City of London (Various Powers) Bill (By Order)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 15th May 1989.

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Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen , Leyton 7:21 pm, 15th May 1989

I cannot tell my hon. Friend the exact size, but it was not very large. One expects kids to play football in open spaces, but in this case the right and left wings would be main roads. Not many of those kids would end up playing for Leyton Orient because as soon as they put the ball wide, they would get run over.

The fourth bit of "SLOAP" is even more disgusting. That was near Connaught school, abutting directly on the link road. It was shameful that the Department refused to tunnel at least that small part of the road. They would not tunnel any of the rest of it, and they refused at the very minimum to make this little bit of tunnel by the girls' school. That was a disgraceful aspect of the Minister's policy. Parts of the annexe to the school will be only 2 m away from a busy motorway. How can those pupils study properly? The Minister even refused to put up the money to double-glaze the annexe. If the Department must offer this so-called "SLOAP" by the side of the road, it should at least—the local residents may have something to say about it—place compulsory purchase orders on the few houses between that bit of land and the school. The Department would have to pay proper compensation so that those affected could be properly rehoused. At least the residents would then have more land which could be used for dual purposes—as green land for the school and park land for the community. The area would not have been very big even then. I asked the Department to do at least that, but the Department and the Minister were too mean and would not get their act together. The land is useless to the school because there is no proper direct access to it.

In any case, there is a serious housing crisis in my area. If I had time, I would deal with that in greater detail. The council cannot place compulsory purchase orders on the properties and rehouse the occupants to the standard that would be required because it does not have the money or the houses; it has an enormous waiting list. That option, too, was therefore ruled out by the Department of Transport.

The motorway will create enormous problems for the school. The construction of the road is already posing problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) talked about road safety and the safety of the children. The teachers and the education authority have expressed their concern and anxiety about the children's safety and about the fact that the Department is doing nothing about it. The Department of Education and Science will come up against the problem. It will have to decide what to do about the site—perhaps on a replacement school. It is the same old story—the machinery of Government working for a mean Government: the Department of Transport says that it is the concern of the Department of Education and Science; the Department of Education and Science says that it is the concern of the Department of Transport and in the meantime those kids are at risk, that school has a rotten environment and the Department of Transport steals our forest land without giving us proper replacement land. That bit of "SLOAP" was also useless.

The fifth bit of "SLOAP" was a small triangle of land in Grove Green road, again abutting on the motorway—the M11 link road—at Nos. 481 to 493 Grove Green road. Yet again the Department would not place compulsory purchase orders on the houses and provide generous compensation for the residents, although that would have allowed us to get a small bit of land together. It would still have been very small and not a good environment. The so-called "SLOAP" is a useless set of blobs of land not linked together and adjacent to the road. That is how the Department tried to brush me off, having nicked the forest land in Leyton. As hon. Members can imagine, I was not prepared to put up with that nonsense.

The last bit of "SLOAP" was a small sliver between Fillebrook road and the link road. It is unusable. It has exactly the same drawbacks as the bit of Grove Green road that I described, where the green land is between the two roads. It was right up against the most dangerous and busiest point of the motorway—the Green Man roundabout interchange, with which the Bill deals.

None of that land could be regarded as a proper replacement for the forest land stolen by the Government from the people of Leyton—not by any stretch of the imagination. There should have been a linear park anyway. All these "SLOAPs—