Sunday, 31 July 2011

Leabank Square Swans - The Latest!

Just look at the last remaining cygnet now!! It's almost as big as Mum & Dad!

The swans have left the nest here in Leabank Square - and sleep further downstream - next to Omega Works each night. This was inevitable - as unfortunately - they were getting a load of harassment from a few of the kids. So Mum & Dad packed up & took Junior off to safer pastures.

But they make at least two stop-overs during the day as they sail past going upstream every day. More or less about 8am - and again at about 3pm. As you can see - Dad has gotten a load more chilled now that Junior is getting larger - and is taking food from Nadira's hand now - but Mum & Junior are still a bit too nervous to try this. They do - however - get very close.

It's so sweet to see the parents not rushing in for the food - but allowing Junior to have his fill first. Once they think he's had enough - they then start taking for themselves.

As far as food goes - they seem to prefer wholemeal bread - and ignore white of pitta bread. I've been doing some research - and it seems okay to give them bread - as swans get most of their food from the bottom of the river anyway - and top it up with some of our bread. So feel free to take a few slices up to the riverbank.

Juniors feathers are still a mix of downy & teen shoots - so it will be a few more months before he can fly - but occasionally Mum or Dad flexes their wings and goes for a bit of a flight. Junior gets a bit excited at watching this - stretching his wings and flapping about a bit.

Anyhow - please go up to the riverbank and enjoy our stunning new neighbours - before winter makes them think of maybe heading somewhere warmer.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Olympic Legacy - Leabank Square's Concerns.

A few days ago - Caroline Davies came to Hackney Wick to do a story about our concerns for the future of the Wick a year before the games. She spoke to many people - but concentrated on James in the fabulous Hackney Pearl, the ever entertaining Al in White Post Lane - and me here in Leabank Square.

Of course - no journalist can ever capture the sheer cliff-like monstrosity of the Olympic site that faces us - but I tried to put across what most of us feel about the architecture.

More than anything - I spoke about what we all want after the games. Leabank Square has always had the short straw as far as the construction work is concerned. We were the first to have buildings constructed - pulled down - re-constructed, pulled down again - and now rebuilding yet more temporary buildings directly opposite us - again for them to be demolished.

then - we have about 5 more years of be-designing & building whoever takes over the media centre as well.

There is not one part of the Olympic site that will have had noise, dust & mayhem - only to be left with the most underwhelming architecture for us to stare at for many decades to come!!

I told Caroline all this - and I think she did a very good article on balance. She got over what most of us feel about all the decade of disruption the Olympics have brought to Leabank Square.

For link to the article - see:

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Art for Leabank Square Green

Have you seen the very clever art exhibition on our green?

At 1st glance it might just seem to be an orange plank - until you take a walk around the rest of Hackney Wick & Fish Island.

You will notice a few more orange pieces dotted all around the streets.

They are the work of the brilliant new artist Rowan Durrant. He has identified a few places where something has just been neglected - and has put them right - but in orange.

We all know that PMMS have completely neglected Leabank Square for years - and have left some parts to rot away and decay. For this privilege - we have paid them shedloads of 'service' charge. The bench on the green has been broken for 3 years - and despite several attempts to get them to fix it - it takes an artist who doesn't even live here - to get it done.

He's done the same in a few other spots around our streets. Signs the councils have just left broken - 'street furniture' the authorities have just never bothered to replace, rails etc.
So whether you see our new installation as art, a message to some one in so called authority that they have failed, an audit of how western 'civilisation' is just not bothered - whatever your take is - just get out there and do it!!

Make your own art!

Please see:

Friday, 8 July 2011

Olympic Noise & Dust - Part 2012

Hi Robert

I hope that Hackney is being sufficiently environmentally well behaved of late – and not causing you & your team any extra work. I tried to contact you many times today - but the phone just rang & rang.

I’m writing on behalf of several residents concerned about recent noise & dust levels over the canal.


As a resident neighbour of the Olympic park – I am finding it increasingly difficult to hear myself think during the day – and have to blow my nose of disgusting gunk many times a day.

I’m aware that both the ODA & Thames Water are sharing Arena Fields for the foreseeable future – and we as lay neighbours have no way of distinguishing who is doing what. But that is slightly irrelevant – as all work is being carried out in the Olympic park – and as such – needs to be seen to by you.

The mission-creep I have spoken to you of many times - has returned in the now 7.30am trucks running along Arena Fields. The agreement was for an 8am start for heavy machinery to fire up their engines.

During the day – the noise levels are extremely high – and we urgently need your mobile noise monitoring team to come down & check their levels. (On that – please contact me for a key for the new lock – as somebody vandalised & stole the old lock & chain).


Of course no-one can predict the weather – least of all us gardeners. But a major construction site should have all manner of mitigating measures in place for any eventuality.

The ODA have a few bowsers trundling along the ring road every now & then – which I suppose is for their own drivers dust free journeys. All the dust lifting off and landing in our lungs is coming straight off the huge mounds of sand on Arena Fields.

Occasionally we have seen some kind of sprayer trying to dampen down the mounds – but not anywhere near enough! When you stand up on the riverbank – you can actually see the sand being blown across into Leabank Square. There is absolutely no attempt by the teams working right up against the electric fence to water any of their earth-works down at all.

All the neighbours I have spoken to have said that there has been a marked increase in dust inside our homes.

Robert – I really try to keep our correspondence down to reasonable levels – but things are building up to a peak again.

We all received the Thames Water flyer this morning about extended working hours on this & next weekend. I thought the agreement was for any extended working hours inside the Olympic park to be flagged up at least 2 weeks in advance – so that we can make some alternative arrangements for our noise & dust free evening meals? How did this arrangement slip through your normally tight net?

Leabank Square has always had the worst of all the Olympic construction by-products:

They chopped down our orchard & nuttery in Arena Fields.
The horrible soil washing plant was set up directly opposite us (initially planned to operate till 8pm!)
The intimidating electric fence was put up with intrusive CCTV cameras.
The temporary ring-road took more green space away.
The massive grey drab media centre was constructed directly in front of us.
The temporary welfare centre was plonked in front of us.
The temporary welfare centre was demolished.
The last trees were felled.
The water main is being dug up & replaced.
The massive temporary journo’s catering compound is being constructed directly in front of us.

Robert – there isn’t another part of the Olympic park that has had so many different activities happen in such a concentrated area. And as far as we can tell – this was all done with the bare minimum noise & dust mitigation.

No matter what readings their gadgets have given – we can hear the noise – and feel the dust – and both are way higher than any of our friends who do not live in Leabank Square quality of life.

I trust you will look into the concerns we have – and get back to me as soon as possible.

Dear Geoff Bailey

My name is Sóna Abantu-Choudhury and I live in Leabank Square in Hackney Wick.
This is directly opposite the new water mains you are busy laying along the Lea River Navigational Canal in the Olympic Park.

This morning we all received a flyer from you stating that you have received Hackney Council permission to work all the way through this & next weekend. Several of us residents have spent all day calling the number on your flyer - but had to listen to your music instead.

We all object to these new construction times in the strongest terms!!

The work you have been carrying out along the canal has been exceedingly difficult for us to bear for the past few months – and we’ve bared & grinned it – in the hope that you would just get on with it and finish the work as soon as possible.

This has obviously not happened!

This weekend we have planned an annual barbecue on our riverbank – for which we are frantically trying to contact as many residents as possible to postpone.

We had always had an agreement with the ODA that any weekend work would be given in writing to us at least 2 weeks in advance – so that this kind of thing simply cannot happen.

In addition to this – your workers have never ever seen fit to provide any kind of mitigation whatsoever while carrying out this pipe laying. There has never been an attempt to erect any sound barriers. There has never been an attempt to water down any of the sand & dust you create.

This is making our lives completely unbearable – and now you want to do it on the only days we have free to enjoy a barbecue.

Please reflect on all this – and get back to me with a suitable reply.


Sóna Abantu-Choudhury