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Olympics: Stay at home says Government!

Olympics: Stay at home says Government!

Our World | On 04, Aug 2011

Have you seen the news? Don’t go to work during the Olympics.

On top of paying for the games but not getting any tickets, London businesses will now be asked to cut back on sales activity, cancel meetings and give people time off. Now of course LOCOG wouldn’t be so blunt or direct, but their transport co-ordinator Mark Evers has asked London businesses to cut out 1 in 3 journeys.

There are 24 million journeys on a normal working day in London so by asking businesses to cut out 7 million of those, that is effectively asking 3.5 million people not to travel to work – every day for 6 weeks during the Olympic and Paralympic games – that’s 105 million working days lost. I don’t remember seeing that little gem in any of the presentations, but I do remember seeing promises about improvements to the travel infrastructure.

The government have also jumped in – in support of Olympic sponsors BT. With transport Minister Norman Baker speaking at BT’s offices saying “I am the first ever transport minister to have official responsibility for alternatives to travel and the Olympics will be a key time to really embrace these ideas. It’s time to oil the creaking bike, dig out the walking boots, work out how to use the video conferencing equipment, and fire up the laptop gathering dust at the back of the cupboard.”

Personally I had rather hoped that a 21st century London business had by now got the hang of 20th century technology like video conferencing and dusty laptops, even if the government clearly haven’t.  I  think London businesses will be reminding Mr Evers, the government and LOCOG of a certain Norman Tebbit and telling them, their athletes and their millions of tourist visitors to get on their bikes if they want to have some fun down by the river in Stratford and to leave UK PLC to get on with paying for it.

Nigel Cooper

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