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 Рshame 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 Рwe 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”

Nick Paget-Brown is affectionately (or not so affectionately) ¬†nicknamed “Piglet”by the way, so we decided to use a picture for those well-versed in Cockney rhyming slang…….

Here is Nick Piglet-Pie being interviewed on Newsnight:

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 indeed puts him at the centre of the decisions made about 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.

When he has bothered to respond to residents, it is insulting at the very least. Here is an actual quote from him: “the village shall not dictate to the Estate” Well most of the residents of this “London village” believe it is time this pretentious and allegedly crooked “landowner” got out of our neighbourhood and our borough for good!

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 cbums……

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 Р 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 local Labour Party, we believe they offer positive social change for the area and a real understanding of our local community.

Now some have questioned the authenticity of the 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” ! At THINK, we feel positively encouraged by Emma Dent Coad and Kensington Labour 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!!!

Life under the Tories: Hard Brexit, hard breakfast

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If you haven’t voted already, THINK urge you to do so and use your vote wisely. We are voting Labour for many reasons: A properly funded NHS, real investment in education, and a fairer taxation system for example. The gap between the richest and poorest in our country is getting wider and we in our part of London where you can see a ¬£30million home and homeless people on ¬†the same street, know this all too well.

Also we worry about a hard Brexit, leaving the single market ¬†and that EU nationals (of which there are many in Kensington) will not be allowed to stay (see Lady Borwick’s voting record about this in our “Victoria Borwick and the half baked truth” post.)

We do not trust the Tories  Рtheir cuts have been savage, they have a callous attitude towards the poor, the sick and the elderly, and in our opinion,  purely look after their own vested interests and privileges.

People in the north of RBKC  have a life expectancy of around 12 years less than those in the wealthier south. We know that Lady Borwick is very ignorant of the poor and disadvantaged in our community and has spent more time speaking about pedicabs that about the real serious issues that many of her more disadvantaged constituents face.

So we urge all who wish to see a fairer Kensington to vote for Emma Dent Coad and the Labour Party. According to some, this could be the last ¬†and best chance that Labour has of winning this constituency – it might be merged with Chelsea (and the safe Tory wards there) ¬†next time and impossible to prise from Conservative control. You have been warned…….

 

Hustings: Victoria does a “Theresa May” and so do most of her colleagues!

imageOn our last post, we reported from hustings at St Johns, Notting Hill and the not very warm response that Victoria Borwick received. Now the next (final) round of hustings was yesterday at St Cuthbert’s in Earls Court. We might not live there, but it also is part of our borough and the unfortunate story of redevelopment of the famous exhibition centre is well known, so is the anger of a lot of the local residents there towards RBKC. Further information here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2016/oct/03/earls-court-regeneration-reviews-and-uncertainties

And on : saveearlscourt.com

We expected more fireworks, but so did Lady Borwick ¬†and so she did not even bother to turn up to answer relevant questions from her constituents. Her excuse? A “school meeting” apparently. This must have been one major event of a school meeting for her to go to during an election! We noticed other absences; RBKC Tory councillors and couldn’t help wondering if they all conveniently had a school meeting to go to as well? It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that she was heckled, booed, jeered and laughed at last time? Surely not. Anyway, one RBKC Tory decided to stand in for her – Cllr Malcolm Spalding (we bet he later regretted that!)

The crowd was not a large one, but lots were concerned about Earls Court and only 14% affordable housing. All the other candidates  Р Lib Dem, Green, Green Socialist, two Independent candidates and our very own favourite Labour candidate Emma Dent Coad, all expressed similar views, with regards to providing adequate and genuinely affordable housing and the developers being in financial trouble But all Cllr Spalding, who in fact represents Earls Court, could do was pass the blame on to Hammersmith & Fulham РRBKC Earls  Court residents were not about to let him forget about his council and responsibilities and he was roundly booed and jeered.

Another point that came up was lobbying and the scandal that caused the resignation of Lady Borwick’s predecessor Sir Malcolm Rifkind. All the other candidates gave their guarantees that constituents come first. Then, the hapless Cllr Spalding scored a spectacular own goal by mentioning Victoria Borwick’s (unpaid) role as president of the Antique Dealers’ Association – cue shouting from the audience of “ivory”!!

Later a desperate and floundering Spalding topped it all off by just trying to lay into the other parties. The most ridiculous smear he made was on Labour and the Iraq War – well Emma Dent Coad has never been in Parliament to vote on it and Jeremy Corbyn, as everyone well knows, has always opposed it – whoops! Also let it be for THINK to point out that Lady Borwick voted against an inquiry into the Iraq War – staggering!

We at THINK at least got some comedy value out of Cllr Spalding and his desperate attempts to make points culminating in him slipping on one banana skin too many.! THINK cannot decide whether the Tories just chickened out, sensing angry Earls Court residents and a hostile audience ¬†or whether they are just so smug and complacent from having been in power too long, that they ¬†completely disregard ordinary voters and the issues they wish to raise; it doesn’t paint a decent picture of them ¬†either which way ¬†you look at it!

 

 

 

 

Kensington Constituency sees red!

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THINKers were delighted to watch hustings at St John’s church, Notting Hill last Wednesday and watch our parliamentary candidates put their case. Of course, we at THINK back our Labour candidate, Emma Dent Coad (pictured above).

We expected a large turnout and also for Emma to speak well (as always). What we didn’t expect was such a strong backlash from the audience against the Tories! We on virtually all political points, disagree with Victoria Borwick, but also recognise her as a ¬†personable individual who could normally talk her way out of a paper bag. Imagine our surprise to find that she struggled to defend her position on many issues that matter to our community!

On the subject of air pollution, which is a very serious matter to us all, she tried to dodge the facts that she has voted against pollution control measures in the Commons and that her party, unlike Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens, will not commit to a new clean air act, by trying to say that her commitment to pollution control was that her husband (Lord Borwick) carries an air quality control monitor about his person all the time!!! And yes that was met by derisory laughter by the audience. Then there was the issue of social and affordable housing , that she completely dodged by saying “we need to get more people on to the property ladder”. Just how do you do that Lady Borwick, when you need to be earning approximately ¬£90,000 per year to afford so- called affordable housing in our area? ¬†Also, she completely (like our not-so beloved council) neglected the issue of social housing. We just want to point out that many low income and vulnerable and sick people will never be able to get on the “property ladder”! We know what that means; social cleansing – deportation to deprived areas far away for the poor and destruction of our community, that’s what. She rounded off by claiming to have a record of standing up for our community on the council – but as all RBKC residents know, they just asset strip everything away and sell for cut price to vested interests – cue lots of heckling and we did hear ¬†“no you don’t” , “Maxilla” and other things that as a family blog we will not repeat, being shouted out from the audience.

As for the other speakers, the Lib Dem Annabel Mullin the Green and the two independent candidates were all very impressive. But it was Emma Dent Coad, who spoke passionately about her record as a Labour councillor campaining against social cleansing, standing up for the most disadvantaged in our community and also attacked Lady Borwick over her role to do with the ban lifted on the ivory trade (see our “Because voters never forget” post) who really stood out. We will also point out that she is the only North Kensington local candidate and that as we have met her on several occasions, is the real definition of honest, genuine, ¬†non stage-managed politics!

Tonight there are further hustings at St Cuthbert’s church in Earls Court; THINK will be fastening our seatbelts, as no doubt will Victoria Borwick!!!