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London 2012

Marshland, dreams and nightmares on the edge of London

‘Marshland, dreams and nightmares on the edge of London’ by Gareth E Rees is not a book about the Olympics! But it is about the ongoing struggle over Hackney Marshes and the open space on the east of the River Lea. In 1892, 3,000 local people tore up rails laid by the East London Waterworks Company. In 1985 a campaign group called Save the Marshes succeeded in beating off the attempt by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority, the supposed protector of the Marshes, to allow quarrying on Walthamstow Marshes. Then in 2005 London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games and battle was joined once again in the most recent round in the continuing struggle between local people and railway, water and quarrying companies, housing authorities and developers and now the Olympic Delivery Authority.


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How they kept the stadium's lights burning

After all those grubby little stories about GCHQ tying in with the US Prism surveillance programme and spying on diplomats at the 2009 G20 meetings finally something to vindicate Britain's spooks! Out rushed lurid headlines about how the gallant spies spiked the 'cyber-attack' threat to London's Olympic ceremony. This appalling conspiracy was apparently aimed at turning off the lights in the Olympic stadium!


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The fat lady still hasn't sung in the stadium

The little guy just won't lie down. Leyton Orient have pledged to continue the fight over the Pudding Mill Stadium after everyone else thought the fat lady had already sung.


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Another fine Olympic Legacy - Justice for Bolt!

Usain Bolt is to get £500,000 for appearing at this summer's Olympics Anniversary event. Up till now Bolt has been the victim of 'punitive' tax laws which have prevented him earning these absurd sums in the past, but now the law has been changed to rectify this injustice! His British rivals, the likes of Ennis and Farah, will have to make do with a miserable £100,000 or so.


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Bad Boris Dreams

Did Boris have a favourite lilo he used to float around on when he was young? After his ‘Olympic legacy’ floating park on the Thames ‘sank’ into oblivion it seems he has been using bath time to dream up some more lilo type developments for the river and the Royal docks. Boris’ original idea was criticised by objectors as ‘an unwelcome intrusion’ into the river. The Port of London Authority was also unhappy and considered his watery park would be a ‘navigation hazard’. His new plan for homes floating in the Docks has been panned as a ‘Titanic mistake’ by London City Airport campaigner Alan Haughton who says ‘The Royal Docks contains the London City Airport Public Safety Zone - also called a crash zone. The Department for Transport strictly forbids development in a Crash Zone’.


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Sustainable conversations?

Went to the latest UEL/LLDC seminar on Sustainability last week and got into a bit of a spat with the speakers and another member of the audience over the sustainability example of London 2012. Samantha Heath of London Sustainability Exchange told us how she had, almost single-handedly, got Ken Livingstone to subscribe to sustainability targets of various kinds back in 2002 to 2004 when she was a member of the Greater London Assembly and how this all depended on Ken making top down decisions, all of which may be true. She had just been telling us what a wonderful example of sustainability the London Olympics had been and how it had created a new culture in the UK. I had to disagree with her that the Olympics had been such a sustainability success given, among other things, the botched remediation, the farce of the turbines and the failure to use the canals to shift materials, none of which she disputed. Another member of the audience chipped in about the sponsors and again she agreed this had not been a success, although she was keen on the torch relay which was a puzzle given the advertising platform it provided for Coca Cola.


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another Olympic inflation - terrorism arrests

Olympics inflation comes in all forms. The Home Office has released figures showing terrorism arrests rose by 60% in the year up to September 2012 by comparison with the previous year with a doubling of arrests in the period April - June almost doubling over the same period in 2011. Around 18% of the 245 arrested, 45, were charged with a terrorism-related offence of which 25 are still awaiting trial.


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Regeneration and Well-Being in East London: Stories from Carpenters Estate

The report makes unsettling reading. It highlights how residents’ well-being across a number of key dimensions (housing, livelihoods and participation) has been undermined by the protracted and ongoing regeneration process itself.


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