Friday, 8 April 2011

Wanstead Flats - It's All Gone Hybrid

This is a quick update on where we currently stand with plans for a Metropolitan Police Olympics operations base on Wanstead Flats in 2012. Back in January, the Home Office announced that it intended to use secondary legislation to amend the Epping Forest Act 1878 (without Parliament having to pass a new Act) and therefore to remove the legal obstacles facing the plans.

On 22 March the draft Legislative Reform (Epping Forest) Order 2011 was finally published and because it was deemed to have a particular local interest, it was designated ‘a hybrid instrument’, making it both extremely rare and subject to a special procedure in the House of Lords. Residents and organisations who could show they were “specially and directly affected by the proposal” were given a fortnight to ‘petition’ their opposition to the House of Lords Hybrid Instruments Committee. This has meant that a small group of dedicated local people involved in the Save Wanstead Flats campaign has worked incredibly hard over the last two weeks to produce a complex response (PDF) written in the arcane language of parliamentary procedure.

In total there were eight ‘petitions’ lodged against the Legislative Reform Order, including one each from both Newham and Waltham Forest councils. On 18 April, the government will issue its written response to these objections. The Hybrid Instruments Committee will meet in private on 23 May to consider the Order, the petitions and written submissions and may decide to hold a session for oral evidence on 8 June.

Before the Order can take eventually take effect, it will require approval by both Houses of Parliament but in spite of the level of continued opposition, it seems probable that few parliamentarians will be prepared to stand in the way of the Olympic juggernaut. So does that mean the battle is now over? Not quite. Even if the Home Office manages to successfully bulldoze its way past the last of the legal hurdles, Wanstead Flats still belongs to the people of east London and the community campaign to defend the Flats has ensured that every new move made by the Metropolitan police will face intense scrutiny. There is still a year to go before building work can begin and now is definitely not the moment to let our guard down...

1 Comment:

Gormo said...

Have to say well done for keeping up the fight on this one

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