Kensington and Chelsea is an amazing place. People live, work and visit here because this borough is one of the most attractive and diverse in central London. With a population of almost 144,000, our residents include 50 different nationalities and speak over 80 languages. It is known for its welcoming spaces, iconic markets, high-quality education and thriving cultural scene. This is down to many decades of hard work from proud residents, successful businesses and dedicated council staff.
For the past five years, the council has put residents at the heart of what we do and worked closely with communities to support a borough full of opportunity, with clean streets and low taxes. We have established three business improvement districts, encouraged al fresco dining across the borough and enhanced our outdoor spaces.
Despite the challenges we face, the council has delivered £38 million of savings over the past four years, while keeping council tax low. We are also providing a 100 per cent council tax rebate for the most vulnerable, and investing £8 million in support, including funding to primary schools to help families with the rising cost of living. Increasing housing supply is a priority for residents, and while the council cannot tackle this challenge alone, we remain committed to increasing local provision. We have started construction of 600 new homes, of which at least 300 will be for social rent, and committed over £400 million to make our housing modern, safe and warm. We will also invest in our parks (while creating new ones) and keep our streets exceptionally clean.
Air pollution in Kensington and Chelsea has been reduced by half over the past 15 years, and we are making our community even more sustainable by investing £8 million in retrofitting our schools and £4 million in our council buildings. The borough now boasts 782 electric vehicle charging points, and we are working to make our council fleet as green as possible. The council was even the first in the country to give consent for solar panels on most grade II and grade II* listed buildings without the need for individual permission.
At the heart of our vision is the commitment to ensure a meaningful legacy from the Grenfell tragedy, in which 72 of our residents lost their lives. With incredible strength, people who lost everything in the fire challenged this organisation to be better than before. Our commitment now is to ensure it is never forgotten and to play our part in ensuring nothing like it happens again. Since then, the council has changed its policies, practices and approach.
That means not just listening to our residents and communities but actually taking action. There is a wide range of income, employment and skill levels in our community, so we will help people into education, jobs, and entrepreneurship. We will create the conditions for the borough to be a thriving place that attracts visitors and investment, which in turn creates job opportunities. People must feel safe in their neighbourhoods, and we will continue to work closely with the police to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.
We will do all of this with care and competence, making sure we take pride in our work every day, driven by a single mission — to become the best council for a borough that is greener, safer and fairer.