Big Debate: Will West Ham United football club’s move to Olympic Stadium benefit people?

Aerial view of the Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London, showing the Olympic Stadium

Aerial view of the Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London, showing the Olympic Stadium - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

After the announcement that West Ham football club is leaving its Upton Park ground for the Olympic Stadium in Stratford —we ask whether the club’s move will benefit the people of Newham?

Fruit stallholder Neil Stockwell at Queen's Market, Upton Park.

Fruit stallholder Neil Stockwell at Queen's Market, Upton Park. - Credit: Archant

Here Neil Stockwell, who has had a fruit and veg stall at Queen’s Market in Green Street since the late 70s, puts his case while Newham Mayor Robin Wales sets out his arguments for how he thinks it will help the borough.

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales - Credit: Archant

Mr Stockwell, himself a West Ham football fan, is also chair of the campaign group Friends of Queen’s Market.

Neil Stockwell said: “They are regenerating one part of Newham at the expense of another. Stratford is getting all the investment and jobs while Upton Park is on its knees.

Stratford had the Olympics, got a new stadium, Westfield, a new train terminal, - even the old Stratford Centre has been done up which is marvellous.

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Robin Wales has always had a thorn in his side about Queen’s Market - ever since the developers which the council planed to lease the market to backed out and we persuaded the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to throw the plan out.

What Robin Wales has done for regenerating Stratford is fantastic. But why do they have to drag down an area further, which is already in financial meltdown anyway. If you are going to regenerate it has to be fair for everyone.

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“The council won’t even rethink putting car parking charges at the market back down to £1 an hour after doubling it to £2. Customers are now driving elsewhere such as to Beckton. We have lost half our trade since they increased parking charges.

Instead the council are throwing £40million at the multi-millionaires who own and run West Ham footfall club.

“All the people we speak to at the market are devastated that West Ham football club is leaving the area.

On a match day we get 20,000 people walking through Queen’s Market. Even if you just get five hundred people spending £1 —then that’s another £500 worth of trade.

All the pubs around the ground are really busy every fortnight when West Ham plays at home, plus for all the cup games you get.

Some pubs are going to loose 60 to 65 per cent of their trade.

You’ve got so many pubs around the ground such as the Victoria Tavern, Black Lion, Queen’s Pub inside the market, Boleyn Pub, Denmark Arms, The Central, Miller’s Well, Hammers, White Horse, and Abbey Arms.” —They are all going to suffer.”

Newham Mayor Robin Wales said: “Our deal ensures the Olympic Stadium will benefit Newham residents for generations to come.

Newham Council has borrowed £40m to secure a 35 per cent stake in what is already one of the world’s most iconic stadiums. That money will now help transform the stadium into a world class multi-use attraction.

It will be repaid from activities in and around the stadium – not only 99 years of West Ham United football games from 2016 but a wide variety of sports, concerts and other events.

Money borrowed in this way has to be used for capital expenditure that delivers a financial return

- it could not have been used to pay for day to day council services or fill the gap left by Government cuts.

The stadium will be the beating heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will attract millions of visitors from across the UK and abroad as a further boost for the area.

But our priority is, and always will be, to help improve the lives of Newham residents.

The deal ensures a majority of the new jobs in the stadium from now on will be filled by Newham residents. It will also include a new training and education centre to improve our local skill base.

Newham has exclusive stadium access for ten community days every year. Newham children will have the chance to cross the same finishing line as their sporting heroes. Local schools, sports clubs and community groups will also have year round access to the 400m community track.

We have secured the rights to millions of tickets to West Ham United matches from 2016 as well as tickets to sports and other entertainment events held in the stadium. We will reward local residents who put something back into our community.

The proposed sale of West Ham’s Upton Park site will also bring regeneration opportunities.

The deal not only makes financial sense, it will deliver huge community benefits for Newham people for generations to come.”

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