‘A female-led mini-festival to highlight and celebrate the role women in the community played during and after the Grenfell Tower fire!’ As Tom, editor of Urban Dandy, had said: “they were the ones who stepped up and held the community together”.
Sitting in The Tabernacle, planning WeCoproduce’s project for a free gig as part of the “Trauma Matters” event, I remembered Dawn, a mother of three, born and bred in North Kensington.
As an upstanding member of her community, Dawn, among many other locals, quickly answered the immediate cries for help that government was ignorant of. Converting every available space into emergency refuges, donation points, improvised but functioning healing centres; in an outpouring of kindness and an overwhelming wave of support from residents abandoned by their council. North Kensington was standing tall.
Emotional and mental stress have been known to cause the heart to work harder. Dawn suddenly passed away less than two months after the fire, from a cardiac arrest.
Two years on and Kinetic Minds, a local collective led by the talented composer Andre Louis opened this eclectic female-fronted night, as a tribute to Andre’s late mother, Dawn.
The performances were by women who all live in two worlds, heads in the sky but feet on the ground; women who are outspoken and engaged in good causes, with a love of sharing knowledge and healing sounds; intelligent and creative in thoughts and actions.
From the grace and elegance of folk singer-songwriter Helen McCookerybook, to the captivating Desta Haile, a soul-jazz-reggae singer; North Kensington was standing tall.
From the conscious and atmospheric trip-hop artist Ishani, to the most urban classically trained “Avant-Gardist,” the Grime Violinist, North Kensington was standing tall.
From the uplifting and infectious Judi’s Rhythm of Jazz to the late vibrant jazz singer Yazzy, North Kensington was standing tall.
All different in styles, genres, origins, and ages but all the same in being empowering and strong role models who reminded us that everything we do just connects, whether it’s through music, words or actions.
R.I.P. DAWN RENAULT 28/07/1967 – 08/08/2017
This article was first published by We Coproduce CIC
Use of the word ‘we’ does not constitute ‘My self’ in a manner that makes Me complicit in the issue/subject but is used only as a formality and effort not to violate writing tradition. Even though it may appear that my use of ‘we’ means ‘us’, I reference only My self as ‘we’ in respect of the overwhelming shared sentience of the masses, of which I am but am not of, in respect of My unfamiliar peers and their ignorant acts antonymous to My autonomous weighs. I, just as all corporations do, hold My self harmless from the collective wrong that society willingly partakes and I take personal responsibility for all things that I willingly, clearly and openly consent to by clear (non-tacit) agreement, without force, duress or coercion.
It’s now 2023 and as we step into this great unknown, I must say that ‘ignorance’ is a choice.
As abstract as it seems, knowledge is not the property of schools of education but readily available for all who genuinely search for it–the reward of the seeker. It’s just that most would rather collect pointless data steered by either peer-esteem, likes or something of the egocentric nature. This is despite the fact that, over the decade, all that seems currently unknown was previously (widely and openly) available and easily accessible to all via online. That is at least before the colonisation of the Internet in 2012 (New Hampshire RSA 193-F:4.).
The result of this pathway to policing dialogue and searches, hiding behind cyber bullying, is comparable to a mass book burning and the resulting chaos. With today’s corporations learning algorithms, our search engines can guarantee failure as we try to stick the salvaged pages back together again. This colonising of websites and the heavy concentration on child censorship, made way for key information to be available only in select jurisdictions. Even though tangible location is somewhat of a fiction in the online world, we ignorantly opened the doors to communist ideals.
These poor arguments, based on ethics, would have had some validity if they were birthed out of the purpose presented but at any time or point on any day a 7-year-old child can watch a naked woman swinging on a wrecking ball without any censorship at all simply because of the provider’s reach, calibre and connection. But it isn’t the point that this writing may become contradictory once the point is exposed, they may well renege and pretend to address the damage, the fact is that the opportunity for YouTube police to see this has been available for 10 years and with their carefully vetted video algorithm, it has come up fine. Meanwhile mere conversation on medical concerns have been banned and even demonised. In conclusion this ‘one size fits the poor’ attitude has to be done away with for uniform regulations and the violators of this essential equipoise should be ‘imprisoned’.
It baffles one to think that we’ve managed to give away decentralised space to Billionaire corporations to dominate the story, whatever it may be. But even more befuddling is the fact that I can go to you tube, place any political/controversial data in the search box and ‘hey presto’, like magic, all of the providers of the results are Associated Press, without the viewer having any thoughts about a conflict of interest. CNN, NBC, BBC, FOX, NEWS FIVE, all dominate the first 10 pages, if not all in some subsidised way. But then again, that’s tailored to my own needs as our cookies keep reminding us, so who knows what results Emma in New Zealand is getting attached to her IP information tag.
To some degree, truth only remains online like charred pages buried under the vaults of corporate ramble and secrecy. But much information is still available, only what is true and what is not, is only known by either the pure of heart (of whom are slandered) or the dark and deceitful, who are held in high esteem. The ‘pure of heart’ is a specific group who express a caution and a suppression of peer expectation. Much is invested in the tainting of these people as they disrupt the deceit but the long road towards this online colonisation was observed, shared by them and ignored before going deep underground. Today, like the evaporation of the illusion, ‘middle classed’, there are only ‘those who know and those who don’t’. Both of whom share this category fall into two other categories of honest or deceptive.
If you have spent adequate time harnessing the skill of separating the BS without corporations holding your hand, you may have found all the guidance you need but for most people who have been televised, God and majik doesn’t actually exist and so have forgot to prepare their minds for today’s madness. With a mind wrapped in the word ‘impossible’, looking at the impossible unfold leaves little trust in overcoming it. So big data has corrupted ‘all’ of what is known as verified data, of course for the people’s safety, leaving most at the liberty of living in either theoretical conspiracy or corporate fascism–living either in sovereign Cuba or totalitarian China mentality.
It once was said, “the things of this world are but an illusion and will soon pass”; it was also said, “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul”?
On the morning of the 25th December 2022, (possessed by the journalist spirit), I searched online to note the correct time of the perihelion (the annual point when the sun is closest to the earth). This I have always known to be late June (the summer solstice) but to my surprise, today online it has uniformly become the end of December. This is according to Wikipedia, Webster’s, Collins and NASA. I accept an error on my part but it seems to me that this falling away of the illusion and a day of confusion has truly arrived. The uttering of the many sages who came imploring us to seek a more etheric understanding of life can be summed up in Carrie-Anne Moss’s statement in the character of Trinity: “the Matrix isn’t real…”.
What is Real?
If you care to reflect collectively, we’ve also ignored widespread warnings for over 2,000 years for the desire to be groomed towards scientific standards that ultimately veil the esoteric earth in the name of civilised-so can we really plead ignorance?But it appears that our willing plunge into (solely and explicitly) material, leaves us with no understanding of metaphor leaving everything to be known only by the tangible and direct senses. To our own detriment we have now ate the words ‘impossible’ and ‘coincidence’ and become blind to the warnings of what phenomena was to come. As such, The Matrix was merely a Sci-Fi movie not a warning–but what a movie it also was.
And so the magik of the Moors, the herbal remedies of the witches, the sages, the predictions of the shaman, and the cures from real doctors were ridiculed, mocked and replaced with synthetic versions of the organic figures with ‘toxic mimicry’. This we continue to crave more of, like seedless fruit, Zoom calls over meeting, online banking, and paying by phone over actual transactions. Convenient Jesus and ‘the metaverse’ fall into this fictitious category too, with no foresight of what this replacement will eventually do to the true organic structure of life.
Strangely the word ‘science’ has come to be more of a trustworthy friend than the word ‘God’ to most, all without any suspicion of mischief at play. Meanwhile it is true that something of a remote collective evil (that in all eventuality, seems to be working ‘in’ favour of God) appears to have a grip on humanity’s collective doltishness and an on-going commercial means to keep churning out these artificial seeds, without a single aired complaint.
Even though this may sound too base for today’s complicated mind, every problem we have appears to be the natural result of some violation of our personal morals and ethics. These avoidable dramas seem to pose an individual question of ‘who we are and how low can we go’.In this case, the only organic thing is the natural occurring mess we are left in without honour, one that ‘we’ continuously vote for. Be it demonising Muslims, Brexit, mass-needling the public, relocating Ukrainians or blocking Mexicans from their indigenous grounds, we’ve added to our recorded acts on earth without feeling the burden of accountability although we are wrong and totally accountable.
If we were to be just in our hearts, we would have to admit that we have very little belief in each predator that appears at the ballot box. We are stuck on a self-predicating loop of, screw up, resign, then replace with another, as we prepare to vote again with no aim for a totally new system, not provided by a fortune 500 subsidiary.
But we never ask who pays for these mistakes especially as some have grand effects on the lives of women and children especially. To most, who are groomed on material phenomena, they remain clueless of their own spirit. This karmic debt seems to be understood only as a physical tax, one that a wealthy government can pay (with money) towards an eventual amnesia of the cosmic crime. But just because denial of this omnipresent imbalance is rampant in an ignorant society, it should not negate the fact that present, although unseen, is a metaphysical tax that must be settled.
This perpetual politician’s game of tag: violation, resign, replace, cannot be hidden to the sovereign mind but can only be obscured from the masses by organised feeble excuses that blind each from their higher accountability. This mental fog, in an ancient best-selling book, is said to be caused by something labelled ‘the sneaking whisperer’, who whispers lies into the hearts of men.
As time moves fast towards these ‘build back better’ scripts (that some of us know only too well), it appears that…well I think…it is known deep within ‘every’ soul that our governing parties are full of shite. Only God detachment, peer pressure and the fear of the ‘illusion’ power, is that which causes us to endure this nonsense at the cost of our own morale. This altogether equates to cognitive dissonance, which appears when the truth is too hard to look at so the lie bides time. This is expressed as a clan of beer drunk European men (who think that they are Americans) shouting U.S.A. U.S.A… as they bomb and shoot-up ancient cities in holy lands. It is also observed as Trump/Biden supporters thinking that Mexican’s ignorance of their invisible border that parts ‘their’ land is a violation. As they wake up to the truth and return to that part of their home in America, their colonist’s grip on media scrambles the ethics of the squatter to such a damning disillusion.
It is only a mind saturated with East Enders, football, royal appearances, and the latest fear script (currently carbon emissions) that accepts, eats and spreads whatever is fed to them through this tube, while the lie is monetised by new taxes upon them.
This scheme sadly is to the detriment of ‘we’ on the fringes who are accosted by these agents who assume that ‘we’ also are their property. And so, as they raise their taxes, bully the televised and distribute uniform scripts, ‘we’ see right through them but ‘we’ are overwhelmed by those of you who see not, so do nothing but accept their orders. Therefore it is we who ‘die for their sins’ herded along with the sheep as ‘sheep’, who we are clearly not.
Still, what I ask violates the structure of journalism and may inject soul into a machine that was intended to remain without one, but we must ask:
Still I think this a proud moment for me when I say that I haven’t owned a TV in 25 years, have never voted for this madness and sought benefits from any corporation that does not value ‘love’ or ‘truth’–despite the populace’s actions. My lack of support for this was out of an uncommon-sense understanding of the roll-over damage that lies do. In fact it can be said that the widespread current health scare campaigns and the switch from terrorist watching to flu watching, was a well planned, poorly executed business venture that further enriched the likes of Matt Hancock, Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, Boris Johnson, Charles Shwab…need I continue?
But those, who watch the news attentively, should know this is to be the biggest story ever. I can also affirm that it is the fact that the television has perfected its reach, a particular narrative and a known statistical response called ROI, that it can leave out the important defining details without any worry of a significant backlash–we remain forever the minority. So the almost pointless burden of truth lies on little Me to inform you of details such as, Matt Hancock’s revealing address to the World Economic Forum in 2019 (before the pandemic) and his goal to have his company implement gene therapy in over one million UK households by 2024.
But I’m sure you knew this and researched him well, after he suddenly appeared on your television set as your Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Although at the time it probably didn’t seem of any importance that his company Genomics England were seeking to make your DNA their prey as there wasn’t yet a reason, the came Covid 19.
Maybe some have no idea what this DNA, RNA, junk-DNA nonsense is all about and if you don’t know it’s probably best you don’t, with a heart that gambled on a heart-less machine, emitting only images of care, people you don’t know and you’ll never meet, shown as your trusted leaders, guides and confidants.
In a way, it may be better that you don’t understand and is temporarily safer for the televised mass. But I must warn you that, in this unique instance, ignorance is not bliss if you have been trusting that a corporation, whose uniformed mission is to minimise spending, maximise profits and dump overstock, will feed you accurate health statistics when trying to move a health product, especially when no physical being can be held accountable. Living as a human resource, one would hope that the country (company) has not over stocked.
But my original reasons for calling this ‘not knowing’ a choice is because, for years those who didn’t know have been collectively playing a game of avoiding the mirror. The only problem is they’ve now risked their lives to stay ignorant and so at this moment of the inevitable truth, many are ‘now’ asking what can be done to know what the ef is going on and how to make sense of it all. The answer is pretty simple ‘nothing’.
If you happen to have had the discipline to throw your television out the window (remember to shout lookout below), in a few years this grand deception may all begin to make sense, but continuing on with the current program within, what was quite simple is now very complex, because of the deception that the masses have allowed to be known as their truth.
For example, as children we were all dealt that word ‘impossible’ as a shared belief. This makes it very unlikely to, all of a sudden, accept this word as a misnomer. This and many other ideas have permeated the westerners mind as well as all those who have left home and aspired to it’s way. And so when it is time to do what fallen and ascended angels know to be true, you will most likely be standing at the side-line saying ‘that’s impossible’. This makes it unlikely for one to delete decades of programming to survive this war on the mind.
But even though there are such crazies as conspiracy theorists, it is better to have been one, than be a seasoned a television truster, so this transition into the ‘real’ world will not be too much of a shock. Since their minds remained believing of anything abstract and odd, they are prepared for anything, especially what most will find impossible since there’s little that can surprise them, just as God instructed in this world of illusions.
Meanwhile, as I stand outside of the asylum observing men and beast, I see what we can only call modern man a ‘host’ convinced by his ego that he is super-important. I carefully observe these gassed contradictions of what was once a human, as he waits to gather and discard of his ‘pet’s’ waste as a show of moral conduct, while he leaves piles of if on deserted streets.
But I can’t help wonder if the animal questions his commitment to his own shit while he ponders on whether to be called he, she or ‘it’ for the same peer pollution. Within the realm of the ascended mind this satire is merely the 5d screen of God’s comedy, a vision accessible by the few who observed this life without prejudice or want of popularity, watching the joke with gratitude but still a sadness.
The unique souls carried the cross (a metaphor for being rejected) with full knowledge that popularity was never the goal and while none would question why they treated them with such distance, it occurs that the trickster sought to trap these angels in a 3d prison where those who see with known senses alone, see not the wonder that blessed them with their honest presence.
A curse to those who live for acceptance, while a blessing for those who have eyes. While she knows that each rejection left her with less to lose, she knows that each assault ultimately represents a brush for her dusty wings to allow her to fly straight, while the animals succumb to the density of this incredible time–the parting of the see.
This year will be a great one for those who have freed their minds and reunited with an order of truth, which is today absent of men’s rules and their failing Star Wars fantasies. Maybe one day they and their followers may get their wish to penetrate lower earth orbit and actually reach the moon but that will be a cold day in hell and the day when the cosmic intelligence of God is also fooled into believing their hoax to be true–thi may well be the only good use of the word impossible.
May truth be your way in 2023 and may God Bless the rejected and make what is to be revealed easy for the foolish as the meek prepare to inherit the earth.
How to deal with an inflexible, disconnected, disgraced local authority that gets to mark its own homework on its supposed Changepolicy?SPID Theatreon Ladbroke Grove spun its web and caught some official flies with an up-close performance of The Story of Fires and Floods. It then headed to the V & A to perform the same show and screen its film The History of Neglect. The event was also used to announce that SPID and residents of Kensal House are taking legal action against the council for its neglect.
Three of the protagonists break down how this all came about….
Act One – Sophia
‘Social, Progressive, Interconnected, Diverse!’ we shout.
The audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum rises, celebrating with us Kensal House Estate’s heritage and breathing life into the museum. The place buzzes with community spirit – artistic activism in action. It’s empowering to meet the eye of so many press and SPID funders as I announce class action against our landlord, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for their negligence.Continue reading →
Colin Hall, the Marmite headteacher of Holland Park School will retire at the end of this academic year having led the school for 21 years, a third of its history. Outstanding Ofsteds and the best-paid head in the country, but Hall leaves with a tarnished legacy. Just down the road from the school is Kensington Town Hall, where those who have overseen the council’s deficient response to the Grenfell Tower fire are still comfortably in positions of power. Hall’s reckoning contrasts with RBKC’s Taylor-Smith, Campbell, and Quirk, who have sailed through on a wave of spin with no media pushback against their running of the richest, most unequal local authority in the country.
News of resignations and appointments at Holland Park have been arriving in parents’ inboxes. The big one was provided, using death announcement vocabulary, by newly installed chair of governors Jane Farrell on 29th September:
Among the other resignations was former head of Lehman Brothers and major donor to the Conservative party, Michael Tory. Nominative determinism now exhausted, it seems that HPS will embrace a more centrist liberal inclusive philosophy with Farrell as chair of governors and the new New Labour-supporting Bercows representing the parents. The major turning point for the HPS old guard was an article in The Guardian last month by Fiona Millar, wife of Alistair Campbell.
There are obvious dots to be joined but there might be nothing more to this new centrist liberal power theme at HPS than coincidence. After all, the articles in The Guardian and The Times were served up by a highly organised campaign by former pupils and staff determined to expose what they call a “culture of humiliation.”
Two investigations are underway at the school, one independent and one by RBKC. Expect much to be added to the list of alleged abuses brought to the public’s knowledge by the Former HPS collective.
Yelling at children through a megaphone is both strange and abusive, as is sending the naughty children to the adventure playground on Southern Row so the mock Ofsted inspectors didn’t have to see them, and so is putting up ‘Wanted’ posters of unknowing children for their ‘Grade Ds in all subjects’.
The audio of a teacher screaming at children, recorded this month, is grim, but apparently the norm, and when this is considered alongside Mr Hall’s propensity to deliver long assemblies on the subject of himself, even to sixth formers on their final day, it suggests not just an abuse of power, but also an understanding among pupils and staff the power being abused is absolute and unchallengeable. From a distance HPS is surreal and eccentric, but if you’re there every day it’s real and normalised.
Still, these revelations alone, if they had happened in a more ‘normal’ comprehensive not on inner London billionaires’ row, would not have been enough to arouse the interest of The Guardian. Mr Hall is a complex headteacher, and plenty of parents like him and his approach, the way he sets about instilling high standards (at least aesthetically) for students. Will The Guardian follow the story as it moves on?
And what of The Guardian‘s silence on RBKC’s ongoing, very public failings? Holland Park is one of the schools that suffered from the entirely avoidable fire at Grenfell Tower, and Holland Park families continue to suffer under the local council also facing accusations of failure to meet its duty of care.
The difference? Perhaps RBKC’s 13-strong crack team of PR spinners pulling the wool, enabled by an establishment media staffed by journalists who consider the social order of Kensington, the haves and the have nots, as natural, or, at best, an opportunity for virtue signaling.
More detail on that another time, but it’s clear that The Guardian and the other establishment outlets have the power to tip the balance in certain situations, and there is enough evidence that RBKC has betrayed the Grenfell victims repeatedly and deliberately to justify serious analysis by the nation’s media.
Hall’s retirement was announced the same week that the Pandora Papers revealed that Kensington is home to billions of pounds worth of property owned by tax dodging members of the one percent. If I was aiming for power via Keir Starmer’s Labour party I probably wouldn’t want to piss off potential donors like Michael Tory by empowering North Kensington residents who might demand more democracy or even devolved power locally.
The Guardian gave a platform to the once voiceless of Holland Park School. That is good. But they don’t challenge other unaccountable power nearby.
The previous leadership of RBKC fell because they disrespected the mainstream media, trying to lock them out of a council meeting, something the government knew was a no-no. The despised social cleansers, Paget and Mellen, were made to resign and the pressure on the Tories eased. Their heirs at RBKC have been untroubled by an indifferent, ignorant media…
According to a study made by Bill Gates’ Microsoft, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds; in the year 2000 it was twelve seconds, that’s clearly a decline of four seconds per vicennial. I thank God for two things – I’m not a human being and I have never aspired to becoming average. Therefore my trimming, deflating, slashing and abridging these golden droplets from above, that continue their reign upon my heart, are justified (it seems pointless to continue writing beefy articles that require the commitment of attention).Any tech advocate would collect such data by means of data applications in a much more fluid and instant way than the manual labour that we were familiar with in the old analogous world of statistical data collation, RIP.
The analogue-digital transgression can be compared to buying instant noodlesvs. grandma’s delicious soup on a low, slow-burning fire. If it’s all the same to the machine, it would prefer to take the express option (always). As it has no taste or a heart, it needs to keep consuming as it’s mission is ‘more’ and will never become full, much like a pig. Therefore, instant would be the lucrative choice as speed is the goal. Man has to fast understand the difference between the heart, which is a divine pulse and the brain which is a programmable machine.
Historically, in the world’s best selling book, this cold, callous brain-thing has been likened to a beast since drawing such sensitive data with such efficacy carelessly diminishes quality and (without senses–taste) sets the platform for wicked mischief.
With society’s decline in cognition, it searches again for the most potent way to gain ground and within record time it decides on (without ethics) the most proven strategy for hiding information – in plain site. With this common slumber and the people’s lack of due diligence, we are left at the hands of a beast. Although I mention this in much more detail later, it may be wise to mention it now in case you do not make it to the end of this reasonably short writing. Although I was informed not to place ‘their’ jewels within a disrespectful environment, equity drives me to supply a final guided tour of this horrible mess as the divine is the pure love of truth. But in truth, the hardhead is all so exhausting.
The result of this is below; some short simple details that should answer all of the questions that today the patriotic mind seems unable to descry. Maybe it’s for fear of swallowing the unfamiliar truth and the moral responsibility that comes with knowing it. After reading this, I hope that common sense should lead one to conclude that this world dilemma is no different than the terrorist season (2001 to 2020) and the rights that were eroded in its name, never to be returned. Welcome to the Corona virus season where you will hear nothing but data to scare you out of your rights until you are in a box (over the ground or under).
I emphasise: there is no other point worth observing than the following.
Three and a half years on from the Grenfell Tower atrocity, councils in West London are back to the routine business of pursuing profit at the expense of residents. Rather than learning the lessons of the disastrous relationship between Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) and residents of North Kensington, just over the borough border, Westminster City Council is seeking to bypass resident rights to impose a detrimental new building development. Urban Dandy spoke to some of those affected and heard that Westminster has, to date, avoided genuine resident engagement.
RBKC & Westminster
Different boroughs, similar approaches, the border between RBKC and Westminster bisects Tavistock Crescent, with the eastern part of the road falling in Westminster. Harford House is the first building across the border, and its neighbour, a care home, is the site of Westminster Council’s proposed Westmead development for 65 new flats (10 ‘affordable’) in a bland, oversized block. Back across the border is Golborne, the most impoverished council ward in London, where life expectancy has declined by six years since 2010. This is the context for Harford House, an estate that is part of our neighbourhood yet is often missing from discussions because it happens to sit on a particular side of an invisible border.
Click here to see more on the Westminster website, reference 20/05708/COFUL.
This is not the first move against North Kensington residents since the Grenfell Tower of June 2017, when 72 people lost their lives and the whole area was profoundly traumatised. RBKC has inexorably returned to its previous role as antagonist to those who seek to preserve and uplift the local community. This blog recently outlined the ways in which RBKC leaders have failed to deliver on their promises to the Lancaster West estate, site of the burned out Tower.
Half a mile away from Grenfell Tower, Harford House residents face the same problem as that encountered by the Grenfell residents who tried to raise the alarm about their landlord’s irresponsible and avaricious plans for the Tower. The issues are crystal clear. Westminster doesn’t want to hear them, but here three local residents break it all down:
Problems with the proposed building by Lay-Mon Thaung, architect, resident of Leamington Road Villas
Westminster Council are seeking to destroy a good council estate and valuable community space. They must reconsider the scale and nature of the development and work with the community to consider alternative proposals.
The Westmead development site is dominated by 23 mature trees; a green square for all those who live around it. Some of these trees are the most mature trees in the area and significantly improve air quality. This is particularly important in North Kensington, which is in the shadow of the Westway flyover, constructed against the wishes of local residents. According to the anti-pollution campaign group RAP23:
70 people die from air pollution in North Kensington every year
Children born and growing up in North Kensington have smaller brains and lungs (due to there being less oxygen)
Miscarriages, still births and premature births increase in highly polluted areas and there is an 11% increase in dementia for people living 100 meters away from the Westway
Life expectancy is reduced by two to nine years due to pollution
The council want to remove ten mature, environment-preserving trees to make way for their over-scaled six-storey development. The new development would not only destroy the green square, it would block existing residents’ sunlight and views.
This site now needs the community’s protection for these reasons among others…
The existing Westmead site was designed under one coherent master plan, evident in the architectural style. All the buildings on the site and around it were built at the same time. The low 1-2 level nature of the care home sits low in the landscape, almost unnoticed, and acts more like a ‘green square’ with the trees dominant and central, enjoyed by all those who live around it. The houses on Tavistock Crescent are 4-storeys low (no lifts required) and they have a north-south orientation which implies they were never designed to have a higher development placed in front of them, because their south aspect is their only source of sunlight.
Likewise, Fallodon House (west of site, Tavistock Crescent, located in RBKC) was built under the same master plan, with single aspect flats, either facing west (away from site) or east looking directly onto the site. These three storey flats (from street level) or four storeys (from sunken ground level) are low and will be overshadowed by the new six-storey building which will block their only source of sunlight from the east.
The height of the existing Care home is congruent with the houses around it, which were orientated to look onto the green square and have good natural sunlight. The Westmead Care home forms part of an assembly of co-existing residential buildings, co-dependent on one another in terms of height, orientation, and aspect onto the green square to provide good sunlight and views to all residents. Once you understand these facts, you understand that anything that replaces the care home should also be low in nature.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) daylight and sunlight report submitted to accompany the planning application confirms numerous failures to meet the target values to ensure that neighbouring buildings retain adequate daylight and sunlight.
A Councillor in our ward who was formerly a town planner reviewed the daylight and sunlight report. This was his response:
‘There are significant losses to several living rooms in Harford House, on the lower ground, ground, first and second floors, on Leamington House, and in Fallodon House. If a building is breaching the light on three sides then that would raise my concerns.’
In the Covid era, with people working from their homes, the noise from a major three-year construction site which brings no benefits to the community is not welcome.
2. Conflict of Interest by Abraham Teweldebrhan, Film and TV Editor, Harford House resident
If the project was being pushed by a private developer, they would have to comply with all the rules and regulations imposed by local government. However, because the land belongs to Westminster Council and the developer is Westminster Council, they can break the rules with impunity. For example, this development is building higher than the mansard roofs that are no longer allowed in the neighbouring houses and it is removing trees which would otherwise have Tree Protection Orders.
Westminster Council are the site owner, developer and the approver. Westminster Council is submitting their proposal to themselves.
Communication has been very poor throughout. In our Zoom meetings with them, the Housing Programme Director was unable to answer direct questions and was dismissive of us. A greater effort could have been made to make sure every resident was made aware of such a major redevelopment. Just this week there were still residents who were not aware of this project or its true scale. We have been spending our evenings and weekends going round knocking on doors and putting posters up to let our neighbours know.
The developers have made pitiful attempts at outreach; leaflets written only in English, calls not returned, documents only available online… There is a wafer-thin pretence that this development is an improvement for the whole community but there is literally no upside for existing residents. None of our objections appear in the planning application.
3. Post-Grenfell, No Change? by Chris Arning, Entrepreneur, Harford House resident.
Resident anger has been compounded by a sense that adequate consideration has not been paid to our concerns. I am on the Tavistock Housing Co-Operative, responsible for spending service charge surpluses for improving this block and recently installed some new signage to spruce up the block’s aspect. I put two years’ work into planning this because our built environment hugely impacts our sense of self-esteem and wellbeing. Now, this ill thought out and frankly obnoxious Westmead development that City of Westminster seem intent on bulldozing through threatens everything I know residents love about this block – the beatific light coming through the South facing windows in the morning, green space and trees and the relative quiet.
Three years ago we saw the Grenfell tragedy happening in clear view of Harford House. I could only volunteer in the crisis, like many others around here, and felt so powerless around the abuse of power. The entirely preventable tragedy followed condescension towards social housing residents shown by Kensington & Chelsea. A similar attitude towards resident welfare and voice is being shown by Westminster, who I had always thought better of until seeing this proposal for Westmead.
Increasing Inequality in North Ken
The proposed development would provide a small number of ‘affordable’ housing and social housing units, but most of the flats will be private rental for the Council’s benefit. Even if the council replaced the care home beds on another site, we Harford House residents and other affected local residents, object to the total absence of any community thinking in the proposal.
Local residents have plenty of creative, workable suggestions of what would be congruent with the current neighbourhood, but Westminster seem determined to force their proposal through on their terms only without genuinely engaging resident expertise.
Once again, North Kensington communities are working overtime to be heard and taken seriously. So far, Westminster has given little space for resident voices to be heard. But without the residents’ input, the Westmead plan will remain ‘ill thought out’ and Westminster council will only reinforce their image as an ‘obnoxious’ local authority.
SPID (Social Political Innovative Direct) Theatre is in a nationally renowned, charitable theatre company based at a community space beneath Kensal House, a social housing block on Ladbroke Grove in North Kensington. SPID works on other estates too, on participatory youth performance projects aimed at regenerating community spaces. In summer 2019, SPID was awarded almost £2.5 million in funding to refurbish its Kensal House headquarters. Some Kensal House residents have opposed the refurbishment and SPID’s landlord, Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC,) appears set to block the renovation…
We are writing on behalf of the residents who support SPID Theatre’s refurbishment of Kensal House community rooms, as shown in our film. SPID is a mixture of residents and professionals who use local roots and national profile to champion high-quality community theatre on council estates. We are lucky to have had them here on our estate for fifteen years, making interactive youth shows which advocate for social housing.
Restoring and improving Kensal House estate community rooms is a dream we’ve shared with SPID ever since we asked them to run the neglected space. Four years ago they started fundraising for what we see as incredible plans. By June 2019 they finally confirmed an award of funding of £2.4 million from the London Mayor, the National Lottery and five other non-council funders. When RBKC refused permission – first for planning in Sept 17th 2019, and then for landlord’s consent December 31st 2019 – we took action at Kensington Town Hall.
It had been a tough day, mopping up leaks in Kensal House, an estate riddled with flooding pipes that force residents into temporary accommodation, despite our appeals to our council landlord to fix them.
Shivering in the shadow of Kensington’s town hall, it was a relief to be allowed in to appeal at planning committee. But once the hearing started, our ‘SPID stands for solidarity’ t-shirts felt flimsy and cold. ‘Helena Thompson is not a resident,’ said the first to speak against us. This opened the floodgates for others to attack SPID’s artistic director.
The sad fact is that here in North Kensington, infighting is rife. Thirty-one months on from the Grenfell Tower fire, the total absence of any justice is traumatising and re-traumatising the area. It suddenly matters how ‘local’ you are – with different factions competing for status while survivors, bereaved and affected local people continue to absorb insults from the national government. Here, Residents’ Associations are set against each other as if they are rivals. Here, leaders of faith and managers of community spaces are punished for working with the ‘wrong’ groups’. Mental health and trauma are the elephants in every North Kensington meeting room, yet RBKC imposes austerity including in its mental health budget.
The borough’s planning department had bowed to an onslaught of local objections which painted the charity we know and love as cutthroat, outsider property developers. Those who appealed to speak for SPID were cut off after just two minutes. We closed our eyes, and waited for the axe to fall…
The chair summarised the objections. He understood the concern over the extension into their communal garden. But in reality, changing the garden’s layout would not reduce it as the extension occupies one-tenth of the garden, with all green space to be replaced by extending the greenery. He listed the benefits: a new community space; investment that only a charity could secure; free activities for young people. As the councillors slowly raised their hands, the final vote swung things in our favour. In the silence, time seemed to stop.
We remembered all the changes SPID had been asked for and made. The escalating jealousy over the chance of investment, the endless objections to everything, from disabled access to building works. We were relieved, but we also felt loss, for the love that North Kensington estates had always stood for.
SPID’s youth, advocacy and living history work are all about that fellowship. They champion social housing for the unique way it stamps community itself into architecture. This is where the union of people and place and time is most sacred. And this is what we stand to lose if we let the community divide and destroy itself at the time we most need to be strong.
We will always stand by SPID, and be forever grateful to the people who do the same. We are sorry for the misplaced frustration they’ve suffered, for the bullying and false accusations. We share their passionate conviction that community investment in social housing benefits everyone. But SPID have shown us that suffering a hate campaign does not have to mean reciprocal hating.
RBKC – Slum Landlord?
And now we have a new challenge and we are prepared to stand with them and to stand firm. On the eve of 2020, the council decided to deny landlord’s consent because of objections already addressed at the town hall – the plans have listed building consent, and support from Historic England, and cannot be altered again without losing funding.
For no benefit, RBKC’s decision to withhold sacrifices everything. It means the community rooms will continue to deteriorate and become unsafe as Kensal House and SPID’s shared heritage continues to decline – with frequent leaks, ancient electrics, no disabled access, and blocked fire exits. Kensal House residents will no longer receive investment to spend on improving their neglected homes and the communal benefit for the whole estate will not materialise.
There will be no additional space available when the hall is booked, and local people will be deprived of paid work placements, new jobs, and free business mentoring. Local youth will be deprived of free drama, heritage, sports, filmmaking and homework clubs. In short, an area that is suffering a £1.1 million cut to its already insufficient youth provision, is about to spurn a substantial financial injection.
The prospect is heart breaking. After 15 years of fighting for investment in social housing, SPID had raised unprecedented funding from the Mayor and the Lottery, with no help from RBKC. The theatre even pledged their own reserves towards improvements for the whole of the estate. SPID asked the council to invest at the same time by finally doing their statutory duty and bringing all of Kensal House up to standard. Instead, RBKC rejected a timeline to fix the estate’s leaks and vetoed the urgently needed refurbishment.
Residents For Refurb was set up with support from SPID’s Estate Voices program to challenge this decision. We believe that if the council listened properly to North Kensington residents, they would have fixed the chronic leaks on the whole estate, consulted with the thousands of local residents who use the space each week, and granted consent for the urgently needed refurbishment. There is a petition to restore the dignity Kensal House community rooms deserves by finally giving this crumbling building and local young people a future.
RBKC’s dithering and lack of leadership over SPID suggest a strategy of divide and rule by the council in this proud community. Millions of pounds can fall by the wayside and there is no formal process available for the tenant to challenge the landlord. There is however a deadline of 31st January for us to persuade the council to reverse its denial of consent.
As it stands, the future direction of SPID theatre and Kensal House is dictated by how RBKC feels, politically. Their claims of wanting to improve North Kensington appear hollow and their track record of overseeing managed decline does not give us cause for hope. But we will continue to push for positive change in North Kensington. Will this council, for once, show some leadership?
Ivor Flint and Joseph Rodrigues are residents of Kensal House
Residents for Refurb: email@example.com
Urban Dandy features in a new Ezine, curated by Toby Laurent Belson. This first edition brings together the words of local writers, campaigners, film makers and artists to reveal the context in which the Grenfell Tower fire took place.
The Zine represents some of the best of the North Kensington community: creativity, diversity, openness, unity and defiance…above all a commitment to life in the face of forces that work against it.
The Zine is an ideal primer for those who want to learn more about this unique area, as well as a timely reminder that the Grenfell Tower atrocity did not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of policy decisions and systemic attitudes towards the population of North Kensington.
As the struggle in North Ken continues, Writings from the Roots will stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of the people of this area who continue to face down injustice and insults from the same forces that were at work long before 14th June 2017.
Some words of introduction from Toby Laurent Belson are below. You can open a digital version of the Ezine here: North_Kensington_Writings_1and print copies are available at local libraries (Ladbroke Grove & Kensal), the Venture Centre, Acklam Village, Henry Dickens Community Centre and the Taberncale, where there will be an official launch on Saturday 15th June at 6pm.
Over to Toby:
“It has been produced to respond to a couple of specific things:
1 An acknowledgement that the strong online presence and platforms of our grassroots activities are not always matched by offline efforts (albeit for good reason given the next level of resource and commitment some of these outcomes require).
2 To make clear that there are strong and established networks in this community. Just as in the 60s and 70s, where the People’s Association and their centres acted as a gathering space for a multitude of autonomous groups or All Saints Road was a space of Black communiity resistance. Things are connected.
3 To publish a piece that (amongst others) will act as a marker. Having done various research over the years, the value of published works and outstanding ephemera has become clear. And the need for communities and individuals to produce their own stories and present their own narratives has also become clear. We need more books, more zines, more leaflets, more posters, more songs, more films, more artworks, more exhibitions, more talks, more libraries and more archives. We have the skills in and around the community to do it all.
This is a further development of the ‘North Kensington Healing’ artwork produced for the ‘Shifaa (Healing)’ edition of the Khidr Collective zine released in January 2018.
In continuing to explore the nature of this part of my home, West London, roots are discovered that go further out and further down with an endless diversity of trunks, branches, blossoms and leaves that make more and more sense. It’s amazing and I encourage everyone to keep on contributing and cultivating to this healing, this culture, this freedom.”
In 2018, Urban Dandy was the recipient of an apparent leak regarding the Westway Trust. Emailing anonymously and identifying themselves only as “someone recently connected with the Trust” the whistle blower presented us with a “summary of events” that allegedly led to the Trust’s 2018 CEO appointments, its decision to allow the BBC to build at Bay 20 for the DIY SOS Grenfell specials and the overlap between these two stories.
A bit of background…
What is the Westway Trust?
The Westway Trust (formerly North Kensington Amenities Trust) is responsible for one mile / 23 acres of land under the Westway section of the A40 in North Kensington, crossing Portobello Road and Ladbroke Grove, passing close to the Grenfell Tower and ending at Latimer Road. This custodianship began when the Westway was opened in 1970. The Trust’s remit is to ensure the land is used for the benefit of the local community as compensation for the concrete eye sore that dominates, darkens and pollutes the areas underneath it.
Westway Trust’s relationship with the local community is a complex one. The Trust provides vital services, including spaces for charities and supplementary schools. However, there is rancour among many local residents at aspects of the Trust’s work and approach, some of which has been covered by us, see the links at the end of the article. The Westway Trust is currently undergoing a review by the Tutu Foundation following claims of institutional racism.
What is Bay 20?
Bay 20 is one small section of the land under the A40 in the care of the Westway Trust and had remained undeveloped by the Trust. The space was once used by Carnival Industrial Enterprise as a steel pan yard; highly skilled musicians would make and tune pans, maintaining important local heritage and offering apprenticeships. This was abandoned by the Trust who inserted an art installation: a bleached-purple moonscape, which remained the only inhabitant of Bay 20 for over a decade.
The BBC built two community spaces on Bay 20 in 2018: one was the Dale Youth boxing club, a replacement for the facility destroyed in the June 14th 2017 Grenfell fire; the other a community centre and meeting space, to be run by a community operator, not the Westway Trust due to its historic inability to secure the confidence of the local population. The building work and subsequent grand openings were subjects of the BBC prime time programme, DIY SOS. There were serious concerns raised about the BBC’s involvement at Bay 20 including over the light tone of the programmes and the fact that community land was being used to replace a gym lost in an entirely preventable fire. See the links at the end of the article for more.
Bay 20’s close proximity to Grenfell Tower and the fact that it lay unused made it an attractive choice for the BBC to tell a Grenfell-related story.
Who leaked the stories to us?
Our Mr/Ms X said that for legal reasons (Westway Trust has confidentiality agreements with staff and trustees) they could not go on the record with what they called their “summary” of events.
We had no way of verifying X’s credentials, but we checked the information with another person “recently connected with the Trust” and they responded that “this guy is so right!!”
X told us: “I have been connected with the Westway Trust for a number of years, I was appalled by Angela McConville the last CEO of the Trust and further appalled, that when she left she was given a glowing endorsement by Alan Brown (Westway Trust Chair) and a hefty chunk of her bonus – allegedly £12k.”
There is more background on Angela McConville’s time at Westway Trust here.
X presented us with some allegations against the Westway Trust:
The Trust conducted a CEO appointment process that was deliberately closed and “directly connected” to sealing a deal with the BBC for Bay 20
Of the two members of the four-person Westway Trust Executive Team who argued for an open CEO appointment process, one left with immediate effect while the other was being “performance managed” out at the time of the leak. The other two executive members are now the joint CEOs
The BBC wanted maximum value for its ‘Grenfell special’ and so made two programmes rather than the usual one, leading to a halving of the potential space used for the new community centre
X told us:
“Many hoped both inside and outside of WT that there would be a chance of a new approach, fresh ideas and a fresh beginning (a promised CEO selection with an open process at last December’s (2017’s) AGM – this promise was recorded by Westway 23) – Many were completely devastated to understand very recently that the WT chair and board, with the aid of the interim CEOs, had decided to undertake a “closed and secret internal process” to appoint (from interim role to permanent) as joint CEOs.”
The joint CEOs appointed in 2018 were Mark Lockhart and Alex Russell.,
X: “Mark Lockhart (at WT for 25 years), was involved from one bad administration to the next. Alex Russell – who Angela McConville recruited and personally mentored – is from a professional private sector Communications Consultancy and was hired to gain the upper hand in the comms war (as Angela saw it) with the Community.
“The Westway Trust Chair and the Westway Board (not including the community trustee who completed her resignation in protest at such a closed process) decided against the promised “Open and Inclusive Process” of CEO appointment, and instead decided to pursue a closed campaign to appoint long serving Mark Lockhart (who knows where the bodies are buried!) and Alex Russell. They are both seen as a safe pair of hands who will not make any radical changes at the Trust.
“Post Grenfell and with the BBC DIY/SOS sniffing around the area for a Grenfell branded project, the BBC proposition for Bay 20 was seen by the two interim CEO’s as a “gold-plated opportunity” to make their role’s permanent (within a closed system of appointment and with an absence of competition), by rapidly developing a site that had remained dormant for some 47 years. Thereby impressing their paymasters and appointers on the Board and giving Alan Brown an immediate good news story – much needed after his glowing endorsement of Angela McConville’s tenure.
“The interim CEOs seized upon the BBC need for the DIY/SOS light entertainment show and threw their full energy behind the Bay 20 project, diverting WT resources to make it happen, they wanted success and to impress at all costs…to show the Board that they could deliver a development (any development) and that’s why there was no community consultation.
“Unfortunately, this ambition was at all costs, they conceded on point after point to the BBC and encouraged the BBC to stick with the project despite very mixed community sentiment, they ploughed on, not listening to the displeasure of their own staff and the doubts of other stakeholders – that this project was not representative of the Community, was in bad taste and could be seen as exploitative of the Grenfell disaster. They sold out the land (and community) in a heartbeat (for their own self-promotion), land that had been left unused and wasted by the Trust for the last 47 years.”
X: “There were four members of the Trust Executive Team, including the two current CEOs, the other two Executive Directors advocated strongly for an open process. One has now left (by immediate agreement), the second one is currently being performance managed out the door…”
X: “The BBC wanted to get their money’s worth and make “two (DIY SOS) programmes,” the interim CEOs gave them two buildings – one for each programme. That explains the curious design – two buildings with a big road through the middle which serves no purpose but to make two TV programmes for DIY SOS. No matter that the one third of the site is not developed and could have been used to “double the size of the Community Room building” (does this really make best use of a charity asset?) – the BBC demanded, and the Trust CEOs willingly gave, to keep them from walking away. This would be Mark Lockhart and Alex Russell’s crowning project, one that would surely confirm their permanent CEO appointment and keep the process closed to competition and safeguard the Trust from change.
“The CEOs also willingly signed-off all the building contract “defects liability” clauses to allow Galliard Homes (the builder) to leave them completely free of any responsibility on putting right defects over the first year of operation despite knowing that the building was being thrown-up in double quick time. Galliard Homes now have no liability to come back and put defects right! Defects will be paid for out of the Trust’s coffers – No matter! – continue building…’we need to impress.’
“The builders built the overhang too low – no matter – let’s build round it on Maxilla Gardens – screw the environment to build over some of the grass on Maxilla Garden. No consultation or community publicity for this additional planning submission…”
X ‘s Summary
X gave his/her summary: “This is a very sad story…leaving the Community unconsulted and exploited again! And the Grenfell legacy “exploited” to serve an ambition of becoming a CEO of the Westway Trust – it’s ironic that for 47 years Bay 20 remained a wasted asset, despite community representations and then when it really suited those in power it was all hastily made to happen!
“It is a clear example of how secrecy and one bad decision leads to another and another….
“BUT it worked! The Westway Trust Board and Chair now has two new permanent CEOs appointed in a closed process and in the most terrible fashion.
“This is all terrible, however there is a bigger story of how a ‘closed CEO process’ gives rise to many a bad decision, concealment of the Truth and was actually a “key driver” of WT getting into bed so quickly with the BBC DIY SOS, concealing bad decisions and arriving with the peculiar, inefficient design of two buildings and the curious internal road that takes up a third of the site…..very wasteful”.
Westway Trust Response
Charles Howgego, spokesman for the Westway Trust responded to X’s claims:
On the allegation that the Trust conducted a CEO appointment process that was deliberately closed and “directly connected” to sealing a deal with the BBC for Bay 20:
“This was not the case… there was never any discussion about how the BBC project would impact the making of those appointments…the Board of Trustees would never make an appointment based on one project such as the BBC build, a project with no guarantees until it was built particularly given the voluntary basis on which people involved were working.
“During this time Mark and Alex also impressed the board with the strategy they put forward of community first, of openness and responsiveness, and it was felt that was what the Trust needed to mend relationships with some parts of the community, and to create an organisation that works with and for the community – an approach that has seen some notable developments already:
The commissioning of Tutu Foundation’s institutional racism review
The establishment of the Charity Purposes Community to oversee community benefit in our projects
Change in approach to property development making it more community-determined
A new staff council to democratise decision-making
A new Equalities Working Group and a new focus on equality and diversity training
Establishing a steering group of local people to run the Bay 20 community centre (who will shortly appoint a local operator)
All grant making now devolved to local people”.
On the claim that the the two non-CEO members of the four-person Westway Trust Executive Team who argued for an open CEO appointment process left because of the CEO recruitment process:
“It is true one member of the executive team felt disappointed by the Board’s decision and resigned a month after. It is absolutely not the case that another person was being performance managed – that second member of the executive team left the organisation when roles were reorganised around current activities and the new strategy, and they declined to take on one of the new positions created.”
On the BBC’s making of two ‘Grenfell special’ allegedly ‘halving’ the space used for the new community centre:
“The BBC approached us with proposals for building a boxing gym and a community centre. There was never a proposal on the table to build one big community centre that was then halved.
“The BBC approached the Trust in September 2017 and we engaged with the community throughout November. The BBC wanted to move at a faster pace than we would have liked but it was decided that a community-run community space and a new home for Dale Youth Boxing Club would be an amazing opportunity”.
The Westway Trust told us: “The Board has sanctioned a programme of profound change in the Trust’s approach to its work, which is an ongoing process. The Trust’s constitution is being reviewed next year as part of this new approach and will create further change.
“The Trust has been accused of a lack of transparency and this has been a key driver in the changes undertaken by the new leadership team. Openness is now one of the Trust’s operating values and it is encumbent on all Trust staff to be open, to engage and consult wherever possible”.
Links to Previous Westway Trust and Bay 20 Stories