Crystal Palace Campaign - Mayoral Meeting

15th April 2000 - Kingsdale School 1100 - 1300
Estimated attendance - over 1000.

Present on the top table - Patsy Barnes (Crystal palace Campaign), Philip Kolvin (CPC Chairman), Darren Johnson (Green Party), Ken Livingstone (Independent)*, Trevor Phillips (Labour)*, Irene Kimm(Conservative)*
* not full time
Glossary of abbreviations: go

Speakers - Statements - Questions

Answers - Remarks

Patsy Barnes

CPC meeting opening remarks 1100

Philip Kolvin

CPC Chairman and meeting Chairman - opening remarks

Darren Johnson

Green Party - opening talk

Philip Kolvin

Thanks to darren Johnson - explains question format

John Patterson - question

Philip Kolvin; Darren Johnson

Adam Abdoner - question

Darren Johnson

Val Shawcross - Statement/Question

Darren Johnson 

Philip Kolvin

Introduction for Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

Independent - opening talk

Mike Warwick - question

Ken Livingstone

Stephen Cowes - question

Ken Livingstone; Darren Johnson

Diane Barker - question

Ken Livingstone

Simon Walfisch - question

Ken Livingstone

Joe Figaro - question

Ken Livingstone; Darren Johnson

Mark Steele - Question

Ken Livingstone

Philip Kolvin

Thanks to Ken Livingstone - mug presentation.
Introduction for Trevor Phillips

Trevor Phillips

Labour Party - opening talk

Ken Lewington - question

Philip Kolvin; Trevor Phillips

Stephanie Lodge - question

Trevor Phillips; Darren Johnson

Nelson Valentine - question

Trevor Phillips

Philip Kolvin

Calls on Irene Kimm to read letter from Steve Norris (conservative)

Irene Kimm

Conservative - letter from Steve Norris & other remarks

local resident 1- question

Irene Kimm; Trevor Phillips

Philip Kolvin

Reads notes from Susan Kramer and Ram Gidoomal

Sidnamani - question

Trevor Phillips

Richard Francis - question?

local resident 2 - question

Trevor Phillips; Darren Johnson; Irene Kimm

Philip Kolvin

Mentions new legal challenge

Peter Archer - question

Philip Kolvin

winds up proceedings and present mugs

Full Text - 15th April 2000 Crystal Palace Campaign - Mayoral candidates meeting

Patsy Barnes

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Crystal Palace Campaign's Mayoral meeting. We, here, need no reminder about what has been proposed for the development on the top site of the Park. The huge building, which will dominate the skyline, is as big as two football stadiums. We believe that it is also far from the elegant design of Joseph Paxton and, further, it promises to become the highest and largest rooftop car park in the country. There is no social imperative for this building, there is no cultural uniqueness, all it is is a multiplex cinema with 4,800 seats, the largest of its kind in the South of England. Video arcades, bowling alleys, theme bars. Nothing that you can't find on a ring road outside an industrial estate all over England. I believe, and I know that a lot of people here too believe, that to keep the park, to preserve the park is something worth fighting for and to stop this development is genuinely very well worth fighting for. (applause)

The local community has stood shoulder to shoulder to fight for its environment, its park land and most of all its right to choose how the park should be used. Thousands of people, many of you here today, within the community have helped Crystal Palace Campaign by offering their services, distributing newsletters, in rain or shine, giving professional help or digging into their finances. Some 27 people put their funds and their houses and their livelihoods on the line to bring a legal action and they were supported financially by the contributions made by the community, that is an enormous tribute to the people in this area who protect and who do not want to see this development put up. The campaign is very proud, the Crystal Palace Campaign is very proud to have worked with other community groups locally, recently it has worked with the Boycott UCI Group on a march, on a National day of protect. It has established a group of groups with a number of the local amenity societies in the area and will continue to work to bring willing groups together so that collectively we can wield greater influence, but the person who we believe can wield the for most influence in London, at the moment, is the new London Mayor and we turn to these candidates to ask their views and to ask for their support.

The list of bodies and individuals who've expressed opposition to this horrendous development is quite formidable. I'll give you just a few names - The Parliamentary Select Committee on the Environment; The Select Committee on the Crystal Palace Act, The Council for Protection of Rural England, Friends of the Earth, London Wildlife Trust, The Green Party, the local authorities - Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham and Croydon have all come out on our side against the proposed development. Some ministers - Malcolm Wicks; Tessa Jowell; some MP's - the local MP's have been very supportive; members of the Lords - Lord Weatherall, a number of you will have come to the meeting last year when he spoke. The amenity societies particularly have been very supportive - The Dulwich Society, Croydon, Herne Hill, Sydenham all those people have really been enormously supportive and have backed everything that's been going on.

Now lets look whose on the other side, who actually supports this development? Well no prizes for guessing, there are only really quite few, there is Bromley Council, London and Regional, who signed up a deal before the local community was consulted and of course UCI, who hope to make the best of capitalising out of our park. 23,000 people signed partitions against this scheme, I believe I speak for them in opposing this development and we will be asking the candidates today for their views. Now let me hand you over to Philip Kolvin, who is the Chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign, whose going to introduce the speakers - thanks you very much. (applause) top of speech; speakers index

Philip Kolvin - chairman Crystal palace Campaign

Sustainable development came late to European civilisation. Only in 1987 did we define it as meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of our children to meet their own needs. Now the Navaho Indian has understood this for centuries. They have a saying "we do not inherit our land from our parents, we borrow it from our children". Children is a word that we've heard repeatedly, most recently on the National Anti-UCI Day, when this community went out the length and breadth of this Island and protested outside 27 multiplex cinemas across Britain. For my part, I stood with my wife and daughter near the now defunct shipyards of Clydebank and the good people of that town, many of whom have little, said yes we'll support your campaign, we'll sign your partition, after all children need parks.

The Mayoral debate so far has focused very largely on the question of public transport. That is an extremely important issue, particularly for those who use public transport every day. Those in work, for example, but it is not the only environmental issue in London. For children, their parents, the elderly, the unemployed for walkers, dog walkers, nature lovers, those who like to breath the air and those who just like to watch the passage of the seasons, a central issue is the quality of our local environment and our local park land. Today we are going to be asking the Mayoral candidates what will you do for our children? What will you do for their parks and what will you be doing for Crystal Palace Park in particular? Now we know that the days of beer and sandwiches at our high political tables have long since gone. But we are going to be expecting more than tea and sympathy from our London Mayor. We want a Mayor who can take action where local democracy has failed and where our environmental assets are being threatened.

The great scholar, Ruskin, once said:

"The measure of any great civilisation is its cities and a measure of a city's greatness is to be found in the quality of its public spaces, its parks and its squares."

Our question to these candidates today is how civilised is the London Mayor going to be? Now we're going to have Darren Johnson first. We trust that Ken Livingstone will be arriving in just a few minutes and Trevor Phillips ought to be arriving by midday. I am very pleased to welcome as our first speaker - Darren Johnson, he is the mayoral candidate for the Green Party. He has made Crystal Palace a central plant in his manifesto for which we are profoundly grateful. Can I say that some politicians are all mouth and no trousers - Darren is both mouth and trousers and his trousers have been very much in evidence at our Crystal Palace Campaign events, which he has attended and which he has supported come rain or shine.(applause) Darren Johnson, welcome again to Crystal Palace the floor is yours.(applause) top of speech; speakers index

Darren Johnson

Thanks you very much Philip and thank you everyone for that welcome. Whoever said the age of the big public meeting in election campaigns is dead has clearly not come to Crystal Palace before. It's so good to see so many people here ready to hear what the candidates are going to say. Philip says I'm the Green Party's mayoral candidate that's true - just in case you're worrying that, well he might not manage it, he might not get elected as London's first Mayor as a green mayor on May 4th, although I am certainly hoping for a very good result, a very credible result - I will be fighting for every vote possible. But just in case I don't become London's first Mayor I am also having an each way bet on the whole mayoral contest because there is also elections for a 25 member assembly as well, who will have an important role in holding the Mayor to account and scrutinising the policies and coming up with policy ideas and liaising with the public and involving the public in genuine process of participation.

I'm also heading the list - as well as standing for Mayor - I'm heading the list for the Green Party for the elections for the assembly, those are fought under proportional representation, so what ever happens in the Mayoral race, we are confident that we will get Greens elected and we will be playing a big part in the running of London and bringing Green ideas to London after May 4th. Certainly I know many of you here have told me on previous occasions that you voted Green in the European elections last June for the first time ever. Obviously then we were fighting to protect open space and reduce traffic and support local communities as big parts of our campaign and many people were enthused by the Green message and perhaps voted Green maybe just as a protest vote because they were so disillusioned and felt so let down by the behaviour of the three main parties locally and Nationally and you probably voted Green as a protest vote, but then, if you remember, it wasn't just a protest vote because we actually got someone elected. Under the proportional system last year, we got our first ever Green member of the European Parliament and you've seen her standing up here at a previous meeting actually pledging to take-up the issue of the lack of an environmental impact assessment for Crystal Palace, actually pledging to take-up that issue in the European Parliament as a petition and I am very proud to say that she has done that.

So your Green vote was not just a protest vote, we have now got a Green MEP working in the European Parliament to take-up the issue of Crystal Palace and she's presented that petition against the proposed multiplex at Crystal Palace in the Park. (applause) So I'd say do vote Green on May 4th, but do remember it will be more than just a protest vote, yes we've got a lot to protest about and certainly the behaviour of UCI, of the main political parties on Bromley Council, of the Government, there is certainly a lot to protest about but it's more than just a protest vote, a Green vote can make a difference.

We have pledged in this campaign, as I've done on numerous occasions that we would make Crystal Palace a key part of our campaign for the Mayoral elections. It's symbolic of what's happening right across London. Open space is being lost, new developments are going up, increasing traffic, increasing crime, destroying local communities and local shops and going against the wishes of local people and this symbolically has got to be a big part of our campaign and we have got to stop (this). So what we are saying in our leaflets which are going up right across London and within the next week or so every single voter in London will be receiving a booklet from each of the Mayoral candidates and we will be saying loudly and clearly in ours - stop environmentally destructive and traffic generating schemes such as the proposed developments on Crystal Palace Park and Rainham Marshes. Five million of those will be going out across London.(applause)

At mayoral debates as well, this has not been the only one, there has been Mayoral debates on every topic you could imagine, but on every topic you usually find that Crystal Palace can be slipped in somewhere and I've made sure it has been slipped in. English Heritage hosted a debate a couple of weeks ago about the role of the Mayor in terms of planning and environment for London and I think in many respects English Heritage has done some good work and is keen to actually improve the environment in our planning procedure in London and preserve historic building. But I had to castigate them from platform, I don't know if that's a rather rude thing to do, but I had to give them quite a firm rebuke from the platform even though they were hosting that event and say that their decision, because they must be consulted on any proposal for the future of Crystal Palace - and they actually decided that the original design by Joseph Paxton, that the spirit of that has been followed by the appalling concrete multiplex with the carpark on the roof and that was following the original spirit and design of Sir Joseph Paxton's original design. What nonsense! And I had to say that from the platform and have a go at English Heritage for that (applause) and it was widely reported as well.

But we have got a new opportunity with the new Greater London Authority and if there is a need for a new strategic authority for London then I think Crystal Palace and the whole issue of it just shows how much we do need it. The new body will have a strategic planning role in terms of how our space is used, obviously there is a need to protect open space - but we're saying that we want to see London not just as one sprawling metropolis but actually as a collection of 300 urban villages, each with their own community, with their own local shops and facilities and that means that we don't need more and more large multiplexes and large out of town shopping centres and large retail developments which destroy local communities, destroy open space and just encourage people to make longer and longer journey's by car.

The environment obviously is a big issue as well for the new authority and the Mayor will have a responsibility to draw up a bio-diversity action plan to protect our wildlife and open space. Certainly any Mayor who is serious about doing that cannot allow this development to go ahead and will do everything within their powers and put the full weight of the Mayor's office behind the campaign to ensure that this development never does go ahead.

On transport as well, Philip was saying that transport has been the big issue in the campaign so far, its not just about public transport though, its actually about looking at how we reduce traffic and how we reduce peoples needs to travel and building new multiplexes is simply not going to reduce peoples need to travel and its not going to reduce traffic, so we need to bear that in mind as well.

The Mayor has a role in economic development as well. In London we've got 13 of the poorest boroughs in the whole of England - in the whole of the Country actually - we've got huge gaps between rich and poor, we can't just concentrate on an economic strategy that looks purely at big business, that's not working - it is not providing Londoner's with the jobs that they need. So we need an economic development strategy which actually puts local communities and local businesses and local shops first and foremost and gives them the support that they need so we have a London not just of multinational companies but also of very strong thriving local economies, local shops and local businesses.

And finally the new Mayor and assembly also gives us a new opportunity for a new type of democracy in London. Over and over again at previous meetings of the Crystal Palace Campaign we've heard the call that we need proper participation in decisions for local people that affect local people and we need there full participation. So if the new authority is to work, we can't just have one Mayor and 25 assembly members making all the important decisions affecting London. If it it is to work we need to throw open the decision making process. We need to involve a whole range of community groups and organisations in the decisions that affect them and that's whether that is on the future of Crystal Palace Park, the maintenance of open space, on the whole range of other community issues in policing or transport or whatever - that participation is absolutely vital and were fully committed to that and Greens can get elected to the new authority on May 4th as I've said already and I would strongly urge you to think about voting Green, because we clearly can make a difference.

If you look at the behaviour of the three main parties on Bromley Council the Tories originally approved the development for Crystal Palace and then were thrown out of office and many people hoped that with the New Labour and Liberal Democrat administration there would be a chance to actually have a rethink - there has been no rethink whatsoever, the three parties have been blind to the arguments of the local community, blind to arguments about traffic, blind to the arguments about environmental destruction. And at National level too the Governments refusal to call in this decision has been shameful as well, the Labour Government has refused to do that and that again is shameful, we can stop this development. I was very saddened that the court case that Diane Barker had mounted was not successful but I was very pleased today when she told me that she will be going ahead with an appeal and she will fight it every step of the way. (applause)

That is what I say the Mayor of London must do after May 4th. If the Mayor is to serve the people of London properly to protect our open space and their environment to listen to local communities, to reduce traffic, to support local communities and local economies then they must do everything they can to ensure that this development never goes ahead. (applause) The full weight of the Mayor's office needs to be put behind the campaign to ensure that Crystal Palace Park is protected. Whatever decisions are made about its future, they need to be ones that properly involve the local community and we can go into more of those details through the questions but the local community needs to be fully involved in any decisions about its future and their needs to be a full environmental impact assessment before a single brick is laid on Crystal Palace Park.(applause)

But as Philip said at the start, I've been very pleased to have made this a big part of campaign for the Greater London elections on May 4th but I've also been even more proud to have played an active part in the campaign to save Crystal Palace Park. I will continue doing that whether I'm elected Mayor, whether I'm elected to the London Assembly, I will work closely with the local community to ensure that we protect Crystal Palace Park and other parks like it and we protect our open space and we actually start listening to local communities across London.

So please we're saying that in our manifesto we can actually give London a strong Green voice, London needs that, Crystal Palace Park needs that - vote Green on May 4th. Thank you.(applause)

Just to demonstrate to you that's not one of those hollow politicians pledges that you get at election time, I'd actually like to do this pledge in writing and actually like to invite Diane and Alexandra up on the stage. Diane took the very brave step of mounting her court challenge for her child's future for Alexandra's future So I want to give my pledge now to Alexandra and to everyone here - I'll read it out:

"Green Party pledge on Crystal Palace - we pledge to continue the fight for Crystal Palace Park. We do not want the multiplex, the Green Party is the only party to have consistently opposed the proposed development of Crystal Palace. We are the only party that can be trusted with London's environment"

I will sign this pledge now for Alexandra and for everyone else. top of speech; speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Darren Johnson, thank you very much - what we are going to do now is we'll have 5 minutes of questions just for Darren. Can I stress that today's meeting is about Crystal Palace Park and the environment, so we'll take questions but solely on that topic. Does anybody have any questions that want to put to Darren Johnson. speakers index

John Patterson

My name is John Patterson. I campaigned from 1995 to get an SRB bid for this area and I was pleased when it was successful and I'm now really appalled at the way it has been lead by Bromley council. I'm disappointed at the narrow view this campaign takes. The SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) was actually won by identifying - (PK) excuse me sir you are making a speech, do you have a question for Darren Johnson? - No no no (PK) I'm sorry sir - this is about the Crystal Palace Campaign - (PK) do you have a question - it is about the Crystal Palace Campaign - please let me finish my question (PK) you have a question for Darren Johnson - yes I do (PK) then put it please. The SRB budget - like you I'm fighting this one issue campaign - the SRB budget was won by identifying areas of poverty, deprivation and crime within this area. This campaign has provided a convenient smoke screen for the London Borough of Bromley with authority to misuse the public money, to subsidise the UDP provision and to subsidise the community charge to the better off community in Bromley and I think this is a more major issue that you should all be campaigning on and make your campaign just part of that issue about the misuse of public money by Bromley and the appalling state that this Government allows it to happen. Thank you. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

I think we can summarise - thank you sir for those views - think we can summarise that to Darren - there is an issue here that the SRB fund is being used, not really to regenerate the park but as some sort of excuse - is it something, Darren, you think you could do to work on if you got a seat on the GLA to do something about the way SRB money is being used in this case? speakers index

Darren Johnson

It's absolutely key, obviously I didn't go into SRB during my opening speech because we stuck mainly to the environment but certainly the issue of tackling poverty and looking at regeneration and building a strong local economies and local communities is absolutely essential to what we want through London. We don't achieve that through destroying our remaining open space. So I think Bromley have, as you say, have misused public money and are misusing the opportunities for regeneration, we can regenerate plenty of our brown-field sites, we can give all sorts of support for local businesses and improving housing, we do not regenerate by concreting over open space. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you - any more questions, any more questions for Darren Johnson. Gentleman at the back there with his hand in the air. You sir, with the glasses. speakers index

Adam Abdoner

Thank you. My name is Adam Abdoner (sp?). I campaign on school exclusion issues but my question today is - could you just clarify completely and with crystal clarity how much power the Mayor actually has in terms of preventing Bromley council and LRP going ahead with this if the Mayor chooses to do so. Because you use the term "everything in their power" and I would like to know what that power involves? (applause) speakers index

Darren Johnson

The Mayor will actually have responsibility for calling in planning decisions, major planning decisions. Around 150 to 300 a year the Government expects, controversial large scale planning decisions, to be called in directly by the Mayor from the local authorities. This decision obviously has already been made by Bromley Council and pre-empts the Mayor's office coming into effect but there is certainly plenty that the Mayor can do and I don't believe that the campaign's over yet and do not believe the issue has been resolved. So I think that full weight of the Mayor's office can be put behind the issue to continue to put pressure on Bromley Council and certainly I will as a GLA member or as Mayor will then explore every single avenue possible, legally, to ensure that this development does not go ahead and I think we can do that. In the longer term, looking at open space generally, the Mayor will be responsible for producing a spatial development strategy for the whole of London, looking at how we use our space, how we protect open space, all those sort issues. So certainly in the future there will be hopefully far more protection to ensure that ludicrous decisions by one borough which affects far more than just the one borough do not go ahead in the future. Its come at an unfortunate time but certainly we can do all that we can to ensure that the development never goes ahead. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you - one more question I'm going to take from the lady down here - can you introduce yourself please. Lady here in the check jacket. speakers index

Val Shawcross

Thank you chair. I'm Val Shawcross former leader of Croydon Council and as you know Croydon Council consistently and publicly and legally opposed and objected to this planning application (applause) and you know the council did so on very solid planning grounds, which was the traffic impact assessment that the council had done and I am glad to say that Croydon is maintaining that objection. Just to follow-up that last question actually, because the thing that does interest me now is what can the Mayor and the Assembly actually do about this dreadful situation we've got here and I do understand that it would be too late for the Mayor to use their planning powers... but, drilling into the act here, to see what other weapons the Mayor might have in his or her rattle bag, I'm struck by the question of the increasing fragility of the economics of multiplex cinemas around London, there has been quite lot said about that and I know there are proposed developments elsewhere in town centre areas which may well affect this and... you know... so that could now be welcome and I think town centres are the appropriate places for the multiplex cinemas of this sort, So looking at the possibility of how one might influence the economics of such developments, one questions whether or not there might be a bent put on the, how do I say it, the workplace parking charge, licensing issue.

Now I know that, you know, I'm not a lawyer, Philip I know you are, but it just struck me that providing the Mayor operated a fair and universal scheme that was legally checked out, i.e. it might be saying the new car parking places going on previous metropolitan open land or green land would be subject to a very onerous charge, that kind of thing, do you see what I mean, (applause) because the green land in London, there is nothing more precious for out future I think, and its the poor kids who need that green land this is not a middle class, chattering class issue, (applause) its the kids in the flats.

So what I want to know is - do you think there is anything else in this rattle bag of the act that we could use and do you think that there might be some legal possibilities of employing the car parking tax to alter the economics of this situation because that's the sort of thing I think we ought to be doing everywhere for the future and it could possibly have a positive impact on other detrimental planning ideas elsewhere like supermarkets and so forth.(applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you Val -

Darren Johnson

I hadn't thought of the car parking one per se, I'm the only Mayoral candidate whose actually saying that I'm prepared to use the car parking levy, it is a work place parking levy rather than a general levy on all parking spaces for use by customers, so there may be limits to the impact that that will have but certainly that is worth looking into. I think we have got to look at whatever legal challenges we can make, this campaign is certainly not over, we've got to look at whatever legal challenges are available whether economic, whether environmental, whether on planning grounds, whether on traffic grounds or whatever and I think we've got to explore every single one of them and continue this fight to ensure it never goes ahead. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you Darren Johnson - we may come back to you later - Now whose going to win this election on May 4th? - lets look at our crystal ball, we thought the thing to do was look into history and see if it gave us any clues. We started with Dick Whittington, where else, there was Dick strolling up Highgate Hill with his trusty old cat by his side, he heard the sound of Bow Bells chiming in his ears, turn again Dick Whittington Lord Mayor of London. Well it turns out there is one crucial mistake in that story. Dick Whittington's pet wasn't a cat it was a newt. (laughter) Now, I've got to say that Susan Kramer, its a little secret, Susan Kramer the Lib Dem candidate can't be here today because she is somewhere in Ruislip and that's a perfectly justifiable excuse, but her campaign manager did say that she wasn't sure whether Susan would like to turn up to Ken Livingstone love in anyway. Now I don't know what a love-in is actually, but I'm hoping that our next speaker is going enlighten us. There is a strange irony that brings Ken Livingstone to this meeting today. He was actually a player at the very beginning of this drama, because as leader of the GLC, Ken Livingstone actually had stewardship of Crystal Palace Park and on the demise of the GLC the park fell into the hands of the London Borough of Bromley and so our troubles have followed from that. Our question today for Ken Livingstone is, is he going to resume a part in this drama, is he going to take centre stage during the final act? Ladies and Gentlemen I'm very pleased to present to you Mr. Ken Livingstone.(applause) speakers index

Ken Livingstone

Thank you very much for that fine introduction. There is another historical irony here... back in 1973 I was first elected to Greater London Council for what was then the Norwood constituency which came right up to South Croxted Road and just went literally up to the triangle so Crystal Palace was an impact locally in the area... and we had a campaign then because the Tory administration at the GLC had come up with plan to fence off the prehistoric monsters and charge people to go in it and I'll tell you there were some incredible meetings. People were so angry about that and it was a major factor and I was always there and influenced - as somebody who grew up in West Norwood - made aware of the importance of this park and I really do regret that in creating a Mayor and assembly for London the government hasn't given the Mayor back control over the great strategic parks so they can get resources from across London and actually be integrated into an overall strategy because the reality is Bromley has taken a very narrow very narrow, profit driven, really don't give a damn-attitude in terms of the local environment.

I don't want to go on for too long because - I didn't catch all of Darren's speech - I doubt that there was much of it I wouldn't agree with. I can't make any easy promise about what we will be able to do because, when the Mayor takes office on the July 3rd... that's the other problem in this... the Mayor gets elected on May 4th but then there is this ten week rest period. We were told it was to allow the candidate to rest after what would be a strenuous campaign, in actual fact, they were hoping they would be able to get the partial privatisation of the tubes through in mid Summer, (laughter) fortunately that's slipped back as well. So anything that happens after July 3rd where there is a planning implication will come before the Mayor. Like Darren, my response would have been quite simple. If I'd have been Mayor at a time when this planning application came up I would have directed the Borough Council to refuse it. I can see no justification for consuming any of the remaining green space that exists in London. We have clearly got to do more development, build more homes, but there are enough brown-field sites in London to accommodate all of that and the Mayor has to make a priority to defend the little bit of green space that we have still got in this city.

I grew up exploring London's parks. I spent a quite disproportionate portion of my early life wandering around Brockwell Park - it was a safe place to be. I'd like to think we could get back to the days when we had "Parkies". You'd see park keepers that were there as a regular presence. (applause) One of the most frequent events - were me and my mates lurking around on Brockwell Park - we also said "look out for the Parkie" they were there, which of course meant we had to watch out and not get up to too much of anything, but our parents didn't have to worry that we would be safe in the park and its that constant withdrawal of the people that provide a front-line service that I think is one of the things that has gone wrong over this last or 30 years.

What I will do - I'll make this clear - because if you heard Darren's speech, I think that is just about the most powerful case for saying (that) even if this wasn't a particular issue that will still be going on that there desperately does need to be a strong green presence in the London assembly and I do hope that if I'm elected Mayor that there's going to be a block of Green assembly members because I will want their advice to bring to bear on these sorts of issues and as Darren is number one on the list, I make this pledge to you, if I'm elected Mayor, because there will be a lot going on. One of the things I will do is bring Darren into my cabinet, so there will be a constant environmental voice making the Mayor and everybody else aware as each of these decisions come up - and what I'll ask him to do, because it's a full time job, the assembly members, is to take on board an immediate overall responsibility for co-ordinating the Mayor's strategy to try and stop this project going ahead. Give him the resources that are required in terms of officers, staffing and so on so that we can explore all these possibilities. As the other planning applications come forward, with all their impact on transport and so on and the point that Val Shawcross raised there whether you could look at some parking way of trying to affect this. If there is any way that we can find to try and prevent this development going ahead, rewind us back to where we were before, I'll give Darren the resources to make sure he can find that and then we'll act on it together (applause) and that's the sort of approach I want to see.

And if I make one final point - because I don't want to go on too long and I've got my environmentally noise damaging bus coming round to pick me up again and go and disturb and generally make peoples' lives miserable all over South London (laughter) - today it is this - there's an overall issue here about planning. Up until Mrs Thatcher coming to power, there was a presumption in favour of the objector in our planning law and a small determined group of people could actually bring a great development virtually to a dead stop if it was not in the interests of an area. One of the first acts of Mrs Thatcher's administration was really to change the planning law so you reverse the presumption. Presumption is in favour of the developer and you have to have an overwhelming case to stop them. Now I think we've got to argue that we want to go back to the situation before. It must be if someone wishes to change our environment that they have to make the case to do it, not us that wish to preserve what we've already got (applause) - and it could get a lot worse with the Mayor.

I was opposed to having a Mayor and we had a referendum that's the issue resolved - but one of the great doubts I had about having a directly elected Mayor still remains, its a vast concentration of power in one persons hands and nowhere more so than on planning issues. The 150 most important planning applications every year in London will cross the Mayor's desk and the Mayor will have the power to direct refusal and so on but it's not even like we've been used to - in your struggle with Bromley - where you go, there you lobby the councillors and all of that and some of them you can move and some of them you can't - you're going to have one individual take this decision. The potential for corruption that someone can say to the Mayor "I'll see you all right few years down the road when you're out of office, get a place on the Board, nice little extra salary of say £40,000 a year, just let this through" - it is so easy to do, you don't actually have to catch someone giving over the brown envelope, like there used to be a long standing scandal on Leicester City council, almost every member of the council, Labour or Tory, were all involved in development. They were either builders, or lawyers or whatever and no one was ever corrupt. No one ever voted to pass a planning application in which they had a direct interest, they always declared their interest and left the room and all their mates did it for them (laughter).

And now this is worse, one person who could be got at, at any time when there is no public visibility for the approaches being made and I think that is a real weakness and one of the reasons... and that is why in America where they have this system , there's such a long tradition of American Mayors going straight to prison from office (laughter) and - this isn't a joke - Mayor Curley of Boston actually carried on being the Mayor of Boston while he was in prison (laughter) - so we've got to get some checks and balances and what I've said is this - if we've got such a concentration of power and the assembly only has limited powers over the Mayor, one thing we must establish from the beginning is genuine open government. I mean that what is so disgraceful about borough councils, so much is still done behind closed doors, not all of them, some are quite good, you assume they were nuclear states and there were issues of war and peace being sorted out you know, no no, its nonsense there is almost nothing a borough council does that shouldn't be public knowledge. (clapping) Clearly you'd protect peoples personnel files - you can't always give out every contract - and all this - so what I'm going to establish is this if I'm Mayor that every planning application that comes before the Mayor will be immediately available, all the documents about that , on the Internet the day the Mayor receives it, so that you can start (I know not everyone's not on the Internet yet - but we're going to try and get, in schools and colleges, free access to the Internet so that people can have an influence) You should be able to log on identify your borough and download every planning application relevant to your area going before the Mayor and then let the Mayor know what you think about it before the Mayor makes up their mind. If we can establish that as a precedent subsequent Mayors would find it almost impossible to change it. So I give that commitment, never again this sort of carving it all up behind closed doors. The planning applications that go to the Mayor - and also should be considered by the assembly and the assembly advise - all of it will be available to the public the day the Mayor gets it all the reports by the officers to the Mayor about what the Mayor should be doing available on the Internet the day they're available to the Mayor, there is no place for this continuing secrecy.(applause)

And if we'd been able to have that perhaps we would not have to be here fighting to save Crystal Palace now but I'll tell you this - anything I can do after the election, if I'm lucky enough to be elected, and I'll work closely with Darren on this, anything we can do to preserve what should be one of London's greatest parks and a resource basically for the whole of the region anything we can do to try and save it I will do.(applause) top of speech; speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you Ken Livingstone - questions for Mr. Livingstone? The gentleman at the front, then you sir, you first.

Mike Warwick

Hello Ken... we've met before many years ago when we both had a bit more hair - in the days of Ted(sp?) Harrington and Reg Brady and Tony Banks, long long ago, you gave me something. I don't know if you remember - it was a cup - I'd won a cup at Tennis and on it it said the GLC championships. Now what I want to ask you is this, should you be the Mayor, and you have given some not too subliminal clues that Darren might be closely involved with you and we know his sympathy and commitment... will you, as Mayor, have within your jurisdiction the power to recover the strategic control of London's parks, where it should be, taken away from the carpet baggers, the asset strippers posing as local authorities - and if you don't have that authority will you seek to recover that control because we are representing those that are opposed to development a Crystal Palace. But quite obviously, if that's successful in Crystal Palace Park by Bromley Council and others it won't be long before it becomes almost the practice in London's parks - and I could not agree more with what Darren said and what you have said about the need for those green spaces to be preserved - so could you please, Ken, answer that? speakers index

Ken Livingstone

Well the reality I suspect, if I'm elected as Mayor, Tony Blair's agenda will not be immediate new legislation for more powers for the Mayor. (laughter, clapping) We will clearly there will be a position where everyone makes these comparisons with Giuliani but Giuliani's budget is £33 billion, the Mayor's is £3 1/2 billion which doesn't go anywhere like as far as it did when I was a boy. So its the start of a mayoral system.

Health care and further education should all, I think, be devolved to the Mayor and clearly I do think strategic parks such as this should come under the remit of the Mayor. Hampstead Heath as well, but we're not going to get them. But, what you can do very rapidly is we will be drawing up a planning strategy for London and this will set the parameters about how London develops and she's not here today, but one person I will rely on very heavily is one of the Labour candidates, Nicky Gavron, whose been chair of LPAC, has got brilliant ideas, we've been very constrained of what we could do in the past but I think we'll be able to do a lot now to build into the planning guidance for London a lot more in the way of checks and and balances to try and prevent this sort of unrestrained and quite ghastly development. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you - there was a gentleman there I promised a question to - the man in the hat.

Stephen Cowes

My name is Stephen Cowes - I'm nobody important just a local resident and potential for your vote. I'd just - (KL - that makes you very important) - thank you - I'd like to really ask Mr. Livingstone, although its open to anybody really, we've had everything happening with this campaign that we've had court challenges, we've had local people (demonstrating), local groups, I've come along to these meetings and haven't really done much else - but everything has failed, everything we seem to have done. It all seems very righteous, it all seems like it shouldn't be going ahead but everything we do seems to have failed. What else really can we do, what advice can you give this group of people to make a real difference and make this campaign successful. speakers index

Ken Livingstone

I'm not certain you have failed. You've built this huge campaign, you've made it a central issue here locally, its clearly going to affect the outcome of the assembly elections and will be reflected in how people vote and the new administration that takes office around the Mayor is going to clearly say that this is a top priority to look at and see what we can do. I mean, perhaps we are going to be defeated, until we get into power, look at the planning laws, get good legal advice, see what the Mayor's remit can fully do and Darren and I are going to spend a lot of time beavering away at it, until we get in we cant know, but we may very well find a way to achieve what you want and if we can we will do it. So I don't think you should be defeatist about this. Given, as well, the structures in Britain - if this was America, then the much more separation and balance of powers, freedom of information act, you might very well have been able to stop this with a court challenge.

All over America people actually are able, ordinary people, to use their constitution... and the weakness here in Britain in we've never had a constitution, effectively all power rests at the centre, the Government can do pretty much what it likes and devolves power and takes it back as it likes. What Government is doing, give it its credit, slowly bit by bit is changing this so that we do end up with a proper modern constitution and I suspect its going to take us about 10 years to get it all in place and the freedom of information act will have to strengthened and even the concessions - which people say don't go far enough - will eventually get a much more open judicial system. Come back in 10 years, and I suspect Britain will have a much more open and accountable constitution, which means ordinary people and campaigns like this will have more effect than they do in our present system. It's just that we are very backward, all the rest of the world has got a modern devolved constitution only two countries don't have a constitution, us and Israel. In Israel, for obvious reasons, you couldn't get beyond the first clause of deciding who has a right to be a Israeli citizen without tearing the whole community apart in intense ideological squabbles and theocratic squabbles. We've got no damn excuse, we should have had a modern devolved decentralised state like the rest of the world years ago. We're getting there slowly, we've just got to make sure we continue to push powers done from Whitehall, this is one small step forward, we've got to build on it. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Darren wants to answer that.

Darren Johnson

Just very briefly, although I agree with what Ken said completely, but just to add one point - I think the fact that you have the Mayor's office, hopefully if the results go the right way on May 4th, you have the Mayor's office and a strong group in the assembly who will be working with the local campaigners to ensure that the development doesn't go ahead and give it a much higher profile and much more political and legal clout than its ever had before. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Lady there in the glasses - the blond lady in the glasses.

Diane Barker

Hi, my name's Diane Barker. I want to ask Ken one question, and my fight is still going on - I want to know if a development comes towards you when you are elected Mayor will you give the right to another council to veto whether they will agree that a development will be able to go ahead, because Bromley will not do that, they wont let any other council come in and look at it. I want to know when you're elected Mayor will you allow that to happen? speakers index

Ken Livingstone

No - the law is quite clear the Mayor will have the power to direct refusal. The Mayor cant devolve that power to anyone else - which means, if you had crooked Mayor you are really are up effluent creek without a paddle, you know, this is the problem and I will listen to people, I'll listen to the assembly but at the end of the day you'll have to take a decision and be responsible for it. But you'll find my instincts are going to go in the right direction... the trouble is you're totally dependent on the personality and beliefs of the individual you elect which is a new system for Britain and has real dangers. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Can just have someone from the back of the hall - you sir at the back, in the red jumper - yes you - I'm not very good on colours.

Simon Wallfisch

Maroon - Mr. Livingstone, my name is Simon Wallfisch. I want to ask you - you said just now that you have the power to, if its put in front of you, you can actually put a stop to this disgusting development and can you, in front of all these people here, say that you promise that you will be an end to this and that you actually, every single person, especially the children in this room, that you can make a promise that you will, if you have the power, just put a dead end to it and that's the end of it. speakers index

Ken Livingstone

I'd be happy to sign Darren's pledge. If we can find the way to stop it we will stop it. We have to find a way and we may not find a way. I can't promise you it won't happen but you've heard Darren's passion, he is going to go through every nook and cranny and every clause and dot and comma in the legislation - if Darren cant find a way through it then I doubt if we will be for lack of trying. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Can I just mention, before that gentleman sits down - I didn't recognise him at first - actually, he's part of the great Wallfisch family which ran a wonderful musical event for us and financed effectively a great deal of our last legal challenge. Gentleman near the front. speakers index

Joe Figaro

Hello, I'm Joe Figaro of the Boycott UCI group (applause) - and this is to do with the quality of life in London and so on - and this is the question to the candidate. Do you think that companies such as UCI cinemas should be more ethical in the way they conduct business in London in terms of the quality of life in London and how it affects us all? speakers index

Ken Livingstone

How could anyone say no to that? The problem is finding the mechanisms to ensure that they do it. We've just gone - I mean - if I look at the way politics has been in my lifetime - we've had a long post war period where there's much more consensual government, where there was a build up of regulation and checks and balances. The last years or so its been its been much more - let the market forces decide - and I think that the balance has gone too far the other way. You've actually got to make - I mean, market forces won't preserve your environment. As a system of the exchange and distribution of goods clearly you cant come up with a better system than the market as the collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrates. Those people who thought you could plan everything in that sort of detail clearly were wrong. But to then take the lead and say well the market will do everything, its nonsense, the market won't protect you're environment unless there's there a profit in it. It won't train your workforce if they can steal trained workers from some other employer cheaper, and therefore you've got to have, I think now, a move back to more accountability and regulation. A firm like UCI - it will respond to the laws and the structures and regulations you create around it, I mean, it will also respond to good boycott (laughter).

I remember in my student days, it was Barclays Bank because they were funding the Kabora Bassa dam. You reached a point - where I remember being in a cinema, some great big sort of blockbuster was out, everyone was going to see it - and a Barclays ad. came on and almost everyone in the audience hissed, and about a month or two later Barclays pulled back because they were being hit in their pocket. In this society you have the power as consumers - we used to have a lot more in the way of boycotts - and when we didn't like foreign regimes, we didn't buy their produce, perhaps we should start saying if firms aren't really putting enough back into the community, if they're not listening to the community, well lets have boycotts domestically. That would actually start to hit people. (applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

It's also a Green issue - the issue of business ethics and our environment is a green issue - I'm going to get Darren to address this -

Darren Johnson

Everything is a green issue in London these days. Absolutely what Ken said consumer power and boycotts and stuff can be important... lets make them more so. Lets think about what the Mayor can actually do specifically as well. There will be a London development agency which will be responsible for promoting their economic development in London. We want to ensure that there is an ethical approach within that, that were not just about attracting big business to London at all costs, that we look at environmental and ethical issues, that we look at issues around supporting local communities and local economies and that we have far more of the balance tipped towards supporting local businesses and local communities as opposed to big multi-nationals moving in, sucking the profits dry out of an area and taking them on elsewhere. Then also we need to look at the Mayor's purchasing powers as well, in terms of any contracts that the new Greater London Authority does needs a very high ethical standard around the sort of businesses that the new authority does directly with other businesses. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

We have got room for one more question for Ken Livingstone because he has got to get on the bus and a gentleman at the back has had his hand up. speakers index

Mark Steele(sp?)

My name is Mark Steele, I live in Crystal Palace and also I'm a candidate in the Greater London assembly for the London Socialist Alliance. KL - Hang on, hang on - wherever I go you say you live in the local area

and you're everywhere. (laughter)

As you are on a bus in South London today, you're quite welcome to come to Highview Close where I live and I promise you I'm not going to hurriedly rush around and pretend - and get all the neighbours to pretend that I live there. Well I am a candidate in Croydon and Sutton for the London Socialist Alliance and I do live in Crystal Palace I can promise you that. It seems to me that there is one - I've got a question - the one thing that is at the heart of everything that's happened with Crystal Palace Park, I think there's one word that sums it up and that is profit. It's as if the developers and Bromley Council look at the thousands of people who go into Crystal Palace Park and enjoy themselves and take the kids there all through the Summer and they just cant bear the fact that there are these people enjoying themselves for free and they think surely, someway, there's a way we can make money out of this (laughter, applause).

So, I just imagine, imagine if Ken Livingstone was to say, I think we should spend £37 million on schools in the area, hospitals in the area, or redeveloping the park along the lines that people want, you can imagine New Labour and the Tories going berserk - oh this is the old Ken Livingstone and yet £7 million is the amount that they spent on evicting a handful of eco-warriors from the trees - so that they can build a rotten multiplex cinemas that nobody wants (applause) - (PK - £2.7 million, but the point is well made - is there a question in

there?) - and my question is quite simply this - is to come back to the person earlier who said everything seems to have failed, my questions is simply this, there's one thing I think, all the legal routes and everything are very good and absolutely right that we pursued those, but there is one thing that the people who pursue only profit, only care for themselves, have to back down to and that is when, however Tony Blair might say its old fashioned, is that if enough of us stand up there is nothing they can do. When masses of people protest there's nothing that New Labour or the Tories for all their profit obsessed ideology can do - so my question to Ken and to Darren is - how do you think we should pursue the idea of getting the most enormous number of people that we can, not just on this issue but on all the other issues in which New Labour have betrayed the hopes of the millions of people who vote for them, how can we get the maximum number of people out to say - people, and round this area parks, matter more than profit?(applause) speakers index

Ken Livingstone

When I think back to the GLC experience - everyone's now got these fond memories but the torrent of abuse and lies about what we were doing dominated the newspapers was, I mean, its hard to believe it... everyday stories invented, completely fictitious only aimed at undermining us. It wasn't just because we wanted to put rates up in order to subsidise public transport. What I think people hated was that we opened the GLC out, giving this completely inward looking bureaucracy for decades - and we got elected - and we were going to set up this thing and that thing and the community can get involved, we had a whole range of community planning forums around - we funded community organisations that were opposing the developments we were doing because we believed it was right to have that debate and people had the right to challenge what we were doing - and they might defeat us - and that's the way - What the establishment found scary was that we were saying people had a right to a say in these things and I think, if you actually ask which is the most diseased and poisonous newspaper in reporting my activities, the Times is out there streets ahead of all of them, I mean, - everything - saying I'm criminal who paid myself a loan from my own money, which is an interesting new legal concept, and which they withdrew the next day, through a whole range of distortions which frankly are just breathtaking and why, Murdoch doesn't want British society opened up, Murdoch wants to continue to be in a position where he can pick up the phone to the Prime Minister and get the Prime Minister on the phone to the Prime Minister of Italy to try and clear his way to take over something down there.

That sort of relationship which has always been behind closed doors, I mean everything about the sort of mayoralty that I want to create is to reverse this - it's going to be open and people participate and people will protest and they'll come along - and I think that part of the job of the Mayor is to be out there with the people and not loosing touch, not settling into that sort of bureaucracy. So, yes, I agree with Mark - we involve Londoner's give them the right to actually have a say and that can do more to change things than anything else.(applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Ken has told me he has got to go because his bus is waiting. We've seen a lot of Ken Livingstone's mug all over the press over the last few months. I want to give him the Crystal Palace mug designed by a local designer, Mike Conrad, and it says on it - "A Millennium Prayer - God save Crystal Palace from the hands of greed". Ken Livingstone thank you very much indeed for coming. (sustained applause)

Can we move onto our next speaker now? Mr. Trevor Phillips, he's a broadcaster, he's a TV presenter , as you know he's Frank Dobson's running mate and he's an old political campaigner who proudly boasts that he once absailed into a meeting of the Inner London Education Authority to protest at education cuts. We admire his bravado, we're a little bit worried that he couldn't find the stairs (laughter) but in the same spirit of bravado Trevor Phillips has just arrived from Tower Hamlets on the back of a motorbike. He's Labour London's very own Buzz Light Year. He wants to be elected, but if he loses there is always a job for him as the man in the Milk Tray advert. We are very pleased that he has made it just in time . We're delighted to see him, thank you for coming - ladies and gentlemen Mr. Trevor Phillips.(applause) speakers index

Trevor Phillips

Philip, thank you very much for that kind introduction - let me apologise for being so late, I was invited not just by the campaign but sometime ago by a group of parents in Tower Hamlets to talk about something that is sweeping through their community which is the effect of hard drugs on young people, teenagers and they asked me specifically to talk to them and a couple of hundred teenagers and I felt I couldn't back out of that one because - I don't think I need to explain to anybody in here who is a parent, how significant that is.

I won't thank you, Philip, for the bit of introduction where you mentioned the motorbike because that is supposed to be secret and if anybody here ever tells my wife and my daughter that I came on a motorbike I will be dead, this will be last political speech I ever make.(laughter - apologies, Trevor, for recording this - webmaster). But I wanted very much to be here because this is not just a local issue as I am sure Ken and Darren will have said already. As in other parts of this city the open spaces of London are one of the thing that make this city different from every other great city. The fact that we have the so called green lungs of London make this one of the most beautiful and indeed bearable cities in the World and that is why we have to protect them. I wanted to be here because I wanted there to be no mistake about our attitude in this.

First of all let me say, as in so many other area of life, political life and otherwise, we shouldn't be starting here. We shouldn't be in a situation where we have to try to roll back something which the local community does not want because there has not been adequate and sufficient and effective consultation with that community. (clapping) We certainly would have sought a different SRB bid if it could have been developed. We would have looked for different private sector engagement because that is necessary. We would have tried to consult more widely in the community. It is the worst possible thing to be in a situation, and I'm going to be completely frank with you here (no - I'm his substitute - laughter) - I'm going to be completely straight with you here about my view. It is clear that for a large part of this area the SRB bid, and I'm talking about Anerley and Penge and so on, it's absolutely vital. There are changes in this bid which I cannot believe anybody in this hall would want to see stopped. (claps)

This is a city which is increasingly characterised by diversity and some part of it is an uncomfortable and unpleasant aspect of diversity - but there are many of us who are well off or comfortable or affluent but increasingly there is a substantial minority which is being left behind from a so called economic miracle of London. The essential point about the regeneration programme is a very simple one - that no part of London should be left out of the move towards prosperity. The difficulty we have here is it seems that because of the position that we are now in, there is a danger that what we have to do is oppose the interests of those who live in neglected, deprived, less well off areas of this district against the interests of those who live, frankly, in more affluent parts, but who face the prospect of disruption, traffic and so on. Now, you know, we can all come in here and we can give you all the promises we like and we can say wonderful things but let us be absolutely clear, unless we confront that dilemma, all that we are is a bunch of politicians who are lying to you and whoever you elect will then find that they are doing something completely different and as Philip said I'm a novice politician I don't yet know how to lie that effectively so I'm trying not to do it.

So my view is a very simple one, we are in a dilemma and the question is how do we, and we shouldn't be here, but we are here, the question is how do we get out of it. Well the first thing is we've got to learn the lessons - we should never be in this situation again. The second thing is, I have a particular interest and care, because I grew up on the other side of London on the edge of Alexandra Park, for the great parks of this city in which I include Crystal Palace. It seems to me one of the first things the Mayor has got to do is to have a strategy for the parks and that strategy, if I may say so, has to include insuring that the parks which are in the hands of other people, including the Queen, sorry the Royal Commission on parks and so on, come back into the hands of the people of London because, again, what we're seeing here is an example of something that is happening over the heads of the people of London. But thirdly, this is what I know you're really interested in - what do we do about this one?

Now as I understand it the second legal challenge has been exhausted, as I understand it the Mayor has no direct powers here but, of course, you're not going to elect somebody who simply says I cant do anything, I'm washing my hands of it, you know, cant do anything about it. I believe that with our team, I know that Val Shawcross is here, my colleague Nicky Gavron, who will be part of the Labour group in the assembly - there's a lot of clever brains being put to this and there are ways in which we can deal with this and I want to just mention two:

One - it seems to me, perhaps maybe a subtle way, and that is to say that, when the Mayor comes in, he or she, will try to exercise, can't exercise planning powers retrospectively, power retrospectively but particularly, for example, in relation to, as I understand it, the vast number of parking places, there may be ways in which we can say to developers, to London and Regional, well - this is something that you've got in your plan but its something that we will not tolerate. And we may find that there is a lever there which will ensure that that bit of the development as proposed can be dropped. We can be smart about it but I want to say one other thing and this is straight from me and I speak for myself not for the group or even, in a way, for Frank, it will be this - this is a great test of London government and London politics and it is going to be a real tough test of reality and a test of our toughness.

One reason we're going to have a Mayor is that there are great vested interests in the this city and I mentioned one, the establishment of the Royal Parks and so forth which control our green spaces. The other will be the developers... and I believe that if we cannot get the kind of variation, the protection that we need on this, we have no alternative but to say to developers in the case, London and Regional, there will be a Mayor who will be able to call in 150 to 300 projects a year who will be able to stop you, if you do not want this to be the last development you ever make in London then you need to talk to us you need to talk to the community, you need to rethink you're ideas and you need to make this plan acceptable.(long applause)

The point here is very simple, I am not going to pretend to you that we have the legal power simply to say - stop it - because we don't. Anybody who says that to you is lying to you and this is too important for the usual political nonsense, its too important, what I can say to you though is that we will be tough, we will be mean, we will use every trick in the book, we will use every power that we have, because we know that they will do that, to protect our green spaces but let me re-emphasise to you this is a tough choice but its a real choice. We cannot give up the SRB bid. We cannot block it simply because we've been forced into this dilemma. We will not sell out to people of Anerley and Penge and those who have not had advantages. We will not sell them out but at the same time, we will try to protect you and will use every trick in the book, every piece of muscle that we have to prevent the kind of horror that I think you envisage. That is our position, that is the clear position that we're going to put to everybody, its the honest position and it's one that I hope that you will support. Thank you. (applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

You sir in the corner.

Ken Lewington

Trevor you open up on the SRB, I don't want to sell out to anybody but I would just like to tell you a story. In 1996 Bromley Council created the Crystal Palace Partnership to bid for SRB funding from the Government, the Tory Government. The partnership included London and Regional Properties Limited, the developer of the proposed multiplex on the park, but excluded local amenity and community groups. Crystal Palace Park and the local people have been excluded from the Regeneration (...some words were lost here...) if Frank is elected Mayor, I'd like you to go to the GOL and have the current SRB delivery plan suspended and re-negotiated to reflect not what Bromley wants but what the people want and I also want you to get the developer cut out of the equation. Now will you please do that? Thank you. (applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Just before Trevor answers that could I just say that we believe in regeneration too. It's our area. And we don't want anyone in this area to suffer because of our campaign. We have begged both the Labour Government and the SRB for years to sit down with us to rework the whole scheme so the money comes in, so the park is regenerated properly and in an environmentally sensitive way and so that everybody walks away happy. But nobody will talk to us because we're only the local community. So I think the question well put from Mr. Lewington - is what can you do about that to bring us together with the funding agencies to resolve everybody's concerns. speakers index

Trevor Phillips

I'm not going to say very much about this, for one simple reason, we of course will talk to GOL. We will put pressure on. But what I'm not going to say is that we we're going to cut out the developer and I'll tell you why I'm not going to say it because that would open us up to a charge of prejudice in any judicial review in any subsequent bid that they may make and I don't want to put myself in the hands of the developers at this point. I'm not going to have somebody going to court saying that "they were prejudiced" and therefore anything that Mayor Dobson does is therefore vitiated. So you'll forgive me if I don't kind of get the cheer that you want but that's because I am serious about it, I'm not, not going to put myself in the hands of these guys, because I've reported on them for 15 years and you need to understand, we are not dealing with school boys here. These people will use every single trick, everything - everything, to deny what you want, what I want. So I am not, I'm afraid, going to do quite what you want because I think that could create a problem for us later. In the most general sense I agree with you we have to get community back into this equation but forgive me if I don't make the commitment you want. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

I want to go to the back a little if I can - there's a lady in the back there in the blue top that I can see on the right hand side.

Stephanie Lodge

I'm from Friends of the Earth, Southwark - Stephanie Lodge. Friends of the Earth put through two huge campaigns for road traffic reduction. The second one offering a target, a local target, why can't you have a commitment to brining these road traffic reduction targets into practice. That could be a way of levering us out of this mucky business with Bromley, although I do believe that one part of the council was going to set a target, of course with infinite wisdom, the other half of the council they overroad it. So is there going to be any commitment from the Mayor and the assembly to set local traffic reduction targets and this could help all other leisure developments across London.(applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Its a new topic - we'll put it to Trevor and Darren.

Trevor Phillips

Well I think traffic reduction targets have to be part of the transport strategy that the Mayor is going to have draw up. Quite what that will mean in this context I don't know, there are questions of speed limits and so forth but I would have thought, to be honest, the more important thing here is the environmental impact assessment. I cant quite grasp why the EIA was not done before all of this got put in place because I suspect we might have had a rather different result if it had been done... but I think that what will be clear is that if Frank is elected that is one of the first things that we will seek out. speakers index

Darren Johnson

Well we do want to see traffic reduction targets, we welcome the traffic reduction target put forward by LPAC, the London Planning Advisory Committee, of 40% for central London, 30% in inner London and 10% in outer London. We believe that those are tough targets but we need a series of radical measures to actually reduce traffic in London. One of them is avoiding large scale developments which merely encourage car use which will be a big part of that. Another is a congestion charge in central London which is absolutely vital if we're serious about reducing traffic and the reason why Trevor and Frank are not able to commit themselves to actually some tough traffic reduction figures is because they're not committing themselves to a congestion charge. So if you vote for Frank as mayor traffic will rise in London because he won't be introducing a congestion charge. (applause) (Trevor - that's nonsense, nonsense) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

We have a disagreement here on one subject at least - you sir at the front.

Nelson Valentine

Nelson Valentine, a South Norwood resident for 16 years and as I said when we met a few months ago Trevor, at another function - I've a lot of respect for your journalistic work - but I was just wondering how committed the Labour candidate is to this campaign if, although you're a very eloquent person, but he didn't make the time to come here, like all the other parties, to find out if he is really committed to it. speakers index

Trevor Phillips

OK the straight answer to that is that the Labour candidate is committed to this campaign and protection of the environment and so on but he is also committed to a number of other things and this morning he is in Brixton where we are also committed to the needs of the people in that area to tackling disadvantage and so on ... (some words lost here, about 5 seconds to end of answer) (applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

(calls on Irene Kimm to read out a letter from Steve Norris who was unable to attend the meeting) (some movement in the hall - some people leaving)

Irene Kimm

Ladies and Gentlemen and those of you who are staying thank you very much for giving me your time. I'd like to thank your chairman for giving us the same democratic right as every other party here today. We have got a letter from Steve Norris which he has asked me to read out which says:

"Dear Ray, I am sorry I am unable to come on Saturday but I have a long standing commitment which I cannot break. I do however recognise the importance of the issue to all that will be present at the meeting and beyond. I recognise and support the need for regeneration at Crystal Palace. However, I share your concerns about the proposals for the top site such as the nature of the building and the impact of traffic on adjoining areas. When I am Mayor this is exactly the sort of planning application straddling the boundaries of five boroughs that I would consider from a strategic point of view. I would work to develop a broader based and more inclusive method and forms of consultation and decision making on such projects. After the 4th May, I will certainly want to see that the regeneration in the area is a form that will generally benefit the residents."

I feel ladies and gentlemen it's also important that I make this statement on behalf of, as Val Shawcross on behalf of Croydon Council, that I make this statement on behalf of Lambeth and Southwark councillors. I would just like to make this statement recording also my position as the assembly candidate for the area and the previously stated position of the Conservative councillors as I say in Lambeth and Southwark. We are all completely opposed to the proposed development of a multiplex cinema, (applause) it has no place in a residential area such as this. It is also a travesty to compare the design of this hideous building to the original Crystal Palace. We believe the traffic and environmental impact of this development will be catastrophic for the area. There is not the transport infrastructure to deal with the projected numbers of traffic movements. You can introduce as many traffic schemes as you want, the fact is the area is already too congested. (applause) We already suffer from pollution and this development will make it much worse we condemn without reservation the arrogant, dismissive attitude of Bromley Council toward the genuine and strongly felt concerns of this local community. (applause) Their behaviour has highlighted once again, just how much the area has suffered by being on the edge of five different boroughs. If this community fell into one boundary of just one council this decision would never have gone ahead. (applause) As Steve Norris has said, we need a broader based and more inclusive consultation on large scale projects straddling borough boundaries. The Mayor must have such projects with a strategic overview which is obviously lacking in this case. We also condemn, and I'm sorry Trevor, the decision of John Prescott for failing to call in this plan - (loud applause) - and we, again, think that he should have allowed a public enquiry and we would like you to take that message back from this audience. (applause)

In conclusion, we fully endorse the campaign and its four principles, we will support the campaign in every way we can, this is our community I live here too, I live in Croxstead Road, I'm one of you - and all of us here at this meeting, whatever our politics, want to see our park preserved and enhanced for the future of future generations. Thank you.(applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Quick questions, not speeches but questions for Irene Kimm - gentleman here in the front.

(name unclear)

..... a local Dulwich resident - my question is, very brief, and its to Trevor and to Irene. In the event of Ken Livingstone becoming Mayor, how easy do you believe the Labour group on the assembly and the Tory group on the assembly, how easily will they find it to support him in the steps that he has said he might take to hamper the progress of this retched and abominable development? speakers index

Irene Kimm

I think the most important thing is going to be down to the people that are present today. The first thing they've got to do is use every deploying tactic to delay this application because clearly that is going to be crucial for the future. I also think it's going to be crucial for, as you say, the assembly candidates, not only to work with Ken Livingstone, but to scrutinise everything that any Mayor, from whatever political persuasion does. If I get on the assembly, I will work to enhance every aspect of local government and compliment local government but use that scrutinising role because I do think that, as has been said by Ken Livingstone himself, and we all now see him as a knight in shining armour, I mean particularly he was warmly welcomed by this audience, but we have to remember that the scrutineering role will have to be implemented to make sure that any Mayor, from whatever political persuasion is worked with and blocked and exposed if they start abusing those powers.(applause) speakers index

Trevor Phillips

Well I don't really want to answer hypotheticals - I've told you what we will do if we are elected. If there is a Mayor who is not Frank Dobson we're pretty clear we're going to put our policies and try to work with whoever happens to be the Mayor and anybody, I didn't hear what Ken said earlier, I don't know what he is going do, and we will work with anybody who's not bonkers. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Just before we move on, I've got a couple of things I need to say, I haven't been asking for names of speakers. If you've asked a question today can you give the question to the gentleman over there with all the radio equipment so that it goes into our archive properly. I want to read two statements very quickly. The Lib Dem candidate, Suzanne Kramer wrote to us to say:

"I'm grateful to the campaign for giving me this opportunity to address this important issue. The campaign about Crystal Palace shows clearly that all too often today's planning authorities pay too little attention to the need to involve and engage London's communities from the very start of the planning process. As Mayor, I will seek to balance the need and benefits from regenerating derelict areas of London with everyone's desire to restrict over development and to cure green open spaces across the city."

From Mr. Ram Gidoomal, the candidate for Christian Peoples Alliance - we've got a long message from him, which you can read on our web site if you want to read the whole thing. But let me just read the last paragraph.

"...There is more than one way to regenerate an area. Peoples lives are improved by the environment in which they live, that does not just refer to the built environment but more importantly to the natural environment. It is true of all towns and cities but perhaps most especially in London that people need an area of calm which parks and open spaces provide. I support your fight to preserve Crystal Palace Park." (applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

The gentleman there has had his hand up for some time.


My name is Sidnamani, I'm from Sydenham. I, in fact, put this question to Prescott some time ago. When I spoke to Prescott about this I thought he was a shadow Minister for the Environment and not the Minister for the Environment. For a labour party to come here and say we haven't got the powers is actually a travesty of democracy. (applause) Trevor should take that from this meeting, the feeling of the local community, and remind Prescott that he doesn't need two cars but he needs to exercise his imagination and power with his audience and bring out the necessary legislation to stop this development.(applause) Steve Norris during the reading of his speech, I thought he was a Labour Party now and not the Tony Blair and Company. I welcome the change of heart on the part of Steve Norris, if only I could believe him, he was the transport minister in the previous Government. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

All right - a little bit of strife in the debate - let's have Trevor Phillips answer that.

Trevor Philips

Philip mentioned my younger days as a particular kind of campaigner. I will still do the same thing now. I would still absail down. I would still put my self in front of bulldozers and all the rest of it, but one thing that I've learnt is this - when you set out on a campaign there is no point in being in a campaign for therapy, you're in a campaign to make something happen. One of the great tactics of many campaigners is to erect a great villain. John Prescott makes a terrific villain. I'm not here to speak for him. I'm not here to speak for him. I don't even think his decision was right, but its terrific to be able to say what a wally he is and he got it wrong and all of that... but you've got to be talking today to us about how we make things change. We can't unmake John Prescott's decision. The issue here and, you know, it would be lovely to get a great cheer by saying things about John Prescott - but that isn't going to solve the problem. The issue here is how you make things change now talk to us about that. Talk to us about that. Well I've suggested two specific ways in my opening remarks - one is about the way that we deal with London and Regional and secondly what the Mayor says to them about what they might do next if anything at all. Now those are practical things we can do. I mean I can sit here (remarks from audience) I will sit here and listen as long as you like to people abusing John Prescott. It wont make the slightest bit of difference to what we all want to happen. So let's talk about that, I just warn you do not spend your time being led down the garden path but people who think that this is a good fun game, it isn't, its more important than that. The question here is - how do we make things change? speakers index

Philip Kolvin

I'm only going to take a few more questions - we are coming up to end of our allotted time span - the first is this gentleman at the back who had his hands up.

Richard Francis

I'm Richard Francis from Thornton Heath - I'm a long standing campaigner, I am sorry to say that I cannot agree with Trevor Phillips in the manner of which he speaks. I applaud Irene Kimm's condemnation of John Prescott, I applaud the previous speakers condemnation of him because where we are today is very much as a result of that decision. It was a very bad decision and I know he cannot go back over it but we are catching up every since. Now I wrote to Frank Dobson last September, you're running mate when indeed he was saying some wonderful words about green urban space and how important it was for London and all the millions of people who visit here. He then got up and addressed the London Tree Forum, no less, in November and said very much the same thing on the agenda of green spaces are the lungs of London City. Now we're has that got us? The Labour party has an agenda for green action, real action to improve air quality? I don't see it myself. I think it is all platitudinous, it is fine words and fine words do not make good action. I'm sorry about that but that is the way I feel. Thank you.(applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

That was a speech.. I'm going to take short questions - put up your hands up if you have any short questions - gentleman... you there sir, we haven't seen your face before.

(name unclear)

(some words unclear)...but it can have political importance. The campaign probably has not got the financial means for a referendum of the affected Boroughs. Would the Mayor think it important enough to ask the assembly to support a referendum financially? (some applause) speakers index

Philip Kolvin

We'll put that to each of the candidates - but short answers please.

Trevor Philips

I think its an interesting idea, I would simply say though that, as we've seen with Grammar schools, referendums don't always give you the result you want. (laughter) So I think its one that you've got to be really careful about, but I think its an interesting idea and one worth considering. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Darren, Darren...

Darren Johnson

Well as I said earlier, we need to look at every single possibility, every single option we've got for ensuring this development doesn't do ahead. But there is going to be a limited budget from the new GLA in order to be able to do that. So we need to look at what is the most effect means of using the GLA's resources in order to ensure this campaign is successful and that the development doesn't go ahead. That may include a referendum, it may include more legal challenges or whatever, but we've got a limited budget and we want to ensure we have the most effective way of ensuring the development doesn't go ahead. I think the most important thing we need to have the full weight of the Mayor's office behind the campaign and we need to have the full weight of the assembly behind the campaign. So you need to get that pledge from every single person you vote for on May 4th, that they are unequivocally opposed to the development before you cross your ballot paper. speakers index

Irene Kimm

I really think that it's very important that we, as Darren Johnson says, make all of the resources of the assembly available to you because this is one isolated instance and I am quite sure that in the future, looking at the strategic overview, there will be many such cases, just like yours, that the Mayor will have to decide on. We will have to look at a mechanism by which local people can have access to legal advice. The most important thing I think is to ask each candidate that represents you when you come to vote on May 4th, how they stand on this campaign and you can cast your vote accordingly. It is a very key issue in this area, but I think its one of many, many for the future. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

We've actually set out the details of the legal action which we're now considering (on everybody's chairs) and hoping that we will get an assurance of each of these candidates here, that if we forward details of that legal action to them, it will receive very serious consideration. I can see everyone nodding at that proposition. I can take one more question - because we are running out of time. Gentleman at the back there - he probably doesn't need a microphone because he is an actor - brief question please. speakers index

Peter Archer

Peter Archer, I'm a local resident above all things, I happen to be an actor as well, but that's a secondary thing in this case. I would just like to say one thing and I've always said from the beginning of my involvement in the campaign - I would like to echo what this gentleman said who is sitting down here on my left. I don't think everybody heard everything he said, because he didn't have the microphone - (PK - quick question) - my question to all the candidates is this - can you please help us we've got to have a referendum on this, somebody has got to arrange it, we've never had this - this is our bone of contention from the very start, please will all of you and Philip get a referendum going, all the people who live within a mile radius of the park, I suggest, lets get a good set of questions and get a referendum because I don't see what else is going to actually demonstrate to the world at large that we are a strong body of opinion and strong body of people. speakers index

Philip Kolvin

Thank you - and on that note we are going to wind up our proceedings - so please fill out your forms, ladies and gentlemen, if you are interested in becoming involved in anyway in a legal action which we are now considering. But I just want to say thank you to each of these worthy candidates for coming to Crystal Palace today, for listening to our concerns and for sharing their ideas with us. To each of them I would like to make a presentation of our Crystal Palace mug which are also on sale, proceeds not to the campaign but to the Crystal Palace Triangle Community Association, I believe, a millennium prayer,

"God save Crystal Palace from the hands of greed and so say all of us".

(...meeting ends 1300)

Top of page - index to speakers; Return to Meetings Index; Go to summary meeting text; Go to Party statements; London Mayor Election Results

Last updated 06/05/00

Glossary of abbreviations:

CPC - Crystal Palace Campaign
EIA - Environmental Impact Assessment
GLA - Greater London Authority
GLC - Greater London Council (abolished by Mrs Thatcher)
GOL - Government Office for London
KL - Ken Livingstone
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

Editors Comments: The text above is virtually verbatim - as recorded during the meeting - with the exception of a few words & names which were incomprehensible on the tape and a few words missed during a battery change!

Italics are used to insert my remarks, e.g. (applause), and, sometimes, banter between speakers.

There may be corrections needed in particular to the spellings of names. If those and any other errors are spotted please contact the webmaster.