Lewisham Fails to Communicate, Consult or be Transparent withAchilles Residents, Businesses and Community Groups

Council officers have said that they would inform all residents and businesses about any developments and meetings regarding the Achilles street area – they have consistently failed to do so.  Achilles Street area was on the agenda at Mayor and cabinet on 12 December they failed to let anyone know. We found out a few days before by chance and prepared a response- the response was critical of their communication and consultation process. This resulted in a hand delivered letter to residents a few days later on the 14 December from Cllr Bell saying that they had held the meeting! The second part of the meeting on the 12 December was behind closed doors to agree a budget. We have asked for this budget to be made publicly available but they are refusing as apparently it’s not in the public’s interest. We have put in a FOI.

To pretend the plans were developed through significant engagement with residents, businesses and the local community is disingenuous and simply misleading. Lewisham have only ever presented the option of demolition to residents and to pretend otherwise is misleading. The few residents who attended the first consultation event or who opened their doors to Council officers in February 2016 have had their answers misused by Lewisham to promote the Council’s plans for demolition. Plans which were already well underway before the first consultation and have hardly changed since (see Lewisham Consultation boards for May 2016 and February 2017 below). To suggest they were developed with significant input from the residents is not true.

To pretend that options for infill and refurbishment have been explored is false. No option for infill, refurbishment and landscaping to improve the Achilles Street area has ever been presented to or discussed with residents, businesses and community groups. To refer to an outdated, dropped infill feasibility study in a couple of lines on a consultation board and pretend to have a presented it as an option is disingenuous. (Board 7: Lewisham Consultation boards February 2017)

What does Lewisham Council have to hide?  Why was the second part of Mayor and Cabinet meeting on the 12th December behind closed doors? Discussing public money and public land behind closed doors is typical of the total lack of transparency we’ve come to expect from Lewisham. Lewisham will be holding a ballot to decide whether or not its plans for the Achilles Street area will go ahead. So why is the Council even thinking of, let alone discussing, wasting taxpayer’s money on buying back from leaseholders and purchasing freehold properties in the Achilles Street area? The Council doesn’t even know what the terms of the ballot are going to be yet let alone the result! Or have Lewisham already decided the result of the Achilles Street Ballot at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting, behind closed doors, that nobody’s been informed of? This is the lack of transparency we’ve come to expect from Lewisham Council. A Council that has consistently failed to keep residents, businesses and the local community informed; a Council that has failed to engage with the people living and working in the Achilles Street area in any sort of meaningful or collaborative way; and a Council that is intent on only one thing, demolition and the destruction of the local community.

 

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