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Power to inspire people must remain

11 September 2012 in 2012 Games and legacy and Mayor and Older people and Young people
The London 2012 Games exceeded all our expectations. It wasn’t just Great Britain’s outstanding medals haul across the Games, but there was genuine warmth and excitement as Newham welcomed the world.
I can remember clearly the mounting tension in 2005 in Stratford’s Meridian Square as we watched the Candidate Cities being whittled down one by one. My hair still stands up on the back of my neck when I recall hearing London announced as the winner, and feeling the huge wave of emotion and cheering roll through the crowd.

I had the same feeling during an emotional end to the Paralympic Games on Sunday. The UK is the birthplace of the Paralympic movement so it was fitting that the best ever Paralympics was staged on home soil.

In the days ahead what has been so special about hosting the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will really sink in. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced it is the same reason why Newham backed the bid for the Games in the first place.

More than any other event, the Games have the power to move and inspire people. The Olympic ethos is about the world coming together and individuals aspiring to achieve truly great things. We have seen that right here in Newham.

Whilst our volunteers took to the streets to inform, guide and assist the athletes, officials and fans, our residents, in the most multicultural place in the world for its size, wonderfully embraced the Games.

More than 270,000 residents welcomed the Olympic Torch and Paralympic Flame to the borough. Newham’s schools sent children to experience the Games and more than 1,000 residents, including 230 children, took part in the ceremonies.

Our two big screen Live Sites in Stratford and East Ham saw more than 210,000 local people come out to watch the Games and be part of the amazing atmosphere that we had here in Newham. Our Let’s Get the Party Started programme also supported the largest number of street parties and community events ever seen in the East End, a place that loves to party.

Now that the Games are over, their legacy will be measured against the promises in London’s original bid.

The first promise was to inspire a generation. In 2005, children from East Ham’s Langdon School travelled to Singapore with Tony Blair and Seb Coe to help win the bid. We want future generations to be inspired into sport, helped by athletes like our own Christine Ohuruogu and Mark Hunter who have the power to inspire others in our community.

Since we won the bid, we’ve ensured massive expansion of local sports clubs and with the University of East London we are now giving every child the chance to try 20 different sports to find the perfect fit for them.

The second promise was to transform the East End. Getting people into jobs is the key, as Newham needs 20,000 more people in work just to match the London average.

We set up Workplace, our employment service, in 2007 to support local people into work. It’s been highly successful, helping more than 13,000 residents into work since it started and 5,000 people into jobs this year - half of them long term unemployed. This is over and above the Games time temporary roles we secured for residents.

In addition, the transformation of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will bring further inward investment to the area, jobs and new homes for our residents.

We’ve worked hard to deliver on these legacy promises and have made a strong start against a backdrop of savage Government cuts to our budget.

The challenge now is for Government to capitalise on the opportunity and enthusiasm created by London 2012 and ensure continued invest in these promise. Securing the legacy from the London 2012 Games will not happen overnight and will remain a challenge for generations to come.

I am looking forward to the challenge. It has been an amazing experience to be at the centre of the biggest sporting event in the world, but I am even more excited about Newham in the years ahead and the legacy that we will secure for local people.

Mayor of Newham
Sir Robin Wales