Saturday, 7 July 2012
NOLYMPICS: some thoughts on Olympic exclusion
TfL and London 2012 have issued the following advice to ensure people enjoy ‘the best possible Games-time experience’. Read between the lines:
‘be prepared to wait for several hours and think carefully about bringing small children’
‘For some, it may be better to view the event … on TV at home, with friends, at a pub or local community centre’
‘TfL also repeated its advice to motorists and urged those in road event areas not to get caught out by the road closures necessary to stage the event’
‘Motorists are advised to avoid central London’
‘Don't get caught out - you will not be able to cross the race route by road’
On road event days road closures will be in place from early morning;
Instead, please use public transport, cycle or walk’
What they really mean is –
SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STAY AT HOME. THIS EVENT IS NOT FOR YOU, IT’S FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
In K&C, ‘an Olympic borough’ we have had that advice in bucketloads. The tickets are far too expensive for mere mortals so we can’t think of attending. We have the volleyball competition but residents of Earl’s Court are afraid that local transport will be fit to bursting, possibly dangerously so. Many people have no idea how they will get to work.
So what’s in it for the citizens of North Kensington? Well the Council has cut the school sports budget by £750,000 over the past two years, so if any local young people are inspired by watching the Games obediently on telly they can forget it, there’s little or no funding out there to encourage you. There is allegedly a huge programme of performances on Exhibition Road costing a humungous £1m, but you’ll never get there as the buses will be even more log-jammed than usual. Anyway the Council doesn’t seem to want the proletariat down there, as there is nothing on the Council website to let you know what’s going on. Even residents local to South Kensington have no idea what’s going on right on their doorsteps, so evidently that’s going to be just for tourists too.
OK not really, but it’s beginning to feel like that.
So is the Council organising any Olympic-themed fun days for residents who can’t afford tickets?
No they are not.
Have they put on any fun events for children to encourage them to get involved in sports?
No they have not.
So what are they doing for the great unwashed masses of N Ken? Well it’s ‘a riotous feast of culture’ called InTransit, comprising ‘artist-led walks, interventions, promenade performances and commissions’, or an ‘unexpected programme of site-responsive events’. You really have to see this:
Apparently they will be taking Grade F polluted water from the canal, parading it around and then throwing it in the Thames.
This is so utterly barmy it not only appeared in our own dear Hornet’s Nest, but also in Private Eye Rotten Boroughs. Some days I am embarrassed to be a Councillor in RBKC, and this was one of them.
You know, I love the arts, and some of the events they are putting on are not bonkers, they are fine. This isn’t an issue about ART. This is an issue about where the Council prioritises its spending in straitened times.
In 2012/13 the Council cut £40,000 from voluntary organisations, over £300,000 from learning disability services, £279,000 from sports for schools (to add to the £500,000 last year), £200,000 from high need adolescents etc etc. Yet they managed to find £1m for ten days of ‘site-responsive events’ on Exhibition Road for tourists, an alleged £30,000 for the launch event party for the select few, and of course the legendary whopping £25m for paving the street – which gets so mucky it needs an extra £175,000 year on special cleaning, which they will need if the ten bars selling booze until late are allowed to open.
Two Years of Brutal Cuts
A group of local churches, Faith in the City, will be holding an Olympic-themed event for children on Friday 27th at Emslie Horniman Park with stalls and games. I’m sure it will be lovely. For many, it will be the only Olympic event they will experience. In our Royal Borough this is a true reflection of just how much certain people in the Council, elected or employed, care about its poorest residents, and it's shameful.