Blow for Wanstead campaigners fighting Olympics police base plan

An historic act protecting Epping Forest is a step closer to being lifted to allow a temporary police station to be built in Wanstead after MPs backed the move.

The Metropolitan Police want part of Wanstead Flats, which is protected under the Epping Forest Act 1878, to set up a “muster centre” to police the 2012 Olympic Games.

Wanstead and Leyton Labour MP John Cryer said he had concerns about the use of a station on the site and spoke against the order last week.

Speaking in the Commons he said: “The decision to build a police muster centre for the 2012 Olympics on a piece of much cherished and precious piece of common land is simply wrong and should not have gone through in the first place.”

The order has been approved by MPs, but campaigners lobbying against the police station say their battle goes on.

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Kevin Blowe, a member of Save Wanstead Flats, says the next planned step would be a judicial review.

“There are quite a lot of lawyers in the area who are taking this up to get a judicial review,” he said.

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A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Current proposals are for one to be located on a small part of Wanstead Flats to cover the area around the Olympic Park, Victoria Park and Stratford area.

“Temporary briefing centres of this kind are vital to our policing operation as it means we can brief all of the officers, including a large number on mutual aid from other forces at the same time, with one consistent message prior to deploying them.

“Unfortunately, there are no existing Met buildings in the right place and of the right size for this purpose.”

The Metropolitan Police will pay �170,000 in compensation for use of the area for six months to cover the 2012 Games.

But Mr Cryer said: “That is an absolutely pathetic amount of compensation, especially as far as local people are concerned.”

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