Olympic Symposium

Is The Olympic Legacy On Track?

A follow-up symposium

Tuesday 16th June 2009

10.00am – 12.30pm Moses Room, House of Lords

Chaired by Baroness D’Souza


The tone of the Symposium was considerably more optimistic than last year. There had been constructive engagement between Government and East London, and progress has been made on legacy issues. However, the Symposium recognised that there were important steps to be taken at all levels if the Olympic project was to be a transformative event for East London and lead to the creation of Water City, a new metropolitan district of London.

Four principal conclusions

1. A clear vision for the long-term legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is essential. Time is short and this vision needs to be articulated within the next six months. We cannot wait until the Games are over. This vision must also be overarching: it is not sufficient that it be confined to the Olympic Park, nor is it sufficient for it to focus just on one part of the wider area of East London. For example, why should Stratford alone have excellent transport links to the rest of the city, country and continent? Improvements have to be integrated with business and community initiatives and so create a new, economically viable metropolitan district of London.

2. Clear leadership has to drive forward the delivery of legacy. The appointment of Baroness Ford as chair of the new Olympic Park Legacy Company was widely welcomed. The latent skills of communities in this area need to be recognised and harnessed in a way that corresponds with the vision of Olympic legacy for London. The language skills of East London’s diverse communities are just one example of the valuable skill sets yet to be harnessed by the Olympic project. If local residents are to see real benefits from the 2012 Games they need to feel they are stakeholders in the celebrations, not visitors in their own home.

3. The legacy plan has to impact the wider area. If the event is to be considered a success it must engage with and improve the surrounding area unlike what happened in Sydney, Athens and other Olympic Cities. There is no merit in leaving a multimillion-pound sports stadium in the middle of areas that remain deprived thereby wasting hundreds of millions of pounds of Olympic money. The time in which to act is short; we must engage residents and entrepreneurs while there is still time to spread the gold dust of Olympic excitement. In this way the Games can be a catalyst for change.

4. The Five Host Boroughs and many of East London’s social enterprises are busy “getting on with it” and are creating a legacy for people that probably already surpasses anything achieved in previous Games. The bodies governing the 2012 Games must not ignore this. Rather their work should become an integral part of both the vision and implementation of London’s Olympic legacy.

The three central issues are clear: vision, strong leadership and inclusion for all. These have each been established but need to be maintained and developed. They must each be further encouraged at every level if a systematic, ambitious and achievable legacy plan of real benefit to East London is to be created and delivered.

Andrew Mawson and Frances D’Souza