Consistent leadership needed and responsibility and powers for East London must be given to Mayor of London
The House of Lords Committee charged with investigating the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is unconvinced that the Government’s present arrangements will deliver the legacy in an effective and robust way, says the Committee’s report, ‘Keeping the flame alive: the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy’, published today.
Chairman of the Committee, Lord Harris of Haringey, said:
“It is clear to everyone that the Olympic and Paralympic Games were an outstanding success, both for the country and for British sporting achievement. It couldn’t have been done without incredible cooperation between the numerous organisations involved, the Government and the host borough councils.
“However, since the Games, the same political impetus and agreed deadlines no longer exist and many aspects of legacy are in danger of faltering, whilst some have fallen by the wayside. There is confusion on the timeframes and targets involved in delivery and a lack of clear ownership of legacy as a whole.
“To this end, we are recommending that one Government minister should be given overall responsibility for all strands of legacy across the UK. We also believe that the Mayor of London should be given the necessary power and lead responsibility to take forward the legacy vision for East London and the development of the Olympic Park.
“The Games promised to ‘inspire a generation’. We have seen little evidence that a general post-Games step change in participation across the UK has materialised. Whilst some sports have performed well, many others were unprepared for capturing the enthusiasm of the Games. We call on the Government urgently to develop action plans to ensure that the forthcoming decade of major sports events can be leveraged to create the step change. Central to these plans should be efforts to increase the availability of adequate facilities and specialist coaches. We need to ensure that facilities at grassroots level are suitable for a broader base of people, particularly disabled people in order to capitalise on the real inspiration provided by the Paralympic Games.
“In addition, we are calling on the Department for Education and Ofsted to give greater emphasis to PE in schools and to ensure that teachers have the training and skills necessary to carry this through, particularly at primary level. At a time when the UK faces an obesity epidemic, encouraging more physically active lives is of critical importance, and school is where lifelong habits will be set.
“The ‘no compromise’ approach of UK Sport has delivered medals for Team GB and has clearly improved top end performance. This approach, however, has an inherent bias against team sports, and fails to help emerging sports, some of which, such as handball and volleyball, generated real enthusiasm at London 2012. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach for all sports, and we make the case for a different approach to be applied to developing sports which have less prospect of short term medal success.
“The 2012 London Games were an opportunity for investment, inspiration, growth and collaboration and, in many respects, they achieved just that. We looked across many sectors for the white elephants that have proved the legacy of many previous Games, and we failed to find even one. However, what is clear is that there has so far been only limited progress in building on the opportunities that the Games afforded in areas such as sports participation, transport, volunteering and regeneration. With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, hope is not yet lost, and having one person charged with the responsibility of ensuring a nation is inspired, will give us our best chance yet.”
The Committee’s report covers a number of areas including the governance of the legacy, participation in sport, the legacy of the facilities and regeneration.
Other conclusions and recommendations from the Committee include that:
the Government publishes figures setting out the true net economic benefit of hosting the Games;
the London Legacy Development Corporation should work with local authorities to ensure that local people can access employment opportunities on the Olympic Park. Local people who spoke to the Committee felt that they had seen little economic benefit from the Games;
the Department for Transport takes proper ownership of securing international train services at Stratford International station, in order to generate a return on the substantial investment made in the station;
the Government works with major public sector procurers to make CompeteFor permanently available to SMEs across a wide range of public sector procurement programmes, as it proved so successful for the Games; and
the Government, Visit Britain, UKTI and others should work to ensure that the longer-term economic benefits of the Games are felt outside southern England, where legacy benefits are currently less obvious.