Small firms in Hackney Wick can’t compete with “bottomless pockets and blank cheque books” of Olympic chiefs

Scores of small businesses in Hackney Wick who fear their businesses could fold because during the Games have withdrawn their legal challenge to Olympic chiefs because they cannot compete with their “bottomless pockets and blank cheque books”.

Test cases should have been launched at the High Court on Monday over the planned road closures and security restrictions which the businesses sited on the Olympic fringe claim will put hundreds of jobs at risk.

About 50 businesses employing hundreds of people are affected and range from transport firms to printers, cafes, garages and retailers.

Solicitor John Halford from legal firm Bindmans, told Mr Justice Singh the case was being “withdrawn,in total” on the basis that no order was made for legal costs.

The judge approved the settlement.

Outside court, Mr Halford said the businesses “are basically going to have to struggle for survival” and one company, Business Solutions, had already shut down.

All are just outside a compulsory purchase zone, inside which 193 affected companies were given compensation and new premises.

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Mr Halford said the case could not proceed because of time pressures and because the businessmen, who do not qualify for legal aid, could not compete with the financial clout of the Olympics organisers and Transport for London (TfL).

Te ODA had hired a team of several City lawyers to defend the road closures and restrictions, he said.

There had been discussions between both sides “but not much meeting of minds”.

An ODA spokesman said they welcomed the fact the case was dropped.

“Now we can focus on our operational responsibilities during Games-time,” he said.

“We have been clear from the start that engagement with businesses has gone far beyond our statutory obligations.”

“Advice and assistance, as well as online tools, remain available to businesses to help them plan for the Games.

“As you’d expect we will constantly review and monitor our arrangements to ensure that everyone can get to their destinations safely and on time this summer.”

Just a week before the Games begin however, transport arrangements in the area are not going smoothly.

Two weeks ago a towpath used heavily by pedestrians and cyclists and billed as an Olympic route network, from Homerton to the Olympic stadium, was suddenly fenced off.

Many commuters left in the lurch now face a long detour along busy and notoriously dangerous roads.

It emerged this week Hackney Wick station will be closed westbound during the Games.

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