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London 2012

Mythmaking the London Olympics

Mythmaking the London Olympics and its aftermath continues. A body called the Architecture Foundation, based in far off Kensington Gore, is the latest to decide it should provide a commentary on the Olympic Park. Publicity on its Facebook site announces they will explore ‘the revolutionary new district which replaced one of the East End’s most implacable industrial wastelands’. Where precisely the revolution has taken place is anyone’s guess but even the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has given up on the wasteland description of the land but myths live on in the architectural imagination. It makes for a much more adventurous event when you’re slumming it in the East End to be exploring a former wasteland rather than a place which was ‘a hive of activity and industrial innovation’ as the revisionists at the LLDC now describe the former industrial land on their Sweetwater page, Before the Games. No mention is made of those displaced by the event.


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Still no jobs legacy from the London2012 Olympics

Two years ago I asked the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) for the number of people who were working in the Olympic Park. On that occasion it replied:

Since April 2012, when the LLDC came into existence, 770 non-construction jobs were created consisting of 452 in Park operations and venues and 318 in other associated and varied roles. Additionally, 222 are currently employed at Here East


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Aftermath 2012 - Anything in Stratford is an Olympic Legacy

Back in July 2016 after I posted an article about job creation in the aftermath of London2012 on Games Monitor BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme contacted me for an interview. They had come across my FoI requests which showed that so far fewer than 1000 jobs had been created on the Olympic Park and LLDC projections for homes within the Park were likely to be lower than 6,650. In fact following further reseach I found that the figure is probably around 4,700 with the possibility of a 'legacy' of almost no genuinely affordable housing when taking into account the demolition of housing at Clays Lane and Park Village for the Olympics.

My interview with You and Yours was pre-recorded making it impossible for me to argue on air. The programme then held a live interview with the London Legacy Development Corporation's Director of Communications, Marketing and Strategy, Ben Fletcher, who proceeded to claim the LLDC would be creating 40,000 jobs and 24,000 homes. He compared this with a town the size of Milton Keynes in its early stages.

The BBC interviewer pointed out that Stratford City, the massive development next to the Olympic Park, would have been built anyway. Fletcher couldn't disagree with this obvious statement but resorted to the usual strategy of casting doubt on whether Stratford City would have been completed given the credit crunch. Fletcher also repeated the canard of the 'catalytic' effect and declared "what we don't know and what we will never know is whether those projects would have survived without the Olympics." Many people, he thought, would say they would not have done so.

Sadly in these circumstances reporters are often not well versed in the specifics of the case. For example, the much touted 'catalytic' effect had been discounted long before in 2003 by the Olympics master planner, Jason Prior. A property journalist had reported:

Prior believes the long-term regeneration elements and development opportunities will happen with or without the Olympics. What may differ is the pace of change. In the event of a successful bid, developers in partnerships might have to play a longer-term game – the land would not be freed for its end use until after the 2012 event.


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Aftermath 2012 - Affordable Housing Squeeze

Additional information re Athletes Village in section []

One of the major promises of London 2012 was that it would create a large number of affordable homes for East Londoners.

In a recent Freedom of Information response to a question:

How many homes are now expected to be provided on the Olympic Park? What is the breakdown expected to be per neighbourhood?


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The Aftermath 2012 - Four Years on, a Legacy of MINUS 4,000 Jobs

The London Olympics has been the subject of some wildly optimistic job creation predictions, most notably Gordon Brown's claim of 50,000 jobs, which even the London Development Agency (LDA) warned should be 'treated with caution'.

In a recent Freedom of Information response to a question:

how many jobs are now predicted to be created in the Park as a whole, including at Here East, Olympicopolis and further jobs in the administration, security, maintenance, services, etc, in the Park?


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Olympics Stadium Agreement between London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham

Below is a link for a copy of the agreement between the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham regarding the London Olympic stadium referred to as the E20 Stadium, which was released following the Freedom of Information campaign by a coalition of fourteen supporters' associations.


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The Aftermath - of the London2012 stadium

After putting up heroic resistance in the public interest the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) finally gave in and published the details of the contract with West Ham for the London Olympics stadium after being ordered to do so by the Information Tribunal. However, a search of the LLDC website for the contract produces 'no result' and does not provide any trace of the document and nor is it mentioned under 'News' or 'Press Releases'. The full agreement can be found here. Interestingly the details of the contract had not been pursued by any public authority or by GLA Assembly Members, by the European Union or even by rival football clubs like Tottenham Hotspur or Leyton Orient but by Supporters groups from fourteen different clubs. Apparently Boris Johnson had said he would be happy for the contract to be published. If so it is hard to understand why he didn't push for this to happen, as the LLDC is very much his baby, rather than allow it to spend over £21,000 fighting the case.

The BBC outlined the details. The final cost of the stadium is £701million with the cost of conversion £272million, up from the original estimate of £160million. West Ham's contribution to this refit was £15million. [As an indication of how bad this deal is it has to be recalled that West Ham's previous owner Eggert Magnusson offered £100million to take over the Olympic stadium! He was prepared to guarantee an athletics legacy as well] It will pay £2.5million rent per year with a scale of charges depending on the club's footballing success or failure. However, it will not pay for a variety of services like security, undersoil heating, floodlighting, cleaning which are worth up to another £2.5million.

The BBC claims the stadium will be a multi-use venue. It is hard to see the point of this statement. It is a 'multi-use' venue because of the enormous amount of money spent on converting it to accommodate athletics and football! However, if a two month window for, in all probability, one major athletics event a year qualifies it as a multi-use venue then this is a strange understanding of multi-use. The fact that music events will also be hosted is hardly unusual for stadiums of this type, many football clubs host such events without this kind of expenditure.

However, in this article the BBC fails to mention the £40million loaned by Newham to West Ham as part of the deal although back in 2011 it reported on concerns in Newham and among some Newham councillors that the deal had little to offer the community and highlighted the control exercised by Newham's Mayor, Robin Wales, who is able to use political patronage to silence opposition in a borough without any non-Labour councillors. The BBC reported:

One serving councillor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "A significant number of councillors have reservations.
"There are massive doubts over supposed community benefits."
The councillor continued: "Why are we arranging a loan for a private company? West Ham should go to a bank like everybody else.
Councillors are afraid to speak out. This rings alarm bells.
Anita Shields, Independent auditor
"The financial football model is hardly blessed by success."
But not one serving politician will go on the record.
The councillor said: "The problem is the mayoral system.
"People are frightened to go against the mayor. They are frightened of a lack of patronage.
"He's had almost the same executive since 2000 - on £40,000 each. People want a bit of the action."


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London Legacy Seminars - don't expect critical thinking

This is the lineup for a panel to discuss the London2012 sports legacy for the London Legacies Group Seminar entitled: 'Has the Sports Legacy from the 2012 lived up to the commitments made?' Every single participant has a connection to the London Olympics.

Richard Sumray: Chair


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