Back in early April 2016 the Grenfell Action Group contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office after the Royal Bourogh of Kensington and Chelsea Council refused to disclose the confidential reports and financial information regarding the lease of the North Kensington Library and the Westway Information Centre to Notting Hill Prep School.
Last week we learned that the Information Commissioner has been in contact with RBKC and has asked them to provide copies of the withheld information and to put forward their arguments in favour of not providing the requested information under Regulation 12 (5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (the EIR).
We fully expect the Information Commissioner to find in the Grenfell Action Group’s favour and that, in due course, we will learn more about how the Council have gone about handing over our much loved and prized community assets to their friends in private education. One has to question how the Council continue to hide behind environmental legislation in denying our community the information we seek when, every time we appeal to the Information Commissioner, their Office find in favour of formal diclousre and against the decision to withhold made by Ms Leverne Parker, the Chief Monitoring Officer at RBKC?
We can remind ourselves, also, that the gifting of the North Kensington Library and the Westway Information Centre to the Notting Hill Prep School has been overseen by Cllr Feilding Mellen who, we believe, has a conflict of interest in this matter by virtue of having his children’s names “put down” to attend the exclusive and Notting Hill Prep School. Every reason in the world to ingratiate himself with the local elite by transferring public assets to the private educational sector.
The Grenfell Action Group have long wondered who made the initial approach with regards the leasing of the North Kensington Library and whether it was the Prep School that contacted the RBKC and approached them about taking over the library or visa versa? We have now obtained the answer to this question via a trusted source in an authoritative position at the Notting Hill Prep School that it was the Council who made the original advance and suggested to the school that the library would be available to lease.
We are shocked, but not surprised, by this revelation but we do believe that it shows that the loss of our public space is nothing other than the result of a PRIVATE BUSINESS DEAL between the RBKC and their friends at the Notting Hill Prep School. What business do a Local Authority have to approach a private school and OFFER them our public assets? The fact that no other local community groups or businesses where invited to take part in the bidding for the lease of North Kensington Library building is most discriminatory and, we are informed, can be challenged in the Courts.
The Grenfell Action Group have confidence that the RBKC will be held to account over their handling of the library and that their failure to offer an open tendering process to obtain the highest bidder and the subsequent lack of scrutiny into this matter will be exposed. The Grenfell Action Group have recently been contacted by a number of journalists from national newspapers and journals who are interested in Cllr Feilding Mellen’s alleged “conflict of interest” in handing our library and the Westway Information Centre over to Notting Hill Prep School. We have supplied these news sources with the evidence that we possess and are keeping our fingers crossed that the day of reckoning for Cllr Feilding Mellen, RBKC and their friends at Notting Hill Prep School is fast approaching!