Friday, 27 April 2012

Omnishambolic; #doubledipstick; thoughts of yesteryear

In a week going from bad to worse for the government, the PM is rudely nicknamed ‘Camoron’ in no less than the Telegraph (ok it was a forum). His totally idiotic comments about children standing up as their parents enter a room leave us unsure as to whether we have entered a time warp and have gone all wiggly only to wake up in the world of yesteryear - or if the PM’s finally lost it.

'The Day the PM forgot to tip'. Here's a tip for you, waitresses are not servants, they live on tips.

This was quickly followed by his denial that he was ‘lazy’, stating instead that he could be a good PM, husband and father, with some rather yucky comments about date nights that we really could have done without. All pretty weak as an attempt to distract from the business of alleged dodgy or corrupt practice and ‘understandings’ with the Murdoch empire.

On a similar theme I decided to try out a neologism for Gideon Osborne in the light of his recent impact on the economy; I even got a hashtag going on twitter thus - #doubledipstick. Very funny and gave me hours of fun though I don’t think anyone used it. However I googled it and it seems it’s an actual term for a rather weird sexual practice that in all my years I had never heard of. Oops. Don’t look it up, better to live in ignorance. No, really.

In our own little world in K&C there is equal consternation and concern about the upcoming election. What if Ken won? What if Todd won? Just how insufferable would the Labour Group be? (I know the answer to that.)

At some point the majority party will work out that we do not live in The World of Yesteryear. When we walk into the Town Hall we do not go all wiggly only to wake up in a Disneyfied version of the past, however comfortable they feel with archaic practices, olde worlde clothes and terms of address, feudal attitudes, and deference from officers who generally are far more knowledgeable and better qualified than many Cllrs.

Remember the lesson of The Servant.


... and remember the second lesson for the day, 'No negative self-talk'

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

What they say vs what they do

'Housing estates should be bulldozed because they don't vote Tory'

Readers, you would be truly amazed to hear some of the comments that our Tory Councillors make. Sometimes this may be an aside, something they don't wish you to hear, but more often it's shouted loud and proud in full Council meetings.

We have one tonight. I wonder what they will let slip?

''fortress-like concrete estates full of fear and paranoia ... ghettoes for the poor'

Now we are discussing the regeneration of parts of North Kensington. Do you think the Councillors who say these things about our neighbourhood should be in charge of it? Can we trust people who say: 'North Kensington is like East Berlin with all the concrete buildings'

One of our senior Tories who has a say in Planning, once said of Trellick Tower, a Grade II* listed building very much admired in the international architecture community: 'a monstrosity not worth putting a lightbulb in'
I think we know who the monster is here!

So will they ask residents what they want, or will they do what they think is 'good for us'? Given that one of them said: 'We don't DO community consultation', I wonder if they will. After all the residents of what was called: 'A dung heap' can hardly be trusted, can they?

Now, under the Localism Act, they will be formally obliged to consult, to listen, and to act to residents' aspirations. So we would like to say, 'Shape up; we are watching you'.

And by the way, yes, I do remember who said what.


POSTSCRIPT: What we asked for was reasonable and fair, and well within the guidelines of the new Localism Act which, despite some notable weaknesses, should be good news for community consultation. We offered our support, and to cooperate by encouraging commitment from the local community for the Crossrail station at Kensal Gasworks. We gently suggested that it could be rebranded:

But sadly control-freakery won the night. The Tory amendment demanded that we agree 'unequivocally' to support the station. As my ward colleague stated 'NO BLANK CHEQUE'. Why would we agree to something for which the terms have yet to be stated? Planning have told us that plans for the Gasworks 'are evolving as we speak'. And yet the Tories told us it was 'too early for any discussion'. It's the 'too early-too late' game they play on major planning sites, and it's most unworthy. Remember, we are watching you!

Legal and corporate officers: out of courtesy I hope always to give you something interesting to look at. As previously stated you will find nothing libellous here, I always check.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A Community betrayed: truth; poverty; cars

'Saviour of Golborne' - site for first phase of much loathed Wornington Green development

The GLA poverty figures showing Golborne to be joint poorest ward in London were first disbelieved then challenged by the Council. The ensuing report, however, found precisely what the Labour Group had stated at the bad-tempered Budget meeting on 7 March – Golborne Ward is joint poorest ward in London, on extent measure.

As stated here previously, extent measure is probably the most devastating measure, especially in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – as it reflects a uniformity of deprivation throughout the ward, all of which is in the most deprived 10%, and some in the 5% most deprived in London.

So much for the ‘regeneration’ projects carried out in Golborne, the well-meaning but purely decorative Council-funded greening of grotty bits, and the dodgy art installations, some of which residents object to so violently that they tear them down. What have these ‘regeneration’ projects achieved but sanitising the true extent, and the depth, of poverty here? Old people who cannot afford to eat three times a day, children going to school with bad teeth – not from poor hygiene, but malnutrition in the womb, and early years. It brings shame on the richest borough in Europe, which is wreaking unforgivable cuts in the north of the borough while spending oodles of residents’ money on Olympic high-jinks elsewhere.

Not to mention the £23m spent on Exhibition Road. A road.

So much for the trickle-down effect of the ‘boutiquelicious’ shops invading Golborne Road, not to mention the nine-year presence of Stella McCartney’s fashion studio, whose arrival created such greed in the area that landlords hiked up their rents and many local shops were, and still are being, priced out of the area they serve.

In the midst of this local reflection, possibly the most ignorant and inaccurate article I have ever read appeared in the Standard. Announcing the opening of the sales office for the first phase of the Wornington Green development, the journalist gushed so imaginatively I can only imagine they are after a job with the PR firm of tall tale-spinning developer Catalyst Housing Group.

To be precise:
1, Golborne is a ‘lost neighbourhood’ [this, in the very first sentence, is utter blx]
2, ‘Portobello Square’ has won an RIBA award [no it hasn’t, it won a far less prestigious, though still mystifying, Housing Design Award]
3, Wornington Green has in reality been renamed Portobello Square [no it hasn’t, this is a marketing name, Portobello Square is an actual square further down Portobello Road]
4, Trellick Tower is being bought out by architects. [No, out of 217 flats, just 34 have sold, and most of them to Right to Buy tenants.]
5, Stella McCartney ‘discovered’ Golborne and her presence ‘heralded’ the ‘lost neighbourhood’s arrival’. [No, no and no. In her nine years in Golborne Road, she has done precisely nothing, zero, zilch, nada, not a sausage for the community. Ressie groups and school reps and others asking for contributions to Christmas lights, t-shirts for children’s footie clubs, fun days etc, have been turned away, while the most struggling market stallholder would donate something. She or her business has also been accused, rightly or wrongly, of: complaining about the smell of food, after moving her business into a hot food stall and market area; demanding that stalls should be removed from pitches outside her premises as cars need to drop people off there; complaining that market vans to the rear of her premises that park on their own allocated spaces should be removed, as she wants to park there herself; demanding that the entire Golborne market should be moved onto Portobello Road; buying half the properties on the new Wornington Green mews to keep the grockles out.]

Link to article:">

Some if not all of this may be exaggerated or invented, but in nine years I have never even seen SMc, her shutters are permanently closed and doors shut tight. With painful irony, as SMc reaps the rewards for her Olympic kit, a local church group is scrabbling for a few hundred quid to put on an Olympic-themed sports day in a local park, as K&C Council is doing precisely nothing for local children to celebrate the Olympics, but actually cut school sports funding.

How can she be the saviour of a neighbourhood which has got poorer while she enjoys its ‘edgy’ location?

A less personal version of this text including a report on the progress or otherwise of the Wornington Green development, will appear in a national publication shortly; link in a future blog.

Corporate lawyers and officers:

There is nothing litigious in this blog – I always check.

Here is a nice picture for you to look at instead.