News24

10 500 army personnel for Olympic games

2012-05-17 17:16

London - Britain's armed forces minister says approximately 10 500 army personnel will be deployed to help protect the London Olympics.

Responding to a written parliamentary question about how many army members will be on duty, Nick Harvey said on Wednesday that under current plans, about 1 700 army reservists and 8 800 regular army personnel will be deployed during the games, which run from 27 July to August 12.

Britain previously had said that up to 13 500 troops would be deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation, and the Ministry of Defence is considering deploying surface-to-air missile systems during the games.

No to pedicabs

Meanwhile AFP reported a bid was launched in the British parliament on Thursday to get cycle rickshaws banned from the streets of London during the Olympics.

Opposition Labour Party backbencher John McDonnell tabled a motion in the lower House of Commons urging the ban because their drivers undergo no formal checks.

The rickshaws are a common sight in the West End entertainment district, which is crammed with theatres, cinemas, bars and nightclubs.

"This house notes with concern the danger posed by pedicabs to the general public and visitors to London during the Olympic and Paralympic Games," the west London MP's motion read.

It cited the lack of police checks on drivers, the lack of fare structure "exposing the public and visitors to extortionate charges" and the fact they have not been crash-tested.

"Banning the operation of pedicabs during the Olympics is necessary to reduce congestion and in particular its impact on the emergency services," it read.

The Olympics get under way on 27 July. The Olympic Park is in Stratford in east London but events are taking place across the city.

Delays and bottlenecks are widely anticipated on London's transport system as ticket-holders get to and from the venues.

Early day motions, a kind of petition, are rarely debated in the house and have no force or effect. However, they are an opportunity for MPs to raise issues and build support in the Commons for their cause.