WALTHAMSTOW: Police criticise Olympic campsite plan (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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WALTHAMSTOW: Police criticise Olympic campsite plan
PLANS for a festival-style campsite on a playing field during the Olympics have been thrown into doubt after police said they were "very concerned" about public safety.
The Big Events Company (BEC) want to run a campsite, bar and live entertainment at Low Hall Sports Ground in Walthamstow between July 21 and August 16, but has attracted criticism from neighbours concerned about disruption.
Companies Wicked Campers and Sunday Events, which are major shareholders in BEC, organise events renowned for alcohol consumption and raunchy entertainment, but insists the site will be "family-friendly" and benefit residents.
Waltham Forest Council has already signed a deal with the firm and is pinning its hopes on making enough profit from the contract to help fund its 'Big 6' series of events to celebrate the Olympics, which could end up costing more than £1.5 million.
However the campsite is yet to secure a licence to sell alcohol, something which will be decided at a council hearing next Tuesday evening (April 17).
And council documents for the meeting reveal Waltham Forest Police have major concerns about crowd control, traffic management and evacuation plans for the site.
BEC wants to sell booze from 11am until 11pm every day, but police want 9.30pm to be the limit.
Officers say the firm has agreed to reduce the maximum attendance numbers to 8,000, although this is listed as 9,998 in the council papers.
Organisers say these numbers are for special events only and the normal capacity will be 4,000 on most nights.
In a letter to the licensing committee, borough commander Steve Wisbey said BEC's bid was lacking in detail and contingency planning.
He said: "As it currently stands, with the limited detail we have we are very concerned [about] the evacuation and incident management of the site as well as public safety concerning crowd and traffic management."
Commander Wisbey called for guarantees that metal detectors and CCTV would be installed on the site. As there are no plans for parking at the site he said organisers would also need to be responsible for routes taken by campers to access the site.
He added that the plans would also need to be reviewed by a security advisor from Scotland Yard due to its proximity to the Olympic Park.
A total of 17 residents have also objected to the plan over similar concerns about crime, safety and disruption.
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