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Keep a close eye on Ken's Olympic powers, warns peer

Fears have been raised in the House of Lords about the sweeping powers being granted to London mayor Ken Livingstone in the run up to the capital's 2012 Olympic Games.

Conservative peer Lord Glentoran has hit out at the 'unprecedented', 'extensive' and 'potentially dangerous' powers available to Livingstone, including those allowing the compulsory purchase of land across London.

Speaking during the second reading of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Bill, Glentoran said: 'In order to deliver a project of this size and scale, we accept that the mayor will have to have extraordinary powers, but under this Bill he could, for example, compulsorily buy the Centre Court at Wimbledon.'

He added: 'Parliament must maintain accessibility to this process. The mayor has been known to push at the boundaries of his power and it is essential that in no circumstances should he be allowed to use the Olympics to exercise powers that are not explicitly and directly related to the Olympic Games in 2012.'

Glentoran, who is the president of the British Bobsleigh Association, also expressed concern over the issue of funding and who would pick up the tab should the Games come in over budget.

He said: 'There is a real possibility given the history of other games, that [the London Olympics] will cost more than has been budgeted for.

'This is a national event, Why, in the event of a deficit, should Londoners be expected to pay?'

Meanwhile rumours have emerged today that Zaha Hadid's Aquatic Centre - which has already been sent back to the drawing board because of potential cost overruns ( Zaha forced back to drawing board as Olympic pool costs spiral) - may not be finished on schedule.

It has been reported that the completion date for the project has been moved back from 2008 to 2010 to allow Hadid and her fellow architects S&P Architects to 'refine the detailed design' of the pool scheme.

by Richard Waite

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