THINK Halloween Special 2: A Nightmare on Hornton Street

It will come as no surprise to some, because we spend so much time at Kensington Town Hall (in fact our editor is probably the most regular resident attendee there), that we sometimes have nightmares, which involve councillors and senior staff….

One nightmare involved being on trial with Julie Mills as our barrister, Marie-Therese Rossi prosecuting, and RBKC Mayor Will Pascall as judge!

A really strange recent one had RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith feeding dog food to a hen in a broom cupboard Go figure….

One day hopefully, we may be able to eventually not have nightmares, but far worse is , feeling like we exist in a permanent nightmare.

Anyway, most of what we would wish from our council appears to be impossible beyond belief. So we’ll be realistic here and will stick to Kensington Town Hall, communications and council meetings and some postive suggestions.

Just a couple of our suggestions for changes at the Town Hall since we last posted about this have been taken on board, but taken on board they were:

– We have 72 seconds of silence for Grenfell before full council meetings – of course it was1nt just us who asked for this; so did most of our community…….

– We now have displays of local art, that have replaced the pictures of former leaders and mayors

So let us again make just a few small, very realistic and very easy and doable suggestions and hope that someone is listening tbis time:

1. A Grenfell memorial as a centrepiece in Kensington Town Hall:

We do not have to explain this; it is the right and proper thing to do πŸ’š

2. Have webcasts of ALL RBKC committee meetings

Residents deserve to know the public business and functions of this council. It is good that we have webcasts of the RBKC Full Council meetings and Leadership Team meetings but a lot of really important matters are raised in committees. Many residents cannot make it to the Town Hall on a weekday evening for various reasons, but this does not mean they happen to be reluctant to get involved or disinterested.

3. Allow residents who cannot make it to committee meetings to submit questions online in advance and have an online facility to do so :

Greater resident participation needs to be encouraged. If the questions are submitted within reasonable notice, are appropriate to the meeting, and to ensure that email responses of answers are sent back by the next day – we do not see any reason why this cannot go ahead.

4. An RBKC Housing Twitter account – and please update it regularly :

There are Twitter accoumts for many council services, but absolutely nothing on housing, which is arguably one of the biggest issues in the borough. Regular communications – in all forms- with residents particularly on tbis issue are vital.

5. “RBKC Question Time”

We think it would be a really good addition to the council calendar to have open Q & A meetings in the Town Hall with a live webcast , so those who live or work in RBKC have the opportunity to put the RBKC Leadership Team “on the spot”. As long as the questions and the residents asking them were not all selected beforehand and everyone attending had a chance to ask a question or make a point as well as put questions to them online of course – we could see a lot of local interest and participation in this.

Anyway these are just a few simple suggestions from THINK and we would be interested to know what suggestions other residents have …

We hope all our readers enjoy Halloween and please do not have nightmares!!

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THINK Halloween Special 1: The election nightmare before Brexit?

So it’s official: a General Election will be taking place on December the 12th.

Prime Mnister Boris Johnson, pictured above (!) has in the view of many people, been turning this country into one Hell of a constitutional nightmare.

THINK say to Boris the Pumpkinhead that by repeatedly saying “Get Brexit done” like a silly advertising slogan without the backing of many of your MPs or your own voters, without a clear and workable plan, is no way to run this country. It appears that Boris has managed the feat of losing support of both Leavers amd Remainers.

Brexit of course, has been extended and remainers have been spared further nightmares by it not going ahead today.

But what may or may not happen next will depend on the outcome of the election. See this from The Independent:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-delay-extension-labour-corbyn-boris-johnson-article-50-latest-a9179371.html%3famp

Some might see this as by voting Conservative, they get hard Brexit, by voting Labour, theu get soft Brexit and by voting Lib Dem they get to remain.

But things are of course, not as straightforward as that and particularly here in Kensington, some voters may wish to take note of this:

Here is the position regarding Brexit of our sitting Labour MP Emma Dent Coad:

So while the position of some people in her party may veer towards a soft Brexit, Emma Dent Coad is a solid remainer.

As for the Conservatives here (and in nearby Battersea), have a look at this from today’s Evening Standard:

Conservatives in marginal seats in London seem to have come up with a cunning plan for any upcoming election β€” trying not to mention Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Brexit in their campaign literature Kim Caddy, Tory candidate for Battersea, has no mention of Johnson or leaving the EU on a recent letter to residents. Instead, her leaflets focus on β€œmaking Communities safer”, β€œbuilding more homes”, and transport. Caddy is a councillor in Battersea, where she is hoping to unseat shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova.

Similarly, Felicity Buchan, who is fighting to overturn Emma Dent Coad’s majority of 20 in Kensington and Chelsea, recently sent residents a leaflet on local issues without mentioning the former London mayor.

Buchan’s leaflet does mention a β€œgood Brexit deal” as one of six bullet points, with the caveat: β€œ*As of October 17th 2019. Clearly this is a developing situation.” Buchan told The Londoner the reason for leaving Johnson off the leaflet.β€œWe are looking to introduce me to the constituency,” she said. β€œWe have had letters sent out to constituents from the Prime Minister. I have met the Prime Minister on several occasions and we have a good working relationship.” Asked whether Mr Johnson would campaign with her in the constituency, she said: β€œI don’t know at the moment.” Buchan explained her decision to put Jeremy Corbyn on her leaflet: β€œThat’s to scare people.”

Well, whatever some may or may not think of Jeremy Corbyn, it looks like voters appear to be terrified of the prospect of Boris Johnson remaining Prime Minister!

Also some Tories here appear reluctant to talk about their position on Brexit – largely because 68% of Kensington voted remain.

It is going to be very difficult for them to convince voters in this – the most marginal seat in the UK – to vote for them without giving much away as to where they actually stand on this……

Well, one candidate we have in Kensington who is not shy of admitting they are a Brexiteer is Jay Aston (of 80s group Bucks Fizz) who is standing in Kensington for the Brexit Party.

So far we have not heard from any residents who have received any Brexit Party leaflets – yet Unfortunately this snap election makes holding hustings rather difficult,so it looks like there won’t be an opportunity for us to ask all the candidates to share their “Euro Visions” (or not) with us and answer our questions in person

As for the Lib Dems, this is what a THINKer has received from them today:

Former minister Sam Gyimah was a Conservative MP until recently, and some remainers may not be so convinced by his entire voting record in Parliament over Brexit. Here are a few excerpts of his voting record taken from our blog post about him this week:
On 7 Dec 2016:Sam Gyimah voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and in favour of starting the process by 31 March 2017.
On 13 Mar 2017:Sam Gyimah voted against guaranteeing EU derived rights, and the potential to acquire residency rights, for EU and EEA citizens legally resident in the UK.
On 13 Dec 2017:Sam Gyimah voted to allow ministers to withdraw the UK from the European Economic Area, the European single market.
On 17 Jan 2018:Sam Gyimah voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Read the full post here

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/29/kensington-lib-dem-fail-2-enter-sam-the-carpetbagger/

The leaflet also contains a brief biography (below) which omits the fact that he stood as a Tory Leadership contender and briefly fancied his chances of being Prime Minister only this Summer!

Perhaps Jay Aston might want to treat Sam to a rendition of “Making your mind up”?

So some Liberal Democrats may not be convinced Sam Gyimah is one of them. In fact, he has only been a Lib Dem since last month.

But let’s face facts here, Kensington Constituency is really a two horse race between Emma Dent Coad MP for Labour (a remainer) and Felicity Buchan (a leaver) for the Conservatives. There are omly 20 votes in tbis, the mpst marginal seat in the UK, so every vote counts.

So THINK urge everyone here, of whatever political persuasion, to go out and voteand to to do wisely.

Because who knows what possible horrors could lie in wait if you don’t?

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Today’s TMO AGM postponed: Now time to try and clear some cobwebs…..

We will start by saving KCTMO resident members a trip to Queen’s Gate this evening by announcing that today’s TMO AGM has been postponed.

The AGM is now due to go ahead on Monday 25th November at 6:30pm at Baden-Powell House, 65 Queen’s Gate, London SW7 5JS.

Pictured above, is Kerry Tromanhauser. He is Company Secretary of KCTMO. The letter notifying residents of the change of date of the AGM was from him.

As most people here know, the TMO is in place and has to stay in place as an organisation solely for legal purposes and being answerable to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Also as most people know, yesterday the report of Phase One of the Inquiry Report came out. We will not respond to and post on this until we have read the report in full and until the survivors and the bereaved and others comcerned have had the opportunity to fully make their responses. But here is a brief summary from Inside Housing:

https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/grenfell-inquiry-round-up-of-sir-martin-moore-bicks-phase-one-conclusions-63928

Many resident members still question how close the workings of the TMO are to RBKC.

Well, we can help here; Kerry Tromanhauser is also Interim Director of Governance and Compliance at RBKC and has been so since September 2017

Now, this does appear to cast the decision of RBKC to abolish the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee and the role of Heather Wills, Interim Director of Governance and Coordination at RBKC who was behind the RBKC Scrutiny Arrangement Report and recommendations and her very poor efforts to communicate and consult with residents on this in a rather bad light indeed.

See our last Grenfell Scrutiny blog posts here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/05/grenfell-scrutiny-and-the-summer-of-our-discontent-part-1-the-build-up-and-the-showdown/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/grenfell-scrutiny-and-the-summer-of-our-discontent-part-2-grenfell-committee-gets-the-chop-as-dizzy-lizzy-and-rbkc-lose-their-heads-the-full-council-meeting/

Matters of communicating and consulting with residents (or not!) brings us to another (but not completely unconnected) matter that troubles us greatly.

Again like in our last TMO post :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/21/kctmo-add-insult-to-injury-and-put-their-foot-in-it-again/

Many resident members have not received a letter about the postponement of today’s TMO AGM.

Mi-Voice and its “Delivery Director” Tony Slater are STILL responsible for managing the the votes, proxy votes and for correspondence to and from KCTMO to resident members.

Tony Slater and Mi-Voice were in charge of the voting at this fiasco:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/never-mind-the-ballots-at-kctmo-kensingtons-allegedly-corrupt-terrible-mismanagement-organisation/

As Mr Tromanhauser has a law degree , perhaps he can try and answer this: Given the legal position of KCTMO, is it a good idea to retain the services of a company that has not only managed votes in a dubious fashion (proxy votes not registered or not supposedly received, not all resident members notified, unsecured ballot boxes after there had been none provided) , but whose services were used by the previous incarnation of the TMO – when the TMO was managing (or not) RBKC’s housing stock before the Grenfell Tower fire?

This is from TMO papers in 2016:

And this is also taken from a TMO Board Report around the same time:

173 bed “Hotel Hell” in Notting Hill Gate set to be approved by RBKC this evening

We apologise for the very short notice, but at 6:30 this evening, there is a meeting of the RBKC Planning Committee at Kensington Town Hall over plans submitted by developer Frogmore, for a 6 storey, 173 bedroom hotel at 146-164 Notting Hill Gate (where M & S Simply Food is currently located) .

The agenda and details are here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/8014/Committee/1568/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

RBKC’s planning officers have recommended this scheme for approval.

The plans are opposed by the local residents’ associations and groups including the Hillgate Village Residents Association, the Ladbroke Association, the Pembridge Association and Bulmer Mews Residents.

There have been 63 letters objecting and just 4 letters supporting the plans.

We note that the plans appear to show that the height and mass of the proposed building are double that of the present one, causing very significant loss of light to the nearby residents.

We also note that the plans are out of character with the local area and the works will cause very severe disturbance to the community.

We are concerned that allowing increasingly taller buildings here as has happened in some other parts of London, sets a bad precedent for Notting Hill Gate and for other high streets in the borough, ruining the character, landscape and skyline of the local area.

We believe that a hotel of this size would cause significant increases in pollution and congestion in the area from hotel guests using taxis and ubers in an already bighly polluted and congested part of London.

Some of what little public support we have seen for this scheme, appears to suggest that this hotel would significantly benefit local businesses.

Having looked at what type of hotel this would supposedly be (the developers have said a boutique hotel but the plans seem to point more to a Travelodge/Premier Travel Inn type of hotel) we believe this to be greatly exaggerated. These tend to be short stay places and larger hotels like this one, have an in-house restaurant/bar with diiscounts for their guests. (a restaurant is included in the plans ).

This hotel in our view would detract from the character of the area and would only be of real benefit financially to developers and the company running the hotel.

We believe that Notting Hill Gate could do with some changes to improve this high street, but the size and character of this proposed hotel is inappropriate and unsympathetic to the location, and is obviously deeply unpopular with residents. We do not have anything wrong with a hotel in the area per se but this is far too big in size and scale and intrusive to nearby residents.

THINK urge the council and the developers to listen to the views of local residents, and for Frogmore to reconsider this and to come back with a different plan that takes the views and requirements of the local community fully on board.

Have a πŸ’š for Grenfell and North Kensington

This week has been very difficult for survivors, bereaved and the surrounding North Kensington comnunity.

The report of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry report is due to be released today, and many of the survivors and bereaved have been going through their advance copies of the report.

Sadly some of the media and press have chosen not to respect this and leaked information ahead of publication ; something which has caused many of those directly affected further suffering. Also, members of our community who are traumatised, are now having to put up with media intrusion. This is unacceptable.

We cannot comment too much on what we have or haven’ t read or heard, but let us just say that we believe that any attempt to smear the brave firefighters who came to the rescue of many in Grenfell Tower and the walkways on that night, is also unacceptable.

What is even more unacceptable in the minds of all affected here, and has been from the start, is the possiibility of the parties responsible not being brought to justice.

Here is a press release from our MP Emma Dent Coad, that has been posted on the Grenfell Action Group:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2019/10/27/grenfell-inquiry-interim-report-what-we-fear/

THINK stands here today with thoughts of the 72, their families and friends, the survivors and all affected in our community in our minds and deep in our hearts. We hope to support one another and stay strong as a community together throughout this and hope that others unfamiliar to Grenfell and our community will try to show respect and understanding.

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HELP AND SUPPORT:

Here are the contact details for the NHS Grenfell Health and Wellbeimg Service who will be at both Notting Hill Methodist Church and The Curve from 10:30am today

Wednesday 30 October: How to contact us

The SPACE will also be open this evening from 8pm to 11pm (note: this is not open to the press and is for members of the local community)

https://www.nottingdale.org/

Kensington Lib Dem fail #2: Enter Sam the Carpetbagger

Today we have heard that the Lib Dems have suddenly replaced Rabina Khan as their candidate for Kensington constituency with Sam Gyimah, who defected to the Lib Dems from the Conservatives.

No, it is not because Rabina has suddenly done anything drastic (we understand she is not responsible for their appalling leaflets by the way). It appears that some delusional top brass in Lib Dem ranks, appear to think that by just parachuting in “names” into central London seats, they can actually win them from third place ( !)

Actually things do not quite work like that. This constuency is one of the most socially and culturally diverse seats in the UK. It also has pockets of economic deprivation, particularly in the north of the seat, and is home to Grenfell, the scene of a national disaster two years ago in which 72 lives were lost. We do not take kindly to people jumping in here and only appearing to represent themselves.

Therefore if Sam Gyimah really wants to stand any chance of representing us, ought to show that he has a good understanding of all the local issues here. Since he is refusing to stand down as an MP from Surrey East (where he was elected as a Conservative), we cannot on the face of it, see much commitment on his part to this area.

We have not seen any references or connections that he has to this area. At least Rabina Khan who did not have local connections here, did have some background working in housing in London with disadvantaged people.

So what of Sam’s commitment to the Liberal Democrats? Well, he has only been a Lib Dem for little over a month. This account of a car crash TV interview with him may not offer Lib Dem voters much comfort:

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1178172/Brexit-News-BBC-Breakfast-Sam-Gyimah-Liberal-Democrats/amp

Mr Gyimah admitted he β€œdid not know the detail of every Lib Dem policy” after appearing to be uncomfortable with the party’s stance on winter fuel allowance.

This does not look good, to say the least.

So what of his remain credentials? THINK had a look at his voting record as an MP and found a few things here may also offer little comfort to remainers :
On 15 Jun 2016: Sam Gyimah was absent for a vote on European Union Membership
On 6 Jul 2016: Sam Gyimah was absent for a vote on EU Nationals Currently Living in the UK β€” Right to Remain
On 14 Sep 2016: Sam Gyimah was absent for a vote on UK Withdrawal from Membership of the European Union
On 7 Dec 2016: Sam Gyimah voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and in favour of starting the process by 31 March 2017.
On 1 Feb 2017: Sam Gyimah voted to empower the Prime Minister to give notification of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union.
On 8 Feb 2017: Sam Gyimah voted to empower the Prime Minister to give notification of the United Kingdom’s intention to leave the European Union.
On 8 Feb 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against the UK remaining a member of the European Atomic Agency Community (Euratom) when withdrawing from the European Union and against treating leaving Euratom separately from leaving the European Union.
On 13 Mar 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against guaranteeing EU derived rights, and the potential to acquire residency rights, for EU and EEA citizens legally resident in the UK.
On 11 Sep 2017 : Sam Gyimah voted to end the supremacy of EU law in UK law; to convert EU law into domestic law on the UK’s exit from the European Union and to give ministers the power to correct deficiencies in retained EU law.
On 14 Nov 2017: Sam Gyimah voted not to require courts or tribunals to have regard to anything done on or after exit day by the European Court, another EU entity or the EU.
On 14 Nov 2017: Sam Gyimah voted to end the supremacy of EU law in domestic law and to remove the mechanism which enables the flow of new EU law into UK law.
On 21 Nov 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against retaining general principles of EU law derived from EU treaties, direct EU legislation and EU directives, as part of UK law after the UK leaves the EU, and voted to only retain those general principles deriving from European Court [of justice] case law.
On 21 Nov 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights remaining part of UK law on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
On 21 Nov 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against requiring the UK Government to report on changes to EU legislation which form part of UK law, and against requiring the Government to consider adopting such changes to ensure that the rights of workers and employees in the UK are no less favourable than they would have been had the UK remained a member of the EU or EEA.
On 12 Dec 2017 :Sam Gyimah voted to allow laws which were required by the UK’s membership of the European single market to be weakened, removed or replaced by Ministers after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
On 13 Dec 2017: Sam Gyimah voted to allow ministers to withdraw the UK from the European Economic Area, the European single market.
On 20 Dec 2017: Sam Gyimah voted against the UK retaining the EU’s common customs tariff and common commercial policy

And just look at this one:
On 17 Jan 2018: Sam Gyimah voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Oh wait, there’s still more….
On 13 Jun 2018: Sam Gyimah voted against largely retaining the EU “Charter of Fundamental Rights” as part of UK law following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union
On 17 Jul 2018: Sam Gyimah voted against making retaining membership of the European medicines regulatory network a government objective.
On 28 Jan 2019: Sam Gyimah voted to confirm the rights of Irish citizens to enter and remain in the UK without permission but to otherwise make European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals, and their family members, subject to UK immigration controls.
On 1 Apr 2019: Sam Gyimah was absent for a vote on EU Withdrawal and Future Relationship β€” Motion (C) Customs Union

April fool? He must take some people for a fool, but the Kensington electorate are no fools and after many see this, it is very unlikely that “Carpetbagger Sam” will get anywhere further than third place here.

Kensington Lib Dem fail #1 Election leaflets: Grenfell? What Grenfell?

Pictured above is Rabina Khan, she WAS the Liberal Democrat candidate for Kensington constituency. However, today, we have heard the news that she has been replaced as candidate by MP for Surrey East, Sam Gyimah, who defected from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems last month (but is still an MP) – and we will have more about him in part 2

Anyway, yesterday, we received some Lib Dem election leaflets from residents in North Kensington. There are two lots of these leaflets.

The first copy screams “send this to xxxx whatever constituency” and comcerns itself purely with Jo Swinson and national issues – Brexit, the economy, the environment, the NHS – all issues that are of interest to people here of course, but nothing specifically local to Kensington whatsoever. Have a look :

Some residents receiving these could be mistaken for thinking Jo Swinson was actually their candidate here! We also note that there is NO mention of social housing on this.

Here is the Kensington leaflet (and this really is beyond dire)

Yesterday, we criticised the Tories for their election leaflets. But this leaflet, meant to be specifically for Kensington – also contains ZERO mention of Grenfell – appalling. They do contain a brief reference to Rabina’s background in housing projects for vulnerable people but NO actual mention of social bousing anywhere else.

At least the Conservative leaflets did mention a couple of specific local issues such as South Kensington amd the Holiday Inn Forum and 20MPH speed limits in North Kensington…..

These leafets mention no local issues AT ALL – not Grenfell, not even Earl’s Court, where their one councillor on RBKC has done some outstanding work (and in other parts of the borough too) and topped the polls there at the local elections last year – we are talking about the one and only Linda Wade – and she doesn’t get a single mention in the leaflet either.

Whoever put together the “Kensington” leaflet ought to hang their head in shame

We will remind people again. With the report of phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry report out, this is a very stressful and upsetting time for our community, and if the loss of 72 of our own in a preventable national disaster isn’t hard enough for us ; the lack of acknowledgment of this amounts to rubbing salt in our wounds.

Residents received these leaflets only a few days ago, in Elgin Crescent, which is less than a 10 minute walk from Grenfell. Needless to say, they were less than impressed – the same goes for us.

Kensington Tories: Taking the cake: Grenfell

Grenfell was and still very much is, part of our local North Kensington community. The 72 people who lost their lives there, the survivors, the bereaved and affected local residents deserve remembrance and respect. (Yes we have to keep reminding some people.)

This does not appear to have been fully comprehended by everyone who has paid a visit to our local area however . Some residents have recently received leaflets from Conservative candidate for Kensington, Felicity Buchan and her party. And while we can see nothing wrong with them campaigning here and delivering leaflets, they might care to reconsider how they go about doing this.

Some residents have questioned the content of the leaflets. We have so far only received two but here are some that others have received:

Note the complete non mention of Grenfell, in leaflets that were delivered to neighbouring streets to Grenfell Tower.

Also when they say “standing up for our community” one does have to wonder just which community they are thinking of exactly? Here is a list compiled by one local resident of the issues the leaflets have included (or not) :

Yes they appear to have finally started talking about Brexit – our post yesterday had mentioned the lack of communications from the local Conservatives regarding this – but other issues are important to us too.

This THINKer living around the corner from Grenfell – had only received two leaflets and a questionnaire (which also did not mention Grenfell), and it is not mentioned in any of the leaflets that others have recieved

Maybe it’s time to show Felicity and co some of the reactions from local residents posted on Twitter:

Yes, only a few days before the report of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is due to come out, some not very compassionate soul in the local Tory party has decided that this is the exactly right time to be bothering traumatised residents with this

Here’s more:

Well we did suggest in yesterday’s blog post about Felicity and the Conservatives that this wasn’t exactly the best time to be delivering leaflets here. They really ought to give residents living here some consideration and respect before sending out any more of them and as well as that, these latest ones do not appear to have been written with this community in mind.

This blog believes that if Felicity Buchan really wishes to represent this constituency in Parliament, she should really get to know it properly – ALL of it – plus familiarise herself with the North Kensington locality, its issues such as Grenfell and social housing, and members of the local community .

We know that most of the RBKC councillors read our blog, so maybe some of them could show her this as some way of at least trying to get her to show some interest in people living here and as to which issues matter most in North Kensington? If she familiarised herself with not just our blog, but the other residents and their social media accounts that we follow and read postings in full, that would at least be something of a start.

But it has been suggested that the ignorance towards our community on the part of some of the local Conservatives could even be deliberate – we certainly hope not, but here is some further information:

Some might remember our blog post from last year reporting on Kensington local elections hustings at Fox Primary School:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/local-elections-kensington-hustings-falls-apart-as-the-tories-failure-to-address-the-elephant-in-the-room-takes-its-toll-on-proceedings/

Some might also remember a post we wrote soon after on local Tory chairman Andrew Foster ( who is also shown on the right in our title picture) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/05/02/andrew-bully-beef-foster-chair-of-the-local-tories-and-nasty-piece-of-work%ef%bb%bf/

Yes, that hustings was memorable for all the wrong reasons – Grenfell seemingly kept off the agenda resulting in a scene with a traumatised local which culminated in the Tories leaving and pretty much the collapse of the whole event, plus Foster’s aggresive and threatening behaviour towards one of us (a woman half his size who had a dictaphone for her own note taking purposes) – it was an absolute disgrace.

Our blog has been away for some time so we hope people can forgive us for not mentioning this earlier, but during our absence, we heard from one of the opposition candidates who informed us that Grenfell had in fact been deliberately kept off the agenda – on Foster’s insistence.. The candidate told us that if they had known about this beforehand, they would have never had agreed to appear at the event.

By the way, at least 20 minutes of that meeting were spent discussing dog poo. We do have to wonder what kind of person Andrew Foster is if he thinks this is a more important local matter than a national disaster and the loss of 72 lives on our doorsteps?

As for Felicity Buchan, as said before, we know very little about her, But perhaps we have to question who she is really listening to here.

We did once in a blog post mention Jennie Mills, a resident’s association chair from Chelsea and her ignorant and offensive comments on Grenfell at an RBKC Governance meeting last year, saying that she was “tired of hearing about Grenfell” and that people should “just get over this, like they had done so with the blitz” . When shocked and offended locals (including survivors and bereaved) at the meeting asked Mrs Mills if she cared about Grenfell, she replied “no”.

We can reveal that Jennie Mills is in fact the chair of Walton Street RA – the very same street in which Felicity Buchan happens to reside.

Kensington Tories: Taking the cake: Brexit

A lot of things happened in our long absence and one piece of news was that our former MP, Victoria “Lady Baking Powder” Borwick had failed in her attempt to be reselected as Conservative candidate for Kensington and she did not make the shortlist . Instead the Tories selected Felicity Buchan.

Some might remember our blog post about Victoria Borwick regarding her election leaflet and her voting record in Parliament back in May 2017 :

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

Brexit was indeed one of the factors which contributed to Labour’s Emma Dent Coad taking the seat from Lady Borwick :

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

The panel that selected Felicity Buchan did happen to include “THINK regular” Cllr Matthew Palmer!! Here are just a few appearances he has made in this blog before:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/a-caring-community-under-a-callous-council/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/cllr-chicken-run-matthew-palmer-gets-his-priorities-right/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/matthew-palmers-offensive-behaviour-lands-him-in-trouble/

It was revealed in The Steeple Times this Summer that Palmer when he was still a Conservative councillor had been campaigning for the Brexit Party in Gainsborough. This has since got him expelled from the Conservative Party – he now sits as an independent.

A Royal Borough Rotter – Councillor Matthew Palmer

Anyway, that’s enough of Matthew Palmer and time to focus on someone more relevant: what do we know about Felicity Buchan?

Well not a lot! She is local (resident in neighbouring Chelsea), so we suppose that’s one plus point for her. Consetvative Home says this about her background:

“After growing up in Aberdeenshire, and studying law at Oxford, Buchan spent much of her career thus far in financial services. She has lived in the Kensington area for the last 25 years, and prior to her selection was the treasurer of the local Conservative Association.

She contested South Down in the 2015 General Election, and South Shields in 2017.”

From The Hornets Nest posted this on news of her selection :

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2019/07/its-girl.html?m=1

The blog post says that she like Borwick, is a Brexiteer. Oh dear, didn’t Borwick’s stance on Brexit in a constituency that voted 68% remain, partly cost her the seat last time? Maybe some never learn…..

We heard that she was a contributor to Brexit Central but we could not find any articles attributed to her for some reason so we guess that local Tory Chairman Andrew “Bully Beef” Foster has censored them.

No offence here meant to Felicity Buchan, but when a candidate is strangely quiet, and there is a dearth of information about them, we do have to wonder what they, or their party, have to hide? Well, this is a marginal constituency, with many issues and there are plenty of clued-up residents with many questions.

Kensington is one of the most socially and culturally diverse constituencies in the UK, and Grenfell is located here, so anyone wbo hopes to represent us in Parliament should not expect an easy time of it.

Apart from social media photos, we have not seen much of Felicity and her colleagues here in North Kensington. Apparently they had some photo opportunities outside residents doors in some wards, but did not actually knock on them!!!

We also think that if Felicity and the Conservatives seriously expect to have any chance of taking the seat back, they had at least start by being more open in their communications with regard to policy.

And please make a point of listening to residents from all over the borough – not just preaching to the converted. But then again this council has ignored many residents in the north of the borough for years.

We have not met or even seen Felicity Buchan so maybe they are following suit?

But we did receive an election from Tories that did not once mention Brexit! Not even on their survey asking residents to “tell us which three national issues matter most to you?”!

Most of us have heard little to nothing with regard to their policies – but maybe because Prime Minister Boris Johnson (we find it difficult enough to type that without putting an exclamation mark or appropriate emoji after that) is so much of national and international bad joke, we guess they are struggling to get to grips with this?

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with so much happening here in our community , let alone outside but this is very important so here for our readers, is what is happening with regards to Brexit in Parliament at the timebeing:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46393399

We did hear of local Tories holding “Policy and a pint with Felicity Buchan” events and we were not able to make it (and we are not sure they would welcome the presence of THINKers!) We hope that Felicity summoned the “Dutch courage” to give more away about her views to some who attended anyway

The Conservative Party did portray Jeremy Corbyn as a chicken with regards to Brexit in a Photoshop:

But maybe some local Tories who posted this on social media should really be thinking about their candidate first? So here is a suitable Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservatives (KCFC) Photosbop of our own featuring Felicity and “Bully Beef” :

Actually our Labour MP Emma Dent Coad has made her position very clear on tbis to the electorate here:

We do hope to hear from Felicity and her colleagues (though tbis week will be a very difficult time for many residents in the north of the borough as the report from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry is due out on Wednesday so perhaps leaflets through our doors at this time might be not be such a good idea.

Of course, Brexit was meant to be this Thursday but who knows? Tomorrow, there will be a vote in Parliament as Boris Johnson is seeking to hold a General Election on the 12th of December and this has twice been rejected by MPs.

But if a general election did go ahead in December, most residents would wish to know further information regarding who they are voting for and their policies as soon as possible.

Being as quiet as a church mouse in such a marginal seat where every vote counts, is not a particularly good election strategy.

KCTMO add insult to injury and put their foot in it – AGAIN

Regular readers of ours will only be too aware of the contemptible way in which the KCTMO still treats its members.

Everyone is aware of the fact that the planned date for Brexit is Halloween – October the 31st.

Many people will also be aware of the news that the report of Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry will be published a day before Brexit on October the 30th. This is absolutely disgraceful as the findings will obviously be overshadowed by Brexit, and survivors and bereaved were not consulted about the date.

But today one of us (who lives around the corner from Grenfell and lost friends in the disaster) received a letter from KCTMO stating that their AGM will be held on – October the 31st! Seriously we are not making this πŸ’© up.

The letter reads :

“Dear member,

As indicated recent letters, I am in a position to confirm the details of the Annual General Meeting. This will be held at 7:00pm on Thursday 31 October 2019 at 65 Queen’s Gate, Baden-Powell House, London SW7 5JS

Attached is the formal notice of the meeting along with explanatory notes and proxy forms. If you have any questions thay you want to raise and have answered ar the AGM, please send them by email to support@mi_voice.com or by post to KCTMO, c/o Mi-Voice, Epsilon Hose, Enterprise Road, Southampton Science Park, Chilworth, Southampton SO16 7NS. We will collate these and provide answers at the meeting.

As part of the business of the AGM, the members will be asked to receive the annual accounts. As in previous years, copies can be downloaded from the KCTMO website, with a number of paper copies available at the meeting. The accounts are still being audited so they are not available immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Taylor Interim General Manager.”

Oh dear, where do we start with this one? The date? These people must live in another world to not recognise that the date is inappropriate with the Grenfell Inquiry report out the day before and Brexit on the very same day for starters. This appears to be deliberate on their part, as they will only be too aware that the thoughts of most residents will be elsewhere.

Andrew Taylor is STILL in his post – despite having previous bad form here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/communication-problems/

Here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/apology-public-statement-its-a-no-no-from-the-tmo/

And most recently here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/09/02/kctm-oh-no/

Yes some people really do have no shame.

They STILL havent dispensed with the “services” of Mi-Voice and Tony Slater despite them supplying falsified statistics and them presiding over this debacle:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/never-mind-the-ballots-at-kctmo-kensingtons-allegedly-corrupt-terrible-mismanagement-organisation/

And how about this? Most resident members we have contacted have not received a letter and a form for the meeting!

We would also like to know what these “recent letters” were that this letter refers to and where they went.

Oh and as for proxy votes at this AGM, the TMO has now stated that they have to be received by dodgy Mi-Voice first. Residents apprently have until next Tuesday the 29th October to register these with them, rather than just hand them over to the appointed proxy in person.

Also, it appears by that letter, that Andrew Taylor and co appear to be in the dictatorial exercise of restricting what questions that residents who do attend the meeting – happen to be allowed to ask and no doubt they will be picking and choosing wbich residents they choose to respond to – again .

So yet again, THINK urge all resident members to contact Andrew Taylor at

andrewtaylor@kctmo.org.uk

ataylor@kctmo.org.uk

andrew@cloverdene.co.uk

And also to contact Tony Slater at

tslater@mi-voice.com

tony@mi-voice.com

There is also a phone number provided in the letter: 023 8076 2877 But we won’t bother with that if all we are actually going to get by calling it is four hours of Vivaldi on loop, pointlessly talking to some clueless and blameless call centre person for nothing and a hefty phone bill afterwards .

If this shambles does really end up going ahead, THINKers will turn up – to protest (Halloween masks at the ready)

THINK do not believe Mr Taylor and his colleagues possess consciences, but in the faintest hope that they do, we will just finish this post by leaving them with the letter from Grenfell United to Grenfell Tower Inquiry Judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick from earlier this month, urging him to bring the publication date of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry report forward.

And of course, KCTMO only now exists as an organisation solely for the purpose of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

We will also remind Mr Taylor and his colleagues that over a third of residents in RBKC council properties formerly under the TMO, happen to be in Notting Dale Ward – the very same ward where Grenfell Tower is located – just in case they happen to think that their organisation hasn’t caused enough distress to residents already.

GRENFELL, SCRUTINY AND THE SUMMER OF OUR DISCONTENT Part 2: Grenfell Committee gets the chop as RBKC lose their heads

(Our thanks to OG for the title picture)

So we look back to July’s Full Council meeting in which the abolition of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee and other unpopular and unwanted changes in our part of the borough, were voted through, amid booing, heckling and shouting from many unhappy residents.

North Ken residents speak out

At the end of the first part of the meeting ( the “Democracy Hour”, in which local residents address the council), the final resident to speak, North Kensington resident Leearna Oliffe (pictured above) made two separate but relevant points in her speech.

First of all she spoke about Adair Tower, a council block in North Kensington, the tragic double murder of two elderly residents there Back in May, the media frenzy afterwards (which reminded some of the days after Grenfell ) and RBKC failing to provide vulnerable residents there any form of support despite offucers being in full knowledge of the situation. Thankfully Sue Duggins, chair of the newly formed RA there got in touch with the Grenfell NHS Outreach Team and they were on hand to provide much needed support to residents there who had been in need of it

RBKC did not respond until June and them dismissely said that it was a “Police matter” . No referrals to victim support

We’re sadly not surprised by this as RBKC has form over many years, of neglecting the needs of residents in social housing – particularly those in North Kensington (we would be amazed however if Elizabeth “never been in a tower block” Campbell actually had any clue where Adair Tower was).

Leearna : ” I would therefore ask do the council have a policy in place regarding serious incidents that affect residents that has a reference to ensuring their mental and physical welfare is safeguarded? And if not, would you please seriously consider putting this in place as you seriously have a duty of care over your residents. And as this example demonstrates, you are dramatically failing in this ”

Leearna in her second point also referred to RBKC’s Grenfell Recovery and the Government Taskforce Report and asked RBKC for a 6 week legal deferral on the decisions: “The motion which is being considered which would effectively bring an end to Grenfell Scrutiny need to be deferred until such time an effective consultation with the community has been considered. I would remind you that you are here to serve us and we therefore deserve to be considered in any decision. We are no longer prepared to be done to but rather want to be consulted and worked with”

A Rotten Borough response

Then the response from Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell: “I really hope you feel you’re not being done down”( Residents:”WE ARE”)

Cllr Campbell: “We accept what the Taskforce says and that the bar they have set us is very high”

“We hope to be making progress with the community…..”

Residents:”THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH” “YOU’RE NOT LISTENING”

Dizzy Lizzy: “We think that by improving scrutiny, we will be able to scrutinise the recovery and strategy more carefully. It will be split across all council scrutiny so it will be in our DNA so that all councillors will have to learn from it….”

Residents : “THAT’S RUBBISH!” “WE DON’T WANT IT!” “YOU’RE STILL NOT LISTENING”

Of course Elizabeth Campbell was not at the administration committee meeting (which she was supposed to have been chairing) and Leearna said this was a “very decent respectful request to allow people to read the document before the changes went through” and that most people did not have enough time to consider the changes before voting them through. Leearna – not Dizzy Lizzy – received a huge round of applause.

Elizabeth Campbell finished by disputing the time that residents had to be consulted with as saying “I think you’ve come in at the tail end of it – the consultation was around six to nine months” But she missed a vital point then about the document only being made available for a short time before the administration committee meeting and this full council one, and also what scope of consultations the council undertook.

She also completely ignored Leearna’s questions regarding Adair Tower . So that’s North Kensington residents being ignored again; the tail end of this upside down borough.

And yes, that above screenshot is actually of Cllr Campbell bizarrely smiling while she was giving her response.

Then it was over to Cllr Pat Mason (Leader of the Labour Group)

Dizzy & Co (wrongly think they) know best

Pat Mason (above) said, addressing Elizabeth Campbell, “They (residents) – not you – know best as to what North Kensington needs. You should know that. They know best and you need to shut up!”

Cllr Mason did say that at the admin committee (which he is a member of), he had asked if anyone had read the document, and nobody said they had – appalling.

Pat Mason also is a councillor for Golborne Ward, where Adair Tower is situated, and said that “we (the Labour Golborne councillors) had fought vociferously month after month, year after year to get the council the former TMO and Police to do something about the problems in the block they were found wanting. It’s all on record. This is par for the course. This is not meant to happen in this new era of change at the council”

As for the scrutiny panel recommendations and consultation, he had to say this to Dizzy Lizzy “You’re telling them “you should have read this” or ” you should have understood” They elect us we’re supposed to be representing them. ”

Dizzy Lizzy then went in to make her Leader’s statement: “Tonight I want to speak positively” (pass the sick bag) “I believe the council is listening and not only listening it’s taking action” (Residents: “YOU’RE NOT!” )

Dizzy Lizzy had tried to take credit for the council over the new lease on Wornington College well they had to sign that (that’s thanks to the campaigners and thanks to former Government minister Anne Milton actually) citing this as a positive example of where the council was supposedly listening.

She ran though a list of things including “an extra Β£18 million for Lancaster West refurbishment and reinstating lifetime tenancies” Good; about time. “We agreed an economic strategy which takes us away from the sleepy borough that residents think we are” (Residents: “YOU ARE!” )

Elizabeth Campbell then deliberately selected more favourable feedback from the Government Taskforce Report stating that the taskforce had praised the council’s rehousing efforts in an unprecedented situation. But said ” the taskforce said the quality of work on homes and the personalisation is unprecendented and unprecedented is where we are. The bar has been set very high. In just 24 months we have been expected to rebuild trust and transform our relationship with our communities ” Residents: “YOU HAVEN’T!”

Dizzy Lizzy: “In my view the timescale was unrealistic. Recovery and trust will take generations. We’re trying to achieve change by giving the community an even greater voice” (Shouting from residents in background) “Scrutiny of the council is being strengthened” (Residents: “IT’S NOT”) “We will be putting our communities first” (Residents: “THIS IS A JOKE” )

Dizzy Lizzy finished by saying that “a new Government is beimg formed as we speak” (cue A LOT of shouting from the gallery!)

Selective community engagement

It had earlier been revealed by Cllr Pat Mason in the meeting that Nabil Choucair who lost 5 members of his family in Grenfell had not been allowed to speak at this meeting – absolutely disgraceful. Cllr Mason made points regarding the council not listening to the community, the bereaved and the survivors who were all against these changes.

Elizabeth Campbell, at one point in the meeting, brandished a letter purporting to be from a resident (just the one who she chooses to listen to?) “I received a letter from a resident this week outlining why Grenfell Scrutiny doesn’t work ” and then read out her own reasons! (She also did not say which ward this “resident” was from). Our “Leader” then said the council had consulted with 348 residents’ associations (we know that’s a fib) and 29 voluntary organisations (we’d like to know which ones and if they are based in RBKC ; she did not say ). Residents in the meeting however, reacted by shouting “YOU BLOODY HAVEN’T!” “YOU NEED THIS TO STOP!”and “THIS IS NONSENSE!”

The Opposition hits back

Citing the Taskforce Report, Emma Dent Coad pointed to ” strategic – weaknesses – which we (the opposition) have been concerned about for some time.” Concerning Grenfell Recovery Strategy , Emma highlighted the report saying “communication hasn’t been effective, a lot of the program has yet to be developed in detail (the report was made only a month before this meeting) the council is struggling to convert a high degree of social capital inta positive force (“social capital” meaning us – the community)”.

Cllr Dent Coad also mentioned senior people turning up at community meetings, making promises and then disappearing (yes we’re unfortunately very familiar with examples of that – both from some council Cabinet Members and from certain members of senior council staff).She finished by saying “we (RBKC) don’t have the leadership we (also RBKC) don’t have the skills and we need to work on our social capital like the Taskforce has said. This is the Royal Borough moving backwards – shame on you”

Cllr Judith Blakeman: “These recommendations are so wrong, I don’t know where to begin!” Scrutiny should focus on what matters most to residents. The themes, at a resident’s conference of 15 people from a population of over 160,000, indicated that what matters most are environmental matters such as litter, car parking, traffic congestion, dog mess – NOT Grenfell, crime, community safety, housing and homelessness – the things that matter most to people in North Kensington.”This is another case of this council wishing to go back to business as usual as soon as possible”

And so does Julie Mills!

Cllr Julie Mills (above) is a Conservative councillor for Norland Ward (in North Kensington, less than 10 minutes walk from Grenfell) ” The reason I’m going to abstain is because I find Recommendation 11 quote difficult to accept both legally, judicially and indeed as an elected member ”

For the benefit of our readers, we’ll just post this again : Recommendation 11 : That the Overview & Scrutiny Committee be responsible for all Grenfell-related matters, including recovery, and delegate to the relevant Council Select Committees issues where detailed scrutiny is required”

“Note the word delegate. Now Mr Mayor, that indicates to me that there are no checks and balances on what the Overview Scrutiny Committee is going to dictate to all the other sub committees and what they will actually scrutinise. I find it quite unpalatable; I think it is probably unlawful. ” I don’t understand why Mrs (Heather) Wills, who is the architect of this, is advising the councillors ”

(Yes – very good point from Julie Mills here – Heather Wills is neither a legal professional nor an elected councillor.)

“We’re told to “suck it and see” that’s unfortunate term Mr Mayor, because believe that a responsible authority shouldn’t suck and see what happens. Either you are statutorily constituted and scrutiny is part of that, or not? What is the statutory status of this council at the moment?” ”

But Julie Mills was not the only Tory rebel, as to the surprise of some, Cllr Malcolm Spalding also abstained.

Mills Vs Rossi

Conservative councillors, Marie-Therese Rossi – former Mayor and chair of this new Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Julie Mills (also a former Mayor) ended up having a disagreement at one point when Cllr Rossi was speaking.

Cllr Rossi : “I’ve heard what you (residents) have all said this evening when you have been crying out when members have been speaking. It is not the case that Grenfell will be forgotten or that we are taking away your voice, that will not happen as long as I am chair of the Overall Scrutiny Committee. As such I will have overall responsibility for Grenfell-related matters and also responsibility for allocating work to the other four select committees, though I have to say to Cllr Mills that I do not see my position as that of a dictator”

Julie Mills then got up and raised a point of order objecting to this .

Present Mayor – Cllr Will Pascall: “Cllr Mills will you please be seated? Cllr Mills!”

Cllr Julie Mills: “Can you correct that for the record? I did not call you a dictator!”

Marie-Therese Rossi: “Ok I would just like to say that the way I would work would be to open up discussions with the other scrutiny chairs and myself” (Hang on a bit – so the councillor responsible for overseeing the new committee arrangements over scrutiny appears to be confused as to whether the four select committees are scrutiny committees or not?!)

Cllr Mills (still standing up): “Can you please withdraw that? I did not call you a dictator!”

At this point amid the disagreement and heckling from residents in the. background, the microphone clearly picked up Mayor Pascall muttering aloud “oh for goodness sake! Sit down!!”

Marie-Therese Rossi: ” I did not say you called me a dictator!”

Mayor Will Pascall: “Please can we calm down?”

Cllr Rossi: ” I think you said something Cllr Mills… no, I tell you what you said – you said “delegate” You didn’t like the word delegate”

At this point even THINKers were becoming confused!

Mayor Pascall: “Councillors, can we move forward please? ”

Cllr Rossi: “I apologise if I have caused you any offence”

Maybe all that Mayoral bling has some sort of effect on them or something?

Let’s try and clear this up: We have quoted what Cllr Mills actually said with regards to dictating and/or delegating above. Cllr Rossi, while seeming to be determined in her new role, appears to be unsure of what exactly the official roles, remits and protocols of the select committees actually are in full detail – and this is no offence to her – so are most people, including us!

Anyway here is some of the rest of what Cllr Rossi (just heard amid much heckling and shouting from residents) had to say regarding her role: “I have to say to all the residents who came to listen to this that my door will always be open. You can come and speak to me or I will come and speak to you. I am very concerned to meet with Grenfell United survivors and also to ask you if you will give me a bit of time. I will ask you to judge me therefore not on what I’m saying tonight, but what I actually do in the weeks and months ahead.”

“One of the reasons we decided to change the scrutiny arrangements was to increase public involvement” Oh really Marie-Therese? Less scrutiny, fewer public committees and meetings and completely ignoring the wishes and protests of survivors, bereaved and North Kensington residents by abolishing the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee equates to greater public involvement? We would be laughing if we weren’t so near to crying. Tellingly, she did not go into any of the other supposed reasons

Linda Wade has her say

Lib Dem Cllr Linda Wade was the lone opposition councillor on the Scrutiny Panel and she had this to say: “In a way the Scrutiny Panel was handed a poisoned chalice. I feel that the problem was it become more review of classification of scrutiny rather than how the Leadership Team could be held to account. More time seemed to be spent on allocating Leadership Team (Cabinet) Members to a reduced amount of scrutiny groups which was in some cases awkward and at other times unsatisfactory whereas the development of a more robust plan to be able have a have more effective scrutiny of the Leadership Team was harder to achieve”.

“At a time when we say we are a listening council, that we seek increased transparency, that we’ve changed our culture; the brief handed to us was in fact, to reduce the number of scrutiny committees and reduce the amount of time that they met – something which appeared to be contrary to the different aspirations of the council to be open, transparent and listening. ”

“The Leadership Team have failed to comprehend the necessity to continue with the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee at this stage. The very issues that are closest to the lives of residents are being fractured into different committees, making it harder for residents to navigate but perhaps easier for the council to administer” “It fails to address the humanity of the situation. It is essential for the credibility of the council that the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee is retained”.

Karaoke performances?

The phrases “every committee should be a Grenfell Scrutiny Committee” and “Grenfell is our number one priority” and its variants have rang out on the Conservative side like some sort of catchy but trite and meaningless pop song on the radio and we had a few repeat performances that evening.

We will try to be fair to Cllr Anne Cyron, her speech wasn’t a bad speech, she is new in her post and at least she is one member of the RBKC Leadership Team who has worked very positively with some members of our community. Her project of a Grenfell Community Assembly is not a bad idea but that in our view should never be considered as an adequate replacement for the GRSC (our leader didn’t get the memo!), but we could really do without endless choruses of “Grenfell is our number one priority” (after hearing several different interpretations of the Taskforce Report that evening) . But other councillors did have “cover versions”…….

Cllr Hamish Adourian: “Every committee now needs to be a Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee “. (Though he did attempt to make some sort of half compromise by suggesting a Grenfell Recovery working group that would supposedly attend this new assembly and give feedback back to the select committees. )

Actually Cllr Adourian (who sits for Earl’s Court Ward but lives in North Kensington) and Cllr Cyron are two Conservatives who have shown some understanding of our area and have positive community relations with some residents here – which made their attempts to defend the indefensible all the more frustrating to listen to.

Carry on, don’t lose your head!

Pictured above, is Cllr Greg Hammond . He was Chair of the Scrutiny Panel that produced the recommendations which included abolishing the GRSC ). Some of the gangway had been cordoned off by security so protesters could not hold up signs behind Cabinet Members anymore, and Cllr Hammond just happened to be in the right (or wrong?) place at the right time! The camera moving well as the sign behind him moving to keep in shot, provided the only light relief in what was a very difficult meeting.

Greg Hammond (who is usually well prepared) wasn’t prepared for the sign behind him, and stumbled at the beginning “I spoke to the councillors when they accepted the offer to give them my views – give me their views on the report” and “we did have residents – erm – erm at the conference” (All 15 of them Greg? We actually think a larger number of residents were laughing at the protest sign “comedy moment” during your speech!)

Interestingly, he did say the consultation on this was 1 month; earlier at this meeting Dizzy Lizzy had said the consultation was 6-9 months! ( make of that what you will but we’d sooner believe him).

Referring to the GRSC he spoke of receiving responses such as ” some felt it was positively harmful and should be abolished as soon as possible – others felt it should stay in perpetuity and these views are incompatible”

Well no prizes for guessing which views the Leadership of our council preferred to listen to and act on – but perhaps some should also know actually quite a few people did feel that the GRSC should stay in place for now and perhaps be subject to review a few years down the line?

A tough call for Greg “Action Man” Hammond, but he made it through defending the indefensible relatively unscathed by heckling residemts (though we’re guessing that he and some of his colleagues may want to change places or draw straws to see who doesn’t get to sit in the back row next time!)

Dizzy Lizzy gets in a tizzy

Referring to the new “Grenfell Community Assembly Cllr Campbell said “Scrutiny is a separate issue” but is it? Because she then right away referred to the Assembly as a “reason to improve scrutiny and to give residents the opportunity to ask questions in a forum which they believe meets their needs”. Make up your mind Dizzy Lizzy! Maybe she couldn’t hear herself think with all the heckling jeering and booing from residents who very much felt the need to retain Grenfell Scrutiny.

Also we noticed this from her earlier on in the meeting when she was demonstrating her considerable knowledge of environmental issues: “improving air quality – that thing to do with the environment” !!

A legal question regarding scrutiny

Pat Mason said “The assembly does not have any formal powers to subpoena anybody” (meaning unlike scrutiny committees) So THINK are wondering if the same is the case with the new Select Committees? If not , this cast a very bad light on the council if they are changing the setup from Scrutiny Committees with these powers. to other committees without. Perhaps someone with more legal knowledge than ourselves can answer this one?

Some thoughts at the end of the night

After the votes for the changes went through, many residents felt angry, others depressed but we will fight this. We will support each other and not let our council get away with kicking the needs of this community into the long grass. Most of us did not vote for the councillors who voted for this.

Many of us see and have always seen Cllr Campbell’s position, given that she served in previous administrations of this council, as a severe obstacle to Grenfell Recovery in the first place,

Looking around the chamber at this meeting , we saw a few dissatisfied looks on some faces of councillors on her own side (and not just at this meeting).

After the revelations in this meeting and in the Admin Committee before of what the the full number of responses from the consultation and the consultation efforts were – we are utterly disgusted and feel cheated.

We do not lay any personal blame for on this on the councillors who sat on the panel and submitted the document (they all sit for wards in the south of the borough some distance from Grenfell and some were “merely following instructions”) .

We do lay considerable blame for this however, at the feet where ultimate decision was taken to do this was – that means Dizzy Lizzy as Leader, the RBKC Leadership Team, some former and also some senior council staff – Heather Wills in particular for their rubbish non-efforts to share this with the community and have meaningful discussions in full regarding the recommendations first, long before these were ever put to a vote and for their conduct in this exercise.

If anyone is deluded enough to imagine abolishing the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee could ever improve things here – we just have to point out again, that RBKC’s Grenfell Team is now the only council department now without a real committee dedicated to overseeing it as a whole. Perhaps someone suitably qualified can also answer our legal question here? Many of us in this community believe RBKC ‘s Grenfell Team to have severe shortcomings and so it appears, do some in the Taskforce, going by the criticisms made in the report.

It doesn’t help the credibility of local democracy if some councillors vote through changes they themselves appear to be confused about.

What most of us in the north of the borough can see coming will be worsening relations between this council and residents, and both a Leadership Team and a Grenfell Team, which is already failing in many respects, further allowed to carry on doing so with many more things going unchecked.

The culture that has long existed at this council that played a part in Grenfell, which undermined us and did not listen to our community still exists – in a more muted and less apparent form and everyone knows that Elizabeth Campbell, who served in RBKC Cabinets pre-Grenfell, was and still is, very much part of that culture. If this council truly wishes to make drastic changes, then it is time to start at the very top. There will be nowhere to hide if the new arrangements descend into shambles – a real possibility when some are confused as to what they actually are and do – Grenfell Recovery falls by the wayside and the next Taskforce Report recognises this. The early signs are not good – not good for our North Kensington community, not good for local democracy and not good for the borough as a whole.