Guardian Prints Correction
1) 100 out of the 761 households on the estate supported the council’s demolition plans. But there are only 81 addresses on the Steering Group’s mailing list, and 38 of these have put in objections!
2) The 500 objections were on “pre-completed forms”. Forms were distributed. They were BLANK. 558 people used them to write personal handwritten statements objecting to the plans to demolish their homes. These have been published online.
I wrote to the Guardian pointing out these and more inaccuracies. But the sneakiest trick of all – so serious that the Guardian saw fit to publish a correction to its original article – was that it FAILED TO MENTION that the Steering Group was not impartial – it is funded by the council.
Here, verbatim, is the correction that the Guardian printed:
This footnote was appended on 12 April 2012: Maureen Way’s profile should have included the fact that the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Steering Company that supports the plan has received £38,000 of funding from Hammersmith and Fulham council. According to Inside Housing, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that £34,000 was for legal costs and the rest was for a newsletter, draft tenants’ contract and a trip to the Bromley-by-Bow community centre.
Council’s Press Release is Dishonest
I was sceptical about the council’s motives for spending £30,000 on consultation packs about whether it should sell the land in West Ken And Gibbs Green to property developers Capco – and then sending almost all of them to households which were not directly affected by the threat of demolition. Only 4% of them were distributed to homes on the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estate.
Obviously public relations chiefs at the council were hoping that the response from those in surrounding areas would dilute what they knew would be solid opposition from those on the estate. It was not to be – of the 29,000 consultation packs distributed to the areas outside the estate, only 2% were returned.
It was a different story on the estates themselves – 760 packs were sent out and the council states that it received 805 responses! What clearer evidence of the strength of feeling on the estates could there be?
The Council’s press release, published on its website, makes no mention of the overall opposition to the plan (around 3 to 1) and only mentions the figures most favourable to its case (and even they are 2 to 1 against)
If you want to see the figures, they are here. You will still have to disentangle them from some of the council’s spin – but you can still see the strength of opposition from the estates if you do.
This is a disgraceful attempt to massage the figures and ignore the responses of the huge majority of tenants and leaseholders on the estates. The consultation cost £30,000 of taxpayers’ money but because the result doesn’t suit their purpose, they are simply making up their own. Don’t take my word for it- read the figures yourself and make your own mind up.
Council Gives Resident’s Personal Details to CapCo
Richard Osband (the director of the Council’s Steering Group who resigned in disgust) has been submitting a series of FOI requests to the Council as part of his investigation into the CapCo deal. Now it appears that the council has inadvertently revealed to him that it is passing on all his requests and the personal information they contain, to CapCo themselves. As well as being a breach of trust, this would almost certainly be a breach of the DPA. Richard has asked the Council to confirm the situation – by submitting another FOI request.