A petition calling for a Council Tax-subsidised collection service of green garden waste has been rejected by Kingston’s Liberal Democrat administration for being a costly and environmentally unfriendly alternative to home composting.
At present, households who wish for the Council to collect their biodegradable garden waste from the kerbside pay for the service – with disabled and elderly residents offered collections at a reduced charge. A petition presented at this week’s public meeting of the Council’s Executive requested for green collections to be provided for ‘free’.
Kingston’s Executive Member for Transport has assured local residents that the Council was well prepared for this week’s bout of extreme weather conditions – and it continues to have good reserves of salt for gritting the roads.
Cllr Bob Steed said: “The press have been covering stories on how during the current unprecedented weather conditions, some Councils’ low stocks of salt has meant travelling chaos across the UK.
“I am pleased to say that Kingston had an excellent contingency plan in place.
Kingston’s Executive Member for Housing has spoken out against the Government’s formula for setting local authority housing rents. Cllr Penny Shelton says that an inaccurate calculation of this year’s inflation rate will mean arbitrary hikes in the amount paid by council property tenants in the borough.
Cllr Shelton explained: “Because of the way that Government has calculated the rent formula for local authorities, the average council housing tenant in Kingston will be wrongly paying an additional £5 in rent a week for this forthcoming year.”
Transport for London have responded to pressure from Kingston’s Liberal Democrat Councillors and local campaigners to delay the cancellation of the Capital Call service in Kingston.
Capital Call is a complementary service to Taxicard which provides subsidised door-to-door transport for people with mobility issues living in London boroughs where there is a shortage of London taxis. On 28 January, it was announced that funding was being cut from the scheme in Kingston, and the service would cease in the borough with effect from 31 March 2009.
RBK’s Executive Member for Housing has praised the “fantastic” work of Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH), for setting up a month-long pilot project to provide night-shelter in the borough.
Cllr Penny Shelton said: “This has been an exceptionally cold winter with snowfall bringing delight to many Kingston residents -- but for those sleeping rough, the cold snap will be distressing and dangerous.
The Leadership of Kingston Council, have spoken out against media “scaremongering” about the state of British recycling markets.
Cllr Liz Green raised her concerns about the considerable negative press coverage regarding the current state of the market for recycled materials, as a Full Council question for the public meeting held on 27 January.
Kingston’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have welcomed a parliamentary bill aimed at protecting garden land from being bought up and built on for housing developments.
The Protection of Garden Land (development Control) Bill was presented and given its first reading in the Commons on Tuesday. It is designed to protect private gardens from development ‘which is out of character with the surrounding area’.
Kingston was the safest borough in London in 2008, according to new figures from the Metropolitan Police website.
In the year to November, Kingston suffered less than half the number of crimes as the average London borough. Among the key statistics, burglary fell 3%, criminal damage dropped 6% while theft and violence were both cut by a remarkable 10%.
And despite some people’s perceptions, crime in Kingston town centre fell by double digit amounts. Criminal damage in Grove ward was down 17%, violence against the person down 22% and town centre theft was slashed by 24%.
At Tuesday's public meeting of the Full Council, Executive member for Housing Cllr Penny Shelton spoke of Liberal Democrat plans for a 'progressive' strategy to tackle fuel poverty in Kingston, based on data expected from a borough-wide survey.
The Executive member was asked by Cllr Rolson Davies to clarify the efforts that Kingston Council is making to assess and meet the fuel poverty needs of elderly and vulnerable people in the borough.
Cllr Shelton explained that “the Council is already actively engaged in schemes designed to assist vulnerable households, including the elderly.”
She spoke of more than two million pounds spent in 2007/08 on the 'Coldbuster Scheme' and on energy efficiency measures for Kingston's own housing stock.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Bob Steed has spoken of his “outrage” at Transport for London’s decision to withdraw funding from Kingston’s Capital Call scheme.
Capital Call was a complementary service to Taxicard introduced in 2004 by TfL which provided subsidised door-to-door transport for people with mobility issues living in London boroughs where there is a shortage of London taxis. Today it was announced that Kingston’s Capital Call scheme will cease, with effect from 31 March 2009.
At the Executive meeting last night Cllr Rolson Davies, Executive member for Health and Adult Community Services presented the Commission of Social Care Service’s performance assessment for Kingston’s adult social services.
The inspection showed continuing improvement in adult social services and rated the Council “two star with promising prospects”. This was an improvement on last year and demonstrated the significant work undertaken by adults social care services.
The report highlighted “the Council and health partners’ history of good co-operation in promoting the health of the population”, together with its “improved level of reviews of care packages” which was stated as being “better than the London average”.
It went on to emphasise the good contribution that the Council has made to “improved quality of life” and the increasing role of people with learning disabilities “making decisions and representing people with active support of the Council”.
Kingston’s Liberal Democrat administration is considering signing up to the Sustainable Communities Act.
The Executive body of Kingston Councillors will be considering an invitation from Hazel Blears, Secretary for State for Communities and Local Government’s, to “empower citizens and communities”.
If the Council decides to sign up to the Act, a legislative channel will be set up to enable local people to propose ideas to central government on how to improve their local neighbourhood.
It will provide a route for local people, via their local authority, to raise proposals around sustainability direct with the Government.
Kingston’s Liberal Democrat administration has condemned the Government's decision to remove protection measures for back gardens from the Planning Act.
Following a discussion of Lord’s amendments to the Planning Bill in Parliament on 25 November - Local Government Minister John Healey MP claimed that Councils had the statutory powers to intervene in housing developments. He urged MPs to vote against measures which would have given local authorities greater power to protect back gardens.
Cllr Simon James, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration: “I am outraged by Mr Healey’s decision.”
Kingston’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have been campaigning for over a year about bizarre government rules which designate back gardens as brown field sites, making it easy for property developers to purchase properties, demolish the houses and then use the gardens to build high density properties.