Enthusiasm for Olympics is failing to catch on in the East End

With a year to the opening ceremony, opinion is divided among locals living and working in the shadow of the Olympic stadium. There are those who believe they are being pushed out of the area, others who feel they are being hidden and more who declare that life as they know it is being killed off.

Either way, finding a resident who is enthusiastic about the "greatest show on earth" is like searching for a pin in a long-jump pit.

The juxtaposition of old and new is most evident near the gleaming tower of the recently erected Westfield centre in Stratford. Over the road is the more tired looking Stratford Shopping Centre, where a bargain basement market fills the central aisle. "They want to turf us out. We have been here since year dot. It is disgusting," said Philippa Harvey as she served customers at a tie-dye dress stall. Many stall owners fear they will be removed for the great games to make way for the visitors.

"They want to tart the area up while hiding us. I can't see they have the right to take our livelihoods," explained Mrs Harvey, who has worked on the market for 30 years.

"Waste of money," was 20-year-old Steve Warren's blunt verdict as his brother Kenny, 18, and friend Billy Hughes, 19, nodded in agreement.

The pair explained they had managed to gain a carpentry apprenticeship on the Olympic site but it had ended after three months.

"The work was nearly finished so we only got half our apprenticeship. Now there is no way we can finish it. We can't get work because we aren't qualified. It is terrible," said Mr Hughes.

Market trader Yilmaz Ugurel, 66, was a lone voice of optimism. "It should make the area better," he said. "Lots of people will come to the expensive shops. There is going to be more available, like housing."

"I don't know one working-class person in East London who has applied (for tickets). They can't afford it," said shirt seller Norman Williams, 62.

A short train ride to Hackney Wick takes you past the gleaming white Olympic stadium, which contrasts with the surrounding graffiti-covered and derelict industrial units.

"You can see what it has done for this area, it has killed it off," said one worker at a stone yard.

Nearby at Griddlers café Rosie Avietti explained angrily how it had destroyed most of her trade after local businesses were closed through compulsory purchase orders.

The Olympic Delivery Authority responded: "East London has seen a transformation in just a few years, which otherwise would have taken generations. A new urban park stands on land which was contaminated; waterways have been revitalised; transport links improved; a new retail centre has been built, bringing jobs and investment. After 2012, the Athletes' Village will become a new community. There will also be sporting facilities which will benefit Londoners for years to come."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness