RBKC Labour Opposition Group Release, 5th June 2020
Conservative-controlled RBKC promised to be an open, transparent and listening Council after the Grenfell Tower Fire. But on the eve of the third anniversary of the Fire that killed 72 Borough residents in the worst disaster in peacetime history, it’s clear the Conservatives are returning to the bad old ways of the past.
In a sudden and startling move it was announced that the virtually-held 3rd June Leadership Team meeting would not permit any scrutiny questions from Labour councillors or members of the public who could attend but not speak.
The agenda included a Grenfell Recovery Strategy update, a Covid-19 Response report and others on new house builds construction works, Portobello Road Market and a supplementary planning document on community housing.
One Labour member who did attend forced the Council Leader to allow two questions after they made public they were being censured. This debacle no doubt contradicted the Council Leader’s many promises about listening and learning.
Labour Group leader Councillor Pat Mason said, “Stopping elected scrutiny councillors from holding the leadership to account for their decisions by banning them from speaking at a public meeting is anti-democratic. Actions speak louder than words, and the message received is that the leadership do not require anyone to hold them to account”
117 British Citizens and Residents Stranded in Sudan – North Kensington Labour Councillors ask Foreign Secretary to fly them back to the U.K.
RBKC Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pat Mason, has written to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP, asking him to act urgently to rescue 117 British citizens stranded in Sudan with little hope of leaving unless the government charters an aircraft to fly them out.
They are running out of food and money, they cannot afford commercial flights even if the Sudanese government had not closed Khartoum Airport and have been harassed by soldiers in recent days.
Cllr Pat Mason said, “I’ve asked Dominic Raab to fund a charter flight to rescue our 117 citizens in Sudan from the £75million the government has set aside to fly home stranded British travellers. The government knows these people are stranded with no means to return home but have so far failed to take the urgent action needed”.
Pat Mason, Councillor, Leader of the Labour Opposition Group
My usual response to trolling on social media
is ‘one factual rebuttal and walk away’. However, the false accusations linking
me to the decision on the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has returned once again. A good friend of mine was once physically
attacked for defending me on this.
So here are some checkable facts which I hope
will end this libel.
I joined the Board of the TMO in June 2008
and left in October 2012. Here is a link to the Board of Directors, also
showing which Councillors were on it and when. Council Leader Cllr Elizabeth
Campbell was on the Board at the same time as me:
During my tenure there had been numerous
complaints from residents about the condition of Grenfell Tower: broken lifts,
draughty windows, poor insulation, and the heating and hot water system
regularly breaking down.
In October 2012 (around the time I left the
TMO) the then Cabinet Member Cllr Tim Coleridge announced that a major
refurbishment would be undertaken. Residents were pleased. At the time the
proposed contractor was Leadbitter. The scope of the work was agreed at the
time, but the detail was to come. Link to press release:
In April 2014 it was announced by the Council
and TMO that due to costs the contract had been awarded to Rydon rather than
Leadbitter who had scoped the work. Note that this was AFTER the planning
application was granted approval:
Throughout the summer amendments were made
and detailed specifications decided. Cladding materials proposed at 1 July 2014:
There were several amendments during this
period. Often the details of these are done by ‘delegated decision’, which
means the final details and choice of materials is decided by officers and not
the Planning Committee.
Then on 30 September 2014 ‘Condition 3’ was
agreed by delegated decision; this related to the final choice of cladding:
Who made those decisions, advised by whom,
and why, should be thoroughly scrutinised by the agencies tasked with the job
of investigating these matters and allocating accountability, responsibility,
blame and – we hope ultimately – guilt.
To be clear, I was on the Board when the
principle of refurbishing Grenfell Tower was discussed, but I was nowhere near
the decision-making process for the detailed specifications for refurbishing Grenfell
which started when I left. Board members agreed the contract but do not specify
cladding or indeed any other technical details. Neither should they.
on 16 June a report in the Standard said: ‘She (EDC) was on the board of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management
Organisation when the tower’s refurbishment was discussed. Kensington’s ex-Tory
MP, Victoria Borwick, said Ms Dent Coad shared “collective responsibility” for
In the following weeks I received
countless death threats.
As you can see clearly from the dates when
decisions were made above, the accusation is incorrect. I have asked Victoria
Borwick three times to accept that her accusation was mistaken. She has
Now Liberal Democrat prospective
parliamentary candidate Sam Gyimah has repeated this very dangerous fiction. He
has been asked to apologise for his mistake. At the time of writing he has not