The Chairman of the House of Lords Committee charged with investigating the legacy left to London and the UK by the Olympic and Paralympic Games has today expressed his disappointment at the lack of movement by the Government and the Mayor of London in their response to the Committee’s report, which has been published today
Chairman of the Committee, Lord Harris of Haringey, said:
“Our report endorsed the consensus that the 2012 Games were an outstanding success which gave great credit to the UK. Despite the success of the Games, our inquiry found that many aspects of legacy are in danger of faltering, whilst some have fallen by the wayside. A key recommendation was that one Government minister should be given clear ownership for all strands of legacy across the UK. The Government have responded that this responsibility rests with the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, but it is disappointing that they have not responded positively to our suggestion that there needs to be far more joining up in Government for the legacy to be maximised.
“The Games promised to ‘inspire a generation’ but we found little evidence that a general post-Games step change in participation had materialised. Some sports have performed well, but many others were unprepared for capturing the enthusiasm of the Games. The Government’s response certainly talks the right talk, particularly on sport in school age children, but at a time when the UK faces an obesity epidemic, costing £20 billion a year, encouraging more physically active lives is of critical importance, and I think more investment than the Government are planning will be essential in the long term.
“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. In recent weeks other sports, such as Olympic basketball and Paralympic five-a-side football, have suffered similar cuts. The Government’s response restates the case for a one-size-fits-all approach for all sports, and it is disappointing that they will not be doing more to help developing sports which have less prospect of short term medal success.
“More positively, the Government’s response shows they are giving serious consideration to introducing legislation to drive the improvement of access and facilities at football grounds for spectators with disabilities.
“The regeneration legacy will be delivered over a longer timescale than any sporting legacy, but is just as important and has the potential to transform areas of East London and the lives of the people in the area. The Government and the Mayor of London’s response shows that both have grasped the importance of the Mayor’s role in leading this regeneration, working with the six ‘Growth Boroughs’. We were pleased that consideration will be given to extending the boundary of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which could promote further integration between the Olympic Park and the surrounding area.”
In its report published in November 2013, the Committee highlighted a number of challenges, recommendations and conclusions, including that:
one Government minister should be given overall responsibility for all strands of legacy across the UK;
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 Government should publish 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;
the Government should urgently develop action plans to ensure that the forthcoming decade of major sports events can be leveraged to create the step change, including making more effort to increase the availability of adequate facilities and specialist coaches for a broader base of people, including the disabled;
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;
the Department for Education and Ofsted should give greater emphasis to PE in schools and ensure that teachers have the training and skills necessary to carry this through, particularly at primary level; 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.
Now that the Government has responded, the Committee report will be debated in the House of Lords in due course.