The Royal Borough of Pure Hypocrisy.


RBKC never known for straight talking!

The Grenfell Action Group are used to be kept waiting by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea whenever we submit a Freedom of Information request and the Council behaved true to form by refusing to release the Financial Viability Assessment we requested on 23rd March 2016 concerning their plans to demolish the Silchester Estate in North Kensington.

RBKC are citing regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) as their reason for not disclosing the information that we have legitimately sought claiming that doing so would infringe on the “confidentiality of commercial or industrial information”.

Despite submitting evidence to the Information Commissioner that included references to recent decisions finding in favour of issuing  disclosure notices in other London Boroughs’ and giving a robust argument in support of the public interest in favour of disclosure the RBKC have steadfastly refused to release the contents of the information that we have requested.

What makes the RBKC’s decision to withhold the Silchester Financial Viability Assessment particularly upsetting is that the Council have always claimed that they wish to act with the utmost transparency and work with the residents of Silchester Estate by allowing them to be involved with and participate in the planning  and decision making process. This clearly cannot happen when the residents of the Silchester are being denied access to the most important and influential document concerning the Council’s regeneration plans for their Estate!

We are currently waiting for the Information Commissioner to draft a Decision Notice concerning the release of the Silchester Financial Viability Assessment and when this takes place the Grenfell Action Group fully expect that the decision will be in favour of disclosure.

While we are not at all surprised by the decision of RBKC not to release the contents of the Silchester Financial Viability Assessment we are rather sickened that the same Council have the temerity to use many of the same arguments (public interest and past decisions by the Information Commissioner in favour of disclosure) in an attempt to gain access to the Financial Viability Assessment produced by property developers, Capco in relation to their regeneration plans at Earl’s Court. On 19 October the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council passed the following motion unanimously at the Full Council Meeting in Hornton Street:

“This Council notes the announcement that CapCo is considering a significant change of housing mix and a significant increase in the density of its Earl’s Court redevelopment, which would impact on the wider masterplan for the area as reflected in the Earl’s Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area Joint Supplementary Planning Document adopted by this Council in March 2012. The Council also notes the very high level of public interest in the Earl’s Court development, as one of London’s major regeneration areas.

Such a change would require a new planning application to be considered in the normal way including:
• a policy compliant level of affordable housing and, where necessary, publication of a financial viability assessment consistent with previous decisions of the Information Commissioner on the balance between the need for commercial confidentiality as against public interest in disclosure; and
• public consultation.

In the interests of sound, open and transparent planning, the Council calls on CapCo to fully engage with the Council and local resident and business communities over any proposal to change the scale of development on the site from that already approved.”

So it seems that the hypocrisy of the RBKC knows no bounds. On the one hand the RBKC are using Environmental Information Regulations to justify the withholding of the Silchester Financial Viability Assessment while, on the other, putting pressure on CapCo to release the Earl’s Court Financial Viability Assessment “in the interests of sound, open and transparent planning”!

No wonder the residents of Silchester Estate view the Council’s claims that they wish to pursue the plans to regenerate their Estate in a transparent manner with contempt and assess that RBKC is duplicitous and has double standards and an overriding ambition of doing things “to” their community rather than “with” them. The Grenfell Action Group will update our readers with the Information Commissioners “Decision Notice” as soon as it is made and we hope very much that they will find in favour of disclosure.

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“The Grenfell Pathway”- Will lessons be learned?

thumbnail_helloThe residents of Grenfell Tower know better than anyone how our landlord, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), oppress tenants and leaseholders with impunity and how they use one hand to smash us in the face with a hammer and the other to pick our back pockets. The Grenfell Action Group believe that the TMO are a malign force, an “evil racket” who choose to act in a manner more akin to a mini mafia than a respectable social housing provider.

During the recent Grenfell Tower Improvement Works residents were lied to and bullied by the TMO. Despite the constant representations of the Grenfell Tower Resident Association (see link below) to obtain justice for residents, the RBKC and the TMO have quashed all our attempts to get sunlight shone onto our legitimate complaints and have used their immense resources and their combined in house propaganda machines to portray the Improvement Works as a great, trouble free operation:

We believe that, without being willing to admit to the many difficulties that accompanied the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works, the TMO is effectively burying it’s head in the sand and will simply make the same mistakes time and time again resulting in much misery and pain for innocent residents. At Grenfell Tower we recognise that we were, in effect, ‘guinea pigs’ for a wider refurbishment programme that the Council is set to undertake “pan-borough” over the coming years.  For example, we know that works will commence in due course at Treverton Tower and Raymede Tower, presumably also while residents are in occupation.

As well as sharing the resident viewpoint and experience on the GAG blog, we would like lessons to be learned from our experiences, so that a ‘Grenfell Pathway’ for future tower block refurbishments can be devised to assist the Council, the contractors, and the TMO in the future.  Our recommendations for this ‘Pathway’ would include:

  1. Promises made to residents are kept.
  2. Communications are clear and wherever possible made in person – and if anything changes in terms of what has been told to residents this will be communicated immediately and with clarity.
  3. There is enough flexibility in the approach to communication that alternative strategies can be employed if the situation evolves and different approaches are needed through the life of the project.
  4. Formal collective consultation arrangements are set in place at the start of any project, either through the setting up of a Residents’ Association or through a TMO Compact.  These meetings should be organised by the TMO and take place every six weeks once the works commences.  In addition, these meetings should be organised at an appropriate frequency before and after the works.  Communication through public meetings and/or residents’ association should be organised and led by TMO, involve the Contractor and any local Councillors and are maintained throughout the life of the project.
  5. The issues residents raise are treated as valid and accurate in the first instance, respected and dealt with fairly, quickly and appropriately.
  6. A personable and accessible-to-all process is put in place for the capturing and responding to residents’ issues.  Past experience has shown that the TMO complaints process is too cumbersome, only available to IT literate people and is not timely and efficient enough. In addition,  a process needs to be in place so that residents’ concerns are noted in real time (for instance, at when they are raised at public meetings), logged, tracked, actioned, and responded to.  A “You Said. We Did.” type of communication format could be used; but would only be effective with an improved process for dealing with issues.
  7. The TMO will dedicate one competent and personable Officer to deal specifically with matters arising from the project to ensure continuity and a speedy response.
  8. An independent Residents’ Advocate is appointed to have direct access to senior TMO management as part of a monthly meeting cycle, to expeditiously collate and progress residents’ individual and collective concerns, and to be kept aware and up-to-speed with progress on the project. This could be a salaried position as the resident advocate may have a near full time role in representing their community.
  9. There is a senior manager or director level resource on the project who is not “task orientated” but “resident” or “people” orientated.  This person would have executive accountability and budget control, such that they could action issues in a timely manner, and influence the whole project, including contractor actions.
  10. The TMO will ensure it knows and understands the personal circumstances of every resident and makes special arrangements where these are needed.
  11. Written communications will include a short paragraph pointing out that bringing a new-born baby into the home may be difficult when extensive building works are going on and asking anyone likely to be in that position to get in touch as quickly as possible so that individual arrangements can be made as required.  This also needs to be raised at all open meetings and with resident association representatives
  12. All the contractors’ Resident Liaison Officers will be fully trained to be alert to issues of the type in point 11 (above).
  13. It will be recognised that a “respite flat” available to other residents is by definition not suitable in these circumstances, since caring for a new-born baby is very special and needs peace and privacy.
  14. Everyone involved in the programme – residents, contractors, Council and the TMO  will be encouraged to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them, rather than adopt a defensive response.  This is only an attitude which can be encouraged as an “invitation to follow” for residents; i.e. if the TMO and Contractor do not exemplify civilised and courteous behaviour it is unlikely to be matched by all residents and even if the TMO and Contractor do take this approach they may have to be patient with some residents.
  15. Whenever possible, contractors will not use the same lifts as residents.(For example, there are external walkways at each floor at Treverton and Raymede, so it will be possible to install temporary external lifts for these work programmes.)

 The fact that our proposed “Grenfell Pathway” is as comprehensive and lengthy as it is is testimony to the myriad of contentious issues that arose between residents and the TMO during the Grenfell Tower Improvement works. It is a sad fact that the TMO would prefer to sweep these problems under the carpet rather than acknowledge the reality of their existence. We believe that any residents living in TMO properties facing refurbishment should ensure that the painful lessons from the Grenfell Tower Improvement Works are learned and that the TMO are held to account by the adoption of the “Grenfell Pathway” and are not allowed to continue their shameful abuse of tenants and leaseholders.

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West London Citizens-The return of the vultures!


Disturbing news has reached the Grenfell Action Group that the “cultural tourists” who represent West London Citizens are trying to ingratiate themselves onto the Silchester Estate. The Grenfell Action Group believe that West London Citizens are agents of social cleansing and are working hand in hand with the neo-Cons in Hornton Street to destroy our working class community. We believe that West London Citizens have piggy-backed themselves into the North Kensington housing debate on the back of genuine community groups who should know better than to be conned into surrendering the choice about our own housing futures to a group of socially bankrupt outsiders.

In their publication entitled “North Kensington Housing Inquiry Report” the West London Citizens give their explicit support to regeneration and even have the temerity to boast that their involvement in the social cleansing of North Kensington would help “enable regeneration to take place more swiftly”. They bleat on about trying to secure residents the “right to return” completely ignoring the fact that RBKC removed this specific guarantee from the final “Decant Policy” back in 2011.

At the time, the Grenfell Action Group directly challenged Cllr Paget Brown and Cllr Feilding Mellen as to why the guaranteed “right to return” had been deleted from the final “Decant Policy” document and we were told that this was because the Council could not guarantee  that residents would be actually able to return to their original community. We would like to ask West London Citizens where was their input and concern when the “Decant Policy” was being formulated and why do they think they can influence a evil and hateful policy that was decided five years ago much to the detriment of social housing tenants?

We believe that the West London Citizens Inquiry Report is misleading our community by suggesting to residents that they are in a position to promote regeneration as an answer to more affordable “social” housing, better quality housing with bigger properties and safer neighbourhoods with more green space. To add insult to injury, these impostors are also very keen that they take advantage of the proposed Silchester regeneration by recommending that Imperial Medical School are given a share of properties in the new regeneration scheme for cheap rent in exchange for care work and mentoring. What a cheek!

We have a strong and explicit message for the residents of Silchester Estate.. do not trust or enter into any partnership with West London Citizens. The Grenfell Action Group believe that they are agents of social cleansing and do not have the best interest of this community at heart. If they end up at your doorstep asking questions we advise that you challenge their record of collusion with the neo-Cons at RBKC and refuse to answer their questions. We do not need West London Citizens polluting North Kensington and muddying the waters with regards to regeneration and the futures of our homes.

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RBKC- Snouts in the MIPIM trough?


The Grenfell Action Group officially became members of the Radical Housing Network (RHN) back in early 2014. One of the first issues that the RHN brought to our members attention was the immoral nature of a property fair held every year in Cannes, France and at Olympia, London called MIPIM, whose sole purpose was to carve up our social housing and public land among property developers.

In the autumn of both 2014 and 2015 members of the Grenfell Action Group supported the mass protest of MIPIM at Olympia organised by the RHN and let delegates know that they are not welcome in our city.

In 2014 a member of the Grenfell Action Group wrote to Cllr Paget Brown, the Leader of RBKC, and received assurances that no representatives from our Council would be attending MIPIM. This assurance subsequently turned out to be invalid after Cllr Cockell (aka Pooter) was spotted and photographed at the event.

It was, therefore, very upsetting for the Grenfell Action Group to hear that Cllr Feilding Mellen may have attended MIPIM in Cannes, earlier this year, as recently disclosed on the Hornet’s Nest website.

The Grenfell Action Group have written to the Leader of RBKC and asked him to clarify if any representatives of the Council attended MIPIM at Cannes in 2016 and to also answer questions with regards Cllr Feilding Mellen’s relations with a property consultant called Mr Bingle

We have published a letter to Paget Brown, written by a member of the Grenfell Action Group, in full below:

“Dear Councillor Paget Brown,

As you are aware there are many members of our community who are very concerned that the position of RBKC Cabinet Member for Housing, Property and Regeneration is occupied by Cllr Feilding Mellen who is the director of a property development company called Socially Conscious Capital.

We believe that this is a direct conflict of interest and that Cllr Feilding Mellen will not be able to listen objectively to those community members who don’t view their homes and lives through a prism of regeneration and developers profit.

Please can you inform me whether Cllr Feilding Mellen or any other Councillor or representative of RBKC attended the MIPIM conference in Cannes earlier this year?

If so, please can you provide me with details of who paid for travel, hotel expenses and the conference entrance fee?

Please can you give me specific details of what business was discussed at MIPIM and provide me with any documents, minutes or other record of this meeting?

Please can you also confirm for me whether any Councillors or representatives of RBKC will be attending MIPIM when it arrives back at Olympia in the middle of October 2016?

Last time I posed you this question, in 2014, you responded by stating that no Councillors from RBKC would be attending MIPIM which was an untruth as Cllr Cockell was subsequently photographed at the sordid property fair. Let’s hope that you can be a bit more honest this time around?

Finally, I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that Cllr Feilding Mellen is rumoured to have had a recent meeting with a Mr Bingle who describes himself as running a political and media relations consultancy with a particular focus on property. Please can you inform me why one of your Councillors would want to meet with Mr Bingle and what Council matters were discussed at this meeting? It appears that there was no Council Officer present to record this meeting and I would like an explanation as to why this was so? Please provide me with any documentation, minutes or records relating to this meeting? Was the meeting paid for out of Council funds and has this been declared on Clrr Feilding Mellen’s expenses? If not, why not?


Grenfell Action Group”

As soon as we have an response from Paget Brown  we will let our readers know as we believe that there could be a direct conflict of interest posed between Cllr Feilding Mellen’s responsibilities to RBKC and his own property development ambitions.

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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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TMO-Time to act is now !


On Thursday 15th September a group of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation residents will be coming together in a meeting room at the Chelsea Theatre in World’s End between 7.45pm -8.30pm. It is an open meeting and anyone who has been impacted by the despicable conduct and sewer like service dished out by the TMO is welcome to attend. It is hoped that the meeting on the 15th September can act as a catalyst for further action at the TMO AGM that is taking place at 9.30am on Saturday 17th September at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington High Street and is open to all TMO members.

The meeting at the Chelsea Theatre has been arranged so that tenants and leaseholders can gather to discuss a way to end the reign of terror inflicted upon our lives by the mini mafia disguised as a legitimate TMO. The meeting has been publicised through the excellent Hornet’s Nest website and the comments accompanying the post make depressingly familiar reading:

It seems that the victims of the TMO are legion and are spread pan-Borough. Those of us that are based in North Kensington might be shocked, but not too surprised, that the likes of Black, Maddison, Birch, Jevans, etc are ruining the lives of other TMO tenants in the south of the Borough and, on World’s End Estate, in particular. The hard hitting evidence compiled over recent years by the Concerned Residents of Kensington and Chelsea proves this point:



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