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It was widely reported in the aviation press and beyond earlier this year that a no fly zone for all but essential military and police air traffic is to be imposed over the skies of East London well before and during the London 2012 Games.
A quote from an article in Aviation Week in May:
'Helicopter operators were confident that the 2012 London Olympics would bring boom times as they whisked VIPs across the city. It isnít going to happen. Ideas such as using the Royal Navyís recently decommissioned aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as a floating heliport came to nought. There will be no civil heliport facilities anywhere near the Olympic Park'.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 6:21 PM
Subject: [gamesmonitor] Helipads for Stratford ? / Availability of Border Agency staff
I've just come across the February 2010 Atkins report for DfT on
"Air Traffic Review and Airport Capacity Assessment Associated with the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics"
A couple of snippets :
The business aviation clients visiting the UK will expect to be able to transfer directly from their arrival airport by helicopter to a venue close to the Olympic Games or central London; due to the distance between their arrival airport and the Olympic Park and time that would be required to make a road or rail based transfer.
A number of airports identified their concern with the apparent lack of helicopter facilities being provided close to Stratford to support the 2012 Games. In relation to this a number of parties are investigating opportunities to provide additional helipad capacity close to the 2012 Olympic Park.
Airports were keen to understand the wider preparations being made by the Government and in particular the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in relation to the additional demand generated by the Olympics. In particular those airports that operate on a ―Certificate of
Agreement‖ basis wanted to be re-assured that sufficient UKBA staff would be available to process the expected up turn in flights.
A colossal slump in group tourist reservations for visits to the UK during next year‚Äôs Olympics could have a negative effect on London theatre bookings, the European Tour Operators Association has warned.
An ETOA survey of 28 of its members - which deal with around two million tourists a year between them - has revealed that tourist bookings have been decimated, with an average 90% downturn during the games period next year.
Speaking to The Stage, ETOA executive director Tom Jenkins said: ‚ÄúOur studies have shown that Theatreland would be affected in the same way that the rest of London may be.‚ÄĚ
He added: ‚ÄúThe slump is occurring through several factors. People tend to
avoid a destination that is hosting an Olympic Games and, while the games may attract a number of people, the vast majority see it as a reason to avoid the city because they assume, mostly rightly, that the city is going to be complicated to visit in a normal way.
‚ÄúMeeting this decline in demand is a perception on behalf of many of the suppliers in the hospitality sector that London will be experiencing a boom. They have been told that one million extra people will be coming to London. Thus little capacity is made available to regular tour operators and what is available is at premium prices. So the Olympics provides us with a unique combination of high prices, low availability and low demand.‚ÄĚ
Financial website This is Money claimed earlier this week that the Really Useful Group is considering closing its shows, including The Phantom of the Opera, during the Olympics.
A RUG spokesman said: ‚ÄúIt is being discussed, although
nothing has yet been confirmed. We are keen to highlight the fact that it is a show‚Äôs producer, not the theatre owner, who will determine whether a show closes during the Olympic period.‚ÄĚ
Mark Rubinstein, president of the Society of London Theatre, said producers understand the Olympic period will represent ‚Äúa very different landscape from what we are used to at that time of year‚ÄĚ. But he said there are opportunities for theatres during the games.
He said: ‚ÄúThe society is working very closely with LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games], with the Mayor of London‚Äôs office, with Transport for London and all the other partners to ensure we maximise the opportunity that the games can offer, both in the short term next summer and in the long term in terms of the exposure and focus London will receive, and to make sure that we are as ready as possible and the message is clear that London is open and
the theatres are open and very much available for business during the games period.‚ÄĚ
He added that ‚Äúone of the key things about coming to London is seeing a West End show‚ÄĚ.
This summer, a raft of West End shows announced they were extending their booking periods into 2012 for Olympic visitors. These included The Lion King, Les Miserables, Legally Blonde the Musical, War Horse, Ghost the Musical, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wizard of Oz.
Marina Hyde is back on form and angry.
The last paragraph of her article will give you a flavour:
'For odiousness, it somehow surpasses even this week's other Olympic-related
news, that the government has forked out almost £750,000 on corporate
hospitality tickets for the Games. One can only hope anti-bankster protests Ė
and their inevitable heavy-handed removal by the authorities Ė will be a major
feature of the torch relay, so that by the time the flame finally reaches
Stratford, anger at the way the country was sold out to the Games is burning
stronger than ever'.
I've realised my posting (in response to a message from Mike with a link to a story in the Express) should have said beaked turtles (which I was told yesterday evening are actually a type of fresh-water terrapin) are found from Florida to Ontario, rather than from California - I seem to have lost the whole of the southern United States in a silly geographical mix-up! Sorry!
BTW rather odd that Julian's story about Scottish tourism being hit was posted the same day - maybe Nessie has come south looking for some "silly season" press exposure next year!
West Ham co-chairman David Gold today admitted the club may not move into the Olympic Stadium.
The Hammers were awarded the stadium earlier this year only for the deal to collapse last month due to legal challenges by Tottenham and Leyton Orient.
A new tender process is being launched by the Olympic Park Legacy Company and the stadium will now be rented out after London 2012 with West Ham seemingly the most likely tenants.
But Gold today revealed that while the club remain desperate to leave Upton Park, there is now a doubt surrounding their plans to move into the Stratford site.
"I have mixed feelings," said Gold. "The Olympic Stadium is very
exciting, but we need a consultancy procedure with our fans, that is important.
"I am ruling out developing the Boleyn, that would be pouring money down the drain.
"But what we can't do is nothing. West Ham have been at the Boleyn for over 100 years. I believe we are the eighth largest supported club in the country, and yet we perform more like the 20th biggest, and that's because we are at the Boleyn.
"So we have to change. The obvious change that everyone is looking at is the Olympic Stadium. But there is a doubt, there are issues unresolved."
Thousands of people who purchased Olympic tickets from authorised resellers overseas face a tortuous and perhaps futile process trying to resell or obtain refunds after organisers abruptly changed the rules.
Under original terms and conditions published by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, tickets bought in the UK ballot or through authorised resellers overseas were eligible to use the official Locog ticket exchange, which will be set up early next year, to sell unwanted seats.
But Locog has now changed its terms and conditions, without any notification to the hundreds of thousands of purchasers, to restrict
the official exchange to UK ballot tickets only. This has put left many purchasers in limbo and at the whim of overseas agents because it is against the law, with a ¬£20,000 fine, to resell Olympic tickets.
‚ÄúThe terms and conditions do state that they can be altered at any time,‚ÄĚ a Locog spokesman said.
The spokesman said each reseller had simply linked to the Locog terms and conditions and added that tickets bought by this method had to be returned to the source to reduce risks of touting or being lost.
However, purchasers have found they are not able to get full refunds from overseas agents and are finding the exercise extremely time-consuming and costly.
Angus Scott-Brown, from Inverness, has tried to return three boxing tickets to French reseller Eventeam after he was successful in the second UK ballot. ‚ÄúIt is extremely worrying,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúPeople will go to the Games in good faith and find
they might have worthless pieces of paper because Locog can keep changing the rules.‚ÄĚ
On Thursday, Eventeam executives in France told Mr Scott-Brown that refunds were not mandatory and only possible in exceptional circumstances, and if there was any refund Locog only required the face value of the tickets to be refunded.
The agents can also withhold the courier fee even though the tickets are not being sent out. This has left Mr Scott-Brown, who paid 349 euros (¬£298) for the tickets, 85 euros out of pocket.
‚ÄúThis gives them the right to make a substantial profit from me ‚ÄĒ around 25 per cent. They marked up the tickets, but want to keep the markup, and they are keeping the courier fee despite the fact that nothing will be sent.‚ÄĚ Mr Scott-Brown said.
The Locog spokesman said anyone who bought tickets through a reseller would need to contact the company directly to find out what its policy
I am organising an event to occur simultaneously with the London 2012 Olympics.
Mike's 2012 Pirate Boaters London Olympics.
Events will include running, jumping and various watersports events.
details and a website will be up in due course anyone that would like to be
involved in organising or participating please let me know. There will be naked
events as in ancient Greece.
Please feel free to circulate this email
European tour operators are predicting that visitors will stay away from London in droves during the 2012 Olympic Games next summer. The games, running July 27 to Aug. 12, are set to attract more than a million extra visitors to London. But what will happen to the hordes of theatregoers who normally travel from abroad each summer to take in shows in London's West End? The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) is warning of a colossal slump, saying that tourist bookings have been decimated.
Mark Rubinstein, president of the Society of London Theatre, said producers understand the Olympic period will represent ‚Äúa very different landscape from what we are used to at that time of year.‚ÄĚ But he added there are opportunities for theatres during the games.
factors making theatre buffs leery of London are congestion in an already busy area, high-priced hotel rooms with low availability as well as the other complications an Olympic host city might experience.
Perhaps not content to wait and see, word is that at least one producer is making noises about pulling the plug for the duration of the Olympics and the subsequent Paralympic Games, also in London. The Really Useful Theatre Group (RUG), the company owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is discussing closing its shows, including "Phantom of the Opera:" and "The Wizard of Oz." for the Olympic period, though a RUG spokesman says "nothing has yet been confirmed."
PaweŇā Podg√≥rski as Phantom in the musical "The Phantom of the Opera" in Roma Musical Theatre in Warsaw, 05.05.2009.
Like ‚ÄĘ 1 person liked this
Earlier in the year, the theatre community was much more optimistic. This July, producers of the acclaimed musical "Wicked," the
ninth-longest-running musical in the West End, announced it was extending booking to through the Summer Olympics, with tickets on sale until October of 2012. The extension at the Apollo Victoria Theatre also encompasses the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in Britain next June.
If some London theatres do end up closing their doors during the Olympic Games, there will be no shortage of other attractions to keep fans entertained. Among the theatre highlights for the London 2012 Festival program, a vast cultural smorgasbord unveiled last week in a press conference, patrons will find "Crow," a new show from the Handspring Puppet Company, responsible for the successful "War Horse," which won a Tony Award on Broadway and is opening in February in Toronto. "Crow" will be staged as part of the Greenwich & Docklands Festival.
Other events from the Cultural Olympiad, aimed to "match the Olympic and Paralympic Games in offering once-in-a-lifetime
experiences," include "To Be Or Not To Be: Shakespeare Encountered," presented by Olivier Award winner Mark Rylance as a celebration of Shakespeare's birthday. It is more event than show, described as "a series of pop-up performances of sonnets and the speeches around London." Also, just a month before the start of the Olympic Games, there will be a free theatrical musical extravagana that "will welcome the cast of every single one of London's musicals to Trafalgar Square on June 23 and 24. For those who love dancing, the annual London "Big Dance" aims to reach 5 million people and culminates in Trafalgar Square on July 14 with more than 1,000 choreographed performers celebrating Big Street Dance Day.
"In a time of world economic crisis, I think we need art and culture even more than when time are good," said Tony Hall, chair of the Cultural Olympiad Board upon the unveiling of the festival.
Music and athletics will mingle on the Olympics'
opening day, July 27, with a mass bell-ringing project in which bells all over Britain will be rung simultaneously for three minutes, beginning at 8 p.m.
The 2012 Olympics will take place on 2.5 square km of land in East London, on what was once contaminated industrial land.
US plans to send 500 FBI agents to protect its athletes as organisers admit underestimating number of security guards needed
The US has raised repeated concerns about security at the London Olympics and is preparing to send up to 1,000 of its agents, including 500 from the FBI, to provide protection for America's contestants and diplomats, the Guardian has learned.
American officials have expressed deep unease that the UK has had to restrict the scope of anti-terrorism "stop and search" powers, and have sought a breakdown of the number of British police and other security personnel that will be available next summer.
The prime minister and other senior members of the cabinet, including home secretary Theresa May and culture
and sport secretary Jeremy Hunt, are taking turns to chair security meetings about the Olympics, which are often dominated by the latest questions from the US, sources said.
But Washington's need for reassurance is exasperating British officials and anti-terrorism officials, who have privately raised concerns about the meddling, as well as the size of the US "footprint" in the UK during the games next year.
"We are not equal partners in this," said one security official. "They are being very demanding."
The friction is adding to the pressures on the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), which is responsible for preparing and staging the event.
The Guardian has learned the committee is attempting to resolve a potential crisis over venue security, after conceding it had underestimated the number of security guards needed at the 32 sites across the country. Originally it had thought 10,000
guards would be enough, but after a review over the summer it now believes it will need up to 21,000.
Venue safety is not the responsibility of the police, so the firm G4S was awarded the contract to find and train the initial group. The company will this week begin an advertising campaign to meet that target. But the organising committee does not have the money to pay G4S to make up the shortfall, and does not believe the firm has enough time to do so, forcing ministers to turn to the Ministry of Defence for help.
The MoD has offered 3,000 soldiers, and another 2,000 in reserve ‚Äď half the total required. The ministry is working within its own tight budget, and the late request for help has irritated some officials.
"What have they been doing for the last five years?" asked one. "There is less than a year to go and they've only just realised they need twice the number of security guards they first thought. Where is the money to
pay for this coming from? It is an extra burden on the defence budget that we could well do without." Another source said: "Everyone has now realised 10,000 was an underestimate. This is one of the biggest problems facing the Olympic authorities because there is an absolute dearth of vetted and qualified private security guards. Senior police had advised ministers and the committee that 10,000 was too few, but nobody wanted to listen because of the cost involved.
"The military will have to stand up some people. Otherwise G4S have got the Olympic committee over a barrel."
The problem will do little to reassure Washington, which will be supplementing its FBI personnel with an equal number of diplomatic security officials, some of whom will be armed.
Though the UK's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has lowered the threat of attack to "substantial" ‚Äď the third level on the scale ‚Äď western intelligence agencies remain
They know it is possible that al-Qaida, or one of its affiliates, may attempt to disrupt the Olympics, with members of the US team being obvious targets.
The Home Office and Scotland Yard believe the UK has a robust security strategy, but this has not stopped American officials voicing their concerns.
The police response to the London riots, the arrest of a security guard at the London Olympics site earlier this year, and the arrests made shortly before the visit of the Pope last year have provoked anxiety among US officials. The repeal of section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allowed police to stop and search suspects with near impunity, also raised alarm.
One well-placed Whitehall source said the entire Olympic security operation was being prepared "with the US in mind", adding: "The US will have no qualms in saying it is unsafe. If something happens and we say we had did not have enough people, we are
Another official said: "The Americans are risk-averse, with a capital A and underlined. They want to see everything. We are not equal partners in this. They want to be on top of everything ‚Äď building protection, counter-terrorism strategy and VIP security ‚Äď everything."
Asked about the size of the US contingent heading to London next year, the official said: "They don't do things by halves."
In addition to the official American security entourage, the sponsors of the Games, including Coca-Cola, will have their own private security details, adding to the complexity of the policing operation.
The Ministry of Defence and the Home Office said no final decisions had yet been taken on the number of soldiers that might be needed to beef up security at some of the Olympic sites.
An official said the need for an increase at the venues had become apparent when the Olympic committee began to role-play scenarios at
some of the completed sites over the summer.
"The focus of the government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy," a government spokesman said.
"Ministers and officials from across government are working closely with the police and Locog to ensure we have a robust safety and security strategy."
Officials said ministers, the Olympic committee and G4S were working together "to finalise the requirements for Olympic venue security". "As with all significant national events, we will make the best and most appropriate use of available resources," a statement said. "The Ministry of Defence have been fully involved in supporting Olympic security planning work."
G4S said it was confident of recruiting 10,000 security guards, and could recruit more, as long as the Olympic authorities gave the company enough time. "We need to know as soon as
possible," said a spokesman.
The US state department declined to comment.
|There is a discussion at TentCityUniversity http://tentcityuniversity.occupylsx.org/?page_id=4|
this saturday with Jennifer Jones for all who are interested
Occupying the Olympics: Citizen Media and London 2012 (Reclaiming the narrative)
Sat, 19 November, 12:00 ‚Äď 13:00
My work looks at citizen media and the Olympic Games and how the internet can be used as a radical space to challenge dominant media events such as the games. Worked in Vancouver with local citizen media groups who were trying to challenge the games, been to the International Olympic Academy.
Bhopal Medical Campaign Press Conference at ViewTube to launch campaign to demand LOCOG stop using Dow to sponsor stadium.
1pm on Tuesday 15th November
IOC Petitioned Against Forceful Eviction For 2016 Rio De Janeiro
11/15/2011 1:25 AM ET
(RTTNews) - Residents' groups and local housing activists, supported by
human rights organizations, have sent a joint letter to the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) urging the organizers of the 2016 Summer Olympic
Games to stop the Brazilian authorities from forcibly evicting hundreds
of families across Rio de Janeiro amid preparations for the international
Rights watchdogs Amnesty International and WITNESS joined the local
groups in bringing to the apex sports body's attention that families in
dozens of the Brazilian city's low-income areas have lost or are at risk
of losing their homes as the authorities build infrastructure for the
"Forcing families out of their homes without adequate notice, prior
consultation with those affected and without offering adequate
alternative housing or provision of legal remedies flies in the face of
the very values the Olympics stand for, and violates Brazil's laws and
international human rights commitments," says the letter.
The Olympic organizers have been urged to "use their influence to
put an end to this practice now, before it's too late. The IOC must not
be complicit with human rights abuses carried out in its name, and should
publicly and unequivocally condemn all forced evictions in Rio de
Favelas and informal settlements around the city have already been
affected over the past year and more are slated for future planned
evictions by the authorities.
Former community residents have not received adequate compensation or
suitable alternative housing, violating international human rights
This pattern of abuse has been repeated in other communities over the
past year, with authorities often
putting pressure on residents for months on end to accept
sub-standard offers instead of following procedural and legal safeguards
before evictions take place.
The situation became so severe earlier this year that the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik,
intervened to demand that the Brazilian government "stop planned
evictions until dialogue and negotiation can be ensured."
"We recognize that Rio de Janeiro's authorities need to install
adequate infrastructure to ensure the success and safety of the 2014
World Cup and the 2016 Olympics," said the organizations.
"But this must be carried out in a spirit of consultation and
collaboration with the affected communities, to ensure that their rights
are protected in the process," they pointed out in the letter to
by RTT Staff Writer
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.
London councils have warned that the controversial Olympic Games road lanes may be turned into a form of valet parking because the potential fines are too low.
Transport for London is looking to have fines for non-Olympic traffic using the lanes increased to ¬£200, reduced to ¬£100 if paid immediately. But the councils say the system could encourage a form of cheap parking for cars arriving near Games venues with four to six passengers inside.
Olympic Delivery Authority director of transport Hugh Sumner said consultation and discussions would take place with Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and the Government after Christmas ‚Äúso that everyone is comfortable with what makes
‚ÄúIf everyone has six people in a car and they park up, splitting the fine is not much. it is important that the message gets out that this is a car-free Olympics,‚ÄĚ Sumner said.
Meanwhile, TfL has identified more than 20 transport hot spots that face severe overcrowding during the Games. But people wanting to plan their journeys will not be able to find out the details until next month.
Similarly businesses wanting information about night-time deliveries and the impact of road closures will have to wait until next year after seven pilot programmes are complete.
¬£5 commemorative coins 14 Nov 2011
Olympic ticket holders left in limbo 10 Nov 2011
International star to book into camps 09 Nov 2011
Government spends ¬£750k on Olympic tickets 07 Nov 2011
PM banned from torch relay 07 Nov 2011
Heathrow to open 'Olympians only' terminal 12 Oct 2011
The London Assembly
was told by the mayor‚Äôs deputy for transport, Isabel Dedring, that ‚Äúboroughs are very nervous about residents‚Äô reaction‚ÄĚ to night-time delivery noise. But TfL bosses say businesses have to be patient.
Ben Plowden, the director of better routes and places for TfL, told the Assembly: ‚ÄúIf we talk [about the hot spots] at this point it would not have much purpose.‚ÄĚ
Overall, TfL is looking to have normal commuter traffic reduced by 30 per cent during the Games to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Olympic visitors. But some railway and underground stations will require a much greater reduction.
LONDON: London Olympic Games chief Sebastian Coe has defended the decision to sign a sponsorship deal with the Dow Chemical Company despite the firm's links to one of the world's worst industrial disasters.
Some 15,000 peopled died and tens of thousands more were maimed and poisoned when gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India in 1984.
US-based Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001 and has ever since denied responsibility for the Bhopal catastrophe.
Dow stepped in to fund the fabric wrap of the main Olympic Stadium in Stratford east London, the centrepiece venue of next year's Games, after the covering was initially ditched last year in a move
estimated to have saved the British Government some £7 million.
But several Indian athletes have called for the Dow sponsorship to be scrapped and former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell is one of several MPs who have raised concerns about the deal.
However, Coe - a double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist, told a committee of law-makers on Tuesday: "I am the grandson of an Indian so I am not completely unaware of this as an issue, but I am satisfied that at no time did Dow operate, own or were involved with the plant either at the time of the disaster or crucially at the time of the full and final settlement.
"The Indian Supreme Court has upheld on two previous occasions the settlement that was reached by the previous owners of that plant."
The London 2012 chairman added: "I have looked at it very closely and I have looked at the history.
"I am satisfied that the ownership, operation and the involvement either at
the time of the disaster or at the final settlement was not the responsibility of Dow.
"Absolutely there are ongoing issues. They are with the Indian government."
Coe insisted he had "no sense at all that the Indian National Olympic Committee have even broached the thought of a boycott" of London 2012 over the issue.
A plan to put a giant Olympic logo on Edinburgh Castle to mark the Games in London has sparked fury in the Scottish capital.
The 18m wide and 8.5m high emblem would dominate the city's historic skyline, a Unesco world heritage site.
Scots have complained that the plans are "insulting" and could set a precedent for advertising on the famous 12th century fortress. The capital's leading civic heritage group has opposed it and called on Olympics officials to "leave the castle alone."
Despite being 400 miles away from the 2012 Games in London, officials hope the symbol will reflect the inclusiveness of the Olympics.
the plan is approved, the five Olympic rings would be installed on the north-western rampart of the castle ‚Äď visible from more than two miles away. The rings have already gone up at at St Pancras station and permission has been granted for a further set on Tower Bridge.
The rings would be displayed until August, followed by a temporary installation of the Paralympics logo until September.
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has applied for planning permission with the Scottish agency, Historic Scotland. The agency is expected to comment on the application before Edinburgh councillors vote on the plans early next year.
But the move has angered local politicians and heritage groups. Marion Williams, director of Edinburgh's civic body, the Cockburn Association
said: "I think it's daft, insulting and ridiculous. They should leave the castle alone and get on with having the Olympics in London. Edinburgh has other things to worry about at the moment.I'm not grumpy about the Olympics, but I am grumpy about London stamping its mark on Edinburgh."
Locog says in its application that both London landmarks are Grade 1 listed buildings ‚Äď similar to Edinburgh Castle's scheduled monument status.
But Williams disagrees. "What a cheek to compare St Pancras and Tower Bridge with Edinburgh Castle," she said.
"There won't be anybody in Edinburgh who thinks this is a good idea."
Burgess, a Green Party councillor, said:"While we should be positive about the Olympic games I'm not sure defacing the castle for four months
is the best way to do it. If this emblem has to go somewhere, there's room for it beside the castle rather than smack bang on top of an attractive ancient and historic monument."
Edinburgh Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz added: "I would be concerned that this could become a precedent for other publicity campaigns wanting to use such a prestigious site."
Meanwhile, Scotland learned last week that it will miss out on all of Team GB's football fixtures, with Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium preferred to Hampden.
a Locog spokesman said: "The London 2012 festival takes place across the UK and its a really strong programme of cultural celebration alongside the games in Scotland. With that, the torch relay and football
being hosted at Hampden Park it's part of delivering on our promise to genuinely make this a UK-wide games."
London taxpayers are facing a financial black hole of ¬£229 million after the Government failed to commit funds to repay outstanding land costs of the Olympic Park.
John Biggs, the chair of the London Assembly budget and performance committee, said the assembly's worst fears appear to have been realised in relation to the ongoing financial risks around the Olympic land at Stratford.
He warned that taxpayers may face an extension of the Olympic council tax levy which costs Londoners an extra ¬£20 a year, beyond the levy's expiry date of 2016, to help pay for Olympic Park.
The Olympic Park debt is held by the Greater London Authority as part of a deal struck in 2010 that handed the land over to
the Olympic Park Legacy Company from the soon to be abolished London Development Agency.
The LDA debt came from the acquisition and treatment of the land to make it fit for development.
As part of that transfer deal to the OPLC, an understanding was reached where the Government would provide grants to help pay down bank loans associated with the debt, anticipated to be ¬£349 million on April 1, 2012.
Boris: no extra cost for taxpayer for 2017 16 Nov 2011
Test event tickets on sale 16 Nov 2011
Olympic parking fines 'too low' 15 Nov 2011
¬£5 commemorative coins 14 Nov 2011
International star to book into camps 09 Nov 2011
Olympic ticket holders left in limbo 10 Nov 2011
However in the City Hall's draft budget for 2012-13 it has emerged that the Government's commitment will end on March 31, 2014, leaving ¬£229 million still owing.
''We believe the Government is not offering
funding towards that [amount],'' Biggs told Telegraph Sport.
''At present we all stand behind the Mayor [Boris Johnson] to ensure that the Government sticks to its word to fund the cost of the land,'' he said.
''This is a pretty enormous hole.
‚ÄúIt looks as though the GLA now has to deal with an enormous long term debt arising from the Games land, at a time when its overall pot of money is reducing.
‚ÄúWhat will this debt will mean for London? Will funding need to be cut from other regeneration projects, and will Londoners be paying for the Olympics for even longer than originally thought?''
Previously the Mayor has said the debt would be covered by the Government grants and the sale of assets.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said:
"The GLA is in discussions with government about an overall financial settlement to reflect the important new responsibilities in housing and other areas
that it will be taking on as a result of the Localism Act. These discussions and the final settlement will of course take account of the debt liabilities the GLA inherits from the LDA."
London transport is 'getting worse' in the runup to the 2012 Games and could turn legacy claims into an embarrassment
Iman Saab has just been left behind by a London bus that she needed to take because her two nearest underground stations are inaccessible to her. After 20 minutes, another half-empty bus arrives but once again she is unable to board. The reason? The space she and her wheelchair would take is occupied by a pushchair and baby whose accompanying parent fails to move to let Saab in.
It's a frustrating start to a journey Saab is taking with the Guardian to Stratford International, the nearest station to the Olympic stadium, to illustrate the experiences of people with disabilities on London's transport
As the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics approach, and amid claims that they will be the most accessible ever, disability activists say the city is losing sight of that goal as austerity-driven cuts bite.
Rather than leaving a legacy that could transform the lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities across the city, campaigners say that 2012 could be an embarrassment.
"Ironically, it seems as if the apartheid in the transport system is getting worse rather than better in the runup to the Paralympics," said Jonathan Bartley, a Green party candidate for the London assembly who, as the father of a boy with spina bifida, tackled David Cameron on last year's election trail over the alleged segregation of disabled children in the education system.
Nearly 80% of tube stations are still not accessible, including some serving Olympic venues, according to the campaign group Transport for All, while the everyday
experience of wheelchair users attempting to navigate the city is one of being unable to board buses and being ignored by taxis, the group said.
Disability campaigners, who put Boris Johnson under pressure recently at the mayor's Disability Capital Conference 2011, accuse Transport for London (TfL) of cutting targets on making bus stops accessible and stations step-free, and of cutting staff.
After reaching Waterloo station Saab takes a lift down to the Jubilee line platform and boards a train shortly before lunchtime. It's not always so easy ‚Äď try getting a wheelchair on to a tube during morning and evening rush hour. Also, while the carriages in this case are fairly level with the train ‚Äď the Jubilee is the newest tube line ‚Äď at other times there would be a need for a helping hand from a staff member, if one was around.
The journey improves further after changing on to the Docklands Light Railway, with its spacious trains,
raised hand bar and flip-up seats.
Last month brought negative pre-Olympic publicity for transport authorities. They were accused of breaking the law, following the emergence of an internal TfL email instructing staff not to send "VIPs" ‚Äď visually impaired people ‚Äď to Victoria station during evening peak hours due to refurbishments for the next few weeks.
"There have been a few instances recently where VIPs have turned up at Victoria during this time and it has caused some problems," it read.
It brought a rebuke from the Royal London Society for Blind People, which has its headquarters around the corner from the station and was taken entirely by surprise.
"London Underground has an ongoing legal duty to blind and partially sighted people under the Disability Discrimination Act," said its director, Sue Sharp.
"Failure to honour their obligations as they carry out repairs and refurbishments would be both illegal and
a serious dereliction of their duty."
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, joined the criticism: "RMT warned when TfL bulldozed through their station staffing cuts as part of Boris Johnson's ¬£5bn cuts programme that the visually impaired and people with other disabilities would be hit hard and here we have the concrete proof."
For visually impaired people such as Mohammed Mohsanali, one of the greatest obstacles may be other passengers, as he sets off from Victoria on a similar Stratford-bound journey to that taken by Saab.
At one point a tall man in a suit passes through the ticket stiles in front of Mohsanali, who touches his pass to open the barriers again. Turning around, the man charges back through the stiles, glancing at Mohsanali and his white cane before shouldering past. "You have to accept that you can't control people," says Mohsanali, who takes the jostling with a resigned smile, adding that he often asks
members of the public for assistance.
As for TfL, he gives it seven marks out of 10, docking points for poor communication about problems such as diversions and closures.
Arriving into at the gleaming new station at Stratford, he says it was one he tends to avoid due to its layout, and notes the absence of audio announcements throughout his trip to and from Stratford International.
And Transport staff are also a mixed picture. While his experience of bus drivers in south London was excellent, he avoided taking buses in the east, where he said drivers were less helpful.
"Some just remain silent when you ask a question. Others don't know where the bus terminates," he adds.
Of most concern to him and Transport for All were the cuts, which they say mean less staff. Faryal Velmi, Transport for All's director, said: "What is the point of TfL spending millions of pounds on improving access on the tube when the staff are not
there to assist people? With the Olympics and Paralympics round the corner, we only dread to think what will happen when disabled visitors and even Paralympians attempt to use the tube."
In the often embittered industrial relations on London's transport network, the RMT union says that outlying stations are sometimes now left unstaffed, monitored instead from a one nearby. But TfL insists unmanned stations do not exist, adding that the Oyster card system means the number of customers using ticket offices has declined sharply.
Wayne Trevor, London Underground's accessibility manager, said: "We are on track to help deliver a fantastic Olympic and Paralympic Games and are fully committed to making our network as accessible as possible both for 2012 and beyond.
"We have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in accessibility improvements over the last few years, meeting and exceeding the transport improvement commitments that we
A total of 63 tube stations now have step-free access, with two more due to be ready by the time the Games arrive, and there is a network of 8,500 low-floor buses fitted with wheelchair ramps and onboard visual and audio announcements ‚Äď the most accessible network in the country. Of the Victoria station situation, Trevor said all passengers had been asked to use an alternative station if possible after the start of refurbishments in January. Alternative transport to Victoria was organised for visually impaired passengers from nearby stations.
After arriving in Stratford on a journey that took 20 minutes longer than TfL's online journey planner had predicted, Iman Saab is nevertheless impressed by what she finds. "This is a very good station in terms of access," she says. "It would be great if this could be the future standard for other stations elsewhere."
The high-speed rail service between Kent and London will be severely reduced during the Olympic Games.
High-speed trains will not run from Folkestone, Dover, Canterbury, Ramsgate or Margate, however, services remain at Ashford and Faversham.
The Javelin trains will instead be used as a shuttle service between St Pancras, Stratford and Ebbsfleet International stations.
Southeastern Trains said it would compensate high-speed commuters.
Jon Hay-Campbell, from Southeastern, said the high-speed shuttle service was part of London's bid to secure the Games in 2012.
"We recognise that those who have high-speed tickets will be at a disadvantage, so we will compensate them during the Olympic Games," he said.
The compensation will only apply to commuters who
hold season tickets of one month or more.
Commuters will have to use mainline services into London, which will remain broadly unaffected.
City Hall will rewrite the Tube rule-book in a bid to fix the system in the build-up to the Olympics, the deputy mayor for transport said today.
Drivers will be told, under plans now being considered, not to follow slavishly Transport for London guidelines that cause delays to passengers.
Cameras are also set to be fitted under trains to warn of track defects before they cause major failures.
The transport deputy mayor Isabel Dedring vowed to use "relentless attention to detail" to confront all conceivable problems as the Games approach. Her move came as Tube bosses announced they will rush through a ¬£27‚ÄČmillion programme to improve Central line trains in time for the Olympics. There is growing concern at
the network's ability to cope during the Games.
Boris Johnson personally rebuked the firm that operates signalling on the Jubilee line after a series of delays.
An extra one million passengers a day will flood the network - already carrying 3.4‚ÄČmillion - for the Games.
Reliability of the Jubilee line, the principal route linking central London to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, is causing most concern.
It is used by more than 600,000 passengers a day and has been blighted by problems affecting its new signalling system. Last week tens of thousands of passengers suffered delays after the computers controlling the trains crashed.
Ms Dedring, 40, admitted that the Jubilee line could "still be a lot better" as she spoke about the "healthy tension" between City Hall and TfL.
She revealed the Mayor personally called bosses at Thales, the firm operating the Jubilee line's signalling system, to rebuke them for
The American said: "He told them, 'Do you appreciate that this is a reputational issue for you? We're running up to the Olympics and the eyes of the world are going to be on London."
Ms Dedring added that she is now trying to rewrite the rule book to cut through some of TfL's bureaucracy.
"There's a book of rules the operators use," she said. "One rule is that if the signal is red you have to wait two minutes before you call the control room and say the signal's not budging.
"Sometimes maybe drivers wait another couple of minutes as they want to make sure there really is a problem. Is that the kind of thing where you might want to say that after 30 seconds you should call the control room?
"You have this rule book and that's the way we operate the network. It's one of these things that has grown organically over time but now... without compromising safety issues, what can we be doing to improve
TfL is testing a new hi-tech camera that will reveal hidden possible problems developing unnoticed in rails.
Ms Dedring, who has degrees in law, Russian and political science from Harvard and speaks four languages, spent five years at TfL as chief of staff to former commissioner Bob Kiley.
Insiders say she was brought in to "get tough" on TfL and has "ruffled a few feathers" since her appointment.
The former management consultant, who once worked for Ernst & Young in Kazakhstan, admitted there are still problems with the Tube. "Is the Tube way better than it used to be 30 years ago? Yes," she said. "Ten years ago? Yes. Three years ago? Yes. Could it still be a lot better? Definitely."
On the Jubilee line she said: "It's getting better. There are still problems none of us want to see and there are idiosyncrasies in the software. Every month we're getting rid of more of the possible scenarios that
Asked if she is at loggerheads with TfL over her Tube masterplan, she said: "There is a healthy tension between the Mayor's office and TfL and that's the way it should be."
Scotland paid in full for the 2012 Olympics but will gain little, argues Richard Bath
THE net cost to Scotland of staging the ¬£9.3 billion London Olympics next summer will be many tens of millions, yet when Glasgow stages the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the full ¬£300‚ÄČmillion cost will be picked up by Scotland‚Äôs taxpayers, not England‚Äôs. Fair? Hardly. Iniquitous? Quite possibly.
That story is at the core of the larger political narrative about the 2012 Olympics north of the Border, yet it is just one of a dripfeed of issues which have helped to raise questions about Scotland‚Äôs relationship with the Games. The latest came earlier this week when a proposal for an eight-foot high Olympic
rings logo to be hung on the walls of Edinburgh Castle was condemned as crass by the Cockburn Association.
There have been several flashpoints over the Olympic project since that dramatic day in Singapore in July 2005 when Seb Coe and his star-studded bid team unexpectedly pipped Paris to the main prize in the International Olympic Committee vote. During the bidding process that preceded that announcement, Coe was at pains to point out the need for national unity within the UK, yet with his Scottish critics arguing that the promised quid pro quo has simply failed to materialise, the sniping between London and Edinburgh continues.
A lack of Olympic contracts for Scottish companies, a ¬£150m decline in the amount of lottery funding for Scottish grass-roots causes, the lack of legacy projects for Scotland, the lack of events in Scotland and the potential damage to Scotland‚Äôs tourist industry ‚Äď all have played their part in a perception
among some at Holyrood that Scotland is not getting the full bang for its buck out of a scheme that began life as Tony Blair‚Äôs vanity project.
One such commentator is Dennis Canavan, the former MSP who was convener of Holyrood‚Äôs cross-party sports group at the time of the Olympic bid. ‚ÄúThere is ample evidence that Scotland is not getting its fair share,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúWhether it‚Äôs the decrease in lottery money going to voluntary institutions or lack of contracts for Scottish businesses, what we are effectively seeing is money being transferred to London to Scotland‚Äôs disadvantage.
‚ÄúAt the time of the Olympics bid, as the convener of the all-party sports group I hosted an event for Seb Coe at the Scottish Parliament at which he explained a lot of the benefits that he said would come to Scotland. But the spin-offs that he promised simply haven‚Äôt been delivered. The outlook is not completely negative by any means, and I think
it‚Äôll be a great Games, but there‚Äôs a perception building that Scotland is being hard done by, and that needs to be addressed.‚ÄĚ
Canavan believes that when the Games start, the whole of the UK will get behind the event in general and Team GB ‚Äď which is likely to include 40-45 Scots athletes ‚Äď in particular. Yet he is uncomfortably aware that, in the interim, the perception that Scotland is not getting its fair share is being seized upon by the Nationalists. He is urging the organisers to ensure Scottish businesses are seen to be in the running for any remaining contracts which can be awarded ‚Äúas a matter of urgency‚ÄĚ.
First Minister Alex Salmond‚Äôs view on the Olympics suggest that Canavan is right to fear the Nationalists are alive to the sense of the Olympics as a money-pit diverting resources from Scotland.
‚ÄúThey haven‚Äôt given a red cent to Glasgow, all the money for the Commonwealth Games is coming from the
Scottish Government and 20 per cent from the council,‚ÄĚ said the First Minister. ‚Äú[They are] lavishing money on London regeneration at a time of recession while they are not spending the equivalent in Scotland. I don‚Äôt begrudge London regeneration money, but I do begrudge the fact the government are not prepared to do the same here or elsewhere in Scotland.‚ÄĚ
The most obvious issue is legacy, the Games‚Äô buzzword. Where there were a whole host of sports that could have been held in Scotland, the decision was instead taken to stage a maximum of eight early-round women‚Äôs and men‚Äôs football matches at Hampden despite the concept of a football Team GB proving so controversial in Scotland. Demand for tickets is weak and a re-run of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, when a game at Murrayfield between world champions South Africa and Uruguay drew an embarrassingly small crowd of less than 5,000, is not an impossibility.
Scotstoun, Stirling University, Bellahouston Park, Murray Park or any other number of facilities, Scotland also has an incredibly well-developed sports infrastructure, yet only Namibia and Zambia ‚Äď two nations with a sum total of two dozen athletes ‚Äď will be using the facilities on offer. ‚ÄúI think the question we have all been asking is ‚Äėwhat legacy‚Äô?‚ÄĚ said Graham Bell, the spokesman for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Actually, the legacy spend is 1.5 per cent of the total budget, and only a tiny percentage of that will make it over Hadrian‚Äôs Wall. Minimal just about covers that.
Incredibly, despite ¬£150m of Scottish lottery money (including ¬£14.11m from SportScotland) being diverted from the grassroots causes north of the Border to help fund the Olympics, Scots are barred from benefiting from an important aspect of the Games‚Äô flagship legacy initiative. The Places People Play programme was announced with suitable
pomp by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games chairman Lord Coe last year (salary: ¬£360,000 a year plus ¬£1,000 for each meeting attended), and will pump ¬£135m into sport over the next four years.
Except, because it is being handled by SportEngland and sport is a devolved issue, Scotland‚Äôs kids aren‚Äôt allowed to enter the programme‚Äôs draw for free tickets, which is restricted to England‚Äôs youngsters.
Scotland‚Äôs young people aren‚Äôt the only ones to be disappointed. Scottish business leaders have waited in vain for the deluge of contracts that were expected to result from such a huge event. Of that ¬£9.3bn, over ¬£5bn was due to be spent on infrastructure, all of it spent in Britain. Yet despite Scottish firms such as Letts Filofax in Dalkeith or Barr in Ayr getting in on the act, the final amount of contracts awarded to Scottish firms could be as little as 1 per cent of the total spend.
With a creeping
realisation that this is London‚Äôs Games, and London‚Äôs alone, even perceived strengths of the Games for Scotland are being reassessed through a new prism. Two years ago a report from the forecasting company, Oxford Economics, said that the Games would generate an extra ¬£2.01bn in tourist revenue for Britain, of which ¬£1.47bn would go to London and over ¬£500m to the rest of the UK, including Scotland. However, last week the European Tours Operators Association instead reported a 95 per cent downturn in bookings to London for July and August 2012, and predicted a serious knock-on effect for Scottish tourism given that most overseas tourists arrive via the UK capital.
These are all facts that have been answered with the blind mantra that it‚Äôs ‚ÄúBritain‚Äôs Games‚ÄĚ. For the media, the reality that this is London‚Äôs Games dawned in February this year when the allocation for press passes to the event was announced. The London-based papers
received an average of 18 accreditations per newspaper ‚Äď the Daily Express went to war because it only had 12 press passes ‚Äď while all Scotland‚Äôs newspapers got three press passes between them. Although this was extended to four on appeal when DC Thomson, the publisher‚Äôs of the Sunday Post, joined the Scotsman group, the Herald group and the Daily Record as the lucky ones to receive a single accreditation to cover the event, the disparity between the provision for English and Scottish media is breathtaking.
‚ÄúDuring the Olympics, readers north of the Border will inevitably have a great interest in Scottish competitors, irrespective of whether they win a gold medal or are just trying to qualify for the finals,‚ÄĚ said John McLellan, editor-in-chief of Scotsman Publications and chairman of the editors‚Äô committee of the Scottish Newspaper Society. ‚ÄúWith such paltry representation, Scotland‚Äôs national newspapers won‚Äôt be able to
report as well as our readers expect when it comes to Scots competitors. We won‚Äôt even be able to send a photographer to the women‚Äôs football at Hampden. The accreditation process has been opaque from the start and no-one should be fooled into thinking these are anything other than London‚Äôs games.‚ÄĚ
There is now a belated push to back up the rhetoric about this being Britain‚Äôs Games with firm action. The route that the Olympic Flame will travel through Scotland over six days next June ‚Äď along with the eight main destinations (Glasgow, Inverness, Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Lewis, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh) ‚Äď was published this week, while agreements on things as small as Glasgow 2014 having access to any equipment from 2012 that is still fit for purpose is trumpeted as if it was genuinely newsworthy.
Canavan was at pains to point out how many Scots are heading to London to see the Games for themselves, also stressing that
the real legacy of the Games will be the fact that Scots are inspired to exercise. Despite the late hour, he‚Äôs still talking up the possibility of Scottish companies winning contracts, something he says ‚Äúsimply must happen‚ÄĚ.
Even the SNP, having made its point loud and clear, is now beginning to wind its neck in and negotiate behind-the-scenes accommodations with its English counterparts on arcane but key points over taxation, rebates and the like. Commonwealth games and sports minister Shona Robison stressed that, in the interests of harmony when it comes to 2014, ‚Äúwe are already doing all we can to contribute to a successful Olympic Games in 2012‚ÄĚ.
She added: ‚ÄúIn addition the UK government, in its Partnership Agreement last May, pledged to work with the Scottish Government to ensure the success of the Commonwealth Games. We have had constructive discussions with UK ministers to turn these aspirations into reality and we
continue to make the case for a return of diverted lottery money from Scottish good causes, consequentials from regeneration funding and parity on both the income and corporation tax arrangements for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
‚ÄúWith less than a year to go until the Olympics and less than 1,000 days until the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, people across Scotland are looking forward to the excitement surrounding both. As the Games draw closer we will be increasing our engagement with our UK counterparts to make sure we get every benefit we can for Scotland as well as learning all we can for Glasgow in 2014.‚ÄĚ
Yet with just nine months to go until we have lift-off in London‚Äôs East End, the scope for wrangling is almost over. Ready or not, the countdown to London‚Äôs Games is about to begin
British Olympic Association chair and UK team manager condemns missed opportunities to inspire schoolchildren
The 2012 London Olympics will fail to deliver any lasting sporting legacy for most young Britons because of six years of failed government policy and "missed opportunity", the chairman of the British Olympic Association says today.
In an outspoken attack, Lord Moynihan, who will manage the British team for next summer's Games, said that since the UK won the 2012 bid in 2005 politicians have failed to honour pledges to drive through a national, sporting revolution at school and grassroots levels.
In terms that will infuriate ministers past and present, Moynihan ‚Äď who won an Olympic silver medal as a rowing
cox ‚Äď told the Observer that barring a last minute "step change" in policy to build better links between schools, local sports clubs and volunteers, the Games would spur precious little improvement.
"At the moment I don't see the policies being put in place that will build on the inspiration of the Games for young people and that will change their lives for a lasting sports legacy," he said. Pledges by the Labour government to deliver an average of five hours' sport a week in schools had not been met, and now further cuts were inevitable to local authority budgets thanks to the coalition's belt-tightening and refusal to ring-fence sports funding.
"There are too many schools still on two hours or less of sport a week, with no links to the local communities and clubs and volunteers, and that is a missed opportunity in the last six years. Politicians of all parties have the responsibility for setting policy and we have not seen that vision
delivered," he argued.
Moynihan, a former Tory sports minister, said it was "unacceptable" that 50% of British medal winners came from private schools, when the independent sector accounted for only 7% of the total number of pupils. The reason was a failed system that did not give opportunities or nurture talent among state-educated pupils by building a ladder of progression from schools to clubs. "We have got tens of thousands of really gifted, talented young sports stars whose talent is never identified. There is no ladder for them to climb and there is no structure for them to get to the top of," he said.
The Olympics would be "hugely successful" in three respects, he said: the regeneration of east London, the organisation of the Games and the performance of the British team. But his bitter disappointment at successive governments' lack of vision over six years since winning the bid was evident.
The promise to deliver a permanent
sporting legacy at grassroots level was at the heart of the UK's 2005 bid for the 2012 Olympics and was widely thought to have tilted the voting in London's favour. In 2006 Sebastian Coe, who spearheaded the bid and is now the chairman of London 2012, said: "Winning the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games represents the single biggest opportunity in our lifetime to transform sport and participation in sport in the UK forever.
"We have a unique opportunity that we must not squander to increase participation in sport, at community and grass roots levels as well as elite levels; from the school playground to the winner's podium."
The then prime minister, Tony Blair, attributed the success of the London bid to the fact that it made "a statement about sport and its importance in the development of young people for the future, in their health, in their fitness, in terms of their responsibilities as citizens".
Moynihan maintained that
culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's plan for a national "school games" in the run-up to the Olympics would be good for paralympic sport but inadequate overall, because less than half of state schools had signed up. "There should be a universal policy. There should be no school that isn't engaged in the school sport network for the government's flagship project. Every primary and every secondary school should be involved in that."
When he became education secretary in May 2010, one of Michael Gove's first acts was to slash funding for sports in school and end all ring-fenced funding. After an outcry Gove restored some money but still refused to insist that headteachers spent it on sport.
Many organisations such as the Youth Sport Trust had done very good work, said Moynihan, but school sport remained a "patchwork".
Gove's desire to move away from micro-managed, centrally developed policy was correct, Moynihan argued. But he insisted that
in the case of sport it could never work unless the money was earmarked for that purpose. "The problem is that if they [heads] have total discretion over the way they spend it, the same heads who undertook good practice in the past will continue and those who did not put a priority on sport will continue not to do so. If you make it mandatory to spend on sports provision, then the onus is on the school heads to engage with local clubs," he said.
RAF snipers will be armed with high calibre rifles that can penetrate concrete and destroy engine blocks
Snipers on board military helicopters will patrol the skies over London during next summer‚Äôs Olympic Games.
Sources say the military crackshots ‚Äď dubbed ‚Äėheli-snipers‚Äô by defence chiefs ‚Äď will fly above the capital in case terrorists attempt an atrocity at the prestigious event.
The RAF snipers are understood to have been training recently at the restricted Lydd military live-firing range near the Kent coast to sharpen their skills.
Taking aim: RAF snipers will be deployed in London to target potential threats to the 2012 Olympic Games
Death from above: The snipers will hover above Olympic sites in Lynx MK7 helicopters, like this one, which have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan
One source told The Mail on Sunday that the training had been designed specifically to prepare for an Olympic Games deployment to protect stadium sites in East London and elsewhere.
Flying in Merlin or Lynx helicopters, the snipers are capable of killing an attacker at a range of more than a mile using a Barrett ‚ÄėLight Fifty‚Äô rifle, which fires a powerful .50-calibre half-inch bullet at 2,799 feet per second.
Surface-to-air missiles could be used to protect London Olympics, says Defence Secretary
Even at night, the flying snipers can kill an enemy 1,000‚ÄČyards away using night sights and infra-red lasers for target-marking as they keep in touch with commanders on the ground using encrypted military radio frequencies.
Their rifles have the power
to destroy engine blocks and fire through concrete from long range, making it difficult for a terrorist to take cover.
Bird's eye view: The snipers will be able to kill suspected terrorists from up to a mile away - even at night
The airborne sharpshooters were deployed in Iraq, where they were described by the Ministry of Defence as a ‚Äėspecial weapon‚Äô against the insurgent threat.
In Iraq, the snipers were on standby around the clock to provide protection from the air and carried out sniping and surveillance duties on the ground.
Now, they could find themselves on operational duty in the UK for the first time, helping to protect prime venues such as the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium and the Aquatic Centre.
Airborne threats: Surface-to-air missiles may also be part of the armoury available to Olympics security forces
Last week, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond revealed in the Commons after a question
from his predecessor, Dr Liam Fox, that ground-to-air missiles were part of the armoury that may be used during the Olympics if required.
Mr Hammond‚Äôs statement was interpreted as an attempt to show how seriously the UK is taking the terror threat after it was revealed that the US is preparing to send 1,000 armed agents, including 500 from the FBI, to protect its competitors.
High security: Left, police officers take part in a search exercise at the Olympic Stadium. Right, Mail cartoonist Pugh imagines the scene at the start of an event
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night: ‚ÄėThe MoD has been fully involved in Olympic security planning work and it is anticipated that the Armed Forces, at the request of the civilian authorities, will provide some specialist support including the use of assets where appropriate. However, this will be a police-led operation and any military involvement will be in a supporting
‚ÄėIt is too early to talk about the numbers of personnel who may be involved or further details around precisely what support the MoD might provide ‚Äď but ongoing planning to meet a range of contingencies is sensible.‚Äô
The spokesman added: ‚ÄėThis work is not in response to any specific threat but, as the Defence Secretary said in Parliament, all necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of the London Olympic Games will be taken.‚Äô
Ministers ponder tough new powers to prevent Occupy-style protests interfering with Games
Ministers are planning legal action to restrict public protests during the Olympics, amid fears that Britain could be disrupted by lengthy and high-profile demonstrations.
The Home Office is so concerned about the impact of the stalemate over the Occupy London (OLSX) encampment outside St Paul's Cathedral that officials have been ordered to produce plans for avoiding a similar conflict during the Games next summer.
Ministers' plans, based on the measures put in place to remove long-term protesters from outside Parliament, includes identifying "exclusion zones" around key locations, and fast-tracking the removal of
protests that do not have the blessing of the authorities. It would permit police to move in and disperse encampments quickly, in line with last week's clearance of the Occupy Wall Street camp in New York.
Protesters and legal experts condemned the moves as an assault on the right to peaceful protest. An OLSX spokeswoman, Naomi Colvin, said: "If the Government wants to do something that will restrict the right of peaceful protest, it will be in serious trouble. The coalition appears to be abandoning any attempt to behave like a democratic government."
Police have been given enhanced powers to act against protests at the Olympics since the Games were awarded to London six years ago, including the right to enter private homes and seize political posters. However, the St Paul's protest and the difficulties resolving the ensuing row raised further concerns about potential threats to the Games.
A senior Home Office source said the
department had drawn up a series of proposals, largely based on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, that pave the way for the removal of protests and encampments in Parliament Square. The responsibility for taking legal action against protests and encampments would be transferred from landowners to public authorities.
"The threat from protests was always a danger during planning for the Olympics, but the St Paul's protest has shoved it up the agenda," the source said. "It is not just embarrassing, it can be a threat to security."
Colin Hay, professor of political analysis at Sheffield University, said the measures were in line with often controversial pre-Olympic preparations seen elsewhere. He added: "There is nothing better designed to prompt a wave of peaceful protest than the prospect of legislation designed to limit the opportunities for such protest."
Dame Vivienne Westwood yesterday rallied the
anti-capitalist protesters outside St Paul's with a demand for young people to step off the "consumer treadmill" and "get a life". In a speech at the encampment, the fashion designer said: "You have to have culture to get a life. You have to have perspective to have [a reasoned] opinion."
The link below is to an article about apparent plans to deploy airforce snipers
in helicopters during the Olympics. We can all feel safe now we know the
government and military are taking security seriously. It is interesting to see
how the news of the security measures are being leaked, from "a source", clearly
government, a little at a time. A couple of weeks ago we learn that there are
plans to put troops on the ground during the event, a week or so later we learn
of the surface to air missiles, now snipers.
There are also the drones, the armed battleships on the the Thames, and the SBS
charging about in high powered boats etc. With all this military hardware and
personnel about the possibility of an error must be significant. Whoops sorry we
basted your canal boat into smithereens, or shot your mate, they shouldn't have
been holding an axe while splitting their firewood.
Hilarious article on Cisco survey
51% have negative or very negative(!) view of Olympics but article highlights finding that 40% think Olympics beneficial! 20% think Olympics will benefit health, 51% think it will boost patriotism!
Hilarious article on Cisco survey
51% have negative or very negative(!) view of Olympics but article highlights finding that 40% think Olympics beneficial! 20% think Olympics will benefit health, 51% think it will boost patriotism!
The UK bottled water industry is expected to pick up over the next five years, but not to point it was at in the early 2000s.
A report by industry researcher IBISWorld, shows that the London Olympic Games will prompt a profitable spell for producers.
Environmental concerns and constrained consumer spending have both impacted on the industry, which experienced a period of stellar growth during the late 1990s and early 2000s, before declining in 2006 and 2007.
IBISWorld analyst, Naren Sivasailam indicates conditions are likely to improve over 2012-13.
Naren said: ‚ÄúThe London Olympic Games will be a boon for industry operators and any increase in average temperatures will stimulate sales, although stable growth
will be hard to achieve.‚ÄĚ
Raising interest rates, weaker public spending, higher taxes and the resurfacing of environmental opposition could impact on demand.
According to IBISWorld, future growth will need to be driven by savvy marketing and further innovation in products and packaging.
In addition to this, efforts to improve environmental image with the launch of ‚Äėethical‚Äô brands, and communication of the health benefits, natural sources and convenience of bottled water to consumers will also be important.
Overall the UK bottled water industry displays a medium level of concentration, with the top four producers accounting for the majority of industry revenue in 2011-12.
Top companies in the UK include Highland Spring, Nestle Waters UK, Princes Limited and Eden Springs UK Ltd. Danone Waters are the largest producer of water sold in the UK, although all of its water is sourced in France and
Selling the Big Game: Estimating the Economic Impact
of Mega-Events through Taxable Sales
Professional sports leagues, franchises, and civic boosters have used the promise
of an all star game or league championship as an incentive for host cities to construct new
stadiums or arenas at considerable public expense. Past league-sponsored studies have
estimated that Super Bowls, All-Star games and other sports mega-events increase
economic activity by hundreds of millions of dollars in host cities. Our analysis fails to
support these claims. Our detailed regression analysis of taxable sales in Florida over the
period 1980 to 2005 reveals that, on average, mega-events ranging from the World Cup
to the World Series
have been associated with reductions in taxable sales in host regions
of roughly $34.4 million per event.
London hoteliers are being warned that next year‚Äôs Olympics may not have the positive financial repercussions many predict and that the event may in fact lead to a drop in occupancy figures.
Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels and chairman of the Annual General Managers‚Äô Master Innholders‚Äô Conference taking place next January, believes anyone who thinks London hotels will be full for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are ‚Äėkidding themselves.‚Äô
Speaking to BigHospitality, Raggett said: ‚ÄúI am not one who believes London is going to be so full next year with the Olympics. In all of my properties, I am taking business as I can get it.
‚ÄúPeople tend to turn away from big cities
when major events are going on. Hotels put their prices up, restaurants are more expensive and taxi drivers want premium rates.
‚ÄúWith three hotels in South Africa, the 2010 World Cup did not materialise with rooms and fortunately I read that situation. I believe those people in London who think we are going to be full for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics are kidding themselves.‚ÄĚ
Red Carnation Hotels manages 13 hotels worldwide, with six in London and one in Dorset. The Milestone Hotel and Hotel 41 ‚Äď both within the Red Carnation portfolio ‚Äď are ranked numbers one and two for hotels in London on reviews website TripAdvisor.
Outside of London though, business remains much tougher and Raggett believes hotels in the provinces must cut costs in the right places to keep customers coming through the doors.
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‚ÄúI do have one hotel outside of London and the key thing is that you have to reduce costs to where you can,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúBut the biggest thing you mustn‚Äôt do is cut costs that your guests are going to see. If you‚Äôre advertising in glossy magazines for example, I would say stop that type of thing - but don‚Äôt cut your sales team.
‚ÄúYou have to look after each and every guest more than ever, exceed their expectations. If you can do that effectively, then it‚Äôs a recipe to keep your business afloat.‚ÄĚ