The Kensington Society blog

Elizabeth Campbell’s speech

At the first council meeting after the Grenfell disaster, the newly elected council leader Elizabeth Campbell pledged that the council would fundamentally change its culture and work much closer with community groups from now on. She announced that the council had secured 99 homes for the survivors from Grenfell Tower, and that they are trying to buy a further 20 that are for sale in North Kensington. She also promised that the future of the Grenfell Tower site will be decided together with the community.
We have the full speech.

An even more unbalanced cabinet

On Wednesday evening, Elizabeth Campbell, the new council leader, announced her cabinet. It has three fewer members than the previous and it is, unfortunately, even more unbalanced in favour of Chelsea and the southernmost parts of Kensington.
Although 80% of the borough's population lives in Kensington, 70% of the cabinet members represent Chelsea wards, and there is only one cabinet member north of Old Brompton Road.

The week that was: 10 July - 16 July

During the fourth full week after the Grenfell Tower fire, the Met announced that the starting point of their criminal investigation is that the fire was manslaughter; it was revealed that building certificates for the insulation state that it can only be used together with non-combustible panels; the names of those assisting the inquiry‘s chairman were announced; and the consultation period for determining the scope of the inquiry was extended to 28 July.

Council meeting to be webcast live

The council meeting on Wednesday 19 July is expected to draw a record audience. It's the first time all the councillors meet since May, and the dominating subject will be the Grenfell Tower disaster and the equally disastrous way it was handled by the council leadership the days after the fire.
Because of the big public interest, the meeting will be held in the Great Hall, but it will also be broadcast live over the internet, so all those who can't attend can see it.

The unbalanced cabinet

The current RBKC cabinet is heavily unbalanced in favour of Chelsea. Although 80% of the population lives in Kensington, half of the 11 cabinet members represent its little kid sister Chelsea.
If the cabinet was to reflect the spread of both the population and the councillors, 9 of the cabinet members should come from Kensington wards.

The week that was: 3 July - 9 July

The third full week after the Grenfell Tower fire was dominated by two meetings between the survivors and the authorises, which clearly demonstrated the frustration and anger felt.
It was also revealed that the RBKC council more than any other in England place homeless families outside its own borough. More than 900 have been in temporary accommodation outside the borough for over a year.

Our message to the Tory councillors

On Monday 3 July, when the Conservative councillors were about to select the next council leader among themselves, the Kensington Society sent them an email, urging them to select someone who recognises the need for a genuine culture change in the council and can engage with all sections of the community. Later that evening they chose Chelsea councillor Elizabeth Campbell.

The week that was: 26 June - 2 July

The second full week after the Grenfell Tower fire saw the resignation of the KCTMO head, the leader of the council and the deputy leader. The week also saw the appointment of the judge who will lead the public inquiry, and it was revealed that the refurbishment plans originally specified fire-resistant zinc cladding, but this was replaced with a much cheaper aluminum cladding with plastic core.

Nick Ross' email

Kensington Society’s president, Nick Ross, has been campaigning for better fire safety for many years. On Thursday, 22 June, he wrote a poignant email to a journalist about some misconceptions about Kensington, and about the years of disinterest for better fire regulations displayed by national politicians from both the main parties.

The Grenfell Tower fire

We are all shocked by the horrific fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in northern Kensington in the early hours of Wednesday 14 June. Shocked not just by the enormous death toll and human suffering, but just as much by the inability of both our council and the government to provide help during the first couple of days to all those who had been made homeless. While the fire services, the police and the ambulances were the heroes we expect them to be, the relief work was left to the local community groups.