24.6.14 (letter published in The Standard, left)
Councillor Emma Dent Coad Leader of Opposition Labour Group says:
‘Kensington and Chelsea is an exceptional borough in many ways, and the way that property prices have rocketed has little to do with their intrinsic value, and more to do with a global poker game for the super-rich; at some point this game will fold and the players will move on.
‘The Council Tax system as it currently functions is anachronistic, and works as yet another effective subsidy to landlords. This is in addition to capital gains tax relief, lack of property tax, and the ease of obtaining buy to let mortgages at preferential rates based on interest only. In most other European countries the owner pays the tax, not the beleaguered rental occupier; there is a logic to this as it is the owner who profits long-term.
‘The system currently being considered by Ed Balls would have unintended consequences in Kensington and Chelsea, and we have many questions and concerns that we have already made public. We have 12,000 homes worth over £2m in the borough, and 7,000 of those have been in the same ownership since 1999; some of these are families, retired people, or others on fixed incomes. The prospect of a Mansion Tax as currently envisaged would drive out these families and long-term residents, whether owners or renters, who tell us ‘it’s my borough too’.
‘Our counter-proposal would consider a revaluation of property, and setting more Council Tax bands, so some would pay less, and others more. We are working on the detail of this, while we wait for more detail on how a proposed Mansion Tax would work.
‘It cannot be right that the Sultan of Brunei pays just £10/week more for his 16-bed mansion than our Mrs Braithwaite in North Kensington for her three-bedroom Council home.’
The ten posts highlighting different areas of inequality in K&C were posted one per day in the run-up to the Council Budget-setting meeting on 5 March 2014. The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.
The statements are based on evidence, not dogma or the Daily Mail. Links to sources can be found below.
Minimum Income Standard
Recipients of Pension Credit
Residents of a North Kensington estate are furious as Kensington and Chelsea Council has refused to intervene to protect a popular children’s skate-park from demolition. Wornington Green estate, currently undergoing an unwanted re-development, has already lost precious play-space since the Council gave the developers – Catalyst Housing Group – permission to build on half the local park. This latest outrage – which came without warning or consultation – will see the skate-park replaced with Portacabins right at the start of the summer holidays.
At the same time as spending £1 million on a nine-day party in Exhibition Road to celebrate the Olympics, the Council is presiding over the loss of sporting facilities for under-privileged children just when they are most needed. As demolishing the skate-park without providing replacement facilities is not part of the approved construction plan, the Council could have intervened to save it.
Local Councillor Emma Dent Coad said:
“It would be disgraceful to demolish a children’s playground at any time; to do so just before the summer holidays is an outrage. The irony of destroying sporting facilities for young people in the opening week of the Olympics makes this doubly sickening. The Council is spending £1 million on a nine-day booze-fuelled bender for tourists in Exhibition Road, but turning its back on poorer residents.
“Catalyst Housing Group says that residents should understand that demolishing a skate-park and nearby mature trees just before the summer holidays is for their benefit. However, there are other sites, currently used as temporary car parks, that are available instead. Sadly, both the Council and Catalyst are riding rough-shod over opportunities for healthy play by young children in favour of staff car parks and a mega booze-fest in Exhibition Road. Frankly, we’ve had enough.”