Westcountry conference aims to safeguard Olympic legacy
The long-lasting legacy of the London 2012 Olympics for the South West will be discussed at a major conference later today.
There was widespread cynicism about what benefits the Olympics could bring to the region with the sporting focus on the capital.
However, Team South West said local businesses supported the construction of Olympic venues and provided goods and services valued at more than £50 million.
The Olympic torch relay, which started at Land's End, is also thought to have injected an additional £20 million into the Devon and Cornwall economy.
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But David Fursdon, chairman of the South West England Board for the 2012 Games, said the "challenge" was not only to secure an economic legacy but also in sport, education, culture and communities.
He said: "The South West performed so well through the Olympics from the very beginning of the torch relay with crowds lining the streets and people flocking to the evening events to Weymouth and Portland running a very good games which was very efficient and well organised.
"Let's not lose that enthusiasm because all the structures will disappear including the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and our own team.
"I thought before that goes let's do our bit to highlight and signpost where people can go if they have been inspired and excited by what they have seen and been involved with."
Today's conference, which is being held at Somerset College of Arts and Technology in Taunton, is thought to be the only one of its kind in the regions.
The keynote speaker at the conference will be the Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson. Other speakers include Lady Cobham, chairman of Visit England, Simon Jutton, a senior manager at the Arts Council and Andrew Hanson from Sport England South West.
Mr Fursdon acknowledged that the question would "always be how much money will be available and where it is coming from".
But he said: "In chairing the conference I will be challenging the people who are responsible for taking the legacy forward to make sure they do take the opportunity because you could get a better launch pad than the one we have."
Mr Fursdon stressed that sporting, cultural, education and other activities, born as a result of the 2012 Games, would continue and that the South West had gained a reputation as a place to do business, to visit, to train, and to successfully host large scale, high profile events.
He added: "Our message is that it's far from all over. The six years of dedication that went into planning projects and programmes have ensured that they will carry on well into the future."
A new report outlining the region's successful activities has been published today which gives links to the organisations that will be taking projects and programmes forward. The document has been produced by Team South West and is available at www.teamsouthwest.co.uk