Warner hits the ground running

BBC London’s new Olympic correspondent signals his arrival at his new Marylebone Road studio with exclusive about security concerns at key venue for 2012 London Games

Adrian Warner, winner of the SJA’s Sports News Reporter of the Year award for his front- and back-page Olympic exclusives when working at the Evening Standard, has hit the ground running since moving to BBC London earlier this month.

Today, Warner has reported that the proposed 2012 Olympics slalom canoeing venue at Broxbourne, Herts, has severely restricted access which police and ambulance authorities believe to present a serious security threat and would not be able to cope with a terrorist attack or a major emergency.

According to Warner’s report, these complaints have yet to be addressed by the Olympic Development Agency which has still not sent its security plans to both Hertfordshire police and local authorities.

The venue, on the edge of the Lea Valley Country Park, is to become a centre for elite training and competition for the spectacular white-water canoeing discipline after the Games – only the second of its type in England.

But security experts and police believe that the way the Broxbourne complex will be built is currently “unsafe” because it breaks several key rules on crowd management:

â–  There is only one major access road into the centre which will have to handle both the 12,000 people walking to the venue and emergency vehicles. This breaks routine safety rules because emergency services usually demand different routes to get their vehicles in and out of a site.

â–  The main access road is likely to have to be blocked off from traffic to allow people to walk to the venue. In an emergency, ambulances and fire engines would therefore have to weave their way through thousands of people just to get into the site.

â–  Because there are no car parks planned, the venue is too dependent on all of the spectators coming through a small railway station nearby. It is widely believed that transport links will be a target for terrorists.

Local police are understood to want another road built to make the venue safe and for a pedestrian bridge be constructed from the station to allow spectators better access to the venue.

The ODA’s Director of Transport, Hugh Sumner, today claimed that there would be more than one emergency route out of the venue. He said: “Safety is and always will be the ODA’s No1 priority. We are committed to ensuring that all venues are designed and built to all appropriate safety standards. There will in fact be multiple routes in and out of the Broxbourne venue, including designated routes for emergency vehicles in the event of an incident.”

The Broxbourne case is sure to spark security concerns about all of the other “satellite venues” with the IOC’s 2012 coordination commission due to visit the capital next month to monitor London’s preparations for the Games.

Security has been a massive worry for the IOC since the 1972 Munich Olympics when 11 Israeli athletes and officials were killed following an attack on the Olympic village by the Palestinian militant group Black September.

London won the bid to stage the 2012 Olympics just one day before the July 7 terror attacks on the capital in 2005. While LOCOG has a security budget of £600 million, and security is expected to be tight at the main Olympic Park at Stratford, the Games will also be held in 20 other venues.

There have already been fears that transport facilities in Weymouth are going to struggle to deal with the large number of people travelling to the sailing events, while beach volleyball at Horseguards and eq1uestrian events at Greenwich Park are also expected to stretch resources due to these venues not usually staging sporting events.

Now BBC London’s Olympic Correspondent, Adrian Warner’s contact details have altered. He can now be reached by e-mail at, or by phone on 020 7208 9240 (W) or 0773 4402032 (M)

Read Warner’s full report on the Broxbourne security fears by clicking here