London elections 2022: Spotlight on Kensington & Chelsea ahead of crunch poll

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n May 5, voters across the UK will head to the polls to decide who will run their local authority.

London’s most expensive borough, Kensington & Chelsea has perhaps unsurprisingly always remained under the control of the Conservatives.

A disappointing result for Labour last time round will have dampened any hopes of a shock win this time round, though the party will be hoping to increase its share of the vote in the borough when voters head to the polls on May 5.

Key Issues

The last time voters in Kensington and Chelsea headed to the polls to elect their council representatives was in 2018, less than one year after the Grenfell Tower fire claimed the lives of 72 borough residents.

Read more: Follow the Standard’s coverage of the 2022 local elections

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Labour had been hoping to capitalise on nationwide anger towards Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea Council, which was accused of prioritising profits over the safety of residents. But the Conservatives managed to retain control of the council with a strong majority.

The shadow of Grenfell still looms large over Kensington and Chelsea, though it is unlikely to have a significant impact on council elections come May 5.

One issue which may be a key factor, however, is the future of Notting Hill Police Station. The front counter of the police station closed in 2017, much to the anger of locals, while the building was still in temporary use by some officers.

But last summer, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) which is headed by Sadiq Khan announced a plan to sell the building to raise funds.

Locals have petitioned against the sale amid fears the police station will be turned into expensive flats, but the Tory-led council has proposed a plan to buy the building itself and use it as a community space.

The council’s bid includes a plan for a new GP surgery, a space for local police officers and affordable housing for key workers.

Details

Kensington and Chelsea is a true Conservative stronghold within London, with the Tories having won every single election since the borough’s first in 1964.

That said, both Labour and the Lib Dems currently hold seats on the council and increased their share of the popular vote last time round.

Nevertheless, the Tories still maintained a firm grip on Kensington and Chelsea Council in 2018, winning 36 of the 50 available seats with 51.4 per cent of the popular vote. Labour managed to claim one seat from the Conservatives to bring their total on the council to 13, while the Lib Dems held their only seat. Voter turnout in 2018 was 39.7 per cent.

While Labour did increase its share of the popular vote by 4.3 per cent in 2018, the party had been hopeful of doing better given the recency of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the subsequent anger towards Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Having been subject to a boundary review in 2014, Kensington and Chelsea is one of the few boroughs in London to not be holding elections under new boundaries this May.

Just one by-election has taken place in the borough since the last local elections in 2018, which saw Labour successfully defend a seat in the Dalgarno ward.

Demographics

Kensington and Chelsea is the smallest of London’s 32 boroughs in terms of both population and area.

According to 2018 estimates, the borough has a population of around 156,197 which is a decrease since the 2011 Census, when the population was recorded as 158,649.

The population of Kensington and Chelsea is older than London’s as a whole, with a median average age of 39 compared to the London average of 34. Half of the borough’s residents are over the age of 39.

Around 16.6 per cent of Kensington and Chelsea’s population is made up of people aged 65 or over, while that age bracket makes up an average of 12.2 per cent of the population of inner London boroughs.

During the 2011 Census, just over 70 per cent of the borough’s population was recorded as White, including 39.25 per cent from White British backgrounds and 28.94 per cent from other White backgrounds.

In 2011, the top three largest migrant populations in Kensington and Chelsea were from Italy, France and the USA.

People from Asian or Asian British backgrounds make up just 10 per cent of the population, while those from Black and Black British backgrounds make up 6.51 per cent.

Despite being one of the most affluent boroughs in London, 28 per cent of Kensington and Chelsea residents live in poverty. The child poverty rate is slightly lower at 24 per cent, while unemployment stands at 4.9 per cent.

Kensington and Chelsea is home to the highest average house prices in London, with the average property selling for more than £2 million according to estate agents Zoopla.

The borough has one of the highest rates of residents living in temporary accommodation, with 29.75 per 1,000 households in temporary accommodation.

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