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ELECTIONS: Tower Hamlets council candidates ‘hadn’t a clue’ about major Isle of Dogs development plans

PUBLISHED: 07:05 21 April 2018 | UPDATED: 07:45 23 April 2018

Isle of Dogs Forum's Richard Horwood... to advocate Neighbourhood Plan for public examination at Jack Dash House. Picture: Mike Brooke

Isle of Dogs Forum's Richard Horwood... to advocate Neighbourhood Plan for public examination at Jack Dash House. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Richard Horwood is hoping the open election meeting he is chairing on Tuesday for candidates running for Tower Hamlets mayor doesn’t turn into a disaster where they can’t answer questions about the vital Isle of Dogs’ upcoming Neighbourhood Plan.

Canary Wharf local ward hustings by Millwall's '1 Love Community' social enterprise in Pepper Street. Picture: Mike BrookeCanary Wharf local ward hustings by Millwall's '1 Love Community' social enterprise in Pepper Street. Picture: Mike Brooke

After all, the area is facing a crisis of skyscraper over-development without proper infrastructure and he wants to know what each one will do if they win.

The neighbourhood planning forum’s chairman got a shock at an open hustings meeting in Pepper Street last Wednesday evening where four of the five candidates present hoping to win a seat on the council just didn’t have a clue about the plan—despite two years of public consultations and an open hearing coming up next month.

“We’ve had loads of public meetings,” Richard told the stunned Canary Wharf ward candidates. “It’s gone through a massive consultation process. We’ve had 200 pages of submissions—and you guys haven’t even read it. I am stunned.”

One candidate openly apologised, then promised to take time to read it up.

Candidates at Canary Wharf ward hustings grilled on why they didn't know about Isle of Dogs Local Plan. Picture: Mike BrookeCandidates at Canary Wharf ward hustings grilled on why they didn't know about Isle of Dogs Local Plan. Picture: Mike Brooke

A woman in the audience urged them: “You do need to read the Nerighbourhood Plan. It’s a real disappointment that candidates haven’t engaged in it because it has more potential power than any of you.”

One voter accused the Tories of being responsible for Isle of Dogs over-development.

A second candidate responded when asked who they thought they were representing: “You ‘islanders’ need a strong voice on the council, someone who will listen to you. I think I’m that person—otherwise why would I come along and have horrible questions thrown at me.”

Richard Horwood wasn’t convinced, having organised “loads of public meetings” and taken part in a long public consultation process with the council.

Only one of these three candidates knew about Isle of Dogs Local Plan. Picture: Mike BrookeOnly one of these three candidates knew about Isle of Dogs Local Plan. Picture: Mike Brooke

He told the East London Advertiser afterwards: “Five candidates didn’t actually know about the Neighbourhood Plan, let alone read it, after it was put together by the community over the past three years. They should have known about it. We are about to have a public examination next month.”

His neighbourhood forum has 12,000 people on its mailing list—apparently not including all the candidates vying to represent them on the council. Nor had the candidates read the Advertiser’s front page story on April 5, it seems, highlighting Neighbourhood Plan concerns, headlined Thames Water warns ‘sewers won’t cope’ with major developments.

Richard expects a better response when candidates for mayor turn up at the forum’s election hustings at 6pm on Tuesday at Millwall’s Seven Mills School in Malabar Street, off Alpha Grove.

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