“Not in Kansas anymore”: The Rotten Borough’s shameful treatment of traumatised residents (and an urgent petition)

Just when some of us thought that some at RBKC could not sink any lower; they have hit a new low with regards to housing policy for some in our community who are affected by Grenfell.

Yes, shockingly this council has made recommendations on housing residents from the Walkways, Treadgold House and Bramley House, which basically amounts to an ultimatum to force residents to either move back into their former homes by the 30th of September this year (only two months away) to keep their secure tenancies or that if they stay in temporary accommodation they will lose their secure tenancies.

This is an urgent call to our readers to please sign and share this petition from local campaigner and friend of THINK Isis Amlak, demanding that the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee – which meets tomorrow – remove the recommendation from this report before it goes to the Leadership Team meeting, which is meeting on Wednesday.

https://www.change.org/p/rbkc-residents-stop-rbkc-hands-off-traumatised-residents-tenancies?recruiter=42082904&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_for_starters_page

We apologise to some who may think our pictures on this serious post may appear to be rather in bad taste, but if anything leaves a bad taste , it is a local authority that lacks a heart in having little to no compassion for people affected by Grenfell, the brains to communicate with residents effectively and the courage to face up to the consequences of their actions.

HEART:

Maybe there is “no place like home”, but it is utterly inhumane for RBKC to expect these traumatised residents to either return to a property in very close proximity to Grenfell Tower , where they witnessed things on the 14th of June last year that nobody should ever have to experience within a deadline . Many saw the fire and saw people in Grenfell Tower calling for help, not all of whom survived . (Some of the sights they have seen to us, as traumatised residents around the corner, are far too upsetting for us to describe).Some wish to leave; others wish to come back at some point but are the in a mind to face it now. Yet callous RBKC tried to force them to make such h a decision within such a narrow timeframe .

Neither Maxine Holdsworth, Director of Housing Needs, nor Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader of RBKC and Cabinet Member for housing, are in a position to fully comprehend what these residents are going though, and so neither are most of the Leadership Team (Cabinet) who are likely to approve this recommendation.

It is also utterly heartless to expect these residents to give up secure tenancies that many had waited years for – only to now for this council to further add to their trauma and stress

BRAIN:

Yes, RBKC did go spending council reserves on properties, but they completely failed to assess the needs of each and every household first – hence many offers of accommodation not being taken as unsuitable for some residents’ needs (for example, disabled residents being offered places that are difficult to access).

And RBKC also gave £40million to Notting Hill Housing to help rehouse residents in the full knowledge that legally many of their secure tenancies would not be renewed. They did not bother to consult residents; they just threw money at a housing association in blind faith.

Our local authority also severely failed residents with regards to just basic communication (and has done so on a regular basis since the disaster) only just getting in touch with residents affected by this to notify them of this policy decision last Tuesday – beyond unacceptable.

So much for their extra money spent on communications if they cannot even arrange to meet with and fully discuss their proposals for residents within reasonable notice.

And of course, poor communications with helping traumatised residents who are struggling to cope around here has been a consistent and outstanding failure of theirs since the disaster. See our “Dumb and Dumber” post here :

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/dumb-and-dumber/

It appears that some at RBKC either do not have a clue as to what they are doing and others appear to think that by trying to hide away from some or to try and pull the wool over residents’ eyes, that this will somehow remedy the situation – it more than certainly won’t.

COURAGE:

THINKers have attended many of the Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee meetings and also the Tenants Consultative Committee meetings for some time now and we know that it has been admitted by RBKC that there are a considerable number of empty properties that have been left in a state of disrepair for ages – and this is still the case now.

The TMO and what is happening with the dismantling of it is a long and sometimes legally complicated process. But there is an urgent need for these homes to be repaired and to be put back in use as soon as possible.

The Rotten Borough did not have the courage to admit that it was not equipped to deal with both Grenfell and the housing situation and should have gone to the Government and asked to be put into special measures. Instead the RBKC Tories decided to posture and carry on and go ahead with “business as usual” try to act like a “normal” local authority in an unprecedented situation of a disaster.

They would like to draw a line under this and would rather most people forget that it was their behaviour towards residents of Grenfell Tower as well as the dangerous refurbishment of the building which for the most part caused the fire in which at least 72 people died – yet they do not seem to care that their policies and recommendations are further ruining lives.

The council’s strategy appears to be to sweep Grenfell and all affected under the carpet and then to be more focused on offering occasional help to people (in wards which voted for them) and putting on a PR show for the media (despite the fact that there is an inquiry going on which eventually will be examining policies and strategies of policy orchestrated by them and the consequences ).

This council not only lacks, a heart, a brain and the courage to deal with this situation in a competent, calm and compassionate way; the Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has no shame.

Linda Wade, the Wonderwoman of Earl’s Court!

Today is International Women’s Day and THINK has decided to ¬†positively focus on one of RBKC’s most dedicated and hard working councillors. ¬†Liberal Democrat Cllr Linda Wade (pictured above as “Wonderwoman”).

Cllr Wade represents Earl’s Court Ward and has done ¬†so since 2010.
She also sits on the Housing and Property Scrutiny committee and is one of the best speakers there.

Linda’s knowledge of housing and property is second to none : she has expressed her concerns over housing associations moving away from their ¬†once-commendable charitable ¬†roots and turning into corporate giants, leaving perfectly decent homes empty, letting them fall into a terrible condition and then ¬†either selling them off or pulling them down.

See a post of ours about Notting Hill Housing here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/notting-hill-housing-where-has-the-trust-gone/

Linda is a shareholder of Notting Hill Housing who voted against the merger with Genesis Housing Association for that reason  She also  joined us on the demonstration against the merger some time back.

Sadly as regular readers of THINK will know, shareholders of both voted for the merger to go ahead. We will be keeping an eye on what happens next, as will the campaigners from both associations and so will Cllr Wade.

She is a supporter of ¬†the Save Earl’s Court campaign ¬†and is chair of The Earl’s Court Area Action Group.

THINK believe ¬†that the masterplan, which has seen the demolition of the world-famous Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre has only brought , noise, pollution, loss of business and loss of identity to the area and Linda has been one of the most vocal critics of this plan, which was mainly focused on providing luxury housing.

Of course there is now a real question mark hanging over the masterplan and also over the future of developers Capco and their involvement in the plans. We say that the plans ¬†now need to change and must include a replacement for the Exhibition Centre, they need to fully ¬†local residents’ views into account, and there needs to be real much-needed provision of social housing.

Read about the ingenious and visionary alternative plans from the Save Earl’s Court campaigners here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=4186&relatedposts_position=2

There are in fact, three council seats in Earl’s Court – the other two are occupied by ¬†Conservative councillors ¬†– Cllr Malcolm Spalding (who has featured on this blog a few times before) ¬† and Cllr Fenella Aouane – here is some feedback we have received from some local residents about these two:

Cllr Spalding: “arrogant”, ¬†“too chummy with developers” , ” doesn’t care about social housing” .

Cllr Aouane: “invisible”, ¬†“doesn’t answer ANY emails – wrote to her several ¬†times NO RESPONSE ” ” never turns up to any meetings”

Oh dear, if residents of ¬†Earl’s Court haven’t ¬†had enough of a bad deal with the Earl’s Court masterplan, these two could really make things even ¬†worse, but fortunately Cllr Wade does respond to emails from her constituents ¬†and go to meetings, does care about social housing, is very knowledgable ¬†and could never be described as “arrogant”!

Having met her a few times, we can honestly say that she is one of the most down to earth and honest local representatives that we have ever met. We hear complaints and allegations made against local  councillors (ranging  from the completely believable to the completely ludicrous!) but only positive things about her.

Cllr Wade ¬†clearly cares deeply about Earl’s Court and ¬†all the residents there and so do we, so we’ll invite all our readers to please sign and share this petition from the Save Earl’s Court campaigners to build the world’s greenest venue on the site of the former Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre (which is sadly missed).¬†

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/build-the-world-s-greenest-venue-on-the-site-of-the-earls-court-masterplan-london-1

We believe that most people can learn from Linda and from the Save Earl’s Court campaigners that listening to residents, taking a keen interest in local matters, retaining a positive attitude yet still fighting a ¬†good strong campaign, ¬†really makes a difference to people’s lives.

We’ll leave you with some London Live interviews with Linda Wade and with local ¬†campaign supporter Desi, courtesy of the Save Earl’s Court website here:

http://www.saveearlscourt.com/news/london-live-tv-interviews-with-chair-of-ecaag-and-campaign-supporter

And to those in charge of RBKC we say watch and learn…..

Notting Hill Housing and Genesis Housing Association: Far from an ideal union¬†ÔĽŅ

Tomorrow, on the 16th of January 2018,   shareholders of Notting Hill Housing and Genesis Housing Association will vote on whether to merge these two housing giants   together and form a supersize housing association.

This for several reasons as we will explain, will put social housing in London at risk, will give their existing residents fewer rights and will leave many  in parts  of London like our local area subject to unaffordable rent increases and leasehold charges and the changes in moving to a more corporate structure will threaten the existence of  housing co-operatives, the trust between staff and residents, the wellbeing of vulnerable residents and will  further remove these once-charitable organisations away from their original purposes Р from which they have been already straying  Рnamely providing social and genuinely affordable decent homes  to many in urban areas of London.

THE “BRIDE”: We at THINK are familiar with Kate Davies, chief executive of Notting Hill Housing and designated chief executive of the proposed merged association ¬†(pictured above). See our previous posts here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/notting-hill-housing-and-genesis-residents-say-no-to-the-merger/

And here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/ūüéÉthink-halloween-specialūüéÉ-part-1-notting-hill-housings-kate-davies-the-wicked-witch-of-the-west/

And also our post about Notting Hill Housing moving away from its’ once charitable and decent housing aims here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/notting-hill-housing-where-has-the-trust-gone/

Back in 2008 “Wicked Witch” Davies wrote a report for ¬†right wing Tory Iain Duncan Smith’s ¬†misnomer of a think tank The Centre for Social Justice, claiming that ¬†“tenants pay little or no rent and get their home maintained in good order for free” She ¬†has also stated ¬†in an article for the Times that ¬†“social housing is not a desired destination” and that “private ownership is preferable to ¬†state-provided solutions” .

We suppose at least she does not hide her desired intent to what she intends to do with NHH’s housing stock – but we point out that in areas of London like ours, you have to be wealthy to buy a property – just where does she expect people to live?

Davies and her partner Nick Johnson also run a company called Davies Johnson Ltd that advised on, wait for it, the disastrous redevelopment of Earl’s Court!

Notting Hill Housing’s website has claimed that residents views on the proposed merger are ¬†welcome, but that is not what ther residents have told us.

Yes, meetings about the merger were limited to ticket holders only, even had bouncers manning the doors, and yet still many concerned residents who managed to get hold of tickets were denied entry.

After residents have received that sort of treatment and seen evidence of social cleansing and selling off housing stock in areas like ours and have suffered huge rent and service charge increases under Davies’ rule, is it any wonder that they do not for one minute believe the claims on the NHH website that “no one will be worse off due to our proposed merger”.

THE “GROOM”: Meet Dipesh Shah, he is the chair of Genesis Housing ¬†Association and set ¬†to ¬†be the ¬†“chair designate” of the merged association if it goes ahead. He may only pocket around ¬£9,000 for his position, but as a multimillionaire director of several wealth management funds, and as a former CEO of BP and the UK Atomic Energy Authority among other things (we actually lost count of his past and present directorships!) and rumoured to be earning over ¬£4million a year; he really doesn’t need the money!


“Deep Pockets” Shah (pictured above) has the nerve to defend Genesis’ exorbitant rent increases to residents who cannot afford them. He like NHH’s Kate Davies is also a supporter of converting their ¬† existing social housing to so-called “affordable housing” (up to 80% of market rate).

According to him, the funds raised from this are supposed to help Genesis build more homes but according to Genesis Residents, the association has only built just  three social homes in the last two years!

“Deep Pockets” has also treated residents who complain about ¬†the association’s poor maintenance of their properties with dismissal. He claims to be “unaware” of any failures.

Maybe “Wicked Witch of the West” Kate Davies can show him our blog? Because here, for this gruesome twosome ¬†are just a handful of ¬†serious complaints from residents of Genesis that we found posted on Twitter

“IF ANY OF YOU HAS REASONS WHY THESE TWO SHOULD NOT BE MARRIED, SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE” : Let’s take a deep breath here, how many reasons have THINK got? The threat to many of their residents in areas like ours where land value is high, the corporate structure putting ever more distance between management ¬†and residents, likely rent increases and service charges that residents will face as the organisation becomes even more profit-driven, the cuts to good local staff ¬†working at both ¬†organisations, the threat to council housing in London that this merger would bring, ¬†and the ¬†general immorality of charging excess costs to their residents to pay for newly built homes they will never be able to afford?

But don’t just take our word for it, see this ¬†letter posted on ¬†the Grenfell Action Group from Robin Sharp, a founder member of Genesis and first chair of PCHA ¬† here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/genesis-founder-condemns-merger/

THE “ICING ON THE WEDDING CAKE”

THINK ask shareholders to not be tempted into being seduced by the sugary sweet enticements of huge profits by the corporatisation of both associations. We ask that you put people and communities  first and vote with your conscience.

Also we have good grounds to believe the merger process may be legally flawed. Please read this excellent post from the Grenfell Action Group here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/notting-hill-genesis-merger-legally-flawed/

THE “WEDDING CRASHERS”:

We thank the knowledgable, tireless and hardworking campaign groups from both associations who campaign against the merger, against social cleansing and  for better treatment and standards in their housing.

See  the Listen NHH  website here:

https://listen-nhh.org/

And Genesis Residents website here:

http://genesisresidents.org.uk/

The VENUES: “GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME”:

We urge shareholders of both NHH and Genesis to please vote NO. A vote against the merger is a vote to save not only social housing in London but also the  social face and layout of many areas of London and the South East   which are  under threat from this indecent proposal of a merger.

The peaceful protest against the merger will be at 5:15pm ¬†for Notting Hill Housing and the shareholders’ meeting and ¬†vote for NHH at Sussex Place, Hammersmith, London W6 9EA.

The  other  peaceful protest  against the merger for   Genesis  and the shareholders meeting and vote  will also be at 5:15 tomorrow at Atelier House, 64 Pratt Street, London NW1 ODL

THINK will of course be joining the protests  and showing our support against the merger and we recommend you do too. Here, posted by Grenfell Speaks on Twitter, are residents and campaigners  Natasha and Gemini:


Notting Hill Housing and Genesis: Unhappily ever after

On Tuesday the 16th of January, shareholders of both Genesis Housing Association and Notting Hill Housing will be voting on whether to merge into one giant organisation.

Collectively, if the vote goes through, they will be responsible for  the housing  of around 170,000 residents.

THINK has long been  concerned about the issue of housing associations straying a very long away from their roots back  when they initially started out as charitable organisations Рsocial landlords, providing many   with decent housing in the local community.

We share the concerns of many residents of both associations ¬†have raised, from rent increases that many, particularly those housed by Genesis Housing Association, are facing in high land value areas, particularly in London, to the move instead to provide “affordable” housing rather ¬†than housing at social rent level ( a long way from the original aims of both associations) , and the moves into property development and regeneration.

Yes these organisations have been chronically underfunded by successive governments and from the outset are increasingly in need of funds, but THINK believe that turning into socially cleansing property developers for the wealthy is not the way forward.

We had a  closer look at  just a few of the rules of Genesis Housing   Association based on the model rules from 2005:

“The Association is formed for the benefit of the community, its objects shall be to carry on for the benefit of the community”

And this: “This association shall not trade for profit”

We believe that this merger amounts to a marriage of convenience  Рconvenient for those in charge to rip up their own rule books and shrug off the responsibilities they were originally designated to have and go chasing vast profits at the real cost of not only their existing residents, but also to many other ordinary residents of London and the South East who are already struggling  to afford a home.

Many have noticed appearances in recent years executives on the boards of both associations who may have some very questionable motives as to their positions on social housing.

Take Richard Powell ¬†for example, who joined NHH last year. He previously worked as a “director of urban communities” at Lendlease. Yes – the Australian based global property development responsible for the demolition of the Heygate Estate in Walworth, South London and also for the proposed HDV regeneration ¬†plans in Haringey council, North London.

See the Stop HDV campaign website here:

http://stophdv.com/

For those not in the know, Haringey planned a 50/50 public private partnership with the company to the tune of ¬£2billion ¬†that would be likely to see most of their residents in the less affluent areas of the borough, lose their homes. Lendlease has also been ¬†in partnership with US president Donald Trump – yes Trump Towers! It almost sounds laughable but we really don’t think that taking a wrecking ball to peoples’ social homes , forcing residents out of London and ¬†replacing their homes ¬†with luxury flats for wealthy “buy-to-leave” investors is really a laughing matter.

If that doesn’t sound worrying enough, Mr Powell also previously worked as a director of planning at Capital and Counties! yes, Capco (or Crapco, as we call them) – responsible for the dreadful mess that is known as the Earl’s Court masterplan.

Have a look at our previous Earl’s Court post here:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/think-special-post-from-earls-court-a-new-beginning/

The ¬†Save Earl’s Court campaign ¬†website ¬†here:

http://www.saveearlscourt.com/

And West Ken and Gibbs Green  campaign website here:

https://westkengibbsgreen.wordpress.com/

The demolition of the Earl’s Court exhibition centre ¬†plus greedy Crapco hiking rents ¬† has come at a real cost to some small businesses around the area – so ¬†it is not even merely a concern for residents in social housing either.
And just in case some reading this still  think this is just a matter for housing association residents and not for those housed by their local authority, let us point to the Aylesbury Estate (formerly Southwark council)  Рunder regeneration  by NHH and Grahame Park (formerly Barnet Council)  under regeneration plans by Genesis Рboth with far fewer homes for social rent.

What could the future of the now-disbanding TMO in Kensington and Chelsea possibly be?

RBKC appear to have little idea of what will happen to their housing stock, and we believe that this supersize beast that collectively will sit on reserves of around £3billion may make the council (whose once cushy reserves are now dwindling) a nice (not so little)  offer Рone that will also appeal to the Rotten Borough Tories wanting to expel many of their social housing residents from the borough. We believe that all social housing residents in and around our borough are at very real risk from this proposed merger.

All the ¬†regeneration projects that these two associations ¬†have been involved in have vastly reduced the provision of social housing places, or even worse, The planned development in Canada Water, South ¬†London ¬†(pictured below) will have 1,030 homes – ¬†consisting so-called “affordable” (up to 80% of market rate – actually completely unaffordable to many), homes for private sale, ¬†homes for private market rent and shared ownership (which only is of real benefit to soon-to-be high flyers starting out on the property ladder) and that’s it. No mention of homes for social rent at all.

All will be familiar with the phrase “charity begins at home”: THINK believe that these two organisations need to get back to being charities that provide the less well off with a decent ¬†social housing ; not become developers who do ¬†ordinary people out of ¬†the right to live in decent social housing. This union in our view will move these once ¬†associations ¬† even further from their once commendable and charitable ¬†roots.

We urge all shareholders who haven’t voted yet to vote NO to the merger and all in and around our community to join the protests outside both meetings tomorrow.

NOTTING HILL HOUSING : at 5 15 pm, Tuesday 16th January 2018   at Sussex Place, Hammersmith, London W6 9EA

GENESIS HOUSING: Also at 5:15pn Tuesday 16th January 2018 at Atelier House, 64 Pratt Street, London, NW1 ODL

The Rotten Borough and their attitude towards Grenfell  РYou would think it never had happened

Here is the latest edition of what THINK call “the Rotten Trumpeter”, aka “Royal Borough ” -RBKC’s own in-house newspaper. This is the front page: do you notice anything missing?

Let’s try the next page:¬†

No – not anything either, let’s try the next page:¬†

Is anyone also feeling like this local authority exists in a parallel universe yet?

Then finally on page 7 (seriously we’re not joking):


Honestly somebody would think there would have never been an entirely preventable disaster in which at least 71 people lost their lives – if they didn’t have to live with the consequences ¬†plus the many bereaved and the traumatised locals who ¬†saw it happening and now live seeing sight of ¬†so much loss in ¬†a now burnt out shell of the Tower around the corner on a daily basis. It says it all about the Rotten Borough’s attitude if they would rather bury Grenfell in the back pages and forget about all affected just to save face.

On page 12 there is a “Leader’s editorial” titled “The Power of Community” – ¬†by Elizabeth “Dizzy Lizzy” Campbell , the leader of RBKC ¬†– yes, that refers to our community ¬†– ¬†that stepped in when this ¬†local authority wanted to sit on its cushy ¬£274million reserves and couldn’t be bothered until the rest of the country and the media began to take notice of this councils’ ¬†continual neglect of Grenfell survivors, bereaved and other local residents in North Kensington.

In it she says “my message to people in this borough is to be patient” ¬†well it is rather too late for that Dizzy Lizzy. Don’t ¬†bother your tiny head with ¬†the glaring social inequalities that existed in the borough before the fire, just pretend they didn’t exist either.

With only 42 of the survivors permanently rehoused ¬†and Dizzy Lizzy and her cabinet cohorts attempting to make out that it is because they can’t decide on their housing ¬†– let us point out that RBKC only built just 10 homes in the last 28 years, and in an attempt to make up for the huge shortfall after the media storm that rightly happened after their “Grenfell non-response”, ¬†they paid ¬£40million to Notting Hill Housing in complete ignorance of the fact that housing association will only provide new tenants with new tenancies under the law as it stands now and the terms of their rules.

That means that Grenfell survivors who previously had lifetime ¬†secure tenancies (which were abolished by the previous coalition Government) will under other terms have fewer rights only receive a “flexible” fixed term five year tenancy under a housing association – which ¬†is ¬†a key reason why so few offers ¬†are being taken up.

We suppose RBKC  are at least now buying properties outright but may of us were saying that they should be doing this and offering like for like tenancies from the start.

We believe that Dizzy Lizzy and her Rotten Borough colleagues have thrown £40 million down the drain and will now have to attempt to push these  housing association properties and tenancies  on to those already  on their waiting lists before Grenfell. Their level of incompetence is beyond belief.

All because they expected to carry on with “business as usual”, that the glare of the nation’s media would go away and hoped that many survivors would just give up and just take whatever there was on the table.

THINK have nothing but admiration for those who have lost everything but still fight and stand up for their rights and nothing but contempt for those who to try to suppress and condemn others to suffering.

RBKC did have plans before the Grenfell  Tower disaster to socially cleanse most of Notting Dale Ward (the council Ward that Grenfell   Tower is in ) . The flammable cladding that was put on the Tower  was meant to make  it look more aesthetically pleasing to the private homes that are still being built in the other side of Kensington Leisure Centre and for the ones that had been planned to go on the Silchester Estate.

Grenfell survivors have more reasons than most to distrust housing rules and local authorities Р and who can blame them?

Notting Hill Housing and Genesis: Residents say no to the merger!

IMG_1618

This is Kate Davies, Chief Executive of Notting Hill Housing.

In our previous blog post, we highlighted how Notting Hill Housing (along with some other housing associations) in their housing policies  have moved far away from the charitable organisations that they were initially set up to be.

It has been brought to our attention by many residents of both Notting Hill Housing and Genesis that the planned merger will lead to more social cleansing carried out with the likely outcome of their properties in or near our (highly priced) area of London sold off to generate more revenue, as well as tenants and leaseholders facing exorbitant rent hikes.

As for Genesis, they are another housing association that has formed out of mergers of Paddington Churches Housing Association (PCHA),  Pathmeads and Springboard housing associations.

Genesis, like NHH, are also partners in several social cleansing projects in other parts of London, such as Grahame Park in Colindale, northwest London, Woodberry Down in Manor House, north London and Oaklands (part of the Old Oak regeneration project) which is only a couple of miles from us in west London. All of these projects have or will have less social housing provided than before.

Some have seen Notting Hill Housing (NHH) ¬†and Genesis properties locally being sold off, rather than offered as social housing. Yes NHH ¬†claim ¬†that they need to generate revenue – but we¬†have pointed out before that together, NHH and Genesis are sitting on ¬£3billion in reserves (which makes The Rotten Borough of Kensington. And Chelsea’s ¬£274million look like peanuts in comparison).

We do not trust these organisations, those in charge of them or their motives for going ahead with this merger and neither do many of their residents. Indeed  the future  aims of these two big beasts of housing association appear to be  increasingly raking in huge profits from sales and rents of unaffordable properties rather than providing social and genuinely affordable housing Рa stark contrast to their humble beginnings and the charitable aims of the original founders.

THINK agree with the residents that bigger is not better when it comes to housing associations. Readers of our previous post can hear about how NHH has lost touch with its charitable roots and has turned into more of a profit-making corporate giant, out of touch with the views and wellbeing of many of its residents and more concerned with flogging off its more expensive properties and ¬†awarding executives fat cat salaries. This situation will only worsen if the merger goes ahead, particularly as Genesis may not be in such great financial shape – rated negative by independent credit rating Moody’s

There is a meeting for NHH and Genesis residents on Saturday 28th October at the Church of St Mary, St Mary’s Square, London W2 at 1pm.

We urge all concerned residents of both these housing associations to vote against the merger and to go there and make your voices heard.

See the Listen NHH website here:

https://listen-nhh.org/

See the Genesis Residents website here:

http://genesisresidents.org.uk/

 

There is also a “NO to the NHH/Genesis merger” protest at The Homes Conference ¬†at Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London W14 onWednesday 22nd November between 8:30am-11am. Some THINKers will be there and we recommend that everyone ¬†who cares about our community and the ¬†future provision of housing for all to join us!

We’ll leave you with some videos of NHH and Genesis residents and supporters protesting :

 

Notting Hill Housing: where has the “Trust” gone?

 

IMG_1431

This is the Reverend Bruce Kenrick who founded Notting Hill Housing Trust back in the 1960s. He was concerned about poorer families in our local area and the conditions they were living in.

Back then he set up the trust as he was appalled at the living conditions m which the poorest had to exist. Many of the poor in our area back then had little choice but to live in cramped, overcrowded and squalid accommodation. Kenrick wrote that “What struck me painfully was the extent to which people’s problems stemmed from damnable housing conditions. Marriages broke up because one or other partner could no longer stand the strain of living in one room with a stove and sink squeezed in to one corner”.

He started raising funds (at one point in a stall in Portobello Road Market)  to buy up dilapidated properties in the area at auction, renovate them and then  let them out as decent social housding for many in less privileged circumstances.. In 1966 Reverend Kenrick also set up housing charity Shelter.

Sadly Notting Hill Housing, they dropped the “Trust” in recent times – which says a lot – are ¬†like many other housing associations (such as Genesis, Octavia, Affinity Sutton, ¬†Family Mosaic and many more) are now ¬†very ¬†far removed now from what they were originally set up to be.

NHH’s current chief executive is Kate Davies. She takes a salary of around ¬£200,000 a year. She has deceived council estates as “ghettos of needy people” . Oh wait Ms Davies, isn’t it your supposed remit to help house some of those who are in need? But then she has been a “fellow” of Iain Duncan Smith’s right wing think tank, ¬†and we know that IDS ¬†shows very little compassion for the poor.

Steve Hilditch a former NHH board member from 2002-08 resigned over the policies of NHH under Kate Davies. In an article he wrote on the Red Brick blog he says “provision of social rented homes was downgraded in priority, there were moves into making tenancies conditional (e.g. on seeking work) whilst more and more effort went into shared ownership and private development.

Also now there is an emphasis (thanks to policies of certain Tory governments), on “affordable rent” (80% of market rate) – unaffordable to most.

See the excellent Red Brick blog here:

https://redbrickblog.wordpress.com/

Yes shared ownership, one of the focuses of Kate Davies and NHH appears to be something that can work out for young soon to be high flyers who are just starting out in their careers, but for  many others it can be unsuitable. Some can even be trapped in a situation where they are paying roughly the same as they would under a mortgage, are subject to the rules of the housing  association and have no means if other parts of the building are in disrepair (such as a leaky roof for example) , of being able to enforce the housing association to make the  necessary repairs.

And yes, Notting Hill Housing is a partner in many ¬†“regeneration” social cleansing projects ¬†such as Sweets Way, the Aylesbury Estate, as well as selling off its own ¬†empty properties in the market that were intended for social rent.

THINK sadly believe that these orchestrated  sell offs land grabs by investors in which several local authorities and housing associations are involved in not only push the poorest out of their communities, but also contribute to pricing many ordinary Londoners out too.

NHH’s “core strategy of providing housing for those who cannot otherwise afford it”? Well they are selling homes over over ¬£1 million, so we don’t exactly know if any ¬†of the supposed people they are supposed to be helping who can exactly afford that.

So with their focus being on ownership and shared ownership, is it too much to ask where they expect those on lower incomes and those who are unable to work to live?

As it is the minimum housing space for a “flat” is just 32 square metres, so there are very obvious concerns about peoples living conditions returning to those of the days before NHH and other associations were set up. We also happen to know a number of families living in cramped and/or overcrowded living conditions under NHH, which are continually ignored by the association. We believe that NHH have completely forgotten their origins altogether and are now real players in the act of actually bringing back ¬†and perpetuating some of the impoverished living conditions which they were set up to combat in the first place.

As for Notting Hill Housing’s original ¬†founder, Reverend Bruce Kenrick passed away in 2007. THINK do not believe that he would at all approve of ¬†Kate Davies and co wrecking his legacy ¬†of a charitable housing organisation and turning it into something of a corporate beast, moving ¬†away from its roots and ¬†his cause of ¬†providing decent housing to those who cannot afford it and instead concentrating their efforts on social cleansing and selling off properties to the wealthy in more affluent areas at the real expense of those who need it most.

As for charitable efforts, after Grenfell, many in our local community from Grenfell Tower and nearby urgently needed housing as our council has a severe shortage of it. But what did Kate Davies and NHH do ? They ¬†delayed and waited alongside other housing associations (“registered housing providers”) for extra public money from RBKC to ¬†the tune of ¬£40million before offering to house survivors. Read this excellent blog post from the Grenfell Action Group here:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/housing-associations-cash-in-on-grenfell-tragedy/

We believe Reverend Kenrick will be turning in his grave…….

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 Рyou 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 Рit is the very least they could do Рafter 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 Рhe 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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