The board of the tenant management organisation at the centre of the Grenfell Tower fire in London will recommend a meeting on its proposed closure be postponed following opposition from residents.
Local community members have repeatedly called for an end to Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Managament Organisation (TMO) 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.
TMO members are due to attend an AGM on Tuesday evening and vote on whether to end its agreement with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), following a unanimous council vote in September to sever ties with the arm’s-length organisation.
Residents are resisting the short-term closure, fearing that a rushed decision may have troubling implications for accountability following the fire, which killed around 80 people.
The TMO said: “The board of Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) will be recommending to the annual general meeting tonight that it is adjourned. “This is in recognition of significant feedback that has been received by KCTMO.”
The TMO oversees the management of more than 9,000 properties, which included Grenfell Tower, in the borough on behalf of the local authority. In September, the TMO asked its approximately 5,000 members to vote to relinquish its housing responsibilities at tonight’s AGM 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.
This would “ensure that the company continues to exist so it can answer questions of the public inquiry and any police investigation”, the council and TMO have said.
But lawyers from Bindmans and Bhatt Murphy, 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 prosecution for corporate manslaughter, or being sued in any civil proceedings.
There is also concern that folding up the TMO before the public inquiry is complete could undermine future liaison on issues of disclosure and witnesses. The law firms wrote to the TMO twice asking for the AGM to be postponed, saying a refusal would lead to “an inevitable increase in costs and trauma for those seeking appropriate redress and accountability”.
Responding to the announcement, Paul Ridge, a partner at Bindmans, said: “This is welcome and our clients hope that the time will be put to good use in finding a better alternative to removal of all residents as members and placing RBKC as the sole member or in providing proper safeguards.”