Protests 5-7pm Fri 2nd, Tues 6th and Fri 9th Feb 2018 @ 140 Ladbroke Grove
Video of our first demo; features interviews with MP Emma Dent Coad, Councillor Pat Mason and community activist Niles Hailstones. Filmed Fri 2nd Feb '18.
A public statement signed by community and campaign groups in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea:
In the summer of 2016 RBKC Council devoted the front and inner pages of Westway magazine to support their claim that the stairs of the much-loved North Kensington Library, made the building inaccessible.
The council did this whilst at the very same time ending the lease of the former Westway Information Centre, and relocating the service to a smaller nearby premises, only accessible via a steep and narrow stairway.
The incoherence of these two postions point to a broader picture in which the Council, then under the leadership of Nick Paget-Brown, and Rock Feilding Mellen, were pursuing an asset-sweating strategy which prioritised the commercial value of public land, casting such issues as residents’ consent, public access, and public amenities as minor concerns.
In recent months, the Council has claimed that there will be ‘change’ and there will be ‘listening’ under the new leadership of Elizabeth Campbell and Kim Taylor-Smith. In the spirit of this new era, we invite the council to rethink the development plans for the former Westway Information Centre, given away by a sleight of hand. The result of this is that we are now facing the prospect of a private prep school and Pret-a-Manger chain outlet on the 23 acres under the Westway, which is supposed to be community space.
We remind Campbell, Taylor-Smith, and their councillors, that the land under the Westway A40 flyover where the former WIC stood, was left in trust for the benefit of the surrounding communities. The ratio of community vs commercial use on the 23 acres has reversed from 80/20 in the community’s favour to 20/80 in favour of commercial interests. Rebalancing this, so that the 23 acres is used according to the purpose and values that the Trust was established to protect, is well overdue.
Reducing the land available to the community in order to facilitate the expansion of a £6k per term prep school is, in our view, a misuse of the land; and the use of council funding to pay for building development works is a misuse of public funds. The School’s decision to sublet part of their lease to corporate interests - that not only do not enhance, but actively threaten, the mix of independent and community led activities on the 23 acres - demonstrate a worrying level of ignorance from the School about the interests of the local community. Pret-a-Manger is famous for employing precarious workers. They like to employ people who can afford to take home very low wages, often those who are young and without children, or casual workers. Therefore, while their product range, with baked kale and protein pots, might meet the aspirations of the affluent, their business model takes no account of the need to support workers with family and caring responsibilities, the very foundations of the community who have stepped up to the crisis in North Kensington and are the fabric upon which our area depends. We, the community, can not affort to subsidise this business with sub-living wage labour in exchange for the sleek aesthetics of global consumption.
In the wake of decisions about North Kensignton Library, and Wornington College, our commuinty knows that it is never too late to go back on signed agreements. In the spirit of the new, listening, community-led and culturally sensitive culture that Campbell and Taylor-Smith have described, we invite the Council to note that RBKC has broken planning guidance by letting another chain into North Kensington, rather than an independent business. This degrades the character of North Kensington and its economy. We ask that Campbell and Taylor-Smith review decisions made by the old regime at the Council, thereby embracing and affirming a new era of community-led decision making for North Kensington. The right thing to do now is to re-think the future of the space with an open process accessible to all concerned, to design something that reflects the needs and desires of this community, with a fresh start for 2018.
#NoPrepNoPret #W23PublicStatement #ReclaimLadbrokeGrove
Unity Is Strength
"The Grenfell Action Group has learned, via the Freedom of Information Act, that the cost of stripping out the interior and recladding the exterior of the former WIC premises will cost RBKC council tax payers nearly £1 million."
An additional FOI request (REF: 2017-1855) was made to RBKC council on November 28 2017, we are still awaiting a response.
It is our understanding that there was wide objection 2 years ago to RBKC Planning Property's re-zoning of W.I.C from CKI (Community Use) to retail use (A1). RBKC Property under Cllr Fielding Mellon were developing the whole Lancaster Rd site, inc WIC, Issac Newton School, Epic Youth, & The North Ken Library, all gifted to the Prep School's... A possible huge scandal therein. The Westway Trust, under Angela McConville took in the Citizen's Advice Bureau to a property without disability access, & so aided the clearance. Why? (1) The Prep School new demographic mirrors W.T's 'Portobello Village': new 'artisan retail', 'elevated restaurant' reduced no market. etc. (2) For W.T development's to ever go ahead, land swaps or lease changes would have to take place with RBKC Property... RBKC has land by Norfolk Pl or did... McConville and Mellon were seemingly singing the same song. WestWay Trust Charity & the Council urgently need to explain how Pret ever got there...
We are asking local community groups, organisations and individuals to co-sign this statement, please fill out a form below, and share with your friends.
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