David Gold on Greenwich Council and the Ferrier Estate

At last night's meeting of Greenwich Council, a debate was held about the appalling way in which some residents of the Ferrier Estate have been treated by the local authority.


David Gold was with residents of the estate in the public gallery and reports back:


"The performance of Labour’s leadership at last night’s Full Council meeting went far beyond normal party political divisions.  In response to a Conservative motion calling for greater transparency and better reporting on the long delayed start to regeneration of the Ferrier Estate, Councillor Roberts looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights and finally revealed his true self.


"He accused Conservatives of hypocrisy and lies as Councillor Glover and Councillor Taylor spoke of the human misery experienced by residents who have been abandoned and bullied by Greenwich.  He refused to address the complaints of Ferrier residents who had filled the public gallery and said they ‘couldn’t believe their luck’ when they are moved to other parts of the borough, which came as news to those I was sitting with.  So too did the claim that the Ferrier should never have been built and the inference that people are lucky to escape with their lives after visiting (I’ve obviously been lucky on countless occasions!).


"His colleague, Councillor Brooks, stung by earlier criticism that he never attends meetings on the Ferrier Estate with resident moaned that ‘being booed is no fun you know’ as if facing the unpopularity of the people whose close-knit community you are breaking up is somehow beneath a Cabinet Member who draws a substantial salary out of public funds.  Had he considered that he might be wrong and that more listening, less lecturing, might stop the boos?  We shall never know as he refuses to meet residents any longer (I was told by a resident he only attended 2 meetings, clearly a low pain threshold).


"To the astonishment of those in the public gallery, we were then told that FRAG and FLAG, the organisations which represent the residents of the estate are in fact not representative even though hundreds of people financially support their activities and attend their public meetings (as have I Councillor Brooks - but I was not booed, not because I can solve all their problems but because I listened).


"When it was clear the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were not going to accept the re-written motion (a self-congratulatory back slapping love-fest) the abuse really started.  Apparently over 70% of residents who have moved (and remember, they can’t believe their luck!) would not wish to return to the Estate when it has been re-built.  Well, to be honest, nor would I.  The community these people once knew has had the guts ripped out of it, everyone has been dispersed over a wide area, not one brick has yet been laid and probably won’t be for years and so having moved and re-settled, why would someone up sticks again years afterwards?  The stupidity of such a statement, delivered almost as a boast, was as pathetic to watch as it was sinister.


"What really annoyed me last night was the utter refusal of the Labour leadership to grasp that none of us is trying to turn the clock back, we don’t seek to stop the re-development.  The time for that passed long ago.  What we seek to highlight is the personal and human misery, the anger and the bitterness that the long delay is causing and the misery of those people living in isolation on an estate which is no longer maintained.  Furthermore, can I ask - why did the two Eltham West councillors present (the third being absent) not utter a single word throughout a debate on their own ward?  This is not the first time they have remained silent.  In fact, I have never heard them speak.  It was said that 150 questions have been asked by residents at Council meetings, yet never have the residents had even a word of comfort from their elected representatives, who after all, Councillor Roberts was keen to remind us, are their true representatives.


"Is it any wonder the residents staged a walk-out after such a spectacle?  I was tempted to walk a lot sooner, but wanted to see the clones all raise their hands in support of an amended motion as if they had cattle prods aimed at their sensitive areas.  Such deeds will be remembered when the next elections come around".