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Response to Joe Kuipers’ – blog about The Emperor’s New Clothes and the end of the Probation Trusts

Thanks, To Joe Kuiper that seems pretty comprehensive and very helpful.

http://joekuipers49.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-emperors-new-clothes-by-hans.html?view=classic

The Danny Kay, sung version of ‘The King’s new clothes’  remembered from my 50’s childhood along with Uncle Mac’s Saturday morning Children’s Favourite’s  radio programme focused on the boy’s reaction to the kings nakedness :-

Whereas in the version we’ve been given here the main point is that very last phrase “behind him a page held his imaginary mantle”  – There are various definitions of that word mantle – the one I take it to be is – a loose sleeveless cloak or shawl

I now can see that in Joe Kuipers’ version he has helpfully emboldened those last two sentences – did you – dear reader notice, or did you, like me miss it first time?

So explicitly – for some, stating the obvious – lets be sure we consider – whether that page with the imaginary mantle represents probation folk?  Are we sure we are NOT trying to act as if nothing much is really happening, in case by pointing out, the situation as we really see it, we immediately risk losing what we now have? Maybe, if we hang on, when the nakedness or incompleteness  of Transforming Rehabilitation is ultimately acknowledged – as surely it must be– we will be blamed by the king for not telling him what we knew all along to be true, with the consequence that ultimately we lose not only what we have now but our reputation for integrity as well?

I expect the potential conflict of interest concerning the inappropriateness, due to the need for the State’s Powers being separated, for staff from a state department as employees of the NPS are due to become, can be avoided by some clear statement in the documentation. Presumably something similar applies to the Crown Prosecution Service, whose employees are I believe civil servants. However, it must be made explicit that professional opinions expressed to courts and the parole board by probation officers and others are independent and protected from any direction(s) from the government (I would suggest perhaps also by managers – thereby respecting the profession(s) of probation officers and others).

My particular concern is how, there is to be any significant continuity of relationships as supervisees pass through the different stages of their ‘probation’ contact.

Ordinarily report writing and supervision for so called non high risk clientele seems likely to be going to involve two supervisory agencies and several practitioners. At times of crises and concern about changing levels of risk of causing harm or reoffending by supervisees, they are likely to be ’swapped’ between practitioners  from different agencies. Presumably supervisees initially assessed as high risk who become a lesser risk will also be ‘swapped’.

Crucial decisions about breach or recall recommendations seem as if they will often be made by people from different agencies. So, some front-line practitioners, having had no direct contact with a supervisee or his family and contacts, will be the person, charged with making the critical recommendations even though another practitioner from a different agency has had face to face responsibility for the supervision.

I cannot fathom how such swapping about will be likely to lead to a reduction in likelihood of reoffending or financial savings. Sophisticated extra administration arrangements will be needed and we know there is already great concern from practitioners about the current IT programmes used, yet now there will be additional requirements to transfer case information to and fro between different agencies’, at presumably increased costs, at least in the introductory stages. We also know that case management problems tend to be more likely to occur, when information is passed (or not passed) between agencies, yet now there will be significantly increased volumes of actual cases needing transfer, in addition to a need for good liaison and information exchanges between the public and commercial agencies involved.

It is irrelevant to write, as Michael Spurr does, “The Probation Budget is being protected, relative to other areas, broadly maintained at around £800m. This is necessary in order to extend services to the under 12 month group.”  Unless a budget for supervising the under 12 month sentenced prisoners is given we have no idea of the savings that are going to be needed, from the overall budget to continue the existing work.

I have read it is The Lord Chancellor’s intention, that under the new arrangements every,  under 12 month sentenced prisoner will have a pre-release meeting with a volunteer mentor,  at a prison near to their home, or the area to which he or she will be discharged. Advance arrangements are to be made, for the provision of accommodation for all prisoners likely to be homeless on release. Then on the day of release the mentor will travel again to the prison – presumably the release time will remain early morning, so very early starts or overnight stays will be required by the volunteer mentors.

To expect such work to be done within the current budget seems optimistic if not completely unrealistic. I note the recent joint inspectors report into Life Sentence prisoners, indicated one of the difficulties leading to insufficient visits by home probation officers was the cost of those visits. Yet we are now talking about visiting every short sentence prisoner and being at the gate when they are released – not only is it impractical, it is fanciful. This is all to be in place, nationally by April 2014 and the contracts to undertake the work have not even been advertised!

Were I a Probation Trust Board member, I think I might be relieved to know my services are to be dispensed with before this even begins!

Much of what I write about are not directly things that are the responsibility of anyone right now, but surely some folk in positions of responsibility can see the impracticality of all this and report accordingly to Mr Spurr.  I cannot imagine anyone who would want to risk their sanity by taking on responsibility to manage such huge change in so short a time, at a time when local administrative units are being merged with neighbouring ones and then split into two parts. I was employed at the time of the merger of the five greater London probation services into one, that was chaotic enough, and the local offices initially remained the same!

I had intended to comment about my understanding that Trusts are set to be dissolved in less than 12 months stipulated by Parliament – but I cannot discern, where parliament made such a stipulation. (I may well be wrong)  I understand that dissolution is at the behest of the secretary of state providing he gives parliament 40 days’ notice, in accordance with ‘the negative resolution procedure’, so perhaps allowing any longer is a courtesy.

Joe’ Kuiper’s suggestion that Probation Trusts remain as employers until a transfer is arranged for relevant staff to move to their CRC, seems eminently logical. Then the remaining staff can be transferred to the NPS, though whether it is feasible for all to be operating before the dissolution of parliament ahead of the expected general election on 7th May 2015, must be doubtful. However, should there be any delay, for any reason, there would be a fall-back position, of continuing under the present governance arrangements, at least until definite arrangements are actually in place, rather than just planned.

Andrew Hatton

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Time to Review Probation practice as well as Lawyers and Social Work

Originally written as a response to an article in the Daily Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10107504/Conservative-radicalism-cango-too-far.html#disqus_thread

Lawyers are getting great support in media but most of the public are completely ignorant of the reality of Probation work and how it’s whole base has been eaten away since 1990s particularly when Lord Howard destroyed it’s training at a stroke and left nothing in its place.

Now Sir Martin Narey is reviewing Social Work Training on behalf of Michael Gove – let us hope he goes back to the days when trainee Social Workers studied and undertook practical placements alongside Trainee Probation Officers to the benefit of both professions.

What the public don’t realise is that Social Workers have sufficiently more authority than Probation Officers because Social Workers (including those employed by a charity – NSPCC) have the power to initiate the removal from home of children, who have not been convicted of any crime. Social Workers also have the power to initiate the detention of Mentally Ill adults.

Probation officers only have the power to initiate the detention of people who are under their supervision who have already been convicted of a criminal offence.

Fortunately none of these have the power to determine anyone’s detention without either a judicial or ministerial decision apart from Mental Health Approved Social Workers when they obtain the agreement of a suitably qualified Medical Practitioner.

These are aspects of community life rarely examined in the media apart from when something goes wrong and then the focus is on the salacious personal details rather than the underlying principles and practices that have these folk operating on our behalf under the law.

Right now the drive is for as many of these services to be outsourced to the likes of G4S and so under even less direct Government oversight than is the present case, and also undertaken by organisations whose first duty is to make profit for their proprietors.

Such principles should without any doubt from me, receive MUCH more attention in the media than is the current case.

Community Service was just as tough as Community Payback.

I was Tweeted an alert to this article described as “misleading” by a Chief Executive of one of the thirty five Probation Trusts in England and Wales.

http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2013/01/23/london-offenders-shovel-snow-as-community-payback-gets-tougher

Here is my response:-

Misleading is a vast understatement. I was involved with community service back to its earliest days in Liverpool, later in Essex and then in London up to 2003 and have since kept abreast of the renamed Community Payback nonsense.

 

Community Service has always done hard physical work and in earlier days a lot of hard emotional work as well.

 

I well remember the positive change that came about with a young Essex man (and many, many others) who had a bad start in life got into harem scarem offences in the early 80’s – I can’t remember the details but he was stunned and relieved when he got a Community Service Sentence in the small country town where he lived and anxious when he discovered his task was to help transport (wheelchair push) OAPS to a lunch club, serve the lunches etc. and engage with the OAPS. He found it tough but after a while was completely accepted & gradually he smartened up his appearance, and even talked about enjoying the company of the old folk by the time he completed his sentence.

 

As far as I know (criminal records are notoriously unreliable) he had no further convictions.

 

I continue to live in the circulation area of the local newspaper area, where he lived – he has a rather unusual name. A couple of times in recent years I have seen letters in the press from him, on the last occasion complaining about dangerous driving and poor traffic management in and around his town. Yet some folk think Community work must look tough and the workers must be visible.

 

Then there was the Railway reclamation society, also in Essex, where teams of CS workers went every weekend and did very heavy work, all year round, in all but the absolute worst weathers.

 

The job went on for years and many got benefit, but as far as the visiting public was concerned those CS workers were just a part of the unpaid crew who got the railway back up and running again after decades of closure.

 

Public Probation has run the scheme since its inception in 1973 initially as a direct alternative to prison. Millions of Pounds have been saved – in costs of imprisonment, and much good work has been done, in a vast variety of settings.

 

I remain grateful to Baroness Wootton – the originator of CS who undertook a report on behalf of Wilson’s Government, the same Government that introduced parole initially with very strict conditions but slackened by successive governments to cut costs.

Thoughts prompted about two questions relating to issues arising in adoption.

Just checking my Twitter messages I found myself opening links and at a web page of questions and comments about adoption related issues. I found myself responding to two and have copied them here for my future reflection on what this opinionated person thought and wrote today.

The question was,

My birth daughter’s Adoptive-mom (also my aunt) told me I can’t celebrate Mother’s Day?

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AkY49JNz7.b3i0JXey_tP9jty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20121213233550AAknNuP

My Answer:

I think Mother’s Day has different types of meanings and in different places at different times.

Here in England and the UK it is marked on the middle Sunday in Lent, (the six weeks before Easter). I am not completely understanding of its origins but it was to do with people being expected or encouraged to visit their mother church. People who worked in the service of the wealthy in great houses and estates were given that Sunday off to travel back home to visit their mother and it became a custom to gather spring flowers on the journey and present them on arrival.

As a child I attended a Sunday school at a Church of England Church that was not the principal church within the parish and each year we would process from our ‘daughter’ church carrying poses to the ‘mother’ church where a service of Christian worship was held. That was in the nineteen fifties in north east London, England. It was also the custom to buy a token present of affection and make a card to send to my own mother. I just did what was the habit, like everyone else without a lot of thought – my father made a thing about us doing the domestic tasks that day, rather than Mum, and that usually lasted until after breakfast!

As I got older, relationships between my mother and I became strained – I now realise we are (were in her case – she died in 2006 aged 79) both addicts and also dyspraxic (also known as developmental coordination disability [DCD]) and I felt it was hypocritical just to send a card as it was the culture – done thing – and I stopped it – she once told me she respected me for that).  Anyway I realised that Mother’s Day, like so many other holy days and special times has been high-jacked by commercial interests and are really just big spending times with advertisers encouraging us to feel it is our duty to mark such special times with gifts and extra spending. I particularly find Christmas difficult, because I am aware some of us have much, yet others have nothing and go into great debt – to fulfil the expectations of society and advertisers.

At some point I became a Quaker and learned that down the years they have refused to treat any one day as more special, sacred or holy than any other day. That exactly matched my feelings, although the conventions are so strong it can still be difficult.

However, as far as my mother is concerned – at some point about 20 or so years ago, I got to thinking about birthdays (of course we only have one actual birthday; the day we are physically separated from our mothers) and what we actually celebrate in UK society is the anniversary of our birthdays. I could never understand, what I had done to deserve any special attention or gifts, but I liked getting them. However, I do not now feel obliged to mark my birthday or other people’s. What I did for quite a few years before my mother’s death, was on my birthday, to send my mother flowers and a greeting note of thanks – that was appreciated. Fortunately several years before her death I found recovery – using the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step programme (I am not an alcoholic) to my addiction– – and my mother and I repaired our relationship and had been on good terms for a number of years before her death. I tried to encourage my children to treat my wife that way on their birthdays, but they don’t – maybe I should – I remain grateful to her for her bearing and then caring for them and me.

As a Social Worker, in the UK criminal and family courts, I not unusually came across families where adoptions arranged in varying ways were a part of people’s family experience.

I guess what I have learned is that it is best not to expect anything from anybody else and that complaining and criticising the behaviour of others, especially when my comments are not invited, rarely improves matters. The only person whose behaviour I can control is mine – and if I concentrate on that it helps me feel aright.  I aim to accept that “other people’s opinions of me are none of my business” and to focus on just accepting that how things are is how they are. Usually I can at least live without hurting because I am not judging myself or others – most of the time – I am far from perfect!

Source(s):

Nearly 64 years life, in just a few more days.

===============================================================

The question was,

Should I Have Contact With My Birth Mother?

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AtDwZRF6kWs8Unh1cAh9.ebty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20121213232643AAub6vG

My Answer

I am sorry you have had no answers.

Thanks for writing about such a deeply difficult situation. I hope just expressing yourself in writing helped. In the past I have been surprised how I have gotten a new perspective on an old issue just by writing my feelings down, somehow as I explain – largely to myself – new thoughts come up and I gain a different understanding of something I might have had a fixed opinion about.

I don’t know the answer, to the Christmas card problem, I veer between sending none and sending them to all sorts of people.

Thanks for Tweeting you comments, that is how I came across them. I wish you well whatever you decide.

Source(s):

Nearly 64 years of life, about 30 of them as a Social Worker who occasionally came into contact with folk involved with adoptions both successful and less successful ones.

“Everyone, – escape the first snow of your English winter and come to Sydney Australia!

So said, a wag answering a Times editorial, about the English people’s poor response to an inch or two of snow in December.

I said…

‘everyone’ … Will we all get visas and accommodation and occupation to give us an income?

This really is not a joking matter. It is something we in the UK all share responsibility for.

I was recently reading an oral history of someone who grew up in a local village here in Essex a hundred years ago. There were about 6 cars locally the bus ran to town twice a week. She went to school in Chelmsford about an hour and a half’s journey by two trains. Her mother, a Londoner, missed pavements and regularly walked to Kelvedon for that experience. When her brother was born it was a five mile walk to fetch the doctor, but the infant was delivered by a neighbour by the time the doctor arrived by horse drawn transport.

We then spread further from the metropolitan and urban centres, reduced the railway lines, arranged employment so all had to travel, but did not provide either a sufficient public transport infrastructure or the means to keep the roads passable.

Then to compound matters our planning laws allowed employment and retail to move to ‘out of town’ locations but did not provide omnibuses to get there or to the rail heads.

Then we diminished public services so that County Councillors are seemingly people with limited ability or interest and their employees are comparatively lowly paid and undervalued, so that we do not get a top class service – it is beyond them.

Then it snows.

About 18 hours before the snow, I had an email warning from the Meteorological Office warning of below freezing temperatures at exactly the time it froze and snowed. The warning was repeated in early evening local TV news broadcasts.

24 hours later the lead highways councillor was on local radio saying they monitored the situation but had not expected snow and when it came it took several hours to get the Gritters going by which time the roads were clogged with sliding cars and they could not get through, teachers could not get to school and we apologise.

We have got what we deserve, with at its head a Prime Minister who would accept the Leveson report unless it is bonkers who shortly after rejects the main findings but cannot say what bit is ‘bonkers’ in the report. He appointed the rest of the cabinet; however they are made up of MPs we elected. Maybe we should start paying them the going rate.

Peanuts and Monkeys come to mind.

Yet, we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world; meanwhile others starve or die for lack of effective administration, sanitation and basic medical facilities. All this is before Climate Change overwhelms our successors and/or the oil runs out and the population of the world increases beyond the food that can be produced. Meanwhile we blog about it in between playing computer games and planning our next foreign holiday etc., etc.!

When is the best time to have lived ….. how about now? – – Thoughts about the state of the world.

What follows is a reaction to a discussion that began on the IMDB website’s Message Board, from reflections prompted by the viewing of a programme about the second world war – history from just before my 1948 birth.

Written discussions had developed about the amount of weaponry used by the English Police at that time, prompting the question from another … “what era would you like to have lived in and what would you want to be?”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0310455/board/nest/182659496?d=207888902&p=1#207888902

I spontaneously wrote:-

 

What strikes me is that war is war and its horrors live on. In the same way as I have been protected from war and have avoided close involvement other world citizens are living through it TODAY.

 

Think of those folk on the borders of Syria and Turkey in danger whatever way they go, or folk in the so called Democratic Republic of Congo. I once worked with a man who was due to be deported there from the English prison where I had met him and he had committed a comparatively minor acquisitive crime.

 

His story was that his father was so concerned for his safety because of political developments; he had raised as much money as he could to buy him a dangerous passage to Europe as a late teenager. But he could not make out and ended up committing crime. My task was to help prisoners prepare for release – I effectively had one interview a few days before, when I would set up arrangements for supervision by the Probation Services in the UK of those subject to statutory licences and to suggest possible ways of the others seeking help if they wanted or needed it – such as information about addiction treatment, emergency accommodation etc..

 

Well I did not know much about life in Kinshasa, where as far as I could discern he would eventually end up. I tried to get him to focus his mind on what he would do when he got off the plane in Kinshasa Airport, and he couldn’t – all he could say after reflection and in terror was – “I’ll be killed!” – it still troubles me today, I have no idea what happened to him, but that is what he believed.

 

In recent years I have come into contact with peace workers in Palestine and one man on returning a few years ago, gave a talk, and told of meetings he had with an elderly  Palestinian woman who had shown him her family’s former home area – now occupied and not open to her family – she blamed “The Balfour Declaration” of the British Government after the First World War that dealt with the Governance of Palestine – then by the UK – that was what preceded the increasing settlement of European Jews – many refugees from Pogroms or escapees from the Holocaust. In a few weeks there is a major BBC TV feature on TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who came to understand the Arabs before the First World War and then took part in collaborations with the local population supporting them against the Ottoman’s and aiding the allies efforts against the Germans. However, Lawrence did not seek to impose European ways on the Arabs which subsequently the post war treaties did. And still the reverberations continue. Those Arabs were cheated on my behalf, just like many Native Americans and Australians were cheated by the industrial developments of European Settlers. So worldwide there are underlying conflicts. Most of the native South Americans died out by European diseases. The few that are left are having their forests invaded and their way of life destroyed so that we can have as much imported timber as is needed in the already industrialised areas of the globe.

 

I am indeed grateful to my parents and their contemporaries for doing enough collectively to stop the invasion of Britain until the might of the US and others came to our active aid after they were attacked at the end of 1941. Gradually Europe and North Africa and the (so called) Far East* were eventually returned to some sort of independence and peace. However, I also have much gratitude for my Quaker friends and predecessors and others who steadfastly refused to participate and have since campaigned for the end of weapons of mass destruction.

 

We need to end war now. Ultimately fighting between peoples is pointless as it saps resources that are needed for the greater threats of climate change and the increase of population, beyond which the earth has the capacity to feed all. There are already millions starving and some dying for want of basic medical services, fresh drinking water and sanitation, whilst I pontificate about a TV programme, produced for profit, entertainment and … education!

 

*Whether any place is East or West, depends where the measurements start from – and us Brits and arrogant Europeans selected and got the rest to accept, Greenwich, a little place about 5 or 6 or so miles west of Westminster where the English Government was centred. The Sovereign had a hunting lodge at Greenwich and later a military base and then an astronomical observatory!

 

Maybe even Barry Hearn’s dreams for Leyton Orient and the Olympic Stadium will come true?

Preview Percy a West Ham United Blogger has joined those who have ridiculed Barry Hearn’s ‘dream’ of taking Leyton Orient to play at the Olympic Stadium.

http://www.kumb.com/article.php?id=3073

Back to the beginning; although I don’t remember the start date and acknowledge that attitudes from earlier don’t determine what our attitudes now should be but perhaps help us understand our journeys so far. In his Blog, Preview Percy says “I have no axe to grind with Leyton Orient fans”. That is good, I reciprocate and have no serious animosity towards any other Football Club.

I first actively supported Orient in 1963 as a 14 year old lured by the possibility of seeing some of my footballing heroes at the ground nearest to my Highams Park childhood home. I went to my first O’s game almost as a neutral. I was thrilled to be just yards behind the great Jack Kelsey of “The Arsenal”, but by the time I went home was a little sad to realise that Orient had lost. Over the coming months I saw a succession of boyhood footballing ‘gods’ including Charlton & Law. By the time Orient played Manchester United at Brisbane Road, Os had signed Norman Deeley, a genuine hero of mine, who ‘nutmegged’ Denis Law in that match, one of the few Orient won that season.  By the final whistle, on the night they beat Everton 3-0 I was hooked as an Orient supporter. A small claim to an, “I was there” type moment as Everton would become First Division Champions that season. Orient finished bottom of the division and have not played in the top division of English Football since!

As a Londoner, I want all London teams to either do well or play in same Division as Leyton Orient, and that includes West Ham United.  The attractions and demands of life away from football along with a hatred of being caged took me from the terraces by the early 1980’s but I returned in 1999.

I principally view  Barry Hearn as a hard headed accountant with added blag. I expect he thought he would be able to generate the sort of profit and excitement at Brisbane Road, as he has achieved by promoting activities like fishing and darts to TV. His fellow Football League members must have believed that too, as he was one of their negotiators who sealed the flawed deal with ITV that exposed some clubs, thankfully not Orient, as profligate.

In my mind there is little doubt that Hearn truly ‘saved’ Orient after their previous backer, Tony Wood lost all in Rwanda. Perhaps if Hearn had not bought in for that famous ‘fiver’ fans would eventually have collaborated and kept the club going – but we will never know. I have heard him address fans gatherings several times. I believe his true attitude is, as we are reminded by Preview Percy in his blog, with this full strength Bazza quote “At the end of the day if someone is misguided enough to think I’m going to risk my personal fortune for a football club then they should be in a funny farm.”

I have also heard Hearn talk with great spontaneous emotion about his feelings of intense pride on rare occasions of Orient’s high achievements. The way he once described Os qualification for a Wembley play off final makes me sure that his ownership is more than a simple business or vanity project. Were it either surely he is unlikely to have sustained it for 17 or 18 years already, especially when there was almost a done sell on deal, in 2009. Then Hearn directly involved Terry Byrne’s consortium in the appointment of manager Geraint Williams, before Hearn withdrew from the sale.

When it was first mooted about 6 or perhaps even 7 years ago that a Football Club might move into the Olympic Stadium after The Games, West Ham rejected the idea. Orient very seriously considered it. I recall a fans meeting  with Hearn discussing the pros and cons. An absolute sticking point was that football spectators should not have a running track between them and the pitch. Another complication was the size of the stadium and obviously the finances. I had the impression Hearn persevered for many months. Maybe it would then have enabled him to move Orient out of Leyton Stadium and get back his investment whilst getting a better playing facility nearby. Anyway eventually he pulled out because Lord Coe apparently resolutely agreed as part of the UK’s bid to host the Olympics that athletics would remain in the stadium at all future times. Then after the General Election of 2010 the new Government upset the Stadium plans that Tessa Jowell and the previous Labour Government had in place and decided to look for a football tenant after all. This time from the start West Ham wanted it but Leyton Orient did not, having investigated it thoroughly years before and knowing it was not suitable for them as at that time the running track still had to stay.

For Leyton Orient to move Boroughs is a no bigger deal than it was for West Ham FC to move to East Ham when they began playing at The Boleyn a century ago this year. Leyton Orient were then playing in Hackney and not affected. For West Ham a move to Stratford would take them back onto land that was part of their former home Borough of West Ham in Essex (since 1965 part of the London Borough of Newham). It just so happened that when the Boundary Commission decided where the new London boundaries should be drawn round the two former Essex Boroughs of Leyton and West Ham the line was actually placed between Leyton and Stratford then part of West Ham.  Another configuration might even have linked them together, as actually did happen with East Ham and West Ham, and similarly with Leyton and Walthamstow.

The significance of a possible move for either West Ham United or Leyton Orient to Stratford is not whether they are in the same or different Boroughs, but the nearness and the rules of The Football League, Premier League and Football Association. For O’s to move to Stratford, would probably have no impact on West Ham FC commercially, neither would it significantly alter the distance between them. Not so a move by West Ham FC to Stratford. Such a move would place The Hammers nearer the O’s. That will almost inevitably impact on the O’s commercially as far as new fans coming along. West Ham would fortuitously and surely unfairly benefit from the pull of all the publicly funded infrastructure of the Olympic Park and neighbourhood. The transport links connect the rest of the world right to the heart of the Olympic Park, which will surely favour any team from any sport against other competitors. For both clubs to play at the Olympic Stadium, alternating home and away fixtures seems fairest. Seating and hopefully safe standing terraces needs to be arranged to avoid spectating across the athletics track. The finances will be complicated but must be negotiable and better than having an underused stadium as happened for years with the Millennium Dome.

The Football League, and The Premier League, each have rules protecting the commercial interests of all their member clubs against any one member club obtaining an unfair advantage over another as a consequence of  a move to a new venue. Before a club moves to within “the vicinity” of another member of either League, that club must gain the approval of the League itself.

I presume The Football Association, to which these Leagues and Clubs are all affiliated has an interest in ensuring that the reputation of the game is not damaged by one of its members behaving  disreputably to another.

Barry Hearn  complained about an earlier round of contract tendering that resulted in West Ham United being appointed as the preferred bidder for the Stadium tenancy. He said that both the Football League, of which West Ham then was a member and The Premier League of which they are now a member did not properly enquire into the effect of a move by West Ham on the Orient as their respective rules demand. Leyton Orient, as is any organisation’s right, sought to demonstrate that the matter had been handled illegally via an application for a Judicial Review of the procedures involved by The High Court. The Government chose not to allow The High Court to decide the issue, presumably they were advised by their lawyers they were likely to lose, and instead cancelled the whole tenancy bidding process and started it again, with rather different rules.

As I understand it now, the occupants of the Olympic Stadium will not be a tenant but merely a hirer, so there is scope for several different organisations to be alternate hirers, like happens at other performance venues. Consequently  Leyton Orient have submitted a bid to become Stadium hirers, and in view of Hearn’s remarks about the running track, presumably if Leyton Orient do play home games there arrangements  will be made so that fans do not have to spectate over the track.

Via Twitter I asked of a Government PR Tweeter “Will the running track of the Stadium be overlaid with seats like Leyton Orient suggested yrs ago?“ The reply was “future use of the stadium will depend on who takes it over post Games. Latest info on the LDC website  http://www.londonlegacy.co.uk/another-step-forward-in-securing-the-future-of-the-park%E2%80%99s-venues/ “ So from that I conclude that even a Government spokesperson now accepts that it is possible for there to be a temporary arrangement to cover the athletics track with seating. There was a technical issue about the rake of the seating being different for football and athletics spectating, which I do not fully understand, but as a multi-million pound Government sponsored refit is involved, surely different arrangements for seating for different types of events is achievable?

On a worldwide scale Barry Hearn’s “dream” falls far short of Martin Luther King’s but for those of us who first supported Os playing at Leyton Stadium in Brisbane Road, were it to come to fruition and they turn out as the home team at the Olympic Stadium it would at least count as momentous. Then again, as Os are still the only football team to have ever played home Football League matches at Wembley Stadium, before it became an Olympic venue in 1948, perhaps even moving to Stratford is actually just a mite short of momentous!