At the AGM Camden’s proposed removal of the railings was a major topic of discussion. The Friends Chairman wrote to the head of parks to try and get to the bottom of the strange lack of communication from Camden Council officers.
9th June 2011
Head of Parks and Open Spaces
7th Floor Town Hall Extension (Culture and Environment)
Following on from my letter to you last month regarding rumours of railing removals and the subsequent response from Gabi containing plans and dates for some very substantial work, this was discussed at our AGM last night.
Given the lack of notice, the fact that the tenders have already been circulated and the general lack of any communication on this matter the general consensus was that the process has been ignored and the consultation process that should normally occur has failed. I would remind you that this is exactly the situation that occurred with your predecessor and the replacement café which resulted in a white elephant that is of no benefit to the majority of casual users of the Fields and caused significant embarrassment and cost to the Council.
I accept that in 2008 there was substantial discussion with English Heritage about the future of the Fields however there has been no further consultation since then on the work you currently plan to undertake. While there are elements in your current plan that we are fully supportive of one of the key divisions always was, and is, the railings. There are numerous points of view just as there are multiple ways the Fields are enjoyed and therefore the decision needs to be arrived at on a use-based perspective rather than a purely design one.
To this end while we fully recognise that the railings are in a poor state and something needs to be done we are strongly of the opinion that no further action on the tender process should take place until a full discussion and further consultation has taken place.
FLIF and other users of the Fields are happy to work with Camden but need to feel that there is opportunity to comment and that such comments are listened to and acted on. It is clear that the current plans with regard to the railings neither meet the concerns of the users (whose park it is!) nor reflects the 1998 consultation with English Heritage.
I have taken the liberty of copying this letter in to the Ward Councillors as they too will have memories of the last time the consultation process failed and I am sure none of us wish a repeat of such a situation.
I look forward to meeting up with you and your colleagues in the near future.
Friends of Lincoln’s Inn Fields