Queen crosses Olympic finish line as local jobs soar

Her Majesty surveys the site. Photo: Reuters

Her Majesty surveys the site Photo: Reuters

Usain Bolt was nowhere to be seen as the Queen crossed the finish line at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on Tuesday.

But rather than beating the world record holder in a 100 metre dash, Her Majesty was inspecting the track which should be graced by his golden boots in 1,000 days time.

The Queen was marking the start of the countdown to the 2012 opening ceremony by visiting the construction site to see the progress being made. She also planted the first of 4,000 trees, which will eventually form Europe’s largest urban park.

On her first visit to the construction site since 2005, The Queen met Lord Coe, the double Olympic champion and head of London’s organising committee, who showed her around the 80,000-seater stadium and guided her to the top of the stands to view the whole area.

The Queen’s visit came as figures showed that the number of Olympic construction workers living in one of the five host boroughs has passed the 1,000 mark for the first time.

Of the 409 new jobs  available at the site since July, 143 (35 per cent) went to those residing in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest or Greenwich.

A total of 1,009 host borough residents now work at the Stratford site, representing 21 per cent of the 4,842-strong workforce.

The increase in local employees over the past four months means the 15 per cent target set out at the start of the project is being easily exceeded.

The Olympic Delivery Authority also disclosed for the first time that almost 2,500 people are working at the Olympic Village, with more than 7,200 in total working on all London 2012 facilities.

The authority’s chairman, John Armitt said he was pleased with the results. “We’re on track with employment, training and business opportunities.”

“Our steady progress regenerating this part of east London is testament to the workforce on the site.”

Those employees benefitted from a generous jobs ‘brokerage’ service, which gives east Londoners 48 hours to apply for vacancies before they are advertised more widely.

More than 600 jobs have been filled in the past 18 months through the brokerage.

Since ODA’s July report the amount of people who joined the workforce after being unemployed jumped from ten to 12 per cent while an extra 30 trainees were taken on.

The figures also show a 6 per cent rise in the number of people receiving the London Living Wage for their work at the Stratford site, meaning 95 per cent now collect the £7.60 hourly rate.

At the end of Her Majesty’s visit she was introduced to a group of the workers.

Speaking at the event, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said: “This is yet another significant milestone on the road to the London 2012 Games.”

He added: “The tree planted by Her Majesty today will be part of a fantastic green space that London and the UK will treasure for generations to come.”

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