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Monday, 27 June 2016


"Claims of asset stripping are junk

The proper answer to recent claims of asset stripping is show me the teapot.

Asset stripping is a less serious charge than social cleansing I suppose and for that at least I am grateful. But it’s irritating nonetheless that yet again an ugly charge has been levelled against the Council that has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Call me old-fashioned but I think serious claims ought to be backed up by serious evidence. Cleverer men than I have made the same point, and far more elegantly. Carl Sagan said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

Christopher Hitchens offered us Hitchen’s Razor: what is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. But my personal favourite is Russell’s teapot. Bertrand Russell pointed out that it is really up to the person who says there is a celestial teapot orbiting the Sun to prove it, not for me to disprove it.

Now I know these big-brained chaps were making a larger point, but their logic is just as sound on the somewhat smaller stage of Kensington and Chelsea. If you are going to protest outside North Kensington Library saying that the Council is “closing the library”; that it is leasing the building to its friends “on the cheap” and “asset stripping the community of all its public spaces” then there ought to be some sort of evidential test to pass before your claims are taken seriously. Let’s apply that test now, taking the largest claim first.

The Council is stripping North Kensington of its assets: the Council has recently built a state-of-the-art leisure centre and a brand-new academy. It has re-built Middle Row Primary School (now Ark Brunel Primary Academy); it intends to re-build Barlby Primary School, to build a brand-new school for children for special needs nearby and to add hundreds of new homes in North Kensington. And, oh yes, the Council has also painstakingly assembled the case for a station on the Elizabeth line at Kensal Portobello. I could go on, but I won’t because the point is made: claims of asset stripping are the purest junk.

The Council is closing North Kensington Library: er no, it isn’t. It is actually building a fine new library not 50 yards from the old one that, in library terms, will in every way be better than the old. Yes, the current library is a listed building but it doesn’t work as well as it should for its visitors. It was built at a time when architects simply didn’t consider the needs of the disabled, the elderly, or parents with prams. Spread over three floors it is not nearly accessible enough.

The library is being leased “on the cheap”: residents are not only getting a new library; they are going to continue to benefit mightily from the old one. That is staying in overall public ownership and being let on a 25-year lease to the prep school next door to provide places that are in great demand in Kensington and Chelsea.

Thanks to our hard-nosed approach our property income has soared from £3.8 million in 2010-11 to £10.5 million in 2016-17. So be in no doubt, there have been no mate’s rates. We have negotiated a good deal on the old library that will help fund our vital services as we go into our sixth year of austerity.

There. Job done I hope. Despite the passionate intensity with which they were made, the claims of closures, asset stripping, mate’s rates, and social cleansing for that matter, are no more real than Russell’s planet-sized samovar."

Herr Paget-Brahn


  1. Just an example of asset stripping - voluntary and community organisations are being cast out of Canalside House (with great transport links) and shuffled off to an obscure building in Latimer Road that has no public transport access (as the Council refuses to support a new station at Westway Circus). Canalside House will be demolished and replaced by more luxury housing, for more foreign investors and money launderers attracted by the massive drop in sterling - Brexit being supported by the majority of our Tory councillors (note: K+C voted overwhelmingly for Remain).

    1. What about the historic Westway Information Centre recently handed over to the Notting Hill Prep School? Now the Notting Hill Prep School want both the Information Centre and the much loved library building to spread their tentacles all over Ladbroke Grove. All supported by Cllr Feilding Mellen who has his children's names down to attend the exclusive Notting Hill Prep School.

    2. Yes, and let's not forget the Maxilla Nursery and Children's Centre. Closed down in 2015 by the RBKC and the Westway Trust. Services previously housed at Maxilla now occupying community rooms on Lancaster West Estate leaving local residents with nowhere to hold important community meetings.....

    3. Canalside House, Westway Information Centre and the Maxilla Nursey. Not an inconsiderable list of stripped assets. But there are more, what about the Issac Newton School leased to another Prep School (Chepstow House? When the RBKC gifted this vital community resource to Chepstow House they so upset the directors and parents of Notting Hill Prep School that the North Kensington library building has been leased to them as compensation without any consultation, without an open tendering process and without any scrutiny. Cllr Feilding Mellen was directly involved in this decision making process despite having a direct conflict of interest.

    4. Don't forget that RBKC have just stepped in to purchase the K and C College in Wornington Road with the intention of turning this vital community resource into more expensive "buy to leave" flats. More money making for Feilding Mellen and his spiv property pals who won't stop until they have destroyed our community. The loss of Adult Education to the North of the Borough will be a mortal blow to local working class people and a sure sign that North Kensington residents needs' are not respected by a Council that only protects it's own.

  2. Many on the council support social cleansing. The Sutton Estate. Rumblings and regrets over missed opportunities to get rid of residents on The Cremorne Estate are muttered under breaths in the corridors of power. Many of us who are fourth generation residents of this borough, work and have brought up our children here have more right to live here than you Mr. Paget-Brown.

  3. Would not trust Council or Piggy they never do anything for the good of the borough, residents or small businesses, if you smell a rat, its probably dead in the wall. Get it out!

  4. Well said !!!

  5. Dame was right to bring this to our attention Piggy claims this is not asset strip, but it is undersold and given to a prep school. You would have thought they would have learnt by now we are watching their every move.

    Hope Channel 4 Dispatches or Panorama will do a special investigation into this council, so many skeletons in so many wardrobes!

  6. The much vaunted new £10 million library is to be built in the grounds of a newly opened prep-school; a former state school. Until recently the Victorian school buildings were used by the community and business as the Isaac Newton Centre.

    Locals know perfectly well that in a few years' time the library will be acquired by the prep-school via yet another "friendly" lease.

    The unofficial policy to socially cleanse N. Kensington moves inexorably onwards, towards that golden dawn when all the less well off are gone and there's no one left to vote against Horton Street, and no one needing public services. On that blissful day, the council will announce the lowest council tax rates in the UK. Except that by then Scotland will be long gone. A very sensible move.

    1. The loss of the North Ken Library is a direct result of Labour misguidedly supporting Notting Hill Prep when Chepstow House Alpha Plus took the Isaac Newton Centre from under their nose. The Council then did a secret sweetheart deal with Notting Hill Prep and promised them the Library if they did not run candidates against Tory councillors.

    2. Facilitated by Cllr Feilding-Mellen no doubt (he is in charge of property policy) without declaring that his children are on the waiting list for Notting Hill Prep.

  7. Most of these valuable properties were gifted to the Borough when Margaret Thatcher abolished the Greater London Council and then the Inner London Education Authority. Shame on our council. So many public buildings, paid for by the public, handed over to the private sector in the interest of making a quick buck. And the mismanagement of Kensington and Chelsea College is a financial scandal yet to be revealed. It is because of this that they had to quickly sell it off to the Borough.

  8. I have just installed iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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