Olympics to be delivered £476m 'under budget'


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The Independent Online

With 43 days until the Games, the Government still has £476m left of its Olympic contingency fund, and ministers are "increasingly certain" they will deliver the event for significantly less than the £9.3bn agreed in 2007.

One cost that has risen, however, is an extra £19m to be spent on stewarding, barriers and temporary pedestrian bridges around Hyde Park and Greenwich Park.

The Sports minister, Hugh Robertson, said that the size of the crowds that have massed around the Olympic torch, and particularly the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, at which more than a million people were undeterred by the terrible weather, had caused Olympic officials to increase the amount of stewarding they needed.

"You have to consider that London is going to be a single sporting and cultural attraction, and it is going to be the place to come and have a summer party," he said yesterday,

Around £76m will now be spent on managing crowds, significantly up on the £50m that had originally been put aside. Whatever remains from the £476m at the end of the Paralympic closing ceremony will be returned to the treasury by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and not retained to be spent on sport as some had hoped.

The quarterly report, published yesterday, revealed that a total of £183m of public money has now been passed to Lord Coe's Locog, the committee responsible for organising the games, which is technically a private company and cannot be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

The approximate £9bn cost to the public is considerably more than the £2.4bn promised in the 2005 bid. But that figure, Mr Robertson said, "didn't include security, contingency, VAT or regeneration costs".