A small victory last Friday but the battle is not yet won. As previously reported as a last resort Christine Trumper of Community Solutions obtained a court injunction to stop the Council from changing the locks at 15 Chandler Street and exclude Christine and her team (and LW) from the building.
We can report that there was a noticeable absence of locksmiths in Chandler Street on Friday. We sent our Wildlife Rangers (Urban Locksmiths Branch) on special patrol just to make sure.
The injunction obtained was stuck to the front door of the building and LW and numerous others waited to see what would happen but nothing did. Which was good.
What happens next is another question although it is hoped commensense will prevail.
On a more positive note…
Many thanks to Cllr. Andrew Wood (Conservative, Canary Wharf), Cllr. Peter Golds (Conservative, Island Gardens) and team, the Liberal Democrats Stephen O’Shea and friends and of course Wapping volunteers working in Chandler Street who gathered in the entrance lobby just in case any locksmiths did turn up.
And as you can see we did have tea and chocolate biscuits!
LW would also like to thank a very kind (and capable) barrister who lives in Wapping with his family who has agreed to work on this issue ‘pro bono’ (free). We will be giving this person a huge amount of free publicity when he lets us know it is ok to identify him.
It also seems that there may be other groups in Tower Hamlets who have had a similar experience of the Council’s odd approach to Community Involvement and may be considering joining in the battle.
Which could be interesting.
Funny but sad funny
It would be comical if it were not tragic that at the same time that Tower Hamlets residents have to resort to legal means to stop the Council acting unreasonably the very same Council is touting its draft ’Statement of Community Involvement’.
Apparently “the Statement of Community Involvement sets out how you can get involved in the planning of your local area.”
“Communities lead the way”
Here’s the introduction to the Statement of Principles section (para 2.1).
“Tower Hamlets Borough Council are committed to engaging with local people, organisations and businesses on all aspects of our work and services. Our commitments to engage are set out in the Community Engagement Strategy 2018-2021, which sets out four priority outcomes:
- Communities lead the way in making Tower Hamlets a great place to live
- Communities have the power to influence issues that affect them
- Activities to involve communities are focused and purposeful
- Tower Hamlets is digitally active”
Seriously. We are not making this up.
Engagement so early it never actually happened
To reduce our rapidly rising blood pressure we will only highlight one more sentence in this document:
“Early engagement. Consultation will take place as early as possible in the development of new proposals to allow the community to help shape planning in Tower Hamlets. Early engagement will also help to avoid delays in the planning
process caused by important or unexpected comments being raised at a late stage of the process.”
Raine House planning update
Compare and contrast this marketing waffle with the reality which the below letter to Wapping residents shows.
Because there has never been a proper consultation regarding Raine House – indeed it should have been a consultation about the issue of all Council owned community spaces in Wapping – the Council’s own members refused it’s own planning application.
Wapping residents were just presented with a fair accompli costing £1.3m which we were supposed to agree to without question. The Council got that so wrong. And needless to say Moley is still digging away to discover exactly why that decision was made and by whom. For some reason it seems very tricky to find out.
Notice the sentence we have highlighted in red. Seems that despite completely messing this whole process up from the start the Council is still intent on doing exactly what it originally intended. Oops.
This latest planning application for Raine House (Reference numbers PA/18/02994 and PA/18/02995) is to be heard on 20th December. Sounds like an ideal time for a mass Christmas visit to the Development Committee! Yo ho ho!
We do not know how much the work itemised in the letter will cost but we will report back when we do.
Read it and weep
We do encourage all Tower Hamlets residents to read the ’Statement of Community Involvement’ document just to see how far removed it is from what the Council does in practice.