Professor David Bellamy OBE visit to KSG

Watch David Bellamy on the Politics Show here

What a fantastic afternoon with the great Professor David Bellamy OBE. He is a real gentleman, has a wealth of conservation experience (not to mention not being afraid to take on the big boys), was great with the children and gave a wonderfully expressive address to the Save KSG crowd, politicians, press and Thames Water representative. It is great to have him as our honorary patron and we look forward to welcoming him back in March when he will lead a children’s nature trail in King’s Stairs Gardens.

Prof Bellamy arrived at 1.30pm and was met by a crowd of more than 100, press from BBC1’s The Politics Show, The Docklands newspaper, South London Press and Southwark News, Darren Johnson AM, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, Cllr Barrie Hargrove and Cllr Eliza Mann. He spoke to the crowd about how he lived in London, swam in the Thames and how lucky we all are to have this lovely park by the river. He spoke about brownfield alternatives and said “why choose this (KSG)?” Prof Bellamy added that King’s Stairs Gardens must not be built on and that Thames Water needs to find somewhere else. He wrapped up with “it is not going to happen, not because I am here, but because you are here and you believe in the future for your kids” and “we will win this!”

Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson then talked about the Thames Tunnel, saying "let's do it by finding sites that don't lose our green space". He stated his backing for the campaign with "you have certainly got my support in pushing Thames Water in looking to find the alternative site that we need".

Cllr Anood confirmed that all of the 25 Lib Dem councillors in Southwark are completely against the use of this site. She added that in her response to Thames Water she has asked them to look at all the costs, environment, social and community and that hopefully they will then conclude that they cannot use this site. She gave thanks to all that helped with the campaign and said all the team had been marvellous. On closing she said that the one good thing that has come out of this is that we are a real community that people have to listen to.

Cllr Barrie Hargrove was in attendance on behalf of Southwark Council to show the continuing support of the leader and executive of Southwark Council. At our last public meeting Cllr Hargrove said that it has been a pleasure and an honour to work with the Save King’s Stairs Gardens campaign group and felt that it has been a very effective vehicle to galvanise local people to protect their precious park. He reiterated that Southwark Council’s support for the campaign is unwavering and they share our view that no work at all should take place in KSG. Cllr Hargrove provided us with a copy of Southwark Council’s final response to Thames Water yesterday.

Nick Tennant, Communications Manager of Thames Water was given the opportunity to speak. He encouraged everybody to fill in a consultation form and said that every form, petition, and letter counts. He gave the usual speech of it’s a genuine consultation, nothing is set in stone and we are listening. Here is some more of what he said–
  •  Hats off to your campaign. You have fought a formidable, powerful and who knows hopefully effective campaign and you have conducted it with courtesy and we are grateful for that;
  • We respect your campaign and your patience. We know it has been, for all of you, an anxious and distressing time;
  • The consultation has generated things we didn’t know and we are actively following up those leads and that new information;
  • We are working as hard as we can to find a different site;
  • If in the interim (between end of phase 1 and start of phase 2) new sites emerge we will carry out consultations on those sites;
  • and again, you have fought a magnificent campaign.

A number of people then asked Nick Tennant questions, regarding the inaccuracy of the artist’s impressions, interim consultations and alternative solutions, talked to him about what this park means to them and what would be lost and he met a little girl who just wanted to say to him “please don’t take my park”.

Prof Bellamy then spoke to the locals, had his photograph taken with the children, gave interviews to the press and did his piece for the The Politics Show on Sunday.

He visited St Peter & the Guardian Angels Church and then on to the Bosco Centre. Here he met with the nursery children who were utterly mesmerised by his discussions of parks, plants and animals and asked great questions. He also talked to them about how he will be back in March to take them on a nature trail and they were very excited. Prof Bellamy then looked at the youth club, after school club and educational facilities at the Bosco Centre and Sister Cecily had the opportunity to explain to him the Centre’s borough-wide importance.

Lastly, to the Angel where he met landlord, Peter O’Sullivan and had a bite to eat before departing. We look forward to welcoming him back in March.

There were a number of news stories released on the back of his visit, in The Docklands and Southwark News, and on the People’s Republic of Southwark website. The Guardian has today given a London-wide view “London’s super sewer causes a stink” and talks about Prof Bellamy’s involvement. Within this story is a quote from Thames Water “We have reduced the number of construction sites from 45 to 22 and we are listening to communities. This is only the first stage in our consultations and there will be major changes by the time we come back with firm plans in July. No decisions have been taken but we want to leave things in a better state than when we found it."

London's super sewer causes a stink
13 Jan Guardian
Environmental campaigner David Bellamy visits under-threat Rotherhithe park
13 Jan Docklands24
David Bellamy backs 'Save King's Stairs' Gardens campaign
13 Jan Thames Water