Oympics megaphone diplomacy in Dalston

TWO MEN with megaphones have been inadvertently amusing some users of Dalston Kingsland and other overground stations around the Olympic Park.

One of them told Loving Dalston he was there to control the crowds going to the Olympics. It was midday and about 30 people were waiting on his side of the lines, a similar number on the other, where his colleague stood, megaphone at the ready.

“Well, yes, it’s true,” he said, “the numbers have been less than expected.”

Then why not tell the boss so you can go back to your usual work at..?

Liverpool Street,” he volunteered. “Well, the truth is, I’d rather be here, standing on the platform. It’s easier.”

But the cost, two men hanging about for eight hours, is that fair on the taxpayer?

“The taxpayer?”

“Yes, you and me.”

“Oh, that’s not my problem.”

"Olympics crowd"-controller at Dalston Kingsland station 080812
Crowd control at DK

The final reckoning for the 2012 Olympics could be £24 billion — 10 times the 2005 estimate that helped London to win the Games.

It is likely, however, that the public will never know the true addition to its tax bill: one Olympic legacy is likely to be less openness in society.

For example, when Loving Dalston was about to take the picture above, a station official rushed across the foyer to say that photography was forbidden. A rejoinder that the location was by any definition a public place did not impress the anxious official. Security, Olympics and terrorism  were mentioned.

A similar swift action by an official happened in another public building in an adjoining borough the same day.

The right to take photographs in public is fundamental in this country. After several court cases within the last five years, police commanders have had to confirm that right to their forces.

These two examples of restriction are minor ones. They have been reported here to indicate the severity of a clampdown that seems to have been ordered from high up. Once democratic rights are infringed, they are difficult to re-establish.

Transport for London has not responded to a request to comment.

* Emboldened words in Loving Dalston articles are hyplerlinked so readers can see background or get further information should they wish.

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14 thoughts on “Oympics megaphone diplomacy in Dalston

  1. I spotted the bored-looking megaphone men, too, and I’m glad you observed them, with such wit.

    What I’d like to refer, on the off-topic issue, to Marc’s comment “When there was no major night-time economy on the high street, Kingsland High Road was a place of fear. Fear because there were few people walking there at night, and it was a regular haunt for muggers. Fifteen years ago my sister and several friends were mugged in that street”.

    I’ve lived in Dalston for over 30 years, have never been mugged and have yet to encounter Kingsland High Road. It sounds quite posh; where is it?  If Marc meant Kingsland High Street, it’s been a hive of Afro-Caribbean and other parts of the night-time economy all the time I’ve been here. About 25 years ago there was a thriving gay economy in Dalston, too, although that disappeared after a few years, as quickly as it had arrived.

    The residential side streets of Kingsland High Street can get noisy between 3.30 and 4.30 in a morning, particularly at weekends, as high-spirited young people leave the bars and clubs.  Whether they are drunk or not, I don’t know.  But they often respond positively to a “Shhhh! please”, even apologising at times.

    Likewise, the hipsters that hang out in the area often block the pavements.  But ask them to clear a space and — far from being aggressive or surly — these hipsters apologise, make way and smile.

    But let’s not forget, toddlers block hallways with their toys, teenage boys block shop doorways with their BMXs, hipsters block pavements with their fixies, mums block shop aisles with their buggies, grandmas block bus aisles with their shopping trollies, businesspeople block roads with their BMWs, builders block entire neighbourhoods with their waste and delivery drivers block junctions with their heavy goods vehicles.

    Few people are without blemish. What’s important is how we respond when we realise the consequences of our actions.

    I’d like to see a more active role being played by the local bar and club owners, eg, by providing more prominent signage asking patrons leave their premises to recognise this is also a residential area. Sadly, publicans rarely take the initiative and often have to face threats of losing their licence before they do anything constructive.

  2. “Go back to where you come from”, “pavement hazard”…. how nice and welcoming this neighbourhood is. Truly welcoming.

    It is clear from reading various blogs (and particularly the comments) that Dalston must have been a paradise in the 1970s and 1980s. I am so very sorry I was not yet born then, and I apologise for destroying the community.

    I thought Dalston had become rather nice, but clearly it hasn’t. I do, however, hope that I am allowed to stay. Please sir, madam, I’ll do my best.

  3. Marc, I would like to point out that I have lived in Hackney all my life and I have never been mugged. Dalston may have been emptier in the night but I was never in fear. As for the so-called hipsters, sheep people and other such morons, they are a nuisance and pavement hazard.

  4. What, young people going out to bars and drinking alcohol? Outrageous!

    Kebab houses in Dalston… now that is something you would never have seen five years ago! Maybe they took over the squats and crack dens? Litter on the streets in Dalston/Hackney… and it used to be such a clean and tidy place.

    Seriously, Herbert, the suburbs are waiting for you.

    1. My, Bob, you are a wit!

      Nothing wrong with young people going out to bars and drinking alcohol. Except when they are out of their brains, staggering around oblivious to how much nuisance they are making at 4 in the morning, urinating in public, leaving glass waste, slamming car doors, waking up residents and leaving their stuff all over the place, making pavements impassable for pedestrians, and being obnoxious little creeps.

      Bob, these “hipsters” should go back to the suburbs where they came from; out there in the Styx the young get wasted because there’s nothing else to do. There’s lots to do here. Getting wasted isn’t cool.

      1. Yes, back in the good old days when there were different clubs and bars on road we could look forward to stabbings, muggings and murders.

        1. The fact is that the council’s recklessly re-zoning Dalston as a night-time economy area resulted in attracting hundreds of young people to drink here and to be the worse for alcohol use and out on the streets in the early hours. It’s not a great leap to suggest that nuisance and litter have increased as a result. That’s the experience of residents who have had to cope with the disruption.

          Since you’ve taken the moral high ground with your “actual figures”, you should read this as a token of the belated, fragmented and indifferent response of the council: http://mginternet.hackney.gov.uk/documents/s21919/Appendix%202%20-%20Night%20Economy%20Monitor.pdf which includes the statement that “Crime reported between 8pm and 8am has seen a steady rise since 2008”.

          I try to avoid a my-sources-trump-yours show and look what happens. To think, the story that started was this about expenditure on Olympics-period travel. — Ed

          1. Herbert, the document you refer to concludes on litter that there is no difference between the night-time economy and the day economy. So your evidence proves you wrong.

            Walking down my residential road on Sunday, I noticed there was waste from fast food shops (specifically McDonald’s) and Argos. During the week we have litter from the shops on the high street and Ridley road. Should they be leaving the area, or should the council be solving the problem with better compliance from the retailers?

            When there was no major night-time economy on the high street, Kinglsand High Road was a place of fear. Fear because there were few people walking there at night, and it was a regular haunt for muggers. Fifteen years ago my sister and several friends were mugged in that street.

            People feel safer there now because there are others around at night. In addition there were two clubs that have closed or changed profile. They were the scenes of one or two murders a year and regular stabbings.

            I used to walk up my street to he high road on Sunday and about once a month we would be diverted by police tape and scenes-of-crime officers at work. Gun crime was a regular feature.

            The hub for drug crime in Dalston is Ridley Road. http://content.met.police.uk/News/Fifteen-men-are-sentenced-to-a-total-of-48-years-in-prison/1400004961038/1257246745756 Will you be campaigning for this to be closed? The new night-time bars inevitably bring some problems. But they tend not to involve the murders, stabbings and muggings of that other time.

  5. Yet another negative posting about Dalston. Why do you even live here?

    This site is so depressing that it is like reading the Daily Mail.

    If you are not attacking low-paid railway workers you are once again attacking the residents of Dalston Square. Then, because people post replies that you do not agree with, you ban further discussion.

    Please, on behalf of all Dalston residents, keep your negative and xenophobic opinions to yourself.

    It seems you preferred Dalston when it was a crime-ridden dump. Fortunately, those days are now gone. Maybe it is time for you to find another area of london to live in, as you do not seem to like what Dalston has become over the past few years.

    The Dalston Kingsland story was about a staff deployment that turned out to be mis-deployment and could be easily solved by the bosses. The Dalston Square correspondence had run its course. I have never criticised the residents of Dalston Square. My admiration for the entrepreneurial young and not-so-young who have so improved the borough is abundantly clear, as is my loathing of xenophobia. — Ed.

    1. Not in my name, Bob. Thanks to the council’s degeneration policy, which has encouraged the foolish to come to Dalston to get hammered and to have a kebab in the early hours: crime is up, nuisance is up, litter is up and up yours.

      1. Crime up? Check the figures. You may not like hipsters, but they didn’t move here to rob people.

        Streets dirtier? Clearly you didn’t live here 15 years ago, when the place was swimming with litter 24/7.

        Hackney council has its faults, but it has at least managed to find a way to clean the streets.

        1. I’ve lived here a lot longer than 15 years.

          Crime is up; you check the figures. How could it not be when the streets are full of “hipsters” too drunk to notice they are the victims of crime?

          Litter is also up; “unsustainably” so. Cleansing services are flat out cleaning up the mess. Have they cleaned the booze-up from your front door?

          I’m not sure we should place too much reliance on the various claims about crime and litter rates so I suggest that in this exchange none of us gets to throwing reports and statistics at one another. I think we can agree that crime and litter are problems in Hackney — I suggest any further discussion continues from there. — Ed.

          1. Here are the actual figures. You are wrong.



            I gently suggested that we do not throw stats and reports at one another. So much for my authority, eh?. The point is, as The Guardian commentator Simon Jenkins occasionally notes, claims of crime being lowered, or raised, should be treated with caution. It is, for example, sometimes in the interests of police to suggest that staff reductions have resulted in crime increases. So let us avoid this area. — Ed.

          2. Editor, How can we have any discussion without some kind of evidence? These statistics are not “bandied about”, they are what underpin any rational debate. And until someone can come up with another credible authority that contradicts the statistical analysis, or can disprove them via material evidence, it is all we have to go on.

            In any case the British Crime Survey figures include crimes which are not reported to the police. Some people with political or personal agendas don’t like the young middle-class people who have embraced this area in the last decade. But to try to implicate them in a crime wave is absurd and factually incorrect.

            Ridley Road has been a source of crime for years, but as that must be held up as a noble, grass-roots enterprise, nobody is suggesting that it moves elsewhere.

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