Monday 5 September 2011

Wanstead Flats Campaign Update

The judicial review of the Home Office's plans to amend the 133-year old law that protects Wanstead Flats and stands in the way of the proposed Olympics police base, will soon mean a weekday hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.

As regular visitors to this blog will know, the 'Legislative Reform Order' amending the Epping Forest Act was passed with little debate by Parliament some months ago. However, the Save Wanstead Flats campaign has continued to argue that because the consultation carried out by the Home Office was so poor, denying local people a proper chance to challenge the decision, it should be overturned. One resident, Dr Michael Pelling, has therefore sought a judicial review of the Home Office consultation process, with the Save Wanstead Flats campaign named as an 'interested party'. At some point within the next eight weeks, a hearing date will be set and as soon as it is, the Save Wanstead Flats campaign plans to hold a protest outside of the court. Local residents will then be able go in and witness the hearing.

A leaflet is circulating to homes locally asking if residents want to receive an update on the final court date. A copy can be downloaded from here [PDF].

Meanwhile, over on the 'Protect Wanstead Flats and Epping Forest' FaceBook page, some unscrupulous rumour-mongering about the prospect of a compulsory purchase order of the Wanstead Flats site, if the Home Office loses the judicial review, has attracted the attention of the Metropolitan Police. On 5 August, someone called Tim Knight posted the following:

The implication is clearly that any blame for a compulsory purchase order would fall upon Save Wanstead Flats campaign members, for refusing to "just let it happen for a couple of months". I only became aware of this dubious piece of shit-stirring when I received an e-mail from Detective Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron from the Met's Olympics community relations team, who said:

"In response to the comment posted earlier on a social networking site, the Met have not issued a compulsory purchase order for land at Wanstead Flats and have no intention to. As set out in the Met's planning application, the use of the fairground area of Wanstead Flats is for a temporary period of 90 days in the summer of 2012 and awaits the outcome of the judicial review process which is currently with the High Court. "

As Mr Knight went on to suggest on FaceBook that the source of his claim is "Epping Forest HQ", I have contacted the Head of Open Spaces at the City of London Corporation asking for confirmation that no discussions about a compulsory purchase order have taken place. As soon as a reply comes through, I'll pass on the Corporation's comments too.

POSTSCRIPT - 6 September

Sue Ireland, the Director of Open Spaces at the City of London Corporation, has e-mailed with this:

I can confirm that, since the decision was taken to apply for a LRO, there has been no discussion with the Met about use of a Compulsory Purchase Order and we await the outcome of the judicial review process.

So Tim Knight, whoever you are - where did you get your information from, eh?

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