Kensington and Chelsea Council today announced that it has received a report examining specific property transactions involving the work of the Council’s Property Department before the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.
The independent assessment, conducted by Kroll, the world’s premier provider of services and digital products related to governance, risk and transparency, looks at four specific property transactions in the borough that have been the subject of focused attention from members of our communities, the media, and interested groups and parties.
- North Kensington Library
- Westway Information Centre
- Isaac Newton Centre
- Kensington and Chelsea College, Wornington Road facility
Kroll, commissioned by the Council, were asked to look at key questions around decision making, policy, and value for the council and its residents and communities.
They researched over 6,000 documents and spoke to 12 interviewees.
The report looks at the:
- Council’s Corporate Property Department, its strategies and policies
- Decision making processes and rationale surrounding the four transactions
- Links between income and improving services
- Scrutiny, engagement and consultation
- Specific issues raised by individuals on conflict of interests, and decision making.
Chief Executive Barry Quirk has provided a formal response to the report which can be found on the Council's Audit and Transparency Committee web pages and will be discussed in full at the next Audit and Transparency Committee.
Council leader, Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, said:
“This has been a thorough and independent investigation. The Council agrees with the findings, and we acknowledge that Kroll found no wrongdoing.
“What a report cannot do though, is convey the depth of feeling and mistrust that still exists between the Council and parts of our communities today.
“Grenfell happened nearly four years ago, but it is still raw. In a few months staff and councillors from this authority will face questions at the ongoing public inquiry. We owe it to those who lost their lives, those who survived, and their families, to be honest with them, and honest with ourselves.
“These are not things a report can fix, nor is it something that time will just fix for us. It is something we must all work together to fix – and we are.
“It is clear to me that before 2017, the Council did not find the right balance between financial benefits, and social benefits. Too often the council put the narrow goal of generating commercial income above the broader aim of delivering benefits to our wider community.
“The Council’s policy wasn’t without reason. Good services need funding, and additional income can help to meet the tough financial challenges which we and many others local government face.
“However, those financial considerations should never automatically come first. We fell below the bar on consultation, transparency, scrutiny, and policy. We cannot say hand on heart that residents were involved every step of the way, or that the Council put their interests first and foremost, and for that we apologise.
“In short, no wrongdoing does not mean you were doing everything right.
“We will continue to shift our focus so that, wherever possible, we put social value and community interests first, beyond property, and in all we do.”