Reaffirming our commitment to vulnerable residents

Caring for the vulnerable in our community means support must exist to help them remain at home for as long as possible.

The adage ‘Home is where the heart is’ rings true for all of us.  Our homes after all are places where life happens; where great memories are made of happy times with our family and friends.   We all have things we cherish about our homes – from a garden view, a comfortable chair or simply the sigh of relief we all feel closing the door after a busy day.

For older people and those living with complex needs, they are also places of dignity and independence.  We know that staying at home means remaining part of the community and being able to pop to the local shop or chatting with neighbours can really help to reduce loneliness and isolation.   Continue reading

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Claims of asset stripping are junk

The proper answer to recent claims of asset stripping is show me the teapot.

Asset stripping is a less serious charge than social cleansing I suppose and for that at least I am grateful.  But it’s irritating nonetheless that yet again an ugly charge has been levelled against the Council that has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Call me old-fashioned but I think serious claims ought to be backed up by serious evidence.  Cleverer men than I have made the same point, and far more elegantly.  Carl Sagan said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.  Christopher Hitchens offered us Hitchen’s Razor: what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.  But my personal favourite is Russell’s teapot.  Bertrand Russell pointed out that it is really up to the person who says there is a celestial teapot orbiting the Sun to prove it, not for me to disprove it.

Now I know these big-brained chaps were making a larger point, but their logic is just as sound on the somewhat smaller stage of Kensington and Chelsea.  If you are going to protest outside North Kensington Library saying that the Council is “closing the library”; that it is leasing the building to its friends “on the cheap” and “asset stripping the community of all its public spaces” then there ought to be some sort of evidential test to pass before your claims are taken seriously.  Let’s apply that test now, taking the largest claim first. Continue reading

Basement controls now the toughest in Great Britain

For more years than I care to remember, whenever I have been walking down almost any street in the borough I’ve been struck by the number of hoardings dotted everywhere.

We all know that, as the Capital grows, development comes in waves to accommodate it.  And land here is not only scarce but exceptionally expensive and with restrictions limiting how high you can build above ground, digging down has increasingly become the new norm.

In fact the number of applications our planning department received to dig down rose exponentially – from just 46 planning applications in 2001, to 450 in 2013. Not only had the number increased dramatically, so had the scale, with two and three storey basements not uncommon. Continue reading