Panic, apathy, and general distress about the future Hornchurch filled the air at a public meeting on the new proposed town centre development at Ardleigh Green College on Friday.
Panic: The shopkeepers who are having to watch their small family concerns brushed aside by the Council “in the name of progress” under the guise of re-development,’ people claimed.
Apathy: The residents of Hornchurch after waiting over 15 years for their new “wonder town”, are now really beginning to wonder when they will get their new town, and when, and if they do will it be worth it?
General Distress: The whole population of Hornchurch who are having to standby while the Council “push ahead void of all feeling despite the upset and misery they are causing,” according to others.
These were just a few of the very mixed feelings aired at the meeting.
The meeting, chaired by Emerson Park Cllr. Bob Carnaby. Chairman of Havering Council’s Technical Services Committee, got off to a quiet start. Not until half way through the evening, when the meeting was thrown open to questions from the floor, that things started to go with a bang!
Cllr. Carnaby refused to answer question after question and glossed over as many more with the answer “I shall have to refer this to the council and will let you have a written reply.”
This was not good enough for the people of Hornchurch, many of whom were fighting for their homes and businesses.
Many questions were fired from the audience, and after Cllr. Carnaby had hedged round them they were volleyed afresh by others.
The main points which came to light were:
- Lack of car parks near and around the town centre. According to Michael Lee, of Hornchurch Chamber of Commerce, this would cause by would-be shoppers to by-pass Hornchurch and head for Upminster or Romford.
- “What would replace the Queen’s?” Mrs. Margaret Outen, of Mavis Grove, said: “it seems to me that the present system, where Romford has the Town Hall and Hornchurch has the Queen’s, is quite suitable and should stay that way. Why should Romford have everything especially when WE have paid for it?” This comment was greeted by loud cheers from the audience.
- What will happen to the 30 or more shops that will disappear under the new scheme, and have not been provided for in the new town complex?
- Who is going the pay for this new extravagance?
“Will we, the ratepayers, have to fork out as usual?” This was the point which company director, Susan Howard, brought out and was told it was going to be financed by “Government grants and other sources.”
Miss Howard later said if the rates were increased any more she would have to seriously consider whether it was economic to keep her business in Havering. At a press conference before the meeting, Cllr. Bob Carnaby was confident the new plans would get full public support. Asked whether the council would really back down on the scheme at this stage if faced with a majority “no”, he said he did not think the question would arise.
He said: “I think people will accept this scheme. While the model has been on display in Hornchurch Library, I would say about 80 percent were in support.”
A havering Council planning officer said: “We would like to do something about Upminster as well, but we will have to take things as they come.”
“First something has to be done about the traffic conditions in Hornchurch.”