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Mayor's park pledge blasted as pathetic'

PUBLISHED: 15:13 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:24 25 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS have scorned Boris Johnson s pathetic reassurance of the use of a Royal Park for the Olympic Games, writes Jules Cooper.

CAMPAIGNERS have scorned Boris Johnson's 'pathetic' reassurance of the use of a Royal Park for the Olympic Games, writes Jules Cooper.

The Mayor of London wrote to Conservatives on Monday to say he was 'personally determined' to avoid lengthy closures of Greenwich Park in 2012.

The 176-acre park is set to be partially closed in 2011 and 2012 to prepare for the Olympic show jumping, dressage and cross country race.

But Michael Goldman, chair of No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events (NOGOE), said Mr Johnson was merely 'towing the Olympic line'.

The 79-year-old added: "It is no reassurance at all. Olympic organisers have been telling us all along that damage will be kept to a minimum.

"But of course they will, they're not vandals, but there will still be damage.

"Nothing that Boris Johnson says is new. It's just another pathetic attempt at reassurance over a fundamentally flawed decision to have a horse riding event in a small park."

Residents opposing the events fear damage to the park's ancient grounds and woodland as well as lengthy closures of different sections.

Yet despite triggering debates last summer in the Westcombe, Blackheath and Greenwich societies and The Friends of Greenwich Park, no alliance between the groups was forged.

NOGOE created a dossier of evidence against the use of Greenwich Park this month, while equestrienne Zara Phillips asked why the events should be held in a park "where people walk their dogs".

Mr Goldman added: "No planning permission has been granted yet - there are still three years to change the venue.

"I doubt any sensible Conservative will be reassured by Boris Johnson's words."

Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher, who wrote to Mr Johnson, said: "We understand that fine words must be matched by fine actions. We will continue to lobby Boris."

A consultation on the Olympic Road Network closed last Thursday.

Greenwich council await a planning application for the Greenwich Park events from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

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