Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Good ...


We sweated blood for a brilliant result in May; thanks to everyone who helped us achieve this.





Some of the wonderful things we have achieved with Ward Initiative funds and lots of help and support from residents.


























A well-earned Mayor's Award for our Keef, Keith Stirling of Wornington Green who does such great work for his residents of all ages.


Victory of a kind ... just 19 votes away from snatching a Councillor in Tory heartland of Chelsea. Mabel and her family and team inspired us all; Harriet Harman attended our pub quiz. Heady days.

The Bad


Families ripped out of their homes. KHT says they are 'happy' with their new homes; they aren't.













A symbol of the terrible goings-on at Wornington Green, Mrs M and her great-grandchildren. They took her to Court and would have evicted her if she hadn't moved out by 15 Dec; she hadn't moved because her flat wasn't ready. Then KHT denied it all in the press. Another dark day.


KHT engage new tactics to get residents on side - by breaking into then locking them out of their own Residents' Room and refusing to give them the new key.


Sometimes Tory Councillors say what they mean by mistake. This was a classic by a son and heir of the 'sucessor generation', stigmatising a respectable family neighbourhood to justify its demolition.


Finally the message got through that what we had predicted in February would come to pass. The Standard published an article, and it was on ITN News.

and The Ugly


The 'former' CEO of Kensington Housing Trust signs away his soul.


The PM has a magic mirror.


'The greenest government ever', yeah right.


Will the Council stop at nothing to save cash?


KHT staff - and former staff - tell it like it is.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Yet another fine mess from the former KHT


In a week that has seen the last resident moved out of Munro Mews before demoliton, landlord/developer Kensington Housing Trust have once again surpassed themselves.

Having refused for over a year to accept responsibility for a homeless family, after much persistence by myself and the family, KHT moved them into a temporary flat just in time for Christmas ... but without heating or hot water.

Yet more tales of unfairness and inconsistency as some decantees state they have had standard new kitchens fitted for no charge, some have been bit charged 'a bit' for a style of finish they actually wanted, some have been charged full whack for particular finishes, and others have had precisely what they wanted at no charge whatever. Message to residents in Phase 1b - it's worth making a nuisance of yourself!

For their final trick of the year (but there's a full ten days to go) KHT wrote to all residents stating that because of yet another b**ls-up the planning application may have to be withdrawn and resubmitted with Condition 42 removed, but they don't have time to meet this condition. IF we have this right, Condition 42 requires KHT to submit full design details of how they intend to attain Sustainability Code Level 3 in the first phase.

For the record, ladles and jellyspoons, as you can see in this table, they should be meeting Level 4 minimum in the first phase, and Level 6 by the end of the whole development. They have been allowed to build the first bit of the first phase to Level 3 because the combined heating and power system will not be operational till later. Now they are saying they 'don't have time' to go through the design stage of even meeting Level 3!



The danger is that, if - and it's a likely 'IF' to those who have watched KHT crumble in direct proportion to the amount they spend on PR - the buildings when finished do NOT meet Level 3, they would not be allowed to hand them over for occupation. And frankly, given the number of abandoned and empty developments already in the neighbourhood, this is the very last thing we need. A demotivated workforce, senior staff on the way out, a merger with a parent company, none of this looks good for the future of the 'exciting new urban quarter' of Portobello Bottom.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Great Granny Maunders: symbol of Wornington Green


More porkies from Kensington Housing Trust as they told the local papers that great-granny Mrs M, left, had been spared Court as she had agreed to sign a Consent Order agreeing to move on 15 December. This is simply not true; the Consent Order means that if she doesn't move that day - the only reason for that being that KHT haven't finished her flat - they can get the bailiffs in straight away to evict her. Wonderful how people twist the truth, isn't it?


Meanwhile, to the utter frustration of all residents on Wornington Green, not only those being shunted about, stories are emerging about what kind of homes will really be available for them once each phase of the development is done. People who have been promised they would decant back into the first phase are now being told 'Maybe'. People being told they would have two bedrooms are now being told 'or perhaps one'. As staff posts are being slashed left, right and centre, rumours state the misManaging Director is being ousted next year and will take up a career as a Tory politician, while the maintenance manager and his entire team have been put on 'indefinite leave' among reports of alleged fraud and receiving backhanders. Residents have been telling me this for YEARS; I reported it but the MD did not believe me.


And what's it all for? 'An exciting new urban quarter' the PR says. Residents calls it 'Portobello Bottom', about as drab and dull as a wet February afternoon, with some notable failures such as the new shops on the 'bello and flats above; just peculiar. Hardly the 'conservation area of the future' that was aspired to. It is unbelievably mediocre, hardly fitting for the first major estate development in K&C, especially right on one of our greatest tourist attractions. Is it worth destroying a community for this?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Happiness is a 9H bus


David Cameraman cheerily announces it will be worth every penny of £2m to find out just how happy we are as a nation, while K&C Top Tories believe the answer to happiness is a Routemaster bus. However much did that cost? There can never have been a week when the great divide between the 'rich but utterly thick' and the rest of the population was underlined so dramatically.


The bright-eyed passionate students interviewed on tv showed miles more intelligence and integrity (not counting the few intent on criminal damage)than this yellow Tory, outed as the worst kind of liar and now cheerfully willing to be used as the government's human shield for their worst atrocities.


Cameron said during the election 'Time for a change'. Well, be careful what you wish for, I say.

Friday, 12 November 2010

'CHIN-CHIN' caption competition



Send me your captions, speech or think bubbles.

Winner gets published and praised.

Be bold.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Kensington Housing Trust's April Fool Prankster was right: 'something' was missing


Catalyst Housing Group have announced they are to merge with Kensington Housing Trust and Fortunegate, for 'greater efficiency'; a bit of management and maintenance wouldn't have gone amiss.

Given their abysmal track record as a landlord and the state of their financial affairs this is no surprise to me. I have been monitoring their accounts and quite frankly they are shocking. Catalyst are mortgaged up to their necks and are servicing massive loans of nearly half a billion; they have received three-quarters of a billion in Social Housing Grant. They spend more on interest payments than they do on maintaining stock; they state they need to double their stock in three years to bring in £20m/year profit just to keep going.

KHT, a notoriously awful landlord, is selling off street properties (£2.5m/year) to subsidise interest payments. They are totally reliant for survival on Social Housing Grant (£139m 2009/10), which they will see no more of during this government. They have capital commitments of nearly £100m this year, all being paid by Catalyst; what a mess. It seems the April Fools prankster who turned their offices into a ‘crime scene’ had the inside story; we were the fools, for not understanding what it meant.

I have no idea what this means for Wornington Green, but frankly I think it unlikely this is the last we will hear of this; this reorganisation will not save enough to put them back in the black.’

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

We have been ripened for self-sacrifice


It has to be said that the BigCon/FibDems have been studying the masters when honing their PR assault leading to the devastating cuts they are visiting upon the electorate. Over the months we have been ripened for self-sacrifice by feelings of guilt over supposedly profligate spending, and are now being asked to take part in a potentially humiliating public act of faith - just like their Human Shields, the former LibDems.

Eric Hoffer in his book The True Believer says that the prerequisites of mass movements are frustration and a feeling of helplessness, and that offering 'the prospect of spectacular change can be attractive, and the most powerful factor is that of hope ... All mass movements deprecate the present by depicting it as a mean preliminary to a glorious future .. an ignoble episode preceding the final triumph'.

The Auto de Fe depicted by Goya above is a public humiliation and demonstration of faith that was part of the Spanish Inquisition. The accused are stripped of their individuality and vanities and make public statements of commitment and faith. It might not stop them being tortured to death though.

In any event we must hold true and not believe that just because it hurts now, it will get better later. The BigCon/FibDems are messing with our minds; they want us to forget it was the bankers who did for the world economy. If we don't fight back with honesty and integrity, plus a little cunning, they will make fools of us all.

Friday, 8 October 2010

THE TRUTH AT LAST: Kensington and Chelsea to be a no-go area for the poor


Up to 10,000 people may be moved out of the borough unless the Council takes immediate action. Cuts planned by the Con/FibDems to Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance and Temporary Accommodation subsidy will hit over 4,000 households, many of whom will have to find an extra £100 a week or more to stay in their homes – or face eviction. Labour councillors are challenging the Tories and FibDems - who bizarrely are to argue against their own government's policy - at the October Council meeting.

Labour has been warning since February that the Tories' proposed cuts would mean the enforced migration of many of the poorest residents out of the borough to ‘low demand’ (ie cheaper) parts of London - or right out of London - but were accused of scaremongering. However LibDem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes has recently admitted ‘we might have to send people to cheaper parts, even if they don’t like it’.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said: ‘people will have to move to find alternative homes that they can afford’. This has all been confirmed in a report to the September Housing, Health and Adult Social Care Committee, which concluded: ‘The potential for central London and the Royal Borough to effectively become a residential no-go for anybody on a low income looking to rent is real .. [including] long-standing families who may have lived in the borough all of their lives’.

So, has the Council carried out a social equality impact assessment on this policy as required by legislation? Do they realise it is against their own Community Strategy and equality scheme ‘Towards an Inclusive Kensington and Chelsea’?

The report confirms that the poorest people, including many women and ethnic minority groups, will be worst hit. It will disrupt the lives and education of thousands of children, and force keyworkers to move elsewhere for jobs. It is blatant social cleansing. Meanwhile the Tories will lick their lips with glee at finally being able to make Kensington and Chelsea the playboys' playground they are so desperate to create.’

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

DEATH BY 1,000 CUTS: the future of social housing in Kensington and Chelsea


Since the ConDem government told Councils in July to ignore housing targets set by Labour, we hear that a shocking 100,000 new homes have already been cancelled. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles calls the targets ‘soviet’, preferring a more ‘consensual’ system, which like that other ‘con’ of consultation sounds more like spin than policy.

In any event this will make little difference in Kensington and Chelsea, as the Council was already refusing to accept these targets. The severe overcrowding and shortage of socially rented family sized homes in the borough - to which the ‘consensual’ solution is splitting up families – together with the issue of secure tenancies, might cause the ConDem government to self-combust. Meanwhile the future of shared ownership – which was supported by Labour’s Homebuy funds – is also under threat.

All of which, as we feared and warned the electorate during the election, will do nothing to reduce Council waiting lists and will trap in social rented homes those who might previously have been able to afford shared ownership. They however will be forced to move out of social housing as they will be deemed ‘too rich’, while our poorest and most vulnerable residents and those with children will not be able to afford the homes their neighbours have just moved out of because of Housing Benefit cuts. They will also be thrown into the housing abyss leaving whole swathes of Council and housing association property empty to be sold off; which is already happening right under our noses.

Meanwhile some housing associations are also under stress. Genesis, who owns Paddington Churches, had to selling off a half-finished development beside the canal near Trellick Tower. Catalyst, who owns Kensington Housing Trust, is shuddering under the weight of loans totalling a gob-smacking £250m. Half of this dates from the heady days of 2001, and half in less certain times in 2008 just as the property market had peaked and was beginning its downward slide.

Kensington Housing Trust, struggling with the early stages of the Wornington Green development, needed £30m pumped into it. Insiders now tell us that KHT is braced in anticipation of the possible ConDem trashing of the Low Carbon Building Programme, as part of the comprehensive spending review in October. This scheme funds the photovoltaic cells they are sticking on roofs to get the essential Code 3 Sustainability ticket they need for Phase 1a of Wornington Green. The Labour government had supported the installation of pv cells with generous grants and ‘feed-in’ tariffs for surplus electricity sold back to the National Grid. If this is cut the development, which is teetering on a knife-edge of financial viability, will be scuppered.

As rumours abound that KHT is spending more on PR, spin and consultation at Wornington Green than on repairs and maintenance, the much-loathed development is looking increasingly doomed.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Self-Servatives Need Not Apply


New logo needed for Tories, see my Facebook Group 'New Tory Logo'

Back in wet North Ken, but still reflecting on how Spain's Partido Popular (right wing opposition) has been ripped to shreds by a series of political scandals that has brought down mayors (murder of predecessor) Councillors (planning backhanders) and presidents of various regions (bribery and corruption, one going down for 15 years), plus dubious party donations from construction companies.

The accused, according to El Pais, 'deny everything, belittle expert findings, and find a group of misfits to blame'. Given also the gradual collapse of Berlusconi's 'Party of Love' - or rather, of financial self-interest - and Nick Clegg's blatant trading of principles for power, and you wonder why any person of integrity would want to enter politics at present.

So, how do we get the 'right people' to come forward? Should we put on their application form: 'Do you agree with the following statement: "I wish to help others, not to help myself" ?'.

Our ConDem government, in true Tory style, punishes the victims of social injustice while rewarding, with tax breaks and other incentives, the businessmen and bankers who have perpetrated it. In the meantime, Cameron's 'Big Society' - called by El Pais 'pompous and entirely free of meaningful detail' - relies on public-spirited citizens to fill the boots of 'redundant' public sector workers. Why would anyone want to join Cameron's volunteer army? Can the job spec state: Self-servatives need not apply?

Friday, 6 August 2010

¿THE END OF RIGHT TO BUY?

Still on hols but have been reading El Pais´ take on the ConDem housing policy that threatens anyone who needs to live in social rented housing for longer than five years. (By the way El Pais also dislikes Cameron.)

So, let´s take an average family living in a two-bed flat in Golborne. Let´s say there are two parents, one working part-time very locally. The two young adults of the family, who have to share a room, are both gainfully occupied, one working in Nu-Line (though their job may be at risk because of the building industry failing) and the other doing an apprenticeship at a local college. Maybe one gets sick and needs treatment. But they might still be considered ´TOO RICH´for social housing.

OF COURSE as there are in theory four people working, they will be able to afford a three-bedroom home near their work and college. It would only cost about 750,000 pounds (no pound signs on Spanish keyboards). Minimum. So they will have to eff off to outer Brent or outer East Ham. No more jobs or training for them.

And what about Right to Buy¿? I haven´t seen any comments on the future of this scheme, which like it or not, kept local families in the community when they could afford to put a bit back in and kept neighbourhoods neighbourly. Whatever will be the future for those who have already exercised their Right to Buy, or who have then sold on the open market, when estates become ´ghettoes of fear and paranoia´as a certain Tory so lovingly considers them¿?

BRILLIANTLY THOUGHT THROUGH AS ALWAYS. Grant Shapps, really has his hand on the um helicopter joystick.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

THOUGHTS FROM VALENCIA REGION

I just can´t keep away from the news, and can´t bear the thought of returning from hols to 700 emails, so while my daughter is giggling on Facebook at the internet cafe I try to keep up to date with events at home and scan my emails for anything urgent.

One of my guilty pleasures when away is reading two day-old Daily Mails (yes, I know), but if I hadn´t I wouldn´t know just how much the paper loathes David Cameron. Brilliant! However, it is evident that they vastly prefer the politics of David Davies and Malcolm (´Rifles´) Rifkind, so if ´call me Dave´ is ever winkled out of Downing Street (which Mrs C hates) we will get someone EVEN WORSE.

Meanwhile the expat scene here in Valencia Region and right down the coast is all gloom and doom. Many retirees are suffering the effects of reductions in pension income, their properties are worth little even if they could sell them, Spain´s recession is deep and wide and innumerable major projects are being frozen for up to four years. So the local British Consulate is setting up a helpline and charity for expats who can no longer manage financially. One option is to send them home! Ads are appearing in local English papers offering static caravan homes, not ideal even if they could afford them. So, NOT a good idea; they would anyway be sent back to work.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Golborne Market - Alive and Cooking


I am increasingly frustrated with the activities of certain members of the community who, apparently for political reasons, have talked down Portobello Market to the extent that visitors are being told that the Council, or 'they', are actually closing the market down. One unhappy tourist, who believed the rubbish they had found on the 34,000 Facebook site, even wrote to THE QUEEN to ask her to intervene in the closing down of the market.

My colleague Councillor Pat Mason spoke about this at the Council meeting on 23.6.10, and here is the link so you can read it: the links have gone pearshaped, you will have to cut and paste: www.golbornelabourcouncillors.co.uk

The Council has indeed been weak and confused - to an extraordinarily unhelpful degree - in its message about the market, but there is no way it intends to shut it down. While we go about educating the Council on how to deal with this, I would like to put out another message about the market.

I luuuurrrve markets, and our Golborne and Portobello Markets in particular, and have visited several times a week for nearly a quarter century. I have also studied the history of the market, which goes 'way' back. There are peaks and troughs, and if, for some mysterious reason not unconnected to global recession, the antiques section of the market is struggling, that is very very hard for the traders there and they have my total sympathy, but this WILL change soon. There are still plenty of visitors and they will start spending very soon rather than just looking - soon enough I hope for you all to survive.

A bit further north, however, things are different. Golborne Market, which encompasses Golborne Road and the upper reaches of Portobello (what I like to call 'Upper Portobello' to stop people calling it 'THE BOTTOM') is enjoying a renaissance as foodie heaven.

The hot food stalls there, some there all week and others Thurs, Fri and Saturday, are just amazing with fabulous and economically priced food and the most amazing atmosphere as you can watch your meal or snack being prepped and cooked before your eyes. This is quite exciting as many of the ingredients are locally sourced, locally cooked, and of course, locally consumed.

A new enterprise here, which we hope will reinvigorate the section of Portobello just north of Golborne Road, is the Global Food market, involving some of the local eateries, which we hope will consolidate the fantastic work other hot food stalls have done along Golborne Road.


So, Golborne Market - alive and cooking. Come and eat with us when you have finished your market shopping.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Kensington Housing Trust: THEY KNEW ...


Time is running out - but for who? Kensington Housing Trust officers are telling residents that if they do not accept the decants or permanent homes they are offered, they will be EVICTED. I predicted this in an earlier blog. (OK, I'm not psychic, this was LEAKED to me.) Many residents are very very scared. One resident has had a stroke, which is no surprise because the officers can be plain NASTY, even when a witness is present. One resident was told 'we will get the police and throw you out of your house'.

They are saying residents will get a Notice of Seeking Possession and get taken to court to be evicted, and they even put this in a recent Wornington News even though THEY KNEW that parts of the planning application are being redesigned and have to go back to Planning in September. So no one needs to leave their home until later in the year earliest, IF everything goes according to their plan. THEY KNEW that residents do not have to leave yet, there is no hurry, but they published ridiculous timelines stating they should be out by end July.

THEY KNEW this was not true.

But the joke may be on KHT. They have already had some of the funds from the Homes and Communities Agency towards Phase 1a, but this is only half the money they need to start, and the new government is slashing funding. THEY MIGHT NOT GET ANY MORE MONEY.


***STOP PRESS*** COME TO THE COMMUNITY PICNIC IN ATHLONE GARDENS, SATURDAY 5 JUNE, 3PM TO 5PM ONWARDS, RAIN OR SHINE.

BRING YOUR OWN PICNIC, RUGS, KIDS, GRANNIES, NEIGHBOURS, POP-UP TENTS, PARK GAMES, AND RELAX IN OUR BEAUTIFUL PARK.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Worst Imaginable North Ken Landlord awards

Having just been re-elected for another four years in Golborne Ward with a doubled majority, we pledge to pursue inadequate landlords operating in North Kensington. No one should have to live with the results of such blatant incompetence. North Kensington Councillors hereby declare open season on bad stewardship. We mean to carry on as we started, by publicising on behalf of local residents the 'WINKLE' Awards, that were selected by Housing Experts.

INTRODUCING 'THE WORST IMAGINABLE NORTH KEN LANDLORD AWARDS'
The WINKLE Awards 2010 have been made after careful consideration by Housing Experts, to honour the level of care and maintenance of tenants in North Kensington, in four categories:
EMPTY HOMES
WORST OF THE WORST
ENVIRONMENT
EXTERIORS
The winners of the awards will be presented with Gold, Silver or Bronze Battered Paladin Awards, and the runner-up will receive a Black Bin-Bag Award.

Entries have come in from:
RBKC Council (RBKC)
Kensington Housing Trust (KHT)
Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG)
Paddington Churches Housing Association (PCHA)
Westway Development Trust

FIRST CATEGORY:
WORST IMAGINABLE NORTH KEN LANDLORD AWARDS: EMPTY HOMES


First prize
RBKC, for their shocking untruths about Elm Park Gardens' basements. They are developing them to 'create new social housing from storage rooms' (to avoid tax), by selling off half. However, they have been lived in quite recently, so it was a porkie pie of the first order. OK not in North Ken, but it reduces our housing stock.


Second prize
RBKC again, for a rather sneaky 'writing a report on this building and if no other use can be found we will put it on the open market'. SO, why does the Council state there is nowhere to put additional social housing, then consider selling off a HUGE corner mansion with garden in W10 that could house several families??





Third prize
A worthy winner in KHT. This is 36 Faraday Road, that used to have six flats. It has been empty for months and months. When challenged they say, 'we are going to convert it'. Into what exactly?? We are watching ....





Fourth prize
A double for KHT. Just one example of a street property that has quietly been sold off, reducing the social housing stock yet again and raking in millions for the allegedly cash-strapped RSL. This is just one of several. We're watching ....

Second Category: Worst Imaginable North Ken Landlord Awards: 'The Worst of the Worst


This image says it all - doesn't it? The owner of this car has got so accustomed to have pigeons poop on it that he has been forced to create a pigeon-poop-cover. Residents asked over and again to have the area treated, to no avail. A quite exceptional entry by KHT.




This is what these awards are all about - a paladin battered to oblivion, overflowing with rubbish. Can be seen on just about any forecourt of any social landlord. Repulsive, unhygienic and unnecessary. Another top prize for KHT.









A street property in Ladbroke. You might think the house is derelict, but no, some unlucky people live there. Another flawless entry from KHT.







This quite spectacular security door, if indeed it is worthy of the name, is just one of many. No wonder kids get in and cause mischief in this block - KHT, residents are asking, when will you fix this??








Judging by the slime, algae and moss, this is not the first time this hopper has overflowed. It needs clearing out - so clear it out. KHT yet again.









This damp in a clothes cupboard is just one example of a flat that is riddled with damp because the landlord refuses to clear gutters and downpipes of years of gunk. A child sleeps a few feet away. Congratulations to KHT.

Third Category - Worst Imaginable North Ken Landlord awards: Environment


First prize
A blast from the past from KHT on a Wornington Green staircase; they continue their love affair with pigeons at The Boathouse Centre next to Sainsburys, which is generously bespattered with pigeon guano, quite disgusting and a health hazard.






Second prize
A typical basement entrance from NHHG, dank, mouldy, filled with rubbish. People live there.







Third prize
Westway Development Trust never fail to surprise with their weekly displays of visitor rubbish on Portobello Green: 'some people don't know how to use bins' is their defence!







Fourth prize
A favourite for some years now - how much more battering will this 'security' door take before it falls apart? A spectacular entry from KHT.