Armitt entrusted with key planning role by UK Labour party
Monday, 01 October 2012
October 1 - Another top London 2012 executive is set to play a leading role in mapping the United Kingdom's future.
Sir John Armitt (pictured top), chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), has accepted an invitation from Britain's opposition Labour party to draw up plans for an independent commission to assess the country's long-term infrastructure needs.
The move – revealed today in a speech in Manchester by Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer – comes less than a month after Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, was appointed as a Minister in the Treasury, the very Government department it is Balls' job to scrutinise.
In his ODA role, Sir John ensured that the building programme for the London 2012 Olympic Park was completed on time and at optimum cost.
His new appointment will be widely interpreted as a further endorsement of the high calibre performance level the Olympic team achieved in delivering a hugely successful event and bolstering the international image of British industry.
Making the announcement in his address to the Labour party's annual conference, Balls said he and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, had asked Sir John to consider how long-term infrastructure decision-making, planning, delivery and finance could be radically improved.
Sir John, he went on, had agreed to lead this work and to draw up plans for "a commission or process, independent of Government, that can assess and make proposals on the long term infrastructure needs of our country over the coming decades and help build that consensus".
Infrastructure was one of a number of important long-term challenges faced by Britain that required short-term politics to be put aside in favour of consensus-seeking, Balls argued, acknowledging that successive Governments had ducked or delayed vital decisions.
The lesson of the Olympics, he said, was that "if we approach major long-term infrastructure projects by building a cross party sense of national purpose then we can deliver".
Sir John, 66, has spent the bulk of his career in the construction and transport industries, including spells with John Laing, Union Railways and Network Rail.
September 2012: London 2012 chief executive given Government role by British Prime Minister