THINK Halloween Special Part 2: Outside Rock’s House of Horrors

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This is the latest Save Wornington College poster.  For Halloween, THINK decided to pay a  visit to outside Rock Feilding-Mellen’s House of Horrors in Bramley Road.

Maybe it has been the scene of unspeakable nightmares such as drilling holes in heads,  ghastly social cleansing, murky developer deals behind closed doors and ghoulish plans to strip the community of its assets – who knows?

All we know is  that it is dark and gloomy and there doesn’t seem to be anyone there. Maybe it is haunted?

Anyway we noticed that some campaigners had left him a few leaflets from the Save Wornington College campaign on the tree facing his home, and on his doorstep. He is a wanted man. Wanted for questioning by the community over his horrific plans for North Kensington.

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We do not sleep well at night and neither should he.

The Save Wornington College halt the merger demo is on Monday 6th November outside the KCC College in Wornington Road, W10 from 4:30pm-6pm

We recommend that all who care about our community come and join with us there and act as a force for good.

 

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We’ll remind our readers not to have nightmares and have a happy Halloween.

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THINK Halloween Special Part 1: Notting Hill Housing’s Kate Davies: The Wicked Witch of the West

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This is a drawing  of Kate Davies the chief executive of Notting Hill Housing. As regular readers of THINK will know, we are very concerned  about how some housing associations, particularly Notting Hill Housing, are moving away from their once charitable  roots and are indeed now  in fact are in the act of causing further social inequality.

THINK oppose the merger between NHH and Genesis as we agree with many of their residents that bigger is not better and we share residents’ concern with regards to them selling off empty properties that were meant for social housing.

But Kate Davies says: “Bringing together two housing associations  with similar backgrounds, shared values and a strong social purpose  will allow us to provide more of the homes London needs for those who most need them”

Really? We know that NHH are partners in many social cleansing and regeneration projects in various developments around London. We have also  seen properties on sale through NHH for over £1million – so when do we talk about “need” here? We think she means for those who can afford them – not what a housing association is supposed to do in our view. We guess at least NHH and Genesis have shared values in making money out of social cleansing….

And here she is on social housing: “For the one in five household which have secured social housing,  this means low cost living for life funded from the public purse, but often on estates where they would choose not to live. Social housing as it is deployed today is an expensive poorly targeted investment. In short, our approach to providing an affordable home for all is unfair and unsustainable”.

So Kate Davies, is this an admission that NHH will cease to provide social housing? If so, please kindly tell your social housing tenants where they are supposed to live.

We know that many will never be able to afford a home and London’s house prices today, make it impossible for most except the well off  to afford their own home in our part of town. If Kate Davies and her social cleansing cronies think that people should just move out of London if they can’t afford to live here, we will just remind them of where most of the jobs are and of what their duties as a housing association ought to be – providing decent social and genuinely affordable homes in the community  – that’s what.

If Kate Davies wants to talk about questionable publicly subsidised money, then we can mention her partner. Nick Johnson who was retired as chief executive of Bexley council as was supposedly deemed “permanently unfit” to work  and was on £50,000  a year sick pay,  who within weeks of “retirement” became a consultant for Hammersmith and Fulham council earning £200,000 a year!

And here she is again: “The Government recognises that engaging residents is important, but we do not think that local control of neighbourhoods or representation on boards is what social tenants want”

Ms Davies  probably thinks that people like her partner Nick Johnson should be making all the vital decisions for social tenants and get paid a hefty sum for doing so. She clearly doesn’t know what social tenants want because most NHH tenants that THINK has spoken to do not want the merger with Genesis to go ahead.

Kate Davies also goes on Twitter sometimes too:

Stressed? Well how do think most of your residents feel Kate?  Especially when your organisation is involved in social cleansing and is selling off empty social housing properties rather than offering them to tenants?

And back in 2015 she came out with a truly sickening statement: “And in housing, we need two things. Either we need an appalling fire where some beautiful young children die, or a riot. We have to get people to feel differently about housing. Now you see a dead baby on the beach in Turkey and the attitude to refugees changes overnight”

Well this was two years before Grenfell but excuse us while we pick our jaws up off the floor for a minute. As well as the absolutely tasteless reference to  the tragic death of 3 year old  Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in Turkey back then. We are truly appalled and nearly speechless.

THINK say that it is time  this Wicked Witch of the West  flew away on her broomstick and let  the NHH residents have a say in the organisation and its future.

(Many thanks to Listen NHH campaigners for the drawing and the references by the way.)

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Blog posts and then some…… Ruby Lott -Lavigna named and shamed

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It has come to THINK’s attention that one unscrupulous excuse for a journalist has been using our blog posts as a base for an article without even bothering to credit us!! She was directly messaged by one of us, only to completely fail to respond!

We can now name and shame – step forward Ruby Lott-Lavigna, who wrote this for the New Statesman back in June :

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/06/my-constituency-kensington-breaking-point-no-wonder-it-voted-labour%3famp

Deja vu? Well yes take a look at our previous posts here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/victoria-borwick-mp-and-the-half-baked-truth/

Also here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/emma-dent-coad-is-our-mp-for-kensington-constituency-a-victory-for-the-people/

Note the unfortunate date of her “article” (a day before the Grenfell Tower fire)  . Well if someone is going to at least pretend to be a voice of our community, they can at least bother to talk about Grenfell Tower and the trauma and suffering that we are going through, plus the many questions we have that are yet to be answered.

Note that there were also more than two lots of hustings, so why would Ms Lott-Lavigna only think there were two? Because our blog  only covered two – that’s why! Here they are:

:https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/kensington-constituency-sees-red/

and

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/hustings-victoria-does-a-theresa-may-and-so-do-most-of-her-colleagues/

When our blog does use sources, we at least have the decency and respect for others to credit them. We have done so with the Grenfell Action Group, From The Hornets Nest, Save Earl’s Court and Red Brick. All are excellent blogs and campaigning groups and we highly recommend them to all.

All THINK want is to be fairly credited and not for our pieces to be used and quite frankly, abused for someone else’s  supposed journalistic embellishment. We put this post up both as a warning to anyone else thinking of trying the same thing and with a warning to others that in future we will take legal action against anyone who uses our blog and fails to credit their source.

As for Ruby Lott-Lavigna or whoever she is, we know who most of the movers and shakers  are in North Kensington and we do not recognise her to be one of our own. No meetings, no campaign groups and no activism – just downright lazy journalism.

 

Do not trust the RBKC Tories: Be like Bert

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This lovely dog is Bert. He is very friendly and calm even in big crowds and always gives THINK a warm welcome.

The same cannot be said for the RBKC Tories, as Bert once bit Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader of RBKC and ripped his trousers!

No, we do not remotely advocate biting the RBKC Tories and ripping their clothing, but THINK believe that Bert’s canine instinct is spot on; we do not buy Kim Taylor-Smith’s “Mr Nice Guy” Act for one minute.

Recently Cllr Taylor-Smith was at the Wornington College consultation meeting, in which he implied that it was a choice between a college and social housing. Well, no actually, Tailored-Sloth, let’s remind everyone of the shortage of social housing in the borough, of the council who have been in charge here for longer than enough and of who has failed to address that particular problem…..

After that meeting he told some others who went up to talk to him that he “retired at 50 because I worked really hard” . Well what about second chances for the less fortunate in life who are not as privileged as you, Tailored-Sloth? What about some of those affected by Grenfell who will need this College to help rebuild their lives?

And then more recently Kim Taylor-Smith did an interview with ITV News, in which he tried to imply that the flats they propose to be built on the Wornington site will be social housing.

Wait a minute – they supposedly haven’t made a decision yet! Maybe Tailored-Sloth thinks it is just good PR to make sweet noises to the camera and hope that Grenfell and the long term inequalities in the north of the borough will just go away – they won’t.

If that isn’t bad enough, he actually said “affordable” then he quickly corrected himself to “social” (after probably just waking up and realising what he was doing). Let us remind Tailored-Sloth and his chums that most people in London struggle to afford so-called “affordable housing” , so luxury flats it is then.

If more unaffordable flats for absentee investors with a couple of token ones with a separate poor door entry is supposed to be their answer to social inequality here, we believe they really have lost the plot

A small handful of people around here seem to believe that Kim Taylor-Smith is genuine. We, like Bert, who has according to his owner, never bitten anyone and even likes the postman, do not.

THINK say to our readers; be like Bert and do not be fooled by their makeshift kind words, supposedly affable manner and informal chit chat. THINK do not trust these people one inch. You give them an inch and they take a mile – and they have been doing this for far too long and only have their own interests at heart.

Kim Taylor- Smith is still wearing the now-ripped trousers by the way.

Nick Piglet-Pie heads for the exit but keeps a foot in the door……

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This is our former leader of the Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Nick “Piglet-Pie” Paget-Brown.

We call him this because of his being less than truthful when still leader about sprinklers and residents in a BBC Newsnight interview after Grenfell here:

What else did Piglet-Pie do as leader? Preside over plans to socially cleanse parts of the north of the borough while ignoring concerns and complaints from ordinary residents and also receive one of the highest salaries as a council leader for doing so. ignored fire warnings  about Grenfell Tower before the disaster from the Grenfell Action Group and other residents of the Tower and after the fire, presided over a delayed and inedequate response from RBKC which only further exacerbated the trauma suffered by Grenfell victims, their families and many others in the North Kensington local community.

His career as RBKC  leader soon came to an end after the  sorry debacle of a cabinet meeting which he brought to a halt after a High Court ruling allowed journalists in. See here:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/kensington-council-boss-nicholas-pagetbrown-faces-growing-pressure-to-quit-over-grenfell-a3576841.html

So after he resigned, he set up a consulting firm, NPB Consultants,  for  local authorities to work with organisations.

Well we at  THINK believe that Piglet-Pie is one of the last people that other local authorities should wish to consult. His firm supposedly offers seminars, briefings, policy analysis  and drafting assistance. His firm also did state that they offered “strategic  communications”  – which if we weren’t still so angry and traumatised by the council’s response after Grenfell, would imagine to be some terrible excuse for a joke. This has since been removed from his profile.

Nick Paget-Brown has also now announced that he will not be seeking re-election as a councillor next May.  We guess he will be spending more time with his lawyers, but the thing is, he is still a councillor. As he has not been in attendance at recent council meetings (along with former Deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen) THINK believe that if he really had any  shred of decency left, he would resign as a councillor too.

We are long  used to him ignoring North Kensington residents, but now he is apparently ignoring his ward constituents in Bronpton and Hans Town Ward  in the more affluent south of the borough  by staying on, accepting a salary and not giving them adequate local representation by not turning up at meetings.

THINK believe that Piglet-Pie  and Feilding-Mellen’s constituents (his are in Holland Ward) deserve full and fair representation and that it is a disgrace to them and to all RBKC taxpayers that these two are “invisible councillors” who think that it is perfectly acceptable to hold on to their backbench jobs and still take a councillors’ salary, while doing next to nothing for their electors and not even  bothering to attend the Town Hall for meetings and votes.

The photo of him  with the microphone above comes from one of his “Ask Nick” sessions that were held when he was leader in which members of the public put various local issues to him  though he appears to us to be singing “My Way” on karaoke in it – which is the sort of crazy response we’d  not be entirely surprised to get  from them.

We’ll “Ask Nick” to resign as a councillor and we’ll “Ask Rock” too…….

THINK and many other residents of the Rotten Borough have had  more than enough of this bad joke of a council  and we will ask people to sign our petition to get Government to put the commisioners in to sort out this whole sorry incompetent mess:

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

(Maybe Nick Piglet-Pie, now he will have more than enough time on his hands, would like to watch the video below to get some karaoke practice?)

 

 

Notting Hill Housing and Genesis: Residents say no to the merger!

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This is Kate Davies, Chief Executive of Notting Hill Housing.

In our previous blog post, we highlighted how Notting Hill Housing (along with some other housing associations) in their housing policies  have moved far away from the charitable organisations that they were initially set up to be.

It has been brought to our attention by many residents of both Notting Hill Housing and Genesis that the planned merger will lead to more social cleansing carried out with the likely outcome of their properties in or near our (highly priced) area of London sold off to generate more revenue, as well as tenants and leaseholders facing exorbitant rent hikes.

As for Genesis, they are another housing association that has formed out of mergers of Paddington Churches Housing Association (PCHA),  Pathmeads and Springboard housing associations.

Genesis, like NHH, are also partners in several social cleansing projects in other parts of London, such as Grahame Park in Colindale, northwest London, Woodberry Down in Manor House, north London and Oaklands (part of the Old Oak regeneration project) which is only a couple of miles from us in west London. All of these projects have or will have less social housing provided than before.

Some have seen Notting Hill Housing (NHH)  and Genesis properties locally being sold off, rather than offered as social housing. Yes NHH  claim  that they need to generate revenue – but we have pointed out before that together, NHH and Genesis are sitting on £3billion in reserves (which makes The Rotten Borough of Kensington. And Chelsea’s £274million look like peanuts in comparison).

We do not trust these organisations, those in charge of them or their motives for going ahead with this merger and neither do many of their residents. Indeed  the future  aims of these two big beasts of housing association appear to be  increasingly raking in huge profits from sales and rents of unaffordable properties rather than providing social and genuinely affordable housing – a stark contrast to their humble beginnings and the charitable aims of the original founders.

THINK agree with the residents that bigger is not better when it comes to housing associations. Readers of our previous post can hear about how NHH has lost touch with its charitable roots and has turned into more of a profit-making corporate giant, out of touch with the views and wellbeing of many of its residents and more concerned with flogging off its more expensive properties and  awarding executives fat cat salaries. This situation will only worsen if the merger goes ahead, particularly as Genesis may not be in such great financial shape – rated negative by independent credit rating Moody’s

There is a meeting for NHH and Genesis residents on Saturday 28th October at the Church of St Mary, St Mary’s Square, London W2 at 1pm.

We urge all concerned residents of both these housing associations to vote against the merger and to go there and make your voices heard.

See the Listen NHH website here:

https://listen-nhh.org/

See the Genesis Residents website here:

http://genesisresidents.org.uk/

 

There is also a “NO to the NHH/Genesis merger” protest at The Homes Conference  at Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London W14 onWednesday 22nd November between 8:30am-11am. Some THINKers will be there and we recommend that everyone  who cares about our community and the  future provision of housing for all to join us!

We’ll leave you with some videos of NHH and Genesis residents and supporters protesting :

 

Notting Hill Housing: where has the “Trust” gone?

 

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This is the Reverend Bruce Kenrick who founded Notting Hill Housing Trust back in the 1960s. He was concerned about poorer families in our local area and the conditions they were living in.

Back then he set up the trust as he was appalled at the living conditions m which the poorest had to exist. Many of the poor in our area back then had little choice but to live in cramped, overcrowded and squalid accommodation. Kenrick wrote that “What struck me painfully was the extent to which people’s problems stemmed from damnable housing conditions. Marriages broke up because one or other partner could no longer stand the strain of living in one room with a stove and sink squeezed in to one corner”.

He started raising funds (at one point in a stall in Portobello Road Market)  to buy up dilapidated properties in the area at auction, renovate them and then  let them out as decent social housding for many in less privileged circumstances.. In 1966 Reverend Kenrick also set up housing charity Shelter.

Sadly Notting Hill Housing, they dropped the “Trust” in recent times – which says a lot – are  like many other housing associations (such as Genesis, Octavia, Affinity Sutton,  Family Mosaic and many more) are now  very  far removed now from what they were originally set up to be.

NHH’s current chief executive is Kate Davies. She takes a salary of around £200,000 a year. She has deceived council estates as “ghettos of needy people” . Oh wait Ms Davies, isn’t it your supposed remit to help house some of those who are in need? But then she has been a “fellow” of Iain Duncan Smith’s right wing think tank,  and we know that IDS  shows very little compassion for the poor.

Steve Hilditch a former NHH board member from 2002-08 resigned over the policies of NHH under Kate Davies. In an article he wrote on the Red Brick blog he says “provision of social rented homes was downgraded in priority, there were moves into making tenancies conditional (e.g. on seeking work) whilst more and more effort went into shared ownership and private development.

Also now there is an emphasis (thanks to policies of certain Tory governments), on “affordable rent” (80% of market rate) – unaffordable to most.

See the excellent Red Brick blog here:

https://redbrickblog.wordpress.com/

Yes shared ownership, one of the focuses of Kate Davies and NHH appears to be something that can work out for young soon to be high flyers who are just starting out in their careers, but for  many others it can be unsuitable. Some can even be trapped in a situation where they are paying roughly the same as they would under a mortgage, are subject to the rules of the housing  association and have no means if other parts of the building are in disrepair (such as a leaky roof for example) , of being able to enforce the housing association to make the  necessary repairs.

And yes, Notting Hill Housing is a partner in many  “regeneration” social cleansing projects  such as Sweets Way, the Aylesbury Estate, as well as selling off its own  empty properties in the market that were intended for social rent.

THINK sadly believe that these orchestrated  sell offs land grabs by investors in which several local authorities and housing associations are involved in not only push the poorest out of their communities, but also contribute to pricing many ordinary Londoners out too.

NHH’s “core strategy of providing housing for those who cannot otherwise afford it”? Well they are selling homes over over £1 million, so we don’t exactly know if any  of the supposed people they are supposed to be helping who can exactly afford that.

So with their focus being on ownership and shared ownership, is it too much to ask where they expect those on lower incomes and those who are unable to work to live?

As it is the minimum housing space for a “flat” is just 32 square metres, so there are very obvious concerns about peoples living conditions returning to those of the days before NHH and other associations were set up. We also happen to know a number of families living in cramped and/or overcrowded living conditions under NHH, which are continually ignored by the association. We believe that NHH have completely forgotten their origins altogether and are now real players in the act of actually bringing back  and perpetuating some of the impoverished living conditions which they were set up to combat in the first place.

As for Notting Hill Housing’s original  founder, Reverend Bruce Kenrick passed away in 2007. THINK do not believe that he would at all approve of  Kate Davies and co wrecking his legacy  of a charitable housing organisation and turning it into something of a corporate beast, moving  away from its roots and  his cause of  providing decent housing to those who cannot afford it and instead concentrating their efforts on social cleansing and selling off properties to the wealthy in more affluent areas at the real expense of those who need it most.

As for charitable efforts, after Grenfell, many in our local community from Grenfell Tower and nearby urgently needed housing as our council has a severe shortage of it. But what did Kate Davies and NHH do ? They  delayed and waited alongside other housing associations (“registered housing providers”) for extra public money from RBKC to  the tune of £40million before offering to house survivors. Read this excellent blog post from the Grenfell Action Group here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/housing-associations-cash-in-on-grenfell-tragedy/

We believe Reverend Kenrick will be turning in his grave…….

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

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

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

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

TMO AGM adjourned for now: get the commissioners in

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

The voting results?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We believe that all social housing, particularly estates, such as North Kensington’s Silchester Estate  (which has also been under threat of regeneration before) and Chelsea’s World’s End Estate (there has long been talk –  and we hope these are just rumours – about World’s End possibly being under threat of regeneration too) would be highly attractive to a housing association hoping to make a nice profit from such a scheme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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