Save Oakfield Site supporters to hold mass protest at council meeting
PUBLISHED: 10:44 12 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:55 12 July 2016
Campaigners looking to stop a playing field from being developed on are set to make their voices heard at a full council meeting next week.
Save Oakfield Site (SOS) supporters came together last night to talk strategies going forward and to air concerns about Redbridge Council’s inclusion of Oakfield Playing Fields, Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, in its Local Plan.
Supporters are planning to fill the council chamber and hold a mass protest at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, at the council meeting on Thursday, July 21, following yesterday’s meeting at the site’s Jack Carter Pavilion.
Passionate pleas were heard from audience members, including two nine-year-old girls, arguing the case for Oakfields.
A panel fielding questions from the public included SOS chairman Chris Nutt, Barkingside 21 secretary Alan Howe, former Ilford North MP Lee Scott, Frenford Clubs chairman Nicholas Hurst, London Green Belt Council chairman Richard Knox-Johnston, and Greater London Assembly member for Redbridge Cllr Keith Prince.
The speakers, all in support of stopping any development at the site, heard concerns about pollution, traffic, infrastructure, and the potential loss of a playing field.
“I don’t know why this is going on, it shouldn’t be but there’s circumstantial evidence that it is,” said Mr Knox-Johnston, who said he received a letter from cricketer Ravi Bopara backing the campaign.
“It could be that the inspector is putting pressure on the council. It’s not the inspector or the planning officers that should make that decision, it’s the elected councillors that should.
“It’s rumoured the council would get £200million for filling this site, but this area is priceless.”
He added: “This is your last chance publicly to influence the council. Preserving our green belt is vital and important for our future.”
Conservative Cllr Prince said his party planned to lodge an amendment to the Local Plan at the council meeting to remove Oakfields.
“I have to say unfortunately I do believe that it’s likely that there will not be enough supporters of Oakfield to prevent it from going in the local plan,” he admitted.
He also criticised Mayor of London Sadiq Khan over uncertainty over the field’s green belt status after he said each site would be assessed on its individual merits.
Cllr Prince said: “All I can promise you is that I will fight tirelessly to save Oakfields – I will lobby the council and I will continue to lobby the mayor.”
Mr Scott criticised his successor Labour MP Wes Streeting, who said he was working late in Parliament in a letter read out to visitors, as well as the party’s councillors for not attending the meeting.
“Perhaps looking after ones own constituents is more important,” said Mr Scott. “Everyone we have sitting up here – they’re all from the conservative party. Where are the labour party? They should all be here.”
Responding to the comments, Mr Streeting said he was “genuinely upset” his absence was used to “attack my support for the campaign”.
“My predecessor knows full well that votes in Parliament go on late on Monday nights,” he added.
“The Tories may have enjoyed cynically showboating in front of campaigners this week, but I’ll be there for residents when it matters – standing up for Ilford North in Parliament and standing up for Oakfield in the town hall on July 21st.”
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