From the Chair
I would firstly like to thank all members of W23 and the wider community who have contributed towards the campaign during 2015 and so far into 2016. It has been a long and hard road with many obstacles and challenges, but the easy road is the road to nowhere and we now stand at the crossroads of a new chapter in real community empowerment and self-determination. From the introduction of the Portobello Village plans in March, The Procession/Protest on the 23 acres in July, to the shutting down of the WWT (Westway Trust) AGM in November, the past year's events have proved to be historical turning points in our collective struggle and special thanks is due to all who have stood up to be counted.
We have put the Portobello Village Developments on hold; put an end to the ridiculous ‘Destination Westway’ concept; kept Sarah and The Stables open; put the issue of the deadly pollution from the motorway firmly on the agenda; exposed the truth about the closure of Flyover, Portobello; put the spotlight on WWT’s continued toxic legacy of institutionally racist practices and also set the stage for a new phase of community led development based upon healing, repair and creative innovation.
As a result of the accumulated movement and works of OVCC/W23 we have managed to change the rhythm of the conversation and create a new dialogue with the recently elected new Chair, Alan Brown, which is so far proving to be highly productive.
Credit is due to Alan for being prepared to honestly and openly face the harsh truths and realities of WWT’s recent actions, and seeking to repair the historical toxic legacy with commitment and vigor. He appears open to the challenges and has been receptive to ideas put to him. I would also like to thank Rev Steve Divall of St. Helen’s Church, for offering his church and vicarage for a further meeting and choosing to be an instrument of change.
This is a much welcomed and long overdue change in the relationship between WWT and the local community, as prior to this we have faced a brick wall of denial in relation to these issues when dealing with the WWT senior management team and co-workers. The disrespectful, evasive, outdated and unprofessional attitude of members of the senior management prior to his arrival had become a major stumbling block in community relations.
However, history has taught us that we must be vigilant and ready for action and that foundations cannot be built on sand. You will see that this new dawn has come with its fair share of storm clouds and there is still some way to go.
We look forward to continuing to forge ahead with our progressive working relationships to create something truly innovative and historical that is of true value and benefit for everyone in the local community.
Niles Hailstones, Chair: OVCC/Westway23
The Public Meeting...and the Trust No-Show
"A DUTY TO SAFEGUARD THE WELL-BEING OF OUR STAFF TEAM" - aNgela mcconville
Westway23 had planned to facilitate a public meeting with the Westway Trust at the Tabernacle on 11th November in order to provide the local community with one of the two public consultation meetings it was promised by the trust in relation to the Portobello Village Development (PVD) plans. Although the trust had initially agreed to attend the meeting, they pulled out at the last minute citing fears for the safety of their staff team.
WE ARE NOT UNEDUCATED BEASTS
The W23 Chair responded by sending an email to Chief Executive Angela McConville on behalf of W23 expressly stating that these fears were baseless, and gave them an opportunity to reconsider. Ms McConville failed to respond.
IS THIS WHAT THEY ARE AFRAID OF?!
WHAT DID THEY IMAGINE...?
The actions of WWT were widely condemned by the local community and press, and caused a great deal of embarrassment for them as 200-300 people across ages, ethnicities and backgrounds attended, ready to engage in healthy debate.
There was clear disappointment and confusion caused by the stated issues of safety and the loss of a well presented opportunity to finally have some real talk and gain clarity on the Trust's highly controversial plans.
Short talks were then given by some of those members of the community whose businesses have been most recently adversely affected by harsh and unjust WWT decisions to close them down: Tim Burke of Pop Up Cinema, Sarah Tuvey of West London Stables and Huey Walker of Flyover.