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Discussion > Grenfell Tower - Deadly Fires: Mismanagement, or just no managers present

I see some lefty activists are digging up the ghastly Shirley Porter in relation to the Grenfell tragedy

It might be effective / relevant .... but not in the way they obviously hope for. .

Bullying - check
Hubris - check
Incompetence - check
Delusion - check

The ignorant and vogue-sh antics of assorted elected representatives and their assorted toadies / cronies and senior municipal managers is what precipitated this mess.

I expect several more interpretative modern dance productions to blame it on the nasty Tories and Austerity. The Guardian careful there to close comments on the piece.

Dec 5, 2017 at 1:50 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Months later and the bureaucratic ambulance chasers obviously still figure there's some mileage to be had out of the fire.

Blatant opportunism from a Blair era quango long past it's sell-by date - The Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

The team

Dec 11, 2017 at 1:17 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Times had a big expose of all the cranky lefties using Grenfell for political purposes.
From the outside you could believe its incompetent Conservatives
..but it's more complex than that.
~About 4 pages total
See Biasedbbc

Dec 11, 2017 at 10:33 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I find it umm... remarkably easy to imagine that the timing is quite cynical ....


KCTMO has apparently passed (according to The Guardian) formal responsibility for what’s left of the Grenfell Tower building back to the nasty Tory council…..

Are they even allowed to do that? - it seems the council understandably aren't going to accept unconditionally....

The Guardian has it (surprised not)

One Diane Taylor of the Guardian trying to make out it's a fait accomplis and not one mention of the £160K a year CEO.

Dec 26, 2017 at 10:34 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, from The Guardian article:

"A spokesman for the organisation said: “The TMO has informed residents that its board has reluctantly decided that, in current circumstances, it can no longer guarantee the delivery of services to a standard that residents should expect. Therefore, in the best interests of residents, services which the TMO currently provides are to be temporarily handed back to the council while the consultation about the future management of its housing stock is completed. It remains a priority that the answers, which we all want about the Grenfell tragedy, are obtained.” "

"A spokesman for the borough said: “We are aware of the update from the TMO to residents and we will be writing to all residents to make sure they have clarity on next steps. We are clear, though, that this is only an interim measure.” "

"Seraphima Kennedy, a former neighbourhood officer for KCTMO, said: “They do not care about the impact of their decisions on the lives of those who live in the homes they are legally required to look after.” "

I think this means that KCTMO has a cash, confidence and staff flow problem. If KCTMO is a separate entity to the London Borough of K&C, KCTMO has in effect voluntarily suspended (terminated?) the Contract to "Manage".

My guess would be that it would not be deemed appropriate by anyone, to retain the services of the upper tiers of management of KCTMO. It may be that the Borough had sought various confirmations by the end of December ..... etc etc

Bt the time the Borough is in a position to reprivatise the management of its housing stock, KCTMO will have ceased to exist.

Dec 26, 2017 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

tomo, further to the above ...

I have no idea whether KCTMO were able to request and receive emergency funding from the Government to deal with the consequences of the Grenfell Tower Fire, or whether any (?) Insurance Policies held by KCTMO have proved inadequate to meet the demands made.

KCTMO may also be surrendering a lot of unpaid bills.

Dec 27, 2017 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


given that as I understand it - a considerable wedge of public money has been allocated to this matter already - funds should not be an issue.

One wonders if there is a rent strike of sorts going on...

Again - as I understand it - there have been some departures of staff but in the case of the CEO - a professional nabob/worthy from the world of public housing was appointed last August ...

KCTMO is one of those "not for profit" entities magic-ed up by Blair & Co in the 2004 Companies Act and is a separate trading entity entirely to the council etc... my perception is it being one stuffed for the most part with fellow travelers from New Labour and municipal types being put beyond the scant accountability in place for councils in the housing game.

KCTMO might not be a very pleasant place to work at the moment - but given what I've read at the hornetsnest blog they have had access to some pretty thick skinned municipal penpusher + "executive" types even before the fire.

This absolutely looks like KCTMO is imploding and I think that's something that has implications for every housing association / public housing vehicle around the country. It's my perception that while there might be some competent not for profits - the provisions of the 2004 Companies Act related to these not for profits has enabled peculation and put that peculation beyond accountability... Many of these outfits simply transferred the original council department workforce to the new company and recruited another tier of "manager" and "executive" types.

If KCTMO has a cash, confidence and staff flow problem - it is not unreasonable to expect the details of that to be laid out in a transparent manner.

As it stands it looks like a cynically timed attempt to evade responsibility by a bunch of ... oh, you can guess the rest.

Dec 27, 2017 at 9:38 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Someone did a back of the envelope calculation and came up with a payback of over 100 years for the outside insulation cladding, IIRC, so if we don't get an official value for this, and a reason for doing it, what ever the value, ithe report won't have been ' laid out in a transparent manner'.

Dec 27, 2017 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert Christopher


The cladding crude break even timescale was 250 years to 400 years.........

I don't think we'll be hearing much about the cost effectiveness of the cladding from the inquiry.

Dec 27, 2017 at 10:45 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Dec 27, 2017 at 9:38 AM | tomo

Not disagreeing with the points you raise at all. Running a "not for profit" is easy if a few fat cats swallow all the cream.

Politicians from all sides have generally kept quiet since the Inquiry started. I think ALL politicians risk ending up with egg on their faces, if they start something now, so many of them probably will.

KCTMO have failed to cope, and given up trying. If the Grenfell Tower accelerated the inevitable, then others may follow.

Dec 27, 2017 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I think it is time for all contracts, bids, tenders etc to be fully visible. It is taxpayers money after all!

I note that many 'large' companies cite commercial confidence in there bids for council work. Well, if they want to bid for the work, they should be prepared for their bid to be subject to public scrutiny. There are plenty of companies that would like to bid for public sector orders.

Could you imagine if a request to tender had been displayed on a council website, requesting bids to insulate a certain tower block?

The requirements would be listed, ways that a companies bid met those requirements etc.

You could imagine an eagle eyed member of the public picking up on obvious flaws in the rfq and any bids submitted!

Payback time for the discussed cladding would be an obvious catch, with the suggestion that supplying a portion of 'free' electric heating for the life of the building would be far more cost effective.

Every bid, every response must be published as soon as they become available.

Dec 27, 2017 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

tomo - Thanks! I typed in 200 years but, because it was difficult to check, as I am on my smartphone, I put 100 years - which is still ridiculous.

There needs to be a duty on all, individually, within the group to endure that the required expertise is present within the group, and that it is used effectively!

Dec 27, 2017 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Steve Richards

I'm with you all the way there. There are some municipalities in the USA that account for every cent and publish all tenders in full on their web sites.

Where I am (Wiltshire) they glommed several councils together into a unitary authority and spewed £5 million on secret payments to purportedly redundant municipal penpushers - but refused to elaborate on who got what and why - suffice it to say that the payments were well over any statutory (or even contractual) requirement - several councillors resigned in protest at the secrecy. The subsequent unitary authority has lost a pile of money on badly done contracts with corporate
infrastructure maintenance sharks and is rumored trading insolvently - of course details have been hidden.

As to "not for profits" in social housing - as I understand it they were mostly transferred existing stocks at booked build price and charge rents more related to current value - so there's a nice little earner I feel. Locally to me there's several housing associations that have fleets of < 3 yr old blinged out maintenance vans which afaics are rarely actually "on site" , they are building some houses but £250K ea cost + free land via the council in these times seems quite a lot for a single dwelling - and of course the "top executives" have rather fat salaries / benefit packages.

An example ... Sanctuary Housing seem to regularly pop up as a pretty poor outfit all around the country.

That KCTMO is imploding shouldn't come as a surprise - I hope that they don't manage to shirk their responsibilities onto the the London borough deemed too incompetent by its surrounding councils to be involved in the initial practicalities of incident management consequent from the fire.

Dec 27, 2017 at 6:25 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, KCTMO have shirked everything.

Interestingly, you can still report Anti-Social Behaviour to KCTMO:

Dec 27, 2017 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC. Thanks for the Wikipedia link - interesting - I was wrong about the KCTMO history .... apparently that nice Mr Major had a hand in setting it up..... it doesn't look like very inspiring stuff was going on. Given that the K&C council are held in such low regard by surrounding councils that they were supposedly excluded from the initial response to the fire ... it really is quite a mess.

The explanation in Wikipedia seems slightly at odds with the Guardian interpretation....

It looks like the apportioning of blame (or not....) is going to be an interesting spectacle - with the information already out any fudging of the inquiry will likely cause quite serious trouble. I think I can see why there's been so much money being chucked at it.

Dec 28, 2017 at 1:21 AM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, there is also the possibility that some from the top tiers at KCTMO, have been advised to say nothing, without legal representation.

K and C will need to understand the scale of the mess asap, and distance themselves from it, so external accountants/auditors may be brought in.

Dec 28, 2017 at 3:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


It really is a mess

Inappropriate cladding (on several levels - no pun)
Fire Provisions

I doubt that the council can arms length themselves totally since they appointed their own statutory representatives on the board of KCTMO.

From where I'm sat it looks like municipal incompetence on a grand scale sucking in people from across the political spectrum and managers / executives from both the council and TMO. The demise of arms length management organisations (-50% in <10 years) tells its own story - the wikipedia article is imho quite enlightening although the history bit is studiously swerved.... The bit about the ALMOs being considered non trading, not for profits and therefore not liable to tax is pretty good :-/

The long grass beckons seductively.

If KCTMO has ceased to function effectively it's not difficult to imagine that some of the tenants of the 10,000 or so properties see the chaos as an opportunity to withhold their rent - a move that I'm surprised the agitators mobbing the matter haven't been pushing.

Dec 28, 2017 at 1:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, as I understand it.......

RB Kensington and Chelsea still owns the rented properties. (Some Housing Associations bought the entire property portfolio off the local council) KCTMO contracted to manage and maintain etc, and receive the rent. KCTMO have terminated the Contract. It is likely that RBKC had a clause entitling them to terminate the contract with KCTMO, but not necessarily the other way around.

As a "Not For Profit", KCTMO may have no assets worth seizing, and very limited cash reserves following the fire.

As a Social Landlord, I assume that KCTMO were liable for rehousing the "Tenants" of Grenfell Tower and paying reasonable costs, but these costs may not include personal possesions etc that tenants should have had their own Contents Insurance for.

KCTMO will have rehoused some tenants in accommodation costing considerably more than the rent for a flat in Grenfell Tower, of similar size. In instances (for example) where two families totalling ten people were sharing a two bedroomed flat in Grenfell Tower, the private sector may not have been able to rehouse them in a single two bedroomed flat.

I have no idea about any insurance policies held by KCTMO for the building known as Grenfell Tower, or for rehousing the legal tenants and occupiers of the flats, but it is possible that KCTMO now have financial liabilities far in excess of any insurance cover or rent from Grenfell Tower.


Dec 28, 2017 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


Dec 28, 2017 at 3:17 PM | golf charlie

Apologies, I was going to add something about sub-letting.

Dec 28, 2017 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


can of worms doesn't get close....!

Dec 28, 2017 at 3:48 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, yes! That is before sub-letting.

I presume KCTMO did have a legal obligation, as Landlords, to rehouse THEIR Tenants, ie the people with whom they had signed a tenancy agreement. It would seem sensible that they had some form of insurance policy to cover such costs.......

Historically, Local Authorities were insured with Municipal Mutual Insurance. From Wikipedia:
"Municipal Mutual Insurance (MMI) is an insurance company registered in the United Kingdom. It was established by local authorities, and was formally incorporated on 13 March 1903.[1]

Over the following decades it became responsible for insuring most public sector bodies, including councils, police and fire authorities.[2]Between 1990 and 1992, the company suffered substantial losses, and its assets reduced to below the minimum level for solvency.[1] In 1993, it was bought by Zurich Insurance,[1] although MMI itself continues to pay all its outstanding liabilities.[3]"

I presume KCTMO and RBKC insure with the same company, and that is Zurich (?)

Sub-letting is not favoured by Landlords or Mortgage Lenders, as they cannot evict or repossess without going through the legal process of making the sub-tenant's lodger's elderley relative's step grandchildren homeless. If people are legally made "Homeless" a Local Authority may become responsible for housing them. A local authority such as RBKC would then turn to a Housing Association such as KCTMO ..........

It seems likely that some of the Grenfell Tower flats were sub let, possibly without any formal notification or agreement between the legal tenant and KCTMO. The sub tenants may have signed paperwork such that they had a tenancy agreement with the Tenant of KCTMO, but they were not the Legal Tenants OF KCTMO. Such tenants may not have been entitled to rehousing by KCTMO, irrespective of any insurance policy, but would be entitled to rehousing by the local authority, RBKC, having been made homeless.

Any insurance policy for temporary rehousing will normally be upto a financial and/or time limit. I have no knowledge of any details of any policy or insurance company involved with Grenfell Tower, KCTMO or RBKC, but I suspect KCTMO will find itself with debts and no assets, RBKC is going to be short of many millions, and "Insurance Officers" in Councils and Housing Associations are being asked many questions they struggle to answer.

Yes it is a mess, and nothing significant has yet emerged from the Inquiry. I am not yet aware of any Legal or Criminal Proceedings against KCTMO "Management", or if any financial recovery/legal liability would be effected by prompt winding-up of KCTMO.

Dec 28, 2017 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

If KCTMO has ceased to function effectively it's not difficult to imagine that some of the tenants of the 10,000 or so properties see the chaos as an opportunity to withhold their rent
Dec 28, 2017 at 1:32 PM | tomo

It would depend on the percentage that pay rent from their own earnings, rather than have them paid direct from some form of benefit.

It will be upto RBKC to liase with KCTMO to ensure rental income flows direct to RBKC, and does not get "held" against any debts.

There are going to be maintenance contractors that have done alright out of KCTMO. It will be their numerous sub-contractors who are likely to be the first to suffer any delayed payments, if they are not already.

Dec 28, 2017 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


The payment of rents for those on welfare benefit has been through a very bumpy patch since the clots in central government / at councils dictated that all payments were to be direct to the recipients of benefits who then paid the landlords. I know several small landlords now who've had delinquent tenants who've gargled their rent or spent it on flat screen TVs or holidays (in one case all three!) and simply caused loads of grief. That situation is changing but if KCTMO is headed down the toilet I'd expect quite a few people to try it on ...

As to the subletting - I have a recollection that "government sources" have accepted responsibility to rehouse the actual physical tenants and something of an "amnesty" surrounding that. I'd bet that the subletting has swerved paying any tax on the profit. Since it violates the tenancy agreements I wonder how the matter is going to be dealt with - will any of the skivers who were subletting their flats get substitute accommodation?

There are loads of issues in this mess that will cause discomfort in the well padded world of social housing management. The managers and board members should not be allowed to walk away from the mess they precipitated and some Admiral Byng tactics must be deployed.

The subby maintenance tradespeople deserve better than to be last in the queue for payment.

Dec 28, 2017 at 8:19 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I remember a statistic from 15(?) years ago about "social housing", that 5% of the tenants cause 95% of the problems. I don't know how true that figure was then, or if it is a fair reflection now, but it is a handy rough rule of thumb. Whether it is social housing or very expensive rented property, landlords/owners/agents do like a Direct Transfer of money, bank to bank, on the same day every month! It would be depressing to know how much KCTMO spend on chasing latepayers, because "Benefits" are not paid direct.

Legal Tenants of KCTMO should not be sub letting their Social Housing to someone else, if they have somewhere else to live. That is the theory anyway!

The Government (?) did agree to pay some rehousing costs, probably because the scale of the homelessness emergency became clear very early on.

I expect the Police obtained details from KCTMO about Legal Tenants, and from RBKC about Registered Voters, for each flat, very early on, to help them confirm the number of people missing, and unaccounted for. Should a Legal Tenant try to claim for loss of rent from a sub-tenant, they would need to prove it with some documentation and financial records. As this may involve taxpayer funding, I expect the Inland Revenue would be happy to double check whatever records they have available.

The Inquiry has now started, and more information will come forward. Just as the Titanic was unsinkable, the scale of this fire and consequent loss of life, was unthinkable, so nobody thought it would happen.

Dec 28, 2017 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie