OPPONENTS of plans to build a temporary Olympic police base on Wanstead Flats held a protest picnic to celebrate the end of two years of campaigning.

Around 60 people from Wanstead, Leytonstone and Forest Gate attended Sunday's 'People's Picnic' to demonstrate exactly what they felt the open grassland should be used for.

Although the group were unsuccessful in their attempts to prevent the building of the police base, spokesman Kevin Blowe felt the campaign had made the Corperation of London and the Metropolitan Police Service think twice about ploughing through with ideas without prior consultation with local people.

He added: "The picnic was about bringing people together and having some food. It was fun and a really nice, relaxed atmosphere.

"Our next step is to monitor the use of the site and the transport problems which are likely to occur. A bus full of police is due to leave the site every 15 minutes to the Olympics, which is sure to cause problems for local residents.

"There is an assumption that people are too apathetic to get anything done. We have proved that Wanstead Flats is really valued by people who live in the area and the links made between everyone who campaigned are very strong."

Building of the police base is due to start no earlier than June 23 and a further picnic is planned by Save Wanstead Flats at the end of the Paralympics to celebrate the return of the flats to their original use.

The base will cover an eight-acre site and be surrounded by an 11-foot high fence.

Mr Blowe added the precedent set by the police base is likely to have long-term damaging effects for Wanstead Flats and said the battle to save the flats was far from over.

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