Saudis offer talks: Postcards from Mayfair

His Royal Highness, Prince Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud (above), the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, has offered to meet with us and our MP, Andy Slaughter, to discuss the contents of the letter we sent to His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud (below), Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund.

“Your Royal Highness

West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates, London, United Kingdom

West Ken Gibbs Green Community Homes (WKGGCH) represents the residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, which occupy 25 acres of land in West London.

I understand that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) is part of a consortium led by Candy Ventures which is considering a takeover bid for Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco).

Capco’s Earl’s Court assets include a contract, the Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA), for the redevelopment of 760 homes. Our homes.

We are a proud community of 2,000 men, women and children. For the past decade we have fiercely defended ourselves from eviction and protected our estates from demolition.

Our film, The Fight for The People’s Estates, tells our story. I would be most grateful if you could please watch it.

The extant permission for the redevelopment of Earl’s Court and our estates is unimplementable. So too is the CLSA.

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Mayor of London will not grant new permissions for any development which includes our estates.

We shall not be forced out of our homes; we shall transfer them into community ownership.

Please work with us to achieve our objectives. I invite you or your representative to visit our estates.

I am copying this letter to the PIF Board Members and Executives, Candy Ventures, Capco, Deutsche Bank, and our Member of Parliament, Andy Slaughter.

Yours sincerely

Keith Drew, Chair WKGGCH”

Postcards from Mayfair

WKGGCH Chair, Keith Drew, armed with our letters to the Ambassador and to His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, Chairman of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Mayfair, London.

The Ambassador’s Office had told our MP: “the Head of Security has been informed to tell his staff to accept the letters from your constituents and these will then be passed to the Ambassador’s Office”.

What could possibly go wrong?

All we could find was a lone Gurkha patrolling the front. He knew nothing about it.

We headed round the back . . .

. . . where Linda Sanders, WKGGCH’s Company Secretary, was already deep in negotiations with the Saudis to let us into their Embassy to deliver our letters.

Julia, centre, wielded an extra-large version of our letter to the Crown Prince.

The Saudis wouldn’t let us in. But nor would they come out to accept our letters.

Round the front, the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Branch of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Operations Directorate arrived on the scene.

They read the letter from the Ambassador’s Office to our MP, Andy Slaughter, which had authorised the Embassy to accept our letters.

To break the deadlock, we authorised the male Officer, who asked not to be photographed, to take over our negotiations with the Saudis for them to accept our letters.

He went in. Armed.

Then he came out.

He confirmed that the Saudis would not come out. Nor would they let us in. But they would let him in to deliver the letters on our behalf.

We agreed. He went in again. This time, fully armed.

Meanwhile, the female Officer, centre, stayed outside, flanked by Maria, left, and Linda, right.

Once the male Officer had come back out of the Embassy again, and reported the letters safely delivered, we thanked the Police,

and headed home.

On the way, we dropped off a copy to Nick Candy, whose company, Candy Ventures is fronting the takeover consortium with Saudi Arabia.

We are grateful to the Ambassador’s Office for confirming: “We will show His Royal Highness the letters when he returns from the Kingdom”.

We look forward to meeting with His Royal Highness, the Ambassador, as soon as possible.

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