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Boris at odds with East End over 2012 marathon route

PUBLISHED: 15:27 07 October 2010

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Carmen Valino

LONDON mayor Boris Johnson is at odds with business leaders and his own party who want to see Olympic marathon runners pound the streets of Tower Hamlets.

He was at the BT Tower for the announcement that the Olympic park will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park following the 2012 games and the latest plans for the park when it will be transformed into a tourist attraction and 11,000 homes as part of the Olympic legacy.

The Olympic marathon route has been redrawn away from Tower Hamlets to central London and politicians and business leaders are leading the campaign to bring it back to the East End.

But Conservative Mr Johnson said: “You have to set the Olympic route next to the £9.3 billion investment in East London.” He said the difficulty of running 11 other events on the day of the marathon meant it was difficult to stick to the original routing through Tower Hamlets, which is one of the five Olympic host boroughs of the events in London.

He added: “I understand the disappointment in Tower Hamlets about the re-routing of the marathon but compare it with what benefits will come to East London.”

Conservative Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said the routing decision was influenced by a number of factors including what was good for the athletes.

He described it as a “fair and considered decision.”

But their views are at odds with the Canary Wharf Group, whose strategic adviser Howard Dawber said: “The people of East London deserve a chance to see these elite athletes on their streets.”

And the leader of Tower Hamlets Conservatives councillor Peter Golds said: “It is absolutely ridiculous. I am going to raise it with anybody I can raise it with.”

He said he had raised the issue “vociferously” at this week’s Conservative party conference and pledged to write to ministers protesting about the re-routing of the marathon.

All the candidates vying to become Tower Hamlets’ first directly elected mayor have backed the campaign calling for the marathon route to be restored to the East End.

There may be one glimmer of light - when quizzed about making tickets available for people living in the deprived Olympics host boroughs Mr Johnson said he would be making an announcement about tickets.

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