My sincerest thanks to all

Christmas is almost upon us and I hope that all residents have a very merry and peaceful holiday.

Of course, while most of us are relaxing and enjoying our Christmas Day, hopefully with family and friends, there will be a small but dedicated group of people who are working to ensure others are able to appreciate this special time of year.

In our own Council there will be staff working and on call.  Often these officers work with some of our most vulnerable residents – be they children in the care of the Council or elderly residents either in their own homes or care homes in the borough. Continue reading

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Maybe the spending review has offered a glimmer of light

The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement felt different.  It felt big.  It was certainly chock-full of announcements. But it can take weeks for the mists to clear and the real impact to be understood.  We are not there yet so what I am about to say is hedged with caveats and qualifications, the biggest of which is that we still need to see the detail of the local government settlement which usually arrives mid-December.

But, on the face of it, the spending review leaves local authorities in a slightly better place.  The axe is still going to fall, of course, but with a bit of luck it may now do so below the knee. Continue reading

Growing communities with ‘aplotment’ gardens

Kensington Olympia Gardens

Platform turned ‘plotform’ at Kensington Olympia Station

It is always reassuring when you get confirmation that you are on the right track and it’s even sweeter when you find you are ahead of the curve.  I experienced the latter recently when I read a report from the Journal of Public Health which advised councils to provide allotment space for people living in cities and towns – as just half an hour at the allotment can provide significant health benefits.

Now before you think that’s a very tall order for a small densely populated borough in the centre of London let me tell you that for the past six years the Council has been creating – what some residents term – ‘aplotments’ on unused scraps of land with the result that we now have some 64 community gardens, over 400 plots and well over 1,000 residents enjoying gardening regularly. Continue reading