Slumlord millionaires and the disgraceful dumping grounds for our homeless and vulnerable

Pictured is Mario Carozzo of Caridon, a Croydon-based property firm that is best known for being owners of slum warehouses where some homeless families get dumped in such as Templefields House and Terminus House in Harlow.

Both of these modern day slums have been in the media see this “Is Harlow being used to socially cleanse London”, this , “Harlow human warehouse drug deals and violence uncovered” this , “Inside the human warehouse: Desperate fanilies describe life in office block turned into flats” and this “GRIM FIND: Horrified cleaner who discovered rotting corpse in human warehouse quits after being forced to tidy up aftermath”

Some Caridon “flats” are as tiny as only 18 metres.

Caridon, who house tenants in these types of properties in various locations, are reported to have received over £8 million in housing benefit for putting people up in these conditions.

If being sent to go and live miles away and being isolated from family and friends, work and support isn’t distressing enough, living in a crime and vermin- ridden cramped dangerous warehouse certainly is.

But arrogant nasty piece of work Mr Carozzo doesnt care; here, below is the sprawling property in Surrey that he lives in after raking in so much cash off the back of people living in squalor:

The video of the Panorama programme from earlier this year which shows some of the utterly disgraceful and thoroughly depressing conditions that some homeless households housed by Caridon after being sent there by their local authorities is extremely depressing. Our readers can watch it on this link

Personally we’d feel safer sleeping on a park bench…..

Some might be wondering what we are doing blogging about other areas generally outside our remit, but RBKC does send most people on the housing list in the borough to go and live out of the borough and disgracefully, we can reveal that contractors Mears Group -who house people in accommodation provided by Caridon – are on the list of private providers of tenporary accommodation that our council uses.

Last year Caridon sent out this b×’°$°°t to some local authorities including RBKC.

Mears Group back in April this year commissioned a report fron (not very) “independent” local government think tank Localis to review the Social Value Act.

Former Leader (until 2014) of RBKC Sir Merrick Cockell is the Chairman of Localis.

Social value? Are they having a laugh? We don’t think that people who have to live in these slums have too much to laugh about.

Mears Group do not appear to have consciences, let alone any sort of social values – and this is how they treat asylum seekers – here

Both RBKC Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell and RBKC Deputy Leader Leader Kim Taylor-Smith are known to have previously appeared at Localis events. Perhaps they can tell us if like Cockell, they still approve of Mears ?

THINK are not exactly sure what “social value” there is in dumping homeless and vulnerable people in warehouses far away where we wouldn’t expect a stray animal to live.

Assetgrove, headed by Sot Sotiriou, pictured above are a property company based in Winchmore Hill, are another approved temporary housing provider that RBKC use. They are also the landlords for slum warehouse Connect House, which in based on the Willow Lane Industrial Estate in Mitcham. The owners of the building – Connect House Ltd and property developer Joel Wider are reported by SW Londoner to have made nearly £2.5 million profit within a year of the building being converted.

Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh, who has some constituents housed there has previously highlighted the terrible conditions that families there are living in.

Assetgrove are involved with a wide range of properties and also act as a seemingly ordinary letting agent in north London. Some blameless small time property owners of flats who might think they are doing the right thing by letting Assetgrove manage their properties and use them to help provide accommodation to the poor and homeless may be in for a shock too, as Assetgrove were expelled from The Property Ombudsman scheme after they apparenty failed to conpensate a property owner for missing rent and a cooker that went missing

Finefair Consultancy Ltd are another temporary housing provider that RBKC uses. Two years ago, the Hackney Gazette reported on some of the conditions that Hackney locals were living in. The hostel is owned by Blue Chip Trading Ltd. who Finefair contracts out to.

We couldn’t find any pictures of the slum landlords at “Blue S**t Trading Ltd” but here they are on Companies House

Pictured above is Finefair’s founder Kamran Naseem. Housing people in poor conditions doesn’t stop Finefair fron winning awards for best property management however (but then again we also remember KCTMO winning awards too – just what planet are these people on?)

It is ultimately Eric Pickles when he was Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he made changes to the law bringing in Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in 2013 which allowed developers converting offices and shops to bypass planning laws who we have to blame for these slum warehouses and the rise of the unscrupulous property developers and magnates making a killing – literally.

Councils are putting people in conditions where some will end up killing themselves, or one another, or perhaps end up dying as a result of fire and anyone with half a conscience after reading the articles and seeing that Panorama programme will be wondering about the fire safety risks posed by housing hundreds of people in cramped conditions in buildings that were not intended for that purpose in the first place. We also think the risks of people catching and transmitting Covid-19 will be vastly increased in such places too.

Shamefully, Pickles, like Gavin Barwell , another former Government minister who does not care about the health and safety and wellbeing of residents in social housing either, now sits in the House of Lords.

If our council really does want to provide “high quality temporary accommodation” as they said here then they must stop using providers like these immediately.

If anyone at RBKC accuses us of media hype and sensationalism, we’ll just renind them that a THINKer once spent time being dumped in temporary accommodation outside the borough some years back which was provided by this council – and which she still has nightmares about to this day, and certainly witnessed violence and drug dealing on an every day basis, no effort to safeguard residents and was afraid for her life – and this wasn’t even in any of the places described here which appear to be far, far worse. The articles linked to this piece sadly ring true.

At least Peter Rachman’s tenants were able to live in their local community…..

RBKC Question Time: Any Answers? Part 5: Anne Cyron

Community Engagement empty “nightclub” with Iago Griffith & Anne Cyron

This is our fifth instalment of our “Any Answers?” transcripts of RBKC Question Time regarding the council’s response to Covid-19 , and this time Anne Cyron, RBKC Lead Member (Cabinet) for Communities has responded to our blog and our questions and points about campaign groups being acknowledged, residents’ associations and the poor show from Community Engagement officers at our council as we have referred to prevously here and here

There is also an online meeting this Thursday July 2nd at 5:30pm of the newly formed Residents Association Engagement Network and residents can sign up for the meeting here.

Readers will see in our previous post that this meeting has not been shared with all the local RAs and groups and has just instead been posted in RBKC’s Facebook page.

We’d like to know if Cllr Cyron considers such a lack of effort towards direct communication with residents to be adequate (is copying and pasting a link and emailing it to RAs really too difficult? ) , so this is far fron the end of the matter in our view…..

Question from THINK blog: Why has the council not officially recognised local campaign groups like Westway 23, Save Wornington College and Friends of North Kensington Library?

Anne Cyron: “Thank you for your question about local campaign groups. We absolutely recognise the role that these groups have played in bringing local views to the council and it’s very important that the council have changed their direction on both North Kensington Library and Wornington College because of these campaigns which I know has been a very long journey.

As for Westway 23, I’ve personally engaged with many members of this group and they’ve played a key role in moving the board of the Westway Trust to be much more community led and I fully support the board as does the council, so I’m not really sure what you mean by formally acknowledge? The groups themselves don’t want to be formally constituted which is of course completely up to them, but the council have met with, listened and worked with all three of these groups and in some cases actively supported their work.

It’s completely our duty to engage, listen and discuss concerns with local people and campaign groups and local people totally want to be involved in policy development and the council believe that service users rightly expect to be part of the service development. I beluece this is the nost inpirtant part of the change that’s happening with the council and it’s certainly what I strive to do in my role. ”

Question from THINK: Why have the Resident Engagement officers continued to deliberately refuse to recognise long-standing residents’ groups from Housing Association properties?

Cllr Cyron: “Tenants’ and residents’ associations including those from housing association properties play a very important role in ensuring that residents” views and voices are heard by the council. I was very worried to hear that those officers who are entrusted to engage with groups deiberately refuse to recognise some of them.

The council wants to work with all residents groups and we do not exclude associations for any reason, and particularly not because of their housing tenure, and if there are any groups who do feel excluded I’d ask you to please to contact me directly.

We’d also work with and hear views from local associations which are not residents’ associations for example conservation area societies and others. A full list of all the groups that have given us permission to include their details publicly, appears here on the council website.

I do think that some groups may not be included because perhaps they are not formally organised, and this should never be a barrier to having their voices heard, and it does not mean that you can’t be registered on our list and receive communications from us.

We will support groups to become a formal association for example; having a constitution, having regular committee meetings, and we will provide guidance and support where we can to ensure that groups become formally organised if they would like to do that.

Please email Community Engagement on this email address if you would like to receive this support.

We do produce a community update enewsletter which over 700 organisations now receive; including comnunity and voluntary groups, faith partners and RAs, and this contains quite a lot of useful up to date information and we publish it really regularly because things are obviously changing so fast. I really would urge any group that we’re not aware of, to contact Comnunity Engagement or contact me.

I think that we need to listen to as many residents views as possible as we continue to respond to the emergency.”


THINK know of and are encouraged by the fact that Anne Cyron is having some productive communications with both some campaign groups and a number of both residents groups and individuals involved with our communities , but she is being let down by what we can best describe is a lackadaisical approach that some of RBKC’s Community Engagement officers are taking and also some of her Cabinet colleagues.

In this article, “Grenfell, still raging after three years” Labour councillor for Golborne Ward North Kensington and our MP until last December, Emma Dent Coad makes several good points including this:

My plea is to stop using what is called ‘community engagement’ (which more often results in community enragement) as a proxy for real change and empowerment of communities. What we need now, as ever, are fewer photo ops at food banks and more structural realignment.

While there are some pigeon steps towards more postive communcation with residents being taken by a few Cabinet councillors such as Cllr Cyron and Kim Taylor-Smith, many residents , especially in the North of the borough, still feel that their voices are not being heard and concerns are being ignored

Most of us who are affected by Grenfell really do want our Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee to be reinstated forthwith .

After all, this Committee was abolished against the wishes of most residents in North Kensington and our views were certainly NOT taken into account when RBKC’s decision over this was made…..

Residents groups who are still not included on the RBKC list or who are concerned about the lack of communications to their RAs fron the Community Engagement team can email Cllr Cyron here

Covid-19 RBKC Residents engagement meeting this Thursday

THINK are sharing details of this online meeting for the Residents’ Association Engagement Network this Thursday July the 2nd at 5:30pm – register here– because RBKC’s “community engagement ” officers have not bothered to share with a number of RAs on their list and a number of other RAs groups still not included on their list have not heard about this either.

Instead this link was posted on RBKC’S Facebook page and a resident sent the link to us to share.

We have the transcript of the Q & A with Anne Cyron, Lead Member (Cabinet) for Communities and some more words for our council *and the rather poor show from their community engagement officers) coming up in our next post Here are further details of the upcoming meeting plus contact details for RBKC’s community engagement team:

Event description

“Join us for the first meeting of the Residents’ Association Engagement Network to support the Council’s work for Covid-19 recovery”

“Please join this meeting to comment on Council plans for Covid-19 recovery, share your ideas, and hear information about latest government guidance and what this means for our residents and communities.

This will ensure the Council hears from those who are closer to the ground to understand the needs of local people. It will also complement work with other local groups such as neighbourly and faith groups.

For the first meeting, we’ll discuss work to support some of our most vulnerable residents and have an opportunity for Q&A.

The network will be chaired by an independent facilitator and is the first of two planned meetings.

This meeting is open to representatives of:

  • Residents’ Associations
  • Tenants’ Associations
  • Leaseholder Associations, and
  • other similar residents’ groups

Please register in advance by clicking ‘Register’ at the top of this page, to guarantee your place and to ensure we can accommodate everyone on Zoom. You can join the meeting online or by dialling in on your phone.

If you have any questions, please contact us at communityengagement@rbkc.gov.uk or 020 7598 4633 (9am-5pm)”

RBKC Draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy and survey

RBKC residents have up to tomorrow to give their feedback by completing this survey here which will go some way to help formulate our council’s housing policies on homelessness, rough sleeping and housing support.

THINK support these and have made some points at the end of this post as well as in the survey. We encourage our local readers to complete the survey, give feedback and share.

The ten key points across four broad areas from RBKC are :

Preventing residents from becoming homeless and assisting them when they become homeless

1- Giving residents the power and ability to solve problems by refreshing and personalising the advice and information we provide when people may he facing homelessness.

2. Make sure we have the right solutions and ensure we are maximising all pathways into appropriate and settled accommodation

Providing suitable temporary accommodation for homeless households

3..Improve our provision and procurement of high quality temporary accommodation for homeless households

4. Ensure a range of settled accommodation and support is available to homeless households that we have a duty towards when homelessness can’t be prevented.

Reducing and working towards the elimination of rough sleeping

5. Prevent residents from rough sleeping in the first place

6 Helping residents that are sleeping in the streets for the first time off the streets for good

7. Support entrenched rough sleepers off the streets for the long term

Working with partners to prevent homelessness earlier

8 Look at the wider causes of homelessness in the borough and develop solutions through early identification and intervention

9.Make our housing services more visible and accessible to all residents and better communicate what we can and cannot offer

10. Work with partners and other housing providers to develop more effective interventions and solutions to homelessness through earlier identification and intervention.

A few points from us on this:

These points are all encouraging and admirable but perhaps rather ambitious considering that Housing needs and support services in our borough are at best, stretched. We really hope that RBKC plans to provide increased funding in order to meet these points.

We hope that with regards to the last point, that our council will look further into hidden homelessness in the borough – which is more commonplace here than some would think.

We are also concerned that there appears to be no commitment to ending the “Temporary Accommodation Lottery” which often means that households in very similar circumstances receive very different accommodation – ie someone getting temporary housing in the borough while another person gets sent to the other end of London when both have identical housing points and needs.

We also believe that our council needs to have a written commitment to housing residents of this borough in the borough first.

We are pleased to see that our council wants to work with other housing providers but there are still very few Housing Association properties being advertised on the Home Connections website. Also including more HA homes in nearby areas which are just outside the borough such as in Westminster or im Hammersmith amd Fulham just for example, on the Home Connections register would be helpful to some homeless households too

Some THINKers have direct experiences of living in temporary accommodation and we are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of residents, living there. We would also like to see a written commitment and increased help and support ftom the council regarding the safety of residents placed in TA. We also know of cases of residents becoming homeless after leaving TA in which they did not feel safe in after receiving no help and support from the council.

With some cases around homelessness prevention, residents often receive better help and advice from the Citizen’s advice Bureau or their local Law Centre – such as North Kensington Law Centre or the Nucleus Law Centre in Earl’s Court – than they do from Kensington Town Hall.

The mystery of the suits in the dark

Before Grenfell, for a number of years, Tony Redpath was Direcror of Strategy and Local Services at RBKC and thanks to the outstanding research from the Grenfell Action Group had been revealed to have had a crucial role in the not very above board sell off of Wornington College to RBKC at a knock down price back when he was also “coincidentally” a Governor of troubled KCC.

It was only disaster and devastion at Grenfell that put an end to the plans that Redpath played a role in. It was the Save Wornington College campaign who helped to get the Government and the council to recognise the importance of the College in North Kensington residents’ lives and so much more so after Grenfell when the community needed rebuilding and recovery.

Redpath had been last seen by residents at Kensington Town Hall back on the 9th of June 2017 when after three recounts, Emma Dent Coad was elected as our MP. He had been the Returning Officer. After Grenfell he did a disappearing act.

But where is Tony Redpath now? This is a question that many people still ask and that someone asked us only yesterday.

We thought he had retired to Colliers Wood and was now spending time being secretary and head groundsman at his local little league football team and pottering about in his office in the garden , but maybe not…

We thought to take a look at Redpath’s LinkedIn profile which says he is still at RBKC:

Well we know that he is, shall we say, a somewhat shady type of suit (our term for senior council staff) ,it wouldn’t surprise us if he thought it best to “accidentally” mislead people into thinking he is still at Hornton Street when bis council days are long gone, but as some others at RBKC seem to be just about as untrustworthy as him, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Redpath was still here lurking in the shadows.

Some other suits appear to be cloaked in a mysterious shroud of secrecy:

Who is this mysterious “Andrew L” the Head of Grenfell Housing Services? Does he even have a surname? Why is he not listed on the council website or on any council material?

Hiding in the dark does not appear to be particularly “customer focused” to us…..

We do know for a fact that RBKC is very cagey about disclosing to the public about who their senior staff are and what they do; they do not publish a full list of senior staff (just a rough very out of date chart of a tiny handful of suits is what they bother to share with us) on the council website and when residents ask them, we get met with a wall of silence.

A THINKer put in a very simple FOI request to RBKC:

Does RBKC not think that their residents affected by Grenfell and their housing have a right to know who is involved and who has responsibility for this?

Apparently not, because the information, that RBKC could have provided to us the next day or so, is now TWO MONTHS overdue.

While many of us can thankfully close the book on the murky story of KCC and our council, RBKC’s lack of willingness to be transparent and accountable and their deliberately keeping us in the dark over something so basic such as letting us know who is in charge of what, only leaves us wondering if there is something shady over another matter going on that might give residents a nasty shock . Let’s hope not for all our sakes.

What do they have to hide?

LinkedIn or logged out?

Former RBKC Cabinet Member Cllr David Lindsay is back on the backbenches and appears to be looking for work:

Just look how he describes his council cabinet career :

North Kensington residents are still waiting to see that culture change at RBKC along with more empathetic councillors and staff but perhaps Dinosaur Dave lives in prehistoric times….

And there’s more:

Oh yes, the “smooth running of council meetings”, complete with the shouting, heckling, booing and protest signs from affected residents living near Grenfell.

Or like this Administration Committee meeting fron last year that Cllr Lindsay chaired?

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

This is what The Dame at From The Hornets Nest says:

The Dame was looking for an accounts chappie to run her complicated financial affairs when up on Linked In popped Cllr David Lindsay.
Talk about using the Council to blow one’s own dented and tarnished trumpet!
According to Cllr Lindsay, the supposed cultural sea change post the Grenfell tragedy was more or less down to him!
One resident in the north countered his self promoting garbage by saying, ” worse chairman ever; barked at and upset traumatised residents at last summer’s admin meeting.
Oh, and what cultural change exactly do you claim responsibility for?”
The Dame decided not to shortlist this blowhard for the £350k a year position

But at least Dinosaur Dave has other strings to his bow and a background working in managerial and finance roles, unlike some other councillors.

Here is Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell’s profile:

Yes, that’s right, the Leader of Kensington and Chelsea does not appear to have ever had any job other than being a councillor!

And this “like’ from Cllr Campbell is very telling:

We guess this goes some way to explaining why she wastes so much of our taxpayers’ money on PR nonsense – and yet she still continually fails to engage with residents in the north of the borough.

Who knew that Kensington Town Hall also serves as a Job Centre for the unemployed and the unemployable?

And speaking of the unemployable, here is Matthew Palmer’s profile:

No, we did not Photoshop that – Cllr Palmer has genuinely listed “husband” as a job on his profile !

As for “Council Skills” , simply Googling his name tells anyone that he is probably the last councillor on earth with those.

What Cllr Palmer forgot to mention on his Linkedin profile was that he was a losing contestant on the first ever series of reality TV show The Apprentice back in 2004.

Now out of the Conservative Party and sitting as an Independent, and with no other job and an empty CV, it looks like Matthew Palmer really will be facing genuine unemployment after the 2022 Local Elections.

But we will not feel too sorry for him, because he spends his spare time outside the Town Hall trolling us!

We think a spell in the real world would do Matthew Palmer some good. After all, he expects many of his constituents to get on and make do.

What a bunch! If only their profiles and CVs appeared on the ballot papers…….

RBKC Quality Review Panel: Green light for regeneration in North Kensington?

Not everyone is aware of the Quality Review Panel at our council (maybe RBKC Communications Team decided to take a holiday?)

Here is the official description of it :

The Quality Review Panel provides expert advice to applicants, council officers and the planning committee during the pre-application process, and by commenting on planning applications. The panel is provided by Frame Projects and is funded independently of the council.

So who exactly are Frame Projects, some might be wondering?

Frame Projects are an architectural consultancy firm based in Islington. They are currently involved with other Quality Review Panels in some other local authorities such ad Barking and Dagenham and Camden as well as large scale regenerations and developments with Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) as well as with the Olympic Park area in East London .

This does not bode well at all.

The link to the terms of reference for the panel is here

Concerned yet? We believe a number of residents ought to be.

Pictured above is Nairita Chakraborty. She is an architect at Iceni Projects, a member of Historic England and now a member of the RBKC Quality Review panel. She also was Principal Conservation Officer at Haringey from 2013 to 2018.

We do not think that Nairita has necessarily moved on from playing with Lego as a kid, because this is what she has appeared to do when at Haringey .

The last time a THINKer visited Haringey, they were very shocked to see that Tottenham Hale looks more like “Tottenham Tower Block Hell” now, with the once pleasant views of the River Lea and the reservoir obscured, or rather completely ruined by what we can best describe as a dystopian nightmare of a Lego set of tower blocks.

Most of the planning decisions over these buildings were made while Ms Chakraborty was there.

Nairita appears to enjoy toying around with local residents too as this Tweet from a resident (and former councillor) in Haringey back in 2015 appears to show:

There is one member of the panel that we are pleased to see on there – architect (they’re almost all architects) Barbara Weiss – who is co-founder of the Skyline Campaign. Her appointment to the panel is one of only a couple of positives we can glean from this.

As for residents, or strictly speaking local area conservation groups who are mostly residents, the Chelsea Society were fortunate enough to get a meeting with RBKC and both Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Johnny Thalassites listened to them and now there will be a representative from the Chelsea Society and another from the Kensingon Society on the panel – this is the only other positive.

But really, this offers little hope for residents in the more economically deprived wards of North Kensington who stand next to no chance of ever being heard, let alone ever getting a meeting about this with RBKC of course.

Sadly we think the formation of this panel spells the beginning of sneaking in regeneration by the back door in North Kensington and possibly the end of some social housing here too (that’s one way of getting rid of us!) – just look at the schemes that Frame Projects are involved in for starters – which do not exactly say “small-scale planning advice to someone building an extension on their house” do they?

We know that residents living here will likely end up getting this forced upon us with no say whatsoever while parts of our community get carved up to “create communities” (we’ve already got a wonderful community thank you very much) and all that nonsense while the needs of residents and small businesses in our community take a back seat to the wants of developers.

North Kensington residents – you have been warned……..

Young Bambi has a lot to learn

We originally thought because of his positive communications with local groups and residents and with his opposition to the Kensington Forum Hotel redevelopment scheme, that Lead Member for Transport and Planning Johnny Thalassites was a positive addition to the RBKC Cabinet last year.

However, his appearing to be the developers’ spokesman and his ridiculous spin regarding the Kensington Odeon (which resulted in his receiving one of our Piglet-Pie Awards) is making us reconsider.

So has his leaving local conservation groups out of the Quality Review Panel as reported on From The Hornets Nest here.

But the council has fortunately listened after a meeting with the Chelsea Society and now there will be representative members from Kensington Society and the Chelsea Society on the panel – here

We do not think Cllr Thalassites has bad intentions for the borough , but his inexperience is leading to some silly decisions and could ruin his previously good relations with residents as well as the reputation of both him and the departments that he is responsible for in general. Everyone makes mistakes but we really hope he learns from them.

As for planning, there are more than enough unscrupulous developers and other persons with vested interests around here who will have him for breakfast if he isn’t too careful.

By the way, Bambi gets his nickname from sitting at a meeting looking absolutely terrified like a deer in the headlights and hiding behind Catherine Faulks from angry residents.

Residents can put their questions to him for another RBKC Question Time by tomorrow, Thursday June the 25th Send your written or video questions in to socialmedia@rbkc.gov.uk

(and let’s hope Bambi doesn’t hide then!)

Seriously though, Johnny Thalassites might want to read further on into our next post to see some of our concerns about the Quality Review Panel too……

RBKC Question Time: Any Answers? Part 4: Josh Rendall

This is the fourth installment of our transcripts of the RBKC Question Time sessions regarding the council’s response to Covid-19. This time, residents put newly appointed Josh Rendall, Lead Member (Cabinet) for Family and Children’s Services to the question.

Cllr Rendall has not made too many regular appearances in this blog for good reason; since his election in 2018 he has shown himself to be a thoughtful. intelligent and enthusiastic councillor who impressed even cynical THINKers when he was on both incarnations of the Housing Committee previously. His recent appointment to the Cabinet is in our view, a good one.

It’s far too early for us to form an opinion of whether Cllr Rendall is doing a good job in the Cabinet or not as he has only been in the position for a month.

One thing (and it’s a small thing) we will say with regards to his responses is that we think he might like to brush up on his grammar as schools are part of his portfolio!

Question from Barbara: Can you please tell me if parent toddler drop in groups will remain closed for the foreseeable future due to Covid?

Cllr Rendall:”Well first of all Barbara thank you very much for your question. The council is looking to Government advice to ensure that we are complying with the different rules while looking after our communities.

Based on the latest advice, parent and toddler groups will unfortunately will remain closed for the foreseeable future. However, we have a number of resources and other activities available within the council that you can take advantage of. We curate and mail out activity packs full of crafts, activities, books and other useful bits. We also have a pack for parents to ensure their wellbeing. You can email childrenscentresnorth@rbkc.gov.uk to request a pack. We also have online resources such as sign and song nursery rhyme video and virtual parent and children sessions to keep your little ones busy and engaged. To access all this information, resources and support, please visit the Family Information Services page on the RBKC website. Alternatively, you can call us on 020 7938 8400. Thank you.”

Question from Isabel: Does our borough have a plan with regards to transport for children with health or high risk conditions?

Cllr Rendall: “Well firstly. thank you so much for your response Isabel it is very much appreciated. We recommend that you visit the TFL website to view guidance around children’s travelling safely to ordinary schools.

We do however operate a service for vulnerable children, such as minibuses and a seven seater car, for our special schools and take the necessary precautions to ensure that travel is safe. Some of the things we do is repeated deep cleaning of the vehicles, staff adhering to guidance and of course, wearing PPE. We’ve also shared a letter of guidance with parents and guardians of those students using these services.

Outside of transport, our schools are currently undertaking individual risk assessments for children and young people wbo could potentially be classed as vulnerable, and how we go about that is we look at vulnerability as defined by the Government guidance. For your child and of course for every other parent concerned, we do recommend that you contact your school individually to ask them whether your child should be classed as vulnerable. I bope tbis helps. Thank you.”

Question from Pippa: As I understamd it, all contracts for Children’s Services for out of school activities previously supplied by Epic CIC ended at the end of March. Does this mean that there is nobody to run adventure playgrounds and kayaking along with other similar services, and when will the Government allow these to reopen?

Cllr Rendall: “Well thank you again Pippa for your question. Epic made the business decision to wind down themselves at the end of April 2020. Before the pandemic and as a result of Epic’s decision, the council was in talks with other alternative providers for community adventure play services to be delivered from May.

Of course, due to the lockdown, all community adventure play areas were paused and the council took the decision to also pause the re-provisioning of these services as no one would be able to deliver these services on time. Additionally, we were conscious of the changing needs of families throughout the lockdown and wanted to make sure these needs are reflected in the services that we provide.

Water sports at Cremorne in the south and Canalside in the north are similarly affected and that offer has ceased as well for the timebeing. However the council is currently in talks with other established and highly regarded sports providers that specialises in water provisions, so once lockdowns are eased, this provision can be re-opened, which of course will be compliant with social distancing measures.

However from the 1st of June, the Harrow Club had begun operating in the South Youth Hub on the World’s End Estate. They’re also beginning to shape and test a youth club that will be conpliant with social distancing measures and will also offer activities outdoors for young people. It will initially focus on smaller groups. We’ll be sure to tell you more about this in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, the Harrow Club will work closely with the Detached and Outreach Team that has re-commenced in order to engage youmg people in and around rhe World’s End, encouraging them to participate in other activities. Once again thank you Pippa fpr your question.”

This is encouraging for young people in Chelsea, but there is nothing here about children’s and youth activity services in North Kensington.

Also North Kensington parents are very angry that RBKC appears to have used lockdown to go along with disgraceful Catalyst housing association (their regeneration scheme was orchestrated by the notorious “Jailhouse” Rock Feilding-Mellen) in permanently closing the adventure playground at the Venture Centre in Wornington Road .

We’re sure that the luxury flats that Catalyst intend to build there will be of no benefit whatsoever to local children after lockdown. More than three years later, our residents are still suffering from decisions that Rock Feilding-Mellen made.

We know that Cllr Rendall did not make the recent decision to close the playground, but we think that his predecessor David Lindsay, along with RBKC Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell and Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith need to answer some questions to about this, which looks very much to us like this has been snuck through at this time.

Question from Ayse: What is the council doing to help supply children aged between 3 and 5 who have been attending nursery or children’s centres with some educational material such as arts and crafts?

Cllr Rendall: “Well thank you very much for your question Ayse. We understand what a difficult time it has been for children and families so we have been supporting them as best we can throughout this pandemic. Since March, we have emailed or hand delivered approximately 1000 packs to children. We are also supporting parents theough wellbeing calls – these are averaging about 150 per week. We have a variety of activity packs appropriate for under twos and over twos, wbich includes book starter packs, craft activities and signposting to videos and information and we regularly update these on our Family Information website.

The activity pack includes a variety of craft activities and fact sheets on how to make “Mr Cress Head” , wooden spoon puppets and more. There are additional resources for children up to the age of 11 inckuding puzzle books, modelling of clay and fridge magnets to decorate.

To promote the communication skills of our children we’ve also uploaded 20 sign and rhyme sessions which are delivered by Children’s Centre staff and wbich are also covered in six different languages. This week we are actually piloting a virtual story time with sign and rhyme sessions through Zoom and Microsoft Teams and we hope to have a virtual Children’s Centre timetable up and running in the next few weeks.

We encourage anyone who feels the need for additional support to contact children’s centres and our services where we can help discuss the best options for their specific circumstances. Thank you”

Here is the website for the Kensington and Chelsea Family Information Service:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/kb5/rbkc/fis/home.page

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Peter Bingle: Still a threat to our communities

Pictured above, is Peter Bingle of property PR lobbying firm Terrapin Communications.

It’s hard to get a list of Terrapin clients in part because Peter Bingle does not want to share this information with the public and in part because nobody is compelling him or his organisation to do so.

Back in 2009, the late, great campaigning Labour MP Paul Flynn at an inquiry into Parliamentary lobbying asked Bingle if the public has a right to know who is lining the pockets of lobbyists anf Bingle showing his contempt for the public, outrageously replied:

“No I do not. The public have no right to know who our clients are”

Well, THINK have to strongly disagree with Peter Bingle and we have some further information on a few of Bingle’s clients and connections that is of real interest to many residents here.

We have already revealed developers Rockwell Properties behind the unpopular Holiday Inn Forum Hotel redeveopment plam in Cromwell Road are a client of Terrapin in our previous post – here.

We can also reveal that another client of Terrapin Communications is Notting Hill Gate KCS Ltd – behind the comtroversial Newcombe House redevelopment plans that our London Mayor is so in favour of foisting upon residents of Kensington and Notting Hill.

As well as the Kensington Odeon – featured here – not only was Minerva a Terrapin client , but Lodha are too. We have posted about Bingle’s friend. former RBKC coucillor Daniel Moylan – who called the Kensington Odeon a “flea pit” before too here. Moylan’s last meeting with Bingle when he was still a councillor was just a week before Grenfell.

It was only the Grenfell Tower fire – that put a stop to regeneration of North Kensington’s Silchester Estate and it was Peter Bingle who was involved with this and Lendlease meetings with Rock Feildng-Mellen and Haringey councillors. This post from the Grenfell Action Group back in 2017 is well worth a read again and so is this

Jailhouse Rock has crawled back under a rock (hopefully to next be seen answering questions at the Grenfell Inquiry) but Daniel Moylan is still a presence in Kensington, even though he quit as an RBKC councillor in 2018 (let’s hope the rumours of Moylan planning a comeback aren’t true).

But not all Bingle’s connections to RBKC may necessarily be in the past as we have been informed that a senior planning policy officer at our council with the initials CT has links to Terrapin clients.

Over the river at Wandsworth, where Bingle was once a councillor, a number of planming officers and councillors might as well be Bingle’s pet terrapins

This article on Bingle’s business in Wandsworth and his frimed and former flat mate Wandsworth Leader Ravi Govindia is very interesting reading indeed.

Here is an old picture of Edward Lister, Peter Bingle and Paul Beresford when they were all at Wandsworth together

We think Wandsworth council will need a new logo soon:

As for anyone saying that these activities are providing much needed homes – let’s see how many are for social rent and how many are genuinely affordable to people on low and medium incomes and let’s see how many are for buy to leave and land banking investment opportunies for overseas investors while ordinary residents struggle to find a place to live in their communities.

We accept the need for new developments to be financially viable, but rather than explore possibilities of how to make developments acceptable to the local community by working together with residents and businesses , the greediest developers are putting making a quick buck out of flogging luxury flats overseas before anything else.

This blog is not “anti development” but we firmly believe that decisions over developments must be made in a way that is open, transparent and accountable and that the needs of surrounding communities have been taken into account.

Of course Bingle is not the only lobbyist with friends in high places and with roles in carving up communities – but he is a prominent example of why we need to clear the swamp if we can still consider ourselves any sort of democracy – but given his behaviour and his former firm Bell Pottinger’s history, we don’t think Mr Bingle has a lot of time for democracy…..

It is worth us showing this picture again too (Not seen: Bingle pulling Khan’s strings.) Could their friendship explain why Sadiq Khan is so keen on Newcombe House? It certainly raises some questions over Khan’s behaviour the Forum Hotel Scheme in Cromwell Road.

Some readers may have not seen our London Trilogy from 2018 so here are the posts again:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/who-really-runs-london/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/david-lunch-lunts-the-mr-creosote-of-the-gla/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/more-terrapins-in-the-tank-at-the-city-hall-of-shame/

Deputy Mayor for Housing and residential development Tom Copley has been partial to Bingle’s company before and Khan and Copley have approved a £50million loan of GLA public money to developers Mount Anvil – who are clients of Terrapin.

This blog is doing a follow up to the London Trilogy but really we wish we weren’t – it’s just such a dreadful shame to see that little has changed since then and we are yet again banging our heads against a brick wall – well, before Bingle’s developer clients knock down the brick wall and redevelop it into more absentee luxury flats that is.

We have also found out that another client of Terrapin is Pinnacle – who left residents of a 20 storey block of flats Dixon House, on the Silchester Estate in North Kensington just over the road from Grenfell without working lifts in March 2018, and here are the Grenfell Action Group back then on Pinnacle as reposted here

As Bingle appears to view the Silchester Estate and its residents with contempt (how dare people live in social housing on expensive land in North Kensington when he and his pals could make loads of dosh out of it ?!), we thought we would just leave this video below – of local people protesting against the Silchester regeneration outside his friend “Jailhouse” Rock Feilding-Mellen’s former home, back when their homes were under threat, to show him the feeling is mutual:

https://youtu.be/Vb1uvhexndI

Who knows where Bingle’s terrapins will pop their heads up next? Local residents hope it won’t be around here again anytime soon.

Saga of the Mayor of London and the “Tower of Mordor”

THINK are going on a journey down memory lane – or rather, Cromwell Road in South Kensington and to the Holiday Inn Forum Hotel:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/judgement-day-is-also-here-for-south-kensington-and-the-holiday-inn-forum/

Hardly a soul in this borough supported this development – most of the councillors regardless of which political side they were on – certainly didn’t. From the then Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad and her party colleagues – notably Sina Lari (who is a resident of South Kensington) also Lib Dem Cllr Linda Wade and Conservatives – particularly the local Courtfield councillors Greg Hammond, Janet Evans and Quentin Marshall – and also Cem Kemahli (pre-cabinet when he was on the Planning Committee)

Most agreed and listened to the residents – there were over 800 objections after all – who would be facing years of noise, dirt and disruption to an already severely polluted part of London, their skyline and streetscape ruined and a loss of light that the developer’s supposedly flattering computerised images and salesman patter could not disguise.

We covered RBKC rejecting the proposals back then in this blog post:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/some-good-news-for-south-kensington-residents-holiday-inn-forum-plans-rejected/

After that long and gruelling meeting of the Planning Committee at the end of September 2018 in which the council roundly rejected the plans, we warned people at the end of the post that this would likely not end here.

How right we were; sure enough, they came back as we predicted, using the housing issue – there were 62 “affordable” (we’re getting sick and tired of this misleading term) to put this through to the Mayor of London, who called in the scheme just over a month later.

Queen’s Gate councillor Maxwell Woodger had referred to the scheme in a Full Council meeting as ” replacing the most unpopular tower with the Tower of Mordor” , which might sound dramatic to some, but Cllr Woodger is a local councillor to some of the communities affected and we had previously seen evidence from residents which showed that nearby streets would indeed be shrouded in darkness from the two towers – one 30 storeys high and the other 21 storeys.

But City Hall and the Mayor of London fell for developers Rockwell Properties and Queensgate Investment Ltd and their scheme and had already decided they were going to force this on residents come what may and in June 2019, Sadiq Khan approved the scheme (having called it in the Autumn before after RBKC rejected it) citing the number of “affordable” homes provided in the scheme and the shortage of “affordable” homes in our borough.

This was not the end of the matter however and our council, with Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Cabinet Member for Transport and Planning and its Legal Team at the helm as well as local Residents’ Associations – 30 of them objecting to the scheme – went to the High Court and applied for a judicial review and also for full documents to be disclosed to the RBKC Legal Team

This was granted and during the judicial review earlier this year , it turned out that Sadiq Khan had deliberately not provided relevant documents to our council and had tried to bypass Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Govermment.

The Judge quashed the Mayor’s approval decision and agreed with RBKC that he had acted improperly. Khan conceded to the judgement and admitted that his purpose had been to frustrate the Government. His office was ordered to pay RBKC legal costs of £90,000.

Whatever some may or may not think of Sadiq Khan policywise, there is no debating the fact that he is a highly intelligent and accomplished statesman . So the mystery to some was why the Mayor would behave in such a cavalier, arrogant and dishonest way over this.

Khan’s actions over this have damaged whatever credibility he may have had with voters here and we certainly do not envy Kensington Labour Party campaigners who will be in for a very hard time from residents on the doorsteps next year – that’s if they can find enough local Labour members who will happily defend Khan’s behaviour that is….

So was the Mayor of London just overly keen to engage in a pointless game of party political ping pong with the Government and RBKC ? Or did he just have something against Kensington locals and assume that people who didn’t want this here were just being a bunch of nimbys or snobs?

Possibly neither as THINK might have a possible answer to this, as we can reveal that developer Rockwell Property are not just clients of PR property lobbying firm Cratus , they are also clients of Peter Bingle and Terrapin Communications, who have featured in this blog several times before, notably here and here.

This picture below shows just how close Bingle gets to Khan. We wonder if he treated him to a few nice lunches with a side order of some “helpful” suggestions on-behalf of his Terrapin clients? Nothing mentioned in Sadiq’s entry in the City Hall gifts and hospitality register about this either – the shame of it.