So I popped along to the Olympics consultation in Greenwich Park, and was fairly reassured by what I heard. The main thrust of what the 2012 organisers want to do, as I saw it…
- A part of the park (the flat area at the foot of the hill) will be closed for several months for construction of a 20,000-capacity stadium. But the whole park will have to be closed from two weeks before the Olympics for it to be converted into the cross-country course.
- No trees will be cut down, they say, but some low-hanging branches will have to be cut down.
- The current course involves a route through the flower garden, because the duck pond is proposed as a water feature. This may be changed, because people are worried about the flower garden, with the boating lake replacing it as a water feature instead.
So, here’s what I reckon this all comes down to. Is losing Greenwich Park for six weeks or so a price worth paying for us to be hosting a major Olympic event? And if we decide it is, then the organisers must be held to their every word about restoring the park to its previous glory.
Like I said before, this debate isn’t helped by the extreme viewpoints involved – the Evening Standard misery corps on one side, Greenwich Council on the other. LOCOG had a press day on Friday and showed the local freesheets around, but they’ll need to get their act together if they’re to overcome a tide of local scepticism.
And it dawned on me earlier that councillors from all three main parties represent wards which adjoin or include Greenwich Park (Tories and Labour in Blackheath Westcombe, Labour in Greenwich West and Peninsula, and Lib Dems in Lewisham’s Blackheath ward). I don’t think we’ve heard a peep out of them, which is sad.