London 2012 officials have announced that the final cost of the Olympic Stadium could exceed one trillion (a 1 with many noughts after it) pounds, approximately 3,571.43 times the original estimated cost. Officials say the increase is primarily due to rising food and fuel costs, and "other bits and bobs that all add up".
Sports minister Stella Powell said "it is perfectly normal for projected costs to rise as the work progresses. If we said how much it was actually going to cost in the beginning, the public would have been horrified. The NHS has seen more investment over the last two years than at any time under the Conservatives - not that that's got anything to do with the stadium".
Opinion polls conducted in east London have shown that residents are concerned about the latest estimates. Sean Slater, of Walford, said "that's a lot of money". Craig Nomark, 47, agreed. He said the money would have been better spent "reducing earthquakes and flooding and stuff. It's wrong that millions of people in the UK lost their homes last year when that big river burst its banks, yet a trillion pounds is being spent on a stadium that will only be used once".
Powell defends the astronomicalogical expense. "It's simply not true to say that the stadium has a limited lifetime. We are in negotiations with local organisations about the possibility of renting the stadium after 2012. A local scout group have offered £30 a week to use it as a scout hut, and Dagenham and Redbridge football club, who regularly play in front crowds of 350, would be interested in playing their home games there."
Stadium builders Dave Bling and sons, of Ilford, say that the increase in costs are mainly due to global increases in fuel and food prices. "The cost of a barrel of oil is higher than it's ever been" said Dave. "Crude oil is converted into petrol via distillation and alkylation, and so our van costs more to run. And tea bags have got well expensive lately. We get through about 400 tea bags each during a typical day - we have to pass that cost on to the London 2012 people".
Lord Cram of the Organising Committee says it's not just about the cost. "The eyes of the world will be on that stadium in 2012. It will have a sliding climate controlled roof, a fantastic quality track, and specially designed seating to ensure that no spectator is more than seven feet away from the action. And just wait until the shotput. That area of the field is made of flubber - we're going to see if we can get the shotputs to bounce into the crowd".
The next phase of the stadium construction begins on Thursday, or Friday if Dave Bling has to look after the kids while wife Donna gets her hair cut. It involves clearance of the Walford site ready for the footings to be dug. Local residents will be rehoused at BBC Elstree in an exact mock up of their current area, complete with pretend tube station (only the entrance, no trains or anything).
The next announcement about increased costs has been scheduled for 6th February 2009. "We will be using the excuse that subsidence caused by ancient treacle mines has required additional remedial work" said Powell from her £950,000 Chelsea home.