Despite the best efforts of the TMO and the warped thinking of their Resident Engagement Team, the newly formed residents group “Grenfell Community Unite” goes from strength to strength with new members joining all the time.
This blog will deliver an update on what has been happening recently to the tenants, leaseholders and renters in Grenfell Tower and how we are still being denied a “collective voice” and having our legitimate concerns ignored by those with power at RBKC and our highly abusive landlord, the TMO.
On 17/03/15 up to 100 Grenfell Tower residents met in the Community Rooms for an “Emergency Meeting” to discuss our concerns regarding the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works.
On 26/03/15 representatives from over 20 households in Grenfell Tower met and agreed to form “Grenfell Community Unite” as a collective voice for residents’ concerns.
On 06/04/15 “Grenfell Communty Unite” wrote to TMO/Rydon to request a Public Meeting with Grenfell Tower tenants, leaseholders and renters to discuss our concerns.
On 08/04/15 the TMO Resident Engagement Team made it clear that they would not support collective “resident engagement” in Grenfell Tower despite an earlier assurance from September 2014 that residents would be allowed to form a group to represent our concerns (see below email from Janet Edwards):
CC: TComplaints@kctmo.org.uk; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Resident representation.
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:33:09 +0000
I would confirm that the TMO has no objection to the tenants and leaseholders of Grenfell Tower forming a Grenfell Tower Improvement Works Resident Group, and I would advise that this Group will be consulted by the TMO on matters relating to the Grenfell Tower building works. Indeed, the TMO has no objection to any residents wishing to form a resident group for purposes of consultation.
I would also confirm that we are still working with the Lancaster West RA which represents all residents on the Lancaster West estate.
Head of Resident Engagement
Despite this we received On 17th April the email below from the TMO contradicting the earlier agreement to acknowledge our right to form a collective and refusing to meet with us to discuss our common concerns:
From: Claire Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for your email of 6 April; that included the minutes of a meeting held by residents on 17 March 2015.
In your email you have raised a number of points which I have addressed below. Firstly you have raised the lack of consultation from TMO/Rydon. To clarify, there have been a number of communication channels used by the TMO and Rydon’s since works began on site. This includes:
· Face to face communication
· Individual letters hand delivered
· Monthly newsletters
· Posters placed near lifts and noticeboards
· Formal meetings held in the early evening
· Drop in sessions (morning, afternoon and early evening) at 145 Grenfell Tower and the walkway entrance
· Door knocking to notify of specific event(s)
· Home visits and surveys
· Individual consultation with residents prior to works beginning in their flats
· Bulk text messaging
· The TMO are also due to offer resident surgeries by appointment, starting in May
As background information, I note that the TMO did a consultation survey over December 2013/January 2014 to review the consultation strategy. Over 50% of households attended the drop- in session so this gave a reasonable picture of preferences. Overall most people preferred individual newsletters, letters, notices etc rather than public meetings.
In terms of a public meeting you are proposing, the main topic seems to be over the location of the HIU (heat interface units) within the flats. The TMO takes the view that every resident will have a particular layout within their home and have different needs based on their circumstances. Therefore individual household discussion is more appropriate. On this basis the consultation by Rydon is addressing specific issues and looking at how they can be accommodated.
The TMO had issued an FAQ on heating and hot water that many residents have been given/picked up at our drop in sessions, so this could be perhaps rolled out more widely if there are new issues arising. It may be that if you have identified further questions that these could be included, and then put into a larger ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQ) format, for putting on the TMO website, under the Grenfell banner. I will be looking to do this anyway in the light of your comments, but please let me know if you have a list of questions that you feel have not been covered previously.
You raise concerns regarding standard of works in communal lobbies and inside individual flats. All residents have been informed that the works currently undertaken are not the finished article, as boxing is yet to be fitted to conceal pipework. Once the works have been tested/commissioned to ensure there are no leaks or any other issues, boxing and decoration will then be completed. I am aware that some literature from the resident group has been misleading on this, as incomplete works have been portrayed as being finished. I would expect this to be rectified in any future communications.
The TMO employ a mechanical and electrical consultant who is responsible for the specification of works and who carries out monthly inspections. We also have two clerks of works who regularly inspect the quality of works and address health and safety concerns on site. Please see the February 2015 newsletter for their details.
In regards to the use of lifts, Rydon workers are not allowed to use the lift during peak hours, ie school drop off and pick up times each day. They are also due to use only the ‘protected’ lift for materials. If residents find this is not being adhered to, they can either ring/email myself or contact the Rydon RLO. All the Rydon workers have vests with a number on it, so any infringement should include the details the worker involved. I have been made aware of one incident where a resident complained over lift use, and this has been formally taken up with Rydon.
In your email you ask whether the TMO would acknowledge the Grenfell Community Unite group as a representative voice of leaseholders and tenants. I am advised that this group will not be recognised by the TMO, as there is a Residents Association already in existence.
The TMO are currently working with the existing Lancaster West Residents Association, and are currently making arrangements with them to hold an AGM. There was communication with Mr ***** in early 2014 relating to forming an alternative residents’ group.
I note that the TMO have no formal relationship with leaseholders’ tenants.
The TMO has been engaging with residents to understand their specific requirements since 2012, and inevitably some issues change and move from the original feasibility that was first shown to the final scheme which is on site now. Rydon have now been on site for nearly 10 months and are building up more knowledge and understanding of residents’ requirements. The TMO and Rydon will continue to work with residents to meet their individual needs.
On this basis, I would like to offer Mr ***** a chance to meet Rydon to discuss the layout of his flat and the heating and hot water layout. If this is of interest, then can a couple of dates within the working week be proposed?
Please let me know if you have a list of questions relating to the works that you would want responded to in the newsletter or on the TMO website.
THE ABOVE RESPONSE FROM CLAIRE WILLIAMS TREATS THE RESIDENTS OF GRENFELL TOWER WITH COMPLETE CONTEMPT. ‘GRENFELL COMMUNITY UNITE’ HAVE GENUINE CONCERNS REGARDING THE QUALITY OF WORKS BEING DELIVERED BY RYDON AND DEMAND THE RIGHT TO COMMUNICATE OUR CONCERNS COLLECTIVELY.
MS WILLIAMS REFERS TO AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TMO AND THE LANCASTER WEST RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION, WHICH SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENTS ALL RESIDENTS OF THIS ESTATE. HOWEVER, THERE IS GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE ‘RA’ REPRESENTS VERY FEW (IF ANY) LOCAL RESIDENTS, THAT IT HAS BECOME SEVERELY DYSFUNCTIONAL, AND MAY HAVE COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATED (JUST AS AS THE EMB DID BEFORE THE TMO DECIDED TO DISSOLVE, RATHER THAN REFORM IT).
IF THIS IS THE CASE THEN WE ARE FACED WITH ANOTHER CLASSIC CASE OF DIVIDE AND RULE IN WHICH THE TMO IS USING ITS DISPROPORTIONATE POWER TO ISOLATE INDIVIDUAL HOUSEHOLDS, IN ORDER TO BULLY OR MANIPULATE THEM INTO AQUIESCENCING WITH THE TMO’S OWN AUTHORITARIAN AGENDA.
HOW IRONIC THAT THIS IS SUPPOSEDLY A ‘TENANT MANAGEMENT ORGANISATION’, THE POINT OF WHICH SHOULD BE TO EMPOWER RESIDENTS AND FACILITATE THEIR PARTICIPATION IN THE HOUSING MANGEMENT DECISIONS WHICH AFFECT THEM. WHAT A BAD JOKE THAT HAS TURNED OUT TO BE!
SHAME ON THOSE WHO WOULD DENY OUR COMMUNITY THE BASIC RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE REPRESENTATION!
(Respect to Sweets Way for the idea of resistance through the sowing of seeds!)