As a seasoned politician I have a pretty thick skin and do not always feel moved to respond when people seek to criticise me or the council.
But sometimes inaccuracies and calculated misrepresentations have to be corrected (Letters, February 19).
Mr Downes believes the council provides me with a choice of cars and two drivers to choose from. He is completely wrong. These cars are for the use of the mayor and deputy mayor. I have no official car.About six times a year the mayor kindly gives me a lift but most of the time Mr Downes will find me waiting for the Circle Line.
He also questions whether I need office support. I am lucky to be leader of the Royal Borough and also to lead London local government.
I too come from a business background and know the importance of administrative back-up.
Without it I could not do the jobs I am elected to do and accountable for. Not only is this not a new post but we are cutting our management levels by 15 per cent.
The Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) calls it propaganda, but we call it communicating with residents. Our residents expect to be informed, involved and consulted on what is happening in the borough. They have a right and we have a duty to make sure that they are and we do this with one of the smallest in-house communications units in London. On occasion we bring in experts to help us with major projects because buying in extra capacity and skills only if needed is a good business sense.
The TPA has a role to play holding government, local and national, to account. Sadly their research often does not come up to scrutiny. They say we have increased staff earning over £50,000 from 28 in 1996/7 to 265 in 2007/8. Are the 70 teachers included "bureaucratic middle managers"? Most sensible people think good teachers deserve to be well paid.
The TPA also ignores inflation over 10 years. £50,000 in 1996/7 is worth £70,000 now. In 1996/7 we paid 28 people more than £50k, currently we pay 34 over £70k. Hardly the outrage they claim.
Clearly, Mr Cameron does not believe in the common courtesy of returning hospitality. We cannot change the fact that the borough is home to the second highest number of diplomats in the country. Our mayor accepts many invitations to represent the borough at events hosted by embassies in the Royal Borough and on one evening a year we extend an invitation to diplomats to a reception here at the Town Hall.
We are always open to fair criticism and to improve our services as a result. But for some, nothing is ever good enough. I believe that most of our residents will acknowledge that the £50 efficiency dividend we are paying to council taxpayers in April is the clearest evidence that we are seeking and finding savings whilst continuing to provide efficient, high-quality services at a time when more people will be calling on us for help.
Merrick Cockell Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea