LEYTON: Co-organiser of 'disastrous' Olympics market resigns (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Gary Ince has resigned as the chief executive of North London Business after the 'apparent failure' of an Olympic Games food market.
THE head of a business group which helped organise a "disastrous" Olympic food market has resigned.
North London Business (NLB) says its chief executive Gary Ince has stepped down as a consequence of the "apparent failure" of the project.
The council created the temporary 'Olympia Market' in Marshall Road, near the Leyton Asda car park, in the expectation that thousands of visitors travelling to the Games from Leyton Tube station would walk past.
It contracted NLB, an agency designed to encourage investment in Waltham Forest, and private firm Skateco UK Ltd to manage it, but traders have been left tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket after hardly anyone turned up.
Council leaflets welcoming visitors to the borough included maps advising pedestrians to walk a different route through Leyton to the Olympic Park, bypassing the market altogether.
Stallholders, who were sold the pitches at prices of up to £16,200 for 45 days, are now plotting legal action against the council and its contractors.
In a statement, NLB said: "As you would expect from an honourable, not for profit company, the NLB board are looking into making sure that NLB does all it can to support the stallholders and are continuing to investigate the situation including consulting with interested parties.
"However the board of NLB recognises the disappointment arising from the apparent failure of this project and has, as a consequence, accepted the resignation of Gary Ince."
Some have raised concerns that Mr Ince is also involved in Skateco, but council barrister Daniel Fenwick said in an email: "His alleged 'dual position' is a matter for North London Business, not the council.
"The council had no reason to know about this issue during the tendering process and recent checks with Companies House show that Mr Ince is Skateco’s Company Secretary only - all the shares are held by the company’s sole Director, Brian Jokat".
Earlier today Mr Jokat launched an attack on the council for "letting down" his firm and traders.
He said: "The council had told us and other local businesses that in excess of 30,000 people could realistically be expected on some Games days.
"We were told that there would be a regular flow of visitors to the Olympic Park from nearby Leyton Underground station and that people would be drawn to the market by local signage and council-produced leaflets.
“All of this would have generated significant passing trade for the market and its stalls but, sadly, none of it has been delivered in reality."
Meanwhile an online petition calling on the council and NLB to refund traders has attracted more than 1,400 signatures.
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