24 October 2011
In an unprecedented move following the resignation of former Councillor Andrew Lamont who is facing criminal charges, the Labour Opposition Group on Kensington and Chelsea Council have asked the Borough Standards Committee to investigate complaints about the way the Council Leader Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell and his then Chief Whip, Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown handled the matter. Labour Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman and Deputy Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad claim that their behaviour could have brought the Council into disrepute as they had not acted in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.
Specifically, they claim that the two councillors had:
- Permitted Cllr Lamont to take unpaid leave of absence for 11 months without following correct procedures and in breach of the Council’s Constitution
- Failed to tell members of the Council or the residents of Norland ward that Cllr Lamont had been absent since November 2010
- Not ensured that residents contacting Cllr. Lamont for help were informed that he was unable to respond to them
- Failed to encourage him to resign immediately it became apparent that he could be facing serious criminal charges
- Allowed him to attend a committee meeting in March while on unpaid leave of absence; and
- Appointed to him a scrutiny committee while on unpaid leave without informing the committee’s chairman that he would be unable to take up his duties.
Cllr Blakeman expressed regret that her Group had been obliged to take this course of action. She said “I have tried to resolve these matters in private with the Leader of the Council, without success. In a similar case last year two councillors were asked to resign immediately. We can only assume that Cllr. Lamont was permitted to remain on the Council because the Conservatives wished to avoid a further embarrassing by-election for as long as possible”.
Cllr Dent Coad said “we have asked detailed questions and have not received satisfactory answers. We believe the Council Leader and his Chief Whip did not act in compliance with the Members’ Code of Conduct nor with the Council’s Constitution and this could seriously damage the way the public perceives the Council’s activities”.
Councillor Pat Mason’s letter to the head of HSBC about the proposed closure of the last bank in Portobello Road: –
Dear Mr Castle,
Closure of the Portobello Road HSBC Bank on 16th December 2011.
I am astonished that HSBC has announced the closure of the 152 Portobello Road Branch on 16th December without any forward consultation with local Councillors representing Golborne and Colville Wards in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, when a majority of our residents will be your customers – and I have been a customer since about 1982 when it was the Midland Bank.
This closure will be viewed locally as damaging to local business and trade in the Portobello Road and Golborne Road area.
We are told that all of your Portobello Road Branch customers will be relocated to the Notting Hill Gate Branch from 19th December.
This closure will hit the vast majority of shops, market traders and business in the Portobello Road and Golborne Road area who rely on the convenience of having a local bank on their street. It is also clear that when banks move out of a main shopping centre like Portobello Road, existing and potential business take this as a signal that the area may be a bad economic prospect – otherwise why would the bank that has been there for at least 25 years be closing up shop!
At a time when the Council and local Councillors are working hard on initiatives to sustain and support the small shops and business in this area, and to encourage new business into the Portobello and Golborne, HSBC’s action sends out exactly the wrong signal, and I invite you to meet Councillors to discuss how HSBC can continue banking facilities on Portobello Road.
Moving the bank to Notting Hill Gate will also be an inconvenience to many of your customers who may have disabilities, the elderly, people with children and prams etc, and some will have to pay £2.40 to bus to Notting Hill Gate and back.
There are also a spread of community and voluntary groups who bank at the Portobello Road Branch because it is local to them who will now have to send staff to the new Branch at a time and financial cost.
Can you please come and meet with local Councillors to discuss this closure plan and to explore how HSBC banking facilities could continue on Portobello Road.
Councillor Pat Mason, Golborne Ward
Councillor Emma Dent Coad, Golborne Ward
Councillor Bridget Hoier, Golborne Ward
Councillor Dez O’Neill, Colville Ward
Councillor Judith Blakeman, Leader, RBKC Labour Opposition Group
Swing: 8.3% Con to Lab
A very good swing to Labour for our wonderful candidate Beinazir Lasharie, and huge thanks to the local and London-wide teams who pitched in with many hours of leafleting and canvassing.
We put in an outstanding performance in polling district NOA, which is where the vast majority of our energies were concentrated, and met many residents with concerns that are not being addressed by the Tories, who think it’s all about ‘planning and conservation’ in Norland. How wrong can you be?
Con: 675 43.8% (-11.6%)
Lab: 438 28.4% (+5.0%)
LD: 358 23.2% (+2.0%)
UKIP: 69 4.5% (+4.5%)
The following is an excerpt from an article in the Independent:
‘Labour edged up in the latest council by-elections during Tories’ conference week.
In its best result, at Norland in London’s Kensington and Chelsea Borough, Labour slashed Conservatives’ majority from more than 1,000 in last year’s polls – on the same day as the general election – to 237.
Kensington and Chelsea London Borough – Norland: C 675, Lab 438, Lib Dem 358, Ukip 69. (May 2010 – Three seats C 1864, 1804, 1654, Lab 787, 722, Lib Dem 714, 693, Lab 681, Lib Dem 534). C hold. Swing 8.8% C to Lab.