Newham committee meeting marred by protest

Stratford Old Town Hall

Stratford Old Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Frustrated council meeting attendees made defiant speeches and sang protest songs as a decision on the future of the Boleyn Ground was deferred.

On Tuesday, a bustling Old Town Hall in Stratford was told by Cllr Ken Clark, chairman of the strategic development committee, that a revised offer three days previously by developers Boleyn Phoenix Limited meant any decision must be postponed so councillors can consider the new terms.

But members of the public who had come to raise objections to development plans refused to leave without having their voices heard.

A queue of speakers formed as councillors temporarily left the hall, with some rejecting what they termed “social cleansing” and demanding 100 per cent affordable housing from the development.

Among them were members of Boleyn Dev100, Friends of Queen’s Market, TELCO and Focus E15 Mothers.

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“I was registered to speak and I believe the Boleyn Ground should be preserved,” said Paul Scott, 39, of Sandhurst Drive, Barking, after taking his turn to talk to the hall. “There were people there from other groups but I was acting for myself – I think the ground is West Ham United’s true home and should remain so.

“It’s also one of Newham’s few green spaces and the borough needs more of those, not fewer. The Boleyn Ground should be made an asset of community value by the council.”

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Other attendees criticised what they perceived as the council’s misguided priorities.

“Recent reports have indicated over 5,000 children living in poverty inside Newham, yet the council has used £40 million of public money to help relocate a football club – we have more important things to sort out in the borough,” Karen Harris of Boleyn Dev100 said.

Commenting on the deferment, Cllr Clark said: “Newham Council fully supports the proposed redevelopment of the Boleyn Ground site, but not be at the expense of the existing community.

“We have always made it clear that any development must offer a good mix of housing tenures, community facilities and job opportunities for Newham residents through the council’s employment service Workplace. Officers will make recommendations on the new affordable housing offer before councillors make a final decision.”

A decision on granting retrospective planning permission to concrete-makers Corbyn Construction, North Woolwich, following a change of use for the premises was also deferred by the committee.

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