Hammersmith & FulhamNews

‘Don’t try and claim any credit,’ irate estate residents tell Tory MP Greg Hands


By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

West London veterans have resolved to ‘set the record straight’ after their local Conservative MP claimed he had been ‘continually’ fighting for them to be rehoused amid potential evictions.

Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea and Fulham, has been accused of going ‘missing in action’ while residents at Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions feared they were to lose their homes.

The charity which owns the site, Stoll, recently announced it would ensure no veteran will be made homeless following the sale of the complex to neighbouring Chelsea FC. This followed months of wrangling between residents and Stoll, with some fearing they were going to end up on the streets due to the deal.

Mr Hands, who has been the MP for the area since 2005, distributed a letter dated April 16 to residents at the Mansions in which he wrote he has ‘continually sought assurances’ from Stoll that they will be rehoused locally.

He added he is ‘very pleased that a solution has been found’, before noting towards the end of the letter that ‘my priority is, and always has been, the wellbeing of veterans at Stoll’.

Mr Hands’ letter has, however, evoked a strong response from some of those living in the Mansions. An email sent to the MP expresses ‘profound disappointment and distress regarding some of the claims made therein, which do not accurately reflect the reality of our situation’.

The email continues to note that for over two years, the author, who wishes to remain anonymous, does not recall any instance when Mr Hands met with residents to discuss their efforts.

“While you may have ambled around distributing party political flyers within SOSM (Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions), it is essential to note that many residents, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, felt they lacked meaningful engagement from you during a critical time.”

The resident added they have reached out to Mr Hands on numerous occasions, with more than 15 emails sent, receiving ‘no substantive feedback’.

“Although I don’t want to hear from you again, I hope your future communications will more accurately reflect the realities of your interactions with our community.”

The Sir Oswald Stoll estate (Picture: LDRS)

Another veteran living at Stoll, Rod Hood, said he was ‘shocked’ to receive the letter from Mr Hands. He said: “As the vice chair of the Stoll Residents’ Association, (at the time) Mr Hands visited us on one occasion, then his interaction with us was very limited. For him to send this letter is a disgrace to people who have worked tirelessly for a good outcome for the residents of Stoll at the Fulham site.”

Also included in the email sent to the Tory MP was a wish to ‘set the record straight’. The veteran wrote that rather than Mr Hands, it was Cllr Ben Coleman, deputy leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council and Labour parliamentary candidate for Chelsea and Fulham, who provided ‘the most consistent and effective support’ during the campaign.

Cllr Coleman said: “I’m honoured to have championed the vets during several meetings with Stoll and Chelsea’s senior teams. I asked Chelsea to suspend the deal until Stoll agreed not to make any veterans homeless and to keep the community together at a new site in Fulham where they belong.

“I’m grateful for Chelsea’s support and delighted to have helped achieve this concrete result. I’m now focusing on ensuring the promises to the veterans are delivered.”

The sale of the majority of the site to Chelsea FC was completed earlier this month. Stoll also confirmed it was in the final stages of purchasing 128 affordable homes in the Kings Road Park estate, with the hope residents can start moving to between January and June next year.

Mr Hands has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: MP Greg Hands and the letter which has drawn a frosty response from some residents (Pictures: UK Parliament/LDRS)


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