Smoke and mirrors. RBKC and NHPS.

002.JPGThe full horror of the RBKC’s decision to wrench the much loved North Kensington Library from the local community has now been realised with the publication of an artist’s impression of the proposed new municipal centre in Lancaster Road (see photo above).

Not only are the Council happy to throw us out of our beautiful existing library building into an unattractive, soulless “multi-plex”, but they are also planning to house the new library in a building that will be primarily constructed to help facilitate the spread of private education in North Kensington. To add insult to injury, this plan, hatched by RBKC, will be financed solely with the use of public money.

It looks like the private business deal between Cllr Feilding Mellen and the Notting Hill Prep School will see public funds (in the form of our Council Tax) being used to fund the construction of two floors of classroom space that will then be rented out exclusively to either the Notting Hill Prep School or their rivals in private education and occupiers of the Issac Newton Centre, Chepstow House.

The Grenfell Action Group understand that the ground and first floor of the new municipal building will be home to the new library and new youth centre and that the third and fourth floor, along with a roof-top MUGA (multi use games area), will be hired out to private education providers with no chance for the community to occupy this space.

There has been no public consultation on this matter and no chance for the community to challenge Cllr Feilding Mellen’s ability to make decisions concerning the handing of North Kensington’s public assets to the Notting Hill Prep School. Crucially, there is also a direct conflict of interest at stake on the part of Cllr Fielding Mellen, given that his children are set to attend this exclusive prep school.

Even for an outsider, it is not hard to see that the advancement of the Notting Hill Prep School business model (that has also recently secured the use of the old Westway Information Centre) and its continuing land grab around Ladbroke Grove is only possible because it is backed and supported by RBKC Councillors who use OUR public money to further their own self-interest.

It is legitimate to question why Notting Hill Prep School can’t find their own land to build on and find their own finances to pay for their rabid expansion ambitions? Why should precious public space in North Kensington just be given up and handed over to private education? Why should the taxes of the working class community in North Kensington be used to pay for the construction of class room space that has already been earmarked for an exclusive, profit making, prep school’s use?

These are questions that RBKC has remained silent on. But they are also the questions that must be answered for any project of this sort to have any form of public legitimacy. As things stand however, that legitimacy is nowhere to be seen, which once again goes to show how far RBKC has come in prioritising private interests over the public interest of the community it is supposed to protect and serve.

The Grenfell Action Group will continue to expose this immoral use of public funds and demand that the whole of the new municipal building is free from private education and open to free community use.

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