Kingston Council’s Executive Member for Children and Young People’s Services has welcomed a report acknowledging the exceptional and unanticipated rise in demand for primary school places across London.
London Councils’ ‘Understanding Primary School Capacity Issues’ contributed the unprecedented rise in applications for schools in London boroughs such as Kingston to the booming birth rate in the capital, increased numbers of parents choosing state education, and London’s sluggish housing market.
At this month’s meeting of Executive, Conservative councillor Nick Kilby suggested that the Council should pursue a property developer’s bid to buy Raven’s Ait, which would have seen the small Thames island transformed with a new-build for 20 luxury apartments and a large restaurant.
In the context of considerable security costs to safeguard the Council-owned asset from damage from squatters and thieves, Executive Members were considering proposed bids for sale or lease of the Council-owned land.
Kingston’s Executive Member for Transport Cllr Bob Steed, has reacted angrily to the Department of Transport’s proposal for a £29million “redistribution” of funds out of London’s Freedom Pass budget.
Commenting on the Department for Transport’s consultation on concessionary fares, Liberal Democrat Cllr Steed said: “The long-term funding arrangements suggested by the Minister for Transport could drain millions of pounds out of the already over-stretched transport budgets of London local authorities, such as Kingston.
At last night’s meeting of the Executive, Cllr Penny Shelton announced the Administration has put in a bid for new build affordable housing in the Borough.
The Executive Member for Housing said: “I am delighted to say that the Council has submitted a bid to the Homes and Communities Agency to build 8 new, affordable houses on the site of Yew Tree House in Old Malden.
“This funding involved is part of the Housing Stimulus package announced by the Chancellor in the 2009 Budget and follows a recognition by the Government that local authorities should become more directly involved again in providing new affordable homes.”
She added: “We will hear early in the new year if the bid has been successful. If it is, these will be the first new homes built by the Council since 1993.”
At last night’s meeting of the Executive, Lead Member for Housing Cllr Penny Shelton announced the completion of 26 new affordable homes in the Borough.
As an Executive Member’s information item, she said: “You will recall our decision to build 26 new affordable homes on the site of the former Ely Court on the Cambridge Road Estate.
“These homes are nearing completion and will be available for occupation early in the new year.
“The intention is to provide opportunities for Members and residents to look around the scheme before it is occupied and we will circulate details of this as soon as they are available.”
The Government’s consultation on the reform of council housing finance closed last week. Commenting on the document, Kingston's Executive Member for Housing spoke out about her disappointment with the likely "successor" to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
Liberal Democrat Cllr Penny Shelton, said: “Frankly the consultation document lacked crucial detail and left vital questions unanswered. It was a vacuous consultation.”
Cllr Shelton, whose Norbiton ward includes the Cambridge Road Estates explained:
“Every year, £7million worth of rent paid by the lowest-income members of our community is taken out of the borough to subsidise the housing budgets of other local authorities - and is even used to plug the accounts of the Treasury Department.
Kingston Council has responded to the Government’s official consultation on the controversial Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The Liberal Democrat administration raised its concerns about this new system of funding for sub-regional infrastructure, which will substantially replace Section 106 agreements.
Kingston’s Executive Member for Health and Adult Community Services has condemned the announcement that the Mayor of London will break his election manifesto promise to spend £744,000 on new ‘Rape Crisis’ centres across the capital.
The Leader of Kingston Council has met with the Mayor of London to discuss various issues affecting the borough – including his concerns about the Conservative’s tax schemes which will drain cash from local businesses and schools to pay for a central-London rail service.
Kingston Council are continuing to run a number of local schemes which will help protect vulnerable residents from fuel poverty this winter. However, the Liberal Democrat administration have raised concerns that central Government is endangering local people by failing to properly address the wider causes of rocketing fuel bills, pensioner poverty, and energy inefficiency in homes.
Penny Shelton, Kingston’s Executive Member for Housing said: “We are doing all we can at a local level to provide financial assistance and practical help to keep local homes warm. But I fear our efforts are being stifled by Government’s threat of a 47% cut to its Warm Front energy efficiency programme and its deafening silence over rocketing fuel prices.
In the week that a raft of unpopular transport decisions have been announced by the Conservative Mayor of London, Kingston’s Executive Member for Transport has welcomed the news that a Liberal Democrat motion for ‘one hour bus ticket’ scheme in the capital has been overwhelmingly supported by the London Assembly.
On Wednesday, the Chair of the London Assembly’s Transport Committee presented a petition of over 2000 signatures to the London Mayor, which included the Liberal Democrat members of Kingston Council. It called for passengers who use more than one bus during a 60-minute period should not to be charged more than a single fare on their Oyster Card.
The Mayor of London this week admitted that from January 2010, there will above-inflation rises in the cost of bus and Tube fares, along with a 25% increase in the congestion charge.
Commenting on the announcement, Kingston’s Executive Member for Transport, Cllr Bob Steed said: “I find it disgraceful that in a recession the London Mayor would impose an inflation-busting hike on the cost of taking public transport in the capital.
“Boris is showing his true Tory colours in this decision. To pay for the scrapping the Western extension of the congestion charge and Boris’ vanity project on the new route master line of buses, the Mayor is increasing single bus fares on Oyster cards by a staggering 20% - whilst freezing most weekly, monthly and annual Travelcards.
“The new fare scheme will punish regular low-income bus users, adding hundreds of pounds to the annual commuting costs for many Kingston residents, whilst keeping travel costs low for those who can afford to fork out for an annual pass.”
Surbiton Sea Scout Group have enjoyed the use of Raven’s Ait for 25 over years. Conditions have been attached to the island’s sale or lease; future occupiers should accommodate the Sea Scouts on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
Liberal Democrat councillor Barry O’Mahony has welcomed support for Surbiton Sea Scouts staying on Ravens Ait:
“Raven’s Ait is clearly a fantastic asset for this borough. The Council wants to support its continued use by community groups, and I am delighted that the Sea Scouts, who help young people training to sail and canoe, should be accommodated by whoever next takes over the island.”
Kingston’s Liberal Democrat councillors are leading a local campaign against a proposed cut in the Government grant which helps pay for pensioner and disabled bus journeys.
The administration’s Executive member for Transport, Cllr Bob Steed explained: “Just last year, the Department of Transport promised a £55million grant to London local authorities to help us pay for the Freedom Pass journeys of our elderly and disabled residents.