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Olympic Legacy

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

The Olympic Park Legacy Company is responsible for determining the legacy of the Olympic stadium. We have now approved the OPLC board’s recommendation for the preferred bidder, the consortium comprising West Ham United and the London borough of Newham, and contractual negotiations will now proceed to agree acceptable terms of lease.

Now that the decision has been determined, will the Minister meet me, Haringey council and Daniel Levy from Tottenham Hotspur club to ensure that Tottenham Hotspur is able to move forward with its plans for the Northumberland Park development? The Minister will appreciate that there remain real economic concerns in what is the poorest area of London to ensure that the club can maintain its presence in Tottenham as it wants.

The short answer is yes, of course I will. I have met the right hon. Gentleman a number of times during the bidding process and I have also made an offer through the Tottenham board to see whether I can do anything to help. I suspect that my powers in this area will be limited, because I think that the arguments and issues are to do with planning, but if there is anything I can do to help, I will do it.

Will the Minister also take into account the concerns of Barry Hearn, the chairman of Leyton Orient—the finest football club in the country, may I add—about how the redevelopment of the Olympic stadium after the Olympics will affect Leyton Orient football club?

Yes. I should say at the outset that I am absolutely confident that the process carried through by the Olympic Park Legacy Company, in accordance with the criteria laid out, was absolutely fair and transparent and that it was done in absolutely the correct way. I reject any insinuation that the process was in any way corrupt or badly handled. That said, if there is anything I can do to help Leyton Orient, I will do it, in the same way that if there is anything I can do to help Tottenham Hotspur, I will do it.

I welcome the Minister’s announcement and congratulate the Olympic Park Legacy Company on the manner in which this difficult process was handled. May I ask him to ensure that the key elements of the promise on which we won the Olympics in Singapore—a multi-purpose stadium, with a legacy for the community and athletics at its core—are honoured throughout the negotiations about the detailed implementation of the Newham-West Ham bid?

In a word, the answer is yes. The West Ham-Newham offer was clear and backed by UK Athletics. The negotiations about the detailed terms of the lease are now being held, and I will absolutely ensure—as, I am sure, will the OPLC—that the offer that West Ham and Newham made is honoured in that lease.