Save Wornington College – a community speaks out!

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More from the KCC “consultation” meeting at Wornington College. Regular readers of our blog will know that we were upset about the consultation and a Grenfell fundraiser for the College being held on the same day. Well so were many others in our community – we were really pleased to see such a strong level of support for keeping our community college.

The meeting was chaired by Mary Curnock Cook, the chair of the board of governors at KCC, standing in for interim principal Michele Sutton. We weren’t surprised by the level of support for the College, but she and her colleagues certainly were! We were all packed into the small library room as they clearly didn’t expect such a large turnout, not being in their jobs long, being unfamiliar with North Kensington and likely fed a lot of misinformation regarding the popularity of Wornington by others.

One issue discussed was KCC moving provision of courses to Hortensia Rd, Chelsea. As THINK had pointed out before, this is too lengthy a commute for many of the students who are in work and/or have families. One former student, who now ran her own nursery school, stated that NVQ up to level 3 was required for childcare in her profession and that KCC had since moved all the level 3 courses to the Chelsea site, thus depriving a lot of others of the same opportunities.

Another issue was KCC’s supposed reasons for moving courses over to Chelsea, citing lack of students taking up courses in our area. Well one former lecturer pointed out that many in North Kensington and nearby were unaware of the courses provided at the College and that there was a lack of advertising and promotion of this leading to fewer students enrolling – she described Wornington as “the invisible college”. Most attending had not seen or heard of  much of any attempt by those in charge in recent times to promote courses at the Wornington site.

A proposed merger with West London College was also discussed. KCC had already announced this on their website and a local campaigner mentioned that this was in an article published in FE Week the board were very cagey about discussing this – and THINK wondered as did many others , if the real plan was just to move the courses over there and to do away with the Wornington site. This was backed up by another former lecturer who pointed out that staff at Wornington were being made redundant now before any merger had been finalised  KCC did admit that the merger was their preferred option even though they are reluctant to discuss this and Mrs Curnock Cook tripped up a bit and said “it could go wrong” so that’s reassuring then.

The meeting did leave us with more questions than answers. We took two positives from the meeting: firstly that KCC did agree to a second and fuller consultation meeting, and secondly, the real level of enthusiasm and support on behalf of our local community to save our College. THINK believe that Wornington College has to stay as a local community college in North Kensington and  that in light of the recent disaster at Grenfell Tower and the managed decline of both the social housing and  local facilities in our area that we need it now more than ever to provide opportunities and positivity in the local area. We will be posting more on this issue, campaigning more  and also will of course be going along to the next meeting. And we will tell  the KCC board, we will not have our College and our prospects taken away by those who have nothing to do with the best interests of our community. Be warned – this isn’t over.

Here is the Channel 4 News article on Wornington College:

https://www.channel4.com/news/the-battle-to-save-kensington-and-chelsea-college-near-grenfell

Further goings on Nextdoor……

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THINK has again popped Nextdoor and we didn’t need to borrow a cup of sugar to realise the RBKC Tories could be in hot water…   Sadly the wreck of Grenfell Tower casts a dark shadow over our neighbourhood  and the council now not only has many questions to answer about this disaster but also about other policies they have put in place over the years and their neglect of the poorest and most vulnerable in our community.

THINKers can not  ever recall a time when the Conservatives have been any more unpopular in our area. Here, posted on Nextdoor, are just a few some comments from  local residents:

On air pollution: RL from Notting Dale:”Not surprisingly, the RBKC (such as it is in its current ramshackle state) is very reluctant to have a conversation about air pollution. Victoria Borwick (seemingly polite but utterly ineffective) in her quirky, somewhat bizarre fashion, seemed to think that equipping her husband with an air monitor and strolling around the borough, amounted to a clean air campaign”…. Apart from getting to grips with its’ appalling record on governance, RBKC needs  to address the issue of high levels of pollution across the entire borough A good start would be trading in the fuel guzzling Bentley for a more environmentally friendly vehicle. Perhaps Moylan could do something useful and pilot an RBKC pedicab…”

On Cllr Catherine Faulks: JC from Norland:”The woman sounds like a solipsist (the cleaned up version of the response that first sprang to mind)”

On Wornington College: AF from Notting Dale: “The council or any other council don’t care about us. The time is right. It’s all about money”

JS from Ladbroke:” This is all about redevelopment. It isn’t for locals’ benefit, they won’t replace it with social housing it’s about big fat profits for someone down the line. It’s a perfectly good college serving local needs. It doesn’t need fixing, probably just needs more funding but what public institutions don’t? Given the General Election outcome and the  awful Grenfell tragedy, we now have an opportunity to tell RBKC a big resounding NO! Garner more support, everybody lobby your councillors & MP, lobby Sadiq Khan… tell May we need more education NOW”

NL from Golborne: ” Not sure RBKC are going to be able to sell off their assets as easily as they had thought”

And then  about Elizabeth Campbell, Grenfell  and  other issues facing North Kensington residents:

TS from Notting Dale: ” She was totally out of her depth at the Grenfell meeting today, absolutely clueless this council are like a bad joke that never ends.”

The Tories had one supporter – JE from Holland Park: “Oh give the woman a break, she’s only just taken over!” But more responses were to come:

DN from Portobello: “Replacing Nick Paget-Brown with Elizabeth Campbell at RBKC is like replacing Al Capone with John Gotti. She is responsible for the destruction and dismantling of the youth service in North Kensington. If you really want to gain the confidence of the community and stop the culture of elitism and neglect in the borough – then you don’t get rid of the head of the Mafia and then tell us that his lieutenant has replaced him. Justice 4 Grenfell means exposing the corrupt culture that facilitated the fire at Grenfell Tower. It means addressing the long standing concerns of residents in North Kensington it included the council’s regeneration programme, the closure of a public information centre to build a private school, the closure of a school to build a gymnasium, the proposed closure of our public library to lease it to a prep school where the (former)  Deputy Leader of the council Rock Feilding-Mellen has his child on the waiting list, the building of an Academy school in the car park of Grenfell Tower 200 metres away from the school they closed, the displacement of residents in Wornington, the proposed closure of Wornington College to build luxury apartments, the closure of youth and community facilities, the displacement of five generations of white working class families from Portobello Market, the attempted destruction of Golborne Road street trading, the collusion of the Westway Trust and the council to disenfranchise the local community of 23 acres of land to put in the hands of commercial retailers… the list goes on and on. The remit of this public inquiry has to include the history of neglect, systemic corruption and institutional bias that led up to this tragedy.”

CC from Notting Dale: “DN’s post sums up what everyone has known about RBKC’s plans for North Kensington and its treatment of North Kensington over the past years. The key thing now is to get rid of this council and replace it with councillors of some honour and probity. Action is now required to achieve this”

THINK believe that the RBKC Tories had better get used to these kinds of responses from residents in the North of the borough.  We  also noticed that Nextdoor also has many excellent domestic services advertised on the site – well no cleaner however skilled, will ever be able to help them sweep all the utter mess that they have caused under the carpet and we call on all the cabinet to resign.

Dizzy Lizzy and the Town Hall of Shame……

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This is Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, the new leader of RBKC (nicknamed “Dizzy Lizzy” or “Silly Lizzie” because of her rumoured lack of brain power). THINK were scratching our heads as to where we had heard of her before.

No it wasn’t the rumour that her husband had cut up her credit cards due to her love of shopping (though we wish RBKC could extend some of Mrs Campbell’s alleged love of spending to those in the borough who are most in need).

Then we remembered that she used to be Cabinet Member for Children’s services and partially responsible for the disastrous cost-cutting exercise in tri- borough contracting out of the provision of home-school transport for children with special needs.

This resulted in countless problems including lateness and delays, lack of special equipment, provision of drivers and escorts who lacked knowledge of the transport routes and also of the medical needs of the children. As well as countless complaints from parents, this even resulted in one child suffering a seizure and being taken to hospital – disgraceful. Apparently the biggest factor on which the contracts were decided was cost.

If North Kensington residents haven’t already had enough of being defecated on by this council , we also will inform our neighbours that Dizzy Lizzy is also behind  the closure of our much-loved Maxilla Children’s Centre and Nursery School. She did eventually quit her post, to help her husband out with his yacht – we kid you not.

THINK are genuinely perplexed as to what is going on in the minds of RBKC for them to consider Mrs Campbell as a competent leader. She has also recently admitted to have never been in a tower block (after 11 years on the council) another sign that she is hopelessly out of touch with the public. We believe that most of the Tories at RBKC do not only fail to understand the real needs of the most vulnerable of the borough, but they have been in charge for so long, that they have stopped caring. It is high time the voting public sorted this out once and for all……..

Warwick Lightfoot – “Sorry we have no money” – but are sitting on £300 million reserves.

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This is Cllr Warwick Lightfoot, he is RBKC Cabinet member for “Finance and Strategy” (that’s worked out well, hasn’t it?) Yes he had worked as an economic advisor to  Norman Fowler, Norman Lamont and  John Major in the 1990s – that worked out well too as we all know

He also authored a book that ought to be be the title of a rubbish sitcom entitled “Sorry we have no money”!!!! Should that be “Sorry we have no shame in bribing taxpayers with their own money?”

He is also noted for his strong opposition to a Labour and Liberal Democrat motion for a food bank. With both him and former leader Nick Paget-Brown not exactly covering themselves in glory, making out that it would encourage poverty! Though he is often seen by locals in our area perusing the “reduced items” food section in Portobello Road Tesco’s  – so maybe he just gets very upset about the very nerve of the poor and needy doing him out of  saving 50p on a sandwich!!!

 

No they still don’t get it, help for the poor doesn’t encourage poverty; it is the lack of help which does. Most people don’t unlike Mr Lightfoot, need a degree from Oxford University to begin to try to  understand that  (not like he has ever shown any concern)- but then again, he is completely endemic of what  this out of touch bunch of white upper class RBKC Tories are like!! We will also point out to those living in Holland Ward of RBKC that not only do they have the misfortune to be represented by Cllr Lightfoot,but also they have Rock Feilding-Mellen as a fellow ward councillor too  (two for the price of one!) If residents are interested in cut-price goods; they might consider cutting away the neglect and contempt that this terrible twosome have shown for the local community and  voting them out.

 

Here’s the footage of Cllr Lightfoot objecting to food banks  –  we did wonder if he had a “liquid lunch” instead? We’re embarrassed that these people are supposed to represent us……..

 

 

Save Wornington College: KCC consultation event today

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As you can see from our first blog post, THINK are big supporters of Wornington College and have real concerns about the site being closed and provision of courses being reduced.

The consultation is today at the College in Wornington Road, W10 today, with Michele Sutton, Temporary Principal, taking questions between 3:30 and 4:30pm. We urge all who care about the North Kensington community to come along.

We have also learned that KCC has planned a fundraiser for Grenfell Tower disaster victims at the same time. While we would usually welcome any fundraising efforts for Grenfell Tower, we believe that their decision to hold both on the same day shows both a lack of compassion for both the victims of the fire, traumatised locals and also to those with concerns about further provision of courses at the site, staff cuts and indeed that the College will remain at the site in future. Also KCC has not stated whether there will be a crèche provided at the proposed site, which is a major concern for students with children, particularly single parents and those on low incomes as to whether they can continue in their studies at the College.

The Grenfell Tower fire publicly highlighted the rich-poor divide in our community. KCC have not given ANY details about adult education at the Wornington College  site. As we pointed out before, a lot of students at the College are on low incomes, have children or are working long hours, so would find travelling all the way to Hortensia Road, Chelsea, difficult. Not only that but the fact that KCC refuse to give further  information about Wornington College, and also are offering staff there voluntarily redundancies, points out to a huge reduction in places, courses and therefore  opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged in our area.

Edwatd Daffarn of the Grenfell Action Group is one former student whose life was turned around by going to Wornington College and we have spoken to a lot of other former students there who have gone on to greater things thanks to the further education courses at the College. We believe that they deliberately put both events on the same day to suppress discussion and questions that those who care about the College and its future may care to bring up.

THINK believe that KCC have both insulted the victims of Grenfell Tower and  former students there – shame on them. We urge all to go along and make your voices heard. After all, how can a devastated community heal if both RBKC and KCC are going to take away our College, and reduce the chances of a better life for so many in North Kensington?

We’ll “Ask Nick” who’s telling the truth?

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Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of RBKC  has Q & A sessions with citizens entitled “Ask Nick”. THINKers, other bloggers, local pressure groups and  other strongly opinionated individuals  are for some reason, usually ignored at these public events – we cannot imagine why.

Council housing in RBKC has long been severely neglected and underfunded, even before Mr Paget-Brown became leader in 2013. Yes it is not a fashionable nor glamourous issue,  but it is a crucial one to many in our borough, and tragically more so than ever after the Grenfell Tower disaster – we believe that tenants and leaseholders who live in council-owned buildings deserve more than continually being fobbed off with arrogance and PR exercises.

If residents haven’t had enough of an ordeal already, Mr Paget-Brown said this regarding fitting sprinkler systems in a TV interview “But many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that fitting- trying to retrofit would have delayed the building and that sprinklers aren’t the answer”.

Well THINK have heard from a senior source at RBKC who says “I was at most of the consultation meetings and I have no recollection of sprinklers ever being mentioned. This is victim blaming of the worst sort and is despicable”

Also we have heard from residents of other buildings who have said that provision of sprinkler systems has never been discussed.

We’ll  “Ask Nick” who’s being truthful here? THINK believe that offering a faux-resignation, knowing you have the full backing of your cabinet shows all the humility of Uriah Heep.

And we will also “Ask Nick” after this disgraceful performance, “when are you going to accept your responsibilities to the borough and resign  along with several of your cabinet colleagues”.

From a Rock to a hard place……

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This is Rock Feilding-Mellen, Deputy Leader of RBKC and Cabinet member for Housing, regeneration and property.

He has been in charge of his brief since 2013, which although might put him out of direct blame for the Grenfell Tower cladding, does not absolve his responsibility of his duties to the borough. He regularly ignores letters of complaints and desperation  written by frustrated tenants and their families. On top of that, he has promised to “build more homes in the private and affordable sectors”. Just how do you do that Rock, when RBKC and North Kensington in particular, need social and genuinely affordable housing?

He is also a property developer, albeit one who just picks over his aristocratic family’s land and whose company has a turnover of less than £3000! On top of that he regularly ignores complaints of drug-related antisocial behaviour that tenants, not getting anywhere with RBKC cutbacks in staff & the TMO, feel compelled to complain to him! But to no avail, as his parents devote their time to “getting high”, – to the point of drilling holes in their heads! So no response then.

He is also behind so-called “regeneration” plans for the Silchester Estate, handing over our North Kensington Library and our Westway Information Centre being handed over at cut price to Notting Hill Prep School and the Isaac Newton centre handed over to Chepstow House Prep School (three guesses who has their children on the waiting list for both?) If we are going to discuss waiting lists, then we could question what Rock and his pals propose to do about RBKC having one of the highest council housing waiting lists in the U.K.? But that is a rhetorical question because we know they just plan to sell it off and try to get support by reducing council tax by means of expelling those most in need from the borough.

Recently, we heard reports of him being “driven out of his home by angry residents” . He claimed “vandalism” and  “criminal damage” – but apparently Police couldn’t see any evidence of this! Is this some ploy of Mr Feilding-Mellen to attempt to garner sympathy? Well we believe if anyone deserves sympathy, it should be the tenants and leaseholders of Grenfell Tower and neighbouring blocks in North Kensington , not some petulant man who treats the citizens he represents with contempt.

Anyway, THINK cannot understand why such a preposterous, out of touch person has been put in such a senior and supposedly responsible position. We question the ethics and values of all at RBKC who believe this to be a person of integrity.

Anyway, a ludicrous individual needs a ridiculous ending, so we’ll let “Little Lord Rock Weilding-Felon” go and party with his old school chums………

 

Help and information as to the wellbeing and accommodation for the Grenfell Tower survivors: please contact us

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In North Kensington we are still very distraught and yet  frustrated about how we can best help the survivors of Grenfell Tower.

A lot of volunteers and charities are reaching out to offer help, but there is poor communication in some instances and there are concerns about survivors and traumatised locals not directly receiving help available.

There are stories, rumours and miscommunications everywhere. Of particular concern are reports of families allegedly placed outside London or in accommodation unsuitable to their needs.

THINK are in regular contact with our local (Labour) councillors – some, such as Judith Blakeman and Robert Atkinson. represent Notting Dale the RBKC ward that Grenfell Tower was in.

We ask all with knowledge of any particular cases or any problems relating to the survivors and their wellbeing, do get in touch with us at thisisnorthkensington@gmail.com

We will pass any necessary information or queries on to our local councillors, and we will of course, treat all information with the strictest of confidentiality.

We have had this response from RBKC:

“If there is anyone not receiving proper assistance and support, they MUST contact their designated family support worker so this can be addressed. There are too many rumours going about but the Response team cannot work on rumours, they need hard cases. If you are aware of any please ring 0800 458972 with the details”.

Here are some details of further local information:

Thursday 22nd June:

Multi-faith Service for Grenfell at 3pm outside Maxilla social club (anyone who wishes to help to be there at 2pm)

Central London Samaritans are offering emotional support at Clement James Centre, 95 Sirdar Rd, London W11 4EQ between 10am and 5pm

Saturday 24th June and Sunday 25th June: Charity sale at Acklam Village – all proceeds going to Grenfell Victims

Sunday 25th June: Unity In The Community event 2pm-10pm at Maxilla Social Club (under the Westway)

 

 

Grenfell Tower fire

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THINK are still reeling in shock and horror at the fire at Grenfell Tower and we would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to all those affected.

This is a very difficult post for us as all are our community neighbours and many are friends.

One friend is Edward Daffarn, of the Grenfell Action Group. He and his group had long warned about fire hazards and other poor conditions that they as residents had to endure, only to be met with derision by RBKC. Their last post is particularly moving – see it here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/grenfell-tower-fire/amp/

We can report that Edward is alive and well, but he has lost his home and possessions and is obviously deeply traumatised by what has happened. (And Eddie, we wish you well and look forward to seeing you soon.)

We will also pay tribute to all those in our community and beyond who have donated or volunteered and also to the emergency services.

Our community is devastated, but we are strong, resilient and we support each other. We send our love, solidarity and kind thoughts out to all the Grenfell Tower former residents –  those who have sadly passed away, those who are in hospital, those who are missing, and those who now have lost their homes and belongings. Also to all their relatives and friends.  So to RBKC we say that you will never silence, bully, neglect  or socially cleanse us now the country is watching.  This is North Kensington and this is our community. We will always sadly carry terrible memories of this tragic event and we will not let either RBKC, the government or anyone else ever forget it.

 

Emma Dent Coad IS our MP for Kensington constituency – A victory for the people!!!

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It gives THINK great pleasure to announce that after a few recounts, Emma Dent Coad has been elected as our Labour MP for Kensington!

THINK is a big supporter of Emma and the Labour Party, we believe they offer positive social change for the area as well as for London as a whole.

Now some have questioned the authenticity of our campaign and how Labour won, so let’s just explain a few things: as well as the “bread-and-butter” issues (economy, NHS etc) Emma won because of these factors:

1. Social and affordable housing – many social housing tenants, leaseholders and freeholders face a program of social cleansing that will leave most unable to live in the area. Others also face moving out of Kensington as they cannot afford to live here. The Tories and Victoria Borwick did not show any concern towards all affected by this and as we reported previously,  completely ignored the question of provision of social housing altogether. Labour instead promised to oppose so called “regeneration” plans, which was very popular, particularly in North Kensington,  and this got a lot of votes for Emma (including from many who didn’t vote before due to sometimes justifiable disallusionment with politics). The polling stations in our area were packed with people voting Labour because they were given real reasons to.

2. Victoria Borwick: Many local residents were dissatisfied with Lady Borwick, both as an MP and in the policies she supported. For example, she spent more time in the Commons talking about pedicabs for example, rather than health, education etc. which did show a rather warped sense of priorities. Also several constituents found her rather uncommunicative with regards to responding to letters, emails and appointments. When she snubbed the Earls Court hustings, numerous residents took that as someone who holds her constituents in contempt. She also had a  poor attendance record in the Commons. Plus she showed a poor understanding of our multicultural community by suggesting ticketing for Notting Hill Carnival.  Also her Brexit stance and the ivory trade ban lift did not do her any favours. (THINK will say one thing in her favour and that is she is not a bitter or petty-minded individual – unlike some we won’t mention! and doesn’t take criticism too personally, but that is only from our experience.)

3. Other local issues:The closure of Maxilla and  impending closure of North  Kensington Library among many things. Yes these are largely council matters, but Victoria Borwick sat as an RBKC Tory councillor before being elected and some voters weren’t about to forget it.

4. Last but certainly not least: Emma Dent Coad herself: Emma is a well known and popular local Labour councillor. She has campaigned for years on social housing and the welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable in our community. Her ward, Golborne,  also has some of the highest levels of social deprivation in London and Emma has a positive rapport with many of her ward constituents which also lended itself to a big personal vote of approval.

So, this is a real “Peoples’ Victory” ! THINK believes strongly in Emma Dent Coad and the Labour Party and so it appears do a lot of people in our area!

We’ll leave you with footage of the demonstration outside Kensington Town Hall yesterday,  which was packed with her supporters!!!