ArcelorMittal Orbit

June 18th***

Thank you for inviting us, and your kind words regarding the community. I might not have mentioned it to you, but I am not really a great lover of art. That said, if the Orbit can enrich/enhance the lives of the local community it would definitely get my vote. The difficulty comes in how that enhancing or enrichment is defined Boris said to me that he hopes that it would serve as a magnet for East London, that would indirectly fuel prosperity. This seemed to be the kind of tenuous link other supporters of the Orbit Tower seemed to give me, at your launch party.

I just wonder if the reason why this project had to get almost all the money from Mr Mittal is because no real, tangible or practical benefits could be found to justify money from the public purse. Whilst I was there a lot of people were commenting on the spectacular views, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing from the picturesque landscape, with prominent landmarks. It was the Council deprived Carpenters Estate, my home for eight years, and home to many others for nearly half a century. It had been cleverly concealed by a massive concave mirror, like the type you’d find at a fair ground.

I imagine Mr Kapoor thought it might spoil the otherwise flawless vistas, or make the spectators in the Orbit wonder why they  paid £15 to go 120 metres up a metal tower to look at three council tower blocks(only metres away) which are considerably taller, and free to ascend.

I look forward to hearing from you, on your ideas of how the ArcelorMittal company will help the local community benefit from the Orbit Tower.

– Joe


*** June 19th: Response from AM Media Relations Specialist 

Thanks for your email.

Of course it is difficult to predict the impact the Orbit will have in East London and the communities around it, given that it does not open until Spring 2014, but I am confident that the people in charge of it, London Legacy Development Corporation and Balfour Beatty Workplace, will do their best to ensure the impact is positive.

I disagree with your comment about the mirrors being designed to block the views, in fact you get a very clear view of the Estate on the outdoor walkway which everyone will use.

I also think it was very smart of Boris to find private funding for the Orbit. It means that as soon as the Orbit is operational it can start to make profits that will be fed back into the Legacy plans, rather than having to spend years paying off the investment. Essentially East London has gotten a £22 million visitor attraction for £3 million – which is not a bad deal. At the very minimum it means 50 jobs for local residents and I think that is a start in the right direction.

I’ve also spoken to my contacts at the LLDC about your concerns of transparency and they have informed me that LLDC will take over the running of the residential meetings from September. These are currently run by LOCOG/met police and ODA before them. Under the current format they act as quarterly drop-in sessions rather than formal organised meetings. LLDC always attend and have an agenda item. I am not sure if you attend these meetings but the next one takes place on July 5th.

Moving forward, I am told that the LLDC will continue to run quarterly residents meetings and they are currently reviewing how to ensure that they have a sufficient reach and how they can establish a more meaningful 2-way communication flow.

LLDC have also taken over the Olympic Park Engagement Network (OPEN) from LOCOG and they ran their first event in March. This is a group of over 50 invited local residents, businesses and voluntary sector representatives from across the four host boroughs and includes 8 members of the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation…:

Members of the network will receive information from LLDC at the bi-annual meetings, but also through e-circulars, such as press releases, newsletters, bulletins etc. Members will be invited to use their local knowledge and experience to provide constructive feedback and challenge to LLDC proposals as well as being encouraged to share information through their own networks.

They are in the process of setting the date for the next OPEN event, likely to be early October.