Four people were arrested today as protesters were evicted from Leyton Marsh. The protesters were opposing the building on Leyton Marsh of a basketball training centre for the Paralympic Games.
Hackney councillor Barry Buitekant told the Hackney Citizen that ten bailiffs and at least 20 police officers were present this morning and that there was “non-violent resistance” in the protest camp, which has been backed by the Occupy London movement.
Police have said that all the protesters have now been removed from the area and that the arrests were made under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
Local residents had joined forces with Occupy to protest the construction of a 12m high Olympics basketball practice hall on public land.
Last week, a High Court injunction barred protesters camped out on Leyton Marsh from disrupting the construction of the training facility.
In a joint statement, the two Hackney Labour councillors for Leabridge ward, Ian Rathbone, Deniz Oguzkanli, said: “We are disappointed that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority have gone to such extraordinary and unnecessary lengths by going to the High Court, wasting public money and court time on a matter which could have been discussed in the usual way of talking with one another.”
Protesters and locals are concerned that the Olympic structure may not be temporary and that the planning application could be extended for the purpose of future development.
Responding to these claims, an ODA spokesperson said: “We are legally obliged to remove the venue shortly after the Paralympic Games this summer and return the ground to its previous state. We confirm that we will do this by 15 October 2012.
“Local people will still be able to walk on the vast majority of the Leyton Marshes and the immediate Porter’s Field area throughout the summer, and, after the temporary structure is dismantled, they will benefit from £65,000 of improvements to the area and its wildlife habitats, funded by the ODA.”
The two Labour Leabrige ward councillors have asked a number of further questions about the possible exposure to asbestos and other chemicals as a result of the digging, and what they see as the lack of safeguards on the site to protect nearby residents from resultant dust and pollution.
Local group Save Leyton Marshes says that work has now resumed on site, “despite our very real concerns about possible contamination. The campaign continues and we will be challenging their breaches of the planning regulations and treatment of peaceful protestors in court.”