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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 November 2006

Olympics 2012

Costs soar while communities ignored

IT WOULDN'T have taken a genius to predict that the cost of the London Olympics would rise from the original forecast of just under 2.5 billion. You just need to remember the record of previous Olympic cities and other major construction projects in Britain such as the Dome and Wembley stadium.

Chris Newby

No-one seems to know how much the costs are going to increase to, whether it's Olympics minister Tessa Jowell, or London Mayor. Ken Livingstone. Estimates vary from between 5 billion to 20 billion which includes an increased cost for managing the budget, through a private consortium, from 100 million to 500 million.

There was a lot of support for London winning the Olympics particularly for those in London who see this as an opportunity for long-overdue transport improvements to be carried out. Yet there is now talk of the long-awaited Crossrail link not being completed until after the Olympics.

Some, school students in particular, saw hosting the Olympics as an opportunity to perform on a world stage in their own city and to watch, live, some of the best athletes in the world.

Yet the London Development Agency has applied to relocate allotments on the Olympic site to an area that includes playing fields and a children's playground. So much for the government's pledge to improve sporting facilities for young people!

Part of the increase in costs have been put down to the delivery authority tripling its budget for buying and cleaning up land in the Lea Valley from 478 million to, now, 1.44 billion.

Similarly, the original security budget of 190 million had now, post 7/7, been revised to 850 million. Yet it had been clear for some time before the bombing that Britain was more of a target for terrorist attacks given Blair's craven support for George Bush in the war and occupation of Iraq.

Other signs coming out give a worrying indication of how the delivery authority is ignoring the local communities' concerns and needs. Local cyclists who used the closed Eastway Cycle circuit free will have to pay to use the velodrome being built for the Olympics.

But the biggest concern for people in Britain as a whole and Londoners in particular will be who will face the increased costs. London now looks set to host the most expensive games in history. Montreal City has only just finished paying off the debts from the 1976 Olympics.

We say that all the costs involved in the building for and staging for the Olympics should be met by central government and those multinational companies set to make a fortune out of this event.

We also call for all workers connected with the games to be paid at least a minimum of 8 an hour with no worker being forced to work more than 35 hours a week.

Proper health and safety standards must be enforced. All housing built for the games must be turned over to publicly owned, genuinely affordable, housing. And access to all sporting facilities before, during and after the games should be cheap with free entry for some groups e.g. school students.

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In The Socialist 29 November 2006:

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