Wornington Green trees to face axe tomorrow

We apologise to our readers for the technical difficulties with our blog, but we have only heard this news today. THINK are sad to be the bearers of bad news for our community, and especially because yet again, North Kensington residents and their needs have been completely disregarded.

It appears that Catalyst Housing are determined to go ahead and fell the much-needed and loved London plane trees at Wornington Gteen Estate, North Kensington.The word is, they will be cutting down the trees tomorrow morning.

Despite numerous objections and protestations from residents, North Kensington Labour councillors, environmental campaigners and even the RBKC Leadership changing their tune on this, heartless and greedy Catalyst have turned a blind eye and will go ahead with their environmentally destructive masterplan (approved hy the RBKC Planning Committee by just one vote 10 years ago), despite it being out of date and in the face of so much local opposition.

The housing association does say that that while the trees are much-needed, so are new homes, so we’ll inform our readers of just how many extra homes for social rent will be provided by this; ONLY TWO – and no, this is not a typographical error. The rest will be unaffordable flats with a starting price upwards of at least £600,000.

The only minor effort at listening to and working with the comnunity that Catalyst did ever make on this was to look at a few of the trees with the council ( but only after this meeting: https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/wornington-green-catalyst-scheme-not-up-to-scratch-as-residents-and-councillors-hiss-about-loss-of-trees/) and see if they could be moved to Athlone Gardens.

Not exactly a solution to the problem, but sadly this won’t work out as a few weeks back, three of the trees had been due to be moved, but the plans were abandoned, and Wornington Green residents later received these letters:

So the trees would not survive the move, plus this now means a total of 40 trees will be chopped down for the next phase of this development, depriving the locals of greenery, wildlife, beauty and a “green lung”, in a polluted and very built up part of Golborne Ward, North Kensington, which is already desperately lacking in green space.

We think Catalyst ought to stop, listen, and work with – not against – the community and make some effort to come up with alternative plans which would work out for the area, the environment and all concerned , rather than go down this unpopular path of destruction, but we don’t imagine they’d ever really listen to us. After all, they have been ignoring their own residents around here for years….

Nevertheless, THINKers will be out taking our morning exercise in support of the residents and for keeping the trees, at Wornington Green Estate tomorrow, Monday the 1st of March, (by Watts House car park, near the Venture Centre W10 5QG) from 8:30am onwards.

We thoroughly recommend that other locals do so too; it might be the last chance to enjoy the trees and wildlife before Catalyst’s bulldozers and chainsaws come.

Good news as Johnny Thalassites listens to residents and extends Planning Application feedback deadlines

THINKers did not get to enjoy any pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and with Covid-19 and lockdown, there certainly weren’t any Mardi Gras celebrations round here.

Instead, along with several others , we were “flipping out” because the RBKC Planning portal of the website was not working, leaving many residents unable to send their responses in to the two controversial Planning Applications, with the deadlines looming.

Fortunately, Cllr Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment, did respond to both residents, local groups and concerned councillors, apologised on social media and has extended the deadlines.

– The deadline for responses to the Old Brompton Road, Earl’s Court Planning Application has been extended to Thursday the 25th of February.

Here are the details of the Planning Application:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?adv=0&simple=00272&simpleBatch=20&simSubmit=Search&id=PP/21/00272&cn=262171+DP9+100+Pall+Mall+London+&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1#tabs-planning-5

And people can send in their feedback to RBKC Planning Officers using this reference: PP/21/00272 to planning@rbkc.gov.uk

– The deadline for responses to the South Kensington Station redevelopment Planning Application has been extended to Friday the 26th of February

Here are the details of the Planning Application :

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?adv=0&simple=south+kensington+station&simpleBatch=20&simSubmit=Search&id=PP/20/03216&cn=257655+DP9+Ltd+100+Pall+Mall+LONDON+020+7004+1700&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1

And people can send in their feedback to RBKC Planning Officers using this reference :PP/20/03216 to planning@rbkc.gov.uk

The Kensington Society have raised some concerns about both Planning Applications posted on From The Hornets Nest here:

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2021/02/members-we-apologise-that-first-email.html?m=1

Our blog will be posting more regarding our objections to the South Kensington Station redevelopment soon, and here is our previous post about it:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/09/04/going-down-the-tube-south-kensington-station-proposals-are-a-one-way-ticket-to-over-development/

With regards to RBKC and responding to residents, let’s just say we’ve not always been the biggest fans of our council to put it mildly, but the good communication and quick response from Cllr Thalassites is at least, is a step in the right direction, so credit where credit is due and our thanks go to him for listening and responding to residents well over this. Let’s see more of the same positive behaviour from others at RBKC please.

Edenham/Trellick Tower controversy as locals and campaigners oppose RBKC new homes

Q: When are new homes proposed by RBKC in North Kensington welcome and when are they not welcome?

A: They are not welcome when they fly in the face of ,the local outdoor environment,, a world-famous listed building, a local art space and legal graffiti wall, when the council tries to up support by misleading and muddling affordable housing with social housing, and very importantly, goes against the wishes of what the majprity of local residents actually want there.

Despite the fact that only 35% of residents actually support building new homes on the Edenham site, by Trellick Tower in Golborne Ward, North Kensington, RBKC is still having further consultations on the matter and there will be an online Zoom meeting at 10:30am tomorrow. Link here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/housing/new-homes-consultation/edenham

Residents can also complete the online feedback form included on link by Thursday the 25th of March.

So for some RBKC councillors and suits who seem to have their fingers in their ears, we’ll just remind them of sone of the residents’ comments from the last consultation :

With regards to views of Trellick Tower, RBKC claim to be in touch with the 20th Century Society, but a few days ago, the 20th Century posted this on Twitter:

THINK are very sorry for obscuring the view of Erno Goldfinger’s Brutalist masterpiece with the “graffiti” in our picture, but perhaps that’s what RBKC might end up doing with buildings if these proposals do go ahead .

Just in case RBKC hasn’t quite got the message just yet , readers can join local residents, THINKers and the 20th Century Society by signing and sharing this petition here, calling on RBKC to protect the art and outdoor space by Trellick Tower and say no to lucury flats here:

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-kensington-and-chelsea-council-protect-trellick-tower-s-art-and-outdoor-space-and-say-no-to-more-luxury-flats?redirect=false

Outdoor space is very precious to residents in Golborne Ward, who have very little of it in comparison to those of us elsewhere in North Kensington who live very closely to parks. Here, posted on Twitter, are a few views from more local residents:

Here is a response from RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith;

As for homes, yes, we do need more homes in the borough, but there is a real severe shortage of social housing in this borough,but any residents who are only supporting these proposals for that reason may be in for disappointment too:

Thanks to Joe Halewood (who also writes the. excellent Speye Joe blog https://speyejoe2.wordpress.com/ ) for the clarification. We never seem to get a straightforward answer from RBKC on this most of the time, and we think some at our council have been very misleading for referring to housing that most social housing residents and those on the waiting list will never be able to afford to live in. These councillors, suits and officers – or rather liars – who have mislead people – “social/affordable” housing indeed – ought to be deeply and thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour.

Of course, Edenham isn’t the only site that is being consideted, and RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith has said that there will be other sites considered in the future too, including one in Chelsea;, so this is far from the one and only opportunity that the council has to build more housing.

THINKers stand with our friends in Golborne Ward, and we believe RBKC need to abandon this and think again. They are here to serve us, and the wellbeing, best interests and views of our residents must always come first.

We really fear a return to the bad days of pre-Grenfell RBKC when the council ignored and disregarded the views of the community and ploughed ahead regardless, but if RBKC continue to go ahead with more consultations and PR exercises on this , it indicates that they have made the decision already, and from hearing that the outdoor space at the base of Trellick Tower has been fenced off, that appears to be exactly back where we are heading….

Not all hearts and flowers in Earl’s Court as Delancey delivers unwanted “Valentine’s gift”

We wish our more romantic-minded readers a belated Happy Valentine’s Day.

The 14th of any month, for Grenfell reasons, is never a happy time for us and many others in the north of the borough. So we took some time out from our work, and our thoughts yesterday were with the 72 people who lost their lives in the fire, their friends and relatives, the survivors and all affected in our community. We will of course, be posting about some of the serious issues to do with Grenfell and cladding this week, but for now, this blog is heading south to Earl’s Court and an urgent planning matter:

Thanks to Delancey, residents in the south of the borough may also be feeling downhearted for other reasons right now too. Look at this:

Earl’s Court Ltd (Delancey) picture of the proposed block

The reason why, is because Delancey, have submitted plans for a big 9 storey block with office space and flats , none of which will be for social rent, in Old Brompton Road, on the site of the former Tournament Pub.

Despite getting hopes up by saying a few sweet nothings that they would listen to the community since they purchased the Earl’s Court site from Capco, Delancey now appear to be in the act of replacing an unpopular and unimaginative masterplan full of tower , blocks offices and luxury flats, with… ….yet more unpopular and unimaginative plans for tower blocks, offices and luxury flats.

The height of the building is out of scale and is inappropriate for the area, the area has plenty of expensive flats already and really needs more social housing, and residents fear that this will just be the beginning of Earl’s Court being filled with skyscrapers, making pollution worse (pollution levels in Earl’s Court are the highest in the UK at 3 times the WHO limit), the ruination of conservation areas and site and provision of little more than unaffordable flats and a few offices.

The planning application originally had a deadline for last Friday, but local Earl’s Court Lib Dem Cllr Linda “Wonderwoman” Wade did ask for the council to extend it, as did Amanda Frame, Chair of the Kensington Society

Our readers can see more about the Planning Application here:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/planning/searches/details.aspx?adv=0&simple=00272&simpleBatch=20&simSubmit=Search&id=PP/21/00272&cn=262171+DP9+100+Pall+Mall+London+&type=application&tab=tabs-planning-1#tabs-planning-5

But as people can see from our previous post, the RBKC website isn’t working properly , so if anyone wants to submit responses, they will have to keep their fingers crossed and send them here:

planning@rbkc.gov.uk

With this reference:
PP/21/00272

RBKC, this is beyond unacceptable and it is understandable that some residents are growing suspicious.

As for the rest of the Earl’s Court site, many are dreading what Delancey may have in store, but what THINK supports are the alternative plans from the Save Earl’s Court campaign fot a green replacement for the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. provision of more open green space and for homes – especially new much-needed social housing – on the site. We believe the Save Earl’s Court alternative plans would help local businesses (and they have suffered badly since the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre was torn down and have taken an even bigger hit thanks to Covid-19) , recover and thrive as well as encourage new businesses there, provide much-needed social housing in our borough and provide green space – a real “heart” in the Earl’s Court community and would make the area a real destination again:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/

But Delancey appear to have other ideas, and seem to be determined to fly in the face of what residents really want and need and what is actually best for the area. We’ve seen enough of arrogant and tone deaf developers flying in the face of surrounding communities, so it’s time someone got them to stop and have a rethink.

As for RBKC, we have yet to hear a reply from Cllr Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Cabinet Member for Planning, Place and the Environment as to why the website isn’t working properly and we very much hope that the issues are resolved and the deadline is extended.

Residents deserve far better than to be shut out of the Planning process and the Earl’s Court area deserves far better than to be left with a broken heart.💔

Tech errors on the RBKC Planning website? Or something much more sinister?

Many residents have, in recent times, found it impossible to comment or object on the Planning Applications portal of the RBKC website.

We’ve unfortunately experienced issues with our submissions not being received too, but then again, the council does have previous form for banning our website before, so that might not be so much of a surprise in our case, but we heard from others who tried and failed to get through on the RBKC Planning portal yesterday too.

Here is an example of how the council website rejected some residents’ submissions :

Perhaps it mistook Planning objections for Valentine’s messages?!

It’s ridiculous after increases in the RBKC Communications budget by around 400%, they can’t even get their website to wotk properly!

But can’t or won’t, we wonder?

THINK cannot help but feel slightly suspicious when this always seems to happen every time that Planning Applications of a rather controversial nature come up. Funny coincidence that.

And if course, if a certain number of objections are not received, there won’t be public meetings of the Planning Committee and discussions and a vote – and the application will go through quietly , in the presumption that hardly anyone opposes it.

Whatever the case, we believe ALL residents should have their fair, rightful and legitimate say in the planning process and that certainly shouldn’t be taken away from any of us by RBKC’s utter incompetence.

For now we will just assume that it is a technical fault and not something much more sinister (as in friends in high places and brown envelopes) going on, have some words and give RBKC’s well-oiled PR machine some publicity they really didn’t want.

So we ask to RBKC to fix their tech problems pronto, and importantly, to extend the deadlines for responses to ALL Planning Applications for 3 weeks and at least a fortnight after the tech issues are fixed – plus a public statement and apology from Cllr Johnny “Bambi” Thalassites,RBKC Cabinet Member for Planning, Place and the Environment wouldn’t go amiss either.

We have also seen this from Planning Resource, which would seem to suggest that Bambi and Strategic Developments Team Leader suit Martin Lomas are trying to run before they can walk. Pioneering digitisation? How about getting the actual basic website to work properly first?

https://www.planningresource.co.uk/article/1695156/planning-teams-pioneering-digitisation.

For a bit nore background on the Planning Applications, our readers can, before our follow -up posts later, see this from the Kensington Soicety in From The Hornets Nest: http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2021/02/members-we-apologise-that-first-email.html?m=1

Frustrated residents can email in responses to the applications here instead:

planning@rbkc.gov.uk

Giving the references for South Kensington Tube Station here : PP/20/03216

And Earl’s Court here: PP/21/00272

Yes, both are still open to responses – for now anyway. THINKers will make a VERY big noise if our council tries to shut residents down.

Oh and just in case Native Land and Delancey are sitting there rubbing their hands, thinking it’s all “systems go”, both of these controversial applications will also be individually featuring in our blog next…

Yet another RBKC inclusivity fail: This time a consultation on a new Housing Allocations policy

Dear oh dear. On the day right after when RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith mentioned to one of us that our council was going to have a consultation on a new (about time!) Housing Allocations policy, a resident shared this letter with us , which shows that RBKC and consultants Newman Francis never intended to hold a wide, fair and proper consultation on such an important issue. Only a handful of our council housing residents actually received one of these letters:

We don’t think residents were randomly picked out of a hat, but what we do know is this was obviously not meant to be shared widely. THINK are guessing that the role of consultants Newman Francis in this is to use this initial consultation, picking out a “focus group” of some residents, so they can predict which views people will give and formulate a more general survey later this year to direct people towards certain responses that the council may prefer.

Too bad for RBKC that some of the residents who received such a letter believe that EVERYONE should have a fair say on this.

It also explains something about the layouts, formats and questions in a number of previous council consultation surveys.

Well we thoroughly disagree with this highly unfair and narrow approach to policymaking, and in the spirit of inclusivity we are sharing widely so ALL RBKC tenants and leaseholders can submit their views about what they think the changes to the Housing Allocations Scheme should be, if they want to, to Newman Francis at rbkc@newmanfrancis org

(There is also a telephone survey but we’re getting sick and tired of box ticking and we wouldn’t recommend it.)

But some residents may not want to take part, as we can also reveal a bit more about Newman Francis Ltd, marketing consultants specialising in housing and regeneration. Since 2013, supposedly “independent” Newman Francis have been hired by Catalyst Housing to get community support for the regeneration of the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington. Catalyst and Newman Francis attemped to pull wool over people’s eyes, not everyone was fooled and the masterplan is still very controversial today, not least because 37 valued pollution-absorbing mature London plane trees are set to be cut down in order to build luxury flats.

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/wornington-green-catalyst-scheme-not-up-to-scratch-as-residents-and-councillors-hiss-about-loss-of-trees/

So this is perhaps a CONsultation exercise; conning people into thinking they are getting something good for them and their community when the opposite is the case.

We have this to say to Kim “Tailored Sloth” and Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell:

All the nice little promises and warm words; about change at RBKC, about wanting greater resident involvement, co-designing, creating stronger communities etc. are about as reliable, accurate and trustworthy as a fake Rolex bought in a used car lot from a dodgy salesman.

You might as well drop the sales patter, because residents who truly care about our borough and communities, are certainly not buying it. Your actions and inactions speak volumes about how you REALLY work.

RBKC gives residents without RAs the back alley treatment

RBKC does like to go on about increasing resident involvement, but how does reducing what was meant to be another branch of the Tenants Consultative Committee to a separate lesser talking shop, where the residents do not get properly consulted with, really live up to that?

The Tenants Consultative Committee – TCC is a very useful forum for RBKC tenants and leaseholders where they meet with the council, bring up various housing issues and are consulted with on housing policy.

Back in 2017, some residents including us, called for a branch of the TCC to be set up for residents living in street properties, small blocks and estates without a residents association.

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

So the “TCC Homes Group” was formed . We actually thought the council was listening.

As anyone can see by the tone of that 2017 blog post, while we certainly welcomed the reinstatement of the TCC (which had been previously scrapped by Rock Feilding-Mellen) we certainly didn’t welcome RBKC treating some of their tenants and leaseholders without RAs as second class citizens by leaving them out.

And that’s exactly what RBKC are still doing; they have separated the Homes Group from the TCC (when it was meant to be a branch of it), and members of the Homes Group do not receive the same level of consultation as the TCC. In fact there is no information shared with the Homes Group that isn’t publicly shared at the RBKC Housing and Communities Select Committee meetings.

The council also failed to invite other eligble residents or advertise it in their numerous publications or on social media.

So there is no point in us being involved with it anymore. As experienced campaigners, we have seen more than our fair share of pointless meetings which do not go anywhere or achieve very little. We did not call for the Homes Group to be set up only for RBKC to go and separate it completely from the TCC and turn it into an inferior miniscule group where residents aren’t consulted with to the same degree.

Here is an infographic from yesterday’s RBKC Leadership Team meeting:

And here is our more accurate reworking of it:

RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith has previously moaned about seeing the same faces at meetings all the time. Well we have a few answers to him. First of all, most residents do not have the time, energy or inclination to be going to so many meetings. Most of those who do attend regularly are either members of RAs or other local groups such as conservation groups or campaign groups, wbose business it is to attend. Secondly, if Cllr Taylor-Smith would really like to see new faces and hear more from others at council meetings, then his council isn’t exactly going about that the right way by reducing consultation with some of their council residents.

As for why the council would want to do this, Kim Taylor-Smith has been suggesting that RBKC looks at older , harder to maintain, “more costly” council properties and considers selling them off. (As some London councils , notably Hackney have done in the past and also some housing associations, notably Notting Hill Genesis) .

Giving residents of these properties any sort of real say would no doubt be an obstacle to any little “regeneration on the quiet” plans RBKC may have in store in future.

It’s a ridiculous situation when RBKC talks and talks about ways to increase resident involvement when they are actually in the act of decreasing it and deliberately so. They’re not fooling us one bit; we judge them by their deeds and not their words.

Covidiots, celebrities and our community

Pop singer Rita Ora (pictured above) grew up in North Kensington, so therefore some locals might have hoped she would have  at least some degree of consideration for our local community

But not so. Because back on November the 28th, Ms Ora decided to have her birthday party at Casa Cruz restaurant in Clarendon Road, North Kensington right in the middle of lockdown.

Last Thursday , a review of the RBKC Licensing Committee brought by the Police and Council Licensing Officers heard how that the breach was not in dispute by all parties. The point of dispute at the review hearing was regarding what action should be taken.

Chair of the Committee, Cllr Sof McVeigh explained that the options for actions the Licensing Committee could take, did not include fines, but were these:

Police had attended Casa Cruz after reports of people going in there though the back door and of loud music, could not gain entry tp tue premises but could see at least five partygoers and a man behind the bar through gaps in the window coverings. Council Licensing officers had tried and failed to gain entry to the property too.

When Police eventually got in contact with Scottie Bhattarai, the General Manager of the restaurant at the time, he admitted that Ms Ora had paid him £5,000 to use the premises for her gathering, he admitted that he knew he was fully in breach of the Coronavirus regulations and had said he was there as a staff member facilitating the events. Both the CCTV footage of that night and the hard drive had also been wiped.

Nicholas Fallows, Director of Casa Cruz Holdings and Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) had not apparently been aware of the incident until being contacted by the media. His legal representative said that Mr Bhattarai was no longer the General Manager at Casa Cruz and that the resaurant wiuld be prepared to work with Licensing. It was heard that before the hearing, the company had offered to improve and upgrade the CCTV system and Mr Bhatturai was barred from the premises.

Among the 44 supporters of Casa Cruz was Labour Cllr for Notting Dale Marwan Elnaghi acting as a local councillor and in his role as Chair of Nottingwood House RA, Cllr Elnaghi (who perhaps ought to have considered his role as Chairman pf the RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Committee – and the subject of public health in the local community before deciding speak up for the restauramt on this), had said that many of the residents in his block feel that the restaurant has added value to our neighbourhood” and that they’ve never had any complaints overall on the past five years regarding the operations of the business.

But it was admitted by the company ‘s legal representatives to the Committee under questioning, that Mr Bhattarai is still an employee of the restaurant holdings company and is currently working at Casa Cruz’s sister restaurant Isabel in Albemarle Street, Mayfair. Our look on Conpanies House shows that DPS of Casa Cruz Mr Fallows is listed as a director at both restaurants.

While we (and one of us lives very locally to Casa Cruz), do not have any other issue other than this with the restaurant, it is a serious breach, an endangerment of public health and while we do not support the revokation of their licence for this one incident , do hope the Committee and the Police do not simply give them a slap on the wrist over this and certainly there are questions to be asked about the holding company and their judgement if they still consider a senior employee responsible for such a breach to still be worthy of their employment.

In a statement on her Instagram account, Covidiot Ora later posted this:

Ms Ora, whose whose hit records have incuded “How We Do (Party) ” and “Anywhere”, had also previously broken Covid rules back in November aftet faliing to self isolate after a trip to Egypt. She is currently in mandatory quarantine in Australia.

But apologies from her don’t really cut it, especially when, despite being on the other side of the world, Ms Ora may be still in the act of endangering locals in North Kensington – a Covid hotspot – and sbowing our community even more disregard, as we have heard that only the other week, Police had to break up a videoshoot filming, made by people working for her, on the Walkways of the Lancaster West Estate, right by Grenfell.

Arrogant and ignorant celebrities with more money than sense who think they can blatantly ignore the rules and those who bend and break the rules for them are just as bad as the Covid tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist brigade in our opinion ; all are putting our health at risk and the death toll in the UK from Covid -19 is now at over 100,000.

The message to Holland Park resident Covidiot Rita Ora, who also had a number one record back in 2012 with “RIP”, is that the rules really ought to be clear to her; when she is here that means STAY AT HOME – and that goes for her entourage too.

RBKC consultation and the beginning of the end for Kensal Library?

Some of us who had hoped that when North Kensington Library in Ladbroke Grove, was saved, that this would be an end to any council plans for closures of our local libraries for good, have been surprised that RBKC have recently decided to hold a public consultation on the future of Kensal Library in North Kensington.

THINKers ourselves do not use Kensal Library nearly as much as we do North Kensington Library – our nearest – or Kensington Central – the biggest; but that is not the point:

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/kensal-library/

Some residents who are regular users of Kensal Library in Golborne Road have expressed their concerns. One young family told us that they live near Kensal Library and go there regularly, that it is great for activities for young children, and that they do not have the time to always travel on the bus further south.

Another resident pointed out that Kensal Library is wheelchair accessible when some of the other libraries in our borough still fully aren’t.

But RBKC ‘s consultation is doing this by a general borough survey which asks residents all over the borough how often they use use Kensal Library, so we fear the result of this will able closure as most outside North Kensington will not be users of (and some may have not even have heard of ) Kensal Library .

And that again misses the point; that being that our borough is diverse and various different Libraries are used in many different ways by our different residents with various different backgrounds, lifestyles and needs and that this big general survey across the entire borough will only end up ignoring the needs of the residents living close to Kensal Library – including quite a lot of North Kensington’s most vulnerable residents.

(We have put a link to the survey at the end as we suggest that others read this post in full first before responding. )


Kensal Library is also historically and culturally significant to North Kensington as this is where the archives for Kelso Cochrane, an innocent black Antiguan resident who was stabbed to death in a racist attack by white youths in 1959, right around the corner in Southam Street are kept. (And our readers can see more about the background , racial community tensions in 1950s North Kensington, and the legacy after Kelso’s unsolved murder at these links :

https://www.ourmigrationstory.org.uk/oms/murder-in-notting-hill

www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/horrific-murder-kelso-cochrane-notting-18257872.amp

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/apr/14/turbulent-times-kelso-cochrane ).


Back to the survey and here is more of what the council says in their consultation :

The Libraries and Archives Service at Kensington and Chelsea is taking steps to improve and develop its offer, with a focus on the usage of Kensal Library. The Council is now beginning the conversation with local people and users of Kensal Library to hear their views on how the library could be improved, specifically around how a local community or voluntary group could partner with the Council to expand the offer available at the library. Our ‘social investment’ policy aims to ensure that we use our local resources – including library buildings – to provide the maximum benefit for our communities. We want to continue to provide a high-quality service and meet our responsibilities as a Council service, to contribute to the priorities and commitments to local residents.

Cllr Pat Mason, Leader of the RBKC Labour Group and one of the local Golborne councillors told us that RBKC had sought to close the Library and that the community with the local Golborne Labour councillors had successfully fought against tbis 10 years ago.

RBKC do keep saying how much they have changed, but the then councillor who first suggested that Kensal Library should be run by volunteers was none other than disgraced former RBKC Deputy Leader Rock Feilding-Mellen. So it’s not unreasonable for some residents to wonder who does keep putting tbis on the agenda, the motives, and if other local libraries in the borough will be safe in time to come.


Many of our local libraries will have been closed due to Covid-19 but our residents do look forward to times when they will be able to use then again . Libraries are not just about books, they are valuable free places of learning, activities, media resources, archives – real community hubs. We do understand that in these difficult times RBKC will be looking for places to make savings and cut costs, but closing Kensal Library will be a slap in the face to North Kensington . Closing this library – or any other library – will be an act of depriving reaidents of valued community space and free resources and services. We need them.

We ask RBKC to think again

Here is the consultation survey – which closes on February the 21st:

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/kensal-library/