The following article was written by Reporter Ramzy Alwakeel on Wednesday 18th April 2012. You can view the original article here: www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/home
Havering Council has been forced to backtrack from its announcement that up to 1,200 Dutch sports fans would be camping on Westlands Playing Fields during the Games.
MP Jon Cruddas with the residents' petition opposing the use of Westlands Playing Fields for the campsite
Cllr Robert Benham, cabinet member for community empowerment, originally made the announcement during an ‘Ask the Cabinet' meeting earlier this year, describing the campsite as a "great opportunity" for Romford and its local businesses.
"We haven't got any host sports," he said in February, "so we're making the best of a bad deal. [...] We've got up to 1,200 Dutch coming to stay with us and spending money in the town centre and local shops."
But a council spokesman this week confirmed just 533 pitch nights had been sold for the controversial Olympic campsite – less than five per cent of the site's capacity over the 30 days.
And the club that will be operating the site has confirmed it won't be specifically for Dutch fans after all.
Jon Dale, PR Manager at the Camping and Caravanning Club, said: "Our 2012 event campsites are open to all domestic and international campers and we look forward to welcoming them to our Romford campsite this summer." Mr Dale said he expected bookings to increase "significantly" in the run-up to the games.
Cllr Benham said his statement at February's meeting was based on talks with local business owners about the level of interest they had received from potential guests.
He added: "Whether it is for camping accommodation or in our hotels or guest houses, people from Holland and other nations are looking for accommodation in Havering and this will give a huge boost to our local economy."
Jon Cruddas, the Dagenham and Rainham MP who handed the council a 400-strong petition against the site last month, said the proposals had been "ill-thought-out from the beginning".