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Major preparations for Olympics revealed
FROM nuclear war to counterfeit goods – Oxfordshire’s public servants have been preparing for all scenarios ahead of the Olympics.
As the Games draw near, a report has laid bare the massive preparations made by council, fire and police chiefs so next month’s London games run smoothly.
Thames Valley Police’s Kidlington HQ will be at the forefront of any major incident in the region, such as a protest or terrorist outrage.
At the centre of preparations is the arrival of the Olympic torch in the county on July 9 and 10, including a 20,000-strong concert in South Park on the first night.
Specialist Oxfordshire County Council fire officers will accompany the torch from Luton to Reading over the two days, though the authority refused to say how many.
Specialist officers who can identify hazardous materials will also be on standby while security cleared officers will be on hand to co-ordinate emergency responses.
Eleven officers from Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire’s fire and rescue service have also received training to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or bomb attacks.
Again, when asked the county refused to provide more detail on what this involved.
Protests like the one which marred the arrival of the torch in London for the 2008 Bejing games sit alongside another concern – counterfeit goods.
A county council report says: “The torch relay and associated events may attract street vending and potentially the sale of counterfeit goods.
“There is a potential reputational risk for the authority if this is not addressed in a way that is effective in preventing the sale of illegal goods but also does not distract from the occasion.”
And he said a shortage of hotels and B&Bs “may present opportunities for miss-selling and scams”.
Acting head of Oxfordshire County Council trading standards and community safety Richard Webb, said: “Because accommodation near Olympic venues, particularly in London, is in such high demand, we are working with our colleagues there to ensure hotels and guest houses do not seek to secure bookings by making claims.
“For example being closer to the venues than they really are.”
The report said the work had led to a “significant workload” but had been met from existing budgets by re-prioritising workloads.
When asked the authority said it was unable to provide a specific figure for how much was being spent planning for the Olympics.
Deputy chief fire officer Colin Thomas said: “Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service has been fully involved in the preparations for both the Olympic torch relay and the Games and Paralympic Games.”
“The benefit of the exercises extends wider than just the Olympics and the Olympic period.”