Conservative Big society guru Phillip Blond slams Battersea estate as conditions as from "Soviet-era"
David Cameron's big society advisor has blasted the council, branding conditions in a housing estate as "Soviet-era care."
Phillip Blond, director of think tank ResPublica, launched the scathing attack on Twitter after a tour of the Surrey Lane, Winstanley and York Road estates alongside professor Jane Wills, human geography academic at Queen Mary University.
They were invited by community group Surrey Lane People's Organisation (SLPO) to witness members formally applying to become a Neighbourhood Forum.
The group, alongside the Greater Winstanley People's Organisation (GWPO), want to have more control over planning in the area under the new Localism Act 2011.
Wandsworth Council 'holds residents in contempt'
Mr Blond, a trustee of the Citizens UK movement, was so shocked at the state of council housing conditions he urged the community groups to apply to gain independence from the council.
He tweeted: "Genuinely shocked at the state of Wandsworth council stock, residents talk of council taking years not to paint a wall.
"Seen some appalling conditions in Wandsworth's council housing - looks like soviet era care.
"We need to create a policy option for Wandsworth Council estates to parish out and escape the council who clearly hold them in contempt."
Simon Butler, Vicar of St Mary's Church, in Battersea Church Lane, said: "Jane and Phillip were clearly inspired by what they saw of SLPO and the work that's going on and, in turn, they inspired me.
Carol Scott, chairman of Fraser and Wigram residents association, said: "Phillip Blond's speech was enlightening and ratified my thoughts that the SLPO can choose their own destiny."
Council "prepared to commit up to £100m" for changes
A spokesman for the council said: "A recent survey of the Winstanley and York Road estates revealed many people feel that the area has been improving, with the majority of residents liking their homes and living in this part of Battersea.
"We want to help bring about more positive changes in the area and are prepared to commit up to £100m to help achieve this as part of the Winstanley and York Road regeneration project.
"We are working with local people to create an area that all residents are proud to call home - and it is important that everyone living on the estates continues to have opportunities to have their say as the project progresses."
In recent years the Winstanley estate, in particular, has been plagued with social problems and criminal activity.
Murders, shootings, Samurai sword attacks and kidnappings have all been recorded in the last five years.
Unrepaired lifts, graffiti and anti-social behaviour have been common themes but additional factors, such as the closure of a sex clinic and a zero tolerance cannabis approach by police, have also contributed.
"Best days coming soon"?
Last year the council announced it will be spending millions on improving the area, while the National Lottery has also granted £1m funding.
Councillor Tony Belton, who represents Latchmere ward (Labour), said: “It was good of Mr Blond to see the situation for himself and of course we agree that the Winstanley has been neglected by the council for many years.
“However, I wish he had been on the estate last Saturday, when hundreds of local people came together for a Fun Day at York Gardens Library to discuss how the local area can be improved.
"There were some great ideas and the sense of community was fantastic - helped by the candyfloss machine and bouncy castle.
“The National Lottery has earmarked money for the estate and I am very pleased the council is lining up major investment.
"Yes, there are serious issues on the Winstanley estate, but its best days are coming soon.”