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Olympics chief slams critics: 2012 already shot in arm’ for jobs

PUBLISHED: 16:06 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:52 05 October 2010

OLYMPICS chief David Higgins has hit back at critics questioning whether there’s any economic benefits in hosting the costly 2012 Games. The Games were already benefiting Britain’s economy and long-term regeneration in East London, he told a London business conference

OLYMPICS chief David Higgins has hit back at critics questioning whether there's any economic benefits in hosting the costly 2012 Games.

The Games were already benefiting Britain's economy and long-term regeneration in East London, he told a London business conference.

The Delivery authority chief executive was addressing the Major Projects Association conference yesterday (Thursday) after a report commissioned by the Government cast a shadow over whether London would benefit economically.

"The preparations are already delivering a shot-in-the-arm at a time of need," he told delegates.

"There has been some questioning of the economic and regeneration benefits that hosting the Games will bring.

"But work on the Olympic Park has already created 3,000 new jobs in a challenging economic climate, with nearly one-in-10 workers on site previously unemployed. The work we're doing will be felt long after 2012."

The 250-page Government report led this week to councillors at Tower Hamlets, one of the five 'host' boroughs, calling for a meeting with Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell over claims that £550 million Lottery money was being "siphoned" to prop up the two-week Games.

But the Olympics are already creating opportunities for Britain's businesses, Mr Higgins insisted, with 800 companies so far securing £3.5 billion of contracts to supply the Stratford site.

The whole ethos was driven by 'legacy,' what East London would benefit by afterwards, with 75p-in-every-£1 being spent on long-term regeneration, he pointed out.

This involved redeveloping two square miles of derelict and contaminated industrial land to create a large urban space the size of Hyde Park. There would be 3,000 new homes surrounded by parks and open space, 30 new bridges, 15 miles of new roads and five miles of cleaned-up waterways along the River Lea, all in addition to the five new world-class sporting venues.

Public transport improvements would turn Stratford, with its Eurostar cross-Channel connection, into one of the best transport hubs in the South East.


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