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Politics no image

Published on July 21st, 2012 | by Kirsty McKellar
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] Gonzolito[/caption]   With less than a week to the start of the Olympics, the Games have been dogged with controversy and the government are now faced with strike action and a review into security services. London 2012 chairman, Sebastian Coe, and chief executive, Paul Deighton, will be required to explain the G4S security crisis to the International Olympic Committee’s executive board this weekend. Although it is most likely that the controversy will be played down and appear as if any crisis has been averted, the prospect of calling up more guards remains a possibility. Around 3500 troops have already been called in to help secure the Games. This week Nick Buckles, G4S chief executive, admitted the security problem had turned into a ‘humiliating shambles’ and an embarrassment for his firm. He was given a two-hour grilling by MPs and by the end it was clear that G4S had made a complete mess, however they are still going to issue a £57 million ‘management fee’. Despite Buckles maintaining that his company will pay the extra costs for replacing private security guards (although he didn’t sound too sure), the fact remains that a further 500 troops could be called up if the 3500 put on standby last week don’t prove enough. Ed Miliband stated that G4S have serious questions to answer, this resonates across the public and there have been many petitions from troops’ families for a bonus. He has called for G4S to be blocked from getting government security contracts in the future, and spoken out about the need for a review. Although Nick Buckles has taken 100% of responsibility for the shambles, it has now emerged that Home Secretary Theresa May knew about a ‘possible temporary shortfall’ in G4S guards as early as June 27th, which is two weeks earlier than she initially claimed. The firm only declared that they were no longer confident of reaching their workforce targets on July 11th, but the letter from Theresa May to Labour MP Keith Vaz shows that the government were aware of the problem beforehand. May admitted that permission to put a ‘small part of the MCF on twenty-four hours notice’ was requested around June 28th and the contingency force was mobilised ‘several days later’. Miliband has also accused the government of opening the door to private companies carrying out core police roles. However this is something that has been happening for many years, especially when it comes to international affairs. When asked if the combination of transport problems and security issues had made it a ‘bad start’, Jeremy Hunt (Cabinet minister responsible for the Olympics) answered no. He stated that he believed the ‘Games Lanes’ have worked well and described the whole thing as a ‘smooth process’. This is not an opinion shared by many Londoners as the Games Lanes for Olympic-only traffic have been very unpopular. These lanes will be open only to Olympics officials, athletes and approved vehicles i.e. the ‘Olympics family’. Motorists who enter these lanes will be slapped with a £130 fine. This has led to taxi drivers engaging in a protest this week, showing MPs just what London is like when it is gridlocked. To make matters worse, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has now announced that members will strike for twenty-four hours next Thursday, which is expected to be the busiest day in Heathrow airport’s history. The action is due to disputes over plans to cut 8500 jobs, compulsory redundancies, privatisation and disagreements over pay rises. PCS members will also engage in further action from July 27th to August 20th. Theresa May has branded this action as ‘shameful’, and Ed Miliband said that ‘people should not be disrupting the Olympic Games’. This action includes staff across the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and the Criminal Records Bureau. Clearly the Union is using the Olympics for their cause, but it highlights the problems that come with government cuts and knee-jerk decisions. Obviously these strikes could prove disastrous, Immigration minister Mr. Green assures MPs that disruption will be minimised as extra staff have been trained to provide cover. Despite the government’s crisis avoidance mechanisms, the situation is clearly far from ideal and it seems that little of the Olympics preparations are going according to plan. In the words of Committee Chairman Keith Vaz, the impression created so far has been ‘unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish’.

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Olympic ‘Shambles’

Gonzolito

 

With less than a week to the start of the Olympics, the Games have been dogged with controversy and the government are now faced with strike action and a review into security services. London 2012 chairman, Sebastian Coe, and chief executive, Paul Deighton, will be required to explain the G4S security crisis to the International Olympic Committee’s executive board this weekend. Although it is most likely that the controversy will be played down and appear as if any crisis has been averted, the prospect of calling up more guards remains a possibility. Around 3500 troops have already been called in to help secure the Games. This week Nick Buckles, G4S chief executive, admitted the security problem had turned into a ‘humiliating shambles’ and an embarrassment for his firm. He was given a two-hour grilling by MPs and by the end it was clear that G4S had made a complete mess, however they are still going to issue a £57 million ‘management fee’. Despite Buckles maintaining that his company will pay the extra costs for replacing private security guards (although he didn’t sound too sure), the fact remains that a further 500 troops could be called up if the 3500 put on standby last week don’t prove enough.

Ed Miliband stated that G4S have serious questions to answer, this resonates across the public and there have been many petitions from troops’ families for a bonus. He has called for G4S to be blocked from getting government security contracts in the future, and spoken out about the need for a review. Although Nick Buckles has taken 100% of responsibility for the shambles, it has now emerged that Home Secretary Theresa May knew about a ‘possible temporary shortfall’ in G4S guards as early as June 27th, which is two weeks earlier than she initially claimed. The firm only declared that they were no longer confident of reaching their workforce targets on July 11th, but the letter from Theresa May to Labour MP Keith Vaz shows that the government were aware of the problem beforehand. May admitted that permission to put a ‘small part of the MCF on twenty-four hours notice’ was requested around June 28th and the contingency force was mobilised ‘several days later’. Miliband has also accused the government of opening the door to private companies carrying out core police roles. However this is something that has been happening for many years, especially when it comes to international affairs.

When asked if the combination of transport problems and security issues had made it a ‘bad start’, Jeremy Hunt (Cabinet minister responsible for the Olympics) answered no. He stated that he believed the ‘Games Lanes’ have worked well and described the whole thing as a ‘smooth process’. This is not an opinion shared by many Londoners as the Games Lanes for Olympic-only traffic have been very unpopular. These lanes will be open only to Olympics officials, athletes and approved vehicles i.e. the ‘Olympics family’. Motorists who enter these lanes will be slapped with a £130 fine. This has led to taxi drivers engaging in a protest this week, showing MPs just what London is like when it is gridlocked.

To make matters worse, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union has now announced that members will strike for twenty-four hours next Thursday, which is expected to be the busiest day in Heathrow airport’s history. The action is due to disputes over plans to cut 8500 jobs, compulsory redundancies, privatisation and disagreements over pay rises. PCS members will also engage in further action from July 27th to August 20th. Theresa May has branded this action as ‘shameful’, and Ed Miliband said that ‘people should not be disrupting the Olympic Games’. This action includes staff across the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency, Identity and Passport Service and the Criminal Records Bureau. Clearly the Union is using the Olympics for their cause, but it highlights the problems that come with government cuts and knee-jerk decisions. Obviously these strikes could prove disastrous, Immigration minister Mr. Green assures MPs that disruption will be minimised as extra staff have been trained to provide cover. Despite the government’s crisis avoidance mechanisms, the situation is clearly far from ideal and it seems that little of the Olympics preparations are going according to plan. In the words of Committee Chairman Keith Vaz, the impression created so far has been ‘unacceptable, incompetent and amateurish’.

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About the Author

Kirsty McKellar

Kirsty has recently graduated from the University of Liverpool, obtaining a degree in Politics and Criminology (BA Hons). She is mostly interested in British politics, particularly the policies of the current coalition government. After completing her dissertation on the reasons for youth voter apathy with a First classification, she has developed a keen interest in young people’s relationship with and participation in politics. Kirsty has also undertaken some valuable work experience with her local MP, Esther McVey. She enjoyed the experience of working in local politics with Members of Parliament and Wirral Borough Council, helping to organise a charity event for the Big Lottery Fund. Kirsty intends to move to London this year to pursue a career in politics and social research, as it is something that she has always been passionate about.



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