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Cost hike fears as Olympic programme lags

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CONSTRUCTION CHIEFS this week urged new Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) bosses David Higgins and Jack Lemley to speed up procurement of London 2012 projects when they take up their posts after Christmas.

They are seriously concerned that six months after winning the 2012 Olympics, London is already behind on programme.

They also fear the programme faces cost hikes if there is a last minute dash to meet Games deadlines.

'If we are not careful we will back ourselves into a time corner, ' said EC Harris director Graham Matthews, articulating the fears of many of his peers.

'There is a huge amount to be done on a highly complex site that is contaminated, criss crossed by transport links and land locked.

'These are difficult issues to overcome, and will take time and cost more money if things get pushed back.' Olympic infrastructure design contracts were expected to be awarded last month but an LDA spokesman said this week that this would not now happen until the New Year.

Main stadium design procurement was also expected to begin in July but has yet to be put out to tender.

The ODA said that it was vital it got its procurement strategy right and was waiting on chief executive Higgins and chairman Lemley's arrival to move forward.

'We are waiting on critical direction from them, ' said a spokesperson. 'We have got going on all the critical work that couldn't wait, such as the cable tunnel project and land assembly. And we have two years' of planning in the programme until we start construction in 2007.' To help the government and ODA on procurement strategy, the pan-industry Strategic Forum has sent out a best practice charter for consultation.

It wants senior political and industry figures to sign up to the charter as well as companies which win Olympics work.

'It's a way of getting everyone to work to a common purpose, ' said Strategic Forum chairman Peter Rogers.

There are some thorny issues to thrash out, he said. 'We have suggested not using retentions, for instance, ' said Rogers.

'But we are already getting nervous comments back from the government.'

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