Some time after the erection of the KALC site fencing late in 2012 – the ‘Berlin Wall’ as we like to call it – we became aware that the KALC site included a small area of green space, behind the site office complex, and immediately adjacent to Grenfell Tower, which was not immediately needed for construction work. Over succeeding months this little area became neglected and overgrown and it became obvious to us that it would not be developed until the very end of the KALC project when the contractors finally turned their attention to the landscaping of the so-called public realm. We therefore wrote to the Director of Housing at RBKC to ask if this little piece of precious green space could be returned to the community in the interim, as it was badly needed as amenity space.
We could hardly believe our eyes when we read the response to this query issued on Friday 4th April by Amanda Johnson (Head of Housing Commissioning) on behalf of the Rotten Borough.
“With regard to the grassed area at the rear of the huts the Council discussed with BYUK how feasible it would be to return it to use whilst Kensington Academy was under construction. The contractor advised the Council that there would be a cost attached to removing and realigning the hoarding as a temporary measure and it would be short term as it sits within the areas that are to be redeveloped either as part of the KALC project or refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and its surrounds. It was therefore decided that it was not feasible to spend time and money on returning a small grass area which at best would be large enough as a dog toilet and at worst a dumping ground for rubbish. There is also no capacity within the KALC budget to facilitate works of this nature or any desire to introduce this sort of amenity into the area.”
Ms Johnson’s email is particularly revealing in that it makes no reference whatever to the essential nature of the amenity space/green space lost completely by the residents of Grenfell Tower as a direct consequence of the imposition of the inpenetrable barrier of the KALC site fencing so close to the base of Grenfell Tower. Indeed she is clearly utterly unsympathetic to the very notion of returning any such space, even temporarily, to the community. Her pointed references to the alleged prohibitive cost of such a plan and the possible use of this space (in her eyes) as either a dog toilet or a dumping ground is therefore very revealing and seems to betray an attitude of utter indifference, if not active and intense antipathy, hostility and intolerance, to the needs of the residents of this area.
Reading between the lines of her response this writer cannot help but be reminded that, at the time of the Rwandan catastrophe, the genocidal Hutus referred to their Tutsi victims as cockroaches, and that the Nazi’s, in their propaganda, had earlier described their Jewish victims as rats.
Is it possible that our Masters at Hornton Street, and the officers they employ, might hold similar views of the poor and disadvantaged who inhabit the northern ghettoes of this most rotten of boroughs?