|Andy Slaughter addresses meeting|
Inside the meeting the councillors were roundly booed, especially when they prevented two young girls who lived on the estate from speaking, before proceding to apply the H&F Council Rubber Stamp, a well-used tool in these ere parts.
The residents themselves, equally predictably, vowed "never to surrender" and promised a long drawn out battle which they would win, they said. Here's them doing a thoroughly defiant "Mobot" on the way home!
Knowing the end result, and having given up many other monday evenings to these sorts of farces before, I didn't bother going. The real story here is not what happened last night but what happens first of all in the courts and secondly in David Cameron's new Government, with many new Ministers and perhaps a new determination to make the Prime Minister's Big Society idea of residents controlling their destinies rather than local authorities a reality.
But I might just have gone along to watch the local MP, Andy Slaughter, being unceremoniously threatened by the Council's beefy security guards, if only to witness a scene that I wouldn't have thought possible even here! Here's Andy's account of the incident - which of course is from one side only. The Council are welcome to give their side of the story...
|Mr Beefy interrupts to ask Mr Slaughter to get out|
Nick Botterill, supposedly a softer replacement for Stephen Greenhalgh as Council Leader shouted me down, then ordered the Cabinet to leave the room. At this point two very large gentlemen stood either side of me and ordered me to leave. They also ordered the public to stop tweeting or using their mobile ‘phones.
Had I been granted my five minutes I would have made the following points:
- The residents of the two estates, a mixture of council tenants, leaseholders, freeholders, housing association and private tenants – in other words the model of a mixed community – voted three times against demolition, most recently by a majority of 4 to 1. This is virtually ignored or misrepresented in the Council’s report.
- The economic justification for the £8 billion scheme says no more than that replacing low-rise affordable homes with high-rise luxury flats will add to the value of the land. A statement so fatuous as to defy belief. This could justify the demolition of almost any neighbourhood in London.
- The companies advising the Council on the merits of the sale – principally Jones Lang LaSalle and Price Waterhouse Coopers – are the same firms advising the purchaser. Challenged on this the Council’s defence is that these companies have a virtual monopoly in their field.
- The conflicts of interest between the Council’s roles as local authority, planning authority, landlord and beneficiary are nowhere addressed. Similar conflicts arise for Kensington & Chelsea and the Greater London Authority.
- The disposal of the first part of the development site to an underfunded subsidiary of CapCo and a Hong Kong-based property company whose principal directors have been charged with corruption offences is an inappropriate partner for a local council to rely on to re-house its residents
- The sum of £105 million which the Council will receive for delivering the land to CapCo with vacant possession is a substantial inducement to evict the residents, but a grotesque undervalue of the site given the planning consent the Council intends to grant on 12 September. This represents a huge subsidy to a multi-national developer from the taxpayers of Hammersmith & Fulham.
- The promises made to existing residents will not be honoured. Of 760 properties, 171 are owned freehold or leasehold, 58 are rented by housing associations and 531 by the Council. Only if a tenant moves into a new home built on the site will they continue as social rented homes. Given the 20 years of building works before the development is complete it is likely that the majority of tenants will not move and the new homes will be sold or rented out a market or near market rents. The freeholders and leaseholders will be bought out or offered a share of a new property, either way these will sold at market rates.
|Lawyers, consultants & financial advisors paid to work for Council - and who also work for the developers at the meeting|
UPDATE 1530 WEDNESDAY - Well, I did offer the Council the opportunity to put their side of things and it seems they have a very different recollection of events. Here's Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of the Council, speaking to me this afternoon:
“Opposition Members were given unlimited time to ask questions. However, the MP attempted to disrupt the meeting in an inappropriate manner.
“The MP was not forcibly removed and he remained in his seat throughout the duration of Cabinet.
“This meeting was for elected councillors to make a decision on whether to include the two estates in this scheme.
“Members of the public, including the local MP have had numerous opportunities over several years, to have their say on the proposed regeneration of Earls Court and the surrounding area.”