MP warns Hammers boss over stadium plans

Olympic stadium artist's impression
A computer generated image of the proposed Olympic Stadium. (c) London 2012.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady has been handed a stark warning by Hackney MP Meg Hillier – fail to deliver on your promises and you’ll have me to deal with.

Discussing the Government’s recent decision to approve a deal that will see the Premier League club move into the Olympic Stadium when the 2012 Games are over, Ms Hillier, who represents Hackney South and Shoreditch, warned that the local community must ensure West Ham sticks to its obligations.

“Karren Brady knows she’ll have me and Diane Abbott to deal with if there are no benefits for local kids. The crucial thing is to hold them to account.

Ms Hillier said the main reason she supported the West Ham bid was because it includes an extensive community programme and continues a long tradition of grass roots football in the borough.

“If you have a kid in a school in Hackney and somebody from a big football club visits, that has a real resonance with young people. The outreach work is particularly important.

“Hackney is home of Sunday league football, so it seems appropriate that we build on that amateur football enthusiasm by having a professional club that promises to carry out work in the community.”

West Ham’s promise to keep the running track won unanimous support from the Olympic Park Legacy Company’s board after rival bidders Tottenham Hotspur said they planned to tear the stadium down and move the athletics facilities to Crystal Palace.

Ms Hillier said: “I don’t think it would send a very good message to the public if the whole stadium got knocked down after it was built at vast expense.

“I was out on the Olympic site last week with MPs from the five Olympic boroughs, and we all agreed that you couldn’t find a single London MP who backed the Spurs move.”

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said the club was proud to have been entrusted with the responsibility to take over the Olympic Stadium, and reiterated its determination to make good on its legacy promises.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said West Ham’s bid would preserve the stadium for future generations to admire.

However, not everybody approves. The decision to award the stadium to West Ham was met with anger by Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn, who has threatened to take legal action.

But Ms Hillier maintains that West Ham is the right club to take over the Stratford site.

“Leyton Orient do good work in the community but they wouldn’t have managed to take on such a massive stadium,” she said.