By Duncan Mackay 

Olympic Park_with_flowers_September_2011November 18 - A blackhole of £231 miillion ($365 million/€270 million) has appeared in London's budget as a result of Olympic land debt, members of the London Assembly claim.

The debt was taken on by the London Development Agency (LDA) to pay for the acquisition and remediation of the Olympic Park – part of which had been used as a dumping ground and exposed to toxic waste.

The debt will transfer over from the LDA to the London Assembly on April 1 next year and will actually total £349 million ($551 million/€408 million) overall.

But Government funding is expected to reduce it to £231 million ($365 million/€270 million). 

The debt figure - details of which first begun to emerge last year - comes despite earlier assurances from the Mayor Boris Johnson that the Government would cover the whole debt as part of the agreement made when the LDA transferred ownership of the Olympic land to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) last year.

The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee is warning that there is no commitment from the Government to help pay the costs.

Sir Edward Lister, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, will be questioned by the Committee at City Hall next Wednesday (November 23) about what this debt means for the London Assembly and the money it has to spend.

There are concerns it could mean that the Olympics element of the controversial Council tax precept - due to finish by 2017 - could be extended to cover the cost.

"We have repeatedly highlighted the ongoing financial risks from the uncertainty around the Olympic land liabilities and our worst fears appear now to have been realised," said John Biggs, chair of the Committee. 

"It looks as though the GLA now has to deal with an enormous long term debt arising from the Games land, at a time when its overall pot of money is reducing.

"What will this debt will mean for London?

"Will funding need to be cut from other regeneration projects, and will Londoners be paying for the Olympics for even longer than originally thought? 

"We intend to find out."

Johnson's office claims it is in discussion with Ministers about an overall financial settlement.

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