Council accused TMO of ‘promising things it wasn’t structured to deliver’ during Grenfell refurbishment

The tenant management organisation (TMO) responsible for overseeing the refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower was accused of “promising things” it was not “structured to deliver” following complaints about its handling of communication with residents, the inquiry heard today.

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Mark Anderson was director of assets and regeneration at Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (picture: Grenfell Inquiry)
Mark Anderson was director of assets and regeneration at Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (picture: Grenfell Inquiry)
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The KCTMO was accused of "promising things it wasn't structured to delivered" in response to complaints about its communication with Grenfell residents during the building's refurbishment #UKhousing

In an internal email between members of the housing department at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), RBKC officer Jane Trethewey criticised the TMO’s director of assets and regeneration, Mark Anderson, for his response to a request for information regarding the TMO’s communication strategy with Grenfell residents.

Ms Tretheway described Mr Anderson’s response as “somewhat defensive” and questioned why he was left to carry out communications work, as opposed to members of the TMO’s housing management, leasehold management and resident engagement teams.

She said: “All of this rather adds to the impression of Mark being overloaded, and perhaps promising things that the TMO are not currently structured to deliver.”

Mr Anderson told the inquiry today that when he joined Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) in 2011, just before preliminary work on the Grenfell refurbishment started, the property services part of the organisation “hadn’t been performing to the standards that either KCTMO or RBKC wanted”.


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He said that for “a number of years” prior to him joining the organisation, KCTMO’s capital investment programme “had not been delivered in its entirety”, and that there were issues around “skills, experience and competencies”.

KCTMO was set up in 1996 and was responsible for managing nearly 10,000 properties on behalf of RBKC. Following the Grenfell Tower fire, the council terminated its contract with KCTMO and brought the management of its housing stock back in house.

Mr Anderson, who left KCTMO in 2013 while design work on the Grenfell refurbishment was still under way, was grilled today by Andrew Kinnier QC on the TMO’s decision not to undertake a competitive tender process to select an architect for the project.

The inquiry previously heard that KCTMO instead decided to use the same architects employed by RBKC as part of the neighbouring Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre (KALC) project.

Mr Anderson said this was partly because of a need to “progress the design” of the Grenfell refurbishment “as quickly as possible” so that KCTMO could use the same contractor RBKC was planning to use for the KALC project.

The inquiry was shown minutes from a meeting of RBKC’s cabinet in May 2012, during which the council’s head of housing, Laura Johnson, said employing the same contractor for both projects would “ensure that the two projects are able to deliver cost savings where possible”.

When asked whether it was his view that using the design team from KALC on Grenfell would deliver cost savings, Mr Anderson said: “That wasn’t one of my drivers. That said, if you have a pre-construction professional team working on one project, and then add to that… you would expect to realise some efficiency through that.”

Earlier in phase two of the inquiry, the director of architecture firm Studio E admitted that it would not have been appointed to the Grenfell project if it had gone out to open tender as it had no experience of refurbishing high rises or overcladding residential buildings.

The inquiry continues.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two: weekly diaries

Module one

Week one: A vivid picture of a broken industry

After a week of damning revelations at the opening of phase two of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, Peter Apps recaps the key points

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Week two: What is the significance of the immunity application?

Sir Martin Moore-Bick has written to the attorney general requesting protection for those set to give evidence at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Peter Apps explains what the move means

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Week three: Architects of misfortune

This week saw the lead architects for the Grenfell Tower refurbishment give evidence to the inquiry. Peter Apps runs through the key points

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Week four: ‘I didn’t have any perception that it was the monster it’s become’

The architects continued to give evidence this week, outlining a lack of understanding of the fire risk posed by the cladding materials and its design. Nathaniel Barker reports

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Week five: ‘No adverse effect in relation to external fire spread’

As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry returns from its long absence, Peter Apps recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the fire consultants to the refurbishment

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Week six: ‘I can’t recall any instance where I discussed the materials with building control’

Nathaniel Barker summarises what we learned from fire engineers Exova, architects Studio E and the early evidence from contractor Rydon

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Week seven: ‘I do not think I have ever worked with a contractor operating with this level of nonchalance’

Two key witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Peter Apps recaps some of the key points from a revealing week of evidence

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Week eight: ‘It haunts me that it wasn't challenged’

Four witnesses from contractor Rydon gave evidence this week. Lucie Heath recaps what we learned on the last week of evidence before the inquiry breaks for five weeks

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Week nine: ‘All I can say is you will be taken out for a very nice meal very soon’

This week the inquiry heard evidence from witnesses at Harley Facades, the sub-contractor responsible for Grenfell Tower’s cladding. Peter Apps recaps the key points

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Week 10: ‘As we all know, ACM will be gone rather quickly in a fire!’

As the Grenfell Tower Inquiry entered its 10th week, Jack Simpson recaps the key points from a week of important evidence from the refurbishment’s cladding contractor

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Week 11: ‘Did you get the impression Grenfell Tower was a guinea pig for this insulation?’

With witnesses from the cladding subcontractor, the firm which cut the deadly panels to shape and the clerk of works which inspected the job giving evidence this was week full of revelations. Peter Apps recaps the key points

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Week 12: ‘Would you accept that was a serious failing on your part?’

With the surveyor who inspected Grenfell Tower for compliance giving evidence, this was a crucial week from the inquiry. Dominic Brady and Peter Apps report

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Week 13: ‘Value for money is to be regarded as the key driver for this project’

With consultants to Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) giving evidence, attention at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry turned for this first time to the actions of the TMO and the council. Peter Apps reports

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Week 14: ‘Did it not occur to you at this point that your budget was simply too low?’

This week, for the first time in phase two, the inquiry heard from Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, the landlord that oversaw the fatal refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Lucie Heath reports

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Week 15: ‘Have you ever informed the police that you destroyed documents relevant to their investigation?’

Witnesses from the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) gave evidence for a second week, which began with a shocking revelation about withheld and destroyed evidence. Pete Apps recaps

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Week 16: ‘I conclude this was very serious evidence of professional negligence’

This week saw members of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation finish giving evidence, before the inquiry’s expert witnesses took the stand to make some highly critical assessments of the work they had seen before and during the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. Jack Simpson recaps

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Grenfell Tower: a timeline of the refurbishment

Following the conclusion of module one of the Grenfell Inquiry’s second phase, Peter Apps presents a timeline of the key moments during the fatal refurbishment of the west London tower block.

Click here to read the full story

Module two

Week 17: ‘It’s hard to make a note about this because we are not clean’

The start of the second module of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase two came with some huge revelations about the companies that sold the products used in the cladding system. Peter Apps reports

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Week 18: ‘It was just reckless optimism wasn't it?’

As the inquiry began cross-examining witnesses for the second module of its phase two work, the picture surrounding just how Grenfell Tower ended up wrapped in such dangerous materials became a little clearer. Nathaniel Barker was keeping an eye on proceedings

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Week 19: ‘And that was intentional, deliberate, dishonest?’

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry this week heard the shocking story of how the insulation manufacturer "manipulated" official testing and marketed its product "dishonestly". Peter Apps tells the story

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Week 20: ‘We were outed by a consultant who we then had to fabricate a story to’

This week the inquiry investigated the actions of Kingspan – the manufacturer of one of the insulation products used in the tower’s cladding system. Dominic Brady reports

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Week 21: 'It's there in black and white isn't it? We see a complete absence of any consideration of life safety'

The story of insulation giant Kingspan’s testing and marketing of its combustible insulation for high rises was unpacked in minute detail this week. Peter Apps reports

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Week 22: 'All we do is lie in here'

In the third week of evidence from insulation giant Kingspan, the inquiry continued to uncover shocking details about the firm’s behaviour both before and after the Grenfell Tower fire. Lucie Heath reports.

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