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Olympics programme presented to government

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OLYMPIC DELIVERY Authority chief executive David Higgins, this week told NCE the programme and budget for the London 2012 Olympic Park had now been agreed and 'signed off' by its delivery partner CLM.

Higgins said CLM had spent the last six months reworking plans and nalised a new Games' programme on 2 February. This was presented to Secretary of State Tessa Jowell by CLM chief operating of cer Bob Card on Tuesday.

'The whole scheme and programme has been redesigned and reworked, ' said Higgins.

'The budget has been signed off by CLM and the corporate plan is going to be resolved. We are way ahead of other cities that have hosted the Games in the past.' Speaking to NCE this week, Higgins also said he had no plans to alter the scope of CLM's role and was adamant that it would be paid 'nowhere near' the £400M discussed by MPs at a recent commons select committee meeting (NCE 25 January).

But he defended the gures quoted by Secretary of State Tessa Jowell and pointed out that once CLM had paid its suppliers and subconsultants it was likely that fees in that order would be paid.

MPs on the Commons Culture Media & Sport select committee have complained recently that the role of CLM remains unclear. But Higgins said he was firmly committed the decision last year to tear up the brief for an Olympics project manager and appoint a delivery partner instead.

'It is absolutely right that we need the exibility of a private sector partner - we need their resource base and someone that can provide consistent staff, ' he said. 'We still have to remain an intelligent client - we need to manage the risks - but our delivery partner will provide most of the people.' Higgins also welcomed the government's recent decision to appoint a director general to oversee the project for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. 'DCMS has to be an informed client, ' he said. 'It does not affect the way we work - the ODA's role is enshrined in the Olympic Bill, so there will be no change to our responsibilities.' Higgins emphasised that the focus of the plans revealed last week was firmly on the Games' legacy. He pointed out that as a result there were now more temporary venues and that permanent facilities had been scaled back to become more 'appropriate' to future uses.

'We are not intending to create iconic sporting venues, ' he said.

'It is about creating infrastructure that will be relevant to the East London community in the future. We don't for example need to build 60m wide bridges for spectators when the legacy requires them to be just 5m.' He insisted that he was still looking for design excellence from suppliers but pointed out that this meant knowing what to build for the long term future community rather than creating something short term and spectacular. 'I am very aware that it is public money we are spending, ' he said, accepting that the plans would require huge government investment.

'But we must get this into perspective - compared to any other regeneration project of this size we will achieve far more. The Olympics will allow us to regenerate this area far faster than we could have otherwise.'

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