LBC - Mayoral Debate Sunday 30th April 2000, 10am
An invited audience was present representing a wide variety of interests and organisations around London.
Frank Dobson - Labour
Sally Hamwee - (standing in for Susan Kramer who was ill) Liberal Democrat
Ken Livingstone - Independent
Steve Norris - Tory
Brian Hayes (presenter)
...Another local issue but in another part of London - Fred Emery.
Thank you Mr Hayes - I'm going to talk to you about the issue of protecting one of our greatest assets - our parks. We've almost forgotten that -- and it's not about knocking heads together to get developments going, in our case it is to stop one! Your listeners, Brian, I think will know that the Crystal Palace Campaign is supported by tens of thousands of Londoners who are absolutely outraged at Bromley's deal with the developer to build on top of Crystal Palace Park, which is a Grade 2* listed site, a monster cinema multiplex that nobody wants -- now you've been saying, all of you, that you don't have powers - we know, we maintain, that you do have influence. You've been saying that you're going to use this influence and you could actually help prevent this monstrosity. So, specifically --
- so stop it, you're saying --
Well, let me say it - what steps would each of you take to get the power from the Prime Minister to take back control of all London's parks. Remember Crystal Palace was a GLC park - until Mrs Thatcher handed it to Bromley - and so put an end to this sort of commercial exploitation? Not only at Crystal Palace but anywhere in London.
I think that's a very useful initiative and I agree - control over parks is important. Although it's a tragedy that one should be thinking about that in terms of development - I think there's a more positive agenda which is that so many of the parks are unloved it seems to me. Burgess Park, you know, which is the only lung that people have got down the Old Kent Road, that should be a great space for people and I think is pathetically badly managed. But going directly - because I don't want to avoid the question, Fred, that you put, personally I think that there were so many things wrong with the way the process of decision making happens in a site that has got five local authorities involved and one of them made a decision. And one of the great advantages of the new system is that, in fact, that won't happen any more because the mayor will have a proper strategic development responsibility and would have to take account of the whole needs of the area. Now whether you can unwind what has been done, whether it is right to unwind it, what the balance of development on the top site should be, what the traffic implications are - which I've personally expressed concern about - you know, that is another matter. If it can be unwound, I know a lot of people would like it to be, I know many people would be angry with it - the reality is that at least, in future, you've got to get the right kind of environment to deal with that.
In the future in a development like that the mayor will be able to direct the council to refuse to allow it to happen I would have done that if that had been the case. What you can do - Darren Johnson, who is number one on the Green assembly list - if I'm elected mayor I will give him the task of looking into every aspect of that deal to see if there's a way we can stop it.
He knows this doesn't he???
He's agreed --
But what about getting on to the Prime Minister to get this power back?
Well look, I think the big problem is that the Royal Parks --
You'd need an amended act of Parliament --
The mayor should take over the Royal Parks. I think all the candidates agree on that because you should be able to use them much more imaginatively for Londoners.
Do you all agree??
Well I think that, yes, the mayor should have a role with London's big parks. But let's not, whatever your feelings are about local decisions, forget that most of London's parks are relatively small they're very important, they as important as the big parks and I would be very worried if one person, whichever of these three gentlemen or my colleague Susan Kramer it was to be -- had control of all London's parks.
Yes, I'm certainly in favour of the mayor and the assembly taking over responsibility for the major parks in London but I would resist to the death the Greater London Authority taking over the smaller parks. Because actually the GLC, and this isn't any criticism of Ken because it was before his time, the GLC and LCC's record on small parks was appalling. When I first became a councillor the thing that made my reputation locally was that we then took on responsibility for the planned little local parks in Camden and I actually got them laid out but the LCC and the GLC had done nothing about them for about 30 years. And you do need local input. In my own area there is one park which is run by a charity which I chair, Coram's Fields - it's seven acres and it's entirely for children. Adults can't go in unless they're accompanied by a child. There's another one, the Phoenix Park just behind St. Giles-in-the-Fields where local people - Camden gave them the site - and they've laid out the park, they maintain it and they police it, and it's got less trouble there then any other park in the land, probably, because of local involvement.
Brian Hayes - continues with remaining questions --
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