Prime Minister faces final Big Society test: Will he let his favourite Council bulldoze our community?

At 7pm on the 3rd and 12th of September 2012, Hammersmith & Fulham Council intends to agree the sale and demolition of our homes against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of residents.

The Cabinet meeting on 3 September is for the Council to decide as landlord whether to sell the West Kensington & Gibbs Green estates to developer CapCo for demolition as part of the £8 Billion scheme to demolish Earl’s Court. The Planning Applications Committee on 12 September is for the Council to decide as planning authority whether to approve the whole scheme – demolition of the Exhibition Centres, the Lillie Bridge rail depot and West Kensington & Gibbs Green.

Once it has made its decisions, the Council intends, in March 2013, to apply to the Government for consent to sell off our estates, and our MP, Andy Slaughter, shall insist that the Government reviews any planning permission. We shall lobby the Government to refuse consent for the sale of our homes and to throw out planning permission to demolish our community. We expect the Government to help us implement the Big Society.

The Prime Minister promised power to the people, but now it turns out that it is he who shall determine the future of our community

Three times since 2009, we have proved methodically that we are overwhelmingly against demolition and in favour of community control. But the local state rode roughshod over our needs and wishes to impose the very type of speculative property development that ruined the national economy. According to the former Leader Stephen Greenhalgh, who’s now in charge of the Metropolitan Police, the Council’s motivation is to obtain party electoral advantage by driving poor people out of politically marginal areas.

We championed the Prime Minister’s goal for a more responsible local society, where communities take control of their assets and greater charge of their neighbours’ welfare. We pioneered cross-party localist policy for council estate communities to own their homes, mobilising residents to determine their future so they can contribute socially and economically to national recovery. We stood up for the economic powerhouse of Earl’s Court, a goose that lays golden eggs for this country’s culture and prosperity.

Gibbs Green, Dieppe Close and the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centres

What will the Government do next year when the Council applies for consent to dispose of our homes? Will the Prime Minister champion his Big Society by refusing the sale and demolition of the People’s Estates? Will he empower us to take charge, or will he impose the politicians and property and financial speculators on us? We don’t want to see him in the driving seat of the bulldozer that destroys our community and removes the last shred of credibility from his most heartfelt belief!

Sally Taylor and Diana Belshaw, Chairs of the two residents associations, said:

We remain true to the principles of the Big Society, and we stand firm by our belief that local people should take greater charge of where they live so they can exercise more responsibility for their environment and assume better care of their neighbours. We occupy the ground; these are our homes; and we shall restore ownership to the local community. Politicians and profiteers may come and go, but we the people shall never surrender.

Aisgill Avenue on the West Kensington Estate

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