2012-09-27

The Guardian: "Earls Court project: avoidable unpleasantness?"


Link to web site

"A fortnight has passed since a dossier was handed to the police alleging that residents of two West London housing estates had been promised preferential treatment in the allocation of replacement homes if they gave their backing to the estates' demolition, and arguing that such behaviour could constitute a criminal offence.

"...Way back in February 2007, the then new leader of the council Stephen Greenhalgh – who Boris Johnson has recently made head of his new office for policing and crime – appeared on the internet channel 18 Doughty Street TV with local Tory MP Greg Hands. Both argued that they wanted to improve the lot of poorer people on their patch of inner West London and tackle deep inequalities. I can no longer find this item online – perhaps someone else have better luck – but I recall feeling that they believed what they were saying.

"Greenhalgh championed the Earls Court project right up until he stepped down as leader earlier this year. Yet to some in the regeneration business the entire Earls Court enterprise has looked unwieldy, impractical and undesirably old-fashioned from the start – a top-heavy, top-down wrecking ball of a scheme that will be difficult to finance, characterised by unrealistic claims and always at risk of incurring resentment. And it doesn't look to me like a project guided by the bottom-up, localist, 'big society' principles that modern Conservative administrations are supposed to be applying, particularly in a London borough seen as a trailblazer for national party policy – David Cameron's favourite council, no less."

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