Olympic security

July 17, 2012

I thought Theresa May gave a good account of herself at the Despatch Box yesterday, as she described her actions over Olympic security. She completely squashed the criticism that Ministers knew there would be a shortfall in security staff last year. She pointed out Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary reported to her last year and again in February that LOCOG had plans in place to deliver the required number of security personnel.
She also scotched the myth that James Brokenshire, Minister for crime and security, had attended meetings in which he was told there was a security staff shortage. In fact, she said “G4S repeatedly assured us that it would overshoot its targets.” G4S told the Government that it would be unable to meet its contractual obligations only last Wednesday, and she took immediate action.
Thirdly, it was reported that she must have known about the shortfall because the military was put on standby in April. This was also not the case. In fact, 7,500 troops have been part of the security plans since December, a further 1,000 were on standby in the event of flooding or other such civil emergencies, and she placed a further 2,000 on standby as a precaution in case the threat level increased. The 3,500 troops whose deployment she announced last Thursday were a direct response to the failure of G4S to meet its contractual obligations. A further contingency will remain.
She explained the Government have strengthened the oversight of the security planning operation since she came into office.
G4S has failed to deliver its contractual obligations, but Theresa declared “we have the finest military personnel in the world—troops who are willing, ready and able to step in when their country calls—and we can be sure of their professionalism in helping to deliver a secure and safe Olympic games.”
I think we will have an excellent Games.

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Buntingford Senior Students come to Westminster

July 12, 2012

Senior students of the University of the Third Age Buntingford and District Branch on the Terrace

Senior students of the University of the Third Age Buntingford and District Branch

It has been very busy here at Westminster with the House of Lords’ debate (in which I spoke) and the speech by David Cameron to Conservative MPs. I even had a drink this week at Number 10 with the Prime Minister. One of the most joyful events was the visit by fifty senior students of the University of the Third Age Buntingford and District Branch led by Jean Cook, U3A Chairman David Austin and Co-ordinator Jean Devenish. The Senior Students took over the entire Terrace Pavilion for their afternoon tea and it was good to see them all having a fantastic time. I was happy to have been able to book the Terrace and we even had good weather with people able to stand out by the River, as they enjoyed a cuppa. This was very different to when Christine and I went to the Royal Pageant. Although the colours of the boats were stunning, it really did rain that day! Labour’s Gerald Kaufman MP came over to say hello to the group – we don’t agree politically, but are on good terms otherwise. One Lord left the tea he was having with a business group and joined the Buntingford party, saying “this is much more fun”. And they say the younger students have all the good times!