Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Olympic Victory Parade - Why isn't it coming South?

Team GB will celebrate its' success at the Olympics and Paralympics with a parade through the streets of London on September 10th.  It should be a magnificent occasion, and give many Londoners an opportunity to congratulate the stars of London 2012.

When I first heard about the Olympic Parade on the 8th of August I asked the Mayor of London and others to ensure that the route reflected the wonderful legacy of the games by bringing it south of the river.  The traditional route for parades of all kinds seems to be to and from Westminster and the City of London.  That's great, and reflects the history of our city.

But if London 2012 has demonstrated anything it is that London has changed and is changing.  The regeneration of East London will be one of the lasting impacts of these Olympics and Paralympics - a whole new and exciting part of our capital city is emerging.  And some of the most iconic images of this Summer have come from the south of the river, where another new part of London is being delivered.

From Tower Bridge and Potters Fields - the only Olympic and Paralympic Live Site - to City Hall, the Shard, The Globe, Tate Modern and the London Eye - we now look south of the river for some of the most iconic sites and sights of modern London.  Even cab drivers no longer see anything south of the Thames as a "no go" area!

So the Olympic Victory Parade should have celebrated the new London as much as the historic parts of our great city.  An imaginative route could have passed over either Tower Bridge or London Bridge and crossed back over Southwark, Blackfriars or Waterloo bridges to bring the celebration to all Londoners and underline that these Olympics and Paralympics are about that new regenerated London which was the essence of the successful bid in Singapore in 2005.

I am disappointed that the Mayor of London has not shown imagination and leadership on this issue.  It would have been a wonderful and fitting opportunity for our Olympic heroes to be honoured by Londoners on both banks of the Thames.

It's not too late for the "powers that be" to change the route.  They should do so and demonstrate that they are in-touch with modern London.

But whether the route is changed or not, September 10th will be an amazing celebration of the dedication and achievement of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  South London will salute them - even if we've got to cross the river to do so!

No comments: