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East London's Olympic regeneration

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 02:08

July 26 - It's a year until the start of the 2012 London Olympics and one of Britain's most economically deprived areas prepares to act as the main gateway for Olympic Park visitors after billions of pounds worth of investment. Sonia Legg reports.

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It's a year until the start of the 2010 Olympics and one of Britain's most economically deprived areas prepares to act as the main gateway for Olympic Park visitors after billions of pounds worth of investment Builders put the finishing touches to what will be Europe's largest urban shopping centre. Westfield Stratford City is just one of the regeneration projects taking place in east London - the venue for the next Olympics. London's mayor Boris Johnson says the 2012 games have already transformed this part of the city. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LONDON MAYOR BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "The great thing is this would not have happened without the Olympics and we are going to get it in before the Olympics have even begun. This stuff is going to be opening in three months' time." This part of London was once known as "stinky Stratford" because of its polluting industrial works. When they closed it quickly became one of most economically-deprived parts of London. John Burton is the shopping centre's Director. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN BURTON, DIRECTOR OF WESTFIELD STRATFORD CITY, SAYING: "What you are seeing is the regeneration. I wouldn't say gentrification yet, but regeneration is part of that process to get people into jobs." Two billion pounds have been invested in the local economy, creating 10,000 permanent jobs - a fifth of which have been earmarked for locals. (SOUNDBITE) (English) APPRENTICE SHOP FITTER, DIMEARI COOKEY, SAYING: "There's a lot of jobs going here which which give you the opportunity to network and get to meet other shop fitters, so there's good prospects." (SOUNDBITE) (English) APPRENTICE SHOP FITTER, RYICE KEATING, SAYING: "I've been unemployed for about a year, so I've been looking around and that and I found this course. So it's nice to actually have some money coming in." But the five boroughs around the Olympic Park still share some of the lowest employment rates in Britain. And they haven't escaped the UK's tough austerity measures. Stratford's station may have had a 125 million pound facelift but the small traders who've operated in the area for decades are being moved a kilometre away to make the area look smarter. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEAN FOLEY, OWNER OF FLOWER AND FRUIT MARKETS WHICH ARE BEING REMOVED BECAUSE OF THE OLYMPICS, SAYING: "I feel like I have been proper shot in the foot. Not only just me, many locals, many business people around here, local businesses, small businesses." (SOUNDBITE) (English) GLEN BEVAN, DVD MARKET STALL HOLDER, SAYING: "It's proved a nightmare for us. Do you know what I mean. Seventeen years I've been here. Gut-wrenching to have to move up there 150 yards, for the sake of what? Four or five weeks games?" The Olympics have clearly brought many benefits to east London. But they come at a price some can't afford to pay. Sonia Legg, Reuters.

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East London's Olympic regeneration

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 02:08

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