(R.13) Public Meeting - up to date report to the community, core principles, Anti-UCI day, Tessa Jowell, councillors etc. 5 February 2000

This is a verbatim transcript - as usual, as accurate as possible, minimal editing (where the sense has been lost) using the words of the speakers. We will keep updating this as the transcription work is done.

Chairman of the meeting - Kim Humphreys

Meeting opened at 11 a.m. Kingsdale School - Dulwich

Philip Kolvin, Chairman Crystal Palace Campaign
Gareth Compton, Lambeth Councillor (Gipsy Hill)
Tessa Jowell, (Rt Hon) MP Dulwich & West Norwood
Darren Johnson (Green Party - London Mayoral candidate)
Katriona Ogilvey-Webb, Boycott UCI Campaign

Philip Kolvin, Chairman of the Crystal Palace Campaign


Bromley Council and this community are not friends. We're not friends because for three years this community has worked hard and worked together to keep at bay the most unpopular leisure scheme ever built in this country. A scheme which will bring 17,000 new vehicle movements to Crystal Palace Park every Saturday. A scheme which will, more than anything else, urbanise our little village and our Park, in fact make us one of the most urban suburbs in our capital. So we're not friends.

But we, the Crystal Palace Campaign, have always tried to be civil to the London Borough of Bromley and we've always asked for negotiation, for consultation, for dialogue. Only last May we said to the planning committee, in an address we made to them, lay down your arms. You plan in the public interest. We are that public. Talk to us. So far Bromley's record towards this community has been as follows:

The very first thing they did, when they knew there was a Campaign was to sue two of our senior officers for the crime of walking on Crystal Palace Park. Then they sued a 78 year old woman for the crime of bringing a bread pudding to the eco-warriors. Then they went on tell to threaten a writ for anybody who expressed support for the eco-warriors. Then they wrote to us, threatening that they would hold us financially accountable for the millions of pounds involved in evicting the eco-warriors unless we were prepared to denounce them - something which we were never prepared to do. Having done that, they had police helicopters fly low over the homes and gardens of our senior officers. Then in the largest military operation ever mounted, south of the river, nearly two thousand security personnel invaded that little scrap of open space, to evict from the trees and the tunnels the fifty youngsters who were camping there, at a cost to the tax payer of nearly £3 million.

Then they sent private detectives out into our community, to photograph us at our public events and to photograph members of the public, those who are connected with the Campaign and those who aren't. And most recently their Chief Executive has publicly termed us 'Eco-thugs'. That is a distinction which in a way I am quite proud of, because we share it with over twenty thousand members of our community and we share it also with that well-known revolutionary body the Select Committee on the Environment.

We have not asked for war, but war has been declared on us by the London Borough of Bromley. And it is a dirty war. And the only question for us, as a community, is what are we prepared to do to defend ourselves? Are we prepared to fight?

Now London and Regional Properties, the developer, have decided to join the war. Initially we might have had some sympathy for London and Regional. They couldn't have known, when they designed their scheme, that it would evoke a storm of protest amongst local people, but it did, and when they knew of the protest, that was the time when their character fell to be tested.

When I was a very small child, my father said to me, if I was marching with my left foot first and ninety-nine other people were marching with their right foot first, I should pause for thought, for they might just be right. London and Regional know that tens of thousands of people think that they're wrong, but apparently it hasn't given them a moments pause for thought.

We've spent years saying to London and Regional 'talk to the community', turn the clock back, talk to us with a blank sheet of paper, without commitment to particular uses or design. And finally, in September, it seemed that there was a hope of a new dawn, when we received a letter from the Managing Director of L&R, Ian Livingstone, promising precisely that, promising a mediation so that we could go forward together in a spirit of partnership rather than conflict. And we at the Campaign spent our Autumn preparing ourselves for that mediation.

Well it was a false dawn because L&R did nothing whatsoever to move that process forward and we cajoled and we prodded and we issued ultimata and we asked for a public explanation or apology, just something to give us a sign that they were interested in us and they wanted to follow through with their promise. Nothing. All we have had is silence. No public explanation, no public apology, and we have been forced to conclude that L&R has elected to join that war against us. I have only nine words to say to London and Regional Properties: 'Shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you.' I hope you get that message very firmly, because it comes from this whole community that has been disappointed by the contempt in which you appear to hold us. (applause)

Well, we want dialogue, but we are in a position of war. The question is what are we prepared to do, how far are we prepared to go by lawful means, to combat that which we oppose? Well, every war has a resistance movement and everybody who is here can contribute to the protest,to the Campaign against this building, without even leaving the comfort of their own homes. Write to your elected representatives, to your MPs and your Councillors. Ask them where they stand on these proposals and what they are going to do to help us in our plight. Write to the Secretary of State. Write to the funding agencies. Most of all, take your chance to write to the local press, to the national press, phone up the local radio station and talk about the issue. Make sure that this issue stays in the minds and in the ears of everybody who is an opinion former and who is a decision maker within this society. Keep the Campaign alive and if you do it without very much effort; a letter a day keeps the corporate money-makers at bay, remember that, it's something which you can do.

We in the Campaign think about this for hours every single day. Think about it once a week and think what it is that you can do. And then there are things that you can do together. One of these is the Village Green application. The Crystal Palace Campaign is preparing an application to register the top site at Crystal Palace as a village green. If this succeeds there will be no multiplex on this Park, not now, not ever. It will prevent commercial development of the top site altogether. What we need from you the community, is no more than information. We need proof that at any time, over the last 54 years, you have used this site for recreational purposes. It doesn't matter what sort of recreational purposes, whether it's walking, or dog walking, or jogging, or bird-watching or picnicking or taking pictures or playing football or cricket or rounders. However, you've used the top site since 1946 we need to know about it. Give us the information and we will do the rest. What you need to do is fill out a questionnaire, not a very long questionnaire, which we can give you or send to you, send it back to us and we will do the rest. Shortly, we will be lodging our application to register this site as a village green.

The second thing is this we took advice at the beginning of 1999 from environmental pressure groups and we learned that the environmental campaigns which succeed are the ones which strike at the economy of that which is being opposed. Bromley often say that the top site is contaminated with poison, and that's a jolly good reason to cover it over with 12 acres of concrete. I believe that the site is contaminated but not with poison, it is contaminated with our love, the love that the community has for the history of the site, for the green space of the site, for the ecology of the site, for the value of the site, the value that it plays in the lives of our community. And it is that contaminant, love, which is acting as a powerful antidote against greedy, commercial exploitation. And we have thought that it is wise to bring home to the commercial exploiters, principally UCI Cinemas UK Ltd. in Manchester that what they are doing is not acceptable to us and that we will tarnish their squeaky clean image, their image of good will, leisure and community participation. We will tarnish that image with the truth of what they are doing to our community. And we want the public, nationally, to know what UCI are up to. We want their parent companies, Universal and Paramount and Seagram and Viacom to know what they are up to. And we want those people who sit in smoke filled board rooms, in Manchester and Los Angeles, to know that here they have a fight on their hands and it will not be worth a candle to them to come and defile our site.

Now how have we gone about doing this? We started last March when we demonstrated in Leicester Square and then we presented a petition to Downing Street, with at that time, about 10,000 names, effectively saying 'Stay off our Park'. And I imagine many of you here today were present on that day and I hope that you had a good time and enjoyed yourselves. Coming out of that march an independent group called the 'Boycott UCI Group' formed itself and the chair of that group, Katriona, is sitting here today. And that group, twice a week, every week, rain or shine, has demonstrated outside UCI's major cinemas in London, principally 'the Empire' in Leicester Square (loud applause). This is the kind of lawful, peaceful, non-violent, direct action, with a smile on one's face with a serious message which we espouse. We are very proud to have subsequently been able to work with the Boycott UCI Group. We congratulate them for what they have done. They are bringing home to UCI's customers the message, the truth about what UCI are up to. So, we took it a stage further and in October we had a march from Crystal Palace to the Empire in Leicester Square, a march of just under eight miles. Several hundred people came on the march and thronged Leicester Square where we sang and we chanted, and I hope we had a good time again, and a petition of nearly 20,000 names was presented to the manager of the Empire by that well known celebrity Darth Vader. We called that 'Strike back at the Empire'. And I can tell you it earned us respect with UCI, it earned us respect in Whitehall and in Westminster - it put us on the map and we are known nationally for what we do.

Well if we can do that, why not go national. So we set to thinking, with the Boycott UCI Group working in coalition as we ought to do, the idea of a National Anti-UCI Day, where we would work towards trying to demonstrate outside all 34 of UCI's cinema complexes throughout the United Kingdom. We want to get across to UCI that our ingenuity knows no bounds. We are just going to go on, bringing home that message that they are corporate invaders in our green space; we are not going to tolerate it. It is the first ever multi-site protest from an environmental group ever. The national press is taking an interest. It is going to get national media attention and everybody will know about the Crystal Palace Campaign. Also local press in each of the towns we visit and the local radio stations - that is our aim. We need not just moral support, we need active support from everybody at this meeting, everybody in the community to make this happen.

Now what's it going to involve? Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday 26th February, we are going to go out into the rest of England and a few sites in Scotland and Wales. We are talking to environmental groups in all parts of the UK, we are also expecting support, particularly from Friends of the Earth groups. If you have friends in that part of the world, tell them, ask them to go and show solidarity. If you have children in college at any of those places ask them and their friends to come along. For each site there will be one co-ordinator who will bring copies of our literature, petitions and placards to hand out there. It's an ambitious programme but one which we are well capable of achieving. We need your help and commitment to make this event a great success.

Now what we've been about, during the last 2 - 3 years is saying 'no' to something which we regard as an outrage, something which we regard as exploitative. Recently we've been talking to schools and we thought we had a moral responsibility to bring across to the schools what the social and environmental sweep of time has been since 1854 when the Crystal Palace first came to the ridge at Sydenham. What struck me forcibly as I read about the history, especially the publications from the Norwood Society, is that the story of Crystal Palace Park since 1936 has been one of neglect. Successive local governments: LCC, GLC and now Bromley have allowed that Park just to fall away, they haven't given it the attention that it deserves. And in effect it's created a vacuum and that vacuum could be and should be filled with the sweet air of community participation, community ideas towards a "yes" option for that Park. However small that option is, we ought to be working together in unity to find ideas how that Park should be treated in this generation and the next. If we don't do that, if we leave that vacuum unfilled then it will be filled with the foul air of commercial exploitation. And that's really, to my mind, what's happened at Crystal Palace. The site has been left, as it were, a sitting duck, as it was fly-tipped with Bromley's permission, later Bromley managed to bulldoze every shrub and sapling on the site - that's what they did last year - it's a crying disgrace and we really feel that it's time to try and bind this community together to say, not just what we oppose but what we are in favour of.

Now it's not for the Crystal Palace Campaign to dictate to the community what should be there, it's for the community, as best it can, to work together to a position of unity. To acquire for itself the moral responsibility to say "yes". Then to say to the elected representatives: this is what the consensus of the community wants, now make it happen, work with us to make it happen.

So during last autumn we tried to stimulate a debate, to raise a debate. We knew that it was risky, in the sense that the community was unanimous about the "no" option and the moment we said to the community what's your "yes" option, what's your positive solution, a range of views would emerge and there would be a lively debate. We're not some sort of political party that wants to suppress debate, we just want to respond to ideas from the community and try to lead the debate into a position of consensus. And we sent out 35,000 newsletters, we advertised in the press for ideas to come forward, we brought the Councillors together to listen to their ideas, we tried to speak to the business groups, we've been out into the schools, and we've tried to bring community groups together so that ideas can be exchanged so that we can see where our common ground lies, but more important, where our differences lie to see if we can find a way to work towards a consensus.

And it seemed that summing up the views, they really fall into four broad categories:

At one end of the spectrum are the ecologists, the environmentalists. Their argument would run that this is a park, it should stay a park, so all that is required is for us to tidy it up and give it what it deserves which is tender loving care; a perfectly good and valid point of view.

Then there were those who advocate a community building, a café or a restaurant to serve the community and the park users perhaps connected with some sort of community built space whether that's a performance workshop or an educational facility or small art gallery, something that serves the community in its cultural life. And there's no reason why that community building, good architecture, something reminiscent perhaps of the Crystal Palace, should not co-exist with an ecology park in that same site.

The third category of view which emerged was that the Crystal Palace was a great national institution, something that they eyes of the whole of England was upon, so why not have a great museum, a great art gallery, an observatory or a great library facility, something of that nature, a great institutional building which we could all be proud of. Now the detractors to that idea would say well there would be loss of parkland and there would also be some environmental effect, there might be bad traffic effects for example and supporters might say that there are some great European cities that have great institutions sitting within the park and somehow the two co-exist.

The fourth view is that it is possible to create a commercial building, even on the top site, particularly if the uses of that building are driven underground and the car parking is driven underground and what is put on the top of the site is a small replica of the Crystal Palace.

Supporters of that would say we need to find some sort of compromise, some sort of dialogue with London & Regional and would like to see a replica of the Crystal Palace. We expressed a view about that in our most recent newsletter. We're just rather worried that the thing may turn into a wolf in sheep's clothing. We need to be very specific about what would be proposed, the environmental effect, before we could really see if it's something we ought to be having a proper debate about. But again, here is a fourth view which has received some currency and support from within the community.

Four views. How are we going to bring about some consensus between them? The first thing we've done - without naming the building, or the Park or the development or the proposal - is to name the principles which ought to be guiding us so that we can start thinking constructively what would be the proper way of using this glorious site. So we've set our four core principles. The first thing we've done is harden our view about the multiplex building. We feel that the opposition to this building is so strong, it's so visceral that it would be wrong not to reflect that in our first principle. So we say that not only are we opposed to L&R's development, both form and content but we are not prepared to accept this building or any variation, mutation or diminution of it. We can't have a debate about whether it should be a 20-screen or 15-screen multiplex, whether the video arcades in it should be the size of this whole hall or half the size. The message we've had loud and clear from this community is that if there is to be any sort of dialogue, there really does need to be a change of mind-set at London & Regional Properties and the London Borough of Bromley. We're not interested in just talking about the colour of the carpets and the flavour of the popcorn.

We're not just talking about the top site in our second principle. It seems rather silly to hive off the top site as if it were somehow different from the rest of the park. So we ought to be looking at this really beautiful resource as a whole and any proposal will have to integrate with the whole of the rest of the Park. Some of you will have read in the press that the National Sports Center might be revamped, it might become the home of the Olympics in a rather glib statement in Parliament. So we thought we had better broaden out these principles so that they are sufficiently robust to deal with any proposal that comes forward on the Park wherever it is placed. So the second principle covers that.

The third proposal is that there's got to be a proper environmental assessment. Why for goodness sake has there never been an environmental assessment of this scheme? Why was a traffic impact assessment conducted, which is so flawed that a 13 year old could have spotted it. There has got to be, for any proposal, proper assessment of the environmental effect on this community.

And the fourth point is this; we don't just want to be consulted, whereby Bromley says to us this is what you're getting, we say no, they say "good we've consulted now - here's what you're getting". It is what's happened before. We want participation. The senior planner for Barcelona said "the power is in the local authority, the initiative is with the local people and if you can marry the power and the initiative you can achieve almost anything". That's what I want to get if we can, the synergy between the ideas, the imagination and the love of the community and the power of the local authority to bring about schemes to make that initiative really happen.

So that's what we're setting out in our core principles. If you don't agree with them, tell us, it's only by hearing your views that we can work towards trying to bind together, everybody in consensus. The other thing we've been trying to do is bring together the amenity groups. We've been meeting over the last two or three months the amenity groups, like the Dulwich Society, the Norwood Society, the Sydenham Society, in a forum to keep talking about what the "yes" option might be for this Park. I want that to expand, I really want everybody to be part of that forum. I don't see the Crystal Palace Campaign running that forum, the important thing is that everybody who wants to have a say gets a seat at the table and gets to work together towards consensus. That is my plea - that we work together so that in this generation and the next, we have something that everybody is proud of. (applause)Top of page;Top of speech


Councillor Gareth Compton, Conservative, Lambeth

Just to echo what Kim said at the very outset of this meeting. We saw these core principles a few days ago and on behalf of myself and my ward colleagues, Janet Grigg and Russell O'Court and the other two Conservative councillors in Lambeth, Councillors John and Clare Whelan, who represent Thurlow Park Ward, we would unanimously like to endorse these principles and indeed we will be putting these principles before the next full council meeting at Lambeth to give every single Lambeth councillor an opportunity to endorse these principles as well. (applause) We will also ensure that you know what the other councillors do. We will make sure that you find out, through our own leaflets, what every single councillor on Lambeth council thinks about this development. Because we think you have a right to know that.

Now I thought what I'd talk about very briefly today is the latest thing really that we've been involved at because I think Philip [Kolvin] is right that everyone has a role to play in this Campaign and as councillors on Lambeth we have tried to do our best to stop this development as well and the latest campaign that we've been involved in has been in response to the traffic consultation exercise, launched by Bromley Council and their traffic consultants. When I say "consultation", you and I know that what we think of as consultation is not necessarily what Bromley Council thinks as consultation. And their consultation over their traffic and parking proposals was yet further evidence of the contempt that Bromley has for the views of the local people in this community. Because their idea of a consultation was to have an exhibition that they didn't tell anyone about, and consequently no one went to, a leaflet that they claimed went to every resident and simply didn't, and then on the basis of that, they produced a very expensive report that runs to several hundred pages, on the basis of a pitiful response from local people.

In my own ward which has over 9,000 electors, of whom probably 3,000 - 5,000 are very directly affected by their parking and traffic proposals, they received no more than a hundred responses to their consultation. Now we thought this was very puzzling and couldn't understand why so few people were responding to a consultation about proposals which would affect their lives so profoundly. So we decided to launch our own consultation exercise. And we wrote to those 3,000 people, who we thought were really most directly affected, asking them for their views. And, ladies and gentlemen, we consult on many things, and we run many campaigns about different things, we have never, ever had a response of the size and the quality that we had in response to that consultation. Almost everybody who received a letter from us responded in some way or came to our public meeting. And the views that they expressed were very different to the views that Bromley's parking consultant people have expressed because they were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea principally of introducing a parking tax for local people. People paying to park outside their own homes because of a development that they don't want. Adding insult to injury in a more direct way is difficult to think up and we said, and they say, if the developer wants this development, then at the very least, the developer should pay for the parking scheme, but oh no, Bromley seem to think that you should pay for it. So, we launched our own consultation exercise, we sent it off to the consultants, and in I think three lines in their hundred page or three hundred page report, they dismiss our consultation exercise as a sham and of no value. That is what Bromley council thinks about consultation.

Ladies and gentlemen, the other thing I wanted to talk to you about, is really, as a local councillor, how it's felt to us, I know I speak for Kim [Humphreys] and William [Rowe], and the Southwark councillors and the Lambeth councillors, how frustrating it's been to represent a community as overwhelmingly opposed to a scheme that this one is - like nothing like you've ever seen before. You don't get public meetings nowadays with this number of people in it, it simply doesn't happen. You just don't get campaigns nowadays with the support and breadth of support and volume of support that this one has generated. If you have felt absolutely powerless - because it seems to me, that this is really a failure of local government, a failure of local democracy - that you have a borough like Bromley, who have sole control of a park, a park at the very extreme end of their borough and the Bromley councillors make decisions about a park which won't affect their constituents (loud applause). That's one failure; London boroughs are simply too big, because it enables things like this to happen. And in Lambeth, we represent again the very extreme end of Lambeth, the southern most ward of Lambeth. Do you think Lambeth councillors who represent Brixton or Vauxhall could care less what happens in Gipsy Hill? They couldn't. Which is why they support the development. Again another failure of local democracy, that the people who we represent are simply powerless to prevent Lambeth council supporting the development.

And another failure of local democracy - a community, one community divided between five boroughs. One community which wants to preserve its local park, and this is its local park, with no say in how that local park is used or run, because if you happen to live in one of the other four boroughs, you're completely disenfranchised. Now it seems to us, it seems to me at any rate, that this simply cannot go on and that when this development is defeated, as it will be, and when other communities have faced the challenge that we have faced, they shouldn't be put in a position of their prime local resource, their park, their historic park, having their views ignored because of a failure of structures. In London at any rate it really is time for a new assembly to have some power over London parks so that everyone can have a say. We cannot have divide and rule. (applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, that's all I want to say, save to renew to you our pledge that we will continue to fight this development at Lambeth council. We table countless motions, calling upon the council to support the Campaign or to block some aspects of Bromley's planning application or whatever. We will continue to do that and we offer our support to you today and we wish you the very best of luck. (loud applause)Top of page; Top of speech

Tessa Jowell, the Rt. Hon., MP for Dulwich and West Norwood and Minister of State for Education and Employment

I would like to pick up what I think is a very important contribution that Bill Higman [Chairman of the Dulwich Society] made. I think that we are now at an absolutely critical position in the Campaign.

Just before Christmas we had got to a point where, and a gentleman asked what I had been doing since our last meeting - I've pulled together meetings with Bromley, meetings with Ministers, meetings with the other members of Parliament and I can perhaps apologise for my two colleagues Jim Dowd [Lewisham West] and Malcolm Wicks [Croydon North], both of whom would have been here today but they're in Blackpool at the local government conference. The development is actually in Jacqui Lait's constituency, the member for Beckenham, and she's obviously not here and I don't know whether she sent her apologies or not, but clearly the engagement of all the MPs, not just me, because I represent some of you, but I certainly don't represent all of you, the engagement of all the members of Parliament is very important indeed.

Now what we have been trying to do since the last meeting is to get London and Regional to the negotiating table to deliver on their commitment to start negotiating on the basis of a blank sheet of paper. And they wrote to Philip, they certainly wrote to me, saying that they were prepared to negotiate on that basis and there was very clearly the possibility of movement towards the establishment of a stakeholder forum which I and others proposed at the last meeting.

Now there is an obstacle which is their apparent, and I say apparent, refusal to negotiate, on the basis that there is still a legal challenge outstanding and they are not prepared to engage with us while that is the case. I have to say that over the last two weeks I have tried on four occasions to talk to Livingstone who is the partner responsible for the development and he has simply not returned my calls and knows what its about and so forth. That is the key to beginning to deliver in practice on the four principles, which I'm quite sure everybody here supports. So we have to move forward, we have to negotiate, we have to try to dismantle what are the wholly unacceptable parts of this development.

There is another point which if it was mentioned before I arrived I'll perhaps just raise it again, which is as you know the questions about the future of the athletics stadium in the light of the decision that the Wembley stadium which was proposed as a dual purpose stadium, cannot fulfil the functions both as an Olympic standard, a football stadium and as an athletics stadium. And that is, since our last meeting, a new factor in the equation, and I have been engaged in close discussion with Chris Smith and have asked to be kept informed of developments in relation to that. But the situation that we have to avoid at all costs is that we have an unused running track, athletics stadium at the bottom of the site and a multiplex at the top that no one wants. (applause)

I'd like to pick up finally points that a number of people have made about this as an issue at the forthcoming GLA campaign, which I believe passionately it should be. And I also believe that it provides us with the opportunity to try to overcome some of the enormous obstacles to proper negotiation that come as the result of the site being on the edge of four, four boroughs (five) five boroughs, I'm sorry, five boroughs, on the border of five boroughs and I hope that one of things that we can establish after the GLA elections, is some proper forum, albeit a local forum, that means that our GLA members are working together with a common sense of purpose which is not driven by the borough boundaries, which I have to say is the case at the moment.

So I think that the important thing now is to identify the next steps. There is a current block on the course of action which I know the Campaign supported, I support, which is to get all, and Bill Higman speaking for the Dulwich Society and other local amenity societies support, which is to get the key local amenity organisations around the table with London and Regional on the basis of a blank sheet of paper that they promised. I intend to pursue negotiation to that end and hope I have your support in doing that. (applause)Top of page; Top of speech

Darren Johnson (Green Party's candidate for London Mayor)

I do give my unequivocal support to the statements of principles. I welcome those. I also give the Green Party's unequivocal opposition to the building of a multiplex cinema at Crystal Palace Park. (applause)

We are not in the business, in the Green Party, of having arguments with one set of Councillors in one borough, we are unequivocally opposed to this development. And we want to make it a key issue in the elections that come up for a Mayor and an assembly for London because this will be about, supposedly, a new style of politics for London.

The mayor and the assembly will have responsibility for planning - there's been a failure in the planning process here. The mayor and the Assembly will have responsibility for London's economy - and clearly this is not the sort of economic development that we see for London. They'll have responsibility for the environment and we're seeing environmental destruction here. They'll have responsibility for democracy in London, it's supposed to be about improving democracy in London and clearly there's been a democratic failure here.

So we want to make it a key issue in these elections. We're going to be getting over one million leaflets printed for these elections. If the government allows a free mail-shot as they do in general elections we'll have three million leaflets printed and every single one of those will state our total unequivocal opposition to this development. (loud applause) It is a hugely important issue for this community and an inspiration to all of us but it's a hugely important issue for the whole of London as well. We want to make it that way. I am going to make it a key issue in this campaign, right across London - and it is a key issue because of those failures that I've talked about. And I also want you to make it a key issue as well. You will have the vote on May 4th. I'm not pleading with you to necessarily vote for me, (at this stage - I will be in a few weeks time), but what I am pleading with you now is don't give your vote to any candidate from any party unless they say categorically they are opposed to this development at Crystal Palace Park. (loud applause)Top of page; Top of speech

Katriona Ogilivy-Webb - spokesperson for the Boycott UCI Campaign

The group started on the number 3 bus coming back from the Crystal Palace Campaign's Leicester Square rally in March 1999. On that bus a group of us started talking. We had enjoyed the day so much we decided to demonstrate at the Empire, Leicester Square the following Monday.

That evening went so well that the group continues to meet and demonstrate, legally and peacefully, nearly every Monday. We have now been going for over ten months. (loud applause)

We have also expanded to include other nights and other UCI venues. We have twice been to visit the UCI headquarters in Manchester. On each occasion we have handed in over hundreds of letters from the public showing their disgust at this development. On one of these visits Dave Harris, the UCI Vice-President was persuaded to talk to us - on the pavement mind you, not inside! We asked if UCI had built on a park before. He reluctantly had to admit that they had never built on parkland before. He also told us that UCI are looking into building another 50 cinemas within the M25!

We, the 'Boycott UCI Group', feel it is important to keep the pressure on, as Crystal Palace Park is a test case for further developments on open space.

Each week the Boycott UCI Group are able to perform five tasks:

I am speaking to you today to encourage you to join us on the National Anti-UCI day. Your presence all over the country outside UCI cinemas will demonstrate to UCI that they should not build cinemas on parkland.

The Empire, UCI's flagship cinema, is surrounded by other cinemas, and so it is easier to steer people away from UCI. Other sites may not have alternative venues near by. In such cases we can still achieve our goal by increasing public awareness, collecting signatures and being a further embarrassment to UCI.

Since being involved I have got to know so many people in my community and beyond. Many of whom have become good friends. By building up our community links we create a stronger force against UCI.

Your presence on the National Anti UCI Day, I guarantee, will make a difference. (loud applause)
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Last updated 6/02/00
1/03/00 - Philip Kolvin
2/03/00 - Katriona O-W 8/03/00-Darren Johnson