Kensington Labour ‘Mansion Tax’ comment in The Standard

Letter in Standard 25.6.1424.6.14 (letter published in The Standard, left)

Councillor Emma Dent Coad Leader of Opposition Labour Group says:

‘Kensington and Chelsea is an exceptional borough in many ways, and the way that property prices have rocketed has little to do with their intrinsic value, and more to do with a global poker game for the super-rich; at some point this game will fold and the players will move on.

‘The Council Tax system as it currently functions is anachronistic, and works as yet another effective subsidy to landlords. This is in addition to capital gains tax relief, lack of property tax, and the ease of obtaining buy to let mortgages at preferential rates based on interest only. In most other European countries the owner pays the tax, not the beleaguered rental occupier; there is a logic to this as it is the owner who profits long-term.

‘The system currently being considered by Ed Balls would have unintended consequences in Kensington and Chelsea, and we have many questions and concerns that we have already made public. We have 12,000 homes worth over £2m in the borough, and 7,000 of those have been in the same ownership since 1999; some of these are families, retired people, or others on fixed incomes. The prospect of a Mansion Tax as currently envisaged would drive out these families and long-term residents, whether owners or renters, who tell us ‘it’s my borough too’.

‘Our counter-proposal would consider a revaluation of property, and setting more Council Tax bands, so some would pay less, and others more. We are working on the detail of this, while we wait for more detail on how a proposed Mansion Tax would work.

‘It cannot be right that the Sultan of Brunei pays just £10/week more for his 16-bed mansion than our Mrs Braithwaite in North Kensington for her three-bedroom Council home.’

 

 

 

 

Kensington Labour Group: ready for action

11.6.14 036 - CopyLeft to right, back row, Harrison Littler, Bevan Powell, Robert Atkinson, Andrew Lomas, Robert Thompson, Mohammed Bakhtiar. Middle row, Emma Dent Coad, Monica Press, Pat Mason, Beinazir Lasharie. Front row, Pat Healy, Judith Blakeman. 

Kensington Labour is delighted to present its new team of Councillors, who made their first appearance at the RBKC Council AGM on 11 June, where former Whip Robert Atkinson was created Deputy Mayor.

Our senior Leadership team is looking forward to working as one with our new members, who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge into the Labour Group. All our hard work during the year-long election campaign has paid off, with a larger group bringing new energy and commitment.

11.6.14 030 - CopyLeft to right: Cllr Pat Mason, Labour Group Chair and Chair of Cabinet and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Emma Dent Coad, Labour Group Leader, Cllr Andrew Lomas, Deputy Leader, and Cllr Judith Blakeman, Chief Whip.

New Labour Group Leader Emma Dent Coad said: ‘I am very excited to be working with a group that we worked so hard to put together, so that we can better serve our residents. Through our time-consuming committee work, liaising with community groups, casework and campaigning, we will always do our best for our constituents. We never forget, we work for you.’

IMPRESSIVE SWINGS TO LABOUR IN RBKC

#wearekensington

Kensington and Chelsea Labour Group celebrated massive swings in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea local elections, with a magnificent 12 contested Council seats won for Labour in the Tory-run borough.

Thursday’s wins increase the size of the Labour Group by an impressive 50%, with the high turnout in Labour wards and near annihilation of the Liberal Democrats giving exciting results in ‘the richest borough in Britain’.

Colville Ward has three new Labour councillors – Harrison Littler, Andrew Lomas and Monica Press. Labour won the ward with a 23% swing from LibDem to Labour. Labour’s share of the vote rose to 42%, leaving the LibDems with a mere 19% and the Tories just 25%.

In Golborne Ward, councillors Emma Dent Coad and Pat Mason are joined by Bevan Powell. Labour increased its share of the vote to 73%, taking 3 out of every 4 votes cast. The Conservative vote reduced to just 15%, leaving the LibDems with a mere 4%.

In Notting Dale Ward, councillors Robert Atkinson and Judith Blakeman are joined by Beinazir Lasharie. Labour’s vote in the new ward, named to celebrate the historic Notting Dale area, increased to 75%, taking 3 out of every 4 votes cast. The Conservative vote reduced to just 25%.

Dalgarno Ward councillor Pat Healy is joined by Robert Thompson. In this new ward, Labour took 2 out of every 3 votes and achieved 63% of votes cast. The Conservative vote reduced to 21%, with the LibDems on a mere 7%.

In the new Conservative target ward of St Helen’s, Labour councillor Mohammed Bakhtiar was elected, the first London councillor to hail originally from southern Kurdistan. Labour took a 46% share of all votes cast.

In other wards, an improved Labour vote demonstrated strong dissatisfaction with the Conservative leadership of the Council. In Chelsea Riverside, which almost fell to Labour in a 2011 by-election, the Labour vote went up to 32%.

In other Tory held wards, Labour’s share of the vote was also enticingly strengthened, showing that previous voter apathy is fading. And the three Chelsea Independents gave a nasty fright to Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, with an impressive campaign that enthused local residents, many of whom had never voted before.

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Under Proportional Representation, which the next Labour government plans to introduce into local government, the 2014 election votes would have produced a Council of 28 Conservatives, 15 Labour, 6 LibDems, 1 Green and 1 Chelsea Independent. Taking out the non-political Tory Mayor, this would leave a Tory majority of 5, introducing balance, good sense and good management to ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

__________

In the face of popular dissatisfaction with politicians, national and local, Kensington and Chelsea Labour commit to maintain their “Councillor’s Contract”, ensuring high standards and a first class service from all Labour councillors. Key undertakings on the Contract require Labour councillors to:

  • Continue with regular surgeries for residents of all Labour wards and publicise them widely
  • Deal as speedily and efficiently as possible with letters, emails and phone calls from residents
  • Consult with residents and local groups on planning and other key community issues
  • Keep residents in touch through regular newsletters
  • Attend residents’ association, amenity societies and other meetings regularly, listening to local groups so that residents have more say and control of their local area
  • Continue to campaign and knock on doors throughout the year to keep in touch with local people.

Labour Group Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman said:  ‘This was a fantastic team effort and we are truly proud of all our colleagues who worked so hard to achieve this exciting result.’

 

Kensington Labour Manifesto: we’re on your side

LABOUR’S MANIFESTO FOR KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA 2014-2018

Kensington and Chelsea is a great place to live and work: its diverse communities and iconic neighbourhoods are rightly celebrated. However, regrettable policies pursued by local Conservatives and the Coalition Government are putting these at risk as cuts and the cost of living crisis forces more and more people on low and moderate incomes out of the borough.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in the country. A whole host of indicators show that from health outcomes to educational attainment, income to life expectancy, overcrowded homes to child poverty, the poorer members of our borough are severely disadvantaged. Labour in Kensington and Chelsea is committed to conserving and promoting our diverse and mixed neighbourhoods, where rich and poor live together in unity and where no one’s background determines their future.

Labour will challenge all attempts to turn this borough into a ghost town of empty mega-mansions owned by super-rich foreign investors. It will fight for measures to address the shameful inequality that Kensington and Chelsea Conservatives have presided over, amassing huge reserves by overcharging on Council Tax while cutting spending on essential services.

Labour is the voice for fairness in the borough and, with more councillors elected on Thursday 22 May, that voice will be even louder.

Promoting good homes for all by

  • Purchasing Kensal Gasworks site for mixed housing that includes social rented and other genuinely affordable homes
  • Improving care homes and building more sheltered housing for older people
  • Working  with Hammersmith and Fulham Labour to revoke planning permission for the Earl’s Court mega-developments and reviewing affordable housing provision
  • Ensuring developers include a full quota of  50% of homes for social rent in all major development schemes
  • Regulating private sector rents and letting agencies
  • Restoring secure tenancies for those in social rented accommodation
  • Maintaining Discretionary Housing Payments indefinitely to support residents hit by the Bedroom Tax.

Taking charge of local planning by

  • Ensuring the Mayor of London works with us to restrict basement development in his London Plan
  • Banning ‘buy to leave’ housing schemes
  • Ending the sale and use of public land for luxury homes
  • Removing illuminated advertisements from along the Westway and West London railway line.

Creating a child-friendly borough by

  • Topping up Labour’s national commitment of 25 hours free child care to 30 hours
  • Restoring free swimming for children
  • Establishing a school uniform fund for parents facing hardship
  • Setting up a Youth Fund to support young people through education, training and apprenticeships
  • Developing the Barlby Road site for a new through school to meet current and future demand for secondary school places.

Improving transport and the environment by

  • Promoting a station at Westway on the West London railway line
  • Building a two-way tram link between North Kensington and HS2/Crossrail at Old Oak Common
  • Introducing a 20 mph speed limit on all roads maintained by the Council
  • Improving road safety and the cycling experience
  • Working with the Mayor of London to cut dangerous levels of air pollution
  • Restoring the cuts to street cleaning and refuse collection
  • Replacing the Mayoral cars with environmentally friendly vehicles.

Enhancing employment and regeneration by

  • Supporting local shopkeepers, not betting shops and cheap food take-aways
  • Promoting our local shopping centres
  • Regularising street market refuse collection fees
  • Paying at least the London Living Wage to all Council staff and contractors.

Improving health and social care by

  • Developing new community health and social care facilities in North Kensington
  • Providing more places of safety for residents undergoing mental health crises
  • Addressing the re-emergence of rickets in the borough
  • Providing a new health and social care facility for older people to replace EPICS
  • Restoring free swimming for the Over 60s.

Promoting community safety by

  • Bringing more PCSOs and PCs back onto the streets to protect residents, especially young people, from crime
  • Tackling anti-social behaviour, street drinking and dangerous dogs
  • Bringing local residents and businesses together to form effective Safer Neighbourhood Panels

Supporting residents by

  • Giving Canalside House to the voluntary sector as a local headquarters
  • Providing additional funding for organisations assisting residents facing hardship
  • Funding the borough’s food banks.

Improving access to arts and leisure by

  • Axing expenditure on projects like Opera Holland Park, Leighton House and Stafford Terrace
  • Re-focusing spend on arts programmes for grassroots events and young people’s and children’s projects
  • Providing more sporting and leisure activities for local teenagers
  • Ensuring charges in our new leisure centres are truly affordable.

Making local government finance fairer by

  • Campaigning for an extension of Council Tax banding so that rich homeowners pay their full share for Council services
  • Increasing the Council Tax charged on all properties empty for more than six months

 

OUTRAGE AS COUNCIL ‘OVERCHARGES MARKETS BY £1.2m’ – AGAIN

Portobello and Golborne Market Traders Overcharged for Waste Collection AGAIN!


Cllr Pat Mason in Portobello Market 2Labour Councillors Call for an Urgent Council investigation

It’s only five years since the Council had to repay £750,000 for overcharged market waste collections. Now, the Portobello & Golborne Management Committee are claiming that market traders have been overcharged by a whopping £1.2 million for the collection of market traders waste over several years.

North Kensington Labour Councillors have today demanded that the Council carries out an urgent investigation into why the charging regime for Portobello and Golborne Road Market has gone so disastrously wrong for a second time, and into the conduct of the Council officers who the market committee claim have failed to act on their legitimate claims over a long period of time.

The Labour Group’s market spokesperson, Cllr Pat Mason said, “It’s utterly staggering that the Council could have robbed our market traders for a second time in five years, and especially now when they need every penny to survive. I have called for an urgent Council investigationto find out what has happened, who is responsible, and then heads should definitely roll”.

For more information: contact Cllr Pat Mason: 07805 922 239

TONY BENN 1925-2014

100_1043 - Copy

COUNCILLOR PAT MASON:

I often said to Tony he was my political father, and he was. He thought this was really funny. But he really inspired young activists like me to take up the causes of the voiceless people in our communities who were being starved, pauperised, racially-abused or dumped on the scrapheap at 16. And from there, I got involved in asking why the US and UK got involved so often in militarily and economically occupying foreign lands, and in overthrowing democratically-elected government’s in countries simply because they wouldn’t do what they were told.

I first met Tony when he spoke at public meetings in North Kensington supporting the 1984-85 Miners Strike, and on the many National Union of Mineworkers London demonstrations and Rallies where he gave fiery speeches. I asked him to come to the protest outside St CharlesHospital in 1991 to stop Mrs Thatcher’s regime from closing the Accident & Emergency department. He addressed the large crowd on a megaphone.

Tony supported the Borough Anti Poll Tax campaign that regularly picketed West London Magistrate Court when people were prosecuted for not paying. 15 million in the UK refused or couldn’t afford to pay, causing Mrs Thatcher to be booted out of office by her own Party in 1990. I asked Tony (a former Labour Government Postmaster General) to join the campaign against the closure of Westbourne Grove Sorting Office in 2004, and he did.

I marched with Tony on many demonstrations and spoke at meetings with him to support Freedom for Palestine, so I asked him to be president of K&C Friends of Palestine, and he said yes. He was utterly enraged when the BBC refused to broadcast the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Appeal for Gaza in 2008 when Israeli bombing killed 1400 civilians there because they said it would be too political.

He supported the campaign against the Council’s closure of the Edenham Old People’s Home in Golborne Ward in 2009, and gate-crashed Edenham with an ITN camera crew with Pat and Emma when the Council refused us entry. He also supported “1958 Remembered”, the Borough-wide project in 2008/9 to remember the Notting Hill race riots, the racist murder of Kelso Cochrane in Golborne in 1959, and to celebrate the subsequent 50 years of good community relations. He did a packed-out “Evening with Tony Benn” at Inn on the Green under the Westway.

Tony was a great man who inspired me to believe that you could change the lives of the poor and most vulnerable people in our communities and internationally if you were prepared to give them a voice and fight for change against a heartless, greedy and violent capitalist minority. He was my political father and I intend to continue to follow his example.

COUNCILLOR EMMA DENT COAD:

Golborne Councillors asked Tony to attend a meeting at Edenham Residential Care Home in 2007, as the Council planned to move out residents and demolish it (which they succeeded in doing). We had an ITN crew coming in with cameras at noon and invited him to attend and speak for a piece on the news. Tony arrived an hour early to speak to the residents, taking his time with everyone, even those with dementia, and their families.  Here he is speaking to the residents’ spokesperson, Reuben Halsey. Everyone was very touched by his visit. A Council officer appeared and demanded we leave the premises – but we had been invited by residents and it was not for an officer to demand we leave. Tony thanked the officer firmly for his instruction, saying “You can tell your superiors you have given the instruction, which we intend to disobey”. It was a fine moment for democracy and free speech.

Emma and Pat with Tony Benn - Copy

JONATHAN BELLINI:

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony when I was at school taking my A levels in the 70s. He inspired me and gave me the determination to study politics at uni. I subsequently met him at conventions and talks. He was one of the best post-war politicians, and gave courage to his convictions. He was honest, brave and dedicated to the common purpose and goodwill of all.

If we are able to prove our mettle like Tony, and rise above the duplicity and muck-raking we are witnessing, then our homage to him will be applauded.

TRIBUTES, MEMORIES AND COMMENTS ON THE LOSS OF A TRUE FRIEND OF KENSINGTON TO FOLLOW, PLEASE SEND TO kensingtonlabour@gmail.com

Local legend Tony Benn at the picket

 

COUNCILLOR PAT HEALY:

(photo below, Pat chairing NUJ Branch with TB as speaker) 

Pat & Tony Benn_1

I first met Tony when I was assigned by The Times to cover his support for Labour candidates in marginal wards in the second 1974 General Election. He was at first very suspicious, but gradually came to trust me as a journalist and we became friends. He always took credit for introducing me to Tom Litterick, one of the successful candidates in that election, who became my partner. He was also  very  supportive during the year long lock out of the Times and Sunday Times in 1978 and later supported my campaign in Cremorne in 2006. He was an inspiration to me and many others and will be sorely missed.

CAROLINE ELLIS:
I remember talking to Tony at a time when Labour members, particularly those who had been part of the struggle to return a Labour Government were then questioning the direction of the party. I was seriously thinking of leaving the party but Tony said while they allow you to be a member, you must be a member. So it is thanks to Tony that I am still a card carrying member!
He will be remembered.

END OF TERM REPORT

 

The ten posts highlighting different areas of inequality in K&C were posted one per day in the run-up to the Council Budget-setting meeting on 5 March 2014. The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

The statements are based on evidence, not dogma or the Daily Mail. Links to sources can be found below.

Links:

Ward profiles

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/communityandlocallife/2011censusoutcomes.aspx

Overcrowding

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/Families_housing.pdf

Neighbourhood statistics

http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/

Income inequality

http://www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk/indicators/topics/inequality/pay-inequalities-within-london/

Minimum Income Standard

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/crsp/mis/

http://www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk/key-facts/overview-of-london-boroughs/

Recipients of Pension Credit

http://www.data.london.gov.uk