MIPIM Developers Conference at Olympia: SOH and social housing protesters test police
It was a busy start to the first MIPIM property developers' conference to be held in London. Protesters from a wide variety of social housing groups, ailment anti-Earls Court redevelopment and, rx of course, Save Our Hospitals assembled in front of the main entrance from 9am. We were told after 10.30 that Boris Johnson had bicycled over to the exhibition hall and had come in by a back door.
At times very squashed on the pavement and closely watched by the police, demonstrators carried long banners and speakers used a loud hailer. After an attempt by a protester to force an entrance the police decided to lock down the entrance.
Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith Council and Andy Slaughter, MP were both there, and both spoke to the crowd and gave interviews to BBC and other news media.
Save Our Hospitals representatives, including some with full patient "warpaint" kindly supplied by Caroline Jupp, were interviewed by BBC News, ITV and the Guardian. The Guardian and the Evening Standard both covered it on line.
We enjoyed ourselves at this colourful and effective protest, which broke up at about 11.30.
And see this piece on Londonlive:
Merril Hammer, Chair of Save Our Hospitals, said:
While our local council is represented inside this building, it is there with a different aim from most exhibitors. They have placards saying things like "Homes for residents, not overseas investors", "Tackling London's affordable housing crisis", "Putting residents first" and, significantly for our campaign, "Save Charing Cross hospital". How has this happened?
Prior to the local elections on 22nd May this year there was a Tory council, a Tory council which had decided to go along with cuts and closures to our two local hospitals - not just any Tory council but David Cameron's favourite local council - the "Tory Flagship Borough". On 23rd May that flagship was sunk - and sunk largely by our Save Our Hospitals campaign. The hole amidships was the result of a non-party political campaign where we asked local people to vote for any parties which supported us in our campaign to stop the closures to our local hospitals. We were successful - with an 8% swing away from the Tories and 11 seats going to Labour. The previous Tory administration had committed to the MIPIM fair - unable to withdraw, the new administration has taken this opportunity to use the stall to publicize our campaign and local issues - and we commend them for this!
But why is a property fair of such concern to a Save Our Hospitals campaign?
Well, inside Olympia developers are holding an entire session on "Exploring healthcare - opportunities for the property industry"! So now our healthcare is an "opportunity" for rapacious developers!! But you can see why this might be the case. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, responsible for 5 hospitals in west London, plans to sell off 55% of the Charing Cross site, 45% of St Mary's and the entire Western Eye hospital to raise a grossly undervalued £270M. That is the opportunity for the property industry!
Selling off our hospital land will affect those most deprived:
- the homeless depend on A&Es for healthcare - in this area 4 of 9 A&Es are to close - indeed 2 have already done so;
- access for the disabled, for parents with children and for the elderly - frail or otherwise - will become more difficult as they have to take longer and more complex journeys for treatment.
Selling off our hospital land will affect local health workers:
- building luxury apartments will push up local property prices and rents when already key medical staff, including junior doctors and nurses, are leaving London because they cannot afford to live here;
- lower paid staff just can't afford to live here - but increasingly also cannot afford to travel from outer areas to work in inner London.
When NHS property has been sold off, it's gone for good!
Reducing hospital beds when there is high population growth with more development already planned, is not good for local people - we need public health facilities. ONLY PROPERTY DEVELOPERS WILL GAIN FROM THESE SALES.
Please check our website - google Save Our Hospitals.
Public health provision is surely more important than developers' profits.