MPs warn on London 2012 volunteering legacy

Millennium Dome before London 2012 The committee raised concerns about the National Lottery's Olympic investment

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The volunteering spirit seen during the London 2012 Olympic Games is in danger of "fizzling out", a group of MPs has warned.

The Public Accounts Committee said the Cabinet Office needed to show it was not "missing the boat" in securing a long lasting legacy for volunteering.

It also criticised the lack of tickets made available to the public for some of the major Olympic events.

Ministers said they were committed to ensuring "a tangible, lasting legacy".

In its post-Games review, the cross-party committee said the 70,000 "Games Makers", who volunteered across the Olympic venues, "made a huge contribution to the success of the Games".

But the MPs were not convinced "that as much as possible is being done to build a lasting volunteering legacy".

'No clear plan'

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: "The volunteers at the Games did a fantastic job. We need to capitalise on that success but there is a danger of the volunteering legacy fizzling out.

"The Cabinet Office must demonstrate that it is not missing the boat, so that there is a lasting volunteering legacy both within sport and beyond."

They said they had been told there would be programmes to build on the volunteering spirit, but found there was "no clear plan for capitalising on the contribution Games Makers can make to other volunteering initiatives".

The committee also criticised the ticketing system used for the London Olympics, which saw the public unable to buy a large proportion of tickets for major events.

Only 51% of tickets for the men's 100m final were available to the British public and only 47% of tickets for the track cycling, the MPs said.

"International sports bodies and media organisations wield a lot of power and it cannot be easy for individual event organisers to push back at their demands," the report says.

"But, learning from the experience of the London Games, the government, possibly alongside other governments and event organisers, should challenge demands for large numbers of accredited seats."

And the committee raised concerns that the National Lottery would not see the £2bn it put towards the cost of the Olympic Park repaid.

It was agreed that the lottery would be repaid from future returns from developments at the Olympic Park, but the committee said current projections suggest the first payment will not be until the mid-2020s.

Mrs Hodge added: "Lottery good causes lost money during the period running up to the Games.

'Rapacious developer'

"They need to be assured that they will get some of this back from the financial returns secured from the development of the Olympic Park."

Overall, the MPs found the success of London 2012 demonstrated it was possible for government departments to work together and with other bodies effectively to deliver complex programmes.

But they stressed the government must build on this success in delivering other major projects.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "The government is committed to delivering a tangible, lasting legacy from the Games and work is well under way on this.

"We have been crystal clear that the lottery has an entitlement to receive £675m from land sales from the Olympic Park, that is bound by a legal agreement between the government and Mayor of London."

London Legacy Development Corporation chief executive Dennis Hone said: "We are looking at what would be the best solution, not just for the area of the Olympic Park, but also for the wider regeneration of the East End.

"While there is a drive to maximise receipts and get the taxpayers' money back, no-one would want us to act as some kind of rapacious developer at the risk of jeopardising the long-term legacy of the Park.

"It is a balance and we have to work that through over the coming months."

For Labour, shadow sports minister Clive Efford warned the government against "throwing away" the "the extraordinary contribution of the volunteer Games Makers".

"Building on their energy and enthusiasm we could create the capacity in our communities and schools to get sport and other activities going at the grass roots," he added.

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