Olympic Park Legacy chief warns Government they must not be burdened with debt after London 2012
By Duncan Mackay in London
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
June 14 - Baroness Margaret Ford, the chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), today sought assurances from the Government that they would not inherit millions of pounds of debt after the Games have finished in 2012.
She made the plea during a debate on the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in the House of Lords during which the Government confirmed that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) would have to reduce to reduce its budget by £27 million ($38 million).
Lord Shutt of Greetland, the Government Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords, stressed that the cut was "less than two per cent" of this year's £1.7 billion ($2.5 billion) budget.
He promised that further details of the ODA cuts will be published next month in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's quarterly economic report on London 2012.
The Libertal Democrat Peer said the ODA had "managed their resources extremely well'' in a difficult economic environment, revealing that they made more than £600 million ($885 million) of savings throughout the programme, including £130 million ($192 million) in the last quarter alone.
He told Peers: "The Government is committed to deliver a successful Games in 2012 and the preparation of the 2012 Games cannot be immune from the need to reduce the budget deficit."
But Ford, a former Labour Minister, warned Peers that they must also consider the future once the Games had finished.
She told the Lords: "This is not a short-term project."
Ford (pictured) claimed the OPLC, which was set-up 15 month ago, had made a good start and already completed a master plan that will guide the sustainable development of the Park for the next 25 years after the Games have taken place.
She said: "In time, more than 10,000 new homes will be built in the Park and the surrounding areas, as well as the marvellous legacy of beautiful open space, fantastic waterways and world-class sporting venues.
"It is important to us that we create a high-quality neighbourhood which provides much needed family housing in this part of East London."
But Ford warned that the Park's future could be jeopardised if the Government used it to raise funds via loans.
She said: "An important part of making all that work has been the need for the Legacy Company to have freehold control of the land in the Park, unencumbered by debt.
"A deal to do that was struck earlier this year by the Mayor of London [Boris Johnson] and the previous Government.
"That deal is now being re-examined as part of the overall Treasury review, despite the fact that the deal was fiscally neutral, so I ask the Minister [Lord Shutt] to underline the importance of the deal for a successful legacy and press colleagues for an early endorsement of it."
May 2010: London 2012 suffer £27 million cuts as Chancellor slashes public funding
May 2010: Boris Johnson warns new Government not to cut Olympic budget