One lesson from the Grenfell Tower tragedy is that HSE approvals and Business Awards mean nothing. Another is that politicised mouthing off on Twitter is a hostage to fortune.
Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation Limited (KCTMO) is responsible for the management of nearly 10,000 properties on behalf of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and as such is in the Top Ten UK property management firms.
In 2017, KCTMO got voted into The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to work For list. Newscorp has the sort of form in this Awards scheme* that has raised the odd eyebrow over the years, especially in these columns. And this “milestone” Award contrasts somewhat sharply with the description in yesterday’s London Economic of KCTMO as “an evil, unprincipled mini-mafia”.
Equally odd is the management company’s Home page, which features this shot of the Sunday Times win:
I’ve ringed the “error” there, because it does suggest – the clue’s in the wording – that KCTMO won as a not-for-profit company, whereas that is not what the Articles of Association say. The arts say it’s a Limited company there to make money – but limiting the money liability thing to £1 per shareholder.
When I put this to the company’s press office today, they put the phone down on me. There wasn’t any drama or haranguing or me doing a Nick Ferrari, there was just the beep-beep-beep of a replaced receiver.
This was a shame, as I also wanted to ask whether they’d been rattled by the fire just two months ago at another of their high rise properties, Trellick Tower:
In the tradition of unbiased, ideology-free reporting at The Slog, I should make it clear that the London Economic is never going to win an award for, um, unbiased, ideology-free reporting, as it is very much to the Left of Left.
Their follow-up story, for example, says ‘Council penny pinching and accepting the lowest bid was to blame for a huge blaze in a tower block which killed at least 12 people, a former worker claimed’. The lady involved is not named, so they may have invented her. That said, I did tweet this last night:
Equally, the action group that provided London Economic with its gripping headline is not, one suspects, staffed by Young Conservatives….not that this should detract from what they appear to be doing, viz, trying to hold gargoyles to account.
Referring back to the * above, a former winner of the Diggersunday Times Wonderful to Work For gong bollocks is our old chum Jeremy Shunt, for his company Hotcourses. You may also recall that Hunt was central to ensuring Newscorp backing for the Camerlot régime that brought such unalloyed joy to Merrie Olde England. Former Hotcourses employees tend to point out that the “employee satisfaction” questionnaires were in fact forgeries. You must make your own minds up.
I am making a valid point here, which is that these days, no media award or Health & Safety clean bill of health is worth anything. I have been able to establish beyond reasonable doubt this morning that Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment fulfilled every last HSE criterion. Further, Slog threaders and other sources confirm that the cladding used is indeed a fire accelerant….but remains on the HSE safe list, and has been installed elsewhere.
Again, whether this means that HSE doesn’t know which way is up or developers have found ways to hoodwink them remains to be seen. My hunch is that both are probably true, but either way it is another cause for concern: tick-boxing is a national sport in Britain, but it’s never going to make it into the Oympics.
Finally, it is inaccurate to suggest that the cladding was only applied to make Grenfell more attractive to look at “for the rich” in Kensington & Chelsea. Its primary purpose was “to greatly improve insulation efficiency for the Tower’s residents”.
The usual promises of “full” enquiries and “rigorous” investigations have emanated from Downing Street today. I’m not holding my breath on the Justice aspect of all that guff. But I will be following up any lead, from whatever angle, that offers the prospect of light piercing the fog on crony protectionism and knee-jerk agitprop allegation.