CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Stop the construction work in Oriel Place, councillor demands

'Non-essential work should be shut down'

31 March, 2020 — By Richard Osley

A CONSERVATIVE councillor is fighting officials over the refusal to stop work on “non essential” building sites during the coronavirus lockdown.

Stephen Stark has called on the council’s top brass to intervene as teams continued a ‘garden improvement’ project on the council-owned land in Oriel Place, Hampstead.

Passers-by have said they are worried about how close workers were to each other and Cllr Stark believes the scheme’s completion should wait until the government-ordered restrictions on movement are lifted.

He said: “The decision to keep Camden Council-owned non-essential sites open is being made by Camden officers safely working from the comfort of their homes.  It is no good officers blaming the government.”

Cllr Stark, one of the ward councillors for Hampstead Town, added: “Camden Council should be doing the right thing and closing this and other Camden Council owned non essential work sites without further delay and allow those workers to go home and protect themselves, their families and others.”

So concerned about the state of play, he has taken his complaint to the most senior officers at the Town Hall.

Oriel Place is a pedestrianised mews off Hampstead High Street where a previously gated garden behind a branch of Gail’s bakery is being opened up to the public. Antiques fences and gates are coming down as part of a new plaza design, but residents have raised concerns that the changes – once finished – will lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour in the courtyard.

A council press official said: “Current Government guidance for the construction industry and its employees is that works are allowed to continue. Delivering new community spaces like Oriel Place is a long-term priority for Camden, however our immediate concern is ensuring the health and wellbeing of our residents.”

They added: “This is why we are calling on the Government to provide clarity for the construction industry and offer assurances similar to those we have seen put in place for other businesses and their employees. Until then we will continue to stay in touch with our own contractors who are being actively reminded to follow the latest public health guidance and to make their sites safe for both their employees and the public.”

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