Bully boy tactics appear to be the order of the day as our Council's campaign against the majority of residents living on the West Kensington & Gibbs Green Estate continues unabated, even in the face of a criminal investigation into similarly dubious tactics alleged to have been used only months ago. Deputy Mayor for Policing and former H&F Leader Stephen Greenhalgh's job now hangs by a thread as the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigate his conduct.
The latest move was to unilaterally lock residents out of a community hall they were planning to use for a training meeting. This session was due to be on on Valuation, and is part of the process to develop the capacity of the Board of the residents association to take on Community Ownership of the estates. You can see why the Council might not much like that.
One of them turned up and was unable to get in. When first rung, a Council officer explained that the locks had been changed and that it had been done for "security reasons". But their story soon changed with a voicemail being left by an officer from the Council's Housing Office on another residents association phone claiming that a resident who had been in charge of the keys for years now had to "fill in a new form" before she would be given a new set.
Speaking later Diana Belshaw, a member of the residents association, explained:
"The council sent letters demanding we hand in the keys and produce insurance papers as we managed Gibbs Green @West Kensington halls. We wrote a letter explaining that we did not manage the halls and that the council did so I suppose this is just another way H&F council are having a go at the TRA."Difficult to see any other explanation. And depressingly similar to the behaviour exhibited by this Council towards these people over the last couple of years, about which the High Court has taken a dim view.
Meanwhile, the Council's motto remains "putting residents first".