Ilford Recorder Column 27 January 2011

Tomorrow should have been decision day for the future of the Stratford Olympic stadium after 2012. But the decision has been put back.  Will the authorities decide to keep to the promise made to UK athletics and the Olympic movement by supporting the joint Newham Council/ West Ham United bid? Or will they instead capitulate to big business and support the American multinational/ Tottenham Hotspur plan to knock down the £500 million stadium and replace it with a football only Stratford stadium and a promise of a rebuilt smaller athletics facility on the other side of London at Crystal Palace?

 In a recent debate in Parliament I declared my interest as a season ticket-holder in the Bobby Moore  stand at Upton Park and a supporter of the Hammers for 50 years. I pointed out that  if West Ham move to the Olympic stadium site, it will fulfil not only the commitment made to athletics, but it will also be a commitment to the regeneration of east London and to the priorities of the community there.

As I stated “ West Ham are an east London team, Tottenham are a north London team, and the Olympic stadium is in east London” . If Tottenham Hotspur moves, it will be like when Wimbledon moved to become the Milton Keynes Dons.  I told the House “presumably, the team would then rebrand itself as the "Stratford Spurs". It will become a peripatetic football team, losing its roots and traditions. By contrast, if West Ham moves, it will still be a team from the east end, a team in the borough of Newham and a team with roots in the community, proud to have the claret and blue flying over the Olympic stadium in Stratford and proud to serve the community of east London. “ The most important winner to come from a successful West Ham bid is the legacy. That is why it is important that West Ham and Newham council's bid is successful.




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