Public Meeting against the use of Chambers Wharf by Thames Water

Join the Save Your Riverside Action Group in Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1 2AA on 25th June from 6.00pm to 8.00pm.

Chaired by our GLA representative, Val Shawcross, this meeting will reaffirm our opposition to the use of Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey as a major drilling and reception site for building the Thames Tunnel.

Speakers will include Peter John, the Leader of Southwark Council and Simon Hughes MP both of whom are vigorously opposed.

Phil Stride, Head of Thames Tideway Tunnels will answer audience questions about their intentions for the site.

Make every effort to come. A strong showing is needed to let Thames Water know how we feel about blighting our area for seven years of major industrial work.

If you plan to attend please arrive 15 minutes early to allow time to get through security.

Map of City Hall

Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1

Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1

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School children present the Save Your Riverside petition to Thames Water

Today, representatives from ‘Save Your Riverside’ met with Phil Stride, Head of London Tideway Tunnels and Beth Warmington from Thames Water at Riverside Primary School which overlooks Chambers Wharf.

Phil Stride (left) accepts the Save Your Riverside petition

Phil Stride (left) accepts the Save Your Riverside petition

Several school children and staff from Riverside Primary School today voiced their strong opposition to the super sewer at Chambers Wharf by personally handing over the ‘Save Your Riverside’ petition to Thames Water. Josie, aged 8, asked Phil Stride why he wanted to build the super sewer in Chambers Wharf to which Phil explained that one of the benefits of the scheme is that it would make sure so many fish didn’t die.

The proposed construction will put the children’s health at risk through thousands of lorry movements, dust and noise pollution disrupting their education for the next 10-11 years.  

Jose Lewis, Co-Head of the school said: “Should the construction go ahead a generation of school children will have lorries going past their classrooms every five minutes for the whole time they are at Riverside Primary School.”

Phil Stride stated “We are very aware of the concerns about Riverside Primary School and how close it is to our currently preferred site at Chambers Wharf. We are listening to feedback and will take into account everyone’s comments before announcing our final proposed sites in the summer.”

Despite only a few months of petition time we have managed to collect an astounding 2000 signatures.

At a meeting held earlier this month with the Governors of Riverside Primary School including Cllr Peter John; Phil Stride admitted it was possible to construct the Thames Tunnel without a site in Southwark but that it was not their “preferred engineering solution”.

Should the work go ahead at Chambers Wharf it would not start until 2015/2016 and then it would go on for at least 7-8 years. There would be 3 years of 24/7 construction right next to thousands of residents and school children. After that there would be a further 3 years of construction for residential properties and so our community would have to suffer at least 11-12 years of construction which is unacceptable.

Our message to Thames Water is that Chambers Wharf is not necessary as a construction site for the proposed super sewer and we have proved that Thames Water can implement a solution that does not require a site in Southwark. Please listen to us and these children, our future generation, who do not want our lives or their lives disrupted by the super sewer when viable alternatives are available to “save the fish”. Avoid unnecessarily devastating thousands of lives for so many years.

Even though we’ve handed in our petition it remains open. Please do continue to sign our petition, as every signature sends a message to Thames Water and say no to a super sewer site at Chambers Wharf.

Thanks everyone for your help thus far – the fight continues.

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Update on meeting at Wade Hall

On 6th February 2012 we held our final public meeting before the end of the Phase 2 consultation at Wade Hall in the Dickens Estate which borders the threatened Chambers Wharf site. The meeting was attended by over 130 members of the public.

Our main speakers were the Rt. Hon. Simon Hughes MP and Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council.

Simon Hughes MP "We ought to persuade all those who have a responsibility to find another site and not Chambers Wharf"

Simon Hughes MP "We ought to persuade all those who have a responsibility to find another site and not Chambers Wharf"

Simon Hughes stated that he has a duty not only for his constituents but also for the people in London as whole and that he has been listening to views from all sides including groups that were strongly in favour of the tunnel.

Simon said he had been persuaded by meetings with ‘Save Your Riverside’ and other affected constituents that there is now a much stronger argument than previously to say to Government “hang on a minute, there is now so much evidence questioning whether the long tunnel is the right answer, there must be a review”. Simon recognised that Chambers Wharf would be one of the most heavily impacted sites currently proposed by Thames Water. Accordingly he said he would seek political support from London colleagues, and from Defra ministers, for setting up an independent group of high-powered experts to re-examine the case for the Thames Tunnel.

Simon said “I hope you can hear very clearly that I’ve gone from a position a year ago that I think the evidence is clear that on balance it ought to go ahead to have been persuaded by the evidence that I have been presented with that this is not an obvious a cut and dried case anymore.” Simon also highlighted that Professor Binnie (who chaired the original official study recommending the long tunnel) “has changed his mind” and had raised questions about the viability of the whole project.

Finally, Simon went on to say “There are thousands of residents that are affected locally. That must raise the question about if Chambers Wharf is the right site and my conclusion is that we ought to persuade all those who have a responsibility to find another site and not Chambers Wharf”. He said he would respond to the Thames Water consultation on along these lines.

Cllr Peter John “It's been blindingly obvious that Chambers Wharf is an unacceptable site from the moment TW selected=

Cllr Peter John “It's been blindingly obvious that Chambers Wharf is an unacceptable site from the moment TW selected it as their preferred site.”

Cllr Peter John welcomed the move by Simon as did the members of the public by saying “I would have welcomed having our MP on our side from day one and not from day ninety-one. But better late than never.”

Peter informed the now captivated audience that ‘Save Your Riverside’ had recently brought a deputation to Southwark Council and that the motion he had proposed to “Save Chambers Wharf” was unanimously supported by all councillors across all the political parties in the chamber saying “I think it’s very important for you to know that there is absolutely no equivocation in the argument resisting Thames Water’s proposed use Chambers Wharf. So we really are on your side.”

Peter then reported on a recent meeting he had with Thames Water at Riverside Primary School (which is the 10th best Primary School in the whole of the UK according to the Sunday Times) and told the audience that at this meeting he had challenged Phil Stride, of Thames Water, asking if it were possible to use a hybrid tunnel boring machine to tunnel from Abbey Mills to Battersea without the need for a site in Chambers Wharf. The answer was that Phil Stride had begrudgingly admitted that this was possible but stated that it was “not their preferred engineering solution”.

Perhaps most insulting was the fact that Thames Water had offered to install secondary glazing at the school to mitigate against the noise should the works go ahead. Clearly Thames Water does not realise or care that the school (which is an English Heritage listed building) and local residents need to open their windows in the hot summer months and that the noise and pollution from the lorries going past the classrooms every five minutes may have an adverse effect on the health and academic performance of the pupils as well as local residents who live near Chambers Wharf.

Sir Patrick Stewart questions the finances of the Thames Tunnel

Sir Patrick Stewart questions the finances of the Thames Tunnel

There were several questions from the public. Sir Patrick Stewart questioned the financing of this £4.1bn project as did others and several members of the public accused Thames Water of making decisions that were not being made in alignment with the public interest. Thames Water is accountable only to their shareholders and not the public. Its controlling stake is held by an Australian investment bank, with recent additional involvement of sovereign wealth funds of China and Abu Dhabi who may not have the British consumer’s best interest at heart. There were further suggestions that Thames Water and its financial backers may be motivated and have incentives to make the project more expensive than it needs to be in order to maximise their profits at our expense.

Another member of the public questioned the “preferred engineering solution” asking if this was driven by financial considerations rather than social and environmental considerations. Apparently a Thames Water insider had revealed that our water bills would increase not by £85 a year but by £200 a year to pay for the scheme. Simon Hughes agreed that the financial and accountability issues concerning a private company acting as a monopoly public utility but driven by commercial and shareholder interest should form part of the review he advocates.

It was also suggested that St. Michael’s R.C. Secondary school which also overlooks the site is in secret negotiations with Berkeley Group (who purchased Chambers Wharf jointly with Thames Water) to expand the school creating a sixth form college on the south side of Chambers Street which would mean the affordable housing planned for this area would be in jeopardy or would the affordable housing merely be moved next to the ventilation shafts that Thames Water cannot guarantee won’t emit a malodorous stench? Peter John said he would look into this matter.

Earlier in the day Nick Tennant from Thames Water informed us that the Phase 2 consultation deadline will not be extended beyond February 10th and that even though the Phase 1 consultation had an extension of two weeks and that Mayor Boris Johnson had asked Defra to tell Thames Water to extend the deadline this phase would not be extended because it would be “too expensive”. Clearly the community around Chambers Wharf are not being treated fairly by Thames Water who doesn’t care about our community and only care about their potential £100m a year profit that they can make from the tunnel should it go ahead.

At the end of the evening both Simon Hughes and Peter John had pledged their support for the community around Chambers Wharf.

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Public meeting Wade Hall 6th February

Join the Save Your Riverside Action Group at Wade Hall, Parkers Row SE1 2DH on 6th February 7.30pm

Following Southwark Council’s unanimous support for the motion to oppose the use of Chambers Wharf for a super sewer site, join us for our final meeting of this phase and help stop Thames Water destroying our community.


View Wade Hall in a larger map

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Simon Hughes MP, meets residents around Chambers Wharf

On Sunday, representatives from ‘Save Your Riverside’ including Sir Patrick Stewart met with Simon Hughes MP, Cllr Anood Al-Sameri and Cllr Eliza Mann for a walk about around Chambers Wharf to meet with local residents who would have their lives devastated should Thames Water’s proposals for Chambers Wharf go ahead.

Simon Hughes meets residents around Chambers Wharf

Simon Hughes MP, centre, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai (left of Simon), Sir Patrick Stewart and Cllr Eliza Mann (right of Simon)

The group met with residents who live in Fountain Green Square, Bermondsey Wall East, Bevington Street, Chambers Street, East Lane and Bermondsey Wall West.

In the very peaceful Bevington Street, children played on their bicycles blissfully ignorant that one day the area might be a no go area for them due to “super sewer” trucks going down their street every five minutes.

Simon Hughes takes notes in a garden in Bevington Street

Simon Hughes takes notes in a garden in Bevington Street

The group were invited into homes surrounding the site and Simon listened to the concerns of the residents, whilst taking lots of notes.

Local resident, Judith M. whose home in Bevington Street overlooks Chambers Wharf was very concerned about the potential noise that would go on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Judith, who would not be able to open her windows, should the construction go ahead, had no confidence that Thames Water’s “Warehouse type structure” would stop the noise.

As the group walked up the Thames Path in Chambers Street it was very clear that should the construction go ahead the area around Chambers Street would be an accident waiting to happen for the cyclists, walkers and commuters.

Katie and David B. (centre) - We just can’t move away

Katie and David B. (centre) - We just can’t move away

Katie and David B. who live in Chambers Street told Simon Hughes that they were extremely concerned about the number of lorries that would have to serve the site and that they feared the noise would be unbearable.

Katie said “My baby daughter will be 15 years old when the construction is completed having lived her entire childhood overlooking a construction site. Just moving away is not a simple option as our property is shared ownership.”

Simon Hughes indicated that he understood the threats both to the local amenity and environment, and to the health of local residents, posed by Thames Water’s proposals and would take the feedback he’d received from local residents on board in forming his position on the scheme.

Simon Hughes will be attending our final public meeting, prior to the end of the Phase 2 consultation, in the Dickens Estate at Wade Hall on February 6th at 8pm along with Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John.

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Public Meeting for Chambers Wharf at City Hall

Val Shawcross, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark

Val Shawcross, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark

Join the Save Your Riverside Action Group along with Phil Stride and Richard Alyard from Thames Water at our next public meeting on Thursday 19th January and have your say on the proposed use of Chambers Wharf as one of the largest and most disruptive construction sites for the Thames Tunnel super sewer.

Please come along and help save the highly residential Chambers Wharf area from becoming an industrial zone.

The meeting will start at 8.00pm in Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1 2AA and is being hosted and chaired by Val Shawcross, London Assembly member for Lambeth and Southwark.

Thames Water will also be hosting a public exhibition on the Thames Tunnel super sewer proposals from 2pm – 8pm at City Hall as part of their Phase 2 consultation.

If you plan to come just for the meeting please arrive 15 minutes early to allow time to get through security.

Map of City Hall

Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1

Committee Room 5 at City Hall, 110 The Queens Walk, LONDON, SE1

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Message from Sir Patrick Stewart OBE

Downstream from Tower Bridge on the south side of the river is one of the big success stories of London.
The regeneration that has occurred here is extraordinary. An area that was once abandoned, deserted rat infested warehouses is now a place of pleasant homes, restaurants and bars. A place visited by tourists, visitors to London as well as Londoners themselves. There are three schools in this area.

But, if the work that Thames Water is proposing goes ahead at Chambers Wharf it will transform this very pleasant, tranquil area into an industrial site [for 7 years] (the movement of lorries, the plans for the working hours potentially 3 years 24/7 and beyond that the extended hours up to 11 o’clock at night.)

In the river, behind me, will be built a cofferdam extending 50m out into the river where the waste from the tunnelling will be put into barges. There is no doubt that the river tranquillity which you can experience right now is going to be transformed and truly devastated by this work should it go ahead.

There are alternatives and you will find those alternatives expressed on our website, so please, have a look and support our campaign, if you can.

Thank you.
Sir Patrick Stewart OBE

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Debating Chambers Wharf

Approximately 100 people attended the last day of Thames Water’s drop-in consultation event at the Beormund Community Centre, even though it’s nowhere near the proposed major construction site at Chambers Wharf.

Visitors included representatives from ‘Save Your Riverside’ who were present all day discussing (with the public and Thames Water) alternative solutions to the proposed use of Chambers Wharf, which would have no impact on Southwark.

We won't buy your property just because you don't fancy living next to a building site

We won't buy your property just because you don't fancy living next to a building site

Members of the public were extremely interested to hear about what we had to say about the short tunnel option which Thames Water representatives either dismissed or didn’t know about.

One extremely upset and furious local resident, who lives in the Dickens Estate, told Beth Warmington and Richard Evins of Thames Water that she could not re-mortgage her property because her bank had taken a dim view of the proposed tunnel which would go right underneath her flat and as a result had devalued her flat. Now she has to pay a much higher interest rate for her mortgage.

Not only is she experiencing financial hardship (which Thames Water have no compensation policy for) she had not even received any notification of the drop-in sessions from Thames Water and felt that this inability to send letters to affected residents meant this consultation was half baked.

We can't live with the Thames Water Super Sewer - No to Chambers Wharf

We can't live with the Thames Water Super Sewer - No to Chambers Wharf

Another local who lives in Webster Road was very concerned at the proposal that the tunnel was going to be constructed underneath his flat and could not understand why Thames Water were proposing bringing sewage from Greenwich into Southwark (via a tunnel underneath his flat) only then for the sewage to be sent back to Beckton in a complete U-turn. When he asked how deep the tunnel was going to be the Thames Water representative didn’t know.

An elderly woman who lives near King’s Stairs Gardens had an exceptionally heated debate with Thames Water about the proposed use of Chambers Wharf. When Thames Water explained they preferred to use brownfield sites vs. greenfield sites she highlighted in a most assertive manner that having to extend Chambers Wharf 50m, by way of building a cofferdam into the river, meant that not only was this residential site too small but that the river was greenfield!

Another couple who live in Bevington Street claimed that having a construction site for 7 years with all the noise, pollution and drilling right outside their bedroom window was an infringement of their human rights and they said “No to 24/7 pollution, noise and drilling”.

At the end of the day we added to the signatures for our petition and we’d like to thank everyone who signed our paper petition. Every signature counts and if you haven’t signed our petition you can do so online here.

Don’t forget, we can still change Thames Water’s mind and you can still submit your feedback to Thames Water via their website.

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Update on meeting at Riverside Primary School

Peter John "No to Thames Water and their current proposals"

Peter John "We must all say no to Thames Water and their current proposals"

At our meeting at Riverside Primary School,  Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council made it very clear that Thames Water should not use a site in Southwark to build their super sewer at the expense of the residents and that he felt this is not a price that we should be asked to pay. Furthermore, Peter highlighted the fact that our water bills will increase by at least £70 per year (and would never revert back to original level) if Thames Water’s proposed solution was implemented.

Peter then went onto explain that when he discovered Chambers Wharf was being considered as a super sewer site he questioned whether we needed the proposed tunnel, in its proposed form at his time and at this cost (£4.1bn) and decided to jointly sponsor the Selborne Commission with other London councils.

Peter John’s closing remarks

Philip Miller "It is unethical and immoral to allow Thames Water and the Super-Sewer to own our lives and the lives of our children until 2023"

Philip Miller "It is unethical and immoral to allow Thames Water and the Super-Sewer to own our lives and the lives of our children until 2023"

Philip Miller spoke about the local impact a site in Chambers Wharf would have on Bermondsey highlighting the fact that Thames Water’s plans for Chambers Wharf are now far worse than they ever were for King’s Stairs Gardens as Thames Water are now considering using Chambers Wharf as a main drive site. Also as the site is too small it would have to be extended 50m into the river by using a cofferdam.

The public were also told that although Thames Water have advised the number of potential lorry visits (to/from the site), from a resident’s perspective, it’s the number journeys that really matter as they would get disturbed/endangered twice. There would be up to 90 lorry journeys a day which is up to one every 5 minutes. It was also mentioned that Phil Stride of Thames Water, had previously advised that Thames Water could not guarantee that the lorries would not use George Row which has a history of subsidence and has only just been repaired.

One of the key messages was that Chambers Wharf is not an appropriate site as it is too close to residents and schools. Everyone was encouraged to go the Beormund Centre consultations to give their feedback to Thames Water.

Rita Cruise-O’Brien announced there would be further public meetings arranged before the end of the consultation, including one with Thames Water.

You can download a PDF of the slides used here.

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Public meeting Riverside Primary School 23rd November

Join the Save Your Riverside Action Group team at our next public meeting at Riverside Primary School, Farncombe Street/Emba Street entrance SE16 4PS on 23rd November 2011 at 8pm.

We’ll be providing an important briefing on Thames Water’s plans for Chambers Wharf, covering how this will potentially impact you, why a site is not necessary in Southwark and what you can do to object.




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