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Thursday, 22 June 2017



Dear Members,

A journalist has approached the Kensington Society with the specific interest in “a tale of two cities” – two Kensingtons.  I asked our president, Nick Ross, if he could respond.  Please see below his reply:

Amanda tells me you wanted to do a story on a divided community in Kensington, and perhaps one about fire safety.

On the first, though I know editors generally aren’t keen on nuance, a warning about clich├ęs. There aren’t two communities in Kensington; there are many, and sometimes few in the sense that neighbours might not know each other well. It’s true there are very big wealth disparities in close geographical proximity, with Kensington and Chelsea having some of the most expensive housing in Britain, though arguably that’s better than having rich boroughs separated from poor ones. It’s also true there is a general wealth gap between the north and the south of the borough, although there is social housing mixed with private housing in every ward. It’s not true to say than only poor people live in high rise, or that the Grenfell tragedy was caused because of the wealth gap. Flats are on sale in Campden Hill Towers, one of the tallest blocks in the borough, at over £1m for little more than 800 sq feet - and that tower block doesn’t have sprinklers either.

What’s more Labour councillors and Labour ministers have been as slow about updating fire regulations, and as resistant to requiring sprinklers, as Conservative ones. I’ve been to see three ministers over the past thirteen years, urging the compulsory fitting of sprinklers in all social housing, and the Labour ones were as dismissive as the Tories. It’s true Kensington and Chelsea were like rabbits in headlights when the catastrophe unfolded, but I suspect most other boroughs, run by any or all political parties, are just as bad about contingency planning for this sort of thing. It’s true RBKC have huge financial reserves, and it’s questionable whether that’s a sensible policy given there is so much deprivation in the borough, but it’s also true that the decisions on how to upgrade Grenfell were taken by a committee with a big majority of tenants and independent members.

So it would be good if you could avoid oversimplifications.

The disgrace about Grenfell is actually complicated. While I and many fire chiefs have been passionate about sprinklers and are angry about what has happened – and you may have seen from Monday’s Panorama the specific warnings given to ministers by the All Party group, as I did to the Local Government Association in 2013 – nevertheless some other fire experts were half-hearted and wondered, given that fire deaths were declining for many years, whether it was worth the investment. Chief fire and rescue advisers to successive governments neither pressed hard for updating building regulations or for fitting sprinklers at least on the most vulnerable housing, and nor did they resign over what I saw as safety lapses. They were all good people, all trying to balance risk against expenditure. I disagreed with them and I think they gave bad advice, but they were not evil and they should not be cast as villains.

The task now is to make sure this never happens again. You could help by pressing the case for sprinklers, especially in social housing where there is often multi-occupation, where people tend not to afford the most up to date electrical equipment, and more residents tend to smoke more. We also need them in care homes, hospitals and schools – in fact everywhere where people rely on someone else for their own safety. Most of the 300 or so who die from fire each year do so in low-rise, so let’s not get fixated on tower block, cladding or ventilation systems, important as they are. No one has ever died in a home protected by a sprinkler. They’re cheap, at around £1,200 to £2,000 per dwelling, around the same as fitted carpets. In around 95% of cases they control the fire before the fire brigade arrives, only one sprinkler head triggers at a time as needed, they cause far less water damage, and they almost never go wrong. At Grenfell they would have put the fire out before it spread, and even if flames got unnoticed to the cladding, sprinklers would have stopped it gaining a foothold in other flats and would have washed the smoke from stairways and kept the temperatures down.

The real story is not one about a divided community but about how, with fire safety, it always takes a tragedy to get us all to act: north, south, rich, poor, left and right.

All good wishes.
Nick Ross, President
The Kensington Society

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Holgate has to resign, yet Sir 'Delboy' Derek Myers gets a K! 

It's appalling that Holgate's head should roll in this way.

Dear Dame

Yesterday, 20th June, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government required the Leader of RBKC to seek Nicholas Holgate's resignation.

Yours sincerely

Anon KC employee


John McDonnell has suggested members of the IRA active units be 'honoured'....even those who bombed working class areas where children were present.
.....and before people start saying the Dame is anti Oirish...her ggrandfather was a leading Sinn Feiner from Ballina, Co Mayo and arrested by the British.

Those Mayo men would have shot those who killed children.

 "It's about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table." John McDonnell

This may be what McDonnell means..."Three-year-old Johnathan Ball died at the scene. He had been in town with his babysitter, shopping for a Mother's Day card. 
The second victim, 12-year-old Tim Parry died on 25 March 1993. 54 other people were injured, four of them seriously." 

Why are people so shocked? McDonnell comes, via Liverpool, of pure bred Irish Provo stock. 

He even considered a priestly vocation........and that
might have something to do with his reputation as an extreme misogynist.

McDonnell hates the English with a passion. 
That passion is vented in supporting the mass demonstration today.

The results of the recent election show that democracy works in this country. 

But that's not good enough for McDonnell.

The demonstration today will distract the police and the other services protecting Londoners against more terrorist atrocities.

The police and emergency services have enough to do without having to marshal crowds with malice on their minds. 

Let's not beat around the bush....

McDonnell gives the great Labour Party a really bad rap.

The great Labour leaders of the past must be turning in their graves...

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Dear Dame

The Met have served notice on RBKC that a criminal investigation has started and ordered the preservation of all documentation that pertains to Grenfell Tower.  A bit late IMO as I suspect the reason that Kensington Town Hall (KTH) was not only closed at the weekend, but off limits to ALL staff, was so that the shredders could go into overdrive without pesky witnesses.  I've worked at KC (based at KTH) for 25+ years and have NEVER known this to happen.

Re the Met's investigation, KC have retained expert advisors (I understand that a dozen or so QCs were to have attended tomorrow) to prepare for the investigation and Public Enquiry.  Given that the Town Hall is to shut "for safety reasons" tomorrow (Wednesday), I guess the silks will have wasted their journey.

Yours sincerely

Anon KC employee


Dear Dame

I found this interesting page from original 2012 refurbishment Grenfell Tower application.

It quite clearly shows that the decision on the type of cladding was in the hands of the Planning Dept at that time run by Jonathan Bore.
Yours sincerely
(name withheld)


Click to enlareg

Monday, 19 June 2017


Once upon a time, there was a most unpleasant leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council. 
His name was Nicholas Freeman and even has a prize named for him!

Freeman's grand plan was to build a pretentiously vulgar new Town Hall and nothing was going to get in his way; after all, the great Sir Basil Spence had shown him plans for the hideous monstrosity in Hornton St.
It would be replete with armorial bearings of past and present mayors(some mayors never had enough dosh to get that sorted!) and space for the Mayoral Roller and Jag....oh, and a vast Leader's Office.
Very common

There was just one slight problem....dosh again. 
Where was the dosh to come from to build this municipal Kubla Khan style palace?
Freeman decided he would quickly bulldoze the Old Town Hall. 
However, fuddy-duddy lovers of Victorian architecture got wind of it and applied for a listing. Undeterred and over the weekend, Freeman sent in the bulldozers(yes, a bit like the Odeon in the High Street).

By Monday, there was nothing left.
So, the new Town Hall was built on the proceeds of a criminal action.

More Gossip from the Town Hall...

The Dame hears that Cllr Tim 'Oirish' Ahern has been 'pepping' up the staff, telling them it's all ok and in any case there are over 450 towers in the UK with similar cladding.
Tim's ex wife is 'social alpinist' and Yorkshire ex-copper's daughter, Phillipa Rose.
Poor old Pippa has been fingered by HMRC and told she owes millions for the film finance 'investment' that went wrong.
Tim was a shareholder in her now defunct head hunting operation so might be feeling the pinch.


Dear Dame

I went to the service at St Mary Abbots today.

Despite the intense heat the splendid firemen and police were in their heavy uniforms. 
Young Mr. Feilding Mellen decided to model the cool summer days look with open neck shirt and what we, in our younger days, would call 'sports slacks'.
I will be having a word with his mum to suggest 
her son dress more appropriately for formal civic occasions commemorating the lost lives of residents: after all, if the firemen could take the trouble to dress in formal attire so could the deputy leader....very poor form, dear Dame,

Ever yours,

Lady M........y

Sunday, 18 June 2017


In 2013 the leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was none other than that awful
political poseur, Sir Merrick 'Pooter' Cockell.
Pooter had a phenomenal record for expense claiming on international 'fact finding' sprees...until the Dame put a stop to his little games killing off his hopes of a peerage.
Pooter Playing Elder Statesman!

Money mad Pooter was at one time triple jobbing on the taxpayer to such an extent that he was earning more than the PM!

Nothing gave Pooter greater pleasure than being driven around in the mayor's new Bentley and hobnobbing with rich property magnates.

Not bad for an ex-fag salesman with not a qualification to his name. 
Pompous Pooter has now re-invented himself as a lobbyist and an adviser to PA Consulting (thanks to his mate, Jon Moynihan)
Obviously, the last thing Pooter wants is to be dragged into the Grenfell Tower tragedy so we need to make clear this threatening letter, to Eddie Daffern of Grenfell Action Group, was sent out in July 2013 and Pooter resigned in May, 2013 so that's ok then....