It is a sad matter of fact that the most grotesque and brutal social apartheid is being inflicted on the residents of Lancaster West Estate by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the TMO and an assortment of their quislings, including the latest imposter on the block, the Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA). Those responsible for creating and perpetuating the notion of a forgotten estate on Lancaster West and pursuing an immoral strategy that oversees the managed decline of our community, our homes and our residential amenity should hang their heads in deep shame!
Despite great promises from the RBKC that the KAA project would enhance and improve our community the complete opposite has proven to be true as the KAA has made little or no attempt to engage with local Lancaster West Estate residents. It appears that the chief aim of the KAA is to raise as much external revenue as possible outside of school hours with little or no regard to how this may affect local people living right next to the Academy who will be directly impacted by the additional noise and light pollution generated by this extra curricular activity.
Consider the following advertising, published by the KAA management, which indicates a strong emphasis on maximising the commercial and profit-taking potential of the academy premises, rather than on its supposed primary function as an educational centre:
Kensington Aldridge Academy is a beautiful brand new building, with fantastic spaces to offer for hire, in the heart of vibrant and culturally rich West London. KAA boasts a large Auditorium, Classroom’s in abundance, Sports hall, Studio’s and plenty of Terrace spaces. We are sure you will love what KAA has to offer!
Our Art Terrace is set 3 floors up from ground level and at treetop height, provides a natures backdrop to any party or gathering. Interested in hiring our Dining Terrace? This space is perfect for a Wedding Reception, with a canopy already in place and enough space to accommodate additional marquee’s should you require it.
We are also keen to attract the local foodies as this space would be ideal for a farmers market with accompanying café area for dining.
Our facilities are available to hire from 6pm-10pm weeknights and from 9am – 6pm on weekends. Times can be varied for special events.
These are our worst fears come true, and we would consider this blatant and shameless profiteering to be a grossly inappropriate use of these particular school premises, which stand in such close proximity to a high concentration of social housing. However, it is little wonder that our estate is treated with such disdain by those with power at KAA, given that the likes of disgraced ex-Council Leader “Pooter” Cockell, and the ‘cash for honours’ jackal Rod Aldridge, are both sitting on the KAA Board of Governors. In the past, these individuals have proved themselves totally deaf and unresponsive to the legitimate concerns of the local community as the KAA project robbed us of our right to a quiet and peaceful tenancy, as well as our much loved and cherished green space and residential amenity.
In January 2015 members of the Grenfell Action Group put together a list of concerns along with a list of positive ideas that we wished to discuss with the KAA. These included ensuring that KAA is a London Living Wage employer and asking the KAA to ensure that jobs at the Academy are advertised around Lancaster West Estate. The Grenfell Action Group also asked the KAA how they intended to communicate with the residents of Lancaster West Estate and what community benefits the residents of our Estate might experience from the imposition of KAA.
We suggested that the KAA might like to help us find ways to identify academic talent within our local community and encourage and mentor any such individuals to gain the necessary qualifications to enable them to join the KAA staff as teachers or teaching assistants in the future. Finally we raised concerns about noise pollution from the roof-top MUGA and playground area.
Instead of taking these ideas on board and starting a dialogue with the Lancaster West community the management of Kensington Aldridge Academy chose instead to ignore our concerns, and their actions have done nothing but help reinforce the existing social apartheid and exclusion experienced by local residents.
We are extremely disappointed that, despite earlier promises, it appears that the KAA is currently still not a London Living Wage employer and appears to have no wish to enter into constructive and progressive dialogue or share any of their considerable resources with their immediate neighbours on Lancaster West, to whom they appear to be totally indifferent.
The Grenfell Action Group was informed in January this year that community relations would improve once the KAA had regularised their contact with their chosen so-called community representatives from the ill-conceived ‘West London Citizens’ and that things would have changed for the better by the end of September 2015. However, since January 2015 our community has heard nothing from either the KAA or ‘West London Citizens’ regarding the ideas we put to them, nor has there been any other attempt at outreach to engage with the local Lancaster West community. If you’re curious and would like additional background info on ‘West London Citizens’ you might like to check out some earlier blogs we posted about them;
Maybe now that Lancaster West Estate has a newly constituted Residents Association and the Grenfell Tower leaseholders, tenants and renters have also formed their own Residents Association the Kensington Aldridge Academy might try to do the right thing by starting a meaningful dialogue with these groups.
And pigs might fly.
If the KAA fails to engage with these local resident groups it will simply be more evidence that they are just another cog in the wheel of the so-called ‘regeneration’ (ie gentrification) of North Kensington that will continue to marginalise working class communities and will ultimately destroy existing social and family networks forever.
The Aldridge emphasis on exploiting the academy complex to maximise profits, by hiring it out as a party venue to all and sundry, bodes ill for the local community. We can only hope that the KAA management might still retain some modicum of empathy and some moral compass. How else can they be trusted to imbue their students with an appropriate sense of social justice and responsibility?
We must also hope that they have not fallen completely under the Machiavellian sway of their accomplices at RBKC who have always treated Lancaster West with utter contempt and ensured that our estate experiences a cruel and heartless social apartheid that has resulted in mass disempowerment and exclusion, social housing stock reduced to a veritable slum, and our residential amenity and green space cynically destroyed.
However, based on the behaviour to date of the KAA management, it would seem most doubtful that we can realistically expect the hopes we have expressed to be realised in any meaningful way.