French gipsies spend holiday on Hackney green next to Olympic Park
Visit reveals council contingency plans for London 2012 Games
Thousands of tourists will teem into Hackney for the Olympics next year – but one family of holidaymakers were less welcome when they pitched up on a public park next to the 2012 site.
Council chiefs have revealed they are introducing special measures to avoid a repeat of this week’s events, which saw Mabley Green in Homerton temporarily turned into a campsite.
A convoy of 11 caravans, belonging to a family of French gipsies on a fortnight’s holiday, arrived on the green, next to the A12 flyover on Thursday.
The tourists said they had visited the historic town of Rochester and now fancied seeing Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the Olympic Park. They claimed the council had extended an entente cordiale and allowed them to stay for a week – although town hall bosses strongly denied this.
“We are very satisfied and would like to thank the council and police for their warm welcome,” said knife-grinder Ringo Gorgan, 40.
But they complained that local teenagers had tried to damage their cars.
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The caravans sparked concern among neighbours who feared weeks of disruption.
“It annoys me, it really does,” said Petra Jackson, 47, of Kingsmead Way.
However Chris King, co-chairman of the Mabley Green Users Group, said he was confident town hall bosses would find a solution.
Hackney Council began legal proceedings to evict the gipsies – and on Sunday they suddenly left.
But Johnnie Walker, chairman of Hackney and Leyton Football League, which uses pitches on the green, said he was concerned about the protection of parks as the Olympics approach.
“It could have been difficult to get them off and that could have caused a great deal of disruption,” he said.
A council spokeswoman said Hackney, along with other Olympic host boroughs, had contingency plans in place to prevent parks becoming caravan sites in the run-up to London 2012, adding: “Mabley Green is public open space that belongs to the people of Hackney and we will not tolerate this unauthorised use,” she said.