By Claire West
Before entering Parliament, out of touch, Conservative MP, Hugh Robertson was an officer in The Life Guards who went on to work for Schroder Investment Management.
Yesterday he told the BBC that London businesses have had "ample time to plan" for the impact of the Olympics after claims that the West End has been turned into a ‘ghost town’ by the Olympics.
What qualifies the Olympics Minister to criticise entrepreneurs who had been warned to expect massive crowds?
The reality is that a lot of businesses are suffering and exactly what they were supposed to do to in order to exploit London 2012 is far from clear.
Back in March a colleague attended a Business Innovation and Skills workshop where the opportunity that the Olympics would bring to small-to-medium size businesses was discussed.
However no one from BIS seemed aware of the stringent rules that LOCOG were imposing about non-sponsors using any sort of terminology that made an "unlawful association” with the games.
The legislation around this stretches to posters in windows and even blackboards outside pubs and heaven forbid that anyone tried to use the words; ‘Games’, ‘Two Thousand and Twelve’, ‘2012’, ‘Twenty-Twelve’, ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Bronze’, ‘London’, ‘Summer’ or ‘Medals’.
Then in July we heard that London was about to welcome over 300 ‘brand police’ who would crack down on any infringements.
Over the last few days we have heard Cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew use Twitter to let the world know he had "Fallen foul of branding regs - brolly confiscated because it has a golf name on it." Furniture designer Martin Barnett has had signs torn down by London 2012 organisers and bookmaker Paddy Power had to resort to a court order against the organisers to force them to make a U-turn banning their clever and amusing billboards.
So Mr Robertson — what would you suggest that businesses should have done to ‘market on the back of the Olympics’?
There is no doubt that the Olympics will do wonders for UK PLC in the long term and that London will see an uplift in tourism after the games but many small businesses live from one week to the next and unhelpful comments from Mr Robertson and his colleague Jeremy Hunt who told one cabbie to; “Talk to him next year” are just that - ‘unhelpful’.
At least the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, seems to be sympathetic and when informed that signs were being ripped down told LBC Radio: “That’s outrageous.....I will immediately get on to it”.