Gun site is out of protest range

IT’S ALWAYS amusing to listen to the sound of council officers squealing when they accidentally let the cat out of the bag. Not so funny for the people whose homes they’re messing with though

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

IT'S ALWAYS amusing to listen to the sound of council officers squealing when they accidentally let the cat out of the bag. Not so funny for the people whose homes they're messing with though.

Just a couple of weeks after councillors agreed to foist a thousand more people onto the already creaking infrastructure of Bow with their decision on the former Safeway site, Town Hall planners are salivating over another proposal for overcrowding.

This time it's at Gun Wharf, which is significant for a number of reasons, not least because it's right next to Victoria Park, but also because it's right on the doorstep of of Marc Francis's home, Labour's housing chief.

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A couple of months ago angry Marc and neighbours in Connaught Works in Old Ford Road successfully persuaded developers Durkan Estates to drop their original plans (after what protesters claimed was a wholly flawed consultation exercise) and try to come up with revised and smaller proposals.

Durkan also promised to meet the residents before submitting the new plans, Cllr Francis told neighbours.

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But Durkan failed to honour that pledge and now the new application has been lodged at the Town Hall.

The proposed height has been dropped a smidgen, but protesters remain unhappy. Durkan again refused to meet, instead telling residents their views should be made via the council's renewed formal consultation process.

Now, here's the beef. Naïve little me thought it was only after that process-ie after the consideration of the views of mere residents-that officers made up their minds about recommending planning permission or not.

So it was touch surprising to read the this final paragraph in a covering letter to the council from the developer's agents: "We understand that the amended applications will now be subject to re-consultation and will be considered at the council's development committee meeting on October 8, 2008, where they will have a recommendation of approval from officers."

Has the council already jumped the gun at Gun Wharf, I asked the Town Hall.

Here's their squirming reply: "We do not have an advanced recommendation on any application...In this case it would seem that the agent has confused a recommendation of approval with the officer's informal advice given as part of the normal pre-application process, which is always informal and does not bind the council."

If I was a betting man, I'd bet Cllr Francis's nice pad on a recommendation of approval.



AMONG all the Tory wannabes hoping to overturn Labour majorities at the next General Election, there could have been no more sure-fire certainty than our old friend Simon Rouse. Remember him? The first ever Tory councillor in Tower Hamlets; he resigned his seat in March to concentrate on his parliamentary ambitions in his home town of Nuneaton. Widely regarded as one of the brightest and most capable of the new Tory generation, he is said by old hands to be undoubtedly ministerial material-a genuine class act. But he's quit his quest. The stress of constant travelling between London and Nuneaton at the weekends has taken its toll and he's decided to put his MP ambitions on hold. He said he wants to spend more time with his young family. And unusually for a politician, he actually means that. It's an honourable move for someone actually deserving of the title 'honourable member'. Tower Hamlets Tories want him back, but I think he'll hold out.



YOU may have read last week that Tower Hamlets council has brought in Holly the Hawk to scare off pigeons in Whitechapel market for three month. What the council didn't tell us that she costs £125 a day to hire. Whether that's money well spent, I'm not sure.

But how about deploying Holly to another place riddled with pests-the Town Hall...let's prey it happens...

P.S. Thanks to the readers who wrote to the Editor after this column went missing a couple of weeks ago, I'd like to assure them that I have not been 'nobbled', as one put it! However, to stave off more conspiracy theories, you ought to know that I'm now off for a fortnight. How I'll miss it.

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