A delusional Director at the Sharpe end : Wendolene just doesn’t get it

Pictured is Rachel Sharpe, RBKC ‘s Director of Housing Needs and Supply. Some of our friends have pointed out the uncanny resemblance between Rachel and Wendolene Ramsbottom, the character from Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave, so we thought we would do the honours.

But Rachel is not as sharp and as observant as our friends, because if she was then she probably wouldn’t have come out with such a ludicrous, ignorant and delusional statement like this regarding the way she thinks housing associations engage with residents and the way she thinks this council does:

“One of the things that have we have impressed on them (housing associations) is that engagement with their residents needs to be a priority as it is with us”.

Oh dear. Is engagement with residents in RBKC social housing really a priority of this council Rachel? Perhaps a THINKer who is less than impressed with RBKC Housing and their appallingly bad level of resident engagement as someone who has had years of awful first-hand experience of this can put you in the know?

Because many ex-TMO housing staff have stayed in their old TMO ways, their old ways being rudeness, officiousness, bullying, dishonesty, negligence and outright incompetence.

Their failure to act and behave responsibly has led to this tenant being a victim of violence, who is scared of opening their flat door and who your housing officers will not do anything to help move to another property where they are safe .

The worse than poor service and lack of help provided to this tenant from housing officers at RBKC has meant that the only way they will be engaging with your officers will be through a solicitor. This tenant also lives with a permanent reminder of RBKC/TMO incompetence , as Grenfell Tower where she lost friends, is right around the corner from her.

But the painful reminder is made even worse by the fact that some of the very same TMO housing officers who were supposed to be responsible for people living in Grenfell Tower (and whether they were doing ther job right or not is debatable), are now responsible (or we should say irresponsible) for this THINKer and many others in social housing in the area who are traumatised. You could not make it up

Housing associations may not be perfect and yes some of them – not all – but some, are one hell of a long way from it, but people in glass houses should not throw stones, and after years of unbearable antisocial behaviour, appalling housing (still no hot water!) and after essentially being defecated on by some of your ex-TMO officers and having zero positive experience of her housing at all, Rachel, this THINKer would welcome a housing association with open arms!

Many other RBKC housing residents are telling us that housing staff are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard from and this council has failed to provide most residents with the right contact details of their housing officers anyway.

Perhaps Rachel’s notion of what supposedly good resident engagement is got stuck in the lavatory?

No “Jam Tomorrow” but we have to get on with getting on

Our blog is saddened and disappointed. This was not the election result that we had hoped for. We are also unhappy because the result in Kensington was not the result we hoped, supported and voted for and Emma Dent Coad lost by 150 votes.

We have heard that Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer just four weeks before the election, and underwent surgery just three days before the election result. See this from her interview on the Victoria Derbyshire show:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50837694

THINK wishes Emma Dent Coad well and a good recovery. We send our very best wishes and our kind thoughts.

This country will not get to see Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Misinter and a Labour Government seems a long way away. We wish him and colleagues the best and we hope that the Labour Party can work through things; no matter how deflated people may be feeling, a healthy democracy requires a strong opposition party.

As for the Lib Dems, some of them got a shock on election night when Jo Swinson lost her seat – not least Jo Swinson herself. We have posted about the Kensington controversy with Sam Gyimah and Emma Dent Coad over Grenfell before:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/know-there-before-you-go-there-sam-gyimah-kensington-and-grenfell/

Emma is pursuing a course of legal action against him over this and we will see what happens.

That might not all be the last that others in Kensington hear of Sam Gyimah however as it has not escaped the notice of some that he has changed his website from “samgyimah.com” to “samgyimah.london” – leading some to speculate if there are possible plans at Lib Dem HQ afoot to replace Siobhan Benita with him for London Mayoral candidate or simply just if he will have a big role in the upcoming campaign.

Maybe the one thing that many Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Kensington did have some level of agreement on was remaining in the EU. The 68% of voters here who to voted to remain will now likely get a Christmas present they did not want – a no deal Brexit.

As for Conservative voters, One man we encountered on the doorsteps during the election campaign said he could not vote Labour because of what he said were high spending commitments and promising people “jam tomorrow” Well regardless of whether some agreed with him or not, the Conservative vote in Kensington stayed up and some people saw things his way.

We will not keep going over the election result on this blog – it is done and over with and if we keep looking back this we will be doing little to help our comnunity right now. We also hope all the arguments, tensions and hostilities between people here around the election get resolved or left in the past.

So we will congratulate Felicity Buchan on her win and we will wish her well in the job. It is an understatement to say she will have her work cut out for her – we think that Grenfell, the survivors and bereaved and the recovery of our North Kensington comnunity, the rights of EU citizens here, housing, the environment and the future of Earl’s Court ought to priorities for her in this constituency. The issues in Kensington are challenging to say the least, but even though we did not vote for Felicity, we will give her a chance.

We very much hope she does the same for us and others in the constituency.

There will be no “jam tomorrow” and many of us who did not vote Conservative are left with a bitter taste in our mouths, but it is the future of Kensington that our community must focus on, try to sort out some of our differences and work towards a better tomorrow for our those in and around our community who are counting on it.

THINK VS Dizzy Lizzy

Election night, or rather very early the next morning, was for many reasons, a very unhappy night for many North Kensington residents, including our blog.

The only good bit of it for us was when one THINKer confronted RBKC leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell outside Kensington Town Hall and gave her a piece of her mind!

Sadly our THINKer was not in a very good mood, and probably going to the Town Hall after a night out with friends and a few drinks might not have been the best idea. Also Dizzy Lizzy is rather small, and she is one of the few people our THINKer, who was also in her trademark skyscraper heels, towers over. Our angry THINKer for both these things, probably came across as rather scary! She didn’t mean to come across that way but maybe what she said had also sme sort of effect on Dizzy Lizzy, who was trembling and cowering….

There were some good points made, so let’s make them to her again – publicly – with a few more thrown in for good measure:

There was a brief conversation about residents working with the council. The THINKer talked about last Summer’s “Housing and Land in RBKC” event – a very well attended event that they had been part of organising. The conversation went on to why so many people in North Kensington do not trust RBKC and Cllr Campbell in particular:

– “One good reason why many North Kensington residents do not like or trust you Dizzy Lizzy is because you served in cabinets pre-Grenfell and supported the closure of our Library, our College, asset stripping and regeneration schemes such as the Silchester Estate and others, which could have forced many residents out of their community for good . Many residents also remember that you presided over the closure of the Maxilla Family Centre”.

– “There are a couple of others of you who also served in pre-Grenfell cabinets. No wonder you got rid of Grenfell Scrutiny! How can you (and your pre-Grenfell colleagues) justify remaining in your posts considering such a big issue and potential conflicts of interest? “

That for starters, is a serious barrier to any sort of positive change at the council. How can you expect RBKC to change when a few people at the top and their old broken ways of doing things still rule?

Also what of Cllr Campbell’s record as leader? She appears to revel in the media limelight while so many residents live in misery. The RBKC Grenfell Team has been failing on so many levels we don’t know where to start.

Our THINKer also pointed out her missing tooth (yes – had no time yet to go to the dentist and get it fixed ) – this was the result of an attack by people in the grounds of her council property and she has also been subject to violence and threats from neighbours – and pointed out that: ” the council thinks it is acceptable for residents to put up with violent neighbours – I (THINKer) have been begging the council to be moved, only for this borough’s hapless housing officers to suggest mediation instead! How bad does it have to get for you to act? ”

Mediation is more suited to neighbours who have minor disputes such as personal fallouts, loud music or parking disputes. It is not suitable for victims of violence and perpetrators .

All Dizzy Lizzy could do was say “oh well I’m very sorry for that”!

Well “sorry” doesn’t really cut cut it, Dizzy Lizzy. One can only say sorry so many times...

For all of these things, and the RBKC housng department STILL being an utter shambles, the only real way you could really mean “sorry” would be to resign from your position.

Anyway, we think it’s high time the Dizzy Lizzy and the “old guard” in the cabinet at RBKC stepped aside – there are enough able new councillors here to do the job now – because this council is severely in need of fresh thinking.

Grenfell Silent Walk 30 months on and a few thoughts

Today it will be two years and six months since we lost 72 members of our community in the fire.disaster at Grenfell Tower.

Please join us and remember the, their loved ones, and think of the survivors and the community on the Grenfell Silent Walk this evening. The route for this last one of the year is a longer rather different route and will be gathering at 5:30pm, outside Kensington Town Hall, Hornston Street, London W8 7NX, with the walk beginning at 6:30pm. There is also a meeting point outside Gail’s, by the corner of Lonsdale Road and Portobello Road.


We will just share some thoughts and feelings of our own on this post. Feelings in the North Kensington community right now are varying betweeen depressed – deflated or angry- agitated. Thursday’s election result saw our Labour MP for Kensington and a strong campaigner and defender of this community, Emma Dent Coad lose her seat. Today we also think of Emma and particularly her work here. We will mention that Emma was one councillor who did speak up for Wornington College when many councillors (including some on her own side) did not. She might not be perfect, but she was the best MP this community will probably ever have.

The election result has also brought in what will possibly be the most unsympathic Government towards Grenfell and related issues that we could possibly imagine. It is very hard to say the least, to hold out much hope for the future, but carry on we must.

Our community is down but not out but getting justice for the 72, changes in the law on fire safety, and social justice may take a lot longer than many of us can stand to think right now.

But that is the reality of the situation, another reality of the situation is that we cannot ignore the divisions in our community. We will need our strength ans to be supporing others when they do not feel they have the strength. and we need to be fighting together, not fighting each other.


Easier said than done? Of course it is – we can but try.

Last year, saw the sad passing of one of our friends and supporters in North Kensington, Amanda Beckles, who took her own life. Amanda was a vibrant intelligent kind and thoughtful person who campaigned for this community and was selfless enough to give support to others when she perhaps was more in need of support herself.

Many people in this dark Winter and in the run up to Christmas will be feeling low anyway.


So here’s some thoughts, if you are at a gathering, ask yourself if yourself or others are ignoring or leaving out someone. If you have said or done something hurtful towards someone, please reflect on what you have said or done. If you have issues with certain people , consider what those issues are carefully and if they can be resolved? If yes, try to work things out with the person or persons you have issues with themselves – not publicly on Facebook or Twitter for example or through others. If no – then perhaps leave things be. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out if you feel you can’t cope with things or try to commit yourself to too much.

Also sometimes throwing yourself into work and campaigning is good, but if you personally are dealing with a lot of other issues yourself, throwing yourself into other things will not make the problems go away.

Before some hit out at us and ask us we practice what we preach over a couple of those points, we spent all through yesterday and this morning reflecting on how things stand and wondering what we can do to make things any better. These are just our thoughts – they might not count for much – but we are going to do our best to act on them


As for criticism and us, we will just answer a few points on here because we have received quite a few angry messages and emails recently . It is the nature of our blog to be critical and one of the things that we said when THINK started was that nobody is above criticism. But we would like to hope that we are fair. Please do tell us directly rather than amongst each other if you think we are not.

We do get criticised a lot for having friends in other political parties or for engaging positively with some who are politically opposed to us . We are not going to apologise for that; the cutting point for us as to whether we engage with someone positively or not is if someone has prior history over Grenfell and Grenfell-related community issues. If so, we cannot engage with them, but if not, we will not be turning our backs to them. But let us make ourselves clear: THINK did not nor does today, endorse or support their views or policies. Not everyone agrees with our approach, but we do have to accept sometimes that as well as being a culturally and socially diverse area; it is a politicaly diverse area too. Some people are still too tramatised to engage with others like we do and that is fine, but networking and communications are part of our job and we are not yet ready to throw in the towel.


One real issue and sore point in our community is that this election turned dirty. It turned dirty because of untrue allegations and smears made about Emma Dent Coad and Grenfell. We have corrected and explained in other blog posts or ours, and we encourage those who still believe the smears to have a good read of these and to get some further reading in on the subject before posting hurtful untrue things on social media or towards others.

All this caused some real rifts in the community, particularly between different Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters who were previously on good terms. We hope that this can be resolved and that people can come together.

As for the post-election analysis, yes if the Lib Dems had not stood, Emma Dent Coad might still be our MP, but the Green Party (most of whose voters would usually in other circumstances vote Labour) got 535 votes and Felicity Buchan won the seat from Emma by only 150 votes – so let’s not get stuck into playing the blame game here.


It is what happens now that counts. If some of us do not at least try to pick ourselves and others up and together move forwards; we run the risk of those who really don’t have our best interests at heart, walking all over us. It’s difficult we know.

Tomorrow our blog will be back on the case against some of those who really do not care one jot for our community.


But today we turn our thoughts to others, particularly others who are no longer with us.

Today is for the 72, their loved ones, the survivors and the North Kensington community. It is also for those who are housed in buildings with dangerous cladding and/or with other fire safety concerns, and it is for those who are living in social housing whose warnings and concerns are being ignored – just like some of the residents of Grenfell Tower.

Please if you can, join us, and if you cannot, please at least give everyone affected some real thought and consideration.

Friday the 13th Part II

THINKers are still very upset and highly disappointed by the election reaults, but we do congratulate Felicity Buchan on her win.

But Kensington as we have pointed out before , is a marginal constituency and Felicity sits on a majority of only 150 votes.

Felicity did send us a response to some of the subjects raised when we sent Kensington candidates our list of residents’ questions. Hers was the only response we received but considering how tight time was in this election, we were amazed that we got any responses at all really. This is what THINK received:

Grenfell:

The first thing I did when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister was to write to him and ask him to prioritise two things in his premiership:

  • That we learn all the lessons of the Grenfell tragedy and that we take all steps necessary to ensure a tragedy of this kind never happens again

  • That we protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

I am glad that the Conservative Government accepted all the recommendations of the First Phase of the Grenfell Inquiry and I wish to see them implemented with a sense of urgency.

It is critically important that we support the North Kensington community. I am glad that the Government is investing an

an additional £33.9 bn in the NHS and £2.3bn will be for mental health provision.

Air Quality

Air quality is one of the biggest issues we face in Kensington. I am proud of the Government’s achievements to date (first major country to legislate to be net carbon neutral by 2050; reduced greenhouse
gas emissions by a quarter since 2010 – the most of any G20 country) but there is a lot more that needs to be done.

Economy

It is only with a strong economy that we can afford world class public services. The Labour Party promises everything to everyone but the reality is that the Labour Party would run up debts which
would cripple our country; encourage businesses to leave the UK by threatening to seize 10% of the equity value of public companies and make business unworkable with a 4 day week. The mess and the public bill will have to be footed not only by the rich but
by everyone. It will be the poor and middle earners who suffer the most.

Crime

Crime

We are committed to recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers, including 1369 for London. The current level of crime is unacceptable – we need to adopt a zero tolerance approach.

Kind regards,

Felicity

We thank Felicity for her response but we are very worried that Grenfell and our community will get pushed aside and forgotten about in favour of others more politically sympathetic to the Conservative Party and those regarded as their potential voters. North Kensington residents did not see much of Felicity in the election campaign. But this is now and she does need to listen to and engage with us.

There are quite a few blogs around Kensington looking to put her to the question and one such blog is From The Hornets Nest. We only saw this today:

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2019/12/this-is-north-kensington-and-fthn.html?m=1

THINK will put questions to her in time, but for now we will just ask her for two things.

One is that she attends the Grenfell Silent Walk tomorrow. It will be exactly two and a half years since the fire and we will be walking in silence remembering the 72 members of our community 💚 we lost.

The walk will be gathering at 5:30pm outside Kensington Town Hall and will commence at 6:30pm.

We also ask that Felicity Buchan please takes up the issue of fire safety and cladding in Parliament .She came across in hustings as a staunch loyalist; but the Government really isn’t taking enough action on this issue.

Many traumatised residents here still live in a real life horror movie and we do not wish to see a sequel.

Friday the 13th

We are writing this after a very disappointing election result.

If our readers can bear to read the results in full, here they are:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2019/dec/12/uk-general-election-2019-full-results-live-labour-conservatives-tories

Yesterday we mentioned rights and freedoms and page 48 of the Conservative manifesto that two of our readers compared to 1930’s Germany.. Well this is the “democracy” the country has voted for:

Turkeys voting for Christmas? Or maybe THINKers are just a bunch of cosmopolitan Londoners who do not understand?

Talking of not understanding, we do not think that 68% people who voted tto remain in Kensington wanted to ” Get Brexit Done” here But this, again is our perspective.

Boris Johnson is no Santa Claus – the Earl’s Court masterplan and the Garden Bridge fiasco come to our minds when we think of his record in power, but that probably does not mean much to someone living in the shires or in a former mining area.

As for Kensington, Labour’s vote did hold up but it was not enough to stop the Conservatives from retaking the seat.

Emma Dent Coad is a North Kensington resident and formidable campaigner . Her support for some local campaigns like Save Wornington College and Friends of North Kensington Library made a big difference. Emma cared about those affected by Grenfell as she was herself. We will badly miss having a North Kensington voice and a grassroots campaigner as our MP.

Tomorrow the the 14th of December and exactly two years and six months since Grenfell. We worry that the needs of our community, the survivors and the bereaved will be ignored further. This cannot be allowed to happen.

We hope that Felicity Buchan becomes a lot more acquainted with our part of the borough and not just with the people who voted for her.

Why THINK are voting for Emma Dent Coad and Labour

THINK “Election Special” #4

Emma Dent Coad was elected as Labour MP for Kensington two and a half years ago in what many felt was a shock result.

But was it? The differences between the richest and the poorest are probably starker in Kensington than almost anywhere else. There were battles over our College, Library and our social housing between the Conservative-led council and residents in the Labour-dominated north if the constituency.

Emma prior to becoming an MP had a background of working hard and campaigning here and supporting many in the constituency as a councillor. Her victory was not entirely unexpected by some of us (people laughed at our blog back then for saying that she could win) who know Emma and the local community very well.

So why are THINK voting Labour? We could be here forever but some reading this need to to get and and vote!

We want to see properly funded schools, youth services, hospitals NHS services , Fire Brigade, and Police – no more savage cuts. We want to see action on poverty and low wages. action on homelessness. We want to see more social housing built and legislation to tackle the housing crisis. We want to see action not words on climate change and a better future for all, not a country that we are ashamed of.

So what about Brexit? . Our bloggers voted for and campaigned to remain. 68% of voters in Kensington voted to remain. While we are not convinced that everyone in the Labour Party supports this, we know that Emma is a solid remainer, she has voted for a second referendum, against Brexit deals and no deals; she really will protect the rights of EU citizens here (unlike some we could mention!).

Emma Dent Coad is the natural and proven choice (whatever some might say) for remainers. Lib Dems with all respect, would have to get a swing more than three times bigger than in 2017 to ever take the seat. THINK do not listen to assumptions and bias or look into crystal balls to get the facts. Pollsters and bar charts do tend to keep getting it wrong here, Kensington is a two horse race beween Labour and the Conservatives. The REAL statistics to look at are the votes from last time round which speak for themselves, here they are:

Back in June 2017 , and just four days after Emma Dent Coad won Kensington, utter devastation; the fire at Grenfell Tower , in which 72 members of our North Kensington community lost their lives.

Since then, Emma has continuously supported and fought for the survivors, the bereaved and local residents of the North Kensington community. We live here and have not seen anything like her level of conpassion and commitment to Grenfell and North Kensington from anyone else who is standing here. Our community needs support to recover, to heal and to build our future. Sadly we are not seeing this support from the (not much longer we hope) Government or from our Conservative-run council.

Or course, Grenfell should never have happened. It was a man -made, preventable disaster, with a variety of factors that caused it.

This brings us to fire safety and the problems of building deregulation. Well, this, from their updated housing policy, is what Labour plan to to do about this:

The Government has had more than enough time to take action on this and it has failed to do so.

We are also pleased to see that Labour intend to reform leasehold, and to introduce a zero carbon policy for new homes.

THINKers are known for our maverick independent minded ways and we care deeply about about freedom in this country. Recently a few our readers had a few things to say about the Conservative manifesto. This is just one of them:”The Conservative manifesto (p48) contains proposals to limit judicial review of government policy, ‘update’ the Human Rights Act — similar measures were introduced in 1930’s Germany” – scary stuff.

As for other issues specific to Kensington , Emma Dent Coad, before she became an MP, was one of a handful of RBKC councillors who voted at the time against approving the the Earl’s Court masterplan (22 acres of the site are in RBKC) under which the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre was demolished with no replacement provided, and its proposals for luxury homes – none for social rent at all. The masterplan was approved by Boris Johnson when he was London Mayor. The 22 acres , in this. constituency, currently sit as void wasteland, not serving any purpose whatsoever.

Emma has campaigned to save North Kensington Library and Wornington College, she supported campaigns against the (thankfully now cancelled) regeneration of the Silchester Estate, which would have seen many North Kensington residents displaced from their homes and community.

Emma was against the Newcombe House redevelopment plans, against the Holiday Inn Forum redevelopment plans. Earlier thiis summer she organised a rally against the closure of South Kensington Post Office. She supports the campaign to Save Pembridge Hospice.

With all respect to the other candidates, we have not seen the same high level of commitment from them to campaigning for our communities here.

Emma Dent Coad cares and listens and the Labour Party’s manifesto shows a good degree of listening, caring about what people need and we need a change of Government to make the vital changes this country needs.

Emma can only do so much as an opposition MP, her powers in Parliament have been in the circumstances, extremely limited. We need a Government where her voice representing us, will count, that will focus on serving the people who elect it, instead of one that is purely focused on serving itself.

It is time to care, it is time to listen, it is time to change and it is time to make a difference. The issues mentioned here are just some of the reasons why we are voting for Emma Dent Coad and the Labour Party. This Conservative Government is failing our country and it is failing our community.

When time is not on our side

We apologise to our local readers. Perhaps we were cutting it rather too fine in our hopes to put your questions to the Kensington candidates in such a short space of time.

However, this does not stop us putting your questions to whoever wins on the night, so we have saved your questions , also any we happened to receive after the deadline we will save too – and are taking more. We will be posting them publicly on the blog when we get the result and will publicly post answers verbatim.

Kensington is a challengimg constituency for many reasons and THINK know our readers do not shy away from putting our politicians through their paces! Grenfell, housing, the economy, the environment , Earl’s Court, the NHS, Brexit, crime, and also many other local matters all featured in the questions we received.

Sone politicians may not appear to have a Plan B with regards to certain things but this blog does!

Please email us on tianorthken@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you and putting your questions to the victor in Kensington, whoever that will be……

If you haven’t voted already, don’t sit on your hands, don’t let the cold and rainy weather put you off! Do get out to the polling station and vote now; it will take just a few minutes. Every vote counts here.

🗳❤💙💛💚💜❤💙💛💚💜🗳

THINK “Kensington Question Time” : Put YOUR questions to the Kensington candidates!

THINKers will be putting some questions to the Kensington parliamentary candidates and we’d like to hear from our readers!

Please email us at tianorthken@gmail.com

by 12pm on Tuesday the 10th of December with your questions and points. Any subjects welcome, regardless of whether they are of a specific local or a national matter.

Also if you live in the Kensington constituency, please state in your email (questions from residents will be prioritised).

The best questions we receive and the candidates’ answers, will be published on this blog on the morning we go to the polls, Thursday 12th December.

Know there before you go there: Sam Gyimah, Kensington and Grenfell

THINK “Election Special” #3

Last month, Kensington Liberal Democrat candidate (and former Conservative MP and Minister) Sam Gyimah made these comments regarding Grenfell to The Independent: “Clearly we know now that this was essentially a candle that people were living in, and that is why this horrific tragedy happened. We’ve got to deal with it, and I will be reaching out to the communities, but we’ve got to be very careful that Grenfell is not just part of the party political knockabout. It’s one of those issues that should be above party politics and about the people and their families rather than being part of the culture war that is happening.”
He continued: “If you look at the Phase One report [of the official inquiry into the disaster], which is a very bleak assessment, there are many things that went wrong. By the way, Emma Dent Coad was on the council and was part of all the discussions that went on in terms of the cladding. If we’re going to get into the blame game I think this is a very complicated one and to say ‘Oh the cause is Tory government’ [is wrong]. The council is responsible and there are Labour councillors on there that could of stopped some of the decisions and didn’t.”

Where do we start here? The blatant lie that Emma Dent Coad took part in “all the decisions” made about the cladding? The ignorance of pure fact? The lack of knowledge of the party political make up of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the limited power of opposition councillors? Or the complete lack of sensitivity towards the North Kensington community and everyone in it affected by Grenfell ?

The cladding was approved in 2014, two years after Emma Dent Coad left the TMO board. The decision was made by Rock Feilding-Mellen, not the TMO board. We know some former TMO board members ( some resident members and some councillor members) and we can tell Sam that specific discussions of particular materials used in refurbishments were not part of board meetings.

We can also tell Sam that back then, Emma Dent Coad was one of only one of 12 Labour councillors (there were 37 Conservative and 1 Lib Dem councillor) at RBKC, not exactly in a majority position of decision making, then. ( The only change to the political makeup of the council since last year is one additional Labour councillor and one less Conservative councillor, by the way .)

Sam also immediately contradicted hinself by saying we’ve got to be careful that Grenfell is not some part of the political knockabout but then goes and (very unjustifiably) blames Emma Dent Coad.

This does have a big knock-on effect however, as this causes people to believe lies and misunderstandings, and traumatised members of our community end up being trolled on social media and constantly having to correct some. . Emma has, since Grenfell, had to put up with a beyond unacceptable level of lies, smears, verbal abuse, trolling and harassment.

After not getting a response from Sam Gyimah, Emma Dent Coad taken things further with regards to legal action because it is illegal in an election under the Representation of the People Act, to publish any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct, unless he or she can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing that statement to be true.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/17/labour-candidate-report-lib-dem-rival-police-grenfell-claim-emma-dent-coad-sam-gyimah

Sam Gyimah, in his comments to the media , which he apparently will not comment on, has also as well as deeply offending Emma, has unsurprisingly upset many members of our North Kensington community.

So when he decided to go on last month’s Grenfell Silent Walk, not everyone there was exactly too pleased to see him…..

Many people questioned what he was doing there, he had also attempted to position himself among the front (where the survivors and the bereaved walk) and had apparently even asked to hold the banner for a photo opportunity.

Cllr Pat Mason, Leader of the Labour opposition group of councillors, was one of the first to approach Gyimah when he arrived and said : “I’m one of those Labour Cllrs you accused of being responsible for killing the people in Grenfell Tower which is a dangerous lie. You need to apologise and retract or there will be legal consequences
for you

. Moments ago you were a Tory government minister from East Surrey who hardly knew where North Kensington was – now you are here to use Grenfell for votes – you should be ashamed“.

Another Labour councillor to encounter Sam before the Silent Walk was Judith Blakeman. Cllr Blakeman is one of the three Labour councillors for Notting Dale Ward (the ward that Grenfell Tower is in) and the longest serving councillor at RBKC.

Judith Blakeman had gone up to him after seeing him posing for photos there and at one point Sam had said ” I don’t know who you are”. Judith had replied “that is because you don’t know Kensington”. Upon learning who Judith was, Sam Gyimah had apparently said words regarding Grenfell to the effect of “it’s all your fault” Understandably, Judith and a number of others present were offended and very upset.

If the fact that Judith Blakeman was also a councillor board member on the TMO was some sort of excuse for Sam’s outrageous outburst, we will remind him that the TMO always had two councillors on its board – one Labour, one Conservative (and they were not personally responsible for decisions made over the cladding either). We will repeat (for the benefit of those who continue to misunderstand) ; decisions on the Grenfell refurbishment were by Rock Feilding-Mellen, not opposition and backbench councillors.

Here is a statement from the RBKC opposition group of Labour councillors:

https://kensingtonlabour.com/2019/11/13/statement-from-the-rbkc-labour-opposition-group/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Maybe Sam Gyimah just happens to be confused about the TMO, RBKC and Grenfell? That, on top of appearing to not have any idea of how little say Labour opposition conoillors here have in the rumning of and in vital decisions made?

Well, if so Sam, perhaps it is not such a good idea to give an interview to a national newspaper with your speculative views on a very sensitive to say the least, subject that you do not know much about the details of? Perhaps it is not such a good idea to upset and offend many members of a community in a constituency you are seeking to be elected to represent?

As for our North Kensington community and Grenfell, we do expect to be acknowledged, to be heard and not to be exposed to any further stress on top of our trauma and grief; that is the least we expect.

Grenfell is not exactly a straightforward matter, and anyone who has read up it will be all too aware of that and we believe there were a variety of both causes and contributory factors to this disaster.

One absolute certainty about Grenfell is that this was a needless, preventable, man-made disaster which took 72 lives.

We have said a few things before in the blog concerning blame because we do feel that there was a destructive pattern that had long set into the previous administration at RBKC of treating its’ residents in social housing with indifference, negligence and at times, outright contempt. This is not something we have just read or heard about; it is from our own personal experience and knowledge .

THINKers are not standing for office but we expect better professional conduct from tbose who are. We could go a lot further on this at but will not at this time because we do not feel that a General Election campaign is a right or appropriate time for this .

We cannot see why Sam Gyimah would level such an accusation against Emma Dent Coad unless it is in the vein of the lowest form of electioneering and political point scoring. To do such a thing in Kensington, over Grenfell , is really sinking to a new low.

THINK remind all Kensington candidates that Election day is two days before the 14th of December – which will be exactly two years and six months since Grenfell.

We will also let Sam know that his comments have caused recent arguments and hostilities between previously amicable Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters. We hope that after the election, that some peace between the different parties can be restored here.

It goes without saying that all politicians and would-be politicians should properly think through and consider the implications of what they are about to say before they say it.

This blog asks that Sam Gyimah retracts his comments about Emma Dent Coad and issues a public apology to her and to the survivors, bereaved and the North Kensington community,

We hope that he has read Emma’ s response in this article “Debunking the Grenfell Lies”:

https://tribunemag.co.uk/2019/11/debunking-the-grenfell-lies

Emma Dent Coad has signed up to the Compassion In Politics campaign and we think Sam and all the other candidates should do so too.

https://www.compassioninpolitics.com/

We will end this post by reminding Sam Gyimah and all the other Kensington candidates of what we said on our opening “Election Special” post:
Brexit, the economy, education, health, housing and the environment are all important to Kensington voters, but we remind all candidates that Grenfell is in this constituency and to please campaign thoughtfully and tastefully – let’s have a positive and meaningful election campaign and consider the community affected.

A brief (and secondhand) summary of the first Kensington hustings at KCC

THINK “Election Special” #2

The KCC (Kensington and Chelsea College) hustings for students at the Wornington Road campus of the College was the first Kensington hustings to take place

Unfortunately THINKers cannot be in several places all at once, and are neither students nor staff, but no matter, some who were there kept us informed (our thanks to them by the way)

And as supporters of the Save Wornington College campaign, what better place for us to start than there?

The meeting was very full, and packed with students eager to put their questions to the candidates, Emma Dent Coad for Labur, Felicity Buchan for the Conservatives and Sam Gyimah for the Liberal Democrats.

As some might expect, the sujects of tuition fees and broken promises came up, as did Brexit. Felicity Buchan appeared in her opening speech to avoid Brexit, but when she was questioned further on this, emphasised how inportant it was in her view to “get Brexit done”.This was not popular, and neither was her dedence of this Government’s policy, but she did show quick thinking and good knowledge of policy.

One student had referred to “Labour being led by a “Brexiteer” which led to Emma pointing out her own remainer credentials. the need in her view to remain and her opinion that Labour was best placed for this.

One student had asked about the banking crisis of 2008 and “the fact that we no politician had any power as we are “owned” by multinationals” Emma in answer had pointed out that both Felicity Buchan and Sam Gyimah are ex-bankers).

Though there was no heckling and the meeting was of a generallly positive nature, it wasn’t long before the comments that Sam Gyimah had made about Emma Dent Coad and Grenfell came up .

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lib-dem-sam-gyimah-grenfell-fire-election-labour-emma-dent-coad-tories-a9198921.html%3famp

But Emma Dent Coad spoke of “the need for honesty in politics” and requested that Sam Gyimah withdraw the untrue allegations and smears he made regarding her role at RBKC and Grenfell (for the record, Emma was a Labour opposition councillor, RBKC had always been under Conservative control and decisions over the cladding were taken two years after she had left the TMO board – ( we have more on this coming up in our next post). He did not respond.

Sam, spoke of his huge majority he had when as a Conservative MP for Surrey East and when asked why he had left rhe Conservative Party, gave the reason as a “staunch disagreement over Brexit”.

In response to a question about NHS funding, Emma spoke if the ned for real investment in the NHS and our hospitals. She emphasised her local credentials and also, as a mother in the area, knew some of the parents of students in the room.

During the Q & A, Sam Gyimah, received some criticism as to why he was standing against a remain MP. He was also laughed at at one point when he said “you shouldn’t blame someone else when things are going wrong” ( because he had recently pointed a finger of blame at Emma Dent Coad over Grenfell).

Felicity talked positively about social liberalism in the Conservative Party, LGBT rights and diversity which some of the students had not expected.

The meeting was closed by Andy Cole, KCC Principal who urged students to get out and vote.


So what were the impressions and verdicts from some students and staff attending of the candidates? (Bearing in mind that this was in Emma’s rock-solid Labour ward of Golborne, North Kensington):

– Emma Dent Coad: Strong , smart compassionate, good social values, and part of this community

– Felicity Buchan: Good speaker (though many did not agree with her over Brexit and her positive appraisal of this Government) , very professional, largely unknown in North Kensington before and surprised some by performing well.

– Sam Gyimah :Many thought he seemed to not know that much about about Lib Dem policy. Brexit was the only thing he appeared to speak well on. Most of the students there were remainers and agreed with him when he spoke on this.

We say the importance of voting is at least something everyone in politics can agree on and with only 20 votes in it in Kensington, it is likely to be a close one.