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Conservatives attack Olympic consultants spend

Conservative shadow Olympics minister Hugh Robertson yesterday attacked the Government and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) for spending the equivalent of £1M per week on consultants.

Robertson wrote to Olympics minister Tessa Jowell in July requesting details of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and ODA spending on consultants for London 2012-related matters during 2006/2007 and 2007/2008.

Jowell originally told Robertson that two consultancy firms were hired by the DCMS on Olympic matters during 2006/7 and none would be hired during 2007/8.

However, she later wrote to Robertson to inform him that this original statement was incorrect and the government had in fact hired six consultants during 2006/2007, costing £721,266. It kept on one of these and hired a further four during 2007/2008, costing £202,314 so far.

The ODA, meanwhile, paid £50.5M in consultants' fees during 2006/2007 and has so far spent £10.7M during 2007/8.

Robertson said: "This Parliamentary written answer tells us three very disturbing things. Firstly, Tessa Jowell does not know what is happening in her own department or within the Olympic budget, which is a worrying admission from the Minister in charge. Secondly, she has obviously misled the House, albeit with a correction three months later. Thirdly, the revelation that the ODA has spent over £60M on consultants already will raise very serious questions about the direction of the Olympic budget."

Jowell's written answer also revealed that the majority of the ODA's spending on consultants was divided between a handful of firms: Atkins, EDAW, Ernst and Young, Arup, and Rockpools.

Both engineering consultancies - Atkins and Arup - work on the Olympic Park masterplanning team along with architect EDAW. Atkins also oversees the remediation of the Olympic Park site while Arup acted as the ODA's checking engineer on the undergrounding of power lines and is the designer of the Aquatics centre.

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