Labour has attacked the designation of the area around Earls Court as an Opportunity Area in the revised London Plan. An Opportunity Area is one where there will be a focus to achieve regeneration – to bring about sustainable development in an area of social deprivation which includes substantial brownfield sites. The reason is that Labour oppose any possibility of estate regeneration in Hammersmith and Fulham bordering Earls Court. The Council has made clear that any development will only go ahead if it is advantageous to the residents on the estates. The amount of social housing will be maintained. But Labour have been busy scare mongering about them "losing their homes."
Labour's attack on opportunity came from their London Assembly member Nicky Gavron at Mayor of London's Question Time this week. She did so in veer childish form asking a general question about the 33 Opportunity Areas and then asking Boris if he could remember the names of the estates in the Earls Court one. How many names of estates in the 33 areas would Nicky remember off the top of her head? Boris responded:
Perhaps we could have a game of Pelmanism and you and I will learn he names of all the estates in London and we will see whose memory is more attentive.
Gavron made a fool of herself in her ambush by indignantly telling Boris that the estates were called: "West Ken and Green Gibbs." Er, it's Gibbs Green, Nicky. She lives in Highgate. She wanted Boris to visit the estates with her. She claims to have visited herself but at one stage she talked as if they consisted entirely of houses. Some are houses with gardens but most of the homes consist of flats in tower blocks. I have canvassed in those blocks. I have taken up case work of building defects and anti social behaviour. I have listened to parents in those blocks, in Desborough House and Lickey House, talk about their aspirations for better housing in which to bring up their children.
Boris was on very good form:
I think it is a very good idea to create an Opportuinity Area for Hammmersmith and Fulham. I am aware that the Labour Party are trying to mount some sort of scare operation. These are very sensible Conservative housing plans. Labour politicians over to keep people in substandard accommodation because that is how they feel they can build their vote. I would support demolition if it is in the interests of the local residents to provide some improvements but only under those circumstances.
"What circumstances?" asked Nicky Gavron whose mind had wondered. Boris pressed on:
I would the residents of those estates not to listen to the shrill wailings of a Government scrabbling on the oubliette of history.
Indeed so. Vintage stuff.