With just 42 days to go until the Games, Hugh Robertson looks back at the how the Olympics project has transformed East London and looks forward to the Queen’s official birthday celebration.
It’s hard to imagine that six years ago the Olympic Park was the biggest industrial wasteland anywhere inside the M25 – a site littered with abandoned cars and tyres, contaminated soil and tired infrastructure from Stratford’s industrial past. Today, we see a very different landscape and a very different future for this part of our capital.
Of course putting on London 2012 hasn’t just involved building the Olympic Park. In this short amount of time, 40,000 people and nearly 2,000 businesses have undertaken one of the biggest construction and regeneration programmes in the UK’s post war history. They have built the equivalent of two Heathrow Terminal 5s in half the time, created outstanding venues and green spaces and improved transport – all of which is a testament to the skill and commitment of the British construction industry.
This brings me to the announcement we made this week, when we published the final report on the budget ahead of the Games. We are on track to deliver the Olympic Park on time and within budget.
Thanks to the ODA, LOCOG and businesses and workers up and down the country, we’ve delivered despite the adversity of the global economy and the loss of private sector funding for the Village and Media Centre. The overall funding package for the Games remains at £9.298 billion with £476 million of uncommitted contingency available.
So as we enter the final weeks of preparation in a strong position, our international guests and athletes can be confident that we’re set to host a great Games this summer. We’ve got fantastic venues, buoyant ticket sales, and incredible excitement running throughout the UK, as the Torch Relay has shown. But we know there’s no room for complacency. Just as athletes will be meticulous in putting final preparations in place, we will be working tirelessly to ensure that the UK hosts a great Games.
Jubilee fever for Trooping of the Colours
On Saturday I’m attending the Queen’s Birthday Parade – or Trooping the Colour, as it’s popularly known. This will be the next great national event after the Diamond Jubilee and will be another opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contribution of HM The Queen to British public life over 60 years.
Personally, I am very familiar with the occasion as I commanded the Household Cavalry on the 1993 Parade, riding a wonderful horse called Lawrence. It required months of hard work, rehearsal and preparation but the day itself was one of the most memorable of my life. I wish everyone involved in this year’s parade all the very best of luck.
And I also want to extend that message of good luck to Roy Hodgson and his England team tonight for the match against Sweden in the European Championships. It was a solid performance against France and a credible draw so here’s hoping we can build on that with a win in Kiev this evening.
Image of Olympic Park Parklands and Stadium ©ODA.
Trooping the Colour image by Nick Warner on Flickr. Some rights reserved.