At the Council meeting held on July 21st, a majority of councillors voted to approve the building of 600 new homes alongside a new school and GP surgery on the Oakfield playfields and to ‘re-provision’ those playing pitches elsewhere. Ilford North MP, Wes Streeting, sets out his position on the issue:
"I do not support this plan and, as I am still a councillor until 2018, I voted against it. I have been working closely with Save Oakfield campaigners and I am concerned at the potential loss of such a wonderful community asset that serves thousands of people in our community. The pitches are of an exceptionally high standard, which is why so many national sporting bodies are concerned about their loss.
"These pitches are also home to a community where thousands of young people get fit, make friends and even go on to national sporting careers. They're supported by volunteers who make the place run like clockwork. And I also share the concerns of residents around Barkingside about the potential for increased congestion.
"There are many aspects of the wider Local Plan that I welcome, not least the plan to regenerate Ilford town centre with new homes and retail opportunities. The Local Plan overall will deliver new homes, community infrastructure that we need and has tougher planning rules to stop the proliferation of betting shops, pay day lenders and chicken shops. But I couldn’t vote for a plan that included building on our local playing fields.
"The fight to Save Oakfield isn’t over. There is a public consultation running until 30th September 2016. I’d strongly encourage you to have your say by clicking here. I will also do what I can through Parliament to apply pressure at the later stages of the process.
"By voting against the Local Plan I have gone against my Party on the Council, but I have always taken the view that councillors and MPs should put the interests of the community that elects them over and above ‘toeing the party line’. I promised I would stand up for Ilford North and I will continue to do so.
"You can listen to my speech at the Full Council by clicking here."