant regard for official bodies and no regard for members of the public.

‘Promises are made to be broken’ seems to be the order of the day. Written and verbal assurances to local residents about things as basic as unimpeded and safe access to homes, site security and dangerous practices have not materialised in practice.

On the 26th of May one resident of Baker’s Mews was prevented access to his home in his car by a substantial sized trailered truck to the front and then additionally blocked by other heavy duty trucks belonging to the site from behind. Unable to move forward to access his home and unable, for a time, to reverse out of the street he was subject to threats and intimidation by the site staff including direct employees of McAleer and Rushe. This included threats against property and threats of Police action. And this to someone being physically prevented from accessing his home. McAleer and Rushe were solely the ones at fault. See video.

The tenant is now considering legal action against both McAleer and Rushe and against British Land as the site owner. The threats and the nature of the incident on the 26th May were such that the family of the resident were not comfortable in attempting to gain access to their home that day – and instead had to spend several hours at a nearby hotel until such time as the site staff including the McAleer and Rushe employees were off site for the day.

Westminster’s assessment of the incident was starkly on the side of the resident and states that it “ultimately agrees” with the resident “that he should be able to access his property via the available public highway in Baker’s Mews at all times.” The Westminster City Council Officer goes on to demand that McAleer and Rushe “ensure that the City Council does not have to take further action to ensure free access to the public highway in Baker’s Mews is maintained.”

Despite this, British Land prefer to side with McAleer and Rushe rather than deal with the seriousness of the incident. In a thumbs up for thuggery and threats, British Land says in an email of Friday 27th May to the affected resident, “we are unable to establish definitively fault on the part of the contractor”. The inference seems to be that British Land prefer to protect an effectively bankrupt company cutting corners at public risk than to act reasonably towards the interests of those affected daily by the site at 2-14 Baker Street (10 Portman Square).

And so the saga continues. Perhaps the optimal solution and best for the safety for the public and residents adjacent to the site will be that the banks call in the loans and McAleer and Rushe be replaced by a party that complies with the law in every respect, the requirements of the Prevention of Harassment Act and with the obligations of Westminster’s Considerate Builders Scheme. Maybe with the ‘right’ partner British Land might start behaving as a responsible company again.

Given that there is, in fact, no real Sherlock Holmes, perhaps British Land might like to appoint their own ‘Holmes’ or even a ‘Watson’ to resolve this in a proper and fitting manner.

For imagery related to this press release please visit:

www.youtube.com/user/W1Resident  

Legal Statement Regarding This Article

This article makes no assertion of illegal behaviour or wrongdoing by British Land or McAleer and Rushe in respect to the sale of 2-14 Baker Street in 2005 and in 2010. The information relied upon in this statement is available in the public domain including articles in the British media, online blogs, the respective websites of British Land and McAleer and Rushe as well as the financial information and remarks contained in the McAleer and Rushe annual report published in March 2011. Information relating to the actions and activities of McAleer and Rushe in respect to the site at 2-14 Baker Street are supported by video and photographic records and recordings and reflect the experience of people and persons directly affected by the actions of that company, its agents and employees.

Posted in British Land, Building Site, Commercial Development, Construction, HSE, London, McAleer and Rushe, Mob, NAMA, Retail Development, Thug, Thuggery, Uncategorized, West End, Westminster, Westminster City Council | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments