What will the Olympics mean for the people of East London?

Campaign organising meeting, SOAS, 7 March

Following a succesful public event in Stratford at the beginning of January a campaign organizing meeting will happen on March 7. We hope community organizations and campaigns and local people will come together to create an alliance that can fight so that East London and its people won’t get swept to the side by the Olympics.

There have been a lot of promises. We’ve been told that the 2012 will create thousands of jobs, hundreds of houses and much needed investment to East London. However, some argue that the Olympics will create a handful of low paid, temporary jobs, worsen the housing crisis in the area and benefit only corporate sponsors and property developers.

Come to the meeting as an interested individual or send someone to represent your group or organisation’s opinions are on possibilities for joint action and what you would like to achieve. Possible focus points of the campaign so far are:

– demands for social housing,

– jobs and training be provided for local unemployed people and youth and support for workplace rights on the Olympic site,

– free sports facilities for the local community

– organising to  protect our communities from the aggressive policing and security culture that will intensify in the lead up to 2012.


Contact: londoncoalitiongainstpoverty@gmail.com

Saturday March 7 2009 2pm – 4 pm
@ School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS
Russell Square WC1
in Room G50.

Olympic Torch ignores the East End

An account of the invisible torch going through Bow

The good citizens of E3 appeared to have forgotten that the torch was
passing through. But as four o’clock approached, and the buzz of
helicopters filled the sky overhead, a few headed down to Bow Road to
watch the flame go by. Many were of Chinese origin, here to watch a
potent symbol from the motherland passing along their local street.
The vicar was out with his camera, having set his bell ringers the
task of welcoming the flame to Bow (or maybe he just pressed a button
inside the tower, it was hard to be sure). And there were no
protesters whatsoever, not this far out of town. What could go wrong?
The road to the flyover suddenly cleared of traffic and a very large
number of police motorbikes zoomed past. And a van, and another van,
and the Coca Cola open-topped bus. Was the flame aboard? We didn’t
think so. Those grinning Samsung girls were next, keeping up their
professional act as they danced for a crowd who almost certainly
couldn’t afford a widescreen telly like the one on the float. And then
silence. Was that it?

Thankfully not. After a brief interlude of ordinary vehicles, the
empty road reappeared. Yet more police outriders whizzed by, as if
every motorcycle copper in the capital was having a whale of a time
breaking the speed limit in 10 different boroughs in one day. And then
a 4×4, and a couple of vans, and a single-decker red bus. I’d seen
this procession several times before, so I knew the single-decker was
just a support vehicle packed with bottles of Coke and Malvern Water.
More vans followed, and the TV crew lorry, and another single-decker
bus, and a luxury coach, and some more vans. Still we scanned the road
for sight of any open-topped vehicle that might be carrying a beaming
athlete waving a torch. None appeared, only a steady stream of very
normal looking traffic. It very slowly dawned on us, with a distinctly
sinking feeling, that the flame had already passed. Bugger. It must
have been concealed inside one of the unflagged single-deckers, by now
at least half a mile away on the road to Stratford. The vicar and I
shared a look, as if to say “pah!”, and walked away. Here we were, a
community on the very edge of the Olympic Zone, and the authorities
had sped by without acknowledging our existence or even attempting to
include us as part of the celebrations. I do hope that this isn’t a
sign of things to come in 2012, but I fear it might be.

From http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/

The True Cost of the Olympics

Mute Talk @ Soho Theatre 7pm, 9 October, 2007
Generation Debt, Part 1: The True Cost of the Olympics

Whatever the overruns on time and cost, one thing the London 2012 Olympics is certain to deliver is a huge public debt. The enormous bill for two weeks of spectacularised sport is legitimated by promises of urban regeneration. However a growing number of people insist that in reality the games are nothing more than a corporate landgrab.

In Mute magazine’s first discussion evening on the increasingly urgent subject of debt, Martin Slavin of Gamesmonitor [www.gamesmonitor.org.uk] will respond to contributor Mark Saunders’ analysis of the negative impact of the London Olympics.

Mark’s article, ‘The Regeneration Games’, was printed in Mute’s latest issue – Living in a Bubble: Credit, Debt & Crisis – and can be read online at: [http://www.metamute.org/en/The-Regeneration-Games]
Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street
Tickets: £5 (£3)
Soho Theatre: http://www.sohotheatre.com/pl1366.html

The Latest on the Clays Lane Estate

Clays Lane housing estate in Stratford was built in the 1970s and was Europe’s second largest purpose built housing cooperative consisting of 450 units.

It is the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order by the London Development Agency to make way for the 2012 Olympic site.

All residents were promised equivalent, if not better, housing.

The following has been written by one of the remaining residents Julian Cheyne:

Clays Lane tenants are informed that the Government is becoming annoyed with the LDA and CBHA, our housing managers, because they have not yet cleared the Clays Lane estate. At a briefing yesterday Mr Blacker of the LDA said he thought the LDA would have to evict ‘a handful’ of tenants. We understand the idea is they should ‘get tough’ with the remaining tenants as if they are in some way being recalcitrant.

Tenants are not refusing to co-operate with the relocation process. No-one is barricading themselves into their houses.

Some tenants have not yet been made an offer of accommodation. It has been agreed they should receive three ‘reasonable’ offers with a right to appeal if they are dissatisfied.

The LDA has already gone back on its original promises and promises made by the Mayor of London about the quality of accommodation they would be offered.

The LDA has had since 2003 to prepare for the relocation of tenants but failed to keep any of the timelines it set out in the Fluid report. Staff were only appointed to supervise the relocation in July and November 2005.

Some tenants will have to make temporary moves because of the failure of the LDA to organise particular kinds of moves.

Tenants are much worse off in financial terms and have lost their community and amenities with inadequate compensation. Some have smaller properties than they had at Clays Lane. The LDA has promised to ‘sustain’ communities. This community has been demolished.

Tenants have warned of the likelihood of the programme not delivering on time. It is unfair they should carry the cost of the failures of others.

‘Getting tough’ rather than investing properly in making the programme work just makes eviction more likely.

Dear Supporter of the Manor Garden Allotment campaign

The following is an appeal issued by Lifeisland Support and Campaign Group for Manor Garden Allotments
Apologies if you came to the High Court last Thursday and found it was cancelled. It was impossible to give advance warning as we only knew at 10.30 on Wednesday night that a good enough agreement had been reached to cancel. In fact negotiations on the fine detail continued on through Thursday morning with nine lawyers!

We have another stay of execution until 23rd September with restricted access. We also now have a failsafe relocation site in case we are finally evicted.

We’d like to call on your support and goodwill again for a gathering outside The London Studios, South Bank, London SE1 this Thursday 21st June at 6.15pm. This one will not be cancelled. ITV plan to film us.

The Mayor will be arriving to participate in the London Debate. Julie Sumner will be in the audience to try to question him. The programme goes out live at 7pm on ITV.

Media interest continues unabated with three film crews at the plots on Sunday and another visiting on Wednesday. We’ll try to keep you updated.

Lifeisland Support and Campaign Group
for Manor Garden Allotments

A message to Manor Garden Allotments supporters

The following appeal is being circulated to friends and supporters of the Manor Park Allotments campaign:

There are some important events coming up we would like to ask your help with.

The closing date for the revised Olympic Park Planning Application public consultation is Friday 15thJune. There is information being added to the lifeisland.org website on how to go about sending in an objection.
Our Judicial Review will take place in the High Court on Thursday 14th of June. We are taking them to court on the basis that they would be breaking the promises they have consistently made that we would not be evicted before a suitable relocation site had been found for us. The Compulsory Purchase Order was approved, as was the Olympic Delivery Act, on the assumption that a relocation site would be provided. Yet still the LDA plan to evict us on 2nd July, relocation site obtained or not!
It would be impressive and attract media attention if there was a supportive presence with placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand from 9.30am on Thursday. The hearing starts at 10.30. We will be producing a number of placards but any extras will add to the effect. Please come and show solidarity with Manor Garden Allotments. Be sure to check the website www.lifeisland.org on Wednesday evening for up to date information.

Many thanks for your support to date,

Julie Sumner
Lifeisland Coordinator and Plot holder

Say Goodbye to Football on the Marshes

Published in Hackney Gazette, March 15, 2007

Didn’t you just know that relocation of the travellers to a site on Hackney Marshes was a done deal from the very first time the subject was raised?

Once again this pathetic bunch of councillors, who are supposed to represent us, have proved that democracy is non-existent, not only nationwide, but in this case, on our very own doorstep.

Who do they think they are kidding when they state that Hackney’s planners had carried out excessive consultation?

I protested against the plan on behalf of more than 1,500 footballers, who, whenever they learn of the council and the London Development Agency’s misguided input, are astute enough to conclude that much of what is going on is just a matter of hiding their land-grab intentions under the banner of the Olympic ideal.

We have learned the hard way that we can’t believe a word uttered by the LDA. We feel desperately let down and see no real future for grass-roots football in the long term.

If they can ride roughshod over our feelings by acting without taking our football community’s objections seriously, then what hope is there for the future of Hackney Marshes?

It isn’t the fact that the travellers have been given approval to move permanently to a site on the Marshes. That is not the point. It is the very principle that matters.

We are apalled that approval in any shape or form has been given to anyone to take up residence on the Marshes. It is the thin end of the wedge and just goes to prove that this undemocratic body can abuse its powers on a scale beyond belief, where, when and wherever they want.

What is happening to this once great country? We used to be listened to, now it seems we are in the hands of a bunch of chancers who are in the process of getting their grubby little hands on the people’s land in the name of the Olympics.

In the football community’s eyes, they have tarnished its name forever.

We are sick of the very mention of the word Olympics. All it does is conjure up visions of smug politicians giving themselves a mutual pat on the back for all the so-called wonderful things they suppose they are doing for the “plebs”.

Then there is the matter of the escalating costs. It is all very well for these politicians to tell us that in the end it will all be worth the mounting expense. It isn’t their money! They just go on glibly on their merry ways with no seeming accountability.

Users of the Marshes – incidentally, we pay to play football on the Marshes – are even more fearful now than we ever were.

The LDA will rat on their promise to restore the East Marsh to its former splendour of grass pitches after the Games.

With costs spiralling out of control, some aims will have to be nipped in the bud and we are betting that restoring the East Marsh to its former glory will be one of them.

We can envisage them looking at the nice plot of concreted land and thinking this could be an excellent opportunity to claw back a large wad of cash.

Do you think it won’t cross their scheming little minds? We in the football community are prepared for the worst.

I did not go to the meeting regarding the travellers at the town hall. Experience has taught me that they may go through with the formality of stating that they will listen, but they will completely ignore our wishes or our objections.

I feel extremely sorry for Anne Woollett and the Hackney Marshes’ user group. Did they genuinely feel that they had a hope in hell?

I know of the hard work this group carries out in order to preserve the Marshes and, if it was not for their input, “our” Marshes would have appeared before us as a gigantic tarmac terrain long ago, instead of the wonderful green space we have at present, and if a community-serving group like the MHUG can’t prevent the desecration of the Marshes, what hope is there for us all?

Finally, my criticism of this spineless council excuses Cllr Simon Tesler. It would appear that there is a molecule of good sense and decency within politics somewhere.

While I think about it, say goodbye from all footballers to the Arena Fields, soon to be lost forever, leaving fond memories of happier days, but sadly to be replaced by an unsightly multi-story car park and media centre. Someone, somewhere is a good little earner!

Johnnie Walker
Chairman, Hackney and Leyton Sunday Football League

Manor Garden Allotments

The Manor Gardening Society’s Emergency General Meeting will be held on March 4th, this coming Sunday at 11.00 am. This will take place at the Eastway Baths Community Centre at Eastway, Hackney Wick.

The London Developent Authority will be attending to announce their intentions following the failure of their Marsh Lane plan.
As the morale of the plotholders has been continually worn down and many, understandably, feel the situation is hopeless.

The more outside support is demonstrated the better.

Supporters are asked to gather outside with banners from 10.30 am.

Please pass this message on – let’s get as much support as we can for the allotment gardeners to stay where they are at Waterden Road and protect Marsh Lane Fields from encroachment!

Lammas Land Defence Committee: 1, London Development Agency: 0

The first set back for the Olympic games developments came on Wednesday evening at Waltham Forest Town Hall.

The LDA wanted to temporarily move the Manor Park allotment holders to Marsh Lane playing fields. As previous written about on this site, the allotment users are absolutely against any move.

The land proposed for the temporary allotments is part of the Lammas Land: land bequeathed to the commoners of Leyton by Alfred the Great.
Defence of the land erupted on August 1, 1892 when 2,000 men, women and children gathered to defend the encroachment on the area by a railway line. The tracks were torn up and in the resulting melee two local councillors were arrested by the police – obviously local councillors then were made of sterner stuff than todays pathetic breed!

Lammas Land users and the Manor Park allotment holders have come together on this issue – they do not want their local environment and communities destroyed only to be replaced by the gigantic Disney-style sports theme park that is to be home for the 2012 Olympics.

For further background information please read the following article on the Games Monitor site:

The Lammas Land Defence Committee has released the following communiqué:

‘CELEBRATION 12 noon, Sunday, Marsh Lane

Last night the Borough of Waltham Forest’s planning committee turned down an application by the London Development Agency to fence off about a fifth of Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton to relocate allotment-holders (who don’t want to move!) from a lovely 85 year old site at Bully Point in Newham. The campaign against this was led by the Lammas Lands Defence Committee, with a lot of help from other interested groups in the borough.

We had already planned a rally on the marshes on Sunday before the announcement that last night’s planning committee meeting would be deciding the application, and we therefore propose to hold a PARTY on the fields. So bring party stuff – champers, ribbons, etc. – if there’s any snow we can build a snowman or have a snowball fight! And please bring polo mints, carrots or apples for the horses that graze there – they’ll appreciate it immensely this time of the year when it’s muddy and the grass doesn’t grow very fast.


This is the first real bloody nose the LDA have got over the Olympics, and there are planning applications due to come up soon in Hackney and Newham – a lot of people from those boroughs came to support our defence of the Leyton Lammas Lands last night and we should now work together with them to help where we can with the ongoing evictions and demolition at Clays Lane housing estate and the threats to Hackney South Marsh.

If you don’t feel “political” but would like to come and find out more, please come and join us on Sunday and help celebrate saving the fields.

We’ll be meeting at the junction of Seymour Path and Marsh Lane, just west of the Eton Manor Athletics Club car-park (beside the Dagenham Brook).

Drinks afterwards at the Hare & Hounds (great Sunday lunch grub too!) if you can’t make the actual event.’

2012 Funding Should Not Be a Lottery

from Hackney Gazette, 25 January 2007

As a Hackney resident and somebody who works for a Lottery-funded project in Islington, I read last week’s Gazette article, “Groups fear Olympics shortfall will rob them of vital funds” with some degree of alarm.

I think Liz Hughes was absolutley right to ask the question about what exactly “…the legacy will be and how it will make up for all the projects which lose out”.

All the government spokesperson could come up wih in reply were soundbites about “benefits” outstripping “losses” and that the Olympics would “transform society” and “improve millions of lives”.

Your readers might like to ask themselves how will this extremely grand ambition be achieved in 2012 and beyond – given that no Olympics before has ever managed to do it.

The only “legacy” I can see from previous Olympics is a few impressive-looking (and under-used) buildings and some luxury housing developments that have taken over the athletes’ village after the Games have finished.

Finally, how is it that small community projects like the one I work for and the ones mentioned in the article (who do extremely valuable work with local communities day in and day out) have to say precisely what we will do and what the outcomes of this will be to get a few thousand pounds of funding from the Lottery when the Olympics is set to get billions of pounds on the basis of some vague aspirations that will never ever materialise?

Bob Taylor
Stamford Hill