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Westway23 the newsletter

Welcome to the Westway23 newsletter.

Issue One

February 2016

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 The disrespectful, evasive, outdated and unprofessional attitude of members of the senior management prior to his arrival had become a major stumbling block in community relations.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

Westway23 (W23) is a grassroots organisation formed of concerned local residents, organisations, traders and artists of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, united to defend the rights of the local community of Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, West London in relation to the 23 acres of land held in trust for the benefit of local residents, by Westway Trust (WWT).

We are endeavouring to hold WWT accountable to its charitable remit and to establish a new consultation process, dialogue and voice for the local community.

We are not against development and change; we recognise that any future developments that are planned must be truly beneficial to the prosperity, health and well being of the local community for whom the land is held in trust.

In this first edition, we bring you news of the meetings that have opened up a brand new dialogue for 2016.

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.

ONCE AGAIN THE TRUST LEAVES THE COMMUNITY DISAPPOINTED WITH ITS ABANDONED EMPTY SPACES

The evening began with a presentation by Niles Hailstones putting historical context to the 23 acres left to the local community. This was followed by a film by Wyn Baptise of an interview with Anthony Perry, the original Director of WWT, in which he gave an impassioned and insightful look into historical issues surrounding the trust and its original mandate, and reminded the community of how it has always had to fight for any significant changes in the area.

Anthony Perry - the original Trust Director
The Trust was born out of protest

John O’Malley gave a talk on his work as part of the Motorway Development Trust, the organisation that came out of his and Adam Ritchie's North Kensington Playspace Group and preceded the formation of the North Kensington Amenity Trust (NKAT) in 1971.

NKAT became the Westway Development Trust in 2002. It changed its name to Westway Trust in 2014.

John O' Malley - an original Trustee

John again reinforced the message that the community needs to come together and fight for the change it wants.

Play is a part of the Westway's DNA
A vision of creative community space from 1968

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.

Amenities threatened or closed down

Tom Fitch shared some shocking statistics on the pollution from the A40 westway flyover to illustrate the devastatingly damaging affects of this to those living and working in and around the area, and to give perspective as to the reason why the 23 acres of land was left to the local community.

The land is compensation for deadly air quality

A short film of Edward Daffarn was shown, highlighting the link between the issues of the Westway and threats to local housing.

Finally a panel discussion was held, as originally planned. The 'Question Time' format (six panel members from W23 and WWT) was abandoned and an open forum was adopted with questions asked of the remaining W23 panel members. After hearing various thoughts about how best to progress, it was roundly agreed that Westway23 and the community should attend the upcoming Westway Trust Annual General Meeting to make our collective voices heard.

The meeting’s highlight came toward the end of the evening as Marion Gettleson from Street Traders Association put a vote of no confidence in the senior management of WWT to the public, which saw a clear majority in favour.

This vote of no confidence would later be delivered in person to the senior management of WWT at the upcoming AGM and we continue to hold it until there are substantial moves to address our concerns.

Westway23 take the fight to the Westway Trust

Coverage from the Evening Standard

Westway23 continue to hold our 'No Confidence' vote in the board and directors of the Trust.

Ladbroke Grove Community shut down Westway Trust AGM (Annual General Meeting)

Following on from the Tabernacle meeting, on Tuesday 23rd November representatives of the local community, led by community action group Westway23, braved the cold to shut down the Westway Trust's AGM.

An unusually well-attended Westway AGM

The meeting, held at the local St Helens Church, was adjourned after questions arose surrounding inconsistencies in the counting of votes passed at last years AGM on a special resolution to change the “size and complexion of the board” and expand the area of benefit to include surrounding boroughs. This was followed by a general vote of no confidence, carried forward by Niles Hailstones from the public meeting that WWT had failed to attend earlier in the month due to "fears about the safety of their staff".

The meeting was then taken over by the community and became a platform to finally raise concerns and objections on a variety of issues including Destination Westway, West London Stables, closure of the Flyover, Portobello, Maxilla Nursery and much more. The Trust sat red-faced as the true beneficiaries of the charity made it clear they were neither fooled by nor satisfied with the current situation. It was also made clear that the current spate of closures and bad decisions were inextricably linked to a historical legacy of institutional racism and social exclusion.

The community finally gets a voice

The AGM has still not been completed.

It was an historical and pivotal moment and exposed both the effects of recent and imminent closures and the corrupt practices of the ‘trust’ over the last 44 years. The meeting ended up lasting 3-4 hours and would lead to a game changing follow up.

The Follow On Meetings with Alan Brown

Alan Brown, new Chair of WWT is a former Senior Advisor at Schroders - a global investment management company - and a current Governor of the Wellcome Trust

Since the AGM, a smaller group of W23 representatives have had a number of meetings with Alan Brown the new Chair, the first taking place at St Helens Church with Revd. Steve Divall as a mediator. The meetings have been productive and W23 and Alan Brown are now currently in the process of setting in motion action plans to bring the Trust back to its original mandate.

Here we highlight a few of our specific concerns around governance and immediate threats to our amenities.

The Area of Benefit

Let's be clear: The area of benefit

It has been agreed that the 23 acres are for the benefit of the local community not the surrounding boroughs and a renewed policy statement has now been published by WWT as a good will gesture leading up to approaching the charity commission to permanently change the constitution. W23 would like to know your views on it, as it has thrown up some deeper issues with some potentially very serious ramifications.

What changes to the Trust's constitution have been made without the consent of the local community? What agreements have the Trust entered into with the community's land? Are the Trust keeping to their remit? Is the Trust being open about its relationships to the council and funders? How much money is being spent outside of the local community?

What would you ask?

Trustees

Current Westway Trustees: Chair - Alan Brown; Member-nominated - Cynthia Dize, James Caplin; Council-nominated - Pat Mason, Anne Cyron, Malcolm Spalding; Open-nominated - Joanna Farquharson, Karen Bendell, Christopher Ward, Chris Williamson, Mike Jones.

A balanced board?

During meetings with Alan and new Communications & Community Relations Director, Alex Russell, it has been agreed that the board is unbalanced and that this must be fully addressed over the coming year.

We have serious concerns regarding the length of terms of trustees - Mike Jones in particular - the overwhelming focus on property and finance, on the "estate", and the total lack of any genuine grassroots community ethos. Those trustees with genuine community links have been put into a position of tokenism.

There are two new trustee positions on the board coming up at the beginning of 2016 to begin that process. One will be a nomination from the member groups and one will be an independent put forward by W23. Nominees will have to be from the local area of benefit.

W23 hold the position that full and proper community oversight must be enshrined in the Trust and this is something that has been badly neglected over the past four decades.

Directors

L-R: The Trust's well-paid directors - Angela McConville; Stephen Wren; Phil Dibsdale; Mark Lockhart

The directors of WWT carry out the business of the Trust, as dictated by the agreed strategy of the board of Trustees. W23 are deeply concerned about the actions of some of those directors, both in carrying out a highly controversial strategy and in their responses to the justified and considered reaction from the local community.

The actions of Chief Executive, Angela McConville have consistently caused consternation and even outright offence to many in the community. She continues to ignore and sideline the issues, whilst moving ahead with plans that show it is "business as usual" for those on high salaries taking money out of the community.

As Sports Director, Stephen Wren has been a defining factor in the constant threat of closure endured by West London Stables. When questioned, he has been evasive and cryptic at best. What has he been brought in to do for the Trust?

Phil Dibsdale, the Senior Development Consultant, led on the disastrous Portobello Village Development. His statement in a recent interview that those members of the community who objected to the development had to "be in it to win it", his arrogant top-down approach, apparent disregard for community use of the 23 acres and his belief that the only necessary consultation with the market traders was with the man who currently holds the licence to run the Portobello Green Market - and not the stall-holders themselves - are indicative of his behaviour.

Finance Director, Mark Lockhart, has been with the Trust since the days of Roger Maitland. If that weren't enough cause for concern, his attitude toward those in the community whose livelihoods and careers have been under threat and damaged by the Trust's actions has been unhelpful and at times has caused great distress and anxiety.

W23 holds its vote of No Confidence in these directors and we are yet to witness behaviour or actions that are likely to change that position.

The Stables

L-R: The community's disappearing amenities

W23 received assurances that the eviction notice for the Stables would not be enforced in January 2016 as previously planned, and we have had further assurances from the Chair that WWT will involve and support Sarah in any future plans for equestrian services on the 23 acres.

W23 will continue to support Sarah through this process, attending meetings and making certain that the Directors of the Trust follow through on the agreements made between Alan and Sarah.

As the Directors of Sport and Finance and the Chair of the Property committee, Stephen Wren, Mark Lockhart and Mike Jones are responsible for those decisions. Sadly, their behaviour has continued to be unacceptably unsupportive and disrespectful, despite the very clear support offered by the new Chair.

Just as we have seen the disgraceful, demeaning and corporate treatment of Maxilla Children's Centre, The Flyover and the Pop-up Cinema as indicative of the Trust's workings, The Stables is now a key indicator of how the Trust is prepared to treat those they do not value.

We look forward to a change in attitude and an end to the cynical and harmful behaviour toward Sarah and her team. To ensure that change happens we need the community to make it clear how much we value The Stables.

Destination Westway

With the removal of the word “Destination” from the Destination Westway strategy leading up to 2030, and the dropping of the vision to create a ‘Top 10 London destination’, it leaves the Trust with 4 core principles - Health, Enterprise, Culture and Environment. We have no objection to these but we do question any strategy that is not built to address them from a local perspective.

The Trust is in desperate need of a new vision and an agreed and ratified strategy that is built upon the already internationally known and recognised historical cultural legacy of the local area and involves significant input from relevant community expertise.

The Future

Time for a new community vision

As a community we are now entering into a new phase. With WT exposed and healing and reparation now firmly on the table, the challenge will now be how well we rise to the challenge collectively in truth, honesty and unity, to bring into being the changes necessary for a new paradigm in real community development and empowerment.

Since the meeting at the vicarage, following the AGM, a direct line of communication has been established between Alan Brown and Niles Hailstones, which is so far proving to be very conducive.

Alan appears to have a genuine community ethos. So far he has proven to be true to his word and has already delivered significant advancements in a relatively short period of time. They have walked the 23 acres together. W23 are pleasantly surprised at the progress made in a relatively short amount of time.

The new arrival of Alan Brown has created the possibility of a new dialogue, phase and chapter of real local community development and reparatory justice.

However, as certain individuals have shown a disappointing resistance to change, we cannot rest. Truth and justice do not come in the form of superficial handouts, empty promises or smiling new faces.

This is a root and branch process and, as W23 have stated from the beginning, progress must be built on solid foundations that are fit for our future and the future of the next generation.

Getting involved

If you are interested in shaping the Westway area and ensuring that the community gains tangible, sustainable benefit from developments, then you can do this by getting involved in one of Westway23's current sub-groups or keeping up with events through our meetings and networks.

Support the Stables

There is a huge amount of support for the stables Sarah has run within our community for nearly 20 years. If you have not done so already, please sign the petition that demands that the Trust gives the constructive support we have been asking for for so long.

The Westway Documentary & Timeline

Westway23 Chair Niles Hailstones has been working on a full-length documentary film, to present an honest and open account of the 50-year history of the Westway.

In conjunction with this vital work, an interactive Timeline has been started online, in an attempt to give people a wider understanding of how the community has reached this point. This is an interactive community project and if you have any relevant footage or material then please get in touch.

Please contact Niles (Documentary)at onevoicegroup2@gmail.com or Toby (Timeline) at w23events@gmail.com

Neighbourhood Forum & Plan

A Neighbourhood Forum is one way for a community to have an impact on its local area. They are able to write a Neighbourhood Plan, a thorough bottom-up public consultation that can take well over a year and requires a public referendum to be put in place. If successful, it will leave a document with lasting legal powers over any future planning decisions and will be able to protect those aspects of the Westway that are deemed to be particularly important.

Visit these links for details on Neighbourhood Forums & Plans and Localism or contact Toby on W23events@gmail.com for more information.

W23 meetings

Regular meetings take place in the local Ladbroke Grove area - currently at the Venture Centre on Wornington Road. Keep an eye on the W23 Facebook page (see below) or email updates for dates and times.

Next meetings: Wednesday 24th February, 9th & 23rd March, 7-8.30pm Venture Centre, Wornington Road, W10 5YB

Please note, The Venture Centre is yet another legendary community space under threat from development. It also needs our support to ensure its place in the area is preserved and properly valued for future generations.

Community Associations

Community and residents associations play a BIG part in the Westway. For starters, those signed up as WWT members get to vote on WWT resolutions!

Member groups are the community voice within the Westway Trust. Therefore W23 encourage local people to consider joining WWT with a current association or forming their own and joining.

Take a look at the information below or contact CASH-ONLINE for more information and help.

Member Groups

As mentioned, WWT member organisations are supposed to offer a community-based view. However, W23 are concerned that the Trust's communication with those groups has been sorely lacking and that the groups as a whole may not offer either the representation or oversight that is desperately required.

It is vital that all member groups are fully aware of the activities of the Trust and are in a position to act freely and without conflict of interest. We are contacting all groups to make sure this is the case. Please get in touch if we have not already contacted you.

Contact Emzee on onevoicegroup2@gmail.com

Press

Experienced journalist, Daniel Renwick, is our new press officer and will be taking our story wherever it needs to go. If you have any useful press contacts, please send them in. Follow these links, encourage others to read them and post comments.

Email Dan at danielrenwick@gmail.com

Networking

Join or bookmark our Facebook page for group updates, relevant articles and local information.

Watch and share our videos.

Share our story with those who you think will be interested in and/or supportive of W23 activities. We are always looking to link with like-minded individuals and groups around the issues of urban development, local activism, community resistance, social enterprise, progressive environmental thinking, creative purpose....

Thank You for your support and interest, we look forward to giving you more positive news and developments next time round...Westway23

Credits and Contacts

Chair: Niles Hailstones - onevoicegroup2@gmail.com

Group Admin: Emzee Haywoode - onevoicegroup2@gmail.com

Newsletter text: Emzee Haywoode, Niles Hailstones, Toby Laurent Belson

Newsletter design, photography and illustration: Toby Laurent Belson, Zute Lightfoot, RBKC Archives, Stephen Maud, Adam Ritchie, West London Stables, Wyn Baptiste, digital:works, Westway Trust

Let's take our minute's silence for those who came before us...
Created By
Toby LB
Appreciate

Credits:

Toby LB, Westway Trust, RBKC Archives & Various sources

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