Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly Members have raised concerns over the affordability and accessibility of the London Olympics and Paralympics following the appearance of Olympics chiefs before the Assembly this week.
On Wednesday representatives from the Olympic Delivery Authority told AMs that Blue Badge users will not be able to use ‘Olympic Lanes’ to travel within London and to the games. The news comes just days after 2012 chiefs called on Londoners not to use the Tube network during the Games.
Criticising the ODA’s stance, LibDem Assembly leader Caroline Pidgeon commented: “When less than one in four tube stations is wheelchair accessible it is appalling that the ODA have ruled out such a modest proposal. Quite frankly the need of many disabled people is far greater than many of the other people who will be able to use these lanes.
“The excuses put forward by the Olympic Delivery Authority for not implementing this policy are simply indefensible and totally contradict the promise we made to the world to host the most accessible Games ever.”
On Thursday Pidgeon’s colleague Dee Doocey said claims the games would be the “most accessible ever” were in “tatters” after the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games announced it would not provide free tickets to carers of disabled people purchasing ticket unless they are a wheelchair user.
Doocey said it was “shameful that LOCOG are failing to adopt a fair policy towards all disabled people.”
The AM added: “With less than one in ten disabled people being wheelchair users LOCOG’s policy is blatant discrimination against the huge number of disabled people who require a carer to attend any event, such as many blind people or people with a learning disability.
“Far from pushing forward in access standards it seems that the 2012 Games will not even match the ticketing policies that are already adopted by many music and sporting venues. The pledge that the 2012 Games would be the most accessible Games ever is now in complete tatters.”
Assembly LibDems have also criticised LOCOG for failing to ensure there was sufficient mix in the events for which affordable tickets would be available. On Thursday the Assembly’s Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee heard hat more than half of the ‘Pay Your Age’ tickets for ames will be restricted to football events.
Doocey commented: “By allocating such a huge chunk of affordable tickets to a low profile Olympic sport the harsh reality is that there will be far less affordable tickets for sporting events that many families really want to see.”
Free tickets for school children
Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced Thursday that he’s secured funding to provide a total of 125,000 free tickets for London’s school children – an increase of 75,000 on the numbers of tickets previously committed to by LOCOG.
In a statement the Mayor said: “One in eight of the capital’s school kids will get to experience firsthand the planet’s greatest sporting spectacle for free and, importantly, at no cost to the taxpayer.
“I hope that this offer motivates thousands of young Londoners to get out there and take up a sport so we see a new generation of athletes from our very own city going for gold in 2016 and beyond.”