2B or not 2B at Wornington (no longer) Green: These are our objections

Pictured above on the left is a ridiculous advertising hoarding  for Portobello Square  hoarding from Catalyst Housing that looks completely  different to how the development does in its grey barren reality- no wonder the “Wornington Green” name has gone.

   And it’s there  our blog goes today, because  first of all, it is the LAST DAY for residents  to respond to this Planning Application for Phase 2B of  the scheme:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?address=&streetname=&postcode=&ward=&consarea=&caseyear=&casenumber=&proposal=&decisionyear=&decisionmonth=&appealref=&batch=20&id=CON/22/07715&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1

We urge all concerned  residemts to read  please get their comments and objections in by 11:59pm tonight.

There is also this one for which residents have until next Friday the 10th of February to send in comments and objections to:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?address=&streetname=&postcode=&ward=&consarea=&caseyear=&casenumber=&proposal=&decisionyear=&decisionmonth=&appealref=&batch=20&id=PP/22/07718&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1

The “Portobello Square”  Scheme has been so vast, hard hitting  and environmentally destructive  to the North Kensington community it is hard to know where to begin (and THINKers are not Planning experts), so with a little help from our friends at Wornington Trees and some information from others, here are the main points of our objection…..

Publicly accessible adequate green space

We are joining the Wornington Trees campaigners and several other local residents by calling for sufficient park space to be provided as the promises for a sufficient green space half the size of the park have been broken . Residents were promised a completed park  over 4 years ago. Another broken promise.

We say that the developers must now prioritise providing a park of equal size to Athlone Gardens, otherwise they are depriving residents in  Golborne- RBKC’s most socially deprived wards,  where there is a scarcity of  green space and where most residents do not have access to a garden, basic and fundamental use of a green local amenity. 

After two decades of living with noise, dirt, dust and chaos; that’s the least the residents deserve .

We also note that there is no publicly accessible green space provided in Phase 2B, so the deprivation of decent green space to residents by Catalyst affects many other residents in the area outside (what was) the Wornington Green Estate. The basic needs of residents living in the south of Golborne Ward are not being met. This is completely unacceptable for children growing up as well as the elderly, disabled and vulnerable residemts in the locality who cannot always easily travel to another part of North Kensington to access a park . We have yet to see Catalyst address this. Telling people to wait ages for a park (when they have already failed to complete phases on time and stick to what they initially promised) isn’t good enough. Why is RBKC not holding Catalyst to account over this? Where is the Planning enforcement?

Traffic and roads

Residents by the Wornington Green Estate and surrounding neighbourhood have strongly objected to the opening of the quiet end of Portobello Road to through traffic from Wornington Road and Ladbroke Grove on several grounds, noise, pollution, road safety – the plans would dramatically alter the character of the neighbourhood for the worse turning what was once a fairly quiet neighbourhood into a highly busy and hectic location full of passing traffic, as well as likely parking issues and significant increase in traffic incidents so what for the quality of life of the residents?

The plans do not seem to show much in the way of street imporvent and if the traffic opening is to go through Catalyst and Bouygues have not considered traffic calming measures in the plans .

Campaigners tell is that there is scope to widen the pavements around the scheme, leaving space for trees, greening and creating very small but usable public amenity spaces. None of this is included in the plans. The lack of imagination and consideration as to livability and quality of the outdoor streetscape from the developers is truly appalling. The vast majority of residents, not just those who once in or close to the development are wholeheartedly opposed to the new road scheme. It is as if Catalyst and developers have thought of nothing at all except money.

Trees

Then we come to trees. The scheme as a whole has already seen the felling of over 250 mature trees. in the public realm (including 61 platanus acerifolia – London Plane trees, numerous other types of tree including 8 tilia platyphyllos rubra ‘ Large-leafed Linden or Lime, 5 robinia pseudoacacia – Black Locust , 4 prunus avium – Wild Cherry, and 1 acer platanoides – Norway Maple, as well as numerous medium trees including several sorbus aucuparia – Rowan, Betula pendula – Silver Birch, and crataegus prunifolia – Common Hawthorn). This doesn’t include trees in gardens lost. In Phase 2 alone, 97 mature have been cut down .

  Yes – provision of extra homes is important but  so is the consideration of the residents who are going to be living in these homes and their quality of life, and that goes for long-term residents of the area as well.

There could have in these plans as mentioned above, been an oppotunity to widen the aforementioned pavements and plant some more trees. Because here is what has been lost :

Wornington Trees have told us that for this phase, the CAVAT (Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees) for the loss of trees on the land for Phase 2B is estimated at £9,107,844.00 and this does not include the trees lost in private spaces.

Only 22 new trees are included in the developers plans for Phase 2B, only 2 of which will be Hybrid Plane Trees. (The other 20 are small to medium trees.)

Wornington Trees campaigners tell us that the CAVAT value of these proposed 22 trees is £37,674.00 and that represents a net CAVAT loss to the community of £9,070,170.00.

There are hardly any street trees on the plans – so much for canopy cover, in fact the plans will fail to meet the requirements of the London Environment Strategy and the scheme as a whole is on its way to failing to meet the environmental requirements of the London Plan.

Then we will remind both Catalyst and Bouygues of this:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/10/03/wornington-trees-golborne-ward-the-new-local-plan-and-the-council-that-says-one-thing-but-does-another/

The urban forest pilot scheme for Golborne was indeed approved at that meeting, but the developers have not considered this and the scope for planting these and improving the area and local environment in their scheme, otherwise why so few trees and why no wider pavements?

Health, trees and “the science bit”

Then we consider the impact on health of reaidents caused by pollution and also the vital role in absorbing pollution that trees play. We have to keep stating the obvious sometimes, because most of the time it feels like the developers have not given the health and wellbeing of local residents a second thought

This picture showing childhood asthma prevalence in RBKC Wards, sent to us from  a rrsident recently is rather shocking; just look where Golborne is there.

And then for  further background we briefly go across the Atlantic  for this: https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/links-between-air-pollution-and-childhood-asthma#:~:text=Researchers%20found%20that%20short%2Dterm,were%20significantly%20associated%20with%20asthma.

So,¬† for the developers (who clearly haven’t thought any of this through properly)¬† and for¬† anyone else (who doesn’t¬† fully consider the important role that trees provide in our local environment) this is from CO¬≤ Living:

How Trees Reduce Air Pollution

Flooding and prevention measures

Some parts of Notth Kensington have greatly been affected by flooding on several occasions  and we are highly concerned as to a lack of flood prevention measures in the scheme. We note that most of the front gardens are paved over, greatly increasing the risk of flooding.

We agree with the Wornington Trees  campaigners who have called for curb extensions to accommodate SuDS  (Sustainable Drainage Systems) designed to manage storm water locally. See this from the Local Government Association. https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/severe-weather/flooding/sustainable-drainage-systems

Consultation with residents, community groups and businesses

Last but by no means least, is consultation with residents and businesses – or the absence of – from Catalyst. Yet again they have failed to sit down at the table and consult with people properly.

Otherwise they could certainly have come up with something better than this. The fact that the scheme has hardly any local support at all speaks volumes about the absence of resident engagement and consultation in its actual form- ie. Listening to and working with residents, taking their views, concerns and input on board, exercising care and consideration and trying to find solutions to problems rather than imposing them on the community.

There is a very  real  question of trust here. The lack of engagement, the broken promises and how Catalyst are misrepresenting the scheme.

As for the homes already built, perhaps we should also contact ASA (the Advertising Standard Authority)?

https://www.asa.org.uk/advice-online/misleading-advertising.html

Because Catalyst (once a housing association now a property developer) have the affront to  try to (mis) sell their (un)affordable homes like this: 

This is how the development actually looks:

And even when the scheme¬† gets completed, under the not at all green proposals,¬† it couldn’t¬† ever look like that “nature” picture in¬† our lifetime!

We ask the RBKC Planning Committee to fully reconsider the scheme and its phasing, its impact in residents, the  locality  and the Environment Рand then to consider what little effort towards including positives to balance out the  negatives  in  the scheme that Catalyst have actually gone about including (other than 2 of the trees  that were only retained after outcry from  the community we cannot think of any) .

Yes provision of homes is important but so is the quality of life of the residents who are going to be living in them, as well as the residents who already live on the Estate/Scheme and those nearby.

But also considering provision of homes, and the impact on use of the park, providing a park of similar small size is inadequate considering that there will be over 500 homes (and residents living in them) Therefore, a bigger park and clever use of street spaces for green amenity purposes is badly and urgently needed. No sign of that in the scheme.

If something is questionable then answers and solutions¬† through consultation and further Scrutiny are required – rather than just going “oh the homes”¬†¬† and blindly¬† agreeing to it, keeping fingers crossed that Catalyst and¬† developers will amend their scheme and honour their promises, when so far they haven’t and the community is suffering and will only suffer further.

(Our thanks to Wornington Trees for their outstanding campaigning on this matter.)

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Caretakers, the Council and the sorry figure

Please forgive our cartoon picture of “Colin the Caretaker” above, but most RBKC Housing residents in council homes hardly ever see their caretakers, or have never seen them at all .

But poor “Colin” can be forgiven for only showing up once in a blue moon and looking absolutely shattered, once we share this fact…..

Our FOI requests usually end up being ignored by RBKC but not this time. Today we got the answer for how many caretakers are employed by the Council – and the answer is 18. Yes you read that right – just 18 for the whole borough.

That means, considering there are around 9,400 RBKC Council Homes – roughly just ONE CARETAKER PER 522 HOMES.

We don’t think the Council’s Comms PR ūüí© show will be bigging up this one. Have a look here:

Obviously there have been some changes regarding contracting to OCS and this does require further questions, as do the number of cleaners- so we will get back onto this later on this week.

As for the maintenance of homes – and Repairs Direct – we will also pursue this through further questions.

At present many residents are still stuck calling 0800 137 111 with their fingers crossed, just hoping someone will answer or show up – just like they did over 20 years ago .

Put it this way, none of this gives any residents any encouragement that RBKC is fully committed to regularly maintaining its Council homes properly for the long term future.

Our kind thoughts go out to the overworked caretakers, cleaners and other maintenance staff trying to get things done and the exasperated residents waiting forever to get things done.

Especially when we have a Council that is more committed to putting in more effort into waffling and spewing out needless PR rubbish than actually properly employing enough of the right people to properly get the job done.

As said before, instead of preposterously aiming to be the “best Council”. Perhaps making sure RBKC provides a decent level of basic services might be the right thing to do instead? After all providing just 18 Caretakers for housing in the whole borough is hardly adequate.

Over to you, Kim Taylor-Smith….

Portobello and Golborne Market under threat: CONsultation meetings on Tuesday

Pictured above is a scene from the “Portobello Road’ song as seen in¬† 1971 Disney classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks. (Which as locals know,¬† wasn’t actually filmed here, but in Burbank, California).

Out version of the scene¬† stars (l to r) RBKC Lead Member for Local Economy and Employment Josh Rendall, Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment Cem Kemahli and formerly Lead Member for Economy, Employment and Innovation until last May (she is Lead Member for Family and Children’s Services now) Catherine Faulks – ¬† three of the Council¬† figures behind not listening to traders and residents and putting our beloved market under threat -so they are not getting any “star rating” from us….

This is what was posted on  From The Hornets Nest last month:

Welcome to streamlined RKBC 2023. Without public consultation, RBKC intends to condemn Portobello and Golbourne Markets to oblivion. Think the once thriving Covent Garden Market; now culturally dead; fit only for Dior and Jo Malone stores.

Before Covid, RBKC‚Äôs heroic Cllr Cem Kemahli tried in vain to ‚Äúsell‚ÄĚ his brilliant market modernisation plans to stupid, local communities. He was naturally irritated by peasants’ awkward questions and stubbornness. Poor Cem withdrew. The fragrant Cllr Catherine Faulks took on his burden. She too was foiled. The Dame‚Äôs loyal readers may remember that her plans to replace licensed market traders with restaurant tables and chairs, fell at the first – legal – hurdle. 

No matter. RBKC now has a new plan. Portobello and Golbourne will be ‚Äúmodernised‚ÄĚ without the distraction of public engagement! In six weeks time, by late January with Christmas intervening, RBKC will have formally adopted an unpublished, market development policy! A group of designers will compete for a ¬£3 million preliminary contract to repair and renew basic market infrastructure; neglected by RBKC for the last 50 years! What genius?

There‚Äôs a parallel plan to ‚Äúconsult‚ÄĚ local businesses to vote for a BIDS development; as has been adopted to upgrade Kings Road and Knightsbridge. RBKC has yet to explain whether 250 licensed market businesses will have 250 votes; or just one!  


Yesterday, a handful of locals were invited to a meeting. No RBKC Councillors attended; just 4 officers. They confirmed that once the unpublished policy is agreed by RBKC and designers selected, consultations will follow and work will start within a year! Job done. Brilliant!

So who will benefit? Answer: Cllrs Kemahli and Fragrant plus a handful of large, commercial property owners. Rents will immediately quadruple and the untidy street markets will disappear. Portobello will become another Westbourne ‚ÄúGrave” – a place of eye watering rents; where retailers go to die. Cllr Kemahli will be widely praised and no doubt ultimately become Leader of the Council. More of the poor will disappear. A win/win.

Residents foolish enough not to appreciate RBKC’s plan, please immediately write to their Councillors and neighbours Рparticularly journalists. Please copy in <governance@rbkc.gov.uk>.

If we are to save the Markets, there’s no time to lose!

Here is the copy of the not very Merry Christmas greetings  letter  sent  to some traders and residents by Cem Kemahli and Josh Rendall:

We are writing to provide an update on the Portobello Design Competition that the Council is planning to launch in 2023.

Portobello Road is one of the Borough’s most iconic locations and a unique and treasured part of our local and national identity. This would not be the case were it not for the market traders, who are intrinsic to the vibrancy and success of the area. We want to be clear that the Council are committed to maintaining the market and any plans for the improvement of Portobello Road will be progressed with full involvement of market traders, retailers and residents.

Given the impact of recent floods, new evidence from an assessment of retail and leisure in the borough, as well as recommendations in the new Markets Plan, which was shaped in partnership with traders to improve the trading environment in Portobello, the Council is progressing with a Design Competition that will look at these issues holistically to ensure that Portobello and the market continues to thrive into the future.

The competition will be based on a brief that will be shared with PGMC and MSAG members, so that they are given the opportunity to feed into the specifications for the brief before it goes out to tender. It is not a policy document, but rather sets out core issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure the street‚Äôs longevity and legacy, based on what we have heard from traders, retailers and residents in market meetings.

The Competition will be run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), who will ensure that high quality design responses are attracted and demonstrates that we have a commitment to design excellence, fairness and impartiality. The Place Shaping team will support the process, working alongside officers, community members and Councillors.

A draft brief will be shared with you over the coming days, prior to engagement meetings in January and February. The evaluation panel will include representatives from the traders, residents and retailers.

Delivery of the winning scheme will be achieved in phases, in order to minimise disruption to the market functionality and the local community, as well as visitors.  The brief is expected to be published alongside a call for expressions of interest by RIBA in March 2023.

We hope that this provides some reassurance about our plans for the market, and as always we are happy to speak with anyone who has concerns.

In the meantime, we hope that you have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

Best wishes. Cem and Josh

“Best wishes”? Our blog doubts any of those responsible for this Council decision truly have any best wishes for our community…..

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Our Editor lives over the road from Portobello Road and regularly shops at Portobello and Golborne Market so THINKers will definitely be the meetings on Tuesday below, and we hope others concerned can make it too:

RBKC yet again lives down to its reputation. 

So far secret plans exist to ‚Äúredesign‚ÄĚ Portobello Market; possibly into oblivion. These are the options:

a) RESIDENTS CONSULTATION On 31st January only, RBKC intends to consult its 150,000 residents in two sessions totalling about 200 minutes: 11.00am Р12.30pm or 6 Р8pm at the rather modest upper level in the Tabernacle in Talbot Road. Hopefully, there’s a lift.



b) TRADERS CONSULTATION On the same day, RBKC has graciously set aside 90 whole minutes to consult its 400+ street traders on the future of the Market: 1 – 2.30pm at the Portobello Court Community Room – a space that holds 50 standing. In other words, 4 minutes per street trader!

All those who love the Market should attend. 

If that’s not possible; please write to your councillor and/or your friendly local journalist and get all your friends to tweet it.

By the way, here are some relevant comments posted about Catherine Faulks and Cem Kemahli received on our RBKC Councillors survey feedback recently:

Now it’s time for us to say something:

We believe that ignoring  the views of locals –  the residents, small businesses and traders who have long rejected a  “placemaking’ scheme, and then going ahead with such a scheme  in the form  of a  “design competition” (which nobody here supports) is absolutely shameful from RBKC .  It is hardly in the best local interest  like go  through   RIBA  and   most likely  architects who have little to nothing to do with this area and community. to supposedly revitalise (we note they avoid saying regeneration but that is really what this is) the market.

The blog feels that doing so will end up in Portobello and Golborne Market being redesigned and  redeveloped into some faceless  gentrified shopping space that  prices traders out, doesn’t relate to the community at all  – and strips character  away from both the Market (if there is any sort of market left after that) and the surrounding local area.

RBKC’s ultimate plan is to redevlop the Market into something that they can make loads of money by  charging  an  exorbitant level of  rent  for – which of course would force many of our beloved traders and small businesses out, which is why theu’ve been so quiet about this But  RBKC doesn’t care – they see Portobello  and Golborne as  nothing but  a “cash cow” that they are determined to milk for all they can get  regardless. 

For those who may be thinking we are¬† being unnecessarily quick to judge RBKC¬† over this, , then we point as to why the Council¬† have over several years neglected the Market¬† and surrounding streets and are only coming up with this option – and an¬† option that the community¬† has made clear that it does not want – and then keep any actual consultation to a bare minimum and squeeze the meetings all into ONE DAY .The complete disegard for our community,¬†¬† the disgraceful, sly underhamd way in which this is being done and the¬† very narrow window for consultation, only shows that RBKC is determined to plough ahead regardless and they haven’t changed one bit¬† Some of the personnel¬† may have changed, but the behaviour and motives of¬† social cleansing, arrogant greedy and dishonest bad old RBKC stay exactly the same.¬†¬†

And while some of us are still shaking our heads at how little RBKC has changed, we’ll leave you with this great documentary video about the Market (with a few familiar faces we know!) from 11 years ago.

Are some of our Labour councillors  abandoning ship?

Let us make things absolutely clear – we have nothing against councillors going on holiday or attending birthday parties and Cllr Sina Lari is perfectly entitled to having breaks just like anyone else. But when a senior councillor has been flagged as being absent from Golborne most of the time and the casework in his ward is piling up to the point where residents are outraged enough to send his holiday snaps to us; then something isn’t right.

We were sent a picture of Sina Lari on holiday  on Thursday from  disgruntled constituents. Just in the interests of protecting the privacy of Cllr Lari’s friends – who are not RBKC Councillors – we have decided to remove it from our title picture . However that picture was one of several we have received over a length of time and from various sources. In fact in recent times some of us have seen more of  Cllt Lari’s holiday snaps  than  anything showing him doing some actual Council work!

Yesterday out of a supposed meeting of all  13  of our Labour councillors – only 5 of them  bothered to turn up.   (Well – they had no Chief Whip present to ensure they did ) What sort of example is this? We’d like to know why and also why there is such a poor Town Hall attendance from Labour councillors?

We don’t expect them to show up  to Kensington Town Hall every day, we know sometimes there are clashing meetings and other events going on and of course councillors are residents with other things on their plates (such as work or family commitments ) but the empty benches and lack of Labour presence is very worrying . Especially when it seems now, when the job of holding the RBKC Leadership to account seems to end up being the job of residents. That Labour side has been very quiet – too quiet. Some residemts are getting sick of watching meetings and spotting several issues and points missed. Some are even keeping lists of important things missed.

We are not going to lay blame at the feet of new coumcillors – it’s early days . Some may be finding their feet and others at least have – from what we have seen on our survey –¬† started to make an impression on residents (and that goes for the two new Golborne councillors who have now received some positive reviews). We just hope the Labour side as a whole manages to get out of first gear very soon .

We are also hearing that one of their new councillors (in another ward) is being smeared and ridiculed by some on their side Рcompletely unacceptable. We are not going to lower ourselves down to school playground  bully level and name the councillor because we know that  even though they may not always get everything spot on, they are putting in the work, are well liked by some of their constituents and they are visible in their ward Рgood.  

It is  the responsibility of the more experienced councillors to guide the inexperienced ones,  but  apparently Sina Lari appears to think you do that by going on holiday and never being here ?!

And what about Golborne?

In Golborne, a large number of  residents living in Adair and Hazlewood Towers are going through  a catalogue of disturbance and chaos  though the extensive  refurbishment of their buildings. The poor  quality of  some of the work is concerning.   Have a look  at what we saw posted on Twitter:

But where are RBKC to monitor Lawtech Group and the refurbishment? Nowhere.  And where are the local  Labour  councillors? Because residents there say they haven’t responded.

Golborne is home to plenty of social housing, both Council and Housing Aasociation – so that means plenty of residents with housing issues- so Golborne is not by any means an easy ward to represent. There is always plenty of casework here, and that requires all hands on deck .

There are also two Planning Applications pending on the Wornington Green estate. We will he doing a  update on a separate post on Monday , but for now we will just share these Planning Applications for concerned residents (and councillors just in case Cllr Lari wants to bother from wherever in the world he happens to be) to put in their comments and objections.

This one – that closes on the 3rd of February:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?address=&streetname=&postcode=&ward=&consarea=&caseyear=&casenumber=&proposal=&decisionyear=&decisionmonth=&appealref=&batch=20&id=CON/22/07715&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1

And this one, which closes on the 10th of February:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?address=&streetname=&postcode=&ward=&consarea=&caseyear=&casenumber=&proposal=&decisionyear=&decisionmonth=&appealref=&batch=20&id=PP/22/07718&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1

Next, we come to Kensal Canalside. Now this might be in neighbouring Dalgarno ward, but the potential severe impact of these plans on Golborne and local residents and the environment there¬† cannot be ignored. Also on Thursday there was supposed to be a meeting about¬† the planned huge¬† Kensal Canalside Sainsbury’s/Ballymore development (we’re not going to use their ludicrous “Project Flourish” name), but that was cancelled.

Residents are highly concerned about the size of this development, lack of social housing, height of some of the buildings, fire safety of some of the proposed housing, environmental impact  and the impact on all of  potentially squeezing  thousands of homes into that space without any new public transport  station provided. We do not yet know if any new  meeting is rescheduled but this is another serious matter. And one which requires serious full attention from our Labour councillors.

This also was posted on Twitter by Pat Mason, but sadly Pat Mason stepped down as Golborne councillor last year and he has moved far north of North Kensington, to Scotland. Pat did the bulk of the Goborne casework his presence at the Town Hall is greatly missed and there are people fron Golborne asking for him back on a couple of our survey responses.

And, to state the obvious about Golborne Ward; it is the ward in the borough with the highest levels of social deprivation, and so many of the poorest residents are severely impacted by the cost of living crisis and some do requite urgent help and guidance. We know Councillors cannot always do absolutely everything to help , but it appears that some of North Kensington’s most vulnerable residents are being left to “sink or swim:” , and it doesn’t do anyone any good to have senior local councillors missing in action.

So far on our RBKC Councillors survey, all 50 Councillors have received both positive and negative reviews, and we are very pleased to see that in most cases, the good reviews outweigh the bad. The survey closes on the 12th of March and we urge all who live or work here and take an interest in local issues to take part here:

https://surveyheart.com/form/63c08fb52408077752df3312

So what feedback, some may be wondering, has Cllr Lari received?

Well, he has been voted for both positively (from Kensington Labour loyalists that is – yes we can tell who some of the responses are from!) and negatively (from all sides). But the actual reviews for Cllr Lari are negative, and they come from all sides of the political spectrum and make for “interesting reading” have a look:

Well those were the most entertaining ones! We do have to say we’re not so bothered about what part of the borough someone lives in, where they went to school or what they wear as long as they do their casework, turn up to their wards, meet with their constituents regularly and attend Council and other relevant meetings .

Most of Cllr Lari’s feedback in his ward received said “Never here” “Don’t know what he does” “Never heard back from him”, “No casework” – so we’ll let that speak for itself.

And putting responses about individual Councillors aside for a moment, here is one that we strongly agree with, and that perhaps most of us who care about local issues can agree on:

Whether some agree or disagree with the survey comments or not, we have to say that this is all highly disappointing, considering Cllr Lari was one of Labour’s big hitters and used to at least put in a good showing to the Town Hall . But there is so more to Councillors’ work than making impressive speeches at Hornton Street – and these days residents aren’t even seeing that anymore …..

Leaving all the Golborne ward casework to two new councillors has ended up leaving¬† serious matters going unnoticed and residents having to chase up matters on housing, planning and the local environment completely unaided. It is little wonder that some residents ¬† are fed up enough to feel compelled to send Cllr Lari’s Instagram posts to us.

Residents , wherever in the borough they ive, should be receiving   adequate representation and contact  from their local ward councillors.

This blog does not object to councillors taking breaks of course, but we do object to what amounts to a dereliction of duty on behalf of a senior Councillor and a slap in the face to  the residents of North Kensington.

Sina Lari is arguably the most eloquent speaker on the Labour benches, he is also very knowledgeable about Planning issues. But if  he does not want to do his job and see to the needs of Golborne residents , then he should resign from the Council with immediate effect.

After all (as someone has commented on another blog) , a by-election in Labour’s safest ward would be a great way to test the water to see if Labour is polling as well here as they are nationally, as well as to get a councillor in who genuinely cares about Golborne and North Kensington. (A number of Golborne residents are not convinced that Lari does.)  If some people may see that as replacing an experienced councillor with an inexperienced one, we  do know of a certain former Labour candidate  (who has previously  stood in  Earl’s Court and Holland Wards ) who works tremendously hard, is a very experienced campaigner and is someone who does  understand the needs of the people of Golborne.

We can only hope for that or for Lari to return to the Labour “ship” and finally roll his sleeves up and get stuck in to casework and Town Hall business , rather than jetting off on his hols without a second thought for the needs of Golborne residents and also his fellow Ward Councillors left in deep water to deal with all the work . After all last May’s local  elections results,  radio silence from half of  the Labour front bench, the negative feedback from residents and the absenteeism shows that whatever is going on  nationally, sadly  our local opposition is a hell of  a long way  from “ship -shape”. Let’s hope they get their act together.

Another survey? Let’s rate our good and bad Councillors

RBKC is very fond of tick box exercises and surveys. We get swamped with so many of them we don’t know what to do sometimes! It is not always clear how useful or helpful some of these really are, or¬† how much our Council is really taking residents’ views into account when making their decisions over Council policy.

But what about the Councillors who are responsible for deciding Council policy? And those who are responsible for opposing it?

Our friends at  fellow local blog From The Hornets Nest have asked their readers to rate good and bad Councillors. The comments make for interesting reading. Have a look here:

https://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2023/01/rate-your-rbkc-councillor.html?m=1

So we invite all who live or work in our borough to complete this  short  survey which only takes a couple of minutes. The survey is anonymous, confidential and balanced and provides an oppotunity to see whether some of the newer, lesser known Councillors  are making their mark or not

Our findings will be published in two months time (on the 12th of March) and we have sought to be fair to everyone – including those we might not always be politically on the same page as – amd let’s see who is doing a good job…or not.

We’re not so sure that everyone at RBKC will appreciate this particular tick box exercise…..

Take part at this link below:

https://surveyheart.com/form/63c08fb52408077752df3312

New Year, New You…. same old RBKC

Happy New Year everyone!! ūü•≥ and it’s  back to work for most of you, as well as us  at THINKūüėŅ.

We were going to put up out 2022 year summary post, but that will have to  now be postponed until tomorrow because guess what,  the “New Year killjoys” at RBKC have decided that TODAY  is the last date for responses to this consultation!  Here it’s the link to respond (and we really do recommend  that residents respond,  taking screenshots of your responses):

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/letstalkkc/

Residents have until 11:59pm  to get your responses in, and we know so many of you will have a lot to say on this.

But we have to say that we take issue with a Council that has failed to grasp the basics on being cleaner, greener, safer  and fairer stating that it wants to be the best Council  when they are a hell of a long way from that……

Grenfell and North Kensington

Five and a half years since Grenfell, after 72 innocent members of our community lost their lives in an entirely preventable man-made disaster of an inferno, our  traumatised and affected local North Kensington community is still being treated like something on the back of RBKC’s shoes.

After all they don’t¬† exactly listen to us or show much in the way of real consideration :¬† Expensive and largely useless suits were hired – without our say.¬† Grenfell Scrutiny was scrapped – without our say, a toothless and largely pointless Assembly that more RBKC officers than residents attend¬† was put in its place – without our say, what we had of a trauma centre at The Curve was closed –¬† without our say and ¬£100K of Grenfell Repcvery money gets spent on a useless propaganda magazine (North Ken News)¬† again – without our say.

Residents here have not only being affected by Grenfell, but also Covid-19 and the lockdown, and the cost of living crisis¬†¬† The cost of¬† living crisis is not a new thing – not if you are on a low income and have had years of what little income you receive being stripped away by the Conservatives. And thanks to Brexit it has got worse. Of course our “lovely” Conservative Counci wont admit that their “wonderful” Party is responsible for most of this.¬† The cost of living crisis is¬† a new thing (and the fault of global circumstances) according to them, and a matter that they show very little indication of doing much about. Our local charities and¬†¬† community organisations were already cash strapped, and now the situation is worse, but RBKC sit on their hands¬† or make tiny next to nothing¬† (or even downright insulting)¬† gestures, like this – and this was from last year:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2022/01/09/rotten-eggs-in-the-rotten-borough-and-their-hard-boiled-attitude-towards-north-kensington-our-poor-vulnerable-and-traumatised/&ved=2ahUKEwiAovPPkaz8AhWDhFwKHbxJCeUQFnoECAsQAQ&usg=AOvVaw3CEsYzEo663aHcQliWikm3

Here’s¬† the thing,¬† it makes us furious to imagine the diffference it would¬†¬† have made to charities, community organisations and others bidding for money under the Grenfell Funds Project if that ¬£447,446 had been paid to them instead of awarded to divisive and out of touch suit¬† Robyn Fairman as a “golden goodbye”

https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/london-council-boss-paid-447k-23611353.amp

Look we’re not knocking all Council suits and officers here;, but our community has shown that we can make¬† decisions regarding what we need in North Kensington for ourselves, and be more effective with regards to helping locals.¬†

But patronising Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell doesn’t understand this community, she seems to think that the issues between North Kensington and her Council can be resolved if she extends the Communications PR spending (complete with countless messages telling us the bleeding obvious!) and hires MORE suits and officers none are from North Kensington or are community reps. ( RBKC seems to have thought that having more working class and BAME suits for Grenfell, Housing etc that look and sound like us but still peddle the same old RBKC crap would get us to buy it) and they are still not listening to us, not respecting us

Actually what North Kensington could really do with would be a one stop shop help centre. – but we once had one of those – the Westway Information Centre in Ladbroke Grove (on land intended for community use) which ended up being closed by RBKC and then was leased to Notting Hill Prep School and Pret A Manger

And then Dizzy Lizzy goes and writes silly articles like this for Conservative Home (is this her “crazy way” of justifying our Council’s spending priorities?) :

Elizabeth Campbell: Local government should be forever arguing for more freedom – not for more cash

(Not sure why the article has a picture of the Royal Albert Hall heading it , presumably Cllr Campbell will try to take credit for performances there?!)

By the way, Dizzy Lizzy, NOBODY here asked for a “storyteller”!

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2022/12/rbkc-employs-storyteller.html?m=1

We’re guessing that RBKC will be making this “Town Hall Rich List” from the Taxpayers Alliance again this year and likely topping it ,(when so many of our residents cannot afford essentials like food and are struggling to pay the bills.) The shame of it. Here’s last year’s:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.taxpayersalliance.com/town_hall_rich_list_2022&ved=2ahUKEwjy7-yoj6z8AhWPiFwKHbURD00QFnoECA8QAQ&usg=AOvVaw0bGwyRBHC1RANi0bb4mRaK

As for housing, one only needs to look at our previous post again and the 4 year ordeal that residents of Adair and Hazlewood Towers have been and are still going through for starters:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2022/12/27/a-not-so-merry-christmas-for-rbkc-tenants-and-leaseholders/

But any residents holding onto a microscopic molecule of hope that RBKC will be “fairer” will be disappointed when they see how the Council treats long-suffering residents. Is not answering residents about the works fair? Is selective communication with a few residents then ignoring others fair?

And expecting residents to do Council officers’ jobs of chasing up the contractors to get answers isn’t fair either.

It’s not easy being green

Or rather, “it’s not easy pretending to be green” , yes certainly. Especially when not ONE of the Wornington Trees was saved and the chances are that a new road, bringing huge increases to traffic and pollution to the locality, right by the Westway, when most local residents are opposed to the Catalyst scheme, will likely be given the green light by RBKC (whatever noises they make to try and fool people)

https://www.worningtontrees.com/

“It’s not easy pretending to be green” when you have aspirations to be the “best Council ” and then go about falsely claiming to want to be “greener” . How much greener is it when you remove cycle lanes connecting with Lodnon cycle super highway by Holland Park Avenue and Kensington High Street?

https://betterstreets4kc.org.uk/tag/holland-park-avenue/

We know that many pedestrians and cyclists around these streets where cars have the upper hand, don’t think this is making the Council “safer” and sadly there are still pedestrians and cyclists killed in accidents.

As Better Streets K & C are battling with RBKC in a Judicial Review at the High Court over the cycle lanes – they will be back there on January the 12th – we’ll just post this to show how it’s going and also to see how much “fairer” this all is

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.standard.co.uk/news/london/council-high-street-kensington-cycle-lanes-high-court-b1045797.html%3famp

Looks like RBKC will lose – and pass all the extra costs…on to us! Merry belated Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And not forgetting the Borough’s “Opportunity Areas” (or rather developers carve-ups) in Earl’s Court and Kensal Canalside. Does anyone hear RBKC highlighting residents concerns over pollution, infrastructure, lack of green spaces (as well as lack or absence of social and genuinely “affordable housing)? Not a peep!

Ok perhaps we shouldn’t crowding up a post with far too many links on a last day of consultation . But as we are pushed for time to fully go into everything and more than frustrated , we will leave the RBKC Cabinet (or “Leadership Team” as they like to call themselves, a belated Christmas present…

Here’s a clue: You cannot buy it in the shops or online, It’s bIg, it’s gold and blingy, very few people have one and nobody wants one……

Cleaner, greener, safer, fairer? For falsely claiming to be any of these, as well as having the nerve to aspire to be the best Council when they are mere adequate at best and incompetent, ignorant, arrogant, self-serving and tone deaf at worst, THINK proudly present the RBKC Cabinet with a Piglet-Pie Award. Our awards stage isn’t big enough for all of them (and their egos!) so here are 5 of them to collect it:

No doubt they will “return the favour” by “giving” residents more Council Tax, higher rent, higher service charges, higher business rates and goodness knows what else in order to pay for it all, and if they are daft enough to think that wasting our money on more PR is a magic wand to make residents think they are making this borough cleaner, greener, safer and fairer, then they don’t even deserve to be in charge of a paperclip frankly. The RBKC Leadership might as well be handing our virtual award (out of charity!) to hard up residents and telling them they’ll be in the money if they scrape the gold off it and take it to their nearest pawnbrokers.

A not-so Merry Christmas for RBKC tenants and leaseholders

THINK wish all our readers – from here, nearby and elsewhere – a belated very Merry Christmas.

It’s such a dreadful shame that our Council doesn’t share our sentiments and doesn’t care to give their tenants a second thought over the festive season.

Here are a couple of cases in point:

Pictured above is Hazlewood Tower, a block of council flats that is owned and managed by RBKC and is situated close by to Golborne Road in North Kensington. As you can see from the picture, the building is undergoing significant refurbishment and has been so for over four years (alongside its “sister building” Adair Tower).

So significant is the refurbishment it has included removal of cladding (both buildings were previously covered in flammable cladding which had to be removed), but the issue isn’t just the cladding, it is the extent of the refurbishment, the length of time all the works are taking and the more than significant disturbance that all the work – carried out by contractors Lawtech Group – has caused to residents.

Residents there have reported constant noise and loss of privacy from Lawtech Group, four different types of cladding applied, problems with the new windows, and now access to their balconies has been blocked off.

See this article from London News Online:

https://londonnewsonline.co.uk/tower-block-dwellers-feeling-like-prisoners-in-own-homes-with-no-end-in-sight-to-scaffold-hell/

To add insult to injury, communication from RBKC and Lawtech Group with the residents has been minimal at best. Residents have been regularly ignored by both the Council and the contractors over a lengthy period of time too . Some are left with no option but to resort to posting on social media:

And to add further insult to injury, RBKC and Lawtech Group seem to be playing a game of “ignore the residents” and have their fingers stuck firmly in their ears….

It is the worst kind of bad joke imaginable that RBKC – the Grenfell Council – five and a half years after Grenfell, then goes and puts this up:

Presumably RBKC are perfectly content to spout PR claptrap over their website, publications and social media whilst at the same time leaving their residents living in conditions like this?

And to give some of our readers who might not be so well acquainted with Adair and Hazlewood Towers some further information on what an ordeal the residents there have been and are still going through, some readers might wish to see this My London article from 2 years ago:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/tower-block-residents-near-grenfell-19319163.amp

We know that RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Grenfell Housing, Housing and Social Investment Kim Taylor-Smith is a regular reader of this blog, and we hope that (alongside enjoying our photoshop of him as Scrooge) that after the festive season he calls an urgent meeting between the residents and relevant Housing staff and representatives from Lawtech Group over these matters. We will also be sending this blog to members of the RBKC Housing amd Communities Select Committee and ask that they examine the issues raised above very carefully and get to the bottom of the poor communication with residents, why the works are taking so long, why the quality of some aspects of the refurbishment has been so poor, get some answers from Lawtech Group and housing staff and also look into the cost of all this, which will no doubt be passed on to tenants and leaseholders who are already struggling with the cost of living crisis as it is. “Seasons Greetings ” indeed…

And this is far from the end of our post, as now we venture down to the South of the Borough and to the Cremorne Estate in Chelsea where shortly before Christmas and at only just at the end of the cold weather snap, some 200 plus RBKC tenants and leaseholders were left without heating and hot water.

And its back to the Twittersphere for the first patronising response of a PR ūüí© show from RBKC again with less than perfect timing when they posted this:

Very understandably so, some Cremorne residents were less than impressed:

But ever determined to make it at least appear as if this Council is actually bothered to do something, those responses appeared to prompt the RBKC Communications Team to come out with this response:

Well OK, it was some sort of response which is better than none at all and it was good to hear that RBKC sent engineers down there as well as officers- that’s what they’re supposed to do!- but we’re less than impressed with the posting (or rather constant reposting because they clearly think people in social housing are stupid) of that rubbish 0800 137 111 number which all RBKC tenants are referred to, which half the time never gets answered (and a few unfortunate residents get hung up on or cut off by staff in the middle or a call or even transferred to the Kensington Town Hall main switchboard!) Not good enough.

Here are some more responses from Cremorne residents after that…..

And as for that leaflet – we guess RBKC were thinking “we might as well as patronising as possible” and tell residents to “put on a woolly hat” – the responses just kept on coming:

Well, we were glad to hear that  the heating and hot water was eventually fixed and we hope all the Cremorne residents did get to enjoy their Christmas, but this ponts to a recurring problem, so the question for RBKC is what are they going to do about this long term? Because, just to almost sound as patronising as them for a bit here, we have to remind RBKC that  some  residents are elderly, some have children, others have serious health conditions and allowing this to happen every Winter is a less than adequate solution. As for that repairs number, that has been here as far back as we can remember, in fact it used to be known as the KCTMO repairs number, and we’re very sad to say it, but it was actually easier to report repairs to KCTMO because they at least gave residents the numbers and email addresses for their housing officers – which RBKC Housing Management  hardly ever does. Do not get us wrong, we are not remotely getting nostalgic for the bad old days of the TMO but how is having a less than adequate – in fact worse- of reporting repairs, faults , problems etc at one’s Council property – any sort of improvement?

We also hope that residents of Adair and Hazlewood Towers got to at least enjoy a tiny bit of peace and quiet over Christmas (sadly a few days in a year of peace and quiet is about all they get) , and we know that many of them, as well as many other tenants and leaseholders all around the borough will have a lot to say to RBKC about their housing.

. Maybe it’s time for a “good old Christmas singalong”?

Or maybe not, because “Merry Xmas Everybody/Don’t Blame Me” would be exactly what that bunch above (who aren’t Slade!) would come up with – almost as much as “Grenfell was an accident” (privately) and “We’re listening to and working with residents” (publicly) and not forgetting that old chestnut (roasting on an open fire) promising residents a “Culture change at RBKC”

Such is the level of delusion of these people that they are now promising to make RBKC “the best Council” amd “greener, safer and fairer for everyone” . Quite how they propose to do this when they cannot even get the basics right is one thing, and then demonstrating how keen they are to get residents views that they stick this consultation on the website at Christmas holidays when some residents are away, others are busy with their families and some are even agonising over whether they can afford to heat their home and eat properly is the best time to do this is another thing. Never mind, our “lovely caring” Council decided that RIGHT NOW (when they are a million miles away from what they are aspiring to be) is the best time for this. The consultation closes on the 3rd of January. So here it is ūüé∂

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/letstalkkc/

We encourage all our readers who live or work in RBKC to take part, and even though we feel that negative responses that RBKC receive will likely end up in the bin with the wrapping paper . “Let’s talk K & C”? Let’s talk b*****ks more like. We’d also advise residents responding to screenshot their responses just in case RBKC happen to “lose” them… We also are wondering why this particular CONsultation is so short?

And that isn’t the only “Christmas present” that RBKC happen to have in store for their residents. They also have a consultation on Tenancy Agreements on at this time too:

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/housing/tenancy-agreement-proposed-changes/

This one is for RBKC tenants and leaseholders, but we suppose at least this one is open until the 27th of February.

Some residents are also (you guessed it!) unimpressed….

It does beg the question as to why RBKC are throwing taxpayers money down the drain on putting out leaflets with QR codes on them when the whole point of leaflets isthat they are supposed to be for reaching out to residents who aren’t online? Cost of living crisis? What cost of living crisis?

Here, for those who are struggling because of the cost of living crisis right now, here is what little help and info that RBKC can provide (and of course it doesn’t mention Brexit or 12 years of Tory rule!)

³https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/cost-living-support-hub

THINK have a Christmas list every year and it goes a little something like this:

Realistically the only way RBKC will ever change will be if a Labour Government forces them to, otherwise any na√Įve well wishing that leopards will change their spots is about as realistic as is any chance of seeing Santa’s sleigh being driven by flying pigs going over Ladbroke Grove ….

Yes! We have no bananas! We also have no Scrutiny documents!!

Earlier at  THINK HQ, our Editot was sitting down to read the  Council Papers for the week, when she clicked on the link for the papers for  the  upcoming  Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting  on Thursday the 1st December to find….. absolutely nothing!

“Move along, nothing to see here!”

THINKers are only just getting back into our old habit of having a good old read-up  of the Council papers every Sunday, but RBKC do have a very long-term  habit of  giving the public very little time to read documents before important meetings (occsionally leaving us feeling like panicked students doing last minute exam revision).

 

An  example of this can be found in this old post of ours recalling when RBKC “reformed” (or rather reduced) Scrutiny including the abolition of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee  and this extract of is taken from the (fraught and turbulent) Administration Committee meeting shortly before:

“Many residents and opposition councillors were also frustrated at the short notice at which RBKC had published the papers (giving residents little time in which to fully respond).”

Yes –  that’s why they sometimes leave it late before publishing the papers- because they don’t want the public to be doing any scrutinising of them and asking difficult questions!

No doubt some at the Council will tell us that it’s nothing new for them to share documents for important meetings with the public  for only a short time before, but that’s just the problem – nothing has improved and that blog post was over THREE YEARS AGO!!

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is Chaired  by Cllr Mary “Wheelie Bin” Weale . It’s just the sort of thing we expect from her, as is very little Scrutiny since she is one of the RBKC “old  guard ” – and we objected to her being in the position of OSC Chair in the first place because we know that she is not  exactly going to be critical of her friends, and   we believe it to it is wrong  for one of the  councillors who are part of the old guard  and someone who was a senior  member of RBKC Cabinet until May, to be essentially responsible for oversight of Scrutiny for matters of which they were part of  – and of policies which they were partly responsible for .

We did expect better from Cllr Will Pascall as he is one of the more decent and civilised Conservative councillors. However,  since  Cllr Sarah Addenbrooke has returned to the Cabinet (as Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health., her husband Cllr Pascall, is in the position of Vice Chair of OSC and partly overseeing scrutiny of poilcies that HIS WiFE is responsible for!!

At the very least, nobody can expect Cllrs Weale and Pascall to be unbiased in their Scrutiny of RBKC policy.

So little wonder that most of us believe that very little Council Scrutiny will go on under this format and it will mostly be left for Opposition Councillors and residents to pick holes in the information and ask the right questions -so of course  the RBKC Tories don’t do the decent thing and publish the papers at least a week  before. When residents are having  to “cram”  the papers shortly before Committee meetings: things end up going by unchallenged.

Wheelie Bin has made it well known that she does not like to appear in blogs, and she does not like her silly nickname  – once saying in a Full Council Meeting: “There is no place for disgraceful soubriquets” . 

We say that if Cllr Weale would wish our blog to treat her  with respect, then she ought to know that respect goes both ways.  Cllrs Wheelie Bin and Pascall are being disrespectful to residents and so are the RBKC Leadership.

Respect also has to be earned, and most  of those in charge of our Council certainly haven’t done that.  Instead, they carry on sending residents bananas in various ways,  knowing various Tory Governments don’t care and are happy to leave RBKC to their own devices and “business as usual”  all the while our suffering continues.

Now there is a tiny bit of recent good news for anyone still searching for the papers for the OSC as they were finally put up yesterday:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/8752/Committee/1613/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

That is still less than a week before the meeting; not good enough. So is the reduced and questionable level of Scrutiny, so is the choice of councillors responsible for oversight of it and so is hiding relevant information from us as happened in this Audit and Transparency Committee meeting in the Summer:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2022/07/27/no-transparency-at-rbkc-as-discussion-of-grenfell-recovery-spending-at-audit-and-transparency-committee-gets-censored/

But a General Election coming along could burst the RBKC Tories’ bubble, so if we were in their shoes, we’d get our act together ASAP, because there is the possibility that the longtime wish of many North Kensington residents  – for a Government to send the Commissioners into Kensington Town Hall –  could very well be granted by Labour.

RBKC and the “game playing” around meetings and¬† residents – Housing¬† this time

Phantom meetings, selective communications with a few residents, poor advertising of meetings,  (usually meetings held at bad times)  false CONsultations, muddling or usage of misleading  terms and  censorship   of information from residents all  seem to be the norm at RBKC these days.

This is a copy of an email that was sent our to some residents  about a supposed meeting about changes to tenancy agreements on the 27th of June:

We say “some residents” – actually very few . This is what  the very  few residents who got to Kensal Road for the meeting on the 4th of July  arrived  there to – an empty building and no meeting taking place:

Apparently RBKC decided to change the venue of the¬† tenants meeting and didn’t bother to tell some of¬† the residents¬† (out of the very few they had notified) completely¬† unacceptable.¬†¬†

This is a  copy of a response from one of the disappointed  residents:

Some of our readers may remember back in the run-up¬† to when RBKC decided to abolish¬† the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, they held¬† a “Residents Conference” to which most of us were not invited, and at which what the¬† supposed priorities of RBKC¬† should be was discussed and¬† was decided amongst 15 – just 15¬† –¬† residents .¬† Apparently only 4 of the residents attending that¬†meeting were from North Kensington¬† – which left Grenfell¬† and housing¬† as matters which mattered most to them near the¬† bottom of the list.¬†

Any clued-up resident can see where this is going;¬† the same approach¬† is being taken with the tenancy agreements. And not just the tenancy agreements …

Take the planning of the proposed new social housing that RBKC intemds to build for example. At a recent¬† online¬† meeting¬† about the proposed Latymer Community Church and Bramley Road new homes¬† held in the middle of Summer holidays¬† when many residents are away, only 9 residents turned up. Onr Editot was one, but only after she was notified by KCSC – Kensingon and Chelsea Social Couucil and not RBKC.¬† We saw no advertising of the meeting¬† from the Council. Here’s likely why: out of the 25 new homes proposed on the site – only just over half – 13¬† will be for social rent and 12 are planned for internediate housing.¬†

RBKC call the intermediate housing¬†¬†¬† “Key Worker Homes” but when a resident asked¬† “are these homes for teachers,¬† nurses,¬† dustmen? ” The council officer responding went “yes homes for teachers, nurses er probably not dustmen” So unaffordable near- market rate homes it is then.¬† When the resident asked¬† “what happens with¬† these homes if the person ceases to be a keyworker?” RBKC did not have a response.

We are not against new hones being built in North Kensington – we recognise there is a housing crisis and   shortage  of social rent hones  and RBKC has to respond to this  but building around half  of these as  intermediate homes that very few key workers can afford will have an effect of  further  gentrification of the area and will not help our homeless. Calling homes that are only marginally cheaper than market rent homes “Key Worker homes” is a con and a gimmick.   

We are also concerned that only 6 or 7 of these proposed homes will be family homes.  Some time back, when opposing  the new homes proposed at Silchester Arches at a meeting of the Planning Committee local resident Piers Thompson voiced concerns about  so many single person homes being built so close to Grenfell   and very vulnerable people being housed  around there and being affected   by the trauma in Notting Dale Ward.  He called for homes built in in the the area to be family homes . We think Piers is absolutely right and  we think  a traumatised area such as Notting Dale   (which has  lots of schools   nearby) is more suitable for family homes than single person homes.

We are also highly concerned about what happens to our families living in overcrowded housing and worry about their future in the borough .

We think RBKC should go back to the drawing board  on this and the new homes should be family homes for social rent but as RBKC rarely visit Notting Dale, we doubt they will care what local  residents think. They don’t want our input, We are regarded as a nuisance and an inconvenience to them. They are more focused on making money from the homes and gentrifying North Kensington rather than helping people here.




Because councillors and suits do read our blog, it’s time for a few words:

North Kensington residents are not a peculiar breed of people asking for special treatment. We are not troublemakers or naughty children  We  are merely peiple who care deeply about our community and wellbeing and future of it and just wish to be treated with fairness, decency honesty  and respect. 

RBKC’s attempts to¬†¬† mislead residents are an insult to our intelligence¬† –¬† “Key Worker homes”, “social-affordable”. We know they are mainly focused on building single person homes to make the NUMBERS of¬† new homes they’re building look good for them; all the while the consequences end up being families having no¬† choice but to move out of the borough and their¬† children growing up away from their community and in some cases, in squalid bed and breakfast hotels.

¬†¬†¬† When we see the Council¬† leaving most of their¬† tenants¬† out of supposed meetings and consultations about tenancy agreements, residents can only conclude that¬† have already made the decisions and the meetings are just a formality and a tick box exercise.¬† People aren’t stupid; we can see what is going on..


Monday’s  decision to hold  discussion about Grenfell  Recovery spending at the Audit and Transparency Committee in private, excluding the press and the public,  was an absolute disgrace (and anyone who looks at the papers for the previous one can see that RBKC are deliberately muddling the Grenfell Recovery expenditure) . It certainly wasn’t fair, decent honest or respectful, and neither is holding important  meetings  in Summer holidays when many people are away,not advertising meetings properly, cherry picking which residents they decide to consult with about tenancy agreements  or any other changes, and suddenly deciding to change times and/or venues without notifying residents properly.


It is the behaviour of pre-Grenfell RBKC , of “business as usual” conducted hy  excluding  our community and it needs to stop.  This Summer has been a long hot Summer and if ANYONE at RBKC really cares about improving  relations with our residents and community, they need to stop all this and seriously   rethink their  behaviour as it only serves to make residents  heated and exclude our community  –  and  especially  the most  traumatised  and the most vulnerable in it  –  even  further.

Below is an extract taken from an old email response to our  Editor from  RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment  Kim Taylor-Smith to give our readers further insight into  the attitude that he and some of his colleagues take towards us :

…… which prompted yet another concerned North Kensington resident to send us this:

Police incident in Ladbroke Grove last Friday: The full story

Last Friday, there was an incident in Ladbroke Grove outside the Barclays Bank. Our Editor arrived there to see an unarmed man on the floor with 10 officers around him, lots of Police cars and vans at the scene and over 40 Police officers present. Fearing a severe overreaction on the part of the Police, we made some inquiries Here is what we found out:

Contrary to what this article in My London says, the man was apparently stopped not for “behaving erractically” but for riding a scooter on the pavement.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/screaming-man-arrested-biting-police-24564972

The man responded by assaulting the Police officer who then pressed his panic button and several Police officers then appeared at the scene. The man was restrained and then charged with assaulting a Police Officer.

We do understand that Police Officers on the frontline have a tough call to make but what the responding Officers didn’t get right was several of them remaining on the scene long after the man had been restrained and the situation was under control, leaving many members in our community to think the situation was a lot more serious than it was and quite a lot of residents were distressed by seeing or hearing of the incident . We hope lessons are learned. Before she saw the man our Editor was greatly alarmed by seeing such a huge Police presence and had thought this to be a killing or terrorist attack or some armed gang robbing the bank. After she saw the man, who was shouting incomprehensibly whilst being restrained by the Police and later after she read the newspaper article, she assumed the Police had hugely overreacted to what appeared to be an unarmed person who might have possibly been mentally ill.

This was fortunately not the case, but we ask all who live in, visit, Police and report on matters in our community to please exercise careful and sensitive consideration that we are in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival, and also that many residents here in the community around Grenfell are deeply traumatised. We also send our kind thoughts our to the injured Police officer and wish him well.

We have published this article as people are asking for an explanation of what happened and also to reassure people as many in and around our community. Many have had concerns and questions about the incident and local Policing – especially in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival.

We thank Claire Van Helfteren, the local Police Independent Advisory Chair for her help and for the clarity on this incident and we also thank Stairt Priestley, RBKC Chief Community Safety Officer for his correspondence. We hope to have a community meeting with the Police taking place after Summer holidays so questions, points and concerns from our community can be made and answered . We also hope everyone has a happy and safe Notting Hill Carnival and we will of course be there – back with our Annual Notting Hill Carnival blog with photos of the event (and another “Carnival Councillors” photoshop!) and look forward to enjoying it back on our streets again – for the first time properly since Covid-19 and Lockdown.

No transparency at RBKC as discussion of Grenfell  Recovery spending  at Audit and Transparency Committee gets censored

You couldn’t make it up; Grenfell  Recovery  funding was set to be discussed at a meeting of the RBKC  Audit and Transparency Committee on Monday. We don’t know if it was or wasn’t, because  the live broadcast turned off when the Chair, Cllr Gerard Hargreaves, announced that press and the public were to he excluded from the next bit of the meeting  – so it was lights out.

It gets worse. Residents who turned up to the Town Hall  at 6pm hoping to ask questions apparently  found that the meeting had gone ahead earlier than advertised – and RBKC conveniently “forgot” to tell the public.

Here is RBKC’s PR shtick on Twitter about  the meeting.

Perhaps RBKC forgot to tell  their own Communications Team about the censorship. They haven’t responded to us asking why discussion of Grenfell Recovery spending was censored – how rude.

We do not know whose decisions it was to hold discussion of Grenfell Recovery spending in private or secretly change the time of the meeting, but the logical guesses are Committee Chairman¬†¬† and old guard devotee, former¬† RBKC Cabinet Member¬† Cllr Gerard “Bulldog”¬† Hargreaves¬† and RBKC Leader¬†¬† Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy’ Campbell.

Bulldog might like to think he can muzzle our residents but unlike him and his Council cohorts, THINK is not in the business of censoring discussion, so the papers for ths Committee meeting are here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/8553/Committee/1555/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

Unfortunately our residents were denied the chance to ask any questions and make points about Grenfell Recovery spending to the councillors and suits involved so maybe they can send RBKC a few emails instead

And here are some papers from the last Audit and Transparency Committee meeting regarding Grenfell Recovery  spending (and note how RBKC has categorised  accommodation for survivors  as spending for the “wider community” which appears to at the very least, show they have misrepresented to parts of the community what was spent on services for us, and a miscategorisation. Also they have also appear to have not included what was given to the NHS in these papers)  :

Many  affected  locals are  understandably concerned about RBKC being less than open with us about Grenfell Recovery and what got spent where. Many of us  are also highly concerned  when the  Council decide  what the priorities around Grenfell Recovery should be without asking us first and then the consequences being resources  badly needed being scarce in some cases and in other cases,  what has appeared to be RBKC pouring money  down the drain.  They like to say they have dialogues with our community but when  people ask around, we find that only a small number of residents have any input, and even then they are not really at the heart of the big decisions.

RBKC likes to put on a a PR show and say they are listening to our community, but really that isn’t the case.

They waste ¬£100K on what is supposed to be Grenfell Recovery money on “North Ken News”. We haven’t got a copy of it to hand because it gets read for about 2 minutes (yes THINKers are a few residents out of a small handful of those who do read it) before going into the recycling. We have another article coming up all about their junk magazines, but essentially it is essentially money thst is supposed to be for Grenfell Recovery in our community wasted on Council propaganda.

Residents have also wondered¬† why RBKC has decided to spend millions on a “Community Leadership Programme” but in community with a rich tradition of community campaigning, community organisations and progressive minded individuals putting their ideas and initiatives into action, leadership isn’t exactly what our community is lacking in., so the obvious¬† answer to that question us that someone at¬† RBKC¬† who doesn’t know this community very well nor much about the history of us¬† decidsd it was a top priority and they¬† wrongly¬† assume North Kensington residents are a gormless bunch of people who struggle to tie their own shoelaces.

No doubt RBKC will turn around and tell us that they are fully committed  to  putting North Kensington  residents at the heart of decisions made about us, they will likely cite the fact that the Charter For Public Participation is part of the Council’s constitution. But the  charter does not have any framework for residents to  say what sort  level of decision making and involvement with the Council  they want. 

Here is a timely reminder from our friends at fellow North Ken blog Urban Dandy:

https://urbandandylondon.com/2018/11/07/change-1/

If RBKC seriously were to ask around about needs and wants here and then to respond appropriately, they wouldn’t have  abolished Grenfell Scrutiny , reduced  Council  Scrutiny as a whole and scattered the crumbs of what’s left  over various Committee meetings leaving discussion fragmented and traumatised and exhausted  residents to go through council papers with a  fine tooth comb. They would have listened to The Curve Governors, community organisations and the service users and not taken down such a top down approach. They would have not closed The Curve and provided no replacement; leaving North Kensington without a trauma centre at all when clearly many locals are still suffering.

So what we are left with at the end of the day, are more questions than answers and it is questionable Council that is now in the business of refusing to provide their residents with answers – to the point of conducting parts of meetings containing these answers in secret.. Remember Nick Paget-Brown refusing to let the press into that meeting just after Grenfell? This is where we are heading back to. We wonder how many other meetings and parts or meetings they are conducting in secret and how much important information is not being disclosed to the public. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right. It is a cover-up.

Gerard “Bulldog” Hargreaves

By the way, our blog was contacted by Callum Wilson, RBKC Director of “Grenfell Partnerships” to give feedback on the future of Grenfell Recovery,. Urban Dandy were contacted too. Look, we are not going to single out Mr Wilson for all the blame as he is not the Council Leader or Chief Executive, he is only one suit out of many and he is one suit that some of the bereaved and survivors have had a least had some positive interactions with, but really; is consulting with a small handful of residents a fair method of consultation? Maybe Mr Wilson was “only following orders” but we believe any sort of consultation should be fair, open and shared with the community in full, so we have published the papers at the end of this post. THINKers will have the courtesy to reply to him and give our own feedback of course – but when – and only when – we have shared widely and received feedback from our local community. NO to secret meetings and NO to secret consultations.

The only thing that is worse than the downright dishonesty, the  arrogance, ignorance and outright incompetence is the cover up of  such behaviour. This is North Kensington, this is  how we get treated and 5 years after Grenfell, this  community  truly deserves better.