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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Psssst have you heard?

Oh dear...

Hornet was enjoying a little tipple the other night in a local hostelrie and couldnt believe her luck when three of the current Tory councillors came in, one clearly had been at the sherry.

Now Hornet isn't the kind of girl to do things in pubs, but she maneuvered herself discreetly to be in earshot of what these three plotters were up to.

Naturally its not something that can be printed up here just yet, in case it scuppers the plan. But the message is clear to those currently running the show up there....

....not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.

North Ken Academy Project on the ropes...

The North Ken Academy Project, one that was supposed to deliver a peerage is heading into stormy waters. Far more than Hornet first reported in previous posts.

The proposed site in W11 slaps the new school right in the middle of a current housing estate, resulting in the loss of a small park, beautiful and well established trees, children's creche and playground, sports pitches, parking space, and community rooms. All precious resources to the people that use them and live amongst them.

Of course the decision makers hell bent on destroying these dont live anywhere near them, rather in splendid georgian stucco fronted mansion blocks, brushed white victorian terraces, or multi million pound apartment blocks.

The council proposal to shove the academy on top of the Lancaster West Estate was born from a so-called consultation meeting held in July 2010 - one that crucially didnt involve the residents of the said estate, and the council readily admits not inviting them to attend! In error of course well they would say that wouldnt they!

An action group was set up and at one meeting over 200 residents attended to hear Cllr Coleridge suggest the community find an alternative venue to site the new academy! What a cheek! He should stick to doing the hokey-kokey, (yes, Hornet has the footage!).

Hornet has to say that the collection of Labour councillors didnt vote against this decision.


Now that got Hornet kind of wondering.......


The Department for Communities and Local Government issued planning policy guidelines that clearly state existing open space, like where the academy is set to occupy, should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space to be surplus to requirements.

Has anyone seen such an assessment? Has one been done? Did the council forget about this?

There is a need for secondary provision in the north of the borough, and everyone on that can agree, but the decision to create this monstrosity ripping the heart of out an established community is not the answer.

Hornet has already helped the council by suggesting an alternative, the old school that is currently used as an office can be brought back into use quickly, more cheaper and without all this disruption.

Hornet pledges support for the Grenfell Action Group, and hopes that the council will re-consider its decision.





More soon....

Monday, 24 January 2011

13 - Unlucky for some, or everyone?

As previously reported, every May the Conservative Group of councillors elects, or re-elects, their Leader who also becomes the defacto Leader of the Council in Kensington and Chelsea. For the last twelve years Cllr Cockell has been re elected unopposed. In the immortal words of Lord Acton: "Power corrupts. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely". Thirteen years is too long for a one person to hold the reigns of power in a democracy; hence why America limits the Presidential term term to a maximum of eight years. In Britain, the electoral system ensures (most of the time) that leadership is refreshed, though in recent years we have witnessed the shambles of leaderships (Thatcher and Blair) that went beyond their sell by dates.

The electoral safety net does not operate in Kensington and Chelsea because the Tories have a natural monopoly. The idea of any other party forming an administration in Hornton Street is remote. 70% of the vote is Conservative at local elections and most of this is on autopilot. And since the dustbins get cleared on time, voter apathy is rampant and only 30% turn out to cast their ballot. In these circumstances, Conservative councillors have a duty to the electorate to make sure that the right Leader is in place at the right time. The responsibility is in their hands.

Cockell's predecessor, Joan Hannam, stayed for eleven years as Leader. She stepped down after many of her councillor friends and supporters told her in confidence that she had stayed too long and it was time to go. Cllr Cockell, now in his thirteenth year as Leader, is a man in love with the trappings of power and has used the Cabinet system of Government to consolidate the power of patronage over councillors to ensure he clings to office. Young councillors know that stepping out of line will blight their prospects for ever and the older councillors know that stepping out of line will lose them their SRA's or deny them the prospect of SRA's. By driving up SRA's to levels that are the highest in the land, Cllr Cockell has created a patronage dictatorship. No one dares to tell the Emperor that he has no clothes.

If you need any evidence that the Gravy Train currently trolleying through RBKC is well and truly well oiled, look at the stops in H&F and Westminster where they receive much less in allowances.

The principal attribute of successful Leaders is their grasp of detail about their business. Not so Cllr Cockell. His world is one of rhetoric and fantasy. "A new school for unborn generations of children" (Statement at a Cabinet Meeting). "My Cabinet is worthy of 10 Downing Street" (Speech to Main Council Meeting). But ask him about traffic flows in Exhibition Rd and he does not have a clue. (Courtfield Ward Meeting). And history also tells us that when a major shift of circumstance takes place, like the economic crisis that we are in, new blood is required to identify and implement necessary change. The skill set and aptitude of the old guard is invariably out of tune with different times.

And leaders need to lead by example and demonstrate the core values of their constituency. Conservative values have thrift, honesty, openness and consistency at their core. It was only because of the new Freedom of Information Act that it was possible to unearth the extent to which Cockell was abusing his position to use tax payers money to travel First Class to American "conferences", dine at upmarket New York restaurants and entertain people whose names he "forgot" at weekend feasts in the Big Apple.

Read about it here

The publicity about his profligacy undermined Cllr Cockell's plans to move effortlessly from Kensington and Chelsea to a place in the House of Lords. A move that would have augmented his income stream from the Leader's £66k to a hoped for Govt job as Minister of Local Govt in the Lords (£110k). Cockell nursed this ambition for many years with his colleague Cllr Ritchie. In CCO she reigned supreme as Candidates Chairman, and he looked after her in the Town Hall where he rewarded her with a £53k Cabinet position. The planned Peerage never came, and of course there is now a problem because loss of the Leader's stipend of £66k would produce a financial crisis for Cockell who is dependent on the public purse. So he will try to cling to power with a new vengeance.

The Hornet sends this message to all Conservative Councillors in Hornton Street. "Enough is enough. Thirteen years is too long for one person to occupy the position of Leader. Consult and plan an orderly transfer of power in May 2011. Now is the time to start".

A number of councillors are able and willing to stand. The Hornet has been buzzing around and Cllrs Ahern, Borwick, Coleridge and Paget-Brown have all whispered their willingness to submit themselves for Leadership. Cllr Ritchie is more guarded but it is known that Cllr Cockell promoted her name vigorously when he feared for a time in 2010 that publicity about his expenses might force him out of office.

Go on, you know it makes sense.

Palmer v Foreman

Cllr Palmer offered Hornet the chance to debate Section 28 at a time and place of her choosing, which of course Dear Reader Hornet has politely declined.

Hornet is not a politician and has no desire to become one, and unlike Cllr Palmer is not obliged to answer to anyone on her views, opinions or voting record.

Cllr Foreman however has accepted the opportunity to debate with Cllr Palmer the merits of S28, and we wait to see if Cllr Palmer has the courage of his convictions to accept the challenge, or if he was merely using weasel words to tempt Hornet out of her hive and into the public domain.

Hornets money is on the latter.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Dont sit in silence

Rarely do the actions of insignificant politicians get Hornets' gander up. However, the council meeting held last week was scandalous if not downright disgraceful.

When the Conservatives last had their hands on the tiller of power, none of their MPs, and almost all their councillors would admit to being gay, they voted against lowering the age of consent for gay sex, and invented a law which made it illegal for schools to mention homosexuality. It became known as Section 28.
At the time the succession of looney-left wing councils declaring all out war on the right-wing Thatcher administration, whipping up a media frenzy over how school kids were being indoctrinated into homosexuality, Jenny lives with Eric and Martin, and how councils were promoting these unnatural lifestyles. All this set against a backdrop of the explosion of HIV/AIDS publicity caused nothing short of a firestorm.

It was all a load of rightwing claptrap buoyed by left wing antagonism.

Section 28 certainly succeeded in making schools like Sharia Islamic states when it comes to homosexuality, in as much as it doesnt exist. Despite the fact it is a facet of human society then as it is now. But problematically, any kid who was bullied and called a "poofter" or something equally as offensive the teaching staff could do nothing about it.

Now Hornet herself is not LGBT, but she has many friends and associates who would fall into one or more of these labels. As far as Hornet is concerned, it doesnt matter as long as they are decent people to be around.


What a difference a decade or so makes....

Boris Johnson addresses London Pride, and the Home Office chartered a float in the parade.

David Cameron, in 2009 apologised for Section 28, describing it as "offensive" and that the Conservatives in the past "may have made mistakes".

Only wind the clock back just a week and we get Palmer spouting off his praise for Section 28 and blundering around some wild notion how schools distributed books about masturbation.

Now Hornet doesnt know whether she should feel sorry for the people of St Charles in electing this overbearing dinosaur who still thinks its 1980 something, or for the handful of gay Tory councillors who sat there in silence allowing his mouth to run off in support of this bigoted offensive piece of legislation that was rightly repealed.

Stand up and be counted, and shut him up.

Stamping on Scrutiny

This evening Hornet had a knock at the hive door. Carefully opening the door Hornet caught a glimpse of a mysterious stranger running off down the street, but not before s/he had left a large package. Well, it was delivered electronically actually, but that kind of spoils the dramatic intro!

What could this be? Not not Boyo Moylan's silk smalls this was no DHL man. Buzzing back to the hive she tore open the exciting looking package. Imagine how she felt when out dropped out massive near 30 page tome illustrated with pictures and entitled The Royal Borough Guide to Scrutiny.

Now Hornet has told you that there are three things dear to her heart and the scrutiny comes in quite close...  so when saw that it was authored by HonJo Gardner assisted by the highly disagreeable Prof Coates, Scooter Boy Marshall and the 'near invisible to residents', Mary Weale she knew that she was going to be in for a long, boring read.

And sure enough as she leafed through the first few pages of gooblegook her worst fears were confirmed.

Don't get me wrong Dear Reader, Hornet enjoys a good book from time to time, having just polished off Jamies 30 Minute Meals in just under 25 minutes. Hah! So much for that title.

Surely this was a creation of Dear Leader and co desperate to convince long suffering residents that there was some form of restraint against the worst excesses of the dictatorial and profligate duopoly: after all, it follows hard on the heels of another attempt by Boyo to pretend to consult residents on planning matters with his Resident Planning Advisory Committee or some such sop.

In this day and age with the cabinet system of governance scrutiny is critically important for two reasons. Firstly, as now all the power is vested in the hands of the desired few, just nine of them in fact and of course the Dear Leader, it is very important that they realise every decision they make is going to be examined and reviewed to make sure its the right one. 

Secondly, the other forty five or so councillors who have sweet fanny adams to do when it comes to decision making, and this includes all the opposition members of course as well as the tory back benchers, can actually do something to earn their generous allowances.

Anyway, The Hornet, when she can summon up the energy will report back to loyal readers - but don't expect anything revolutionary. Scrutiny and democracy are ill bedfellows in the Rotten Borough.

Incidentally, was not the HonJO seen popping into the Post Office to buy some stamps whilst the 50 litre Mayoral Bentley sat idling by, chauffeur waiting, on a double yellow line? Nah! Heaven forbid....

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Call to arms!

Since launching this little blog a while back Hornet has made many friends with the disaffected, ignored and downtrodden people of the borough. One of those has asked her today to launch a boroughwide campaign.

The community group called "Residents First" is looking for community minded people who want to stand up and be counted, and help drive forward change in the borough.

They are looking for people who care about the area they live or work in and not only want to see change but help bring it about. It doesnt matter if you have never done anything like this before, or if you previously supported a particular political party, as they have plenty of people who do to help you along.

So if you have your principal place of residence or employment anywhere in K&C and want to help ResidentsFirst deliver change, then they want to hear from you. You dont have to commit every waking hour, or have to attend a plethora of meetings - you do what you can, when you can.

Send an email here and they will do the rest.

Please dont ask Hornet, as she is only the messenger and nothing to do with these fellows.

All Change at the top?

The end of the municipal year is nigh, and at this time everyone starts thinking about the internal elections.

The one twelve years or so back was the corker of course, but now seats are twitching. The Dear Leader hasnt announced he intends to step aside, of course he hasnt. But that doesnt stop the posturing and positioning of those hankering after the top job from jostling around in the melee.

So who exactly is going to put their head above the parapet and stand for the leadership?

Well, only they know that but Hornet can at least speculate as to who she thinks wants the job....

In true X-Factor style, and in no particular order here are just some of the contenders....


Nicholas Paget-Brown

Environmental enthusiast and director of Pelham Research, our Transport, Environment and Leisure supremo is a prime candidate. Fresh-ish from his crushing defeat in the 1992 General Election defeat in Don Valley and of course being the one that brandishes the whip he must relish the leatherette recliner chair.

NPB is a self confessed opposer to European integration and wasnt exactly a fan of David Cameron before the election. His strengths are that he hasnt had junkets to the states and he does cut a dashing figure, but of course his involvement in the perceived destruction of everything that is right about Portobello could go against him.






Tim Ahern

One time borough mayor Timbo would, Hornet is sure, love to be leader of the council and have a Nespresso machine on his desk at his disposal, not so sure about the wood panelling, thats so 1985. Tims stint as mayor was pretty uneventful, he did a good enough job but lets face it in a borough with a built in majority you couldnt really go wrong. 


Mr Ahern is a company secretary of a resources company called the Rose Partnership and it seems other leading people there do have a connection with Mr Ahern. He also is owner of Princelet Consultants flogging life assurance. His strengths are that he probably actually wants the job, but that fringe will have to go.



Matthew Palmer

Oh come on, there has to be an outsider.












Look out for the next set soon....

Policy Confidential

Hornet has come across a paper, "Options for saving overhead costs by merged or collaborative arrangements across the three boroughs." Which, loosely translated means how can we save money when the Super London Borough of Royal Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham is created a bit later on....

Twelve pages long, it seems to be a collaborative piece by so many people. Never in the field of human contributions has so much been done by so many for so few. Over 100 staff have been busying ferreting away in the town halls looking at options for integration benefits.

Basically the thrust of the report suggests that only if budgetary savings can be made will the three boroughs continue down the road to the anschluss. The secret paper makes the point that the three senior teams in the boroughs unanimously agree there is enough evidence of a "collaboration dividend" to continue. However, it is clear the savings will only be realised in savings; a big bang approach is too risky and the costs of IT integration could look significant.

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering...

In the private sector, change of this nature needs to be much more directive because "the talkers" primary concern is to preserve jobs and empires. Also, the Leaders who drive though this kind of change need to be different from the old - it is a new skill set.

The biggest indicated savings are IT (up to £30 million). Nice in theory but in practise important to run the old systems in parallel until the new ones are proven. Responsible implementation will not produce quick savings.

The huge scope is to tackle the profligate spending immediately. This will be resisted because it is all pet projects. Exhibition Road, North Ken Academy and so on.

Also, the asset register shows that K&C has £billions in the books (car parks, buildings, parks etc). On a different scale to Hammersmith and, probably, Westminster. An alternative approach could be to sweat these assets (sale, lease back, outright sale, mortgage etc).

It doesnt take a genius to work out that if you have three boroughs, one of which was a different shade of political colour for many many years, it is reasonable to expect they are running different IT systems. It is fair to assume that each borough on its own, doesnt have the resources to safely encapsulate one of the other two, let alone both, at the drop of a hat. The report says the three boroughs collectively use over 150 business systems with very little overlap. Nice.

Likewise, with each borough standing as they are, on their own, they dont enter into contracts with private or public sector service providers with an eye on in the future decision to merge with a neighbour. The price refuse disposal experts give Westminster is based on Westminster, and the contract was signed X number of years ago and runs until 2000-and something. You cant just rock up to the offices of Veolia and say "er, from next Monday do you mind running up the Cromwell Road to Hammersmith and do them aswell". Well, they could ask but Mr Veolia isnt really going to give a printable response.

So exactly where does the proposed millions of savings come from?


Environment

By adopting a shared management scheme, combined library service with the same (or nearly the same) number of sites, but remodelled staffing. Combined parking services and substituting parking patrols for more use of cameras. Remodelling staffing and management in Environmental Health, Highways and Transport. Integrating and outsourcing culture and leisure, sharing park constabulary, cemetary management and so on.


Corporate Services

Centralising financial services, outsourcing a joint Revenue and Benefits Service, and outsourcing IT to staff located outside of London. 

Adult Social Care & Childrens services

Containing the significant demographic pressures in future years, reducing duplication and managing dependency better. Merging assessment, provision and procurement across the spectrum are all areas under consideration.


Of course with a super borough we wont need three Town Clerks or Chief Executives, maybe just one and a deputy? Oh to be in the civil service pension pot....

Paved with Granite

Bojo's plan for a Thames estuary airport was in the news yesterday, as his Transport expert our very own Danny Moylan was quoted something along the lines of the plan is still on the table. This is despite almost everyone else with any modicum of sense saying its too expensive, way to disruptive, and environmentally a timebomb.

Still, if for any reason it does actually get off the ground (lol) then maybe Danny Moylan could get his Chinese Granite suppliers for Exhibition Road to pave the runways, and of course, get a discount from DHL who can base their courier planes there.

Diversity Champion - Cllr Foreman

Following on from Hornets last post, she has received some information about a Councillors efforts to get the borough recognised by Stonewall as a diversity champion.

Hornet cannot express how pleased she is for this action.

For the benefit of the unenlightened, Stonewall is one of the leading Charitable organisations in Britain that promote Gay, Lesbianm Bi-Sexual and Transgender rights. (LGBT). Now before any of you hard right wingers start weeping into your CWF brochures and Section 28 Remembered Leaflets, its 2011, get over it.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with anything other than helping men and women who consider themselves to be LGBT in having a responsive and inclusive workplace that enables them to work without prejudice and to provide the quality service the people of the borough deserve.

So hats off to Cllr Todd Foreman, who at a recent cabinet meeting circulated a paper encouraging the council to sign up to Stonewalls Diversity Champion Programme. He rightly points out that being a council recognised for its dedication to minority rights will help develop existing staff and so deliver better services, and will also attract other staff who, if the council has a good reputation will want to come and work here.

Section 149 of the Equalities Act 2010 makes it a requirement from April of this year that the council engage with employees to eliminate discrimination and harassment, to advance equality and foster good relations. What better way to show this in respect of LGBT workers by becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion?

The cost? Less than £2000, and thats less than the cost of DHL-ing papers out to Moylan in Thailand, and of course substantially less than the cost of Cockle's soirees out to Uncle Sam.

After all, we have a good representation of LGBT councillors, so why not do something for the workers?

Monday, 17 January 2011

COMING SOON

WestEnders is taking a little break, so in its place for a limited season only will be....



The every day story of a street in SW5, the people that live there and the flash cars parked outside.

COMING SOON!

Diversity isnt just a dance troupe

You have heard Hornet opine before there are three things that she holds dear, and separately you have read about all three; charitable efforts, diversity, and the fight for what is right.

Any organisation is only as good as the people in it, thats the people running it and the people actually doing the things that make it work. Its a golden rule of business, and one that also applies to the local authorities.

In fact, when it comes to councils it goes alot further as we elect people to serve us (despite their best intentions to assume its the other way round, we elect them so we can serve them). We should have elected members that represent a fair section of borough society.

So, in a borough where the latest census figures show (and lets face it, they are 10 years old already and way out of date - much like most of the furniture in the members room) it shows there are 159,000 or thereabouts people living in RBKC.

Of those, 79,500 are white British, therefore (and it doesnt take a genius to work this one out does it Roundell) thats half the people that live here. Adjust that for population shifts over the last 10 years and it would be fair to say that less than half the people who live in the borough are considered white British.


Now that got Hornet kind of wondering................

Take a look at the 54 councillors the political parties have put forward for you to vote for. Generally speaking, it would be reflective of our boroughs population if at least half considered themselves not to be white British.

So exactly how many Asian Councillors are there, despite them making up more than 10% of the population?
How many Black councillors are there, they make up over 20% of the boroughs population? And how many Muslim, Hindu, Chinese or mixed race councillors are there?

None. Nada.
Niet, Niente.
Niets. Gar nichts (thats one for you Daniel)
Kuch Nahin.
Jack S#@t

It is an utter disgrace that every one of the 54 councillors are white, and the closest any of them would come to understanding what social housing means would be when they read about in the Sunday Telegraph while sipping a glass of Pimms.

Letters Page

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest we become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”
 
David Cameron, George Osborne or Merrick Cockell in 2010?
 
No. Cicero – in 55BC !



A Hornet Reader

Sunday, 16 January 2011

North Ken Academy

News will be appearing here shortly over the North Ken academy plan.

Hornet thanks the little people, and promises she hasnt forgotten you.

Post your Views

January 21st is your chance to put forward your views on the proposals to close the Post Office on High Street Kensington, on the corner of Earls Court Road, by Waitrose.

The Royal Mail propose to move the Post Office from its current location, to 208 High Street Kensington by the junction with Phillimore Gardens.

There is a long standing proposal to redevelop the current site, along with the Odeon Cinema into residential and commercial properties with a multiplex cinema in the basement.

Contact rbkc.gov.uk for more details on the consultation.

Economic with the Economy

The Federation of Small Businesses published a survey recently that showed around 40% of small businesses had no contact with the Royal Borough Council chiefs. Worryingly a further 20% said they didnt think the council has any interest in talking with them anyway.

Well, dear reader, thats hardly a surprising situation when you consider the heavy handed way the council act over traders in Portobello Road, and of course shovelling over £20million into the Exhibition Road project that has upset almost everyone.

But that got Hornet kind of wondering....

The council is run by a cabinet system, that is, there is a leader (sorry, a Dear Leader) and he appoints a bunch of others to "help" run the place. Each one of these lucky fellows has a specific job to do, like schools, housing and libraries, for example.

Have a goose at the list of portfolios set up by these clowns and you can clearly see the reason why the FSB survey has K&C at such a low rating.

There is no cabinet member responsible for the economic health of the borough. Public health, environmental health, schools, finance, IT, and the like are all there, but no mention of anyone responsible for the economic health of the borough.

So there you are.

Lets see what happens at the next re-shuffle. Perhaps the Dear Leader whoever it will be will do something to address this deficit.

Battle Royal to save Gardens

Thames Waters' plan to create a tunnel under the Thames to help cleanse the water has met with a storm of protest in the south of the Borough.

Residents around the plans to construct an access road in Cremorne Gardens have petitioned Thames Water against the proposed "super sewer".

The £3.6bn tunnel could take up to eight years to construct and local people met with their local councillors  with Nasty Nick Paget Brown saying the council are opposed to the proposal.

Well, having narrowly won the recent Cremorne By Election, they would say that wouldn't they, and no doubt the very close runners up will be looking at Section 106 proposals if this planning application ever reaches committee stage.

PA? P-Off!

Hornet has just been sent by 'disgruntled' of Hornton Street(thank you...keep them coming) a fascinating insight into how the Mayor, The Great Architect and Dear Leader live the high life whilst far down food chain front line services are being vapourised.

So what does this interesting directory tell us? Well Dear Reader, you will be pleased to know that symbolism reigns in the gilded chambers of  Hornton Street.

Starting from the top....our Mayor has, to support him,( hopefully, he did not have to perform this function for the disgraced ex Mayor, The Worshipful Cllr Phelps or Darhling Dalton)- a Civic Officer and a Private Secretary. And then supporting the Private Secretary, an Assistant Private Secretary and in support of these two worthies, a PA to the bucolic Worshipful Mayor. And last but not least, 3 fine Mace Bearers and a covey of drivers to polish the Bentley and the Jag.

We have not begun to look at the retinue of the Deputy Mayoress.

Moving on along the Executive Corridor, the Hornet espies the Dear Leader's magnificent suite. There, arrayed around Sir Cockle are, a Head of Office, a Personal Assistant, a Political Aide and various junior gofers. Supervising everything are a motley bunch of Cabinet staff totalling several in all.
Making sure that she did not disturb this important personage Miss H swooped down the corridor to see the Great Architect marching along with his own Personal Assistant trailing behind him, notebook in hand, as she jotted down his important appointments and requirements...tickets for Bangkok, fun lunches and DHL deliveries of silk smalls....oh yes, and deep frozen cheesecake for Bangkok

Yes, Gilbert and Sullivan could not have made it up, in the words of Mr Phelps! But Hornet can well imagine what frontline staff facing the axe might be thinking.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Dear Leader's New Year Message to the troops...

It hardly needs me to tell you that we have a tough time ahead. By now our Treasurers will have cut through the media spin and know how much less cash will be available next year. We are going to have to take some difficult decisions and the opposition will irresponsibly claim cataclysmic results.

But let’s get real. I didn’t stand for election to be an administrator or for an easy life and I doubt you did either. We stood to represent and serve our local community, set policy and take decisions about local public services.



This was just some of the trite nonsense written on Conservative Home by Dear Leader. But what stung Hornet was Dear Leader's claims: odd coming from a man known for his vast allowance,love of $200 dinners for two at the Four Seasons Hotel, NY, First Class air travel and luxurious limos.


Pull the other one Merrick....you love the easy life 'on the tax'. Anyway, judging from the posts Con Home readers thought little of his pontifications.

"I did not stand for Council to be an administrator or for an easy life" What patronising rubbish

The CCA does sweet FA of any value to any councillor it is just a racket to get money £30 per year x 10,000 councillors x 4 years = £1.2m to party funds for a quarterly magazine

The CCA is a criminal waste of time, they provide no help to conservative councillors, but every year we *must* pay them a tax of £35. It is little more then a club for some in favour Notting Hill set of Daves Mates, paid for out of an obligatory tax.

Sir Merrick's new battlecry of 'we are ready for and excited by the opportunity to reform local public services, reflecting local priorities and making them fit for the future rather than the past.' is not one that will resonate with Conservative councillors and council tax payers up and down the land. 2007 was a good local government election year for us. 2011, I fear will not be so good. The real challenge to Conservative candidates on the doorstep, is answering the question 'How are you going to deliver the same or better services for less? With personal budgets strained our best hope for electoral success lays in our old battlecry. 'Low Council Tax'.

Sir Merrick, the name of the current game is setting an example.You need to explain why RBKC councillors pay themselves some 35/40% more than Conservative councillors in other boroughs.And yet, in administrative terms,RBKC is the most compact, the richest and the most easy to administer of any Borough in the land.For example Stephen Greenhalgh of H&F takes £35k pa, and you, nearly double. It must be terribly hard convincing, about to be fired staff, that it for the common good, when you and colleagues just refuse to bring your allowances down. Such a gesture would be very well received.



Saturday, 8 January 2011

Letters Page

Dear Hornet

I agree with all you say about the Leader of K & C Council but the thing is, he is a weak man who is influenced by another. There is a certain councillor in K & C who typifies all that is wrong with the Kensington & Chelsea Council . We all know his name, Daniel Moylan. He is the “Grand Master” who rules K & C. Somehow this man has wheedled his way on to committees on public art. He is the one who is consulted whenever there is a controversial (so-called) modern development. He loves 20th century retro architecture, so why he doesn't go and live in the Docklands or Birmingham I don’t know.

Moylan never seems to take on board residents opinions. Thus he upset most of the residents in Chelsea with his Sloane Square proposals . He upset Earl’s Court with is imposition of an overlarge and expensive newspaper stand. Then he again upset the local residents with a proposal to put a crass piece of Public Art on to an obscure traffic island in Warwick Road- at a cost of £100,000 in the very week of the Banking crisis! He upset the residents in the Holland Park area by giving a pretentious half hour speech on surrounding the grade 2 listed Commonwealth Institute with three boring blocks of flats. These he described as “perfect cubes”. Now the line of Plain Trees which front the Institute, giving the illusion that the Park continues along the frontage, will be chopped down. All this against the majority of residents wishes.

As for Exhibition Rd, another gigantic waste of money and doubtless we will see the beautiful 'antique' lamp standards torn down and replaced by hideous stainless steel junk.

Moylan now has a conflict of interest in that his dead hand will have influence over the Earl’s Court Exhibition redevelopment. Being deputy leader of K & C and working for Transport for London ensures that. This old fashioned. dated Tory has too much power over Planning matters and should resign from the council.

Moylan spends public money like it was his own. Papers sent to his Thailand flat and expensive entertaining are just two of many examples.

I agree with you entirely about the Holland Park School fiasco. The proposed new building is a monstrosity, too large,and replacing a better building. When Holland Park School opened in the 1960’s it was pretty ugly but in later years they improved the buildings using brick as a finish. At the beginning there was 2,500 pupils, far too many. The school was chaos and was a failure until they reduced the numbers down to about 900.

Keep up the good work.

Regards,


Resident Association Chairman

Award for Moylan - VIP Traveller of the Year Award

Hornet is pleased to see that the Great Architect, Boyo Moylan has been given a New Years Honour.

No sadly (for Him at least), it is not from HM the Queen or indeed the Royal Institution of British Architects: they have already tried to puff up his ego by giving a worthless Hons membership.

No, it's from that delicious organ which the Hornet encourages you to buy, so you can see the lunatic actions of other councillors, Private Eye.

Oh yes, as you read it here first, our very own Danny Boy who over the last few years has buggered off to Thailand at the drop of a straw hat and of course had your council tax pay to courier out the papers he otherwise would have had to deal with around a desk in the Town Hall, instead of a pool in the exotic paradise where he has a second home.

Danny was enobled with a "highly commended" award.

Cheesecake all round!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Acadamy Infamy

Just a couple of weeks ago Hornet bought news of Merrick Cockell's 'slash and burn' panic strategy initiated to cope with the financial firestorm. Decent forward planning would have avoided losing rafts of essential front line people and services now being planned.

Hornet said then any top Manager worth their salt would have reduced spending on non essentials. Instead Dear Leader relentlessly pushed ahead, wasting resident's hard earned money on irrelevant schemes whose only objective was to enhance the ego's of Cllrs Moylan and Cockell. 

Boyo Moylan chose the £30 million extravaganza that is Exhibition Road; Cockell, not to be outdone, and desperately seeking his peerage, chose to destroy the perfectly good Holland Park School and rebuild at an initially budgeted £33 millions, but now far in excess of that.It is a project plagued with cost and construction over runs.

If that were not folly enough the new school flies in the face of Governmental and educationists' current wisdom on school size.But if he was going to ignore guidelines you might have thought Dear Leader would have added a couple of hundred more places; after all it would have been easy to do, and parents tell Miss Hornet they are desperate for places. Even Ofsted said there was nothing wrong with the existing school facilities.

A leading opponent of the scheme had this to tell Hornet....

For years we opposed the rebuilding plans and sale of the playground, but our alternative vision of enhancement of the facilities was suppressed by the Council Leadership under Merrick Cockell. We even thought we had the support of Boris Johnson:supposedly opposed to the sale of playing fields to greedy developers".

But no, Merrick Cockell wanted his "Peerage Passport" in Holland Park at a cost of tens of millions of pounds and the welfare of current pupils.

Our angry informant went on to say, 'we warned that big schools, like Holland Park with 1500 students, were things of the past out of step with modern day society. Redevelopment plans should have been scaled down and and a new school built in North Kensington:something parents have been demanding for over a decade.

Michael Gove himself constantly iterated that official Government policy is for 'small' not 'mega' schools, with all the societal problems 'mega' schools provoke. But of course, Cockell knew better... 

Now we hear of another scandalous misuse of our money the Leader is keen to keep very quiet.... Because Dear Leader is 'examination lite' , he and Britain's highest paid headmaster, Colin Hall overlooked the fact that Government education regulations have strict noise requirements for examinations.

Having spent millions of pounds of taxpayer's money on consultants, planning, and the operation of open warfare against residents opposed to the Trophy project, there is now nowhere for 1500 students to take their exams over the next several years ! The Town Hall has been mooted by those who know but this has been pronounced a 'no no'

So what has our brilliant education committee decided to do ? Yes, spend over £500,000 on a disused car park, more than a mile away from the school, to create temporary exam accommodation.....yes, a DISUSED CAR PARK! As the Daily Mail, and ex Mayor, Barry Phelps are fond of saying, "you could not make it up"

The principal culprit (noise) will also impact the teaching of 1500 students, day in and day out, at the school building site for the next four years. Concerned residents warned about the crass stupidity of knocking down and rebuilding a school, with 1500 students remaining on site, whilst teachers attempted to teach: a stupid education policy brought about by personal greed, petty ambition and vanity.

In the immediate term, unfortunate exam students are huddled into the temporary Luise Bloom Building with inadequate light and no toilet facilities. One can imagine the storms of protests when poor exam results come in.

The council option focuses on an existing Council lease with National Car Parks, for office space vacant for the last three years: another example of incompetent planning by Town Hall fat cats. Exam students will be a convenient scapegoat to bring back empty space into use, burning up tax payers money. NCP, the site owners, can be expected to drive a hard bargain. They are laughing as they pull Cockell over their barrel and all the way to their private equity owners. Oh what fun this CCT, kerching kerching.

There can be no confidence in the proposal to convert and rent the car park offices at a cost of £550k. It will escalate and the only beneficiaries will be hard nosed NCP.

In the current situation of "cockell up's, incompetence and arse covering" we need a Leadership (not Cockell) to take some commonsense decisions and negotiate a sensible short term "fix" in the interests of the students. 

There is a sensible solution which the Hornet offers.Just a few hundred yards from the school is the empty Commonwealth Institute. It is tranquil; it has large hallsand toilets and can be brought into service, in Dunkirk Spirit, to cope with the immediate needs of the next four years. Sir Stuart Lipton, the developer, and Charlotte Townsend,the freeholder, might welcome the opportunity for some rephrasing, and answer the call from the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the rich be prepared to make sacrifices too; after all, both Lipton and Townsend are Croesus rich and can afford the gesture to help their friend Cockell out of trouble.

Heads in Hornton Street need to roll starting with Cockell......

So once again Hornet throws down a challenge and a solution to Dear Leader for this embarrassing scenario. But don't hold your breath for an intelligent response-you will suffocate, for Dear Leader goes into a sulk if anyone gives him sound advice ! Either that, or demote them or cut off their SRA at the next re-shuffle!

£3.4 million in contingency is in the budget....£1.8 million has now gone. Watch out for a discreet 'restocking' of the Contingency Budget as more results of ill planning come to light.

You heard it here first.

Monday, 3 January 2011

I'm a Dalton Dahling...

Andrew "Darhling" Dalton is a man noted for his tremendous self importance, gross pomposity and religious fervour-all in equal measure.

Our ex Mayor who was subject of much mischievous press comment as he tried to exit, with dignity from the 50 litre Bentley behemoth, has been telling the world that his 'K' is 'on the way'....very important for the minor public school educated chap that he is.

Known for his obsequiousness to those who can smooth his path and gross rudeness to those who can't, it is suggested that 'Darhling' has a cunning plan to assure his elevation to the same social level as Sir Cockle: by making donations to the Chelsea Academy.

Now the Hornet loves to hear stories of guileless philanthropy and he hopes that whoever is seeding these stories is barking up the wrong tree. 

Incidentally, can anyone can tell the Hornet why this ex mayor is know by the sobriquet 'Darhling'? And nothing smutty please.....

Pickles slaps down Parking Charges

Coalition Governments Local and Communities Bruiser, Eric Pickles has in the national press attacked local authorities raising parking charges.

In what appears a good move, the Government have swept away alot of the red tape imposed by the previous Labour administration that tried to persuade people to use public transport by pushing up parking spaces and reducing their availability. Perhaps not so good on the environment.

Ministers claim it is to signal the start of the end of "decade long war against the motorist". Mr Pickles told the press "Whitehall’s ­addiction to micromanagement has created a parking nightmare with stressed-out drivers running a gauntlet of unfair fines, soaring charges and a total lack of residential parking.

‘The result is our pavements and verges crammed with cars on kerbs endangering drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, increased public resentment of overzealous parking wardens and escalating charges and fines.

‘Today the Government is calling off Whitehall’s war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting ­residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges.

'We expect councils to follow suit. From now on, communities have the freedom to set competitive local charges that bring shoppers to the high street, proportionate enforcement and the right number of spaces for new development."


So, with the much heralded "shared space" in Kensington High Street, the amount of traffic flowing through Kings Road, and of course the competition from Europes largest innercity shopping mall, Westfield, what will our council do to help promote local businesses and encourage local shopping?

Double parking charges of course.

Oh yes, and chuck £100,000 at the ill-fated Wedge Card, that isnt promoted by shops, not used by those who have one, and those that dont have never heard of it anyway.

Great job.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year - 30,000 readers!

30,000 readers cannot be wrong. Hornet thanks everyone for making her site triple her year end target.

Fear not, dear Reader, Hornet is back buzzing around the hive and raring to go into 2011 with even more local news about our borough, neighbours, and of course the political machinations going on in the Town Hall.

Hornets mission for 2011 is simple. To address the democratic deficit that pervades the borough, to ensure those paid from the public purse actually earn their stipend and to remind those who feel they can dip into the trough had better watch out for the Hornet sting.


You can play a part in bringing about the democratic utopia Hornet seeks by sending in information, any tip, about anything will be dutifully examined by the Hornet. You do not need to give your name, you dont even need to sign it, just tip Hornet the wink and she'll do the rest.

Email your info to   anon.email@ymail.com
Coming soon,  24hour hotline you can leave messages or sms.

BE ASSURED. Hornet will never reveal her sources, unless you state otherwise all information received will be treated in the strictest confidence


Happy New Year.