Food banks are a fine and noble thing

Sometimes in the debating chamber a cloud of unreason seems to descend on my colleagues from the Labour Party. They become emotional, they make speeches that are unwittingly mock-heroic.

It seems to happen whenever they sense an opportunity to demonstrate their superior passion and humanity. It is seldom, if ever, linked to any practical action. There is a new and useful term for this kind of behaviour: virtue signalling.

There was a veritable orgy of virtue signalling just the other week when the subject of food banks came up in debate. Continue reading

Budget speech 2017

Cllr Paget-Brown’s Budget speech Wednesday 8 March 2017

I am delighted to propose the Budget for 2017/18. In doing so I would urge colleagues and the public to study the excellent accompanying document which sets out how this Council accounts for the £409m revenue expenditure which we will undertake in the coming financial year and almost £400m of capital spending over the next four years. How we spend that money is an important determinant of the character of the place in which we live and an indicator of a Council that seeks to create opportunities for everyone to succeed and to shape a borough that is one of the best places to live in London. Continue reading

No class war in Kensington and Chelsea

The Council stands accused on the front page of the Kensington and Chelsea News of engaging in a ‘class war’ over its decision to lease the old North Kensington Library building to a prep school while building a brand new, larger library 50 yards away. The accusation is thrown down by a councillor, but not just any old councillor, oh no, it’s the view of a ‘leading councillor’. Continue reading

Heathrow consultation – make your views known

While I don’t claim to be an expert in the history of aviation a couple of key dates are lodged in my memory.

On the 17 December 1903, Orville Wright did something no human had ever done before by taking to the air in a powered airplane. He flew the prestigious distance of 120 feet at 6.8 miles an hour. There was to be no going back. Wilbur was next up and distances increased and things were never to be the same again. Continue reading

In praise of Westway CT

shopping-service-lr

Shopper service 

I sloped off early the other day, uncharacteristically I can assure you.  The reason was I wanted to watch the presidential inauguration from the comfort of my own sofa.  Anyway there I was, G&T in hand, mixed nuts at the ready, when by way of a warm-up the BBC showed a montage of highlights from previous inaugural speeches.  It was really interesting.  JFK’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you…” was included and so too was Ronald Reagan’s “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”   But the inaugural phrase that really caught my attention was from a president not known for his soaring oratory: George Bush – H not W.

 

At his 1989 inauguration, President Bush spoke about “a thousand points of light” by which he meant the voluntary organisations “spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good”.  It was a fine simile.  I like to think that we in Kensington and Chelsea are similarly blessed with points of light, maybe not thousands of them, but hundreds certainly and sitting there on my sofa one of those that sprang most readily to mind was Westway Community CT, perhaps because I had recently been on a visit there.

Westway CT was 25 years old in 2016.  In that time, it has transformed itself from a small scheme with six minibuses, to a thriving, social enterprise with 48 vehicles, 60 or so employees, a huge pool of volunteers, 500 group members and 2,300 individual members.  But it wasn’t just the scale that impressed me, it was the good they do and how positively they get it done. Continue reading