Category Archives: Equality

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.

Justice 4 El Protest – Saturday 22nd February 2020 at 8pm

On Saturday the 6th of February a member of our community was subjected to a vicious racist attack at his place of work by six men in the Duke of Wellington Pub on Portobello Road. No one stepped in to help him and the police have failed to act swiftly. His family and friends are calling on all of the community to join them in a non violent protest outside of the Duke of Wellington Pub this Saturday the 22nd February at 8pm.

Please come out and support them if you are able to. We must stand up against racism in all of it’s forms. There is no place in Kensington for this type of hatred and bigotry.

Statement from Lancaster West Residents Association.

Petition to Support Lord Dub’s Amendment

Peers have voted for Lord Alf Dub’s cross-party amendment to the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20 to protect child refugee family reunion. Please sign Jacob Rety’s petition and ask Felicity Buchan M.P. to vote to uphold these protections for separated child refugees tomorrow.     http://chng.it/2fkwgGFr95

  
The bill will be coming up in the House of Commons tomorrow. The Government insists their position has not changed. But by taking the step of removing legal protections to ensure that family reunion to the same standard as under current EU law continues, the Government risks sending a dangerous signal that could panic child refugees and their families. We know that when safe and legal routes are not accessible, then children are more likely to make dangerous journeys and be pushed into the hands of people smugglers. There are currently thousands of refugee children – some as young as 8 – surviving in camps, shelters and on the streets of Europe. Many of these children are unaccompanied and with the absence of any legal route to safety, face the very real risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced labour.


The Government has also suggested it is making this move to increase flexibility in the Brexit negotiations – but the principle of safe routes for child refugees with family in the UK should be non-negotiable. Without this legal protection, there is no guarantee that child refugees will be able to reunite siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents rather than just parents.
     
We hope Felicity Buchan MP will   take a robust moral stand in support of Family Reunion Scheme like her predecessor Emma Dent Coad for defenceless child refugees in the Brexit legislation. The government must act in utmost good faith when it comes to the welfare of these acutely vulnerable children and not ignore the gravity of the subject by revoking family reunification during Brexit negotiations.

It dishearteningly appears that a degree of “refugee fatigue” has set in against the backdrop of the Brexit debacle. We strongly believe that assisting these young, vulnerable lives, by uniting them with their families and protecting them from unspeakable dangers, where 90% of the children who are here have come to the UK through dangerous routes, rather than safely and legally as in family reunion. Helping these young lives is an effective way to make our humanity count and help build a better society.

Petition RBKC for more street benches in North Kensington

Please dowload the PDF of the petition by clicking here, print it, get it signed by friends, family and colleagues, then return the completed sheet to

Disability Action Group
147 Highlever Road
London W10 6PH

Lead Petitioner: Sue Warren sue@physicslab.co.uk

This petition is supported by the K&C Labour Party Disability Action Group and ADKC.

In North Kensington the wards of Colville, Dalgarno, Golborne, Norland, Notting Dale and St. Helen’s have a significant number of residents over the age of 65 years and a high percentage of residents with long term limiting illness (Public Health England 2017). In these wards a cause of concern for many residents with restricted mobility is the lack of street benches. We, the undersigned residents of Kensington & Chelsea, request that the Council consider this Petition at a full council meeting and makes resources available to install benches in these six wards in consultation with local residents and groups representing the interests of those with restricted mobility and sets out a timescale for the implementation of this project.