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Legacy Launch..... Wherefore art thou community?

Dear Diary

Went to the Legacy Launch at Stratford Circus on 29th February. Felt a bit out of place as the room was full of besuited people, known as stakeholders. The meeting was addressed by the Mayor of Newham, Mr Armitt of the ODA, Mr Russell from the LDA, Mr Prior, the masterplanner, Kees Christiaanse from Rotterdam, Ade Ayepitan, paralympic athlete and a journalist who was chairing, whose name escapes me.

Speeches were cultlike in their endless repetition of the wonders anticipated from the Legacy. Words like ‘diversity’, ‘sustainability’, ‘stakeholders’, 'largest park', 'largest building project' and ‘local needs and requirements’ littered the addresses. It was like a condensed compulsory purchase inquiry presentation. My head was seriously distressed.

Half an hour had been allocated to Q&A but this was cut back to twenty minutes. Decided to make an intervention and stuck up my hand. Tried to point out how the failures in their relocation programme did not bode well for the great plan. Found myself repeating phrases like ‘destruction of Clays Lane community’, ‘waterlogged allotments’, ‘loss of parks’, ‘claim of 9000 new homes is rubbish’ and ‘Dreamland! You’re living in a dreamland.!’ This didn’t go down too well. Got some support from the gallery.

Mr Prior said he knew me well from the Compulsory Purchase Inquiry and even before. Poor him! Yes, he said, there was a debate about the number of new homes that would be created from the Athletes’ Village but there would be 9000 new homes at the end of it all.

Mr Armitt got upset and said the allotments only involved a very small number or people and plainly I just wanted the whole thing to fail. I had to shout back, as I no longer had the microphone, that this was just insulting! It was about what they did and how. He told me to shut up, I had had my say. I pointed out, so had he. A bit more support from the gallery.

The journalist declared himself satisfied the budget had gone up four times as this meant more money would be spent on the project. Didn't seem to understand there was no connection between the two. Costs had gone up but outcomes were the same or worse. He then launched into a historical lesson saying the Victorians just chucked people out on the street without any compensation and don’t we admire their railways!

Following this rather unpleasant comment the assembled audience was invited to applaud the speakers which they dutifully did.

Decided to attend a workshop on creating a new town. A certain amount of discussion about vistas, grand Parisian sites, La Defence and a development in the port area of Hamburg, which I know nothing about. Another person, who had smuggled herself into the select gathering, referred to her local pub, the Wellington, which she hoped would be preserved.

I made some reference to community and how I thought our experience at Clays Lane had been much better than the usual lack of social contact. Of course, I said it may be people don’t want to know their neighbours!

The journalist then summed up with what he called a bombshell. He said in this age of mobiles and virtual communities people didn’t necessarily want to know their immediate neighbours. Not much of a bombshell as I had just said this might be the case. Anyway it looked like views and vistas were going to be the main criteria for town building.

Went home feeling extremely depressed.


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