Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was in Essex today to see first-hand how the county is already an Olympic winner from London 2012 Games this summer.
Mr Pickles toured Hadleigh Farm, the site of the Olympic mountain biking track, and Basildon Sporting Village, an official Games training venue that will be home to the Japanese Olympic swim team. He also saw how the 2012 London Games are creating a sporting legacy for Essex that will inspire a generation to become more active.
Mr Pickles then saw how the Games are also helping local communities and companies. He will visit Hadleigh’s regenerated Old Fire Station to switch the clock back on and present an award to local school children. He also visited John Anthony Signs, a company that won a contract to provide much of the signage around the Olympic Park.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
We are on track for a great Games in 2012. It’s going to be an amazing chance to showcase to the world the best of what Britain and Essex has to offer.
The Olympic torch will go through Chelmsford; Hadleigh will host the Mountain Biking competition; and Basildon’s training village is set to become a home away from home for many athletes.
Essex already has seen Olympic success through home-grown heroes like Sally Gunnell and Dean Macey. I hope these games will inspire more young people to become Essex Ambassadors or get involved in sport and help leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.
This morning, Mr Pickles attended a Cabinet meeting at the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, chaired by the Prime Minister David Cameron. The meeting focused on how every part of the UK can take full advantage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the unique chance that that the country has to sell itself to a massive international audience.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
As we kick off 2012, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect time for the Cabinet to come together and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to make the most of this unique opportunity to showcase all the great things the UK has to offer to the rest of the world.
As Ministers visit Olympic venues, businesses, schools and organisations associated with 2012 right across the UK, I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country.
Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and six out of the eight Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain.
This afternoon, Cabinet Ministers visited towns and cities across the United Kingdom to see for themselves how businesses, sports facilities, schools and organisations are benefiting from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With little over seven months before the opening ceremony, the construction phase is 95 per cent complete and the project continues to be on time and on budget. Since work began on the East London site in 2008, £6.39 billion worth of contracts have been awarded to over 1500 business in the UK, with over £840 million worth going to businesses throughout the East of England.
Boosting tourism numbers
Hosting the Games this summer will put the United Kingdom in the international spotlight and the Government is committed to ensuring that the tourism sector maximises the benefits, boosting investment, jobs and growth. Domestic tourism will benefit from a 20.12 per cent discount initiative recently announced by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and during a trip to New York last September the Prime Minister launched the GREAT campaign which will focus on promoting globally everything the UK has to offer. The campaign will showcase the opportunities to invest in the UK and help to attract millions of extra visitors.
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt added:
London 2012 gives us an opportunity to showcase the best of Britain to the world and what this country has to offer. From our beautiful countryside to historic sites, sporting venues to our amazing cultural offer Britain really does have something for everyone. I am confident that we will put on a sporting spectacular this summer with some magical, medal moments that we will never forget and that will inspire many young people to get involved in sport.
Sports in the UK will also receive a boost as part of the Olympic legacy with many of the world-class venues being opened up to local communities and initiatives to support sport in schools, communities and elite athletes continuing after the Games.
Notes to editors
1. For further information on Eric Pickles’ visit, please contact the Department for Communities and Local Government press office on 0303 444 1201.
2. For further information on the benefits that the Olympics is bringing to Essex please contact the Department for Culture, Media and Sport press office on 020 7211 6263.
3. A 20.12 per cent discount - Accommodation providers who sign up to the VisitEngland-led campaign, will offer people the discount providing they book before the end of the Paralympics. The initiative will be fully-launched later this year.
4. Funding for elite athletes - Funding for our elite athletes will remain at the same level in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Games.
5. Community sport - Sport England’s £135 million PlacesPeoplePlay programme is already boosting community sport up and down the country - upgrading facilities, protecting playing fields and providing more opportunities for people to play sport.
6. School Games - The School Games is revitalising competitive sport in schools. 11,000 schools have signed up to date which will see inter-school and school versus school sports competition happen across the country. The first national final will take place at the Olympic Park in May with young athletes competing in many of the Games venues before the world’s best go for gold at London 2012.
7. Hadleigh Farm is owned by the Salvation Army. The venue covers a 550-acre site including beautiful grassland and woodland. It also includes the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park. The terrain is hilly with open grass land covered by low shrubbery. The site offers some fantastic gradients for mountain biking and great viewing opportunities for spectators. The course is set against the backdrop of the 700-year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle. Further information can be found here: www.london2012.com/hadleigh-farm (external link).
8. Hadleigh Old Fire Station was purchased by Essex County Council in 2010 with a view to creating a vibrant cultural and community hub that would serve as a focal point in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and then become part of the local Games Legacy. It contains studios for 15 local artists and facilities for local community groups. More details can be found here: www.essexlegacy.org/olympic-venues/hadleigh-farm/about-hadleigh-farm/hadleigh-old-fire-station (external link).
9. John Anthony Signs has produced all the signage on the approach to the Olympic Park from Wick Lane in Hackney along the Greenway, an important cycle and walking route and green space both during the London 2012 Games and in legacy. They manufactured and installed 134 custom made fingerposts. They also produced and installed eight flags. More information can be found here: www.johnanthonysigns.com/sectors_stadia_sport-london2012.php (external link).
10. Basildon Sporting Village will offer state of the art sports training facilities in a compact and secure location - in the middle of a 250 acre Park, less than 25 miles from the Olympic Park. Basildon Sporting Village will not only be the best sports and leisure facility in Essex, it will be the best in the East of England. Aside from preparation from the 2012 London Games, this is the largest sports project in the Gateway. The Sporting Village will deliver a facility for the people of the region, equipped with a 50 metre international size pool and much more, offering a wealth of activities and services for all. By 2012 Basildon will be benefiting from major regeneration. The provision of excellent sports facilities is central to its vision for the future. Over £1 billion is being invested in Basildon town centre alone, just half a mile from the Sporting Village site. Further information can be found here: www.basildonsportingvillage.com (external link).
11. Essex will receive visitors from the UK and all over the world during the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Essex County Council have run a process to recruit volunteers or Essex Ambassadors to be the face of Essex and give a warm welcome to everyone visiting our county. There will provide information and guidance on the Games events, transport queries and general tourist information at the main transport hubs across Essex. They will also help out in the lead up to the Games such as the Essex ‘Sparks Will Fly’ cultural festival, the Olympic Torch Relay and at the Hadleigh Farm Olympic Mountain Bike competitions. The transport hubs will be all the major train stations, i.e. Colchester, Chelmsford, Shenfield, Harwich Port, Southend Airport and Stansted Airport. More details can be found here: www.essexlegacy.org/be-part-of-it/volunteer/essex-ambassadors (external link).
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