Removal of Lincoln’s Inn Fields internal railings – correspondence with Fiona Dean

The Friends protested against the removal of the railings at a local area meeting to Councillors.  The view at the meeting at which several Fields users spoke was clearly in favour of retaining the railings.  There ensued the following exchange of emails:

1 – email to the Chair of the Friends from Fiona Dean Assistant Director Culture & Environment, Culture and Customer Directorate

From:…On Behalf Of Dean, Fiona

Sent: 23 August 2011 10:32

To: robert.mccracken

Cc: Hand, Walter; Kiddell, Shaun; Vincent, Sue (Councillor); Fulbrook, Julian (Councillor); Olad, Awale (Councillor)

Subject: Railings at Lincolns Inn Fields

Dear Robert,

Following the various discussions and meetings that I have had recently regarding the railings at Lincolns Inn Fields I write to advise that I have agreed to the removal of the railings as part of the upcoming path improvement works to the Fields. I have let the ward councillors know my decision and Cllr Fulbrook asked me to write to you, as he is now on holiday.

I have not taken this decision lightly and know from our conversation that the Friends of Lincolns Inn Fields will not happy with this decision. However I have carefully considered; the current dangerous condition of the railings; the English Heritage conditional grant funding we urgently require to improve the also deteriorating pathways; and the findings of a recent survey we undertook of park users. As previously advised I revisited the alternative solutions that confirmed that the railings were beyond repair and the cost of a replacement is around £86,000, funding we just don’t have.

The public consultation was unanimously in favour of the improvements and the removal of the railings. On the 28th and 29th July officers undertook a simple exercise to provide a ‘snapshot ‘of park users feelings toward the removal of the inner railings. Our park engagement officers interviewed visitors and completed a short questionnaire with 90 park users over the days. All 90 interviewees supported the planned improvements of the open space and the removal of the railings. The general comment from users was that they could not understand why the proposed removal of the railings would raise concern.

My core concern and responsibility is to ensure that the park is safe for all visitors. As you are aware, we have been sporadically removing sections of railings for some time, however it is now in such a poor condition that it needs to be immediately removed in is entirety. I have therefore asked Shaun Kiddell to include the railing removal in the works that we will carry out to improve the paths over the coming months.

We have tried to identify the disabled man who has been seen using the railings to get around the fields. Would you happen to know who he is as I’d like to see whether there is any support the Council or NHS can offer him?

I am confident that the improvements to Lincolns Inn Fields will be, in the fullness of time, welcomed as we take a further stop forward in restoring this heritage green space for residents and visitors.

Yours Sincerely


Fiona Dean
Assistant Director Culture and Customer Directorate – Culture & Environment
Culture and Environment
London Borough of Camden

2. Email from Chair of Friends to Fiona Dean

From: Robert McCracken QC
Sent: 23 August 2011 11:33

To: ‘Dean, Fiona’

Cc: Hand, Walter; Kiddell, Shaun; Vincent, Sue (Councillor); Fulbrook, Julian (Councillor); Olad, Awale (Councillor); Sue Palmer; Peter Dodge

Subject: RE: Railings at Lincolns Inn Fields

Dear Ms Dean,

I am disappointed

(1) by ‘your’ decision,

(2) your failure to let FLIF see any correspondence with English Heritage (in particular the early correspondence)

(3) your failure to undertake or supply to us any HSE analysis supporting your safety concerns

(4)your failure to consult with us about the methodology of the survey

(5) let us see the survey questionnaire

(6) let us see the survey result forms

(7) survey report and

(8) the fact that you claim to have made the decision rather than a Council committee Cabinet member. I would still like to see this material Please treat this as a FoI and EIR request for this material.

As this matter is highly controversial and there was a general view at the last local area meeting (attended by Cllr Vincent as well as Cllr Fulbrook) I do not think that you actually have the authority to make this decision. I would be grateful if you would make clear to which Cabinet member or council committee you are answerable—and let me have a copy of the report/note of decision which you have sent to him/her/it.

I cannot personally answer your question about the disabled individual. What sort of support for him in getting round LIF do you have in mind that Camden or the NHS can offer?

There arises now the important question of what alternative means should be adopted to provide separation to the 4 quarters and to reduce so far as possible the likely damage to grass from the difference between desire lines and paths (unlike at Russell Square). Cllr Fulbrook suggested at the lunch a hedge. This is worthy of serious consideration.

Robert McCracken QC

Chair FLIF

3. Follow up email from Chair of Friends to Fiona Dean

From: Robert McCracken QC
Sent: 14 September 2011 14:00
To: ‘Dean, Fiona’

Cc: Fulbrook, Julian (Councillor); Olad, Awale (Councillor); Vincent, Sue (Councillor); Hand, Walter; ‘Dean, Fiona’; Peter Dodge; Sue Palmer

Subject: FW: Information request (ref: 7315447)

Dear Ms Dean,

I am disappointed that you still have not supplied me so long after my request with the material which I requested. It confirms my suspicion that such material as does exist doesn’t support the position which you have taken.

I am even more disappointed that you have not responded at all to my suggestion that you adopt Councillor Fulbrook’s idea that a hedge or some other means of enclosure should replace the railings if removed. This would deal with the problems which you believe to justify the removal of the railings but provide some sense of enclosure and security for the 4 quadrants and reduce the problem of desire lines not corresponding with the paths.

Robert McCracken QC
Chair, Friends of Lincoln’s Inn Fields


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