(P109) Talks have not stalled over park - "Your Letters", Croydon Advertiser 25 April 2003

(Written in response to the article, attached below)

Dear Sir,

Your article last week ("Protestors call a halt to talks over park fence") presents a misleading view of the debate over Crystal Palace Park. It refers to a small group (the CPCA) who have decided to withdraw from the dialogue. Talks about the future of the Park have not stalled and, indeed, continue with a large representation from a variety of interested stakeholders.

Those participating include the London Boroughs of Bromley, Croydon and Lewisham, English Heritage, the Sydenham Society, the Crystal Palace Foundation, the Norwood Society, the Crystal Palace Campaign, the Crystal Palace Partnership (SRB Community Forum which comprises, in February 2003, 70 local community and voluntary groups), the Dulwich Society, the Lambethans' Society, Bromley Green Party, and the constituency office of Tessa Jowell. There are plans to extend involvement further by holding public meetings later this year.

The first workshop was sponsored by the Crystal Palace Campaign which, after its success in getting cancelled, in May 2001, the cinema-multiplex planned for the Park, spent the following year in a complex diplomatic effort to get all parties round the table in order to promote a genuine debate on the future of the Park. The first meeting took place in Battersea Park in June 2002 when the stakeholders' initial scepticism dramatically turned into enthusiasm for what might be possible through dialogue.

The issue of the temporary hoardings has caused some debate. Bromley have made significant concessions by promising to open up more of the the enclosed area and allowing better access to the Park, and English Heritage have accepted that the hoardings are indeed temporary. Most of the workshop participants felt that the hoardings issue should not get in the way of vital discussions of longer term matters.

It is a pity that the CPCA members now have lost their voice in the process and are not able to influence events at this crucial stage. The workshops are proceeding apace with participants confident of producing useful results which will be welcomed by the community.

Protest has indeed been replaced by dialogue.

Yours sincerely,

Ray Sacks
Crystal Palace Campaign.
(Representative on the Strategic Working Group)

Croydon Advertiser 11 April 2003

Protesters call halt to talks over park fence
by Susie Rowe

Green campaigners have shunned further talks over the future of Crystal Palace Park after tensions erupted over access to the site.

Crystal Palace Community Association (CPCA) announced it would not be taking part in any further "stakeholder" meetings and instead plans to press Bromley Council independently for full public consultation over the park.

It dropped out of the discussions with council chiefs after a row over temporary hoardings which are still blocking access to the hill top site.

John Payne, chair of CPCA said: "The total failure of Bromley Council to listen to local representatives - who have now freely given five working days to this "consultation" process - and to report back accurately to their executive, brings the purpose of this process seriously into question"

His anger was triggered by Bromley Council's decision to invite artists to display their work on hoardings surrounding the top site at Crystal Palace Park.

CPCA and other stakeholders had already told representatives from Bromley Council that they objected to this idea at a meeting on March 20.

They want the hoardings removed because they are blocking public access to the park's hill-top site - valued as a village green by people in Crystal Palace.

CPCA were backed by English Heritage, who said they "would not welcome any measures to treat the fence as anything other than a temporary phenomenon."

But five days later, an executive meeting of Bromley Council agreed to push ahead with the art plans because they "would benefit the wider community".

They also resolved that the fence should not be altered until certain residents dropped legal action against Bromley Council over the erection of the hoardings.

It was this stance that sparked CPCA's refusal to take part In further talks.

Meanwhile outside the hoardings in Crystal Palace Parade, some passers-by were equally unimpressed by Bromley's idea of displaying art work there.

Rachel Tanner, 35, of Crystal Palace, said: "I think if they get local artists to put their work up there, then kids will just come along and add to it with graffiti.

"It might look good for about 20 minutes but in the end it will get spoilt."

"They should take the fence down as it blocks us all from getting into the park."

Kate Loveday, who works in CJ's cafe on Crystal Palace Parade, agreed art displays would attract graffiti and said: "I wish they would just pull the fence down and get on with whatever they are going to do."

But there was some support for the idea.

Stephanie Barber, who works in Sells Florist, said: "It sounds like a nice idea.

"I don't agree with the park being blocked off, but if they are going to have a fence, they may as well put something a bit different there.

She added: "Also it will give artists somewhere to display their work.

"I know so many people who studied art at College but have no way of getting their work out there."

Top of page; Return to publications index;

25/4/03 Last updated 25/4/03;1/5/02(corrected date June 2001 is June 2002);14/3/04(sp)