Olympics 2012: St Albans needs to ‘up its game’ to take advantage of Games

St Albans MP says “we need to up our game” before London 2012

LONDON 2012 will provide a “springboard for our beautiful city” according to St Albans MP Anne Main.

But she warned guests at the recent Countdown to the Olympics evening in St Albans that, “we need to up our game because London is going to try and grab every tourist.”

She added: “And how much better is it to experience our Ryder county, our heritage trails, Butterfly World, all that keeps tourists busy during the weekend?”

Anne called on hoteliers and tourism chiefs at the Hertfordshire Hoteliers Association meeting at Sopwell House to, “give me hints on what to do to push on your behalf.”

Tim Hutchings, chief executive of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was hoped that the Olympics would bring Herts to the attention of people from around the globe, as well as local residents.

He said: “We have got great cities like St Albans and it’s such a wonderful place to be. But when I travel around the country, people ask, where is Hertfordshire? Do we make enough noise about it? Absolutely not.”

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Tim pointed out that locally, the Herts County Showground in Redbourn would be used as a park-and-ride facility for the Games.

Also at the evening was Gareth Morgan, Herts 2012 manager, which is trying to get more youngsters interested in sports through its Get Set programme. Eighty-five percent of schools in the county have already registered with the scheme – the highest number in the country.

Hertfordshire is Ready for Winners is the county’s official partnership, established in 2006, to support the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The partnership runs monthly tours to the Olympic Park and has a website with full details of sports clubs, how to get involved supporting overseas athletes and family members by hosting their stay, business opportunities and community engagement.

Herts has 17 pre-Games training camps, including equestrian facilities at Oaklands College in St Albans.

* St Albans district council was last week asked what it was doing to ensure the city fully exploits opportunities afforded by next year’s Olympic Games.

Projects and activities include:

• Adizone, an outside gym which brings a little piece of London 2012 to Verulamium Park, and inspire residents to be more active. A fun day was held on Saturday to celebrate there being just one year to go until the Games.

• There is the possibility of a big screen being put in St Peter’s Street, St Albans, for London 2012.

• The council’s head of community services will talk to Herts School Games organisers about using council facilities, including Verulamium Park, and possibly the lake, for Olympic-style sporting games.