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Hiding our proud Olympic flag from East Enders

PUBLISHED: 19:32 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:34 05 October 2010

Stadium. Construction in the Stadium site. Picture taken on 02 Aug 2008 by David Poultney.

Stadium. Construction in the Stadium site. Picture taken on 02 Aug 2008 by David Poultney.

JUST a few hundred metres from where I live in Bow, there's a large building site. Take a stroll down the Greenway' and you get a detailed view of one of the most awe-inspiring construction projects anywhere in Europe: the Olympic Stadium site—So what are Tower Hamlets councillors doing now we're an official host' borough? Well. They're flying a London Olympic flag

ABOVE: Olympics building site on my doorstep—see first story

BELOW: Counting “thousands” in Vicky Park—see second story

Ted Jeory puts our politicians in the dock

JUST a few hundred metres from where I live in Bow, there’s a large building site. Take a stroll down the Greenway’ nature walk and you get a particularly detailed view of it. I’d recommend it to anyone.

For what you see there is one of the most awe-inspiring construction projects anywhere in Europe: the Olympic Stadium site.

The scale of what Lord Seb Coe and his team are trying to achieve—and, amazingly, they’re ahead of schedule—is simply jaw-dropping.

Go there once a month and you’ll see the stadium slowly rising.

Stand there for a few minutes imagining what four years will bring and you’ll want to pole vault the fence to help out. School trips should be made there.

Nowhere else do you get the feel that this spectacular jamboree will actually be here in the East End—love or hate that idea, it’s undoubtedly exciting.

So what are Tower Hamlets councillors doing now we’re an official host’ borough?

Well. They’re flying a London Olympic flag.

But not somewhere high and proud over the East End, not, say, over the Idea Store in Whitechapel boasting our credentials to all-comers.

Instead our back-slapping bunch of leaders have placed it on small pole outside the marble-clad Town Hall in Mulberry Place.

They even had a ceremony for it on Tuesday morning, attended by council leader Lutfur Rahman and his officials.

So caught up are they in their little Blackwall bubble, they don’t realise that hardly anyone from Tower Hamlets will actually see the flag there—because their ivory tower is tucked away in an isolated corner of Docklands that’s nowhere near the real East End.

If there was a gold medal for misplaced self-importance, our lot would win by a country mile.

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BIGGER BUDGETS THAN BRAINS

THREE months ago, the organisers of the fabulous Paradise Gardens festival in Victoria Park described Tower Hamlets council’s arts and entertainment’ department as the “best in Britain”.

After Sunday’s shambolic Olympic celebration show in Vicky Park, I think I know why—they seem to have bigger budgets than brains.

Staggeringly, the council spent £25,000 of our money on an event attended at its highlight moment by about 150 people—almost £200 a head.

Many more did turn up at the beginning, but left when they realised they’d been conned by a press release and an East End Life article which implied the Beijing closing ceremony would be showing on a big screen.

It wasn’t. All we got was garbled sound and a double-decker hedge.

And then a deafening “ghetto blaster stage” calibrated to be heard by an expected audience of thousands.

Frankly, it was rubbish. And one of the three councillors who bothered to turn up, Rofique Ahmed, Ohid Ahmed and Salim Ullah (all of whom remained glued to their £200 hospitality’ tent, where they enjoyed “free” food throughout the afternoon) admitted as much later.

This particular councillor even said sorry to me (!) for the lack of numbers.

It’s a shame his humility was not matched by the council’s press office—which claimed there were 3,000 people there.

If there was a gold medal for synchronised spinning, our council would be in a field of its own.

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FANTASY STAB IN THE BACK

LAST week, I named Lib Dem group leader Stephanie Eaton as the leader of a cross-party fantasy cabinet’ and suggested a shortlist of 14 that would need to be whittled to 10.

Having since consulted her friends, the following four would be axed: Respect’s Abjol Miah for failing to care about Town Hall business; Labour’s Helal Abbas because he would not be able to work with Lutfur Rahman and Denise Jones; ex-Respect-turned-Tory Ahmed Hussain for a lack of consistency; and Labour’s Alibor Choudhury because he’s better suited scrutinising from the back benches.

However, when asked who he’d leave out, one senior member of this cabinet’ said: “Eaton, like a shot.”

Even in fantasy land, these politicians are stabbing each other in the back.

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