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Council apology over Forest Gate’s Spotted Dog campaigners’ claim

Residents voting on the future of the Spotted Dog in Durning Hall, Forest Gate, Picture: John Munday Residents voting on the future of the Spotted Dog in Durning Hall, Forest Gate, Picture: John Munday

Saturday, October 13, 2012
5:00 PM

Campaign group Save the Old Spotted Dog say they were told to stop leafleting outside Forest Gate station, prompting an apology from Newham Council.

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Members wanting to preserve the Grade II listed pub in Upton Lane allege they were handing out A5 leaflets to passersby advertising a meeting at Durning Hall when a council enforcement officer told them to move on as they were not in a ‘designated area’.

Campaigners claim the officer could not clarify what constituted a ‘designated area’ and wrote to Newham Council about the incident.

Christine Lyons, a planning enforcement manager, replied in a letter which the group posted on their campaign blog www.savetheoldspotteddog.wordpress.com: “I understand there was an issue prior to this public meeting which left you and your group unhappy with the actions of this Council.

“It would seem that your campaigners were leafleting outside Forest Gate Station and received advice from the ‘law enforcement officer’ that you were to cease this activity immediately.

“I am unsure as to the reasoning behind this request but have been informed that this advice was incorrect.”

Ms Lyons said she spoke to the enforcement officer’s manager who apologised and the letter expressed support for the campaign to restore the 16th century pub - the oldest secular building in Newham - whose future is uncertain.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Ben Hull, from the council’s planning department, attended the meeting along with around 70 concerned campaigners.

Mark McGlunn, chair of the meeting, said: “We were looking for inspiration and reassurances from the council and the people there.

“Lyn Brown was very inspirational, everything we asked of her she said she’d try to do, and she came off like a breath of fresh air.”

Some members of the audience wanted to see the Spotted Dog Inn restored and reopened as a family pub and Mark pointed to the recent revamp of the Red Lion in Leytonstone as an example.

Others want it to be preserved as a heritage site or even turned into a permanent museum documenting the history of the area.

Mark said: “The thing the members of the campaign have in common is that we want to save the building and re-open it to the community.”

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