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If you go down to the Park today…

Last weekend I decided to pay a short visit to Clays Lane to see what was happening to the old homestead in Crabtree Courtyard as the Travellers have reported that demolition has started on the housing. From the roadway outside the estate looked untouched apart from some windows being knocked in. The Travellers have been complaining about dust and noise from the site and the flow of heavy vehicles along the service road.

When I arrived all seemed quiet. The Travellers were still there and I couldn’t see any security guards around. Near the gate next to the Park Village tower blocks the fence had been opened so that people could get in and out round the gate. I was curious at the lack of security so decided to go onto the site to have a quick look around.

I clambered up the embankment next to Bamford Courtyard in quick time and made my way around the end of the building to look at Crabtree and found it had been demolished. Moving on I saw that the inside half of Bamford and Brook Courtyards as well as part of Cooper had also been knocked down. So people visiting the site and looking up at the estate from the road below could easily be deceived into thinking the site was untouched and the Travellers were complaining about nothing.

I decided I had seen enough and also noticed a vehicle moving around on the next door Park Village site and decided to leave. However, as I made my way to the steps next to where Crabtree had been I found myself confronted by four or five security guards, who had appeared from nowhere all talking into walkie-talkies!

I headed down the steps to go back to the hole in the fence but one of the guards ran ahead to close the fence. They told me I shouldn’t be there. I said I used to live there and wanted to see what had happened to my home. There was no work going on so I wasn’t interrupting anything or anyone or in any danger from machinery or falling masonry. I asked how I was supposed to leave now that they had pushed the fence back into place. They said I had to stay and be let out of the gate. It seemed someone was on their way to talk to me.

By now I was standing in front of the gate and it occurred to me there was plenty of room to just roll underneath it. So without further ado I got on the ground and did just that. The guards were very unhappy about this and told me to stop and one on the other side of the gate tried to use his legs to prevent me getting through. However, the space underneath was large enough get through so there was no difficulty avoiding them and I just walked away to my car. I hadn’t broken in, damaged anything, taken anything, hit or threatened anyone and the fence was open. I didn’t think they had the power to arrest me anyway.

As I was driving away two cars were coming towards Clays Lane from the main security base at Quartermile Lane. As I was approaching the exit to Temple Mills Lane one of these tried to block my path by parking in the middle of the road. In fact the road was wide enough to drive around this car. The second car was just arriving as I drove off up Temple Mills Lane.

The ODA is investing a lot of money in ‘securing’ the site, although not very effectively, but fails to control contractors who create dust and noise, which affects those left behind. This happened at Park Village when the low rise housing was demolished and has been happening again at Clays Lane since residents left as the Travellers have reported. The Olympic site is just another building site and the idea that an army of guards is needed to protect it, attempt to detain harmless intruders who make it plain they are only taking a cursory look when no work is going and even try to block roads with their vehicles is ridiculous.

No doubt the ODA would refer to health and safety and the need to ensure the public’s safety because we are all totally incompetent and a sixty year old cannot possibly be let loose on a building site even when nothing is going on. However, when we protest at the lack of health and safety in terms of dust control, radioactive waste and information about contamination we are brushed aside by authorities, who often simply failed to respond. It would be better for the ODA to spend the money on proper development control to ensure that contractors behave themselves and protect nearby residents rather than operating like a security state within a state.

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