NOGOE and its purpose
is a community action group which was formed in 2007 in order to campaign to get the 2012 Olympic equestrian events moved from Greenwich Park to a more suitable location. That battle has been lost and the evils that we warned against are now becoming all too clear. The peace of the Park has been disrupted and the public have been excluded from it; a great deal of damage has been, and will be, done to it; and a dangerous precedent has been set for future commercial exploitation of it. So we have evolved into a group which will:
Why we object to the Olympic equestrian events
We believe that the Park should be used primarily for the purpose set out in Section 2 of The Royal Parks Framework Document of 1993.a The Park should offer peaceful enjoyment, recreation, entertainment and delight to those who use it. And it should be enhanced, protected and preserved for the benefit of this and future generations. We also believe that the Park should remain open to the public all year round and that entrance to it should be free.
This does not mean that we are opposed to sporting events, or to events of other kinds, in the Park. All we ask is they are of an appropriate nature and scale. The Park regularly hosts such events and we welcome most of them. For example we welcome the fact that the Park has hosted the start of the London Marathon since its inception in 1981. The marathon genuinely promotes the idea of sport for all, it supports charities, and it causes little disruption to other Park users; it is over in a matter of hours and the preparations for it affect a comparatively small region of the Park for about a fortnight.
Nor does it mean that that we are opposed to the Olympics or to equestrian events.b We have no objection to the Park being used in an appropriate way for the Olympics. For example, we would have welcomed it being used for the start of the Olympic marathon, and we would welcome the Queen's Lawn being used as an informal "Olympic party" area where visitors from around the world could gather and enjoy television coverage of the Games in wonderful surroundings. We also have no objection to small-scale equestrian events. We would not, for example, object to part of the Park being used for a short period in order to demonstrate show jumping to local children.
But we do object to the Olympic equestrian events being held in the Park because we believe that it is not an appropriate venue for a full-scale cross-country event or for dressage and show jumping events on the Olympic scale. Our case can be put in the form of an argument. In order to state this simply, the detailed justification of factual claims is given in a series of accompanying notes. Here, then, is the argument.
Holding the Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park violates three important principles:
As the Olympic equestrian events could easily have been held elsewhere, there was no need to violate these principles.f So there was no justification for doing so. Consequently Greenwich Park should not have been used as the venue for the Olympic equestrian events.
- Public parks are an essential part of urban life. They, or substantial parts of them, should not be closed for prolonged periods. Greenwich Park is a heavily-used urban public park. Substantial parts of it have been and will be closed for prolonged periods, and great disturbance has and will be caused by the Olympic equestrian events.c
- World Heritage Sites are parts of national heritage which are of such outstanding interest that they should be treated as if they belong to the whole of mankind. Greenwich Park is an essential part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. So it should not be disrupted, disfigured, and partially or totally closed for a total of eleven months in order to stage a sporting event.d
- Cultural and natural heritage is irreplaceable. It should not be destroyed, damaged, or endangered. Greenwich Park is part of our national heritage. Holding the Olympic equestrian events in the Park has and will damage, destroy, and endanger this heritage.e
It was not even desirable, from an equestrian or an Olympic point of view, to hold the Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park.g Given this, it follows a fortiori that there is no justification for staging the events in the Park. It also follows that there is no justification for the disruption that the events will cause to hundreds of thousands of Londoners.h
A bad decision was made and it is being pursued to its mad conclusion, regardless of reason or recalcitrant experience. As a result a £60m Olympic windfall has been squandered on a disastrous and counterproductive public-relations stunt, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners will be unnecessarily disrupted, normal Park life has been and will be seriously disturbed for prolonged periods, a World Heritage Site has been and will be abused, and the only legacy will be a trail of destruction across a treasured landscape. It is scandalous that this was allowed to happen.
NOGOE's campaign involved extensive research and copious letter writing; to all of the authorities involved, either directly or indirectly. We organised a petition which was signed by 13,500 people. We gave dozens of media interviews: to the local media; to the BBC; to major television channels from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and the US; and to news and sports networks with national and worldwide reach such as Al Jazeera and Eurosport. We used the social media; such as twitter, flickr, and Facebook. We commented in public forums, both actual and virtual, whenever the opportunity arose.
We also mounted a three-day protest during the Olympic Test Event in July 2011. In short, we did everything that we possibly could do, within the law and our limited means, to attempt to convince those in power to move the Olympic equestrian events to a more suitable venue. Unfortunately, despite our zeal and the cogency of our case, we failed to do so.
LOCOG's occupation of the Park is approaching its zenith and many of the evils that we predicted are now happening; indeed, in many ways what is happening is a lot worse than we predicted.
The threats to the Park remain, so our campaign goes on. We will seek to ensure that LOCOG reinstate the Park properly, as promised, and that it cannot be exploited for private gain in future.
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: 07932 469158 or 07522 531148 (text only)
Media enquiries only:
- Telephone: 020 8858 2253 or 07941 427212