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Archive for October 6th, 2011

Jim Fitzpatrick is outraged by a new plan to stage all night Christmas parties on the site of a national monument to those who lost their lives at sea during the two world wars.

He has made a formal complaint to Tower Hamlets Council about an application by caterers Moving Venue to erect marquees on Trinity Square Gardens, near the Tower of London, during the forthcoming office party season.

Trinity Square Gardens were created by Act of Parliament in 1797 and restored in 2003. They are managed by the council, the Corporation of London and significantly, the War Graves Commission. They contain memorials inscribed with the names of hundreds of merchant seafarers, a large number of them Bengali lascars, who were killed while serving and supplying this country.

Moving Venue, it seems, wants to use the beautiful space to let bankers and other City workers booze away their bonuses while overlooking the Tower.

Their application seeks permission for alcohol and music entertainment during the hours of 11am to 1am  from November 22 to December 17.

Having been contacted by furious boss of Trinity House, which overlooks the square, Jim, who is the MP for the area, wrote the following letter to the council:

I have been contacted by Rear Admiral Sir Jeremy de Halpert who is Deputy Master of Trinity House, Tower Hill, regarding a proposal to allow licensed entertainment in Trinity Square Gardens at Tower Hill, adjacent to the National War Memorials.  The memorials are of particular note as they are dedicated to those members of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who lost their lives in the two world wars and have no known grave.  They are thus the maritime equivalent of, among other sites, the Menin Gate in Flanders.

You will, of course, have all the details relating to this matter, but I would like to emphasise how very inappropriate the proposals are to this area.  I echo Sir Jeremy’s sentiments in saying that the park includes two major National War Memorials two other significant memorials.  Such a site of entertainment would impact on the dignity of the memorials and the respect due those that are remembered there.  The marquee will dominate this very small park and deny the public access to one of the few open green spaces in this area.  The site is adjacent to residential properties within the City of London and the venue will impact on the residents.  The park is a Conservation Area and the erection of a marquee will impact on the bio-diversity of the area and on its scenic value, especially at a time when many visitors come to London in the run up to Christmas.  The proposed use is at odds with nearly all the Council’s own approved plans for the park.

Along with Sir Jeremy, I wish to register my own objection to this proposal.  I understand the cut-off date is 12 October.  Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

And this is how the rather officious licensing officer at the council responded:

Thank you for your email. I acknowledge and appreciate the concerns you have raised in relation to Trinity Square Gardens. 

Unfortunately, under the Licensing Act 2003 your email is not considered to be a valid representation. In order for your representation to be valid, you must make it clear how granting this particular application will have an impact on you only in relation to one or more of the following licensing objectives:
–         the prevention of crime and disorder
–         the prevention of public nuisance
–         public safety
–         the protection of children from harm

Under the above Act, for your representation to be valid, you must be one of the following:

–         a person living in the vicinity of the premises
–         a body representing persons living in the vicinity of the premises (i.e. residents association etc)
–         a person involved in business in the vicinity of the premises
–         a body representing persons involved in business in the vicinity of the premises
–         a responsible authority (i.e. Police, Environmental Protection etc)
–         a Ward Councillor

Also, please be advised that we require the full address of anyone making a representation. If you wish to represent an interested party, we would need to know their details.

This, quite understandably, has further upset Jim, who today wrote the following letter back to the council: 

I am writing to complain in the strongest possible terms that my representation against an ‘Entertainment Licence’ being granted on the site of Trinity Square Garden, which contains the National War Memorials, has been declared by you as, ‘…not considered to be a valid representation.’

Over 20,000 sailors’ names are recorded at the memorials.  For many, this is their only grave, as they died at sea.  Licensing entertainment and alcohol sales in the park is wholly inappropriate, and I believe my representation SHOULD be considered valid – not rejected out of hand by you.

I am copying this complaint to the Mayor’s Office, as well as to the Leaders of the Labour, Conservative and Lib-Dem Groups on the Council, and the press.

I full recognise procedures need to be observed, but your total disregard for the significance of this site as a national war grave is hugely disappointing.

I’ve called Moving Venue to see if they intend pressing ahead with their silly plan but I’ve yet to get a response.

However, I suspect their application has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of getting through the Tower Hamlets licensing committee.

UPDATE – Saturday, Oct 8

I’ve written an article on this for the Sunday Express tomorrow – more comments from Merchant Navy veterans. The managing director of Moving Venue, Richard Beggs, also told me he’d been working with Tower Hamlets Council for six months on this idea and that he had agreed a significant rental fee for “Britain’s poorest borough”.

He also said he was hoping to have lunch soon with Lutfur Rahman about the issue. Given the likely fallout from this idea, Lutfur might want to do what he did last time he was invited to Trinity Square Gardens….ie not turn up.

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