Monday, October 03, 2011

Visit to Olympic Park - September 2011

Two weeks ago I went on a visit with fellow Newham Councillors and officers to the 2012 Olympic Park and to the new Stadium (see photo).  This was my first visit to the site.  The Stadium is of course spectacular, as are the other sport facilities, the Olympic village and Westfield.  What I hadn't quite realised beforehand was how extensive the parkland will be - all the trees, the plants and the cleaned up rivers.

For many, many years I use to cycle or run into work in Bow through this same area.  There was a ugly and dirty industrial estate, eyesore electric pylons, car scrap yards protected by vicious barking dogs and huge mounds of dumped rubbish and fly tips.  The contrast with today's Queen Elizabeth Park is incredible. 

While it is not going solve all our problems, the Park is a fantastic legacy for our Borough and the whole East End of London.

I'll post the other pictures I took that day on Facebook - check this link.


Anonymous said...

Very moving councillor, but just down the road from you there's anothe populer building in newham that behind closed doors you and your fellow labour councillors have decided to close the Atherton Centre. What's your response to this councillor. Because the public were denied the right to witness from the public gallery the rational behind your decision perhaps you can give us newham councils line why this decision was made to close this populer leisure centre. And what and where replace it. And what the prime plot of land is earmarked for once destroyed. Where was the local consultation prior to this decision for this highly used public building. And why was a meeting arranged after the decision then cancelled by newham council at short notice.

John Gray said...

Hi Anon
This is my own personal blog and does represent the views of anyone else but since you have enjoyed this post so much I will treat you to another "moving" tale. For many years I use to be a regular swimmer at the Atherton (until I had a swimming accident there) so I know it quite well.

From what I understand a technical and professional recommendation has been made that the centre is beyond economic repair and the Council has announces that it intends to build a new leisure centre with a pool on the site. I am not aware whether a meeting was cancelled or not but I am absolutely certain that there will be widespread consultation about the future centre.

I believe that there was also an extensive democratic consultation process in May last year which resulted in local Councillors and the Mayor being elected (by massive majorities) in order to make such decisions.

Building a brand new leisure centre with a pool would appear to be a “good news” story especially when so many Councils are shutting centres down due to Tory Cuts.

John Gray said...

whoops: left out 'nt

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your candid and detailed response.Now that decision which you also agreed to seems more acceptable especially as you clearly are certain that a new and better leisure centre and pool will be built on the current Atherton Leisure Centre site with a better swimming pool. That's great news and now those of us who use the Atherton will have that to look forward to. Just out of curiosity, when is this new leisure centre going to be availiable to the people of Newham? And are you really certain of this happening?

Keep up the good work, with men of integrity like you representing the people of Newham and with your staunch trade union principles we stand some chance of getting a good deal for us in newham.

John Gray said...

Thank you for your "kind" remarks Anon. As I said, there will be consultation on the future shape of the site.

The thing that does bother me about the future is that this government for neo-liberal ideological reasons only - seem intent on turning an economic recession into a 1930’s style depression. I hope I am wrong.

Still, let’s not be all doom and gloom. We've got new railways and stations, Westfield shopping centre, new housing, new regeneration schemes and the fantastic Queen Elizabeth Park. Not forgetting of course the London Olympics 2012.

Anonymous said...

Great news for the people of Newham John, keep up the good work. Don't forget after the olympics the people of Newham will be able to use all the former olympic venues and enjoy them as the Mayor has rightly promised as being the people of Newham's legacy. Just one problem John, and am hoping you could help clarify this matter? Apparently there's a nasty rumour going around Newham that after the olympics all the venues will be closed to the public for two years ? Surely this is just a rumour?

John Gray said...

Hi anon

Sorry, but you have got the wrong end of the stick. It has never been claimed that all the Olympic venues will remain. That is daft. Some of them are only for games.

Also it is obvious that it will take some time to convert the remaining venues to public use. They are also building a brand new post games cycle track.

Not sure how long it will take but it needs to be done properly.

However, the park itself and the waterways will be open which I am really looking forward to visiting.

Anonymous said...

It is lucky you got to the see the Olympic stadium. I wanted to go to the Opening Ceremony, but did not get any tickets. I asked friends to apply for me.

However, when I learned the sponsors who only contributed a few million got 50% of the tickets of the opening night tickets, it seems injustice, when you think Londoners contributed £9bn to the costs of the games. The odds where stacked against ordinary people.

Anonymous said...

John says "There was a ugly and dirty industrial estate, eyesore electric pylons, car scrap yards"

That may well be true, but this so called dirty industrial estate was home to 5,000 jobs.

All these companies got pay off to move out to make way for the Olympics.

Among them were light industrial jobs which required skilled workforce.

We are going to be left with empty building, which provide zero jobs.

As for Westfield Stratford, these are in low-paid retail jobs and there is n't much scope to improve skills and earn good money.

Anonymous said...

According to another blog, they claim that Newham Council may never find the money to re-built Atherton. (that blog refers to the minutes of the Council meeting).

I feel the council is shifting resoucres to Stratord new town at the expense of the rest of new ham.

John Gray said...

Hi anon

I know you are posting in the early hours and were no doubt on the sauce - but what stuff and nonsense. The Olympics, Queen Elizabeth Park, Westfield etc is not a panacea for all Newham problems but this is a marvellous opportunity and great step forward.

Why is it that there are some people who just constantly knock and denigrate Newham?

Who cannot stand the thought that the borough is finally moving on, regenerating, getting more people in jobs, better education outcomes and building more homes.

There is still stacks to do but please stop attacking your own borough with your negative silliness.

Anonymous said...

We both want a nicer Newham, but your vision is not the same as mine.

Newham has a big problem with lack of jobs, especially unskilled. However, puting up Tesco and saying JOB DONE is nonsense. As all these are dead-end minimum wage jobs. At Carpenters road, there were a lot of unskilled jobs that really paid good money. And that is the key!. Our local high streets are full of mobile shops, pound shops and chicken shops due to high unemployment and low wages.

I have no idea who they built Westfield for but it was not for those on average wages. I read nasty comments "Oh look they put a Greggs in Westfield for the chavs". Is this the sort of nasty people you built Westfield for???

Anonymous said...

Listen to the radio interview, where this guy talks of TWO Stratfords!!!

It is a radio interview regarding Atherton!!

Anonymous said...

ignore the political extremists who have always hated the Olympics and Westfield because they are rich middle class and have lots of money and want Newham to be always poor since they think the poor will bring about a "revolution" (led by them).

They are of course scum who do not give a toss about anyone or anything that will not bring about said "revolution".

John Gray said...

Hi Anon 1

There were some "well paid" jobs (e.g. scrap yard owners) but most of the work was a small number of traditional "curse of the East End" unskilled machinists working in sweat shops. Such exploited, minimum wage (if they were lucky)work is not the future.

I suggest you actually go into Westfield’s to look at the shops see who is shopping there to see that your views of this are plain daft and offensive.

Regarding the "interview" on radio it would appear that some people think if they simply repeat lies and misrepresentations enough times it somehow becomes "truth"?

Anon 2

The vast majority of the users of the Atherton Centre are genuinely concerned about the closure and the future of the centre. That is right and proper. Just because one or two with a political agenda are trying to stir and jump on the bandwagon doesn't really mean anything.

BTW if you use such language in the future your comment will just be deleted.