Newham mayor delivers memorial lecture

This year's Stephen Lissenburgh Memorial Lecture was delivered in engaging and witty style by Sir Robin Wales (right), the first elected mayor of the London borough of Newham. Sir Robin's topic was '2012: A Legacy for the East End'. The London Borough of Newham is the location for the 500-acre Olympic Park that will be home to the major sports facilities for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

You can listen to the lecture and the Q&A session here and read our Twitter feed from the lecture. You can also view Sir Robin's powerpoint slides here.


London's bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012 promised a lasting legacy for the East End. The Games themselves will be hosted in east London, one of the most concentrated areas of deprivation in the country. The local community has long suffered from high levels of poverty and worklessness.

The Games represent a chance for us to change this. There are three key parts of the Olympic legacy; the sporting legacy, the physical legacy and the social legacy.

Sir Robin Wales answering
audience questions

In terms of the sporting legacy, the Games have the capacity to inspire local people to get more active and involved in sports.

The Games will leave a valuable physical legacy consisting of new sporting facilities, the Olympic Park and new housing and community facilities. There will be also be improved transport links. The Games represent a unique sales platform to promote what the area has to offer to the world.

However, there is no guarantee that these changes will make a difference to residents' lives. More important than the sporting legacy and the physical legacy, it's the social legacy that counts. We need to work with the community to ensure they are in a position to benefit from the changes that the Olympics will bring. Primarily this means helping local people access the employment opportunities that the Games will bring to the area.

Far more than just a brief sporting event, the Olympics offer us the chance to change our community for the better and for good. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we need to ensure we deliver on our promises of a legacy for the East End.

About Sir Robin Wales

Sir Robin moved to Newham in 1978 from his hometown of Kilmarnock in Scotland. He served as a councillor from 1982 to 1986 and from 1992 until becoming Leader of Newham Council in 1995. He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2000 in recognition of his service to local government. In 2002, he became the borough's first ever directly elected Mayor and was subsequently re-elected in 2006. Sir Robin also led the Association of London Government (ALG) between 2000 and 2006. The ALG is an organisation which represents London as a whole, nationally and abroad.

In 2006, Sir Robin was appointed by the Secretary of State to sit on the board of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

For further information, see Sir Robin's website.

About Stephen Lissenburgh

This annual memorial lecture was created in honour of PSI researcher Dr Stephen Lissenburgh, who tragically died in Sri Lanka as a result of the tsunami in 2004.

Read an obituary by Michael White, published in The Independent, 20 January 2005 (in pdf format).