Anger at £12m Olympic bail out as Hackney’s Kingsland fire station closes

Aerial view of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Media Press Centre (MPC).

Aerial view of the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Media Press Centre (MPC). - Credit: Archant

Boris Johnson has been criticised for not getting his priorities right after bailing out Olympic bosses to the tune of £12m, while at the same time shutting down vital services such as 10 London fire stations including Kingsland.

Last month, the London Assembly’s regeneration committee raised concerns that a funding gap of about £9million in 2015-16 could cut into the regeneration activities planned by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

LLDC’s director of finance and corporate services, Jonathan Dutton, told the assembly that the LLDC would need to grow its income or cut expenditure to achieve its aims in providing non-construction jobs, apprenticeships, affordable housing, and boost connections between the park and surrounding areas.

The committee recommended that Mr Johnson, Mayor of London, confirm that the LLDC will receive at least £12m extra funding between 2015 and 2017 to fund salaries of LLDC staff and the costs of running the Olympic Park.

However, Mr Johnson had already promised to divert the extra public funds to bankroll the LLDC and the Olympic Park months before.

The LLDC’s Auditors were told the bail-out was secured by the time they issued their audit certificate on September 30, on the basis that the extra funding from the Greater London Authority was guaranteed.

Paul Charman, of pressure group Counter Olympics, said: “The assembly sanctioning the mayor’s interminable wastage of public funds on the irrelevant and extravagant Olympic Park, while at the same time slashing vital services like fire stations, is a disgrace.”

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In November, the Gazette reported that the former Olympic press and broadcast centre, built at a cost of £350m, is only expected to yield a £15m return over the course of its 200-year lease with iCity. The figure, which equates to £75,000 a year, was highlighted in accounts released by the LLDC, which showed that although the Olympic Park cost £1.124billion to build, Olympic bosses only expect to claw back £124m from the London 2012 assets.

A spokesman for the LLDC defended the use of public money, and said it is working with the Greater London Authority on a “reasonable but appropriate” funding package from April.

He said: “Like every other public sector body we face real financial challenges but are confident that our plans are robust and realistic enough to ensure our ambitions can be realised.

“We have already secured legacy use for all eight Olympic venues, work will start next year on the first houses to be built in the park and the chancellor has agreed to support the creation of a major new higher education and cultural district.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “The Games have already secured an enormous physical, sporting and volunteering legacy and the Mayor is determined to ensure that the LLDC can deliver the maximum number of new homes and jobs.

“The fire commissioner has assured the Mayor that the reforms will not adversely affect public safety and will create a more modern and responsive service.”