THE new leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council has pledged to engage with 'every corner of the borough' as he settles into his role.

Councillor Nick Paget-Brown, who took up the role from Sir Merrick Cockell in May, has spoken to the Chronicle about his hopes and plans for the borough.

He says he wants to start by improving communication, and cutting costs, starting with the spot lighting along the ceiling of the covered walkway at Kensington Town Hall, which he wants to start switching off.

He said: "I would very much like to see a resolution regarding the community use plan at Holland Park School, which stipulated that local residents could use the swimming pool and sporting facilities. This is being dealt with here at the council through many meetings and discussions between relevant parties, and we hope to reach an agreement by September."

However Mr Paget-Brown could not give any assurances that the pool would be open to the public before Holland Park becomes an academy next month, a change which would see it completely free from council control.

He continued: "Another recent issue is that of al fresco dining in the North Kensington area. I would like to set the record straight here on a number of issues.

"Firstly the cost of the licence to put chairs and tables on the street is not set by the council and is unfortunately the same rate for all. I would like to see this banded to allow for more or less street furniture depending on the size of the establishment."

Mr Paget-Brown reinforced his determination to improve communication between the council and the borough’s residents, saying: “Our challenge as a council and the particular challenge facing me and my colleagues is to listen to them, to understand their interests.

"This will require us to be out and about in the community - every community, whether it be the ward, a residents’ association, a church or mosque, a community group, a group of volunteers, an ethnic minority group, or partners with whom we work, such as the police or health service.

"In short there should be no corner of the borough and no group of residents with whom we are seen not to be engaging. I want us to be aware of the difficult financial challenges ahead. We need to remain a low tax borough. Residents are worried about revaluation and a possible mansion tax. We have already seen a large decline in residents active in east Chelsea.

"But we also need to reduce costs where they are too high. The cabinet will need to grapple with this and take tough decisions. Where we do decide to spend money, this should be for a clear purpose and on the basis that we have agreed that we may want to pay a premium for certain services that we all value."

Mr Paget-Brown is writing a blog, which you can see at .