Public Meeting 25th September 1999
Kingsdale School, Dulwich
Philip Kovin's address- Chairman Crystal
London and Regional Properties - letter of 25th September 1999
Lord Weatherill - MP for Croydon North-east 1964 - 1992 and Speaker of the House of Commons 1983 - 1992
Audrey Hammond - CPC presentation - book to Lord Weatherill
Ray Sacks - Crystal Palace Campaign, webmaster
Jean Lambert - MEP for London, Green Party
Dr Barry Gray - from the Campaign to Save Oxleas Wood
Dr Michael Barraclough - Co-Chair Mudchute Farm Project
Mrs Theodora Waite - Great Great Granddaughter of Sir Joseph Paxton - (letter read by Karen Moran)
My Garden Shed - Philip Goddard (read most admirably by Peter Archer)
Lord Weatherill, former MP for Croydon North East and Speaker of
the House of Commons 1983-89
Jean Lambert MEP for London, Green Party
Dr Barry Gray, Oxleas Wood Campaigner and Respiratory Specialist
Roger Higman Senior Transport Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Dr Michael Barraclough, Co-Chair, Mudchute Farm Project (see Links-Places)
Philip Kolvin Chairman, Crystal Palace Campaign
Ken Lewington, Vice Chairman, Crystal Palace Campaign
Ray Sacks, Crystal Palace Campaign Webmaster
Mike Warwick, Crystal Palace Campaign
Cllr Kim Humphreys, Chairman and Conservative Councillor for the London Borough of Southwark
This page will be updated as information is transcribed.
Ladies and Gentlemen
We all carry from our childhood fragments of memory and some fragments have the power to influence our present actions. I've got a fragment of memory. It's the last bit of a poem which I read as a child. It goes like this: "The banner rising up above. The fluttering wings of their strength and love." That was a poem which was written about the Jarrow March, when 200 brave people marched on London to protest about the abject poverty and unemployment in their town. That march happened 66 years ago and now, whatever our political colours, many of us, particularly those of us who grew up in the north east, remember what those people did as a powerful community action against injustice.
I've often thought of the virtues extolled in that poem; strength and love and I have thought that those virtues have underpinned this community's struggle to find justice at Crystal Palace. As for strength, well we have shown strength in so many ways. Twenty five brave souls from this community, risked all in a judicial review, a costly judicial review, against Bromley Council and then had the fortitude to take the case all the way to the House of Lords. A hundred people underwrote that action financially. Four hundred is the number of the Campaign's active helpers, ladies and gentlemen who trudge the streets leafleting and taking other action in support of our campaign. Seven hundred and fifty was the number who showed up at Bromley's Council meeting in May when planning permission was granted for this site and shouted loud and long to try to cure Bromley Council's temporary and inexplicable deafness. Fifteen hundred is the number who have offered support to this Campaign in a tangible way. Two thousand is the number of our identified donors that is in addition to the thousands of people who drop money in our buckets and seventeen thousand the number of people who have signed our petitions against this proposal.
This community doesn't own the land. It's not the planning authority, it's not even the highway authority but it has shown through its concerted action over two and a half years that it is the moral authority and deserves to play a full part in the future development of its own community and our own land. (Applause)
The other virtue is love. What we've done, we've done for love. Nobody within this community, nobody within this Campaign has stood to gain financially from this community action. And I want to include in that not just the people in the Crystal Palace Campaign but the people in the Crystal Palace Protest, the people in the Ridge Wildlife Group and all the groups who have stood together (applause). We have done it for love of the Park and its history, love of our environment and our village life, love of the open air on that wonderful tree-lined ridge. And mostly, I suspect, we've done it for love of our children and a wish to bequeath to them something of real value and importance.
We can all sit at home and fret and carp and discuss and be gripey about things, but that brings nothing but ulcers. It is action which brings change. I can't stress this highly enough. It is only action which brings change and in our case action born of strength and love.
Today, I come bearing the best news that we have had in the two and a half year life of our Campaign. I have come to tell you that our action has brought us close to a great breakthrough. But I have also come to tell you that it is time to push even harder for victory. We must step up the Campaign not in spite of the news I'm about to give you but because of it. But first and so that we may understand the importance of the news and so that we can react to it sensibly and maturely, I want to restate for everybody the three fundamental principles of this Campaign, for they are our articles of faith.
First, we deplore the huge commercial building planned for the top site and we will use every possible lawful means to prevent its being built. (applause)
Second, we will tolerate some development within the Park, provided that it respects the history of the site, its sensitive parkland location and also the sensitivities of the residential surroundings. We know that while the site is unimproved and allocated in Bromley's statutory plans for development, as it has been for some years, it remains a sitting duck for inappropriate development. We know that the best guarantee against inappropriate development is sensitive, low key, environmentally sustainable development of benefit to the community it serves and that is what we had in mind when last year we published our People's Park proposals for general consultation.
Thirdly we want proper and meaningful community participation in any plans for the Park, not just for the top-site, but for the Park as a whole. We deserve to be involved in the future of our own neighbourhood. (applause)
The Campaign started with three people in a room. I wasn't one of them. It's grown. It's grown substantially. We have taken all sorts of actions and we've had to face all sorts of new and difficult decisions and challenges.. But so long as we've been able to refer back to our fundamental three principles, we've found ourselves guided and sustained in what we do so we need to bear those principles in mind for the future.
In April, we were honoured by the presence at a meeting here, from Tessa Jowell, local MP and Minister for Public Health. Tessa Jowell took away from this meeting one important message and I can assure you that whatever she said and I was here and I heard the way the community reacted to what she said, she did take away one important message, which was "stakeholders' forum". That there ought to be a proper forum for everybody in this community about the future of this site. We stipulated that if there was to be such a forum it was to start with a blank sheet of paper so that all options could be discussed. We're not interested in a forum which can only discuss the flavours of the popcorn, or the opening times of the development or the number of car parking spaces on the roof or the number of cinema screens inside. That is of no interest to us. (applause)
I can tell you that over the five months that have elapsed since the April meeting there has been a great deal of behind-the-scenes diplomacy and negotiation. Some of it has been peaceful, some of it hasn't, but it has taken place between us and the developer, London & Regional Properties, and Tessa Jowell's own office. I can tell you that she has been a catalyst to what is about to occur. This has culminated, this process, just yesterday evening in the receipt of a letter from the developer, London & Regional Properties and it is a development of profound importance for this community. I want to read you the letter in full.
"Blank sheet of paper"
London and Regional
Dated 24th September 1999
Dear Mr Kolvin,
Further to our recent correspondence and telephone conversations regarding the stakeholders forum I am writing to formally comment on our involvement with the said forum.
As I mentioned during our last conversation I have been reflecting on the various issues raised by the community groups and feel that the time has come for a meaningful mediation between ourselves, the community groups, the cinema operators and the London Borough of Bromley.
For the mediation to be effective each party must respect the legitimate rights of the others and meet with a sense of openness, purpose and above all with a clean sheet of paper.
The parties will therefore consider the long term interest of the others and will work together to produce a solution that will be viable for all in the long term.
The scope of the mediation will include all issues pertaining to the provision of leisure in the park and will start without any commitment to particular uses or design.
It is anticipated that although the forum will convene with an air of openness and a mediation will take place the results will not themselves be binding. Following the mediation it will be the intention of all sides to enter into a legally binding agreement to cement the partnership.
I feel that the best next step will be to meet again with yourself and Roger Salmon agree the rules of engagement prior to the first meeting of the forum.
I would be grateful if you would convey the contents of this letter to the members of the campaign and other community groups so that the process can begin. Finally, I would once again like to confirm real willingness to discuss all options in an open way. I hope all parties will do likewise.
(applause) Top of L&RP letter; Top of page; Return to Alternative Prospectus p10
Well how shall we react to the news? As always, we react in accordance with the three fundamental principles which I described earlier. We are, at last, being given a chance of participation in the future of this great site. We must accept it in good faith. We shall work over the next few weeks to making that forum happen in a manner acceptable to the community and all of its representatives. We shall ensure it is public, representative, accountable, imaginative and strong, and we shall ensure that the views of all sections of the community are heard and taken into account. We shall also ensure that any agreements reached as a result of it are legally binding.
Beyond that, I make no promises. We must recognise that the forum might simply fail to find a consensus between us and the developer. Or the consensus may not be acceptable to Bromley Council. But we are not intending to reach agreement for the sake of it. We are not abandoning our opposition to the current scheme. And nor are we cosying up to the developer in any sense of that word. We are seeking to find a solution which reflects the ideals and aspirations of the whole community and if we fail, it will not be for want of trying. But I am determined that it shall succeed and I pray that our determination will be rewarded. (applause)
I've got something still more important to tell you. While we are locked in diplomacy, the Campaign must go on. It's only because of our strength and determination that we have achieved what we have. If we cease campaigning, there will be no incentive for the developer to make concessions. It's not a time to ease up, it's a time to redouble our efforts (applause). Today is the launch of our autumn campaign and I'm not going to be deflected simply by the prospect of negotiation.
This summer we have taken stock of our situation. We have examined the beast and have discovered that while its hide is of armour, its underbelly is the soft, flabby flesh of greed. (applause) At root the greed is that of UCI. UCI might stand for Uncaring Corporate Involvement or it might stand for Unprincipled Community Invaders. In fact it stands for neither of those things it stands for United Cinemas International. Not a local concern - lives in Manchester and is governed by an American corporation which owns it. UCI always has hoped to keep its head down, let Bromley take all the flak, and then when the furore has died down, the Campaign is exhausted and the community is spent, to come to build the largest cinema in the south of England at the head of our great Park. It has miscalculated - gravely - and I intend, through this campaign and this community that we should bring that home to the board of UCI. (applause)
For several months, the community, and by this I mean the community at large, not the Crystal Palace Campaign but other protest groups too, has inundated UCI's mailbag and fax machines with thousands of letters. A group of hardy volunteers has picketed its cinemas in the southern region. Deputations have travelled to Manchester to protest outside its head office and I myself went to see their Board to explain if they came here it would be an albatross around their neck. We are conveying the message widely that this company is an uncaring opportunist, which is not a comfortable image for the operator of a cinema chain.
And we've had great effect. I think we've had great effect because the developer is now prepared to enter into a stakeholders forum. But UCI is worried. Recently, it told the press that it was still not 100% committed to this scheme. Still more recently its Managing Director told the pickets on the pavement in Manchester that it was willing to reduce the cinema size by 40%, well that means 1600 seats, so that's no small reduction. That is hardly the reaction of a corporation which is wedded to these proposals. It's running scared. Oddly and not withstanding our open invitation to the company to attend this meeting, it was simply too busy to attend. Still more oddly when we invited it to the meeting that Tessa Jowell held in April, it was unable to attend. It's running scared for this community. It's wobbling and if we push hard enough, Ladies and Gentlemen, it will topple. (applause)
If UCI pulls out of this scheme, the scheme will collapse because there's no other cinema multiplex operator in Europe which is prepared to become involved in this top site. The Managing Director of one of the biggest, I can't name him, simply phoned me to say it's half-baked, too big and in the wrong position. We know there is no other cinema operator on the scene.
Now how are we going to press this advantage home? Well I started with reference to the Jarrow marches. What they did still resonates, down the ages, because a march represents the most powerful political statement available to protest groups. If they had come down to London on Inter City I guess we wouldn't have remembered them. It was the fact of the march which gave them the dynamism and enabled them to be remembered.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to have a march. On 9th October, we shall march from Crystal Palace Park to Leicester Square, to have a rally outside UCI's flagship cinema, The Empire in Leicester Square. (applause) It will be a peaceful, proud and happy community event, properly policed and stewarded. I want to see children on the march, working for their own future. I want adults. I want the elder states-persons of our community, many of whom have been such staunch supporters of our Campaign. And for those who cannot manage the whole march, you can join at staging posts along the way or just join us for the rally at Leicester Square. Most of you should have on your seats details of what the march is supposed to entail. I want you to ask your family and your friends and your work colleagues and people that you drink with in pubs, people you play with in sports centres, get them all, get them out there, get them to join us. I want to see banners, I want to see costumes. We are going to have prizes for the best banners and costumes along the way. And please bring - we haven't got a band yet - please bring musical instruments, anything that makes a noise, drums or trays, whatever you will, let's make a noise that's going to resonate down the generations and cause our grandchildren to say - they did it for us, they made a difference. (applause)
At Leicester Square, we will be handing our petition to UCI, our Campaign 1999 petition. Please get out there Ladies and Gentlemen and get more signatures. If we get them by Wednesday 6th October, that's a week next Wednesday, we can copy them ready for presentation. We have 17,000 signatures. If each of you get out there and get another 10 or 12, we'll have 25,000 signatures by a week next Wednesday. Please do it, you've got a petition form on your seat, petition forms are enclosed in your newsletters, please give it priority. Also if you'd like to treat this as a sponsored march, to keep the coffers of the Campaign in a healthy state, there are sponsorship forms sitting next to the pillars at either end of the stage. Fund-raising is not the main priority of this march - your presence is. But if you'd like to treat it as a sponsored march, please do. And if you can do nothing else, if you can't help the march at all, please write to UCI, get your friends to do so - particularly if they live out of London. Let's spread the word. Let's make a difference.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have been proud, immensely proud, to have been part of one of the most concerted community actions since town and country planning began 50 years ago. Multiplex cinemas are a temporary fad. The permanent foundations on which this Campaign stands are the only ones worth having: community, democracy, the environment, the right future for our children. We must be patient. All will come, in time. We mustn't lose heart, we must show courage, determination and persistence. I know we can win. We must win. We will win.
Come, march with us, to victory. (applause) Top of speech of P Kolvin; Top of page
LORD WEATHERILL, MP for Croydon North-east 1964 - 1992 and Speaker of the House of Commons 1983 - 1992
I don't know how many of you visit Croydon these days from Upper Norwood, but in the centre of George Street there's a statue of Surtees Jorrocks, out of the Surrey Hills around Croydon. And one of his dictums was this: "Three things I will never lend: me 'orse, me wife and me name". The horse and my wife I'm not lending but I'm very happy to lend my name to this Campaign. (applause)
I must make it absolutely clear that a "high crime and misdemeanour" in political terms is for any member of Parliament to interfere in the constituency of any other member of Parliament and I was rather concerned to see some of the posters that went up saying I was going to be the guest speaker. I think the guest speaker has been your admirable chairman.
I must say I do not know of a campaign of any kind that I've been connected with in my thirty odd years in politics that has attracted quite so much support and quite so much concern, even anger.
And I think we do owe a deep debt of gratitude to Philip, not only for the splendid way in which he's represented your interests but also the expertise which he has, as a barrister, finding the right quotes and achieving what we all wanted to have, which is a discussion around the table with a blank sheet of paper. (applause)
It is his achievement, but it is also your achievement, because, although we're in Tessa Jowell's constituency, my former constituency, Upper Norwood, were frequently on to me and expressing their concern about the Crystal Palace. I've no real locus here at all, so I have had to be in touch with all the members of Parliament concerned, all of whom have welcomed my presence at this meeting today. Tessa Jowell, Jim Dowd and Malcolm Wicks are at the party conference and are unable to be present, but they all send you their greetings. I know the extent to which all of them have been involved in this Campaign, particularly Tessa Jowell. I see from her office an enormous file of letters which she has written to ministers, to Nick Raynesford the Minister responsible for the GOL, a whole raft of other people. I would like to assure you all that she in particular, we are in her constituency, has done everything that a member of Parliament can and is responsible for doing in bringing your concerns to bear.
Jacqui Lait I've had a long conversation with; she's in France on holiday, she has said that the realities of the situation are that the Bromley Council has granted planning permission for this development and that's a matter of plain fact and the developers can continue if they so wish.
The great success of your Campaign has been to bring them up short and to invite you to come and discuss the implications of this development and apparently are quite prepared to change it.
Now I think we want a development up there - and there will be a development up there - at some stage - that does genuinely reflect the spirit of the old Crystal Palace. I don't know how many of you have seen the model outside, Ray Hall's model outside, which in my judgement does reflect the spirit of the old Crystal Palace. And I think if that had been the plan that had been put forward by the developer, there wouldn't have been much objection to it. (dissent from the audience) A mini Crystal Palace. However, I hope this will be considered when your representatives discuss this matter with the developers.
Mr Chairman, I don't think there's very much more for me to say, other than to again congratulate you and all of you, for the way in which you have managed to achieve your objective. All the members of Parliament have said to me, indeed they have thanked me for coming to this meeting, "can't you get them round a table?" Now I've only one expertise and that is, over many years, for getting people around a table. As some of you already now, currently going through the House of Lords, there's the Weatherill amendment, which is a compromise to overcome the problem which we face about the reform of the House of Lords. You do away with all the Peers at once and the place would come to a grinding halt because they do a large part of the work. So we've had to come to a compromise, and we've got round a table and that is what you've managed to achieve in your Campaign here.
So I conclude by warmly congratulating you all for the energy with which you have proceeded over the months and in your enormous achievement in persuading the developers to meet you with a blank sheet of paper. I hope, that out of this there will be a united view of a replacement of that wonderful site - the last open site in the south of London with all its historic significance.
Let us hope there'll be something there, not just for our generation but for the generations of our children and our grandchildren. (applause) Top of speech Top of page
Lord Weatherill, dear Bernard, thank you, thank you from everybody in the Campaign. I can't tell you how grateful we are to you for coming today and we all know how you understand and have always understood our problems in this area and you have expressed so well everything that we need.
I have much pleasure in presenting you with the Crystal Palace Book by Patrick Beaver, signed by the author and with a little inscription from us all. (applause)
Top of page
RAY SACKS - Crystal Palace Campaign, webmaster
I am going to talk a bit about consultation and I want to touch on one or two aspects of the forum. I want you to know that one thing that should be absolutely clear right at the beginning - it is this - the Crystal Palace Campaign does not have a view on what should go in the park. This may seem strange after all we did and do oppose the current multiplex design. Nevertheless, contrary to what many believe, it is a fact.
We've put forward the Peoples Park Paper by way of introducing ideas as a precursor to the consultation process. We want to act as the catalyst, not necessarily as the proposer, of a variety of ideas (and there are many) from all sources who are interested in the park. Other groups have their ideas as well as does Ray Hall whom Lord Weatherill mentioned. There is no reason why these ideas should not be considered at the table. There is one point to bear in mind - times have changed. When I was researching aspects of the history of this area, I found that the Victorians built two railway stations which had (at least in 1871) several hundred trains a day travelling to and from both railway stations. They were carrying something like 2 million people a year for the first 30 years of the Crystal Palace Campaign ... er - I mean to the Crystal Palace (sounds, pause) I wish we had 2 million people in the Campaign (laughter).,...The current proposal suggests that something like 4 million visitors are required a year to make it viable. Now that is an enormous change from those times and in an area which now has a vastly increased population compared to the early years of the Palace.
Some of the things we need to be concerned about is what those numbers mean in terms of noise and air pollution, traffic congestion and the many other issues and problems we've talked about in the Campaign.
We in the Campaign welcome consultation and we hope that very early on we would be able to hold a meeting, a forum, as a preamble to the meetings with London and Regional Properties where we can agree how the partcipation will take place. Now I know that this may not sound very decisive but that is only because we've just received the letter from L&RP and are taking time to consider the implications. It is now only left to me to encourage you by saying that in the very near future, when we start the process going, that we will participate knowing that, now that L&RP have talked about "a blank sheet of paper", we will have something to discuss. The letter gives us the key to start serious talks and we note from the tone of the letter that that is what L&RP want as well. We will work in good faith. That the discussions will be difficult I have no doubt. But I think that, taking heart from the resolve and support of this community we will face L&RP with strength remembering that the direct talks are something we've always wanted. We will not fall into the Bromley way of doing things we will consult and we will promote, with your help, this communities views. Thank you (applause)...
Top of speech; Top of page
Thank you very much for the invitation. As has just been said, now that there are tenders for the whole of London I suppose in theory we get to choose our own 10% and this is certainly an issue that I think is well worth a lot of time and effort and consideration.
As one of the things I've taken on with the European Parliament, I am a member of what is called the "Petitions Committee" and on that Committee we hear from people throughout the European Union who have the right to petition Parliament if they believe that European law has not been properly implemented in their particular case. And the sort of thing that we get before us a lot of the time, it would appear, is to do with inappropriate developments where environmental considerations, local considerations have not been taken fully into account and we're asked to look at that in some detail. If I were looking at this scheme from that point of view, well apart from the failure of imagination at the beginning of it, there are three other particular areas of failure which I think are only too common.
One is the failure of democracy in terms of local consultation beforehand where people have been presented with a fait accompli (applause) which they then feel they have to protest rather than having been constructive in the first place. And I think that the level of protest, and the level of involvement in this sort of campaign demonstrates very fully that people are not apathetic about decision making, they are not apathetic about their communities, it's a question of the issue and when people feel they have been left out of the equation then they are very vocal, very interested and very constructive indeed. (applause)
There's a failure of democracy, there's a failure as well to consider properly environmental considerations, whether that's initially an environmental impact assessment which certainly somebody needs doing that sort of assessment - just looking at the number of car parking facilities there - somebody was thinking about traffic generation here - but they weren't looking at it as part and parcel of a local package and what that would mean to people in terms of congestion, noise and pollution. And indeed they weren't looking at it in terms of the Traffic Reduction Acts which are now in force and the third one being worked on at the moment - I'm sure Roger will talk about that - which will require local authorities to look at ways to diminish the amount of traffic on our roads (applause)
And also with the environmental side of it, I would put in too, that what people have failed to consider is how people will want in future to use that area if they are concerned about their personal safety and I'm not feeling that that's been taken into account as well.
And the third area of failure is the economic one, in terms of "who really benefits from the development which is being proposed?" Is it really going to be in terms of sustainable employment for the local people with the money being kept local so it will be used to help you within this particular area? Or are what we're seeing a sort of import and export of cash where the local economy doesn't really benefit but local people certainly pick up all of the bills whether it's for rubbish collection, whether its administering residents parking schemes or whatever else.
So I think there are a number of failures within these particular proposals which I think is well for us to put down some powerful markers for the sort of development that people will want to consider in the offer that you now have.
And it's a fascinating coincidence of timing, a number of us were
saying, about this particular offer to sit down round a table with a
blank sheet of paper but if you hadn't been having the meeting today,
if you hadn't been thinking about the march, when would you have
actually got this letter? So I think what it shows is that you do
need to keep up the pressure, that people will listen if they think
that the consequences are actually going to be tough enough for them
and so keep the campaign going but now let's look to be imaginative
and creative in a way which moves things forward rather than simply
in a way which has to say "no". Let's be positive. (very loud
Top of speech; Top of page
DR BARRY GRAY - Campaign to Save Oxleas Wood
I'm very happy to be here today as representative of the campaign which fought to save Oxleas Wood in south east London over the last decade and a half. And the organisations I represent are full of admiration for the Crystal Palace Campaign and give it our full support as a bulwark against these barbarians in grey suits, a spate of barbarians in grey suits, which are set to butcher various green sites around South London and the South of England. (applause)
There are many similarities between our campaign and Crystal Palace. Our campaign is a very long one - it's gone on for a decade and a half now. Yours has been a very long haul and you've got some really exciting news about that today.
We had a precious green space, Oxleas Wood, which happens to be a national site for Special Scientific Interest within the fabric of inner south east London, which was greatly valued by the local community and indeed nationally. We had a rather insensitive developer to deal with, in our case it was the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for the Environment. But judging by injunctions that you've had served on you to elderly ladies giving bread pudding to youngsters at Crystal Palace, you're dealing with an equally insensitive developer.
But campaigns like this, especially when they're on Metropolitan Open Land, which should be protected, according to the legislation as much as Green Belt, affect us all.
At the height of the Oxleas Wood Campaign I received a letter and a small donation from an elderly lady near Inverness. She apologised, quite unnecessarily, for not being able to give more but she said "I've never seen Oxleas Wood but I've seen pictures of it and at my age it's unlikely that I will ever see it but the preservation and protection of places like Oxleas Wood and thousands of sites like it around the country is important for everyone in a civilised society." And that's the way we feel in the Oxleas Wood Campaign about your Campaign here at Crystal Palace.
I share your disappointment at the setbacks that you've had. After all this is a traffic-generating proposal on Metropolitan Open Land which has been approved by a government which in its pre-election document, for instance in "Trust for Tomorrow", was pledged to stop such decisions taking place. (applause)
As a member of the Labour Party and in common with a growing number of members of the Labour Party, we are deeply disappointed and unhappy about such decisions. (applause)
Now you've had some wonderful news today but my message like your Chair's message is "Do not give up". We thought we'd laid the ghost of the East London River Crossing and its destruction of Oxleas Wood, but there are still very powerful forces at work that want to build a new motorway across the Thames and start the whole nightmare again. The government has withdrawn the scheme but it is still there lurking in the background. So be circumspect. News of the forum is wonderful but be circumspect and be ever vigilant about the way it is going to work.
Our sense of disappointment was summed up in one of our newsletters which sums up some of the problems you've had and it's a piece of poetry, not nearly as poetic as the piece you've heard before, and it's about the enclosures in the 18th century which said that:
"The Lord doth punish man and woman
That steals the goose from off the common.
But lets the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose."
Our organisations will make a donation, a small financial donation to your Campaign from our whittling funds but we will make a much more important donation which I hope will give you spirit to carry on and show that it's never too late.
We went through the High Court, the Court of Appeal and petitioned the European Commissioner for the Environment and in the end we had some success. The piece of paper our organisation will donate to yours is called "Statutory instrument number 203 176". It's a rather prosaic title but it is in fact the revocation order for the East London River Crossing, which was signed by the Secretary of State in July 1993 after 12 years in government saying they wouldn't do it, they couldn't do it and under no circumstances would they ever do it..... they finally did it.
Your Campaign is very important to us. You can win, you should win, you must win.
Good luck to you. (loud applause)
Top of speech; Top of page
DR MICHAEL BARRACLOUGH - Co-Chair Mudchute Farm Project
It is wonderful to see the stirrings of the community and I'm sure in fact you're going to win. The first battle won is how you take it on from there because actually local authorities are not actually the right people to run your green space and parkland. (applause) At the moment in fact that it's put out to competitive tender you'll have a few big companies who'll bus people in, the grass is cut and they do a minimum. They don't put much money in - there aren't any votes in the park - the budget gets cut from year to year and so actually you find, all around the country, that parkland is suffering.
Now what we did with the Mudchute, it started like this 20 years ago - a big 32 acres in the middle of the Isle of Dogs. It belonged to the PLA and the GLC bought it in order to construct a high-rise housing estate, just like the ones they're now blowing up and pulling down. The local community, just like you, reacted and said "No - this must be our parkland". It blocked the roads and they had a two year campaign and eventually the GLC gave up. The local authority said we can't run it - you've got to do it. And so they set up a trust and the trust met with the local community and elected from amongst themselves their trustees. The wonderful thing about that structure is, it is run by the community and it does all these different things.
First of all it aimed to call in the people of the area. People living in cities don't have gardens often, they love nature and so we actually built in all these volunteers who come out and care for the place. On the Isle of Dogs at the moment - this is the biggest development zone in the country - a major park is being constructed and developed entirely by the volunteers with no paid staff and it is extraordinary in fact what has been done.
Now the other thing that you can do is determine the nature of a park. So people sat around and said we don't just want a few specimen trees, we want it to be like the country. So we planted copses and woods and hedges. We brought back the wildlife and it's now zoned by the London Ecology Unit as a "Metropolitan Area of Environmental Importance" simply because of the range of its wild flora. People also said why don't we in fact have animals and so we developed what is now the country's largest development farm - grasslands grazed by cattle and sheep. Then, when ILEA used to have a nature study centre for local schools, Mrs Thatcher in her wisdom abolished ILEA and that nature study went. So the local teacher said why can't we have one here, so we developed the biggest nature study in the East End with 15,000 children from 78 schools coming around - milking goats, taking the milk, making goats milk, butter, cheese, ice cream etc.
The point about all of this is that if you as a community control your green space you can respond to all the initiatives around. You can build on the work of volunteers. And you also create very important relationships with the local business community. If I want a JCB on the Isle of Dogs to do some landscaping, I ring up a friend who does the roads and he'll say Mike, yes, not tomorrow or the next day but on the Wednesday you'll have a JCB. So if you want an electrician, if you want a plumber you ring up somebody and he'll send you down an electrician or a plumber. So you actually create the integrated community, use the green space to create community. At the moment most of the green space in our cities is covered in dog shit, it's alienated, it doesn't belong to people so what I would suggest to you very very strongly when you will win your battle, is how you take it on from there. You need to set up a trust in the area, Crystal Palace Trust, you then drive the trust forward and you can do the most wonderful things.
A few months ago the Queen came down to visit the Mudchute. She was coming to the East End and said what community project can I visit and she was absolutely overwhelmed. Because it is a little microcosm of the countryside - you see great Canary Wharf up there and then there are sheep grazing. The value of that is so much greater than a car park, so you must win your battle.
Fundamentally this is about people power. We in this country have a lousy political system. We are subjected every four years or so when 20% of us turn up to vote and in the end the whole thing is done by bureaucracy and councils. Its amazing that they've actually passed a planning consent. In the United States this would not happen. You, the people, would be sovereign and you would say "No way". In the end, it is only by this sort of activity that you will change the fundamental political structures of this country and make the people sovereign . (long loud applause)
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ROGER HIGMAN - Senior Transport Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
I agree with everything Barry said because actually, at one point in the early 1990's, my campaigns' director was trying to tell me that we shouldn't be working on Oxleas Wood because it was lost. We should be working on other issues, other campaigns. And he was wrong. And Barry was right. And local people said you've got to keep on working on this issue, because this is absolutely fundamental - if we don't win this one we won't win hundreds and hundreds of others and Barry was right.
I think the lesson from Oxleas Wood is that there are always people who will say we cannot do it but actually if you keep it up, if you keeping putting on the pressure, you can force these people away. And that's what I think you really need to take home today.
Now the letter that you've received I think is brilliant but let's not be complacent. (applause) There were points in this letter that I thought were very interesting. There's a tendency to read these letters as very favourably to the campaign.
First quote is this: "For the mediation to be effective each party must respect the legitimate rights of the others." Does that mean that we're going to respect their legitimate right to build an enormous multiplex cinema on Crystal Palace?
"The parties will therefore consider the long-term interests of the others." Great if it's our way round, what if it's their way round?
The lesson from that, and it's been stressed already today, is now is not the time to go easy, now is the time to stand firm, now is the time to keep on putting pressure (applause) on UCI because it is only by putting on the pressure that you will keep them negotiating, keep them making compromises and eventually will get what you want.
The final thing I was going to say is that there may be people who are accusing you of self-interest. It's great - you live in this part of the world, surely the cinema complex will go somewhere else, to some less fortunate community? And the thing I have to say about that, is that at the moment, the government is involved in a massive argument with itself about the nature of new development and local controls on new development.
Many of you will have seen the take-over of ASDA by Wallmart and the potential stories about massive new superstore complexes up and down the country. Many of you will be aware of the proposal for things like huge new leisure complexes in Rugby, in Gwent - massive new stadia in different parts of the country. The government is having a debate between the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on the one hand and the No.10 Policy Unit on the other, about whether to allow these sorts of developments to go ahead. They're revising their planning guidelines because the DETR is quite keen to see much smaller developments being approved and to say "No" on the massive developments of this sort.
I think what I say to you is if people accuse you of being NIMBY, of saying "If it doesn't go here it will go somewhere else", they're lying. Actually if it doesn't go here, it won't go anywhere at all, and that's what we work for. (applause)
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A Statement by MRS THEODORA WAITE the Great Great Granddaughter of SIR JOSEPH PAXTON
My great great grandfather conceived an idea of what was to become the Crystal Palace in a matter of moments in Derby station over a piece of blotting paper. The design rang true from that moment. Can this be said of what is being planned today? I believe there was some objection to begin with even in those days for such a revolutionary structure, but the objections voiced today by the people living in the area surrounding this late monument go far deeper than that. I was fortunate enough to meet many of those concerned during the Victonian day held this summer. I was shown the park and the site and was so impressed with what I saw and heard.
I do not think the proposed multiplex would be given air time in New York or Paris or any city which respects its parks or people. Maybe it can be said that this park, because it is not in the very centre of London, does not warrant such respect. I think this is an unfair and rash judgement. It is a very special area; it reminds me of a smaller version of New York's Central Park, but a friendly one. The old site has a certain majesty and dignity. It is held in great affection and is historically important. It should not be lightly cast aside for commerce alone. If, after all, it is replaced, I feel strongly that it needs to be done with every serious consideration for the far reaching effect for so many concerned, with enormous responsibility for many decades ahead.
With all that in mind, I hope this meeting and any further ones will keep an open mind and really listen to the voices of all the people who have lived with the ghost of Paxton's palace for nearly three-quarters of a century and who will still be here after this is all resolved.
Read out at the meeting on her behalf by Karen Moran.
25/9/99 Last updated 20/11/99