Tuesday, 11 September 2012

West Ken: report on Misconduct in Public Office handed to Police

CapCo inspires locals with their vision
A report alleging very serious misconduct on the part of our Council has been handed to the police.

A formal document extending to 20 pages, the report makes for extremely uncomfortable reading both for Council officers and elected councillors. It documents what it claims have been attempts on the part of councillors to persuade residents to back the redevelopment with the promise of "guaranteed" houses on Seagrove Road.

That is a very serious charge indeed, relating to Misconduct in Public Office which itself carries the possibility of criminal charges, so the police are likely to take some time before deciding their next step.

Here's one passage:

"Some months ago a Conservative Councillor knocked at my door. The man asked me “What do you think about demolition?”. I replied I did not want to move outside the borough. He replied that I was definitely going to be re-housed in the borough, because I would be moved to Seagrave Road".

"I asked the Councillor if it would be possible to have a ground floor in Seagrave Road, and he replied “Your name will be put down on a list for a ground floor flat in Seagrave Road”. And then he added “Can we rely on your vote?”. I said “no”, and he left".
And it seems the Mayor of London's own camapign machine were sent to help out too. Here's another excerpt:
One day at the end of February/beginning of March 2012 someone knocked at my door. It was a man in his 50s, about six feet tall, with grey-black hair. He was wearing a black suit and at first I thought he was a detective.

He did not introduce himself and he did not show me any ID. He just asked me “Who are you going to vote for?”. I told him “I don’t know, I haven’t made my mind up yet”. And then he said “because I am working for Boris Johnson”.

I let him in. He had a consultation feedback form with him and he asked me what was my view about the redevelopment. I said that I quite liked it here, but that if I was given a better place in the area I wouldn’t mind. And then he told me that the people that agree with demolition have been given top priority to go to Seagrave Road. He [said] that if I did not agree I would end up being put into a hotel and lose my flat completely. He told me that I should fill in the form as soon as possible, because there would be not be enough places for everyone in Seagrave Road.

He was very authoritative and official, and I thought that everything he was saying was true. He made me feel as if it was really going to happen. He told me that he knew it because he was working for Boris Johnson, and he was the man who was going to make everything happen. He also made me feel as if he was doing me a favour, as if he was doing it for my benefit, as if he was concerned for me. But at the same time, he was scaring me saying that I would be put into a hotel or somewhere else in London.

As he left, he told me again to fill in the form and to post it as soon as possible, because the first applicants agreeing with demolition would be put at the top of the list to go to Seagrave Road, and there were many people applying for Seagrave Road, people who had already agreed with demolition and that therefore were going to have top priority to go there.

He left the form with me and I said I would fill it in as soon as possible saying that I agreed the demolition should take place. As soon as he left, I filled in the form saying that I agreed with demolition. I have lived on the street for nine years, and I did not want to lose my home. He made me feel as if I was going to lose my home.
After his visit, I was quite agitated, because it made me feel as if he was quite certain that the demolition would happen. It was only when I spoke with my neighbours that I realised there was opposition on the estates, and that many people were against it. Now I feel like I have been manipulated. He was using Seagrave Road as a carrot on a stick to make me do what he wanted, to make me agree with demolition.
The Council rejects the allegation, and has already responded with the simple rebuttal:
This is a serious charge and in the absence of any evidence a serious slur. (Chief Executive, 1 August 2012)
Speaking to me earlier this afternoon Council Leader Nick Boterill was unrepentant. He had this to say:
“The council is immensely proud that residents living on the two estates have been offered the best deal in any regeneration scheme in London. In fact, all residents are on the VIP list.

“We have adopted a ‘local lettings plan’ that sets out exactly how new housing will be allocated for eligible residents.

“All council tenants, freeholders and leaseholders who live on the two estates will be offered a brand new home, a very generous compensation package of £4,700 per tenant and new white goods, carpets and curtains.

“We have said all along that the major beneficiaries of this investment have to be the residents living on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, followed by the wider area, the borough and London as a whole.”
The problem with that argument, for the Council, is that this report is packed full with accounts of altogether different practices. And ones which collectively amount to a serious allegation of wrongdoing which is now in the hands of the police.

CapCo leave all smiles
I suspect the fireworks that follow on from this development may make the pantomime of the last meeting of the Cabinet look like child's play. Interesting times.

UPDATE 0900 THURSDAY - As expected the H&F Planning Committee acted with their usual rubber stamp and approved the development last night. As you can see from these pictures the folk from developers CapCo had a real spring in their step. But all of this of course becomes a bit irrelevant depending on the outcome of the legal side of things. This story has yet to run its' course...

They think it's all over: It isn't now..
UPDATE MONDAY 17th SEPT - The Fulham Chronicle, which has described the estates as "doomed" and said that the "way is clear" for their destruction has grudgingly reported this story, almost a whole week after it appeared here. Anyone would think they were batting for the Council. 


  1. Do you have the full text of this report?

  2. Crikey, that's serious stuff. Hopefully the final nail in the coffin of this 'development'.

  3. What's the source of this formal report? Seems a little anonymous the way it's been reported here.

  4. That's a fair point - I wanted to post the whole thing up and could still do so but there seems to be a lot of checking with lawyers involved so I haven't! Rest assured it's a pretty explosive document.

  5. Interesting. God knows what Wandsworth have been getting up to with the Conservatives in unbroken power for over 30 years and hand in glove with developers such as St. George who I see are now getting major schemes approved on your side of the river.