Westminster leader calls for developers to 'wake up' over possible impact of Labour deselections

The leader of Westminster City Council has warned that the deselection of Labour Party councillors and their replacement with 'very left wing candidates' could have a major impact on regeneration schemes in the capital.

Polls: local elections to be held in London next May
Polls: local elections to be held in London next May

Speaking yesterday at the MIPIM UK property conference in London, councillor Nickie Aiken, the Conservative leader of Westminster City Council, said that the political makeup of London could see a significant shift to the left following next May’s local elections.

She said: "We all know that [these are] going to be very difficult elections for the Conservatives in London, but it’s not so much what happens to the Conservative Party, I’m more concerned about what’s happening within the Labour Party at the moment".

She said that there is a "move to oust" many local Labour politicians, including council leaders.

Aiken highlighted a story in yesterday's Evening Standard which suggested that the Labour leader of the London Borough of Haringey could be ousted by her local party over an estate regeneration scheme.

Aiken said that she had also "concerns" about the London Borough of Camden where "very good local councillors are being deselected for very, very left wing candidates instead".

Aiken also flagged up political wrangling over an estate regeneration scheme at Ebury Bridge in Westminster which she said was being opposed by Labour members.

"I have social tenants begging me to continue with this regeneration because they are in overcrowded homes and the Labour Party are fighting it [and] backing the leaseholders, many of whom are sitting on a million pound property".

"It’s pathetic politics in my mind and I am determined to drive this through", she said.

Aiken said that the Labour Party had to "wake up", but also the development industry "has got to wake up about what they could be dealing with this time next year, and if they think that I’m a problem, they ain’t seen nothing yet."

Speaking at the same session, Geoff Pearce, executive director of regeneration and development at Swan Housing Association, said that many in the Labour Party believed that "regeneration equals gentrification".

He said that this did not have to be these case, and pointed to regeneration schemes where social homes demolished to make for such developments were replaced, or previous social housing numbers were increased.

"We need to make sure that we put back as much social housing as we take away", he said.

Pearce said that to "play political football" with estate regeneration was "not very helpful".

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