Wednesday 14 July 2010

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.

Photo credit: Forest Gate resident William Heron


Unknown said...

As a resident living on the edge of Wanstead flats I am very concerned by the proposed intrusion of public space and the changing of an ancient statute which has until now held secure a valuable piece of land. If this action is allowed it will allow the same action to be taken again and again,for a myriad of different reasons.

It is nothing short of ridiculous that the police and the olympic planning authority have left this matter so late that no sensible option is available.

We are led to believe the threat of terrorist attack is very real and , judging by the security around the site itself a serious issue . This being the case why was no area within the olympic site allocated for a heavy police presence as required by the use of the flats.

Travel times from the flats to the site would at most times of day be far to slow to allow rapid response to any emergency scenario.

In short I believe this to be a badly considered attempt at dealing with a gross lack of forethought on the part of those people concerned in planning security for the Olympic event.

Anonymous said...

Did any local Newham Councillors attend ?

Anonymous said...

I am glad that there is a campaign. This is only a front for future re-development of Wanstead Flats.

We had the same problem with Red Bull wanting to build a temporary second runway for their Air Race, whilst on the face, it was for a temporary nature for their event, but it was a front for London City Airport to set a Planning precedent for the land opposite London City Airport. Thanks to the campaigning by Plane Stupid, Red Bull pulled out.

I hope that now you have a group going, that people are aware of the expansion of London City Airport, because there will be more flights flying over Wanstead Flats, especially as the quieter planes are replaces by noisy ones.

I wish that people in North Newham, would support those in South Newham. I hope that people recognise the threat that London City Airport poses.

Unknown said...

Hi, for concerned people (not just residents, there is a facebook page you can sign up to:

Kind regards,

Metropolitan Police Service said...

Police comments re Wanstead MBDC ( Temporary Briefing Centre)

As a result of feedback and meetings regarding the proposed MBDC on Wanstead Flats please find the link to the new frequently asked questions and the ecology report which may help answer some of the concerns.

There is an opportunity to have an input on the comments section of the website detailed below

Alaric Bonthron
Detective Chief Superintendent
Community Relations Team
Metropolitan Police Service

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