Notting Hill Carnival goes virtual for 2020

“Carnival Councillors 2020” (L to R: Portia Thaxter, Monica Press, Laura Round & Julie Mills)

Unfortunately this year, Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled due to Covid-19, but the good news is that the organisers have made other arrangements for a virtual Carvival so people can join in from home.

Today, plus tomorrow and Monday, anyone hoping to join in the Carnival fun can tune in to the livestream and watch on this YouTube link and on the Notting Hill Carnival Website – link here – and can also register free for “access all areas”.

THINK have kept with one of our usual Carnival traditions with another one of our fun Photoshops of some RBKC North Kensington local councillors getting in the Carnival mood too.

We thank the Notting Hill Carnival organisers and all taking part for making this happen.

THINKers are taking a break, but will be back on the other side of this Bank Holiday with more local news and views from North Kensington, nearby and beyond.

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Notting Hill Carnival 2019: Butterflies, rhythm, respect and reflection

This Bank Holiday, Notting Hill Carnival came to town and we were determined to join in the fun.

Deciding to get in the Carnival mood beforehand, we made this fun picture, above, of some local North Kensington “Carnival Councillors” ! (left to right, Conservative councilllor for Norland Julie Mills, Labour councillor for Golborne Sina Lari and our Kensington MP and fellow Labour councillor for Golborne Emma Dent Coad)

But earlier we had been upset by the constant helicopters circling around outside – which took us back to the 14th of June 2017 and Grenfell, so we weren’t entirely sure then if we were feeling up to joining Europe’s biggest street party.

At 3pm on both days, people observed 72 seconds of silence for the 72 members of our community we sadly lost in Grenfell Tower. Thank you to all the Carnival goers who showed respect for Grenfell and the people of North Kensington.

It took a while, but eventually the sights, sounds and sunshine brought us some cheer as did many of the people here today.

We were also cheered by the sight of North Kensington Library which had been beautifully decorated with butterflies – we thank Sophie Lodge and all the members of our community who made these:

Unusually for us, this was probably the first time in years we have walked around Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road without bumping into most of our local friends. But this was no time to be a stranger as others encouraged us to join the party!

So we leave Notting Hill Carnival this year with some positive memories of the event and a good time (even after having sadly earlier been reliving some traumatic memories of Grenfell). We hope the noise of the helicopters hasn’t caused too much distress to others living here – our thoughts are with others affected who have been finding this difficult too.

We go home with smiles on our faces and the rhythm in our footsteps but we are also reflecting on our loss and that our community is still going through a very difficult time. We will be back to work tomorrow – and there really is a lot of work to do, but today, the happy atmosphere at Notting Hill Carnival has really lifted our spirits.We thank the Carnival organisers and everyone who took part and brought the positive vibes to our local area.

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Notting Hill Carnival 2018: Tropical Avenue, Green For Grenfell and a community together

Notting Hill Carnival was back and we thought we would share a special blog picture we made above, giving a special THINK “Carnival makeover” to some local Labour councillors in North Kensington! (Left to right: Cllr Pat Mason, Cllr Emma Dent Coad MP, Cllr Sina Lari and Cllr Monica Press).

Sunday was rainy but the weather did not dampen people’s spirits and it was wonderful to see so many people out enjoying themselves and taking in the sights and sounds of Carnival. Thankfully yesterday the rain had gone and on both days a great time was had by many.

(Sadly our photography skills do not quite match up to our photoshop efforts, but thankfully some friends allowed us to share some pictures!)

Our special thanks to local residents and friends Melanie Coles, Norma Buddle and Carmen Puget for sharing their wonderful pictures of Carnival with us and to everyone who took part and made this a special day despite the rain.

We thank the organisers for a wonderful Carnival and also Sophie Lodge and everyone who helped turn Ladbroke Grove into a Tropical Avenue for the Carnival too.

Our thanks also to Toby Laurent Belson who helped to turn some of our local buildings Green for Grenfell and all who helped maintain and ensure others respect the quiet areas around Grenfell Tower and the memorials.

At 3pm on both days, a 72 second silence for Grenfell was held.

Of course, these positive and powerful pictures that show people coming coming together to celebrate Carnival should also serve as a notice to some who do not have the best intentions for this community that this blog and our many friends in and around here will do everything we can to campaign for this area and all that is positive, diverse and special about North Kensington.

THINK are back after a short break and feeling positively energised by the happy, creative, and fun atmosphere radiated by the Carnival, we will do everything we can to support our wonderful, vibrant and multicultural community – and campaign and blog and defend the interests of North Kensington, Ladbroke Grove and our friends in neighbouring communities with full force.

RBKC the Government , developers , consultants and any other forces of potential destruction be warned!!

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Greg Hands – get your hands off our Carnival and our constituency!

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Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham who is also minister of state for international trade and also minister for London, back in July this year wrote to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan asking that the Notting Hill Carnival got re-routed citing Grenfell Tower  and his fears of crime  as a reason.

This was met by criticism from many including Yvette Williams from Justice For Grenfell who pointed out that ” the Carnival route does not go that near Grenfell” and from  rapper Stormzy, who in fact is from Chelsea who called Hands a “scumbag”

We should point out that Greg Hands’ constituency isn’t even on or  near the Carnival route  – unfortunately for Mr Hands,  Sadiq Khan has more sense and  ignored his rude intervention in another constituency’s affairs.

Greg Hands frequently puts his foot in it on Twitter like this nonsense about a kebab shop chain:

His stupid joke was met by these responses:

And then he stood in front of a piece of graffiti that said “Jeremy Corbyn is” for a photo and invited people to complete the sentence too.

Recently he blamed deselection of Labour councillors in Haringey on the “loony left” . Well no actually, – let us mention the HDV regeneration scheme  (which amounts to social cleansing ) and that those who have been deselected were either proponents of or supporters of it!

We have also heard reports that Greg Hands is one of the people behind the smear campaign that some of the Tories have mounted against our Labour MP Emma Dent Coad too.

Some have also pointed out to us that while Mr Hands is busy in his ministerial role negotiating trade deals, he has refused to renounce his US citizenship (he was born there). He also has a German wife and while he is busy negotiating away our freedom of movement when leaving the EU – his own children will retain their rights as they have dual UK/German citizenship and the rights to become US citizens too.

THINK say Greg Hands and many of his Tory friends do not understand our community and our isssues, we also question his position as a trade minister too. The deadline for submissions to the boundary commission  regarding  merging Kensington with Chelsea as a constituency ends tomorrow. We suggest any readers who share our concerns about having Greg Hands  as our MP  and  Labour-dominated North Kensington being completely ignored,  please make their voices heard and submit their views here:

https://www.bce2018.org.uk/node/6485?postcode=W105UQ

We also say that Greg Hands after such a series of gaffes on social media is in no place to criticise Emma Dent Coad and her blog posts past or alleged comments in the first place!

THINK say don’t stop our Carnival!

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As regular readers of the blog will know, THINK are very interested in the views of our local community and some of us visit the Nextdoor site to see what people are talking about.

There is currently a post on our local Nextdoor about “Carnival graffiti” doing the rounds on our local section of the site.

Now we at THINK love the Notting Hill Carnival and fully support it continuing in our area. It is in our view a vibrant, inclusive, fun and free street party and a celebration of our multicultural community. Carnival is part of life here,  generates a lot of revenue, has been going on longer than we have been alive and  we very much hope it will be here long after us.

Sadly some on Nextdoor and beyond,  do not share our views.  Most ordinary locals round here can talk about Carnival without talking about crime  – but some try to use this as a reason to either re-route it or scrap it altogether. THINK will just point out that crime occurs at any event with a very large gathering of people but the event for the vast majority of people is safe.

Some have  complained about graffiti and people using their gardens or driveways  as toilets. Yes this is not acceptable and we’re sorry that some have to go through this – but a few minor incidents that are easily resolvable in our view are not a good reason in themselves to want to get rid of  such a major event as Notting Hill Carnival.

THINK point out that it is just two days a year! Some of us who live in social housing under the neglectful watch of Kensington and Chelsea TMO have to put up with this kind of thing on a regular basis.

We appreciate that crowds and loud music are not for everyone and  we will say that we are genuinely sorry for anyone who is a victim of crime during Carnival.

We say to those who seek to blame all society’s problems  on Carnival or just simply dislike it to just please accept that it is part of community life here . After all they can either go away for the bank holiday or  why not just make constructive suggestions regarding Policing and better provision of  public toilets during the event?

We also note that a number of aliases have come on the Nextdoor site; “Chad Pembridge” (of Pembridge), and another one who claims to live in social housing (in a £1.5million flat in Bayswater!!) and not on the Carnival post but have previously seen someone going on the site as “Wolstan Dixie” – see here:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolstan_Dixie

As Nextdoor is supposed to be a “private localised social media site” and has a generally  friendly, neighbourly and positive atmosphere going on – who are these people we wonder? Could they possibly be supporters of  our former MP Victoria “Lady Baking Powder” Borwick in covert campaigning mode as some of them have only popped up to lay into our Carnival?

Yes, Victoria Borwick is still on the scene and has been campaigning to change the venue of  Carnival to Hyde Park and even to introduce ticketing. Yes this is a ludicrous and unworkable idea and we love our Carnival staying here  and don’t wish to see the corporatisation of it – thank you very much. She was also talking to the media  about “acid attacks” at the Carnival this year. Fact: there were none.

THINK invite the people who are concerned  to just get the crime figures for Glastonbury and also the Henley Regatta and then to tell people in our community how much “at risk”they are.

We will also point out that Lady Borwick’s professional backgroumd prior to politics was in  events management  – now why has she not mentioned this when she talks about Hyde Park and ticketing we wonder?

Notting Hill Carnival goes green for Grenfell💚

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To show love, respect and solidarity to our all in our local community, we have decided to in tribute to those all at Grenfell Tower  to just share some wonderful pictures from this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.  Our thanks to  to all who took part (in particular those  who helped decorate the area Green for Grenfell, the survivors and families who backed the Carnival and all who volunteered in helping to maintain the quiet zone) the organisers  of course, who always put on a fantastic Carnival and also the many visitors who showed peace, love and respect to our community.💚

We were not all in the mood for Carnival this time but you all showed love and respect for both the survivors and deceased – thank you and love and respect back

💚💚💚💚Green for Grenfell💚💚💚💚

Grenfell, the Rotten Borough and the Terrible Mismanagement Organisation: Now is the summer of our discontent….

Demonstrators protest against the Grenfell Tower fire outside a Kensington and Chelsea Council meeting at Kensington Town Hall in London

Last week there was another Grenfell meeting at Notting  Hill Methodist Church. Only the Police and Fire Brigade gave us any reassurance about the situation.

The very difficult subject of recovery of things from the building was brought up, but at least some are open to explaining to the public with regards to structural engineering as to going into the building.

We not only know that the air quality wasn’t monitored on the day (or the following day) when cyanide fumes and other toxic gases were released and many in our local area suffering from  respiratory problems and sickness. We now know that this Rotten Borough appointed two outside sources for their “own” data. Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy”Campbell not only neglected to say where they were from and who appointed them (oh don’t worry, we can take a wild guess….) but also went on about children’s and family services (thin ice!) and said “I’ve worked with these people for ten years ” so friends of yours then, Dizzy Lizzy?

One woman who had lost her son, gave a brave, brilliant and beautiful speech, and spoke about her son, and also others who our community have lost in the fire. She asked for the Notting Hill Carnival to go ahead, as long as those who have passed away are remembered and there are suitable tributes paid.

We as a local community blog who have also lost people in this dreadful disaster, will second this. It is important for our community to move forward and enjoy ourselves; but we should never forget those who are  missing or no longer with us – you will be forever with us and we will not be silenced from speaking out about this entirely preventable disaster, and we will pay silent tributes as well as speaking up for our community as needed.

Friend of THINK and local campaigner Samia  Badani, brought up the fact that the TMO is completely unaccountable. She has submitted countless questions under the Freedom of Information act, and asked at this meeting, a simple question regarding who is accountable, RBKC or the TMO, only for Dizzy Lizzy to turn round and say “we don’t know”!! “I don’t think it is possible to answer”  and “the council is separate from the TMO” so that’s crystal clear then.

If our community, friends and family weren’t so devastated, there would be a comedy act in there somewhere, but after all the continual insults to our intelligence that this council still exercises and after still having zero accountability after all this we just  feel utter and total despair.

And as regular readers will know, Dizzy Lizzy at her time in charge of family and children’s services, made destructive cuts to basic and vital facilities for the most vulnerable, only for this Rotten Borough to cut taxes for the wealthiest.

Samia pointed out that the TMO have a responsibility to share information. But all we got from Dizzy Lizzy was “oh well, we can ask”

Anyway as for not providing permanent housing in the community, sadly our fears regarding social cleansing appear to be true. If this sorry lot in charge of our council really wanted to care, they would use their very large reserves to  simply buy properties in the area – it is the very least they could do – after all,  we have more than enough Estate Agents with vacant properties here.

Back to the TMO – their presence was missed  at the meeting. Several survivors asked “where are they?” Well we can answer that question- meeting residents of the Silchester Estate. Two meetings around the corner from each other, same day and same time – now what are the chances of that?

The TMO exists (in sorts), they have a new chief executive, Elaine Elkington, who completely failed to mention Grenfell in her first media appearance.

What is this, some might wonder? In our view is nothing but an empty plutocracy and a complete travesty of democracy and accountability, that’s what.

Many TMO tenants now have no housing office and barely anyone they can contact, but the TMO likes to flex its muscles still and bully people if they dare to make their voices heard.

It has also got to be said that we do not want our social housing  to be privatised. A man from Notting Hill Housing does keep popping up at public meetings to put the boot into the TMO – he does appear to have an ulterior motive because  we know that they and Genesis are planning a merger and they together are sitting on £3.5 billion reserves (no, not a misprint!) These were once progressive and charitable organisations which have become fixed with greed and self interest and paying little interest to the rights of tenants and leaseholders.

We know that they are planing social cleansing by the back door and are looking  to sell off properties in the more lucrative areas (which means our community)

There is no respite and we will try to enjoy Carnival, but our community is not only being failed, but we are being deceived and cheated as well.

We wish the RBKC Tories could experience every second, minute and day of what a thoroughly depressing and anguished time  that we are going through. But justice is really only a hope. See what our former liar (leader) is doing here:

 

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/uk_599a96bbe4b0e8cc855e707e/amp

Oh well for him, one door closes and another door opens. We despise this lot for all the destruction that they have brought to this community and we are not getting just getting a lack of accountability, let alone answers, but also now are subject to whatever RBKC entirely decides it wants to do. But enough – will not be trodden on, humiliated and defeated – we stand proud and will defend our community and each other come what may.

Do not expect us to simply put up with any more of this, so go on Tories, enjoy your summer holidays while we don’t. It has to be said that Dizzy Lizzy finished the meeting by shrugging her shoulders, rolling her eyes and eventually throwing her arms up in despair. Well how could she ever begin to imagine how we feel?

No justice: no peace

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Funny goings on Nextdoor………

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THINK has been alerted to the goings on at the Nextdoor site. For those not in the know, Nextdoor is a localised  private social media site that acts as a sort of noticeboard on which locals place posts. Normally these are things such as buying or selling, recommendations or local events. Recently however, some members of our community have been getting very topical on there. THINK is a local community blog and we wouldn’t like to be semi detached from reality, so we decided to have a peek behind the net curtains.

Fellow blog From The Hornets Nest covered an incident between Tory Cllr Matthew Palmer and North Kensington residents – we have uncovered more  dissatisfaction among ordinary locals.

Residents have made their feelings loud and clear about how they feel about both national and local issues. Most were annoyed about Brexit and Victoria Borwick’s position on it (one member put a post up entitled “Kensington Constituency, RBKC and Brexit – Time to take a stand” for which she was bizarrely thanked by Conservative Cllr Julie Mills!).

Most were outraged about North Kensington Library and RBKC giving it to Notting Hill Prep School at cut price – which was the beginning of Cllr Palmer throwing his toys out of the pram.

Others were upset about RBKC’s “regeneration” plans, particularly the Silchester Estate and expressed their concerns with regards to what happens to the residents affected and the wider implications for our community.

Other issues that came up were the loss of the Maxilla Centre and RBKC’s attitude with regards to a “consultation” being in fact an announcement of closure.

Also, the Notting Hill Carnival came up for discussion a few times. The responses were mixed, but THINK was very pleased to see some residents defending it, suggesting minor changes such as more live music and better transport and giving their own personal accounts of how special the Carnival is to them.

And many expressed their dissatisfaction with our MP Victoria Borwick with not just her policies, but also her communications (or lack of) with them. It got to the point of Cllr Robert Freeman posting a lengthy and exhaustive  defence of her that filled an entire page and would normally be more appropriate for the council chamber. Then surprise surprise,  Lady Borwick herself made a special guest appearance – but even that didn’t stop residents from putting the boot in!

So, RBKC Tories and MPs’ – If you pop Nextdoor to look for a builder or a cleaner; many in the area will suggest that you give your unpopular policies a good refurbishment  and give you a good verbal dusting down!!!

Victoria Borwick MP and the half-baked truth……….

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THINK have finally got our hands on a copy of the Conservatives’ campaign leaflet (ridiculously titled “in touch”!) which purports to lay out some of Victoria Borwick’s “local campaigns”. Well we decided to examine these rather closely alongside Lady Borwick’s voting record in the Commons – the actual results do not quite match the claims made in the leaflet and there are many other further relevant issues with regards to her voting to point out.  (Warning to moderate, pro-remain and “One Nation” Conservatives: you may need a stiff drink or a lie down after reading this!)

One claim states one of her local campaigns as “Protecting EU citizens- Championing reciprocal rights for EU nationals living in Kensington.” and goes on to say that “Many EU nationals have made Kensington their home and are a vital part of our community ”  Excuse us at THINK if we lose ourselves in a state of bewilderment here,  but not only did she campaign and vote for Brexit against the majority of her constituents, but also has voted against the right to remain for EU citizens living in the UK – what a nerve!

Here’s another one: “Air Quality – Campaigning to reduce diesel pollution in our streets” Well we weren’t choking on filthy Westway fumes when we read that! As you can see from our previous “Let’s clear some air” post – the Conservatives have not followed Labour and the Lib Dems by committing  to a new clean air act. Not only that but Lady Borwick has always voted against measures to prevent climate change – if these issues weren’t so serious, we’d be laughing.

And here’s the hat trick: “Improving housing provision – Supporting better social housing for the most vulnerable and providing more homes for families locally” Really? We heard she had been to North Kensington recently – clearly she didn’t bother to visit any social housing there or speak to locals who live in it then.  And here’s her voting record in the Commons : Voted against local authorities retaining the funds from council home sales to re-invest in social housing, voted for cuts in housing benefit for recipients in supported housing, voted against more funds for social care, voted against paying higher benefits to the sick and disabled, voted to phase out secure lifetime tenancies and voted against the provision of discounted starter homes. Not exactly living up to the billing on her leaflet, then.

Here’s further information on her voting patterns that may be of some local interest:

For those in our area who care about the Middle East: She voted for air strikes in Syria and against an inquiry into the Iraq war. She has also continuously voted against refugees’ rights in the UK.

For those who are under 18 and for others who wish to lower the voting age to 16. She voted against this.

For those who care about the future of pubs in our area:  She voted against making the demolition of pubs subject to planning permission.

For those in our area who care about human rights and civil liberties: She has voted to repeal the human rights act and also voted for mass surveillance.

And for those in our area who care about taxation and the fairness of it: She has voted against higher taxes on banks.

Also when she comments on the Notting Hill Carnival, she only focuses on the crime and problems element  rather than what a generally positive, fun and multicultural celebration of our community it is.

So at THINK we believe  that Victoria Borwick is a right wing Tory whose views are closer to those of say, Norman Tebbit than to the vast majority of her constituents and makes her predecessor Sir Malcolm Rifkind, appear almost left wing in comparison!

We also believe that any claims that she and her Conservative party colleagues make ought to be taken with a good pinch of baking powder!