Residents voice concerns over Olympics screens

The Pavilion Cafe at Victoria Park pic: Gordon Joly

Victoria Park users and residents are calling for a public consultation on plans to screen the Olympics in the park as they are concerned about the effect the event will have on the local area.

Locals say the events from July 26 to August 12 will finish too late and the number expected to attend – 75,000 people each day – is too high.

Local residents expressed their concern that “current proposed plans for the Olympic Live Site do not take into account the needs of residents and the proximity of many houses to the park,” Plouto, 31, from Bow, said.

Tower Hamlets councillors have also been voicing their criticism of some of the plans for the park in 2012, including Joshua Peck, leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group.

Peck spoke of the history of commercial events at the park and said: “Live Site is a great opportunity for Tower Hamlets and residents.”

But the councillor added: “People have a right to be listened to. We don’t think, by any means, a proper impact assessment has been made.”

However, Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets Mayor, said: “I know that residents around the park are concerned about noise and amenity but it is important to acknowledge that 2012 is special with both the Games and the Jubilee celebrations.”

“I want the people of Tower Hamlets to have the chance to experience the Olympic Games.  Politicians from all parties wanted the Games to come to East London with the proviso that this leaves a lasting legacy.”

“I have been fighting to ensure that local people can experience the greatest show on earth which is why I signed the agreement with Locog in February 2011”, Rahman added.

Live Nation say they will show the Games on a number of screens with BBC live coverage from noon until 10.30 on Sunday to Thursday, until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays and until midnight on the opening and closing ceremony days.

An online petition created by Janet Wade, former secretary of the Victoria Park Friends Group, says the events should finish at 10.30pm at the latest: “We’ve known [the park] would be used, but we are concerned with finishing times, capacity and dispersal. We don’t think the area will be able to cope.”

Wade resigned from the Victoria Park Friends Group earlier this month. She said this was “partly because of delays in improvement works and because of the complete lack of consultation” on the plans for Olympics screening.

The online petition also calls for the events to have a maximum capacity of 30,000 and for decisions to be made after a consultation. There are currently 242 signatures for the petition.

Not all Victoria Park users are opposed to the proposals: “I am very happy with the proposals for the Live Site and would presume that its management will go through all the normal safety and organisational processes. I am concerned that various local residents use the Friends Group as a forum to vent their concerns”, a resident said.

The local resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, added: “Many regular park users are happy with the events but are not active on the friends group (precisely because they don’t have an issue!) Park users include the 30k happy concertgoers for each event!”

Live Nation set up a consultation on November 15 before applying for planning permission and a time-limited Premises Licence. They have given residents until December 1 to contact them with any comments on their proposals. Yet Wade said that the consultation was only sent to those who live directly by Victoria Park: “None of the people in the dispersal route got a letter.”

Originally hoping to hire the venue out for £600,000, Tower Hamlets Council is allowing events promoter Live Nation to host the series of events at the park for over £442,000. The council has secured an £80,000 deposit from the promoter, but if the council violates any terms agreed between the two parties including undertaking “promotional activity without Live Nation’s prior approval”, their liability is up to £20 million.

The events promoter has announced it will also show the Games on giant screens in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square.


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