Emma Dent Coad
Member of Parliament for Kensington
Before entering politics full time, I spent 30 years working as a journalist and researcher working in design, architecture and planning. In my 13 years as a Councillor for Golborne Ward in North Kensington, I have challenged the Conservative led Council’s spending priorities and their plans for handing over public assets to private companies, by sale or lease.
Four days after my election as MP, the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity devastated our communities with huge loss of life. I have spent much of the first two years in Westminster looking after Grenfell affected people struggling with housing and other issues, as well as learning how to be of service in the local and national context. Our communities must be empowered to take back control of their lives and to have access to their legal rights, their dignity and their freedom to thrive. This applies to all parts of the social and economic spectrum.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain. I have pledged to tackle the inequalities in life expectancy, income, physical and mental health, education and life chances which I find to be shameful in a first world country. My personal values as a socialist have developed in this context. It’s simple to me: people should pay the full amount of tax they owe in the country in which their income is earned, and ensure staff are paid a decent wage. In return they should expect to receive a level of pay they can live on, the services they’ve paid for, to be educated and to receive health and adult social care when needed.
My first ever vote in 1975 was to remain in the Common Market we had joined two years before. In 2016 I campaigned for and voted to Remain, along with nearly 70% of Kensington voters. I believe in our democratic system and respect the result of the Referendum. However the current position of economic no man’s land is devastating to many of us, and I now support a further Referendum. For my full position on Brexit, click here.
My teams in Kensington and in Westminster are working to consolidate, extend and improve the links and networks we have with individuals, voluntary organisations, residents’ associations, amenity groups, activists and campaigners across Kensington on their issues, cases and struggles.
I hope to send out a quarterly newsletter my newsletter, by email, through your letterbox, or by hand.
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Kensington is a beautiful and historic area, and very diverse, with over 50% of residents non-British born. Having been born in Chelsea and spent more than half my life in Kensington, the area is in my DNA. This is one of many reasons why I fight against unwelcome development alongside campaigners and residents’ groups – and take it personally. I will always stand with residents in the north, south, east and west of Kensington, against unwelcome developments which threaten to destroy our neighbourhoods and communities, and against the loss of local assets and services. I will also use all the influence I have to protect, maintain and improve our historic and listed buildings, conservation areas, parks and public realm, for the enjoyment of all residents and visitors.
Current issues on my radar:
- Residents in Knightsbridge have expressed their concerns about the proposed pavement widening in Sloane Street, an area already suffering from endless construction projects, over-development, and appalling levels of air pollution. Drivers of luxury cars racing around residential streets, increased street crime, prostitution and drug-dealing, and road safety on Brompton Road crossings are also of huge concern. Meanwhile, shops, cafes and restaurants are struggling, and there is a plan to create a Business Improvement District (BID) which I am happy to support.
- The demolition of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre and the now vacant site has had a devastating effect on local business. I fully support the Save Earl’s Court campaign to create a development comprising modern exhibition facilities along with housing for low income earners, in an environmentally friendly setting. I sponsored a meeting in parliament to support this campaign.
- I also hear reports of anti-social behaviour around the clubs and pubs of Earl’s Court Road, as well as the dangerous levels of air pollution. We shouldn’t have to fight to be safe on the streets and to sleep at night. AirBnB is a growing problem which can also create serious anti-social behaviour and unwelcome litter dumping in the streets, while the perpetrators seem unaccountable. I went out with police as an observer on a 999 night shift and have seen for myself the incredible work they do with limited resources.
- In South Kensington I have spoken to groups demanding sympathetic and careful restoration and improvements around the station and its arcade, and in support of step-free access to all platforms. Many are as concerned as me about improving pedestrian safety in Exhibition Road as our wonderful museums attract ever greater number of visitors. The Yalta Memorial Garden opposite the V&A is in desperate need of improvement – indeed, of basic maintenance. Residents around Gloucester Road are relieved that the Kensington Forum Hotel redevelopment was not agreed at Planning Committee, but the Mayor of London’s call-in overturned the decision of elected members; I spoke to the Mayor at the hearing at City Hall, in support of residents. There is an active group trying to save the Crown post office in South Ken from closure, and I have supported this actively, though sadly it seems to be lost.
- In Kensington High Street and in Notting Hill Gate shops, cafes and restaurants are struggling with rising rates and rents, and I am doing my best to support these businesses to prevail in a difficult local environment. Meanwhile, the unwelcome proposed development at Newcombe House is still in the balance as it goes to an Inquiry in November.
- In North Kensington I am working with local organisations, campaigners and volunteers in relation to the ongoing effects of the Grenfell Tower fire, demanding additional funding for mental health support, which is clearly inadequate, and a more sympathetic approach to rehousing for those affected.
- I have been attending Notting Hill Carnival since the early 80s. I fully support the event and its proud history and will continue to campaign for it to prevail. Issues around who Carnival benefits, and how it is funded and policed remain controversial. I support all the Carnival communities in their struggle to improve stewarding while they maintain the artistry and pageantry of our spectacular annual festival, which many judged to be ‘the best ever’ in 2019.
- I continue to support campaigns to Keep North Kensington Library for Public Use, Save Wornington College, Save Earl’s Court, numerous Grenfell related campaigns, and as Golborne Councillor will continue the fight to address the disgraceful maintenance of Council and housing association properties.
We can’t work miracles, but will always do our best to help.
I never forget – I work for you.