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Quality of life gap remains in East London five years on from Olympics

Words: Laura Edgar
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park / Shutterstock_560604952

Five years after the 2012 London Olympic Games, education and employment have improved in the host boroughs, but the gap in other quality of life indicators compared with the rest of London has not been closed, a Greater London Authority committee has suggested.

London hosting the Olympic games aimed to improve and “to converge” the host boroughs (Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest) with the London average over a 20-year period.

Yet the London Assembly Regeneration Committee has reported that there is a “mixed picture of progress”.

The games provided an initial focus for new investment, but this was “short-lived”.

The committee said it found:

  • Education and employment have improved but other quality of life indicators between the host borough and the rest of the capital have not closed.
  • The earnings gap in 2015 is greater than it was in 2009.
  • The gap in physical activity and sports participation has worsened.
  • Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, and Newham have some of the highest proportions of children living in income-deprived households in the country.

In response, Relighting the Torch: Securing the Olympic Legacy makes recommendations to the Mayor of London and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), including that the mayor needs to include convergence in the new London Plan, the upcoming Economic Development Strategy and his final Health Inequalities Strategy.

Other recommendations in the report are:

  • The mayor should commission research on factors affecting convergence and look at the effects of people moving in and out of the area.
  • The LLDC should revise its local plans to take into account areas beyond the boundaries of the Olympic Park to ensure that the legacy of the 2012 games is secured.

Navin Shah AM, chair of the regeneration committee, said:

"The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games promised a legacy of improved prospects for people  in the host boroughs. In the long term, the life chances of local communities were meant to come closer to the average for London.

“Five years on, we have seen some improvements, but the performance has been patchy. Shockingly, the gap in physical activity and sports participation has widened. It really is unclear whether local people are truly benefiting from the games.”

While it can be said that the Olympic Park has transformed the area as a place to live and do business, and more investment is coming to the area, local people are at risk of missing out on opportunities, in terms of housing and jobs.

“The Mayor of London is uniquely placed to ensure local people aren't sidelined. He needs to take ownership by reigniting the Olympic torch and making sure the Olympic legacy is fully secured."

Relighting the Torch: Securing the Olympic Legacy can be found on the GLA website (pdf).

Image credit | Shutterstock