This borough is on paper one of the richest in the land. Not least because of the £170 million tucked away in bank accounts gathering dust, held in "reserve" although exactly what that reserve is is anyones guess. EPIC day centre closures for the elderly and a swathe of other community groups that have had funding cut or removed are simply not important enough apparently.
But when you look under the bonnet of the borough, get into the plumbing so to speak, it is definitely a borough of two halves. The affluent south and the not so affluent north. What some part of the north may lack in cash, it certainly is rich in values and pride.
But the council shouldnt care about the size of disposable income, the value of the house, how many cars people have, when it comes to delivering services. The council has the same responsibility to deliver what people want and need, and to properly consult when projects intend to majorly disrupt peoples lives.
...so that brings us to the continuing saga of the imposition of the North Kensington Academy not a million miles away from Hornets hive.
Much has been said on these pages about the situation so far, and the council have had plenty of time to perform a volte-face and actually start to listen to the people that matter, but to date precious little has been forthcoming.
Firstly we have to look at the nature of the project.
There is a chronic lack of secondary places in the borough, so there is need for additional provision. Quite how it has come about in such an urgent matter doesnt suddenly happen overnight. Its down to shoddy management in the Town Hall who failed to notice, or failed to act in time.
That in itself doesnt permit the council to simply hoist a plan for a new school in an area without fully considering everyones opinion.
What is equally as important about this project is the cost. The Chelsea Academy in the south cost about £40 million, the one planned for the north is less than half that, £17 million. So it would be fair to say the council are doing this one "on the cheap". Is that a good thing, given the current economic climate? Or is it simply a waste of money because in a few years time it will look run down and have to be refurbished disturbing a generations education?
And what of consultation?
The councils bed fellows Tribal have been engaged to hold public meetings to "consult" on the proposed site, which is slap bang in the middle of the Lancaster West Estate. The new buildings will occupy land currently an open space that is much loved and used by the community.
So who did they invite to the consultation?
Leaflets were delivered as far away as the borough of Westminster, almost in Bayswater but un-funnily enough not the entire Lancaster West Estate that are directly affected by it! The very people who will see their place of residence overlooked were overlooked by the consultation!
Earlier this month the council and their Tribal bedfellows promised to engage with local stakeholders, but not with the Estate Management Board, Lancaster West Residents Association, Grenfell Action Group or the Grenfell Tower Leasholders Group. These groups, who have fought all along for residents rights, are being completely marginalised and dis-empowered in the consultation process.
At a recent public meeting some frank exchanges made Cllr Coleridge agree to engage people in meaningful consultation and to treat everyone with the same respect with which they would wish to be treated. Exactly what that means is yet to be tested.
There is one simple way this impasse can be resolved, and that is for everyone affected by the councils proposals to be properly consulted and if proved adversely affected for the plans to be modified or even moved to a more suitable location.
The council leader, Sir M needs to take up the gauntlet instead of hiding behind his oak panelled door and get a grip. Meet with the local people and promise to consider their views.
Right now, it seems the people of North Kensington are faced with so called consultation that pays lip service to their concerns on a project that has already been decided.