OLYMPIC SITE: Demolition work making life hell

marksimonbrown mark at tlio.org.uk
Tue Sep 25 18:52:08 BST 2007

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.

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

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 

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. 

"There has been a lot of disruption and my job must be to protect 
Newham's residents, both the travellers and those living near to the 
site. He added: "To be fair to the LDA they are listening and are 
recognising the problems, I hope they can take this forward."

The Mayor's comments came a week after London Assembly member John 
Biggs said that the travellers have been treated "somewhat badly". 
But the travellers believe Sir Robin should have intervened
earlier. 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 

The travellers have become frustrated at the constant changes of 
date. The LDA has since increased the travellers' compensation for 
moving. An LDA spokesman denied that there was friction between the 
LDA and Newham Council over delays to the travellers' move. He 
said: "Whether its land, skills, or jobs, we have a close working 
relationship with all five Olympic boroughs including Newham."

Contact: http://www.lgtu.org.uk/ 
London Gypsy & Traveller Unit
6, Westgate Street,  London  E8 3RN

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