Tuesday, 31 March 2009

1st April 2009 : Olympic Fools Day

"Don't play Games with Greenwich, Lord Coe"

This was the headline in the Evening Standard on 23 March 2009 for Andrew Gilligan's article that suggested that Seb Coe was in denial of the facts that made Greenwich Park an unsuitable choice. It's worth reading the whole piece on the link below but what is a must-read is the hilarious comment from a Martin Murphy of Greenhithe, drawing similarities with "The Emperor's New Clothes"

This article was in response to an interview given by Lord Coe in the Daily Telegraph of 17 March 2009 in which he tried to correct a few myths, as he described them.

First, he stated that viewing for equestrianism in the Olympics was low. WRONG - THEY SOLD MORE TICKETS FOR THESE EVENTS THAN AVERAGE IN SYDNEY AND ATHENS.

Secondly, he said that an inner city location would bring equestrianism to a new audience. HOW EXACTLY?

Thirdly, he appeared to insult existing venues in saying that they were not equipped to host three events simultaneously to Olympic standard. REALLY? WHY THEN CAN THEY NOT BE UPGRADED WITH TEMPORARY YET SUSTAINABLE FACILITIES, THEREBY LEAVING A LEGACY FOR THE SPORT.

"Carry ID, or you won’t get home"

This was London Lite’s headline on 30 March 2009. The article referred to the fact that hundreds of people living near the G20 Summit will have to carry photo ID to get past road blocks to their homes.

This is a foretaste of what it could be like during the 16 days of the equestrian Olympics for Greenwich residents whose houses are on the roads - Crooms Hill, Nevada Street, Park Vista and Maze Hill - bordering Greenwich Park.

Hundreds of houses are only yards from the Park, many actually back on to it. Circus Gate, at the bottom of Crooms Hill, would be very close to the stabling for over 200 horses and security is bound to be at the highest level. It would not be surprising if cars were banned from these roads, and is it unthinkable that residents could be denied access to or from their homes without vetting? With such draconian powers available to the police, human rights go out of the window.

Local angle
Think of the impact upon the Greenwich Theatre. Imagine arriving at the security cordon with your theatre ticket but having forgotten your ID, with the result that after you had gone home and returned with your ID you actually got to see only half the performance because you were late and (in order not to disrupt everyone else) had to wait until the interval before you were allowed to take your seat.

Then, too, will we always remember to take our ID before we set off to find something delicious to buy from the delicatessen?

The equestrian Olympics don’t have to take place in a small, congested urban centre not used to holding events on such a massive scale. There are alternatives.

Update 4.4.2009: some lawyers have suggested that those residents who live closest to the Park could be forced to evacuate their homes for security reasons. If this worries you, write to your Councillor and request written assurance that this will not happen. If you don't get any joy from your Councillor, contact us at the Save Greenwich Park blog.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Carry On In Denial Up The Council

The three and a half months public consultation period - on the Department for Transport plans for the Olympic Road Network (ORN) - ended on 19 March 2009, before Council officers had even got around to having a meeting to discuss it, never mind actually respond on behalf of the thousands of Greenwich Council Tax payers and road users who will be affected by the proposals. Greenwich councillors finally got their act together and met to talk about the proposed Designation of the Olympic Road Network, er, five days after the deadline expired.

The News Shopper reports that The Council has hit back at the accusations, saying it did manage to get its response in on time and had held it back until the last minute to "reflect the most up to date situation". Their response was presented to Cabinet on 24 March.

For six weeks or so, disruption to life in Greenwich - due to around 44 roads being closed or to special traffic regulations (including designated "Games Lanes") - is expected to be massive. Parts of the A2 (eg Shooters Hill Road and Blackheath Hill) will come within the Olympic road network; and roads around Greenwich Park, where the equestrian events are to be held, will be at the very centre of the network and heavily used by Olympic traffic. Ordinary road users who stray onto the ORN face heavy fines (£5,000 per offence has been suggested). Shops and restaurants whose loading bays are in the way of the ORN will find the loading bays swept away and will have to porter their supplies from other streets. See for instance, Olympic express routes will cause chaos, for more about the proposed clampdown and its effects.