Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News and Other Busyness

What Is It With Grocers’ Daughters?

Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 12.

FOLLOWING A SIX-YEAR INVESTIGATION District Auditor John Magill has imposed a £31m penalty for gerrymandering on Shirley Porter and five other Westminster Councillors for their roles in the ‘homes for votes’ scandal in the borough (see Squall 8 for a full account).

Porter’s obsession with keeping Westminster Tory whatever the cost is clearly revealed in a letter she wrote to Thatcher in December 1986: “We must protect our electoral position which is being seriously eroded by the number of homeless that we have been forced to house...”

The belief that ridding Westminster of the “homeless/ down and outs who are not our natural supporters” would ensure Tory re-election in the borough led her to implement a ‘designated sales’ policy to ‘export’ homeless families from eight key wards and sell off council houses in order to replace them with potential Tory-voting home-owners.

In a document sent to senior Westminster Tories in 1986 Porter advised them to “test the law to its limits” in order to move homeless people out of the borough. She requested: “When you’ve read these would be helpful if you swallow them in good spy fashion otherwise they might self-destruct!!”

As a further incentive to vote Tory the new Westminster tenants received no bills for maintenance and repairs. This, in conjunction with the designated sales policy is now estimated to have cost the borough at least £31m. The list of misdemeanours under investigation also included the housing of homeless people in asbestos-ridden council tower blocks.

Magill’s report covers the designated sales policy for the years from 1986 to 1989. However his report suggests that gerrymandering in other council departments continued until 1994. If this is the case the payback figure could rise to between £70m and £80m (not including the legal costs of her appeal).

Lest we forget… Dr Michael Dutt, one of the 10 council officials originally implicated in Magill’s investigations, committed suicide when his involvement in Porter’s corrupt reign was uncovered.

Sunday Business (19/05/96) has suggested that Porter has already begun moving her assets around so they will be harder to find when its time to foot the bill. Dame Porter maintains: “I have done nothing wrong, nothing illegal and nothing improper. I shall fight for my good name.”


Hermes and Chantry Points Elgin Estate London W9

Did you ever live in Hermes or Chantry Points on the Elgin Estate, London W9? Maybe you lived in a squat there? If so, please read on.

Since 22 March 1996 Westminster City Council has been writing to everyone who is known to have lived in the Points. If you have not yet heard from us, please contact Helena Shore at the City Council on 0171 798 2633. When you phone please have ready some basic details, such as which flat you lived in, when you were there, and who else lived with you.

We will then send you a copy of the letter, which contains information on asbestos which was present in the Points during the time you were there.

Bill Roots
Chief Executive and Director of Finance
Westminster City Council
City Hall
64 Victoria Street