RESIDENTS SAY NO BY THREE AND A HALF TO ONE
The Chairs of the three associations representing West Kensington & Gibbs Green residents have challenged Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh to come clean on the results of a recent consultation exercise.
The consultation asked residents whether they agreed the Council should sell 760 homes on their council estates to CapCo for demolition. The developer is proposing to demolish Earl’s Court as part of an £8 billion scheme to build 7,500 flats in blocks up to 30 storeys high, mostly luxury flats for sale.
According to the Council’s own analysis, 67.7% of estate households responded to the consultation. 72.5% of residents who responded said “no” to the sale of their homes for demolition, with 21.7% reported to be in favour.
However, the Council went to extraordinary lengths to hide this result. It analysed some results seemingly favourable to sale and demolition, but failed, for example, to present the results showing almost 100% opposition from housing association tenants and freeholders.
Amazingly, the Council did not report at all the totals and percentages for how people voted on the estates (see table below where we have added these as the last two columns), which show an overwhelming majority (despite 189 responses being excluded) of 72.5% versus 21.7% against demolition.
Instead, the Council emphasized that 36.8% of secure tenants objected versus 17.5%, turning a three and a half to one majority into a two to one majority against demolition.
To cap it all, Councillor Greenhalgh stated:
“We recognise that while some people on the estates are clearly in favour, many more have concerns. Yet it is clear that the majority of people living on the estates have yet to tell us either way or simply do not know.”
Given that the 67.7% turnout result for the consultation is the only percentage total provided by the Council for the estates (H&F Council Cabinet report 20 April, Appendix 5 page 3 here), it is remarkable that Councillor Greenhalgh should infer that 32.3% of the population represents a majority.
Sally Taylor, Chair of West Kensington Tenants & Residents Association, and Diana Belshaw, Chair of Gibbs Green Tenants & Residents Association, said:
We are not surprised by the true results, since residents from over 80% of households said “no” to demolition in the petition we collected in December 2009. Councillor Greenhalgh should face the facts, admit when he’s beaten, and cancel the sale and demolition of our homes. Otherwise, let’s have a proper vote with an independent scrutineer who won’t hide the truth.
Shirley Wiggins, Chair of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes Limited, (the Registered Company established by residents to transfer the estates into community ownership) said:
“Over 600 residents from two thirds of households are members of the Company we’ve set up to take over our homes. We look forward to working closely with Housing Minister Grant Shapps to pioneer the new Right to Transfer and to prove that he is right to champion community empowerment.”
Left to Right: Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration, Melbourne Barrett (holding the WK&GGCHL response), Shirley Wiggins, Chair of West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes Limited (holding over 650 resident responses) and WKGGCH Board member Rita Vlahopoulou.
To read Dave Hill’s article in the Guardian from 22 March 2012, “London council tenants in way of Earl’s Court building project hit back”, click here.