The Rotten Borough has got some nerve!

We hoped to end the evening on a positive note with our previous blog post.

Unfortunately, along came RBKC Housing to pee on our parade and darken the mood of our blog today.

Why? Let’s see:

1. When someone is housed by RBKC (and also formerly KCTMO) and they live around the corner from Grenfell, where 72 friends and neighbours of theirs died mainly because RBKC put flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower – it’s a bit much sometimes for the same council to be giving us fire safety advice. (They could have more tastefully put out leaflets and hired a fire safety expert to write them instead, but – no). What some residents living in the neghbourhood received today was this letter, above

Seriously, with all the extra PR Communications staff they have now , RBKC could have perhaps approached this more carefully given how affected some local residents are?

2. As useful as some of the advice is regarding not having barbecues in balconies, and not storing flammable items, electrical goods, glass items, paint or upholstered furniture on them (this is what the letter basically says), all that advice, which may be useful to some residents. – and no, the actual advice isn’t an issue – but it is completely useless and irrelevant given to an entire block whose residents do not have balconies at all!

RBKC was supposed to be knowing about what its housing stock consisted of ages ago. When they took over management of our housing from the TMO, Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring promised residents that the council would undergo an assessment of all their housing stock. So what happened to that? Because it would only take someone as little as two minutes to walk around the outside of that small block of flats to figure out that nobody there has a balcony!

3. Just in case anyone assumes this happens to be an “innocent mistake”, we’ll just remind everyone of our post about the very same block of flats – on Hesketh Place, where RBKC failed to implement the Fire Brigade’s recommendations and put a push bar fire exit fire door on the rear exit of that building. Instead opting to just put a sticker up in the main hallway pointing the way to the front door (do they seriously think residents are that stupid?)

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/rbkcs-ludicrous-definition-of-an-emergency-fire-exit/

So much for our council’s posturing over fire doors……..

4. What is more, senior council officers LIED to residents and councillors in a Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee meeting on the 13th of March 2018 and said they had followed the recommendations of the Fire Brigade. (We posted about that too):

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/news-from-the-rbkc-housing-and-property-scrutiny-committee/https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/14/news-from-the-rbkc-housing-and-property-scrutiny-committee/

Not only that but OVER TWO YEARS LATER, there is still NO push bar fire exit door fitted on the rear of that building.

A sticker pointing the way to the front door is not a fire exit; but RBKC thinks it is (just as they think residents there have balconies we suppose….)

RBKC’s housing stock assessment exercise is either taking one hell of a very long time or it doesn’t exist.

We believe that local authorities ought to know about the layout and types of their properties and residents living in them before they go out giving fire safety advice.

So forgive us if we are unable to take RBKC supposed concerns about fire safety seriously.

We think some Piglet-Pie Awards are in order:

For failing to undertake a proper full assessment of all housing stock as promised, for allowing other officers to knowingly fib about fire exits, for showing ZERO consideration for how some residents affected by Grenfell may be feeling when communicating about fire safety and for the whole heap of bullsh** on top in the form of lies and broken promises to residents in council housing, THINK are proud to present both RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Grenfell, Kim Taylor-Smith and RBKC Director of Housing Management Doug Goldring with a joint Piglet-Pie Award:

Former RBKC/KCTMO Director of Housing Teresa Brown headed for the “Fire Exit” and out of RBKC (thank goodness) in June 2018 (just in time for the Grenfell Anniversary). Before Doug Goldring arrived, she was in charge of housing stock. Here is what her LinkedIn profile says:

Actually there are around 9,400 homes in RBKC – so we had a Housing Director who didn’t even know how many homes she had overall responsibility for! And as for “Strategy” we all know where that ended up… The next time we expect to hear from her will be when she appears at the Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry (and she’d better not tell Piglet-Pies then).

So for all this, plus the fibs, incompetence, neglect of our housing, partly causing this mess and allowing her staff to tell blatant lies to residents, for failing our community before and after Grenfell, for being in her position for over four and a half years and doing NOTHING , plus a whole back catalogue of other things, THINK are especially proud to award Teresa Brown a very richly deserved Piglet-Pie Award (it’s the very least she deserves) :

Perhaps we’ll give them some “fire safety advice” and tell them not to place the awards on their mantelpieces?

Covid -19: Community, councillors and carers (plus some help and information)

This is a blog post for everyone.

It is partly about the great work that some of our RBKC councillors are doing in and around our community (because we felt it was time to share something positive about them for once! ) It is partly to share information and useful help links with our readers – both for those who can help others in need and others who may be more in need of some help themselves, it is also partly for us to share a few thoughts, and also to show our deep gratitude and appreciation for the NHS real life heroes who get up and get on and whose work it is to put everyone first and save lives.

As we reported yesterday, the Covid-19 hub has been set up for clinically vulnerable people living in our borough. This has been set up in our borough distributing food and essentials for clinically vulnerable RBKC residents under 65. See this KCSC link for further details:

https://www.kcsc.org.uk/news/under-65-food-distribution-service

There is further information of other help available at the RBKC website here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19


Here are Colville Labour councillors Ian Henderson, Monica Press and Nadia Nail helping out – both for the council hub , and below – for Covid C-19 Mutual Aid.

Residents living in Colville, Notting Dale or Norland Wards (C-19 Mutual Aid Zone 2) who are self isolating and need shopping, collecting prescriptions or dog walking, can call Mutual Aid for help on 020 3287 9928


Here are some other Labour councillors: Golborne Cllr and Leader Pat Mason, Dalgarno Cllr Kasim Ali, and the two St Helen’s councillors Mo Bakhtiar, and Portia Thaxter delivering and collcting food and shopping for those in need around North Kensington recently.

Our local Kensington and Chelsea Foodbank is running low on donations, so if you can, please make a small donation to help them keep supplies of food and basic essentials for people in our community who need them most.

You can do this fron home by making a donation via the website here

Local residents can also leave items on Mondays and on Fridays between 10am to 3pm at Notting Hill Methodist Church, 240 Lancaster Road, W11 4AH

Here is an up to date list of items the foodbank urgently needs:


The Age UK Foodbank for vulnerable residents over 65 based at Al Manaar the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in Acklam Road is also in need of donations and supplies.

If you can help or donate food , please contact them here https://almanaar.org.uk/contact-us/#

Al Manaar have been continously outstanding in their help, support and care for many North Kensington residents of all faiths both in the aftermath and devastion of Grenfell and right to this day.

Ramadan began last Thursday and while the Mosque may be closed to the public due to Lockdown, there is a livestream of services and sessions here on their website.

Local residents and friends of this community can donate to Al Manaar here


Every Friday between 10am and 12pm there are free food parcels available for those in need or to collect for others, on a stall outside All Saints church, Clydesdale Road, W11 1JE


We send our thanks to all the local volunteers, community groups and religious organisations for their help as well as big thanks to Khalsa Jatha, the local Sikh Gurdawara in Queensdale Road for preparing and donating cooked meals for residents in need and The SPACE and Bikeworks and all others who have been out delivering food to residents of RBKC, LBHF amd Brent recently


It’s not just Labour councillors in North Kensington who have been volunteering:

Courtfield Conservative Cllr Janet Evans has been out and about helping people in her ward too

And fellow Courtfield councillor Greg Hammond has been helping out as an NHS Response Volunteer

We say a big thank you and take off our THINKing caps to all these councillors and the many incredible volunteers around the borough helping out.


Tbis is a very difficult time for everyone right now and some of us may be very limited as to how we are able to help out.

Some of us are also finding Lockdown a struggle – either mentally (lack of work and routine, not seeing friends and family has been personally hard for us)

Others sharing space 24/7 with family members or flatmates are also not finding things easy.

Dr John Green, chief psychologist at Central North West London NHS Trust has some helpful advice on coping with stress, anxiety and boredom during lockdown in this My West London article

If things really do become too much for some residents, here are some emergency numbers of organisations that can help with advice and support too:


And here is something most of us can do; show our support gratitude and heartfelt respect for our NHS Professionals and carers who are right there on the frontline.

This Tuesday we held a minute’s for the NHS workers (over 100) who have passed away from Coronavirus. Our thoughts are with their loved ones, families and friends.

However difficult some of us may be finding things, it’s important for all of us to think of the people whose job it is to save lives and put others first, sometimes at a cost to their own health and wellbeing too. They are putting their lives on the line to save others and to help keep this country going.

So this evening at 8pm, and every Thursday , let’s give our incredible NHS professionals a big round of applause together. Open your windows or doors, make some noise and Clap For Our Carers

πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

The “RBKC/TMO Bermuda Triangle” of missing case files and housing records

Something appears to have happened along the way of transition of management of our housing services from Kensington and Chelsea TMO to RBKC or something may have even happened before or since

Sorry to sound so unclear, but the reason for this is because a number of residents’case files records and details that were supposed to be being kept by RBKC Housing and before that, the TMO, have gone missing

We do not know the exact number of households this applies to or of exact dates . this happened, or even if some information in a few cases, was recorded at all, but what we do know is that some housing officers have not found records or important information that should have been kept and passed on to them. Records, case notes and other information appears to have gone missing, or not been kept such as:

– Issues to do with conditions of properties

– Details of contact between with the Police and residents recorded

– Residents suffering from severe mental illnesses or disorders that might impact how they are able to manage their housing and on their contact with officials

– Incidents or antisocial behaviour amongst neighbours

– Incidents between residents and housing officers or other council staff

– Details of information shared between Police and housing officers

The full extent of this problem is not known but we wouldn’t be surprised to find the housing department and many officers completely unaware than some residents may have physical or mental disabilities, chronic illnesses and other conditions , and also of any essential contact with NHS or Social Services.

This, is particularly worrying during Lockdown when many of the most vulnerable residents may be in need of help but might not be recognised so by the council partly because of “oversights” like this?

Kim Taylor-Smith has said he is committed to change, but something has to be done to address this very serious matter; we hope he is listening.

One step forward could be carrying out a big reassessment of all council households after lockdown and having new rules and checks in place to ensure that all housing staff keep full and up to date records.

We think this is nothing short of scandalous, especially considering RBKC and KCTMO’s roles in Grenfell and we believe there ought to be an independent investigation into the full extent of this. RBKC social housing residents have suffered more than enough

As for the present time, we will just leave our readers with this link from Kensington and Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) for the food distribution service for vulnerable residents under 65 who right now require extra help and assistance, and some of whom, with no thanks to RBKC/KCTMO’s more than mistake here, may not be aware that such help exists:

https://www.kcsc.org.uk/news/under-65-food-distribution-service

RBKC Housing Question Time: Coronavirus response – put your questions to Kim Taylor-Smith

Question Time

RBKC residents have the opportunity to put their questions to Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing Kim Taylor-Smith regarding the RBKC Housing response to Coronavirus. We urge all residents with concerns, queries and interests to take part.

Here is what RBKC says:

Question Time is back! Deputy Leader Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith will answer questions about our housing response to #Coronavirus

Get involved – email a video query or written question to socialmedia@rbkc.gov.uk by Friday 1st May

He’ll answer questions as soon as he receives them.

Make sure you submit your question with a subject line that says ‘Question Time.’ We will share his video responses as soon as we can.

We look forward to hearing from you! #AskRBKC

THINK are glad the council has listened to us regarding written questions and we thank them for now accepting emails as well as videos for this format as we suggested.

Of course, we have a few questions of our own on this , as do some of our readers – so here goes:

1. Vulnerable residents and help What are housing staff who work with some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents (given that not all can self refer or are officially categorised as ” clinically vulnerable” by health services) , doing to help ensure these residents get the help they need?

2 Tenants and leaseholders. While it is reassuring for many to know that the council will not be taking any legal action against anyone who falls into arrears with their rent or service charges at this time when so many people are suffering financially, can you please give further details nd information of what other help is there available for

a) Tenants?

b) Leaseholders?

3. Noise and nuisance: Understandably, tensions between some neighbours will be running high with many residents indoors 24/7 and closely living very nearby in some situations.

How can the council help residents report and take action against disturbance such as loud music or DIY going on late at night if council services are not running as normal?

4. Enforcement of lockdown in coumcil homes and communal areas: A small minority of council residents are breaking lockdown by having parties, gatherings, and also are leaving rubbish in communal areas, further exposing other neighbours close by to risk of getting Covid-19.

What plans, if any, does the council have to work with Police and residents to help tackle this?

5. Fire doors: While many appreciate the importance of ensuring properies are fire safe, someone at the council has deliberately taken the decision to fit the new front doors on tenants’ homes at this particular time, because in their words “everyone will be at home”. This appears to show a complete lack of sensitivity towards residents who are vulnerable and/or self isolating.

Can RBKC give a guarantee that they will only fit doors at this time with the prior consent of the tenants and will not force entry or unnecessarily pressurise residents into having the doors fitted at this time if they are not comfortable with this?

6. People in temporary accommodation providers and hotels

a) What help and support is there for residents living in temporary accommodation?

b) What is the council doing to make sure that providers of temporary housing keep people safe at this time?

c) Can you guarantee that households of more than two people are not being made to stay in cramped hotel rooms or bedsits?

7. Help for residents suffering domestic abuse or family problems

What help and support is the council offering to residents who may suffer from domestic abuse amd/or family problems at this time? Is there any further provision of extra emergency accommodation?


We thank the other residents who sent these to us or made suggestions and we will be emailing this blog post to Kim Taylor-Smith for his responses.

We also hope that the responses to all questions are posted on the council’s website as well as on social media unlike the last exercise – so ALL residents can see them


Our council and the Communications “Cabaret of Calamity”

RBKC appears to be even further away from good relations with many residents, particularly in North Kensington, then they were last Summer. But some may wonder what exactly is going further wrong?

Our friends at Urban Dandy have some further light to shed on matters here

Communications in RBKC exist on a much larger scale than ever before , both in the form of public relations and advertising and also supposedly in “resident engagement” though many of us would quesion what level of actual meaningful engagement with our communities really has been underaken and just how much the council is listening, as well as disputing the fairness of some of the consultations with us that RBKC has undergone. Let THINK lift the curtains and put the spotlight on some of the “stars of the show”……

Barry Quirk

RBKC Chief Executive Barry Quirk was appointed in the aftermath of Grenfell and is paid a whopping salary of over Β£200K

Dr Quirk also appears to be partly responsible for the new wave of appointments of senior council officers and their teams – we call them “the Suits” – made since then.

There seem to be more of these suits than ever before , all of whom will come at a greater financial cost through us paying more council tax and higher rents and service charges than ever before – and then they pay for extra PR to try to sell this to us; though most of us are not buying it. They tell us it’s to pay for Grenfell Recovery but many of us question that and just how much in North Kensington is the council really doing.

Perhaps “Bookworm Barry” who usually has his head in a book – just assumes local residents are a bunch of “dummies” who won’t be questioning this? Let’s provide him with some extra reading material then:

Robyn Fairman

Some residents had thought that RBKC Executive of the Grenfell Team, Robyn “Dobbin” Fairman, had left our borough and gone off on her hobby horse.

But perhaps not, because in a recent shameful edtion of “Housing Matters” that we blogged about here, she has a foreword and is described as “Executive Director for Housing and Social Investment”.

Dobbin has featured in our blog elsewhere before – here. Dr Fairman came to RBKC from Lewisham, where she was previously “Head of Strategy” where – you guessed it- Bookworm Barry was previously Chief Executive before he came to us!

Given that Lewisham has had several controversial regeneration projects going on , some people questioned whether her appointment here was such a good idea, considering that regeneration was the reason for Grenfell Tower refurbishment, and before the fire, North Kensington residents were facing the loss of much of our social housing, plus our college and many of our local community facilities.

Dobbin has made her attitude clear to most North Kensington residents outside Lancaster West Estate by either completely ignoring them or treating them with arrogance and contempt.

Nick Price-Thompson

Nick Price-Thompson is RBKC Head of Communications. He came here after his predecessor Michael Clarke departed having caused nuch so distress and offence to so many in North Kensington while was in the job, Here is a example of this, and his alleged racist comments, briefly mentioned here are another.

But what changes have we seen since Nick “Tigger” Price-Thompson has taken charge? Well not a great deal, though he is an improvement on Clarke (but then again, almost anyone would be).

Royal Borough newspaper is still going, along with countless other more recent council publications either in paper form or via email. We could be here all day listing them, but these include “K & C Life”, “North Ken News” and “Housing Matters” to name but a few.

There are so many magazines and newspapers that it is confusing people, but Tigger and his Comms Team colleagues do not listen to residents telling them this and that they are getting fed up of receiving so many of these.

A lot of important information gets left out of most of these publcations, many tenants and leaseholders do not even know who their housing officers and staff in charge of where they live are, details and dates of meetings are not usually shared in them, and neither is any sort of basic help directory for useful things like recycling services and free and discounted rubbish collections for example (though they probably have their hands full disposing of all the unread extra magazines!) Services, activities and help at community centres outside The Curve , such as what is on at Henry Dickens Community Centre or on at the SPACE for example, does not get published in these.

Nick Price-Thompson apparently receives an allowance of Β£142, 970 for his “work” and he goes on social media quite a bit too, but we didn’t see too much effort from the RBKC Comms Team into promoting this (actually very good) consultation on planning policy, so THINK put the word out and shared instead – at no cost to the taxpayer at all!

Kirsty Tobin

We have posted about Kirsty Tobin before –here

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

Soon, after that blog post was out, Ms Tobin came up to one of us after the last RBKC Leadership Team meeting and had a few words.

Our THINKer asked her why most residents were umaware of the last “Grenfell Community Assembly” and Ms Tobin blamed the delivery company for not ensuring all North Kensington residents had leaflets. She asked us to get in touch with her if this is a problem again: fine we will do, but we doubt that whether this will make nuch difference, because this has not been the first time this has happened and probably won’t be the last and know that Kirsty and her colleagues often fail on a basic communication essential – namely listening.

We did ask her why there had been ZERO council publicity for this Grenfell soil and environment meeting – but she did not respond.

Yes they make a habit of this, most residents were completely unaware of the meeting before our blog publicised it, and we still are in the dark as to who thought that putting it on at a time when most of the affected local population were at work was a good idea…

Grenfell? Comnunications? Where is our money going exactly? Forgive us for banging our heads against a brick wall.

Ladies and gemtlemen, take a deep breath, because here are two other “suits” who are supposed to engage with residents and our communities for a living;

Lorna Hughes

Meet Lorna Hughes (most of us haven’t!) She is “Comnunities Lead” at the Community Engagement team at RBKC.

This is how she describes herself on her LinkedIn profile: “A passionate change maker committed to improving public and social spheres. After many years working in community development activities my goals remain the same to contribute to a fair and just society that values every individual.

Let’s just remind Lorna of what our council thinks is a “Full List of Residents’ Associations” here

Well it doesn’t look like the (far larger) list of RAs omitted from the list are valued by the council very much, does it?

Ms Hughes has been in her position for a year, which really ought to be more than enough time to correct this.

THINK will show her this blog post , and also point out that the list does not appear to differentiate between local area groups and residents’ groups, so we will enlighten her; people who live anywhere who merely take an interest in the locality can join a local area group and only residents living in the specific place can join a residents’ association, group or compact . This RBKC mistake basically means that there are people living in other parts of the world receiving more council communications and even in a few cases, having more of a say on local matters than some people who actually live here!

Local community campaign groups, like Westway 23, Friends of North Kensington Library and Save Wornington College play a vital role in Grenfell Recovery in North Kensington – but this is also being ignored . We suggest that Lorna Hughes also reads the Urban Dandy post – and that she pays special attention to what local campaigners have to say so here it is again

THINKers also happen to be very active community campaigners and local residents and we have never met Lorna, received any written communications from her or indeed ever recall seeing her at meetings – the same goes for many other local residents.

Seriously, who ever heard of a Head of Community Engagement who does not engage with most of the community?

Iago Griffith

Meet Iago Griffith. He is “Head of Community Investment” at RBKC.

We have posted about the Tenants’ Consultative Committee before. After the meeting, that some of us gatecrashed, another branch for residents in social housing without RAs was set up – now known as the “Homes Group”.

This was long before Iago Griffith arrived here, but most tenants and leaseholders are still unaware that the TCC exists. Iago has sent out papers to TCC members, but nothing in the way of notifying others in social housing of TCC meetings so they can take part too.

A small minority of individual residents and a couple of RAs at some of these meetings appear to be favoured by the council above others for some reason and we have received some complaints – with some fingers pointing in Iago’s direction for RBKC not dealing with this. Perhaps he is somehow partly trying to live up to his Shakespearean namesake by stirring up jealousy and resentment among residents? It seems that “divide and rule” may still be the order of the day with some.

But we’re not convinced by him either and we will let residents concerned about the level of real meaningful engagement from Iago know what his job before he came to RBKC was: Neighbourhood Regeneration Officer at Lambeth!

“Community Investment” is supposed to mean us – residents – and our true value to the community. But anyone looking at what has happened to some social housing in Lambeth, may well interpret that job title in a very different way.

It also has to be said that neither Lorna Hughes nor Iago Griffith and their positions, a comprehensive description of what their responsibilities are, or their contact details have been made available in most of the numerous council publications, and they are not on the RBKC website.

And here is a former suit who has helped to leave council committees and scrutiny in a right mess and who deliberately shut out residents affected by Grenfell:

Grenfell, scrutiny and the non-recovery: Take a bow, Heather Wills!

Heather Wills was Director of Governance and Coordination at RBKC has left our council, but her efforts, which have helped to further harm relations between residents and the council as well as relations between the Leadership of RBKC and the Labour opposition group, as well as reducing levels of council scrutiny as a whole, cannot go unmentioned here.

As local resident, Claire asked at the first ever Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting: “who elected Heather Wills?” Her question went unanswered but most of us know the obvious answer – nobody; and this is part of the problem, unelected staff who are unfamiliar with the community and are setting the agenda and who are failing to properly involve residents in the lead up to decisions being taken.

Wills the wilful was apparently behind the “”Residents Conference” which was not advertised anywhere and consisted of just 15 people out of a population of over 160,000 (!) who supposdly felt that dog mess was a more pressing council issue than Grenfell recovery. Most RAs were of course, completely unaware of the event, yet this was treated by some at RBKC as a legimate residents’ response!

(We did notice on Heather Wills’ last day , that unlike former Director of Housing Needs Maxine Holdsworth, she did not receive a round of applause from anyone – not even senior RBKC Cabinet members – for her work, which has set us all on a backwards path. )

Urban Dandy had further background on scrutiny and something to say about all this at the time.

We posted about changes to committees and the meeting when RBKC voted for abolition of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee last year too.

A poor show

We seem to have gone from a few narcissistic councillors before Grenfell who carried out their own agendas while oppressing objections from residents and suppressing community activity, to more unelected managers and directors than ever before, and the council’s PR management of Grenfell communications has sadly put many members of our North Kensington community off going to meetings and speaking to some RBKC staff and councillors.

Council communications and directions have mostly become blurred in a fog of unnacountability, with residents for the most part not kept fully informed despite the plethora of publications and social media announcements.

When a few RBKC Cabinet members have on occasions made some genuine effort to engage with residents, matters are not helped by the activities (and indeed inactivities ) from suits who do not live here, and who do not know the borough or its residents very well.

There are obviously differences of opinion – that happens everywhere, and the local priorities and indeed political affilations, for say, a residemts group in Queen’s Gate Ward and another in Golborne Ward, may at times, be at opposite ends of the scale! A balance needs to be struck, but also there needs to be some sensible exercise of a line of communications between differing parties at times. Unfortunately most of what we see does seem to be selective and conducted unfairly; and it must be stressed that not consulting with affected residents and others living near Grenfell but consulting with residents outside North Kensington on Grenfell related matters instead is just plainly absurd.

Politics aside, as difficult as this might sound, most community-active residents and our council, if we are ever to really see any kind of positive change, need to at some point work together and find points of agreement on which to build foundations on. Diffcult but not impossible.

RBKC Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy ” Campbell and some of her supporters are blindly ignoring the obvious and what is actually right in front of them – communities that already exist – but are leaning on the suits for direction. Cllr Campbell perhaps ought to bear in mind that putting so much faith in an unelected, not very transparent council management strategy is costly, undemocratic and it also appears to be alienating local people who have traditionally been supportive of the RBKC Leadership.

There is a lot of talk from these suits of residents “co-designing” but we have to question who is really designing what? Because so many residents are not exactly being communicated and engaged with in any sort of meaningful way. Most of what we are hearing and seeing is just more corporate speak and advertisements – most of which is less than helpful.

It is not clear to most residents of this borough who exactly is giving the stage directions here.

How long before the curtain comes down on this whole rotten debacle?

(WE SEND OUR THANKS TO URBAN DANDY AND ALL OTHERS WHO QUESTION THIS CORPORATE COMMUNCATIONS πŸ’©SHOW, AND KEEP OUR COUNCIL ON THEIR TOES!)

(Most of this article and the other links happened to be drafted before this country and our community was under lockdown due to Coronavirus Covid-19. Our thoughts are with all affected . )

Parks, communal areas and Police: Keeping safe and keeping sane

Recently the increased Police presence in our local parks has not gone unnoticed. While many of us are pleased to see more Police officers about, residents of our local communities have varying opinions on lockdown, social distancing and exercise in parks and gardens and other people’s behaviour.

Well THINKers are never afraid to exercise our opinions so here goes:.

– We love our local parks and strongly believe for the good of peoples’ mental health and wellbeing that they must be kept open.

– We also do not have an issue with people exercising or sitting in our parks or families playing – provided they do not use the play equipment or outdoor gyms and keep 2 metres away from others of course.

– While we are pleased to see more Police about, we do not happen to believe that sunbathing, sitting in the park with a book or having a family picnic should be regarded as any kind of criminal offence – but that is only our personal opinion and we would advise others to not do this.

– We also do not think it is acceptable for some people to shout or hurl abuse at or to take pictures of others sunbathing and act as wannabe Police officers. Please be peaceful and leave law enforcement to the professionals.

– We do however believe that Police could be doing more about residents who are breaching the rules by having parties and gatherings. Some of us living in social housing have little choice but to live in close proximity to others. It doesn’t help if one or two residents in a block keep breaking rules by having numerous guests over, congregate in small communal areas and leave their rubbish outside other residents doors. They are putting others at risk of getting Covid-19 – far more risk than most joggers or sunbathers – and we feel the Police need to urgently increase patrols of social housing blocks and estates.

– We will also point out to some people that if you happen to live in a block of flats and are surrounded by noise from other neighbours all day, that sitting in a park and having a nap or reading a book might be the only peace and quiet you will get. Not everyone, especially in our part of town, is fortunate enough to have their own garden.

We will finish however by thanking the Police for doing what is already a difficult job at what is a very difficult time. It’s also important to be aware that crime still goes on regardless of Coronavirus or not. Let us all please be sensible and mindful of both ourselves and others to get through this.

Stay safe and stay sane everyone.


Addendum: North Kensington residents have been in touch with The Dame on blog From The Hornets Nest to report drug dealing, noise and nuisance being allowed to go on in their streets during lockdown while the local Police appear to be more concerned with sunbathers. See what they have to say here

RBKC Housing fire door decisions put temporary accommodation residents at risk of Coronavirus

This picture is taken of a fire door contractors vehicle (there were two) in North Kensington today. They have been hired by RBKC to fit fire compliant front doors on around 50 temporary accommodation flats (not pictured)

Do not get us wrong; we fully support Kensington and Chelsea’s safety measures to replace doors with new fire safety conpliant front doors in all their council homes of course.

It’s just that there are right times and wrong times to be pursuing these measures. We believe that at this time, the immediate risks of Coronavirus Covid -19 and the wellbeing of residents ought to be the number one priority for this council right now.

But some not very thoughtful housing officers have apparently sent the contractors in today regardless of whether residents are self-isolating or feeling at all comfortable with this going ahead or not.

Appearently the housing offficers’ reasoning was “everyone will be at home” – disgraceful

Also most of these homes happen to be studio flats, which are close together and with very narrow corridors, so residents of the buildings have to be very careful with regards to social distancing every time they open their flat doors.

As for fire safety, this is not an emergency because there have been no fire incidents in these buildings, which are just three storeys high, and the fire exits in and out of the buildings are compliant with fire regulations.

Most residents look forward to the day when lockdown is lifted and there is no health risk to anyone (and the health of council and contractors too ) from carrying out these measures.

Until then, we think it should be up to the individual residents of these flats to decide if the doors should be fitted or not at this time , not some thoughtless, compassionless housing officer, sitting at home miles away, seemingly more concerned of how council statistics may look for them personally than they are about the welfare of others.

Not to mention that the officers in charge obviously hold the people they are responsible for in contempt – why else would they decide that residents aren’t capable enough of deciding when the time is right to carry this out on their own front doors?

Sadly this sort of thoughtless uncompassionate behaviour from some housing officers is not unfamiliar to us and it totally and utterly reeks of the despicable TMO. We think it is the right time for RBKC Housing to have a look at how some of their officers behave and to do some much-needed Spring cleaning.

RBKC “Resident Engagement” bouncers and their failure to recognise several RAs: “Your name’s not on the list”

Nightclubs may be closed while we are under Coronavirus Covid-19 lockdown, but perhaps (and hopefully) later on in the year , their doors will reopen again. (Please everyone, before then, be sensible and do keep safe!).

Same goes for Kensington Town Hall and our council. But later this year, things will likely get moving again. Questions of which directions things will move in and how we will benefit (or not) will be back on the agenda for many residents.

One recurrent problem is the very poor show of resident engagement from RBKC which as many of us all too well know, has gone on for far too long.

Some may have wondered which residents get acknowledged by our council and which ones do not.

Here is a list which smug, ignorant and complacent RBKC assumes is a “Full list of Residents’ Associations” :

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/residents/listing.aspx

THINK could be here all day counting the residents’ associations, compacts and groups that are NOT on this list, but let’s just mention one well known North Kensington RA, and one that is around the corner from Grenfell – yes, Bramley House RA, chaired by the formidable Samia Badani, has been omitted from the list too. Surprising? Perhaps not, as RBKC has a long tradition of ignoring North Kensington residents.

The list, which includes RAs, and groups – and these comprise of private owners, leaseholders and tenants – also omits the vast majority of RAs, groups and compacts of residents in housing association owned homes and estates.

No wonder RBKC’s “Residents Conference” back in July was attended by only 15 people …….

THINK recommend local RBKC residents of all tenures and types, to check if their RA is listed on RBKC’s not very full list. You can search for yours here.

And if your association, group or compact is not being recognised, get it registered here

Not the right time for this? Actually provided you are feeling well and up to emailing, it’s the perfect time for this, because many of the council staff responsible will now be working online from home without the music playing on the Hornton Street decks to distract them.

Residents are not getting the recognition and respect they deserve from RBKC. Enough of this “club” that either keeps serving us up watered down cocktails of nonsense or leaves us standing out in the cold.

Of course, this does not guarantee that your voices will be heard in the crowd as we know that a few RAs on the list get treated like VIPs while quite a lot of the RAs on the list still get ignored and left out of consultations by RBKC regardless ; but it is an start, and we think it’s time for more residents to get together to get the DJ to change the record.

Most of the RBKC “Resident Emgagement” or “Community Engagement ” officers do not live here, and when they are usually at work, do not venture out of their offices very often, so quite a lot of them do not know a great deal – either about this borough or its residents; which explains quite a lot. We think it’s time they got to know us better.

Oh, and just in case the RBKC needle gets stuck on the same old repetitive scratchy record and our council still fails to acknowledge you and/or recognise your organisation after lockdown when there cannot be any possible excuse, feel free to get in touch with THINK and report it to us here and we will make some noise!

Not all RBKC residents are in an RA, group or compact (this includes some THINKers), or even have the possibility of setting one up – and the vast majority of people who fall into this category are not recognised at all . This situation also has to change, and we will be coming back to this on our blog sometime soon; the beat goes on…..

“DJ” Doug Goldring

Don’t be a plonker on social media: Please support the community instead

THINK are sorry to our followers for our Twitter account still having technical difficulties. We hope to get it back up and running soon.

Lots of RBKC councillors like to get on Twitter too. but a few of them perhaps ought to think about what they put on social media first, because our blog has received a few complaints about a recent rather poorly judged Tweet from Labour Cllr Robert Atkinson (and no, the Photoshop of him above, is ours!).

Here it is:

What is wrong with someone tweeting about a few indulgences some might ask?

Well, nothing if that “someone” doesn’t happen to be a councillor for Notting Dale, one of the most deprived wards in the borough posting about them on his councillors public Twitter account.

With Coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, self isolation , many residents either ill, poor, unable to work and earn a living (or all of those) and with shortages at the local foodbank, perhaps Tweeting about your “priorities” featuring several bottles of your very nice bottles of sparkling vino might not happen to be in the best possible taste when at a time of pandemic crisis, when several of your ward constituents are wondering if they will be able to afford to eat or have basic essentials ?

Needless to say, some of Cllr Atkinson’s Notting Dale Ward constituents on Twitter weren’t too impressed:

Well, quite indeed.

We know Robert Atkinson well and do not believe he meant to upset anyone but maybe he might think more carefully when Tweeting in future and we guess the self isolation and social distancing might be getting to him as it is to quite a lot of us.

Oh well, hopefully Cllr Atkinson will get his priorities right in Notting Dale and make a donation to the Kensington and Chelsea Foodbank in his ward and also to look into some of the desperate situations that a number of his constituents are facing.

We are also hearing about people on zero hour contracts who may not qualify for extra help, others not identified as vulnerable (because they are not considered to be severely ill or regular NHS service users ) and some of the poorest residents who have prepaid key meters who are now struggling to have gas or electricity for their home, as well as elderly isolated residents who do not have the support from friends or family.

THINK say a huge thank you to the dedicated local volunteers who are keeping the foodbank up and running and also to those delivering food and essentials to so many residents in need.

Our readers can support Kensington and Chelsea Foodbank by making a donation via the website here:

And by donating food and other essential supplies on Mondays and Fridays from 10am to 3pm at Notting Hill Methodist Church, 240 Lancaster Road, London W11 4AH

Here is a list of items that the foodbank urgently needs:

RBKC Leadership Question Time: Dizzy Lizzy gets busy (or not!)

Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back with RBKC.

At times, some of our points and suggestions at first appear to have been registered, but then are taken in a differemt direction.

Take the new “Question Time” initiative where residemts put their questions to the RBKC Leadership Team for starters.

Now where did they get the idea fot this from we wonder?

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/think-halloween-special-2-a-nightmare-in-hornton-street/

But before residents get too hopeful, here comes the Rotten Borough with a large pin to burst that particular balloon. Because here, posted on Nextdoor, is what the council says:

We know our residents have a lot of questions about our response to COVID-19 so we want to help answer them with a new video series – Question time. #AskRBKC

First up is Leader Elizabeth Campbell who will answer your questions directly. What do you need to do?Email a 30 second (or less) landscape video asking a question with the subject line – Question time and your topic (housing, business, etc) to socialmedia@rbkc.gov.uk & include your Twitter social handle + name by Sunday 5 April.We’ll then select the most popular questions based on what’s asked the most to feature in a video(s) where Elizabeth will answer directly. Any specific questions about housing, business, etc will be addressed by members of the Leadership Team on video at a later date. Let us know what’s on your mind.

Well, that’s not quite what we had in mind….

Our idea back last year was for a regular meeting and that is currently impossible of course , actually what we had in mind was a format that was as inclusive as possible, and a live online webcast and with written questions from residents submitted prior to the meeting via email.

We know that many more residents regarding Coronavirus Covid-19 will be in far more vulnerable positions than ourselves, so THINKers will be sitting this one out, but definitely plan to tune in to see the questions and responses.

But as the RBKC Leadership Team read THINK regularly, here are just a few questions for them regarding this particular setup:

1. Why are they not accepting emailed questions? (not everyone is on Twitter, some people are not comfortable being on camera – especially at this time )

2. Time limits – why? (It’s not as if the RBKC Cabinet have their diary pages completely full of meetings and engagements at this time . Not many questions last under 30 seconds and there is only until this Sunday to get them in)

3. Who is picking and choosing the questions anyway? Popular with whom? (Having had more than enough of selective community engagement from Dizzy and co we are guessing that means questions which are more favourable to them).

Our council seems to have forgotten that not everyone is on Twitter (our Twitter account is still out of action – sorry!), or knows how to send landscape videos of themselves, or would feel up to it – it looks like they are excluding quite a lot of the most affected and vulnerable people in the borough – namely the elderly, the sick and the poor – by having the exercise in this video “quicksnap questions” format.

Anyway THINKers know that our readers will no doubt have plenty of questions to put to Dizzy Lizzy and her colleagues so we encourage everyone who can, to take part.

We suppose it is something and at least something is better than nothing, but the residents of Kensington amd Chelsea really deserve to be treated with more respect.

These are troubling times to say the least, and the communities of this borough will be less than satisfied with mere words, statements or PR exercises from Dizzy Lizzy and her “Team” .

When April Fools aren’t funny #2: DWP fail to acknowledge Coronavirus

Some people never cease to amaze and astound us, and not in a good way:

We thought that RBKC messes and blunders were bad enough, but it appears that some people working at the Government Department for Work and Pensions may be in need of having their heads examined, because why on earth, during a pandemic crisis when our country is in lockdown, would they think that right now of all times, is the best time to be sending out “Capability for work” questionnaires to people??!!

Look, we get it that the DWP have to send these out to those in receipt of social security benefits, that is not the issue. The issue is, er, don’t these people watch the news, read the papers or look online or something?

If not, let’s educate them shall we?

Here, for the DWP, is just a bit today’s news:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-update-live-news-cases-uk-map-latest-today-deaths-a9439711.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-52122761

Never mind the fact that of course, some of the people receiving these may indeed be too ill to work, too ill to go out or too ill to be doing anything else quite frankly. Not to mention that some people receiving these may still become very unwell . It could be weeks, if not months before anyone could be in a fit state to respond.

Seriously, we thought someone was pulling our leg until they sent us a screenshot of the letter, which was dated two weekes ago and the pillocks (we’re being polite!) who sent it have given people on Universal Credit only until the end of this month to send it back – with no thought as to how the people receiving the form will he able to not just give an up to date realistic response, but also may not be able to go out and send it back of course…… πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

A number of DWP staff could also be off due to the Coronavirus crisis , so how so they expect to process the thing?!!

Perhaps someone at the DWP just happens to have a very SICK sense of humour……