Tag Archives: West Kensington Estate

H&F Tories: A Sad Embittered Bunch Of Losers

When the Tories lost Hammersmith and Fulham a fortnight ago, instead of reflecting on what they did wrong, they entered into an immediate funk of bitchiness and self-delusion. The Guardian’s Dave Hill points out the Tories lack of grace, citing Greg Hands’ bitter tweet that was posted within minutes of their defeat. Hill also quotes the former cabinet member for housing, Andrew Johnson, who tweeted:

Await with interest what LBHF’s new housing policies will be under Labour. Last time they gave council house to Abu Hamza’s family for life.

Bitchy. No?

Hill writes:

[Greg] Smith has retweeted an expression of amazement that H&F residents “have voted to increase their council tax”, while at Conservative Home the Famous Harry Phibbs has attributed his party’s defeat in part to Labour’s picking up more disaffected Liberal Democrats, describing these as likely to be “public sector Guardianistas”. Harry! How impolite!

That’s not the biggest reason the Famous Harry gives – like many fellow H&F Tories he says Labour misrepresented government plans for Charing Cross hospital and unfairly profited accordingly. He also points to a national swing towards Labour. But while it’s easy to understand why H&F Tories are sore, perhaps they should look a little harder at themselves for reasons why they came so badly unstuck.

Such is their arrogance, that they have spent the last fortnight whining about how Labour is going to “trash” the borough. There is no palpable sense of irony on display here. In the eight years that the Tories controlled Hammersmith and Fulham, they presided over a massive, to use their word, “trashing” of the borough. Examples of this trashing include: threatening the tenants of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates with eviction, because they wanted to build luxury flats on the land they hoped to flatten around Earl’s Court. The selling off of the Irish Centre, The Shepherds Bush Village Hall and the eviction of 22 groups from Palingswick House to make way for Toby Young’s West London Free School. Tobes’s free school has already lost three headteachers in as many years. Then there was The Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, which the Conservatives decided they’d close and hand over to a free school.

Here are some of the tweets I found on Andrew Johnson’s timeline. This one claims:

Headbanger JohnsonJohnson believes, as does the rest of his party, that all the Tories need to do is offer people the right to part buy their council homes and they’ll come flocking back. This is nothing less than self-delusion. Johnson even wants to extend Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, but hang on, wasn’t this done when Nu Labour were in power? None of the Housing Association properties that were sold were replaced. What HAs like Peabody did instead was to build new properties to buy or part buy and ignore those who can’t afford to buy.

Here Johnson, who lost his Fulham Reach seat along with the insufferable bully and chinless wonder, Peter Graham, claims that the new Labour ruling group is not committed to providing homes for local people. Yet, when his party was in power, they joined with developers like St George to build flats for overseas investors. Johnson’s words  ring rather hollow.

Headbanger Johnson1

Phoghorn Phibbs produces perhaps the most chilling statement in the title of his blog at Conservative Home. It reads like a line from The Terminator:

The Conservatives will be back in Hammersmith and Fulham

I really hope that never happens again. Phibbs complains that Labour didn’t fight the Tories on their “record”. That record, as if you didn’t know by now, dear readers, included selling off council flats at inflated prices, denying shelter to a heavily pregnant woman who was forced to sleep on a bench in a local park, and lying about the proposed downgrading of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals (according to the Tories,  a GP-led clinic is the same as an Accident and Emergency department). On balance, I think not only did Labour fight the Tories on their dismal record, but the voters had also had enough of the Tories’ autocratic style of leadership and  decided to vote them out.

The Conservative’s loss means a change at the top. Greg Smith, member of the Young Britons’ Foundation (The so-called Conservative madrasah) has now been elected to replace the Nick Botterill as the leader of the Tory group. Botterill, himself, had been elected to replace Stephen ‘Decent Neighbourhoods’ Greenhalgh in 2012 when the latter was appointed by Bozza to become the Deputy Mayor for Policing – a job he’s done rather poorly in my view.  Curiously, Botterill’s Twitter timeline has been quiet since 15 April.

Gruntin Greg Smith1Mark Loveday, the new Tory chief whip, is also a member of YBF and is, according to the Tanfield Chambers website, a barrister who specializes in “property litigation”. So when the Tories sold off land and council properties that weren’t supposed to be sold off, it was his job to find loopholes and create legal blocks to any attempts to reverse their reckless planning decisions. Lucy Ivimy, who was once accused of racism when she accused “immigrants” of throwing litter out of tower block windows, becomes Smudger’s deputy.

I also found these tweets on Smith’s timeline. Notice how the first tweet suggests that Labour will “deprive h&f of 7500 new homes”. What he doesn’t dare tell you is that these homes were for rich first time buyers and foreign investors. The lack of honesty from these Tories is as breathtaking as their arrogance and ruthlessness. The threatened demolition of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates was perhaps the most blatant attempt at gerrymandering a ward since the Homes for Votes scandal in the 1980s. Shirley Porter, it could be argued, was H&F Tories’ patron saint.

Gruntin Greg SmithIt’s no surprise that Smith, a truly nasty piece of work, would retweet the dismal, Thatcher-worshipping, rent-a-gob, Katie Hopkins. What Hopkins and her admirer refuse to recognise is how Right to Buy contributed to the current housing crisis. Their solution to the housing crisis is, in effect, no solution.

Hammersmith and Fulham’s residents are relieved that the most ruthless Tory council in living memory has been shown the door. But the Tories refuse to learn any lessons from their defeat and seek to apportion blame elsewhere. The defeat of this flagship Tory council is perhaps an indication of what could happen in next year’s General Election. Tory Hammersmith and Fulham was, for all intents and purposes, the Tory-led government in microcosm.

I wish the new Labour administration all the best as they try to reverse the Tories’ disastrous policies in the borough.  In four years time, let’s hope more Conservative councillors find themselves out of a job.

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Nightmare On King Street (Part 19)

 

I’ve just had a load of Tory election literature shoved through my letter box. The Tories don’t knock on doors and talk to anyone. They know better. They know that no one on my estate wants to talk to them. But I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to take down their feeble arguments. I wanted to grill them on the lack of decent, affordable rented accommodation in the borough.  I wanted to grill them on the question of Sulivan School and the proposed demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates. I wanted to ask them why they supported the closure of Charing Cross Hospital, while at the same time denying it. I wanted to ask them about their stealth taxes. But they’re like kids who knock on the door and run away. They’re so damned quick: when you open your door to give them a piece of your mind, they’re half way down the street, sticking two fingers up to you.

H&F Conservatives Mr. Grim Reaper

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Tories took great offence to this image. Good.

One of the bits of paper shoved through my door was a letter. This letter has the words “IMPORTANT UPDATE ON CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL”. This is not so much an update as it is a lie that’s been painted in large dayglo blue letters. “Obviously there will be major changes” the letter tells me. Yes, the changes that were forced upon Charing Cross Hospital by the Tory-led coalition involve demolishing the hospital and handing the site over to private developers like St George, who will then build luxury flats for foreign investors. In the letter the Tories have said nothing about the lack of beds and the loss of the stroke unit – the same stroke unit that saved Andrew Marr’s life. The borough’s Tories support the government. Why wouldn’t they?

The letter then goes on to say “Whether you agree or disagree with these NHS plans, they aren’t something that local councillors can change. H&F council has no powers over the NHS, nor does it own the land”. Well, that simply isn’t true and the subtext of this statement is “we don’t care”. Campaigners saved Lewisham Hospital from closure. We can do the same with Charing Cross Hospital. The word ‘defeat’ is absent from our lexicon.

The letter also claims the local Labour Party is “scaremongering”. It goes on to accuse Labour of “desperation” adding “Labour can’t win the Council Elections by talking about what the Council actually does”.  Like what? Selling off land to developers? Charging residents for training in the borough’s parks? Increased charges for its leisure facilities? Their letter talks of “cleaner streets”. Really? Where? It talks about “more and better schools”. What about Sulivan School which the Council wants to close and sell to an independent school? Funny how the letter doesn’t mention that. It boasts about “affordable homes to buy”. What does “affordable” actually mean? Yes, these homes will be “affordable” but only for those whose economic capital is provided by daddy’s trust fund or a rentier’s income. What about homes to rent? This Council is actually reviving the disastrous Right to Buy scheme, which caused the housing crisis in the first place. It actually wants to sell off and demolish its council housing because it doesn’t like the people who live in their properties. They don’t come from the right social class, you see. They don’t have names like Jocasta, Jemima, Rupert and Nigel.

In the eight years that they’ve been running the Council, the Tories have shown time and again that, in spite of their slogan “Residents First”, they are only interested in putting the interests of their rich mates first. When the Tories assumed control of the Council, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader, wanted to create a borough that attracted the rich. In order to “attract the rich”, he and his fellow Tories had to expel the poor and those on low incomes. This is called gerrymandering and if you look at the numbers of units at Fulham Reach for example, there isn’t a single property in that development that is available for those on low incomes to rent. The people who will live in those properties will doubtlessly vote Tory.

So, Azi Ahmed, Jackie Borland and Jamie McKittrick, I won’t be voting for you. And I’ll also tell you this: I’m not interested in council candidates who only work for themselves and in the interests of their rich chums. That pretty much excludes your party.

Kick out the Tories! Use your vote wisely.

 

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 14)

Yesterday, as I was looking at my Twitter timeline, I saw this tweet from H&F Council’s propaganda department,

H&F propaganda1

So I followed the link to this article on the Council’s website. I will quote the first two paragraphs,

A judge has thrown out a legal challenge that threatened £1billion worth of community benefits to North Fulham and Earls Court, describing it as ‘absurd’.

West Kensington Estate resident Harold Greatwood, applied to court to launch a judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council’s decision to enter into a Conditional Land Sale Agreement with EC Properties to include the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates in the wider regeneration of Earls Court.

Gloating? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Finding that the challenge to the Council’s consultation was “not reasonably arguable”, Mr Justice Mitting said: “The analysis of the consultation responses put to cabinet on 23 April 2012 and 3 September 2012 was balanced and fair. The suggestion that the results of the consultation were hidden is unwarranted”. He went on to say that “The time for the consultation - nine weeks – was adequate” and that “The suggestion that because the defendant did not address the consultation documents to tenants by name or to the ‘tenant’, the process was flawed, is absurd.”

Justice? Justice only exists for those who can afford to pay for it. As for justice being “blind”, that’s another myth. Judges are ideological too. I suspect the Council has a dedicated legal team whose job is to deal with this and other property and land deals.

I saw another tweet on H&F Council’s Twitter timeline.

H&F tweet

This isn’t riding roughshod over the majority of the tenant’s wishes, it’s getting into a steamroller, putting a brick onto the accelerator pedal and running over the tenants again and again. I clicked on the link.

There’s a quote from Council Leader, Nicholas Botterill.

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, Leader of H&F Council, said: “We believe that the residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country. They will only have to move when their new home is ready to be occupied. That new home will be the same area as they are already living in. People will be compensated and we will keep support groups and neighbours together.

Whoa! Hang on! Botterill says, “The residents living on the estates have negotiated the best deal of any regeneration scheme in the country”. Which “residents” are these? Not the residents who oppose this development and he can only mean the astroturf group of residents that was set up by the Council to give the impression of a consensus for the redevelopment project. It’s an old PR con trick that Edward Bernays would have admired.

Here’s some more,

“Residents, their current and future children will be living in an even better, safer neighbourhood environment with access to new leisure and community facilities. Most of all local people will benefit from the thousands of new job opportunities that will be created”.

“Local people”, says Botterill. Most of those “local people” will be forced out of their homes to make way for the affluent and those who will take, at face value, the words of the developer and the vendors who will sell shoebox properties that have a luxury price tag on them.

At the end of the article, which was quite possibly written by the Council’s propaganda minister, Harry Phibbs, it asks,

What happens next?

  • Hammersmith & Fulham Council will make an application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  for consent for the transfer of the estates to EC Properties. This is likely to be considered in March.
  • When the Section 106 agreement with the developer is firmed up, the Planning Authority will refer the planning application to the Mayor of London, while the Secretary of State also has the discretion to call it in.

The Secretary of State, the immensely rotund Eric Pickles, is already on board and so is Emperor Bozza. It looks like a done deal… or is it? The Council, in its arrogance, believes that it can do no wrong. We’ll see.

The former Council Leader, Stephen Greenhalgh, is facing a criminal investigation over the alleged “VIP list” where tenants who signed up to support the redevelopment were promised preferential treatment. If this investigation goes ahead, I expect other councillors and council officials to face charges. For all the Council’s gloating, the VIP list could come back to bite them. The Council and Greenhalgh deny any wrongdoing.

Funnily enough, when I click on any link on the pages I’ve linked to, I get the following message,

http://www.lbhf.gov.uk is unavailable or may not exist.

Amusing. No?

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 10)

Breathtaking stuff from Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Chief Executive, Derek Myers, who has thrown his toys out of the pram over the ongoing Earls Court ‘redevelopment’ saga. Myers is also Chief Exec of Tory-controlled Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea (okay, yah?).

Anyway, this is from Shepherds Bush Blog,

An extraordinary letter. I have never seen a Chief Executive of a local authority feel the need to write or send anything like the letter which you can view here, passed to me by the residents campaigning to save their homes from the property developers demolition ball.

Derek Myers, now joint Chief Executive of H&F and overseeing services across the new three borough giant of H&F, K&C and Westminster, took the allegations made by the residents of willful obstruction and bad faith on the part of our Council so seriously that he responded to each and every one in detail, rejecting each.

You may remember the Council sought to restrict access to response forms that had been submitted, even though the personal information had been redacted, on the grounds of “data protection.” Apparently 45 minutes access was enough to “protect data” but any more was not. Perhaps realising this is a bit silly Mr Myers now accepts that the residents can have as long as they like but in the main he absolutely refutes their allegations of bad faith.

The question that Nowhere Towers would like to ask is “does he get a salary from each of the three authorities or does he get an inflation-busting super salary with a sizeable ‘performance-related’ bonus on top”?

There’s also an amusing Twitter exchange between Chris Underwood and Peter ‘Tory Boy’ Graham.

You can read the rest here.

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Nightmare on King Street (Part 7)

The Cowan Report and HFConwatch both report that the Kwok brothers, who are involved in the massive CapCo project to destroy the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates under the aegis of the Earl’s Court redevelopment, have been arrested for corruption.

What does this mean for our slash and burn Tories? More importantly, will this spell the end of their cherished project? Watch this space!

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Hammersmith & Fulham: regeneration blues

This week I heard that Hammersmith & Fulham  Council approved a £15m exclusivity deal with CapCo,  whose bid to ‘regenerate’  West Kensington and Earl’s Court has faced enormous local opposition. Shepherds Bush blog reports that the Council had bussed in supporters to give the impression that most residents supported their plans.

But the real story of the night, as I predicted here, was their use of our money to bus in and co-ordinate a small group of residents who themselves seemed very confused about why they were there.

So council tax money was used to pervert the democratic process? Am I reading this correctly? This reminds me of a US right wing organisation called Protest Warrior, who specialise in disrupting anti-war demonstrations and who also act as agents provocateurs.  However it appears that those pro-Council protesters weren’t actually aware of what they were involved in. The Lib Dems Paul Kennedy is quoted to have said,

the small group of pro-development campaigners in white “Yes to the Future” T-shirts seemed confused: “Several of them told us they were campaigning to save their homes, so we thought for a while they must be campaigning against the development. They didn’t seem to realise that they were being used for propaganda by the Council and developers who want to demolish their homes.”

This kind of manipulation is reminiscent of the tactics used by authoritarian regimes to give an impression of consensus.

I found this on the H&F Conservatives blog, the misleadingly titled “Residents First”

This year Edward Glaeser has come out with a brilliant book called “Triumph of the City” which shows how cities are the engines of the economy, innovation and social mobility. Glaeser argues that urban density is far more preferable to suburban sprawl and that cities need to grow: “Urban density provides the clearest path from poverty to prosperity…..Growth keeps space affordable and ensures that people on low incomes and less profitable firms can stay which helps cities remain successful and diverse.” So we are going for growth in our 3 opportunity areas. London’s economic heart is clearly the two cities of Westminster and London and its lung to the east is currently being built along the Thames Gateway. We want to create a second lung to the west along the West London Line:

-          Earls Court: 7,500 new homes, 8,000 new jobs and brand new homes for all the residents on our two estates

-          White City: 4,500 new homes and 10,000 new jobs

-          Old Oak: 10,000 new homes and 20,000 new jobs

First, and this is stating the obvious, in advanced industrial economies, cities are always “engines of the economy”. But the author seems to feel that this is some kind of earth-shattering statement; an original idea. Second, I have some concerns about these “jobs” that they are talking about. What kind of jobs will be on offer? I suspect that the jobs that the council is talking about are low-waged service sector jobs. As for homes, these will be of the ‘mixed’ variety. In other words, most of them will be for sale and a small proportion will be let at market rents.

The Council is also at odds with the faux libertarianism that underpins Cameron’s much-vaunted Big Society figment. This is from Inside Housing

The backdoor move by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to try and use its political connections with Ministers to get the Government to deprive us of our legal Right to Transfer is, we believe, an abortive abuse of power. Were it to succeed, it would not only emasculate S34A, it would expose the Big Society and Localism as unfair – fine for wealthier communities in rural areas, yet denied to poorer communities in urban areas. Worse still, it would preserve the untrammelled power of the local state to ride roughshod over local communities, exposing the Localism Bill as a fig leaf for all that’s gone before.

This leads me neatly on to Greenhalgh’s connections to the government. Having been to Cambridge with many members of the current government, and being a close chum of  London mayor Emperor Boris Johnson,  Greenhalgh believes that he has the power to influence ministers decisions. In a speech he made in 2009, he said,

‘My mates are all in the shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those [ministerial] boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university with them, they haven’t run a piss-up in a brewery’

On this occasion he wasn’t being kind to his fellow Tories. This blog tells us how he tried to enlist the help of the government in scuppering the plans of West Ken and Gibbs Green residents dreams of a stock transfer.  He wrote this to the Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark.

“The new power still appears to place too much emphasis on the ability of existing tenants’ groups to manage a stock transfer and too little on whether such a transfer is better for the whole community in the longer term… Although you indicate that representations can be made, the burden of argument still falls on the council bringing uncertainty for potential development partners and unnecessary delay. Instead of this we need a clear statement in the regulations that stock transfer to existing tenants would not be approved in regeneration and opportunity areas”.

To close he added his own hand-penned coda: “PS. I really need your help on this!”

The very thing that the government seeks to promote – the empowerment of local groups and communities – is being systematically undermined for political purposes, namely the demographic realignment of certain wards in the borough. However, it doesn’t appear as though Clark is going to give in. His reply,

When considering a transfer the secretary of state will take account of all relevant considerations, which would include regeneration schemes for the wider area, and these considerations would have to be looked at in the context of the proposed transfer.

Far from being democratic, the Tory group on the council is trying to find the means – any means -  to circumvent the democratic process. If this means hiring a team of actors in clown costumes to pretend they are local residents, then they will probably do that too.  Nothing this bunch does would surprise me.

You can read the full text of Greenhalgh’s letter to Greg Clark here.

The poster that was produced by the Council can be seen here. What I find interesting about the poster is the way the word “Yes” appears to be handwritten.

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It’s as though Shirley Porter and the 1980s never went away

Shirley Porter: she still hasn’t paid up

It was 1986, the Tories had narrowly won Westminster City Council in the local elections. I know, it’s hard to believe it but that’s what happened. Labour did well by narrowly winning a three seats and the SDP (spits) were a major threat to the Tories in another couple of seats. To prevent this from ever happening again, Porter and her council colleagues devised a plan to gerrymander  marginal wards and those wards that had gone to Labour. The plan, euphemistically titled “Building Stable Communities”, was to sell off properties when tenants vacated them. The council also removed many homeless voters from the borough because they were less likely to vote Conservative.

Porter also sold off 3 cemeteries for 5p each. The Council bought them back in 2006.

Across the Thames in Wandsworth there was similar picture. Wandsworth under the leadership of Paul Beresford,was accused of  illegally selling off void properties in tower blocks that were located in marginal wards.

The district auditor’s inquiry found “a relatively high correlation” between housing expenditure and the five most marginal wards in Wandsworth between 1987-88 and 1990-91 – the period when the Conservatives turned a one-seat majority into one of 35 in the 1990 local authority elections.

Beresford escaped punishment but the District Auditor  found Porter guilty of wilful misconduct. Porter, her deputy David Weeks, one other councillor and a few council officials were made jointly liable for repaying £36m. However Porter was liable for the lion’s share of the sum and along with surcharges and interest, she owed around £37m. She filed a series of unsuccessful appeals but she fled the country and later resurfaced in Israel.

From the relative safety of Israel, she transferred the majority of her assets to her son.

She then claimed her wealth extended to just £300,000, though estimates put her fortune at £69m. The council failed to pursue her. But a subsequent investigation proved she moved millions of pounds to her son via a complex web of companies.

In 2004, she and the council agreed she would pay £12.3m, but Labour councillors at Westminster have pressed district auditor Les Kidner to reopen the case in a bid to force her to pay up the full fine. Councillors are aghast that investigators failed to spot the Porter family connection with Telos.

Porter lives in Westminster in a £1.5m property but is still at large.

Fast forward to the present day. Westminster City Council is still run by the Tories and council housing and homelessness are back in the headlines.  In March of this year, the council proposed to ban night-time soup kitchens for the homeless. They claimed, without any evidence to support their assertions, that soup kitchens and the like are responsible for perpetuating homelessness. Conservative Angela Harvey said,

“When you see 50 to 80 people waiting for a soup run, they are not homeless people by and large.

“The majority will not be rough sleepers… you see them going off with large carrier bags stuffed full of food which is for them and their house mates. We know they are in work and housed.”

But she and the Council has failed to provide evidence for his wild assertion that people who are not homeless simply “take advantage” of soup kitchens. It’s a tall tale.

Westminster also wants increased powers  to raise council rents. They propose to increase rent in line with any increase in a tenant’s income. Yesterday, Tory Philippa Roe told the BBC that, “we (the Council) think that it would be fair for those households to pay a little bit more so we can recycle that money, either to help the most vulnerable families or to keep rents down for vulnerable people on low, fixed incomes”.  Notice how the word “vulnerable” is being used here to suggest that council housing is a form of welfare. It is not. The Council claims that there are around 2000 people living in council housing that are earning more than £50,000 a year. Councils don’t know how much their tenants earn unless they’re claiming Housing Benefit, so it’s difficult to see where Westminster gets its figures from. I suspect that the figure is entirely made up. The Labour group leader, Paul Dimoldenberg told Inside Housing,

‘Putting up rents is just another way for the Conservatives to increase taxes for middle earners and will push many hard-working residents out of Westminster.

‘Why are they attacking hard-working residents, the backbone of the community?’

Travel through the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and you come to Hammersmith & Fulham, where the council has proposed to demolish hundreds of homes on the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates to make way for a new development that will include ‘affordable housing’. This ‘regeneration’ scheme forms part of the Earl’s Court redevelopment. They have also proposed to demolish the White City and Queen Caroline Estates. H&F council call their plan for council homes demolition “Decent Neighbourhoods”. The programme was detailed in the unresearched report titled “Principles for Social Housing Reform”.

It’s as though Shirley Porter and the 1980s never went away.

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Greenhalgh tries to scupper tenant’s plans in West Kensington

I found this interesting blog from the Guardian’s  Dave Hill. Recently the residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green have been trying to apply for a stock transfer, which would thwart LBHF’s attempt to demolish their homes in the proposed redevelopment of the area around the Earl’s Court exhibition centre.

Earls Court redevelopment: Stephen Greenhalgh asks for ‘wider benefit tests’ to limit tenants’ power

From Inside Housing:

A flagship Conservative council has asked ministers to water down proposals to give tenants the right to take over the ownership of their estates, so that a major redevelopment project can go ahead.

You’ll have guessed that said flagship is Hammersmith and Fulham and that the “major redevelopment project” is the Earls Court project – the one that will involve the demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates unless residents groups are able to make use of that proposed right to take ownership by way of a “stock transfer” under Section 34A of the 1985 Housing Act. I’ve written about the saga here, here and elsewhere.

Section 34A was introduced by the last government, but did not come into force because the necessary accompanying regulations were not put in place. The present government intends to complete the job in line with its localism agenda. Inside Housing continues:

A response to a request from Inside Housing under the Freedom of Information Act revealed Stephen Greenhalgh, council leader at Hammersmith & Fulham, emailed CLG ministers Greg Clark and Grant Shapps in January to ask that tests be applied before tenant-led transfers are approved in regeneration areas.

The email read: “We believe it is wrong to allow regulations on stock transfer to apply without these wider benefit tests in these ‘opportunity areas’ as an unintended consequence could be to impede regeneration in those very areas already defined as needing major economic growths, jobs and homes.”

Read on

On another, related note, I have noticed that the council’s development ‘partner’ EC Harris, who are associated with Toby Young’s Free School, have moved into offices next to the Town Hall.  Highly symbolic.

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