The Council of Mosques’ Letter to Thames Water
Below we copy the letter written in support of SaveKEMP by Tower Hamlets’ Council of Mosques. We thank Hanif Osmani and Hamzah Foreman for their help and for inviting our Chairman to speak at the Council’s AGM.
“We are writing in response to the public consultation on the Thames Tideway Tunnel plans for the Foreshore site at King Edward VII Memorial Park.
The Council of Mosques represents 70,000 Muslims in Tower Hamlets. Our aims as a charitable organisation are to promote religious and racial harmony for the benefit of the community. We work closely with the Tower Hamlets community and we understand the importance of green spaces, especially in an overcrowded Borough such as ours.
The Council was shocked to discover that King Edward VII Memorial Park has been earmarked as a construction site for Thames Water’s Tideway Tunnel. King Edward VII Memorial Park is one of the key places in our Borough where people from all faiths and all walks of life come together. The Park is well used by a number of organisations, youth groups, schools and charities with which we collaborate. The Council therefore regards this particular park a vital and irreplaceable asset for our community.
We do not believe that a language line advertised by a brief paragraph on a multi-language leaflet is an adequate effort on your part to engage with the whole Tower Hamlets community. We note that no effort has been made on your part to actively engage with local Mosques or Muslim Centres in the vicinity of the park and believe that no effort has been made on your part to consult with the charities and organisations that use the park on a regular basis. We are dismayed at the lack of translated material and translators at your events. We therefore consider this consultation deeply flawed and inadequate.
Having looked at the relevant documentation provided by Thames Water, the Council is convinced that the preferred option put forward by your company would irreparably damage the park and would cause an unnecessarily profound impact on the community. Tower Hamlets cannot cope with loss of amenities for the duration of your works. The football pitch and other sports areas would be greatly disrupted thus interfering, if not altogether impeding, important activities for the well-being of local teenagers. Similarly the playground will be removed and replaced in the lawned area. We view this as a token gesture as it is highly unlikely mothers and fathers will be willing to take their infants and toddlers so close to a major building site. The repositioning of the playground will also encroach on the already much diminished grassed area. A sizable slice of green will be taken away by your work site and moving the playground will reduce the lawn area even more. In the unlikely case that the space left for the community would still be usable, there simply won’t be enough space to accommodate everyone’s needs and activities. We do not concur with your claims that the park would be usable during construction as it is obvious that its appeal would be greatly diminished.
We urge you to reconsider your “preferred” foreshore plans and utilise the alternative “brownfield site”, the Heckford Industrial Estate option. This option would save most of the park and the area that would be disrupted (which is mainly paved) could be easily put back to its original state. The Council especially welcomes that the Heckford option would have no impact on the amenities of the Park and would therefore allow our organisations, young people and families to carry on their activities as usual. We also welcome the fact that the brownfield option means that the vents left in the park would be minimal, could be easily disguised on or very close to the perimeter of the park adjacent to the heavily trafficked Highway and would have no direct connection with the main Tideway Tunnel.
We trust that the strength of feelings in Tower Hamlets and the forceful objections of our community will persuade Thames Water to do the right thing and abandon their ill-devised plans for King Edward VII Memorial Park’s foreshore.
Hafiz Mawlana Shamsul Hoque
Chair of the Council of Mosques – Tower Hamlets