Tag Archives: Kensington

Council worker steals money meant for Grenfell victims while authorities continue to ignore its lessons

Jenny McDonagh.

The contempt in which Kensington and Chelsea council holds its social housing tenants is breathtaking.

For months, we asked what was happening to the money that had been raised to help the survivors of the blaze who had lost their homes and possessions – and were told it was all well in hand.

And it was – in the hands of a dishonest council finance manager who stole more than £60,000 of it and frittered it away on her own pleasures.

Isn’t that par for the course with Tory councils like K&C? They and their employees don’t consider the money they handle belongs to the people; they think it is for their own benefit.

That’s how it seems to me.

And we have evidence that councils across London – not just K&C – are ignoring the lessons of Grenfell. For example, they are still turning their backs on the concerns raised by residents.

So, after the deaths of so many people (I don’t believe only 72 lost their lives in that horror), it’s business as usual for the bureaucrats.

Let’s hope we all remember that, next time there’s an election.

A [council] finance manager splashed out on trips around the world, gambling and fancy dinners using money meant for the Grenfell Tower fire victims.

Jenny McDonagh, from Kensington and Chelsea Council, has admitted defrauding around £60,000 from the victim fund.

She withdrew a total of £62,000 meant for survivors of the tragedy and victims’ grieving family members using pre-paid credit cards.

She spent the funds on trips to Dubai and Los Angeles, expensive dinners and online gambling.

The 39-year-old, from Abbey Wood, South East London, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud, one of theft and another of concealing criminal property at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.

She was bailed for sentencing at a later date.

Source: Kensington and Chelsea council worker admits spending £60k of Grenfell victims’ money on holidays and gambling – Mirror Online

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Tory council’s money-grubbing led to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and dozens of deaths

If only this revelation had been released last week.

The message is clear: Conservative councils don’t care about people. They don’t care about safety. They don’t care about human lives.

They care about money.

That is why, according to current figures, 72 people died in an inferno that could have been prevented if the Conservative councillors in Kensington and Chelsea had only chosen safety over savings.

Today (May 9), in Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May has been crowing about the fact that the Conservatives have managed to hang on to control of councils across the UK.

It means the Tories remain free to terrorise people in those council areas – to inflict lower safety standards on them, and ultimately to put their lives in danger as well. I don’t think that is any reason to celebrate.

A costed proposal to fit Grenfell Tower with panels that did not burn was dropped amid pressure from the Conservative council to slash the cost of the refurbishment, the Guardian has been told.

A cladding company which fits nonflammable aluminium panels claimed it provided a £3.3m quote to fit its system to the 24-storey tower in west London at the request of Leadbitter, Kensington and Chelsea’s preferred contractor in 2013.

But a few months later the council decided Leadbitter wanted to spend too much on the refurbishment and put the contract out to tender to save £1.3m. It selected Rydon, which provided a lower price but fitted the building with combustible cladding which caught fire on 14 June 2017, killing 72 people in what lawyers for victims have called a “national atrocity”.

If the solid aluminium cladding had been chosen it would have almost certainly saved lives, fire safety experts said, and it could also have been cheaper. The council’s housing arm ended up agreeing to a budget which put the cost for the plastic-filled aluminium panels and synthetic insulation which burned so fiercely at £3.5m – £200,000 more than the quote for the noncombustible materials.

Source: Grenfell Tower: fire-resistant cladding plan was dropped | UK news | The Guardian


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Grenfell housing boss finally quits – more than six months after the fire

Monument: The charred shell of Grenfell Tower [Image from the Evening Standard].

He took his time – and we can all see why, can’t we?

It’s a lot of work, helping the police investigation and public inquiry…

The housing boss responsible for running Grenfell Tower has finally stepped down more than six months after the tragedy.

Robert Black, former chief executive of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, quit just before New Year despite being under intense pressure to go since the fire.

Although he stepped aside from the top job in August he had remained on the company’s books on his full salary of around £150,000 a year.

The body said he had spent the intervening months concentrating on helping the police investigation and public inquiry into the fire.

Source: Grenfell housing boss quits more than six months after tragedy


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Public feeling about Grenfell is as angry as ever – but the authorities are still trying to screw the survivors

There was a huge turnout for a silent march in memory of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Sadly, the enthusiasm of the authorities in finding out the causes and identifying the culprits has been less visible.

Thousands took part in a silent march to commemorate the fire at Grenfell Tower – but a tiny minority of bureaucrats seem intent on preventing the survivors from getting justice for the dead.

The latest wheeze is a bid to wind up the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation – the body responsible for the management of the tower at the time of the fire.

If this happens before the inquiry into the circumstances of the fire is able to report, there are fears that those who may have responsibility for the tragedy will escape justice.

According to the Grenfell Action Group:

“1)   We understand that a motion calling for an adjournment of the vote on the resolutions was filed in time and in accordance with the relevant rules. It appears that it was nevertheless rejected by the KCTMO and was not sent out to members. We understand it will be proposed again on the day of the AGM

“2)  We understand that the venue for the AGM may have changed but formal notice of this change hasn’t been sent out.

“3)  If RBKC becomes sole member of the TMO there are concerns that:

  • The TMO might cease to exist as an organisation and therefore might not be subject to prosecution for corporate manslaughter;
  • If the TMO no longer exists liaison with the Inquiry, including on important matters of disclosure and witness participation and attendance, could be undermined.
  • Additionally, the TMO might not exist as an entity capable of being sued in civil proceedings for its acts and omissions prior to the Grenfell Tower fire;

“Crucially, all of these matters could prevent or undermine (a) the TMO being held accountable in relation to the fire and (b) prevent or undermine the search for the truth through all available legal avenues.

“4)  In any event, even if the TMO were not wound up, RBKC would have sole control over the manner in which the TMO interacts with the Public Inquiry and other criminal and civil justice processes including requests for disclosure.

“It is unclear why there is any need for haste in making a decision on this and a vote could be adjourned to allow for more information to be provided and further legal advice obtained.”

Clearly, the vote on Tuesday must be for the TMO to remain in operation. A future vote can demand that it is shut down – after the inquiry reports its findings and any further action, necessitated by that finding, is taken.

Any other course of action, it seems, would be an insult to this:

Plans to formally disband the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO), the body responsible for Grenfell Tower, are being fought by survivors of the fire who fear that the move will allow officials to escape blame and scrutiny for their part in the disaster.

The proposal was first discussed in August by acting chief executive of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), Barry Quirk.

But Grenfell survivors and other residents were alarmed when they received a letter from the tenant management organisation urging them to vote for it to be disbanded at its AGM on Tuesday 17 October.

Residents say that while they ultimately want the TMO to be dismantled, this must not happen before it has been scrutinised at the public inquiry.

Source: Grenfell survivors fear disbanding TMO will let officials escape blame | UK news | The Guardian


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Grenfell Tower: May admits Tory council didn’t act fast enough – but nothing has improved

Grenfell Tower: Theresa May, who was criticised for not visiting the scene quickly enough after the fire, privately met victims of the disaster [Image: Tang/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock].

What is the point in Theresa May privately admitting to survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire that Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council responded badly to the disaster, when the same council is still failing its people?

According to The Guardian:

Theresa May has privately told survivors and relatives of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire that the Conservative-led Kensington and Chelsea council’s response to the disaster was slow and flawed, and assured them that the tenant management organisation (TMO) would no longer be responsible for the rest of the estate.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister had acknowledged concerns about the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council and the Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation (KCTMO), which was responsible for the tower and surrounding blocks of flats.

“She confirmed that the TMO will be removed from the management of the Lancaster West [Grenfell Tower] estate and she recognised that the council did not respond quickly enough after the fire,” the spokesman said.

“She agreed that it was important that the council listen to and respond to the issues residents face about the support and information they were receiving, including from key workers and housing officers.”

The prime minister was invited to the meeting by residents to hear about the challenges they continue to face, amid anger that a public inquiry will only look at the practical causes of the fire and not wider issues around the quality of social housing.

That was published early yesterday (August 23). Later the same day, the Huffington Post reported on a meeting, possibly between some of the same survivors and KCBC representatives, in which the council was pilloried for its continuing failure to address survivors’ needs.

Resident Cathy Cross said that Kensington and Chelsea, unlike other local authorities, is “very rich” and that it was time the council “upped their game”.

She said: “When is this council going to actually house people. When is this council going to get kids out of hotels. When is this council going to take care of people’s mental health?

“When is this council going to stop treating people with utter contempt, coming to these meetings and not having answers to questions, having senior managers who have to go across there and ask someone called Jim ‘where are our services?’ It is a disgrace.

“When are you going to up your game?

“When are you going to realise that when people have died that should be the worst thing you can do to your local citizens.

“The worst thing you can do to them should be murdering them. It should not be that 11 weeks on you cannot even provide survivors or the families of the dead with basic services. When are you going to up your game?”

“A woman who was suffering from PTSD asked the panel where the support services were for those needing help with their mental health… Robyn Doran, chief operating officer for Central and North West London Trust, said that there were pop up clinics being provided for the local area every day. But when there were shouts of “where”, the NHS boss was unable to name the locations and had to call for help from a member of her team.

There were calls for more services to go to survivors living in hotels.

Perhaps the most damning indictment was when Lancaster West estate resident Joe Delaney pointed out that the council’s “left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing”, after revealing confusion over when the Tenant Management Organisation had been removed from responsibility over the estate.

[Council chief executive Barry] Quirk said that the decision was made earlier this week, yet Delaney said he had been informed by TMO on June 22 that they had been removed from managing Lancaster West Estate.

So, what was Theresa May really saying when she admitted that the council did not respond fast or well enough, if it is still failing residents?

That the Conservatives in government and in Kensington and Chelsea Council are happy for the situation to stay that way?


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Grenfell Tower fire ex-council leader launches consultancy for firms working with councils

Nicholas Paget-Brown, former leader of Kensington Council, has set up NPB Consulting [Image: Mark Kerrison/Alamy Stock Photo].

Let’s get this straight: The Tory politician who tried to hold a council meeting about the fire at Grenfell Tower in secret – and had to resign because of the ensuing row – is now advising businesses on how to work with councils?

The man who, as leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, allowed firms to get away with putting dangerous flammable material all over a housing block is now offering advice to firms on how to get what they want?

Does anybody else think it would be a bad idea to associate with him at all?

Still, it does show one thing:

Tories have no shame.

Nicholas Paget-Brown, the former leader of Kensington Council, has set up a consultancy service for organisations who wish to work with local authorities.

Paget-Brown, who was forced to resign last month in the wake of the council’s response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, has set up NPB Consulting.

According to his LinkedIn page, the company offers “policy analysis, seminars, briefings and drafting assistance”.

Source: Former Kensington Council leader Paget-Brown forms consultancy to work with local authorities | PR Week


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