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Neil Coyle's position on Heygate/Aylesbury?

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Monday 27 April 2015 12.40pm
Pete, in reply:

(i) I'm unclear what meetings you have with tenants, residents and others. However, what I do know is that when I have called upon you personally - by e-mail - to intervene in a matter relating to point (iv) below, you didn't even have the courtesy to respond. It seems you'll only reply when publicly criticised. However, you haven't addressed the gifts and hospitalities. Isn't over 70 occasions more than any other London council leader? Don't you think it affects your ability to be impartial and maintain same? Be a proper and upstanding leader and stop being in the pocket of your friends at Berkeley Homes et al.

(ii). I am indeed referring to the AA case. How is the actions of corrupt council employees the fault of central government? Southwark Council, under your stewardship, has publicly denounced the judgment as being flawed yet hasn't sought to appeal it. As a barrister yourself, surely you know that findings of fact made by a High Court judge are indeed that: facts. Indeed, we have a by-election here in Chaucer ward because Cllr Maughan resigned, ostensibly for innocuous reasons, but yet we hear anecdotally - and in the local press - that it was because of a critical letter her husband wrote to the Southwark News.

(iii) I am referring specifically to One The Elephant. As you rightly say, there is no affordable housing thereon. Why? There was a leisure centre existing on the site and if it was to be demolished to make way for such luxury developments then it ought to be paid separately under the auspices of a s.106. That does not obviate the need for affordable housing. Shame on you for allowing it.

(iv) Gimmicky words mean nothing. Kitchens and bathrooms were originally in the programme for major works and then suddenly removed under the auspices of your hollow promise. Some estates have very good cyclical works programmes. Others don't. Our kitchen is in a state of awful disrepair. It is clearly over 20 years old, maybe 30. Our bathroom was in a similar state. I've spent over 5,000 replacing the bathroom here because the date for its replacement vanishes into the long-distant future. The major works put off back in 2007 (eight years ago) for this estate were supposed to include long overdue kitchens and bathrooms. They now don't and it's been couched in vague terms by the project team. From where I'm standing, it is indeed an EMPTY PROMISE.

On point (iv) your useless Labour councillors have been next to no help. We've had a meeting with Cllr Eastham. Nothing. We've been in touch with Cllr Eastham and Cllr Luthra about the severely potholed and dangerous road on the estate. Acknowledgement but then nothing. The most suitable adjective to describe your Labour administration is "Useless".
Monday 27 April 2015 1.11pm
OK Gavin, my final thoughts on this thread -

(i) I don't think my impartiality is affected - in fact I have been able to have and continue to have very robust discussions with anyone who wants to build in the borough on their proposals around affordable housing and employment. Our record on the delivery of affordable housing supports that.

(ii) I haven't criticised the judgment in AA - there are important lessons to be learned. But I do not believe that it represents the usual work or approach of the council.

(iii) The leisure centre at the Elephant had not had a working swimming pool for over a decade. This was a priority for the council and the community - and through this mechanism we are able to replace it (with a working pool) at minimal cost to the council taxpayer.

(iv) Kitchens and bathrooms were not in this Administration's Warm, Dry and Safe programme. They were in the previous Lib Dem administrations programme - which had no timetable for delivery and a 600 m funding gap. We always have fully funded and timetabled programmes which we deliver. I am sorry if you have had to wait and invest your own money - but from the sound of things that was due more to the previous Administration's chaotic approach to Decent Homes than anything we have done since 2010.

I think we rehearsed some (if not all) of these arguments last year before the local elections. I have to be guided by how people vote - and overwhelmingly they voted Labour last May. I have every confidence in all of my Labour Group colleagues and obviously do not share your assessment of the Administration which is one of the most progressive in London with the largest commitment to council house building; the introduction of Free Healthy School Meals (opposed vehemently by Simon Hughes and his Lib Dem colleagues until their national party changed their policy!); doubling recycling, a commitment to ensure no 18 year old leaves school without further education, training or employment to go to and the introduction of Free Swim and Gym use for all - which will be rolled out next year.

In addition we have frozen council tax, introduced the Youth Fund which includes scholarships to pay for talented students from low income backgrounds to have all of their tuition fees paid, introduced the London Living Wage for all of our staff and contractors and ended zero hours contracts for social care workers through the Southwark Ethical Care Charter.
Monday 27 April 2015 1.26pm
Pete, I'll see you at the next black tie dinner!


Don't get me started on another empty promise of yours though about ending zero-hour contracts for social care workers. Why then does my wife work (as at today's date) on a zero hours contract for one of the council's social care contractors? I've been in touch with another of your pleasant (but useless) councillors - the "cabinet member for adult social care, the arts and culture" - almost five months ago and still nothing has changed. It's all gimmicky rubbish. As if to prove the point, I will forward you the e-mail chain between myself and said councillor from 10 December 2014.
Monday 27 April 2015 3.34pm
Gavin, your insistence on pointedly referring to the council leader as "Pete" undermines the credibility of your arguments in what could otherwise have been an interesting conversation.

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Monday 27 April 2015 3.49pm
James, I concede that it was perhaps a tad overfamiliar - and I apologise for that - but I don't see how it undermines the credibility or substance of the points I was seeking to make, all of which I think remain valid. All credit to Peter for responding and I think we've made a tacit agreement to disagree.

I'm sure I haven't deterred Peter from contributing to the forum or from engaging with other forum users - I've been in e-mail communication with him subsequent to my earlier posts and he has agreed to look into one of the matters raised.
Monday 27 April 2015 3.57pm
Good to see the council leader contributing to debate on an open forum. I can't imagine that happens in many boroughs!
Monday 27 April 2015 7.28pm
True, our council leader does contribute to debate on an open forum, but for some reason I do not believe all that he says, especially when I read things like this, and I would invite him to respond because I am confused. Who is telling the truth?
Monday 27 April 2015 7.47pm
PeterJohn wrote:
In response Gavin:
(i) I declare all gifts and hospitalities which I a required to do in order to ensure transparency

I am sure Cllr John, that your Lend Lease tickets for the Olympics were declared. That's not the point though. At any stage, when you were offered those tickets, did you have an inner voice saying to you, "best give this invite a swerve Peter, what with the current sensitivities surrounding Lend Lease and the Heygate?"
Or when you were bankrolled by Lend Lease to attend the MIPIM event in 2013, did that same inner voice say, "I know you think you're saving the taxpayer some money by getting an external party to pay for the trip, but do you think it wise with the current sensitivities etc etc?"
Do you have an adviser Cllr John?, you know, somebody who can take a dispassionate view of things and tell you when you're on course to make a complete Horlicks of something. If you have, I suggest that you jettison them pronto as you are being poorly served (don't worry about them finding other gainful employment, I am sure Lend Lease will find something for them to do).
Anyway, just did my postal vote, always been a Labour voter, nearly voted Labour again, and then I remembered your supercilious grin from the olympic selfie and decided to vote Lib Dem instead (can't stand 'em, but I think that just further illustrates my complete disdain for the careerists and hucksters that now infest the Labour party). By the way, I managed to persuade my wife and daughter to do the same.
Monday 27 April 2015 8.09pm
James Hatts wrote:
As far as Peter John's position re the Heygate is concerned, it's worth noting what he told me when I interviewed him before last year's borough elections:

"I would never tell anyone to do regeneration a la Heygate ever again in the future. It is just too unnecessarily challenging. Emptying an entire estate 27 acres is just not the way forward."

Phew, that's a relief. Cllr John says he would never do it again. Well if that's not a cast-iron guarantee, I don't know what is.
Monday 27 April 2015 11.42pm
It's election time once more. Do you remember Peter John's interview with InSE1 just before May 2010's local authority elections? Criticising the then ruling LibDem's Heads of Terms agreement with LendLease for the regeneration of the Heygate Estate, he said:

"It was an agreement to build houses and private houses at that. That's simply not good enough.

"If we're going to redevelop the Elephant it has to include social housing as well as private housing, it has to include those vital community facilities and it has to have a shopping centre which people will want to go to."

Anyone care to remind me again how many social rented units in the new Heygate development? Less than 80,I believe. How many council flats were there before demolition, over 1000.
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