send the Dame your information, discretion assured.
Comments are welcome but do not necessarily reflect the view of the Dame.
Offensive/inappropriate comments will be deleted and the poster banned.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


A Chelsea swimmer writes to the Dame....

Dearest Dame,
Over the last couple of years RBKC alienated many different sectors of their electorate with unpopular decisions, such as supporting a CrossRail2, Kings Rd station, Marlborough School, Thamesbrook, Chelsea Manor Court telephone aerials, Sutton estate, Brompton Hospital SPD. They now add to the list a new sector of adult swimmers who seek to keep fit and healthy by swimming in the Town Hall pool. 

The council has decided to spend £1.7 million partly to ‘upgrade’  some functional aspects of the pool such as ventilation, heating, re-tiling etc which is generally supported, but also by tearing down a dividing wall to make the existing separate sex changing rooms into a “unisex village”.
A quick search of the internet reveals strong resident objections in other parts of the country to having this foisted on them, from Cleethorpes to Leamington, Stratford to Warwick and Woodbridge.
This is not welcome either to daily Chelsea users, because it will break the current much-loved locker room talks, which are regarded as a part of the positive social benefit additional to the swimming. They will be lost as everyone will have to change in their own separate cubicle. It will also slow down changing since it will be broken into several queueing points for showers, cubicles etc. and loss of speed and communality of the ‘changing bench.’
There is considerable anger and opposition amongst the vast majority of regular swimmers, who are council tax payers, to the imposition of these plans.  The Consultation Process was not transparent but opaque. Letters concerning this, and to Cabinet members and managers at GLL went unheeded. Objectors were not listened to. No results of consultation has been published to show how many people supported it or what they thought they were voting for. Unisex changing was not mentioned in the 4 questions of the Consultation questionnaire.  
RBKC agreed to the choice of a firm of ‘chartered surveyors’ rather than architects to produce a plan. More sensible alternative plans have been drawn up by swimmers who are architects, showing that it is quite possible to divide the space into 3 divisions - men/ women/ and schools + families, with corridors on either side parallel to the pool. These have been ignored.
Chelsea pool in its present form has unique character: it has soul. The proposed plans may suit a new build large leisure center, but to impose them on the listed Chelsea Pool without regard to the local residents/tax payers and regular swimmers is wrong. It interferes with a tradition and a culture which supports daily swimmers, quite possibly keeping them healthier and thus indirectly saving money which we are now told is needed for adult social care. It is a significant part of the experience of their daily swim. Raised at one of the meetings, swimmers were told they could chat at the side of the pool, or outside in the street.  What a good solution!!
An eloquent 3 minute speech from a daily swimmer at the planning application hearing supported the swimmers’ feelings perfectly. This led to 2 of the 3 conservative planning panel members voting against it, only one in favour. The plan was only passed by the chairman voting and using a casting vote which he had not done for other applications that night. Had a Labour member who was ill that night been present it would probably have been refused.
In the Royal Borough newsletter Spring 2017 we learn the 1.9% increase in council tax will bring in £1.5million which would otherwise have needed to be found from other cuts. Perhaps if they had decided to only spend on the essentials at the pool such as a new boiler they could have avoided much of the tax increase which is a similar sum to what is being spent on the Chelsea pool. 
In the same newspaper the council boasted of helping to get young local people “active” with free sessions on cookery, growing their own food  (growing your own food in London is rather difficult.)
 They also said ‘inactivity is a major cause of obesity’, but failed to mention the wasted money on the “unisex changes” which only extends pool closure time. This is why objectors to this silly scheme want to continue their swimming which is a real and irreplaceable way to keep slim and heathy.

 Unlike Westminster which makes swimming in its council pools free to all residents of their borough RBKC has made no steps in that direction at all. Nor has it attempted to offer alternatives to swimmers at no extra cost from “the Ist April to the end of summer“ that it seems to expect the pool to be out of action.


The WCC Labour Group blame WCC for the break up(see below) and RBK&C blame H&F!

The truth will never be known. 
The only substantive fact is that it was a bloody silly idea in the first place. 
Myers and Pooter got their K's on the back of it: they should be stripped of them.

"Westminster Council’s long-term mismanagement of back-office systems for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster were at the root of the break-up of tri-borough arrangements.

Councillors in Hammersmith & Fulham had little alternative but to look for other arrangements following grotesque failings in some of the back office tri-borough workings, for which Westminster was the lead borough. From the start of tri-borough, Westminster took charge of an attempt to run all three councils' routine billing and staff hours, pay and pensions administration through one contract.

Westminster Council gave the contract to BT in January 2013 telling everyone that it would save £30m and other councils would be asking to join in. At that point Westminster expected the contract to commence across the three boroughs in November 2013 (for HR) and March 2014 (for finance) and go live soon after.

It didn't. The contract actually went live in April 2015. The reason for the delay, and what happened after the contract did go live, are unfortunately covered by strict rules about commercial confidentiality. It is however in the public domain that Westminster Council's Audit and Performance committee held eight extraordinary meetings over this one contract (all in private sessions)."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017


The Dame thinks this pretty well sums it all up.
What possible experience did Derek Myers or Pooter Cockell have to conduct this dangerous and ill-advised experiment.

Retired Chief Executive
In June 2012 I wrote to Cllr Cockell, Leader of Kensington and Chelsea as follows:

"Any organisation can only serve one "brain" otherwise it becomes dysfunctional. We are proceeding with three Leaders and three Cabinets. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

The Chief Executive selected to run a merged operation has to be recruited from outside the shareholders. If he comes from one of the hosts there will always be suspicion from the others and authority will be undermined and then it breaks down.The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

If costs have to be reduced by re engineering an organisation, then lines of control have to be shortened and power concentrated. But we are building a shared power organisation and distributed organisation. The TRI Borough FAILS THIS TEST

Merger and integration is high risk. There is no point contemplating it unless savings of ca 30% can be demonstrated on paper (and empirically only about 10% will be obtained). The three Boroughs spend about £2 billion. 30% is £800 million. But Tri Borough savings were projected to be ca £20m to £30m at the outset and now £40 million is being trumpeted. Paltry in the scheme of things and they will be swept away by risk. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST.

The personality of the Chief Executive needs to be understood and a performance/reward framework put in place to match his behaviour to the desired outcome. The dual appraisal arrangement by K&C and Hammersmith is a classic "divide and rule" trap. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

The Chief Executive needs to report to a single master. Mr Myers will report to two masters. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

Shareholder/owner drivers need to be aligned. Westminster and K&C have guaranteed Conservative majorities.The Leaders are on a long leash. Hammersmith is a marginal council (Conservatives in survival mode). The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

Shareholder/owner constituencies need to be aligned. The demographics of Hammersmith are fundamentally different from K&C/Westminster. The Tri Borough FAILS THIS TEST

In my experience any integration programme will fail if any one of the rules above are broken.


Some of the Dame's naughty Hornton Hornets tell her the ludicrous Tri-Borough arrangement is in danger of imminent collapse: it cannot come too soon.
We need to be free of the interference of the dreadful H&F and Westminster.

Another crass idea of Myers and Pooter Cockell hits the buffers.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017



Dear Dame 

No matter how senior you are within Sainsbury's you are expected to get down and dirty for a few weeks a year.
This means toiling in a store shelf stacking, or worse, to get some idea what those at the bottom of the heap have to endure.

Having just received my business and council tax demand I took a look at the career profiles of our senior officers. 
It was no surprise to find that none had ever held down a job outside local or national government: in fact, most had spent their entire working lives depending on the public purse for their bullet proofed lives

Would it not be a good idea to force the likes of Messrs Stallwood and Holgate to work for a month in some hard-pressed local business? 
In that way, they could get a better understanding of the effort and sacrifice required to fund their obscenely high salaries and pensions of our senior council officers.

Yours respectfully,

A Notting Hill Shopkeeper

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Londoners, of all political persuasions, turned out en masse this Saturday to protest about NHS plans to cease all Congenital Heart Diseases operations and research at the Royal Brompton. The closure would especially hit children and young people. 
Let's hope Jeremy Hunt gets a grip on this and stops this madcap and pointless scheme.
Victoria Borwick MP

The Crowds Protesting
Nick Paget-Brown, Betty Boothroyd, Greg Hands MP
Former Leader of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd

Saturday, 18 March 2017



What is the matter with NHS Management? 
One madcap scheme after another as they flounder around like decapitated chickens. Their latest madness affects us all. Their idiotic and senseless plan is to decommission Congenital Heart Disease Services at Royal Brompton Hospital including linked research and the Children's Unit.
Please join the march on Saturday, 18th March(details above) and tell the NHS bureaucrats what you think by clicking on the LINK

World's Leading Heart Surgeon

Read what Sir Magdi Yacoub has to say LINK

Wednesday, 15 March 2017



The plan to build multi basements under the wonderful Hawksmoor/Vanbrugh Orangery at Kensington Place needs halting. Unless three objections are received the decision will be a delegated to the Director of Planning, Mr Stallwood....and that...we do not want... do we! So, the Dame says email quoting PP/17/01414 and object on the grounds the basement construction......

  • contravenes CL 7  
  • The embargo of basements under Grade 1 listed buildings.

You can also go to the detailed application and object there LINK
This application is of such importance it must be democratically debated by the Planning Committee, not decided by developer friendly, Mr. Stallwood and, as one resident succinctly put it.... "A truly shoddy application. The 4 part Design Statement is incoherent and bitty. The application fee is £8,500 and the Community Infrastructure levy nearly £77k: waste of public money. The client is being led by the nose of greedy advisers: what on earth have works at St Martin's in the Fields got to do with messing up acres of Kensington Gardens? Shocking, and that's before you even get to issues of CL 7 and listed status."