A deafening silence

In her latest column, Marlowe Road Estate resident Michelle Edwards demands answers on the fate of Wood Street Library

Marlowe Road Estate plans

How Marlowe Road Estate will look after redevelopment

Is that the truth, or will I have to go digging? That’s the question I repeat to myself every time a word is uttered by a member of council staff these days.

The same wariness applies to any emails. Have you ever heard two separate accounts of the same thing and become agitated at the glaring differences? Or suspected someone is trying hard to mug you off? That’s where I am at the moment.

Take the local library ‘improvement programme’ discussed at April’s steering group meeting. Having previously been briefed about a sneaky proposal to close the current Wood Street Library building and relocate it within the Marlowe Road Estate development, I had submitted six questions back in December 2016. The project manager for libraries responded the following month employing woolly words such as ‘proposed’ and ‘estimated’. Nothing definitive.

Successive questions submitted last October remain unanswered in defiance of multiple emails and telephone calls placed to the business support team manager’s mobile. More directly, I put the question to Countryside’s design and build manager. Using the Development Management Update Report of November 2015, I queried what was referred to as ‘D1 (library)’ in paragraph 1.2. I don’t know who died, but there was a deathly silence from the development partners.

A second attempt triggered a straight answer by a council official, who said the current Wood Street Library site would close and that three out of the seven new commercial units for Marlowe Road had been acquired to house the new library.

Across the meetings I have attended since 2014, the only units ever mentioned were the post office and the Co-operative shop. There are several questions one might ask, but I only had one: Why was this detail on the library hidden? “We thought everybody knew,” was the unconvincing response.

Meanwhile, the council continue to push the narrative that “there will be enough housing for every secure council tenant who wishes to remain on the estate”. So far 105 have been shunted elsewhere (Chingford, a favourite). Each ‘decanting update’ is delivered with glee. Disposing of residents like cattle is treated with phrases like “I’ve got some good news” or “we’re on target” as if talking about commodities.

I feel as outraged now as I did back in December 2016 when this column began.