I am just back from a day at the Marxism 2012 festival. For one reason and another the only talk I got to hear was Alan Kenny on the Olympics and East London. A number of people spoke from the floor, including a youth worker who’d been driven out of his job after pointing out that the various “volunteering” opportunities being offered at the Olympics weren’t volunteering at all, but unpaid work for major corporations. There was the Hackney resident who had been made to attend a corporate presentation on the joy of the Olympics, at which the police had tried desperately to close down any questions about transport or legacy. An out-of-work artist complained that all funding for arts projects in schools has been gobbled up by the so called “Cultural Olympiad” (and this is something that other people have also complained to me about). There was talk of hospitals closing their doors for the duration of the Games, and fears (unsurprisingly) of the 24-hour Olympic courts.
But most interesting of all was a solicitor from East London who complained that in the Youth and Magistrates Courts, young people convicted of any crime (theft, public order, assault) are already receiving bans excluding them from Stratford as a matter of routine. Worse still, she described young people being banned for life from the Westfield shopping centre. She is someone I have known for more than a decade, and I trust her when she describes what’s happening. But this did make me wonder; under what conceivable power could a private company ban anyone for life from entering its property?
Any readers who have had direct experience of this – please email me at davidkrenton[at]gmail.com.