Shine a light on community heroes

Since I was first elected to the Council in 1986 I have met many people who quietly and without any fanfare go to extraordinary lengths to help others in their community.

A common feature among these civic-minded residents is a reluctance to seek the limelight and shout about their achievements.

In fact this is one of the reasons why we introduced the Mayor’s Awards 16 years ago, so we could recognise the contributions these local heroes make.  So far about 100 people have received awards. Continue reading

North Ken and our ambitions to restore traditional street patterns

There is a lot to enjoy about The Blue Lamp, the 1950 crime drama made by Ealing Studios.  There’s the cast for one thing.  The excellent Jack Warner plays PC George Dixon, a wise and respected veteran bobby.  Although he is shot dead during the film, his character had such appeal to the British public that he was resurrected for the TV series Dixon of Dock Green Dixon of Dock Green which ran for 21 years.

As indicated, poor old PC Dixon is cruelly gunned down, when he happens upon a robbery at a local cinema.  As you would expect, he tries to convince the villain to ‘come along quietly now lad’ but unfortunately he is up against a twitchy psychopath played by a young Dirk Bogarde.  The Blue Lamp is supposed to be ‘social realism’ but its insights into the 1950s criminal underworld seem to have been provided by RADA’s cockney research department – ‘cor blimey guv’nor, and no mistake.’

What is very real, and the real star of the show, is west London circa 1950.  Paddington Green, Edgware Road, Westbourne Park, Harrow Road, Little Venice, the obligatory shot of Piccadilly Circus at night – all of them feature and are fascinating to see. Continue reading

Get out to work out

I don’t know about you but I tend to develop a bit of an extra spring in my step in the weeks that follow the clocks going forward.  Brighter evenings have returned offering you more time for an early evening stroll around our beautiful borough, or perhaps a walk past some of its famous landmarks, or a chance to see trees, shrubs and flowers begin to come into bloom in our award-winning parks.

Something else you will spot in a few of our parks, and on one of our estates, is an outdoor gym.  Now, from a distance these gyms may do a passable impression of a trendy art installation, but trust me, they are there to help you work off a few calories, tone your muscles and keep in shape.

There’s some impressive sounding kit involved.  In Holland Park for instance you will find ‘Body Twisters’ and ‘Roller Back Massages’ next to ‘Parallel Bars’ and ‘Leg Presses’ all free to use and designed for people of all abilities to have a go. Continue reading

Our Children’s Services judged to be Outstanding

We’ve had some spirit-lifting news recently.  The Ofsted inspectors have said that Kensington and Chelsea’s Children’s Services are the very best in the country following their rigorous inspection of the department in January.

Now, when I mention Ofsted to my friends they tend, not unreasonably, to associate it with all things to do with schools.  This is hardly surprising given the attention paid by politicians, parents and the media to reports about how individual schools are performing.

But Ofsted also shines a light on services that are not always as visible as schools but equally important, in fact often vital, to how many young people and their families develop and are supported. Continue reading