Johnson calls on London to maintain Olympic spirit

MAYOR Boris Johnson yesterday called on London to “harness the energy” of the Olympics and lobby for the infrastructure investment that will secure its status as a world city in the decades to come.

“If we can take a cue from the Team GB athletes who have prepared and planned and worked so blindingly hard for this moment, then I think we can ensure the continued momentum of London 2012,” Johnson said yesterday.

However he criticised the government’s decision to scrap the two-hour-a-week target for sport in school, saying it would be a “wonderful” Olympic legacy if pupils were instead forced to exercise for two hours a day.

Batting aside suggestions that he would be interested in the Prime Minister’s job, Johnson said his aim is to “lengthen London’s lead as financial, cultural and artistic capital of the world...The Olympics has given us the momentum to achieve that.”

“It’s been an amazing display of what we can do if we plan and work for years and years on a project. It’s a great advertisement from British engineering and enterprise,” he added.

“We should go further and get going immediately on a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames estuary, which would be a project of the scale of the Olympics. It would give us something to aim for and be a great statement of our confidence in ourselves.”

But Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South & Finsbury Park, told City A.M. that Johnson’s post-Olympic priority should be housing, not airport capacity: “If we can prove that we can do big infrastructure projects, let’s look at affordable housing and work together to provide places to live in London. That would be a real legacy. Boris Island is a non-starter.”

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the mayor’s statement of intent: “Businesses are crying out for the type of big infrastructure projects the Mayor is talking about – not only more airport capacity but projects like Crossrail 2 and another river crossing in the east of the city.

“With the success of the Olympics the time for talking is over and the Mayor needs to get on and start delivering these projects.”