Judgement Day is also here for South Kensington and the Holiday Inn Forum

At 6:30pm tonight at Kensington. Town Hall this evening, as well as the TMO EGM, there will be a meeting of the planning committee to decide on the redevelopment plans for the Holiday Inn Forum hotel in Cromwell Road.

THINKers attended the campaign meetings and have learned that the proposed new building will have a 100% increase in density and as well as causing obvious dust, noise and considerable disruption to residents would also mean a loss of light to people living nearby.

The general consensus at the end of the last meeting was that most residents felt that the best thing for the developers to do with the building was to renovate and refurbish it instead. We ask the council and the planning committee to please listen to them and reject the proposals

Of course, if RBKC does do the right thing and reject the plans, this might not be the end if the matter as the Mayor of London could interject, overturn the decision and grant permission as he did with Newcombe House.

We will of course be there this evening and post an update tomorrow as well as on the TMO EGM.

Here is the report on the plans:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Document.ashx?czJKcaeAi5tUFL1DTL2UE4zNRBcoShgo=IZDIhO1Jts0waoj6y5cYnL0eplv3655sDlk9V1q148hMfwsF9erjfw%3d%3d&rUzwRPf%2bZ3zd4E7Ikn8Lyw%3d%3d=pwRE6AGJFLDNlh225F5QMaQWCtPHwdhUfCZ%2fLUQzgA2uL5jNRG4jdQ%3d%3d&mCTIbCubSFfXsDGW9IXnlg%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&kCx1AnS9%2fpWZQ40DXFvdEw%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&uJovDxwdjMPoYv%2bAJvYtyA%3d%3d=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&FgPlIEJYlotS%2bYGoBi5olA%3d%3d=NHdURQburHA%3d&d9Qjj0ag1Pd993jsyOJqFvmyB7X0CSQK=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNR9xqBux0r1Q8Za60lavYmz=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNQ16B2MHuCpMRKZMwaG1PaO=ctNJFf55vVA%3d

Here are the Stop The Towers campaign with some more information:

Overseas-funded developers are planning to knock down the borough’s biggest eyesore, the Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum, only to replace it with an even bigger monstrosity, with not just one but TWO NEW TOWERS, the smaller of which is 10m taller than Grenfell Tower, which would dominate our skyline for generations to come. The map shows an approximately affected radius around the site, starting at the centre by Gloucester Road, Cromwell Road and Ashburn Gardens.

Once built, the towers would:

• Damage the skyline across the borough – from Kensington Gardens to Battersea Bridge.

• Significantly reduce the amount of sunlight reaching local properties.

• Put more strain on local water and sewage systems, as well as traffic, parking and public transport.

• Contain an event facility for 1,500 people. The busiest hours are expected to be immediately before and after an event with an average of 500 people arriving and departing per hour.

Construction works are expected to last in excess of FIVE YEARS , during which residents and businesses would suffer:

• Property blight for at least the entire duration of the works (predominantly circles 1-3 above).

• Two years of demolition followed by three years of construction.

• Constant demolition/construction noise as well as raised air pollution (predominantly circles 1-2 above).

• Chaotic traffic in and out of London via Cromwell Road and Hammersmith (circles 1-4 and beyond).

• The sound, dust and traffic of up to 49 HGV’s going to and from the site – almost 100 trips PER DAY!!

Judgement Day is here! A call for RBKC residents to be at Kensington Town Hall at 6:30pm

It’s here, a crucial vote on a resolution for TMO members which could compromise the accountability and democracy of this already discredited organisation.

THINK urge all TMO members attending to VOTE NO. We also remind people attending that they will need to bring photographic ID such as a passport or a driving licence or a Freedom pass to be allowed in (this isn’t even a requirement to vote at a general election – just to give people an idea of what sort of organisation and people we are dealing with here)

Please see this article from The Guardian yesterday:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/26/grenfell-residents-warn-against-plan-to-change-council-management-body-kctmo

And here are residents from BWRA with more information – TMO members please read this before voting!

MESSAGE FROM THE BWRA

The BWRA (Borough Wide Alliance of Council Estate RAs) met to discuss actions prior to the TMO EGM this Thursday.  At a previous meeting we had agreed to submit a motion presenting our own counter Resolution and changes and this was hand delivered to the TMO offices at 3.00 p.m. on 13th September 3 hours before the 14 day deadline.  However we heard last week that the TMO has rejected its inclusion as they count the 14 days from the previous evening.  They tried the same thing last year when we had the 2 signatures required for the motion to be submitted and were then told that 3 days earlier the Board had decided it had to be 6.

We are therefore urging all TMO members to vote againt the current resolutions for the following reasons (see below)

KCTMO is a limited company and must have published rules that govern its operation and administration and an annual AGM in order to remain legal. These rules are the TMO’s Articles of Association; and we agree these need to change in order to reflect its sole current purpose which is to cooperate fully and support the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and criminal investigations into possible corporate manslaughter.

So why are we urging you to vote against the proposed changes?

KCTMO’s proposals go much further than changing the purpose of the KCTMO; they are seeking to reduce the powers that resident members currently have and we think they must be stopped for 3 main reasons:

1. They are seeking to remove resident members from its Board of Directors by introducing new professional qualifications and senior housing management requirements for new Board members that are not necessary given its new purpose and clearly disadvantage having a majority of the Board being residents.

2.  They are proposing that the current Chair and Board of Directors who have been in place since before the Grenfell Fire, will directly appoint 3 of the 5 new Board members. Members can only elect and appoint two and these two must have the new high level professional qualifications.

The current board may have questions to answer related to decisions they made before the Grenfell Fire and may even face criminal charges if they are judged to have any responsibility for decisions that led to the fire; KCTMO’s proposals would grant these people power to decide future board members and this is clearly a worrying development that could hinder or compromise Grenfell investigations.

3. They are seeking to reduce the power that resident members currently have to vote on proposed rule changes of any kind in the future.

If these changes are approved this week then we members will have very little power to call special meetings or influence the new Board and Directors and the TMO as a Tenant Managed Organisation will have ceased to exist at a time when we members need to be sure that the KCTMO remains accountable to us and to the Grenfell Inquiry and the Police.

KCTMO: Judgement Day is approaching: Vote NO at the EGM

The KCTMO EGM is on at the Town Hall on Thursday 27th September. This blog recommends that TMO members who haven’t voted yet go there and vote NO. Below is a press release from the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Wide Alliance of council Residents’ Associations and some information to explain more – plus information and contacts on voting and on proxy votes.

THINK recommend that all TMO members read this very carefully:

KCTMO EGM
RBKC Town Hall, 18:30, 27th September 2018 An Explanation for Residents

What is the problem?

KCTMO is a limited company; this means that it must have published rules that govern its operation and administration. These rules are in KCTMO’s Articles of Association and Constitution but these were designed for a company that would manage residential properties on behalf of RBKC. As it no longer fulfils this role but needs to remain in existence to respond to the criminal investigations, public inquiry, and civil litigation it will face for its role in the Grenfell Tower fire; there is a need for changes to be made to the rules to reflect its new purpose.

KCTMO have said their changes will address this issue, so what is the problem?

KCTMO’s proposals do FAR more than address this problem; they are seeking to remove resident members from its board and the power that resident members currently have to vote on proposed rule changes of any kind. The current board may have questions to answer related to decisions they made during their tenure and may even face criminal charges if they are judged to have any responsibility for decisions that led to the fire; KCTMO’s proposals would grant these people power to decide future board members and this is clearly a worrying development that could hinder or completely derail Grenfell investigations.

OK, but KCTMO’s proposals require 75% of members at the EGM to vote in favour – they will NEVER get this – so what’s the problem?

KCTMO have a significant amount of proxy votes, delegated to them by existing members, with broad discretion on how to use these. In previous years, they have used the proxy votes to push through decisions which were widely opposed by residents and it is feared they will try to do this again unless we attend the EGM and vote against them.

I am willing to attend on Thursday 27th September and vote against them, so will many other residents, so what’s the problem?

KCTMO are demanding pre-registration, by postal application, if a member wishes to attend. This is clearly designed to prevent access to the EGM by residents who care enough to attend and ensure that KCTMO acts in an open and honest manner – with proper accountability and oversight.

What is the solution?

We need resident members to either attend on Thursday, or appoint a trusted fellow resident to act as their proxy. There is no limit to the number of proxy votes a person may cast, but the form MUST be completed and returned, by post using the pre-paid envelope with the pack, to the Southampton company KCTMO has chosen to administer the process.

A YEAR AFTER GRENFELL, KENSINGTON & CHELSEA TMO CONTINUE TO TREAT RESIDENTS WITH CONTEMPT

Kensington & Chelsea’s Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO)- which managed all council- owned properties before the Grenfell Fire – recently told its resident members that it will face closure as a company unless they agree to radical changes to its current constitution and management structure that would allow the current Board complete and permanent control of the organisation, including how it responds to any criminal investigation, the public inquiry, or civil action it may face.

Currently, a majority of seats on the KCTMO Board are reserved for resident members and any changes to its operation or management structure can only be implemented if they receive a majority vote from resident members.

At last year’s KCTMO AGM, held after the Grenfell Fire, residents used their voting power when they blocked an attempt by RBKC to seize control of the organisation, which was backed by the KCTMO Board. Despite concerns that the police investigation and public inquiry would be hindered if one organisation under investigation, RBKC, were allowed complete control of another organisation under investigation,the KCTMO. This proposal would have succeeded had resident members not turned out in force to vote against the controversial proposal.

Under the new KCTMO’s proposals, such actions would no longer be possible because the voting power of resident members would be removed and the Board would be reduced to five members. Three of this new Board would be chosen by existing KCTMO Board members, who have been in power since before the Grenfell Tower disaster; residents would no longer be permitted to serve on the Board and would also lose the right to vote on rule changes or other major decisions. The three Board members selected by the current Board would then select the final two Board members; these five would have the sole power to make any rule changes or other decisions they see fit without any scrutiny, oversight, or fear of veto from residents.

A coalition of resident members from council homes across the borough has worked to create alternative proposals. Proposals that recognise changes are necessary to KCTMO’s constitution but that maintain the need for member voting on changes to the constitution and resident representation on the board, but which barrs residents involved in legal disputes against KCTMO and anyone with a direct or indirect relationship to RBKC from serving.. These proposals, submitted as a motion for debate at next week’s KCTMO Emergency General Meeting, and within the required 14 days advance notice, have been rejected by KCTMO.

The fact that proposals submitted by the Borough Wide Alliance of Council Residents Associations (BWRA), which was highly influential in bringing about the Council’s decision to end its management contract with the KCTMO, and proposals which had been vetted by independent legal experts were rejected by KCTMO is highly controversial. The KCTMO has instead opted to create proposals that would remove external scrutiny and grant power to a Board whose decisions are currently under criminal investigation and opened the company to civil liabilities, clearly shows that KCTMO’s only aim is to insulate itself and its employees from proper scrutiny whilst also frustrating the police and public inquiries.

The KCTMO has called an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) for Thursday the 27th September, at the Town Hall. Survivors of Grenfell Tower, residents of the wider Lancaster West Estate, and council residents from the rest of the Borough will again be forced to attend a meeting simply to vote against proposals which serve selfish interests, when all we want is openness and honesty from an organisation which has serious questions to answer about issues that could have implications for the future of social housing across the country

Press Release from the Kensington & Chelsea Borough Wide Alliance of council Residents’ Associations (BWRA)

For further information and comment contact:

Cllr Monica Press

Tavistock Crescent RA and RBKC Councillor Cllr.Monica.Press@rbkc.gov.uk

Tom Fitch

Swinbrook Estate RA – Tom@cash-online.org.uk

Gordon Futter

Campden House Residents’ Compact –

Joe Delaney

Lancaster West RA –

More Terrapins in the tank at the London City Hall of Shame

Part 3 of our “London Trilogy”

Peter Bingle (pictured as the terrapin “on top”) the property lobbyist and his firm Terrapin Communications are no strangers to this blog, or indeed no strangers to some former RBKC Tory councillors.

We posted about Terrapin Communications before:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/a-rocky-road-well-travelled-and-a-terrapin-in-the-tank/

And about their dealings with former RBKC councillor Daniel Moylan who was former deputy chairman of Transport for London, former chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation and was chief aviation advisor to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/09/12/cllr-daniel-moylan-smoke-and-mirrors/

In fact, hearing of Peter Bingle’s meetings with RBKC councillors opened THINKers’ eyes to some of the goings on behind the scenes over property developers and regeneration . But as some have seen from our previous two posts we are becoming increasingly concerned as to what property dealings are going on at the GLA, who is influencing them and the dreadful consequences of frankly letting moneyed property development companies who do not have Londoners’ best interest at heart and their lobbyists pull the strings here.

So let’s have another look at the GLA register of gifts and hospitality and go Terrapin spotting at the City Hall………

Juliemma McLoughlin (pictured as the other Terrapin in our main picture) is the Chief Planner, Development, Enterprise and Environment at the GLA. She had dinner with Terrapin Communications on the 22nd June 2017, attended a concert at the Barbican with Terrapin Communications on the 19th October 2017, and this year she was at a Terrapin and Greystar dinner on the 26th March and on the 2nd of May she attended a concert performance of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony – tickets provided by Terrapin.

Ms McLoughlin has featured on our previous post about the GLA before. Well many residents and local businesses are very worried as to whose plans she could possibly favour here.

David Lunts above) is the Interim Head of Paid Service and Executive Director Housing and Land and the GLA’s Mr Creosote (as people can see from our previous post. David “Lunch” had dinner with Terrapin Communications at Quo Acadia on the 16th June 2015, attended a Mahler concert at the Barbican and had dinner at Smith’s of Smithfield with Terrapin Communications on the 19th of May 2016, had lunch with Peter Bingle at the Blueprint Café on the 7th June 2016 and lunch with Peter Bingle at Kai Restaurant on the 24th January 2017.

Len Duvall is the leader of the Labour Group on the GLA and represents Greenwich and Lewisham. He is also Deputy Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee, Deputy Chair of the Budget and Performance Sub-Committee, Deputy Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, Member of the Confirmation Hearings Committee and a Member of the Police and Crime Committee.

Len Duvall had dinner with Bingle’s former firm Bell Pottinger on the 13th May 2009, and the 14th of September 2009, Dinner with Peter Bingle at Roux Restaurant on the 17th January 2012, received a ticket for a performance of Iolanthe at Greenwich Theatre from and had dinner with Terrapin Communications on the 26th July this year and received dinner and tickets to the Proms on the 28th August this year from Terrapin Communications.

Tom Copley is a Londonwide Labour GLA member and is Deputy Chair of the Housing Committee a Member of the Confirmation Hearings Committee, a Member of the GLA Oversight Committee, a Member of the Planning Committee and a Member of the Transport Committee.

Tom Copley goes on Twitter a lot and tweets largely about housing. We thought he was a member who appeared to show a good understanding of social housing.

But impressions can be deceiving, as he had lunch with Peter Bingle at Magdalen in Tooley Street on the 10th February 2014, lunch with Peter Bingle at Le Pont De La Tour in the 9th July 2014, lunch with Bingle at Magdalen again on the 28th October 2014 and attended a regeneration dinner provided by Terrapin Communications on the 12tv November 2014.

We have also noted that he has dined with Pocket Living too (clients of Cratus) and no, Tom we do not think that offering Londoners cupboards to live in provides a good solution to the housing problem. The people you are dining with are making the housing crisis worse,

THINK have come across Leonie Cooper before here

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/lets-clear-some-air-rap-23-meeting-part-2/

She is a Labour GLA member for Merton and Wandsworth and a Deputy Chair of the Environment Committee a Member of the Budget and Performance Committee a Member of the Environment Committee, Member of the Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee and a Member of the Housing Committee

Leonie Cooper impressed us when she spoke at the Rap23 Let’s Clear Some Air public meeting in Acklam Village last year .

What we are less than impressed with is the fact that she has had lunch with Terrapin Communications on the 18th of May 2017, received a ticket to the Proms from Terrapin on the 6th September 2017, had lunch with Terrapin on the 27th September 2017, had dinner and a concert from Terrapin Communications on the 19th October 2017, lunch with them again on the 13th December 2017, dinner with Terrapin on the 11th of May 2018 and a ticket to the Proms again and dinner from them on the 20th July 2018.

And here, are a couple of Terrapins who have since left the murky depths of the London City Hall tank:

Richard Blakeway was Deputy Mayor and in charge of Housing, Land and Property at the GLA from 2008-2016. He was a Board Trustee at the Chartered Institute of Housing from 2011-16, a board member of the London Enterprise Panel from 2013-16, a commissioner of Crossrail 2 Growth Commission at TFL from 2015-16 and a special adviser to the Prime Minister’s policy unit in 2016.

Richard Blakeway was provided with an “evening of hospitality” ; dinner and a trip to the Proms by Bell Pottinger on the 10th September 2009, lunch with Bell Pottinger on the 21st May 2010, a ticket to a Mahler concert provided by Terrapin Communications on the 24th September 2015 and dinner with Terrapin Communications on the 26th January 2016.

In fact Mr Blakeway’s entry in this register is as exhaustive as that of David Lunch!It includes engagements with Capco, LendLease, Delancey, and Wilmott Dixon – who he is now a “Strategic Advisor to – we’re not exactly surprised.

He is also an advisor to EcoWorld Ltd, chair of BexleyCo the developers owned by the London Borough of Bexley (residents there in social housing might be concerned about this) , an advisor to JLL and chief adviser to the Housing and Urban Regeneration Unit at Policy Exchange and a Board Director of Homes England. With all those jobs and treats on the side you can bet Mr Blakeway never has to worry about his home!

Here is his entry in the GLA register (So many lunches and dinners, THINK have got indigestion just from reading it!):

https://www.london.gov.uk/people/mayoral/richard-blakeway-past-staff/gifts-hospitality

Stephen Greenhalgh will be a familiar face to many as he was Boris Johnson’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime from 2012-2016. Before that, he was Conservative Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham. The Tories may no longer be in power there and Greenhalgh left ages ago but he remains a controversial figure there largely because of regeneration plans for West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates under the Earl’s Court Masterplan there. See this from Get West London seven years ago :

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/fury-greenhalgh-pleads-help-bulldozing-5985451.amp

And this from SW Londoner:

http://www.swlondoner.co.uk/former-hammersmith-

fulham-leader-cleared-of-criminal-wrongdoing/

Residents on the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates have fought a strong campaign against this. See their website here:

https://westkengibbsgreen.wordpress.com/

The Conservatives lost control of Hammersmith & Fulham in 2014 and Greenhalgh left City Hall along with Boris Johnson. We would still be concerned as it appears (as some can see on our previous post) that some in the GLA still have strong links to Capco and Sadiq Khan has not called for a review of the Earl’s Court Masterplan.

Stephen Greenhalgh is not immune to Peter Bingle’s “charm” because on the 5th March 2013 he also had lunch with him.

Oh dear, so it seems there will be no “brandy and cigars” afterwards for many Londoners who had hoped that when Sadiq Khan became Mayor of London, we would see some real positive change here.

Perhaps some of these people can try to offer us a perfectly innocent explanation for their meetings with Bingle? Maybe some just can’t resist the lure of an all expenses paid slap-up meal in a fancy restaurant or something? PR Week said of Bingle ten years ago: “What is for certain is that Bingle is a not a man who is accustomed to spending lunchtimes slumped over his desk with a sandwich and a copy of the FT”.

Some may like to portray Peter Bingle as some sort of fun bon viveur with lots of stories and anecdotes but there are other concerns and it is not just his involvement with controversial regeneration projects which rings alarm bells here, below is an article in The Drum by director of SpinWatch and campaigner for the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, Tamasin Cave about Bingle’s former company Bell Pottinger and some of their “work” in South Africa:

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/08/17/bell-pottinger-has-been-hot-water-the-south-africa-scandal-wont-be-its-end

And back to London , with this from The Guardian about Bingle’s work in Wandsworth – we certainly don’t think he is entertaining the GLA just for fun :

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/13/home-builders-lobbyist-pushed-council-leader-to-sort-and-speed-planning

We’ll finish with a short video which is a trip down memory lane for us – or rather a “March to Frestonia” in Bramley Road North Kensington, outside Rock Feilding-Mellen’s House where local Save Our Silchester campaigners against the (now thankfully cancelled) regeneration plans for the Silchester Estate were protesting – many of the residents there were instrumental in inspiring us to start this blog – so we will end with going back to the beginning. Who will be dining with Peter Bingle next ?

This is the final instalment of our “London Trilogy”, but we don’t happen to think it will be the last time some of these people make an appearance in this blog. Business at City Hall done by an elected authority and by an elected Mayor should be accountable and transparent to the electorate, conducted in a way that is fair to all and important decisions over planning and development of our city should not be made behind closed doors or over lavish meals with property developers and their clients. Londoners deserve better.

David “Lunch” Lunts, the Mr Creosote of the GLA

Part 2 of our “London Trilogy”

David Lunts is the interim head of paid service and the executive director of housing and land at the GLA. He really should be called “David Lunch” because he does appear to spend rather a lot of his time having lunches and dinners with property lobbyists and developers.

A look through the register of gifts and hospitality shows that he he has had engagements with Peter Bingle and Terrapin Communications five times, Savills four times, Berkeley Homes four times, VIP dinner with Knight Dragon, lunch with the Manor House Development trust (social cleansing in North London), lunch and dinner with Lovells five times and – oh we could be here all day – have a look here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/governance-and-spending/good-governance/our-corporate-management-team/david-lunts/gifts-hospitality

Also three engagements with Pocket Living – who are clients of Cratus:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/cratus-communications-creeping-out-from-under-the-curtains/

Perhaps when Mr Lunts is knocking back the Château Lafite with Pinnacle over lunch he might want to see this from the Grenfell Action Group (which was reposted on THINK with their kind permission) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/grenfell-action-group-post-lying-down-with-dogs-rbkc-and-pinnacle-housing/

Or perhaps he might care to know that Pinnacle are the useless RBKC contractors responsible for out of hours services at nights, weekends and holiday times who left residents of Dixon House in North Kensington stuck in a 20 storey block of flats (around the corner from Grenfell) with no working lifts back in March?

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/down-the-road-from-grenfell-lifts-in-20-storey-tower-block-not-working/

David Lunch also dines with Rydon who were, of course, the contractors involved with the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and we all know what happened there…..

David Lunch also has visited MIPIM, the luxury property fair in Cannes (of course!)

He must be absolutely stuffed- pass the brown envelopes and wafer-thin mints!

In May this year Lunts also had dinner with the Urban Redevelopment Authority from Singapore provided by LendLease THINK believe that if his priorities are for investment for the citizens of Singapore, instead of the needs of Londoners then he should go and live and work there.

He has dined with many housing associations too, including L & Q, Notting Hill Genesis, Peabody, Circle, One Housing and notably Catalyst who were partners in the regeneration of Wornington Green in North Kensington (now known as “Portobello Square”) . Here is a picture of Lunts from the Catalyst promotional video;

We will not post the Catalyst video on here as it is full of Piglet-Pies.

Instead, we will share some posts from our Labour MP for Kensington and local Golborne councillor Emma Dent Coad’s blog when she was documenting the regeneration at the time:

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-sheet-of-shame-wornington-green.html?m=1

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2017/01/and-filthy-new-year-from-catalyst.html?m=1

http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com/2017/03/catalyst-housing-development-portobello.html?m=1

Anyway, THINK are surprised to see that after all those lunches and dinners, David “Lunch” isn’t actually the size of a house by now – but we are also not surprised to see the GLA doing next to nothing to make sure that Londoners can have more and better social and genuinely affordable housing provided in their localities. In fact it appears to us that some at the GLA, just like some councils and councillors, appear to be complicit in the destruction of communities in many parts of our city – shame on them.

Who REALLY runs London?

Part 1 of our “London Trilogy

We bring our readers a few pieces of important local news that should give both local residents and Londoners as a whole, great cause for concern.

Our first news concerns Newcombe House that we reported on in our previous post. These redevelopment proposals were rejected by RBKC three times – only for the plans to be called in by Sadiq Khan.

Sadly we can report that Mr Khan overturned the decision last week. Read about it and the responses from residents here:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.standard.co.uk/news/london/newcombe-house-latest-monstrosity-tower-will-be-built-after-london-mayor-sadiq-khan-overrules-a3939766.html%3famp

Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad had been unable to make the hearing at a City Hall, but she had this to say to us:

‘It is a total mystery to me as well as a genuine disappointment that the Mayor has overruled experienced elected representatives on the Newcombe House planning application.

We were scrupulous in our determinations and assessed the application in the light of The London Plan and RBKCs Local Plan policies. The application fell far short on many of these policies and we listed them all in detail.

It was a cross party decision to protect our conservation areas from this and future inappropriate applications.

This project will open the doors to higher and greedier plan in the future. A disaster for a beautiful borough.’

Maybe not so much of a mystery now as THINK can reveal something about London Communications, a PR firm used by developers who have many clients in lots of sectors, including the Metropolitan Police and RBKC, – a few of their other clients have particularly caught our eye:

One client is Brockton Capital who are the developers behind the redevelopment plans for Newcombe House

We can also reveal that GLA chief planner Juliemma McLoughlin., who was sitting a few seats away from Sadiq at the hearing, has had dinner with London Communications, before, as has James Murray, one of the Deputy Mayors. Coincidence? We don’t think so….

Another client of London Communications are Cadogan Pier Limited.

Cadogan Pier Limited and the greedy Moffats are threatening to evict some of the Chelsea Houseboat Community and have featured in our blog before too:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/cockell-and-his-connections-are-still-wreaking-havoc-all-around-the-rotten-borough/

Lots of different property developers seem to get a foot in the door at City Hall – Jamie Ratcliff is the assistant director of housing. On the 4th of September this year he dined with Andrew Simpson and Dominic Lawson of Bespoke Planning – no, not that one – this one:

Who is he, some may wonder? Well he is also a business partner of “Jailhouse Rock” Feilding-Mellen and the other third of Socially Conscious Capital – the other one is Giles Cherry, who had a drink thrown over him by an angry resident after he partied outside the Maxilla Club (opposite Grenfell Tower) on the 14th of September after the Silent Walk:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/some-people-have-no-shame-jailhouse-rocks-business-partner-makes-an-appearance-in-north-kensington/

Jamie Ratcliff has also had engagements with Savills three times, Lovells four times and has also had engagements with Orbit Homes three times (who apart from one development in New Addington, best Croydon, appear to have most of their properties outside the capital; some people living on London estates who are facing regeneration may want to take note of this).

Ratcliff has also had dinner with Steve Douglas of Altair – we have posted about Chris Wood from Altair before ;

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/08/23/the-rotten-borough-rotten-regeneration-plans-on-the-quiet-and-a-cat-out-of-the-bag/

Regular readers of THINK will also know that we have posted about Earl’s Court and the Earl’s Court Masterplan before:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/earls-court-masterplan-debated-at-westminster-hall/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/05/10/anyone-hear-the-one-about-malcolm-spalding-earls-court-and-the-dead-parrot

Things really didn’t look too good for Capco (or “Crapco” as we call them) and this ill-judged scheme, as was reported in by the Evening Standard back in May:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.standard.co.uk/business/capco-takes-a-52-million-knock-on-earls-court-scheme-a3895836.html%3famp

THINK had to take a trip down memory lane to recall when this was said when Sadiq Khan was standing for Mayor of London:

“Sadiq will review the Earl’s Court Masterplan as he has serious reservations about the overall direction the scheme is taking.”

At THINK , we were wondering whatever happened to this review. Because we haven’t seen or heard anything and neither have many residents and local businesses around Earl’s Court who are suffering from this utter failure of a disasterplan.

So what now for Earl’s Court? Well we have found out that this was going on: London First holding a reception at the Labour Party conference, sponsored by Capco!

https://www.londonfirst.co.uk/news-publications/events/the-london-reception-at-labour-party-conference

We are very pleased that Emma Dent Coad, our Kensington Labour MP refused to go to this event on principle.

Some may also note that joining Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London (the shame) as a special guest speaker there, was Peter John, leader of Southwark Council and chair of the London councils. John is a controversial figure because of the regeneration social cleansing schemes such as Elephant & Castle, the Ledbury Estate and the Heygate Estate (Peter Bingle on behalf on Lendlease had a vital key role in this!) in his part of town. Southwark Notes and the Ledbury Action Group have been on the case there :

https://www.google.com/amp/s/southwarknotes.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/what-a-joke-979-new-homes-33-affordable-this-is-social-cleansing/amp/

https://www.ledburyestate.com/

Some at RBKC remember Allison Flight, who was once strategic development manager at RBKC and was seen celebrating with Capco back in 2012 when our council approved the masterplan. From The Hornets Nest posted about this then:

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2012/11/rbk-planner-makes-flighty-old.html?m=1

Where is she now? That’s right- she has been appointed Deputy Head of Development at the GLA!

A resident commented:”who the hell made that decision. We saw how she cozied up to Capco in Earls Court , so once confined to allowing luxury developers to cause havoc in just one borough RBKC. Now she will be able to help developers in their reign of terror across all of London . God help us all, well everyone check out those well loved buildings when you go to bed, with Alison ( and her colleagues who are also pro developer ) in City Hall’s corridors of power they may not be there in the morning.”

David Lunts, the Mr Creosote of City Hall, has also had five engagements engagements with London First and other engagements with Grosvenor Development, whose chief executive is Richard Powell, who was formerly the director of planning and development in Earl’s Court for Capco.

Others at City Hall who are partial to London First’s company are Juliemma McLoughlin (again) , Simon Powell, assistant director of strategic projects and property, Fiona Fletcher-Smith, executive director of development enterprise and environment (who has also been to MIPIM),

Other London First attendees include James Murray – a Deputy Mayor of London who is responsible for housing and residential development and Jules Pipe, who is a Deputy Mayor and is responsible for regeneration, planning and skills.

Some Conservatives may be also be interested to know that Shaun Bailey also had dinner with Gary Yardley of Capco back in July.

Local Earl’s Court resident and Labour candidate there at the local elections, Bruno de Florence had this to say: : “If the current Mayor asked me for my opinion re the Capco site, my reply would be: No Change Without Consent.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Earl’s Court, Linda Wade had this to say (originally posted on Nextdoor and reposted here wth her kind permission):

“Mr Khan’s manifesto pledge when he was standing as Mayor was to deliver more social affordable housing, which is a worthy sentiment but harder to deliver.

Personally, homing people and building stable communities is of primary importance, construction without consideration of context of how people live, work, get about, where their children play and above all in a mixed tenure environment.

One of my main criticisms of the Earl’s Court Masterplan was that it did not integrate into the existing Earl’s Court, that architecturally it set itself apart, that the profile of the accommodation was for the buy-to-leave market rather than providing a range of housing options that reflected the wonderful multi-layered demographic that we have in Earl’s Court.”

We thank both Linda Wade and Emma Dent Coad – they are two local politicians who care deeply about the communities they represent and speak up when it matters most to residents and as disaffected and disheartened as we are feeling about what appear to be the murky goings on both locally and around the wider London area, we are grateful to them and to the local residents and campaigners like the Hillgate Village Residents’ Association, the Pembridge Association , the Save Earl’s Court campaigners, Bruno and many others -it is good to hear that some people will stand up for their local community against the onslaught from property developers .

THINK have to ask the question as to who the Mayor, some of the GLA members and some of the City Hall senior staff are working for really?

Because we are failing to see the point of having a London Mayor and assembly if property developers are the ones pulling the strings.

Newcombe House redevelopment : For or against?

This is Newcombe House in Notting Hill Gate – an eyesore of a building once described by journalist, author and Kensington resident Simon Jenkins as a squalid 1960s block “that would discredit a Soviet suburb”.

Today at 2pm, there will be a hearing at City Hall over this to decide over the redevelopment plans for the building, – which been strongly opposed but also have divided the local community deeply – and the Mayor of London has “called it in” after RBKC rejected the proposals for the third time – he will now make the final decision.

Residents unable to make it to City Hall can watch the live stream webcast here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/media-centre/mayoral#

More about the proposals here:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/planning-application-search/newcombe-house-0

This might be a controversial redevelopment but there are powerful arguments being made on all sides by residents here both for and against . The Kensington Society, , the Ladbroke Association and the Campden Hill Residents Association to some peoples’ surprise, have backed the plans. Divisions over this have also crossed political party lines, with supporters and opposers on all sides of the political divide.

The Kensington Society have made their reasons clear for supporting the scheme here:

http://www.kensingtonsociety.org/why_we_support_newcombe_house/

On the opposing side, the Skyline Campaign have said :”“It will establish a precedent and that’s hugely dangerous for London on the whole, and especially this particular part of London, which is one of the most revered places in the “If they allow 18 storeys there, when they’ve said you’re not allowed to do that, the next developer will come along and say they want 18 storeys, or 20 storeys, It will be incremental.

“The existing building looks very tired and it is an eyesore. It is completely wrong and shouldn’t be in Notting Hill Gate. But the new design is very mediocre. They need a better design and to not build higher that what it is now”.

The Hillgate Village Residents Association have said the proposed development is “too tall and overbearing for the area”.They have also said “The proposed public benefits do not outweigh the harm likely to be caused to the surrounding heritage assets and the community by a much taller Tower which the Council found to be of “insufficient high design quality”.

Letting one developer build an excessively tall Tower could create a precedent, opening the floodgates for other Towers on Notting Hill Gate and elsewhere in west London. ”

The Pembridge Association have said:” The Pembridge Association is a conservation society for the Pembridge Conservation Area which borders the north side of Notting Hill Gate. The proposal is for a large building which will set a precedent for subsequent developments of the surrounding area. The scale will affect the whole of the historic environment of this part of Notting Hill Gate. Whilst there have been improvements to some aspects of the proposal, the design of the façade remains poor and the low quality offer of public amenity is not enough to justify the proposal as it stands. It should be rejected in its current form and improvements, both in the design and in the public amenity offered, required for any future, successful application”

Others opposing the scheme include the Georgian Group, ADKC (Action Disability Kensington and Chelsea), the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association and Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad.

THINK have received emails asking us to make our position on this clear (including someone accusing our blog of sitting on the fence!) , so here it is:

We are against, but if the plan was reconsidered to reduce the height and to include more social housing (not so-called “affordable” – around 80% of the market rate-) and the proposed GP surgery did not come at the expense of other nearby surgeries closing – we could be open to persuasion, but we think that 23 units of affordable housing (the developers increased this from 9 units ) is a pathetic amount and will do nothing to help the housing crisis.

We also believe that the increased height of the proposed redevelopment will make the building even more of an eyesore and that it is out of keeping with the character of the area. Loss of natural light to nearby residents caused by the height of the proposed building also has to be taken into consideration.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on over this is that the building is in a state and really does need some work, and that step free access to Notting Hill Gate underground station is important. We believe there should be step-free access to the station on all sides and the proposals are only for step-free access on one way only – this is not acceptable.

We just happen to believe that there are better ways forward and that what is on the table simply isn’t good enough – not for the area, not for nearby residents, not for better accessibility to the station and certainly will not do anything to help the housing problem. We hope Sadiq Khan listens to all sides but ultimately that he rejects it and instead asks the developers Brockton Capital to go back to the drawing board. There has to be a better way forward in our opinion – and this is not it.

Whatever does happen to Newcombe House, we strongly feel that there must really be something done about the lack of step free access to Notting Hill Gate station and the Mayor and TFL should also do something about improving access to all the other stations in the borough, including Ladbroke Grove and Latimer Road in our locality.

We’ll remind both RBKC and Sadiq Khan that this city , particularly our area of London, is desperately short of social housing and that both our council and our London Mayor do not have a great track record of doing much to resolve this problem.

Grenfell Silent Walk – 15 months on – and some thoughts and issues

On Friday we joined the Grenfell Silent Walk and walked with the memory the 14th of June last year and memories of our friends and neighbours still very much deep in our thoughts and in our hearts ,

No, it doesn’t get any easier for us, but while the Silent Walk seems to go by more quickly as time gets on; grief, trauma, anger and frustration still very much remain here.

Also in our minds, were the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the long road to justice ahead. But still, there are real issues of concern here that Grenfell United – the voice and campaign group for survivors and bereaved families – have raised.

A year on and still many survivors, bereaved families and local residents are not feeling included or being fairly or sensitively treated at the Inquiry. This article in The Guardian by journalist and friend of THINK, Seraphima Kennedy explains more.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/14/year-grenfell-inquiry-victims-families-failed-trust

We believe that an Inquiry cannot be full and fair if the lawyers of families cannot question witnesses directly and if the situations of many who are traumatised are not taken into consideration properly with regards to issues over the venue of the Inquiry too. We urge Judge Moore-Bick to listen to these concerns.

Our thoughts were also for the safety of others in buildings across the country who are living in buildings covered with unsafe combustible cladding.

We also call for combustible cladding to be banned. We urge our readers to please sign and share this petition:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/220460

After the Silent Walk, a guest speaker, Elizabeth from Manchester spoke movingly about her own real fears with living with this type of cladding . We ask the Government to please listen to Elizabeth and listen to us and do the right thing and ban it.

Time is a healer but our community will in our lifetime and likely beyond, carry the grief and the memories of our loss in this disaster. This Government needs to have some consideration for the wellbeing and the lives of not just our community, but also many others who are at risk. Everyone knows that one of the reasons the Grenfell Tower fire spread so quickly across the building was because of the combustibles of this material. Making a building look nice or saving a little bit of cash for developers or local authorities should not come below the priority of people’s safety. We are living with the true cost of this here in North Kensington. Please do not let this ever happen to anyone else ever again.

💚Forever in our hearts💚

💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚

Some people have no shame – Jailhouse Rock’s business partner makes an appearance in North Kensington

This is Giles Cherry – he is a business partner and friend of Rock Feilding-Mellen and last night, visited North Kensington.

The reason he is looking so pained, is because he had the nerve to come here after the Grenfell Silent Walk yesterday, go to the “Over 40’s Disco” at the Maxilla Social Club (opposite Grenfell Tower) and and was seen appearing to have fun outside right near Grenfell Tower and even allegedly flirt with locals including one who lost friends here in the disaster. This picture is taken after a resident, who was just there for a good night out with friends – was approached by Mr Cherry, and locals then recognised him, had a few words and then the resident threw a drink over him!

Cherry is a director of Rock Feilding- Mellen’s property development company, the ridiculously named, Socially Conscious Capital.

Mr Cherry seems to think that acting as a right hand man for someone who we believe to be guilty of corporate manslaughter and before talking to one of us, having the nerve to chat to bereaved locals without disclosing who he is and what his interests are, is perfectly fine.

Well let us tell this arrogant piece of work it isn’t. What came out of the residents mouth afterwards is not printable here.

Socially Conscious Capital are pictured above with Giles Cherry on the right.

And below, is another picture of Giles Cherry so others can recognise him and tell him (he apparently lives in Shepherd’s Bush) to get out – he and his destructive and arrogant business practices are not welcome here. After all, he has property interests all over the country to go to when some Grenfell survivors are still in temporary housing and some are being pressured by RBKC into taking unsuitable properties.

What is also unsuitable, Mr Cherry, is pretending to be from round here, talking nonchalantly to bereaved people, not telling people who you are and unapologetically showing your face here on the day of the Grenfell Silent Walk and happily partying and chatting away with traumatised residents directly opposite Grenfell Tower as if nothing happened – when so many people are struggling to cope with the consequences of the decisions over the refurbishment of it that your business partner and friend Rock Feilding-Mellen made. He is not welcome here and neither are you or any other friends or associates of his.

Ariadne’s Nectar Bar under possible threat of closure by the council

This is Ariadne’s Nectar Bar. It is a very welcoming and fun family-run local pub in Latimer Road, North Kensington.

For some reason, a small handful of individuals, including former St Helen’s councillor Eve Allison appear to take objection to this friendly community pub and want to close it down.

THINKers will be at the meeting today (13th September) at 10am, Kensington Town Hall to give our support to Ariadne’s. The accusations from Eve Allison sound as if she has visited a completely different venue, but here they are:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Document.ashx?czJKcaeAi5tUFL1DTL2UE4zNRBcoShgo=M8SxpiimhWlfVh3vjdUPD7rqaMFL4wMcsRFbOIriLmCITBXD8TsaYw%3d%3d&rUzwRPf%2bZ3zd4E7Ikn8Lyw%3d%3d=pwRE6AGJFLDNlh225F5QMaQWCtPHwdhUfCZ%2fLUQzgA2uL5jNRG4jdQ%3d%3d&mCTIbCubSFfXsDGW9IXnlg%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&kCx1AnS9%2fpWZQ40DXFvdEw%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&uJovDxwdjMPoYv%2bAJvYtyA%3d%3d=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&FgPlIEJYlotS%2bYGoBi5olA%3d%3d=NHdURQburHA%3d&d9Qjj0ag1Pd993jsyOJqFvmyB7X0CSQK=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNR9xqBux0r1Q8Za60lavYmz=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNQ16B2MHuCpMRKZMwaG1PaO=ctNJFf55vVA%3d

The accusations made against this pubs and its owners sound crazy – accusations of noise, crime, drugs and even harm to children! We do not recognise any of this – it is simply a very friendly comfortable local pub.

If people are going to go into making accusations about places, they could bother to put dates, times and people in the picture – are Eve Allison and her imagination the best possible witnesses here?

Some did wonder if a few of the complaints about Ariadne’s Bar were partly because the owners are not politically sympathetic to the council? This might not sound quite so crazy if we point out that when when we posted about Janet’s Bar – run by Conservative Cllr Janet Evans someone sent us a link with a positive recommendation for Janet’s Bar – but THINK are a family-friendly blog and could not publish the link as it was from a website for an escort agency – VIP Palace Escorts!

THINK have many pictures of senior Conservative councillors partying at Janet’s Bar but we do not know if anyone from the escort agency was in attendance, but we would be very careful if we were a councillor or former councillor about with regards to making accusations, particularly with regards to unsavoury characters around other people’s pubs and bars. Janet’s Bar have on several consecutive years (despite the many terrible reviews) won or been a runner up for RBKC’s “Best Bar None” Cllr Evans’ Bar also has something of a monopoly on a late night licence round the area in Old Brompton Road – we’re not so sure all this is a coincidence.

Anyway, back to North Kensington and the accusations and complaint s about Ariadne’s made in the report are unrecognisable to us (and one of our THINKers has been there on several occasions, including private parties) the owner, Demetri is something of a local character and for most people we know in the area, the pub is a much loved fixture of our community.

If some choose to move to an urban and bustling area of London like ours, they should not expect the rest of the existing community to behave like a sleepy rural village. Maybe some of the other complainants should name themselves so we can check if they are interested in getting Ariadne’s Nectar Bar closed down to buy up a bargain in North Kensington and redevelop it into luxury flats?

We will remind some at the council that appearing to be overly favourable to their colleagues while behaving in a heavy-handed manner towards others, will not go down very well (with drinks or anything else) with local residents – yes rules have to be obeyed but we believe that some connected with RBKC are bending the rules for some while leaning very heavily upon others.

After all, if we are going to talk about pubs causing antisocial nuisances to residents and with alleged drug dealing going on we could mention a certain place in King’s Road, Chelsea. We could also mention another former councillor who kept this place open despite several residents’ complaints and Police involvement and who was on the judging panel of the licensing awards…….

To be fair, most drinking venues will experience some form of disorder in one form or another but we do not recognise Ariadne’s to be any sort of disorderly venue.

THINK will also remind Eve Allison that not only did she lose her seat at the local elections so is no longer the local councillor there – she also does not even live in the ward and really has no business making complaints about the pub (she must have very exceptional hearing if she can hear noise from the her home) – in fact some of us are wondering if someone put her up to it.

Perhaps it is also time for some council officers to pay another visit to King’s Road (the part of King’s Road near Ann Lane)?

RBKC: Eyes wide shut?

Concern has been mounting in West London over the conduct of a charity that the powerful councillors at Kensington Town Hall are said to be keen to fund. In contrast to the vast majority of North Kensington’s charities and community groups, this charity’s local reputation has been deteriorating because to its conduct since the 14th June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people lost their lives. Despite the local agitation, there are real concerns that Kensington and Chelsea council are eager to boost the charity’s standing by backing and funding a consortium headed by the group. Will the council stand by them in the face of some alarming revelations?

Midaye – Musawa – RBKC

Midaye Somali Development Network appear to be among the many charities and community organisations that have done sterling work in North Kensington before, during and after the Grenfell Tower fire. In forming and leading a black and minority ethnic (BME) consortium called Musawa, Midaye cemented their position as a favourite of the Conservative council. And in July the consortium released a report titled “Maybe Things Can Change” A BME Community Needs Assessment After Grenfell.

Musawa is made up of Midaye, plus 13 other organisations who are credited in the report. Midaye, however, raised the money, formed the consortium and wrote the report. It was launched at the Town Hall on July 4th with some fanfare and curiosity about exactly what this consortium would deliver.

It has come to light that other, credible local groups have let the council know that after years of concern regarding Midaye’s conduct, they can no longer remain silent. Criticisms of the report have been communicated to RBKC, and further probing has revealed a litany of dubious practice by Midaye.

The Report

The Musawa report is full of faults according to concerned local people. Inherent weaknesses in the makeup of the consortium should already have given the council pause for thought before funding the group, they say. And they have expressed anxiety that K and C will plough on with their relationship of convenience with Midaye, as the council is desperate to present themselves as a changed beast since the Grenfell fire brought them disrepute and infamy.

One criticism is that the report contains no contributions from survivors of the fire. Another is that established, credible community groups have not joined Musawa. There are over 40 BME organisations currently active in North Kensington. Moroccans, the largest minority group in North Kensington, are entirely absent from Musawa. One group credited with taking part in the research, Grove Youth Development Group, appears to be a phantom, as nobody in North Kensington knows what it is.

Worse, local people are offended that the word “Grenfell” is used to boost the report’s pertinence, but the content has little or nothing to do with the fire. Despite the lack of attention paid to the fire and what contributed to it, there is also scant analysis of the macro: the class system, privilege, national trends or political relationships and decisions.

Less seriously, the report is poorly put together. The two writers are named, but their credentials not given; the footnotes all come from the same two sources. The content lacks potency and relevance. We know that council leader Elizabeth Campbell abhors typos, they were the focus of her response to Emma Dent Coad’s unsettling report in to housing and inequality in the borough. What the leader makes of a report as fundamentally flawed as Musawa’s will be interesting.

Money

We understand that the council has been informed of people’s concerns about the amount of public money being awarded to Midaye, whether from Big Lottery or from the local authority’s Children’s Services. In the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, Midaye assembled another ‘consortium’ and received tens of thousands of pounds, and some local people have expressed concern that this money could have been misappropriated. Questions are also being asked about how trusts and foundations make decisions on distributing their grants in the local area and whether enough due diligence is being carried out.

Funders of charities liaise with the council to receive guidance on where to allocate their awards, and local groups have raised the alarm that if the council follows through with its apparent enthusiasm for the Musawa project, others will lose out. The knock-on effect could be the denial of vial services to some of the neediest people in West London. On the face of it, Kensington and Chelsea has a thriving third sector, but in reality these organisations are filling the gap vacated by the local authority, who take a light touch approach to public provision. Decisions on which service providers will receive scare resources are therefore of great seriousness.

Given the context of austerity, cuts and a generally hostile environment for most of the local population, concerned parties are alarmed that the money is going to those with the loudest voices and most ingratiating social media, rather than those with a track record of effective provision, from elderly care, education, sports and all kinds of advocacy.

Midaye’s voice is loud, but much of what they communicate is superficial, apparently aimed at funders, rather than providing an honest reflection of their work. They are keen on Tweets and photos, most recently of a summer residential trip in which just four children out of 120 were from Midaye. This type of practice has irritated the local charity sector, and it is to their credit that they remained silent. But the omertà is over and the ranks have been broken by people with voices too credible to be ignored by a functioning local authority.

Litany

The Musawa report certainly fits the bill for Kensington and Chelsea council, as the Conservative leadership has repeatedly claimed that it is changing its culture following Grenfell. The report signals that the council is engaged with, and listening to, the community. RBKC might point out that the Musawa report, despite offering nothing new, covers a range of issues of concern to BME groups. But the problems with Midaye are far deeper than the report and raise questions about the council itself; its decision making and its understanding of what makes good service provision.

We understand that the council has been made aware of a long history of malpractice at Midaye and that disquiet has been simmering for years:

– One person who spoke with the local authority told us that Midaye has previously raised money to tackle non-existent ‘tribal issues’ within the local Somali community;

– Midaye apparently boosted its database by offering to issue Grenfell survivors with vouchers at their office. Upon arrival, the survivors’ details were obtained, and they were sent to a shop further south in the borough to collect their voucher;

– There are rumours that Midaye greatly exaggerated the number of homeless people from Grenfell they supported. The housing work they undertook was half-hearted and added to the bureaucratic nightmare suffered by Grenfell survivors;

– By creating the consortium without prior discussion with other local groups, Midaye has created tensions, ironic given that there is a whole section in the report on community leadership and voice;

– The Musawa report recommends parenting programmes be rolled out, but Midaye have previously spurned opportunities to be involved in such classes…

The list above is not exhaustive. Perhaps most worryingly Kensington and Chelsea apparently initiated a scheme whereby Midaye took on responsibility for the prevention of Female Genital Mutilation with RBKC promoting Midaye alongside hospitals as a source of support and information. Was due diligence done for the FGM partnership?

The Council’s Response  

The response of the council to the whistle-blowing over Midaye could tell us much about whether there is any substance to Elizabeth Campbell’s unrestrained use of the word “change” since taking leadership of Kensington council after the fire. They have been informed, apparently unequivocally, that their mooted partnership with Midaye/Musawa is ill-advised and considered an existential threat to other community organisations who need public money to deliver services that make a tangible difference.

The real situation in the Royal Borough is a messy one: Death and destruction followed by trauma and a long legal fight for justice with no arrests yet made. Poverty is widespread and worsening, with serious implications on people’s health and life chances.

The North Kensington community provided support and care in the aftermath of the fire, while the politicians elected by South Kensington failed to act. In the anarchy, durable alliances formed with unspoken codes of conduct based on mutual respect. Parallel to this, the council focused on public relations. That is the world we live in, but no amount of PR will be able to mask another failure to heed the voices of reason in the North of the borough.

THINK have also been informed that a former councillor who we have mentioned in this blog in two articles before and expressed our concerns previously about how charitable her intentions for our community were, has been involved with Midaye/Musawa. This individual resigned as a councillor back in 2009 when she was being investigated for allegedly misappropriating council funds. This only further adds to our concern about this organisation and the council’s knowledge (or rather, lack of knowledge) about the workings of it and some of the people involved .

(With our big thanks to fellow local blog Urban Dandy)

Read their brilliant blog here:

https://urbandandylondon.com/