Monday, 18 July 2011

Demo and counter demo at Town Hall tonight


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. 

8 comments:

  1. That YES placard is truly outrageous.

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  2. Would be good to see evidence of exactly how many residents are for and how many are against the development.

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  3. And the taxpayer money to chauffer them to the Town Hall...

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  4. Chris - social housing in its current form doesn't help many of those truly in need. It often houses those who are quite capable of renting in the private market, or who decide to remain in homes that are way too big for them - partly the reason why we have enormous waiting lists (amongst other reasons).

    Whilst extremely well-meaning, the giant housing estates of the 60's and 70's created whole rafts of 'suburbs' filled with people who drew the short end of the privilege stick, creating ghettos of poverty and disillusion. I've seen the plans for the whole development (and also done some LA housing work in the current, not very nice neighbourhood) and it's far more geared towards sustainable and mixed development which will be good for all the residents, particularly the less privileged ones.

    I do get annoyed at those receiving generous support from the state at how hard done by they are and how they have a right to stay in their subsidised homes. Moving house (and often regions or even countries), because of social and economic necessity is part and parcel of modern Britain for most people from time to time. The people in West Ken are still being guaranteed their homes, albeit in a different form, with some upheaval. Not entirely sure what the problem here is...

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  5. Committee member18 July 2011 20:51

    In reply to Anonymous out of the 760 homes on the 2 estates West Kensington & Gibbs Green we have so far signed up over 600 homes who want the development stopped. In regards to Tracey's question about who paid for the coach I can assure you that the coach laid on for the people against the development was NOT paid out of tax payers money.

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  6. Sorry for any confusion - I certainly never had the idea that those opposed were being transported using taxpayer money, but I was wondering about those from the(council supported) proponents of the redevelopment!

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  7. @JBK

    There's always the radical notion of building more social housing, but few people ever seem to mention that. It shouldn't be a race to the bottom - fairly-priced housing of a decent standard should be within everyone's reach.

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  8. Sadly! Our DEMOCRATIC votes have yet again been wasted by lumbering us with a party of self indulgent Tory councilors, which are now being offered irresistible sweeteners to the tune of £15million from extremely wealthy construction company's so as to paved the way to blindly lead residents up the garden path..

    This process seems to have already started by certain councilors underhanded self indulgent past efforts of emails to higher levels of government to delay tenants new powers to be able take over the management of their estates..

    This is yet more proof that the developers and councilors have shown no real intentions of playing fairly with any persons wanting to oppose the development plans of such a magnitude..

    The Tories want to wash there hands of social housing, but before they set that plan in motion, the Tories will CUNNINGLY want the pickings from the creme of the crop of London's newest prime development land of fulham, west ken, & earls court which will be worth fortunes to those involved in its implementation, and lets not forget the new land owners humongous profits..

    so its no wonder as to why those H&F conservative councilors want stop residents achieving their goal of managing there estate..

    The voices of the 600 MAJORITY of the 750 residents are obviously being ignored in favor of profit rather than logic..

    This project has many flaws, one being the huge scale of newly built dwellings that will occupy the site, including two/thirds of the current open space being built on.. another being traffic.. need i say more..

    so with all that's been said and done, I don't see what grounds H&F council has to not allow all 750 residents to vote on the outcome proposed development.

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