Andrew “Bully Beef” Foster is chair of the Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservative party and is something of an unknown quantity to many – even some longstanding members of his local party.
Many have wondered who he is and questioned as to why he keeps a very low profile. Well we might have the answers to that……
Mr Foster is not unknown to THINKers however. One of us had an encounter with him before at local elections hustings back in April at Fox Primary School, Kensington’s when he lost his temper and aggressively shouted at her over use of a dictaphone to record a public meeting. He also very rude to some Advance supporters and shouted at them. when they only got out their cameras to take pictures of their candidates!
At that meeting, there did appear to be a hidden agenda of some to keep Grenfell and questions about it out of the meeting and being very careful as to whose questions were asked.
But before then, some of us attended hustings at St Cuthbert’s in Earl’s Court. One of us was asked to not take pictures at the meeting. We later found out that this was just because “Bully Beef ” had asked for recording and photographs at this public meeting to be banned. Now we can understand some members of the public wishing not to be filmed, but we were only taking pictures of the panel!
Just who does this tyrant think he is ? Too bad for “Bully Beef” that THINK managed to take a few photographs there anyway:
(Andrew Foster is circled in blue)
We note below that Liberal Democrat councillor for Earl’s Court, Linda Wade (circled in yellow) had also spotted what “Bully Beef” was up to – yes here he is caught on camera planting questions!
And here below is Foster handing in the questions (and his antics also appeared to had been spotted by Liberal Democrat candidate Carmel McLoughlin – to the left of Cllr Wade – also circled in yellow)
Some did wonder why certain people were immediately picked to ask questions when others had their hands up for ages and why Lib Dem Cllr Wade and her colleagues were getting an undeserved rough ride (which they handled very well) from a few individuals at the meeting.
One THINKer also attending hustings at St Luke’s Hall, Chelsea was surprised to see that rising Labour star and candidate for Chelsea Riverside, Lorna Sherlock, had been ejected from the panel and replaced with a “paper” candidate who was completely unprepared! We did wonder if this was the work of Foster again.
Some may wonder why THINK are bringing up old blog posts and photographs here , well because in the best interests of democracy and transparency, we thought we would that others might be interested in his ” party tricks” and his bullying nature because many of his own party supporters do not appear to know much about him and this may concern some given that he is producing the shortlist of Conservative candidates for Kensington constituency………
Notting Hill Carnival was back and we thought we would share a special blog picture we made above, giving a special THINK “Carnival makeover” to some local Labour councillors in North Kensington! (Left to right: Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Emma Dent Coad MP, Cllr Sina Lari and Cllr Monica Press).
Sunday was rainy but the weather did not dampen people’s spirits and it was wonderful to see so many people out enjoying themselves and taking in the sights and sounds of Carnival. Thankfully yesterday the rain had gone and on both days a great time was had by many.
(Sadly our photography skills do not quite match up to our photoshop efforts, but thankfully some friends allowed us to share some pictures!)
Our special thanks to local residents and friends Melanie Coles, Norma Buddle and Carmen Puget for sharing their wonderful pictures of Carnival with us and to everyone who took part and made this a special day despite the rain.
We thank the organisers for a wonderful Carnival and also Sophie Lodge and everyone who helped turn Ladbroke Grove into a Tropical Avenue for the Carnival too.
Our thanks also to Toby Laurent Belson who helped to turn some of our local buildings Green for Grenfell and all who helped maintain and ensure others respect the quiet areas around Grenfell Tower and the memorials.
At 3pm on both days, a 72 second silence for Grenfell was held.
Of course, these positive and powerful pictures that show people coming coming together to celebrate Carnival should also serve as a notice to some who do not have the best intentions for this community that this blog and our many friends in and around here will do everything we can to campaign for this area and all that is positive, diverse and special about North Kensington.
THINK are back after a short break and feeling positively energised by the happy, creative, and fun atmosphere radiated by the Carnival, we will do everything we can to support our wonderful, vibrant and multicultural community – and campaign and blog and defend the interests of North Kensington, Ladbroke Grove and our friends in neighbouring communities with full force.
RBKC the Government , developers , consultants and any other forces of potential destruction be warned!!
Last year, the Grenfell Recovery Task force was set up by then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.
One of its tasks was to “support the council to significantly improve housing management including addressing weaknesses in the tenant management organisation”
Well this might appear to be old news, but one of the four members of the Grenfell Recovery Taskforce is Chris Wood (pictured as a cat above). Mr Wood has previously been Chief Executive at Newham council.
In 2011, David Cameron’s Government introduced the Localism Act which among many things, gave local authorities “Power of Competence” to generally enable them to do anything that an individual can do unless specifically prohibited by law. The Act allowed councils to set up their own housing companies with power to borrow to build homes with caps restricted and power over setting tenure and rents. This has enabled councils to set up their own commercial residential housing companies.
Just as we have seen the ever increasing pattern of some housing associations moving from their once commendable and charitable roots in providing housing to people in need, and instead moving on to develop housing for profit at the real expense of those most in need, this has been happening with some other local authorities too.
Chris Wood is Chair of Red Door Ventures. This is the commercial residential company wholly owned by Newham council. RDV was lauded back in 2014 by controversial then Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales as a way of providing desperately needed homes in the borough. Actually many of the homes that RDV ended up providing were not to those who desperately needed them and was more concentrated on chasing profit (this was around the same time Newham was trying force residents in social housing not only outside the borough, but also outside London.
Red Door Ventures has now been placed on “review” by Wales’ successor (after he was deselected), recently elected Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz.
Mr Wood was also chief executive of London Borough of Ealing’s Ealing Homes for a short time and also a board member at Meridian, the housing company of Greenwich Council which lets out most of its’ properties at 80% of market rent. Not exactly helping those most in need of a home then.
In fact all of these local authority companies that Wood has been involved with in recent times have had or are working on regeneration plans which are moving away from social rent into the misnomer of “affordable” rent and shared ownership schemes.
Chris Wood is also group director of Altair Ltd a management, housing and finance consultancy.
Chris has worked in consultancy for 10 years with numerous local authorities and a broad range of public and private sector housing organisations on strategic regeneration planning, asset management and capital programme delivery.
Prior to working in consultancy he held Director of Housing posts in two London boroughs and was the CEO of the London Borough of Newham.
Recent projects that Chris has been involved in include:
▪ Establishing and running a commercial build to rent company for a London Borough
▪ Devising merger and acquisition strategies for two large RPs operating in the South East
▪ Lead residential adviser on ‘Project Riyadh’ for the Saudi Municipality
▪ New development business opportunities for private sector clients in London and the North West
▪ Assisting in the registration of an Essex-based for-profit RP
▪ Providing private rental sector strategies for RPs and property developers”
And for anyone still in doubt as to the motives of Wood and his colleagues can read Altair’s report on ALMOs here :
THINK know that RBKC – who aren’t exactly regarded as “competent” in their handling of social housing to say the least – already has its own housing development company and it is fair to assume that some are looking to Chris Wood and his “ventures” for some directions in where to take this council next.
Last year our blog posted about the regeneration in Tower Hamlets and how we though that a similar thing could happen here:
Back when Mr Wood and his Grenfell taskforce colleagues were appointed to their posts last year, some residents were unhappy that they would be based at Kensington Town Hall, rather than near Grenfell, around the Lancaster West Estate, a real concern of some was about the taskforce members being not very well acquainted with the local community and the issues here.
Mr Wood may not be all that familiar with our community but he is not so unfamiliar with some at Kensington Town Hall – his other half is Lesley Seary, who is now Chief Executive at Islington Council. Prior to that she was at Lewisham Council, under our now current RBKC Chief Executive Barry Quirk.
Also, Head of Strategy at Lewisham Council under Barry Quirk and around the same time Ms Seary was there, was Robyn Fairman – who is now at RBKC as Executive Director of the Grenfell Team – how very cosy this all seems…..
THINK believe that Chris Wood’s involvement here points to one thing. With refurbishment on some parts of the Lancaster West Estate being needed and there being some talk of some regeneration plus Mr Wood’s involvement with the taskforce, THINK are highly concerned aa to what possible ideas for regenerating the estate Mr Wood and some at both the Government and RBKC may have in mind…..
Looking at RBKC’s general reluctance to take the management of the housing of former TMO properties in the borough back “in house” in the traditional form of council housing should really give others all across the Rotten Borough real cause for concern that a much bigger role for the commercial company and collaborations with other commercial partners plus housing associations will likely be on the cards.
Former RBKC Leader Nick Paget-Brown and his former Deputy, Rock Feilding-Mellen once had regeneration plans in mind for North Kensington and while Nick and Rock’s political careers may be dead in the water, the same ideas and notions sadly are not. We believe our local community is still very much under threat.
Under the powers of the Localism Act many local authorities and Kensington and Chelsea in particular simply cut their council housing waiting lists simply by removing many people from the list and changing the rules and criteria for eligibility to be housed there . RBKC’s rules now mean that tenants placed out of the borough for more than two years will then come under the responsibility of the council where they are placed and RBKC will not house them.
Not only could fixed term tenants (after the same Cameron Government put an end to lifetime tenancies) be affected, but other residents could lose their lifetime secure tenancies under changes of rules that could come about. This has already happened to many under other regeneration schemes in London. The lack of space on which to build new homes and the lack of temporary homes available in RBKC means that some residents could very likely be moved out for good.
Ironically, if similar regeneration projects to Mr Wood’s previous activities with an emphasis on housing for profit (which would more than likely have got the nod of approval from “Nick Piglet- Pie” and “Jailhouse Rock” ) end up going ahead here, these quite possibly will be made behind closed doors at even around the same time there will be difficult questions over Nick and Rock’s roles in North Kensington, regeneration and Grenfell at the Inquiry in the full glare of the public.
On Wednesday we posted about how the TMO in what we can only describe as some sort of moment of madness, decided to hold a drop in session (one of only two, and the only one in North Kensington), on the same day and at the same time as the Grenfell Silent Walk. Our post here:
They have agreed to arrange to hold a drop-in session on another day and on another time – good. We did ask for a public apology but we have still not received one. They have apologised directly to a few people and groups who have contacted them, but this is not good enough. They owe all affected a public statement and apology. Why should we as traumatised residents living around the corner from Grenfell, have to chase them up to get them to do this?
And as for them being selective and making individual replies, this just reminds us of their attitude prior to Grenfell; cherry picking residents and residents’ associations of their choice to listen to and work with and then leaving others out in the cold.
Anyway THINK has decided to write an open email to Interim General Manager of the TMO, Andrew Taylor and demand a public apology – not to us or to a few people, but to all in and around our community who have been upset by their ridiculous, ignorant and distasteful (to say the least) decision to hold the drop-in session at the same time as the Silent Walk. We will of course, post the response and here, below, is our open email:
Dear Mr Taylor,
As you might have heard, many in and around our community of North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove were upset, shocked, insulted and outraged by the decision by the TMO to hold one of the two drop in sessions (the one in North Kensington) on the same day and at the same time as the Grenfell Silent Walk.
As yet, nobody from the TMO has issued a public apology for this – this is unacceptable to say the least.
You will understand that not only is the 14th of every month a very difficult day for many people around here anyway, but it is extremely insulting to those most affected as some people here believe that the actions or inactions of some of the executives, senior managers and senior board members at the TMO were partly responsible for what happened at Grenfell Tower.
Also members unable to make the drop-in session, which was the only one organised in North Kensington were also unable to make it to the one on the following day, due to it being held some distance away in World’s End, Chelsea.
The fact that the only drop-in session in our locality was held at such an inappropriate time has also led some to question whether there was a hidden agenda on behalf of your organisation to deliberately exclude residents from North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove from having their say.
We not only ask but demand that the TMO issues a public statement and apology right away – not to us at THINK, not to a select few individuals or groups, but to everyone affected by Grenfell.
We ask that the TMO please organise another drop in session, at a more appropriate date and time at the same location or somewhere nearby and also that your organisation takes dates and times into consideration before any further meetings or events are held in future.
Yesterday, 14 months on our community again came together for the Grenfell Silent Walk. It is sad to say that as time gets on, it doesn’t get any easier for us, but the one reassurance we do have is that our community is strong and supportive and we will remember the people we have lost, and we will continue to campaign for justice .together.
Here are just a few pictures taken yesterday:
Here is a composition “Grenfell In Memoriam” by friend of THINK, Bruno Diantantou (and thank you to Bruno for sharing this with us)
Sadly, as some will have seen from our previous post, there are some who either appear to be unaware, not to care or to forget or to wish to forget – let our community keep reminding them. Coping with this on top of the disaster can sometimes really take a toll on us. So this year for the second time, THINK have decided to hold our second art competition.
So here it is: the THINK “Your North Kensington” Art Competition:
Do get creative and send us pictures your work ( paintings , drawings photography, , embroidery, sculpture ) – absolutely anything that you believe feel sums up our beautiful diverse vibrant local area – to firstname.lastname@example.org
The competition is open to all ages and the winner will receive £50 (plus a blog post of course!) The competition will close on the 16th of September.
The Grenfell main picture on our post was designed by our very well-deserved competition winner Karimah Bint Dawoud. We felt that Karimah’s work really summed up this community and we thank her for sharing her work with us.
We very much look forward to seeing your work – our community speaks with many voices but together we are one and united.
Yes, for those not in the know the TMO still exists and its’ function now is to comply with the Inquiry and with other legal claims – and it is not responsible for current management of our social housing – which is in the hands of RBKC (for now) .
RBKC/TMO tenants and leaseholders have been sent a document regarding the future of the TMO. Here is the link:
Now THINK have our own views regarding several points in this document, but we were utterly shocked and disgusted to see when one of the two drop-in sessions for their residents was. Unbelievably (or perhaps not so) the session in the north of the borough (at Portobello Community Centre) was for yesterday the 14th of August at the same time as the Grenfell Silent Walk – disgraceful.
We do not know who was responsible for such a dreadful decision, whether they are in fact stupid, or ignorant or just do not care about residents (or all the above ) – either way the person responsible for this should resign right now.
There is only one more drop-in session scheduled for this evening – in Chelsea from 6:30- 8:30pm at World’s End Community Centre, 16 Blantyre Street, London SW10 OEH.
Short notice but we would encourage all resident TMO members who can make it to go along and make their voices heard.
Members can also write to the TMO and submit their views at
KCTMO, 346 Kensington High Street,
Kensington, London W14 8NS
The TMO have indicated they wish to hear what members have to say as this will form part of the final changes for proposals for the EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) which is planned for Thursday 27th September.
To us this appalling scheduling for a drop-in session on the 14th just looks like yet another case of poor treatment by the TMO towards residents in North Kensington.
THINK believe it is important for all TMO members to have their say. We also demand that the TMO management issue a public apology and that they reschedule a new drop-in session in the north of the borough forthwith.
Some THINKers will be going along to a meeting today at 6:30pm at St Mary The Boltons, The Boltons, London SW10 9TB
We urge all residents who have concerns about the proposed development to come along.
Yes it’s all about the money that these greedy overseas developers hope to make and THINK have also been doing some digging and will very much have something more to say on some associates of the developers who appear to think nothing of blighting residents with dust, noise, pollution and health risks for eight years and we will have some very interesting information to share with our readers anothwr time
But for now we are off to the meeting and to do what we think our council should be doing and listening listening to local residents.
This is a scene from the Planning Committee meeting yesterday evening at Kensington Town Hall when members of the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW) representing the striking cleaners outside the Town Hall today turned up there.
We know that some in the council may not support the cleaning staff going on strike, but we believe they do an outstanding job, deserve to be paid the London Living Wage at the least and if anyone thinks it is a good point to criticise these dedicated and hard working people; we doubt that their critics could exist on less than £9 an hour.
Earlier this afternoon , THINKers had been down there to show our support and we had heard something of what would have been very good news later in the day that RBKC were going to take their cleaning services back in-house (the cleaners are employed by constructor Amey – net worth over £2 billion) .
Our council had supposedly issued a statement about this and hinted to some sort of consideration that they would bring the council’s cleaning services back in house; but then then they retracted it! Words fail us sometimes…
This is no way for ANY local authority to act and we wonder whose fault it was this time – the Leadership or the “communications” (PR”) team, or both? As well as improving pay and conditions for staff, we believe that further staff improvements to the council need to be made, and whoever is behind giving misleading statements and playing games really ought to be dismissed right away.
Of course, THINK have spotted someone in the picture (far left) who is not.a member or supporter of the cleaners and UVW – why it’s THINK “regular” ,Cabinet member for Enterprise and Skills, Cllr Catherine “Lady False” Faulks!!
Apparently Lady False had said that she had supported the strike – well good – and agreed to commit to get the Leadership Team to meet the UVW on the picket line tomorrow morning – let’s hope so. . Maybe a victory is in sight?
But if it is, we hope that Lady False will not have the false modesty to claim this as some victory of her own – if it is a success it will be because of these workers, standing up and making their voices heard powerfully.
If RBKC Tories suddenly do decide to act after ignoring them for a considerable amount of time, this will be a good result, but can remind others that it was because of Tory council policies to contract out the services to companies like Amey that caused this situation in the first place.
THINK can also show those who are interested in RBKC communications just how she has reacted to ordinary North Kensington residents on Twitter after once having a tasteless row on there with us (over Grenfell Tower and Maxilla) and also obviously being unhappy with a few of our previous blog posts about her:
Above and below are some scenes of the cleaners’ strike at Kensington Town Hall.
THINKers came down to the Town Hall to support them. We believe that this culture of contracting out of our services with an end result of contractors like Amey cashing in and making millions at the expense of the lowest paid workers
Our local Kensington MP and. RBKC Labour councillor for Golborne, Emma Dent Coad was supporting them too.
Here is an article she wrote for the Huffington Post:
Labour councillor for Golborne Cllr Pat Mason was also at the Town Hall to give his support. Here is a picture of him giving a television interview outside:
Labour group leader Cllr Robert Atkinson had sent THINK a statement :”Labour Councillors and supporters have campaigned for decent wages and conditions for all who work for the council for many years. Initially the Tory Councillor supporters of the unbridled free market treated our concerns with scorn and ignored the evidence under their noses that many of our workers could not live off the wages paid by the council. But as even Tories like George Osborne gradually realised the justice and benefits of paying the Living Wage , RBKC dragged their feet. Last year they bowed to our pressure and finally agreed to pay the London living wage to the few people the council directly employs . But stubbornly the new Tory Council has washed its hands of the starvation wages that its subcontractors (such as Amey)continue to pay. This is why we must all support the current strike action and all Trades Union activities to secure for everyone wages that allow all people to live decently of the fruits of their labours”.
Well this is very good to see and hear from the Labour side of RBKC – but of course they are the opposition! As for the Conservatives, Emma’s article says back in 2011 former Tory councillor and then- cabinet member for finance (who held on to nearly £300 million council reserves) Warwick Lightfoot said “it is the role of national Government through the social security system to top up earnings in relation to family circumstances”
So Mr Lightfoot expected taxpayers to pick up the bill for greedy multinational companies underpaying their workers? But of course the low paid could never expect much support from him anyway. Here is an old video of then leader Nick Paget-Brown and a seemingly “well refreshed” Cllr Lightfoot overturning a Labour and Lib Dem motion to fund a new foodbank in RBKC after the borough’s existing one was closed :
“Liquid Lunch” is no longer on the council (he was deselected) but he is sometimes around North Kensington by many locals (usually staggering around Portobello Road and Ladbroke Grove ) . Here is our mock up picture of this shameful soul;
Labour councillors’ attempts to introduce motions in support of the cleaners have also previously received this response from former Tory Mayor and former Tory councillor for Abingdon Ward until 2016 , Joanna Gardner:””There are good reasons for believing that a London Living Wage could have a negative impact on the levels of employment which are critical to our national recovery” Gardner had also argued that many of the cleaners may have a second job or have family members bringing in additional wages – that’s right Joanna Gardner, they’re really raking it in and living in the lap of luxury!
She deserves an appropriate picture from us for that:
Yes both Lightfoot and Gardner may no longer be on the council – but we will remind people that some of the councillors who voted against the Labour motions and who contracted out services are still here -and that our leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell has past form over this
Pictured on the right (as the “Grim Reaper”) is Robyn Fairman. She is Executive Director for the Grenfell Team at RBKC.
Pictured on the left (holding the axe) is Sheila Durr. She is the Director for Communities and People at the Grenfell Team. Back in a post January, we reported on RBKC attempting to get rid of night services before Christmas at Notting Hill Methodist Church for local residents who are traumatised after Grenfell – utterly heartless.
See our post from back then on the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee (which briefly mentions Sheila Durr) here:
Last week a joint statement was issued by RBKC and CNWL (Central North West London NHS) that the night service would be moving from the Church on the 1st of August. The statement did not give much information and it was only seen by a handful of locals. In fact some turned up to the Church that night to find it closed.
Of course one reason that some responsible for these decisions may give for axing the night service is that they may think not a lot of residents are making use of it. But then we can remind them that they have in fact refused to advertise this properly (since last year) so quite a lot of locals have not known about these services.
This statement also said that they were “working closely with the Notting Dale Advisory Group”. Really? Oh wait, surely they mean the “Residents’ Advisory Board” ? That is not what we have heard from local residents – we would dust off one of our Piglet-Pie awards to give RBKC for this, but this really is no laughing matter.
Anyway here is some good news that they have done a U-turn – we have received this statement from Grenfell Support saying that the night service will not be moving from Monday 6th August as was previously advertised –
Let’s just hope this information is accurate and we are pleased the service is safe for now anyway.
One thing, which as local residents who live directly in the area can tell the council about us that many of us in the area get distressed by helicopters flying around here as this happened on the morning of the fire and many of us get distressed and end up reliving it all over again as a result.
While we accept that neither Ms Fairman nor Ms Durr might be in much of a position to personally do something about this, we can tell them that last week, there were a few incidents of a helicopter flying around Grenfell Tower around 2am in the morning. This caused much distress to many local residents in the community in the small hours and has also been filmed by a few people. Local residents are suffering further trauma because of this and rather than bother to listen to us; their agenda appears to be to find ways of cutting us off
As neither Robyn Fairman, Sheila Durr or in fact the vast majority of their colleagues actually live in North Kensington, let THINK tell them that a night service is required (many people around here are still suffering from PTSD, sleep disorders and depression among other conditions) and that the least they can do in their supposed positions is to listen to this community and act upon our needs – still we are not seeing much evidence of this.
Also regarding services for traumatised residents, RBKC fail to notify most of this community regularly about which services are available at The Curve through sending locals regular copies of the Grenfell Support Newsletter – we have also previously posted on this as well as residents not engaging with services because they are not informed about them here:
RBKC and CNWL in our view need to not only engage with the Residents’ Associations, but also deliver accurate and reliable information to peoples’ doors and post notices around the community keeping locals informed and up to date.
Of course some of those responsible seem to ignore the facts that some of the most vulnerable people here may not always belong to a residents’ association (not that there has been much engagement from RBKC with local residents’ associations anyway), some will not be familiar with the website, have language barriers or even in a few cases, not have internet access at all.
Also others have informed THINK that the website link for Grenfell Support is not always updated regularly either – so much for the communications budget!
As for services The Curve, yes some residents are finding them helpful (in particular some of the arts groups and the alternative therapies there) but we do remind RBKC and CWNL that The Curve can also sometimes be quite a noisy environment with radios and televisions blaring out and small children running around the place and that it is not necessarily a suitable environment for some other distressed residents who require peace and quiet. Some lone adults, older people and other vulnerable residents are feeling very excluded from provision of help and services offered already.
Yes there is no ideal “one size fits all” help available, which it is why it is all the more important for them to communicate with this community properly instead of the typical Rotten Borough style of referring to an announcement of closure a “consultation” without ever consulting people in the first place……..
THINK will again remind RBKC that they cannot simply sweep our concerns and needs under the carpet and hope all this will somehow magically disappear.They were part of what caused the Grenfell Tower disaster and they have a duty of responsibility to help our community heal. But still some appear to forget this.
We have also noted that Robyn Fairman’s previous position before she came to RBKC was Head of Strategy at Lewisham Council. Well, many around here have very real concerns that is is a strategy of this council to neglect this community and simply hope (as we have said before) that this will go away. Well the more this council continues to ignore us and to make blind decisions purely based on their own assumptions and lack of knowledge of this community with regards to vital services here, the worse things will get.
Our community which has been through so much, deserves so much better than to be treated in such a dismissive, ignorant, insensitive and evasive manner , and we say that it is high time for some of the incompetent staff who have only acted to make the problems suffered by a traumatised community far worse. to be axed from their jobs.