How RBKC Subverts Democracy to Prevent Change

This article is a defence of the principles of democracy and transparency – people’s right to know what is being done in their name and with their money. It examines Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC)’s claim that fundamental changes are being made in response to the Grenfell Tower fire of June 14th 2017, which killed 72 people. The analysis focuses on RBKC’s Twelve Principles of Good Governance policy. Council documents have revealed that the Twelve Principles policy has not been implemented and Councillors have not been held accountable for this despite the rising financial cost to the public. The Twelve Principles appear to be lost in a haze of bureaucracy; we examine how the Conservative’s grip on power in Kensington has been tightened and what this means for North Kensington.    

The Review – RBKC’s Policy for Change

In 2017 the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), – the national centre of expertise on governance and scrutiny – were commissioned, with funding by the Local Government Association (LGA), to carry out an independent review of RBKC. The local authority welcomed the CfPS’s subsequent report and adopted “12 principles of good governance we should embed in the council.” The Twelve Principles were bespoke; designed specifically for RBKC to act on its professed claims that they sought to “change” following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The principles:

  1. “Connecting with Residents”
  2. “Focusing on What Matters”
  3. “Listening to Many Voices”
  4. “Acting with Integrity”
  5. “Involving Before Deciding”
  6. “Communicating What We Are Doing”
  7. “Inviting Residents to Take Part”
  8. “Being Clearly Accountable”
  9. “Responding Fairly to Everyone’s Needs”
  10. “Working as Team”
  11. “Managing Responsibly”
  12. “Having the support we need”

The Democratic Society (Demsoc) supported CfPS in researching and writing the report over a period of six weeks. Their role: “Demsoc have helped to reach out to residents, asking about their experiences of being involved in decision making processes by the Council, and how involvement can be increased and improved in the future. This has been done by gathering evidence through surveys, desktop research and observing meetings, as well as talking face to face with focus groups and workshops”.

Urban Dandy understands that, given the scale of the work, the time frame was considered too tight by Demsoc.

The council’s own report endorsing the CfPS recommendations was titled ‘CHANGE AT THE COUNCIL: THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF GOVERNANCE’ (their capitals) and came four months after the independent review, with RBKC stating: “the council recognises that it (sic) essential to put these principles into practice.” The council’s leadership were to be held to account on this by the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee.

The council leaders who held the relevant portfolios and who endorsed the report were Elizabeth Campbell (leader) and Cllr Gerard Hargreaves (responsible for Communities and Culture), both of whom were cabinet members prior to the Grenfell Tower fire. It was the fire that prompted RBKC to commission the review and so it is right that the council’s success in applying its Twelve Principles be measured against the gravity of what happened at Grenfell Tower.

It is worth dwelling briefly here on the role played by Campbell, who, on becoming leader of RBKC a month after the Grenfell fire, promised change. In a brief speech to fellow councillors and victims of the fire in July 2017, Campbell used the word ‘change’ eleven times. Her words are particularly significant given her key role in the decision to adopt the Twelve Principles as policy and in the subsequent roll-out of the policy.

COST

In correspondence with Urban Dandy the CfPS confirmed the amount of the grant paid to them and Demsoc to cover the cost of the review:

“The figure we agreed with the LGA was £99,700. This was drawn from the improvement services grant that the LGA agrees with Government on an annual basis (the disbursement of which is largely a matter for the LGA). This accounts for 122 days of time in total at £750 per day (the differential is accounted for by securing the assistance of LGA member peers, whose services are charged at a different rate, VAT and expenses). The day rate is lower than that which we charge, think the same applies to Demsoc”.

“In truth, this (figure) is likely to be misleading, because both Demsoc and we concluded that we probably put in more time and resource than we were paid for; obviously RBKC will have put resource into supporting our work both as it was going on, and in producing plans and responses to it”.

The figures below show how much public money RBKC is continuing to invest in its ‘Change Programme’ – £2 million a year, with £271,000 allocated for the response to the CfPS review this financial year, and just under £200,000 a year thereafter. Over half a million will have been allocated to the policy by the end of the next financial year. This is in the context of huge austerity cuts in the borough, such as this year’s £1.1 million cut to youth services, which will inevitably have grave repercussions in the forms of serious violence and deprivation.

Budget for review
(Screengrab from RBKC)

RBKC prioritised their ‘Change Programme’ over vital services such as centres and activities for young people. In this context, scrutiny of the policy’s implementation is of the utmost seriousness. This burden fell internal Council scrutiny committees. We used RBKC’s official records to track how that committee has performed its task…

RBKC Adherence to Twelve Principles Policy

Scrutiny

Urban Dandy examines two official bodies responsible for ensuring RBKC adhere to and implement the Twelve Principles as follows:

  • Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee, which was replaced as the primary Twelve Principles scrutineer by the…
  • Borough and Area Governance Review Panel

Urban Dandy has previously documented three cases outlining demonstrated failures by RBCK to adhere to its Twelve Principles and tangibly “change”. None of these infractions have been raised by the two official bodies funded to scrutinize the Twelve Principles implementation:

  • Canalside House, a key community hub which RBKC tried to sell. Read about it here;
  • Lancaster Youth Club, as part of the wider issue of deep cuts to youth services. See here;
  • The Curve Grenfell Recovery Centre. Read about The Curve here.

More recently, in July 2019 Urban Dandy reported on the council’s decision to scrap scrutiny of Grenfell recovery and its implications. Read about it here. This was again done without adherence to the Twelve Principles, which were not mentioned, and thus not employed, at the Administration Committee meeting where the decision was taken.

Based on these cases, no evidence of change was found at the Town Hall. But it was important to see if anything else could support RBKC’s argument that its culture is changing and justify the public expenditure.

Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee

The council’s leadership were to be held to account on its policy of change by its Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee, which is made up of Councillors from the Conservative and Labour parties. There are no residents on the scrutiny committee.

The Council’s own records provoke serious questions about the role- or lack thereof – and lack of measurable actions from the most senior and well-paid council officers, in attendance who made no intervention on behalf of the public to question or challenge RBKC’s trajectory.

When contacted for information about scrutiny of the application of the Twelve Principles by the Council, the committee chairman, Cllr Pat Mason (also leader of the Labour group in Kensington),  replied that he was too busy to respond.

The vice-chair, Cllr Adrian Berrill-Cox (Conservative) did not respond to enquiries, while various other current and former committee members contacted to provide input to this article also chose not to reply.

Without feedback from insiders, we turned to the published agendas and minutes of this committee since the Twelve Principles of good governance became official RBKC policy. The information is from council papers published online, specifically the monthly agenda item titled ‘CHANGE AT THE COUNCIL: THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF GOVERNANCE’ (their capitals).

Monthly Minutes Summary: Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee, July 2018 to July 2019 Disbanding

July 2018

The July 2018 minutes state that the council, in its response to the CfPS recommendations, will outline “a detailed action plan which will run through until December 2019.” During this period the 12 principles are to be fully implemented and embedded in RBKC’s work.

Committee chairman Cllr Pat Mason made a series of points about how to best utilise the CfPS/Demsoc report, focusing on going beyond RBKC’s community engagement to establishing local ward boards as “vehicles where all local works and substantial issues will be referred for consultation and co-design before the decision stage”.

Cllr Mason proposed that “key decisions which affect particular ward(s), could be tested by ward boards before the Leadership Team Member takes decisions”.

Cllr Mason also supported a plan for a citizens’ panel and called for RBKC’s community engagement model to be replaced with “one that achieves resident empowerment.”

Regarding the citizens’ panel, it is known as the residents’ panel. We emailed RBKC to ask for information about this panel as there are no online published documents despite the panel having its own web page. A response, from the much more forthcoming Consultation Team Manager, stated that “Currently the Residents’ Panel is not in operation, and has not been since 2016” and “we are looking to introduce a new Citizens’ Panel in the future which will replace the Residents’ Panel”.

September 2018

The Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee documents for the September meeting state that an Independent Ethics Panel has been established as part of the implementation of the CfPS recommendations.

Ethics Tweet
(Screengrab from twitter.com/RBKC)

The Council provided Urban Dandy with evidence that this panel was indeed established and three members appointed, paid a day rate of £300. The terms of reference for the Ethics Panel make no mention of the Twelve Principles.

The September papers contain a great amount of detail on the processes involved in the roll-out of the twelve principles recommendations, but no detail of what exactly will be rolled out and nothing in the way of challenge of RBKC over its adherence to their policy.

October 2018

The committee notes that a ‘listening forum’ is to take place at the end of October 2018 at Chelsea Academy. There is also an update from RBKC’s Director of Governance and Co-ordination, Heather Wills, that contains details of procedure but lacks items that pertain to any substantive changes affecting the public.

Attendees, alongside committee members and Wills, in attendance at the scrutiny committee include:

Michael Clarke – Director of Communications, RBKC

Cllr Gerard Hargreaves – former member of the committee; Lead, Communities and Culture, RBKC

Jonathan Toy – Consultant

Barry Quirk – Chief Executive of RBKC

November 2018

No scrutiny of the council’s Twelve Principles. Wills reports to the committee that the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel had met in October. This panel features later in this article.

December 2018

Like in November, December’s meeting sees no challenge or scrutiny of good governance. Heather Wills reports that a ‘listening forum’ will take place.

January 2019

Six months on from adopting its new policy, the minutes of the meeting, under the designated heading, show the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee refer to a “’Change at the council’ action plan,” “organisational values” and a statement that they will “support the change of culture through ‘back to the floor’ sessions for Leadership Team and senior officers”.

Under the relevant heading, A9 Forward Plan, the only word that appears is “Noted”.

The papers also reveal that “2 ‘Ideas Exchanges’ have been held”. In an appendix it is revealed that the Twelve Principles policy has been divided up for implementation in a piecemeal approach rather than what could be interpreted as the original intention: to bring about fundamental change through the sweeping implementation of principles that would guide good practice.

Jan
(Screengrab from RBKC)

February 2019

Heather Wills tells the committee that information on RBKC’s website has been made clearer (she should try researching this article).

Despite it being the designated body to hold the council to account on its response to the independent review, the minutes reveal that “the Committee agreed that a written report on this item will only be required for every other meeting”.

Present at this meeting and not objecting to this sudden drop in scrutiny were Cllrs Mason (chairman), Berrill-Cox (vice-chairman), Husband, Press and Spalding. Also present were the following Councillors and officers:

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell – Leader, RBKC

Martyn Carver – Governance Manager, RBKC

Taryn Eves – Director of Financial Management, RBKC

Will Foreman – Governance Administrator, RBKC

Cllr Gerard Hargreaves – Lead, Communities and Culture, RBKC

Jacqui Hird – Scrutiny Manager, RBKC

Debbie Morris – Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, RBKC

Barry Quirk – Chief Executive, RBKC

None of those present, according to the minutes, raise any objection to the decision to reduce scrutiny. Though not explicitly stated, it appears the main job of scrutinising the council’s adherence to the Twelve Principles may have shifted to the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel. As such, minutes from this panel’s meeting were also acquired and researched for this article (see section below).

March 2019

Answering questions from the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee during the March 2019 meeting, Heather Wills confirms that incentives are to be offered to encourage residents to participate in consultations and focus groups. She suggests that Councillors could further encourage their constituents to join the non-existent Citizens’ Panel.

Cllr Mason intervenes to complain that the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel is carrying out its work too quickly and without reference to the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee. The chairman also pushes the issue, proposed by North Kensington community members, of introducing ward-based boards or forums to improve the council’s decision-making processes.

April 2019

Heather Wills provided a verbal update on the procedures involved in making changes to general scrutiny at RBKC. No other mention of the Twelve Principles of Good Governance.

June 2019

After a short ‘special meeting’ in May to appoint a new vice-chair, the June meeting agenda is the first to not include the item ‘CHANGE AT THE COUNCIL: THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE TO THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF GOVERNANCE’.

The minutes do reveal some discussion on the concept of scrutiny, referring to the CfPS recommendations on what good scrutiny looks like.

July 2019

The item is again not on the agenda. According to the RBKC website, the committee ceased to exist on 24th July 2019. This is also the month that the RBKC Councillors vote to scrap Grenfell scrutiny without reference to the Twelve Principles of Good Governance.

As mentioned, we suspected that responsibility for scrutiny and challenge may have been transferred to the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel in July 2019, outlined below.

Borough and Area Governance Review Panel

Early in its six months of scrutinising the Twelve Principles policy, this Panel finished what the scrutiny committee had started: it violated the 12 principles in order to unburden the Council of having to adhere to a publicly-funded policy review carried out by experts to benefit the local population.

October 2018

The Panel’s first meeting’s minutes state that Cllr Press (Labour) “suggested that the terms of reference (of the Panel) spell out clearly what the ‘Twelve Principles of Good Governance’ were in a way that residents could easily understand”.

However, according to the minutes, “there was also agreement that the ‘Twelve Principles’ were largely aspirational and difficult to apply to the fundamental changes that the Panel would be considering. The main principles that should be flagged were consistency and transparency”.

In this one meeting it was decided by the Panel that the twelve principles are too complex for local people to understand; that rather than holding RBKC to account on the principles, the Panel would instead focus on two other – arguably ‘aspirational’ – concepts: “consistency” and “transparency”.

As with the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee meetings, Panel members were joined by other senior officers and Councillors (see image below), who raised no objections to the quiet abandonment of Twelve Principles scrutiny.

This move simultaneously destroyed the Council’s publicly funded and democratically approved change agenda while undermining the very “consistency” and “transparency” the Panel proclaims to focus on.

Attendees
(Screengrab from RBKC)

 

November 2018 & terms of reference

By November 2018 it is decided that the Panel will reflect the political make-up of the Council as if it were a formal Council committee.

Membership of the Panel:

  • Cllr Elizabeth Campbell (Conservative, Co-Chair)
  • Cllr Robert Atkinson (Labour, Co-Chair)
  • Cllr Gerard Hargreaves (Conservative)
  • Cllr Monica Press (Labour)
  • Cllr Johnny Thalassites (Conservative)
  • Cllr Walaa Idris (Conservative)

The minutes also reveal that the Panel will receive taxpayer-funded “support and independent advice” from the CfPS.

December 2018

In December Chief Executive of RBKC Barry Quirk responds to a suggestion that RBKC need to carry out an audit of “what was wrong with the previous culture and why it needed to change”.

“Quirk explained that the CfPS Governance Review report had addressed these issues and made recommendations and a change programme was underway: the ‘Twelve Principles of Good  Governance’ had been adopted for example. He added that culture was made by all of us and started with how the Leader and Chief Executive conduct themselves. It might be possible to conduct an annual audit of progress made in changing culture”.

Then “Cllr. Campbell added that it takes time to change an organisation’s culture but we were heading in the right direction”.

Campbell does not provide objective evidence of how the Council is “heading in the right direction” and is not challenged to do so.  This comes in light of RBKC aforementioned demonstrated failure to adhere to the 12 principles in its attempts to sell the community asset, Canalside House – despite this having being repeatedly flagged in North Kensington scrutiny committees, by residents, via this blog and on social media the same month.  

January, February, April 2019

Director of the CfPS, Ed Hammond, attends the meetings of the Panel to provide expertise and advice. Minutes of the meetings reveal that there was no scrutiny or challenge of RBKC’s change. Instead there was an emphasis on procedure. No major changes in RBKC policy are announced.

In 2019, according to the notes published on the council website, the word ‘Grenfell’ has been spoken only once at the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel.

The final meetings to date are held in April, with the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) making the following submission.

KCSC Submission to Borough and Area Governance Review Panel, April 2019

KCSC, based in North Kensington, supports and coordinates many local voluntary and community organisations. It contributed evidence to the Borough and Area Governance Review Panel on behalf of some of these organisations.

From KCSC’s submission to the panel: “We have also worked with the Grenfell Network Group (a collective of engaged voluntary and community organisations) to look at which model could be presented for North Kensington that would result in a local democratic process for the residents of  the area, which could also be replicated across the borough”.

“Our position on the governance review has always been that, following the publication of the report by the Centre for Public Scrutiny which recommended key changes to RBKC’s involvement of local people in decision making, meaningful change would happen as a result…whilst we can see that it is a starting process for change, it does not go far enough to demonstrate handover of democratic power to residents”. 

The KCSC submission goes on: “What the Council faces in the coming years, I’m sure we all recognise, will be difficult and there is no easy fix or solution to the many challenges that will need to be addressed. It is because of this that we advocate for a stronger solution that reflects the 12 principles outlined within the CfPS report”.

“We hope that going forward the Council will respond to what was said at the last meeting in April to ensure that there is within appropriate devolvement of decision making, with resources to make it happen so that residents can actually see that this Council is a listening council”.

The KCSC submission was titled ‘Proposal: North Kensington Recovery Group’ and was written with the Volunteer Centre, Kensington and Chelsea and on behalf of the Grenfell Network Group. The full proposal can be read here.

Devolution?

As seen in Cllr Pat Mason’s July 2018 intervention (see summary above), KCSC’s submission suggests modest but tangible devolution is a minimal requirement for North Kensington to reap any benefit from the investment of money, energy and time the area has spent participating in RBKC’s ‘Change at the Council’ strategy, which has to date included scores of consultations, ‘listening exercises’ and the CfPS/Demsoc review but no increase in power for the people in the north of the borough.

At July 2019’s Administration Committee meeting, Cllr Blakeman (Labour) stated that the review panel that scrapped Grenfell scrutiny had been sent papers on potential devolution for the Notting Dale ward in North Kensington but did not discuss them. She said that the papers had been presented on the RBKC website as if they had discussed. Cllr David Lindsay (Conservative), vice-chair of the Administration committee stated: “It was decided at full council meeting in May 2019 not to proceed with devolution”.

At this June’s full council meeting, Cllr Campbell recalled that the KCSC proposal had been publicly discussed during the review process. But this has been disputed by several people who participated in the review who say there was absolutely no discussion, just a presentation. 

The Council is contradicting the evidence regarding the two substantive devolution proposals: Notting Dale and KCSC. Cllr Mason reminded the Administration Committee that devolution had been considered an option in the aftermath of the fire, at the full council meeting of August 2017. The Conservative cabinet might well have discussed devolution behind closed doors but there has been no public discussion or decision.

Analysis

Labour

Residents’ empowerment – devolution – is preferable to many people in North Kensington; but in the meantime, we rely on opposition Councillors being adversarial and holding power to account, then communicating to us where and when we are being short changed.

The Labour leadership of the Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee immediately put itself in a position of weakness by proposing alternative approaches instead of insisting, as was their mandate, that RBKC implement and adhere to the adopted and very clear Twelve Principles. Labour Councillors later let the principles be dismissed as “aspirational” as if aspiration is a bad thing.

Labour Councillors are in the unenviable position of being overwhelmed with Grenfell-related casework and have not received the anticipated extra administrative support. In these challenging circumstances, they have failed to hold RBKC to account over the Twelve Principles; at a time when constituents needed them to be fierce, they instead tried to steer RBKC in alternative directions and have so far failed at that too.

Government Taskforce

The government’s Independent Grenfell Taskforce issued its fourth report on RBKC’s performance in June this year. As in the three predecessors, it goes out of its way to be generous towards the Council. As usual, it maintains its benevolence by omitting the real-life situations on which a local authority must be judged, censorship by omission.

In reference to the CfPS review, it states that RBKC implemented change when it “brought management and repair of its housing stock back in-house” – in reality, as is widely understood, it was no longer tenable for the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) to operate in the borough, at least not under that toxic name. The Taskforce fail to state that the move “in-house” has simply meant a rebranding: Same company, different name.

Aside from failing to challenge the Council over real-life failures to change, in the CfPS/Change section of its report, the Taskforce criticises RBKC’s consultation on the future of its housing stock and mentions a further consultation only carried out “at the behest of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government”.

The report refers to “structural review” and “cultural change” saying that while it is “too early” to judge RBKC’s efforts “we are unconvinced that the cultural change programme is having penetration at all levels of the organisation”.   

Media

There has been no in-depth national or local media analysis of RBKC’s adoption and subsequent neglect of its publicly funded ‘change’ policy. Yet a lack of action and change is the unavoidable conclusion regardless of RBKC’s incessant PR spin. Media silence alongside RBKC’s publicly funded PR campaign has created a fog of confusion about whether any change has come or is coming. People have been denied the information they need.

RBKC’s Power – Weakness of Report

The lack of truly independent, community-based scrutiny has been RBKC’s loophole in resisting change in the post-Grenfell era. The loophole comes from the inherent weakness of the CfPS/Demsoc recommendations which were toothless from the outset. No checks and balances were included, so RBKC could scrutinise itself, and you have read what became of that.

RBKC allowed ineffective administrative practices to ensure committees and panels went no further than fitting ‘change’ to existing structures. The CfPS report arrived in Spring 2018 and was accepted wholesale by RBKC four months later; the Grenfell anniversary passed and the Council headed back, inexorably, to ‘business-as-usual’.

Language, Politics and Deception

In its many documents with the approximate title ‘Change at the Council’ RBKC uses a lot of words to say almost nothing. A generous assessment would be that this is local authority that does not know how to implement change. A more sober assessment is that the Council is disingenuous and that the true audience for these documents is not the public but the national government, who needed RBKC to sort itself out after the fire when the prime minister came in for heavy criticism and Grenfell Tower briefly became a symbol of Tory Britain.

Your council is changing
Screebgrab from RBKC

Twenty-seven months on from the fire that devastated the North Kensington community, RBKC presents a façade of democracy married to an illusion of change. This agenda is inched forward by RBKC bureaucrats, community engagement meeting by community engagement meeting, without oversight, metrics or effective challenge.

When Elizabeth Campbell used the word change 11 times in a speech to survivors of the Grenfell fire, it was a sequence of performative utterances, designed to pacify and ultimately mislead. The use of obfuscation is glaring in the case of the Twelve Principles and we have outlined each step.

This publicly funded appropriation of morals and principles is a game in which RBKC hold power. Even as the CfPS report was adopted and many suspected that these political Grenfell dice were loaded, some within the community kept a sharp eye on the Twelve Principles as their straightforwardness and common sense guidelines were a gift and a framework by which to measure RBKC’s progress.  

Truth

RBKC’s own report welcoming the CfPS recommendations features an ‘action plan’ – targets that have since been missed or ignored. Most glaringly, by September 2018 the Twelve Principles were to have been “embedded” in RBKC’s organisational principles.

How many RBKC representatives can even list the principles? How many know how to apply them to their jobs and where would they find the processes on how to apply these principles?

The Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Debbie Morris, was responsible for ensuring these principles became embedded, yet she appears not to have been called to account for the failure. According to RBKC’S 2017/18 budget, Morris receives a basic salary of £116,150 and was awarded a bonus of £11,615. Well done.

This November an evaluation is due to take place of how the principles have been embedded into the council. Will anyone in the Council break ranks and speak up for the truth: that the principles have been rejected.

Conclusion

This expensive failure to act on publicly funded, publicly adopted policies is being carried out in broad daylight. If this failure is designed to confuse and further traumatise the public of North Kensington, then the plan is working. The Twelve Principles were accepted and adopted as policy. This policy has been atomised and ignored by Councillors and RBKC Officers. RBKC had to violate its own principles of good governance in order bury its own policy and dash the genuine hopes for devolution and democracy encompassed therein.

Leaving aside the political game that has been played with them, the twelve principles taken literally are a starting point for a power realignment in North Kensington. That is why RBKC will not implement them. The calls for devolution are real and reasonable, but like the call for justice for Grenfell, we must ask: will we ever see their fulfilment? And who benefits when we are left frustrated?

RBKC Leadership Response

Urban Dandy contacted RBKC leader Elizabeth Campbell offering her the right of reply to the allegations that she misled the public about the KCSC proposal being publicly discussed during the review process; that the Council has failed to apply its 12 principles in real-life cases; that she failed to intervene to protect the Twelve Principles policy and that RBKC as a whole has misused public money to bury its change policy using bureaucratic means. Here is her response:

“Change at the council will take time and I am relentless in my pursuit of it. Your article suggests that we have done what we needed to do already. We haven’t.

“We have made strides towards change but we are still a long way from being a council that is truly connected to its communities and can think of itself as working in a different way than before.

“Some steps that illustrate our efforts include more opportunities for public engagement at council meetings, including questions at full council. Our actions on North Kensington library and the ongoing work on Wornington College.*

“Residents have made their priorities clear to us, and that is reflected in our Council Plan.

“But changing in local Government, in a (sic) authority like ours, should have no defined end point. We need to keep adapting and changing to meet challenges and provide services for the people in our borough – from Brexit to bins.

“The job isn’t done and I remain committed to getting it done”.

 

 

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Editing by Jennifer Cavanagh @Jannanni

Thanks to A and J for their time and insights. Thanks to Jen, original Dandy, for her editing, which breathed new life into this article.

 

*Urban Dandy has contacted campaigners on both the save North Kensington Library and Save Wornington College campaigns who have agreed to publish an account of RBKC’s role in both cases.  

2 thoughts on “How RBKC Subverts Democracy to Prevent Change

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