All political leaders are in some way or another marked men and women. The very nature of the job means your decisions, or that of your government or in my case Council, are going to please some but upset others.
You have to learn to live with this but believe me, it can give you sleepless nights, especially when you know a decision you’ve made might incur the wrath of Darth Vadar! Throw in Sherlock Holmes and Dr Who and you know you’re facing some serious opposition.
In my case it’s not these fabulous characters rather the people who have delighted us by playing them, Dave Prowse, Benedict Cumberbatch and Colin Baker who are amongst those the Council has upset. The reason is they were some of the many stars of stage and screen who wanted to save the Kensington Odeon.
Last week our planners, after waiting for campaigners for the cinema to provide evidence to support an application to list the cinema as an Asset of Community Value, could wait no longer and felt there was no realistic prospect of the Friends of the Kensington Odeon bringing the existing building back into use.
It’s worth me pointing out, as it sometimes gets forgotten amongst all the stardust, that the Council actually refused planning permission for this development but our decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate. And just for the record, there will still be a cinema in the new development.
Celebrity campaigns and campaigners make for good media stories and pictures – that is something we are probably more used to in Kensington and Chelsea than most other boroughs. Brian May doesn’t like basements, Felicity Kendal and Mark Knopfler don’t want a Crossrail 2 station on the King’s Road and Bella Freud thinks we are threatening the vibrancy of the Golborne Road community and I could go on.
While all the famous people I’ve mentioned are completely entitled to a view on what the Council is doing, it can seem at times that the views and opinions of the well-known are magnified by the press and broadcasters to an extent where the opinions or voice of the ordinary resident can be crowded out. This is something to guard against.
I have said many times that my job and that of my political colleagues and our officers is to listen carefully to many views and not to place undue weight on one person’s position or opinion just because they may have an Oscar, Bafta or gold disc tucked away at home.
Call me old fashioned but I actually like to get out and about to meet residents in a setting where they can put their concerns to me in an open forum. I do this through a series of meetings called Ask Nick. They are not always an easy ride for me but I value them and you don’t have to be an A-list celebrity to get in. But you don’t have to wait for the next Ask Nick to let me know what you think about an issue or how we are doing – you can email me anytime at Leader@rbkc.gov.uk