Our campaign in pursuit of answers, and of course compensation, for residents of Grenfell Tower impacted by the recent electrical supply problems appears to have achieved very little. Indeed, the leadership of the Grenfell Leasholders Association felt impelled to write again on16th June in yet another desperate plea to Cllr Blakeman begging for her intervention on the various issues affecting Grenfell Tower. To her credit Blakeman promptly launched a very strongly worded  email – an exocet in effect – aimed at TMO Chief Executive Robert Black, RBKC Director of Housing Laura Johnson, and the new Cabinet Member for Housing and Property Rock Feilding-Mellen. We reproduce this in full below:

“I am writing to focus objectively on some of the very valid matters raised by Mr. Awoderu, on behalf of the Grenfell Leaseholders’ Association.

The matters raised with respect to the loss of the water supply, the problems with the defects in the communal heating and hot water system, the lift malfunctions and the electricity spikes all require an early response and swift remedial action.

The replies given to date have been less than satisfactory, as has been pointed out by Cllr Tony Holt, Mr. O’Connor, the Leaseholders’ Association and myself on behalf of the ward councillors. Cllr. Holt, for example, points out that electrical spikes are usually caused by an irregularity in the system, such as a sudden change in load or malfunction of a circuit-breaker. Although Leadbitter say that their site is served from a different source, this will very likely be connected to the Grenfell Tower feeder not far away, so a methodical analysis of the various factors is required, plus monitoring of the supply non-stop, which only the electricity supplier can do.

The other problems with the heating and hot water system and drinking water are long-standing and have been drawn to the attention of the Council and the TMO over many years.

I do not understand the reasoning behind the suggestion that residents should first contact their home insurance company about any damaged electrical equipment. The damage has been caused through no fault of the residents and therefore all claims should be lodged with the TMO. The small number of residents who can afford home insurance would no doubt lose any no claims bonuses if their own insurers are required to make good these losses. Can you therefore please provide residents with the details of the TMO insurers to whom they shall submit their claims? As Mr. Awoderu points out, it has been a month since residents lost essential daily appliances that are yet to be replaced.

Mr. Awoderu also refers to the need for a robust response from the “appointed managing agents”. You are all well aware that the Lancaster West Estate Management Board has not been functioning since December 2012. I have referred this to the Council, since the Council itself manages the contract with the EMB. The absence of tenant management and oversight at Lancaster West has gone on for long enough and means that residents of the Estate do not have recourse to local advocacy on their behalf. I have already asked the Council to address this and it should now be prioritised.

Again, I have already asked the Council to provide the residents of Grenfell Tower with a comprehensive explanation as to why the Grenfell Tower regeneration project has been delayed. There is a meeting this evening to which the ward councillors were not invited. As none of us is able to attend at such short notice, we will expect a full report on the reasons for the delay to the project to be shared with residents and with ourselves. As I also already stated, residents are extremely sceptical that it will ever now be realised.

Finally, Mr. Awoderu states that I “as our local Councillor, with your team, bear heavy responsibility towards the residents of Grenfell Tower first and foremost in dealing with difficulties the residents are facing right now”. He is correct that the ward councillors must be responsive to the needs of Grenfell Tower residents – but to do so, we depend on the TMO and the Council being competent to take effective action to deal with all the problems as and when they emerge – not several days or weeks later.

We also expect remedial action to be effective and sustainable, not for the same or similar problems to re-emerge several months down the line. Thus far this has not happened. Many of these problems have now escalated to the point where residents’ health and safety is in danger of being compromised, so the long-standing contention that there is no funding to address these problems is now neither valid or acceptable.

Finally, can someone please explain why the ward councillors were not given the courtesy of being informed that Mr. Chiles had left Leadbitter and provided with the contact details of his successor?

We look forward to an early reply.

Cllr. Judith Blakeman, on behalf of the Notting Barns Ward councillors”

We were tempted to publish this as soon as we saw it , but decided to hold off for a few days to see what kind of response Cllr Blakeman received. We have now heard from her and can reveal that the Grenfell Tower issues have been referred to the RBKC Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee. This is all very well, and we welcome the referral, but unfortunately this committee is not due to meet until 11th July.

Meanwhile Grenfell Tower residents have still not been told what caused the near disastrous power surge problems in May and, apart from a small few who received emergency payments, are no closer to receiving compensation that might enable them to replace the many electrical appliances that were destroyed.

In closing, may we suggest that our readers might like to read, for what it’s worth, the Freedom Of Information Statement on the TMO website, which claims that:

“The TMO is committed to being open and to providing information to the general public”


(PS. Let’s hope Blakeman can continue to justify her star billing as the Warrior Queen)

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