Public Meeting at St Paul’s Shadwell
On 12th January 2012, residents of Wapping, Shadwell, Stepney and Limehouse packed St Paul’s Church Hall to the rafters for a chance to tell Thames Water that their Super Sewer plans for their beloved King Edward VII Memorial Park are a NO GO.
The utility company had organised a public meeting, chaired by local MP Jim Fitzpatrick, to present what they call their preferred option for their super sewer works in Tower Hamlets. Phil Stride of Thames Water presented the company’s plans. But our Chairman, Carl Dunsire, also explained the plans. Being a civil engineer, he was able to tell the residents exactly what the impact of the works would be and debunk Thames Water’s claims that their work would not destroy the only park left in their area.
Carl also presented the alternative plan to use a brownfield site just yards from the park instead of ruining KEMP, the Heckford Trading Estate. He acknowledged that some works would still take place within the park boundaries but showed how these would be minimal and how the park could be returned to the present state unlike in the case of extensive works on the foreshore.
LBTH Cllr Alibor Choudhury pleaded with Thames Water to see sense and drop the foreshore option and told the company that: “The community and the Council, which I am here to represent, will have none of that.” He also urged Thames Water to act with more transparency.
Most of the meeting was dedicated to Q&A but many questions were left unanswered and some residents were left very frustrated by Mr Stride’s evasion tactics. Here are some of the most poignant questions and statements from the residents:
“I use the Park very frequently and have lived in Shadwell for 20 years. This is the most densely populated borough in all of Europe. We have buildings where we used to have parks. We are always promised access to the foreshore and then can’t have it. We have had years and years of diminishing access. It sounds to me as though this consultation is a legalistic thing you have to do. What will it take for you to listen? We in Tower Hamlets want you to use a brownfield site, not a precious rare resource.”
“It’s very clear that no one wants the work to be in the Park. Why are you, TW, fighting it? You have laid out the reasons that you don’t support the second option but they don’t seem to be real reasons. It’s not quadrupling the budget or taking more time. There will be two sites but I don’t think traffic will be a problem. It’s obvious that we need to clean up the river but why don’t you say that the Park is off the table now when you have other options?”
Many thanks to Ed Dix, the curate of St Paul’s, for hosting the event. Our thanks also go to photographers Vickie Flores and Mark Baynes and our deepest gratitude goes to our wonderful community for taking part and for supporting us. Read the meeting notes here