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VIPs turn out for Battersea Power Station ceremony but Wandsworth Guardian not invited

Prime Minister David Cameron, his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak and Boris Johnson were among a stellar line up of VIP guests at the official ground breaking ceremony at Battersea Power Station yesterday.

Wandsworth Guardian: PCS protesters outside the power station PCS protesters outside the power station

The trio of political heavyweights were joined by hundreds of dignitaries such as the presidents of SP Setia and Sime Darby, the two companies who bought the site last summer, and Rob Tincknell CEO of Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC).

Journalists from virtually every national and global newspapers were present yet the Wandsworth Guardian, who represent the views of local people, was not invited and, like its rival the South London Press, was deemed "not important enough" by the BPSDC to be part of the celebrations.

At one point a burly security guard even tried to pathetically pretend there was no ceremony at all, even though every arriving guest had an invite, and that David Cameron was not attending, even though he was already on site.

Once the VIP guests, including reporters from the Telegraph, Guardian and Times, began to arrive so did a phalanx of campaigners from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

Wandsworth Guardian: PCS protesters outside the power station PCS protesters outside the power station

VIP guests who arrived in taxis had to be quickly ushered passed the loud and lively protesters by embarrassed organisers who had clearly tried to keep the Prime Minister's presence a secret.

Cathy Cook, London campaign manager for PCS, said: "At a time when the country is in economic crisis the Prime Minister prioritising a meeting about luxury penthouse flats is a disgrace.

"What we think is even more of a disgrace is that the local press were denied access to this meeting today.

"The local press has a major interest in what is going in its locality and its readership will be interested to know that their journalist was not allowed in despite the fact that national press are allowed in.

"We are a union that represents more than 260,000 members in civil and public services, including local government.

"Our members' jobs are being cut on a weekly basis, at a time when we say the way to get out of recession is not to cut jobs and public services."

The redevelopment of the 39-acre site will lead to the creation of 3,500 luxury new homes, shops, cafés, restaurants and offices and the fully restored Grade II* listed Power Station.

The site will be served by a new Tube station and connections to the river bus service.

Despite promises from the Prime Minister that the development will rejuvenate a run down area of Wandsworth, many local people are concerned how they will benefit.

Within the first six months virtually all of the homes in the Circle West, the first phase of the site, sold, generating more than £600m.

But with the price of reserving a property, not including a deposit, costing £2,500 the vast majority of Wandsworth residents have been priced out.

With so much of the site's investment being financed by foreign companies, further concerns have also been raised about how many local people will be able to work on the project.

This week a hundred community leaders descended on the Nine Elms development area to demand local workers, apprentices and companies be involved.



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