Southall Gasworks Meeting: Where is Council Support for Residents?

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Councillors and stakeholders face angry residents

SOUTHALL: On 10 July at the request of residents concerned about levels of air pollution and the implications for the health of people living near the contaminated Gasworks site, the Dominion Centre Southall hosted a meeting with a panel of local councillors and officers together with representatives of the developer, Berkeley Homes, the Environment Agency and Public Health England (PHE). A full length video of proceedings (1 hour 30 mins) is available.

From the outset development of the site was highly controversial. There were strong objections from residents, and Ealing Council refused planning permission, a decision subsequently overturned by Boris Johnson, the then Mayor. The fact of air pollution arising from the soil remediation process was not in dispute at the meeting attended by more than 200 residents. At issue was the way in which resident concerns have been dealt with over the last two and a half years.

Julian Bell, the Council Leader, recounted action taken by the Council, including calling in Public Health England (PHE) to provide an independent assessment of the results of pollution monitoring by the developer. The PHE representatives sought to reassure residents, but a catalogue of broken promises (including the failure to provide promised in-home air monitoring devices and to prevent waste being transported through residential streets amongst others) and the high incidence of respiratory and other health problems, particularly among children, that have coincided with the soil remediation has created a chasm of mistrust that made for an angry meeting.

Apart from Council Leader, Julian Bell, who gave an introductory speech, and Peter Mason, the Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Transformation, who chaired the meeting, councillors from Southall Green and Southall Broadway said nothing, and the meeting finished without any indication of next steps. The community group Clean Air for Southall and Hayes (CASH) is now planning to take the developer and Ealing Council to court and have launched a crowd-funding campaign to help with legal costs.