Tag Archives: Campaigns

TORIES ‘INSULT TO STRUGGLING FAMILIES’

Council prioritises opera over vulnerable and homeless


th 223.11.14

Kensington and Chelsea Labour Group Councillors are appalled to learn that the Council is planning to make a one-off payment of £5m to dispose of the loss-making Opera Holland Park. In a ‘face-saving’ deal to get rid of the annual embarrassment of losing up to £1m/year on this expensive 18-year vanity project, a proposal has been concocted for a settlement to help re-form the opera into a charitable trust from 2016.

This £5m (plus a loss of interest of £150,000) is intended ‘to cover losses until 2023’, by which time it is hoped the organisation will be in profit. However, given total backroom costs of £412,000 for staffing, marketing, depreciation, and insurance, it will be an uphill struggle. And there is no discussion in the documents of how much the Council will charge the Opera to use its prime facilities in Holland Park.

These proposals come within the context of yet another year of crushing cuts in services. The disaster of the new contract for Special Educational Needs children’s transport, which put our most vulnerable children at risk, was the result of the ‘difficult decision in the face of austerity’ to save £447,000/year – a sum almost equal to the backroom costs of running the Opera. A further £415,000 is to be sliced off the Play Services budget, making it increasingly difficult for working parents to find affordable after-school and holiday childcare. And £500,000 has already been sliced from Youth Services.

Labour Group Chair Cllr Pat Mason said: ‘Giving £5m to set up an independent opera charity is unacceptable when the Council plans to slash another £13.5m from vital frontline services next year. This includes £3.9m from adult social care, £1.9m from children’s services, and £691,000 from the housing budget, including reducing services to homeless people by £150,000. Spending £5m on opera when many of our residents are deep in debt, using food banks and seeing services cut is truly scandalous.’

Public Realm spokesperson Cllr Robert Thompson said: ‘”Against the background of cuts in council services which affect the most underprivileged in our borough this proposal embodies how the ruling Conservatives prefer culture for the few rather than care for the many.”

Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Emma Dent Coad said: ‘It has never been clearer that the Council is using the language of austerity to justify ideological decisions. The self-professed ‘richest Council in the universe’ can find cash for the opera, but makes ‘tough decisions’ when it comes to vulnerable and struggling residents. Once again Kensington and Chelsea Tories have been caught squeezing the vulnerable to fund indulgence.’

LINK TO DOCUMENT GOING TO PUBLIC REALM COMMITTEE 26.11.14 

PLANNING LAW CHANGES THREATEN MARKETS

Cllr Pat Mason in Portobello Market 2Labour Councillors challenge Minister on Planning Law changes that leaves local people powerless to protect their shopping streets and markets 31.5.13

Labour Councillor Pat Mason has written to Planning Minister, Don Foster, to protest about the disastrous planning law changes he has introduced only a week after visiting Portobello Market that won the Best UK Market Award.

Kensington High Street, Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove and the Portobello and Golborne Road Market could be overrun with lines of betting shops, PayDay lenders, pawn shops and gambling premises after the government introduced new planning rules this week that removed the right of residents to be consulted about what happens in their locality.

Colville market now 2From this week, Kensington and Chelsea Council and local people are now powerless to stop paper shops, cafes, restaurants, public houses, laundrettes and other independent shops being turned into betting shops and gambling premises. Local communities and the Councillors they have elected have been disenfranchised, whilst big business and developers can now set about wrecking fifty years of careful local planning, ruining the character of any area they choose in the process, and the government is allowing them to do it.

Labour Opposition Group Councillor Pat Mason said, “Tearing up our planning laws and axing our residents right to be consulted on what happens in their local area is utterly undemocratic and likely to ruin the character of Portobello and Golborne Market making it less attractive for visitors. The Tory-Liberal Democrat government has totally reneged on its promise to give local people more say in their local area, and to protect the character and economy of our borough. Shame on them for telling yet another lie”.

PETITION TO END TNT POSTAL SERVICES PILOT

Cllr Pat Mason

After receiving numerous complaints from worried residents about TNT’s performance, North Kensington Labour Councillors have launched a public online and paper petition to be delivered to the January 2013 Council Meeting asking RBKC to examine these complaints and decide if the government should be asked to end the TNT pilot currently underway in the borough. TNT have contracts to deliver business and government department mail on a trial basis in K&C as part of a pilot that  includes Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham.

The petition states that, “In North Kensington we have seen post abandoned in the streets, bushes and in the entrances of blocks of flats. Letters are lost, delayed, mis-delivered and stolen. This can have a devastating effect on local businesses and residents waiting for cheques, job offers, hospital appointments, contracts etc”.

Many of these letters can contain disability appointment dates, cold weather payment cheques, debit cards, and all manner of sensitive financial, social security and other information useful to criminals and scammers who will take any opportunity to rob our residents. The evidence suggests that when TNT deliveries go wrong, their complaints and redelivery systems are inadequate, their constant promises to better brief operatives to deliver mail properly and learn from their mistakes comes to nothing, and residents and business are left angry and frustrated.

Councillor Pat Mason said, “For the sake of our residents I hope the Council will seriously examine how TNT’s unacceptable delivery failures are leaving them exposed to interrupted payments, thieves and scammers. I have personally seen enough and believe they should be booted out of the borough”.

Click ‘Thanks but No Thanks to TNT’ link in sidebar to the right to sign petition.

22.11.12

Save Wornington Green: Exclusive interview with an original architect of the estate

Councillor Emma Dent Coad with Peter Deakins

Everyday’s a good day to campaign on something you believe in. Even more so when it’s an issue as important as saving 1,700 residents homes in Wornington Green, at the top end of Portobello Road…

The Conservative-run borough’s planning committee decided last Tuesday to allow the 538 social rented houses on the estate to be knocked down over 12 years, to include 300 privately owned homes.

This is just another example of just how out-of-touch Borough planning is, when it comes to the community of North Kensington. Labour has backed local residents, who believe that knocking down the estate and displacing 1,700 people, to make way for an additionl 300 private homes fetching £300,000 for a 1 bedroom and £1.2 million for a town house, effectively ruins our community for a decade.

At the committee hearing, all of the Labour Councillors opposed the redevelopment and sided with the majority of residents. It is worth noting that every single Councillor that voted in favour of redevelopment were Conservatives. Even though North Kensington remains largely Labour, with no Conservative Councillors.

In response, Labour Councillor Emma Dent Coad, invited the architect of one of the 1960s blocks, Peter Deakins, to come down to Portobello this morning and speak about his views on the redevelopment plans.

Colville Ward candidate Amir Akhrif, was there to film the interview.

If you’d be so kind, do us a little favour next time you look at your street, whether you live on an estate or not. Ask yourself one simple question… “do you feel secure that the Council will protect your home against property developers?”….

After the Council’s decision last Tuesday, we don’t feel secure anymore. That’s why we need Councillors who can sit on these committees and make decisions that listen to local peoples views. That is what Labour intends to do. That is why we are standing for election in May. That is why we are asking for your vote.

“Power back to the people, not to the property developers”…

Written by Amir Akhrif. For more information, you can read his blog at http://amirakhrif.wordpress.com