Securing an Olympic legacy will be an important challenge for whoever is Mayor of London and this morning Boris Johnson launches a special Olympics Manifesto.
“This Sunday the Mayoral Development Corporation will be called into being specifically charged with getting long term value.
“We will not spend a penny more on legacy budgets than we have planned, so that Londoners no longer have to pay for Ken Livingstone’s billions of walnut whips. And yet we will deliver 11,000 new homes and 10,000 jobs in the park alone. We will use the Olympics as a trigger to unleash jobs and regeneration in an arc of opportunity running through the old docklands.”
The Mayoral Development Corporation – with a £500million budget, secured from existing funds, to deliver the legacy of the Games. There will be complete transparency by publishing all transactions. This will build on his City Hall record of running the most transparent administration in Britain.
Boris pledges to deliver 11,000 homes on the Olympic Park, including a community-led development at Cobham Manor.
When London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics this country was entering the most reckless period of an unrestrained boom in public sector spending when the Labour government thought the money would never run dry.
It was an era when City Hall officials were jetting off for £37,000 assignations with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and when the budget for the Olympics was allowed to balloon.
It began at £2.375 billion, and by 2007 it was £9.3 billion, and by the time I came to City Hall in May 2008 it was clear that this style of government had brought Britain to the brink of financial disaster.
It was necessary to grip the Olympic finances to stop the extravagance and above all the make sure that Londoners truly benefited from a social and economic legacy from hosting the games.
So we started to make savings wherever we could and we began with the little things: when I flew to the Beijing Games I didn’t go first class or business class and I didn’t take a vast entourage, because there was simply no need to do so. And we cut some of the weird proposals like sending 18 chefs and driving a bus half way round the world.
I was told that we would need to construct a new badminton court in Barking at a cost of about £25 million. I pointed out that we had world class badminton facilities at Wembley, and so I chopped the plans for a new badminton palace in Barking and we made use of existing facilities.
But even more important it was obvious that there was no real plan for the legacy from the games. There was no point in hosting the greatest sporting event on earth unless we used that event to encourage young people to take up sport.
So under the guidance of Kate Hoey, the commissioner for sport, we set up a grassroots sporting participation programme by which people of all ages are given opportunities to take up football, tennis, boxing.
We have taken mobile pools around London and as a result of our actions thousands of people are being taught to swim. And I persuaded the authorities to find 125,000 free tickets for London pupils. I wanted the Games to mobilise volunteering and social commitment and to build a sense of community and everywhere I go now in London I meet people who have signed up to be one of our 8,000 Olympic ambassadors and they and all those who weren’t able to get on the programme will be able to channel their enthusiasm through Team London long after the games are over, volunteering to read to kids, or to help with youth groups.
And above all it was clear to me that we needed desperately to get a physical and economic legacy from those games and I have to tell you there was no clear plan to do so.
This Sunday the MDC will be called into being specifically charged with getting long term value from that £9.3 billion investment. And London is far ahead of most other Olympic cities in securing a viable future for its venues. The Olympic village has been sold and a large proportion of that development will provide affordable accommodation for London families.
Of the eight key venues 6 have already been let to private sector contractors and keen competitions are now underway for both the IBC/MPC and the stadium and I have no doubt those competitions will be successful and we still have almost four months until the games even begin. And when they do we have worked hard to minimise the impact on Londoners.
I want you to know that my predecessor was so dismissive of the rights of the London motorist that he offered the IOC to consecrate 240 km of roads for games lanes for the Olympic hierarchs I thought that was unnecessary, so we have cut the ORN to a third of that and we have done everything we can to make sure that taxis and other road users will be able to make use of the lanes when they are not full and don’t forget that they will only be in operation for 16 days with a couple of days for setting them up.