Have your say in RBKC Planning Policy: Defining “affordable housing”, plus a say in how Β£2.6 million of NCIL money gets spent

Another day, another RBKC consultation? No, please come back!! Before the eyes of our local readers glaze over and people let out sighs of collective exasperation, let THINK just briefly explain why we strongly recommend that all our RBKC resident readers take part in this consultation.

The easiest way to respond is via this quick survey (which should only take a couple of minutes to complete);

https://www.givemyview.com/rbkcncilpriorities

“Affordable” housing

Kensington and Chelsea could actually be the first council to get rid of that rather ludicrous term as they are asking for residents to define it. We were actually quite pleasantly surprised to see that our council is asking residents to define what constitutes affordable housing here

Genuinely affordable housing, the way we see it, ought to mean being affordable to people on average income living here. Of course different people will have various definitions of what constitutes affordable (this, by the way, relates to the RBKC “Local Plan” – not the “London Plan” which has its own defintions – and that’s not a situation we’re happy about – that’s a matter for another post….), but this is a way forward to get a general consensus from local residents over this.

Neighbourhood funding: Have your say in how Β£2.6 million is spent

Just in case some people are still not convinced that responding to this is a good idea, there is also an opportunity to have your say in what on and where Β£2.6million of Neighbourbood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) money goes.

So far there are many good suggestions from residents and we are liking suggestions about a garden waste recycling service, better and more bicycle parking provided in the far north of the borough, more greenery in some parts of the borough like Earl’s Court and around Holland Park Avenue, and more allotment spaces provided (we’ve heard that there is a very long waiting lists for RBKC Community Kitchen Garden spaces at the timebeing). These are just a few things and we know that many residents have even more ideas and suggestions for improvements.

THINKers haven’t lost the plot and this blog is definitely not an advertisement for our council!

But when there are times they are taking measures to do something right, we will support them, so we urge RBKC to please treat ALL responses to this from residents equally here.

If our readers would like to read the planning policy document in full and give more detailed responses, the link is here:

https://planningconsult.rbkc.gov.uk/consult.ti/system/listConsultations?type=O

Consultants, consulting and consultations: Pembridge Hospice and the end of locally provided end of life care?

Last Monday at Kensington Town Hall, there was a special meeting of the RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee regarding the future of provision of end of life care.

Background

Pembridge Hospice is based ar St Charles Hospital, just off Ladbroke Grove. providing care for people with life limiting conditions.

The Hospice provides:

– A 24/7 advice line staffed by a registered nurse and medical consultant

– Day Hospice and Outpatients services: Mental health, social isolation, peer to peer support, befriend, treatment (bisphosphonate), specialist pain anaesthetist clinic, wider support and complimentary therapies.

– Multi disciplinary Community Palliative Care Team: Advice and support for people in their homes enabling 30 people a month to die in their preferred place.

Pembridge Hospice did provide an Inpatient Unit with 13 beds, 24 hour care and treatment for patients who require continual assessment, respite care and symptom control. The focus of the unit had been to support patients who wish to be cared for and to die in a safe space close to home.

But in October 2018, the palliatve care consultant there resigned and inpatient admissions were suspended. Central London Community Healthcare trust had said that they were unable to find a suitable replacement for the consultant. The unit remains closed to this day.

The following month a review of palliative care services by independent consultant (of PJH4 Consulting) and former Director of Nursing at St Christopher’s Hospice, Penny Hansford was commissioned by Central London CCG.

The review went on to to recommend for the Pembridge Hospice inpatient unit to be decommissioned with the money being used for hospice care eleswhere and for enhanced community care provision. But the review also recommended a reduction in specialist palliative care beds. Read it here:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.centrallondonccg.nhs.uk/media/95628/1-PJH4-Independent-review-palliative-care_Executive-summary.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwivqqvjrKTnAhUElFwKHXvAATgQFjAAegQIARAF&usg=AOvVaw1uaPNMJRCDkcRupkCX0bAR

Marie Curie UK in their blog said this in 2015: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/blog/we-need-to-remove-the-barriers-to-palliative-care-in-england/48684

The St Luke’s Hospice website last Summer said:

2018 has seen increased pressure on St Luke’s.. The recent closure of inpatient units of two neighbourimg hospice has seen an increase in the number of patients being referred to our unit and the growing number of patients with more complex conditions and needs has placed extra pressure on the hospice’s community services

The Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS campaign says:

Claims of adequate alternative beds provision in Clapham, Harrow and St John’s Wood seem unrealistic. Policymakers quite rightly emphasise the need to improve resources, communication, coordination and speed of response to enable people who wish to die at home to do so. However this shouldn’t be at the expense of the significant minority of people with palliative care needs who wish to die in a hospice.

Already sadly not everyone who expresses a wish to die in a hospice is able to do so. Surely as a society we can agree that resourcing care of those with a life limiting illness should be a priority – and that we should resource both home and hospice services to give all our residents the best possible end of life care.

The statistics

Pembridge Hospice serves a catchment area with a poplulation of 350,000, covering parts of RBKC, LBHF, Brent and Westminster. Areas of social deprivation are concentrated in the catchment and the population of residents aged 85 or over is increasing rapidly at a rate far above the London average.

-The Pembridge Service receives between 1 and 15 referrals a day, approximately 120 referrals a month.

– is actively caring for 300+ ay any one time

– Supports on average 30 people a month to die in their preferred place, be it home or bospice

-The service overall has an average 2160 patient contacts a month split between 3 key areas: –

– Bereavement counselling: 172 per month

– Pembridge Community Palliative Care Team : 1404 per month

– Pembridge Day Hospice: 583 per month

According to CLCH, 50% of people requiring end of life care are not getting what they need.

The meeting

THINK arrived late to a very packed Small Hall.

The speakers making the presentation (referred to as “the panel” in this post) were:

Steve Barnes – Director.of St John’s Hospice

James Benson – Chief Operating Offiver, Central London Comnunity Healthcare Trust

Dr Ruth Caulkin – Palliative Medicine Consultant , Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust

Dallas Pounds – CEO, Royal Trinity Hospice

Louise Proctor – Managing Director, West London CCG

Dr Neville Purssell – Chair of Central London CCG

Professor Catherine Urch – Divisional Director for Surgery, Cardiovascular and Cancer, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Dr Jayne Wood, Clinical Lead, The Royal Marsden Symptom Control and Palliative Care Team

Chairing the meeting was senior RBKC Conservative councillor Robert Freeman, the Vice Chair of the committee and the former chair of its predecessor the now defunct RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee.

We also noticed other RBKC councillors present – Cllr Sarah Addenbrooke (the cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Health), Cllr Malcolm Spalding, Cllr Dr Max Chauhan and Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi from the Conservatives, and Cllr Robert Atkinson, Cllr Pat Healy and Cllr Judith Blakeman from Labour.

Essentially the presentation was the panel stating their case for permanent closure of the hospice inpatient unit.

As this was not exactly what most residents attending were led to believe the meeting was about – it was billed as a public discussion and advertised by our council on social media as: “End of life care meeting: Have your say.” ” End of life care helps all those with advanced, progressive and incurable illness who are nearing the end of their life to live as well as possible until they die. Have your say on the future of end-of-life care in Kensington and Chelsea at the public meeting taking place this month” – and as Pembridge Hospice is so important to so many people here, the vast majority are unsurprisingly opposed to closure and service cuts . Many of the people attending had felt that their views had been ignored or disregarded by the NHS bosses on the panel. The atmophere at the meeting was one of justifiable anger, upset and frustration….

A resident said : “You said in your presentation that the beds are temporarily suspended. If so when will you reopen them again?”

James Benson: “This is dependent on recruiting a consultant and palliative care consultants are hard to come by”

Hammersmith and Fulham Cllr Ben Coleman, LBHF Cabinet Member for Adult Health and Social care said” The reason we’ve been given is that they can’t find a specialist consultant in Pembridge. What I don’t understand is why they can’t share consultants and if there is a shortage , why?”

Panel Member: “We do have a number of consultants at St John St Elizabeth but we do not have enough to share consultants.”

Dr Neville Purssell said that services elsewhere could be put at risk if consultants were shared and the other doctors on the panel – Dr Ruth Caulkin and Dr Jayne Wood also stated this.

We’d like to think that perhaps some of our readers may know of a consultant who could help? If so, do please get in contact with us

But we won’t hold out much hope that even solving the consultant problem would stop the closure as the panel were not open to this being a possible solution.

Dr Jayne Wood said; : “Supporting a community visiting team is much easier than supporting an inpatient unit . The community is easier because we would have GPs to support us. Otherwise we would need consultants , specialist nurses, senior nurses and junior doctors on an inpatient unit”

Aren’t many GPs pushed to support the needs of patients who require specialist care as it is?

A resident of Brent whose son spent his final days being cared for in Pembridge Hospice spoke about how despite St Charles Hospital being some distance away, that is was easily reachable by public transport for everyone. “If we had had to travel to Clapham we would have had to pitch a tent overnight something with the length of time it would take to travel there. Because the hospice was easy to get to, we were able to spend quality time with our son in his final days”.

A number of residents pointed out that it isn’t as easy to get to Clapham or St John’s Wood as it is to get to Ladbroke Grove.

Robert Freeman: “Yes, transport is an issue….. .”

Another resident “But should the NHS service here be the one that is closed give how important it is to so many people? ”

Yes, so many people were there and so many of them were understandably upset and frustrated. There was some shouting and heckling – which appeared to throw Cllr Freeman a bit and the way some of the panel responded only added fuel to the fire.

James Benson “It is not clear what the way forward is. That is the Trust position”

Well that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the CCLH boss, does it? Perhaps if Mr Benson spent more tine listening than speaking he might have a better idea of what to do……

This matter of a lack of joined up services came up several times:

Merril Hammer from Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS: “We’re finding it difficult to get the patients’ and friends’ voice heard at this meeting. Why are the three trusts not talking together given that is the name of the game?”

Member of panel: “The way forward is to try to provide joined up services in the community – together with GPs and the voluntary sector”.

Resident: The voluntary sector is struggling to cope with the cuts that the Government has made. And NHS Property has the nerve to charge volumtary organisations rent on top of this”.

One woman said: “I don’t suppose everyone’s got terminal cancer here? I have. Pembridge is important to me for many reasons . I was diagnosed at stage 4 with a rare form of cancer. and there was no chance. I spent most of my time before being admitted to A & E at St Mary’s and it was only through a Macmillan nurse there that I finally got a referral to Pembridge. Pembridge offered so many things. We have such a strong community of people in who we can put our trust in having known us for a number of years. I could wait weeks for treatment with a GP. I do not want to want my family to have no choice but the responsibility of looking after me in my final hours – . I don’t want to have to wait all day for a nurse to turn up because I’ve had an accident – you.might not like hearing this – but there it is. The least that they could do as a dignified act would be to let us die with dignity. ”

Cllr Freeman : “Day care services will continue at Pembridge – that will not change….”.

James Benson :” We have taken the decision to try and support our colleagues in the community”

A resident :”This is a sales exercise and we’re not buying it”.

What we see is a very bleak picture for people who are financially disadvantaged and/or who receive little to no support from family and friends. And more people in our community are in that position than some might think…

A North Kensington resident spoke of supporting bis terminally ill neighbour and pointed out that not everyone is fortunate to have support in the community .” Many households in the area are single person households and many them are older people. Many local residents do not have families placed to help care for them if their familes live abroad”

Robert Freeman: “Do the speakers realise that a large percentage of households locally are single person households?”

We know of several locals who are having to provide care to neighbours and friends because the help is either being sparsely provided or not being provided at all.

All of the residents who had received care or whose familiy members from Pembridge Hospice and the service spoke positively of the care and support received there.

One Shepherds Bush resident spoke of the care provided for her terminally ill mother by Pembridge Hospice as a teenager and support afterwards:”Without the help provided to my mother and after she died, to me, I would have never have been able to go to university without the support from Pembridge I had. What about the poorer people who can’t afford it? ”

Another resident :” You’re talking about some great plan that you’re looking for or you’re waiting for. Most of the people affected don’t have the time. If someone walked in and said they’re a pallative care consultant wouldn’t that be the problem solved?”

James Benson : No because we would have to go through both CCGs”

Louise Proctor: :”We undertook an independent review. There were a series of engagement workshops. In the Autumn. Winter 2019 Kensington engagement seesions, a patients working group was set up amd that is about trying to understand this in a bit more depth”

Another resident: : “It’s not to do with trying to consult. It’s morphed into something else.”

Dallas Pounds: :What I can hear is you’re all in crisis and I hear this. This is a major opportunity of change. This the first time that the CCGs have gone round the table listening to people ”

But another resident said: “What I’m seeing here is the people here don’t have time. You have spent an hour talking and you’re not listening to people ”

Member of panel: “We are trying to have care planning at a much earlier stage – we are trying to talk about it – this is about raising the bar. Only about 35% of patients have a coordinated care plan and we are trying to change this. ”

Dr Farukh Malik: “This exercise is to organise the resources we have. Patients and their families can produce their own care plan electronically”.

Dr Malik, who is Palliative and End of Life Clinical Lead at West London CCG arrived later in the meeting. He received groans from residents for this response.

A man who is caring for his wife who is paralysed said : ” I’ve been keeping her alive by giving her injections . I am fortunate enough to be a a doctor . It can’t work unless pallative care services work hand in glove with everyday services.”

Hounslow Councillor Mel Collins sits on the North West London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Robert Freeman is RBKC’s representative on the committee). He said : ” When we had the presentation there were a number of points that you refused to listen to and reply to. You have missed the point. Everything has to be joined to up to work. Unless we work collaboratively together we will never reach a satisfactory conclusion.”

As for Robert Freeman, he is one RBKC Conservative councillor we normally have time for but we were rather disappointed in him at this meeting, as he had previously indicated to residents on a number of occasions that he was against the closure of the hospice beds but he did not appear to show that on Monday. Many of the residents felt that he had given the panel an easy ride . At one point, a resident who had been heckling ended up having a row with Cllr Freeman’s wife Elizabeth, who was sat a couple of seats away from us.

The meeting ran overtime amd Cllr Freeman had let the panel of bosses dominate this meeting and he had been about to close it a few times but so many people had so much to say – some had their hands up for over an hour and some did not get to speak at all – what a disgrace.

Editor’s note: Because Robert Freeman did not introduce the panel properly (the only one we recognised was Louise Proctor) we were sat at the back and couldn’t see who was speaking at certain times in the meeting, we couldn’t be entirely sure of which panel members were speaking at certain points of the meeting .

So far, the recommendations have not been accepted by Central London CCG but the indications we got are that they will accept. Cllr Freeman could have closed the meeting by asking residents for a final show of hands to show the panel (which included the chair of CLCCG) how few residents actually support this, but we doubt that would make much difference.

It is less than satisfactory that palliative care services are not equally provided (the NHS “Lottery”) but closures and cuts will not improve things; making things worse for everyone is not the solution. We have seen them making cuts in services and labelling them “improvements” to our community before and sadly others here are left having to pick up the pieces.

It appears that our community yet again, has another big battle on our hands….

Some views from people after the meeting

As the event was packed, we were sitting at the back, a number of people were understandly upset and angry and there was quite a bit of shouting, plus the acoustics in the Small Hall are poor at best, we were unable to hear everything being said so we went to speak to some people afterwards.

Social worker: “Community and voluntary services are overstretched enough as things are. This meeting should have been an opportunity to listen to local people and discuss solutions with the comnunity properly in a meaningful way but it’s been wasted”.

Paddington resident: “They (the health bosses) are people who are supposed to care. I’m disappointed and let down by them and their attitudes. It’ s shameful – what’s the point in having an NHS if they offload care of people to charities? People suffering were made to feel like they don’t matter in this meeting . It’s just a public relations exercise and a very bad one at that”

RBKC Labour Cllr Robert Atkinson: “This was supposed to be a listening meeting and the panel spent more time talking and not listening. That was because what was being said by the public did not jive with what they had already decided”.

Jim Grealy from Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS : “The public is very angry. Which is why they have turned up in such large numbers and we are additionally angry because the 9 experts behind the table spoke for 1 hour initially and did not want to listen to the public views. They have already made up their mind but the public are not going to go away and accept this, they will fight this and they will win ”

Cllr Robert Freeman refused to comment, telling us that he had already had said what he had to say in the meeting.

Well, we think Robert Freeman in chairing the meeting was being rather too diplomatic towards the panel – we get what he was trying to do, he was trying to appear as impartial as possible in his role as chair. We do remind people who are understandably angry and upset however that he is not making these decisions .

Ben Coleman later gave us this response:

“While I’m delighted the NHS is planning to improve palliative and end-of-life care across Hammersmith & Fulham, Brent, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, I’m confused by their ‘suspension’ of inpatient admissions to Pembridge Hospice.

“They claim this is because they can’t find a palliative care specialist to run Pembridge. Yet at the meeting, they worringly refused to guarantee the hospice would reopen 24/7 even if they found someone.
“Local people want Pembridge to stay fully open while the new strategy is developed. Hammersmith & Fulham’s health and social care committee will be discussing this with the NHS next Monday
27 January –

Everyone welcome.”

Details of Monday’s meeting are here: http://democracy.lbhf.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=488&MId=6681&Ver=4

Cllr Sarah Addenbrooke , RBKC Leadership Team Member for Adult Social Care and Health also later told us that she is opposed to the closure of the inpatient unit at Pembridge

Our view

The vast majority of people attending the meeting, regardless of whether they were from RBKC, Hammersmith amd Fulham, Brent , Westminster or anywhere else, were appalled that a meeting that had been billed as “Have your say” instead amounted to a sorry exercise of the NHS bosses on the panel who had clearly decided to permanently close the beds and reduce services at Pembridge Hospice having their say and pressing their points upon residents wbo were against these changes.

But for those of us from RBKC, and North Kensington in particular, we were once again reacquainted with the all too familiar sham of a CONsultation” – when those at the top making the decisions had already made them and the meeting appeared to be focused on an effort to get the residents to accept the unacceptable.

More insulting than consulting some might say, and aren’t “discussions” really supposed to involve some degree of listening?

What is also unacceptable, is not only the fact that half of residents here are not getting the care they need, but that those in charge appear to think somehow that by cutting, closing and moving services further away, that this could ever improve the situation.

With an aging population and so many single person housebolds, it appears our community will need more, not less, provision of palliative care. An already serious situation can only be made even worse by the closure of the hospice beds at St Charles. It is a pity that those in charge fail to see this, but then again, given the hefty salaries these people receive, that is a matter that they personally will never have to face – unlike so many of the residents they are supposed to be providing vital care services to.

We thank all the residents who spoke at the meeting. Many of them spoke movingly of their experiences of care received from the Hospice Service, and our blog will campaign hard against the closure of the hospice beds at St Charles Hospital. The matter of Pembridge Hospice is not just a a local issue though as this goes so much further as state-provided care (or lack of) for people with incurable conditions needs to be addressed on a national level as there are other parts of London and the UK with similar population demographics.

NHS care provision has to adapt to the needs of a changing population and we know that future generations of people requiring palliative care will be left with no choice but to be dependent on sparsely provided outreach and voluntary services, hospital stays and whatever friends and family can provide .

We also note that Penny Hansford’s former workplace St Christopher’s Hospice provides palliative care training; it’s a pity she did not recommend that more consultants undergo this.

But it seems that those in charge have already taken the decision to to move away from providing 24 hour palliative care, regardless of the fact that more of us will likely require it. We believe they need to seriously reconsider .

Our readers can support Hammersmith and Fulham Save Our NHS and the campaign to save the Hospice by getting in touch at scxandh@gmail.com

Grenfell: 31 months tomorrow (yet some at RBKC still fail to understand)

Tomorrow will be exactly 31 months since Grenfell. We ask our readers to please, if they can, to.join us in the Silent Walk. The Walk will be gathering at 6pm outside Notting Hill Methodist Church, Lancaster Road, W11 4AH.

Many North Kensington residents are feeling fragile right now .The 14th of every month is always a very difficult time for us but at the weekend the Grenfell Projects Fund “decision day’ event took place which turned out to be a rather stressful and difficult experience for some as the event was apparently very chaotic, disorganised and there were numerous technical problems. Residents voted on which projects would be allocated Β£200K of funds to help our community. We send our best wishes to those who were successful and also to everyone who took part.

For those who couldn’t make the event, here are more details and some information on the event and on the projects that had successful outcomes on the day:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/north-kensington-community-vote-award-local-projects-%C2%A3200k

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/grenfell-response-and-recovery/our-progress-grenfell-recovery/grenfell-projects-fund

Also tomorrow there will be a Grenfell Tower Inquiry drop in session for local residents taking place also at Notting Hill Methodist Church from 4pm to 6:30pm. The Inquiry website states that:

“The Grenfell Tower Inquiry wants to hear from local residents who have information about the emergency relief response in the immediate aftermath of the fire. Members of the team looking at the aftermath of the fire will be at the next Inquiry drop-in to listen to local residents and take questions. If you are unable to attend, then please make contact using the details below. We can then arrange for individuals or small groups to speak with a member of the team at either a separate meeting or by phone.

Email:contact@grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk

Phone: 020 7842 3583.

The Inquiry will continue to hold regular drop-ins, which in February will be held at the Space, 214 Freston Road W10 6TT

Some residents will be reliving memories of the fire and the aftermath and this is going to be a very traumatising experience for many people here tomorrow. Our thoughts are with all affected.

But still some at Kensington Town Hall do not understand.

We did ask RBKC previously to please not conduct meetings at the same time as the Silent Walk, as have a numher of other residents, but we are sorry to say that the council have not listened to our requests and have scheduled a meeting of the Planning Committee at around the same time as the Silent Walk tomorrow.

Look, we understand that the issues of the meeting are regarding other parts of the borough outside North Kensington (Sloane Avenue and Pavilion Road in this case) , and we are of course aware that many other local issues go on regardless of the date, and do not expect everything else to grind to a halt but it is in our opinion, very disrespectful of RBKC to go ahead with conducting this meeting at the same time as the Silent Walk.

Just in case some at the council wrongly assume that planning matters in other parts of the borough are not our concern somehow, we will also remind them that every decision taken at the Town Hall has an impact and also that our blog has connections with every ward in RBKC. We would ordinarily be going to the planning committee if it were on any other day and while this meeting may not be Grenfell-related it is nonetheless the same local authority in charge and we are all residents here.

Yet we have to keep on reminding some people as this does not appear to have sunk into some certain mindsets – and that was and very clearly still is, part of the problem with our council.

Some RBKC councillors do keep saying “Grenfell is our number one priority” but they are not exactly behaving like it is if they are not raising any objections to a meeting going ahead at this time.

Surely as RBKC were and are, the borough responsible for Grenfell and the surrounding community, we would hope that the very least they could do would be to please show some compassion and respect on the 14th of every month?

That is the hope anyway and many traumatised residents here are holding on to hope – the hope of justice for the 72, the bereaved and the survivors, plus the hope of positive social change and a brighter future for North Kensington.

Many of us live in hope but it really shouldn’t be too much to hope that our local authority just at least tries to show us some respect and kindness of thought.

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Incompetence, indifference and negligence: No housing support from RBKC

THINK are back after a short break, but this has been no holiday for us. After years of less than adequate housing, being a victim of violence from antisocial neighbours and STILL no action taken by RBKC to move us, we are left with little choice but to publicise our own experiences of the failures of this council with regards to our social housing.

See this:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/12/15/think-vs-dizzy-lizzy/

And this:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/12/18/a-delusional-director-at-the-sharpe-end-wendolene-just-doesnt-get-it/

But our awful experiences are sadly far from the only ones and disgraceful RBKC doesn’t even bother to tell tenants who the housing officers responsible for management of their homes are. It appears that communications from this council are more in the style of PR rather than being of any real help to residents in need.

Furthermore, they continuously fail tenants by not prioritising housing support, thus ensuring they are at most times, completely in the dark with regards to tenants’ needs.

It begs belief that they do not give tenants any (unless they are very visibly unable to look after themselves) , housing support officer. All tenants are allocated a housing officer and a rent officer by the way, though very few know who they are, let alone have any contact details for them.

No wonder they do not have updated details of residents meaning that the needs and wellbeing of many of those with physical and/or mental health issues and/or disabilities are not being recognised. This also means that housing points are not being sufficiently awarded and some are being housed inadequately as a result.

This council has failed its social housing residents over many years and is still failing. The TMO may supposedly be gone, but the imcompetence, indifference and negligence lives on.

We know that Kim Taylor-Smith reads our blog, so we say to him that it is time for reform of the council’s housing management structure, for all tenants to be allocated a “housing team” (consisting of a housing officer, a rent officer, a housing support/needs officer and a caretaker or maintenance officer (depending on type of property) – and all residents should be regularly issued with their contact details. That would at least be something of a start.

Little has actually changed on the ground since the TMO days and while Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring are making positive noises here and there , there appears to be not much in the way of actual real positive change being made.

But as for us, we sometimes wonder if we will only exit our “home” or rather, slum, in a bodybag – just like our former upstairs neighbour. This, by the way, is around the corner from Grenfell; just exactly how bad do things have to get?

Happy New Year, new decade and all that (and why our blog is taking a break)

We wish our readers a very Happy New Year and we hope all had a good Christmas.

Following what has truly been the “Winter of our discontent” – well for us and many North Kensington residents anyway – our blog is taking a break from things.

2019 has actually been a very difficult year for us (we’ll just briefly mention election results, Grenfell, scrutiny and housing here) finishing with fallouts aplenty – sometimes things can just get all too much.

THINKers are also personally dealing with a lot on our plates right now and we don’t mean festive leftovers .

We are feeling drained and worn down from everything and there is no point in us going on autopilot and blogging just for the sake of it.

There are a lot of issues we are concerned with and perhaps we really ought to be to be doing more , but maybe this is a good time for others to become more involved in local issues?

THINK are not sure when or even if our blog will be back, but if not, we’d like to thank our friends, supporters and all the many incredible campaigners who have inspired us over the past few years.

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A delusional Director at the Sharpe end : Wendolene just doesn’t get it

Pictured is Rachel Sharpe, RBKC ‘s Director of Housing Needs and Supply. Some of our friends have pointed out the uncanny resemblance between Rachel and Wendolene Ramsbottom, the character from Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave, so we thought we would do the honours.

But Rachel is not as sharp and as observant as our friends, because if she was then she probably wouldn’t have come out with such a ludicrous, ignorant and delusional statement like this regarding the way she thinks housing associations engage with residents and the way she thinks this council does:

“One of the things that have we have impressed on them (housing associations) is that engagement with their residents needs to be a priority as it is with us”.

Oh dear. Is engagement with residents in RBKC social housing really a priority of this council Rachel? Perhaps a THINKer who is less than impressed with RBKC Housing and their appallingly bad level of resident engagement as someone who has had years of awful first-hand experience of this can put you in the know?

Because many ex-TMO housing staff have stayed in their old TMO ways, their old ways being rudeness, officiousness, bullying, dishonesty, negligence and outright incompetence.

Their failure to act and behave responsibly has led to this tenant being a victim of violence, who is scared of opening their flat door and who your housing officers will not do anything to help move to another property where they are safe .

The worse than poor service and lack of help provided to this tenant from housing officers at RBKC has meant that the only way they will be engaging with your officers will be through a solicitor. This tenant also lives with a permanent reminder of RBKC/TMO incompetence , as Grenfell Tower where she lost friends, is right around the corner from her.

But the painful reminder is made even worse by the fact that some of the very same TMO housing officers who were supposed to be responsible for people living in Grenfell Tower (and whether they were doing ther job right or not is debatable), are now responsible (or we should say irresponsible) for this THINKer and many others in social housing in the area who are traumatised. You could not make it up

Housing associations may not be perfect and yes some of them – not all – but some, are one hell of a long way from it, but people in glass houses should not throw stones, and after years of unbearable antisocial behaviour, appalling housing (still no hot water!) and after essentially being defecated on by some of your ex-TMO officers and having zero positive experience of her housing at all, Rachel, this THINKer would welcome a housing association with open arms!

Many other RBKC housing residents are telling us that housing staff are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard from and this council has failed to provide most residents with the right contact details of their housing officers anyway.

Perhaps Rachel’s notion of what supposedly good resident engagement is got stuck in the lavatory?

No “Jam Tomorrow” but we have to get on with getting on

Our blog is saddened and disappointed. This was not the election result that we had hoped for. We are also unhappy because the result in Kensington was not the result we hoped, supported and voted for and Emma Dent Coad lost by 150 votes.

We have heard that Emma was diagnosed with breast cancer just four weeks before the election, and underwent surgery just three days before the election result. See this from her interview on the Victoria Derbyshire show:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50837694

THINK wishes Emma Dent Coad well and a good recovery. We send our very best wishes and our kind thoughts.

This country will not get to see Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Misinter and a Labour Government seems a long way away. We wish him and colleagues the best and we hope that the Labour Party can work through things; no matter how deflated people may be feeling, a healthy democracy requires a strong opposition party.

As for the Lib Dems, some of them got a shock on election night when Jo Swinson lost her seat – not least Jo Swinson herself. We have posted about the Kensington controversy with Sam Gyimah and Emma Dent Coad over Grenfell before:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/know-there-before-you-go-there-sam-gyimah-kensington-and-grenfell/

Emma is pursuing a course of legal action against him over this and we will see what happens.

That might not all be the last that others in Kensington hear of Sam Gyimah however as it has not escaped the notice of some that he has changed his website from “samgyimah.com” to “samgyimah.london” – leading some to speculate if there are possible plans at Lib Dem HQ afoot to replace Siobhan Benita with him for London Mayoral candidate or simply just if he will have a big role in the upcoming campaign.

Maybe the one thing that many Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Kensington did have some level of agreement on was remaining in the EU. The 68% of voters here who to voted to remain will now likely get a Christmas present they did not want – a no deal Brexit.

As for Conservative voters, One man we encountered on the doorsteps during the election campaign said he could not vote Labour because of what he said were high spending commitments and promising people “jam tomorrow” Well regardless of whether some agreed with him or not, the Conservative vote in Kensington stayed up and some people saw things his way.

We will not keep going over the election result on this blog – it is done and over with and if we keep looking back this we will be doing little to help our comnunity right now. We also hope all the arguments, tensions and hostilities between people here around the election get resolved or left in the past.

So we will congratulate Felicity Buchan on her win and we will wish her well in the job. It is an understatement to say she will have her work cut out for her – we think that Grenfell, the survivors and bereaved and the recovery of our North Kensington comnunity, the rights of EU citizens here, housing, the environment and the future of Earl’s Court ought to priorities for her in this constituency. The issues in Kensington are challenging to say the least, but even though we did not vote for Felicity, we will give her a chance.

We very much hope she does the same for us and others in the constituency.

There will be no “jam tomorrow” and many of us who did not vote Conservative are left with a bitter taste in our mouths, but it is the future of Kensington that our community must focus on, try to sort out some of our differences and work towards a better tomorrow for our those in and around our community who are counting on it.

THINK VS Dizzy Lizzy

Election night, or rather very early the next morning, was for many reasons, a very unhappy night for many North Kensington residents, including our blog.

The only good bit of it for us was when one THINKer confronted RBKC leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell outside Kensington Town Hall and gave her a piece of her mind!

Sadly our THINKer was not in a very good mood, and probably going to the Town Hall after a night out with friends and a few drinks might not have been the best idea. Also Dizzy Lizzy is rather small, and she is one of the few people our THINKer, who was also in her trademark skyscraper heels, towers over. Our angry THINKer for both these things, probably came across as rather scary! She didn’t mean to come across that way but maybe what she said had also sme sort of effect on Dizzy Lizzy, who was trembling and cowering….

There were some good points made, so let’s make them to her again – publicly – with a few more thrown in for good measure:

There was a brief conversation about residents working with the council. The THINKer talked about last Summer’s “Housing and Land in RBKC” event – a very well attended event that they had been part of organising. The conversation went on to why so many people in North Kensington do not trust RBKC and Cllr Campbell in particular:

– “One good reason why many North Kensington residents do not like or trust you Dizzy Lizzy is because you served in cabinets pre-Grenfell and supported the closure of our Library, our College, asset stripping and regeneration schemes such as the Silchester Estate and others, which could have forced many residents out of their community for good . Many residents also remember that you presided over the closure of the Maxilla Family Centre”.

– “There are a couple of others of you who also served in pre-Grenfell cabinets. No wonder you got rid of Grenfell Scrutiny! How can you (and your pre-Grenfell colleagues) justify remaining in your posts considering such a big issue and potential conflicts of interest? “

That for starters, is a serious barrier to any sort of positive change at the council. How can you expect RBKC to change when a few people at the top and their old broken ways of doing things still rule?

Also what of Cllr Campbell’s record as leader? She appears to revel in the media limelight while so many residents live in misery. The RBKC Grenfell Team has been failing on so many levels we don’t know where to start.

Our THINKer also pointed out her missing tooth (yes – had no time yet to go to the dentist and get it fixed ) – this was the result of an attack by people in the grounds of her council property and she has also been subject to violence and threats from neighbours – and pointed out that: ” the council thinks it is acceptable for residents to put up with violent neighbours – I (THINKer) have been begging the council to be moved, only for this borough’s hapless housing officers to suggest mediation instead! How bad does it have to get for you to act? ”

Mediation is more suited to neighbours who have minor disputes such as personal fallouts, loud music or parking disputes. It is not suitable for victims of violence and perpetrators .

All Dizzy Lizzy could do was say “oh well I’m very sorry for that”!

Well “sorry” doesn’t really cut cut it, Dizzy Lizzy. One can only say sorry so many times...

For all of these things, and the RBKC housng department STILL being an utter shambles, the only real way you could really mean “sorry” would be to resign from your position.

Anyway, we think it’s high time the Dizzy Lizzy and the “old guard” in the cabinet at RBKC stepped aside – there are enough able new councillors here to do the job now – because this council is severely in need of fresh thinking.

Grenfell Silent Walk 30 months on and a few thoughts

Today it will be two years and six months since we lost 72 members of our community in the fire.disaster at Grenfell Tower.

Please join us and remember the, their loved ones, and think of the survivors and the community on the Grenfell Silent Walk this evening. The route for this last one of the year is a longer rather different route and will be gathering at 5:30pm, outside Kensington Town Hall, Hornston Street, London W8 7NX, with the walk beginning at 6:30pm. There is also a meeting point outside Gail’s, by the corner of Lonsdale Road and Portobello Road.


We will just share some thoughts and feelings of our own on this post. Feelings in the North Kensington community right now are varying betweeen depressed – deflated or angry- agitated. Thursday’s election result saw our Labour MP for Kensington and a strong campaigner and defender of this community, Emma Dent Coad lose her seat. Today we also think of Emma and particularly her work here. We will mention that Emma was one councillor who did speak up for Wornington College when many councillors (including some on her own side) did not. She might not be perfect, but she was the best MP this community will probably ever have.

The election result has also brought in what will possibly be the most unsympathic Government towards Grenfell and related issues that we could possibly imagine. It is very hard to say the least, to hold out much hope for the future, but carry on we must.

Our community is down but not out but getting justice for the 72, changes in the law on fire safety, and social justice may take a lot longer than many of us can stand to think right now.

But that is the reality of the situation, another reality of the situation is that we cannot ignore the divisions in our community. We will need our strength ans to be supporing others when they do not feel they have the strength. and we need to be fighting together, not fighting each other.


Easier said than done? Of course it is – we can but try.

Last year, saw the sad passing of one of our friends and supporters in North Kensington, Amanda Beckles, who took her own life. Amanda was a vibrant intelligent kind and thoughtful person who campaigned for this community and was selfless enough to give support to others when she perhaps was more in need of support herself.

Many people in this dark Winter and in the run up to Christmas will be feeling low anyway.


So here’s some thoughts, if you are at a gathering, ask yourself if yourself or others are ignoring or leaving out someone. If you have said or done something hurtful towards someone, please reflect on what you have said or done. If you have issues with certain people , consider what those issues are carefully and if they can be resolved? If yes, try to work things out with the person or persons you have issues with themselves – not publicly on Facebook or Twitter for example or through others. If no – then perhaps leave things be. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out if you feel you can’t cope with things or try to commit yourself to too much.

Also sometimes throwing yourself into work and campaigning is good, but if you personally are dealing with a lot of other issues yourself, throwing yourself into other things will not make the problems go away.

Before some hit out at us and ask us we practice what we preach over a couple of those points, we spent all through yesterday and this morning reflecting on how things stand and wondering what we can do to make things any better. These are just our thoughts – they might not count for much – but we are going to do our best to act on them


As for criticism and us, we will just answer a few points on here because we have received quite a few angry messages and emails recently . It is the nature of our blog to be critical and one of the things that we said when THINK started was that nobody is above criticism. But we would like to hope that we are fair. Please do tell us directly rather than amongst each other if you think we are not.

We do get criticised a lot for having friends in other political parties or for engaging positively with some who are politically opposed to us . We are not going to apologise for that; the cutting point for us as to whether we engage with someone positively or not is if someone has prior history over Grenfell and Grenfell-related community issues. If so, we cannot engage with them, but if not, we will not be turning our backs to them. But let us make ourselves clear: THINK did not nor does today, endorse or support their views or policies. Not everyone agrees with our approach, but we do have to accept sometimes that as well as being a culturally and socially diverse area; it is a politicaly diverse area too. Some people are still too tramatised to engage with others like we do and that is fine, but networking and communications are part of our job and we are not yet ready to throw in the towel.


One real issue and sore point in our community is that this election turned dirty. It turned dirty because of untrue allegations and smears made about Emma Dent Coad and Grenfell. We have corrected and explained in other blog posts or ours, and we encourage those who still believe the smears to have a good read of these and to get some further reading in on the subject before posting hurtful untrue things on social media or towards others.

All this caused some real rifts in the community, particularly between different Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters who were previously on good terms. We hope that this can be resolved and that people can come together.

As for the post-election analysis, yes if the Lib Dems had not stood, Emma Dent Coad might still be our MP, but the Green Party (most of whose voters would usually in other circumstances vote Labour) got 535 votes and Felicity Buchan won the seat from Emma by only 150 votes – so let’s not get stuck into playing the blame game here.


It is what happens now that counts. If some of us do not at least try to pick ourselves and others up and together move forwards; we run the risk of those who really don’t have our best interests at heart, walking all over us. It’s difficult we know.

Tomorrow our blog will be back on the case against some of those who really do not care one jot for our community.


But today we turn our thoughts to others, particularly others who are no longer with us.

Today is for the 72, their loved ones, the survivors and the North Kensington community. It is also for those who are housed in buildings with dangerous cladding and/or with other fire safety concerns, and it is for those who are living in social housing whose warnings and concerns are being ignored – just like some of the residents of Grenfell Tower.

Please if you can, join us, and if you cannot, please at least give everyone affected some real thought and consideration.

Friday the 13th Part II

THINKers are still very upset and highly disappointed by the election reaults, but we do congratulate Felicity Buchan on her win.

But Kensington as we have pointed out before , is a marginal constituency and Felicity sits on a majority of only 150 votes.

Felicity did send us a response to some of the subjects raised when we sent Kensington candidates our list of residents’ questions. Hers was the only response we received but considering how tight time was in this election, we were amazed that we got any responses at all really. This is what THINK received:

Grenfell:

The first thing I did when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister was to write to him and ask him to prioritise two things in his premiership:

  • That we learn all the lessons of the Grenfell tragedy and that we take all steps necessary to ensure a tragedy of this kind never happens again

  • That we protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK

I am glad that the Conservative Government accepted all the recommendations of the First Phase of the Grenfell Inquiry and I wish to see them implemented with a sense of urgency.

It is critically important that we support the North Kensington community. I am glad that the Government is investing an

an additional Β£33.9 bn in the NHS and Β£2.3bn will be for mental health provision.

Air Quality

Air quality is one of the biggest issues we face in Kensington. I am proud of the Government’s achievements to date (first major country to legislate to be net carbon neutral by 2050; reduced greenhouse
gas emissions by a quarter since 2010 – the most of any G20 country) but there is a lot more that needs to be done.

Economy

It is only with a strong economy that we can afford world class public services. The Labour Party promises everything to everyone but the reality is that the Labour Party would run up debts which
would cripple our country; encourage businesses to leave the UK by threatening to seize 10% of the equity value of public companies and make business unworkable with a 4 day week. The mess and the public bill will have to be footed not only by the rich but
by everyone. It will be the poor and middle earners who suffer the most.

Crime

Crime

We are committed to recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers, including 1369 for London. The current level of crime is unacceptable – we need to adopt a zero tolerance approach.

Kind regards,

Felicity

We thank Felicity for her response but we are very worried that Grenfell and our community will get pushed aside and forgotten about in favour of others more politically sympathetic to the Conservative Party and those regarded as their potential voters. North Kensington residents did not see much of Felicity in the election campaign. But this is now and she does need to listen to and engage with us.

There are quite a few blogs around Kensington looking to put her to the question and one such blog is From The Hornets Nest. We only saw this today:

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2019/12/this-is-north-kensington-and-fthn.html?m=1

THINK will put questions to her in time, but for now we will just ask her for two things.

One is that she attends the Grenfell Silent Walk tomorrow. It will be exactly two and a half years since the fire and we will be walking in silence remembering the 72 members of our community πŸ’š we lost.

The walk will be gathering at 5:30pm outside Kensington Town Hall and will commence at 6:30pm.

We also ask that Felicity Buchan please takes up the issue of fire safety and cladding in Parliament .She came across in hustings as a staunch loyalist; but the Government really isn’t taking enough action on this issue.

Many traumatised residents here still live in a real life horror movie and we do not wish to see a sequel.

Friday the 13th

We are writing this after a very disappointing election result.

If our readers can bear to read the results in full, here they are:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2019/dec/12/uk-general-election-2019-full-results-live-labour-conservatives-tories

Yesterday we mentioned rights and freedoms and page 48 of the Conservative manifesto that two of our readers compared to 1930’s Germany.. Well this is the “democracy” the country has voted for:

Turkeys voting for Christmas? Or maybe THINKers are just a bunch of cosmopolitan Londoners who do not understand?

Talking of not understanding, we do not think that 68% people who voted tto remain in Kensington wanted to ” Get Brexit Done” here But this, again is our perspective.

Boris Johnson is no Santa Claus – the Earl’s Court masterplan and the Garden Bridge fiasco come to our minds when we think of his record in power, but that probably does not mean much to someone living in the shires or in a former mining area.

As for Kensington, Labour’s vote did hold up but it was not enough to stop the Conservatives from retaking the seat.

Emma Dent Coad is a North Kensington resident and formidable campaigner . Her support for some local campaigns like Save Wornington College and Friends of North Kensington Library made a big difference. Emma cared about those affected by Grenfell as she was herself. We will badly miss having a North Kensington voice and a grassroots campaigner as our MP.

Tomorrow the the 14th of December and exactly two years and six months since Grenfell. We worry that the needs of our community, the survivors and the bereaved will be ignored further. This cannot be allowed to happen.

We hope that Felicity Buchan becomes a lot more acquainted with our part of the borough and not just with the people who voted for her.