Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Olympics Legacy - April 2009

Sometimes, battling for the Olympic legacy stops me from seeing and celebrating the good stuff that the Games are already bringing.

Many readers will know that, together with the Recorder and my colleagues in West Ham's Labour Party, I am campaigning to bring a permanent health centre to Stratford as part of the Olympic legacy. I'm also very concerned that jobs and opportunities resulting from the Games benefit local people.

But last week I enjoyed seeing evidence of the positive on an almost daily basis.

Building work has begun on the new velodrome to give us world-class cycling facilities for all ages. And it's creating a buzz already.

I visited the site with students from Roman Road Primary School, and with Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, we watched a BMX expert do some fantastic bike tricks on a makeshift track.

It was an amazing spectacle. Neither they, nor I, had seen anything like it as he spun around his bike in full flight. 

I was nervous, but the young people seemed to grow in confidence from watching, and soon it was their time to have a go. They didn't get to his dizzy heights, thank heavens, but they did build up the courage to go up and down the ramps. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

As was the enthusiasm of the students the day before, when I visited Cumberland School with the Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe to launch National School Sports Week.

Jonathan Edwards and Denise Lewis were there too, and all the adults, bar none, were shivering. I was chilly in my suit and jacket, but these young people - dressed in their polo shirtsleeves - didn't seem to mind the temperature at all. They were just intent on soaking up the attention they were getting from the media and having a really good time. 

And later that same week I visited a training centre on the Olympic Park to promote jobs for women in construction. Like the other women who had turned up for a taster session, I operated a digger and drove a dumper truck - and had an absolute blast.

Three of the women lived just around the corner from me in Plaistow. They were very clear about their motivation for being there. Construction jobs can often pay better than hairdressing, and with the training offered on site, it's a very attractive opportunity. 

And this is not equal opportunities gone mad. There are sound economic reasons for businesses wanting to employ women. We can be easier on the machinery than heavier handed men, meaning machines don't need replacing quite so often. This is something I have always maintained with John, my partner, when discussing household appliances and the car, but it's an argument that he is yet to concede.

The enthusiasm for the Olympics from the women I met on Friday matched that of the young people. They want it to work for them.

I won't stop campaigning to protect the Olympic legacy and arguing that the polyclinic in Stratford is delivered as promised; local people must have a decent health facility built there. But let's not forget what is being delivered as a result of these Games. Let's grab these opportunities with both hands.

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