Video: West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking slams Redbridge Council’s ‘indefensible’ Oakfields plan at meeting
PUBLISHED: 11:40 07 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:06 07 April 2017
Footballing legend Sir Trevor Brooking has become the latest sporting star to call for Redbridge Council to walk back plans to build on Oakfield playing fields.
Speaking exclusively to the Recorder after a hugely optimistic meeting of the Save Oakfield Society (SOS) at the Jack Carter Pavillion in Hainault last night, the West Ham icon condemned plans to build flats on the playing fields.
He said: “It was a fantastic meeting, but the one source of frustration for everyone here is that there was no one on the head table who was able to say why the council is doing this.
“They were invited, but no one from Redbridge Council came tonight, and that’s because they know this horrendous plan is indefensible.”
Former Ilford County High pupil Sir Trevor revealed he earned some of his first FA coaching badges at Oakfields in the summer months of the 1980s, and stressed that it was vital to the health of future generations that the playing fields remain untouched.
Previously, England footballing hero Jimmy Greaves and cricket superstar Ravi Bopara had both publicly denounced plans to build on Oakfields, as have Sport England, the Football Association and the English Cricket Board.
The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also stated plans to build on the site do not fit his London Plan criteria.
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting spoke during the meeting, and admitted to the 102-strong audience that he found himself “in the uncomfortable position of having to disagree with the local Labour council”.
But, in what set the tone for a meeting that was mainly to spread a message of hope, he insisted this was a fight local residents could still win if they continued to show the determined spirit and critical thinking they have done for so long.
“If people didn’t know what Oakfields was and the vital service it provided this community before, they know now,” he said.
“So often with grassroots campaigns like this people have the passion, but they don’t do the legwork, or they don’t have the detail – this campaign does.”
Redbridge Council’s Conservative opposition leader, Cllr Paul Canal, expressed a similar sentiment, and stressed that this was not just a fight to save Oakfields, but for the future.
Concluding his speech, he said: “All I would say to Jas [Athwal, the leader of Redbridge Council] and the cabinet members is this.
“We have a duty to leave this borough in a better state than when we found it, and we can’t do that by selling off Oakfields.”