KENSINGTON and Chelsea’s authorisation of demolition and replacement of the once council-run but now closed Thamesbrook care home by a private facility confirms the Tory council’s social cleansing programme.
Instead of local NHS hospitals recommending elderly patients for care on the basis of need, the key in future will be an ability to pay £2.5 million to lease a luxury apartment and access private nursing.
The council has kept Thamesbrook empty for three years, awaiting the opportunity to sell off its prime site to a South African property development company.
It is engaged in a programme to run down, close and sell for redevelopment as much public property as possible to drive out poor working-class people and create an island of prosperity in inner London.
Barely a week passes without revelations about the scandalous treatment of Grenfell Tower residents by the council or its arm’s length tenants management organisation.
From penny-pinching on repairs to disregard or peremptory dismissal of complaints, Grenfell tenants’ abuse by those in authority epitomised the attitudes of an arrogant ruling clique.
Axing a public care home catering for poor people for its social opposite mirrors the Tory council’s public bad, private good attitude.
Its plan to close North Kensington library and lease its impressive listed building to the private Notting Hill Preparatory School — term fees £6,100 per child — is currently on hold in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno and growing local anger over council indifference to poor communities.
Whether it proceeds or is abandoned depends largely on the scale of public protest over this latest manifestation of Divided Britain.
Tories are past masters at putting their hands up when caught bang to rights, spouting soothing words and setting up inquiries from which “lessons must be learned” before watering down or ignoring recommendations and, when the dust settles, carrying on largely as before.
Kensington and Chelsea is a microcosm of a capital city in which it is increasingly hard for local working-class people to afford to buy a home while property speculators market housing as investments or safe bolt holes for oligarchs and corporate crooks across the globe.