CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

There is too much council secrecy

09 November, 2017

• YOUR article (Dugald digging for the truth, One week with John Gulliver, November 2) is yet another example of a Camden citizen trying to lift the veil of secrecy over council affairs.

John Gulliver warned Camden’s chief executive: “Take serious note of the letter sent by Mr Dugald Gonsal requesting documents under Freedom of Information regarding a ‘bungled contract’ losing the council £2.5million.”

Readers may recall the public promise of the new council leader some four months ago to hold a fully transparent and public inquiry into the Chalcots affair.

All residents know is what they read in the New Journal and the reports of the splendid remedial work being carried out in the Camden magazine; nothing about why it was necessary in the first place.

We do know, I think, that the cost has been more than £20million to date and that is before the cladding is removed.

What is taking so long to set up the inquiry that needs to centre on the botched refurbishment completed only five years ago that led to the mass evacuation in June?

The smell of “cover up” is getting stronger. But this is by no means the only affair that is being hidden from residents.

The firm Rydon associated with both Grenfell and the Chalcots mysteriously disappeared from Gospel Oak where it had considerable ongoing contracts, we understand, one Friday night. Why, and what are the consequences for the local regeneration programme?

Following the “resignation” of the previous council leader (an event itself surrounded in secrecy as the New Journal reported) the new leader and some of her senior cabinet colleagues openly promised transparency and greater citizen involvement in the work of the council. We are not holding our breath.

In a little over six months residents will have the opportunity of assessing the performance of their councillors on their local issues. Without the New Journal we would be deprived of the necessary information to make this assessment.

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