Kensington Labour heads to the polls

On Thursday 5 May 2022 Council elections will be held in Kensington and Chelsea.

When our candidates are in place for all of our ‘held’ wards (where we already have Councillors) and ‘target’ wards (where we are hoping to have Councillors) we will post their details to introduce them to you.

Campaigning is underway – please check your Kensington Labour emails if you are able to help, and email kensingtonlabour@gmail.com if you want to be added to our Top Volunteers list!

January 2022

We are currently delivering a newsletter to all held and target wards; it is packed with information about where to get help for fuel bills, rent and Council Tax arrears, applying for benefits, Food Banks etc, for you and your neighbours.

Let us know if you are able to help us distribute them!

kensingtonlabour@gmail.com

Statement on the Racist Murder of George Floyd

RBKC Labour Opposition Group

Statement on the Racist Murder of George Floyd

The RBKC Labour Opposition Group of Councillors condemns the extrajudicial and racist killing of George Floyd on 25th May by white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes in full view of members of the public whilst three other police officers did nothing to stop his killing and prevented bystanders from intervening.

We condemn President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn the officers involved in the killing whilst branding protesters as terrorists. Or to condemn the Minneapolis Police Department which the City Council has vowed to dismantle and replace with a Community-based safety force. We also condemn Prime Minister Boris Johnson who failed for many days to acknowledge the tide of racism and hatred affecting many in the US, belatedly only saying it was “inexcusable” – racism and hatred that extends to the UK where we have seen extensive peaceful demonstrations we support against the police killing of George Floyd and similar attacks and killings by police officers in the UK.

We support the call to suspend the UK’s export of tear gas, rubber bullets and other military equipment to the US that may be used against peaceful protesters, as we have called in the past for the suspension of arms sales to Saudia Arabia, Israel, and 24 other countries who are accused of violating human rights.  

We have long experience of racism and racist attacks in North Kensington. We remember and honour the memory of Kelso Cochrane, murdered by fascist Blackshirts in 1959, the first recorded racist murder in the UK. On the 50th anniversary we commemorated his life with his family and raised a plaque at the site where he was killed. We are initiating a proposal to change the name of Southam Street to Kelso Cochrane Street in his memory.

When a young black North Kensington student El Harding was racially abused and attacked at his place of work in February this year, we protested, lobbied politicians and police, and continue to work with his family. We will support and work with any of our residents subjected to vile and unacceptable racist comments and attacks, and are always ready to call out incidents of institutional or ‘casual’ racism.

It is nearly three years since the terrible atrocity at Grenfell Tower. Many of us believe that the options taken by decision-makers to keep costs down would never have been taken for homes of their own families.

And many believe that the survivors would have been treated better if they had been from white British backgrounds.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain. And the brutal and pervasive Covid-19 has leeched into our communities, resulting in one of the worst infection rates among wealthier neighbouring boroughs. This runs parallel with poverty, ill-health, and other factors we are struggling to understand. We may never get accurate statistics as many of our sick go to die in hospitals elsewhere.

Kensington and Chelsea Labour Group of Councillors pledges to call out racism wherever we see it, and stand by those calling it out. We will continue to support black and BAME organisations, to fight against inequality and injustice wherever we see it, and work to eradicate racism, which degrades our humanity.

9th June 2020

A Personal Comment By Councillor Emma Dent Coad

I moved into North Kensington in 1986, 27 years after the racist murder of Kelso Cochrane by a group of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. Mosley had been active in the area, stoking the racial tension between black and white groups which had led to riots. Mosley should be held accountable for this murder, but the man who took a knife and stabbed to death a man he didn’t know, because he was black, was not identified, hidden by a cult of silence.

In 2009 Golborne Councillors and community members held a commemoration of Kelso’s death at the spot where he was killed. Among the attendees was a white woman, who asked me to introduce her to the family. She knew the killer. It was her brother, who had passed away. In five minutes they had met, sorrow and forgiveness uniting their pain after 50 years.

Over the years I’ve been unofficial auntie to many young people in my neighbourhood, and heard their stories. I’ve witnessed both unacknowledged racism and blatant racism by police, church members, teachers, others in authority, and even my own colleagues. I’ve done what I can to support these young people and their families. It is never enough.

In February North Ken was shocked by a racist attack by white thugs against El Harding, a young black student, in his place of work, a pub in Portobello Road. We protested, lobbied politicians and police. They have CCTV of the perpetrators, and names on credit cards used on the night. But still no arrests. Somebody knows who did this, but the cult of silence prevails.

So I understand when my black sisters tell me they keep their young men indoors to keep them safe.  

It is nearly three years since the terrible atrocity at Grenfell Tower. The decisions made to keep costs down would never have been made by the decision-makers for homes of their own families. But they see social tenants as second-class citizens, and if those tenants are  non-white they are bottom of the heap. I witnessed RBKC senior officers and Tory Councillors turn survivors into victims they could patronise and treat like charity cases. They expected gratitude for having returned to them what had been taken so cruelly by RBKC. I witnessed this state-sanctioned racism in many forums, in Parliament and at the Council. They gas-lighted traumatised survivors who deserved to be cherished. They called people ‘volatile’ when they were upset and frustrated. They called people ‘ungrateful’ when they refused to accept sub-standard housing. At one Full Council meeting, a traumatised bereaved family member was refused permission to speak. At the next Council meeting, a white woman stood up asking ever-so-politely for permission to speak, and it was granted.

I know we should always call out racism. In a debate on Grenfell in Parliament on 6 June last year, under parliamentary privilege, I finally plucked up courage to do so publicly. I read out a series of racist comments made by senior officers and Councillors. The Leader of the Council wrote to me that very afternoon. She wanted an ‘investigation’. She wanted me to identify the senior officers and Councillors I had quoted. I refused, I said it was endemic and they should tackle it systemically.

I went along with their investigation – not naming names – and to date NOTHING has come of it. What is clear to me is that, in a borough where white British born people are in a minority – 48-52% – those elected to power like to feel they are in authority. But they aren’t.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain. And the brutal and pervasive Covid-19 has leeched into our communities, resulting in one of the worst infection rates among our wealthy neighbours. This runs parallel with poverty, ill-health, and other factors we are struggling to understand. We may never get accurate statistics as our sick go to die in hospitals elsewhere.

What can we do? I say to my black brothers and sisters, stand together and ask your white allies to stand with you. Call out racism wherever you see, and stand by those calling it out, because they will be targeted by those who don’t want to hear your accusations. And I say to my white brothers and sisters, support black organisations, and tell other white people you do. For myself I pledge to call out racism, pursue the perpetrators, to be a good ally, use my white foot in the door for the benefit of those who have the door shut in their face, and to live my life in protest every day, against inequality and against injustice.

Impact of Covid-19 on Renters

The Mayor has been lobbying to make renting more secure and affordable for some time now. In addition, City Hall is now asking Government to:

1. Properly protect renters from losing their homes by preventing landlords serving eviction notices to any tenants affected by coronavirus and ending ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions for good.

2. Further increase the help the welfare benefits system provides with rents, including covering in any shortfall in rents of those unable to pay them because of Covid-19.

3. Call on landlords to offer flexibility to tenants whose ability to pay their rent is affected by COVID-19, including requiring landlords in receipt of mortgage holidays to notify their tenants and to enable tenants to be exempt of rental payments for the duration of the holiday.

Are you a renter or landlord and have you been affected by the crisis? How are you coping? 

What more do you think City Hall and Government could do?  

How should things change for renters in future? 

Please consider taking the time to submit a short submission here the housing policy team at City Hall will be reading all submissions this is an important chance to have your say heard and influence future housing policy in our city.

Foodbank Update

Cllr. Baktiar, Cllr. Ali and Cllr. Elnaghi assisting Cllr, Thaxter today at the Notting Hill Methodist Foodbank.

All of our councillors have been working as hard as they can to provide as much assistance as is necessary to the local community during the pandemic. Councillor Thaxter a long time volunteer at the Notting Hill Methodist Church Foodbank has been there almost every single day since the pandemic began with many of her fellow councillors coming to help when they can. The foodbank is still in desperate need of supplies due to the increased demand. Below is the list of items they currently need urgently. Please do help them if you can.

All of our councillors have seen a huge increase in their casework and are busily doing everything they can to help their residents. If you need any help please do get in touch by emailing your ward councillor’s directly.

Stay Safe! Together we will get through this.