Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Another newsletter, another farce

As we mentioned in our last blog yet another newsletter claiming to be from the Residents Association was delivered to the estate's residents recently. 

As has now become the norm the first most of the Residents Association Committee knew about it was when it was delivered to their homes. The Chair is clearly keeping his fellow Committee members, our elected representatives, fully informed of what he's up to.

How anyone can seriously claim that it is from the Residents Association under these circumstances is a joke. It is clearly a newsletter from the Chair, Mr. Ali Shah, produced with the help of the Council, who probably also helped write it.

And it has "Resident Engagement Team (ex-TMO), scourge of Grenfell" written all over it.

The newsletter is six pages long and printed in colour double-sided on three sheets of A4, which have then been stapled together. The newsletter was clearly printed on an ordinary office laser printer. There's nothing to suggest a professional printing firm was used despite the fact that it would have been significantly cheaper.

Each newsletter has then been placed in an envelope and posted out to all 270 households on the Cremorne Estate using the Royal Mail. A franking machine has been used and the mark on the envelope is that of the Council. 

It's pretty clear that the Council provided the paper, printed the newsletter, provided the envelopes and address labels, and paid the postage.

This is not a service the Council offer or provide to other Resident Associations for the simple reason that it is not cheap. We estimate the cost of this exercise was somewhere north of £800. The postage alone was about £200. That's over £3 per household. 

Most Resident Associations simply cannot afford to spend £800 on a newsletter. Unsurprisingly they find more economical ways of producing and distributing a newsletter. And spending £200 on postage because you can't be bothered to deliver anything on the estate where you live demonstrates exemplary laziness on the part of the Chair, and not much in the way of basic common sense on the part of anyone involved, particularly the Council staff.

As for the newsletter itself: 

The content of the newsletter could be summarized as propaganda in favour of the current Chair of the Residents Association and propaganda in favour of he Council. 

Much of the propaganda in favour of the Chair takes the form of the Chair claiming credit for things he had little or no actual involvement with. 

The propaganda in favour of the Council takes the form of fawning support for anything and everything the Council does. Oh, and some pretty blatant attempts to rewrite history.

The Chair can justifiably take credit for everything on the first four pages - the barbecue held in the estate's gardens in the middle of the pandemic (see our previous article), the installation of a Christmas Tree, and the installation of a memorial bench for a former, rather controversial, resident of the estate who passed away just before Christmas. 

We suspect this is the kind of thing the Council wishes all Residents Associations spent their time doing. Not because it benefits the community, but because it would keep them busy doing something other than scrutinizing the behaviour and performance of Council staff and contractors. Bread and circuses to distract the plebs as they say. 

On pages 5 and 6 the Chair tries to take credit for things he clearly had nothing to do with.

He tries to claim credit for the works to replace the front doors of tenanted properties on the estate. This is despite the fact that these works are part of a borough-wide programme that began well before he was anointed Chair. He clearly had nothing to do with it beyond being the Chair when the works were carried out.

He tries to claim credit for the recent roll out of fibre broadband on the estate. Again, this had nothing to do with him. The decision to allow Community Fibre and Hyperoptic onto Council estates was taken before he was ever Chair and the Cremorne Estate clearly isn't the only estate where it is being installed. Does he also wish to claim credit for it being installed on dozens of other Council estates as well?

He states that he opposed plans for high powered street lighting opting instead to install "softer" estate lighting. What he forgets to mention (or, more likely, simply doesn't know) is that the lighting he has opposed was recommended by the Police's Design Out Crime Team whilst the "softer" lighting he has opted to install instead probably hasn't. Who wants to bet that the new softer lighting fails to provide the estate with the security benefits it actually needs?

To be honest we could go on but we won't. Suffice is to say that claiming credit for things you have had nothing to do with whilst openly displaying your ignorance is the norm. 

At the end of the newsletter there is a "closing statement". We don't necessarily disagree with some of the sentiments expressed but do disagree with some of the "facts" put forward.

Denying that there was ever a plan to install a Crossrail 2 station on the estate is a blatant lie. We've discussed this elsewhere and some residents have since reminded us that he actually attended many of the public meetings at the time, including the one attended by Greg Hands MP. He really should know better.

Denying there was ever a plan to build on to of some of the blocks on the estate is also a lie. The Council have rethought their proposal but they were, at one point, seriously considering adding more floors to Westfield House. This is all a matter of public record. Why he believes it is even remotely sensible to deny it is beyond us.

Suggesting that the Residents Association had previously worked in secrecy and was now totally transparent it not only a lie but total hypocrisy. 

Secrecy is keeping most of the Committee in the dark about what you're up to, such as sending out newsletters and making decisions without their knowledge, and he has been doing just that ever since he was anointed by the Council in December 2019. 

In fact pretty much everything the Chair can justifiably claim credit for he did without the knowledge or approval of most of the Committee but with the wilful collaboration of certain individuals working at the Council. 

Is that transparency? Or is it actually secrecy? Who is guilty of what exactly?

This would all be a humorous farce were the situation not so serious. The estate is faced with millions of pounds of major works and this newsletter makes it abundantly clear that the current Chair of the Residents Association is both unwilling and incapable of scrutinizing any of it. That he apparently also considers it perfectly reasonable to put out a newsletter that cost the best part of a thousand pounds is merely confirmation of his poor judgement and general ineptitude. 

And to make matters worse the Council will be ensuring that he is re-elected by running the elections to the Committee on the 1st of July. Just like last time. They won't allow the election to be supervised or have anyone verify the result. Just like last time. 

No doubt because they'll be fiddling the result to both his and their advantage. 

Just like last time.

Ladies and Gentlemen we present the all new, all dancing "we really learnt lots from Grenfell and repeatedly crucifying the residents we didn't like, honest guv" Rotten Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Save the Cremorne!

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Rewriting history, for thirty pieces of silver ...

Residents of the Cremorne Estate recently had the latest newsletter from the Cremorne Residents Association drop through their letterboxes (and, as is now usual, most of the Residents Association Committee knew nothing about it - more on that to come).

In it the current Chair of the Residents Association, Mr. Ali Shah, claims that:

"There are no plans to demolish any part of the Cremorne Estate for the Cross Rail 2 project as previously circulated and can confirm that there were never any plans to do so." 

This is a lie.

Or perhaps Mr. Ali Shah would like to explain the document below?

It is the original TMO Board briefing that was leaked to residents in 2014. It let the cat out of the bag and told us what the Council were up to.

The TMO Board briefing is very clear:  

There was a plan to locate a Crossrail 2 station on the Cremorne Estate.  

It was a plan the Council dreamt up (as the briefing says: "at the request of RBKC Leader Councillor Nick Paget-Brown") and then put to TfL. 

It would have led to the demolition of most of the estate and its "regeneration".

The Grenfell Inquiry has confirmed what "regeneration" really means in Kensington and Chelsea.

It means moving people out of their homes, out of the borough, and leaving them there.

And that document is just one of many implicating the Council, Council officers and Councillors in a proposal that would have destroyed our community, our estate and blighted the local area. 

You only have to look through the posts on this site from 2014 and 2015 to confirm just how real the threat to the estate was. 

We are assured that Mr. Ali Shah knows this. Why then is he lying? 

Perhaps because the only reason Mr. Ali Shah is the Chair of the Residents Association is because the last election was fiddled in his favour by the Council's Resident Engagement team (and they appear to be planning to fiddle another election on the 1st of July). 

He is the Council's choice, not ours. 

Mr. Ali Shah now appears to be doing his master's bidding. He is trying to whitewash history in the Council's favour. To what nefarious ends and in return for what we do not know. But we can't think of a better way of trashing your credibility and confirming the accusations of being little more than a sycophant and a plant and not to be trusted.

In 2014 we were lucky. We had a Residents Association that would fight tooth and nail to defend the estate and save our homes. And they did.

In 2021 we are cursed. The Residents Association is led by a man who appears to be quite happy to lie and cheat and sell us all down the river for thirty pieces of silver.

And given what we know is coming our way - millions of pounds in major works that will be extremely disruptive and cost leaseholders tens of thousands of pounds that Mr. Ali Shah is clearly unwilling to scrutinise or challenge in any way - perhaps he will.

Save the Cremorne!

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Has anything changed?

It will not have escaped eagle eyed readers that the Grenfell enquiry has now reached the stage where it is considering submissions from the residents of Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West Estate as well as from the TMO.

The submissions from the residents should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the TMO's modus operandi - tales of bullying, intimidation, disdain and general apathy and indifference from members of TMO staff, with those residents who dared ask questions or raise issues labelled "difficult" and "troublemakers" and ostracised. Totally unprofessional and uncaring behaviour that demonstrated a total lack of care and respect for residents. 

And in some cases far, far worse. 

And accounts of what the Council were up to at the time aren't much better. Anyone suggesting the Council were "okay" and simply misled by the TMO should take off their blinkers. The Council knew what was happening and, through inaction if nothing else, was totally and utterly complicit.

It is therefore extremely disappointing that as we approach the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire it is impossible for us to propose with any honesty that the situation has improved and that the life of a resident whose home is now managed by the Council, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is significantly better than it was under the TMO. 

Yes, the Council has acted to deal with some of the most obvious failings already identified by the Grenfell enquiry in relation to fire safety - a number of estates have had new front doors and communal fire doors installed and other fire safety works are apparently on the way - but has the attitude of the staff to the residents changed much if at all? 

And more importantly: has it changed for the better? 

Given what we have seen of staff behaviour over the last two years we find it difficult to believe any claim that it has. 

The Council was on its best behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the fire as was, it must be said, the TMO. And when the Council inherited most of the TMO's employees through TUPE that continued to be the case. But that honeymoon period lasted 18 months at best and died a quick death once the Council secured the result it wanted from the government imposed test of opinion. They would clearly go the extra mile to secure a favourable vote from residents (that the Council should continue to manage their homes) but once they had that in hand it was clearly back to business as usual. 

There are now so many examples of poor staff behavior that would not be out of place in a submission to the enquiry that it is readily apparent that those former TMO staff still employed by the Council have reverted back to their old ways. And that those recruited since have simply followed their lead and acquired some of their most appalling traits and behaviours. 

And that is without mentioning the obvious corruption that pervades the delivery of so many services, the audits so often promised by Doug Goldring that were supposed to deal with the countless cases of improper working practices and inappropriate relations between members of staff and contractors reported by so many residents having completely failed to materialise.

And it's certainly without mentioning the despotic and dishonest antics of certain members of staff on the Cremorne Estate, both in relation to the manner in which they deal with residents and the manner in which they have effectively neutered the Residents Association. All done with the knowledge and consent of their superiors: Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith, the Lead Member for Housing, and Doug Golding, the Director of Housing Management. 

It is readily apparent that the countless promises from the likes of Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring that things would be both radically different and radically better under their leadership were little more than hot air, and had just as much substance.

Housing management under the Council, under the direction of Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith and Doug Goldring is equivalent, if not identical, to that under Rock Feilding-Mellen and Robert Black. The cooks may be different but the recipe is exactly the same. 

Things have changed very little. We can only hope that the enquiry might yet serve to shed some light on that simple truth and that actual meaningful change could yet follow. 

But as usual where the Council are concerned we won't be holding our breath.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Pandemic? What Pandemic?

On Saturday, 5th of September, the Chair of the Residents Association, Mr. Ali Shah, organised a party in one of the estate's communal gardens.

The same communal gardens the Council is currently consulting us about. The same communal gardens the same Mr. Ali Shah, Chair of the Residents Association, is proposing to open up to the general public without consulting the rest of the Residents Association and despite widespread opposition from the estate's residents (more on that in a later post).  

Leaflets advertising the event were randomly distributed across the estate just before the event. Some residents received the leaflet on Friday, some received the leaflet on Saturday, some received no leaflet at all. 

You do have to wonder whether the plan was to make sure that no one had the chance to object before the event took place. 

The leaflet advertised a free barbecue for up to 200 people, live music, a bouncy castle, and a raffle. 

Tables at the barbecue would be made available on a first come, first served basis in time slots of "up to 50 minutes". 

The event was described as "a socially distanced afternoon of community food and family fun". 

The good news: 200 people did not turn up. Anyone with any sense, which appears to have included most of the estate's residents, stayed well away. Possibly because, you know, there's a pandemic on. 

The bad news: social distancing was not at all evident. By all accounts no attempts were made to ensure that groups of attendees did not mix, that people kept to their own groups, and that those who attended the barbecue only did so for only 50 minutes (as advertised). 

Is this surprising? Of course not. It's what we have come to expect. 

The real question is of course: who in the Council's Housing Management Department thought authorizing such an event was even remotely sensible given current government guidance on containing the spread of COVID-19? Guidance they repeat like parrots but have clearly never read properly or actually understood. 

The government is about to ban people from meeting in groups of more than six. The Council authorized an event where 200 people, over thirty times that number, would meet and mix and socialize. 

And then, to make matters just that little bit worse, the current Mayor of the Royal Borough, Councillor Gerard Hargreaves, turned up and mingled and mixed with all those present as well. Leaving no one in any doubt that poor judgement in the face of an ongoing pandemic that has already killed between 40,000 and 60,000 people (significantly more than the Luftwaffe ever did throughout the Blitz) is not only endemic at the Council's Housing Management Department but appears to afflict many of our local politicians too. 

We sincerely hope that no one suffers any negative consequences from this little "party" and that COVID-19 was not present in any way, shape or form. But should that not be the case who of our wonderful Council Housing Management staff and politicians will own up to an epic gaffe and willfully putting the estate's residents at risk?

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

When the cat's away ... run a consultation.

An eagle eyed resident was kind enough to point out that the Council's consultation on opening up our gardens is both very short and taking place entirely during the month of August when many residents are likely to be away. 

The letter from Patrick Sean Sullivan is dated the 6th of August. The deadline given is the 28th of August. That is, at best, 22 calendar days. And all within the month of August. 

The consultation period is also unusually short. The equivalent letter for a proposal to paint some shed and garage doors was dated the 16th of July and set a deadline of the 14th of August. That's 29 calendar days. 

The proposal to paint shed and garage doors will not have a negative impact on anyone. Not all residents have a shed or a garage and many simply won't care whether the Council paints them or not.

The proposal to open up our gardens to the general public (for that is what it is) will have a detrimental impact on all residents, and particularly those living next to the gardens, for the many, many reasons we have cited previously (see our previous post for the gory details). 

Would any sane person believe that a proposal to paint some shed and garage doors is worthy of a longer consultation period than a proposal to open up our gardens to all and sundry? We suspect not. 

But the Council's Housing Management Department clearly do. 

Why? Because they are perfectly aware of the fact that a significant number of the estate's residents are likely to be away for some or all of the month of August. And they are quite cynically taking advantage of the situation. 

They are hoping that those likely to object will be away and will miss the consultation altogether.

Dissenting voices are very clearly not welcome. And if those likely to dissent are intentionally (ahem, accidentally) excluded by rigging (ahem, setting) the dates of the consultation in this way so much the better.  

They are quite simply trying to engineer the end result they want. 

The consultation is really a non-consultation. It is designed to tick a box not find out what most residents actually think. Because it's quite clear that Housing Management don't really care what anyone thinks. They simply want to have their way.

This is the kind of behaviour that you might expect of dodgy property developers with questionable planning applications who submit their planning applications at the height of Summer in a cynical attempt to try and avoid any opposition from those affected (and we've had plenty of those before), not the Council. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Destroying our gardens

A letter from the Council just landed in our letterboxes. 

The letter is signed by a Patrick Sean Sullivan, a member of the Council Housing Department's Environmental Services Team.

This team, which the Council inherited from the TMO, has been the subject of many a complaint from many residents over the years. 

They are no strangers to allegations of corrupt, immoral and dishonest behaviour. 

The letter claims that the Residents Association had asked the Council to open up the estate's gardens.  

They would remove the existing fencing around our garden areas and open them up to public use. 

This is an unbelievably stupid proposal. Monumentally stupid in fact.  

Parts of the estate currently suffer from regular incidents of street drinking, drug dealing, dog fouling and every other kind of anti-social behaviour imaginable. 

We've had drunks from the local pub pass out and collapsed on the ground outside blocks.

Drug dealers are often seen dealing from behind some of the sheds on Ann Lane. 

The local Police do the best they can to deal with the issues. The Council have yet to demonstrate either the willingness or the know-how to deal with any of them. 

Some Council staff actually seem to do the best they can to remain willfully ignorant and pretend those problems don't exist, which is why we appear to be stuck with them.  

And now they want to open up our gardens to all and sundry. 

As if all this ongoing appalling and unwanted behaviour will somehow not simply migrate there and turn our gardens into a hive of anti-social and criminal activity. 

They intend to destroy our gardens and make the lives of those living nearby a misery.

And then they have the temerity to claim this was requested by the Residents Association. 

We know most of the residents on the Residents Association. Most have served on the Residents Association for years and know the estate well. They would not propose this. 

And having now spoken to most of them we know none of them asked for these works. 

None of them were even consulted about them.  

The first they knew of these works were when the letter from Patrick Sean Sullivan arrived at the weekend. 

They're all supposed to have proposed something they knew nothing about!

In truth they are all very strongly opposed to the proposals. They know the damage opening up the gardens would do. 

They know how badly their neighbours would be affected. 

They would not dream of proposing such a damaging and dangerously stupid idea. 

The letter is clearly factually incorrect and grossly misleading. 

The question is whether Patrick Sean Sullivan and the Council know that it is. 

We suspect they do. 

They're lying. 

And they know they're lying. It's clearly intentional. 

We don't know who Patrick Sean Sullivan has been speaking to, but it's clearly not the Residents Association. 

What remains to be seen is just how long they intend to pretend they aren't lying. 

But if they're lying about something like this, what else might they be lying about?

Friday, 17 July 2020

The Heating Controversy

Those of us living on the Cremorne Estate are no strangers to problems with the estate's district (communal) heating system. The system has been playing up for many years. Many of the estate's blocks suffered lengthy outages to their heating and hot water in 2017 and 2018. 

There are of course disagreements as to the cause of these problems and outages. Some say the system is too old and hasn't been maintained properly. Others say the performance of the heating maintenance contractor leaves much to be desired. Given that the Cremorne Estate is not the only estate to have suffered severe outages in recent times we would suggest that there is more than a little truth to both of these suggestions - the system probably hasn't been maintained properly and the performance of the contractor probably has left much to be desired. And the two are very clearly related given that the contractor carries out the maintenance. 

Whatever the actual cause of these problems the Council proposes to remedy the situation by carrying out extensive works to the system. These works have been split into two phases. The first phase contains all the works to the boilers and distribution pipework. The second contains all the works within buildings/blocks and inside individual homes. 

The Council recently wrote to all residents with regards to forthcoming major works and described the works as follows (copied verbatim):

Phase 1:

Replace the whole boiler house including all boilers and relevant controls. Total refurbishment. 

Replacement of all pipework involved in the distribution of heating and hot water system throughout the estate running from block to block, but not into the block. 

This phase is to bring all the external heating systems into a good serviceable condition and increase efficiency in its present design.

Phase 2: 

All pipework within each block and into each flat will be replaced.

Redesign the system install additional radiators and controls in line with the current legislation 'Decent Homes Standards'.

This will be a carefully programmed approach as we will need to carry out invasive works within each property. 

The timelines given are 2020-2022 for phase 1 and 2022-2023 for phase 2. 

Phase 1 is not controversial. We are not aware of a single resident who objects in any significant way to the first phase of works. Everyone seems to agree that the works are necessary, precisely because the current system is not in "a good serviceable condition" (for whatever reason). Leaseholders may wish to argue over the costs of the works, in particular as it could be argued that said costs will be abnormally high as a direct result of many years of neglect, but whether they will do so remains to be seen. 

Phase 2 IS controversial. A number of residents have pointed out that the Council's description of the second phase is neither accurate or honest. They have noted that the second phase of works, as proposed will actually be:

1. Extremely expensive. In particular as it involves significant works inside both buildings/blocks and inside people's homes. 

If you're a leaseholder have a good think about this, because you're going to be paying for it. 

2. Extremely disruptive. Precisely because it involves significant works inside people's homes. And they will clearly be much more disruptive than the Council wants to admit. 

In some blocks the distribution pipework runs through people's homes rather than through communal areas or spaces, so even replacing that will be extremely disruptive. Residents are likely to have workmen in their homes for many weeks if not months replacing not only the radiators and pipework serving their homes but also the pipework used for distribution.

And a consultant's report we have had sight of clearly states that to be the case. The report goes as far as to state that it may even be necessary to decant residents during the works. That's a rather extreme definition of the word "intrusive" being used by the Council. 

3. Expensive for all in the longer term. That the additional radiators and controls referred to will include Heat Interface Units and Heat Meters and that their use will result in a significant increase in the cost of heating and hot water and drive many tenants and leaseholders into fuel poverty, something the Council has done before on a number of other estates. 

The Council has rather a lot of form in this regard. 

For example:

The residents of Grenfell Tower were convinced to have their district (communal) heating removed and replaced with individual boilers within their homes (arguably unsafe in a tower block) on the assurance that the new system would be no more expensive. This turned out to be a very blatant lie, the replacement system was a LOT more expensive and many residents were unable to pay to heat their homes as a result. 

And there's a very similar tale of woe at Wiltshire Close. 

Similarly the "hidden homes" flats created on the World's End Estate next door were intentionally removed from the estate's district (communal) heating system for no good reason and despite the opposition and objections from that estate's Residents Association. The tenants who subsequently moved into those "hidden homes" found themselves facing heating costs up to three or four times that of their immediate neighbours. And, unsurprisingly, having committed the dastardly deed neither the Council nor the TMO felt any obligation to either remedy the situation or help the affected tenants and that remains the case to this day. 

And, we suspect, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Council clearly has no qualms about making tenants and leaseholders fuel poor. It might say it has no intention of doing so but its actions to date clearly say otherwise.  

And again we have had sight of a consultant's report that states that will indeed be the case if the second phase of works proceeds as planned. 

The report states, quite clearly, that some households on the Cremorne Estate are likely to face increases in their heating and hot water charges of up to 300% if Heat Interface Units and Heat Meters are installed and used.

So there are some very obvious issues with the second phase of these works. And they have been brought to the Council's attention, both directly and via the office of Greg Hands MP. And what have the Council done? Not what you might have expected. 

Or perhaps exactly as you might have expected.

The "heating controversy" referred to above is that having been told of these issues and concerns the Council has decided not to engage in a serious, adult conversation with the residents that have pointed them out. Rather it has decided that it would be best to pretend that these issues don't actually exist and suggest that those raising them are being "difficult", "obstructive" or "troublemakers". 

Some members of Council staff have gone as far as to refer to the issues raised as "misinformation" which, given the existence of the two reports from the Council's own consultants, is not only farcical but bordering on the behaviour of Orwell's Ministry of Truth.

And where have we heard this kind of thing before? Oh yes, that's right, at Grenfell. When the tower was refurbished (and clad in highly combustible materials) the Council referred to any residents raising any issues or concerns as "difficult", "obstructive" and "troublemakers". The Council thought it better to insult, demean and denigrate residents than try and address their (clearly justified) concerns. It appears very little has changed.

What the Council should have done is respond to the issues raised by engaging in an open and honest discussion about the scope of the works, the impact they are likely to have on residents and allow residents to be actively involved in making the decisions that may yet mitigate, minimize or even eliminate that impact. 

We appreciate that the Council may not have wanted to have that conversation at this time. But now that the cat is well and truly out of the bag it would be sensible to try and engage in a proper discussion with the residents that treats them as adults. 

Said residents may, unsurprisingly, wish to have some input into a decision process that is likely to have a monumental impact both on their homes and on their lives but is currently completely opaque and in which they have no real involvement. 

Sadly this has not happened. Other than the descriptions of the works quoted above the Council have sent us nothing. And the responses to any residents who have made queries or raised issues are not being provided by technical staff who might actually understand the issues and be able to address them properly but by "resident engagement officers" who clearly haven't a clue and are not beyond simply lying to make the residents and their issues go away.

And referring to any resident as "difficult", "obstructive" or a "troublemaker" suggests the Council has learnt nothing from the Grenfell Tower tragedy, let alone improved in any way as a result. 

But should the Council ever get round to addressing these issues properly we will be more than happy to document their response here. 

We hope for and await something meaningful. But we're not holding our breath. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

Just who is running the show?

A newsletter was distributed across the estate last week that appears to be from the Residents Association but on closer inspection appears to be nothing of the sort.

Our last post noted that the newsletter appears to have been prepared without the knowledge or consent of much of the Residents Association's Committee.

Of the twelve elected Committee members ten have stated that the first time they saw it was when it dropped through their letterbox.

That doesn't sound at all dodgy does it?

A further bit of digging has now revealed that:

  • The newsletter was written with the help of, perhaps even entirely by, Council staff.
  • The newsletter was printed by the Council.
  • The newsletter was distributed by the estate's caretaker, a Council employee. 

And the photo of the recently anointed Chairman gracing the front of the newsletter was clearly taken in the Council's own offices. Probably by a Council officer (we wonder who?).

The Chairman. In the Council's offices.

That all sounds completely legitimate, doesn't it?

It's not as if we have Council staff effectively pretending to be the estate's Residents Association with the help of one particularly "helpful" resident is it? Of course not.

The newsletter states that a "residents meeting" is to take place this evening in the Cremorne Sheltered Clubroom. 

Again, most of the Resident Association's Committee, including the Resident Association's Secretary, knew nothing about it. It's clearly not a meeting called by the Residents Association in any legitimate fashion.

It hasn't been announced or advertised by the Council in any way. So it doesn't appear to be a Council meeting either, although we understand that a number of Council officers intend to be present (why? what for?).

The agenda is apparently going to include a discussion on the future of the Riley Arms pub, a den of iniquity, drug dealing, fencing stolen goods and other petty criminal behaviour at the end of Ann Lane that blights the lives of those living nearby, both on the estate and on the other side of the Kings Road.

The newsletter's author, whoever that may be, and whoever actually organised this meeting, clearly support whatever plans the pub's owners have for the place.

The Council, the freeholder of the property, appears to do so as well.

The only people who don't are the Resident Association Committee, many of the estate's residents and many of the estate's neighbours (and, unsurprisingly, they haven't been invited).

Does anyone else get the impression that the Council is making use of the newly anointed and clearly compliant RA Chairman to rush through unpopular decisions before the estate's residents, or anyone else affected, can do anything about it?

So much for the Council actually caring for its residents. Or having learnt anything from Grenfell.

We do wonder who at the Council thinks this is a good idea. A bit more digging is clearly in order, and once we start digging we are sure there will be much, much more to follow.

RBK&C dirt ahoy!

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Newsletter #1

A "newsletter" has been delivered across the Cremorne Estate in the last couple of days.

A newsletter from the Residents Association. Possibly.

The newsletter appears to be from the Residents Association. It doesn't actually say it is so we're guessing. But having spoken to several Committee members it appears that none of them were aware that it was even being produced. Everything ship shape there then!

The contents of the newsletter make interesting reading, revealing much about the interests and concerns of those who wrote it. More on that at a later date.

One very short article in the newsletter makes interesting reading.

Under the heading "Resident Safety" the newsletter states:

"Concerns have been raised by some residents about vehicles being parked near gas pipes. Council officers have investigated and found there is no cause for concern." 

What's wrong with this you ask? Well, aside from the fact that no "Council officers" are named, the problem is that the "vehicle" often parked near a gas pipe, and likely to be the subject of these concerns, is a motorbike belonging to none other than the newly anointed Chairman of the Residents Association whose face happens to be plastered all over the newsletter.

The Chairman (photo taken in the Council's offices)

That's right, the owner of the offending "vehicle" is writing to let us know that it's perfectly safe for him to continue to park his motorbike on the pavement next to the gas pipe outside Riley House.

The Chairman's motorbike parked next to the gas pipe outside Riley House. As usual.

We have nothing to worry about.

Because "Council officers" said so.

Is this appropriate? We think not.

Have "Council officers" really investigated and determined that it's perfectly okay to park a motorbike next to a gas pipe?

Who are these "Council officers"? Why aren't they named? Why aren't any contact details provided?

If anyone should be writing to the residents about this it should be Council. Not the owner of the offending motorbike.

There's more than a small conflict of interest here. That no one at the Council appears to have spotted it is worrying. That it did not occur to any of them that this might not be a good idea really does call their judgement into question.

The motivation of the Chairman (motorbike owner) is clear for all to see. He wants to carry on parking where he does. The Council's is a bit of a mystery.

But given that it appears that the Council did in fact have a role in the creation and distribution of this "newsletter" the words "clueless" and "learnt nothing from the Grenfell fire" do come to mind.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

We're back!

We're back because it looks like the Council have plans for us again.

Back in 2014 the Council suggested to TfL that they build a Crossrail 2 station on the site of the Cremorne Estate rather than near Chelsea Fire Station, which had been the proposed site of a station for decades. To hide the truth from us they labelled it "West Chelsea" not "Cremorne Estate".

Why did they do this? We still don't know. We suspect money had more than a little to do with it.

We fought back. The estate fought back. Our neighbours fought with us.

Thankfully that proposal appears to have been shelved. TfL no longer mention "West Chelsea" when talking about Crossrail 2. They're now suggesting there won't be a station in Chelsea at all. Which suits us fine.

Seventy two of our fellow residents died in a terrible fire on the Lancaster West Estate on the 14th of June 2017. The Council now claim they don't have plans to regenerate any estate. We were glad to hear it when they said it but we suspect their new found generosity won't last long. They will once again hear the siren call of regeneration, and the money that comes with it, soon enough.

Which is why recent events are a cause for concern.

A letter has gone out announcing the Resident Association's Annual General Meeting. The letter is written by the Council. From speaking to our neighbours it seems the letter was sent out without the knowledge or consent of the Residents Association.

The Council appear to have taken over the Residents Association.

Now why do you think they would do that?

The Council have plans for us again. We don't know what and we don't know how, but they're back to their old tricks and we're not going to take it lying down.


Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Mayor's London Plan

The Mayor of London and the GLA are currently consulting on the Mayor's new Plan for London.

You can view and comment on the Plan here:

The deadline for the consultation is the 2nd March 2018. 

Having examined the plan some of the maps in Annex One are causing concern.

In particular the map shown below identifies a large number of areas within Kensington and Chelsea, including what appears to be a large area in or around the Cremorne Estate, as a "strategic site for regeneration".

It is unclear how these areas/sites have been identified.

We must assume that the Council must have pointed them out to the GLA.

The GLA's map of "strategic sites for regeneration":

Another map identifies large portions of Chelsea as suitable for residential development, as shown below.

The GLA's map of sites suitable for residential development:

The Council must identify the locations and boundaries of these areas. 

We encourage everyone to respond to the consultation. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

New Crossrail 2 Consultation

Transport for London are conducting another consultation on Crossrail 2.

The question relevant to Kings Road / Chelsea is question 20.

The consultation is available online here:

The consultation closes on the 8th of January 2016.

There is still no indication as to precisely where on the Kings Road the station would be located.

TfL Feasibility Study

Transport for London carried out and published a feasibility study in October.

The results of the feasibility study are summarised in the table below:

Table 1a (click to zoom in) 

Table 1b (click to zoom in)

It is clear that the final site of the proposed station has yet to be determined.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Comments in the Press

There are concerns with regard to the recent comments made in the press by those campaigning against the construction of a Crossrail 2 station on the site of Chelsea Fire Station.

From the London Weekly News:

"… residents spearheading the grassroots campaign accused the council of performing a “complete volte face” on previously-agreed plans for a site in West Chelsea near the Cremorne Estate and misleading residents for the sake of an “extravagant and wasteful scheme”."

Regret is being expressed that a station has not been built in West Chelsea near the Cremorne Estate.

Claims have also been made with regard to the Council's own consultation which are misleading:

"It was revealed that “only 32 per cent” of residents had backed the proposals for a station on the fire station site when consulted by the council, with the rest calling for no station at all or one in the west."

But our own analysis of the data collected by the Council during its own consultation exercise into Crossrail 2 carried out between May and August 2013 suggests that 59%, not 32%, supported the proposal to locate the station on the site of the Chelsea Fire Station.

The article from the London Weekly News can be downloaded here.

The article from Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Today can be downloaded here.

New Plan for Crossrail brings back the Dame's Wartime Memories

An article recently appeared on the Hornet in relation to a new potential site for the Crossrail 2 station in Chelsea:

Following on from last week's rather interesting meeting of the "No Crossrail in Chelsea" campaign at Chelsea Old Town Hall the Dame's spies tell her that nefarious activity is once again afoot.

Word has reached the Dame that some of those opposing the station are no longer suggesting that Chelsea doesn't need a station, merely that it should go elsewhere. Not in their back yard, someone else's. We have been here before.

They are telling anyone who'll listen that the station should be relocated to the site of the old Chelsea and Fulham railway station, between the Kings Road and Fulham Road, just south of Stamford Bridge.

Being a bit of an old wartime bird the Dame does recall the old Chelsea and Fulham railway station. Nice as it was it was closed after being bombed in the war and never reopened.

Now the Dame doesn't know much about trains but those who do don't seem to think that this a particularly good idea.

The site is apparently too far to the west. TfL has previously rejected suggestions to locate the Crossrail 2 station near Imperial Wharf, claiming the route from Clapham to Victoria would then be too long and the curve of the line too great. A proposal where the line would end up even longer and the curve even greater would appear to have no legs.

And the old Chelsea and Fulham station was built upon long ago. 

There is Council housing to the west of the railway line, the Wandon Estate in Wandon Road, and a private development to the east, the Kings development at 552 Kings Road.

Given last summer's events any proposal that results in the loss of homes is risky at best, foolish at worst. It is only a matter of time before accusations of social cleansing and shipping people to Dagenham start to fly.

The Dame's spies are baffled as to why those who oppose the station don't stick to opposing the station, exactly as they had proposed at their meeting. That, at least, is a plan that all of Chelsea's residents might be convinced to support. Sneakily trying to stick it in someone else's back yard (again) isn't. 

The original story is at:

The story had attracted over 140 comments at the time of writing. 

A second story has since appeared on the Hornet: "Crossrail 2 ... the last word".