Elephants Are Our Friends

Elephants Are Our Friends

Bringing up Race can be uncomfortable for people.
There, I said it. Awkward.
But, that cannot be helped, because in the case of the Westway Trust, it is Race that has enabled a ridiculously rare and unique opportunity to examine the actions of an £8million organisation that, for some reason, has been constructed in a way that was never, ever intended by those who fought successfully for its existence. In fact, in recent years, the organisation has been deconstructed and reconstructed as something even further from the original ideal.
In 1968 the Playspace Group led the way in securing the 23 acres for the local community. They were against the formation of a charity with half council members and half members of local organisations that, even then, did not truly represent the local community.

50 years later and we are still feeling the repercussions of that off-key start to what ought to have been a far more radical and paradigm-shifting achievement.

Does anyone seriously think that a former Schroders banker (on a $2.7million salary in 2010 https://www.reuters.com/…/schroders-pay-idUSLDE72O0KN201103…) and current governor of the multi billion-pound organisation Wellcome Trust, represents the outlook and leadership the North Kensington community wanted for its reclaimed land?
An £8million income each year is a fair amount of money to manage. 
But, multi-million dollar banker money?
International bank Chief Investment Officer money?
Dominant global medical research charity money?
Here's a challenge: Find another self-declared inner city community organisation with an ex-banker - let alone Chief Investment Officer - at the helm.
To be clear, there is no objection to financial and management expertise being a strong part of the organisation.
The objection is to the undeniable level of dominant control - including a deciding vote - being exercised by that very specific type of corporate expertise.

Alan Brown's leadership - and that of the free-spending, greasy-pole climbing, black-people-denying Angela McConville - follows an attempt to turn the Westway Trust into a property developer from 2012.
This resulted in the replacement of a 50/50 councillor/"community" structure with a board of unequal thirds that was suddenly able to take on whoever it liked as one of six 'Co-opted Trustees'. Suddenly half the members were professionals in finance and property.
Member Organisations retained three seats and the council retained two Conservative councillors on the board (and one Labour). Since 2012 they have included Malcolm Spalding (who the Earls Court community have suffered greatly under), Terence Buxton (still a non-voting member of the board as part of the property committee) and the infamous Rock Feilding-Mellen. The change apparently made things worse for the local community, not better.

Westway23 made a failed attempt at rebalancing the board in 2015. The numbers didn't stack up to make the meaningful changes necessary.

Allowing multi-millionaires who do not reasonably reflect the North Kensington community to retain decisive control over a major North Kensington community asset is not an acceptable option.

Race is a central theme of this imbalance. It can be - it is! - the weighty elephant to crack this well-strategised nut. So it is hoped that people put any discomfort to one side and engage in this concerted effort to make change.
If you think that Class has been the deciding factor in your relationship or non-relationship with the Trust, say it.
If what you have to say is "only my opinion". Say it.
If you've seen or heard things that made you feel uncomfortable. Say it.

Send words of concern by letter, free of charge to: Freepost TUTU FOUNDATION UK

Go online to the web portal at www.tutufoundationuk.org/the-review

Arrange a face to face interview with the Head of the Review, Dr Habashi, between 21st January - 25th February. Available slots are 10am, 1pm, 4pm or 7pm at one of five North Kensington venues (Tabernacle, Bay56, Kensington & Chelsea Social Council, Westway Trust, Venture Centre).

Book your interview or make any other queries or suggestions with Christine Okiya on 07950 417344 secretarytothereview@tutufoundationuk.org

Tags: #InstitutionalRacism