THE GRENFELL ACTION GROUP BELIEVES THAT THE ROYAL BOROUGH OF KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA COUNCIL’S DECISION TO SERVE A “BREACH NOTICE” ON THE ESTATE MANAGEMENT BOARD (EMB) IS UNJUST, UNREASONABLE AND HIGHLY UNDEMOCRATIC.
WE BELIEVE THAT THE COUNCIL NEEDS TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY COLLUDED WITH THE EMB IN COVERING UP ITS’ SERIOUS FAILINGS OF RECENT YEARS AND WHY THE COUNCIL FAILED TO NOTIFY THE WIDER COMMUNITY OF THE SERIOUSNESS OF THIS CRISIS, OR SEEK TO ENGAGE EITHER THE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OR THE WIDER COMMUNITY IN THE SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION, WHEN THE EMB HAD CLEARLY AND DELIBERATELY DECLINED TO DO SO AND WAS CLEARLY OPERATING INCOMPETENTLY AND BEYOND ITS AUTHORITY.
WE WROTE RECENTLY TO MR ROGER KEANE, A SENIOR OFFICER AT RBKC COUNCIL, AND ASKED HIM TO EXPLAIN HOW OUR COMMUNITY CAN APPEAL THE COUNCIL’S DECISION TO CLOSE DOWN THE EMB:
Dear Mr Keane,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Grenfell Action Group following receipt of the Breach Notice that RBKC Council have decided to serve on the Lancaster West EMB.
Please can you inform us how our community can appeal the Breach Notice and the decision to remove the democratic voice of residents on Lancaster West Estate?
We believe that one of the reasons for the decline of the EMB was the fact that the RBKC Council did not act in the best interests of the EMB after they had been warned of irregular conduct by the Chair of the EMB, Mr Bob Bryans.
We believe that members of the RBKC Council including Councillor Blakeman and Laura Johnson (Director of Housing) all acted to keep Bob Bryans in post and that this inappropriate support for Mr Bryans ultimately played a part in the demise of the EMB. We would not like to speculate whether this support for Mr Bryans was done with explicit intention of helping to bring down the EMB as we do not have this evidence. What we do know is that RBKC Councillors and their Officers failed to come to the assistance of the residents of Lancaster West Estate and it’s EMB members after the initial and persistent allegations of misuse of EMB resources were made against Mr Bryans.
However, it would be wrong to lay all the blame for the demise of the EMB at the feet of Bob Bryans and the support the ex-Chair of the EMB received from the RBKC Council for propping up a “puppet” Estate Management Board.
It is our believe that the RBKC Council did not act in a democratic fashion and, instead, acted against the best interest of residents when they were made aware of the fact that the EMB was completely dysfunctional and had completely lost it’s moral compass.
It is well documented that both the EMB and RBKC Council deliberately withheld all information about the EMB’s internal problems and parlous condition, including the Bryans issue, from the members of the Management Association and from the wider Lancaster West community for at least two years. We believe that Councillor Blakeman, Laura Johnson (Director of Housing) and yourself, Mr Keane, were fully aware of this cover up and colluded with it. The RBKC Council’s failure to insist and ensure that the Lancaster West Management Association and the wider Lancaster West community were fully informed of the crisis besetting the EMB was ultimately what set the EMB up to fail and led inevitably to it’s collapse.
We would request that you consider the matters we have raised and re-consider the RBKC Council’s decision to close down the EMB. If not, please can you inform the Grenfell Action Group about our rights to challenge the Councils decision to remove our community’s democratic voice and how we can appeal the Council’s decision to eradicate the EMB?
Grenfell Action Group.
Subject: RE: Appeal of LWEMB Breach Notice
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2014
We believe that the EMB Board were given sufficient time and support to address the issues we outlined in the Breach Notice and the preceding Warning Notice. The Board did not demonstrate that they had taken sufficient measures for the breach to be remedied in accordance to the Modular Management Agreement (MMA) we have with them. The MMA does not provide any further opportunities for the Board to remedy the breach, and therefore the agreement we have with them will come to an end on the 31st May 2014.The EMB will have to wait 24 months from the date of the end of this agreement, before it can apply to exercise its management function.
Roger Keane – General Needs Housing Commissioner
Date: 21 March 2014
Subject: RE: Appeal of LWEMB Breach Notice
Dear Mr Keane,
Although I no longer live at Lancaster West, having been forced to abandon my tenancy to escape the effects of the KALC construction works on my already poor health, I feel compelled to challenge the content of your reply to my friend and colleague in the Grenfell Action Group.
Firstly I would remind you that the management agreement in question, which has never been honoured by RBKC, is between the Lancaster West Management Association (not the EMB) and the Council. The EMB is supposed to be accountable to the Management Association and the wider Lancaster West community for its actions, and has a duty to keep the Management Association, and the wider Lancaster West community, informed about and involved in its affairs. This duty is especially pertinent when EMB members are found to have compromised the EMB and brought it into disrepute by dishonest, dishonorable or fraudulant behaviour in office.
I am sure you are aware that it was I who raised the complaints against Mr Bryans, firstly with Councillor Blakeman, and subsequently with successive TMO Area Mangers and with the Director of Housing at RBKC. I also provided the evidence that proved Mr Bryans guilt. I had great difficulty persuading any of the above to act on my complaints and had to persist stubbornly for at least a year and a half before you were eventually tasked with investigating the Bryans affair.
You were present at the EMB meeting in October 2012 to report the findings of your investigation. On that occasion you witnessed the vote of the EMB to take no punitive action against Mr Bryans and to withold all information about these events from the Management Association. It must have become clear to you at this point, and more importantly to the Director of Housing, with whom I had regularly corresponded on these issues, that the EMB had become a law unto itself and was acting, deliberately and cynically, against the best interests of the Management Association and the wider Lancaster West community.
By December 2012 the EMB had become so completely dysfunctional and was so completely isolated from the Management Association and the wider community that it had effectively disintegrated. It was only at this point, despite repeated earlier pleas and warnings from myself, that the Director of Housing saw fit to “intervene”.
It seems more than clear to me that this “intervention” was designed, not to support the EMB or the Management Association (which had not even been informed that there was a crisis), but to deliver the coup-de-grace, which is what RBKC and the TMO had connived at all along. During the crisis the Management Association was at no stage informed, involved or empowered to act by either the EMB or by RBKC.
I am sorry to say that your reply to my colleague appears therefore to be no more than a shabby attempt to justify the indefensible.
In closing I would add that it is utter hypocrisy for a Council officer such as yourself to quote the letter of the Management Agreement as justification for ending the agreement when the Council has never honoured the letter of the Agreement signed in 1993, which appointed the Lancaster West Management Association as the Council’s managing agents for Lancaster West Estate. The LWMA has never been permitted by the Council to exercise the powers or management functions granted in that agreement.