Residents demand that Labour come clean on plans for Gibbs Green and West Ken estates

cowanletterLabour councillors are keen to repeat the mantra that they wish to do things with residents not to residents. But that is not how some of those on the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates who voted for them see it.

Opinion is divided over the redevelopment of those estates. Before the council elections last year Labour opposed the plans. They spread scare stories that residents would have to move to Barking and Dagenham – when in fact replacement local homes are being offered. Lies such as those poisoned and politicised what should have been a practical assessment of how it might be realistic to provide new and better housing.

My own view is that was is proposed is an improvement on what exists at present – but that it could be much better. It is perfectly possible to meet that requirements for density, and for the sums to add up, while providing a really beautiful place to live.

cowanlettertwoBut while there will be a range of strongly held views it is wrong for the Labour Council to be secretive about their negotiations.

This morning a group of residents opposed to Capco’s regeneration plans declared they had “lost patience” with the Council. The Labour councillor Cllr Andrew Jones gave an evasive and bureaucratic response which sounded like a statement a lawyer had written for him.

Last December the Council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan wrote to residents saying nothing much – but that he “hoped to” feel able to tell them something in the “first few months of the New Year”. It’s August and residents have yet to hear diddly squat.

Labour canvassers last year went round telling residents that the redevelopment would be halted if they took over the Council.

As for Labour’s pledge to publish minutes of their meetings with property developers the reality has proved a sham. Rather than proper minutes the information made available for each meeting is a couple of sentences of waffle. No genuine indication of what changes are being sought or what changes have been offered.

So a year after taking power Labour are shown to be arrogant. Residents are left out of the loop. Labour’s own supporters feel betrayed.

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