Tins of sardines and different kettles of fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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

 

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

 

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

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



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

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

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

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

“Wornington Greed” as catastrophic Catalyst ignores the community and cuts down pollution-absorbing trees

We’re so sorry to share the sad news that the Catalyst Housing chainsaws came to North Kensington last Monday and cut the majority of the mostly mature Wornington Green trees down.

Here is a video one of us took of locals and environmental campaigners out there:

These trees are irreplacecable and the devastion this has caused to the local environment is irreversible. The Wornington Green Estate (being renamed “Portobello Square” by Catalyst as there will hardly be any “green” left afterwards) community and the campaigners all asked Catalyst Housing to think again, to redraw their regeneration plans (approved by onw vote 10 years ago), all to no avail, as the greedy Housing Assoication’s number one priority is making money out of all the luxury flats they plan to build there and to hell with what the residents and community think or feel and the consequences of cutting down mature London plane trees which obsorb polltuion from the neighbouring Westway.

Here are some further pictures from Monday.

Here are scenes of the devastation later:

Catalyst Housing maintain the position that the trees will need to be cut down in order to build more badly needed homes. Well, let’s see about that shall we? Because with only TWO of the homes in the next phase being for social rent, here, despite their denials that these are luxury flats, are really what type of homes this supposed”social housing provider” will be building:

That’s right, in Catalyst’s own words; “luxury apartments”. As well as the moral issue of many of these supposedly much-needed homes across the road from where the reees were cut down last Monday remaining empty when we have a housing and homelessness crisis in London, particularly in this borough, there is also another moral issue in our view; and that is of that of the Association being in the act of ruining the local environment and public realm as well as the physical and mental health of residents in Golborne – RBKC’s poorest ward – in order to build them.

The video below is of when the first tree came down and so we will warn readers that this may be distressing for some to watch;

(Apologies for our appalling camerawork there but we were taking our morning exercise.)

Our blog has also heard further disturbing news and that is of plans to fell the mature trees in Athlone Gardens; we understand that the Catalyst chainsaws will be there either tomorrow or Wednesday.

This has been news to the residents and campaigners, but RBKC must have been fully aware of this – especially as Athlone Gardens is a public park managed by the council. THINK are emailing this blog post to both Cllr Johnny Thalassites, RBKC Lead Member for Planning, Place and the Environment, as well as to Cllr Emma Will, RBKC Lead Member for Community Safety, Culture and Leisure (parks, comminity gardens and open spaces are part of her brief) , so let’s see if we get any answers…

Here are some further questions that we hope both RBKC and Catalyst Housing will provide answers to:

– What are the total number of trees that have been felled in the first 9 years of regeneration?

– What types of trees were these?

– How many trees have been planted to replace the ones lost in the regeneration?

– What types of trees are the replacement trees?

– What is the calculation for the mitigation to offset any loss, and how long will it take?

– What are the projected impacts in our health and wellbeing in such a polluted area – is this planning impact legal?

Here is a reminder to both Catalyst Housing and RBKC; the community is watching you and we stand with the Wornington Green residents, we demand answers and better communications with locals on this, and our coverage of the effects on the local community and environment there will continue. After all, we are North Kensington residents too and we care deeply about this . While some of the officials don’t care and while others may turn a blind eye to what is happening , they do find it harder to ignore this when they receive further well-deserved bad publicity……

THINK will end this post with some beautiful pictures of the trees and a look back to when Wornington Green residents and the community enjoyed them and the benefits and beauty they brought to North Kensington.

Wornington Green trees to face axe tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

We ask RBKC to think again

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

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

Wornington Green: Still green for now

This morning, Catalyst Housing were set to chop down 37 trees on the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington.

Catalyst are not exactly the most considerate and thoughtful of housing associations, having completely ignored the calls from Wornington Green residents, other North Kensington locals and some of our local representatives to reconsider their plans and save the trees (most of which are mature pollution absorbing plane trees), and the housing association decided to turn up with their chainsaws this morning.

But Catalyst probably didn’t reckon on a big turnout of residents, locals and groups , including members of the Labour Party, local Golborne councillor and Leader of the RBKC Opposition, Pat Mason, members of the local Green Party and members of the Kensington branch of Extinction Rebellion, to all be taking their peaceful socially distanced morning exercise out there too.

After a stand off and the Police being called for no reason, “Catastrophic Housing” decided to clear off. The trees are still here.

We thank everyone who turned up this morning in support, and all who shared and posted on social media, including Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Judith Blakeman and Green Party PPC for Cities of London and Westminster and London Assembly candidate, Zack Polanski.

We especially thank the local residents and campaigners who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of this community and conserving our environment, both now and for generations to come.

But callous Catalyst say they will be back to chop down the trees next week.

So we have this to say to them:

” As long as you refuse to listen to and respect the needs and wishes of your residents and the North Kensington community and as long as you pose a threat to our environment, and as long as you refuse to change your plans, this community will stand together against you.

The fact that lots of people turned out early in the cold, the petition to save the trees gained over 1,000 supporters in such a short space of time, and even the present RBKC Leadership do not support your destructive plans, all ought to be strong indicators that you need to think again.

Members of this blog had planned to be there this morning too, but only due to personal circumstances, we unfortunately couldn’t make it, but THINKers will be out there taking our morning exercise next week, when you have said you will return to chop down the trees.

Do not underestimate the power of community and how we feel about our environment, our trees and our green spaces here – they are invaluable to us – and mean far, far, more to the locals of North Kensington than your luxury flats ever will”

This isn’t over……

Wornington Green: Not up-to-scratch Catalyst scheme gets hissed at by residents and councillors

Residents living on the Wornington Green Estate have been campaigning against plans by Catalyst Housing to chop down 42 trees – as we reported previously in this post:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2020/12/04/wornington-green-green-no-longer-north-ken-residents-fight-to-save-42-trees/

The Wornington Green redevelopment scheme had been given the green light (but only just, by a majority of one) by the RBKC Planning Committee back in 2010.

Over 1000 people – including 160 Wornington Green residents – have signed the petition to save the trees and to call for meaningful consultation over this. Catalyst Housing have said some of the trees will need to be removed in order to build new homes, but campaigners and North Kensington locals , including us, believe the trees to be crucial to the public realm and the environment and to the wellbeing of the local residents.

Aftter New Year, the trees are thankfully still here – well for now anyway.. Last month, some of the residents and campaigners addressed the RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Also there were a couple of representatives from Catalyst present. Here’s what happened:

Keith Stirling, resident of the Wornington Green Estate: “We are in-a very very precarious position In fact regarding the felling of trees, our oxygen and the Ozone Layer. Chopping down trees, doesn’t help. The people of Wornington Green and the wider area need their trees.” He pointed out that the area is deprived of trees and that London plane trees supply the most oxygen. He said that Athlone Gardens was being regenerated as well and that it was a perfect place to transplant the trees – he had looked into it.

Constantine Gras, multimedia community artist and campaigner, who started the petition : “I”ve just heard that Catalyst have been listening to residents – they’ve just posted a newsletter to us. I think they’ve revised their plans to fell 42 trees down to 37″ Well that’s a start….

Constantine said that the Royal Borough “from posh squares to green housing spaces loves its trees and looking at the trees and listening to the birdsong – more so now as we’re stuck at home under Covid-19 restrictions”.

He emphasised the environmental benefits of trees here: “Trees in North Kensington, they really are a matter of life and death – the carbon emissions here are among London’s highest. The RBKC air quality climate change action plan has reported that 7.6% of all deaths in the Royal Borough are attributed to air pollution. Green spaces and trees are vital for filtering out toxic particles, so every tree in the borough, especially these 50 year old mature London plane trees on Wornington Green Estate they will help the borough become carbon neutral in 2040; I believe that is a council commitment”

As a community artist who has worked on social housing estates in North Kensington, Constantine Gras knows that residents really value their trees and green spaces, so he was been shocked to hear over a month ago of Catalyst Housing’s plans to chop down the trees as part of the next phase of redevelopment and that most of the community were unaware of this. “There seemed to be no consultation on this – how is this possible in this day and age? It’s wrong on every level. Just imagine someone walking down Wornington Road and all of a sudden all the trees have been cut down. Is this the type of regeneration that creates a sustainable community? ”

Constantine had looked at the planning applications from Catalyst – about 20 of them, the most recent one was last October – all of which had a tree plan from 2009 attached, which had never been followed and was obviously out of date regarding the information contained – disgraceful.

He questioned the legality of the process as to whether the council would let development be carried out that wasn’t in accordance with the submitted plans and without updated environmental assesssments.

Residents had carried out their own assessments of how many trees had already been lost. In phases 1 and 2a of the redevelopment 55 trees were removed, 10 retained and just 27 new sapling trees were planted with only 8 in the public realm. For the whole of the redevelopment there will be a whopping 167 trees lost – mostly mature trees – and less than half of them will be replaced.

As we said before, we think that Catalyst are partly renaming the estate “Portobello Square” because there will likely be very little “green” left when they are done….

It was stated that as well as the impact of construction and demolition, there will also be new roads – which will increased traffic flow and will have a major environmental impact. Residents expect Catalyst Housing and RBKC to monitor measure and offset the carbon footprint of this redevelopment.

Constantine also pointed out that as Catalyst are worth around ¬£3 billion and half of the new homes are or will be for private sale, that it won’t put too much of a dent in their profits to build fewer private luxury flats. (prices start at ¬£600,000 for a 1 bedroom flat) and put their resources into building an innovative development around the trees. “Just who is benefiting from this regeneration? ”

Fearghal O’Hara from Catalyst Housing, who is a Regeneration Manager for Wornington Green and who is responsible for overseeing the new builds at Wornington Green, responded: “We understand the concerns about removal of trees. We understand that this is a concern at the moment when people are spending so much more time at home. around the local community appreciating the local green space.”

He said that Catalyst Housing try to avoid tree removal, and whenever they can, “buildings and streets are designed around trees” . Really? That’s not exactly reflected in the number of trees lost, from what Wornington Green and nearby residents tell us, or indeed viewed on our own visits to the estate…..

Mr O’Hara::”Unfortunately we do need to move trees in order to build more homes. We accept and share the view os the petitioners that there is a climate emergency. However, we also recognise that there is a growing demand for modern efficient housing in London and in this phase of development (2b), we are bulding 230 homes 108 of which are social rent homes.to energy efficient standards amd to reduce environmental impact” Sorry Mr O’Hara, but we’re far from convinced as to how large scale destruction of trees and greenery reduces environmental impact.

He went on: “There will be huge gains for the community aside from more modern homes as a result of this regeneration. There will be new community facilities, new public realm, and we’re creating a new green space in partnership with RBKC – that’s Athlone Gardens”

No, we cannot excuse this from Mr O’Hara, saying that Catalyst are creating community facilities, – they’re not; they’re replacing them. -. We think he has some downright nerve to say this to people who have been in or around the local area for years.

He did say that the regeneration since 2011 has brought an additional £1million to fund community development projects including services, jobs and training opportunities as well as after school clubs and funds for the Venture Centre.

Mr O’Hara said the tree plan had been agreed by RBKC in 2010 and as many new trees should be planted as possible and as many as possible should be retained. He said it would have been looked at carefully when the masterplan was designed.He said with regards to consultation, the masterplan was widely publicised at the time and while this was 10 years ago, the masterplan remains the blueprint for the regeneration and that subsequent planning permissions were given by RBKC in 2014, 2017 and 2019. Catalyst had according to him, held a number of events both online and in person and that the RSG – the Residents Steering Group that the housing association sees as integral to the project to represent to views of residents and helps to choose designs and recently helped with selecting a contractor and keeps the organisation close to comnunity opinion apparently.

He said that they were proposing to plant 16 additonal trees in the public realm, bring the total of new trees in the development to 69, but failed to say how many of the 69 trees would be in the public realm and how many would be plane trees

Cllr Johnny Thalassites Lead Member (cabinet] for Planning, Place and the Environment thanked Constantine for the petition and said: “We need to save as many trees as possible. I welcome the commitment to retain two additional trees and to plant some more. I’m grateful to Fearghal and his team for working with us on that, but I think the key thing I would say is that I knew from campaigns in my own ward saving trees in Holland Park Avenue just how emotive and valued trees can be in a community, and that they can be a real green lung for for a neighbourhood”

“So I really believe that we should work harder to protect the more of the trees. I tend to think we’ve not gone far enough yet, I think there’s work to do.”

He said that they needed to go further to work to saving the trees and implored Catalyst to keep wotking with council officers to save more of them and while more social housing provided was a good thing, he regretted the fact that the council could not do anything about the Planning decision made 10 years ago (before he was a councillor), he would want to retain the treet but his hands are tied as Catalyst has no legal compulsion to follow his directions.

“The mood in the council and the Leadership is certainly to protect community, to protect trees and to support local residents and in the north and across the borough.”

Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi (Conservative, Redcliffe) – and Chair of this very Committee asked Catalyst if there was any way that Catalyst could look at the plans again to try and save the trees.

Cllr Greg Hammond (Conservative, Courtfield Ward) asked for more clarity on the planning permission, as he understood that there was a time limit on planning permissions “Or is it because the development has already started planning permission is deemed to still be in existence because the building work was started?”

Martin Lomas Strategic developments Manager, RBKC Planning and Place; ” Planning permissions, effectively once they have been implemented, they exist in perpetuity and developing countries that planning permission out so when we grant planning permission they’re subject to a condition that requires them to commence within three years. But if they do commence within that time period, then effectively the permission is then available to the developer in perpetuity to carry out that development in accordance with that planning permission.”

Pat Mason (Labour,Golborne Ward) Leader of the RBKC Opposition is one of the local councillors for the estates and said he was there objecting at the Planning Committee 10 years ago and at the time the consultation was a “complete joke”

“Kensington Housing Trust that morphed into Catalyst had a history of having absolutely dreadful consultations that even the council at that time said were not sensible, were not representative of what residents think. I have the planning application in front of me as it happens . The planning application noted that there was a 540 signature petition against the application and there were 53, other main objections, including the local councillors, and these were on 40, different main points, and these included, the loss of trees, the removal of Athlone Gardens, because that was mentioned here, the road layout and speeding traffic”

He said that Lady Hanham, a former Leader of RBKC for 11 years, had objected to the scheme saying that ‘I’m voting against because I do not believe this application benefits the people of Wornington Green’ and we made a big fuss at the time about the fact that Athlone Gardens was going to be erased and replaced and it was going to take years and years for these trees to be knocked down, but the prevailing majority on the committee with the casting vote of the then Chair (former councillor Terence Buxton) voted for this, and we were horrified because you can’t cut down. nearly 100 trees, and not expect an environmental problem so I think they should redraw the masterplan”

He said the development was 60% private housing because Catalyst needs this to stand up financially: “It’s not about helping our people. Overwhelmingly we need social rent housing in Golborne, which is the poorest ward in England. We do not need more housing for the rich here”

“I think that they should redraw because they have a very unhappy community there, and very unhappy councillors, and they are adding to the desecration of the environment and I’m not persuaded by the soft platitudes of officers from Catalyst who are now speaking to me who were not there then. And who will be gone as soon as this development is built living up the mess that they created”.

Kim Taylor-Smith RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead (cabinet) member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment said he was grateful to Catalyst for looking again at the issue with the trees and also said that overall , the scheme provided more homes for social rent.

“The impacts in terms of obviously having improved housing and what that does in terms of the environment and I think we mustn’t forget that. We really are looking for as many socially rented homes as we possibly can. ”

He said he supported whar Cllr Thalassites was saying and that all of the trees should be looked at again and talked of the possibility of the borough “adopting ” the trees that cannot all go in Athlone Gardens and suggested that they could go in other parts of the borough.

David Lindsay (Conservative, Norland Ward) asked Catalyst to explain the nature of the consultations that Catalyst had with residents living in the area and nearby and to expand upon that because an observation of his, as a councillor was “when I have planning issues in my ward, typically, the person who is putting in the application testifies that they have given and spent a great amount of time, consulting with their neighbours when in actuality some neighbours don’t believe a word of it.”

Fearghal O’Hara responded by sauing thay Catalyst had been consulting with residents over the past few years and held numerous events, including a “Party in the Park” event at Athlone Gardens, where they presented their proposals for Phase 3. Catalyst had held many consultation meetings in relation to conservation and proposals on designs for Athlone Gardens which they had held in collaboration with RBKC. Catalyst hild monthly meetings with the RSG – Residents Steering Group- and he said they endeavour to keep the RSG abreast of upcoming proposals and actions. “In addition to that, personally I strive with my communications team to keep the locals updated as to what is happening in terms of construction and anything we believe will impact on the residents’ wellbeing.”

Cllr Lindsay asked residents if anything what Mr O’Hara had said then, bears any resemblance to their experience of consultations.

Keith Stirling:”I was a member of the steering group and have recently resigned over this business with the trees I was a member of that steering group for many, many years. And the consultations that passed, basically paying lip service to the residents on Wornington Green ” and that “Catalyst were going to do whatever they were going to do”.

Keith told the Committee that as far as the steering group went, it was around 4 to 5 people and didn’t really represent the whole of the estate. He had argued that more people should be involved with the RSG but that some did not want to belong to it as they didn’t belive what Catalyst was telling them. When he found out that Catalyst were going to chop down the trees, he was horrified and resigned because “I’m not going to sit in a room with people that are going to do this sort of damage to my environment”.

David Lindsay: “I think its abundantly clear that Catalyst have not taken their residents with them. ”

Cllr Rossi: “I agree. I think that the whole thing. You know it’s a 10 year old planning permission and that people are saying they only just found out in November, that this is is going to happen. In terms of communication, something has obviously gone very badly wrong”.

Cllr Janet Evans (Conservative, Courtfield Ward) said she thought what Kim Taylor-Smith had said on moving the trees elsewhere was a good idea as was concerned that if some were moved on site at this stage , they might not survive.

She asked Catalyst “How would you mitigate on the loss of the trees? Because people do need them, especially now. They need a psychological environment of beauty, and what can you give, in terms of a happy space?” And she asked Constantine if he would be happy with this.

Mr O’Hara replied that part of what Catalyst are proposing will be two blocls of flats surrounded by trees in the public realm and in addition to that, each block will have a courtyard, whereby residents on the blocks can look out upon gardens which are below ground level. He said that Catalyst see Athlone Gardens as a potential jewel in Wornington Green, “so at the end of the regeneration, it will be a green public space for all to enjoy”.

Constantine: “These trees are here, they’re Wornington Green trees, theu are quite fragile and precious, so I mean it’s a very last resort to contemplate doing that. I could imagine an environmentally sensitive architect who would be connected to the scheme could look at the plan. attempted to build the new blocks around the site of what’s here. So we have the ability of building, what’s here as a footprint, and that might give us the ability to try to build around the trees. Now, I don’t think it’s rocket science to look into that. I wish that was being explored. Just seems to be about, people often come into an area, developers, and they just want erase what’s there, and not take stock of the value of what’s there.”

Keith: “The green spaces on Wonington Green that we have at the moment are quite precious to us, we really do need them. Everybody on my estate here, we talk about it all the time, how how much we love those trees and how much we love the wildlife that lives in those trees.

He said it was a wonderful thing to get up in the morning and see birds and squirrels when you’re going to work. But they’ll all be gone and it will take away from out environment What are we doing? I remember there was a song about putting trees in a tree museum. Is that where we’re going? To pay to come and see trees?”

Cll Will Pascall (Conservative, Stanley Ward) and Chair of thr RBKC Environment Select Committee asked Catalyst specifically to follow up on what Kim Taylor-Smith had said, if they would he open to looking again at the trees that have to be cut down and seeing if there can be any modifications made to the design to allow some of them to stay and for others to be moved elsewhere locally He said that as London plane trees have specific benefits and these ones were old and magnificent. He spoke of planting the trees for the future and that several trees would need to be planted for each one taken down.

“Now, it seems to be in this situation there is no answer that will fulfill what Catalyst, want to do. What they’ve got planning permission to do on one hand, and what the residents, particularly the two people who brought this petition, have expressed on the other hand, that what Councillor Lindsay pointed out, is that what is missing from here is some kind of working together, and I think that what Councillor Kim Taylor Smith suggested was a very good suggestion towards that possibility. And my question is really as to whether Catalyst would be prepared to look at it seriously and to put some money behind it?”

Fearghal O’Hara: ” I have been working with a team of architects and landscape architects and structural engineers over the past months. We are not just brushing the concern aside and we have investigated the layout of the buildings and of the public ground, but the problem is these trees were planted with the layout of the estate” He said it’s almost impossible to build the buildings in the same layout and build around the trees. He said they do recognise the benefits of London plane trees and they are proposing to plant some on the scheme.

Cllr Pascall then re-asked part of his question ” part of the question which I don’t feel has been answered” regarding are Catalyst prepared to take on board what Kim Taylor-Smith said and look at the trees and which ones can move moved locally and which ones cannot, if and if they cannot, can be moved elsewhere in the borough and for additional extra mature plane trees to be planted in addition to what has been reported and on top of that engaging with borough officers and residents and to put some money behind it.

Mr O’Hara replied that it was subject to approval within the various departments at RBKC….

Cllr Pascall:”.and to plant some new ones”

Mr O’Hara said that Catalyst feel that they are at capacity with planting additional new trees on the street because root systems, plus the daylight issues that additional trees may create could become a factor.

Cllr Pascall: “So you’re prepared to look at it, the question is are you prepared to look at it with the borough officers and residents because as Councillor Lindsay said one of the key components here is a meaningful consultation with local residents. On this particular issue that does not seem to be a meeting of minds”

Cllr Max Chauhan (Conservative, Queens Gate Ward ) asked Mr O’Hara why only 3 trees when the company spoke to specialist contractors “it was put in section 3.16 that this is being explored, implying it hasn’t been explored. Can we see more exploration and see if these trees can be identified to transport to Athlone Gardens or adopt in the wider borough”

Mr O’Hara said that Catalyst would be prepared to explore that further.

Cllr Judith Blakeman (Labour, Notting Dale Ward) :”We heard today that the regulator of social housing has just downgraded Catalyst’s financial position. So I am concerned that we have no guarantee either that this development will ever finish, because it’s already been delayed,- all that after the trees have been destroyed. This destruction of trees goes against all the council’s new policies.”

Christine Dingle, Wornington Green resident: “I think everything needs to be relooked at, reassessed and replanned., and I think it’s just so devastating and upsetting to think about, cutting the trees down, and all that time to grow, and are part of our lives”.

Abbas Dadou, Notting Dale resident, Cahir of Lancaster West Residents Association said that the community was being treated as a commodity “these people, they come and buuld and they go” He had issues with the planning department “you know, you people are supposed to be our guardians” referring to 200 square metres of green space in Lancaster West Estate, he said that planning officers and an architect had referred to it as a “useless bit of green” “We have 4 beuatiful palm trees there. For over 20 years , that green space is very important to us and they want to build a nursery beteeen two blocks forcing in a building, and leaving 4 metre gaps. So I can understand and I feel their pain . These companies who make huge money at the expense of the community who has been through a lot since 2017”

Isis Amlak, resident Norland Ward and community campaigner : “The plan to me does not seem that it’s any longer fit for purpose. 2010 was a long time ago and as we all know, one of the things that the Grenfell Tower atrocity has shown us is that it’s vital that communities are listened to. And I believe there is a commitment from the council, that we would do things differently, , and that going forward, the voice of residents, particularly in the north of the borough would be heard, far more loudly. ”

Isis said she lived in a part of North Kensington that was abundant in greenery, but when you head further north, particularly in Golborne, there is a lack of trees and a lack of green space.

She mentioned toxicity in the environment, found in the soil after Grenfell, and that the trees are vital to removing pollution and they provide so many environmental benefits besides such as helping to avert the risk of flooding. The trees also bring psychological benefits – “it’s just more beautiful with trees” and she said that ” a clever committed architect will find a way to build around the trees and incorporate them into modern building designs.”

Isis also had tbis to ask Catalyst: “How have you taken the impact of the Grenfell Tower atrocity and all the multiplicity of issues that is caused into consideration in your plans? Can you evidence that because I’m horrified to think that this plan went through 10 years ago, Grenfell happened three years ago, and no one sat down at Catalyst and reconsidered how they’re going forward.”

Feaghal O’Hara said Catalyst now recognise the sensitivities in North Kensington, especially since the Grenfell tragedy ( meaning they didn’t recognise them before?) and that’s why they were committed to keeping residents informed and involved.

Judith Blakeman: “Keeping residents informed is not engaging with the residents and you don’t have to live there afterwards, after you’ve chopped down the trees. We have a salutory example on the Silchester Estate, where they put small trees in a courtyard as you said, and none of them flourished because of the lack of light. They’ve now got a mud patch. ”

Pat Mason: “Residents are just being palmed off with platitudes and you think we are stupid, you think our residents are stupid. You think they have nothing in their heads now that can’t be palmed off with any old story,

That’s what the residents said 10 years ago. That’s what they’re saying now. Councillor Blakeman is right, being informed what’s going to happen is not consultation and that’s what has happened

You will be gone just in a couple of years, leaving us with the mess behind, environmental mess, trees cut down, you move on to some other project, we hear this and that, we hear these stories all the time from people like you in five years time, you won’t be here, you will not be here, you will leave us with the mess you’ll leave the council with the mess”

Maybe Catalyst had expected an easy ride from the council that once approved their scheme? They certainly did not get one and finally, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Marie-Therese Rossi (who has gone up tremendously in our estimation) , got her claws out and said this: “To sum up, I have something to say to Catalyst. Something has gone very badly wrong here. You’ve got a planning permission, which by the sound of it, you got by the skin of your teeth, 10 years ago. You have not been engaging with the residents. And something I learnt a long time ago. I used to work with the urban regeneration agency and rule number 1 for regeneration is that you don’t impose it. It’s got to be bottom up. You have got to take people with you. And it really seems in this instance that that is not happening.”

“So I would urge you Catalyst to go and look at your plans again and just see by building a few less houses or flats that you can actually save some of those trees. Because that is what the residents want, and as they have said, they are the ones who have to live there for years to come.

And Catalyst cannot just dump a project on residents and expect them to be happy about it because they would like to keep their trees. My sympathies are with the residents. I would urge you, Catalyst to look again, because it can’t be right, this level of protest against what you are doing and that you have not engaged with people down the years.”

THINK’s view

So, it appears that quite a few of our councillors do not think the Wornington Green masterplan is the “cat’s whiskers” and neither do we

As a supposed charitable housing provider with local roots , Catalyst really ought to be caring more about this community and .their social housing residents. Instead these residents are, in the words of one of them who spoke to us, , “treated as an afterthought by Catalyst and in the way of the luxury flats” .

It’s all very well to build homes, but residents in the area deserve to feel comfortable and happy in their homes , and to look out of their windows or step outside and see trees. and wildlife, and not just see grey buildings and roads.Residents’ health will suffer as a result of this scheme, with more pollution, extra roads and far fewer trees,

This blog also has to tell Catalyst that if their plans lead to the immediate area lacking in trees, greenery, playspace and beauty , it might not attract the sort of buyers that would want to live there to set up home and to be part of the local community and instead would appeal more to buy to leave investors only interested in the high land value and lessen the close knit friendly community feel in the area.

This, along with less trees, green space and playspace would give the neighbourhood more of a transient, and less of a green, pleasant, neighbourly and welcoming aspect and would also likely bring an increase in antisocial behaviour and crime

We do take some encouragement from the responses of RBKC now (a huge difference from when the plans got through) We thank Johnny Thalassites in particular.

While we think the climbdown from Catalyst over the fate of 5 of the trees is a bit of good news, their whole conduct over this has been deplorable.

We too say they need to revisit their plans and not just plough ahead regardless and not put hefty profits above the health and wellbeing and needs of the local community. We also suggest that Catalyst looks into providing more additional green amenities, such as roof gardens for the residents , which would make the developments more pleasant and attractive for all residents – those in social housing, and also prospective buyers looking to set up home in North Kensington and be part of the local community rather than absentee investors whose main interests are in the land value (land banking) .

Listening learning and understanding the needs of the residents and community is key, but Catalyst do not seem to care, Another Wornington Green resident said this to us: ” Catalyst could use this as an opportunity to show they are adaptable and change and adapt their masterplan to fit the 21st century. They could listen to residents, work with an imaginative environmentally friendly architect and create a beautiful innovative redevelopment that works around the trees we love and need.

This blog thanks all the inspirational residents and campaigners who are pushing for a better, healthier and considerably more environmentally friendly way forward for all.

We will leave our readers with some essential viewing – this link (which also links to some of Constantine’s other work) – a video of the brilliant “Wornington Word” film, a wonderful, but also bittersweet documentary showing residents from the Wornington Green Estate, their personal views, memories and experiences of the estate and the regeneration. We strongly recommend that our councillors and suits – and especially the officers, suits and directors at Catalyst Housing, watch this too;

https://www.grasart.com/film.html

Wornington Green: Green no longer? North Ken residents fight to save 42 trees

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year? Not for many North Kensington residents, especially those living around Wornington Green and nearby it won’t likely be.

That’s because Catalyst Housing Association who are regenerating Wornington Green plan to chop down 42 trees.

Catalyst apparently say they can’t make changes to the plans to save the trees – Really? Can’t or won’t ? Because they they also say they will plant 55 new trees – but actually only 11 of these trees will be in public areas. Most of the trees will be small sapling trees planted in private gardens for the newcomers buying the luxury unaffordable flats that Catalyst are still building in the area, which also happens to be in Golborne Ward , the ward in RBKC with the highest levels of social deprivation.

This is also located in a part of North Kensington right by the polluted Westway, and where the vast majority of residents do not have a garden and which has very few communal green spaces.

The area has been a “building site” with noise, nuisance and disturbance for many residents round there for a number of years , and we worry about the effects on peoples’ mental and physical wellbeing, especially in these bleak times, and even more so now.

A local resident there said to us “They are set to chop down these trees immediately – before Christmas – leaving us with stumps to look at. Why do they have to do this? Where will our local wildlife go? How will this affect our oxygen? ”

Well no prizes for guessing why Catalyst are changing the name of the estate from “Wornington Green” to “Portobello Square” then; because there won’t be very much “green” left when their chainsaws and bulldozers are done.

THINKers are appalled by this and we fully support the local community in their campaign to save the trees and protect the area and community. We urge all our readers to join us and sign and share their petition to get RBKC to put a stop to this:

https://www.change.org/p/royal-borough-of-kensington-and-chelsea-save-wornington-green-estate-trees?recruiter=1005772075&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi&utm_medium=whatsapp&recruited_by_id=bbcb4ab0-dc1f-11e9-811a-1951335c9ae0

This week has been National Tree Week, and on Wednesday, residents presented the petition to officials at Kensington Town Hall.

It’s supposed to be the season of goodwill, but it appears that the only goodwill greedy Catalyst Housing seem to have, is towards the wealthy newbies and investors buying up the luxury flats and giving their Execs a big fat Christmas bonus of profit – at a real cost to the health and welbeing of locals – we say shame on this supposed “charitable” housing association.

Here is the video of North Kensington locals protesting in Wornington Green last week:

Local Elections: Hustings РA community ignored by the ruling Conservatives 

Yesterday some ¬†THINkers were present at local election ¬†“Your Voice Your Vote” hustings. The event was held at Al Manaar and was held by Migrants Organise – an organisation which campaigns for, helps and celebrates refugees and migrants ¬†here. Please check out their website here:

https://www.migrantsorganise.org/

There were plenty of Labour councillors and candidates present РEmma Dent Coad (pictured, far left) out local Kensington MP and also councillor for Golborne Ward, Cllr Pat Mason (pictured, fourth from left) , Cllr Monica Press( pictured, second from right)  and Cllr Judith Blakeman were all present. Liberal Democrat Cllr Linda Wade (pictured   second left) was there. So were Annabel Mullin(pictured on the far right) , Valerie John-Baptiste, Melvyn Akins (pictured Рthird left)  and Claire Van Helfteren from Advance.

So what about the Conservatives, you may ask? Well only Cllr Eve Allison bothered to turn up! (She is in our picture, third from right) .We had memories of a certain hustings before the General Election in Earl’s Court back in June when most of the local Tories failed to turn ¬†there up too (giving the lame excuse of a “school meeting”!) See our old post about it here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/hustings-victoria-does-a-theresa-may-and-so-do-most-of-her-colleagues/

Anyway, many subjects were discussed, with residents, local campaigners and politicians giving their opinions on social housing, crime, education and the local area.

Linda Wade was particularly good in mentioning the academisatuon of schools and that many teenagers being expelled from these local schools end up drifting into a life of crime.

This was also mentioned by Pat Mason (who has a background in youth work) and by Emma Dent Coad,and all three  also mentioned the importance of good provision of youth services locally.

THINK strongly agree with Linda, Emma and Pat and we are very concerned about the rates of knife and gun crime among young people in London Рthere is one person stabbed to death in London every three days in fact Рwe believe that it is vital that politicians both locally and nationally, seriously take this on board and have some reconsideration over the policies of some schools and also do not make any cuts to youth and community facilities.  We also strongly feel that there should be no more cuts to policing.

Melvyn Akins, a  well-known local North Kensington resident  and candidate for the newly-formed Advance party, also spoke well and mentioned his own experiences and called for change.

One resident at one point made an impassioned plea for both residents and politicians to get more involved with community and youth work. He lifted up his top at one point to show scars from knife wounds that he had received in the past.
Some at the meeting did not appear to be very familiar with politics and how the system works. Some were so upset and frustrated after suffering years of cuts and neglect by both RBKC and the Government, not to mention also being traumatised after Grenfell.  that they vented their frustration on Emma Dent Coad and Labour opposition councillors.

We at THINK point out to these residents that we have had  a Conservative council in Kensington and Chelsea, that has been in power for 117 years, and that we have a Conservative Government. So Emma , in her role as both an opposition Member of Parliament and councillor, is very limited in her powers as to what she can do and does not have any role in shaping the policies and cuts that have been inflicted by both national and local governments. The same goes for the other opposition councillors at RBKC

We say to all frustrated residents that to change the system, you have to vote for change and then be the change in holding those who ¬†you vote for to account. It is no use to sit on one’s ¬†hands ¬†and blame a system if you do not play ¬†an active part in trying to to bring about change.

The deadline to register to vote is in just four days time. If you are not registered to vote, or have changed address, name or nationality, please do fill in the form on here (it only takes five minutes) :

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

THINK also believe that lifelong provision of education is vital to the wellbeing of all residents and we remind all candidates of all parties that keeping KCC Wornington College in North Kensington open and also extending provision of courses provided there is crucial to this local community.

Grenfell was discussed, with Labour’s Judith Blakeman speaking about our council’s less than adequate response and that they are buying properties ¬†without bothering to find out what survivors actually need first.

Most of the local representatives who spoke were very impressive, particularly Linda Wade from the Lib Dems ¬†and ¬†Labour’s Monica Press.

We also heard some excellent impassioned speeches which were straight from the heart by Labour candidate for Norland Ward , Mona Adam, and by Labour candidate for Colville Ward, Nadia Nail. Both Mona and Nadia come from refugee backgrounds and have real knowledge and insight into the issues that many refugees living here face. Labour candidate for Golborne Ward, Sina Lari, also spoke well about his parents’ background as immigrants.

THINK stand with Mona, Nadia and Sina and as people who have  migrants  in some of our own family  backgrounds, we believe that it is vital that local government in RBKC reflects the make up of the local population and fully takes on board the issues its residents have.

The lone Conservative councillor there, Eve Allison is the only black Conservative councillor and ¬†was the only Tory ¬†present at yesterday’s event.

She spoke strongly about her being alienated from the local Conservatives, talked of her deselection and the fact that she had to go to national government to be reinstated. Cllr Allison also  spoke about her own background and the fact that she lives in social housing. She made the case that her own party needs to be more representative of the local population and to include persons like herself. We agree with Eve,  about the Conservative Party  needing to include more people like herself but know that the policies of this council and Government   have alienated so  many in our community.

As for the other ¬†local Conservatives, who did not even bother to turn up, THINK believe that their non-presence speaks volumes about their attitude towards not only North Kensington and Grenfell, but also young people, community groups, migrants and refugees. It says it all if not even one member of the RBKC Tories’ leadership bothered to attend.

Eve Allison has a majority of only 1 vote in St Helen’s Ward and we are not banking on her to hold on to it, so maybe some senior local Tories may be relieved ¬†to not have her speaking out against them in public as a local councillor after the elections , but we thank Eve for speaking out and we say to the ¬†other RBKC Tories (who come from overwhelmingly white upper and upper middle class backgrounds) – shame on you.

There is also hustings, presented by local campaign group Westway23 at Acklam Village, Acklam Road, W10 on Tuesday the 17th April. THINKers will be there of course and we fully expect local representatives from ALL the parties to be there.

THINK urge our local readers  to do the right thing at the local elections and vote the RBKC Conservatives out of power. 

RBKC and TMO :ÔĽŅ All animals are equal, but some animals really do appear to be ¬†ÔĽŅmore equal than others¬†

Reg Kerr-Bell former chair of the TMO ¬†and former. chair of West Row Residents’ Association, (pictured in our mock-up photo above), really does appear to have some serious questions to answer.

We can wonder why this ¬†person’s TMO-owned¬†home has benefited from lavish refurbishments including marble tiles and statues, when so many TMO properties have been severely neglected, to a point of costing lives……

We could wonder why this man, who appears to not have been in gainful employment for 12 years, seems to have ¬†both power and plenty of ¬†wealth on his side…..

We also wonder about this individual’s role in the. back dealings of RBKC’s ¬† purchase of Wornington College. See ¬†the Grenfell Action Group’s ¬†excellent and informative blog post on this here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/05/17/wornington-college-the-smoking-gun/amp/

Back in 2010, Private Eye reported, in their “Rotten Boroughs” section, that a TMO AGM ¬†had resulted in angry scenes after Mr Kerr-Bell, chairing, had called a halt to the meeting when a vote of no confidence in the TMO was proposed. The TMO had also failed to account for an overspend of ¬£9million – which they dismissed as a myth. THINK question where the money has gone and note that ¬†the expensively dressed and cosmetically “enhanced” Kerr-Bell was chair but yet ¬†he completely failed to publicly raise any concerns at that time ……

Reg Kerr-Bell is a Conservative. Member and supporter in ¬†Golborne Ward ¬†(there aren’t¬†¬†too many of those!) He also claims to be a critic of the TMO – but has only just crawled out of the woodwork when the questions of liability and accountability of the TMO after Grenfell have come to light. We do not believe him to be a “whistleblower” and we believe him in fact to be a friend and collaborator with some in charge who bear culpability over this disaster.

Furthermore, THINK are suspicious of ¬†such an indidvidual who has turned up to the Tenants Consultative Committee meetings on street properties, which are meant to be for residents who cannot set up residents’ associations, and trying to influence and steer them.

We know that Reg Kerr-Bell has chaired a residents’ association, and we cannot see what business he has of speaking ¬†at these meetings in the first place.

We also question the motives of those who invited him to take part. There already appears to be a hidden agenda at these meetings  to lead residents away from forming their own housing co-operatives  and also to not invite and inform local councillors.

We believe Mr ¬†Kerr-Bell has ¬†more than enough questions to answer and these questions should in fact ¬†be put to him in a court of law…….