Kensington & Chelsea’s Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) – which managed all council-owned properties before the Grenfell Fire – recently told its resident members that it will face closure as a company unless they agree to radical changes to its current constitution and management structure that would allow the current Board complete and permanent control of the organisation, including how it responds to any criminal investigation, the public inquiry, or civil action it may face.
Currently, a majority of seats on the KCTMO Board are reserved for resident members and any changes to its operation or management structure can only be implemented if they receive a majority vote from resident members.
At last year’s AGM, held after the Grenfell Fire, residents used their voting power to block an attempt by RBKC, backed by the KCTMO Board, to seize control of the organisation. Despite concerns that the police investigation and public inquiry would be hindered if one organisation under investigation, RBKC, gained complete control of another organisation under investigation, the KCTMO, this proposal would have succeeded had resident members not turned out in force to vote against the controversial proposal.
Under the new KCTMO proposals, such action would no longer be possible because the voting power of resident members would be removed and the Board would be reduced to five members. Three members of this new Board would be chosen by the existing KCTMO Board, which has been in power since before the Grenfell Tower disaster. Residents would no longer be permitted to serve on the Board and would also lose the right to vote on rule changes or other major decisions. The three Board members selected by the current Board would then select the final two Board members and these five would then have the sole power to make any rule changes or other decisions they see fit without any scrutiny, oversight, or fear of veto from residents.
A coalition of resident members from council homes across the borough has worked to create alternative proposals that recognise changes are necessary to KCTMO’s constitution but that maintain the need for member voting on changes to the constitution and resident representation on the board, but which ban residents involved in legal disputes against KCTMO and anyone with a direct or indirect relationship to RBKC from serving. These proposals, submitted as a motion for debate at next week’s KCTMO Emergency General Meeting, and within the required 14 days advance notice, have been rejected by KCTMO.
The fact that proposals submitted by the Borough Wide Alliance of Council Residents Associations (BWRA), which was highly influential in bringing about the Council’s decision to end its management contract with the KCTMO, proposals which had been vetted by independent legal experts, were rejected by KCTMO is highly controversial. The KCTMO has instead opted to create proposals that would remove external scrutiny and grant power to a Board whose decisions are currently under criminal investigation and opened the company to civil liabilities, clearly shows that KCTMO’s aim is to insulate itself and its employees from proper scrutiny whilst also frustrating police and public inquiries.
The KCTMO has called an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) for Thursday the 27th September, at the Town Hall.
Survivors of Grenfell Tower, residents of the wider Lancaster West Estate, and council residents from the rest of the Borough will again be forced to attend a meeting simply to vote against proposals which serve selfish interests, when all we want is openness and honesty from an organisation which has serious questions to answer about issues that could have implications for the future of social housing across the country
KCTMO EGM : An Explanation for Residents
What is the problem?
KCTMO is a limited company; this means that it must have published rules that govern its operation and administration. These rules are in KCTMO’s Articles of Association and Constitution but these were designed for a company that would manage residential properties on behalf of RBKC. As it no longer fulfils this role but needs to remain in existence to respond to the criminal investigations, public inquiry, and civil litigation it will face for its role in the Grenfell Tower fire, there is a need for changes to be made to the rules to reflect its new purpose.
KCTMO have said their changes will address this issue, so what is the problem?
KCTMO’s proposals do FAR MORE than address this problem; they are seeking to remove resident members from the board and the power that resident members currently have to vote on proposed rule changes of any kind. The current board may have questions to answer related to decisions they made during their tenure and may even face criminal charges if they are judged to have any responsibility for decisions that led to the fire; KCTMO’s proposals would grant these people power to select future board members and this is clearly a worrying development that could hinder or completely derail Grenfell investigations.
OK, but KCTMO’s proposals require 75% of members at the EGM to vote in favour – they will NEVER get this – so what’s the problem?
KCTMO have a significant amount of proxy votes, delegated to them by existing members, with broad discretion on how to use these. In previous years, they have used the proxy votes to push through decisions which were widely opposed by residents and it is feared they will try to do this again unless we attend the EGM and vote against them.
I am willing to attend on Thursday 27 September and vote against them, so will many other residents, so what’s the problem?
KCTMO are demanding pre-registration, by postal application, if a member wishes to attend. This is clearly designed to prevent access to the EGM by residents who care enough to attend and ensure that KCTMO acts in an open and honest manner – with proper accountability and oversight.
What is the solution?
We urgently need resident members to either attend on Thursday, or appoint a trusted fellow resident to act as their proxy. There is no limit to the number of proxy votes a person may cast, but the form MUST be completed and returned, by post, using the pre-paid envelope with the pack, to the Southampton company KCTMO has chosen to administer the process.
The above is the text of a Press Release from the Kensington & Chelsea Borough Wide Alliance of council Residents’ Associations (BWRA)
For further information and comment contact:
Cllr Monica Press – Tavistock Crescent RA and RBKC Councillor – 07503 568263 or Cllr.Monica.Press@rbkc.gov.uk
Tom Fitch – Swinbrook Estate RA – Tom@cash-online.org.uk
Gordon Futter – Campden House Residents’ Compact – 07540 845365
Joe Delaney – Lancaster West RA – 07985 196199