by Hugh Muir for The Guardian

December 4, 2004


London's Olympic bid is to receive a massive boost with the signing of a "people's compact" which will guarantee jobs, training and homes for local residents.

The Guardian has learned that after weeks of negotiations, officials from the bid company, London 2012, the office of the mayor, Ken Livingstone, and the residents' pressure group, London Citizens, will sign a detailed agreement next week.

The breakthrough has been eagerly sought because it allows officials behind the bid to indicate a measure of support among grassroots communities.

The timing is also crucial. London 2012 will submit the full application document, or Bid Book, to the International Olympic Committee in 10 days' time.

After that, the IOC's pollster will gauge the level of public support for the bid. Community groups had planned to confront the IOC with concerns that the needs of local people were not being given a high enough priority.

But the compact, which is expected to be signed by Mr Livingstone and the bid chairman, Lord Coe, will probably head off that threat.

Neil Jameson, the coordinator of London Citizens, said: "This now means that we have more chance of winning the games because it is now clear that there will be an economic benefit for local families and those whose lives will be disrupted.

"It shows that the voice of London's authentic communities have been taken seriously and for the next eight years we can look forward to working with the key partners. The most important thing is that 2012 will be able to brand its bid as 'ethical' and that could be crucial."

The compact includes promises of affordable housing, with the establishment of a community land trust to be controlled in part by local people. The hope is that new houses can be sold for as little as £80,000.

Also, a construction academy would be created to train local people for the jobs that result from the creation of the Olympic infrastructure. There will also be money for more general skills-training as part of a drive to raise the skills base across the capital.

Attention will now turn to the traders of Marshgate Lane, Stratford, who will be expected to move out to make way for the main Olympic "footprint", but complain they have yet to be offered satisfactory compensation.

The London Development Agency says each business received an offer in the summer, and talks that would lead to them successfully relocating, should London win the games, are making good progress. According to the LDA, negotiations involve the companies that represent around half the workforce in the area, and the agency is close to finalising deals with four of the bigger companies.

But Mark Stephens, the lawyer representing 150 of them said the negotiating process was moving too slowly. "The mood there is pretty unhappy and some of them are still talking about going to see the IOC."

Michael Finlay, one of the traders negotiating with the LDA said: "The problem is that they are still not being realistic in their dealings with us."

The LDA is also working on strategies to ensure local people benefit from the Olympics. These cover issues such as relocations and a local labour and training initiative, and all must be agreed with the local authorities before any work can begin on the Olympic Park.

London 2012's campaign for hearts and minds is also being run in parallel.

For the next few days listeners to Ramadan Radio, an east London radio station broadcasting to the Muslim community, will hear messages from Amir Khan, the Olympic silver medallist, urging them to support the bid for the games.

London 2012 is also helping to fund an Olympic themed fireworks display by the five London "Olympic" boroughs on November 12 when the five council leaders will come together for the first time to pledge their support for the bid.

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