MP 'forcibly ejected' from Earl's Court estates meeting
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development, Local Government
MP 'forcibly ejected' from council meeting on massive regeneration scheme
A Labour MP claims he was forcibly ejected from a council meeting after he tried to discuss issues surrounding the redevelopment of the Earl's Court area.
Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, was in attendance at the meeting on 3 September with around 100 residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates to object to the planned demolition of their homes.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has now approved a massive regeneration scheme for the area.
Mr Slaughter said: "Before the one-Party committee made the decision to sell the land to CapCo – a multi-national developer which wishes to replace the affordable houses and low-rise flats with 30-storey luxury blocks - I asked if I could address them for five minutes. Fifteen seconds for each year I have represented the area as councillor or MP.
"The Council Leader, who was chairing the meeting, shouted me down, then ordered the Cabinet to leave the room. At this point two very large gentlemen stood either side of me and ordered me to leave. They also ordered the public to stop tweeting or using their mobile ‘phones."
Mr Slaughter said that had he been granted his five minutes, he would have pointed out that: "The residents of the two estates, a mixture of council tenants, leaseholders, freeholders, housing association and private tenants – in other words the model of a mixed community – voted three times against demolition, most recently by a majority of 4 to 1. This is virtually ignored or misrepresented in the Council’s report.
"The economic justification for the £8 billion scheme says no more than that replacing low-rise affordable homes with high-rise luxury flats will add to the value of the land. A statement so fatuous as to defy belief. This could justify the demolition of almost any neighbourhood in London.
"The companies advising the Council on the merits of the sale – principally Jones Lang LaSalle and Price Waterhouse Coopers – are the same firms advising the purchaser. Challenged on this the Council’s defence is that these companies have a virtual monopoly in their field."
The council's official report of the meeting makes no mention of Mr Slaughter or his ejection. Its website says that the proposal for the redevelopment was approved at the meeting, and claims that if planning permission is granted, £1bn worth of community benefits will be felt which will create 9,500 jobs and 8,000 new homes.
Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: “This major regeneration could lead the way in lifting the country out of recession – ploughing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into London’s economy and bringing thousands of new homes and jobs.
“We have said all along that the major beneficiaries of this investment have to be the residents living on West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, followed by the wider area, the borough and London as a whole.
“We have made this decision after weighing up all arguments, looking at the economic studies and the views of our residents. We know that many people living on the estates want new homes, while many other people have concerns. If the CLSA is signed we will continue to listen to people and do our very best to address those concerns.”
H&F Council has denied Mr Slaughter's version of events. In a statement, Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of the Council, said: “Opposition Members were given unlimited time to ask questions. However, the MP attempted to disrupt the meeting in an inappropriate manner.
“The MP was not forcibly removed and he remained in his seat throughout the duration of Cabinet.
“This meeting was for elected councillors to make a decision on whether to include the two estates in this scheme.
“Members of the public, including the local MP have had numerous opportunities over several years, to have their say on the proposed regeneration of Earls Court and the surrounding area.”
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