Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012: Legacy - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 93-99)


17 MARCH 2010

  Q93 Chair: Good morning. Can I welcome you to the further session of the Committee's inquiry into the Olympic Legacy. I would like to welcome Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, Jules Pipe, the Mayor of Hackney and Roger Taylor, Director of the Host Boroughs Unit. Can I perhaps start off by asking you about your Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRP), which you have published, which seems extremely ambitious. Could you tell us what progress you are making towards achievement of the targets you have set?

Sir Robin Wales: That is actually quite interesting. This morning we were signing a Multi Area Agreement (MAA), which I think is relatively unique as all five boroughs were signing with Government and the Mayor of London—he was not there but he is signing it. It is perhaps the biggest legacy point from the Olympics and we have taken the opportunity of the inspiration, the focus on the Olympics, the focus on the area, and the promises, of course, that were in the bid document. There were two things that the bid document said: that we will do sport for young people and we will transform the East End of London. For a century the East End of London has been the poor part of London; it has taken the refuse of London, the noxious industries, all sorts of things. Our population lives less long than elsewhere; child poverty is greater; academic achievement is lower; employment is less. So we have said that if we really meant what we said in the bid document, which is that we will transform the East End, then over the next 20 years—because it is not a two-year programme, it has to be seen as an ongoing programme—we will bend public policy and public resources to make a difference and transform the East End in order to make it the same as the rest of London. That is not only morally the right thing to do, it is also the cheapest thing to do because at the moment we are the recipients of huge amounts of public funds and it does not do anything; we just continue on in the same way we have for a century. There is a map of the 1880s and it has not changed and we have to try to do something about that. Yes, it is very ambitious. I guess it comes down to, do you think that Government by its actions both nationally, regionally and locally can transform an area and change people's lives and opportunities. That seems to us to be the right thing to do. It is also what we promised in the bid document.

  Mr Taylor: If I could just add something more particular to that. I think it is important to recognise that when you ask what progress have we made towards it, we are here today able to say that we have significant support from the London Mayor and from central government and the nature of that support is that we are at the present time conducting what you could call an audit to explore how far policy in relevant home Government departments and in the GLA is being bent towards achieving or supporting us in the achievement of our objectives. So that is a really tangible piece of progress. When Sir Robin talks about the MAA, it is probably important just to underline the point that at the centre of the MAA is the issue of how we regroup in East London to deal with circumstances of worklessness, employment and skills training, which is right at the heart of this issue. We are making very significant progress now with Jobcentre Plus and with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the successors to the Learning and Skills Council and to the London Development Agency in getting to an integrated approach to investment in employment and skills in our area. So, for two years we are making some progress.

  Q94  Chair: The targets you have set, relating to things like life expectancy, crime rates and educational achievement are quite a long way removed from the Olympics. How do you see the Olympics is going to affect those kinds of things?

  Sir Robin Wales: It has got people to pay attention. It has taken a century for people to come together and say, "Actually we ought to try and do something about the East End." For me there is a physical legacy but the big legacy should be the inspiration; we should be inspiring people that this is what happens. How do you make sure that that is not just a Wimbledon effect where people come in and do a bit of sport for a while, but you keep going? One of the things that people say is that after the Olympics move out of town nobody will take your phone calls; so the question is: can we with the commitments that we have in the SRF and the commitments from regional and national government; can we continue that afterwards to try to transform the East End? We are not going to do it in two years—that is not going to happen and we should not kid ourselves that it is going to happen. It might happen over a lengthy period if we understand what the implications are; if we understand what we have to do. My argument would be that this is the biggest Olympic legacy we have managed if we are serious about it and continue driving it forward, and that will require some significant political support right across parties and over a long period, which says that we must do something to transform that area. I come back again, it is the cheapest offer; it is the cheapest option. It is very interesting that in my borough at the moment I live in a house that is 140 years old and people want to buy it and we are knocking down houses that were built 30, 40 years ago. We have to think long-term; we have to think what are we going to do over the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years and have public policy that reflects that. Look, it might not work, if we are being absolutely honest it might not work, people might walk away, people might backslide, people may say, "Yes, we said that but we do not mean it." That is why we are here; that is why we are running a campaign and saying to people, "Look, these are the implications of it; you have to sign up for 20 years and you have to be serious about it"; and we have to make sure that we are measuring those things that matter and making sure that it transforms those people's lives.

  Q95  Chair: You have been quite praiseworthy of the Mayor of London, that he has signed up to this too.

  Sir Robin Wales: That is excellent, yes.

  Q96  Chair: What about the Government, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Minister for the Olympics, are they working with you?

  Sir Robin Wales: We are even more praiseworthy of the Government, as you would expect us to be. Listen, it is great; the Government gets it, the Mayor gets it, terrific. We are getting it cross-party and people understand it. We should be pleased that people have got to that and we should be proud of that. The issue will be after the Olympics are out are we still going to keep focusing on it? That is why we need your support and everybody else's support to say that it has to keep going on. But at this point I have to say—and Roger's description about how Jobcentre Plus and others are joining up, Homes and Communities Agency—we are getting people to see it but it comes to when the implications come down to public policy will we carry through the logic of convergence into public policy? That is when it will get difficult, when it gets to the stage when we say, "Actually we need to do something." Health, what has happened in health over the last few years has been that there has been a transfer of resources from East London to West London because West London has overspent and East London has had to carry some of that. Public policy has to run and say, "Actually, we are not going to allow that any more; we are going to ensure that the money is spent in the East End and we will not allow that sort of issue to happen." That is going to take political courage and we all need to be willing to do it if we want to change what is the biggest area of non-employment anywhere in Europe.

  Q97  Chair: Jules, are you signed up to all this too?

  Mr Pipe: Yes, absolutely. All five boroughs are committed and have been working closely with the Government over the last year or so on developing this. The three key strands are at the heart of what we want to see changed in the five boroughs, they are the three key economic drivers. One quick thing I would say is that surely after a century it has gone on long enough that the East End of London is seen as such a disadvantaged area with real disadvantages of opportunity for its local people. It is not just in an economic sense, as Robin has touched on, that part of London does not have this drag factor on the economic prospects of the capital as a whole and therefore the country as a whole, but actually it is a bit of a moral question as well. So, pick one of those two.

  Q98  Chair: But to achieve your targets you have suggested—and I am sure correctly—that part of this is going to be employment and skills.

  Sir Robin Wales: Yes.

  Q99  Chair: You set a target of 200,000 jobs coming on the back of the Olympics; do you still think that that can be achieved?

  Sir Robin Wales: It is interesting. You have to distinguish here, perhaps, to be more accurate, the Olympics has brought some construction jobs, it has brought some inspiration and it has been very helpful in the synergy it has had with Westfield. But the biggest prize that we have at the moment is Westfield and the shopping centre that is coming. Those are 8,500 retail jobs which are longer-term jobs and those are not just unskilled jobs, many of our people are unskilled so we need jobs like that but also you can begin to work through into a career, so opportunities come from that as well. Interestingly, John Lewis has signed up to take 250 long-term unemployed—not just locals but long-term unemployed—because it is the long-term unemployed who have never worked that we have to go after if we are going to transform the East End. The 8,000 will not be all new retail jobs because some people will move from elsewhere, but there are thousands of jobs. There was a retail outlet where we were this morning on site looking at the Retail Academy which is being run by the businesses, because we are very clear that we should not be running it, nor should the academics, it is the John Lewis and Marks & Spencer of this world who should be telling us what they want in the skills in Westfield. So those jobs are coming; those jobs are happening. We have then a development site sitting there with the Park and the opportunities, and it is the best development site in Europe, certainly, and possibly further afield, and you have opportunities for jobs there all down the Lee along the Thames and the Royal Docks. The Mayor of London has said that for the next 20 years that is the hub of the regeneration of London. There are lots and lots of jobs coming there and so we need to make sure that those jobs result in people who have never worked getting into those jobs; local people getting access to those jobs and then trying to keep them locally. Very interesting, in Newham we did some research and people moving into Newham are poorer than people moving out of Newham. People who are unemployed, people who are not working, move in, get jobs and move out and we need to find a way of getting some stability around those communities, but there are tens of thousands of jobs coming. Many of them will be unskilled but I have to say that there is also an argument for having high skilled jobs so that there is an aspiration; so it is about that balance. Jules has fought very hard to get some high skilled jobs in Hackney, and those jobs are coming. Can we get people ready to access those jobs? Can we get people who will go in and take those jobs rather than sucking people in from elsewhere, that is the challenge.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 12 April 2010