Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Proud of Oakfield - Meeting Report

For those who were not able to attend, the Save Oakfield Campaign meeting on Monday evening was packed out, intensely informative and a truly energetic meeting attended by at least 127 people (I lost count after that). This little report is not intended to repeat what was said – even a summary of the two hour meeting would take too long. Most people know the issues. But you will find a presentation repeated at the end, because I think it sums up the issues brilliantly.


Let’s consider the support we have.
Chaired by Nicholas Hurst, the supporting platform speakers were former MP Lee Scott who had presented our Parliamentary Petition; Chairman of the London Green Belt Council Richard Knox Johnston; London Assembly Member and Local Councillor Keith Prince.

They are very firmly on our side and with good reasons. They are lobbying the London Mayor and Assembly members on our behalf. We will have access to the Secretary of State as and when needed.
Many people spoke from the floor of the meeting, including local Councillors, residents and our own ‘usual suspects’ Howard Berlin, Warren Litkin and Simon Copsey.

Our issues with the Council’s Local Development Plan were covered eloquently with much passion in some instances. People, sensible people these, are genuinely worried about the loss of green space, their community facilities, the additional traffic congestion and pollution, as well as loss of good quality, accessible sports clubs.

Letters of support had been sent in by:

Sir Trevor Brooking:
“Sorry to hear The Council are still threatening the significant loss of a key playing field which provides essential facilities for so many local residents. Please keep me posted on how it all progresses moving forward and if I can help in any way in the future let me know.”
Ravi Bopara of England and Essex:
“The campaign to save Oakfield site on Green Belt land is one that I wholeheartedly support. I owe much to having such excellent facilities at Oakfield Playing Fields which greatly enhanced my career as a cricketer. From the age of 9 to 16 Oakfield provided me with a safe and healthy environment on and off the field. Oakfield provided me with the opportunity to become an international cricketer and the loss of facilities like this would reduce the same opportunities for future generations.” 
and Varun Chopra of Warwickshire and former England U18 captain:
“Playing club cricket at Oakfield greatly supported my development as a professional cricketer. I played at Oakfield for a number of years, for both my school & against Oakfield Parks, built a number of friendships there and still follow Oakfield Parkonian CC’s developments with interest. Developing cricketers rely on a positive environment with excellent sporting facilities to help them reach their ambitions, and that is why I am fully behind the Save Oakfield campaign to help protect the budding aspirations of many young cricketers across Redbridge & Essex.”
Wes Streeting, MP, was unable to attend due to Parliamentary, Party and media responsibilities on the day. I’m sure everyone will understand, particularly in current circumstances. He has however confirmed again today his support for Oakfield:
“I want to make two things crystal clear so that there can be no room for ambiguity:
1) I support the Save Oakfield campaign. I have made it clear that I will not ’toe a party line’ on the issue and that my position will be reflected in how I vote at the Redbridge Full Council meeting later this month.
2) I am supporting the Save Oakfield campaign on the basis that it is a non-party political community-based campaign. . .
Since my election last year, I have attended campaign meetings, lobbied the successful Labour candidate for London Mayor, spoken with London Assembly representatives and made representations to the Council. There is a long road ahead beyond the vote on the 21st, not least the routes open to us through City Hall and Whitehall.
I have never used this campaign to score political points. Indeed, I believe I did the decent thing by waiting until after the general election to come out in support of the campaign so that no one could accuse me of simply using the issue to gain votes. . . . . My support for you, and those whose primary motivations are genuinely about saving Oakfield, remains unequivocal.”
But perhaps the most telling insights on the night came from two local residents. Here is the crib sheet of speech which they had prepared beforehand:

Hello I am Sydney Hildreth. And I am Honey Dow. We are both nine years’ old.
We think that it is a horrible idea for wanting to build on Oakfields.
Here are a couple of reasons why:
  1. The government promised that this land would be protected by a green belt are they just going to break that promise? Our parents have brought us up not to break our promises, if we learn at this age that it’s alright to break promises. what will our future be like? Will we be breaking the promises that we make to our children? Is that ok?
  2. This is a beautiful green field that gets used every single day and every single year. It is where children and adults come to exercise, get fresh air, play sport and celebrate memorable occasions, like birthday parties.
  3. This will make traffic worse. We have lived on Fencepiece road for 10 years and in that time we have known of 6 big car accidents including one recently where a young boy was hit by a bus. And it will bring up pollution rates. My niece, Maisie has asthma. It is really bad and she has to avoid places of dust and pollution where it is hard to breathe. an increase in pollution in this area could prevent her from coming to play at Sydney’s house. At the moment she goes there every Thursday.
  4. This is already an area with a lot of houses. Do we really need more houses in this area? I can only see 2 trees on my road and one of them is in my neighbour’s front garden. where will all the grass and green trees be? will I have a future of looking at concrete and cars? So far I have heard that building houses will make a lot of money. I guess what you are telling me is that money is more valuable than the quality of our future.
  5. We have 60 letters from the whole of year 4 at Glade Primary who also disagree with the building on this land. Please feel free to have a read. Our teacher has sent them to Wes Streeting, our local MP.
Here are also some copies of the Save OAKFIELDS Site poster that we made together. Please take one and put it up at your house or on your car.
Thank you for listening. We hope you take this into consideration.

UPDATE: Here's the Movie ...


Isn’t that so wonderfully truthful!
At the end of the meeting there was general enthusiasm to:
  • attend the Full Council Meeting on Thursday the 21st July. We are going to get there early at 6.45 for a big photoshoot and then cram into the public gallery (and probably the overspill rooms too!
  • after that meeting, we will all write individual letters to the Council and encourage our family and neighbours to do the same.
More information on this will follow . . . . .
Keep up the Campaign.

Chris Nutt
Hon Sec,
Save Oakfield Society

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