The London Assembly was told today that “serious differences” at the Olympic Delivery Authority led to the resignation of Jack Lemley as Chairman of its board.
The claim was made at an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly by ODA acting Chaiman Sir Roy McNulty and Chief Executive David Higgins. Assembly Members quizzed the pair on the circumstances of Lemley’s departure and claims that political interference is putting the Olympic project in jeopardy of running over budget and behind schedule.
Sir Roy told the Assembly that there were “serious differences” between Mr Lemley, the ODA board, its executive and stakeholders. He also claimed that there was a “mismatch” between Mr Lemley and the political environment in which the ODA operates.
Members were also told that the budget for the games will be “significantly higher” than the £2.375bn originally planned owing to increased costs for security, regeneration and VAT.
Assembly Chairman Brian Coleman said: “the smoke that has shrouded Jack Lemley’s resignation has been blown away, although details of the costs of the Olympic Games remain elusive.”
Coleman promised the Assembly would “continue to hold a spotlight on the Games to ensure Londoners, and the UK as a whole, get value for money – not an embarrassing white elephant.”
Today’s meeting also saw the Assembly pass two motions, the first of which reads:
“The Assembly wishes to express alarm at the level of predicted overspend on the 2012 Olympic budget. Particularly the VAT bill on construction costs that will add at least £250 million to the 2012 Olympic budget.
This Assembly welcomes remarks made by both the Prime Minister and the Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell MP, that these extra costs will not be born by the London taxpayer.
The London Assembly agrees that there must be a cap on the amount that Londoners pay towards the 2012 Olympics and we call upon the Government to forego the 12 pence tax currently levied on the Olympic lottery games, which will help efforts to fund the 2012 Olympic Games.
“This Assembly notes the comments about the cost of the London 2012 Olympics in Jack Lemley’s local paper and uncertainties over VAT liabilities and inflation estimates.
“This Assembly further notes the comment by the Prime Minister that the Government is not looking for Londoners to contribute more than has already been agreed and calls on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to seek an unequivocal guarantee from the government that any VAT liability will not change this position.”
The second motion, which was proposed by Damian Hockney AM, states:
“Given the concerns over the cost of the London 2012 Olympics emphasised by the resignation of Jack Lemley from the Olympic Delivery Authority, escalating costs and uncertainties over VAT liabilities and inflation estimates, this Assembly calls on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to give an unequivocal guarantee that London council tax payers will not be called upon to make any further contribution beyond the £625 million that they are already committed to pay and that the environmental, social and legacy commitments in the Olympic bid will not be jettisoned or scaled back in an effort to cut corners.”