Councils call for Olympic caution

The pressure to sell off Olympic assets at high prices to pay back debt to the National Lottery may diminish the Olympic legacy for third sector organisations and borough inhabitants, a Newham councillor has said.

Councillor Paul Brickell, executive member for Olympic opportunities at the east London borough, spoke to Third Sector in the wake of reports that funds raised from land sales in the Olympic park could be £1bn less than the Government has predicted (Third Sector Online, 17 January).

"It matters to us who the assets are sold off to and for what purposes," Brickell said. "The focus on values and paying back bills is the wrong territory to start with."

The five London boroughs that will host the Olympics fear that ministers' pledges to reimburse the lottery for the second Olympic raid will destabilise plans for a sustainable boost to local communities.

Representatives from Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest voiced caution when they presented evidence to the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee last week.

"We are particularly concerned to ensure that in a desire to generate revenues, principally to repay the Treasury and the lottery, this does not place unacceptable pressures on the development of the area, leading to unacceptable densities of housing development and/or inappropriate forms of economic activity, undermining the ability to create sustainable communities," the submission read.

Brickell added that the potential for local third sector organisations to benefit from the Olympic legacy could be affected. "It's important that the third sector accesses this space and is able to have ownership of the assets," he said. "The local authority must be a key partner in creating a space that can include a whole range of local groups."

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