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18 October 2011

18 October 2011 – Will LOCOG tell us tomorrow if they have sold too many tickets to the 2012 equestrian events?

Although the area of Greenwich Park overall is 183 acres, much less than 183 acres is actually available to use during the Olympics, what with everything else that LOCOG has tried to squeeze into it: a 23,000-seat stadium,

stabling for 300 horses, training areas, horse ambulances, hospitality marquees, pantechnicons of the world’s media, tv rostrum cameras, portaloos for thousands of people,

access kept clear for emergency vehicles, etc, etc, and ensure a safety margin is kept clear of spectators along both sides of the cross-country track.

Earlier this month, LOCOG was saying that it was going to ask Greenwich Council if it could sell more tickets for the 2012 equestrian event (LOCOG says they have already sold 50,000). 

Reuters¬†reported that the maximum capacity for the cross-country event is 75,000. It isn’t.¬†

The maximimum number that Greenwich Park can safely accommodate at any one time is 17,500 … or maybe 24,999.

Or far, far fewer than that.

The Greenwich Council Licensing Committee meets tomorrow Wednesday evening 19 October 2011 to consider LOCOG’s Premises License Application (reference WK/2011/10519).

Among other things, we may learn what really is the maximum number of people that can safely be accommodated in Greenwich Park.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Greenwich Council placed the responsibility for calculating the safe capacity of the Park firmly on LOCOG.

What will it be? The spectrum of possibilities is crazy.

  • 2006: 17,500 or 19,999 (at the time of the only other entertainment licence)
  • 2011: 23,000 (LOCOG’s Travel Advice for Business Area: Greenwich)
  • 2011: 24,999 (according to the Westcombe Society which assumes that all normal exits will be open, which will not be the case in 2012)
  • 2011: 65,000 (LOCOG’s operating statement)
  • 2011: 690,000 (figure stated on LOCOG’s premises licensing application form) – incidentally, this is equivalent to the population of Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

Perhaps the last figure is meant to be 69,000 (65,000 members of the public and 4,000 staff etc) but that is still a terrifying figure,

when you remember that there will be only two exits – through three layers of security fencing, past jumps and stores and massive world media pantechnicons (with their fuel tanks).

Some Greenwich residents are already assessing the fire risk.

The Royal Parks licensing application of 2006 did not include alcohol. LOCOG’s application does.

Does LOCOG’s “crowd modelling” (if any) feature the idiot who, having been forced to arrive at 7.00am, has been drinking since 10.00am and then fancies a crafty fag behind the haybales …

in the tinder-dry Park (in the event that there is little rain during the weeks prior to the Olympics) with all LOCOG’s generators, fuel tanks, catering ovens, electrical cabling, combustible material – and full of 25,000 or 69,000 people who will then scramble to get out,

as the fire brigade tenders are trying to get in.

Once a fire starts, there may be only a few minutes – less than 10 – to evacuate everyone to safety;

and LOCOG is not going to be able to stage any fire drills beforehand with 50,000 real people to practise on.

The VIPs – royalty, diplomats, the IOC, IEF, BEF, friends of Boris and Seb – will be alright: the security services must save them, no matter what.

Who will be saved next, do you think – the competitors’ million-pound horses, or the punters and kitchen staff? Hmmmn.

Sally Elliott

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