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Lambeth slammed for opening construction site at pandemic peak

Socially distanced protest calls for site closure and for workers to be furloughed on full pay

LABOUR-RUN Lambeth Council was pressing on with non-essential demolition work today, despite the south London borough having one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country.

The levelling of Olive Morris House, a large council-owned office block in Brixton, began this week despite concerns over virus transmission between construction workers.

A socially distanced protest at the site, calling for the demolition to be suspended and for workers to be furloughed on full pay, was stopped by plain-clothes police this morning for violating lockdown restrictions.

But activists pointed out the hypocrisy of shutting down the protest, staged by people who were taking their daily exercise break, while allowing work at the site during the crisis.

Protester Francesca Manning, a local primary-school teacher, cited the council’s high-profile closure of Brockwell Park this month, saying: “Fining people for sitting on a bench, that’s what the council has been doing.

“And yet the same council that has done that is happy to have a demolition going on, and then get luxury flats built here during a pandemic.”

Lambeth is the sixth-worst-affected local-authority area in the country, with 1,063 recorded cases of Covid-19.

Branding the construction work a “huge, unnecessary risk to the community,” Ms Manning said: “All unnecessary social contact, where it spreads the virus, increases the strain on our NHS, increases the burden on our health workers, on our nurses and doctors.”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “This phase of demolition work will be carried out inside the building only, for four to six weeks, and fewer than 10 people are working at the site at the moment.

“Appropriate social distancing is being observed and this is being continuously monitored.”

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