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The Mail: Grade II listed bigots – update from Camden Council

November 11, 2010

Camden Council have kindly replied to me with further information on this story originally published by Mail Online on 8th November, and blogged about by me here:  The Mail: Grade II listed bigots

I advised Camden that I would publish any information they sent in order to give them a right of reply to The Mail’s story, and the email I received is reproduced below.

I am writing in reference to the online query form submitted to Camden Council in relation to an article that appeared in the Daily Mail.

While I cannot comment on the rental arrangements outlined in the story, I have provided below a summary of the briefing supplied to journalists on this matter for your information.

* Mrs Ben-Adir was moved on a temporary basis by Camden Council in 2008 because of the severe disruption she would have suffered living next door to a major infrastructure project. The site entrance for contractors and lorries would have been approximately 2 feet from her front door.

* The works at Kentish Town Sports Centre were scheduled to last for 18 months.

* We moved her to the Lodge in Swains Lane – a property that was being used as a storage facility for park keepers.

* Her house in Kentish Town was used by contractors as a site office while the refurbishment of Kentish Town Sports Centre was completed.

* The Sports Centre reopened on 26 July and the contractors left her house at the end of October.

* We will now carry out works to bring the property back up to pre-work levels and she will be moved back in.

A spokesman for Camden Council said:

“Camden Council has reopened Kentish Town Sports Centre following an extensive refurbishment programme, the only Victorian baths to have been renovated in recent times. These works, which were underway for over 18 months would have caused an immense amount of distress and disruption to Mrs Ben-Adir and her family had she remained in the adjoining property. As a cheaper alternative to funding central London hotel accommodation for 18 months, the council arranged for Mrs Ben-Adir to be moved on a temporary basis to an empty property, the Lodge in Swains Lane.

“Mrs Ben-Adir’s property in Kentish Town was used by contractors during the refurbishment works and then as a site office following the re-opening of the centre. They vacated last week and we will now undertake works to bring the property up to standard and the tenant will be expected to return as soon as possible.”

If you require anything further please do not hesitate to contact me.

Press Manager
Corporate Communications Team
Customers Strategy and Performance
London Borough of Camden

So, we have confirmation that both The Mail and Telegraph stories published in 2008, when Mrs Ben-Adir was originally moved to temporary accomodation, were both inaccurate, claiming the move was because of repairs to her house.  Camden Council’s response is clear that a leisure centre was undergoing extensive refurbishment which took 18 months, and that Mrs Ben-Adir would have been subject to severe disruption and distress due to contractors and lorries passing within 2 feet of her front door, which The Mail sneeringly referred to as the family being ‘disturbed’.

In addition, the contractors had been using Mrs Ben-Adir’s house as a site office, and only moved out what would have been around a week before The Mail published their story.  I would imagine the house requires quite a lot of work to bring it back to a habitable condition, and for The Mail to consider a week long enough to undertake this work is entirely unreasonable.  Verdict:  confirmed non-story from The Mail.

(Posted with thanks to Camden’s Press Officer for the prompt and comprehensive reply.)

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