London 2012 is falling short on regeneration legacy

September 11, 2009


Dee Doocey is a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly, and chairs the Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee, the lead committee for monitoring the Olympic and Paralympic Games.



The 2012 Olympic Games in London will cost an eye-watering £9.35 billion. Is it worth it? Certainly not if we only get a six-week sporting spectacular. But if this money is invested with an eye for the long term then the benefits will be enormous.


London won the bid to host the Olympics largely because of the promises made by Lord Coe about the ‘legacy’ the Games would provide – economic regeneration, help for local disadvantaged communities, a new deal for disabled people and increased participation in sport.


Preparations for the Games are ahead of schedule and on budget, which is great news. But you can’t say the same for many of the promises made about the legacy.


No other Olympic host city has managed to achieve a sustained increased interest in sport  – not even sports-mad Sydney – and evidence so far reveals that there have actually been significant drops in participation in many sports.


But perhaps the biggest let-down has been the promised legacy of the Paralympic Games. London’s disabled people will reap few benefits. When Coe made his promises, did he in turn have a promise from the government of extra funding to provide a better deal for disabled people?


If so, he must be feeling as let down as they are! Most disabled children are educated in mainstream schools, and are sidelined from sports provision because their teachers have no specialist training in teaching sport to disabled children.


And if disabled children feel inspired by the Paralympics to take up a sport, they will be frustrated by a severe shortage of sports clubs with special facilities – and a lack of dedicated disabled transport to take them to the few facilities that do exist.


The basic mistake has been to emphasise a ‘hard’ legacy of venues and buildings over the ‘soft’ legacy of economic and social regeneration targets. London will inherit a marvellous Olympic park, and some great buildings including the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. But no post-Games tenants have yet been identified for these.


Baroness Margaret Ford was recently appointed to Chair the Olympic Park Legacy Company. If anyone can pull off a good legacy, she can. But when Britain is grappling with an economic downturn and all budgets will be subject to severe squeeze, it is doubtful that any government (of whatever party) will regard investment in the Park as a priority.


The key to long-term success is ensuring that local people get their fair share of houses and jobs, which requires a big increase in the targets for giving skills to the local workforce. Boasts by the Olympic authorities and the government that they are exceeding their targets are meaningless when the targets are so pitifully low.


We were promised a legacy of skills, jobs, homes, and a better deal for disabled people. It is essential that the Government and the Mayor deliver on these promises.


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Having been involved on the periphery of the Olympics I believe that Govt, instead of giving the legacy role to an organisation best equipped to deliver or creating one immediately the Games were awarded to London, gave it to the London Development Agency, the LDA, which has proved to be one of the weakest possible, with plenty of media coverage of its incompetence and involvement in projects where corruption and fraud allegedly occured.

Govt and the LDA have sat on the sidelines until too late and watched while the ODA plough on, ignoring legacy, to deliver uninspiring venues which will however perform their sporting function.

Govt have this year set up a legacy delivery company but it is 4 years too late. The fact that no one can give any journalist a detailed, quantified breakdown on legacy proves that there will be very little.

Not good enough.

Posted by mike t | Report as abusive

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Posted by London 2012 is falling short on regeneration legacy goodcity | Report as abusive

I fully support the values of Lord Coe’s Olympic legacy such as; skills, jobs, homes, and a better deal for disabled people as mentioned in the above report.

The reality is far from any legacy and the CPO process seems to be destroying local businesses and with it the livelihoods of the employees. A polar opposite to creating opportunities as was intended.

I fail to see how any legacy can be delivered when the sole focus to date has been on meeting targets and deadlines at ANY cost. I have noticed experienced businesses being down-sized or shutdown completely and I cannot see the commercial sense of this.

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Posted by The Twenty Twelve Games | Report as abusive

The UK’s annual defence budget is about £37 billion (for the arithmetically challenged, roughly four times the Olympic budget quoted here). In 2010 the annual health budget will be £110 billion (nearly twelve times the cost of the Olympics). The government has bailed out the banks to the tune of a trillion pounds (the country’s entire annual GDP). In comparison, the Olympics are costing us nothing – peanuts. In this context, I am afraid this article is complete and utter nonsense.

When the Liberals take government and introduce a flat-rate of income tax for everybody that is the same as Hong Kong’s, I will start to take notice of them.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive