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Archive for January 31st, 2011

You can blame this blog and all the evil poison emanating from it on Victoria Park. Vicky Park was the reason I moved to Bow nine years ago: I was living in Crouch End before that and used to play football in VP every Saturday afternoon. They were, and probably still are, the best park pitches in London by a mile.

The park itself is the capital’s best as well, in my view. The light, particularly on days like today with sharp sunshine and long shadows, is fabulous there; the park’s atmosphere also strikes just the right balance between activity and nature at peace.

Overall, over the years, the council has looked after the East End’s gem brilliantly and when the airshots of the Olympic Park and its environs are beamed around the world next year, we will be proud, I’m sure.

However, also over those years, I’ve raised several concerns, many of which the council, to be fair, has listened to. In 2006, I wrote in the East London Advertiser about how it was simply wrong that several deer were being kept in a pen barely the size of a football pitch. Soon after, some of those deer were removed to a wildlife sanctuary in Scotland. The rest have also now left and are, according to council notices, currently living in another sanctuary near Stansted.

In 2008, I wrote about the two alcoves from the previous London Bridge that were placed in the park after it was demolished in 1831. Three years ago, they were filthy, covered in graffiti and almost completely unheralded to the passing walker.

Within weeks of that article, the council engaged a specialist cleaner and they were given some much-needed TLC.

Sadly, however, possibly because there are still no real signs are proper plaques describing their significance, they are again being treated with contempt. This is what they looked like today:

The council has promised to say when they will be cleaned.

However, there are a couple of other things that have been a bit of a worry. I’ve written before about the exploitation of the park for summer music festivals and I think that argument has now been won.

I’m now hearing that common sense has prevailed on another issue. Regular visitors will know that there is a massive building project currently underway in the park. It is all part of £12.5million Heritage Lottery Grant scheme that is due for completion for the Olympics.

The lake in the western park will be revamped over the next couple of months, while over on the eastern side, there will be a new complex for a park rangers’ office block, a community hall and a booze-free cafeteria.

 

There will also be a new skateboard park on the site of the children’s playground. But what was also being proposed was an “urban beach”, ie a giant sandpit that would have been a haven for not much more than urban dog excrement.

However, I was told by a park worker today that the element of the plan is to be dropped exactly because of those health and safety concerns. I’m awaiting confirmation from the council, but if true, then that’s another welcome move.

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Lutfur on the BBC

The Politics Show on BBC London yesterday featured two stars of the East End, George Galloway and Lutfur Rahman. While the former Respect MP was invited to talk about phone hacking at the News of the World (police have told him his number was on a list compiled by a private detective), the Tower Hamlets mayor appeared in a section about the Government’s transparency drive to make councils publish all payments of more than £500.

You can see it on the BBC iPlayer here until next Saturday. George’s bit starts at 39mins and 15secs; the segment with Lutfur begins its introduction at 48minutes in.

Lutfur is seen alongside Tory Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, who is a non-ministerial aide to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. While Lutfur (or ‘Luther’, as Hammond calls him at one point) welcomes the transparency policy, he also moans that it is adding to his council’s workload. He says officers have already spent more than 100 hours preparing the data, to which my response is “boo hoo”. I’ve no doubt at all that while there could and should be some improvements to the quality of the data provided, the policy itself is a good one and it will force councils to spend money more wisely.

Judge his performance for yourself.

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