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Less facilities for more money

Two stories in the local papers catch my eye for showing how fragile are boosterist promises about investment levels particularly in the aftermath of the Five Ring Circus leaving town.

The first is from yesterday’s Waltham Forest Guardian by Carl Brown who writes;

“Cyclists organisations have accused Olympic authorities of downgrading the velopark for the Games.

In February The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) announced plans for a 34 hectare velopark. Original plans featured a 1,500 capacity velodrome, a BMX track, a 1.6km [1 mile] racing circuit, a cross country mountain bike course and an outdoor cycle speedway circuit.

Under new plans, however, the velopark, which will be on the site of the old Eastway Cycle Circuit, in Leyton, will now take up fewer than ten hectares. This according to the Eastway User’s group means that the new off-road area of the velopark has shrunk in size and there will be no replacement for the full-size mountain bike circuit after the Games.

The group is angry because it was persuaded to drop its objection to the Compulsory Purchase Order for the Eastway site last summer on the basis that matching facilities would be reinstated after 2012”

Keith Bingham in Cycling Week for 27th Feb writes:

“Current plans see the Olympic velodrome and BMX track – bequeathed to the sport as part of the Legacy – now being squeezed alongside an unsatisfactory road circuit which is too close to the main road for comfort. The speedway track has gone, and only a pitiful off-road course is to be shoehorned in after protest. The ODA is trying to fit too much into the area, to cater for other sports, extra housing and the return of allotments.

From: King goes to Stratford for Eastway Velopark crisis meeting: Tuesday 27th February 2007 - Keith Bingham

More at: Velopark crisis

From Jenny Copnall, reigning British MTB champion:
"It is with sorrow and concern that I heard from the Eastway Users' Group of the ODA's decision not to provide mountain bike racers with an adequate facility in the Legacy Park after the Olympics have taken place. I fully expect the spectacle of the mountain bike cross country event at the 2012 Olympics to bring more young riders into our fantastic sport, many likely to be from the London area. It is essential that these potential future Olympians have access to grassroots competition in a safe yet challenging environment.

Eastway has, until now, provided this, and played a pivotal role in my introduction and development as a young racer. It means a great deal to me that future generations of riders in the London area are able to enjoy the same opportunities that I did. The Eastway mountain bike events not only whet the appetites of new racers, they also provide newcomers with a social hub of knowledge and experience, which is crucial for development.

The London area is not blessed with offroad riding places. In view of this I feel that it is very important that the finest example be reinstated, albeit with the break period during the Games, so that those who wish to become mountain bike racers can do so, without their urban roots hindering their progress."

From: Little off road Olympic legacy at Eastway, Michael Humphreys, Bikemagic, 28 2 07

More at: Jenny Copnall

Martin Slavin writes: More about Olympic skimping comes from the Newham Recorder for Wed 28th Feb from Pat Coughtrey who writes:

“Government cash cuts have thrown back into the mix some of the thinking behind plans to breathe fresh life into the hidden network of East End rivers in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

…But the body that manages the country’s 2,200 mile water network has been told it faces a £35 million grants cut over the next five years. British Waterways has already axed jobs and scrapped over £5 million worth of canal maintenance. And it has confirmed that it is forced to reconsider plans for the River Lea and Bow Back Rivers, including the lock replacement and centre,”

Martin writes; It is an omission not to have spelled out what ‘the lock replacement and centre’ refers to but it is salutory to read of these two examples of being provided with less for more money. There is a lot of confusion and obfuscation to be found the closer these schemes are scrutinised.

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