The publication of the Gentle Author’s twelfth annual report is a reminder of how much the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry owes to him – his relentless and always well-informed campaigning on a host of local issues, fighting on several fronts simultaneously with roots in the local community.
He reveals, as I had also been told, that there was a report that a senior figure in the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government had been given club membership for ‘expediting’ the approval of planning permission for the Bell Foundry. I assume that the person who made the report was unwilling to be fingered as the source. It left an abiding impression that, if a senior figure in the decision-making process could accept club membership as an inducement to speed up planning permission, were other people along the way offered similar encouragement ? Club membership is, of course, not money in brown envelopes. It’s still a troubling report, even as unauthenticated rumour, casting a cloud over the decision and its rectitude.