Members of the Occupy Movement have set up camp, on Porters Field, part of Leyton Marshes in East London, where against stiff local opposition planning planning permission was granted by Waltham Forest to construct a number of Olympic practice basketball courts. The site is close to, but outside, the Olympic Enclosure.
Caroline Day a local resident who regularly walks her dog on Leyton Marshes commented ...
“it's great to see that Occupy are supporting local people in their fight to protect precious green belt land from unnecessary and destructive development. The Games have been sold on the basis of regeneration and legacy and yet this destroys land whilst not providing any beneficial legacy for local people."
Since work commenced local residents have periodically blocked trucks attempting to make deliveries by “peaceful non-cooperation”. Since The Occupy Movement arrived on Saturday “peaceful non-cooperation” has become continuous, with no vehicles able to gain access. All work on the site has subsequently halted. Police have attended but left after saying that as there was no “breach of the peace it was therefore not an issue for the Met”.
“The basketball training venue is a temporary structure that will be removed within a month of the end of the Games, and the land restored to its previous state. The vast majority of Leyton Marsh is completely unaffected. The ODA is committed to building a basketball training facility for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and we regret that action has been taken which has delayed work on the site.”
But to locals and personnel from the Occupy Movement the debacle over Leyton Marshes appears to be about more, than the individual issue of Leyton Marsh, as was made clear in a speech by a member of Occupy on Saturday.
“Occupy are about fighting a disease that’s controlled by the one percent that puts profit before people, and a symptom of that disease is lack of care for green spaces...That’s why we’re here today and why we want to get involved.”
Occupy’s new camp on Leyton Marshes has been met with widespread approval by the majority of locals who are supplying the camp with food and water, and offering use of washing facilities in their homes.
There are a number of irregularities connected with construction of a structure on this site. For example the license between the landowner (Lee Valley Regional Park Authority LVRPA) and the ODA allows the structure to be used for any purpose, not just for basketball courts.
Excavation of the site is a sensitive issue due to the site’s history as a dumping ground for Second World War blitz rubble. Locals’ concerns over possible WW2 bombs in the excavations were proved justified when a bomb was discovered soon after work began on the site.
Planning approval for the basketball courts allowed for 15cm of excavation on the site but it is clear the actual excavations have been far deeper in the order of 50cm. Locals complained to the planners, and the ODA have now submitted plans for 30cm excavations. However it remains unclear why any excavations for a temporary structure are necessary.
Vicky Sholund, long term local resident and dog walker comments ... “I have no confidence in the way in which the authorities have dealt with potential contamination on the site. None of the concerns raised by Save Leyton Marshes and others have received adequate answers. We don’t have any faith in the LVRPA looking after the Marshes. Occupy’s involvement has helped us a lot, and we are doing what ever we can to help the Occupy people as well. And commenting on the Olympic Project in general Ms Sholund complains that ... “it has been pretty disastrous for the East End”.
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Submitted by Mike Wells on Wed, 28/03/2012 - 14:21.