Friday, 1 May 2009

When is a consultation not a consultation? ("Have Your Say" in the Park, November 2008)

Last November LOCOG held a public consultation in the Tea Pavilion in Greenwich Park, staffed by representatives of LOCOG and Derek Spurr (who is about to start working for LOCOG as an Olympics liaison person). The map - on which to mark what you considered to be the sensitive areas in the Park - was not in use at first and was fished out only when NOGOE representatives made a point of asking for it. A young woman in charge of the map went to some trouble to mark the problem areas and register the reasons on the postcards. By late Saturday, the map was pretty full of stickers all over.

Where is that map now? No one knows. A couple of months ago (on/around 13 February 2009) two members of LOCOG - the Equestrian Competition Manager, Tim Hadaway, and the Course Designer, Sue Benson - were walking around the cross country course with representatives of NOGOE. When it became clear that the course was still going through sensitive areas, the LOCOG people were asked why no notice had been taken of the map in the "Have Your Say" November consultation, to which they replied that they knew nothing about its existence.

NOGOE has taken this matter up with the relevant LOCOG people and, to date, there has been no response to the whereabouts of the map. So is a "Have Your Say" all for show? Not a real attempt to listen?

The other remarkable thing at the "Have Your Say" in the Park were the answers given by different LOCOG people to the same set of questions put by members of the public, which left one with the impression that LOCOG's PR people were just saying anything to make people go away. Three different LOCOG representatives told one NOGOE representative that the lower branches of ALL THE TREES needed to be cut anyway to "safeguard cyclists and walkers". Which is ridiculous: any Park user knows, cyclists use the paths and "roads" through the Park alongside which the trees are set well back so that their lower branches do not have to be cut back. (Clearance for a horse and rider is about 15 feet, a lot more than for a cyclist.)

As this blog reported at the time (Questions for LOCOG I), the prize for the most ludicrous claim went to Derek Spurr for saying that a jogger (human) has greater impact than a horse and rider because in the latter case the weight was more distributed. LOCOG must be desperate: if anyone has any doubts what horses hooves do to turf, watch the racing on tv and then take into account that racehorses shoes are much lighter weight than the shoes the Olympic horses wear. Racehorses actually wear lightweight shoes called racing plates. A Olympics competition horse weighs about half a ton, is moving about 25mph, and its steel shoes are about half an inch thick, with studs fitted to give them extra grip but which churn up the grass very quickly and cause long term damage. A human jogger, who weighs nowhere near half a ton, is wearing shoes made of rubber or plastic. RM/SD

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