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What will be the future of London's Olympic Stadium?

Olympic Stadium These days questions to the Minister for the Olympics immediately follow DCMS questions.

Mark Harper and Humfrey Malins both asked about shooting:

"Mr. Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con): What her latest estimate is of expenditure on the London 2012 Olympics, and if she will make a statement. [269375]

The Minister for the Olympics (Tessa Jowell): The estimate of public expenditure on the London 2012 games remains within the £9.325 billion package that I announced in March 2007.

Mr. Harper: I thank the Minister for that answer. Now that the Olympic Delivery Authority has decided that Woolwich is to be the site for shooting events at the Olympics, will she arrange for the KPMG report on the venues to be published in full? I know that it has been published, but only with all the rather interesting financial information missed out, and British shooting does not feel that it has been given a fair crack of the whip. Will she therefore arrange for that report to be published in full and placed in the Library of the House?

Tessa Jowell: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I met the advocates for the Bisley case very particularly, as I also met the advocates for other venues, and the Olympic Board confirmed its decision at its last meeting. It is certainly my intention to publish the KPMG report once the issues of commercial sensitivity have passed and the relevant negotiations have been completed."

"Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking) (Con): On the subject of shooting, we all know that one of the factors in choosing Woolwich was cost, so will the Minister today tell us the cost estimate for staging the shooting at Woolwich, and for staging it at Bisley?

Tessa Jowell: I will make both those figures available to the House—

Mr. Malins: Today?

Tessa Jowell: No, not today; I shall do so once the negotiations, which are inevitably sensitive, are concluded. I know of the hon. Gentleman’s great concerns about Bisley, and his advocacy for it. He will understand that there were two factors that led the Olympic Board to conclude that Woolwich should be the preferred venue for shooting. The first was on the grounds of cost, to which he referred. The second was certainty, the judgment being that, at this stage, Bisley simply involved too much risk, in terms of delivering an acceptable venue."

Wellinborough's Peter Bone asked about the future use of the stadium:

"Mr. Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): What plans she has for the legacy use of Olympics sporting venues by young people. [269376]

Tessa Jowell: The Olympics sporting venues in east London and around the UK will be available for use after the Olympics in a way that involves residents of all levels of ability, from starters to elite athletes. That is a fundamental aspect of the Olympic legacy ambition.

The legacy business plans being prepared for the sports venues—including the stadium in the park, the aquatics centre and the velodrome and velopark—have the provision of affordable access for young people at their heart. Some 500,000 visits a year are anticipated for the aquatics centre, of which more than 100,000 will be use by schools for swimming lessons.

The stadium will include, in addition to a 25,000-seat, International Association of Athletics Federations-compliant athletics facility, provision for a school and a sports academy, providing skills training focused on the 18 to 24 age group. Central to that is the affordability of entrance. I remember my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott)—who is no longer in her place—making the point some years ago that the legacy will mean nothing if the facilities cannot be afforded by people who live in the area. I absolutely and wholeheartedly endorse that point, and we are working to ensure that that promise is delivered.

Mr. Bone: I am grateful for the Minister’s response, which gave good news of progress. How far have we gone in obtaining an anchor tenant for the Olympic stadium?

Tessa Jowell: The question of an anchor tenant is a bit of an obsession— [ Interruption. ] It is a misguided obsession, because we already have a commitment to a school, so that between 300 and 400 young people will attend school at the Olympic stadium and legacy every day. Hundreds of young people will use the stadium as the base for their skills learning and development. It will be a base for the English Institute of Sport, and it will host major athletics events. Although there will be a management structure, there will be not a single anchor tenant—on the basis of present negotiation—but a wide range of central sporting interests that will ensure that it is a living stadium, used every day of the year."

Shadow Work & Pensions Minister Andrew Selous was also concerned about legacy:

"Will the Minister give the House a little more detail of what practical action is being taken now to ensure that these expensive venues have a long-lasting legacy for all the people of London and beyond in future years?

Tessa Jowell: I can give the hon. Gentleman a lot of practical information about that, including the way in which, in several instances such as the aquatics centre, the designs have been amended—sometimes at additional cost—to ensure that they can be properly adapted for community use after the games have finished. Extra money is being spent on the velodrome which will be the best and fastest in the world. I have also outlined specific proposals for the Olympic stadium. No city has ever been this advanced before in planning the legacy use of its Olympic venues and honouring its commitment to young people, who will be the principal beneficiaries."

I don't think Tessa Jowell should be quite so complacent. The future use of Olympic Stadium matters a great deal, and will be symbolic of the Games' success in creating a legacy. Certainly it must be not be sold at a knockdown price to a football club.

Tom Greeves


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