I was in the Victoria Hall segregated audience for the performance of the tragicomedy Dickens Yard - Planning Committee Meeting, held on November 5, 2008 in Ealing Town Hall.
Proceedings opened with the chairman outlining the evening's events, including a warning that anyone causing a disturbance of any kind would be immediately ejected.
This point was reinforced by the presence of several members of the police in the building. Is it normal for the police to be present on these occasions?
The chairman then handed over to a lady from the council's planning department, who rambled and mumbled her way through a long list of points that seemed to suggest, from what I could understand, the council was largely in favour of the project.
It was surely odd that at a meeting where a decision for or against be reached at the end, that the council should appear to be so in favour of the proposals from the outset.
There followed a number of speak-ers from the floor. Those in favour of the development were for the most part inarticulate, incoherent and concerned mainly with what business opportunities it offered.
Those against spoke well, had correctly marshalled their facts, delivered them concisely and, while agreeing
that the centre of Ealing needed revitalising, were concerned with the damaging effect that this scheme would have.
Unfortunately, the cards were stacked against the good guys and the decision when it came surprised no one.
The whole consultation process has been a charade from the start, with the outcome a foregone conclusion. The council has shown total contempt for the views of the electorate's objections and should be ashamed.
This final committee meeting with the public allowed in only as impotent spectators was a cowardly and inept ploy to assuage the feelings of the objectors and to avoid any confrontation that might expose the real depth of opposition to the project.
Can I suggest a video of the proceedings be released for the public to allow them to see the shambolic way the council conducts its business, and that when the project is completed, and it can be seen for the disaster it will undoubtedly be, a plaque is sited prominently at street level bearing the names of the planning committee responsible.