But not all residents with something to say on the plans may be necessarily able to do so. Early this morning, we received an email from “Mr A” , a local resident We think both RBKC and Catalyst Housing could do with reading his points on how they are leaving out residents whose first language isn’t English and also poorer and older residents who aren’t used to using the RBKC website or aren’t able to, out of what are supposed to be fair consultation processes.
The Council website does have a link for residents to refer others who cannot access documents and forms etc online, but this is not good enough. Reasons why THINKers never do this is because we know that some residents would feel thst referring them would be a breach of their privacy, we also wouldn’t feel too good about potentially bombarding others with countless council papers, forms and and documents through doors, and importantly, we feel that residents should allhave the opportunity decide for themselves whether they want to take part and respond or not.
Mr A makes good points about making documents for Planning Applications as well as consultations and surveys easily available at RBKC Libraries on paper. He also has some suggestions for posters and leaflets of consultations and surveys being made much more visible in the community.
So here is what Mr A had to say below (the only edits we made were on spelling and punctuation and to remove his personal details) as we again remind RBKC that they are supposed to be a “listening council”……..
Thank you for blogging about the many problems and issues with consultations and surveys . I’m emailing you to talk further on these and ask if you would please publish in your blog as I don’t think RBKC or Catalyst understands.
Planning documents are hard to understand for most people without a certain level of expertise They take a lot of time to go through when you are not familiar with the terms they use, with looking at stuff that architects and planners and council officials have prepared, it looks like they are talking to themselves. I agree wholeheartedly with what your blog said and have a few other points.
Now imagine how difficult understanding documents, forms and processes can be when your first language isn’t English. I myself speak three languages – English, Farsi and Arabic and so do my family. While my parents can speak English well as they have lived here for many years, understanding complicated documents in official WRITTEN English is a struggle for them.
I’d like to know why the council doesn’t bother to make these documents more accessible for speakers of other languages? Nearly a quarter of residents in Golborne are speakers of other languages. I got that info from the council website, so they know about this but don’t make any changes.
They do all these surveys and consultations which are all in English. Nothing in the languages that other residents speak They know which languages residents speak but do not translate anything. Not helpful.
I would also like to know why they don’t have anything available like forms and documents in the libraries. Maybe they do, but it’s not signposted for anyone to find. I think It would help if posters and leaflets for these consultations and surveys were up around the Town Hall and maybe other spaces like Kensington Leisure Centre, on estate noticeboards and maybe in GPs surgery waiting rooms. They are leaving a lot of older and poor residents out of the process if people can’t always see what is happening and when.
Not everyone is good with computers and some poor residents don’t have WiFi and have to use prepay on their smart phones or go and use computers elsewhere to access things.
I’m not talking only about planning documents but about their general surveys on things like housing and community safety. These are important to all of us, but these are excluding a lot of people from taking part by not including languages other than English and by not putting them up in public places other than twitter facebook or the council website.
Your blog mentioned the RBKC magazines before. I agree. They are a waste of paper and money and go in the bin because they look like adverts for the council. People just want to know if something important is happening in their community and they get put off if RBKC covers it with adverts, spam and junk mail.
I just want to say how disappointed I am by Catalyst. My parents are residents living locally to Wornington Green and they were denied the chance to meet Catalyst face to face and ask about their plans and missed the online meetings because they had no idea these were going on and wouldn’t know how to access them if they did.
Too many things go on without everyone having a fair chance to have a say.
The 15 storey tower block in our picture is part of what Catalyst Housing hopes to build as part of Phase 3 of the Wornington Green regeneration. The huge out of place block is far from the only controversial thing about this Planning Appkicstion for this final phase of the regeneration; Catalyst plans to open up these roads to traffic are is huge concerns locally to residents concerned about both road safety and the environment. The whole scheme has not only caused upset and worry within the immediate North Kensington community, but around London and the UK. Also, both the regeneration, loss of pollution absorbing trees and the conduct of Catalyst Housing have been heavily criticised by not just the local Golborne Ward Labour councillors, but also by councillors across the borough on all political sides. It’s fair to say , the whole regeneration masterplan, given the general “green light” by the RBKC Planning Committee 12 years ago would be highly unlikely to be approved now.
For further background on the scheme and why it is so contentious, see the Wornington Trees website (which also features some of our previous blogs) here: https://www.worningtontrees.com/
Phase 3 is to be the final phase in this highly controversial Catalyst regeneration of the Wornington Green Estate into “Portobello Square” and behind the scenes, there has been much manoeuvring from Catalyst, and some changes have been made. In order for this phase to go ahead, will require the approval of the RBKC Planning Committee, and is supposed to go there this coming Summer.
The deadline to object or support is nearly up. Residents have only TWO DAYS left (Friday the 28th of January) to do this, and they can do so here:
Recently both the Wornington Trees and the Better Streets 4 KC campaigners produced this leaflet highlighting issues with this phase of the scheme:
But there have been a few barriers to residents trying to respond to the controversial Planning Application. We’re just going to highlight these here:
– Recently residents who tried to go on to the RBKC website to register their objections found the website to not be working . (We understand the technical problems have since been fixed, but this is unacceptable.)
– Catalyst Housng dragged their feet over meetings.with residents, and instead of having several meetings in the community with residents face to face, opted instead to have two webinars, and this was only last week.
– Also the list of documents produced is very large and they take considerable time to download – let alone read through properly ((it took us a few hours to just downloads them all and a hell of a lot longer to get through and read) – and this has been an issue for residents taking part.
But worst of all, all the documents for this Planning Application weren’t publicly available until fairly recently.
– While both RBKC and Catalyst Housing say that comments to the Planning Application will be accepted after the deadline, what they conveniently “forget” to mention is that these will be treated differently from objections
– This month has been an extremely busy time for many residents who are highly involved with community activity. After the Christmas break is when everything gets going again and things can get very hectic. . Numerous residents meetings, community meetings, plus Kensington Town Hall becomes extremely busy again (On Monday there was the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, tonight it was the Full Council meeting , there Health and Wellbeing Board is tomorrow and there is a meeting of the Housing and Communities Select Committee next week just for example)
So it is highly unrealistic to put it mildly , to expect residents to be able to download and fully go through well over 200+ documents to get the full information in such a very short time and register either objections (or indeed support) for theApplication by Friday.
And what happens if not enough residents are able to object? This huge Planning Application, which is life changing and potentially very destructive to the North Kensington community, (especially for those living around Wornington Green, and the top end of Portobello Road), might even bypass the Committee, and wouldn’t getthe proper full Scrutiny that it should do and would possibly get approvedautomatically
As said, comments are not treated the same way, so we do urge everyone who is concerned by this scheme to have their say before it is too late.
By the way, Catalyst Housing, we see you – and exactly what you are up to: Your avoidant behaviour towards the residents and campaigners and your poor communication and reluctance to share information at an earlier time, shows both contempt for them and contempt for local democracy as a whole and shows you do not believe in a fair and open planning process.
We ask that RBKCdo not follow the disgraceful behaviour of Catalyst and give residents a fair say on this Application, and the only way to do this is do extend the deadline of this for 1 month, in order that everyone can have a fair say. That, given the problems we have mentioned above, is the only right and fair thing to do.
We are sending this blog post to RBKC Lead Member for Planning, Placeandthe Environment, CllrJohnny Thalassites – and keeping our fingers crossed for a reasonable response…..
Pictured above, is a sepia-tinted picture of the former Edenham Care Home in North Kensington. This blog has briefly written about Thamesbrook and Edenham care homes in November. The closures of these last remaining RBKC Council care homes occurred long before our blog, but for those who haven’t read the post, here it is again:
There has been no replacement for both of these homes and we have a severe shortage of supported council housing for elderly residents in this borough. So what is RBKC doing about it?
THINK has heard on the grapevine, that RBKC is planning to finally redevelop the site in Lots Road, Chelsea. They had initially said it would be replacement housing for Thamesbrook when that was closed, but we have heard the homes will apparently be independent living homes for elderly residents rather than care homes or supported housng.
However, the new council housing proposals from RBKC that are public only show housing for people with general needs (a very tiny exception would be one – just one – wheelchair accessible home, included in the proposals for the new council homes at Silchester Arches), so we’re beginning to think even that is sounding rather optimistic and we fear that social housing residents who are elderly and vulnerable will yet again be completely forgotten about when what RBKC has in store for Lots Road is finally revealed.
What a shame that RBKC does not appear to have recognised that they ought to be looking into their provision of housing to meet our senior residents’ needs. Maybe they just don’t care? Well we think they really should. Here, below is some recent very heartbreaking news about one older resident, posted by the Trellick Tower and Edenham Way Twitter account that we have highlighted for our top councillors and suits to read:
“On Monday a 80 + gentleman was taken by the morgue van after 8 police took 1/2 an hour to break into his home. He had probably been there weeks This would not have happened if RBKC had not knocked down our care home. These flats were connected to it. Someone would have known
The repair van to secure the flat came faster than the private ambulance. We all thought he was still in hospital as he’d been taken in for falls just before Christmas. no one knew he was discharged and in the block. He died alone and forgotten in his house for weeks.”
We are almost lost for words. Almost.
We know that RBKC Deputy Leader, and Lead Member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment, Kim Taylor-Smith reads our blog, and so does RBKC Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Cem Kemahli – and we’d like to know what they and their colleagues propose to do about the absence of council care homes and the severe shortage of supported social housing in the borough, and the effect on the wellbeing of residents. This is relevant to residents of all ages; after all, more and more of us are living longer..
Let’s hope this jogs their consciences; if they have consciences. We don’t think the councillors and suits who decided to close Edenham and Thamesbrook and did not bother to provide replacement like-for-like accommodation in the borough – had consciences. By the way, just because those decisions were taken long before THINK started and some of them are no longer at the Council; that doesn’t mean those responsible have escaped the attentions of this blog. We will be naming and shaming…..
For now, our thoughts at this time are with the deceased resident and with his family, friends and neighbours. We doubt this gentleman was the first resident to die in such tragic circumstances and sadly, we doubt he will be the last.
THINK are very sad to report the recent passing last month of our friend Francis O’Connor. Francis was part of the Grenfell Action Group and the writer of so much of their work.
Here are some words from Tia, Editor and founder of THINK, plus we have put links to some of our favourite GAG blogs at the end so others can read and appreciate some of Francis’ finest work.
“Some terms like “influencer”, “speaker of truth to power ” and “groundbreaking” are far too often over-used, but these are entirely right to use about of Francis O’Connor; his extensive volume of work , the outstanding contribution he has made to this community and his work with many others, and of course, his legacy – such as blogs like this one – which carry the obvious influence of his writing.
The Grenfell Action Group blog began in 2012. Both highly articulate, intelligent residents with a wealth of knowledge about our community and the many issues facing us, Francis O’Connor and Eddie Daffarn were something of a “dream team” – Francis with his brilliant on-point heartfelt writing and research skills and Eddie with his energetic, tireless and thoughtful campaigning skills and networking with others. Together, their activism and work and, long after Francis had moved away, were a continuing, much felt and much-needed presence for years afterwards and their work still stands up today.
It wasn’t just the GAG blog where Francis made an impact He had been a resident of Verity Close, North Kensington for many years, and a key figure on the Lancaster West Estate management board (EMB) where he was a strong resident campaigner who fought passionately for positive social change in and around there and the surrounding neighbourhood. There are still many residents of Lancaster West Estate who fondly remember Francis and all the work he did for the Estate and community there today
After his health worsened, and suffering from so much noise and disturbance from the KALC project (GAG was originally set up to oppose this) and deeply worried about what the Council was doing to the local area and where this would leave the locality in the future, Francis moved back to Ireland in 2013. This picture is taken from back then:
Francis continued to write blogs and correspond with people here for years after his move and even from so far away, he was still with North Kensington, still a powerful voice and still a force to be reckoned with.
The first time I met Francis was in early 2017 when he visited North Kensington when Eddie (who I had known for a few months then) introduced him to me. We immediately connected on many levels and talked about the impending (and now thankfully abandoned) Silchester regeneration, and further threats to our neighbourhood and residents at the hands of RBKC and the Government Our chat went long into the evening and I knew I had made a friend for life.
I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for Francis and his writing , his outstanding research, his sparky sense of humour, his deep interest in others, and enthusiasm for North Kensington, many other communities and strong sense of recognition of the numerous injustices that have blighted residents, there would be no THINK. This blog will be forever thankful to both Francis and Eddie for their work
In May 2017, when I started the THINK blog, and both Eddie and Francis continued to give me advice and insight – it’s fair to say that I didn’t at the beginning, really quite know what I was doing or entirely understand the full implications of what I was getting into! But the help and advice and encouragement – especially the writing advice from Francis – helped me take what was intended to be a small “North Kensington community campaigners noticeboard” blog to another level and make it what it is now.
Aftet the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity , an avalanche of media descended upon our community, and many who had not known North Kensington, not been familiar the work of GAG, began to sit up pay attention and take notice of the issues and problems that had faced North Kensington for years before. While many rightly recognised Eddie Daffarn and his work, they wrongly ignored Francis and his contribution. This blog hopes that they will see this and give Francis the credit and recognition he deserves- it is way overdue.
The last time Francis and I spoke he talked about missing North Kensington, the area, the community and his friends here and expressed a wish to come back and live here Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and on the 17th of December, after being in poor health for several years; he sadly passed away.
Francis O’Connor and his work leave a long lasting legacy, not just in North Kensington, but far and wide beyond here. Also as well as inspiring myself and a whole host of other writers, bloggers, and campaigners; the work of Grenfell Action Group has served to improve the standard of local news reporting, as they, together with From The Hornets Nest, became the real go-to sources for local news; what really goes on, rather than most of the then “local rags” which were more concerned with giving space and PR to top RBKC politicians who already had platforms, and to publishing Court Circulars from Kensington Palace than they were with reporting on the important issues that mattered most to locals. These blogs and their authors – and Francis particularly – were and are, game changers, as even shortly before Grenfell, several of the official local news reporting sources, seeing the better quality of news and writing in these blogs,+ started “upping their game” and improving.
In fact Francis O’Connor and some essential information he managed to get from RBKC (whch they had attempted to hide from residents) were exclusive scoops worthy of national news long before the fire; the secret social cleansing regeneration of Notting Dale plans and the asset stripping workings behind the scenes are just a couple of examples of these.
Francis has been taken from us far too soon, but his work and his influence and impact on the worlds of journalism, blogging and community campaigning will live on forever . May be rest in peace and always be rightfully remembered.
Here are some words from others:
Lancaster West Residents Association “Francis was always a great friend of Lancaster West both when he was a resident here and even after he moved away to Ireland. A born fighter he spent his time looking to push back against the gentrification of the area, the Council’s plans to redevelop it for profit and move most of their social tenants out of the area.
As co-founder of the Grenfell Action Group along with Ed Daffarn they campaigned to fight the injustices he saw both to his neighbours and the whole of Notting Dale. He worked ceaselessly with limited resources and access, through research and F.o.I. requests to bring to light uncomfortable facts and plans such as the 2009 Notting Barns South Masterplan report, forced from a reluctant council after he complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which detailed the total regeneration of the area, replacing social housing with mostly private housing to ‘improve quality’.
GAG campaigned against the sitting of the Kensington Aldridge Academy and Leisure Centre which took much loved sports fields and land away from the estate and started the cycle of construction and redevelopment which has blighted the estate for years. They fought so hard against the disastrous refurbishment of the Tower, the power surges, the broken emergency light system, the missing fire equipment, and the Fire safety breaches stretching back years. They formed valuable connections with other groups campaigning for better social housing, such as the Radical housing Network and inspired so many local campaigns and blogs. Providing the ammunition they needed and always backed by meticulous research.
It is sad that he never received the recognition that he should have done after the fire even though he continued to try to keep the blog active and relevant on his own. Most recently championing the work of Anna Stec to investigate the contamination left on the estate. Francis could be awkward and difficult, but they were qualities he needed in all the battles he fought. His own health was damaged after he was given contaminated blood products in hospital, part of a huge scandal and maybe his quest for justice started with his battles for compensation there. His death will leave the whole area poorer and without someone to fight against the corporate interests threatening to destroy a whole community.”
Save Earl’s Court Supporters Club
“Francis O’Connor’s fearlessness and commitment to ensure that what was happening to his community could not be ignored, hidden or misrepresented gave a voice to the voiceless and has left an enduring legacy.”
Judith Blakeman, RBKC Labour councillor for Notting Dale Ward
“I first met Francis when came to our councillors’ surgery in the 1980s. I had no notebook or pen with me and nor did he, so he was very surprised that I was able to recite back to him both his address and the concerns that he wished me to raise.
I knew him over many years thereafter, for good reasons and bad – but mainly good. He was very protective of his local community in all its diversity and his work for the Grenfell Action Group was very much appreciated by his neighbours. He was indeed a fearless champion for them and someone who refused to accept the many anodyne views of our Conservative council.”
Pat Mason, RBKC Labour councillor for Golborne Ward
“I’m sorry Francis could not have lived long enough to see those who caused the Grenfell Tower Fire atrocity that killed 72 North Kensington residents brought to justice. He was attacked and vilified by RBKC and the TMO for predicting what became the deadly truth about the botched refurbishment. May he rest in peace.”
Linda Wade, RBKC Lib Dem councillor for Earl’s Court Ward
“He was an outspoken and articulate campaigner who spoke from the heart and with conviction.”
The task of picking a few favourite Grenfell Action Group blog posts wasn’t easy as there are so many! But here are several favourites in chronological order and are essential reading both for anyone who would like to read Francis’ work, on the blog and for a real, no-holds barred detailed look into the background behind Grenfell, North Kensington and RBKC :
Here in North Kensington, we’re proud of a lot of things about our wonderful interesting vibrant area and its rich sense of history and culture – put it this way, life is never dull around here – but it’s the people who truly make this area special.
Just in case certain persons misunderstand us, we’ll just clarify further; it’s the local community that makes North Kensington special. That is this friendly, caring, diverse, multicultural, and very close knit community, the community that has always been here for each other and always will; the community that has always stepped in, taken the initiative and moved forward positively and productively when others in charge have failed us.
So to clear up any confusion, and indeed delusions, that certain persons who run RBKC may have and their claims to represent people here when actually they know little to nothing of the area and locals, the fact that this area and community is so wonderful is in spite of RBKC andcertainly not because of them.
This blog has had quite a long Christmas break so we’ll wish everyone a belated happy New Year and hope that many of you did enjoy Christmas.. But sadly we know that this was a very difficult time for many of the most vulnerable, including several North Kensington residents. Some have been suffering from long term financial hardship, others have been hit financially hard recently, some have been affected by Covid-19 , many are still affected by Grenfell, the mental health and wellbeing of our residents is a huge concern here. The poorest are facing unoprecented hardship with rampant inflation, Covid financial losses ,Brexit, job insecurity, business insecurity, ever rising rents service charges and council tax, plus the benefit cuts; it’s fair to say things do feel rather bleak for several residents right now – tough times indeed.
Fortunately, this community has numerous incredible resourceful hardworking local people and organisations who have put in tons of effort to help the less fortunate in North Kensington so first we will mention a couple of the “good eggs”:
Some of our readers will have heard of The SPACE, a community-led hub based at Freston Road, North Kensington, but here is our blog post from last April about them again, so others can read about their outstanding work in this community, but also the disgraceful ways in which the Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have treated this incredible initiative and the brilliant community volunteers there previously :
In the run-up to Christmas, The SPACE organised donations and distribution drives, notably this huge food one below, and we heard from many thankful vulnerable residents who received food from The SPACE on Christmas Eve delivered to their door too. Maybe not everyone believes in Santa Claus, but the spirit of Christmas, of giving and helping the less fortunate, is very real here.
As well as providing much-needed help, support, advice and donations to residents, The SPACE has also been recently setting up in neighbouring LBHF and Brent – these Councils obviously appreciate the outstanding work that volunteers there do and the help The SPACE provides. And while not everyone at RBKC fails to recognise, appreciate or support their work of course; this is a growing community hub, times are tough, and this is when RBKC should be supporting The SPACE more and providing them with extra funds and resources.
Another brilliant community-led organisation, North Kensington Community Kitchen has also been providing food and donations to help residents in this community, including this recent event:
But what has the Royal or rather Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelaea been doing to help some may ask? Er? How about apparently offering to donate North Kensington Community Kitchen someeggs?
Before some RBKC Leadership Members assume we are naive and/or stupid, and jump in and ask us where the funds are meant to come from, there is an answer to that – over a million every year spent on a “Community Leadership Programme ” and £100K on Council rag (we already have 3 other RBKC magazines) “North Ken News”. Also before some of RBKC’s over-enthiusiastic PR Team – whose budget has increased by over 400% since Grenfell – jump in and mention the Council’s Covid-19 hub; we’ll just mention that it is no longer running to the extent it was during lockdown, that a great deal of the work for organising the donations for it was done by Colville Labour councillors – Ian Henderson, Nadia Nail and Monica Press, that RBKC Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell only turned up to the donations centre when the cameras did, and that she and some of her colleagues, put more effort into publicising a Labour disagreement that ensued after a media appearance for the Hub than they did into ensuring that as many of our most vulnerable residents as possible were being helped by it. If they did, we wouldn’t have heard about situations where there were elderly, ill and disabled residents – some in their 80s and 90s – left dependent on their neighbours for food and essentials because no help came from RBKC at all ; utterly disgraceful.
It is an appalling state of affairs that we have some in the Council Leadership still in their positions today who back then seemed more concerned with publicising internal disagreements in the Labour opposition ( out of 50 mostly Consetvative councillors there are only 13 Labour councillors at RBKC by the way) rather than making sure vulnerable people were not struggling and forgotten about (such situations and the unnecessary stress that these residents went through could have been avoided if RBKC had simply bothered to check since they already had the information).
The Covid-19 Hub was a very good Council initiative but clearly there was some failure on the part of RBKC over this. Also at the same time, supplies at some of our local foodbanks, ran very low and again, it was members of the community who came to the rescue.
Talking of stress and anguish, it is over four and a half years since Grenfell, our community is still highly traumatised, and RBKC essentially has thrown a large part of around £50 million Grenfell Recovery money down the drain, abandoned The Curve, and now what little we have left of it for The Curve Legacy Fund – is a mere £1.3 million – which is less than what RBKC spends on PR, so their claims of “Grenfell is our number one priority” definitely do not ring true.
One might have thought their numerous mistakes might have resulted in (hard and costly) lessons learned but no, they never learn, and yet again, the poorest and most vulnerable in the borough , particularly in and around North Kensington, are the people paying the price for their mistakes. It speaks volumes if all RBKC can seemingly be bothered to do to support North Kensington Community Kitchen is to offer them a few eggs(?!)
We’d like to know why RBKC seriously thinks that spending over £1 million on a “Community Leadership Programme” is really such a good idea. It doesn’t make much sense for most people who are part of this community or are least familiar with us, especially when we already have plenty of highly skilled and motivated residents and community organisations like the ones mentioned here plus many others, in place already and the people at these organisations with the knowledge, skills and experience are passing this on to others. Surely that money could be better put to use supporting these community-led organisations instead?
This Council’s hard boiled attitude towards us and their cracked – and frankly warped – sense of priorities is what is really the biggest problem here, and what sadly is also the problem- is the same people remaining in charge of all this. It is all “egg on the face” of a Rotten Borough that is long past its sell by date. The contemptuous treatment of our residents and community leaves a nasty sulphuric stench that not only lingers in the air around Hornton Street, but doesn’t go unnoticed far beyond there. The obvious individuals in charge of this Council, the people responsible for the arrogance, incompetence and mistakes, seem to not realise that relying on the loyalty of their friends in Government and on voters putting all their eggs in the Conservative “basket” to keep them in power won’t last forever, especially when some appear to be cracking on to what a mess this Council has made here. It might be too late for some of the RBKC Leadership to realise they you cannot and should not ever be dependent on the political status quo for everything – times change, priorities change, Governments change, people come and go – and yesterday’s eggshells end up in the compost; but most residents around here knew this already and they have long known this for years. Contrary to what some at RBKC may think, most lives in North Ken do not revolve around Kensington Town Hall or sitting here waiting for non-existent Council help to come; our thoughtful hard working residents instead roll their sleeves up and get on with helping and supporting each other – they have done so long ago and still continue to do so today, regardless of who is in charge and the political climate.
One question left – after the obvious questions of “how many more mistakes?” “how long is our community supposed to suffer from such Council incompetence?” And “why do we have to keep stating the obvious to them?” – is how long is it before the careers of Dizzy Lizzy Campbell and Mary “Wheelie Bin” Weale (who is in charge of holding the Rotten Borough purse strings) end up in the compost bin? We say that in the best interests of damage limitation for everyone, it should be sooner rather than later…..
As for the eggs, yes of course Council donations are welcome, but what would truly be welcome would he for this Council to stop treating this community as if we are inferior to them, to start listening to the people and organisations here that do genuinely make a positive difference to people’s lives, and to make a long-term proper commitment to lasting financial support for theseorganisations.
.Just because a project, event or group is the concept and work of residents and not RBKC, that should not render it as unimportant in the eyes of Council officials – in fact most local residents we know, regardless of whether they have been subject to negative experiences at the hands of RBKC or not, prefer to reach out to their peers in this community when they need help and support. The Council doesn’t like hearing it; but that’s the truth, and they certainly could do with listening to some home truths
The key to to this community is this community. That ought to be simple enough for most people to to understand and it’s deeply frustrating that ourselves as well as countless other residents still today, keep having to point this out – RBKC still doesn’t quite get it.
We say that is time for RBKC to stop the top down “we know best not you” failed-and-still-failing approach , and to finally recognise that the future of North Kensington is resident-led.
We know that most of our readers (unlike some at RBKC) do understand and do care deeply about our community and the wellbeing of locals and like us, wish to see these wonderful community-led organisations continue their great work. So here are some links for those who those are able to help out or donate – or if not, please do share to others who can, and, also to share with anyone who may require their help and services– sharing iscaring ❤💛💚
Pictured above as “”Wombles” Madame Cholet and Bungo, are Catherine “Lady False” Faulks, RBKC Lead Member for Economy, Employment and Innovstion – and on the right, David Fletcher, businessman (more about him in a bit) .
We’re very sorry for ruining childhood memories of some of our readers for picturing these two as Wombles, but this got stuck in our heads with the title:
But that’s enough of that… About all that Faulks and Fletcher really have in common with Wombles is that they too are rather odd creatures.
If anyone hasn’t heard of David Fletcher before they will have now. Mr Fletcher is a successful businessman from Wimbledon who runs “Wimbletech” CIC and is behind “The Workary” – a chain of shared workspace hubs. The Workary are based in several locations both in and just outside greater London, including Kensington, Chelsea and Brompton locally. What is worrying, is that our Council appear to be giving Mr Fletcher and his organisation spacial privileges to use sone of our Council premises free of rates at the expense of others, and what is also concerning, is that they appear to be in the act of hiding this from the public. Furthermore, we have reason to believe RBKC’s rather cosy relationship with Mr Fletcher poses a threat to the future of our public Libraries. We also have some further information on Libaries and private interests, that will be alarming to many…
“Dame, thank you for allowing me to put my position. I thank ‘Surveyor’ for his lucid analysis of how Council favouritism has more or less put me out of business.
Cllr Faulks makes this claim, “We are here to help support our businesses and self-employed during this unprecedented time”
That claim rings hollow.
Cllr Faulks was persuaded by this successful entrepreneur, David Fletcher, to use council properties free of Business Rates and at below-market rents. He is a lucky man…..
On the other hand, the Council expects me to run a competitive business whilst paying £25,000 a year in Business Rates and a full market rent for a prime location. Even though I charge very little I am unable to compete with the Council’s business partner, The Workary.
As a result twenty-five of my long term co-working tenants have had to leave. One asked Faulks what he should do… she recommended another co-working office!
Her other bizarre advice was that I should adjust my rates to compete with the Workary…and she is supposed to understand business?
Here is what “Surveyor” , the respondent to the blog, wrote back:
“I wonder if it would help to look at this dispassionately and to try to look at the numbers, so far as they are available.
To make a rationally based judgement, we really need some more numbers (like what rent Workary are paying the Council) Perhaps the Dame could ask Councillor Lady Faulks to respond with a reasoned and factual response? The facts so far as we know them. Mr Downs is saddled with non-domestic rates of about £25,000 a year.
A hefty burden for a small business.
The Chelsea Library Complex is rated at £120,000.
It is many times the size of Mr Downs’ small office of about 120 square metres, but benefits from a favourable treatment as a public library.
So, it pays non-domestic rates of about £60,000 a year.
Less than two and a half times the rates that Mr Downes pays for a building many, many times larger.
It would appear that the Workary is not paying rates at all.
Why is this? It is because public libraries benefit from a special rating concession. The Council seems to have passed this benefit on to the Workary.
If anyone wants to look this up, see the Rating Manual for Valuation Officers Section 6 Part 3, Section 620.
This concession has caused problems when a local authority, for example, delegates the Library function.
In this case, the Serviced Office provided by Workary, should have been assessed by the Valuation Officer as a separate hereditament and as a commercial enterprise.
You would have expected the Council to inform the Valuation Officer of the situation and to arrange for a separate entry to go into the List.
If this has not been done, it should be corrected as soon as possible, and back rates paid either by the Council or the Workary Business.
I am not sure what happens at Workary’s other branches, but the situation is likely to be the same. So, what about the Workary and why is the Council giving them what appears to be such a ‘sweetheart’ deal, that is putting the competition out of business?
The pitch is that it is offering space to young entrepreneurs starting out in life and to not-for-profit organisations.
This is a fiction.
The Workary is a highly successful large business established by David Fletcher some few years ago.
It has numerous branches and is far from the ‘pitch’ for if you look at its website it boasts that its services are available to people who are part of big companies, freelancers or just getting started (comes last in the blurb!)
So, it looks as if the Council are living in a parallel universe and totally unwilling to accept that it is subsidising a commercial business that is putting its own local businesses out of business. This is what appears to be the position, but please Dame, ask Councillor Lady Faulks to respond.”
On a website, called “Stop the Privatisation of our Libraries”, THINKers found this:
David Fletcher, the founder of Wimbletech CIC, was on radio recently talking about why libraries matter. Wimbletech, based in Wimbledon Library, and their library spin-off ‘The Workary’ rent out desk space to entrepreneurs. They claim that they want to work with local councils to transform “under-utilized library space” and to “help libraries increase revenues, footfall, awareness & relevance” They are at this very moment sniffing around the burning embers of a once proud Barnet library service, so just another SocEnt cashing in on the crisis facing public libraries?For arguments against renting out once public library space to entrepreneurs read me and others in a recent Bookseller article re Forest Hill Community Library which by the way is leased and co-run by V22, an offshore arts org!
Wimbledon? Lewisham? Public subsidy misused? Wealthy businesspersons with offshore tax havens? Taking over public libraries?
While we are not suggesting that Mr Fletcher’s chain is part of V22 Collection at all – the Privatisation of our public libraries and the funnelling of public money from local authorities into successful private firms is highly concerning to say the least. We’ll just highlight some further reasons for our concern:
We looked into V22 who appear to be based in Lewisham (so some of us may wonder if our Chief Exec and former Lewisham Chief Exec Dr Barry Quirk knows of them):
But rather than Lewisham or Wimbledon, V22 appears to be registered in the Isle of Man .
In fact, the interests and activities of V22 CEO, Tara Cranswick and her colleagues may be based much further afield, possibly exploiting natural resources, as well as having possible vested interests tied up in property and tax avoidance. How many others?? Here is the excellent must-read blog Colouring In Culture with some very interesting further information on Ms Cranswick and her organisation:
Back to RBKC and we didn’t find much on the Council website; which only shows that out Council is rather reluctant to share any information on Mr Fletcher, his colleagues and use of our public money, resources and any special privileges he and his non- local organisations may or may not be receiving – totally unacceptable. This is most of what THINKers attempting to look papers and meetings up were greeted with:
All we could find on the RBKC website about David Fletcher and his conpany – were this – from papers from a meeting of the RBKC Childrens and Family Services Scrutiny Committee, dated 10th of May 2017:
Here’s who the Deputy Chair of that Council Committee was at the time:
Why it’s Lady False again- what a coincidence!
We’d also like to know if Tony Redpath and Richard “The Bogeyman” Egan are still in Council employment? Maybe this is why these documents are being hidden from us. They were supposed to have resigned after their shady dealings regarding KCC and Wornington College. While the Kroll Report may have exonerated RBKC from any wrongdoing over that, we’ll just share these Grenfell Action Group blogs from back in 2016 and 2017 so our readers can decide for themselves:
We ask about Redpath and Egan because they are supposed to have left RBKC ages ago, but they are mentioned recently.
All our attempts to look into whether they are still here only got this again :
“NEET'” stands for “not in education, employment or training”, but RBKC aren’t helping people to get out of such situations if they happen to be giving public money and benefits to wealthy people who don’t need it, at the real cost to others who are struggling to get by. Our residents have already suffered steep rises in council tax, business rates and rent as it is. Most “NEETs” certainly do not have disposable income to hire workspaces and study spaces so we would hope that anyone with a genuine concern for them, wouldn’t have vested interests or potentially would be in the act of ever taking away what precious free public study space there is left.
Until Grenfell, RBKC had been set to lease North Kensington Library to Notting Hill Prep School. This was one of the unpopular plans of former disgraced Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Property, “Jailhouse Rock” Feilding-Mellen.
Thankfully (and thanks to the campaigning of Friends of North Kensington Library) it has been saved for community use.
But what about the future of our other Libraries?? See our blog from back in February on Kensal Library:
So we are concerned that RBKC may well be having a “love-in” with David Fletcher, Wimbletech and The Workary, for the purpose of having them as for “partner” for privatising the use of our other libraries.
It certainly looks like it – and if not Mr Fletcher and his firm then some other private company or interest:
Any resident parents living near Golborne Road who may have been hoping to introduce their children to the delights of Elisabeth Beresford’s Wombles books or DVDs of the classic childrens’ TV programme at their local Library will be in for disappointment as Kensal Library is closed today and is closed a lot of the time – all the while RBKC isn’t exactly making much of an effort to fund it properly and reopen as normal.
Kensal Library is a small but fully disabled accessible local Libary in Golborne Ward – the Council ward with the highest levels of social deprivation, so RBKC are not exactly helping NEETs or anyone else who is disadvantaged, as whether the Library remains closed or whether it is run or part-run by Fletcher and co or other private interests, they would be taking away quiet study space as well as general Libary space from people in the poorest part of the borough, where is is most obviously needed – as obviously more residents there live in cramped, noisy or overcrowded accommodation.
Local residents there most certainly aren’t too happy about their Library being closed – this is from Twitter a couple of months ago:
The RBKC Cabinet Member responsible for Libraries? Surprise surprise, Lady False again!
Talking of Cllr Faulks’ decisions, it’s also questionable for her to be responsible for “supporting Covid-19 response and recovery” when she goes and does a daft thing like this:
We remind this Council that our poorest and most vulnerable residents do not have the money to pay for any sort of workspace/study space at all and of their studies suffering as a consequence. The writers of this blog are part of Friends of North Kensington Libary, we cam0aigned to save it and we will strongly resist any attemptby RBKCto close and/or privatise any of our other Libraries in this borough – they are valuable community assets, much-needed quiet spaces, meeting places and hubs of lifelong learning that are free to all. It should be not be regarded a questionable investment by this Council to fund themproperly.
We also hope our local councillors do read the Colouring In Culture article as this should serve as a potential warning about getting “private partners ” involved and questionable investments as to where the money may end up going..
Whatever the case,if depriving our residents of Libraries well as affecting other residents who run workspace firms with the use of our own money, wasn’t outrageous enough, what sort of interests and firms and persons we could all end up really subsidising as a result is truly alarming. Our special thanks go to Stephen Pritchard of the Colouring In Culture blog for alerting us to this – we certainly weren’t going to get any responses from RBKC – the borough that now pretends FOI requests don’t exist….
If Cllr Faulks and RBKC are genuinely not in the act of unfairly giving favourable benefits to certain workspace providers above others, if they are not in the act of looking to privatise or part-privatise our Libraries, they’re not exactly doing anything to convince us otherwise. We demand and deserveanswers.
Part 1 of THINK London Octology: “Eight Courses of Destruction”
Introduction (or “the pre-dinner speech“) :
It’s finally here! Our long-awaited sequel to our “London Trilogy” from 2018. These blogs will gradually be going up, staring over the festive season, but we’re very sorry that they won’t be filling our readers with much festive cheer and we certainly won’t be “cracking open the bubbly”. The “eight courses of destruction” refer to housing policy, various allegedly shady activities and the resulting destruction to homes and communities around London, with a locally relevant emphasis. We think that RBKC, the Mayor of London and GLA, the Government, together with irresponsibile developers, may all want to adjust their belts after reading these, as various issues – including cladding and the building safety scandal, , building homes and the environment, regeneration, provision of social housing and the shortage of it as well as local authorities and the GLA – will all strongly feature. So without further delay, it’s on to Part 1 and the “canapés” …..
We’re sure most of our readers will have seen the news and will have seen Tuesday’s scoop in the Daily Mirror from Pippa Crerar featuring pictures of Conservatives- including Shaun Bailey – breaching lockdown last December with their Christmas party – but here it is for those who missed it:
Here’s what “Shaun of the Brain Dead” Bailey Tweeted during that lockdown:
One rule for them and another rule for the rest of us it seems. At least Londoners didn’t make a “serious error of judgement” by voting for Shaun Bailey for London Mayor – thank goodness.
Oh well, with this publicity, it seems Bailey, who may have hoped for a seat in the House of Lords, may have to make do with a humble mobile phone shop instead. He resigned as Chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee after this story was made public .
Many people, including the Editor of this very blog (who was told off by Police in lockdown for the “criminal” act of sitting in Holland Park well away from others and trying to read in peace and quiet), will now be hoping the Police actually do their job this time.
Also featured in that picture is multimillionaire property tycoon Nick Candy (Candy and Candy , CPC Group ) and we also think the activities of Nick Candy and his brother Christian and as well as other mega wealthy property developer Tory donors and their influence on both national and local Government policy ought to be looked into by the Police too
Thinking of Holland Park and of the Candy Brothers reminded us of Duke’s Lodge.
Duke’s Lodge was a 1930s block of flats at 80 Holland Park, that had previously been owned by Liverpool Victoria, but was sold off to the Candy and Candy group CPC in 2013 and while the planning permission to revdevelop the site was initially refused, it was granted approval after a legal appeal in 2017. It has since been redeveloped into luxury flats.
Leader of RBKC until 2014 was Sir Merrick Cockell who as has been reported in this blog before, remained a councillor (and served on the RBKC Planning Conmittee ) until 2015. He went on to chair property PR lobbying firm Cratus Comnunications after leaving the Royal (or rather Rotten) Borough
Here are sone of our previous posts about Cockell and Cratus:
Joining the dots leads us on to other matters, but please do not pass the blinis on to us; this is all leaving us feeling nauseous and at this current time, they might possibly come with an unwanted side order of the Covid-19 Omicron variant too….
Those who know us well, will be aware that we are deeply concerned about “opportunity areas” . There are two of these which are situated in RBKC – Earl’s Court to the South and Kensal Canalside to the North.
These would appear to be more “money making opportunities for developers” than anything else. When we have a housing crisis and such a huge shortage of social and genuinely affordable housing, everyone knows that the answer to this really isn’t to build yet more and more unaffordable luxury flats but that’s what you end up getting when large areas of land are basically gifted to developers.
This is the absolute monstrosity that Ballymore propose to build at Kensal Canalside:
So forgive us if we do strongly object to this proposed development, to opportunity areas in principle and to greedy Ballymore ruining North Kensington. Perhaps the nightmares that many North Kensington residents have of a “Grenfell 2” happening here may not be so far fetched at all.
Here’s another glimpse of that client list for Cratus again – and surprise, surprise, Ballymore are on it too :
And Ballymore are also on the client list of fellow allegedly dodgy property PR lobbying firm Terrapin Communications:
And here’s a reminder of some of our previous posts on Terrapin Communications:
As for the Delancey Earl’s Court site, local residents there are waiting with baited breath (they’re not waiting for a tray of vol au vents to come round) to see what horrors Delancey come up with, but this was approved by the RBKC Planning Committee on Old Brompton Road (and we also note the involvement of architect Fred Pilbrow, who was also involved with Duke’s Lodge). Here is From the Hornets Nest:
And here’s another look at the client list for Terrapin Communications – with Delancey on it too.
All this when RBKC are building and planning to build new homes and so many existing residents are concerned about the impact on their community and quality of llfe, if these get built . All the while, valuable land in Earl’s Court and Kensal Canalside is in the hands of Delancey and Ballymore. We think this is a total disgrace and we’d like to know what RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Housing Grenfell,and Social Investment Kim Taylor-Smith and Secretary of State for “Levelling Up”, (what a joke) Housing and Communities Michael Gove are doing about it. Both appear be sitting on their hands, which is a real shame because these “Opportunity Areas” could instead have provided a real opportunity for RBKC to build much-needed homes there instead of causing anxiety and disruption to our borough’s residents in Golborne, Notting Dale , Dalgarno and Chelsea Riverside Wards, where the new homes schemes are
Former Leader of Southwark Council, Peter John is now Chair of Terrapin Communications
Too right- how is this acceptable? Southwark Notes have been on the case there for years and we highly recommend their blog to our readers for essential reading with much more information about the goings on down there :
Back to our own “backyard” and over to Chelsea. The Sutton Estate , due to the efforts of the formidable Save Our Sutton campaigners and Labour Cllr Ian Henderson in particular, is now safe, – thank goodness. And people can read about their outstanding campaign here:
But back when this lovely Estate was under threat from housing association Clarion Housing, one of the local Stanley Ward councilors was none other than Sir Marrick Cockell until 2015. (And at the time Cockell quit, Ian Henderson, together with fellow campugning residents Andrew Barshall and Heinz Schumi, stood as independents in the ward on an “anti corruption ticket” and took a large share of the vote. Pooter’s replacement in Stanley ended up being one Kim Taylor-Smith by the way ) Here, yet again, is that Cratus client list:
THINK would hope that as well as taking action over the obvious Covid-19 lockdown breaches at that party, that the attention of the Metropolitan Police ought to also be put into investigating luxury property development tycoons and theirc”work”, party donations, property lobbying firms and goings on at certain local authorities (not just RBKC and Southwark of course – there are plenty of others), as well as some present and past figures at those local authorities.
We hear that some of our local Police (who usually do a great job) do enjoy this blog, so maybe when they are reading this on their break, some of them could perhaps look into this? However what we have seen, a few have got their priorities very badly wrong and instead appear more preoccupied with confiscating banners away from protesters, like this one outside Parliament.
Whatever the political climate may be, we all know this country would be so much better off if the focus of law enforcement officials was less on peaceful protesters and harmless readers, picnickers and sunbathers in parks and more on what appears to be widespread alleged corruption.
Come on “Inspector Knacker of the Yard”, please do not let us lose faith in you, and put some effort into going after some real (alleged) criminals- you know it makes sense.
Here a look at RBKC’s Twtter feed from Tuesday the 14th of December:
Look we’re not remotely objecting to any of this content at all, indeed all of the above is very good and helpful and useful, but – notice anything missing? Here’s a clue, it begins with “G”
Does North Kensington and our community mean anything to these Comms bods? Apparently not. We know RBKC would like to forget about Grenfell and pretend nothing ever happened, but our community cannot and this Council really shouldn’t.
It feels like this all over again:
The 14th of every month is a difficult day for North Kensington, each 14th is an anniversary when our community comes together to remember the 72 residents who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. Most people know that, but most people are obviously much more well informed than the people who make their living putting out communications from our Council, and are tasked with supposedly keeping us informed.
While we understand that with regards to Grenfell, that RBKC is in rather a precarious position as to what they legally can and can’t say or post on social media , that is no excuse for not acknowledging Grenfell and our affected community AT ALL.
They could have at least posted some sort of acknowledgement or something helpful. Rather like this, from Grenfell NHS, but they didn’t bother…..
The only thing thst traumatised North Kensington residents did see on RBKC’s Twitter feed posted that day that was about North Kensington was this:
That’s right, a consultation on new homes, which happen to be located right in the immediate community around Grenfell. Tastelessly Tweeted on the day of the four and a half yearanniversary.
As for whoever chose the date we’re guessing this is a suit based at Housing rather than Communications and we’d like toknowwhothis moron is. Surely they had a map of the location, a calendar or even a brain?
We do wonder if the RBKC Communications department are actually human sometimes, so we’ll just let these odd creatures know again that the thoughts of most residents in this neighbourhood on the 14th are over Grenfell, the fire and the loss of 72 of our own – expecially in the run-up to Christmas – for residents who lost family members and/or friends in the fire. Let’s hope that sinks in.
Our minds are far too concentrated on the people who ought to have still been with us at this time and the fatal fire which took their lives in an RBKC owned and managed tower block – their homes – to be thinking of what new hones RBKC may or may not be planning to build in the area on that particular date.
We’re guessing the online consultation meeting went ahead yesterday evening, but it was only a day after the 14th, and THINKers (who live locally) were too traumatised to attend.
So for all those who live in RBKC and especially in North Kensington who were busy elsewhere, weren’t aware of this meeting; or like us, weren’t exactly feeling up to attending, here is the link to the Latymer Community Church and Bramley new homes consultation (and consultations on other new homes proposals are on this too):
We did let the Council know that their communications were inappropriate, but still RBKC failed to respond and move the consultation to a date more suitable for the affected local residents in the neighbourhood to attend.
It’ seems that RBKC Comms are devoid of any compasssion whatsoever towards our affected community. North Kensington residents really do deserve better than this.
We’re also sick and tired of having to point out their inappropriate communications and fails to them – they do not listen and yet they still mess up and continue to get it badly, badly wrong; time and time again. This is from 2019:
One would expect that those who work in Communications would have some grasp of the fundamental basics and understand that listening and learning should be part of their brief.
So who are the strange creatures responsible? RBKC is very reluctant to let the public know who their “suits” (senior council staff) are….
But never mind – some of these beings who keep messing up still think they are worthy of employment – and they have “helpfully” posted their profiles on Linked In.
Residents are already aware of Head of Communications Nick Price-Thompson – salary £170k a year – (top left in our picture) and Kirsty Tobin, Head of Content, Channels and Digital (top right in our picture), but here are a few others we have found:
Surely at least one of the above must have been behind this or at least known? And if not, then we’re dreadfully sorry but hey – that’s what happens when residents are kept in the dark as to who does or doesn’t do what at the Council. Maybe they were following orders? Whatever the case, this sort of thing is unacceptable and if we’re not going to get answers, then we would hope to never see this sort of thing happening again.
Do not get us wrong, North Kensington residents aren’t asking for any sort of special treatment here, but what we are asking for is some sort of effort to communicate appropriately with us and to at least show some acknowledgement that we exist.
We shouldn’t have to keep highlighting their mistakes and failures and shouting from the rooftops about this, we shouldn’t have to keep reminding them that the 14th is always a tough day for people here Some acknowledgement of our existence and being treated decently and respectfully, considering that their wages are paid out ofour council tax, business rates and rent, shouldn’t really be too much toaskfor.
Tuesday, the 14th of December marked 4 and a half years since 72 members of our community lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.
The Grenfell Silent Walk was held with bereaved, survivors and residents walking together in memory of our 72.
Earlier that day, Grenfell community campaigners paid a visit to the Celotex factory in Ipswich:
The local residents marked the four and a half years anniversary by blocking the entrances and exits to stop deliveries of Celotex lethal insulation. When a few Celotex employees expressed annoyance or frustration at the protest, the residents pointed out to them that the Chief Executive of Saint Gobain (which Celotex is a subsidiary of), together with the Chief Executives of Kingspan, Arconic and Rydon have disgracefully received over £50million in bonuses since the atrocity.
Chants were heard, including “Celotex makes insulation but the end result is death by suffocation” and another, a play on a Tweet from Kensington former Labour MP and present Golborne Councillor Emma Dent Coad: “Celotex you lied and 72 people died, from your cyanide”.
We thank the protesters for their good work and for giving everyone a timely reminder, and that timely reminder is that these firms and people responsible are still in business, still walking free.while our community suffers, hoping and praying for justice for the 72.
Talking of timely reminders , it’s time for us to go back to the Grenfell Inquiry and our blog post from last year “Celotex and the fatal hard sell” regarding the company falsifying and manipulating safety tests of the flammable insultation and then misselling it :
“In evidence to Grenfell inquiry’s examination of the manufacture, testing and sale of the largely plastic materials, Roper said the firm had been “dishonest” by “over-engineering” a cladding fire safety test to achieve a pass.“
“A first test in February 2014 failed in 26 minutes, with flames engulfing the rig. But after changing some of the materials used around the insulation, including adding concealed fire-retardant panels, a second test three months later passed and was used to market the foam boards as safe for high-rise buildings.”
Still, Celotex and others go on with “business as usual” and would rather people forget about the fatal consequences of their actions four and a half years ago – we think it’s time something was done about that.
North Kensington will always remember, and we’re very grateful to the community campaigners protesting on Tuesday and to Grenfell United for calling for charges and keeping this in the media spotlight and ensuring that others are aware too.
By the way, if the likes of Kingspan, Arconic and Rydon had thought that we had let them off and that they had escaped the gaze of this blog and further coverage of their shady doings, we’ll just let them know that we have blogs on them coming very soon……
THINK stand with the Grenfell community campagners and Grenfell United. All of us are demanding that charges are brought now. . This atrocity should never have happened, the people and organisations responsible for loss of 72 innocent lives – Celotex and others have not been charged with anything and are walking free; this should not be happening. and we will all continue to make noise and call for justice. This is nothing less than corporate manslaughter.
THINK spoke to one of the Grenfell community campaigners who had protested in Ipswich and they had this to say to us:
“We went on a road trip to Hadleigh, Ipswich to remind one of the companies complicit in the deaths of 72 people, of whom 18 were children, that justice awaits them and the justice we seek is jail time.
Our main objective was to hit them in their pockets by preventing normal business for the day. They stole 72 lives, destroyed peoples homes and traumatised a whole community, so losing a days profit making was the least they deserved.
It’s time that all the corporates who lied and cheated the system, who put profit before people, who demonstrated utter contempt towards our residents and their safety, were reminded that just because they aren’t based in London, does’nt mean that we won’t come and give them hell from time to time.
Our dead weren’t safe at their hands, why should they sit back relaxing like nothing has happened? We say to them: “We will not be silent so that you can remain comfortable”
We will be planning future actions to the other main players complicit in the deaths of the 72 and would encourage as many who can to come along with us and support.
We are self supported in what we do, all of us chipping in to get each action achieved. We are a collective and determined to support GUs call for charges to be brought. The evidence has been laid bare to all via the Grenfell Inquiry, yet the guilty walk free.
4 and 1/2 yrs, 72 dead, no arrests, HOW COME?”
THINK fully support the above statement and we too call on all our readers to unite in support and join the call for justice, and here, with another timely reminder, are Grenfell United:
Have a look above.. it beggars belief doesn’t it? Yes, RBKC, the Grenfell council, the local authority which has the outright nerve to waste £100,000 a year of Grenfell Recovery money which is supposed to help our traumatised community, on their pointless propaganda magazine, North Ken News, is now wasting even more of our money sending out a survey to local residents about it!
Words almost fail us sometimes Nobody here ever asked for this magazine in the first place (“why your views matter” indeed) , it has been referred as “propaganda” not just by us, but also by Pembridge Conservative backbench councillor Dori Schmetterling!
This pointless rag is mostly written and edited by Kirsty Tobin, one of the RBKC PR Comms officials. Ms Tobin, from Billericay (and who had previously falsely claimed to he a journalist at The Guardian when she in fact worked at East London local rag the Waltham Forest Guardian!) obviously spends a good deal of her time (and wasting even more of our money), trawling through our social media in some attempt to find any locally relevant content.
The one and only positive hope for this magazine we ever had, was that RBKC would have taken up our suggestion to let North Kensington residents edit and manage it (overseen by the Council) and actually produce sonething meaningful and useful. But clearly RBKC do not share our vision and think their “hired help” from outside knows better than our community
All this when The SPACE, a local much valued community-led hub in North Kensington, which runs much valued and helpful services such as food donations, their baby bank as well as community group sessions,; jobs and benefits advice, is still needing storage space in order to keep their baby bank up and running.
On top of that, other community groups and hubs are struggling for resources too. Only RBKC, could ever think that wasting our Grenfell Recovery money on their pointless propaganda is a far more worthy and productive thing to do.
Interestingly, one of us had a recent meeting with RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment, Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith and it did not go unnoticed how keen he was to swerve and avoid her questions over the wasting our money on this rubbish. It has also been noted that residents are getting sick and tired of being sent surveys all the time; yet we still continue to receive countless surveys all the time. Just what is all this costing us?
But instead of abandoning this magazine immediately and instead spend the money on funding the community organisations that really make a difference; it seem they have money to burn (more than they are telling us they have) and decided to waste even more of it.
Clearly they think our community are idiots, but we suggest that some of their people instead take a good long hard look in the mirror to see who the real idiots are. Next time we’ll probably get surveys asking us if there already too many Council surveys at this rate.
We also suggest that RBKC and their “hired help” get out of Hornton Street and meet the people and community groups who are really struggling in North Kensington, especially in the run-up to Christmas, for a reality check instead of sticking their heads in the sand and writing blank cheques for such pointless and wasteful nonsense. It is painfully obvious that they are in dire need of a reality check; all the while our North Kensington community goes on suffering regardless.
This Winter, many residents who were forced to abandon plans to spend Christmas time with their families last year, will be really looking forward to spending time their loved ones over the festive season.
That’s if loads of folks do not fall ill with Covid-19 and especially the new Omicron variant – yesterday there were apparently 101 new cases of this in London reported in the Evening Standard – and there doesn’t happen to be another Lockdown round the corner to ruin everyone’s Christmas that is.
So all the more reasonable to be cautious and sensible But not everyone at RBKC is being cautions and sensible. The word is out from a Conservative source in Kensington that their local Campden Cllr and RBKC Cabinet Member Catherine Faulks seems to think this is just the right time to be holding a party at her Ladbroke Grove home tomorrow.
This is what was sent to us – and Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng ought to know better too :
This is what THINK’s “High Society Correspondent” had to say to us : “Tout the Notting Hill political set will be gathering at the tasteful £30 million home of Cadbury heiress, Lady Catherine Faulks. Star Guest will be amiable Kwasi Kwarteng. Lady C trilled, ‘God, Kwasi is soooo gorgeous’
Laughs aside, we don’t think that our local small businesses and self employed residents will be laughing if things get worse and we end up with yet another lockdown – many are financially struggling as it is already. Catherine Faulks’ brief in the RBKC Cabinet is Lead Member for Economy, Employment and Innovation” so one would have hoped that she would have been more thoughtful and responsible and not be throwing big parties – and to not be throwing caution to the wind about Covid-19 and the risks – at her North Kensington home at this time.
Cllr Faulks already has previous form in this blog over forgetting to be cautious about the virus before in June last year :
So one would think she would know better. But if Lady Faulks doesn’t give a stuffed turkey about the wellbeing of our residents, maybe she might care to know that the information about her Xmas bash was sent us from a Conservative Party member – and not only that, this is a resident living in Campden Ward – and one of Cllr Faulks’ constituents. Needless to say, they are far from impressed by such irresponsible behaviour – and they have also informed us that if tomorrow’s event goes ahead, they will be calling for Cllr Faulks’deselection in the safe true blue Consetvative ward, so “Lady False” may not have too much to celebrate for too much longer….. Let’s hope she gets the message and has for once, the common sense and decency to cancel and to think of the communities she represents and to make an effort to put them first.
Look, nobody is exactly enjoying this and we’d like nothing more than to all return to our normal lives and have and go to as many parties as we like – but it’s really not safe to do so at this time and we have to think of others; especially the clinically vulnerable and those who have suffered financially and those who have suffered mentally because of the last lockdown and those who have been affected by and/or lost loved ones to Covid-19.
Sadly we are a long way from being “safe” and we will never get there unless everyone does their bit. We say that Cllr Faulks and all other “Lead Members” of the RBKC Cabinet , as well as Government Ministers (although we have zero faith the Government are being at all remotely sensible about this, as yesterday’s news about the Christmas bash at Number 10appears toshow),allought to be “Leading byexample” They’re supposed to be setting good examples as the people in charge after all….