Members of the Grenfell Action Group offer our whole hearted support to members of the local community who have set up a Save Wornington College campaign in an attempt to save this vital North Kensington educational establishment. We urge our readers to sign the change.org petition calling on the Council to reverse their decision to turn this much loved institution into more unafforadble housing and preserve it’s educational use.
The Grenfell Action Group believe that the RBKC have not acted in an appropriate manner with their acquisition of the Wornington Road site and we wish to challenge the Council’s motives for spending £25 million of Council Tax payers money on the freehold of Wornington College without consulting or informing any of the public about their decision to do so. It is our understanding that not even our local Labour Group Councillors were informed of the Ruling Party’s decision, taken by RBKC’s Cabinet in April 2016, to go ahead with the purchase of the aforementioned freehold!
The Grenfell Action Group also have serious concerns relating to the role that a senior Council Officer called Tony Redpath may have played in helping RBKC secure the freehold of the Wornington College site. Mr Redpath is both the Royal Borough’s Director of Strategy and Local Services and, for some inexplicable reason, sits on the Board of Governance of Wornington College.
The Grenfell Action Group simply cannot understand why an employee of RBKC should be involved in the day to day running of a local independent educational establishment (unless, of course, he was sent there with a rather sinister mission by the Council). We have sent a Freedom of Information request to RBKC that we hope will reveal the extent of Mr Redpath’s involvement in the purchase of the freehold of the College building while, at the same time, sitting as a KCC Board member of the College with the potential to influence the sensitive decision to sell the aforementioned freehold. This would be most irregular and we believe could possibly constitute a direct and serious conflict of interest!
We have written to the Town Clerk and asked him to examine these concerns very closely. Our letter to Mr Holgate, sent on 13th January 2017, is published below:
Dear Mr Holgate,
I am writing to you concerning the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s recent agreement to purchase of the freehold of the Kensington and Chelsea College building in Wornington Road.
Please can you explain what a RBKC Council Officer, namely Tony Redpath, is doing occupying a position as an external member on the Board of Governors at the Kensington and Chelsea College and if it is usual practice for senior Council Officers to occupy such a position on an independent body while under the employ of the local Council?
It is the understanding of our community that Tony Redpath joined the Board of Governors on the 25 March 2014 and, we believe, that this would have put him in a position to potentially influence the Kensington and Chelsea College’s decision to sell the freehold of the Wornington Road when it came up for sale in early 2016.
The decision to purchase the freehold of the Wornington Road site for a sum of £25 million was taken, without any consultation with the public, by the RBKC Cabinet in April of 2016.
It is our assumption that Tony Redpath in his role as Director of Strategy and Local Services at RBKC would have had some input into the Council’s decision to purchase the aforementioned freehold and we believe that this may have constituted a serious “conflict of interest”.
It would appear that Tony Redpath was in a position at the RBKC Council to influence the purchase of the College freehold while, at the same time, being a member of the Board of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College and, therefore in a position to influence the sale of the College building.
Please can the RBKC explain why Mr Tony Redpath then took a “sabbatical” from the Board of Governors at Kensington and Chelsea College, between 16th February 2016 and 31st December 2016, at the exact time that the Cabinet at RBKC went ahead and purchased the freehold of the College building? This could be construed as giving the uncomfortable impression that Tony Redpath had been involved in both sides of setting up the deal between the Council and the College but conveniently disappeared from the scene at the time of the “smoking gun”.
I would like to make an official complaint against Mr Redpath for his involvement in this apparent “conflict of interest” and I would like the Council to explain in detail why they appear to have allowed one of their Officers to become involved in both the purchase of the Kensington and Chelsea College freehold and the sale of the same freehold?
If I am not satisfied with the response that I receive from your investigation I will be pursuing my right to refer this matter to the Independent Local Government Ombudsman.
The Grenfell Action Group fully expect the Town Clerk to ignore the concerns that we have raised and find excuses for RBKC to explain away the behaviour of this senior Council Officer. It is our opinion, however, that this whole affair stinks to high heaven and has a genuine whiff of scandal about it and the Council and Mr Redpath can rest assured that we will continue to work tirelessly to unearth any evidence showing that our suspicions are justified.