Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Games Need Real Leadership

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Games Need Real Leadership

Article excerpt

THIS paper vigorously campaigned to secure the 2012 Olympic Games for London. We remain committed to the Olympics: not only will they be a fantastic sporting occasion, but they present an unmissable opportunity to regenerate east London and improve London's transport system. But they must have public support - and that is precisely why we have addressed the spiralling costs.

As we report today, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell is effectively poised to admit that the total figure now comes to [pounds sterling]10 billion, even though she insists that the [pounds sterling]2 billion regeneration costs be counted separately. And the Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who last week accused this paper of "inventing" the [pounds sterling]10 billion figure, risks damaging the Games if he fails to face up to the true costs.

But it is not just the funding that causes concern - it is management of the delivery plan. The present structure does not inspire confidence, with responsibility for the project divided between Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, and Sir Roy McNulty, acting chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority. What is needed is one person in Government with whom the 2012 buck stops and who has the backing of the Prime Minister. In short we need a fulltime Olympics minister, accountable directly to the PM, to coordinate the disparate bodies responsible for delivering the Games and to monitor the budget. Ms Jowell cannot concentrate single-mindedly on the job - she has other responsibilities. Such a figure needs to be decisive and business-minded, someone of similar standing to Lord Heseltine, responsible for regenerating Liverpool and kickstarting the rebirth of Canary Wharf.

Meanwhile, the Olympic Delivery Authority is still looking for a permanent head to succeed Jack Lemley. As this paper has suggested before, an ideal candidate would be Sir Stuart Lipton, a respected property developer who has intimate knowledge of the 2012 development plans. He should be given every possible incentive to take on the job.

If the 2012 Games are to retain public confidence, we need people of real calibre in charge. The Government should start the search for a credible Olympics minister now. …

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