Social cleansing in Kensington

Up to 10,000 people may be moved out of the borough unless Kensington and Chelsea Council takes immediate action. Cuts planned by the Conservative/LibDem coalition government to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and Temporary Accommodation subsidy will hit over 4,000 households, many of whom will have to find an extra £100 a week or more to stay in their homes – or face eviction. Labour councillors called on the Conservative-run Council to condemn their government’s indefensible proposals at the Council meeting on 13 October.

Labour has been warning since February that the Tories’ proposed cuts would mean the enforced migration of many of the poorest residents out of the borough to ‘low demand’ (ie cheaper) parts of London – or out of London – but were accused of scaremongering. However LibDem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has recently admitted that the government’s housing benefit cuts mean ‘we might have to send people to cheaper parts, even if they don’t like it’.

Cllr Tim Coleridge, the Tory Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: ‘people will have to move to find alternative homes that they can afford’. This has all been confirmed in a report to the September Housing, Health and Adult Social Care Committee, which concluded: ‘The potential for central London and the Royal Borough to effectively become a residential no-go for anybody on a low income looking to rent is real .. [including] long-standing families who may have lived in the borough all of their lives’.

So, has the Council carried out a social equality impact assessment on this policy as required by legislation? Do they realise it is against their own Community Strategy and equality scheme ‘Towards an Inclusive Kensington and Chelsea’?

Councillor Emma Dent Coad, Housing Spokesperson for the Labour Group, stated: ‘The poorest people, including many women and ethnic minority groups, will be worst hit. It will disrupt the lives and education of thousands of children, and force keyworkers to seek jobs elsewhere. This is blatant social cleansing.’


By-election shock for Conservatives in Cremorne

Labour came within 19 votes of winning Cremorne ward in last week’s by-election, with  an overall 17% swing to Labour from the Conservatives and Lib Dems. Labour’s candidate Mabel McKeown won a clear majority of votes cast on the day. Residents on the World’s End, Cremorne and Guinness Trust estates turned out solidly for Labour. The Conservatives scraped in by organising postal votes from the wealthy eastern end of the ward.

In a letter to Cremorne voters Mabel pledges that Labour will not abandon Cremorne.

We will

• fight for tenants rights and more affordable housing, and against the cuts to housing benefits

• campaign to stop the use of Cremorne Gardens as a construction site for the Thames Tideway tunnel

• make sure the Tories know that the votes of people in Cremorne can never be taken for granted again.

Many residents still remember the Labour councillors who represented them before 2002, when the ward’s boundaries were gerrymandered to give the Conservatives a majority.

In Earl’s Court ward the Lib Dems beat the Tories after a frenetic campaign fought entirely on local issues.

Last Thursday was a bad night for the Conservatives – with several Tory councillors tottering on the edge of retirement, we predict it will be the first of many to come.

Golborne Market – Alive and Cooking

I am increasingly frustrated with the activities of certain members of the community who, apparently for political reasons, have talked down Portobello Market to the extent that visitors are being told that the Council, or ‘they’, are actually closing the market down. One unhappy tourist, who believed the rubbish they had found on the 34,000 Facebook site, even wrote to THE QUEEN to ask her to intervene in the closing down of the market.

My colleague Councillor Pat Mason spoke about this at the Council meeting on 23.6.10, and here is the link so you can read it: the links have gone pearshaped, you will have to cut and paste:

The Council has indeed been weak and confused – to an extraordinarily unhelpful degree – in its message about the market, but there is no way it intends to shut it down. While we go about educating the Council on how to deal with this, I would like to put out another message about the market.

I luuuurrrve markets, and our Golborne and Portobello Markets in particular, and have visited several times a week for nearly a quarter century. I have also studied the history of the market, which goes ‘way’ back. There are peaks and troughs, and if, for some mysterious reason not unconnected to global recession, the antiques section of the market is struggling, that is very very hard for the traders there and they have my total sympathy, but this WILL change soon. There are still plenty of visitors and they will start spending very soon rather than just looking – soon enough I hope for you all to survive.

A bit further north, however, things are different. Golborne Market, which encompasses Golborne Road and the upper reaches of Portobello (what I like to call ‘Upper Portobello’ to stop people calling it ‘THE BOTTOM’) is enjoying a renaissance as foodie heaven.

The hot food stalls there, some there all week and others Thurs, Fri and Saturday, are just amazing with fabulous and economically priced food and the most amazing atmosphere as you can watch your meal or snack being prepped and cooked before your eyes. This is quite exciting as many of the ingredients are locally sourced, locally cooked, and of course, locally consumed.

A new enterprise here, which we hope will reinvigorate the section of Portobello just north of Golborne Road, is the Global Food market, involving some of the local eateries, which we hope will consolidate the fantastic work other hot food stalls have done along Golborne Road.

So, Golborne Market – alive and cooking. Come and eat with us when you have finished your market shopping.