By Rob Preece
PUBLISHED: 06:30 EST, 18 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:15 EST, 18 July 2012
Shops are boarded up, the buildings look tatty and roads are littered with discarded mattresses, cupboards and wardrobes.
Welcome to the side of Stratford, east London, that Olympic organisers would rather you didn't see.
London was awarded the 2012 Games after the team behind the bid convinced officials that it would leave a lasting legacy for the regeneration of one of the capital's poorest areas.
But these grim pictures, taken only a stone's throw from the Olympic Park, reveal that more work is needed to turn around Stratford's fortunes.
Discarded: Mattresses and furniture line a pavement in Stratford, where some residents are struggling to see how their area has benefited from the Olympics
Tatty: A newsagent's shop in Stratford has its window boarded up
Damaging: This street has a view of the Olympic stadium, but a crashed car has been abandoned on the pavement
Almost £9.3billion has been spent on the Games - with three-quarters of it earmarked for regeneration projects - but some residents say it is hard to see where the money has gone.
The area has a new £1.45bn shopping mall, Westfield, which has created 10,000 jobs and brought new waves of shoppers.
But critics fear other parts of Stratford have been forgotten.
Julian Cheyne, of the Counter Olympics Network, a pressure group set up to hold London 2012 officials to account, said: 'You look at the old Stratford Centre and it is dwarfed by the new glistening Westfield.
'Westfield is a stark contrast to the town centre that's for sure. They have placed some turquoise sculptures in Stratford, but that's about it.'
The Olympic 'Orbit' statue overlooks a building in need of refurbishment
Closed: A statue on the Olympic Park stands behind businesses with their shutters down
The dour exterior of the old shopping centre is a world away form the bright Westfield complex.
And the town's high street is peppered with shut-down shops and closing down sales.
Mr Cheyne said: 'You could argue that there is no need to spruce it up because I doubt many visitors to the Olympics will ever bother to venture outside the Park.
'They will just get the tube or train straight to Stratford and turn left into the Olympic complex.
Derelict: This building with broken windows and dirty brickwork stands near to the Olympic Park
A bed shop is closed with shutters drawn down in Stratford town centre
'It's questionable what tarting up the area would actually do for the fortunes of the businesses. They will just be inconvenienced by the Games.'
UNINSPIRED! JUST ONE IN EIGHT VISITORS WILL BE AGED 16 TO 24
The Government promise to use the Olympics to inspire young people has come under attack after new figures revealed just one in eight ticket holders are aged between 16 and 24.
Most people in that age group will not be attending any Olympic Games events, the research found.
Figures show stark regional differences in the uptake of tickets, with only three per cent of youngsters from the north-east of England going to events.
Of those young people that are going to the games, 21 percent are from the London region, according to the study by specialist market research consultancy YouthSight.
Youthsight's managing director, Ben Marks, said: 'If the Olympic Games were intended to inspire young people, maybe there could have been a way to prioritise and perhaps discount their ticket applications.
'Ticket discounts only applied to those aged 16 and under.'
Shopkeeper Uday Patel, who runs a newsagent business in the Stratford Centre opposite Westfield, said: 'Money needs to be invested in the Stratford Centre, not just the Olympic Park.
'It doesn't impact locals if not. How are we meant to compete?
'The least the council could do is lower our rates so we can be more competitive because business has been affected badly.'
Residents said the changes they had seen so far were cosmetic.
Joe Alexander said: 'I'm glad Westfield is there, it's a great local facility for the people of Stratford but you can't help feel it was created more for people from outside to come in, shop and leave without really entering the real Stratford.
'It has been given its own district - E20 - and that helps create this idea that it is a separate from the town.
'I don't think the regeneration and tidying up that's happened before the Olympics has really had much impact on the wider Stratford area.'
Another resident, Doreen Ward, added: 'All the money seems to be going into the Olympic Park and the new shopping centre.
'From our perspective it's as though they are making sure the visitors get a good impression of Stratford, but all the existing facilities across the road in the town centre are still run down but out of sight.
'They did put some nice flower beds in the town centre the other day, so that is a start - but it still needs a good lick of paint and a lot of love and attention.'
The £1.45bn Westfield shopping mall has brought a huge boost, but critics fear other parts of Stratford have been forgotten
Appeal: Traders have called for more money to be invested in the Stratford Centre, which has been overshadowed by the new Westfield development
However, nearby Leyton High Road has already undergone a remarkable transformation as it reaps rewards from the Olympic project.
Within a few months, a line of tatty shopfronts has been converted into a parade more typical of Chelsea or Notting Hill than the East End of London.
Shop names in charmless neon or plastic have been replaced with hand-painted signs adorned with elegant calligraphy or old-fashioned metal lettering.
Even the local KFC has had its ugly plastic fascia replaced with a sophisticated dark red paint job, a smaller, subtler logo, and a smart new awning.
Most of the businesses were fitted with internal shutters – sitting just within the windows rather than outside them – so the shopfronts can stay lit up at night.
It is being funded by a £475,000 grant from the Government’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund as well as money from Waltham Forest Council.
A spokesman for Newham Council, which is responsible for Stratford, said: 'Nowhere else in London is changing at the scale and pace of Stratford.
'Over the next 15 years it will become a new metropolitan centre supporting many thousands of jobs.
'Alongside the development of the Olympic Park and Europe's largest urban shopping centre at Westfield Stratford City, bold regeneration plans are set to create a competitive alternative to other London business districts such as Canary Wharf and Kings Cross.
'Stratford is already a major transport node with fast rail, tube and DLR connections to the City, West End and Canary Wharf and new transport projects will provide further improved access to central London, the rest of the UK and Europe.
'As the greatest show on earth comes to London in 2012, the legacy of this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games is set to position Stratford as a world-leading residential, business, leisure and tourism destination.
'Already firmly established as a destination in its own right - 13.6 million people visited Westfield Stratford City during its first 14 weeks after opening in September 2011 - the immediate future will see the area continue to flourish with developments such as the Lend Lease and London and Continental Railways (LCR) £1.3 billion commercial district The International Quarter (TIQ), as well as the transformation of the Queen Elizabeth Park after the 2012 Games.'
Ilan Goldman, of Catalyst Capital, asset managers on behalf of Stratford Centre owners CEPF Chariot Sarl, said: 'The Stratford Centre is thriving, far from being overshadowed by our neighbour, we have seen our footfall increase significantly since Westfield opened in 2011 and expect 24 million people to visit us this year.
'Ahead of the Olympic Games, we have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in a new entrance and frontage, improved the shopping areas and signage and are working with retailers to jointly make improvements to individual shops and storefronts.
'We are also working to bring forward exciting development plans for the Stratford Centre and Morgan House, which will enhance both buildings and further contribute to Stratford’s resurgence.'
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