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“A pound shop offering and a one-finger salute to the residents of Kingston” says resident as TOPO development debated at Council

James Giles

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Tensions were high at a meeting of the Kingston Development Control Committee, which saw developers Saint George go against the Kingston Residents Alliance in a continuing battle over the future of the Old Post Office site.

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Over 200 residents attended the meeting, wherein the public gallery had to be extended to three rooms and police were eventually called to turn people away, as an additional 25 people were forced to stand outside the meeting room. Children as young as eight came to oppose the plans.

One local resident, who was forced to stand outside the meeting room, told Coombe Monthly:

‘People are standing up for themselves. We made our way in, in the name of democracy and our rights! My son is 17, and I have seen children as young as eight and ten here tonight.’

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Those in the public gallery opposing the plans included Dame Jacqueline Wilson and local resident and Love Kingston ambassador Tessa Kind, who has been one of the lead campaigners against the proposed development.

Developers described the current site as being ‘an eyesore for far too long, and it is quite frankly embarrassing.’, going on to say that the proposals would ‘reconnect a long-lost piece of the puzzle to Kingston’s Town Centre’.

Ros Morgan, CEO of KingstonFirst, also spoke in favour of the development, saying:

‘There’s no doubt that Kingston is a great place, but this is not enough… Kingston First is supportive of the principles of the Post Office plans. The plans offer the opportunity to invigorate this part of the town, which is long overdue.’

However the Kingston Residents Alliance, which has the backing of 20 organisations who oppose the proposals, including our neighbouring borough of Richmond, spoke fiercely against the proposals.

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Resident after resident sat down in front of the committee and spoke about why they opposed the plans; key points raised by the opposition were affordable housing, the public realm and the sunlight/shade impact.

One resident told the committee:

‘Architecture should be of merit when over 9 stories and should not disrupt view. St George has failed to represent the real concerns of Kingston residents. The revised proposals are insulting. To put it simply, too much is being asked of this site in this proposal.’

The closing statement of one resident received the largest applause and cheer of the evening from the gallery. He told the committee:

‘I’m appalled and saddened that this pound shop offering has been put before the council. It is called a gateway, to what? West Croydon? The development offers nothing than a ‘one finger salute to the residents of Kingston.’

You can catch our full summary of events, live as it happened, here: http://coombemonthlycouk.ipage.com/live-kingston-development-control-committee/

Later today, Coombe Monthly will also be publishing our photographs taken of the model developers have been moving around town during the consultation.

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

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Stop cuts to schools and special needs children

James Giles

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The Council last night (7th February) passed the ‘SEND Transformation Plan’, despite local residents making clear that they had not been properly consulted.

The plans, which include raiding a potential £5 million from the budgets of mainstream schools, were put out to consultation over the Christmas Holidays, which resulted in a response rate of less than 2% of those with special needs children.

SEND Family Voices, a group who until recently worked with the Council on special needs matters, have described the plans as ‘fantasy’, saying: “The risk of legal challenge is now high; the risk of Tribunal rates going through the roof is also now extremely high. The Plan is unachievable & the savings suggested are completely fabricated.”

If 100 residents sign the ‘call in’ below, the decision is sent to Scrutiny Panel for an investigation.

Please sign to ensure that our schools and special needs children get the education they deserve. We demand better for SEND children.

CALL IN: SEND TRANSFORMATION

We, the undersigned, call in all recommendations from the 'SEND Transformation Plan' from the Childrens and Adults Care and Education Committee for review at Scrutiny Panel for the following reasons:

- Councillors were misled by officers who presented the item, who claimed the consultation was sent to all SEND parents, school governors, publicised on the website and via social media, which is gross distortion of the facts.
- The consultation was not published on Kingston Council's consultation portal until 3rd January, leaving less than three weeks for the public to reply through this forum.
- The 'easy read' consultation was not published until after most schools had broken up.
- The consultation did not meet government guidelines on good consultation.
- Out of Borough schools which have Kingston SEND pupils attending were not consulted on the proposals
- SEND partners and parents were not consulted before the plan was published
- The consultation only had 96 responses. There are 4,000+ CYP with SEND in Kingston - at best, the response rate was 2% and in reality, lower, which suggests there was a major flaw with the way in which consultation was carried out, leaving the Council open to legal challenge.
- The committee wilfully held the authority's constitution in contempt by agreeing to the sending the Written Statement of Action to Ofsted a mere two working days after the committee, despite the constitution being incredibly clear that a decision cannot be fully implemented until expiration of a call-in period.
- The risk of legal challenge is now high; the risk of Tribunal rates going through the roof is also now extremely high.
- The Plan is unachievable & the savings suggested are completely fabricated.

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283 signatures

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