The warnings made by the NoLondon2102 campaign prior to London winning its Olympic bid in 2005 are starting to be proved right. Finally, Newham's Great Helmsman Sir Robin Wales has woken up to something most of us have known for at least a year - that the so-called 'Olympic legacy', sold as central to London's bid, is nothing but an illusion. On Wednesday the Evening Standard reported:
Wales was speaking at a symposium organised by Newham Council to discuss how best to secure a legacy from the Games. Speakers included Baroness Ford, chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company and representatives of previous and future Olympic cities including Athens, Sydney, Beijing and Vancouver. Cllr Paul Brickell, Newham’s executive member for the Olympics, added: ”We need a clear story on how we will achieve the single most important legacy item which was central to the bid – if we are all going to work together to transform east London then we need support at all levels of Government for our programme.”
The mayor of the Olympic borough of Newham has attacked the lack of progress on government promises to delivery a legacy for the 2012 Games.
Sir Robin Wales said the borough, which will host two thirds of Olympic events, was not seeing an improvement in jobs, housing and healthcare.
His intervention today was timed to cause maximum embarrassment to ministers and Games chiefs as they host an inspection team from the International Olympic Committee.
Sir Robin, a member of the London 2012 organising committee, said he was increasingly concerned that the Olympics would repeat the mistakes of Canary Wharf, which created 110,000 jobs but with only a few hundred going to local people. One in five of the 7,000-plus Olympic workers is local to Newham but Sir Robin believes many are transient and that his borough is missing out on a "skills legacy".
He said: "London's bid book said the most enduring legacy of the Games must be the regeneration of an entire community. Just putting buildings into the ground does not reverse more than a century of deprivation."
Sir Robin is also concerned the Olympic village, which will be converted into 2,800 homes after the Games, could become a sink estate with mainly short-term residents.
A clear story, or another work of fiction from Wales and Brickell? This from the people who only last month were arguing that branding the 2012 Games site an 'Olympic Royal Park' was "a fitting legacy of the Games"? And what about the pretty specific promises made on Newham council's website?