Claims Olympic chiefs played “Russian Roulette” with Hackney businesses during Games

A Hackney businessman based on the fringes of the Olympic Park has accused 2012 bosses of playing Russian Roulette with his business, after it emerged “relatively unscathed” in spite of Games-time traffic restrictions.

Michael Spinks, director of Essex Flour and Grain in Lea Conservancy Road begged LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) for months before the Games began in July to give him solid answers about the transport and security measures planned for the Olympics.

He wanted to plan how to operate his family’s food distribution business, which lies just 40m from the boundary of the International Press and Media Centre, and is dependent on the roads.

But other than the fact that the A12 southbound was reduced to one lane from mid-July to September 11 and the southbound and northbound slip roads at the Lea Interchange would be closed from 6am to midnight, Mr Spinks was met with a wall of silence.

LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) said it is confident his business can operate at Games time, and has denied relocation is necessary.

Mr Spinks wanted LOCOG to pay to relocate his business, but they deemed relocation unnecessary, and said it was confident it would operate smoothly during Games time.

Mr Spinks is relieved his worst fears that his business could fold did not come true - however says this is not thanks to LOCOG.

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“They made us play Russian roulette with our business, because we survived should I feel grateful?” he said.

“It was a massive relief, it was a fantastic Olympic games, but the problems local businesses were put under need not have been the case.

“LOCOG still in my opinion still have some questions to answer, not least for their arrogance and thinking the only thing that mattered was their Olympic Games.

Mr Spinks believes it was down to people following the Mayor’s request to evacuate London that he was able to operate and nothing to do with LOCOG’s transport plan, which he ignored.

Instead of travelling down Lea Bridge Road as they recommended, his lorry drivers took the A12 further than Hackney but turned back at the Old Ford exit.

A London 2012 spokesperson said: “We worked with all our stakeholders to put detailed plans in place to ensure residents and businesses near to our main sites were fully aware of the temporary changes required for the efficient and safe running of the 2012 Games.”