Labour hide new housing sites from public view

At a Council committee meeting this week Labour Councillors voted to keep private the sites that they are planning on building on.  The sites include some sheltered housing planned for redevelopment in April 2013 and others like the Rochester Way and Shepherd's Leas where no public mention has been made of the plans previously.

At a Call-In Sub-Committee Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury made clear that employing architects to design housing without making public which sites this would be on lacked transparency and kept residents in the dark about Council plans.  Officers replied that they had to produce plans and would consult on them once complete.  Cllr Drury pointed out that designing plans for housing and then inviting residents to agree with them wasn't really consultation.

Strangely the two Labour sub-committee members (who were watched closely by their Leader at all times) didn't mention the lack of transparency in the Council's reports, but instead focused on whether the consultation should take place before or after plans are drawn up.

Cllr Drury said "I felt it was a strange meeting, with a firm air of intimidation prevailing.  The idea that the Council should keep secret sites it plans on building on until plans are fully developed strikes me as appalling and I am astonished the Chair of Scrutiny accepted this.

We do need more housing and I am fully supportive of it on sites like disused garages as exist in my ward on Well Hall Road, however residents need to be kept fully informed of the Council's plans.

Worryingly, the new leadership of the Council seems substantially less open than the old one (which wasn't exactly a model of transparency).  The new Leader seems to have the need to control proceedings without the drive to get things done (whether they were right or wrong).  Maybe the Council's budget in the next month will reflect a radical shift in ideas from the new leader - we shall have to wait and see."


The meeting was also attended by many supporters of the Rochester Way Social Club who wanted to make their point about the lack of consultation over the Club's future.   They were not invited to speak, but their presence made an important statement about feelings over this decision and its treatment of traditional Labour voters.