|Pantomime: Planning decisions in H&F and GLA|
And we're in pantomime season at the London Assembly too. During the last Mayoral Question Time before the elections in May Labour Assembly Member Nicky Gavron noted that in a recent consultation the majority of residents had expressed their opposition to the scheme by a very large majority. And she asked whether the Mayor was aware of that, given that he would be asked to sit in judgement of whether the scheme can go ahead.
Now bear in mind the Mayor has not yet officially looked at the planning application and must therefore be impartial. Which is strange because Mr Johnson's response indicated he had in fact already made up his mind, and talked about doing "...everything we can to ensure there is a very high quality scheme that protects local residents and delivers on things that matter to Londoners."
Perhaps realising he had given the game away he then rebuked Ms Gavron for "seeking to embroil me in this".
Ms Gavron pressed on and asked him to confirm that as Chair of Transport for London he was therefore the biggest landowner in the area proposed for re-development and was therefore the biggest equity holder. In other words this scheme stood to make a wadge of cash for an organisation which he was head of - wasn't that a conflict of interest, she asked?
Mr Johnson then mumbled about not knowing the "..detail in your question."
You can listen to the exchange for yourself by clicking here.
The Residents Association themselves, still determined not to give in much to the annoyance of our Council, have written to the General Counsel (chief lawyer) of TfL asking that these interests are laid before the London Assembly before the Mayor takes his planning decision. Given that it appears the Mayor has now revealed his intention to press ahead regardless of residents wishes it seems that, just as with Shepherd's Bush Market, here too there are only two things that can save these people's homes - a successful legal hold-up or a change of Mayor at the next election.
0830 UPDATE - My fellow blogger BorisWatch has been in touch to point out that TfL specifically had the law of the land changed to facillitate this scheme. You can find the relevant Bill here, with the relevant text reading:
It is expedient that provision be made in relation to the restriction under section 163 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 (c.29) on Transport for London’s 5 powers to dispose of certain land.
It goes on to confer powers on TfL to form "partnerships" and "mitigate risks".
So Boris expects us to believe a) he doesn't know the "details" of what he is responsible for as Chair of TfL and b) he forgot that the organisation which he Chairs actually went to Parliament to change the law. I leave it to your judgement.