By The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — The security firm G4S will no longer be providing protection at the Olympic stadium in Newcastle, city officials said Monday, citing concerns over the troubled company’s shortfall in recruiting guards.
Thousands of British soldiers have been drafted in to fill a gap in guards after G4S acknowledged it would not be able to provide the promised numbers of security personnel.
Steven Savage, director of London 2012 operations for the Newcastle City Council, said Monday the council had decided to replace G4S. Local firms will instead provide up to 500 security personnel outside St James’ Park stadium on Olympic soccer match days at the northeastern city, he said.
“We think all in all this is an excellent solution to the issue,” said Savage. “It’s a locally managed stadium with money going into the local economy for local people.”
G4S confirmed it would no longer be providing staff at the venue, which will host nine soccer games over six days.
The announcement came shortly after Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the British government’s crisis committee to discuss final preparations for an Olympic games beset by late security troubles and the threat of transit-related strikes.
The meeting of the emergency committee, known as COBRA, was attended by government ministers, Olympic organizers and security officials.
Home Secretary Theresa May told the meeting that plans to ensure a safe and secure Olympics were “robust,” despite the failure of the G4S’s failure to provide the promised numbers of guards.
May also said reserve staff were on standby to fill in if border guards at London’s Heathrow and other airports hold a planned one-day strike on Thursday, the day before the games begin with a gala opening ceremony.
The London Olympics run from July 27-Aug. 12.