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Don't want the Olympics? The fightback is on!

Don't want the Olympics in your city? Then follow the example of NoBoston2014 and get campaigning before you even get to be a candidate (shortlisted) city. If you're unlucky enough to become a candidate city then learn some lessons from groups like NoChicago2016 or Comité Anti Olympique d'Annecy and enjoy avoiding becoming the host city. Of course things get harder the further up that Olympic mountain you go, but don't despair, even at the last minute voters can turn down the Games even after they have been awarded to the city as with Denver1976. The recent trouble the IOC has had with growing opposition in cities such as Munich (2022), Hamburg (2024), Vienna (2028), Budapest (2024), protests in Tokyo (2020), Oslo (2022), Krakow (2022), Stockholm (2022), St Moritz (2022), Rome (2020), Lviv (2022), limited support in Washington (2024), withdrawals on grounds of cost by Chicago (2024) New York (2024) and Philadelphia (2024), Seattle (2024), uncertainty in Paris (2024) shows both governments and citizens are getting wise.


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They went and did it! 500-year-old primeval forest at Mount Gariwang unlawfully destroyed for 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

By Rebecca Kim - Researcher at the Democracy & Social Movement Institute, SungkongHoe University, Seoul

Pyeongchang2018 has completed the destruction of the primeval forest which has stood on Mount Gariwang for hundreds of years to make way for the Alpine Downhill ski event which will last for all of three days.

Destruction at Mount GariwangDestruction at Mount Gariwang This act and its unbelievable criminality have gone almost entirely unreported and unremarked in the world’s media. It is a measure of the hypocrisy and ruthlessness of the various organisations involved, the International Olympic Committee, the International Ski Federation, POCOG (Pyeonghang2018 Organising Committee), the South Korean Government and its provincial authorities, that all have protested their concern for the environment even as they have trashed this ecological jewel. Just after it had begun its destruction of this forest the South Korean government hosted the XII Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP12) and Peyongchang, Gangwon Province, was the venue for the Convention. The participant Parties were to bring forward national action plans to achieve the ‘Aichi Biodiversity Targets’ by 2020, which are designed to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss and improve biodiversity status by safeguarding natural habitats and ecosystems. Ridiculously, the participants then adopted the ‘Gangwon Declaration on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development’ just as this vital biodiverse ecosystem was being cut down on their very doorstep!

It was left to the visiting delegations from Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition to issue strongly worded statements condemning the actions of the South Korean government and the Olympic authorities, denunciations which were, of course, ignored by those organisations. The GFC said

“the planned ski course would cause major damage to a site of both ecological and cultural importance, as it is one of the oldest sacred forests in South Korea. The forests on Mount Gariwang are not ‘restorable’ to their original state because they are composed of an intrinsically balanced mixture of tens of different temperate broad leaf and coniferous tree species.”

And FoEI said

“The situation at Mount Gariwang reminds us of similar situations in other countries who accept to organize big sports events. There is already existing infrastructure in the region that can be used for the Olympic Games, and it is both ecologically and economically damaging to build a new ski slope to be used for three days only. The Olympic Games should promote the protection of nature, not devastate it.”

Ha-Bong before destruction (Photo Green Korea United)Ha-Bong before destruction (Photo Green Korea United)

In point of fact there is nothing surprising about these events. In 1995 the International Olympic Committee declared the environment to be the Third Dimension of Olympism. However, ever since at Nagano (1998), Salt Lake City (2002), Turin (2006),Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014) the Winter Olympics has continued to wreak varying degrees of environmental damage. The last two Games have been no exception. The re-routing of the Vancouver–Whistler Sea-to-Sky Highway at the allegedly green Vancouver Olympics led to the construction of a four lane highway through what British Columbia’s own environmental survey described as the “most significant area for plant diversity" along the entire Sea-to-Sky Highway at Eagleridge Bluffs, where biologists identified 22 "regionally rare or significant plants." The recent Sochi Olympics resulted in some of the worst damage yet. Biologist Aleksei Yablokov, who has been at the forefront of the environmental movement in Russia since the 1980s, described the devastation:

"The preparation for the Olympics can only be called intolerable barbarism," he said. "Wetlands of international importance have been destroyed in the Imeretinskaya Lowland. The territory of the Caucasus State Reserve, which was thought to be untouchable, has been damaged. The Mzymta River has been ravaged. And this is just a small part of what is going on there."

Now it’s the turn of South Korea, which is hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Despite having the opportunity to use an alternative site the Olympic and South Korean authorities chose to smash their way through what is probably the most important forest on the Korean Peninsula. The Olympic authorities have made much of the fact that they changed the construction plan and chose not to destroy the right hand side of the mountain site by not building the Women’s Course there. However, it turned out even this alteration was made because of the cost of construction and not, as they claimed, because Gangwon Province and the FIS ‘considered’ the negative impact on the environment. Top of Ha-Bong (Photo Green Korea United)Top of Ha-Bong (Photo Green Korea United)

After an initial felling in August, which was stopped after protests by environmental groups, the Gangwon provincial government pushed ahead in September with a massive, unlawful felling at the Ha-bong (‘bong’ means a mountain top) slope construction site on Mount Gariwang. The Games are being held in Gangwon Province some 150kms east of Seoul. When I arrived at the site on 27th September with a group of Korean environmental activists I witnessed the full extent of the criminality committed on the sacred Gariwang mountain. A huge area on the top of Ha-bong had been shaved and large trees with a trunk diameter of over 1 metre had been cut down and moved away.

A team of activists had found that on the upper part of Ha-bong there were 247 big and old trees in total, including 150 Quercus mongolica (Mongolian Oak), 37 Kalopanax septemlobus (Prickly Castor Oil Tree), 14 Betula ermani var. ganjuensis (Ganjuan Birch), 12 Abies holophylla (Manchurian Fir). Experts say that it takes 70 years for the Quercus mongolica to grow as big as 45cm at chest height, for the Kalopanax septemlobus it takes 90 years, and for the Betula ermani var. ganjuensis, also known as the Wangsasre, a hybrid birch unique to Korea, it takes 60 years at least. According to the 'Naturality' scale established by the South Korean Ministry of Environment, a forest with trees aged more than 20~50 year-old trees is categorised as "virgin forest" and scaled 'degree 8', while a forest with trees aged over 50 year-old trees is considered to be a "climax forest" and scaled 'degree 9'. All forests from degree 8~10 are supposed to be strictly protected from any kind of development activities. This giant oak (Quercus mongolica) on Mt. Kariwang-san is probably one of the oldest of the species in the countryThis giant oak (Quercus mongolica) on Mt. Kariwang-san is probably one of the oldest of the species in the country

Right after the massive felling, which began on 17th September, a team including staff from the Wonju Office of the Ministry of Environment and POCOG along with representatives from environmental groups, the Good Friends of Nature-Korea and Green Korea United, visited the site, as ordered in the 'EIA', to check that the contractor was carrying out the promised 'transplantation'. This transplantation had been promised by the government as part of its programme of restoration to overcome the opposition of environmental groups to the desecration of Mount Gariwang. Some environmentalists, notably the Good Friends of Nature, had remained unconvinced by the idea that the forest could be restored and continued to oppose the project and in the run up to the felling a coalition of environmental groups had protested at the inadequacy of the transplantation programme and called for the downhill event to be moved and Mount Gariwang to be spared the devastation they feared would befall it.

What the civil society representatives found was completely outrageous and exceeded their worst expectations. The Wonju District Office of the Ministry of the Environment had issued ‘Recommendations Co-discussed with Gangwon Provincial Government’ in August which stated: “prior to the felling work, there must be: a panel of experts by discipline area; a completion of re-evaluation and marking of the trees to be transplanted; an advanced transplantation of the shrubbery and herbaceous flowers; an accompaniment by vegetation experts while the felling takes place”. However, the promised ‘transplantation’ was not being put into practice and there was not a single ‘expert’ on site to oversee the work as stipulated by the Ministry of Environment.

In reality this ‘transplantation’ plan never amounted to anything. Even when it was first devised it covered only 121 (2.2%) out of 5,315 big trees with a height of over 8m. The government claims the total number of the trees to be felled is about 50,000, civil organisations say it is over 120,000. However, with time even that original very limited transplantation plan had shrunk and Gangwon Province now refuses outright to transplant any trees with a height of over 5m. In other words, they choose not to ‘transplant’ what must be transplanted and restored but only what can easily be moved. The contractor did not even have the list of the rare endemic plants, 11species including Allium microdictyon, Viola diamantica, Cacalia firma Koma, Disporum ovale Ohwi, Iris odaesanensis, Paeonia obovata Maxim, which were to be transplanted. The activists found numerous rare endemic plants crushed and rotting on the ground. The transplanting that had been done was skimpy and shoddy, the bare minimum, as Dr Lee of the Good Friends of Nature put it, 'to save the contractor's butt'. The contractor is refusing to transplant 'all the 11 species on the site', as stipulated in the EIA, but only those 'in their work area'. Grandma Ash (photo by Nam, Joonki)Grandma Ash (photo by Nam, Joonki)

Instead of insisting that the EIA be implemented by the contractor POCOG, the Pyeongchang organising committee, made excuses saying that as the transplanting process is very tricky, because they also have to move the soil along with the plants to a temporary artificial habitat near to the felling zone before then transplanting the plants to a ‘similar environment’ on the sides of the slope and later, after the Games, to a site at the bottom of the lift area, they had to 'volume down' the amount of plants to be transplanted. However, not only had they reduced the volume of plants but the work they had done was of a very poor standard. In addition, a large number of trees including rare Quercus mongolica and Abies nephrolepis (Khingan Fir), the latter species was to be transplanted, were found just felled and moved away. Among the most precious trees to be destroyed was one affectionately known as ‘Grandma Mountain God Ash Tree’ which was reckoned to be two hundred and twenty years old and the largest of its kind in Korea. what's left of Grandma Ash (photo by Nam, Joonki)what's left of Grandma Ash (photo by Nam, Joonki)

About Mount Gariwang

Mount Gariwang, which has been described as an ‘Ecological Ark of Ancient Forest’, is not just important for its flora and fauna. It is one of the most important mountain areas on the Korean peninsula, historically, culturally and ecologically. On the National Forest marking stone at the top of the mountain there is a legend that the name of Gariwang is a modification of 'Gal Wang'. The legend says that King Gal took refuge in a temple on the mountain, 'Seoshimtoe’, now in ruins. King Gal was believed to be either a King from ancient China or a king from the old tribal kingdom 'Maek guk'. The 'Maek' inhabited the central and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula and southern Manchuria and a branch of this tribe created the Korean Kingdom of Goguryeo (BC 37-668) in that region, the largest of the 'Three Kingdoms' of Korea (from 1st Century BC to 7th Century AD). The mountain was called 'Gal Wang san’ (Gal King mountain) and the sound was slowly changed to today's 'Gariwang san'.

Later the mountain became associated with the Chosun dynasty


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Social Housing, Not Social Cleansing

By @FocusE15

Focus E15 Open House occupation on the Carpenters Estate


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Environmental groups stop Pyeongchang2018 cutting down forest at Mount Gariwang

The giant "Wangsasure," the signature wood species in Mt. Kariwang-sanThe giant "Wangsasure," the signature wood species in Mt. Kariwang-san

The argument over the Pyeongchang2018 downhill course at Mount Gariwang continues. Recently green activists noticed that the authorities were starting to cut down trees on the mountain. The coalition of South Korean environment groups arguing with the government over the so-called restoration programme immediately protested pointing out that no agreement had yet been reached over this restoration programme. No work on the mountain is allowed to begin until this programme is agreed and the environmental coalition has so far rejected the Government's proposals for restoring the forest after the Olympics. The Department of the Environment then intervened to stop the work.

In a petition launched on Avaaz calling on the International Olympic Committee and the South Korean Government to prevent the destruction of the forest Mount Gariwang is described as:

The site of the largest plantation of wangsasre trees, a hybrid Aspen-Birch, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula. It is also the home of rare yew trees and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea. Conservationists describe Mount Gariwang as a 'Super-A' class site. Historically Gariwang mountain has a very special meaning for the Korean people. For five centuries from the late 14th century during the Chosun dynasty the mountain was under state protection during which time it was a ‘royal, forbidden mountain’.


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Mega Sporting Events, Politics & Security in Brazil & Scotland in 2014

Policing of World Cup 2014 protest in Brazil: photo: mediaNINJAphoto: MídiaNINJA

by Janine Ewen, originally published on June 25, 2014 in RioOnWatch.

The World Cup in Brazil has brought unprecedented criticism of the ways in which sporting mega-events are organized and scrutiny over who actually benefits. Though distinct in context and scale, the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2014 to be hosted in Scotland draws a comparison with the World Cup in Brazil and the way such events are politically charged. The Commonwealth Games 2014 (G2014), to be hosted by the city of Glasgow in Scotland has been described by Shona Robison, Scotland’s Minister for Sport and Equality, as having the “core value of equality, aiming to engage individuals from all backgrounds.” The event will begin on July 23, just ten days after the World Cup final in Brazil. Just a few days before the World Cup kicked off in São Paulo last week, President Dilma Rousseff hosted an exclusive dinner for journalists and other critics of the World Cup to promote the investment on infrastructure projects in Brazil and to dissolve uncertainty of FIFA’s presence in the twelve host cities. Despite the show of confidence, protests and intense international media coverage over the last year have exposed Brazil’s inequalities, corruption, misplaced public priorities and human rights violations to the world. Commonwealth Games host city Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland and third largest city in the UK, is also widely known for its political and social problems, with high crime, poverty, mortality, unemployment and overall deprivation rates. It was recently announced the UK’s sickest city. With evident social problems and increasing emphasis on the “legacy” as a justifying tool for mega-events, there is pressure for both Brazil and Scotland to achieve a sustainable legacy, but host “goals” extend beyond successfully realizing the events and legacy plans.


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Manor Gardens Allotments - The Scandal Continues

Oh what a lovely Legacy! The media are long gone but the scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotments Society (MGS) at the hands of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), Waltham Forest Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation LLDC) continues.

As part of the deal stitched together to prevent the MGS’s return to the Queen Elizabeth Aftermath Olympic Park (QEOP) at Eton Manor following their temporary relocation to Marsh Lane Fields, now ludicrously named The Jubilee Park, a Section 106 agreement had to be drawn up by the three conspiring ‘authorities’. The purpose of this was to provide plots at the now permanent allotment site at Marsh Lane in lieu of those no longer to be provided at Eton Manor and to divide up the costs of creating a meadow in their place at Eton Manor.

The LVRPA voted this agreement through without telling anyone, including the MGS, in May of this year. The text of the document presented to the Executive Committee states:

It is understood some kind of ‘understanding’ was reached between the London Development Agency (LDA) and the MGS in 2007 to ensure that following the Games the MGS would return to a site allocated for allotments somewhere on QEOP’.


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South Korean Environment Groups Protest Destruction of Mount Gariwang Virgin Forest

When South Korea launched its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics it was claimed Mount Gariwang was the only possible site for the downhill competition. However, a coalition of environmental groups, the Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, has recently discovered the Rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS-Ski) allow for a shorter track, under ‘exceptional circumstances’. In a letter to the FIS-Ski, see below, the Joint Committee asks for clarification of the rule and why this was not made known at the time.

These South Korean environmental groups consider they were misled when the Bid for Pyeongchang2018 was put forward and point out there is a viable alternative at a neighbouring ski resort at Yongpyong. They are now refusing to co-operate with the ‘recovery’ programme for the forest. The South Korean Olympic authorities have only just carried out an environmental assessment of the forest, which is laughable in itself given that this forest had been designated by the South Korean Forestry Service as site for the 'Protection of flora genes and forest Eco-systems'. The designation was changed when Pyeongchang was chosen to host the Winter Olympics to allow the site to be destroyed for the downhill event.

Whatever the alternatives, the proposal to cut down this virgin forest, home to the largest plantation of Wangsasure trees, a hybrid Aspen unique to the Korean peninsular, made a mockery of the IOC’s claim that the environment is its ‘third dimension’. It was always an outrage to sacrifice a forest of this quality for a few days of skiing.

Letter to the FIS

Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain
71-16 Yulseok-ri, Wabue-eup, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
International Ski Federation
Blochstrasse 2; CH- 3653 Oberhofen / Thunersee
Switzerland

3rd April, 2014

To whom it may concern:

We, Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, is an umbrella group comprised of nature-protection civil organizations in Korea.

We have made efforts to prevent Korean government’s decision to build an Alpine downhill ski competition complex in one and only, the largest, the oldest and most diverse, taxus cuspidate habitat in Korea – Gariwang Mountain lying in both Jeongsun and Pyeongchang counties – from being fully realized. As you can see on the map below, the expected slope-construction site includes a vast area of Gariwang Mountain, which has long been designated by the State as ‘Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resource Conservation (the red circle)’.

But when the 2018 Winter Olympics was decided to be held in Pyeongchang in 2011, the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) completely ignored this most important fact and hurried into vote with the lawless, absolutely unforgivable ‘promise’ to build a new Alpine downhill ski competition venue in this very Gariwang Mountain.

We recently found out from your official website, particularly from the “particular rules for the different events” in “The International Ski Competition Rules (ICR) – Book IV Joint Regulations for Alpine Skiing”(web edition, July 2013), that in case of downhill competitions, the vertical drop of men’s courses for Olympic Winter Games is regulated from 800m to 1100m, and in exceptional cases, 750m (p.80).

We would like to receive your confirmation about this information. Is this correct? Does this mean that it would be alright to have the competitions unless the ski slope (the difference between the highest and the lowest points) go shorter than 750m?

If this is true, then it means a lot to us. Then it means that Gariwang Mountain is NOT the only available candidate for a new Alpine downhill ski competitions venue. Then it means we actually have many other pre-existing options around Pyongchang area, including the FIS-certified Yongpyong Ski Resort. Then it means that Mr. president of POCOG, Kim, Jinseon, ‘fooled’ the entire country claiming as if there was no other alternative than Gariwang Mountain for the new slope venue, as if we needed a new venue.

Upon receiving your confirmation, we are scheduled to organize our side’s actions to stop this monstrous ‘project’ being pushed forward not only by Gangwon Province and Korean government (that recently nudged Korea Forest Service to ‘lift’ Gariwang Mountain off the protection list), but also by POCOG and IOC, whether the latter has known about this or not.

Looking forward your swift reply,

Rebecca Kim
rebeccakim.asia@gmail.com

On behalf of the
Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain

****

Reference

About why Gariwang Mountain MUST BE PROTECTED no matter what


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Tessa Jowell - Joan of Arc of the Allotments?

This article has been modified on receipt of further information.

London's failed Olympic Legacy creates strange bedfellows. It seems London2012's scandalous allotments' legacy, which has been totally ignored up to now by politicians and journalists, has scandalised former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, who has weighed in accusing the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority of breaking the promise made to the Manor Gardens Allotment Society.

In a letter dated 25th March 2014 sent to Dennis Hone, CEO of the LLDC, and copied to Shaun Dawson, CEO of the LVRPA, Martin Esom, CEO of Waltham Forest Council, and Phillip Lewis, Chair of the LLDC Planning Committee, she points out that the Manor Gardens Society 'co-operated' with London2012 following 'assurances' that 're-provision would be made within the Olympic Park'. This had resulted in a decision to create two sites at 'Eton Manor and the southern areas of the park'. However, the decision by the LLDC on 25th February 2014 to agree an application by Waltham Forest, supported by the LVRPA, to create 'community landscaping' in place of the allotments at Eton Manor means:

'the MSG members have had the commitment to them broken. It was the responsibility of the planning committee to ensure that the promise made is met.'


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Charges dropped against Games Monitor whistle blower

Before the London Olympics documents allegedly leaked, hacked, obtained from private "intelligence" company Stratfor showed that Games Monitor had attracted the interests of this intelligence gathering outfit, whose client list includes Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical. Having read Stratfor's intelligence report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne I would urge clients of Stratfor to think again before renewing contracts as the information in their report on Games Monitor and Julian Cheyne was inaccurate. The article below is from Democracy Now.


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West Ham - The Property Developer's Legacy

The media has fallen over itself to provide sympathetic coverage of West Ham's sale of their Boleyn ground. The Guardian headlined their article saying West Ham ‘agree’ to sell the old home ground as if this was something they would have preferred not to do instead of pointing out that developing the Boleyn ground was the whole point of the move to the Aftermath Park.


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The Genocide Games - Circassians protest in London against Sochi2014

Circassians protest outside Russia's London EmbassyCircassians protest outside Russia's London Embassy


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Building the Olympic Park on this flood plain has consequences

At 7.20am on Saturday 1 February I received an automated phone call, at home in Lower Clapton in Hackney, from the Environment Agency warning me about the high risk of flooding from the River Lee. At the same time I received this email from them:


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East London 'Regeneration' vs. Young Mothers

By Dan Hancox

Focus E15 Mothers occupation: Image: Focus E15 Mothers's photos in < href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.652488504794505.1073741840.602860129757343&type=3">PARTY!photo: Focus E15 Mothers's photos on Facebook


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One man demonstration in Seoul against destruction of virgin forest for Pyeongchang 2018

Kijun Kim demonstrating against destruction of forest for OlympicsKijun Kim demonstrating against destruction of forest for Olympics

Kijun Kim started a one man demonstration on 20th January 2014 in the centre of Seoul to protest against the destruction of the unique forest habitat at Mount Kariwang for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Little attention has been paid in the media, both national and international, to the environmental destruction which is about to be perpetrated at Pyeongchang. He plans to continue his demonstration for one hundred days. His placard says:

'Mount Kariwan, the best virgin forest in South Korea will be destroyed by the construction of a ski slope for the Winter Olympics'


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Manor Gardens Allotments: a Scandalous Legacy

The scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotment Society continues. In the autumn of 2007 the allotments were forcibly, but supposedly temporarily, removed to Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton, now ridiculously renamed Jubilee Park. The original planning permission was granted by Waltham Forest on the strict condition that this was to be a temporary relocation and the allotments were to return to the Olympic Park, although not to their original site, now part of the 'Not the largest new urban park in Europe for 150 years'. Indeed, back in February 2007 so determined was Waltham Forest to ensure the allotments should return that it threatened to throw a spanner in the works when it turned down the LDA’s first planning application forcing the LDA to offer concessions and reapply.

Allotment 4: photo by Martin SlavinAllotment 4: photo by Martin Slavin

But as many predicted at the time once created the likelihood was the allotments at Marsh Lane would not be removed come the end of the Olympics. And so it has transpired with Waltham Forest giving permission for a permanent set of allotments. For the New Lamas Lands Defence Committee, which campaigned to retain the open space at Marsh Lane, this has been a bitter pill to swallow. Not only has the open space been lost but environmental measures which were supposed to have been taken to screen the allotments have never been carried out.

Now the ‘scandal’, as far as Waltham Forest is concerned, is the notion that open space in the Olympic Park should be ‘lost’ to allotments. The original plan was for the allotments to be returned to a site at Eton Manor. Not all the allotments mind you. The LDA refused to treat the allotments as a society, which it was, only agreeing to the return of those individual allotment holders who had moved from the original site.


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Crossrail and Olympics blacklisting disputes vindicated as MPs grill HR director Pat Swift

By Blacklist Support Group

Campaigners celebrated yesterday (Wed 18 Dec) claiming the bitter year long blacklisting dispute on Crossrail and protests at Olympics were totally vindicated following evidence given by Pat Swift to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the Westminster parliament. Pat Swift was the head of Human Resources for the BAM - Ferrovial - Kier (BFK) consortium on Crossrail and the manager at the centre of the claims that UNITE shop steward Frank Morris had been dismissed in September 2012 because of his previous union activities.


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Appeal for Information Relating to Health Impacts of Work on Contaminated Olympic Land

Contaminated, unprotected Olympic 'soil hospital' stockpilesContaminated, unprotected Olympic 'soil hospital' stockpiles A number of residents near the Olympic Park have illnesses they believe to be related to proximity with contaminants originating from works on the polluted land of the London Olympic construction site.

My colleagues and I have been have been reporting and researching the issue of contamination in the London Olympic Park. The contamination originates from the site's more than century long base and dumping ground for various noxious industries. Preparation for the Olympic Park included the excavation of almost the entire 2.5 square kilometer site.

During these excavation works there were numerous complaints about dust originating from the contaminated site. We are gathering information about any health issues that may have been caused by dust originating from the Olympic Park demolition and excavation activities including "soil washing operations".


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The sterile pleasure garden

A view across the Olympic ParkA view across the Olympic ParkI visited the recently opened part of the Olympic Park on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year to have a look around. It took a while to take it all in. My most surprising discovery was the almost complete absence of any visible wild life. Apart from pigeons in transit across the space I saw only one wild bird in the three hours I was there. It was probably some kind of Reed Warbler. Hardly surprising given the sheer volume of reeds planted alongside the river. There were small numbers of Damsel Flies, again not surprising given their mobility along the river.


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Sick! Olympic Park 'river of death' to be dyed lurid green for festival finale

As part of the London Olympic Park reopening festival artists Bompas and Parr will contaminate the River Lea - which has suffered unprecedented pollution-related fish kills this week - with bulk quantities of fluorescein dye to turn it a lurid green.


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Fish killed in the River Lea. Pushed to their limits by environmental mismanagement

Fish were killed in numbers on Tuesday July 23 by Oxygen depletion of the River Lee downstream of Deephams sewage works in Tottenham. Climate change has created the conditions for an exceptional heatwave to become a more frequent possibility.

The amount of water extracted upstream for human use is considerable. Downstream about 50%-80% of the water body can be treated sewage. During the dry summer months there often isn't enough water-flow to provide reliable conditions for the fish. The amount of dissolved Oxygen in the water in a rain free heatwave can become so depleted that fish begin to suffer.


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Back to the future? Urban transformation and public protest in Rio de Janeiro

by Matthew Richmond

Protests against World Cup in Rio: Protesters display a banner of Mayor Eduardo Paes and State Governor Sergio Cabral holding Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ statue hostage. The banner below reads “Who gives the order? Who gets the progress?”Protesters display a banner of Mayor Eduardo Paes and State Governor Sergio Cabral holding Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ statue hostage. The banner below reads “Who gives the order? Who gets the progress?”


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A Bankrupt Field of Dreams

The fraught disputes over how best to recoup the high construction and maintenance costs of the London Olympic stadium conform to a pattern previously seen elsewhere in England and abroad. The story of the Don Valley stadium in Sheffield provides a cautionary tale of how the visionary delusions of ambitious politicians end up ruining the chances of ordinary people gaining adequate access to affordable opportunities for healthy recreation.


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To the Manor born - 15% affordable housing in the Aftermath Zone?

Back in September Games Monitor reported that the amount of affordable housing in the Aftermath Zone (it's time to think of some more imaginative names than the QEII Park - suggestions welcome) would be reduced to 28%. The LLDC had waited to reveal this to, of all people, an American Community Land Trust organiser, Greg Rosenberg, who was visiting London to promote CLTs.


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(kuhn-ver-juhns) n:

Convergence: Screengrab from London Evening Standard,  http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/social-cleansing-row-over-bid-to-move-newham-council-tenants-7675561.html


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The London Olympics and the state we’re in

The personal story of Olympic pundit, filmmaker and journalist, Mike Wells: an entertaining yet troubling tale of wrongful imprisonment and intrigue. Wells uses the London Olympics as a lens through which to look at the state of Britain.

The case against me was the result of an unscheduled Olympic boxing match. It occurred in April 2012 at Leyton Marshes outside a construction site where basketball courts were being built for the Games. Local opposition to the basketball facility was passionate because it was being erected on much loved parkland. Protesting grandmothers, dog walkers, and transvestites amongst others had made themselves unpopular by sitting in front of construction vehicles. I was there shooting footage for my film ‘London Takes Gold’.

I arrived at Leyton Marshes, a beautiful green space in East London, to find an excavator working in open parkland without safety measures. ‘Worth filming’ I thought. A passing walker suddenly veered from his course and stood in front of the machine. He started yelling at the driver to stop work owing to the likelihood of crushing dogs and people with the machine’s wildly swinging arm.

Passing walker shouts at digger driver to stop workPassing walker shouts at digger driver to stop work


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Some Shortcomings of Olympic success

In a house in the London suburb of Ealing, hired for the occasion by a film company, an actor playing the part of an average guy, is checking in a mirror how he looks in his recently bought shirt. Out from behind the mirror steps the winner of the recent Olympic women’s heptathlon who reels off some spiel about a 2% discount. The actor/guy plays gobsmacked that this princess should emerge from behind his mirror, announce some cashback offer then humiliate him over his new shoes.


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Another Olympics Cycling Legacy - Critical Mass Convictions

Five of the 182 Critical Mass cyclists arrested for riding their bikes near the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony were finally convicted of breaching section 12 of the Public Order Act. Section 12 is intended "to prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage or serious disruption to the life of the community." In this instance, the police, taking extraordinary measures under the Olympic state of exception, set up road blocks on bridges to stop the cyclists crossing the Thames, an action which caused far more serious disruption than anything the cyclists were likely to achieve, even if this was their intention.


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Leyton Marsh: Malice and the prosecution of Mike Wells

Two weeks ago the trial began of nine members of Critical Mass, out of 182 originally arrested, for riding their bikes too close to the Olympic Park on the evening of the Opening Ceremony. Another malicious Olympics prosecution (see p 12), that of citizen journalist and photographer Mike Wells, finally came to an end almost two months ago on 17th January 2013. The story began with an unsubstantiated allegation that Mike assaulted the driver of an excavator at Sandy Lane, the unmade road that runs alongside Leyton Marshes, and ended nine months later at Stratford Magistrate’s Court. Mike’s prosecution occurred against a background of warnings from police and politicians that the authorities would take a hard line in the face of protest and disorder.


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How topping! Olympic Park fence electrified from mid 2010 to 22nd October 2012

For the Olympics the abnormal becomes normal. One of the most astonishing things to happen at London 2012 was the building of an electrified fence around the Olympic Park. The idea that this was necessary or sensible was seldom questioned. It may well be that most people didn’t even realise it had been done. People were constantly surprised when I pointed it out to them. But even those who did know of it probably thought the electricity was only on during the Games. Not so.

In December I asked the ODA

‘Is the electric fence around the Olympic Park still in use as an electric fence? If not, when was it last operated as an electric fence?’


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