Tuesday 18 September 2012

Scar On Wanstead Flats As Olympic Fortress Departs

I was away over the weekend in Warwickshire: Saturday would have been the 42nd birthday my old friend Gilly Mundy, who passed away in 2007, so I went to spend time with his family. I therefore missed the removal of the Great Wall that surrounded Fortress Wanstead Flats, the Olympic police base that has been so bitterly opposed by local people (more from me on Wanstead Flats here)

So this evening, I popped over to take a look and to photograph the impact of the base on a much loved piece of public land. Sadly, as predicted, the destruction is huge - it may take months to recover and parts of the site are covered by gravel and hardstanding.

The dark scar on previously protected open land is a real test for the City of London Corporation, who are the nominal 'custodians' of Wanstead Flats as part of Epping Forest. Failing to completely restore the Flats to its condition before the base was constructed will undoubtedly fuel concerns - ones I share - that the site has been earmarked for future use as a "temporary" security space. With the Evening Standard reporting today that it may cost as much as £160 million to turn the Olympic stadium into a football arena, the worry is that the stadium will become the venue for more high-profile, high security events in order to recoup some of its vast costs. High security means a 'convenient' space for basing security operations - convenient for the police and the security industry that is, not for local people.

Here are a few photos of the sheer scale of the destruction - you can find more on Flickr.


Anonymous said...

I think you are worrying unnecessarily about the security base becoming a permanent fixture on Wanstead Flats. A football stadium does not require a security base. The Olympic Park, it's venues and the surrounding area required unprecedented amounts of manpower in regard to security - just think of the venues: an 80,000 seater stadium, plus, Acqua Centre, Velodrome, Basketball Arena, Hockey Arena, Handball Arena, Water Polo Pool, not to mention huge numbers of people visiting the Park with it's Live Screen plus The Orbit. These are just the Olympic Park venues, there were of course others, plus events on the public highways.

The Olympics Games in East London was a one-off event and made many people very happy for a few heady weeks. Surely you can wait a few months for the area to be put back to it's original state - as promised.

The Fogey

macuser_e7 said...

The Fogey makes a fair point. No future events in the Olympic Park will be anywhere near the scale of the Games and shouldn't need anything like the level of security. The European Hockey championships (2015) and the World Athletics championships (2017) won't have the same profile.

But there remains a concern about the damage already done to the Flats. what powers of enforcement do the City of London Corporation or Redbridge Council (the planning authority that agreed to allow the base) have if the police just walk away and leave this unholy mess?

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