Amir Akhrif's Campaign Diary

The antiques arcade at 100 Portobello Road – known since the 1960’s as ‘The Good Fairy’ – closed recently  for development, and Portobello residents are worried that the site will be used for something other than antique trading when it re-opens…

As your local Labour candidates, we are taking decisive action to protect The Good Fairy.

We are urging the Council to negotiate so that the ground floor will be used exclusively for antiques trading, even if the new development goes ahead.

We hope that the Council will use a legal device called a ‘section 106 agreement’, which is in its existing portfolio of powers, to protect the antiques stalls.

Section 106 (S106) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows a local planning authority (LPA) to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation with a landowner in association with the granting of planning permission. The obligation is termed a Section 106 Agreement.

The Council has existing powers in its portfolio to help protect Portobello Road Market, we want them to make use of them!

New Colville team - Beinazir Lasharie, Cllr Dez O'Neill and Amir Akhrif

While the Liberal Democrats are running around collecting signatures (and your private details) in the form of a petition to save Portobello, your local Labour team is actually doing some concrete policy work to secure the antiques market once and for all…

That’s why both myself, Portobello councillor Dez O’Neill and Beinazir Lasharie have asked the Council to include a pioneering ‘Antiques Arcades Policy’ in its planning guidelines. This will help to protect Portobello’s antiques arcades.

The leadership of the Council would like to see Portobello become a seven day shopping destination. However, many local residents realise this would destroy Portobello’s unique market character. We want to protect the Market’s mix.

Your local Labour team will continue to press the Council for real policy change, not just talk. We’re on your side!

This bijou no bedroom pad, yours for £300,000

Do you live in a household that earns an average of £150,000 a year? Do you want to buy an average house in Kensington? Sorry mate, you’re too poor…

The wonderful, hardworking people at Shelter have released their latest Housing League Table, and yup, you’ve guessed it, Kensington has ranked as one of the worst for affordable housing in London. No surprise there, but some of the figures are eye watering!

You would have to earn £158,400 per year in order to afford to buy an average-priced house in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea area.

There are 6,687 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in Kensington – at current letting rates this will take 11.20 years to clear.

Independent experts say your area needs to build 3,663 homes per year. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea planned for 85 new affordable homes to be provided in your area last year.

Thank you Shelter for exposing the Council’s complete and utter failure in providing affordable housing.

Are the Tories still intolerant of homosexuality?

Out of touch Tory Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, was embroiled in a row over lesbian and gay rights on Saturday. He was secretly taped speaking to the Centre for Policy Studies, suggesting that bed and breakfast owners, many of whom live on site, should “have the right” to ban gay couples from staying the night under their roof…

This is yet another example of just how out of touch the Tories are with modern-day Britain, and reflects the evidence that potential front-benchers in a David Cameron-led government remain the same old Tories of yesterday.

The statement was made to the Centre for Policy Studies, ring a bell? Yes, this is the very same organisation that has provided financial support to Shaun Bailey, one of the Tory’s very few black candidates, in Hammersmith & Fulham. What then, I ask, if we were to replace the word ‘gay’ with ‘black’. Does that make a difference to the Tories?

And does one see why Labour is outraged by Chris Grayling’s remarks! Minority rights are there to protect a population’s ability to lead life without fear of prejudice, whatever the minority in question: sexual preference or race, in the above example. The route from accepting intolerance of one minority group to another, is a very short one.

At this point, it is also worth noting that every piece of equalities legislation that has been passed: race, gender, sexual preference, age and religion, has been passed under a Labour government. Only ours is the party of equality.

Labour has said that Grayling’s comments run contrary to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, which state that no one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality.

Someone's not happy with KHT

I thought I would go into the Kensington Labour office at 328 Portobello Road a little earlier today, via the Lisboa cafe for a morning latte. Only to find that a disgruntled resident had taped the entire length of Kensington Housing Trust’s offices with fake hazard tape, and posted signs saying “crime scene – do not enter” on the doors…

They taped up the WHOLE building!

Local residents, particularly from Wornington Green, have been upset by Kensington Housing Trust’s plans to redevelop the site, temporarily displacing some 1,700 residents over the next decade.

You can read the background on the Wornington Green development on a previous post I have written.

To whomever taped up the KHT offices… I wish you a happy April Fool’s day! Please email me and let me know who you are (strictly confidentially)?

At long last, young people in North Kensington are to get a new Secondary School. The site earmarked for the non-denominational Academy with its own sports facilities is by Kensington Leisure Centre sports pitches. The Labour government’s Building School’s for the Future programme has guaranteed funding of £30 million…

Local resident and local Labour candidate Beinazir Lasharie says “for years many of our local young people have had to go to schools outside the Borough. They will go to school in North Kensington thanks to many years of lobbying by Labour Councillors and local parents”.

Yet our Liberal Democrat opponents try to claim responsibility for the new school in their newsletters. We have a track record of achievement and don’t need to take credit for others hard work. We would like to ask for them to exactly just ‘how’ they achieved what they have claimed?

When the hoardings came down over what used to be Lipka’s antiques arcade on Portobello recently (corner of Westbourne Grove/Portobello Road), and high street fashion chain All Saints appeared in its place, what was the Conservative-run Council’s response?

“A total collapse of political leadership” says local resident and Portobello Councillor Dez O’Neill who has championed the Market throughout his 8 years in office. Your Labour team in Portobello – Cllr Dez O’Neill, Beinazir Lasharie and Amir Akhrif – have a track record of protecting Portobello Market, and that’s something we are all 100% committed to continue.

Councillor Dez O’Neill can report that the current All Saints shop-front violates their planning permission. The company has therefore put in for a ‘retrospective’ planning application to get around this. Your local Labour team opposes the move and are campaigning hammer and nails to get it turned down, and we’re likely to win. If we do, All Saints will have 6 months to comply with the Council’s recommendations or face enforcement action!

Amir Akhrif said: “the Council’s plan to turn Portobello into a 7-day-a-week shopping destination is at the heart of the homogenisation that we are witnessing on Portobello”. The Council’s own ‘Report on Retail Conservation 2007’, set up to combat the threat to small shops from chain stores, recommended the Council confirm its commitment to the future of Portobello Market. This isn’t happening.

OUR PLEDGE: We will do everything in our power to protect the unique mix of independent traders and shops in our area, using grassroots action not just words.

Who I’m standing for:

Labour, fighting hard in Colville Ward

Amir Akhrif – On your side

Follow Amir Akhrif's political campaign diary, as he stands to be the Labour Party's next Councillor for Colville Ward in North Kensington - covering the internationally famous Portobello Road Market and Notting Hill areas... Find out more about me on my About page...

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The electioral law flimflam

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