Mayor Johnson

Boris cuts Beijing bill

Mayor Johnson chaired his first Olympic Board meeting today and announced cuts to the GLA programme for the Beijing Olympics. See Standard story here. He aims to save £1.2 million out of the £4.6 million budget for the so-called London House at the Beijing Olympics. Most of this £4.6 million is of little value to Londoners but you need to be careful not to just destroy ventures like this for the sake of it. If much of the money is already committed it is destructive to just chop it. It looks like a practical decision to cut the cost of the London House without just scrapping it outright.

No doubt Gordon Ramsay’s 18 cooks, note not Ramsay himself, will be disappointed not to be going to Beijing. I guess cooking in Beijing in August would be a pretty hot and sticky business so maybe not such a loss.

It is hard to work out where to draw the line. The TfL magic bus to Beijing which was cancelled last month was going to cost £450,000. It was cancelled but £150,000 had already been spent and was thus wasted. The trip would have looked somewhat inappropriate in the face of the Chinese earthquake. The £300K saving looks worthwhile and sensible. On balance another good decision. But, if £350,000 had been committed you might have kept it and perhaps changed the route to avoid earthquake areas.

The best way to save money is not to make these grandiose commitments in the first place. It is easy to make gestures when you are spending other people’s money. Much better that this money is spent closer to home on events that real Londoners can enjoy. Even better if some or all of it is left in our own pockets for our own pleasure.

One reply on “Boris cuts Beijing bill”

Boris is absolutely right to cut these areas. The value of the Olympics should be intrinsic i.e. a good implementation. PR stunts off the back of this are not necessary. The most important thing that Boris can do for us Londoners is to make sure that budgets are kept to and that we do not incur cost overuns. Too many people are licking their lips to profiteer of the coming Olympics. The Australians were excellent in their approach for transportation with all the “volunteer drivers”–something like that would definitely be worth implementing in London (though I am sure that the RMT would have something to say about that, not to mention the Black Cabs and the Mini Cabs).

Personally, I think that all public transport should be free throughout the Olympics in London, and a volunteer driver scheme should be implemented. Sadly, all I can see are black cab drivers charging triple time rates throughout the Olympics.


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