News reaches me that there will be two demonstrations outside the Town Hall this evening as the Cabinet meets to consider plans for the West Kensington Estate. You'll recall that the Council wants to demolish the estate as part of the Earl's Court redevelopment in partnership with developers CapCo. There's a lot of serious cash at stake.
But there are also 760 families whose homes are also at stake and the majority of residents are vehemently opposed judging by their campaign which almost forced the Council to be evicted as a "rogue landlord" under new Government legislation. Those residents are now accusing our Council of taking what they call a "£15 million bribe" from developers
The payment – made up of a £5 million deposit and a further £10 million, which is refundable – is a down-payment to reserve the estates exclusively for one developer so they can be demolished as part of the proposed Earl’s Court redevelopment. And that's what's set to be voted on tonight.
Scores of residents will travel to Hammersmith Town Hall to attend the meeting, which starts at 7pm. Outside they are planning to unfurl a scroll with 25 feet of signatures against demolition, and show the forms signed by residents from two thirds of households applying to join a new association to take over their homes and secure them against our Council's plans.
Once inside the meeting, which they have a right to attend, they will address the Cabinet members. But let me predict what will happen next - they will then be excluded by security so councillors can make what the campaigners claim may well be an unlawful decision in secret.
So before Cabinet members close the doors on the public to make their decision, resident Shirley Wiggins will say:
"Because we’re proud of our neighbourhood, we are steadfastly determined to stop you and your developer associates from wrecking our estates, destroying our community and separating neighbour from neighbour so that you and the developer can enrich yourselves and make huge profits at our expense.
This Council has set itself against the whole thrust of Government policy. You are putting the interests of your developer associates, and the profits it hopes to make to make, in front of the interests of local people.
We are determined to proceed with our application to take over the estates, establishing community control of the area now, and not in 20 years time when the community has been shattered and our homes destroyed.
We call on you now to act responsibly and to do what is right. Say no to £15 million for demolition: give us the power to determine our own future in line with Government policy; and co-operate with our use of the law to take community control of our neighbourhood!"
But what's this?! There will also be a counter demo of residents who have emerged in support of the plans, who I am told are staffed and funded by the council and chaired by a man called Harry Audley from White City. That's right, White City. Not West Ken. Their stirring poster is pictured left.
So as the demonstrators chant and wave placards, some home made and some, er, not, an equally farcical procedure will take place inside the Town Hall where after some bluster from councillors the Cabinet will vote through the plans regardless.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we do democracy in Hammersmith and Fulham. Pyongyang style.