Well, the meeting wasn't as bad as I had feared. Yes there were a couple of women knitting at the front, yes there were a couple of loud-mouthed bigots, and yes there was some unaritcutale epxreshun. However on the whole it was pretty good, with frankly an enormous turn-out, probably over 200 people.
There was unsurprisingly no representation from anybody involved in the actual proposal. Nobody from the Corporation of London (who by the sound of it have a lot to answer for already), nobody from the Met, nobody from any local councils, no MPs, and nobody from the Olympic Development Authority. Getting these people out to answer questions will be key. The fact that it has been very difficult to get any information out of any of them is worrying. It suggests underhand non-public dealings. It suggests a lack of appetite for consultation.
And I can see why that might be. For starters, the Police wish to use 8 acres. That is vast! In addition to building a massive briefing centre and a command centre, they also want a large car-park, and also stabling for 80 horses. 80!! Jesus H Christ, we could get Yellow Wagtails back! Where do I sign?! And last but not least they want to build an unspecified number of holding cells for irate local birders who get too close to the compound. Oh and they also want to rename the whole area Guantanamo Flats.
Several people had several good ideas as to how we might go about fighting this, and there is going to be a steering committee. I offered my services between bouts of dusting, we shall see if they take me up on it. There seemed to be a core of people who already knew each other, so it may stay with them, and I'm sure they're capable enough.
And talk about the modern age, a lady had already set up a Facebook Page for the campaign, rather melodramatically called "Protect Wanstead Flats and Epping Forest". Although I barely use Facebook, and whilst I would normally sneer at such things, I joined immediately. Sometimes these things take on a life of their own, and a public groundswell of opinion is expressed in the form of how many thousands of people joined an internet group, and it's just possible that the people that count may take note. Or not, who knows. You, the long-suffering readers of this blog, can join it too, and so can your friends. It doesn't matter if you've never been to Wanstead Flats in your life, you have read this blog and you know about it, and that is enough. Think to yourself if you would like to see Jonathan turfed off his local patch? Think how unhappy he would be, and how miserable, depressing and moth-oriented his blog might become. If you can't bear the thought of that happening, sign up here. It takes five seconds and then you need never look at it again. You will be a number, that's all.
So all in all not too bad. A fund-raising bucket was passed around, and pleasingly, as we left the hall, there was a man distributing Socialist Worker magazine. Thanks but no thanks, Comrade! On the way back home I went birding on Fairground Flats and saw nothing. Er I mean I saw loads of endangered birds and vast herds of Great Crested Newts grazing on the lush brown grass.