“….In the last couple of weeks I have green lighted – in spite of the fiercest opposition from local people…never mind [great laughter and amusement] – I have nodded through an enormous mixed use development… [Southall Gasworks]”
On his twitter site Sharma claims that he had attended the hearing at City Hall on 25th March, but none of those who attended remember seeing him that evening. Both Sharma and Gurcharan met up with the campaigners at Park Avenue Gurudwara, but soon left. What is certain is that neither Sharma nor Gurcharan spoke at the hearing.
Although Stacey has made a number of sound bites in a bid to hoodwink the people of Southall, there can be little doubt that Ealing Council has not put up a fight on behalf of Southall residents, and may even have secretly been in favour of the plans all along. David Hill writes on his Guardian Blog that
At the hearing at City Hall Ealing’s Head of Planning Aileen Jones said she had discussed the revisions to the scheme with the Planning committee chair and that she was confident the reason for refusal had been “sufficiently addressed”
Save Our Southall has written to Stacey complaining that Ealing had made it far easier for the Mayor to agree the application and justify his trampling on local democracy by Aileen Jones’s statement on behalf of the Council.
It has also come to light that on the day of the hearing, in a bid to sabotage the campaign, somebody phoned the Coach Driver and gave false information by asking him to come one hour later than had been arranged. Despite this the campaigners did not lose their resolve and managed to be at the hearing on time.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, but the reality is that Southall ‘leaders’ and politicians such as Stacey, Sharma and Gurcharan are only too happy to attend photo shoots, give sound bites, and generally blow their own trumpet on websites such as facebook and Twitter, whilst offering little or no real support for the people of Southall.