Public Space v Private Education!


North Kensington library photographed celebrating it’s 125th birthday on 19th October 2016.

The Grenfell Action Group have long believed that the RBKC plan to build a new municipal centre on Lancaster Road to house a new library and youth centre has nothing to do with providing local residents with a “bigger and better library” or improved services for local young people.  We believe that the Council’s disposal of our much loved library building is almost entirely motivated by a perverse desire to facilitate the expansion of the Notting Hill Prep School in an act of unparalleled brown-nosing.

The Grenfell Action Group have been, and will continue, campaigning long and hard to expose what we believe is a private business deal between RBKC and the Notting Hill Prep School that was carried out without any proper public consultation, without an open tendering process and without the opportunity of any independent scrutiny.

The Grenfell Action Group believe that the Council’s actions to dispose of our library are motivated by a desire to make up for the Notting Hill Prep School losing out to their private educational rivals, Chepstow House, in the bidding war for the Issac Newton Centre in 2014 that so upset a great number of the Notting Hill Prep School’s backers who thought that they had that deal in the bag. This incident was rather comically known locally as the “Prep School Wars” and nearly resulted in the parents of the exclusive school threatening to run an independent candidate against the Tories in the upcoming 2015 elections in Norland Ward. A few words of assurance from RBKC to Notting Hill Prep about the future of North Kensington library is reputed to have put an end to that threat!

The Grenfell Action Group have recently been alerted to the fact that the RBKC’s desire to facilitate the spread of private education in North Kensington may not be confined to the disposal of the aforementioned public assets. It has come to our attention that the Council’s recent survey of local residents concerning the North Kensington Memorial Park may be motivated by an intention to further feather the nest of Notting Hill Prep School and Chepstow House by providing their pupils with sports and play facilities in the form of AstroTurf football pitches. It’s interesting to note at this juncture that Sky News reported this weekend on research commissioned by Ofsted which revealed that private schools have better facilities and a stronger emphasis on sport and P.E. than state schools, which struggle these days to afford such provision, and that this lack of emphasis on competitive sport can have a detrimental effect on the academic performance of the pupils concerned.

It is strange that those residents living in close proximity to the Memorial Park have not been provided with hard copies of the survey while those living in more affluent areas of the borough have. It would be no surprise to us if the parents of local privately educated children had also been encouraged to fill out the online survey and demand an increase in the size of artificial play areas.

It is a fact that pupils from Notting Hill Prep School are currently using the Memorial Park for outside sports and are forced at present to occupy the undersized tennis court area. No doubt the provision of more private facilities , unaffordable to the local working class population and available for future block-booking by private education providers, would secure the space they desire so that their children could play away from the toxic fumes of the Westway motorway.

As we have always stated the Grenfell Action Group believe that the process concerning the loss of our library building stinks to high heaven and is nothing other than a private business deal between those with vested interests at RBKC and the Notting Hill Prep School. We believe that the actions of the Council and the Prep School will cause them huge reputational damage and we will do all in our power to expose this immoral scam!

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