KCTMO: Who, What, Where, When & Why – Part One

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) was responsible for running the Lancaster West estate, including Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington. This year, its responsibility for Lancaster West was terminated following the Grenfell Tower fire of June 14th 2017, which killed 72 people. But what is KCTMO? Has it really ceased to exist? And why do these initials provoke such antipathy in North Kensington?

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A Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) is traditionally a small, tenant-led group that takes over some of the landlord management responsibilities and oversight for an estate from a local authority. Of the 200 TMOs in Britain, the KCTMO was distinct in being an Arms-Length Management Organisation (ALMO) and therefore, by its very design, not representative of residents. KCTMO was created to directly take over the council’s management of its social housing, rather than to provide representative oversight.

Creation

The KCTMO story takes place against the backdrop of Conservative party predominance over the Kensington and Chelsea council. This was no different in 1996, when the council feared it might lose control of its social housing stock, which was subject to a compulsory tendering strategy from national government. To maintain its control, the council created the KCTMO, with its management team of 20, including, initially, 13 residents. In the plan, KCTMO would take control of the borough’s 9,000 social housing properties, but for major works (costing over £400,000, such as the Grenfell Tower refurbishment) liability was shared equally with the council.

Change

In 2002, to access the Labour government’s Decent Homes funding, KCTMO became an ALMO, reducing the number of tenants on its board whilst maintaining the TMO designation in its name. By the late 00s, serious issues were emerging. An independent report in 2009 identified “substandard” repairs and a need for major works, recommending the Tory council take a greater role in monitoring KCTMO.

In response to the alarming report, newly appointed KCTMO chief executive Robert Black pledged to build trust between the TMO and tenants. But this did not come to pass.

In 2013, when I lived on the estate, the Estate Management Board at Lancaster West was wound up. There were “terrifying” power surges at Grenfell Tower and plans for the Kensington Academy secondary school and new Kensington Leisure Centre, next to Grenfell Tower were not received enthusiastically by residents, the sense being that KCTMO and the council were out of touch with, and even dismissive of, residents’ voices.

Refurbishment Continue reading

RAT

I won’t be herded

Only to be murdered

By the feudal rules

Bootprints on my head

Leaving me for dead

 

Could turn any man to drink!

To stop the over-think

Of swimming against the tide

Universal truths denied

 

Left drowning in this madness

Hiding from the sadness

That futility brings

Like a never-ending Autumn

Where everything’s decaying – dying

Those of us who have stopped trying

Picking plastic flowers

Fighting against dark powers

This the eleventh hour

Such terror it will bring

 

Yet deep within my soul

A constant song I sing

Of hope, of love, of freedom

New life – forever Spring…

 

 

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©M.C. Bolton, October 2018

 

Photo by Angel Lewis, All Saints Road, October 2018

Autumn Nights

Staring through the flames

of my inner fire

smoke filling the dark echo chamber of my soul

where whispered words

emerge as a desperate scream

 

What is truth?

This eerie place

without birdsong or dew

what is truth?

 

Slowly the heavens open

like a giant peach bursting

exposing a new dimension

torn apart like a repentant saint

rending his garments

frustrated in defeat to God’s grace

 

This pitiful last stand

of self-righteousness

vanquished, destroyed

Falsehood – like dross

burnt into a fine powder

blown away

by that eternal whirlwind

of revolving dust

 

A sandstorm to the masses

blinding what little vision they possess

deluded – beyond hope

For they did not reach in or reach out

to the almighty creator

who will cut my silk thread

where I will float above the trees

like a lost child’s baloon

looking down upon my body

Finally free – finally home…

 

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M.C. Bolton, September 2018

Grayson Perry – Descent of Man Review

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Picture from Penguin Books

 

The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry is not a forensic study of its subject and so doesn’t lend itself to a particularly academic review. However, it introduces a couple of phrases to the lexicon that are well worth contemplation.

The book is premised on the notion that ‘upgrading’ men to improve their ‘adaptability’ to the modern world would be of huge benefit to men, women and the planet. Grayson Perry’s premise is well understood, and his opinions which fill the book are intelligent and apt.

Ample ink is spent pointing out male domination of various aspects of human affairs, something of a stream of consciousness, sprinkled with empathy for the position of men in 2018 and heavy dollops of ridicule of boorish male behaviour. Perry is knowledgeable without going the extra mile, and as a result The Descent of Man is as valid a review of masculinity as any well-intentioned and considered opinion on the subject. Continue reading

Part Two

Dark Stars

I fly into the dark star

at the edge of the Universe

falling into my constant dreams

matter cascading over the edge

like a forgotten run bath

 

Taps gushing light – energy

Just bending my mind

stretching my thoughts

beyond the sun…

 

spinning internally

a prisoner to the law of time

Dimension’s diamonds pushing me to the limit

of comprehension, of understanding

 

My soul, my spirit

fizzing like a treacle stick grenade

exploding my conscience into being

to what? for what?

a purpose? a reason?

 

I know nothing

I mean nothing

Just a fading mist

upon a hill of beans….

 

Poem ©M.C. Bolton, June 2018

Drawing ©Tom Charles @tomhcharles