Counter Olympic Network set for protest march on first day of London 2012

Anti-Olympic demonstrators are set to mark the first competitive day of sport at the Games with a protest march through Tower Hamlets.

Members of the Counter Olympic Network (CON), which incorporates a number of groups unhappy with the Games, will march from Mile End Park to Victoria Park on Saturday.

CON spokesman Julian Cheyne said: “The 2012 Olympics have turned into a corporate festival, consuming billions of our money to increase profits, while the elderly, disabled, unemployed and other groups are punished for a crisis caused by the finance industry.”

The group had planned to hold an event at Wennington Green, on the junction of Grove Road and Roman Road, at the end of the route, incorporating speeches and family entertainment.

However, these plans have been cast into doubt following opposition from Tower Hamlets council. CON claim that it had initially been granted permission for speeches and some live entertainments to be held there, but have subsequently reneged on their promise.

Mr Cheyne added: “It seems pretty disproportionate that a small event like this should be prevented in this way. It is astonishing and unjust for Tower Hamlets to go back on its word like this.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said: “If people want to have a peaceful demonstration the council needs to look closely and make sure there’s a proper balance between ensuring the Olympics are a great success and peoples’ right to demonstrate peacefully.”

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The group is continuing to discuss options with Tower Hamlets council, and confirmed that they may take seek a judicial review if the council do not provide them with permission.

A council spokesman said: “We are happy to facilitate the march to the park and fully support the group’s right of protest but we are unable to accommodate any infrastructure for a larger event. We are continuing to work with the group to identify a safe solution.”

The march will start near Mile End underground station at 12pm on Saturday.

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