Written evidence from the London Assembly's Economic Development, Culture,

Sport and Tourism (EDCST) Committee (OLL 06)

 

This submission is designed to support the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee inquiry into the preparations for securing a lasting legacy from the 2012 Games. The submission summarises the findings of the EDCST Committee's work on assessing progress made towards meeting the Mayor's five legacy commitments.

 

Introduction

 

1. The London Assembly has a responsibility to Londoners to monitor the preparations leading up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (the Games) and the legacy that will be left for the capital. In particular, the Assembly has a role because of the Mayor's involvement as signatory to the Host City Contract, because Londoners are paying a specific contribution of 625m through the Council Tax and GLA bodies are involved in delivering related infrastructure and services.

 

2. The EDCST Committee is the London Assembly's lead committee for monitoring and reporting on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Committee's work programme includes specific projects that focus on the short-term preparations for the Games, such as the ability of small businesses to compete for Games-related procurement contracts, and longer term legacy issues, such as sporting pathways for disabled youngsters and the role of the Olympic Park Legacy Company.[1]

 

3. The Committee places a particular focus on the delivery of the Mayor's five legacy commitments, which mirror the five national legacy commitments established in June 2008. London's legacy commitments are to:

 

increase opportunities for Londoners to become involved in sport;

ensure Londoners benefit from new jobs, businesses and volunteering opportunities;

transform the heart of east London;

deliver a sustainable Games and developing sustainable communities;

showcase London as a diverse, creative and welcoming city.

 

Summary of "Towards a Lasting Legacy"

 

4. In July 2009, the EDCST Committee published an initial assessment ("Towards a Lasting Legacy") of the progress and likely outcome of the work being undertaken by the main delivery partners to meet those five commitments. In summary, our report[2] found that progress towards creating a lasting legacy for London from the 2012 Games is mixed. In particular:

 

The achievement of transforming the industrial land at the Olympic Park site has been breathtaking, but the Committee has a number of concerns as to how the future viability of the Park will be secured.

Significant efforts are being made to support Londoners in securing access to skill and job opportunities arising from the Games but the real benefits to local people are modest.

Innovative work on-site should deliver an "environmentally sustainable Games" but much still needs to be done on the ground to boost sports participation and to prepare an effective tourism strategy for 2012.

 

Progress towards delivery of the Mayor's five legacy commitments

 

5. The following paragraphs summarise the Committee's initial findings in more detail. A response from the Mayor was published in October.[3]

 

Legacy commitment 1: To increase opportunities for Londoners to become involved in sport

 

6. The Committee believes that while it will be "very challenging" for London to deliver a lasting legacy in sports participation, the Mayor has laid important early foundations to meet the challenge. However, the Committee highlighted a number of concerns including the lack of a fully articulated framework and detailed comparative work showing how sports participation can actually be increased by harnessing the marketing power of hosting the Games. Creating venues will not, in and of itself, be enough. The Committee recommended that the Mayor should be prepared to look at the promotion of a "SportsOyster" card which could give residents free or discounted access to a variety of activities for them to try and develop as their interest grows. The Committee also recommend further Mayoral actions to help deliver on Lord Coe's promise that in delivering the 2012 Paralympic Games, London "would set new standards for services, facilities and opportunities for people with a disability".

 

Legacy commitment 2: To ensure Londoners benefit from new jobs, businesses and volunteering opportunities

 

7. The Committee welcomes the intensive effort that the LDA and ODA are taking to develop the employment and skills legacy for local residents from preparation work for hosting the Games. The Committee congratulated the ODA on meeting its own targets but questioned whether the targets are sufficiently challenging.

 

8. Evidence from previous Summer Games is that the substantial gains in temporary employment will go into reverse after the Games and that any permanent employment legacy is likely to be modest. Post-Games evaluation studies in Sydney indicate that around 2,500 permanent jobs were created by inward investment and from company relocations. The next step is to build quickly on the work of the ODA to develop a broader skills strategy that will support service provision across the skill spectrum from security jobs, to hospitality, waste management, event management to media and IT-based employment. Such is the true potential for the Games to generate a substantial boost in the employability levels of local people.

 

9. Furthermore, the strategy then needs to link into the development plans for Stratford City and the recently announced proposals for new higher education facilities and the 'Green Enterprise District' that has been proposed in the Mayor's draft London Plan.[4]

 

10. The Committee welcomes the commitment to a long-term goal of embedding relevant skills that could deliver short-term jobs during Olympics in the local workforce and so boost long-term career prospects. The challenge is acute, as unemployment has increased in the five host boroughs by 48 per cent between summer 2008 and summer 2009[5], so the LDA and ODA's good work is likely to be undermined by the broader UK recession.

 

Legacy commitment 3: To transform the heart of east London

 

11. There is much to welcome in the work of the ODA and LDA in the transformation of the main Olympic Park site. It has been a breathtaking feat of engineering and project management. It has progressed ahead of schedule and despite pressures of budget and timing the overall look of the park remains largely unchanged from what was promised. The Committee welcomes the early commitment of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, which owns 20 per cent of the Olympic Park, which have also agreed to take over responsibility for the management and maintenance of the Olympic Park's Velo Park.

 

12. However, in terms of taking the park's legacy forward beyond 2012 there has been rather slow progress in the establishment of the Legacy Delivery Company (now the Olympic Park Legacy Company, OPLC[6]) that is tasked with providing the strategic leadership. The task for the OPLC is significant; it will have neither planning powers nor control of the land and will have to negotiate with the five host boroughs and other stakeholders. The Committee has expressed particular concerns that the body set up to manage the legacy has no dedicated budget.

 

13. The Committee met with Baroness Ford and Andrew Altman, the Chair and Chief Executive of the Olympic park Legacy Company in October.[7] Discussion focused on how the OPLC will engage with local communities, stimulate business interest and investment and ensure that a range of sectors are able to 'piggy-back' on the interest generated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The OPLC will need to articulate a framework for how they will begin to facilitate the creation of the 'soft' legacy benefits of jobs and environmental improvements from the 'hard' legacy of buildings and empty land.

 

14. The Committee has expressed concern over previous legacy plans, including:

 

the lack of a clear articulation of the links between the 'hard' legacy of venues and buildings and the 'soft' economic and social regeneration targets

the lack of legacy tenants and

the lack of clear sequencing of housing development and the community assets.

 

15. Despite the aspirations there is still no identified tenant to take over the management and maintenance of the stadium post-Games. The Assembly has consistently expressed concern about the long-term future of the main stadium. For without a credible anchor tenant to bring regular foot-fall into the park there will be serious doubts as to the future financial viability of the venue and hence attractiveness of the park site to business investment. The iconic Chinese National Stadium, popularly known as the 'Bird's Nest', was the centrepiece of the Beijing Games. However, it has no anchor tenant and has become dependent upon the visits of Chinese and other tourists as a source of revenue. It is highly unlikely the tourism market alone would generate sufficient income for London's Olympic Stadium to be commercially viable, without other significant sources of revenue.

 

Legacy commitment 4: To deliver a sustainable Games and developing sustainable communities

 

16. There is much to welcome in the steps taken so far to ensure environmental sustainability is embedded in designs and procurement processes. The Committee welcome the recent publication by London 2012 of its first sustainability guidelines for corporate and public events. The document contains information on ten aspects of events management, including choosing a venue, sourcing products and services and energy consumption. However, concerns have been raised that the carbon management strategy will come too late to influence key decisions around venue design, energy management and tourist strategy.

 

17. The London Assembly's Environment Committee produced a report on the future for recycling 'On The Go' in May 2009.[8] The report makes the case for the Games to be zero-waste by drawing on best practice currently being adopted at other event arenas such as Earls Court. Making the Games zero-waste will act as a catalyst for infrastructure investment to support recycling across east London. With the government funding the construction of the Athletes' Village in full, we believe it is important that the Village is the first instalment of a zero carbon Lee Valley.

 

Legacy commitment 5: To showcase London as a diverse, creative and welcoming city

 

18. The Committee welcomed the publication of the draft Tourism Action Plan and the long-term vision that will use the 2012 Games as a springboard to greater success in drawing in tourists from across the globe. Many aspects of the plan, however, were underdeveloped. Budgetary implications were lacking, as were detailed milestones to success. The Committee was concerned that, given the experience of other cities that planned long in advance of actually staging the Games, London was missing the boat.[9]

 

19. The London Tourism Action Plan 2009-2013 was published in September 2009. In response the Committee wrote to the London Development Agency to comment that the final version of the plan had changed very little from the original draft. Furthermore it addressed very few of the weaknesses the Committee highlighted in its response to the draft plan.

 

Conclusion

 

20. The Committee continues to undertake a range of work to monitor preparations for the Olympic legacy for London, across a number of issues. We meet regularly with those responsible for delivering the legacy, including recent meetings with the Olympic Park Legacy Company, the Mayor's office, the host boroughs, and with independent experts. We hope the findings from our work will prove valuable to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee

 

January 2010



[1] A full list of the London Assembly's work on the preparations of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is available at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/scrutiny/2012/index.jsp

[2] The full report can be found at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/culture/edcst-2012-legacy.pdf

[3] The response from the Mayor is available at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/edcst/2009/oct21/item13.pdf

[4] The London Plan: Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London: Consultation draft replacement plan, Greater London Authority, October 2009

[5] Based on the number of Jobseekers' Allowance claimants. Office for National Statistics, August 2009

[6] The EDCST committee launched its inquiry into the governance of the Olympic Park on 21 October.

[7] The transcript for the Committee's meeting on 21 October with Baroness Ford and Andrew Altman is available at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/edcst/2009/oct21/minutes/transcript.pdf

[8] http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/environment/on-the-go-may09.pdf

[9] The Committee's response is available at http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/reports/culture/edcst-tourism-action-plan.pdf.