Month: March 2010

Championing an environmental Low Emissions Zone

We can improve our air quality by supporting Low Emissions Zones

Let’s face it, there are serious air quality issues in London, and North Kensington doesn’t get off that lightly. Our main roads like Ladbroke Grove, and especially the Westway flyover, have excessive recorded levels of nitrogen dioxide coming from vehicles…

That’s why your local Labour Councillors are championing the idea of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) that keeps the most polluting vehicles out of central London, protecting local people – especially children – from dangerous airborne particles. The proposal focuses on health, rather than congestion, with no charge for ordinary cars driving in and out of the area around Portobello Road, like there is for the Congestion Charge Western Extension Zone.

But wouldn’t you know it. As soon as Labour Councillors started asking the Council to support a LEZ, the idea appeared in the Liberal Democrats newsletter. The fact that Labour Councillors have been the only councillors in our Borough to vote in favour of this practical idea is however not mentioned by our opponents.

It’s a shame that the local Liberal Democrats can’t come up with their own campaigns. I just hope they would stop nicking all of you local Labour Councillor’s ideas!

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com

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Save Wornington Green: Exclusive interview with an original architect of the estate

Councillor Emma Dent Coad with Peter Deakins

Everyday’s a good day to campaign on something you believe in. Even more so when it’s an issue as important as saving 1,700 residents homes in Wornington Green, at the top end of Portobello Road…

The Conservative-run borough’s planning committee decided last Tuesday to allow the 538 social rented houses on the estate to be knocked down over 12 years, to include 300 privately owned homes.

This is just another example of just how out-of-touch Borough planning is, when it comes to the community of North Kensington. Labour has backed local residents, who believe that knocking down the estate and displacing 1,700 people, to make way for an additionl 300 private homes fetching £300,000 for a 1 bedroom and £1.2 million for a town house, effectively ruins our community for a decade.

At the committee hearing, all of the Labour Councillors opposed the redevelopment and sided with the majority of residents. It is worth noting that every single Councillor that voted in favour of redevelopment were Conservatives. Even though North Kensington remains largely Labour, with no Conservative Councillors.

In response, Labour Councillor Emma Dent Coad, invited the architect of one of the 1960s blocks, Peter Deakins, to come down to Portobello this morning and speak about his views on the redevelopment plans.

Colville Ward candidate Amir Akhrif, was there to film the interview.

If you’d be so kind, do us a little favour next time you look at your street, whether you live on an estate or not. Ask yourself one simple question… “do you feel secure that the Council will protect your home against property developers?”….

After the Council’s decision last Tuesday, we don’t feel secure anymore. That’s why we need Councillors who can sit on these committees and make decisions that listen to local peoples views. That is what Labour intends to do. That is why we are standing for election in May. That is why we are asking for your vote.

“Power back to the people, not to the property developers”…

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com

Helping Portobello Market: Labour launches the ‘Shop local… Shop small…’ campaign

Petitioning Kensington & Chelsea is always a good thing. In fact, Kensington Labour Party  thinks any sort of democratic involvement by active citizens is a good thing. But if we really want to protect Portobello Market, as local residents, we have to “put our money where our mouth is”. We need grassroots action, not just words…

Your Colville and Golborne Ward teams

That’s why your Labour politicians in Colville and Golborne Wards have launched the Shop local… Shop small… campaign, to raise awareness amongst local residents about just how useful Portobello and Golborne markets are. Starting Monday 8th March, your Labour teams will be doing three things to help the market thrive…

  1. We’ll be collecting price comparisons for various everyday items from Portobello Market, and pitching them against the high street names. Because we want to promote the value for money of Portobello to more locals.
  2. We’ll be developing a poster campaign in as many Portobello shops and stalls as possible to remind everyone to ‘Shop local… Shop small…’ Because sometimes we all need reminding.
  3. We’ll be delivering a price comparison leaflet to thousands of residents in Colville Ward. Because we want to advertise some of the savings residents can make by shopping on the ‘bella versus the high street names.

Every extra pound we as local residents spend on the market goes some way to helping to protect it. That’s the impetus behind the campaign and that’s us “putting our money where our mouth is”.

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com

Down, but not out: Conservatives vote to knock down local estate

London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi with Amir Akhrif and PPC Sam Gurney, campaigning to save 1,700 peoples' homes

For the last few years, residents of the Wornington Green estate at the top end of Portobello Road, have been fighting plans by Kensington Housing Trust to knock down 538 socially rented homes, before building 500 private and 538 socially rented homes on the same site. Effectively doubling the population density. Tonight, Conservative Councillors decided to give the housing trust permission to go ahead with the development, which will displace almost 1,000 residents over the next 12 years.

Leader of the Labour Group Judith Blakeman and Colville Ward Councillor Kieth Cunningham stuck to their guns, and made powerful arguments which swayed 3 Conservative Councillors to oppose the plans and vote with Labour. Unfortunately, the majority of Conservative Councillors voted with the housing trust’s plans to knock down the estate.

Critical issues that Labour raised during the hearing, included questions over: (a) how extra frontline healthcare and primary school places will be provided to accommodate the doubling in the population (the housing trust couldn’t answer); (b) why the square meterage of green and community ameinity space provided is effectively being halved on a per person basis (the housing trust couldn’t answer); (c) whether the housing association could fulfill its commitment to allow social housing residents to come back to the estate, if the number of bedspaces and floorspace is being cut (the housing trust couldn’t answer).

When it came down to the vote, it was 5 in favour of the development and 5 opposed. But it was the Conservative chairman of the Committee that used his chairperson’s casting vote to allow the plans to go ahead.

We believe that a housing development affecting around 1,700 residents is too important to be left to the casting vote of a chairperson. Not after a hung vote, and certainly not after so many residents’ objections. We believe that power must remain with the people, not with property developers. We need to make sure estates all over North Kensington are protected, and are not just seen as fair-game for development.

So, what’s the next step? What can we still do? Well, Labour doesn’t give up that easy. We’ll be contacting the Mayor of London tomorrow morning (although technically, it already is ‘tomorrow morning’). He’s the only person that can put a stop to it now… Don’t hold your breath though, a Tory is a Tory.

We’ll keep you posted..

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com