Wednesday, 25 March 2009

ELA Print Number of Letters Re Safeway Fiasco

A quick look on the ELA website this evening shows that there are 4 letters expressing concerns about the Safeway Fiasco development and the Council's desire to push through the planning application.

Residents can see it, what about the Council?!

See here.

Letter to the Council

This evening I have written to the Council - to the planning officer Steve Irvine - having heard that they are refusing to give any consideration to previous objections. A copy of my letter is below.

"Dear Stephen,

I understand that you are the Planning Officer in relation to 2 Gladstone Place. As a local Bow resident I am writing to ask the Council to consider adjourning the planning application from the 2nd April Scrutiny and Development Committee.

I have recently come to understand that the Council is refusing to consider any objections from the previous duplicate planning application. I would firstly urge the Council to reconsider this stance. The application is a duplicate of the original application and has only been put through because of the threat of Judicial Review, and no other reason. To fail to count previous objections to the same application is utterly outrageous, and I ask the Council to reconsider this. This was not made clear when the planning application was resubmitted, and it is disengenuous to suggest that one cannot assume residents are no longer objecting. In fact, the fact that a local residents group has threatened and now brought judicial review action is, on the contrary, indicative that there remains very strong objections.

Secondly, given that it has only become clear recently (and after the formal consultation period ended) that there is to be no account given of the previous objections, the fair and just thing to do is to hear the planning application at the SDC after 2nd April, and to extend the time for objections, and tell residents that if they do not agree they must object again. That would be the honest thing to do.

I understand that the meeting on 2 April may have logistic difficulties, given the G20 summit, and the high likelihood of protesters in Canary Wharf, and the impact on transport may prevent residents from attending and raising their genuine concerns.

If the Council genuinely wants to hear this planning application fairly, rather than pushing through what appears to be a pre-judged decision without consultation, then the following steps should be taken:

* Hear the application at the next SDC after 2 April
* Extend the consultation period
* Allow all previous objections to be considered - it can safely be assumed that 90% (at least) remain in opposition.
* Reconsider the decision to have an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)

A number of local residents have voiced to me their concerns about this ill-thought through planning application which appears to promise a Tesco (but with an inadequate s.106 agreement) to push through a development of over 200 flats, without considering properly the transport plans (articulated lorries down Cardigan Road and the loss of the car park leading to the inevitable downturn on Roman Road market), insignificant consideration being given to sunlight, PTAL figures changing over time, the height towering over the Conservation Area, and the design being out of character for the local area. I hope that this time the Council will listen.

To make it clear, I welcome a supermarket, but not at the costs to the local area that this development brings; what the residents of Bow need is long term sensible town planning for the Roman Road.

If you are not the appropriate person for me to raise these concerns with, please pass this e-mail onto who should be informed, or let me know and I will write to them directly.

Kindly confirm receipt of this e-mail.

Yours sincerely,


Saturday, 21 March 2009

Petition in Roman Road

In case Tower Hamlets Council will not consider previous objections, we were out today collecting signatures of those attending the Roman Road market who objected to the loss of the car park, the nature of the development, or the failure to have an EIA.

A great day and over 150 signatures collected. And beautiful sunshine to.

What was remarkable was the sheer scale of the objections: from traders who fear losing their business, to local residents who can't bear the size and scale of the development and its knock on effects on local business, to those who have travelled from far afield to visit the market, but could not if there was limited parking.

If you want to object see the earlier post of where to write to. Please contact me if you would like a petition sheet, or a standard objection letter.

Let's hope Tower Hamlets do the decent thing and listen.

Friday, 20 March 2009

The Plans have NOT changed but have been resubmitted

Plans to Build on Former Safeway Car Park

Following objections last year the developers made some changes to the proposed building on the Safeway Car Park. They were very similar to the previous plans. They still involve building a 4/5 to 10-storey development on the car park. The only real change is that the plan for 221 flats has been reduced to 208. After a letter threatening Judicial Review, the developers have resubmitted the SAME application!

2000 people signed petitions against the original proposal – an unprecedented level of objection, which deserved serious consideration. This was ignored by Labour Councillors – and the original objections may not count in this latest round of ‘consultation’. The development:

· Visually it will do nothing to enhance the area as it will be built right out to the car park wall along Anglo and Cardigan Road. It would be over twice the height of the Lord Cardigan and will look like a huge fortress has been dumped on the area. A 10 storey tower block would rise out of it in Vernon Road.
· The current car park would be replaced by just 30 pay and display places in an underground car park. This is nowhere near enough, and will kill off the shops and market.
· It is claimed the retail element (a small Metro & 2 small shops) will deliver 125 full-time jobs.
· Transport: articulated lorries are supposed to travel north up Cardigan Road, through no entry signs and turn left down the middle of a street market

Everyone wants a supermarket and the plan includes a food retail space. This is being used by developers to negotiate the best deal for themselves. They are putting pressure on the Council to agree the plans. People are saying that Tesco are interested in a Metro sized store but the Council cannot guarantee that Tesco or any other chain will take on the space. This site will take at least 30 months to build and during that time huge changes can happen to a company’s objectives, ownership and financial standing. It didn’t take Morrison’s long to shut our local Safeway.

There is a danger that Bow will be blighted for years to come by a totally inappropriate development because of promises of a supermarket that either fails to materialise, or that opens and then closes two years later.

This proposed development would have a negative impact on Bow by removing a lot of car parking space. It will force shops and the market to close. Residents adjacent to the site would be facing a huge brick wall. It destroys an open space that could be used for something better. This is too high a price to pay for the promise of a supermarket.

The developers and the council have listened to previous objections as they have modified the plans. If more people object again they will have to listen. If you agree with us please write to:

Tower Hamlets Planning Department
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 1BY

Quote reference PA/09/00203&209 2 Gladstone Place

Make it clear that you are objecting and explain why. Use your own words or use our standard letter. The deadline has theoretically passed. Get them in quickly. We are insisting they extend the deadline.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Local Fires

I have just seen on the news this evening the shocking news about the fire this afternoon in the Gudwara Sikh Sangat, in Harley Grove, Bow. Reports from the ELA suggest that "Ten emergency fire crews were mobilised from all over East London to the sangat at Harley Grove in Bow where fire broke out soon after lunch on the first floor, after the Fire Brigade received several 999 calls at 2.10pm."

Fortunately it appears that noone was hurt, but the damage is to the place of worship itself as well as the holy books stored on the premises.

This is the second fire in the last few days in Bow, with a local business on Fairfield Road on fire on Wednesday night. On that night, I witnessed the immense work that the fire crews did to get that fire under control, and to give local residents the comfort that the fire was out.

If the fires are deliberate, it is hoped that perpetrators will be caught and brought swiftly to justice. Seeing the fires so close to home last week is a stark reminder of how much damage fire can do, and what a fantastic job our local (and not so local) fire crews do.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Letter in East London Advertiser

The ELA have published my letter. The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Editor,

I was concerned to read about Columbia Road market traders' worries about the rates for pitches in the market, and the effect that rising costs and the current economic climate is having on their business. As the traders point out, many of the visitors to the market are tourists, who do not buy flowers or plants. However they do contribute to the local economy by visiting and supporting other businesses, who in turn employ local residents.

That is why I called upon the Council in a recent deputation not only to freeze council tax, but to cut business rates, and consider the long term effects of increased fees on the local area. It would be a real shame if traders started moving from Columbia Road with a detrimental effect to all local businesses, due to the cost, because of short sightedness of the Council.

I hope that the Council will think again before imposing any increases on traders, and consider the fees in comparison to other markets.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Palmer

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Listed Buildings

I was delighted to read this recently and have been meaning to blog about it for a while:

"English Heritage Recognises Tower Hamlet's Unique Heritage and History"

One of the things I love about Tower Hamlets is its sense of history and the large numbers of historic buildings. I am delighted that a number of historic sites have all been formally recognised and listed at grade II (on the expert advice of English Heritage):

- Former Poplar Town Hall (now Bow House), Bow Road
- Police Station and Stables, 111 Bow Road
- Tredegar House, 97 and 99 Bow Road
- The former New People's Palace (now part of Queen Mary and Westfield College), Mile End Road
- Albert Stern House (formerly Beth Holim, 253 Mile End Road
- 27a Mile End Road (former Engineer's Residence to Albion Brewery)
- Tomb of Joseph Dixon, St Mary's Church, Bow Road, Bromley by Bow
- Gents WCs outside St Mary's Church, Bow Road, Bromley by Bow
- Six Cast-Iron Bollards, Kit Kat Terrace

It is expected that the 2012 Olympics will lead to a surge of tourists in the East End of London, exploring the special and unique heritage that the area has to offer. So fantastic news all round, and a victory for common sense, tradition and conservatism (in the sense of a small 'c').

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Radio 5 Live

This lunchtime I was on Radio 5 Live along with a Lib Dem activist, a Labour PPC and a floating / student voter. We were there to discuss PMQs. It was a slightly subdued affair given that it was David Cameron's first PMQs since his return from 2 weeks leave following the death of his son. It also dealt with the tragic murders in Northern Ireland of the two Sappers and the policeman.

I had a fair crack at the Labour woman about Gordon's failure to answer David Cameron's question about a judge led inquiry into the torture allegations.

Reports back have been good.

Selection Deferred

"Bethnal Green and Bow Conservative Association, at a ballot of members last night, did not endorse the candidate selected at the earlier open primary meeting. A new selection process will now take place after the European Elections in June and the Association looks forward to taking the fight against the failed Labour Government forward with whoever is selected at that."

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Last Chance to Register

For those of you still deciding whether or not to come along to the Open Primary, don't forget that you will need to register by midnight tonight if you want to attend.

Any resident of the constituency who is on the electoral roll, and over 18, can register to attend.

Come along and have your say.

Forms can be downloaded from here, and can be e-mailed to, or alternatively printed out and posted through the door of 115 Ashfield Street, Whitechapel.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Mayor's Question Time

Last night I attended the People's Question Time event at York Hall, where the public had an opportunity to ask questions of the Mayor, and also of the GLA members.

The event covered a range of topics from crime, housing, the environment, to transport and then a general session at the end to cover everything else.

The event was chaired by John Biggs, the Labour GLA member for City & East. After a somewhat rocky start the event got under way properly: a man wearing a flipper on his hand (don't ask - I didn't understand it either) kept interrupting and had to be ejected from the hall.

Whilst it was a good opportunity to allow questions from the public, there were some organisational issues. The public questions submitted in advance, there was no notification as to whether your question was selected, and due to John's eyesight there seemed to be hardly any questions from the back of the hall.

The Mayor did a good job to explain what he has done, and what he is planning to do in the future, to ensure that London is safe and clean, and that the Olympics bring positive impact to small business and large.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sir Fred's Pension

The Government though Harriet Harman MP today have announced that they will prevent Sir Fred from receiving his massive pension payout. This strikes me as a bit late. Harriet Harman said that:
"It might be enforceable in a Court of law, but it is not enforceable in public opinion."

That may be right, but Labour incompetently failed to act when they could. It is inconceivable that lawyers were not consulted when the initial agreement was made. If they weren't, it seems negligent not to have checked whether something was contractual or discretionary.

It is Gordon Brown's friend, Lord Myners, that had that conversation, and it is Labour that should be held accountable. If they had acted sensibly and pragmatically at the time, then it would in all likelihood not be enforceable in a Court of law.

This is yet another example of Labour acting irresponsibly and exacerbating this financial crisis.

UPDATE 2/3/2009 3.20pm:
I have now managed to get the quote that worried me even more:
"The Prime Minsiter has said it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted." What a horrifying thought and seems to conflate public opinion and Gordon Brown's pronouncement. It is not wrong because Gordon Brown says it is wrong, but becuase it is a reward for failure, and could and should have been stopped.

Publicising the Open Primary

This weekend, the three finalists for the local primary have been out and about delivering leaflets to tell residents about the forthcoming Open Primary. We were out in Bethnal Green on Saturday, and out in Bow this afternoon.

Those residents we have spoken to have been really positive about the event, and delighted to have the chance to have their say.

Registration is due by Sunday 8th March. Details are on

Have Your Say on the Olympic Legacy

You still have time to have your say on the Olympic Legacy which affects the five host boroughs including Tower Hamlets. The four remaining events are as follows:

* Stratford Shopping Centre - Monday, 2 March 2009
* East Ham Leisure Centre - Wednesday, 4 March 2009
* GLA City Hall - Saturday, 7 March 2009
* Brent Cross Shopping Centre - Sunday, 8 March 2009

Details are here.

It is absolutely vital that the Olympics in 2012 create a lasting legacy, which improves the lives of everyone in Tower Hamlets, particularly through the provision of jobs, eductation and a community environment that locals are involved in and consulted on.

I wait to see how successful this is, hopefully with Boris in place, the powers that be will start listening. The work so far from this Labour Government, Labour Council, and from Ken Livingstone, is that 3% of jobs on the Olympic site are being undertaken by local residents. This is woefully inadequate.