Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

London's Olympic legacy 'must benefit all of Britain'

Boxer Nicola Adams holds her gold medal as she takes part in a parade through London, celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: British Olympic gold medal winning Heptathlete Jessica Ennis holds her gold medal as she takes part in the parade passing Royal Courts of Justice during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by David Davies - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the closing ceremony on day 11 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Olympic Stadium on September 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Politicians were urged yesterday to unite behind "one clear plan and vision" to ensure the country benefits from a golden Olympic legacy.

Hundreds of sporting clubs and leisure centres have seen an increase in interest following the success of the British Olympics and Paralympics teams, figures show. But there are concerns that the UK will miss out on the promised long-term economic boost. The Centre for Cities think-tank said London should draw on lessons from previous host cities such as Sydney and Barcelona, otherwise the legacy may not be delivered.

The group has drawn up a five-point plan, including continued financial support for projects, a "clear vision" for future use of the Olympic Park and help for people in east London to find jobs. Alexandra Jones, the chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "There are many lessons we can learn from previous Olympic cities. What unites those that had a successful legacy is a robust and consistent strategy to make the best of the opportunities that the Games can bring to the whole city."

Brendan Barber, head of the Trades Union Congress, also urged ministers to "learn from the Olympics" and create policies to boost the economy. He told the TUC conference in Brighton yesterday: "We can't muddle through greening our economy. We need investment, planning and an Olympic-style national crusade."

David Cameron has claimed that the UK will derive more than £13bn of economic benefits from hosting the Games through a combination of additional inward investment, overseas exports and tourism growth. But financial analysts fear his projections may be way above the mark. "A lot of the figures that were put in place before the Games are looking a bit optimistic now," said Samuel Tombs, an economist from Capital Economics.

Figures from the Local Government Association show that athletics and cycling centres have seen an increase in use since the successes of stars like Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins.

In a further boost to legacy hopes, Lord Coe confirmed last night that he would run for the post of chairman of the British Olympic Association after successfully overseeing the organisation of the London Games.

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