One of Liberal Democrat-run Kingston Council's proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act has been shortlisted for consideration by the Communities Secretary.
Kingston’s call for the local retention of business rates, which would have huge implications for Councils across the country, was approved by the Local Government Association and will be delivered to Secretary of State for further review.
Kingston’s Executive Member for Transport Cllr Bob Steed, has publicly criticised the London Mayor’s “insulting” decision to withdraw free travel on New Year’s Eve for parts of the capital without Tube services, on top of the increased cost of TfL fares to local residents in 2010.
Earlier this month, the Deputy Leader of Kingston Council attended the graduate2business event at Kingston University: a locally run project which helps unemployed graduates find employment and supports businesses in recruiting skilled interns.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Liz Green took up the opportunity to speak with local business leaders and students, asking them how the economic downturn is affecting them. She also discussed the graduate2business project with its organisers, finding out how this locally run initiative is helping residents of the borough.
An innovative practice has been launched by the local authority to discourage the sale of puppy farmed dogs in the borough. The Council will now apply additional conditions onto all new and renewed licences of local pet shops.
These new measures are a direct result of the political leadership of Liberal Democrats at Kingston Council.
We have persistently campaigned against the disgraceful practice of pet shops selling on puppy farmed dogs to unwitting customers. Not only are there serious animal welfare issues involved, but as these dogs are believed to develop genetic deformities and acquired diseases, we consider the selling of battery farmed dogs as healthy pets to be a crystal clear case of consumer deception.
Puppy farmed dogs
The Liberal Democrat office at Kingston Council has lobbied Parliament with the concerns of local residents over the un-regulated sale of “puppy farmed” dogs in the borough.
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Kingston has yet again received a dreadful financial settlement from Gordon Brown’s Labour Government.
Its grant to Kingston will increase by only 1.5% - the lowest it can give - and not the 4% that Labour claims all councils are receiving.
Last week, the Government revealed the provisional figures for its 2010/11 grant settlement for local authorities. The Royal Borough of Kingston received the minimum 1.5% “floor” increase, despite recessionary pressures creating increased demands on the Council’s services. Kingston’s grant continues to be one of the lowest in London.
While this pittance of an increase was the third settlement in a three year programme and so came as no surprise, we are still disappointed that Kingston continues to get such a bum deal from central Government funding.
The provisional settlement for 2010/11 gives us an additional £1.64 per head of population, despite the average London borough getting £6.89. Tory-flagship Hammersmith and Fulham Council now receives £678 per resident, while “leafy” Kingston gets just £231.
As a borough we suffer real pockets of deprivation, and have unprecedented demand for school services. The Council will be writing to the Labour Government demanding a fairer deal for Kingston.
Yesterday afternoon Kingston’s Fairtrade councillor Liberal Democrat Bart Ricketts, helped out at a road show outside the town centre’s Guildhall which sampled and promoted ethically-sourced products.
He said: “Kingston’s Liberal Democrat-run Council is committed to being a Fairtrade Borough. We offer Fairtrade products at meetings, public events and even in ‘snack boxes’ in our offices.
"I am immensely proud to support the campaign for a better deal for disadvantage farmers and workers in the developing world.”
Community Services at Kingston Council have been inspected by the Care Quality Commission and given a score of 3. This is the second highest of four grades, and is rated as 'Performing Well'.
Councillor Rolson Davies, Executive Member for Health and Adult Community Services, said: “The Care Quality Commission recognises that Kingston has the leadership capacity to deliver a change agenda, with a clear vision for adult social care supported by the Executive.
In January the Executive will consider an action plan for the coming year to address the areas where we can improve further and ensure that local residents continue to have access to high quality adult care services.”
You can read Kingston's assessment here.
At 1st December meeting of the Executive, Kingston’s Lead Member for Schools announced that the borough would be receiving better-than-expected levels of Government funding for the expansion and new build of local schools.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Patricia Bamford, the Council officer team and local MPs were acknowledged by the Executive panel and audience members for their hard work in getting Government recognition for the exceptional and unprecedented demand for education services in Kingston upon Thames.
At last week’s Executive meeting, Kingston Council’s Lead Member for Economic Development updated the chamber of the local initiatives which the local authority is running to help residents and local businesses during the economic downturn.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Simon James said: “As a borough we suffer ‘leafy Kingston syndrome’. The economic pressures on the Council and the difficulties faced by our residents and local businesses are often ignored.
“But Kingston is suffering in this recession like everywhere else. The effects are being felt slightly differently locally as we have particularly high levels of managerial unemployment. It’s important we have a bespoke local response in order to keep our town centres vibrant and local workers in their jobs. We have also been providing active support for residents who are unemployed or at risk of redundancy.”
In the week before world leaders meet at the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, Kingston Council formally signed up to the 10:10 carbon cutting commitment.
At last night’s meeting of the Executive, Kingston’s Lead Member for the Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change Cllr Bob Steed said: “The 10:10 campaign is a fantastic initiative which binds businesses, organisations, governance and individuals to a nation-wide voluntary commitment to do their best to reduce carbon emissions by 10% over the 2010 year.
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Helen Whately has been slammed for “jumping on the bandwagon” of a successful campaign led by local Liberal Democrats.
A Full Council question was asked about an article in a political newspaper article by Conservative Helen Whately. It suggested she was responsible for South West Trains changing their policy of permanently closing the South exit of New Malden train station.
It was revealed that Ms Whately did not attend the important negotiations which resulted in the exit being kept open at peak times to avoid increased congestion, and financial damage to local businesses which rely of commuter traffic.
It is clear that Ms Whately jumped on the bandwagon after local Liberal Democrat MPs and councillors supporting local residents and businesses, had been on the case for two months and a solution already potentially reached.”
Residents and local businesses who were involved in that campaign and those meetings with Liberal Democrat councillors and MPs will be surprised that Ms Whately is claiming credit. A photograph of Helen Whately with Conservative councillors and activists does not make a successful campaign.
That requires the hard work and pressure applied by Liberal Democrat councillors and MPs.
The opposition group on Kingston Council carried out another re-shuffle of its shadow portfolio holders this evening. They gave increased responsibility to the discredited Cllr Ian George, who was described as “often speak[ing] a lot of rubbish” by a Conservative colleague at the very same meeting.
The last time that the shadow Executive positions were re-arranged was only two months ago: on 17th September.