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Access to the site is difficult, as many of your Lordships know, as it is blocked by waterways, dual carriageways and railways. However, those barriers of rail and water have now been turned to advantage, allowing the more efficient delivery of materials and helping to achieve sustainability targets. The target of using water-in other words, barges-and rail to shift half of all materials has been exceeded. Over the construction period, 4 million tonnes of goods will be moved by rail, saving 120,000 tonnes of carbon and reducing congestion on the roads around London.
My final example is the aquatic centre-perhaps the iconic symbol of the Games. This is the site on which a lot of media and public attention will focus. Everyone knows about the design and the architect, but I think that people are less aware of the detail of the massive construction and the challenges that have had to be faced in order to deliver that design. The 3,000-tonne steel roof was fabricated offsite and assembled on to temporary supports. Then the so-called big lift began. It is fair to say that you could feel, even measure, the tension in the air as the structure was moved literally inch by inch on to its three permanent supports. The steel trusses were fabricated in Newport and the plate was produced in Gateshead, Motherwell and Scunthorpe-it has been a great UK-wide project.
As an ODA board member, I am rather proud of the innovation that has been achieved so far in design, in health and safety, in planning and in the pioneering work in sustainable construction. I am also proud of the effect on employment, about which my noble friend the Minister has spoken. I hope that there will be a wider and longer-term effect in raising the levels of interest among those still at school not just in sport but in the great opportunities that will be open to them in engineering, construction, planning and the development of Britain in the coming decades.
No doubt others will be more negative and I do not belittle for a minute the huge challenges that lie ahead of us, but I hope that we can pause today to celebrate what has been achieved by some extremely talented unsung heroes around the country and the teams of workers involved in the planning and construction of the site on a day-to-day basis.
Baroness Coussins: My Lords, as chair of the All-Party Group on Modern Languages, I have been in close touch with various organisations concerned with language skills and their importance to the success of the 2012 Games. There is a genuine wish that London should be willing and able to demonstrate our ability to welcome and interact with the teams and visitors from more than 200 countries through the confident use of many languages, not just English. We have much of the raw material at our fingertips in a richly multilingual capital city, as more than 300 languages are used by Londoners. Sadly, however, some of the people with exactly the language skills that we need to harness do not necessarily yet feel that their skills are being recognised or used.
In addition, as I flagged up in the previous debate on this subject in June last year, I believe that there is still a great deal that could be done to link the language needs of the Games to what is happening with the teaching of languages in schools. The pay-off would be not just a greater engagement with the Games in 2012 but a hugely important aspect of the long-term legacy of the Games in helping to equip more young people with a critical skill to enhance their future employability.
My understanding is that around 150 professional interpreters are to be recruited. I should be interested to know more about the competitive tender specifications list and the timetable. In particular, I hope that LOCOG will ensure that the language talent already in London will be used. I suggest that it consults the Institute of Linguists in order to access the network of people who hold the diploma in public service interpreting. This diploma is for those who work in hospitals, with the police or in the courts. With about 1,000 people a year taking the diploma, demand has never been higher. Around 50 different languages, combined with English, were on offer in 2009. There will also be 1,500 language volunteers and I am keen to know more about how they will be identified and managed.
The Capital L group has been working with Sports Leaders UK to get schools and FE colleges to understand the importance of languages and the opportunities that the Olympics will offer. Capital L has also been working with the organisation Podium Skills on workshops for students, but I understand that the funding for this ends in March this year and I wonder whether there any plans to fill the gap that this will leave.
I mention especially the work of the Welcoming the World programme, run by Regional Language Network London. This is the programme designed to help prepare businesses for the Games. This could range from help with translating signage and brochures to training staff in basic language skills and intercultural awareness. We know that companies, both large and
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So far, more than 60 companies have sent staff to Welcoming the World training sessions. These include international hotel chains, tourist attractions, museums and galleries, food and clothes stores, restaurants and transport companies. Until now, the initiative has been supported financially by the London Development Agency, but this funding will cease in April this year, at which point the Welcoming the World resources will be available only on a commercial, paid-for basis. To ensure continued take-up and the resulting benefits for London's businesses and the London Games, companies will need to be loudly and enthusiastically encouraged by LOCOG and others to realise that the language and cultural skills on offer are an essential part of what they need to succeed.
To me-and, I am sure, to many other noble Lords-this might seem an obvious message but, unfortunately, the people running Welcoming the World are finding it frustratingly difficult to convince others in a position to support their work to do so, or to benefit from their services. For example, their offer to adapt the programme for training volunteers has been declined and funding applications to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Higher Education Funding Council have not been successful, apparently because there is not a close enough fit with their criteria and priorities.
It is a depressing uphill struggle to get these language issues on the map and recognised as a core part of the overall preparations for 2012. There needs to be a pretty quick step change in official recognition by the Games' organisers. I hope that, by highlighting this work in your Lordships' House today, I can do something to trigger a turnaround in attitude. Language skills should not just be an afterthought or something that will be taken care of by volunteers on the day. There is professional specialist preparation to be done.
For the Barcelona Games in 1992, the organising committee set up a language service department four and a half years before the start of the event. The official report for the 1992 Games highlighted that this foresight was shown to be more than justified. In Sydney in 2000, there was more financial support for language services, training and volunteers than in any previous Games. London 2010 presents the UK with an unprecedented opportunity to shed its monolingual image and project the vibrant multiculturalism that contributed to our success in winning the Games in the first place. I appeal to all noble Lords with an influence in the preparations for 2012, whether in government, LOCOG, the Olympic Park Legacy Company or elsewhere, to speak up about languages and make sure that this opportunity is not wasted.
Lord James of Blackheath: My Lords, I will compress my comments into a series of questions only. We greatly appreciate the update that we have received
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I start with Hackney Marshes. When we first heard of the development plans for the 2012 Olympics, we were told about the media centre which was going to be placed on Hackney Marshes. It was going to cost £14 million and was to be sold as a going concern afterwards to recover the cash. We very swiftly found that it was going to cost £42 million, not £14 million, three times the original cost. We have had no update since then about whether it is to be sold as a going concern. Can we please be informed whether it is there as a permanent entity? Will the nation own it, or will it be sold as a commercial venture? Is the money coming back for it? Can we have an update on what happened there, please?
Relating to the same site, we believe that the media centre was going to be built on what was known as the arena centre for the 120 football pitches, and the leagues which play there, on Hackney Marshes. We were told that arrangements would be made for the relocation of the arena centre, which is a very aspirational target for the young people of Hackney who do not have much else. Has that relocation of the arena centre been achieved? On what footing will it be provided and when will it be available for the young people of Hackney, please?
Moving from Hackney to the Olympic Village itself, we have two or three important questions, all of which we have discussed. The first concerns the question that was raised by the padre appointed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, in whose diocese this is located, who heard great disquiet expressed by the workforce undertaking the excavations on the village site due to the large deposits of radioactive material that were lodged there, having emanated from various London hospitals over many years. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, made a Statement to the House in which he said that it was all down to the phosphorous on the control panel of a crashed Spitfire which had embedded itself in the marsh at that point. No, it was not. This has been a site of intensive radioactive deposit for 80 years since X-rays became a major factor in London hospitals. How successful was the removal of this material before the workforce had to engage directly with it, and what steps were taken to protect them?
The other issue concerning the Olympic Village, which was much discussed on numerous occasions, is whether the delivery unit has succeeded in getting satisfactory clearance from the Islamic religious authorities in this country as regards the compatibility of the dwellings being provided for private worship. Some seven different requirements had to be met. Having built an Islamic village for a university campus in Libya 25 years back, I know to my cost that very sensitive issues are involved. I remember having to
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Moving from the problems of the dwellings to the issues of religion itself, we had a very strange Statement-I think that it was again made by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham-on the arrangements that were being made for the building of temples, mosques and buildings for Christian worship, but I have no recollection of being told that there would also be a synagogue. Are we omitting the Jewish faith from any religious representation on the site? What arrangements will be made to include them? It is not tactful not to include them in the present circumstances. I should like an update on that, please. As regards the Dome, do the Government now have a satisfactory arrangement in place-the DCMS did this very successfully indeed; I do not say much that is nice about the DCMS, so that is a notable point-for sharing the Christian facility among the various Christian denominations on a shared timetable so that everybody can participate fairly?
The next area that we need to look at is that of Greenwich Park, not because of whether it is in or out-I am assuming that that is a done deal-but because there are points of detail on which an update would be hugely welcome. Is it correct that the survey work has discovered that the small fragment of Roman remains that were there is part of a much larger and more important Roman site? In that case, it would be the biggest Roman site that has been discovered anywhere in the greater London area for more than 100 years and will have huge historical value. What steps are being taken to preserve that site and protect it from construction traffic and the hoof beats to come so that it can be excavated properly after the Olympics have ended? It is of huge cultural benefit if it is true that it is as big as is said.
Has there been a resolution of the siting of the water jump for the three-day event? The last we heard, there could not be an assurance that the duck pond, which has the greatest single collection of wildfowl in this country, was not going to be destroyed to make way for the water jump. Since there could not be an answer to my noble friend Lady Trumpington's question on this, will the Minister now give an assurance that the cricket field and the rugby field will not be concreted over to make car parking within the environs of the park?
We have heard nothing whatever about the merchandising plans. Here, I offer the awful warning of the Dome's experience, where we had a £27 million profit projected on total sales of £48 million. We ended up with a £7 million loss on sales of £32 million. They started too late and they did not know what they were doing. The DCMS labours under the dreadful misapprehension that it is a brilliant retailer because it
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Baroness Valentine: My Lords, it is always a challenge to follow the noble Lord, Lord James. I declare an interest, in that I am chief executive of London First, a non-profit-making business organisation which has consistently supported the Games coming to London, particularly for their legacy. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, has taken on the challenge of delivering that legacy in east London. I will focus today on four issues: business opportunities; the use of the Olympic Park before the Games; delivering on our transport promises; and the opportunity for all of London to celebrate being the host city.
As the Minister mentioned earlier, CompeteFor was established by the regional development agencies as a procurement portal to help businesses, particularly smaller ones, compete for a share of Olympic contracts. I should declare that, while receiving no financial benefit, my organisation, London First, has provided a home for CompeteFor's small team. I am glad that we did so, for it now has 100,000 registered UK businesses. Both the ODA and LOCOG are placing contracts on the system and encouraging their suppliers to do likewise.
Beyond Olympic contracts, CompeteFor has now been adopted as a procurement tool by other public bodies, including Transport for London and several boroughs; so CompeteFor is delivering a legacy benefit now. The Minister may be unaware that the Government seem intent on commissioning another procurement portal, which would duplicate both their own Supply2Gov and the successful CompeteFor portal. I welcome the Government's ambition to open up government contracting opportunities to the nation's SMEs. But surely this could be done more economically by adapting what we already have.
Secondly, I add my congratulations to the Olympic Delivery Authority on the advanced state of its preparations. I recently visited the site again. It is an impressive hive of well managed, bustling activity, huge progress and is a remarkable transformation. The park may even be completed a year early. In a rather British way, we seem to be regarding this as a problem. Surely we should regard it as an opportunity. Why not offer the many companies that have contributed to building the park the opportunity to lease all or part of the park for a week at a time to show international clients around? This would animate the park, show off what British business can do and generate an income to cover some of the caretaking costs.
My third point is a gentle reminder. Increased capacity on the Northern Line by 2012 was promised to the IOC as part of London's bid. The Minister's colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, must bang heads together at London Underground and contractor Tube Lines to make sure that as well as learning lessons from the Jubilee Line upgrade, the timely
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Finally, the organisation of the noble Lord, Lord Coe, LOCOG, has jumped through many hoops in order to remain on track to meet commercial sponsorship targets, in a very tough fundraising environment. Noble Lords will wish to note, however, that the supplement on Londoners' council tax will raise some £600 million towards the Games, so London is contributing much more than any individual corporate sponsor.
For understandable reasons, the organisers are wary about protecting the brand. They are protective about the word "Olympic", and about "Games", and "gold", "silver", and "bronze". Even mentioning London and 2012 in the same sentence can result in a shot across the bows from the brand police of the noble Lord, Lord Coe. We should be building the excitement. My worry is that the reputation earned by LOCOG's stormtroopers threatens to undermine the potential for London and the UK fully to embrace the sporting celebration ahead. Such is the absence of branding in and around the city, Londoners and visitors might not be aware of the Games taking place.
London should be given the status of so-called tier 1 sponsorship, including branding opportunities. Surely we should see Mayor of London posters, badged as Olympic host city, on our transport systems. Those posters should be in the arrivals lounges at Heathrow and city airports, on some of our red buses, on Tube platforms and in carriages, on taxis, and even on the Mayor's new hire bicycles. This will not damage the value to the commercial sponsors of the Games. By building awareness, anticipation and a shared sense of ownership, it could even enhance value.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I congratulate the ODA and all the other organisations on the progress made in developing the Olympic project and sites. Clearly it is a lesson for many future developments and is much better than many in the past. We have heard many supportive speeches, which is great. I fear that in my remarks I might pour a little cold water-or, rather, hot polluted air-on the project.
It all started when, as chairman of the Rail Freight Group, I expressed strong concerns about the failure of the ODA to require suppliers to use rail or water, not just for the easy bulks but also for the other structures and materials, similar to the arrangements provided by the British Airports Authority for Terminal 5 at Heathrow. It is not often that I congratulate BAA, but on that occasion it did very well. Since then there have been some improvements, such as those outlined by my noble friend Lady Morgan, but nothing like the potential if the ODA had set up common-user consolidation centres in a few places around the country to deliver materials by rail. That, I calculated, would have saved about 800,000 lorry journeys around Stratford between last year and the time of the Olympics.
I am afraid that that is just one concern that I have about air quality issues. My noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester said in his opening remarks that the Olympics are breaking new grounds of sustainability in a healthy and enjoyable environment. I hope he is right. Sadly, however, there are serious problems of air quality in the Stratford area and in London generally which, unless they are tackled urgently by the Government and the mayor, could mean that the main Olympic site will be in breach of air quality limits during the Olympics. Do we want them to be called the high-pollution Olympics? I hope not.
I spoke briefly about this during the debate on the Queen's Speech, but there have been further developments since. Two prime legal breaches of air quality in London affect the Stratford site. The first relates to the air quality laws for dangerous airborne particles which we call PM10s. Those laws have been breached in London every year since January 2005, when they entered into force. They were breached again in 2009. For example, on the Marylebone Road the allowable daily average of 50 micrograms per cubic metres was breached on 39 days, when only 35 were allowed. That was in a mild and wet year. I suggest that it could have been a lot worse in hot years such as 2003 and 2006. On 11 December 2009, the European Commission rejected the UK's application for a delay until 11 June 2011 to comply with the PM10 air quality laws for London. These laws must therefore continue in force, but will they be breached again in 2010 or 2012? The Government may even be faced with a £300 million fine from the European Commission for failure to implement these laws.
The second breach is in the air quality laws for nitrogen dioxide, NO2, which entered into force on 1 January, only five days ago. These require annual mean levels of NO2 not to exceed 40 micrograms per cubic metre and for no more than 18 hours in a year to exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre. However, last year in Brompton Road, by Harrods, the annual mean was 88 micrograms per cubic metre, and the 200 micrograms per cubic metre standard was breached 341 times-in other words, nearly daily instead of nearly monthly. There are similar figures for Marylebone Road according to the London Air Quality Network. The hourly standard for NO2 is likely to be breached in London by a very wide margin.
Therefore, even if the UK Government win a delay from the Commission for NO2 from 2010 to 2015, which they are apparently seeking, they must still ensure that annual average concentrations of NO2 do not exceed 60 micrograms per cubic metre, which is a long way from the figure of 107, or 88 which I have just mentioned. We have detailed maps of all the most seriously polluted areas.
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