RESIDENTS RALLY TO SAVE THE NORTH POLE PUB

North Kensington residents and local Councillors met on 17 May in the North Pole pub to start the fight to stop Sainburys turning it into yet another outlet.

The cross-party team including Councillors Pat Healy and Bob Mingay from St Charles Ward, and Cllr Todd Foreman from Notting Barns where the pub is located, met a huge and angry group of local residents at the pub to kick off the campaign. Concerns range from the threat to other local convenience stores, loss of a highly valued local amenity, to increased parking problems from ‘drive-by’ shoppers. Various ideas were discussed and will be pursued: a petition to Council demanding they refuse a change of use class is being organised.

Cllr Foreman said “The North Pole pub is a landmark in North Kensington and its loss would be a huge blow to the community. To make matters worse, if the premises turned into yet another chain supermarket outlet then the survival of nearby small businesses would be threatened.”

Cllr Healy said : ‘I have been approached by many local residents and shopkeepers who are outraged at this threat to the community. The degree of anger was palpable at the meeting as scores of people crowded into the pub to have their say.’

Cllr Mingay said: ‘The loss of the last remaining pub in this part of the Borough to an unwanted supermarket would breach RBKC’s Core Planning Strategy. We will pursue every avenue in Planning Law to stop what local opinion clearly regards as an outrage.’

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VICTORY FOR MARKET AS BT PLANS ATM PHONE KIOSKS

British Telecom are planning to open new telephone kiosk ATMs on Portobello and Golborne Road Market.

Following the closure of the HSBC Bank and their ATMs in Portobello Road last December that was bitterly opposed by Councillors, market traders, shops and local residents, North Kensington Labour Councillors worked hard to have the lost ATMs replaced. Colville Councillor, Dez O’Neill, has worked with HSBC, the Council and several local property owners to find alternative ATM sites. And Golborne Councillor Pat Mason contacted other banks and providers including British Telecom who operate the public telephone boxes on our streets.

The HSBC ATMs were used every weekend by thousands of visitors to the Portobello and Golborne Market. These visitors often needed cash for small sales it was not financially viable for traders to make by credit card. And Golborne Road visitors and traders have long complained that there is no bank and ATM facility there.

This week, British Telecom made planning applications to RBKC to replace their existing telephone boxes at Talbot Road and Golborne Road with new models that will include an ATM service.

Colville Councillor Dez O’Neill said, “This is welcome news since cash machines assist visitors to spend their money on Portobello and Golborne Market, and are very important for the local economy”.

Golborne Councillor Pat Mason said, “Visitors now have less money to spend because of the recession, and if putting these new ATMs on the market helps them to spend more, then that will be a good thing”.

14.5.12

SHOCK AT LACK OF CONCERN ON THREATS OF A&E CLOSURE

Council debate reveals uncaring Conservative and Liberal Democrat Councillors
23.4.12

Plans to close local accident and emergency units were debated by councillors in Kensington and Chelsea. Observers were shocked at last Wednesday’s Council meeting when Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors rejected a Labour proposal supporting the retention of full accident and emergency Services across west London and condemning secret discussions about cuts and changes to west London’s health care services that won’t be revealed until after the May 3 Mayoral and GLA elections.
Labour Councillor Robert Atkinson, who proposed the resolution, commented: “I would never claim that any aspect of the NHS is beyond improvement, but the idea of closing emergency departments across west London when Londoners, especially those without cars or really accessible doctors’ surgeries, cannot easily get emergency health care, is outrageous. We need more, not fewer, walk-in services and if we go ahead and close or downgrade emergency services at the St Mary’s, Hammersmith, Charing Cross or Chelsea and Westminster hospitals, people will die”.
Councillor Pat Healy, Labour spokeswoman on health, added: “we are supposed to be in a period of ‘pre-consultation’ consultation, which means that professional people are summoned to semi-secret and expensive meetings at places like Lords Cricket Ground to decide on reorganisations and closures behind closed doors. This is treating patients like children and stifles debate to prevent it becoming a key issue before the London-wide elections on 3 May”.
These semi-secret meetings have been told that it will take up to 58 minutes longer by car to get to the nearest A&E if these closures go ahead. Ambulance journeys will take 6 – 23 minutes longer. Cllr Healy said: “we were told that people ‘may have to travel longer but they will get better care when they arrive’ – well yes, but only if they survive the journey.’
Ken Livingstone and Labour’s GLA team have made some very sensible suggestions about the strategic health needs of Londoners and the importance of involving voters in the debate so that they can make their wishes clear. The silence from both Boris Johnson and the Tory and Lib Dem councillors in Kensington and Chelsea speaks volumes.”

‘A LIGHT TOUCH WILL NOT PROTECT OUR CHILDREN’

Labour Opposition Group appalled at Council decision not to tighten standards regime in wake of second child pornography case

After a bad-tempered Council meeting on 18 April,  Labour opposition councillors have expressed their disgust and shame at the ruling Conservative group’s decision to dilute further the Council’s standards regime rather than introduce additional protections proposed by Labour. Changes to the standards regime are required as from 1 July under the Localism Act.

In the wake of the conviction of former Conservative councillor Andrew Lamont on child and animal pornography charges, Labour argued that it was essential to introduce a more robust system in Kensington and Chelsea to address any possible similar situations.

Lamont, who was convicted and placed on the sex offenders’ register on 2 April, told the Tory Leader and Whip in November 2010 that he was facing accusations of downloading extreme pornography and that obscene magazines had been found in the house by his wife. The Council leadership kept these accusations quiet in view of his protestations of innocence. Almost a year later, Lamont resigned the day before he went to Court. In the meantime he was allowed to continue as a member of the Council, including an appointment as governor of a nursery school.

The Opposition challenged the secrecy Lamont had enjoyed, first through the standards committee and subsequently on review, but were told that the Council had followed the procedures correctly. However, they remain firmly of the view that the failure to address the situation immediately had brought the Council into disrepute.

After Lamont’s conviction, Labour restated their concerns, citing the action of the Mayor of London, who required a colleague in a similar position to resign immediately and in advance of any prosecution. Labour’s view is that more robust standards are now necessary in Kensington and Chelsea to protect vulnerable residents and children.

However, rejecting Labour attempts to tighten up the regime, Council Leader Sir Merrick Cockell insisted that a ‘sensible light touch’ is all that is needed, with Deputy Leader Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown claiming that it was ‘not until Lamont was charged with a criminal offence that any decision could be made’.

Labour Group Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman said: ‘we are shocked that this Council, which has faced three resignations of Conservative councillors in less than two years on matters relating to child pornography, has nevertheless decide to dilute rather than strengthen its standards regime. We have to question whether the leadership understands the importance of robust child protection in this age of social media.”  Deputy Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said: ‘A light touch will not protect our children. The council must review these procedures, and do it now.’

Former Tory Councillor found guilty at last

STOP PRESS, UPDATE 19.4.12

At the full Council meeting on 18.4.12 the Labour Opposition Group proposed an amendment to a Tory proposal about a new Standards regime. In our opinion, given the huge reputational damage done to the Council by the Lamont case, a new regime would have to provide every possible legal protection with transparent and impartial scrutiny by a panel of independents. We proposed a regime that should then be put out to public consultation so that K&C residents could comment, have genuine input, and feel that the Council has learnt its lessons and that in future any Councillor facing possible criminal charges would be suspended until justice had taken its course. This would be in sharp contrast to the Lamont case, where the charges were kept quiet for nearly a year, and the Councillor remained in post (though not undertaking his responsibilities), and remained as Council-appointed governor of a nursery, until the day before he went to Court.  

Incredibly this entirely sensible proposal was voted down, with senior Tory Councillors recommending ‘a light touch’, which is frankly bizarre and potentially puts the Council in an impossible situation were a similar situation to recur. Shame on the Royal Borough.

 

The Kensington and Chelsea Labour Opposition Group will not comment on the outcome of this criminal trial, except to say that  justice has taken its course and former Cllr Lamont has been found guilty of some of the charges he was accused of, that relate to child and animal porn.

 

However, the Labour Group believes it is time for the Council to review the procedures and protocols covering Councillors who may face criminal charges. As in any other area of public life, a person who has been arrested and faces possible criminal charges should immediately be requested formally to withdraw from his or her duties. This can be done either by resignation or by an agreed suspension of duties. It is simply not enough, as in the case of former Councillor Lamont, to make a private agreement that the individual ceases to attend meetings.

 

The Labour Group challenged the Council leadership through the Standards Committee, and subsequently at appeal, suggesting that existing procedures were not followed, the Code of Conduct was breached and as a consequence the Council had been brought into disrepute. The Standards Committee response, given on 28 February, stated that no further action would be taken as the Council had followed its existing procedures correctly. The response said that the Committee ‘could not establish how matters might have been handled differently, however unsatisfactory this might have appeared to other Members or members of the public’.

 

However, the implication of this decision is that, should any other Councillor be arrested and face possible charges and subsequent conviction, the alleged criminal could remain as an active Councillor until the day before s/he goes to Court.

 

Labour Leader Judith Blakeman said: ‘Residents expect more of the Council. There must now be a thorough review of procedures to put a more transparent process in place. Allowing a possible criminal to stay in post for almost a year and keep it secret until the day before he was charged is simply not good enough.’

 

Deputy Leader Cllr. Emma Dent Coad said: ‘Kensington and Chelsea’s lack of action contrasts badly with the Mayor of London, who faced a similar situation and demanded the immediate resignation of his colleague. The Council says it prides itself on openness and transparency; it must live up to this ideal or suffer the consequences at the ballot-box ’.

 

Further information from: Emma Dent Coad 07773 792736.

LABOUR DEMANDS ACTION FOR POOREST WARD

Call for all-party plan to tackle Golborne ‘most deprived ward in London’ in the richest borough in Europe

New figures* naming Golborne in North Kensington as the joint poorest ward in London on ‘extent measure’ has prompted local Councillors to propose urgent cross-party action.
Cllr Emma Dent Coad, who brought the report to light at a rowdy Council meeting last week, states: ‘Extent measure is possibly the most devastating as it shows how widespread is the depth of deprivation. K&C Tories may be surprised, but for Councillors working in this vulnerable area who have already seen endless cuts – not to mention those for the coming year – it is no surprise at all. We are seeing appalling dental health in young children, people of all ages economising on food, threats of eviction, debt, ill health and depression.’ Cllr Dent Coad is already working with local groups who are experiencing cuts themselves, to see how best to work together to target the most needy.
As a longer term measure, at the next Council meeting in April, Labour Councillor Pat Mason will propose setting up a cross-party working group to review how a North Kensington Crossrail station – to be named Golborne Station – can be used to regenerate the area. Building on the ruling Conservative Group’s proposal for a Kensal Crossrail station, Labour Councillors will take this further with a new plan that would inspire real community engagement and enthusiasm.
This plan considers some earlier ideas from Golborne Councillors for a more modest renewal of the former Kensal gasworks, and links them with plans to tackle some of the obstacles that may delay or obstruct the development of the new station. Cllr. Pat Mason said: “the ruling Conservative Group have some broad proposals around the provision of a Crossrail station. We want to push this forward and hope that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats on the Council will work with us to realise our ambition to improve long-term the living conditions and life chances of North Kensington residents”. The Kensal site is to be used as a worksite for Crossrail until 2018, so there is time for a broad and all-encompassing consultation.
Labour’s regeneration plan includes new social rented housing to deal with local over-crowding, unhealthy dwellings and hidden homelessness. New key worker homes will also be built, along with market properties for sale. The site will include The William Rogers Centre for Health and Well-being, named in memory of a respected local resident who sadly died when Edenham Residential Care Home was demolished. The Sainsbury’s store will be relocated to a better position on the site. Shops and business units to let at reasonable rents will be included for local entrepreneurs, including students who will have graduated from the new Kensington Aldridge Academy, with its focus on developing entrepreneurial skills.
Labour Councillors are hoping to work with all parties on the Council to pursue this vision. Cllr. Emma Dent Coad said: “The Council has already earmarked some £30m of its reserves for this development and we are asking them to release some funding now to complete preparatory work and ensure that we are ready to go in 2018 when the station site becomes available for redevelopment”.

*The latest report from the GLA Intelligence Unit ‘Ward Level Summary Measures of Indices of Deprivation 2010 update January 2012’ states that Golborne is the joint most deprived ward in London, with Northumberland Park in Haringey, on ‘extent measure’.

LABOUR CANDIDATE FOR WEST CENTRAL BACKS CALLS FOR KIT MALTHOUSE TO QUIT

Cllr Todd Foreman, Labour’s candidate for the West Central London Assembly constituency, backed calls for Kit Malthouse to resign his position as deputy mayor for policing. The calls for Malthouse’s resignation have been made by Labour MP Chris Bryant and London Mayoral Candidate Ken Livingstone after it emerged that Malthouse personally intervened with the Commissioner of the Met to seek to shut down the police investigation into the ongoing phone hacking scandal.

The revelations about Malthouse’s intervention were contained in evidence to the Leveson inquiry from the former Commissioner of the Met, Sir Paul Stephen. Stephen said, “On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, the Chair of the MPA, Kit Malthouse, expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media driven ‘level of hysteria’.”

Foreman is standing against Malthouse in the upcoming London Assembly elections on 3rd May. West Central includes the City of Westminster, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Foreman said today,

“Residents of West Central should be very concerned by today’s revelations about their London Assembly Member. It is completely unacceptable that Kit Malthouse sought to use his position to interfere in the police investigation of the phone hacking scandal. The phone hacking scandal is deeply serious, and the police need adequate resources to conduct their investigation. Furthermore, Malthouse’s intervention appears to be politically motivated. I agree with Chris Bryant and Ken Livingstone that Kit Malthouse should resign from his position as deputy mayor for policing, or Boris Johnson should sack him.”

Foreman added,
“West Central residents deserve much better than this sort of representation by Malthouse. Voters should send him packing in the upcoming London Assembly election on 3rd May.”

ENDS

Notes:
Contact Cllr Foreman on 07920 267 118. http://www.toddforeman.org.uk.
Sir Paul Stephen’s written evidence is contained here (see paragraph 89): http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Witness-Statement-of-Sir-Paul-Stephenson2.pdf