Council: Olympics will benefit Hackney locals

Photo: Andy Wilkes

Hackney Council held its bi-annual Olympic community meeting last night, during which residents were told, “we are thinking about you” by organisers.

The meeting, at Wally Foster community centre, was attended by around two hundred residents, who had come to hear presentations from the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paraympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC).

At the previous meeting, many residents raised concerns about a lack of communication between locals and the council. But Charlie Forman, Chief Officer for the council’s 2012 Unit, began by telling residents that the “games are not just something that is going to happen to you, but for you.”

Neil Walker of LOCOG said that there were “many opportunities and ways [residents] can get involved” in the Games but also added that “it is key that we get input from the local area in how we can deliver the best possible event.”

After the presentation residents were given a chance to pose questions to Mr Walker.

When asked whether or not the area would have priority over some of the 1100 jobs being made available in Hackney during and after the Olympics, he described how “local residents would be informed of vacancies 24-hours in advance of the rest of London and that all Councils will be informed well in advance”.

Neil McNevin of OPLC presented for the second committee saying that the “feeling of the Olympic Park and how it operates is very important to us”. Mr McNevin discussed how all the new infrastructure would be used after the Games as part of a widespread regeneration programme in the area. Mr Mcnevin said, “it is very important for this area that there are long-term benefits”.

One of the highlights of his presentation was the revelation that the OPLC are currently in talks with multinational giant Google about a possible move to allow the company to use the International Media Centre after the Games have finished. When asked after the presentation whether or not Hackney residents would want a company like Google in their area, Mr Walker said, “it is vey early stages and there are many different options to explore”.

After both presentations, some Hackney residents voiced opinion about the meeting. Ms Mcarthy, 42, a designer, said, “it was good, but some things felt pre-arranged. The question is whether they will keep their promises.”

Neil MacDiarmid, 60, was also nervous about the proposals, “I live right across the canal and so it would be perfect for me to get a job, if they’ll let me have one”.

However, Joan Hardings, a 68-year-old pensioner, was very impressed with the presentations saying, “ I though it went very well, and will vastly improve the area.”

Hackney Council will be hosting another Olympic meeting in six months time. Residents and anyone interested in what was said at the meeting can visit the council’s website to find out more.

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