Message from the Leader

Message from the Leader

On 14 June 2017, Kensington and Chelsea changed forever. As a direct consequence, this Council – many of its officers, its policies and its leadership – changed too.

What happened at Grenfell Tower was a national tragedy, the worst incident of its kind in domestic premises since the Second World War. Seventy-two residents died, including 18 children. A further 371 residents from the Tower and the Walk lost their homes and hundreds of others were evacuated in the immediate aftermath. A whole community was deeply affected by the tragedy. The process of recovery will continue for many years to come.

Since that day, the Council’s primary focus has been responding to the tragedy, particularly the rehousing of former residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, and organising practical, emotional and humanitarian support for the bereaved, survivors and others affected. The Council and the NHS will spend a further £50m each to support Grenfell recovery over the next five years.

The Council is assisting the Public Inquiry to expose the lessons of Grenfell. We were the first local authority to sign up to the Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy, ensuring that we learn the lessons of the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath and apply them here in Kensington and Chelsea. We are committed to respond to the Grenfell Inquiry, the police investigation and all other forms of external scrutiny in an honest and openhearted way and to assist the search for the truth in whatever way we can.

Day to day, a large majority of our residents are very satisfied with Kensington and Chelsea as a place to live and with the job the Council does. However, an uncomfortable truth exposed by the Grenfell tragedy is the extent to which a significant minority have lost faith in the Council as an institution. This is the reason why the Council as a whole has had to change and why we have adopted new values for the way we operate: putting communities first, respecting others, acting with integrity and working together.

For decades, people have come to Kensington and Chelsea to make this place their home, to pursue their aspirations and fulfil their ambitions. We come and we stay because this borough is one of the most attractive in central London, with clean and well maintained streets, beautiful parks and gardens, outstanding schools and strong, open communities.

As a Council, we are committed to the ideal of public service for the public good. We will continue to deliver the high quality services that residents expect to receive but, more than that, we want to work with residents – and our partners in the statutory and voluntary sectors – for the good of this place and the people who live here. First and foremost, that means listening to our communities, fully engaging people in decisions that affect them, and properly balancing professional judgment with the lived experience of our residents.

We are determined to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make a success of their lives. This means pupils from all walks of life winning places at university and gaining access to apprenticeships, skills and routes into employment or entrepreneurship. It also means the Council investing in the right provision for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities so they too can achieve their full potential.

We understand how important the public realm and built environment are to our residents’ quality of life. We welcome new developments, especially those that will provide social and affordable housing, but these must maintain our current high standards of design and appearance. We will protect our parks and open spaces, keep our streets exceptionally clean and well maintained, and work with communities to address local concerns over crime and community safety.

This Council Plan builds on the commitments we made to voters during the 2018 local election campaign to make Kensington and Chelsea the best urban setting in which to live.

We put residents at the heart of everything we do. They have told us their priorities for their communities and we have listened. We will continue to engage widely as we set about delivering the Plan, making sure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and be heard.

 

Elizabeth Campbell
Leader of the Council