BBC London in Greenwich Park: Fair or biased?

I’ve just seen BBC London News’s report on the preparations in Greenwich Park for the Olympics, and I’m left scratching my head a little bit. Is it me, or is it just a puff job for Olympics organisers? Have a look at it and see what you think.

Granted, there’s probably a bit of context missing – and this is an important point – that this is the latest in a series of personal films by people whose lives will be affected by the games. Unfortunately, there’s no specific place on BBC London’s website for the 2012 Lives series, but you can find some of the pieces dotted around its London 2012 index.

So the film features the editor of the Westcombe News, a well-regarded community newspaper in Blackheath, giving his broadly positive view about the equestrian events in Greenwich Park; followed by a chap who’s against them, and a woman who’s for them. To say the anti-Olympics campaigner doesn’t get a fair crack of the whip is an understatement – he’s only heard for nine seconds out of the two-minute report.

Now, getting a “local point of view” is fairly innocuous, and I can see what BBC London are trying to do. But opinions remain so polarised, I can’t help thinking this light treatment was the wrong idea, and that it would have been better to have had a proper report into this now the park’s undergoing the “scarification” treatment which has got many people worried, and with concerns about road closures remaining unresolved.

But that’s only me. I’d be interested to know what you think of the report – or are you just bored with all the bickering now?


  1. One vote for the “Bored with all the bickering” party.

    Too many complaints from the NIMBY crowd that apparently vast areas of the Park are apparently going to be ruined for apparently years and apparently entire neighbourhoods and businesses are apparently going to be cut off apparently at great expense and loss.

    It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m willing to adapt to and tolerate any temporary inconvenience for the experience. I will be there to help with the preparations and I will be there to help with the clean-up.

    Roll on 2012!

  2. I thought it was by BBC London standards a pretty balanced and fair report.

    In an ideal world they’d carry a longer report covering all the concerns and controversies but realistically that’s unlikely to happen as they always try to squeeze too many stories into each programme.

    It’s probably something they’ll come back to anyway.

  3. Yes, the balance was definitely heavily tilted to the pro-games point of view. Edward Hill of Transition Westcombe ( ) hardly got a look in and his 10 seconds was completely topped and tailed.

    Personally, though, I’m pretty much pro-games, and I tend to view NOGOERs with a degree of suspicion. I want to know why they seem to have accepted that the Avenue should be a car park for over 200 vehicles whilst getting snotty about a few horses. If I saw them campaigning about everyday traffic – which has a far greater ecological impact on the park’s wildlife – then I think I’d be prepared to view them more favourably.

  4. @AdamB, when I saw your link I had a guess who’d started that one off before checking. And, deary, deary me, I guessed right!

  5. I want to know why they seem to have accepted that the Avenue should be a car park for over 200 vehicles whilst getting snotty about a few horses.

    Nail hit on head.

    At one point, I kept meaning to do a post on why NOGOE failed. But the bed bugs stuff does it for me. It’s a shame, because some of their recent stuff has been less shrill and more measured.

  6. Surely the repeated raising of barmy issues like bedbugs are evidence that NOGOE has been fatally infiltrated and undermined by LOCOG?

  7. AdamB, you are doing wonders for Rob’s Google ranking – not to mention helping bed bugs to trend – keep up the good work.

  8. What that BBC London programme couldn’t be bothered to cover:

    1. The new grass seeds shown are not indigenous to the Park, and the BBC failed to mention the tons of fertiliser, gallons of herbicide and detergents being pumped into route of the cross country course where children and dogs sit and play.

    2. There were 2,000 letters of objection v. 39 of support at the planning stage – Greenwich Council granted permission subject to 42 conditions and then immediately bowed to LOCOG’s pressure to start work without submitting full Park reinstatement plans.

    3. 15,000 people signed a protest petition – that’s more than the combined membership of the Westcombe Society, Friends of Greenwich Park and Greenwich Society!

    4. The very upset teenagers screaming their protest at LOCOG’s ‘Update’ boards in The Park this week? The Park is their safe area for socialising, and LOCOG is going to take it away from them for long periods in the summer.

    5. For lone women, Greenwich Park is far safer than the woods on Shooters Hill Road and more pleasant than the streets (which will also be blocked off during the 2012 events).

    6. The mothers with young children who will be climbing the walls when they have nowhere to let their children run about over the next two summers? (Especially now that part of the course will run through the play park with a jump to be constructed in the kiddies’ sandpit).

  9. There are 1000’s more individual opponents to the use of Greenwich Park than the NOGOE organisation.

  10. What I mean to say Darryl is that there are many opponents to the huge amount of work and closures required to deliver the Equestrian Events to Olympic standard in 2012 (see the LOCOG website)
    NOGOE2012 has galvanised those opponents.
    NOGOE2012 is not anti-Olympics but anti the amount of infrastructure (course prep, power, security, sewage, supplies etc. etc.) that need to be installed and operated in Greenwich Park much of which is just for a 5 hour event that won’t even be accessible to the ‘iconic views’ because the 23,000 seat stadium and all the hospitality tents, media centres, service tents etc will be in the way……..
    The IOC have huge powers and we should all appreciate this.
    The local amenity societies and the local council have underestimated this.
    Individual people act according to their own passions and many are in despair about the obvious consequences to The Park and the community and to small businesses on many, many levels.
    I noted today that somebody had tipped something nasty over one of LOCOG’s billboards, another local clipped the tops off all the marker whiskers a couple of weeks ago and since then more have disappeared. This was not the work of NOGOE2012.

    Indigo may well have a point that bed bugs will flourish with the 2012 influx but you will find no reference to that on the NOGOE website. Please do not confuse.

    Indigo goes on to state some very real community issues which are sympathetic to the NOGOE issues and are shared by many (see Save Greenwich Park Facebook site)

    Also one commentator on your blog lambasted NOGOE for not fighting the 200 car parking on The Avenue – well true – am sure several members did but not everyone even knew about the consultations – like the ‘consultation’ on Greenwich Town Centre secreted away as usual )- but the Friends of Greenwich Park, The Greenwich Society, Westcombe Society, Blackheath Society should be fighting this as local bodies.

    NOGOE was formed as a single issue pressure group by people who were disappointed that the subscription-only-mostly- retired/semi retired – member-only-societies were not awake when the Olympic Equestrian Events were mentioned………(remember when you blogged they prevented you entry from The Blackheath Halls??)
    Even though many people are exhausted by the endless bickering – please let it be known that NOGOE2012 is alive and well and do not want their reward to be vindication when it all goes horribly wrong either for LOCOG or Greenwich Park and its users.
    Let’s swap with Lord’s cricket ground and have 2012 Archery? Beach Volley Ball and free up The Mall??

    The cross-country could go to Windsor (as could the arena events) with shed loads of accommodation at the Royal Holloway College shared with the rowers.

    Equestrianism has not been booted out of the Brazilian 2016 games (which was one of their reasons for wanting to be close in – does anyone remember that was one of the prime reasons for choosing Greenwich?)

    The security is going to be a A NIGHTMARE……..far better LOCOG build it in now to a proper sports venue they can fence off immediately…….they have only done a small amount of work so surely someone can still arrange to move it now and let Greenwich really chill out and enjoy the games??

  11. By the way WHO HEARD ABOUT THIS?? … I only just got it ….and it finished…… “Consultation”???

    Dear Residents

    I am writing to invite you to a meeting to discuss the Council’s pedestrianisation proposals for Greenwich town centre, particularly around issues about ‘rat-running’ traffic in local streets.

    Concerns from local residents in responding to previous consultations have included worries that current ‘rat-running’ in local streets may become worse under the new gyratory proposals. The Council has carried out further traffic surveys to investigate more deeply local traffic movements over the wider Greenwich area.

    We would like to meet and brief you on our findings, and to discuss any local concerns. We therefore propose to invite you and other local resident stakeholders , representing local streets / associations,

    at a forthcoming forum 7.00 pm on Thursday 28 October at the Greenwich Forum, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich.

    At this first meeting of the Forum, our consultants will present the results of their extended traffic model, and explain how the gyratory proposals might be expected to alter peak hour traffic patterns for both the main roads and other local residential streets.

    We will then show you some feasible traffic management ‘packages’ with potential to reduce rat-running through South Central Greenwich, then invite discussion of these options and their impacts on local accessibility.

    If there is a general consensus for a particular package of measures, the model will be further used to assess traffic movements. Thereafter any local measures could be brought forward for further consultation irrespective of whether the Town Centre scheme goes ahead.

    The final decision on whether to proceed with the pedestrianisation proposals including these local measures will be made by elected members and our aim is to report local residents’ views, including those of the local forum, as this will help and inform members in their decision-making.

    If you need any further information, please email

    Yours sincerely

    Jeff Horsman

    Highways & Structures
    Strategic Transportation

    Direct Dial 020 8921 5576

  12. I think Jan’s remarks demonstrate Darryl’s point. It’s not that they are unhinged, like some of the others, but seem vague, conservative and seem rather bitter.

    She – and they – could all be right, but I’ll make up my own mind based on a balanced evaluation of the facts.

    The foghorn approach taken by the campaigners I find quite off-putting, as is their use of facts – its like trying to understand Catholic theology by having a discussion with Ian Paisley.

  13. @AnotherTom – does your “evaluation of facts” include going to the Park and seeing the damage for yourself or reading the security budget information on the Met Police web site for yourself? Thought not.

    Jan is anything BUT vague, she has given you specifics. If you find these unpalatable, that’s your problem.

    Your last sentence is a good example of how words can be strung together and mean absolutely nothing.

  14. Thanks for a typically reasoned approach to debating “Indigo”. It’s great to know that you follow me around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so know that I don’t visit the park or use the internet. (That I go through the park twice a day, and often use it for leisure at the weekends – last weekend, for instance – is neither here nor there.)

    Of all the people that I find least persuasive about Greenwich parks it is yourself Indigo, largely because of the obsessive and odd nature of your comments. Given these facts, please do not feel compelled to respond.

  15. And, I’m sorry to say, comments such as these are not facts.

    “The security is going to be a A NIGHTMARE”

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