Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Public Walk Out in Disgust as Newham Council Refuses Debate on Queens Market

Public Meeting, 20 September, Forest Gate E7

A quick reportback from this evening's public meeting of the Green Street Community Forum, which descended into chaos as almost the entire audience walked out because Newham councillors refused to allow discussion on the future of Queens Market.

The Forum, one of a number of consultation bodies across the borough, agreed earlier in the summer to hold a public meeting on the proposed development of Queens Market in Upton Park. By the time a date had been set, this meeting had been expanded to include other issues covered by the council's Public Realm department but this was accepted by the Forum steering group because the future of the Market is clearly a major issue for both the council and the local community. On 15th September, steering group members were asked what questions they would like to see answered in the public meeting and made it very clear that Queens Market would form an important part of the event.

However, having indicated earlier in the day that she may not attend at all, Cllr June Leitch, who leads on the Queens Market development for Mayor Sir Robin Wales, showed up at the public meeting and flatly refused to answer any questions on the Market, although she was willing to talk about other issues. In doing so, she showed complete contempt for the wishes of the steering group and local people, most of whom therefore decided to walk out in disgust.

One of the main aims of the Green Street Community Forum is to coordinate the local expression of views, particularly on major regeneration projects. However, the Chair of the Forum, Cllr Harvinder Virdee, accepted and defended his fellow councillor's disgraceful behaviour, leaving the overwhelming impression that Newham's Labour councillors are concerned only with protecting their political allies, rather than with encouraging public debate.

Newham Council is now severely rattled by the briiliant campaign run by Friends of Queens Market, which needs the active support of radical activists in the borough. The campaign can be contacted on
020 8418 0927 or by e-mail at friendsofqueensmarket@yahoo.co.uk

Messages of opposition to the destruction of the Market and complaints about the conduct of Cllr Leitch should be directed to mayor@newham.gov.uk

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