The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has partnered with the local residents group in Hammersmith to fight cuts to the District Line tube service to Kensington Olympia.
The MyOlympia campaign is led by local resident and website editor Brendan McGrath and supported by MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter. AEO chief executive Austen Hawkins met with McGrath today to discuss how to work together to continue the fight.
According to a statement, both sides will collaborate to save the connection and agree any reduction in the service could have disastrous impact on residents and the business community.
MyOlympia campaigners have already set-up a public meeting with London Underground’s head of strategic planning Richard Parry at Olympia on 26 July to debate the proposed tube cuts. In addition, the two groups are planning to organise meetings with local and London-wide politicians to highlight the importance of the connection to both residents and business. A public protest and further local events are also on the cards.
As reported in EN in April, Transport for London (TfL) plans to cancel weekday District Line services to Kensington Olympia from December 2011. The decision is part of plans to improve other tube services across the District Line. The online public consultation period on the changes closed 15 July but has been criticised by the AEO and MyOlympia for its lack of visibility outside of London.
“As an industry we feel we have not been consulted - I only found out about the proposal via a personal contact,” Hawkins said. “Many of the AEO’s members are based outside of London but regularly use Olympia for shows. From what consultation there has been, it seems most has been done via local posters directing people to an obscure part of the TfL website where they can register their protest.
“This didn’t give members outside of West London the choice to offer their views on this issue, which is of vital importance to them.”
Last week, 20 of the exhibition industry’s heaviest hitters co-signed a letter with the AEO protesting the tube cuts and calling for a re-think. The group pointed out 73 per cent of the 1.1m visitors to Olympia each year use the District Line service to attend.
“Closing the District Line link to Olympia could kill the events business there, but away from my industry the closure of the line would have a real and detrimental effect on local residents, particular those with disabilities,” Hawkins continued.
“Brendan has been fighting the closure on behalf of local residents. He has done an amazing job raising this issue, and has set-up the excellent www.myolympia.org.uk, which really highlights the many negative effects of the potential closure as well as telling people what they can do to save the connection.
“It makes total sense for us to work side by side in saving the line.”
McGrath agreed the events industry is at the centre of the local economy around Olympia.
“If they decide that Olympia is no longer a viable venue for them, the knock-on effects to the local community would be devastating,” he said. “We have thousands of local people supporting the campaign, but they feel they are not being listened to. Hopefully working with the AEO should make our voice even louder.”
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