Tuesday, 27 June 2017
The parliamentary spokesperson and two local councillors for Kensington and Chelsea Liberal Democrats have today written to Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State (SoS) for Communities and Local Government, asking that he consider calling in Commissioners to take over key roles and decision-making at Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) council. RBKC’s failure to provide ‘best value’, as it is legally mandated to do under Part I of the Local Government Act 1999, is the key reason for this request.
Under section 15 of the 1999 Act, the SoS is empowered to intervene in the event of a council failing to do its duty. In this case, Commissioners can be appointed to support and oversee RBKC to take steps to ensure that it provides. Under section 15 of the 1999 Act, the SoS is empowered to intervene in the event of a council failing to do its duty. In this case, Commissioners can be appointed to support and oversee RBKC to take steps to ensure that it provides best value.
“This should not be interpreted as a criticism of RBKC staff or their work, which has been carried out during a time of extreme stress, under intense media scrutiny, and often in the absence of clear planning or leadership,” said Andrew Lomas, Liberal Democrat Councillor for RBKC. “Nevertheless, we remain concerned that the response to the tragedy that unfolded at Grenfell Tower has revealed that RBKC has been and is failing to meet its duty of providing ‘best value’,” he added.
For some time, there has been a financial culture at RBKC involving:
(1) persistent departmental underspends (designed to pursue a policy of converting revenue receipts into capital receipts);
(2) the fetishisation of large cash reserves (c. £280m) during a period of budgetary constraint and exceptionally poor cash yields (leading to a negative real return on those cash reserves); and
(3) RBKC has chosen a funding model that favours service delivery via voluntary and third sector organisations to such an extent that there was no appropriate RBKC infrastructure in place to coordinate the response in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
Annabel Mullin, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Kensington, said: “It is regrettable that we have had to call for such an intervention, and do not do so lightly. However, there has been a fundamental breakdown in trust between RBKC and those it has a duty of care to provide for.
“Renewing and replacing those perceived as responsible for that trust erosion would enable the rebuilding of the governance and financial management capacity of RBKC, and secure its future compliance with the best value duty.”
RBKC Liberal Democrat Councillor Linda Wade added: “There has been a conspicuous void in leadership nationally and locally, amounting to frustration with the council’s lack of visibility and failure to communicate with survivors as well as those who would like to help.”
The time is ripe for change in Kensington. Residents are switching to the LibDems, because they are fed up with fed up with both Conservative policies and the aura of entitlement that comes from taking voters for granted. Of course, there is also the fundamentally problematic issue of Brexit. While Kensington voted 7/10 to Remain; our MP, Victoria Borwick, inexplicably campaigned to Leave – but there are other issues roiling constituents …
Across Kensington, there is outrage at an “out of control” Tory leadership
This is what we heard canvassing one street. Conservatives have abandoned economic stewardship and allowed skilled job destruction; fund the NHS poorly and were mean-spirited in removing free school meals; allegedly involved in expense fraud and oddly obsessed with fox hunting; planning to lift the ban on ivory (seriously!) while failing to support schools; have failed to tackle pollution and persisted in attacking junior doctors; and, as the last straw, there is the knowledge that Mrs. May supported the drastic reduction of police funding.
More police, answering the telephones and out in the community, could have prevented the murderers in Manchester and at London Bridge.
Residents voted 7/10 against Brexit because they know the damage it will bring
What has emerged on the doorstep is a simmering discontent from the far north to the deep south of this constituency. The bizarre choices of Conservative leadership, and the unreasonable decision to pursue a hard Brexit, show that Mrs. May puts party unity above Britain’s national interest.
Police numbers were slashed by 19,000 officers during Theresa May’s stint as Home Secretary Labour voters are disenchanted by the strife within their party, and have concerns about the grab bag of un-costed goodies that Corbyn is offering to voters. Kensington residents are telling us “enough is enough”.
“As a confirmed and passionate European, there is only one party I can possibly vote for this election and that is the Liberal Democrats. In Kensington, they also happen to be fielding in Annabel Mullin, an outstanding candidate, who I feel will best represent the people in Kensington most in need of effective representation in Parliament. She offers an already longstanding and impressive commitment to fresh, in-depth thinking and problem solving (PhD) that reminds me of my late father Brandon Rhys Williams, Kensington’s MP for 20 years, until his untimely death in 1988 [1968-74 South Ken and then after boundary changes, Kensington 1974-1988]. Many people will remember him for his care and commitment to the poorest and most disadvantaged in the constituency especially in North Ken via his tenancy and leasehold reform bills, welfare reform, successful battles with the then Thatcher Govt to keep child benefit universal, paid to mothers and in line with inflation, etc, etc ”.
“Sadly since his time, the Tories seem committed to fielding Tory grandees for Kensington, doling out the seat as if a prestigious prize for good behaviour and ignoring the needs of those in the constituency most in need of committed and innovative Parliamentary representation.
“Annabel’s ambitions for introducing problem solving legislation for Kensington via Private Members Bills reminds me of my father and is in sharp contrast to the current sitting MP who’s track record in Parliament has shown a woeful lack of forward thinking on the major issues facing us in today’s world.
“We need thoughtful, innovative and driven Parliamentarians, prepared to understand modern life problems and develop forward thinking policies for the future. This election is your chance to vote in an exciting new kind of MP for Kensington who will bring positive change and fresh thought to Parliament, not just an old guard Tory grandee seemingly out of touch with modern realities and clinging unquestioningly to the autocratic and deluded coattails of her leader Mrs May.”
Miranda Rhys WIlliams
Switching LibDem from Labour
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Fact: The Liberal Democrats DID support a mansion tax in their 2015 manifesto but the Liberal Democrats DO NOT support a mansion tax in the 2017 manifesto.
Myth: Tim Farron is homophobic
Fact: When Tim Farron was asked if he thought being gay was a sin in the House of Commons he said ‘no I do not’. He later said that his defining cause in life was “celebrating people’s right to be who they are, to love who they love, to marry who they marry”.
Myth: Tim Farron voted for the tuition fee rise and therefore can’t be trusted
Fact: Tim Farron voted AGAINST the tuition fee rise. Referring to Nick Clegg’s earlier pledge not to raise fees—and the previous long-standing Liberal Democrat policy of abolishing them—he said: “Integrity is important. You must not only keep your word but be seen to keep your word. You can say no.”