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Sod cutting ceremony stormed by protesters on Lancaster West Estate
PROTESTERS disrupted the ceremony marking the start of a £40million development.
Residents of Grenfell Tower, on the Lancaster West Estate, hurled abuse at council leader, Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell and other officials involved in the sod-cutting ceremony for Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre.
The officials were marking the start of the work to build a new secondary school and leisure centre in North Kensington, which are due to open next year.
Protesters who disrupted the ceremony on Monday, claim the development leaves the neighbouring estates with virtually no green space, and will cause overcrowding and anti-social behaviour.
Kensington and Chelsea Council leader, Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell was joined by councillors and representatives from education charity the Aldridge Foundation, to tour the site of the new Kensington Aldridge Academy and Leisure Centre.
They then dug the first turf to begin the development.
Cllr Cockell said: "I am delighted that after years of planning and consultation the works are now under way and in less than two years a brand new academy and leisure centre will be open for business.
"We have very high aspirations for both buildings and believe they are both going to make a positive difference to the lives of North Kensington residents."
However expletive ridden shouts and cries of 'go back to your mansions you scum' and 'you don't care about the poor' could be heard throughout, from neighbours on the Lancaster West Estate.
Grenfell Action Group spokesman Eddie Daffarn said: "Local residents have been treated in a contemptible manner. The KALC project has been foisted upon us with no account taken of unacceptable levels of noise and pollution.
"We have no access off the estate towards Ladbroke Grove and Portobello Road and we have lost our children's playground. Now we have nowhere to take fresh air or walk our dogs. Had Merrick Cockell tried this number on in the affluent south of the borough he would have had his backside kicked."
In defence of the development, Labour opposition leader, Councillor Judith Blakeman, said: "When the Lancaster West Estate was built it was a massive inconvenience to many local residents over a much longer period of time than the two years anticipated for the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre development.
"Similarly, late in 2014, residents of North Kensington will have a desperately needed brand new secondary school for their children, who will no longer have to travel outside the borough.
"There will be a new leisure centre and larger cafe, new windows for Verity Close, new social rented homes for vulnerable families, new windows and heating at Grenfell Tower, a better-sited, well-equipped playground and greatly improved nursery for the Grenfell Under Fives, a new home for the boxing club that will meet Amateur Boxing Association recommended standards; a much-improved environment around the base of Grenfell Tower, a more secure pathway across the estate that will be well lit, and improvements to the garages beside Grenfell Tower."
Both new buildings are due to open in 2014.
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