Community backing for Hammers Olympic stadium bid

AS decision day looms over West Ham United’s bid for the Olympic stadium, support is growing all over the community in Newham.

The Irons are battling with Tottenham Hotspur for the stadium with the decision expected soon.

And as it reaches its climax, a Newham Town Hall chief has outlined what he says will be the community benefits of the authority’s joint bid with the Hammers.

Chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry vows there will be guaranteed access to the stadium for residents, increasing sports participation through a legacy trust and blending elite, club, community and school sports.

He said: “Our bid has always been more than about football – we’re in it to gain the maximum benefit for not just our residents, but those across East London.”

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Newham Council has agreed a �40 million loan to the club should the Hammers win the bid.

Mr Bromley-Derry’s vision has been endorsed by English cricket legend Graham Gooch and local health chiefs.

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Leyton-born Gooch, a Hammers fan, has described the joint bid as a “natural fit”. He said: “It’s important that everyone benefits from the stadium. Newham’s approach will ensure that residents can share the experience of athletes competing in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Gooch’s club, Essex, has outlined plans to use the stadium for matches, as well as establishing a cricket academy in Newham.

He added: “East London has a rich history in generating top-class cricketers – as evidenced by Newham-born Ravi Bopara. We want that to continue, which is why we’re excited about getting more youngsters from the area into the sport and seeing them develop at county and possibly country level.”

Newham NHS chief executive Melanie Walker says the joint bid by West Ham United and Newham Council can “make a significant contribution to achieving better health and well-being in Newham”.

Schools in Newham will be able to hold their sports days at the stadium. A community athletics track will be open all year round and will help to increase sporting participation not just in Newham, but across East London.

Mr Bromley-Derry said: “Our involvement in this bid is to secure access to the stadium for residents of all ages.

“It will give youngsters a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will provide them with lasting inspirational memories that will stay with them forever.

“Increasing participation in sports as well as cementing community use is an important part of generating a meaningful legacy from the Games.”

The community track will allow Newham Athletics Network and Newham and Essex Beagles Running Club to move to the Olympic Park.

He added: “It’s important for people to remember that this is not just about football. Newham Council exists solely to benefit our residents and our bid represents a solution that has the community at its heart.”

Tottenham Hotspur plan to replace the Olympic Stadium with a football-only venue, but they have pledged to spend money improving Crystal Palace athletics stadium. Chairman Daniel Levy says the club’s bid offers the best deal for the taxpayer.

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