Sign our petition to Theresa May to get commissioners in to run our Rotten Borough

IMG_1504.JPG

RBKC  is failing, its services are failing and our residents are being failed  by this sorry excuse for a council on a day to day basis.

This is  more than unacceptable given what happened at Grenfell Tower and why THINK has today started a petition calling in the Government to get the commissioners in to sort out this whole sorry mess. Our community has suffered enough, has been pushed to breaking point, and we do not even want to imagine another disaster happening. Please sign and share.

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-put-the-failing-royal-borough-of-kensington-chelsea-into-special-measures

Advertisements

TMO AGM adjourned for now: get the commissioners in

IMG_1522.JPG

The TMO annual general meeting, to be held at the Town Hall yesterday was adjourned.

The voting results?

240 for adjourning the AGM, 28 against and 8 blank/abstentions.

As it is, this council has 21 days in which they can hold another one, but more legal interventions are likely to occur, so don’t take our word for it.

We heard that none of the ruling Tories wanted to represent the council at this meeting and that it fell to  Conservative Cllr Maighread Condon-Simmonds to speak up – and yes – that is the same Cllr Condon-Simmonds who told her own party to “f*** off” at the Housing and Property Scrutiny Commitee meeting!

We believe that this council is not fit for purpose and cannot  function. They do not have a clue with what to do about our housing (other than get rid of us) and are lacking in leadership, decisiveness, compassion and courage.

We did spot Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith at the Town Hall and did wonder why he did not even bother to represent RBKC and left it to a backbencher…..

So THINK say to Theresa May, swallow your pride and think of the Grenfell survivors, many of whom have still not been permanently housed, and the poorest and most vulnerable in our community who live in social housing.

Residents need to be listened to and the Grenfell survivors and loved ones of the deceased have been continually ignored and this is also happening to many others in this community – this is beyond disgraceful.

Our council is now running what is effectively a skeleton of a housing service. This is  far from acceptable as many checks on people’s housing and safety and wellbeing are not being made. They are now barely able to function and have just a bunch of total utter cowards running the whole sorry show.

Some reading this might think this is some sort of joke or prank but sadly  it isn’t, and the longer this whole ridiculous charade of RBKC putting on a front for the media while their citizens are suffering  goes on, the more likely it is that there will be another disaster in the making. Please get the commissioners in and make it stop now.

 

Judgement Day for the TMO, Grenfell and the fate of our social housing

IMG_1490

We hope most TMO tenants and leaseholders have voted and also voted NO to resolutions 5 and 6.

This is such a serious matter that we are unable to return to our usual humorous style for posting about this issue.

For those who haven’t voted yet, we urge you to get to the TMO AGM at  Kensington Town Hall at 6:30pm today to cast your vote.

Yes, we are not supporters of the TMO, but we believe this vote to be a travesty that will enable some who may be held responsible for Grenfell to walk free from any possible prosecutions. We do not remotely trust their motives for rushing thorough with this vote and do not agree with the terms in which they put this vote.

We also believe that RBKC is not in a fit or trustworthy state as a local authority to be given absolute power over the housing of some of the most vulnerable in our community.

If you cannot take our word for it, see what the Grenfell Action Group has to say here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/kctmo-the-need-to-save-the-tmo/

For those who are not TMO members, we say show your support for people in Grenfell Tower, those lost and those still living with the trauma, their loved ones and also to the poor and the vulnerable and all in social housing under this Rotten Borough by turning up to support the protest at 6pm outside Kensington Town Hall.

Some of us in North Kensington have to live with the permanent reminder of the actions and inaction that a local authority that has lost every scrap of honesty and integrity has done. The charred shell of Grenfell Tower is there to see around the corner, out the window, from the back garden some of our friends there are no longer with us, other are now homeless.

On Sunday, we attended the Grenfell  Silent March and were amazed to see so many people turn up in support.

It is important to remember that the residents of Grenfell Tower were also social housing tenants and leaseholders who were let down and neglected on a continual basis by this council  and that still today, many others are not receiving the vital housing services that they need. We just hope and pray that not another disaster occurs.

We also ask the Government to please reconsider and put this council into special measures so the survivors and many others in this community receive the housing and support they deserve.

Our local community is strong, resilient, decisive and very supportive to one another. Let’s show all  that this community really does care about its citizens, even though the Rotten Borough in charge of us clearly doesn’t. Please join us!

LATE NEWS: We believe that anyone attending the TMO  AGM should vote to adjourn the meeting for 21 days. See the Grenfell Action Group here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/kctmo-chaos-and-incompetence-still-rule/

The Rotten Borough and their possible rotten plans for our social housing…..

 

IMG_1493.JPG

The building pictured above is not Trellick Tower, but is in fact Balfron Tower in Poplar, east London, which was also designed by Erno Goldfinger in the 1960’s for what was then the London County Council and was constructed a few years before Trellick Tower.

In the late 1990’s, Tower Hamlets council (in which Balfron Tower is situated) set up a housing association called Poplar HARCA (Housing and Residents Community Association).

As a primary example of brutalist architecture in social housing, Balfron like our very own Trellick Tower is a listed building and  there was no chance of it being demolished. Instead, Tower Hamlets and Poplar  HARCA had other plans……

Residents of Balfron Tower were duped into voting for the responsibility  over the management of their housing to be passed over to Poplar HARCA. They were promised that their homes would be renovated. Yes, Poplar HARCA did indeed keep the promise to renovate people’s homes, but what  they neglected to tell residents was that they would not be returning to them as this association was selling the building off!

Of course, not all brutalist social housing buildings have been fortunate enough to acquire listed status. One such example is Robin Hood Gardens, also in Poplar, east London (near the Blackwall tunnel) which was designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in the 1960’s. It is now under demolition, despite a campaign from residents, noted architects, such as Richard Rogers, Simon Smithson, the son of the architechts, and the Twentieth Century Society to save it.

The Estate had fallen into “managed decline” (an all-too familiar term for us) and many residents there had long fought to have their homes renovated, to no avail.

As it is the plans by Swan Housing Group for what will become of what was Robin Hood Gardens will have “1,575 homes; 698 of them affordable”. Of course we know that “affordable housing” means up to 80% of market rate, which is far from affordable to the vast majority of former residents.

As for the fate of the residents there, so far, only  around a third have been rehoused nearby. These residents have now had to take up housing association tenancies with Swan Housing (which for some, spells the end of the lifetime tenancies they previously had). Many  are now having to pay increased levels of rent and some are struggling financially. Most of the new flats that have been offered are smaller, which has meant that some families with grown up children have had to break up. Many homeowners there have been offered derisory compulsory purchase orders (around 40% less than their properties were worth) so are unable to afford to continue to live in their local community.

Phase 2 of this development is now underway, and out of the 242 homes included in this – just 36 are for social rent. The irony of “Robin Hood” is not lost on THINK as we see this as actually taking from the poor to give to the rich!

THINK express our solidarity with the former residents of both Balfron Tower and Robin Hood Gardens and  also to anyone else in London whose housing is under threat of regeneration.

We recommend that anyone concerned about regeneration schemes and demolition of social housing reads this blog post by Anne Power, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE:

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/sink-estates-demolition/

Just in case anyone was wondering what a North Kensington community blog was doing writing about regeneration in east London, let us point out that we believe that there is a very strong possibility of something similar happening here. The language and speech of RBKC clearly points towards ballots over handing responsibility to housing associations. They are not ruling out bringing back responsibility for social housing to be brought back “in house” , but do not exactly appear to be enthusiastic about this. We believe that they will  adopt a very similar approach and we also will warn residents of Trellick Tower that they are at risk of a worse fate than the residents of Balfron Tower  as concerns over the cost of maintenance of the building have been raised and RBKC has tightened its rules regarding social housing and time limits, housing points and placements – making it all but  impossible if you are not very old or very ill, to get housed in the borough now.

We believe that all social housing, particularly estates, such as North Kensington’s Silchester Estate  (which has also been under threat of regeneration before) and Chelsea’s World’s End Estate (there has long been talk –  and we hope these are just rumours – about this possible being under threat of regeneration too) are at risk of social cleansing.

In fact concerns about maintenance in World’s End were raised by Chelsea Riverside Conservative Cllr Maighread Condon-Simmonds, at last week’s housing and property scrutiny committee who also did tell the council to “f*** off!” (We kid you not!)

Anyone interested in Brutalist architure further might want to check out this excellent TV programme with Jonathan Meades:

Jonathan Meades mentions World’s End in Chelsea in the south of our borough briefly in this article “The A to Z of Brutalism” (under W) here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/feb/13/jonathan-meades-brutalism-a-z

But getting back to the subject of our council and its social housing, THINK believe that if the TMO is disbanded, it will be replaced with a similar model to Tower Hamlets and Poplar HARCA, with people being similarly tricked into voting to hand over management of their housing to something like this or another housing association.   tWe strongly urge anyone who hasn’t voted yet to go to the TMO AGM  tomorrow – 6:30 pm at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 and vote NO to resolutions 5 and 6.

We think that what has happened in Tower Hamlets  (and yes this is a Labour-run council we are talking about here) should be of  concern  to  all TMO tenants and leaseholders, particularly those living in both Trellick Tower. We will also point out that concerns regarding the cost of maintenance of the building were raised at the Housing and Property meeting and we believe that it is more than likely that this landmark building is sold off.  The realities of what many tenants and leaseholders in Poplar and also many other parts of London undergoing regeneration are going through echo the concerns expressed to us by residents of the Silchester Estate when the (now supposedly dropped) plans for regeneration were made there. Now many in our borough do not feel safe or reassured that their homes will not be sold off to developers and neither do we.

LATE NEWS: We recommend all attending the TMO AGM read this from the Grenfell Action Group and vote to adjourn the meeting for 21 days:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/kctmo-chaos-and-incompetence-still-rule/

Grenfell and why the TMO have to remain in place (for the timebeing anyway)

IMG_0498.JPG

Last week, friends of THINK Gordon Futter and Edward Daffarn voiced their concerns  to RBKC’s Housing and Property scrutiny committee about some at the TMO who may be exempt from prosecution over the Grenfell Tower fire if people vote to scrap the TMO entirely.

Edward Daffarn, as some will know is a Grenfell survivor and a local campaigner with the Grenfell Action Group. His group warned RBKC and the TMO several times of their concerns regarding maintenance and fire safety at Grenfell Tower only to be ignored, dismissed or even treated with outright ridicule.

He told the committee “you let this go on, you let this happen and you did nothing to stop it. You should be ashamed of yourselves”

Then Tory Cllr Sam Mackover, chair of the committee said “This matter will be picked up…” And Edward intervened “by the Police hopefully….”

THINK agree with Gordon and Eddie and urge all TMO resident members who haven’t voted yet to vote NO to resolutions 5 and 6.

We also have deep reservations about what this council plans to do with our social housing. In our next (accompanying) post we mention regeneration and social housing in east London with regards to what we believe this council is likely to do.

We believe that a NO vote is important to also show RBKC that its residents do have a voice and are not afraid to make ourselves heard. They have failed to listen to residents on so many occasions and Grenfell really is a serious consequence of their failure to do so.

We have not seen the legal papers and would not publicly comment on any confidential documents or discussions anyway, but if there are any TMO board members or members of staff implicated in the Grenfell Tower disaster, THINK believe that they should not be allowed to elude the full scrutiny of the inquiry – which scrapping the TMO would mean.

It is important that a full and fair investigation goes ahead. The one thing everyone knows about Grenfell is that at least 80 innocent people needlessly lost their lives in the fire and countless others are now without their homes and possessions. They deserve justice and we demand it.

LATE NEWS: For all attending the TMO AGM : We urge you to vote to adjourn this meeting. This has recently been posted by the Grenfell Action Group :

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/kctmo-chaos-and-incompetence-still-rule/

 

Rock gets the builders in after his house falls into “managed decline”: What will the neighbours say?

IMG_1346.JPG

Other North Kensington locals have pointed out to us that former Deputy Leader of RBKC, former cabinet member for housing, regeneration and property and social cleanser Rock Feilding-Mellen’s house in our area (round the corner from Grenfell), appears to be falling apart. Today we have seen scaffolding on the property and now he’s got the builders in.

We are all too familiar with RBKC and them letting both social housing and commercial properties fall into complete disrepair (especially in North Kensington), so they have an excuse to knock them down and flog them off to developers. We know it as “managed decline”.

THINK is wondering why “Little Lord Rock Weilding-Felon” would allow his home to fall into disrepair.

Is he so used to letting RBKC  properties fall into a state of disrepair that he doesn’t notice his own?  Has he been drilling too many holes in his head? Or has he had too many champagne lunches with his dodgy property PR  pal Peter Bingle?  Or is it as sign that he is about to leave North Kensington for good?

Most of his neighbours, especially those who live in the nearby Lancaster West and Silchester Estates, would very much welcome Rock ‘s departure from our local  area, which he once had the nerve to refer to as a “dump”.

Rock Falling-Masonry? RBKC  is already in a terrible mess and we don’t  have any confidence in them to sort it out as the ruling Tories have left the north of our borough in complete and utter chaos.

This might be a bit  of a situationist prank thing, but some local friends of ours are calling for independence for North Kensington in this  petition:

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-kensington-chelsea-autonomy-for-north-kensington/nftexp/ex5/v4/187413656?recruiter=187413656&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=share_for_starters_page&utm_content=ex5%3Av4

THINK  endorse this petition and would urge all to not take this purely as some kind of joke, especially given the contemptible way the Tories  have treated our community and its’ social  housing  and public assets. The TMO vote is beyond a joke as tenants and leaseholders are being asked to vote for the end of it without there being any  concrete guarantees over our housing. In fact it appears that rather than have learnt any lessons from Grenfell and  the mistake of the TMO, RBKC appear  to be hellbent on now handing over our housing to housing associations without their residents having a say in it.

Many of us in North Kensington are beyond frustrated with this sorry excuse for a council and the way they go from bad to worse. We need to look forward and find a way to take back some powers as those  supposedly entrusted to govern us  just continually let down our community time and time again. Read  about the story of Frestonia here:

http://www.frestonia.org/

Sone may also remember our special post from Earl’s Court in which the Save Earl’s Court Campaigners developed a visionary and fresh alternative to the Earl’s Court Masterplan.

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/

As anyone knows from just looking  a lot of London’s regeneration  plans; many appear to mostly be aimed at lining developers’ and investors’ pockets,  rather than be of any  real benefit to communities.

THINK  are very proud of our diverse, exciting and vibrant community and don’t want to see  the future of it  for our neighbours forced out of the area only for the new developments to sit empty as absentee investmemts and our  small and independent local businesses shutting up shop  as a result and then replaced with countless chain stores and estate agents.

A month ago we did notice  the painters and decorators getting busy at Rock’s place  – maybe just “painting over the cracks”‘?

We do hope his  prospective  buyers get a surveyor’s report – after all we couldn’t get our hand on  one alleging that  Wornington College was “not fit for purpose” – so it isn’t knocked down a replaced with more “luxury flats”.   80% of market rate in this part of London is certainly not “affordable” – yet another  plan Rock had his grubby mitts on.

This is all too ofen the case in social housing in various parts of London. One way that some local  authorities make their case for “regeneration” is  by allowing properties to fall into such a state of disrepair in order to try and justify pulling them down. It is known as “managed decline”. We have to say that although Little Lord Rock Weilding-Felon and  his Rotten Borough chums have presided over the decline of  council owned buildings; it would be a complete first if one of them actually managed the decline of their own home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread the knowledge, save our College!

IMG_1325.JPG

Here is a picture taken outside the Save Wornington College demonstration today. THINKers joined many members of our local North Kensington community outside KCC in Wornington Road today.

We were there to make our voices heard because the KCC board were voting on whether to go ahead with the proposed merger with EHWLC (Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College).

As some will know, many in our community are opposed to this merger as this will more than likely mean the closure of the Wornington Road site and spell the end of further education provided in North Kensington.

Here again, are the demands made to KCC management by the Save Wornington College just in case KCC STILL refuse to listen to us:

– That the “managed decline” of our much-loved College is halted

– That the entire College building remains in educational use

– That the recent reduction in provision and diversity of courses is reversed

– That the recent reductions to teaching and auxiliary staff are reversed

– That the crèche  and other facilities at the Wornington Road site are protected

-That there is no merger with West London College

Got that,  KCC management? Our community College is not an “asset” that you can flog off to make money from by turning into more unaffordable flats.

We at THINK stand with our friends in the Save Wornington College campaign and the Grenfell Action Group and say that the life chances and opportunities provided at Wornington College are, for many in our area, absolutely priceless.

We will leave you with our live Tweet outside the demonstration, which although was entirely peaceful, rattled some at KCC management enough to call the Police.

THINK are very grateful to all in North Kensington and beyond who turned up to support our College and say to KCC management that our educational needs should come before your greed.

Our local MP, Emma Dent Coad speaks up for our local community college

 

IMG_1306

As long-term readers of our blog will know, THINK are big supporters of Wornington College and also our local Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad.

We are pleased that Emma has written an open letter to the KCC board of governors expressing her concern about the proposed merger with Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.

Emma is a long term resident of North Kensington and she recognises the need to keep this wonderful College in our North Kensington community.

We urge all who care about further education in the community to join our demo at 4:30pm today outside KCC in Wornington Road, W10. Here is Emma’s letter:

9 October 2017
To the Board of Governors
Kensington and Chelsea College of Further Education
Wornington Road
London W10 5QQ

Dear Governor

I am writing in my capacity as Councillor of Golborne Ward since 2006, and now also as MP for Kensington, to ask you to reflect seriously upon the decisions you are expected to make shortly.

You will be aware of the huge concern about the future of the college, not only among immediately local residents, but also among the many community groups and services whose users rely upon the College. Most people in the area have either attended the College, or know someone who has. The benefit to local people, those who have been failed in the school system, those who wish to improve job prospects by learning new skills and languages, who wish to return to education later in life, and to improve their earning potential, is frankly immeasurable.

The purchase and future planning of the College has taken place under total secrecy, with no consultation whatever with local Councillors – let alone the community. So it can be no surprise that the community has combined to resist this proposed merger. Some have even questioned the legality of the Council spending £25m of Council Taxpayers’ money with no consultation. Given also the rapid changes in senior management, and rumours circulating around this, you must understand that there is no trust whatever in the process you are currently engaged in.

The Q&A on your website states: ‘We are here for the long term to serve the community, but the current funding regime means we do need to make difficult choices and we would like you to be involved as we do that. For too long, we have not been listening but there is a real opportunity for us all to engage in a constructive dialogue about our future.’

To put it bluntly, you are stating that all decisions have already been made and that you wish to ‘engage in a constructive dialogue’ based on that premise. This is totally unacceptable.

In our post-Grenfell times, we need to build trust and keep all our local services. The long-term future and expansion of the College has never been more important. I am therefore asking you to stop the merger decision-making process now, to allow genuine dialogue in a spirit of co-partnership with the local community which you serve. This would give us all the opportunity to consider alternative funding methods and future planning, and would give the community time to engage with the Council to discuss its pledge to work together.

Very sincerely

Emma Dent Coad
MP for Kensington
Cc Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader, RBKC Council

Save Wornington College campaign – an open letter

IMG_1304

Below is an open letter from the Save Wornington College campaign against the proposed merger with Ealing , Hammersmith and West London College. Wornington College has been and is very much part of our community. The proposed merger would likely lead to it being closed and sold off and there being no further education facilities left in our area.

Stand  with Save Wornington College, Grenfell Action Group and THINK and let’s keep this wonderful  college that has been part of so many people’s lives in this community over so many years. here to bring positive opportunities for generations in the future and say no to the merger.  Join our demo outside the KCC building in Wornington Road, W10 at 4:30pm if you can and let’s support keeping  our local College here in the North Kensington community.

Here is the open letter from the Save Wornington College campaign:
Open Letter to the Chair and Governors of Kensington and Chelsea College, the Chair and Governors of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College and Deputy Leader RBKC

At the public consultation meeting on 26th September the views of the community were clearly stated. Over 250 people made it clear that they do not want the proposed merger with Ealing Hammersmith and West London College (EHWLC) to go ahead. The community want to keep the north Kensington college where it is, not in a RBKC new development, but in a renovated Wornington Road building, where there has been educational provision for over 100 years.

The consultation has not been meaningful or thorough and there has been a lack of transparency throughout the process. The online survey appeared late on the college website and the questions posed presuppose its outcome – namely that the merger is going ahead. Two public meetings showing the strength of community feeling have been met with a lack of response.

The Chair of the KCC Board likes to reiterate that merger with EHWLC is the only way for KCC to survive. But there are other ways to save the college from the effects of years of managed decline of the college and failure to maintain the fabric of the Wornington road site. Now is the time for the council and the corporation to think creatively and imaginatively about other options that could lead to the recreation of a vibrant community college, a hub for adult and further education in partnership with community organisations, for the people of North Kensington.

The future of Kensington and Chelsea College can no longer be considered in isolation. It is part of the same policy and ideology which has seen other public assets in RBKC mismanaged, then disposed of and – in June – tragedy rip through our community.

Now is the time to listen to us. Our opposition to your plans for KCC grows stronger and will continue to do so until we are heard. There are alternative ways to save our college. We call upon the leadership of KCC and EHWL colleges to pull out of this merger.

This community demands to be heard. We will not tolerate any further threats to our community assets. We urge you to work with us not against us – with community involvement at all stages to rebuild the college at Wornington Road.

We appeal to each member of the Governing Board to examine your conscience, become fully informed about the consequences of this merger with EHWLC and act to put a stop to it by voting against the merger and the dissolution of KCC.

Save Wornington College Campaign

Marianne Alapini – the vulture returns – to a new low at Grenfell

IMG_1302

You may have heard of Marianne Alapini, she is an ex-Labour councillor for RBKC in Colville Ward who quit when she was under investigation for allegedly misappropriating public funds. Now out of power and out of the Labour Party, she pretends to work for charity and has recently sunk to a new low.

We were already concerned with Ms Alapini and her dodgy past and when she had started to hold unofficial Grenfell meetings and ask for money, we became more than suspicious.

As said before, we saw her as an egotistical individual with little to no compassion for others – so now she is with “Grenfell Befrienders”  – we couldn’t think of less appealing persons that we would want to “befriend” and she  has also had her photo taken with Adele and survivors.

But just before anyone ever imagines this despicable individual has changed, let THINK direct you to under the Westway, just outside the Maxilla Club in North Kensington.

The outstanding work outside there has been solely down to hard-working volunteers and members of this community who started the Phoenix Project.

But what has Ms Alapini done? Nothing – except put in a dodgy claim form for £35,000 for all the supposed “hard graft” she and her supposed helpers did to make this happen. Unsurprisingly, nobody involved with this made a penny!

As it is we have spoken to many of the volunteers and workers and they have all stated that she has nothing to do with them or the  Phoenix Project. We suggest that anyone who wants to donate gives to these wonderful and dedicated volunteers who have created a beaufiful space, Library and garden under the Westway.

By the way, “Vulture” Alapini has also had the nerve to call her  “charity” “Phoenix Rising” which will obviously take money and donations intended for  the Phoenix Project who genuinely help those in need; she has also lied on the form about who her “charity” helpers are and has had the nerve to even include the vicar of St Helen’s Church!

We believe it is about time that Marianne Alapini and her supposed charity work came under the scrutiny of the fraud squad.

Here below is a recent picture of her – we recommend that you phone the Police (guess what, this egotistical poser for some reason won’t let people copy her pictures!)

Kenyan jewels? Nairobbery