Peter Whittle of UKIP has become the most recent London Mayoral Candidate to publicly decry the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre redevelopment plans.
During a twitter Q&A, organised by London Elects, Whittle’s reply to tweets from supporters of the ECAAG (Earls Court Area Action Group) was one of concordance with the majority of mayoral candidates, including Sadiq Khan and Sian Berry of Labour and Green parties respectively.
When asked if his policies would include a review of Earl’s Court development, Whittle replied on Twitter: ‘absolutely, we should let the local people decide.’ He proceeded to post a video on the web in which he clarified his policy to hold referenda concerning all large developments, in order to elucidate localised public opinion.
Earl’s Court and West Kensington was sited as an ‘opportunity area’ for development in July 2011. The ‘Masterplan’ involves clearing an area of 77 acres of land on which currently stand the famous exhibition centre, two council estates which house around 2000 elderly and impoverished residents, and a London Underground depot. The details of the plan began to emerge nearly four years ago. Since then the project, headed by Capital and Countries (Capco), has been one of the most controversial in recent years, permeated by scandalous associations and occurrences. Capco’s completion of a 50:50 joint venture with members of the Kwok family in 2012, one month after two of their number were charged with bribery offences, resulted in a ‘cash consideration of approximately £67m.’
In publicly condemning the Earls Court project Whittle has joined every other leading Mayoral candidate with the exception of Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), who has declined to respond to questions concerning a review of the Earls Court development, despite a petition of over seven thousand signatures.
The ECAAG campaign has continued to gain traction and support from numerous parties of various political leanings. It has become a key issue in the upcoming mayoral election for reasons that range from concerns about public health, to the housing crisis, to ramifications for the economy.