July 2004 Archives

The Times is reporting that the BBC Panorama programme has done an "undercover" investigation, posing as "East End London Businesses" to expose potential vote buying in the 2012 Olympics bid process.

Who knows if this particular allegation is true or not, but then nobody should be surprised if it is, given the track record and recent history of corruption in the International Olympic Committee.

The Telegraph reports:
Olympic bid envoy quits in protest
"By John Crowley
(Filed: 16/07/2004)

Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, the former of the Millennium Dome chief executive, resigned last night as an ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic Games bid.

The French businessman said his decision was in response to the "shocking" treatment of Barbara Cassani, the former American chief executive of the budget airline Go, who stepped down as the British Olympic committee's chairman in May.

Lord Coe took up the £150,000-a-year post after Miss Cassani quit, saying the bid stood a better chance if it was spearheaded by someone with a track record in the Olympic movement. She asked Mr Gerbeau to be her personal adviser and ambassador for the bid."

So who exactly is left running this half hearted Olympic bid ? There is still no Cabinet Minister devoted to the project, unlike in rival cities, so the committment of the Government is still seen to be lukewarm.

This is to be welcomed, if like us, you oppose the London 2012 Olympics bid, in the sense that hopefully the waste of vast amounts of our money and the immense disruption will not take place when some other city is landed with the burden.

If, as has been reported, the bid team now believes that the Bisley shooting range venue, just outside the M25 and even Alexandra Palace in north London, are "too far away" from the proposed Olympics complex, then the cost of duplicating these world famous facilities is going to have to be added to the budget, and even more attention is going to be focussed on the transport problems.

However, the more shambolic the bid team and process is, the worse it reflects on London's international reputation outside of the cosy world of international sport, something which could so easily have been avoided.

Meanwhile the planning blight imposed on the East End of London persists, still without the publication of the feasability study details which should be the baseline upon which to judge the true cost of the bid and of the Games if London is unlucky enough to be landed with them.

The BBC reports that "Livingstone invites cleric back"

What is the cost of the police surveillance, which is meant to check to see if Yusuf Al-Qaradawi utters anything illegal, and presumably, also to protect him from extremists and demonstrators ?

How much of our money is Ken livingstone providing to subsidise the various conferences at which Al-Qaradawi is speaking ?

Why did the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone "officially" welcome, at City Hall today, the controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who is seen to be supporting suicide bombers in and around Israel ?

It hardly matters at all what Al-Qaradawi is due to speak about regarding integration of Muslim youth into mainstream British society. The fact that he has been banned from the USA for anti-Israeli statements and that he seems to be providing some kind of religous or moral justification for suicide bomber terrorists.

N.B. the term "Anti-Semitic" is in danger of being hijacked by the politically correct media and by certain Zionist extremists, who apply the term to those who oppose the state of Israel, playing on public sympathy for the victims of the Nazi, Soviet and, in former times, Crusader persecution of the Jews, obscuring the fact that both Arabs and Jews are "Semitic" peoples.

What is the point of all the anti-terrorist measures which are costing us Londoners so much money and loss of freedoms, if the Mayor is seen to be be up to his old tricks of supporting terrorist sympathisers with our money ?

The Mayor is not elected or paid to waste our money on "Foreign Policy" issues, but his actions can and do reflect badly on London's international reputation abroad.

The Times reports further evidence of disarray amongst the London 2012 Olympics bid team:

"London Olympics team loses another top player

July 06, 2004
By Andrew Pierce

BARBARA CASSANI has relinquished her high-profile role in London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, triggering the resignation of one of the architects of the campaign.

Ms Cassani, who stepped down as chairwoman in May to become vice-chair, agreed to give up those duties a week ago after a meeting with Lord Coe, the double Olympic gold medallist and former Tory MP who replaced her as chairman.

The latest scaling down of Ms Cassani's responsibilities prompted the immediate resignation of Jane Willacy, the project manager.

In her resignation letter, a copy of which has been passed to The Times, Ms Willacy made a withering condemnation of the management of the bid. In a scarcely concealed attack on Lord Coe, she complained that there was "no apparent decision-making process, and no leadership". Ms Willacy, 47, added that the organisation required a "leader that will understand what needs to be fought for in a 'winning' bid and the stamina and guts to fight for it ".

Although Ms Cassani will continue working on "technical aspects" of the bid, she is no longer expected to play a significant role. She will not draw a salary but will retain the title of vice-chair. Ms Cassani, founder of the Go airline, will travel to Athens for the Olympic Games this summer at her own expense. Friends of Ms Cassani, 43, confirmed that her role had been downgraded and said she would continue working on a voluntary basis. "She is prepared to do whatever she is asked, " one associate said.

Her effective demotion has angered some of the staff, at the campaign headquarters on the 50th floor of London's Canary Wharf, who were not told for a week. Ms Cassani's failure to turn up for a key meeting last Tuesday prompted a flurry of rumours. Her departure was confirmed at a meeting on Friday.

In her two-page resignation letter to Keith Mills, the bid's chief executive, Ms Willacy, said that she was "grossly disappointed" at the the way London 2012 was run. The letter, dated June 28, was copied to the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the Greater London Authority.

She alleged that individual personal agendas had been allowed to compromise the quality of the bid, adding: "Those who worry more about where they will be in August 2005 rather than the result in July 2005 will never produce the best results for you.

"To be specific, I'm also concerned that our public relations campaign and show of government/public support are wholly inadequate."

One employee, who talked to The Times, said Ms Cassani's departure had caused pandemonium, that London 2012 was riven by internal power feuds and morale had slumped.

Ms Cassani was appointed leader of the London 2012 Olympic bid in June last year because Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, felt that she was the hungriest candidate.

But she swapped jobs with Lord Coe in May, a day after London was named by the International Olympic Committee as one of the five cities on the short-list to stage the Games. It was in third place.

The message from international Olympic chiefs was that ministers must get a grip on the capital's transport infrastructure if it is to have any chance of winning the Games."

The whole waste of public money involved with the London 2012 Olympics bid, demonstrated by the lack of true financial and leadership support from the Government, which we have noted in the past, seems to be coming home to roost.

Why is the Post Office managing to sneak 5 to 8 Post Office closures per Borough without a word of protest from the Mayor or the GLA ?

"Hundreds of Post Offices face the axe
By Jason Beattie, Evening Standard Political Correspondent
5 July 2004

Royal Mail chiefs stand accused today of seriously depleting London's network of post offices.

Since December 2002, 190 post offices in the capital have either been shut or earmarked for closure. Another 120 may also be at risk.

Critics claim the cutbacks will change permanently the face of London's high streets. They say post offices are crucial to the commercial future of some areas.

The scale of the closures has been masked by the decision to spread the programme over two years, and to announce the closures only on a constituencybyconstituency basis.

The strategy has enabled the Post Office to avoid a public backlash."

Surely Ken Livingstone et al are meant to be concerned with London wide issues ?

Instead, they seem to be wasting time and money on decisions about a statue of Nelson Mandela in Trafalagar Square.

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