Monday, May 11, 2009

A Residents Report - The State of London's Environment: Ignored by "The Money"

Last Saturday I spent the day at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre for The State of London Debate - arranged by the Mayor of London to increase the accountability of the GLA to Londoners.

On the whole I was impressed with the speakers, with the exception of Jo Valentine of London First and Stuart Fraser, Economic Development London Councils, who did not impress me at all. What struck me was their rather out of date attitude vis-a-vis the current problems of aviation noise and pollution in London. It seems they have an over-arching aim to make London the best city in the world in which to live, work and invest. Well obviously they have not cast their eyes over recent statistics with regard to air pollution in London; which is clearly not one of the best places to live because it is now known as the dirtiest, noisiest and most polluted capital in Europe.

In fact London's dirty air is responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people a year. London's emissions are well above those that have been set by the EU and the United Kingdom is about to be fined.

I was disappointed that not only did neither Jo Valentine nor Stuart Fraser seem to grasp the serious challenges that London is facing with regard to the air and noise pollution suffered by millions, they showed no evidence of understanding that London needs innovative approaches and practical solutions to the problem. In fact they both reminded me of uninformed and not very creative dinosaurs.

In addition, the reply that Jo Valentine made with regard to a question on litter was actually quite disturbing. She stressed that it was very important indeed to clear up the areas of London that visitors would pass through during the Olympic Games. However, the other areas seen by and lived in by Londoners on a daily basis were not mentioned by her at all. Presumably, since only local people would see them they were not nearly as important and any litter and mess could be safely ignored.

Therefore I would hazard a guess that Jo Valentine is not a community person.



FTF comment:

Fraser and Valentine are both from banking backgrounds and clearly put profit before people. Valentine of London First (otherwise known as Money First), has been a long time supporter of London City Airports growth and appears not to be concerned about the negative effects of such business expansion on residential communities at all.

These individuals are clearly not concerned at the flawed and missing data that the airport has provided over the years, nor has Valentine acknowledged that the airport has failed to meet even 50% of it's most conservative prediction of the amount of jobs it would create in the last 10 years.

Valentine thinks that LCA is good for Newham: just 120 directly employed jobs have been given to Newham residents in over 20 years of the airport running. This is compared with an ever increasing amount of residents in east and south east London being affected by the 57DB+ noise contour. Upon any expansion almost 100,000 residents will be affected by these excessive noise levels.

Will Fraser and Valentine be two of those residents we wonder? If they were, would they still choose to ignore the social, over the profit? Lets hope their children don't have to sit in a class room that is disturbed by a flight roaring over every 90 seconds, and their development being affected, lets hope also that they don't have to deal with the illnesses associated with excessive aviation noise and pollution levels.

Newham residents haven't gained much at all from this airport that has been allowed to grow beyond the limits promised faithfully to the communities of East London: Newham is still one of the most socially deprived boroughs in the country, and tops a lot of other 'negative' categories in healthcare and childrens educational development. It also has one of the worst housing shortages in the country.
So obviously 20 years is not enough for the airport to have shown the 'trickle down' effect - so businesses answer is? To expand more, to socially experiment more, on one of the poorest boroughs in London. And lets not forget that this 'experiment' cost London taxpayers £24million pounds over the past 5 years.