Summaries of Listening Forums 2019

Summaries of Listening Forums held in 2019

 

A summary of the Listening Forum held on 10 January 2019 at St Helen's Church Hall

We’d like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum. 

Approximately 20 people came to the event to share their thoughts and ask questions of our Leadership Team. Local ward councillors and police officers also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included: 

How can the council improve its communications?

Residents raised the need for improvements to our website, to connect more with residents’ association and community groups and to improve the way we distribute material. Residents highlighted the need for more offline methods, such as street noticeboards.

The Leadership Team explained that the improvement of the website was high on their agenda. The full review of our approach to communications is currently being undertaken.

Residents asked for the period of consultation on the priorities for the Council Plan to be extended by 5 working days: this was agreed in the meeting.

Community safety issues for North Kensington

A resident highlighted the need for more rubbish collection, CCTV and street lighting for our parks. They also highlighted safety issues for cyclists and asked whether Quietways can be introduced. Visit the Sustrans website for further information on Quietways.

Residents discussed the issue of dangerous pavements not being maintained, dog fouling, a lack of high quality publicly funded youth clubs and the issue of drug dealing and drug misuse on the streets.

The Leadership Team responded that the Council is undertaking a review of CCTV, including the use of wireless technology and mobile cameras. They discussed how the council works with the police on issues of community safety, and are keen to hear ideas from residents. The Police responded by saying they patrol the streets and stop and search people. They urged residents to provide information to the police on when and where they see drugs being dealt or misused. Regarding Quietways, the Leadership Team agreed that those the council had introduced in the borough so far for cyclists have proved popular. A new route that would connect Notting Hill to North Kensington will be consulted on soon.

The Leadership Team discussed the ongoing review of its youth services, describing how the Council had spoken to over 500 people in the North of the borough as well as 60 providers. The conclusions of the review are guiding the council’s work to meet the needs of young people over the years ahead. 

A particular concern was delivery trollies being abandoned near Tesco Express on North Pole Road, which resulted in the pavement being frequently blocked: there were also concerns about the noise of deliveries. The Leadership Team committed to follow up on complaints made.

Local health issues

Residents said the Council should see the community as capable of coming up with solutions and encouraged the council to adopt the ‘Space’ model, which is led by residents and lets them commission their own services, giving them more control. There was discussion on the importance of long term funding and sustainability of projects run by community groups, residents’ associations and the voluntary sector. Residents encouraged the Council to be creative and innovative in their solutions, to listen and then form an action plan.

Cllr Taylor-Smith said that local residents should be supported to form sustainable organisations, and that the Grenfell Recovery Strategy included plans for a community programme which would support community development.

A particular concern was the noise and pollution from HGVs and motorbikes on North Pole Road. The council would look into this issue.

How can the council better support young people?

Residents raised the need for greater education around mental health for young people, and the need more dialogue on these issues.

It was suggested that more emphasis should be put on more creative subjects to develop talents, outside of core subjects, inside and outside of school. The Council should think about launching initiatives to support young people much earlier in preparing them for the world of work, such as CV workshops, as well as financial education on tax and budgeting.

Cllr Faulks, Lead member for Skills and Enterprise, agreed with everything suggested. She said the Council is keen to support young people both with mental health issues and in developing their careers, via CV building and mentoring. 

How can the council improve housing services for everyone?

Residents raised the importance of engagement and empowerment of residents by both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Housing Associations and rented properties with private landlords. Residents of Housing Association properties experienced a lack of engagement and poor repairs. They suggested the Council should take the lead on calling for a gold standard of accountability on the part of all landlords in the borough, especially when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Residents also asked to see the Council’s response to the Government green paper on social housing, which is available here:

Kensington and Chelsea Homes - solving the challenge together (October 2018)

Councillor Taylor-Smith agreed with the suggestion for a borough-wide standard of accountability and said he understands the issues with maintenance for residents of Housing Associations. He explained the Council is drafting a policy for those renting from private landlords.

Issue around the Grenfell Recovery Strategy

Residents complained about the lack of response to residents outside the Lancaster West estate and called for the Council to provide information for support services to a wider range of residents, as their needs are likely differ from those directly affected. Residents called for the Council to open up the Recovery Strategy for people to evaluate and recommended that additions should be truly co-designed with residents.

Councillor Taylor-Smith described how the recovery strategy sets out plans to co-design the community programme with local residents.

 

Summary of the Listening Forum held on 28 January 2019 at Marlborough Primary School

We’d like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum. 

34 members of the public attended the Forum to share their thoughts and ask questions of our Leadership Team. Local ward councillors and police officers also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Noise nuisance questions

What is the Council doing about the problems super cars cause around the borough?Residents raised the issue of noise and nuisance of speeding super cars, especially those with foreign number plates, and the need to properly enforce Public Space Protection Officers.

Residents suggested that the focus should be on prevention as well as enforcement.Cllr Campbell responded that the Council should think more strategically about the use of CCTV and mobile cameras. The Council can also consider methods for prevention of speeding with techniques such as speed bumps, which it will consider on a case by case basis.

Any proposals for speed bumps must be consulted on with the emergency services. Elliptical speed bumps could be used.Where possible, residents were encouraged to collect evidence of speeding cars, including the plates, colour and make of car and send it to the Council, call: 020 7361 3002 or email: pspo@rbkc.gov.uk.

They were also encouraged by the police to report anti-social driving via the Report function on the front of the Met Police website.On the issue of cars with foreign plates, police can work with embassies if they have evidence.

How is the Council addressing the problems associated with short term holiday lets?Residents also raised the issue of AirBnBs in the borough and associated noise, nuisance and rubbish dumping. The Council is in talks with the Mayor of London and the London Assembly to think through the complications of the issue across London and find the balance between allowing homeowners to let their homes and providing accommodation for tourists and enforcing the appropriate regulation to prevent disturbance.

Following a review by the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee, the use of Community Protection Notices will be extended from the end of March 2019 to allow officers from a range of services to respond to anti-social behaviour arising from short term holiday lets.

Information is now available on the Council’s website about short term holiday lets and how to report issues to the Council. The Council is currently leading a group of ten London Local Authorities who are collectively lobbying government to create a statutory self-registration scheme.

Waste management questions

What is the Council doing to tackle food rubbish and litter?Residents raised the issue of litter from takeaway restaurants, calling for a code of behaviour, which the Council and Residents Associations can hold business managers accountable for. Cllr Campbell encouraged residents to hold takeaway managers to account for littering around their shops and made the offer that councillors/ Council officers could join residents in making such approaches.

A concern was raised about uncleared rubbish left behind cafes in Brompton Road. Street Scene Enforcement Officers conduct regular monitoring of Brompton Road to ensure the area is maintained to a high standard, but are aware of a few issues which we are working with local cafe owners to improve, such as improved waste storage areas. Work is also taking place with landowners such as South Kensington Estates to increase the amount of collections to reduce waste being placed on the street.

What is being done about people placing their rubbish out on the wrong days?There is an issue with short term lets in this area which does cause issues with waste being put out on the wrong day and wrong times. The Enforcement Officers do monitor this and where possible and evidence is available they follow up with enforcement.

The Council’s Waste Contractor SUEZ and the Street Scene Enforcement Team are working hard with local businesses, landowners and residents to ensure the street scene in this area remains clean, maintained to a high standard and is clear of rubbish.

Transport and Highways questions

What can be done to enforcement parking rules around double red and yellow lines?The Leader said that the Council would write to Transport for London (TfL) on this matter, and encouraged residents to make their own representations to TfL.

Is the borough planning more Electric Car charging points?Recently the Council introduced new 22kw compact charging points on streets across the borough. We announced that 4 new sites are operational, and a further 9 sites will be switched on over the next few weeks.

Planning questions

What is being done about the disruption caused by basement refurbishments?Residents raised the issue of the Council enforcing planning conditions on basement refurbishments which result in a lot of disturbance to neighbours. The Council is expanding the Chelsea pilot scheme whereby a breach of conditions would result in a loss of funds placed in an escrow account, which is an account held by an independent third party, to compensate for extra monitoring visits to site.

Can the Council reduce the number of number of phone boxes and the advertising on them?This is high on the Council’s agenda throughout the borough and we are lobbying central government for a change in the regulations.

Community safety questions

How can residents most effectively report crimes to the police?Residents complained that it was difficult to report crime using the 101 non-emergency number. Police officers at the meeting explained that new posters will soon be put up around the Borough containing information about how to report a crime and the contact details of dedicated ward officers. As well as using the emergency (999) and non-emergency (101) numbers, police encouraged residents to email their ward officers with intelligence and long term ongoing issues. Police encouraged people to use Next Door to share intelligence with other residents, businesses and ward police officers. Anti-social behaviour can be reported via the Report function on the Met Police website.

Can the Council increase CCTV on housing estates, as young people especially use estates as rat-runs? The Council is currently reviewing its community safety service, which includes mapping existing CCTV on housing estates and considering use of mobile cameras at hotspots. It is exploring whether CCTV would improve community safety and whether it is good value for money. Some Residents’ Associations have successfully worked together to bring CCTV provision under a central control point in Redcliffe ward: this could be explored in other areas. Some Residents Associations have indicated that they could purchase camera equipment for their streets (however the main cost is associated with monitoring the cameras). Residents can contact Cllr Gerard Hargreaves, the Council’s lead member for Communities and Culture, about the review of CCTV.

Licensing questions

What is the Council doing about cafes opening late and the noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour associated with this?Some residents wanted more restrictions on tables and chairs outside cafes and restaurants on Kings Road and Brompton Road. They raised the issues of safety and congestion caused by congregation of tourists on the streets, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road.

The Council is keen to find a balance between allowing a café culture/ late night economy and high streets to thrive whilst protecting peace for residents.Residents raised the issue of Temporary Events Notices (TENs) where local businesses are allowed to stay open late from Thursday to Sunday under one permission.

Councillors explained that the regulation is defined by law and that objections to applications could only be considered under grounds of noise nuisance, environmental health or police concerns. However, Councillors encouraged residents to make the Council aware of concerns about individual premises: this record of complaints would be taken into account when licensing applications were considered.

Repeated issues with tables and chairs blocking pavements would also be taken into consideration, if reported.

You can report a noise or nuisance to the Council noise and nuisance team on: 020 7361 3002, via the online form or by email on: environmentalhealth@rbkc.gov.uk.

Residents explained that this method of working together had been successful in previous situations.

As community leaders, Ward Councillors also play a role in bringing people together.

Housing questions

How can the Council address the housing divide between the North and South of the borough?Residents specifically asked how the vacant properties on the Sutton Estate can be filled, and for a new conservation area to include the Sutton Estate.

Cllr Taylor-Smith explained that a pilot proposal will be brought to the Leadership Team to start providing homes for key workers (for example, teachers and nurses). The aim is to make properties available at realistically affordable prices.

Consultation has begun in relation to the conservation area, with the intention of including the Sutton and Samuel Lewis estate. Cllr Taylor-Smith is meeting with the Chief Executive of Clarion Housing Association to discuss their lettings policy and ensure nomination rights for the Council.

Council adminstration questions

How can ward councillor be better supported?The Council has launched a new casework system to help ward councillors manage resident queries and respond more quickly. Residents said that in general, ward councillors are good at responding and taking action but that actions get blocked by Council officers. Residents encouraged the Council to do more positive PR for ward councillors, who do a great deal on behalf of their constituents.

How can the council website be improved?The Council is conducting a thorough review of its website aiming towards providing one contact phone number for residents and easier reporting forms online. The Council is also reviewing its Communications team and will be looking at its communications services in the summer.

 

Summary of Listening Forum held on 4 March 2019 at Earl's Court

We would like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum. 

Members of the public attended the Forum to share their thoughts and ask questions of our Leadership Team. Local ward councillors and police officers also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Questions about Planning

Anonymity of planning application objectors A resident raised their concern over the anonymity of planning applications objections, stating that it would be useful to name the objectors as a way of commending residents’ participation in the democratic process.

Councillor Pascall, Lead Member for Streets, Planning and Transport, responded that initially names were redacted in accordance with GDPR rules. We currently have a process where people are able to explicitly ‘opt in’ if they would like their names to be made public. Council officers reviewed cases of people who were originally opted out by default, who in turn, requested for their names to be attached to objections on planning applications. Councillor Pascall added that if the ‘opt in’ system is not clear; the council will work to make it clearer.

On Planning Policy, Councillor Pascall mentioned he is keen to get more input from residents and encouraged people to talk to him on what they want their place to look like in the future. These insights will enable Councillor Pascall to feed residents’ views into the council’s policy making, within the limits of the regional (London-wide) policies. He will be going out ward by ward and meeting Residents’ Associations on an ongoing basis and there is no deadline for submitting ideas. Councillor Pascall can be contacted on Cllr.Will.Pascall@rbkc.gov.uk.

On 8 April 2019 at 2pm, there will be a public event on pre-planning application advice at Kensington Town Hall (Small Hall). It is hoped that 100-200 people will attend and discuss the subject of pre-planning application advice. The results of the conference will be looked at closely at the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on 7 May 2019, 6:30pm at Kensington Town Hall.

What can be done to allow community use of the vacant ‘CapCo’ site? Residents asked what can be done to allow community use of the vacant CapCo site for activities such as Sunday Farmer’s Market and children’s play. Residents urged the Council to consider its use when the development was proposed and to use it for housing for key workers if the site became available again. They stated the green area on the river side shouldn’t be for the exclusive use of residents.

The Leadership Team echoed residents’ concerns on the site and the need for more community space. Councillor Taylor-Smith said if a revised application was put forward by CapCo, the council would be interested in seeing more affordable and social housing, which is an acute issue in London. Councillor Taylor-Smith will go back to CapCo to discuss potential community use of the site whilst it is vacant. The council is looking at proposals to provide housing at affordable prices for key workers working in the borough to support them in their roles and would also like to see more mixed tenure housing as a way of enhancing diversity in the area. A new policy to achieve this will be presented to Full Council in the next few months.

Planning enforcement

Residents were concerned over a lack of enforcement around planning. Councillor Pascall explained the council have been piloting a construction management enforcement strategy in Chelsea and then in Kensington, to ensure construction sites have construction management plans. The pilots worked well but proved too expensive to roll out across the borough. A project will be launching in Spring 2019 across the borough which has involved a huge restructuring of teams and new IT systems. This proposal will be coming forwards in the next few months, after the election in Dalgarno ward has taken place.

What is the Council doing to reduce street clutter on Earl’s Court Road? Residents asked for unnecessary signs to be removed or combined with lamp posts. Councillor Campbell said the Leadership Team are happy to work with Ward Councillors on this.

Residents also raised concerns over the appearance and number of large imposing BT phone boxes on the streets. Councillor Pascall explained that there has recently been a court case in Westminster which has given planners more powers to refuse them and make sure they go through a proper planning application process. Councillor Campbell has asked BT what the perceived community value these boxes provide and is waiting for a reply. Councillor Campbell added that the council is determined that obsolete phone boxes should be removed from streets, as they do not add community value and are often used by drug dealers.

Residents said the digital bus times on bus stops offer a lot of information and are much more useful than the large boxes.

What can the Council do to prevent restaurants closing down? Residents were concerned about the impact on the high street of restaurants closing down. Councillor Pascall said it was unfortunate there was a high turnover of restaurants in Earl’s Court.

Questions about Air Quality

What measures are the Council taking to improve air quality, especially on Cromwell Road? Residents also asked what the council can do to reduce dust through traffic management plans during construction.

Councillor Pascall explained that the council is tackling the twin challenges of climate change and poor air quality together and has put in place a combined Air Quality and Climate Change Action Plan and policy, available on the Air Quality Action Plan page.

Cllr Campbell added that the council is looking at its own influence, resources and services to see how to improve air quality, such as ensuring that its own fleet of vehicles are becoming green and installing more electrical charging points in the borough.

As a lot of main roads are owned by TfL, Councillor Spalding explained that there is an opportunity to ask questions of TfL at an upcoming Public Realm Scrutiny Committee meeting at Kensington Town Hall on 26 March, 6:30pm. The agenda and papers for this meeting will be available on 19 March 2019 on the Meetings page.

Questions about Enforcement

How can the council improve its process for reporting graffiti? Residents raised concerns that the reporting line was not adequate. Councillor Campbell responded that the council will potentially use ‘mystery shopping’ tactics to evaluate the responses that are provided by council officers.

What can the council do about busking? Residents raised the issue of busking. Councillor Pascall explained that this issue will be coming to Leadership Team and for interested residents to email him on Cllr.Will.Pascall@rbkc.gov.uk .

Loss of Exhibition Centre Residents lamented the loss of the Exhibition Centre - which was a vibrant community hub for the local area - now compounding decreasing levels of community space in the area.

Questions about the Council’s focus and cross Council arrangements

Grenfell/ Council focus Residents expressed that much of the Council’s priorities were focused on the recovery of Grenfell and that the needs of the whole borough must be considered. Councillor Campbell noted that the Council’s priority has been on the Grenfell recovery; however, the council has listening to residents throughout the borough and identifying their priorities. The priorities will be reflected by the council’s new plan for the borough that will be published on 28 March.

What is happening with the Council’s Tri-borough arrangements? Residents enquired whether the Council was still party to the Tri-Borough shared services agreement with Westminster City Council and Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Councillor Campbell explained that, in future, Kensington and Chelsea will be continuing as a Bi-Borough with Westminster City Council, sharing services such as Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care. We will no longer be linked with Hammersmith and Fulham and this arrangement should be concluded in the next 6 months. Councillor Campbell added that this will save resources and there will be no diminution of services with more focus on Kensington and Chelsea – grateful thanks were paid to officers involved in ending the Tri-Borough arrangement.

Questions about Communications

How is the Council publicising the Listening Forums? Residents queried the publicity surrounding the Listening Forum and questioned whether it was only promoted on the Council’s social media channels. Residents explained that they only found out about the Listening Forum through their ward Councillors at short notice. Listening Forums are also prompted via local groups, posters, emails, on website, adverts in council publications and via ward councillors for the local area.

 

Summary of the Listening Forum held on 26 March 2019 at Colville (The Tabernacle)

We would like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum.

17 members of the public attended the Forum to share their thoughts and ask questions of our Leadership Team. Local ward councillors and police officers also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Community safety

Is moped crime increasing and what can be done to tackle it?Residents raised their concern about a perceived rise in moped crime in Abingdon ward and an association with gangs.

Police at the Forum explained that according to statistics, the rate of moped crime is decreasing in Abingdon, and overall in Kensington and Chelsea this is low, but acknowledged that it is still a big problem and they are employing new techniques to deter and deal with the criminals.

How can we ensure effective policing in the north of the borough?Residents raised the issue that some people don’t want to be seen talking to the police and there should be more plain-clothed officers. They also asked whether a knife bin could be available on Ladbroke Road.

The police present in the meeting explained that people not willing to speak to officers on the street can also report crime online or by calling 999 for emergencies or 111 for non-emergencies. There is a front counter service for the police now on Lancaster Road, open Mondays to Saturdays.  The police explained that they have to balance their presence to satisfy those who wish to see more uniformed police officers in order to deter criminals, and that having a permanent knife bin would not be effective, but they would consider the potential for time-limited initiatives to take knives off the street

Safety and support issues in the area of 5 Courts of West Cromwell RoadResidents raised issues of community safety, security, anti-social behaviour, stabbings and drug dealing on the estate.  Following the recent merger of Family Mosaic and Peabody, they had had difficulty accessing a building in the garden: they wanted to ensure this was an asset for the local community to use. Residents also raised the issue of not having immediate support to develop their Tenants and Residents’ Association, and that Peabody had not been supportive, although they acknowledged that Cllr Addenbrooke, ward Cllr for Abingdon, had been helpful.

Cllr Addenbrooke said she would set up a meeting with the 5 Courts of West Cromwell Road TRA and Peabody Estates, who own the property, to discuss local concerns.

Cllr Taylor-Smith explained that the Council is meeting with all Housing Association residents’ associations and wants to work with them. These meetings set out the Council’s expectations and the obligations Housing Associations and private landlords have to the borough’s tenants. The Council is aiming to act as a shadow or ‘lobbying’ body to encourage Housing Associations and Private Landlords to provide high quality housing to their tenants.

 Housing and Planning

What is the Council doing about poor housing management by Notting Hill Genesis?Residents raised concerns about irresponsible housing management by Notting Hill Genesis run housing. The Council are aware of the strength of feeling from residents on the Lancaster West Estate who are living in Notting Hill Genesis [NHG] managed homes. We have offered environmental health inspections to those living in NHG properties, which has had a limited take-up so far. Meanwhile we are trying to find an alternative management arrangement with Notting Hill Genesis, and our preference is for the Council manage the properties so we can be assured that the standards of NHG-owned homes are the same as all others on the estate.

What can the Council do about ‘reunification’ of houses of multiple occupation, leading to reduced amounts of separate accommodation unit?Residents raised the issue of buildings containing flats being converted into single family residences, thus reducing the amount of housing stock and rendering these new homes too expensive even for senior professionals to afford. They also mentioned that often these large homes are left unoccupied by the new owners reducing the vibrancy of community life for the local area.

Cllr Will Pascall explained that the conversion of flats to single homes requires planning permission and is contrary to current planning policy.  He asked for the details so that he could investigate.

What can the Council do to improve the state of the Henry Dickens estate?Residents raised their concerns that there has been long term crime and the estate is becoming derelict, when once the estate was full of public pride. They explained that housing units on the ground level of the building were unoccupied, while tenants at the top of the building were struggling with accessibility due to the broken lift. They also raised issues relating to community safety as CCTV was not working, flats were being sublet, and fly-tipping and drug dealing were taking place.

Cllr Taylor-Smith explained there is a major commitment in the Council Plan to provide affordable housing in the borough and to ensure accountability of housing management. He explained that the TMO had previously budgeted £5m for repairs: since bringing housing management in-house, this has been increased to £267m by the Council for repairs to estates across the borough.

The average house price in Kensington and Chelsea is £1.4m so there is a real need to address the quality and stock of social housing. As a borough, we have lost 20% of our teachers so we need to ensure truly affordable housing for key workers, which is more realistic than the 80% of market value definition by central Government. The Council is determined to ensure that any housing provided by the Council on an intermediate rent is genuinely affordable and targeted at public sector employees who perform a vital service, but who may not otherwise be able to live in the borough. Decisions are still to be taken on:

  • Who qualifies as a keyworker
  • What the level of discount should be to be genuinely affordable

The Council is working up an options paper. Cllr Taylor-Smith also highlighted that the Council will publish information on repair performance and policy to demonstrate deliverable measurable outcomes and is looking to work with Housing Associations and private landlords in a similar way.

On Henry Dickens estate, the Council works in partnership with the Police, which can include joint visits and patrols when local issues are identified.  At time of writing, the lift is working, and there is work taking place on 12th April which it is hoped will reduce the risk of further breakdowns.  If residents become aware of drug dealing, they should call the Police.  Residents can help us to deal with noise nuisance by installing the noise app to help the Council take action where appropriate.  At the time of writing, no CCTV was identified on the estate as not working.  If anyone discovers flytipping, they should call 0800 137111, or visit our fly tipping webpage.

The Council treats all allegations of tenancy fraud very seriously and will investigate thoroughly.  If residents become aware that a flat is being sublet, they should contact their Neighbourhood Officer. On Henry Dickens Estate, this is Susan Anim-Boadu.  There are currently only two vacant properties on the Henry Dickens estate which are social housing for general needs: these are currently having work done to prepare them to be allocated to people in priority housing need.  If residents identify a vacant property that we’re unaware of, it would be helpful to report this to the Neighbourhood Officer, so we can investigate.

Residents raised concerns that developers were not respecting planning regulations and were having planning approval granted retrospectively, especially when development was occurring on top of a building.

Cllr Taylor-Smith encouraged residents to report developers who were not respecting planning decisions to the Council’s enforcement team.

Traffic management and safety

What can be done about safety outside the Avondale St Ann’s School?Residents raised their concerns over needing a zebra crossing outside the school as it has been getting dangerous for school children with speeding cars.

Environment

What is the Council doing about pollution and noise from construction?Residents raised their concerns over industrial scale buildings work and idling engines. The Council has introduced a pro-active, cross-departmental team (the Construction Management Team) to manage and enforce construction sites. The team includes Planning Enforcement, Streetscene and Environmental Health officers. They control all aspects of construction sites, including routeing of lorries, delivery hours, and noise.

Noise and Nuisance from building sites in Kensington and Chelsea has been controlled by the introduction of the Construction Code: this Council was the first in England to ban noisy work at the weekend from building sites. The Noise and Nuisance Team proactively serve formal notices to control the hours of work. The hours when noise is permitted are Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm and at no other times including weekends and bank holidays. Further information visit our Code of Construction Practice webpage.

In addition to this Code, Council planning policy and the Mayor of London’s planning guidance require that developers control pollution during demolition and construction by requiring that the least polluting methods of demolition and construction are used including using low or no-emission machinery on-site.

What can the Council do about rubbish dumping?Residents said they were happy with the rubbish collection routine; however, there was a lot of rubbish being dumped outside of collection times.

Cllr Pascall committed to conducting a ‘hot-spot analysis’ with officers and said he would look into whether it was linked to short-term holiday lets. He requested that residents send him particular cases about enforcement to look into: cllr.will.pascall@rbkc.gov.uk.

Culture of the Council

Residents raised their concern over a cultural deficit within the Council’s officers and Councillors in their ability to understand the differences between people from the richest and the poorest areas of the borough. They said that all voices should be heard and that there should be a local focus rather than distinct needs being dealt with collectively. 

Cllr Campbell said that she understands that the Council needs to change, be refreshed and renewed, and is committed to doing so. The Grenfell tragedy uncovered the uncomfortable truth that a significant proportion of the community has lost faith in the Council. The Council has been working to rebuild trust by changing organisationally, as well as changing its values and embedding them in the work we do. These include putting communities first, respect and listening to everyone regardless of their background, which has to be at the core of what the Council does.

Youth services

What is being done to increase the offer of services for young people across the borough?​Residents expressed their concerns about the closure of a youth facility in Chelsea. They explained that some parents are anxious about their children going out in the evening to access youth services. They also raised concerns that there is a lack of space for children for extra study/support and where this is available, it is at too high a cost. Residents called for services to be available to all children, including from working class and BAME backgrounds.

Cllr Faulks explained that the Youth Club on the World’s End estate isn’t shutting down, but the operator will be changing, with the intention that it will be open every night of the week. The Council consulted young people when it conducted a Youth Review, to find out what young people want to see and what programmes they would like scheduled: this will be incorporated into programmes operated at the Youth Club. There will also be pop-up events for young people. 

Is there a coaching and mentoring service for young people?Cllr Faulks said that there is already some mentoring available for young people through ‘Kensington Creates’ at the Kensington Aldridge Academy (more information available: www.creates.org.uk). The Council is also consulting on an Economy strategy to understand what support local young people want. Some coaching/ mentoring opportunities involving local businesses are already available with more on the way.

 

Summary of the Listening Forum held on 15 May 2019 at the St Clements Centre

We would like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum.

Around 40 members of the public attended the forum to share their thoughts and ask questions of our Leadership Team. Local ward councillors and police officers also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Children's Services

How will the Council support services for children under 3 years old?

Residents commented that local playgroups and other services for early years (such as speech therapists), were now harder to access than they had once been. They also mentioned that childminders rely on playgroups, and that playgroup services provide support at a very important stage in a child’s development. They raised concerns that if Ilys Booker Centre were to close they wouldn’t know where else to go.

Councillor Faulks said that she would personally follow up on this with Ilys Booker CentreThere are a number of playgroups and children's centre service on the Lancaster West Estate and surrounding areas. Ilys Booker has moved to the Lancaster West Resource Centre while its premises are temporarily occupied by the Grenfell Nursery. The Ilys Booker operates 5 mornings a week - there are no plans for the Ilys Booker Centre to close.

The Council also funds ‘Stay and Play’ at St Marks Park and Little Wormwood Scrubs: all 3 services are open five days per week. In addition there is a Mums Club and crèche at Kensington Leisure Centre delivered by Children's Centres on a Monday, while the leisure centre has its own programme of soft play sessions during the week. St Quintin Children's Centre hosts a weekly Stay and Play specifically for child minders on a Monday morning and Meanwhile Gardens are funded to host a child minder drop in on a Wednesday morning.

Speech and language therapists are available at Children's Centres and offer drop-in workshops to support communication and language in children under 3 years. Further information, help and advice on the services available for children and young people can be accessed on the council's Information for families website.

Will Children’s Services continue to provide support for OFSTED inspections?

Residents raised that previously Children’s Services had assisted local playgroups and nurseries with OFSTED inspections, and requested that this support would continue.

The Council will continue to support local playgroups and nurseries with OFTSED inspections.

Congestion and cycle routes

Congestion and cycle routes

Residents highlighted that traffic was particularly bad around tube stations, for example Ladbroke Grove Station, as there were not enough underpasses or lifts. Additionally, rubbish trucks take up a lot of road space and contribute to traffic jams.

Residents raised TfL’s proposed cycle route plans between Holland Park and Notting Hill Gate, and said that they were concerned it would increase pollution because of traffic queues and tailbacks.

The Leadership Team encouraged all residents to respond to TfL’s consultation on the cycle routes. They explained that after this round of consultation, TfL would amend their plans and go to another round of consultation, before it would come to the Council’s Head of Planning. Residents can also feedback their views on the plans through their ward Councillors. The Council Plan emphasises that the Council will be guided by what residents want.

Grenfell

Information on soil and air pollution and testing

Residents expressed concerns that the testing of the soil around the Grenfell Tower site had not been well communicated, with some only just learning that the first round of results from testing will be released in July. They also commented that there wasn’t sufficient publicity of the recent meeting held by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), that they needed more information on when the stage 2 testing analysis would be available and wanted a timescale of when the soil would be safe.

Residents said that the Council should have listened to them originally when they raised concerns about the toxicity of the debris. They said that the guidance around air/soil pollution is not sufficient – for example, an MHCLG document saying that air quality monitoring hasn’t identified a cause for concern is not an answer to the question of whether the land around the Grenfell Tower is safe. They said that the Council should be willing to say when they are not sure or do not know something. Residents asked if they could provide input into how this testing is carried out.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell reiterated that the Council has a duty of care to residents, and as the Council do not have soil scientists or air scientists, they have asked the government to put together an independent panel chaired by the chief scientist of the UK to advise on soil and air pollution. The Council is expecting the first round of results in July and after these results they will be able to say if there is no risk or if more testing is needed. As soon as there is data available it will be published openly.

A resident suggested taking a sample of the local population who had been exposed to the air and soil and do blood, urine, saliva, and hair strand tests. If results came back to suggest that there was a risk, then more widespread testing could follow.

Residents suggested that it would be better if the Council made plans in case the testing came back to show that there were toxins in the air. Councillor Campbell replied that she will take the advice of scientists and will bring up with them how best to plan in case that is the outcome.

What will be done with the Grenfell Tower site?

Residents requested more information about what would happen to the Grenfell Tower site, and asked if the Grenfell Tower site had been blessed.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell explained that the site is now in the hands of the government who will set up a memorial commission to work with the community to decide what will happen to the site. Nick Hurd, the Minister for Victims, is responsible for this. Councillor Blakeman (ward Councillor for Notting Dale) clarified that the site had been blessed.

How can the Council communicate better about the support available to residents after the Grenfell Tower fire?

Residents expressed concern that there had been a lack of support for residents after the Grenfell fire, and that support that was available was not well communicated, particularly to those beyond the Lancaster West Estate. Residents suggested that communications about Grenfell recovery shouldn’t only be online and a Grenfell Support newsletter should be delivered to residents on the Lancaster West Estate and other surrounding Estates/properties.

The Leadership Team said that they acknowledge that they can do more, and that while Housing Matters and North Kensington News include information on the Grenfell Response they will look at what more can be done. The Leadership Team also told residents that there is a new Head of Communications who will be hiring some new members to the Communications team, specifically to posts in digital communications. The Council is also improving the website, and it should be a lot easier to use by the end of this year.

Following a series of conversations with residents in North Kensington last year, the Council introduced a new monthly newsletter, North Ken News, which is delivered to every household in the seven North Kensington wards. It is also delivered to community hubs, faith buildings and to our health partners. The Council will continue to update residents through articles in this magazine on the progress of the Grenfell Recovery Strategy.

Mental Health and suicide awareness after the Grenfell Tower Fire

Residents said there was a lack of awareness of the effect that the Grenfell Tower fire has had on the mental health of residents who live near the Tower but not on Lancaster West Estate, and they were concerned about suicides as a result of this.

The Leadership Team encouraged people to inform them if people were concerned about others’ mental health or thought people were at risk of suicide, but also stated that there had been no spike in the rate of suicides in the local area.

Anyone requiring additional mental health support during the period of post-fire recovery is encouraged to visit their GP who can access all mental health care services as necessary. In addition, anyone can contact the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service,  which is a free and confidential NHS service for children and adults affected by Grenfell. The service can be contacted by phone at 020 8637 6279 or email at grenfell.wellbeingservice@nhs.net . Residents can also contact an Outreach specialist mental health worker via the Curve or on 020 8962 4393.

Health

Enhanced health checks

Residents said that the enhanced health checks offered by the local health service were not deep or full enough. They asked that tests would include a lung test and not just a spirometer. There were multiple reported instances of people attending health checks and being told that the centres didn’t have the facilities to carry out all the necessary tests. This is frustrating both to those who are attending and administering the tests. Residents raised concerns that GPs in the area are very stretched and wanted to know if there was a link between GP access and respiratory issues.

Councillor Sarah Addenbrooke assured residents that they should have access to thorough testing, and if they did not they could follow up with her so that she could talk to the Clinical Commissioning Group about it.

The latest Frequently Asked Questions about environmental checks and enhanced health checks can be found on the FAQs about possible soil contamination page.

High streets

How will the Council involve residents in revitalising the borough’s high streets?

Residents raised concerns that the borough’s high streets were dying and said there should be a mechanism to share ideas on how to improve the situation.

The Leadership Team said that they are working hard to see how our high streets can be revitalised, and that they are willing to take bold decisions on this subject.

The Council held an event in partnership with the Kensington Business Forum on revitalising Kensington High Street in April which suggested a number of ideas that were supported by the residents and businesses that attended and are now being taken forward. Details can be seen on on the Revitalising Kensington High Street pages, and anyone who is interested in getting involved should email towncentres@rbkc.gov.uk .

Housing

Leaseholder charges

A number of Council leaseholders commented that refurbishment recharges and elements of the service charge appear unreasonably high and that there’s a lack of transparency both over the way these have been calculated and where the money goes.

The Council has launched a new service offer for leaseholders which enables refurbishment charges to be spread across a longer period. The Council has also changed the way that it consults on major works. Service charge bills include a breakdown of the charges, and more detail is available upon request.

Service charges are set at a level which enables the Council to recoup each leaseholder’s proportion of the actual costs incurred, and service charge income goes back into the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

Housing repairs

Residents remarked that although there have been some improvements in the wait for housing repairs on their properties, the wait for these repairs is still too long. They suggested that there could be a monthly newsletter with clear plans on the works being carried out. Residents specifically asked for more information about the timescale of door fittings.

The Council has commenced its programme to repair and replace fire doors and this will last until 2021. The Council has concentrated on improving the day to day repairs service: currently satisfaction is at approximately 85%. The Council undertakes 20,000 repairs per year and received 161 complaints last year (less than 1%).

Nevertheless, the Council recognises that there is still room for improvement. The Council has put in place better systems to take ownership of complex repair works (for example when input is required from different trades).

Will the Council be building larger housing units?

Residents demanded that the Council build more larger housing units, as the unavailability of large units is currently leading to long waiting times.

Councillor Cem Kemahli confirmed that there are plans to build more housing, both larger and smaller units.

Regeneration

What is the status of regeneration projects across North Kensington?

Residents asked for more information in writing about the status of regeneration across North Kensington. They wanted to know if plans were going ahead for regeneration in Council and Housing Association-run stock.

Councillor Cem Kemahli confirmed that the Council had no plans to regenerate Council-owned housing estates, however as Housing Associations are independent the Council cannot confirm what their plans are.

The Council’s commitment to ‘no regeneration’ was confirmed in the speech given by Councillor Taylor-Smith, Lead Member for Grenfell and Housing, to Full Council on 17 October 2018, which can be found on the Speech to Full Council page.

Safety

What is the Council doing to improve residents’ safety?

Residents called for improved CCTV provision on social housing estates, for example at Bramley House, and also wanted the Council to look at improving other safety and security measures, for example by raising fence and gate heights.

The Leadership Team advised that the Council has recently allocated £630,000 to CCTV and will consult with residents on how this will be spent.

The Council also invests £500,000 a year in environmental improvements, with each estate having a budget allocated in line with the number of properties. Where estates have Residents’ Associations, these can recommend the works that they would like undertaken. Through this scheme the Council has undertaken a number of improvements to gates and fences.

What is the Council doing to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour?

Residents raised concerns about the levels of anti-social behaviour in the area and explained that there had been instances of the police dropping cases related to anti-social behaviour without clearly communicating that this was going to happen or why. They suggested that there should be better join-up between different services who are trying to tackle anti-social behaviour, for example the Police, the Council and Residents’ Associations. A lot of anti-social behaviour was drug related – including selling drugs, but also break-ins and theft. Residents commented that more activities, such as outreach projects or sports clubs, were needed to tackle the harm caused by drugs.

The Leadership Team emphasised that the Council takes tackling anti-social behaviour seriously: recently the Tenants Consultative Committee (TCC) has agreed a charter which will go into a local lettings policy. This Charter will include a clause on anti-social behaviour which will encourage tenants and landlords to work together to reduce anti-social behaviour. The Council has allocated £1million public health funding to work with young people and this will help to provide support to people and help them to engage in activities.Members of the local Police service, in attendance, reminded residents that there is a local police building where they are encouraged to go to report crime.

Royalty Studios Neighbourhood Policing base has a walk-in counter service open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm and Friday from 9am to 8pm. The address to walk in and report issues is: Royalty Studios, 105 Lancaster Road, W11 8QF.

Supporting young people

How will the Council support young people?

Residents emphasised the importance of face to face mental health support for young people, as phone lines are not always the best way to provide this support. They also suggested that there needed to be more mentoring opportunities for young people, to help them visit universities and understand opportunities available to them. The meeting heard about good work which takes place in homework clubs such as at the Clement James Centre, the Rugby Portobello Trust, and at the Curve.

Councillor Catherine Faulks explained that as part of the Council’s economy strategy the Council will link up with a pool of local businesses and entrepreneurs who will come into schools to talk at assemblies and provide mentoring, apprenticeship, and work experience opportunities to young people.

Residents requested more information be circulated about mentoring opportunities for young people when it becomes available.

The Council is implementing its Youth Strategy and commissioning activities to support the ‘Future and Ambition’ priority. Youth hubs and youth clubs will offer developmental programmes, such as CV writing, presentation, articulation, and business acumen courses. Youth clubs will also be encouraged to work in partnership with businesses to deliver these programmes.

 

Summary of the Listening Forum held on 11 June 2019 at St Mary Abbott's Centre

We would like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum.

Around 10 members of the public attended the Forum to share their thoughts and questions with the Leadership Team. Local ward Councillors also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Dockless bicycles

Some residents recounted how they had enjoyed hiring electric bikes through the Lime App, however also complained of people parking their electric bikes in the middle of streets as this is both a nuisance and a risk. The Council was asked to strengthen its enforcement of parking regulations for electric bicycles.

The Council has very limited powers to remove bicycles left on the street. Bicycles left in an obstructive or dangerous manner can be reported to the Council via streetline@rbkc.gov.uk.

It is generally quicker to call the operator of the dockless bicycles (e.g. Lime, Mobike) and report poorly parked bicycles. All existing operators state that they adhere to Transport for London’s Dockless Bike Share Code of Practice which requires all dockless bicycles to feature a sticker with a number which can be called for bicycles to be relocated. For the green Lime bicycles, this number is 0800 808 5223. The Code of Practice requires operators to adhere to removal times of two hours in the case of danger or obstruction, or 24 hours where the bicycle is a nuisance.

TfL’s proposed cycle route between Holland Park and Lancaster Gate

Residents expressed strong views on TfL’s proposed cycle route. They were concerned about the loss of trees along the route and the congestion issues that would be created by narrowing the road to allow for the cycle route.

The Leadership Team encouraged residents to reply to the TfL consultation and attend the Kensington Society’s event at the Town Hall on 13 June at 6.30pm, where TfL personnel were present to answer questions. Residents requested for the meeting to be live streamed or recorded for those who could not attend, which the Kensington Society said they could do. Residents were encouraged to respond online to TfL’s consultation on the cycle route (consultation closed on 16 June 2019).

The Lead Member for Planning and Transport, Cllr Thalassites, announced at the public meeting on 13 June that the Council did not back TfL’s proposals. The Council has since published its position statement on the Council website, which can be found on the TfL Proposals page.

Idling engines

Residents at the forum expressed support for fines for idling engines and requested information on how many fines have been issued as a result of drivers failing to turn off their engines whilst parked.

At present, the Council has not served any fixed penalty notices (FPN’s) for idling engines as almost all drivers switch off or drive off when requested to do so by an authorised officer. Instead, the Council is recording interactions with drivers to try and build up a picture of where the issues exist. Since March 2019 Enforcement Officers have requested drivers switch off their engines on 55 occasions.

Stations

Residents commented that there were problems with road congestion in the borough, but particularly around stations due to road crossings by station entrances.

Residents also commented that there is a need for step-free access to the borough’s Underground stations and asked if the Council could persuade TfL to make their stations more accessible.

The Council will consider ways to address local congestion hotspots but would not support removing pedestrian crossings as a way to improve traffic flow – particularly not near tube and rail stations where there is likely to be a heavy demand to cross the road.

The Council is currently in discussion with TfL about the Council’s offer to provide substantial funding towards the cost of introducing step-free access at Ladbroke Grove and High Street Kensington stations. This is in addition to existing TfL plans to introduce step-free access at Knightsbridge and South Kensington stations in the next few years.

Parking spaces

Residents said that there was not enough parking in the local area. They said that they would be prepared to pay more if it would ensure a guaranteed parking space.

The Council is always happy to look at the balance between resident parking and visitor parking in certain locations.

Currently the Council has issued more parking permits than resident spaces and so providing guaranteed parking spaces by designating certain bays to certain vehicles would not be an efficient use of the Council’s limited parking space. Additionally, the Council would not want to price out residents who are unable to pay a premium rate for parking.

Recording care visits

It was suggested that all care visits could be recorded (with the permission of the care-receiver) to help safeguard the care-receiver.

At this stage, the Council has no plans to record visits of carers to residents, as the recording of care visits between carers and residents can affect people’s privacy and dignity. If there were to be video recording, all parties recorded would need to give their permission.

If residents or relatives have concerns about someone’s care they can be raised with the Adult Social Care team to investigate by calling 020 7361 3013.

Active for Life classes

Residents shared their enjoyment of the fitness classes offered through the Active for Life Programme and asked the Council to continue its support of such classes and schemes.

The Active for Life Programme offers a variety of opportunities to adults over 18 years old to take part in sport and physical activity. More information on the programme and the Active for Life Brochure 2019 can be found on the Activities for adults page.

Culture and high streets

Residents asked how the Council plans to help revitalise the borough’s High Streets.

Councillor Catherine Faulks (Lead Member for Skills and Enterprise) shared with residents the idea to create a ‘cultural corridor’ from South Kensington up to Kensington High Street. The corridor would help draw some of the 80,000 visitors the Borough welcomes each day up to Kensington High Street from the south of the borough. Councillor Faulks also said that rejuvenation of the High Streets should be led by local-businesses and discussed setting up a business forum - to help businesses shape a programme of events and collaborate to enhance the high street experience.

Councillor Faulks discussed developing an imaginative programme with local businesses and residents, including more cultural events, to contribute to the revitalisation of the borough’s high streets.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell (Leader of the Council) reminded residents of The Great Exhibition Road Festival being held from 28 to 30 June on Exhibition Road. The Festival sees the whole of Exhibition Road pedestrianised and activities put on by the local museums: more information can be found on the Exhibition Road Festival website. On Saturday 29 June there will also be free shuttle buses leaving from White City and North Kensington to allow residents to visit the Festival. More information on shuttle buses can be found on the Eventbrite website.

A resident also suggested that Kensington High Street could be renamed as Kensington Design Street for the London Design Festival between 14 and 22 September.

The Council is working with the high street’s cultural institutions and business forum to highlight the unique qualities of Kensington High Street, and we are adopting the banner ‘Kensington Creative High Street’ for a season of promotion. This will start with the second annual Kensington and Chelsea Art Weekend (running from 28 to 30 June) through to the Design Festival in September. For more information please visit our Arts Services webpage or email arts@rbkc.gov.uk.

Derelict houses

Residents raised concerns about unoccupied housing which becomes dilapidated and derelict. They requested more information on who to contact about derelict houses, what the regulations were about derelict housing, and who was responsible for its cleaning and maintenance.

The responsibility for maintaining and cleaning dilapidated and derelict properties lies with the owner. Where properties are left empty the Council will always try work with the owners to bring the property up to standard and back into use. If this approach is unsuccessful the Council will use its powers under the Housing Act and take legal action against the owner requiring certain works to be done. If they do not comply, the Council can do the works and recharge the owner. In exceptional circumstances, the Council can make a case to compulsory purchase the property.

If you have any concerns about dilapidated and derelict properties or require any further information please contact Paul Freeman in the Private Sector Housing Team on 020 7341 5674 or at paul.freeman@rbkc.gov.uk.

Updates on redevelopments in the borough

The Chair of the Kensington Court Residents’ Association highlighted that local residents were particularly concerned about the plans to redevelop the Heythrop College site.

Residents also requested an update on the status of the Odeon redevelopment.

The Council has been involved in pre-application discussions with the applicants for the Odeon redevelopment since January 2019. These discussions have been about a revised scheme for the site which has now approved by the applicants who are now on site. This revised scheme includes a number of changes such as:

  • a single cinema provider and entrance on Kensington High Street
  • a more vibrant Kensington High Street as a result of the new retail and food and drink outlets which will replace the residential building entrances
  • additional housing, including affordable housing

The Council expects the applicant will submit a revised planning application in the coming weeks.

Resident involvement in planning

Generally, those at the forum voiced that they felt that residents were not involved in the planning process early enough. They felt that there was little residents could do to oppose planning decisions once an application had reached the planning committee hearing stage, especially with the limited amount of time allocated to objectors at planning hearings.

Councillor Johnny Thalassites (Lead Member for Planning and Transport) said that it was right that residents should be involved earlier in planning decisions to foster effective dialogue throughout the process and not just at the planning committee stage. He also informed residents of the Community and Resident-focused Environmental Services Transformation (CREST) initiative which is designed to improve the customer experience when reporting street-based issues through improved use of technology and single, rather than multiple, officer visits to problem sites.

The CREST initiative has led to the creation of a new joined-up team of officers called the Construction Management Team (CMT). The officers in the CMT have expertise in planning, transport and highways, street scene enforcement, parking and noise, vibration and dust. The CMT are responsible for ensuring that all building work in the borough complies with the requirements of the Council’s revised Code of Construction Practice ensuring responsible construction for the local environment and residents. Visit the Code of construction Practice page for details.

For further information regarding enforcement of the Code, the CMT can be contacted via email at environmentalhealth@rbkc.gov.uk or by phone on 020 7361 3002.

Basement developments

Residents also requested more information on the division of power between the Council and Central Government in planning decisions around basement extensions.

There is currently no national policy specifically on basement developments. There have been instances of private members’ bills being introduced into Parliament, and in 2016, the Government also undertook a ‘call for evidence’ on basement development, however no change in legislation or national policy has been adopted so far. Visit the GOV.UK website for further information.

The Council has a robust policy on basement developments. This places stringent requirements for developers to mitigate their construction impacts on residents, including a restriction on basements to be no more than one storey in most cases. In addition, in 2016 the Council introduced an Article 4 Direction, requiring all basements to have planning permission before they can be constructed. The Council also has a detailed Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on basement developments designed to help applicants understand the planning applications process and for residents to understand the various issues that the Council will consider in assessing planning applications related to basement developments. Visit the Basements SPD page for further information.

Air BNB

Residents asked if anyone was able to set up as a provider on Air BnB and requested more information on the rules for providers.

Further information on short term letting, including regulation and compliance for providers, can be found on the Planning Enforcement page.

Voluntary contribution to Council Tax

Residents requested further information on the Council’s scheme to enhance funding for opportunities for young people through residents making additional voluntary payments on top of their council tax. The Council asked wealthier council tax payers to voluntarily help us establish a charitable fund that invests in people, and helps them build the skills and gain the employment that will improve their lives and the future prospects of those around them.

More information on proposals for a Voluntary Contribution Scheme can be found in the report considered by the Leadership Team at its meeting on 5 June 2019.

Reflections on the Listening Forum

Residents said that they sometimes felt hesitant to go to the Town Hall to discuss their concerns, and that the Listening Forum had given them a good space to raise issues.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell thanked residents for attending and commented that it was good to hear from people the Leadership Team might not normally hear from.

 

Summary of the Listening Forum held on 22 July 2019 at Chelsea Old Town Hall

We would like to thank everyone who attended this Listening Forum.

Around 22 members of the public attended the Forum to share their thoughts and questions with the Leadership Team. Local ward Councillors also attended.

The key questions and issues raised included:

Youth services

Many residents came to the Listening Forum to talk about the closure of the Swinbrook Community Centre and the clubs for girls and boys which had been held at Al-Manaar Mosque. They raised their concerns about the effect that losing these services would have on the young people and children in their communities.

They said that the Mosque’s decision to stop running the children’s clubs had not been well communicated, and so they would like the help of the Council to find and secure a new venue for youth services, and/or to get the youth services provided by the Swinbrook Centre reopened.

Cllr Gerard Hargreaves, Lead Member for Culture, Leisure and Community Safety, and Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, Lead Member for Grenfell Recovery, Housing and Property, promised to look into a range of options in response to residents’ concerns. The youth provision delivered by Al Manaar and Swinbrook Centre was not Council funded, but officers have met with Al Manaar to discuss ongoing universal youth provision within the area and will meet with them again to discuss what the offer will look like in future.

Members of the Leadership Team emphasised their support for youth services and the key role they play in keeping young people safe. They explained that the recent Youth Review had asked people across the borough what they want from their youth services, and youth services were now being redesigned in response to what the Council had heard. Unfortunately, some residents at the Listening Forum had felt that they had not had the opportunity to contribute to the Youth Review process and the Council will communicate with these residents to keep them updated on implementation of the Youth Review.

Information on opportunities for young people

Residents requested information on apprenticeships for young people, particularly how young people without the correct grades/qualifications can access apprenticeship opportunities.

Information on apprenticeships for young people can be found by visiting the GOV.UK apprenticeships website or the Apprenticeships.gov website and the Council also advertises apprenticeship vacancies on the RBKC Careers portal. Additionally, young people who are currently in education can ask to speak to their school careers advisor.

The only requirement for a young person wishing to start a Level 2 apprenticeship (equivalent to GCSEs when completed) is that they are aged 16 years or older. It is also important for the applicant to demonstrate enthusiasm and an interest in the area of the apprenticeship.

Young people who are interested in starting an apprenticeship but who have little workplace experience might wish to consider a traineeship. A traineeship is a course that provides work experience and the opportunity to improve English and maths skills (if needed). It lasts up to 6 months with much of the time spent in the workplace. Unlike an apprenticeship, there is no contract of employment and no pay (salary) but financial support is available to cover expenses such as travel and meals. More information on traineeships can be found by visiting the GOV.UK traineeship website.

One resident said that she would like her children to have the opportunity to take part in Children’s Commissioner take over day and would like more information on how they could get involved.

Takeover Challenge 2019 is happening on 29 November 2019, and more information about how to get involved can be found on the First Careers website.

Bicycles left on pavements

Concerns were raised about bicycles for hire standing on pavements and how these could be a hazard to pedestrians, particularly to those who are blind, partially sighted, or elderly. Could the Council develop a policy to deal with hire bicycles on the pavement?

The Council has recently confirmed its support for efforts by London Councils and Transport for London (TfL) to create a new London-wide by-law that would give local councils greater control over where dockless bicycle operations may operate.

It is generally quicker to call the operator of the dockless bike scheme (such as; Lime, Mobike) and report poorly parked bicycles. All existing operators state that they adhere to TfL’s Dockless Bike Share Code of Practice and this document makes clear that all dockless bicycles must feature a sticker with a number which can be called for bikes to be relocated. For the green Lime bicycles, this number is 0800 808 5223. The Code of Practice requires operators to adhere to removal times of two hours in the case of danger or obstruction, or 24 hours where the bicycle is a nuisance.

Closure of South Kensington Post Office

Residents voiced their concerns regarding the closure of the Post Office in South Kensington. Cllr Johnny Thalassites, Lead Member for Planning and Transport, said that the Council shares the concerns of residents about the closure of the post office.

However, following the privatisation of Royal Mail in 2013, the Council’s ability to compel the management of Royal Mail to maintain this Post Office location is limited. The Council has contacted Royal Mail to ask for an explanation for the closure and to see what other options are available: we are awaiting a reply.

Plans for the development of South Kensington Tube Station

Residents said that the proposed development of South Kensington Tube station was not in keeping with the conservation area it is located within. They also mentioned that they do not want another expensive restaurant or offices on the site and fear the loss of small and independent shops as a result of the proposed development plans. Residents did comment that they were very happy with the refurbished shops by the station.

The concerns raised by the residents have been noted by the Council’s planning department. The developers have held two public consultation events where residents had an opportunity to comment on the proposals.

Kensington Forum Hotel planning case

Residents asked for clarification about the rules around planning decisions concerning developments in a conservation area. Information about these rules can be found on the Conservation Areas page.

Residents also raised the Mayor of London’s recent decision to overturn the borough’s decision on the Forum Hotel site. Read about this decision on the London.GOV website. Can boroughs can group together to challenge Greater London Authority (GLA) decisions? How can constructive relationships between the Council and the Mayor of London be ensured going forwards?

The Council is very disappointed that the Mayor has granted permission for this application despite the concerns raised by a large number of residents as well as the Council. We are currently seeking legal advice in respect of the decision taken. The basis on which to challenge this decision is through the judicial review process and this is usually considered individually by each borough, unless a proposal affects more than one.

The Council wants to have a constructive relationship with the GLA and hopes that this desire is shared.

The Sutton Estate

Residents asked for an update on the proposals to make the Sutton Estate part of a conservation area.

The Chelsea Estates Conservation Area which includes the Sutton and Samuel Lewis Estates was designated on 6 June 2019. A copy of the Conservation Area Appraisal and Map can be found on the Conservation Area Appraisals page.

Now that the conservation area has been established, there are tighter controls on what changes can be made to properties in the area.

Traffic and road safety

Residents raised their concerns for their own safety and the safety of their children due to road traffic. They were concerned about speeding cars and electric cars, as they are quiet and so children may not hear them.

The Council’s Transport department often receives correspondence from residents who are concerned about the speed of vehicles on their local streets. We can carry out traffic surveys to measure the volume and speed of traffic; very often we find that speeds are not as high as residents perceive, although sometimes we find there is justification for considering traffic calming features. Residents can report concerns about speeding to traffic@rbkc.gov.uk.

New electric vehicles will have to feature a noise-emitting device, under an EU rule that came into force on 1 July 2019. All new types of four-wheel electric vehicle must be fitted with the device, which sounds like a traditional engine.

Residents and councillors discussed the best way to deter drivers from speeding with suggestions such as a 20mph zone, speed signs, or speed humps. All of these potential solutions could also have drawbacks, such as increased pollution or hazards for ambulances: members of the Leadership Team said that they would try to take into account how people use cars and other forms of transport to come up with a solution.

There is no single perfect solution to the problems of speeding, and local residents do not always agree with proposals for speed humps. In the past couple of years the Council has used speed humps with a sinusoidal (or S curve) profile, which greatly reduce the noise associated with traditional humps. When spaced apart at the correct intervals, road humps can reduce speeds without encouraging drivers to brake and accelerate harshly between them – and so to address the concerns about pollution.

A resident highlighted that there were traffic management problems around the 49 bus stop on Gloucester Road which can get very congested as a result of tourist buses also stopping there.

The Council has no direct power over tourist bus services, which are approved by Transport for London (TfL), but we try to resist new tourist bus operations for the very reason that the resident has highlighted – they can add unnecessarily pollution and congestion to our roads. However, for the services which have already been approved, permits would need to be withdrawn which TfL are reluctant to do. We have passed on the comment to TfL so that they are aware that this is an issue which our residents are concerned about, with a view to discouraging tourist bus operators from stopping outside Gloucester Road station.

A resident asked about the borough’s efforts to reduce traffic, particularly traffic caused by Uber, Deliveroo, Quipup, and other delivery companies.

Home delivery services are growing in popularity – and so vehicle movements associated with them are also growing. The majority of these journeys are made on bikes or mopeds. The Council meets with companies offering these services to discuss localised issues that have arisen with some delivery riders. We would like to see a shift towards electric scooters and mopeds, which are much quieter than conventional versions.

Drug use and policing

A resident raised their concerns about people openly smoking cannabis in the area, and the lack of action from the police to stop this. They said that they would like to see more police on the streets.

Where residents have a concern of this nature, we encourage them go to their nearest police station to report it, or to call their local police by dialling 101. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. By doing so an accurate intelligence picture can be generated for the local police officers to target the problem and if necessary extra Police assets can be tasked to patrol the area and enforce any violations.

Lots Road Village

Residents commented that although Lots Road is designated as an Employment Zone, all recent planning permissions and current applications in the area are for residential purposes. The recent population increase in the Lots Road Village area has not been met with an increase in infrastructure and facilities for the community.

Recent schemes considered in Kensington and Chelsea include the Power Station scheme which was allowed at appeal and is currently being built out: this is a mixed-use scheme. The current application for 79-89 Lots Road is for an office building. It is also possible that some of the developments being referred to are in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Depending on the nature of developments, there may be financial obligations for the developer, including Community Infrastructure Levy, to provide infrastructure and facilities for the area. Any developments in Hammersmith and Fulham will be subject to the requirements set out by that Council.

Parks

Residents reported that there had been cases of people bringing their dogs into ‘no dogs allowed’ areas of parks in the borough.

The Council encourages responsible dog ownership and control in all of its parks and open spaces. Dogs (with the exception of assistance dogs) are not permitted at Redcliffe Square or in any of our fenced playgrounds, however they are allowed and welcome almost everywhere else in our parks as long as they are on a lead or, in areas where they are allowed off-lead, under control and the owners are responsible.

More information can be found on the Dog Control Orders page.

If residents have any concerns about dogs or dog-related issues then please contact the parks police in the first instance on tel. 0300 365 5101.

Housing

Residents asked for more information on proposals for key worker housing and how long it would take to be operational.

Residents also commented on unoccupied housing in the borough and the efforts of the Council to bring this unoccupied housing back into use.

The Council is currently consulting on our Housing Strategy, which includes provision for keyworker housing. How the Council defines what a ‘keyworker’ is will be decided in consultation with the community following the Housing Strategy consultation. Proposals will be considered by the Leadership Team following that consultation.

Waste and chewing gum on the streets

A resident said that there is an issue with chewing gum on local streets and suggested that getting local schools involved to show children the process of cleaning the streets of chewing gum may deter people from gum littering.

This is a great idea and gum disposal will now feature in the wide range of work the Waste Action Team already undertake with schools to promote recycling, waste reduction and littering. A programme of street cleansing does take place but we do acknowledge chewing gum is an issue and a problem to clean, so raising awareness of this will be beneficial.

A resident also requested information on waste management and refuse dumping. More information can be found on the Fly Tipping page and Bulky household waste collections page.

Councillor Cem Kemahli, Lead Member for the Environment, said that he was open to suggestions on piloting a scheme on waste and gum, and the Council is looking into options for more innovative ways of disposing of gum in the borough.

Holiday lettings

Residents requested more information on holiday lettings. Information on short term letting, including regulation and compliance for providers, can be found on the Planning Enforcement page.

Air and noise pollution

Residents asked what powers or influence the borough has to cut air and noise pollution.

Air Pollution: the Council’s Air Quality and Climate Change Action Plan (AQCCAP) 2016 - 2021 aims to improve local air quality and prioritise measures to reduce carbon emissions. Some of these actions will be led by the Council, focussing on its own activities, while others will involve working in partnership with residents and businesses to try to influence a change in behaviour to improve air quality. The AQCCAP and the Draft Annual Status Report 2019 (final report available in autumn) can be accessed by visiting the Air Quality Reports and documents page.

In addition to this, the Council has just secured funds from the Mayor of London to work in partnership with other local authorities in London on two projects to reduce air pollution. The first involves Non-Road Mobile Machinery (for example; diesel generator or other equipment) used on construction sites, which will have to meet tighter emission standards. The second is the ‘Healthy Streets Everyday’ project which will seek to implement streetscape improvements and promote increased walking by establishing clean walking routes in the Borough.

The Council is also now in the second year of the ‘Clean Air Village’ project. The aim this year will be to focus on deliveries and waste collections to see if these can be consolidated or shifted to ultra-low emission vehicles. The Council will also promote the use of electric vehicles.

The Council has powers under the Clean Air Act 1993 and in 2004 the whole of the borough was designated a ‘smoke control area’. This means it is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, or from a furnace or any fixed boiler. It’s also an offence to use an 'unauthorised fuel' unless it is in an 'exempt' appliance, and even then, it must be a specified fuel for that exempt appliance. Further information about this can be found on the Smoke Control page.

The Environmental Quality Team is also consulted on any planning application received by the Council. This allows them to assess any proposed development to see whether it may have an adverse impact on air quality and whether anything can be incorporated into the construction or operational phase of the development that may improve air quality. Developments with an adverse impact on air quality are recommended for refusal or planning conditions may be set to ensure best practice is adhered to.

Noise pollution: the Noise and Nuisance Team is consulted under both planning and licensing legislation. This allows the team to assess the potential impact that new developments (including plant and equipment) and licenced premises may have on residents. Proposals that will clearly cause unacceptable noise levels are recommended for refusal. Proposals may be acceptable if suitable conditions (such as controlling noise levels, hours of operation, location of plant) are applied, and the Noise and Nuisance Team makes recommendations for these.

The newly-formed Construction Management Team uses building control information to identify new construction sites, which are subject to legal notices that control the hours during which noisy works can take place. A Construction Bond has also been introduced requiring developers to pay a bond fee to cover the cost of any monitoring that is required, and is a powerful incentive to ensure that construction sites comply with noise control requirements featured in the Council’s Code of Construction Practice.

The Noise and Nuisance Team provides an out of hours service that provides near 24/7 coverage to deal with complaints of noise nuisance. This includes serving legal notices, issuing Fixed Penalty Notices, seizing noise equipment and prosecution. You can find more information on the Resolve a noise problem page.

The team also takes action against noisy licensed premises, calling for reviews of premises licences that have led to the cutting back of operating hours for example. The Noise and Nuisance Team is also the leading on the enforcement of the new Public Spaces Protection Order that has been introduced to control noisy and anti-social busking across the borough.Complaints about noise, including busking and street entertainment can be made to the Council by telephone to 020 7361 3002. An online reporting form is also available on the Contact the noise and nuisance team page.

Good governance and progress since the Grenfell Tower fire

Residents asked for an update.

The Council’s Audit and Transparency Committee considered evidence in July 2019 of how the Council is delivering against the 12 principles of good governance: this report can be found here and here.

Grenfell is the number one priority in the Council Plan and the Secretary of State recently stated that the Council is making clear progress in its response to the Grenfell tragedy. The Council has been changing its governance, its policies and its culture: these changes have been driven by the need to learn the lessons of the Grenfell tragedy and we will continue to work hard to deliver further improvements.

We understand that recovery and building trust will take generations, and we will work with residents, businesses and communities to do so: we aim to give the community an even greater voice.

Council Communications

A resident suggested that the Council needed to unify its social media programme to ensure that there was communication throughout the borough and that the Council’s social media channels were responsive to residents’ questions.

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Leader of the Council, said that the Council has new people on board in its Communications department and will look into the resident’s suggestions.

Work on this is already underway: the Council’s communications team has been responding to social media requests using their own resources at the same time as working with Customer Service staff to train them on social media to solve issues for residents. The team is also completing a thorough review of all digital channels, including websites, social media, apps, and e-newsletters, and will be launching a new approach later this year.

Reflections on the Listening Forum

Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Leader of the Council, thanked residents for attending the Listening Forum. She explained that the Council and the Leadership Team are trying to reach out to residents, and encouraged local people to talk to their ward councillors and sign up to talk at the beginning of a Council meeting. Information about speaking at the Council meeting can be found on the Speak at a Full Council Meeting page.

Residents thanked the Leadership Team for listening, being open to giving residents’ suggestions a go and said that there was a lot of passion behind the comments and suggestions given by residents and reminded them of the importance of making sure these discussions led to actions.