(R74) CRYSTAL PALACE CAMPAIGN - distributed bulletin - 14 July 2002

Victorian Day News Bulletin - 14 July 2002

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You demanded it. We worked for it. At last, it may be within reach. Bromley have now promised a new process of partnership consultation for the future of Crystal Palace Park. At a Campaign-sponsored workshop on June 29 the new leader of Bromley Council, Cllr Michael Tickner, Con, pledged to start from scratch in exploring a new consultation process. Further, he said that personally he had no objections to sharing management of the Park with a friends’ organisation or a community Trust (which, as you know, CPC proposed last year).

The next stage

Cllr Tickner will attend meetings of a small task group of 8-9 members from community organisations nominated from the workshop. The group will attempt to agree an agenda for the type of consultation process that will be established, to ensure that the views of all stakeholders are taken into account.

This breakthrough - which some present termed “historic” - came at the all-day workshop, which for the first time brought together for serious discussion politicians and community representatives from all five boroughs adjoining the Park. (The organisations represented are listed at the end of this bulletin, and the full list of names is on our website).

CPC Chairman Philip Kolvin commended the local groups who worked constructively throughout the day, as well the independent facilitator, Nigel Westaway, who conducted the workshop. Kolvin cautioned that we must not get carried away, and that there was much to be done, but said we must set out sights high. Our job is to ensure that everyone who wants a say in the future of the Park is listened to and has the chance to contribute their ideas towards its regeneration. (Both Bromley’s and the Campaign’s press releases are on their websites).

The past year

our campaigning style changed with the abandonment of the multiplex a year ago. We have not been shouting from the rooftops or occupying column inches in the local and national press. We have quietly and, we hope, diplomatically, got on with building partnership, reassuring and persuading politicians and local people that talk is better than conflict. A year on, it’s paying dividends.

The key result of this hard work was that in addition to Cllr Tickner, Bromley was also represented at the workshop by Bob Neill (Bromley member of the GLA,) Cllrs John Canvin and Chris Gaster, and Mr Robbie Stoakes, Director of Leisure & Community Services.

Also last year

CPC conducted a survey of local residents’ views on the future of the Park with over 40,000 questionnaires delivered in the postcode areas immediately adjacent, as well as to schools. This was not a poll. But top national polling experts were consulted. They predicted that such “cold calling” delivery might produce at best 1,000 responses. In fact, these pollsters were astonished that as many as 2,313 responses were filled out and returned. The response was large enough to draw meaningful conclusions about local views. Through survey work in the Park, we also showed that the results were representative of park users in general.

The results showed overwhelming support for the regeneration of the Sports Centre and the museum area, and the maintenance of the green, historic ambience of the heart of the Park. Roughly half of respondents were prepared to see the top site built on, (and half not) with the building proponents mainly supporting community, cultural and arts facilities.

This was the first serious attempt by anyone over the last 150 years to conduct open consultation regarding the Park. If anyone has ideas on how we should consult in future, or to improve still further on the response rate, we’d like to hear from you, and hope you’ll help in the often long and laborious process!

A big thank you to all those who did take the trouble to respond, and to our helpers who did the thankless delivery and analysis tasks. Thanks also to Ken Livingstone who penned the forward, commending the Campaign’s work. Many copies of the survey’s final report and full analysis, including tables, have been distributed to our supporters. They are also now on sale at £2.50 from Crystal Palace Museum, Kirkdale Books, Bookseller Crow, the Dulwich Bookshop, or by contacting CPC direct (see foot of this bulletin). The Report is also available on our website.

A new Community Trust was also proposed last autumn by the Campaign. It would raise funds, consult local opinion and guide regeneration of the Park in partnership with Bromley, backed by a community forum. We shall be refining aspects of this proposal in the coming consultation.

Current state of the Park

The contract to "restore the vision" with contractors, McNicholas, was originally due for completion 31 March 2002 but was extended, because the very wet spring of 2001 had delayed work by 3 months. The contract ran out on 30 June. We are now supposedly in a period of "default" when Bromley will inspect and indicate satisfaction and preparedness to adopt or take over various parts of the Park which have come up to specified contractual standards. Bromley will also indicate their dissatisfaction where contractual conditions have not been met.

No one will be surprised if the paths are not accepted by Bromley. This applies both to the self-bonding (the softer ones which turn soupy and wash away in rainy conditions) and the harder, resin bonded, tarmac-like path, surrounding the concert bowl, which has had to be re-laid in places (due to poor work by sub-contractors), and now is a patchwork of varying shades of off-yellow. This will mean a further summer with contractors in the park making good.

There is still a considerable amount of work to be completed at the back of the Concert Platform, where the area is suffering problems with groundwater and drainage. This should have been planted up as the continuation of the "rhododendron dell", but the water problem needs to be resolved first.

The area around the dinosaurs also has the “self-bonding” material and there are continued reports that these paths, too, wash away in the rain. The dinosaur area was officially opened on 4 July by the Duke of Edinburgh and we understand that Bromley will be providing regular guided tours around the area, which will not be fully open for the general public until the new plantings have been established - possibly another year. The farmyard will not be back in its original format; instead Bromley hope to have a Reptile House, alongside the Paxton dinosaurs, as an educational facility showing evolution. A classroom has been incorporated onto the site.

National Sports Centre

Listeners to BBC Radio 5 Live’s “On the Line” of 10 June will have been brought up to date on the depressing stand-off between Bromley, the NSC owner, and Sport England, who are the tenant. In a nutshell, the seriously dilapidated Centre risks being abandoned by Sport England in 2004. Talks have just begun between the two over how much Sport England shall pay -- simply to restore the Centre to its 1964 state, as if it were some relic! Sport England reckons £12m, while Bromley say up to £20m. Kate Hoey, MP for Battersea and a former Sports Minister, suggested on the programme that Sport England reclaim the £150m it needlessly gave to the FA for Wembley and spend half of it on Crystal Palace. We suggest you write to your MP demanding a regeneration project to produce world-class facilities without encroaching further on to the Park. Otherwise the Athletics Grand Prix this August could be the last! (full text of the 1-hr long programme is on our website).

Bromley’s UDP

Despite our better relations with Bromley, we still remain formally opposed to the proposed changes to their Unitary Development Plan. Specifically we are opposed to their wish to remove the top site’s status as Metropolitan Open Land and to designate it “ to provide leisure and recreational development, with associated food and drink premises” AND we oppose Bromley’s proposed re-designation of the Sports Centre as a ”Major Developed Site” with a possibility to encroach further onto the Park. There were more objections to these proposals than any other in the whole UDP. Bromley may yet change its mind in the light of the Mayor of London’s Spatial Development Strategy, which is protective of green space. We have appealed to Bromley to reconsider. But, if not, there will be a public inquiry in 2003, at which the Campaign will appear.

Groups represented at the June 29 Workshop

Boycott UCI Group, Crystal Palace Campaign, Crystal Palace Community Association (ex CPTCA), Crystal Palace Foundation, Crystal Palace Protest, Dulwich Society, Friends of Brockwell Park, Friends of the Earth, Green Party, Lambethans’ Society, Norwood Society, Ridge Wildlife Group, Sport England, Sydenham Society, Chamber of Commerce, West Beckenham Residents’ Association.

Greetings from South Australia

A sample of the support hitting our website! Good on ya!

I am at last able to visit England – long a cherished dream. I will be staying with my son for a few weeks and I shall make it a point to visit the Crystal Palace Park Victorian Day celebration on July 14th – I am so thrilled that justice prevailed in the end and I congratulate all the workers and campaigners and I am in awe of your wonderful efforts – Australia could certainly learn from you still. See you all soon – by the way, your future proposals for the Park sound wonderful. Pub-name: Marie Cimasko.

E-mail alert

We intend to communicate more regularly with our supporters by e-mail. Please stay in the loop by sending your e-mail address to our Campaign secretary, Vivien Day, at VA.Day@ukgateway.net.

cpc logo trees

Crystal Palace Campaign, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive, London SE19 1UY
Tel/Fax 020 8670 8486 E-mail: va.day@ukgateway.net Campaign Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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14/07/02 Last updated14/07/02