Mayor Sir Robin Wales hails arrival of the 2012 Games


Mayor Sir Robin Wales hails arrival of the 2012 Games

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales

Mayor Sir Robin Wales hails arrival of the 2012 Games

Well it's finally here. The Olympics are on and the eyes of the world are on Stratford, Newham and London.

London has been unlike any other Olympic host city. This is the first time in history where such a city has tried to use the Olympics to completely transform a deprived area.

The reason we won the bid back in 2005 was to inspire people through sports and physical activity, but more importantly, to drive the regeneration of our part of East London.

Unlike other host cities - Beijing, Barcelona and Atlanta - who succeeded in achieving different ambitions - whether it's putting on a good event, doubling tourism or becoming an international conference destination - we have been focused on legacy right from the start.

In Newham this has meant inspiring people, changing people's lives through jobs and opportunities, and overcoming the injustice of embedded poverty that we have put up with for more than 100 years.

The Olympics has been a catalyst for regeneration and inward investment and we have made the most of this opportunity. With our support, Newham residents have secured many more Olympic job offers than any other of the host boroughs.

We have capitalised on the attention the Games have drawn to this part of London by encouraging people to invest in and create jobs. But it's more than that. The Games are about inspiring our residents - especially young people. Children from every school in the borough are getting to go to the Olympics.

We promised Newham would be a part of the Games and we are delivering on it in style! More than 1,000 residents have been involved in the Opening Ceremony including 230 children from seven schools. Something I found incredible was that in the middle of organising the ceremony, director Danny Boyle took time out from his schedule to spend time with some of our children. It was an act of generosity that was much appreciated.

We have bought 500 Olympic and Paralympic tickets for residents, ranging from the highest demand Opening Ceremony tickets to day passes for the Olympic Park. They have been paid for using funds received for the use of Newham venues as Games time training venues, so there is no cost to the taxpayer.

We also secured an exclusive offer of 2,700 discounted Olympic Park day pass tickets for our residents as well as 14,000 free tickets for the events that tested the Games venues.

We expect crowds of Newham residents at our live sites in Stratford and East Ham which will be open throughout the Games. Through our Let's Get the Party Started campaign we are helping residents to put on their own Games celebrations. Thousands have and are staging street parties, talent shows, exhibitions and more. They are bringing people together and building relationships. We are having one hell of a Games party.

We have also used the Games to inspire people into sport. We have invested in improved local sporting facilities from multi-use games areas to parks, and increased provision of free and low-cost sports and activity opportunities including free swims, neighbourhood sports and summer holiday schemes.

But we are also keeping Newham going throughout the Games. We have teams working round the clock to keep the borough clean and moving. It's a massive task but we are determined visitors go home impressed and our residents are not inconvenienced.

I hope the millions of visitors who have come for the Games have a wonderful time and I extend a warm welcome to everyone. The biggest show on earth has at last arrived in Newham. It's an incredibly exciting time.


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