RBKC Suits have “Personal Data Sharing Picnic” as serious concerns over residents’ privacy are raised

It’s been a nice sunny Spring weekend outside, and some locals will have been out enjoying the weather and possibly a picnic in the park as lockdown rules ease (though we still have to keep to a “rule of 6”).

Some things are meant to be shared around and others are most definitely not, but THINKers are not sure that some RBKC suits including the ones featured in our picture enjoying a picnic today (left to right, Dan Hawthorn – Executive Director of Housing and Social Investment , Stavroulla Kokkinou – Head of Neighbourhood Management , Amy How – Participation Officer, and Iago Griffith – Head of Resident Engagement and Partnership ) necessarily understand or respect this.

Because if they did, the “Community/Residents/Social Engagement/Investment team would not be inthe act of accessing the personal data of RBKC tenants and leaseholders as well as many other residents without their knowledge or consent.

The pictures below are of emails received in our BLOG INBOX – not the THINKer’s personal email – contacting her about the Grenfell Legacy Fund. Furthermore, they are not addressed to the blog, but were addressed to one of us personally, so personally in fact they were addressed to a long-discarded birth name she never goes by or ever uses!

To “return the favour” of unwanted information sharing and to “rain on their picnic” we’ll just mention that the emails were sent by Iago Griffith and Amy How.

(By the way, the THINKer would like to give her views on the Grenfell Legacy Fund but she cannot engage with suits who clearly breach her privacy or attend anything which appears to condone RBKC behaving in such a way so she will be passing on her views via other residents attending instead.)

And here again from this post,

Consultants, marketing firms, surveys and Citizens Panels: A right Royal Borough recipe for trouble?

is a text message one of us received about joining their residents panels Funny that, especially when she definitely didn’t consent to receiving text messages from the council or for anyone passing her phone number around like food shared at a picnic..

The outrageous answer to the question of where did they get the information, appears to be that all suits and officers anywhere at RBKC can freely access via a database residents’ personal information ( most of which the residents would have only given to housing officers or offiers from other drpartments ) and pass this around – without any of us ever agreeing to this.

Well, no wonder some Grenfell-affected residents do not want to use some services at The Curve if that means a whole load of other council suits will have access to their personal and medical data without permission – very likely also including sensitive personal information and be able to pass this around without a second thought.

But however uncomfortable or violated this sort of thing may leave some residents feeling, we have learned that this is just a very small tip of a very large iceberg….

The council are proposing extra conditions to the tenancy agreements that could also expose tenants and leaseholders to data theft, will likely see RBKC and the Police exchanging information about residemts – some of which could be unnessary (unless it involves investigation of alleged crime committed by the residents while living at the property, or committed towards the council, councillors or other council workers) and also sees RBKC setting terms such as what sort of flooring residents can choose for their home (seriously!) and is all likely to cause unnecessary situations and conflict between tenants and contractors and obviously between residents and the council.

There is a survey on the proposed changes open until Sunday the 2nd of May and we have published the proposed tenancy changes and links at the bottom of this post . We very strongly recommend that affected residents read both the proposed changes and this blog post in full BEFORE RESPONDING.

After suggestions from another concerned resident, THINK decided to have a good look on the RBKC website to see to what information our council collects about residents and deems suitable to hold or share – It makes for some very interesting and worrying reading and not just for people living in council housing:

“We may collect personal data about you which covers basic details such as name, address, telephone number, and date of birth. We also collect some sensitive information also known as special category data, such as health data, ethnicity or religious beliefs – but only where it is needed to provide a service, fulfil a legal obligation and/or for monitoring equality of both for customers and employees. We will always explain to you why and how this information will be used. We will always demonstrate to you what our lawful basis is for processing this type of information and where appropriate seek your consent”. 

As described above we collect and process information about you, so that we can carry out our public task functions as a Local Authority and to deliver public services. This includes but is not limited to:

  • administering the assessment and collection of taxes and other revenue including benefits and grants
  • the provision of social services and education
  • the provision of all commercial services including the administration and enforcement of parking regulations and restrictions 
  • the provision of all non-commercial activities including refuse collections from residential properties 
  • local and national fraud initiatives and data matching under these initiatives
  • to prevent and detect fraud or crime and prosecution offenders including the use of CCTV
  • licensing and regulatory activities
  • providing leisure and cultural services 
  • carrying out health and public awareness campaigns 
  • managing our property
  • maintaining our own accounts and records
  • supporting and managing our employees
  • promoting the services we provide
  • marketing our local tourism
  • carrying out surveys
  • undertaking research (including research relating to health) 
  • internal financial support and corporate functions
  • managing archived records for historical and research reasons
  • corporate administration and all activities we are required to carry out as a data controller and public authority 

We collect and process the following categories of personal information:

  • Personal and family details
  • Lifestyle and social circumstances
  • Goods and services
  • Financial details
  • Employment and education details
  • Housing needs
  • Visual images, personal appearance and behaviour
  • Licenses or permits held
  • Student and pupil records
  • Business activities
  • Case file information

In some circumstances we also collect and process special categories and conviction data. This type of personal information includes:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Political opinions
  • Religious or philosophical beliefs
  • Trade union membership
  • Genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a person
  • Data concerning health
  • Data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation

Conviction Data

This type of personal data covers criminal allegations, proceedings or convictions and security measures.  For the council this is likely to be collected where the focus is on:  specific employment requirements; fraud investigations; safeguarding issues; equality initiatives; or the vital interests of the data subject or other individuals

No consent form provided anywhere. Not looking like such a “nice friendly little picnic gathering” now, is it?

Quite why RBKC thinks it is appropriate have , store and share information on residents’ sex lives (?!) and why they seem to exist in a timewarp from the 1970s or 1980s or something to record details of trade union membership of residents just leaves us with more questions than answers.

Certainly unless residents are not working or applying to be working for the council in certain positions or there aren’t any possible safeguarding issues , we strongly question why RBKC needs to do extensive background checks possibly on all of us . Also it doesn’t say how they gather information on “lifestyle and social circumstances” . The website does not go further into this. As for collecting information such as ” visial images, people’s perosnal appearance and behaviour” unless they have legimate grounds such as investigation of crime by a resident or unless particular residents have gone about threatening the council, we do not see why they should hold or share this information ; especially on seemingly harmless grounds such as taking part in a meeting or a survey.

In fact, as some of us recall seeing former RBKC Director of Communications Michael Clarke going around Kensington Town Hall with a camera and taking photos of members of the public – again without their consent – who were not protesting or speaking but were only sitting in the back of the Council Chamber and the Public Gallery listening to a Full Council Meeting a few years back , we think it appears rather sinister. They really do appear to be in the act of behaving more like a Police state than a local authority.

As for some people who may go around saying “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear”, perhaps they should read those details back again and then ask themselves if they would feel comfortable over the council wanting to holding and sharing so much private information about them without a strong reason to?

They might also wish to hear from a few residents with serious personal concerns:

One resident who contacted us has made it very clear that he does not want anyone other than housing officers at RBKC to have , his personal details and certainly does not want these to be freely shared :”I am HIV Positive. I do not share this information with my work colleagues or indeed many members of my family and friends. It is personal health infomation, strictly meant to be shared between myself, the NHS , the DWP and Housing and should remain so. I did not and never would consent to this information being shared with other council departments and really strongly object to this being passed on to council officers who are concerned with resident engagement and even worse, with outside bodies, which by surveys, would include the many various consultants they use, Why should my being a tenant or simply living in the borough permit them to invade the privacy of law abiding citizens? “

As for the proposed tenancy changes meaning more information exchanged with the Police, we initially thought this was them getting tough with crime and antisocial behaviour in their properties and we initially welcomed this, but this in our view should only apply to when there are allegations or ongoing investigations of crime committed in or on RBKC homes, other council-owned properties or against people working for the council or if or the residents are applying for a certain job with the council which requires a DBS check – and nowhere else.

Another resident had this to say to us: ” Does this mean that residents like me who have past criminal convictions and have served our time long ago will have these records logged by all council staff? Does this mean I will be harassed by people from the council over something I did wrong 20 years ago? I’ve served my time and learnt my lessons and have never committed a criminal act in my property but they’re likely to forever treat me as a criminal?”

Both of these are fair points and not points which seem to be really addressed on thhis supposed “Fair Processing Notice” :

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/footer-links/data-protection/fair-processing-notice

The political views of some residents are not exactly a secret but if anyone wants to know why and what possible motivations RBKC may have for storing this information, we’ll just point out that a couple of North Kensington social housing residents who are definitely not politically on the same side as those in charge of RBKC were not treated fairly as they tried to join in the most recent Zoom consultation meeting on the proposed tenancy changes – which affect them – and were shut out and blocked by the council from taking part.

Here is the link for tenants and leaseholders to participate (or rather to ridiculously grovel and ask to participate) – in tomorrow’s meeting – Tuesday the 27th of April between 5pm and 7pm – and let’s hear how many residents are blocked for simply taking part then. It also just happens to exactly “coincide” with the Grenfell Legacy Fund event so they can conveniently ensure that a number of North Kensington residents are busy elsewhere: HM-NeighbourhoodBusinessSupport@rbkc.gov.uk

By the way, the proposed tenancy changes also appear to permit RBKC to break into residents properties purely on information from contractors without legal action first , so we’ll just remind RBKC that some of their contractors do have an unfortunate habit of booking appointments without checking with residents first, of making computer errors and booking several wrong or duplicate or consecutive appointments for the same thing all at once, and of also of not turning up to appointments that residents have already booked.

No doubt RBKC, having already labelled several council housing residents rather unfavourably already, will just go ahead and break into peoples’ homes regardless, and seeing as how nuch personal information they want on residents, it wouldn’t seem so far fetched if they came along with cameras, went through peoples’ belongings and brought the Police along with them too.

What will they do next? Ask for people’s DNA and fingerprints? That may sound crazy to some, but this is obviously the direction in which RBKC are heading. Is it too much to ask for residents ‘privacy to be respected and to be treated like civilised human beings?

Obviously so, because by going in such an oppressive Police State direction, RBKC have already decided that they think some residents are a bunch of worthless, lazy, stupid, workshy, disruptive criminals and bums who deserve to be persecuted, or harassed because they happen to be poor, or otherwise are disregarded and prevented from consultations and council commmunity activities because they happen of a different political persuasion to the council leadership. These seem to be the prime motivations behind their recent data gathering and privacy invasion exercises, If they expect reasonable behaviour from us, surely that works both ways?

Invading residents’ privacy and sharing personal data unneccesarily isn’t exactly what most decent civilised people would consider to be reasonable behaviour.

After all, if all this data gathering was a supposed harmless exercise – they wouldn’t be after information which is frankly none of their business; if it were meant to help end discrimination or exclusion rather than exacerbate it – that section of the council website would be shared widely by RBKC and it would be translated into other languages so everyone could understand; the council would give fuller and more reasonable explanations; and they would offer residents easy ways in which to opt out of some of this – and importantly, they would have had the decency to discuss this in full and publicly with residents in the first place.

The tenancy agreements changes survey closes at 11:59pm on Sunday the 2nd of May and the link (for those who are happy for the council and their consultants to breach their privacy and go around sharing their personal data about) is here:

https://consult.rbkc.gov.uk/communities/ta_consultation/

A lot of us have never seen a copy of this supposed “Tenants Handbook” that RBKC keeps referring us to and never ever bothers to send out by the way.

The proposed tenancy changes in full (on which not all tenants and leaseholders have been fully and fairly consulted on), are below

Kingspan insulation products used for building of new North Kensington special needs school

THINKers are shocked, disgusted and horrified to learn that insulation made by Kingspan (makers of the Kooltherm K15 flammable insulation on Grenfell Tower, who were revealed at the Grenfell Inquiry to have missold the material and to have lied about their fire safety tests) is being used in the construction of a new school in North Kensington.

This shocking picture is of Kingspan materials piled outside Barlby Primary School, North Kensington, intended for use in the construction of the new Queensmill Kensington school – the first special needs school in RBKC.

Here is how upset residents responded on Twitter – along with a response from Kim Taylor-Smith, RBKC Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Grenfell Housing and Social Investment and a statement from the council:

Many of us in North Kensington, already feeling let down and that this local authority does not care one bit about residents in social housing and a whole community devastated by the needless and preventable loss of 72 innocent lives in the Grenfell fire diaster – also now feel that the council do not care about our children, schools and families.

While a response from RBKC and an investigation is welcome, it appears they have not committed to halting the construction of the school, made any sort of commitment to the public that they will cease to use products made by companies like Kingspan or that they will cease to use the services of certain contractors – in this case Mace – who still buy and use Kingspan products.

RBKC is usually more concerned with their image and putting on PR spin than they are with how they REALLY behave towards residents, so perhaps they may care to remember that they are also seeking legal action against companies who sold (or rather missold) flammable materials for use on Grenfell Tower – including Kingspan if the Inquiry finds against them. So some at our council who would usually show an insensitive or an indifferent attutude towards Grenfell, North Kensington, the poor and the vulnerable, are on this at least, sittng up and paying attention.

Kim Taylor-Smith is a successful property developer (far more so than his predecessor) and some would have thought that he might have checked what building materials were used in council constructions, but we do accept that Cllr Taylor-Smith is extremely busy and cannot necessarily keep an close eye on everything. However, we would think that he would have delegated to someone to oversee the building and contractors and to do so responsibly – as Ana’s Tweet says – ” do your due diligence” . Clearly whichever council suit /suits who were supposed to be overseeing this have some questions to answer.

Here is what the Leader of the RBKC Opposition Labour Group, Pat Mason has had to say: “I feel more rage now with this news than I did when I listened to those truly dreadful weeks of evidence at the public inquiry from companies who supplied or installed cladding and insulation on the outside of the tower-and these included Kingspan-that led Sir Martin Moore-Bick in Phase 1 to declare that the exterior cladding fuelled the fire and was a breach of building regulations

Why has the Council not ordered that all contractors and suppliers of materials who have appeared at the Grenfell Inquiry should not be considered for any work until the Inquiry has concluded and its recommendations are clear?”

Cllr Mason also called for the materials to be removed, for an investigation, he has questioned who authorised this, if there is any use of other products named at the Grenfell Inquiry , inquired as how many other developments in the borough are using material from companies named (and shamed) at the Grenfell Inquiry, and he has also written to the Health and Safety Executive.

This appears to be yet another case of RBKC negligence, and yet again, we are asking for information and answers. How could have just let this “slip through the net”? How many other of our developments have used or are still using Kingspan products? What other projects in RBKC are Mace contracted to work on? How many other of the firms that knowingly supplied combustible materials used on Grenfell Tower have been involved with other builds or refurbishments?

THINK demands answers to our questions from RBKC. and we are emailing this blog post to the RBKC Cabinet, as well as the RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee .

The council is proposing new changes to tenancy agreements (coming up in our blog) which put even more rules, conditions, standards and responsibilities upon residents and are mostly about what they expect from us. But what residents are getting on the receiving end from RBKC is very defintely not what is called for or needed – or indeed right or proper.

What we have received from RBKC is more of the same old culture of negligence, arrogance, lots of nice little words and statements that never go anywhere, Council Scrutiny vastly reduced and residents and their concerns (especially in the north of the borough) being constantly ignored, disrespected and disregarded. When the council have said they have changed, all this appears to mean is they have post-Grenfell, increased their PR machine (by over 400%) and are now wasting xxxx amounts of money on various advisors and consultants to supposedly make themselves look better all the while they forget who they are supposed to be serving here.

The lives of North Kensington locals along with others in the borough – largely the poor, the vulnerable, and others in social housing – are being put at risk by RBKC’s “who cares” attitude. It speaks volumes – and basically says that as far as the council is concerned, it’s back to Kensington Town Hall “business as usual” – with absolutely no lessons learned from Grenfell at all.

The caring community hub shunned and disrespected by our council

This is The SPACE . It is a much- valued and loved community-led hub, based at 214 Freston Road, North Kensington which has provided help, support and activities for residents in North Kensington and beyond for nearly the past four years.

The SPACE, and the local resident volunteers working there and the work they do are valued highly by many residents in and around our community and far beyond but sadly RBKC doesn’t appear to appreciate or value this outstanding community hub very highly.

Because there is no other conclusion we can draw from what is happening. As we mentioned in this blog post, https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2021/03/27/the-long-road-to-grenfell-recovery-and-the-people-left-behind/ The SPACE is running out of actual space. Their wonderful Baby Bank initiative has provided donations to support parents all over the borough – from North Kensington to Chelsea. Generous and kind others in the community have made donations of cots, toys, clothes, supplies etc. and now they are in need of storage space so they can keep this intiative up and running.

RBKC have been fully aware of the situation for some considerable time – and yet they sat on their hands and did nothing to help, despite numerous emails plus some residents posting about the situation on social media.

But when the council finally responded to the SPACE about this in January this year, incredibly, the only temporary space RBKC offered to the volunteers was a kitchen based on the Grenfell Tower site. No we are not making this up – we have seen the emails – and yes, very understandably, the resident volunteers (many of whom live in the immediate Grenfell community) refused.

Nearly three months on, and RBKC also have told the volunteers they they do not have any extra space to provide to them, but we know that’s not true; this council owns several spaces including empty storage units, empty office spaces and empty retail spaces. We cannot understand why the council would not even bother to consider letting The SPACE have use of one of their unused properties for now – the commercial properties RBKC usually lets out – due to Covid-19 and the recession – are not exactly in huge demand right now.

So now the volunteers are still being left in limbo by the council, while their space runs out – what a disgrace.

We’ll just remind RBKC of just a few things that The SPACE have provided to our communities over the time they have been running; help and support for Grenfell-affected residents, benefits, jobs and housing advice, various activities and classes (including yoga, dance, relaxation and art), they have run popular community events, organised food donation deliveries for the vulnerable and those self isolating during the Covid -19 lockdown , and of course, this Baby Bank, which provides donations to many families facing economic hardship including those who are on Universal Credit, those who have lost their jobs or businesses, those who are living in temporary accommodation and those who are living in refuges.

RBKC does like to go on about how much they have supposedly changed, but it’s hard to see this when they snub, disrespect and insult hard working community volunteers who are going out of their way to help so many people here.

Some of us have wondered if RBKC is deliberately shunning community volunteer efforts, so they can run their own “rival’ initatives, do PR exercises and then go amd take the credit for other people’s hard work. This might not be as so far fetched as it sounds because when in the aftermath of Grenfell, RBKC failed to publicise activities provided at The SPACE and instead ran “rival” activities at The Curve and some Council officers even went around wrongly saying The SPACE was closing

So where is the consideration from RBKC? Where is the compassion? Where is the humanity? Where is this supposed culture change that RBKC Leader Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell promised North Kensington residents after Grenfell?

Well, unless by “culture change at the council” Cllr Campbell was referring to a pot of yoghurt past its sell by date sitting in Kensington Town Hall somewhere, we’re still asking these questions and it is beyond frustrating when we’re not getting answers – and dedicated community providers of help and support to residents in North Kensington and all around the borough are being treated like this.

Nahid Ashby, one of the Co-Founders of The SPACE, had this to say to us:”It really makes me wonder if the Council’s historic culture of contempt, superiority and secrecy has changed, despite the fact that they keep hooting they have learned lessons and made improvements to the way they work with, treat and involve residents.The only improvement I see is a very superficial one at best and a box ticking exercise at worst! Deep down it’s the same horse, only with a different saddle on! and It’s not just bureaucracy . it’s about what I dubbed TRT! (Trust, Respect and Transparency). At the end of the day, in the eyes of the corporate monster, we are still stupid, low income social tenants and the only training they provide to their new recruits is to treat us as such! “

This blog stands with The SPACE and all the kind good community volunteers who put in so much work there – they have a space in our heart and also in the hearts of many local residents from North Kensington to Chelsea.

Not everyone in the RBKC Leadership fold appears to be completely heartless and devoid of compassion however. Here, below, are some Tweets and ours was “liked” by Cem Kemahli, Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and Josh Rendall, Lead Member for Family and Children’s Services and at least there has been at least something of an encouraging response from Josh Rendall :

We’ll see what happens and hope they are truly listening this time. We also call for the RBKC Overview and Scrutiny Committee to look into this plus scrutinise what has the council done – or not done- to support community-led initiatives. As Samia’s Tweet says, other housing providers (such as Peabody and Notting Hill Genesis) seem to get the value of the Baby Bank and support that The SPACE provide, so why can’t our council?

RBKC does talk and talk of community empowerment but it’s hard to believe this when talk is all that this appears to be. Actions do indeed speak louder than words and without actually doing very much to support community-led hubs and groups – the very people who stand for community empowerment – so they can carry on supporting residents in need, it means nothing.

If RBKC really is committed to change, they really ought to now work with The SPACE to find new extra storage premises so the Baby Bank can continue to operate, and to start to make an effort to inprove community relations by at least listening to the volunteers, taking their feedback on board and treating them with decency and respect. It’s about time RBKC stopped working against these dedicated and caring North Kensington residents and started working with them positively and constructively and supported them to carry on supporting our communities instead.

SPACE Founders Nahid Ashby and Samia Badani at the Iftar 4 All event (which they organised) in 2018

Over 2,300 households on the RBKC housing waiting list: Why has this North Kensington house been left empty for years?

This is the “Park Keeper’s House” , just outside Avondale Park in North Kensington. There is no park keeper living there, or anyone else for that matter; the only “occupants” for several years have been pigeons.

Despite over 2,300 households in RBKC waiting for a home, for some reason , this once-beautiful property has been left abandoned and in a shocking state for years. The property is also located in the Avondale Park Conservation Area – not that anyone has been “conserving” it:

Given that RBKC is looking to go ahead with several building programmes (some of them welcome, others not so much) in which new homes will be provided, we might have hoped the council would have looked at some of the properties they already own.

With some extensive refurbishment, and an obvious deep clean, this house could be restored to its former glory and would be ideal for either a small local housing co-operative or for a family.

We do wonder though, if RBKC does actually still own this property,, as some previous administrations at the council have been in the act of flogging off council assets, particularly in North Kensington.

So who does own it? Who is responsible? Our inquiries for some reason have fallen on deaf ears, and we think it is an absolute disgrace for anyone to let a property – when homes are badly needed here – fall into such a state. (We are also aware of the little planning “trick” that a few unscrupulous individuals use, of deliberately allowing properties to fall into a dilapidated state, in order that they can get around planning regulations in a conservation area. So, if their intention is to redevelop the property; they let it get into such a state where the property has to be pulled down, and then they are usually free to go ahead with whatever initial plans they had.)

If this house is privately owned, this blog urges RBKC to take action against the owners NOW, to save the building and to seek repossession. If the council happens to own the property, then we ask why has this been allowed to happen, and we ask the council to refurbish it, clean it up and put it back into use – as a home for social rent.

We really hope that RBKC does investigate unoccupied properties in our borough and look into seeing what can be done, but we’re not exactly convinced that they are doing this.

Perhaps, seeing as how keen RBKC are on PR and advertising, they could get an advertising campaign going aimed at getting private owners of long-term empty properties,who for whatever reason are unable to maintain them or put them into use, to sell these to the council ? Especially if it is made clear that there are thousands of people on our waiting list, including families with children, who need them?

We also hope that this blog post will get RBKC to take action and if this house is privately owned, that the owners are pressured to either sell up – preferably to the council – or to at least restore it back into use as a home and not knock it down.

If any of our readers know of other examples of completely empty properties in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that nobody ever uses, please do get in touch with our Editor at tianorthken@gmail.com with details

This may just be one empty property, but it is a good place to start, and RBKC ought to at least start to take action over this, if they are really and truly serious about wanting to provide housing to those most in need as well as looking after the conservation areas in the borough.

Full of the joys of Spring? Botched useless council community safety survey leaves residents not feeling so chirpy

THINK wish our readers a very happy belated Easter. This was going to be time for us to have a short break and recharge our blogging batteries, but not so, since we saw this botched and useless RBKC community safety survey today. Have a look for yourselves here:

https://t.co/6dkJHOlJcO?amp=1

Where do we start with this one? Seriously, who put this survey together? A Colville Ward resident commented that it “looks as if it were put together by ten year olds”- we think that’s unfair on ten year olds…

By useless, we mean we do not see why RBKC is asking residents to rate how safe their neighbourhood is by day and night, but then completely failing to ask where the respondents live!

The survey fails to take account of specifics. For example, our Editor feels very safe in North Kensington at most times, also in Notting Dale Ward where she lives, and in Norland Ward, which is a minute over the road from her, but does NOT feel safe in her residential block and particular street which has had problems with ASB and hard drug dealing/use for years. There is little provision in the survey other than a box at the end for anyone to highlight such issues of concern, other matters or indeed, any positive feedback or suggestions – all pointless anyway without asking for a council ward or postcode.

The survey also asks residents to list their community safety priorities from a maximum of three. That shouldn’t be a problem , but when that survey could be completed by ANYONE ANYWHERE regardless – how reliable is it? 🤦‍♂️🤦🏻‍♀️

Residents however are asked for specifics on their ethnicity, religion, age and disability – and while it may be council policy to ask such questions , we thiink they should explain to people why, but again, there is no point in filling this in for the reasons above.

So whose “work” was this?

We like Emma Will, RBKC Lead Member for Community, Safety, Culture and Leisure – she is one of the most personable members of the RBKC Cabinet and a very good communicator – we definitely do not think this botched survey is her work!

Instead, we point our fingers at the RBKC Communications Team – surely this question came from them?





And our answer to that, by the way is we don’t want any more of our taxpayers’money wasted on PR tripe. Same goes for consultants – whoever it is wbo put this survey together ought to be getting their P45 by now if our council is really doing its job.

Instead we suggest big cuts to the RBKC Communications budget and that this money is instead spent on improving community safety -some good suggestions are getting more CCTV in crime and ASB hotspots and more provision of youth services.. As for getting suggestions, that survey could have been a good opportunity for RBKC do so but instead is vague at the very best, completely unreliable, and is therefore completely useless ; it is a complete waste of residents’ time and money

.Whoever heard of a council social media posting about a forthcoming council meeting helping to improve community safety and prevent crime anyway? Perhaps it’s time some in charge at RBKC asked themselves what their own priorities are, because it appears to us that they have got these very badly wrong if they think pointless PR exercises really help keep our communities safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The  abolition of the  Grenfell Recovery  Scrutiny  Committee in 2019 left  a big hole in the scrutinisation of the council’s “efforts”, so many issues as well as individuals and groups  affected unfortunately do not get a look in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change doesn’t happen overnight and it will take years for our comnunity to recover from the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, but surely  after everything North Kensington residents have been through, this community  at  the very least deserves far  better than to be treated as an afterthought?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here were the main recomnendations:

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

The full reports can be found here:

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

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

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

See  this  brilliant insight from Urban Dandy for more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wringing the wrong numbers: A poor reception for Shaun Bailey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No answers as to how cash strapped homeless bouseholds might somehow out of thin air, be able to get the ÂŁ5,000 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 ÂŁ600k 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……

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

1

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

Here is that blog post again (complete with a proper explanation of the terms  – received 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 – or rather liars – who have mislead people – “social/affordable” housing indeed – 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 ÂŁ600,000.

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.