Thank you very much. Before I call the first Member to ask a question, I remind all Members that questions should be limited to matters within the scope of the Bill and that we must stick strictly to the timings of the programme motion that the Committee has agreed. I hope that I do not have to interrupt Members or witnesses mid-sentence, but I will do so if needs be.
My question to Mr Sumner is about the responsibility for those parts of the Olympic route network that are outside London and the stress testing of the route network in advance of the games.
Hugh Sumner: Taking each of those in turn, the majority of the ORN is inside London, feeding the competition venues and the training venues, to move athletes from their place of accommodation to their place of competition or training. Outside London, there are elements of the ORN that will move the rowers from the accommodation at Egham, for example, to Eton Dorney for the rowing and flat-water canoeing, and also the roads down to Weymouth and Portland to support the sailing competition there. Within the football host cities, there is no need for ORNs as such, because the volume of vehicles and the duration of competition mean they don’t need them—they are well used to supporting football matches anyway.
That is the dynamic outside London itself—it generally feeds up to Broxbourne for white-water canoeing, Hadleigh Farm, Eton Dorney, and Weymouth and Portland. However, measures will be very different because the durations will be different. For example, at Broxbourne the competition will be finished by day 6 and we will immediately drop the measures out at that point. Furthermore, the background traffic will be less, so the intervention needed to smooth the traffic will be less.
The third thing is that there are elements and places within the UK where the enforcement will need to be done by the police. For example, south Bucks has yet to put in civil enforcement for measures, and there, Thames Valley police will help us out. So, there are differences between London and outside London.
The prime way to prove the networks will be simulation using computers, rather than live testing. Nevertheless, the individual elements will be tested in advance of the games and we will build it all together for the games operation. Not all measures will come into force on the same day because, for London, the media will start at the back end of June, the athletes in the middle of July and the games competition from the 27th onwards. There is therefore a phased build-up of activity from June onwards into July, dropping off at the end of the Paralympics. That is why the measures here are time-limited.
I would like to take a step back and ask each of you in turn to give your initial thoughts and a summary of your views on the impact of the Bill—things you think will help with the delivery of the Olympics and any challenges you think it may bring.
Hugh Sumner: From a roads perspective, there are three elements in the Bill that are essentially of a technical nature, which will facilitate the games and the communities in which they operate. First, it provides coherence between moving and static traffic offences, allowing local authorities to take due measures, where necessary, to make it come together. Secondly, it allows for temporary orders and notices immediately during games time. If we find that there are problems, we can rectify them immediately to keep the games going effectively, which will help the athletes, spectators and background road users.
The third measure is around special event notices—ensuring that you don’t need to create multiple event notices and that they embrace all relevant measures. You don’t have to write a women’s marathon route and a men’s marathon route; you write one marathon route that has everything in it, and you can then use it for two different events. These are essentially nurturing amendments that allow the filling out of the legislation in the spirit of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.
Hannah Holdroyd: From a business perspective, the response is obviously a little bit broader. My colleagues have given very specific transport and advertising responses. We are happy that the Bill allows clarity around things such as what will happen on the ORN if there is a problem, and what will happen at short notice. Our only real concern with the implementation is that business be given appropriate warning—not just when things are communicated, but how they will be communicated in advance—so that businesses know what to listen and look out for so that they are not accidently caught short by implementation of the alternative ORN, should there be a problem on the ORN. I think that business is looking for clear communication of the technical aspects that the Bill is enshrining.
May I come back with another question? First, will you tell the Committee a little about whether these are broadly equivalent to the powers that have been taken by other host cities? Secondly, what lessons have you learned from the operation of the ORN, which has been controversial in other cities, and how will you ameliorate those weaknesses in London?
Hugh Sumner: If I may, I will take your question in two parts—measures first, then what we have learned from the process. I think that the measures are broadly comparable to those that were put in place for Sydney following the experiences of Atlanta. They are also broadly comparable to those used in Athens in 2004. Beijing in 2008, as you might imagine, took a slightly more forceful approach to running their road system at games time, which involved a series of measures for an entire 60 days, lanes throughout the road network, half the vehicles banned on alternative number plates, and deliveries only between 12 and 6 at night. London, as you can probably gather, has adopted a slightly more proportional approach to hours of operation, days of operation and the measures needed, trying to achieve the right balance between making certain that athletes get there on time while keeping London and the other places in the UK operating effectively during games time.
The big learning point for us—it echoes what Hannah said earlier—is the need to work with communities and businesses. We have been embarked, with our colleagues in Transport for London, on an advice-to-business programme since November last year. We are providing free consultancy support to the bigger employers, and working through organisations such as London First and the FSB to get to the 200,000 businesses in London and get them to start thinking about what it means in planning terms. Do they pre-order their materials? Do they do things differently on the arrival and departure patterns of their staff and the rest of it? The big learning point is trying to work with the city, local authorities, employers and business to make it a positive experience to host the games, and one that works for the spectators and the athletes.
What discussions have you had, and who with, on the impact of the Olympics and the Bill on business, particularly small businesses? What discussions have you had, and what has been the outcome?
Hugh Sumner: We have had very extensive conversations. We are working with 40 different business intermediary groups: London Chamber of Commerce, the FSB, London First and small organisations such as the East London Business Association. The key thing is to work with them to create a range of support tools for them, ranging from measures that are available over the internet through to support and advice.
For example, as we speak, businesses employing some 250,000 employees have people working with them to develop their plans for the games to allow them, over a year, to practise those plans and get those measures in place for the people who will be visiting those businesses, as well as their employees, their deliveries and all that might go with it. That process is continuing to drive through.
Some of you may have seen the adverts in the Evening Standard over the last couple of weeks that advise and guide businesses towards our website, so as to support them. Similarly, most of the electronic magazines from business intermediaries have articles that we have been working up with those organisations to get out there, through a few businesses to many—some 200,000. We have good support from those intermediaries.
Mr Sumner, a question for you. I hope it does not keep you awake at night, but what is the biggest headache within your portfolio? What is your biggest worry? Are there any amendments to the Bill that would help?
Hugh Sumner: If I may, I will split your question into two. The big challenges for the games are to do with the intensity and duration of the activity itself. This is an entire summer of activity, starting with the Queen’s diamond jubilee, then the 16 days of the Olympic games and 12 days of the Paralympic games. There are different types of challenge in relation to competitors, spectators and such like. That intensity and the need to maintain businesses—so that the pubs do not run dry, so that you can still buy your sandwiches—is a big challenge to any nation.
There are a couple of areas that we need to focus on, including working more with businesses and, in particular, freight. I know that the Secretary of State for Transport is considering how he might address the issues of freight management, so that freight can be delivered in slightly different manners. TfL might want to talk about that this afternoon. That area will need some consideration. It rests with the Secretary of State for Transport to reflect on whether an amendment might be necessary.
Perhaps I will carry on with a couple of further questions on the ORN. Mr Sumner, where would you anticipate the maximum pressure will be? I would like to explain this question a bit. My experience of the other games that I have attended is that maintaining the support of the public for the necessity of the ORN is a very important part of ensuring the overall smooth running of the games. I remember both in Beijing and Athens, roads had one lane dedicated to the ORN, traffic-free, with large cars gliding along, while the residents of Athens and the normal spectators sat bumper to bumper in the other two lanes. That image would not be good for London. I think we all know that.
Before the election, when we had discussions with the Mayor about relocating two of the sports to Wembley, the impact on the north circular was one of the major considerations. Could you be more specific in following up Malcolm Wicks’s question: at which parts of the network do you anticipate maximum pressure? Will we see two lanes bumper to bumper, and one lane dedicated to easy passage for our athletes—most importantly—and for the IOC? What do you expect regarding traffic flows on the north circular during the games?
Hugh Sumner: In terms of the most pressure on the road network, athletes, competitors and technical officials will be moved from the east to venues in the centre of town. There will be a lot of flow coming from athletes who have competed going in one way and athletes who are going to compete going in the other—in areas such as along the Embankment and on Lower Thames street and Upper Thames street. The large flows will generally be east-west in direction. To give a sense of scale, that means a minibus, coach or bus roughly every 15 seconds at peak time. There will be very large flows of people going to officiate, compete, or report with electronic news-gathering equipment.
Hugh Sumner: The large flows will be moving to get to venues for 9 o’clock, when, for example, volleyball at Earls Court starts. From then on, throughout the whole day, it will be very busy because many of the sports events have one, two or three competitions a day at that particular venue. There will be a very large flow of athletes, competitors, and technical officials and such people working there. The road networks will be busy all day. For that reason, TfL and ourselves are working with businesses to manage background traffic during the games. That involves rerouting traffic, persuading people to leave their vehicles behind if possible, and businesses adjusting their freight patterns for deliveries—for example, pre-ordering their stationery before the games so that such deliveries are not needed during them. That is the key.
The north circular will not be the main route for movement to Wembley arena and Wembley stadium for football and badminton respectively. The number of vehicles there will be relatively limited anyway. Vehicles will use the A40, turning right from there. That is a prime route.
In relation to other events that will take place at the same time—for example, there will be at least two weekends when Premier League football will be played in London during the Olympics—what consideration has been given to traffic planning on the route that will need to take place to accommodate them?
Hugh Sumner: There are other events that will be going on in London during the Olympic and Paralympic games. Under the host city contract, rival sports events cannot be run, so Premier League and football authorities are putting back football matches. Having said that, there are going to be a whole range of other events taking place, with live sites, IOC houses, and big sponsors taking places like Alexandra Palace. All such events are being collated by the Greater London authority into a London events calendar, which is now being assessed by the police and the transport people, such as ourselves and TfL, to ensure that London can cope with that footprint of the wider events that will take place in the summer of 2012. There is also an analogous measure being led by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for events across the nation, to ensure that transport and police forces nationwide are not over-pushed.
Potentially, you will need to make decisions on traffic management, not by the minute, but certainly almost day by day, particularly if things do not work out at the beginning. How will those decisions be communicated to the public, particularly motorists, who may suddenly find that there are changes to the arrangements?
Hugh Sumner: It is a challenge to bring together and co-ordinate transport for the games. To that extent, we have created a transport co-ordination centre, which is already in existence and exercising. It will co-ordinate all modes of transport across the UK during games time, welding together heavy rail, rail and roads in London, and Games Family transport, in order to get coherence of delivery and ensure that we are coherent in communicating effectively to users of public transport and the road system. A key thing coming out of the transport co-ordination centre will be information back to the operators themselves—so, to road users using variable message signing, radio adverts, radio bursts; all those means are designed to ensure that we can give the best possible information so that, if there is a problem on a particular line, we can re-route spectators rapidly and effectively. As their mainline train is coming into London, the train operator gives the announcement over the PA—those are the sorts of mechanisms that are going to be put in place with our colleagues.
I am particularly concerned about ordinary Londoners going about their normal day-to-day business suddenly finding that, for some reason, they cannot use their normal route. How can they discover that, to make sure that they are not suddenly going to be inadvertently fined or given a penalty notice or something like that when the information has not been communicated to them? What assurance can you give that that will not happen?
Hugh Sumner: We are committed to giving the best possible information. That will range from traffic and road forecasts for the following day on radio and television through to supplements in Metro—all these sorts of means have been used in previous games to ensure that people understand. There will be road events on 11 days; from marathons to the road cycling time trial. London will need to understand, day by day, what is the tempo there, what issues are happening, where sports events are, so that they can plan their day effectively and, during the day itself, get real-time information.
Following Tessa Jowell’s question, my guess would be that Londoners fully understand that the athletes, the sports people, those officiating and so on, need a fast route, but when the inevitable traffic jams occur, Londoners will not be impressed if lots of other people, lots of bigwigs in big limousines, are swishing by while the good Londoner is stuck in the traffic jam. Can you assure the Committee that we have this side of it under control?
Hugh Sumner: I take your point entirely. Something like 95% of participants going about their day-to-day business will be in big vehicles such as minibuses, coaches and buses. There are very few, under the terms of the host city contract, who get any form of conventional car, limo or anything like that. That is the drive there. Furthermore, we are committed, through the organising committee, to providing good information to people so that they can use public transport and we will encourage that. All members of the IOC will be given a free travel card and advice and guidance about the most effective way of walking to the venues—a lot of them will be able to walk to the venues rather than take public transport. It is all those sorts of means. There is a commitment from the organising committee and the Mayor to make this as much of a public-transport games as possible.
As much as I am incredibly supportive of the Olympics—I think all Londoners are, because we can prove how well London can perform at such an amazing event, as well as others who are involved across Britain—I want to press the point of the impact on business. There are some businesses that will not benefit from the games per se, so I want to make sure that they can still trade as normal. For example, Fuller’s on the A4 coming into London, says that it has struggled to find information about the changes that will be imposed on it. Mr Sumner, you mentioned adjusting freight patterns. That is an incredibly difficult job for some businesses because of having to change shift patterns, contracts and so forth. A lot of work goes into that and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East said, you may need to be quite flexible at short notice. What have you been doing to make sure that businesses such as Fuller’s can still operate as planned and trade as normal? Ms Holdroyd, how confident are your members that they have been involved and included and that they feel they can still trade as normal?
Hugh Sumner: We have been working with the Freight Transport Association for over two years and, in particular, have a sub-group called the breweries and logistics group which has been working on the issue of the movement of beer out of breweries and into pubs, which is an important part of their activity. That group has already been working through the issue. The actual maps for the ORN, and the measures and proposals there, were published in detail with effect from mid-June last year.
The advice to businesses, which gives detailed maps around the traffic implications, was published on 24 November. The consultation on the detailed, metre by metre route is now being led by TfL, and those conversations are happening at both an informal and formal level with businesses, officers and members of the communities. The point you make is well taken, and our commitment, with our colleagues in TfL and the GLA, is to get to those businesses and give them good information so that they can start to plan differently. We will then look to organisations such as London Councils to adjust things like the London Lorry Control Scheme during games time, all as way of ensuring that businesses can thrive during the games and have a positive experience.
Hannah Holdroyd: I support a lot of what Hugh just said, in that the Olympic Delivery Authority has made an awful lot of effort to engage with business in getting information across. Where we would be slightly critical from the small business perspective is that an awful lot of that engagement has been with the larger businesses and the larger business community. For example, the site-specific advice for travel planning is aimed very much at larger businesses. They did lower the threshold of how many employees they had to have, but I would argue that if you have 500 employees you probably have a business continuity manager, and if they don’t have travel planning experience you can probably send them on a course. It is the much smaller businesses that do not have the in-house knowledge.
One of the things that we were quite disappointed about was that, way back, we heard that there would be a telephone helpline, so that if you had a query when looking at the various maps that have been published you could call, which would be a great resource for small businesses. That was not implemented, and now there is an e-mail address, which is quite impersonal. Even if the person answering the e-mail has the best knowledge in the world, you do not necessarily feel that you’re being listened to if your only method of communication is e-mail. I would say that, while the maps have been published in good time, and the ORN consultation is ongoing, there is a question about who the small business with a query talks to. Yes, there has been engagement with the business intermediary groups, but who do I talk to? That is part of the difficulty that we have had.
On the freight side, this is obviously a big problem for businesses of all sizes, and I know that TfL made some suggestions in its written evidence about how this might be managed. The ODA freight team is surprisingly small, in terms of how big an issue freight will be during games times. I have worked quite closely with the project manager for freight. I think that he has done a very good job, but he is only one person. Sometimes we feel that his mandate is very much to deal with the bigger businesses. Just because smaller businesses are small does not mean that they have one man and a bicycle. We have been trying to get the message across that a small business can still have several very large lorries that travel exclusively in, for example, the Stratford area, and would therefore be significantly impacted by any changes or last minute amendments to the ORN. It is as if we are 75% there, but there is the last 25% of how the smaller business gets its questions answered.
Hugh Sumner: If I may, I will add to that, and support what Hannah said. The dialogue has moved on significantly over the past few months. For example, my freight team is now co-locating and working with the TfL freight team, so there is now one team driving London’s freight, working with the industry to power it through. It is a challenge working with small businesses; there are 200,000 of them in London. The key mechanisms for us have been mail drops, working through business intermediaries, trying to hold surgeries and the rest of it. We are determined to do whatever we can to try to get to small businesses, but it is a challenge, and I am not going to deny it. It is not easy to get to all of the local tobacconists, newsagents and the rest, but we are determined to do so, in particular through our colleagues at TfL along the lines of the ORN, because that is where the most impact will be for the people concerned during those few days of competition.
May I bring Mr Sumner back to the games lanes? Do you feel that the enforcement powers in this Bill, and in other legislation already on the statute book, are going to be strong enough to enforce any traffic infringements around the use of the games lanes? How do you envision that that will work in reality?
Hugh Sumner: Games lanes will be used only on particular sections of road where there are very high volumes of traffic, and where there is enough road space to, in effect, create a form of bus lane during the games. Those lanes will generally be in the centre of the road—the offside, rather than the nearside, lane—so that they do not interfere with buses and cyclists or other such traffic. With regard to compliance, the lanes are designed to be primarily self-compliant. The experience from previous games has shown that it is generally an issue of national pride for people to stay out of the lane. They enforce themselves through visual—[Laughter.] The experience of Athens was that there were almost no fines on their ORN, because the Athenians were so intensely proud of hosting the games. Nevertheless, in London there will be compliance measures. For example, there will be civil enforcement officers dotted along the length of road where appropriate number plate recognition technology will be in place.
The bigger issue for us is in trying to ensure that, near the venues, local authorities have the means to allow the local community to go about its business, without people swamping the roads by driving to the venues. To that end, we are very clear in all our communications that this is designed to be a car-free games, as far as spectators are concerned. This is why there will be good-value ticketing of all main line trains, direct coach networks providing good-value travel, and strategic park-and-rides around the periphery of London. These are all designed to try to ensure that people do not drive into town, that they do not clutter the streets, and that London can operate effectively in a party mode for those 16 days of games.
Hugh Sumner: There will be fixed penalty notices. The ODA consulted last year on the subject of the value of fixed penalty notices, and the proposed value—subject to the agreement of the Secretary of State for Transport—is £200, rebated back to £100 for prompt payment. This is not out of line with the existing penalty regime in London: it is memorable, but not rapacious. The whole thing is designed to send a message, not to penalise per se. It is of course down to the Secretary of State for Transport to establish what level of tariff might be appropriate, but that is the current view from our consultation last year. Generally, the feedback we got from all organisations concerned was that that amount was about right.
Allegedly, 25% of vehicles in London are driven by someone other than the registered keeper. If someone is knowingly driving a vehicle that does not belong to them, then just using number plate recognition schemes will not work. What will happen in those instances?
Hugh Sumner: We are getting support from the transport police. The transport operational command unit—the safer travel organisation—will help us during the games by enforcing moving-traffic violations. For the enforcement of static violations we will look to the local authorities and their enforcement officers and tow trucks. The key issue during the games is keeping the flow of traffic moving, and therefore the biggest single measure is not within the Bill: it is in ensuring that there are no road and streetworks. There will be a moratorium on road and streetworks in London for about a three-month period leading up to the games. To ensure that that works effectively, we have good support from the utility companies, which have adjusted their capital works programmes for 2012. That will be the biggest single boon, and we will put the measures in the Bill over that.
Will you explain what will happen to the games lanes after the games have finished? Could some nefarious Mayor decide to utilise those games lanes for some other purpose afterwards?
Indeed, if I might interrupt, that is enshrined in the 2006 Act. It is time-limited and goes into receivership after the games are over.
May I ask about car parking? You mention that there will be strategic park-and-ride areas. What consideration has been given to creating those areas around parts of London? Every time there is a major event at Wembley, half of my constituency becomes a car park and people use the last two or three stops on the tube line to get to Wembley Stadium. Clearly, that is inconvenient for local residents on Saturdays, Sundays and during the week. This could potentially be quite an extended period of time, so I wonder what temporary park-and-ride schemes will be available. I know that these are meant to be public transport games, but the experience of Wembley shows that you can make it completely public transport-friendly, but people will still use their cars from outside London and park as close to the area as they can.
Hugh Sumner: We have always recognised that, despite putting in good-value mainline fares for the trains, which will come on sale next month, and putting in a direct coach network across the nation to support the movement of spectators to the Olympic park and suchlike, there will be people who will, because of their particular circumstances or needs, look towards using their car. For that reason, we have secured a number of big strategic park-and-ride sites around the periphery of London where people will be able to park their vehicle and then use shuttle buses to take them to the Olympic park, ExCel and Greenwich on day 3, to ensure that they do not arrive in London and then look towards rail heading.
One side effect of the Bill will be the ability of local authorities, where necessary, if they do get problems with rail during the games, to use powers in the Bill to put in temporary urgent measures to make sure that they are not adversely affected by unforeseen circumstances. Generally, if there is a problem with rail heading, local authorities are well versed in it and already have measures in place to tackle it before games day or match day.
Going back to the effect on businesses, I represent Leyton, which is so close it is almost on the Olympic park. In fact, if you come out of Leyton tube station, which I am sure you do regularly, you can see across the Olympic park, but we do not have any facilities inside the borough of Waltham Forest. I have got a lot of narrow streets with a lot of small businesses. Going back to your answer to Mary Macleod’s question, did you consult with all those businesses, through surgeries, mail drops and all that sort of thing?
Hugh Sumner: I will make a couple of points. The first is that we understand the needs of residents and small businesses immediately around all the competition venues. We understand that something has to be put in place to manage the flow of vehicles during games time, so that you do not get people rat running or trying to park up—fly parking—which is what you often get around sports venues. There will therefore be local area traffic management plans around all the competition venues to ensure that only people who have due business within it can access that area. This will ensure that spectators do not try to drive close to a venue and then park up. Those measures will be fully consulted on—mail drops, surgeries and all the rest—working with those businesses in the local areas such as Leyton to ensure that they can go about their day-to-day business during games time. Part of the reason why the measures in the Bill are important is because it means that Waltham Forest, Newham and Hackney will be able to put in the right measures to support the games and support their local residents and businesses.
Hannah Holdroyd: I would only add that for businesses not specifically located on the ORN, or within a stone’s throw of an Olympic venue—I know Leyton very well—consultation could possibly have started a little earlier to make them aware that it does impact on them. One thing we hear from our members is, “Well, I am not in Greenwich, so it is not my problem”. We take our responsibility as an organisation which represents them to say to them, you need to think about this now, but we very much want to work with the ODA, to use the tools they can provide us to do that. If organisations like mine were made aware of things like the mail drops and the surgeries—it is a logistic aspect, but if we were told that they were happening in east London, say, or west London—we could make businesses aware. I have never been told of a surgery taking place that I could tell my members about.
I was in and out of a number of businesses yesterday on Cann Hall road, which is pretty close to where the Olympics will be. If any of them had a problem now or in future, what would be the point of contact?
Hugh Sumner: The point of contact for the measures overall is TfL, which is putting together the programme for traffic for the games. It is working with the organising committee around the venues to make certain with the local authorities that things are in place. There is a relationship between TfL, local authorities and the organising committee, which are pulling the individual measures together. Some detailed conversations have yet to happen. There is still a conversation at a technical level for the area around Leyton, around what is appropriate regarding geographic spread and how to manage the road network there. That is with the technical officers and the boroughs. As soon as that has concluded, those sorts of conversations with local residents and businesses will be occurring.
Hugh Sumner: Those conversations will occur in the next couple of months. Over a year out from the games, the detailed conversations around what is happening on a particular road on a particular time of day will be complete. They have started across the piece already for the ORN. Something like half the road network is out of informal and formal consultation. The remainder will be completed over the next three months. Those sorts of conversations are occurring now.
Hugh Sumner: The implications are twofold. Firstly, where there are problems, they can be rectified fast, which is important to keep transport systems operating effectively. Secondly, the legislation provides means to protect things such as the bus network, which is very important in much of London. The ability to prioritise bus and direct coach networks—things that support the mass movement of people—is very important, and positive for background users of transport, as well as spectators and competitors. It is not just designed to support the athletes, but spectators and existing users of public transport, too.
In that context, apart from emergency closures that might be necessary due to problems on a particular day, are there any plans to close any tube stations during the 2012 games?
Hugh Sumner: We need to think about one of the stations on the docklands light railway, Pudding Mill Lane, which is a very small station right next to the Olympic park. It is likely that trains will be non-stopping there during the games, to prevent spectators from entering the wrong place and the station getting overloaded. Instead they will go to Stratford and through that entrance into the park, but there are no other plans for any such measure for stations in east London.
Yes, I have one more question. The amendments essentially allow enormous, virtually unfettered discretion to TfL to amend the ORN as is needed for the proper running of the games. First, Hugh, could you say a little bit about the way in which you will protect that freedom so that it is proportionate? Secondly, what do you estimate is the time between you deciding that there must be a variation to the route network and that taking effect? What notice, if any, will drivers and travellers get? Finally, a point of fact: is there any point in the ORN where bus lanes will be closed in order to facilitate the extra lane for Olympic traffic? You may want to come back to us on that.
Hugh Sumner: In terms of ensuring that there is no aberrant behaviour by TfL or others that might unduly impact or be disproportionate to the sort of problems that they face, the key issue is that they are using existing powers and existing controls around them. For example, the temporary traffic notices and traffic orders are very clear about the circumstances and duration for which they can apply, so that does not allow them untrammelled powers to run in perpetuity. You have seven days for a notice, and then it has to be an order. You have to prepare the relevant paperwork and so on. There is a due process associated with that.
The second thing I would say, in terms of how swift an action might be necessary, within the space of an hour, let us say, it might be necessary to change a left turn or right turn. If the security footprint changes on a particular day, for whatever reason, the change will have to be immediate. There will have to be appropriate signage and the rest of it, and then we will have to update existing road users. A lot of this is around finding that things are not as predicted on the day, and the whole situation changes. For example, the sports event overruns, there is an extra day of rowing, or the security footprint changes; all of that drives it.
In terms of the removal of bus lanes, that is generally very limited indeed. There are a couple of minor areas by Hyde Park that will need some tweaking, given that the triathlon is there, but in general they are designed to co-exist with other lanes, not to supplant them.
Mr Sumner, may I take you back to your comments on roadworks? Will you confirm that all roadworks within all London boroughs will be suspended for the period of the Olympic games, not just utilities? You mentioned utility companies, but I am concerned about all roadworks, whether they are pavement extensions, town centre improvements or street lighting replacements. Sometimes these seem to continue while the major roadworks are suspended, and often the minor roadworks cause just as much disruption.
Hugh Sumner: TfL, which is managing the ORN within London, sent out a communication last week to all the boroughs and utility companies, asking that they ensure that A and B roads, and sensitive roads around the ORN, are kept free of all road and street works during that window in summer 2012, whatever the cause of that might be. Depending on where the venue is, and the particular issues associated with it, it is more time-limited. There is no total blanket, but the general principle that will be adopted is all A and B roads in London.
What scenario planning has been done for emergency procedures? It might be, for example, a major accident or a terrorist threat. Do you feel that there is enough in the Bill to cover those situations?
Hugh Sumner: To answer your last question first, yes, this is supportive and will allow an immediate and urgent response if things happen. In terms of games readiness, there is a games readiness programme that is working through transport, security, communications and all those elements that bring the games together. That is already well under way. The transport co-ordination centre is now on its fifth or sixth exercise in desk-topping. Actual events that we will be learning from include the opening of the Westfield centre, which is a huge shopping development that opens in Stratford this September. We also have the sports test events, so there is a programme of readiness, ranging from big events through to desk-topping, that London has to go through to get itself in a fit state for the games next year. It is well under way now.
A quick question to Mr Sumner, picking up on the point he made about fines for driving within restricted areas of the Olympic network. If I heard you correctly, you said that, subject to the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport, the results of your consultation exercise were that there should be a £200 fine, reduced to £100 if people paid within a certain time. You said that most of the organisations that responded to the consultation thought that that was the right answer. How many ordinary Londoners responded to the consultation?
Does anyone else want to come in, particularly on any of the transport issues? I think that there are Members who want to come in on advertising and trading issues, so it might make sense for us to move on to that terrain. Would any Member like to come in on that?
May I ask Alice a simple question first? Is there anything in the Bill that you have concerns about? Secondly, although in the round, the sums are relatively small, so will you explain to me the impact assessment and the financial information we were given, as I still have a little difficulty? We are told that the additional cost of transferring responsibility for dealing with seized items from the police to the ODA, which in turn will no doubt pass it on to trading standards officers, is £22,000. Later in the documentation, however, we are told that by doing that there will be a net saving to the public purse of £55,000. I assume, therefore, that the cost of the police doing this is £77,000 more than if trading standards officers did it. Would you explain that?
Thirdly, will you remind us what acceptable existing trading will be exempted from the new rules when they kick in? In other words, if the Mayor of London wishes to extend his bike scheme, sponsored by Barclays, right out to the Olympic park, sponsored by Visa, how quickly will he have to do it before he is in breach of the rules?
Alice Nugent: Okay, three parts to the question. We do not have concerns about the changes; they were requested by the ODA in response to speaking with local authorities and the police. That regime—officers having to hand over seized goods to the police—is out of step with existing arrangements, and it is a much more streamlined way of working to have the enforcement officer take charge of the seized items, remain in control of them and retain them in secure storage within the local authority. We don’t have concerns about the changes—we’re happy.
As a supplementary before you move on to the other questions, will you confirm that it is your view that the procedures operated by trading standards officers around the country, under the legislation that applies to them, are a more sensible set of rules and approaches than applies to police, and that it might be appropriate to change the police rules in due course?
Alice Nugent: On the impact assessment, the original arrangement was that the police would hold all the seized items within their various storage arrangements and we would be charged for that, both for officer time and storage. Under these arrangements, we are looking to provide our own arrangements for oversized or excess items. That is the estimate of £22,000. The majority of seized items and the cost of storage is now transferred to local authorities and we will pass on some on-costs to officer time to cover that. The saving is that we do not now need a police officer attached to every enforcement team just to deal with seized items and, additionally, will not be charged for storage of those items. The rules are all time-limited to the venues and events, so they do not kick in for the Olympic park, for example, until four days ahead of the opening ceremony.
Just so I am clear, any shop or any regularly agreed venue that is advertising a non-Olympic sponsor, as long as it is there four days in advance of the event, will not be attacked, have goods seized or whatever, including Boris bikes?
Alice Nugent: The Act sets out the powers and, obviously, officers need to work within those powers. The ODA is responsible for training designated officers to ensure that they operate within those powers. We are also operating under an enforcement policy that is in line with the better regulation principles, so it is about being transparent, proportionate and consistent. Those are our objectives and that is what we will put in place via our training and our expectations of the designated officers at local authorities. We are making it clear through a memorandum of understanding with local authorities that that is what we need and expect.
Alice Nugent: It remains the ODA’s responsibility; we are responsible for the actions, so if there was a contentious issue, it would have to be escalated to the ODA before any enforcement action would be taken. That, again, will form part of our training to make sure that officers are aware that, if there is an uncertainty, they must come to the ODA.
How much freedom does London have over the definition of infringing articles? Is that something that was agreed with the IOC as part of the whole deal or is there a reasonable amount of freedom about that? What is the definition? Can you give us more clarity about what is an infringing article?
Alice Nugent: My understanding is that the definition of an infringing article was part of the debate on the Act originally passed. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport policy officers would have agreed that at the time. I think it is broad enough to allow enforcement officers to do their jobs—not only to seize goods that may be being sold, but items displayed or a stall being used to display those items—in order for us to prevent the commission of the offence. Obviously, those items remain the property of the person they have been taken from, so they will be returned in due course.
Can you say how this will operate? The venues in London will be quite diverse and spaced around London, but it is not just limited to London and there are venues outside. As I understand it, there will be strict enforcement within the immediate facility of the venues. However, Londoners all over London will, for example, be entering tube stations, and potentially people selling articles. The former individuals will then turn up at Olympic venues to be told, “Sorry, that is illegal and I am going to take it off you.” Possibly that will include even the shirt off their back. How will that be operated?
Alice Nugent: The regulations do not cover, as you say, some of the transport areas where things may be given away or sold. We may anyway not necessarily have a right to seize people’s carried items and their belongings—for example, their T-shirt. There is an exemption for people wearing their own clothing. The issue is if they are part of an ambush campaign—people will be aware that they are part of such a campaign if they have been paid to wear particular shirts or T-shirts. Only then does it become an offence, and that is the only time that we can take action. We do not have the right to seize items off individuals. The issue is the selling of those items, which has to take place within the zone for the Olympics.
This continues then. There will quite rightly be strict enforcement in operation around the venues, but presumably illegal street traders can set up stores outside any tube station or any route across London. What action can be taken against them?
The other issue is what consideration has been given to consultation with small businesses within the facility of the games on what they can and cannot do over that period.
Alice Nugent: We are in the process of working those arrangements up. The regulations have not been made yet, but we have met with some small businesses, particularly in Newham. Westminster council has also approached us to start getting the message out regarding what the regulations cover and what could be affected. Generally, the response has been reasonably positive because quite a lot is exempt from what we are trying to do. Businesses are responding positively to the fact that we will be tackling illegal traders who come into their area.
What about small businesses outside the main games area? They are the ones that may be affected for only relatively short periods, but they may be completely unaware of the restrictions. What consultation will you have with them?
Alice Nugent: Again, we have spoken to all the affected local authorities, so the information is within local authority remit now and there is no reason why we cannot visit traders in those areas to talk to them about the impact of the regulations. We are quite prepared to do that; it forms a part of our programme.
One final point from me. The legislation brings the regulation in line with that for Glasgow in the Commonwealth games. Obviously, the Olympics is a much bigger event, but were any particular lessons learnt during the Commonwealth games that will be translated into the Olympics?
The issue with the Glasgow games, Bob, is that the Act that the Scottish Parliament put through was in 2008. This just brings the subsequent arrangements into line with that.
If Members have no further questions for this set of witnesses, that brings us to the end of this part of the evidence session. I thank our witnesses; we appreciate your coming today and the time that you have given. We hope that you found it an enjoyable experience and not too much of an ordeal.