Olympic road signs unveiled – and they’re not green

Road signs giving priority to 50, 000 Olympic vehicles were revealed earlier this week.

The signs, published by Transport for London, show how regular motorists will have to give way for official vehicles during the 2012 Games. Members of the Olympic family will have exclusive use of the right-hand lane of a dual carriageway, in a few cases shared by local buses.

Olympic lanes will also be used by athletes, media, officials and corporate sponsors, while cyclists and taxis are banned. The use of the roads by about
25, 000 sponsors has proved particularly controversial, as they will not be travelling out of operational necessity.

Priority road corridors will operate from 7am to 7pm on a third of the 106-mile Olympic network.

The signs will be installed next year but won’t become active until a few days before the operating ceremony on July 27th. Affected roads will also be painted with the Olympic rings.

Back in 2007 the organisers claimed that “walking, cycling and public transport would be promoted as the best ways to get to the events”. Despite this, they’ve now gone ahead and banned cycling on a third of the Olympic network.

Also, it has previously been revealed that guests of soft drinks company Coca-Cola will be travelling to the venues in Stratford using VIP buses, rather than public transport as called for by the Mayor.

One can certainly start asking questions about whether the organisers will be able to live up to their promises about making the London 2012 Olympic the “greenest ever.”

To quote Simon Jenkins of the London Evening Standard: “The only green thing (…) is the traffic light phase fixed for the IOC limousines and luxury buses. “

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Coca-Cola break Olympic Pledge to Public Transport

Soft-drinks company Coca-Cola have been accused of ‘breaking the Olympic spirit’, following another recent controversy over transport in London during the 2012 Games.

Guests of Coca-Cola, one of the official sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics, will be transported to and from the games in Stratford by VIP buses, it has been revealed. As a result, they are now being accused of breaking the Games’ pledge to encourage those attending the event to rely on public transport.

Whilst it would take just 20 minutes on public transport for guests to commute from their 5-star rooms at the Langham Hotel to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, guests of Coca-Cola will instead be travelling on VIP buses, driving up to Euston Road and joining the Olympic Route Network.

The Olympic Lanes were initially created for the quick transportation of competitors and employees. Yet sponsors of the games, including Coca-Cola, will also be allowed to take advantage of these specially created routes, even though the majority of their guests will be attending as spectators.

In addition to this, parking for residents around the Langham Hotel will be restricted during the games, in order to make way for the VIP buses.

Whilst London commuters are being urged to avoid making any unnecessary trips into the capital during the Games and employers are being urged to increase the number of Londoners working from home , guests of Coca-Cola and other Olympic sponsors will be able to enjoy VIP transportation.

“Coca-Cola will benefit from special measures during [the] Games … the rest of us are being asked to make sacrifices. It is a blatant affront to the Olympic spirit.”

As Simon Jenkins says, ‘Olympics VIPs and their cronies […] can cruise through London unimpeded by traffic lights, white vans, taxis, cyclists, zebra crossings or ordinary Londoners, who will be shoved into the gutter like medieval peasants’

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West Ham Stadium Deal Collapse to Cost Taxpayers Millions


Tax-payers will now find themselves paying a multi-million pound bill, as West Ham’s plans to buy the Olympic Stadium in Stratford have fallen through.

West Ham were in line to purchase the stadium after the 2012 Games, with the support of a £40 million fund from Newham Council. However, rival bidders Tottenham Hotspur argued that the fund was an ‘unfair advantage’ and claimed that West Ham were receiving ‘illegal state aid’, sparking a legal battle between the two teams.  Challenges from Leyton Orient football club and an anonymous complaint to the European Commission also created a great deal of uncertainty around the deal. As a result Newham Council has now said they no longer want to proceed.

‘…the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) received a letter from Newham Council yesterday saying because of the uncertainty that they no longer wanted to proceed’

The stadium is now to be state-owned instead and will be rented out to football clubs, rather that sold. Boris Johnson and ministers are claiming that this is the best solution, with the greatest long-term results for taxpayers:

”…We’ve come up with a very good solution to keep it in public hands and rent it to football clubs… that will be a very good deal”

Yet, taxpayers will now have to meet the contribution that would have be made by West Ham and Newham Council towards the conversion of the stadium, resulting in a multi-million pound bill. They may also find themselves paying for any annual losses that the stadium makes – a fate that has been met at previous Olympic sites.

Some experts say it will turn out to be the most expensive venue of its kind in the world- more debt Legacy.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company will now have to begin looking for a new tenant to rent the stadium. It has been confirmed that West Ham will be bidding again, but it is yet to be made clear whether renting the stadium will turn out to be a better deal for the East London football team.

 

 

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McDonald’s volunteers to find out their Olympic roles this week

As initial offers for the volunteering roles during the 2012 Olympics are sent out this week, some successful 10,000 Game Makers have two weeks to accept them. McDonald’s anticipates the replies particularly impatiently, because the fast-food giant is in charge of providing training for the volunteers.

 

However, it is just the beginning of a long process of filling up all of the 70,000 unpaid positions for the Olympics. Over the next few months thousands of e-mails will be sent to applicants, aiming to inform everyone about the progress of their application by the end of this year. LOCOG officials also claim the last interviews are scheduled for March, 2012 and the last role may be taken even as late as April, 2012. All candidates have to undergo security checks before signing the final contract.

The first volunteers who received conditional offers are inter alia: Nader Mozakka from North West London who will be an NOC Assistant in the Athletes’ Village; Maggie Hendry from Dundee, Scotland who will be a Physiotherapist at North Greenwich Arena at Games time; Erin Morgan from Newry, Northern Ireland who will be an Event Services Team Member at the Olympic Park and Charlotte Evans from Caerleon, Wales who has been assigned a role as an Event Services Team Member for Wimbledon.

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe stressed the importance of the offers made, as it marks the new stage of the Game Makers programme. He said: “It has been a privilege for my team to meet and interview so many enthusiastic and dedicated people from right across the UK who would like to volunteer with us and make the Games a success for athletes, media and spectators alike.”

Jill McDonald, UK chief executive of McDonald’s, added: “We aim to help provide the volunteers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver an outstanding level of hospitality at the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.”

The “McJobs” offered are perhaps not the world’s most desirable employment, although initially promised to be financially rewarding, will be unpaid for the 2012 Olympics. Spectacle has already covered McJobs, which can be found in the Olympics 2012 section of Spectacle’s Blog.

Unsurprisingly, the official volunteer t-shirts will not be the only place where golden arches will be seen at the 2012 Olympics, as McDonald’s also obtained a monopoly on food sold during the Games. This has stirred up a debate on public health and well-being, which could be argued as not being on McDonald’s priority list. This American meal brand plans to open the largest McDonald in the world in the Olympic Park, Stratford. It is also interesting to know that there will be no kitchens provided to athletes, who will be forced to dine in the dining halls catered also by McDonald’s.

Obviously, McDonald’s sponsorship is happily welcomed by LOCOG, but should their profit really overshadow the Olympic’s overriding goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle?

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Spurs and Leyton Orient to launch review over Olympic Stadium


Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient are applying to the high court for a review of the OPLC’s (Olympic Park Legacy Company) decision to award West Ham United the chance to move into the Olympic stadium after the 2012 Olympic games.  One of the reasons for OPLC’s decison to pick West Ham was that they had said in their bid for the stadium, that they would keep the athletics track, whilst Spurs had argued the only viable option was to rebuild the entire stadium as a dedicated football ground.

Leyton Orient’s chairman said. ‘We will shortly apply to the High Court for judicial review and take action against the Premier League for ignoring their own rules.’

A big concern for Leyton Orient is that because of the size of the stadium, West Ham plans to offer discounted tickets. The worry is that this could significantly effect Orients ability to generate ticket revenue since the clubs current home is the Matchroom Stadium just over 2 miles from Stratford. The club’s fan groups have launched an online petition urging the Government to revoke the decision. Orient have also accused Newham council of granting “unlawful state aid” to West Ham in offering them a £40m to finance their move into the Olympic stadium after the games.

What are they doing lending £40m to a football club? They are not allowed to be involved in commercial deals. This is state subsidy of a commercial operation, which falls foul of European competition laws.‘ Barry Hearn (Orients chairman) said. ‘We are asking them to withdraw it. It is state aid and they don’t have the authority to make this kind of commercial investment under their charter.’

This another incident linked to the Olympics where there is no accountability.  It seems that although the decision to award West Ham the loan is technically illegal, it is allowed to happen because of its connection to the Olympic games. Should allowances such as this be made just because of its links to a major event ? It seems unlikely that West Ham will be able to pay back such a huge loan given football isn’t renowned for financial sustainability and it will be the Newham taxpayers who will be liable for the debt in the event of default.

In January, BBC London found a number of potential ‘abuses’  during the process leading up to the loan. These included:

  • Crucial documents explaining the bid in detail being withheld from councillors until shortly before the vote
  • No explanation as to whether the council would be liable for the debt if relegation-threatened West Ham defaulted
  • A ‘significant number’ of councillors holding reservations – but refusing to speak openly because they are allegedly “afraid” of missing out on lucrative positions
  • Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales declaring dozens of gifts from West Ham, with critics saying his impartiality has been compromised

For more information click BBC News

Spurs also intend to take the OPLC to court over a number of concerns they have about the process which led to the decision to give West Ham the £537 million stadium. They released a statement saying that,

‘Our lawyers have written to the OPLC, the Mayor of London, the Minister of Sport and the Secretary of State for Local Government and a separate letter to the London Borough of Newham raising a number of concerns with the processes which led to the award.’

‘The letters also requested – in the interests of transparency – for the provision of certain information concerning the processes, which the Club considers that it is entitled to. Tottenham Hotspur will determine its next step as and when it receives a response to these letters.’

Tottenham also plan to challenge the £40m loan which West Ham will be given at preferential rates that was not been offered to any other bidders for the stadium believed that this will form a key argument  for Spurs’ claims against the decision.

Tottenham said that they have now ‘sought permission from the High Court to bring a claim against the London Borough of Newham (“Newham”) for judicial review of Newham’s process in providing a loan for the conversion of the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games.’

A spokesperson from the OPLC stated that, ‘We have been consistent, fair, objective and entirely equal in our dealings with the bidders from start to finish. We are confident that if these judicial review proceedings are pursued, our approach will be entirely vindicated by the courts.’

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Unexploded bomb could lie underneath Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Delivery Authority has dismissed claims that there could be an unexploded bomb lying beneath its Stratford stadium.

However, according to Government records, a German bomb dropped in a tip on the exact site of the stadium during the Blitz.
Records exist of bombings during the war, which state that a large hole was left in a rubbish shoot at the refuse site after an air-raid. Despite several searches throughout the 1940s, no bomb was uncovered at the site.

A report by weapons company BAE Systems for the Government in 2007 concluded that explosive material must lie beneath the site of the stadium of the intensity of air raids in the area during the war.

A spokesman for the ODA said that more than 3,000 searches for unexploded bombs had been carried out across the Olympic Park, including the Marshgate Lane stadium.

For full article click here.

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Spectacle Presentation at the London Festival of Architecture

Films from Spectacle’s Olympic project collection are being screened as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Interviews with Lance Forman on the Forman’s fish smoking factory and footage of the now destroyed Manor Gardens Allotments are playing as part of a temporary three-week museum about Stratford and in particular the past, present and future of the Olympic site.

The event, a collaboration between the London School of Economics Cities Programme and the Architecture Foundation, will showcase artefacts from prominent organisations and artists mapping the history of the area and will be situated in a lobby space over the Stratford Shopping Centre. Spectacle’s material will be shown not only in this capacity but also as a reference to the construction and demolition work taking place for the creation of the World Cup 2012 infrastructure, which you can read more about here at the Spectacle Blog.

The festival is already underway, and the museum opens this Saturday, 26th June.

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