Tag Archives: London

Grenfell Tower: A Question Of Management

The tragic, but avoidable fire at Grenfell Tower in Notting Dale, West London has raised a number of questions about the management of council properties, the quality of building materials and governmental oversight. We don’t know the actual cause of the fire as investigations have yet to be conducted. One thing is for certain, council tenants deserve a better deal and they’re not getting it.

Ask most council tenants who they want to manage their housing and they’ll almost always tell you “the council”. I used to work in housing and I spoke to many tenants, some of them were faced with having a Tenant (or Resident) Management Organisation (TMO/RMO) or ALMO (Arm’s Length Management Organisation) forced upon them. When I used to work for Lambeth, one estate, the Blenheim Gardens Estate was on the brink of being transferred. The tenants were being promised all sorts by the council and many of these promises came to nothing.  There are plans to transfer the estate to an Housing Association.

TMOs, RMOs and ALMOs tend to be a stepping stone to an eventual stock transfer to a housing association like Peabody, or a private property management company like Pinnacle. In either case, tenants get a raw deal. They may discover that the terms of their tenancies have changed or the quality of estate management declines.

Grenfell Tower is managed by Kensington and Chelsea TMO. Like the rest of Kensington and Chelsea’s housing stock it was transferred to the TMO in 1996.  The Grenfell Action Group have made numerous complaints to KCTMO about fire safety, which have all been ignored. The block itself has recently been refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, but many believe that the quality of materials used for the building’s cladding are responsible for the blaze.

The Tory government  also failed to carry out a fire safety review of tower blocks. The minister responsible, Gavin Barwell, apparently “sat on the report”. The Independent reports:

Gavin Barwell failed to give the review the green light during his tenure as housing minister, despite it already having waited for years.

The fire expert behind a report calling for the desperately needed safety appraisal, said he had spoken to Mr Barwell earlier this year and the then-minister told him no decision on the review had been taken.

The bottom line is that councils will usually ignore the concerns of tenants in order to save money. Kensington & Chelsea Council is Tory-controlled, so it comes as no surprise that they transferred the management of their entire housing stock to KCTMO, who have been described as a ‘mini mafia’. Scum sucking parasites is what they are.

The Tories are no friends of council housing and Hammersmith and Fulham councillor, Harry Phibbs, sees tower blocks like Grenfell Tower as “vertical slums”.

During his time as mayor, Boris Johnson, closed fire stations. He was warned of the potential consequences.

The Tories must also take a large measure of the blame for failing to act when they had a chance, and for the cuts they’ve imposed on local authorities in the name of deficit reduction.

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The Nightmare Is Over!

The Tories have lost Hammersmith and Fulham and the borough has been returned to Labour. The Tories’ loss is easy to understand. They lost because they sided with the government over the closure of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals after pretending to support efforts to save them. They lost because, for the last 8 years of their tenure, they’ve worked hard to force working class and low-waged people out of the borough. They lost because they were supremely arrogant and waged a class war against the borough’s poorest inhabitants.

Labour won 11 seats from the Tories. One of the wards where the Tories’ were wiped out was Fulham Reach, where Charing Cross Hospital is located. Former councillor, Peter Graham, spent the entire two months before the election lying about the closure of Charing Cross Hospital, even going so far as to redefine the meaning of the word ‘hospital’. Graham works for Four Communications, a lobbying firm whose clients include property developers, The Berkeley Group, who build apartment blocks for rich foreigners. His colleague, Andrew Johnson, the former cabinet member for housing tweeted:

Headbanger JohnsonHe talked about selling off council flats and then claimed his Tory group supported building “affordable to buy homes”. Nothing could be further from the truth: all the properties in the developments that are currently under construction will cost you upwards of £950k. That’s affordable, but only if you have the bank balance to match.

Let’s remind ourselves of this glorious faux pas by Fulham Reach Tories, who thought that having the Hammersmith Cemetery as a backdrop was top idea.

Copy of FR-crop-508x1024

Yesterday I took a cycle ride around the southern half of the borough and was surprised to see only two posters for the Conservatives. Those posters were in the window of a posh riverside flat in Fulham Reach.

On the GetWestLondon website, which has replaced the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, Greg Hands, the Tory MP for Fulham and Chelsea, blamed “Labour lies” for their defeat. The only real liars came from his own side, who first claimed to support efforts to save the borough’s hospitals but then went in to reverse gear and supported the government position. Pot-kettle-black.

You can see the ward-by-ward breakdown of Labour’s victory here.

Even though Labour has won a smashing victory, The Cat will continue to hold the council to account.



Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Labour, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

‘Social cleansing’ of London is well under way – BBC documentary

Paris had Baron Haussmann. London has the Tory-led government at Westminster. One used civil engineering to socially cleanse a city, the other uses legislation and is seemingly supported in its efforts by the opposition Labour Party (a majority of Labour MPs voted for the benefit cap, including my local MP, Andy Slaughter). I’ll be posting a blog in due course about the social cleansing that’s taking place right here in David Cameron’s favourite borough.

Mike Sivier's blog

Cartoon by Martin Shovel. Cartoon by Martin Shovel.

Leading Conservatives must be delighted with the success of their benefit cap in getting single mothers and people with large families out of London – as depicted in the BBC Panorama special, Don’t Cap My Benefits, yesterday evening. (Thursday)

The change means that nobody in the UK is allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits per year. The government has claimed this is the same as the average family income, but readers of Vox Political will know that this is a flimsy lie and average family income is in fact more than £5,000 per year higher, at £31K+. The reason benefits weren’t pegged at that level is that far fewer people would be affected by it. Make no mistake – this measure was enacted to shift people from the capital.

The film shows the effects of the change on a number of families in Brent…

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Filed under London

Grilled Bozza served on a bed of chutzpah

In case anyone missed Bozza getting a grilling from the deadly Eddie Mair on yesterday’s Andrew Marr Show, here it is:

Here’s the full interview.

Even at the beginning of this interview, Bozza has a tough time as Mair asks him awkward questions.

During the course of the interview, Mair brought up the infamous telephone conversation between Johnson and his schoolfriend and fellow Bully Boy, Darius Guppy, in which the latter asks the former for a phone number of a News of the World journalist who crossed him. At last, here is a recording of that conversation:

A Classics graduate, Johnson seems to fancy himself as a latter day Roman emperor. Think of his vanity projects like the stupidly expensive Boris Bus and the cable car and you’ll see that Bozza has delusions of grandeur that are comparable to that of a vainglorious emperor of the Late Roman period.

I have read comments from people who seem to think that Bozza gave a good account of himself and castigated Mair for a “tabloid” interview. Mair had seen Michael Cockerell’s documentary on Johnson, which will be aired on BBC2 this evening, and it is this interview that Mair is focussing on. Anyone who thinks Bozza did a good job needs to learn how to read body language and think about how discourse is being used by him.

As London Mayor, Bozza has done nothing for the city. He’s taken Ken Livingstone’s ideas and claimed the credit for them. He has no ideas of his own and has been led around by his corporate chums. Bozza is nothing but a bullshitter.

London deserves better.

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Filed under City Hall, London, Media, Television

Greenhalgh accused of “inappropriate behaviour”

Stephen Greenhalgh’s time at City Hall has been marked by controversy since he took the role of Deputy Mayor for Policing in May, now he’s been accused of inappropriate behaviour.

The incident occurred in a lift when Greenhalgh allegedly patted a woman’s bottom. First he denied it, then he admitted to it but then claimed the Ernest Saunders defence of “I don’t remember”.

If found guilty, Greenhalgh’s days at City Hall could be numbered, which means that he’ll end up back here in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Adam Bienkov has more here.

Once again, Bozza’s judgement has been called into question. At the beginning of his first term, he lost 2 Deputy mayors in quick succession. it looks like another one is for the chop.

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 41) or Still smearing on polling day

As sure as night follows day, Kennite produces a smear on polling day. While some journalists complain that Twitter is allegedly flouting the period of so-called ‘purdah’, Gilligan deems himself to be above any such considerations. Of course, we here at Nowhere Towers, have a duty to counter his smears.

Today’s blog retreads familiar ground, “Ken is a tax-evader”. But this time, it’s not Ken, it’s an alleged donor. The blog is a bit of a stretch to be honest and Gilligoon strains to make the smear fit his target.  Oddly enough, the very party he continues to support has its own massive problems with non-dom tax-evaders. This doesn’t seem to matter much to him.

The Ken Livingstone campaign’s largest individual donor is a  tax-avoiding property tycoon until recently based in Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands.

Andrew Rosenfeld gave £90,000 to Mr Livingstone’s mayoral election bid in the first quarter of this year, Labour sources say.  The amount makes him by far Mr Livingstone’s biggest single supporter. Mr Livingstone’s spokesman refused to deny the donation last night.

Presumably, Kennite was upset by the revelation that Boris Johnson’s campaign used the offices of a company that paid no tax for three years.

Lycamobile’s Canary Wharf offices have been used on at least five occasions to conduct and co-ordinate telephone canvassing sessions for the Back Boris 2012 campaign.

The latest available figures show the company did not pay any tax between 2008 and 2010, despite generating a turnover of between £47m and £88m.

The disclosure will embarrass Johnson’s campaigners, who have sought to put the issue of tax at the centre of their campaign and accused Ken Livingstone of dodging tax.

Lycamobile gave the Conservative party £136,180 in the current quarter and £40,000 in the quarter before that, making the company the Tories’ third biggest donor over this period.

Neither the Back Boris campaign nor the company has responded to requests to clarify whether the use of the offices has been declared as a donation to the Electoral Commission, or will be declared after the election. A spokesman for the Back Boris campaign said: “All donations are dealt with strictly in accordance with electoral laws.”

Kennite is clutching at straws in a last minute effort to woo voters to Emperor Windbag’s side but he’s playing to his gallery of small-minded little Englanders and racist weirdos. He whines,

If elected mayor today, Mr Livingstone will gain enormous planning powers, representing a potential conflict of interest withhis funding from Mr Rosenfeld. Air Capital invests in “distressed property” in London and elsewhere and is closely linked to Goldman Sachs’ property arm, the Goldman Sachs Whitehall Fund.

But if Bozza gets elected today, it’s more casual racism, vanity projects and no real policies that bnenefit the vast majority of Londoners. Fares will be increased year on year and no new social housing will be built. London will be a city for the rich. Kennite knows this but is unmoved.

Of course Kennite is also completely silent on the small matter of deputy mayor Kit Malthouse’s pleading with the Metropolitan Police to limit their investigations into the News Corp phone hacking scandal.  Bozza’s own silence regarding the affair and his efforts to secure financial backing for his cable car scheme are also wilfully ignored. Instead Kennite squeals that Livingstone is an “Islamist” and a baby-eater.  On this clip, Johnson refers to BBC London’s Tim Donovan’s report as “fucking bollocks”.

Not a peep about this from Kennite.

Here’s Bozza lying about fares.

Not a peep about this from Kennite.

Kennite complains that Livingstone has told lies here, here, and here but ignores the lies that repeatedly trip from Johnson’s tongue. No surprise there.

If Boris Johnson wins the election, Nowhere Towers will continue to expose Kennite for what he really is: a bitter hack with an axe to grind who bangs the drum for a man without an original idea in his empty blond head.

Finally, last December’s Press Gazette carried a story about Gilligan (and his former employer, Associated Newspapers)  facing prosecution for hacking into emails.

Journalist Andrew Gilligan is being sued for damages over allegations he obtained confidential emails for a story published in the Evening Standard four years ago.

Businessman Peter Abbey accuses Gilligan of improperly obtaining passwords to access his emails, or receiving them from someone else with unauthorised access.

Abbey is a shareholder in Complete Leisure Group, a company set up to control Sebastian Coe’s business interests after London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Press Gazette also adds that,

Gilligan and Associated Newspapers have refused to hand over the emails, the writ states.

Have they got something to hide? We think so.

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Filed under Journalism, London, London Mayoral election 2012, Media, News Corporation, propaganda, Racism, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Life On Gilligan’s Island (Part 26) or Let the smears begin!

Here at Nowhere Towers, we’ve taken a wee break from our coverage of the shenanigans on Gilligan’s Island over the last couple of months. That’s because there really hasn’t been much to report that hasn’t been reported already. Gilligoon has been blogging about the usual things: Lutfur Rahman, the East London Mosque, wild-eyed Islamists, suicide belts,  you know the sort of stuff. With the London mayoral election taking place in just a little over a year away, Gilly lets rip with this little beauty.

suicide bomb-backing bigot Yusuf al-Qaradawi

That’s a line that wouldn’t be out of place in the Daily Star. But you’ve got to love the title “Ken Livingstone: suicide bombers and a suicide candidate”. He must have thought that one up while he was having his mid-morning dump. You can imagine the wee voice in his head saying “How can I put the boot into Ken and make it sound different to the usual mush”? Well, to to tell the truth, it isn’t much different to the usual hairballs that he coughs up. He also accuses Livingstone of “working for the Iranian dictatorship”. Some people have short memories, Gilly worked for the same dictatorship as recently as last year. Selective amnesia? Oh, no. Not our Gilly! Surely not!

The Boris Johnson campaign tonight launched its attack website against Ken Livingstone, Not Ken Again, slating the old chap’s “tired, regressive” policies, his plans to “reinstall his cronies at City Hall” and reminding voters of some of Ken’s greatest hits (campaigning against the Labour Party, working for the Iranian dictatorship, welcoming the suicide bomb-backing bigot Yusuf al-Qaradawi, etc.).

“Not Ken Again”? Please, Not Boris Again! Boris Johnson, the Emperor of London, a man with no original ideas in his dishevelled head. Oh yeah, he got rid of the Western Congestion Zone. So who has benefitted from that (apart from the posh petrolheads of Kensington and Chelsea)? As for the Boris Routemaster, it looks like a massive loaf of ersatz bread, that’s been painted red and mounted on wheels. Most Londoners think it’s a waste of money. Gilly also relies on the al-Qaradawi card. He’s played this one before. It’s his favourite. But  surely it’s important to debate these people rather than completely shut them out. That’s how we got into this War on ‘Terror’ (sic) in the first place. No? Maybe Gilly thinks it was a bad and dangerous idea to have engaged in dialogue with Sinn Fein too?

Let’s skip a few paragraphs.  This is good,

On two fronts, yesterday was a good reminder that the damage Ken’s opponents can do him with their attack websites and the rest is comfortably outstripped by the damage he does to himself. Also yesterday, Ken rolled out what he clearly thought was a bit of an Exocet – a claim that delays on the Jubilee Line between 14 November and 12 December were “300 per cent” higher and on the Victoria Line “100 per cent” higher than in the same four weeks in 2009. Station closures on the District Line, stormed Team Ken, were up by a “staggering 1250%” over the same period.

He adds,

TfL’s deputy chair, Daniel Moylan, was quick to point out, this just might have had something to do with the 24-hour strike by Ken’s Tube union allies on 28/29 November, which even by TfL’s admission massively disrupted services and closed at least a quarter of stations.

Oh? So what happened next, Gillster?

The heat was suddenly and uncomfortably turned back on Ken, who has received at least £137,500 in donations over the years from the Tube unions, whose running-mate Val Shawross joined a demo in their support recently, and whose campaign headquarters was in the head office of one of the striking unions. Ken has repeatedly refused to condemn the strikers

Ah, so it’s okay to take money from millionaire backers – who are not democratically accountable because no one votes for them – but it isn’t okay to accept money from unions, which are democratically accountable to their memberships?

There has, as I and others pointed out months ago, been a genuine decline in the performance of the Tube. It is a weakness for Boris and could have been an important issue for Ken. But just as with his other best issue, the Government cuts – where his position appears to be that there need be no cuts at all – he has undermined his credibility by overstatement. It’s another example of how, far from being the “wily” politician of cliché, Ken is actually a pretty hopeless campaigner.

Boris’s record on bringing down crime on the Tube hasn’t been all that it appears. Dave Hill has been doing some digging.

Boris’ s claims on the buses are similarly questionable. Dave Hill again.

No mention of this from Gilligan. It’s all Ken, Ken, Ken.

Tawdry stuff.


UPDATE: 9/3/11 @ 1252

The Friendly Lefty has more on the Boris Jonson smear machine here.

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Filed under London, London Mayoral election 2012, Media, Yellow journalism

Oona King for mayor? No thanks

If the news is to be believed, it seems that everyone wants  Oona King to become London Mayor. Everyone? Well, not quite. I don’t.

Andrew Gilligan whose blogs reveal an obsession with Ken Livingstone appears to be getting behind King’s campaign. Gilligan is a happy man but hang on, didn’t he support Boris Johnson in the last mayoral election?

As for King, she voted in favour of the Iraq invasion and was identified as a Blairite from the beginning (she was one of “Blair’s Babes”…ugh). She is a careerist; a machine politician. I don’t trust her and I have never trusted her. After she failed to hold onto Bethnal Green and Bow, she sat around in her constituency office pretending to be an unofficial MP (sic). When it was clear that no one was interested in what she was doing,  she moved into the media and was appointed as Channel 4’s Head of Diversity.

The only reason why Gilligan supports her is because she’s easy on his eye. That’s it. King also has the backing of Neil Kinnock, while Diane Abbott supports Ken. Anyone who has Kinnock’s blessing is to be avoided.

As for me, I hope Ken wins.

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Filed under Government & politics, London