Packed: the forum was held in a cramped meeting room. Photograph: Mike Hood

A London Fields ward forum was abandoned amid chaotic scenes on Monday night after furious residents and a local councillor were left stranded outside the packed venue.

It is the second time in two years that a forum has been called off at Queensbridge Sports and Community Centre due to lack of space.

A poster for the event promised updates on proposals for a controversial cycle scheme that could see 18 roads closed to traffic, as well as the council’s plans for Broadway Market.

Cathy Hood of the Mapledene Area Residents’ Association (MARA) said: “We are supposed to have three [forums] every year, but this is the first one we have had this this year.

“None of them [ward councillors] want to front it. The exact same thing has happened before. There were people standing outside the leisure centre who couldn’t get in.”

Ten minutes after the scheduled 7pm start, locals were still trying to make their way into a cramped meeting room inside the centre on Holly Street.

Ward councillor and deputy mayor Anntoinette Bramble tried to kick off proceedings twice, before the meeting was abandoned after a majority of attendees demanded it be moved to a bigger venue.

One councillor, Emma Plouviez, was left standing outside, unable to get into the room.

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble.

Deputy Mayor and London Fields ward councillor Anntoinette Bramble

In a statement, Deputy Mayor Bramble said: “I am very disappointed that as local councillors we are in this position again and very frustrated for all the residents that took the time to attend. I want the meeting to be re-scheduled at the earliest convenience.”

Nick Spolair, another MARA member, told the Hackney Citizen: “Councillor Plouviez didn’t feel that it was appropriate [to hold ward forums] when feelings were running so high, but in a way that is just when you need it.

“People feel passionate about this because Hackney Council seems to make up its mind up and not consult us.”

A group from Broadway Market was also present, one of whom had travelled for an hour and a half to attend the aborted meeting.

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “We regret that the London Fields Ward Forum meeting needed to be abandoned due to the capacity of the venue. We are currently working with councillors to put in place arrangements for a rescheduled meeting in an appropriate venue.

“Details for this meeting will be available on the dedicated webpage for the ward forum as soon as possible. This is expected to take place before the end of the year.”

The spokesperson said the venue was chosen as it was “accessible” and would “comfortably cater for the numbers who attended the previous Ward Forum in November 2016 – held at St. Michael & All Angels Church Hall – when one of the same items was discussed”.

They added: “In terms of the regularity of the meetings, Ward Forums are arranged by local councillors according to when topics are live. These will not always be three times yearly, but will be held according to need.”

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team