The experience of running the 2012 London Olympics in Stratford, Greenwich (equestrian events in the Royal Park), Woolwich (shooting) and at the North Greenwich (02) Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula will bring to the fore the immediate and long-term traffic, public transport and development challenges facing this part of London.
Greenwich and the London River are putting on a tremendous show through 2012 with celebrations covering the granting of Royal status to the Borough of Greenwich and other events. A river cavalcade with a thousand vessels will mark the 60th Jubilee anniversary of the reign of HM the Queen. A gathering and processions of 20 tall-ships in the Woolwich
Reach and the arrival of many large vessels in the West India Dock will provide additional accommodation and national bases (such as the cruise ship Deutschland which will host the German teams) and bring much life to the Canary Wharf area, and many other celebrations and fireworks are planned for the Tower to Westminster sector of the River. Special events in Hyde Park and other parts of Central London are also planned.
It will be vital that the legacy of the 2012 Olympics is not merely the impetus it gives to sport of all kinds all over the United Kingdom, but also the kick-start it can give to economic growth and sensible investment in the longer-term prosperity and welfare of this country. In this, London and the London River and Londoners have an important part to play, not only in their own backyard but as part of a much wider national vision of regeneration and growth. At the end of the day, the challenge is not so much about national budget allocation or the regulation of the private sector. It is about the fundamentals of our society – freedom of the individual, human rights, protection of the weak and elderly, rising educational and employment opportunity for all on equal terms, health care available to all, openness to the rest of the world and a secure climate for investment in new technology and new markets. This ideal only works if everyone and particularly every institution involved understands this general long-term objective and abandons the all too common conflicting instinct of seeking narrow, temporary and sometimes random alliances to prevent things from happening.
Renewing Public Optimism
Greenwich, among many other places in the UK, is a good example of where the achievement and dynamism of the past has been lovingly preserved and protected for the benefit of inspiring future generations not merely with the beauty of its buildings, park and riverside and the great historical treasures they contain, but also with an awareness of the dynamism and wisdom and artistry of the people who created them. This national pride and confidence in the future has, of course, to be matched by an awareness that the world is changing very fast indeed. Here lie great new opportunities for the United Kingdom. The widespread global use of English, the City of London, still the greatest financial market in the world, the opportunity to restore London’s position as the transport hub of Europe and top international airport worldwide cannot be brushed aside. Global integration through advances in telecommunications and the spread of global trade and markets give the UK immense advantages, but only if they can be harnessed effectively.
Greenwich Tube Map Photo Gallery
Finally, with these wider and deeper preoccupations about the national psyche and new opportunities within the global economic framework, I propose to repeat an exercise we undertook with LORICA forty years ago. We asked five questions:
• What might we hope to achieve over the next thirty or forty years on the London River?
• What are the long-term dangers and risks?
• What are the immediate priorities?
• What might be the key opportunities?
• How might an overall vision help in an efficient allocation of resources?
We cannot pretend to know how the future will work out. Others will have their own views, but neither will they know. All we can do is to apply our own grading of high probability to remote possibility and to look for savings and elimination of waste in the process. Most important is listening and observing the response of others to what we say, not merely the major players in the game today, but the scientists and engineers and commercial innovators at the edge of technological change.