Press Release from Counter Olympics Network 23rd July 2012
Anti-Olympic activists in the Counter Olympics Network (CON) have today served papers on Tower Hamlets council demanding that it reverse its ban on anti-Olympic speeches and events following CON’s Demonstration against the Corporate Olympics on Saturday 28th July.
CON was informed on 18 July 2012 that Tower Hamlets refuses to allow speeches or other events at Wennington Green, where its march will end. This is despite CON obtaining permission from the police and from Transport from London for its demonstration.
Tower Hamlets Council denies placing restrictions on freedom of speech, saying that they could not allow the event as they simply did not have sufficient notice of it. But CON first wrote to Tower Hamlets on 11 June setting out details of their protest, and by law protesters only have to give the authorities six days notice of an event.
After receiving notice of the event, Tower Hamlets initially wrote back to CON on 22 June refusing permission for it; but after coming under pressure from the police and from elected officials in the borough changed tack, writing to the protesters on 10 July to say that they would be given permission, before finally banning the event on 18 July.
On 20th July Labour MP Rushanara Ali wrote to Stephen Halsey of Tower Hamlets supporting the group’s right to protest. CON has also had messages of support from both Labour and Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets, and Respect Councillor Harun Miah has tabled a motion for Tower Hamlets council supporting CON’s right to march.
Julian Cheyne stated ‘CON does not understand why Tower Hamlets has decided to alter its decision to allow it to hold a peaceful event in Wennington Green. CON has co-operated with the authorities at every stage and has approval from both the police and TfL for its march and event. It is astonishing and unjust for Tower Hamlets to go back on its word like this.’
Albert Beale of CON commented: ‘There is a very substantial body of opinion which is unhappy with the Games, its connection with a number of very unsuitable corporations, and the refusal to properly consult with or to listen to local opinion over decisions like the placing of missiles on residential buildings in the East End. The authorities have stated they intend to facilitate protest. All protests end with speeches and in this instance CON intends to hold a family friendly closing event which Tower Hamlets should welcome. Instead it chooses to place obstacles in our way. CON will continue to insist on its right to protest and to use a public park for that purpose.’
CON has given Tower Hamlets until 10am on 25th July to allow it to use Wenningham Green after which it will issue proceedings in the High Court for Judicial Review.
1. CON’s protest will start at 12 noon on Saturday 28th July. Assembly point is in MileEndPark, opposite Mile End Tube station. The march will begin at 1pm and proceed down Bow Road, pass along Fairfield Road past Bow Quarter where missiles have been installed in the face of opposition from local residents, down Tredegar Road, St Stephen’s Road and Roman Road to Wennington Green. The event to be held in Wennington Green will not require the use of any heavy equipment, a condition presented by Tower Hamlets, in light of the heavy rainfall, at an earlier stage in the proceedings and one which protesters are happy to abide by. The event will include speakers Brian Richardson of Defend the Right to Protest, Ruth Tanner of War on Want and Chris Nineham of the Stop The Olympic Missiles Campaign. There will also be speakers from some of the 50 or so campaigns that support CON, children’s activities, poetry, theatrical performances, music and mock Olympics sports.
2. The CON Demonstration against the Corporate Games highlights the close ties between the Olympic brand and its corporate sponsors who, despite IOC claims of vetting on ethical grounds, include serial polluters, companies which seriously damage the environment and which wreck or take lives, Coca Cola, Rio Tinto, BP, Dow Chemical. Others like G4S, Cisco, and Atos deny people their human rights in a variety of situations while Macdonalds helps to fuel the obesity epidemic. London2012 provides benefits at taxpayers’ expense while receiving little in retur.
3. Counter Olympics also protests at the broken legacy promises, the lack of benefits for local people and businesses, the fantastic expansion of security into our daily lives, the deployment of missiles and large numbers of troops, the unwarranted seizure of public land at Wanstead Flats, Leyton Marsh and Greenwich Park. These negative precedents set in so many different fields can be used to justify further massive security operations, the deployment of armed police and drones, the further seizure of land and the breach of planning rules preventing development of open space.