We Want Positive Legacy from the Games: An Open Letter to the ODA’s Richard Arnold

Dear Richard Arnold,

I am writing to you once again on behalf of the Save Leyton Marsh group. I wrote to you back in August to attempt to attain the positive legacy that had been promised to the local community by the Olympic Delivery Authority, requesting that some of the public funds at your disposal were allocated to regenerate local basketball facilities at Millfields Park and Leyton Manor Park.

In response to this request, yourself and other representatives from the ODA met with local basketball enthusiasts, members of the campaign and Olympic basketball athlete Carl Miller to survey the work that needed doing on the courts and to discuss the positive impact that regeneration works could have on the local community, specifically local young people.

We were hopeful that after spending £5.5m on the unpopular temporary facility at Leyton Marsh, to which local people had no access, your organisation would see fit to allocate the thousands necessary to upgrade basketball courts in Hackney and Leyton in order to provide some positive legacy for local people.

After all, the now dismantled facility at Leyton Marsh inflicted substantial damage to the land on Porter’s Field Meadow which, unlike the land surrounding it, is now covered with monoculture turf and is heavily waterlogged. This is a negative legacy for our community and a highly valued natural environment.

Indeed, the only positive legacy benefit promised from the temporary courts was that the top-quality modular wooden court floors would “be reused at local community venues” and yet now we discover that they are sitting in storage at Glasgow Emirates Stadium for use only at elite future events because this was an empty promise that could never have been fulfilled. The floors minus walls and a ceiling are useless, and SLM asks which local school or sports hall could now afford to install new floors?  We say that installing these top quality sports floors into existing halls ought to have been the local legacy plan from the beginning, spending any funds on adapting the halls to receive the floors – rather than spending over £5m on the wasteful monstrosity on Leyton Marsh.

Despite the slogan of the Games being ‘Inspire a Generation’, it seems those young people who may have been inspired seeing their heroes play sport will see no benefit from the public funds allocated for the Games in their locality. To commit merely £10k to Hackney and Waltham Forest Councils for local courts, on the condition that in a time of austerity they provide three times that amount goes beyond meanness.

We ask you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider your decision and live up to the ideals of inspiration, regeneration and positive legacy you promised to the people of east London when spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on the Games.

Your sincerely,

Caroline Day

Local resident and member of Save Lea Marshes (Incorporating Save Leyton Marsh) group.

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