Just Where Do We Stand?

I’ve just had a comment in my last post that I felt needed addressing as a separate post, as I suspect everyone on here will have a view and it may well not be my own. That’s okay. That’s what debate is for.

Park Keeper said:

“I don’t mind the park being closed…..” (quoting TGP)

“…..view of a park-loving local?”

Make up your phantom mind!

Just what do you care about and what would you protect? Fenced in Disneyland or open to all park and precious but fragile World Heritage Site?

Like many others can’t wait to see the back of Coe and all this half arsed chaos.”

Park keeper – like many people I have watched what has been going on, listened to what everyone – on all sides – has to say and gradually adjusted my feelings about this event as facts change, concessions are made, goalposts are moved and realities faced.

Seven years ago, when the park was first mooted as a venue I was apoplectic because I genuinely thought that LOCOG could not be trusted to keep the park in the kind of condition that Greenwich deserves. I still don’t think that without being forced, it could have been.

I was absolutely sure that holding the event there wasn’t the right thing to do and, yes, I backed the people trying to stop it.

I feel that something really good came out of that campaign, even if it was not what many of those people actually wanted.

What they – and various amenity groups, friends, Parks officials, council etc. – got was far more positive than just cancelling the equestrian events.

What has happened, through negotiation, compromise and actually listening to people, is that we get a games that will look fantastic, be good in the long-term, if not in the short, for Greenwich, hasn’t lost any ancient trees, has avoided the really delicate areas and that has a genuine commitment to put the park right afterwards.

Of course I am concerned to see that this commitment is honoured and I am not entirely without worries on that account. It’s up to all of us to ensure that LOCOG and their legacy-based successor (the name escapes me) does do the right thing.

And yes, there is a tonne of stuff that I’m not wild about to do with the games coming here. I don’t like the fortress the town has turned into. I don’t like the petty power-mongers in hi-viz vests who are ordering people around. I don’t like that the heath is going to be a right old mess. I don’t like…well, I could write another thousand things I don’t care for about the games being here.

But there comes a point where we have to be realistic about something that will happen anyway whether we like it or not and there is much that I DO like about the games being on my doorstep, not least the thing that yes, I pooh-poohed seven years ago – the way the thing looks on TV.

The brave thing is to get behind it, enjoy the bits that are enjoyable, highlight the bits that need scrutiny and judge everything on its own merits rather than taking one hard line or other and sticking to it despite whatever other evidence might be presented.

None of anything I’ve just said even here is set in stone. It’s entirely possible that my opinions will change again. I don’t see why I should ‘make my mind up’ for once and all on a subject that changes with the wind.

What do I care about? Greenwich, of course, but not at the expense of sanity.


77 Comments to “Just Where Do We Stand?”

  1. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Franklin 3: 32. Like you I don’t want to get into a long debate, or rake over the coals of long dead personal disputes.

    But I can’t agree with your points.

    On point 1. If you read the authoritative quotes in the two links I gave, there is plenty of evidence of the Park being too small. The course was 1,000m shorter than normal, every spare scrap of space was used, including the arena, the acid grasslands, and the Roman temple site. The course was also described as the steepest and twistiest ever. Had it rained heavily on Monday, the event would have been a disaster. As it was, horses slipped, unusually large studs were used, 10 riders fell, at least one of whom was hospitalised.

    On point 2. I don’t mean chatter by the punters on H&H discussion boards. I understand that Nogoe had very knowledgeable inside contacts in the equestrian world and that there was a great deal of debate about the venue in the equestrian community. I don’t know the history of it, but I take the word of Nogoe committee members who say it was the case. One leading equestrian authority has told me personally in an email that Greenwich has generally been recognised to be a bad choice of venue for years. I have no reason to doubt this.

    On point 3. As I understand it, some 600 trees have been pruned. The course cuts through ancient acid grasslands. There has inevitably been widespread damage to all of the northern lawns in the Park, and to many others throughout it. I call that extensive damage. I notice that LOCOG talk of reinstating but they don’t admit to damage. The simple answer to this dispute is: we shall see.

    On point 4. We just have to differ on this point. You are happy with what has happened. I think that it is terrible, not just because it affected me. If that was all there is to my objection, I would just lump it. What makes me angry is the occupation and closure of a public Park and the damage that has been done to a World Heritage Site both last year and this. None of it was necessary. Last year the projected total cost was £60m. With the inevitable inflation of construction budgets and the additional work required by the rain, I wouldn’t be surprised if the final figure is more like £100m. There is no physical legacy for equestrianism, there is no legacy for Greenwich Park. So far we have nothing but a promise that the Park will be properly reinstated. We shall see what that promise is worth.

  2. Capability Bowes says:

    Now this is interesting. I sent an email to NOGOE a couple of days ago expressing my opinions about what I found in the park during the events. Today they replied.

    Some edited highlights, showing that NOGOE apparently seek to retain the title of “local loonies”:

    “During the construction phase Greenwich Park & Circus Field Blackheath did very much look like “The Somme” (Circus Field still does) but obviously now all the walkways and cladding have been established it is looking good for spectators and especially for the TV cameras”

    In response to this point I would opine that the appalling weather made a major contribution to the park looking like the Somme.

    “Due to the adverse weather conditions LOCOG’s contractors were forced to remove topsoil and underpin the 23,500 seater stadium which was not part of the original plan allowed by The Royal Parks and Royal Greenwich Borough”

    This, I believe, is called “contingency planning”. Would NOGOE have prefered the stadium to fall down halfway through an event because it had been insufficiently underpinned? Again, a problem caused by the weather and not by LOCOG.

    “… we feel we contributed greatly to the prevention of the felling of many trees”

    I don’t remember any tree felling being mooted by anyone except NOGOE. I am happy to be corrected on this point if necessary.

    “We have it on very good account that even LOCOG acknowledge that our vociferous & continual pressure and well-researched documents have had an effect on their actions.We have been quite useful “Policemen” for them and prevented many accidents and damage”

    No source is given for this “praise” and I await proof. Rather than being “useful policemen” NOGOE have merely become an irritant and an embarrassment to the community at large, I feel.

    “LOCOG have struggled to deliver an event of this magnitude on time in such a small space and even the Royal Parks Agency have had many worries about the amount of infrastructure LOCOG have needed to shoehorn in”

    I refute both these points. As far as I am aware there were no timing issues on delivery other than those caused by extra work being necessary because of the weather. Again, no proof of the comments by the Royal Parks Agency was forthcoming.

    “If after LOCOG have left – we would welcome your comments and expert opinion on the state of the ground please and if you would in turn like to support the “Never Again” campaign we are working on we would be very grateful”

    So, NOGOE are not going to fade away quietly. They are clearly not going to concede that they may have been wrong and are in the throes of launching another campaign. They have asked me to support it! I told them to sling their hook!

    Apologies for the length of this post but I think it raises some interesting points as to NOGOE’s continuing blinkered view on the subject as a whole.

  3. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @Capability Bowes 8:51

    To reply, patiently, to some of your points.

    1. You should not attribute Park keeper’s opinions to NOGOE. Park keeper makes this clear above.

    2. Your points about the weather and contingency planning are covered here:

    http://www.nogoe2012.com/CampaignNews.html#120520Rains

    The account makes the point that it was lucky that the rains fell when they did. Had they come during the Games, a stand might well have collapsed.

    It was a crazy idea to “float” a massive stadium on a lawn in a hollow at the foot of a hill resting on nothing but a few wooden blocks. It seems clear that LOCOG’s architects were blithely unaware of the problems that they would encounter. It seems that they were counting on it not raining. It seems that LOCOG learned nothing from their experience of demolishing last year’s stadium. (You will remember that it rained when they were demolishing it and that as a result they made a terrible mess of the Queen’s Lawn.) When it rained in April (surprise) they had to take emergency measures, namely shipping in thousands of tons of aggregate in order to build roads on the lawn. All this extra work set them back and they had to close the Avenue early as an emergency measure:

    http://www.nogoe2012.com/CampaignNews.html#120616EmergencyMeasures

    They were also going to keep an access corridor to the Observatory (along Blackheath Avenue) open before the Games. But they evidently decided that they could no longer afford to do so:

    http://www.nogoe2012.com/CampaignNews.html#160707FFPhase7

    3. As I understand it LOCOG promised that not a single tree would be felled. But several have been in what look like suspicious circumstances. See, for example:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/6781496816/in/set-72157629397205479

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/6926292453/in/set-72157629397205479/

    (You have to read the comments on both photos in order to understand the point being made.)

    Again, as I understand it, in LOCOG’s original planning application only 72 trees were scheduled to be pruned and LOCOG assured objectors that there would be no more. By their last planning application the total had risen above 600:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/6833167624/in/set-72157629397205479

    4. “So, NOGOE are not going to fade away quietly.” I don’t think so. We are very concerned that the Park will not be properly restored; you may trust LOCOG but I’m afraid that experience has taught us not to do so. We are also concerned that a precedent has been set for future commercial exploitation of the Park. As long as we feel that there are serious threats to the Park, we will continue to do whatever we can (within the law and without funding) to avert them. If that makes us loonies, then so be it.

  4. capability bowes says:

    Greenwich Pensioner:

    I DON’T trust LOCOG. Please do not put words into my mouth. I have repeatedly said that I will wait for the evidence of my own eyes after the “get out” before I make my judgement as to its effectiveness.

    And it really is excessively tiresome of you to try and “prove” your points by posting links to the NOGOE website all the time. Post something that is not completely biased and I might pay some attention.

  5. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @capability bowes 8:47

    Sorry, I did not intend to put words in your mouth. I’m glad that you don’t trust LOCOG.

    I’m happy to leave to other readers to read what I have written and to look the material that I have linked to, and to decide for themselves whether they think that it is “completely biased” or not.

  6. Frankln says:

    Pensioner

    All of your points are hypothetical negative scenarios, none of which have materialised: IF it had rained on Monday the course would have been too difficult; IF it had rained in August rather than April the stadium would have collapsed.

    Also, I agree with CB: NOGOE’s website and all these ‘leading authorities’ you claim to have spoken to don’t provide “authoritative” proof of any of your assertions. I am only aware of what the equestrian world’s “leading authorities” have said in public, and it’s not what you’ve said they’ve said.

    BTW, I had a detailed email exchange with Father Christmas who told me that the course was brilliant and that the reindeer were clamoring for a second go.

    Anyway, who oh WHY are we still having this debate? The Olympics equestrian events are almost over! They’ve gone swimmingly, Greenwich and the Park have been superb, no one has died and no ancient tree has wept as much as a single wooden tear.

  7. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @Franklin 3.22

    I am very pleased that things have gone well so far, and hope that they continue to do so. I am looking forward to the circus leaving town and the Park reopening.

    The fact that things went (comparatively) well on cross-country day does not justify the choice of venue. See the last paragraph of Sony Jim’s comment here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7681699908/in/set-72157629397205479/

    As for leading authorities, see the quotes that SJ has assembled here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7698056352/in/set-72157629397205479/

    I am sorry that I can’t reveal the names of any of my sources. People working in the equestrian community, people who work for Royal Parks, etc., have jobs and careers to protect. The public remarks that SJ quotes tend to back up my claim about unrest in the equestrian community over the choice of venue. If you don’t believe me, then I will just have to live with your amusing jibes. (BTW There is, I regret to say, no reliable evidence that Father Christmas exists. Any claimed evidence has been shown to have been fabricated, but not, as far as I am aware, by NOGOE members acting on our behalf.)

    “WHY are we still having this debate?” Good question. I heard that NOGOE was being rubbished here, read some of the comments, and decided that I had to weigh in and correct some of the misapprehensions about NOGOE.

    I also don’t think, as you seem to suggest, that the story is all over. The *party* drags on for some time yet (the Paralympics, the Modern Pentathlon). Then the long, very long, process of clearing up the mess starts. It will take them about three months to remove the masses and masses of building materials that they have shipped into the Park. I wait to see how successful they are at removing the roads that they have built on the main lawns and on Circus Field. Needless to say all this clearing will cause a great deal of disruption.

    I also disagree with you about damage. There has already been considerable damage to the Park. The acid grasslands have been damaged and the damage is there for all to see:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7513206438/in/set-72157629397205479

    To an untutored eye this may not look like damage, but as SJ pointedly says:

    “This destruction of a rare and precious natural habitat is legalised vandalism. It is as if an ageing punk artist has been given permission to spray graffiti all over one of the treasured landscape paintings in the National Gallery. And all for the sake of a sporting event which could and should have been held elsewhere. SHAME!”

    It will take many years to restore the acid grasslands, if they can be restored at all.

    LOCOG have applied for planning permission to prune over 600 trees, and there is plenty of evidence of pruning in SJ’s diary. We must expect that all these trees will have been pruned by now, and that others that “got in the way” have been pruned unofficially.

    There was a great deal of damage to the lawns that they used last year, and it is reasonable to expect that this year the damage will be much worse.

    There is also the problem of the cross-country course itself. It consists of sports turf which has been pampered. What will happen to it when they stop doing so, how will they restore the natural grasslands? (Remember that the course is about 5,700 metres long and about 3 metres wide, and that it stretches all around the Park).

    Those who saw only the finished TV set thought it glorious (one American journalist referred to is as “Camelot”).* They had no idea of the long and messy process of construction and destruction, and no idea of the damage done to the Park.

    * I personally thought that the Park looked ugly. Its grandeur had been obscured by equestrian clutter, toilet blocks, sports stadiums, etc. The event could have been held in any country park. SJ again:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7681701964/in/set-72157629397205479

  8. Capability Bowes says:

    Maybe you can’t reveal your sources because they don’t exist? You could, of course, publish their letters with their personal details blanked out.

    I had a personal letter from a very senior member of the Royal Family telling me how much she had enjoyed meeting James Bond but I can’t tell you who it was “for security reasons”. I had to shred the letter to protect those involved but I am 100% sure you will take my word for it.

    NOGOE stated categorically that trees would be felled. If they’ve only been pruned, that to me is a major win.

    NOGOE was not being rubbished. We leave it to NOGOE to make their own major PR mistakes. Do you equate “being wrong” with “being rubbished”?

    “This destruction of a rare and precious natural habitat is legalised vandalism”

    But, GP, the Park wasn’t destroyed!

    “There has already been considerable damage to the Park”

    But, GP, the Park is still closed to the public so how do you know?

    “It consists of sports turf which has been pampered. What will happen to it when they stop doing so, how will they restore the natural grasslands?”

    I think GP, you will find that the surrounding grass will grow into it once it has stopped being pampered. Grass has a habit of doing that.

    (“one American journalist referred to is as “Camelot”).* ”
    Presumably you cannot reveal their name for reasons of privacy?!

    “I personally thought that the Park looked ugly. Its grandeur had been obscured”

    Well, you would, wouldn’t you, because it wouldnt be in your agenda to think anything else.

    Here we have a perfect example, once again, of a NOGOE member shooting themself comprehensively in the foot with appalling PR. You must realise, GP, that all your arguments are self-serving in the extreme and are only serving to alienate readers of this blog even further. A sensible organisation would try and marshall public opinion by being reasonable and not accusing people who dared disagree with it of being liars and LOCOG-lovers. Well, sorry, that’s it for me. It just goes to show you what loony extremists NOGOE are and I wash my hands of you completely.

    No further comments, M’lud. There is no point arguing with fools. My contribution to this thread ends here.

  9. parkkeeper says:

    We’ve got a Locog loser!!
    The screens nurse and then the men in white coats!
    This guys days of double digging are over.
    Non so blind as…………….

  10. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ Capability Bowes August 2, 8:04

    >Maybe you can’t reveal your sources because the don’t exist …

    I refer the gentleman to the reply I gave earlier.

    >NOGOE stated categorically that trees would be felled.

    I don’t know whether they did or not. I believe that LOCOG promised that none would be.

    In any event, some trees have been felled. I gave the example of Tree 870 earlier. There is also the mature chestnut tree which was felled so that Blackheath Gate could be widened to allow LOCOG’s vehicles in:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/6909838437/in/set-72157629397205479

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7533664488/in/set-72157629397205479

    Had the gates not been widened, LOCOG could not have built the arena. Now that the gates have been widened we can expect more heavy vehicle traffic in the Park as a permanent “legacy” of LOCOG’s occupation.

    > … If they’ve only been pruned that to me is a major win.

    (1) Do you mean a major win for NOGOE? Nobody else opposed LOCOG, the so-called Friends of Greenwich Park certainly didn’t.

    (2) Do you think that the fact that over 600 trees have been pruned for one afternoon’s sport, which could and should have been held elsewhere, is a major win? I urge readers to look at the table at the end of LOCOG’s “Environmental Management Plan” submitted as part of their planning application:

    http://onlineplanning.greenwich.gov.uk/acolnet/documents/45621_4.pdf

    It catalogues 313 trees to be pruned this year alone. Details of each tree are given, along with the extent of pruning and the reason for it: to make room for fencing, to make headroom for the cross-country course, to make room for a horse walk, to make room for vehicle access, to make room for a catering store, to make room for WCs, to make room for spectator concessions. Contrary to the spin that LOCOG and the Friends have put out, this is is not routine pruning, part of natural tree maintenance, but deliberately cutting off branches from healthy trees. If a member of the public did it, they would probably be prosecuted.

    As I said in an earlier post, LOCOG initially assured objectors that they would prune only 72 trees. With the 313 discussed above, the total has risen to over 600; some 20% of the trees in the Park. And those are the ones that have had planning permission to prune.

    Pruned branches cannot be put back, and the deformities will increase as the trees grow. And, it cannot be repeated often enough, all of this for a single afternoon’s sport that could and should have been held elsewhere.

    >
    “This destruction of a rare and precious natural habitat is legalised vandalism”

    But, GP, the Park wasn’t destroyed!
    >

    You have quoted Sony Jim’s sentence out of context. The context was a discussion of the destruction of acid grasslands, not of the whole Park. Readers can easily verify this for themselves by examining my last post.

    >
    “There has already been considerable damage to the Park”

    But, GP, the Park is still closed to the public so how do you know?
    >

    Read my last post again. The damage to the acid grasslands has already been done, and you can follow the links and see lots of SJ’s photographic evidence. You can also see for yourself tomorrow.

    A lot of pruning was done earlier in the year:

    http://www.nogoe2012.com/CampaignNews.html#120313Pruning

    As stated in my last post, it is reasonable to assume that LOCOG has pruned all of the trees in their table. It is also likely that others will have been pruned because they got in the way of construction work.

    Considerable damage has also been done to lawns around the Park, and especially to the northern lawns. For example:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7175958506/in/set-72157629397205479

    Covering a lawn for a prolonged period destroys it. So a great deal of damage must already have been to the Park’s lawns. What is not currently known is the actual extent of it. We will learn this when the lawns are uncovered.

    >
    “It consists of sports turf which has been pampered. What will happen to it when they stop doing so, how will they restore the natural grasslands?”

    I think GP, you will find that the surrounding grass will grow into it once it has stopped being pampered. Grass has a habit of doing that.
    >

    The Royal Parks (largely repeating LOCOG’s reinstatement notice) talk of restoring the cross country course by reseeding:

    http://www.royalparks.org.uk/london-2012/the-2012-games-at-greenwich-park/reinstatement-of-greenwich-park-following-the-2012-events

    They suggest that there will be a full recovery by autumn 2012. I hope so, but I have my doubts. It seems to me that it is one thing to restore a small area of lawn that has been covered by a temporary building. It is another to replace sections of pampered sports turf with natural grassland. Apparently a lot of surfactant has been used on the course, and this tends to sterilise it. An American equestrian journalist friend told me that in the US they dig up the course, to a depth of about a metre, and replace it with unpolluted soil. She adds that this is done when golf courses are used and that these are already artificial environments, unlike Greenwich Park, which is Grade 1-listed and an “archaeological time capsule”.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on this. So I wait nervously to see what will actually happen. As I said before the course occupies a massive area, over 17,000 square metres, and it covers almost all of the Park.

    >
    “I personally thought that the Park looked ugly. Its grandeur had been obscured”

    Well, you would, wouldn’t you, because it wouldnt be in your agenda to think anything else.
    >

    Very presumptive and mistaken. Indicative of your own true nature perhaps?

    I have walked in the park almost daily for decades. During which time I have come to appreciate is rare beauty. The formal avenues were laid out in the 1660s and some of the chestnut trees planted then still survive. Many other trees date back to the 1820s (if memory serves). It is a landscape designed for, and fit for, a king. I also love the acid grasslands and Saxon burial mounds on Croom’s Hill, and the views over London and the rest of the Park from the Observatory hill and on One Tree Hill. The Park is very much part of me, it is the closest thing I have to a holy place. The coming of LOCOG in 2011 and again in 2012 and what they have done to the Park has, to me, amounted to sacrilege. I am not, as you seem to be suggesting, pretending that I thought that the Park looked ugly because that fits with NOGOE’s agenda. I genuinely thought that it looked ugly.

    Your other comments and abuse do not deserve a reply. I am happy to leave it to readers to decide which of us is putting forward a reasoned case, and which of us is using the cyber equivalent of green ink.

  11. capability bowes says:

    As my primary school teacher – a very wise lady – once said:

    The first person throw an insult in an attempt to win an argument loses that argument immediately.

  12. Greenwich pensioner says:

    @ capability bowes 9:37.

    Presumably you are talking to parkkeeper?

  13. Capability Bowes says:

    My comment was indeed directed at park keeaper for his puerile outburst, but it applies equally to anyone who slings insults in an attempt to win their argument. So if the cap fits, wear it.

  14. Dave says:

    CB

    The cap certainly fits for you when you talk of “local loonies”

  15. Ned says:

    As Basil Fawlty once said, ‘now comes the tricky bit’.

    LOCOG’s main concern and function was to get the Olympics on and make sure they ran smoothly, an immovable deadline that rather focused the mind. We need to be vigilant to make sure that promises about restoration are kept. There is a risk that once the Olympics are over, some of the work won’t seem quite so important. Hopefully, this can be done in a measured and constructive way.

  16. Mr Dinsdale says:

    Perhaps everyone’s attention should now be turned to the development that will take place at the market, rather than the Olympics? That’ll be the greatest loss to the area. There’s already signs of what’s to come with Nando’s etc moving in with neon signs. And if you can’t be civil please don’t respond.

  17. David says:

    When I came to Greenwich in 2006, I was completely stunned by the beauty of the park and the heath. I completely empathise with ‘Greenwich Pensioner’ when he writes about the park being almost a holy place to him. I often wondered at the time when walking home through the park in the dark – how long would it last? How long would we be able to enjoy the tremendous privilege of having such pristine, historic and fragile amenities, until someone took note of them, and tried to use them to their advantage? At the time, I reckoned someone would eventually find a justification and get permission to build massive developments on the Heath. I reckoned it would take a few decades, but it would happen, given the huge pressure on the area from developments (north and west). I reckoned the park would not be touched yet, because it was more of a protected space. It seems I was wrong. I didn’t foresee it being used for ‘Olympics’. For many of us who live/d there, this is a wanton and pointless desecration of a beautiful place. For others, I do not doubt that it provided the prestigious setting they needed to impress their clients and sign lots of lucrative contracts. This is how things are – what can we do about it?

  18. Capability Bowes says:

    “I often wondered at the time when walking home through the park in the dark”

    As far as I was aware, the park is closed to pedestrians just before dusk.

    “How long would we be able to enjoy the tremendous privilege of having such pristine, historic and fragile amenities, until someone took note of them, and tried to use them to their advantage?”

    One could say that about any public space. Any public amenity is oepn to such abuse – you only have to look at public buildings such as libraries. The area around the 02 was once “public space” – its now private property, with all the restrictions on your personal freedom that this entails. What is now Canary Wharf is exactly the same – a private fiefdom created out of what used to be public space. The Olympic Park was built on what was essentially public space.

    “For many of us who live/d there, this is a wanton and pointless desecration of a beautiful place”

    But it hasnt been destroyed. Its been used for a very short space of time. Stop using over-emotive language. If it had been concreted over, you could say it had been “destroyed”.

    “This is how things are – what can we do about it?”

    Nothing. What’s done is done. Che sera, sera. You cannot prevent it happening because it has already happened. All you can do is try and ensure that what has been borrowed from the public is returned to the public in the condition in which it was found. No doubt the riverside at Eton Dorney was public space and environmentally sensitive. But I don’t recall there being a campaign there to stop the Olympics coming.

  19. Greenwich pensioner says:

    “All you can do is try and ensure that what has been borrowed from the public is returned to the public in the condition in which it was found”

    Ad you can try to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Seb Coe says that the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime event. This isn’t true for those who remember the 1948 Games. But it is true for most people. The Park has not been closed to the public for 4 weeks since it was opened to the public all year round in 1820.

    The Park is protected by a raft of Laws, but the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport now has a big say in what happens. For example, it is illegal to ride or graze a horse (other than a police horse) in Greenwich Park. The Secretary of State made an exception in the case of Olympic and Paralympic horses.

    Part of the reason why the Park is as it is (or was before LOCOG moved in) is that local people have fought to preserve it and pass it on to future generations.

    “Eton Dorney was public space and environmentally sensitive. But I don’t recall there being a campaign there to stop the Olympics coming.”

    I think that Eton Dorney is owned by Eton College.
    http://www.dorneylake.co.uk/index.html
    On Google maps it looks like an artificial lake created especially for rowing.

  20. Capability Bowes says:

    Give it a rest, will you?

  21. Greenwich pensioner says:

    From an AOC Archaeology report, written in 2011:

    “In the 19th century, Greenwich Park underwent changes through encroachments and enclosures within the park, intensified public use, and other threats which prompted organised protests from local residents. ”

    A letter published in the Illustrated London News, June 1844:

    “We are sorry to see it stated that there is pending an invasion of the sylvan shades of Greenwich, that most favourite resort of smoke-dried Londoners. An immense tank, to supply the hospital with water is to occupy with its unsightlyness one of the prettiest spots in the park, sweeping away the ancient barrows which have hitherto been carefully preserved as objects of antiquarian interest.”

    We must make sure that the Park is properly reinstated; that no expense is spared when repairing the terrible damage that has been done to it. We must fight to keep the Park public; that is, open to the public, free, all year round.

  22. David says:

    Sometimes you can walk through the park in the dark especially in winter – just before closing time. It’s very special in the dark. There are no lamps for instance. And very few people.

  23. David says:

    And no horsies nor any Olympic types either.

  24. David says:

    If I understood it properly, the person who critiqued what I wrote before (Capability Bowes) essentially made the following point: that any public space or amenity can be disposed of at will by powers greater than us, and that we, who use this amenity and have come to love it as an integral part of our day-to-day lives, not only have no right to oppose this, but we do not even have a moral justification to complain about it. It is all available for the taking. We have to accept this and move on.

    If we have no rights over the public realm, then presumably the only thing that we are justified in morally claiming rights over, is our private property. Our home or our garden if we have one. Yet the question is, whether when powers greater than us come to claim this too (such as by expropriation or compulsory purchase, etc.), this same person will argue that this too is fair enough, that it is normal, legal, the way of the world, and that the interests of the many (read: the rich and powerful) override those of the individual. Therefore we must expect to be swept aside like fluff, whenever someone in a position of power decides to build a wide road, a military facility, a runway, or maybe a sports centre or student accommodation, where we used to live.

    If all that matters, then, is that whatever is done to us, is done legally, then indeed people like this ‘Greenwich pensioner’ here might be morally rebuked for mildly venting their powerless anger. However, where does this argument stop? Are we all to roll over whenever required to do so? In whose name? For whose benefit?

    I should also add, that where people once frowned upon hooligans breaking the odd tree branch in the park, leaving their litter on the grass or starting barbecues on the Heath, because of the blight that they caused to such a public amenity, it will take generations before such behaviour can be frowned upon again as vandalism, when compared to what has been done to these two pristine green spaces by the powers that be. This, I submit, will be the main legacy of this Olympic folly in Greenwich: there is no vandalism, do as you please, if you don’t, then someone else will, 100 times worse.

  25. Greenwich pensioner says:

    To me, vandalism of any kind in the Park is intolerable. It’s a bit like vandalising a church or cemetery.

    LOCOG have deliberately caused widespread damage throughout the Park. This was legally sanctioned damage. And there are already calls to do it all again:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/save_greenwich_park/7759255252/in/set-72157629397205479/

  26. Mike says:

    As I sat in the upper stands in the Park tonight I wondered if closing the Park off to the Public periodically isn’t actually such a bad idea. Especially in August when the greatest heat and water stress is upon us, and the largest numbers of people trampling the acid grasslands are present. The grass on the slope below The Observatory is the healthiest I’ve ever seen it. It’s kind of like a farmer letting a field have a fallow year. Closing it off every August gets my vote.

  27. capability bowes says:

    My name is not Capability Brown.