Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Because he works very much like our Council, sadly, on planning issues. Does this affect everyone? No. Is it therefore the reason why many of you should choose Ken over Boris? No. So am I, in this brief piece trying to persuade all of you to vote for Ken? Well, sort of I suppose but you’re all grown ups and don’t need any advice from me on that score.
So it’s a personal choice and I voted for Ken last week (I have a postal vote) on the basis that I have lived in W12 for over a decade now and think the things that make this place one of the best little corners in this fantastic city is its’ people, and its’ character.
Like Shepherd’s Bush Market and the Goldhawk Road terrace of historic shops. Zippy’s Café, with its’ 1950s original décor and the pie & mash shop which has been in the family for nigh on a century. All handed over on a plate against the express wishes of the owners to a property developer to make some more cash on, in order to build a high rise of luxury flats instead. The former owners become enforced tenants inhabiting boutique style modern units and paying as yet unspecificed levels of rent to Orion the new landlords.
Or the West Kensington Estate. Inhabited by what is clearly a majority of residents who want where they live to stay as it is, as one 9 year old girl expressed in terms clearer and more direct than much of the propaganda from both sides squabbling over the development. The fact is there is a vibrant community there and they don’t fancy being handed over on a plate either, with many leaseholders being forced to leave the area as a result.
In both cases I would make two observations – firstly our Council has either ignored the residents completely or pumped our money into front organisations which parrot the official line, and which Boris backs to the hilt. And secondly the Mayor has been dishonest in his public accounts of what he has been up to, claiming to stand up for residents while signing papers giving the official go-ahead.
On King Street he poses as having blocked the massively unpopular King Street redevelopment - again involving evictions to be replaced with luxury flats - and yet leaked documents reveal clearly that our Council are in cahoots with him and will re-introduce this scheme the moment he is re-elected.The fact the documents were marked "top secret" and "exempt from Freedom of Information requests" tells you all you need to know about our Council and Boris' committment to be upfront with you.
To me this is a case of the little person being ridden roughshod over and I don’t much like it. Not least because if you look at other more faceless areas of London you can see where it leads to.
So what about Ken? He is far, far, far from perfect. He introduced the Western congestion zone ignoring local residents, he whacked up fares after promising not to and there remain questions about his tax arrangements. It is instructive that much of his campaign has had to be about persuading members of the Labour Party to vote for the Labour candidate.
But consider some of the other differences. Ken actually wants to do something about the air pollution that hit the maximum possible level in W12 just a couple of weeks ago. Boris doesn’t. Ken will likely act as a balance to the bulldozer approach our Council seems to adopt to residents in the North of our borough and force them to be listened to (not agreed with necessarily – but listened to). Ken wants to cut tube fares which seem to spiral ever upwards while service quality plummets. Boris doesn’t. He wants to use the cash on tax payer funded vanity projects like cable cars instead.
That’s why I think for the Bush, and for London, it’s worth holding your nose, as the Labour Party said recently, and vote for Ken. But even if you can’t bring yourself to do that it might be worth remembering that you have three votes in this election – one for the Mayor, one for your constituency Assembly Member and one for the London-wide list.
Even a majority on the Assembly that is able to actively hold Boris to account would be better than nothing – so you may wish to think carefully about where to put your crosses on Thursday.
Posted by Chris Underwood at 10:00