The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

GREEDY Lewisham Coun­cil thought they could bully Mill­wall out of The Den. They treated the pleas of res­i­dents and lo­cal busi­nesses like a pa­tro­n­is­ing par­ent dis­miss­ing a whin­ing child.

Con­temp­tu­ous. Ar­ro­gant. De­ter­mined to push through a lu­cra­tive land-grab. They thought power gave them li­cence to treat the pub­lic they serve with dis­dain.

An empty in­sis­tence on Mill­wall be­ing “at the heart of the com­mu­nity” while pre­par­ing to cut the club off at the knees by evict­ing its Com­mu­nity Trust was bad enough.

But noth­ing sums up their de­risory at­ti­tude like the of­fer made to artist Wil­low Win­ston, who was told to ac­cept £58,000 for her 700 sq ft stu­dio or face evic­tion. As the 72-year-old said, sixty grand on the open mar­ket wouldn’t even buy a garage in Lon­don.

How fool­ish those coun­cil­lors look now, forced into a hu­mil­i­at­ing climb­down by the tire­less ef­forts of those who re­fused to be tram­pled.

Coun­cil­lor Alan Hall, a lone dis­senter, stood up to huge in­ter­nal pres­sure and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mill­wall Sup­port­ers group weaponised so­cial me­dia to great ef­fect. Bar­ney Ronay, the

Guardian jour­nal­ist, un­earthed du­bi­ous links be­tween de­vel­oper Re­newal and the coun­cil who’d handed them a bumper con­tract.

“It is my view that the Com­pul­sory Pur­chase Or­der should not pro­ceed and that all par­ties should en­ter dis­cus­sions to iden­tify an agreed way to achieve the re­gen­er­a­tion of this area,” said mayor Steve Bul­lock, who had pre­vi­ously stayed silent due to a con­flict of in­ter­est.

Three things are now es­sen­tial. A gen­uinely in­de­pen­dent in­quiry, a vote to ter­mi­nate any threat of a CPO on the land around Mill­wall’s sta­dium and, fi­nally, some kind of for­mal recog­ni­tion for those who have fought so fiercely for the club.

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