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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No Room For Sentimentality In Dalston

Just a few of the thousands of trees we cut down each yearThe usual suspects - Hackney's motley crew of Maoists, Trotskyists, Anarchists, Livingstonites, Tories and LibDems - are moaning again about the demolition work in Dalston, see postings passim.

This time it's not the fact that we are knocking down a crumbly old Georgian theatre and a former Caribbean music venue of esoteric historical interest that has got their goat up. It's the fact that we have, reluctantly, had to chop down a few trees.

As most residents know, we chop down trees all the time. Thousand of them. Whereas we make sure that the local peasantry are served with tree preservation orders the moment they propose anything reckless such as stopping a branch from breaking a bedroom window, our role as the Council is to make sure that civil progress is not obstructed by stupid green issues or the whimsy of hairy cyclists.

I have every sympathy with Charles Collins, former co-manager of the Four Aces nightclub, who planted these trees. If it wasn't for the desperate urgency of Dalston to press ahead with the much-needed 19-storey tower block of luxury flats, I would have tried to find some other solution to the problem, involving relocation of said greenery.

The New Cross arson attack in 1981 when 14 young black Londoners lost their livesThe really diabolical issue in all of this is the criminal way in which the trouble-makers have been exploiting the fact that Charles Collins lost his son in the New Cross fire disaster of January 1981 and the trees were planted in memory of those who lost their lives in this tragic arson attack.

As Labour Group Chief Whip I take a firm stand on this sort of political manipulation. It puts me in mind of the former slogan of the Communist Party of Great Britain, "People Before Profit". It's idealism. We'd all like to see people put before profit, but not at the expense of the progress and development that Hackney desperately needs if the books are to be squared, visitors to the Olympic Games to be protected from exposure to unpleasant sights and Labour Councillors to keep their jobs serving the community.

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