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

Wornington Green: Still green for now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we have this to say to them:

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

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

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

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

This isn’t over……

Fire at Markland House, a 20 storey block of flats opposite Grenfell Tower

Today, a fire broke out on the 13th floor of Markland House, a 20 storey block of flats on the Silchester Estate opposite Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.

We are very relieved to hear the Fire was soon contained and that no one was hurt and we thank the Fire Brigade for putting out the blaze and for their prompt response and presence at the scene. We also thank both the Fire Brigade and the local Police for securing the scene and ensuring that residents were evacuated from the building.

This has been truly upsetting and traumatising for our local community two years and two months on since Grenfell and especially for residents of Markland House, which is located just across the road from Grenfell

We do not have any details of the causes of the fire, but we spoke to some residents of the building outside.

A resident of the 16th floor had been with her husband and smelt smoke at around 11:30am. Initially her husband had thought the smell was cigarette smoke coming from the balcony. She told us “We were there a little longer before we realised that’s not cigarette smoke and looked out to see smoke billowing out from the 13th floor. We got out of the flat, alerted our neighbours and left the building straight away.”

Some residents praised the caretaker of Markland House who had also helped alert residents and evacuate the block.

Other residents expressed their concerns that RBKC had not installed a fire alarm in the building. One resident who lives on the 7th floor who arrived back to find the flats cordoned off, told us “there hasn’t been a fire alarm installed in the hall, all the council did was to repaint the stairs two days after Grenfell and that’s all”. The resident also expressed his relief that the block had not been refurbished like Grenfell and that the block did not have cladding on it.

We spoke to Cllr Mo Bakhtiar (pictured above) , former RBKC Deputy Mayor and Labour councillor for St Helen’s Ward the neighbouring ward to Notting Dale, where Grenfell Tower, the Lancaster West Estate and the Silchester Estate are all located.

He told us “I am saddened and remember everything that happened on the 14th of June , since lost their lives in Grenfell l two years ago. I was anxious and worries but I am relieved that nobody was injured but this is shocking for the community.”

Cllr Baktiar also expressed his concern that about how access for the Fire Brigade to the buildings was made more difficult by the 2014 redevelopment of part of Frinstead House and the buildings to the rear of it if another such fire was to occur of a more serious nature.

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Silchester Estate has four 20 storey blocks of flats – Markland House, Dixon House and Frinstead House on the west side of the estate and Whitstable House on the east side of the estate.

Last year, in July, a fire broke out on the 16th floor of Whitstable House (pictured below) , the nearest tower to Grenfell and on the same side of the road ( known as the tower next door”). Fortunately this fire had been easily contained and nobody had been hurt in But today, some nearby residents, expressed their concerns that there are still no sprinklers, fire extinguishers or fire alarms provided in the communal areas in their blocks.

To mark the 2nd anniversary of Grenfell in June, Grenfell United projected a series of messages on to a series of buildings around the country to draw attention to lack of safety in tower blocks. One, below, projected on to Frinstead House said “2 years after Grenfell this building still has no sprinklers”

Back in March 2018, we posted this about lifts in Dixon House not working:

https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/2018/03/02/down-the-road-from-grenfell-lifts-in-20-storey-tower-block-not-working/

Today we briefly saw one RBKC Cabinet member outside Markland House today – Cllr Sarah Addenbrooke, Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, outside who kindly asked asked how we were. We asked her for a statement and she suggested that we contact the RBKC Communications Team.

So we will ask them here (and we will post their response of course)

THINK join local residents in querying why there have been no sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers or fire alarms fitted in any of these high rise blocks of flats more than two years after Grenfell. We also ask Elizabeth Campbell, Leader of RBKC and Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader as well as member for Grenfell, Housing and Property, to respond to us and to the concerns raised above.

But above all, we believe that action speaks louder than words and remind them that mere statements to the media will not alleviate residents’ very real concerns about fire safety provisions (or lack of) by this council in and around their homes here – so we ask RBKC to listen to this community and act on this now.

…………………………………………………………..

For anyone feeling distressed by today’s incident, the NHS Outreach Service can be contacted on 020 8962 4393

UPDATE: RBKC has posted this with a statement from Kim Taylor-Smith on their website :

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/newsroom/all-council-statements/information-today%E2%80%99s-fire-markland-house-and-support-those-affected

Grenfell response? Clueless Dizzy Lizzy tries to get by on a wing and a prayer……

DSC08410.JPG

An interview with the leader of this Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea “Dizzy Lizzy” Elizabeth Campbell was published in the Independent recently. See it here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-council-leader-kensington-elizabeth-campbell-deaths-block-flats-a8023631.html

THINK reported on the TMO vote some time back and why, despite the fact that the KCTMO is a complete mess, we believe they have to stay in place.

Many in this community, including the Police believe that there are sufficient grounds on which to prosecute some at both RBKC and the TMO on corporate manslaughter charges over the Grenfell Tower fire. The vote to disband the TMO and make RBKC the sole member would have exempted some who have been in charge from being prosecuted.

Dizzy Lizzy says in the interview that RBKC cannot guarantee fire safety in flats while the TMO is still in place unless the council is not the sole member of it. Well many local residents, particularly Grenfell survivors and the bereaved, are appalled by the prospect of an exemption from prosecution of some at the TMO if that goes ahead. Many here in this community have zero confidence in the Rotten Borough Tories and their likely intent to escape justice and let their TMO manager friends off the hook if they were in this position.

As for the bereaved and the council’s treatment of them, one man, Ahmed, who lost two close relatives in the fire, spoke at the last Full Council meeting. Ahmed had asked his key worker for a meeting with Elizabeth Campbell with and other relatives of the deceased from the fire and this was denied to him and he was told that Grenfell Response or Gold Command would meet with him instead.

Ahmed stated that he was also speaking for 30 other families from Grenfell Tower and that in doing this he was taking time away from his own family. He pointed out that many of the bereaved do not have the time and energy to organise meetings. Apparently one of the bereaved encountered Cllr Campbell in the hotel they were staying and it was eventually agreed that she would meet with them. He said “however, I shouldn’t have to be begging as a bereaved family member to try and arrange that meeting privately”.

Ahmed also pointed out that he received an email from RBKC on which the council had spelled his name wrong on it and the email did not contain an apology for the fire; only an apology for the response “This council is partly responsible for the murder and cremation of my family” he said. He also mentioned that another member of the bereaved families had received a timetable for half-term for his children whom had perished in the fire. THINK believe that this is beyond appalling and we were lost for words when we heard this.

In the end Ahmed told the Town Hall that he was privately invited to the Grenfell Scrutiny Committee along with 20 other of the bereaved, but was was offended by the fact that this council hired a security guard into what was supposed to be a private meeting .

He also found it troubling that the scrutiny committee consisted of a few members who were part of the Housing scrutiny committee prior to the fire and that Kim Taylor- Smith, RBKC Deputy Leader had stated that he was “unaware of resident’ concerns” at that time.

But Ahmed wasn’t finished with them yet “What you should have is a scrutiny committee that scrutinises the lead up to this failure”

When Ahmed had apparently asked one member of the committee if there was an internal investigation, the member had said “yes” but Elizabeth Campbell had apparently answered “no”

Then Elizabeth Campbell gave her usual “we are determined to do everything we can” answer with the usual platitudes. And then couldn’t even remember the dates for the consultation as to the terms of reference for a steering group for bereaved and survivors and people shouted out from the gallery: “you should know that!”

Dizzy: “I’ve got the paper on my desk! But I do know there are plans to do that”

Well THINK send our support and solidarity to Ahmed and all the bereaved families of victims of Grenfell Tower and we will not forget about our community even though RBKC clearly do regularly – disgraceful.

But if Dizzy Lizzy couldn’t appear any more incompetent even for a newspaper interview. In the interview in The Independent ,she also referred to “lazy” media coverage after negative press she received when it was revealed that she had never set foot in a Tower block.

THINK say to Dizzy Lizzy, it is not “lazy” to criticise this council’s less than adequate response to Grenfell, or your complete lack of understanding towards North Kensington, particularly Grenfell victims and all relatives and friends affected.

It is not your coming from a more privileged background that people are criticising; it is the fact that you have very limited knowledge and understanding of those from less privileged backgrounds despite so many residents telling you their problems and concerns on a regular basis.

As for “lazy” – what about someone who sits on RBKC as a councillor to 11 years and cannot even be bothered to pay a visit to social housing tower blocks in the borough? There is quite a bit of social housing in her Royal Hospital Ward in the borough by the way (we checked) , as well as her ward not being all that far away from the tower blocks in Chelsea’s World s End Estate.

THINK also believe that it is “lazy” for a council leader to stand a minute down the road from the Grenfell vigil and talk to the media and cameras, but not even have the decency to pay Grenfell survivors and families a visit at the vigil. In the interview she says for people to “judge me by what I am doing, and not by where I am living” . Well maybe some of our readers can see some of what she is doing or not doing by having a look at her response to being confronted by angry Grenfell families and survivors after she snubbed the Grenfell vigil here on a live Tweet here:

In the interview, Dizzy Lizzy referred to the delay in rehousing Grenfell survivors, saying “It has been absolutely awful and for people who were on the phone to people it’s beyond imagining and yet we’re expecting people like that to say “yes I like that flat, I’ll move in next week. I’ll have Peter Jones’ furniture and not somebody else’s furniture”

Dizzy Lizzy is referring to Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square, not the Dragons’ Den entrepreneur by the way. We have to point out to Dizzy Lizzy that we know of people who are still living on charity donations, one who has no money as had to use his savings to pay for the funeral of his wife (who died in the fire) and many who have been offered places, only for RBKC to withdraw the offer.

We do not know what Dizzy Lizzy is thinking if she imagines luxury furniture from Sloane Square to be a priority in the thoughts of Grenfell survivors when they choose to go and view a home or accept an offer of one. We can also tell Dizzy Lizzy that some are also accepting unsuitable properties because they are severely traumatised, exhausted and stressed and just want to get out of temporary accommodation as soon as possible.

Also some properties being offered are by housing associations and they are not necessarily under the same terms of tenancy the survivors previously had (thanks to the shortage of housing in RBKC – another fault of Dizzy Lizzy and her predecessors). All these issues are reported to her on a frequent basis and yet she still really fails to understand.

We do not either rate her as a leader nor rate her chances of success in the position. It is our view that she will have plenty of extra time on her hands to spend going shopping in Peter Jones very soon…….