Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Shepherd’s Bush Market: Council ban public from public meeting

Our Council appear to be up to their old tricks again. A full council meeting is to be held this coming Wednesday and the major item on the agenda are these plans to redevelop the market, including proposals to knock down a row of Victorian shops. The market traders are, like so many other residents groups across the borough, up in arms both at the proposals themselves but also what they see as the way in which they are being ignored by the council in its mission to change the face of H&F.

Now, in a move reminiscent of this amazing meeting that was modelled on Stalin’s show trials, our Council have decided to hold this full council meeting – of which there are only a few during the year and are the major democratic set-pieces where the big decisions are made publicly – in a very small room. And not even in Hammersmith Town Hall, but this time the smaller venue of Fulham Town Hall.

And the council officers are already warning that a maximum of 60 people, on a first come first served basis will be let in. The rest will be barred from entry.

Given that the Market traders feel that the “consultation” the council cites in support of its plans was flawed and quite likely to be the subject of legal action, petty moves like this can surely only serve to underline the impression of a Council willing to do anything to get its way. And there was me thinking Cllr Greenhalgh was determined to turn over a new leaf after his professed "hurt" at another irate group of residents.

Opposition Leader Steven Cowan has lodged an official protest and requested that the room be changed to one which would accommodate the “public” for this “public meeting”. No reply there has come. As one of those connected to the campaign just commented to me “I’m getting the feeling we’re not wanted.” You can hardly blame her instincts.

I'm still inclined, despite how all this looks, to say that this is all probably cock up rather than conspiracy and that saner heads will prevail and a larger room will be found. But the Council's probalem is that its form in this area means that people draw their own conclusions when they see a pattern of behaviour. They also have a problem in the sense that all of these residents groups are inclreasingly collaborating with each other against what they see as their common enemy - the Council - which should really be the body that does what residents actually want! I know that at least some of the Conservative group are unhappy with this state of affairs, in fairness to them.

If I am allowed in to this “public meeting” I’ll report back. If not, just put it down to the way in which our Council seems intent on doing business these days. Meanwhile, in the interests of balance and in the hope that this really is “all some silly mistake” I’ve asked the press office for comment.

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