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.
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 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!