Friday 23 March 2012

Daryl Brown's Speech Defending Residents' Right To Vote On Plans To Demolish Their Homes

North End ward's
Cllr. Daryl Brown (Lab)
Last Monday night all the Borough’s councillors attended an Extraordinary Full Council Meeting. We had been called there to consider, debate and then vote on the hastily prepared Supplementary Planning Document for the Earls Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area.

My fellow Labour councillors and I moved a proposal that the Council should “carry out a ballot of tenants and leaseholders on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, organised by the Electoral Reform Society, to ascertain if they are supportive of the adoption of the SPD and if a majority who vote are in favour.”

That was voted down by the large Conservative majority which included the two Conservative North End ward councillors. They then voted the SPD through which will make it easier for them to demolish residents' homes.

Cllr. Daryl Brown, Labour’s representative for North End, spoke movingly in favour of the Opposition’s proposal. Here’s her speech:  

"This evening, I am speaking on behalf of the residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estate. Residents who are proud of their community, love their homes and care about their neighbourhood. Residents who are living in hope that their voices will be heard.

Walk around the estate on a sunny day and you will see children playing, neighbours chatting and witness a thriving community. So far this community has not been convinced that the Council’s plans are anything but a threat to their homes. That’s an astonishing fact considering that the Administration has spent thousands of pounds selling their ideas via glossy leaflets and personalised letters. They even set up and funded a shadow residents association but still the Council is not believed.

If you listen to people and get past all the emotional issues of moving home and deal with all the concerns of breaking up a strong and resilient community the fact is the deal that the Council says it’s negotiated is bad for those residents. Get past the small print and there are no real guarantees.
  • There are concerns that the developer does not have the financial capability to deliver the scheme
  • There are concerns that there is no guarantees that the numbers of replacement homes will be built
  • There are concerns that CapCo are deciding who gets the few replacement homes on the new developments
  • There are concerns that the Council has sold the tenants' homes and is giving away their rights for £100 million
  • And there are concerns that the Council is so frightened of what residents have uncovered they are breaking a Borough precedent and actually refusing to give a democratic vote on their demolition plans.
Now, although the SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) refers to “regeneration” of the estates, it is clear that redevelopment is the proposal here. Regeneration and redevelopment are not the same things. Regeneration is genuinely regenerative. It improves and adds to the good things that are already there.

Look at the strength of this community. Look at the intelligence of their campaign and the precision of their arguments. Just a brief look informs the most bigoted snob and the most ignorant officials but you have to take the blinkers off first. There is much that is good about the neighbours, friends and fellow residents who live on the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates. How does this plan do anything other than throw that away?

This proposal is a simple proposal. It’s about re-development. But the most negative, threatening type of re-development. Like a drunken thug threatening to re-develop your face. No wonder you’ve so far run scared of giving residents a vote on this scheme. But it’s not too late. You can repent and do the right thing. You can demonstrate the strength of your beliefs and put this to a vote.

That’s what you would do if this was a different, richer group of residents - like those in say, Parson’s Green. So why not those residents who live in West Ken and Gibbs Green?

Give them the vote...
Give them the vote!

That cry is as old as democracy is in these islands. So, give my constituents the vote. Prove that you have the strength of your convictions and let the people decide.
Thank you."

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