Forget it Orient

16 03 2011

London 2012 bosses have today branded plans for Leyton Orient to move to a 15,000 seater football stadium in the Olympic Park as “inconceivable”.

Chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), Baroness Ford, says Orient’s chairman Barry Hearn has failed to understand that his proposals would damage the legacy of the games and the park could not support two football clubs.

Mr Hearn believes that the OPLC’s recent decision to recommend that the Olympic Stadium should go to West Ham United after London 2012 would lead to the eventual extinction of Leyton Orient.

To battle this he wants to sell-off the club’s Brisbane Road ground to help fund a new £35 million new stadium at Eton Manor in the Olympic Park, or move into the Olympic site’s 2012 hockey stadium, which is due to be taken down after the games.

Eton Manor will have temporary swimming training pools during the Olympics and wheelchair tennis during the Paralympics, before becoming the site of a new hockey facility, which will replace the 2012 one and also cater for up to 15,000 spectators.

But speaking to members of the London Assembly on Wednesday, Baroness Ford said that she believed that the Eton Manor site is not “up for grabs”.

“I personally think that it is inconceivable to put two football stadia in the Olympic Park. I mean, this is much needed open space for recreational and employment space, and housing. And I have made that point to the chairman of Leyton Orient. This isn’t land that is up for grabs, nor earmarked for anything else. It is very clearly earmarked in the master plan for specific legacy purposes set out long ago.

“The chairman of Leyton Orient is not quite clear on the use of Eton Manor. In terms of the planning consent there is an obligation to deliver a certain quantity of metropolitan open land in the Olympic Park. That northern part of the park is part of that.

“The hockey complex will be reconfigured in legacy and there is no question of a hockey stadium being left there.”

Earlier this month Barry Hearn said this idea was the only way to ensure that West Ham’s move to the Olympic stadium would not cripple the League One club, which he predicts will reduce Orient’s revenue by at least £1.5 million a year.

The Leyton Orient chairman is also still considering using funds raised from its successful FA cup run as a war chest to challenge the OPLC’s backing of West Ham in the courts.

But he has admitted he would drop any legal action if people like the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, local councils or the OPLC itself helped Orient move to Eton Manor or into the hockey stadium.

“To compete we would have to move out of the area completely or be housed in the Olympic Park itself,” Mr Hearn said recently.

“That way we could have the same facilities and transport links that West Ham would have and then there would be a level playing field for us to compete on. There are options such as moving into the hockey stadium or building a new venue at Eton Manor playing fields.”

During a meeting of the full London Assembly, Baroness Ford also told politicians that official confirmation that West Ham will take over the Olympic Stadium is being held up, especially as the OPLC is still to hear if rival bidder Spurs want to appeal their decision.

“Because we are still in the negotiations with West Ham and Newham (council), and because Tottenham Hotspur have not yet said whether they or not they will review the decision we are not at liberty to put out much information yet.”

Ford and OPLC chairman Andrew Altman also confirmed that they would probably decide to close the park completely after the games and spend at least a year making it ready for use by the public from 2013 at the earliest, with key venues like the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre open to the public no earlier than 2014.


Government buys 9,000 2012 tickets to entertain dignitaries

18 02 2011

A bit of an exclusive by me in today’s Telegraph, showing that officials will plough at least £750,000 of public money into games tickets because they believe it “would be wrong” not to and will be for the “benefit of the whole of the UK”. These tickets will be used by politicians and Westminster mandarins to entertain international guests, foreign dignitaries like royalty, business leaders and people they claim have strong links with the Olympic movement and London 2012. BoJo also has a 2,000 allocation but is yet to decide what to do.

Please take a look here: LINK

Boost for fans wanting to use Olympic ‘fan sites’ in 2012

11 02 2011

For all those interested in the Olympics games, especially those who accept they may not get or cannot afford Games tickets, then some good news is brewing at City Hall.

I’ve been told that Boris Johnson may add an extra event in central London to allow tens of thousands more sports fans to watch the action.

An insider has tipped me off  claiming the Mayor of London is considering land on the edge of Thames next to the London Eye as a potential spot for one of his Olympic ‘live sites’, which will show sporting action for free throughout the games.

He has already announced there will be giant screens broadcasting 2012 events in London’s Hyde Park, Victoria Park, and on land next to his City Hall building close to Tower Bridge, some of which could attract up to 80,000 people per day.

But it is understood a fourth venue could be necessary to cater for all those who fail to secure or cannot afford any of the 6.6 million Olympic tickets set for release next month.

I also understand that they are furiously putting together ticketing plans for these events, but I have it on pretty good authority that these will be free and ticketed for security and safety reasons only.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games have also confirmed to me it will run 18 others sites across UK town and city centres throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games, all of which will also be free.

Here I am in dispatches in the Telegraph on the matter this morning: LINK

17.42PM: and now here: LINK

LOCOG don’t like it up ’em

8 12 2010

I watched this morning’s Plenary with some anticipation, hoping, at last, that this was the opportunity for Olympics management to answer key questions without hiding.

I must add I have been in a 6-month or so battle with the ODA over some FOIs, some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, but always after a review.

LOCOG have been protected from such scrutiny, so Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton being there was great, well it could have been.

I was disappointed. Far too often, when a tough question was asked, they reverted to ‘you don’t understand the Olympics do you?’ mode, or ‘you are either with us or against us’ mode. Poor.

This was highlighted by an exchange between Mike Tuffrey and Paul Deighton about the number of cheap event tickets to be available to adults during the games.

This is because Mike and others believe that there will be 2.5 million tickets available at £20 or less for the Olympics.

But of these:

· 1 million will be for football matches

· 1.3 million are for the ‘Pay Your Age’ scheme for children

This, in theory, leaves just 200,000 tickets for events other than football, which I think ,if true, is a disgrace for a Games that Londoners have paid extra for.

I say if true because Mr Deighton bumbled on for several minutes in ‘you don’t understand mode’ before the Lib Dems ran out of time so couldn’t ask any more. Boris does that sometimes doesn’t he?!

Anyway, round two starts tomorrow at the Assembly, with more questions on ticketing and I hope there are more answers than today.

South-East London needs its bridge…

5 07 2010

So Boris wants to build a cable car from the dome to the Excel.

If you don’t know already he wants to raise £25 million for a cable car across the Thames – thousands will be sent shooting across every hour and it would be ready before the Olympics.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

Well, that’s not quite true, I get it a bit from a tourist point of view, it would be fun and a money spinner, but all it does really  is further highlight the lack of crossings at our end.

Boris and Peter Hendy say that Transport for London can’t afford a bridge so this will be a decent interim for pedestrians and cyclists. Pardon?

Well let’s start with this bit, what kind of person is going to regularly use that? Honestly. And it will be privately paid for so probably blooming expensive.

We have the DLR and the Greenwich foot tunnel to get across the river on foot or by bike, what I and thousands of others need is not to sit a car queue for the Blackwall Tunnel/Rotherhithe Tunnel all the time or not to drive for ages to Dartford to go back on ourselves.

A new bridge would bring regeneration and jobs, so why not scramble for private funding for that instead or include a cable car in the package.

From the flat, if I really twist my neck, I can see where it would cross the Thames and I’m sure it would look good. Wish it was a bridge though.

You’ll never guess who I had in my cab…

18 06 2010

So in one day not only did we hear Boris refer to the beautiful game as “association football” and “soccer” loads of times – not incorrect exactly but still you get my point – now we also get the release of some videos with the Mayor as a black cab driver.

He picks up a “punter” as he would probably say and then runs through a fact he knows about where they are, before plugging a new conference centre.

Is his trip to South Africa and his use of cab-driver greetings proof at last he is a man of the people?! All he needs to do now is get some big screens up for England games. Please.

So with a “where to guv”

And a “where to matey”

I happen to think he has done a “bang up job”

What to do with the Olympic Stadium?

8 06 2010

City Hall’s EDCST committee were told by experts today that it should be football played in the Olympic Stadium after 2012 and I am inclined to agree with them.

Whether it be West Ham or someone else like Spurs, a Premier League club is needed to make it a success after the games.

It will get lots of people coming into the park on top of those using the other facilities and most importantly in my view take the pressure off the public purse and put the risk on the private sector.

Assembly members grilled media expert Danny Meaney, regeneration expert Dr Jim Coleman,and Dr Larissa Davies from Sheffield Hallam University on what would be best for the stadium and how to create a successful legacy.

They all said that the stadium has to be used often or it will fail, and that football was the obvious choice to fill it.

Interestingly MK Dons chairman Pete Winkleman was also there, and said that football was the way forward but with the caveat that there is a need to retain an athletics track as this was what was promised and promises should be kept.

But while I agree that promises are important we should also be realistic, especially with the public finances in a dire state.

Although European clubs do play in stadiums with tracks around their pitches, in the Premier League clubs want their fans to be as close to the action as possible.

I may be wrong but I think that if they leave a track a big football club may not be so keen to move in and then the taxpayer could be left bailing out a white elephant.

It would be nice to a have a fantastic and sparkling permanent athletics venue for the future but it looks like it just does not make financial sense.