Just last week an article in The Daily Mail covered the story of how one small business in Walthamstow was taken to court for giving away a cardboard box, at the cost of £15,000 to local taxpayers. Electrosigns in Walthamstow was brought to court under environmental protection laws after one cardboard box given to a customer eventually ended up on a fly-tipping site.
Whilst the judge called for common sense and threw out the case, deeming Waltham Forest Council’s actions a ‘monumental waste of public money’, Cllr Clyde Loakes said the eventual acquittal was a ‘disappointing result’ citing the Council’s drive to ‘wipe out environmental crime’ in the borough.
Compare this action by the Council to their recent record in protecting an extremely valuable environment within their jurisdiction, one uniquely precious for wildlife, which has protected status and is part of London’s ever shrinking green lung – Walthamstow and Leyton Marshes.
Last night, Waltham Forest Council’s planning committee voted through the LVRPA’s current development plans for our marshes. These plans will entail turning yet more of our marshes into a construction site, fencing local people out and churning out human and animal waste in places increasingly important for our dwindling wildlife populations. The plans come just over a year since the Council gave permission for the hugely destructive ‘temporary’ basketball court on Leyton Marsh which entailed the excavation of hazardous waste, including asbestos and ended with a botched ‘reinstatement’ whereby concrete and plastic were laid underneath a monoculture turf, where once there was an abundance of wildflowers. That turf is now brown and dying, in places completely dry and dead.
The plans to turn the former golf course, which it was promised would be returned to use after the Olympics, into a campsite and trailer park for tents, caravans and motorhomes was passed narrowly, by one vote, just like the basketball training court application. Three councillors voted for and three voted against giving approval to the campsite/ trailer park plans, whilst Cllr. Karen Bellamy abstained. The decision was therefore made by the chair, Peter Barnett who is completely hostile to our campaign and hasn’t let politenness prevent him from telling members of SLM to shut up on more than one occasion at planning committee meetings, including last night; this time when one of our members attempted to correct Cllr Jenny Gray, who, despite stating she had never been to the site in question, claimed walkers were unable to walk through the golf course anyway.
The Labour councillors and the chair did not appreciate the fact that Metropolitan Open Land has protected status by very virtue of its openness. Barnett claimed that Metropolitan Open Land was not about access and openness but instead about ‘leisure’. The construction of toilet and shower blocks on this presently open green land was deemed acceptable by the majority of the Labour councillors.
Regarding the extension of the stables on Leyton Marshes for commercial livery purposes (a plan known by campaigners as ‘the horse hotel’), only Cllr Alan Siggers voted against the plans whilst all the other six councillors voted for.
The Chair opened the discussion, strongly supporting the application. Cllr Siggers recalled that there were nine previous planning applications that permitted the development and creeping enlargement of the built facilities at site. The Chair exhibited extraordinary deference to the applicants, the LVRPA, who were permitted an additional speaker and questions from the committee; not privileges our speakers were privy to.
Unfortunately in a manner reminiscent of last year’s cheap PR citing the fact disabled people would play at the criminally under-used basketball training facility, the LVRPA cynically presented their plans as to the benefit of disabled riders. This is despite the fact the plans have nothing to do with the riding facilities on offer and are simply an attempt to make money from owners wishing to stable additional horses at an already overcrowded site, where horses have less than the recommended access to outside space – less than 0.07ha per horse.