Monday, 7 January 2008

This could be the year for small voices

As thousands of people geared to celebrate the new year, a small group of traders at Queens Market in Newham met to demonstrate against plans to demolish the place and put up flats and a new market.

Called Friends of Queens Market, the group says Newhams Council’s plans will hit poor and ethnic people most.

Newham Council says a new Equality Impact Assessment will be undertaken in the future.

The traders are quite brave to challenge big development plans in a borough buzzing with regeneration, possibly for the sake of the 2012 Olympics.

Already leisure centres are being revamped and a zero carbon residential scheme has been launched in the Royal Docks.

As we enter 2008, there are broader challenges facing most boroughs in East London such as unemployment, crime and housing.

Will those in authority listen to a group of market traders who are challenging big plans? There’s a chance they will.

In 2007 disadvangted people that were ignored in the past were heard – and even helped.

For example, last month the government announced a programme to boost the number of role models for young black men. The move is an outcome of a REACH report which states that often, their role models are rap stars who glamorise guns.

Also, the London Development Authority deceided to fund a development scheme for hundreds of blind and partially visually impaired people to get help start and sustain a business.

The friends of Queens Market have been campaigning for a while now, and I’d like to believe 2008 will be the year things change for the traders and the many struggling voices in East London.

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