The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was branded “morally corrupt” in its own backyard during a debate over Marlborough School.
Campaigner Jane Solomon said it was “colluding with developers” and “hell-bent on swelling its cash reserves” as she addressed town hall denizens at a full council meeting on October 14.
However, it could be the last time a petition of this size will be discussed in council meetings.
Under current procedures when a petition of a certain size is handed into council, it can be debated for up to 15 minutes with someone from the petition addressing the council for five minutes, as happened in this instance.
But the council is now looking to review the petition process, leading to fears it will be axed and accusations it is running scared.
K&C again defended the decision to rebuild Marlborough and said the petitions review would look at improving the way they are handled.
During her speech, Ms Solomon spoke of the conflict of interest that was raised in Private Eye earlier in the month, and criticised the council for going ahead with the demolition after it emerged it did not have all the required planning consent . She called the subsequent consultation “ludicrous and undemocratic since it occurs alongside demolition, too late for our objections to count”.
But it was in her closing statement that the Marlborough mother let rip at the council.
She said: “The iconic Marlborough School has been part of our neighbourhood for 137 years.
"It is appalling that, having survived two world wars, the destruction of this building should finally come at the hands of a morally-corrupt Council; a council colluding with developers and hell-bent on swelling its cash reserves at the expense of our heritage and our children’s playgrounds, to the blatant disregard of tax-paying residents.
“However, egos, lies and fat bank accounts aside, let us not forget the fact of the matter which is that Marlborough School, the earliest and arguably finest example of a Victorian Board School in this borough, could and should, outlive everyone here in this room today.”
Later in the same meeting, the review of petitions procedure was also discussed.
But Labour group opposition leader Robert Atkinson called the move “undemocratic and unhelpful”.
Atkinson said it was part of Tory administration plans to reduce the annual number of full council meetings and the length of the meetings from three to two hours: “The procedure of reviewing petitions is being reviewed but our concern is they are going to end it.
"It would be very sad because it’s been very successful, it’s a means by which residents can influence the council.”
He spoke of packed public galleries at meetings and said: “It seems perverse that something that has appealed to public interest won’t be allowed to happen in the future.
"They’re gagging the opposition parties but also gagging their residents.
“Tory councillors are frightened to face their residents, frightened to debate with Labour and frightened to be accountable to electors.”
A K&C spokesperson said the school will continued to serve the community as it has done over the years. He said: “It will do so in a new building with fifty per cent more teaching space and indeed 70 per cent more outdoor play space.”
And addressing the petitions review, he added: “It is likely that the scheme will be reviewed in the near future to ensure that the Council continues to handle the petitions it receives in a timely and appropriate way.”
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