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

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 144-159)


17 MARCH 2010

  Q144 Chair: Good morning. Can I welcome for the second part of this morning's session Tessa Jowell, the Minister for the Olympics, Shahid Malik, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Communities and Local Government, David Brooker of the Government Olympic Executive, and Philip Cox, also from DCLG. Can I start off by asking you just to set out for us, Tessa, where your responsibilities end and where Shahid's start.

  Tessa Jowell: Well, in time, I am responsible until the Olympic Games, but obviously, as we are planning the long-term legacy now, Shahid and I and our two Departments work very closely together on the seamless transition of the oversight of the Legacy Company and the management of the park after the Games, but you will know that constitutionally the Legacy Company is jointly owned by the Mayor and the Government, and the Government's share is shared between the Olympic Executive and DCLG. Would it help if I made a short opening statement?

  Q145  Chair: Yes, if you would like to, please do.

  Tessa Jowell: Thank you very much indeed. We are delighted to be able to come and give this evidence to the Committee and obviously you have received our written submission. It is very clear to me and, I am sure, to members of the Committee that the London 2012 Games have become synonymous with legacy in a way that has not been the case in any previous Olympics and it is important to remember that it was the legacy potential that was material in the Government taking the decision back in 2003 to back the bid to host the Games. However, `legacy' is a very spongy term and I am somewhat concerned, but will take any responsibility which falls to me, about the lack of definition and I am very keen that in this session we define very precisely the terms by which the success of our legacy in preparing for, hosting and managing the aftermath of 2012 will be judged. It is very simply this: when we won the right to host the Games, we made two fundamental commitments, first, that the Olympics would transform the heart of East London through regeneration and, secondly, that we would use the motivational power of the Games to inspire a generation of young people through sport. Now, obviously there are other legacy benefits which will flow from that, and the Committee, I know, has in the past expressed an interest in the sustainability, the very high standards of sustainability that are being applied throughout the Park, but at the centre of our ambition for legacy and what we mean when we talk about legacy is the regeneration of East London and the inspiration of a generation of young people through sport, and by our success in those two respects we will be judged. If I can just very quickly elaborate on the transformation of East London. It is well-known to the Committee that the Olympic Park sits almost in the centre of five of the most deprived parts of the country and I know that you have fairly recently visited the park, so you can see the transformation that is taking place of what was a contaminated brownfield site approximately the size of Hyde Park. Last year, Shahid's Department and mine established the Olympic Park Legacy Company, more than three years ahead of the Games, to safeguard the commercial, the sporting and the cultural future of the park, and the Board is appointed and in place. In addition, there will be up to 12,000 new homes, 35% of which will be affordable, and 12,000 new jobs, of which we anticipate 8,000 to be in the digital sector, and it is our expectation that the investment in particularly the Press and Broadcast Centres will begin to act as a driver for the reshaping of aspects of London's economy, particularly post the downturn, but that will take time. Then, in addition, there will be the iconic sporting facilities, all of which have been designed and are being constructed with their legacy adaptation incorporated and, in addition to that, new education and health facilities. In 2010, our key milestones are planning decisions for post-Games transformation, beginning the soft marketing for the legacy uses of the stadium and the Press and Broadcast Centres, continuing the investment in the workforce and exceeding the benchmarks for the proportion of workers from the host boroughs who were previously unemployed, who are women or from black and minority ethnic communities. I am obviously happy in questions to answer more detailed points about the nature and scale of regeneration, but just one other fact which the Committee may find interesting is about Stratford Station, and this is really what sets the scale of regeneration of the Olympic Park apart from any other Olympic city ambition, and that is the infrastructure. Yes, there is the sporting infrastructure, yes, there are up to 12,000 new homes by 2025, yes, there is the commercial infrastructure, Westfield and the development beyond that, but there is also the public transport infrastructure and Stratford Station which will, as you have heard many times before, make Stratford one of the best-connected parts of the South East, so you can get on a train to Stratford and go to 120 different destinations. That, as I am sure you understand, will make the Olympic Park commercially attractive. The second ambition, which I really want to set out briefly, is of inspiring a generation of young people through sport. It has been very much our ambition to get sport back into the life of every child in state schools and already 90% of children are doing two hours a week of sport, but that is compared with less than 25% taking part in sport at that level seven years ago, so this year the key milestones are that five hours a week will be on offer in 100% of the sports partnerships in England, 80% of children will be doing three hours a week and 40% will be doing five hours a week by the end of the next academic year. We will continue our progress towards getting two million more people physically active by 2012. We can go later, if you like, into the Active People Survey results which are published today which give us great cause for optimism that we are on course to meet that target by 2012-13. The final figures will be published in December of 2013 and we are on course to show two million more people playing more sport and being physically active. Then, of course you will know of the International Inspiration Programme which is now established in, I think it is, nine countries, and we have a meeting with sponsors over breakfast tomorrow morning and we hope that will be up to 20 countries by the time that we get to 2012. That is honouring our commitment that children around the world will benefit and I am very happy to say a little bit more about that. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognise and admire the scale of our legacy ambition. It has changed the expectations of future Olympic cities, and I have tried to set out quite briefly the benchmarks by which we will be judged in our legacy ambition.

  Q146  Chair: Thank you for that. We do have questions on a number of those aspects, but can I turn to Shahid Malik because you have had responsibility in DCLG since November for the Olympic legacy, and I am sure you have been beavering away behind the scenes, but it has been observed that you have not actually said anything about it yet, so would you like to do so this morning?

  Mr Malik: I suppose I would just really say that you are not to read the right-wing press, but I suppose that is quite difficult in your case! I am the Thames Gateway and Olympic Legacy Minister not since November, but since June of last year, and only this morning in fact before getting here we signed a MAA with the five host boroughs to focus on worklessness amongst a number of areas which will make a massive difference to that area and will give a legacy that leads to the aspiration of convergence within 20 years. I have visited a number of Olympic areas and, as the Thames Gateway Minister, my focus is on the key economic drivers in the Thames Gateway, which starts at Stratford and goes out to the Thames Estuary. The Olympics obviously is one of the key drivers. The other key driver, where I was this morning, is Westfield Shopping Centre, a £1.45 billion investment which will lead to some 15,000 jobs, 8,500 of which will be retail. Yesterday, I was at DP World in Thurrock which is the largest foreign investment in this country, some £1.85 billion which will lead to 36,000 jobs. Ebbsfleet is the third economic driver, a £3 billion project, and Crossrail has been mentioned, I think, before as something which will unlock Canary Wharf and expand the jobs potential there by an extra 100,000 jobs. Those are the economic drivers. I have worked very closely with the five leaders of the host boroughs, with the Mayor, the LDA and of course the OPLC, but I am very clear that, although my Department is contributing more than any other department in Government to the Olympics, some £2.8 billion, Tessa, as the Olympics Minister, leads on the Olympics and I am very, very happy to be in the background because I know that she is utterly competent in her role and, when she speaks, she speaks not just for herself, but she speaks for the whole of Government, including me as well. Our work has really been focused on working with regional government, with local government and many of the agencies out there to make sure that we have got a partnership and a holistic approach to this. It probably has not escaped any of your attention that this is the largest scale peacetime logistical exercise that this country has seen, so it needs everybody working together, and the DCLG has got a key role to play and we are very proud to be playing that key role. I have to say, we are probably as joined-up in government terms as we have ever been on any single issue, so I am happy to play second fiddle to Tessa who, after all, was instrumental in getting the Olympics here in the first place.

  Q147  Chair: Thank you for that. Your title, therefore, of Minister with responsibility for the Olympic legacy, you see the Olympic legacy as one of a number of initiatives which are part of the Thames Gateway initiative?

  Mr Malik: It is part of the Thames Gateway Olympic legacy. The Olympics is one of five key economic drivers in the Thames Gateway. My focus ostensibly is in and around the OPLC, but also quite clearly, as a Department, we have got a very key role to play, as indeed we are playing, with the various tiers of Government at a local level in London, obviously with the Mayor and at a central Government level, but also with the ODA, the LDA and the private sector as well just trying to ensure that we have got a holistic approach to this because the truth is that our ambitions are high, and I think they ought to be, but we will never deliver unless we work in that holistic partnership fashion, so that is really where DCLG comes from as well as the £2.8 billion of the £9.325 billion that the Olympics will cost.

  Q148  Chair: We will want to come back to the economic legacy, but before we do can I just turn to the sporting legacy which is the second one, Tessa, which you identified. You appointed Steve Redgrave as the Government's Legacy Champion and the Legacy Board has now been created. Steve Redgrave has been slightly critical in saying that the focus appears to be very short-term and nobody seems to have given a lot of thought to what happens beyond 2013/14. Do you recognise that as a fair criticism?

  Tessa Jowell: I do not think it is a fair criticism actually. I am not sure if you are taking evidence from Gerry Sutcliffe, who is the Sports Minister who is responsible for the sports legacy and the Legacy Board, but if you appoint a Legacy Champion you want it to be somebody of stature, as Steve Redgrave is, a household name and somebody who is a bit of grit in the system, not somebody who is going to allow the Government and all the agencies responsible for delivering this to get away unchallenged. I welcome his challenge, but I am also very proud of the fact that by the time we get to 2012 we will have seen nothing short of a transformation in the way in which children are playing sport and very particularly, and it is a particular passion of mine, allowing children to compete. There are people who are called `competition managers' who do the kind of practical things which are essential to setting up schedules of inter and intra-school matches, tournaments and so forth and help children to reconcile because it used to be the case that, if you were, say, a 12-year-old and you were an excellent swimmer it was a sort of guilty secret and children did say they had to go to the dentist when they might be going to compete in a regional heat or something like that, so for children really to be supported in managing a potential sporting talent alongside their schoolwork requires a degree of help and assistance, just as it takes somebody to book the buses and make sure that children get to and from competitions. When I say that it will have taken 10 years to see through this transformation in sport in school, this is complicated. It is complex and requires sustained investment because it is no longer just the chemistry teacher volunteering after school, but increasingly trained, proper coaches and, for younger children, PE teachers. This is a legacy that does not stop at 2012, and this may be the impact of the Spending Round but I would really dare any Government, this having been established with 10 years of investment, to start unwinding it and denying the majority of children in this country the opportunity to play, to succeed and to be champions in the sport of their choice.

  Chair: We will come back to the sporting legacy in a little while.

  Q149  Mr Ainsworth: I hope, Chairman, you will forgive me if I pick up on the points that Tessa has made. You said in your opening remarks, Tessa, that all those iconic sporting venues have been built with legacy uses in mind. Now, I do not know whether you had a spy in the audience for the previous session, but we were categorically informed just now by Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, that the Aquatics Centre was not suitable for their purposes post the Games and that in fact they had no interest in it at all and would be looking to build another leisure pool for the use of their locals some time after the Games had finished, so what has gone wrong with the Aquatics Centre, which is very expensive?

  Tessa Jowell: Absolutely nothing has gone wrong with the Aquatics Centre, and £9 million has been spent on putting in the booms and the other equipment that mean that you can do two things in that you can have a floor of variable levels in the main swimming pool, but also you can divide the 50-metre pool in two because actually in legacy that is much more useful. Now, I am very familiar with my very dear friend Robin Wales's views about the flume and the leisure pool.

  Q150  Mr Ainsworth: He had a problem about the design of the roof, which he said made it unsuitable for community use.

  Tessa Jowell: No, no. The argument was two-fold. First of all, whether there could be, as you rightly say, a leisure pool, and I think they wanted a flume as well. The cost was going to be £40 million and the bid for this came after the designs for the Aquatics Centre were really pretty well-advanced, so we said no, we could not do this. We could not build another £40 million into the cost of the Aquatics Centre, but what we are doing with the Aquatics Centre is making sure, as other major Olympic-sized pools are, that it is adaptable for school use and for community use. I am absolutely sure that the children of Newham will look forward to swimming in it and using the diving facilities too.

  Q151  Mr Ainsworth: Well, I hope that you are right and Sir Robin is wrong, but, if you look at the transcript when it appears, you will see that he was very strong on it.

  Tessa Jowell: With respect, I am very well aware of this and he is also very well aware of the discussions that we had about two years ago about it and it was just too late and too expensive.

  Q152  Chair: His point was that the iconic nature of the building with this rather extraordinary and, indeed, striking roof, which has pushed the cost up enormously, one of the consequences is that it has also prevented the adaptation for his flume and leisure pool, so we are spending a lot more to build the building which then cannot be used for leisure purposes.

  Tessa Jowell: Well, there will be adaptation of the Aquatics Centre, which is a beautiful, iconic building built by one of the most eminent architects in the world, and it might have been even bigger, the roof might have been even bigger, but we did decide that we would scale that back and it is, nonetheless, probably the signature building of the Olympic Park and I think we should be very proud of that. I come back to my point that, had the original brief been one to incorporate flumes and leisure pools, which also I think get a bit of a mixed press, and I may get into trouble for this, this is going to be a first-class community swimming and diving facility and a competition facility for local pools, and you know how we have stressed from the outset the affordability of admission prices for children who live in the area. We are not going to have local children pressing their noses against the glass unable to afford to use the facilities on their doorstep.

  Q153  Chair: You do not feel at all embarrassed that you are going to spend £9.3 billion on the Olympic Park and the Mayor of Newham comes to us and says that actually he thinks he is going to have to spend some more money to build the leisure pool at Stratford?

  Tessa Jowell: I think it is perfectly possible that, as the park develops, and Robin is on the Board of the Olympic Park Legacy Company as is Jules Pipe as Mayor of Hackney because the then Secretary of State for Communities and I were very keen that the local communities were represented, they will have a role in shaping the park in the future and they may decide that they want to put other facilities in. It is important to remember that we are designing a park for the Olympics and we are doing more than any other country, any host city has ever done before to anticipate, plan and invest in legacy use. That does not mean that after the Games are over the structure and content of the Park is going to be set in amber; it will develop in the light of what the local community wants, what is commercially attractive, what the kind of latest sporting craze is, I am absolutely sure of that, but you cannot lay all that responsibility at the door of the Olympics.

  Q154  Mr Ainsworth: Can we move on to the structure of the thing.

  Tessa Jowell: The structure of the?

  Q155  Mr Ainsworth: Of the way—

  Tessa Jowell: Of the Aquatics Centre?

  Q156  Mr Ainsworth: No, moving away from the Aquatics Centre and flume to the actual sort of structure of the Olympic Park Legacy Company which itself received a bit of a mixed press when it was set up with accusations that here goes another Olympic gravy train and all this kind of thing. What actually has the new company achieved that could not have been achieved if the whole matter had been left with the LDA?

  Mr Malik: Well, the LDA pretty obviously has a much broader focus; the LDA is for the whole of London. It is pretty obvious what is achieved by having the OPLC; it is a specific focus on that area, but not just for the short term because the ODA obviously, from May 2013, will be handing over to the OPLC and their job will be working with the ODA in terms of marketing the site and ensuring that there is a master plan in place.

  Q157  Mr Ainsworth: Hang on. If the chief benefit is to have brought focus, whatever that may have delivered, would it not have been a good idea to have set up the Legacy Company earlier than May last year, or did you not need to be focused before then?

  Mr Malik: I think the point that Tessa was making, and it is the only way you can put this in perspective, is whatever you think we are and whatever you think we started, it is an undeniable truth that we are far ahead of any previous Olympic venue in terms of legacy, so we can say, "Well, maybe it should have started earlier", and maybe it should, or "Maybe it should have started later" or "Maybe we shouldn't have it", but the point is undeniable that we are light years ahead of any other Olympic venue in terms of thinking about legacy and getting structures in place now. In fact, the legacy has already started and the benefits are already there and they will accrue considerably over the next 20 years or so, but I think, and forgive me, my background is regeneration, so it is very unusual to have a ministerial role that you have got some expertise in, I know, but to me it makes absolute sense to have a focused outfit, probably an NDPB when we get to that stage, that oversees the development and which has got local stakeholders who are making decisions as well as experts, so I think there is a tremendous regeneration and economic logic for having it, and perhaps it could have been earlier.

  Q158  Mr Ainsworth: What were the start-up costs of the OPLC?

  Mr Malik: Well, in 2009/10 approximately £5 million for the OPLC.

  Mr Cox: The start-up costs were actually very small, basically staff time inside DCLG, the GLA and then in DCMS. Their running costs are around about £7.5 million a year and about £5 million of that is coming from the LDA because the LDA has transferred staff across to the OPLC, so the LDA is saving money by doing that. The extra is to meet the costs of their senior staff and other running costs.

  Q159  Mr Ainsworth: There seems to be some mystery over the salaries of senior people, including the Chairman and the Chief Executive. Are you prepared to tell us what they are today?

  Mr Cox: I think the Chief Executive, from memory, is on about—

  Mr Malik: We can write to you rather than give you a figure here which we are not sure about.

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