The letter above is a response by the Chief Executive Shaun Dawson to a number of questions put by SLM member Abi at the last LVRPA Executive Meeting in April regarding Leyton Marsh reinstatement, stables provision and extension, change of use of the golf course and the general approach the Authority have to managing our M.O.L.
I’m afraid there are no prizes for guessing where the site of the ‘temporary’ basketball court was in these pictures of Leyton Marsh, taken 8 months after the date it was ‘restored to its original condition’ by the ODA:
Hackney Council has failed to respond to a request for details of the full costs to the borough of hosting the Radio One Hackney Weekend last June – and the matter is now being pursued by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The Council has been claiming that “Major events also generate income, which can be reinvested into the borough’s parks, and helps support upkeep and improvement works in green spaces.” Having recently held an ‘informal consultation’ on future similar major events on Hackney Marshes, there was a striking lack of detailed information about financial or any other arrangements, and Hackney appears willing to ignore the law in order to keep important facts hidden.
Prior to last year’s event the spin was that “Radio 1′s Hackney Weekend 2012 event is funded by the BBC Licence Fee” - but previous Radio 1 Weekends have turned out to have been heavily subsided by local authorities. Last year’s event is already known to have cost the Borough £190,000 in repairs to the Marsh – this alone would be more than the rent received for any similar sized commercial event.
In 2009 the Radio 1 Weekend cost Swindon £400,000 – if Hackney’s costs are similar, every household in the borough will have been forced to pay £4 to bankroll the 2-day event which left sports pitches ruined and locked regular users out of the Marshes for a month, contrary to assurances made to the Planning Inspectorate.
The 20 working day limit by which they should lawfully have responded expired several weeks ago without explanation for a delay. Hackney has had a number of Decision Notices issued against it by the Information Commissioner for its delays in releasing information and other breaches of regulations.
A further information request, for evidence to support the claim that 30,000 Hackney residents attended the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, has also received no response. How this remarkably round number was arrived at remains a mystery, as it had been promised that 50% of the 100,000 tickets claimed to have been issued were reserved for Hackney residents.
At Marsh Lane, Leyton E10, the hundreds of kids and parents going daily to and from the newly-built Lammas School currently have the advantage of a dedicated pedestrian-only bridge over the Dagenham Brook. This leaves the parallel roadway bridge clear for cyclists and the few cars that access the three cottages on the eastern section of Marsh Lane.
In adjacent photograph you can see pupils and adults making good use of the bridge, and the photo above shows the end of the school afternoon as the kids stream homewards up Marsh Lane having walked across the pedestrian bridge.
Waltham Forest Council want to change all that, and put the pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle traffic back together on one new replacement bridge. To this end they will demolish both existing crossings.
Nobody has asked for this, it has been foisted on the community as the flagship project that will turn the former Marsh Lane Fields into a ‘Park’. Disastrously, this is yet more low-level encroachment of a formerly green open space running the risk of inviting more so-called development later on.
A contract for this work has been let and began on Monday 30th April. The work will involve the excavation of 110 tonnes of soil from the adjoining area. The programme of works has not yet been issued, but the Council’s Highways Department has already provided for Marsh Lane to be closed during the works.
A Council spokesperson has admitted that the access needs of the schools during the closures – including not only Lammas School but also St Joseph Nursery, St Joseph Infants and the Willowbrook Primary – have not yet been worked out. The Council has a choice: do the works now and disturb the schools’ summer terms, or do the works later on and block access to the Marsh Lane Fields (unilaterally renamed ‘Leyton Jubilee Park’) during the school summer holidays.
The spokesperson for the Council has further admitted that they don’t know why the three properties in Marsh Lane were not consulted in the first place about the proposed bridge works.
They also plan to wastefully demolish the set of steps shown above, which were installed, together with a bench, as recently as July 2012. The associated shrubbery planted at the time has been sadly neglected and much of it has dried up, as if wanting to be pulled up and destroyed.
All this is going to cost £250,000, and yet the Council has recently made hundreds of its employees redundant, and runs its vital services, where it has not closed them, on extremely tight staffing levels.
What would you rather see £250,000 spent on in Waltham Forest? Tweet your ideas @LeytonMarsh!
Below is the text of the letter that Sports England sent to Hackney Council on 11 April 2013 declaring their united opposition to the Council’s proposals for Hackney Marshes:
3rd Floor, Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4SE
Creating a sporting habit for life
Mr I Holland
Head of Leisure & Green Spaces
London Borough of Hackney
Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
London E8 1DY
Hackney Marshes – Public Consultation
Thank-you for your letter and opportunity to respond to the Council on this important public consultation.
Having considered the contents of your letter and the summary of the Council’s proposals, Sport England and the relevant National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) are strongly opposed to the plans to hold major events on Hackney Marshes.
Sport England, The Football Association (FA), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have jointly invested significant amounts of public funding in the re-development of Hackney Marshes to ensure it continues as a key
sporting site for pitch sports in London. The annual holding of major events is considered a huge risk to the quality and sustainability of the sports pitches and the clubs that use the facilities on a regular basis, threatening the increases in participation that we are all trying
The proposals to hold regular major events on Hackney Marshes were not part of your strategic plans (business and sports development) that Sport England and the NGBs took
into consideration with our investment into the site and we consider the new plans are a
significant risk to the delivery of community sports participation. Access and use of the pitches during the sporting seasons and the recovery periods for the pitches are of particular concern.
We have set out a sport-by sport summary of the objections to the Council’s proposals and the NGB views are fully supported by Sport England:-
The Football Association (The FA) is strongly opposed to any large scale public events on the Hackney Marshes. The FA has indicated both verbally and in writing (since April 2010) that having provided significant investment on the Marshes, both The FA and Football
Foundation (FF) would be opposed to any event(s) that would place the integrity of the pitches at risk.
Unfortunately last year’s festival resulted in significant damage to pitches which in turn, has led to severe disruption for those seeking to enjoy facilities on the Marshes. In total 23 pitches were out of use at the start of the season (which had to be delayed) displacing
teams to Mabley Green, Daubeney Fields and Hackney Downs Fields. Currently, 9 pitches are out of use and will remain closed for the remainder of this season. This situation has resulted in new teams being turned away by the local leagues due to a lack
of available pitches.
This experience has led The FA and The Football Foundation to the conclusion that similar events on the site would significantly harm the wider sporting ambitions on the site. Given that damage to pitches was irreparable in the short-term following just one event, it must be assumed that regular large scale events would cause continuous extensive damage. This, coupled with the lack of any effective measures available to the Council to adequately protect the pitches places the sporting legacy of the site at significant risk.
The ECB is deeply concerned with the plans for future concerts on Hackney Marshes and the impact it will have on cricket at the site. It will have a significant impact on the users if the facilities are out of use for a number of weeks each year for hosting events and the
subsequent reinstatement works. There are no other local facilities that can meet the displaced users as there is currently a large under provision of cricket facilities in the area.
There is no indication as to the size or scale of the proposed events but the potential impact to Cricket, which is a summer sport, stands the most risk of being affected. The development of the Last Man Stands league which is played on the three artificial pitches
on the site and the grass wicket for midweek and Saturday/Sunday play would be severely compromised.
The BBC Radio 1 event in 2012 had a huge impact on the site. The three artificial cricket pitches were destroyed and had to be re-instated by Council at a cost in the region of £30,000. More importantly, no cricket was possible on the site for 6 weeks and the fine turf outfield was compromised by the number of trodden in bottle tops that remained after the clean-up. In excess of 30 games of cricket were lost.
The RFU has worked in partnership with LB Hackney for the last five years to support the development of a sustainable rugby union club and playing programme on Hackney Marshes.
The delivery of the Radio One event has demonstrated a real risk to the continued sustainability of rugby union on the Marshes and any future proposals are strongly resisted by both Old Streetonians RFC and the RFU.
In 2010 a grant of £99,500 was awarded to assist with the development of the Hackney Marshes Centre. The club was successfully relocated from the East Marsh following
development linked to the 2012 Olympic Games. Old Streetonians RFC now play on three pitches at the main Hackney Marshes site. Old Streetonians have entered into a Community Use Agreement for the site which clearly articulates the need for pitch use. As
a result of facility investment, club membership continues to grow. The club is also working to support the development of Shoreditch Sharks who provide a local youth rugby programme with the ultimate aim of them locating onto the same site and providing
the club with a youth and junior section.
The Hackney Marshes site is also utilised by Millwall RFC who access pitches for matches when they experience over capacity at their existing Millwall Park and Victoria Park sites.
With the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in 2015 the RFU is committed to strengthening its member clubs and developing rugby in the local communities that surround them. Clubs
such as Old Streetonians are crucial to this vision.
The RFU has firm evidence from experiences in 2012 that cause concern. On 13 June 2012 the Radio One event construction commenced resulting in large scale damage to the pitches. With the club’s season commencing on 1st September, they were forced to
play all matches away from home until 13 October. All three pitches were not open for use until the 11 November. The potential loss of a third of the rugby season has the potential to cause a terminal effect to the club’s sustainability and neutralise the strong partnerships
and improved facilities that have been delivered to date.
The RFU wants to maximise the potential of the site with the forthcoming Rugby World Cup to grow the game in the local community and seeks a resolution that allows these
strong foundations the chance to grow and develop a true rugby legacy for the next generation. Similar events to that of the Radio One concert threaten the sustainability of rugby union on the Marshes.
I trust that this clearly explains our joint position and we look forward to discussing this in further detail at the next strategic funders meeting on 25 April 2013.
Managing Director, Cricket Partnerships
Sport England England & Wales Cricket Board
Rugby Development Director
The Football Association
Rugby Football Union
Annual Community Procession around Leyton Marshes
Sunday 5th May 2013
Meet from 12.00 noon for lunch, with willow-stripping and dressing,
at the Hare & Hounds pub, 278 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton E10 7LD
(affordably-priced Sunday roasts, light meals & bar snacks are available. Buses 48, 55, 56, 58.158)
or simply gather for the Community Procession at 2.15pm in the
Princess of Wales car park by Lea Bridge, 146 Lea Bridge Road E5 9RB.
Residents of Leyton, Walthamstow and Clapton will again be celebrating the ancient tradition of Beating the Bounds on Rogation Sunday, which in 2013 falls on 5th May.
Once a year, in many parts of Britain, local residents walk around defined areas of land to re-establish ancient rights of common or simply to mark significant boundaries, such as those of a Parish, Village Green or ancient Manor. Before maps existed, this was done so that children and newcomers could have important local landmarks pointed out to them.
Often this custom takes place during Rogationtide, when prayers used to be offered for the fertility of the land and a good harvest. Stripped willow sticks, sometimes bedecked with flowers and ribbons, are usually carried. In some areas, girls have their fingers pricked and boys are beaten with sticks or thrown into hedges (we don’t do this!) or get turned upside-down to have their heads bumped on boundary markers – ‘to imprint the location on their minds’! (This is done, but only with the child’s and carer’s permission).
Modern maps show boundaries, but seldom mark the thousands of Common Lands in Britain which survive from the Middle Ages or before. Even when they do, all too often our precious open spaces suffer encroachment or get built upon. This is a growing threat in Outer London. By carrying on this ancient tradition we hope to encourage people to become more aware of and to care for our ancient green spaces and Lammas Lands.
The perambulation in the afternoon will be along the southern boundary of the Leyton Lammas Lands as they were in 1837, when Queen Victoria came to the throne, before the railway line and the filter beds were built on the marshes. Boundsmen will follow the River Lea, crossing the railway line to pick up the Dagenham Brook which marked the boundary of the original Leyton Levels. The distance is about two miles and the route is not difficult, but does involve several sets of steps so it is unsuitable for heavy baby-buggies, the mobility-impaired or wheelchair users.
Fitter, intrepid and determined Boundsmen may also choose to continue along the more demanding route around the northern boundary of Leyton Marsh in the early evening, after a refreshment break at the Waterworks Visitors’ Centre or the Hare & Hounds.
Please wear stout, sensible footwear and suitable clothing. Please bring water to drink if the weather is warm. Children and well-behaved dogs are very welcome! (Please note that dogs, except guide dogs by arrangement, are not allowed inside the Hare & Hounds as there are two pub cats!)
More information: http://www.lammaslands.co.uk
For information about the Beating the Bounds walk tel: 0790 415 9398
THIS EVENT IS COMPLETELY FREE!
Below are some images of Birbeck Orient FC supporting the campaign to save Hackney Marshes at their warm-up on Sunday! Let’s keep Hackney Marshes, open, green and the home of grassroots football!
Pictures of the protest by SLM and other locals at the Hackney Marshes User centre at the Council drop in on Wednesday can be found on the Images page.
A report of the event can be found on our Press Release page.
We’re asking EVERYONE who can to attend the ‘drop in’ session organised by Hackney Council to liaise with people about their application to the planning inspectorate to host 3 major events on Hackney Marshes every summer.
Date: Wednesday 17th April
Venue: Hackney Marshes User Centre
The drop-in runs from 4-8pm but we will be attending as a united presence at 6pm to present the online petition against the proposals, which has already attracted more than 750 signatures, as well as supplementary paper petitions.
We will have T-shirts on sale on the night in aid of the campaign for £10.