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Delivering a usable local legacy

On 15th January leaders of the five London 'Host Boroughs' submitted a written memorandum to the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport. This outlined their concerns about how well the ODA were likely to supply adequate design and financing to a sustainable social legacy for the people of those boroughs.

Below are some extracts from the (uncorrected) oral evidence those leaders gave to the DCMS Committee.

Sir Robin Wales Mayor of Newham:
The more we look at the Games, the larger it becomes and the more opportunities it generates, and as you look at previous Games I think it is a journey of understanding. It is much bigger than any of us realised.

Obviously, there will be pressure. We worked with the ODA to put together a joint local authority team that can give local authority services in the Park, and we have done very well with the ODA and done some work with that, but clearly we are going to have to talk to LOCOG in identifying that. One of the things I would want to particularly stress with this whole thing is the need to have debates early and actually opening up the issues of concern, so that those things are widely debated in public, which we think will, in the end, come to some sort of resolution.

I will say that, at the moment, in the governance structure we have got in order to enable us to get decisions, we have about one of the best governance structures on regeneration and one that involves the boroughs fundamentally, and we think it is a very good structure. It was a bit of a struggle to get there but we have got something that we are able to engage with. So there will be issues. Are they resolved yet? No. Would we expect them to be resolved yet? No. Do we need to have that debate? Yes.

Jules Pipe Mayor of London Borough of Hackney:
On the point of the additional costs to the boroughs, since our submission the ODA has put forward £32 million for the public realm issues in the periphery of the Park, actually within the boroughs. So the principle has been set that they acknowledge the costs, and now the debate has got to move on between the five boroughs, the ODA, LOCOG and everyone about, say, the regulatory issues that will arise not just during the Games but, also, in the lead-up and the construction.

Q316 Philip Davies MP. (Shipley, Conservative):
In a nutshell, what you are saying is you want all the benefits of having the Games but none of the costs?

Sir Robin Wales:
No, I do not think we are saying that. If we are going to not develop on Greenfield sites - we are going to have to develop on brown-field sites - there is a cost to that. We develop across the country; we invest money in projects across the country. I would not dream of opposing some of the developments going on.

What we are saying is that given the level of deprivation we have got - I will give you an interesting fact: we know that the people moving into Newham are poorer than the people moving out. So, effectively, what we do is take in poorer people, we work with them, we have over 100 languages at school, we work with these people, we get them in a position where they are more aspirational and they move out, and so we import more poverty.

We have, in my borough, 18,000 people who have never, ever worked - never, ever worked - in their lives. The non-employment level in Tower Hamlets is the lowest in the country, Hackney is the second-lowest and we are the third-lowest, in Newham. So what I think we are saying is that the investment that is coming to East London - it is high time that investment went in.

It is going into the poorest area in this country. So what we are looking to do is maximise that benefit in two ways. One is the development issue. It is interesting, one could make an argument that the Olympics is only the third-largest regeneration scheme in Newham, because we have Stratford City and we have the Docks, but we are also trying to inspire people to get them to move into work.

So what we have tried to do is take a substantial investment of public money and try to transform our population, their expectancy and their aspirations. At every stop on the District Line between Westminster and Newham, there is one year less life expectancy. We have to do something about this. This is a proper investment in an area. It is a massive task, it is a big investment and we need to try to use it so that in the future the East End of London will not be the poor place it is.

Q317 Philip Davies:
Finally, after the Games, in your submission you said that you had a fear that the desire to generate as much revenue as possible to repay the Treasury and the Lottery might lead to unacceptable pressures on the development of the area in an unsustainable way. I am sure you have just heard the Mayor's Office and the LDA assure us all that it would all be done in a sustainable way and your fears are unfounded. Will you be reassured by what they said, or do you still maintain those same fears?

Sir Robin Wales:
I think it is fair to say that the establishment of the steering group that we have set up,......,is a major step forward involving the boroughs in the legacy. Yes, we have concerns. We must have concerns at this point, because if we do not have them we cannot address them.

In Canning Town we are currently in the middle of a £3.4 billion project to knock down and replace a load of housing that was built after the War. We cannot allow that to happen again, where we build a load of housing and then knock it down in 50 years. We need to develop communities. Our job in the boroughs is to fight to develop those communities so that they are sustainable in the long term. I think there is a recognition from all the parties (the ODA, the LDA, particularly the Mayor of London); they are very keen to make sure that there is a legacy and that the communities are there.

....if there is pressure put on to pay money back before we develop those communities, that would be a mistake. I would urge the Select Committee to be taking a view that said: "Make this work so we eradicate poverty in the East End, as far as we can", because in the long term that will pay more money back in taxes and we will actually pay back the money that is being invested.

I am confident that we will find ways forward. However, we have not got solutions at the moment. One of the things, I think, that is frustrating in this debate is that we are trying (Athens did their legacy after the Olympics) to work this through early, and if we do not have answers it is because we are actually trying to raise the question so we can find answers.

At the moment, it seems to me that some of those answers are coming forward in a timely manner. Rightly, we will be raising questions about the costs during the Games, but we have raised questions about the costs building up to the Games, and some of that has been answered. Not fully, as Jules [Pipe] said, but they have established the principle and we move on and discuss it.

Jules Pipe:
There is a similar tension around the Inernational Broadcasting Centre. It arises from the same thing that we have already touched on before: initially there is the drive to get it right for the Games and get on because they have got to let contracts. At the moment there are still two consortia involved who are vying to build the IBC, and hopefully that will be sorted by February and they will know which consortia is going forward.

It is absolutely vital then that that consortia and the ODA talk to the array of broadcasters and recording industry people and others that we have put together that we want to see as the end-users, because they are saying to us they are not going to be interested in taking on that venue afterwards if they have not had some input into the spec, and it is something that they will be interested in.

Whilst, yes, okay, we will end up with a shed that someone is going to want to pay a lot of money for afterwards, it does not do that trick that I spoke about before about changing the reputation of the area. Soho cannot give the power supplies to the creative and film and broadcasting industry, Hoxton is bursting at the seams with digital and creative media industries; they want somewhere new where the location is right, it is accessible and all the power supplies are there, and all the support that they need.

This location, the IBC, the Media Press Centre and the surrounding areas is absolutely ideal for that, but we will lose the opportunity for that to happen if the ODA do not do as they have committed they will do. They have committed to do this, but they must do this. Come February/March, when we know who the contractor and the consortium is, they must start talking to those people that we and Hackney borough have actually put in front of them.

Attached below is the Memorandum which was submitted to the Select Committee by the five London 'Host Boroughs'.

See also: Newham 2012

5 Host Boroughs evidence 15 Jan 2008.doc107 KB

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