PLANS to build tower blocks in a town square should be shelved if they are unpopular, the shadow chancellor says.

John McDonnell, hinted that Waltham Forest Council should reconsider approving four new blocks, including a 29 storey tower, in Walthamstow Town Square in the face of strong public opposition.

READ MORE: 'Save our Town Centre'

The shadow chancellor was answering an anti-development campaigner’s plea for support at a Waltham Forest Trades Council meeting at Harmony Hall on Thursday, February 8.

Nancy Taafe, a member of the Socialist Party, asked Mr McDonnell to back campaigners’ fight against council plans.

They discussed the private finance initiative (PFI), which provides cash to major capital investments where private firms, such as Capita, are contracted to complete and manage public projects. 

She said: “This is a direct appeal to John McDonnell.

“When I stood for Parliament, I was told PFI was the only show in town. We were ridiculed for making that stand.

"The only show in town has turned into a nightmare.

“We are urging you to intervene and reject plans at the stage two level. We want these decisions overturned at council level. There is a land war taking place in working-class communities. Please reject the PFI of the skyline.

Mr McDonnell replied: “There should be ballots of tenants. They should be listened to and consulted as well. You must take people with you, not impose on them.

“The key issue is around engagement and democratic decision-making. If you cannot convince people, think again whether this is the appropriate scheme.”

Campaigners want to occupy the Market Square in E17 on Saturday, February 24 in protest at the decision.

Mr McDonnell also outlined Labour’s approach to PFI contracts at the meeting.

The shadow chancellor said: “We believe in public ownership. Public services should be run in the public interest.

“We will bring PFIs in house. By doing that, we can tackle the issue of debt, clear out the shareholders and invest in public services.

“We will deliver a radically fairer and more democratic society. This is not a pipe dream. We are working in detail on how this well be done.

“You secure a Labour government by giving people confidence. When we go into government, we have to go in on the basis of creativity shown in meetings like this. All of us have to be the deliverers of the policies that transform our society.”