Heathrow 'not prepared' for Olympics, warn MPs


Heathrow 'not prepared' for Olympics, warn MPsPA

Passengers coming to Britain for the Olympics could face lengthy queues this summer because the UK Border Agency has "insufficient funding" to open all the passport control stations, a leaked letter has revealed.

Culture Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale wrote a letter to Culture, Media and Sport secretary Jeremy Hunt outlining his concerns, reports the Metro.

Mr Whittingdale said that two members from his committee had attended a briefing by Heathrow operator BAA, and said the MPs "did not leave the briefing confident that Heathrow was ready to cope with the arrival of a huge number of competitors, Olympic family and visiting tourists in timely fashion".

According to the BBC, the letter went on: "We understand that significant preparations have been made to accommodate unusual sporting equipment, special lanes for the Olympic family, welcoming arrangements for competitors and additional Olympic ambassadors.

"However, far less thought seems to have been given to the issue of how to deal with long queues at immigration.

"The UKBA (UK Border Agency) representative suggested that there was insufficient funding to ensure all passport stations would be open."

He continued that this could have an impact on tourism, adding: "While visiting tourists will understand that the Olympics is a busy time, if the wait (at immigration) is in excess of an hour it may deter tourists from returning.

"The second impact may be that planes cannot unload their passengers into the terminal due to capacity being exceeded. This would lead to circling in the air, planes being left on runways or planes blocking gates."

Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell echoed his sentiments, saying: "Tourism could be adversely affected for years to come if people have to wait for an unacceptably long time to get through border control.

"Failure to act will put at risk all the economic benefits that the Olympics has the potential to bring."

In response, Border Force has said they are working with BAA to ensure they are ready to deal with extra passengers, adding: "There isn't a trade-off between strong border security and a good passenger experience - Border Force should be delivering both."

Guess which venues these London Olympics 2012 events will be held at:

London Olympics 2012: Guess the venue

London Olympics 2012: Guess the venue

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