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A Community betrayed: truth; poverty; cars

By Emma Dent Coad 
 
 
'Saviour of Golborne' - site for first phase of much loathed Wornington Green development.

The GLA poverty figures showing Golborne to be joint poorest ward in London were first disbelieved then challenged by the Council. The ensuing report, however, found precisely what the Labour Group had stated at the bad-tempered Budget meeting on 7 March – Golborne Ward is joint poorest ward in London, on extent measure.

As stated here previously, extent measure is probably the most devastating measure, especially in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – as it reflects a uniformity of deprivation throughout the ward, all of which is in the most deprived 10%, and some in the 5% most deprived in London.


So much for the ‘regeneration’ projects carried out in Golborne, the well-meaning but purely decorative Council-funded greening of grotty bits, and the dodgy art installations, some of which residents object to so violently that they tear them down. What have these ‘regeneration’ projects achieved but sanitising the true extent, and the depth, of poverty here? Old people who cannot afford to eat three times a day, children going to school with bad teeth – not from poor hygiene, but malnutrition in the womb, and early years. It brings shame on the richest borough in Europe, which is wreaking unforgivable cuts in the north of the borough while spending oodles of residents’ money on Olympic high-jinks elsewhere.

Not to mention the £23m spent on Exhibition Road. A road.

So much for the trickle-down effect of the ‘boutiquelicious’ shops invading Golborne Road, not to mention the nine-year presence of Stella McCartney’s fashion studio, whose arrival created such greed in the area that landlords hiked up their rents and many local shops were, and still are being, priced out of the area they serve.

In the midst of this local reflection, possibly the most ignorant and inaccurate article I have ever read appeared in the Standard. Announcing the opening of the sales office for the first phase of the Wornington Green development, the journalist gushed so imaginatively I can only imagine they are after a job with the PR firm of tall tale-spinning developer Catalyst Housing Group. 

To be precise:
 
1, Golborne is a ‘lost neighbourhood’ [this, in the very first sentence, is utter blx]
 
2, ‘Portobello Square’ has won an RIBA award [no it hasn’t, it won a far less prestigious, though still mystifying, Housing Design Award]
 
3, Wornington Green has in reality been renamed Portobello Square [no it hasn’t, this is a marketing name, Portobello Square is an actual square further down Portobello Road]
 
4, Trellick Tower is being bought out by architects. [No, out of 217 flats, just 34 have sold, and most of them to Right to Buy tenants.] 
 
5, Stella McCartney ‘discovered’ Golborne and her presence ‘heralded’ the ‘lost neighbourhood’s arrival’. [No, no and no. In her nine years in Golborne Road, she has done precisely nothing, zero, zilch, nada, not a sausage for the community. Ressie groups and school reps and others asking for contributions to Christmas lights, t-shirts for children’s footie clubs, fun days etc, have been turned away, while the most struggling market stallholder would donate something. She or her business has also been accused, rightly or wrongly, of: complaining about the smell of food, after moving her business into a hot food stall and market area; demanding that stalls should be removed from pitches outside her premises as cars need to drop people off there; complaining that market vans to the rear of her premises that park on their own allocated spaces should be removed, as she wants to park there herself; demanding that the entire Golborne market should be moved onto Portobello Road; buying half the properties on the new Wornington Green mews to keep the grockles out.] 


Some if not all of this may be exaggerated or invented, but in nine years I have never even seen SMc, her shutters are permanently closed and doors shut tight. With painful irony, as SMc reaps the rewards for her Olympic kit, a local church group is scrabbling for a few hundred quid to put on an Olympic-themed sports day in a local park, as K&C Council is doing precisely nothing for local children to celebrate the Olympics, but actually cut school sports funding. 

How can she be the saviour of a neighbourhood which has got poorer while she enjoys its ‘edgy’ location?

A less personal version of this text including a report on the progress or otherwise of the Wornington Green development, will appear in a national publication shortly; link in a future blog.
_________________________________________

Corporate lawyers and officers:

There is nothing litigious in this blog – I always check.

Here is a nice picture for you to look at instead.
 
Emma Dent Coad is a  Labour Councillor for the Golborne Ward. She has her own blog at http://emmadentcoad.blogspot.com   
 
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