Cabinet changes for the coming year

Madam Mayor

Welcome and congratulations on your new position. We look forward to you presiding over our business for the forthcoming year.

Traditionally, this is the meeting (Council AGM Wed 24 May) where we make new appointments and announce changes. This year is no exception, as you will see from the papers laid around the chamber I am proposing a number of changes tonight. Continue reading

Cherry blossoms – the loveliest of trees


Cherry blossoms

‘Loveliest of trees, the cherry now…’ wrote A.E. Housman about cherry blossoms and in the springtime it is hard to disagree.


Strolling up to Notting Hill Gate the other day I decide to go the back way by which I mean I went up Vicarage Gate rather than Kensington Church Street. Continue reading

We tried something different and it was rather good

Our last Council meeting was a bit different.  Rather than the Council chamber, we opted for the less intimidating small hall; rather than the declarations, petitions and motions that are the stuff of the normal agenda, we focussed instead on a single issue.  And rather than Councillors holding sway we invited in residents and gave them the floor. Continue reading

Well-deserved recognition for our Noise and Nuisance Team


The Noise and Nuisance Team

One of the biggest bugbears for residents of the Royal Borough is a thoughtlessly noisy neighbour or building works that disrupt what should be the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. We get lots of complaints about noise, which is not that surprising given just how densely populated Kensington and Chelsea is.


Now, I think it’s important to recognise that, in reality, you can’t live in the middle of a world city and expect the tranquillity of a Hebridean island. You also have to be realistic and accept that there will be building works and that neighbours, from time- to-time, may have a party. Continue reading

Our fight to preserve local valued services

Every now and again the fascinating film Victim gets an outing on TV.  But there is no need to wait until then to see it because the entire thing is on YouTube.

It stars Dirk Bogarde and the beautiful Sylvia Sims, her of Ice Cold in Alex.  Sylvia plays Dirk’s wife with a sadness borne of the fact that she knows the man she loves can never quite return her love in full.  Continue reading

Why the Council has taken steps to protect the borough’s launderettes

Back in my university days I’d pop into my local launderette when I was down to my last pair of socks and a visit home to Mum’s washing machine skills wasn’t on the horizon for a few weeks.

I’d often while away a Sunday afternoon people-watching, reading the newspapers and enjoying the chance to switch off for an hour and completely relax.

Back in the day there was a launderette on every high street.  It was a phenomenon reflected in the popular culture of the time, when a TV commercial set in one rescued the ailing sales of Levi 501s.  Even Dot Cotton’s fictional launderette in the soap opera EastEnders has been the backdrop for countless dramas and revelations.

In 1980 there were around 50 launderettes in Kensington and Chelsea but today just 18 remain.  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