The Null Device

The cleansing of the houseboats

One thing which has been demonstrated over recent years is that, in any city chosen to host the Olympics, the blessing of the International Olympic Committee is invariably followed by sweeping restrictions on the rights and liberties of the "little people" who live there, at least as far as their activities might plausibly impinge on corporate sponsors' right to make a profit. Unsurprisingly, London is no exception, and the latest group to find themselves an inconvenience to the Olympic powers are the people who live on houseboats along London's canals, who will now be moved on under new regulations:
Under the new proposals, people using a continuous cruising licence would not be allowed to spend more than 61 days in a year in each of six designated neighbourhoods across 40 miles of canal network, and they would be forced to move to a different neighbourhood every 14 days.
The canal boat residents fear they will be forced from the river if the proposals go ahead as drafted. Alice Wellbeloved, a freelance fashion designer, who has lived on the Lea for almost five years with her partner and baby, said the plan meant it was no longer feasible to live the family life they had built together. "For us it would be disastrous," she said. "We have a 10-month-old baby, and these proposals mean we could not work or get the childcare we need. We cannot afford to buy a new house. We feel we are being uprooted from our community."
There is a page against the proposals here.

There are 2 comments on "The cleansing of the houseboats":

Posted by: Greg Thu Mar 10 11:56:12 2011

Questions to ask London's rulers: "Why do this? What purpose does it serve to clean social reality away from an area while the Olympics are on? Do host cities really think it fools outsiders about the standard of living there, particularly when the cleansing actions inevitably become international news stories? Don't you think tourists might actually want to see what life is really like in a city they visit?"

And this just seems ludicrous: "high demand for visitor moorings during the 2012 Olympics" - how many visitors to the Olympics are likely to travel there by canal?

Posted by: acb Thu Mar 10 17:13:23 2011

Regulatory capture. The Olympics started as a nonprofit public good, and are statutorily enshrined as such, but somewhere along the line, they were captured by corporate sponsors, who subsequently used them to expropriate land, get laws passed suspending inconvenient civil liberties, and get away with things that are usually hard to do in non-totalitarian countries.