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Clays Lane Travellers demolition Hell

WORK has begun to demolish a housing estate close to where travellers are living, despite an apparent promise from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to not start work on the site until after they moved.

A travellers' community is being removed from their home of more than 30 years to make way for the Olympics. They are being moved to a site in Major Road, near the Leyton border. The move has been delayed constantly due to delays with the preparation of the new site.

Now demolition work has started on the old co-operative housing estate on Clays Lane, creating problems of dust and noise for the travellers. This, according to the travellers, contravenes a promise made by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) at a meeting and in written statements not to start demolition work until the travellers had moved.

Traveller Tracie Giles said: "The workers and security guards are wearing masks but we are living and breathing all the dust, the road is full of lorries and vans where small children are playing. "We can no longer believe the ODA when they say they are taking us into account"

The promise was also made in an ODA response to a report by the London & Gypsy Travellers' Unit. The document said: "An agreement in place, no demolition works whilst Clays Lane Travellers are on site." But an ODA spokesman said that the promise only related to demolition work on the UEL buildings and not work on the co-operative estate next to it. He said: "We have honoured in full our commitment not to demolish the UEL flats and to monitor and minimise dust and noise levels until they have moved to their new site.

"The ODA consulted with the travellers before long-planned work began demolishing parts of the Clays Lane estate." Currently, the London Development Agency is liasing with Newham Homes to determine the date when the site can be handed over. An LDA spokesman said he expected the handover to be complete by the end of the week with the long-awaited move happening next week.

SIR Robin Wales has become the latest politician to get involved in the saga of the Clays Lane travellers. The directly-elected Mayor of Newham has written to the London Development Agency's (LDA) Olympic land director Gareth Blacker and other officials to complain about the way the travellers have been treated.
The travellers say their move has been postponed nine times. Sir Robin said: "For people to be told on a number of occasions that they are moving and then for it not to take place is not right and not fair.

Traveller Tracie Giles said: "We are pleased the Mayor recognises the stress we have been under for so long. "As residents and taxpayers of Newham, we feel it's a pity that he felt unable to support us a year ago when we were suddenly told our site would be built on the local park that we and other residents have used for years"

From: OLYMPIC SITE: Demolition work is making life hell, Carl Brown , Waltham Forest Guardian, 19th September 2007

More at: WF Guardian


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