Delighted at New Year’s honour for Clare

clarechamberlain-webIt’s safe to say that 2016 was a good one for Andy Murray, or Sir Andy as he is now. A Wimbledon title, an Olympic Gold, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, a baby girl and then to cap it all a letter from the Palace requesting him to attend an investiture.

The New Year’s Honours list makes for great conversations and occasional controversy. To my mind it is a wonderful way to recognise hundreds of people, right across the country and indeed right across society, whose efforts have had a positive impact. Whether that’s entrepreneurs creating jobs, sports stars providing wonderful role models of determination and dedication, scientists broadening our knowledge or someone quietly volunteering to help the lonely or elderly, the honours system is a way for a society to show its appreciation and gratitude.

Given my admiration of the honours system I was particularly delighted to discover that the current and a former head of our Children’s Services department had both been appointed CBEs in the recent New Year’s Honours list. Continue reading

We tried something different and it was rather good

Our last Council meeting was a bit different.  Rather than the Council chamber, we opted for the less intimidating small hall; rather than the declarations, petitions and motions that are the stuff of the normal agenda, we focussed instead on a single issue.  And rather than Councillors holding sway we invited in residents and gave them the floor. Continue reading

Well-deserved recognition for our Noise and Nuisance Team

noise-and-nuisance-team-award

The Noise and Nuisance Team

One of the biggest bugbears for residents of the Royal Borough is a thoughtlessly noisy neighbour or building works that disrupt what should be the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. We get lots of complaints about noise, which is not that surprising given just how densely populated Kensington and Chelsea is.

 

Now, I think it’s important to recognise that, in reality, you can’t live in the middle of a world city and expect the tranquillity of a Hebridean island. You also have to be realistic and accept that there will be building works and that neighbours, from time- to-time, may have a party. Continue reading

Meanwhile Gardens – celebrating one man’s vision

meanwhile-gardens-40th-anniversary-1-webRegular readers will have by now picked up on the fact that I’m a champion of the borough’s parks and open spaces. They are very dear to my heart. I admit that my time served as Cabinet Member with responsibility for our great green spaces has given me some real insight and appreciation into just how valuable they are and the hard work and care that goes into maintaining them.

When you’re such a small, densely packed borough as ours you have to cherish your outdoor space. We simply don’t have a lot of it. And if it hadn’t been for the vision and drive of one man 40 years ago we’d have even less.

I had the pleasure of attending an event recently to mark the 40th anniversary of the evocatively named Meanwhile Gardens in North Kensington. These wonderful gardens owe their existence to the drive of Jamie McCullough, a sculptor who wanted to see if some derelict land could be turned into a park. At the time, this particular piece of our turf fell under Westminster Council’s jurisdiction and they decided that temporary permission could be given for the gardens – which gave rise to the name ‘Meanwhile’. Continue reading