Sunday, 14 April 2013

West Ken: Residents prompt lock down of PR firm

TfL man appears to accept petition c/o BBC London
The battle between residents who want to save their homes and our Council broke into the open last week in chaotic scenes as a central London office block was ordered into lockdown by the PR firm supporting our local authority and their colleagues CapCo, the property developers.

Edelman PR Managing Director Chris Rumfitt, who apparently describes himself as "the last Blairite in the Labour Party" was none too pleased to see the residents, demanding that only one of them accompany Andy Slaughter into their offices. But the residents wanted to hand over a petition and were going nowhere, so Mr Rumfitt eventually appeared.

People meet power: resident hands petition to PR chief Chris Rumfitt (c/o A Wiard)
Accepting the petition, which was also delivered to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Transport for London and CapCo, Mr Rumfitt didn't stay for long and shortly afterwards issued a press release to PR Week in response to complaints that the office lockdown had effectively barred not only protestors but other people working in the same building. They said:
"Along with four other organisations, Edelman received a small, well-behaved and peaceful protest related to our work on the Earls Court development on Wednesday. We were pleased to go down and meet with the protestors, listen to their concerns and continue the dialogue we have been engaging in with them over the past five years. We are proud of our work on the Earls Court development, which guarantees every single one of the residents a new home within the development".
Andy Slaughter had a more pithy view of things:
"I was impressed to see how easily the People’s Estates ran rings round “the world’s largest independent Public Relations Agency”, which claims to “provide strategic thinking and deliver high-impact campaigns, across the full spectrum of communications”
While Keith Drew, Chair of West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes said:
"Edelman trumpets its international awards and boasts an: 'Edelman Trust Barometer'. Yet, when a few council tenants tried to deliver a letter to its Managing Director of Public Affairs for London, he locked down a major headquarters building in the heart of the Capital. Had our MP not pleaded he come on down, the Police would have stormed the building to drag him out to face his constituents!

"Edelman is bungling the 'promotion' of the largest speculative redevelopment in the world outside of China, the £8 Billion Earl’s Court scheme that would destroy 761 decent homes, a cohesive community, 500 UK manufacturing jobs, thousands of jobs dependant on the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centres, damage this country’s international trade, and deprive the Treasury of billions in tax revenues; all to benefit off-shore interests and tax-havened companies at the height of a property-busted recession.

"Edelman's client, CapCo, has blown £40 million on this futile enterprise, so I wasn't surprised their Directors were too ashamed to come out. I was delighted we so spectacularly embarrassed Edelman, a company that employs 4,500 people in 66 offices worldwide. I can't understand how they reconcile their stated positions with their client accounts. So much for Patriotism, Localism and the Big Society!"
We heard last week that our Council has effectively accepted that it has run out of time to force the Shepherd's Bush Market scheme through before the next local elections; residents up the road in West Ken will be hoping they can push their own battle over that line too, before crossing their fingers before polling day.

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