Keeping the flame alive: the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy - Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Contents


As a part of its inquiry, the Committee visited the Olympic Park, the Peacock Gym and St Luke's Community Centre (both in Canning Town) and Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney Wick.

The following members took part in the visit:

Lord Addington

The Earl of Arran

Lord Bates

Lord Best

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

Lord Harris of Haringey (Chairman)

Baroness King of Bow

Lord Stoneham of Droxford

Baroness Wheatcroft

Lord Wigley

They were accompanied by the following House of Lords staff: Clare Ramsaran (press and publicity officer)Duncan Sagar (clerk)Matthew Smith (policy analyst)

The Olympic Park

The Committee were taken around the Olympic Park by representatives of the Mayor's London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), including Dennis Hone (Chief Executive) and Paul Brickell (Executive Director, Regeneration and Community Partnerships).

The visit started at the Copper Box where the Committee were given a short presentation by a representative of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which has a 10 year contract with LLDC to run the Copper Box and the Aquatic Centre. LLDC explained that the Copper Box was more profitable than the Aquatic Centre and would therefore provide a cross-subsidy if they were operated by the same company. We were told about GLL's "school's forum" programme, whereby children from local primary schools are invited to use the Copper Box as an initial experience of high level facilities, with those demonstrating enthusiasm or aptitude for a sport are put on a pathway in that sport with the eventual aim of integrating the children in local sports clubs. Twenty schools from the surrounding boroughs were currently participating in this scheme and GLL hoped to grow the scheme further. The Copper Box would serve as host to a number of events over the coming year, working with boxing promoter Frank Warren to hold six bouts, hosting basketball games and a badminton grand prix, as well as hosting home fixtures for local handball and netball teams. Most of the Copper Box's income came from hosting such events, but their intention was to increase the income from community use, which should expand over time. During the week, the Copper Box was dedicated to PE teaching for local schools from 09.00 to 16.00 and from 16.00 onwards was available for sports clubs. A new gymnasium onsite was also open to the public. LLDC stressed their ongoing work to improve pedestrian routes into the park from nearby stations, which would help groups of children to access the Copper Box.

The Committee moved on to iCity, and was given a tour of BT Sport's facilities. Jamie Hindhaugh, BT Sport's Chief Operating Officer, explained that four factors had attracted BT Sport to iCity:

·  The transport links, particularly significant to a company seeking to operate over 24 hours;

·  Access to talent, which he felt gave London a comparative advantage over other locations in the UK;

·  The dimensions of the building, with 33 feet ceilings and few support posts offering ample studio space; and

·  The 2012 Games' legacy, which was attractive to BT Sport as a large sponsor of the Games themselves.

BT Sport had moved in more quickly than anticipated, driven by the deadline of needing to be operational by the start of the English Premier League season in August 2013. Its studio facilities had been built from scratch in 21 weeks. BT Sports created a number of additional jobs, using Hackney's 'Way to Work Scheme'. Many of the graphics and production teams had relocated to iCity from the more traditional media base in West London. The Committee heard details of BT Sport's partnership with Loughborough University, and the utilisation of LED studio lights which would make the studios particularly energy efficient.

The Committee transferred to the Peacock Gym in Canning Town. The Gym had received no funding from the Games, but served as a designated training centre for Olympic boxers, wrestlers and martial artists. The Committee heard that the presence of these elite athletes had generated "a real buzz" for local members of the Gym. The Committee met mentors involved in the Gym's academy scheme, in which 72 local young people had enrolled. The scheme sought to use boxing and box-fit programmes to develop self-esteem and to tackle drug and gang-related problems in the community. Although the majority of users of the Gym were male, the academy had a broadly even gender balance.

At the Canning Town and Custom House Renewal Project, also in Canning Town, the Committee met a range of local people and discussed the impact of the Games on the lives and prospects of people in the area. Although some of the people present had directly benefited by employment at the new Westfield shopping centre, the majority view was that employment opportunities in retail and construction had gone to people from outside the area and a perception that the jobs which had be created were fewer in number and worse paid than had been expected. There seemed to be a low level of awareness of how to apply for employment opportunities and a sense that the Local Authorities could do more. Residents had been discomfited during the run-up to the Games by traffic disruption caused by the construction of the Olympic Park. Those who had been involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in some way were very positive about the opportunity it afforded to "shake hands with the world" but felt that the communities were left "fractured" in the wake of the Games. The "dead area" between the overground railway tracks to Stratford and Canning Town itself was a concern, as was the accessibility of the facilities in the Park for those with groups of children. Others were positive about the future, describing the Games' legacy as being "all about what happens next"; Newham would eventually see financial benefits in the long-run from the ownership of the Olympic Stadium and in the mean time local school children would benefit free tickets to Premier League Games during West Ham United's tenancy.

The Committee concluded its visit by meeting children, parents and teachers at Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney Wick. The children, aged nine and ten years, had taken part in the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in July 2012. The children's perception was that sport had played a greater role in their education since the Games, and a number told the Committee of their ambition, inspired by the Games, to become athletes in sports ranging from track athletics to taekwondo. The children were having more of their P.E. delivered offsite, using the facilities at the Park. Children and parents had suffered disruption as a result of the building work, but there was evident pride in East London for having hosted the Games and enthusiasm for future events to be hosted, albeit in a different part of the country. The head-teacher described the current arrangements for the teaching of P.E., which was outsourced to a specialist. Teachers were very willing to play a greater role, but would need further training first.

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