Kensington bucks the trend with 6% swing

2015 Election swing chart9.5.15

After a devastating night for Labour nationally, the political picture in London is very different, as we have seen.

Not least is the encouraging result for Kensington, which saw an increased turnout and an impressive 6% swing to Labour.

Many people imagine that Kensington is all footballers, plutocrats and aristocrats, but Labour Councillors work in some of the poorest wards in London and know the real Kensington is very mixed.

Having selected our ‘dream candidate’??????????????????????????????? Dr Rod Abouharb in October 2013, Kensington Labour’s Action Teams set to work immediately, and including local elections 2014 knocked on 30,000 doors and had 6,000 conversations. Our local manifesto, called ‘One Kensington’, reflecting the main concerns of the electorate, was launched in November 2014. Dr Rod – as he became known – became a recognisable face on the streets, attended surgeries and public meetings, wrote a column in the local paper, and appeared regularly in the press.

K&C Labour Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad said:

‘The real Kensington is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the country after five years of Tory rule. Inequalities are frankly shocking, and Tory complacency in the face of food banks, evictions and families and communities torn apart is despicable.

‘Local Councillors dread the next five years of Tory rule, but will fight for our residents and communities. As local resident Tony Benn put it:

“There is no final victory. There is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up!”’

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Kensington Labour General Election Manifesto

One Kensington intro

I have developed a 10 Point Plan to ensure that the local, national and international interests of Kensington are heard in Westminster.  As your voice in Parliament I pledge to:

  1. MAINTAIN DIVERSITY IN KENSINGTON

We must keep our communities together.  Kensington needs housing for residents that is genuinely affordable for a range of income levels.  I support rent control and security for private tenants. Not only does it make economic sense for people to be able to live close to where they work, but there is plenty of evidence that communities from diverse backgrounds, with mixed incomes who are integrated have much greater social cohesion and stability. To keep Kensington affordable for a variety of people, I support a London Living Wage for all workers.

  1. PROTECT AND IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT

I will work to create cleaner air and safer streets by greening the Westway.  We also need safe cycle-ways and we must implement the Cycle Superhighway.  As your voice in Westminster, I will campaign to end diesel emissions from trains, taxis, vans and lorries and work to improve air quality.  For the safety of Kensington’s residents, especially children, we must implement a 20mph speed limit on borough roads.

  1. SUPPORT ROBUST USE OF PLANNING REGULATIONS

I will ensure that development enhances the borough and benefits all its residents.  This means campaigning to continue reductions in the scope and size of basement excavations, their noise, and their disruption to neighbours.  We should protect our built heritage throughout Kensington. We need truly affordable housing in Kensington; all S106 affordable housing must be built on site. We must encourage neighbourhood forums so local voices can be heard in all areas of planning. We need a transparent and locally accountable system for all planning decisions that responds to the concerns of residents.

  1. PROMOTE FAIRNESS AND EQUALITY

As your MP I vow to make sure the needs of less affluent and vulnerable residents are represented in Westminster.  I will campaign for affordable energy bills, lower childcare costs, and to save the Independent Living Fund. When governments need to raise more money we must be willing to ask those with the broadest shoulders to contribute more; this is why I support revaluation and re-banding of property for Council Tax instead of a ‘Mansion Tax’. This is a long-standing policy choice of Kensington Labour. I also support the reversal of the Bedroom tax, which is an unfair tax on many of the poorest in society.

  1. DEFEND OUR NHS

We must defend our NHS from the threat of privatisation.  Britain has one of the best and most affordable healthcare systems in the world.  I pledge to consider ways of making it more efficient while maintaining the quality of care that makes our system great. We must improve local NHS and mental health services, and provide affordable social care.

I promise to fight against any attempts at privatisation.  I will listen to the suggestions of doctors and nurses, not lawyers and politicians.

  1. ECONOMY

My academic expertise convinces me that we need to think differently from the coalition government about how to grow our economy and generate well-paid, secure employment.  Austerity fails to encourage sustainable economic growth. We need to focus on investing in high quality apprenticeships.  We must ensure an equality of esteem and good pay for those who want to take up vocational training and careers. These decisions will help people realise their potential and encourage a diversified economy. We also need to use the power of government to encourage economic growth in times of recession and then make sure government saves money during periods of growth to protect the public in times of economic difficulty. We must also make sure that the backbone of our economy like mass transit is affordable and run in the public interest. This is why I support the nationalisation of the railway system to ensure  investment and bring ticket prices down.

  1. INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT

International trade agreements can generate jobs and encourage economic growth for partner countries. However, how they are negotiated and the protections that are included in them are critical to whether these agreements are beneficial for working families in the U.K. The ongoing TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US need much greater scrutiny and prior agreement that we will not reduce environmental or labour protections as part of the deal.

We need fundamental reform of policies used to encourage development and economic growth throughout the world, including our stance on the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is investment not austerity that guides countries back to growth and productivity.

  1. EUROPEAN UNION

The EU was originally designed to forge economic and social links between European nations. The EU is important for the UK economy; over 50% of our exports are to the EU. Millions of jobs rely upon our membership. Our economy is also much stronger because of the skilled workers that come to the UK. Though we need to ensure that workers in the UK are not undercut and workers from abroad are not exploited by unscrupulous employers, we must remain in the EU to maintain a vibrant economy in the United Kingdom.

  1. DEFENCE AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

I disagree with the renewal of Trident. These weapons do not make us any safer, in fact most evidence points to increased likelihood of major nuclear accidents and inadvertent nuclear war.

Kensington’s diverse population is especially concerned with international issues. An equitable and just solution for Palestine is a lynchpin of broader peace in the Middle East.  A Palestinian state based on the 1967 ceasefire lines would be an important first step.

  1. REPRESENTATION: MY PLEDGE

Kensington residents need a locally based, visible, responsive and representative Member of Parliament. As your MP I promise not to take any paid directorships. Being a responsive Member of Parliament is a full time job.  Kensington’s residents deserve an MP who will be fully engaged as their representative.

I will publicise and hold regular surgeries in the north, centre and south of Kensington. For those residents who have difficulty travelling; I am your representative and I will come to you.

 

 

 

 

‘CYNICAL AND HYPOCRITICAL COUNCIL’ refuses to pay LLW for fifth time

Cllr Robert Thompson26.1.15

(left, Cllr Robert Thompson)

Self-professed ‘richest borough in the universe’ Kensington and Chelsea has refused Labour’s demands to implement the London Living Wage for the fifth time of asking.

Despite massive reserves of £283m, accumulated in part from revenue ‘savings’ across the Council, a meeting of Full Council on 21 January refused once again to adopt what the Mayor of London calls ‘what you need to live on and feed your family’.

Angry scenes between Labour and Conservative Cabinet members included an arrogant statement from Cabinet Members that the Council paid all its direct staff the LLW – ignoring the fact that all low-paid Council staff have now been ‘outsourced’ to private providers in a penny-pinching exercise that has seen some employees barely scratch a living at £6.13/hr minimum wage, while some work long shifts to make up their wages. One worker told us he couldn’t afford the fares to and from work, so walked an hour at the beginning and end of a gruelling eight-hour shift of manual work so he could put food on the family table.

In bizarre scenes reminiscent of feudal times, one senior Conservative stated: ‘Well I haven’t looked this up but I bet some get paid time off to go back to their countries’ – a statement both ignorant of statutory holiday pay, and bordering on racism.

A previous demand in 2012 for a decent wage for a decent day’s work prompted the following tortured statement from the Cabinet Member for Finance: ‘It is the role of the national government, through the social security system, to top up earnings in relation to family circumstances.’

Labour Leader Cllr Emma Dent Coad, seconding the Motion, said: ‘So the Council expects the government to subsidise their contractors offering low pay, while stigmatising those who apply for welfare. A responsible Council would not allow their contractors to reap billions paying poverty wages to our people. The Council’s hypocrisy is breath-taking.’

Cllr Robert Thompson, proposing the Motion, said: ‘More than being good for business, good for families and good for society, the payment of a living wage is fundamentally a moral issue.’

Kensington Labour ‘Mansion Tax’ comment in The Standard

Letter in Standard 25.6.1424.6.14 (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.’

 

 

 

 

END OF TERM REPORT: shameful results with inevitable consequences for K&C Tories

END OF TERM REPORT

 

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.

Links:

Ward profiles

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/communityandlocallife/2011censusoutcomes.aspx

Overcrowding

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/pdf/Families_housing.pdf

Neighbourhood statistics

http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/

Income inequality

http://www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk/indicators/topics/inequality/pay-inequalities-within-london/

Minimum Income Standard

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/crsp/mis/

http://www.londonspovertyprofile.org.uk/key-facts/overview-of-london-boroughs/

Recipients of Pension Credit

http://www.data.london.gov.uk

TOP TEN TORY FAILS #10 – from ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’

 

Every day between 20 Feb and 5 March, when they will announce their alternative Budget, Kensington Labour Group will announce an area of extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

Weds 5 March

 

#10, 5.3.14 olderpeople10. CARE OF ELDERLY

Kensington and Chelsea is home to the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ of Royal Hospital, where former soldiers can live out their days. The borough has the highest average life expectancy in the country, of 82 years; but there is a gap of 20 years between the north and south of the borough

20% of all our pensioners, that’s 5,770 people, receive pension credit

The incidence of diabetes has risen by 1,034 since 2010 and malnutrition is rising Meanwhile, the Council is cutting funding to lunch clubs

While some people are prone to diabetes, it is associated with poor nutrition. Lunch clubs in the borough have been closed, and others are having funding reduced, while malnutrition among older people admitted to hospital is on the rise.

TOP TEN TORY FAILURES #5 – from ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’

Every day between 20 Feb and 5 March, when they will announce their alternative Budget, Kensington Labour Group will announce an area of extreme inequality in Kensington and Chelsea ‘the most unequal borough in Britain’.

The borough known as ‘The Royal Bank of Kensington and Chelsea’ has £180m in Reserves – and some of the poorest residents in London.

 

#5, 26.2.14 income, LLWopera (2)Weds 26 Feb

5. INCOME INEQUALITY

The median income in Kensington and Chelsea is now £101,600, the highest in the country; this is still not enough to buy a home at the average cost of £1,178,000. However the mean average income is £36,000, and one-third of all workers, the majority in North Kensington earn below £20,000.

World’s End estate, income inequality = worst (£13,125 equivalent of a year at minimum wage)

Hobury Street, Stanley ward = best (cc£100,000)

Cross King’s Road in this area and you go from the best to the worst income in London.

The Council has refused to pay its own low-paid workers London Living Wage of £8.80, or to insist its contractors pay the same, stating it would cost £1m; this is nearly equal to the sum the Council underwrites for the losses of running Opera Holland Park.