Created: 28 April 2011
Bob has a long history in supporting the London Olympic and Paralympic Games; Bob served as the Conservative Olympics spokesman in the Greater London authority, during the formative period when much of the work was initiated, he was also the deputy chairman of the GLA's economic development, culture, sport and tourism committee for four years. As a result, he was partly responsible for the scrutiny of the Olympics and the development of the whole process and has a great interest in its success.
Having visited the Olympic site on a number of occasions throughout its development, Bob took this opportunity to commend the venue itself as a testimony to all the hard work done by the ODA and LOCOG and that it was the right to employ these people who have done a wonderful job in getting the stadium built on time and to such a high standard.
Talking about the cost to Londoners, Bob said: "I well remember the previous Mayor announcing to the assembly that the cost to a Londoner would be no more than the daily cost of a Walnut Whip. The only problem is that the daily cost of a Walnut Whip over 25 years is likely to lead to diabetes and long-term health issues, which is precisely the problem that London is facing in having to pay for the games over an extended period. Londoners have also felt a great deal of frustration, particularly in west and north-west London, at having to pay for the cost of the games, while those living close to the edge of east London are experiencing the benefit, yet incurring none of the costs. That will be an important issue later. The other concern that I would like the Minister to consider is the fact that national lottery funding was diverted to assist the games, as a result of which national lottery funding for large areas of London was removed. We were promised at the time that this funding would be returned from the profits from the subsequent land sales. We must not lose sight of that opportunity."
Part and parcel of this whole process has been the regeneration capability in that part of the world. The legacy of the games will not be just a sporting one, but a real legacy for the lives of east Londoners in particular. The key challenge will be to ensure that we do not allow what are, quite frankly, rabbit hutches to be put up at the Olympic park, leading to low-cost housing, thereby building in all the problems that were once part of the east end and which we are now addressing. I trust that the powers that be will ensure that that does not happen.
There is a massive danger that large parts of London, particularly west and north-west London, become glorified car parks for people wishing to use the tube network for the last part of their journey to the Olympic venues. Consideration needs to be given to encourage local authorities to introduce temporary measures for the period of the Olympics, rather than imposing potentially draconian measures unnecessarily throughout the whole year. Experience around the Wembley stadium area suggests that residents are severely inconvenienced when a minor event is going on at the stadium and draconian traffic control measures are implemented. Local authorities should be given the opportunity to address that issue in a particular way.
Paying tribute to the ticketing systems, Bob spoke of his own, initially sceptical, experience, to stress that the application process was easy and accessible however added regret that there were further problems for many later on in the process. Whilst he is sure that the event will be a success Bob expressed concerns that there may be empty seats and many of events and expressed a desire for those tickets to be given to school children across London. Not only would this fill the empty seats, it would encourage more young people to participate in the event.
Whilst Bob is clear that he wants as many people as possible to attend the games, there must be clear and strict penalties for those that turn ticket touting in to a business. Welcoming the rise in fines to £20,000, Bob proposed a tiered system that placed harsher fines upon those touting for profit.
To close his speech, Bob said "I believe we have the potential to run a very successful and brilliant event in 2012. I think we have an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for the east end, for the whole of London and for sport in general. I look forward to the newly re-elected Mayor inviting his predecessor, Mr Livingstone, to come along and play a part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, as we celebrate London at its best."
To read this speech in full, follow this link: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2011-04-28b.406.0