The intriguing (and infuriating) case of the RBKC Housing “Secret Suits”

Some might be wondering whatever happened to our Editor’s FOI request back in April last year – as mentioned in this post last June:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/the-mystery-of-the-suits-in-the-dark/

A simple FOI request to our council that shouldn’t have been too much trouble.

But tbis basic level of transparency was evidently too much for RBKC as they completely ignored it!

So our Editor requested an internal review in July last year :

Guess what? No response, nothing, nada, zilch,, not a sausage.

RBKC obviously really do not want to tell residents who some senior officers – apart from Doug Goldring , Director of Housing Needs, and Dan Hawthorn, Executive Dorector for Housing and Social Investment – are for some reason…

So we did a bit of digging ourselves just with a few simple online searches….

The mysterious “Andrew L”, Head of Grenfell Housing Services who doesn’t want to reveal his surname, for some reason, now has a picture:

And here are a few other suits that others might be interested in ….

Ruth George, Head of Housing Services:

Zulfiqar Mulak, Head of Housing Needs and Transformation:

Martin Greenway, Head of Housing Repairs:

Anna Benbow, Director of Social Investment and Property:

Interstingly, Ms Benbow was also previously Seconded Assistant Director of Housing Supply at RBKC and at the same time, has been Director of Operations at Capital Letters, which is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and was established by 17 councils in London, which relieves homelessness by procuring and managing social housing from private landlords and letting agencies (all of which is outside our borough)

To be fair, Mr Mulak and Ms Benbow did appear on the most recent RBKC Management Structure chart we saw so they’re not exactly “hiding” but asise from those very familiar with RBKC, seasoned Committee-goers and information junkies (like ourselves) , most residents do not know who theu are and what they do.

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/council-councillors-and-democracy/about-council/roles-and-responsibilities/council%E2%80%99s-management

Rob Shaw, Housing Strategy and Policy Manager

Mr Shaw may be familar to some as he has been at RBKC for just over 12 years and was previously Housing Options Manager in the bad old days when some were facing regeneration.

Our council keeps telling residents to go to their “Neighbourhood Officers” – but the thing is, they fail to provide any details at all and most residents don’t even know who these people are.

So, for residents, here is the top suit with responsibility for Neighbourhood Management:

Stavroulla Kokkinou, Head of Neighbourhood Management

Ms Kokkinou just going on her LinkedIn profile, doesn’t want people to know her last name. We can’t think why, other than that she does not want the finger pointed at her for being in charge of all the Neighbourhood Officers and Antisocial Behaviour Managers. (No, we’ve never met or even heard of an ASB Manager either – despite one of us, a tenant in North Kensington, having suffered from violence and harassment from a neighbour.)

Many other residents , especially in the north of the borough based at Kensal Road which has changed little since the KCTMO days,, are still being failed with regards to little or no action taken over ASB. Ms Kokkinou has been in her post since 2018.

As for providing information, we understand that Robin Yu, arguably the most well known of the council’s Information Officers, departed Hornton Street some time ago. In fact he was about the only suit in that department who communicated regularly with residents over FOI questions and inquiries. So who do we have to ask ?

The council website won’t even tell us who they are and some of councillors do not even know! We’ve had no response, so there is little point in is emailing ” FOI Officers Anonymous” here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/contactsdirectory/az.aspx?searchletter=F&orgid=4432

But THINKers are not quitters and we found one:

Jessica Quinn, Information Governance and Housing Officer

Here’s how Ms Quinn describes her responsibilities on her LinkedIn profile:

For the past 9 years I have been dealing with the sole process of all things relating to Data Protection 1998, Freedom of Information 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and most recently The General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection 2018, for the Environmental Health Department of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy my work and looking for improvements in the way in which we can be more transparent with members of the public.

More transparent? She has been in her post for 10 YEARS – what a joke.

Many will have questions regarding RBKC and KCTMO information on housing and environmental issues, but we wouldn’t hold our breath for a response….

As for the former KCTMO, our council housing properties, projects, and technical information, perhaps this suit can answer some questions?

“John P” – Technical Systems Manager

Look at what he has been in charge of and how long he has been here and just think ; all the repairs not logged, all those missing housing records, all the KCTMO properties left in state of disrepair over many years – which most of us are paying the price of now – especially leaseholders now facing bills of up to a shocking £30K for all the TMO”s mistakes amd negligence , all the void properties either left empty for years or let to tenants by the TMO & RBKC in absolutely appalling conditions, not to mention records on poor quality refurbishments and fire safety

No wonder “John P” doesn’t want the public to know his surname.

That’s if he hasn’t departed Hornton Street yet, that is. As it is, we do wonder if this guy might happen to have some useful information on the Grenfell Tower refurbishment to pass on to the Grenfell Inquiry?


THINK have not, apart from Ms Kokkinou, Ms Quinn and. ” John P” , singled the suits out for criticism here, but this blog and many of our social housing residents are still very much in the dark as to who mosr of them are and where their responsibilies lie .

Despite many steps forward; new suits and staff, proactive approaches and improvements to fire safety, more openness at meetings, the return of the Tenants Consultative Committee and more positive attitudes from councillors and suits, there is still a very long way to go .

We would rather the council, rather than all the constant PR which is of very little use, concentrated its social housing communications efforts on letting tenants and leaseholders know who is in charge of what,and who they can contact concerning the many various bousing issues. Most residents do not have the time or energy to sit through hours of council meetings to get relevant information and neither should they have to.

Many are left sending emails to their ward councillors or going to their surgeries when the councillors cannot always help, posting on social media , asking Kim Taylor -Smith about everything, or else banging their heads against a brick wall.

The few residents who know who their housing officers are can go to them, but many of these officers are already overloaded with work, and a few others (especially some of the ex-TMO ones in the north) seem to do little to nothing to help.

Some of us did suggest ages ago that RBKC allocates each resident and gives them contact details of , a housng team – and not put the entire load on one or two officers, when there are obviously others who can help – but tbis fell on deaf ears.

Residents have been failed and are still being failed, by the failure of this council to be open, direct and accountable to the public – and without making reforms to their communications regarding our social housing, RBKC will only be further failing others.

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