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London 2012

Democratic deficit

The principal legacy of the Olympics, apart from the endless lying, seems to be they just stop people thinking. Now John Armitt has said infrastructure projects should follow the example of the Olympics - they should get cross party support and politicians shouldn't interfere! It should just be down to a quango to decide on projects like building nuclear power stations or new runways. So don't ask questions and just dish out the dosh to the corporations.


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Turning a deaf ear

One of the curiosities of the Olympics is how other groups like to be associated with it regardless of the realities on the ground. For example the Noise Abatement Society gave the ODA its so-called 'silent approach' award for its code of construction back in 2010. It specified the following:

The ODA’s Community Relations team work closely with the contractors to ensure that the construction programme has little impact on residents living close by. This is achieved through:

the provision of a free Construction Hotline

regular residents’ construction update meetings for people living closest to the park

the Corporate Social Responsibility programme and community events.


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West Ham to get hammered again?

As expected West Ham are the preferred bidders for the Olympic stadium. The usual claims of hundreds of jobs, legacy benefits, more visitors to the Park, social inclusion, community involvement and profit sharing if the club sells up accompanied the announcement. Actually, as with the rest of the Olympics, this has far more to do with property development and the prospects for making a killing on the redevelopment of the old Green Street ground. Of course, if the owners did sell out it might well be because the club was bankrupt or the owners were experiencing financial difficulties, they already have debts of over £80 million, so there might well not be any profits to share. As for the idea that a football club will attract more visitors to the Park I wasn't aware that many people visit Green Street because West Ham are located there. On the contrary, especially on match days it may have the opposite effect with people trying to avoid the crowds.


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The not so inspiring Olympics

Far from inspiring a generation to take up sport it seems the Olympics has actually been accompanied by a decline in the level of participation among the target group of young people. Sport England's latest survey shows a decline among 16 to 25 year olds from 55.7% to 54% since the Olympic bid was won in 2005. Adults and women have shown an increase, with a leap in July and August, although the rise among women follows a fall in last year's survey. The main increases have been among the better off who already enjoy far higher levels of activity while the much lower levels of participation among poorer groups have barely changed. The original target set by the previous government was to get one million more people to participate in sport three times a week in the five years to 2013. They are still 500,000 from that goal.


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'Cleaning' the city goes after the Olympics

In Egham, Surrey, miles away from the Olympic heartland of Stratford, local people are complaining that cameras installed on the A30 during the Olympics for the security of athletes staying at the University of London’s Royal Holloway College will be retained. The council at Runnymede, famous as the home of Magna Carta, has claimed ‘strategic’ reasons for retaining CCTV cameras stating that there is no need for a new planning application as the cameras are covered by permitted development legislation and that "The impact caused by the height of the cameras and poles is greatly outweighed by the advantages of retaining the cameras and their ability to support our CCTV work and the Surrey Police... in this strategic location."


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NAO rolls over on Olympics budget

Now the National Audit Office falls into line and says the London Olympics were completed 'within budget'.


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Olympics end but security stays the same

The Olympic Park remains a high security paranoia zone. It is still surrounded by the perimeter fence, although hopefully the electricity has been turned off. Anyone wishing to join an LLDC tour is sent a long list of IDs which visitors have to present before they can get on a bus. Bizarrely the A list includes a Freedom Pass alongside passports (with visas if needed!) and a variety of warrant cards. The B list includes birth, adoption and marriage certificates which are considered to be of equal value to a utility bill. Why it should be necessary to produce this kind of ID to be allowed on a bus (you’re not allowed to get off the bus) to go around the Park is unclear. But then these things have just become ‘normal’ now!


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A BT job or two for the locals?

BT has taken a lease on part of the Olympic Media Centre.


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