uploads-jan11 Image 3
Seema Malhotra, Labour MP for Feltham & Heston, offers her thoughts on the Olympics in this week's Constituency Matters.
When the Olympic Flame is abseiled into the Tower of London next week, after passing through Hounslow next Tuesday, Britain will unite in celebration.
We are all proud that the Olympics are coming to our city. Hounslow can be especially proud that Feltham resident Rajiv Ouseph will be representing Great Britain in the men’s badminton singles, and Feltham Community College alumni Mo Farah will be representing Team GB in the 5,000m and 10,000m- a wonderful achievement for our community. I would like to send my congratulations to them both.
As the worlds entrance to the Olympics and Paralympics, Heathrow is set to be very busy this summer, with 13 August predicted to be the busiest day in its 66-year history. Many of our local workforce will be the ones welcoming athletes and families at Heathrow. We also know that the games will have a knock-on effect on our local infrastructure, on our trains and buses, and with ‘Games Lanes’ becoming active in our local area, and it is important that local residents are not disproportionately impacted by the games.
The former M4 eastbound bus lane became a Games Lane from Monday 16 July, with times of operation “as required.” The A4 between junction 1 (east of Chiswick roundabout) and central London will have Games Lanes in both directions among most of its length, operating 6am-8pm each day, 25 July to 14 August and 27 August to 11 September. These lanes are available only to vehicles carrying the ‘Games Family’- the athletes, officials, media and some sponsor. If an unauthorised vehicle is found using these lanes, a fine of £130 can be imposed.
Yesterday Sport Minister Hugh Robertson said the authorities have plans to ease the restrictions on the Olympic Games Lanes if there is gridlock in London. These plans are sensible, and I believe could go further. The default should be that the games lanes stay open as long as possible when not being used for Olympic traffic. I will be monitoring this and will be interested in any feedback from local residents.
Whilst Hounslow will be affected during the Olympics and Paralympics, we will enjoy the lasting London 2012 legacy for years to come. Indeed, the games have already made a tremendous economic contribution to the UK, keeping the order books of many companies going when there was little coming in from elsewhere, and could boost the UK’s economy by £13bn in the next four years. We can also expect a significant boost to tourism as the Olympic Games show the best of country to the rest of the world.
The London 2012 legacy will go further than simply more trade for local businesses however, and I am excited about the challenge of ensuring a sporting and volunteering legacy amongst our community. It would be wonderful to see pupils at our schools today, like Rajiv Ouseph and Mo Farah, competing in the future.
I am looking forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and hope that the stories born from London 2012 are ones of sporting and community triumph, not logistical failings. The G4S failure to supply enough security guards for the Olympics has unfortunately been a prominent story in the run-up to the games. The failure was a mistake that should have been addressed earlier. The Government should have monitored contracts more closely, exercised day to day vigilance over the recruitment process, and acted earlier.
When the Olympic Torch is carried through Hounslow on Tuesday 24 July our Olympic community celebrations and London 2012 legacy will start with a carnival atmosphere. I am very much looking forward to joining local residents in celebration in Lampton Park, and I am excited that the Olympic Games officially start next Friday. I wish our local Olympians Rajiv Ouseph, Mo Farah and Team GB the very best, along with all of Hounslow’s Olympic ambassadors and volunteers who will help to make the games the great success I am sure it will be.