21 April 2001 - Kingsdale
School 1100 - 1300
Crystal Palace Campaign - Public Meeting - Local Politicians
people present:- full hall, guests, CPC below
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21 April 2001 - Kingsdale
School 1100 - 1300
At the Crystal Palace Campaign Table:
Philip Kolvin (CPC Chairman), Ken Lewington (CPC Vice Chairman), Patsy Barnes (CPC Steering Committee member).
Table - Simon Allison Croydon North Nicholas
Vineall Dulwich & West
Norwood Green Table
- Jenny Jones
(GLA) Dulwich & West
Norwood Karen Moran Beckenham Labour Party Table
- Geraint Davies
(MP) Croydon Central Jim Dowd (MP) Lewisham West Rt Hon Tessa Jowell
(MP) Dulwich & West
Norwood Malcolm Wicks
(MP) Croydon North Liberal Democrat Table
- Alex Feakes Beckenham Caroline
Pidgeon Dulwich & West
(MP) - Member of Parliament at the time of the meeting
Conservative Party Table -
Dulwich & West Norwood
Green Table -
Jenny Jones (GLA)
Dulwich & West Norwood
Labour Party Table -
Geraint Davies (MP)
Jim Dowd (MP)
Rt Hon Tessa Jowell (MP)
Dulwich & West Norwood
Malcolm Wicks (MP)
Liberal Democrat Table -
Dulwich & West Norwood
Glossary of abbreviations: go
Speakers - Statements
- Questions Replies - Remarks -
Chairman's links Fred
Emery - Press
Officer, Crystal Palace Campaign Opening remarks Philip
Kolvin - Chairman
Crystal Palace Campaign Opening Remarks Guest
Feakes - Lib Dem,
Moran - Green,
Jones - Green,
Dulwich and west Norwood Tessa
Jowell - Labour
MP, Dulwich and West Norwood Caroline
Pidgeon Lib Dem -
Dulwich and West Norwood Nicholas
Conservative, Dulwich and West Norwood Geraint
Davies - Labour
MP, Croydon Central Simon
Conservative,Croydon North Malcolm
Wicks - Labour MP,
Croydon North Jim
Dowd - Labour MP,
Lewisham West PK-10
- important comments on the Unitary Development
Plan Questions from the
Nagel - Crystal
Palace Protest Robert
Lambeth Councillor Stephen
Flood - from
Dulwich and West Norwood Richard
Francis - from
Croydon North Carlos
Cortiglia - Tessa
Jowell's constituent Amy
Orman - Tessa
Jowell's constituent Ken
Crystal Palace Campaign Vice Chairman Mike
Warwick - Crystal
Palace Campaign Russel
Woodrow - in the
shadow of the mast Chris
Kelly - Socialist
Speakers - Statements - Questions
Replies - Remarks - Chairman's links
Fred Emery - Press Officer, Crystal Palace Campaign
Philip Kolvin - Chairman Crystal Palace Campaign
Alex Feakes - Lib Dem, Beckenham
Karen Moran - Green, Beckenham
Jenny Jones - Green, Dulwich and west Norwood
Tessa Jowell - Labour MP, Dulwich and West Norwood
Caroline Pidgeon Lib Dem - Dulwich and West Norwood
Nicholas Vineall - Conservative, Dulwich and West Norwood
Geraint Davies - Labour MP, Croydon Central
Simon Allison - Conservative,Croydon North
Malcolm Wicks - Labour MP, Croydon North
Jim Dowd - Labour MP, Lewisham West
PK-10 - important comments on the Unitary Development Plan
Questions from the floor
Sue Nagel - Crystal Palace Protest
Robert McConnell - Lambeth Councillor
Stephen Flood - from Dulwich and West Norwood
Richard Francis - from Croydon North
Carlos Cortiglia - Tessa Jowell's constituent
Amy Orman - Tessa Jowell's constituent
Ken Lewington - Crystal Palace Campaign Vice Chairman
Mike Warwick - Crystal Palace Campaign
Russel Woodrow - in the shadow of the mast
Chris Brooks - Bromley constituency
Brian Kelly - Socialist Alliance
Fred Emery - Crystal Palace Campaign Press Officer
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are very sorry for this late start but we did want a full panel and they were held up in traffic as usual. Welcome to yet another Crystal Palace Campaign public meeting. My name is Fred Emery, the Campaign's press officer. After 40 odd years in newspaper and television I know where journalists come in public esteem; pretty near the bottom. But still, you guessed it, just above the politicians. (Laughter). I will say it louder, perhaps you didn't get it, just above the politicians. Before we get to them let me just say briefly how it is thanks to so many who are actively engaged, and to the tens of thousands of our supporters, that that Crystal Palace Campaign, very soon into its fifth year, energetically fights on to stop not just this multiplex but anything like it.
Now busy people that you are, you may not always catch all the national news and the high profile we have achieved recently. But here, as they say, are the headlines: 'One out of 14 Fiasco'. That was the three-day drinks' licensing hearing before Bromley magistrates from which the developer was sent packing with only one of the 14 pub-type licences he had applied for. An unmistakable thumbs down to any one of the drinks operators, which, you may be sure, we drove home to them. A summary of the testimony so many of you gave is all on our website like so much else these days. Next, 'Bromley Cave in on Trees'. That was the foiling by this Campaign of Bromley's spiteful and secret plan to cut down the top site trees while you were all asleep. At present it's only put off, so be vigilant. 'Ian Ritchie Blows the Whistle'. Do you remember that? At last we got on the Today programme at the key time the Prime Minister was listening and Ritchie, no friend of ours, disclosed what Bromley had denied, namely that he'd walked off the project because the developer was dumbing down and wanted costs cut by 25%. 'Rage among the Ruins' was the huge article in the Saturday Telegraph profiling our Chairman and the Campaign. And, although it's not the Campaign's doing, we salute local mum Diane Barker. I gather she is not here because she is a single mum and couldn't find a babysitter. But we salute her triumph in gaining a full three judge hearing for her judicial review in the Court of Appeal, against all expectation. You should have seen the faces on the ranks of the Bromley officers who turned up to celebrate their victory that never was. So many battles won but the war not over, far from it.
And so to today and what the politicians will or won't do for us. Let me tell you, we do have friends among local councillors. We have friends among GLA members, we even have friends among MPs, yes we do. And particularly we are grateful to the London Mayor's top advisers and to Mayor Livingstone for living up to his pledge here last year to do all in his power to halt the ghastly multiplex, as he called it. The problem is the Mayor doesn't have the necessary powers and the Courts make clear that planning law as it stands is truly an ass. So what are the law makers, the Westminster politicians doing about it? Too often they say well sorry can't do more but after all it's a local matter isn't it? Well it is, but it isn't. Let's remind ourselves, on a purely non-party or all party basis, because there are no party politics in the Crystal Palace Campaign - let's remind ourselves that all our woes stem from actions and inactions at Westminster. Consider this: who gifted Crystal Palace Park to Bromley in the first place? The Government. Who paved the way for commercial development by approving the 1990 Crystal Palace Act? The Government. Who in 1997 first raised our hopes by putting Bromley's plans on hold and then in 1998 dashed them by declining to call in the project? Again, this time though, a new Government. And I am not finished. Who, when they could have righted matters by giving the London Mayor and the GLA proper powers over strategic London assets like our Park, instead curbed their powers? The Government and its MPs.
Now you don't need me to tell you,
but I will say it, it's in our history, hard fought and won, that
what one Parliament has done another can make undone. No Parliament
binds its successors. Whatever you do as MPs, don't even think of
doing anything without consulting this community. We ladies and
gentlemen are these people's voters. That is why they are here. Shall
we reward them or shall we punish them if they fail to hear our cry?
Philip Kolvin our Chairman will introduce them to you. Thank
top of speech; speakers index
Philip Kolvin - Crystal Palace Campaign Chairman (opening remarks)
Thank you very much indeed Fred. Ladies and gentlemen we invited all of the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green candidates from seven constituencies to this meeting and the constituencies were Beckenham, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Dulwich and West Norwood, Lewisham East, Lewisham West and Streatham. Whether or not they were able to come to the meeting, we invited them to answer the three questions we have posed and everybody who came in should have found on their seats those three questions.
The candidates who accepted the invitation to come to the meeting are sitting on this platform. We are extremely pleased to welcome them and we thank them for coming. In alphabetical order of constituencies, from Beckenham for the Liberal Democrats we have got Alex Feakes, he sits over there, and Karen Moran from the Green party and she sits here. From Croydon Central the Labour MP Geraint Davies who sits here; from Croydon North we have the Conservative Simon Allison who sits there and we also have for the Labour party, the Labour MP Malcolm Wicks who sits on the end there. From the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency we have a full complement of Tessa Jowell who sits there, Nick Vineall conservative who sits here, Jenny Jones of the Green party who sits there and Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrats. And finally from Lewisham West we have representing the Labour party Mr Jim Dowd. And I am going to tell you about the responses we have received from all of the remaining candidates during the course of the meeting.
Now we are not a party political organisation and we are very concerned to be even handed between all the parties represented here today. So what we are going to do is to allocate to each speaker six minutes precisely and I will warn them 30 seconds before their time expires. If there is unused time then they will be allowed to carry over that time to be enjoyed by the next speaker from their party. I am hoping therefore to reach questions by quarter past 12 at the latest and we are asking candidates to stick to the topic which is Crystal Palace and the environmental issues it raises and to answer the questions posed by us so that this is not a general party political debate but focuses on what has brought us all here today, Crystal Palace Park, and the same will apply to questions from the floor.
So let's get on with the meeting
and we are going to start today with Beckenham and the Liberal
Democrat candidate, or should I say prospective candidate, Mr Alex
Feakes. Mr Feakes is a tax consultant within the Liberal Democrat
Party. He's been involved with youth and student issues and education
campaigns and has drafted Liberal Democrat policy including regarding
London's environment. He has also involved himself in local campaigns
to improve funding for the hospice sector, including the local St
Christopher's Hospice in Sydenham. So a very warm welcome to Alex
top of speech; speakers index
Alex Feakes - Prospective Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Beckenham
Thank you very much indeed chairman. Ladies and gentlemen. Sometimes from the publicity that I've seen from both sides about the Crystal Palace Park redevelopment you could be forgiven for thinking that the Campaign is all about a disagreement about architectural taste. You and I know that this is not the case and the issues go far far wider than this. For example we can ask a very basic question - do we need to redevelop the Park at all? As I have come to speak to you as the prospective representative for the people of Beckenham, who live in the constituency that actually contains the Park, I can tell you that people that I have spoken to there, their answer to that question is an emphatic 'yes'. I have seen and heard much over the past months of campaigning concerning proposals to redevelop the Park. I have spoken to residents, businesses and users of the Park who come from nearby and further afield. I have been in the Park myself to see its current state and the nature of its facilities. I have seen leaflets, videos, posters, all sorts of literature supporting one view or another about the plans. But all seem to agree that the Park needs investment if it is to be accessible, safe and enjoyable for current and future users. Sadly, as we all know at the moment, this is not the case.
The Park's current state of accelerating decay has its origins decades ago when a quick fix to clear up the disasterous fire that destroyed the original Palace left an expensive legacy of contaminated land. Since then a combination of buck-passing and a dearth of money has resulted in today's dreadful state. Large areas of the Park are out of bounds because of crumbling terraces and dangerous stonework. The fountains and water features are defunct and the gardens are overgrown. There are architectural dinosaurs of both the metaphoric and real variety that need replacing or simply repairing, and travel to the site is difficult and relies too much on the car. Families are reluctant to let their children play in the park because they fear they may be damaged by some of the crumbling stonework or other difficulties that lie in the undergrowth. We all know this and we all want it to change soon. Therefore I want the buck-passing to stop soon and I want all the bickering and argument to stop soon, but most of all I want the money to be found soon to give the Park a future as an attractive amenity to everyone.
As we all too often hear however there is little money available from the public purse for such expensive clear ups and investment. Years of cuts and under-funding by central government, of whatever political persuasion, have left our open spaces and amenities way down the priority list for the authority to look after them, and when there are more immediate concerns, such as education and social services and so on, to fund, we cannot really blame them. So the money needs to be found from somewhere. Unfortunately nowadays it seems we can only realistically turn to the private sector to meet that funding gap. In the case of the Crystal Palace this will inevitably mean that some commercial activity will be in the Park whether we like it or not. Any realistic proposal needs to recognise this. I am glad to note from the material sent to me by the Campaign they are not ideologically opposed to that source of funding. In fact from the perspective of the people of Beckenham I would look on bringing private sector money as an opportunity to get commercial entertainment services that lack in the area, as well as more local jobs, as well as more external visitors bringing more trade for local businesses, and that is before the direct benefit of getting the investment necessary to redevelop the Park and the surrounding areas itself. Whether you agree or not that the area local to the Park needs enterprises such as cinemas, pubs, bowling alleys, night clubs or bingo halls, or museums, art galleries, crafts markets or restaurants, it's not really the point. That is really a matter of one person's entertainment being another person's distraction, and is dealt with through the existing planning process. The truth is letting part of the site generate income for commercial enterprises to finance the regeneration and the maintenance of the rest, as was originally intended when the Park was established, is a price worth paying to rescue Crystal Palace Park from its present parlous state.
That is not to say there will not be problems with the redevelopment of the Park and I think we know what many of those are. There are such issues with redevelopment of the site under any plan, and as I understand them with the current proposals, as there would be with any. Wherever you deal with a redevelopment on this scale you will find problems with traffic, access, and the effect on the environment, and so on. But I do not think these are unresolvable and I am glad to see that the local authorities surrounding the Park have started to work together to manage the impact of the redevelopment on the local public transport network and roads. I really don't think we should let these issues stand in the way of winning back Crystal Palace Park from the process of decay.
So, I would say to all of you here
on behalf of the people of Beckenham, don't turn your backs on
private money and don't turn your backs on redevelopment just because
there is a disagreement over aesthetics. But most of all I urge you
not to forget the regrettable decay of the past 50 years. Do not turn
your backs on these opportunities for Crystal Palace Park to be
accessible, safe, and enjoyable once again. Use your opportunities,
use all the opportunities to influence the design, yes, but don't let
aesthetics stand in the way of redevelopment or we will be regretting
it again for the next 50 years to come. Thank you.
top of speech; speakers index
I can announce that that speech was
four and a half minutes so there is one and a half minute carry
forward to Caroline Pidgeon who will be the next Lib Dem speaker so
she has got the entitlement to speak for seven and a half minutes.
The next speaker from Beckenham is Karen Moran who is the prospective
Green party candidate. Karen will be very well known to some of you
because she has been a campaigner on this issue for more years than
any of us care to remember. So thank you for coming Karen and you are
very welcome. (applause)
Karen Moran - Prospective Green parliamentary candidate for Beckenham
Thank you Philip. Whether it will take six minutes I don't know, but I will carry on.
Crystal Palace has been the subject of controversy for the last four years. This controversy has been caused by Bromley Council's refusal to listen to the local people who live near the Park. (applause) The site has been home to different species of plants and wildlife and it has been totally ignored by all of Bromley's councillors. They decided that it wasn't necessary to have an environmental impact assessment. Added to that, even their traffic assessment was flawed. In fact everything about this development is flawed. There is nothing you can say that is good about it. Let's hope, Geraint, your bill will be backed by government ministers and the Park is finally handed over to the GLA, where it belongs of course.
The council are installing CCTV cameras around the triangle but is that really going to stop the drug dealers? We already have difficulties with people getting drunk in the area as it is, but the problem will only increase, leading to aggressive behaviour. I have lived in and around the Park for the past 19 years. The beauty is breath-taking. It has the best views in South East London. How can anyone destroy what this area has been used to in the last 65 years? When the Crystal Palace opened in 1854 it was the wonder of the Victorian age. It has a history that the local community can be proud of. The Crystal Palace Act says that any new building on the site must reflect the architectural style of the original palace. Bromley says it does. They have got to be kidding. (applause)
The first time I had heard about this development in the Park was when I attended the first Crystal Palace Campaign meeting in July of 1997. I'd gone along there to find out more about it. The hall at the Queen's Hotel was packed with over 600 people inside. I was shocked to hear what was actually being constructed. An 18 screen multiplex with several bars and restaurants. That meeting had opened my eyes. I did not receive any leaflet or any kind of correspondence through my door and neither did my neighbours. I just live around the corner from the Park.
But here we are all again at
another public meeting for the Campaign. How did it begin? In April
1997 two residents attended a Bromley seminar. It was to be held for
the purpose of how to consult local people on their latest scheme in
Crystal Palace Park. Those two residents, Suzanne Nagel and Ken
Lewington met later and, together with three other residents, Wendy
Allen, Liz Rolfe and Kim Rich, who incidentally helped to put this
meeting together, formed the Crystal Palace Campaign. Suzanne left 10
months later and was replaced by Philip Kolvin, who from March 1998
took the Campaign from strength to strength. Working alongside the
Campaign that year I was grateful to see hundreds and thousands of
leafletters give their time to help inform the local public about
this monstrous development. I have been very impressed with
everything that the Campaign has done and I thank Philip and all the
Crystal Palace Campaign for bringing it to the actual public
attention. Thank you very much. (applause)
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Philip Kolvin (3)
Thank you very much indeed Karen. Jenny Jones who will speak later now has an extra two minutes to address you in. We are going to move next to Dulwich and West Norwood. It is a slight rejigging of the intended order but there is a pressure of time on one or two of the speakers this morning and I think the thing to do is to take the candidates in alphabetical order within Dulwich and West Norwood and that will be Jenny Jones, Tessa Jowell, Caroline Pidgeon and then Nick Vineall.
What I want to do before I do that is to just complete the picture for Beckenham. We have heard two speakers from Beckenham, Lib Dem and Green. We also invited the Conservative MP, Jacqui Lait. Now she is the only MP whose constituency includes Crystal Palace Park but we have had no reply from her at all. We had apologies from the Labour prospective candidate, Richard Watts. So if you do encounter any of those people on the election trail, please bring with you the three questions, make sure that they answer them and then tell us and we will post their answers on the website. So that is Beckenham.
Let's get on with Dulwich and West
Norwood and we are very pleased to welcome Jenny Jones. Now Jenny
Jones was elected to the London Assembly last year as a London-wide
member. She works quite closely with Ken Livingstone. She was
previously a financial controller for a London company and at the GLA
she has responsibility for transport, police, fire and social issues
and her background is in archeology and anthropology. So welcome
Jenny Jones - Prospective Green parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood
Thank you very much for inviting me today and I want to say thank you to everybody here for coming. It's a level of the public concern about this development, and I think every time you turn up for a meeting you demonstrate how much we all care about this. You have just heard the Green party people who have been working against this development from the very beginning and we are very concerned that the planned development should not go ahead. For us there are three aspects of great concern, and you are probably going to expect me to speak about the environment. Well I will speak about those issues but there's also economic aspects and democratic aspects that are a real source of concern.
The environmental aspects are quite frightening. There has been no environmental impact assessment so far so nobody can be really quite sure how it will affect the people in the area. But we can say for sure there will be an increase in traffic and there will be absolutely no public transport infrastructure put in to cope with this increase in traffic. There is going to be destruction for animals and birds of habitat. We are going to see 140 mature trees cut down. That means that birds will not be able to nest there. The animals that live in them will not be able to continue living in the Park as they do. It's a carelessness that in these days we simply can't afford. There is also a loss of green space for walkers and here in South London we are actually very short of green space and to find that we are going to lose even more is very, very disturbing. There is a loss of playing space for children. This is also going to be an eyesore; we call this visual pollution. It is not going to be a pretty development. You are not going to like the actual look of it. And finally there is also going to be a huge increase in noise and pollution.
The economic aspects are quite scary as well. There is going to be a loss of business from small shops. It's going to be very hard to get close to your small shops to go and continue shopping there. There is going to be a huge number of multinationals in the complex that are again, not well known for their environmental concern. There is going to be a lot of rubbish created. There is going to be a lot of paper cups and I live near a fish shop, a fish and chip shop - if anyone lives near a fish and chip shop they know what it's like to suffer from rubbish. And it's going to be the sort of development that economically will not benefit the local people. All the money that comes into the development will go straight out again. It is not going to be spent here locally at all.
Finally the democratic aspects are probably the most frightening of all. There has been absolutely no public consultation. You have heard already from Karen Moran - no public consultation on this. That's an incredibly disturbing feature. If your council is not listening to you why are they there? Why are they elected? (applause) Just remember, you've got an opportunity next year to vote them out and I hope you will do that. (applause)
Now all the Greens, there are three Greens on the London Assembly, are all working in different ways to do what we can to stop this development. We are trying to keep the issue alive and bubbling and just every single time there is a petition, a meeting, an E-mail, it puts more and more and more pressure on Bromley Council and on the developers of the site and it makes it less and less viable to go ahead. So the longer we can delay this scheme the better chance we have of actually stopping this development in its tracks. We can last longer than they can and so we have to go out and we have to find more and more supporters. Now just in case you think that I don't have a personal interest in this and I am just being a politician, because I live a long way away, I live in Camberwell. I actually live just next to Burgess Park and some of you may know that Burgess Park is also under threat. It's under threat from the Council for housing and it's also under threat for having a tramlink through it. Now we are actually very keen to see a tramlink in South East London but we don't want it through the only piece of green park that we have got. So for me this is an issue I understand.
In answer to the three questions, I
think you have got them on your seats, well my answers are quite
simple, it's yes, yes, yes. (applause) And finally I would
just like to say I have a message for Bromley Council and that is
hand over the park to the London Assembly and we'll look after it for
the community. Thank you. (applause)
top of speech; speakers index
Philip Kolvin (3a)
Now I am very pleased to call on
Tessa Jowell who is the Labour Member of Parliament for Dulwich and
West Norwood. She was the MP for Dulwich since 1992 and then Dulwich
and West Norwood since 1997. She has been the Minister for Public
Health and also Minister for Employment. She is very well known to
the Crystal Palace Campaign and to these meetings; very welcome,
Tessa Jowell - Labour MP and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood
I would like to join the others who have spoken so far this morning in doing two things. First of all in thanking the Crystal Palace Campaign for organising this meeting, but also paying tribute to the Crystal Palace Campaign for their dogged determination to persist, often in the face of all the odds and dispiriting, disappointment. You lose a court case, you pick yourself up, you keep on going and it is absolutely clear to me that it has been the presence of the Crystal Palace Campaign that is the principle reason why not one brick has yet been laid on the Crystal Palace site. (applause) I think that this meeting today is an opportunity to just take stock of the progress which has been achieved while we also take this opportunity to look at what the next steps should be.
So what has been achieved? Fred, at the beginning of the meeting, touched on one or two of the achievements. It is an achievement that the trees still stand; it is an achievement that the licence application was neutered compared to the original intention; it is an achievement, a major achievement, that we now have the intervention of the European Commission (applause) challenging the validity of the planning permission in the light of the failure to conduct an environmental impact assessment that certainly I, and I know that others have pressed for from the outset. Now it is likely to be a number of months before the position in relation to the European Commission is settled but I will come back in a moment or two to that. (And I'd also say to Philip that, in a spirit of cooperation, I and my colleagues have agreed that I can have a bit of their time if I need it and they will then talk for less time in a moment or two). And of course the final major achievement is that that four years later the development has not proceeded. Now the position is, I think and I hope, very clear and I think that I speak for all my colleagues in relation to this. It is the position of the Crystal Palace Campaign that we are not anti-development or opposed to regeneration but we are opposed to this development. That is the position of the four Labour MPs; that is the position of the Crystal Palace Campaign. What is absolutely clear is that we cannot afford for one moment to lift our vigilance. There is a planning permission which has been granted and everything that we do from now on needs to recognise that fact. It is the wrong development in the wrong place for this part of London.
Let me turn to the specific focus of today's meeting which is on the three questions. First the question in relation to the bill which has been introduced by my colleague Geraint Davies who will speak when his turn comes. Now I think that we should be clear that we are all behind the intention behind the bill. It's intention to recognise the importance of ensuring that development proceeds only with the consent of the community and secondly that proscribes certain uses as being undesirable, unwanted and inappropriate. It also recognises the strategic importance of this site and therefore the need for a strategic approach to the decisions about its future. But I think we also have to recognise, and I know that the bill was drafted in close collaboration with the Crystal Palace Campaign, that technically the bill could pass into law but the development could still proceed because there is already a planning permission that has been granted and there is no retrospective provision in the bill as currently drafted. I think that that is a point that no doubt you will want to return to. The second point is that this is being brought forward as a private bill at the end of the parliament. It is an opportunity to rally. It is an opportunity to focus on the action that we now need to take. Nobody should be sufficiently unrealistic about the likelihood in the short term future of this measure passing into law. Its purpose is to raise the issue and to exert pressure.
The second point is in relation to the planning permission. Now there is a planning permission and clearly were that permission to be revoked then the developer would be entitled to very large, I am advised, very large, amounts of compensation. I believe that we need to be very clear about the campaigning tactics and our campaigning objectives and certainly there is time, as a result of the deliberation of the European Commission about the validity of the original consent in the absence of an environmental impact assessment.
And that brings me to the third question and I have argued ever since 1997 when the planning application was first lodged with Bromley that development should proceed only with the consent of the local community and just about two years ago to the day I convened a meeting in this hall from which I pledged to do everything I could to establish a stakeholder forum that would attempt to move forward the development, the relationship between Bromley and the developer, in a way that would attract the support of the local community and I believe that as a local community, community organisations, we proceeded with that in good faith and certainly the discussions that I had with the Crystal Palace Campaign about that indicated that good faith underwrote all the intentions at that time. I have had two meetings with the developer in order to attempt to broker that agreement. I have to say to you that I do not believe that an agreement is possible with the developer who currently holds the planning permission for the site. I do not believe that an agreement is possible and I believe that an absolute pre-requisite to any development on the site must be the support, the consent and the involvement of the local community. (applause) And in moving forward, in moving forward, that must be an absolute pre-condition. We have been faced with the systematic refusal of Bromley Council to engage with the local community. We have been faced with the systematic refusal of Bromley to recognise that while they are the planning authority this is a site that matters to thousands and thousands of people in South London. We want that site to be fitting of its strategic position in South London. We want any development on that site to be a development which brings the community together, which does not divide the community, and the development that we have, or the proposed development that we have there now is a divisive development and I and my colleagues do not support it for that very important reason.
Now in terms of where we go from
here and the way ahead - we will from this meeting make further
representations to the Commission, to the European Commission, which
is now the focus of our activity in relation to the original failure
to undertake an environmental impact assessment and our belief that
therefore there are fundamental flaws in the basis on which the
planning application was granted. We will secondly use Geraint's bill
as the opportunity to focus local campaigning, to mobilise local
opposition to the development, throughout the election campaign, but
more importantly I hope beyond the election campaign itself, we will
remain steadfast in our commitment that any development on the
Crystal Palace site must be a development for the community,
supported by the community. That is our undertaking. Thank you very
top of speech; speakers index
Philip Kolvin (4)
Tessa, thank you very much indeed. Can I just clarify because some of you may not know about Geraint Davies' bill. Would it help if I just said a couple of sentences about what this bill is? It's called the Crystal Palace Bill. It's been laid in parliament a week or two ago. It's had its first reading but Geraint will go into that in a little bit more detail. Essentially what the Bill says is that first of all the whole of Crystal Palace Park shall be transferred to the Greater London Authority, in other words the Greater London Authority would own the Park. (applause). And all of the functions of the London Borough of Bromley in relation to the Park would also be transferred, so the complete responsibility would transfer to the Authority.
Secondly, the Bill says that the Park should not be used for any prohibited purposes and the prohibited purposes are specified as cinema, public house, bowling alley, amusement or video arcade, night club, casino or bingo hall. I mean maybe you shouldn't have to have an act of parliament to say that you shouldn't be doing that in an historic park, but it does seem that we do need an act of parliament. (applause). Our own legal advice is that this would in fact supersede the planning permission because this is a property holding act and it describes the terms upon which the park is held as a matter of ownership. The planning permission is simply planning, and never the twain shall meet. If there is a legal issue, well it will have to be fought out in court and we await that with interest. (applause). So that is the Crystal Palace Bill. Geraint Davies saw our three questions and got on with it and simply laid the bill, but we will hear more from him in a moment or two.
Now can I move then to the third
candidate from the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency. She is the
prospective Lib Dem candidate, Caroline Pidgeon. She works for the
National Health Service and she is a Southwark councillor. She was
the Lib Dem regeneration and environment spokesman on the Council.
She sits on the board of Southwark Energy Agency and she is also a
member of Friends of the Earth. So welcome to Caroline Pidgeon.
Caroline Pidgeon - Prospective Liberal Democratic parliamentary Candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood
I hope you can all hear me. Thank you very much Chair for the introduction and thank you for inviting me to speak at this very important meeting about the Crystal Palace Park and its future.
Now the redevelopment of Crystal Palace Park has a long history and as with anything of this scale it has sparked a huge debate and mobilised hundreds of residents, as you can see today, and it has set off a number of legal challenges. It has also brought out different views amongst parties and amongst different politicians. I walked around the site the other week ready for this meeting and I have to say that the Park in its current state does not serve local residents as well as it could. The top half of the Park in particular especially needs huge amounts of money to be pumped into it and what we have got to work out is where that money is going to come from. But for what? Are we going to leave it as it is, as a sparse open space, or do you want to develop it into a proper park? Do you want to bring in some sort of leisure facilities to allow people of all generations to enjoy the Park, or do you want the current proposal?
Now I don't think it's actually for me or any other politician to say what we want on that site. I think that a redevelopment or regeneration project of this scale has to come from the bottom up and this is where the current proposal actually fails. The site is not suitable for all these things &endash; cinema, pubs, night clubs, bingo hall, casino hall. You know, it's absolutely ludicrous. Something that is designed for hundreds and hundreds of cars is not sustainable and it's going to damage our local environment rather than enhance it and sustain it for future generations. Now the redevelopment of this site clearly will not work if this solution is parachuted in from this outside developer, rather than developed through engaging with local communities. And there are so many good ideas and talents out there, throughout all of our communities and this is what needs to be facilitated on the basis of any redevelopment. And those people on the ground, all of us on the ground, best understand the needs and challenges of the community and what we want in this area and that is why I think the current proposal completely fails to address what local residents actually want.
Now we have three questions before us and I thought I would actually try and go through my answers for each of these and whilst I am completely opposed to the existing proposal, if elected I would not promote a bill to transfer Crystal Palace Park to the GLA. I actually think the GLA is a strategic authority and should remain just that and I do not think that picking up an individual park and putting it under their powers will improve it. I actually think, you know it was managed in the past by the LCC and the GLC, but at the moment I do not think that is the appropriate level of government. As a Liberal Democrat I completely believe in subsidiarity, the most appropriate level of decision-making being made, and I think a local council is the most appropriate level at this stage. Now Bromley Council may well have failed us in this at the moment but five local boroughs working properly together should be able to jointly manage and run this Park. So as I say, though I am against this proposal, I think that is the best way forward on that. And, if we are going to centralise everything, that is completely, against. I want to see local communities really influencing decisions locally and that isn't going to happen by referring something up to the GLA or government.
Now on the second question, I think it's a disgrace we haven't had a proper environmental assessment of the plans for Crystal Palace Park. You know it's completely unacceptable. I know that Southwark councillors of all sides asked for that to be fed into Bromley Council but nothing actually happened. And I think, though it would be wholly inappropriate to get national government involved in trying to overturn a local council's planning decision at this late stage, from my opinion we have seen far too much centralisation under this new Labour government and you know they are dictating far too much what local government can do and what local communities can do and what I think is that this would set a very dangerous precedent. So I am afraid that I would not support that but I do believe that our planning process needs a complete overhaul and a complete revision to ensure that people are fully consulted, not this token gesture or lack of gesture that we have had so far, but proper consultation and real legislative changes to really empower individuals and communities rather than developers.
On the third question of course I
would be very happy and keen to work with the community and funding
agencies to find the best way forward for Crystal Palace Park. Work
has not yet started on site and obviously that is partly due to this
Campaign and all the work you have been doing. We have got this
European challenge at the moment but partly I think it's also to do
with the changing economic climate. You know we have seen cinema
attendances reach their peak. There is no place for a multiplex
cinema. It isn't going to make money and I think you will find that
the developer is going to be changing his mind pretty shortly. I am
hugely concerned that this development talks about bringing in 950
space development, huge numbers of cars on our roads. This is going
to clog up our already over-loaded local streets. What I would like
to see is some sort of development, a better proposal, which the
community supports which will really expand public transport,
obviously we've got to talk about the tramlink coming up, the
extension of the East London line. Let's really invest in public
transport which is where the GLA can help so that people can come via
that to the Park, and let's try and make this an improved car-free
development which will mean that it is far more sustainable for local
residents and the community and this hopefully will be supported by
the many rather than the few. I think that this is where our energy
now needs to be channelled and trying to change; one planning
permission has been given, another one could be given whatever and I
think we need to try and push the developer and all those involved so
that we actually find a better proposal, something that our area can
be proud of and something that will really put Crystal Palace Park
back on the map. Thank you very much. (applause)
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Now the last speaker from Dulwich
and West Norwood is the prospective Conservative candidate, Nicholas
Vineall. Nicholas lives in Southwark with his wife and three
children, he is a governor of Waverley school, he is also a barrister
for his sins, and he classes himself as a supporter of the Crystal
Palace Campaign. (applause)
Nicholas Vineall - Prospective parliamentary conservative candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you and thank you very much you for the opportunity to address you today on something which I believe is one of the most important local issues facing the constituency we are in today of Dulwich and West Norwood. That constituency as you know contains the southern extremes of both Lambeth and Southwark London boroughs and of course one of the essential difficulties that has arisen over the Crystal Palace development is that it is right on the border of five London authorities. The conservative councillors in College Ward and Ruskin Ward in Southwark and in Gipsy Hill and Thurlow Park in Lambeth, I am pleased to say, speak, and have always spoken, with one voice and I join them in that and we say that we oppose this proposed development at Crystal Palace. It is as simple as that. The time for local stakeholder forums, the time for sitting down and talking to each other, is passed because we are unanimous in our opposition. The time for trying to speak to the developers I believe has passed because they have shown themselves unprepared and unwilling to compromise and we are in a position where we are not talking about tweaking the finer points of the design of this multiplex cinema, we are in a position where we say we simply don't want it or anything like it. (applause)
In its usual well organised way, the Campaign has put together three specific questions and I had imagined they had put together those questions so that we would all answer them. Not everyone has done that, or at least I didn't understand some of the answers (applause) given by some of the people who spoke earlier so I propose to take them. I am going to take the Miss World scenario and take them in reverse order.
Question three, you have probably got it in front of you, will I work to bring the community and funding agencies together to seek an environmentally sensitive future for Crystal Palace Park. That is easy. The answer to that is 'yes, of course'. The crucial thing about Crystal Palace is that at the moment it is open space and I believe that any development on that site must be sensitive to and must draw upon the fact that it is open space. The problem with a cinema is that it doesn't need to be on or anywhere near open space. A cinema is an appropriate development for a brown field site. It is not an appropriate development for the Crystal Palace site. (applause) So my view, my view is that question three contains within it, what do you mean by environmentally sensitive future for Crystal Palace Park? I mean by that a development which is connected to the fact that it is open space. So for instance you might have stables, you might have tennis courts, you might have botanical gardens but all those developments are tied in to the essential feature of the site which is that it is open space. (applause)
The second question is will you seek the revocation of the planning permission for the multiplex on the grounds of lack of environmental assessment to resolve the European Commission's complaint. The answer to that is 'yes'. The present government's response to the complaint from the Commission has been frankly outrageous and I have yet to hear it justified and look forward to any attempts which are made to justify the response of the government so far.
The first question on your list, and the one which I will deal with finally, is will you, and I am going to say support because the Bill's already been put forward, a bill to transfer Crystal Palace Park to the Greater London Authority and to prevent its use for that list of, seems to me inappropriate uses, which Philip read out. I was interested that Tessa Jowell suggests that the wording of that Bill is defective because it won't prevent the development. I wasn't clear whether that was a justification for not supporting the Bill, or whether Tessa Jowell' position is that if only it's amended, she will support it. It seemed to me that we were left rather in the dark about what her position was but I shall answer that question in one word. My answer is 'yes'. (applause)
What is important about that
proposal is that it acts on the real gravimum of the problem which is
that we have a site close to five local authorities but that is at
the moment only controlled by one. This proposal would put the site
in single control. There is I think an alternative. There is power
under the Local Government Act for a group of local authorities
together to take control of a public site and it seems to me that is
an additional possible way forward, which perhaps ought to be looked
at in the future. Well I am a conservative; I am not trendy; I am not
radical. I am sorry to disappoint you in those particulars but I also
don't believe that something which is new, or calls itself new, like
a new multiplex or sometimes a new political party, is likely to be
better just because it is new. As a Conservative my instinct is to
conserve and the essential point is that this site is open space. It
is at the moment zoned as Metropolitan Open Land. The proposal to
change the UDP by Bromley Council will make it disused land. That is
profoundly unsatisfactory. (applause). The essential point is that
this is open space and when you develop open space you are going down
a one way street. How many of you could point to a development which
has been taken away to recover for Londoners the open space upon
which it is built. This proposed development sends us down a one way
street in the wrong direction and there is a danger, because if this
site is inappropriately developed, what will happen to the other open
spaces in Dulwich and West Norwood. What about Brockwell Park, what
about Ruskin Park, what about Dulwich Park, what about Norwood Park?
None of them are perfect at the moment but they are all valuable open
spaces and I believe we should be absolutely firm in saying that in
London what we need above all else is open space. Sometimes you have
to draw a line in the sand and say so far and no further. I think
that point has come with the Crystal Palace development. It is not an
appropriate development of open space and this issue is not only
about us but it is about the legacy we leave our children. I don't
think they will thank us if there is a vast, hideous cinema with an
enormous car park on the roof at Crystal Palace. I fear that this
constituency so far has not seen the political leadership it deserves
on the issue of the Crystal Palace development. (applause)
That can change in the future and I hope that it will. Thank you.
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Thank you Nick. You were living on
borrowed time there so the next conservative speaker will only have
three and a half minutes. Now the next constituency we are going to
look at is Croydon Central and its sitting labour MP, Mr Geraint
Davies. He was a Croydon councillor for eleven years. He left Croydon
as leader of the Council and as leader of the Council he saw in the
planning application of London and Regional Properties to which you
will recall Croydon Borough Council objected forcefully. He has been
an MP since 1997 and he lives in Croydon and we are very glad to
welcome him. (applause)
Geraint Davies - Labour MP and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central
Friends, this year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the construction of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition . Of course, when it arrived, people knew in Sydenham it was accompanied by Brunel's great water towers feeding a system of fountains and water tables and the landscaping of Paxton, and this unique architectural mix of art and science reduced Queen Victoria to tears.
Now 150 years later Bromley Council call this site of such historic significance, simply 'disused land appropriate for leisure and recreational development with associated food and drink premises'. So I think that really sums it up. We have moved from the Victorian visionaries who packed 81,000 people into the old Crystal Palace to see Handel's Messiah, and now we have the sort of municipal mandarins of Bromley who want a multiplex, amusements, pubs, clubs, bowling and bingo any tacky, tasteless mix of mediocrity that makes a few quid. (applause) I first saw Bromley's pathetic plans in 1996 when I was then leader of Croydon Council and they introduced them as they said in the spirit of the Crystal Palace, the presentation began, and then we saw a bin load of previously used products with no respect for the history of the site, for its parkland location or residential environment, no public transport infrastructure to minimise environmental impact. No thought for instance of linking to Croydon's tramlink to ensure visitors from across London could come without a cloud of fumes and a tail back of cars. No conception of a beacon on London's horizon that might put Crystal Palace on the international map. Instead we have the planning committee serving up a muddled menu of mediocrity.
So my Bill that the Chair's kindly mentioned, this Bill here, the Crystal Palace Bill, which was introduced before Easter and time-tabled for the second reading on 11 May, aims to put tight constraints on the type of building that is permissible on the Crystal Palace site, so that we don't get multiplex, pubs, clubs, bingo, bowling etc and we reject the assertion that the Crystal Palace site is simply a disused land appropriate for leisure, recreation etc etc as the Bromley finger licking good Council would have us believe LAUGHTER the fact is it is a site of regional and national significance whose history and environment must be protected and respected and that is why the Bill proposes that the site be transferred to the new strategic authority for London, the GLA. Remember of course this site only went to Bromley when Margaret Thatcher abolished the GLC and the fact is that it needs to be considered in the broader environmental economic and cultural context and not by Bromley and its park keepers. So that's the two elements of the Bill that I am pushing forward.
Meanwhile obviously we have got the judicial review which I support in October and there are those of course who say 'oh well the Bill will be blocked, there will be people trying to block the Bill, there are people who say there is a general election, what about that', obviously I will resubmit the Bill after the election. The intention of the Bill is to provide a parliamentary focal point, as Tessa Jowell has rightly said, to underline the unacceptability of the current plans and to underline the strategic importance of this site to the wider community, to the environment etc. There are technical difficulties in the fact that it is not a retrospective bill as has been pointed out. These are things that we need to move forward on in parliament.
So to conclude I hope that the
developer in the light of the sustained and growing opposition both
in the community, in parliament and legally, I hope that the
developer and Bromley now see fit to agree not to proceed with the
current plans. I hope the judicial review in October will succeed. I
intend to press forward with the Bill in parliament and to work with
my colleagues in the EU Commission to ensure that the site has a
proper future and ultimately to work with you to ensure that this
rolling programme of campaigning has the amount of steam that we need
to ensure that the Crystal Palace is something that we and our
children and our children's children, can rightly be proud of.
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Thank you Geraint. I want to complete the picture in that constituency of Croydon Central. The prospective Lib Dem candidate from that constituency is Paul Booth. He sent his apologies but he didn't answer our questions. If you're from that constituency again please put those questions to him whenever you get the chance.
The prospective Conservative candidate there is David Congdon and he wrote to us and I am going to give you a precis of his letter. He says that he very much recognises the importance of this issue and understands the concerns of the people living in the local community. He says that the site is adjacent to his neighbouring constituency of Croydon North and therefore he says that he is pleased that Simon Allison is attending; we are going to hear from Simon in a moment. He says the impact on Croydon Central is of course more limited and so it is more appropriate for Simon to attend but he is going to follow the issue closely and liase with Simon on it, having lived in South London for over 30 years and therefore knowing the area well. He says he has always felt that the top site needs to be redeveloped in order to help improve and regenerate the surrounding area. He says he is pleased to note that the Campaign is not against development in principle. The crucial issue is that any development must respect the fact that the site dominates the landscape and can be seen for miles around and must also respect the setting of the Crystal Palace Park. I have a number of concerns he says finally about the current plans, particularly in relation to environmental aspects and traffic implications and would like to be kept informed of progress. So that is David Congdon and that completes the picture for Croydon Central.
Now we are going to proceed to
Croydon North and welcome the next speaker who is Simon Allison the
prospective Conservative candidate. He is the finance director of an
international hotel company. He is deputy chairman of the
conservative group for Europe; I'll say that again the conservative
group for Europe, and he lives in Lambeth.(applause)
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Simon Allison - Prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon North
Thank you Chairman and ladies and gentlemen for the chance to speak to you. It's clear that the Crystal Palace Park is one of the key landmarks not just of South London but really of the southern half of the United Kingdom and the Campaign's efforts to ensure an environmentally sensitive future is something I fully support, and that's the answer to question three, I do fully support you.
The physical aspect is clearly one issue. Now it's not in the constituency I am going to fight so to some extent both Malcolm and I are interlopers here, and I suppose Geraint is as well in a way, but it is important because many residents of Croydon North will visit the Park regularly. The physical aspect of what is planned is simply not in keeping with the local environment. It's just plain ugly and I have to say that 150 years after the Crystal Palace was built it does show an astounding lack of imagination, that this is the best anybody can come up with and I think it's actually a bit of a sad sign of the dumbing down of the United Kingdom that a multiplex is the best thing we can do to replace it. (applause). I also have to say as a Conservative I am not against commercial development but it strikes me there is no commercial sense in building something ugly when recreating something that was akin to maybe even a kind of a replica of what was originally there would actually be a far greater commercial draw for the developer as well.
Let me also though talk about traffic because for Croydon North and for Upper Norwood in particular that's the biggest problem. We already get gridlock quite often. The traffic in the Upper Norwood triangle particularly is a major problem and I am not sure the one-way system will solve it and it's the surges that the demand for a multiplex would bring would bring this part of London to a standstill regularly. And that's I think is the greatest concern. I agree with what Geraint said. I think we need more public transport. The East London Line extension will help, bringing in the tramlink will help and I am trying to explore with TFL (Transport for London) and Govia whether there is a way of bringing down the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle on existing tracks and some existing unused Bakerloo line tunnels to get more public transport in. Unless that can be done these plans are unacceptable from a traffic perspective as well and I fully support the European Commission's objectives and I do think we need a proper environmental assessment. (applause)
Having said all of that though we can't ignore the fact that the Park is run down. It's not actually truly beautiful, it is in part, but the crumbling walls and the graffiti and the lawns with no grass on them do need more work and it's clear that Bromley doesn't have the resources and that some form of development could in fact help to regenerate parts of the Park other than just the top site. It is of course up to local people but a major leisure complex is clearly not the right thing. I don't know why we couldn't look at something like a biosphere, or as in fact Nick said, maybe to rebuild something like a botanical garden like Kew where the glass house would actually echo the original Crystal Palace. (applause) But the point is, the gentleman here says there is no money to be made, there is no money to be made for London and Regional while they are not developing it and it's amazing that they, as capitalist developers, and I have no problem with the idea of somebody making money but if you don't build the development you're not going to make any money. So it's time they started listening and if you keep winning they will start listening, because that's what they are in the business of, making money. So when you get them to back down and build something environmentally sensitive they will make less money but you can't make less money than no money so if you keep going I think you will do fine.
Final question, if I get elected will I promote the Bill? Well I support the Bill with a couple of exceptions, yes. I am not sure about taking out pubs because there are plenty of nice village pubs with a little pond, and some ducks and a green. I don't think that's what London and Regional had in mind by the way but I am not sure you would necessarily want to rule them out per se. As for the GLA, I do have one question though which is that it may seem like a really good idea right now, but in the end you will be handing the fate of this Park over to the voters of Barnet and Uxbridge, and other people who maybe just don't care. And I wonder whether what Nick said about the alternative of linking the five boroughs in some form, although it may not seem like a good idea, they are the people that you can elect and they are the people you can throw out and maybe that's a better idea. (applause)
I'm basically done. To sum up I do
believe the current scheme is inappropriate, I do support your
efforts to get a culturally sensitive plan and I hope that you will
succeed in getting this scheme reconsidered. I wish you all the best
of luck. (applause)
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Now we turn to speakers from Croydon North. The first of them is Malcolm Wicks. He is the Labour MP for Croydon North. He has been an MP since 1992 and he is the Minister for Life Long Learning in the Department for Education and Employment. It is the first time he has been to one of our meetings so we are delighted to see him here.
Thank you very much. (applause)
Malcolm Wicks - Labour MP and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate, Croydon North
Well thank you very much but this is not the first time I have met my constituents to discuss the issue. We talk about this in Croydon too. My first memory of Crystal Palace was as a very small boy watching motor car racing there so my memories do go back quite a long way. My constituency does adjoin of course, very close to the site, hence my interest and that of my constituents. My constituency is also the home of Selhurst Park so we may need a supplementary save Crystal Palace campaign if the next few matches go wrong. (laughter)
We gave most of our time to Tessa Jowell because Tessa's led on this very much for our group of Labour MPs and I support everything she said but just to be very brief so that we don't take up too much of the Labour time as it were. Do I support the development? No I don't. It's a vulgar piece of commercialism. It's architecturally dire, in my judgement, and I think the idea of a rooftop car park is a sheer monstrosity. I am concerned that there has been no environmental impact assessment, and we want one. I think it shouldn't just be environmental in a narrow sense. It should incorporate a social and community impact analysis (applause) and that's why the four Labour MPs who are here today will be making representations, as Tessa has said, to the European Commission about the need for an assessment.
Now, where some of us may disagree, I don't know, is on the question, should there be any development at all. Some of you may think no, some of you may enjoy the quiet amenity at the present time despite the dilapidation in some areas that we have heard about. There may be an honest disagreement between us because I think that there should be a development, a building, and also of course the development of the parklands. It should be, as we have all said, something appropriate, it should be something in keeping with the history and the amenity and the local area. I think it should be something that not just some sections but perhaps all sections of the community could enjoy including young people who I don't think do have enough amenities in this part of South London. So I would support an appropriate development after a proper environmental analysis, after proper consultation with all sections of the local community.
Can I say that yes, we are coming
up to a general election, it may be in a year's time, it may be in a
few weeks time, none of us really quite know, but let's try to focus
on the issue about the future of Crystal Palace and not on party
politics. I don't think we want to make a party political football
out of this as perhaps one of our speakers was trying to do. It went
to Bromley Council following the demise of the Greater London
Council. If some people really had been interested in conserving they
might have had the foresight to conserve the GLC. Thank you very
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I need to tell you about the other prospective candidate for the Croydon North seat, who is the prospective Lib Dem candidate, Sandra Lawman, and she answers the three questions in this way: She says that she would not promote a bill to transfer the Park to the Greater London Authority; she thinks it's more appropriate for it to be managed locally. Some of the particular proposed development may be unsuitable and it is probably appropriate to put pressure on the developer at a local level to change the plans. She agrees there has been a lack of a proper environmental assessment and deplores that fact but considers that it would be wholly inappropriate to attempt to revoke a decision of a local authority and would set a precedent.
She says that the environmental considerations need to be taken into account particularly the impact of so many cars and a 950-space rooftop car park is too many and public transport needs to be improved in the area.
If she is elected, she says, she'd be happy to work with the community and funding agencies to seek an environmentally sensitive future for Crystal Palace Park and would give that move her entire backing and she says that since the work hasn't yet started on the development we should be putting further pressure on the developer now.
So that concludes the speakers and writers in respect of Croydon North and the last speaker we are going to hear from today is Jim Dowd who is from Lewisham West.
Now before I get to him I just want to tell you about the two other constituencies we wrote to, Lewisham East and Streatham. In Lewisham East, Bridget Prentice, who is the prospective Labour candidate, and Darren Johnson, the Green candidate, whom we know well, send apologies. Darren is of course the Mayor's environmental adviser and we have seen him at previous meetings. We got no reply from David Buxton the Lib Dem candidate or David McKinnes the prospective conservative candidate. Again see if you can go and meet them, take the Campaign to them. Streatham, none of the candidates from Streatham replied to our invitation. They included the Labour Minister for London, Keith Hill, who works in John Prescott's Environment Department (laughter) so I hope that we will manage to get him to a future meeting. We also had no replies from Roger O'Brien, who is a prospective Lib Dem candidate, Saieed Muhammed, the prospective Green candidate and Gary Johnson, the prospective Conservative candidate - so we really do hope we are going to hear a little bit more from all of those prospective candidates in Streatham as the election trail wears on.
But I am however very very pleased
to welcome Jim Dowd who is the Labour MP for Lewisham West. He sat
for 20 years on Lewisham Council. He has been an MP for 10 years. He
is a life-long Forest Hill resident and he is also a government whip.
So welcome, Jim Dowd. (applause)
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Jim Dowd - Labour MP and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West
Thank you Philip. I will speak rather quickly because as I understand it we have three minutes of Labour time left and I will get sent off if I don't. Well I am delighted to be here again, well not really delighted because the issues haven't changed since the last time we were in this very room and my position hasn't changed either. I believe that Bromley's handling of this matter from the outset, well if we say it has left much to be desired that is a considerable under-statement. I wanted to support particularly what Tessa and Geraint and Malcolm had to say. My simple view is that regardless of the legal technicalities, and there are many as I am sure you will all be aware, this particular scheme has run its course. My feeling is that it will go no further and that really the whole thing should be started again. I know that this has been a derelict site for 65 years and to be honest another couple of years won't make much difference. It is more important to get this issue right than it is to get it done quickly. Malcolm says he remembers going to see the cars at Crystal Palace. I remember hearing them from our back garden in Forest Hill, particularly on bank holidays. Anybody who has lived in this part of South East London remembers Crystal Palace with great affection.
The big problem we have with Crystal Palace, and it is one that has been alluded to before, is the question of where it sits because the people who have the responsibility in this, Bromley Council, are most immune, or immune to a large degree, from those who have the strongest feeling about it. I remember in the campaign to save the GLC in 1986 there was a leaflet specifically put out about the area along Crystal Palace Parade and saying there are five boroughs there, within a few hundred yards of each other and therefore, with Crystal Palace Park on its doorstep, being an important asset to all the boroughs in that area. That was one of the issues we raised at the time; it was an issue that has now come home to roost and it's come home to roost in a way that is not beneficial to at least four, and I suspect five boroughs' residents in the area.
Briefly to the three questions. Geraint's Bill. I am actually the government whip with responsibility for private members' bills. I was happy to advise him about how to put down a presentation bill. I was also realistic enough to advise him on what its prospects of making progress were particularly as one of the leading, or the leading assassin of private members' bills is actually a Conservative MP from Bromley... so it's hardly likely to make much way. The actually technicalities of it I am less worried about. I think it raises the issue and it makes plain that here one of the glaring anomalies of the abolition of the GLC has presented itself in a way which is not to anybody's benefit and we need to keep the issue alive. I would much rather there was a consortium of the local boroughs, equally weighted, and this was a scheme I remember that Tessa advanced when we were at a meeting here about 12 months ago, precisely to ensure that the interests of all local residents are taken adequately and fully into account.
On the second question, the revocation of the planning permission, I mean I am not quite sure because the legalities are still being pursued and the matter is still before the courts. The environmental impact assessment - I don't know if it was or wasn't necessary, Bromley had advice that it wasn't necessary at that stage - I am less concerned about the legal technicalities of it than it is patently obvious there is a glaring and overwhelming need for one to take place (applause) and that we should insist that that be considered in the round.
As to the last bit, bringing the
community and funding agencies together to seek an environmentally
sensitive future for Crystal Palace Park, of course that's true. It
is a great asset to people of this area. It can be an even greater
asset. I won't go into the aesthetics of the architecture and all the
rest. As a matter of fact the building in the area that looks most
like the old Crystal Palace is actually the Homebase on Bromley Road
in Catford (laughter) so I am sure it wouldn't be a very great
challenge to improve on that but I am delighted to be here. Thank you
very much indeed. (applause)
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Thank you very much indeed Jim who was the only speaker from Lewisham West. We invited the conservative candidate Gary Johnson and the Lib Dem candidate Richard Thomas, neither of them replied to our letters so please go and take the Campaign to them.
Before we move on to questions from the floor I just need to raise one very important matter and I am going to do it as quickly as I can but it is crucially important. This big document is Bromley's Unitary Development Plan. Now we have given you a handout about the Unitary Development Plan; it was the one sheet of paper which was on your seat this morning when you arrived. Please make sure you leave with it when you leave the meeting today or come and ask us, we will give you more copies. It is crucial because it answers this question: When is a park not a park? And the answer to the question is when a local council describes the top site on that park as 'disused land' and makes a long term policy proposal for that site as providing 'leisure and recreational development with associated food and drink premises in conjunction with the existing bus station'. It is rather like somebody designing the British Museum and saying 'oh, let's do it in conjunction with the Russell Square tube station'. You don't design in conjunction with a bus station, you don't design at all. Also, the National Sports Centre is designated as what's called a 'major developed site'.
Now you can see what Bromley has got in mind. They want to enshrine in their long term policy for the Park something which will sound the death knell for the Park as we know it. Even if we beat off this multiplex development, this big document is a bugle call for commercial developers to come and cover our Park in concrete. Therefore it is crucial that we defeat this iniquitous document. Now the Crystal Palace Campaign, is opposing, is objecting to the Unitary Development Plan; our objection will be heard at a public inquiry, either later this year or early next year, by an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.
But this is where we need your help. If you do nothing else for the Crystal Palace Campaign this year please, when you get home, write to Bromley objecting to this plan. Use the handout as a basis if you need to or form your own views about it. For the licensing hearing, which went so wonderfully well for us, 600 people wrote into the court objecting, and it created a major impression. Well let's do it again; let's make a tidal wave of objection. Once you have written ask your husband to object, ask your wife or your partner, your kids, your parents, your neighbours, set up something within your street within your office or your work place, your church, your club, your sports association, I don't mind, let's make a tidal wave of objection and knock Bromley backwards. If we win a public inquiry, and these policies are changed, and changed in the way we want, then we will have left a legacy of protection for this great Park and a blue print for a proper future for the Park which respects its history, its status as parkland and its residential surroundings. There is only one way to win this thing, ladies and gentlemen, by being united, so let's unite, and with right on our side, I've got no real doubt, we are going to win. (loud applause)
Jim Dowd has to leave; he has got a
pressing engagement. We are very grateful that he came. Please show
your appreciation to him. (applause) Questions from the floor,
relevant to Crystal Palace, and because we are quite limited in time,
questions please rather than speeches. First hand I have seen up
there is Sue Nagel, previous Chair of the Campaign and the
progeniture of this Campaign and a real driving force behind this
whole objection, Sue. (applause)
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I have a question to Malcolm Wicks
and to Tessa please. As a result of huge public opposition John
Prescott issued an Article 14 Directive which effectively stopped the
scheme progressing while he considered whether to call in the plans
or not. A simple official request from your councils asking him to
call in the plans would have probably stopped the development then. I
would like to ask them, I mean they made all the right public
opposition at the time and said all the right things, did they
actually do the one thing that would have stopped it. Did either of
them actually officially ask John Prescott to call in the plans?
Let me answer that first. I did two
things - almost immediately after the election I wrote to John
Prescott when the application was first submitted making precisely
the point about the importance of bringing the five affected boroughs
together in order that there was a proper strategic view of the
development of the site and I asked him in fact on 26th July, to
intervene informally in order to ensure that that happened. As you
rightly say Sue, the Article 14 period of reflection, period of
grace, was then triggered. It was triggered among other things by
representations from College Branch Labour Party expressing their
opposition to the scheme and requesting, from memory, I haven't got
the letter with me, requesting that the application be called in. I
then approached the DETR and was advised that my request, that the
application should be called in, should be referred through the
Government Office of London since at that point the Secretary of
State is in a quasi-judicial role and, therefore, it was not
appropriate to make direct representations to him. And that I did,
and similarly in representations to Bromley.
Thank you very much Tessa. Next question please. I haven't heard a question from this gentleman; the gentleman behind &endash; the one with the microphone - I am so sorry, Malcolm do you also want to answer that?
Similarly I made representations to John Prescott and to ministers both formally and of course there are informal opportunities to present one's views and ministers have been aware all along of my opposition to the scheme as I articulated earlier.
(to questionner in the audience) Could you please introduce yourself?
Robert McConnell - Councillor, Lambeth
My name is Councillor Robert McConnell; I am the Liberal Democratic councillor of Knight's Hill, Lambeth. I would like to ask Tessa whether she has used her influence with Lambeth Labour Council, all of whom have strongly supported this development from the beginning. (applause)
Well Robert, I have made my
opposition to the development clear from the beginning. I know, and I
have talked to councillors, colleagues on Lambeth Council, about the
development, about the degree of hostility to the development. I have
had similar conversations with my colleagues on Southwark Council.
Certainly Lambeth Council have been very active in promoting the need
for an environmental impact assessment. (interruption
from floor from a councillor on Lambeth Council, who did not use a
hand microphone, and therefore could not be reported)
I don't want to take any more confrontational speeches we will take questions but can I just make something clear because I do know a little of the background. I am not saying what you say is wrong Sir (to Lambeth councillor) but I do know that Lambeth Council initially, when the planning application came in, was the only council which said that there should be environmental assessment.
(Lambeth councillor - When Bromley asked them to make representations... Lambeth declined on the basis that this was a good development that would benefit the local community and there was no need to make representations.)
I think you are right about that. Tessa do you want to sum up on that issue?
Let me say that I have had more
public, on the record conversations with ministers, with councillors,
about this development, and also off the record discussions with
councillors and ministers about this development, ministers at every
level in government than on any other single issue. I am perfectly
prepared as I have done with the Crystal Palace Campaign with whom I
have been regularly in touch about this development to explain what I
have done. I have worked tirelessly over the last four years to get
this development stopped in every possible respect. (applause)
There is not, as this hall reflects, there are divisions between
conservatives in Southwark and the conservatives in Bromley there are
different views about this. I am here this morning as your
representative to make absolutely clear my determination to do
everything I can, everything I can, to ensure that there is no
multiplex on the Crystal Palace site, and secondly to make sure that
any development that does proceed is a development that attracts the
support, of the people, all the people, from a whole range of
backgrounds, that I represent. That is my responsibility and that is
what I intend to do.(applause)
Thank you very much Tessa. I am going to try to find faces I haven't seen at our public meetings before and I am also going to ask those questioning, could they try to look forward to the future if possible because we are in the present and we are trying to work in the future and could they try and address questions to all four of the parties so that we get a full spectrum. Gentleman there in the blue sweater had his hand up - take the microphone and introduce yourself, please.
Thank you very much. My name is Stephen Flood. I am one of Tessa Jowell's constituents. I realise that there could possibly be a conflict of interest between being a government minister and therefore you must assume collective responsibility for the decision by John Prescott, but in the future, after the election, will you publicly endorse the three statements on this piece of paper say, yes, yes, yes and actually act publicly in the interests of your constituents, because at this point we need a final push to make sure that this thing doesn't go forward and it's public statements and public actions that actually count. (applause)
I addressed each of those points
when I spoke earlier. I explained to you, as both Geraint and Jim
have done, the potential shortcomings of the private bill route. I
wholly support, wholly support, the intention behind Geraint's bill
and indeed as far back as 1997, was pressing John Prescott to ensure,
this was before the GLA, to ensure that the five boroughs, rather
than just Bromley, took responsibility for the development. I have
spent hours and hours of time since 1997 on seeking to ensure that
there is community support for the way ahead. I explained to you...
you know it's easy to come to a meeting like this, and get the loud
cheers and to go away with no responsibility at all for then making
it happen. I have explained to you what the obstacles are to the
revocation of the planning permission. What I want to ensure is that
the planning permission is never activated not that local communities
get saddled with enormous bills for compensating a developer whose
scheme they never, ever wanted in the first place. So I hope I have
done justice to the question. I will continue to explain my position
but simply asking me to respond with a yes, yes, yes does not do
justice to the complexity of the answers that you
I'd like to take someone who has a question for all of the candidates rather than just focussing on Tessa. Richard Francis at the back
I don't want anyone going away wanting to put a question to me that they have been unable to do but as I explained to you I have to be in Norwood High Street in the next 10 or 15 minutes so I am very happy to take any further questions or to attend a further smaller meeting if there are still people who wish to put points to me.
Thank you. I was just trying to
ensure that everyone here on the platform got a crack of the whip and
that the spotlight wasn't solely on you but let's see how it goes...
If Tessa needs to slip away thank you very much again for coming and
thank you again for your suppport. (applause)
Richard Francis from Thornton Heath, in the Croydon North constituency.
Richard Francis from Thornton Heath, which is in the North Croydon contstituency. A question specifically for our MPs present here today, and Jim Dowd who has just left us, and in particular for Tessa Jowell. I do believe that the European Commission asked for a specific answer on a number of points to do with the environmental assessment and the UK Government was supposed to have answered the European Commission by January at the latest. I understand it now to be late April and I have seen nothing in the newspapers or nothing anywhere else to suggest that the UK Government has come up with a satisfactory response. Could you kindly tell us what is happening, or rather why is nothing happening? (applause)
Well my understanding is that the discussions are still being undertaken. That the UK Government has not yet provided its response to the Commission. I think all of us in light of our constituency interests have sought to influence that but it's important to remember that when we act in relation to this we act not as ministers we act as constituency members of Parliament. But I will, through Philip and Fred and the Crystal Palace Campaign, endeavour to take all necessary steps to ensure that as soon as a government view is being transmitted to the Commission that you know what that view is.
Richard can I just say that as you
are one of my constituents, as your constituency MP, I will write to
John Prescott and ask him for what the news is now on the timing of
Thank you. Gentleman with the tie. Can you take the microphone please and introduce yourself?
My name is Carlos Cortiglia. I live in West Norwood and I have been in West Norwood for the last six years. Very recently we have started to pay in our council tax an important amount of money that was increased by 22% this year for the Greater London Authority. Every one of you pays council tax and every one of you pays for the Greater London Authority. So why not put all the parks under the Greater London Authority so they have the money to recover the parks and not to have to use private money to destroy them. (applause)
Thank you for that. I think that
the candidates have really answered that question already so I am not
going to ask them to answer it unless any one of them has got
something specific they want to say about it. No? I see some shaking
heads. Let's take the next question. I do want to see a face I have
never seen before. There is one; you Madame. Could you stand up and
introduce yourself please.
Amy Orman, Tessa Jowell's constituent
Hello. I am Amy Orman and I am one of Tessa Jowell's constituents and I have lived in Upper Norwood for 25 years. Now you were talking about looking to the future and I was wondering if we could get lottery funding to employ a really, really good architect who would be sensitive to the Park, so that all us campaigners would like his designs. I mean this cinema-thing isn't architect designed is it? It's just plonked down (laughter) and have we thought about that I am not quite sure.
Yes. We didn't really want to take questions on this table today. But can I just give my little potted answer to that and then let Ken Lewington who has probably got a much better idea of lottery funding than I have.
The view of the Campaign, and this is set out really in our core principles and also in the questions to candidates, is that what one really desperately needs to do is to try to bring together national funding together with communities and local authorities to think of something really wonderful to do with Crystal Palace Park. One wonderful idea would be just to keep it as a very wonderful park. Why not? (applause) And there are lots of wonderful examples up and down the country of lottery funding having been used in this way. At one of our previous meetings we heard a speaker from Mile End Park in East London, which turned a terribly derelict urban area into a really fantastic linear park. There are other wonderful park schemes. The National Botanic Gardens in Wales is one or even the Eden Project in Cornwall is another. These are wonderful examples of real, either horticultural or open space projects, which come together with national funding.
Now as a Campaign, we have
something of a difficulty because this community is a very broad
church and some people feel, probably I guess most people feel, that
this should be treated as open space but some people have got ideas
for specific proposals. We have specifically not aligned ourselves to
one specific project because we feel if we do it will alienate us
from certain parts of our supporters so instead what we have done is
to specify core principles which will guide us in the process of
working out what ought to happen to Crystal Palace Park but this
process of bringing a very disparate community together to work out
what the future should be is a very difficult and sensitive question
and the more guidance we can get from the community, about how we
should take ideas forward without alienating parts of our support, we
would appreciate guidance, we really do want to hear... because it is
not an easy question. Ken you probably want to say something about
this as well.
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Ken Lewington - Crystal Palace Campaign Deputy Chairman
Yes. I just wanted to say that we already have had in fact a lottery funded architectural project on this Park. It was put together by a certain Mr Ian Ritchie, who wants to put an 18 screen multiplex on the top site, and it's known as the, well it's not actually known as this, it's called the Crystal Palace concert platform, but it's known by lots of other names like the "rusty skip on the Park", so if that's the sort of thing we will get with lottery funding, well I will leave that with you. I really don't know the way forward on that one.
Can I just mention that Malcolm and Geraint have a meeting that they have got to get to in Croydon and so will be leaving in a few minutes so can we just voice our appreciation for their attendance today. (applause) Question here from MikeWarwick. Can you introduce yourself please.
Mike Warwick - Crystal Palace Campaign
Good afternoon everybody - Mike Warwick of the Crystal Palace Campaign. I have to put this as a question to meet the stipulations of our Chairman and they are really addressed to the Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidates who spoke first. I would like to ask Alex if he is aware, even, of the function of the GLA and its relationship or interaction with the London mayor and the London Assembly because it is astonishing how many people don't understand it - many politicians and even some ministers if we can use what's been said today as evidence. But I would just like to say this, Alex you show incredible parliamentary prospective potential. In reading from a prepared statement and not addressing one of the questions at all. (applause) - [...well we need a question here please - PK] But of course that is your right.
I would like to say to you that the
dilapidation that you refer to generally at Crystal Palace Park is
contrived. It is a pre-meditated policy which has been applied by
Bromley. (loud applause) There's little doubt in my mind and I
believe in many others, that this is simply a policy to cause people
to abandon their resolute opposition and say anything will do and
your oblique reference to financing when you said that we may have to
have it whether we like it or not. Alex, are you even aware that
there is more than £7.5 billion available in government coffers
which has come from the lottery, and of course the government don't
just lob it out - fortunately -, it is quite difficult to get it, and
incredibly £400 million has been allocated directly by Chris
Smith in what he called his green lottery initiative for, believe it
or not, the regeneration, restoration, recovery and development of
parks and open spaces and woodland areas for recreation. Would you
just note that, and Caroline I believe it is, [Mike, we really
need a question here, a lot of people want to ask questions -
PK] - well it will be a question, Caroline... are you aware
that, when I applauded what you said that you would not support the
Bill, it was to demonstrate that applause could not be provoked. I
was the only person to applaud you and I applaud your courage in
saying it but what you said, Caroline, I thought was rather bizarre.
The GLA, the Greater London Assembly, is what could be called a
political peculiar [Mike, this is now a speach...-
PK]. In view of what you have allowed chairman may I ask a
question? Are you aware, Caroline, that one of the direct
responsibilities of the London Mayor who has the executive power, not
the Greater London Authority please note, is the allocation of land.
And if there is anything more appropriate than the allocation of
Crystal Palace Park to commercial development, please tell me what it
is. I think it should be back with the London Mayor.
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Thank you very much indeed Mike for posing those questions and putting those points. They are all quite relevant and all quite interesting. Firstly I would like to say that I did answer the three questions that were put to me, before this meeting and I believe they are on the bits of paper that you have on your seats. I didn't want to address them in the speech then as I didn't just want to reel off a list of questions or answers which we've heard from other candidates but wanted to address the much wider issues posed by the whole redevelopment and the whole principles behind funding the regeneration of the Park and I am sorry if you feel you didn't have an opportunity to really feel how strongly how I felt about those issues but they are on the bits of paper that you have in front of you.
I am aware of the GLA function and the way that the London mayor works, and because I am aware of it, I know that the GLA isn't the right place to put the Park. It's not the right place to have the Mayor making decisions which are best made locally to most people to whom they affect because the mayor and the GLA have a much wider brief. They have to deal with the whole of London as one of the speakers said you don't really want to have electors or voters on the other side of London influencing how something like the Crystal Palace Park is redeveloped because they are not going to be interested in it. It's the people who live in the boroughs around the Park who are the most affected, have the biggest stake, and should have the biggest say in how the Park is redeveloped and I think it is quite right that the Park should stay within local authority control whether that is under one authority or the idea of having a coalition of authorities to look at it is also an excellent idea and I would support that.
I am sceptical of the point that you put that the dilapidation is a deliberate policy. I don't think anybody in their right mind, however cynical would want to let a park fall into disrepair. (noise from audience) Well, I am sorry that you ascribe such cynical motives to people that are trying to actually improve things. There has just been no money. (more noise from audience) Councils all over the country, not just in London, authorities all over the place are strapped for cash. Central government does not give local councils enough money to perform and fulfil all the functions they need to do, let alone would like to do, unfortunately as I said, and Bromley is not unique in this, all the councils have this problem, other priorities are more worthwhile, education, social services, public housing. All those sorts of things unfortunately are more pressing than the state of the Park. I would love to have seen Crystal Palace Park maintained in a state which everybody could use it safely, enjoy it happily and have access to it all year round but unfortunately that hasn't been the case. I will support and I do support plans and moves to redevelop the Park so that it can be like that again.
Now, I spoke about various sources
of money. I would be delighted if we could get money, public money,
with which to redevelop the Park and I would be happy to apply to
every fund in the kingdom in order to do that. Unfortunately as you
said it is very difficult to get that sort of money so if we want to
redevelop the Park in a timely manner in the sort of fashion which we
all want to see we may have to bite the bullet and say okay, let's
strike a balance between having some commercial development to
generate some funds and let's redevelop the Park. It's a practical,
pragmatic approach, that is all I am saying. I would love to have the
public money if we could and if we can go down that route I really
would support that but I am just saying you may have to be slightly
more pragmatic and practical about it if you want to get the
redevelopment which we all want.
top of speech; speakers index [.. do you want to add anything, Caroline...?- PK]
Just about the point about the GLA and the Mayor. When one refers to the GLA that obviously means both parts of the London Assembly meaning the Assembly and mayor and I do think that it is wrong for the management of this Park to be left to people who may not live in this area, whatever, and it should be local residents around here pushing local councillors who you can kick out every few years, who should be the best people to manage this wonderful park.
The trouble with funding is, not that funding doesn't exist to help this Park in a green way, the problem is to get at the funding you have got to do it through Bromley Council and Bromley Council won't talk to us. That's the real log jam and it happened at the very beginning.
Russell Woodrow - in the shadow of the mast
Thank you very much. I am Russell Woodrow and I live in the shadow of the mast. I have a question for Geraint Davies regarding his Bill. A number of people have made the point this morning that it might not be such a good idea to turn the Park over to the GLA, there may be some support from past experience from this. With many others I demonstrated and campaigned in the early 70s to stop the GLC charging for admission to Crystal Palace Park. The fences are still there that the GLC put up in those days. We just managed to stop them putting up the gates and the cash desks. As one speaker has said this morning it might not be such a good idea to turn the fate of our Park over to the good citizens of Barnet and Uxbridge. Has Geraint Davies taken that point on board this morning. Is he likely to give it any consideration in respect of the Bill that he is promoting in parliament. (applause)
I certainly am taking cognisance of
the points that have been made at this meeting; this meeting is about
interaction and getting the best result for the Crystal Palace. I do
think that history has shown that Bromley hasn't got the competence
or ambition to develop this Park in a more holistic and
environmentally sensitive way that creates a beacon I think for the
whole of London. I think Crystal Palace has historically been a great
site that a nation has been proud of and I would like to think in
managing the future of Crystal Palace the GLA would obviously put
much greater weight to those people who lived in the surrounding
areas and particularly the neighbouring boroughs than to people who
lived in North London. I do feel that the current compromise put
forward in my Bill is the right way forward, I have got to say, but
obviously we will beg to differ on that. On the issue of access and
cost I agree it would be quite iniquitous for people living in North
London to charge entry into a park in Crystal Palace - I accept that
- I think the public have a right to open space, easy access and
respect for the environment and those are the driving forces behind
Right... I'm going to take three more questions before closing the meeting. And can I just say in advance who the're going to be.
My name is Elena Rushbrook, I am just within the Bromley borough. I want to ask a question before Tessa and Malcolm Wicks leaves which is have they actually spoken to John Prescott or has it just been through letter writing? I have spoken to John Prescott on the 24th February and I gave him a letter. I haven't had a written reply yet. I said please will you let me know when you are going to reply to the European Commission's formal notice of 11 October confirming that Bromley Council is in breach of European Directive 85/337. His response verbally was that Crystal Palace is a planning matter. It is not on his desk. He only deals with controversial issues (laughter) and after a few minutes he then said are you alleging that Bromley Council is in breach of European Directive. He doesn't appear to know that there is a European Commission formal notice so my question is - I did also ask him to read the letters which are being sent to him by Tessa Jowell and to speak to her &endash; but my question is have they actually spoken to him in person because he implied to me that he doesn't know anything about it. (laughter and applause)
I have spoken to John Prescott, I have spoken to Richard Caborn, I have spoken to Beverley Hughes I have spoken to Nick Raynsford, I have spoken to all the ministers who have a responsibility in relation to this - this has been regularly over the period of the last four years. I have spoken to John Prescott less than I have spoken to the others but I have certainly spoken to him.
Sheila McDonner a constituent of Tessa Jowell
I would like to follow on from the
last question. Does John Prescott actually know where Crystal Palace
is? (laughter) I would like to invite him as a member of your
constituency Tessa to drive up here so he can see for himself because
I honestly don't think he knows where it is. (applause)
Tessa, do you want to reply to that?
I don't think so.
I actually saw John Prescott the first time, I think it was round about Tessa Jowell's meeting but I only caught him on the pavement. This was in Hull by the way because that is where he is an MP - so he wasn't expecting somebody to jump out and talk about Crystal Palace in Hull. His response then was 'oh that's a football team isn't it?'. But when I tried to explain what I was saying and I said about there being Bromley borough and four other boroughs he said 'what's it got to do with them?'. So I tried to explain to him that it was on the top of a hill with five boroughs. This time when I saw him I said I know you are not very familiar with the area but he said he did know there were five boroughs so he does know there are five boroughs now.
Can I just say that I think it's
important that everybody understands that as a matter of law in
relation to the application John Prescott has a statutory quasi
judicial role. And in fairness to him - and I know you wrote to me I
think about your conversation - it doesn't move anything forward to
repeat off the record, private, informal conversations. What I am
saying is that from this meeting the four of us will write, there was
a question earlier about this, will write to John Prescott about the
timing of the UK Government's reaction to the threatened infraction
proceedings by the European Commission. The important thing is, in
order that we move forward, is that we make sure that the process is
right and that the process is transparent. That is what I am telling
you we will make sure happens.
Chris Brooks, Bromley constituency
Chris Brooks, a resident of Crystal Palace and a voter within the Bromley constituency. It's actually to Nicholas Vineall - I find myself in agreement with much of what he said and then I stopped and thought - Jacqui Lait, what does she think? I would like to ask Nick if he has made the same kind of impassioned statements, which I thought were very clear, to Jacqui Lait directly. That's my first question so if I can have an answer to that one first.
The answer is no. If she were here
she'd have heard them. I have to say what I think on a matter which
affects Dulwich and West Norwood and that is what I have said. I
didn't know whether or not she was going to be here until last week.
It's my view I have expressed it.
And a very good view. Thank you. And could you also let the Conservative party know that in the forthcoming election many people within that ward will be trying to stop the tory party getting in unless they chose to put forward statements that are very clear for Bromley ward since that is where much of the action is taking place. Thank you. (applause) (some talk off microphone...(
(I hope this next question involves one of the Green candidates...PK)
Yes it does actually involve the
green candidates; it actually involves all of the candidates. It goes
to the heart of why we are here today. The answer is because there is
no local consultation. Now we hear everyone talking about local
consultation and I have two questions which link in. I heard very
clearly what the green party said and also I think what Caroline
Pidgeon said very clearly about the need for local consultation for
sustainable futures. The question is this. What can you do to ensure
that local authorities will actually listen to their local population
either over this issue now or in the future. I am more concerned
about now because it is the Crystal Palace Campaign but that is my
question thank you.
(Well lets start with the Green candidates...PK)
I am not sure there is much more you can do apart from approaching them at all opportunities to make it clear what you think and secondly to make it clear next year at the ballot box. If councillors start to see that they get voted out if they don't listen to their electorate you are going to see a complete change in the way policies operate.
Could I just, while I have got the floor, point out on the issue of the GLA and the fact that you would have Barnet voters speaking on your behalf about Crystal Palace. It is a fact that there are 14 constituency members of the London Assembly but there are also 11 who are elected on the list who are pan-London and who have a responsibility to actually look at London as a whole. It is clear from a map that South London is very short of green space and I can assure you - Tessa said earlier that it is very easy to get cheers on an issue like this and then walk away and not have any responsibility - some of us do have a responsibility about this still and I would be quite happy to take over the responsibility for the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency after the next general election - (laughter and applause) and my answers to the questions would still be, yes, yes, yes, thank you.
(Let's go to the Conservative table...PK)
It's a very good question - how do
you get people locally to take more interest in local issues. In
Lambeth there is an attempt to solve it with local neighbourhood
forums. I am not actually sure that is the right solution because the
problem is you get people voted on to those local boards who have no
true decision-making power and no true democratic mandate. I may be a
little bit old-fashioned about this but I actually think the
fundamental point is, know who your local councillors are, talk to
your friends about what their policies are, whether they work hard or
whether they are never seen, and when it's time to vote, go out and
vote. Fundamentally that is the only way you will change things.
(Simon, you want to say something...PK)
Yes, just a quick word..clearly the wards that border on the edges of boroughs can take an active role in getting together. It's not impossible for a council to delegate powers to a sub-committee and agree that it will vote in accordance with the sub-committee that spans other boroughs. But I would quickly say that it's not just the Park. If there ever is development, one of the biggest problems we have in Upper Norwood is that the police won't cross borough boundaries quite often. If you do have the development, that will be more of a problem, not less, and we do need more joined-up government and more joined-up linkage between boroughs and so far we haven't been getting it.
Just a few points on that...I think
in terms of planning applications we do need to change the law to
make sure there is a far greater emphasis on the consultation with
residents in an area like this across boroughs and we need to change
the culture of local government. It is starting but it certainly
needs a radical shake up to understand that a consultation isn't a
poster tied around a lamp post, half way up, that you can't see. But
one thing that has started, I think Lambeth already have, and which
certainly has started in Southwark, is the idea of consultative
forums. Those of us who attended the Dulwich one will know how poorly
staffed and managed that process has been. But, as Liberal Democrats
on Southwark council we certainly have proposed that we should
actually have proper neighbourhood committees with devolved powers
and that is certainly a way that you would really be able not only to
be consulted but to have a say, a proper say, over matters that
affect your area locally.
(Thank you - and, finally, the Labour table...PK)
Let me just say two things. I think that we have been very clear and all the questions and contributions from the hall this morning have been very clear in insisting that there will be no development, no multiplex, and we will continue to campaign in order to stop that and we will do that together.
I think that what is less clear is what the alternative vision, and what the alternative proposals are within the context that we have all accepted which is that this is community power. The number of people who have come to meetings about this represents enormous potential power in the local community in order to get on that site a development in whatever form it may be, improved landscaping of the parkland, leisure facilities, whatever it may be. I think that we need to turn our attention not just to opposition, but what an acceptable alternative would look like.
There is one final point in terms of moving things on from this morning which is what I was able to talk about when I just nipped out a few moments ago. Geraint has introduced a bill in the House of Commons. Norman Warner, who is a Labour peer who lives locally in Dulwich, is also willing to introduce a bill in the Lords which is another opportunity that we will work together on to move this forward. So this has been a very important opportunity to take stock of where we are but we have got to stay ahead of the game. We will stay ahead of the game by recognising that we have got to look at constructive proposals as well as making sure that the proposals that are so hated locally never see the first brick laid.(applause)
Thank you very much. We are going to close the meeting. Is Lord Warner in the hall? Did I see Lord Warner in the hall before.
He has had to leave. But, he'll talk to you, we'll talk to him and we will move on from there.
PK Well he helped us in the licencing application which was absolutely terrific. I think we really must close the meeting. We've already gone well over our alloted time - we can't stay in the hall all afternoon. I'm keen to close the meeting now so I'm going to ask Fred Emery to do that...oh - if you can be very brief sir...
Brian Kelly Socialist Alliance candidate
Thank you - my name is Brian Kelly and I am the Socialist Alliance candidate who will be standing in Dulwich. My question really is a fundamental one which is that the problems in Crystal Palace Park have stemmed, I believe, from the way that a maverick council, whose mantra is greed is good, and that there is no such thing as societies being able to plan the destruction of Crystal Palace Park. As far as these questions go I support all of it. But I wasn't clear from what Tessa said whether she actually supported item one of it, which, I believe is fundamental, and that this Park should be returned to the GLA so there is a central organisation which would not allow one authority to dictate the policy to the rest of it. So my question to Tessa is that if she is elected will she support item one.
Thank you. That question has been
put to Tessa and I think it has been asked and answered so I am going
to call Fred Emery to close the meeting please.
Fred Emery - CPC Press Officer
All I want to say is this; thank you for coming. The full hall I see is tremendous. If any of these candidates ever saw a tenth of this number at an election meeting they'd give their eye-teeth for it. So it's brilliant that you came and we need your support. Before you go, if any of you are not active in the Campaign, and you're not all, I know, there are leaflets over there on the side which you can fill in to give us your details. We need you. It isn't just a simple matter of leaving it to a few people. Let me tell you, there are people who work themselves to exhaustion in this Campaign, organising meetings like this, concerts, back room boys and girls, you name it. There are people who've had to leave this Campaign for reasons of their own and we want to thank them. So as a last thing I am going to single somebody out here and I want you to give her a big hand. Lorna English has been in this Campaign from the start. She is now moving to Newcastle. She is what you would call a miracle worker. She has organised the data base and she has organised all the distribution of all the documentation that we have and she has provided copying on her own facilities for virtually nil expense. Lorna, we will never find your equivalent. Thank you with all our heart. (applause)
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8/6/01 Last updated 8/6/01
Glossary of abbreviations:
CPC - Crystal Palace Campaign
EIA - Environmental Impact Assessment
GLA - Greater London Authority (London Assembly)
GLC - Greater London Council (abolished by Mrs Thatcher)
GOL - Government Office for London
Lib Dem - Liberal Democrats
LPAC - London Planning Advisory Council
LRP - London and Regional Properties (Crystal Palace Park top site developers)
MEP - Member European Parliament
PK - Philip Kolvin
sp? - spelling uncertain
SRB - Single Regeneration Budget
UDP - Unitary Development Plan
(not all abbreviations may be required here)