Letters to the editor 04/08/16

(04 August, 2016)

This week's top letters include: why the Odessa Street crane must be saved, and Bakerloo Line expansion along Old Kent Road

We must keep our heritage

I am writing to comment on your recent article re the Odessa Street Red Crane.

I understand you have to give both sides of the story, but this must mean the whole story, not ‘soundbites’ that distort the truth.

I refer to two points in particular, the first regarding the Red Crane itself.

They [Hollybrook] say it is a ‘Health and Safety Hazard’ but if this was so, the council would (and should) have acted long before now to correct the situation, regardless of the availability of funds, as peoples lives would have been at stake!

As for the ‘viability’ of saving it, it is the last Crane of it’s type in London and MUST be saved – another smack in the face of our forefathers who made the area what it is today – a community that cares for each other.

Secondly, their convenient deflection of the loss of a FREE playspace for local children, citing that there are facilities available at the Docklands Settlement – at £50 per hour!!

There is an ongoing issue with childhood obesity, and yet we are to accept that a play area that helps to keep our children healthy can be taken away for profit – I don’t think so!!

I understand the need for new social housing, but we must keep our heritage as well.

Andy Gibson, Rotherhithe


What about opting for no tube stations for Old Kent Road?

Many thanks for coverage in recent months raising the Old Kent Road’s history and the opportunities for redevelopment for this ‘highway to Europe’ which passes 100 metres from my front door.

As I know from my experiences as a local resident, worker in the voluntary sector and councillor consultation is a very challenging process.

Capturing the very diverse views of existing residents, businesses as well as commuters from further afield and turning them into a coherent vision for a future which is many years away is very difficult.

Short term political and economic considerations often prevail alongside the selfish (what can I get out of it for me) views. Expert officers and elected members rarely get the process correct and sadly Southwark Council is no exception in this instance.

What has been going on these past months has not been consultation but a series of meetings at which people have been informed of what is required and what has to be done according to a pre-determined and half-baked ‘vision’ of the future. What consultation should involve is engaging as many people as possible, listening carefully to their hopes and ideas and then giving clear and straightforward feedback on what might – or might not – be done. It involves building trust and mutuality – doing things with rather than to people.

I suggest an alternative option to the one being promoted by the Council.

That there are no tube stations built on the Old Kent Road and that a cheaper tram route and improved bus services are explored, that the area is not designated as a part of Central London, that 5000 new homes – all Council – are built (we have enough of the other unaffordable ones in the area already), that the needs and potential of existing businesses are clarified and built upon (it was clear from a recent meeting that many had not been contacted), that there is an urgent audit of open spaces and heritage and community assets. The Council needs to build on the people assets that already exist rather than create blight and uncertainty.

I accept this is challenging but we clearly live in uncertain economic and political times and I am hopeful that alternative ways of doing economics and politics will emerge soon to replace the completely unsustainable models that currently prevail.

Don’t we all want a planet and an affordable and vibrant neighbourhoods for our children and grandchildren to live in?

Stephen Lancashire, Walworth



Rise up in the (theatre) world

Two Hundred?Londoners take to a pop-up stage for the Old Vic Community Company’s production Rise at Waterloo Millennium Green (August 10-21) and volunteers are needed.

Through music and movement Rise tells the story of living in a city where the temperature is rising.

All tickets are free, and many are now sold out, but there might be a way to get to see the show as the production team are looking for volunteer stewards for Front of House during performances.

If you know anyone interested in helping out, please ask them to email me community@oldvictheatre.com

Any help will be greatly appreciated, volunteers do not need to be available for every performance.

Emily Bray, RISE Company Manager, The Old Vic, Waterloo


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