Yesterday evening (Monday 16th November 2015) I thought I would go along to the debate about the Shoreditch Goodsyard, which is proposed to be built blocking the view from my windows and balcony.

The ‘debate’ was held in St. Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch High Street (at the junction of Hackney Road).

Church Noticeboard.

Church Noticeboard.

The proposed project is believed to be for up to 7 new sky-scrapers as well as several smaller buildings, to include private ‘affordable’ housing, luxury housing and retail outlets.

All this in a area  of only 4.2 hectares., i.e. the now disused Goodsyard in Londons’ Shoreditch.

Watch film showing the impact of the plans

An extensive welcome was given by the Recter/Vicar Paul Turp, clarifying the history of St. Leonards’ Church, and it’s relevance to the local community.

Shoreditch Church

Vicar Paul Turp, Photo:Hayden West

This ‘debate’ turned out to be no more than a farce, a chance for the Mayors of Tower Hamlets and Hackney to voice their pre-planned comments to a totally unopposing audience, with so-called opposition speakers admitting that they are really against the project, as was the debate ‘mediator’.

So there was no true debate. You cannot have a debate with no-one there to give any genuine opposing opinion.

The audience, which I counted as best as I could, was between 230 and 250. No more.

The up to 250 audience.

Some of the up to 250 audience.

It was quite comical really. Every time one of the Mayors spoke, the same part of the audience burst out in rapturous, almost rehearsed, applause from their followers.

There were clearly ‘key phrases’ with which most of the  audience burst out with almost pre-arranged disgust. They were; City Hall, Boris Johnson, Profit, Luxury Flats, and Government Practices.

The most popular phrase the four speakers all seemed to use was; “I don’t want to be political, but ….”, and seeing the two Mayors clearly demonstrating how jealous they were of anyone in higher positions than themselves was hilarious.

Although I am personally strongly against the proposal, I came to this ‘debate’ expecting to hear a real exchange of opinions. All I heard was politicians and political activists preaching to the converted.

It seemed to me that the political activists far outnumbered the local residents, who, other that asking a couple of questions (the majority of which were pre-selected), seemed to have no input into the proceedings.

Towards the end, the question arose “What can people do to stop this project going through?”. The key answer given was for them to write in to complain. Great. But no indication was given as to who you should write to, their address, or where you could find a template letter to use. Amateurish.

There were genuine points which were skirted upon, such as the requirement for more transparency and democracy in housing planning, improving the clarity of exactly what is meant by ‘affordable housing’, the problems of providing housing in areas of rising land prices, and the requirement for a new study into the environmental effects of this project on the local area and it’s residents. But not enough attention was given to these.

The greatest cheer came from the phrase; “You have to put pressure on City Hall, and don’t let them get away with murder!”.

How did this all appear to me?

This was a carefully orchestrated meeting where opposition speakers were somehow discouraged to attend. Instead of this being a true debate, it ended out being a political rally to reinforce the grip of the Mayors of Tower Hamlets and Hackney on their positions.

There cannot be true debate without real opposition to a motion, so this was no more than a thinly disguised political rally.

Local residents should have been allowed to play a greater part in the proceedings, not just those with personal agendas.

The two Mayors and their political allies left waving their peacock feathers high, after having their feathers stroked all evening.

You will notice that I have not used any names of the main protagonists in this debacle, neither have I shown close-ups of their faces, but I have no intention of giving them any more publicity than they had yeaterday.

The effect this has had on me – I don’t think I’ll bother to attend any more of these ‘debates’. I have no intention of wasting another two hours.

The two Mayors leaving the ‘debate’ followed by their cackling hens.



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