Sunday, 3 March 2019

Tidemill security costs in full

As the trees in Tidemill Garden were trashed last week, following the conclusion of the final stages of the judicial review and the handing over of the site to developer Peabody, Lewisham Council revealed that the eviction and subsequent months of 24-hour security had cost the council a total of almost £1.4 million.

This information came in response to a public question at last week's council meeting. In his written reply, councillor Paul Bell, the cabinet member with responsibility for housing, stated that the council had 'expected that any ongoing security would be very short-term'. Whatever advice - if any - they were acting on was ill-considered, perhaps even negligent.

As many observers (myself included) stated at the time, the council acted impetuously and without considering the potential consequences. Yet it was obvious to anyone who stopped and gave it more than a moment's thought.

Once the eviction had been carried out, the council found themselves in the expensive position of being obliged to pay for 24 hour security around the perimeter of the site to prevent it from being occupied again. With legal procedures still under way, they were not able to start clearing the site until the final judgement was delivered.

Hence the council confirmed it has spent £1,372,890 on securing the Tidemill site since 29 October - a sum that no doubt will have to be found from elsewhere in the council's already stretched budget. A cost that could have been avoided if our elected members and their paid officials had given it more than a moment's thought.

During the eviction, questions were raised about the behaviour of some of the staff from County Enforcement, the private firm hired by Lewisham to carry out the eviction and provide 24-hour security. They covered their faces with masks, did not display proper ID, and were even witnessed assaulting members of the public. Reports of such behaviour did not raise any eyebrows at the council - none of them were present that day, after all, so it was clearly easily dismissed as hysteria and/or fabrication.

The council had to be presented with incontrovertible evidence in order to take the claims more seriously - and this proved to be the firm's website - which boasts about its strike-breaking activities.
Bell has now confirmed that he has asked for County to be replaced and council procurement procedures to be reviewed, since the company 'does not fit' with the values of the council.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... seems low, given the anecdotal evidence suggesting the County staff were being paid £15/£25 an hour for day/night shifts.

Ann Mead said...

The site was Lewisham Council property. It was occupied without permission by self-appointed protesters.

Those protesters don't represent Deptford, and in many cases don't come from Deptford. They are often middle class anarchists having a lark at our expense.

The middle class anarchists and their NIMBY protester friends, some of whom live in neighbouring properties and are concerned about the view from their windows, could have left without a police and bailiff operation, and they could have stayed away.

Unlike the councillors, these middle class anarchists and their NIMBY friends don't have a mandate of any kind telling them what to do.

But they chose to protest. This has cost the rest of us all this money. The protesters and their NIMBY friends are responsible for this.

Anonymous said...

Umm I think they chose to protest to protect a community asset and a space that people hold dear. The idea its the protesters fault is a false and lazy one. Also not sure what class has to do with (a mix of people had been involved from within the community) it again is a lazy argument.
People have a right to protest when they feel they have been wronged. Blaming protesters is the wrong way to think in this case, people felt it was all they could do after years of not being listened to.

The whole process by the developer and council could have been handled much better. It's a really good example of how not to listen to locals and engage with concerns and adapt plans accordingly. The amount of pr bullsh*t from Lewisham and the developer is amazing and frankly shocking how its been handled. Lewisham is not flush with money think how it could have been spent. It's sad as the development could have been so much more.
Lewisham declared a climate emergency last week.. . The irony is not lost.

Deptford Dame said...

@ann mead whatever you think of the protestors it was the council's poor judgement that ramped the cost to ridiculous levels. If they had waited for the legal process to be concluded then they could have cleared the site in a day and handed it over to the developer. Instead they acted in haste and felt duty-bound to guard it for four months.
As for the campaigners, just as many of them were long-term Deptford residents as were not, although I'm not sure what relevance that has. It's also worth remembering that they were never opposed to the redevelopment of the site, they just wanted the community garden to be retained as part of the new development, and put they put a lot of time and effort into demonstrating that it was possible.

Ann Mead said...

The council developed plans and then consulted with the public, and they didn't do anything illegal.

But the protesters occupied the site illegally and then fought with police and bailiffs when they had to be kicked out. Protesters have been arrested for their violent and obstructive behavior.

some of the NIMBY protesters are still occupying public land and creating a health hazard, but the council now has to spend more of our money to get rid of them.

The anti-Tidemill campaign seems unpopular and unaccountable. When it holds a protest it puts about 10 people on the streets. Some of these are hardcore anarchists from Class War, who bring violence with them.

When the anti-Tidemill protesters raise money where does that money go? They are not transparent with what they spend or who is accountable.

Meanwhile our councillors want to build homes to tackle the housing problem. These are the same councillors who have kicked out the Home Office officials and made Lewisham a sanctuary borough for refugees.

And the same councillors who fight racism by protecting Jews through adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and have stood right behind HIV+ people with a call for better treatment.

The anti-Tidemill protesters let out audible groans of disapproval when councillors said they backed Jews against racists.

I know I'd rather have responsible and socially progressive councillors over unelected self-appointed protesters who seem to have attracted violent and now antisemitic support. These anti-Tidemill NIMBYs really do not represent Deptford at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh yawn! Why bother with the facts when an opinion will do. It doesn't matter that the squatters renegged on an agreement with Lewisham council to vacate the site once work was due to commence. Lets ignore the fact that they did all their trespassing, vandalism and loutery at the publics expence. Who cares if their look at me posture politics was as empty as their rhetoric. They took a populist stance,thats what counts. Keep your irony and your fake ire.

Anonymous said...

Spunking £1.4 million up the wall to sell off public land to private developers is ridiculous regardless of what you feel about the protestors.

Ann Mead said...


In the real world, responsible adults plan to build social housing to help tackle Lewisham's housing problem.

In the real world adult councillors work for more homes, work to protect refugees from the racist Home Office, work to keep Jews safe from racists and work to support HIV+ people.

But the selfish choice of anti-Tidemill protesters (who were not voted for by Deptford and have no mandate) to break the law and bring violence to the streets and intimidation online has cost us all £1.24 million. If these NIMBY protesters had followed the process none of that money would have been wasted.

Here's an image of the protest to focus on: imagine a toy making a long arc ouf of a pram, and heading for the floor.

That's what the protest is. And in the nursery the worst that could happen is some spilt milk.

Meanwhile, in the real world that protest has cost us all £1.24m.

Andrew said...

Where was the above an opinion?
So squatters aside, you find no irony in an urban habitat being destroyed whilst at the same time a community garden that brings social well being and community spirit as well as a benefit of green space whilst a few days later declaring a climate emergency not hypocrisy to the extreme. That is an interesting view point!
Hit me with some facts then and let's discus. It's a big issue housing, but at what cost for The future in the communities in which we live? What gets left behind? And who is accountable? All I am saying is all these developers could give a bit more care to the community in which they build, they easily can afford to instead of paying lip service and using pr to sell how sustainable they are! We can all do better.

Andrew said...

But it's not really social housing is it, not in the classic sense. It's 'affordable' rent, not social rent. Two very different things and very different to what was there.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Moore, facts? Start by Re read my previous post. I'd rather not walk adult males through basic comprehension tasks.

Perhaps you didn't notice that Tidemill Gardens hasn't been a 'public asset' for some time. Well I did, it wasn't hard. So I think I'll leave the hypothetics about the public utility of privately owned land to the arm chair philosophers. Good luck with keeping the squatters out of your equation by the way!

Now for some opinion. All this environmental activism guff is just thinly disguised class warfare. If you put down your communist manifesto every once in a while you might notice Deptford is bordered by its biggest natural asset (on two sides). You want to foster community engagement with green spaces. Tell your comrades to fill their lungs with H20 air instead of blowing hot CO2!

Chris said...

Late to this, but what cretin on the council gave the security contract to a firm that boasts about serving union officials with injunctions? The company also claims (incorrectly) it's actions ended the minors (sic) strike.

Has Grayling got a second job in Lewisham?