The Olympics have made our lives hell

By Tracy Giles, 1 October 2007

A trenchant letter from Clays Lane Travelers who are currently awaiting eviction from their homes in the future Olympic zone. Republished From The Guardian ‘Saturday Reply’, Sep 29th 07

The Olympics have made our lives hell

We are 15 Traveler families, tenants of the Newham council-run site for 40 years. We live where the Olympic village is being built (Response, September 27). Over two years ago we heard we would have to be relocated. Since then our lives have been made hell. We have been a political football between the mayor, the London Development Agency,

the Olympic Delivery Authority and Newham council. We believe that if we lived in bricks and mortar we would not have been treated in this way.

We support the Olympics and last year were looking forward to a new site to be built by the LDA on land they promised us. But then they withdrew it for political reasons, which we believe was to do with the real value of the land, and instead, with Newham council, agreed to build our new site on a children’s park. With local people we fought to save the park for families and even went to the high court but we lost.

While waiting for the new site to be built we have, since February, been living on the biggest building site in Europe. Only feet from our homes there is demolition, noise, heavy traffic and dust, and the impact is unbearable.

The LDA said it would move us to the new site at the end of July. But since then they have changed that date 12 times.

We’ve been living out of packing cases for two months. Our mail has stopped, our phones are cut off, the street lights are gone and now we have an infestation of rats due to the demolition. Yesterday the ODA brought the largest piece of machinery in the UK through our site road, ready to demolish the tower blocks just behind us. They said the blocks won’t come down while we are there. With all the power and money the Olympics has we find it shocking how we have been treated.

Tracie Giles On behalf of Clays Lane Travelers