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Does Vicky Park really need a spruce-up?

PUBLISHED: 18:52 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:34 05 October 2010

TOWER Hamlets council is about to embark on another of those schemes it describes as "consultation"—this time about how to "improve" Victoria Park. Some are cynical about these things, believing they're merely tick-box exercises to dress up pre-determined choices

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

TOWER Hamlets council is about to embark on another of those schemes it describes as “consultation”—this time about how to “improve” Victoria Park.

Some are cynical about these things, believing they’re merely tick-box exercises to dress up pre-determined choices.

In many cases, the cynics are probably right, but with Vicky Park I have a hunch residents really will have a say. And from what I’ve seen of some of the ideas suggested, we are going to have to make our voices heard.

Council bureaucrats will tinker with that beautiful park at their peril.

One of the many outstanding features of the park is that it is largely unspoilt.

Unlike similarly-sized Battersea Park, the East End’s green lung’ is largely wide open with uncluttered vistas of the surrounding area.

In Battersea, town planners seem to have crammed in too many activity’ centres and it has more the feel of a busy ornamental leisure centre than a place in which to sit, lie and just chill out.

Undoubtedly, many of the park’s facilities do need sprucing up, particularly the kids’ playgrounds (although, I can report first hand, the big slides are fantastic) and the model boating lake.

So too does the exceptionally poorly run and badly stocked “café” next to the tennis courts on the east of the park (it doesn’t serve any fruit or half the things it boasts on the menu).

And while the running track should also be restored to its former glory, I’m not convinced by calls for a floodlit all-weather sports pitch there.

Other ideas suggested include a new skateboard park near the rugby pitch (I think that would be a real spectacle) and an “urban beach” next to it (they’ve got to be joking!)

What seems definite is that at long last, the tiny deer pen will be closed and the animals will be re-homed in a more natural habitat, probably in Scotland.

The future of Victoria Park should be a matter close to everyone’s hearts: and on this, we really should have our say.

We have until September 23 to do that by visiting Idea Stores and libraries or online at:

www.towerhamlets.gov.uk

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LET’S PLAY FANTASY POLITICS

TWO months ago, I wrote that Rofique Ahmed was the surprise star of Labour’s new cabinet. That opinion was based on observing his performance at one public meeting.

Since then, I hear that he’s also impressed senior council officers with his occasionally wacky but heartfelt ideas.

He’s also, I’m told, the lone cabinet man who’s battling for Bancroft.

And, given that it’s silly season’, this set me thinking about who would be in a dream team’ cabinet run by a coalition of all four parties.

Naturally, as this is Tower Hamlets, there would have to be some political constraints, so let’s assume the four party leaders, Lutfur Rahman, Peter Golds, Stephanie Eaton and Abjol Miah, would have to be included.

That leaves six slots to fill. So, based purely on the performances of people I’ve seen in committees over the last three years—and at the risk of further alienating a whole chunk of councillors—here’s a selection of 10 from which to choose.

Deputy Tory leader Tim Archer would have to be in for attention to detail; as would Labour’s Bow version of Bill and Ben, Josh Peck and Marc Francis. Clair Hawkins would also have to be in, if only to ensure the cabinet was earnest enough.

But it would also need experience—which is why former leaders Denise Jones and Helal Abbas would be contenders—and genuine cross-community idealists like Alibor Choudhury, Shahed Ali, Ahmed Hussain and Oli Rahman.

[Self-publicists would not be welcome in this cabinet—and Rofique needs more time to prove himself.]

Who would be leader? Well, only a politician with the skills to whip people like Josh and Marc into shape could hope to whittle this group to 10, so step forward, Stephanie Eaton.

I hope to have the four names she or her friends might drop by next week…

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HOVEMAN WILL GEE-UP RESPECT

WE COULD be in for some interesting times at the Town Hall after it emerged that one of the cleverest people in Tower Hamlets politics is to become a regular visitor to the Marblery Place.

Rob Hoveman, one of the two men described by MP George Galloway as his Oxford Blues’ (the other is his other Parliamentary aide, Kevin Ovenden) is to become the official part-time political adviser to the underperforming Respect group.

Until now, philosopher, opera-buff and London Pride aficionado Rob has been the face of Galloway’s constituency office in Bethnal Green—and it seems that from now on he will juggle those two jobs. For a man of Rob’s mighty intellect, that’ll be a breeze.

Somehow, I think the Respect group is about to get a lot noisier at the Town Hall…if only for the Hoveman howls of frustration.

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