Residents campaign against use of Greenwich for 2012 Olympics

  • A Greenwich resident has mounted a petition to move the cross-country away from London’s Greenwich Park during the 2012 Olympics.

    Retired marketing consultant Michael Goldman has posted the petition on the website of 10 Downing Street, calling for the prime minister, Gordon Brown, to rethink the equestrian events for 2012.

    “The decision to hold the equestrian events at Greenwich was made without any public consultation,” he said, citing among his objections damage to the fabric of the park, that the park is too small, that access to the park will be restricted for an unknown time and that congestion will build impossibly during the Games.

    Mr Goldman and two fellow opponents have formed a group, No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events. They have distributed leaflets to 500 homes in the area asking residents to write to their local councillor or MP, to write to the press and to lobby their local societies to oppose the plans.

    “We have four local residents’ associations in this area — the Greenwich Society, Blackheath Society, Friends of Greenwich Park and the Westcombe Society,” said Mr Goldman. “But they are moving too slowly — they need to act now.”

    But Westcombe Society chairman Gordon Baker said the societies have asked the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to provide further information on the plans before taking any action.

    “We have also asked them for a meeting,” he said. “We want to know how the events are going to affect this area, people who live here and local businesses.”

    Mr Baker said opinions seem to be divided among the society’s 500 members, but that there is an “instinctive view” among them that the park is too small.

    The Friends of Greenwich Park currently supports the plans to hold the equestrian events in Greenwich Park — a World Heritage site.

    But chairman Liz Coyle said the organisation — which has 1,700 members — is pressing LOCOG for more information.

    “There is a lot of speculation at present and, without knowing the facts, we cannot approach the matter,” she said. “For example, it is rumoured the park could be closed for up to 18 months, but that is still pure speculation. We would also like to know the layout of the course.”

    Both the Westcombe Society and the Friends of Greenwich Park have called special general meetings next month to discuss the matter.

    LOCOG spokesman Fran Edwards told H&H that, while the committee is aware of local concern, plans to hold the equestrian events in the park remain unchanged.

    LOCOG is doing a detailed feasibility study — looking at layout of the course, overlay, access and environmental impact — in preparation for submitting a formal planning application next year.

    “We understand concerns about park closure, congestion and so on, and because we haven’t been able to release more details yet, there is a lot of speculation circulating,” said Ms Edwards. “Once we have completed the study we will consult with local residents.”

    To sign the petition, visit: petitions.pm.gov.uk/GreenwichOlympic/

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