Is London fit for Olympic purposes?

Baroness Deech

Today I tried to travel from Westminster to Holborn, a journey I make frequently and for which I normally allow half an hour.  There was a sign up in the underground indicating that the lines I would have used were severely delayed and others were closed.  Indeed, passengers had to be evacuated from a stalled Jubilee Line train yesterday. The traffic was just not moving, and in despair I got out of the bus and walked (nice, yes, but I was in a hurry, had the wrong shoes, and it was hot!) There was a protest by lorries blocking Parliament Square, and the police had chosen lunch time to block one lane on the Embankment in order to spot check cars to see whether they had insurance and a valid licence, thereby bringing the Embankment traffic to a halt.  I missed my meeting. Later today I  noticed the bags of garbage lining Oxford St. and the road works impeding the pavement which surely will not be completed in time.

There is an implied message from London to the rest of the world in relation to the Olympics, and it is – don’t come.  You will spend so long queuing at Heathrow that the event will have finished! You won’t be able to move around London and the hotels are charging twice as much as usual.  Stay at home, watch it in comfort on televison, and save the carbon emission.

London is just not the right place for the Olympics.  Tessa Jowell is now reported as having said that had we known what we know now (namely, the recession) we would not have bid for them.  Nearly every day questions are asked in the Lords about various aspects of poverty and lack of funds – the children of asylum seekers, care of the elderly, cuts to education grants, cuts to legal aid.  See the recent blogs on Living Below the Line.  Should we not be ashamed of our priorities when we are prepared to spend £10bn on an extravaganza for a few weeks, but not on basic living standards?

Countdown starting now – 106 days and it will all be over!

11 comments for “Is London fit for Olympic purposes?

  1. MilesJSD
    25/05/2012 at 5:57 am

    Greater human thrival & survival -wise,
    is any Country in the World “fit for Olympic-purpose” ?

    Does any Country and all-of-its-peoples really profit and holisticly-benefit from
    ‘winning’ the very brief but hellishly expensive, minimally All-People-Health-Raising, and far too-costly Security complicated, Olympic Games Event ?

    And of what Earthly or Heavenly use is all that added Infrastructure, in only one limited capital-place, and for only the athleticly super-fittest and wealthiest
    0.0000n% of the Total World Human Population, to the Whole Human Race ?

    or even to the One ‘lucky’ country at a time (in 4-yearly-time-gaps, butterfly-like and almost unpredictedly, far-flung wide around the Whole warmongering Globe but to no evident Peace-&-Healthiness-Throughout-All-Peoples Result) ?

    or come to that, of Life-On-Earth’s utterly paramount and human-lifesupportive Needs & Hows ?
    need to
    1. Found a British Peoples Self- and Mutual-Healthing Movement
    and at the same time offer to help that to be propagated World-Wide under United Nations administration.
    [A simple skim-read through “The Busy Person’s Guide to Easier Movement” (Wildman) will quickly show you why].

    2. Get the United Nations to “Return The Olympic Games to Greece” permanently
    [the cost savings, better security, much more appropriate proportionalities, and
    historical-fidelity of such an Urgently and Importantly Inter-Nation-al Fairly Participative & Cooperative peaceful-reform are surely already self-evident].

  2. 25/05/2012 at 8:32 am

    Perhaps we should have “virtual Olympics” in future. It’s hard to see how the competitors can avoid travelling and competing in person, but the spectators can stay at home, and their cheers relayed to the stadiums through loudspeakers.

    But then, the same could be suggested for MPs and peers, couldn’t it? Why not work from home and join debates via video link, with jeers relayed to the chamber (only applies to the Commons, of course!)

    There was a suggestion before the Athens Olympics that it should become the permanent home of the games, rather than holding them somewhere different each year. Just think, the income from the Olympics every four years (without needing to pay for new infrastructure each time) might have saved Greece from economic meltdown!

  3. Michael Parker
    25/05/2012 at 8:55 am

    I know that I will not be able to change your mind, but:
    – the rubbish bags in Oxford St will have been placed there by retailers shortly prior to their collection by Westminster CC – this is the accepted procedure for rubbish collection in that part of the city and they are not there all the time.
    – the road works will be suspended in July.
    – it is unlikely that anyone will miss any events due to queues at Heathrow, although I agree this is a shameful way to treat visitors to the country. However, I have had equally poor experiences arriving into America and Australia, so we are not alone in being unable to solve this issue.
    – there are 110000 hotel room nights available in Greater London once the IOC-LOCOG requirements are removed. Hotel prices operate on demand and supply: if demand is such that hotels can charge more then we should let them, unless you are arguing for state control of prices.

    As for the recession – is your argument that we should not spend money on anything frivolous during a recession? On this basis, should we end all public support for the arts until we have growth on a solid footing?

    • Baroness Deech
      Baroness Deech
      25/05/2012 at 9:54 pm

      Michael – you are clearly professionally involved with the Olympics in some way – perhaps you are one of the lucky few who will use the VIP lanes on the roads while the rest of us spend even longer in jams? You say that roadworks will be “suspended” – does that mean completed, or abandoned? will the orange barriers all along Oxford St be removed, as well as all the other street furniture that accompanies them?
      Garbage ought to be collected early or late, and not be left in full view in the middle of the day. I don’t regard the arts as “frivolous”. In fact the Arts Council has been cut by £457m over four years, and those that depend on it have suffered the losses. The money has to be taken away from longlasting serious arts programmes in order to feed the greedy but shortlived Olympics spectacle.

      • Lord Blagger
        25/05/2012 at 10:46 pm

        Think of all those people on minimum wage who have had to fund all those elite people to live the life they want, painting pictures etc.

      • maude elwes
        26/05/2012 at 9:45 am

        I agree absolutely with the Baroness.

        This Olympic scenario is a farce. It is simply big money for friends in the scam business and it is done at tax payers expense. Even thought the shout is, austerity, we have no money left.

        London is chaotic at the best of times but this is sheer madness. Those who live in it all year around and keep it going are going to suffer more unacceptable delays, costs and stress and for what? Not to mention the councils are sending people all kinds of notices about their parking facilities, paid for in advance and very hard to get, will be suspended and they must make do elsewhere, as they are beign set aside for the Olympic family. What a load of crap that is. Government is out of control.

        Of course the Blair creature was at the back of this clever set up, so you have to know it p was corrupt from the offset. Trying to rid oursleves of his legacy is a full time 24/7 job, and still we are no closer to his demise.

        Afterwards what will be left? Nothng but a worthless bunch of junk which will be either sold off for a song to foreign concerns wanting to buy up UK PLC at desperate take us and be damned strategies. I bet if you look into that you will find many a politician on the grab.

        The concentration of wealth merchants need to be brought to their knees as unmercifully as those who struggle without any way out.

        VIP lanes must be the biggest spit in the public eye you could give those who plug away for us all every day of the year.

  4. MilesJSD
    25/05/2012 at 9:15 am

    A more apposite question might be
    “Is Britain fit for Future-Life purposes” ?

  5. Lord Blagger
    25/05/2012 at 10:00 am

    A handful of strategically placed diversions, and sat navs will divert hoards of drivers onto VIP lanes, causing the chaos that the Olympics deserve.

  6. Twm O'r Nant
    25/05/2012 at 7:27 pm

    The former James Knight Esq’s constituency of Weymouth certainly is fit for it.
    They are the standing joke of the West country for their constant worry of everything being ready for the sailing Olympics, ten days of sailing, dating back about 6 years now!

    Today the town looked more splendid in every way than it can have looked since the 1930s
    when it was the holiday destination for smart people from the suburbs of London, who have not been seen dead there, or even mentioned it in conversation, since the Mediteranean holiday was invented in the early 1950s!

    Lively weekenders, plenty of foreign visitors already, or are they Poles and other East Europeans making the most of out formerly very jaded country towns??!! They are doing a lot for the vigour and enthusiasm of the people of these islands.

  7. Nazma FOURRE
    02/06/2012 at 11:25 pm

    Dear Baronness Deech,
    I shall tend to agree that London is not the right place for the olympics games to take place but I shall have to mention that it is the only place which seems to be more accessible and has the appropriate structure for the games to take place. May be a second stadium to respond to traffic jams should be built outside London for such games to take place for instance SURREY and its round about.
    Regarding the cost of such structures , they can be be highly covered by the sales of tickets to those who want to attend the games. These expenses must have been included in the budget for the current year.Had it not been voted yet, it is time for the paliament to make necessary provisions to meet these expenses .
    The positive aspect of olympic games is that their costs can be highly met by the increasing number of tourists who may come to England for this sole purpose.
    God bless the United Kingdom. God save the Queen.
    Nazma FOURRE

  8. Edna Sweetlove
    19/07/2012 at 11:17 pm

    I think that the Olympic Games are a load of total rubbish devised solely to make money. The people who caused this GARBAGE to come to London should be STRUNG UP.

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