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Sunday, 17 October 2021



Dear Dame,  
At the Tabernacle Theatre I saw a great piece of theatre and a thought provoking performance.

Grenfell was an accident waiting to happen because of long term neglect.
The inflammable cladding is a separate issue. 
Tragically, it made the fire much worse. But the cladding is an example of a dishonest manufacturer concealing the flamable nature of the material and exploiting the Value Engineering process-one designed to save public money. Facilitating all of this was a complacent and contemptuous TMO.

Sitting atop of all this is a tricky political situation.It needs clear and strong local leadership to get results not the usual box ticking, buck passing and bureaucracy. 

K&C is a long and thin Borough. The centre is immensely wealthy: the ends very poor. The well invested parks and public realm in the centre is enjoyed by residents who earn (or inherited) big money and pay huge taxes to beautify and enjoy their public realm.


Residents at the poorer end pay little or no tax (and many are on Social Benefit) but their housing and public services consume vast amounts of money. Balancing up means redistribution of income. Because of the extremes of poverty and wealth in this Borough stark choices have to be made.


RBK&C has got the balance wrong. We make matters worse by splurging on vanity projects that inflate the egos of self interested local politicians.


Until recently, for example, K&C had the only civic opera in the UK (Opera Holland Park). About £20 million of Council Tax was used to subsidise this so councillors could have their 'Glyndebourne in the Park'. But no sprinklers in Grenfell………

The “balance” problem in K&C is the result of monopoly. The voter turnout is around 30% and we mostly vote Tory on autopilot. There is a huge Conservative majority as has been for more than 60 years. This does not make for balanced judgements - just corrupted power.

My hope is that the tragedy of Grenfell will be a catalyst  to allow conditions for a strong local Leader.....the Leader of the emerge and replace the puffed up, self servers who have filled the position for far too long. But this is going to require people of rectitude and intelligence- supported by the media- to keep agitating for change.

Some of the participants at the post play Q&A session last night were calling for a new political order. This won’t happen. But we need good, strong and sensitive Leadership and some serious trouble shooting concerning the stewardship of public housing.


Dame, in case you and your readers have not seen it, the video below  summarises very well the disconnect between rich and poor in the Borough.

I am Conservative and yet a great critic of our Council.


I have seen countless examples of wasted which could have been used to invest in poor areas. The Leader of this Council wearing another hat boasted that the construction of Holland Park School cost taxpayers nothing as it was funded by the sale of council land. What she seemed incapable of grasping was that diverting the proceeds to build the school cost £40 million more than was needed. So, not only did it cost a very big 'something' but  more than double what was was necessary.


No secondary school, as Michael Gove said should cost more than £40 million HPS cost over double that. 




  1. Thought provoking

  2. My sensation is that the positions of Weale and Campbell will be untenable when the final result of the enquiry is published. Both were cabinet members so both bear collective responsibility. If Moylan is anticipating a vacuum he can fill he should forget it. He was in the Cabinet at the time.

  3. The story of the Grenfell fire is not difficult to understand. What is difficult to understand is why so many public servants (Officers and Councillors in Kensington and Chelsea) have tolerated and supported a system that is clearly not working. And worse still, have ignored repeated warnings and communications from residents for more than twelve years.

    1. The answer, dear Observer, is crystal clear. As summed up by Cabinet Member Mary Weale.

      "We agreed to listen but not to hear".

    2. Barry Quirk is currently in overdrive, spending Council Tax on consultations and workshops and expensive consultants to adjudicate. All of this in parallel with clear, simple and direct messages that residents have been sending to their Councillors for a long time.

      Is it all a waste of time and effort? A job creation programme for Officers? Will Mary Weale's instruction be overturned? (We agreed to listen but not to hear). Will it all be subservient to Barry Quirks observation that the Council is a "property development machine".

  4. Retired Chief Executive18 October 2021 at 14:16

    I always paid great attention to training, especially the sort of training that encouraged employees to think about the world outside their office and desk. And to put themselves in the position of customers in order to understand them. All parts of the organisation (accountants, HR, research, manufacturing, sales) need this perspective in order to be successful. We used a combination of 1 to 1 meetings, workshops, Away Days and staff rotation to achieve this.

    Mr Cameron, a Kensington resident, has made the generous offer to spend many hundreds of £s of his own money to buy tickets for the Conservative Councillors to visit the theater production of Value Engineering at the Tabernacle in North Kensington. This is a play about the organisation that is responsible for Grenfell Tower.

    Cllr Campbell should accept this offer. In doing so she would exhibit the humility of Leadership and deliver a powerful "Away Day" learning experience for her Councillors. It would also be a magnificent signal to North Kensington that the Council is prepared to listen and to hear.

  5. Rational words and common sense from Retired Chief Executive. But this is not the world of Kensington and Chelsea Council. A Council which is tone deaf and understands only status and money. They need to be walloped hard in the language that they understand. Yesterday the first Private Prosecutions for manslaughter started against the Government on behalf of dead COVID patients.

    Justice4Grenfell needs to start Private Prosecutions (Class Action) against the RBKC Council and also Rydon, the cladding manufacturer. An educated guess is that the Council would settle quickly out of Court rather than endure years of Hillsborough type publicity and Rydon's American owners will also settle out of Court. It's what Americans do.

    The Inquiry will drag on. When it eventually finishes Justice4Grenfell will hopefully have sufficient emotional reserves to insist on criminal prosecutions because we deserve to see certain Councillors, TMO and Rydon employees carted off to jail.

    The American's understand the power of naming and shaming local Government representatives. If the likes of Cllr Campbell could be carted off for wrongdoing by the police from Kensington Town Hall, in front of journalists and TV cameras, this would have a powerful influence on behaviour. There would be much less puffing and self interested activities from our senior Councillors.


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