Tag Archives: Kensington and Chelsea

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.

Kensington Labour fights to protect residents

Cuts will hit the poor and vulnerable worst and first

Plans include replacing the Mayoral Bentley with a Prius

–  brutal cuts are proposed by Kensington and Chelsea, ‘the richest borough in Europe’

A £.5m Youth Fund, £5m Housing Benefit hardship fund, £.5m for the voluntary sector to support employment opportunities, and free swimming are some of the highlights of the K&C Labour Opposition Group’s alternative revenue Budget. The alternative capital Budget funds the renovation of Grenfell Tower, creates new social rented homes, researches the feasibility of a Heath and Well-Being Centre in Golborne,  and of attracting the Dyson School of Design Innovation, and sets up a shop for the new credit union. All expenditure is fully funded from existing resources.

In advance of the Budget meeting at full Council on 7 March, the borough’s Labour Opposition has attacked many of the cuts this year as ‘unnecessary and vindictive’, stating that the poorest and most vulnerable residents will be hit ‘worst and first’. This year for the first time, Golborne in North Kensington has been declared the poorest ward in London for multi-deprivation, jointly with an area of Haringey.

Deputy Labour Group Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said: ‘There is no excuse for such depths of poverty in the borough. This Council is so rich that its Reserves have Reserves; this is no exaggeration. Added to that, every year they bump up the running costs and put ‘underspends’ into a Capital Reserve. That may be acceptable in times of plenty, but when government funding is being reduced and our poorest are getting poorer, these practices are indefensible.’

Every year the Labour Opposition Group writes an alternative Budget that focuses on their top priorities, presenting a fully balanced budget from  savings made elsewhere and judicious use of Reserves. Rather than the Council’s proposals which cut nursery and early years provision, play services and homework clubs, youth services, adult social care, home care, mental health and learning disability provision – as well as sports for schools – the Labour Group has reversed many of these cuts and bolstered others sorely needed in time of continuing economic uncertainty and unemployment.

The counter these cuts, the Labour Opposition Group is proposing to:

–      Pay a one-off efficiency dividend of £50 to Band A to Band D Council Tax payers

–      Set up a £500,000 Youth Fund to replace EMA

–      Set up hardship funds for: those unable to afford community alarm and telecare services; those facing Housing Benefit cuts; and a voluntary sector regeneration fund to help residents into work

–       Reinstate free swimming for children and the over 60s

–      offer financial help to the poorest families for early years services

–      enhance some mental health services

–      renovate Grenfell Tower next to the new Kensington Academy

–      build new homes for social rent

–      research possibilities for the William Rogers Health and Well-Being Centre in Golborne ward

–      and work with the Dyson Foundation to find a possible site for the proposed Dyson School of Design Innovation

Labour Group Leader Cllr Judith Blakeman asks: ‘Why are we still planning to subsidise Opera Holland Park to the tune of £1m a year, paying £800 a day to clean Exhibition Road, and running two polluting and extravagant Mayoral cars, while residents in private sector housing are being evicted daily and our young people are economising on food to get to school or college?

‘There was room in our Budget to fund a cut in Council Tax, but we decided against as it would have had to be re-instated in future years. Our alternative Budget establishes hardship funds for those most damaged by Coalition government policies that disproportionately attack the poorest people, and reduces cuts to front line services.’

The Council’s most unwelcome cuts over the past two years can be seen on this googlemap:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=205639043824952439521.0004987e92215751ebe89

 

 

It’s a Mayoral Election not a Beauty Contest

As Labour’s GLA candidate for the West Central constituency (which includes Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and my home borough of K&C), I am keen to run a campaign that focuses on issues that matter to the people of West Central. Between now and May’s election, I will be listening to the residents of West Central to find out about their priorities. I will also be promoting the issues high on my list, such as freezing public transport fares, promoting construction of more social and affordable housing in West Central, fighting Tory cuts to the number of police on our streets and promoting the London Living Wage.
Election outcomes matter. The choice that we make next year as Londoners will have a huge impact on public services in our city, and on the success of the Tory-led government in radically reducing the role of government. With Ken Livingstone, we can protect our public services and the number of police on our streets, freeze transport fares and promote the construction of more social and affordable housing. With Boris Johnson, we can protect the interests of the rich, cut public services and the number of police on our streets, pay higher transport fares and continue to see social housing in West Central disappear.
Like many thousands of Londoners, I’m an immigrant (I grew up in the United States). The last presidential election that took place while I was resident in the United States was the Bush-Gore contest of 2000. Though it seems hard to imagine now, many people said in 2000 that it didn’t matter whether Bush or Gore won because there was “no difference” between the two. Some people said that they were going to vote for Bush because he would be “more fun to have a beer with” than Gore. I think that history has proven that George Bush turned out to be a very different sort of President than Al Gore would have been. Bush’s disastrous administration demonstrates that the decisions that elected leaders make can have a profound impact on our lives. Likewise, many people are finding out that there is a great deal of difference between the Conservative and Labour administrations. If you want to find out whether elections outcomes matter, ask the students who have lost the support of Education Maintenance Allowances and are facing impossible university tuition; people who depend upon public services that are being cut; and people who are struggling to pay higher public transport fares.
And I’ve got news for anyone who plans on voting for Boris because they think he is the more likeable candidate: the chances of your ever spending time with Boris Johnson in a social setting are very small. If you think he is a fun guy, then maybe you should invite him to your next barbecue, but that doesn’t mean that he is the better choice for Mayor of London. Frankly, I find Boris’s Bullingdon Club background repulsive and I doubt I would have much in common with him one on one, but that is beside the point. I’m voting for Ken Livingstone because he has the policies, as well as the experience, that London needs in troubled times.
Todd Foreman is a Councillor for Notting Barns Ward in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Labour’s candidate for the West Central GLA constituency in 2012.