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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 January 2009

The 2012 Olympics legacy

WHAT WILL be left when the Olympic games leaves town? That was the question debated by over a hundred people at Stratford Circus, east London, last week. Called by a loose coalition of interested groups and individuals, the lively discussion touched on how to ensure there is a lasting legacy which really benefits the communities of the east London boroughs which will host the games in 2012.

Manny Thain, east London

There were several short speeches, along with film footage from Vancouver, Canada, the setting for the 2010 winter Olympics.

All the speakers introduced different issues, from Clays Lane housing, where residents have been moved out to make way for an Olympic park, to the need for construction site trade union organisation, as explained by Annoesjka Valent, from Hackney Socialist Party. Representatives from Newham Monitoring Project, a community-based anti-racist organisation, and the Queen's Market campaign, which has fought off a takeover by Asda/WalMart, addressed the meeting, as did a guest speaker from the Vancouver Anti-Poverty Campaign. This was followed by questions and comments from the predominantly young audience, which reflected Newham and east London's diverse population.

With the budget for the games already over target and rising, the meeting expressed the need for people to campaign actively to ensure that housing, for example, is available at a genuinely affordable cost. And, if the Olympics are to involve the whole community, will there be cheap tickets for local people, especially the young and old?

Decent rates of pay and trade union organisation on the construction sites is another pressing concern. What about long-term employment and training for young people? The dangers of criminalising young people, against the backdrop of tight security during and in the run-up to the Olympics, were also pointed out.

The aim is to build a broad, grassroots campaign, involving community groups, trade unionists and interested individuals. Already, at this first meeting, many ideas were thrown into the ring, with college students and young local artists among those who were keen to express their ideas. There will be a series of initiatives to highlight the issues, with further meetings and events being planned.

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In The Socialist 14 January 2009:


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Socialist Party campaigns

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