As it is Christmas, we decided to compile our own naughty and nice lists of RBKC councillors and suits.
So, who has been naughty and who has been nice this year?
Matthew Palmer (Independent, Queen’s Gate Ward)
No surprises here, and now he has been kicked out of the Conservative Party and is not serving on any committees, Cllr Matthew Palmer’s sole purpose at RBKC seems to be to get money for nothing as he is simply being paid to turn up – and just sit there without contributing a single thing. Residents have also informed us that he is paid to sit on the WRWA (West Riverside Waste Authority) at Smuggler’s Way https://wrwa.gov.uk/waste-authority/
And he does nothing there (does only introducing yourself at the start of a meeting and sitting there doing nothing really there count as “work”?)
Well, Cllr Palmer may not have much to say on waste and recycling but he certainly knows how to waste our taxpayers’ money! Unfortunately for him, being out of the Conservative Party will mean that his Queen’s Gate constituents will be binning him in 2022.
Also, Cllr Palmer was ordered back in 2018 to apologise to our friend Eddie Daffarn by the RBKC Audit and Transparency Committee over upsetting remarks made over Grenfell and sprinklers at a Full Council Meeting as we reported here:
Matthew Palmer’s offensive behaviour lands him in trouble
But OVER TWO YEARS LATER, he has still failed to apologise – disgraceful
Marwan Elnaghi (Labour, Notting Dale Ward)
Now we are very disappointed to have to hand our this lump of coal as we know Cllr Elnaghi well and have worked with him on campaigns before, but he is hopelessly out of his depth as Chair of the RBKC Adult Social Care and Health Select Committee, and everyone knows it.
At the special Royal Brompton meeting, Cllr Elnaghi’s “contribution’ was to basically let the NHS bosses talk and talk and he failed to question them , and even far worse, completely failed to allocate time for residents to speak at this meeting. We would not be a fair blog if we simply only pointed the finger at Conservatives for shutting residents out of meetings, and this was really only the last chance that most of them had to raise questions and make points over this.
The most recent meeting of that Committee showed some improvement from him, but too little too late we say because his earlier performances as Chair have been lacklustre at best and it really saddens us that a North Kensington Labour councillor is not accepting that he is not up to the job. He is letting both his community and other communities down by putting his own interests first in staying and taking the money and not properly taking responsibility for running down this, one of the most important council committees, and doing the right and honourable thing and resigning
Barry Quirk – RBKC Chief Executive
We could sit here forever and reel off a list of suits who have failed us – Iago Griffith and the resident engagement failure here:
We say it’s time for Iago to go-go (and for other useless suits to stop hanging round like yo-yos)
is a notable example of this..
But ultimately, who is to blame is the top suit who is responsible for many of these appointments so Barry Quirk, RBKC Chief Executive makes our naughty list this year.
Dr Quirk is also responsible for the appointment of his friend, forner Head of Strategy at Lewisham Robyn Fairman as Deputy chief Executive and Grenfell Executive, whose only real Grenfell legacy has been to ignore most of the community around Grenfell, and cause tension and division between various residents and residents’ groups and also to help cause divisions and friction between residents and survivors, that previously did not exist. Panto horse Dobbin Fairman has exited the RBKC stage now and will certainly not be missed by most of us living in the North of the borough.
Thanks to Bookworm Barry, we have had loads of expensive fly-by-night interim suits who achieved very little but like him, have commanded six figure salaries – these include Rachel Sharpe and Sue Foster – both of whom have since left (not that many of us noticed when they left) .
At such a time of economic hardship, our residents are now faced with increased council tax, increased rent and increased service charges partly to pay for all of this which is hard to justify when there are so many areas showing little to no improvement – not least in North Kensington .
Perhaps some Christmas holiday reading might be in order?
Or perhaps not, because if the Plain English Campaign reads some of Barry’s books or sees his speeches, they might strip our borough of our once prized Crystal Mark when they try to get through his particular style of corporate-managerial-jargon-speak , most of which is unintelligible to most people outside backgrounds like his. No wonder our council still has communication problems despite spending more on PR than ever…
Elizabeth Campbell – Leader of RBKC (Conservative, Royal Hospital Ward)
There is no way we can complete this naughty list without the inclusion of perhaps, the naughtiest councillor of them all. It is Cllr Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell who ultimately has the final say in council policy, who signed off the appointments of most of Dr Quirk’s suits and who keeps failing our residents – as well as having past form serving in RBKC pre- Grenfell cabinets. And Dizzy Lizzy appears to be in the act of taking our council right back there; as we reported in this post:
Grenfell affected residents banned from questioning RBKC Grenfell Recovery policy
She has taken the backwards step of holding Leadership Team meetings without opening the floor to residents and to opposition councillors. Only one step backwards more will be a return of the meetings held behind closed doors , back when Nick Paget-Brown and “Jailhouse” Rock Feilding-Mellen were here .
In not allowing residents and other councillors to ask questions at these meetings, she is showing her contempt for democracy and for North Kensington and also for our most vulnerable residents – the last meeting had Grenfell and Covid-19 on the agenda.
Linda Wade (Liberal Democrat, Earl’s Court Ward)
Arguably one of RBKC’s hardest working councillors. Cllr Wade has canpaigned relentlessly for years for her local Earl’s Court area and the residents living there. She has steered the Covid-19 voluntary efforts in her community and goes above and beyond to help people in need. Her work has gone beyond Earl’s Court and she has helped many other residents living far and wide elsewhere in the borough. As well as that, she has also been very supportive to North Kensington residents affected by Grenfell, so we say a massive thank you to Linda Wade and we just wish there were more exceptional councillors like her.
Ian Henderson (Labour, Colville Ward)
As well as being an outstanding and inspirational campaigner who has worked hard and helped to save Chelsea’s Sutton Estate, Cllr Henderson has also been outstanding in his volunteering work and not just volunteering for the Covid-19 mutual aid – and not just in and around his ward. He, alongside his fellow Colville councillors Nadia Nail and Monica Press coordinated a lot of the donations for the council’s hubs and we thank them for this too.
Cllr Henderson has also campaigned for years to save the Royal Brompton Hospital and even though the acquisition deal is set to go ahead unless the Government intervenes , he is still campaigning on this, is calling for an inquiry into the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust and he has also highlighted the issue to others in the borough who were unaware of this scandal. A more than well deserved present from us goes to him
Robert Freeman (Conservative, Campden Ward)
If there is a councillor who deserves a prize for years of thoughtful intelligent contributions, questioning and scrutiny, it has to be Cllr Robert Freeman.
He is also another councillor who has highlighted the Royal Brompton hospital issue for years. His work in council committees has been outstanding and he has also contributed in his local Kensington communty – many of his Campden Ward constituents always have good words to say for him. Our blog might not always see eye to eye with many of the Conservative councillors but he is one of the decent and honourable ones – so we say a big thank you to Cllr Freeman whose place on our nice list is truly deserved.
Portia Thaxter (Labour, St Helen’s Ward)
Cllr Thaxter is well known for her outstanding voluntary work in the North Kensington community – especially her efforts with the North Kensington food bank and with residents affected hy Grenfell, plus has impressed many of her St Helen’s Ward constituents with her commitment and sheer hard work.
Portia Thaxter is what we would call a real community councillor who is much more of a North Kensington grassroots politician than a Town Hall based one, and has been an absolute breath of fresh air, as well as also being one of the kindest and most sincere councillors we know, so she more than deserves this present ftom us .
Special mentions have to go to a few others :
It is encouraging that RBKC is going ahead with much-needed works on residents (neglected for years and years by KCTMO) homes. But what is not so encouraging happens to be the scandalously huge bills – of up to an eyewatering £30,000 that leaseholders are having to pay for this.
If it wasn’t for the progress in measures our council is taking to improve fire safety, Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring would be getting a lump of coal – but we recognise that they have made some – not many but some – positive changes however so not this time.
We are also not pleased about the lack of information shared with residents over works that will be taking place this coming year. All residents received was a letter informing them of a meeting to discuss these two days ago, and if they missed this meeting – tough, because all the council papers actually say is “major works” Well major works to what exactly what in people’s homes some may ask? That is vague at best. If we knew exactly which suit was responsible for this appallingly poor communication with residents being kept in the dark as to what exactly will be done to their homes, they would be receiving a lump of coal too
As for almost-nice , a special mention has to go to Cllr Malcolm “Bananaman” Spalding. No, we haven’t gone bananas but we think he is the most improved councillor- we haven’t exactly been his biggest fans in the past – but this year he has helped out in his Earl’s Court Ward with raising money for the community , as seen here outside St Cuthbert’s Church some months back.
Cllr Spalding has spoken well and put in some research on the issue of holiday and short term lettings – something which affects many residents, especially in Earl’s Court, Kensington and South Kensington . Also his performance at the Royal Brompton meeting and his questioning of the acquisition/merger/sell off was a highlight for us.
So do keep up this good work Cllr Spalding, and you’ll make our “nice” list next time round!
A final special mention has to go to most of our North Kensington councillors, especially those with a lot of challenging casework and whose constituents are affected by Grenfell and are still waiting for justice.
Our thoughts at the time of year especially go out to the Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and members of our community. We are also thinking of people affected by Covid-19 and other residents who will be spending Christmas alone due to the restrictions.
Our best Christmas wishes go out to all our friends, relatives and supporters of our blog (too many to name here but you know who you are!) who have helped get us through these crazy crazy times.
We wish everyone – yes everyone, even those on our naughty list ! – a Merry Christmas and leave you with our version of the 12 Days of Christmas – RBKC style. As we remind our council that over three and a half years on, our residents are still waiting for that much-promised culture change. Perhaps we’ll get it after the New Year? Let’s hope so…