Packed Public Meeting Demands Answers on Olympic Police Base
Those of us who were involved in planning tonight's residents' meeting at Durning Hall Community Centre hoped perhaps that 50 people would attend. But instead, the number was nearer 250, with the centre's main hall packed to capacity with local people wanting answers to plans by the Metropolitan Police to base its Olympics operational centre on Wanstead Flats during 2012.
My earlier posts (here and here) on this issue said that this proposal involved enclosing part of the Flats for 90 days, but as I found out this evening, this has already jumped to 120 days, a fact confirmed by a new information page on the City of London Corporation's website that makes clear what decision it would prefer to make.
But now the Corporation has a real fight on its hands - a variety of different objections to any attempt to amend the law that has protected Wanstead Flats for well over a century were rehearsed in detail at tonight's event. Those in attendance ranged from the more middle-class residents who live near to the Flats to members of the local Asian community, lads who have played football there and pensioners who have enjoyed its open space since they were children. And without exception, they are really angry.
A campaign has been formed, with thirty volunteers for its steering group. The plan is for a second public meeting, with representatives of the Corporation, Newham and Redbridge councils and the Met police coming along. They will be asked to explain why the site west of Centre Road has been chosen, how that decision was made and why the Olympic stadium site itself cannot be used. People also want to know why there has been so little consultation - and what possessed those who drew up the plans to stick what will be a high security enclave, "Fort Apache Wanstead Flats", so close to a residential area.
Tonight's meeting really was excellent and a great start. Many thanks to whoever suggested a collection and to everyone who helped raised £185 towards future flyers. An information sheet with the contact information of key decision-makers, plus some initial unanswered questions, will be available from Durning Hall's reception desk from tomorrow.
Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in joining the campaign, they can contact it c/o The Community Involvement Unit, Aston-Mansfield, Durning Hall Community Centre, Earlham Grove E7 9AB.
This article is republished with permission from Randon Blowe of Wednesday, 14 July 2010 © Kevin Blowe under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License | Photo credit: © Forest Gate resident William Heron
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Sun, 18/07/2010 - 12:42.