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Page last updated at 20:27 GMT, Friday, 17 December 2010

Government jeopardising 2012 Olympic legacy, says Mayor

The Olympic stadium
Every council in England will have to reduce spending from April

By Dan Roan
BBC sports news correspondent

The cuts to council services announced by the Government could jeopardise the London 2012 Olympic legacy, according to the mayor of Newham.

Sir Robin Wales told BBC Sport that the coalition's local government settlement was "savage, wreckless and callous".

Every council in England will have to reduce spending from April.

Three of the five Olympic boroughs - Hackney, Tower Hamlets, and Newham are among the 36 local authorities taking the maximum cut of 8.9%.

"These are savage cuts being implemented by the coalition government," said Sir Robin.

"We are having to plan huge reductions in expenditure over the next few years."

In October the BBC discovered Newham Council spent £18.7m refurbishing its new back office, called Building 1000.

But documents released after a Freedom of Information request now show the total cost including purchase price and stamp duty was another £92m on top of that.

Local Government Minister Bob Neill said:

"This is just a smokescreen by Robin Wales to deflect away from his reckless spending spree that was exposed this week.

"The £7bn earmarked for the Olympics will not be affected by the local Government settlement."

Sir Robin says that Newham will have to find savings of £43m next year alone.

"The Government themselves have admitted that their cuts will be directed mainly against poorer people which means that Newham is being hit more fiercely than better off areas of the country," he added.

"London's Olympic bid book said the most enduring legacy of the Games must be the regeneration of an entire community for the direct benefit of everyone who lives there.

"For centuries London's East End has been one of the poorest areas in Europe. The Games have provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the lives of residents and nothing should be spared in ensuring that a lasting legacy is achieved.

The Games have provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the lives of residents and nothing should be spared in ensuring that a lasting legacy is achieved

Sir Robin Wales - Newham Mayor

Councils have been warned that the funding settlement will inevitably lead to cuts, with unprotected services such as play parks, leisure centres and swimming pools most at risk.

"We are doing everything we can to protect our residents and the services they need and value. We want the Olympics to inspire people and raise their ambitions to be healthier and more prosperous," said Sir Robin.

"Newham has been working hard to expand participation in sport and activity through investment in our sports facilities and our promise to continue offering free swims to young people. We are providing the largest programme of free sport and activity in London. We will do our utmost to defend these pioneering initiatives and support hard working low income families.

"Inevitably, however, as we are having to make massive cuts our ability to do that will be limited.

"The government is already taking the axe to our school sports funding. We fear the coalition's cuts may have jeopardised the Olympic legacy. I'm shocked at the extent of their callousness. They don't care about the people."

Eric Pickles, the communities secretary has said that the cuts represent "a progressive settlement and fair between different parts of the country".



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see also
Athletes want stadium legacy met
14 Dec 10 |  London 2012
Cash boost for 2012 legacy plans
15 Nov 10 |  London 2012
Cash cuts 'threaten' 2012 legacy
28 Jan 09 |  Olympics
New Mayor, same Olympic heights
08 Dec 10 |  2012
Spurs 2012 stadium bid criticised
17 Nov 10 |  London 2012


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