The planned eradication of our diverse fully functioning sustainable community was planned way before the Olympics. Antithetically named ‘The Arc of Opportunity‘, this scheme, along with other Newham master plans, seemed to coalesce over the years to form a ‘Core Strategy’ that was adopted by the London Mayor (Boris Johnson) into his ‘London Plan‘. In January, the Secretary of State signed off Robin Wales’s Core Strategy, a very fluid document that sets out Robin Wales’s aspirations to create a Canary Wharf looking utopia.
This utopia has no room for small unfashionable family businesses or poor people. The trail of destruction and broken lives grows longer each day.
Like The Royal Victoria Dock Watersports Centre, run for many years by Danny Pierce. My kids and I were members, and remember his dedication to the local community. It provided subsidised affordable water sports for schools, and for able and disabled people.
Or the Atherton Sports Centre. My family were also members of this historic building, with its art decor and legendary sauna/spa. This wasn’t just a sports centre – it was an essential community hub, a shared space to build diverse community ties.
The Queens Market at Upton Park is fighting to keep this traditional community meeting space in existence, led by Friends of Queens Market.
The residential community of Canning Town and Custom House, decimated by blight and the spectre of regeneration, that Betty O’Connell is fighting for to get a fair deal for those remaining.
Then came the Olympics, with its fanfare and promise of East End rejuvenation. But someone forgot to tell the small businesses that occupied the Olympic park grounds – small traders that are being forced out of business in Stratford as a direct result.
The hot dog and flower vendor on the concourse directly outside Stratford Station – Dean, whose family has been running stalls in east London for over forty years.
Then there are the other market traders that used to share his patch, but could not afford to fight a legal battle to retain their former site. So instead, they have settled for locations that are out of sight from potential shoppers to Westfield or visitors to the Olympics; sites that are far less profitable. These market stall traders are being assisted by fellow trader, Dennis Fischer.
Then there’s us at the Carpenters Estate.
After leaving hundreds of fit-for-purpose homes empty for six years – following a Decant Process that started in 2005 – and despite having the highest waiting list in the country, the Newham Mayor has sanctioned god knows how many hundreds of thousands of pounds (they won’t tell us because it’s commercially sensitive) of taxpayers money, via the BBC, to build luxury media suites on the top five floors of two of the three blocks. These in turn will be sublet to other media companies for undisclosed sums.
Rather than using those homes to rehouse people on our waiting list, Mr Wales would rather these former homes go to media companies for undisclosed sums (see image below).
Over the last few weeks, residents have approached the Mayor at his surgeries in order to exercise our democratic right to ask questions. Yet, the Mayor now maintains that Carpenters Estate is no longer under his charge, and that Boris shall be in control of our future. Of course, Mr Wales will continue to be involved given that he has a seat on the Board of the Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC). The MDC will have regeneration and planning authority over our estate from October on. And so we wonder whether Boris will help us save our homes from destruction.
– Joe Alexander, C.A.R.P.