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Legacy (Essex)

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

2. What legacy effect she expects the holding of London 2012 Olympics events in Essex to have on levels of participation in sport in Essex. (259257)

The Government have the big ambition of making sure that the opportunity of the Olympics inspires 2 million people to be more active by 2012. In the case of 1 million of those, that will be through sport. Our investments are already making a difference in Essex, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, with an increase in participation between 2005 and 2007-08 that is ahead of the national increase in participation. In addition, Essex will have the opportunity to motivate its residents by using the significant hosting role of the Olympic mountain biking event at Hadleigh Farm as a way of making sure that even more people get active.

There is growing concern in my constituency that there will not be much of a legacy in Chelmsford. Will the Minister come to my constituency so that she can explain to my constituents what legacy the 2012 Olympics will be in Chelmsford?

The legacy can be achieved in several ways. First, there is the significant number—more than 60—of training camps in the eastern region; secondly, the hon. Gentleman can make sure that he encourages businesses of all sizes in Chelmsford to bid for the contracts that will be let through the CompeteFor network as part of the Olympics. Furthermore, his constituents could put themselves forward as volunteers, and it could be ensured that the tourism benefits are maximised. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could also persuade Essex county council to be rather more enthusiastic about free swimming than it has been to date.

Will the Minister care to deny the scurrilous rumours that, to encourage the people of Essex to be more involved, it is intended that the sports of putting the medallion and throwing the white high heels should be included?

Will the Minister acknowledge that, apart from the free swimming initiative in which many local authorities in Essex have chosen not to participate, there are very few up-and-running projects that will secure people’s active participation in exercise? Furthermore, the lack of a logo that could be used to publicise events linked to the Olympics remains a hindrance. Have we started early or left it too late to meet the target of 2 million extra active people by 2012?

I absolutely do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s pessimistic view. As he will know, the Inspire mark can be earned by organisations that have demonstrably achieved in relation to Olympic goals; he might like to encourage the sports clubs in his constituency to do that. He could also take the time and trouble to talk to the governing bodies across the board about the generally impressive efforts that they are making, not just to see their sportsmen and women compete and succeed at the highest level, but to get more and more people participating in sport—rowing, cycling, sailing, athletics; I could go on. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman could focus his questions on the basis of a knowledge and understanding of what is actually going on, rather than promoting this climate of pessimism.

Essex is one of the counties that has been making representations about the cost of policing venues external to London. I appreciate why the Department has not been able to answer questions on the issue until now, but given that the security plan was published at the end of last week, is the Minister now in a position to confirm whether the £600 million inside the main Olympic budget earmarked for security will cover the cost of policing venues external to London?

As we made clear last week when the Home Office published the security plan, it is our expectation that the funds reserved for security—£600 million plus an allowance for contingency, as the hon. Gentleman knows—will be sufficient. However, the hon. Gentleman has received a briefing on the issue; for reasons that he will understand, the detailed costing of individual elements of the security programme will be developed over time, taking full account of the threat level at the appropriate time.