The news that Kensington and Chelsea council has terminated its contract with its housing manager (Report, 28 September) raises a question of wider relevance for anyone interested in tenant or workplace democracy or control. This was a tenant management organisation. The majority of the board (eight out of 15) were tenants directly elected by the membership. So how did it end up so comprehensively losing the confidence of tenants? Clearly, Grenfell was an appalling failure of management and project control, but it was preceded by years of complaints that the TMO was not listening to and didn’t care about its tenants, despite being, at least nominally, controlled by its tenants. Were the tenant reps effectively marginalised on the board by councillors and management? Were they lied to? Were they undertrained and out of their depth in scrutinising major projects, and if so was that because of a deliberate management strategy, or incompetence? Or were the structures of accountability between tenant reps and the tenants themselves too weak to be meaningful, leaving them as a self-perpetuating, semi-detached elite? If the next Labour government wants to expand social housing, and put control back in the hands of the people, this is surely… Read full this story
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