Colin Grainger

Olympic Legacy: Time to payback the goodwill and support



John Biggs 2

We need to get on with the job of transforming the lives of local people if the Olympic Legacy is to be achieved.

Now is time to pay that back the support and goodwill that exists by continuing the investment in people that will truly transform local people’s lives and the East End.

That’s the view of John Biggs, London Assembly Member for City and East London, including Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking and Dagenham

Said Mr Biggs: “Creative Director of the Olympics and local East Ender Danny Boyle said recently that the Olympic spirit has been killed off by the recession. That is the case in the Olympic boroughs, where residents are struggling with the increasing cost of living, higher rents and lack of work.

“In Tower Hamlets, the number of people under 24 out of work for more than a year has risen from 400 in January 2012 to 510 a year later. In Newham youth unemployment increased from 285 to 415 in January 2013. These are the same young people who were promised jobs and affordable housing as part of the Olympic package.”

He went on: “When we submitted the London 2012 Olympic ten years ago, the vision was to transform the heart of the East End and to inspire a generation to take part in local volunteering, cultural, and physical activity. The plan was to make the Olympic Park a blueprint for sustainable living and demonstrate the UK as a creative, inclusive, and welcoming place to live, visit and work.


“The Olympics put the limelight firmly on the east end, often portrayed as a poor ugly cousin to elsewhere in London. But the east end out shone the rest of the capital last summer, showing the potential of this downtrodden part of the city.”

Mr Biggs feels that much of what was promised was achieved. Taxpayers will no longer be burdened with the Olympic Stadium, as it was announced in March that West Ham United will be the anchor tenants. He believes the decision is overdue but nevertheless, welcome.

“However, six months on from the Games, the Mayor of London is failing to fulfil the promises made to residents in the Olympic boroughs. As the recession drags on and the Government continues making cuts, the drawbridge is being raised and disproportionately hitting those on lower incomes.

“The Mayor’s record on housing is deplorable. Only a quarter of the homes built on the Olympic village will be deemed ‘affordable’. But the term ‘affordable’ is misleading, as it’s not affordable to anybody other than those on middle and high incomes. In Newham, a third of children live in households where there are no earners and these ‘affordable’ houses will remain out of reach.

“The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in the Olympic boroughs continues to climb since the Olympics. Jobs for local people was one of the key legacy promises of the Olympics but only a small minority of the thousands of construction jobs since 2005 went to local residents. In fact, Newham’s unemployment increased 2005 and 2010.”

The Assembly member concluded: “The centre of London is shifting from west to east but there is a very real fear that this will adversely affect the poorest people. How will they afford to live without jobs, with rents increasing and with higher living costs? These were the residents that were supposed to benefit most of the Olympics but this sadly has not been the case.

“Much has been achieved but the harder part – transforming local lives – continues. There is still a massive amount of support and goodwill and it is time now to pay that back by continuing the investment in people that will truly transform the East End.”


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This article was written on 07 Jun 2013, and is filed under Communities, community spirit, East London, Education, Employment, History, Jobs, John Biggs, Legacy, Newham, Olympics & Paralympics, Uncategorized.

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