Cleaning services in RBKC Housing survey

RBKC social housing residents have until this Sunday, November the 1st to complete this survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete, about their cleaning services (and one of the options is to have cleaning setvices back “in house”) :

http://www.rbkc.gov.uk/cleaning-survey

Now we are going to have a few words here:

First of all we do not know why a survey about our cleaning services is asking residents for their date of birth,ethnic background, religion and sexual orientation (seriously what does any of that have to do with our cleaning services?!)

We are going to thank the suit who emailed us with the sutvey – we don’t know of he wants to be named, so we won’t, but we thank him – this is what a good RBKC suit does – shares council surveys and consultations with local blogs, who of course will share with others. He is not in the resident engagement team but we think he should be.

Now to the subject of cleaning, this THINKer likes their cleaners, we think they do a good job given the very little time and very few resources they are given to do the job and she is not going to put the blame them for a shortage of caretaking services and a failure of RBKC to deal with persistent vandalism to her comnunal flat (now thankfully fixed) door and constant fly tipping in her block of flats ( there is someone’s sofa STILL by the back door despite emails to the council about this).

This THINKer does not even know who their caretaker is.

But fly tipping in blocks of flats and estates is a constant problem and also a fire safety and hygiene hazard for many . One of us did suggest that the council promotes their “Too Big For The Bin” service because we think that if more residents knew they can get their old furniture junk etc removed for free or at reduced price, they will be far less likely to dump it in communal ateas around them. Here is the email for residents to book the service :

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/bins-and-recycling/rubbish-and-recycling/bulky-household-waste-collections

We think that RBKC seriously needs to keep an eye of blocks and estates that are regularly used as rubbish dumps and to please keep our corridors, stairways and fire exits free of the mess. We ask for more cleaners and a named caretaker and contact number – which many residents, including one of us, do not have.

We also ask the council to please , partly because of fire safety and also because of the risk of Covid-19, to ensure that other residents also remove their personal belongings from corridors and hallways – some corridors and landings are only a few feet wide after all .

Whatever happens to our cleaning services, we need more of them and for the council to please ensure that the communal areas of our homes are kept clean and safe.

IMPORTANT: One day left to have your say on controversial Government Planning White Paper

Robert Jenrick as “Bob The Bodger”

Tomorrow, Thursday the 29th of October at 11:45pm, is the deadline for public responses to the Government’s controversial to say the least, Planning White Paper.

Read it in full at this link here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future

And respond to the survey and make your comments via this link here:

https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/MHCLG-Planning-for-the-Future/

Or email in your own words here:

planningforthefuture@communities.gov.uk

Yes, it is very long, but we cannot state enough the importance of responding; because this is set to be the biggest shake-up of planning policy in England since the 1940s , and will essentially fast track developments and leave both residents and local authorities with far less input and scrutiny.

We are also concerned that this could put some of our localities that are not in conservation areas, our social housing (especially blocks and estates owned by housing associations – likely in our view to be redeveloped to provide so-called “affordable” housing instead of for social rent) , green spaces and play areas at risk, as well as compromising the wellbeing of many of our residents.

Our local planning system is not perfect – indeed far from it, but THINK are deeply concerned about some of the proposed measures bypassing local democracy and that our communities will lose what little say we have in which developments get approved.

It hasn’t been nicknamed the “Developer’s Charter” for nothing….

We have already responded and will be sharing our responses on this blog.

The response from the London Tenants Federation can be foumd here:

Planning for the Future: London Tenants Federation Draft Consultation Response

We strongly urge all our readers who are residemts here in England who to set aside an hour of your time to read the White Paper and respond.

Have your say while you still can

Here, just to give an indication as to how serious this is, are a few things from the consultation paper that we have highlighted:

City Hall and Property PR firms: Too close for comfort

Front: Jules Pipe , Back l to r Nivk Kilby (Cratus) Sir Merrick Cockell (Cratus) Donal Mulryan (Rockwell) & Jason Kow (Queensgate)

This blog is no stranger to posting about property PR firms, developers , and their worryingly close relationships to our authorities..

See our London Trilogy from 2018 (and yes, a follow up series of posts are coming soon) :

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/

And see our previous posts about Cratus :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/cockell-and-his-connections-are-still-wreaking-havoc-all-around-the-rotten-borough/

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/cratus-communications-creeping-out-from-under-the-curtains/

Well it is no sectret that Rockwell Property (the developers together with Queensgate Investments , who are behind the redevelopment plans for the Holiday Inm Forum Hotel in Cromwell Road) are clients of Cratus.

Tomorrow at the hearing, it will be one of Sadiq Khan’s Deputy Mayors, Jules Pipe making the decision.

But we do not think it is right or fair that Jules Pipe is making the decision, especially since we have heard about his associations with Cratus , – last month on September the 3rd, he hosted a webinar for them.

This is supposed to be a democratic and fair process? Really?

It does from reading the papers, look like City Hall will override our democracy and approve this monstrosity….

Our readers can see the papers and tune in at 1:30pm tomorrow on tbis link:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings/kensington-forum-hotel-public-hearing

And of course, there is another property PR firm that have been used by Rockwell and that is Terrapin Communications.

Here again, is Peter Bingle of Terrapin Communications getting cosy with Sadiq Khan:

As said before, we totally fail to see the point in having a London Mayor and GLA if it is developers who are really the ones pulling the strings.

We say it’s time for Iago to go-go (and for other useless suits to stop hanging round like yo-yos)

Not content with failing to consult the RBKC TCC Homes Group over the proposed changes to tenancy agreements, failing to notify their representative of meetings and failing to let most eligible residents know about the existence of the TCC anyway, as reported here useless supposed Head of Resident Engagement Iago Griffith
has messed up again.

Yesterday, the TCC RA Group ended in utter chaos because Griffith had failed to circulate the papers.

Here is what a resident has commented : “On the 20th of October, Iago Griffith (Head of Resident Engagement and Partnerships, Housing Management) showed contempt for the residents he is employed to serve. Not providing papers in advance of the meeting prompted a resident coup to shut it down.

Non respect and failure to comply with their own code of conduct and time scales were brought up, just as Iago started to spell our participants’ code of conduct over Zoom.

After 45 minutes of toing amd froing, RBKC trying to save face and keep a pointless doomed meeting alive, Doug Goldring closed it, making repeated apologies for ‘wasting residents’ time’.

A worrying lack of senior leadership is obvious, how many are getting away with it whilst drawing from RBKC?

Iago’s next job could be in ? (He just doesn’t know it yet) “

Another resident commented: “It was a complete sh**show. Hardly anyone had the new tenancy documents or the new parking restrictions, so the meeting collapsed. We spent half an hour trying to get a new date”

Well, tomorrow at 6pm, there will be the TCC Homes Group meeting – and some residents in that group did not receive the tenancy documents either (which they were denied from having a say in) or indeed anything else. Many have not received any notification at all of the meeting.

Anyhow, many thanks to other helpful residents and no thanks at all to Iago, we now have the documents and they are at the bottom of this post, along with the Zoom link – for anyone who is in RBKC Housing and not in an RA – to join the meeting at 6pm tomorrow – Thursday October the 22nd

We note from the minutes in July that he was supposed to send out invites to all eligible residents to join the TCC Homes Group; well he obviously didn’t bother….

Maybe Iago’s priorities are somewhere else and he just “forgot”?

Ordinary residents are doing a much better job of communicating and informing than “Inepto” and others who are being paid for this. If Iago doesn’t have a hangover from the gin; many irate residents will certainly be giving him a sore head.

THINK say enough is enough and it is time for Iago Griffith to resign. But we don’t think he happens to be the only incompetent suit around ….

We will be on the case to find out just how many other suits are just like him and appear to be paid for incompetence and/or doing nothing and name and shame .

THINK are not going to let the matter of this lie as these people should not be paid our public money to just lie around and let us down.

Here is the Zoom link for tomorrow’s meeting:

https://zoom.us/j/91319453033

And the papers for tomorrow’s TCC Homes meeting are below:

Stop The Towers at Cromwell Road, plus RBKC Planning Committee takes a break from the norm

In the Summer of 2018, residents and campaigners living south of Kensington alerted us to the plans to redevelop the Holiday Inn Forum Hotel in Cromwell Road, South Kensington and we heard a number of concerns raised – both from residents in the immediate area affected. and others from nearby.

Residents whose lives would be blighted and who would suffer from severe loss of light, disruption, long lasting negative changes to the locality as a result of this scheme, and increased levels of pollution, were the Mayor to permit this proposed monstrosity .put their cases and they have our full support in their fight to stop this.

This “South Kensington saga” continues and a number of changes have taken place (and not largely changes for the better) to the scheme and the decision making process and we thought we would fill our readers in as to what has been happening since then.

At the end of last month at the RBKC Planning Committee there was quite a departure from the usual meetings of Committee members deciding to approve or reject applications; instead the committee members were deciding on what representations to make to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan over the controversial – to say the least – plans — the hearing is in just under two days.

Unwelcome guests

Unfortunately the developers are determined to get their way, and as we previously predicted, have fought to get this through and Sadiq Khan appears to be in their side, and he has interfered in what ought to have been a matter for the RBKC Planning Committee. So now the final decision over the scheme rests with him.

Anyone wondering what the possible motivations of Mayor Khan could be for favouring these hotel plans, interfering and continuing to override council decisions and the vast majority of residents may wish to see this post of ours :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/saga-of-the-mayor-of-london-and-the-tower-of-mordor/

Checking in

Here, first of all, is a timeline of what has happened so far:

– In the Summer of 2018, residents and campaigners living south of Kensington alerted us to the plans to redevelop the Holiday Inn Forum in Cromwell Road, and we heard a number of concerns raised – both from residents in the immediate area affected. and others from nearby. THINKers went to two residents’ meetings, one, on the 8th of August 2018, at St Mary the Boltons, which we posted ahead of to here and another, on the organised by ACGRA (Ashburn and Courtfield Gardens Residents Association) and the Stop The Towers campaign at Baden-Powell House on the 7th Sepember 2018 . We saw that on both meetings, local residents were unanimously opposed to the scheme.

– On the 27th of September 2018, the RBKC Planning Committee refused the initial application. We posted ahead of the meeting here – “Judgement Day is also here for South Kensington and the Holiday Inn Forum” ( with details of the original plans included in link in the blog post) , and we reported the meeting a few days later in tbis post: “Some good news for South Kensington residents – Holiday Inn Form redevelopment plans rejected”

– On the 5th of November 2018, London Mayor Sadiq Khan issued a direction under Section 7 of the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of Lomdon) Order 2008 that he would take over the application and act as the Local Planning Authority for the purposes of determining the planning application.

– On the 14th of December 2018, RBKC filed a claim for a Judicial Review seeking to quash the Mayor’s decision on the basis that the GLA Officer’s report, recommending the Direction, had erred in its calcultion of performance against housing targets.

– On the 19th of March 2019, the mayor filed a consent order agreeing that the Direction of the 5th of November 2018 should be quashed and this was approved the following month

– On the 21st of June 2019, there was a public representation hearing at CIty Hall and the Mayor granted planning permission , issuing the decision on the same day.

– RBKC filed another claim for a Judicial Review, the consequmeces of which were the Mayor eventually filed a Consent Order, on the basis that the decision to grant planning permission was made for an improper purpose.

On the 13th of March 2020, the High Court approved the Consent Order. The Mayor must now redetermine the application and is consulting on the application again given the passage of time and changes to the development plan and the submission of updated documents by the applicant to address these changes of policy .

(The scheme consists of three buildings – two of which would be towers – one at 30 storeys high and the other at 22 storeys.)

Housekeeping

The five members of the Planning committee sitting were : Cllr James Husband (Conservative, Abingdon Ward) – Chair, Cllr Charles O’ Connor – Deputy Chair (Conservative, Holland Ward), Cllr Mo Bakhtiar (Labour, St Helens Ward), Cllr Tom Bennett (Conservative, Redcliffe Ward) and Cllr Walaa Idris (Conservative, Brompton and Hans Town Ward)

Derek Taylor, RBKC Deputy Head of Planning Management made a presentation including pictures of the existing Holiday Inn building and pictures of the proposed new development, as well as going through RBKC’s main reasons for objection,

“The task this evening is to reaffirm the position of the council as a key consultee and just to remind the Mayor of the updated objections that the council has to the proposals” –

Which are:

– The height and massing of the proposed development, including an additional tower,would cause more than substantial harm to the character and appearance of nearby heritage assets, especially in nearby views. The elevational treatments would be of an insufficiently high design quslity to have a wholly postive impact on the character and quality of the townscape, and the relavant tests for tall buildings in the Building Height SPD have not been undertaken. The benefits of the development would not outweigh these harms. The proposal is therefore contrary to Local Plan policies CL1, CL2, CL3, CL4, CL11 and CL12 and the Building Height in the (Royal Borough) SPD.

– The revisions secured by the GLA subsequent to taking over the application in April 2019 worsen the negative impacts of the proposal and weaken the design rationale for the original development.

– The public benefits are insufficient to outweigh the harms caused to the character and appeaance of nearby heritage assets, and character and quality of the townscape

– The changes to the policy environment and guidance since the last consideration of the proposals in June 2019 do not fundamentally alter the council’s original position that this development fails to comply with the development plan.

– There are no material considerations that indicate a decision should be made otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.

All inclusive

Complete agreement between different political parties in RBKC is a real rarity, but these proposals have united all sides of the political spectrum locally in their opposition to them..The scheme has had cross party oppostion from local Courtfield councillors and other Conservative councillors, through to the RBKC Leadership, Labour councillors and also Lib Dem Cllr Linda Wade. Former Kensington Labour MP Emma Dent Coad opposed the scheme and present Kensington Conservative MP Felicity Buchan has objected to it.

Here are just a few of those initial objections to the proposals :

Cllr Janet EvansCourtfield Ward Proposals too ambitious for Courtfield Ward and have will intolerable environmental impact for residents, including air and noise pollution, overlooking privacy and increased traffic congestion. Proposals should be built within parameters of the present site and offer other added benefits to the surrounding area. Object to the addition of another tower on site and further constraints on infrastructure.

Queen’s Gate Ward councillorsCllr Maxwell Woodger , Cllr Max Chauhan and Cllr Matthew Palmer: Object to height and scale; its harm to existing local architecture and does not meet Local Plan policy.

Emma Dent Coad: Object to height, bulk and massing and its impact on the skyline; impact on the transport infrastructure; impact of demolition amd construction impacts; impact on conservation areas; does not accord with London Plan and Local Plan policy.

Cllr Charles Williams – Redcliffe Ward: Proposals by being larger than the existing building fail to comply with local building heights policy

Kensington and Chelsea Liberal Democrats: Proposals are contrary to the Local Plan, are out of scale with the local area, could put off visitors, likely to increase air and noise pollution

Cllr Greg Hammond – Courtfield Ward: Object to replacement of one tall building with a taller bulkier structure; increased height would loom over conservation areas; fire risk and safety concerns; object to massing; is a lost oppotunity to redevelop the site for more housing and object to separate residential entrances; access arrangements; strongly support proposed garden square; support public realm improvements although require further details; water and drainage infrastructure concerns.

The vast majority of residents also share this oppositon to the towers. the local Local resident and conservation groups who objected included: Ashburn and Courtfield Gardens Residents Association (ACGRA), The Kensington Society, Cornwall Gardens Residents Association, Nevern Square Conservation Area Residents Association, The Boltons Garden Enclosure Committee, South Kensington and Queen’s Gate Residents Association, Earl’s Court Gardens and Morton Mews Residents Association, Orpen House Residemts Association, Kempsford Gardens Residents Association, Earl’s Court Society, Cornwall Mews South (West side) Residents Association, The Boltons Association, Victoria Road Area Residents Association, Grenville Place, Southwell Gardens and St Stephens Walk Residents Association, Courtfield Gardens West Garden Committee, Onslow Neighbourhood Association, Thurloe Owners and Leaseholders Association, Cromwell Mansions Residents Association, Elm Park and Chelsea Park Residemts Association, The Chelsea Society, Ashburn Garden Square Garden Association, Courtfield Gardens East Garden Committee, Princes Gate Mews Residents Association.

Star rating

The current Holiday Inn Hotel on the site has a four star rating but we would give these plans for the hideous new supposed “luxury” Kensington Forum Hotel a 0 star rating if we could….

However, the “stars of the show” were the people who spoke at the meeting to air their objections and points to the Committee:

🌟 Greg Hammond is a Conservative councillor for Courtfield Ward, where the hotel is located: “I don’t think that any of us, whether the ward councillors, the residents or colleagues who were on the Planning Committee at the time will actually forget the meeting two years ago when the Committee voted to refuse what planning permission to what one of our colleagues poetically called ‘the twin towers of Mordor’

That decision to refuse was the right one, but we were all dismayed when the Mayor of London overrode our local democracy amd tried to ram the proposal through in a second attempt. Thanks to the council, for twice taking the decision to a Judicial Review and won both times, but unfortunately we do face this third attack by the Mayor.

The report presented by the council officers is in my view the right strategy for the Mayoral hearing on the 22nd of October. The reason for refusal in the first place were the harms that would be cause by the excessive height and mass of the proposed buildings to the adjacent conservation area that we all value so much. These harms would be made worse by the amendments thay have been made to the proposal since 2018 in increasing the Courtfield Road end of the development by two storeys.

In addition, as the officers mentioned, RBKC now has a good story to tell on affordable housing – in fact much better than at the time of the last Mayoral hearing and as we’ve heard, if an increase in hotel rooms becomes an argument, then not only the one in Notting Hill mentioned, but also the Harrington Hall Hotel is about to come back online with 201 bedrooms after many years of vacancy.

So in sum, the officers paper that we’ve heard Mr Taylor set out, sets out the arguments that we should present as a borough on the 22nd of October in much more detail than I could do in two minutes. I fully support that paper and I fully recommend it for adoption by the Committee and I’m also asked to say that the Ashburn and Courtfield Gardens Residents Association also supports that paper”.

🌟Michael Bach from the Kensington Society:”We’re not an objector, we strongly support the (RBKC) report but have made some positive suggestions for enhancing that report. The question of the affordable housing delivery was crucial as far as the Mayor was concerned, and he certainly lambasted the council, because its past immediate record was very small, but I think the report should go further then it has done and recognise that the council actually has got a program of affordable housing units, in addition to the ones that have been granted planning permission already.

With regards to the scale and location new hotel accommodation, this is a very intensely developed area as far as hotels are concerned, and the London Plan as intended to be published, recognises that in areas of high concentrations, further intensification is not necessarily a good idea.

You’ve (RBKC) dealt with the employment, its over-estimate; what you haven’t dealt with is that our grouping of residents’ associations has undertaken a townscape study which has really criticised the attempts by the applicant to say it really doesn’t have much impact – you’ve seen the diagram so you’ll understand.

We are concerned about the treatment of children’s play space on the tenth floor – in other words the roof – of the housing.

What we want really is for the comments of the addendum report to be fully reflected in the decision of the letter, because its not just the comments in the addendum report that need to be fully substantiated. So we’re hoping that will happen and we’re looking forward to seeing it.

The council’s case must be strong, challenging and must look forward ahead to a potential public inquiry.”

🌟 Laure – resident from Earl’s Court: “I just want to add five more points and suggestions to your report. The first one is the consideration of traffic management of this project given the number of beds and service apartments. At the moment if we’re looking at what is planned for that the number of parking bays allow for about 6 cars and 3 buses and I don’t think it’s sufficient for an events space that can host 1,500 people, which will result in cars idling in the street and disrupting traffic with a wide impact of the community.

The second point is relating to the air quality in this area – it’s one of the most polluted in London wbich actually exceeds the legal limits im terms of air polllution, and I’m just surprised that any increase in traffic and any pollution can be considered as negligible, which is what the applicants have stated.

The third point is that any health impacts have been omitted from the assessment, so physical health and mental health are not accounted for, which means the cost on health is assumed to be zero.

The fourth point is relating to all the net zero guidance from the Mayor for any new builds and I believe this new project is not net zero.

And finally the last point is related to the health and economy crisis that we are facing and we know that the forecast in terms of the number of beds have been revised and significantly reduced; so a lot of people believe that these changes are permanent , people have changed the way they work from home and the way they travel and these impacts are likely to last for decades.”

🌟 Kevin Christensen – Courtfield resident: “How much, if any consideration, has been given to the effect a 1,500 person conference centre will have on the neighbourhood? This is a looming disastrous problem that will include crime, crowd, prostitution, rubbish, traffic disorderly conduct, damage to the conservation and a general strain on the neighbourhood and I suspect it has not beem addressed at all. I work in the meetings and events industry and I can assure the impact will be a disaster”.

🌟 Craig Crawford – resident: “Has the impact of the restricted capacity of South Kensington tube station due to its planned refurbishment, been considered to the Gloucester Road tube station during the proposed Kensington Forum Hotel redevelopment?”

Room service

Then it was time for Committee Members to ask questions and make points:

Cllr Mo Bakhtiar (to Michael Bach) : “What would you like to add to the letter to the report on the representation if you could be specific? What have we missed ?”

Michael Bach: “Well all the things that were in our representation on this we’d like to see explained rather than just – I think the addendum report contains a comment we have put forward, but now I suppose we’re looking to the council to take ownership of the issue and to express it strongly in the letter they send to the GLA . So it’s got to look like it’s coming from the council rather than the residents and it’s got to be forceful because this really counts’

Cllr Walaa Idris (to Derek Taylor):”Two points: the first one is what is the Mayor’s criteria on playgrounds for children? Does he have any specific criteria where they should be, how high they should be, how big or is it just having playgrounds scattered everywhere?”

Derek Taylor: “Well essentially the Mayor’s criteria are quite high criteria because in the Mayor’s own SPD, the Mayor talks about provision of high quality for children’s playspace and similarly to our own policy in our own Local Plan, I dont think anyone is really envisaging a high quality playspace as being on the 10th floor of a building.

I mean there are buildings in many countries and other parts of London that do have high level playspaces but that’s normally because in that’s the only solution. An interesting way to look at it is that our policy in the Local Plan relating to play space is also in the same part of the plan that deals with open spaces and gardens and I think that is that the message is very clear that a high quality play space is not a hard space on top of a building but should actually be a ground level space, something much more amenable than a hard space at that height”.

Cllr Idris: “My second question is on fire safety. What is the Mayor’s position on that? Does he have criteria? Or is it just kind of understood as opposed to being a specific item by itself? ”

Mr Taylor: “Well, in terms of fire safety, the Mayor has basically set out to address the Mayor’s own policy – which is policy D12 of the London Plan – that didn’t exist at the time the Mayor considsred this originally, but is now part of the intended to publish Lomdon Plan. D12 is a slightly curious planning policy, in the sense that it does rather overlap with the buulding regulations.

As you’ll be aware, the primary suit of framework for dealing with fire safety requirements are the building regulations, and they’ve obviously been beefed up significantly since the Grenfell fire and may be further expanded of course

Policy D12 does overlap with that but it also by definition as being part of the development plan, it then brings fire safety into the whole sphere of planning as well and how it would apply is that the Mayor needs to require a fire statement, which basiclaly explains everything to do with the physical structure ands its resistance in terms of fire, it needs to explain the layout of the building and how people would be safe within it and means of escape.

The fire statement brings all of those things together in one document and one hasn’t been prepared here yet, but part of the council’s position should be clearly that a fire statement should be prepared and needs to be scrutinised fully by the Mayor.”

Cllr Tom Bennett referred back to Cllr Hammond’s point on hotel rooms, Notting Hill Gate and the Harrington Hall Hotel . Cllr James Husband also pointed out that , RBKC had also approved a hotel in Pavilion Road as well.

Cllr Charles O’Connor asked about the hearing and whether the council just sends representations or if a council representative can speak at the hearing as well and Derek Taylor said that as a key consultee, the council can do both.

Checkout time

We know that some officers at City Hall do read this blog so we’ll just end with a few points of our own and respond to a few queries and points that others have made in the hope that Sadiq Khan sees this:

Some people have written to us and pointed out that other parts of London have barely raised an eyebrow to such large scale developments being permitted elsewhere

Well we have to say that just because some other local authorities do not raise too many objections to having their neighbourhoods filled with lots of tower blocks; that doesn’t make it right or acceptable – and what is also completely unacceptable is the noise, disruption and increased pollution that residents would face if this were to be permitted.

We especially thank the Stop The Towers campaigners and many of the the residents from ACGRA who first opened our eyes to what was going on back in 2018. Some of these residents would also face being shrouded in darkness and a complete loss of privacy as well as peace and quiet were this plan to be approved.

Yes, the existing Holiday Inn building dominates the skyline there and doesn’t exactly have too many fans of it.

But have a look at these pictures to show how much worse things could be with its proposed replacement dominating the streetscape as well as the skyline from all directions :

We support more social housing – and yes the “62 units of affordable housing” would be for social rent (and we would also like to see more social housing provided in this part of the borough and not just North Kensington), but developers Queensgate Investments and Rockwell Property are determined that this would come at a price – and that particular price appears to be the ruination and detriment of the streetcape and skyline of the South Kensington area and the wellbeing of its residents, because they are determined to get their supersized hotel and conference centre.

Also, given the Covid-19 pandemic , do we really need too many more hotel rooms and luxury serviced apartments? After all we’re hardly expecting a huge influx of tourists to come here anytime soon, and it is impossible to predict what could happen in these unprecendented times, which calls into question the particular target figures.

But if we do look forward past the pandemic, it is worth remembering that what attracts tourists to this area of our borough besides location in town and transport , are heritage assets, history, character and beauty – all of which would be substantially diminished were this to go ahead. Let’s be honest here; it’s an ugly inferior building design. If it belongs anywhere other than the bin, it would be a dull and depressed suburb or dead end town.

If this is supposed to be a luxury hotel, the design certainly does not say “luxury” – designed with care and consideration in looking that extra bit special . Instead it says “pile ’em in and push it through ” and that too, is part of the problem. This scheme has lack of care and consideration written all over it – for the surrounding area and environment, for the local community, for children , – and apart from the social housing which the developers threw in to get this past the Mayor, considers very little other than the huge potential profits to be made out of this hotel site in (what used to be before Covid-19) an area with a high influx of visitors.

There are many occasions on which we do have our disagreements with the council of course , but this time they do have it right – this scheme is wrong and the height, density, and mass of the proposed development is unacceptable in the eyes of local residents , to our local political representatives, and to us.

Whatever opinion Sadiq Khan (or anyone else for that matter) may have of RBKC, it is not right or fair to people living here for him to play either party political or developer-led games with a scheme that would blight residents’ lives and change South Kensington and the borough as a whole for the worse.

The council’s representations

were submitted a day after the meeting and residents will know the good or bad news when the Mayor decides this Thursday, 22nd of October at 1:30pm. Our readers can view the papers and also

tune in live via this link:

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/planning-applications-and-decisions/public-hearings/kensington-forum-hotel-public-hearing

All animals are equal but some animals are STILL more equal than others down on the TCC “Animal Farm”

Down on the farm with Anne, Kim, Iago & Doug


Back  in December 2017  we posted about the TCC (Tenants Consultative Committee) here:  

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/rbkc-and-tmo-all-animals-are-equal-but-some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others/

The result of  the visit to the meeting from us and a few others who had been left out was that the TCC “Homes” group for residents  without RAs was set up .


Much more recently RBKC have been consulting  resident members of the TCC  over proposed changes to tenancy agreements –  but they have ONLY consulted with members of the TCC RA group  (others might as well not exist as far as this council is concerned)  A representative of the TCC Homes Group Bruno has told us that he wasn’t even notified of meetings.

RBKC resident engagement officer Iago Griffith, has claimed that this was because of a “spreadsheet mistake” – ludicrous.

So for ALL residents in RBKC council homes, here are the proposed changes to tenancy agreements  (that most residents  were not consulted about )

















Noted is the absence of  any conditions upon housing staff to keep full case records  – which  we have previously  reported  that  some are failing to do::

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/04/29/the-rbkc-tmo-bermuda-triangle-of-missing-case-files-and-housing-records/





We also note  from this , below, that they aren’t consulting residents  (well, the few residents they bother to consult with anyway)  about increases to rents and service charges:

Links here:
Windows and double glazing 25-9-20 now 15-10-20

Service for drainage & pipes, gully cleaning  16-10-20

– Resident Involvement Sttategy 19-10-20 now 9-12-20

– Scaffolding/Mobile towers 20-11-20

– Heat & smoke detectors 2nd decision 11-11-20

– Sustainability & fuel poverty 11-11-20

– CCTV 11-11-20 Compatibility?

– Tenancy agreements variation 8-12-20

But if members of the TCC Homes   group may be feeling like second class citizens, there are others who are  left even further down what our council appears to think is  some sort of a “pecking order”, and those are the residents who  unaware that the TCC even exists.


Some might say that the TCC Homes Group is very small, but there is a reason for this:
We did ask before as to why RBKC has not invited any other residents to join but we got no answer from them. The simple answers are firstly because Iago (who seems to only ever communicate with a small handful of people in RAs anyway) cannot be bothered, RBKC seem  to have taken have taken the rather arrogant assumption that people who haven’t sought out the council  do not want to get involved , and lastly  that they would rather not really give the oppotunity to most residents to put their points and suggestions across anyway.


Because otherwise why have they have still failed to include all residents fairly ? There are no other answers.  Well we’re sadly not exactly unfamilar with   RBKC not wanting residents to have their say….

THINK  could send something out to all the addresses  but then we would  likely be in breach of the Data Protection Act if we did  – so we can’t.
But  we ‘re going to  try to live up to our acronym and here instead are  
a  couple of  blocks of  council flats in Notting Dale Ward around the corner from Grenfell, that do not appear to be  included :


Foreland House, Walmer Road


Allom House & Barlow House- Clarendon Road & Walmer Road


If residents  aren’t interested,  fine – but they should be aware that the TCC exists and be invited and have that choice of whether to get involved or not in the first place.


So for failing to  include, consult  and engage with all residents properly, for causing divisions and tension  between residents  and for telling porky pies to Bruno by way of some excuse for not inviting him to meetings, THINK  proudly present Iago Griffith with a very richly deserved Piglet-Pie Award:





Setiously? A resident engagement officer who can’t or won’t engage with residents properly?



But there have been  other matters going on at the TCC too…..

At the last  TCC RA meeting, a residents’ survey from Grenfell United about satisfaction (or not)  with council housing  services  was presented by Kim Taylor-Smith and   Doug Goldring.

Some RAs have expressed concerns about this and as to why Grenfell United, who have no mandate to provide council services are undertaking tbis, why this was presented by RBKC  And believe that  is a matter to be needs to be scrutinised   by the Housing and Communities Committee.



Also , we have to point out  the Grenfell United survey was just for RAs. It does have to be asked why  the views of ALL residents  in RBKC social housing do not  matter according to some?

Look, we are friends and supporters of Grenfell United but we have to say that we are very disappointed and sad about this, especially considering that some were excluded from council processes regarding housing  in times past but  now happening to be, even if not deliberately so , in the act of excluding others.

We also agree with the RAs  that this is a matter for scrutiny if the council are presenting it, and our housing services – that many of us especially in the north of the borough are less than satisfied with (it’s like the TMO are still here)  – need to be subject to further council scrutiny.


We accept that the immediate  thoughts of Grenfell United may be obviously  elsewhere with the Inquiry (have a look at today’s shocking revelations here:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/19/grenfell-tower-project-manager-admits-binning-notebooks )

So we will therefore not be pointing fingers at them for this.
It is RBKC who we feel very angry with –  the whole thing;  exclusion of residents from processes and meetings, the dishonesty, and causing divisions in our community – it is they who are ultimately to blame.

We also call for Iago Griffith to resign  He might want to leave anyway, because after reading this, there will be more than just  a few residents ready to make mincemeat – or indeed pork pies – out of him.

We also have to say that Doug Goldring knew ages ago that a number of residents without RAs were dissatisfied because of being  excluded – but he is likely  preoccupied  with other housing issues –  he is at least doing other  things (yes we will post further  soon)  which is why he  not getting an award this time – and let’s hope it’s not because he doesn’t care.


Please RBKC , stop paying for  resident engagement suits who fail to engage with residents, and please lets ensure our  housing services  and staff are subject to proper full and fair  scrutiny.

There is supposed to be a TCC Homes online meeting this Thursday  evening but we will not bother if it is only there to exist as a mere  talking shop. This council has insulted the intelligence of both some of us and the other residents in that group if they ever  thought we would accept this.

Sometimes whenever we feel RBKC is making progress on housing,   there is usually another matter of concern or failure that casts a bad shadow over it all  and it  feels like one step forward and two steps back. 




 

Grenfell and our community: 3 years and 4 months on (and some words from us)

Warning: This blog post contains references to Grenfell, descriptions of trauma and grief and may be distressing for some to read.

Yesterday, the 14th of October was 3 years and 4 months since our community lost 72 residents in the fire at Grenfell Tower. Sometimes silence speaks volumes, but yesterday the Grenfell Silent Walk was cancelled, so this THINKer did their own private Silent Walk around North Kensington and Ladbroke Grove late last night.


Now it is time for us to have a few words:

Last weekend, some of us were party to a very unpleasant social media row with some sections of our community lashing out at each other. This was highly upsetting for us, not least because a few of the accusations were groundless and some were very discriminatory against some others. We were shocked, but we will not further discuss exactly what we saw or heard some say.

Instead, we point out North Kensington has long been a mixed multicultural comnunity and most of us residents, regardless of ethnicity, skin colour, cultural background , have long lived together, mostly in unity.

Residents of North Kensington, have however, bren in the past, ignored, treated badly and yes, at times, discriminated against – and that has been the experience of many people in social housing, by people in community groups – and particularly felt by various black, mixed and other non-white residents.

However, these people making the remarks that we refer to specifically here, had also in the past, experienced some similar discrimination themselves from some of those in charge of us, whose actions in exhibiting deep prejudices resulted in disrepect of and neglect of people of various ethnicities and cultural and community groups locally.

So we will say to the few people who shocked us with some discriminatory comments and the row on WhatsApp at the weekend, we do not think they all meant to offend,- but upset and offend some others they did. If some are still feeling neglected and that the authorities are still not listening, please, please make your volce heard positively and not by lashing out at others whom you may feel have been favoured above you .. We are mostly residents of North Kensington or nearby and it is wrong to blame someone else or other groups (some of whom have faced real levels of discrimination themselves) for being ignored. Please point fingers in the right direction and let’s supoort and encourage others positively. As Joe Delaney says ; “punch upwards and not sideways”.

We can never forget what the neglect of our comnunity resulted in – the worst possible outcome – Grenfell. We cannot allow anyrhing ever like this to happen again, we must support each other; and we have to say thay if people are too busy infighting, they could taking their own and others’ attention (such as ours) from other serious matters, or else from doing postive and meaningful activities in and around the community and prevent efforts from some of us to hold people who were partly responsible for some of the situations those who are suffering find themselves in, to account..

The vast majority of us in North Kensington can firmly agree (even some of those on his own side) that we do not want the likes of another Rock Feilding-Mellen and his ideas, policies and ignorance of our community back ever again.


Next we are going to talk very briefly about the Inquiry – or rather the effects of some of the revelations that have come out of it, and for some, reliving Grenfell, the former administration at RBKC and KCTMO – the effect of this on people’s mental wellbeing

Maybe some of the people who made comments and accusations agaimst others we referred to earlier were not feeling well? So we will not name and shame and say where exactly these came from. But THINKers were left very shaken by seeing and hearing some of the exchanges.

Personally speaking, for some of us, sleep deprivation and night terrors that we had hoped some time back were gone have returned and many others have felt the same. Others with long-term mental health conditioms have seen them return.

This will go on and take a further toll on some. We must be mindful of ourselves, family, friends and others in the community around us. Sometimes its fine to sit things out or take some time off. Some who may not be in their right minds may behave strangely. Support them, see if they need anything and do not hurt or push them away.

Also some people will want to talk about Grenfell and others will not. Sometimes it’s important to stop pushing discussion when some are not in the mind for it.

Some will want to discuss the Inquiry, RBKC and the TMO and others not at all – and some, like us, feel both ways at different times.

Of course, conversations are not always like our blog posts, that people can either take or leave, choose to read or not. But this is a real problem on social media.

Most of our blog social media is still out of order and we have no immediate desire to get it back working again very soon. This THINKer greatly misses all her friends on there, but cannot handle being drawn into discussions that will cause upset or further trauma at times.

Also social media exchanges with strangers who are unfamilar with our community can be very draining; especially when there are a number of trolls who appear to delight in upsetting and causing offence to those of us affected by Grenfell. We do not encourage too much use of Twitter and Facebook and chat groups that do not include friemds and acquaintances for that reason, though obviously Covid-19 and socially isolating and distancing does push people to lean on social media more.

We ask others who are largely unfamilar with North Kensington and Grenfell to be mindful of our community and our suffering and trauma and to please think very carefully about posting and the potential implications of hurtful or ignorant posts and trolling affected people . We recommend that these people follow what has happemed at the Grenfell Inquiry, read related articles and blog posts about Grenfell which come from the community and those who know us, and listen to what the survivors, the bereaved and North Kensington affected residents have to say very carefully before approaching our traumatised residents and their friends and relatives on these forums.


Now in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, we very likely face further lockdown measures in London . This has already been an extremely stressful time for most; for those who are ill or clinically vulnerable; for those who are anxious about Coronavirus itself and possibility of getting it; for those who helping the vulnerable and ill; for those who are mentally ill; for those who are alone; for those who miss their family and friends and are worried for their wellbeing; for those who are financially struggling; for those in small businesses and the self employed who face unprecedented financial hardship; and of course for all of us in North Kensington and nearby who are already going through a very tough time.

There is lots in media and public discussion about looking out for vulnerable groups, and that is important, but we do have to mention that not everyone who is suffering will show it, will reach out or will readily accept help, and also that offering general prescriptive “one size.fits all” advice and help , is not necessarily the right or appropriate thing for everyone and can be taken badly in some cases. Sometimes all someone might need is a comfortable chat with friends or family and to feel some sense of reassurance.

The other thing we will mention is that while many will be looking out for the old and the young, sadly many of the people who get completely forgotten about are middle aged people – and sadly a number of local residents who have tragically taken their own lives have been in their 40s or 50s.

So we think its important to consider EVERYONE and will also look for the people that we are not seeing or hearing from.

It’s good to remember that while we are all different, in North Kensington, this wonderful diverse and vibrant community, many of us here do still feel that there is more that unites us than divides us.

There are tough times ahead, but hopefully we can get through this together.


Finally, regarding Grenfell and something else that upset us recently and our thoughts on this. Next to some Grenfell graffiti, Malton Road, just off Ladbroke Grove, (by the Westway and near the Sainsbury’s) some insensitive and ignorant person or persons has graffitied “Move on”

Honestly we would like to tell this person or persons to “move on” and out of here if they cannot show some consideration and empathy for the community around them, but instead we will try to explain :

Unfortunately we are familiar with a few people (mostly not from our locality) saying this as well as “get over it” .

For those who are fortunate to not know,: “Losing a family member, spouse, neighbour or friend in such circumstances is not some short-term flimsy relationship break-up that people “get over” or have to let go to “move on” – you do not with grief – you “move through” stages and feelings but never forget and neither should you.

Losing a close relative or spouse to some often feels like a part of you is missing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with holding on to fond and treasured memories and keeping thse memories alive. These memories are part of who some of us are.

Now, imagine losing your home, your family, your friends, your neighbours far too early in this sudden entirely preventable disaster that should never ever have happened. Imagine seeing this happen, the fire and/or the aftermath right in front of you, where you live. Bad memories like this are sadly part of who some of us are; they have shaped how some of us see things, so saying “let go” or “get over it” will not stop people feeling like this – in fact it makes it worse.

For most this would be imagining the unimaginable , but this is what many locals have gone and are going through; this is the reality of our situation.

Time is a healer and people do recover from raw trauma and grief of course but some people take more time to heal than others, some are gradually moving through and are still coming to terms with this. and some feel they cannot move forward with their lives until they get answers and justice for their loved ones . “

So we ask for everyone to reflect on their actions and behaviour and thoughts, as we are doing so ourselves; we ask for the 72 innocent members of our community to be remembered and for those who do not understand to remember that we are in such a situation – as described above – and they are not.

We ask that the survivors, bereaved and the North Kensington community are respected and so too, are the memories of those who are no longer with us.

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“Guilt by Association” #1: Network Homes

Part 1 of our “Guilt by Association” series of posts on housing associations

Meet Helen Evans, she is the Chair of the G15 group (the biggest group of housing associations) and is best known as Chair of Network Homes, which is one of London’s biggest housing associations, managing over 20,000 homes and evolved from the Brent People’s Housing Association, that was formed in 1974.

Have a look at this (rather interesting) interview with her from Inside Housing:

https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/g15-chair-helen-evans-interview-there-is-definitely-a-lot-more-caution-in-boardrooms-64266

But speaking of Grenfell, we spotted a detail from her past that has been missed. Maybe some of our eagle-eyed readers will have noticed….

Let’s have a look at Helen’s LinkedIn profile:

Oh dear, it seems Ms Evans does not want people to know about this piece of info. Here is part of an old article from the Kensington and Chelsea News:

That’s right – she was Chief Executive of KCTMO until 2009 when Robert “Mr Bean” Black took over the top job (and the less said about his “shake up”: the better sometimes – that’s for other blog posts, and we’re waiting for him to stumble at the Grenfell Inquiry again – but people can read the full article here ). Note the description even back then, of the KCTMO as the “troubled housing group ” . (And of course, we all know what happened afterwards – no “improving performances” there …)

While Ms Evans can be rest assured that the timeline puts her away from questions over Grenfell, we’re not so sure that a number of her tenants and leaseholders, notably some of those being housed in the Network homes flats in Walmer Road, North Kensington, right around the corner from Grenfell, will quite feel the same degree of assurance.

But what do other Network Homes tenants and leaseholders think of their housing and services received since Ms Evans has been in charge?

Not very much at all it seems. Have a look at some of these:

There were countless bad reviews – and Network Homes do seem to have some of their officers who are well versed in PR in giving responses.

But these are genuine complaints – with some pictures – on all forns of social media – going back over 6 years. And we really hope for everyone’s sake these issues have been fixed and resolved.

And from 2014, here is an example of some of disgraceful contractor Rydon’s work with Network Homes’ properties :

We could be here all day posting the complaints and bad reviews as there are so many, but we hope that Ms Evans and her colleagues seriously reconsider using Rydon to do their work again After all, we’re living with the much more serious and fatal consequences in North Kensington of some of the work that Rydon was involved in.

In the interview, Helen Evans describes herself as a “glass half empty person” well we do wonder how the residents who have to live under these conditions are feeling?

OK to be fair, also in the interview Ms Evans does seem to acknowledge that there are building issues involved in some cases but that doesn’t make any of this acceptable.

We ‘d also like to know whether Ms Evans jumped from KCTMO eleven years ago (long before our blog was on the scene), or was pushed?

So do we think Network Homes is the worst possible example of a housing association we have come across? No , sadly we have come across far worse – but we do think there are obviously issues to do with not responding adequately to residents and the standards of works done in their properties

.We say they are “guilty” of poor response times, poor standards of work done by their contractors and of neglect of duty to the wellbeing of residents by letting them live in poor conditions – not only from these examples but also from what others have told us in confidence

The trouble is, that while successive Governments (of all parties) have neglected social housing, many residents in either housing association owned or local authority properties can expect less than acceptable conditions and standards in services. The other trouble we find is that housing associations have become like ALMOs with complicated and sometimes out of touch management structures so it is hard to get answers and accountability .. Also housing associations are not legally requited to answer Freedom of Information requests from members the public.

Some residents in RBKC have long opposed a stock transfer of council properties to housing associations and others have favoured this – we say be careful what you wish for to people in the latter category; especially considering there is more of a focus on regeneration projects, “affordable housing” and shared ownership schemes fron the housing associations these days.

Network Homes may not have such a big record in the big regeneration projects as some other HA’s like Notting Hill Genesis or L & Q, but we wouldn’t be surprised if some HA bosses and their colleagues had their eye on parts of our borough. We also know that some other London councils do sell off their smaller blocks and street properties behind closed doors too. If some of our housing stock is deemed not to be up to scratch, or too costly to repair and/or maintain, we think this is likely what could happen here.

We have been told not to “scaremonger” about regeneration by the back door before, but we have reason to believe that certain consultancy firms – such as Campbell Tickell – involved with both the past RBKC administration -and with the present KCTMO management structure are here for the purpose of stock transfers or yet another ALMO to replace the TMO – after all, that is actually the business they are in. We don’t think they just stopped by for a chat and a cup of tea.

Some residents could happen to get to know Helen or some of her G15 HA colleagues a lot better; regardless of whether they want to or not…..

Grenfell Inquiry – and (yet another) someone who really does have some questions to answer

Mark Anderson

This is Mark Anderson. He was Director of Property Services at troubled ALMO East Kent Housing, (management of which is now back in the hands of four Kent councils) .

No we haven’t relocated to Kent, but it appears that Mr Anderson has a very questionable record over housing management to say the least.

He is due to appear at the Grenfell Inquiry today as he was the former Executive Director of Assets and Housing Management at KCTMO and partly responsible for decisions made over the Grenfell Tower refurbishment, including letting the contract to Studio E

Kent campaign group Shepway Vox report on their website that

From Grenfell onwards, wherever Mark Anderson has worked:

  • Circle Housing – Oct 2013 – Apr 2015

  • East Kent Housing – July 2016 – June 2019

There have been significant issues, be they fire safety, gas safety, repairs or tenant health & safety

While at Circle, the Regulator of Social Housing handed down a regulator judgement in Feb 2015 which stated:

  • the regulator’s inquiries demonstrated that there were chronic and long standing difficulties in the delivery of the repairs service to tenants in the London area covering 13,000 homes (Circle 33 and Old Ford Housing Association). In relation to Circle 33’s 8,000 homes over a period of three months, CA report that less than 20% of urgent and emergency repairs were completed on time and elsewhere less than 50%.

The Regulator went onto say in Feb 2015:

  • Taking all these matters into account, the regulator has concluded that there has been a breach of the Home Standard which has or may cause a serious detriment to tenants.

Mark was the man responsible for statutory compliance at Circle. As such, Mark was the man responsible for repairs, fire safety, gas safety, tenant health & safety; and two months later was ushered out of the

door.

As for troubled East Kent Housing, Shepway Vox also reported last year about Anderson’s track record in housing management locally to them :

Issues of overcharging, gas safety certificates, electrical tests and asbestos issues have all contributed to his his downfall, as is clear from his responsibilities as portfolio holder. He was directly responsible for – capital works, cyclical decorations, building engineering services, estate services, planned maintenance, responsive repairs and statutory compliance functions.

According to the 2017/18 accounts his total remuneration including pension costs was £103,177. It is not yet known if Mr Anderson will receive any payout for the loss of his job

We now understand that managemnt of their housing – over 17,000 properties- has been transferred back to the four councils in Kent – Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council, Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Thanet District Council after this series of health and safety failings.

As for residents here, we will be waiting to see what Mr Anderson has to say for himself today over decisions taken when at KCTMO over Grenfell.

Sometimes the net of responsibility appears to be cast wider every time and it is difficult to see where the buck stops.

But it is beyond appalling that it takes people’s lives’ being put at risk, or worse in our case, the loss of 72 innocent residents for people to sit up, take notice and act, as well as fearless reporting and campaigning from campaign groups and residents groups and blogs- in this case Shepway Vox, and more locally to us, the Grenfell Action Group.

We also can’t help thinking about the wider questions to be asked about housing management and accountability structure, and such questions will be being asked by others elsewhere – mostly by the various people around the country whose housing is still being managed by various ALMOs.

THINK hope that issues and concerns raised by residents and staff are listened to, taken on board and acted upon, as we only know all too well, the unfortunate consequences of what happens if they are not.

Protest outside the Grenfell Inquiry tomorrow

“TM007 Licence to Kill” Poster seen in Bramley Road, North Kensington

Others struggling to cope with all the gloomy news concerning Covid-19, Lockdown, financial hardship etc, may want to spare a thought for some of us in North Kensington and all the recent revelations coming out of the Grenfell lnquiry on top of all this .

Sadly due to Covid-19 measures, most survivors and the bereaved and residents from the immediate community are not getting their chance to see in person at the Inquiry some of those individuals who were partly responsible. This is not likely to change in the present situation.

So we’re going to go and protest outside – keeping social distancing measures of course – while we still can. We want to look these people who contributed to our suffering in the eye, we want to make our voices heard and we want to stand together with others affected to show people we are still waiting for justice for the 72 and for answers and we’re not going anywhere.

Protest tomorrow Tuesday October the 13th

Fed up about all the revelations coming out of the Inquiry into the Grenfell fire?

Did you know that the TMO are on the stand this week?

Yes?

Then come and join us to protest on Tuesday lunchtime in letting those responsible know that we’re still watching, won’t go away and will be heard!

“Business as usual” for the ex-TMO Kensal Road Mafia

While KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) may only now exist an an organisation for the purpose of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and while the “big bosses” at this discredited organisation which tenants actually had little to no say in managing, may no longer be there, much of the same practices still go on – these practices being, incompetence, officiousness, rudeness, bullying, neglect and showing little to no compassion for residents.

Anyone living in most of RBKC’s council housing north of Holland Park will have noticed NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL in the personnel based at Kensal Road and their particular way of working.

That is because our council kept the same TMO officers in their jobs without question. Some of these people must be absolutely delighted that regardless of whatever happens at the Grenfell Inquiry, they can carry on as normal – this even includes some officers who themselves were also individually responsible for neglecting and/or bullying residents living in Grenfell Tower.

Maybe RBKC do not care what happens to residents under some of these officers, when they are just allowed to carry on with TMO “business as usual” which includes :

– A tenant living without water in their bathroom because officers turned off the supply and won’t either turn it back on or instruct the tenant how to

– A tenant phoning to report a leak and be told that nobody will be there for a week and to put a bucket under an 1 inch space and when told there is no room, to “get a smaller bucket”

– Case notes for various residents including the most vulnerable, lost or never kept in the first place

– Tenants not being moved immediately from homes where they have been subject to violence from another tenant (and no action taken )

– Communal areas in flats constantly being broken into by drug addicts and no help from the council to secure them and no additional measures such as CCTV provided.

– Regular breaches of residents’ data protection by housing officers – email and phone numbers being passed to other council departments without residents’ consent or knowledge

And what about the state of the properties?

Because the trouble is, how does a local authority thoroughly check their properties when most of the officers fail to keep records on ANYTHING other than rent or leasehold charges owed and start and end dates of tenancies?

Some at RBKC may not care about the wellbeing of their social housing residents, but neglecting basic needs and living conditions will not make the problems go away. In fact, neglecting their tenants, leaseholders and properties will only cost more in the long term – and that could be a very expensive mistake indeed.

Does anyone know what happened to RBKC’s supposed stock taking exercise on the condition of all council properties? Because most residents outside large estates and big blocks have seen or heard nothing of this since Doug Goldring promised residents NEARLY THREE YEARS AGO.

We recommend that if Goldring and his colleagues are still undertaking this, they contact the residents directly, as so many housing officers in the north of the borough are still in their old TMO habits of not having proper records and of being unreliable at best.

We would also like to know what Goldring and what Kim Taylor-Smith plan to do to tackle this. This blog believes that they need to have a good clear out of staff based at Kensal Road pronto and an insistence that all officers keep case files and that regular checks are made.on these.

Otherwise promises to residents in our social housing of change since Grenfell are just hollow empty words that mean nothing. But we’re not going to hold our breath… After all, they’re not the people who can only take a “shower” with a kettle and a watering can are they?