‘COLPAI building works should be halted during coronavirus outbreak’


At 8pm Thursday night last week Golden Lane Estate residents came out on their balconies to salute the NHS and all our key workers: care givers, doctors, nurses, postmen, bus drivers, emergency plumbers, supermarket staff… all those people we’d be screwed without. 

This collective clapping, cheering and saucepan banging helped bolster our commitment to stay at home for the long weekend ahead. You know, do our bit. 

Last week Billy Mann (previous chronicler for Golden Lane Estate) and I thought this column had pretty much written itself. 

Following up on our first one touching on wellness, community, working together, we were planning to celebrate how our estate was doing what it always does, looking out for each other and pooling our collective skills for the better good. 

We’ve done some big stuff alongside all our usual neighbourliness. We’ve set up a central HUB so anyone who wants to help or needs help can be put in touch with a neighbour, and have worked with Barbican residents and Age Concern UK City of London to set up of the Square Mile Food Bank (now operating out of the Golden Lane Community Centre). 

We’re all really trying, being humbled and inspired in equal measure; our neighbour who stacks shelves at the local supermarket is right now more important than an award winning architect (and we have plenty of those!). 

So our plans for a feel good column were thrown off course by the news that COLPAI, the development to the north of the estate is, as of Tuesday, back at work after a two week shut down. 

The Denizen, just 100 metres down Golden Lane, closed their site weeks ago, announcing it was doing so “due to the pandemic… and the health risk it presents to all people”.

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Just what you would expect from a decent employer; “all people” obviously includes their own workers, their families and other people they come in contact with.

There’s been no similar correspondence from COLPAI (read the statement here).

In fact an earlier two-week shut down was forced upon them, probably as a result of incriminating photographs – the site workers were in no way protected. And the really depressing bit? This is a City Corporation development.

Almost all City Corporation staff are now working from home, but when it comes to construction workers it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that the cost associated with a non-essential project falling further behind is more important than site worker well being, or ours.

We don’t want to know the business argument for ignoring the calls of the Mayor of London and our local MP for all non-essential construction site work to stop; what is the moral position?

Everyone wants lockdown to end but when we look at the modelling and how long that could take, we have to factor in some recovery time for our NHS staff and all care givers; they can’t keep working at this intensity. 

How many more pleas to do we have to hear from emergency room staff asking us to stay at home unless our work is essential? The only safe way forward is to do as they ask.

Main image: Paul Drinkwater.

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