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Leeds City Council suppresses report into PFI consultation

Bifo | 06.03.2006 15:29 | Free Spaces | Social Struggles

Anger amongst residents as an independent report into how they have been consulted over planned demolition of parts of Little London estate is suppressed.

Housing officers at Leeds City Council are so far refusing to allow the official tenants and residents association of Little London estate to see an independent report detailing how the Council conducted its recent consultation in February about a proposed £85m PFI regeneration scheme in the area. The revelations came at last Tuesday's (28 February) open public meeting of Little London Tenants and Residents Association from independent consultants, Banks of the Wear, who have been employed by Leeds City Council to act as 'independent residents advisor' during the consultation period.

Apologising to tenants and residents present, the company explained that "we would have liked to have come here tonight with the findings of our report for you, but we are currently not able to do so". The consultants added that they were convinced that the report "would be made available soon - there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to see it".

Rumours are now circulating that the reason the report has been suppressed is that it contains criticisms of the way Leeds City Council has handled the consultation process. This suspicion was only fuelled by the stories residents recounted of shocking abuses of the so-called 'consultation exercise' in which Council housing officers visited each home on the estate and canvassed opinion on whether people wanted the Comprehensive Regeneration Option - the PFI scheme - or the Decent Homes Option.

The meeting heard allegations of emotional blackmail, misleading information about whether tenants will be able to return to the estate once regeneration is complete and deliberate attempts to lead tenants to choose the PFI scheme over the Decent Homes. Some residents were even stopped from putting up an 'alternative exhibition' of how PFI would destroy the Little London community alongside the Council's propaganda during the consultation. Strangely, Banks of the Wear said this was "the first we have heard of such allegations".