Wornington Green: Still green for now

This morning, Catalyst Housing were set to chop down 37 trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington.

Catalyst are not exactly the most considerate and thoughtful of housing associations, having completely ignored the calls from Wornington Green residents, other North Kensington locals and some of our local representatives to reconsider their plans and save the trees (most of which are mature pollution absorbing plane trees), and the housing association decided to turn up with their chainsaws this morning.

But Catalyst probably didn’t reckon on a big turnout of residents, locals and groups , including members of the Labour Party, local Golborne councillor and Leader of the RBKC Opposition, Pat Mason, members of the local Green Party and members of the Kensington branch of Extinction Rebellion, to all be taking their peaceful socially distanced morning exercise out there too.

After a stand off and the Police being called for no reason, “Catastrophic Housing” decided to clear off. The trees are still here.

We thank everyone who turned up this morning in support, and all who shared and posted on social media, including Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Judith Blakeman and Green Party PPC for Cities of London and Westminster and London Assembly candidate, Zack Polanski.

We especially thank the local residents and campaigners who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of this community and conserving our environment, both now and for generations to come.

But callous Catalyst say they will be back to chop down the trees next week.

So we have this to say to them:

” As long as you refuse to listen to and respect the needs and wishes of your residents and the North Kensington community and as long as you pose a threat to our environment, and as long as you refuse to change your plans, this community will stand together against you.

The fact that lots of people turned out early in the cold, the petition to save the trees gained over 1,000 supporters in such a short space of time, and even the present RBKC Leadership do not support your destructive plans, all ought to be strong indicators that you need to think again.

Members of this blog had planned to be there this morning too, but only due to personal circumstances, we unfortunately couldn’t make it, but THINKers will be out there taking our morning exercise next week, when you have said you will return to chop down the trees.

Do not underestimate the power of community and how we feel about our environment, our trees and our green spaces here – they are invaluable to us – and mean far, far, more to the locals of North Kensington than your luxury flats ever will”

This isn’t over……

Happy 7th Birthday to the Save Earl’s Court campaign and a call for action!

The Save Earl’s Court campaign are celebrating 7 years of campaigning today and to show our support. above, is our special birthday card for the campaigners. We thank them for their inspiration, their friendship both to us and to many and their dedicated and original work.

Dressed in Comic Con cosplay costumes – remembering some of the colourful character who used to visit Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre are : (left to right) RBKC Liberal Democrat councillor for Earl’s Court Linda Wade, Kensington Labour MP for Kensington and RBKC Councillor for Golborne Emma Dent Coad, Green Party London Assembly Member and Chair of the Environment Committee and Islington councillor Caroline Russell, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon and last – but by no means least – Co Leader of the Green Party their Mayoral Candidate in the 2020 elections and Camden councillor Sian Berry.

All have shown their support for the Save Earl’s Court campaign but Linda “Wonderwoman” Wade is the amazing founder of this campaign – her work for the Earl’s Court community is beyond outstanding – she is a real life “superhero”.

Earl’s Court is just two and a half miles from us and it is a place that is also close to THINKers’ hearts as we have many friends there and also have fond memories of times there.

22 acres of the site are in RBKC and currently lie as wasteland awaiting redevelopment into luxury flats – this is unacceptable. The Save Earl’s Court Campaign agree and we have written about their alternative plans for the world’s greenest venue there two years ago :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/

And followed their campaign with updates – here are a few:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/could-there-be-good-news-for-earls-court-at-last/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/earls-court-masterplan-debated-at-westminster-hall/

The Earl’s Court Masterplan is not just failing residents and businesses in the area; it is failing London as a whole This scheme, with no replacement for exhibition centre is in our view, unworkable, is out of place with the surrounding area and mostly consists of densely populated luxury flats with no homes for social rent at all.

What is more, something badly needs to be done to address the severe pollution issue there – which affects all of us. Earl’s Court has the highest pollution levels in the UK – with levels of NO2 over three times the World Health Organisation legal limit. See this Daily Express article from “the UK’s most polluted road”:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj7vreGueTkAhW-A2MBHYnIA_cQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.express.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk%2F1111938%2Fmost-polluted-road-uk-earls-court-road-west-london-ulez-sadiq-khan&psig=AOvVaw1Dq_F4775j3gRiQiZeFde6&ust=1569242246115432

In a week that saw climate action strikes across the world, it is time to take action here. It is time for not just a rethink but also action on regeneration sites and developments.

Filling an already severely polluted area with densely populated luxury flats will only make things worse. What is needed there is green space, a replacement for the Exhibition Centre and environmentally friendly housing for all.

Fortunately the Save Earl’s Court campaigners really have come up with some fresh thinking and are calling for action – we urge our readers to sign and share this petition from them to Sadiq Khan to intervene to build green housing and the world’s greenest venue on the site here:

https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-mayor-khan-intervene-to-build-green-housing-and-the-world-s-greenest-venue-in-earl-s-court

It is time for others responsible for these decisions to seriously consider regeneration sites and developments and how they affect not just housing and businesses but our health and the planet too. Many of these short sighted short term financial gain- led developments already ruin local communities they are beneficial and only usually finally beneficial – to the developers and to the people who can afford to purchase them as an “investment” Any new developments in our view, should be beneficial on every level – to EVERYONE.

We need to be thinking locally as well as globally and we urge RBKC, Sadiq Khan and the Government to take action now – and with their ingenuity and initiative , the Save Earl’s Court campaigners are showing a way forward. Developers need to take note and politicians need to take action.

Kensington Constituency sees red!

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THINKers were delighted to watch hustings at St John’s church, Notting Hill last Wednesday and watch our parliamentary candidates put their case. Of course, we at THINK back our Labour candidate, Emma Dent Coad (pictured above).

We expected a large turnout and also for Emma to speak well (as always). What we didn’t expect was such a strong backlash from the audience against the Tories! We on virtually all political points, disagree with Victoria Borwick, but also recognise her as a ¬†personable individual who could normally talk her way out of a paper bag. Imagine our surprise to find that she struggled to defend her position on many issues that matter to our community!

On the subject of air pollution, which is a very serious matter to us all, she tried to dodge the facts that she has voted against pollution control measures in the Commons and that her party, unlike Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens, will not commit to a new clean air act, by trying to say that her commitment to pollution control was that her husband (Lord Borwick) carries an air quality control monitor about his person all the time!!! And yes that was met by derisory laughter by the audience. Then there was the issue of social and affordable housing , that she completely dodged by saying “we need to get more people on to the property ladder”. Just how do you do that Lady Borwick, when you need to be earning approximately ¬£90,000 per year to afford so- called affordable housing in our area? ¬†Also, she completely (like our not-so beloved council) neglected the issue of social housing. We just want to point out that many low income and vulnerable and sick people will never be able to get on the “property ladder”! We know what that means; social cleansing – deportation to deprived areas far away for the poor and destruction of our community, that’s what. She rounded off by claiming to have a record of standing up for our community on the council – but as all RBKC residents know, they just asset strip everything away and sell for cut price to vested interests – cue lots of heckling and we did hear ¬†“no you don’t” , “Maxilla” and other things that as a family blog we will not repeat, being shouted out from the audience.

As for the other speakers, the Lib Dem Annabel Mullin the Green and the two independent candidates were all very impressive. But it was Emma Dent Coad, who spoke passionately about her record as a Labour councillor campaining against social cleansing, standing up for the most disadvantaged in our community and also attacked Lady Borwick over her role to do with the ban lifted on the ivory trade (see our “Because voters never forget” post) who really stood out. We will also point out that she is the only North Kensington local candidate and that as we have met her on several occasions, is the real definition of honest, genuine, ¬†non stage-managed politics!

Tonight there are further hustings at St Cuthbert’s church in Earls Court; THINK will be fastening our seatbelts, as no doubt will Victoria Borwick!!!

 

Let’s Clear Some Air – Rap 23 meeting (part 2)

imageNow back to Friday and the Rap 23 meeting. This is a very serious matter for all and THINK won’t let a few Tories distract us.

After Prof Maksmovic’s talk on the serious statistics & possible ways using infrastructure to help combat it, the next speaker was Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London. As well as pointing ¬†out that of course the problem is more serious than we realise. As well as the obvious greenhouse gases, there is local air pollution two main types of ¬†– split between particles and gases – Nitric Oxide is ¬† mainly formed when ¬†fuels are burned , mostly traffic fumes – diesel particularly which produces about 90% of harmful exhaust emissions, ¬†combines with Oxygen in our atmosphere to form Nitrogen Dioxide.

Both types of NO2 are a serious threat to our health and are regularly monitored by scientists. The World Health Organisation legal limit for NO2 levels were in place in 1999 and to be complied with by 2010. Many busy roads in London, including the Westway, are in continuous breach of this (the legal limit of NO2 gases is 18). Also the old road network in London and tall buildings help to trap these harmful gases.

Mr Birkett also pointed out that the existing clean air act is 60 years out of date. So far, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens have all committed to a new clean air act – but the Conservatives haven’t.

Seeing Victoria Borwick and Cllr Robert Freeman in the audience, THINK had hoped that the Conservatives would be making a positive announcement – alas not.

The final speaker was Leonie Cooper, London assembly member and chair of the cross-party environment committee, who pointed out that we have “asks” of our politicians – encourage better road safety for cyclists, higher charges for those from outside our area parking here ¬†and “no idling” zones.

Well, one of our THINKers has seen a few of these “no idling zones”¬†in RBKC and we will take the highly unusual step of thanking our council for this. Ms Cooper also said one “ask” was to ¬†our candidates to commit to a new clean air act.

Well Lady Borwick, THINK asks will you? We wouldn’t like to imagine that yourself and Cllr Freeman just turned up as a PR stunt. Plus many voters in Kensington Constituency are, ¬†thanks to Rap 23 and all the speakers at the meeting, now much more informed as to the severity of the issue – it might just count against you at the election if you don’t…….,