Hackney Council under fire for buying YET more Olympic tickets

Hackney Council has come under fire for not getting its priorities straight, after making the “shocking” decision to purchase yet more Olympic tickets despite approving �47 million budget cuts this year.

This brings the grand total spent on the sought after seats to �46,000, including the �26,570 they decided to spend on 200 tickets earlier this year.

While at least 13 of London’s 33 councils rejected an offer in March from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) to buy 100 tickets - fearing a backlash from taxpayers - Hackney Council secured more tickets than any other London borough.

Last month LOGOC offered another 100 tickets to the six Olympic host boroughs which had brought up all their original allocation, and Hackney announced this week they would plough ahead and buy them at a cost of �13,510, along with 200 Paralympics tickets at �5,920

Robert Oxley, campaign manager for lobbying group, the TaxPayers’ Alliance said it was “shocking” the council found it acceptable to spend taxpayers’ money on Olympic tickets at a time when they should be making necessary savings.

“It’s particularly galling that this is the second time Hackney has been caught using taxpayers’ money to buy tickets many local taxpayers couldn’t afford themselves, the purchase was a waste then and it’s a waste now,” he said.

Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe argued the move would give 500 residents, who may not otherwise have had the opportunity, access to events at the Olympic Park.

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“This will include young Hackney people who have done well at sport - the very kind of people who should have the chance to go,” he said.

But Dalston resident and London organiser of campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs, Suzanne Beishon, said rather than on a one-off event, the council should rather follow Southwark Council’s example and the money should go towards providing potential university students with the Educational Maintenance Allowance cut by the government.

“Hackney was one of the first places where the riots took place,” she said.

“There are a lot of angry frustrated young people in the borough, their future is being torn away from them, youth unemployment is sky high, and cuts to EMA mean many of them won’t be able to go to university any more.”

“For the council to spend that much money while they’re making savage cuts to youth services and youth workers is crazy,” she added.

GLA member and Hackney resident Andrew Boff said people needed to decide whether the council had got the balance right.

“�50,000 could buy 2,500 hours of sports coaching or sessional youth work,” he said.