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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 10:16 GMT
2012 Olympic games
Emma Jenkinson
The Politics Show London

Olympic Rings
The estimated costs for London 2012 continue to rise

The 2012 London Olympic games are filling many column inches at the moment but, unfortunately, it is not about the sport.

2012 is the 'Olympics of the future' according to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

It is not just about winning gold, or even scrabbling for a bronze; it is about the legacy.

It is a little word, but it is a big part of the London Olympics, and an even bigger part of London's future.


It all hinges on regeneration. London does not want to be left with the empty facilities and scarred landscape that has marked Athens post- its 2004 games.

As such, what gets built for 2012 also gets built for the future:

  • new affordable family housing
  • community sports and cultural facilities
  • a town the size of Exeter in Stratford
  • international rail links
  • better transport facilities for the East End as a whole

Essentially the Thames Gateway is going to get a makeover.

Stratford station
Improved transport links will be one major benefit

Thames Gateway

However, there is already a long-term Thames Gateway regeneration plan, it was drawn up before we 'backed-the bid' and it covers a much greater area than that of the Olympic regeneration site.

The Thames Gateway covers the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Waltham Forest.

The Olympic site is primarily in Newham, meaning that it will be the first to feel the benefits of regeneration. And the money is coming fast; from now until 2012. The two regeneration plans do have mutually exclusive remits, and Thames Gateway's funding is ring-fenced from Olympic raiding, but there are still concerns.


There is nothing wrong with being first (as many athletes would love to tell you), but there are fears that this first burst of regeneration will not benefit the people actually living in Newham.

Areas around the Olympic site are already becoming hot property for developers, and the yuppies are moving in; buying up cheap housing and hoping for a housing windfall as gentrification drives up property prices.

The 'real' residents are being pushed to the peripheries of the borough, and into next-door Barking and Dagenham.

Consequently, wherever you live in the Thames Gateway, if you are poor, the Olympics could mean you do not even get out of the starting blocks. It is a pretty raw deal.

It is a concern expressed by the Bishop of Chelmsford in the House of Lords this week.

"One out come we don't want in east London is the gentrification of Tower Hamlets and Newham whereby the poor of those communities disappear in to Barking, Dagenham and Thurrock... all we have done then is shift the problem elsewhere."

Moreover, with the Olympic budget growing daily, what if the 2012 legacy is massive overspend?

In the wake of a costly Olympics, could that ring-fenced Thames Gateway regeneration money lose its security and be used to plug the deficit hole.

Fault Lines

This could all just be a false start, there are still five years before 2012, and these fears may not transpire.

Nevertheless its difficult not to that see a number of fault lines have emerged in the government's 'joined-up thinking' about the Olympics.

Let us just hope no east-enders fall through.

The Politics Show London

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