Tories appoint experts to advise them on London 2012 Olympic Games

Tories bring in experts to review 2012 Games

Tories bring in experts to review 2012 Games

The Conservatives yesterday set up a committee of business experts to scrutinise the planning and budget of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens is among the members of the new Olympics oversight committee, which will be chaired by former British Land chief executive John Ritblat.

“The Olympics are great for London, great for Britain and a great opportunity for all of us. But we have got to get this right,” said shadow sports minister Hugh Robertson, adding that the committee would “really get to grips” with the project’s challenges.

There are growing concerns about the financing of the Games, following culture secretary Tessa Jowell’s admission last year that the cost of the Olympic park has gone up by £900 million since London won the bid to host the event 18 months ago.

Last week, the National Audit Office warned the failure to agree a budget could have a “detrimental impact” on the Games, by making it difficult to plan properly and also by creating uncertainty in contract negotiations – which could increase costs further.

The government has insisted that such debate is natural, however, and yesterday Ms Jowell accused the Tories of playing politics with the Games.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) yesterday confirmed the government’s position, saying it was “commendable that London is having this discussion so early out from the Games, and moreover, is having it in such an in-depth and studied way”.

The new Tory party committee will look at the costs, timetable and delivery of the construction programme, cost control, the regeneration impact of the Games across London, the effect on participation in sport and security.

Lord Stevens will take the lead on this last issue, examining the security budget which was originally estimated at £213 million but is expected to rocket thanks to the increased threat since the July 7th bombings in 2005.

“An incoming Conservative government will make delivering a successful Olympic Games central to our agenda. We can’t afford to waste time. That’s why we’re announcing the creation of the Olympics oversight committee to advise us,” Mr Robertson said.

Yesterday the organisers of the Games finally ruled out the use of the Olympic Stadium as a football ground after the event is over, saying the proposals by West Ham football club would require too many design changes and delay the whole project.

Instead, the stadium will remain an athletics arena offering facilities for schools, the local community and commercial groups.