THINK Christmas Special: Deck the Town Hall with boughs of holly

As it is Christmas, we decided to compile our own naughty and nice lists of RBKC councillors and suits.

So, who has been naughty and who has been nice this year?


Matthew Palmer (Independent, Queen’s Gate Ward)

No surprises here, and now he has been kicked out of the Conservative Party and is not serving on any committees, Cllr Matthew Palmer’s sole purpose at RBKC seems to be to get money for nothing as he is simply being paid to turn up – and just sit there without contributing a single thing. Residents have also informed us that he is paid to sit on the WRWA (West Riverside Waste Authority) at Smuggler’s Way

And he does nothing there (does only introducing yourself at the start of a meeting and sitting there doing nothing really there count as “work”?)

Well, Cllr Palmer may not have much to say on waste and recycling but he certainly knows how to waste our taxpayers’ money! Unfortunately for him, being out of the Conservative Party will mean that his Queen’s Gate constituents will be binning him in 2022.

Also, Cllr Palmer was ordered back in 2018 to apologise to our friend Eddie Daffarn by the RBKC Audit and Transparency Committee over upsetting remarks made over Grenfell and sprinklers at a Full Council Meeting as we reported here:

 Matthew Palmer’s offensive behaviour lands him in trouble

But OVER TWO YEARS LATER, he has still failed to apologise – disgraceful

Marwan Elnaghi (Labour, Notting Dale Ward)

Now we are very disappointed to have to hand our this lump of coal as we know Cllr Elnaghi well and have worked with him on campaigns before, but he is hopelessly out of his depth as Chair of the RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee, and everyone knows it.

At the special Royal Brompton meeting, Cllr Elnaghi’s “contribution’ was to basically let the NHS bosses talk and talk and he failed to question them , and even far worse, completely failed to allocate time for residents to speak at this meeting. We would not be a fair blog if we simply only pointed the finger at Conservatives for shutting residents out of meetings, and this was really only the last chance that most of them had to raise questions and make points over this.

The most recent meeting of that Committee showed some improvement from him, but too little too late we say because his earlier performances as Chair have been lacklustre at best and it really saddens us that a North Kensington Labour councillor is not accepting that he is not up to the job. He is letting both his community and other communities down by putting his own interests first in staying and taking the money and not properly taking responsibility for running down this, one of the most important council committees, and doing the right and honourable thing and resigning

Barry Quirk – RBKC Chief Executive

We could sit here forever and reel off a list of suits who have failed us – Iago Griffith and the resident engagement failure here:

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

is a notable example of this..

But ultimately, who is to blame is the top suit who is responsible for many of these appointments so Barry Quirk, RBKC Chief Executive makes our naughty list this year.

Dr Quirk is also responsible for the appointment of his friend, forner Head of Strategy at Lewisham Robyn Fairman as Deputy chief Executive and Grenfell Executive, whose only real Grenfell legacy has been to ignore most of the community around Grenfell, and cause tension and division between various residents and residents’ groups and also to help cause divisions and friction between residents and survivors, that previously did not exist. Panto horse Dobbin Fairman has exited the RBKC stage now and will certainly not be missed by most of us living in the North of the borough.

Thanks to Bookworm Barry, we have had loads of expensive fly-by-night interim suits who achieved very little but like him, have commanded six figure salaries – these include Rachel Sharpe and Sue Foster – both of whom have since left (not that many of us noticed when they left) .

At such a time of economic hardship, our residents are now faced with increased council tax, increased rent and increased service charges partly to pay for all of this which is hard to justify when there are so many areas showing little to no improvement – not least in North Kensington .

Perhaps some Christmas holiday reading might be in order?

Or perhaps not, because if the Plain English Campaign reads some of Barry’s books or sees his speeches, they might strip our borough of our once prized Crystal Mark when they try to get through his particular style of corporate-managerial-jargon-speak , most of which is unintelligible to most people outside backgrounds like his. No wonder our council still has communication problems despite spending more on PR than ever…

Elizabeth Campbell – Leader of RBKC (Conservative, Royal Hospital Ward)

There is no way we can complete this naughty list without the inclusion of perhaps, the naughtiest councillor of them all. It is Cllr Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell who ultimately has the final say in council policy, who signed off the appointments of most of Dr Quirk’s suits and who keeps failing our residents – as well as having past form serving in RBKC pre- Grenfell cabinets. And Dizzy Lizzy appears to be in the act of taking our council right back there; as we reported in this post:

Grenfell affected residents banned from questioning RBKC Grenfell Recovery policy

She has taken the backwards step of holding Leadership Team meetings without opening the floor to residents and to opposition councillors. Only one step backwards more will be a return of the meetings held behind closed doors , back when Nick Paget-Brown and “Jailhouse” Rock Feilding-Mellen were here .

In not allowing residents and other councillors to ask questions at these meetings, she is showing her contempt for democracy and for North Kensington and also for our most vulnerable residents – the last meeting had Grenfell and Covid-19 on the agenda.


Linda Wade (Liberal Democrat, Earl’s Court Ward)

Arguably one of RBKC’s hardest working councillors. Cllr Wade has canpaigned relentlessly for years for her local Earl’s Court area and the residents living there. She has steered the Covid-19 voluntary efforts in her community and goes above and beyond to help people in need. Her work has gone beyond Earl’s Court and she has helped many other residents living far and wide elsewhere in the borough. As well as that, she has also been very supportive to North Kensington residents affected by Grenfell, so we say a massive thank you to Linda Wade and we just wish there were more exceptional councillors like her.

Ian Henderson (Labour, Colville Ward)

As well as being an outstanding and inspirational campaigner who has worked hard and helped to save Chelsea’s Sutton Estate, Cllr Henderson has also been outstanding in his volunteering work and not just volunteering for the Covid-19 mutual aid – and not just in and around his ward. He, alongside his fellow Colville councillors Nadia Nail and Monica Press coordinated a lot of the donations for the council’s hubs and we thank them for this too.

Cllr Henderson has also campaigned for years to save the Royal Brompton Hospital and even though the acquisition deal is set to go ahead unless the Government intervenes ,  he is still campaigning on this, is calling for an inquiry into the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust and he has also highlighted the issue to others in the borough who were unaware of this scandal. A more than well deserved present from us goes to him

Robert Freeman (Conservative, Campden Ward)

If there is a councillor who deserves a prize for years of thoughtful intelligent contributions, questioning and scrutiny, it has to be Cllr Robert Freeman.

He is also another councillor who has highlighted the Royal Brompton hospital issue for years. His work in council committees has been outstanding and he has also contributed in his local Kensington communty – many of his Campden Ward constituents always have good words to say for him. Our blog might not always see eye to eye with many of the Conservative councillors but he is one of the decent and honourable ones – so we say a big thank you to Cllr Freeman whose place on our nice list is truly deserved.

Portia Thaxter (Labour, St Helen’s Ward)

Cllr Thaxter is well known for her outstanding voluntary work in the North Kensington community – especially her efforts with the North Kensington food bank and with residents affected hy Grenfell, plus has impressed many of her St Helen’s Ward constituents with her commitment and sheer hard work.

Portia Thaxter is what we would call a real community councillor who is much more of a North Kensington grassroots politician than a Town Hall based one, and has been an absolute breath of fresh air, as well as also being one of the kindest and most sincere councillors we know, so she more than deserves this present ftom us .

Special mentions have to go to a few others :

It is encouraging that RBKC is going ahead with much-needed works on residents (neglected for years and years by KCTMO) homes. But what is not so encouraging happens to be the scandalously huge bills – of up to an eyewatering £30,000 that leaseholders are having to pay for this.

If it wasn’t for the progress in measures our council is taking to improve fire safety, Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring would be getting a lump of coal – but we recognise that they have made some – not many but some – positive changes however so not this time.

We are also not pleased about the lack of information shared with residents over works that will be taking place this coming year. All residents received was a letter informing them of a meeting to discuss these two days ago, and if they missed this meeting – tough, because all the council papers actually say is “major works” Well major works to what exactly what in people’s homes some may ask? That is vague at best. If we knew exactly which suit was responsible for this appallingly poor communication with residents being kept in the dark as to what exactly will be done to their homes, they would be receiving a lump of coal too

As for almost-nice , a special mention has to go to Cllr Malcolm “Bananaman” Spalding. No, we haven’t gone bananas but we think he is the most improved councillor- we haven’t exactly been his biggest fans in the past – but this year he has helped out in his Earl’s Court Ward with raising money for the community , as seen here outside St Cuthbert’s Church some months back.

Cllr Spalding has spoken well and put in some research on the issue of holiday and short term lettings – something which affects many residents, especially in Earl’s Court, Kensington and South Kensington . Also his performance at the Royal Brompton meeting and his questioning of the acquisition/merger/sell off was a highlight for us.

So do keep up this good work Cllr Spalding, and you’ll make our “nice” list next time round!

A final special mention has to go to most of our North Kensington councillors, especially those with a lot of challenging casework and whose constituents are affected by Grenfell and are still waiting for justice.

Our thoughts at the time of year especially go out to the Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and members of our community. We are also thinking of people affected by Covid-19 and other residents who will be spending Christmas alone due to the restrictions.

Our best Christmas wishes go out to all our friends, relatives and supporters of our blog (too many to name here but you know who you are!) who have helped get us through these crazy crazy times.

We wish everyone – yes everyone, even those on our naughty list ! – a Merry Christmas and leave you with our version of the 12 Days of Christmas – RBKC style. As we remind our council that over three and a half years on, our residents are still waiting for that much-promised culture change. Perhaps we’ll get it after the New Year? Let’s hope so…


Portobello Panto is online this evening – oh yes it is!

THINK will temporarily put aside what we have to say about some of those in charge, local and national matters and all the grim recent news, and we will be back to our usual booing, hissing and cheering on other blog posts next but for now we will share this.

North Kensington’s legendary Portobello Panto is online and will be on tonight. They are raising money for Shepherds Bush Families Project and GLUE W11.

We encourage our readers in tue season of goodwill to support our fantastic local panto and donate to these two wonderful local charities who have done amazing work for many children and families in and around our community.

Please donate and watch here:

The panto will also be showing on YouTube later from 7pm onwards on this link:

Here’s some further info:

The Portobello Panto began more than 30 years ago in a pub on the Portobello Road. Since then, it has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities and featured performances from Mick Jones, Kate Moss, Lily Allen and David Gest, among many others. However, despite the ample glitz, at its core the Panto is a community event that brings together artists, performers and school kids from the local area to have fun, entertain the crowds and raise money for good causes.

Its 2019 production, A Portobello Christmas Carol, raised nearly £10,000 for the Shepherd’s Bush Families Project and GLUE W11, a North Kensington-based youth programme. The funds raised every year for these organisations are vital at the best of times. During a pandemic, they are doubly so. With that in mind, we’re determined to raise as much as possible this year. As ever, the Panto is reliant on the work of skilled unpaid volunteers and unskilled unpaid celebrities to get the show on the road, or in this case, on your screens.

Shepherd’s Bush Families Project & Children’s Centre:
This wonderful charity was founded in 1988 to assist families enduring social and economic hardship in Hammersmith & Fulham. The Project works with families to promote emotional, social and intellectual development in infants, children and young people by providing a range of high-quality, stimulating educational and recreational activities and services. Its aim is to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds flourish in society. The Project assists parents in their goal of replenishing their emotional reserves and confidence, and thereby empowering them to meet their children’s needs, and reducing the risk of family breakdown. SBFP relies on Grant Aid and donations and must raise £250,000 per year to continue its crucial work.;;

GLUE: (G)uided (L)earning, (U)niting and (E)ducating:
Based in the heart of Ladbroke Grove, GLUE uses the arts to inspire young people aged 5-15. The community-led programme provides free workshops in subjects such as drama, creative writing, steel pan and street dance for those with limited resources. GLUE’s inspirational young people are active representatives of their community, forming part of the Mangrove Masquerade Junior Band at Notting Hill Carnival and performing in the Portobello Pantomime’s ensemble. GLUE’s mission is to provide a space where young members can become creatively inspired, culturally engaged and encouraged to achieve success and social progress through the arts.

Shame on the Royal Brompton asset strippers

THINKers are very deeply disappointed with the decision of the board of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust board of governors to accept the acquisition merger deal by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust yesterday

Residents and patients have been told excuses and lies about this by the board for ages.

This article below, “Merger deal paves way for huge land sale” can leave nobody in doubt as to what the motivations of the board really were::

This is what our friends at From The Hornets Nest said yesterday:

“The decision by the governors to accept the takeover( for that is exactly what it is) is shameful.

And more galling is the lack of public scrutiny which one governor eloquently highlighted.

This is a bad decision to be regretted for years to come.

Michael Mates, the lead governor, demonstrated his arrogance by filing his fingers and fiddling with his mobile during this vital meeting.

Mates has a disgraceful record when it comes to matters judgmental as does the chairman, Sally Morgan.

A shameful day for our Borough.

Praise in particular for Cllr Kemahli who did so much to fight for the Royal Borough.”

THINKers might not be feeling festive this year, but we’re no Scrooges

Some of us at this blog may want to see the back of what has been a truly miserable year for us as soon as possible, but we do wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.

We will also thank whichever member of the RBKC Community Investment team sent us this , regarding an online Carol service at St Cuthbert’s Church this evening :

Dear Residents,

Please join us Tuesday 15 December for our online carol service, by simply clicking the link below.

We will be coming live from St Cuthbert’s Church, Earls Court, whose choir will lead the singing with the help of pupils of one of our primary schools. The words for the carols
will appear on the screen for all to join in, and we will enjoy readings from residents and staff.

We look forward to welcoming you from 5.45 onwards to start at 6pm.

We are using YouTube to broadcast this service and you may want to click the button on the lower right hand corner to ‘expand’ the screen. There is no need to sign up to YouTube
but if it invites you to sign up after clicking the link, simply decline and your access to the live service will continue.

We don’t think that

🎶”Away in temporary housing, in bug-infested beds, our council’s forgotten residents have to lay down their heads”🎶


🎶”Once in Rock’s Rotten Borough🎶

will be getting an airing somehow…..

Local residents in North Kensington have also sent us this, below regarding ” Carols in your street” coming to Kensal House from St Helen’s Church along with details of their online services on later this month.

We might not be feeling up to singing ourselves but our voices are usually put to another good use on here.

There’s always next year, though we really hope, along with many others in our community, that 2021 will bring some much-needed positivity and changes for the better that we really do feel up to celebrating.

Royal Brompton Hospital: The merger/takeover/ acquisition against much local opposition:

The Royal Brompton Hospital is a world-famous, world class spacialist heart and lung hospital – the latgest in the UK – based in Sydney Street Chelsea.

The Hospital has played an important role in the fight against Covid-19 as the one of only 5 centres in the UK which provides live saving EPMO treatment.

But all this sadly does not appear to be enough to stop NHS management and their asset stripping and selling it off for luxury flats and relocating setvices south of the river. We are truly appalled by this.

The fat cats tell us that there wil still be services there for a decade as they have committed to a new imaging centre in Dovehouse Street

But others in the know tell us this centre will most likely end up being sold off to private medical providers in the end.

Children’s cardiology provided at the Royal Brompton is also set to move to the Evelina Children’s Hosptial under the plans

The board is set to vote to merge with Guy’s and St Thomas’s today.

The RBKC Committtee meeting

An online meeting of the RBKC Adult Social Care and Health committee last month about the acquisition was perhaps, in some parts, special for some of the wrong reasons, partly because the Committee Chair, Labour’s Cllr Marwan Elnaghi had decided to have the bulk of the meeting devoted to presentations amd the NHS bosses making their cases, and at the very end of it, they only had time for a couple questions and statements from members of the public for a few minutes at the very end – disgraceful (we’ll say more about this later)

But we will summarise :

The first (and far largest part were the presentations.

Dr Richard Grocott-Mason: “We are glad to be given the opportunity to share what we believe are exciting plans that will benefit our patients”

First I’d like to reassure our patients, local residents and members of the committee that role is not closing. We will continue to provide specialist care for patients who need our services on the current site for at least the next decade.

Staff are very grateful for the recognition that the Council have expressed repeatedly for their excellent work, and I’m particularly proud of the outstanding care staff with both our hospital sites and delivered to patients during the last eight months.

I want to start by reminding the committee of the vision of the Royal Brompton and Harefield, which is the the UK, leading specialist center for heart and lung disease, developing services to research and clinical practice to improve the health of people globally, delivering the highest possible care to our current patients and ensuring that we can continue to do this in the future as being the driving force for the board. And we believe that the merger with Guy’s and St Thomas’s is the best way to take forward a partnership that we’ve had more than three years,”

“COVID has accelerated the transformation and models of care. Many of our respiratory patients now receive their biological treatments and intravenous drugs at home, rather than having to come up to the hospital, each time they need treatment, more patients are speaking to their clinical teams from home or work, rather than having to travel to the hospital”

Robert Craig, the Director of Development and partnership : “.We’re proposing mergers structured as an acquisition for a number of reasons. Firstly, they will bring stability and resilience to our services after many years of uncertainty about their future. We will become part of one of the largest health care organizations in the NHS, and one with a very stable history.

One of the catalysts for our collaboration was to pull our considerable resources to build a strong congenital heart disease service for patients of all ages. That could not only comfortably meet our national standards, but also and I think this part is crucial. Enable the expert teams to work together so successfully as to remain together in the same organization in the future.

Secondly, the scale of a new organization will support the development of greater sub specialization, as well as investment in the next innovations and in future technologies. And thirdly, we know that we’ll be able to sustain the important characteristics of Royal Brompton services, and that specialist care across a patient’s whole life. And the supportive, academic clinical culture, as we expand the academic opportunities that are available to our specialists.”

Helena Bridgman, a patient governor at thr Royal Brompton talked about her own experience and said this:” I started with one major problem in my lungs, but I am in fact the sum of many different parts. In fact a system of care, compassion, collaboration and coordination of care closer to home have figured large in smoothing my passage.

The staff at the Brompton have provided me with superb world-class care but the story did not end there. So what I have experienced firsthand as a patient and a nurse, is how inportant it is to be cared for by coherent and integrated teams and services that can treat many different conditions and needs at many different levels and can also provide coordinated aftercare to both local and more distant patients”.

Dr Ian Abbs, Guy’s and St Thomas’s :”This is a merger coming together of two partners, equal partners…… ”

Who does he think he is kidding here?

Dr Abbs: “The future has already been discussed and it is subject to consultation” ”

“the partnership with the other members of the NHS family n thr Royal Marsden in particular on a lung cancer pathway, with Chelsea and Westminster and other organizations of Northwest London, where we will be remaining for many years to come. as a major provider of care in northwest London, and we’re committed to engaging collaboratively with the NHS colleagues with our local authority partners, and with other stakeholders”

Charles Alexander, The Royal Marsden: “Of course we are the Royal Brompton’s most immediate neighbours as indeed is our academic department of the Institute of cancer research on the other side of th the Bromptons frontage on the Fulham Road, and not only have we been in the Fulham Road since 1870. but we intend to continue to invest throughout the whole period, both in our site in Chelsea and in our site in Sutton . The observation is that our trust has on this merger, firstly, of course, we respect, the will of the two boards of their respective trusts Guy’s and St Thomas’ and the Royal Brompton to pursue one thing, in the best interests of their patients. Our principles therefore concern the future of our patient provision on our side. And our partnership with the Royal Brompton. And indeed, with through Royal Marsden partners through the rest of the network with the Cancer Alliance, to which we provide, and have provided throughout the Covid pandemic in particular, a very joined up treatment pathway.And we wish to build on that, and invest in it.”

Hazel Fisher, NHS England ” NHS England in this role is arranging the provision of a wide range of health services to the extent that it considers necessary to meet the reasonable requirements of the people for whom it is responsible. And it does that, in large part through the commissioning stops and NHS improvement is responsible for overseeing NHS Foundation Trust and ensuring that patients receive consistently safe, high quality compassionate care within their local health systems that are financially sustainable. So those differences are important when it comes to a matter of this sort. So the NHS England is responsible for consulting on substantial service change, and variations in service, and I’m fact, our engagement responsibility is quite broad, it can go from a smaller service change which could be with a discussion with a limited group of invitations involved, or it can be full scale public consultation. And indeed, we are responsible were for those sorts of public consultations, where services move, and that is equally true if services move from one site managed by a trust to another site managed by the same trust, as it is true, if a service moves between trust. So I know that it has been a voiced concern that potentially with this transaction between the Royal Brompton and Guy’s and St Thomas’ that services will move without the right degree of scrutiny. And I think it’s really important to emphasise that that will not be the case. It was very good to hear from both Ian Abbs and Richard Grocott- Mason that that’s fully understood.”

Dr Bob Klaber” I’m a paediatrician and the director of strategy research and innovation in Imperial College healthcare and I’m going to be joined by Nicola Grinstead who is leading work across West London Children’s Health Care Alliance, and a halfway through this. So I guess just reflecting on what we’ve heard. I thought Richard’s comments around inequalities and Helena’s really important patient’s story really take us to the heart of what needs to be about and our plans. that we have been working on in collaboration with Imperial College London are very much designed to meet the health needs and address the health inequalities within our local population in northwest London, and this work has to not be about organizations, it has to be about patients residents citizens our local communities and the population we’re here to serve. And we believe that that’s best achieved by preserving and developing the long established Northwest London networks of specialists in respiratory and cardiovascular care and colleagues at the Brompton rightly talked about collaboration, being right at the heart of it, it needs to have medical education and research entwined with it. And we know from all the work we’ve done over decades, is that it led to significant improvements in adult and pediatric care but also having impact nationally. I’m just goiing to pass you to Nicola who’s goung to talk a little bit about about some of the deyails of the work we’ve been doing ”

Nicola Grinstead, managing director for West London Children’s health:

“It is important to us in northwest London in terms of meeting the health and wellbeing needs of our population, we thought it would be helpful to highlight to this meeting, very specifically through the lens of Cardiology and respiratory services which obviously is the main interface between ourselves and the Royal Brompton.

Some of the key areas of focus in collaboration across Imperial College health care, Chelsea and Westminster, and Imperial College, right now, above that line, our commitment to making sure that the needs of our population are met, our commitment to tackling health inequalities to ensuring that services are developed around patient need, and to breaking down, organizational boundaries to ensure good access to the full spectrum of health care and services including specialist provisioning and we’re doing that very specifically, and through making sure that we have a new purpose built cardiovascular and respiratory center for adults at Hammersmith hospital.

And we’ve already launched an integrated children’s health care network so the western Children’s Health Care Alliance, which focuses on making sure that children have equal access at the time they need it to the full range of healthcare services from primary care right through to the specialist services that we access through the rural producten, and also a we’ve launched this year, a new academic center for child health through Imperial College which will help us to make sure that we’re really developing clinical services, hand in hand with research and educational focus. And it’s important I think in highlighting these three examples to identify that actually we already collaborate and hugely with real volunteers and colleagues in this space, whether that be clinically or academically and I think these examples highlight the depth of the collaboration that already exists within Northwest London, I think we view the collaboration between ourselves and the world Brompton as a highly valued and hugely impactful collaboration and if I focus on children’s there’s just one example of that. I think we can say that what we have in place is a highly sophisticated and really mutually beneficial network of care provision which has genuinely evolved over time directly to meet the needs of children that we serve. Within Northwest London. Others have already commented and I wish also to emphasize on the fact that the pandemic has served, simply to amplify the importance of that collaboration, and I think both patients and our staff would lose out in the absence of that continued collaboration. I think it’s reassuring that for to hear and commitments from colleagues both the Guys and St Thomas’ under the Royal Brompton ongoing collaboration. And in this context I want them to emphasize again our ongoing commitment to the provision of excellent care in northwest London for Northwest London patients, and to collaboration with Brompton colleagues, both now and I think worth highlighting very specifically this nuance and in the future. If and when Fulham Road Services relocate in such a way that the health needs of Northwest London patients can continue to be appropriately met, both with excellence and ease of access,.”

But Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of Imperial College had this to say:”. My concern is over the very short, medium term. And the longer term, about the nature of loss of co-location, and this loss of collaboration, and my concern is that we will lose the research stuff, which have been generating, similar to this output. I believe that there will be a real challenge in maintaining this alignment over time. I’m particularly concerned respiratory medicine , cardiovascular medicine and this research is well funded in the UK. Respitatory medicine , despite. and I urge nhse to form the transition board, which was promised along the side of this merger of organizations to look at future patient services in West London in cardiovascular and respiratory medicine, and their alignment with research and to education.”

“This move is not going to make it better. It’s going to stretch, and I suspect demoralise the researchers, particularly in response to events, because of the uncertainty over the future location or co-location, and the removal, over time, of them physically from the Imperial College environment. And this is the risk. This is the risk to respond to research. So you’ve got something that’s excellent. And that’s what’s going to be disrupted”

After presentations had gone on for over an hour, Cllr Robert Atkinson had pointed this out to Cllr Elnaghi and aaked when others would get to speak.

RBKC councillors unite and fight

Our councillors are united on this issue and many of then spoke excellently at the meeting so and this is just a brief extract of what some of them had to say and our readers can here the meeting in full at this link here:

At several points during the meeting Cllr Ian Henderson raised points of order over some of the panel, Dr Grocott-Mason Dr Abbs and Mr Craig in particular referring to the acquisition as a merger:

“It’s not a merger; it’s an acquisition”

After the fourth time Cllr Henderson had raised this, Dr Grocott-Mason replied that it was a “merger structured as a statutory acquisition”

Cllr Robert Freeman:”I just like to make three points. One is, it’s fine to say there’s a public consultation. And it’s fine to say that everybody is getting into it with an open mind. But once the Brompton has been taken over its effectively, a subsidiary of Guy’s and St Thomas’ and it’s very difficult to take that consultation with ab open mind. Just a point I’ve made. Secondly, the question of research was brushed over to really go quickly by Ian Abbs in the contribution of respiratory medicine, that the Brompton has made is absolutely enormous. And that is the. Once that has gone, it’s, gone It hass been probably the leading researcher researcher in this country. It’s really sad to say that.” Cllr Freeman also took issue with what some of the panel had said earlier appearing to be:”associating the takeover of congenital heart disease at the problem with the problems of the Bristol Royal Infirmary in the mid 90s, not too short. impression but that became neither professional or personal. Royal Infirmary was one of the most disgraceful pieces of paediatric medicine that this country has seen it was arrogant. It was careless people suffered the loss of their children lives with terminated early. If you contrast that with the Brompton with its paediatric senior team had some of the best outcomes in the country and continues to” . I believe the algorithms and the problem is as good if not , better. So, can we please make absolutely sure that that misunderstanding is put to rest. Thank you.”

Cllr Walaa Idris: “Can someone tell me how is staff morale now that they know this is going on”

Cllr Charles Williams :”In the first wave of the pandemic. The Brompton played a crucial role in supporting seriously ill patients, partly through EPMO. And I wondered what ita contribution is at the moment. If it wasn’t there where would the capacity be? ”

Dr Grocott-Mason : the Brompton is continuing to work very closely with the Northwest London ICS, in terms of provision of critical care and EPMO services. So, the, number of EPMO beds, has been expanded to an askl of 30 beds, and this is compared to our original ask of five. currently running in the second wave of about a dozen patients on EPMO in the intensive care unit. So, we are still providing, this as we’ve said that the services are not going anywhere. And we will continue to provide the collaboration with not just Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals but other hospitals in northwest London”: “Around staff morale and engagement there’s been a, an awful lot of engagement with a whole load of events that have been going on for a long period of time where over the last two months we’ve been in the TUPE consultation and staff have questions, we’ve answered hundreds of questions from our staff quite appropriate questions about their employment about their job and everything. But what we have noticed is that actually there is a shift in mood to excitement around the opportunities that are provided by being part of a bigger organization that has more resilience has more support for some of the activities that are difficult to, to provide in a smaller trust. And one of the things that jointly we will be doing is to implement an electronic health record, and the investment in that will be something which again, has generated a lot of excitement from staff because that will be part of the, the enabler of transformation. ”

Dr Abbs responded : “I mean, the first thing is, is 10 years is quite a long time in healthcare. And if I reflect back 10 years on how care is organised and delivered now, compared to 10 years ago it’s cery important. I mean my own feeling is that there will be healthcare delivery of some time on the Sydney street side of the Royal Brompton hospital for many decades to come. And one of the big things that happened was is a big investment in imaging diagnostics. I mean one of the things I would expect to happen. Fortunately for patients of the future is much more concentration on early diagnostics so patients are seen earlier, particularly for complex conditions cardiac respiratory cancer particularly. And I could well see that being built up because actually much of the healthcare the future will probably be based on diagnostics and In terms of the inpatient beds, which is one only various actually small component of health care much. Just to give you an idea I think we have about 200,000 inpatients a year and at Guy’s and St Thomases we have 2 million contacts with patients a year. So actually most of the care related to an inpatient is actually coming to the hospital to test – some of that will change given the types of technology we have now. ”

Many residents in and around our borough have been patients at the Royal Brompton and Cllr Linda Wade mentioned that both herself and some members of her family have been patients there.

Cllr Malcolm Spalding was rightly keen to pick the document apart and tell it as it is : “If you want to pick this document, and the presentations that we’ve had this evening. He had a recent kind of thread, which can be unraveled, and lots of our residents are clever enough to get the theme the historical theme that’s going on here, and I’ll have to be blunt about it. And it really involves three things. It involves the state, the fiscal and the estate. It involves the acquisition or the takeover. And it involves the reason why, which, which has been given for all this to happen. And all of these have got big doubts in our residents minds, we’re bombarded with these questions, and somebody has to say it’s an important question, and I will be putting it to leadership”

These are only a few extracts but this post would go in forecer if we listed all the councillors excellent contributions in full. We’re not known for being the biggest fans of RBKC (and sometimes we’re rather ashamed of them!) but contributions from councillors of all parties on this issur have been excellent and have done us proud.

Some points from us

When some of the NHS bosses made the case from the move to South London and the acquisition of the Brompton at the meeting, they seemed to assume that as the majority of patients treated at the Brompton were from elsewhere, that this reinforced their case. But we believe that some of the panel have greatly underestimated or disregarded the local need for specialist heart and lung services locally in time to come:

First of all the health effects on the local population of huge redevelopment schemes, and densification to consider wbich will bring homes, offices, and shops of course, but also increased levels of trafffic; therefore increased levels of pollution, and the effect of a vast increase in the number of tall buildings further trapping in the pollution with them.

There is Earl’s Court and the site of the former Exhibition Centre which is set for redevelopment – this is in an area where already, some residents” health is suffering because of the levels of pollution, which are the highest in the UK and are already at three times the WHO limit.

Then to the north of our borough, the Old Oak redevelopment scheme is ongoing. bringing with it more infrastructure and a projected very large population increase and inevitably, will bring increased pollution to neighbouring areas like ours, in which the Westway runs through and which have a high level of pollution (which is, at the timebeing, at the top end of the WHO legal limit) and is likely to increase.

On a separate but still local issue, we also have to mention the effects of toxic fumes from the Grenfell Tower Fire and the possible long term health implications on local residents. Immediately after the fire, some previously healthy residents suffered from respiratory problems and some still do. The wider and long term effects suffered by residents from the toxic fumes of the fire are still largely unknown.

Also while we are encouraged that services and treatements are advanced to where a large number of patients can receive these at home, its inportant to remember that inner London boroughs like ours have a high proportion of lone residents and many who are without any support at home and also that the quality of some home environments of some of our poorest residents (ie those in HMOs, temporary accommodation or those living in accommodation – such as overcrowded housing or small may not be suited to monitoring receiving treatment and medication at home. We worry about the impact of the move on the quality of life on these residents and we think that while the move may prove helpful to residents living near Guy’s and St Thomas Hospitals;, this could become yet another case of the NHS Lottery ‘with those losing out being residents in and around our communities.

The board meeting is today and we are sad to say that this is pretty much a done deal unless the Government intervenes. We agree with Ian Henderson when he says there should be a public inquiry into the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust and their dealings.

We also have to say that we were very disappinted with the decision of Chair Cllr Marwan Elnaghi to not allocate sufficient time for the public to ask questions at the Special RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Committee meeting . After all, that was the only real oppotunity for many residents to do so. We are thankful to many of the other Labour councillors, including Sina Lari, Pat Mason, Pat Healy and of course, Ian Henderson who all spoke very well at the meeting . We do hope that the RBKC opposition benches undergo a reshuffle this Christmas – (while we usually have a high opinion of Cllr Elnaghi, we are not convinced he is suited to chairing this particular council committee).

Later, Ian Henderson had this to say to us:

“To claim this is an acquisition by St Thomas’s means the Royal Brompton do not have to consult the public.

After the Grenfell Tower disaster, for any organisation to think they can ignore Kensington and Chelsea residents is akin to acting like the old TMO

To consider removing the number one respiratory hosptial in the world at this time is nothing sgort og a betrayal of the legacy of the NHS and the 100 year support of the hospital by our residents ”

Yesterday there was a socially distanced protest held outside the Royal Brompton Hospital with Cllr Henderson, along with Cllr Robert Atkinson and Cllr Nadia Nail, the GMB Union and members of H & F Save Our NHS in attendance:

A consultation and two petitions

Our readers can sign and share the two local petitions to save the Royal Brompton Hospital here. We recommend signing both:

Ian Henderson’s petition:

The RBKC petition:

And have your say in the RBKC planning consultation by the 30th of December here:

We end by calling on Matt Hancock and the Government to intervene in this decision and stop this asset sweating by NHS management of our legendary world-class hospital as we fear for the wellbeing of our residents if this goes ahead , especially at a time when our communities really need it more than ever.

We also say a special thanks to Ian Henderson for campaigning so strongly on this and to fellow Kensington blog From The Hornets Nest, who have reported extensively on the potential sell off and the goings on at the secretive Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust for years . Check out their excellent blog here:

Grenfell: 3 years and six months: Still waiting for justice

Yesterday the 14th of December was exactly three years and six months since 72 members of our commubity lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Some members of our community held a speakout around Westminster yesterday in memory and also to remind the politicians in charge that we are still waiting for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The picture above, is taken from outside the French Embassy yesterday. Arconic, makers of seem to think it is acceptable to use the French Blocking Statute to get out of appearing at the Grenfell Inquiry.

So we’ll call on our readers again to please sign and share this petition and help to make sure that they, like others partly responsible for this disaster that cost 72 innocent lives, have to face the consequences:

Now we are going to say some words here, in tribute to our friend, and friend of so many in and around our community, Clarrie Mendy, who sadly passed away recently.

Clarrie’s cousin Mary Mendy and her daughter Khadija Saye were residents of Grenfell Tower who lost their lives in the fire.

Clarrie has been a friend to many residents around here as well as a formidable and inspirational campaigner and founder of Humanity For Grenfell:

Sometimes, with all our community is going through and when things can get too much; we do from time to time, question if we can still do this, but, there are some people who have encouraged us to keep going and fight. Clarrie was one such person. We will miss her and our thoughts are with her and her family.

Grenfell affected residents banned from questioning RBKC Grenfell Recovery policy

This is North Korea….whoops sorry we mean North Kensington, where the regime bans local residents from making points or asking questions in a meeting which is supposed to partly be about what is happening in their own community.

Grenfell Recovery is on the agenda for tonight’s RBKC public online Leadership Team (Cabinet) meeting and the meeting is happening now, but local residents are not allowed to participate. There is only the video link provided to watch…

The meeting is going on now and here are the details:

But THINKers are not masochists and we really don’t want to sit through and watch a self- congratulatory back slapping exercise by our council, so we’re giving this a miss.

RBKC have achieved very little in our community with regards to Grenfell Recovery as far as we can see. We could be here forever going through a list of the failures but we’ll just briefly touch on just a couple:

Many people in our local community have been completely forgotten about and are still being forgotten.RBKC’s idea of Grenfell Recovery seems to not even acknowledge the existence of older residents, or residents without dependent children.

They also seem to think that people outside large estates don’t exist too.

Well, since Dizzy Lizzy and most of her .Cabinet barely know and hardly ever visit North Kensington, let us tell them that there are very many of these residents who are affected by Grenfell living here.

Apparently Grenfell legacy funds will be allocated by RBKC according to the size of estates. Well where does that leave others who do not live in estates? . Some residents live in council housing in smaller blocks and street properties and have been through hell with the TMO are still going through hell – and the only thing they will get from the “wonderful council” that partly gave us Grenfell will likely be a slap in the face.

What about affected others in our community? Some live in housing association-owned social housing others live in private accommodation, – presumably they have been forgotten about too . Whatever the case, it appears they are not allowed a say in the matter.

Here’s what the Notting Dale Residents Advisory Board sent us :

When will RBKC listen? When will they learn?

But tonight’s meeting is not just about Grenfell Recovery. It’s about Covid-19 as well. And guess what? Residents have been barred from asking questions on this too So this censorship of our citizens goes much further than North Kensington – others in the borough have also been gagged . What is our council scared of?

As much as Dizzy Lizzy and RBKC like to spend on PR and pretend they are a caring council , their preventing residents from fully participating in a Leadership Meeting with Grenfell and Covid-19 on the agenda says it all; it says they do not care one bit about Grenfell affected residents – as well as the elderly, the poor, the sick and the vulnerable – shame on them.

Grenfell Inquiry: Celotex and the fatal hard sell

We’re sorry to our readers for the long break in these posts but in already very tough times for most people, those of us who are part of the immediate community around Grenfell are finding things difficult right now, and hearing all the shocking revelations at the Grenfell Inquiry can at times get too much. We hope others understand.

💚Protest today💚

Today, Monday the 7th of December, between 11:30am and 1pm, there will be a protest outside the Grenfell Inquiry – at Bishops Bridge Road, Paddington, London W2. We think it is outrageous that survivors and the bereaved are not allowed to go in and watch proceedings in person (even with social distancing measures in place) and look these persons and organisations – partly responsible for the deaths of 72 loved ones, friends and neighbours in Grenfell Tower – in the eye. Please do join the protest if you can , stand with our community and show your support.

Every appearance at the Inquiry seems to bring one shocking revelation after another. Kingspan, makers of the flammable K15 insulation that was on part of Grenfell Tower appeared at the Inquiry this week and they are back on the stand tomorrow – plus they are also featuring in our next Grenfell Inquiry instalment.

For now however , we will be catching up with another bunch of liars and swindlers, namely makers of the flammable insulation on Grenfell Tower, Celotex and their appearance at the Inquiry last month:

Shortly before the Grenfell Inquiry began, this was a statement released fby Celotex (it is still on their website today.):

“Celotex welcomes Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. As part of Phase 2, the Inquiry will be considering a large number of complex and inter-related issues in connection with the fire, including the design and installation of a multi-component rainscreen cladding system, of which insulation manufactured by Celotex, formed one element. The first part of the Inquiry will focus on the primary refurbishment.

We endorse the need to find out what happened and to ensure it does not happen again. We are committed to assisting the Inquiry with its work and re-affirm our deepest sympathies to everyone who has been and continues to be affected by the fire.”

Not very convincing is it?

Especially when Celotex marketed their insulation boards as “acceptable for use in buildings above 18 metres in height”but their fire tests on the material had been manipulated to make them appear less combustible .

Nathaniel Barker from Inside Housing reported this :

“Particularly eye-catching was the citation of a series of internal emails from Arconic, which produced the Reynobond panels used on Grenfell. These panels were found to be the biggest reason for the spread of fire at Grenfell.

The emails showed that as early as 2009, senior staff at the multinational firm were aware of how “dangerous” polyethylene (PE) cladding could be. In fact, while the panels were being installed on Grenfell Tower in summer 2015, Claude Wehrle, head of technical sales support at Arconic, was telling colleagues that the material “is DANGEROUS on facades”, adding that “everything should be transferred to FR [fire resistant] as a matter of urgency”.

Six months later, Mr Wehrle would comment following a fire close to a Reynobond PE-clad tower: “We are in the ‘know’, and I think it is up to us to be proactive… AT LAST.”

At the same time, the emails appear to show Arconic was working hard to keep what it knew quiet. For instance, Mr Wehrle told colleagues that the fact the cassette-shaped Reynobond PE panels – which were fitted at Grenfell – did not achieve the Euroclass B fire safety standard they were certified for had to be kept “VERY CONFIDENTIAL!!!!!”. Perhaps more disturbing still, in other emails he mentioned “arranging” cladding systems to pass tests and “a gap in the certification that we continue to make use of”.

Words fail us sometimes .

But Arconic are using the French Blocking Statute – to get out of appearing at the Inquiry . If like us, our readers share the view that they should not be allowed to evade justice like this, please sign and share this petition:

This was taken from the Celotex brochure in 2014:

The appearances at the Grenfell Inquiry from forner Celotex directors. – really were “watershed monents” to say the least – so here are a few highlights:

First was Jonathan Roome, former Sales Manager at Celotex from 2014-15 :

Richard Millett QC : “If you look at the left hand column on the first paragraph it says that: ‘Any information regarding the characteristics of the materials, products, structures or systems must be clear, acccurate and adequate” Do you accept that principle ? ”

Roome: “Yeah I would agree”

Mr Millett: “Was it a principle that was part of Celotex’s culture at the time you were there do you think?”

Mr Roome: “I couldn’t comment”

Millett:”Well you could comment”

Roome : “I could comment”

Millett : “I would like you to”

Roome: “Okay. At least on the surface that would follow yeah”

Millett: “It would follow on the surface as a matter of logic It’s certainly desirable. Did it happen? Was it a principle within Celotex that its marketing information relating to the characteristics of materials, products, structures or systems should be clear, accurate and adequate? ”

Roome: “I had to reason to question otherwise”

Millett: “Right…”

It’s easy to picture Jonathan Roome saying “no comment” to response to anything put to him in a Police interview.

Richard Millett’s pinning down of witnesses at the Inquiry and getting to the truth both here and throughout – has been nothing short of exceptional.

Richard Millett. QC: So the system described here, and the components described in this list was not in fact the system actually tested was it?”

Jonathan Roome: “It seems not to have been, no”

Richard Millett QC: “This is a thoroughly misleading document isn’t it? Even if you did read it thoroughly or one did read it thoroughly”

Jonathan Roome: “It turns out, correct yes”

Richard Millett QC : :In fact it is correct isnt it, that RS5000 was not suitalble for buildings over 18 mteres unless it formed part of the excat system tested under br135″

Roome: “Correct”

Millett: “Therefore do you accept that those words at the top of those pages at the top of the banner were apt to lead the reader to think that Celotex RS5000 was suitable for use in all buildings over 18 metres in height?”

Roome: “That would he the case, could be the case – yes”

Millett: “Again, thoroughly misleading wording. Do you accept that?”

Roome: “It’s not yeah – it’s not accurate”

Millett: “It’s misleading”

Roome: “It could be construed to be misleading, yes”

Millett:”Well, it is misleading because it doesn’t contain the caveat”

Roome: “Yes”

Mr Roome pointed the finger at Jonathan Roper under questioning at times, as in :

Richard Millett QC: ” Who told you, do you remember, that there has been an earlier test, a first test of RS5000 which had failed?”

Roome: “I think it may have been Jonathan Roper”

But former Product Manager Jonathan Roper was next and he rolled over and came clean, landing his former company even further well and truly in it:

Mr Roper admitted that he had asked for the test rig to be constructed with very small ventilation gaps because it was “Celotex’s intention to overengineer the rig so that it passed”.

This was reported in The Guardian:

“Roper was asked to produce slides for the sales team that would not include mention of the earlier failed test or the fact that the magnesium oxide board had been added in the second test. The slide was “downright misleading” and “intended to mislead”, he agreed under cross-examination by Richard Millett QC, counsel to the inquiry.

“Did you realise at the time that … this would be a fraud on the market?” asked Millett.

“Yes, I did,” replied Roper. “I felt incredibly uncomfortable with it. I recall going home that evening, I was living with my parents at the time, and mentioning it to them. I felt incredibly uncomfortable with what I was being asked to do.”

Asked if he could have gone to the senior management with his concerns, he replied that they were all in the meeting about the marketing strategy.

“I went along with a lot of actions at Celotex that, looking back on reflection, were completely unethical and that I probably didn’t potentially consider the impact of at the time,” he said. “I was 22 or 23, first job, I thought this was standard practice, albeit it did sit very uncomfortably with me.”

Next was former Marketing Manager Paul Evans,who appeared about as managerial as a nervous schoolboy peeing himself while waiting outside the Headteacher’s office:

Richard Millett QC: ” You had worked very closely with Mr Roper on the above 18-metre project and indeed, as we know, it was one of the matters throughout 2013 that was on his KPI list. You confirmed yesteday that you were closely involved in his work.

Can you think of a single reason why you wouldn’t have given hin instructions to truncate the 17 page slideshow down to a 12 page slideshow on this occasion?”

Mr Evans: “I don’t recall asking Jon to do that, and I don’t know why I would have asked him to do that.”

Mr Millett: “Well I can think of a reason why you would have asked him to do it and that is the reason Mr Roper gave, which was to create a deliberately dishonest misleading set of slides That’s the reason. I’m going to suggest to you that you asked him to do it, as he said on oath.”

Evans: “I can’t say that I asked him to do it, because I don’t recall asking him to so it, so I can’t say that I did ”

It’s a pity we can’t see Paul Evans’ pants on fire in that picture…..

And this is how ITV News reported some more of his evidence:

The person in charge of marketing the flammable insulation used on Grenfell Tower has said there was “not anything in him” that thought publishing “thoroughly misleading” material was the wrong thing to do.

Documents released to the market by Celotex said its RS5000 insulation was safe for use in buildings more than 18m high, as it was in the cladding panels strapped to the outside of the Kensington block.

The inquiry has previously heard Celotex employees manipulated a key fire safety test to secure a pass for its combustible RS5000 product for use on high-rise buildings, including by falsifying technical drawings and failing to declare a fire-resisting magnesium oxide material had been included in the test.

The 6mm layer of magnesium oxide was also not mentioned in marketing materials suggesting the insulation could be used on high-rises and shown to the inquiry on Wednesday.

It was presented by lawyers during evidence given by Paul Evans, the marketing director for Celotex at the time of the fire and during the refurbishment of the tower.

He claimed his “understanding was that what we were (publishing) was what we had tested” and he was “unaware of what I was aware of”, when it came to incorrect information.

However, Mr Evans had been present at a meeting where the inclusion of the magnesium oxide in the tests was discussed.

“There was no-one coming to me saying, ‘we shouldn’t be launching this’,” he said, and added “all I can say is that when we were launching the product to the sales team and the marketing material was going there was not anything in me that thought what we were doing” was misleading.

When pushed by inquiry lawyer Richard Millett QC as to whether “you accept that this marketing literature here when describing the test was thoroughly misleading?”, Mr Evans said: “Yes.”

Mr Evans suggested that the RS5000 had not been approved for use in high-rises in isolation, but rather as part of a wider system.

He told the inquiry in his statement that the team was “keen to make it absolutely clear in the marketing literature that the product approval to the two standards had occurred as part of a system so the product was not approved in isolation for use in any particular application or system”.

There was a line in the marketing material which read: “The classification applies only to the system as tested and detailed in the classification report.”

The hearing was also shown an email from Mr Evans referring to other marketing material for the RS500 in which he told a colleague: “We always need to be careful how we validate the +18m message.

“We can’t have it in too many places as a stand alone statement.”

A product manager at Celotex, Deborah Berger, on seeing the photo of the test rig with the magnesium oxide panels fitted, had written “WTF?” next to it.

Ms Berger told the Inquiry that “I didn’t think Celotex would do that. I thought Celotex was a good company that prided itself on doing the right thing, on being honest. I was really shocked by this. It appeared to me Celotex had taken some materials and installed them to pass the test.”

Amazingly, Celotex won an award in 2014 for their dodgy marketing efforts back then (someone with hindsight now might want to take that back) , so here is a very special award for Celotex from us (and it’s theirs for keeps) – behold, the first ever Platinum “Lifetime Achievement” Piglet- Pie Award – and here are dodgy former employees, liars and swindlers Jonathan Roome (on the right) and “nervous schoolboy peeing his pants” Paul Evans to receive it:

No social distancing measures in place here, but that’s about the least serious thing they are guilty of…..

Hard sell? It’s a prison cell that some of these people deserve. They look ashamed and so they should be. Celotex are the first-ever recipients of this “special award” but they won’t likely be the last….

Perhaps some of these people did not possess a conscience at all, while others were living in complete denial of what the consequences of their misselling such a dangerous product could be? Of course the horrific consequences were that 72 members of our comnunity lost their lives as a result of this, and the rest of us will live with the grief and trauma for the rest of our lives – partly because all greedy Celotex cared about was making a great big profit .What price life?

We agree with Sam Stein QC, representing Grenfell victims, who labelled Arconic , Celotex and Kingspan “little more than crooks and killers”.

THINKers hope the “boys and girls in blue” reading this will be arresting some of these people on corporate manslaughter charges soon.

Justice For Grenfell

Justice For North Kensington

The Truth Will Out








Wornington Green: Green no longer? North Ken residents fight to save 42 trees

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year? Not for many North Kensington residents, especially those living around Wornington Green and nearby it won’t likely be.

That’s because Catalyst Housing Association who are regenerating Wornington Green plan to chop down 42 trees.

Catalyst apparently say they can’t make changes to the plans to save the trees – Really? Can’t or won’t ? Because they they also say they will plant 55 new trees – but actually only 11 of these trees will be in public areas. Most of the trees will be small sapling trees planted in private gardens for the newcomers buying the luxury unaffordable flats that Catalyst are still building in the area, which also happens to be in Golborne Ward , the ward in RBKC with the highest levels of social deprivation.

This is also located in a part of North Kensington right by the polluted Westway, and where the vast majority of residents do not have a garden and which has very few communal green spaces.

The area has been a “building site” with noise, nuisance and disturbance for many residents round there for a number of years , and we worry about the effects on peoples’ mental and physical wellbeing, especially in these bleak times, and even more so now.

A local resident there said to us “They are set to chop down these trees immediately – before Christmas – leaving us with stumps to look at. Why do they have to do this? Where will our local wildlife go? How will this affect our oxygen? ”

Well no prizes for guessing why Catalyst are changing the name of the estate from “Wornington Green” to “Portobello Square” then; because there won’t be very much “green” left when their chainsaws and bulldozers are done.

THINKers are appalled by this and we fully support the local community in their campaign to save the trees and protect the area and community. We urge all our readers to join us and sign and share their petition to get RBKC to put a stop to this:

This week has been National Tree Week, and on Wednesday, residents presented the petition to officials at Kensington Town Hall.

It’s supposed to be the season of goodwill, but it appears that the only goodwill greedy Catalyst Housing seem to have, is towards the wealthy newbies and investors buying up the luxury flats and giving their Execs a big fat Christmas bonus of profit – at a real cost to the health and welbeing of locals – we say shame on this supposed “charitable” housing association.

Here is the video of North Kensington locals protesting in Wornington Green last week:

RBKC Scrutiny review of Housing Safety and Healthy Homes – have your say

The RBKC  Housing and Communities  Select Committtee has set up a Working Group on Housing Safety and Healthy Homes and they are asking for residents’ views on what the review should focus on.

Have your say here:

Residents have until 11:59pm on this  Sunday, the 6th December to respond.

Now THINKers will just briefly have our say:

We are concerned that a number of our social housing residents are living in unsuitable accommodation partly because of the shortage of ground floor and accessible flats and partly because housing allocations and points are in serious need of a review.

Residents ages ago were told that the council would  review housing allocation points  but we have yet to see or hear anything of this.

Just in case some housing department suits have a rehearsed answer to this and say it is already council policy and long has been to prioritise ground floor flats for the elderly, sick and disabled, perhaps they could answer then as to why people are still getting unacceptable “final offers”  .  Here is just one  example of that; in  one small   block  , a ground floor flat was given to a single  able-bodied resident in their 20’s, but a top floor flat only accessible by several flights of stairs was offered to an elderly man who could barely walk and came to the viewing on a council minibus.

Also it has to be said that there are some  residents  who are living in  unsuitable accommodation  but are putting up with it because they are terrified of being moved away fron their local area and the borough or indeed London altogether.

Some permanent council accommodation   itself is  unhealthy and unsafe to begin with, but  residents who are saddled with it do not receive much in the way of help.    Look at the way that North Kensington mother of two young children,  Chloe Williams was treated by RBKC Housing last year. See our post from back then here:


Ms Williams  was given the “choice” of living with rats, mice and cockroaches or being moved to the other side of London – completely  unacceptable.

RBKC Housing also seem to think it is acceptable to not  bother to move one of us away from a neighbour who has been violent and a flat which is in poor condition and  has been for a number of years  ( the flat was given to her as  a final “offer” – take it or be homeless )
See our previous post for more on that  here – LINK

In many cases, calls for help and support have fallen on deaf ears.  Here is an excerpt from a post from us last year in which North Kensington resident spoke at a Full Council Meeting :

(full post here:

First of all she spoke about Adair Tower, a council block in North Kensington, the tragic double murder of two elderly residents there Back in May, the media frenzy afterwards (which reminded some of the days after Grenfell ) and RBKC failing to provide vulnerable residents there any form of support despite offucers being in full knowledge of the situation.

Thankfully Sue Duggins, chair of the newly formed RA there got in touch with the Grenfell NHS Outreach Team and they were on hand to provide much needed support to residents there who had been in need of it

RBKC did not respond until June and them dismissely said that it was a “Police matter” . No referrals to victim support

We’re sadly not surprised by this as RBKC has form over many years, of neglecting the needs of residents in social housing – particularly those in North Kensington (we would be amazed however if Elizabeth “never been in a tower block” Campbell actually had any clue where Adair Tower was).

Leearna : ” I would therefore ask do the council have a policy in place regarding serious incidents that affect residents that has a reference to ensuring their mental and physical welfare is safeguarded? And if not, would you please seriously consider putting this in place as you seriously have a duty of care over your residents. And as this example demonstrates, you are dramatically failing in this ”

But what response did  the Leader of RBKC,  Elizabeth Campbell  have  to the  points and questions Leearna made about Adair Tower then, some might wonder ? Shockingly, Cllr Campbell  did not bother to  respond  on this at all.

So please  forgive us – even though while  there may be a few on the council who may he  approaching this with good intentions – if we are  still unconvinced that RBkC will ever really act upon the concerns and needs of our poorest and  most vulnerable residents.

And where is the record keeping? We hate to repeat ourselves, but we won’t be changing the record until there are strict rules and guarantees that our housing staff keep full and up to date records on their residents and properties. After all, how can they effectively ensure the wellbeing of both residents and our homes if they are continuously  failing to keep these?

It is not healthy or safe for anyone to live  in  poor conditions and/or in fear of  their safety  but  obviously RBKC expects some of their council residents to…..

As to the new council  homes RBKC is building – which our blog welcomes of course, residents will be in for a VERY long wait if they ever hope to get moved to these, so it’s very silly and pointless for some  councillors and suits  to keep pointing out  that they are building new homes (ready in several  years time) to people who  need to move ASAP.

It is also not exactly helpful to the mental  wellbeing of  many  residents in North Kensington – where most  of our borough’s social housing is –  when the council still fails to  acknowledge (beyond a couple of estates and blocks) that many more  residents here are still very traumatised by Grenfell.

The Committee Working Group will have six months to look into whether homes in the borough   are as safe and healthy as they should be – and the  simple and obvious answer to that question  is no, they are not. 

While we are pleased that RBKC is now taking fire safety issues seriously, they are still continually  ignoring a whole lot of other problems facing some of our most vulnerable residents.

Some of us feel that  even  if the Housing Committee were to listen and make some positive recommendations,  in the end this all has to be approved by the Leadership – and  that non-response  from Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell    regarding Adair Tower speaks a thousand words as to how  important to some of those in charge, the wellbeing of residents in council housing REALLY is..

We have to say that knowing  from both some of our own experiences and those of others, we are  left with next to no confidence that any of this will ever lead to real change.

We’d  really like to be proved wrong, but sadly we think the most likely council  response in the end will only be loads more expensive council publications and useless PR stunts with nothing ever really being done to addresss these issues.

What a mess.