Tuesday, 25 June 2013

West Ken: Boris ambushed, chased into City Hall

Tally Ho
Boris Johnson is a thoroughbred Tory, which is why he is so popular with the rank and file. He recently argued for the introduction of fox hunting into London, saying he "did not care" what the animal rights lobby would think about it. Grr, you go get 'em Bozza!

But today he was pursued across the green, rather like a terrified mammal, by some very angry people. No top hats and tails in evidence here, but they were waving letters and postcards urging the Mayor to think again over the fate of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates.They were accompanied by Andy Slaughter MP, who has supported their campaign.

Cornered: cameras roll as answers demanded
Fresh from evidence surfacing of some shady lobbying having taken place, and an "investigation" into former H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh that didn't interview any witnesses, the people fighting to save their communities against the joint goliaths of our Council and their colleagues CapCo came face to face with the man the Evening Standard likes to fawn over as the next Prime Minister in waiting.

Despite not facing the grizzly end of a fox about to be dispatched by hounds, the Mayor seemed very unhappy at having to meet the hoi polloi and, after accepting the petitions and letters being offered to him by the residents, ran into City Hall as fast as his legs would carry him.

If in doubt, use a Prime Ministerial hand gesture
The residents, who really weren't all that fearsome, simply wanted to make their point known. Here's what they said in their letter:
Dear Mr Johnson

Earl’s Court redevelopment

Further to the previous representations made by the residents of the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates, we are writing to request that you refuse consent for the Earl’s Court redevelopment scheme on the following grounds:

Over the past four years, West Kensington & Gibbs Green residents have consistently said no to demolition and yes to community control: in 2009, 80% of households signed a petition against demolition and for residents to determine their own future; in 2011, two thirds of residents joined West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes, the company established to use the law to transfer the estates into community ownership; in 2012, by a majority of 4:1, residents said no to demolition – responses to the consultation from over 500 residents, aged 4 to 92, are available here: http://tinyurl.com/7uhhgye; in 2013, 60% of households signed a petition asking the Government to refuse consent for the disposal of the estates to the developer and to make the regulations that would enable us to transfer ownership to the people (Appendix 1).

The High Court will be hearing the judicial review of the Earl’s Court SPD for three days starting 17 July. We think it would be premature for you to determine the Earl’s Court scheme Stage II referral in advance of the Judge’s decision.

We are concerned that the vast majority of the homes planned for development will likely be sold at premium prices to off-shore investors who will hold them for investment rather than occupy them or let them to others, and that only 10% of the new homes will be ‘affordable’ for Londoners, albeit at near market rents and prices.

We are heartened by your support for Community Land Trusts; our ambition is for our community to own our estates so we can make the improvements we need, take greater charge for the welfare of our neighbours, develop more housing and facilities, and preserve and create employment to contribute to wider need.

Our previous invitation for you to visit our estates and meet with residents remains open.

Yours sincerely

Sally Taylor, Chair West Kensington estate Tenants & Residents Association
Diana Belshaw, Chair Gibbs Green Tenants & Residents Associations
Keith Drew, Chair West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes

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