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Sustaining, supporting and reviewing communities

One of the proudest boasts of those promoting the London Olympics was that they saw 'sustaining and supporting' local communities as a key objective. At Clays Lane the first thing the LDA did was lie to residents telling them their estate would be demolished even if the Olympics didn't come. At Leabank Square the ODA threatened legal action for defamation when residents made some pointed remarks about the performance of the community liaison officer on their own estate blogspot. At Wanstead Flats the Government overturned the Epping Forest Act in order to grab a piece of land for a police barracks.

At Leyton Marsh the ODA told local people there would be no children's open day at the basketball training facility because they had dared to protest at the blatant breach of planning rules by the authorities. Further supportive action included taking out an injunction, launching prosecutions resulting in an ASBO for one protester, jail terms for others and remand in custody for a photographer and seeking court costs of over £20,000 when local people tried to challenge the breach of planning rules. When Save Leyton Marsh held its MarshRoots celebration on Saturday 21st October a patrol turned up and warned them not to cause any damage to the site right next to where the ODA had failed to meet its deadline for restoring the ground and where a large area of rain soaked mud was still fenced off to keep out local people.

Plainly thinking it had not been sufficiently 'supportive' the ODA then sent an email demanding Save Leyton Marsh supply a copy of its calendar saying it wanted to 'review' it! Save Leyton Marsh had already been subjected to the scrutiny of its artistic endeavours when a local venue which was hosting a fund raising event was told to expect a visit from the security services and posters of the event were taken down by officers, thought to be from Waltham Forest Council, no doubt for a similar review as that now proposed by the ODA.

The Olympics has involved all kinds of creative activities by the authorities, mostly in the field of fictional descriptions of their projects, but 'sustaining and supporting' communities plainly now includes the criticism of artistic productions.


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