Members of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) were being encouraged to vote against its proposed closure at the annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday night.
Some local community members have repeatedly called for an end to the organisation, amid accusations that it breached its duty of care by ignoring residents’ complaints, failed to carry out repairs and over its response to the Grenfell Tower fire.
But there are also fears that such a move could impede justice for Grenfell Tower victims.
TMO members were due to vote at the meeting, being held at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington High Street, whether to end its agreement with Kensington and Chelsea Council, following a unanimous council vote in September to sever ties with the arm’s-length organisation .
Residents fear a rushed decision may have troubling implications for accountability following the fire, which killed around 80 people.
Gordon Futter, one of the co-ordinators of the borough-wide residents’ group, has put forward a motion calling for the votes on two resolutions to be postponed - “the first step for residents to take back control and choose what is right for us”.
This was rejected, and will be proposed again at the AGM, with residents being urged to vote to keep the TMO intact if it is not accepted.
He said: “We want the TMO gone but they must go on our terms and without further prejudice or detriment to the residents."
Mr Futter added: “By voting for these two resolutions and without further clarifications or guarantees, we are vulnerable to a transfer of the council housing stock and we would lose our right to participate.
“Promises of consultations are meaningless in this borough and we expect guarantees.
“If the resolution passes we lose our right as members, so in fact the council becomes the sole voting member, and without the understanding of why this is so necessary for them, and why we should trust them for this process, without anything but a verbal statement saying ‘we’ll sort it out for you’, that’s not acceptable.”
In September, the TMO asked its roughly 5,000 members to vote to relinquish its housing responsibilities once council consultation on the future management of people’s homes was complete.
They were also encouraged to pass a special resolution to make the council the TMO’s sole member.
Kensington and Chelsea said the next step would be “an extensive engagement and consultation process” on management, hoping to make a decision early next year.
But residents fear that if members vote without more information about the possible consequences, this may jeopardise the interests of more than 9,000 TMO-managed households.
Lawyers who represent a “large number” of people affected by the fire said there were “very serious concerns” that disbanding the TMO could lead to the organisation avoiding any prosecution for corporate manslaughter, or being sued in any civil proceedings.
There is also a concern that the move could undermine future liaison on issues of disclosure and witnesses.
The council and TMO have said they are working together to ensure an “orderly transition” and are proposing that the council become a sole member “to ensure that the company continues to exist so it can answer questions of the public inquiry and any police investigation”.
Council deputy leader Kim-Taylor Smith said: “If TMO members vote to end the existing management agreement and they support the change to the TMO’s constitution, this will allow the council to make sure that the TMO keeps going for an interim period.
“It will not be disbanded and will continue to help the council deliver housing services to residents and this will allow the TMO to support the work of the public inquiry.”
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