Dear Jacques Rogge
Hi – you probably haven’t heard of us - but we are the residents of Leabank Square in Hackney Wick – right opposite your Olympic 2012 site.
I wonder if we may trouble you for a couple of minutes. To make this all the more enjoyable – we are writing this while drinking a delicious cup of coffee. Could we suggest you make yourself one as well – and we could pretend that we’re just two friendly neighbours, having a chat over a cuppa.
(Ready? Take a sip – mmmmmmmmmmmm – good isn’t it? Right let’s chat!)
You see Mr Rogge – we are the closest residential neighbours you have to the construction site – and we are very keen to stay enthusiastic about the upcoming Olympic Games.
We have written on these matters before – and to be fair – a few junior managers from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and (our local borough) Hackney Council have been to visit us – and promised us action – but I’m afraid things have only got far worse – which is why we are writing to you.
Leabank Square borders on the Lea River Canal – which in turn borders on the Olympic site. It is one of the only 3 residential estates which are neighbours to the site. The other 2 are also our neighbours – and are due to write separately to you on these matters as well.
(MMMMM – ours is Fair Trade Ethiopian – what’s yours?)
Right! Now - there are 3 main reasons we are troubling you today Mr Rogge:
First: The Noise.
Our Problem: The works on the site start up at 7.00am and finish at 8.00pm each day – from Monday to Friday (until 2.00pm on Saturdays & most Sundays). It is true that we have negotiated this 8.00pm stop – from a previous 10.00pm stop – but we still feel that 13 hours of very heavy industrial noise is far too unacceptable to us.
Here in the UK it is illegal for workers to work that long in any one day (which is why we hope your crews are doing shift work) – so we think it only fair that neighbours are also not subjected to heavy industrial noise for that long.
The ODA set up a noise monitor in our Square, and think that this is the only reasonable answer to the problem. The real problem for us Mr Rogge – is that – what are considered acceptable levels of noise for the ODA on the site – are completely unreasonable for residents who have their bed & living room windows only a few metres from the site.
Unfortunately – Hackney Council have given them permission to work at these levels – without even consulting us – indeed – saying that it was unnecessary to consult us. The environmental health team of Hackney Council promised to set up an independent noise monitor in our Square – but unfortunately - forgot to do it.
Unfortunately we had to resort to Britain’s Freedom of Information Act in order to get the data from your monitors – which are being legally scrutinised as I write.
Our Solution: We would like the works to only start up at a reasonable 8.00am – and to finish at a reasonable 6.00pm. We would like the acceptable noise levels to be brought into line with standard noise levels for a residential estate.
(We’re all taking another collective sip just now – please – join us!)
Second: The dust. (Don’t worry – there’s only one more!)
Our Problem: The levels of dust pollution are way far too unacceptable for a residential estate. BY A LONG WAY!! We now have a recorded increase in asthma and hay fever attacks since your construction work has started.
Again – the ODA feel that by setting up a dust monitor in our Square – that has solved the problem. Again – Mr Rogge - they visited us with flowing graphs & charts showing dust directions, promised dust suppression, photos of sexy bowsers, etc – but the levels are still completely unacceptable for a residential estate.
Again – Hackney Council have given the green light for the levels of dust coming over from the Olympic site – without consulting its residents & tax payers. The promised dust particle monitors they agreed to install – never materialised.
The residents themselves stuck two separate video cameras in two separate blocks to record the dust suppression the ODA promised us they were doing –and on an ongoing weekly basis – we have yet to see any evidence of such machinery or activities.
Again – we had to resort to the Freedom of Information Act – in order to get your British colleagues to release the data from your monitor – not very impressive Community Liaising is it?
Our Solution: Simply - deliver on the promised dust suppression no matter how much it is going to cost.
There must be non-stop spraying of any sand mounds, dust roads & construction.
And a GIANT plea for your Community Liaison team to either stop lying directly to us – or to get the construction companies to stop lying to them (& thus passing it on to us) – we are your neighbours – Mr Rogge – not some irrelevant local yobs - who will go away because the Suits have told us they have solved our problems.
(Whew – after that – we all deserve a chocolate biscuit with our next mouthful of coffee! This is such fun – isn’t it Mr Rogge? Just two neighbours getting to know each other a bit better – enjoying a relaxing chat over a mug of steaming coffee?!)
Lastly: The Legacy:
Our Problem: The whole London 2012 pitch was sold to your International Olympic Committee - and the rest of the world – on the basis of a long lasting Legacy for us here in Hackney Wick & surrounding neighbourhoods.
Some of us actually believed them so much - that we convinced sceptical neighbours of the benefits to come.
The London 2012 Legacy Paper is only due to come out in Spring 2009 – but yet the ODA sees fit to drip feed the British media stories of a diminishing Legacy each week. The cumulative result of this – is a very disappointed local population being readied for a zero Legacy – probably (& conveniently) on the grounds of the current credit crunch.
Our Solution: The ODA (& the London Development Agency & Boris Johnson & everyone else who promised you they would do this) need to actually start doing some very hard work in getting a very real Legacy for the very people who are being severely inconvenienced by the delivering of the games.
The odd glitzy road show or slick local presentation - is simply not fooling us any more. We want to know just what job opportunities are going to be created by which buildings left over from the games. We want to know exactly what leisure opportunities are going to be used by the local population once the games have finished. We want to know what local green areas are being created to replace Arena Fields (our local playing fields that took an Act of British Parliament for the ODA to legally take away from us) for us to enjoy after the games.
A few pathetic rose bushes & one large rock in the middle of an existing local green space – are not a real compensation for losing a massive local park – I’m sure you’d agree Mr Rogge?
We want to be told exactly how all this upheaval is going to benefit the people living through all this dust, noise, traffic congestion, etc.
We ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want another of your junior managers to have tea & biscuits in our lounge with charts, graphs, photos, etc spread out before them – actually lying to our faces with false promises and an empty Legacy chest.
We want to know that all this is worth it!
(Like us – We’re sure you’re down to your last few mouthfuls – so please make it last a tiny bit longer)
Mr Rogge – just in case you’re tempted to ignore or fob this letter off like your British colleagues - please let us assure you that we’re nice kinda people. There are some (not overtly nice kinda) people who are bemusedly watching us writing to you - not believing that you too, Mr Rogge, are a nice kinda guy.
We are trying our best to stave off their real and massive civil disobedience demonstration – that will severely set construction back a few years.
But what should be even more troubling for you Mr Rogge – is the perceived reputation that the Chinese Olympic Delivery Authority had in dealing with their local residents - will seem very reasonable – compared to how the London ODA is handling us.
Mr Rogge – when next you are in London – please do us the proud honour of popping around for a real cuppa. There is nothing like actually witnessing for yourself - the upheaval we are going through – and are due to go through for many years to come.
There is a great brand of biscuits here in the UK called Hobnobs, Mr Rogge – we would even break out a packet of them in your honour – should you take up our genuine offer.
(There…….. that was a great way to spend a few minutes – don’t you think? Let’s do it again sometime?)
Oh – we almost forgot – we have a Leabank Square community blog at: http://leabanksquare.blogspot.com/ - but – to get a flavour of what the residents have been saying about the noise, dust & legacy lately – go to http://leabanksquare.blogspot.com/2008/10/olympic-noise-dust.html
That’s all – we think – yes! Everyone is due to get another mug of this delicious coffee – so if you’ll excuse us for now Mr Rogge……….