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Higgins bl*gs again

Following the criticism of his posting about Stratford City (see 2012 Blog**ng Lies and Censorship) Mr Higgins seems to have been alerted to a negative comment from another respondent, dg (see below), who also pointed out that Stratford City was planned before the Olympic Bid was won. So our Dave had another shot at convincing blog readers that Stratford City really is an Olympic gain (see further below). Apart from dg the only other responses came from some very impressionable shopaholics or possibly ODA staff!

Mr Higgins fell back on the now proverbial credit crunch to justify the inclusion of Stratford City in the legacy. He claimed this was the idea he was trying to get across in his original blog. Unfortunately he forgot to actually mention it, which presumably was why he needed a second bite of the cherry.

It’s a strange argument given that the credit crunch is still crunching and the ODA is not investing any funds in the project. Presumably the private equity outfit Westfield, which specialises in loading its projects with debt to avoid paying tax, quite a handy skill in a credit drought, still thinks it can turn a profit from the project. Given that billions of pounds are being put into Stratford and its sister shopping centre in Shepherds Bush it is unlikely a short term economic downturn is going to deflect Westfield. In fact it may even relish the prospect of its business coming on stream just as the economy starts to come round.

The ODA chief executive also claims Westfield was persuaded by the ODA’s investment in infrastructure connections to the local community. No doubt some of the infrastructure being put in place for the Games will assist Stratford City. However, it has to be pointed out that the original plans did include means for people to get to the shopping centre! If the ODA’s activities assist Stratford City then I am sure Westfield will be only too happy to offer thanks. After all it has already rebranded Stratford City as Stratford 2011 in order to give the appearance of being part of the 2012 project. They must be laughing all the way to the bank!

I did try to post a reply along the lines above but, unsurprisingly, this didn’t make it and neither did my final comment:

"I see that Mr Higgins, an officer of a publicly funded organisation, gets a second bite of the cherry. Yet when I, a tax paying former resident of an estate demolished to make way for this publicly funded project, tried to post a comment I found my contribution was removed after it had been put up. So let's see if this comment makes it onto this publicly funded website."

2012 Blog

Comments for this post:

• 2 Sep 2008, 04:16PM, missdenmark said:
oh my god, GREAT idea!!! :Dthen you can go shopping, if you're not in the mood for olympics!! :D :D LOVE IT. (:

• 2 Sep 2008, 05:23PM, dg said:
It'll be great to have some decent shops in Stratford at last.But it's disingenuous to suggest that the Stratford City shopping centre is "a huge vote of confidence in the London 2012 Games". It was already planned before our Olympic bid was won.

• 3 Sep 2008, 12:04PM, Stephan said:
"which will create one of the largest shopping centres in Europe" Wow, its going to be huge!! Bigger than the MetroCentre?

• 3 Sep 2008, 05:44PM, Phil G said:
Thats brilliant! It will create a lot of business for the economy, and will help benifit the local area.

• 5 Sep 2008, 02:34PM, David Higgins said:

Dear dg

Thanks for your comment on my blog. You are quite right to say that the shopping centre was planned before the Games. The point I was trying to make was that in the current economic climate very few developments are going ahead as companies are choosing not to invest. Westfield’s decision to proceed was only enabled by the ODA’s decision to invest up to £1/2 bn in infrastructure linking the Stratford site to the surrounding community.

The fact that Westfield have pressed on with their investment and remain committed to Stratford City is obviously linked to the fact the Games will be taking place in 2012. As you say – it will change the shopping experience at Stratford and be an important part of the regeneration of the area.

Thank you for your interest in London 2012.

David Higgins, Chief Executive,

Yes, thanks Dave!

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