It is a sad fact that because of the socio-political demographic of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Conservative group is all but guaranteed a massive majority on the Council. For many years they have served continuously as the administration with a small and powerless Labour/Lib Dem opposition group to hold them to account. It is the Grenfell Action Group’s heartfelt believe that this has enabled the Conservative group to act with complete impunity and has made them arrogant, chauvinistic and self-serving.
The recent abuse of RBKC residents, and RBKC’s disregard for the truth, stand as evidence of how the Royal Borough has been able to self-justify burying the legitimate concerns of the Grenfell Tower community during the recent Improvement Works to the tower.
In January 2016 representatives from the Grenfell Tower Residents Association attended the RBKC Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee and made serious allegations against the Kensington and Chelsea TMO and their contractors Rydons. The Scrutiny Committee was informed of a recent survey conducted by the Grenfell Tower Residents Association which indicated that 90% of residents were dissatisfied with the way the TMO had conducted the Improvement Works and that 68% of residents believed they had been lied to, threatened, pressurised or harassed by the TMO. In addition, the Scrutiny Committee was informed that residents had serious concerns about the lack of resident consultation and engagement, the lack of response to legitimate complaints, too many examples of poor workmanship and site management and failure of the RBKC and the TMO to address residents requests for adequate compensation. 6 JANUARY 2016 RBKC Minutes
At that meeting of the Scrutiny Committee the residents were promised that a light would be shone on these complaints and that a Working Group would be set up to investigate our concerns. However, since that time no form of investigation has occured and the Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee seems determined to turn a blind eye to the abuse and ill-treatment of which we so bitterly complained.
The Press release (see below) from RBKC mentions none of the heartache experienced by residents and does not even mention the hardship and severe and continuous inconvenience that the local community had to endure for over three and a half years while the works were ongoing. Instead, the Council brazenly released a statement to the Press that covered up all our concerns and painted themselves as virtuous and caring.
Anyone who has lived through the nightmare of the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works will testify that neither the RBKC nor the TMO has a clue about either telling the truth or treating residents of social housing with even a modicum of respect. The Council and TMO could have learnt lessons from the mistakes they made during the Improvement Works but chose instead to favour a policy of lies and cover up:
North Kensington estate benefits from £10m tower refurbishment
North Kensington Tower Block transformed by £10m refurbishment
Both the RBKC press release and the ‘GetWestLondon’ article describe the project as ‘complex’ with all 120 flats occupied throughout. They also claim that the logistics had to be carefully managed to minimise disruption. However, what they don’t say is that Grenfell Tower is made of reinforced concrete, so the works involved massive disruption to all residents who were subjected to incessant dust and noise pollution from drilling, the constant clutter of public and private spaces and loss of access to the lifts. Many of the new domestic hot water units were also installed in the cramped entrance hallways of peoples homes instead of in the kitchens, as originally planned, making access to the apartments even more difficult, particularly when moving furniture in or out, and posing a risk of injury to children who could easily bump their heads on the sharp edges of the units.
The plain truth is that these works should never have been done without decanting tenants, including and especially the most vulnerable, for the periods during which the most disruptive parts of the works were carried out in their proximity. Both RBKC and the TMO were too cheap and uncaring to even consider temporary decants. They bragged about the £10m that was spent but made no mention of the nightmare that residents were forced to endure while their complaints and desperation were ignored with impunity. We condemn them for their calloused attitude and say – SHAME ON THEM!