'The only Olympic legacy we'll have is fewer customers,' businesses warn


Graham Phelps doesn't have much time for the idea of an "Olympic legacy". "If we lose customers during the Olympics, we'll lose them for ever," he says. "That's our Olympic legacy."

Mr Phelps is the manager of a small deliveries firm, based on a quiet street on the edge of the London Olympic site. When the family of nations descends on this corner of the capital, he and other local business owners are unlikely to welcome them with open arms.

Phelps Transport, of White Post Lane, Hackney, is one of more than 40 local firms that are planning to sue the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) over the threat to their businesses from traffic disruptions during the Games.

"In rush hour we won't be able to work at all," Mr Phelps told The Independent. "Where our drivers might usually leave at midday to get to a job in Birmingham they're going to have to leave at 5am during the Olympics just to get there on time. We could lose between 50 and 60 per cent of our turnover."

Disruption during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including parking and loading restrictions and lane and road closures in parts of east London will severely affect the movement of goods, staff and services – driving away business and threatening livelihoods, some of the businesses backing the lawsuit said yesterday.

Kevin Farley, the manager of Pennywise Furniture wholesalers, said regular customers had called him to voice their concerns. "If there's going to be police checkpoints, that will create a massive bottle-neck," he said. "I can see half of our customers staying away."

Businesses are frustrated at the continued uncertainty over the severity of disruptions. Final decisions on road closures have not yet been made and details of contingency measures such as late-night deliveries have been left to local authorities.

In the meantime, local firms have seen their customers' confidence slowly ebb away, and many are planning to take their business elsewhere.

"We've already had some customers decline to stay with us because we can't tell them what will happen during the Olympics," said Michael Spinks, managing director of Essex Flour and Grain, based in Hackney, which has been in business for 153 years. "Locog have invaded our territory and treated us like playground bullies."

Locog organised a meeting for local businesses last month and assured firms they would still be able to operate. "We want to ensure people who live and work in the vicinity of our venues are able to continue going about their business with the minimum of disruption this summer," a spokesman said.

But some are already convinced that the restrictions proposed, including slipway closures on the A12, a crucial artery for commercial traffic, will mean widespread congestion.

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: "The Council's priority has always been to make sure that residents and businesses see genuine benefit from the Olympic Games. We have been working with local businesses to understand the challenges they are likely to face and we'll publish specific guidance for Hackney businesses very soon."

Mr Phelps is not convinced. "I've spoken to the firms round here and not one expects to gain from the Olympics," he said. "The idea of the Games is to revitalise this area, but all they're going to do is bring down businesses. Some firms might not survive it."

Heathrow 'unlikely to cope' with surge in passengers

The London Olympics may lead to the country's largest airport seizing up under the pressure of passenger numbers, MPs warn.

A lack of preparation and resources at immigration control could lead to a scenario whereby "planes cannot unload their passengers into the terminal due to capacity being exceeded," John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said. "This would lead to circling in the air, planes being left on runways or planes blocking gates."

Mr Whittingdale warned of his concerns in a letter to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. He said two members of his committee, Therese Coffey and Gerry Sutcliffe, had attended a briefing by Heathrow's operator BAA but "did not leave the briefing confident that Heathrow was ready to cope".

"We understand that significant preparations have been made to accommodate unusual sporting equipment, special lanes for the Olympic family, welcoming arrangements for competitors and additional Olympic ambassadors," he wrote. "However, far less thought seems to have been given to the issue of how to deal with long queues at immigration. The UKBA [UK Border Agency] representative suggested that there was insufficient funding to ensure all passport stations would be open."

BAA agreed that the situation was a cause for concern. "There isn't a trade-off between strong border security and a good passenger experience – Border Force should be delivering both," BAA said in a statement.

A report yesterday said UKBA is failing in its "basic functions".

Rob Hastings

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering