By Sahaya James, University of the Arts SU Campaigns Officer and Clarion editor
Southwark council’s planning committee’s rejection of the Delancey and UAL plan for redevelopment in Elephant and Castle was undoubtedly a victory and testament to what can be achieved when workers, students and the community come together and take action. However until the planning committee meets on the 30th to decide on the reasons for refusal we can’t celebrate the defeat of these disastrous plans.
Every pressure will be placed on the councillors to sell out, skirt around the issues and tone down the reason for refusal until all that’s left is a wet excuse for a critique. If this happens before we know it Delancey will be back with a proposal so subtly amended you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d just recycled the plan which was voted down.
Imagine what could be achieved if ahead of the 30th UAL came out with a statement committing to never again be part of a plan conceived and pushed through with no transparency or accountability, which undermines and shuts out the community who live and work in the Elephant and which offers anything short of 100% genuine social housing. This is what we must push for.
UAL claims they’ve got the 100% backing of staff (lol) and proved they have no qualms teaming up with a tax evading firm to get their new LCC building while they silently watch it push out working class and BME communities from Elephant and Castle. This is not only absolutely outrageous; it demonstrates just how hollow and meaningless notions such as “social responsibility” are not least to an institution operating under fees and marketisation and reveals the blinding yet predictable hypocrisy of UAL’s overt yet superficial commitments to “social justice” “widening participation” and “diversity” sitting side by with it’s complicity in the social cleansing of Southwark.
This is abhorrent behaviour the kind of which we should take as a given when dealing with managers, which demands accountability and to be revealed for all its sick posturing and lip service, and which we know can only be challenged with disruption and direct action.
• For more background see this article on New Socialist.
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