Wednesday, December 01, 2004

London's Olympic Bid - Just say NO

Now don't get me wrong. I admire athletes and I enjoy watching the Olympics. I hate it that the competitors have to be in national teams and if I was in charge I would abolish national anthems, team dress and the medals tables. But that is by the by. I have two very sound reasons for being against London's bid to host the games in 2012 that relate directly to my status as a Ruislip Commuter.

First, if London Underground cannot cope now with a normal daily load, how on earth can it cope with the huge numbers that will be traveling from the centre to Stratford? We already know that the infrastructure is inadequate. When the Dome opened on New Years Eve 1999, many of the audience - an invited audience, not your usual paying customers, were corralled into tube stations and holding areas for up to 3 hours because the transport to get them to the Dome wasn't there. And that was just one night. The Olympics is what? three weeks plus the ParaOlympics?

The response will be to switch resources into servicing the lines and the bus routes to the Games. And this means a worse service for the rest of us because there are only so many tube drivers and trains to go round, and if roads are closed to non-Olympic traffic to help the buses then the traffic will spill over and jam up the rest of London.

Second, and worse, is the cost of the Games. Who is going to pay for them? The one thing we know for sure is that they will cost way more than anyone estimates and the income will be less. Maybe the UK Government will fund it but if Gordon Brown is still at the Treasury or at Number 10 then they will probably wash their hands and say it is London's bid. Ken won't care because he won't be mayor by then. And the overtaxed and undersubsidised taxpayers of London will get the bill. And those who use public transport will get another because how else will the cost of the special transport services laid on be paid for?

So in a sentence we get the misery of the Games and the cost of the Games in return for the dubious privilege of paying a whacking great amount for a ticket to see one or two events live. And don't tell me about the benefits of redeveloping Lea Valley. There are plenty of areas that could do with the cash and the long term benefits would be vastly greater than plonking down some sports facilities in a dump that nobody goes to now and nobody will wish to once the Games are over. I refer you once again, Ladies and Gentlemen of jury, to the so-called Millenium Dome. Do you visit North Greenwich now? Would you if somebody paid you? No. Nor would I. Unless they paid a lot.

Stuff the bid. Take those offensive stickers out of our tube trains. Let the French have it. Bon Chance, Jacques.

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