RBKC Fail #3: Piglet-Pies “Grenfell is our number one priority”

Back in July when RBKC took the decision to abolish the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, this is what RBKC Conservative councillor for Redcliffe and former Mayor Marie-Therese Rossi had to to say: “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

Grenfell not forgotten? Oh really?

Just 15 minutes of the last Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting was spent discussing Grenfell related-issues.

As for the committee, only committee member and Courtfield councillor Cllr Janet Evans had any thought to bring Grenfell matters to that last meeting and we thank her for this.

For further background to the RBKC committee changes and local concerns, please see these posts of ours:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/05/grenfell-scrutiny-and-the-summer-of-our-discontent-part-1-the-build-up-and-the-showdown/&ved=2ahUKEwii35vBuJDoAhVxlFwKHUPHD9YQFjAAegQIBhAC&usg=AOvVaw0GjN3ebMlTNtp6AJmXk_c0

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/

Our local comnunity had been concerned that the committee changes would leave Grenfell matters splintered across various oher committees or not discussed at all.

And we are sad to report that this is exactly what has happened.

Look, we actually think having an Overview and Scrutiny Committee overseeing some council committees happens to not be a bad idea.

We do not think that the Grenfell Community Assembly meetings are a bad idea, but essentially they are the same apart from in name as the RBKC Listening Forums that go on elsewhere in other parts of the borough. Useful to some residents they may be, but they are in no way shape or form, an adequate replacement for a scrutiny committee. Clearly Cllr Rossi could do with doing some listening to residents as she even pathetically tried to fob North Kensington residents off with trying to make this excuse on Friday.

But their changes to abolish the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee and reduce scrutiny overall have left us for the worse…

It’s just such a pity that some councillors and senior staff did away with the GRSC and still seemingly wish to sweep Grenfell and North Kensington under the carpet at every other meeting.

That Friday, at the Grenfell Soil and Environmental Checks meeting (and we have a post reporting on this meeting in further detail coming up this week) residents relayed their concerns about the environmnent around our area, toxins and our health to Cllr Rossi.

Cllr Malcolm Spalding, who chaired the meeting and who also chairs the RBKC Environment Select Committee said he would discuss some parts of this in his committee (that was after he had gotten out of “school teacher mode”) and Rossi appeared flummoxed and merely talked of getting committee “working groups ” together , but both councillors essentially told residents that these matters had under the committee changes, to be referred separately to separate council committees – Environment and Health.

A THINKer pointed out to Cllr Rossi, that we previously had a council committee which could address these related matters together – that’s right : the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee – which our council got rid of and that separating these matters will not help, and that most residents do not have the time to go to lots of different committee meetings so under the current council process, this can never be fully explored, discussed and participated in – to no avail.

Understandably after many locals, including THINKers were left feeling even more upset and frustrated and some people even walked out during the meeting. Also noted at Friday’s meeting was the absence of RBKC Grenfell Executive members.

Anyway, because some at RBKC appear to be in the practice of regularly misleading, fobbing off and frustrating residents, THINK will finish this post with a certain practice of ours. Those unfamiliar with our “Piglet-Pie Awards” may want to see this with regards to the origins of the term:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/well-ask-nick-whos-telling-the-truth/amp/&ved=2ahUKEwj06OmBuZDoAhWCQUEAHWOeBQAQFjAAegQIBhAC&usg=AOvVaw2OQ0a6u5c4Enf8UTX2H2iQ&ampcf=1

And also this, featuring our first ever deserved recipients of the award (that “surveyor’s report” saying Wornington College was not fit for purpose never did turn up by the way) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/kcc-board-take-our-first-ever-piglet-pie-award/

So, first of all we will go back to last Summer, and for her blatant Piglet-Pies about supposedly consulting with residents on the committee changes (she had falsely claimed to have spoken to 348 residents associations for starters ), and for continuing to tell Piglet-Pies about how Grenfell will always be this council’s number one priority, THINK present the Leader of our council, Dizzy Lizzy, with a more than well deserved Piglet-Pie Award:

But we are not quite finished yet; because for also previously repeatedly claiming that “Grenfell is our number one priority”, for telling Piglet-Pies by claiming that Grenfell would be top of the agenda at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and failing to ensure that it was, and for also falsely claiming that the Grenfell Community Assembly meetings are an adequate replacement for a scrutiny committee, THINK are also proud to present Marie-Therese Rossi with a Piglet-Pie Award too:

Shame on the pair of them.

The next Overview and Scrutiny Conmittee is at 6:30pm tonight at Kensington Town Hall. Here, for any residents who may wish to go, are the agenda and details (and at least the website is working this time):

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/8043/Committee/1613/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

Sonetimes we feel like we have had enough and are not sure if it is worth our going, but maybe sending North Kensington residents into despair, distress and leaving us emotionally exhausted to the point where we just give up, was what RBKC intended in the first place?

RBKC Fail #2: 🎶Working as a waitress in a cocktail bar…..🎶

This is Kirsty Tobin, she is both Head of content, channels and digital and also Head of Grenfell Communications at RBKC.

Some residents referring to Ms Tobin’s particular sense of style, have described her as a “Human League reject circa 1983”! But Ms Tobin clearly does not appear to pay as much attention to her duties as she does to her appearance.

On Friday, there was a meeting about Grenfell Soil and Environmental Checks . It fell to THINK to publicise this as our council failed to mention it anywhere. Not on social media, and not in the many publications that come through our doors nowadays such as “North Ken News” or “Housing Matters”.

It gets worse than that, because residents looking for details of the meeting on the RBKC website were for some reason redirected to details for a Planning Applications Committee meeting from last February instead.

As for Friday’s Grenfell meeting, some not very bright spark decided that holding the meeting at 10am when most residents are at work, would be a good idea. Furthermore, both the bad timing and the absence of publicity for a meeting of such local importance was not just an insult to the North Kensington community but also was an insult to Professor Paul Nathanial who had turned up there expecting more than just a handful of residents to be there asking questions and his disappointment in this did not go unnoticed.

It is not only residents in North Kensington and visitors however, who are being let down by Kirsty and her colleagues. The webcasts of Full Council meetings do not appear to be working at all – so much for their “improvements”

As for “channels” if that means RBKC’s YouTube page, it is not regularly updated and nor is it easy for users to find what they are looking for.

Also something ought to be mentioned about that Planning Application Committee meeting from February 4th last month – which had a very packed agenda with several items and several objections, so it was obvious that there would be a very large number of residents attending the Town Hall, but still someone thought it was a good idea to pack them into a little committee room with people crushed against the door, while both the Council Chamber and the Small Hall remained empty.

We have to tell RBKC that particularly after Grenfell, that it does not exactly look good for the council in charge to be breaching health and safety conditions publicly in their own administrative centre.

The RBKC website might at first sight look nicer, but it is still clunky, malfunctioning and hard to navigate and just as bad, if not worse than ever.

RBKC residents are now facing a 3.9% increase in council tax and tenants are facing a 5% rent increase partly to pay for such incompetence and we deserve better than people who cannot organise a p*** up in a brewery or just do not care.

We wouldn’t even trust Ms Tobin to get the orders in a cocktail bar right. ….

If RBKC really wants to improve, it is time that they stopped wasting our money on paying cosy salaries to people for doing next to nothing, and here is a venue that is more suitable and appropriate than Hornton Street, for “Kirsty Hopeless” and her non-skills:

RBKC Fail #1 Where has the lame Grenfell “Pantomime Horse” gone?

After RBKC scrapped the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee last year, most residents of our community have hardly seen or heard much from the RBKC Grenfell Team.

Pictured above, is Dr Robyn “Dobbin” Fairman the Chief Executive of the RBKC Grenfell Team, who once ( back at a time when the Committee meetings were going ) locked horns with a THINKer over which parts of our community were affected. Dobbin, who came here from Lewisham, arrogantly thought she knew our community better than its residents!

But that was then and this is now. and what appears to have happened is that the Grenfell team has decided to just leave matters of Grenfell Recovery to residents, campaigners and voluntary organisations and disappear from North Kensington.

Residents can make complaints, but here, from the RBKC website, is a list of complaints they will take on board:

  • “The application of the Grenfell Rehousing Policy in the rehousing of former residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk.
  • The application of the Wider Grenfell Rehousing Policy in the rehousing of residents of Barandon Walk, Testerton Walk, Hurstway Walk, Treadgold House and Bramley House.
  • The Dedicated Service for bereaved and survivors.
  • Management of properties occupied by former residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, including complaints about repairs to properties.
  • The Curve Community Centre.
  • The Family and Friends Assistance Centre.
  • The former keywork service, discretionary financial payments or other support provided to those affected during the emergency response phase”

So thats no mention of any help other than at The Curve for affected North Kensington residents nor any acknowledgement of us at all outside the aforementioned blocks and streets ; we don’t exist

Also nothing regarding lack of provision of 24 hour drop-in quiet space provided to lone adult and older residents – that means a neutral non-clinical space where visitors will not be inadvertently interrupting a meeting , yoga session, language class, employment/training session etc. and somewhere that is free of children running around and background noise.

That also , regarding the rehousing policy, amounts to a big two fingers from the council to any other traumatised Grenfell-affected council residents in the area who are asking to be moved.

Unsurprisingly, Kirsty Tobin, another unhelpful member of the Grenfell Team, appears to be responsible for the dismissive tone of this, but we have more about Ms Tobin coming up in part 2,…

Also regarding parts of the community affected, we are sorry to sound like a broken record will just leave this here again and are sorry for repeating ourselves but RBKC still do not get it: The “wider community” term appears to attach Grenfell-related concerns to residents living some distance further away from Grenfell, most of whom with respect, do not live in the immediate community, do not see Grenfell Tower from their neighbourhood let alone home and do not necessarily relate to issues around this locality. But our council appears to spend more time and effort into consulting on Grenfell issues with residents of Royal Hospital Ward or Brompton and Hans Town Ward just for example – rather than residents in North Kensington wards. Please reconsider this term because it is causing further suffering here.

So what about the others who are supposed to be helping us? Sheila Durr is another member of the Grenfell Team who has failed our community. Here is an old post of ours regarding sonething Fairman and Durr helped to do; axe a night service for traumatised residents (this was back from when they first tried to get rid of it):

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/rbkc-does-u-turn-after-trying-to-axe-grenfell-night-service-for-traumatised-north-kensington-residents-again/

Durr the disgraceful was supposed to be the “Director for Communities and People” We have heard that she has apparently since left her post at RBKC, not that her lack of presence has been noticed or that anyone misses her “work”…

Not all members of the Grenfell Team are completely lacking in humanity and compassion, we have heard some positive feedback from some residents regarding Callum Wilson, who is head of service for Grenfell Assistance Centres .

We are glad to hear that Mr Wilson did help make sone inprovements to services at The Curve, and has listened to some of the survivors and bereaved. Though this was not a good start:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/the-curious-case-of-the-curve-the-council-and-real-causes-for-community-concern/

But at least he appears to be the only member of the team who is doing something helpful and not just putting out PR or else ignoring people ….

As for anyone else on the Grenfell Team, none of them has shown any interest in listening to and/or working with North Kensington residents and have not even bothered to attend local events related to their brief. We accept that the likes of Robyn Fairman and Callum Wilson cannot be everywhere, but all their other colleagues have done a complete disappearing act

Some could wonder if some of them are unaware of what their full brief is, but Dr Fairman is far too intelligent for that, so it leaves us with the sad conclusion that they are deliberately neglecting our community and do not see Gremfell Recovery in North Kensington as any part of their duty and instead believe it to be work purely for residents, campaign groups, charitable organisations and the NHS to be getting on with.

This is wrong and they still do not get it, but what is even more wrong is the fact that our council appears to believe that neglecting the needs of a devastated community is in any way, acceptable.

Of course, the Grenfell Team would not be turning their backs on us just by themselves and are just likely following orders. and clearly the training courses in compassion that some councillors have supposedly undertaken haven’t worked….

And since July, the Grenfell Team has been allowed to carry on its work (or not) and ignore most residents in North Kensington and be subject to next to no council scrutiny at all – what a disgrace.

Grenfell Soil Residents Environment Meeting in North Kensington tomorrow

The RBKC Cabinet “Toxic Garden Gang”

At 10am, tomorrow Friday the 6th of March, at Westway Trust, 1 Thorpe Close, W10 5XL there will be a special meeting of the RBKC Environment Select Committee regarding Grenfell soil and environmental checks.

We are very sorry for the short notice, but it didn’t exactly help things with the RBKC website going on the blink…

We got this screenshot only today:

We have headed this post with a humourous Photoshop of the RBKC Cabinet (on the theme of the children’s “The Garden Gang” books by Jayne Fisher), but THINKers are affected North Kensington locals and sometimes a little humour keeps us going in dark times, but that does not detract from the actual seriousness of the issue (actually it helps sometimes by getting more people to sit up and take notice).

But sadly some at our local authority do not appear to be actually taking the matter seriously as we are receiving reports from upset residents looking on the RBKC website for details, only to be redirected to an agenda for an unconnected RBKC Planning Applications Committee meeting last month.

Here are the results of the first stage of the Government environmental test carried out in the Spring and Summer of 2019:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/grenfell-environmental-checks-stage-1-report

Yes, these were done over a year after Grenfell.

Just for some brief background, some of our readers may remember this back in October 2018 from The Guardian regarding the findings of Dr Anna Stec:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/12/toxins-found-in-grenfell-tower-soil-study-finds

Also our guest post for fellow North Kensington blog Urban Dandy on the matter:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/urbandandylondon.com/2018/10/17/grenfell-air-myers/amp/

Well we hope that the RBKC Environment Select Committee and the RBKC Cabinet can at last try to be more open on this, because at the time only the RBKC opposition councillors echoed the concerns expressed by our community.

Other officials ought to be there tomorrow too and answer some questions , but we won’t hold our breath…..

Our blog will remind all Committee members, any RBKC Cabinet members and any Government officials who do happen to turn up, that our local community is still very traumatised and distressed.

It also doesn’t help matters with Phase Two of the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry underway and survivors, the bereaved and North Kensington residents already having to watch a show of buck passing, fobbing off and deals being made. Unsurprisingly, trust in some of those in charge is at a particularly low point among the many affected

If the authorities involved wish to restore at least some of that trust, then some honesty, openness and taking responsibility for actions and inactions would be a good place to start, even though on this subject, with regards to health concerns affecting residents regarding Grenfell toxins, some of those in charge (and we mean the Government and Public Health England in particular here) may have already left this matter rather too late. Stable doors, bolts and horses come to mind….