“Urgent and sustained action” is needed to ensure London does not fail to live up to its bold Olympic and Paralympic legacy promises, the House of Lords was warned today.
Baroness Doocey told peers that, while there had been good progress, much of the legacy still hangs in the balance and it would be “unacceptably expensive” if all that could be shown for £9bn was six weeks of sport.
The Liberal Democrat peer, who chaired the London Assembly committee which scrutinised the Games and was the Mayor’s representative on the Home Office Olympic Security Board, said she had concerns over the legacy for disabled people, grassroots sport and the proposed benefits to the communities neighbouring the Olympic Park.
She told Lords that:
– To provide a legacy for children with disabilities, PE teachers need to be appropriately trained. But currently they are expected to undertake this training voluntarily in their spare time;
– Most of the sports funding in schools is targeted at secondary schools rather than primary schools where it would be more effective;
– In Chobham Manor, the first new development to be built on the park, the plans promise only 28% affordable housing. The Olympic bid document promised up to 50%, downgraded by Boris Johnson to a target of 35%. Baroness Doocey said she feared “an island of affluence in a sea of deprivation”;
– It is difficult to see how the target of getting 70,000 previously unemployed people into jobs will ever be met; and
– The Mayor has not put in place any system to ensure his target of 90% community usage of the sports venues in the park becomes a reality.
Baroness Doocey told peers: “There will undoubtedly be objections to public investment in a time of austerity. But the £9bn spent on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was never intended to provide only a few weeks of sport. It was also to be a long-term investment, the financial bedrock of a lasting legacy.
“The fate of the legacy is at the mercy of the Mayor of London. He is free to take the easiest option, which will mean giving in to private developers without ensuring that local people benefit from new homes and jobs. The result would be a poor return on our £9bn investment.
“The 2012 Games were a brilliant achievement. We now need a legacy that matches that achievement. We must monitor the progress of the legacy and hold those responsible to account to ensure the promises are kept. Only when the promised ‘real and long-lasting’ legacy has been delivered will we have achieved a legacy as good as the Games.”
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.