Representing all our communities: Labour’s manifesto for Kensington & Chelsea

Introduction

Kensington & Chelsea is London’s smallest borough. But from the Canal to the Thames, the strength of our heritage, the warmth of our diverse communities and the extent of our potential are beyond measure.

We’re proud of our cutting-edge schools, museums and universities; our world-famous Carnival; our unique small shops and markets; and the ability of our communities from across the world to come together – whether in celebration or crisis.

We deserve a council that cherishes and preserves our borough for future generations. This has not been happening. The Conservatives’ rent rises and benefit cuts are forcing families out and breaking communities. Social housing is neglected and unsafe. Our schools, police, and care services are starved of funding. The concerns and complaints of residents fall on deaf ears. Within our borough, life expectancy varies by decades. The response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to move painfully slowly, with a bereaved community fighting for justice.

Our council should put power in the hands of all our communities. Labour’s local programme will mitigate government policy while using our borough’s talent to solve problems together.

Labour will put all the resources we can at the disposal of the Grenfell community. We will prioritise safe, decent and genuinely affordable homes. We will put development in the hands of people not property tycoons, take back public services, protect our local economy, and invest in our future. And we won’t raise council tax by a penny to do it.

With Kensington’s first Labour MP elected last year, we’ve proven that change can happen here. With the May local elections, we have a real chance to restore hope to all our communities.

Representing all our communities: Labour’s manifesto for Kensington & Chelsea

The full-length manifesto is available here, and costings here. A PDF of this short manifesto can be found here.

Grenfell recovery

Labour’s top priority will be to meet the needs of survivors and people who are bereaved including but not limited to local housing, finance, and health and care. We will involve, listen to and respond to all affected residents.

The council’s culture of contempt and corner-cutting played no small part in the absence of safe social housing, effective emergency procedures and resident engagement. It’s time we made decisions with rather than for the bereaved community. Labour will:

  • review and amend recovery policies that discriminate between residents within the Grenfell community;
  • establish an alternative scrutiny committee led by and composed of residents only which can hold authorities to account;
  • base all council officers engaged with Grenfell recovery in North Kensington;
  • remain swiftly responsive, sensitive and considerate at all times and maintain channels of two-way communication with every resident;
  • provide a new children and families centre for the Grenfell area;
  • ensure local voluntary organisations have more money to cover the extra work they are doing due to post-Grenfell stress;
  • empower local groups that promote authentic mutual support.

Safe and secure homes for all

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Serious action on the housing crisis is long overdue. Nationally, we’ll campaign to end forced council house sales; give councils new powers to build housing; implement stronger safety regulations and push for more safety funding. We’ll campaign against the rigged rental market and the hated bedroom tax. Locally, Labour will:

  • Use council land to provide new safe, decent, low-rent homes;
  • use Discretionary Housing Payments indefinitely to support residents in need;
  • support new mutual housing initiatives;
  • increase support to tenant and resident associations, and support residents in challenging unfair housing association decisions;
  • oppose the leaseholders’ insurance hike
  • stop short-term leaseholder subletting on council estates;
  • support the 2,000 families and households in temporary accommodation who have a strong link to the borough and ensure temporary accommodation is appropriate to their needs;
  • license landlords to ensure reasonable environmental health standards, safety measures, and prevent unreasonable rent rises and unfair evictions; as well as to register and better enforce the management of short-term lets;
  • establish effective advice and legal services to support tenants in private housing, and help tenants understand their rights.

Taking control of planning

Planning should be led by and for the people who live here. Labour will work positively with developers who share our ideas and vision, and:

  • provide a more user-friendly planning process, offering free training for all who wish to engage meaningfully;
  • develop in-house capacity for planning and development, providing positive outcomes which benefit all existing communities;
  • lobby the GLA and government to stop Buy to Leave by anonymous overseas corporations;
  • ensure resident participation and co-design on any proposals to improve estates, subject to binding residents’ ballots;
  • ensure any development increases social housing, based on new and meaningful definitions of affordability;
  • protect our local assets and heritage, ensuring public access to publicly owned buildings;
  • Introduce local guidelines requiring new- builds to include carbon reduction; plans, and ensure construction considerations (such as noise or dust) are fully costed/ planned before permission is granted.

A safer borough

Our communities deserve to feel safe. But our Tory council has slashed police and youth and community services, leaving us all more vulnerable. Labour will:

  • Put our council-funded PCSOs back on the beat;
  • lobby government to reverse the £400m cut to the London policing budget;
  • create safe reporting centres with direct phone lines to officers on the beat;
  • establish an advisory group to tackle youth violence and anti-social behaviour
  • take swifter action against anti-social behaviour, street drinking and dangerous dogs;
  • Launch a public health strategy and a violent crime unit; bringing expert services together to tackle knife crime.

Protecting residents from Brexit

We will do all we can to protect local residents from the effects of a Tory hard Brexit. Labour will:

  • Ensuring the council treats EU citizens no differently to any other resident; regardless of government policy;
  • appoint a councillor to support EU citizens
  • open an advice service to help EU citizens access working, settlement, and family reunion rights;
  • pioneer a ‘science borough’; working with universities and other bodies to promote research across borders.

Dignity in health and care

Caring for those in poor health and old age is a basic duty of government. It’s time to stand up for health and social care. Labour will:

  • Abolish home care charges
  • review care homes with a view to taking them back in house
  • use our public health powers to tackle local health inequalities
  • ensure that home carers are properly trained and paid
  • provide better advocacy for dementia patients
  • ensure that all out services follow the Dignity Code of the National Pensioners Convention;
  • set up an emergency fund for residents whose Personal Independence payments have been cut;
  • provide premises for a new advice centre in the middle of the borough.

Strengthening our local economy

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Our council should use its powers to keep money in the local economy. Labour will

  • Require council contractors to use local businesses and local goods;
  • ensure job opportunities, streets and shopping centres are accessible to people with disabilities;
  • Developing partnerships with universities and tech firms to create future jobs;
  • outlaw zero hour contracts at the town hall, and require our contractors to recognise trade unions;
  • promote our markets, shops and small businesses and work with them on a strategy to attract new customers and investment;
  • deter the clustering of gambling and loan shops;
  • review business rates reductions, to ensure small businesses are getting the best possible support;
  • freeze council tax;
  • resist the loss of local pubs and LGBT venues.

A family friendly borough

Families are at the heart of strong communities; and we need to invest in families, education and children’s services. Labour will:

  • Fight to halt the universal credit rollout which is forcing local families into debt
  • maintain opening times in adventure play facilities, and bring back lost youth services under public control;
  • create a youth mayor and council to involve young people in running services
  • support families in accessing the free childcare they are entitled to;
  • secure a future for North Kensington College, and building the capacity of FE providers to offer technical and vocational qualifications;
  • reintroduce a school uniform grant for families in need.

Preserving art and leisure

Our borough has made legendary contributions to the arts; and this heritage deserves to be protected. Labour will:

  • Ensure North Kensington Library remains open, accessible and offering a wide range of services;
  • review expenditure on projects like Opera Holland Park, Leighton House and Stafford Terrace to ensure council funding supports projects which are accessible and attractive to all;
  • restore free swimming for under 16s and over 60s, and promote new cross-cultural and cross-generation leisure events;
  • keep Notting Hill Carnival in Notting Hill;
  • maintain and improve Canalside House as a voluntary sector hub.

A cleaner, greener borough

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Our environment is among our greatest treasures. But our urban spaces have been neglected; with deadly air pollution ignored and streets clogged. Labour will:

  • Lobby for a rail station at Westway Circus on the West London line;
  • introduce a 20mph speed limit on council owned roads;
  • allow Cycle Superhighway 9 to pass through the borough;
  • work with TfL towards step free access at local stations;
  • oppose Heathrow expansion;
  • introduce new electric car charging points;
  • require new developments to contribute properly to cutting emissions;
  • introduce rainwater harvesting and other sustainable measures at the town hall;
  • encourage planting and environmental education in schools and community groups and plant new greenery on council property
  • support free drinking fountains and community water refill outlets;
  • review the council’s waste policy to promote recycling.

An open, community-led council

We need a transparent council where openness and engagement – not special interests and backroom deals – define our approach. Labour will:

  • Aim to replace the top-down leader-and-cabinet system and consult on a more consensus-based committee system;
  • ensure our diverse communities are engaged with equally;
  • end the outsourcing of council services that has wasted millions;
  • co-plan our budget in public meetings across the borough.
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