Jan 16 2012

Westminster “Nightlife Tax” Update

As many of you will already know, our fight against Westminster Council‘s proposed changes to weekend and evening parking charges in our West End (recently dubbed the Nightlife Tax by the press) has had it’s greatest boost in the resignation of the Council leader Colin Barrow. It was Mr Barrow who chose to ignore massive opposition from the public, local businesses and other ministers and push ahead with the changes which would have cost night workers and theatre-goers £4.80 an hour to park during the evening and killed the West End.

In fact, a recent article in the Evening Standard suggests that the opposition went even higher, with David Cameron poised to finally voice his own opposition before it was postponed just before Christmas. Boris Johnson has opposed the scheme from the outset, having warned Barrow that the proposals would come up against strong opposition when he first presented them two years ago.

I believe the official line is still that the charges will be postponed until after the Olympics. But with Council elections due in May and the scale of discontent stirred up by Mr Barrow, it is highly unlikely that his nonsensical proposals will ever see the light of day. Local Conservative MP Mark Field agrees, stating:

Given the furore, given the strength of the campaign by the Evening Standard, I would be very surprised if Colin’s successor runs along with this.

Colin Barrow still maintains that his departure was nothing to do with the Westminster parking debacle but due to personal reasons. With a plethora of Cabinet ministers voicing their opposition including Transport Secretary Justine Greening, Lords Leader Lord Strathclyde, transport minister Norman Baker and the PM’s business adviser Lord Young; as well as the majority of local businessmen, I find this highly unlikely. Hopefully now we have seen the last of these preposterous plans.

Meanwhile, Westminster Council have attracted fresh controversy by removing almost 5 miles of single yellow lines in the area and converting them to double yellow lines. This happened on the 9th January, mainly in Mayfair, Fitzrovia and Marylebone. Seemingly whilst nobody was paying attention. Presumably they are going to start doing this around the Soho area soon, as they have already proved they can get away with it. Restaurateur Richard Caring and shadow London minister Tessa Jowell have been leading the opposition to the move which campaigners say will lose 1191 free weekend and evening spaces in the West End. Converting to double yellow lines will essentially serve the same purpose as extending the charging hours as workers and patrons will be forced to pay for parking with no free alternative. This backdoor approach is simply not acceptable.

So with the departure of Colin Barrow, you would presume our West End is safe for now. We will all need to keep a close eye on Westminster Council and their sneaky policies and hope that Barrow’s successor has a more realistic and democratic view of how the West End works.

If you are interested in keeping up to date with news regarding this subject, I can highly recommend the We are against Westminster City Council new parking regulations Facebook page. They post regular links to news articles and interviews with those concerned. Well worth a look.

I will stop ranting about this soon and get back to the music bloggery very soon folks! Hopefully our voices have finally been heard and we can get back to the important stuff (like actually being creative!) now we have one less person in a place of authority trying to wreck our livelihoods…

Until next time…

Dec 24 2011

Quick Pre-Christmas End of Year Roundup!

Good evening folks,

Thought I’d sneak in a quick blog post before Christmas is officially upon us. It’s also my first attempt at writing the blog using the WordPress iPad app(lication). It’ll be interesting to see what a hash I make of the formatting if nothing else. I apologise in advance if it comes out looking like a dog’s dinner and littered with typos.

I’m sitting here watching the excellent Victor Wooten Groove Workshop DVD which arrived this morning. Yes indeed folks, I am a proper bass geek.

It’s been a fantastic year. The quiet first few months gave me time to record my second solo album The Knowledge of Things To Come (and the 5-track Rejectamenta EP)and put it out via Bandcamp and CD Baby. When things get busy there just isn’t enough time to concentrate on my own music so this year I’ve learnt to embrace the occasional ‘gig drought’ and make the most of my time…


As well as touring with Clare Teal and Lea DeLaria I’ve been lucky enough to play for two shows at the National Theatre this year. In the Spring I was playing the Double Feature in the Paintframe with Ben, Phil and Mark from the Duke Special band. We had a great time and it was amazing to play in such a special venue. I wrote a whole post on the Double Feature earlier this year. Obviously, the Paintframe theatre isn’t there anymore (they started tearing it down straight after our last show) but I reckon we’ll be hearing from the band sometime next year. Watch this space…


A couple of months after finishing the Double Feature I was called back to the National for Dominic Cooke’s production of The Comedy of Errors, which opened in November. We’re currently right in middle of our run of over 80 shows in the Olivier (back in on Boxing Day!). We had some fantastic reviews and he shows are selling out so if you’re gonna come; book your tickets sooner rather than later folks…


Aside from playing and writing I also got quite involved with the fight against Westminster Council’s plans for evening and weekend parking charges. I had conversations with the Musicians Union and the BBC. I wrote about it extensively on my site and Twitter. I even spent one rather wet night in the street outside Westminster City Hall with a load of musicians and bikers (!) handing out leaflets. I have never done that before…


Well, having postponed the charges until January (supposedly so as not to ruin Christmas) Westminster Council has now decided to wait until after the Olympics to implement their ridiculous plans. Although apparently there are Council elections in May so hopefully we’ll have seen the last of them by then. Why anyone would vote Colin Barrow back in after this is beyond me. I shall keep you posted…

So I accidentally bought two new basses this year. First was the Fender 60th Anniversary Precision bass which has already seen plenty of action this year. About a month ago after much searching I bought a Breedlove acoustic bass. Having been playing an ABG for The Comedy of Errors I’ve gotten used to idea and actually really started appreciating he sound (if not the action!). So I’ve decided to record a new solo record next year entirely on acoustic and was therefore forced to buy one. Honestly. There was no other option. This afternoon I put the Breedlove through the looping rig to see how it recorded. This is the first demo, a quick improvisation on the acoustic…

Breedlove Acoustic Demo #1 by simonlittlebass

Well that was a long post. It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to 2012 and all the exciting new projects that are coming up. Little Alex and Triage are both set to be doing all kinds of good things next year. And I’ll eventually have another solo record for you. You lucky things…

Merry Christmas everybody and have a happy new year!


Oct 10 2011

Triage, Theatre & Westminster Parking Update

Hello folks,

Thought I’d drop a quick post updating you on some recent developments and news.

Firstly my new trio with Lea DeLaria and Janette Mason Triage had it’s first gig last Friday at the Albert Hall’s Elgar Room. This is a brand new project for which we are developing a lot of new material. We tried out quite a few new arrangements on Friday, as well as some of the tunes from our long running Wall To Wall residency at the Pizza Express Jazz Club (Incidentally, we’ll be back at the Pizza on November 15th as part of the London Jazz Festival). The whamola even got it’s first outing in a stomping version of Straight No Chaser. As is to be expected I have duly started a Facebook page and a Twitter account which you can all subscribe to in order to keep up to date with all the news. Needless to say, we’re all very excited…

In other news, I had my first movement session this morning with the cast of A Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre. I am really looking forward to this production and it promises to be something really very special. The cast are a fantastic bunch of people and the band will feature Merlin Shepherd on reeds and the fabulous Ian ‘Squeezy’ Watson (my Divine Comedy colleague) on the accordion. There is an extensive period of rehearsal just starting now and the show opens for previews in November.

Now a little update on my Westminster Parking rant. The response to the post has been incredible. The level of outrage at the proposals really doesn’t surprise me. A great deal of people still have no idea that these changes are still going through; or that they are planned at all. It is therefore very urgent that we spread the news wherever possible; especially amongst the musicians and night workers in the West End that will be the most affected.

The petition against the proposals is still going over at GoPetitions; currently with 4548 signatures. This is still the petition that the Musician’s Union are directing it’s members towards. You can find it at


Last week I was contacted by somebody from BBC Inside Out London. I will hopefully be doing an interview for the program sometime over the next few weeks detailing the impact the proposed changes would have on musicians working in the West End. In the meantime, there is a demonstration outside Westminster City Hall this Wednesday at 6pm organized by the Musician’s Union in conjunction with other night worker organisations. I urge all musicians who regularly work in the West End to attend; whether or not they personally have to drive. Your bass players, drummers and keyboard players need you too!! And all the music lovers who don’t want to see a lot of their West End venues struggle. Here’s the flyer from the MU for those of you interested in attending:

I’ll keep you posted on the BBC program. We only have until December 1st, so there really is not a great deal of time to make a difference.

Until next time…