Emma Dunsire gives a New Year update
The consultation period for the Super Sewer is almost finished. True, we have been given a token extension. “Token” because it only covers the Christmas holiday, when everybody is either away or looking after their kids off from school and is impossible to organise meetings and reach out to people. So we have to ask ourselves whether this consultation process has been fair and honest.
Most people in Wapping and Shadwell have not heard of the build and the proposed plan for their local park, King Edward VII Memorial Park. The leaflets sent in the post looked too much like junk mail and many people did not take notice.
Thames Water did not feel it was necessary to do the decent thing and approach the communities directly. No presentations were made in either Wapping or Shadwell apart from those couple given in private residential blocks.
In addition to this, the material was presented in English only with a mere couple of lines in other languages telling the reader that a translation could be made available online. The problem is, of course, that many among the Muslim community in our neighbourhood are not computer literate and this would have been lost on them.
But this is not the only reason this process was so unsuccessful. Too much of the little information given was contradictory. At their presentation at Free Trade Wharf, Thames Water representatives assured the residents that they would do their best to take all spoil from the site by river in barges. And yet, at their presentation at the Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre (which is mainly a centre for water sports and activities) they claimed the exact opposite: the spoil will be taken by road. This is only one of many examples.
Adjusting presentation according to the audience just won’t do. There is an evident lack of transparency and this must vitiate the whole consultation process. At the last consultation meeting at City Hall when I asked the person in charge of Communication for Thames Water: “Do you feel this consultation was conducted fairly? Why did you not approach Wapping and Shadwell community directly? Why wasn’t the material available in other languages like Bengali and Urdu from the start?” I did not receive any answer and was told that sorry, but they had to close for the day.
Once again I invite the community to get involved, fill in the written questionnaires (Thames Water website DOES NOT WORK) and sign our petition.