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Training Sites

Volume 478: debated on Monday 23 June 2008

1. What assistance she plans to give to potential Olympic training sites to make contact with overseas sporting bodies. (212558)

Responsibility for promoting Olympic training sites lies with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, which will publish a pre-games training camp guide at the Beijing games this summer. In addition, £25,000 will be made available by LOCOG as a credit to help attract national Olympic committees to the UK to set up pre-games training camps.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Members that they can act as advocates for their local authorities and constituencies. The hon. Gentleman’s constituency contains a training camp, which has been deemed suitable for equestrian events. There is the possibility for Members of this House to act as advocates and bring teams to this country.

As the Minister rightly says, Myerscough college in my constituency has been deemed a place for equestrian training. Unfortunately, although it has great facilities, it lacks the international networking skills that perhaps the larger venues already have. Will she assure us that any plans that Sport England and the Olympic committee put in place will help to target the smaller venues as well as to assist the larger ones?

That is absolutely the case in respect of smaller sports, smaller countries and smaller venues. May I underline the hon. Gentleman’s role in advocating, on behalf of the equestrian movement, the benefits of the facilities in his constituency?

My home town of Hastings has made an offer, through the high commissioner, to provide some facilities to Sierra Leone. In respect of both pre-training and the occasions of the Olympics, the problem is frequently the cost of getting athletes from highly indebted countries to the event. Could some assistance be provided to help with the plane fares?

This is precisely the kind of issue that LOCOG is addressing. I am happy to have further discussions with my hon. Friend about this matter, so that he can continue to pursue the interests of the Sierra Leone team.

The key concern on Olympic training sites and, indeed, the wider London 2012 project is security. Last week, a KPMG report was extremely critical of security planning, noting:

“It is…difficult to have confidence in current cost estimates in the absence of a full, costed security plan.”

That conclusion was then backed by the National Audit Office report on Friday. Three years after Singapore, and given the obvious importance of the issue, why is there no full, costed security plan?

The fully costed security plan, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, is in the process of being prepared. It is being led by the Home Office with proper oversight and management arrangements. Yes, work has been under way for some time, but we wish to ensure that the security budget pays only for those matters that are specifically relevant to the Olympics, and that no further additionality or other wish lists are being funded from the Olympic budget. Because of the lead that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has taken, there is confidence that the planning of security is properly under control and we will have a safe and secure games, with security a proportionate part of the way in which the games are run and managed.

Are the funds that my right hon. Friend mentioned just for the training camps or will local authorities and local sports partnerships be able to access them to help to attract sporting bodies to our areas, as we want to do in Northamptonshire?

The £25,000 credit to which I referred is specifically available to encourage national Olympic teams to come to any of the 600-plus preferred and approved training camp venues. That money is not available if an Olympic team chooses to use non-approved facilities.

Will the Minister confirm also that the assistance that will be given will include advising potential Olympic training sites on what to tell overseas sporting bodies about the action that the Government intend taking in relation to safeguarding the future of the Olympic village and how much additional investment might be required to ensure that that is delivered?

That is a good try at getting in a question about the financing of the Olympic village, on which the hon. Gentleman has been briefed, as has the Conservative spokesman. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) will understand that because of the economic downturn, Lend Lease has experienced difficulty in raising all the debt that it originally sought to finance the village, but there is full confidence that the financing package will be completed by the end of this year, and work on the site has already begun.