Baroness Dee Doocey has called on House of Lords peers to ensure the Government’s Olympic legacy ideals are upheld when the Games close this summer.
The Dublin-born Liberal Democrat has been on the GLA’s Olympic Committee, involved in the scrutiny of the Games proposals, since London won the bid.
Speaking in the Upper House she slammed the Government for its failures to deliver on many of its ‘unrealistic’ plans and vowed to continue to scrutinise Olympic legacy once the athletes leave the stadium.
“I have been involved in scrutinising the delivery of the Games and their legacy since London won the bid,” she said.
“There is no question that there is much to celebrate-the fact that venues have been delivered on time and under budget; the fact that the new sporting facilities are a triumph of British design and engineering; and the fact that a large number of British companies have benefited from the £6 billion-worth of contracts.
“There remain, however, some areas of concern.”
She added: “The sporting legacy is a mixture of success and failure. Some exceptionally good work is being done on the ground by organisations such as the London Youth Games, which has helped 2,000 disabled young people get into sport and enabled other young people to qualify as sports officials.
“On the other hand, the Government have been forced to abandon their target of using the Games to inspire one million people to play more sport-a target that was never realistic.”
Mrs Doocey, who stepped down from her role on the London Assembly last month, after eight years, voiced similar concerns to The Irish Post regarding traffic congestion around London during Games time.
During the House of Lords discussion she extended those to include the government’s failure to achieve in some of the most important areas of long-term legacy from the London games.
“The promised legacy of jobs and training opportunities for local unemployed people is also questionable,” she said.
“Although the targets have been met, they were set far too low to be meaningful. Likewise, while many of the Olympic buildings have their long-term future use assured – I pay great tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Ford, in all that she has done in this regard – the future of the main Olympic stadium and media centre nevertheless remains undecided.
“They must not be allowed to be a drain on taxpayers for many years to come.”
She added: “There are also concerns about the long-term use of the Olympic park. After the Games, it will become a highly desirable place to live, and thousands of new homes and communities will be built. However, my concern is that no public money is allocated to fund this transformation.
“Without this investment, private developers will be free to determine the fate of a site, and I believe that it runs the risk of becoming another Canary Wharf – a brilliant success commercially that benefits only wealthy newcomers and foreign investors at the expense of long-standing residents and local communities.
“This outcome would completely negate the original concept and vision, which was to provide mixed communities and facilities, with a substantial proportion of the homes and jobs going to local people.”
In closing, Baroness Doocey urged her fellow Lords and Ladies to be vigilant in ensuring the Olympic legacy is protected and that ‘lessons are learnt for the future’.
“Let us rejoice that Britain has demonstrated to the world that it can deliver major construction projects successfully, on time and within budget,” she said. “A powerful message at any time but especially in the current economic climate.
“But let us never forget the promised long-term legacy and let us do everything in our power to ensure that the legacy is honoured.