Grenfell, RBKC, KCTMO, our housing and a man with some information

Today, Module 3 of the Grenfell Inquiry has  begun and our thoughts have been with all the survivors , the bereaved and affected residents in our North Kensington community.

. The Inquiry today heard opening statements from legal representatives of BSRs, as well as legal representatives from RBKC and from KCTMO. The video and the papers are at this link https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/hearings/module-3-opening-statements-29-march-2021

Our blog has uncovered one man  who may have sone information to share with the Inquiry as well as information to share with others at the present RBKC Housing team. Meet John Parsons AKA  the mysterious “John P” as featured in our previous blog post about some RBKC suits here

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/01/23/the-intriguing-and-infuriating-case-of-the-rbkc-housing-invisible-suits/

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Most of us – including some senior RBKC councillors – have never heard of John Parsons. He has been here for 20 years, starting at KCTMO as a Landscape Surveyor, working his way up to Property Systems Analyst before becoming Technical Services Manager at the discredited KCTMO, and then at RBKC Housing, where he still remains today.

Just in case anyone is still in the dark as to what Mr Parsons’ responsibilities were and still are, , we found this from the KCTMO Link magazine, back in September 2016 here:

That’s right, Mr Parsons was and is repsonsible for logging, keeping and managing data on all RBKC and former TMO housing stock and has been so for at least the past TEN YEARS.

So we hope that Mr Parsons is called to the Grenfell Inquiry in this module to share what information he may have about the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and the acrions  and inactions of both RBKC and KCTMO during that time. 

So far, the only mention of  evidence from Mr Parsons at the Grenfell Inquiry  we have found have  been these emails from Phase 1: 

So many questions  go through our minds , especially because it appears from what we have heard so far at the Grenfell Inquiry  that there  wasn’t a particularly “sophisticated ” location mapping system in place  when the KCTMO was responsible for the management of Grenfell Tower. 

We do have to state that our blog is obviously aware that the  responsibility for logging conditions of properties and refurbishments falls on the shoulders of more than just one person.

However we have noticed even in¬† that¬† little KCTMO Link article that a couple¬† of¬† things Mr Parsons says there aren’t¬† true . For example there were no regular electrical checks on¬† most of the KCTMO properties¬† they were managing at that time. In fact, RBKC only started having regular electrical checks on properties a couple of years ago . And residents having¬† ¬†“new kitchens and bathrooms” is a lie too. Maybe someone was feeding Mr Parsons false information?¬† Or maybe there was a whole chain of wrong information?

So with regards to Grenfell, we have so many questions……..

 Getting to the bottom of everything that happened at Grenfell  of course,  is the job of the Inquiry and not us,  but we do have sone other questions that we want to put to Kim Taylor-Smith, RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Grenfell and Housing and RBKC Director of Housing Management Doug Goldring. 

Back in December 2017,  at the first meeting of the Tenants Consultative Commitee since it was reinstated, Doug Goldring told residents that the council was going to  undertake an assessment of all their housing stock, and that RBKC was “only just finding out ” what conditions properties were in. So we want to know what Mr Parsons, the man whose job it was to record this, knew all this time ? 

The fact that  what Mr Goldring  said to residents was basically an admission by the council that KCTMO did  not do a terribly good job of recording the conditions of our housing stock really begs the question ,why Mr Goldring and Cllr Taylor-Smith kept  a man who by the looks of things had failed to record this properly, in his post?

At a fairly recent meeting of the RBKC Housing and Communities Committee, Cllr Robert Freeman asked Mr Goldring to guarantee that the council would not return to the “bad old days of the TMO” – because not all residents- including us- are convinced that our council has moved forwards; we think their decision to retain the services of¬† Mr Parsons is rather questionable – retaining the setivices of a senior KCTMO employee who appears to have serious questions to answer about Grenfell Tower as well as questions to answer with regards to what he did or did not know or report about conditions of neglected housing stock hardly demonstrates a break from the troubled past…

We really hope to get answers on this and  are deeply disturbed by the lack of openness from our council As far as we know Mr Parsons has not been before the Housing Committee once

So we will see what happens and wait for answers, as well as ask Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring and others at RBKC to give the reassurance that the housing management under  RBKC is different to that of KCTMO , to be more open with us and provide  answers to our questions.

Our community lost 72 innocent people in Grenfell Tower and we deserve to know the truth, as well as to know that RBKC is not managing (or mismanaging) our homes the same way the KCTMO did. Some proposed new changes to RBKC tenancy agreements (coming soon on this blog ) seem to do a lot of  finger pointing at residents and throwing responsibilities on to them , but many of us feel that the council ought  to get its own house in order first

The long road to Grenfell Recovery, the lack of proper Scrutiny and the people left behind

This is Sheila Durr, she used to be Director for Communities and People at RBKC and was supposed to be the Humanitarian Lead for the Grenfell Recovery here. .

We say ‚Äúsupposed to‚ÄĚ because Ms Durr was quite possibly one of the most useless suits ever to serve at RBKC ,and is “best” remembered for her role in the axing of a much-needed  and missed night service for traumatised members of our community: standing there and doing nothing while a fight between traumatised residents  broke out at The Curve, and for completely ignoring emails from  numerous concerned residents, including us .

Do-Nothing Durr left Hornton Street in October 2019, after 2 years , in which many residents in our local community were largely ignored, she spent nearly a year as a Senior Consultant at Surrey County Council before heading up north to Bury Council, where worryingly for residents there, she has been the Executive Director for Children and Young People for the past 5 months.Residents under her duty there have our  sympathies.

Back at a meeting of the (sadly since scrapped by our council in 2019) RBKC Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, Sheila Durr had mentioned ‚ÄúTogether For Grenfell‚ÄĚ which nobody in the room bar the suits ‚Äď had heard of! One of us asked which groups were involved in this organisation and for an explanation of exactly what it is and Ms Durr responded by saying that it was a consortium of local organisations such as Al Manaar, Al Hasaniya and Midaye.

To  more recent times , and RBKC was having a consultation NEARLY FOUR YEARS AFTER GRENFELL about adult health and emotional wellbeing support services in the community. Here is what RBKC said in their consultation blurb: 

Since the Grenfell tragedy, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has commissioned a range of community based emotional health and wellbeing support services in North Kensington from the voluntary sector for adults. These have included those under the ‚ÄėTogether for Grenfell‚Äô umbrella of providers offering 1:1 and group counselling and wellbeing support for adults.
1:1 and group counselling and wellbeing support for adults.
The aims of the Together for Grenfell project is to support isolated community members whose emotional health and well-being had been affected by the Grenfell tragedy, targeting community members who did not feel comfortable or able to access mainstream services. The offer is personalised and built around the assessed needs of the local population and individuals. As a result, the key elements of the offer include:
  • culturally appropriate services delivered in languages spoken by the community 
  • collaboration and partnership with local partners to integrate culturally appropriate services into the mainstream health offer 
  • support delivered in community settings familiar to local residents, at flexible times that suit them 
We are now two years into the Council’s five-year Grenfell Recovery Strategy and we are interested in understanding people’s views on these services, broader services accessed and planning additional services. This consultation is seeking insight from those who live, work and learn in the borough on how we can:
This consultation is seeking insight from those who live, work and learn in the borough on how we can:
  • Best deliver the new arrangements under the Together for Grenfell umbrella
  • Deliver new initiatives for adults in the community until 2024, which create opportunities for local people to lead their own support, developing and enhancing existing models of support that help people build resilience through social support networks.developing and enhancing existing models of support that help people build resilience through social support networks.
screenshot_20210327-171532

We are left wondeting why was the ‚ÄúTogether For Grenfell‚ÄĚ umbrella so small? Above  is a list of community organisations from Kensington and Chelsea Social Council listed in  a report from 2019  ‚Äď and note that only a tiny handful of them have been included.

Only 3 of these organisations were included in the Together For Grenfell network in fact, and we really want to know why. Perhaps ‚ÄúDo Nothing‚ÄĚ Durr was engrosssed in a riveting game of tiddlywinks at her Hornton Street desk?

The  abolition of the  Grenfell Recovery  Scrutiny  Committee in 2019 left  a big hole in the scrutinisation of the council‚Äôs ‚Äúefforts‚ÄĚ, so many issues as well as individuals and groups  affected unfortunately do not get a look in

The supposed next best thing residents  get is the RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  The section  of the meeting of that earlier this month was supposed to be about scrutinising the dedicated service for the  survivors and the bereaved.  

But Chair  of the Overview amd Scrutiny Committee Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi insisted at the start of the meeting  that she was making it clear it was about about the dedicated service for the survivors and bereaved, but then added ‚Äúthe wider comnunity‚ÄĚ. 

Well, there is no actual dedicated service for the affected local community who are not classified as survivors or bereaved. We hate to repeat ourselves but we are sick and tired of the misleading ‚Äúwider comnunity‚ÄĚ label becaise it appears to have been attached to residents all over RBKC and it ought to-be clearer that residemts of the immediate North Kensington community are obviously suffering from a far more severe level of grief and trauma than residents who live at the other end of the borough  We are disappointed that some councillors appear to be confused about this. Anyway  it was down to Anne Cyron, RBKC Lead Member for Comnunities for clarification and to  be more exacting  and she  did  state that the meeting was specifically about the dedicated service for the survivors and the bereaved.

Several residents and representatives were present at the online meeting, including Kimia from Grenfell Next of Kin and Natasha and Bellal fron Grenfell  United.  It was clear from the meeting that RBKC had failed to contact  a number of bereaved residents and involve then in the service .Kimia gave several examples of this. Some of the bereaved speaking at the meeting said they had not been involved. Perhaps this situation could have been avoided if RBKC had widened their ‚Äúumbrella‚ÄĚ to include the full list of community organisations that KCSC provided a few years ago?   The Grenfell United representatives invited bereaved residents to come along to the Steering Group and get involved. It was obvious that language barriers and communication barriers have prevented some from getting the help and support they needed. 

As for the dedicated service, we do have to say that the feedback we have received from  the survivors and the bereaved on the dedicated service has been largely  very positive, with some praising the efforts of Callum Wilson,  the Director of the service . So not all ‚Äúbad news‚ÄĚ here and we think it is now up to RBKC to broaden their “umbrella” and we hope that we do not see or hear any more instances of people being or feeling  that they are being left out.

But what about scrutinisation of other Grenfell Recovery efforts? Well, there isn‚Äôt  really much of that  and it doesn‚Äôt look like there will be any soon. Anne Cyron said that that other services and community provisions will be scrutinised ‚Äúat a later date‚ÄĚ but did not say when ‚Äď so that likely means never in most cases, and as  for affected younger people, which Cllr  Cyron did briefly mention, that will probably get shoehorned  into the next meeting of the RBKC Family Services Committee. As for the parents and other family members  of  affected children, who knows? 

The council‚Äôs abandonment of  our affected comnunity has led to people suffering in silence and some affected residents like us,  feeling trapped back in some of the worst stages of PTSD  . Sadly , it has also led to unpleasant scenes, and arguments in the community  with some affected people wrongly pointing the finger at other affected people. The fact is, it is RBKC who are to blame for this; and certainly NOT any of  the survivors  or the bereaved who have already been through enough already. They should be and always will be the priority we hope,  and there should be no point of contention about this. The point of contention we have with RBKC‚Äôs approach, is that they have ended up COMPLETELY forgetting about the  affected North Kensington community, trying to fob us off with insubstantial nonsense, and have even been pitting affected residents against others, and community organisations  against others 

Another point  we have to mention is that the council were  heartless and inconsiderate enough to not include older people in their initial. Recovery strategy.  Do they not think older residents exist? Labour Notting Dale councillor Judith Blakeman has constantly  reminded the council of their failure to include and consider older residents  but has been met with very little in the way of response except  for RBKC to seemingly  expect voluntary organistions to pick up the pieces

Other forgotten about affected  residents incude those  who do not live on large  council estates, (including residents in housing co-ops or housing associations, residents in private owned or rented accommnoation and residents who live in temporary accommdoation). 

And, if the language and communication barriers are  still an issue with the bereaved, this is  likely to be an even bigger situation in our community . 

The council just tell affected  people to go to The Curve but quite a lot of people here find the environment there  far too official or clinical ‚Äď something we ourselves feel and others have said they would feel like they would be taking time and resources away from survivors and the bereaved if they did engage with services at The Curve. The council itself admitted back in 2019 that number of residents were not comfortable with it- but they have failed to provide any alternatives for the community specifically and that has  ended up being left to residents

 And this brings us back to that night service again. It was staffed by some NHS professionals as well as staff from local charities Hestia and Blenheim. It was informal, confidential, and people didn‚Äôt have counselling or NHS services forced upon them ‚Äď  but you knew they were there if you wanted to access them .This is a blog with a huge local following so we will not be retraumatising residents by describing what night terrors are, but many other traumatised residents in the community will know exactly what we mean. That night service provided a safe and confidential space to go for residents experiencing these ‚Äď sometimes all someone wants is a safe space, a chat and a cup of tea ‚Äď but apparently for CNWL , West London CCG and RBKC that was too much. Rather than funding this properly, advertising it and  moving it to a more appropriate secular setting, CNWL, West London CCG and  RBKC scrapped it, with  Sheila Durr and former Grenfell Chief Executive  Robyn Fairman ‚Äď another former  suit we don‚Äôt miss ‚Äď  putting the boot in on behalf of the council – they didn’t back this and clearly they didn’t think that caring for traumatised residents was a priority – we reported them repeatedly   trying to axe the service three years ago https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/rbkc-does-u-turn-after-trying-to-axe-grenfell-night-service-for-traumatised-north-kensington-residents-again/

The council, after claiming the night service was poorly attended even though they failed to advertise it, or move to a more suitable¬† setting, didn’t seem to care and it¬† was replaced by a NHS telephone line instead. which we have never used and certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable with ever using. Same goes for many others. And while an in-person service like the much-missed night service due to Lockdown restrictions and Covid would not at the present time¬† be able to¬† function , when restrictions are lifted there will be an increasing need for such services as self isolation has¬† ¬†taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of many in our community too¬† This needs to be looked at again .¬†

Other help in the community has come from many of our community groups, many of which are not always properly  or fairly supported by the council..In recent times of Covid and lockdown , The SPACE, based at Freston Road, North Kensington has been getting help out to residents (a larger number of our residents than ever before due to Covid and the financial crisis require their help) . Due to  a recent outpouring of donations from kind  other residents all around  the borough, staff at The SPACE have informed us that theu  are now running out of actual space to store their donated goods . So we also call on the council to support them and provide then with extra facilities.  This is a valued and popular community-led hub and they deserve to be better supported by the council. 

RBKC like  to say they have always supported The SPACE but their actions have not always matched up to this. Back in pre-Covid times, RBKC even put on ‚Äúrival‚ÄĚ events, at The Curve  imitating the program of activities provided at The SPACE. 

As for other community groups, there are many outstanding local community groups and voluntary organisations and groups in the locality,¬† we will just briefly mention just a¬† tiny¬† handful of them ‚Äď LCAT (Latimer Community Art Therapy) at Henry Dickens Comnunity Centre , Kids On The Green,¬† and Solidarity Sports¬†.

RBKC‚Äôs response has been to pit some of¬† them against other groups which they did in the ‚ÄúGrenfell Projects Fund‚ÄĚ last year, in a tacky game show format, where they had to make a ‚Äúpitch‚ÄĚ much like TV show Dragon‚Äôs Den, and the few residents who got in, voted on their favourites using the same keypads from TV game show ‚ÄúWho Wants To be a Millionaire‚Ä̬† and the successful organisations who received the most votes, receiving the¬† funding. We did not attend, as even though we are friends and supporters of many of the successsful organisations who took part, we felt¬† and still do feel that this format was inappropriate and tasteless.

At THINK, we strongly feel that our  valued community organisations and groups  should not be treated like game show contestants; residents should not be competing against each other, affected members of our community shouldn’t have to jump up and down or go on social media in order to get RBKC to acknowledge that we exist.. The council has failed us over Grenfell Recovery and by not restoring Scrutiny , they are still failing us , and until we get a decent appropriate and fair level of Scrutiny, the successful (and the less successful ) Grenfell Recovery efforts  are analysed, with community feedback, they will further fail us and no lessons will ever be learned.. This requires  is some in depth level of  inclusive discussion about what is working and what is not working.

Unfortunately, as long as supposed Grenfell Scrutiny is  scattered among various council committees and  the general picture of how our community as a whole is affected and what is missing or needed gets properly looked at as a whole, the road to recovery for some will feel  more like a road to nowhere. That is why we are calling for the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee to be reinstated and we invite our local readers to join us by completing and sharing this independent Centre for Governance and Scrutiny survey (it only takes a couple of minutes to complete)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/S9HZ2JG

If RBKC really wants to demonstrate change, they must first learn to listen to our local residents and respond to our concerns; (by the way, these are not  purely personal concerns of the writers of this blog- we spoke to a number of residents, including some community representatives, some survivors, some of the bereaved, some of those in other community or voluntary groups as well as some health professsionals  ‚Äď and sadly the same concerns and issues about people being left behind, about people feeling their voices are not heard, about the lack of Grenfell Scrutiny and about feeling that there was a lack of a dedicated community services for traumatised residents kept coming back).

Change doesn‚Äôt happen overnight and it will take years for our comnunity to recover from the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, but surely  after everything North Kensington residents have been through, this community  at  the very least deserves far  better than to be treated as an afterthought?  

Cromwell Road gets much-needed break as developers withdraw controversial Holiday Inn Forum redevelopment scheme

THINK are very pleased to hear that developers Queensgate and Rockwell have withdrawn their controversial (to say the least) plans to redevelop what is currently the Holday Inn Forum Hotel into a huge hotel and conference centre.

This “South Kensington saga” had been running for a few years, with the developers trying to push their plans through, despite the opposition of the vast majority of local residents, nearly all the residemts groups, local conservation societies, RBKC, most councillors on all sides, renowned architects, environmental campaigners, heritage experts, former Kensington MP ÔĻįEmma ÔĻįDent ÔĻįCoad, present Kensington MP Felicity Buchan – oh – and us

Complete unity in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a complete rarity – but this deeply unpopular scheme, which would have brought years and years on disturbance, pollution (in one of the most polluted areas of the country), blighted heritage sites, ruined both the skyline and streetscape and would have completely ruined the character of the area; managed to bring local representatives – Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, alongside residents who both live locally to the hotel and those who live elsewhere in the borough; all together united against.

Here are a few of our old posts for further background on the matter:

Some good news for South Kensington residents – Holiday Inn Forum redevelopment plans rejected

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

After our last post (and a timeline of what has happened features on this)

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

Deputy Mayor of London Jules Pipe ruled in favour. Both he and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have been completely tone deaf to residents and their decisions have flown in the face of this community and area we say shame on them.

We thought all was lost, but residents and local representatives fought on , and thanks to the efforts of the Stop the Towers campaigners, the local residents associations – especially ACGRA (Ashburn and Courtfield Gardens Residents Association), the Kensington Society, the local Courtfield councillors Greg Hammond, Janet Evans and Quentin Marshall, Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Lead member for Planning, Place and the Environment, as well as Kensington MP Felicity Buchan , the scheme was called in by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick .

On Sunday, THINKers finally heard the fantastic news that Queensgate had decided to “check out” and withdrawn their application. We almost thought this was too good to be true but no – here is the letter.

We are so pleased for the residents and we thank everyone who foughr hard over this. We thank all the objectors, the Kensington Society, the former and present MPs Emma Dent Coad and Felicity Buchan , the council – particularly the local Courtfield councillors and Johnny Thalassites – other councillors who objected including Sina Lari and Linda Wade, and most of all, we thank ACGRA and the Stop The Towers campaigners.

We hope now that any prospective developers who are checking out the site, do think of the community and area first – and remember that the residents and local representatives will have their eyes firmly on what happens next

For now at least, the local community around Cromwell Road can have a much-needed break, content that their hard work fighting this has paid off and that the area is at least finally rid of what would have been a complete monstrosity and never ending nightmare for the South Kensington area and people

We say this ought to be a message for any potential developers to think, listen, look and learn. Please think carefully and listen to locals and also do look carefully at the area first. Please learn from what has happened here and never ever underestimate the power of communities.

Not another survey! (But cagey RBKC REALLY don’t want you to take part in this Scrutiny one)

RBKC often appears to really love surveys – we get them all the time,¬† sometimes until we’re sick to the back teeth of them and get “survey fatigue”, and wonder why we’re bothering. Usually these are surveys in the form of¬† consultations which tend to be structured so people’s answers have to fit into a certain category and that category being one¬† that is more geared towards the council’s preferred option.

This independent survey¬† landed on THINK’s desk recently and despite all the extra council PR, RBKC is very reluctant to¬† publicise and share this survey from the¬† CfGS (Centre for Governance and Scrutiny) with the public¬† for some reason.

There is not long to go,  the deadline is in just over a week, on Wednesday the 31st of March 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/S9HZ2JG

Let’s have a good look at the likely reasons why RBKC seems to be reluctant for people to take part in this survey shall we?

After Grenfell, RBKC commissioned the CFGS (then known as the Centre for Policy and Scrutiny) and the Democratic Society  to undertake research and make recommendations as to how RBKC could  betrer improve  its governance.

Here were the main recomnendations:

  • Adopting 12 principles of good governance, developed from the conversations we had with residents, councillors, officers and partners;
  • Hold a Borough wide conversation to decide the strategic direction and governance arrangements for the council;
  • Establish a citizens‚Äô assembly;
  • Create a ‚Äėlistening committee‚Äô for councillors to hear directly from residents;
  • Establish a commission to, involving residents and partners, to determine the future direction of council governance;
  • Take practical steps to engage with local government full practice;
  • Use the Annual Government Statement as the basis for an ongoing, wider conversation about how governance can be improved.

The full reports can be found here:

https://www.cfgs.org.uk/royal-borough-of-kensington-chelsea/

As for those residents’ surveys, only¬† a small number of residents took part, but the negative findings are very interesting indeed.

So if¬† the findings of this¬† survey are made public , it won’t look terribly good for our council¬† if the responses¬† are the same or worse, which looks to¬† be a possible reason¬† why they’re keeping quiet about it ….

See  this  brilliant insight from Urban Dandy for more:

https://urbandandylondon.com/2019/09/06/rbkcdemocracy/

Sadly the RBKC Leadership decided to fly in the face of this and¬† abolished the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee in 2019.¬† See our old blog posts about that from back then¬† (and¬† the appalling way in which they went about it¬† – including a¬† “phantom” residents conference¬† of only 15 people and telling outright lies regarding how many RAs they had spoken with) here:

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

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/grenfell-scrutiny-and-the-summer-of-our-discontent-part-2-grenfell-committee-gets-the-chop-as-dizzy-lizzy-and-rbkc-lose-their-heads-the-full-council-meeting/

As we feared, all matters related to Grenfell have been scattered¬† among various committees with fewer meetings taking place, or¬† just completely scattered to the wind and forgotten about, so since then, many residents and Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the North Kensington community have been very badly let down at best, or at worst, are treated as if they don’t exist

In fact, since  the Grenfell Committee was abolished, there has been no proper Scrutiny of Grenfell Recovery in the North Kensington community at all.  

We know that¬† some in charge of RBKC¬† – and PR-mad Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell in particular –¬† see¬† some of¬† us in North Kensington as a nuisance or an¬† inconvenience,. Well,¬† we have to tell Dizzy Lizzy and co¬† that our community would prefer not to have lost 72 innocent people in an entirely preventable disaster on our doorsteps and¬† not be affected for the rest of our lives.

So we’re giving our feedback to tbis survey, and that is that we are deeply unhappy¬† and disillusioned with the current state of council governance – who can blame us?

We are also giving feedback that,¬† to¬† help improve governance at RBKC and¬† improve relations with residents and a way to help our community to recover would be to have more Committee meetings to cover issues in full to ensure we are getting the services we need and deserve,¬† ¬†and especially for the council to reinstate the Grenfell Scutiny Committee. We’ll¬† also add¬† in a¬† collection of our blog posts together¬† with our responses for good measure.

THINK are publicising and sharing this survey and we encourage all our local readers to take part too.

Dizzy Lizzy wants to go back to “business as usual” ASAP and¬† will not like us peeing on her “PR parade” one bit, but the council has been defecating¬† on North Kensington for decades. And just look¬† where that got us…..

Wringing the wrong numbers: A poor reception for Shaun Bailey

Conservative London Mayoral candiate, Shaun Bailey, is making a long overdue return to tbis blog today.

The Dame on From The Hornets Nest http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/?m=1 had this to say on him last December:

Over a sandwich lunch, the Dame endured an hour of Bailey talking incoherent rubbish. Not once did he ask a question. He behaved like a mobile phone salesman not the potential mayor of a super city. So we thought we would do the Photoshop honours….

Recently, THINKers received a copy of his election leaflet disguised as a magazine “London Life”

In this publication, Bailey seems very keen to play up his less privileged background in North Kensington …

Here’s what homes in the North Kensington street Shaun Bailey grew up in go for these days:

Rags to riches? But Bailey’s supposed answer to homelessness and the housing crisis in the capital was to ridiculously suggest encouraging London’s 62,670 homeless households (and that official figure doesn’t include “hidden homeless” – people “sofa surfing ” or living in overcrowded households) to apply for shared ownersbip!

No answers as to how cash strapped homeless bouseholds might somehow out of thin air, be able to get the ¬£5,000 deposit together or acknowledgment of the fact at all that unemployed people, those on lower incomes and some who work but do not always have the guaranteed regular level of regular income, wouldn’t be accepted in the first place.

Rightly, fellow Kensington blog The Steeple Times was very scathing about this, calling Bailey “Moron of the Moment”:

https://www.thesteepletimes.com/the-fog/shaun-bailey-homeless/

Here’s more from Shaun Bailey’s political leaflet-disguised-as-a-magazine, an interview with Karren Brady:

Still on housing, he talks about building more supposedly “affordable homes” . Well we have a few of what are deemed as these , built by Catalyst Housing on the regenerated former Wornington Green Estate (now Portobello Square) – another part of North Kensington where Bailey used to live – they start at ¬£600k and many are sitting empty, but hey, who cares, let’s just go and build some more! Like that’s going to solve the ptoblem….

Perhaps he could look into building more SOCIAL housing to help with the homelessness issue? Though it’s clear he isn’t even prepared to bother entertaining that thought and social housing is not mentioned ANYWHERE in this leaflet

Bailey does mention Sadiq Khan spending money on building homes to rent and that he will instead divert the cost for that into homes to buy – but who for?

Also, if Bailey doesn’t want to be “moron of the moment” he might just spare a thought for some of the Londoners who did buy into the dream of owning their own home under the shared ownership scheme, only for that dream to turn to dust, because of costs due to the cladding and fire safety scandal leaving them facing bankruptcy and homelessness (the Fire Safety Bill returns to the Commons today); but no, it appears Mr Bailey has absolutely nothing to say on this – he is merely aspiring to be Boris Johnson’s puppet at City Hall and is perfectly content to sit there while his “master” happily pulls the strings and sends hard-working people down the river…..

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/thousands-trapped-decade-london-cladding-scandal-b917899.html

As for crime prevention, for someone who has masses of experience as a youth worker , Bailey has previously made positive encouraging noises elsewhere about providing 62 new youth centres to help , but where is the money to do this actually going to come from? Who knows, he seems to have completely forgotten about that.

He also seems to have forgotten about this

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2020/02/bail-out-of-bailey.html?m=1

What little the magazine does say of his policies on crime is of him supposedly providing 8,000 more Police Officers. How? He just says he will cut bureaucracy such as offfice costs but fails to say anything more about that. He does mention that he will partly fund this with revenue gained from introducing corporate sponsorship of the tube lines and stations, but this also appears to be the only solution he offers to sort out the TfL financial crisis. Again, no costings, no further details.

As well corporate sponsorship of the tube being a much-loathed and vulgar idea in the eyes of many Londoners (“Coca- Cola Hill Gate Station” anyone? ), Bailey, despite the mentions of where he grew up, again forgets his roots and perhaps ought to be aware of the public outcry and upset around here that happened a few years ago when someone made the suggestion of changing the name of Latimer Road Station .

The outside of Latimer Road is currently about to be redecorated as part of a local arts project, but we guess since he hasn’t been here for years, Bailey doesn’t seem to know or care how offensive and upsetting it would be if green hearts and children’s artwork outside the nearest tube station to Grenfell, the site of our comnunity’s loss, were replaced by garish advertisement signs, billboards and disrespectful name changes. As it is, despite this leaflet/magazine being received right around the corner from Grenfell, there is no mention of Grenfell or any present day acknowledgment of his former community in it at all.

“You’re hired”? We wouldn’t hire Shaun Bailey to run a bath!

His wife Ellie Bailey isn’t standing of course, but obviously his party only just realised just how flimsy and daft Bailey’s supposed policies are, have given up and decided to desperately look for votes by going with the “nice guy” “family man” personality angle.

Just how “hugely passionate” about the environment is Shaun Bailey? His wife doesn’t say apart fron the obvious how bad London’s air is and neither does he. Nothing at all on a subject which many Londoners are genuinely ” passionate” about. .

As for Shaun Bailey in the classroom, it has been reported elsewhere that he was apparently described by a teacher as “gobby and dangerous” – make of that what you will….

Finally we get “9 Questions with Shaun Bailey” Disappointed THINKers saw no burning questions get put to Mr Bailey here, just silly small talk. We’re only surprised they didn’t ask him what his favourite biscuits were….

Also Ellie Bailey might want to send the makers of this leaflet/magazine back to school as they managed to get the year of the election wrong; it’s this year – the 6th of May in fact.

And no, we don’t think he will win.

We think that, with his constant gaffes like this recent one –https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/downing-street-refuses-to-say-stand-by-shaun-bailey-sarah-everard-comments-b923546.html which has appeared to alienate some of those on his own side, the absence of genuine policies and his lack of knowledge over most of the serious issues this city faces, that Shaun Bailey might struggle to scrape second place.

That phone sbop beckons……

Tins of sardines and different kettles of fish

Despite our opposition to the RBKC plans to build 600 new homes on the Edenham site, we may end up supporting the proposals to build new homes on the Silchester Arches site.

It is on a bit of land that is currently not in public use (its being used by the council’s tree surgeon contractors currently) , and, as long as not too dense and not too high, would have very little negative impact on the immediate community? If the counciil (and we hope they are not muddling the terms again here) genuinely mean most of the homes would be for social rent, we will back tbis – THINK are not a bunch of NIMBYS!

Some THINKers indeed live just a five minute walk away.so we will be attending these consultation events. Early days yet, but we will be attending Round 2 of the consultations, finding out more amd having our say. The Zoom chat sessions are on

  • Thursday 25 March, 5.30pm to 6.30pm
  • Saturday 27 March, 10.30am to 11.30am

Here is the link for more information about the site, the presentation, consultations and links to the Zoom chats:

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

We’ll post an update on the blog with further information after the evemt

Let’s just hope that RBKC do listen to nearby residents’ feedback in Notting Dale Ward and genuinely take it on board for this scheme, that they do not build too high or too densely, consider the homes and businesses nearby, and the local environment and green space – this could actually be a positive new addition to our community with more council homes at the end of this one – we’re hearing the right noises about proposals on this site – especially over social housing and family homes (which we have a severe shortage of)

We are reasonably hopeful that this is a completely different kettle of fish to the Edenham “tin of sardines” that residents, despite the opposition, are sadly likely to end up getting in Golborne….

Edenham proposals: Kim “Tailored-Sloth” gives THINK a telling off!

1

Following our last blog post on the subject of the Edenham Site, our Editor  received a  telling off  from RBKC Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Grenfell and Housing over our comments on the posts regarding the way the council muddled social and affordable housing terms.

Here is that blog post again (complete with a proper explanation of the terms  Рreceived via Twitter from Joe Halewood of Speye Joe) :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/edenham-trellick-tower-controversy-as-locals-and-campaigners-oppose-rbkc-new-homes/


This  is the particular part of  our blog post that Cllr Taylor-Smith took exception to:

“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 ‚Äď or rather liars ‚Äď who have mislead people ‚Äď ‚Äúsocial/affordable‚ÄĚ housing indeed ‚Äď ought to be deeply and thoroughly ashamed of their behaviour.”


Well we are sorry to have caused offence to Kim Taylor-Smith and we were not referring to him personally as a liar, but several of the council suits do keep using the misleading term¬† “social/affordable” – and muddling the two –¬† they’re not the same thing. Here is an exact example of what we mean; the RBKC website says: “The majority will be social rent (affordable housing for rent) “

Also some at RBKC do keep interchanging the two terms; again, misleading.

That is not exactly honest behaviour  as some of  what little support (only 35% of residents support the scheme) is based on the provision of  homes for SOCIAL RENT.

So we will not be removing the post; we stand by it and even if some of the council did not perhaps intend  to;   they have been in the act of misleading North Kensington residents about numbers of homes for social rent  on  the proposed  scheme.


Kim “Tailored Sloth” later told us that¬† using the terms together¬† simplifies things and makes it easier for people to understand. Well we beg to disagree – it confuses people.


So to  help clear up confusion , our  calculations show that only around   17.5% of the  homes on the  proposed site would in fact be for social rent


But of course, that is far from the only issue we have¬† with Edenham We are concerned¬† about the high volume of of homes crammed into what is already a very dense built up¬†¬† part of Golborne Ward, the area around there¬† (no thanks to Catalyst Housing and the Wornington Green regeneration) has aleady suffered from over-development and a huge loss of mature trees and green space,¬† some¬† residents are concerned about views of Erno Goldfinger’s¬† Trellick Tower being obscured, others are concerned about loss of light, and of course, the loss of¬† the outdoor space there is very little in the way of outdoor space around that area)¬† and world- famed graffiti area.


We invite our readers  who share some of these concerns, to join us in signing and sharing this petition: 

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


We also¬†have¬† further ¬†concern over the types of homes that would be built on the site, as RBKC’s choice of architects¬†for the scheme are ¬† Haworth Tompkins.


This is the same ¬†Haworth Tompkins who¬† have been in the news for insisting¬† on social segregation in the form of “poor floors” on the tower they plan to build on the site of the former Wood Street Library in Walthamstow.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/walthamstow-tower-block-architect-insists-19871382


We say poor doors, poor floors and social segregation are not welcome,  and most certainly  are not  welcome in our wonderful, diverse community of North Kensington. If some stuck up people want to move here  but do not want to live next to people who just happen to be less well-off, we suggest these snobs go elsewhere.

 

As for building homes, yes – we¬† do get that there is a shortage of homes in the borough, and¬† we do¬† want to see more homes – especially homes for social rent which are in desperate short supply, but no –¬† not at any cost, and that cost being the deterioration of quality of life in the immediate community¬† and environment with people being packed¬†in like sardines.

 

Also the Edenham proposals to build a tower block right in front of another have ended up, as residents living close to Grenfell, giving us nightmares of North Kensington being filled with towers all over the place. Other locals have told us of similar experiences.

But despite a large majority of locals opposed to¬† this, RBKC seem¬† determined to push tbis¬†through and are going¬† to¬† hold more consultations….



Our local readers have until this coming  Friday the 25th of March,  to give feedback  to RBKC on the proposed scheme at this link :

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/new-homes-delivery-programme-edenham-round-2/consultation/subpage.2021-02-08.2119162487/

Anyway¬† this pushiness from our council and their failure to listen to¬† how the majority of¬† community around Trellick Tower¬† really feel about not wanting the proposed development on the Edenham site¬† but instead pushing on regardless ¬† in the hope of talking people¬†who they think are not “getting it”¬† into this, reminded us of a certain sketch featuring the¬†¬† Ken & Kenneth “Suit You Sir” characters¬† from 90’s comedy classic The Fast Show.

We are in need of a laugh, so here is the video, and please, RBKC, Kim “Tailored Sloth” and suits, do not “press on” regardless. Residents are saying this development doesn’t “suit” them or the area. Instead, please¬† “press on” with looking at other sites – and perhaps¬† considering purchasing sites in other parts of the borough, rather than just filling every available¬† scrap of land in North Kensington with tower blocks.

Our Library Saved: 7 Days, 7 talks

THINKers are really looking forward to this Friends of North Kensington Library series of events, which starts from 8pm this evening onwards, featuring open discussions on issues that matter greatly to the North Kensington community as well as some poerty and music performances from local artists.

Saturday 13th March

Isis Amlak hosts

Isis has been active in local democracy and community organising for most of that time and is a seasoned activist and campaigner, passionate about racial and social justice, dating back her days as an Anti-Apartheid, Non-Stop Picketer, in the late 80s. She sits on the board of the Octavia Foundation

Panellists and artists:

Edward Daffarn– Friends of North Kensington, Grenfell United

Shaun Condon – RBKC Bi-Borough Library Service

Margaret Bailey – Kensal Rise Library

Shareefa Energy is a poet, spoken word artist, writer, and poetry and creative writing workshop facilitator. She is of Indian heritage, from working-class Highfields in Leicester. London has been her home since 2010. She is known for her impactful work in London and beyond as a activist, educator and performer.

Her poetry has featured on BBC’s One Show, Channel 4 and ITV, and published in i-D magazine and various publications. Shareefa has performed at Poetry Meets Hip Hop in Berlin and festivals including the Verve Festival and Flamenco Festival. She also performed as a guest for the BBC Radio 1Xtra Words First 2019. She was awarded with the UK Entertainment Best Poet 2017 Award and shortlisted for the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre 2019 Award by the Arts Council. She has facilitated creative writing and poetry workshops internationally, from Palestine to Sierra Leone, with children in primary schools to lecturers in universities. She was artist in residence at North Kensington Library for the Apples and Snakes Spine Festival 2018 and 2019.

https://shareefaenergy.com/

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk5fPaQxvSs

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-libraries–reimaging-their-future/142

Live access on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fnklibrary/permalink/3974489499262578/

Monday 15th March

Eve Wedderburn hosts.

Eve is a member of FoNKL, Westway23, a Westway Trust Trustee and has supported the Save Wornington College campaign in various ways.

Eve wrote most of the FoNKL campaign literature including the petition read at full council meeting in 2016. She was involved in delivering the Stand Alone Bid for the College. She is currently involved in the Carnival and Carnivals self-education project

Eve has a professional background in Performing Arts and is a small business owner.

Guest panellists and artists

Sue Duggins – RA representative Hazelwood Tower

Tom Charles – Writer – Urban Dandy https://urbandandylondon.com/

Lowkey

From the age of twelve he began to rap, initially imitating American rappers but soon began using his own accent. He began attending the open mic sessions which took place at the Deal Real record shop on Carnaby Street, Central London. The first time he went he introduced himself as Lowkey and was told there was already a regular there by that name; the two had a rap battle to decide who would continue to use the alias, Kareem emerged victorious and continued to use the name thereafter.

After a five-year hiatus, Lowkey released a string of singles between 2016 and 2018 to preceded his third album, Soundtrack to the Struggle 2, released on 5 April 2019.

https://twitter.com/Lowkey0nline

Natasha Langridge -actress, writer, teacher
Following performances at the InTRANSIT Festival and the TeatroKeiros in Rome, Natasha is currently rehearsing In Memory of Leaves on a wide beam barge for an alternative tour of London across three canals. The production opens on the Fordham Gallery Barge at Meanwhile Gardens on the Regents Canal in North Kensington on Wednesday 4th October, 2017./

https://www.natasha-langridge.com/

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-homes-where-we-live/143

Tuesday 16th March

Moktar Alatas hosts.

Moktar Alatas was awarded the DREAM Award by Boris Johnson, when he was Mayor of London at the London Peace Awards.

Moktar has been actively involved with the Octavia Foundation since he took part in Grove Roots, a youth-led heritage and media project in 2009, and the Foundation continues to be his principle partner in the development of ‘Aspire 2 Inspire’, the social enterprise that he set up last year.

Guest panellists and artists

Eversley Mills

Band Manager and Secretary, Metronomes Steel Pan Orchestra
Metronomes is an innovative steelband and unique community based in Ladbroke Grove, West London. We teach and perform steelpan music, promote Caribbean heritage, and run projects to benefit local people.

https://metronomes.org.uk/

Filsan Ali, Director and Counsellor, Midaye
Conceptualized in 2002, Midaye Somali Development Network was originally the Somali Mothers and Under Fives group, to serve mothers with young children.

https://www.midaye.org.uk/

Moyra Samuels – Save Wornington College,
Moyra is a Member of Save Wornington College Campaign and has been a highly active member of the community for many years.

https://twitter.com/savewornington

Potent Whisper

Spoken word artist, author and educator. Making important information accessible by using rhyme to translate key sociopolitical issues.

https://twitter.com/potentofficial

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-learning-knowledge–skills/144

Wednesday 17th March

Toby Laurent Belson hosts.
Toby is a multidisciplinary community artist, designer and educator. He was born and raised and resides in West London. He has run a community arts group, Brownbaby, in North Kensington since 2007, was a Portobello market trader for 8 years and has held local school governor and Trustee positions. Since 2015 he has dedicated much of his spare time (and then some) to four local campaigns to protect and enhance community assets, supporting them with posters, leaflets, videos,
What has been going on since the appointment of the new Chair, Toby Laurent Belson at the Westway Trust, and what does this mean for locals?

Panellists and artists:

Bashir Hassan is a Director at Maxilla City – A brand-new constituted community interest company (CIC), based in Kensington and Chelsea, led by local residents (3 out of 5 are young people) with deep rooted relationships and ties within the borough

https://www.maxillacity.org/

Didier Ibwilakwingi-Ekom African Sub-Saharan Development Partnership

Rasha El-Sady Programme Manager, Men’s Shed
Rasha El-Sady is the dedicated Shed Programme Manager for the international Men‚Äôs Shed movement, Maxilla Men’s Shed is a space in North Kensington where local adults can come to learn, teach, make, share and socialise. An enjoyable way to stay socially integrated in our local community, stay active and learn or pass-on transferable skills in a workshop environment and through specialised training programmes

JC Kamau is an actor, writer, presenter and director from West London. He has performed his one man comedy play, The Mental Retreat at the Camden Roundhouse (2012), The Tabernacle (2013), Portobello Pop Up Theatre (2013), & Chelsea Theatre (2014) as well as other projects at the Victoria & Albert Museum where Kamau was invited to write and perform a monologue as part of its Martin Luther King tribute programme in August 2013.

https://portobellopavilion.london/jc-kamau

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-23-acres-westway-trust–beyond/145

Thursday 18th March

Tayshan Hayden-Smith hosts

Tayshan Hayden-Smith, born & raised in North Kensington, brought love & life to his community surrounding Grenfell Tower, initiating the ‚ÄėGrenfell Garden of Peace‚Äô among several other pivotal green spaces in the local area, adopting the name The Grenfell Guerrilla Gardener at the time. Typically known for his interest & career in football, Tayshan is keen to empower young people through gardening & nature. At 23 years old, Tayshan is a young man of mixed heritage & is passionate about being …

Panellists and artists:

Alexander D Great
Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Alexander grew up in London from the age of five. On leaving school in the mid 1960s he became a professional musician/songwriter, creating his own style from a mix of Beatles, Blues and Baroque music. In the early 1970s he spent a year in the USA playing with a 50 – piece band. There he learned to arrange and orchestrate, after which he took a BA in Music at Dartington College, followed by a PGCE at Roehampton. He has taught music at secondary and tertiary levels as well as musicianship and composition to degree students at Brunel University. Alex has also presented lectures/seminars on Calypso at the universities of Huddersfield, Leeds, Nottingham, Queen’s University, Belfast and Morley College, London

https://alexanderdgreat.net/
Constantine Gras is a member of Wornington Trees – a campaigning group that was set up to oppose the destructive tree felling on Wornington Green Estate undertaken by Catalyst Housing and RBKC council and the lack of meaningful consultation with residents and the wider community during the regeneration.

https://www.worningtontrees.com/

Jonathan Kelly is a Team Member of Better Streets – a group of local volunteers united by a common wish to make our streets safer, healthier and happier, now and for future generations.

https://betterstreets4kc.org.uk/
Marco Picardi is a member of RAP23 – a sub group of Westway23 concerned with air quality in North Kensington. We aim to create awareness of the harmful effect of air pollution in North Kensington and provide a digital forum for solutions. To influence policy to improve the quality of air in North Kensington

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReduceAirPollution23/about/

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-environment-clean–green/146

Friday 19th March

Jacob Rety hosts

Jacob is a Capoeirista (Monitor) and Web developer with two young children. Jacob is also a member of Friends of North Kensington Library and Westway23 and active in various local campaigns.

Panellists and artists
Leila Edjem is a member of The Hubb Community Kitchen – a group of women who have come together to prepare fresh food for their local community.

https://almanaar.org.uk/the-kitchen/

Niles Hailstones
Niles Thompson Hailstones is a founder member of The Mmere Dane Centre for Healing and Reparatory Justice aka The V1llage based at Bay56, Acklam Village, Ladbroke Grove since June 14th 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/V1llage
Susan Rudnik is a state registered Art Psychotherapist and clinical supervisor and a local resident. Since qualification in 2006 Susan has specialised in working with children and adolescents working within the NHS, schools and in private practice. Susan is a Lecturer on the MA Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths and a member of APPG (Art Psychotherapy Practice Group). Susan currently works within Paediatrics at Chelsea and Westminster hospital.

http://www.lcat.org.uk/susan-rudnik/

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-health–wellbeing-not-surviving-but-thriving/147

Saturday 30th March

Host Kids on The Green

Panellists
Miriam Mendez is a member of Solidarity Sports – Through our work in West London, we have seen hundreds of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, or those that have experienced trauma, become a part of our family through our wide and varied activities, which offer something for everyone

https://solidaritysports.org/
Tania Moore is CEO of Youth Action Alliance – supporting the personal and social development (their values, beliefs, ideas and skills) of the young people living in Kensington & Chelsea, enabling them to increase their resilience and skills in the present, and promote their ambitions for the future.

https://www.youthactionalliance.org/
Zoe LeVack is a member of Kids on The Green – a Creative Arts project, supporting children and young people in the creative and Performing Arts alongside a range of alternative and holistic therapies and activities

https://www.facebook.com/kidsonthegreenw11/

Links to event:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=J_l-UHTwP68

https://northkensingtonlibrary.org/our-library-saved-event/our-future-children–young-people/148

The key themes running through all

gatherings are:

Celebrating the community and what we have achieved

Hearing the community’s voices: providing a safe, brave space where concerns/issues are aired

Valuing our community: respecting and recognising that we are the experts and we have the knowledge and skills to fashion solutions to the issues that we face

Co-design, Co-production: moving from tokenistic consultation to citizen control

Solidarity building: linking with other campaigns/movements/orgs across the uk

Public Participation

Tips

If possible use ear piece with microphone to get the best sound quality. Connect to your internet via a wired connection not wifi.

Terms

By agreeing to speak at this event you understand it will be live streamed to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and made publicly available afterwards, unless there is good reason, but we hope to avoid such scenarios.

Safeguarding

The following measures will be used in all sessions to ensure that all participants including children and young people are protected while taking part in our event.

Abusive or inappropriate behaviour by any other attendee at the event will not be tolerated and the offending person will be immediately removed from the session and potentially referred to the appropriate authorities.

At no point will children and/or young people be in one-on-one conversation with any single other person. There will always be a Host/ Co-Host or representative of one of the youth organisations (all of whom have safeguarding policies in place) present.

Although we recognise that being able to see one another helps sessions feel more interactive and personal, we respect that some people including children and/young people may wish to turn their video feed off, or parts of it. They can do this using the ‚ÄúStop Video‚ÄĚ button at the bottom of their screen.

Thank you!

A catalyst for destruction: Catalyst Housing, leave our trees and parks alone!

This is a picture of a brave protester in one of the trees that Catalyst Housing had planned to cut down yesterday morning.

Yes, despite cutting down most of the trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington, leaving the area around there bare and depriving residents of mature pollution-absorbing trees, green spaces and wildlife (in order to build luxury flats for the next phase of the regeneration of the estate), Catalyst, are still on a further course of destruction, and this time, they are trying to cut down trees in Athlone Gardens.

For the record, Athlone Gardens park was created by what used to be Kensington Housing Trust before they lost the “Trust”, merged with other HAs and morphed into the buge unaccountable corporate behemoth that is known as Catalyst Housing now; back in the 1970s.

It is owned and managed however, by RBKC. It is a public park, that adjoins the Wornington Green Estate and Portobello Road, in a heavily built up part of North Kensington where most locals do not have use of a garden, and the park is not exclusively used by Catalyst residents. Therefore, there was a big public outcry when locals heard that Catalyst would be cutting down the cherry blossom trees in the park .

Catalyst security guards in Athlone Gardens
https://twitter.com/TreesWornington/status/1369533495186448384?s=20

Both locals and environmental campaigners came to the park yesterday to take their morning exercise and to protest against this environmental destruction of our trees and our public land.

Things even ended up at one point with Police trying to get the council close Athlone Gardens so they could charge residents and protesters for trespassing – ridiculous

Here is the letter from Catalyst that had sounded alarm bells for the community as to what was happening the day before . “Essential works” indeed…..

Seeing that the park and trees were under threat, THINKers had emailed RBKC Cabinet Members Cllr Johnny Thalassites (Planning, Place and Environment) and Cllr Emma Will (Culture, Leisure and Community Safety) we alerted them as to what was happening and questioned how.much RBKC knew about this, plus we sent a copy of our previous Wornington Green blog post :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/03/08/wornington-greed-as-catastrophic-catalyst-ignores-the-community-and-cuts-down-pollution-absorbing-trees/

Yesterday our Editor received this from Emma Will and we thank her for this response:

Later on, we received this on Twitter from Johnny Thalassites:

So , Catalyst’s ” tree surgeons” Heritage Tree Services (responsible for destroying mature trees) were called off, Police went away, and the trees survived.

Oh, the contradiction

Today, Catalyst’s axemen and women, “Heritage Tree Destroyers” didn’t carry out their work as it was too windy apparently.But locals are holding their breath as to what will happen tomorrow.

No doubt Catalyst will argue that for changes to the Venture Centre as part of their (approved by only one vote in 2010) regeneration scheme, the trees will have to go. But we say this is a local RBKC park , there will be next to no trees left in that part of North Kensington with the way the disgraceful Housing Association is carrying on, the Venture Centre (with its much-loved adventure playground – also likely to be bulldozed) should stay where it is, and as it is, and Catalyst need to rethink their plans.

This is also RBKC’s time to put their foot down, and tell Catalyst and their chainsaws to get out of the council’s park and to leave the trees, the park and the residents be.

Because if they don’t, any noises of disapproval the council may have made, will count for nothing as they will be complicit in the destruction of our trees and local assets too.

By the way, Catalyst Housing have also completely ignored the fact that some of their residents are affected by Grenfell, their plans have taken zero account of this and the Association’s attitudes towards local residents as well as their refusal to make changes to what is an out of date destructive regeneration scheme says they don’t care one bit.

This is all Catalyst really seems to care about (and quite a lot of those “luxury apartments” are still empty too) :

RBKC should not, in our view, be supporting or defending Catalyst here. After all, we wouldn’t want this Photoshop of ours, featuring Emma Will and Johnny Thalassites outside Athlone Gardens, to be more realistic than originally intended….

This is a chance for the council to demonstrate change, to listen to residents and to show they care about North Kensington and our environment. We urge Cllrs Thalassites and Will to please, please, do the right thing, and put a stop to this – not for a day, not for a week, but for good.

Rest In Peace Duggie Fields – friend, artist, true original and Earl’s Court legend

On Sunday, we heard the sad news that our friend Duggie Fields, Post-Modernist artist and legend, passed away.

https://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/13156/duggie-fields-pioneering-british-artist-and-fashion-icon-dies-aged-75

https://www.artlyst.com/news/duggie-fields-british-artist-fashion-icon-dies-age-76/

Here are just a few of the tributes:

Duggie had also been a legendary fashion icon, and in recent times, had also been working digitally, making music and videos.

Some of his work can be found on his website:

http://www.duggiefields.com/

And on his YouTube channel :

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCxHqI8A-hPkshY-UhGRaZUQ

Here is an interview with Duggie, talking about his life and work:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=O9YvfoXhJ0U

Duggie an Earl’s Court resident since the late 1960s, was also known for his support for the Save Earl’s Court campaign

.http://www.saveearlscourt.com

One of his works, “Wasted” that features in the Save Earl’s Court campaign and shows the destruction of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, has also made an appearance in our blog before :

The blog post had been an update as to what was happening then with the campaign. Duggie had supported the Save Earl’s Court campaign for years, first to save the Exhibition Centre and then, after its demolition, supported the campaign to build a replacement exhibition centre – “The World’s Greenest Venue”.

Here is a picture of Duggie outside St Cuthbert’s Church , from the last time we saw him back in September last year:

Duggie was an inspiration to us, both in his work and in person, his positive and curious-minded approach to life. Many will remember bis appreciation for all forms of culture (both “high” and low”) .

His work has greatly inspired many and will inspire many others for years to come.

There aren’t many people of whom we can only say entirely positive things about – but Duggie was one such person. He was also a one-off on so many different levels . As well as his immense colourful creative genius, in person, he was very kind, sincere, thoughtful, down to earth, a real gentleman and a real original thinker. He always had kind words and support for us and our blog and we feel immensely privileged to have known him.

We will miss Duggie Fields greatly and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

Gremlins at work: Both on our site and on the RBKC Planning portal

We’re sorry for the delay in blog posts again, but the “Gremlins”, after having a go at the Planning Postal on the RBKC website, decided to have a go at our website too!

Well, it’s not quite the same as some of our tech problems were yet more secutity issues (obviously we’re hitting raw nerves with some!) and a few other things , so we had to temporarily go off air while we got it fixed, but thankfully all is back working again.

As for RBKC, other parts of their website are still having hiccups as they have sent a few non-working links for documents of meetings, but we hear the Planning portal is back working again now, and of course, as reported here, the deadlines to the two controversial Planning Applications have been extended to the 26th of March – and that, despite the RBKC website having previously stating otherwise (more Gremlins?). is the deadline for BOTH.

So our readers can comment on the South Kensington Station redevelopment Planning Application here:

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 the Old Brompton Road Earl’s Court Planning Application here:

Oh and just in case there happen to be further “Gremlins” at work, we recommend, using the references – ref PP/20/03216 for South Kensington Station, and ref PP/21/00272 for Old Brompton Road, sending in feedback in to the Planning Officers here: planning@rbkc.gov.uk and copying in the relevant local ward councillors.

We don’t know how much extra we are paying for these supposed “improvements” to the RBKC website, but let’s hope that’s the end of the matter.