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GRENFELL residents were labelled as “troublemakers” and “disruptive” for raising complaints about cladding during public meetings over the tower block’s refurbishment, the inquiry into the tragedy heard today.
Former Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) director of assets, Peter Maddison, was asked about resident consultation, engagement with various resident groups and the way complaints were handled regarding the refurbishment of the tower block.
Mr Maddison said that in 2013, the KCTMO elected to stop holding resident consultation meetings and instead move to newsletters and drop-in sessions because that was what residents preferred and because previous meetings were “poorly attended.”
But KCTMO minutes from November 21 noted that it had been agreed not to hold any more meetings “because of the stand taken by the Grenfell Tower leaseholder group.”
Mr Maddison claimed that the minutes did not properly reflect what was happening in the meetings but admitted that “one of the reasons [for ending meetings was because] there was disruptive behaviour.”
The refurbishment was being met with opposition from residents in the Grenfell Compact group because they were concerned about the new cladding system, which was later found to have spread the fire around the block.
The KCTMO initially declined to recognise the group as a representative of the residents, but eventually gave in after intervention from the local MP.
In April 2015, Mr Maddision said in an email that Grenfell Compact co-founder Ed Daffarn was “continuing to agitate” the KCTMO and complained that his blog, which warned of fire and safety issues, was libellous.
The blog included claims that the KCTMO had “worked to prevent residents from forming any form of collective representation.”
It also alleged that residents were being threatened with loss of heating and their tenancy if they did not allow construction company Rydon access to their homes.
Asked what he did to investigate this, Mr Maddison said he had talked to Rydon project managers and been assured it was not happening.
KCTMO meeting minutes also described Mr Daffarn and Cllr Judith Blakeman, who was helping residents raise complaints, as a “negative force at present.”
Mr Maddison also denied that the KCTMO’s attitude demonstrated an “us and them culture” between the organisation and residents.
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