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Weymouth Olympics broadband delayed by Olympics!

Eight months after the so-called first digital Olympics Weymouth, the home of sailing during London 2012, has just got the high-speed broadband BT promised would be available for the Olympics. Bizarrely, BT blamed the Olympics for delaying the Olympic broadband!

Sailing by...


on the wrong side of the track

It was something of a joy last night to attend the launch at the Institute of Education of Phil Cohen's East London and the Post Olympics. Part of that joy for me was meeting up with commonKnowledge tovarich John Wallett who spoke briefly and featured in the film shown, Lights on for the Territory.
We came away (and made our way on the number 30 to the premiere of The Wick) with lots of swag.
Swag from the launch of On The Wrong Side Of The Track?: see
A review will duly appear in our Books section.

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Another fine Olympic Legacy - Justice for Bolt!

Usain Bolt is to get £500,000 for appearing at this summer's Olympics Anniversary event. Up till now Bolt has been the victim of 'punitive' tax laws which have prevented him earning these absurd sums in the past, but now the law has been changed to rectify this injustice! His British rivals, the likes of Ennis and Farah, will have to make do with a miserable £100,000 or so.

I weep for them!

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The Deferential Olympics

One family seems to be doing nicely out of the Olympics. Mrs Windsor's nephew made a profit out of selling Jubilee and Olympics commemorative items at £3,900 a throw. Mrs Windsor herself was awarded an Honorary BAFTA and was ludicrously described as the 'most memorable Bond girl yet'. The Olympic Park is, of course, named after a famous ship, the QEII. A further example of this interminable sycophancy is the renaming of another local park, Marsh Lane Fields, where the Manor Gardens Allotments were forcibly relocated, as the instantly forgettable Leyton Jubilee Park.

Anyway it seems the people at BAFTA aren't entirely sure that Ms Windsor is the last thing in Bond Girls, given the slightly ambivalent 'yet' tagged on to their award. Perhaps they are hedging their bets in case another Alexandra Kollontai turns up to take centre stage...

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Rage against the LVRPA

The Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in in the post-Olympics discontent with a campaign in South London against paying any more money to the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority in North-East London. Local politicians are annoyed that South London boroughs each pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to maintain the Lea Valley Park, which South Londoners seldom use, when it has just gained tax-payer funded facilities worth £170 million from the Olympics. They've got their own Regional Park in the Wandle Valley and think the money should go there.

Who would have thought one legacy of the Olympics would be an argument over Regional Park Authorities?

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shifting sands?

Silicon Hackney: The (r)evolution of Hackney Wick: Screenshot from Wed 03 Apr 2013 22:52:53 BSTSilicon Hackney: The (r)evolution of Hackney Wick: Screenshot from Wed 03 Apr 2013 22:52:53 BST

Silicon Hackney in a joint enterprise with Space Studios planned a free gig in the White Building, originally for a date in February, booking on Eventbrite, then subsequently postponed until Thursday 4th April, billed as:

Presenters include: Richard Gibbs, from iCity; Will Teasdale, Hackney Council and others.

Until today that billing remained unchanged, but now it transpires that it will be a little less formal. According to announcements from both Silicon Hackney and [ space ]:

We've decided on a slight change of plan for this Thursday's event. We've decided to keep it an informal get together in the Crate Brewery, for like minded indvividuals, start ups, and techies to get together to talk about recent changes in the area. There will be some free beer for those who arrive early. Starting at 7 PM tomorrow.
There is no need to print tickets!!! Just show up.

Of course, we were always only going for that free beer.

Update, 5/4/2013
In the end it turned out there was a table full of free (Crate) beer - Golden, Best and IPA - but no-shows from LBH's Will Teasdale and iCity's Richard Gibbs. According to organiser Christian Ahlert, Gibbs had emailed apologies in the morning on the day. Regrettably, much lower turnout compared to past Silicon Hackney events too, whatever that might mean.

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Bad Boris Dreams

Did Boris have a favourite lilo he used to float around on when he was young? After his ‘Olympic legacy’ floating park on the Thames ‘sank’ into oblivion it seems he has been using bath time to dream up some more lilo type developments for the river and the Royal docks. Boris’ original idea was criticised by objectors as ‘an unwelcome intrusion’ into the river. The Port of London Authority was also unhappy and considered his watery park would be a ‘navigation hazard’. His new plan for homes floating in the Docks has been panned as a ‘Titanic mistake’ by London City Airport campaigner Alan Haughton who says ‘The Royal Docks contains the London City Airport Public Safety Zone - also called a crash zone. The Department for Transport strictly forbids development in a Crash Zone’.

The Royals are also the location of another of Boris’ bubble projects, the expensive and underused Cable Car, while his Barclays bike hire scheme has also come in for criticism over costs and problems with finding or leaving bikes. The bikes couldn’t be taken into the Olympic Park as their Barclays connection meant they would offend Olympic sponsors, the Park where, of course, another Boris project dreamed up on the back of an envelope with Mr Mittal stands, the meccano Orbit, which included ore mined from the site of a Serb concentration camp at Omarska in Bosnia, looking ever more like a misplaced stack of scrap metal. Then of course there were Boris’s other Olympic fantasies like the high jumper over the Westway and the Trafalgar Square Zip Wire which simply bit the dust.

Talking of dust, apparently the EU Commission is investigating Boris for sticking it to the ground with glue sticks during the Olympics to avoid pollution fines. What a piece of work!

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Sustainable conversations?

Went to the latest UEL/LLDC seminar on Sustainability last week and got into a bit of a spat with the speakers and another member of the audience over the sustainability example of London 2012. Samantha Heath of London Sustainability Exchange told us how she had, almost single-handedly, got Ken Livingstone to subscribe to sustainability targets of various kinds back in 2002 to 2004 when she was a member of the Greater London Assembly and how this all depended on Ken making top down decisions, all of which may be true. She had just been telling us what a wonderful example of sustainability the London Olympics had been and how it had created a new culture in the UK. I had to disagree with her that the Olympics had been such a sustainability success given, among other things, the botched remediation, the farce of the turbines and the failure to use the canals to shift materials, none of which she disputed. Another member of the audience chipped in about the sponsors and again she agreed this had not been a success, although she was keen on the torch relay which was a puzzle given the advertising platform it provided for Coca Cola.

However, when I argued with her she became very defensive about the top down approach asking me if I thought it was wrong for her to do this by getting Ken to impose these top down controls. I was confused by this as I hadn’t been talking about that but if it was true that she had been able to convince Ken to change his approach to sustainability before the Olympics or just as the bid was being organised back in 2003, and that was how this change was achieved, then it hadn’t actually needed the Olympics anyway, it was just a Mayoral intervention. Surprisingly she didn’t disagree with this proposition until this provoked another person in the room to go on about how the Olympics was the treasure that everyone was seeking and this meant everyone would follow its example. Samantha then changed her mind and said she also thought the Olympics had provided just such an example.

So interesting to note that the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, of which Samantha is a member, has just produced its final report. She didn’t mention the report once during her talk. Unsurprisingly the report claims the positive outweighed the negative at London 2012. However, the Commission is not so enthusiastic about the example London 2012 is supposed to have created. In fact, it is surprisingly critical. For example, it says it is aware of ‘discussion within government about how to utilise sustainable procurement principles and a commitment to procure sustainably through embedding buying standards into centralised and departmental contracts, as well as supply chain monitoring, with a target date of 2015’ but ‘we can find no evidence of substantive action.’

Samantha was deeply critical of how businesses had approached sustainability in the past, back when she was at the GLA, but was enthusiastic about how London 2012 had raised the bar, particularly in construction. The Commission’s report is less congratulatory. While it claims large projects in the construction sector are following London 2012’s example, it says of small and medium sized projects there is no evidence of such an impact because of ‘Scepticism about the business case, inconsistent approaches to planning, lack of leadership and lack of competence in the supply chain.’

Since then Dr James Tansey, who was appointed by the Vancouver Organising Committee as the first Official Carbon Offset Supplier to an Olympic Games, has criticised London 2012 for abandoning the idea of a carbon neutral Games. "I think London 2012 got it right in terms of building smart, green buildings from the start in the Olympic Park, they were model buildings - wonderful examples of design. But the London Organising Committee stepped away from the concept of carbon neutrality. I don't fully understand what happened there. I think there was pressure on the Olympics from the Government."

Another seminar contribution was offered by Bruce McVean of Beyond Green, who was upset that a report he had helped produce on integrated design back in 2009 had apparently been shelved. The report, which he outlined in his talk, essentially stated there should be co-ordination between different agencies and frameworks should be created to advance sustainability. Both he and Samantha were keen on localism and he seemed to be convinced, and maybe he is right, that the five Olympic Boroughs are now co-ordinating their efforts. However, he wasn’t happy when I disagreed that the Olympics had much to do with this given that the development style pioneered by London 2012 was of external corporations, with the latest run directly by the Mayor of London, taking over territory and powers from the local boroughs.

Other members of the audience had raised questions about housing and the demolition of estates in East London and a conversation of sorts did get under way with Samantha saying it was good we were getting down to talking about the realities facing people until, just as I was beginning to respond on one point, one of the hosts stood up and talked over me asking the speakers a question about the one thing they would like to happen in the future, or something like that, and someone from the LLDC was invited to come up to the front and talk about what they were doing about things like Bruce’s report.

So the brief ‘conversation’ ended and normality was restored. A lot of people had already left. I put on my coat…

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when's the divorce?

The BBC describes the Stadium deal as an "unavoidable marriage". We're left to wonder exactly how much Newham paid for the wedding present?. Coe's concerns weren't for footie of course or he'd have done some research:

"Whisper it quietly, but football fans rarely want to watch football in an Olympic Stadium".

Maybe 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles' will take on a new significance?

Update 4/4/2012:
London_2012_Olympic_Stadium_West_Ham_football_mode.jpg: Plan for the retractable seating in football mode.Plans for the retractable seating have been revealed. It could be worse.

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another Olympic inflation - terrorism arrests

Olympics inflation comes in all forms. The Home Office has released figures showing terrorism arrests rose by 60% in the year up to September 2012 by comparison with the previous year with a doubling of arrests in the period April - June almost doubling over the same period in 2011. Around 18% of the 245 arrested, 45, were charged with a terrorism-related offence of which 25 are still awaiting trial.

Maybe one of these is the suspect in the 'most serious security alert' to occur in the run up to the Olympics.

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