I am gladdened to hear that Tony Blair has been invited to advise the Labour Party on the Olympics legacy. In my usual long winded and whimsical way, I'll explain why. I was due to go to campaign in a by election in Oxford today, but couldn't be bothered, so I decided to enjoy myself with a day out in London. I thought it would be good fun to go to Greenwich.
Greeting me at the Cutty Sark DLR station was, you won't believe it, was the Cutty Sark, in all its not burnt out glory. so I visited it. They have done an excellent job, it looks amazing. Despite not being a warship, it was interesting. Then I decided to go and see this new cable car thingy bob for myself.
Like the British Airways sponsored London Eye, the Cable car is sponsored by Emirates, and as such is the "Emirates Airline" and, just like the London Eye, pretends that it's a "flight". Apart from this pointless gimmickry, it's actually quite an experience.
Why does this relate to Tony Blair? Well, we have the Olympics here because of him, rather than Paris, but actually I think he will have a lot to add about the legacy to East London after the games are finished. Whilst I liked the cable car, I can't help but think "what's the point"? It goes from the O2 centre to ExCel. Why? How many people actually need to make that journey? Probably not that many post 2012. It can survuve as a tourist attraction, but I just don't think that it's an integral part of the London transport infrastructure- it essentially unites the jubilee line with one branch of the DLR.
And what will become of the Olympic facilities? The stadium makes for a good home for the Hammers, but is an olympic sizes swimming pool going to be well used? It the velodrome? We don't want to pay for an expensive set of games, and have useless facilities that are left dormant at the end. I have been to Barcelona, and what they have left is a waste. The existing legacy planning has been very good- so the athletes accommodation will be housing (always needed in London) and as I said, some of the facilities will be used properly. Don't forget that some are used for other things like Lords, or are only temporary, like the horsey stuff in Greenwich.
But where Tony Blair will be useful is making sure that what's left really changes the face of East London, and that the facilities are of lasting use. For all the innuendo around the millenium about the Dome, it has been a big success, and is apparently one of the best music venues in Europe. His input should be about fining a place for the cable car, and keeping East London an attractive place to work and live, and not fall back after this expensive regeneration. This is what he's good at, and his contributions could make a real difference to people's lives in East London.