New heads for Olympic Delivery Authority

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the single delivery body responsible for building the infrastructure for the 2012 games, came a step closer to becoming a reality this week after the appointment of a leader and Chief Executive.

Jack Lemley, who ran the Anglo-French group that designed and built the Channel Tunnel has been given the job of Chairing the ODA, while David Higgins, current Chief Executive of English Partnerships, is to become Chief Executive.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell congratulated both men, saying that “together they represent a formidable top team to deliver the facilities essential for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Both men have experience of high level construction consortiums, with David Higgins having been involved in the run up to the 2000 Games in Sydney as part of the Lend Lease Group in Australia.

“Getting ready the venues and infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the ultimate task for any businessman, with the ultimate deadline, a completion date that cannot be moved, even by one day. I am raring to go,” said Mr Lemley.

The ODA itself is not yet fully formed and will only come into existence when the London Olympics Bill completes its parliamentary stages, expected in 2006. In the meantime, critical work is being undertaken by the Interim Olympic Delivery Authority team, working with the London Development Agency and Transport for London.

The appointments are the latest step forward in the Olympics process. Last week the LDA issued compulsory purchase orders which will enable it to secure the land needed to deliver the regeneration of the area.

The compulsory purchase order covers a 345 hectare site which is home to more than 270 businesses and some private housing. Many of these residents have complained that they are being forced out.

Further difficulties in staging the Olympics were reported this week as accountancy firm KPMG has been appointed to begin an appraisal of the projects costs. This came after a newspaper reported that costs were likely to be double the original estimate due to the high inflation costs in the construction sector and the spiralling wages in the building sector due to the amount of construction going on.

Improvements are being made to the underground, and new Docklands Light Railway and East London lines are planned, as well as massive house building projects throughout the South East.

However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, responded by saying that their financial planning had been praised by the International Olympic Committee. They are bringing in KPMG now, they said, to avoid doing it in three or four years time.

David Hopkins

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