While I agree that the housing legacy of the London Olympics has been a massively missed opportunity, the whole story is not quite as bleak as it is portrayed (‘A massive betrayal’: how London’s Olympic legacy was sold out, 30 June).
As part of a permanent citizens alliance with many member institutions in the communities around the proposed Olympics site, London Citizens was able to lobby, organise and plan from 2003 onwards – even though it was not decided that the city would be the host until 2005. In 2004, we struck a deal with Ken Livingstone and Sebastian Coe that London Citizens would campaign for, cheer and support the London bid, provided that all those working on the Olympic site before and during the games would be paid the new London living wage; that a skills academy would be established to train local people; that at least 50% of the jobs would go to people or firms in the five Olympic host boroughs; and that at least 2,012 homes built after the Olympics would be affordable and constructed through a community land trust.
We won all of these commitments apart from the last one on affordable housing. We then organised closely with the London organising committee and the Olympic Delivery Authority to ensure the deals were carried out. The ODA provided both video and quarterly reports on each pledge – including attending Citizens’ large assemblies throughout the years 2005 to 2012.
An unexpected bonus in 2012, when it was clear that not enough people were applying for the variety of jobs that were needed to service the games, was that Citizens’ member mosques, schools and churches then set up jobcentres, and more than 2,000 local people got these London living wage jobs.
Founder, Citizens UK