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Xtra Diary: South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) summer garden party a great success

15 July, 2011

Something to celebrate Shock as ‘eyesore’ wall is finally restored

THIS year’s South East Bayswater Residents’ Association (SEBRA) summer garden party in Cleveland Square (pictured above) was regarded as a great success by all who attended – or at least all those who Diary chatted to.

Can the same be said of Westminster Council’s approach to planning in Bayswater? The latest issue of SEBRA’s quarterly newsletter is, perhaps surprisingly, fairly complimentary about various aspects of City Hall’s strategy in the locale. 

It states: “It is with disbelief that we report that the saga of the dilapidated wall between Gloucester Gardens and Bishop’s Bridge Road is almost over! We have been needling away about this eyesore for years now, and can hardly believe that CityWest Homes, an offshoot of Westminster City Council, has at last done something about it; the works to restore it are nearly complete… the work is nearly finished as we go to press – maybe we will celebrate the finished job by featuring a photograph of it on the front cover of our next issue.”


City Hall camera shyness era over!

ALL hail a new dawn! 

Westminster Council is poised to scrap rules barring people from filming public meetings, a press release fired through to Diary from City Hall proudly proclaimed this week. 

“Citizen journalists” will now be allowed to use video cameras to record council committee meetings. 

How very civilised. The dark days already seem like another era, yet it was just six months ago that a reporter – no citizen journo but a bona fide West End Extra hack – was prevented from taking photos inside City Hall by an aggressive security guard. 

Recording equipment was removed from members of the public wearing high-vis jackets – sparking predictable comparisons with Soviet-era Eastern Europe.

The council meeting was to do with parking policy and the members of the public were bikers aligned with anti-motorcycle parking fees splinter group No To Mob, one of whom described the council’s new, friendlier attitude towards filming as “a major victory” for their campaign.


Couldn’t hack being Potter any longer?

AMID the turmoil in media circles as the phone-hacking scandal spins into ever-darker realms, what of former News of the World 

Harry Potter correspondent Charles Begley? 

Until very recently, he was Westminster Council’s media relations manager, and earlier this month was snapped up by top property marketing firm TTA Group.

According to an article published in 2002, Mr Begley, then 29, was summoned into then editor Rebekah Brooks’ office on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, and chastised for not being “in character”.

The reporter was requested to turn up for the following day’s editorial conference in full Harry Potter garb. 

According to tapes of phone calls between Begley and NotW executives, he subsequently asked his superiors: “Given the enormity of events in America, will the editor still need me dressed up as Harry Potter for conference?”

Begley was again advised to appear as the young wizard, but apparently failed to do  so as he was signed off work by his doctor for stress. 

This story, which first appeared in the Telegraph, went viral on the internet this week. 

“Pottergate” might be seen as a kind of warm-up before the main act in the NotW drama several years later.


• COMICS are for kids, right? Well, not since the innocent heyday of Bunty and the Beano, unfortunately. 

The craze for putting the strip into cartoon strip is almost passé. Jeff Koons is a dispenser extraordinaire of erotic pop art, and, as for Japanese Manga comics, many belong firmly on the top shelf. The works of Malcom Poynter are not in the same league, but they are not without adult elements. 

Buxom blondes in swimwear appear in several of the works on show at the artist’s new exhibition, Puns and Needles, at the 

Coningsby Gallery in Fitzrovia. As well as paintings and drawings, Poynter produces 3D constructions and is a fan of embroidery.

Puns and Needles is at The Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, W1, from July 18-30. 020 7636 7478.

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