The reasons why in principle Crossrail 2 could be a real benefit for Chelsea

As readers of this column will know, the Council is a longstanding supporter of the principle of having a Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea.

There are a number of reasons for that support and I’ll give you a quick reprise of them now. Continue reading

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Supporting the arts helps recognize our community’s cultural heritage

It’s not exactly a secret that financially speaking the Council is going through a difficult time.  Our funding has shrunk significantly over the past five years and it is plain that it will continue to dwindle during this parliament too.

Up to now I have been able to tell residents that thanks to sharing services with our municipal neighbours, more dynamic stewardship of our property estate and some really hard work by our officers, the frequency and quality of our services has mostly held up remarkably well.  Sadly that cannot go on forever.  Eventually, the year-on-year cuts will begin to become more visible.  As that happens more questions will undoubtedly be asked about why we have chosen to fund A rather than B, why have we cut X but not Y. That brings me neatly to spending on the arts. Continue reading

Borough’s Victorian infrastructure is getting quite an overhaul

I read recently that a cinema in Bournemouth was set to show Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 35 years after the local council prevented the film being screened in the town.  Controversial and funny it provided some comedy gold, including the famous ‘What did the Romans ever do for us’ line which prompted the response: “Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Continue reading

Gentrification can sometimes be a very good thing

For me, cereal is the breakfast you have when you’ve forgotten to buy any bread. The mere idea of going to a cereal café and forking out three or four quid for a bowl of dried corn bits is well, loopy and goes totally against the wholegrain. But each to his or her own I say.

If Golden Grahams or Frosted Cheerios are your breakfast bag, who am I to judge? So it was with red-faced apoplexy that I read in the newspapers that a mob of 200, many of them masked, recently attacked the Cereal Killer Café in Shoreditch. Continue reading

Reaching and engaging with growing groups of older residents

Have you ever had that moment when you look in the mirror and see your father looking back at you? Only it’s not, it’s you. And along with the realisation that ‘yes you do look like the old fellow’, you twig that crikey this means you’re getting older and how did that happen?

I’ve celebrated enough birthdays so I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m not getting any younger and that inevitably, within this decade, I will join the 6.8 million men aged 60 years and over.

In fact, within 15 years, it is forecast that there will be 9.6 million men aged over 60 in the UK, according to a report from the International Longevity Centre UK and Independent Age.

The issue facing charities and councils like this one are how to reach and engage with this growing group of older men, especially those at risk of loneliness and isolation. Continue reading