This week, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) warned residents in North Kensington that ground level Ozone breached safety levels as permitted under UK and European Union air pollution laws.
Ozone, a major component in the formation of air pollution smogs, destroys lung tissue, cases asthma and respiratory attacks, affects the eyes and is especially harmful to babies, young children and the elderly. The current alert has been caused by excessive traffic emissions and increased traffic due to the Olympics, the hot weather, and the inability of the government, the Mayor of London or the Council to take effective action to reduce air pollution levels.
Defra says that Ozone levels in North Kensington are High and advise that “Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoor, and particularly if they experience symptoms. People with asthma may find they need to use their inhaler more often. Older people should also reduce physical exertion”.
Councillor Pat Mason said, “The health of 2 million Londoners and thousands of people in the Borough with asthma and respiratory problems are being put at risk because the government, the Mayor and the Council have no meaningful plans in place to reduce traffic levels and the harmful pollutants they spew out”
“A whole generation of babies and young people are being put at risk of living as asthma sufferers, and having their lungs permanently damaged while the government does nothing except issue pollution alerts and tells residents to hide inside their homes until it is over”
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.’
Cuts will hit the poor and vulnerable worst and first
– 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:
Do you live in a household that earns an average of £150,000 a year? Do you want to buy an average house in Kensington? Sorry mate, you’re too poor…
The wonderful, hardworking people at Shelter have released their latest Housing League Table, and yup, you’ve guessed it, Kensington has ranked as one of the worst for affordable housing in London. No surprise there, but some of the figures are eye watering!
You would have to earn £158,400 per year in order to afford to buy an average-priced house in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea area.
There are 6,687 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in Kensington – at current letting rates this will take 11.20 years to clear.
Independent experts say your area needs to build 3,663 homes per year. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea planned for 85 new affordable homes to be provided in your area last year.
Thank you Shelter for exposing the Council’s complete and utter failure in providing affordable housing.
At long last, young people in North Kensington are to get a new Secondary School. The site earmarked for the non-denominational Academy with its own sports facilities is by Kensington Leisure Centre sports pitches. The Labour government’s Building School’s for the Future programme has guaranteed funding of £30 million…
Local resident and local Labour candidate Beinazir Lasharie says “for years many of our local young people have had to go to schools outside the Borough. They will go to school in North Kensington thanks to many years of lobbying by Labour Councillors and local parents”.
Yet our Liberal Democrat opponents try to claim responsibility for the new school in their newsletters. We have a track record of achievement and don’t need to take credit for others hard work. We would like to ask for them to exactly just ‘how’ they achieved what they have claimed?