Tag Archives: Save Leyton Marsh

Defend the Right to Protest Meeting: the Olympics and Beyond

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Tuesday 26th June, 7pm – 9pm

Harmony Hall, Truro Road, London E17 7BY

Speakers include:
Simon Moore: Campaigner and recipient of Olympic ASBO
Alfie Meadows: Student charged with violent disorder after his skull was fractured by police
Caroline Day: Save Leyton Marsh Group
Speaker from Newham Monitoring Project
Brian Richardson: Barrister & author of ‘Tell it Like it is – How Schools Fail Black Children’

The Save Leyton Marsh group has been handled by the authorities in a punitive manner. In response to a campaign whose primary ambition was to protect a popular local green space, the Olympics authorities have served 3 High Court injunctions, three
peaceful protestors and a journalist have been jailed and Simon Moore has been issued with the first “Olympic Asbo”.

This meeting will bring together those who have been protesting against the loss of Leyton Marsh with activiss from Defend the Right to Protest, which challenges the Coalition’s sustained assault on all of our rights to object.

I’m a rambler, I’m a rambler; from North London way

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For those unfamiliar with Ewan MacColl’s great song, it was written to commemorate the Kinder Scout Trespass of 1934, when around 600 ramblers walked from Hayfield in Derbyshire to Kinder Scout, drawing attention to the domination of the Derbyshire Peaks by a small number of landowners who had no use for the land other thangrouse-shooting. (Those were the days, when the super-powerful were visible and identifiable rich men and women, unlike today, when the enemy has been abstracted into brands, corporations etc…).

The latest message from Save Leyton Marsh has something of the spirit of 1934 about it …

“Once each year, sometimes on a legally designated or customary date, people still walk around local areas of land to re-establish rights of common or mark significant boundaries, such as of a Parish, Manor or an area of Common Land or public open space. This often takes place during Rogationtide, in springtime, when prayers were once offered asking for the fertility of the land. Willow sticks decorated with flowers and ribbons are traditionally carried and important boundary markers hit with them. Younger children are turned upside-down to have their heads bumped three times at significant points ‘to imprint the location on their minds!’ – boys might also be hung over bridges, and girls were “pricked” with pins. This year Rogation Sunday falls on the 13th May and there are three Beating the Bounds walks to choose from!”

“Beating the Bounds of St. Saviour’s and St. Barnabas Parish in the Parish of Walthamstow. This is an Anglican procession setting off from St. Saviour’s Church in Markhouse Road, E17 at approximately 10.45am after Mass. It is a religious occasion and those participating might wish to attend Sunday Mass at 9.00am beforehand. The walk will end at approximately 3.45pm. Quite a long walk, not suitable for wheelchair users.”

“Beating the Bounds of Leyton Marshes in the Parish of Leyton. This perambulation will follow the route of the Community Procession, revived about
17 years ago, around the former Lammas Lands of Leyton Marshes. Meet from 1.30pm at the Lee Valley Ice Centre car-park on Lea Bridge Road beside the bridge. Setting off at 2.00pm. About 4 miles, not suitable for wheelchair users, ending at the Hare & Hounds pub, Lea Bridge Road, approximately 4.30pm.”

“Beating the Bounds of Walthamstow Marshes. This walk is organised by the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee and will be led by John Gilbert of the Walthamstow Historical Association. Meet from 1.30pm at the Lee Valley Ice Centre car-park on Lea Bridge Road. A 2½ mile walk suitable for all.”

Finally, for those interested in following up the story of the original mass trespass, can I recommend Fay Sampson’s children’s novel A Free Man on Sunday. There’s also coverage of last month’s 80th anniversary celebrations here.

UPDATE: photographs of the walks here.

Save Leyton Marsh: Mike Wells freed on bail

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Reports on twitter (#freeMikeWells) indicate that the journalist Mike Wells, was freed today on bail:

after 2 nights in police custody & 6 nights in HMPThameside Mike has been granted bail

This is how writers associated with the Save Leyton Marsh campaign reported Well’s original arrest:

On Thursday 26th, April Mike Wells, a citizen journalist who writes for the Games Monitor website, was filming unsafe working practices on Leyton Marsh at the ‘chaotically managed’ Olympic construction site. As a result of his attempt to film and draw attention to the unsafe practices of an excavator working close to pedestrians on Sandy Lane (the pathway running adjacent to Leyton Marsh), Mike was assaulted first by the driver who did not want the activities filmed and was then brutally restrained by a number of bailiffs resulting in injuries to his ribs and forehead … His assailants refused to show ID or explain their actions but appeared very agitated and were ordering people to keep away. One of them was recording the scene and bystanders on video. Police arrived and immediately arrested Mike, who was driven away in handcuffs after being treated for some time in an ambulance.

Wells was then placed in police custody, and originally refused bail, before finally being granted bail today.

For those who want to know more of the context, particularly from the Olympic Development Agency’s perspective, I’d recommend reading the judgment of the High Court which in April granted ODA’s injunction against protesters, not prohibiting them from entering the Marsh, but limiting their means of protesting against its development into an Olympic practice area.

(One of SLM’s criticisms of Wells’ original bail hearing is that the CPS substantially misrepresented the terms of the injunction to the Magistrates, suggesting that Wells, and other members of the public, were excluded from the construction site. As will be seen, the injunction does no such thing).

I have no independent knowledge of the truth or otherwise of this account of Wells’ arrest – or indeed of the bail hearing. But this treatment of Wells, if proven, would accord with other complaints Save Leyton Marsh have about contractors working on the site, which include the allegation that a company solicitor – masquerading as an Evening Standard journalist – was sent to the site to trawl for information that would be embarrassing to the protesters.

I’ve previously discussed the case of Simon Moore, who received the first Olympic ASBO.

These allegations have to be placed within context. The approach of the Olympic authorities generally has been to crack down on anybody (whether commercial or political) who might contaminate their “brand”. As Tom Hickman has reported in the UK constitutional law blog

The London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006 prohibits businesses from any promotion linked to the games. It would catch, for example, a bed and breakfast offering a discount on rooms to anyone attending the games, or a pub that gets in a big screen to show the Games and publicises the fact on a sign outside.

Businesses are on very risky ground if they make any use of a combination of any two of the protected words “Games”, “2012” or “twenty twelve”, or combination including other secondary protected words, including “gold”, “London” or even “summer” …

The result was highlighted by the Newham Recorder in an article that received coverage on Have I Got News for You, that a local greasy spoon called Café Olympic had been forced to paint over the “O” on its shop sign.

It seems that protesters – as the greatest potential source of brand contamination – are being treated with the greatest contempt.

Finally, those interested in following the Leyton Marsh story should keep an eye on the SLM blog.