Tag Archives: Kensington and Chelsea

TOP TEN TORY FAILS #9 – from ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’

 

Every day between 20 Feb and 5 March, when they will announce their alternative Budget, Kensington Labour Group will announce an area of extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

#9, 4.3.14,sportsandactivitiesTues 4 March

9. SPORTS/ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

RBKC is blessed with parks and green space, tennis courts and other sporting facilities. However, over the years these have been ‘monetised’, with former kickabout spaces developed or transformed to ‘booking only’.

Funding for primary school sports activities has been decimated, and free swimming for children (and over 60s) stopped.

Physical activity for children 2009/11 reduced from 7939 to 6947

In the same period, obesity in Year 6 students has nearly doubled

Number of homeless children 0-18 in B&B/temporary accommodation estimated to be 1,800; two-thirds are housed out of the borough, far from school and other sporting activities.

TOP TEN TORY FAILURES #5 – from ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’

Every day between 20 Feb and 5 March, when they will announce their alternative Budget, Kensington Labour Group will announce an area of extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

 

#5, 26.2.14 income, LLWopera (2)Weds 26 Feb

5. INCOME INEQUALITY

The median income in Kensington and Chelsea is now £101,600, the highest in the country; this is still not enough to buy a home at the average cost of £1,178,000. However the mean average income is £36,000, and one-third of all workers, the majority in North Kensington earn below £20,000.

World’s End estate, income inequality = worst (£13,125 equivalent of a year at minimum wage)

Hobury Street, Stanley ward = best (cc£100,000)

Cross King’s Road in this area and you go from the best to the worst income in London.

The Council has refused to pay its own low-paid workers London Living Wage of £8.80, or to insist its contractors pay the same, stating it would cost £1m; this is nearly equal to the sum the Council underwrites for the losses of running Opera Holland Park.

TOP TEN TORY FAILURES #1- from ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’

Every day between 20 Feb and 5 March, when they will announce their alternative Budget, Kensington Labour Group will announce an area of extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

toryfail1childpovertyThursday 20 Feb

1. CHILD POVERTY

The London average for child poverty is 28%. Kensington and Chelsea, the richest borough in Europe, nonetheless comes in with 27%. This is an average, including:

Queen’s Gate – just 2.8%

Henry Dickens Court, Norland – a disgraceful 57.6% (worse than the Gorbals in Glasgow, at 49.7%)

The Child Poverty Action Group states that the 4,467 children living in poverty in the borough cost the economy £49m/year, that’s £10,000/child/year.

Child poverty, ‘Made in Chelsea’

In one part of Chelsea, if you cross the road the incidence of child poverty increases ten times. Where is it? You’ll be very surprised!

VICTORY FOR MARKET AS BT PLANS ATM PHONE KIOSKS

British Telecom are planning to open new telephone kiosk ATMs on Portobello and Golborne Road Market.

Following the closure of the HSBC Bank and their ATMs in Portobello Road last December that was bitterly opposed by Councillors, market traders, shops and local residents, North Kensington Labour Councillors worked hard to have the lost ATMs replaced. Colville Councillor, Dez O’Neill, has worked with HSBC, the Council and several local property owners to find alternative ATM sites. And Golborne Councillor Pat Mason contacted other banks and providers including British Telecom who operate the public telephone boxes on our streets.

The HSBC ATMs were used every weekend by thousands of visitors to the Portobello and Golborne Market. These visitors often needed cash for small sales it was not financially viable for traders to make by credit card. And Golborne Road visitors and traders have long complained that there is no bank and ATM facility there.

This week, British Telecom made planning applications to RBKC to replace their existing telephone boxes at Talbot Road and Golborne Road with new models that will include an ATM service.

Colville Councillor Dez O’Neill said, “This is welcome news since cash machines assist visitors to spend their money on Portobello and Golborne Market, and are very important for the local economy”.

Golborne Councillor Pat Mason said, “Visitors now have less money to spend because of the recession, and if putting these new ATMs on the market helps them to spend more, then that will be a good thing”.

14.5.12

‘A LIGHT TOUCH WILL NOT PROTECT OUR CHILDREN’

Labour Opposition Group appalled at Council decision not to tighten standards regime in wake of second child pornography case

After a bad-tempered Council meeting on 18 April,  Labour opposition councillors have expressed their disgust and shame at the ruling Conservative group’s decision to dilute further the Council’s standards regime rather than introduce additional protections proposed by Labour. Changes to the standards regime are required as from 1 July under the Localism Act.

In the wake of the conviction of former Conservative councillor Andrew Lamont on child and animal pornography charges, Labour argued that it was essential to introduce a more robust system in Kensington and Chelsea to address any possible similar situations.

Lamont, who was convicted and placed on the sex offenders’ register on 2 April, told the Tory Leader and Whip in November 2010 that he was facing accusations of downloading extreme pornography and that obscene magazines had been found in the house by his wife. The Council leadership kept these accusations quiet in view of his protestations of innocence. Almost a year later, Lamont resigned the day before he went to Court. In the meantime he was allowed to continue as a member of the Council, including an appointment as governor of a nursery school.

The Opposition challenged the secrecy Lamont had enjoyed, first through the standards committee and subsequently on review, but were told that the Council had followed the procedures correctly. However, they remain firmly of the view that the failure to address the situation immediately had brought the Council into disrepute.

After Lamont’s conviction, Labour restated their concerns, citing the action of the Mayor of London, who required a colleague in a similar position to resign immediately and in advance of any prosecution. Labour’s view is that more robust standards are now necessary in Kensington and Chelsea to protect vulnerable residents and children.

However, rejecting Labour attempts to tighten up the regime, Council Leader Sir Merrick Cockell insisted that a ‘sensible light touch’ is all that is needed, with Deputy Leader Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown claiming that it was ‘not until Lamont was charged with a criminal offence that any decision could be made’.

Labour Group Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman said: ‘we are shocked that this Council, which has faced three resignations of Conservative councillors in less than two years on matters relating to child pornography, has nevertheless decide to dilute rather than strengthen its standards regime. We have to question whether the leadership understands the importance of robust child protection in this age of social media.”  Deputy Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said: ‘A light touch will not protect our children. The council must review these procedures, and do it now.’

Former Tory Councillor found guilty of child and animal porn charges

STOP PRESS, UPDATE 19.4.12

At the full Council meeting on 18.4.12 the Labour Opposition Group proposed an amendment to a Tory proposal about a new Standards regime. In our opinion, given the huge reputational damage done to the Council by the Lamont case, a new regime would have to provide every possible legal protection with transparent and impartial scrutiny by a panel of independents. We proposed a regime that should then be put out to public consultation so that K&C residents could comment, have genuine input, and feel that the Council has learnt its lessons and that in future any Councillor facing possible criminal charges would be suspended until justice had taken its course. This would be in sharp contrast to the Lamont case, where the charges were kept quiet for nearly a year, and the Councillor remained in post (though not undertaking his responsibilities), and remained as Council-appointed governor of a nursery, until the day before he went to Court.  

Incredibly this entirely sensible proposal was voted down, with senior Tory Councillors recommending ‘a light touch’, which is frankly bizarre and potentially puts the Council in an impossible situation were a similar situation to recur. Shame on the Royal Borough.

 

The Kensington and Chelsea Labour Opposition Group will not comment on the outcome of this criminal trial, except to say that  justice has taken its course and former Cllr Lamont has been found guilty of some of the charges he was accused of, that relate to child and animal porn.

 

However, the Labour Group believes it is time for the Council to review the procedures and protocols covering Councillors who may face criminal charges. As in any other area of public life, a person who has been arrested and faces possible criminal charges should immediately be requested formally to withdraw from his or her duties. This can be done either by resignation or by an agreed suspension of duties. It is simply not enough, as in the case of former Councillor Lamont, to make a private agreement that the individual ceases to attend meetings.

 

The Labour Group challenged the Council leadership through the Standards Committee, and subsequently at appeal, suggesting that existing procedures were not followed, the Code of Conduct was breached and as a consequence the Council had been brought into disrepute. The Standards Committee response, given on 28 February, stated that no further action would be taken as the Council had followed its existing procedures correctly. The response said that the Committee ‘could not establish how matters might have been handled differently, however unsatisfactory this might have appeared to other Members or members of the public’.

 

However, the implication of this decision is that, should any other Councillor be arrested and face possible charges and subsequent conviction, the alleged criminal could remain as an active Councillor until the day before s/he goes to Court.

 

Labour Leader Judith Blakeman said: ‘Residents expect more of the Council. There must now be a thorough review of procedures to put a more transparent process in place. Allowing a possible criminal to stay in post for almost a year and keep it secret until the day before he was charged is simply not good enough.’

 

Deputy Leader Cllr. Emma Dent Coad said: ‘Kensington and Chelsea’s lack of action contrasts badly with the Mayor of London, who faced a similar situation and demanded the immediate resignation of his colleague. The Council says it prides itself on openness and transparency; it must live up to this ideal or suffer the consequences at the ballot-box ’.

 

Further information from: Emma Dent Coad 07773 792736.

Kensington Labour fights to protect residents

Cuts will hit the poor and vulnerable worst and first

Plans include replacing the Mayoral Bentley with a Prius

-  brutal cuts are proposed by Kensington and Chelsea, ‘the richest borough in Europe’

A £.5m Youth Fund, £5m Housing Benefit hardship fund, £.5m for the voluntary sector to support employment opportunities, and free swimming are some of the highlights of the K&C Labour Opposition Group’s alternative revenue Budget. The alternative capital Budget funds the renovation of Grenfell Tower, creates new social rented homes, researches the feasibility of a Heath and Well-Being Centre in Golborne,  and of attracting the Dyson School of Design Innovation, and sets up a shop for the new credit union. All expenditure is fully funded from existing resources.

In advance of the Budget meeting at full Council on 7 March, the borough’s Labour Opposition has attacked many of the cuts this year as ‘unnecessary and vindictive’, stating that the poorest and most vulnerable residents will be hit ‘worst and first’. This year for the first time, Golborne in North Kensington has been declared the poorest ward in London for multi-deprivation, jointly with an area of Haringey.

Deputy Labour Group Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said: ‘There is no excuse for such depths of poverty in the borough. This Council is so rich that its Reserves have Reserves; this is no exaggeration. Added to that, every year they bump up the running costs and put ‘underspends’ into a Capital Reserve. That may be acceptable in times of plenty, but when government funding is being reduced and our poorest are getting poorer, these practices are indefensible.’

Every year the Labour Opposition Group writes an alternative Budget that focuses on their top priorities, presenting a fully balanced budget from  savings made elsewhere and judicious use of Reserves. Rather than the Council’s proposals which cut nursery and early years provision, play services and homework clubs, youth services, adult social care, home care, mental health and learning disability provision – as well as sports for schools – the Labour Group has reversed many of these cuts and bolstered others sorely needed in time of continuing economic uncertainty and unemployment.

The counter these cuts, the Labour Opposition Group is proposing to:

-      Pay a one-off efficiency dividend of £50 to Band A to Band D Council Tax payers

-      Set up a £500,000 Youth Fund to replace EMA

-      Set up hardship funds for: those unable to afford community alarm and telecare services; those facing Housing Benefit cuts; and a voluntary sector regeneration fund to help residents into work

-       Reinstate free swimming for children and the over 60s

-      offer financial help to the poorest families for early years services

-      enhance some mental health services

-      renovate Grenfell Tower next to the new Kensington Academy

-      build new homes for social rent

-      research possibilities for the William Rogers Health and Well-Being Centre in Golborne ward

-      and work with the Dyson Foundation to find a possible site for the proposed Dyson School of Design Innovation

Labour Group Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman asks: ‘Why are we still planning to subsidise Opera Holland Park to the tune of £1m a year, paying £800 a day to clean Exhibition Road, and running two polluting and extravagant Mayoral cars, while residents in private sector housing are being evicted daily and our young people are economising on food to get to school or college?

‘There was room in our Budget to fund a cut in Council Tax, but we decided against as it would have had to be re-instated in future years. Our alternative Budget establishes hardship funds for those most damaged by Coalition government policies that disproportionately attack the poorest people, and reduces cuts to front line services.’

The Council’s most unwelcome cuts over the past two years can be seen on this googlemap:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=205639043824952439521.0004987e92215751ebe89

 

 

It’s a Mayoral Election not a Beauty Contest

As Labour’s GLA candidate for the West Central constituency (which includes Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and my home borough of K&C), I am keen to run a campaign that focuses on issues that matter to the people of West Central. Between now and May’s election, I will be listening to the residents of West Central to find out about their priorities. I will also be promoting the issues high on my list, such as freezing public transport fares, promoting construction of more social and affordable housing in West Central, fighting Tory cuts to the number of police on our streets and promoting the London Living Wage.
Election outcomes matter. The choice that we make next year as Londoners will have a huge impact on public services in our city, and on the success of the Tory-led government in radically reducing the role of government. With Ken Livingstone, we can protect our public services and the number of police on our streets, freeze transport fares and promote the construction of more social and affordable housing. With Boris Johnson, we can protect the interests of the rich, cut public services and the number of police on our streets, pay higher transport fares and continue to see social housing in West Central disappear.
Like many thousands of Londoners, I’m an immigrant (I grew up in the United States). The last presidential election that took place while I was resident in the United States was the Bush-Gore contest of 2000. Though it seems hard to imagine now, many people said in 2000 that it didn’t matter whether Bush or Gore won because there was “no difference” between the two. Some people said that they were going to vote for Bush because he would be “more fun to have a beer with” than Gore. I think that history has proven that George Bush turned out to be a very different sort of President than Al Gore would have been. Bush’s disastrous administration demonstrates that the decisions that elected leaders make can have a profound impact on our lives. Likewise, many people are finding out that there is a great deal of difference between the Conservative and Labour administrations. If you want to find out whether elections outcomes matter, ask the students who have lost the support of Education Maintenance Allowances and are facing impossible university tuition; people who depend upon public services that are being cut; and people who are struggling to pay higher public transport fares.
And I’ve got news for anyone who plans on voting for Boris because they think he is the more likeable candidate: the chances of your ever spending time with Boris Johnson in a social setting are very small. If you think he is a fun guy, then maybe you should invite him to your next barbecue, but that doesn’t mean that he is the better choice for Mayor of London. Frankly, I find Boris’s Bullingdon Club background repulsive and I doubt I would have much in common with him one on one, but that is beside the point. I’m voting for Ken Livingstone because he has the policies, as well as the experience, that London needs in troubled times.
Todd Foreman is a Councillor for Notting Barns Ward in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Labour’s candidate for the West Central GLA constituency in 2012.