In praise of Westway CT


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

Taking enforcement action against noise and eyesore

We all share the view that Kensington and Chelsea is a special place to live. It’s a fantastic borough in the world’s best city. From beautiful squares in sought-after residential areas to our wonderful markets, parks and schools there are many reasons why people want to be Royal Borough residents.

An awful lot of work goes into maintaining the quality of life in the borough and, where necessary, bringing people to book when their actions disturb the peace and quiet of a street or create a veritable eyesore.

This week I learned of two cases where action by enforcement officers, from two different departments, tackled a blight on the landscape and a noisy builder who paid no heed to warnings. Continue reading

Sloane Street – we are exploring options

web-sloane-st-south-view-01-fSloane Street has an international reputation as a high-end retail destination. It is also a thriving residential area.

It’s a fabulous street boasting some fine architecture and it also has the wonderful Cadogan Place Gardens which are much loved by residents and the many visitors attracted to the area each day.

Despite this praise of Sloane Street’s virtues, the Council thinks the street has drawbacks and could, with some alterations, be improved. It competes with some of the finest shopping streets in Europe and needs to present an attractive face to both shoppers and residents. This could be done by reducing the dominance of traffic and improving what some refer to as the public realm but many people might recognise as the pavements and street furniture. Continue reading

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