KCTMO Versus Freedom of Information Act

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According to the KCTMO Mission Statement, published on their website, they are committed to being open and accountable for all they do. However, there’s a world of difference between what they say and what they do, as demonstrated below.

In December 2014 the Grenfell Action Group wrote to the TMO requesting information under Freedom of Information legislation. Specifically, we requested copies of minutes of the monthly meetings between the TMO, their contractor, Rydon, and the project’s architect, Studio E. at which the progress of the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works were discussed.

This legitimate request for information was refused by Ms Fola Kadiyfa, the company secretary of the TMO who claimed that this information;

“… is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it is not information held on behalf of a public authority or by the TMO on behalf of a public authority. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 relates to information held on behalf of public authorities.”

It seems that, at present, neither the RBKC nor the TMO are willing to allow proper scrutiny of how nearly £10 million of public money is being spent and we believe that the TMO’s refusal to allow us proper examination of the finances and progress of the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works is evidence that they do not take seriously their stated commitment to openness and transparency, and prefer to keep potentially embarrassing information, or evidence of their negligence and incompetence, under wraps by whatever means they deem necessary.

Ever since the original contractor, Leadbitters, decided to decline, seemingly on cost grounds, the offer to undertake the Improvement Works, residents of Grenfell Tower have been kept completely in the dark about the consequences of this decision. We have not been consulted and, as a result, residents have no idea how the subsequent decision to appoint Rydons as the contractors, or to place the boilers in our entrance hallways, was reached.

We also have serious concerns that the TMO may have wasted a large amount of public money on employing a company called Max Fordham to undertake a feasibility study that was subsequently ignored. We know that the TMO spent nearly £1 million (approx 1/10 of the total project budget) on surveys and other sundries before they finally decided that Rydon would get the contract and we wish to examine how this money was spent.

We do not trust the RBKC Housing Scrutiny Committee at Hornton Street to assist us with this task as it is a well known fact that a large proportion of it’s members have nothing but contempt for the residents of Grenfell Tower and that the RBKC have a long history and a tainted reputation of colluding with the TMO.

As is our right under the legislation we have recently written to the TMO requesting a review of the decision to withold these documents, and arguing that;

“The purpose of the TMO is to manage Council owned housing stock on behalf of the Royal Borough Of Kensington and Chelsea that is, itself, a public authority. It therefore stands to reason that the information that we have requested, is held on behalf of the local authority and is subject to Freedom of Information legislation”.

As soon as we receive a further response from the TMO we will update our readers and, hopefully, will be in a better position to shine some light on these shenanigans. In the meantime, we invite our readers to consider what information the TMO might be trying to hide in their refusal to allow access to the basic facts concerning how the supposed Grenfell Tower “Improvement Works” are progressing, and whether tax payers money is being squandered with apparent impunity.

Readers might also like to see evidence of the rank hypocrisy of the FoI refusal statement issued by Fola Kafidya which is directly contradicted by documentation freely available from the KCTMO website showing that the TMO has acknowledged for years that it is indeed subject to the Freedom of Information Act, contrary to Ms Kafadya’s recent denial of this fact. You can read a short policy statement on their website via this link;

http://www.kctmo.org.uk/sub/publications/75/freedom-of-information-act-and-data-protection

You can also download the full text of the TMO Freedom of Information policy from the following link;

http://www.kctmo.org.uk/files/133435_freedom_of_information_publication_scheme.pdf

It is worth noting that the TMO’s Freedom of Information policy was first published in January 2005 and was subsequently reviewed in April 2009 and again in April 2013. The claim by Ms Kafidya, therefore, that the TMO is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, has no historical foundation and, based on the TMO’s longstanding acknowledgement and acceptance that it is indeed subject to the Act, has no validity.

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