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……

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the details of the Planning Application:

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

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

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

Here are the details of the Planning Application :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But can’t or won’t, we wonder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

planning@rbkc.gov.uk

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

And Earl’s Court here: PP/21/00272

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

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

Shame on the Royal Brompton asset strippers

THINKers are very deeply disappointed with the decision of the board of the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust board of governors to accept the acquisition merger deal by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust yesterday

Residents and patients have been told excuses and lies about this by the board for ages.

This article below, “Merger deal paves way for huge land sale” can leave nobody in doubt as to what the motivations of the board really were::

https://www.hsj.co.uk/royal-brompton-and-harefield-nhs-foundation-trust/merger-deal-paves-way-for-huge-land-sale/7026836.article

This is what our friends at From The Hornets Nest said yesterday:

“The decision by the governors to accept the takeover( for that is exactly what it is) is shameful.

And more galling is the lack of public scrutiny which one governor eloquently highlighted.

This is a bad decision to be regretted for years to come.

Michael Mates, the lead governor, demonstrated his arrogance by filing his fingers and fiddling with his mobile during this vital meeting.

Mates has a disgraceful record when it comes to matters judgmental as does the chairman, Sally Morgan.

A shameful day for our Borough.

Praise in particular for Cllr Kemahli who did so much to fight for the Royal Borough.”

Going down the tube: South Kensington station plans are a one way ticket to over-development

Today is the last day for formal objections to the South Kensington Station redevelopment proposals to be in by. Readers can join us and send your objections in to RBKC via this link

We are also informed that today is the technical deadline, for RBKC’s planning officers to take views into account but that the RBKC Planning Committee will be accepting comments and views from residemts right up until the date this goes to the Committee. (No date has been announced as yet .)

One thing that unites all residents of this borough, North or South, no matter what their political affiliations are or whatever other issues are, is the concern about over-development and the need to preserve the unique character and history of our borough. THINKers might live at the other end of the borough, but the protection and maintenance of our historical features and the character of our residential areas and wanting the very best for our communities is a matter for all.

THINK believe that the controversial plans from TfL and Qatari-based developer Native Land pose a threat to the streetscape, the skyline, and the local community and will change the character of South Kensington for the worse.

Here are just a few reasons why we are opposed to the plans :

– The design and height for the new station is out of place with the location and nearby listed buildings and will dominate the whole of South Kensington, obscuring protected views of the museums from all sides of the area

The proposed 5 storey bullnose is more of an eyesore than a landmark. The Save Our South Kensington website has pictures showing the impact of this here

– It had been reported in some parts of the local news that the redevelopment would bring step-free access to South Kensington station. This is not true. TfL had planned to include lifs from the District and Circle line platform (but not the Piccadilly Line) to a new entrance at Thurloe Street, to increase the size of the District /Circle platform and to upgrade the ticket hall but now they have refused to commit to this; therefore the only real positive in these redevelopment plans has been removed. Residents and visitors alike concerned about the lack of step-free access can make their case to TfL on the Transport For All website here but we think that troubled and tone deaf TfL will be far more preoccupied with their own financial crisis and are very unlikely to listen.

– The developers’ case for providing “affordable” housing has been overstated. In fact they are only planning to provide 27% affordable housing, even though council rules state they must have a minimum of 35%. None of the housing will be for social rent. and they will be demolishing 25 existing homes as part of the plans.

– As for RBKC Planning rules, there appear to be countless breaches of these – and the Save Our South Kensington campaign website has listed them all in detail here:

https://www.saveoursouthkensington.com/planning-breaches

Residents and representatives say no!

A Queen’s Gate resident who was already concerned about the Holiday Inn Forum Hotel in Cromwell Road and what could possibly happen on the Earl’s Court site, said “Plans show tall buildings from South Kensington to Hammersmith with none fitting into the existing streetscape”

Andrew, a resident said “The station design does not fit in with our historical area at all and they will be ruining listed buildings and features for this. It will be an ugly centrepiece for South Kensington that nobody wants”.

Some residents have also told us that they are concerned about Pelham Street the loss of light, the unnecessary extra retail units and the extra waste and disturbance this will bring. They are concerned that this could also encourage crime and anti-social behaviour to the area.

Almost every resident we spoke to on this felt that these plans, especially considering the excessive height and the lack of regard for listed buildings, historical features and protected views, could be a slippery slope to more and bigger development plans coming to the local area.

Cllr Greg Hammond who represents nearby Courtfield Ward, had this to say to us: “I was hoping for a conservation-led approach to the development of South Kensington station, but am bitterly disappointed. The proposal is the antithesis of conservation-led, being a collection of glass and steel buildings that are totally inappropriate right in the middle of a conservation area, and also block protected views of the Grade 1 listed museums and cause some physical damage to the listed station building too in their construction. To add insult to injury, TfL have also cancelled the much-needed capacity improvements to the station, so there are really very few benefits left for residents. I will do everything possible to support local residents make the case to the Planning Committee to reject this application.”

Kensington MP Felicity Buchan, plus a number of other RBKC councillors including Mary Weale, Janet Evans, Quentin Marshall and Sof McVeigh have made it clear that they against the redevelopment proposals too

The Kensington Society have also submitted their objections to the proposals and these have appeared on fellow Kensington blog From The Hornets Nest here

Local groups and residents associations opposed to the plans include Thurloe Owners and Leaseholders Association (TOLA), Pelham Residents Association (PRA), Ovington Square Residents Association, Earl’s Court Square Residents Association, Milner Street Area Residents Association, South Kensington and Queen’s Gate Residents Association, Drayton Neighbourhood Association, Melton Court Residemts Association, SouthKen Station Tenants Association, and South Kensington Busimess Association.

North Kensington stands with South Kensington

THINK believe these proposals sbow no regard for South Kensington, its history, its buildings, local businesses or residents. Instead the only thing that these plans appear to have in mind is bringing in maximum profit for TfL and the developers , which will be at the expense of destroying the character of the local area and bring no benefit whatsoever to either residents or visitors

We call on our readers who share our opposition to these plans to send in your objections to the RBKC Planning Committee and to sign up to the Save Our South Kensington campaign for updates.

Below is another picture of the planned station design which shows just how imposing the new building would be over the whole of the South Kensington and how out of keeping with the character of the area it would be. We stand with the residents of South Kensington and say NO to the plans. We are not outright opposed to any redevelopment of the station per se, but there has to be a better way forward and this is very definitely not it.

No “Other Place” like home for the Prime Minister’s friends

Dear oh dear. No matter which political party is in power, the shameful tradition of friends of the Prime Minister being parachuted into the House of Lords and given a job for life continues and seems to get ever worse.

Only a few of the people on Friday’s list of 36 – here – are considered to be anything like “the great and the good”….

“House of Conmen”?

Boris Johnson has no shame and even decided to award a peerage to his own brother!

Here’s what From The Hornets Nest has to say:

http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-sleaziest-pm-since-harold-wilson.html?m=1

Peerage for Daniel Moylan

Boris Johnson’s judgement does appear to be questionable to say the least and many locals here are certainly questioning Boris’ decision to award his pal Daniel Moylan with a peerage too

Former RBKC councillor Daniel Moylan was also a former Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member of our council and former Deputy Chair of TFL and he of course, is no stranger to this blog….

Honourable mentions? We’ll just mention a few things that Daniel Moylan would probably like people to forget about:

– Many residents were less than impressed with Moylan’s multimillion “shared space” overhaul of Exhibition Road

– No love lost between Moylan and the Taxpayers’ Alliance or indeed Moylan and the disability charities and residents concerned about pedestrian safety in Exhibition Road. Moylan even sunk to trying to discredit one disabled resident and accuse them of pretending to be blind!

– As for taxpayers – we” ll also mention that when Moylan was in the RBKC Cabinet – thousands of pounds of public money was spent on shipping council papers to Moylan’s holiday home in Bangkok

– Moylan’s friendship with Peter Bingle and his acceptance of hospitality from Terrapin Communications.On tbe menu? Likely to have been the Kensington Odeon and also the controversial regeneration schemes that were planned for North Kensington . Their last meeting? Exactly a week before Grenfell.

– As for the Kensington Odeon, Moylan had been going around the media calling the cinema a “flea pit” – oh but of course he just happened to be accepting hospitality from Terrapin who were acting on behalf of the developers wrecking our beautiful art deco cinema and turning it into luxury flats ….. See this in The Steeple Times.

– Moylan removed references to his being a former Non Executive Director of both Glanmore Property Fund and Guernsey-based British Real Estate from his website after we posted this

– Brexiteer Moylan also just happened to get his Irish citizenship at right around the same time as the EU referendum was taking place for some reason…

– And not forgetting Moylan showing his utter contempt for our affected North Kensington community by dozing off in a meeting of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee

We’re only surprised not to see Sir Merrick Cockell and Peter Bingle donning the red robes and ermine too but no doubt they soon will be – what a s@#* shower!

Scandals? News? Here’s what’s really scandalous

Various different emails that might be considered of interest get sent to our blog, and in a boring long hot Summer of lockdown, people send us all manner of things – some of which unfortunately we cannot share.

We’re sorry that we cannot share everything with our readers – we are a public blog and have a responsibility to be careful and not to get in too much of a spot of bother..

But we are concerned as to what our council decides to share and not to share with residents.

One thing we are bothered about is the question of how much council effort and how much of our public money is being wasted on the RBKC PR magazines and newspapers that keep flooding our doors.

Every month, residents of North Kensington get a copy of North Ken News (which we’ve mocked up a cover of! ) . There is usually very little information usually provided in this – same goes for the other council magazines.

Another thing we are really bothered about and sonething which will bother plenty of other residents receiving North Ken News this month is seeing RBKC’s self measuring of their Grenfell Recovery Strategy in millions – without actually answering directly exactly where all that money is going. Because many locals here certainly have questions about the lack of transparency over the money see this.

We also note in RBKC’s PR self- analysis of the supposed Grenfell Strategy , that they appear to think that affected older residents do not exist……

Anyway, there are far too many of these publications and most of them end up in the bin It is also confusing to the few residents who do read them, where to find what.

So how much do we pay for these PR exercises? Well, they usually don’t say (and an FOI request is likely to get no response) but the council website does actually give the costings of North Ken News (probably because they’re tired of angry residents asking them how much they are wasting on it) – which works out at an estimated total (they might decide to spend more or less later in the year we guess ) of ¬£93,684 per year – on a publication that nobody round here actually wants. Who knows how much all the others cost?

Also not included in North Ken News, Our Borough, Housing Matters. etc (could be here all day listing them) are forms for important consultations and surveys . Like this one, below, on the Scrutiny programme at the council. As well as asking for more council Scrutiny meetings and for the re8nstatement of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, we are also asking that RBKC Communications and PR and spending on this comes under Scrutiny from councillors too. The deadline is tomorrow Friday July the 31st – and we encourage all our local readers to join us in putting their views on Scrutiny too:

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/survey/scrutiny2020/scrutiny.htm

RBKC tell us that they put all these magazines out to be inclusive to residents who aren’t online – but then they exclude these particular residents from all the important consultations!

We think that RBKC wasting our money on pointless PR while still neglecting many affected North Kensington residents and then the refusals to listen to and be open and honest with people, is truly what is outrageous and scandalous.

For those who are really interested in goings on at RBKC , local blogs like the excellent From The Hornets Nest are a far better and more entertaining and informative read anyway – and like our blog, costs the taxpayers zilch.

Foster and Reid:¬† The Planning “Duo of Destruction”

Sue Foster and Amanda Reid: Now fighting with residents at a venue near you


Two tone deaf¬† RBKC¬† planning suits with backgrounds in regeneration¬† appear to have¬† been in the act of picking fights ¬†with this borough’s¬† residents and waging war on our communities.

We have posted about Sue Foster, Interim Director of Planning and Place who came to us from Lambeth before here Рbut she seems to have had a short stay at Hornton Street  and now,  Amanda Reid who  came here from Newham has taken over the top job

From The Hornets Nest have been reporting on the controversial plans for Avon House in Allen Street Kensington¬† – which have over 120 objections from local residents and we suggest our readers pay a visit to The Dame’s excellent blog here¬† and here for further background on the matter


Not satisfied with getting on the wrong side of residents in Allen Street,¬†¬† Foster and Reid¬† appear to¬† have¬† formed¬† a “tag team” duo and have also been in the act¬† of harassing the owners of a much-loved North Kensington independent pub.

The owners of Ariadne’s Nectar Batin Latimer Road¬† have been issued with planning notices from both Reid and Foster over the temporary front porch that was¬† erected to keep down noise levels and also the¬† outdoor smoking area and awning¬† – which have¬† been¬† there¬† for years and help to keep down noise and also¬† to keep¬† people who aren’t customers of the pub from hanging around outside
The “offending” outdoor area

Some will be wondering why, when many other pubs and restaurants in the locality also have these  , what is the problem?


As both Amanda and Sue come fron from out of town, we  have to explain to them that the problem is  just ONE  household  who converted a chip shop nearby to a  residential property and has been harassing the pub  owners for years and making  various complaints about them just because they do  not  happen to like having a pub in the locality, even though this pub has been in business for 18 years and a pub has been on that site since 1888

The ” tag team duo of destruction ”¬† were very keen to point out¬† to the owners of Ariadne’s that the pub is located in a conservation area – but what they might not know¬† is that the pub has the support of most of the residents who live there and that the local¬† St Quintin Woodlands¬† Neighbourhood Forum some time back applied for the pub to have Asset of Community Value status.

Many residents around¬† Notting Hill Gate will not miss¬† “Grim Reaper” Sue¬† as she is partly to thank for the RBKC Planning Committee approving¬† this¬† 173¬† bed Hotel last¬† October¬† that over 60 local residents concerned about the size, height and mass of the building¬† objected to – but were compleyely ignored.


Below  is a picture taken from that meeting,   to show  just how intrusive and disturbing to residents  in  Victoria Gardens this hotel will be:

No peace & quiet for residents of Victoria Gardens

Others who share our concerns¬† about regeneration,¬†¬† those who want to support¬† our local¬† small businesses¬† and¬† those who worry about¬† over-development¬† and too many tall buildings in the borough¬† and the character of our neighbourhoods being ruined¬† – ¬† will be concerned to know¬† that Amanda¬† “Newham Nightmare ” Reid¬† before coming to RBKC, presided over¬† controversial regeneration schemes in Newham¬† and the redevelopment of Stratford Town Centre.¬†

It is very worrying  that  some figures  at our council  seem to believe that suits from Newham or Lambeth know more  about our neighbourhoods  than the people who actually live here.

Residents¬† all over RBKC¬† will be sleeping with one eye open and that eye being kept firmly on whatever comes up before¬† the¬† Planning Committee next…..




You’ll find our suits doing the Lambeth Walk

(L to R: Sue Foster, Iago Griffith & Rachel Sharpe)

These days  we  have more suits  (senior staff) than ever before and also less accountability  and transparency than ever before.

The RBKC  Leadership Team  (Cabinet) do keep telling us that there will be no regeneration – so why are they hiring so many suits who have cut their cloth in regeneration in other London urban areas then? Let’s look at three from Lambeth….

These suits do not come cheap: Sue Foster – now our Director of Planning and Place  received a ¬£90K “golden goodbye” from Lambeth  bedore arriving here and Rachel Sharpe   – received ¬£84K.  Before she danced off to Lambeth, Rachel was  Head of Strategy and Regeneration at Southwark. But Rachel has itchy feet  and has recently walked off to  sunny Brighton

Rachel “Wendolene” Sharpe was here for a  short and unremarkable time – this post is pretty much all most of us got from her all expenses paid flying visit  to the Royal Borough – she will not be missed- and we wonder how much she was paid off?

Both Rachel and Sue had been singing and dancing around Lambeth for some time and are not too fondly remembered by residents there  as they are two of the suits behind the  controversial regeneration and the destruction of several  social housing estates.

Residents of low rise Cressingham Gardens  have been fighting an incredible campaign to save their homes. Read more about this here

Sue Foster before arriving at RBKC,    was “playing the spoons” as Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods and Growth at Lambeth. Foster didn’t just attack social housing though, Network Rail’s redevelopment of Brixton Arches   – which came with termination of leases and rent increases to small businesses  by as much as 300% was aided and abetted  by Foster and her Lambeth colleagues.

A fitting tribute to Foster and her Lambeth colleagues at Brixton Arches

Before she was at Lambeth, between 2002 and 2008, Foster was the Assistant Director for Regeneration and Planning at Hackney but in 2006, Hackney council was heavily criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman in three reports for failing to take action on planning breaches over several years

The Ombudsman had said ‚ÄúThere were very serious failures, with delays in taking action of several years. It is fair to say the planning department was in a state of complete disarray,‚ÄĚ but that didn’t stop Sue from remaining in her post, getting an OBE for her services to planning after being nominated by her friend, Hackney’s Chief Executive and going on to bigger things.

Iago Griffith is not as much of a senior suit as Foster and Sharpe, but he also danced over to us from Lambeth where he was  one of Foster’s underlings and working in – you guessed it – regeneration He is now  supposed to be a Resident Engagement Officer at RBKC but is rarely seen or heard from. Most of us wonder what he is doing here, but we guess that his former boss Mrs Foster put in a few good words….

Back to  local matters in Kensington and From The Hornets Nest reporting on Harry “Bimbo” Hart and his controversial (to say the least) plans for a supposed “luxury care home” at Avon House, Allen Street here

We were warned  by our Lambeth friends about Sue Foster coming to Kensington before and the warnings appear to  have been on point, as she is trying to steamroller the Planning Comnittee and is flying in the face of residents’ objections (127 of them so far) by pushing   for this schene that will bring nothing to the area and wil impact heavily on the lives of the  people nearby – see this From The Hornets Nest blog post

Worryingly, the “Quality Review Panel” that our council now has set up, seems an easier way to get schemes like this through as well as any possible regeneration schemes. We wonder if this was Mrs Foster’s idea?

This comment, below,  from someone  regarding how Sue Foster allegedly has  behaved towards residents in her former borough,  below, is far from reassuring, and so is the nickname that  Lambeth locals give her: The Grim Reaper

Young Bambi has a lot to learn

We originally thought because of his positive communications with local groups and residents and with his opposition to the Kensington Forum Hotel redevelopment scheme, that Lead Member for Transport and Planning Johnny Thalassites was a positive addition to the RBKC Cabinet last year.

However, his appearing to be the developers’ spokesman and his ridiculous spin regarding the Kensington Odeon (which resulted in his receiving one of our Piglet-Pie Awards) is making us reconsider.

So has his leaving local conservation groups out of the Quality Review Panel as reported on From The Hornets Nest here.

But the council has fortunately listened after a meeting with the Chelsea Society and now there will be representative members from Kensington Society and the Chelsea Society on the panel – here

We do not think Cllr Thalassites has bad intentions for the borough , but his inexperience is leading to some silly decisions and could ruin his previously good relations with residents as well as the reputation of both him and the departments that he is responsible for in general. Everyone makes mistakes but we really hope he learns from them.

As for planning, there are more than enough unscrupulous developers and other persons with vested interests around here who will have him for breakfast if he isn’t too careful.

By the way, Bambi gets his nickname from sitting at a meeting looking absolutely terrified like a deer in the headlights and hiding behind Catherine Faulks from angry residents.

Residents can put their questions to him for another RBKC Question Time by tomorrow, Thursday June the 25th Send your written or video questions in to socialmedia@rbkc.gov.uk

(and let’s hope Bambi doesn’t hide then!)

Seriously though, Johnny Thalassites might want to read further on into our next post to see some of our concerns about the Quality Review Panel too……

No happy ending for the Kensington Odeon

Last month brought some disappointing news for us when the RBKC Planning Committee rubber stamped the developer Lodha’s amendments to the Kensington Odeon site.

The good news is that there will be a cinema and a few token affordable homes , er – that’s it.

The bad news is that cinema will be reduced in size from 5,786m2 to 4,867m2 and supposedly on the site of the Post Office next door.

Presumably developers Lodha and architects Squire and Partners consider the art deco foyer – the only part of the original cinema that remains – to be too good for the public, so we will likely have to make do with a characterless new little modern cinema instead. See From The Hornets Nest here and The Steeple Times here

There will be 35 “affordable” homes – half of which are recommended in official guidelines (and here is how affordable is defined according to the Mayor of London’s office ) – which will be in a separate building in Earl’s Court Road (they can’t do poor doors anymore).

As for the luxury flats – because what Kensington really needs are more empty luxury flats – there will be 71 of them.

Oh Рand the developers have chucked in a token £2,9 million into the council because RBKC said so Рthat will probably buy a couple of homes in the Royal Borough, or far more likely be used to dump people on the housing waiting list outside London or possibly to help pay some outstanding repair costs (thanks to KCTMO neglect) to existing council properties.

So the outcome is not a good one – not for filmgoers, not for locals and is going to do very little to help our social housing problem when you really look at the details.

We guess something is better than nothing sure enough, and we hope (fingers crossed) that some of the homes are genuinely SOCIAL and that the community of Kensington can bring some character to the little cinema, but this is a very bitter pill to swallow for many of us.

Built in 1926, the Kensington Odeon has a very special place in the hearts of so many of us and so do the incredible Friends of Kensington Odeon campaigners – who fought so hard to preserve this building and previously had an ingenious alternative plan – wih financial backing too– see this – to bring it back into use with a new lease of life as cinema and arts centre but philistines RBKC rejected the Friends’ application for the cinema to be listed as an Asset of Community Value

Their campaign had the backing of nearly 30,000 residents (including us in the days before this blog) plus high profile celebrity backing too, but Historic England – or rather, “Catastrophic England”, shamefully refused to list the building, and RBKC and Government didn’t care, sitting back and letting previous developers Delancey, and the current ones Lodha and the architects of the plan under both developers, Squire and Partners (one of whom called the Kensington Odeon “rubbish”) , destroy the beautiful interior – what a disgrace.

RBKC did at the time, have Terrapins in the tank. We are referring to Daniel Moylan and “Jailhouse” Rock Feilding-Mellen and their friend Peter Bingle and his firm, Terrapin Communications.

Our blog has written about Daniel Moylan and Terrapin Communications before – here , here and here. For those who don’t know, Terrapin Communications are the property PR lobbyists acting for both Delancey and then Lodha and then councillor Daniel Moylan is such a good friend of Peter Bingle, that he disgracefully went about putting the developers case and calling the Kensington Odeon a flea pit” as well as publicly dismissing the campaign and the alternative plans.

We have more on Peter Bingle and Terrapin and their other activities in Kensington in our blog that might be of further interest to coming soon….

To rub further salt in the wounds, a couple of members of the RBKC Cabinet went on Twitter afterwards, treating this as some sort of victory and as a huge success – step forward Johnny “Bambi” Thalassites and Cem “Thumper” Kemahli:

Well, these unconvincing performances certainly won’t be winning Oscars or BAFTAS any time soon, but not to worry, we have a certain award of our own that fits the bill……

For vulgar behaviour on social media and for putting ridiculous false narrative and outrageous spin on what is an absolute disgrace and what nobody outside Hornton Street, (besides the developers and their clientele), really thinks is a fantastic outcome, THINK are proud to present Johnny “Bambi” Thalassites, Lead Member for Planning and Transport, and Cem “Thumper” Kemahli, Lead Member for the Environment, with a Piglet-Pie Award:

We do not seriously think they are daft enough to believe that Kensington High Street will get a huge boost from more space devoted to flats for buy to leave investors than a cinema (and we think of what could have been) Johnny Thalassites – Bambi in the headlights – appears to be very susceptible to whatever the developers tell bim and then goes and acts as their spokesman!

A look on the RBKC gifts and hospitality register doesn’t show anything, but then again not every councillor declares everything……..

CREDITS

Credit has to go to the outstanding Friends of Kensington Odeon whose original, intelligent and informative campaign has been one of the hardest fought, most determined and longest running that Kensington has ever seen. We take off our THINKing caps to them.