Bombs put lives at risk, not banners: Hackney councillor raises safety concerns over Olympic site bomb

A Hackney councillor has expressed concern that walkers’ safety was put at risk when they were not evacuated off Leyton Marshes after an unexploded World War Two bomb was found nearby.

The incendiary device which weighed about a kilogram was discovered on March 14 on the building site for the contentious 12 metre high Olympic basketball training facility, behind the ice skating rink on Lea Bridge Road.

Police, fire engines and bomb disposal experts rushed to the green field site at 10am and the area was declared safe two hours later.

“The site’s workers were correctly evacuated to the ice centre car Park, however walkers on the marsh were allowed to go right up to the site without being warned of the danger,” said Haggerston ward Cllr Barry Buitekant.

“Neither were nearby Hackney residents, like myself, warned,” he added.

An Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) spokesman said decisions on any wider evacuation were a matter for the police.

“Our expert judged that that there was no risk to walkers on the rest of Leyton Marsh, or to residents,” he added.

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Cllr Buitekant also wants to know why a proper search wasn’t made of the site before work commenced: “Surely the ODA must have known that the nearby area in Hackney had several factories that contributed to the war effort and were therefore targets, and it’s a matter of public record that there are unexploded bombs in the area,” he said.

The ODA spokesman replied that construction sites are routinely scanned, particularly in areas like the East End which were heavily bombed during the Second World War, and a routine scan of the site in February had detected metal underground.

“Because of this, an ordnance expert was appointed to oversee the start of works,” he said.

“Police were immediately contacted after the device was discovered and it was later removed by specialist officers.

Development of the green field site has been a bone of contention to local residents since Waltham Forest Council gave it the go-ahead last month, and campaigners have mounted weekly protests there.