Urgent – RBKC Leadership Team Meeting 22nd March

There is an answer to this question, but it is not a simple one to explain. Politics and law are often complicated; but what is truly disgraceful is how RBKC are trying to sneak decisions through that could protect staff and councillors who are responsible for the Grenfell disaster from any legal or criminal responsibility, as well make as other decisions they know we will disagree with.


Many of the councillors who are responsible for the Grenfell disaster are about to make some important decisions that will serve THEIR interests – decisions that seem designed to help them avoid criminal responsibility from the police investigation and any blame from the Grenfell public inquiry.

Whatever people may think of the RBKC Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, at least it was held in the local area and advertised to people what it would be discussing. Many locals used those meetings as an opportunity make their feelings known to RBKC staff and councillors about the disaster, and the fact that warnings made by many members of our community about the risks RBKC were taking with our safety for years before Grenfell Tower burned were ignored and even ridiculed.

However the Scrutiny Committee isn’t where the power lies or where decisions are made at RBKC. The RBKC Leadership Team is actually where all of this happens. The Leadership Team should therefore be where the community now focuses its effort and attention.

Look at who is on the RBKC Leadership Team and what they are responsible for:

The Leadership Team makes ALL of the major decisions about EVERYTHING in RBKC – decisions regarding the Grenfell recovery effort, decisions regarding the future of KCTMO, decisions regarding how RBKC respond to the police and public inquiries, decisions regarding where money is spent in the borough and how much we are taxed – all of these decisions and many more are taken by the Leadership Team.

Look at the decisions made by the Leadership Team during their meeting on 6th February:

Decisions were made about KCTMO, resuming rent charges for Lancaster West Estate, how former Tower residents are looked after, and the rehousing policy.

Now look at the decisions made at their meeting on 26th February:

Decisions were made about spending on ALL council services – schools, social services, libraries, rubbish collection, streets, and parking to name a few – EVERYTHING that RBKC provides and EVERYWHERE it is provided from (such as Wornington College and North Kensington Library) was agreed at that meeting.

The decisions highlighted above are just some of those we ALL feel strongly about, yet RBKC has been making them in such a sneaky way that most residents never even realised when, where, and how they were being made.

If that wasn’t bad enough, look at what decisions the Leadership Team will be making at its next meeting on 22nd March:

They are planning to make decisions about issues including how local businesses affected by Grenfell will be treated, awarding funding to reduce youth crime rates to an outside organisation rather than somewhere like Harrow Club, and funding decisions about the Carnival.

But that’s not the worst of it – the sneakiest and most self-serving decision they will be making on 22nd March will allow them to spend MILLIONS on expensive law firms to “advise” them on how to respond to the Grenfell criminal investigation and the public inquiry.

If RBKC have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear – so why do they need to spend so much on legal advice about how they should respond to any questions they are asked by the police or public inquiries? RBKC have a huge internal legal department staffed by qualified legal experts with many hours of court experience so why do they need to spend more on external legal advice?

The budget for internal legal services at RBKC is already more than a million pounds per year.

In addition RBKC have already set a budget of more than three and a half million pounds for external legal services in 2018/19 – and now want to increase that budget to five million pounds:                           https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/7608/Committee/1582/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

They chose not to spend an extra FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS on safer cladding when they “regenerated” Grenfell Tower, yet now they are happy to spend FIVE MILLION POUNDS on EXTERNAL legal services, in addition to their existing internal budget for legal services, before they respond to questions they are asked by the two investigations into the Grenfell fire.

Why does being open and honest with these investigations require so much money for legal services – especially external legal services?

Does it really cost so much to simply tell the truth?

Councillors who fear facing criminal charges or legal responsibility for their decisions or actions before Grenfell are desperate to get this all agreed at the 22nd March Leadership Team meeting as they know this is their best chance of avoiding ANY blame or responsibility – and using OUR tax money to do this.

We want EVERYONE, not just RBKC, to be open and honest with ALL investigations into this disaster; not just for our own sakes and our own peace of mind, but also to ensure that no one else has to suffer what we have endured since 14th June 2017 and will affect us for the rest of our lives.

They seem to have already forgiven themselves for the Grenfell disaster and want to spend £5 million to ensure they face no punishment. This is NOT justice and it is NOT what residents want. We need to remind them of their promises to be more open and honest.



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Information emerged last week via the North Kensington Community Engagement Team that police tested a fire door recovered from Grenfell Tower and it did not meet the fire resistance performance expected under building regulations guidance.

More information on this and the government’s response is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fire-safety-advice-unchanged-after-issue-identified-with-fire-door

More recently we learned that two more doors recovered from Grenfell have also failed the same test. Experts said the doors were supposed to resist fire for 30 minutes, but only lasted 15 minutes during testing. The test was part of a Met Police probe into the fire in West London in which 72 people died.

Natasha Elcock, a survivor from the tower and a representative of the bereaved and survivors’ group Grenfell United, said:

‘It’s shocking – first the cladding and insulation, then the doors. Who knows what else is putting people’s lives at risk? The government should have improved regulations after previous fires.’

On Wednesday evening, over a thousand local residents, supporters and youth took part in the ninth silent march through Kensington, beginning at the borough’s Town Hall. Zeyed Cred, march organiser, addressing the march, said that there were also silent marches in Bristol and Northern Ireland taking place at the same time.

He paid tribute to Grenfell United, Kids on the Green, Faisal at Grenfell Speaks and Justice4Grenfell for helping organise the march. Addressing the rally after the march, he said:

‘We need everyone to know that the voices of the survivors and relatives of the bereaved will never be silenced.’

Shahin Sadafi, chair of Grenfell United, told the rally:

‘This community is made up of the most resilient people I have met and we will make sure no stone is left unturned to get to the truth. We want everyone in social housing to be able to feel safe in their home.’

Earlier, as the march was assembling, Floyd Wilson told News Line:

‘I worked in Housing for Ealing Council, for their development team. I now live with my family in North Kensington. I am here because I am angry. I know first hand about fires, how you plan and design for fire safety. Clearly this was not done in the case of Grenfell Tower.

‘When I was working for Ealing there was a fire in the Golf Links estate. The fire consumed 105 flats. At the time it was recorded as the biggest post-war fire. Because of the safety measures that we put in the building, one person was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation and the lady whose flat the fire started in burned her arm trying to put it out.

‘Everyone else escaped without injury. That was 1986 – so what makes me angry now is that at Grenfell there was no desire to enforce health and safety fire legislation. For them it was always about money not people.’

Reproduced courtesy of Dear Kitty Blog


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THE FIGHT for justice for every single man, woman and child who died in the Grenfell Tower and their families and the survivors who are still languishing in hotels almost eight months after the tragic fire is now spreading across the nation.

For the first time, next Wednesday 14th February, Manchester and London will march in tandem, with a silent march in North Kensington, London, coordinated with a silent march through central Manchester.

Since the tragedy on 14 June, protesters have held monthly silent marches near the Kensington site and with each march the deep-rooted anger, at the council, the government and the Tenants Management Organisation (TMO), has increased. Every month, the numbers grow. Last month, there were thousands on the streets.

Hundreds of survivors from the tower and the surrounding buildings are still languishing in temporary accommodation, despite promises to fast-track them into new homes.

The march through Manchester will include a silent candlelit procession led by 71 people – each carrying a placard bearing the photo of someone who died. This will be followed by a minute’s silence and speeches in Piccadilly Gardens.

Kevin Allsop, who has organised the event for trades union association GMATUC, said: ‘We wanted to show our support to the people of Grenfell and hope that other cities will then pick up the baton and do something similar on the anniversary of the fire, on 14 June.’

Joe Delaney, a Grenfell survivor whose low-rise block is connected to the tower, will attend the march. He is still living in a hotel almost two miles away from home. According to Kensington and Chelsea Council, 248 households continue to reside in their homes on the Lancaster West Estate, of which the tower is part, while 66 households are in emergency hotel accommodation.

On the night of the fire Joe left his home without any belongings other than his two dogs, after spending hours helping to raise the alarm and evacuate neighbours.

It took four days of fighting with the local authority for him to be offered emergency accommodation – during which time he and his neighbour, who has a toddler, were forced to stay with one of his friends.

He said: ‘People have no trust in Kensington Borough Council. The police recovery teams are still working next to my flat and the council still hasn’t shown evidence that the building is fire-safe, eight months on.

‘This safety issue is bigger than Grenfell though. This is a national issue – there are blocks across the country with unsafe cladding still on, and where it has been removed residents are freezing.

‘The protections for tenants in this country are appalling and no matter which party is in government, little seems to change. Safety should not be seen as an undue burden. How dare they!’

The event begins at 6.15pm on 14 February at the junction of Market Street and Cross Street in central Manchester, while the silent march in North Kensington begins at 5.30pm outside Kensington Town Hall, Hornton St, Kensington, London W8 7NX.

Reposted courtesy of Dear Kitty blog;


If you haven’t already done so please sign the Grenfell Inquiry Petition which was refused by the Prime Minister on 22nd December last year;



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Residents of Grenfell Area To Pay Rent Again

Residents of the homes surrounding Grenfell Tower have been told they must pay rent, despite more than a fifth of them still living in hotels due to ongoing maintenance problems.

Hundreds of flats on the Lancaster West Estate that overlook the site of the tragedy were left without basic amenities after June’s fire destroyed centralised gas and water lines under the building.

Urgent repair work was undertaken on the Hurstway, Testerton, Barandon and Grenfell Walkways, but some residents have complained that they are living with intermittent hot water and central heating, eight months on from the fire that killed 71 people

At least 66 households have not moved back to the estate, while 248 residents are currently occupying flats.

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) officials said they recognised there had been “disruption to services” and outlined a “compensation” scheme for residents until April 2018.

The council noted problems with intercom systems, gas supplies and interruptions to heating and hot water.

An Executive Decision Report from the council also noted additional fire safety works had not yet been completed on the block and access to the estate remained limited.

“While residents are experiencing these levels of disruption, it is unreasonable to expect them to pay the full amount of rent and service charges without compensation of some kind,” it stated.

RBKC has proposed a 50 per cent reduction in rent and service charges for tenants of the walkways and a 50 per cent reduction in service charges for leaseholders.

Residents of nearby Bramley and Treadgold Houses and Verity Close will also receive a reduction of 15 per cent in rent and service charges for tenants and 15 per cent in service charges for leaseholders.

But Lancaster West Estate resident Joe Delaney, who is still living in a hotel eight months on from the fire, said the charges were not justified.

“RBKC are yet again demonstrating how out of touch they are,” he told The Independent.
In Pictures: Grenfell Tower after the fire

“People are still either living in a crime scene or stuck in hotels, yet RBKC believe that they can resume charges for services that residents are not benefiting from in buildings that are still unsafe and unfit for purpose.

“Perhaps if the heating, hot water and gas were working and, almost eight months since the Grenfell disaster, RBKC could prove to residents that the buildings were safe then some charge could be justified but the situation is the same today as it was the day after the fire.

“The tower hasn’t even been covered so people not only live in the shadow of a crime scene, they are also forced to view the charred remnants of a building in which their friends, family and neighbours horribly perished.”

Samia Badani, leader of Bramley House residents’ association, said a 15 per cent reduction did not reflect the ongoing “trauma” suffered by residents.

“It is clear we are not asking for rent to be withheld because of disrepair – the trauma we suffer compounded by the failure to be evacuated is not reflected in this 15 per cent,” she said. “We are asking for a gesture because we don’t have peaceful enjoyment of our homes.”

But deputy council leader Kim Taylor Smith said: “Following consultation, the 248 households living in their homes on the Lancaster West Estate will continue to receive compensation of up to 50 per cent on their rent and service charges in recognition of the disruption to some services.”

He added: “The reintroduction of rent and service charges for residents on the estate comes as the promised seven-month charge-free period comes to an end. Meanwhile, plans for a multimillion pound refurbishment plan, that is being decided by residents, is well underway.”

It comes after the organisation in charge of Grenfell Tower and its surrounding walkways was forced to hand back control of around 9,000 homes to RBKC after it admitted that it could “no longer guarantee that it can fulfil its obligations”.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation was stripped of its contract to maintain social housing following a vote of no confidence from all 25 residents’ associations earlier this year.



Lucy Pasha-Robinson @lucypasha
Wednesday 7 February 2018


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Notting Hill Housing and Genesis: Two Weddings And A Funeral

On 16th January shareholders of Notting Hill Housing and Genesis Housing Association voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger about which we recently blogged.

The voting figures for NHH were: 55 proxy votes (before the meeting) for the merger. At the meeting there were 20 votes for the merger and 12 against.

The voting figures for Genesis were: 49 votes for the merger, 1 against and 1 spoiled ballot.

THINK agree with many of their residents and believe this is a wrong decision on so many levels. We have very real concerns regarding both associations, their treatment of tenants and properties and their social cleansing “regeneration” activities.

Both the Listen NHH and the Genesis Residents fought and continue to fight a strong campaign for social housing and for residents’ rights. THINK salute these dedicated campaigners who put so much effort, passion and research into their excellent campaigns and have shared so much information with us.

Something that the Listen NHH campaigners informed THINK about some time ago was a Notting Hill Housing policy of selling off empty properties in higher priced areas like ours, rather than doing them up to re-let to their tenants.

The picture below is of an empty house owned by Notting Hill Housing at 69 Cornwall Crescent.  It is in North Kensington, less than five minutes from Grenfell Tower.

Perhaps Notting Hill Housing can explain just what they intend to do with this particular property?

When campaign group Listen NHH queried why this empty property was left in such a state NHH declared that it was being refurbished, but it remains empty to this day!

Maybe someone should check NHH’s friends at Savills or some other property auctions?

We thought that Notting Hill Housing (they dropped the “trust”) was a previously charitable and commendable organisation that bought properties at auction to refurbish them and give them to those in need – not do the reverse!

THINK joined the protests against the merger and we will continue to support further important campaigns to save our social housing.

The protests were well attended and even managed to be heard inside the meetings.

Notting Hill Housing are very good at blowing their own trumpet, so we thought they should listen to what some of their residents have to say. Here are just a few complaints we found posted online:

“Terrible at sorting repairs, the system is totally disorganised. They hardly ever return calls and have to be chased up constantly”

“Hold vendettas against tenants who fight for their rights. NHHT break tenure agreements and fail to repair homes”

“Really poor service. I have been trying to get in touch for the past 3 weeks and no one picks up the phone”

“Notting Hill Housing has made my family distressed for the past 7 years. They have treated us extremely badly, avoiding our needs. They show pure ignorance as well as Kensington and Chelsea. This Borough and this housing association are like the plague”

“They treat tenants like third class citizens”

“Sleep deprived since October 2015 due to neighbour above. I am a disabled tenant, deemed vulnerable. Two psychologists from two different hospitals wrote to my housing officer and her manager saying they were afraid for my mental wellbeing and suicidal thoughts. Notting Hill Housing Trust never replied to them. Yet they still win gold awards. I got in touch with CEO Kate Davies numerous times – NOTHING”

GOLD AWARDS? After these comments it appears NHH don’t even deserve a wooden spoon……

Housing, particularly in our part of London should be for all and we condemn those from some housing associations, local authorities and the Government whose intent appears to be to price people on low to average incomes out of London with schemes to replace social housing with “affordable”housing (80% of market rate) and simply cash in on property values.

We are proud to live in a mixed community that consists of people from all backgrounds, rich and poor, but we know that the wonderful diverse character of our area will change if social housing is continually pushed to the back of the agenda or even abandoned altogether.

(Reposted by kind permission of https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/ from their original post on January 17, 2018)


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On Tuesday 12th December, bereaved relatives handed in a 16,600-strong petition to 10 Downing Street demanding that an impartial and independent decision-making panel sits alongside the government appointed inquiry chair, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, in leading the Grenfell inquiry. According to the rules that apply to petitions of government 10,000 signatures are enough to elicit a response from the Prime Minister. Unfortunately that response, deliverd on 22nd December, the very eve of christmas, was a resounding and implaccable no to the demands of the Grenfell community.

This leaves us now in a position where we must do it the hard way. We must find 100,000 signatures by 30th May 2018, at which point parliament will consider debating the petition.

Since the petition was submitted to Downing Street it has continued to attract signatures at a regular but slow pace and is now approaching 27,000 signatures. We need the pace to quicken, which means we need to extend our reach to communities bloggers and community activists countrywide who have not yet heard about the petition.

We strongly believe that there are at least 100,000 people in the  UK who believe in our cause and would gladly sign our petition if they knew about it, so we are asking any followers of this blog to contact other blogs or activist groups, wherever they are in the UK, to help spread the word as widely as possible.

The link to the petition is above. Below is a downloadable A4 flyer which can be printed and spread community-wide.


Grenfell Petition poster A4

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