River row over Olympic security fears

Opponents say Met going too far with plans to close River Lea.

PLANS to close a three-mile stretch of the River Lea during the Olympics because of terrorism fears have been described as “overkill” by residents in Hackney Wick.

The move by the Met would mean scrapping plans to use the river to transport visitors to the Olympic Park, as well as closure of the canal towpath.

Sona Abantu-Choudhury, spokesman for the Leabank Square Residents’ Association, said: “This is unnecessary and overkill.

“We already have electric fencing and CCTV on the towpath.

“We have just lost the Olympic Marathon and now we are losing another beautiful part of the East End that is used by dogs walkers, ramblers, cyclists and gardeners.”

Mr Abantu-Choudhury said that Leabank residents, who use the towpath to grow fruit and vegetables, would write to their councillors and government ministers to express their opposition to the plans.

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The move was also criticised by British Waterways’ Head of Regeneration Richard Rutter during a London Assembly meeting, which discussed London 2012 transport plans,

Mr Rutter argued that the river could be policed during the Games to ensure that it posed no security threat.

A police spokesman confirmed that talks were being held with the Home Office over regulation of the canal due to its proximity to the Olympic Park, but that no decision had yet been made on whether to close the river and towpath.