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Letter to Edward Davey MP

10 years ago...

FOR THE ATTENTION OF:

Edward Davey MP
Kingston and Surbiton

Saturday 9 May 2009
Richard Maggs
Ravens Ait
Surbition
Surrey
KT6 4HN

07930546149

Dear Edward Davey,

My name is Richard Maggs and I was one of the Project Managers brought in to ensure that the project to save Ravens Ait from being sold by Kingston Council and see this wonderful facility opened as a community center.

As I know you'll be aware - although possibly not involved in (I don't know how much you get involved) we were 'forcibly evicted' last week.

Now this as you'll find out was the last thing that needed to happen as Jerry Sevenoaks (Head of Strategic Services) knew our position from the outset and that was we would leave within 6 to 8 weeks as our 'job' was to open the Island up to as many residents as possible and submit our proposal.

Both Jerry Sevenoaks and Mick Mills visited the Island the day before the costly eviction happened and were quite happy (it seemed) with us handing back the Island by May 16th. Now although this was not a date agreed upon - this was the date both men knew we would be leaving.

The reason I am writing to you is because I would like some answers to why it was deemed appropriate to spend in the region of £300,000 on a eviction plus the huge cost of securing the island afterward when it was public knowledge that we - the local residents of the Borough were to leave within a set/agreed upon date.

Now I am not sure if Jerry Sevenoaks was at all transparent with the Councilors and indeed yourself (if you were involved) as it seems to me he probably was not considering what happened and maybe you can get to the bottom of this?

Apparently our country is in one hell of a financial mess so I cant for the life of me work out how public servants can justify spending what could end up being millions on evicting the very people who are trying to 'save our island' and ensure that there is a country for our children and indeed grandchildren to grow up in.

Kingston Upon Thames and surrounding areas needs community space and that is what The House of Lords directed the then Council (1989) to use Ravens Ait for.

Forget for the moment that Ravens Ait is common land (because tbh thats a huge grey area!) and just think of what £300,000 of public money could have done instead.

We had almost 4000 visitors in under 9 weeks who came to the Island to see what the future could be. The majority of these people (including myself) had never been to the island before. None of us knew its history nor that prior to Kingston Council taking over the management (after the collapse of the Greater London Council)or that The House of Lords had 'ordered' Ravens Ait to be used for Education and Community Purposes.

Now I understand that the way in which the local residents of the Borough enabled a blueprint for a public future of the island may not have been 'correct' in the eyes of many people but it was the only way the issue of the future of this public space would ever have been put in the hands of local residents.

As our MP I am hoping that you are able to do something to ensure that our money gets spent in the right way. As we have shown over 9 weeks it does not cost the earth to open public spaces and create community centers to be enjoyed by all and I hope that you understand the importance of Ravens Ait in the future of our Borough.

How many people will benefit from what we have proposed and are working so hard for? 10? 20? 50,000? more?

We did not have that many visitors to begin with as we were not ready and we working on our legal defense (which was squashed as if we had got into court we would still be there) and only opened up the island to all after our right to a proper hearing was denied.

The first major influx of people was 300 people on Mothering Sunday. Since then we saw close to 3000 people some to the Island and would have had over 1000 more visitors last weekend had we not been forced off.

Had we seen the last 2 weeks of our agreed time with Jerry Sevenoaks (not confirmed) then over 5000 local residents and visitors from outside the Borough would have seen what the future could hold for the Island.

The Press coverage was huge - with news of the Island reaching as far as wide as China and Australia. Among the visitors were United Nation Scientists who held talks and presentations about the state of our environment, one of the British Representatives to the G8 and founders of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

You see - we were and indeed are not 'Squatters' but instead are very well connected local residents of Kingston and Surbition. We may not be influential businessmen and women and do not have mountains of personal money but do have access to the type of resources that even to myself - beggars belief.

I can only ask for your intervention in this situation - one that now is costing us the people a fortune and will do up until Ravens Ait comes out of Administration - which could be a long time.

I would ask for a meeting with you to discuss the future of the Island and I understand if you would decline but I do ask of you that you step in and stop such a unnecessary waste of public resources that I know - we the public do not have.

Please take a good look at our proposal which you'll find on our website.

Although lengthy (as you'd expect) and not finished it comes with architectural plans created by Will Sandy a Landscape Architect doing final post graduate piece of work on the 'Future of Raven's Ait' and a in depth chart of what we achieved on the island. (This chart will be updated week by week as we continue our work.)

You'll see from reading this document that we are very serious about our country and that we the people are more than prepared to volunteer our time to ensure that spaces are opened up for community use.

We are professionals in our chosen industry and want to work with people like yourself to see our country prosper for the generations to come.

My son is two next month and I will do (almost) anything to ensure that he has a good future. I don't know if you have children but I am sure you understand where I am coming from as you have given up your life in the service of the public.

I hope you have a good weekend and that there can be some sort of dialogue set up between you, Kingston Council and the people of your constituency over the future of the Island.

I am all in favor of Direct Action but sometimes common sense is a far more easier route.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Maggs

Founder
Special Crew Services

SCS provides training for people who want to volunteer in Emergency Situations. We are aiming to be able to supply Crisis workers to the United Nations and other Aid Organisations by 2012.

Comments

Here is copy of recent email to councillors (it's in public domain as it has been forwarded onto many kingston residents)

'' From: Gerry Sevenoaks
Date: 2009/5/1
Subject: Ravens Ait
To: "Cllrs (All)"

Dear Councillor

I am writing to update you on the position regarding Ravens Ait Island.

I am pleased to inform you that the group of squatters who have been illegally occupying Ravens Ait Island since the end of February 2009 were evicted today.

High Court Enforcement Officers acting on behalf of Kingston Council implemented a County Court Order, to secure the Island and evict the squatters with the support of the Metropolitan Police.

The eviction took place in the early hours of this morning and 23 squatters were removed peacefully from the Island. However, two were arrested. We have made arrangements for the squatters to retrieve any possessions they could not carry with them.

As you know, following a hearing at Kingston County Court the Council had obtained a possession order for the Island, which required the squatters to leave Ravens Ait. Officers visited the Island on a number of occasions to request the squatters to comply with the Court Order and leave the island voluntarily. As the squatters continued to refuse to leave voluntarily, High Court Enforcement Officers were then instructed to implement the terms of the County Court Order.

The Island was declared surplus by the Council prior to the end of the lease with the previous operator, which ended on 31 December 2008. Following the end of that lease the Council had been in the process of marketing the Island and had received enquiries from a number of companies interested in Ravens Ait. The occupation of the Island by the squatters has prevented the Council from marketing the Island.

Following the repossession the Council will now be able to continue with its plans for Ravens Ait. Whilst that takes place there will be a permanent onsite 24 hour security presence on the Island. Additionally, as a precaution, there will be an additional security presence at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday 6th May.

I trust this clarifies the position but should you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Regards
Gerry

Gerry Sevenoaks
Head of Strategic Services
Tel: 020 8547 5175
Fax: 020 8547 5180
email: gerry.sevenoaks@rbk.kingston.gov.uk ''

This email contradicts Mr Maggs assertion that these people intended to leave in the near future and shows that they resisted eviction.

Presumably Ed Davey has this email also.
Doubt he will take much notice of Mr Maggs email.

Indeed it does contradict what I have said but then if Jerry Sevenoaks or Mick Mills from the Met was to testify in Court of Law then you would here them state what I have as they would be lying if they said anything else.

This is the first time any of us have seen this letter and I am thankful for you bringing us a internal letter from a council employee to the council members.

Makes for a very interesting read.

Thank you Plato.

Mr Maggs,

The email states that a court order requiring you to leave the island was issued. It states that you were were asked to leave the island, and you refused to leave when asked to. What part of this email is incorrect? What part is a lie? Be specific

Gerry Sevenoaks Head of Strategic Services states:

"The Island was declared surplus by the Council prior to the end of the lease with the previous operator, which ended on 31 December 2008. Following the end of that lease the Council had been in the process of marketing the Island and had received enquiries from a number of companies interested in Ravens Ait. The occupation of the Island by the squatters has prevented the Council from marketing the Island."

Therefore Raven's Ait Ltd, Raven's Ait Halls Management Company and Harto Ltd, the previous operators were well aware in advance, that their lease would not be renewed, fleeced the Wedding and Christmas parties as well as the Met Police of their deposits, left owing +£14,000 in utility bills and by means of creative accounting, diverted huge profits into offshore bank accounts.

The Island caretakers on the other hand, saved the council and the tax payers 9 weeks of 24hr security bills.
Marketed the potential future use of Raven's Ait on a massive Local, National & International level, free of charge.
On top of raising awareness of the lack of transparency and honesty within local government.

Who are these interested parties?
What are these interested parties proposing to do with Raven's Ait?
Why have the people of the Kingston Upon Thames not been consulted on these matters?
Were any of these interested parties connected to the previous operaters of Raven's Ait?

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